Middle East: The post Sykes-Picot order (Part 5)

Middle East : Sykes-Picot
Middle East : Sykes-Picot

Redrawing the Middle East borders might not be a solution

The different variations of the re-drawn Middle East borders all include a Kurdish state. The Kurds, who live scattered across Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran, have already enjoyed decades of virtual independence under an autonomous government in northern Iraq (the mountainous part of what was once the Ottoman province of Mosul) and they have established three autonomous “cantons” in northern Syria. Beyond Kurdistan, however, the case for separate new nations becomes much less clear, despite the ethnic and sectarian horrors that torment the region today.

While artificially created, the post-Ottoman states have proven resilient. Lebanon, a country of some 18 religious communities, survived a bloody, multi-sided civil war from 1975 to 1990 and has repeatedly defied predictions of its imminent demise. It remains an island of relative stability amid the current regional upheaval, even as it is being overwhelmed by more than a million Syrian refugees. Also, despite the ethnic cleansing of recent years, Sunnis and Shiites still live together in many parts of Iraq, including Baghdad, and a great many Syrian Sunnis would still rather live in cities controlled by the Assad regime than in war-ravaged areas under rebel sway.

The only recent partition of an Arab country – the split of Sudan into the Arab north and the new, largely non-Arab Republic of South Sudan in 2011 – doesn’t provide an encouraging precedent for would-be makers of new borders. South Sudan quickly slid into a civil war of its own that has killed tens of thousands and uprooted two million people.

There’s also the case of Somalia, which has been through a bitter experience ever since the regime collapsed following the death of President Siad Barre. Somalia has been in chaos for more than 20 years now, and it’s divided into at least three statelets, including Somaliland, which declared its independence two decades ago and it has its own government, police and currency; however, no one recognizes it.

According to researchers of the Middle East question, drawing new borders might not be as efficient as forging a new bottom-up social compact within the region’s existing borders.

The real problem in the Middle East is a collapse not of the borders but of what was happening inside the borders: governments that did not have a lot of legitimacy to start with and did not earn legitimacy with their people.

Source: EURASIA Press&News

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