Monday, September 25, 2006

Coincidence? And Fun with Maps

Strangely enough, in the past few weeks of being home I've run into two Iranians (one at the gas station, another at a 'Middle Eastern' market I checked out - which I had hoped was Levantine . . . but was Iranian) who both were very passionate that Bahrain was a part of Iran 'not very long ago.' Is it a coincidence that these two presumably unconnected Iranians have the same views on this small nation? I think not. I think it shows an Iranian mindset about many of the GCC nations - those are within Iran's historic sphere and ought to be again.

OK guys, Iran ruled Bahrain after the Portugese left in the 1600s, until the Al-Khalifa's took control in the late 1700s. Making the claim that Bahrain belongs to Iran is like the Spanish making the claim that California still belongs to Spain. Sorry . . . it just ain't so. Moreover, it's an Arab culture, speaking Arabic and it's not a Persian culture, although it's been influence by Persia from time to time. My response is - GET OVER IT!

But a couple of hundred years is small change in the Middle East. It's no wonder that Iran has, within the last 10 years, sought to foment a coup and encourage the Islamic Revolution to grow in Bahrain (God help us if that happens!). Pull out your maps and consider what the strategic impact of THAT would be in the Middle East.

One wants to tell these Iranians living in the U.S. - hey! We're allies with the nation of Bahrain. We don't really think highly of the idea of any Iranian desires to reannex the country! Don't forget you're living here now!

But . . . it's a free country. The right to voice a contrary opinion is what we fight for, in part.

+ + + + +

Ok - I got a link to this flash show of Imperialism in the Middle East. Let's just say, on a 10,000-foot overview, not too shabby in getting the idea across. Lots of nitpicks one could make.

Hopefully it'll imbed:


Blogger Hilarius said...

And I'll make the first comment - curious that the embedded version has the provocative "Iranian Empire?" stinger at the end that the source website version does not!

Among the obvious objections are the largely Mediterranean-centric focus of the whole work, the absence of the Sumerian/Mesopotamian early empires in the Tigris/Euphrates area, and the mishandling of the Roman/Byzantine Empire and transition to the Caliphate (you mean the Byzantine Empire was defeated before 1452????). Plus, the handling of the Caliphate without regard to the difference between the Arab explosion out of the desert and the influx of the Turcoman tribes and their dominance makes it broad-brush indeed.

Still - it's pretty, and it's cool they let you imbed it.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Hilarius said...

I posted on the comment site for the maker of the map and the Iranian Empire stinger was dropped from the embedded version.

10:33 AM  
Blogger John said...

"But a couple of hundred years is small change in the Middle East...."

It is amazing how such is the case throughout the ME, not at all limited to the Persians. I was most angry with my Turkish hosts when the conversation turned to their neighbors. Armenian holocaust denial remains an article of faith and some resent even the little bit of Armenia that the Armenians got away with after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. And they resent that there are Greeks on Cyprus; in fact, they resent that there are even Greeks at all. And don't get them started on the Arabs or the Iranians, who are under the double curse of being Shiite and Persian! My point is, that memories in this part of the world go way, way back. It is startling to hear these tribal throwbacks coming from educated and informed citizenry.

American historical short-sightedness is both our great virtue and our great vice. By and large, we harbor no lingering ill-will towards the Germans or Japanese or Communist Russians. And that is a good thing. But this historical short-sightedness also leads us in to situations like we are in today, and that is very, very bad.

Interesting discussion, by the way, on Sand Monkey's blog, about Bahrain:

10:27 AM  
Blogger Hilarius said...


Thanks for the visit . . . whaddya think about the flash map show?

As for long memories . . . that goes for the Orthodox too, of course . . . we will often find ourselves arguing about the Photian schism, and 1054, and etc. . . maybe most peoples have this view and, as you say, it's only in our post-enlightenment US and Western Europe that we take the short view.

Lessee - the Univeristy rules on hijab . . . yeah, heard about that. It's part and parcel of the whole conservative Islamic push (two camps - Shi'a conservatives and Sunni conservatives) in Bahrain. I think one has to take it in context of a society where many men also choose to wear clothing that obscures and de-emphasizes the figure (thobe and ghutra). You can be somewhat fat, balding, or have ugly birthmarks but, as a man, you don't have to show them off to the world. If you have great abs, that might not be apparent either.

A great discussion of clothing and the whole subject has been going on at under the post entitled: Lust

Mahmood appears to be one of the moderate Muslims of Bahrain, looking for more democracy and transparency in government, but as you can tell from his picture and his discussions, he's no libertine. I enjoy following the 'blog although I worry about posting there insofar as he takes a fair amount of risk in being vocal about a great many things.


1:00 PM  

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