The Spring 2014 issue of inFOCUS has as its theme “Borders, Nations and Conflict.” 1914 was the last time the world’s major empires were fully in control of their disparate possessions. By the time WWI ended, the Ottoman (1299-1923) and Habsburg Empires (1526-1918) had expired, and the French (1605-1960) and British (1603-1949) Empires were mortally wounded.
In the Middle East, countries emerged that crossed traditional tribal and ethnic lines, producing anomalies with few or no historic roots within their borders, or affinity among the people residing there. The borders, ideologies, and loyalties that emerged then remain the source of ethnic, religious, and nationalist tension—and warfare. Now the region is changing again and, as Major General (res.) Amos Gilad tells readers in his interview, “The lines in the atlas do not exist on the ground.”
Our authors explain the region as it is, not as the maps say it should be: Gabriel Scheinmann gives us the starting point. Clare Lopez re-defines the arc of countries north of Israel and Sherkoh Abbas, Robert Sklaroff, and Joseph Puder make a case for righting an historic wrong for the region’s Kurds. Harold Rhode parses tribal, religious and ethnic loyalties that are far more relevant than national borders. Simon Henderson and Emanuele Ottolenghi look at the Sunni Arab States and Iran respectively—facing off over the waterway they can’t even call by the same name. Yoram Schweitzer, Shlomo Brom, and Shani Avita assess Egypt’s anti-jihadist policies in Sinai. General Gilad and Ofir Haivry see military and political opportunities—as well as risks—for Israel. Stephen Bryen sees the same for the United States.
Don’t miss the full interview with General Gilad, one of Israel’s key strategic thinkers.
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Matthew Brooks, Executive Director