[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the fourth in a series of "Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews" in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise one-to-three parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
Arab Studies Quarterly (Volume 40, Issue 2)
Arabic Poetry and Terrorism: The Dictator Perishes and the Poet Remains
By: Waed Athamneh
Abstract: Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayati is one of the most prominent twentieth-century Arab poets. His poetry makes a drastic shift from politically committed in the 1950s and 1960s to metapoetic in the 1970s onward. In his post-Nasserist works, al-Bayati interrogates the role of poets and the function of their poetry. This article explores some of the main metapoetic themes in al-Bayati's poem “Meditations on the Other Face of Love,” which was published in 1979. The article argues that al-Bayati consciously uses reflexive poetry as a platform to blur the line between poetry and literary criticism and to declare his discontent with the literary scene and the political status quo in the Arab world. The article also examines some of the poetry by Nizar Qabbani and Muzaffar al-Nawab, in relation to that of al-Bayati. These three poets provide a poetic discussion of “terrorism” against the hegemony of political discourse, and demand that Arab citizens reject their undignified lives by adopting resistance and rejecting terrorism.
Tales of a Square: The Production and Transformation of Political Space in the Egyptian (Counter)Revolution
By: Wladimir Riphagen, Robbert A. F. L. Woltering
Abstract: This article looks into the meaning of Tahrir Square before, during, and after the 25 January revolution. We employ Lefebvre's conceptual triad of space to understand how space is not merely a physical form, but also the product of relations between natural and social objects in this space. To understand how these relations changed dramatically after 25 January, we will draw on Sewell's insight into how space is a constituent aspect of contentious politics. We discuss the way in which the political space of Tahrir Square went through distinct phases during and after the Egyptian revolution, from counter-space, to eventually a change in the conceived space of Tahrir Square, but not according to the principles of the newly created lived space during the eighteen days.
The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Exile and Counterpoint in Farah's Maps
By: Tayseer Abu Odeh
Abstract: Taking as its starting point Edward Said's appropriation of the concept of counterpoint, late style, and exile in Culture and Imperialism and On Late Style, this essay examines the thematic and literary implications of Nuruddin Farah's counterpoint and exile, as manifested in Maps. More concretely, building on Said's secular and humanist examination of counterpoint, late style, and exile as embodying a form of musical, aesthetic and sociopolitical criticism and resistance, this essay examines the way in which Nuruddin Farah addresses the aesthetic and home in Somalia as a counterpoint to the dictatorial masculine oppression of the regime from a contrapuntal and exilic perspective. The theme of postcolonial transnational feminism as a contrapuntal sign of resistance and late style is examined and interrogated in Farah's Maps in various ways. I investigate contrapuntally the way in which Somalian women, as portrayed in Farah's selected works, stand up to challenge the hegemonic patriarch and postcolonial regime in Somalia, as represented by the General Siad Barre and the oligarchy. Somalian female identity foregrounds itself in a pertinent and humanist way within a postcolonial feminist context.
The Changing Political Discourse of the Islamist Movement in Turkey
By: Burhan Ayka, Şenol Durgun
Abstract: This article deals with the Islamist movement and its ideology throughout the process of modernization and analyzes the political discourse of the Islamists about a world of consumption and the Islamic lifestyle. The article depicts the course of the Islamist political discourse from the beginning. The political discourse of the Islamists showed variations depending on the changing domestic and foreign conjunctions. Developed through a defensive understanding in the final period of the Ottoman State, the discourse of the Islamist movement underwent further changes in the following periods, which was influenced by the internal conditions of the country and developments outside. As the Islamist movement has always adapted to modern political life, political and intellectual changes in the modern period caused the Islamist discourse to change politically and acquire an appropriate language for the new situation.
The Arab Studies Journal (Volume 26, Issue 1)
The Nahda in Parliament: Taha Husayn’s Career Building Knowledge Production Institutions, 1922-1952
By: Hussam R. Ahmed
Abstract: Not available
“Jerusalem, We Have a Problem”: Larissa Sansour’s Sci-Fi Trilogy and the Impetus of Dystopic Imagination
By: Gil Z. Hochberg
Abstract: Not available
“A Fever for an Education”: Pedagogical Thought and Social Transformation in Beirut and Mount Lebanon
By: Susanna Ferguson
Abstract: Not available
Infrastructure Crises in Beirut and the Struggle to (Not) Reform the Lebanese State
By: Éric Verdeil
Abstract: Not available
If We All Leave, Who Will Cut the String: Exiled Intellectuals in Ghada al-Samman’s Thought
By: Louis Yako
Abstract: Not available
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 45, Issue 2)
Population crisis, marriage reform and the regulation of male sexuality in interwar Iran
By: Sivan Balslev
Abstract: Beginning in the early twentieth century, a discourse on population crisis emerged in the Iranian press. Iran, it was argued, suffered from a small and sickly population, and therefore was unable to fully exploit its natural riches and resources. One suggested solution to the problem was a reformation of the traditional model of marriage, making monogamous, age-appropriate marriage the new norm. This was to provide Iran with numerous robust future citizens, the result of healthy and suitable couples. The article presents the process in which fear of population decline led to a change in the perceptions of ‘proper’ male sexuality, of married life and of love in Iran. It shows how this process influenced gender relations and social relations, preserving women’s subjugation within companionate marriage and constructing men of social groups who practised polygamy and child marriage as corrupt and unpatriotic, unlike Western-educated elite men who adopted companionate marriage.
The Revolutionary Guards: from spoiler to accepter of the nuclear agreement
By: Farhad Rezaei, Somayeh Khodaei Moshirabad
Abstract: The objective of this study is to understand the shift in the nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). As a military organization considered to be the steward of the nuclear programme, the Revolutionary Guards turned into spoilers on the few occasions when the pragmatists in Iran tried to negotiate a deal with the international community. In a surprising shift, the Guards’ nuclear policy changed and supported nuclear negotiations and the nuclear agreement. It is assumed that the IRGC is more interested in its economic ventures than in promoting the nuclear project. To test the hypothesis, the present study is designed to provide a rigorous empirical examination of the economic impact of the sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards.
The failure of economic reform in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (1921–2015): the vicious circle of uncivic traditions, resource curse, and centralization
By: Nyaz Najmalddin Noori
Abstract: This study sheds light on the causes of failure of economic reform in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). It argues that the success of economic reform largely relies on the choices available for ruling authorities as well as their willingness to share power with the people and with each other. Since the birth of the Iraqi state and the KRI the interaction of uncivic traditions, rent seeking, and centralization has been the main cause hindering economic reforms that are desired to sustain development. To investigate, the study provides a comprehensive account of the failure of the region’s past and present economic policies and the sociopolitical structure that supported it.
The voice and loyalty of business in Kuwait: merchant politics in times of contention
By: Anastasia Nosova
Abstract: According to the classic rentier state theory literature, the political activity of Kuwaiti merchants effectively ceased after the government acquired oil rents. More recent works explain business alliances with the government through the competition for resources between the capitalist class and the population at large. This article argues that the merchants’ political position vis-à-vis the ruling powers has not been consistent and has shifted between ‘voice’ and ‘loyalty’. To explain the choice of political action by the Kuwaiti business community the article compares the merchants’ role in two major contentious events—the popular uprising of 2011 and the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Despite the similarities between them, in 1989 prominent business figures were in the vanguard of opposition, while after 2011 they chose to re-emerge as government allies. The comparison suggests that the shift from ‘voice’ to ‘loyalty’ can be explained by the changing political field. I contend that the rise of new social forces and new types of political opposition antagonized business and forced it to side with the government in order to pursue its vital rent-seeking interests.
Imagined or real: the intersection of tribalism and nationalism in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)
By: Norbert Ross, Ahmad Mohammadpur
Abstract: Not available
A tale of two cities and one telegram: The Ottoman military regime and the population of Greater Syria during WWI
By: Yuval Ben-Bassat, Dotan Halevy
Abstract: This article compares the evacuations of the two port cities of Gaza and Jaffa in southern and central Palestine, respectively, by their civilian population on the orders of Cemal Pasha, the Ottoman commander of the Syrian front, during the spring of 1917. While these evacuations are usually regarded as mutually exclusive events, they were in fact part of the same process. We claim that the general evacuation order for two of the main coastal cities of Palestine was driven by the exigency of war and military considerations, rather than by political motivations such as the desire to destroy Zionism or take revenge against the Arab population. This view does not negate the exceptionality of each case but rather aims to better contextualize them within the larger framework of civilian affairs in the region and the Empire at large during WWI. For this purpose we analyse a 17-page enciphered Ottoman telegram that sheds new light on the rationale and the execution of the evacuation of populations in Palestine and compare it to other controversial events in Greater Syria during the war.
Opposition visions for preserving Syria’s ethnic-sectarian mosaic
By: Rustum Mahmoud, Stephan Rosiny
Abstract: The excessive violence that has spread across virtually all of Syria since the 2011 uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Asad has so far prevented a serious debate about feasible solutions. Together with internal power struggles and the intervention of external actors, ideational factors and identity construction are playing a key role in shaping the dynamics of the Syrian conflict. Fear of exclusion in a future order dominated by radical Islamist forces is keeping the minority groups and some secularists close to the regime. However, there are also grounds for cautious optimism: as this paper shows, most actors from the moderate opposition acknowledge the need to take the minorities’ fears seriously and to provide them with guarantees of participation in a future political order, while stopping short of the option of a power-sharing arrangement between community representatives.
The Rastakhiz Party and Pahlavism: the beginnings of state anti-Westernism in Iran
By: Zhand Shakibi
Abstract: The historiography of Pahlavi Iran has been unduly influenced, in the words of Cyrus Schayegh, by ‘a methodological statist’ paradigm based on the assumption that the state, dominating society, strove to implement radical Westernization while society’s role was passive and reactive—and that society did not exercise substantial influence on Pahlavi policy-making, in particular during the period covered here, 1967–1979. Consequently, a large gap between state and society emerged and in 1979 the monarchy was overthrown. This article argues that this paradigm needs revision given its inadequate attention to the changes the shah made in the state’s discourses on Westernization and Iranian authenticity and national identity in response to a growing societal and intellectual backlash to Pahlavi Westernization. The Rastakhiz Party and its publications played the key role in this emerging Pahlavi anti-Westernism. The article shows that these changes were more substantial and impactful on the state’s discourses on national identity and the West than has been assumed by existing literature.
The Jerusalem chamber of commerce, industry, and agriculture, 1909–1910: an early attempt at inter-communal cooperation
By: Joseph B. Glass, Ruth Kark
Abstract: The founding of the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture in 1909 and its short term of activity represent a pioneering and unique attempt at inter-communal cooperation with the purpose of developing the local economy and improving the infrastructures that would support economic expansion and improve the conditions of the local population. The chamber of commerce brought together prominent Muslims, Christians and Jews, both local Ottoman and foreign, who engaged in commerce, industry and agriculture. This all was happening during a time of uncertainty, change and optimism following the Young Turk revolution and the restoration of the constitution in July 1908. The Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce fostered horizontal linkages across religion and ethnicity through Ottoman citizenship and the pursuit of modernist economic and social goals. The discussion details the founding and the activities of the Jerusalem chamber of commerce. Highlighted are the concerns of local businessmen and their plans for infrastructure development and their promotion of better economic regulations. The discussion draws upon eight issues of its bulletin and underscores the unique resources found in the short-lived publication and evaluates their reliability.
Discrimination against Jewish Women in Halacha (Jewish Law) and in Israel
By: Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Abstract: Democracy is supposed to allow individuals the opportunity to follow their conception of the good without coercion. Generally speaking, Israel gives precedence to Judaism over liberalism. This article argues that the reverse should be the case. In Section I it is explained what the Halachic grounds for discrimination against women are. Section II concerns the Israeli legal framework and the role of the family courts. Section III considers Israeli egalitarian legislation and groundbreaking Supreme Court precedents designed to promote gender equality. Section IV analyses inegalitarian manifestations of Orthodox Judaism in Israeli society today, especially discriminatory practices in matters of personal status. It is argued that Judaism needs to adopt gender equality because of Israel’s commitment to human rights. Israeli leaders should strive to close the unfortunate gap between the valuable aims and affirmations voiced in the 1948 Declaration of Independence and the reality of unequal political and social rights for women.
International Journal of Middle East Studies (Volume 50, Issues 1 & 2)
From Overt to Veiled Segregation: Israel’s Palestinian Arab Citizens in the Galilee
By: Gershon Shafir
Abstract: This article's geographical focus is the Galilee, Israel's only region with a Palestinian Arab majority. Its sociological focus is the drive to Judaize this region, the mirror image of its de-Arabization, which I anchor in Israelis’ morbid fear of settler colonial reversal. Although direct legal discrimination—restriction of movement under a military government and exclusion from publicly administered land—was banned by the government and the High Court of Justice respectively, new modes of discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens have replaced the older forms. I demonstrate how policies that limit Arab middle-class citizens’ upwardly mobile migration into the Judaized spaces of communal settlements (or overlooks) and towns endure. I compare gatekeeping exercised by national-level indirect legal discrimination operating through the admission committees of communal settlements with the institutional discrimination practiced by municipalities of emerging mixed towns against new Arab residents’ public presence. Finally, I highlight the linkages between instances of Judaization across the Green Line, which make the unwinding of segregation, in all of its forms, that much harder.
The Missing Turkish Revolution: Comparing Village-level Change and Continuity in Republican Turkey and Soviet Central Asia, 1920–50
By: Mustafa Tuna
Abstract: The Kemalist leadership of early Republican Turkey attempted to transform the country's Muslim populace with a heavy emphasis on secularism, scientific rationalism, and nationalism. Several studies have examined the effects of this effort, or the “Turkish Revolution,” at the central and more recently provincial levels. This article uses first-hand accounts and statistical data to carry the analysis to the village level. It argues that the Kemalist reforms failed to reach rural Turkey, where more than 80 percent of the population lived. A comparison with sedentary Soviet Central Asia's rural transformation in the same period reveals ideology and the availability of resources as the underlying causes of this failure. Informed by a Marxist–Leninist emphasis on the necessity of transforming the “substructure” for revolutionary change, the Soviet state undermined existing authority structures in Central Asia's villages to facilitate the introduction of communist ideals among their Muslim inhabitants. Turkey's Kemalist leadership, on the other hand, preserved existing authority structures in villages and attempted to change culture first. However, they lacked and could not create the resources to implement this change.
Jurists of War and Peace: Sıddık Sami Onar (1898–1972) and Ali Fuad Başgil (1893–1967) on Law and Prerogative in Turkey
By: Joakim Parslow
Abstract: The jurists who entered Turkish academia during the 1930s built the foundations of their discipline under a regime that became increasingly authoritarian as war drew closer. Like their peers in Italy and France, therefore, they had to produce coherent doctrines but also support the frequent use of exceptional emergency powers. How did they solve this contradiction? More importantly, what consequences did their solutions have for the use of emergency powers after the war? This article adopts a Deleuzian reading of two strategies with which Turkish jurists met that challenge, approaching their work not simply as theories about law but also as models for the role law should play in the articulation of public authority. Focusing on Ali Fuad Başgil and Sıddık Sami Onar, law professors at Istanbul University, I argue that although both professors supported the regime, only a situational doctrine of the kind Onar produced was capable of ensuring that jurists would have a place in the exercise of “exceptional” state powers after the 1950 transition to democracy.
Point of No Return? Prospects of Empire after the Ottoman Defeat in the Balkan Wars (1912–13)
By: Ramazan Hakkı Öztan
Abstract: In late 1912, the Ottoman imperial armies suffered a series of quick defeats at the hands of the Balkan League, comprising Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro, resulting in significant territorial losses. The Ottoman defeat in the Balkan Wars (1912–13) often stands at the center of teleological accounts of a neat and linear transition from Ottoman Empire to Turkish Republic. These teleological readings see the Ottoman defeat as a historical turning point when Ottoman elites turned nationalist, discovered Anatolia, and embraced the Turkish core. This article contends that such approaches frame late Ottoman history in anticipation of the later reality of nation-states, and overlook the messy and historically complex nature of the collapse of empire and the emergence of the nation-state. Although the defeat was certainly shocking for the Ottoman ruling elite, I argue that it initiated an era of debate rather than one of broad consensus. Similarly, the defeat neither marked the end of the Ottoman Empire nor heralded the coming of the Turkish Republic, but rather reinvigorated the Ottoman imperialist project.
Sayyid Qutb and the Crisis of Culture in Late 1940s Egypt
By: Giedre Sabaseviciute
Abstract: This article focuses on the writings and literary networks of the Egyptian intellectual and activist Sayyid Qutb during the late 1940s. Scholars have tended to explain Qutb's political radicalization and joining of the Muslim Brotherhood during the subsequent decade via aspects of his personality or personal life, such as his quick temper, conservatism, or frustration over unfulfilled aspirations to become a writer. Drawing on three periodicals published respectively by leftist, Islamist, and independent aspiring writers, I instead place Qutb's criticism of political, economic, and cultural elites in the context of an emerging generation of critical intellectuals. By shedding light on intellectual cooperation between Qutb, Muslim Brothers, Marxists, and independent writers, this article challenges established scholarly narratives that locate the Islamist project outside the Egyptian intellectual field.
Leavened Apprehensions: Bread Subsidies and Moral Economies in Hashemite Jordan
By: José Ciro Martínez
Abstract: This article analyzes the microprocesses that imbue bread with meaning and the macropolitics that shape its subsidized provision. It begins by outlining bread's multiple forms of value and significance, some easily quantifiable, others not. It problematizes the predominant approach to studying moral economies before putting forth an alternative framework. Drawing on eighteen months of fieldwork in Jordan, the following empirical sections examine the different ways in which bureaucrats, bakers, and ordinary citizens portray the government's universal subsidy of Arabic bread. I unpack the diverse opinions encountered in the field and discuss their links to the Hashemite regime's polyvalent legitimating discourse. The article then dissects the politics of provisions that contribute to the bread subsidy's paradoxical persistence. It concludes by considering the relationship between moral economies, opposition politics, and authoritarian power in the context of Jordan's ongoing food subsidy debate.
