Human History Horribilis

THE REVENGE OF GEOGRAPHY

WHAT THE MAP TELLS US ABOUT COMING CONFLICTS AND THE BATTLE AGAINST FATE

 

To quote Robert D. Kaplan “In order to understand today’s current events—religious conflict, war, and political instability—one need look no further than a map.”  Cartography is an interesting and most fascinating subject, especially if one wants to study history and can we understand more about our present world by studying maps. There are many different and diverse subjects that are related to maps such as, and not limited to the following: Toponymy, Hydronymy, Demonym, Ethnonym (polito-ethnonym and topo-ethnonym), Diaspora, Exonym, Endonym, Onomastics, Critical Cartography, Geoinformatics, Historical and Thematic Maps.

Here are several maps worth considering when looking at the current geopolitical tension and conflict in the Middle East.

UN_Palestine_Partition_Versions_1947

Mandate_for_Palestine_(legal_instrument).svg

640px-MPK1-426_Sykes_Picot_Agreement_Map_signed_8_May_1916

If one looks at the maps (ancient and modern) and this post will only briefly look at 2oth Century maps, one can obtain a clearer understanding of where we are at today regarding some of the conflict in the Middle East. The Chester Concession approved by the congress of the newly founded Republic of Turkey on April 10, 1923, allowed United States development of oil and railways. It was an award of the significant importance and marked the introduction of U.S. capital for the first time on a large scale into the Near East. The same type of agreement (Baghdad Railway) was a major cause of the anxiety which led the Ottoman Empire to World War IGermany had obtained concessions from Ottoman Empire which allowed German companies to construct railways. (Wikipedia)

OttomanEmpireIn1683

The Ottoman Empire at its greatest extent, in 1683

Some view the Twentieth Century as ‘One Hundred Years of War’ and the first quarter of that century was riddled with conflict that saw changes and a shift in the balance of power. One poses the question here are there any parallels here between the first quarter of last century and the Twenty First Century. Whatever the answer to the question may just be found in our history and if history can teach us anything, may it be the wisdom to not make the same mistakes again this century.

The last Caliphate was The Ottoman Caliphate which ended with the abolition when the National Assembly that had been newly created and declared Turkey as a republic 1923 circa. After almost seven hundred years the empire ceased to exist and with this new government a sweeping set of changes occurred under Atatürk and one such reform was that the National Assembly abolished the Caliphate on March 3, 1924. The caliphate was the core leader concept of Sunni Islam, by the consensus of the Muslim majority in the early centuries.

There have been calls by groups such as the Mujahideen, al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, Jemaah Islamiyah and now the newest call by what was ISIS and now has been altered in name to Islamic State, for a new Caliphate. To understand better this current situation in the Middle East, one has to have a better understanding of the differences between the current Shia-led Iraqi Government  ( eighteen provinces in Iraq) and the religious groups within the country and the sectarian violence between Iraq’s religious groups.

The Shia majority in Iraq have some groups that support the Assad regime in Syria, which many Sunni factions stand against and now there has been an galvanizing effect between the two countries with this newest stand by the Islamic State aka ISIS. The map below shows the June military situation with who controls what geographically.

Green-Syrian Opposition  Pink light-Syrian Government Pink dark - Iraqi Government Grey - ISIS Yellow dark - Syrian Kurds Yellow light - Iraqi Kurds

Green-Syrian Opposition
Pink light-Syrian Government
Pink dark – Iraqi Government
Grey – ISIS
Yellow dark – Syrian Kurds
Yellow light – Iraqi Kurds

 

The Hadith, or the translation and or reporting of the deeds and sayings of Muhammad is most controversial and includes Sharia Law. Sunni and Shia hadith collections differ because scholars from the two traditions differ as to the reliability of the narrators and transmitters. Narrators who took the side of Abu Bakr and Umar rather than Ali, in the disputes over leadership that followed the death of Muhammad, are seen as unreliable by the Shia; narrations sourced to Ali and the family of Muhammad, and to their supporters, are preferred. Sunni scholars put trust in narrators, such as Aisha, whom Shia reject. Differences in hadith collections have contributed to differences in worship practices and shari’a law and have hardened the dividing line between the two traditions. (Wikipedia)

