The Arab Spring’s fruit has rotted into renewed autocracy and war. Both engender misery and fanaticism that today threaten the wider world.” – The Economist
There are predictions and there are self-fulfilling prophecies. Our world is becoming a painfully violent and angry place. A gift of such a broken place is the proliferation of demons. The long repressed Arab world failed to make any constructive use of its newly found freedoms. Result? Bedlam!
The most prominent among the demons that have surfaced as a result is a rag-tag band of thugs in Iraq and Syria that promises to tear the region apart if its bid to capture most of these territories of these two countries fails. Call it Daesh, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, the group has already declared caliphate in the areas under its control. As oil fields in the region fall one by one into its hands, the brutal, merciless, Sunni group has already become the world’s richest terror outfit. Sadly, the US and Western powers don’t seem to have a plan to tackle it.
As the countries in the neighbourhood look wearily, a bigger challenge is emerging. That of Balkanisation. There is a reason why the world doesn’t have caliphate anymore. It is almost impossible to sustain a super-state these days. While the sheer brutality at display may doom the project from the very outset, the real fear is that the insecurity faced by the majorities might lead them to carve out their smaller states from the existing ones. An example is readily available in the shape of Kurdistan. We know following the rise and rise of ISIS, the president of the autonomous Kurdish region has already asked MPs to prepare for a referendum for the independence of Kurdistan that might be only months away.
Let me quote here extensively from an article on the subject. To make a crucial point I will reveal the identity of the author and name of the article at the very end. This is an excerpt on Kurdistan: “The most glaring injustice in the notoriously unjust lands between the Balkan Mountains and the Himalayas is the absence of an independent Kurdish state. There are between 27 million and 36 million Kurds living in contiguous regions in the Middle East (the figures are imprecise because no state has ever allowed an honest census). Greater than the population of present-day Iraq, even the lower figure makes the Kurds the world’s largest ethnic group without a state of its own… But were a free plebiscite to be held, make no mistake: Nearly 100 per cent of Iraq’s Kurds would vote for independence.”
But what will become of the rest of Iraq and Syria? “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.” Hence the ISIS project. “The Shia south of old Iraq would form the basis of an Arab Shia State rimming much of the Persian Gulf.”
These quotes, ladies and gentlemen, are not from any article written a few days ago. These excerpts are from Ralph Peters’ article “Blood Borders” published in 2006 in the US Armed Forces Journal. If you think it is proving to be a self-fulfilling prophecy wait till you read what it says about Pakistan .
Since this domino effect may just redefine the borders across the Muslim world this is what is predicted of us: “Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren (the point of this exercise is not to draw maps as we would like them but as local populations would prefer them). Pakistan, another unnatural state, would also lose its Baloch territory to Free Balochistan. The remaining ‘natural’ Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi.”
Are we there yet? Luckily not. Through a very planned offensive our brave soldiers are taking out terrorists in tribal areas as we speak. But fear of instability now grips the settled areas as our angry opposition groups threaten to march on Islamabad to bring an Arab Spring like revolution in the country. It is for you to decide, dear readers, if we can afford any adventurism at this juncture.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2014.