Three Poems by Osama Esber

The Syrian poet Osama Esber presents three new poems that grapple with the reverberations of living through the current global pandemic. Written in Arabic, they are accompanied by Lisa Wedeen’s English translation and introduction.

Revisiting MERIP Coverage 30 Years After the First Gulf War

The Editors 03.2.2021

MERIP’s coverage of the First Gulf War sought to understand the crisis beyond the battlefield kinetics: from Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait to the US-led Desert Storm military operation liberating Kuwait and looking beyond to the regional aftermath. Our authors and editors offered historically-grounded analysis of the invasion, they measured the nascent waves of misery and violence that would radiate from it and offered clear-eyed commentary on the costs and risks.

Boğaziçi Resists Authoritarian Control of the Academy in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu as the new rector of Boğaziçi University on January 1, 2021 provoked outrage among students and faculty in Turkey. Alemdaroğlu and Babül explain the anger behind the continuing protests and how Boğaziçi’s struggle fits into a long history of government control over higher education as well as the ruling party’s desire to attain cultural hegemony by cultivating what Erdoğan calls pious, homegrown and national youth.

The Algerian Hirak Between Mobilization and Imprisonment – An Interview with Hakim Addad

Thomas Serres 02.16.2021

Hakim Addad has been a political activist in Algeria for decades. In this interview with Thomas Serres he discusses the increasing repression of peaceful demonstrators under President Tebboune, the positive role of a new generation of activists in the Hirak movement, his arrests and imprisonment and the challenges of being binational. Forthcoming in MER 298, “Maghreb From the Margins.”

Labor Activists, the Living Wage and State Law in Iran

Fruzan Afshar 02.9.2021

Fruzan Afshar traces the contested politics and complex law of setting the minimum wage and cost of living figures in Iran. She shows how Iranian labor activists are making innovative use of the state’s labor laws to secure political inclusion and a platform to voice demands.

The Savor of Memory

Laleh Khalili 02.9.2021

Laleh Khalili draws on memories from childhood, her experience of leaving Iran and her ongoing interest in cooking to review a series of classic and contemporary Iranian cookbooks. Through them she reflects on the politics of identity in the Iranian diaspora and the global circuits of foodways reflected in Iranian regional cuisines.

Three Decades After his Death, Kahane’s Message of Hate is More Popular Than Ever

David Sheen 02.2.2021

Although Meir Kahane was assassinated 30 years ago, the violent and hateful legacy of his ideology continues to shape Israeli politics. David Sheen’s in-depth and long-term investigative reporting sheds light on how the intricate web of Kahanist influence is pulling Israel further and further to the far-right. Unabashedly Kahanist politicians have made hateful speech and action toward Palestinians by the government and within society increasingly visible and acceptable.

Revisiting MERIP Coverage of the Arab Uprisings

The Editors 01.26.2021

Revolutions are the singular political events that “confront us directly and inevitability with the problem of beginning,” argued Hannah Arendt. MERIP’s coverage of the uprisings of 2011 struggled intensely with this conundrum while cross-regional mobilizations, alliances and confrontations emerged at a pace that ignited promise for meaningful change. Revisit MERIP’s essential coverage in the wake of the 2011 toppling of Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Husni Mubarak and the massive rallies in Yemen through this selection of key articles.

Solidarity Is a Country Far Away

Anna Simone Reumert reviews Darryl Li’s book The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire and the Challenge of Solidarity, an eye-opening ethnographic history of the experience and fate of foreign fighters acting in the name of global Muslim solidarity in the Bosnian war of the 1990s.

Sahrawi Self-Determination, Trump’s Tweet and the Politics of Recognition in Western Sahara

Mark Drury 12.22.2020

The Sahrawi people have been struggling for self-determination in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara since 1975. Despite years of nonviolent resistance, there has been no significant change in the stalled process of decolonization. Until now. The sudden end to the long-running ceasefire and Trump’s tweet recognizing Moroccan control over Western Sahara and Morocco’s normalization of relations with Israel have suddenly altered the political dynamics. Mark Drury explains what this means for Sahrawi aspirations.