Labor-time: Ecological Bodies and Agricultural Labor in 19th- and early 20th-Century Egypt
By: Jennifer L. Derr
Abstract: Beginning in the second decade of the 19th century, Egyptian agriculture began a process of transformation from basin to perennial irrigation. This shift facilitated the practice of year-round agriculture and the cultivation of summer crops including cotton whose temporalities did not match that of the annual Nile flood. One facet of the perennially irrigated landscape was an increase in the prevalence of the parasitic diseases bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and hookworm, the symptoms of which came to constitute normative experiences of the body among those engaged in perennially irrigated agriculture. Male agricultural laborers, who most often performed the work of irrigation, were at the greatest risk of infection. This article considers the significance of agricultural labor in the continuous making and maintenance of perennially irrigated agriculture and the role of parasitic disease in producing temporal experiences of this labor.
The Original Arabs: The Invention of the “Bedouin Race” in Ottoman Palestine
By: Seraj Assi
Abstract: This article examines the symbiotic relationship between race and empire in British ethnographic discourse on the Arabs of Palestine. Drawing on the works of British explorers in late Ottoman Palestine, I show how native Palestinian Bedouin came to be viewed as a separate race within a hierarchy of Arab races, and how within this racial reconfiguration the Bedouin embodied not only an ideal model of racial purity, but also a racial archetype on which Arabness itself was measured, codified, and reproduced.
Encompassing Judaism: Elmessiri and the “Islamic Humanist” self
By: Robbert A.F.L. Woltering
Abstract: Despite the weight of his work and his prominence in Arabic public debate, the Egyptian public intellectual ʿAbd al-Wahhab Elmessiri (1938–2008) has not been the subject of much serious study. In this article, I show that Elmessiri's oeuvre offers a rich and creative perspective on both Judaism and Zionism. Studying Elmessiri from the perspective of identity/alterity studies, I argue that his representation of Judaism qualifies as what Gerd Baumann and André Gingrich call “encompassment by hierarchical subsumption.” The article offers an analysis of the discursive logic behind this image of Judaism and its connection to Elmessiri's anti-Zionist agenda, rejection of anti-Semitism, and critique of Western modernity.
Cinematic Governmentality: Cinema and Education in Modern Iran, 1900s–1930s
By: Golbarg Rekabtalaei
Abstract: Much of the scholarship on the history of Iranian cinema considers film spectatorship in the first three decades of the 20th century as a leisure practice with origins in royalist and elitist entertainment forms. However, a close reading of archival material from this era reveals that cinema's significance extended well beyond its role as a pastime, as it became engaged in the governance of the self and disciplinary strategies of the state in Iran's experience of modernity in the early 20th century. In this article, I reperiodize the history of cinema in Iran by demonstrating the entanglement of cinema in popular nationalist discourses on education prior to cinema's institutionalization in the 1930s. Drawing on newspaper articles, film announcements, official documents, and poems, I show how, despite the absence of a centralized cinema institution in the 1910s and early 1920s, cosmopolitan citizens in dialogue with global trends promoted cinema as a means for the governance of selfhood and moral edification in the service of national progress. With the appropriation of cinema by the Pahlavi state in the 1930s, cinema was used as a technique of governmentality that aimed to conduct the conduct of individuals and shape an Iranian civic society.
The Party of God: The Association of Algerian Muslim ʿUlamaʾ in Contention with the Nationalist Movement after World War II
By: Shoko Watanabe
Abstract: Scholarship has long held that Islamic reform was a preparatory stage for nationalism in the Muslim world. In challenge to this view, this article shows how in the context of 20th-century Algeria Islamic reformers and nationalists continued to maintain distinct political ideas, visions, and projects. The article examines the internal framework of the Association of Algerian Muslim ʿUlamaʾ, an Islamic reform movement founded in 1931 when Algeria was under French colonial rule, and its interactions with other local movements, especially the Algerian nationalist movement. Through a comparison of the discourse of the Algerian ʿulamaʾ to that of the nationalists, it argues that while both groups claimed to be successors of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, their understanding of politics (siyāsa) was different. Whereas the ʿulamaʾ associated politics with their own spiritual leadership, the nationalists associated it with institutions. The study situates these distinct visions within the post–World War II historical context, in which the expanding nationalist movement undermined the ʿulamaʾ’s popular appeal.
Miniskirts and “Beatniks”: Gender Roles, National Development, and Morals in 1960s Tunisia
By: Amy Aisen Kallander
Abstract: In the decade following independence, the Tunisian state embraced secular feminism as part of the single-party monopoly on political life and economic development. Yet its celebration of new family laws as an aspect of modernization was marred by anxieties about the sexual and moral implications of modern womanhood. Tracing references to the miniskirt in presidential speeches and the women's press, I demonstrate how efforts to delineate the boundaries of proper appearance gave tangible form to the amorphous question of morality. Parallel concerns about long-haired youth further indicated the bourgeois basis of the modernizing visual aesthetic as it restrained young men. Through fashion, urban educated women utilized the press to negotiate the limits of the more politically sensitive topic of state feminism. Middle-class debates about dress reveal that nationalist secular feminists who benefitted from the state's definition of women's rights questioned hegemonic conceptions of womanhood and articulated alternate versions of masculinity.
International Politics (Volume 55, Issue 2)
Iraq: a liberal war after all: a critique of Dan Deudney and John Ikenberry
By: Patrick Porter
Abstract: As the fifteenth anniversary of the Iraq war approaches, a debate has arisen over the war’s intellectual origins. G. John Ikenberry and Dan Deudney argue that it was predominantly a realist war, not a liberal one. I demonstrate, however, that both liberals and liberalism were deeply implicated in the decision to strike Iraq, and the wider public case for doing so. Liberal ideas were not a retrospective face-saving fiction after the invaders discovered Saddam had no WMD arsenal. Rather, ambitious objectives for regional transformation were central to the drive for war from the beginning. Liberalism married with the capabilities of a superpower gives America a proclivity for reckless military adventures. So long as liberalism, untempered by prudential balance-of-power realism, remains a central engine of American grand strategy, the USA will be prone to further such tragedies.
Iranian Studies (Volume 51, Issue 3)
From Ancient India to Medieval Shiraz: The Journey of the Ascetic Cat
By: Saghi Gazerani
Abstract: The figure of the ascetic cat, one known for his pretense to piety, appears throughout the medieval Persian literature. This study examines the movement of this literary motif along the Silk Road where Buddhism and Manichaeism facilitated its transmission into the nascent Islamic civilization. The study traces the possible paths of their journey by examining both the literary transmission of two anecdotes of the ascetic cat from India to Shiraz, as well as by considering the historical context for such transmission.
The Apocalypse of Ecstasy: The Poetry of Shah Ismāʿīl Revisited
By: Amelia Gallagher
Abstract: This article explores the poetry of Shah Ismāʿīl Safavī (d. 1524), the founder of the Safavid dynasty of Iran. Established as an important historical source by Vladimir Minorsky during World War II, the issues surrounding the poetic corpus of Shah Ismāʿīl have continued to attract the attention of historians of the Safavids. With examples from the earliest and most authentic manuscript, the idea of viewing this body of works as literary sources versus political propaganda is discussed in this article.
The Topkapı Manuscript of the Jāmiʿ al-Tawārikh (Hazine 1654) from Rashidiya to the Ottoman Court: A Preliminary Analysis
By: Mohamad Reza Ghiasian
Abstract: The famous Persian version of the Jāmiʿ al-Tawārikh (Hazine 1654) has never been studied with the care it deserves. Since its transcription was completed a year before Rashid al-Din’s execution, it remained unfinished while approximately seven illustrations were inserted into it, and the locations of other illustrations were left blank. Careful examination of the manuscript reveals that almost all of the empty spaces left for narrative illustrations were painted during the last decades of the fourteenth century. Having decided to improve the quality of the manuscript, the kitābkhāna of Shāhrukh, in the fifteenth century, completed the missing passages of text and restored or overpainted some of its illustrations. The dedicatory inscription of Farhād Khān Qarāmānlu indicates that the manuscript was refurbished again in the Safavid period. The last artistic additions to the manuscript were overpainting an illustration and insertion of two illuminated friezes in the Ottoman Istanbul. This paper, which is a result of close examination of the original manuscript, explains the complicated life history of the book.
A Guarded Courtship: Soviet Cultural Diplomacy in Iran from the Late 1940s to the 1960s
By: Nodar Mossaki, Lana Ravandi-Fadai
Abstract: By bringing to bear previously unstudied Soviet archival documents and conducting firsthand interviews with former diplomats, the article traces the ways in which the Soviet Union sought out opportunities to reinvigorate deteriorated Soviet‒Iranian ties through cultural organizations and events in Iran during the decades following World War II. A variety of Soviet cultural representatives—from wrestlers to classical musicians to scholars of Iranian literature—were marshaled for this effort, which bore unexpected fruit considering the modest expectations of the Soviet leadership, ideological differences between the two countries, and increasingly dominant US cultural projection. The connections between cultural ties and state goals, Iranian perceptions of Russia, and the Soviet/Russian sympathies of some members of the shah’s government are among sub-themes examined.
The Village in Contemporary Persian Poetry
By: Fatemeh Shams
Abstract: This paper explores the ever-shifting symbiosis between the village motif, social justice and populist politics in Iran over the past three decades. The village has remained a recurring motif in Persian literature, employed by a variety of writers and state institutions for a range of means. As a symbol, it has been a conduit into which any ideology can be poured; the village allegory can be manipulated to both condemn and support the official policies of the state. A comparison of Iran’s pre- and post-revolutionary literature sheds light on the ways the state literati perpetuated an idealized picture of the village as an authentic, sacred space, increasingly associated with religious nationalism during the 1980s. The paper examines the key socio-political influences on the evolution of the pastoral motif, the work of state-sponsored official poets, and the impact of the village on the cultural doctrine of the Islamic Republic.
Framed Memories: The Politics of Recollection in Mana Neyestani’s An Iranian Metamorphosis
By: Amir Khadem
Abstract: This essay examines the graphic memoir An Iranian Metamorphosis, by the acclaimed cartoonist Mana Neyestani, in the context of Iranian diaspora literature, particularly the genre of comics. Neyestani’s book is analyzed for its engagement with the politics of exile literature, and its attempt at challenging a two-dimensional view of the political discourse, in which the ethical boundaries of pro- and anti-government are overtly simple. The essay focuses on the book’s narrative techniques that exhibit a complex awareness of what is anticipated from a representative work of Iranian exile memoir, and the way it negotiates its own narrative politics. To clarify the arguments, several comparative examples are drawn from two well-known graphic narratives by Iranian diaspora authors, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Amir and Khalil’s Zahra’s Paradise.
Israel Studies (Volume 23, Issue 1)
“A Great Episode in the History of Jewish Womanhood”: Golda Meir, the Women Workers' Council, Pioneer Women, and the Struggle for Gender Equality
By: Pnina Lahav
Abstract: The establishment of the American Pioneer Women Organization revealed two patterns typical of the Labor Movement in the Yishuv: women's struggle to break the patriarchal chains that kept them subordinated to men and the centrality of American funding for the socialist project of Zionist nation building. In Palestine, the Women Worker's Council (Council) (Moetzet Hapoalot), while founded at the same time as the Histadrut (Federation of Labor), encountered considerable obstacles in its quest to implement gender equality. The founding mothers of the Council were convinced that consciousness raising, as well as meeting the special needs of the woman worker, necessitated a special gender-based organization. The founding fathers of socialist Zionism were not responsive. They believed that formal equality would resolve the gender problem. Thus, funds required by the Council to pursue the various projects aimed at training women workers and building their self-confidence as they joined the labor market, were largely denied by the patriarchal leadership. Council members had no choice but to turn to fundraising in the US and the Pioneer Women Organization was born. Golda Meir (then Myerson) was not a passionate supporter of a separate organization for women. She was indeed a member of the Council's secretariat in the late 1920s but it appears that by and large she shared the world view of the Histadrut male leadership. The article begins by contrasting Golda Meir with Rachel Yanait Ben-Zvi, a Council founder, and then tracks Golda's transformation, following her mission to the US as an emissary of Pioneer Women. Through an analysis of Golda's article published in the newspaper Davar it analyzes the process by which she came to recognize the just claims of the women's movement and the wisdom inherent in its policy. However, while converting, Golda did not become a feminist activist. The article reviews the reasons why Golda chose to remain loyal to the patriarchy, a choice that facilitated her rise to power in the Yishuv and then in Israeli politics. The article is based on a chapter of a forthcoming biography of Golda Meir, Through the Gender Lens.
Golda Meir and Bruno Kreisky – A Political and Personal Duel
By: Kathrin Bachleitner
Abstract: This article describes the political and personal duel between Golda Meir and Bruno Kreisky. In 1973, the two Socialist statesmen of Jewish origin clashed over the issue of Palestinian terrorism directed against Jewish transit via Vienna, triggering an almost decade-long bilateral crisis between Israel and Austria. For the purpose of better understanding the roots of their animosities, this paper traces and compares the biographies and mind-sets of the two heads of state, arguing that it was the Inner-Jewish divide between Zionist and Diaspora Jews that led to bitter personal and political conflict between Golda Meir and Bruno Kreisky.
Golda Meir's Leadership in the Yom Kippur War
By: Hagai Tsoref
Abstract: In the first half of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Golda Meir and her colleagues demonstrated consistent leadership based on determination to provide the IDF with the necessary time, weapons and ammunition, and backing for operations to rescue Israel from the predicament in which it found itself during the first hours of the war, and to place it in a better position militarily in the negotiations expected after the war ended. She did not despair and give up even when it seemed that her efforts would come to nothing, when it seemed that the Security Council was about to declare a premature cease-fire, and when the American administration dragged its feet and refrained from sending arms shipments during the first week of the war. The policy of the Israeli political leadership largely achieved the goals at which it aimed – the IDF received the resources and the backing it needed, and succeeded in significantly changing the face of the campaign in Israel's favor.
Golda Meir – A Forty Year Perspective
By: Meron Medzini
Abstract: Not available
Bi-Nationalism versus Nationalism: The Case of Judah Magnes
By: Hedva Ben-Israel
Abstract: Judah Leib Magnes was founder, chancellor, and president of the Hebrew University from when it officially opened in 1925 until his death in 1948. He became the symbolic embodiment of the idea of bi-nationalism for Palestine. He was a pacifist, hated violence above all, preached his moral and political lessons at the university and everywhere else, and often raised severe and hostile antagonism against himself among the leadership and public of the Jewish community in Palestine and abroad. This study will briefly present his vision and his positions, the development of his political beliefs and activities, against the background of the Hebrew University which he headed for the entire period. This study is partly based on research done for a wider subject, “Politics on Mount Scopus” published in the History of the Hebrew University.
“A Compass to Our Culture”: A History of Haentsiklopedia Haivrit, 1944–1980
By: Dan Tsahor
Abstract: HaEntsiklopedia HaIvrit was the largest modern literary project in the Hebrew language in terms of its circulation and the financial and the intellectual investments that it required. The initiators of this monumental project sought to buttress the emerging national identity by disseminating certain types of knowledge among all members of Israeli society. This article follows the forty-year history of the encyclopedia and observes the reasons for changes in epistemology, purpose, and marketing. I find that the project, which gained commercial success and critical acclaim in its first decade, gradually became a financial failure in later years. In its last years, the encyclopedia lost its luster as a national emblem, with much of the knowledge having been “imported” from foreign sources.
The Mizrahi Body in War Literature
By: Batya Shimony
Abstract: The article examines the literary representation of the Mizrahi soldier in the wars during Israel's first decade, a subject that is almost entirely absent from literary and scholarly discourse about that period. The texts discussed were written during the 1950s and 1960s by hegemonic writers and present “Orientalized” soldiers who fought in the war. The Mizrahi soldier has a dual status: he participates in the battle for the country's borders while simultaneously presenting a threat to its social and cultural image. These issues are examined by exposing the orientalist gaze on the ambivalent representation of the Mizrahi body, which shifts between the figure of the legendary warrior and the animalistic lump of flesh.
Impartiality as a Lack of Interest: Israel, Brazil, the Jewish Diaspora, and the Question of Jerusalem
By: Jonathan Grossman
Abstract: Persuading foreign countries to move their diplomatic missions from Tel-Aviv to West Jerusalem was a paramount diplomatic objective of Israel in the 1960s, as such an act implied recognition of the city as Israel's legitimate capital. Based on diplomatic documents from Israeli and Brazilian archives, this article portrays Israel's attempts to convince Brazil, the world's largest Latin American and Catholic country, to consent to such a transfer, and analyzes the reasons for the failure of Israel's secret pressure campaign, which was known as the “Jerusalem Plan” and supported by prominent and influential Brazilian individuals of Jewish origin. In spite of obtaining the Brazilian president's authorization of the transfer, the plan was eventually derailed by the Brazilian foreign ministry for standing in contrast to Brazil's traditional position of equidistance toward the Arab-Israeli conflict while failing to serve in any substantial way the Brazilian national interest of social and economic development.
Constructions of Christian Identity and the Idea of the Holy Land: A Reciprocal Relationship
By: Emma O'Donnell Polyakov
Abstract: A dense network of interrelatedness exists between the formation of identities and concepts of sacred place in Jerusalem. The article explores this dynamic through examining the link between Christian constructions of identity and the idea of the Holy Land. It argues that the Holy Land is a concept developed uniquely in each context, and intertwined with the negotiation of religious and cultural identity. This theoretical framework is contextualized in the second half of the article, which draws on recent field-work within a number of the diverse Christian communities in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The subjects of the ethnographic component of the study reflect upon their own understandings of their religious and cultural identities, and concepts of the holiness of the land, expressing a reciprocal relationship between constructions of identity and the idea of the Holy Land, in which each informs the other.
Journal of Middle East Women's Studies (Volume 14, Issue 1)
“It Used to Be Forbidden”: Kurdish Women and the Limits of Gaining Voice
By: Marlene Schäfers
Abstract: Women’s rights and human rights projects in Turkey and elsewhere routinely construe and celebrate subaltern voice as an index of individual and collective empowerment. Through an ethnographic study of Kurdish women singers’ (dengbêjs) efforts to engage in their storytelling art in Turkey, this article questions the equation between “raising one’s voice” and having agency. It investigates two concrete instances in 2012, in Istanbul and Van, where Kurdish women publicly raised their voices. It shows that public audibility does not necessarily translate into agency, because these spaces, like most, discipline voices ideologically and sonically. Audibility is not a neutral achievement but an ideologically structured terrain that shapes voices and regulates whether and how they are heard and recognized. Voices routinely have ambiguous and even contradictory effects once they become audible in public. It is not simply a matter of “having voice” or “being silenced.”
