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Fighting for Iraq: A regional powerplay

Fighting for Iraq: A regional powerplay | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Learn more about the ethnic, religious and political powerplays in and around Iraq during a virtual tour of the region led by NBC’s Richard Engel.

 

This is an incredibly well-put together, video/slideshow about the complex geography of within Iraq that has lead to so many difficulties in the post-Saddam Hussein era.   The ethnic patterns, religious divisions, spatial arrangements of resources as well as the larger regional context all play roles in creating the a contentious political environment. 

 

I have always felt that Iraq is very complex. And it is. However the videos shed some light on clarifying what most of the turmoil is about.  A valid question is why not divide Iraq into three seperate countries? One for the Kurdish, one for the Sunnis, and one for the Shiite? The video explains that it is not that easy.  Iraq has been unstable since it formed after WWI.The Sunnis feel that the Shiite stole their power and they want to reclaim it.  The three ethnicities are quarrelling for control and it has to do with more than religion.  Resources play an important role in the dispute.  The country cannot divide into three regions, because the Sunni (about 20% of Iraq's population) are in a region where they are not close to water and they have no oil.  The Sunni and Kurdish are close to natural resources- water and oil.  If the country divides, the Sunni will not last. 

Elizabeth Allen


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Crissy Borton's curator insight, December 11, 2012 8:33 PM

I enjoyed this video. I never really understood why these groups were fighting. It was an easy video to understand and I learned that the fighting is not just about religious but cultural differences as well. 

Stacey Jackson's curator insight, March 22, 2013 11:03 PM

Although I try to keep up with world events, Iraq has puzzled me. This was spectacularly helpful, although I still don't feel like I have the full picture. For instance, I understand that three ethnic groups were forced in to a new country, Iraq, after World War I and that the country has been in turmoil ever since. However, these ethnic groups were all a part of the Ottoman Empire before there was an Iraq, so why did the trouble start after the formation of Iraq?

 

These ethnic groups had their own provinces within the Ottoman Empire. I'm assuming these groups thought they'd establish their own separate nations after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but were not given the chance to decide for themselves since Iraq was a product of "European powers." If this is accurate, then European nations have a horrible track record when it comes to dictating foreign boundaries that lead to unrest abroad. 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 12:55 PM

Iraq is a complicated country. The current differences and disparities in culture, ethnicity and resources has led to some harsh rivalry between people within the borders of the country. This shows how borders can be artificial and just because a map shows a region as one unit, it is not always the case. After the Ottoman Empire fell many groups of people were thrust together and this is why we see these divisions so clearly.

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Why is King Abdullah willing to let Saudi women vote but not drive cars?

Why is King Abdullah willing to let Saudi women vote but not drive cars? | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
King Abdullah announced on Sunday that  Saudi women will be allowed to vote and run for office in municipal elections beginning in 2015.

 

Driving a car as simple as it may sound, is a method of enhancing mobility and that means freedom of spatial expression.  This decision to allow women to vote has only demonstrated the cultural constraints of gender roles and how much more progress is needed.  

 

To maintain power the government keeps strong restrictions on it's Saudi women. So frustrating in this day and age. I respect the preservation of cultures and religions; however Saudi women cannot drive and basic priveleges such as going to the library are restricted. It is similar to countries that dominated in colonial times- oppress a society and keep them far from an education, or else they will catch on to ideas of freedom, equal rights and so on. Of course I had to check other headlines for this issue. I found http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-28/saudi-women-urged-to-drive-on-anniversary-of-campaign-to-end-ban.html , which provides details of some rebellious young ladies who ignore the "ban". Many have to drive for necessity, the story speaks about a woman who had to drive her son to the hospital because of his severe asthma attack. I hope these rebellious ladies continue their crusade!  Elizabeth Allen


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Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, April 4, 2014 7:54 PM

It seems odd that women can vote but not drive an automobile. It appears the King does not want women to explore the country freely. He may not want to give women all that freedom at one time… Also, he must not want women traveling and exploring areas alone in a car. Although the entire situation in Saudi Arabia is sad, this appears to be a small step forward for women. 

James Hobson's curator insight, October 21, 2014 7:04 PM

(Central Asia topic 5 [independent topic])

The decrees made by Saudi Arabia's King regarding women's future rights are being viewed as empty promises. On top of that, this topic is at the convergence of not just political, but also social and religious topics. Political, social, economic, and religious interests are all tugging issues such as women's rights to vote and drive in different directions.

I am surprised this article did not mention something which I had heard before: the Saudi government still does not allow women to drive not only out of social custom, but also because their highways are facing a congestion problem. Giving women drivers licenses could roughly double the number of cars on the already-gridlocked roads, making commuting and transportation even more of a hassle.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 12:51 PM

What I find interesting is that allowing women to vote seems like a big step towards equality but it may be more superficial at addressing the real issue at hand. Women in this country are living with so much constraint, letting them vote may not be the giant step forward it seems to be. There are still cultural and institutional barriers that restraint the freedom and natural rights of women.

