[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.]

Arabica (Volume 66, Issue 3-4)

The Myriad Sources of the Vocabulary of ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd al-Kātib (d. 132/750)

By: Wadād al-Qāḍī

Abstract: Not available

Kātib or muwaṯṯiq? New Approaches to the Writing of Private Arabic Documents in Granada

By: Sergio Carro Martín

Abstract: The particular style of the Granadan notaries (muwaṯṯiqūn) incorporates atypical letters, graphs and symbols that give their documents a formal and original character that is more befitting of the works of the secretaries (kuttāb). The presence of these features in documents within an official and administrative environment (dīwān al-inšāʾ) yields the question of whether the training of Granadan notaries, in their function as scribes, was the same as that of the kuttāb. The aim of this article is to analyze the graphical peculiarities of Granadan notarial documents and to see to what extent these features are present in the chancellery documents or works commonly attributed to the kuttāb. This includes a review of the paleographic features of the notarial documents in contrast to the Maghribi script standards.

Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (Volume 39, Issue 2)

Professions of Friendship: Revisiting the Concept of the Political in the Middle East

By: Kabir Tambar

Abstract: This essay examines “professions of friendship”: efforts by populations who are targeted as enemies of the state to proclaim their historical fidelity to the state’s foundation and preservation. Such declarations often reinscribe a rigid and often violently statist narrative of politics. The essay argues that the retrenchment of this narrative, when reissued in the name of friendship, does not simply close down political options. It seeks to embolden sentiments of moral obligation across instituted lines of enmity. These solicitations of friendship are burdened by a particular historical task: to envision a past and a future of social cohabitation in a present where its possibilities have been violently undermined and morally devalued. The essay centers on two instances that bookend the past century: the first was delivered in Istanbul by an organization speaking on behalf of Armenians living in territories claimed by the Turkish nationalist movement in 1922; the second was issued by a Kurdish Peace Mother in Diyarbakır, as a plea for an end to state violence in late 2015.

Ali Shariati and Cosmopolitan Localism

By: Siavash Saffari

Abstract: Leading twentieth-century Iranian public intellectual Ali Shariati has been described by some as a proponent of a project of nativism and cultural authenticity. This article offers an alternative reading of Shariati, one that highlights the germination of his thought in a process of constant oscillation between particular historical-sociopolitical attachments and a decidedly cosmopolitan intellectual horizon. This oscillation, it is argued, while born out of the core-periphery dynamics of commodity and knowledge production within a colonially constructed world order, nevertheless allows Shariati to transcend postcolonial anxieties and nativist traps even as he calls on his fellow Iranian and Muslim intellectuals to attend to resources within the local culture and to delink from Eurocentric and colonially globalized knowledge regimes. In order to place his thought within the broader framework of the emergence and evolution of anti- and decolonial thought, Saffari reads Shariati in dialogue with some of the leading twentieth- and twenty-first-century critics of colonial modernity: Muhammad Iqbal, Frantz Fanon, Enrique Dussel, and Walter D. Mignolo. Saffari argues that the oscillation between local attachments and cosmopolitan vistas in Shariati’s work is best understood as a function of his cosmopolitan localism.

The Outside (Kharij) of Tradition in the Aftermath of the Revolution: Carl Schmitt and Islamic Knowledge in Postrevolutionary Iran

By: Milad Odabaei

Abstract: After Iran’s 1979 revolution, the energies that had animated the struggle for a modern Islamic government were partially redirected to the task of the renewal of the Islamic tradition. Paradigmatic of this effort is “the Cultural Revolution” that has sought to combat what Islamic activists perceive as the destructive effects of Western culture and to align the production of knowledge with the teachings of Shi’i Islam. The effort to produce modern Islamic knowledge, however, has paradoxically intensified the translation of European thought and invested it with the ethos of seminary education. Drawing on a long-term engagement with postrevolutionary Iranian intellectuals, including fieldwork in Tehran and Qom, this article offers a historical and anthropological exploration of the interrelated questions of tradition, transmission, and translation. It is ethnographically centered in a seminar in which seminarian-academics translate Carl Schmitt, among others, to make sense of, and intervene in, Islamic politics. It highlights how European concepts and forms of thought come to mediate the relation between seminarian-academics and the Islamic tradition, its forms of knowledge, and its modern politics and argues that the elision of the historical incommensurability of European discourses renders the enacted tradition foreign to itself.

