This Middle East Friendship Chart Shows Just How Complicated Politics Has Become in the Region

Published May 11th, 2017 - 12:35 GMT
A very sad reminder of just how complicated things have become in the region, and a worrying indication of what is to come? (slate.com)
A very sad reminder of just how complicated things have become in the region, and a worrying indication of what is to come? (slate.com)

Confused about what’s going on in the Middle East?

This ‘friendship chart’ created by slate.com was created in 2014, and served as an excellent way for users to gain a quick overlook on the complex alliances between countries in the region.

 

The chart depicts all the prominent political powers in the region, including states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as ISIS and Al-Qaida. Each political entity is paired with every other once and their ‘friendship’ is indicated through a three-way code. A green smiley face for ‘friends’, a red sad face for ‘enemies’ and a yellow confused face for ‘it’s complicated’.

Better yet, as you click on each square an information box pops up with a little more information and each entity’s relationship history, with main facts about their ‘relationship history’.

 

Although this chart was made by slate.com a few years ago it is currently trending on reddit under a quick ‘Middle East’ search, which may also be an indication of a rising interest from people around the world to understand further the complex political situation in the Middle East.

The chart's outdated state is quite evident on first glance. Admittedly, even political analysts acknowledge that political alliances change sometimes weekly in the current climate, but there are some major political entities which are missing from the chart. The Kurds for example, who are a major political presence in the Middle East and among the main forces currently fighting ISIS, their ‘enemy’ relationship with Turkey is also something of note. Iraq and Syria also remain as single powers on the chart, which does not accurately represent the numerous inner political factions within each state. In fact assessing the Middle East based on states is just no longer possible.  

Although a great idea and excellent in design the chart can no longer be used to educate users on the current situation in the Middle East. Instead it acts as a very sad reminder of just how complicated things have become in the region, and a very worrying indication of what is to come.

Sahar Esfandiari 

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