Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Redrawn Map of Syria & Iraq linguistically/culturely closer to each other than to Arabs

The New York Times proposes to redrawn the map of the Middle East. In fact this isn't such a bad idea, and the map (adjusted by me) makes the current problems more insightful.
  • Shia: 2nd largest denomination of Islam, connected with Iran. The current PM of Iraq is a Shia.
  • Sunni: largest branch of Islam, connected with Al-Qaeda and Saudi-Arabia. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni.
  • Alawite: branch (sekt) of the Shia Islam. The Syrian president is an Alawite.
  • The Kurds are linguistically/culturally closer related to the Iranian people than to Arabs.
This explains the recent uprisings west of Baghdad where Sunni forces took control of several cities. They want a separate state with the Sunnis in Syria. And it also explains the heave fights near the city of Homs north of Damascus, since it is located in the narrow corridor between the northern and southern parts of the Alawite heartland.

To make matters more complicated there is a large minority of Turks living in northern Iraq.

The cause of many problems is the artificial Syria-Iraq border splitting the green Sunni area in half, the result of the division of the Middle East between France and England after WW1 (Treaty of Sykes–Picot).

next episode: Maria Buturlina


  1. I'm not convinced that these divisions/partitions by 'outsiders' are a good idea. An interesting and illustrative map.

  2. This partition is not some conjuring from outsiders. It roughly conforms to the settlement patterns.

  3. Kurds are not ethnically "Iranian". They may be linguistically/culturely closer to each other than to Arabs but it doesn't make them the same. If you go by that logic then Irish are ethnically Scottish and Portuguese are ethnically Spanish.


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