So what we have is a most highly complex religion that has become polarised. Shia and Sunni beg to differ on religion. Now one can see where some of the conflict begins as one side claims that their belief is more in line with the Muslim faith. Okay so how did we get to where we are today in the Middle East where brother fights brother and state fights state. The Hadith – Muhammad al Bukhari (810-870 AD) travelled for eighteen years through various Islamic lands and then returned home to Bukhara where he wrote a consequential text (Sahih al-Bukhari) the central collection of Hadith, or “narratives” taken from the life and words of Muhammad.

Other Hadith have been written, but al-Bukhari’s is considered by Sunnis to be second in authority only to the Qur’an (Koran) and gives a guideline covering thousands of activities from birth to death. In the Qur’an (Koran)  the following is of concern regarding tensions in the Middle East because of the relationship between the Jewish State of Israel and the Muslim world. The Qur’an (Koran) is a 114-chapter recitation that Muslims believe God spoke through the Prophet.

In Chapter Five  of the  Qur’an (Koran) (Surah 5 – Al-Ma idah) Section Eight: Relations of Muslims with Their Enemies 51- O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors:* they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily God guides not a people unjust. The * note here states the following footnote: That is, look not to them for help and comfort. They are more likely to combine against you than to help you. And this happened more than once in the lifetime of the Prophet, and in after-ages again and again. He who associates with them and shares their counsels must be counted as of them. The trimmer loses whichever way the wheel of fortune turns.

There is much angst and multi-generational hatred and mistrust that still lingers between various sectarian groups. Between Sunni & Shia there is a complex battle which we are witnessing today in the Middle East. Now, if we are to also add to this the complexity of adding the state of Israel into the situation, it becomes even more complex. Without a doctorate in theology one is left a tad perplexed by the complexities of the various religious groups in the Middle East…Judaism, Alawite, Sunni, Shia for example. So what happened in the middle of last century at the end of the second World War, and did the action have a reaction creating the messy situation today?

At the end of WWII the Middle East was divided into specific sovereign territories. At the end of the Second World War, the region’s states finally obtained independence. But the creation of the State of Israel and the failure of attempts to create Arab unity left the Middle East deeply divided.

The borders were drawn without regard for the wishes of the people living there, or along ethnic, geographic, or religious boundaries – they were truly arbitrary. It is important to note that even today, political borders in the Middle East do not indicate different groups of people. The differences between Iraqis, Syrians, Jordanians, etc. were entirely created by the European colonizers as a method of dividing the Arabs against each other.

http://www.globalissues.org/article/119/the-middle-east-conflict-a-brief-background

The trajectory that was set for the last century had roots back to the conflict that was left over from the previous century…and so it goes without saying that the trajectory that we have set for ourselves as a species, was done so in the latter half of last century. As the United States of America is about to celebrate on the 4th of July, maybe every American can make a change by giving some serious thought to making their government responsible and changing foreign policy.

In the 21st century, U.S. influence remains strong but, in relative terms, is declining in terms of economic output compared to rising nations such as China, India, Russia, Brazil, and the newly consolidated European Union. Substantial problems remain, such as climate changenuclear proliferation, and the specter of nuclear terrorism. Foreign policy analysts Hachigian and Sutphen in their book The Next American Century suggest all six powers have similar vested interests in stability and terrorism prevention and trade; if they can find common ground, then the next decades may be marked by peaceful growth and prosperity. (Wikipedia)

If anything is certain regarding the future of the Middle East it is that human history will record more unnecessary conflict and war that is a mixture of economics, politics and religion that the writer terms “Horribilis”.

     

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Transformative Tyranny (Tyrannosaurus rex ) Terror

Transformative

Tyranny (Tyrannosaurus rex ) Terror

schleich-trex

To change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.

The government or rule of a tyrant or absolute ruler.