Wishful Landscapes: Protest and Spatial Reclamation in Jaffa

By: Noa Shaindlinger

Abstract: The article, based on two years of fieldwork, examines the meaning of displacement for Palestinian citizens of Israel who live in Jaffa. Specifically, it focuses on one key site, the Clock Tower Square, historically a hub of Palestinian urban economy. The discussion follows a group of local Palestinian activists who consciously chose the square to stage protests, thus reclaiming Arab Jaffa’s material heritage and directly challenging recent histories of spatial expropriation by the Israeli state, the Tel Aviv municipality, and real estate developers. The analysis below also proposes a multiscalar understanding of these protests as a reclamation of Jaffa’s Arab heritage as well as an act of remapping the nation and its colonized homeland. In this sense, the Clock Tower Square activists produce “wishful landscapes” that work to undermine the colonizer’s project of normalizing occupation.

Nizwa Fort: Transforming Ibadi Religion through Heritage Discourse in Oman

By: Amal Sachedina

Abstract: Since becoming a nation-state in 1970, Oman’s expanding heritage industry has included the restoration of castles and citadels, including the fort at Nizwa. The fort was once the administrative and juridical center of the Ibadi Imamate (1913–58). As the site of sharia adjudication, it sanctioned a past of primarily moral nature, oriented toward God and salvation and grounded in Ibadi doctrine and practice. This mode of history implied that everyday interactions and relationships could be assessed through exemplary forms of morality, as embodied by virtuous forbears. Yet the heritage project in modern Oman has treated history and Islam as seemingly separate, erasing formal awareness of the sociopolitical and ethical relationships that once characterized Ibadi rule. Today, the historical work done by the fort as a heritage site entails a progress-oriented future, reconfiguring Ibadi Islam in the process.

The Historicization of Sharia and Historical Generalization

By: Guy Burak

Abstract: This review essay seeks to offer an analytic/historiographical framework that would pay closer attention to the imperial legal landscape and the Hanafi jurisprudential tradition. This framework, I believe, adds to the continuum that Beshara B. Doumani proposes, which is based on the political economy of different localities across the Ottoman Eastern Mediterranean and, perhaps, well beyond. Taken together, both aspects of the framework reveal the complexity of the Ottoman legal landscape. They also suggest new directions in which Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean could be generalized while retaining the rich local dimension of the work.

Legal History between the Humanities and Social Sciences

By: Julia Stephens

Abstract: This Kitabkhana contribution situates Beshara Doumani’s Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean: A Social History within recent trends in the field of legal history. Doumani’s hybrid method, which combines quantitative analysis with qualitative case studies, presents a particularly fruitful model for new work in the field.

Sharia and Kinship in the Ottoman Eastern Mediterranean

By: Nada Moumtaz

Abstract: This essay engages Beshara Doumani’s Family Life in the Ottoman Mediterranean. It highlights Doumani’s significant deconstruction of the culturalist assumptions of the category of the Arabor Muslim family. Based on the wealth of the archive uncovered by Doumani, the essay calls for further engagement with the Islamic legal tradition in the analysis of sharia court records in order to better understand the relation between state, law, and community. Finally, it elaborates on Doumani’s important contributions to the anthropology of kinship.

Global Media Journal (Volume 17, Issue 32)

Songs from Egyptian Slums to Media

By: Dina Farouk Abou Zeid

Abstract: Mahraganat is a new genre of songs in Egypt with Arabic and Western music besides strange lyrics. This genre is influencing and being influenced by cultural, social, economic, political and technological changes especially after 2011 revolution. It has started in slums in Cairo and has gone viral among Egyptians especially the youth even between high and middle social classes. Mahraganat is considered a new phenomenon that needs to be studied and understood. The research study applied Bordieu’s cultural capital theory and Peterson’s cultural omnivore theory to explain the popularity of Mahraganat songs. The researcher conducted a survey of 100 Egyptian university students from rich districts in Cairo. The results show that Mahraganat is an example of the shift from univore taste to omnivore taste among youth from high social classes. Also, mass media and new media have been playing an important role in its widespread and popularity.

NGO and Media Appeals Usage in Egypt: Ramadan as a Case Study

By: Heba Elshahed

Abstract: Civil society organizations are found in various forms and scale. They devote effort and resources to wide range of causes. One vital form of civil society organization is nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Like various civil sector entities, NGOs operate within a rigid financial environment. The non-profit organization-donor relationship is crucial to a sustainable performance of the non-profit sector. Literature review suggested that people have an internal reward for virtuous behavior acting as an internal rewards mechanism. Building upon such hypothesis, NGO needs to utilize all possible donations techniques for survival. Given the mass media’s vital role in advocating any development program and shaping public opinion, media appeals are broadcasted via a medium with substantial magnitude of audience and viewership. This study used content analysis to assess media appeals-mainly focusing on fear and empathy – shown during commercial breaks among three top ranked Egyptian satellite networks, with highest ranking during primetime viewership.

