Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pheonecia Reborn?

I came across this article in the comment section of another blog and decided to put up the maps given the source (Armed Forces Journal). Don't expect to find anything in depth in the article but some might enjoy it (depending on what side of which border they sit on!).

Here are some quick quotes:

"The boundaries projected in the maps accompanying this article redress the wrongs suffered by the most significant "cheated" population groups, such as the Kurds, Baluch and Arab Shia, but still fail to account adequately for Middle Eastern Christians, Bahais, Ismailis, Naqshbandis and many another numerically lesser minorities. And one haunting wrong can never be redressed with a reward of territory: the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians by the dying
Ottoman Empire."

"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. 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."


  1. BS

    Your last post, in particular the last paragraph, made me start worrying in serious about your personal security. If you need bodyguards or something just post it in the comments section. We will try to improvise something for you.

  2. Haha.

    Well I'll say that I do agree with the author of the article about the 'unjustness' of the colonial-era borders both Africa and the Middle East are burdened with.

    Whether the maps they present are a viable solution or not is something else.

    Sticking to the quotes I'd say that that proposed Sunni state would be pretty poor (even if it does combine with Syria) as they would only have a limited supply of natural gas and barely any oil, not to mention they'd be goodluck trying to sell that!

    As far as Lebanon is concerned, earlier French mandate maps had sought to separate Lebanon from Syria along lines far different from the ones that makeup our border today. Essentially what happened was that the Maronite church in Lebanon (the sect most closely linked to the French) used its influence to change the borders so as to give the Maronite populations a majority in the small country.

    Either way the demographic advantage was shortlived as higher birthrates among Lebanon's other sects caught up with the one-sided political system put in place at the time...

    ...the rest is history!

    PS - With the exception of a few areas, opinions like those expressed in the quoted article are found all over Lebanon. People usually express them with no fear for their personal security whatsoever.

    But thanks for caring Nobody...tear.

  3. B.S.

    I was more worried about possible reaction to your post outside Lebanon.

    Though you only quote from outside source, i still have my doubts. I think you should check the issue with the pope Benedictus XVI. He is now considered to be the worlds top expert on socio political implications involved in quoting other people.

  4. But what is the rationale behind Lebanon appropriating the syrian mediteranean coast? The map as i see is drawn along ethnic lines.

    ( Not that i mind, by the way, so much, from my point of view you can take all of Syria. We can even hold negotiations about repartitioning the middle east between our countries: you take Syria and parts of Turkey, we the West Bank. )

  5. The original French mandate plans for the division of Lebanon included a significant strip of along northern Syria. The area is home to a number of minorities in the region - Christians (predominantly Orthodox Christians), Armenians, and Alawites - along with a Sunni majority.

    After the Syrian Baathist revolution a lot of these wealthy minorities' wealth and property was confiscated by the socialist-leaning state leading to their emigration in large numbers to Lebanon.

    Perhaps this is what the authors of the article had in mind in redrawing the map in the way they did. Or perhaps they thought to continue Lebanon's legacy as a safehaven for the Middle East's persecuted minorities.

    In either case its unclear what fate would've awaited Lebanon had the borders not been changed (we know what happened after they were changed).

    Would a Lebanon with a Sunni majority have united more readily with Syria and Egypt under Nasser's United Arab Republic? Would the Shiite populations of south Lebanon - who's villages would have fallen on the Syrian side of the border had it not been for the Maronite intervention - have faced the same fate as their cousins in Iraq (the new Syria would've had the same demographic makeup - with a higher Sunni percentage - as modern day Iraq)? Would the Christians in Lebanon - now dominated by the historically more complacent Orthodox Church - have employed the same policies as those employed by the Maronites in the defense of lebanon's Christians' domestic interests?

    Interesting questions.

  6. Pheonecia never existed to be reborn again, so you might want to change the title of your post...

  7. This map is a reflection of wishfull thinking that is not based on realities on the ground. The US general who imagined this map is ignorant of the history and peoples of the middle east.

  8. Perhaps this is what the authors of the article had in mind in redrawing the map in the way they did. Or perhaps they thought to continue Lebanon's legacy as a safehaven for the Middle East's persecuted minorities.