Cruising Baghdad: Desire between Men in the 1930s Fiction of Dhu al-Nun Ayyub
By: Pelle Valentin Olsen
Abstract: This article uses a queer lens to examine two short stories by the Iraqi communist, teacher, and prose writer Dhu al-Nun Ayyub (1908–88), “The Eagles’ Anthem” and “How I Found a Guy,” published in his collection Sadiqi (1938). Scholars have avoided analysis of the homoerotic and heterotopic aspects of Ayyub’s writings, even if they mention his depictions of physical attraction between men. Rather than read these fictional texts as sociological studies of sexual sensibilities, the article assumes that they tapped into and reflected psychological and social dynamics in interwar Baghdad. The Ayyub stories, which render homoerotic masculine sexualities as commonplace and a positive aspect of city spaces, are thus distinguished from most Iraqi writings during this period. The stories stage homoeroticism and love between men as democratic critique and affirmation of heterogeneity and vitality in a nationalist, militarist, and heteronormalizing setting that increasingly associated homosexuality with moral dissolution and backwardness.
Aspirational Maternalism and the “Reconstitution” of Single Mothers in Morocco
By: Jessica Marie Newman
Abstract: This article interrogates how employees at single-mother associations in Morocco construct the mère célibataire (single mother) as an archetypal, aspirational figure. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork (2013–15), this article traces how counselors work with single mothers to imagine alternative maternal futures. I argue that by invoking a counternarrative I call “aspirational maternalism,” single-mother advocates disrupt traditional maternalist rhetoric that excludes single women. Aspirational maternalism draws on moral discourses and neoliberal values of independence and responsibility. Through its deployment, counselors create affective space for single mothers to think beyond pathologizing portrayals of single motherhood in Morocco. Counselors also disrupt the neoliberal focus on calculated, self-interested action by centering “the mother-child couple” within aspirational maternalism. The ideal-typical Mère Célibataire is capable of achieving the transformation from victim to self-sovereign mother. And yet, aspirational maternalism elides the significant structural obstacles to independence that single mothers face.
Thinking the Mediterranean with Lalla Maryama
By: Susan Slyomovics
Abstract: Not available
Speculation; or, Living in the Face of the Intolerable
By: Ranjana Khanna
Abstract: Not available
Thinking Women, Feminism, and Muslim Identity through Bodies and Space in Turkey
By: Banu Gökarıksel
Abstract: Not available
Islamic Feminism between Islam and Islamophobia
By: Hina Azam
Abstract: Not available
miriam cooke: A Pioneer of Middle East Women’s Studies
By: Suad Joseph
Abstract: Not available
Journal of Palestine Studies (Volume 47, Issue 2)
Reframing Public Health in Wartime: From the Biomedical Model to the “Wounds Inside”
By: Rita Giacaman
Abstract: This article traces the research trajectory of the Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) at Birzeit University, whose work focuses on life and health outcomes for Palestinians living in chronic warlike conditions under Israeli settler-colonial rule. Over decades of field-based work, ICPH researchers came to the realization that medicalized responses to trauma contributed to concealing the social and political meaning that Palestinians attribute to their collective experience. By adopting an approach that linked the biological/ biomedical sphere to the political sphere through the concept of suffering, and exposing the sociopolitical conditions of life and the collective trauma inducing nature of Israeli military occupation and repression, ICPH’s research has allowed for the simultaneous personalization of war and politicization of health. In addition to discussing some of the health problems identified by ongoing investigations, the article also touches on the ways in which institution building and research production are linked to the capacity of Palestinians to endure and resist violation in their struggle for justice.
Toxic Occupation: Leveraging the Basel Convention in Palestine
By: Selma Abdel-Qader, Tanya Lee Roberts-Davis
Abstract: Reports by UN-affiliated institutions, human rights organizations, academic researchers, and individual community members, as well as Palestine’s Environment Quality Authority (EQA), point to the continuing transfer to the West Bank of hazardous wastes from inside Israel, and by illegal Israeli settlement industries operating in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Such transfers occur in contravention of the Geneva Conventions and of binding multilateral environmental agreements such as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, to which both Israel and Palestine are party. This article argues that despite inherent limitations, there are opportunities for leveraging the Basel Convention to hold accountable perpetrators, given the severe environmental, health, and human rights consequences of the uncontrolled movement and disposal of waste on the Palestinian population in the oPt. To date, such opportunities have remained largely unexplored both in academia and by broader sectors of civil society.
Locating Palestine’s Summer Residence: Mandate Tourism and National Identity
By: Andrea L. Stanton
Abstract: The carving up of the Ottoman Levant into British and French Mandates after World War I introduced new realities for the inhabitants of the region. This article uses Lebanese tourism and the promotion of Lebanon as a tourist destination to Palestinians of all religious backgrounds as a case study to investigate the challenges and potentials of the new Mandate structures. Using Palestinian government archives and newspapers, it examines how Lebanon was marketed to Palestinian vacationers. It concludes by suggesting that tourism, with its mixture of private and government sector interests, serves as a key node for observing the messy process of relational identities when two sets of neighbors worked to reframe themselves in national terms.
Mediterranean Politics (Volume 23, Issue 1)
Framing and reframing the EU’s engagement with the Mediterranean: Examining the security-stability nexus before and after the Arab uprisings
By: Roberto Roccu, Benedetta Voltolini
Abstract: EU policies towards the Southern Mediterranean after the Arab uprisings are predominantly seen in the literature as marked by continuity with the past. This is attributed to the fact that the EU still acts with the aim of maximising its security by preserving stability in the region. By examining a range of policy areas, this special issue aims to assess and qualify this claim. Its introduction outlines our case on both empirical and analytical grounds. Empirically, it is argued that we need to offer a more detailed analysis of each specific policy area to assess the extent of continuity and change. Analytically, this introduction proposes a framework that focuses on processes of frame definition and frame enactment to explain change and continuity in the EU’s approach. More specifically, security, stability and the link between them – the security–stability nexus – are considered as the master frame shaping the EU’s approach towards the Southern Mediterranean. This is enacted along two dimensions: the modalities of EU engagement with Southern Mediterranean partners; and the range of actors engaged.
From Neglect to Selective Engagement: The EU Approach to Rural Development in the Arab Mediterranean after the Arab Uprisings
By: Christos Kourtelis
Abstract: After the Arab uprisings, the EU designed a new regional programme for the development of the agricultural sector of the European Neighbourhood Policy partners. The European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD) is based on an integrated logic for rural development. This new conceptual framework advocates multi-sectoral planning and the active participation of local actors in the decision-making process in order to promote inclusive growth and to support small and medium enterprises. This approach aims to contribute to the security and stability of the rural areas of the Arab Mediterranean partners. This paper analyses ENPARD and it argues that the inclusion of new actors in the design of the programme has partially challenged established views of policy-makers within the EU. However, EU engagement in this area is still determined by a hierarchical mode that puts local actors at the bottom of the decision-making process and it is driven by a technocratic ratchet mechanism that fits new information into existing cognitive frames. Despite some positive changes in national policies, the paper claims that this type of technocratic engineering does not change social relations in rural areas and it undermines the success of the programme.
Banking on ordoliberalism? Security, stability and profits in EU’s economic reform promotion in Egypt
By: Roberto Roccu
Abstract: The framing of EU-promoted economic reforms in Egypt has been heavily influenced by ordoliberal ideas and practices, which have in turn affected how the EU interprets security and stability in the economy. This is especially visible in the EU promotion of banking sector regulations. Despite the change in approach heralded in the post-uprisings EU documents, this paper finds that what we see is only a minor reframing of the ordoliberal template, which aims at becoming more inclusive especially drawing in small and medium enterprises. However, in the light of fast changing circumstances, this supposedly new approach has not achieved its stated aims, but indeed something close to its opposite, that is: less engagement with a narrower range of actors.
EU democracy promotion and the dominance of the security–stability nexus
By: Assem Dandashly
Abstract: The article analyses the EU’s approach for democracy promotion in Tunisia and Egypt in the wake of the Arab uprisings. Contrary to arguments that focus either on the EU institutions and member states or on the domestic policies of the targeted countries and see the post-2010 EU democracy promotion strategies as a continuation of previous programs, the article follows a more eclectic approach. By considering changes both at the EU and the international level, it argues that the EU appears as a pragmatic yet more flexible and reactive international actor. After 2010, the EU frames for democracy promotion have changed and are differentiated in the two MENA countries. Crucial to this cognitive change is the EU Global Strategy (EUGS) and the role that domestic elites have played in the two case studies.
The EU and Islamist parties in Tunisia and Egypt after the Arab uprisings: A story of selective engagement
By: Benedetta Voltolini, Silvia Colombo
Abstract: This article argues that the new EU’s selective engagement with Islamist parties in its Southern neighbourhood following the Arab uprisings is the result of a partial shift in the EU’s frame used to understand political Islam, combined with a form of pragmatism that puts a premium on finding interlocutors in the region. Using the case studies of Tunisia and Egypt, it shows that the EU has replaced its previous monolithic conception of political Islam with an understanding that is more sensitive to differences among Islamists. This opens the door to some forms of engagement with those actors that renounce violence and demonstrate their commitment to work within the confines of democratic rules, while violent strands of political Islam and conservative groups remain at arm’s length.
