Middle East Research and Information Project: Critical Coverage of the Middle East Since 1971

Russia Opens Digital Interference Front in Libya

The Middle East is increasingly awash with fake news and misinformation campaigns. As elsewhere Russia has become a major vector of these disinformation campaigns, which affect virtually every major flashpoint in the Arab world. Russia just opened a new info-war front in Libya.

Autopsy of Erdoǧan’s Istanbul Defeat

Nabil Al-Tikriti 09.12.2019

Turkey’s authoritarian President Erdoǧan’s attempt to manipulate Istanbul’s recent mayoral election led to a humiliating defeat.  Despite the tight grip Erdoǧan and the AKP appear to have over Turkish politics, Turkey’s population is much more fractious and agitated by the regime than previously known.

Countering Christian Zionism in the Age of Trump

Mimi Kirk 08.8.2019

Behind President Trump’s fervent embrace of Israel are millions of Christian Zionists who believe that the establishment of a Jewish ethnostate in Palestine is a requirement for the fulfillment of end-times prophecies. But a growing movement of Christians is challenging this controversial theology.

Disavowing Israeli Apartheid

Lara Sheehi 06.22.2019

The decision by the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy’s (IARPP) to hold their annual conference in Tel Aviv, Israel cannot be written off as simply a misunderstanding, ignorance of global issues or unconscious enactment: it’s a disavowal of current reality.

How One Palestinian University is Remaking ‘Israel Studies’

Rebecca L. Stein 05.16.2019

At Birzeit University in the Israeli occupied West Bank, students and faculty are fundamentally remaking the dominant paradigm of Israel Studies as it has been configured in the United States with its proud “advocacy” mandate on behalf of the Israeli state. Birzeit’s program turns this paradigm inside out.

Precarious Teachers Strike for Public Education in Morocco

Zakia Salime 05.2.2019

Over the past three years, striking and demonstrating teachers have mobilized against their new precarious status as contract-labor under government privatization reforms implemented in 2016. The teachers’ struggle is bound up in the broader fight by Moroccan unions against the government’s neoliberal reforms targeting the public sector as a whole. Whether these protests will renew the momentum of the 2011 February 20 movement will depend upon the government’s response and the ability of the protesters to sustain and broaden the scope of their mobilization.

Israel and the Antisemitism Playbook in Great Britain and the Grassroots

The ongoing attacks on Congressional critics of Israeli policies like Rep.’s Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib for their alleged antisemitic remarks appear culled from the same playbook that Israel’s supporters in Great Britain used to tarnish Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn: continuously vilify the messenger in order to discredit the message. In our continuing discussion of this issue (see our roundtable on the manufactured controversy over Ilhan Omar’s tweets) we asked two commentators from Great Britain and two from grassroots activism in the United States to respond and reflect on what is behind this tactic and why now it is being deployed in each context.

Turkish Voters Upset Erdoǧan’s Competitive Authoritarianism

Nabil Al-Tikriti 04.22.2019

Turkish voters sent a strong message to its long-standing ruling party and its leader on March 31, 2019 that the government’s authoritarian turn has not fully succeeded. In nationwide municipal elections, for the first time in a quarter century, the political movement largely associated with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoǧan lost control over both the country’s economic and political capitals, as well as numerous other districts throughout the country. The symbolic and economic significance of losing both capitals, especially Istanbul, cannot be discounted. This article explains why this happened.

Protesting Politics in Algeria

Since February 22, 2019, Algerians have mounted massive protests in cities across Algeria. While calling for President Bouteflika’s resignation has been a focal point of demonstrations, the protests are more broadly a political contestation against a byzantine, status-quo politics upheld by an elite that is out of touch with the worsening realities in the country.

Making the Economy Political in Jordan’s Tax Revolts

The Jordanian citizenry remain unwilling to pay more taxes. The old system no longer works, but the way forward demands that Jordan’s leaders address the need for substantive reforms in both the economic and political systems that currently govern Jordanian lives. Any new social contract between the ruler and ruled cannot function by raising taxes while withdrawing services to struggling lower and middle classes.

The Manufactured Controversy About Ilhan Omar and the Israel Lobby

The firestorm that greeted newly elected Congresswoman (D-MN) Ilhan Omar’s tweets about the Israel lobby’s clout in Congress reveals as much about her critics as it does about the rising tide of progressive politicians who no longer show deference to establishment prohibitions on criticizing Israel.  Having lost the moral argument about Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinian people, Omar’s critics pounced on the allegedly antisemitic tone of her comments rather than address her criticism of the US’s one-sided support for Israel.  We asked several commentators to reflect on this largely manufactured controversy and what it tells us about the current limits of debate about Israel in the US today. 

Egypt’s Arrested Battlegrounds

Wael Eskandar 02.7.2019

While mass arrests and arbitrary detentions are nothing new to Egypt, the escalation and widening pattern of arrests over the past year indicate that the authoritarian mindset of the Egyptian regime has significantly changed. Egypt under President Sisi has succeeded in reestablishing authoritarianism in a manner that is far more brutal—and far-reaching—than that of the deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak. Once contested, albeit controlled, battlegrounds for politics are being decimated.

Protesting Clerical Welfarism in Iran’s Pious City

Mehdi Faraji 01.28.2019

Protests in Iran’s holy city of Qom reveal that social fragmentation in Iran runs so deep that even within a community as intimately related to religious learning and the state as Qom, the divisions and boundaries go beyond easy distinctions between regime and opposition, hardliner and reformer or secular and pious. The uneven nature of Iranian society, which is being exacerbated by international sanctions and ever-expanding modes of privatization and deregulation, has worked its way into all sectors of a society that is at once cognizant of this condition and also still divided.

Business as Usual in Western Sahara?

The end of 2018 witnessed potentially promising peace talks in Geneva between the Polisario Front liberation movement of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco in an effort to kickstart the stalled peace process for the nearly 45-year conflict over this North African territory. Nevertheless, the forces protecting the status quo, and thus Morocco’s ongoing colonization of Western Sahara, remain durable, and it is unclear whether this new round of talks will presage a broader resolution to one of the oft-forgotten conflicts of our times.

Trump’s Full Spectrum Assault on Palestinian Politics

Ilana Feldman 12.2.2018

The attack on UNWRA is part of a full-spectrum assault on the Palestinian people’s rights and capacity to engage in politics undertaken by the Trump administration since entering office in 2016. While the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly developing a Middle East peace plan, dubbed the “deal of the century,” the administration has been preempting negotiations by imposing “resolutions” to final status issues such as Jerusalem and weaponizing financial aid to coerce the Palestinians into compliance with the US and Israel’s demands.

Overstating Climate Change in Egypt’s Uprising

Jessica Barnes 10.1.2018

Although climate change is a major issue of global consequence, blaming climate change for the 2011 uprising in Egypt fails to account for the political and economic issues that were behind the uprisings across the region and distracts from the factors that produced bread shortages in Egypt.

From the War of National Liberation to Gentrification

Robert P. Parks 08.10.2018

Demonstrations about gentrification in Oran, Algeria are linked to a broader tension over collective versus individual rights to colonial-era properties abandoned by the French, occupied by citizens, nationalized by the state and now subject to varying strategies of individual appropriation in the wake of the broader gentrification of Algerian urban space since the 1990s.

From Gaza to Jerusalem to Iran

Joel Beinin 07.12.2018

By forging a regional alliance aimed at confronting Iran and its allies, the new coalition of the US, Israel and allied Sunni Arab regimes intend to relegate the Palestinian issue to collateral damage in order to succeed.

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