Attitudes of Audience towards the Communicational Activities of Public Relations of Dubai Municipality

By: Fawzia Abd Allah Al-Ali

Abstract:The media industry greatly developed and has become a huge industry with its investments of human and financial resources, which ensure that its work is managed effectively. In addition to being a media industry with an economic profit, it also has a societal relation to its audience and the society in which it operates. Media organizations deals with various categories of audience; both inside and outside the organization, which emphasizes the importance of public relations management in managing the communicational process with those audience in an organized and purposeful manner. Adapting individuals and communities to social reality is considered important and necessary for the sake of public interest.

International Politics (Volume 56, Issue 3)

Leveraging interregionalism: EU strategic interests in Asia, Latin America and the Gulf region

By: Katharina Luise Meissner

Abstract: The European Union’s (EU) use of interregionalism in its foreign policy is longstanding. This also translated into trade negotiations with regional organizations: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Yet, the EU waived interregionalism in favor of bilateralism in negotiations with ASEAN and CAN, while it maintained interregionalism toward the GCC. Why is this so? Investigating the EU’s strategic interests in these regions, the article argues that geoeconomics drove the negotiations with ASEAN and CAN, while political interests in counterbalancing the USA and China motivated the negotiations with the GCC. Thus, in the first two cases, the EU sacrificed interregionalism for an ambitious trade agreement, whereas with the GCC it maintained interregionalism although this prevented the conclusion of an eventual agreement. Leveraging interviews with EU officials, this article provides a nuanced perspective on strategic interests in interregionalism.

The precarious role of emerging powers in a transforming international order: the Brazilian and Turkish initiative for a nuclear deal with Iran

By: Ariel Gonzalez Levaggi, Suhnaz Yilmaz

Abstract: This article analyzes the complex dynamics of international hierarchy and functional delegation among established and emerging powers, by focusing on one of the most pressing and highly debated issues of the global security agenda, nuclear non-proliferation. While the established powers delegate some responsibilities in mediation efforts to enhance the legitimacy of the liberal international order, this delegation of a mediator role has challenges and limitations, as well. Therefore, this article examines the Joint Declaration by Iran, Turkey and Brazil (Tehran Declaration) on nuclear fuel in May 2010 as an empirical case that reveals the challenging quest of emerging powers to elevate their position in the hierarchical pyramid of the international order. We argue that the Nuclear Deal reflects the limits of the functional delegation in the international order, since the emerging powers encounter difficulties in their mediation efforts, particularly when they want to display more foreign policy autonomy.

Decoding Turkey’s institutional accommodation in the changing international order: the UN and G20 cases

By: Emel Parlar Dal, Ali Murat Kurşun, Hakan Mehmetcik

Abstract: This article attempts to assess Turkey’s accommodation to the US-led global governance at the institutional level using T.V. Paul’s institutional accommodation strategy. In doing so, it specifically deals with Turkey’s accommodation in two specific international institutions: the UN as the major global governance institution and the G20 as an informal international platform. Departing from the existing literature on accommodation, this study first proposes and outlines a new typology for peaceful accommodation. The second part seeks to analyze and compare the main driving factors of Turkey’s institutional accommodation in the UN and G20. Finally, the third part seeks to operationalize the analytical framework of institutional accommodation strategy for understanding Turkey’s institutional accommodation in the examples of the UN and G20. This study concludes that although Turkey’s accommodation and its institutional form can be nuanced from that of other rising states, Turkey has the capacity to act as an “intermediary accommodator” for becoming a responsible stakeholder in global governance.

UN paralysis over Syria: the responsibility to protect or regime change?

By: Shahram Akbarzadeh, Arif Saba

Abstract: The Syrian conflict, now in its eighth year, is a bitter example where a sovereign state and the international community have manifestly failed in their responsibilities to protect civilians from mass atrocity crimes. What factors have prevented the international community from fulfilling its obligation under the principle of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to save Syrian civilians? This paper argues that the contradiction between the protection of civilians and regime change has undermined international confidence in the principle of R2P and tarnished it as a tool for US foreign policy agendas. This argument is developed by a review of R2P’s conceptualisation followed by examining its implementation in Libya. This study concludes that the conceptual confusion and the Libyan experience have broken the international consensus on R2P and paralysed the United Nations in dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Syria. More specifically, the UN Security Council’s disagreement over the means to protect Syrians has made R2P itself an impediment to its operationalisation.

The Obama administration and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Revolutions. Taming political Islam?