Counterterrorism and democracy: EU policy in the Middle East and North Africa after the uprisings
By: Vincent Durac
Abstract: This paper explores European Union (EU) counterterrorism (CT) policy in relation to the Southern Mediterranean in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings. A number of themes may be observed in the recent literature on Euro-Mediterranean relations. Firstly, the rhetoric of the EU repeatedly lays stress on its commitment to democracy and human rights. However, secondly, and equally repeatedly, the actions (or inaction) of the Union in its dealings with Southern Mediterranean regimes demonstrate that when the perceived security interests of the EU or its member states are threatened by its normative commitments, concern for the latter is readily sacrificed. Thus, while the formal responses of the EU to the Arab Uprisings have, once more, invoked its concern to promote economic development and build democracy, critics have focused on their incoherence as reflecting an underlying concern to restore the pre-2011 ‘stability’ that characterized the region. This framing of the core interests and priorities of the Union carries through to its CT policy and practices with respect to the Southern Mediterranean, and determines the nature of its engagement with key actors in the region in ways that carry the potential for counter-productive outcomes.
Thinking energy outside the frame? Reframing and misframing in Euro-Mediterranean energy relations
By: Anna Herranz-Surrallés
Abstract: The EU’s initial reaction to the Arab uprisings in the field of energy cooperation was yet another proposal for creating an integrated Euro-Mediterranean energy market, despite the moot success of previous efforts. This paper investigates the policy frame underpinning the EU’s persistent focus on market-regulatory harmonization since the late 1990s and enquires into whether it has experienced any change in the post-uprising context. While the paper finds an enduring dominance of the market-liberal frame, it also identifies signs of its erosion through processes of reframing and misframing, affecting also the EU’s practical engagement with the region.
Changing the path? EU migration governance after the ‘Arab spring’
By: Andrew Geddes, Leila Hadj-Abdou
Abstract: This article shows how understandings amongst policy élites of a ‘new normal’ form the basis for current and future EU action on migration in the Mediterranean region. This new normality centres on the understanding that Europe faces significant migratory pressures at its Mediterranean borders. By opening the ‘black box’ of European and EU migration governance, the article seeks to provide fresh insight into how framing and frame enactment shape policy responses. Rather than detailing the ‘outputs’ or ‘outcomes’ of European migration governance systems – such as laws and policy approaches – this paper adopts a different approach by exploring the underlying perceptions and understandings of migration held by actors within migration governance systems.
EU religious engagement in the Southern Mediterranean: Much ado about nothing?
By: Sarah Wolff
Abstract: Since the Arab uprisings, religious engagement is central to EU relations with the Southern Mediterranean. Given that the EU is a liberal-secular power, this article investigates why and how the EU is practising religious engagement and whether it is a rupture with past EU modalities of engagement in the region. The main finding is that EU religious engagement constitutes both a physical and ontological security-seeking practice. This is illustrated in three steps. First, EU’s physical security is ensured by the promotion of state-sponsored forms of religion in Morocco and Jordan that aim at moderating Islam. Second, the framing of religion as an expertise issue in the EEAS and European diplomacies reinforces EU’s self-identity narrative as a secular power. This self-identity is, however, subject to politicization and framing contestation through the case of Freedom of Religion or Belief and the protection of Christian minorities in the Arab world. Overall, this article finds that EU religious engagement is conducive to selective engagement with some religious actors, which could potentially lead to more insecurities and polarization in the region.
Security and stability reframed, selective engagement maintained? The EU in the Mediterranean after the Arab uprisings
By: Roberto Roccu, Benedetta Voltolini
Abstract: This conclusion provides a comparative survey of the main findings of this special issue and suggests avenues for further research. It shows that the security–stability nexus through which the EU approaches the Southern Mediterranean has experienced some measure of reframing in the wake of the Arab uprisings. While leading the EU towards a more inclusive approach, this partial frame redefinition has on the whole translated into forms of highly selective engagement. This conclusion suggests that this mismatch between the change in frame definition and its enactment in different policy areas can be accounted for with reference to four factors: institutional sources of policy rigidity, time lag, issue politicization and the willingness of Mediterranean partners to engage with the EU.
Middle East Critique (Volume 27, Issues 1 & 2)
When the Present Sends Back to the Past: Reading the Kurdish Issue in the 2010s
By: Hamit Bozarslan
Abstract: Since 2011, the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) and its anti-Kurdish violence, the new cold war of Iran and Russia versus Turkey, and the Tayyip Erdogan regime’s coercive policies against the Kurds both in Turkey and Syria, entirely have redefined the century-long Kurdish issue in the Middle East. It also has affected deeply the Kurdish political elite and constrained it to remilitarize the Kurdish conflict and society. How does this elite define the Kurdish issue after years of stasis in Iraq and in Syria? Which senses does it give to the crisis of the previously strong Westphalian states in the region? How does the Kurdish trans-border space reconfigure itself amid heavy external and internal tensions? This article, which takes note that a long historical cycle starting with Mustafa Barzani’s rebellion in 1961, and a shorter one, that started with the 1991 Gulf War, will discuss the issue of the reconfiguration of the Kurdish political elite after the Arab revolutionary uprisings of 2011.
Kurdayetî: Pan-Kurdish Solidarity and Cross-Border Links in Times of War and Trauma
By: William Gourlay
Abstract: The advance of ISIL amid the horrors of the Syrian civil war has given impetus to the forging of political solidarity among Kurds across international borders. This article examines Kurdayetî, pan-Kurdish identification, and the way in which it is shaped by ongoing crises in the Middle East. Amid chaotic events, previously divided Kurdish populations have increased cross-border interaction and co-operation. In northern Syria, Kobani became a bellwether of pan-Kurdish hopes and fears, and a rallying point, with peshmerga from Iraqi Kurdistan passing through Turkey to help relieve the ISIL siege of the city. Meanwhile, Kurdish political groups, particularly the PYD in Syria and the Kurdistan Regional Government, have made strategic gains, raising prospects, in some quarters, of Kurdish independence. Kurdish military forces also have won international recognition (and some logistical support) for the significant role they have played in fighting ISIL. This, in turn, has heightened concerns among regional states, chiefly Turkey, which is traditionally wary of political advances for the Kurds. This article incorporates ethnographic data gathered in 2014 and 2015 in Diyarbakır and Istanbul, to analyze the surge in pan-Kurdish solidarity, confidence and political assertiveness, and the implications these have for the Kurds and the states that surround them.
Paradigm Shift between Turkey and the Kurds: From ‘Clash of the Titans’ to ‘Game of Thrones’
By: Burak Bilgehan Özpek
Abstract: Throughout the history of the Turkish Republic, its military and political elites in Ankara have regarded the Kurdish question as a security issue. Therefore, initiating the ‘peace process’ with the PKK and developing intimate relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have been regarded as deviations from the Turkish state’s traditional policy toward the Kurdish question. However, the optimism that the peace process generated gradually has disappeared as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Kurdistan Regional Government have resorted to increasingly authoritarian policies. The declining democratization performance of the AKP and the KDP has deepened the internal divisions in both societies and bilateral relations between Turkey and the KRG have transformed into inter-governmental solidarity rather than institutional peace. Since the end of the ‘peace process’ following the June 7 national elections in 2015, the AKP has refused to deal with its country’s Kurdish actors, which, it says, are linked to the PKK and its ideology. Meanwhile, the AKP’s increasingly authoritarian policies have excluded non-AKP voters’ views from the policy-making process. Therefore, the cooperation between Turkey and the KRG has excluded half of the Turks and the Kurds at best. Consequently, the traditional ethnicity-based confrontation between the Turks and Kurds has been replaced, on the one hand, by an alignment among the AKP, the conservative Kurds of Turkey, the KDP and its allies in Northern Syria, and on the other hand, are the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Gorran, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and some sections of the secular, middle class and Turks discontented with the AKP regime.
Mutual Economic Interdependence or Economic Imbalance: Turkish Private Sector Presence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
By: Christina Bache
Abstract: This article concentrates on the deepening of Ankara-Erbil relations, with a specific focus on the presence of the Turkish private sector in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) between 2004 and 2014. During that period, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) failed to implement important structural reforms to diversify the economy and ensure economic stability. The absence of a strong local private sector, independent from government-led economic activity, hindered the potential for the region to become completely self-reliant. Due to the liberal economic framework and insufficient government capacity to oversee private sector operations, foreign corporations could operate in the area without deliberately contributing to the long-term socioeconomic development of the KRI. For the viability of South Kurdistan, the KRG must require foreign corporations operating in the KRI to move beyond simple ‘do no harm’ approaches and actively engage in conflict sensitive practices including inclusive business practices, sustainable human resource management, environmental sustainability, human capital development, and social investments.
Homeland Calling: Kurdish Diaspora and State-building in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in the Post-Saddam Era
By: Bahar Baser
Abstract: The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) has regional autonomy within Iraq and it has been undergoing institution- and state-building for the last decade. The Kurdish diaspora has played a major role in this process by providing vital assistance to reconstruction and development efforts. This article examines the interactions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its diaspora by focusing on the diaspora engagement initiatives formulated by the KRG. The arguments are based on extensive fieldwork (2012–2016) that the author conducted in the KRI and Europe, including interviews with diaspora members, returnees and policy-makers.
