Dizzying Explanation of Middle East Rivalries, Charted

A partnership of Slate and the New America Foundation.
Aug. 27 2013 9:45 AM

The Middle East’s Big Knot of Enemies and Allies, Visualized

In one chart.

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A letter to the editor published in Thursday’s Financial Times went viral this weekend for its concise yet overwhelming description of loyalties and animosities in the Middle East. Above, we’ve visualized the letter by plotting the factions it mentions and using blue arrows to indicate support and red arrows to indicate opposition. Even as a simplification—Qatar, a Gulf state, does not support Egypt’s Gen. Sisi, for example—the letter shows how knotted the conflicts in Syria and Egypt really are. A similar chart made by Egyptian blogger Big Pharaoh is even more detailed and bewildering. Unfortunately, infographics seem incapable of illustrating anything more than the frustrating complexity of the Middle East, but we already knew that.

Chris Kirk is Slate's interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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