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New Texts Out Now: Alex Lubin and Marwan M. Kraidy, eds., American Studies Encounters the Middle East لاجئا DARS Media Roundup Announcing the 2016 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize Winners حول ملحمة جلجامش
Yemen's War [Ongoing Post]

Yemen's War [Ongoing Post]

[This is an ongoing post that will be updated regularly. It was first published on 6 December 2016. The updates appear at the bottom.] The conflict in Yemen seems set to intensify as 2016 draws to a close. The deposed president Abd ...

New Texts Out Now: Karine Walther, Sacred Interests: The United States and the Islamic World, 1821-1921

Karine Walther, Sacred Interests: The United States and the Islamic World, 1821-1921. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.   Jadliyya (J): What made you write this book? Karine Walther (KW): As my parents ...

[المصدر موقع زنوبيا رسالة وطن]

دورنا في صناعة الظلام

ربيع علم الدين بعد الانتخابات الرئاسية مباشرة امتلأ حسابي على التويتر بالتعبيرات عن الصدمة والشكاوى. بدا كما لو أن العبارة المفضلة للجميع هي:"نحن أفضل من هذا”. لكنني اعتبرت هـذا الكلام خاطئاً، وفهمتُ منطقه الملتوي، والصدمة والأذى ...

Between Slow and Sudden Death in Turkey

On 25 February 2017, the picture of a young male academic who committed suicide in Turkey went viral on the social media. The photo was hashtagged with #MehmetFatihTras and the line underneath the hashtag reads: “This is a murder. Try the ...


Poverty in the Oil Kingdom: An Introduction

[King Abdullah during a tour of the poor neighborhoods of Al Shmeisi area in Riyadh, 2002. Image from www.alaswaq.net]

When Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz went to see one of Riyadh’s many poor neighborhoods in November 2002, pundits and lay people alike heralded the landmark visit as the beginning of the end of poverty in Saudi Arabia. After all, it was the first-and only- such visit by a high-ranking member of the Saudi ruling family, let alone a Saudi Crown Prince who also happened to be one of the richest men in the world. At the time, the Crown Prince said he wanted to visualize what Saudi poverty looked like, for as he explained, “seeing is not the same as hearing.” For the first time in the country’s history, the Saudi public also saw, on national and satellite televisions, ...

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The Implications of the Latest Egyptian Delirium Regarding Hizballah

[Image from unknown archive]

    الهذيان المصري الأخير عن حزب الله ودلالاته   تثير الأخبار الأخيرة عن المناوشات التي تجري الآن بين مصر و «حزب الله» الكثير من التساؤلات عن دلالتها وعلاقتها بالسيناريوهات التي يجري إعدادها لمستقبل المنطقة. وتأتي هذه الأخبار كالعادة مقتضبة ومبهمة، تخفي أكثر مما تعلن. كما تحمل في طياتها الكثير من الهذيان المصري عن «حزب الله». وهذا بطبيعة الحال يصعب من قراءة دلالاتها، وإن كان لا يقلل من أهميتها. أتى آخر فصول هذا الهذيان في خبرين رئيسين يتناولان العلاقة بين مصر و«حزب الله» يتناقضان تماما مع بعضهما من حيث الشكل والمضمون، على الرغم من أن الفترة التي فرقت بينهم لم تزد عن ستة أيام. أتى الخبر الأول في صدر الصحف الرسمية المصرية يوم الثلاثاء ٢١ سبتمبر ...

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The Predicament of Independent Opposition (Part 3)

[Image from Syrian Government Press Office]

My emphasis in the original post on the predicament of independent opposition stands, but I felt compelled to say more about the context of the second wave of liberalization in Syria (L 1.2), which started in 2000/2001. This is a third in a 4-part series post (I promise I’ll stop at 4). In part 2 I discussed the official narrative regarding the accession to power of Bashar Asad in 2000. Below, I discuss the "other" narrative peddled by various independent observers (as an aside, see my fellow editor's post on Jadaliyya, regarding "succession in Egypt," happening now! . . . perhaps along similar paths in terms of father and son, though at one ...

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Make www.Jadaliyya.com your facebook profile/status for one day: Today, Wednesday

[image from Jadaliyya]

Dear Friends, As most of you know, we launched this Ezine last week and we have had a super warm welcome from all of you and from our increasing readership. But we are privately funded and need your help in spreading the word, provided you like what you see here by way of an alternative source of commentary on the region--and beyond. We are asking all our facebook friends to support us TODAY only (Wednesday, September 29) by using the Jadaliyya icon as their facebook profile and by adding www.jadaliyya.com as their facebook status update. Just for that one day--Today! It would be the best way you can support the proliferation of this site ...

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Committee of Independent Experts: Israel Investigation Bad, But Not Bad Enough

[Richard Goldstone, image from buzzaboutpolitics.com]

On Tuesday September 21st, the Human Rights Council released an advance version of its report on the Independent Expert Commission created to assess the adequacy of Israeli and Palestinian domestic investigations of alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead pursuant to the UN Fact-Finding Mission recommendations, also known as the Goldstone Report. Oddly, while the 28-paged report finds that the domestic investigations fail to meet international standards of justice, it makes no recommendations intended to treat that shortcoming. The Committee’s report therefore adds to a string of damning documentation regarding the lack of accountability in the ...

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Farewell Germany

[سارازين Image from unknown archive]

وداعاً المانيا في ساعات الصباح المبكرة وأنا في طريقي إلى العمل، حين يكون المترو البرليني مزدحماً، غالباً ما يستوقفني منظر أولئك الذين يجلسون على المقاعد ويغفون فوق زجاجة الجعة التي بين أيديهم. يبدو عليهم وكأنهم سيهوون أرضاً في أي لحظة من الثمالة. كل هذا وعقارب الساعة لم تصل التاسعة صباحاً بعد. لم يكن هؤلاء الألمان في بال المصرفي الألماني تيلو سارازين ( 65 عامًا)  عندما كان يتحدث عن الألمان كشعب يكد ويعمل بشكل دؤوب وتمكن من بناء أحد أقوى الإقتصادات في العالم بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية. لا تكمن المشكلة في التعميم بحد ذاته بقدر ما نجدها في السياق الذي وضع فيه، وهو مقارنة "الألمان" بفئة من االمهاجرين وابنائهم. والمقصود هنا المسلمون عامة والعرب والأتراك ...

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New Methods of Warfare Target Civilians--And it's Legal

[image from empirestrikesblack.com]

The laws of war, or humanitarian law, are dynamic and read like a rich treatise on lessons learned-always commentary on the regulations of war that should have existed in order to avoid grotesque brutality. Consider that the International Committee of the Red Cross is the progeny of Henri Dunant's reflections on the lack of care for combatants in the Battle of Solferino, which he captured in his Souvenir de Solferino. The Hague Conventions of 1906 and 1907 came on the heels of Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 while World War II inspired the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

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What's in a City? (Part 1)

Map of the city of Beirut

One night a few months ago, while spending some time in Beirut, I needed to get from the Sinn al-Fil neighborhood to that of Ras Beirut, and called a taxi to pick me up. After driving around for twenty minutes, it became clear that the cab driver had no idea how to get us out of the urban planning nightmare that is Sinn al-Fil. So we flagged down a family in a silver SUV to ask directions. “Brother, how do I get to Beirut?” the taxi driver asked. SUV driver stared at him. “We ARE in Beirut, man. Where do you think you are? Where do you need to go?” Taxi man: “No, I need to get to Ras Beirut, near the Military Club.”    SUV driver: “Habibi, Ras ...

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Is Lebanon Ready?

