News / Middle East

    Analysts: Arab Uprisings Could Redraw Middle East Map

    Analysts: Arab Uprisings Could Redraw Middle East Mapi
    X
    August 08, 2013 3:00 PM
    With civil war raging in Syria and the conflict threatening to pull in neighboring states, there is speculation about possible geopolitical consequences. Analysts say the map of the Middle East could be redrawn for the first time in a century, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Henry Ridgwell
    With civil war raging in Syria and the conflict threatening to draw in neighboring states, there is speculation about possible geopolitical consequences. Analysts say the map of the Middle East could be redrawn for the first time in a century.

    The end of WWI almost 100 years ago signaled the death of the Ottoman Empire.

    Even before the guns fell silent, Britain and France agreed to carve up Ottoman lands, including Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. That was key to understanding the modern Middle East said Michael Clarke, head of the Royal United Services Institute in London. 

    “The Arab world as we know it was established effectively in 1916 by the British and the French in the Sykes-Picot agreement. And it hasn’t changed, hardly at all since then. Nothing very strategic has happened apart from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. And now, this year, for the first time, the map of the Middle East is beginning to be pulled apart,” he said.

    That is being felt most in Syria. The country could fragment, said Robert Lowe of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.

    “The balances of power between so many competing elements at the moment seem almost quite equal. It’s hard any one faction gaining much control. The Kurds have gained a lot of control over their towns and they’re struggling and working to sustain that,” he said.

    When WWI ended, the Kurds were split among Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

    The downfall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 - and Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq - emboldened Kurdish claims for an independent state.

    But Iraq has shown reslience, said Professor Saad Jawad, also at the London School of Economics.

    “First, that they are not prone to go into civil war. Total civil war I mean, like the one Lebanon witnessed in the seventies. And the second thing, that there are no real popular intentions to split the country, even in Iraqi Kurdistan, apart from the parties,” said the professor.

    The scars of Lebanon’s recent civil war are still visible across the capital, Beirut. There are fears that this country too could be torn apart as the Syrian conflict reignites Lebanese rivalries.

    In recent months, dozens have been killed in clashes between rival Sunni and Shi'ite militants.

    The forces unleashed by the Arab uprising could re-draw parts of the Middle East, said Michael Clarke.

    “There is a possibility of the Balkanization of the Levant, where we’ll end up with a series of states, semi-states, contested areas, and disputes. And that is new territory for all of us,” he said.

    But Clarke said the revolutions across the Arab world were in the early stage and the consequences may not be known for years to come.

    You May Like

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    China Seeks On-Off Switch for Internet

    Public asks whose security is cybersecurity law aiming to protect

    UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence

    Burundian government accuses the UN of a campaign of distortion

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora