I saw Battle Of Control For Southern Libya this morning and I went digging. Recall that Sudan: Africa’s Yugoslavia? provided background on the breakup of Sudan, and in Nightwatch: Syria, Jordan & Mali briefly described the north/south split in Mali.
I found a high quality map of African ethnic groups and cropped the area of interest from it.
And then I found a Libya specific map, which disagreed a bit on the extent of inhabited areas in southern Libya. White in the crop from the larger map indicates the area is uninhabited.
Then I found the oil map. This seems to me to be a bright spot – the Toubou were marginalized under the Gadaffi regime so they have neither a geographic claim on Libyan oil nor would it seem they’d have any expectation of benefit from it. The nature of the situation would seem to indicate that oil revenue was used to make their lives harder.
Starting with Nigeria and Mali in the west and ending with Sudan and Somalia in the east, Africa is in chaos as the old dividing line between Arab Muslim Norther Africa and black animist or Christian Southern Africa.
The colonial lines on the map, created only a hundred years ago, are also becoming blurred, as both U.S. military power and European development funds dry up due to a variety of factors. The ethno-linguistic map above may be a better guide to understanding happenings in Africa than the formal lines on the map, which have been shifting and blurring since European colonialism’s peak a century ago.