The Islamic civil war is playing out exactly as our own thirty year war did. Then, the boundaries of old feudal holdings were redrawn to reflect not only the catholic / protestant split amongst Europe's peoples but the respective sustained capabilities of the many warlords each carving out a fiefdom. The move in the news today is the birth of a potential Sunni 'nation' in an area of northern Iraq and Syria that is predominantly Sunni anyway; the map shows the story.
To the east, the Shia lands in Iran. To the north, Shia and Kurdish peoples in Turkey and to the west the Shia / Christian settlements on the mediterrannean coast. Within the lime-green Sunni crescent you will notice some cerise blobs - Christians, now almost certainly being exterminated - and the brown blob of Yezidi, the 'devil worshippers', now almost certainly also the target of radical Sunni puritanism.
Of course the whole was once a longtime part of the Ottoman empire, Sykes-Picot and its national boundaries being a thing of a mere hundred years. The press are much excited about 'preserving' Iraq and Syria's boundaries, and whether doing so will draw us back into warfare. The question is why would we want to preserve them? For trade and commercial convenience? To avoid having to change the labels on the tables at the UN?
I've made the point before that neither Africa nor Islam has undergone the Enlightenment. A way-out thought entered my head this morning, a left-field thought so utterly unconnected with our previous experience that it's worth mentioning here in print. It's Bitcoin. Or rather, the algorithms behind it - secure distributed ledger systems; a leap in technology, economics and social inter-relations that will revolutionise the role of states, governments and economies. As science and technology led Europe from sectarian civil war to Enlightenment, will an utterly novel type of science and technology support the evolution of a new Islamic world in the Middle East?