Overstating Climate Change in Egypt’s Uprising

by Jessica Barnes | published October 11, 2018

The possible link between climate change and political upheaval in the Middle East has attracted increasing media attention and is generating a new wave of academic research seeking to demonstrate the link.

From the War of National Liberation to Gentrification

Conflicting Claims over Property in Algeria

by Robert P. Parks | published August 10, 2018

On December 22, 2013, 40 families living at 11 Boulevard de la Soummam -- the Champs Élysées of the western Algerian city of Oran -- took to the streets brandishing banners and shouting slogans against one of Algeria’s wealthiest businessmen, Djilali Mehri. Mehri had acquired the building when he purchased a Franco-Algerian real-estate holding company, Société Immobilière Française pour la France et l’Afrique du Nord (SIFFAN), nearly twenty years earlier. Having recently completed the renovation of the prestigious art nouveau Royal Hôtel, just up the street, Mehri planned to redevelop the historical boulevard into a high-end market.

Is the Rojava Dream at Risk? An Interview with Dilar Dirik

by Giuseppe Acconcia | published July 24, 2018

In 2011, as Syria’s uprising spread, the Kurds living in the country’s northern provinces organized themselves to defend their neighborhoods and provide social services. The Kurds’ “local coordination committees” were similar to the bodies of the same name that sprung up everywhere in Syria where the popular revolt took root. In most places, these committees were eclipsed as Bashar al-Asad’s regime lashed out to quash the uprising and the opposition – largely peaceful at the outset – armed itself in response. In the majority-Kurdish areas of the country, the regime withdrew its forces and the local coordination committees became the administrative and security apparatus of a de facto autonomous zone known as Rojava.

From Gaza to Jerusalem to Iran

Shifts in the Middle East and the Place of Palestine

by Joel Beinin | published July 12, 2018

The Palestinian Great March of Return, which began on March 30, 2018 and continued into June, was a popular mobilization of people of the Gaza Strip initiated by politically unaligned young men and women. The campaign of unarmed marches towards the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel demonstrated popular support for a new Palestinian political direction. It contrasts sharply with both the diplomatic impasse over Israel/Palestine and the emerging reactionary political realignment of the Middle East.

“Do You Know Who Governs Us? The Damned Monetary Fund”

Jordan’s June 2018 Rising

by Sara Ababneh | published June 30, 2018

From May 30 to June 7, 2018 Jordanian protesters took the world by surprise. What had started as protests over a taxation draft law and an increase in gas prices quickly led to a popular rising against the neoliberal path on which the state has embarked. The rejection of neoliberal economic policy and the privatization of key national industries are not new to Jordan. But the centrality in which this analysis featured in the events of June’s rising (habbit [1] huzayran) is unprecedented. In the past, protests against the government’s economic nahj (path) were most strongly felt in workers’ circles, the governorates outside Amman and a few impoverished quarters inside the capital.

The Fiscal Politics of Rebellious Jordan

by Pete Moore | published June 21, 2018

Over the first weeks of summer, a surge of popular protest reminded the world that political contestation is alive and well in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a country often described as a haven of tranquility in the strife-torn Arab world. It started with a call for a June 6 general strike by a coalition of professional associations and labor unions in opposition to the regime’s proposed amendments to the income tax law. But when the moment arrived a range of groups, formal and ad hoc, transformed it into days-long nationwide demonstrations demanding repeal of the tax law, reversal of price hikes on fuel and electricity, and dismissal of the prime minister.

Crackdowns and Coalitions in Kuwait

by Alex Boodrookas | published June 18, 2018

This article was updated on July 10, 2018.

In November of 2017, several dozen Kuwaiti opposition members, including a number of current and former MPs, were suddenly arrested on charges relating to the occupation of the Parliament building in 2011—even though they had been cleared of similar charges four years earlier. [1] The arrests swept up a number of politicians who had been the most visible anti-corruption campaigners in the country, and few doubted that the regime was trying to use the incident to discredit or imprison those who would embarrass the ruling family by airing its dirty laundry. [2] After a drawn out trial, which witnessed regular protests outside the Parliament building calling for the case to be dropped, the defendants were released on bail; the final judgment is due on July 8th. [3]

The Lebanese Elections and Their Consequences

by Rayan El-Amine | published June 14, 2018

Lebanon recently held its first national parliamentary elections in nine years. The expectation was that there would be a major rebellion against the traditional sectarian-based parties. But the results were much less dramatic, reflecting four current political trends in the country.

A Brief History of a Teacher's Strike

An Interview with H.

by Mezna Qato , Mai Abu Moghli | published June 5, 2018

In February and March 2016, nearly 35,000 Palestinian teachers initiated a series of strike actions across the West Bank. Classes were dismissed and students sent home as teachers marched through Ramallah’s streets and organized sit-ins in front of Ministry of Education field offices. Though short-lived, the strike had wide resonance as teachers utilized their waning social capital in ways they had not done since the second intifada, and encouraged members of other unions to organize industrial actions, particularly after the March 9, 2016 ratification of Social Security Law 6.

The United States’ Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and the Challenge to the International Consensus

by Mandy Turner , Mahmud Muna | published May 16, 2018

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would be moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv in fulfillment of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. In one fell swoop, the US has seriously challenged 70 years of international consensus enshrined in international law as regards the status of the city, and put the potential for a two-state solution into a tail-spin. In keeping with the general chaos surrounding his presidency, Trump and his administration then announced a series of contradictory remarks regarding this historic decision. The original declaration insisted that the decision did not affect final status negotiations regarding Jerusalem, a position that was confirmed by then secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, a few days later. In so doing, Trump threw the diplomatic equivalent of a Molotov cocktail into the incendiary issue of Jerusalem’s status, but then denied he had done so, arguing that his decision was “nothing more, or less, than a recognition of reality. But then Trump contradicted himself in a January 3, 2018 tweet, where he stated: “we have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table.” Deciphering the different meanings in Trump’s statements and language is less important than the implications that this decision will have for future diplomatic policy and practice.

Recognizing Annexation: Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem

by Joel Beinin | published May 12, 2018

The storm of opposition to President Donald Trump’s December 6, 2017 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital was predictable, and has been, so far, ineffectual. More consequentially, in the following week Israeli forces killed four and wounded ten Palestinian protestors in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There were demonstrations around the world—in Cairo, Beirut, Tehran, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Istanbul, Tokyo and in several European and American cities. The European diplomatic community was exceptionally aroused but has done nothing substantive.

Preservation or Plunder? The ISIS Files and a History of Heritage Removal in Iraq

by Arbella Bet-Shlimon | published May 8, 2018

On April 4, 2018, the New York Times published a gripping account of life in northern Iraq between 2014 and 2017 under the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS or IS). The article, titled “The ISIS Files: When Terrorists Run City Hall,” was the culmination of over a year of work by correspondent Rukmini Callimachi and a team of reporters, fact-checkers, and translators.[1]

Running as Resistance in Occupied Palestine

by Joshua Stacher | published May 3, 2018

The mass of runners awaiting the starter gun in Manger Square could be anywhere in the world. Hundreds of kindred spirits communicate without words, preparing to compete against each other and themselves, and sharing a familiar nervous energy. And yet this start line feels different than the one in quaint Hopkinton, where the Boston Marathon begins. There’s a church at that line, but it’s not the Church of the Nativity. The race in Massachusetts is the oldest continuously run marathon in the world. Bethlehem, gracious host to the Palestine Marathon since 2013, is the birthplace of Christianity.

MERIP Welcomes New Executive Director/Editor

published April 28, 2018

MERIP is thrilled to announce Steve Niva as the new Executive Director/Editor beginning July 15. Steve has been involved with MERIP for over 30 years, first as an editorial assistant, and since as a frequent contributor and past member of the editorial committee. His recent lead article for MER 283, “Trump’s Drone Surge,” exemplifies the best MERIP has to offer, linking fine-grained analysis to big-picture critical intervention. Steve comes to MERIP from the Evergreen State College where he has been a professor of political science. His regional knowledge, strategic vision and editorial acumen will be an absolute boon for MERIP.

The Southern Transitional Council and the War in Yemen

Consolidating Power in the Unified Southern Territories

by Susanne Dahlgren | published April 26, 2018

In late January this year, an armed conflict erupted in Aden between troops under command of President ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and those loyal to the Southern Transitional Council (STC), both in principle on the same side of the Yemeni war. The fighting left more than 40 people dead and several wounded. The conflict raised speculations of a crack in the Saudi-led coalition that since March 2015 has waged war in Yemen. In Saudi political rhetoric, the war aims at bringing Hadi back to power as “the legitimate president.” Yet the Emiratis, a coalition partner, have in multiple ways contributed to the military and political strength of the southern opposition to Hadi’s regime.

Radix Malorum est Cupiditas

by James Spencer | published April 3, 2018

The last three years have been a time of outright misery for most Yemenis as War, Pestilence, Famine and Death have stalked what used to be known as Arabia Felix. Thousands are recorded as having been killed; tens of thousands more are known to have died.

What Kind of a War is the Yemen War?

by Martha Mundy | published March 27, 2018

This short note poses three questions central to understanding the nature and meaning of the Yemen war. These concern the strategy of the Coalition war itself, the structure of legal reference, and the forms of information concerning the war. The three fields intersect. 

Strategy

The Yemen war is about to enter a fourth year; thus the strategy of the Coalition, which controls Yemen’s airspace and sea-space (alongside the Combined Maritime Forces and from May 2016 the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism), has moved through several stages. [1]

Sisi’s Plebiscitary Election

by Mona El-Ghobashy | published March 25, 2018

Since January, international media and rights groups have decried the escalating repression ahead of Egypt’s March 26-28 presidential election.

April 2018 Event: The Latin East - An International Conference

published February 20, 2018

At the height of Latin America’s “pink tide” in the mid-2000s, left wing governments throughout the region developed unprecedented economic, political, and cultural ties with the Arab world as part of a larger effort to disrupt U.S. hegemony globally. Meanwhile in the Middle East, entrenched power regimes seemed to teeter against a wave of social and political movements broadly identified as the Arab Spring. Today, as the Pink Tide recedes and renewed conflict and authoritarianism grips the Middle East, the time is ripe to consider the origins, contours, and legacies of a relationship forged in a moment of deep regional and global flux, between parts of the world infrequently considered side by side.

The Story Behind the Rise of Turkey’s Ulema

by Ceren Lord | published February 4, 2018

At the heart of the controversy over Islamization in Turkey has been the accelerated rise and visibility of the Islamic scholars or clergy known as the ulema. Despite the ostensibly secular nature of the republic, the majority of Turkey’s ulema are employed by the state’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı). The directorate is the country’s chief Islamic authority and holds a legal monopoly on Muslim religious life and activity.

Yemen Dispatch

by Stacey Philbrick Yadav | published January 30, 2018

The eruption of fighting by rival factions in Yemen’s southern city of Aden on January 28 provides distressing additional evidence that Yemen’s war is best understood as a series of mini-wars reflecting the intersection of diverse domestic drivers of conflict and Gulf regional fragmentation. [1] Eyes are turned to Aden and the conflict between the government of displaced President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, on the one hand, and the UAE-backed secessionist Southern Transitional Council on the other, which the government has accused of staging a coup. At the same time, there are at least six distinct zones of conflict around the country, each with its own antagonists and external patrons.

How the Houthis Became “Shi‘a”

by Anna Gordon , Sarah E. Parkinson | published January 27, 2018

On December 4, 2017, Houthi rebels in Yemen killed ‘Ali ‘Abdallah Salih, their erstwhile ally and the country’s former president. It was a dramatic reversal: Parts of the national army loyal to Salih had fought alongside the Houthis for nearly three years in Yemen’s ongoing civil war. But shortly before his death Salih turned against the Houthis, making overtures to their opponents, the Yemeni administration-in-exile led by President ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and its backers in the wealthy Gulf Arab monarchies, primarily Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

A “Blue” Generation and Protests in Iran

by Aghil Daghagheleh , Zakia Salime | published January 22, 2018

On Friday, December 29, 2017, a protest suddenly broke out in the shrine city of Mashhad, one of Iran’s major urban centers located in the northeast of the country. Although evidence indicates that the protests were prompted by hardliners in order to undermine President Hassan Rouhani, they rapidly spread across the country and spun out of any one faction’s control. Most international mainstream media were quick to point out that these were the largest and most significant Iranian protests since the Green Movement, the youth-driven protests that emerged after the contested 2009 presidential election.

Onwards and Upwards with Women in the Gulf

by Andrew Leber , Charlotte Lysa | published January 11, 2018

Change is afoot for Saudi Arabia’s female citizens, or so suggests much commentary about events over the past few years. There was the first election in which women could vote, the first public concert by a female performer, and soon (if all goes according to plan) for the first time Saudi women will be able to drive on the streets of Riyadh and elsewhere in the kingdom. All have garnered their share of headlines.

Support MERIP

published December 24, 2017

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Justice and/or Development

The Rif Protest Movement and the Neoliberal Promise

by Emilio Spadola | published December 24, 2017

What began in late October 2016 with protests over the horrific death of Mohcine Fikri, a fish seller in the northern city of Al Hoceima, escalated in 2017 into a broad social protest movement with participants in all of Morocco’s major cities. The Hirak al-Rif movement, so named for Al Hoceima’s mountainous and coastal Rif province, draws symbolism and strength from the region’s painful history of state violence, deprivation and insult.

Seeing Past the Rain of Light

Louvre Abu Dhabi and the UAE Art Scene

by Elizabeth Derderian | published December 12, 2017

On November 11, 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates opened its doors to the public, nearly ten and a half years after the initial announcement of the project. Social media was awash with pictures of visitors in the rays of sun filtering into the main atrium, in what the museum’s architect, Jean Nouvel, called a “rain of light.” The fact that a significant repercussion of the museum’s establishment was felt long before it opened was lost in the flurry of self-portraits taken under the signature dome. The 2007 declaration of plans for the museum triggered important changes in the Gulf art scene.

A Century of Refusal

Palestinian Opposition to the Balfour Declaration

by Lori Allen | published November 17, 2017

On the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, there has been a flurry of commentary about the controversial announcement, contained in a letter sent by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild. A Conservative parliamentarian, Rothschild was also a leading British advocate for the establishment of a Jewish nation-state in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

Another Brick in the Wall

Protesting Education in Iran

by Zep Kalb | published November 2, 2017

At ten o’clock in the morning, Thursday October 5, 2017, about 500 teachers gathered in front of the Budget and Planning Office in Tehran. They were joined by thousands of colleagues protesting in front of education offices in a reported 21 cities across the country. Turning Global Teachers’ Day into a nationwide occasion to express their discontent, Iran’s teachers demanded higher wages and more government investment in education.

Refugees or Migrants?

Difficulties of West Africans in Morocco

by Parastou Hassouri | published September 12, 2017

Much of the media attention on global displacement currently focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis and refugees’ attempts to enter Europe through Eastern Mediterranean routes. Certainly, the large scale of displacement that has occurred as a result of the war in Syria (the number of registered refugees has surpassed five million), and the rise in number of asylum applications being made in Europe, merit our attention. However, Syrian refugee flows in the Eastern Mediterranean are only part of a larger picture of forced migration.

Fifty Years of Occupation

A Forum (Part 3)

by Sherene Seikaly , Neve Gordon , Lori Allen , Alaa Tartir , Sara Roy | published June 9, 2017

June 5, 2017 is the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which culminated in the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, among other transformations of regional politics. The post-1967 occupation and its consequences continue to structure the mainstream conversation about resolving the conflict between Israel the Palestinians, and those between Israel and other Arab states, even as scholarship increasingly poses the occupation as part of a longer-term and more multi-faceted question of Palestine. We asked several specialists to reflect on the past, present and future of the question of Palestine at this historical juncture.

Fifty Years of Occupation

A Forum (Part 2)

by Gershon Shafir , Omar Jabary Salamanca , Sobhi Samour , Mandy Turner , Andy Clarno | published June 7, 2017

June 5, 2017 is the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which culminated in the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, among other transformations of regional politics. The post-1967 occupation and its consequences continue to structure the mainstream conversation about resolving the conflict between Israel the Palestinians, and those between Israel and other Arab states, even as scholarship increasingly poses the occupation as part of a longer-term and more multi-faceted question of Palestine. We asked several specialists to reflect on the past, present and future of the question of Palestine at this historical juncture.

Fifty Years of Occupation

A Forum

by Joel Beinin , Noura Erakat , Zachary Lockman , Maha Nassar , Ilana Feldman | published June 5, 2017

June 5, 2017 is the fiftieth anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which culminated in the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, among other transformations of regional politics. The post-1967 occupation and its consequences continue to structure the mainstream conversation about resolving the conflict between Israel the Palestinians, and those between Israel and other Arab states, even as scholarship increasingly poses the occupation as part of a longer-term and more multi-faceted question of Palestine. We asked several specialists to reflect on the past, present and future of the question of Palestine at this historical juncture.

Lessons Learned (and Ignored)

Iran’s 2017 Election in Context

by Arang Keshavarzian , Naghmeh Sohrabi | published May 26, 2017

On May 23, 1997, Mohammad Khatami, who had spent most of the 1990s as head of the National Library, defeated Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, the speaker of Parliament, to become president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The election was a turning point in post-revolutionary history—the underdog beat the preferred candidate of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Leader of the Islamic Revolution (rahbar), with roughly 20 million votes or 70 percent of the total. Twenty years later, the incumbent president Hassan Rouhani drew parallels between that historic event and his own reelection bid, casting himself as the underdog this time and his main challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, as the man backed by the establishment.

Labor and Class in Iran

An Interview with Mohammad Maljoo

by Paola Rivetti | published May 26, 2017

Mohammad Maljoo is a Tehran-based economist researching labor issues and the transformation of capital-labor relations in post-revolutionary Iran. Widely published in several languages, Maljoo is also the Persian translator of numerous books on political economy by thinkers such as Karl Polanyi, E. P. Thompson and Albert Hirschman. The bulk of this interview took place in Tehran in August 2016; it was completed by e-mail in May 2017.

The Travel Ban and Iranian-Americans

by Semira N. Nikou | published May 9, 2017

By the end of his first few weeks in office, President Donald Trump had managed to rile up most everyone in the country who was not agitated already. Of the many unsettling Trump initiatives, one of the most contentious has been his effort to make good on campaign promises of “extreme vetting” of immigrants and visitors from abroad, particularly those from Muslim-majority countries. When he first tried it, in late January, immigration lawyers and protesters turned US airports into hives of resistance, helping affected travelers navigate the new barriers to their entry.

Fear and Loathing in Turkey

The Backstory to Erdoğan’s Referendum

by Ümit Cizre | published April 26, 2017

Shortly after the failed coup attempt of July 16, 2016 in Turkey, I received a frantic text message from a lifelong friend, Lale Kemal. Lale is a prominent freelance journalist with an impeccable 37-year record of non-partisan reporting and analysis. She is an internationally known expert on Turkish civil-military relations, having written for Jane’s Defense Weekly since 1991. Now, Lale texted from Ankara, she was under arrest for her columns in Zaman, which, until its court-ordered seizure four months before the putsch and its closure soon thereafter, was one of the highest-circulation daily newspapers in Turkey.

On the Breadline in Sisi's Egypt

by Neil Ketchley , Thoraya El-Rayyes | published March 29, 2017

On March 6, 2017, hundreds of local residents took to the streets of towns and cities in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta after the Ministry of Supply cut their daily ration of subsidized baladi bread. By the following day, thousands were protesting in 17 districts across the country. In Alexandria, protestors blockaded a main road at the entrance of a major port for over four hours, while residents in the working class Giza suburb of Imbaba blocked the airport road. Elsewhere, women in the Nile Delta city of Dissuq staged a noisy sit-in on the tracks of the local train station, where they chanted, “One, two, where is the bread?” and called for the overthrow of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s government.

The Walled-Off Hotel Controversy

How Banksy Universalizes the Palestinian Struggle

by Jamil Khader | published March 22, 2017

The British street artist known as Banksy is no stranger to controversy. His public art about capitalism, misogyny and racism always produces conversation. His newest installation in occupied Bethlehem, the Walled Off Hotel, is generating significant public debate about Palestine-Israel. According to different media reports, Banksy aims to focus attention on Israel’s apartheid wall and, in the process, help inject some much needed resources into the besieged local Palestinian economy.

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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