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

Radix Malorum est Cupiditas

James Spencer 04.3.2018

The last three years have been a time of outright misery for most Yemenis as War, Pestilence, Famine and Death have stalked what used to be known as Arabia Felix. Thousands are recorded as having been killed; tens of thousands more are known to have died. Millions are starved by a siege, and—weakened by hunger—are more vulnerable to diseases which are but fading memories in the “civilised” West. And for what?

Sisi’s Plebiscitary Election

Mona El-Ghobashy 03.25.2018

From day one of his July 3 coup, al-Sisi has directed a relentless campaign to depoliticize and incapacitate the population, riveting the old relations of deference and subordination between those who rule and those coerced to obey. But plebiscitary elections are part of a different type of autocratic rule, one that orchestrates continuous and diverse performances of citizen enthusiasm and state-identification.

The Story Behind the Rise of Turkey’s Ulema

Ceren Lord 02.4.2018

The AKP, in pushing the expansion of the Diyanet for political purposes, also has enhanced the capacity of the institution to pursue its own agenda. Indeed, the unprecedented expansion of the Diyanet in recent years demonstrates its ability to seize opportunities arising from its common cause with AKP to expand its role in order to pursue, in tandem, the expansion of the religious field and Islamization of public space and morality.

Yemen Dispatch

The eruption of fighting by rival factions in Yemen’s southern city of Aden on January 28 provides distressing additional evidence that Yemen’s war is best understood as a series of mini-wars reflecting the intersection of diverse domestic drivers of conflict and Gulf regional fragmentation.

How the Houthis Became “Shi‘a”

It is wrong to code what is happening in Yemen as a Sunni-Shi‘i conflict. The Houthis are not an Iranian proxy but a predominantly local political movement founded in long-standing, Yemen-centric grievances and power struggles. The cynical use of sectarian language casts the conflict in Yemen as part of an epochal, region-wide struggle rather than a local civil war made more deadly for Yemeni civilians by Saudi and Emirati intervention.

A “Blue” Generation and Protests in Iran

Aghil Daghagheleh, 01.22.2018

The protests reveal a widespread disaffection with all existing political factions. New slogans calling for the “death” of “the dictator” and for a “referendum” alternated with those in favor of the Pahlavi monarchist regime that ruled Iran before the 1979 revolution. This public enunciation of an all-or-nothing approach to political change in Iran is an unexpected development, and is indicative of a new level of rejectionist “blue” alienation, especially among Iranian youth.

Onwards and Upwards with Women in the Gulf

An examination of women’s struggles to gain the right to vote in Kuwait, and ongoing efforts to promote women’s football in Qatar, provide useful in-depth case studies. They cannot predict the future course of change in Saudi Arabia, but they illustrate the need for ongoing political engagement and social activism to secure gains, and the limitations of state-led efforts to remake isolated aspects of Gulf societies while failing to reckon with the complex web of social regulations that underpin present gender divides.

Justice and/or Development

Emilio Spadola 12.24.2017
`Ash al sha`ab! `Ash! `Ash! [Long Live the People!] `Ash! `Ash! Maghariba mashi “awbash!” [We Moroccans are not “trash!”] Ra’s al-mal?! [Where’s our capital?!] -Hirak protest chants in Fez, June 2017 What began in late October 2016 with protests over the horrific...

Seeing Past the Rain of Light

On November 11, 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates opened its doors to the public, nearly ten and a half years after the initial announcement of the project. Social media was awash with pictures of visitors in the rays of sun filtering into the...

A Century of Refusal

Lori Allen 11.17.2017
On the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, there has been a flurry of commentary about the controversial announcement, contained in a letter sent by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild. A Conservative parliamentarian, Rothschild...

Another Brick in the Wall

Zep Kalb 11.2.2017
At ten o’clock in the morning, Thursday October 5, 2017, about 500 teachers gathered in front of the Budget and Planning Office in Tehran. [1] They were joined by thousands of colleagues protesting in front of education offices in a reported 21 cities across the...

Refugees or Migrants?

Much of the media attention on global displacement currently focuses on the Syrian refugee crisis and refugees’ attempts to enter Europe through Eastern Mediterranean routes. Certainly, the large scale of displacement that has occurred as a result of the war in Syria...

Labor and Class in Iran

Paola Rivetti 05.26.2017
Mohammad Maljoo is a Tehran-based economist researching labor issues and the transformation of capital-labor relations in post-revolutionary Iran. Widely published in several languages, Maljoo is also the Persian translator of numerous books on political economy by...

Lessons Learned (and Ignored)

On May 23, 1997, Mohammad Khatami, who had spent most of the 1990s as head of the National Library, defeated Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, the speaker of Parliament, to become president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The election was a turning point in post-revolutionary...

The Travel Ban and Iranian-Americans

Semira Nikou 05.9.2017
By the end of his first few weeks in office, President Donald Trump had managed to rile up most everyone in the country who was not agitated already. Of the many unsettling Trump initiatives, one of the most contentious has been his effort to make good on campaign...

Striking for Dignity and Freedom

Amahl Bishara 05.5.2017
More than 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners began a hunger strike on April 17 for better conditions inside Israeli jails. Their demands include access to education, proper medical care and an end to the practice of solitary confinement. They are striking to make...
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