Pluralism of pluralisms [Post 15]

Middle East: natives and settlers

The differences between Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the other states in Middle East indicate that most of the territorial disputes in the Arabian or Persian Gulf date back to colonial times and the way in which the former colonial powers divided the “territory” that was once sociologically integrated.

Congruent with practices in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, former colonial powers left behind “artificially” created divisions in what used to be a “territory” sociologically defined. Coincidentally, there are several agents such as individuals, communities and states and sub-categories like natives and settlers.

Iraq and Kirkuk are a clear example of different agents and interests.[1] Originally part of the Ottoman Empire, Kirkuk became an independent province in 1919 and was annexed to Iraq state in 1925.[2] There is an obvious tension over the natural resources in the area.[3] Unsurprisingly, there are domestic as well as regional agents involved.[4] Sociologically, the tension between Kurds and Arab settlers has been present for decades.[5] 

Another territorial dispute that shows the tension between contemporary understandings of cosmopolitanism and sovereignty is the Israel-Palestine difference and its several dimensions. [6] The current nomenclature in legal and political sciences used the term “territorial dispute.” Yet, the Israel-Palestine difference is a clear example of an ongoing dispute that has to do with territory as well as population, government and law domestically, regionally and internationally.

Both Africa and Middle East include an array of cases that clearly indicate there are several issues at stake behind the initiation, continuation and potential escalation into conflict of territorial disputes. Moreover, these disputes have to be contextualized locally, regionally and internationally for a more accurate comprehension. It may be the case that a particular issue at stake is more central than others, or a context is more relevant than the rest with regard to their origin or pervasiveness. However, it is in the comprehensive understanding as multilayer and multi-contextual nature of territorial disputes that a path towards a better explanation of their complexity can be built.

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Asia: natives and settlers.

Author of:

Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).

Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).

Monday 03rd May 2021

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World

[1] Denise Natali, “Settlers and State-Building: The Kirkuk Case,” Oded Haklai and Neophytos Loizides, eds., Settlers in Contested Lands. Territorial Disputes and Ethnic Conflicts (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2015), 114-140.

[2] Denise Natali, “The Kirkuk Conundrum,” Ethnopolitics 7:4 (2008): 433-443.

[3] P.R. Ahmad, “The Politics of Oil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” Academic and Applied Research in Military and Public Management Science. Budapest, 17:3 (2018): 5-18.

[4] Daniel Meier, “Disputed territories’ in northern Iraq: The Frontiering of in-between Spaces,” Mediterranean Politics 25:3 (2020): 351-371

[5] Dana Sofi Jens Rydgren, “Interethnic relations in Northern Iraq: Brokerage, Social Capital and the Potential for Reconciliation,” International Sociology 26:1 (2011):25-49

[6] Fred Khouri, The Arab-Israeli Dilemma, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1985; Walter Laquer and Barry Rubin, eds., The Arab-Israeli Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict, New York: Penguin Books, 1984; William Quandt, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1993; Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

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