By: Mohamed-Ali Adraoui

Abstract: This article deals with US policy towards the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. How has the leading world state power been dealing with the main Islamist movement, especially in the aftermath of the Arab upheavals? What is the intellectual approach to political Islam, specifically within the Obama administration? Has the anti-US potential been tamed or not? In light of the discourse held by US leaders and diplomats, I highlight the difficulties in addressing the Muslim Brotherhood. More specifically, I shed light on the way US policy of engagement towards the Islamist movement has been conducted.

Iran and the Caucasus (Volume 23, Issue 3)

The Impact of the Black Death on Iranian Trade (1340s-1450s A.D.)

By: Ahmad Fazlinejad, Farajollah Ahmadi

Abstract: The Great Plague, generally known as the Black Death, swept many parts of the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe in the mid-14th century repeatedly for decades and inflicted widespread demographical, social and economic consequences. Contrary to the common attitude of researchers in neglecting the spread of the Black Death in Iran during the 14th century and its relapse periods, findings of this study indicate that the Great Plague, which had numerous victims in Iran, mostly disrupted the country’s commercial relationships with the plague-stricken trade routes and centers. Moreover, due to the tragic consequences caused by the Black Death, Iran lost its position as one of the main routes in the international trade. In this study, based predominantly on historiographical sources in Persian and Arabic, Iran’s position in international trade in the era of Black Death is analyzed.

Einige Paschto-Etymologien

By: Julian Kreidl

Abstract: Although our knowledge of Pashto etymology has greatly increased in the last century, most notably due to George Morgenstierne’s “A (New) Etymological Vocabulary of Pashto” (1927, 2nd and improved edition 2003), the origin of many Pashto words remained unknown so far. The present paper discusses eight further Pashto etymologies. Four of these are inherited from Proto-Iranian, two are Indo-Aryan, one is of mixed origin, and one is originally Arabic. Discussing the hail word in Pashto, I also argue for the loan of the Bactrian cognate into Persian.

Journal of Democracy (Volume 30, Issue 3)

Polarization versus Democracy

By: Milan W. Svolik

Abstract: When can we realistically expect ordinary people to check the authoritarian ambitions of elected politicians? An answer to this question is key to understanding the most prominent development in the dynamic of democratic survival since the end of the Cold War: the subversion of democracy by elected incumbents and its emergence as the most common form of democratic breakdown. This article proposes an explanation according to which political polarization undermines the public’s ability to serve as a democratic check: In polarized electorates, voters are willing to trade off democratic principles for partisan interests. The article presents evidence that supports this claim; raises questions about the real-world relevance of conventional measures of support for democracy; and highlights the importance of understanding the role that ordinary people play in democratic backsliding.

Egyptian Youth’s Digital Dissent

By: Adel Iskandar

Abstract: Young people were at the forefront of the millions-strong 2011 uprising against the corrupt and authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Eight years since this uprising, many of these young people find themselves besieged, disengaged, and disgruntled amid a resurgence of militarized authoritarianism. This article examines the state of Egypt’s youth and argues that through the dynamics of dissociation, disenchantment, and desecration, these youth are creatively confronting and deflating the state’s propaganda using digital artistic productions such as suggestive caricatures, sarcastic memes, and video pranks. Although such expressions are often seen as lacking political resonance or outcomes, they take on a particular import against the backdrop of a stark and resilient youth boycott of invitations to state-sponsored electoral and political participation. Given that many scholars were blindsided by the rapid and sustained revolutionary mobilizations of 2010 and 2011, it would be wise not to overlook the effects of low-grade humorous online dissent on the long-term development of political culture, and particularly a burgeoning grassroots culture of democracy, in Egypt and other countries affected by the Arab Spring.

Journal of Social History (Volume 52, Issue 4)

Urban Violence and Space: Lutis, Seminarians, and Sayyids in Late Qajar Iran

By: Farzin Vejdani

Abstract: This article adopts a spatially grounded approach to the study of everyday urban crime involving ruffians (lutis), seminarians, and sayyids (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad). It begins by considering the types of crimes and punishments prevalent in Qajar Iran before examining the spatial exceptions to the operation of law in the form of sanctuaries (bast). It then explores exceptional circumstances under which crime and violence went unpunished, such as large-scale mobilizations involving powerful urban notables. Conflicts over Islamic endowment resources, embedded spatially in shrines and mosques, pitted neighborhoods against one another, with the state playing the role of a mediator and trying to manage social conflict. Raids into Jewish quarters reflected spatially structured conflicts, as well, because the appropriation of economic resources was at stake. Much like sanctuaries, Jewish quarters had an exceptional spatial status since violence, pillage, and plunder could occur there with relative impunity during specific historical moments. This article then analyzes the economic activities of lutis, who were often part of extortion rackets as a supplementary or primary form of employment. The article ends by considering the social biography of a well-known luti whose life exemplifies how lutis faced state sanction when engaged in petty crimes but acted with impunity when operating as part of a powerful vertical social network. I argue that the daily patterns of violence involving marginal groups revolved around access to the resources of the specific aforementioned spaces and that sanctuaries created opportunities for these marginal groups to evade the implementation of the law.

The Tarbush Transformation: Oriental Jewish Men and the Significance of Headgear in Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine 

By: Caroline R Kahlenberg

Abstract: This article traces the shifting meanings of the tarbush (or fez) among Oriental Jewish men in late-Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine. It demonstrates how the seemingly superficial issue of what men wore on their heads in fact reveals much about the broader historical changes in Oriental Jewish social identities and political loyalties during a period of rising Jewish and Arab tension in Palestine. Under late-Ottoman rule, many urban Jewish, Christian, and Muslim men alike donned this red, felted headgear as a unifying symbol of local and Ottoman identity. Over time, however, as the Jewish-Arab national boundary grew more rigidly defined under British rule, the tarbush increasingly became a marker of difference: It came to signify predominantly Arab, non-Jewish identity. While some Oriental Jewish men in Palestine continued to wear the tarbush for decades, thereby preserving a visible sartorial link with Palestinian Arabs, most eventually abandoned this headgear. Some did so in favor of more “modern” clothing endorsed by the British rulers and European-dominated Zionist leadership, while others were forced to abandon the tarbush during outbreaks of ethnic and national violence, when they were occasionally targeted by both Palestinian Arab and Jewish militants. Building on recent scholarship exploring the role of Oriental Jews in the Zionist movement and Arab-Jewish social relations in Palestine, this article demonstrates that removing the tarbush was not simply a matter of changing fashions; it was socially and politically imposed through symbolic and real violence that sought to eliminate any Arab-Jewish middle ground.

Journal of the American Oriental Society (Voolume 139, Issue 2)

Blood on the Wind and the Tablet of Destinies: Intertextuality in Anzû, Enūma eliš, and Erra and Išum

By: Selena Wisnom

Abstract: Enūma eliš and Erra and Išum are richly intertextual poems that both make sophisticated allusions to Anzû. Both do so in competitive ways: Enūma eliš reshapes earlier motifs towards its goal of elevating Marduk and Babylon over the gods and cities that came before them, while Erra and Išum uses allusions to undermine the image of Marduk that Enūma eliš creates. Ti‘āmtu’s blood carried on the wind to announce Marduk’s victory and the tablet of destinies which Ti‘āmtu fastens to Qingu’s chest are two well-known examples of borrowings from Anzû in Enūma eliš. This article traces them through all three poems and shows how they are transformed in each. In the case of Enūma eliš the way that the poem deploys these allusions has previously been called clumsy because they stand out and do not appear to fit seamlessly into the narrative. Yet a closer analysis reveals that they have been much better integrated than is usually recognized, and that their subtleties make important contributions to the program of Marduk supplanting Ninurta. In Erra and Išum the chain becomes ever more complex: the motifs refer back both to their original contexts in Anzû and to their occurrences in Enūma eliš, implying a self-conscious awareness and exploitation of techniques used by earlier poets.

Gender and Politics at Ugarit: The Undoing of the Daughter of the Great Lady

By: Christine Neal Thomas

Abstract: The integral role of royal women in political systems structured by diplomatic marriage is revealed in a series of legal verdicts from a case that involved the rulers of Late Bronze Age Ugarit, Amurru, and Ḫatti. These verdicts adjudicate the divorce, loss of political status, and execution of a royal woman who was the wife of the king of Ugarit, the daughter and sister of two successive kings of Amurru, and the granddaughter and niece of two successive Hittite Great Kings. The undoing of her multivalent political status destabilized the regional and imperial system in which she was enmeshed. Protracted negotiations were required to restore equilibrium to the system. Examination of the rhetorical and legal strategies through which these negotiations took place reveals the extent to which the relative power of royal men depended on their relationships to royal women.

The God Gad

By: Ryan Thomas

Abstract: Although a Canaanite deity named Gad has long been known to have had a cultic following in the Levant, relatively little attention has been devoted to elucidating its character, status, and relationship to other major gods. The following study aims to investigate the nature of the deity by culling information from a broad analysis of West Semitic personal names carrying this theophoric as well as synthesizing the data with diverse biblical and inscriptional material. Several lines of evidence are adduced to suggest that Gad is not an independent West Semitic divinity but merely a descriptive epithet of the personal god El.

Cross My Heart and Hope to Die: A Diachronic Examination of the Mutual Self-Cursing (mubāhala) in Islam

By: Rana Mikati

Abstract: This article examines the development of the ritual of mubāhala, a category of oaths and mutual self-cursing, during which two individuals seek to confirm the veracity of their creedal position by appealing to God’s curse upon them. Based on a prophetic precedent embedded in Q 3:61 and reported as a challenge purportedly employed by the Companions Ibn Masʿūd and Ibn ʿAbbās, I argue that the practice of resorting to mubāhala in the Sunni tradition goes through two main phases of reinvention and legitimation before its reappearance in the contemporary Muslim world. The first phase belongs to the anti-Monist controversies of the seventh to ninth/thirteenth to fifteenth centuries, while the second appears among reformist scholars starting in the late eighteenth century.

Justus Raphelengius (1573-1628) and Turkish Folk Tales

By: Nil Palabiyik

Abstract: Justus Raphelengius, a Leiden printer and orientalist scholar, translated into Latin a sixteenth-century manuscript compilation of Turkish folk tales associated with the famous Anatolian comic figure Nasreddin Hoca. This article considers the role of Raphelengius’s translation within the framework of the manuscript circulation and print production of Nasreddin Hoca tales in Europe from the first dated manuscript to twentieth-century printed editions. Raphelengius’s editorial choices for his intended publication, the style of his Latin translation, and his excision of bawdy or sacrilegious passages from the original text come under scrutiny.

Mediterranean Politics (Volume 24, Issue 2)

Between hierarchy and heterarchy: Post-Arab uprisings’ civil–military relations and the Arab state

By: Ruth Hanau Santini, Francesco N. Moro

Abstract: Every actor who commands coercive resources plays a relevant role in the complex processes of state restructuring following regime change. The role of armies in the 2010–2011 Arab uprisings has been widely explored, but limited attention has been devoted to how different agents with coercive power have been involved in the restructuring of political order. This contribution presents the theoretical framework within which the remaining empirical contributions are situated. The central insight is that better understanding of the emerging political orders requires moving away from binary notions of hierarchy and anarchy as ordering principles and look at how, within heterarchical political orders, coercive agents behave within fluid state–society relations.

Outsourcing state violence: The National Defence Force, ‘stateness’ and regime resilience in the Syrian war

By: Reinoud Leenders, Antonio Giustozzi

Abstract: This article engages with and contributes to a nascent debate on state-sponsored militias by way of an analysis of the formation and deployment of the Syrian regime’s National Defence Force (NDF). This militia emerged from the regime’s rich repertoire in outsourcing violence and allowing ‘heterarchical orders’ to serve regime maintenance purposes at home and abroad. During the Syrian war (2011–…), the key rationale for using such militias is primarily to address manpower shortages. For an important but limited period, the NDF served this goal well as it contributed to the regime’s military advances. The regime’s devolution of its violence to militias including the NDF brought about a sharp contraction of its ‘stateness’ but this did not constitute ‘state failure’ or its collapse. In this context, the regime’s elaborate measures to manage or counter the risks and downsides of deploying non-state militias such as the NDF underscore its general adaptability in its authoritarian governance.

Like father like son: Libyan civil–military relations before and after 2011

By: Florence Gaub

Abstract: This article finds that in contrast to other cases of civil–military relations in the region, Libya does not fit a regular praetorian stereotype; rather, the interaction between its armed forces and their civilian counterparts has been paternalistic in nature. As a result, the Libyan military was the subject of destructive civilian interference throughout its modern history, and therefore incapable of delivering on its raison d’être, i.e., defence. This curious and ultimately negative interplay between civilian and military leaders in Libya draws attention to the generally understudied role of Arab civilians in the control of armed forces outside democratic structures – and highlights the state-fracturing consequences of this type of interaction.

Determinants of political instability across Arab Spring countries

By: Nayef Al-Shammari, John Willoughby

Abstract: This paper investigates the determinants of political instability across Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with special attention to the Arab Spring-affected region. The yearly data-set covers 19 countries in the MENA region for the period 1991–2014. The study uses pooled ordinary least square (OLS), fixed effect and random effect approaches. Our most robust result indicates that political instability in the region is very sensitive to exogenous food price shocks. Youth unemployment and regime durability are also strong predictors of unrest. The frustrated educated youth explanation of the Arab Spring is, however, not borne out by our study. The connection between the presence of democratic institutions and political unrest is more complex. Our results confirm other studies which find that more democracy leads to less unrest. On the other hand, our focused study of five Arab Spring countries and Egypt finds the reverse. Our results are sensitive to the ways in which the variables are defined. It is always important to use alternative empirical specifications when undertaking econometric investigations of political processes.

