[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the sixteenth 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 three-to-four parts, depending on the number of articles included.]

Arab Law Quarterly (Volume 35, Issue 1-2)

Economic Systems of Muslims in History

By: Murat Çizakça

Abstract: During its long history, the Islamic world experienced three different economic systems. The original Islamic economy introduced by the Qurʾān and other classical sources of Islam, was a form of sui generis, commercial, pre-industrial and ethical capitalism. Evidence for this will be presented from the classical sources of Islam as well as from the history of Islamic economic thought. In later centuries it is possible to observe a transition from this unique capitalism towards more centralised structures, which reached its zenith with the Ottoman proto quasi-socialism. Most recently, after the Second World War, newly independent Muslims re-invented Islamic finance. Although an almost three trillion USD industry, so far this has been basically an imitation of conventional finance. Whether a truly modern and Islamic capitalism or another system will emerge from this, remains to be seen. Ample historical evidence across the Islamic world from West Africa to Indonesia is provided.

Sharīʿah-compliant or Sharīʿah-based? The Changing Ethical Discourse of Islamic Finance

By: Ryan Calder

Abstract: Observers call upon Islamic financial institutions to move beyond offering merely Sharīʿah-compliant instruments toward offering more Sharīʿah-based ones. But when did these terms come into usage, and why? What precisely do people mean by ‘Sharīʿah-based’? In this article we argue that the term ‘Sharīʿah-compliant’ emerged in the 1990s and allowed Islamic finance institutions to leave behind scandals of the 1980s, presenting Islamic finance anew as a technically rational project grounded in Sharīʿah expertise. In contrast, the call for Sharīʿah-based finance became popular in the 2000s, and especially after the 2008 global financial crisis, which made systemic stability and product transparency pressing concerns. Usages of ‘Sharīʿah-based’ fall into three categories: those that stress separation from conventional finance, those that stress authenticity, and those that stress welfare. This definitional multiplicity is not a problem but rather a starting point for debate and a sign of Islamic finance’s growing maturity as an ethical project.

The Typewritten Market: Shariʿah-Compliance and Securitisation in the Law of Islamic Finance

By: Valentino Cattelan

Abstract: By taking inspiration from Wisława Szymborska’s poetry and Brinkley Messick’s scholarship, this article interprets the law of Islamic finance as evidence of a radical shift in the social anthropology of Islamic law from classical to contemporary times. To this aim it highlights the changes from fiqh in medieval trade (where individual actions were judged according to rules legitimised by their own local context) to the current process of Shariʿah-compliance, arguing that this process belongs to a textual polity where standardised certificates, contracts and securities have replaced actual social relations in the global financial market. In the light of this, the article advances the notion of Typewritten Market to depict the nature of Islamic finance as a socio-economic space embodying a ‘de-materialised Šarīʿah’: that is to say, a meaning of Islamic law whose contemporary time belongs more to legal/financial technology rather than to Muslim human action.

Flexibility and Sharīʿah Compliance of Islamic Financial Contracts: An Evaluative Framework

By: Tareq Moqbel, Habib Ahmed

Abstract: Although the key distinguishing feature of Islamic finance is compliance with Sharīʿah, there is criticism from various quarters on the Sharīʿah compliance of its products. However, there is no objective way to assess the Sharīʿah compliance of Islamic financial contracts. This article develops a structured framework for analysing Sharīʿah compliance of Islamic financial contracts by deconstructing them and developing principles of evaluation based on concepts from Islamic legal theory. Other than providing a framework to assess Sharīʿah compliance of Islamic financial contracts, this article also alludes to an important issue regarding the contracts’ flexibility. Using concepts from Islamic legal theory, the article classifies different contractual stipulations according to their legal weight, and identifies how legal perspectives on the requirements of compliance can determine the flexibility of contracts. An evaluative framework is used to assess the Sharīʿah compliance of an actual muḍārabah (silent partnership) contract and finds it to be defective.

Murābaḥah Penalty Clause is Ribā in Disguise! The Penalty Clause Questions the Deep-rooted Preference for Literal Interpretation over Substantial Interpretation of Ribā

By: Faiza Ismail

Abstract: Following the literal interpretation of ribā, jurists have agreed that muḍārabah and mušārakah are legitimate modes of financing. As both arrangements are highly risky to manage in practice, murābaḥah has been introduced as an alternate mode of financing. Despite its extraordinary success, murābaḥah has led to moral hazard in the form of frequent delays in payments and defaults for which Islamic scholars have introduced a penalty clause as discouragement. Examination of the murābaḥah penalty clause instrument suggests that it is ribā, prohibited when interpreted literally. Moreover, the penalty clause has never been enforced in Pakistani courts. This article suggests that the literal interpretation based on the objectives of Sharīʿah (substantial interpretation) will prevent loopholes such as the abuse of the murābaḥah instrument and consequently the penalty clause as well and will lead to substantial compliance with the principles of Islamic finance.

Explaining the Modern Transformation of Islamic Legal Contracts: Theoretical and Practical Implications

By: Ismail Cebeci

Abstract: This article both examines changing contexts and factors that cause transformation as well as shows their effects on Islamic finance contracts. Here the author addresses his general theories in terms of modern iǧtihād (independent reasoning) on modern Islamic finance contracts. The main question is: ‘How have changing contexts and factors affected the emergence and transformation of Islamic financial contracts?’ The study addresses contexts, factors, and conditions that severely transform contracts. More specifically, the author argues that modern Islamic finance contracts have been transformed by the effects of changing factors and contexts. The main objective is to uncover modern contractual developments in Islamic finance and show how this transformation has made its mark on modern Islamic finance contracts. The study consists of a presentation of historical background, an explanation of socio-economic and ideological-ethical contexts and factors creating change, and a discussion regarding their effects on modern Islamic contracts.

A Conventional and Sharīʿah Analysis of Bitcoin

By: M. Kabir Hassana, Mohammad Sydul Karimb, Aishath Muneezacc

Abstract: The contention surrounding Bitcoin’s acceptability and usage has an unsettled premise in both conventional and Sharīʿah law, although digital and cryptocurrencies reflect a lasting reality. This research analyses this contention by examining the concept of currency and/or money and the underpinning trust reposed on its issuing authority against the notion that cryptocurrencies and fiat money differ only in form but share the same substance and purport. Qualitative methodology provides an analysis from conventional as well as Sharīʿah viewpoints to examine the extent cryptocurrencies can gain admittance in contemporary conventional and Islamic finance and economy. The methodology entails non-empirical secondary data sourced from libraries and online databases comprising journal articles, textbooks, newspapers and reports subjected to doctrinal content analysis. Research outcomes show division among stakeholders, including conventional and Sharīʿah scholars, regarding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Further research is recommended inter alia on ways to adopt Shariah-compliant cryptocurrencies worldwide.

Different Structure, Neither Debt nor Equity: What Should Be the Approaches for Restructuring Ṣukūk (Islamic Bonds) Default?

By: Rafisah Mat Radzi1

Abstract: This study discusses the issues of ṣukūk (Islamic bonds) default surrounding its transaction structures and potential for restructuring the default. By explaining the basic concept of ṣukūk structure, this study further provides a classification of ṣukūk from the perspectives of the standard-setting bodies and credit-rating agencies. Since the structures that underpin ṣukūk vary and technically ṣukūk is neither debt nor equity, this study provides the potential restructuring of ṣukūk in cases of default. The contingent approaches such as extending maturity, haircut and debt-equity swap are based on the classification of ṣukūk structures and require a case-by-case approach.

Sharīʿah Regulation and Supervision of the Iraqi Islamic Banking System

By: Shamsalden Aziz Salh, Mark Hyland

Abstract: This article critically evaluates the Sharīʿah regulation and supervision of the Iraqi Islamic banking system. Due to the country’s incomplete Islamic banking framework and lack of qualified Sharīʿah scholars, the Iraqi Islamic banking system is somewhat ineffective. In Iraq both the internal and external Sharīʿah supervisory systems in the Islamic banking sector are weak. The internal Sharīʿah supervisory system suffers from a shortage of qualified Islamic banking experts. At the same time, there is no effective external Sharīʿah supervisory system due to the lack of a Central Sharīʿah Board. This article examines the Sharīʿah supervisory system of the Iraqi Islamic banking industry by using case studies on Malaysia and Bahrain, both of which have a developed Islamic banking system. The Sharīʿah supervisory systems in these two countries are examined in order to propose an effective and comprehensive Sharīʿah regulatory and supervisory framework for the Iraqi Islamic banking industry.


Arab Media & Society (Issue 31)

COVID-19 Crisis Communication: The Strategic Use of Instagram Messages by the Bahraini Ministry of Health in Light of the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Model (CERC)

By: Naglaa Elgammal

Abstract: While social media is being increasingly used for health crisis communication, few studies, especially in the Arab region, have examined how it can improve strategic communication during various phases of any health crisis. The Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) model is one of the frameworks that focus on strategic communication of health crises through social media. Considering the limited number of Arab studies investigating the application of the CERC model during health crisis management, this study seeks to identify how social media can be utilized to implement the CERC model, by examining the uses of Instagram by the Bahraini Ministry of Health (MOH) in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. The results suggest that the MOH’s Instagram account was used strategically in this case. Results also provide information on how the MOH closely followed the actions recommended in the CERC model, implementing the different crisis stages: risk messages, warnings, preparations, uncertainty reduction, and efficacy.

The Impact of Social Media on Arab Health Risk Perception during COVID-19

By: Suzan Elkalliny

Abstract: During the pandemic, social media became a repository for information obtained through official pages of governments in charge. Official and unofficial news sources occasionally featured false or misleading news.This study focuses on Arab audiences from the MENA region, aiming to investigate their social media usage, reliance, and impact during COVID-19. The study collected data from various Arab countries using a quantitative survey methodology. Six hundred responses were received for the final sample. Covering various aspects, the study was developed on two theories: Media Richness and Media Dependency. This study confirms that during the pandemic, the Arab public has continued to shift toward preferring digital over conventional media. Evidently, there is a significant reliance on social media. However, there is limited awareness of the drawbacks of its use in terms of circulating fake news and rumours in the context of COVID-19.

The Use of Social Media in the Patient-Doctor Relationship: The Case of Iraq

By: Haitham Numan

Abstract: Many highly regarded medical doctors have developed guidelines to promote themselves professionally when connecting with their patients through social media sites (Sullivan 2018). However, many still use these platforms for marketing rather than disseminating appropriate medical information. This paper surveyed a sample of medical doctors in Iraq, and it aimed to analyze the motivations behind their use of social media to communicate with their patients. Follow-up interviews were organized at eight medical locations in Iraq, where the doctors were interviewed to gain additional data. Social media offers doctors the ability to enhance their relationships and improve their marketing, and this study identified high overall social media usage among doctors in Iraq (with 79% male doctors and 21% female doctors using social media). The participants’ listed specialties were as follows: 8% dentists, 10% internists, 20% general surgeons, 12% urologists, 4% cancer doctors, 9% OB-GYN, 4% family specialists, 9% pediatricians, 5% dermatologists, 2% ophthalmologists, 3% rheumatologists, and smaller percentages of anesthesiologists, radiologists, and orthopedists. Years of experience also proved to influence social media use, with less experienced doctors using it more often.

A Critical Content Analysis of Kuwaiti TV Shows and Plays on Disability Representations

By: Hussain Mohammed Alenaizi, Shahd Alshammari

Abstract: There is a dearth of disability literature in the Arab world, especially studies related to the cultural representation of disabled people in the media. This article provides a historical overview of television and theatre in Kuwait, an exploration of different disability perspectives such as the individual and the social models of disability, as well as cultural approaches to disability. This article also critically explores and analyzes the contents of a number of TV shows and stage plays that show disabled characters in Kuwait. After the analysis of multiple disability genres, and in relation to the literature, disabled people are found to be shown in a negative way as ‘tragic’, ‘pitiable’, ‘pathetic’, ‘evil’, ‘ridiculed’, ‘a burden’, and ‘God’s punishment’.

Arab Studies Journal (Volume 29, Issue 1)

Egyptian Textbooks in Times of Change, 1952–1980

By: Farida Makar, Ehaab D. Abdou

Abstract: Not available

Reconceptualizing Algeria in Italy: Amara Lakhous and Leonardo Sciascia

By: Claudia Esposito

Abstract: Not available

Arab Critical Culture and Its (Palestinian) Discontents after the Second World War

By: Adey Almohsen

Abstract: Not available

Israel Studies (Volume 26, Issue 1)

Memory as a Mobilizing Force: The Restoration of the Haredi World in Israel After the Holocaust

By: Michal Shaul

Abstract: The article illuminates the process by which the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) memory of the Holocaust has been transformed to enlist society in reconstructing consciousness of the tragedy into a carefully nurtured memory of idyllic ultra-Orthodox life in interwar Eastern Europe, with the assertion that there is a direct continuity between that vanished life and life in Israel today.

Right-Wing Elite on Israeli Campuses: The Herut Student Movement, 1965–1977

By: Doron Timor

Abstract: The article investigates the rising influence of the Herut-Liberal Party’s student organization. It focuses on the remarkable achievements of young activists who garnered ideological support for the party and were instrumental in the coming to power of a new leadership in the Likud-led government.

(Im)Possible Romance: Intimate Relationships Between Israeli Jews and Non-Jewish Germans in Contemporary Israeli Documentary Cinema

By: Liat Steir-Livny

Abstract: The article explores several Israeli documentary films of the past fifteen years which dare to touch on the under-researched subject of romantic relationships between Israeli Jews and German non-Jews, in three different documentary sub-genres. The main premise here is that overall, the heightened emphasis in Israel on Holocaust commemoration, the unique insights of second and third generation survivor offspring, the rise of globalization and the attraction felt by contemporary Israelis to Berlin have inspired the production of films that tackle a subject once considered taboo. Unlike current Israeli documentaries however, which treat political and social issues like the plight of the Palestinians, immigrant workers, asylum seekers, etc., and focus on “the other” or “the stranger”, the films discussed here, burdened by Holocaust memory, foreground the Jewish-Israeli side of the relationship, thus precluding an in-depth representation of the German side.

Israel and International Law: The Indigenous Concept in Supreme Court Rulings

By: Havatzelet Yahel

Abstract: In 2007, a majority of UN member states adopted a declaration regarding the rights of indigenous people. The declaration acknowledged a series of indigenous rights but failed to provide a concrete definition of who is indigenous. As a result, the term remained vague, open to interpretation and manipulation, and led to confusion and controversy. In Israel meanwhile the indigenous concept found a foothold in public discourse. The Israeli Supreme Court (ISC) first encountered the concept when Negev Bedouin citizens claimed indigenous land rights. Two years later, the ISC applied the same concept in a series of judgments regarding the status of the permanent residents of East Jerusalem. The article examines the way the international indigenous discourse has penetrated ISC rulings and analyzes the phenomenon in light of the judicial activism discourse.

Lone Jewish Medical Personnel in Arab Towns: A Conditional Presence in British Mandate Palestine

By: Reuven Gafni

Abstract: The article presents in a preliminary manner, a historical and geographical phenomenon that has yet to be dealt with extensively: The settlement and activities of Jewish medical personnel working alone in Arab towns and villages from the beginning of the Mandate period till the outbreak of the Arab Revolt:, the motives which led Jewish doctors to settle in Arab cities; the characteristics of their activities, medical and cultural; the relations they formed with the local Arab populace; and the circumstances which eventually led to the end of their activities in these cities. A sensitive reading of related sources may offer a deeper insight into the phenomenon as it was perceived within the bi-national context—mainly on the Jewish side, but on the Arab side as well. The article is based on current research dealing with Jews in Arab cities during the Mandate period, with a primary focus on several Jewish physicians who worked within an Arab milieu before the Arab Revolt.

Imagining Nations, Creating States: Nehru, Ben-Gurion and an Analogical Study of India and Israel in Post-colonial Asia

By: Khinvraj Jangid

Abstract: Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister (1947-64), and David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister (1948-54; 1955-63), played substantial roles in shaping two modern nation-states in post-Colonial Asia. The article is anchored by a comparative study of the two leaders who influenced nation-building through their individual political values and ideological convictions. The key question posed here is what similarities existed in the nation-building roles these figures played and how they may have contributed to the trajectories followed by their respective nations. Nehru and Ben-Gurion were both modernists in terms of their political visions of a secular, socialist-democratic and egalitarian state. Although the two men never met and remained on non-speaking terms because India had reservations about forging ties with Israel, they both represented qualities of leadership in Asia.

“Operation Good Neighbor”—Israel and the Rise and Fall of the “Southern Syria Region” (SSR)

By: Eyal Zisser

Abstract: The article examines the strategic calculations, assessments and dynamics behind Israel’s decision to establish the so called “Southern Syria Region” (SSR) as an undeclared security zone on the Syrian Golan Heights with the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. The article likewise considers Israel’s policy vis-à-vis various rebel groups and other actors in the SSR and ultimately, what led Israel to end its intervention once the Syrian army returned to the area.

United States—Israel Relations (1953–1957) Revisited

By: David Tal

Abstract: The accepted approach to American-Israeli relations during Eisenhower’s presidency (1953-1957) holds that Eisenhower was aloof and distant toward Israel. Yet, Eisenhower’s policies toward Israel during those years were nuanced and sophisticated, entwining interests and ideals. With the onset of the Cold War, Eisenhower aimed to preserve and increase American influence in the Middle East in a way that would not put Israel at risk, but would respond to concerns voiced at home about his policies toward Israel and the surrounding nations. Furthermore, the administration’s approach was more continuous with Truman’s than Eisenhower and Dulles let on, as evidenced by their policy of “friendly impartiality” toward Israel, attentiveness to Israel’s military and economic needs, and sensitivity to the views of American Jewry.

Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 17, Issue 1)

Lalla Essaydi’s Bullets and Bullets Revisited: Aesthetic and Epistemic Violence in a Globalized Art World

By: Naïma Hachad

Abstract: In Bullets and Bullets Revisited (2009–14) the Moroccan-born artist Lalla Essaydi invites the onlooker to reflect on the power dynamics of image production and consumption in a globalizing visual culture. As in the artist’s previous series, the photographs present Moroccan women in interior spaces and poses made familiar to an international audience by nineteenth-century European paintings. However, Essaydi trades Orientalism’s apparent realism and colorful decors for a monochromatic gold color scheme that originates from thousands of bullet casings she has meticulously sewn together to fabricate ceilings, walls, floors, furniture, jewelry, and clothes for her models. This article underscores how Essaydi’s use of a readable symbol of violence allows her to take part in and act on representational traditions that have shaped the perception of Arab Muslim women and the Middle East. Her violent aesthetics further account for curatorial and marketing practices that neutralize the subversive content of art by women originating in North Africa and the Middle East. Often shown in exhibitions featuring similar images and associating women with the veil, weapons, and scenes of destruction, Essaydi’s photographs are uncritically linked to events and situations as varied as the Arab uprisings, violence in the Palestinian territories, and the wars in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Instead of illuminating complex sociopolitical issues and reshaping dominant discourses, they become part of a homogenizing visual archive that sustains ways of seeing and producing the Middle East—as inherently violent and culturally backward—that are rooted in imperial imaginaries and political ideologies.

An Inner Voice Liberated: Feminist Reading of Lilian Weisberger’s Artwork

By: Shahar Marnin-Distelfeld

Abstract: This article examines the works of Israeli woman artist Lilian Weisberger, who creates girlhood images that look naive at first glance but are nonetheless multilayered and radical. This examination of Weisberger’s girlhood images is done here for the first time. Applying the bricolage methodology, the investigation of her artwork is based on a visual analysis, in-depth interviews with Weisberger, and feminist theories relevant to girlhood studies combined with several concepts from the field of psychology. Three series are discussed: the dark-gloomy images, bodiless images, and the group of super-girls and defiant ones. These images represent two substantial parts of the girl’s soul—vulnerability versus intensity—while metaphorically materializing a feminist call for authenticity and wholeness of the girl, and eventually the woman. Weisberger’s art embodies a quest for liberating an inner voice through creation.

Popularizing and Promoting Nene Hatun as an Iconic Turkish Mother in Early Cold War Turkey

By: Gözde Emen-Gökatalay

Abstract: This article traces Nene Hatun’s popularity and legacy for women’s image in Turkey. The rediscovery of Nene Hatun and the political construction of her public image during the rule of the Democratic Party (DP), as an icon of anticommunist Turkish mothers, not only maps out the gendered effects of intensified anticommunist policies in Turkey in the period under consideration but also showcases the immediate consequences of the growing conservative discourses and gender anxieties on the public images and roles of women. Exemplified by Nene Hatun’s sudden popularity, the 1950s witnessed a change in the references to motherhood in the discourses of politicians and other public figures. Framing the family roles of women as a question of security, such discourses referred to mothers as the protectors of family values against communist threats, which assigned further domestic duties to women in Turkey, already living in a strongly patriarchal society.

Styling Strength: Pious Fashion and Fitness on Surviving Hijab

By: Sonali Pahwa

Abstract: In 2014, amid anti-Islamist sentiment in Egypt, the athlete Manal Rostom founded a Facebook group to support hijabis. Intended as a space of internal discussion and solidarity, it grew into one of Facebook’s largest groups worldwide. Analyzing posts on this forum and its offshoot Instagram page, this article examines digital repertoires of Muslim women’s self-styling as both pious and liberal. While the women-only Facebook group reproduced existing religious norms in contemporary language, the Instagram platform generated self-modulated performances of fashion and fitness, blurring lines between liberal and Islamic feminism. The article analyzes the use of digital platforms to construct both a hijabi support group and an influencer platform, arguing that this two-pronged project signified hijab as an ethical and performance practice. As a symbol of self-discipline that moved between the worlds of style and sport, hijab in this digital forum supplemented representations of religious consumerism with competitive performances of strength.

From Guerrilla Girls to Zainabs: Reassessing the Figure of the “Militant Woman” in the Iranian Revolution

By: Arielle Gordon

Abstract: Scholars have long accounted for representations of women in the Iranian Revolution by categorically classifying them as “devout mothers” or “heroic sisters,” embodied respectively in the Shiʾi archetypes of Fatima and Zainab. However, a closer look at images of militant women finds them residing within the traditions of their time, as part and parcel of an era of liberation movements in which the idiom of the female fighter featured prominently. This article takes a transnational look at tropes of women’s militancy and traces how they filtered into Iranian revolutionary culture. Finally, it contends that only with the consolidation of Khomeini’s power and the start of the Iran-Iraq War is this figure renamed Zainab and sustained as a central icon of the Islamic Republic.

Mediterranean Politics (Volume 26, Issue 2)

Not International Relations’ ‘mare nostrum’: On the divergence between the Mediterranean and the discipline of International Relations

By: Deniz Kuru

Abstract: This study analyzes the (dis)connections between the Mediterranean and the discipline of International Relations (IR) by focusing on their interactions from two distinct but complementary perspectives. First, a comparative analysis of leading academic IR journals both from the most active IR scholarly communities (American/global, European, British) and across the northern/European Mediterranean region (Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and Turkey) looks to what extent topics related to the Mediterranean have found a place in these publications. Second, it offers a more disciplinary analysis that considers the reasons of IR’s lacking engagement with the Mediterranean, pointing to the discipline’s historical and sociological development that hindered a greater role for this significant region in IR theories and empirics. The study concludes by discussing the possibility of a Mediterranean IR theory that would consider the region’s distinct world historical role while pointing to the constraints faced by such an alternative theoretical framework.

From prison to parliament: Victimhood, identity, and electoral support

By: Kimberly G. Guiler

Abstract: Are voters more likely to support candidates who are victims of political persecution? I draw on an original survey with embedded experiments deployed in Turkey ahead of the June 2015 General Election to advance a theory linking political victimhood to an electoral advantage. The results suggest that voters primed with information about a candidate’s political imprisonment, on average, report higher ideological affinity with the candidate. In addition, respondents who identify as co-victims are more likely to say they would vote for a candidate who was imprisoned. These findings are significant and hold regardless of which party the candidate belongs to. Respondents presented with a candidate from the incumbent Justice and Development Party also report higher levels of trust and closeness with the candidate who was imprisoned. This pattern is consistent for voters with low trust in the Justice and Development Party leadership and low levels of religiosity, demonstrating that a history of persecution can broaden candidates’ support.

Toxic waste dumping in conflict zones: Evidence from 1980s Lebanon

By: Nils Hägerdal

Abstract: Records show that numerous countries experiencing civil wars – including Angola, Eritrea, Lebanon, and Somalia – witnessed environmental crime, such as the dumping of toxic waste. To explore the dynamics of waste crime in conflict zones I combine a historic overview of the international trade in toxic waste with a case study of the 1987 toxic waste dumping scandal in Lebanon. I show that conflict zones provide ideal conditions for waste criminals, that waste crime is an easy way for militias to profit, and that environmental crime differs sharply from other modes of predation in the political science literature.

The quiet revolution in Saudi-Israeli relations

By: Jonathan Rynhold, Michal Yaari

Abstract: This article charts the development of a quiet revolution in Israeli-Saudi relations, based on a wide variety of sources including interviews with senior Israeli and American officials and background conversations with Arab diplomats. The underlying cause of this revolution has been the dramatic increase in the threat posed by Iran, which has led to unprecedented strategic cooperation. For the first time, the Saudi regime has sanctioned steps towards normalizing relations with Israel prior to a comprehensive peace agreement. Of primary importance has been Israel’s willingness and ability to assist in countering Iran, and the lack of reliable and effective alternative means available to Saudi Arabia in this regard. At the same time, domestic politics in Israel – combined with the Saudi regime’s sensitivity to the transnational resonance of the Palestinian issue – continue to constrain the relationship. Consequently, without major progress towards a resolution of the conflict and Palestinian statehood, the full normalization of Saudi-Israeli relations is highly unlikely.

Middle East Law and Governance (Volume 13, Issue 1)

The Muslim Brotherhood: Libya as the Last Resort for the Continued Existence of the Global Movement

By: Haala Hweio

Abstract: The fall of the first Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and the ban of the movement in Egypt in 2013 increased the pressure on the Brotherhood’s branch in Libya to fulfill the group’s dreams of power. Libya now remains a potential chance for the group to realize its political ambitions of control and power. The desperation of the group pushed it to take extreme measures that contradict, on many occasions, the group’s declared principles of peaceful and gradual bottom-up change. The group uses all possible means to gain complete political control over Libya, which contributes to prolonging the conflict in the country.

Of Conflict and Collapse: Rethinking State Formation in Post-Gaddafi Libya

By: Emadeddin Badi

Abstract: This paper explores the relationships between the Libyan state and society, and the ways in which these dynamics affected the subsequent civil wars in 2011 and onwards. Beyond the commonly-studied impact of oil and state rentierism, this paper demonstrates that the enduring centralization of the state, Gaddafi’s dystopian governance system, the socio-economic and political cultures pre-2011, and the interplay between local systems of legitimacy and central authority have played an underappreciated role in the contemporary Libyan landscape. The continuities and discontinuities of order that defined and characterized the Libyan state before and after 2011 are thus dissected. An exploration of the appositeness of Eurocentric theories of statehood to the Libyan landscape unveils the pillars of legitimacy that defined Libyan statehood pre-Gaddafi. This sheds light both on how the Gaddafi regime sought to control society by often manipulating these pillars and on the ways in which Libyan society either directly and indirectly resisted his rule or rested in complacency. This covert resistance, which turned overt, widespread, and violent in 2011, paved the way for a discursive mutation of “tribalism.” This notion morphed from one of a group behavioral binding mechanism tied to blood lineage into one underpinned by notions of solidarity that override kinship. This analysis in turn elucidates the precarity of the Libyan state and explains the subsequent turmoil in the country post-2011, characterized notably by the emergence of armed non-state actors. A key discontinuity identified is in the realm of foreign influencers that have exploited long-standing domestic grievances and weaponized Libya’s traditional pillars of legitimacy, thus tearing at its society’s social fabric.

Youth as Agenda-Setters between Donors and Beneficiaries: The Limited Role of Libyan Youth after 2011

By: Chiara Loschi

Abstract: Based on interviews with young Libyan professionals carried out between 2017 and 2018, this paper examines their role as agenda-setters in international organizations operating in their country since 2011. The growing foreign demand for local expertise after the fall of the old regime was met mostly by the young activists who had helped organize the 2011 uprisings. For foreign organizations, Libyan youth have come to embody brokers, fixers, go-betweens, and persons-in-between, becoming key supporting actors in international project implementation. Despite the opportunities seemingly afforded by the collapse of the old regime, this paper shows that Libyan youth, torn between desires for political change and professional advancement, have struggled to influence the agendas of international organizations, leading to feelings of disenfranchisement. The transformative capacity of international projects is thus often limited by this new class of young, globalized elites who are disengaged from the local needs and realities facing Libyan civil society.

How Can Water Sector Cooperation Support Democratic Governance? Insights from Morocco

By: Annabelle Houdret

Abstract: This paper analyzes how development cooperation can actively support democratic governance through cooperation in the water sector. To answer this question, we develop an analytical approach based on democratization research and on water governance research. We tested the approach in three donor-supported water projects in Morocco and carried out over seventy interviews with key stakeholders. Our findings show (a) key factors influencing the scope for external support for democratic governance in the water sector, (b) potential negative effects of the support when local elites grasp new resources, and (c) unintended positive spill-over effects of water projects on democratic governance within and beyond the sector (for instance, strengthening formerly marginalized groups). As these empirical findings suggest, there is a potentially large scope of action for supporting democratic governance through water sector cooperation. We therefore highlight the need for more analytical and empirical research on causal interlinkages between these two fields of intervention.

Remembering Our Heroes: Global Jihad’s Militancy in a Comparative Perspective

By: Meir Hatina

Abstract: Many studies have been devoted to the features of global jihad (also known as Salafi jihadism), its historical development, its difference from other Salafi groups, or its struggles with ideological rivals. Little emphasis, however, has been given to global jihadists’ ideological genealogy, and hence to locating them in a comparative perspective. How did they commemorate their formative heroes, such as the medieval jurist Ibn Taymiyya and mid-twentieth century ideologues, such as Sayyid Qutb, Abu al-Aʿla al-Mawdudi, ʿAbd al-Salam Faraj, Shukri Mustafaʾ, Marwan Hadid or Saʿid Hawwa? Were these figures still perceived as cultural heroes, or were they shunned? Did their writings continue to provide sources of inspiration, or were they replaced by new manifestos? An in-depth discussion of these questions, based on a textual analysis of jihadi sources, may shed further light on global jihadists’ ideological evolution and self-perceptions. It will provide an additional prism for analyzing modern Sunni militancy, and scrutinize the extent its protagonists’ treatises match past traditions or, alternatively, deviate from them in favor of cultivated traditions, thus advancing a dissident agenda.

Middle East Policy (Volume 28, Issue 1)

The New Gulf Order: Crisis, Mediation, and Reconciliation

By: Majed Mohammed Hassan Al-Ansari, Bülent Aras, Emirhan Yorulmazlar

Abstract: The longevity and depth of regional challenges in the Middle East have elevated political and security concerns to a new level within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in recent years. Three conflicting worldviews have confronted one another, resulting in debilitating consequences for the region. Increasing fragmentation of Arab politics, in turn, has engendered attempts at enforced Arab unity that have ultimately failed, further dividing and destabilizing the regional order. This article delineates the background of the Gulf crisis of 2017 within the broader context of the Arab Spring and analyzes the ensuing attempts at mediation, the US role in the region, political developments in Kuwait and Oman, normalization efforts with Israel, and the recent resolution of the Gulf crisis by examining various actors’ political roles.

The Abraham Accords and Religious Tolerance: Three Tales of Faith-Based Foreign-Policy Agenda Setting

By: Hae Won Jeong

Abstract: How do religious tolerance and religious freedom affect foreign policy? How are they institutionalized across the signatories of the Abraham Accords? This article examines foreign policy agenda setting of religious tolerance in the United States, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. In the first section, the article analyzes discursive representations of the common roots of the three monotheistic religions and identifies recurrent tropes that highlight idealistic undertones in the Abraham Accords Declaration. In the following section, it critically examines the nexus between domestic and international politics and assesses the compatibility between social and public policy and foreign-policy agenda setting centered on interfaith diplomacy and dialogue. While this article acknowledges Donald Trump’s and previous US presidents’ contributions to the advancement of international religious freedom, it argues that Trump’s conflicting standards and selective approaches to foreign policy and human rights preceding the agreement have failed to promote constructive relations for furthering faith-based diplomacy. This article suggests that while the United States and the UAE laid the groundwork for promoting religious freedom and tolerance leading up to the Abraham Accords, projecting a coherent foreign-policy narrative across these contexts is hampered by institutional, legal, and political considerations.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the International Community

By: Najib Ghadbian

Abstract: This article analyzes the problematics of the international community’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis: patterns of displacement, including the lack of attention to basic needs, the limited economic opportunities in host countries, the conditions facing Syrian refugee children, the risk involved in migration, and the challenge of adapting to host societies. The article then elucidates the series of failures of the international community to address the causes of this displacement, despite efforts by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and international institutions to alleviate suffering. It traces the humanitarian mismanagement to political divisions in the international community, including the failure of Arab states, the Iranian intervention, and the role of the United Nations, Russia and the United States in aggravating the displacement. The article provides policy recommendations for international actors in order to honor their commitments to hosting refugees and addresses the political requirements for a lasting solution.

“Moderate” Arab States: From the Cold War to the Syrian Conflict

By: Yaniv Voller

Abstract: Moderation has been a recurring theme in international politics, particularly in the international politics of the Middle East, where foreign and regional actors have often categorized others and themselves as either “moderates” or “radicals.” However, very few works have sought to deconstruct the meaning of moderation in this context. Those that have addressed the issue have mostly treated moderation as a Western attempt to simplify regional geopolitics and dichotomize the actors to justify their choices of allies and foreign policy toward the region. This article argues that “moderate” has evolved from a category of analysis to one of practice. The so-called moderates, after negotiating the word’s meaning, have embraced it as a description of themselves. Through an examination of the evolution of the “moderate” Arabs label from the Cold War to the Syrian civil war, the article demonstrates that the word has evolved through negotiations among the foreign powers that introduced it and the so-called moderates themselves. Furthermore, it demonstrates the role that the label as a category of practice has come to play in regional geopolitics.

The Return of Great-Power Competition to the Middle East: A Two-Level Game

By: Jonathan Hoffman

Abstract: Great-power competition has once again assumed primacy in the international arena. Facing a rising China and a resurgent Russia, the United States formally reoriented its National Security Strategy in 2017 to place more emphasis on the return of great-power politics and global multipolarity. With the resumption of such competition, the Middle East has rightfully been noted as a regional theater where Russia and China have sought to exploit US policy blunders and retrenchment (real or perceived) to push for increased regional multipolarity. Although the Middle East has been recognized as a prime theater for great-power competition, the approaches adopted by most existing studies are primarily one-sided: they examine great-power competition in the region from the outside, stressing how global powers are manipulating affairs in the Middle East in order to advance their own interests. Often missing from this conversation is how external engagement in the Middle East is being exploited and shaped by regional powers and endogenous developments. This study seeks to fill this gap by using the conceptual lens of omnialignment to examine how regional powers are manipulating the return of great-power competition to advance their own strategic imperatives, both at home and abroad.

Playing with Information: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in the Russian Press

By: Dmitry Strovsky, Ron Schleifer

Abstract: This article examines how the modern Russian press covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both historically and currently. Since print media are some of the most popular sources of information in Russia, such analysis helps us understand the media’s priorities in presenting the conflict to Russian society. The article focuses on the inherently manipulative, albeit hidden, essence and layout of this material, which increases the likelihood of information bias. While the quality of the reporting on this conflict demonstrates the proximity of contemporary Russian media to the interests of the country’s ruling powers, it also provides opportunities for the government to influence its audience’s comprehension of Middle East politics.

Can Lebanon’s Economy Be Saved? A Plan for Revival

By: Leila Dagher, Raoul Nehme

Abstract: The recent financial and economic meltdown in Lebanon is the result of 30 years of social, economic, financial, and fiscal mismanagement, amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic and further exacerbated by the Beirut port explosion. Lebanese citizens’ trust, as well as the international community’s trust in the government, have unfortunately been destroyed. Consequently, Lebanon’s sole option is to rebuild confidence in the government and public institutions by implementing economic reforms and to seek an IMF program to pave the way for additional financing from other international sources. The most important confidence-building step is a clear financial and economic plan that has the support of all key stakeholders. This article presents a road map for a reforms-driven, export-led growth strategy for Lebanon. Ultimately, the goal is to jump-start the economy and put it on a path of sustainable, inclusive, and equitable economic growth. Such growth should be grounded in a small, open-economy model and driven by low tariffs, a flexible exchange rate regime, and a dynamic export sector built on competitive and comparative advantages. This plan partially builds on proposals and recommendations provided by previous economic plans and policy notes.

Eastern Mediterranean Gas Discoveries: Local and Global Impact

By: Sang Yoon Shin, Taehwan Kim

Abstract: The ongoing discoveries of natural-gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean region significantly affect international relations. Since their viability has been increasingly confirmed, they have attracted public attention in the international energy market. Focusing on current gas production and trading in the Middle East, this paper studies the anticipated impact of gas production in the sea on geopolitical relations in the Middle East and investigates how these results may change the geoeconomic strategies of global energy-market players as well as nearby countries. In addition, our analyses provide comprehensive insights into the evolution of gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Dam Wars: Are Ethiopia, Turkey, and Iran Leading to Water Armageddon?

By: Mohammed Bani Salameh

Abstract: Water shortages are a global problem; the world is moving fast toward a fresh-water crisis. Water resources are unevenly and irregularly distributed, and the Middle East is one of the driest regions in the world. Three-quarters of its land mass is arid, and most water resources originate outside the region. Continuing current practices will plunge the region deeper into crisis, creating conditions where conflicts and wars over scarce resources at local or national levels become inevitable.

Middle East Report (Issue 298)

Tunisia’s Marginalized Redefine the Political

By: Sami Zemni

Abstract: Not available

The Sub-Saharan African Turn in Moroccan Literature

By: Brahim El Guabli

Abstract: With the increasing presence of sub-Saharan African migrants in North Africa over the past decade, public discussions of race and prejudice are losing their taboo. Moroccan writers are encouraging a broader awareness of structural racism by including more Black characters in their novels and by depicting them as complex individuals struggling against inequality.

The Algerian Hirak Between Mobilization and Imprisonment – An Interview with Hakim Addad

By: Thomas Serres

Abstract: Hakim Addad has been a political activist in Algeria for decades. In this interview with Thomas Serres he discusses the increasing repression of peaceful demonstrators under President Tebboune, the positive role of a new generation of activists in the Hirak movement, his arrests and imprisonment and the challenges of being binational.

Life in the Vicinity of Morocco’s Noor Solar Energy Project

By: Zakia Salime

Abstract: Morocco’s massive Noor solar energy project is not only generating electricity. Based on her fieldwork and interviews, Zakia Salime explains how the extraction of land, labor and water by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy is intertwined with development programs, farming initiatives and job expectations that are shaping quotidian life and gender relations in the surrounding villages.

The Importance of Mauritanian Scholars in Global Islam

By: Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem

Abstract: The North African nation of Mauritania may be peripheral in global affairs, but its robust network of Islamic scholars is central to transnational Islamic movements and ideas. Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem traces the influential political economy of Mauritanian Islamic scholarship that has both bolstered and opposed fundamentalist networks. As Mauritania remains deeply stratified along racial, caste-like and gender lines, its internal hierarchies shape how it impacts global Islamic thought.

An Invisible War in Western Sahara

By: Vivian Solana

Abstract: Not available

Minorities in Libya Marginalized by the Revolution

By: Sabina Henneberg

Abstract: Not available

Government Efforts to Reduce Inequality in Morocco Are Only Making Matters Worse

By: Mona Atia, Said Samlali

Abstract: Inequality between rural and urban areas of Morocco has been deeply entrenched since the colonial era. But recent government public policies that ostensibly seek to reduce disparities are in fact further marginalizing already impoverished communities. Atia and Samlali’s research reveals what is going wrong and why residents believe that the only way to get essential infrastructure like roads and schools is to protest.

Palestine – Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture (Volume 26, Issue 1-2)

Charting a Feminist Present and Future: Young Women’s Leadership in Building Peaceand Promoting Gender Equality

By: Wevyn Muganda

Abstract: Young women are organizing in communities, social media, and schools and are taking up leadership roles to change the status quo; stakeholders must be deliberate about addressing the structural inequalities that hinder those leaders of today.

Youth on the Prospect of Political Engagement and Intergenerational Responsibility

By: Wasim Almasri

Abstract: By building a national framework for youth, we can engage young Palestinians in political and social tracks to strengthen democracy, grassroots, and social responsibility.

Transforming a Dream into Reality: Palestinian and Israeli Youth Struggling Across theDivide for Universal Human Rights, Democracy, and Peace 

By: Edward Kaufman, Suheir Freitekh

Abstract: Can we more actively incorporate the Arab and Jewish as well as Palestinian and Israeli youth through the respective electoral processes and also encourage them to take a leadership role?

Youth Political Participation: Challenges and Opportunities

By: Areej Daibas

Abstract: Many Palestinian youth are disenchanted with politics, and young women especially face obstacles to political participation; still, the upcoming elections could and should offer space for young Palestinians to become more politically aware and engaged.

Youth in the Gaza Strip: Reality, Problems, and Ambition

By: Riad Abdel Kareem Awwad

Abstract: Due to the Israeli blockade, wars, and the division between Fateh and Hamas, young people are facing high rates of unemployment, poverty, disability, and psychological distress and suicide; they must not be denied political participation.

