[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the ninth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise one-to-three parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
Arab Studies Quarterly (Volume 41, Issue 3)
Captured by the Quagmire: Iraq’s Lost Generation and the Prospects for Children across the Arab Region Today
By: Shireen T. Ismael
Abstract: Increasing legibility is now available through NGO and U.N. data, which has been collected across Iraq, for an assessment of the contemporary state of social welfare amongst Iraqi children and the residual effects of the regime change that took place in 2003. This data will be examined, contextualized to the post-2003 period and the potential for theory-building will be explored. The picture that emerges suggests the level of humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the U.S.-led 2003 invasion and occupation recommends further interrogation of the policy of ‘regime change’ for its role in informing U.S. actions. Additionally, such catastrophic humanitarian outcomes lead to questions surrounding future use of regime change efforts. The Iraqi case exhibits the destruction of the state apparatus, with social and cultural institutions built from Iraq’s 1932 independence, rather than a direct replacement of those ruling the state. Iraqi children, not yet born when the 2003 invasion took place, have borne the brunt of the Iraqi state’s destruction, with an absence of care from those who carried out the change in regime.
The Clashing Religions at Turbulent Political Times
By: Samar Attar
Abstract: “The Clashing Religions at Turbulent Times” describes the tragic relationship between the Islamic Civilization and the West throughout history to the present day, and the reaction of 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century writers in Britain, and the rest of Europe, to the devastating historical events and numerous translations of Arabic and Islamic sources into Latin, English and other languages. Extraordinary zeal both in politics and religion leads to nothing but bloodshed and wars, and creates eternal enmity between nations. Social, political and religious toleration is a moral virtue and an essential key to our mutual peaceful coexistence in this world.
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 46, Issue 3)
A ‘nation in exile’: the renewed diaspora of Syrian Armenian repatriates
By: Marisa Della Gatta
Abstract: Since the escalation of the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis in 2011, almost a fifth of Syrian Armenians in Syria have fled to Armenia. Most of them are descendants of the Armenian Genocide (1915) victims, who found shelter in Syria a century ago. Contrary to expectations on ethnic repatriation, their displacement and attachment to Syria emerge. The study assesses this peculiar case of the origin and return of a ‘traditionally diasporic’ community by combining models offered by diaspora studies with analysis of qualitative research on Syrian Armenian returnees who fled war-torn Syria. Continuing on the pathway initiated with the ‘Great Repatriation’ of Armenian diasporans to Soviet Armenia of 1946, the return to Armenia is a prolonged trajectory of diasporic displacement. Syrian Armenians returning to Armenia experience a conflict-generated diaspora of diaspora in the supposed homeland of Armenia. Explanations include the dissociation between the imagined Armenian homeland and the legally constituted one in present-day Armenia, and between the latter and the motherland of Syria. This challenges the essentialist account of the Armenian diaspora and, ultimately, the hypothesis surrounding Syrian Armenian marginalization and gradual ‘exit strategy’ in Syrian society.
Corruption protection: fractionalization and the corruption of anti-corruption efforts in Iraq after 2003
By: Sarwar Mohammed Abdullah
Abstract: This paper argues that corruption protection arises because a central feature of Iraq’s institutional environment is its factionalised political system between groups (i.e. sectarian affiliation), and these groups both protect their members from corruption charges launched by other groups, and collude to protect each other from prosecution of corruption. The paper defines corruption protection as ‘action carried out to prevent perpetrators of corruption from being brought to justice’, which is a systematic attempt among corrupt agents seeking to evade accountability for primary corruption activity. The paper has identified two contrasting paths taken by these groups in power in the dynamics of corruption protection: (a) The competitive mode is illustrated by spurious allegations of corruption made by some groups against other groups. Tension between factions results in fake charges being brought against rivals which sometimes lead to wrongful imprisonment of the innocent; (b) collusive between intra-factional groups, corruptly conspiring to hide each other’s corrupt acts thereby constructing a shield which protects the entire elite in Iraq, an issue which I label ‘solidarity in corruption’. The paper will conclude that despite the apparent strength of anti-corruption framework, the reality tells us a very different story; the multiple institutions established to fight corruption and the system of accountability can also constitute a means for corruption protection.