In Memoriam: Amir Hassanpour (1943–2017)
By: Eric Hooglund
Abstract: Not available
The Turkish Media Structure in Judicial and Political Context: An Illustration of Values and Status Negotiation
By: Roxane Farmanfarmaian, Ali Sonay, Murat Akser
Abstract: Turkey has been undergoing a transition in governance over decades, most recently in the sociopolitical transformation from Kemalist laicism to Islamic-dominated politics. The shifts have been uneven, with government frequently overtaken by military control, and then returned to some form of democratic functioning, with associated changes in the laws reflecting greater or lesser tolerance for multi-party politics, public religious practice, and EU-inspired civic liberties. Throughout, the experience has engaged a tension between Western influences and Islamic norms as interpreted through processes of modernization and economic liberalization. The media’s role as a conveyor of cultural imaginaries and national identities has led it to play an important part in this trajectory. Yet, although its autonomy has varied depending on those in power—at times being a tool entirely controlled by government, at others operating with few fetters—the laws and regulations surrounding the media have varied much less, suggesting the legal structure defining Turkish media reflects in general terms the public’s view of its position and role in society. This is despite the fact that the media laws in Turkey have not been holistically forged, nor rigorously updated to accommodate technological change. What is suggested here is that the media’s status as a strategic circulator of ideas within social relations and as an ideological bellwether of public values, has been translated into the legal corpus, creating a uniquely Turkish interpretation of the media’s agency, and instrumentality, which we suggest is made comprehensible through Values and Status Negotiation Theory (VSN).
Local Media in Turkey: The Growth of Islamic Networks in Konya’s Radio Landscape
By: Ali Sonay
Abstract: Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, the greater visibility of religion and the emergence of a conservative middle class have reconfigured the boundaries of what is thinkable and sayable in Turkey, particularly in the media. Despite its importance to media consumers, academic analysts have marginalized radio compared with television and the press. Yet increasing commercialization and local concentration have affected mainstream music radio and reshaped religious broadcasting. This article focuses on local radio in the periphery. How does the radio landscape in Central Anatolia, a region reflecting the conservative bourgeoisie’s new dominance, mirror and link to the dominance of the AKP? Fieldwork conducted in Konya, one of the Anatolian ‘Tigers’ and a centre of AKP support, provides the empirical data for this case study.
All is Flux: A Hybrid Media Approach to Macro-Analysis of the Turkish Media
By: Aslı Tunç
Abstract: Since 2002, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, the media in Turkey have undergone significant transformation. Drawing on the historical background of Turkish media and including the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, this article focuses on the changing role of newspapers and television channels, as well as the journalism profession. In-depth interviews lead the way to an analysis of the media sector’s function at the intersection between clientelism, authoritarian tendencies, and capitalist market rules. The concept of ‘hybridity’ used for this study offers a theoretical framework for discussing how Turkey fits into the model of competitive authoritarianism and Andrew Chadwick’s hybridity media framework.
Social Media in Turkey as a Space for Political Battles: AKTrolls and other Politically motivated trolling
By: Erkan Saka
Abstract: This article focuses on AKTrolls, defined as pro-government political trolls in Turkey, while attempting to draw implications about political trolling in the country in general. It examines their methods and effects, and it interrogates whether (and how) Turkish authorities have attempted to shape or counter politically motivated social media content production through trolling after the Gezi Park Protests that took place in 2013. My findings are based on an ethnographic study that included participant observation and in-depth interviews in a setting that is under-studied and about which reliable sources are difficult to find. The study demonstrates political trolling activity in Turkey is more decentralized and less institutionalized than generally thought, and is based more on ad hoc decisions by a larger public. However, I argue here that AKTrolls do have impact on reducing discourses on social media that are critical of the government, by engaging in surveillance, among other practices.
Understanding ‘New Turkey’ Through Women’s Eyes: Gender Politics in Turkish Daytime Talk Shows
By: Yeşim Burul, Hande Eslen-Ziya
Abstract: Following the AKP’s second election victory in 2007, significant changes to the party programme and strategy evolved into the ‘New Turkey,’ a new, more abstractly defined discursive and operational space. This both redefined democratic practices and generated a backlash to gender equality and the status of women. As media is a powerful hegemonic tool, where political actors compete for influence, analysis of television daytime talk shows reflects similar gender role-making processes within Turkish society. We study one of the most popular shows in Turkey, hosted by Seda Sayan through ‘discursive governance’ and in which political actor discourses influence the public agenda through active sense-making, a process in which the media plays a critical disseminating and legitimating role, particularly in restrictive political settings. We argue that the show (now no longer broadcast) was a locus of discursive governance. Identity and habitus in the ‘New Turkey’ discourse strategically were projected in such shows, rendering formal policy change to affect behavioral shifts unnecessary. Seda Sayan’s show thus expressed a conservative and gendered public normative narrative, one that the AKP government has developed into a dominant normative order.
Negotiating Values in the Islamist Press after 2013
By: Michelanglo Guida
Abstract: Turkey’s Islamist press has been influenced essentially by three contingencies: partisanship, lack of political autonomy, and lack of economic autonomy. These contingencies are reflected in the opinion pieces of Islamist columnists, five of whom are examined here in detail. To understand how their opinions are shaped, this article focuses on their interpretations of two dramatic events: the Gezi Park protests and the December 17–25 corruption scandals, both of which took place in 2013. This analysis provides a granular look at how the different Islamist columnists produced highly contrasting responses to government policies and choices, giving a unique insight on the intellectual dynamics within the Islamist community as the July 15, 2016 coup approached.
Representation of Terror and Ethnic Conflict in the Turkish Press: An Analysis of the Peace Process in Turkey
By: Ayse Seda Yuksel-Pecen
Abstract: This article explores the representation of the Kurdish issue in Turkey’s media. It does so by focusing on four newspapers that are representative of different ideological stances and economic relations with the Turkish government. The time period is during two key events: the Kobanî protests in 2014 and the elections in 2015. The research findings indicate that the media’s framing of the armed conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK is a contested discursive site; one determined not only by ideological affiliation but also by the relative politico-economic autonomy of the media institutions from the central political power.
Middle East Law and Governance (Volume 10, Issue 1)
The Reform of Judicial Appointment Process in the Ordinary Judiciary in Egypt
By: Shams Al Din Al Hajjaji
Abstract: This article argues for the necessity of the reform of the judicial appointment qualification, and the judicial appointment powers in Egypt. The article presents judicial appointment process and requirement as the main case study. It illustrates the difference between de facto and de jure in the judicial appointment system in Egypt. These differences pave the road to a deeper understanding of legal and political aspects of discrimination against the poor, woman and political opposition within the appointment process. The article discusses the contemporary challenges in judicial appointment. The challenges can be summarized into: gender inequality, elimination of political minorities, and under-privileged citizens. Finally, the article proposes a solution for the problems identified in this article. These solutions are based on reforming the both the judicial appointment qualification, and the judicial appointment powers in Egypt.
Voting in Transition: Participation and Alienation in Egypt’s 2012 Presidential Election
By: Caroline Abadeer, Alexandra Domike Blackman, Scott Williamson
Abstract: How does voter turnout change as countries transition to democracy? Using district-level data from Egypt’s 2012 presidential election, we show that turnout was higher in more educated and urban districts—a stark reversal from voting patterns under the authoritarian Mubarak regime, when less educated and poorer areas were more likely to participate. However, this pattern weakened in the second round of the 2012 election, when the choice was restricted to two candidates who reflected Egypt’s primary pre-revolution political divide. Urban and educated districts experienced a decline in turnout and a rise in protest voting during the second round relative to the first, suggesting that key political groups were alienated from the electoral process. These results indicate that who participates in elections can shift quickly as institutions change, but this is conditional on the choice of candidates available to voters.
Ctrl-Alt-Revolt? Online and Offline Networks during the 2011 Egyptian Uprising
By: Elizabeth R. Nugent, Chantal E. Berman
Abstract: Analyses of the 2011 Egyptian uprising assign a significant mobilizing role to the interpersonal networks created through Facebook and Twitter. However, these studies fail to investigate online networks in comparison with more traditional “offline” networks, which are similarly theorized to mobilize members to protest participation. In this paper, we analyze nationally representative Arab Barometer survey data from Egypt 2011 to compare the mobilizing effects of memberships in four different types of networks: online, union, community, and religious. We test whether these networks were distinct and operated in competition, or overlapping and operated in tandem to mobilize Egyptians to protest. We demonstrate that different networks mobilized different segments of the population, consistent with theories about the negative revolutionary coalition necessary for successful uprisings. We also show that multiple network membership increases protest propensity, and that individuals at the intersection of online networks and community group networks, such as those formed through membership in charity groups or sports clubs, are most likely to engage in revolutionary protest. These results speak to an important interactive effect between online and offline networks in terms of facilitating successful revolutionary uprisings.
Managing Contention: Divergent Government Responses to Youth Protests in the Arab World
By: Kressen Thyen
Abstract: Why do some authoritarian governments respond beneficently to political protest while others opt for repression? This article argues that beneficent government responses in the form of concessions or institutional inclusion are fostered by three interrelated mechanisms working at three distinct levels: institutionalization of political protest within the polity, external certification of protest demands by legally legitimized authorities, and interest polarization between protesting groups and the government. Empirical comparison of government responses to youth protests before and during the 2011 uprisings in Morocco and Egypt proves that the divergent strategies in the two countries were not the result of spontaneous decision-making in times of heightened regime contention. Rather, they mirror established patterns of protest politics that are relatively resistant to ad-hoc manipulations. By extending the focus beyond a particular episode of contention, this study offers important insights into government-challenger relations in authoritarian regimes.
