Severe ignorance on geography leads to equally severe prejudice. Someone can lump together groups which in real life are bitter enemies. One example is North Africa, West Asia, Central Asia and western South Asia. This entire area is treated as a single homogenous culture. One which is moreover based on a mix-up of the Arabian Peninsula and Afghanistan. In fact there are large differences in both landscape, language and standard of living. There are regional differences in how the population looks too. All does not have the stereotypical “Arabic” look. There are also plenty of black Muslims which people might not think of. Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia have Muslim majority too.
The entire belt from Morocco to Kazakhstan some believe to be inhabited by the Arabic-speaking. In reality it is just a smaller part having Arabic-speaking majority. Most other languages are divided in three unrelated groups:
Afroasiatic languages are related to Arabic.
Indo-European languages are related to English, Swedish and Russian.
Turkic languages are not related to any of them.
There are Circassian minorities in several countries around the eastern Mediterranean. Azerbaijan has a Lezgin minority. In the same way Iran and Pakistan have a Brahui minority. These three ethnic groups’ languages are not related to each other or to the larger groups. In contrast each of them has relatives spoken in other places across the world. Circassian and Lezgin both have relatives spoken as minority languages in Russia. Brahui is related to languages spoken in parts of South Asia.
Both Islam and the Arabic language arose on the Arabian Peninsula. Most of it was long inhabited almost entirely by desert herders. In the mountains to the south and in some oases it was possible to carry on agriculture. Oases at the coast were inhabited by fishermen. In the 20th century oil was found in all countries except Yemen. In one generation people went from worrying about their survival to becoming filthy rich. The increase in standard of living was to fast for people to change their values. The result was an organisation of society based on the prejudices of the ruling. Above all they are among the world’s worst sexists. Their neighbours to the north viewing them as barbarians don’t help either.
North of the Arabian Peninsula, lies the former Fertile Crescent. It mainly consists of Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. I call it the former Fertile Crescent because it is not so fertile anymore. Millennia of no-drainage irrigation have salinized Iraq’s cultivated land. This country is mainly flat or only gently sloping. The exception is the mountains to the north which rise rather quickly from the plain. All the other countries have more or less broken ground. Syria, Lebanon and Israel are lie along a west coast and have partially Mediterranean climate. But their arable land is fragile and not always so reliable. Jordan is dependent on the river which the country is named for. This river is neither particularly large.
The former Fertile Crescent’s population is mainly Arabic-speaking. Both Iraq and Syria have Syriac minorities. They speak Afroasiatic languages descended from the Babylonians’. Israeli is Afroasiatic too. Iraq and Syria have Turkish and also Kurdish minorities out of which the latter is Indo-European. I think the sexism of these groups are inversely proportional to their degree of education. Unfortunately, all these groups by tradition live segregated. There are neither any widespread habit of reflecting about the motivations of others. Then it is easy to fool people into believing some other group’s members to be evil.
Some definitions include Egypt in the former Fertile Crescent. As a country Egypt would not exist if not the Nile emptied on the north coast. This makes Egypt the most populous of all the countries having Arabic-speaking majority. The Arabic-speaking are in majority in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia too. Two areas in northern Libya have both Mediterranean climate. Also, the coasts of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco have this. Through the three last countries the Atlas Mountains goes too. These divide the relatively green areas to the north from the Sahara Desert to the south.
All countries in North Africa has minorities of Berbers. Their languages are Afroasiatic. However, they are more distantly related to Arabic than Israeli and the Aramaic languages. North Africans are in general less sexist than people imagine Arabs. I think it is because they descend from farmers rather than desert herders. Even Tuaregs are less sexist then their Bedouin neighbours. This might be explained by them becoming desert herders later than the Bedouins’ ancestors. If so they would have had less time to develop extreme sexism.
North of the former Fertile Crescent is a large mountain belt. It stretches from Turkey to Pakistan were it joins the Himalayas. Also the mountains of northern Iraq are part of this mountain belt. Turkey is mainly a peninsula dividing the Mediterranean from the Black Sea. Its southern and western coasts have Mediterranean climate and the northern coast is just slightly cooler. Due to the mountains along the coasts the interior of the country is drier. But this does not stop large areas from being cultivated by irrigation. Turkey’s population is mostly white with at most 1/4 more browns. The majority is Turkish-speaking too, with Kurdish, Arabic and Circassian minorities. Although the majority are Muslims the government of Turkey is secular.
To the east Turkey borders to Armenia and Iran. Armenia is a small, mountainous country which population is mainly white. They are mainly Christian too, and speak an Indo-European language. The Arabic minority in the country is not Muslim but Yazidis. East of Armenia and northwest of Iran lies the mainly Muslim Azerbaijan. However, its population is so secularized it is not as noticeable. The Azeris are like the Turks white and speaks a mutually understandable language. In addition, there are Armenian, Russian and Lezgin minorities.
Iran is a large and pulpous country which to a great extent is desert and mountains. Parts of the mountains to the west are wooded but agriculture almost always require irrigation. The exception is the area along the Caspian Sea which despite its name is the world’s largest lake. The looks of the population is quite mixed white and more brown. Arabs consist a minority mostly found in the southwest. These is a considerable Azeri minority and a smaller Turkmen one. Apart from the small Bahui minority all other languages are Indo-European. The largest language is Farsi which is spoken by slightly more than half the population. Other minority languages are Kurdish, Luri, Mazani and Gilaki. The country being so oppressive of women is the fault of regional reactionaries. They kidnapped the revolution in 1979 and have all the time since had too much political power. Iran might even had stated to secularize as a counter-reaction to this.
East of Iran lies Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan are both dry and mountainous. Apart from the Uzbek minority Afghanistan is Indo-European-speaking. The two largest languages in the country are Dari and Afghan. Please note that Dari and Farsi are mutually understandable. On the other hand there is an Afghan minority in parts of northwestern Pakistan. Unfortunately there are amongst the Afghans a group consisting some of the world’s worst sexists. They are called Talibans and have arisen in sex-segregated refugee camps. Many boys spend their entire puberty without any contact with gals. There they were taught a degenerate species of Islam by men which could not read the Quran. When they came into contact with gals as adult they got panic from their own reactions. At the same time they lacked grasp of what a normally functional society is like. The result was a militant movement most closely resembling a dangerous cult. I don’t think today’s Talibans are so much better than that.
Pakistan is only mountainous to the north and west. The rest of the country is rather flat and is dominated by the Indus River. It starts in the western Himalayas and reaches the sea in southern Pakistan. Apart from the Bahui minority the country is entirely Indo-European-speaking. The largest language is Punjabi which is also spoken in India. Still, the native speakers consists less than half of the country’s population. Other languages include Afghan, Sindhi, Saraiki, Urdu and Balochi. Different groups use Urdu to talk with each other. It is mutually understandable with Hindi. About 7% of the population descends from Muslims refugees from India. They fled when the former British Raj was divided into India and Pakistan. The Talibans’ fear of women and girls is on top of already high sexism. The later has most to do with individuals in positions of power still believing in hierakism. They don’t understand the point of their subordinates having rights.
North of Afghanistan and Iran lies the former Soviet Central Asia. It consists of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Each of these countries has its own majority language. Tajik is an Indo-European language which is mutually understandable with Farsi and Dari. Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Turkmen and Uzbek are in contrast all Turkic. Most inhabitants in the area have a mix of European and East Asian traits. There are white minorities too, which mainly speak Russian. These countries are less warm than how some imagine the Middle East. They mostly consist of desert and steppe with mountains in the southeast. Parts of the mountains are wooded but agriculture usually requires irrigation. Too much water being taken from the rivers has lead to the shrinking of the Aral Sea. Once the world’s forth largest lake it is nowadays divided in three. So people should talk about the Aral Lakes instead.
Which standard of living do the countries have in the belt from Morocco to Kazakhstan and Pakistan? The poorest of all these countries are Afghanistan and Yemen. In the latter there is civil war, moreover. Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria and Tajikistan have a higher overage standard of living. This means a proportionally smaller fraction living in absolute poverty. I think Iraq would have had even higher if it was not for accumulated environmental problems. Syria would definitely have if it was not for the civil war. Before the war broke out in 2011, the country had a considerable middle class. The same now applies to nearly all of the other different countries not found on the Arabian Peninsula. The wealth there I have already mentioned. Israel, Kazakhstan and Turkey are now considered high income countries. In particular, Israel is presumably the country which general standard of living people know about. That it has risen in the other countries too, is to far too many unknown.
Uploaded on the 7th of February 2024.
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