[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the seventeenth 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.]
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 48, Issue 2)
Complexity and cooperation in times of conflict: Turkish-Iranian relations and the Nuclear Issue
By: Iain William MacGillivray
Abstract: The Iranian nuclear programme is a controversial issue that has had domestic, regional and international effects. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology has divided the Middle East region and international community. Turkey has been at the centre of the Iranian nuclear debate and has sought to play a ‘mediating role’ in this issue. This article will apply a Historical Sociological (HS) framework to analyse Turkey-Iran relations considering the Iranian Nuclear Issue. It will explore the period from 2002 until the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in July 2015 and will provide an analysis of the historical, domestic and regional/international developments in the nuclear issue and how this has affected Turkish-Iranian relations. By highlighting the continuities and constraints each actor has faced, this article will demonstrate how the interaction of structure versus agency, geographical determinants and historical analysis all help provide a comprehensive understanding of the constraining and enabling factors in Turkish-Iranian relations. By applying Historical Sociology and ‘Cuspness’ to Turkish-Iranian relations in the Iranian Nuclear Issue, this article provides the reasons of ‘how’ and ‘why’ the relationship is complex, and how Turkey and Iran can maintain pragmatic relations yet be constrained by these factors at the same time.
Sinan Antoon’s Fihris: an index of two minds seeking one nation
By: Geula Elimelekh
Abstract: American-Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon’s latest Arabic-language novel Fihris (2016), meaning ‘index’ or ‘catalogue’, is ostensibly the story of an academic, Namir, who returns to Baghdad as a translator for a documentary film company and Wadoud, an eccentric Baghdadi bookseller who is devoting his life to compiling a massive, unabridged history of Iraq’s 2003 war. Namir’s encounter with Wadoud in his shop leads to a representation of the Iraq’s macrocosmic polarities at every level. The leitmotifs of unending internal and external conflicting dualities amid the all-pervading insanity of war, violence and brutality form the backbone of a plotless story, whose language, style and structure is founded on themes of exile, memory, madness, time and trauma. This critique seeks to deconstruct the author’s creative tapestry of the two protagonists, their parallel worlds and their ultimate unification as one surreal spirit pointing to new hope for Iraq’s postwar future as one nation.
Settling down the crisis: planning and implementation of the immigrant settlements in the Balkans during the Late Ottoman period
By: Ahmet Erdem Tozoğlu, Seda Nehir Gümüşlü Akgün
Abstract: Since the Crimean War (1853–56), the Ottomans encountered with the problem of settling the Muslim immigrants and it was initially resolved by establishing new towns and villages on vast arable plains in the Balkans and Anatolia. However, it became a necessity to let the immigrants settle in the cities after the massive influx of refugees in 1877–78, when available agricultural lands to assign remained limited in the empire. With the consent of the Sultan, a new urban typology emerged at the outskirts of the cities, which were called immigrant (muhajir) neighbourhoods. This article aims to explore the spatial development of these settlements by the close examination of two cases based on archival materials. Mecidiye, which was established after the Crimean War, stands as an archetypal example and acted as an experimental laboratory. The success of Mecidiye case encouraged the Ottoman bureaucrats for further in post-1878 period. Hence, immigrant neighbourhood in Üsküb demonstrates us how the experience of Mecidiye was disseminated in the empire to establish a new planned settlement at the edges of an existing city. The close examination of Üsküb case provides us with the necessary tools to understand how the resettlement of refugees had cross-geographical spatial patterns.
The Shi’i clergy and perceived opportunity structures: political activism in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon
By: Mohammad R. Kalantari
Abstract: During the last four decades, the Middle East has witnessed the rise of Shi’i political activism, through the direct engagement of clerical elites in socio-political arenas. With the re-emergence of activism on the part of Shi’i mujtahids and its impact on the ascent of Shi’i community in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, scholars have defined a distinct strategic difference between what they characterise as ‘quietist’ and ‘activist’ Shi’i mujtahids. This paper argues that this distinction is based on a misunderstanding of Shi’ doctrines and practices, and that, in the varying political contexts which arise in the Middle East, Shi’i mujtahids are always potentially active. It first introduces an analytical scheme for the study of Shi’i clerical political practices. It then uses this schema to explore recent Shi’i clerical political activism in the region.
The Johannesburg exile and the death of Reza Shah, 1942-44
By: Shaul Bakhash
Abstract: Reza Shah spent the last two years of his life in exile in Johannesburg, being allowed to relocate after several unhappy months on the island of Mauritius. He was more content in Johannesburg than in Mauritius. He took walks, was impressed by the broad avenues, the orderliness of the people and the presence of women in the workplace. He was able to receive visits from family members in Iran. However, problems remained. His sons were not getting a proper education. The royal family remained under British control. Colour bar problems arose regarding housing. Reza Shah grew restless, more reclusive, perhaps sensing he was nearing his last years. He asked repeatedly to move to a country nearer to Iran. But the British, believing it harmful to their interests to have Reza Shah anywhere near Persia, adamantly refused. In July 1944, Reza Shah suffered a massive, fatal heart attack, ending his long, unhappy exile. This article recounts the final years of a once powerful, much-feared autocrat reduced, due to the exigencies of war, to a humiliating exile in foreign lands and under conditions dictated not by himself but by an imperial power from whose influence he had strived to free Iran.
Clients or challengers?: tribal constituents in Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE
By: Courtney Freer
Abstract: Traditional understandings of Middle Eastern politics place tribes as critical supporters of ruling families; this dynamic is considered particularly strong within the smaller Gulf states, which are oftentimes even referred to as ‘bedouinocracies’. While tribes undoubtedly hold political capital throughout the Middle East, it is uncertain to what extent they remain clients of Gulf regimes or are in fact independent, and potentially oppositional, actors. This paper examines electoral outcomes for the Kuwaiti legislature, Qatari municipal council, and Emirati consultative council to understand the extent to which major tribal groups take collective action through electoral campaigns.