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Piracy Backlash

Piracy Backlash | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Abshir Boyah, a pirate who says he has hijacked more than 25 ships off the coast of Somalia, says he will give up this career if certain terms are met.

 

What economic, cultural and political circumstances in the 21st century would allow for piracy to exist?  What are the impacts of piracy on Somalia?  

 

The concept of piracy is a scary one. Their illegal ways cause corruption throughout their society. However, it seems as if they do not have much choice. Yes, it is morally wrong, but look at the money they are making. The prirates are willing to cease illegal activity if their demands are met. Their demands are not out of the ordinary-- they want their oceans protected from toxic waste, job creations, and a fair government. Somalia has a long road ahead of them to acheive any sort of unity.  Elizabeth Allen


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James Hobson's curator insight, October 30, 2014 9:29 AM

(Africa topic 4)

I found it very interesting that piracy seems to be such an open topic in Somalia, yet even within its own borders pirates are facing growing scrutiny. In one sense it seems as if it is accepted as a necessary evil for survival, but also surprising is the acknowledgement of the pirates that they would stop if a reformation were to occur and better opportunities were within reach. This may be their way of hinting that they feel they are doing something morally wrong without directly coming out and stating it.

However, this raises the question of how to resolve the problem: will ending piracy promote reform, or will reform promote an end to piracy? It's like a chicken-or-the-egg problem, without a clear starting point. Nonetheless, if a movement in the right direction were to begin, it would be aided by this acknowledgement and willingness of the modern-day pirates.

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, November 22, 2014 4:25 PM

Somalia's pirates are notorious worldwide, and while the pirates may be committing horrible crimes, it is important to understand why these people have turned to illegal means to survive. The economic state of Somalia is rather grim. Considered a textbook "failed state", men for the most part have to choose between working as a fishermen or turning to piracy. Since fishermen barely scrape a living from the waters, Somalian men turn to piracy. With no other economic opportunities, it is often seen as the only choice. Many Somali pirates openly admit that if they had other options, they would absolutely change occupations. 

John Nieuwendyk's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:17 PM

The media oftentimes demonizes specific groups of people. So I was presently surpassed that the NYT’s investigated the human aspect of desperation. Many of these Somalians are hopeless and the economic burden on their shoulders drives them to act unethical. When you first priority is survival, courteousness and moral laws often don’t apply. Nevertheless, it was cool to hear about these human stories.

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The Difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained

Great, quick way to keep loaton differences of UK and England straight.  Elizabeth Allen


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Al Picozzi's curator insight, October 7, 2013 12:10 AM

A great and entertaining way to explain this part of Europe.  I know I have in the past used the terms England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom to all refer to the same thing. It was also amazing to see that people are the same everywhere in that the people in Wales do not consider themselves British, much the same way the people in Sicily consider themselves Sicilain and not Italian. 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 12:09 PM

As an outsider looking in the concept of the United Kingdom is a little confusing. We are taught to view Scotland as its own country, but they are countries within a larger structure. This video makes what would confuse many Americans and condenses it into a clear video that is just about 5 mins.

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, December 12, 2014 4:38 PM

Many people often interchange the UK, Great Britain, and England, but in reality, they all describe different different things. The UK is a country of four countries, each with equal power, including Scotland, Northern Ireland, England, and Wales but they are all considered British citizens.UK is a political term, describing a country. Great Britain is a physical geographical term describing the land mass containing Scotland, Wales, and England.  The British Isles refers to both Great Britain and the Island of Ireland. All of these terms describe different things, being characterized by either political affiliation or geographic characteristics. 

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In Honduras, Police Accused Of Corruption, Killings

The Central American nation is the most violent country in the world, according to the United Nations. A mix of drug trafficking, political instability and history adds up to a murder rate that is now four times that of Mexico.

 

Corruption is inflicting Honduras. There are many factors causing this. High drug trafficking, poor governemnt system, and high murder rates. to hear that anywhere has a higher murde rate than Mexico- is astounding. And further, to know that many murders at at the hands of police is disturbing. Affiliation in gangs and gang warfare is costing lives. The police seem crooked, so I cannot imagine crime rate will decline anytime soon. It must be bad if the Peace Corp has vacated. According to BBC News, a politician running for office is offering free burials for those that cannot afford them.  Honduras violent death rate is 1 every 74 minutes. And the police do not punish criminals....   Elizabeth Allen


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Albert Jordan's curator insight, February 4, 2014 6:31 PM

Although this is dated approximately two years ago, the issue is still relevant. Honduras is geographically located in the middle of heavy drug trafficking routes. A poor economy and a history of political corruption, as well as a history of United States involvement in paramilitary training and aid has created a country that is not set up for stability. The issues in Honduras are very similar to the issues of many third world nations that deal heavily with drug trafficking and political corruption. Those in power, receiving aid from the U.S. use those assets against their political foes while the common people find themselves turning to illegal means to make a living. The police, being corrupt themselves since corruption is a trickle down disease, probably have a number of officers working for various gangs, cartels, and other nefarious groups. Because they can hide behind the authority of the “law,” they are able to use their force to further the agendas for whoever is putting money in their pocket. Whether it be for greed or unfortunate economic necessity, or out of fear of reprisal for not conforming it is the locals who suffer from the overwhelming police presence. These are issues that are found across the globe in countries and regions that have unstable politics that are fueled by conflict, whether it be resources, illicit substances, or other illegal trade.As the police pressure continues to mount, it is only a matter of time before serious reform takes place or violent revolution transforms the political landscape.