The Dilemmas of Practicing Humanitarian Medicine in Gaza

Osama Tanous 12.8.2020

Humanitarian medical aid was developed to provide life-saving assistance to populations suffering from war and disease. What happens when this model is applied to help those living under occupation and coping with chronic deprivations and long-term siege conditions? Osama Tanous, a Palestinian pediatrician in Israel, recounts how he saw the logic of medical aid shattered during trips to Gaza and reflects on the limits of humanitarianism. Forthcoming in MER issue 297 “Health and the Body Politic.”

The Long Shadow of Iraq’s Cancer Epidemic and COVID-19

Mac Skelton 12.2.2020

The epidemic of cancer in Iraq that emerged after the 1991 Gulf War has afflicted nearly every family. In response to a health care system devastated by sanctions and war, Iraqis acquired decades of experience piecing together novel mechanisms for obtaining treatment. The tendency of families to rely on their own knowledge and practices around disease is, however, no match for the coronavirus pandemic and the corruption of political elites that enables its spread. Forthcoming in MER issue 297 “Health and the Body Politic.”

Syrian Refugees Navigate Turkey’s Shifting Health Care Terrain

Nihal Kayali 11.24.2020

Registered Syrian refugees in Turkey are allowed to access free state health care. But the language barrier, registration difficulties and prejudice led to the emergence of informal clinics run by refugee doctors. Although the government has opened Migrant Health Centers to ease access and replace informal clinics, unregistered refugees continue to face challenges. Nihal Kayali interviewed doctors, patients and clinic staff to find out how Syrians strategically navigate Turkey’s shifting health care terrain. Forthcoming in MER issue 297 “Health and the Body Politic.”

Ambivalence and Desire in Revolutionary Syria

Daniel Neep 11.10.2020

Daniel Neep reviews Lisa Wedeen’s book Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria and finds it a “serious, powerful work operating on multiple levels: it speaks to an impressive range of debates in the Anglophone academy and the Syrian artistic field without losing sight of the visceral suffering of Syrians both inside and outside the country.”

Jordan’s 2020 Election Shifts from Landmark Poll to Business as Usual

E.J. Karmel 11.5.2020

November 2020 is election season not only in the United States, but also in Jordan where the prospects for a shakeup in parliament are quickly receding. Based on interviews with Jordanian political leaders, E.J. Karmel explains the shifting dynamics among candidates, lists, parties and currents that are undermining the potential for a changed parliament and seem to be leading to another business-as-usual election next Tuesday.

The Unintended Consequences of Turkey’s Quest for Oil

Zeynep Oguz 10.13.2020

The discovery of oil in Turkey’s southeast encouraged state elites to imagine that development would lead to the assimilation of Kurds into Turkish culture and language. Instead, oil infrastructures and the resulting social changes had very different consequences. Zeynep Oguz explains the historical dynamics of the quest for oil and how it nurtured Kurdish dissent and critique of the state. Forthcoming in MER issue 296 “Nature and Politics.”

Palestinian Refugee First Responders Rush to Aid Beirut

When the massive explosion in Beirut’s port ripped through the city on August 4, 2020, members of the Palestinian Civil Defense Lebanon sprang into action. Although based in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps and despite entrenched suspicion and bias against refugees, the group immediately rushed to help their Lebanese neighbors. Erling Lorentzen Sogge tells their story.

Global Aspirations and Local Realities of Solar Energy in Morocco

Morocco’s massive Noor solar power installation in Ouarzazate is celebrated as an important step in the transition to renewable energy. But the benefits are not flowing to all citizens. Rural unrest and other demonstrations of discontent in recent years are piercing the government’s techno-optimism. Long-standing repression, economic marginalization and lack of investment in services or infrastructure as well as water pollution are among the local realities faced by residents. Forthcoming in MER 296 “Nature and Politics.”

On Blaming Climate Change for the Syrian Civil War

Jan Selby 09.29.2020

The idea that the Syrian civil war was partly caused by climate change induced drought is widely repeated and yet deeply flawed. Jan Selby excavates the sources of misleading information and dismantles the simplistic cause and effect argument. Most importantly, he explains the real political and economic reasons behind agricultural crisis in Syria’s northeastern breadbasket region. Forthcoming in MER issue 296, “Nature and Politics.”

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