The Challenges of Palestinian Solidarity in Amman’s Street Art Scene

Kyle Craig 03.30.2022

In the summer of 2021, street artists in Amman risked crossing the Jordanian government’s red lines when they painted murals and graffiti expressing solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Kyle Craig spoke with the artists about this unexpected shift in their public art practices and the sometimes contradictory responses of state officials. He examines the entanglements and power dynamics between artists, the government and institutional art patrons revealed by this unusual moment.

Wildfires Ignite Political Debate in Turkey

Ekin Kurtiç 02.22.2022

Although wildfires in Turkey’s Mediterranean forests are not unusual, the ferocity of last summer’s fires sparked new political debates around the issues of government forest management and post-fire restoration. Turkish forestry experts and the public are now questioning conventional solutions promoted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), such as planting trees, that promise a quick and convenient recovery—and green the state’s image.

Revisiting MERIP Coverage of Israel as an Apartheid State

The Editors 02.4.2022

The recent upsurge in analysis of Israel as an apartheid state has peaked again with Amnesty International’s February 2022 report. The willingness of mainstream non-governmental organizations to use the language of apartheid marks a shift in the terms of the debate—one that builds on a long history of analysis and activism, including by MERIP. Revisit MERIP articles that examine the parallels—and distinctions—between Israel’s system of control and that of apartheid South Africa.

Manufacturing the AKP in Turkey

Utku Balaban 01.25.2022

The AKP’s decades-long electoral success in Turkey has been made possible by their strategic alliance with the country’s small industrialists. Utku Balaban analyzes the connection between Islamism and industrialization since the rise of these urban manufacturers in the 1980s and explains the nuances of the Islamists’ reliance on their support in working-class communities.

Afghanistan’s Present Failure Lies in its Past Design

Providing a vital historical perspective, Benjamin Hopkins explains how the failure of the American project in Afghanistan had little to do with Afghan corruption or lack of national unity as understood in Washington. While today the problems of the Afghan state—its dependence on foreign aid, lack of legitimacy among the population and inability to deliver the public good—are viewed as elements of its failure, Hopkins shows how they are in fact consciously constructed features of its original blueprint, embedded by outside imperial powers at the modern state’s inception.

Whatever Happened to Dignity? The Politics of Citizenship in Post-Revolution Tunisia

Nadia Marzouki 12.1.2021

Dignity was a principle demand of the 2011 revolution that overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. Nadia Marzouki examines how that demand has informed the practices of youth and other marginalized groups as they mobilize for quotidian causes like clean streets. President Kais Saied’s recent power grab is a different kind of response to the demand for dignity, one that tries to erase corruption rather than confront it through transitional justice. Marzouki explains how the fluid politics of dignity make it an enduring resource for democratic revival. Forthcoming in the Winter 2021 issue of Middle East Report, “Revolutionary Afterlives.”

The Enduring Taste of Hope—A Poem and Interview with Khaled Mattawa

Soon after Libyans rose up in protest against the brutal authoritarian regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in February 2011, the Libyan American poet Khaled Mattawa wrote “Now That We Have Tasted Hope.” His poem powerfully captured the mix of relief and anguish, despair and hope felt by many who participated in, or were inspired by, the Arab uprisings and was widely shared. In addition to presenting the poem here, Atef Said interviewed Mattawa about the poem, poetry’s relationship to revolution and his work supporting artists in Libya. Forthcoming in the Winter 2021 issue of Middle East Report, “Revolutionary Afterlives.”

Jerusalem Youth at the Forefront of 2021’s Unity Intifada

The Palestinian uprising of April, May and June 2021—known as the Unity Intifada—is part of a long tradition of revolutionary political activity in which Palestinians from Jerusalem have often played a role. Akram Salhab and Dahoud al-Ghoul report from the city about the reasons youth feel compelled to act and how they are organizing. They investigate the ways this uprising builds on earlier civic action and why this intifada is so important.