Policing labour in empire: the modern origins of the Kafala sponsorship system in the Gulf Arab States
By: Omar Hesham AlShehabi
Abstract: This study traces the modern origins of the Kafala migrant labour sponsorship system in the Gulf Arab States. The sponsorship system was a product of the British colonial era, particularly the period from the 1920s until independence in the 1970s. Colonial administrators introduced sponsorship requirements in order to control labour migration in the pearl industry shortly before the discovery of oil in the region, and its use was further regularized and widely applied with the increasing migrant labour working in the oil companies. British officials viewed migrant labour as both a necessity and a problem that needed to be regulated and controlled, both from the viewpoint of economic growth and security. As jurisdiction over foreigners was retroceded back to the newly created states in the independence era, sponsorship of foreign labour was ultimately restricted and delegated to citizens or companies owned by citizens. As a particular example, the case of the ‘bachelor’ worker is detailed as a legal-bureaucratic complex of sponsorship practices. Such practices are placed within a wider ensemble of British colonial policies for controlling labour and policing empire across the Indian Ocean in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Unpredictability in US foreign policy and the regional order in the Middle East: reacting vis-à-vis a volatile external security-provider
By: Jordi Quero, Andrea Dessì
Abstract: This article explores the impact of the US foreign policy’s predictability, or lack thereof, vis-à-vis the Middle Easter regional order. It lays out two main arguments. Firstly, since 2003, the US has undertaken some concrete actions which have undermined former expectations of its behaviour among regional actors. By that, Washington distanced itself from open and predictable foreign policy that played a key role in maintaining the regional order, most concretely as an external security provider. US actions fostered a double-level uncertainty: amid a broader process of strategic disengagement from the region, the US’s level of intervention was not really predictable as in some occasions it adhered to its former responsibilities and opted either for direct intervention or offshore engagement, while in others it advanced in its disengagement by not intervening or doing less than expected by regional actors; additionally, in terms of the direction of its interventions, its policies fostered uncertainty as they fluctuated from some reinforcing the status to those disrupting it. Secondly, this uncertainty prompted regional actors to assume further security-oriented responsibilities, as shown by the renewed centrality of the Gulf Cooperation Council or the innovative Saudi foreign policy in Bahrain, Yemen or Qatar since 2011.
The consequences of the fragmented military in Iraqi Kurdistan
By: Hawre Hasan Hama
Abstract: The Kurdish armed forces and security forces, known as the Peshmerga and Asayish, respectively, have both been intensively politicized by the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan from their foundation to the present. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has already experienced serious systematic crises caused by weak democratic institutions, poor governance, and a dysfunctional party system. The failure to build cohesive armed forces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq exacerbates these issues because it politicizes basic internal and external security. This article, based on interviews with the Kurdish authorities, discusses the ramifications of the KRG’s politicized forces on the democratic process, civil-military relations, the defence readiness of the Kurdish armed forces, societal instability, and judicial power. This research argues that Kurdish politicized forces severely affect the democratic process in the Kurdistan Region, create problems for civil-military relations, undermine defence readiness, cause instability, and also have a considerable, negative impact on judicial power.
International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 53, Issue 3)
Vocal Arrangements: Technology, Aurality, and Authority in Qur’anic Recording
By: Ian VanderMeulen
Abstract: This article uses ethnography of a studio recording project underway at a Qur’anic school in Salé, Morocco, to offer new insight on sound, media, and religious authority in Islamic contexts. The aim of the project is to record the entire Qur’an incorporating all of its seven canonical, variant readings (qirā’āt), which are enjoying a small renaissance in Morocco. Several of the school’s faculty, known as shaykhs, engaged as expert listeners and overseers of the process. I show how a historical model of such expert listenership, which I call “aural authority,” is transformed by the technologies of the studio and then dispersed across a collective of productive agents that includes the reciter and the sound engineer. I argue that these transformations, along with erasure of the shaykh’s role from the medium of circulation—the recording—presents significant challenges to the broader qirā’āt tradition and raises questions about its future.
Barbaric Women: Race and the Colonization of Gender in Interwar Egypt
By: Nefertiti Takla
Abstract: This article analyzes the sensationalized media coverage of a serial murder case during the Egyptian revolution of the early interwar era. Despite conflicting evidence, the media blamed the murders on two sisters from southern Egypt named Raya and Sakina. Through a close reading of Egyptian editorials and news reports, I argue that middle-class nationalists constructed Raya and Sakina as barbaric women who threatened to pull the nation back in time in order to legitimize their claim to power. Borrowing from Ann Stoler’s analysis of the relationship between race and sexuality and Maria Lugones’s concept of the modern/colonial gender system, this article maintains that race was as central to nationalist conceptions of female barbarism as gender, sexuality, and class. The enduring depiction of Raya and Sakina as the quintessential barbaric Egyptian women symbolizes the way in which the modern woman was constructed at the intersection of race and sexuality.
Iran’s “Self-Deprecating Modernity”: Toward Decolonizing Collective Self-Critique
By: Mostafa Abedinifard
Abstract: Extant studies of Iranian nationalism accentuate the self-aggrandizing side of Iranian modernity, mainly achieved through, and informing, a process of otherizing certain non-Persians/Iranians, particularly the Arabs. I argue that equally important to understanding Iranian modernity is its lesser recognized, shameful and self-demeaning face, as manifested through a simultaneous 19th-century discourse, which I call “self-deprecating modernity.” This was an often self-ridiculing and shame-inducing, sometimes satirical, discourse featuring an emotion-driven and self-Orientalizing framework that developed out of many mid-nineteenth-century Iranian modernists’ obsessions with Europe’s gaze; with self-surveillance; and with the perceived humiliation of Iranians through the ridiculing laughter of Other (especially European) nations at Iran’s and Iranians’ expense. To explore this discourse, I re-examine the works of three pre-constitutionalist thinkers and writers within the broader sociopolitical context of late Qajar Iran, surveying their perspectives on shame, embarrassment, and ridiculing laughter, and showing how they were significantly informed by, while also helping to form, self-deprecating modernity. Given the strong, self-colonizing presumptions of this discourse, I conclude the article with a stress on the importance of re-exploring collective self-critical practices in modern Iranian history, culture, and literature with an eye toward decolonizing self-criticism.
Sidon against Beirut: Space, Control, and the Limits of Sectarianism within the Jewish Community of Modern Lebanon
By: Aline Schlaepfer
Abstract: When the State of Greater Lebanon was established in 1920, the Jewish Community Council of Beirut was officially recognized as the central administrative body within Lebanon, and although smaller communities such as Sidon and Tripoli also had their own councils they were consequently made subject to the authority of Beirut. In this context of political overhaul, I argue that some Jewish actors made use “from below” of political opportunities provided by sectarianism “from above”—or national sectarianism—to garner control over all Jewish political structures in Lebanon. But by examining in particular activities in and around the Israelite Community Council in Sidon (al-Majlis al-Milli al-Isra’ili bi-Sayda), I show how and why these attempts to practice new forms of sectarianism were met with resistance, despite connections that tied Lebanon’s Jews together administratively in one community.
Making an Arab-Muslim Elite in Paris: The Pan-Maghrib Student Movement of the 1930s
By: Shoko Watanabe
Abstract: This paper aims to clarify the scope and limitations of the ideals of Pan-Maghrib nationalism as developed by the Association of North African Muslim Students in France (AEMNAF) in the 1930s. The AEMNAF members’ inclination toward sciences and technology and their emphasis on conserving their mother culture made them consider Arabism and Islam their most important identity markers. Moreover, the AEMNAF created a sense of solidarity among Maghribi students in France and extended its social influence by cooperating with French and Mashriqi opinion leaders in Europe. However, the AEMNAF’s narrow definition of Muslim-ness and its elitist nature led to the exclusion of Maghribis with French citizenship from the organization. The dualistic view of technology and culture in Maghribi nationalist thought also contributed to prioritizing Francophones over Arabophones, Muslims over non-Muslims, men over women, and students in the sciences over those in humanities.
