In light of the region's latest agitations, former ambassador Hajrudin Somun reviews the history of Western proposals to draw and redraw Middle East borders.
A new political, social and ideological map of the Middle East is already arising following the broad popular movements pushing to change the deeply fortified authoritarian rule in that region.
Speaking less metaphorically, however, is it possible that the real Middle East geopolitical map, formed after World War I, can be reshaped as a result of the current uprisings?
I doubt I am alone in considering that question in such terms. There are some more or less recent facts, designs, intentions and assumptions that give me good reason to doubt that the present Middle East borders will remain the same in this century as they had been shaped in the previous one.
Even for those who have crossed them so often, and almost on foot like myself, many of the Middle East's borders looked artificial. The new maps were discussed and drawn in London and Paris as the Ottoman Empire was loosing its Arab lands one by one. When it finally collapsed, they were formally approved through international agreements and enforced on the terrain. New regional frontiers were, in fact, the result of old British and French colonial interests, reinforced by newly discovered oil fields. It is always worth recalling how vast and fertile lands around the rivers Jordan, Tigris and Euphrates, together with people living there, were to be ruled by the Arab Hashemite family as a reward for their cooperation in the war against the Turks. One brother was inaugurated as the emir of Transjordan in Amman and another one as the Iraqi king in Baghdad, which he had never even seen before.