Who's Afraid of Bureaustroika?

The Arab Left After Glasnost

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER167

At a dinner party in Damascus, our Lebanese host referred enthusiastically to Soviet perestroika, saying: “We Arabs could reap many benefits from it.” A case at hand was his new restaurant in Moscow. Thanks to the good old days when the Communist Party of the USSR used to ladle out scholarships to members of “fraternal parties” around the world, this would-be businessman had earned a university degree there. He speaks Russian and has learned to maneuver through Russian society.

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Continuity and Change in Soviet Policy

The Gulf Crisis and the Islamic Dimension

by Alain Gresh
published in MER167

The day after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and US Secretary of State James Baker announced what they termed “an unusual step.” They issued a communique “jointly urging the international community to join them and suspend all supplies of arms to Iraq on an international scale.” The Gulf crisis, the first major post-Cold War international crisis, provides a concrete measure of changing Soviet strategy in the Third World. While Soviet policy can be explained in large part by a desire to maintain good relations with the United States, one cannot disregard, in the short or the long run, the weight of Moscow’s relations with the Middle East and how they affect its strategy and tactics in the region.

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A New Balance of Forces

An Interview with Samih Farsoun

by Joe Stork
published in MER168

Samih Farsoun, a contributing editor of this magazine and professor of sociology at American University, recently visited the Middle East. He spoke with Joe Stork in early November 1990.

What is your assessment of the impact of this crisis on the balance of forces in the region?

The Gulf Crisis and the New World Order

by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed
published in MER168

The Gulf crisis cannot be regarded as a purely local or regional issue, or a crisis whose worldwide significance is derived only from the importance of Arab oil. More fundamentally, it has become the main testing ground for the rapprochement between East and West as applied to North-South relations. Can the South be included in the new world game or is it condemned to react violently against it?

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Kuran, The Long Divergence

by Roger Owen
published in MER260

Timur Kuran, The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton, 2011).

Readers looking at the title of Timur Kuran’s new book might be forgiven for thinking it had come from some pre-Orientalism time warp where it was still possible to make essentialist generalizations about Islamic law and Middle Eastern backwardness. And they would be mostly correct.

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Arab Economics After the Gulf War

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER170

On February 6, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker admitted before the House of Foreign Affairs Committee that economic factors, particularly widespread Arab resentment that oil wealth was not more equitably distributed, had played a role in the dynamics leading to the Gulf war and would remain one of the primary “sources of conflict” in the region. To ease these tensions, he proposed the creation of an economic organization through which oil-rich states could fund the reconstruction and development of their poorer neighbors. [1] The following day, Baker advocated the creation of a multinational “Middle East Development Bank” to attain these objectives. [2]

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Harvest of War

by Fawwaz Traboulsi
published in MER171

It takes two to make a war, and there were indeed two protagonists in making this war. On the one hand, there was the United States, which wanted the war for a number of reasons, primarily global: to consecrate its world hegemony, to liquidate any sequels to bipolarism, to marginalize Europe and Japan, to control Arab oil at the start of the coming millennium. On the other hand, there was Saddam Hussein who, even as victim, agreed to play the role of criminal, providing George Bush the opportunity to make an example of a Third World country.

Feminism or Ventriloquism

by Zjaleh Hajibashi
published in MER172

Margot Badran and Miriam Cooke, eds., Opening the Gates: A Century of Arab Feminist Writing (Indiana, 1990).

Introduced by the editors as “the first collection of Arab women’s feminist writing,” Opening the Gates is both an important and problematic anthology. Following the basic format of two previous collections, Middle Eastern Muslim Women Speak and Women and the Family in the Middle East (both edited by Elizabeth Fernea, the first in collaboration with Basima Bezirgan), Margot Badran and Miriam Cooke seek to correct widespread misconceptions and ignorance about Middle Eastern women’s lives by presenting a collage of Middle Eastern women’s voices.

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An Interview with Francis Deng

by Khalid Mustafa Medani
published in MER172

Francis Deng is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School. He served as Sudan’s ambassador to Canada from 1980-1983, to the United States from 1974-1976 and to Scandanavian countries from 1972-1974. He was minister of state for foreign affairs from 1976-1980. Khalid Medani interviewed him in Washington in late June 1991.

How would you assess the impact of the Bashir regime on Sudanese society?

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