Reza Shah’s journey into exile
By: Shaul Bakhash
Abstract: On September 16, 1941, three weeks after British and Soviet troops invaded Iran in the Second World War and occupied the country, Reza Shah abdicated the throne in favor of his son, quit Iranian soil and boarded a British ship to go into exile. The British refused to allow Reza Shah to choose his own place of exile (South America) and sent him to the island of Mauritius. This article examines British thinking that resulted in the choice of Mauritius as the place of exile. It traces Reza Shah’s journey across Iran as he prepared to leave the country; details the composition of the large party of family and staff that accompanied him; provides an account of Reza’s Shah’s reminiscences and reflections at this difficult and emotion-laden moment when he was forced to surrender power, and describes the ‘stooped and aged man’ he had become. It ends with the arrival of the ship carrying Reza Shah and the royal party in Mauritius.
Syria, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Qatar: the ‘sectarianization’ of the Syrian conflict and undermining of democratization in the region
By: Line Khatib
Abstract: Understanding the Syrian conflict only in terms of sectarian politics amounts to dismissing a very modern effort at emancipation within the context of the country’s populace fighting for its civil, political and economic rights, and in the process robs Syrians of their agency and diminishes their humanity. A closer look at events and political alignments in Syria reveals a more complex picture better understood through the lens of regimes’ desire to counteract the dissident and reformist dynamics that emerged with the Arab Spring. And while this paper is most certainly not minimizing the fact that the sectarian discourse and animosity, once activated, acquired its own dynamic, it underlines that this is not a case of so-called ancient sectarian rivalries emerging unprompted and of their own accord. As a result, the Syrian crisis and the regional ramifications of it can be appreciated as not simply identity politics writ large, but as an example of the authoritarian resilience paradigm in action. In making these arguments, this paper examines the interplay of the domestic and regional policies of three actors involved directly in the Syrian conflict: the Syrian regime, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. (considered as a unitary actor within the context of the Syrian crisis), and Qatar.
Equal partners? The Information Research Department, SAVAK and the dissemination of anti-communist propaganda in Iran, 1956–68
By: Darius Wainwright
Abstract: This article examines how the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department (I.R.D.) worked with SAVAK, the Iranian intelligence service, between 1956 and 1968. It explores how a mutual fear of the Soviet Union compelled both departments to work together to produce and disseminate anti-communist propaganda. As well as the publication of books, prominent Iranian journalists would be given stories that praised the Shah’s regime and discredited the Soviet Union. SAVAK figures were also invited to Britain by the I.R.D. to attend training sessions on producing propaganda. The ties between both agencies, however, meant SAVAK was able to persuade the I.R.D. to assist in the conception of anti-Arab Nationalist propaganda, something that contravened wider British foreign policy. Moreover, such an agency-led approach was rendered short-lived. By 1968, many of the SAVAK figures friendly to the I.R.D. were promoted and replaced by individuals less keen on working with the British.
Talismans and figural representation in Islam: a cultural history of images and magic
By: Negar Zeilabi
Abstract: Aniconism in Islam is one of the obvious presumptions of researchers in the history of Islamic arts. The main question addressed in this study is: What are the conceptions of people living in the earlier centuries of Islam regarding the issues of image and figural art? Or, in broader terms: What is the issue of animal or human representation in art which led to aniconism being enshrined in fiqh (religious jurisprudence)? Drawing upon primary sources, the study establishes that the Muslim mindset of image and figurative art in the early centuries of Islam—traced back to an old belief in the Persian, Egyptian and Ancient Palestinian civilizations—mainly pertained to the images which used to constitute the major elements of sorcery and talismans. Accordingly, aniconism did not proscribe images as aesthetic elements which also serve as the foundations of visual arts; rather, it was pitted against the practice of magicians and talisman makers. The genesis and perpetuation of aniconism in Islam are, therefore, associated with the cultural mentality of magic and talismans in step with the Quran’s explicit stance against polytheism and idolatry.
Party competition in the Middle East: spatial competition in the post-Arab Spring era
By: Ali Çarkoğlu, André Krouwel, Kerem Yıldırım
Abstract: This paper charts the nature of political cleavage between major parties in post-Arab Spring elections in five Mediterranean region countries, with data from online opt-in surveys. We compare the Moroccan elections, held under a consolidated authoritarian regime, with the transitional cases of Tunisia and Egypt as well as the more mature democracies of Turkey and Israel. Voter opinions are obtained on 30 salient issues, and parties and voters are aligned along two dimensions. We trace country-specific cleavage patterns and reflections of party system maturity in these five countries. The cases of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco reveal that in less settled cleavage structures there is little congruence between vote propensities for parties and agreement levels with policy positions compared to the more institutionalized democracies of Israel and Turkey where voters exhibit a higher likelihood to vote for a party as the distance between the voter and the party in the policy space gets smaller.
Iran’s 1907 constitution and its sources: a critical comparison
By: Eric Massie, Janet Afary
Abstract: Scholars of Iranian constitutional history have long recognized the influence of the Belgian and Bulgarian constitutions on the Iranian 1907 constitution. The exact character and extent of these and other constitutional influences have remained unclear, however. This article provides an analytical comparison of the 1907 Supplementary Fundamental Laws with the 1831 Belgian, 1876 Ottoman and 1879 Bulgarian constitutions that served as models and sources of inspiration. We also provide an easily navigable annotated version of relevant constitutional provisions in the footnotes for scholars interested in tracing models for particular provisions and have provided a complete version of the 1907 Supplementary Fundamental Laws and its sources on our website. In doing so, this article and the accompanying materials hope to clarify where these influences begin and end, where they have been modified or ignored, and where Iran’s constitutionalists innovated by introducing more stringent separation of powers or new institutions. It is thereby demonstrated that Iran’s constitutionalists critically engaged with previous constitutional traditions, rather than merely copying provisions from earlier models. Thus, Iran’s 1907 Supplementary Fundamental Laws should be regarded as an organic engagement with and global extension of the European liberal tradition, rather than as a merely peripheral or derivative development.
The ‘formal’ Marjaʿ: Shiʿi clerical authority and the state in post-2003 Iraq
By: Harith Hasan Al-Qarawee
Abstract: Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the name of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Grand Shiʿi cleric, has come to prominence. Sistani emerged as a key player in the processes that constituted and sustained the post-2003 Iraqi political order, as manifested in key events such as the writing of constitution or the mobilization against the Islamic State (I.S.). Nevertheless, Sistani did not have an official position in Iraq. Unlike the Iranian experience after the 1979 revolution which institutionalized the leading position of faqih (jurist), the Iraqi constitution set Iraq as a democratic, parliamentary state whose religious leaders held no formal offices. Indeed, Sistani rejected the Iranian model as unfit for Iraq’s conditions and societal fabric. Thus, given the absence of a constitutional status for Sistani, how do we understand his authority in Iraq? This article argues that although Sistani’s authority has not been constitutionalized, it was indirectly and roughly ‘formalized’ through practices and laws adopted after 2003. This formalization established a unique and unprecedented relationship between the state and the Shiʿi religious authority in the form of arrangements that, to a degree, blurred the lines between formality and informality and created a shared space of governance.
Understanding Arab civil society: functional validity as the missing link
By: Carmen Geha
Abstract: The study of civil society in the Arab region has been riddled with normative expectations largely derived from the experiences of civil society in other countries. While the region continues to endure a democratic deficit, it is also home to myriad civil society organizations working on a range of issues. The missing link when theorizing about Arab civil society has been in considering its functional validity in the eyes of the activists themselves. This article utilizes insights from focus groups with activists in Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq and Syria to propose a typology of the functional validity that civil society offers to Arab activists. Despite the criticisms that the concept of civil society has faced in the region, activists continue to find validity in the work they are doing. The typology proposed here presents a fivefold validity of action through neutrality, mobilization, democratic claim, access to funds, and representation for civil society activists. By bringing in empirical evidence from the activists themselves we can move away from normative expectations about civil society towards a better understanding of the various functions that civil society organizations are fulfilling in different contexts across the region.
