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GEOGRAPHY EDUCATION

Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.

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MiddleEast

Aleppo Is Falling

How Assad and Russia achieved a major victory at a devastating cost

 

Reports from Aleppo have been particularly harrowing for the past month, as Syrian government forces, supported by Russian airstrikes and Iranian-backed militias, have squeezed the remaining rebels out of the eastern portion of the city. The collapse seemed to come all at once, with fighters loyal to Bashar al-Assad making more territorial gains in the city’s rebel enclaves since mid-November than they had in the previous four years since the opposition first seized it.

As the offensive reached its final stages this week, the United Nations received reports of massacres of civilians; a spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights said women and children had been shot trying to flee.

Source: www.theatlantic.com

During the fighting between the Assad regime and the rebels, ISIS has taken advantage of the situation to recapture Palmyra. 

 

Tags: Syria, war, political, terrorism, ISISMiddle East.

ISIS and the U.S. Presidential Election

The United States is already taking some steps to roll back the Islamic State (ISIS) and restrict its resources and recruits, including airstrikes, armin

Source: www.youtube.com

This is a non-partisan post and a video that is fairly balanced; this video nicely lays out some of the cultural and political factors that the next president of the United States should consider when crafting foreign policy in the especially problematic Middle East.  

 

Tags: Syria, war, conflict, political, geopolitics, Iraq, devolution, terrorism, ISISMiddle East.

Who Likes Whom in The Middle East? Key players & Notable relationships

An interactive network visualisation of key players & notable relationships in the Middle East region. Continually updated. Awesome looking.

Source: www.informationisbeautiful.net

News flash:the Middle East is complicated.  In a region where the enemy of an enemy can be your friend, keeping track of local, regional, and global interests can be a staggering proposition.  This flow chart is both incredibly complex, but also aids the user in making sense of the relationships that help to define the region.  

 

Tags: MiddleEast, conflict, political, geopoliticsregions.

Four maps that explain the chaos of the Middle East

“Without trying to defend or absolve U.S. policy, then, it is worth stepping back to ask what shared historical experiences might have left these four countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen — particularly at risk of violent collapse. The following maps help highlight how, at various points over the past century, historical circumstances conspired, in an often self-reinforcing way, to bolster the stability of some states in the region while undermining that of others.”

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

These maps are not cartographically inspiring, but the it’s the historical and political insight that makes them valuable. The goal of this set of maps is to find some underlying causal reasons for political stability(or more importantly instability) in the Middle East. These four maps focus on these key issues:

1. Century-old states are more stable today

2. Colonial rule led to fragile states

3. Instability and regime change

4. The shadow of the Cold War

 

Tags: MiddleEast, war, conflict, political, geopoliticshistorical.

Introducing ISIS

“The invasion of Iraq was supposed to turn the country into a democracy that posed no threat to the United States, or the rest of the world. Thirteen years later, Iraq has collapsed into three warring states. A third of the country is controlled by ISIS, who have also taken huge amounts of territory in Syria. VICE correspondent Ben Anderson gains exclusive access to the three front lines in Iraq, where Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish forces are fighting for their lives. Anderson visits with the Russian military forces in Syria, meets captured ISIS fighters in Kurdistan, and interviews US policymakers about how the situation in Iraq spun out of control.”

Source: www.youtube.com

Many young students are especially baffled at how a terrorist organization can seize control of large chunks of territory.  If you are looking for a good video introduction that explains how and why ISIS was able to gain power and than gain and maintain territory, this is it (it’s classroom safe despite the source). 

 

Tags: Syria, war, conflict, political, geopolitics, Iraq, devolution, terrorism, ISISMiddle East.

Petra, Jordan: Huge monument found ‘hiding in plain sight’

“Two archaeologists, who recently published their findings in the American Schools of Oriental Research, used Google Earth satellite images and drone photography to identify the outline of an enormous monument buried beneath sand and time at the UNESCO World Heritage site in Jordan.”  —Motherboard

Source: www.bbc.com

When in the Mexican state of Veracruz as a grad student, I saw a startling mountain covered by the dense tropical rain forest; this mountain had a consistent slope with hard angles.  I was awestruck to realize that it was an uncovered (but not undiscovered) pyramid and I wondered just how many archeological sites are waiting to be unearthed. 

 

Why is a geographer an important member of an interdisciplinary team? This discovery shows that spatial thinking, geographic tools, and a keen eye for usually patterns in unexpected places are critical for many disciplines and fields of research.

 

Tags: spatial, remote sensing, geospatial, MiddleEast, Jordan, googleunit 1 GeoPrinciples.  

How Syria Ruined the Arab Spring

How Syria Ruined the Arab Spring « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

Source: foreignpolicy.com

Unraveling the situation on the ground in Syria is much like opening a Russian nesting doll, it’s a battle, inside of a battle, inside of a battle. A complex series of local, regional, and global rivalries all playing out on the battle grounds of Syria, turning the country in a wasteland. It’s created a nightmare for the millions of non-combatants forced to flee, and those stuck within the borders. What started as Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad cracking down on Arab spring protesters in early 2011, quickly escalated into a civil war. Regional rivals Iran, and Saudi Arabia then got involved sending aid to differing sides. Soon, as a result of the rise of ISIS, the west and Russia chose to intervene. Lost in the greater game of Geo-politics is the sad, slow death of the optimism that accompanied the Arab Spring. As Marc Lynch laments in ‘How Syria ruined the Arab Spring’, all of the momentum was lost and forgotten when Al-Assad resorted to force and Syria became a pawn in regional and global geopolitics.

 

Tagsop-ed, Syria, war, conflict, political, geopolitics, Middle East.

Challenges in Defining an Israeli-Palestinian Border

There are major hurdles in drawing borders between Israel and a future Palestine.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed peace talks in Washington in July for the first time in three years. While the talks are initially expected to focus on procedural issues, they are already beginning to take on a last-ditch quality. Explore some of the contentious issues that negotiators have faced in drawing borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Source: www.nytimes.com

This five-part video report from the New York Times is from 2011, but still has some pertinent information, even if the situation has changed in some of the particulars.  These videos brings important voices from a variety of perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; together they all  show how a complex cultural and political geography leads to many of the difficulties in creating a long-lasting peace.  The discipline of geography doesn’t simple study the peace process–it is a part of it.  The creation of borders and the cartographic process play a critical role in solving territorial issues.  Geography can be both the problem and the solution. 

Tags: Israel, borders, Palestine, territoriality, political, Middle East.

The tragedy of the Arabs

“A THOUSAND years ago, the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo took turns to race ahead of the Western world. Islam and innovation were twins. The various Arab caliphates were dynamic superpowers—beacons of learning, tolerance and trade. Yet today the Arabs are in a wretched state. Even as Asia, Latin America and Africa advance, the Middle East is held back by despotism and convulsed by war.  

Pluralism, education, open markets: these were once Arab values and they could be so again. Today, as Sunnis and Shias tear out each others’ throats in Iraq and Syria and a former general settles onto his new throne in Egypt, they are tragically distant prospects. But for a people for whom so much has gone so wrong, such values still make up a vision of a better future.”

Source: www.economist.com

While the title of the article is more inflammatory than I would prefer, the analysis in this article from the Economist does a good job linking the cultural, economic and political struggles in the Middle East.

Tags: political, culture, economic, Islam, MiddleEast.

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