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Articles in Self-Declared States

Future Islamic State Mapping and Computer-Game Cartography

By Martin W. Lewis | September 20, 2014 | 3 Comments

As mentioned in the previous post, several maps purporting to show plans for an enlarged caliphate by the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) have been circulating on the Internet. The oddest of such maps has ben posted here. As noted by Media Matters, this map “was reported on, a website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, … [and] appears to have originated …

The Islamic State’s Aspirational Map?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 18, 2014 | 8 Comments

The geopolitical entity that calls itself the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has generated some interesting maps. Today’s post examines a map that ostensibly shows the area designated for conquest and rule by ISIS leaders. Widely disseminated across the Internet, it evidently originated on Twitter, but its creator remains unknown. Media Matters for America has advanced some …

Cyprus: Between East and West?

By Claire Negiar | April 10, 2014 | 14 Comments

(Note: This is the second of two articles by Stanford student Claire Negiar that together contrast the situations of two geopolitically divided islands: Saint Martin and Cyprus)
Cyprus and Saint Martin – two very different islands sharing one key property: both are split by their “mother countries,” Greece and Turkey in the case of Cyprus, France and the Netherlands in the …

Russian Envelopment? Ukraine’s Geopolitical Complexities

By Martin W. Lewis | March 24, 2014 | 16 Comments

The current issue of Time magazine features an article by Robert Kaplan that emphasizes the geographical aspects of what he refers to as “endless chaos and old-school conflicts,” especially in regard to Ukraine. In general, I appreciate Kaplan’s insistence on the abiding importance of geography and I am impressed by his global scope of knowledge, although I do think that …

Transnistria Open to Freight Traffic

By Martin W. Lewis | May 15, 2012 | 2 Comments

In early May, the European Union welcomed the resumption of railroad freight traffic through the break-away state of Transnistria*, sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova. Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, described the event as “a crucial step forward for restoring confidence between the sides to the Transnistrian issue.”

The Ethnic Diversity of the Self-Declared State of Azawad

By Martin W. Lewis | April 7, 2012 | 7 Comments

On April 6, 2012, the Tuareg rebels declared the independence of the territory under their control in northern Mali, deeming the country “Azawad.” Within hours, the Wikipedia had posted an article on The Independent State of Azawad,

Stalled Negotiations in Western Sahara

By Martin W. Lewis | March 23, 2012 | Comments Off on Stalled Negotiations in Western Sahara

Yet again, talks on Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara collapsed without agreement. Representatives from Morocco, the independence-seeking Polisario Front, Algeria, and Mauritania recently met in for three days in a suburb or New York; in the end, “‘Each party continued to reject the proposal of the other as the sole basis for future negotiations, while reiterating their willingness to work together to reach a solution.”

No New State for the Beleaguered Garo People of India

By Martin W. Lewis | February 17, 2012 | Comments Off on No New State for the Beleaguered Garo People of India

India’s Economic Times recently noted that the demand by the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) for the creation a new Indian state for the Garo people was not going to be met, dashing hopes that a negotiated settlement could end one of northeastern India’s numerous “tribal” insurgencies,

Lozi (Barotse) Nationalism in Western Zambia

By Martin W. Lewis | September 15, 2011 | 6 Comments
Map of Barotseland; Lozi Kingdom at Its Height

The deeper roots of dissatisfaction in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip (discussed in the previous post) extend to the colonial dissolution of the Lozi Kingdom of Barotseland. Centered in what is now western Zambia, Barotseland was one of the strongest indigenous polities of southern central Africa, controlling a broad swath of territory that encompassed the Caprivi Strip

Border Delineation and Geopolitical Wrangling between India and Bangladesh

By Martin W. Lewis | May 30, 2011 | 3 Comments

Progress on the India-Bangladesh border barrier has been slower than expected, due in part to difficulties in determining precisely where the border runs. Such problems might seem surprising. In the standard model of geopolitics, international borders are clearly delineated, one-dimensional lines that absolutely separate sovereign states. In practice, however, borders are often contested and sometimes

Geopolitical Complexities in the Twin Insurgencies of Balochistan

By Martin W. Lewis | May 17, 2011 | Comments Off on Geopolitical Complexities in the Twin Insurgencies of Balochistan
Map of Baloch provinces in Pakistan and Iran

Balochistan, spanning the border between Pakistan and Iran, is a deeply troubled region, beset with rebellion and split by a barrier. Pakistan’s Balochistan province has been in rebellion as often as not since the founding of the country. Wikipedia lists five distinct “Balochistan conflicts” since 1948, but it is not always clear when one conflict

Caucasus Emirate: A Self-Proclaimed Virtual State Entity

By Martin W. Lewis | February 3, 2010 | One Comment

In the global hierarchy of polities, a “self-proclaimed virtual state entity” occupies a lowly position, being little more than a dream. But such dreams must be taken seriously if they are accompanied by violent actions intended to make them come true, as is the case in regard to the Caucasus Emirate. This Islamist “virtual state

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