Check out this map, created by the Armed Forces Journal, of a completely re-drawn Middle East. The resulting map is how they thought it should be drawn to resolve many of the current ethnic problems caused by the artificial delineation of borders by Europeans earlier in the 20th century.
Now, you have to know that no one is ever going to be happy down there, re-districting or not. Even with this sensible map, there are going to be unhappy Saudis, Turks and Iranians. However, if you’ll put the map on a screen next to this blog, I have a couple of thoughts.
If any of the peoples of this region were to at least entertain ideas for redrawing the maps, there are some good ideas here. One is the Islamic Sacred State. Although many peoples have accepted Saudi control over this area, I’m sure that there are many more who would be more comfortable with this area managed by a completely neutral entity (Muslim, of course). Saudis would argue that they have the right, considering the ethnicity of Muhammad, but that’s debatable. They won and lost it so many times over the past 1000 years you can make the argument that it would be better off in neutral hands.
Another interesting idea is the Arab Shia State. Not quite Iranian, as that would freak most of the Arabs out, but distinctly Shia. That along with Sunni Iraq and Kurdistan would accomplish what the Kurds have wanted for years.
The problem with this is that it even further divides up the central part of the Middle East and there are going to be a lot of Pan-Arabist types who will be very angry with this further dividing of Arabia.
As much as I like the Kurdistan aspect of the map, you are going to be hard pressed to get Turkey to agree to losing that much land.
The other interesting area created is Free Baluchistan. I’m not as familiar with the ethnic regions of South Asia, but this takes most of it’s area from Pakistan. The only ones who would really want this are the people’s of Baluchistan, who are suffering under the current regime. Pakistan also seems to lose most of Jammu region in the north. Considering how long they’ve been fighting for this area (along with Kashmir) with the Indian state, I don’t think they’d like that much.
Frankly, I don’t see much hope in a Middle East that looks like this, but it’s fruit for thought.
UPDATE: Perhaps a neutral Holy Country around Mecca and Medina isn't so crazy an idea after all.