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Maps With Immunity Deficiency

Maps With Immunity Deficiency

Monday, 29 June, 2020 - 10:30
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The past years have taught us the scale of the tragedy that awaits the citizens of the maps that are broken and transformed into an arena for regional appetites and international wills.


The truth is that we did not expect these maps to be so fragile, and that the wind would quickly infiltrate them, threatening to reshape them without the consent of their children. The scenes sometimes bring about impermissible questions:


Does the fall of tyrants lead to the collapse of maps? Is it the strong security thread that preserves the unity of multiple countries because it prevents their dialects and tongues from expressing themselves?


Does the cohesion of maps depend on the presence of a tough leader and a relentless army, more than it is subject to an old decision to coexist between those who were crammed by history and geography in a specific spot, where divorce is so difficult to arrange?


A decade ago, a visitor would consider Syria a strong country. Hafez al-Assad was seen as a brilliant negotiator for several reasons, mainly because he did not allow external powers to have a say in his country’s affairs. The visitor had the impression that Syria was coherent and playing on the land of others, and that its map had a high level of immunity.


Today, we see a different reality. In the Syrian areas under Turkish control, new customs, realities, and traditions are taking root. These areas use Turkish mail and Internet. Their electricity is supplied from Turkey. The names of the local councils are written in both Arabic and Turkish. Policemen are trained by Turkish officers. People started to deal with Turkish lira, while school students are learning the Turkish language.


In parallel to the Turkish presence, we see the Iranian hegemony. Cultural centers, religious societies, dispensaries, and militias in the Sayyida Zeinab area, in Aleppo, and the Deir Ezzor countryside, all the way to other regions. According to Damascus, the Iranian role came upon its request, contrary to the Turkish presence.


But what’s certain is that all of these scenes are the result of the broken Syrian map, which was invaded by the flags of Russia, the US, and those of terrorist organizations in Idlib.


The map of Iraq also suffers from immunity deficiency. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi cannot be accused of recklessness. His biography does not help with such an accusation. One cannot say that he does not know the complexities of the situation and the game. He worked in the intelligence and dealt with many reports. He certainly knows the story of the relationship with America, its advantages and embarrassments.


He is aware of the difficulty of the accumulated problems between Tehran and Washington, which are likely to worsen in the last months of Donald Trump’s era. He also knows that getting America out of Iraq is much easier than Iran’s withdrawal.


He knows that America - despite everything it did in Iraq - was unable to penetrate the Iraqi formula, which Iran did easily and for many reasons. Those who know Kadhimi, talk about a realistic man, who is not interested in adventures or coups.


Like many Iraqis, Kadhimi is probably confident that his country cannot head towards a promising future unless it enjoys the minimum requirements of a normal state, which means a state of law and institutions, a country that respects international laws and customs and where decisions are based on national interests.


Experience has taught Kadhimi that Iraq would be doomed if the logic of factions and militias prevailed. The prime minister does not need someone to remind him that his country, which enjoyed an enviable wealth, is now struggling to secure the salaries of its employees in the coming months.


The past years have been rich with experiences for anyone who wants to learn. The logic of victory and revenge has spoiled the political process and made Iraq a prisoner of crisis between permanent components.


Interference in the state affairs and capabilities has weakened the country, especially when Iran succeeded in persuading its allies in Baghdad, not only to legitimize the “popular crowd” militias, but to give it a kind of veto over any decision that does not fit its policies. Kadhimi tries to restore the state’s right to impose its authority on its soil through its institutions, while the pro-Iranian factions retaliate by prevailing the logic of resistance over anything else.


A broken state is not something new in Lebanon. But this time, poverty knocks on the doors of the Lebanese people, while the authority is eroding before their eyes and scandals are chasing political amateurs or professionals who have long lost their charisma and their game skills.


Broken maps are common. Somalia’s experience is long, so is that of Libya and Yemen. When a component slides into off-map alliances and engages in regional adventures, the map crisis is further deepened and the dream of a normal state collapses. Broken countries become arenas for regional wars and domestic wolves.


There is no salvation without finding a way to restore immunity and enabling the state’s logic to prevail over the factions and their affiliations.


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