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Sectarianism

Dwekh Nawsha: A Christian-Iraqi Militia

[The Dwekh Nawsha militia on the road to the front line in the Nineveh plain, north of Mosul, Iraq. It is the armed wing of the Assyrian Patriotic Party formed to protect Christian villages. It fights alongside Peshmerga forces against ISIS. As of November 2014, the militia had forty fighters, with about two hundred volunteers waiting to join. Photo by Andy Spyra.]

[Text by Sinan Antoon, photos by Andy Spyra from November 2014 and March 2015.] The fall of Mosul and other towns on the Nineveh plain in northern Iraq to ISIS this past summer was a monumental tragedy. It forced hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes. Iraqi Christians, together with Yazidis and Shi‘a, and even Sunnis who opposed ISIS were priority targets. The number of Christian Mosulites was estimated at sixty thousand back in 2003. It was much higher in previous decades. But dictatorship, the devastating UN/US economic sanctions imposed on Iraq between 1990 and 2003, and the sectarian militia violence of post 2003 had whittled down their numbers and ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (March 24)

[Children playing in Ma'alla, Aden. All-out civil war threatens as Houthi, AQAP, and Hadi-aligned forces continue to converge on the city. Image from Brian Harrington Spier/Wikimedia.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Saudi Prince: Iran ‘expanding occupation of Iraq’ Prince Turki al-Faisal states that Iran’s expanding occupation of Iraq is “unacceptable.” Lebanese families given 48 hours to leave the UAE The Emirati authorities deport hundreds of Lebanese without providing any official reason. Yemen ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (March 17)

[Migrant workers in Dubai protested over unpaid wages this week. Image from Piotr Zarobkiewicz/Wikimedia.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Sandhurst and the Sheikhs A video report on the popularity of the British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst with Gulf monarchs and emirs. Saudis recall Sweden ambassador amid diplomatic row Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador from Sweden after the latter ended a weapons deal between the ...

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Slurring Sectarianism: Sunni-Shi‘i Discourse in Lebanon

[Folio depicting Battle of Siffin (657 AD) from a fourteenth-century Tarikhnama (Book of History) by Balami. Cropped image by Underlying Ik]

Lebanon has a history of inter-sectarian strife. Due to recent regional developments, namely the war in Syria, this strife now features new anti-Shi‘i and anti-Sunni slurs. Such slurs fan the flames of the Sunni- Shi‘i conflict that has emerged in the past decade, and are particularly effective when they employ tropes from Islamic collective memory. Anti-Shi‘i Discourse Lebanese Sunni resentment against Hizballah, especially among followers of Saad Hariri’s Future Movement and among the majority of Sunni Islamists, is currently potent after almost a decade of perceived persecution by the group. Tensions started to come to a head with the 2005 assassination of former ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (February 17)

[Saudi driving activists Maysaa Al-Amodi and Lujain Al-Hathloul. Image from frontlinedefenders.org]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]  Regional and International Relations Prince Charles raises blogger case with new Saudi king Prince Charles raised the issue of Raif Badawi during his first meeting with the new Saudi king. Saudi Arabia condemns attacks in Copenhagen and North Carolina The Saudi regime condemns the killing of Muslim-Americans in North ...

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New Texts Out Now: Toby Matthiesen, The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent, and Sectarianism

[Cover of Toby Matthiesen,

Toby Matthiesen, The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent, and Sectarianism. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Toby Matthiesen (TM): I became interested in the issue of sectarianism in Syria and Lebanon, where I studied Arabic and spent several summers. I wanted to understand the historical context of sect-formation and at what times these markers of identity became important in the political process. During my MA at the School of Oriental and African Studies, when I was looking for a dissertation topic, I started to read about the Shi‘a in the Gulf. There was hardly any literature at the time on the Shi‘a ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (January 20)

[Riyadh and Doha have asked the US administration to impose a no-fly zone over Syria. Image from Ronny Przysucha.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Jeremy Scahill on Paris Attacks, the al-Qaeda Link & the Secret U.S. War in Yemen Amy Goodman interviews Jeremy Scahill on al-Qa‘ida in Yemen and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo. Al-Qaida in Yemen uses video to claim responsibility for Charlie Hebdo attack Jason Burke and Monica Mark report ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (December 23)

[Remains of US-made teargas canister in Bahrain. Image from wikimedia.org]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations  Saudi and UAE oil ministers defend Opec response to falling prices The Emirati and Saudi oil ministers affirm that their countries are committed to maintaining current levels of oil production. Egypt's Sisi meets Qatari envoy, signaling possible détente A news report on the ...

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Between Ballots and Boycotts: Bahrain’s Political and Electoral Systems Assessed

[Political cartoon showing the regime celebrating its claimed election turnout figure of 52.6 percent. Image from www.bahrainwatch.org]

[The following is an overview of last week’s parliamentary elections in Bahrain that Ala’a Shehabi wrote for Bahrain Watch on 26 November 2014.]  On Saturday 22 November, Bahrain held parliamentary elections. Bahrain Watch looks at the significance of these elections in relation to the political system as a whole and evaluates the election using basic principles from the IDEA’s Book on International Electoral Standards. We find critical breaches of international electoral standards, in particular, the absence of the “one person one vote” principle, restrictions on independent oversight, and questionable inducements to vote. We also note that due to ...

