Almost twenty years ago, Sheila Carapico made the case for the development of Arabian Peninsula studies as an alternative to the growing field of Gulf studies. A wider regional approach, she argued, would better highlight the numerous connections and flows between Yemen and the six monarchies of the Peninsula. Such a framework is as relevant now as it was then.
Observers often summarize the past ten years in Syria in numbers: more than 500,000 killed, 100,000 disappeared, half the population of 22 million displaced, hundreds of billions of dollars of property destroyed and 90 percent of the population currently living in poverty. These shocking figures lay bare the horror caused primarily by President Bashar al-Asad’s brutal crushing of dissent, as well as the international community’s failure to uphold its responsibility to protect civilians.
Asher Orkaby examines the politics and unforeseen consequences of international aid in response to war and suffering in Yemen. He finds that much of the humanitarian aid actually exacerbates the war by fostering a lucrative wartime economy, disincentivizing peaceful resolutions and prolonging national dependence on foreign aid. Local civil society efforts try to promote self-sufficiency and repair the damage, but face many challenges.
As President Joe Biden’s administration struggles to meet its self-imposed deadline of September 11, 2021 to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, Hollywood is offering its own painless, bloodless version of an end to America’s longest war. In this review of the CBS sitcom “United States of Al,” the authors Wazhmah Osman, Helena Zeweri and Seelai Karzai critique the show’s representation of Afghans and the US war and explain why the show’s missteps matter.
War has broken out in Western Sahara and few have heard the news. At a crossroads between sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, the Saharan desert has long been misconstrued in colonial discourses as a largely unpeopled geography deemed culturally marginal and largely assimilable to Maghrebi post-colonial nation-states. As a result, Saharan political identities occupy a blind spot in social scientific area studies. Partly for this reason, the political demands of hundreds of thousands of Sahrawis who support the Polisario Front—an anti-colonial national liberation movement established in 1973 to recover sovereignty over Western Sahara—are systematically sidelined in global political agendas and mostly ignored in mainstream media.
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.”