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.

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.

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published December 24, 2017

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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.