Critical Studies on Terrorism (Volume 12, Issue 3)
Morality of Hezbollah’s conflicts with Israel
By: Zafer Kızılkaya
Abstract: This paper looks at how Hezbollah has legitimised its use of violence against Israel, distinguishing between distinct phases in its resistance. The paper compares Hezbollah’s discourse and behaviour with the ethical principles underpinning the Just War tradition (JWT) and the Islamic rulings on war. The paper contends that despite its terrorist label and the criticism surrounding its weapons, the group satisfied several conditions specified by the JWT and Islam. A big exception is the last resort criterion because, in Hezbollah’s view, armed resistance against Israel is the one and only option. Moreover, despite its intention to destroy Israel and its readiness to sacrifice fighters for this purpose, Hezbollah has shown restraint in its violence in line with the Islamic proportionality principle. Finally, the study points to the need for further research on the Islamic just war principles and on their role in judging the morality of Islamic non-state armed groups.
Topics in terrorism research: reviewing trends and gaps, 2007-2016
By: Bart Schuurman
Abstract: The topical focus of research on terrorism has frequently been critiqued for being too narrow, too event-driven and too strongly tied to governments’ counterterrorism policies. This article uses keyword analysis to assess the degree to which these issues remain present in the literature on terrorism as represented by the 3.442 articles published between 2007 and 2016 in nine of the field’s leading academic journals. Several fluctuations notwithstanding, research on terrorism has retained a strong focus on al-Qaeda, jihadist terrorism more generally, and the geographic areas most strongly associated with this type of terrorist violence. Results also indicate that the field remains event-driven and consistently underemphasizes state terrorism as well as non-jihadist terrorism, such as that perpetrated by right-wing extremists.
Terror in West Africa: a threat assessment of the new Al Qaeda affiliate in Mali
By: Megan Zimmerer
Abstract: In response to the chaos that ensued after the 2012 coup in Mali, tens of thousands of international troops were sent to West Africa to eradicate the jihadist threat emanating from the north. However, little discernible progress has been made since then and if anything, the threat seems to be growing. In March 2017, several high-profile terrorist groups merged under the banner of al Qaeda to form a new group: Jama’ at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM). The new group has already committed numerous attacks across West Africa since the merger, striking primarily French, UN, and West African security forces. This study constitutes an assessment of the newly merged al Qaeda affiliate in terms of intentions and capabilities, drawing upon elements of comparative historical analysis on the theoretical basis of rational choice to create a holistic assessment of the threat posed to key groups in West Africa.
The prosecution of “others”: presidential rhetoric and the interrelation of framing, legal prosecutions, and the Global War on Terror
By: Athena Chapekis, Sarah M. Moore
Abstract: In examining the Global War on Terror, the effects of presidential rhetoric on the framing of terrorism has been well documented. However, little previous work links terrorism and its status as an “othered” phenomenon to differential legal prosecution in a post-9/11 era. Using the Prosecution Project data set, we compared “othered” individuals, as defined by a Muslim, Arab/Middle Eastern, and/or foreign-born status, to “non-othered” individuals charged with terroristic felonies. Furthermore, we subdivided the dataset into three analytical time blocks: the George W. Bush administration immediately post-9/11, the latter half of the Bush administration, and the Obama administration. For the first and third time blocks, we found that “othered” individuals were prosecuted significantly more frequently than “non-othered” individuals. These findings call into question the effect of presidential rhetoric and the national framing of terrorism on the legal prosecution of “othered” individuals.