Party dualities: Where does political Islam go now?

By: George Joffé

Abstract: One of the unusual features of the recent emergence of moderate Sunni Islamist political parties onto the formal political scene in the Arab world as a result of the Arab Awakening is that they nearly always emerge as elements in political dualities. Thus the party – a political movement – is wedded to a social movement and, sometimes, to a trade union as well. In addition, the social movement usually predates its parallel political movement. Furthermore, this structural duality seems to be confined to the Sunni world and often seems to be associated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The question then is precisely why this dual structure has been generalized within the political arena now colonized by moderate Sunni political Islam; is it a consequence of formal legal constraints upon such movements or does it respond to their internal dynamics? A further question raises the issue of why these dualities are not replicated within the Shi’a context or amongst secular political movements. And, finally, have they been paralleled amongst political movements arising from different religious traditions and what are the likely outcomes?

Drawing Cyprus: Power-sharing, identity and expectations among the next generation in northern Cyprus

By: Ergün Özgür, Nur Köprülü, Min Reuchamps

Abstract: In order to capture how young people in northern Cyprus see the Cyprus Question, we asked more than 300 students to ‘draw Cyprus’ and surveyed their political attitudes, as well as their identities and preferences for the future of the island. The results show that the Turkish Cypriot students, in comparison with the students from Turkey and from the other countries, are more supportive of a decentralized federative structure, identify themselves with the Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot identities, and more willing to embrace a consociational approach to the Cyprus Question.

Middle East Report (Issue 291)

Weaponizing Iraq’s Archives

By: Wisam H. Alshaibi

Abstract: Not available

Israel’s Vanishing Files, Archival Deception and Paper Trails

By: Shay Hazkani

Abstract: Not available

An Archive of Literary Reconstruction after the Palestinian Nakba

By: Chana Morgenstern

Abstract: Not available

The Secret Lives of UAE Shell Companies

By: Florence Wolstenholme

Abstract: Not available

Paper Trails Pedagogy

By: Laleh Khalili

Abstract: Not available

The Egyptian Revolution’s Fatal Mistake

By: Aly El Raggal

Abstract: Not available

Exposing Jordan’s Gas Deal with Israel

By: Hisham Bustani

Abstract: Not available

Uncovering Protection Rackets through Leaktivism

By: Ala’a Shehabi

Abstract: Not available

Protest Camp as Counter-Archive at a Moroccan Silver Mine

By: Zakia Salime

Abstract: Not available

Revealing State Secrets through FOIA Research

By: David H. Price

Abstract: Not available

Political Science Quarterly (Volume 134, Issue 2)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Calculated Ambiguity Toward the Two-State Solution

By: Guy Ziv

Abstract: Guy Ziv analyzes the case of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s endorsement of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He argues that Netanyahu’s  June 2009  declaration was a  tactical maneuver rather than a reassessment of his beliefs.

Explaining Why Some Muslims Support Islamist Political Violence

By: Christine Fair and Parina Patel

Abstract: C. Christine Fair and Parina Patel examine why some Muslims support Islamist political violence. They find, among other things, that those who were more exposed to Islamist violence as well as those living in countries with larger Muslim populations were more supportive of political violence.

Military Insubordination in Popular Mass Uprisings

By: Holger Albrecht

Abstract: Holger Albrecht explores the effects of popular mass uprisings on civil-military relations in authoritarian regimes. Drawing on cases from the Arab Spring, he examines different types of military insubordination and the conditions catalyzing military coups, mutinies, officer defections, and mass desertions.

Studies in Conflict &Terrorism (Volume 42, Issues 6 & 7)

Sinai’s Insurgency: Implications of Enhanced Guerilla Warfare

By: Omar Ashour

Abstract: This article aims to explain the endurance of Sinai’s insurgency despite its limited military capacity and resources, and the overwhelming man- and fire-power of the incumbent’s regular and tribal forces. After reviewing the literature on how insurgents beat or survive strong incumbents, the article offers a short overview of historical developments and socio-political causes leading to the rise of Sinai Province and its military build-up. It then analyses, qualitatively and quantitatively, how Sinai Province fight, based on its original documents and releases as well as on interviews with individuals who fought against it. Finally, the article concludes with an explanation of why did the insurgency survive and, at times, expanded based on the quality of its military tactics. It also provides policy implications, as a result.

