Volume XXV Summer 2018 Number 2
The Middle East continues to produce more news than can be consumed locally, and not all of it bad. However, a new low was marked with the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem — on the eve of the seventieth anniversary of the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe). There wasn't the least attempt at sophisticated P.R. to make this American show more palatable for an international audience.
W. ROBERT PEARSON, Former Ambassador to Turkey; Non-resident Scholar, Middle East Institute
There is never a dull day in Turkey, and events daily prove that. The announcement of the recent date for new elections is just one more example of how vibrant, diverse and changeable Turkish politics and life can be. So with a lot of American attention always being paid to what the American options are and what the United States can and cannot do, it's very refreshing to have a symposium based on what Turkey is about in the region.
The year 2011 arguably signaled the beginning of a transformative period for the geopolitics of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), simultaneously posing new and daunting threats to all the countries of the region.1 The fact that in less than a year protesters toppled the decades-old regimes of Zine al-Abbedin Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Qadhafi in Libya and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen demonstrated the power of popular revolts.
In fall 2015, following a formal request by the Bashar al-Assad government in Damascus, Russia intervened in Syria to support a friendly regime on the brink of collapse. Within three years of direct military involvement in the Syrian civil war, Russia — along with Iran and Iran-backed Shiite militia — has succeeded in stemming the tide of local insurgent groups, helping to bring under Assad's control most of the war-torn country.
For an administration sorely lacking foreign-policy experience, President Donald Trump has set ambitious goals in the Middle East. Foremost among them is to contain the influence of Iran, which Trump has identified as the greatest threat to U.S. interests and those of its regional allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Second is to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, where the administration has intensified Obama-era strategies.
In recent years, Lebanon has been in the headlines as a result of internal conflicts among its various ethnic groups and hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel. However, throughout this time, the country's vibrant social and cultural life has continued — a fact that has received limited attention from academic researchers. One cultural element of Lebanese life is football, the world's most popular sport.
Why do Islamists kill each other? In the last three decades, Islamist rebels enmeshed in civil wars have descended into internecine conflicts that divided their ranks, alienated their supporters, and cost them their bid for power. From the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria, to al-Qaeda in Iraq, to the Islamic State, each of these movements had perfect opportunities to topple their regimes. Yet, in the midst of civil wars, they turned their guns on fellow rebels, choosing to pursue hegemonic leadership over coalition unity.
On March 3, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress. On the surface, this was far from an extraordinary event; more Israeli heads of state have addressed the U.S. Congress than those of any other foreign nation.1 However, the circumstances surrounding the speech, and its purpose, proved unprecedented. Netanyahu had not been invited by President Barack Obama to address the U.S.
When the multiethnic Ottoman Empire disintegrated as a result of World War I, the nationalists led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk1 instigated a coup that left them in control of large parts of the army and established the Turkish Republic as a successor state in 1922. Anatolia, eastern Thrace and northern Mesopotamia, which became the new republic's territory, had a highly heterogeneous population culturally and linguistically. Under the Ottoman Empire, all ethnic and religious groups were granted full rights. In return, it was demanded that they be loyal to the state.
War in Syria has been raging for more than seven years. A popular uprising in March 2011 was hijacked by extremist elements and turned into a non-international armed conflict of savage proportions.1 This, in turn, has drawn in a number of countries to support one side or the other. Principally, it is Russian and Iranian forces, along with Hezbollah fighters, who support the Assad government.
Robert Springborg has been one of the most astute analysts of Egyptian politics since his first book, Family, Power, and Politics in Egypt, was published in 1982. His latest work, Egypt, stands out from the spate of books published after the 2011 uprising.
Revolution without Revolutionaries challenges the conventional concept of revolution as a collective and conscious action aimed at overthrowing a political system in a short period of time.
Inside the Battle of Algiers is an exciting story to be read on several levels. It is the detailed account of the fourteen months of the battle for Algiers in the most heated period of the Algerian National Liberation Army (ALN) struggle for independence from France.
On the evening of July 15, 2016, elements of the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the Turkish government of democratically-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (1954- ) whose roots were in political Islam.
The United States and Turkey over the last few months have brought into sharp relief the complex interplay of interests and identities fueling the Syrian war.