Democratization (Volume 26, Issues 4 & 5)
Autocratic checks and balances? Trust in courts and bureaucratic discretion
By: Cristina Corduneanu-Huci
Abstract: An emerging literature in political economy focuses on democratic enclaves or pockets of quasi-democratic decision-making embedded in non-democracies. This article first explores the factors that may lead to the emergence of such institutional checks and balances in autocratic politics. I use the comparative analysis of courts in Morocco and Tunisia, and argue that interest group mobilization and the centrality of legalism in political development have been essential for the existence of “governance” enclaves. Second, I explore whether such checks effectively contain everyday rent-seeking, as well as the theoretical channels through which this may occur. Findings from firm-level surveys conducted in Morocco and Tunisia in 2013 indicate that higher general trust in courts, even in modest relative terms, rendered businesses significantly less vulnerable to tax corruption in Tunisia, in sharp contrast to the Moroccan case.
Beyond elections: perceptions of democracy in four Arab countries
By: Andrea Teti, Pamela Abbott, Francesco Cavatorta
Abstract: This article draws on public opinion survey data from Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan to investigate first, whether a “demand for democracy” in the region exists; second, how to measure it; and third, how respondents understand it. The picture emerging from this analysis is complex, eluding the simple dichotomy between prima facie support and second order incongruence with democracy, which characterises current debates. Respondents have a more holistic understanding of democracy than is found in current scholarship or indeed pursued by Western or regional policymakers, valuing civil-political rights but prioritizing socio-economic rights. There is broad consensus behind principles of gender equality, but indirect questions reveal the continuing influence of conservative and patriarchal attitudes. Respondents value religion, but do not trust religious leaders or want them to meddle in elections or government. Moreover, while there is broad support for conventionally-understood pillars of liberal democracy (free elections, a parliamentary system), there is also a significant gap between those who support democracy as the best political system in principle and those who also believe it is actually suitable for their country.
Shaking off the neoliberal shackles: “democratic emergence” and the negotiation of democratic knowledge in the Middle East North Africa context
By: Jeff Bridoux
Abstract: There is a general assumption in democracy promotion that liberal democracy is the panacea that will solve all political and economic problems faced by developing countries. Using the concept of “good society” as analytical prism, the analysis shows that while there is a rhetorical agreement as to what the “good society” entails, democracy promotion practices fail to allow for recipients’ inclusion in the negotiation and delivery of the “good society”. Contrasting US and Tunisian discourses on the “good society”, the article argues that democracy promotion practices are underpinned by neoliberal parameters borne out from a reliance on the transition paradigm, which in turn leave little room to democracy promotion recipients to formulate knowledge claims supporting the emergence of alternative conceptions of the “good society”. In contrast, the article opens up a reflective pathway to a negotiated democratic knowledge, which would reside in a paradigmatic change that consists in the abandonment of the transition paradigm in favour of a “democratic emergence” paradigm.
Negotiating democracy with authoritarian regimes. EU democracy promotion in North Africa
By: Vera van Hüllen
Abstract: In order to better understand the dynamics of international cooperation on democracy promotion with authoritarian regimes, this article looks into the processes and results of negotiations on democracy (promotion) between the European Union (EU) and two of its North African neighbours (Morocco, Tunisia) in the decade leading up to the Arab uprisings. Asking if, how, and to what effect the EU and its Mediterranean partners have negotiated issues related to democracy promotion, it analyses official documents issued on the occasion of their respective association council meetings in 2000-2010. It shows that partners have indeed addressed these issues since the early 2000s, however, without engaging in substantive exchanges. Most of the time, conflicts have been neither directly addressed nor resolved. Where there are traces of actual negotiations leading to an agreement, these are clearly based on a logic of bargaining rather than arguing. These findings challenge the picture of harmony and cooperation between the EU and Morocco. Furthermore, they point to the low quality of these exchanges which reinforces the dilemma of international democracy promotion in cooperation with authoritarian regimes.
