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  • Author: Ofra Bengio
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The Kurds challenge the self-perceptions of the nation-states in which they reside: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq; and they have played a crucial role in combatting Islamic State. This study analyzes the rivalry and interdependence among the four parts of Kurdistan as well as the dynamics of their relations with regional countries and the international community. With the entire region in a state of flux, will the Kurds fulfill their dream for a state or autonomous existence of their own?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War, Self Determination, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Gil Feiler, Hayim Zeev
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: Under the leadership of Sheikh Hamad al-Thani (1995-2013), Qatar established itself as a regional mini superpower. It launched and subsidized the global media giant Al Jazeera, poured billions into its unrivalled liquefied natural gas infrastructure, made a successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and diversified its economy through international acquisitions by its Qatari Investment Authority. This newfound wealth emboldened the emirate to attempt to broaden its diplomatic profile and extend its influence. And it is in this sphere that its maverick foreign policy, which at times spanned the world’s most fraught ideological lines, has led to increased tensions with its immediate neighbors and some unequivocal diplomatic disasters.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Scholars and policymakers have increasingly recognized that Islamist movements and actors vary widely – from domestically oriented, quietist movements engaging in democratic systems to revolutionary, armed movements aiming to upend the nation-state system. Yet little has been done to understand how the nature of individual movements, and their success, often differs substantially at the subnational level. Some communities are much more likely to support different Islamist actors than others, and even the same movement may have very different strategies in some localities than others. Many questions remain regarding if and how Islamist movements and actors look or act differently in rural areas and secondary cities as they do in the capitals. To what extent do the strategies and performance of Islamists vary subnationally? And what explains this variation?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Long repressed, banned, and exiled, many Islamist movements and parties across the Middle East and North Africa witnessed a moment of electoral success after the 2011 uprisings. Since then, their fates have varied widely. Some have made significant compromises to stay in power, others have ostensibly separated their religious and political efforts, while others have been repressed more brutally than before or have fragmented beyond recognition. What accounts for these actors’ different adaptation strategies and divergent outcomes? Earlier this year, the Project on Middle East Political Science brought together a dozen top scholars for our 4th Annual workshop on Islamist politics to address these questions.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Engaging and influencing public policy debates on areas of their expertise is a core part of the mission of academics. The last decade has in many ways been the golden age of academic policy engagement. Social media, the proliferation of online publishing platforms, and a generational change in disciplinary norms and practices has unleashed an impressive wave of writing by academics aimed at an informed public sphere. The Project on Middle East Political Science has worked to promote such public and policy engagement, with hundreds of academics each year contributing their expertise on the Middle East on publishing platforms such as The Middle East Channel and The Monkey Cage and through direct policymaker engagement.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: In years past, Islamist televangelists like Amr Khaled, Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Tareq Suwaidan seemed like the future of Arab media. Advancing a form of “soft Islam” focused on personal betterment and religiosity, these preachers were seen by some as a potential counterweight to extremist voices and by others as a sinister leading edge of radicalization. The contretemps between Amr Khaled and Yusuf al-Qaradawi over the Danish Cartoons Crisis of 2006 inspired numerous academic articles
  • Topic: International Affairs, Social Media
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ahmed Abd Rabou
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: This book focuses on Civil-Military Relations (CMR) in Egypt, a country that witnessed uprisings calling for democratic change in January 2011, which led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak from the Presidency, the suspension of the constitution, and the dissolution of the parliament as well as the ruling of the National Democratic Party (NDP). Ironically, revolutionary forces in Egypt were dependent on the Egyptian military in taking these steps, with the military ultimately taking power some 30 months later.
  • Topic: Civil Society
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Turkey has been in the news repeatedly in 2016, from the coup attempt of July to the subsequent government purges to its renewed fight against the PKK and crackdown on Kurdish populations. However surprising these developments may appear for an outside observer, they are deeply rooted in the history of the Turkish state, the evolution of the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), and the complex identity politics of the region. In October, more than a dozen scholars of Turkish politics gathered at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston for a Project on Middle East Political Science workshop to delve into some of these underlying themes. The memos produced for that workshop have been published individually on the POMEPS website and the full collection is now available as a free download here. The authors in this collection provide rich context, new data, and sharp analysis of the nuanced challenges facing the country and the region today
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The Arab world never seemed more unified than during the incandescent days of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Tunisia’s revolution clearly and powerfully inspired Arabs everywhere to take to the streets. Egypt’s January 25 uprising that led to the removal of Hosni Mubarak taught Arab citizens and leaders alike that victory by protestors could succeed. The subsequent wave of protests involved remarkable synergies that could not plausibly be explained without reference to transnational diffusion. Bahrainis, Yemenis and Jordanians alike attempted to replicate the seizure and long-term encampments in Egypt’s Tahrir Square and protestors across the Arab world chanted the same slogans and waved the same signs.
  • Topic: International Security, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The Arab uprisings triggered a fierce regional countermobilization by threatened regimes and the elites who benefited from the status quo. This resurgent autocracy did simply restore the old order, however. It created new forms of populist mobilization and established new relationships among civil and military state institution. In May 2016, the Project on Middle East Political Science and Oxford University’s Middle East Center convened a workshop to dig deeply into the new regional politics generated by the authoritarian reconstruction.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Marc Lynch
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: The barriers to women’s political participation in the Middle East have long preoccupied scholars and analysts. The Arab uprisings of early 2011 disrupted virtually every dimension of Arab politics and societies, forcing a systematic re-evaluation of many long-held political science theories and assumptions. The place of women in politics and the public sphere were no exception.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Maher Akhttiar
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Until recently, people with disabilities in the Arab world have lived largely in the shadows, a silent sector lacking the opportunity to express their demands or discuss their needs. There are no medical, social, economic, legal, or political mechanisms in the region for discussing how disability is defined, or effectively explaining who disabled individuals are; this ambiguity in standards, which allows people to be divided into healthy and unhealthy categories, act as a mechanism of veiled oppression.
  • Topic: Social Movement
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Nael Georges
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: This paper presents the key ideas from a new book of the same name forthcoming soon from Dar el Machreq. This book was made possible by support from the Arab Reform Initiative’s Arab Research Support Program.
  • Topic: International Relations, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Manata Hashemi
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Disproportionate levels of youth unemployment and economic marginalization in the Middle East have prompted many regional observers to conclude that socioeconomically disadvantaged Middle Eastern youth are more prone to radicalization and thereby constitute a threat to national and international security. The general consensus in these accounts is that low levels of occupational opportunities leave poor youth more disposed to frustration and fatalism, which in turn are strongly linked to radical politics. Alternatively, scholars in the language of rational choice argue that these young people engage in a deliberate calculation of means and ends in order to attain the power and wealth necessary for upward mobility. These scholars posit poor youth as rational, autonomous agents whose goals are defined by individual interests and preferences. However, these respective theories are unable to account for 1) the absence of political radicalism among poor youth in many countries of the Middle East, and 2) the presence of seemingly irrational acts among these youth that neither maximize self-interest, nor necessarily reflect individual preferences. Given the shortcomings of each of these prevailing theories, this paper, instead, synthesizes these two approaches and assesses the social conduct of poor youth in the Middle East from the perspective of aspirations-bounded rationality. From this vantage point, the behaviors of poor youth are not determined by individual economic interests or by pure emotion, but by aspirations. This paper proposes that these youth struggle and create strategies to improve their lives that are conditioned by experience and observation of those who inform their social worlds.
  • Topic: Youth Culture, Employment
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mathilde Dugit-Gros
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Has Western involvement in the Arab Spring generated more scepticism in North Africa and the Middle East about foreign influence? This study compares public opinion about foreign influence across five MENA countries: Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Tunisia. Using data sets from the second and third waves of the Arab Barometer, the study compares the periods pre- and post-2011.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Sherif Mohy El Deen
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: These two papers are the result of field investigations into the bloody events that have erupted in the region of Kerdasa on the outskirts of Cairo and in the Sinai peninsula in late 2013. The papers observe the mechanisms by which the Egyptian security forces are dealing with the protests of the citizens there, and shed light on their continuing activities and psychological repression more than two years after the outbreak of the revolution. This repression continues despite talk of the need to change the security institutions and the essential challenge of changing the relationship between the state and its citizens to allow for the construction of a democratic foundation.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Heba Abou Shnief
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: While the Arab awakening has impacted the political economies of Arab states differently, the message that state-business relations can no longer afford to rely on pre-existing models of business advocacy has reverberated across the region. Rent-seeking, cronyism, patronage, and state capture have long been―to varying degrees—all features of state-business relations in the Arab world. In post-uprising countries, the rise and fall of regimes, the adoption of new constitutions, the holding of theoretically more open legislative elections, the emergence new interest groups and a more scrutinizing public are all dynamics that are likely to influence the mechanics of policymaking, and with it, legacy systems of private sector advocacy. While it is still too early to ascertain with certainty precisely how older business advocacy models might evolve to adapt to new realities, or how soon such adaptations might occur, the dynamics have already changed—particularly with regards to ‘state capture’—where challenges to pre-existing networks have paralleled challenges to incumbent regimes. Combining a desk study with extensive field interviews with key persons from the business sector, government and civil society in both Egypt and Tunisia, the research makes a preliminary examination of the initial attempts at policy advocacy by business interest groups during the transitions. In doing so, a deeper understanding of how those dynamics seem to have changed thus far, as well as an initial assessment of whether or not state capture has, perhaps, come to an end in any of the countries studied is made. Finally, a brief set of policy recommendations are presented on ways and means of improving advocacy processes so that national business interests might be better reflected in the economic policymaking calculus.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Michael Driessen
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: Much of the recent literature on the evolution of political Islam in the Middle East and North Africa has debated the extent to which Islamist political parties have become “secularized” in their political goals and rhetoric. In these studies, a comparison between the political secularization of Islamism and Christian Democracy is often alluded to, but rarely explored in depth. The two political religious movements share much in common with regards to their historical encounter with political liberalism and their intuitions about an ideal religious society. An uncritical comparison, however, obscures significant differences in the relationship of either movement to democratic institutions, traditional sources of religious authority, and the religious citizens of their nations. This paper qualifies the historical, institutional, and theological similarities of political Islam and political Catholicism. In doing so, it emphasizes the importance of the legacies of Catholic Christendom and Muslim Dar al-Islam as transnational, pre-Westphalian religious political orders and the idea of religious authority found in either. After articulating these bases of comparison, the paper considers how these religious legacies remain present in the transition to Christian or Muslim Democracies by exploring the rhetoric of Catholic civilization or Muslim civilization found in Pope Pius XII and Rachid Ghannouchi’s discourses on democracy.
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East