June 4, 2009

Shifting Borders

I am posting this picture in honor of President Obama's trip to Middle East and his inspiring speech about relations between the US and the Muslim World. This relationship always seems fascinatingly disjointed to me in the sense that the US is a country, a single political organization, juxtaposed to the Muslim population, people from several countries all over the world, who are grouped together based on religious affiliation. But I digress on the tenuous nature of religion and politics. This National Geographic image shows the borders of four Middle Eastern (primarily Muslim) countries, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates, which all meet on the Rub al Khali, or Empty Quarter, desert. I find it intriguing that borders are being defined on land that constantly shifts, prompting me to question of the true validity of these carefully-considered lines. In yesterday's column, Thomas Friedman began by telling his favorite Middle Eastern joke of the pious Jew, Goldberg, who spent so much time asking God if he could win the lottery that he never bought a ticket, alluding to the fact that the main reason the Arab/Israeli conflict fails to resolve itself is that neither side wants to buy a ticket to peace. They are drawing the lines, but are not really considering where they are drawing or the quality of their design. Hopefully, this president can help guide the discussions in this often troubled, yet incredibly vibrant part of the world.

Image can be found here.

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