[Image from Maryam Monalisa Gharavi]

هل لبنان مستعد؟ قبل ثمانية وعشرين عاما، كان الذباب يحوم حول أجساد ممزقة، بعضها ببطون مبقورة، وبعضها الآخر تهاوى على الأرض في صفوف منتظمة. بعضها كان أشلاء، وبعضها الآخر كان متجمدا بيد ترتفع حاملة بطاقة هوية. بعضها كان يعود لرجال، ونساء، الكثير منها كان لأطفال. بعضها كان لحيوانات.      كانت أرض خراب، صورة ما يمكن للإنسان أن يرتكبه من هول، بيدين عاريتين، وفي مواجهة ضحيته وجها لوجه. الذين عاثوا ما عاثوا في مخيمي صبرا وشاتيلا يومي السادس عشر والسابع عشر من أيلول العام 1982، كانوا من البشر. تسنى لهم النظر إلى ضحاياهم في عيونهم. رأوهم في ثياب النوم، أخرجوهم من أسرّتهم، صفوهم على امتداد الجدران، قتلوا بعضهم بالرصاص، وقرروا التخلص من البعض الآخر ...

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The Predicament of Independent Opposition (Part 2)

[Image from Jadaliyya]

In part I, here, the three waves of political liberalization in Syria were listed, but only the first was discussed. The second wave, L 1.2, is discussed below. The purpose of these narratives is ultimately to discuss the predicament of independent opposition in Syria, i.e., the opposition (to the Syrian regime) that is anti-US foreign policy, anti-Islamists who have their bases and some allegiances abroad, and the one that opposes the creeping dominance of business interests in the country. Many of these individuals and groups are called out by the Syrian state as traitors of sorts, at the same time that their critical stances, actions, and writing vis-a-vis external ...

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Laugh! There is a Bomb in your Car

A Scene from the Show

Ramadan is a very special time of year for Muslims and it is impossible to overestimate its socio-cultural importance. Additional time and effort are invested in its daily rituals and practices. Familial and social bonds are augmented and celebrated. Traditional games used to be an important facet of the month’s celebratory and festive mood culminating in the feast marking the month’s end. While these games are still popular and are still played in many parts of the Islamicate world, they have been largely eclipsed by visual entertainment. Thus, Ramadan is the month to watch TV and follow the new shows and soap operas. It is the month with the highest rates of viewership ...

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Burn Baby Burn

[Image from unknown archive--Protest in Beirut]

I have been thinking a lot about electricity. A couple of nights ago, I spent 24 hours without it. At ten pm the lights went out, and they did not come back on until the next evening. With the lights went the air conditioner, the television, the refrigerator, the internet, the fan, my stove, and finally, my computer and my telephone. That night, I put a puzzle together by candlelight, opened all my windows, sat naked on my couch, and re-learned the value of a summer breeze. I slept on the marble floor of my bedroom.

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Mubarak's "Mubarak?" (Part 2)

[Note: This is the second in a series of posts titled "Mubarak's "Mubarak?.” Click here to view the first post in the series] I argued in my previous post that the transition to a Gamal presidency has been underway for almost a decade now. There are many reasons to believe that the president’s son has already established control over major decision-making bodies and is president in all but name. Passing on formal presidential powers to Gamal, therefore, will not require any major overhauls of ...

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An Archive of Perversion; 1966 and a Desire to Criminalize

On Friday I was at the library of the Lebanese Syndicate of Lawyers (Bayt al Muhaami), where I have conducted much of the archival research related to my dissertation. As I was researching decisions made by the Ministry of Justice's advisory body regarding religious conversion, I came across an advisory opinion issued by Hay'at al Tashri` wa'l-Istisharat in 1966 in response to an inquiry made by then Prime Minister Rashid Karami. The Hay'at al Tishree` Wa Al Istisharat is an extra-judicial body housed ...

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Still at Sea: A Review of "Hope"

Hope, directed by Steve Thomas. Australia, 2007. In one of his late poems, the Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus (1944-2007) wrote of “A million refugees clinging to his footsteps.” This was not poetic hyperbole. Boulus was haunted by a visceral tragedy. The invasion and occupation of Iraq back in 2003 and the sectarian civil war that followed displaced more than 4.5 million Iraqis and forced them to leave their homes. Around 2.5 million of them were internally displaced within Iraq. The rest were scattered in ...

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Salaam Salim: A Review of The Oath

The Oath, directed by Laura Poitras. USA, 2010. The Oath by filmmaker Laura Poitras weaves a documentary account of the lives of two Yemeni men to offer a fresh perspective on the “war on terror.” The man you have probably heard of, Salim Hamdan, is conspicuously absent because it was shot while he was locked away in the US naval base on the south side of Cuba. Like a ghost, Salim haunts the other man, the film’s main protagonist, his brother-in-law “Abu Jandal.” It was Abu Jandal, a charismatic ...

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The Pomegranate Alone (Excerpt)

She was lying nude on her back on a marble bench in an open place with no walls or ceilings. There was no one around and nothing in sight except the sand, which reached all the way to the horizon where clouds crowded the sky and took turns blocking the sun before rushing to disappear. I was nude, barefoot and dumbfounded by everything I saw around me. I could feel the sand under my feet and a cool wind. I moved slowly to the bench to make sure it was she. When and why did she come back after all these ...

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Mubarak's "Mubarak?" (Part 1)

With parliamentary elections only a few months away and a widely anticipated presidential election due next year, many observers have projected that change is coming to Egypt, possibly the kind of change that partisans of democracy can believe in. Looking at Egypt from the outside, there are many reasons to believe that a real transformation is in sight. After all, news reports from Egypt over the past few years have tended to focus on the deteriorating health of the 82-year-old president, street ...

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The Forgotten War

Selective amnesia is often deployed or manipulated to package history in a more simple and palatable narrative. The process involves major elisions to edit out any event(s) that might complicate the desired reductive and truncated narrative. One such major elision in the reigning Iraq narrative is that of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). That destructive war claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians and predetermined the lives of millions of others. It impacted the societies of both ...

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Waiting for History: A Meditation on the Trial of Omar Khadr

The Guantánamo military commission trial of Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr began on August 12. But at 4 p.m. on the first day, Khadr’s lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, collapsed in the courtroom from extreme pain related to a surgery he had earlier in the summer. Jackson and all the other trial participants and attendees—except Khadr, of course—were transported back to the mainland. Had the trial not been interrupted, by now the forty-some scheduled witnesses would have testified, the seven-member ...

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Kafala Politics and Domestic Labor in Saudi Arabia

As we prepare to land at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, I grudgingly wear my abaya and wrap the headscarf around my neck. A few Saudi men in jeans and t-shirts rush to the bathrooms and change into their long, white thobes. When we touch down, I call my wakil, a male agent who has to be physically present in lieu of my male guardian to “collect me.” The word in Arabic is yistilimni. I ask him to meet me at the immigration counter. A few meters outside the door of the plane is the VIP ...

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At The Beach With Nancy Ajram

A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting next to Nancy Ajram at a beach/restaurant in Batroun-a lazy town in the north of Lebanon. No, not the Nancy Ajram, star of the stage, Melody TV, and many a teenage boy’s fantasy. I was sitting next to an attempt at Nancy, an approximation of her or rather, a mold of her made of plasticized flesh. My friends and I had gone to a restaurant that is situated inside a hollowed out rock cove in the sea. There are caves lining the cove that you can swim into and explore. ...

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Can A Muslim Truly Be An American?

There are numerous ways to approach this question.  From a legal standpoint, many Muslims are American, having been born in the United States.  Many Muslim immigrants are in possession of a United States passport, an item that ideally would be the only criterion by which one is judged “American.” National identity is only partly informed by formal citizenship, however.  In the United States today, as throughout its history, citizenship is invested with crucial symbolic ...

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Egypt's Power-Cuts (Part 2)

In part one we saw how exceptional heat wrecked havoc on Egypt this summer, as it supposedly increased demand for electricity beyond the national generation capacity. This prompted the authorities to cut power off whole cities and neighborhoods for long durations everyday to bring demand down to a level within the network’s capacity. As we have seen, the social and economic cost of doing so have been plain huge. And as such, they signalled the state’s failure to all. But the reason why all of this ...

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