International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 51, Issue 3)
“The Fault of Our Grandfathers”: Yemen’s Third-Generation Migrants Seeking Refuge from Displacement
By: Nathalie Peutz
Abstract: Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Djibouti’s Markazi camp for refugees from Yemen between 2016 and 2018, this article examines the complex motivating factors that drove a subset of Yemenis to seek refuge in the Horn of Africa. Although the primary reason for their flight to the Horn of Africa was the ongoing war, a secondary but not inconsequential driver of many of these Yemeni refugees’ current displacement was their family histories of transnational migrations and interethnic marriages. This article argues that, for this group, it was their “mixed” (muwallad) Arab and African parentage and resulting alienation in Yemen that made their flight imaginable—and, in their view, imperative. Although “mixed motive migration” is not unusual, this example underscores how spatial and social (im)mobilities in Yemen and the Horn of Africa region have been co-constituted across generations. More importantly, it has critical implications for the recently adopted Global Compact on Refugees, which promotes (among other solutions) the “local integration” of refugees in their proximate host societies.
The Sound and Meaning of God’s Word: Affirmation in an Old Cairo Qurʾan Lesson
By: Nermeen Mouftah
Abstract: For centuries Muslims have asked whether the Qurʾan should be recited and memorized first and foremost, or whether one must prioritize understanding the meaning of its complex language. What is the best way to encounter God’s Word? To explore this question, a women’s Qurʾan lesson in a slum of Old Cairo illustrates modern Muslim anxieties over the place of discursive meaning in encounters with the Qurʾan. This article elaborates the concept of affirmation as an analytic to grasp how the women relate to the truth of revelation. Affirmation is a performative and discursive hermeneutic practice that deploys Qurʾanic citation, situates Qurʾanic concepts in daily life, and sutures the efficacy of Qurʾan education with correct language and with right action. Their lessons are indicative of reformist trends in Qurʾan education that open onto questions of meaning and understanding in relation to human interactions with divine speech.
Gender Anxieties in the Iranian Zūrkhānah
By: H.E. Chehabi
Abstract: The zūrkhānah is the traditional gymnasium of Iranian cities. Athletes exercised in a homosocial milieu that occasionally allowed for same-sex relations. Beginning in the 20th century, modern heteronormativity made such relations problematic, while gender desegregation allowed women to enter them. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, gender segregation was again imposed, while heteronormativity was maintained. In recent years, women have endeavored to make the zūrkhānah more inclusive. This article analyzes the contradictions and paradoxes of gender relations in the zūrkhānah by using classical poetry, modern novels, anthropological accounts, autobiographies, travelogues, and press reports.
Documenting Community in the Late Ottoman Empire
By: Henry Clements
Abstract: This article traces a conflict that erupted in the late 19th century between the Armenians and the Süryani. This conflict, I argue, precipitated nothing less than the creation of the Süryani community itself. The dispute began over the key to a closet in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but it quickly evolved. Soon, the Armenians and the Süryani were clashing over holy places all around Jerusalem. The dispute centered on an Ottoman administrative arrangement which had been institutionalized nearly 400 years earlier: yamaklık. The Ottoman investigators, however, were unfamiliar with this archaic arrangement and had to be reeducated as to its terms and its history. The Süryani and the Armenians offered divergent accounts. Where the Armenians furnished hard documentation, however, the Süryani could produce only claims to tradition and local practice. In this article I argue that, through this protracted conflict, the Süryani came to understand the importance of the documentary record in a post-Tanzimat Ottoman world. They thus turned to an alternative strategy that would conform to this documentary sensibility and render their community visible to the state: a series of petitions with thousands of Süryani signatures from around the Ottoman Empire.
Shiny Things and Sovereign Legalities: Expropriation of Dynastic Property in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic
By: Ceyda Karamursel
Abstract: This article probes the legal expropriation of dynastic property in the late Ottoman Empire and early Turkish Republic. Focused on the period from Abdülhamid II’s deposal in 1909 to the decade immediately following the abolition of the caliphate in 1924, it takes parliamentary debates as entry points for exploring how this legislative process redefined the sovereign’s relationship with property. Although this process was initially limited only to Yıldız Palace, the debates that surrounded it heuristically helped to shape a new understanding of public ownership of property that was put to use in other contexts in the years to come, most notably during and after World War I and the Armenian genocide, before establishing itself as the foundation of a new ownership regime with the republican appropriation and reuse of property two decades later.
