A recent report emerged earlier this week indicating that five countries in the Middle East and North Africa could soon split up to reform themselves as 14 different independent states.
While at the moment this is pure speculation there has been murmurs in the backrooms and corridors of the US State Department, the British Foreign Office and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for quite some time now about the possible redrawing of colonial era maps plotted out by Monsieur Francois Georges-Picot and his British counterpart, Sir Mark Sykes. This happened around the close of Word War I when the Allies divvied up the spoils of the Ottoman Empire.
Many historians today look at those maps and how the divisions were made by the two European diplomats without taking into consideration historic, tribal, family and ethnic ties, and therefor are not surprised at the violent conflicts that some of these peoples find themselves in today.
So when rumors of redrawing the maps of the area begin to pop up, many are those who believe that this is a long awaited process, and that while it will be born in violence there is not much one can do to avoid what seems to be unavoidable.
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The five countries concerned are Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
The current civil war in Syria will act as a curtain raiser, setting the scene for what is to follow, perhaps with less violence than what is playing itself out in Syria, or then again perhaps with even greater violence.
Syria could see itself becoming three states: an Alaouite state that would dominate the area around the coast and the hills surrounding the port city of Latakia, and extending probably as far south as the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli, home currently to Lebanon’s Alawouite minority and who remain ardently pro-Bashar Assad.
Next, the Syrian Kurds would break away and with their brethren in neighboring Iraq, join up to finally create a free and independent Kurdistan.
And then the remaining Syrian Sunnis would create their own state along with portions of Lebanon’s and Iraq’s Sunnis.
The “domino effect” much like the initial incidents that triggered the Arab Spring in 2011, would have much the same effect here with Saudi Arabia finding itself cut into a number of smaller states.
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There would be a break-away attempt by the majority populated Shia’ Eastern Province – where most of the country’s oil installations are located. Obviously, such an attempt would not be without very strong resistance from the royal family. Then the country could see itself possible split into four or five states, including a Vatican-like status from the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Regardless of the outcome a civil war in Saudi Arabia is bound to have a huge impact on the oil markets, seeing that the country’s current production of 10 million barrels p/and as the world’s second-largest producer of oil, would be reduced.
However, assuming – and again this pure speculation – assuming that not all these wars would be going on simultaneously, by the time the war got around to perturbing the flow of Saudi oil production and export, the newly found fields in Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus and Syria would have come on line, filling the world’s needs.
Claude Salhani is editor of ArabSpringNow.com and a specialist in the Middle East, terrorism and politicized Islam. He tweets @claudesalhani. His latest book, Inauguration Day, is available exclusively on line at amazon.com.
By. Claude Salhani