Paige Therien's curator insight, February 11, 2014 1:36 PM

Honduras' role in the drug trafficking industry has increased immensely which does not mix well with their already corrupt government and police force.  However, a history of U.S. aid and security "support" is what rooted this country in violence.  Honduras' situation is spiraling out of control because the drug trafficking industry has taken advantage of its already weak state.

Amy Marques's curator insight, February 12, 2014 10:55 PM

In the news we sometimes hear about violence taking place at the border of the US and Mexico, but you never hear of the violence in Honduras. With a mix of drug trafficking, corruption, political instability and history has led to a murder rate that is now four times that of Mexico., which is pretty hard to think of since there Mexico already has a high muder right. The situation has gotten so bad that the Peace Corps has withdrawn its volunteers.

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P-A-K-I-S-T-A-N

P-A-K-I-S-T-A-N | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it

"The name of the country Pakistan has a fascinating history - it is essentially an acronym!  Prior to 1947, the country now known as Pakistan was a British colony. In 1947 the United Kingdom granted independence to the region under a new name, Pakistan. The name had been developed by a group of students at Cambridge University who issued a pamphlet in 1933 called Now or Never."

 

In a country with such great ethnic divisions, a common religion is a powerful nationalizing force.  As the capital city of Islamabad's toponym powerfully states (the house or abode of Islam), religion remains an important element of national identity for Pakistanis.   

 

Better than rock, paper, scissors. At least the name incorporates the letters of the homelands.  Elizabeth Allen


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Brett Sinica's curator insight, November 19, 2013 2:27 PM

When you take in the way that the British Empire controlled many colonies and tried to spread their culture to such diverse regions, it is no suprise that Pakistan was named essentially by a game of Scrabble.  I suppose the naming is somewhat creative and certainly unique compared to how other countries get their names, yet just picturing a group of colleagues naming a country is strange.  Though the U.K. did grant them independance, how independant were they really if they weren't even given the right to name their own land.

James Hobson's curator insight, November 11, 2014 12:55 PM

(South Asia topic 5)

The name "Pakistan" can be thought of as more of a "Mexicali" or "Calexico" than an "Afghanistan" or "Turkmenistan." In other words, it is an acronym, which I was surprised to learn. Though is can also be translated as "land of the Paks", there is no specific group by that name. Relating back to a previous Scoop, this shows the importance of validation and reasoning, as opposed to 'blind belief.'

I think the use of an acronym for the new nation's name (a toponym) was a very intuitive option to choose; no ethnic group could complain that their name didn't make it into the name of their nation while others' did. This seems to be a form of equal representation.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 17, 2014 1:28 AM

This article is very interesting as it explains the origin of the name Pakistan. Like many people I assumed that the name had to do with some old ethnic group but in reality its something of an acronym. Interestingly enough Pakistan is incredibly diverse and really only held together by the common Islamic religion. Names which are acronyms are more common place in government plans or cheesy infomercial products rather than the names of countries.     

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British have invaded nine out of ten countries

British have invaded nine out of ten countries | Geography 400 at ric | Scoop.it
Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colourful history, new research has found.

 

This is a great map to show the historical impact of colonialism on the world map.  The map is based on the work in the new book All the Countries We've Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To.   

 

Handy map to have as a reference/guide. Elizabeth

 

Tags: book reviews, colonialism, war, historical, UK. 


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Don Brown Jr's comment, November 5, 2012 1:22 PM
Military conflict is often at times overlooked at as a source of language diffusion however the information displayed in this article can help explain how English has become one of the most popular languages in the world today.
Matthew DiLuglio's curator insight, October 12, 2013 7:33 PM

The British have done this in reality, in the physical world, in space and time... but perhaps the Chinese have done this in our minds!  Everything our country trades for has parts made in China.  We simply can't live without these things that may be invented in the US, and designed in the US, but assembled in China.... China has a name for itself, and they're playing a game of Monopoly.  They have hotels on Board walk and Park place, and they're eating us alive... I've conferred with politicians, who say that they're on the verge of turning their hidden empire into a physical one, and going from simple monetary domination to war.  They outnumber the US, and have better technology, and evidently more skill and products.  Not much to say about that, but if they learn from the mistakes of the British, the Chinese could really create a truly elite empire that could outlast any other in human history...  But really, if they include American/Chinese cuisine in their menu, I'm sold at General Tao's chicken... Go China! 

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, March 17, 2014 8:36 PM

This map illustrates just how wide-reaching the British Empire was throughout its history. Though the map cheats a little by including the activities of sanctioned pirates and minor invasions, almost the whole world excepting several very small nations and some difficult to reach inland ones.

 

The most surprising was Sweden considering the proximity and the frequent viking invasions on the British isles which were apparently never reciprocated.