Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A short guide to the Middle East


The Middle East Explained In One Excellent Letter To The Editor


This letter to the editor from Mr. K. N. Al-Sabah ran in the Aug 24th edition of Financial Times.  It was then picked up by BuzzFeed.
 

 
 
This Quixotic quote inspired me to attempt a drawing of the social network described in Mr. Al-Sabah's letter.
 


Assuming we do want to get involved in the Middle East, do we know enough to actually make the situation better?
 
 
Look in the comments under the article as it appears in BuzzFeed and you will find a visualization by Derpina which takes the form of a Flow Chart.
 
The first problem I have with Derpina's visualization is that the Turks are Sunni, not Shia. The second problem is that the flow chart makes the situation look deterministic, which is misleading. 
 
I believe my spaghetti chart above captures the chaos more accurately, in my never humble but always biased opinion.
 
That said, I believe this version by the Elder of Zion is even better. His is an improvement on one created by another blogger, the big Pharaoh. As the Elder of Zion states, any attempt to understand this situation will change daily.
 
I wonder if this idea of graphing the complex social networks in the Middle East would make a fun parlor game? I wonder what I will think of this post when I look back on it in 10 years?