Turkey in a Tailspin

The Foiled Coup Attempt of July 15

by Ümit Cizre | published August 10, 2016

The epic blunder of the military coup attempt on July 15 has sent Turkey into a tailspin. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the prime minister and cabinet, the parliament, the top military brass, the intelligence community and the police all became aware of the plot at the same time as ordinary Turkish citizens—after it got underway. The president and his team have conceded a massive intelligence failure. Unable to reach the head of the armed forces or the chief of the National Intelligence Agency, Turkey’s political leaders were spared death or arrest thanks purely to the gross incompetence of the would-be coup makers.

The Day Tehran Shook

by Farideh Farhi | published March 17, 2016

Speaking to a journalist days after the February 26 elections in Iran, leading reformist Mohammad Reza Aref stated, “When I saw the results for Tehran coming in, I was shocked.” Aref had expected the top of the list he headed to do well in the contest for Tehran’s 30 seats in the Tenth Majles, or Parliament, of the Islamic Republic. Most pre-election polls, in fact, had predicted that Aref’s slate would come out ahead in the capital. But its first-round sweep of all 30 seats, including many wins by unknown candidates, was a stunner for all involved.

Egypt Running on Empty

by Joshua Stacher | published March 8, 2016

An authoritarian regime may be unpopular, even loathed, but at least it has rules. The rules may bear little resemblance to the law, but relations between state officials and society come to have a predictable rhythm. People understand where the red lines are, and they can choose to stay within them or to step across. Egypt does not work this way under the field marshal who became president, ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi.

Losing Syria’s Youngest Generation

The Education Crisis Facing Syrian Refugees in Jordan

by Reva Dhingra | published March 2, 2016

Hasan bounces in his chair, pencil tapping against the table as he bends over the first page of a math exam. He hesitates, before stretching his hand frantically into the air as he waits for help from the program facilitator busy with one of the handful of other boys scattered across the classroom. Hasan is a student at one of over 90 Non-Formal Education Centers opened in Jordan by the education NGO Questscope in partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Education, funded by a grant from UNICEF. The program, aimed at providing tenth-grade equivalency certificates for refugee and Jordanian children who have spent years without formal schooling, has witnessed a dramatic expansion since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

Behind the Ban on the Islamic Movement in Israel

by Jonathan Cook | published January 11, 2016

The decision to outlaw the northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel was announced by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on November 17, 2015, days after attacks claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, left 130 dead in Paris. Although the ban had been long in the making, the timing was patently opportunistic, with Netanyahu even comparing Israel’s Islamic Movement to ISIS. It is still unclear how the Israeli intelligence services and police will enforce the ban, given that the group has thousands of paid-up members among Israel’s large Palestinian minority, and ties to welfare associations and charities in Palestinian communities across Israel.

Between Terror and Tyranny

Political Islam in the Shadow of the Arab Uprisings

by Abdullah Al-Arian | published December 30, 2015

Nearly a year after Egypt’s first democratically elected president was overthrown by a military coup led by Field Marshal ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, a spokesperson for the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) released a video statement that reserved harsh words for Muhammad Mursi. In the May 2014 video, ISIS spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani called the imprisoned Muslim Brother leader “a tyrant apostate,” charged Mursi with “fighting monotheists in Sinai” during his short-lived presidency and called for retribution against him.

Seeking Shelter in Jordan’s Cities

Housing Security and Urban Humanitarianism in the Syria Crisis

by Vicky Kelberer | published November 5, 2015

Umm Anas’ four-room apartment rings with the muffled laughter of children told to hush. Her six sons and daughters and four neighborhood children huddle around a tiny, rickety television in the otherwise unfurnished living room. Arabic-dubbed episodes of the “How to Train Your Dragon” television series play in the background while the little boys chase each other around the room with plastic toy guns. Umm Anas’ two-year old daughter clings to her mother’s skirts and watches as humanitarian workers survey the broken doors with no locks and the jagged remnants of windowpanes. The toilet behind the house is open to the rest of the complex, and the family’s water tank allows them only 20 gallons per week for seven people.

Operation Protective Edge

The War Crimes Case Against Israel’s Leaders

by Michael Thomas | published October 26, 2015

For 51 days in July and August 2014, Israel conducted a military operation in Gaza known as Protective Edge. It was the third major Gaza operation by the Israeli armed forces in seven years, and by far the most lethal and destructive. Some 2,205 Palestinians, including 722 militants and over 500 children, and 70 Israelis (64 of whom were soldiers) were killed. Thousands of Palestinians were wounded; over 18,000 of their homes were destroyed; some 470,000 were displaced; and large areas of Gaza were essentially razed.

Tunisia's Rotten Compromise

by Nadia Marzouki | published July 10, 2015

Since the 2011 Arab uprisings gave way to the dreadful combination of civil war and terrorism that has spread from Syria to Libya and Yemen, analysts and political actors from both the Arab world and West have felt an acute need for at least one success story in the region. Tunisia has provided such a tale—despite suffering two lethal terror attacks on its soil so far in 2015, the second being the killing of 38 tourists at a seaside resort in Sousse on June 26.

Matariyya, Egypt's New Theater of Dissent

by Amira Howeidy | published June 4, 2015

On June 6, two police officers will stand trial for torturing Karim Hamdi, a 27 year-old lawyer, to death on a cold February evening inside the Matariyya police station in eastern metropolitan Cairo. The identities of the officers are protected by a gag order, but the widely publicized images of their victim’s bruised and battered corpse have put the police station and its restive environs in the national spotlight.

Wadi Barada: Snapshot of a Civil War

by Mohammad Raba'a | published May 13, 2015

Sa‘id has always loved swimming. When he was little, he spent summer afternoons with his friends on the banks of Syria’s Barada River. When the river level started to drop, in the mid-1990s, he went to a swimming pool newly opened in the nearby village of Basima. The pool belongs to the Abu al-Nour Foundation, an Islamic organization based in the capital of Damascus, where thousands of students come from across the world to train as imams. Within a few months of his first visit to the pool, Sa‘id had started attending the twice-weekly lectures delivered by the grand mufti of Syria and founder of Abu al-Nour, the Sufi sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro.

Four Weddings and a Funeral in Yemen

by Susanne Dahlgren | published March 20, 2015

On February 21, 2015, the man most countries recognize as president of Yemen, ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, escaped house arrest in Sanaa and fled with his family to the southern city of Aden, which he soon declared the new capital. The Houthi movement, or Ansar Allah, that holds sway in Sanaa insists that the Yemen’s seat of government is still there. Perhaps equally confusing to outsiders, however, is the decision of the Southern Movement, or hirak, to suspend its long-standing campaign of protest and civil disobedience aimed at restoration of national independence for the southern provinces that once made up the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.

The Politics of Egyptian Migration to Libya

by Gerasimos Tsourapas | published March 17, 2015

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts working in Libya, as shown in video footage released by the Islamic State on February 12, 2015, made headlines across the world. The story was variously framed as one more vicious murder of Middle Eastern Christians by militant Islamists, one more index of chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya and one more opportunity for an Arab state, in this case Egypt, to enlist in the latest phase of the war on terror. What was left unaddressed was the deep and long-standing enmeshment of the Libyan and Egyptian economies, embodied in the tens of thousands of Egyptian workers who remain in Libya despite the civil war raging there.

Trapped in Refuge

The Syrian Crisis in Jordan Worsens

by Christiane Fröhlich , Matthew R. Stevens | published March 2, 2015

The daily lives of Syrian refugees in Jordan have always been difficult, but until the winter of 2014-2015, they were defined more by concern about making ends meet than outright panic.

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