Artificial nation states
created in colonial times
are not ‘countries’
A map of the Ottoman Empire in 1914. Note how much of the territory is now embroiled in violent conflict.
THE HEADLINES ARE FILLED these days with violent events unfolding in many countries in the Middle East.
Of course, the worst is the civil war in Syria – which has been ongoing for two years and there is no end in sight.
But its neighbor Turkey is also seeing a recent surge in violent anti-government protests – or, more correctly, violent police suppression of the protests.
The BBC’s Lyse Doucet on Monday morning reports from Damascus, Syria, in a story titled: Why Syria war is also EU’s fight that world leaders will be meeting in Northern Ireland for a G8 summit “set to be dominated by the conflict in Syria. Much of the debate will focus on the issue of sending arms to the rebels,” she said.
“The Syrian government has warned that such a move would fuel the rise of Islamist groups, who are now attracting large numbers of foreign fighters.”
World leaders are considering intervention. But they obviously have not learned the lessons of history – or are simply ignoring them.
WATCH VIDEO BELOW THE FOLD
A current map of the Middle East. Notice how many of the countries “borders” are simply straight lines drawn on a map.
GOING BACK a couple years, there have been violent insurrections in Tripoli, Lybia, Egypt and Bahrain, among others. Some are ongoing.
Then there is Iraq, the country America destroyed in 2003. There, too, an upsurge in inter-sectarian violence has been in the news.
While to the casual observer there may seem to be no connection between all of these events, a well-considered and informed analysis reveals there is.
Many of these territories were once part of the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed in the 18th century. During the following hundred years, it was carved up between the British and French.
When the British and French empires began their decline, they dumped these territories by creating artificial nation-states.
Just look at the map today. Notice how many of the borders are simply straight lines? Some government official arbitrarily drew a line on the map and called it the border of the country.
These are not now and never have been true nation states.
MORE APPROPRIATELY they are artificially created entities consisting of tribal groups many with different religious beliefs and wide ethnic variances.
For much of the 20th century, they were forcibly held together by dictators – Assad, Hussein, Gadhafi – who’s iron-fisted rule precluded much internecine conflict.
Not all of it, however. Remember the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran? Secularists vs. Islamists?
An obscure analysis on YouTube by Voice Articles is the only thing I could find that pulls together a similar them.
Entitled “Will War in the Middle East Eventually Begin the Battle of Armageddon” the article published May 25 is more biblical than philosophical:
“Will history eventually disintegrate into a global holocaust of devastating chaos like many religious people say?”
It approaches the subject from the perspective of Armageddon.
But 21st-century politics are somewhat different.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin at a press conference on June 16.
In a joint press conference June 16 with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russia’s Vladimir Putin defends his decision to sell weapons to Syria’s Assad. From the BBC: “In Syria conflict Putin insists Russia ‘not breaching law” Russia is not breaching any laws by supplying arms to “the legitimate government of Syria,” the Russian president said.
Speaking after talks at Downing Street, Mr. Putin said “blood was on the hands of both parties” in the conflict. (WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW)
Putin and Cameron agreed that the long-planned Geneva conference, which hopes to find a political resolution to the crisis, was “the most appropriate means of resolving the Syrian issue.”
But Syria is only the most urgent part of the problem. Even if the country does not disintegrate, the spreading violent conflict in the region does not bode well for all its neighbors.
Scholars should at this time be examining whether it is worth any country’s soldiers’ lives or taxpayer’s money to try to sustain by military intervention these artificial nation states.
It seems inevitable they will break up into warring clans with irreconcilable differences.
What do you think? Express your opinions in the comments below.