The mapping and perception operations of the Middle East

Maps are the trademarks of modern political history. Maps are stories telling us about not only the nature of geography, but also its cultural aspects and how we should perceive them. In parallel with scientific developments, the gradation in the cartographic technique, the meaning of every line and the coded points occurred as the wonders of scientific rationalism. In other words, we have been taught how to look at the world. In line with these developments, political maps were culturally formulized perception-operations that were realized by people who attempted to identify the principals and the others in the world.

The notion of the empire on which the sun never sets was constructed on these maps. These maps were transformed into a mission of civilization through colonialist drawings. People believed that Europe was the central region of the world and that ancient civilizations represented geographically and historically secondary cultures. Ottomans were pushed to the periphery of history and geography through the use of these maps. On more recent maps, the post-Ottoman period, in which the borders are drawn by means of a ruler, were presented as an unquestionable and inevitable reality. In place of the century-old united territory, even the lines of a half-century-old-nation-state were not treated as the unshakeable and indisputable absolute borders. In fact, maps were nothing than the ideological reflections of science by which cultural codes were regenerated.

As the ideological codes of the modern science multiplied maps by using a special indication system, they served as the information systems that naturalized this act. Even though the dominant knowledge powers are extremely selective and partial on their recreated maps as ways of seeing, they were also quite useful in creating an objective, scientific image.

It was particularly easier to execute an instantaneous perception- management on maps in the digital age. The technological talent that infiltrated into communication networks hijacked our perception of reality by re-determining our cultural codes to the willing of its selectivity. The reality under the purity of visual documents is captured in so much as that even a non- existing thing encounters us in a state of a ‘simulacrum’.

A non-existing country’s fictitious borders in the sacredness of a modern nation state notion were presented as the infinite form of eternal reality.


Maps have been used as ideological extensions of scientificity and their transformation into perception-operations of global powers. All of this is not a new thing. That they become our world view is not a new thing, either. What is new is the current situation: Maps as being tools of perception operations were reactivated in such a way as if they had been resumed about the turned upside-down events in the Middle East. To put it simpler, both in the case of the invasion in Iraq and the internal war in Syria the mapped territory with the ‘absolutely correct coding’ are being re-shaped and our perception is manipulated in a similar management.

On the Syrian front, the progress of the violence-oriented ‘radical Islamists’ and their brutality were treated visually. It was carried out so well that one could have perceived them as casual. In asserting this perception, maps played a highly important role. On everyday maps that were interactively drawn, the posed question was, “As to what great extent were such ruthless – categorized as organizations of religious extremists – enemies of democracy and humanity dominated in Syria? On the green lush maps, the secular civilization seemed to be under a great threat.

The perception-management was run totally through digital mapping since the beginning of ISIS attacks. Visual witnesses could not keep pace with the enlargement of ISIS’ domination speed that was shown on certain maps. On the Mosul-Baghdad line, claims were mentioning an accelerating war pace that even was quicker than normal transportation conditions. The only witnesses being digital maps.

The whole region extending from the north of Baghdad to Mosul was mapped and given to ISIS already. Accordingly, a ‘terrorist, radical, religious extremist state’ menacing the whole world that annexed the middle and eastern Syria constructed it itself.

At every moment with the renewed digital maps, we were following up with the horrific development of the new wave in the Middle East as to how each location had fallen one by one by leaving a green spot on the map representing the area belonged to the organization.

The post-ottoman regional map that we were convinced to adopt and the debate of recent years, which was considered as a taboo, has now been turned upside down and this time we were being convinced to new absolute truths concerning its remapping.

The progress on a micro-scale was tracked on alternative maps that crashed this fiction as to say some were fabricating maps and expecting us to get used to new geographical and political realities. They were manipulating our perceptions.

All of a sudden, we found ourselves with a ‘media church clergy’ who were trying to explain to us why Iraq must be divided and using sacred and rational arguments in order to convince us to the given new situation.

As soon as I received the information concerning the ISIS move on the verge of Baghdad, I recommended for those who point out the significance of the danger to look at the broadcasted maps on international news agencies nowadays from this perspective to figure out what the objective is and how to grasp what is contrived.

These maps cannot tell us how things are organized in the behind the curtain, but they might hint at sufficient information regarding these people’s expectation of our perception.

As a matter of fact, the perception in these circumstances, especially in this territory, never intersects with the reality.

lgili YazlarEnglish

Editr emreakif on June 26, 2014



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