    Anyway I think the authors of the map did not take into account Lebanon's long term geopolitical interests. The correctly drawn map of new mideast borders should try to insert some third country between Lebanon and Syria. (and probably between Lebanon and Israel too)

  9. I by the way disagree with debate that this map was imagined by the US general. What does catch the eye is the total shiite control over oil fields. Mind you it when i looked at this map i finally got the idea why the Saudies and others are so paranoic about Iran. Lets say if Iran and Shiites could make the borders reflect the ethnic realities they would have ruled the world.

  10. After writing that last comment on this post I was starting to think that the comments have been more interesting than the post itself.

    But then again that was the point of this post. I think everyone understood that I didn't mean the map presented above should be taken too seriously, but it brings up topics of interest that I think a lot of people are interested in far I think its been a success.

    As for the title, I quite like it, its direct quote of a contraversial phrase in the text, so u know...people might be pleased with that, and it certainly sparks interest in the post, which is a good thing. As far as Pheonecia's existence is concerned...well there's a question mark indicating a potential conflict within the term u know it works...

    ...How's that for semantics ;)

  11. I actually think that you can use this map very practically to predict where the next trouble will come from. Its like seeing tectonic plates with arrows indicating whether they are moving towards each other or are going to split. It gives one visually a very good idea along which tectonic lines the future earthquakes would strike

  12. One of the many hotbeds of tension that I'm sure will feature more and more on the news lies in Bahrain. The country now is an increasingly unmanageable state with more than 60% of the population being Shiite and living well below average income of the state (25% of young Shiite adults in the country are unemployed). As Shiite empowerment spreads through the region, this small country of 700,000 people, 1 US naval (the 5th I think) fleet, and 1 Michael Jackson is a volcano of sectarian tension ready to explode!

    Here are a couple of quick quotes from the US State dept's peice on Bahrain:

    "Although there are notable exceptions, the Sunni Muslim minority enjoys a favored status. Sunnis often receive preference for employment in sensitive government positions and in the managerial ranks of the civil service. Shi'a citizens do not hold significant posts in the defense and internal security forces, although they are allowed to be employed in the enlisted ranks."

    "Although there are exceptions, the Sunni Muslim minority enjoys a favored status. In the private sector, Shi'a tend to be employed in lower paid, less skilled jobs. Educational, social, and municipal services in most Shi'a neighborhoods are inferior to those found in Sunni communities."

    And thats just from searching for the word 'employed' in the text...try searching for the word 'shi'a'.


  13. You know, BS, with whats going on now in Iraq, to say that bahrein is the next in line is like saying 'it's coming, guys'.

    I think that the American fisco in Iraq started some sunni shia dynamics in the region that may make pheonecia not such a far fetched idea. Even deporting Michael Jackson may not help

  14. Nobody said:
    I by the way disagree with debate that this map was imagined by the US general.

    Mr Nobody you cannot disagree with a fact, this map was indeed imagined by a US general who is ignorant of the history of the near east. Go check that for yourself.

    If you read the article carefully you will notice the extent of the wishful thinking involved. Driven by a desire to cause civil wars and spread chaos. I find that this map is not serious enough to warrant a serious debate. This map is indeed a joke, the 5 most powerful states loose (Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan), while states that are weak or don’t even exist gain!
    I don't wish to talk about each single country because as I said, it's not worth it. But similar critiques hold. So, I will provide you with a small sample that will prove my point, and if you are not convinced I will keep on providing samples until you are.
    2 small samples. First, why doesn’t Kuwait cease to exist by being encircled by the imagined Shia state, wouldn’t its Shia citizens want to be part? Second, any reasonable person will tell you that if Syria is to be divided, the Alawite mountains if they are to be annexed will most likely go to Turkey not Lebanon, Turkey who already annexed half of them in 1938 (liwa al Iskandaron).
    With such obvious aberration and mistakes, this map is nothing more that a joke.

    Thank you all for your false interest.

    Let’s focus now on Lebanon and the potential civil war inside Lebanon.

  15. debate

    I dont think that there is a vicious design behind this map. When i said that it was nt imagined by ignorant US general i just intended to say that if you look at it, the map actually gives the shiites control over most oil resources.

    The fact that the most powerful states lose can be of course interpreted as a desire to remove potential regional leaders. On another hand its the powerful states that tweaked the borders according to their interests. So obviosuly any attempt to redress the situation favoring ethnic minorities would mean mostly weakening these states.

    I dont know so much about kuweit shiites but i read that they are around 30 %, the rest are sunnies. I may be wrong

    But anyway, if u so insist i will try to focus harder on the potential civil war inside Lebanon. But what i do if it won't happen ?


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