[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the eleventh 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 Law Quarterly (Volume 34, Issue 1)
Penal Protection of Public Health from the Effects of Pollution in the UAE Federal Law
By: Ibrahim Suleiman Al Qatawneh
Abstract: The UAE federal legislator is keen to protect the environment and its development by amending the Federal Environmental Protection and Development Law No. 24 of 1999, which provides for the penal protection of public health by criminalising any act that damages the quality of water, air and land, or generates excessive noise or mismanages the disposal of hazardous substances and medical wastes. The UAE Federal Law imposes penalties for all such violations, however without achieving the purpose of deterrence or punishment.
The Constitutional Framework of International Law in the Gulf: Ratification and Implementation of International Treaties in GCC Constitutions
By: Gianluca P. Parolin
Abstract: This article investigates how ratification and implementation of international treaties are regulated in GCC Constitutions and how these regulations currently operate. First, it considers the models of internal/international law relations that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Constitutions espouse. Second, it then reviews ratification procedures and practices. Finally, it examines alternative options to guarantee implementation. Shifting the focus away from conventional court implementation mechanisms, the article argues that internal accountability mechanisms of executives might guarantee a more effective enforcement of international treaties in the GCC Member States.
The Financial and Supervisory Role of the Federal National Council in the United Arab Emirates
By: Ahmad Aljobair
Abstract: This article deals with the role of the UAE Federal National Council (FNC) as a legislative authority. It explains how it differs from other parliaments around the world in terms of composition and the role it plays as a final authoritative legislative power. The FNC has neither the power to legislate nor the right to control laws, although the Constitution allows it to discuss and comment upon draft laws. However, the FNC’s opinion is not binding on the promulgation of the laws. The President may reject the amendments and promulgate the law after it has been sanctioned by the Supreme Council. The Constitution also gives the Council of Ministers the power to promulgate laws in case of necessity and absence of the FNC. These constitutional texts contradict the internal regulations of the FNC which give this Council the right to amend the legal texts of the draft budget.
A Decade of Development: The Civil and Commercial Court of the Qatar Financial Centre
By: Andrew Dahdal, Francis Botchway
Abstract: The Qatar International Court is a new breed of judicial tribunal inspired by the English Commercial Court based in London. It provides a dispute resolution forum specifically tailored to civil, commercial and administrative disputes arising within the framework of Qatar Financial Centre. Over the past decade, the Court has grown in prominence both locally and globally. It is one of a number of similar judicial bodies that have recently been established in jurisdictions from Singapore to Kazakhstan. This article examines the experience of the Qatar International Court and is offered as a contribution to the broader literature and comparative research being conducted on the growth of these new international commercial tribunals.
The Importance of Reinforcing the Rules against Corruption: Whistleblowing to Improve the Saudi Economic Environment for Saudi Vision 2030
By: Ahmed A. Altawyan
Abstract: As international efforts mount to combat corruption, whistleblower protections have become increasingly important. As a G20 nation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has made commitments to reinforce the rules relating to such communication. However, the lack of comprehensive laws has become an obstacle. This study examines the current whistleblowing laws and offers suggestions through which Saudi Arabia can achieve its goals for Saudi Vision 2030. To attract foreign investments and businesses, the Saudi Kingdom will need to prove that there are mechanisms in place to prevent instances of corruption. As there are already relevant examples provided by other nations, Saudi legislative bodies should be able to look to these examples to develop valid countermeasures to corruption.
The GCC Human Rights Declaration: An Instrument of Rhetoric?