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 15, Issue 2)
Dancing Queens: Queer Desire in Golden Era Egyptian Cinema
By: Mejdulene B. Shomali
Abstract: This article analyzes two popular Golden Era belly-dance films, Sigara wa Kass (A Cigarette and a Glass, 1955) and Habibi al Asmar (My Dark Darling, 1958), through concepts of queer spectatorship, queer time and space, homoerotic triangulation, and queer containment. The analysis centers women, attends to women’s homoeroticism and nonnormative desires, and reads popular film as constituted by and constituting of mainstream conventions of gender and sexuality. It argues that mainstream belly-dance films made considerable space for homoerotic exchanges amid women. Golden Era belly-dance films reveal a rich gender and sexual diversity in Egyptian cultural production, rather than the Orientalist representation of an explicitly homophobic “traditional” Arab culture. In this sense, the article recovers women’s nonnormative and queer legacies within popular Egyptian texts. It does not insinuate homosexuality as inherent but instead locates possible Arab cultural engagements with women’s queerness that have been overlooked.
Love, Lebanese Style: Toward an Either/And Analytic Framework of Kinship
By: Sabiha Allouche
Abstract: This article draws on a year of fieldwork conducted in Lebanon to highlight the paradoxical entanglement of power with romantic love in Lebanon, evident in the intricate gendered, aged, classed, and sect-related negotiations that accompany courtship periods. In addition, the article highlights the inclusive and relational qualities that external kin relations conduce. Kin approval ought not be seen as either/or divisive/conditional. For many of the couples interviewed, kin relations constitute an arena in which they can disseminate their affective bond. Such analysis is threefold. In addition to embracing the multiple subjectivity of the interlocutors, it moves beyond the standard political-economic approach that generally informs marriage studies in the Middle East and dismantles monolithic perceptions of Middle Eastern kin networks.
A Question of Personal Status: The Lebanese Women’s Movement and Civil Marriage Reform
By: Nelia Hyndman-Rizk
Abstract: Amid an enduring political deadlock in Parliament, the first civil marriage contracted in Lebanon in 2013 received significant media coverage in a country where the personal status law of eighteen recognized religious sects governs marriage. This case study examines the debate on civil marriage reform and the implications for women’s rights in Lebanon. For advocates, the recognition of civil marriage legalizes interreligious marriages, strengthens secular citizenship, shifts the jurisdiction of marriage from religious to civil law, and ensures women’s rights. Opponents, meanwhile, fear the loss of religious autonomy, the transformation of self-identification in Lebanon from sect to nation, and the destabilization of the confessional system. To date, civil marriage reform has been incremental, given clerical and social opposition, but the winds of change are blowing as couples increasingly take matters into their own hands to reform Lebanon’s system of personal status from the ground up.
Girl Guides, Athletes, and Educators: Women and the National Body in Late Colonial Algeria
By: Jakob Krais
Abstract: Algeria is often seen as a major instance of women’s emancipation in the Middle East of the mid-twentieth century. Whereas the scholarly focus has often been on colonial policies, French views, or the female participation in the war of independence, this article looks at the impact that new bodily practices, such as scouting and sports, had on gender relations within Muslim Algerian society during the last three decades of French rule. It contrasts the reformist discourse of the Islamic islah movement on women’s “emancipation” and education with the aspirations of young women themselves who started to challenge patriarchal authority.
Middle East Policy (Volume 26, Issue 2)
Military Orientalism: Middle East Ways of War
By: Ahmed Salah Hashim
Abstract: Not available
JCPOA Collapse: Will Proliferation Follow?
By: Farhad Rezaei
Abstract: Not available
Iran’s Transition to Renewable Energy: Challenges and Opportunities
By: Omid Shokri Kalehsar
Abstract: Not available
The Ankara‐Moscow Relationship: The Role of Turkish Stream
By: Dmitry Shlapentokh
Abstract: Not available
2019 Elections in Turkey: End of the Erdoğan Era?
By: M. Hakan Yavuz Nihat Ali Ozcan
Abstract: Not available
Russia’s Policy in the Libyan Civil War: A Cautious Engagement
By: Emil Aslan Souleimanov
Abstract: Not available
Qadhafi’s Nuclear Quest: The Key to North Korea’s?
