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A Makeover for the Middle East

January 26, 2009

The most arbitrary state boundaries exist perhaps in the Middle East (and Africa).

European imperial powers had carved the region up like cake, leaving in their wake, disjointed pieces of land–their sovereignty defined by colonially defined contiguity as opposed to sharedness of culture or language.

Of course, the source of a great deal of the conflict that arises in the ME lies in such random drawing of state boundaries by “cheating” certain ethno-linguistic groups viz-a-viz others.

Here’s a defense journal’s attempt at depicting how a more fair re-drawing of borders would look.


The Middle East now:


Notice how badly Pakistan and Turkey get squeezed and Iraq, carved up. Kurdistan is also finally realized. Most interestingly perhaps, the Saudi state loses a lot of territory as well. The author explains:

A root cause of the broad stagnation in the Muslim world is the Saudi royal family’s treatment of Mecca and Medina as their fiefdom. With Islam’s holiest shrines under the police-state control of one of the world’s most bigoted and oppressive regimes — a regime that commands vast, unearned oil wealth — the Saudis have been able to project their Wahhabi vision of a disciplinarian, intolerant faith far beyond their borders. The rise of the Saudis to wealth and, consequently, influence has been the worst thing to happen to the Muslim world…

Imagine how much healthier the Muslim world might become were Mecca and Medina ruled by a rotating council representative of the world’s major Muslim schools and movements in an Islamic Sacred State — a sort of Muslim super-Vatican — where the future of a great faith might be debated rather than merely decreed.

Controversial, yes, but I know many who will take to this idea. It seems too bluntly logical.

In any case, the only way in which borders are re-drawn are through war–rendering the above scenario quite unlikely, unfortunately. At least for now.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mohammad permalink
    January 26, 2009 7:26 pm

    Carving up Saudi Arabia? Isn’t that like haram?

  2. Rob permalink
    January 26, 2009 8:50 pm

    Sounds like a good idea. A Muslim super-vatican! So the marriage between Radical Islam, Oil wealth, and Holiness is ended!

    But point is…its not likely. Nobody has ever questioned Saudi Arabia on anything while we go blue in the face criticizing Afghanistan, Pakistan, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the list can go on and on

  3. January 29, 2009 12:26 pm

    and they call themselves Khadim-e-harmain shareefain

  4. February 9, 2009 4:37 am

    I like the idea, unfortunately the only part that’s at all likely to happen any time soon is the split up of post-occupation Iraq into different Sunni/Shia/Kurdish states. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are never going to allow their territory to be taken away.

    Of course, all bets are off on Saudi Arabia in 50 years or so, when all the oil is gone. But by then many of us might all be underwater.

  5. Azaan permalink
    May 27, 2009 9:30 pm

    Now this is interesting!

    An islamic version of the vatican. Thats actually a good idea. But most of this highly unlikely given Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s vast economic and political influence. Plus, while some are talking of partitioning the middle east (which really isnt an unfair thing to do), theres a more stronger and growing movement for a Pan-Islamic state or re-establishment of the Caliphate. Hizbut Tahrir is actually leading the movement publicly and politically, and they held a 50,000 “gathering of the world’s muslims” in jakarta to promote this cause.

    But i say MOST, not all, of this re drawing is unlikely, because i think Balochistan will end up breaking off from Pakistan. Baloch nationalism is getting hot again and i doubt Pakistan can hold onto the province in the long run. Many Baloch people dont even consider Balochistan as ever being historically part of Pakistan or British India for that matter.

    And plus theres the issue of Kurdistan. If Iraq’s de facto Kurdish state in the north can become a sovereign, independent one, theres plenty of reason to believe that Kurds in Iran and Syria might follow suit. But the doubt arises because of Turkey. Will Turkey, and the United States (as long as it remains turkey’s besy friend) ever allow that to happen?

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