The Evolution of Tunisian Salafism after the Revolution: From La Maddhabiyya to Salafi-Malikism
By: Fabio Merone, Théo Blanc, Ester Sigillò
Abstract: What shape does Salafism take in Tunisia after the ban of the Salafi-Jihadi group Ansar al-Shari‘a and the wave of securitization carried out by national authorities? This article argues that a constraining legal context put Salafism’s doctrinal rigidity in tension with its survival and ultimately prompted a residual current of Salafi actors to accommodate their stance toward Malikism, the prevalent school (madhhab) in the country. This adaptation is at odds with contemporary Salafism, which traditionally dismisses all four law schools (lā madhabiyya), rejects their blind imitation (taqlῑd), and claims the superiority of the Qur’an, hadith, and consensus of the salaf (pious predecessors) over jurisprudence (fiqh). To account for this puzzle, this article scrutinizes the historical development of Salafism and the evolution of its stance toward Malikism across three generational waves. It notably shows how religious securitization associated with the promotion of a “moderate” Islam pushed Salafi actors to redefine their ideology to preserve their preaching and teaching activities. We call Salafi-Malikism the outcome of this adaptive strategy. Drawing on the Tunisian case, we argue that, despite its purist claims, Salafism is not an immutable religious current, but can take different trajectories to survive in constraining environments.
Israel Studies (Volume 26, Issue 2)
The Rise of a Christian Aramaic Nationality in Modern Israel
By: Rima Farah
Abstract: The article discusses the historical factors behind the rise of a new Christian Aramaic nationality in Israel, and its recognition by the state in 2014. It debunks the traditional claims that this phenomenon is mainly a present-day attempt by Israel to separate Christians from Arab society. Examining the phenomenon through a wide historical perspective demonstrates the link between the rise of national perception among Christians living among Muslims in Middle Eastern countries, and the development of a new national identity among Christians living in the Jewish state of Israel.
Public Purposes at Cross-Purposes: Can Segregation Lead to Integration? What We Can Learn from Israel
By: Jan Feldman
Abstract: All democracies grapple with the challenge of fostering the inclusion of marginalized minorities. Israel faces a looming economic crisis constituted by the growing population of Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews) living under the poverty line. Israel’s Council on Higher Education (CHE or Malag) instituted a program to integrate Haredi students into Israeli universities, and ultimately, the workforce. But the CHE plan capitulates to the Haredi claim of a “cultural right” to study in gender-segregated classrooms with male faculty, appearing to give the imprimatur of the state to gender discrimination and prompting a lawsuit that is languishing before the High Court. Detractors perceive the CHE plan as part of a broader agenda intended to dismantle liberalism, replace civil law with Torah law and erase the distinction between religion and state. Conversely, Haredim and their supporters accuse the plan’s critics of mounting an attack on the Torah way of life through a campaign of forced secularization. The case occupies the intersection where the liberal commitment to individual rights collides with multicultural accommodation, bringing into sharp relief dilemmas at the core of democracy.
The Yom Haatzmaut Debate and the American Yeshiva World’s Declaration of Independence
By: Zev Eleff
Abstract: The article examines the opposition to Yom Haatzmaut, Israel, Independence Day, among an influential sector of America’s Orthodox Jews. The so-called Yeshiva World, or Orthodox Right, flouted observance of Yom Haatzmaut rituals, and issued strong critiques of the Religious Zionists in the Diaspora who did celebrate it. However, the opposition was not articulated as a reproach to Religious Zionism. On the contrary, the Orthodox Right’s disapproval was primarily framed as a condemnation of Jewish nationalism and the denial of rabbinical sovereignty to the religious leaders of the Diaspora. Utilizing understudied responsa and rabbinical sources, this research complicates our understanding of tensions between religious leaders in Israel and the Diaspora and the factors that contributed to anti-Zionism within certain American Jewish religious quarters.
Secular Jewish Identity in Asaf Hanuka’s “The Realist”
By: Matt Reingold
Abstract: Non-religious Jews in Israel may define themselves as secular, yet they often observe Jewish traditions. While not monolithic in their practice, they are far less secular on the whole than their counterparts in other western countries. Recent surveys have effectively demonstrated the different forms these religious practices take but not the rationale behind them. Six of Asaf Hanuka’s 400 weekly comic strip “The Realist” provide insight into why he self-identifies as secular but observes Jewish traditions with his nuclear family on a regular basis. Hanuka is appreciative of ritual while observing it with his parents and children but when left on his own, he is either dismissive of it or else adapts it so that he can take part in the familial or communal framework.
“Different Islam from the One We Know in the Middle East”: Perceptions and Transformations in Early Israeli-Sahelian Relations, 1958-1965
By: Asher Lubotzky
Abstract: The article examines the early interactions between Israel and the Sahelian states of Mali and Chad. Initially, the Sahelian states viewed Israel as a unique model of development and socialism, while Israel hoped to find a moderate and accepting version of Islam. Israeli perceptions of the benign yet malleable nature of African Islam prompted efforts to protect it from negative ‘Arab’ influences. Nevertheless, these early assumptions quickly faded. Many Sahelians became disillusioned with Israel and sought more reliable allies, while Israel increasingly reverted to forging alliances with non-Muslim minorities and pro-Western forces in the region. Investigating early Israeli-Sahelian relations highlights the complexity of the global discourse about African Islam, illustrates the role of perceptions and expectations in shaping international relations, and adds an important layer to the analysis of African-Israeli contact in the era of decolonization.
Legal Consciousness and Moral Conscience in Children’s Weeklies During Israel’s First Decade
By: Talia Diskin
Abstract: The article analyzes texts from the leading Hebrew weeklies for children during Israel’s first decade and shows how journalism of this kind developed as a meaningful platform for legal and moral issues. It addresses the concern of children’s journals with the laws of the newly established State of Israel and current and judicial matters in general. An exception to this preoccupation with the rule of law was the coverage of the IDF’s act of retribution in the village of Qibya in Jordan (1953), in which dozens of innocent citizens, including women and children, were killed and injured. The article takes a critical look at the depiction of this act in certain weeklies for young readers as legitimate retributivism by Israeli citizens beyond state lines and distinguishes between the intention to promote legal awareness and national consciousness and the effort to mediate moral-conscientiousness and rule-of-law values.
A Gift for the State: Commemorating Fallen Heroes in Israeli Children’s Picture Books
By: Dan Porat
Abstract: Since the 1990s, a new form of commemoration has emerged in Israel: picture books for young children in which family members honor fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. The article analyzes nine such books and discusses the reason for the development of this genre. A blurring of lines between battle zone and home front during two Intifadas and two Gulf Wars exposed small children directly to national mourning and the loss of many civilian victims, young and old, Jewish and non-Jewish, whose commemoration was privatized and described in a feminized language more fitting for their tender age. While these commemorative picture books represent victims able to express emotions and feelings, they preserve the traditional view of them as heroes who have sacrificed their lives for their country.