By: Mustafa El-Mumin
Abstract: Despite being promulgated in 2014 by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Gulf Declaration of Human Rights (GDHR) has received little academic attention. Khalifa Alfadhel is one scholar who has sought to engage with the declaration, citing it as a significant regional document worthy of commendation due to its reconciliation of both Islamic and international notions of human rights, a feat other comparable regional human rights documents have yet to achieve. Furthermore, Alfadhel praises the GDHR as it embodies the GCC’s commitment to human rights and political reform, with the GDHR supplying the foundation for a regional customary law regime. This article questions such claims, arguing that Alfadhel has overlooked unambiguous flaws that contradict the GDHR’s alleged regional promotion of human rights, ultimately undermining its supposed significance. Certainly, this article highlights how the GDHR is a rhetorical document that intrinsically negates the same rights it purports to protect.
The Libyan Supreme Court on Interest in Commercial Transactions
By: Kilian Bälz
Abstract: Not available
Iran (Volume 58, Issue 1)
New Data on the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Periods in the South-Eastern Greater Periphery of the Jazmurian Basin: Archaeological Survey Along the Sarbaz Valley and in Adjacent Areas in Iranian Baluchestan
By: Hossein Sarhaddi-Dadian, Benjamin Mutin, Hossein Moradi
Abstract: This article reports results from an archaeological survey conducted along the Sarbaz Valley and in adjacent areas in parts of Sarbaz and Chahbahar counties in the Sistan and Baluchestan province of south-eastern Iran. The surveyed area is located in the south-eastern greater periphery of the Jazmurian Basin, in-between the Bampur Valley ca. 120 km. to the north-west and the Kech-Makran region less than 100 km. to the south-east in Pakistan. Both these two regions were investigated in the past and yielded abundant archaeological records dating to the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age periods. It was particularly interesting to explore the area considered in this article to understand how it connected with these two archaeologically-rich neighbouring regions during these periods. From a broader perspective, this survey also aimed to contribute to the reconstruction of the ancient cultural spheres – the location of their spatial boundaries and intra- and inter-regional interaction routes – in the south-easternmost territories of the Iranian Plateau. As a result, twenty sites dating to the Chalcolithic and/or Bronze Age periods were found. These sites and their surface materials are here presented and discussed with reference to the broader context of these periods in these territories.
The Sasanian Fire Temple of Gach Dawar in Western Iran: New Evidence
By: Yousef Moradi, Edward J. Keall
Abstract: In 1978 a Canadian archaeological mission conducted one season of excavation at the fire temple of Gach Dawar with the main focus of the operation on four ancillary rooms added to the exterior of the main Chahar Taq. The programme was terminated in 1979 by the onset of the Iranian revolution. The new excavation in 2007 re-examined the rooms originally exposed by the Canadian mission, as well as working in the heart of the Chahar Taq and other adjacent rooms. The discovery of a number of cult installations within the Chahar Taq explicitly indicates that the building was designed as a fire temple. The structural layout and the pottery recovered from the building imply an original construction dating to Sasanian times, four building phases identified. The presence of the Islamic material excavated can be explained as reuse of the building in subsequent periods.
Reproducing the Original Plan of the Abbasid Friday Mosque at Esfahan and its First Enlargement
By: Miss Federica Duva
Abstract: Following an in-depth study and comparison of the archaeological data collected by the Italian Archaeological Mission at the Friday Mosque of Esfahan in 1970s and Islamic historical sources dealing with Esfahan, this paper aims to suggest a reconstruction of the layout of the first Abbasid mosque at Esfahan – attributed by the author to 767 – and of its first enlargement carried out a few years later. In particular, though two different models can be hypothesised for the 767 mosque, i.e. the so-called “Syrian plan” and the so-called “Arab-Iraqi plan”, some observations can be made that seem to pin down the latter as the actual prototype for the first Abbasid phase, thus revealing an influence of the Arab-Iraqi model in early Islamic Iranian architecture that was maintained in the enlarged plan of the mosque.