By: Niv Farago
Abstract: Not available
Mauritania’s Anti‐Qatar Animus
By: Giorgio Cafiero, Shehab al‐Makahleh
Abstract: Not available
Testimony: Chinese and Russian Influence in the Middle East
By: Jon B. Alterman
Abstract: Not available
Book Excerpt: Crude Oil, Crude Money: Aristotle Onassis, Saudi Arabia and the CIA
By: Thomas W. Lippman
Abstract: Not available
Middle East Quarterly (Volume 26, Issue 3)
The End of the Syrian Civil War: The Many Implications
By: Eyal Zisser
Abstract: Not available
The End of the Syrian Civil War: Are the Insurgencies Truly Over?
By: Thomas R. McCabe
Abstract: Not available
The End of the Syrian Civil War: How Jordan Can Cope
By: Mohammed Bani Salameh, Ayman Hayajneh
Abstract: Not available
The End of the Syrian Civil War: Keep the PFLP on the EU Terror List
By: Jan Kapusnak
Abstract: Not available
The Middle East Journal (Volume 73, Issue 2)
The First Intifada, Settler Colonialism, and 21st Century Prospects for Collective Resistance
By: Nadia Naser-Najjab, Ghassan Khatib
Abstract: This article engages with the views of prominent leaders from the First Intifada to evaluate the possibility of a Palestinian uprising under existing circumstances. It provides insight into the past and present to establish a basis for contemporary struggle. In acknowledging the fragmentation of Palestinian land and population, the article argues that many of the features that made popular struggle possible during the First Intifada are now clearly absent, requiring a new praxis of resistance.
Palestinian Women Teachers in East Jerusalem: Layers of Discrimination in the Labor Market
By: Rawan Asali Nuseibeh
Abstract: This article focuses on the multiple layers of structural discrimination that Palestinian women face in finding employment in occupied East Jerusalem. Faced with limited opportunities in a stagnant economy, isolated from the rest of the Palestinian periphery, and not fully integrated into Israeli society, they are often more educated than their male peers, but family considerations and gender norms shape their educational and professional decision-making processes, trapping them in “feminized” professions such as teaching. As a result, Palestinian women in East Jerusalem have some of the lowest levels of labor participation, regionally and globally.
Smokescreen Diplomacy: Excluding the Palestinians by Self-Rule
By: Jørgen Jensehaugen
Abstract: For the United States and the Palestinians, 1977 was a diplomatic opportunity due to the election of President Jimmy Carter and changes within the Palestine Liberation Organization. While Carter aimed for a comprehensive peace to solve the entire Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel balked. Instead of blocking the process entirely, however, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin proposed Palestinian “self-rule.” While it enabled a separate Egyptian-Israeli peace process, the self-rule proposal was an obfuscation intended to continue Palestinian political exclusion and prevent Palestinian statehood.
A Political-Economic History of Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate: Authoritarian State-Building and Fiscal Crisis
By: Pete W. Moore
Abstract: Popular policy accounts of Jordan’s General Intelligence Directorate (GID) commonly detach it from the country’s history, society, and political economy. By isolating and focusing on the GID’s role as protector of the monarchy, one loses sight of other important effects of its historical evolution. This article explores the GID’s origins in the late 1960s and 1970s and how it has evolved. It positions Jordan’s security services as institutional and political- economic actors contributing to the decline of the Jordanian public sector and the emergence of a fiscal crisis.
The Politics of Development and Security in Iran’s Border Provinces
By: Eric Lob, Nader Habibi
Abstract: This article examines the politics of development and security in Iran’s border provinces from the 1979 revolution to the present day. We argue that there has been a narrowing division of labor between the government bureaucracy and security services regarding development and counterinsurgency in the border provinces. Since 2013, this outcome has created both cooperation and competition between the president and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in their efforts to improve development and security in these provinces.