The Possibility of a Productive Palestine: Otto Warburg and Botanical Zionism
By: Dana von Suffrin
Abstract: The article examines the role of science in the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine) centering specifically on the so-called Botanischer Zionismus (Botanical Zionism) group, which was led by the German-Jewish colonial botanist and Zionist, Otto Warburg. By researching the motives and ideologies behind this group, we can gain valuable insights into the wider background of the Zionist movement and its principal aims, in particular the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The article shows how the Botanical Zionists set about turning Palestine into a green and fertile land, with a focus on the agricultural experiment stations in Atlit and Rehovot (established in 1910 and 1921 respectively), and the close connection between ideology and applicability which reveals how this helped create a new type of flora, which I have termed “Hebrew flora.”
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (Volume 17, Issue 2)
Serpouhi Dussap’s Mayda; or, The Birth of Armenian Women’s Literature through the Palimpsestic Narrative of Feminism
By: Maral Aktokmakyan
Abstract: Mayda (1883), Serpouhi Dussap’s first eponymous novel, quickly met the patriarchal reaction among the Armenian male intelligentsia of Constantinople over the issue of female emancipation. Today the significance of Dussap’s best-known novel and feminist ideology is both welcome and appreciated yet not with much gratifying analysis of the literary and intellectual ventures invested in this first-time production. This article seeks to place this literary event among the feminist literature scholarship of the nineteenth century. For this initial venture to bring recognition to Armenian feminist literature, the present study introduces the general literary scene in the Ottoman Armenian community in the late nineteenth century, then outlines the critical detraction leveled against the novel, only to produce a new reading that reflects the feminist literary strategy of the time, namely, the palimpsestic mode of writing. Finally, the reading suggested in this article is linked to another underrated work, the mythical tale of Arachne. Reworking Nancy K. Miller’s theory of “Arachnologies” into the context of Armenian women’s literature, the analysis of Arachne’s tale is the “mytheme,” the foundational unit, so to speak, that encapsulates the feminist literary ideology of nineteenth-century Armenian women’s literature.
Postfeminism à la Turca: Postfeminism in New Turkish Romantic Comedies
By: Burcu Dabak Özdemir
Abstract: Not available
The “Barbaric” Dabke: Masculinity, Dance, and Autocracy in Contemporary Syrian Cultural Production
By: Shayna Silverstein
Abstract: This essay analyzes how dance, gender, and state power function together as a significant node of critique in recent cultural production that addresses authoritarianism in Syria. Identifying the symbolic trope of dabke, a popular dance ubiquitous in Syrian life, selected films, literature, and choreography, this essay argues that the discussed works dislodge dabke from its feminized association with authenticity, folk culture, and nationhood to instead represent dabke as a form of hegemonic masculinity that perpetuates sovereignty, patriarchy, and autocracy. Through the rendering of embodied acts of dabke performance, hegemonic and resilient modes of masculinity are equated with spectacles of violence attached to the state, repressive tactics by the police state, and performative complicity with the regime. This essay argues that sovereign and autocratic forms of power are not universal abstractions but are embedded in the gendered structures of the society in which such power is performed.
Over Forty Years of Resisting Compulsory Veiling: Relating Literary Narratives to Text-Based Protests and Cyberactivism
By: Claudia Yaghoobi
Abstract: While text-based and cyberspace campaigns against compulsory veiling in Iran have received much attention, Iranian diasporic creative writers have also engaged in this resistance through their writings, but they have remained almost unacknowledged. This article argues that diasporic literary narratives have functioned as part of what has led to today’s online platforms and cyberactivism. The article approaches these literary narratives as forms of counterdiscourse, rearticulating alternative narratives about women’s movements against compulsory veiling. Produced in diaspora, these transnational feminist works raise questions of authenticity and legitimacy. However, these authors emerge as activists from their position abroad, pushing back against the limits placed by the state on women’s bodies; in posing these challenges, they contribute to dissent from the mainstream narrative and to a rearticulation of the movement even as their works are viewed as marginal.
The Body under Siege: Corruption and the Female Body in Betool Khedairi’s Ghāyib
By: Kimberly Canuette Grimaldi
Abstract: Betool Khedairi’s novel Ghāyib (Absent) centers on a young woman living and working in Baghdad during the 1990s and her interactions with the inhabitants of her apartment building. The novel depicts the transformations of bodies that occur in the war zone: transformations from a whole body to a partial body, from healthy to ill, from interconnected to isolated, and from wholesome to poisoned. This article argues that the systemic disabling and poisoning of women’s bodies in the novel violates the sanctity of the home and body and mirrors the destruction and poisoning of private and public spaces in Baghdad. Transformations brought about by shelling and sanctions are at the heart of the nature of war as that which renders bodies isolated, static, and toxic.
Mediterranean Politics (Volume 26, Issue 3)
Looking South: What can Youth Studies in the Global North learn from research on youth and policy in the Middle East and North African countries?
By: Robert MacDonald, Hannah King
Abstract: Connell’s ‘Southern Theory’ calls for intellectuals in the ‘Global North’ ‘to start learning in new ways, and in new relationships’ with and from scholars in the ‘Global South’ in order to better understand the subjects of our research. This, exactly, is the motivation of this paper. In working with, and drawing, on a large, comparative research programme about young people and youth policy in some of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries (the POWER2YOUTH research project), we explore what can be learned for sociologically-oriented Youth Studies in the ‘Global North’ through collaborative research in the ‘Global South’. The paper brings together research and theory from different disciplines/fields as well as from different regions/states so as to consider how we might better research and theorize about ‘youth’ (as a socially constructed life-phase) and about the empirical realities of young people’s lives (as they play out in social, political, cultural and economic contexts). Consequently, the paper discusses five themes or issues that we see as important for Youth Studies in the ‘Global North’: the variation in dominant state/social constructions of ‘youth’; the plurality of social divisions amongst youth; the different meanings of insecurity for young people; the flaws in human capital-based youth policies; and the significance of informal and non-standard work for young people. In conclusion, we summarize our arguments and underscore the value of a political economy perspective in Youth Studies.
Working class youth transitions as a litmus test for change: labour crisis and social conflict in Arab Mediterranean countries
By: Maria Cristina Paciello, Daniela Pioppi
Abstract: The article reconceptualizes the issue of youth precariousness and unemployment by taking empirical data from five Arab Mediterranean countries, namely Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Lebanon. It demonstrates that youth worsening labour conditions point not only to the problems of a specific age-cohort in entering the labour market but also to a much larger process of change that can be best understood as the creation of a new working class which is by far more precarious and fragmented than the post-independence one.The reaction to the profound reconfiguration of labour relations is intense, as the unparalleled labour-related protests in the region demonstrate. However, current dynamics of mobilization reveal many tensions between wage, secure workers, and precarious unemployed youth, as well as between secure-workers themselves due to growing fragmentation of the working class, but also to repressive and divide et impera strategies carried out by regimes.
Youth socio-economic and political grievances: Bringing the ‘Political’ back into understanding contestation in the MENA
By: Nadine Sika
Abstract: Based on the quantitative and qualitative fieldwork of the POWER2YOUTH (P2Y) project in six MENA countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Occupied Palestinian Territories) this article analyses the relation between young people’s economic grievances, their satisfaction with their regimes’ governance and the extent to which they are politically mobilized. What is the relation between socio-economic and political grievances and contestation in the MENA? This article demonstrates the importance of bringing politics back into understanding contestation and mobilization in the MENA. It challenges the general narrative that contends that economic grievances, especially unemployment, are the main drivers for public discontent and contestation. It demonstrates that socio-economic grievances develop into political grievances and that the amalgam of both socio-economic and political grievances is linked to young peoples’ tendencies to protest against their respective regimes.
Rethinking justice beyond human rights. Anti-colonialism and intersectionality in the politics of the Palestinian Youth Movement
By: Lynn Welchman, Elena Zambelli, Ruba Salih
Abstract: This article discusses the politics of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) – a contemporary social movement operating across a number of Arab and western countries. Unlike analysis on the Arab Uprisings which focused on the national dimension of youth activism, we explore how the PYM politics fosters and upholds an explicitly transnational anti-colonial and intersectional solidarity framework, which foregrounds a radical critique of conventional notions of self-determination based on state-framed human rights discourses and international law paradigms. The struggle becomes instead framed as an issue of justice, freedom and liberation from interlocking forms and hierarchies of oppression.
Using the clustering method for a heterogeneous reading of Lebanese youth
By: Mona Harb, Sami Atallah, Mohamad Diab
Abstract: How to better study youth in ways that can capture their complex subjectivities? While qualitative methodologies succeed rather well at unpacking youth’s holistic selfhoods, quantitative tools are often more rigid at apprehending their multifaceted lives. Some tools such as multiple correspondence analysis do allow for a more nuanced and thorough understanding, and are particularly opportune in contexts where the studied group is heterogeneous in terms of social class and sectarian origin – such as the Lebanese case. Building on these attempts at quantitatively measuring youth’s multidimensional attributes, this paper analyzes a survey of Lebanese youth conducted in 2015 within the framework of the Power2Youth (P2Y) study to generate an intricate reading of young people, using the k-means clustering method. We use this technique to generate five youth groups: i) potential migrants, ii) secular youth, iii) school-to-job youth, iv) conservative students, and v) maturing youth. The paper discusses how each cluster relates to politics and religiosity, as well as to views on women’s roles and rights, highlighting the high variability within and across clusters. We conclude with reflections on how the clustering method may be useful to furthering research agendas and quantitative methodologies examining youth’s attitudes to political change in post-colonial contexts.
Middle East Critique (Volume 30, Issue 3)
To Drink from the Source: Tobie Nathan’s A Land like You and Jewish-Egyptian Identity
By: Joyce Zonana
Abstract: A Land Like You, Tobie Nathan’s scrupulously researched yet wildly imaginative historical novel of early twentieth-century Cairo offers an extended exploration of what it means to be both Jewish and Egyptian, even as it chronicles the rise of the competing nationalisms that led to the dispersal of Egypt’s Jews. Unlike most Egyptian Jewish novelists and memoirists, Nathan claims Cairo’s Haret al-Yahud, where the city’s poorest, indigenous Jews lived from time immemorial, as his ‘source,’ and indeed the source for all of Egypt’s Jews—the ‘spring one drinks at every day.’ This source arises from the Egyptian land and the ancient spirits that govern it, to which the exiled writer remains inextricably bound, symbolized in the novel through the irresistible love that links the Jewish narrator to his Muslim ‘milk-sister.’ For Nathan’s French-to-English translator, herself an Egyptian Jew, the novel offers a return to her own Arab-Jewish source, which, like Nathan, she seeks to cultivate so that it may nurture others.
Trading Wheat for Books in the Cold War: Public Law 480 (Food for Peace) and Its Connection to Middle East Studies
By: Michael Degerald
Abstract: The libraries at top private and public research universities in the United States hold some of the most comprehensive collections in the world for studying other regions and their modern histories. Yet how this came to be has been largely overlooked. This article unearths the history of the Public Law 480 Program, also known as Food For Peace or PL-480, and how it came to support the large-scale acquisition of Arabic books through a center opened for this purpose in Cairo, Egypt. The article explores the changes in US food exports, specifically wheat, and links these changes to PL-480, US foreign policy, and finally Arabic book acquisitions for US research libraries. By drawing on a variety of publicly available primary sources, as well as a series of interviews with the current and former directors of the Cairo acquisitions center, this article lays out the history of this unorthodox program and its outsized impact on area studies programs in the United States, with a specific focus on Middle East Studies.
Impact of 1962-68 North Yemen War on Cold War Balance of Power
By: Jude Kadri
Abstract: The aim of this article is to highlight the strategic importance of Yemen during the cold war in a way that shows its impact on the balance of power during the era of American imperialism that persists to this day. After World War II, the countries that had interests in the country were the Soviet Union, the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt (and to a lesser degree, France, Great Britain, China). This article focuses specifically on a decisive war implicating Yemen and these powers: the North Yemen war of 1962-68. Exploring this war from a multi-level class perspective can clarify the historical context necessary to understand the geostrategic importance of Yemen in the strengthening of American hegemony vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, and at the regional level, of Saudi Arabia vis-à-vis its Soviet-allied competitor: Egypt. I argue that the 1962-1968 war in North Yemen shifted the balance of power in region and contributed to the strengthening of American imperialism and to the defeat of Arab socialism. The weight and the impact of this major shift in the balance of power still burdens Yemen today. The United States, in the face of new competitors such as Iran and China, still needs to have a stronghold on Yemen to maintain its world hegemony.
Thinking Theoretically about the Kurds
By: Michael Gunter
Abstract: Thinking theoretically about three important and recent events affecting the Kurds can help us to understand better their political experiences.1 These events include (1) The breakdown of the Turkish Government-Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) cease-fire in July 2015; (2) the failure of the advisory referendum on independence that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq held on September 25, 2017; and (3) the Turkish military incursion into northeastern Syria (Rojava or Syrian Kurdistan) in October 2019. I first examine five different theories of international relations as well as the concept of levels of analysis and theories of nationalism. In doing so, I refer intermittently to these three important recent events concerning the Kurds and then describe them more fully to illustrate how thinking theoretically can help explain what happened and why.
Taifa: A Journey of Integration beyond the Subaltern Narrative
By: Mohamed Chamekh
Abstract: This article explores a unique type of songs performed by a Black minority musical group in southeastern Tunisia. Taifa, a group of Black singers, mainly from the rural working class appeared as a response to the economic marginalization of Blacks after the abolition of slavery in Tunisia in 1846. It explores the way this musical group developed and how it came to be associated with the norms of respectability among the local society. It also delves into the themes of Taifa songs that, I contend, show an incremental journey of integration into the predominant Arab/Berber majority and an adjustment to Tunisia’s social and political changes, which were reflected in the changes in the themes of Taifa songs after the Tunisian Revolution.
Middle East Quarterly (Volume 28, Issue 3)
Give War a Chance: Arab Leaders Finesse Military Defeat
By: Daniel Pipes
Abstract: When Saddam Hussein’s chief spokesman met with the U.S. secretary of state on the eve of the Kuwait War in January 1991, Tariq Aziz said something remarkable to James Baker. “Never,” an Iraqi transcript quotes him, “has [an Arab] political regime
Rethinking the “Arab Spring”: Just a Media Event?
By: Eyal Zisser
Abstract: Although there are those who prefer spring, there are also those who prefer winter or summer … “Spring” expresses something temporary because it is one of the seasons of the year. Hence the use of the term “Spring” [to describe what is happening in
Rethinking the “Arab Spring”: Winners and Losers
By: Hillel Frisch
Abstract: Assessing outcomes of revolutions is a precarious business, especially with a mere ten years of hindsight. Even more difficult is the assessment of revolutionary waves for the simple reason that there have been so few of them in modern history. Bearing
Nasser and the Palestinians
By: Michael Sharnoff
Abstract: Nearly fifty-one years after his death, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser remains a celebrated figure for his staunch championing of pan-Arabism in general and the Palestinian cause in particular. The Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah has organized
Middle East Report (Issue 299)
Coexistence, Sectarianism and Racism — An Interview with Ussama Makdisi
By: Alex Lubin In
Abstract: Alex Lubin interviews Ussama Makdisi about his work on sectarianism and coexistence in the Middle East, the subject of his most recent book. Makdisi also addresses the role of race and colonialism and explains the importance of seeing these ideological formations in historical and geopolitical context. Forthcoming in the next issue of Middle East Report, “Race—Legacies and Challenges.”
Who is “Indian” in the Gulf? Race, Labor and Citizenship
By: Neha Vora, Amélie Le Renard In
Abstract: How do race and racism operate in the Gulf? Neha Vora and Amélie Le Renard closely examine how the term “Indian,” as it is used in the United Arab Emirates, refers to much more than national origin. They trace the role of colonialism, capitalism and the state in creating “Indian” as a racialized category in contrast to an imagined pure Gulf Arab identity. Attempts to police the boundaries between citizens and non-citizens obscures the Gulf’s truly multicultural and multiracial history and present.
Remembering Slavery at the Bin Jelmood House in Qatar
By: Nidhi Mahajan In
Abstract: Not available
Writing Ourselves into Existence with the Collective for Black Iranians
By: Beeta Baghoolizadeh, Priscillia Kounkou Hoveyda In
Abstract: The groundbreaking work of the Collective for Black Iranians is the first and only effort of its kind in Iran that brings together the voices of Black and Afro-Iranians, sharing their stories and experiences to foster greater racial consciousness and combat the anti-Black racism endemic to the Iranian community. Beeta Baghoolizadeh interviewed a founding member of the Collective, Priscillia Kounkou Hoveyda, in April 2021.
Understanding Race and Migrant Domestic Labor in Lebanon
By: Sumayya Kassamali In
Abstract: The dire financial and political crises in Lebanon have made migrant domestic workers even more vulnerable to abuses of the kafala system of sponsorship. Kassamali explains the history of this labor system in Lebanon and the intersecting roles of race, class, nationality and gender in the hierarchies it produces.
Tracing the Historical Relevance of Race in Palestine and Israel
By: Nimrod Ben Zeev In
Abstract: Not available
The Politics of Commemorating the Abolition of Slavery in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia
By: M’hamed Oualdi In
Abstract: Not available
The Limits of Confronting Racial Discrimination in Tunisia with Law 50
By: Shreya Parikh In
Abstract: Not available
Rethinking Whiteness in Turkey Through the AKP’s Foreign Policy in Africa South of the Sahara
By: Ezgi Güner In
Abstract: Not available
Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 57, Issue 3)
Unwritten treaty: the historical background to Jordanian–Israeli relations, 1921–1951
By: Ronen Yitzhak
Abstract: Not available
Missed opportunity? Jordan’s [insufficient] economic dividends from the peace treaty with Israel
By: Onn Winckler
Abstract: Not available
Peace with Israel; Jordan’s profit and loss account
By: Asher Susser
Abstract: Jordan had various expectations when it initially signed the peace treaty with Israel. The Jordanians believed that the peace with Israel, coming after the Oslo Accords, would pave the way for a strategic understanding with Israel on the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank (including Arab Jerusalem) and Gaza. Such an understanding, they believed, would finally rid them of the nightmare of the ‘alternative homeland’ scenario, that ‘Jordan is Palestine’. Secondly the Jordanians assumed that the economic ‘fruits of peace’ with Israel would extricate Jordan from its perennial economic woes. Jordan would be both secure and prosperous. None of these assumptions actually materialized. The Jordanians are, therefore, profoundly disappointed by the treaty and its real results. They are as fearful as ever of the ‘alternative homeland’ scenario, and they are still suffering, as always, from an economy perpetually on the brink.
25 years of Jordan-Israel peace-making: from ‘warm peace’ to ‘cold peace’?
By: Nur Köprülü
Abstract: 2019 marked the 25th anniversary of normalizing Jordanian-Israeli relations and the ‘warm’ peace-making between the two countries. Representing key partners and neighbours in the Middle East, Jordan and Israel have maintained political and economic ties since 1994. The pro-Western stance of both countries, and their common interest in maintaining regional stability, led Jordan and Israel to pursue similar foreign policy aims regarding various regional upheavals, as well as the Palestine-Israeli dispute. Jordanian-Israeli relations have, however, been caught amidst shifts in the US’s Middle East Policy under the Trump administration, which has raised questions over the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank. With respect to these developments, this article argues that the disaccord between the US/Israel and Jordan over these two places reveals that a politics of identity remains a pillar of the Kingdom’s stability and survival. Although both countries are being confronted with the same regional challenges, particularly in the wake of the war in Syria, the re-emergence of the rhetoric of ‘Jordan is Palestine’ – which poses the country as an alternative homeland for Palestinians (al-watan al-badil) – nowadays constitutes the top security concern for the Hashemite monarchy, and has the potential to undermine Jordanian-Israeli relations going forward.
Public attitudes on peace with Israel in Jordanian politics
By: Russell E. Lucas
Abstract: Not available
Stereotypes and demonization in contemporary Palestinian literature in Jordan: Israel and the Israelis in the works of Samia ʿAtʿut
By: Dorit Gottesfeld
Abstract: This article examines the way in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel and the Israelis are reflected in contemporary Palestinian writing in Jordan, taking the work of Nablus-born Jordanian author Samia ʿAtʿut as a case study. The article shows how, on the one hand, ʿAtʿut uses literary writing as a tool to reflect the mood of the people in relation to the Palestinian issue. On the other hand, through writing full of obscurity, sophistry and deception, and by the incorporation of political-national texts within collections of stories dealing mainly with social issues, ʿAtʿut manages to prevent her writing from being perceived as ideological, and transforms her work into texts that carry a deep and universal social message. The article shows that the Israel-Jordan peace agreement, the Jordanian establishment’s changing attitudes toward Israel, the contemporary trends of ‘personal’ literary writing, and the attempt to understand the ‘other’ that exists in the literary works of other contemporary female writers – all fail to overcome the writer’s abrasive opinions, which she expresses in seemingly ideological writing.
Ottoman Rums and the Venizelos – Constantine conflict after the Armistice of Mudros: the election of Meletios Metaxakis as patriarch
By: Ramazan Erhan Güllü
Abstract: In this article, I will be examining the biography of Meletios Metaxakis, the Rum Patriarch of Istanbul between 1921 and 1923, analyzing the process leading up to his election as patriarch and the debates and division among the Greeks/Rums during this process. The patriarchate delayed the patriarch election after the Armistice of Mudros for more than three years, and was managed by a deputy patriarch. The main reason for the elections being postponed was the royalists-Venizelists division within Greece and the internal conflict that was the result of the reflection of this on the Ottoman Rums. In the elections held at the end of 1921, Meletios Metaxakis was elected as the Rum patriarch in Istanbul. When Venizelos lost the election in 1920, both the Istanbul and Ankara administrations, the new Athens administration and the Ottoman Rums that supported the King opposed Meletios, a supporter of Venizelos. The election was in fact a political move to reveal Venizelos’s influence on the Ottoman Rums and the patriarchate. While Venizelos, who lost the elections in Greece attempted to turn Istanbul into his own headquarters, with these elections he proved that he was a figure who had a major influence over both the patriarchate and the Ottoman Rums.
Czechoslovakia and the ‘Cyprus issue’ in the years 1960–1974: secret arms deals, espionage, and the Cold War in the Middle East
By: Jan Koura
Abstract: This study is based on a broad range of newly declassified documents which garner revelatory findings pertaining to the involvement of Czechoslovakia in the Cyprus dispute in the years 1960–1974. These new findings reveal that the countries of the Eastern Bloc sought to prevent the overthrow of the Cypriot President Makarios during the studied period, as his foreign policy ensured that the island would not become a NATO base against allied Arab countries in the Middle East. Czechoslovakia played a considerable role in keeping Makarios in power by arms deliveries (some of them hitherto unknown), which allowed him to build up the special police forces to counterweight the National Guard controlled by Greece and face attempts of the Greek junta to overthrow him. Additionally, this article analyses activities of Czechoslovak intelligence on the island which managed to obtain valuable information on the politically unstable Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East from the inner circle of President Makarios. Czechoslovak intelligence, contrary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, backed weapon sales to Cyprus and supported the island’s non-alignment policy because these guaranteed a steady supply of valuable intelligence on the entire Middle East.Supplemental data for this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/00263206.2020.1860944.
US-Syria relations in the shadow of Cold War and détente
By: Jacob Abadi
Abstract: This article examines the course of US-Syrian relations since the Six Day War of 1967 and it demonstrates how they began deteriorating as the Cold War between the superpowers intensified. The author argues that the bilateral relations were adversely affected by several factors that marginalized Syria’s image as a major player in the Middle East; Washington’s tendency to pay excessive attention to Soviet designs in the Middle East; the rise of pan-Arabism, which portrayed Egypt as a major threat to US interests in the region; the persistence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and above all, the small size of the Syrian state and the weakness of its economy which prevented the American policy makers from courting its leaders.
Alid loyalty or Shiʿite tendency: a comparative approach to the Alevi Buyruk texts
By: Reyhan Erdoğdu-Başaran
Abstract: This article compares and contrasts the shared and unshared functions of the Shiʿite elements within three separate but interconnected Buyruk texts. While introducing Shiʿite themes like the glorification of ʿAli and ahl al-bayt, the doctrine of the Imamate, and the matter of the 14 Impeccables applied in the Buyruks, with a comparative approach, this research will unpack the differences of their application in the Buyruks versus how they are perceived in the mainstream Shiʿite. This article will then draw attention to the fact that some of the fundamental Shiʿite doctrines are not acknowledged in the Buyruks including the belief in ʾismah, the concept of khalifa, the doctrine of tabarra and the notion of ghayba. In doing so, the following questions will guide this research: how do the Buyruks speak of Shiʿite motifs? Do those seemingly Shiʿite themes involved in the Buyruks lead Alevism to be labelled as Shiʿite and, if so, in what sense?
Kurdish cross-border trade between Syria and Turkey: the socio-political trajectories of Syrian Kurds
By: Cemal Ozkahraman
Abstract: From Syria’s independence to the eve of the civil war in 2011, Kurds in Syria were subjected to state ethno-exclusion, economic and socio-political marginalization, impacting on their freedom and profoundly altering the demography of their region. The majority became stateless and sank into severe poverty, having to work illegally on their own land and participate in informal cross-border trade for their basic needs. This article examines this cross-border trade and its impact on interaction between Kurds in Syria and those in Turkey, arguing that it has not only been a socio-economic resource for marginalized Syrian Kurds but that these interactions have contributed to a broader social process of Kurdish political mobilization, which resulted in socio-political trajectories that became evident just before Syria’s civil war.
From guests of the Imam to unwanted foreigners: the politics of South Asian pilgrimage to Iran in the twentieth century
By: Alex Shams
Abstract: Until the 1930s, Mashhad, Iran received thousands of pilgrims from South Asia yearly, a central node in the Shiʿi shrine city network spanning the Persianate world. Within decades, South Asian pilgrims had all but disappeared from Iran. This article examines how Reza Shah’s drive to ‘nationalize’ Iran spelled the end for this transregional network, leading to harassment of South Asians, increasingly seen not as ‘guests of the Imam’ but as foreigners tied to British colonialism. These decrees included dress codes that banned turbans and veiling, requiring South Asians to wear distinct national clothing that visually marked them as foreign. As Reza Shah sought to demonstrate Persia’s development as a power on a par with European states, pilgrimage became a battleground for anti-imperialist sentiments – taken out on colonial subjects themselves. South Asians in Mashhad – primarily British Indian but also British Afghans – bore the brunt, including as victims of the Gauharshad Massacre. Modern Iranian nationalism required disentangling Iranians from pre-existing transregional linkages and subsuming local identities rooted in mobility, as in the shrine cities, to a homogenous national identity defined by borders and territory. Those inassimilable to the project of Iranian national sovereignty, like the long-standing South Asian community from Iran, were expelled.
Rural or urban? Planning Bedouin settlements
By: Havatzelet Yahel
Abstract: Over less than a century, the majority of the once nomadic Bedouin of southern Israel were moved to live in towns that were established for them by the state, in the process of urbanization. These towns are far from satisfying the desires and needs of all the Bedouin. The rest of the Bedouin prefer to live outside the towns in a rural space. Based on archival sources the study reveals that the early policy supported the establishment of rural agricultural villages and transferring all Bedouin into fellahin (peasants). This policy was only later changed towards urbanization, a change that brought a problematic outcome. At the core of this study is an attempt to trace the reasoning that stood behind these policies and to make an analysis of their development and implementations
Decoding the crisis of the legitimate circle of coalition building in Israel: a critical analysis of the puzzling election trio of 2019–20
By: Ferit Belder
Abstract: Israel has been governed by coalitions since its independence. The act of coalition building not only forms governments but also serves as reaffirming the ideological and societal bounds of the state as well as reflecting implicit consensus on the identity of the state. The governance and institutionalization of ethnic and religious cleavages in either form of exclusion or accommodation have historically constructed particular coalition patterns, which this paper critically coins as the ‘legitimate circle of coalition building’. The functionality of this circle has declined to the point of being narrowed and destabilised in recent decades and it has become a potential stumbling block to the formation of consistent governments. This article claims that Israel’s recent political deadlock is the latest indicator of such dysfunctionality. To support this claim, this article first provides an historical account of governing contending variants of non-Zionism by putting Arab and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties in its centre to decode the traditional limitations and Achilles heel of the coalition building activity. Second, the puzzling election trio of 2019-20 is analysed as an affirmative case by examining the campaign discourse of the political parties, the election results and the allocation of parliamentary seats, as well as inconclusive negotiation talks.
Humoresque and satire in ʿAli Salem’s writing as a means for social and political criticism
By: Mira Tzoreff, Naomi Avivi Weisblatt
Abstract: ʿAli Salem was an independent intellectual, unbound to the regime or political parties. He believed that the intellectual must also be independent from the public. It does not mean he must be detached from society or elevated above it, but that he must avoid flattering it. Over thirty years of literary activity, Salem published 27 plays and hundreds of humoresques and short stories, which were collected in 15 books. He also published opinion pieces in the Egyptian press and periodicals. Salem was an uncompromising social and political whip, who criticized Egypt’s society and regime in the context of a political culture that limits freedom of expression and impedes the expression of views that contradict those of the autocratic ruler. The Article will focus on the witty humor Salem used in both his satires and plays to sharply criticize the socio-political maladies from which Egyptian society suffers and at the same time it served as a means to introduce to Egyptians the problems of their society in a way that would make it easier for them to internalize them, shake them out of their apathy and urge them to act in order to improve their lives for the better.
Breaking the news: a case study on nineteenth century journalism and Selim Faris
By: Ceren Uçan
Abstract: The nineteenth-century news market offered benefits beyond sales incomes to opportunists functioning in local and global news markets. The owners of newspapers could come to terms with governments to publish in their favour. They could exploit political tensions among the Great Powers to manipulate governments into making agreements with them. They also utilized their influence upon groups of people to extract money from governments. The manipulation of news for personal gain is here investigated through the case of Selim Faris, journalist, son of author Ahmad Faris, manager of Al-Jawaib (1870-1884), owner of Hürriyet (1894-1897) and Khilafat-Hilafet, and author of The Decline of English Prestige in the East.
Portraying antiquity in cartoons: examples from the periodical Molla Nasreddin
By: Jorge Elices Ocón
Abstract: This article focuses on cartoons published by the magazine Molla Nasreddin between 1906 and 1931, which enjoyed a wide diffusion throughout the Muslim world. These cartoons focused on antiquity, pointing particularly to Egypt and Iran’s pre-Islamic past, as the centre of a political discourse and major elements to encourage resistance, identity, independence and legitimacy against European colonialism, revealing itself as an original and interesting approach, since antiquity was just beginning to be a political reference in those countries.
The Middle East Journal (Volume 75, Issue 2)
The Resilience of Populism in Iranian Politics: A Closer Look at the Nexus between Internal and External Factors
By: Mahmood Monshipouri, Manochehr Dorraj
Abstract: This article seeks to demonstrate that the resiliency of populism in Iran cannot be fully explained by internal variables alone. In contrast to many existing approaches, we argue that a combination of internal and external factors have contributed to the longevity and the resilience of Islamic populism in the country. The United States’ hostile policies toward Iran—especially under Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump—have contributed to the rise of a nationalistpopulist backlash intended to safeguard the survival of the Islamic Republic.
Iranian Reconstruction, Development, and Aid in Syria
By: Eric Lob
Abstract: This article examines the activities of the Iranian parastatal development organization Construction Jihad in the Syrian Civil War since 2015. Construction Jihad has implemented reconstruction and development projects and delivered social services and humanitarian aid in order to appease segments of the Syrian population and help pro-government forces consolidate territory. This case study sheds light on the complexities and tensions surrounding the Syrian regime’s alliance with Iran and Russia and its efforts to preserve national sovereignty and avoid becoming dependent on its allies.
Military Doctrines in Israel and Iran: A Doctrinal Hybridity
By: Amr Yossef
Abstract: This article comparatively analyzes the origins of the military doctrines in Israel and Iran, which are positioned at the poles of status quo and revisionism in the Middle East. In a conceptual hybridity, both parties stand strategically on the defensive but operationally combine defensive with offensive elements. These combinations are backed by powerful cultural motivations and organizational interests in each country. The implications enrich our understanding of the nature of military doctrine and indicate another contributing factor in regional destabilization.
How Do Liberalized Autocracies Repress Dissent? Evidence from Morocco
By: Yasmina Abouzzohour
Abstract: The Moroccan regime has used repression to successfully contain numerous types of opposition. Although research on its repressive policies is now extensive, impartial scholarly work that systematically examines its rational use of repression remains limited. This article addresses this gap by investigating the causal mechanisms behind the regime’s repression of opposition actors between 1956 and 2018. Examining these mechanisms sheds light on the multilevel games between ruling actors and opposition groups during various opposition events and shows that liberalization does not ensure the reduced use of repression. Rather, repression remains a strategic policy employed by the regime to pursue important political objectives such as maintaining power.
Deterrence through Diplomacy: Oman’s Dialogue Facilitation Initiatives during the Yemeni Civil War
By: Samuel Ramani
Abstract: In contrast to other states in the Gulf Cooperation Council, Oman has declined to participate in the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen and has opted to facilitate dialogue between the conflict’s warring parties. Oman has embraced a strategy of diplomatic deterrence in Yemen, facilitating dialogue to counter the perceived threats that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pose to its foreign policy independence. The article explores how the Sultanate’s diplomatic deterrence strategy manifests at the local, regional, and international levels, building on English- and Arabic-language source material and interviews.