Koh-i Noor Diamond and Babur’s Stone: Issue of Identity
By: Anna Malecka
Abstract: Among issues most often debated by diamond writers is the matter of origin of the Koh-i Noor diamond. The well-known history of this diamond starts with its confiscation from the Great Mughal in 1739. Mughal sources translated into Western languages are silent on the topic of its earlier history. This fact caused authors to attempt to identify the Koh-i Noor with other stones of similar weight mentioned in texts from the Mughal era. Most often writers on stones contemplate if it is justified to identify it with the diamond of the founder of the Great Mughals dynasty – Babur (r.1526–1530). This text is an attempt to resolve this problem. It is for this purpose that source texts will be analysed, including those not published and gemmological material as well. This type of approach had not been employed hitherto, as far as I know, for examining the discussed problem.
“The Prophet Muhammad and his Companions” and “Musa va ‘UJ”: A Comparison of Two Paintings
By: Giti Norouzian
Abstract: This study compares two paintings: one is the third in an undated illustrated manuscript of Kalila va Dimna in the Gulestan Palace Library in Tehran, and the other, often called “Musa va ‘Uj”, is in the Khalili Collection in London. These two paintings share so many similarities that they have long been thought to be the work of the same hand, painted at about the same time. The aim of this article is to examine the proposition by considering some relevant historical and aesthetic aspects. The study of the differences and similarities between the two paintings should be helpful in suggesting a resolution to this interesting problem.
Inventing the Ardabil Carpet: A Case Study in the Appropriation and Transformation of a Persian Artifact
By: Dorothy Armstrong
Abstract: The Ardabil carpet in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is one of the most-studied in the world. This paper takes a non-traditional perspective: that the carpet has been the site of transcultural reframings that reveal ambiguities and conflicts in attitudes to Islamic material culture. It examines the carpet as part of the discourse on Persia constructed by non-Persians. It looks in particular at the storytelling that developed around the carpet, and what those stories tell us about the cultures that created them. From the account of the physical recreation of two carpets into one, the narrative of ‘The Holy Carpet’, its positioning as ‘the world's finest carpet’, and its changing display in the museum, to its afterlives as a replica, a gold-standard for the carpet-market, and an icon of Persia, the paper examines the motives for, and response to, these conflicting framings.
Benjamin Basil Shee, Knight of the Lion and Sun of Persia (1803–1840)
By: Daniel Potts
Abstract: Benjamin Basil Shee served as an officer in the armies of ‘Abbas Mirza and Mohammad Shah from c. 1827 to 1839. Mentioned in passing by a number of visitors to Iran, he was involved in a surprisingly diverse set of activities, from mountaineering to military campaigns, and knew many of the most important European figures in early Qajar Iran. His career trajectory provides fascinating insight into the many different levels on which European specialists, employed by high-ranking Qajar political élites, functioned and the varied social and political networks in which they participated as actors. Shee’s example suggests that we should not underestimate the contributions of European specialists to the social, political, scientific and economic life of nineteenth-century Iran, particularly outside their strict area of professional activity. The rapid dissemination of once obscure sources through the systematic digitisation of libraries in Europe and North America provides a wealth of largely untapped data on many such figures whose names, heretofore, have barely attracted notice in histories of Qajar Iran.
Iraq (Issue 81)
A Study of Ivory and Bone Plaques From Ziwiye in the Sanandaj Museum
By: Sheler Amelirad
Abstract: This article introduces a small group of ivories held in the Sanandaj Museum, which were discovered in 1997 during the seventh season of Nasratolah Motamedi's excavations at Ziwiye, northwest Iran. An investigation of the decorative, figurative, and stylistic characteristics of these pieces reveals a strong Neo-Assyrian influence, with close similarities to the palace reliefs of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, as well as the influence of Assyrianizing Urartian art. These extensive cultural influences on Mannaean art can be seen in terms of political and economic relations with the two regions.
