Remembering Jamila Debbech Ksiksi—An Interview with the Late Tunisian Lawmaker and Anti-Racist Activist
On migrant’s rights and the legal struggle against racism in Tunisia.
Three recent books on Jordan trace authoritarianism in the mundane rhythms of daily life.
Özlem Kayhan Pusane argues that the Kurdish question in general, and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in particular, will occupy a critical place on the Turkish political agenda in the run up to the summer 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections. After the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party publicly validated the beleaguered and oppressed HDP as a legitimate political actor, other opposition parties signaled their willingness to grant the HDP a more central role in Turkish politics. While the broader political atmosphere in the country is conducive to such a change, considering that all sides need Kurdish votes for victory in 2023, there are major challenges ahead.
With the French presidential election currently underway, Olivia C. Harrison’s timely intervention explains the central role that the history and memory of French Algeria continue to play in the country’s politics, culture and society. She shows how the perverse calls by nativist and right-wing groups for the “decolonization of France” and the repatriation of immigrants have been shaped by the experience of settler colonialism and the Algerian War of Independence, with repercussions that go beyond France.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
When the UAE and Bahrain normalized their relations with Israel, the countries’ leaders justified their actions as beneficial to the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Elham Fakhro explains how this rationale quickly fell apart and shifted, revealing deeper economic and strategic goals. Fakhro also illuminates how the history of Gulf support for the Palestinians created a space for the diverse responses of civil society to the Abraham Accords.
MERIP editors interview Evren Altınkaş, a Turkish scholar who was pushed out of his academic position by his university’s administration as a consequence of participating in the Gezi Park protests of 2013. Altınkaş discusses his work on the intellectual tradition in Turkey, the role of the ruling AKP party in society and the challenges he and other academics face.
In the midst of deepening political and economic crises, the recent assassinations of two intellectuals—Hisham al-Hashimi in Iraq and Lokman Slim in Lebanon—have shaken the popular protest movements that are pushing for fundamental change in both countries. Haugbolle and Andersen consider the consequences for those who challenge the status quo of government corruption and crumbling public services, both in the streets and through documentation and scholarship.
Elif Kalaycıoğlu reviews Chiara de Cesari’s book Heritage and the Cultural Struggle for Palestine, which explores the complex and shifting terrain of Palestinian heritage politics at work in both the Palestinian Authority and civil society organizations over time and under the conditions of settler colonialism.
Despite a decade of attempts to create a new democratic system of governance based on respect for human rights, efforts by non-Arab groups and other minorities in Libya to end discriminatory practices have been unsuccessful. The continued marginalization of minority groups is largely due to the persistence of historical divisions and rivalries between communities on the local level and the struggle over resources and wealth on the national level—both exacerbated by the policies of the former regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi (1969–2011).
This issue of Middle East Report explores the interactions of the body politic with health and medicine and examines the entanglements of physical bodies in the institutional and political processes that govern them. Articles in this issue explore a range of different landscapes and ecologies of politics and health care. In this way, we aim to bring the questions and problems of health and illness into the analysis of geopolitics and political economy, while situating the Middle East in broader global health conversations.