Why do Sunni jihadists of the Islamic State, Iran-backed Shiite militants, and Kurdish militants of PKK and allied groups still find in the Iraq-Syria border a space to operate and consolidate their positions vis-à-vis their rivals? The answer lies in the disintegration of the apparatuses of the central state.
Pashtuns living in the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan have often been described as “lawless,” their existence defined by “rebellion” against rulers as disparate as the Mughals and the British. All have offered one solution: state violence.
The obstacles are daunting, but no law of nature dictates that Lebanon must remain last in line to make an honorable and complete peace with its neighbor to the south, one that secures the interests of the “Precarious Republic” and its citizens.
The maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon has implications for the claims of other states and the energy industry’s perception of the region as a viable space for development. If Israel and Lebanon manage to work out their differences, others may follow suit.
Five years, three countries, and a pile of immigration paperwork later, I can honestly say that borders have shaped, challenged, and strengthened our love for one another. Still, I know that borders could have just as easily broken us.
This year marks the centenary of one of those malicious acts of history: the partition of Ireland, the establishment of a sectarian statelet in the northeast of the island, and the beginning of a whole new set of injustices that have fueled successive outbursts of civil strife.
The Middle East’s post-Ottoman borders are seen as an ugly embodiment of the way colonialism, nationalism and the 20th-century state dismembered the region. But the Middle East’s new political regimes solidified these lines in the sand with fortified borders.