New Insights on the Role of Environmental Dynamics Shaping Southern Mesopotamia: From the Pre-ubaid to the Early Islamic Period
By: Mark Altaweel, Anke Marsh, Jaafar Jotheri, Carrie Hritz, Dominik Fleitmann, Stephanie Rost, Stephen F. Lintner, McGuire Gibson, Matthew Bosomworth, Matthew Jacobson, Eduardo Garzanti, Mara Limonta, Giuditta Radeff
Abstract: Recent fieldwork and archival sedimentary materials from southern Iraq have revealed new insights into the environment that shaped southern Mesopotamia from the pre-Ubaid (early Holocene) until the early Islamic period. These data have been combined with northern Iraqi speleothem, or stalagmite, data that have revealed relevant palaeoclimate information. The new results are investigated in light of textual sources and satellite remote sensing work. It is evident that areas south of Baghdad, and to the region of Uruk, were already potentially habitable between the eleventh and early eighth millennia B.C., suggesting there were settlements in southern Iraq prior to the Ubaid. Date palms, the earliest recorded for Iraq, are evident before 10,000 B.C., and oak trees are evident south of Baghdad in the early Holocene but disappeared after the mid-sixth millennium B.C. New climate results suggest increased aridity after the end of the fourth millennium B.C. For the third millennium B.C. to first millennium A.D., a negative relationship between grain and date palm cultivation in Nippur is evident, suggesting shifting cultivation emphasising one of these crops at any given time in parts of the city. The Shatt en-Nil was also likely used as a channel for most of Nippur's historical occupation from the third millennium B.C. to the first millennium A.D. In the early to mid-first millennium A.D., around the time of the Sasanian period, a major increase in irrigation is evident in plant remains, likely reflecting large-scale irrigation expansion in the Nippur region. The first millennium B.C. to first millennium A.D. reflects a relatively dry period with periodic increased rainfall. Sedimentary results suggest the Nahrawan, prior to it becoming a well-known canal, formed an ancient branch of the Tigris, while the region just south of Baghdad, around Dalmaj, was near or part of an ancient confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates.
The Parthian Rock Reliefs and Bahdinan Gate in Amadiya/amedi: A Preliminary Report from the Columbia University Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments Survey
By: Zainab Bahrani, Haider Almamori, Helen Malko, Gabriel Rodriguez, Serdar Yalcin
Abstract: This article presents three rock reliefs of the Parthian era in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, documented in Amadiya/Amedi by Columbia University's Mapping Mesopotamian Monuments survey project in 2013. The paper discusses the iconography, style and date of the reliefs and the methods that the Columbia team used to document them, including photogrammetry, perspectival corrected and perspective controlled stills, and 360° immersive, processed panoramas. At the same time as presenting a reading of the relief imagery, the article offers a preliminary self-reflective consideration of the documentation methods we have been utilizing for the study of rock reliefs in the past seven years. These technological advances, enormously useful for digital image capture, are nevertheless a form of imaging and must be understood as such methodologically. The final results of these kinds of technically advanced images of rock reliefs must rely on modes of visual interpretation that remain subjective and dependent on visual analytical skills based in historical knowledge, stylistic and iconographic analyses, as well as on-site, close up material-tactile studies of surfaces, of carving styles and methods. Finally, taking architectural context and landscape into account, the paper makes the case that the location of the reliefs dating to the Parthian era, at the citadel's entry, guided and inspired the Seljuk era monumental portals of Amadiya/Amedi that were subsequently erected and sculpted in dialogue with the ancient remains.
The Angry Ištar of Eturkalamma: Bm 32482+ and the Conservation of Cultic Traditions in the Late Babylonian Period
By: Rocio Da Riva
Abstract: BM 32482 + is a Late Babylonian tablet with descriptions of rites and ceremonies held in the Eturkalamma temple of Bēlet-Bābili (Ištar of Babylon). The text refers to prayers and recitations to appease the goddess. Cult personnel from her temple (išippu priest) are also mentioned, as is music, a nigûtu performed by a nadītu priestess, a ritual involving a sakkikuddītu, a cultic commentary, omens involving birds, and astrological observations. Despite the fragmentary condition of the tablet, it seems that the performance of the nigûtu was in one way or another related to the preservation of the temple rituals, which would otherwise have been forgotten.
