The map is being redrawn, in blood.

It's happening.

As Greg Sheridan poignantly said in today's paper: 

It is impossible now to believe that Syria and Iraq will ever be reconstituted as the states that they were. The map of the Middle East is being redrawn, and it is covered in blood.

I don't usually agree with the man, but Sheridan's article is worth the read.  It raises many a salient point, and the crux of it is this: times are changing.

What is happening in the Middle East is not the result of any one action or event, although some contributed more than others.  The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was not great for the region's stability, but the blame does not lie solely there.  Nouri al-Maliki, the installed Prime Minister of Iraq for example, had plenty of opportunity to bring the various religious sects together in some manner but failed to do so effectively.  Yet, this again isn't the only factor.

Alas, the lessons of history.

What is happening in the Middle East is not due to a recent phenomenon.  In our conversations around the causes, the effects of the first gulf war are often omitted.

More importantly, the lay of the land pre the World Wars are ignored.

This is the map of the Middle East in 1914.

Middle East in 1914

This is the rough map of the region now.


Notice any differences?

I can claim no superior knowledge of the region and am no historian, political scientist or expert of any sort. However, the argument can be made that the construct of the 'state' as we know it is an unnatural relic of the colonial era.

Sudan, my country of birth, is a classic example.  Straight lines make (or made) our borders.  Tribes that make up nations follow the land, not straight lines! Boundaries were drawn through tribes, and land was divided up by colonisers in ways that suited their ends.  The 'states' as we know them today aren't necessarily a true reflection of the allegiances within the nation.

This was brought to my attention most keenly last summer when I asked a cousin why they weren't fighting to free Sudan from the current dictator.

"Why should I care about what happens to Sudan? What has Sudan done for me? If I want to be taken care of, in health, education, resources, anything, I turn to my tribe. Sudan as a country is useless..."

Although that may be a reflection of poor governance, the essence rings true.  The entire region is tribal, sectarian and bonded through links that those wanting to colonise - or sometimes even help - may not always completely understand.  As such, to expect people to cling to borders and national identities that are so very new may be difficult...

Sheridan may be right. This may be the end of the liberal international order as we know it, but perhaps it may make way for an order that better reflects the natural state and allegiances individuals have...


The hope that it may lead to something better is simply a reaction.  

My reaction; a scrambling attempt to see some good and benefit in a situation that is so brutal, callous, violent and cruel that my mind can barely comprehend it.

How we as humans are capable of such is beyond me.

Yet, for a generation that has been brought up on bloodshed, how can we expect any different?