Crackdowns and Coalitions in Kuwait

by Alex Boodrookas | published June 18, 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.

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. 


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.