Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty
International Law and Politics
Chapter Eight: Territorial disputes in Africa and Middle East
This chapter presents territorial differences in Africa and Middle East. Chapter 6 included references to the historical roots behind the territorial disputes in the Americas. Chapter 7 highlighted the sociological facets, both in terms of civil societies and leader’s prestige, in territorial disputes in Europe and the reciprocal influence between the domestic, regional and international contexts in major differences in Asia. It is not that territorial disputes center exclusively on one of these issues at stake—e.g. historical roots, border minorities, financial situation, natural resources, etc. —but a combination of them. Indeed, one of these elements may be more central than the others in terms of the initiation and continuation of these disputes, and whether they settle peacefully or they escalate into conflict. However, it is the combination of these different issues at stake that characterize fully territorial disputes and to neglect any of them is to guarantee their ongoing and pervasive nature.
Similarly, some of these territorial disputes may center more heavily on domestic issues while others have to do mainly with the regional or international context. In any case, to narrow the study to one of these spheres—i.e. domestic, regional or international—is to have a partial view of the complexity of territorial disputes and, therein, to misinterpret the real depth of each difference.
Consequently, this chapter brings together the issues at stake already introduced and all three contexts—i.e. domestic, regional and international—using ongoing territorial disputes in Africa and the Middle East to showcase them. The first section aims to demonstrate that current territorial disputes and sovereignty conflicts in Africa have colonial roots that still impact sociologically, financially, legally and politically the continent. Similar to the Americas, former colonial powers left behind “artificially” created divisions in what used to be a “territory” sociologically defined. The assessment aims to show how European understanding in legal and political sciences is not appropriate to comprehend the complexity of these realities. The interaction between the domestic-regional original pre-European social tensions and the international contexts given by European influence first, and currently by central states such as the United States and China agendas fuel ongoing territorial disputes.
The last section will introduce broadly territorial disputes in the Middle East and in particular the Israeli-Arabian conflict. The analysis will center on the evaluation of domestic, regional and international issues at stake with particular focus on religion, geopolitical importance, right-peopling of the territory, and leaders’ prestige.
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Book Preview: Chapter Nine.
Wednesday 24th June 2020
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez
 Note the Middle East is geographically part of Asia. However, the author includes a separated and dedicated section in order to review in more detail one of the most controversial (arguably, the most controversial) territorial disputes in human history: the Israel-Palestine difference.