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

The United States’ Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and the Challenge to the International Consensus

On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the US was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would be moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv in fulfillment of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act (henceforth Embassy Act). In one fell swoop, the US has seriously challenged 70 years of international consensus enshrined in international law as regards the status of the city, and put the potential for a two-state solution into a tail-spin. What are the consequences of this major policy change?

Recognizing Annexation

Joel Beinin 05.12.2018

The White House announcement distinguishes between recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and establishing an embassy there and recognizing “the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.” In other words, the Trump administration, like all those before it, seeks to avoid acknowledging how Israel, in defiance of UN resolutions, has altered the demographic and geographic realities of the city.

Preservation or Plunder? The ISIS Files and a History of Heritage Removal in Iraq

The removal of the ISIS files from Iraq is only the latest episode in a long history of seizures of Iraqi archives and artifacts by Europeans and Americans. Rather than dismiss Iraqi critics as unreasonable, everyone with a stake in the study of Iraq—including all journalists, historians, and archivists—must reckon with the enduring legacies of two centuries of Western removal of Iraqi heritage.

The Southern Transitional Council and the War in Yemen

Susanne Dahlgren 04.26.2018

In late January this year, an armed conflict erupted in Aden between troops under command of President ‘Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and those loyal to the Southern Transitional Council (STC), both in principle on the same side of the Yemeni war. The fighting left more than 40 people dead and several wounded. The conflict raised speculations of a crack in the Saudi-led coalition that since March 2015 has waged war in Yemen.

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...
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