Much has been written and said in the past ten years about the potential for splitting Iraq. The argument is mainly that the sects and ethnic groups cannot reach a deal to remain together peacefully within the British-created borders of Iraq. The Kurds want to split away, they are just waiting for when the moment is right (to quote the famous TV ad). The Sunni southwest region is in many ways more like northern Saudi Arabia than Iraq, at least in a tribal sense. There has also been talk of a split of Syria into Alawi, Sunni, and Wahhabi parts (perhaps a Kurdish one as well). We can extend that to some other Arab states; why only Syria and Iraq and Sudan (as happened a couple of years ago) or Somalia (which is bound to happen)? Let us explore a few other cases:
- Saudi Arabia: King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud invaded and annexed several regions to his own Nejdi kingdom in the 20th century. His kingdom can now be divided into three states. The Nejd area will form a Wahhabistan which will keep the current name of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (if they don’t like Wahhabistan). The Hijaz will form another state where they all speak the same dialect of Arabic and say things like ‘ya shaikh’ and ‘ikhtishi’ and ‘koweyiss’ (meaning ‘good’). The smallest state will be along the coast of the Persian-American Gulf, where most of the Shi’as live. The southern part will join the next state on my list in northern Yemen.
- Yemen: the northern most part of Yemen will annex the southern regions that had been usurped by Saudi King Abdulaziz in 1930s. It will be renamed Huthistan. The central part, the rest of the old Yemen will become “Yemen”. Southern Yemen which lost its independence in 1990 to become part of Yemen will regain its freedom and will be renamed the People’s Democratic Republic of
- Bahrain: Shi’as and some others have been in protest mode for more than three years, seeking equality in politics and economics. The Al Khalifa rulers and their tribal and Salafi allies are determined to deny them that right. So why not divide Bahrain into two mini parts: Manama and Muharraq to become one country (perhaps forming one new Saudi province), and the rest, including the neglected villages and townships could become another state of its own. This Shi’a part could be called the Rafidhi State and join the GCC as such. Or maybe it can join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the eighth emirate. Okay, maybe I will send a text message to the shaikh, sorry king, suggesting it (with a copy forwarded to the Saudi king since it will be his decision to make).
- Libya: is already divided into at least two parts: let us keep it that way.
- Morocco: no change, except that the king will have to give up the Sahrawi region.
- Egypt: Egypt has had nearly the same borders for thousands of years, the only Arab country to have this distinction. There are no major tribes or tribal divisions, although there are now deep religious divisions. So Egypt will probably remain the same: bored to death under a boring military ruler presiding over the same old bureaucracy, but united. The Sinai will remain a wild violent outpost and the south a place of violent clashes among the clans over women and cattle and religion.
- UAE: the Abu Dhabi shaikhs have got the rest of them by the balls. Only Dubai is rich enough to draw the line.
- Qatar: maybe it will join Turkey as a new Ottoman outpost.
(The Arab League will them change from a league or 20 some despots to a League of Forty Thieves. And I am almost serious about this, almost).
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum