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  • Author: Josh Dean
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A little over a month ago, I wrote of an atmosphere of resignation in Israel among Netanyahu’s political opponents leading up to the Israeli parliamentary elections on April 9th. The smattering of center-left parties seeking to rival Netanyahu’s Likud at the ballot box were divided across a range of tickets, unable to put their egos aside and form a joint bloc capable of presenting a veritable challenge to the incumbent prime minister. The long-reigning Israeli leader’s tenure looked, therefore, set to extend even further. The question was not who will be the next prime minister, but rather “Who will be the next Bibi [Netanyahu]?” as Israeli comedian Tom Aharon quipped. But a lot can change in a day of Israeli politics, never mind a month. As political alliances shift rapidly, the announcement of Netanyahu’s indictment on fraud and corruption charges has further destabilized the already-turbulent atmosphere leading up to the April elections.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Law, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ali Tehrani, Azadeh Pourzand
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Winter 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The anniversary celebrations occurred in the midst of a difficult era of socio-economic turmoil, the return ofَ U.S. sanctions, and deepening political infighting in the Islamic Republic. Tensions between the government and the people are especially high. The tectonic plates of social change have been shifting below the surface in Iran over the past two decades, with major discontent erupting in the past year. While the country’s political facade appears largely unchanged, tensions and fragmentations among the ruling elite have deepened. Economic conditions are fast deteriorating for the average citizen, while political repression remains a harsh reality. Iran’s citizens, who have clung to hope and the possibility for change through decades of domestic repression and isolation from the global economy, struggle to remain hopeful. Collective fatigue stemming from years of isolation from the global economy, as well as domestic economic hardship, compounds the disappointment Iranians feel from unfulfilled political promises. The Iranian government has repeatedly failed to carry out promised reforms; in recent years alone, President Hassan Rouhani has proven unable to carry out his promises to “open up Iran politically, ease rigid social restrictions and address human rights abuses.” As this situation continues, Iran risks despair and chaos.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Social Movement, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Reform, Economy, Memory
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Asma Elgamal
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Described as one of the “greatest fusers of politics and art,” Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi has spent much of his life studying – and talking about – Arab art. Between founding the Barjeel Art Foundation, an Emirati-based initiative that collects and preserves Arab art, to live-tweeting the events of the Arab-spring to millions of Twitter users, al-Qassemi has a reputation for breaking silence on topics most members of an Arab royal family would be reluctant to touch. On February 7th, at an event hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Security, al-Qassemi gave a talk entitled “Politics of Modern Middle Eastern Art” in which he explored the greatest hits of modern political Arab art.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Arts, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the second in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. At Erdoğan’s election in 2002, he appeared to be the latest in a line of populists elected to office. Initially, his success seemed the result of an ability as an Islamist to appease the concerns of the secular establishment. This was bolstered by his stated commitment to Turkey’s accession to the European Union. While in the 1990s Islamist reformers failed to pass institutional reforms aimed at decreasing military control of Turkish politics, the military allowed Erdoğan the space to pursue institutional reform that would enhance Turkey’s chances of becoming a member of the European Union. This attempt by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to reimagine Turkish democracy for the 21st century took the form of a general push for constitutional reform.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Law, Elections, Constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Coup
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the first in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. Constitutions are nations’ mission statements, and articulate pre-political commitments that turn residents into citizens, and borders into a nation. In Turkey, generations of political leaders have used constitutional reform as an opportunity to set their political agenda and highlight their priorities. The 2017 referendum must be understood in the context of a democracy where voters have experienced successive constitutional reforms aimed at complementing the mission each new generation of leaders gives itself. A view of modern Turkish history reveals the tendency of leaders to use constitutional reform to address deficiencies in their respective administrations, and reflects the latent tension between populism, military intervention, and constitutional integrity.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Law, Reform, Constitution
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Mason Hill
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the third in a three part series on Turkish constitutionalism one year after the 2017 constitutional referendum. the 2017 Constitutional Referendum have only entrenched that reality. Erdogan’s dominance in Turkish politics should not obscure the fact that the individual office holder rather than an ideologically-grounded bloc is now the fulcrum upon which Turkish politics shifts. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) that came to power promising reform, religious pluralism and market-friendly economic policies has become a vehicle for Erdoğan’s personal ambition. After the Gezi Park protests and amid allegations of his son’s corruption, Erdogan became an increasingly polarizing personality in Turkish politics who weighed down the AKP brand in the 2015 parliamentary elections. Yet Erdoğan’s popularity returned during the pivotal moment of the 2016 coup attempt, when he appeared in a live interview with a reporter via Facetime. By the time 2017 referendum campaign, Erdoğan personally rather than AKP parliamentarians was the medium around which responses were polarized. The extension of Erdoğan’s personal control over the levers of power was particularly apparent in the referendum’s changes to the structure of the legislative and judicial branches of the Turkish government, granting legal justification to Erdoğan’s de facto force of personality regime. Developments over the past year have made clear that Turks are increasingly casting votes for and against candidates rather than parties.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Coup
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Arega Hovsepyan
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: After the attempted coup d’état of 15 July 2016, discussion inside expert circles about the construction of a “new” Turkey took on a new urgency. The result of the 2017 constitutional referendum remade Turkey’s political institutions, but the events of the 2016 coup attempt also catalyzed changes to the symbolism of the state. The ruling Justice and Development Party, whose slogans had long promised “a new Turkey,” was at the forefront of the surge in hardened messaging. The cornerstone of this “new Turkey” is а classical concentration of political power in the hands of one person, specifically President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kemalism, Turkey’s founding ideology, is in the process of being replaced by the new ideology of the new president. Although it is still early to characterise this new ideology in Turkey as “Erdoğanism”, the similarities and contradictions of Kemalism and Erdoğanism lend insight on the structure of Turkish politics. The era of Erdoğan has been unleashed in Turkey, and moreover, its eponym is eager to not only replace the personality cult of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, but also to surpass the historic founder’s titanic image.
  • Topic: Politics, History, Authoritarianism, Ideology, Coup
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: James Aird
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Five months after Iraq’s May 2018 parliamentary elections, rival political blocs have broken deadlock and are set to form a new government. On October 2nd, the Iraqi parliament selected Barham Salih, a career politician from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), for the Iraqi presidency. Shortly after his election, Salih named Adil Abdul Mahdi, Iraq’s former oil minister, as prime minister. Iraqis and international observers applauded the selection of these politicians who have eschewed sectarian rhetoric as a victory for political compromise, but Salih and Abdul Mahdi face the challenge of answering popular calls for government reform after a summer marked by violent protests.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Politics, Water, Elections, Employment, Protests, State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Adham Sahloul
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The murder of Saudi Arabian columnist Jamal Khashoggi on October 2nd in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has been a clarion call for the Washington foreign policy community, one that is redefining the United States’ relations with the Saudi Kingdom and, by extension, US strategy in the Middle East. The Khashoggi affair will outlive President Donald Trump; the reputation of Saudi’s leadership is beyond repair, and with Global Magnitsky sanctions and the newly proposed bipartisan Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act, the US Congress appears ready to act where the executive has fallen short. The CIA has concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump, who has threatened “severe consequences” for whomever is found responsible, seemed over the past month to be looking for a way out of naming, shaming, and punishing MbS himself. In his statement on November 20th, Trump confirmed many observers’ worst fears about this president’s worst instincts, saying that US security, economic, and political interests transcend this incident. For a sitting US president to balk at the notion of holding an ally accountable and making even a symbolic effort to address such a gruesome crime with clear chains of responsibility constitutes a new low in US foreign policy
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Crime, Human Rights, Politics, Trump, Journalism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Tunisian revolution of 2010-11 has been understood as a point of rupture after years of worsening job prospects and living standards in the country. Some have claimed it highlighted the inefficacy of Tunisia’s development policies, while other studies saw a link between high rates of literacy, lack of economic opportunities, and protests against the state. One should, however, be cautious of taking an economically deterministic approach to Tunisia’s uprising. Many countries whose citizens are mired in deep poverty and rampant unemployment are not in a state of revolt. Other factors such as pre-existing social networks (like trade unions and family ties) also play a major role in shaping political events. Furthermore, economic statistics in North African countries, such as Tunisia, are often manipulated for political reasons.
  • Topic: Politics, Poverty, Popular Revolt, Reform, Economy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia