Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Blood borders

Blood borders offers an interesting take on the conflicts in the Middle East. Essentially we're seeing regional ethnic conflicts between ancient tribal areas .. for example Kurdistan is the home of the Kurdish peoples and spreads between Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and whatever the country is to the north. The Kurds in Iraq have managed to create for themselves an semi-autonomous region and at the same time the Turkish government has been squashing their Kurdish minority.

The borders in the Middle East, and in Africa, were drawn by outsiders during the Colonial times. In the case of the Middle East the borders were created following World War I when the Ottoman Empire crumbled to dust. The outsiders didn't have in mind the interests of the locals, but instead their interests was the most effective control of the region from the outside.

But the conflicts going on are trying to unravel the artificial borders, and let ethnic groups who clearly occupy given areas to have their own homelands. Except that there is this system of existing national borders which are being maintained.

A few years ago I had a map showing a similar situation in Europe. The European countries were made by gluing together formerly independent principalities or kingdoms or whatnot. The ETA separatist movement is sponsored by Basques who want their own homeland. There are dozens of other movements around Europe having the same idea, that old cultures in specific areas of Europe are being eclipsed by national identities they probably see as occupiers of their lands. That's the thinking which led to the Balkan Wars following the disintegration of Yugoslavia.