Middle East Report (Volume 48, Issue 286)
The Black Mediterranean and the Politics of the Imagination
By: SA Smythe
Abstract: Not available
Extending the Borders of Europe
By: Aurélie Ponthieu
Abstract: European policies on refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly restrictive. Borders are effectively being pushed off-shore, extending the problems of border management as far south as possible. Aurélie Ponthieu explains the effects of these measures, including crowded refugee centers on the Italian and Greek borders, deplorable conditions in Libyan detention centers and fewer rescues at sea. Ponthieu, the coordinator of the Forced Migration Team in the analysis department of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Belgium, was interviewed by Nabil Al-Tikriti.
Suffering from Hunger in a World of Plenty
By: Hilal Elver
Abstract: The UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food surveys the catastrophic state of hunger and malnutrition and their man-made causes—war and conflict, climate change, massive displacement and global economic inequality. The paradox of this landscape of desperate need is that the world produces more than enough food to feed the planet, but the poor cannot afford it.
The Politics of Health in Counterterrorism Operations
By: Jonathan Whittall
Abstract: Not available
The Psycho-Politics of Wellbeing
By: Orkideh Behrouzan
Abstract: Iranians have repurposed, reconfigured and transliterated the psychiatric concepts of depression and trauma as depreshen and toroma. In this wide-ranging interview, Orkideh Behrouzan speaks with Sheila Carapico about the politics of Iranian mental health care policy, public discussion of the effects of 40 years of revolution and war and the ways in which a younger generation is forming identities through depreshen-talk. Behrouzan is a physician, medical anthropologist, scholar of science and technology and the author of Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran. She teaches in the anthropology department at SOAS, University of London.
Civilians in Mosul's Battle of Annihilation
By: Nabil Al-Tikriti
Abstract: Understanding the course of events and identifying the participants in the battle of Mosul is a difficult task. What is certain is that all parties neglected the fate of civilians and were unable to provide proper emergency medical relief. An examination of the battle is crucial to understanding the evolution of international humanitarian law in conflict zones.
Caught in the Circle of Punishment
By: Omar Al-Jaffal
Abstract: The politics, sensibilities and lives of Iraqis born in the 1970s and 1980s were intimately shaped by harsh US sanctions on essential and non-essential goods, Saddam Hussein’s wars and the US invasion in 2003 with its devastating war and aftermath. What can a young Iraqi possibly hope for now?
UNRWA Financial Crisis
By: Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh
Abstract: President Donald Trump’s decision to reduce the United States’ contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to only $60 million in 2018—compared to a total of $364 million in 2017 —has been widely denounced as a brutal form of collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Current fundraising campaigns are attempting to fill the gap to keep schools open and medical services available for Palestinians across the region. The campaigns are focused on the rights, needs and dignity of Palestinian infants, children and adults in their roles as patients, students and recipients of emergency cash assistance.
Refugee Rights Hit the Wall
By: Sophia Hoffmann
Abstract: Not available
Conventional Humanitarian Solutions Fail the Test
By: Parastou Hassouri
Abstract: Not available
New Left Review (Issues 109 & 110)
Worlds and Letters
By: Peter Morgan
Abstract: Peter Morgan on Alexander Beecroft, An Ecology of World Literature. Local literatures and their bonding into greater unities; the cosmopolitan residues of great empires; vernaculars and national literatures. A framework for comparison from Sumeria to the globalized present.
By: Stathis Kouvelakis
Abstract: Against panegyrics to a frictionless, post-national eu polity, evidence from Europe’s multiple borders. Greece as gauge of an emerging order, in which interior and exterior tangle in overlapping jurisdictions and enforcement zones, ultimately dependent on Libyan warlords, Turkish prisons and the mass graves of the Mediterranean.
Review of African Political Economy (Volume 45, Issue 155)
Between feminism and unionism: the struggle for socio-economic dignity of working-class women in pre- and post-uprising Tunisia
By: Loes Debuysere
Abstract: Generally seen as a pawn in the identity struggle between so-called secular and Islamist political actors, the women's question in Tunisia has received little attention from a class perspective since the 2010–11 uprising. Yet, over recent years, working-class women have been highly visible during protests, strikes and sit-ins of a socio-economic nature, implicitly illustrating how class and gender grievances intersect. Against the background of the global feminisation of poverty and a changing political economy of the North African region over recent decades, this article builds on Nancy Fraser's theory of (gender) justice to understand if and how women's informal and revolutionary demands have been included in more formal politics and civil society activism in Tunisia. The article finds that disassociated struggles against patriarchy (feminism) and neoliberal capitalism (unionism) fail to efficiently represent women workers’ own aspirations in Tunisia's nascent democracy.
The struggles of precarious youth in Tunisia: the case of the Kerkennah movement
By: Lorenzo Feltrin
Abstract: This article analyses the origins and the dynamics of the social movement against the energy corporation Petrofac that took place in the Tunisian archipelago of Kerkennah between 2011 and 2016. The Kerkennah movement is seen as part of a broader cycle of mobilisations for social justice that started in 2008 and continues to the present day. The main subjects of these mobilisations are young people lacking sources of regular income and their core demands are secure employment and local development. It is argued that communal solidarities were key in compensating for the lack of occupational cohesion among the protesters.
Delinking, food sovereignty, and populist agronomy: notes on an intellectual history of the peasant path in the global South
By: Max Ajl
Abstract: The article examines the weakness of discourses around food sovereignty in Southwest Asia and North Africa, and examines some older currents resembling the food sovereignty discourse. The author first historically situates the emergence of food sovereignty. He discusses agro-ecology – the ‘technics’ (or social embeddedness of technology) of food sovereignty – and its national-popular content, before then developing elements of the delinking paradigm. He goes on to discuss Tunisian national-popular and Third Worldist agronomists’ and economists’ efforts to develop technics and frameworks for food sovereignty in the 1970s and 1980s. The article compares the food sovereignty paradigm with auto-centred, self-reliant development proposals, and the proposals of the Tunisian economists and agronomists.
Review of Middle East Economics and Finance (Volume 14, Issue 1)
Explaining Gender Differences in Socioeconomic and Political Objectives in the Middle East
By: Fengyu Wu, Jeffrey B. Nugent
Abstract: The purpose of this article is identify and explain gender differences in eight important socioeconomic attitudes and political priorities among randomized samples of both males and females in 21 countries of the broadly defined Middle East. The attitudes and political priorities examined include the low status of women, lack of democracy, absence of a competitive private sector, income inequality and reliance on the military. In each case decomposition methods are used to divide these differences into those due to differences in the underlying characteristics of males and females and those due to differences in the effect of those characteristics.
Exports and Financing Constraints Evidence from Turkey
By: Armağan Gezici, Özgür Orhangazi, Cihan Yalçın
Abstract: This paper examines the link between financing constraints and firm exporting behavior through an in-depth study of the Turkish manufacturing firms between 1996 and 2013. Utilizing a rich firm-level data set, we test for both ex-ante and ex-post links between exports and financing constraints to tackle potential selection biases and endogeneity problems. We find a positive and statistically significant export premium for financing constraints in general. In further testing we show that there is no significant evidence of pre-entry premium, while we find that financing constraints faced by exporting firms are eased once they start exporting, confirming an improvement in the financial conditions of export starters compared to non-exporters.
Long-run and Short-run Monetary Policy Transmission Channels in Lebanon
By: Ali Awdeh
Abstract: This research detects the existence of monetary policy transmission mechanisms in Lebanon through which the actions of the central bank propagate. By adopting co-integration analysis and VECM frameworks, and by exploiting monthly data between January 1994 and December 2016, the research revealed the existence of a long-run interest rate channel, affecting both resident private sector deposits and credit to the private sector. Another short-run capital channel was revealed, affecting total credit provided by the banking sector. Additionally, the empirical results show that (1) deposit inflows are not attracted by high interest rates, but stimulated by confidence provided by large foreign currency reserves held by the central banks; (2) non-residents deposit inflows could represent a substitute for local credit; (3) banks pass-through any increase in funding cost to borrowers; and (4) an increase in external interest rates may trigger deposit outflows.
Import Determinants and Potential Markets: A Panel Data Gravity Modelling Analysis for Bahrain
By: Shujaat Abbas, Abdul Waheed
Abstract: This study investigates macroeconomic determinants of import flow and explores potential import markets for Bahrain using an augmented gravity model on panel data of 42 trading partners, from 2000 to 2016. The result of panel generalized least square estimation technique shows that the core variables support the theory of the basic gravity model. The estimated results of the augmented variables show that the imports of Bahrain are more responsive to income of trading partners, gross domestic product, and export flow; whereas, negatively determined by the relative price. The findings of dummy variables show that there is a significant role of common language and Gulf economic integration on imports of Bahrain. The results of the import potential analysis show that Bahrain has exceeded its import potential from most of its Asian trading partners; however, positive import potential exists in Africa and America and some selected Middle Eastern and European markets.