Israel’s Latest Effort to Fragment and Disempower the Palestinians

Joost Hiltermann 11.10.2021

In October 2021, Israel spuriously designated six Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorist” groups, liable to suppression and severe punishment under Israel’s counterterrorism law. Joost Hiltermann analyzes why Israel is targeting these well-regarded groups—including the oldest Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq—and why now. Israel’s focus on crushing Palestinian nationalism, the decline of the PA’s relevance in Palestinian life and international complacency all play a role.

Populist Passions or Democratic Aspirations? Tunisia’s Liberal Democracy in Crisis

Tunisia’s political system is in crisis after President Kais Saied concentrated power in his office in July 2021. Robert P. Parks and Tarek Kahlaoui delve into the reasons why so many citizens support his moves and explain why they have become so disenchanted with Tunisia’s democratic system. The authors find that the governments’ emphasis on the electoral process and political theater over solving socio-economic problems and giving voice to the people are crushing the aspirations of the 2011 revolution.

Capturing the Complexity of Lebanon’s Civil War and Its Legacies

Najib Hourani 10.6.2021

The current political and economic crises in Lebanon reveal the myriad ways that the Lebanese continue to deal with the effects of the 1975–1990 civil war. Najib Hourani explores MERIP’s deep coverage of Lebanon since the early 1970s. He finds that “MERIP’s commitment to foregrounding local social struggles and their links to the global political economy, along with a sensitivity to historical context, has provided a powerful antidote to mainstream reporting and analysis.” Forthcoming in the Fall 2021 issue “MERIP at 50.”

Understanding the Diversity of Political Islam

Francesco Cavatorta examines MERIP’s 50 years of covering the complex phenomenon of political Islam and finds that much of it is based on field research, participant observation, interviews and ethnography. The result has been a rich diversity of approaches that comprehend the plural nature of Islamism, directly engage the words and deeds of Islamists and provide insights that prepare readers to understand real-world events. Forthcoming in the Fall 2021 issue “MERIP at 50.”

Covering Surveillance, Struggles and Solidarity in the Arab American Community

Pamela Pennock 09.14.2021

Although issues of domestic surveillance and discrimination faced by Arabs living in the United States became more prominent after the attacks of September 11, 2001, MERIP has been covering them continuously since the organization was founded 50 years ago. Pamela Pennock surveys how MERIP has written about issues of surveillance, struggles for justice and solidarity in the Arab American community. Forthcoming in the Fall 2021 issue “MERIP at 50.”

Refusing Imperial Amnesia in the War on Terror

Darryl Li 09.7.2021

Twenty years after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the US invasion of Afghanistan, Darryl Li surveys how MERIP’s deep and insightful coverage of the resulting War on Terror countered the “willful amnesia of American nationalism with a rigorous insistence on illuminating the historical continuities of imperial violence.” This essay is the first in a series reflecting on MERIP’s hard-hitting coverage of a wide range of topics since 1971, forthcoming in the Fall 2021 issue “MERIP at 50.”

The Collapse of Tunisia’s Party System and the Rise of Kais Saied

Ten years after the Tunisian people overthrew the country’s authoritarian ruler, their democracy is in crisis. On July 25, 2021, Tunisian President Kais Saied invoked Article 80, the emergency clause in the constitution, to sack the prime minister and freeze the activities of parliament. Nate Grubman and Aytuğ Şaşmaz examine the role of the political party system in preparing the ground for this dramatic move.

Yemeni Freedom and Mobility Dreams

Bogumila Hall 08.11.2021

Yemenis forced to leave their war-torn home not only flee to neighboring countries, they also head south across the Indian Ocean to the European Union’s furthest outpost: the French-administered island of Mayotte. Bogumila Hall tells the stories of migrants who make grueling journeys south and north only to be trapped by EU policies that severely limit their mobility. Despite the hardships, Yemenis continue to create vital social bonds and dream of freedom.

Understanding Race and Migrant Domestic Labor in Lebanon

The dire financial and political crises in Lebanon have made migrant domestic workers even more vulnerable to abuses of the kafala system of sponsorship. Kassamali explains the history of this labor system in Lebanon and the intersecting roles of race, class, nationality and gender in the hierarchies it produces.

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