At any time in history there are countries on the way in or out – breakaway states eager for independence or now clamouring to be reassimilated into their former motherlands. This is the current crop of nations in waiting – coming soon to a checkpoint near you.
Potentially, West Palestine (a Hamas-run Islamic Republic of Gaza) and East Palestine (a Fatah-controlled West Bank). A secure, unified Palestinian state is probably the only plausible route to peace in the Middle East – if such a thing is possible. Israel, granted security guarantees of its own, could acquiesce to such a plan in final recognition of the fact that all else has failed.
This tract of northwestern China made a bid for independence – as East Turkestan – before Mao squashed those ambitions in 1949. The Muslim Uighur people who prevail in the region pursue their claims with sporadic violence. China calls them terrorists and responds accordingly. But enough terrorism, as the French learnt in Algeria, is often a match for a standing army, however ruthless.
In the two anglophone provinces of predominantly francophone Cameroon, an illegal but non-violent campaign is afoot to establish a separate state. That quasi-dictator Paul Biya regards the threat as serious is shown by the frequent arrests and imprisonments to which the movement’s leaders are subject. Further oppressions could see pro-independence feeling gather critical mass.
The anachronistic Stalinist theme park of North Korea cannot, one would hope, defy sense forever. Should the regime finally crumple beneath the weight of its own folly, then, just as West Germany absorbed its formerly communist eastern compatriots in 1990, there would appear to be nobody better qualified to help North Korea return to the world than South Korea.
Iraqi Kurdistan has been the relative success story of the Iraq war: peaceful and prosperous, its internal power struggles suspended and its own airline flying internationally. With their traditional oppressors in chaos (Iraq); fearful of jeopardising EU membership (Turkey); or distracted (Iran), nobody should be surprised if the Kurds start singing their own nation’s anthem.
Somaliland, once the British-held portion of what is now Somalia, declared independence from the rest of that ravaged country in 1991 and has been waiting for recognition ever since. Somalilanders have quietly founded a government, military and judiciary and issued currency and passports. There are signs that some African states are beginning to acknowledge Somaliland’s status.
The predominantly Albanian enclave has been a UN protectorate since NATO halted Slobodan Milosevic’s troops rampaging through it in 1999. A plan for independence designed by the UN envoy is before the Security Council. Serbia and Russia will grumble, but Kosova should take its place. And it’ll be Kosova, not Kosovo – the former is the Albanian pronunciation; the latter the Serb.
Officially, Taiwan remains a part of the People’s Republic of China. Both China and Taiwan have recently asserted their rival ambitions with increasing belligerence. A formal declaration of independence by Taiwan’s nationalist government would be a colossal gamble on China’s reluctance to intervene militarily – and on America’s willingness to help if China did intercede.
In theory, there is no reason why Basra, urban centre of the oil-sodden south of Iraq, could not become a gleaming, glass-walled 21st-century boom town in the manner of Dubai. It’s also quite easy to imagine Britain – whose beleaguered forces are deployed there – and America deciding that they’d rather this fractious tribal realm was Iran’s predicament, not theirs.
Though there seem few causes less pressing than the need to free Scotland from the iron grip of England – whose present reign of terror includes letting a Scot run the place – the pro-independence Scottish National Party is now the largest party in Scotland’s parliament. If it calls a referendum, and that referendum passes, Scottish independence is a when, not an if.