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Articles in Southwest Asia and North Africa

Turkey’s Leftwing Peoples’ Democratic Party and the Kurdish Question

By Martin W. Lewis | June 26, 2015 | One Comment

The new, leftwing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) did relatively well in the 2015 Turkish election, taking 13 percent of the vote nationwide and sending 80 representatives to the Turkish Parliament. As noted in the previous post, the HDP’s main area of support is the Kurdish-speaking southeast, where it was the clear majority party. Its overwhelming victory in such provinces as …

The 2015 Turkish Election: The Unclear Economic Dimension

By Martin W. Lewis | June 24, 2015 |

The 2015 Turkish General Election struck many observers as highly significant, due mainly to the drop in support for the previously dominant Justice and Development Party (AKP), closely associated with president and former prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Although the AKP remains the largest party in the Turkish parliament, it gained only 41 percent of the total vote, thwarting Erdoğan’s …

Iran Lecture Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | June 4, 2015 | 10 Comments

My second-to-last lecture on the history and geography of current global events has now been delivered, and the slides are available here at the link. As is noted on the first slide, the lecture was titled, Iran: Nuclear Negotiations, Geopolitical Ambitions, Cultural Complexities, and Historical Legacies.    
Next week I will speak on Nigeria; after that I hope to resume regular posting on GeoCurrents. 
In the …

Yemen Lecture Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | April 9, 2015 | 3 Comments

As mentioned in a previous post, I have devoted most of the past week to preparing a lengthy lecture on Yemen for my course on the history and geography of current global events. I had planned to develop several blog posts on the issues, focusing on such matters as the position of Hadhramaut, an important and fascinating region in eastern …

Final Maps on “Geopolitical Anomalies”

By Martin W. Lewis | April 5, 2015 | One Comment

This post merely contains some of the additional maps that I prepared for my March 31 lecture on the history and geography of current global events. These maps, like those in the two preceding posts, focus on geopolitical irregularities and anomalies in a region of the world that might be called the “Greater Middle East” (for lack of a better …

Geopolitical Anomalies in the “Greater Middle East,” Part 2

By Martin W. Lewis | April 4, 2015 | 3 Comments

(note: The introduction to this post is found in the post of April 1)
Thus far we have examined a number of geopolitical anomalies in a sizable region of the world centered on Saudi Arabia. We have not yet looked at the most serious challenge to the standard model, however, that of state collapse. Other important issues remain to be considered …

Geopolitical Anomalies in the “Greater Middle East,” Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | April 2, 2015 | 9 Comments

(Note: The introduction to this post is found in the previous post, that of April 1))
A detail from the Wikipedia map of United Nations members, discussed in the previous post, shows only one non-member in the region that we might crudely dub the “greater Middle East,” which is the focus of today’s post. That non-member is the Palestinian territory, composed …

Michael Izady’s Amazingly Detailed Map of Ethnicity in Syria (and the Syrian Armenians)

By Martin W. Lewis | October 26, 2014 | 6 Comments

Most maps that show the distribution of ethnic groups within particular countries are relatively simple, depicting a few discrete populations within large, contiguous blocks of territory. The distinguishing characteristics of such groups are rarely specified. A good example of such a useful yet overly simplified map is the Washington Post’s portrayal of Syria posted here. This map reduces the complex …

The Extraordinary Cultural Cartography of Michael Izady, Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | October 23, 2014 | 3 Comments

To understand the political situation of the Middle East today, it is necessary to examine the geographical relationships pertaining to political borders, the distributions of religious and linguistic groups, and the patterning of oil and gas deposits. Of particular significance is the fact that many of the largest fossil fuel deposits are found in areas that are not primarily inhabited …

The New York Times’ Impressive Collection of Iraq/Syria Maps

By Martin W. Lewis | October 20, 2014 | One Comment

As long-time readers of GeoCurrents may have noted, I have rather mixed feelings about the New York Times. I am often critical of Times articles and columnists, and I find the newspaper’s coverage of world events too spotty and incomplete to be satisfying. But I also start off every morning with the print edition, and I can’t imagine doing otherwise. …

The Fragility of the State Fragility Index

By Martin W. Lewis | September 25, 2014 | 2 Comments

I recently came across a “State Fragility Index Map” from 2010 that made me doubt the usefulness of the index. As a predictive measurement, its failures are obvious. Note that Syria was depicted at the time as a relatively stable state, while Libya was portrayed as quite secure. In the 2010 Index, Syria ranked 48th from the bottom (out of …

ISIS Advances and the Kurds Retreat In Northern Syria

By Martin W. Lewis | September 21, 2014 | 5 Comments

The struggle involving the Islamic State (alternatively, ISIS or ISIL) in northern and eastern Syria and northern Iraq is finally receiving abundant coverage in the global media. Today’s (Sept. 21) New York Times, for example, features several articles on the issue, focused mostly on the international complications generated by the conflict. Many publications in the U.S., however—including the Times—have either …

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 InfoWars.com, 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 …

GeoCurrents Editorial: The Genocide of the Yezidis Begins, and the United States is Complicit

By Martin W. Lewis | August 7, 2014 | 90 Comments

(Note: GeoCurrents is still technically on summer vacation, allowing me time to catch up with other obligations that I have neglected. My recent essays on eco-modernism, written for the Breakthrough Institute, can be found here and here. I am interrupting this GeoCurrents hiatus, however, to address a highly disturbing and significant development. This post also violates the GeoCurrents policy on …

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