Five years ago, Ralph Peters wrote an article, Blood Borders. This article looks at the prospect of redrawing borders in lands between the Bosphorus and the Indus. I don’t agree with the redrawing of Israel’s borders, but this map is a good starting point for conversation. I find it amusing that the folks at the Armed Forces Journal who created this map came up with new names, Saudi Homeland Independent Territories and Arab Shia State. I’ve never traveled there, and would like confirmation from any vets that the bold letters reflect thoughts they may have had about some of those inhabitants.
The conflicts I read about today make me wonder if the borders will change. Borders have never been static, and many frontiers, from the Congo through Kosovo to the Caucasus, are changing even now. The following is an excerpt of Ralph Peters’ article.
A just alignment in the region would leave Iraq’s three Sunni-majority provinces as a truncated state that might eventually choose to unify with a Syria that loses its littoral to a Mediterranean-oriented Greater Lebanon: Phoenecia reborn. The Shia south of old Iraq would form the basis of an Arab Shia State rimming much of the Persian Gulf. Jordan would retain its current territory, with some southward expansion at Saudi expense. For its part, the unnatural state of Saudi Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan.
A root cause of the broad stagnation in the Muslim world is the Saudi royal family’s treatment of Mecca and Medina as their fiefdom. With Islam’s holiest shrines under the police-state control of one of the world’s most bigoted and oppressive regimes – a regime that commands vast, unearned oil wealth – the Saudis have been able to project their Wahhabi vision of a disciplinarian, intolerant faith far beyond their borders. The rise of the Saudis to wealth and, consequently, influence has been the worst thing to happen to the Muslim world as a whole since the time of the Prophet, and the worst thing to happen to Arabs since the Ottoman (if not the Mongol) conquest.
While non-Muslims could not effect a change in the control of Islam’s holy cities, imagine how much healthier the Muslim world might become were Mecca and Medina, ruled by a rotating council representative, of the world’s major Muslim schools and movements in an Islamic Sacred State – a sort of Muslim super-Vatican – where the future of a great faith might be debated rather than merely decreed. True justice – which we might not like – would also give Saudi Arabia’s coastal oil fields to the Shia Arabs who populate that subregion, while a southeastern quadrant would go to Yemen. Confined to a rump Saudi Homelands Independent Territory around Riyadh, the House of Saud would be capable of far less mischief toward Islam and the world.
I don’t have a crystal ball, but it seems safe to conclude there will always be a Saudi Homeland Independent Territories Arab Shia State in this part of the world whether it is officially named or not. In 1919, Paris diplomats from more than 30 countries met, discussed and came up with a series of treaties that reshaped the map of Europe and the world. At its center were the leaders of the three “Great Powers”: President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain, and Georges Clemenceau of France. History provides evidence that the “Great Powers” are incapable of fixing and making things better. I do not believe in isolationism, but I do believe arrangements with certain nations could be considered from a transitional perspective vs permanent.