From Rabin’s Peace to Netanyahu’s Conflict Management: The Ethos of Peace and Israel’sYounger Generation

By: Shaqued Morag

Abstract: Despite the Separation Wall and the bypass roads, we have to organize personal and Internet meetings between young Israelis and Palestinians, tell the younger generation of Israelis about the historical peace agreements, and make the Palestinian voice accessible.

Young Entrepreneurs in Palestine: Opportunities, Challenges, Needs and Fears

By: Hoda Barakat

Abstract: Youth entrepreneurship is critical to addressing the economic, social, and political challenges the Palestinian people face, and investors and government must do more to lower the barriers the occupation has created for entrepreneurs.

Empowerment, Education, and Engagement of Youth for Peace

By: Srruthi Lekha Raaja Elango

Abstract: To de-escalate the conflict and to promote peaceful governance, we need to maximize the political participation of the region’s majority population — youth — through changes in mandatory military service, the education system, and civil society support.

Palestine’s Youth and the 2021 Elections: The Burden and Responsibility of Choice

By: Ayed Atmawi

Abstract: The shift in the national attitude toward young people is a valuable opportunity for them to invest in the newly found trust they have achieved, but it is also a heavy responsibility and burden.

Changes in Youth Attitudes Toward the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Since 2000

By: Izhak Schnell, Daniel Bar-Tal

Abstract: Religious Zionism has become a very important leading force in the Ministry of Education and its interventions in public schools and emphasis on curricula emphasizing national-religious values over openness and critical thinking.

On the Brink of Change: Their First Vote

By: Fadwa Al Shaer Khawaja, Yasmin Ziadeh and Lotte Geukes

Abstract: The young people of Palestine who spoke at the meeting were unanimous: They want an undivided and unified political country.

Israeli Youth & Young Adults and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict -Some Reflections

By: Doubi Schwartz

Abstract: We must ask ourselves: What can we do to enable the younger generation to take ownership of this struggle and become genuine agents of change for peace and equality and to learn from our mistakes?

Youth in Jerusalem: An Identity Lost or Lack of Opportunities?

By: Nivine Sandouka

Abstract: Millennials should be the representatives of Palestinians in Jerusalem, working with different stakeholders to ensure that the Palestinian identity is maintained and, simultaneously, opportunities exist where youth can actively play a role in economic, political, and social development of East Jerusalem.

The Skepticism of Young Palestinian Jerusalemites about the Elections

By: Ahmad Hasna

Abstract: As their dismay with the official Palestinian representatives grows, Palestinian youth in Jerusalem see the upcoming election as an opportunity to make a statement expressing their anger and disappointment.

As Two Realities Exploded in our Eyes

By: Evan J. Mastronardi

Abstract: We must make peace with each other and our imperfections before there can ever be peace on a global scale; peace leads to collective resistance, which leads to peace.

Each of Us Must Become a Leader for Change

By: Jonathan Kabiri

Abstract: We see young people finding new, creative, era-appropriate ways to communicate, build solidarity, and work together for change.

A Critical Self Account of a Young Palestinian Architect

By: Sari Khoury

Abstract: The vision for the future may be held by the elite few; but translating that vision into measurable outcomes requires the broader integration of society as a whole into productive mechanisms.

The Palestinian Elections: An Opportunity for Youth to Achieve Change

By: Salim AbdAlkarim Alhindi

Abstract: Youth are a central asset in the Palestinian national struggle yet face many obstacles to political participation; they see the upcoming elections as a real opportunity for democratic change and a lifeline out of the tragic status quo.

Palestinian Elections on the Runway: Taking Off or Crashing Down?

By: Ziad AbuZayyad

Abstract: The overwhelming majority of Palestinians want the presidential and legislative elections to go forward, despite the complications, and Israel is obligated, under the international agreements that it has signed, to facilitate voting in East Jerusalem.

Israel’s Plight: An Absence of Leadership

By: Alon Ben-Meir

Abstract: If you were to ask any of the party leaders what their vision of Israel is 10 or 15 years down the line, none of them are likely to be able to articulate a vision.

Elections Have a Major Impact on the Palestinian Struggle for Sovereignty and Independence

By: Ibrahim Sha’ban

Abstract: Perhaps the large number of electoral lists in the Palestinian elections is living proof of Palestinian society’s eagerness for elections — an opportunity to decide our laws and regulations and partially exercise our sovereignty despite the difficulties it has suffered.

Amalek, the Land of Israel and Palestine, the People who Live Here, and the Occupation

By: Ava Shaevel

Abstract: We can look to the Torah to identify clues that the state of Israel is acting in a spirit of lawlessness in regard to how it is currently treating Palestinians

Two decades of the Arab Peace Initiative and the Two-State Solution

By: Ali Abu-Shahla

Abstract: The establishment of a distinct trade zone in Gaza Strip would improve the lives of the citizens and would contribute significantly to raising the standard of living, which in turn would reduce extremism in the region.

What Conflict Resolution Theories Can Offer as a Different Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

By: Michael M. Cohen

Abstract: Conflict resolution theories do not necessarily provide answers to mitigate and end conflict; they provide invaluable tools for better analyzing and for suggesting how to diminish cause and symptoms.

The Art of Engineering Peace: The Role of History in Shaping and Transforming thePalestinian-Israeli Conflict

By: Faris G. N. Said Said

Abstract: In order to successfully engineer Palestinian-Israeli peace, we must implement a history-based people-to-people approach of conflict transformation that acknowledges injustices.

Coming of Age in East Jerusalem

By: Abigail Rose McCall

Abstract: Given the physical distance and the historical negligence of the Palestinian question by the Australian political system, reviving transnational issue networks of activists working to address a specific global issue area is critical for mobilizing support.

Daniel Bar-Tal and Amiram Raviv, The Comfort Zone of a Society in Conflict

By: Akiva Eldar


The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the Most Vulnerable Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Protecting Jobs, Especially for Youth and Women

By: Rabeh Morrar, Raja Khalidi

Abstract: Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of the Palestinian economy, employing many youth and women who are already economically marginalized, are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and government measures to contain its spread.