Minimizing Unintended Deaths Enhanced the Effectiveness of Targeted Killing in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict

By: Ophir Falk, Amir Hefetz

Abstract: Targeted killing has become a primary counterterrorism measure used by a number of countries in their confrontation with lethal threats. This article focuses on the impact of unintended deaths on the effectiveness of targeted killing. The article evaluates the effectiveness of targeted killings carried out in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict theater that resulted in unintended deaths, compared to the effectiveness of targeted killings where the intended target is the sole person killed. Using multivariate analysis, we demonstrate that targeted killings with unintended deaths were followed by a greater number of suicide bombings and associated casualties compared with targeted killings with no unintended deaths. Based on these findings, nations involved in such conflicts should strive to inflict as few unintended deaths as possible, not only because it is morally right, but also because it is more effective in mitigating terrorism.

Waves of the Black Banner: An Exploratory Study on the Dutch Jihadist Foreign Fighter Contingent in Syria and Iraq

By: Reinier Bergema, Marion van San

Abstract: Since the violent escalation of the Syrian conflict, 280 Dutch nationals have been flocking to Syria and Iraq to join jihadist terrorist organizations. Attempts to create a more comprehensive understanding of the backgrounds of these jihadist foreign fighters often rely on small-N, qualitative analysis. This exploratory study systematically assesses the backgrounds of 217 Dutch jihadist foreign fighters. Additionally, it further differentiates the different “waves” of fighters since late 2012, by looking at their characteristics and comparing their composition.

Transitional Journeys Into and Out of Extremism. A Biographical Approach

By: Stijn Sieckelinck, Elga Sikkens, Marion van San, Sita Kotnis, Micha De Winter

Abstract: This article describes an empirical study into processes of homegrown radicalization and de-radicalization of young people. Researchers in Denmark and the Netherlands set out to answer the question regarding what pathways in and out of extremism (mainly far-right or Islamist) look like “from the inside.” The analysis is informed by grounded theory, based on interviews (N = 34) with “formers” and their family members on their life courses. The study shows that radicalization often concurs with distinct social–emotional developmental challenges that young people face in the transition between youth and adulthood. A practical implication of the marked transitional sequences in these processes is that each type of radical journey may call for a different type of (re)action.

Hamas as a Wasati (Literally: Centrist) Movement: Pragmatism within the Boundaries of the Sharia

By: Sagi Polka

Abstract: This article examines Hamas as a test case for the struggle within Islam between two rival ideological streams: wasatiyya, whose principles were formulated by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1926), and Salafi-jihadism, which is the wellspring of global jihad. Hamas is a wasati movement, and its wasati principles serve as the basis for its polemic with Salafi-jihadists, who accuse both it and al-Qaradawi of heresy. The article also shows how the principles of wasatiyya afford Hamas flexibility and allow it to adopt pragmatic positions by distinguishing between immutable long-term goals and flexible means of pursuing them. Hamas translates the principles of wasati jurisprudence into practical political and military ones.

Terrorism and Political Violence (Volume 31, Issue 4)

Social Network Analysis of German Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq

By: Sean C. Reynolds, Mohammed M. Hafez

Abstract: Why do Westerners become foreign fighters in civil conflicts? We explore this question through original data collection on German foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, and test three sets of hypotheses that revolve around socioeconomic integration, online radicalization, and social network mobilization. We conduct link analysis to map the network of German foreign fighters prior to their mobilization, and marshal evidence to assess the validity of competing explanations. We find only modest support for the integration deficit hypothesis, and meager support for the social media radicalization theory. Instead, the preponderance of evidence suggests that interpersonal ties largely drive the German foreign fighter phenomenon. Recruitment featured clustered mobilization and bloc recruitment within interconnected radical milieus, leading us to conclude that peer-to-peer networks are the most important mobilization factor for German foreign fighters.

Terrorist Assassination and Institutional Change in Repressive Regimes

By: Laura N. Bell

Abstract: Missing from the political violence literature is an in-depth and systematic examination of the effects of terrorist assassination on state political institutions in repressive regimes. By broadening the scope and depth of empirical research into terrorist assassinations, the potential exists to enhance our understanding of the outcomes of assassination by terrorist actors as well as our overall understanding of political violence in repressive regimes. Utilizing survival analysis and data from the Global Terrorism Database, the Polity IV Project, and the Political Terror Scale, this project focuses on the post-terrorist assassination institutional outcomes in repressive regimes. While the effects are long-term, the most repressive regimes are the most likely to experience political institutional shifts in the wake of terrorist assassinations. The direction of the institutional shifts is mixed, but results indicate that the level of state repression in existence prior to a terrorist assassination matters to post-terrorist assassination outcomes.