Any period of frightful violence or bloodshed

likened to the Reign of Terror in France.

Tyrannosaurus Rex  –  A large, carnivorous dinosaur that walked on two legs. 

Its name is from the Greek words meaning “tyrant” and “lizard”and the Latin word for “king.”

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The African Union has member states which comprise Saharan and Sub Saharan countries – http://www.au.int/en/member_states/countryprofiles

( no guarantee accuracy of information )

The history of African countries can be divided into three periods.

Pre Colonisation – Colonisation – Decolonisation.

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During the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century, Western European powers divided Africa and its resources into political partitions at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. By 1905, control of almost all African soil was claimed by Western European governments, with the only exceptions being Liberia (which had been settled by African-American former slaves) and Ethiopia (which had successfully resisted colonization by Italy). Britain and France had the largest holdings, but GermanySpainItalyBelgium, andPortugal also had colonies. As a result of colonialism and imperialism, Africa lost not only its sovereignty, but also control of its natural resources like gold and rubber. Europeans often justified this using the concept of the White Man’s Burden, an obligation to “civilize” the people of Africa.[citation needed]

Critics say that the process of African decolonization from the 1950s to the 1970s turned what were relatively well-ordered and peaceful territories administered by the efficient bureaucracies and legal traditions of the Western European empires into violent, inefficient and corrupt socialist dictatorships or right-wing family dictatorships with little regard for international rule of law and human rights and riddled with civilturf wars, barbaric political purges, mass refugee crises, famines and ethnic conflict.[2] –

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decolonization_of_Africa

map

Decolonisation and a brief look at Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) post Mugabe 2014. It must be noted here that this is not a diatribe regarding either the country or the current leader of Zimbabwe.

It is a brief look at the future and there are several possible scenarios for Zimbabwe, from peaceful to armed conflict.

His Excellency Robert Gabriel Mugabe the President of Zimbabwe is the only president of Zimbabwe, since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Right now, two broad factions are thought to be jockeying for position. The moderates, led by vice-president Joyce Mujuru, dominate key positions within the party leadership and seem to have significant grassroots support. The hardliners, under the direction of perennial eminence grise Emmerson Mnangagwa (now the justice minister), have the advantage of ruthlessness and a tight grip on the all-important security services.

In July 2013 Zimbabwe held an election that saw the current ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front) government retain power under the leadership of Mugabe. The opposition party MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) no longer has the possibility of being an effective opposition party, relegated to spending time lost in the political wilderness. There currently is no opposition party to the current government.  http://www.zanupf.org.zw/

H.E. R.G. Mugabe is about to turn 90 years of age in one month and whilst there are those who believe that he is mightier than Jesus Christ because we are still waiting for Christ’s return, Mugabe has died and been resurrected many times. We are mortal and there will come a time when the news will report the passing of ‘Cde Bob’. It is this period that is of concern to political analysts because of the ineffectiveness in Zimbabwe of the African Union & S.A.D.C.

The Republic of South Africa under the current Zuma government is facing an election this year and it is probable that the current government will not be retained. There are external influences that will not be discussed here because they are classified and not for general broadcast. These vested external influencing factors are far greater than the African Union and involve China, Russia & Brasil along with some other countries.

Currently there are far bigger global strategic defence issues that take a priority such as these examples – South China Seas, Syria, South Sudan, Egypt, Iraq and others not mentioned.

This year is the year to build bridges. The Western media portrays Zimbabwe in a certain way and we therefore have a preconceived notion of what the country is like. What do you know about Zimbabwe and have you ever visited the country ?

One questions why the Australian & American governments do not do more to reach out to Zimbabwe and to work in a collaborative and consultative approach to assist in the transition that will take place at some stage.

The are three ‘T’ words in the heading of this post which were used to gain attention and there are also three ‘T’ words that could have been selected…Truth, Trust & Transparency.

History will be the only way of knowing the future of Zimbabwe and H.E. R.G. Mugabe will be recorded as the freedom fighter who lead the country out of the colonial repression that existed under the Ian Smith government.