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New Texts Out Now: Lina Khatib, Dina Matar, and Atef Alshaer, The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication

[Cover of Lina Khatib, Dina Matar, and Atef Alshaer,

Lina Khatib, Dina Matar, and Atef Alshaer, The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication. London: Hurst UK and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Lina Khatib, Dina Matar, and Atef Alshaer (LK/DM/AA): The idea for the book was born out of an intellectual as well as methodological interest in the relationship between politics and communication in non-Western contexts, and particularly in relation to Islamist movements and non-state actors. When we conceived the idea for the research on which this book is based, Hizbullah had just emerged from the 2006 war with Israel. The group and its media billed the war as a ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (November 4)

[Souad al-Shammary. Image from www.manartv.com.lb]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]   Regional and International Relations  Qatar and the UK stand together in the fight against terrorism The Qatari prime minister writes an article on the Qatari emir’s visit to the United Kingdom. Emir of Qatar aims to paint positive image of country on UK visit Ian Black reflects on the Qatari emir’s visit to ...

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هل يمكن إنقاذ العراق؟

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صارع صانعو السياسة والصحفيون والخبراء كي يفهموا احتلال تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام للموصل في العاشر من حزيران\يونيو ٢٠١٤، واندفاع المجموعة جنوباً نحو بغداد وانهيار الجيش العراقي أمام تقدمها. إن الطريقة التي فُهمتْ بها هذه الأزمة المتسارعة ستحدد استجابة القادة في العراق، والشرق الأوسط، وفي النظام الدولي. وهي لن تصوغ الرد العسكري الأولي على تنظيم الدولة فحسب، بل أيضاً، وبصورة أكثر أهمية، سياسات على المدى الطويل تهدف إلى معالجة الأسباب الكامنة لنشوء التنظيم واحتلاله لأراض في كلّ من العراق وسوريا. يتضمّنُ شَرْحٌ شائعٌ (ولو أنه مفاجئ) لنجاح تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية العسكري المدهش، العودةَ إلى اتفاقية   سايكس بيكو، وهي صفقة سرية رتبها الدبلوماسي البريطاني ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (April 7 )

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Why Saudi Arabia and Israel oppose Iran nuclear deal Al Jazeera speaks to four analysts about how the new nuclear agreement ...

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Twelve Years After Iraq Invasion: An Interview with Rijin Sahakian, and “ A Letter to Al-Mutanabbi Street” by Sinan Antoon

On 19 March 2015, twelve years will have passed since the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Today, the country is back in the headlines because of the brutality with which ISIS has been trying to destroy what is left of Iraq’s diverse cultural and human landscape. Since ISIS has moved into northern Iraq, they have displaced over a million people and gone after the cultural heritage that makes Iraq such an irreplaceable locus of world history. They have destroyed mosques, burned thousands of books in the ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (March 10)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Saudi king aims for new Sunni bloc vs Iran and Islamic State Angus McDowall and Amena Bakr examines King Salman’s efforts to ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (March 3)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.]  Regional and International Relations Report: Saudis might help Israel attack Iran in exchange for progress in peace process A news report on European ...

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Quick Thoughts: Paul Sedra on the IS Massacre of Egyptian Copts in Libya

Among the most important points to make about these horrific murders relates to context. I would argue this event cannot and should not be placed within the context of domestic Egyptian politics or of Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt. Without question, Egypt has a persistent problem with sectarianism and violence against Egypt’s Coptic community. But these latest sectarian murders represent an effort by the Islamic State (IS) movement to advance its transnational agenda rather than an Egyptian one. ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (January 27)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Saudis Expand Regional Power as Others Falter David Kirkpatrick examines Saudi Arabia’s regional politics. US charges ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (January 6)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Saudi Arabia to reopen Baghdad embassy after 25-year chill A Saudi delegation will travel to Baghdad to start ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (December 9)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations  Why is Saudi Arabia using oil as a weapon? Michael Stephens argues that Saudi Arabia’s decision to lower the ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (November 19)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Islamic State leader urges attacks in Saudi Arabia: speech Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calls for attacks on Saudi Arabia in his ...

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New Texts Out Now: Rula Jurdi Abisaab and Malek Abisaab, The Shi‘ites of Lebanon: Modernism, Communism, and Hizbullah’s Islamists

Rula Jurdi Abisaab and Malek Abisaab, The Shi‘ites of Lebanon: Modernism, Communism, and Hizbullah’s Islamists. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2014. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Rula Jurdi Abisaab and Malek Abisaab (RJA & MA): There were several reasons for writing the book. In the last two decades we had read several books on Shi`i Islamist movements, particularly Hizbullah, which presented secular ideologies and Communism simply as those forces and ideas that the Islamists ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (October 28)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International   UK police asked to investigate alleged Bahraini hacking of exiles’ computers Privacy International asks the National Cyber ...

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Press Release: Saudi Death Sentence against Shia Leader Is Politically Motivated

[The following press release was issued by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, an NGO in the Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, on 15 October 2014.] IHRC strongly condemns today's decision by a court in Saudi Arabia to impose the death penalty against shaykh Nimr al-Nimr. Shaykh al-Nimr is a leading Shia scholar who was arrested for his outspoken criticism of the Saudi monarchy and his calls for equality and reform on trumped up charges of ...

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