Water Blues

by Lizabeth Zack
published in MER276

Two quiet but revealing developments related to Middle East water were announced in the spring and summer of 2015. On February 26, Israeli and Jordanian officials signed an agreement to begin implementation of the long-awaited and controversial Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project. And, on June 9, a civil society-based coalition led by EcoPeace, a regional environmental NGO, released the first ever Regional Master Plan for Sustainable Development in the Jordan Valley. The two schemes represent very different approaches to solving water problems in the region—the first is an old-school engineering fix requiring massive new infrastructure, while the second is a river restoration project rooted in sustainable development principles.

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Regional Responses to the Rise of ISIS

by Curtis Ryan
published in MER276

Regional responses to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, have varied depending on regime perceptions of threat, not only from ISIS itself, but also from other potential rivals, challengers or enemies. Despite the jihadi group’s extensive use of violence in Syria and Iraq and its claims of responsibility for bombings and attacks in Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen—as well as France in mid-November—it was not necessarily the top security priority for any of these states.

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.

Cohen, Political Parties in the West Bank Under the Jordanian Regime, 1949-1967

by Joel Beinin
published in MER115

Amnon Cohen, Political Parties in the West Bank Under the Jordanian Regime, 1949-1967 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982).

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Status-less in Cyber City

by Maisam Alahmed
published in MER275

When refugees from the Syrian war first began to stream into Jordan, the Jordanian Ministry of Interior registered the newcomers and placed them in the care of families, under the kafala system, mainly in the capital of Amman. The kafala or guardianship system has roots in Bedouin customs, but in modern times the term refers to how many Arab states handle migrant workers. A citizen or a company, known as a kafil, sponsors the migrant for a work visa and residency permit. At first this system accepted everyone, regardless of nationality or legal status—including 55 Palestinian families coming from Syria.

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Jordan's Longest War

by Pete Moore | published May 26, 2015 - 9:03am

More than any other Arab country, Jordan was linked to nearly every major twentieth-century war in the Middle East. War in the Arabian Peninsula propelled the kingdom’s future rulers, the Hashemites, to come to British-controlled Transjordan in the 1920s. The Palestinian Arab revolt in the 1930s and then World War II helped to solidify the nascent state east of the Jordan River. Jordan was an active combatant in the Arab-Israeli wars, which brought waves of Palestinian refugees and lasting change to Jordanian society. The country was rocked by a brief but bloody civil war in 1970 and belatedly entered the 1973 Arab-Israeli war as well.

Two Books on Jordan

by Mary C. Wilson
published in MER119

Avi Plascov, The Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, 1948-1957 (London: Frank Cass, 1981).

Peter Gubser, Jordan: Crossroads of Middle Eastern Events (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1983).

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Not Running on Empty: Democratic Activism Against Israeli Gas in Jordan

by Curtis Ryan | published April 16, 2015 - 8:24am

A grassroots movement has been growing in Jordan, aimed at putting a stop to a major gas deal between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom. In the wake of the Israeli elections, which returned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power, this movement can be expected to get larger still.

One Society of Muslim Brothers in Jordan or Two?

by Curtis Ryan | published March 5, 2015 - 8:58am

Jordan’s government this week approved an application to make the Society of Muslim Brothers a licensed, local charity, paving the way for a break between the Jordanian branch of the Brothers and the regional organization based in Egypt. The move was resisted, however, not by the Jordanian government, but by the Brothers’ own leadership, the Shura Council. The Council rejected the decision and condemned what it viewed as government interference in the affairs of Jordan’s largest Islamist movement -- underscoring a deepening divide between the movement and the state, and also within the movement itself.

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.