King of the Four Quarters: Diversity as a Rhetorical Strategy of the Neo-assyrian Empire
By: J. DeGrado
Abstract: Recent studies of cultural interaction in the Assyrian empire have focused on the process of assimilation and the production of alterity. In this article, I argue that Assyrian royal rhetoric goes beyond emphasizing simple difference, instead using depictions of cultural diversity to demonstrate the truly universal nature of the empire. I elucidate this rhetoric by comparison the world fairs of the 19th and early 20th-centuries. These fairs advanced European imperialism by allowing visitors to explore the vast extent of empire. I argue that the enumeration of exotic tribute in Assyrian texts and the iconographic depiction of foreigners on reliefs similarly served to concretize Assyrian power. Unlike modern European empires, however, Assyrians did not consider ethnicity to be constitutive of citizenship. Thus, while the Assyrian approach to diversity was certainly instrumentalizing, it was also inclusive of cultural difference. In this respect, the Assyrian understanding of human diversity shares much in common with the way the empire treated other types of difference, ranging from topographic variation to biodiversity. From the imperial vantage point, each of these elements had the potential to be tamed in a way that highlighted the control of the king over the four quarters of the world.
The Latest Layard Archive: New Documents from Newcastle University
By: S. Ermidoro
Abstract: This article provides the first detailed overview of an archive that once belonged to Austen Henry Layard and his family. The collection, deposited in the Special Collections and Archives at Newcastle University, consists of handwritten letters, a dozen books, hundreds of folios, photos, maps, and various other objects: all this material is still unpublished. The archive is particularly interesting due to its nature: it was kept and bequeathed for generations as a family assemblage, and it includes materials that help to better understand several data contained in Layard's publications, his excavations in the ancient Assyrian capitals and his commitment to the dissemination of the knowledge of Assyrian culture. The archive also sheds light on previously unknown private aspects of Layard's wife, Enid Guest, and offers a wealth of information on the cultural legacy left by Layard within his own family, among his descendants.
First Steps in the Archaeology of Assyria: Botta's Letters and the “excavation House” at Khorsabad
By: B. Genç
Abstract: Paolo Emilio Botta, who was sent to Mosul as the French Consul in 1842, explored at Kuyunjik and Nebi Yunus and then began investigating ancient stone foundations at Nebi Yunus. Muhammed/Mehmed Pasha and local religious leaders, who were worried that the tomb of prophet Yunus (Jonah) and a local mosque would be destroyed by the excavations, opposed these investigations and the work stopped as a result. After Nebi Yunus, Botta started to work at Kuyunjik in December 1842. While his workers were busy at Kuyunjik, someone from the village of Khorsabad talked about stones with inscriptions and reliefs on them on top of a hill. After three months of exhaustive work at Kuyunjik, on March 20th, 1843 Botta sent a group of workers to Khorsabad for excavation. However, problems arose about Botta's work in Mosul. The Pasha of the province in particular created obstructions. We have done research in the Ottoman Archives of the Prime Ministry of Turkey on Botta's excavation permits and documents, the obstructions created by the Pasha of Mosul, the details of the story of Botta's experiences at Khorsabad and the relevant correspondence. In these archives we have found documents about the problems Botta experienced at Khorsabad, the conditions for excavation permits and the construction of an excavation house, the plan of the excavation house mentioned by Botta, which was drafted like a fortress next to the village houses and sent to Istanbul, as well as petitions of the villagers opposing Botta's work and his excavation house. Here, we attempt to re-read Botta's excavation seasons, permits and the problems he encountered through the documents in the Ottoman Archives in order to understand how this period is to be understood. Through these documents and correspondence, we were able to study the problems that arose between the Ottoman State and France as a result of Botta's excavations at Khorsabad.
The City and Landscape of Ur: An Aerial, Satellite, and Ground Reassessment
By: Emily Hammer
Abstract: New fieldwork at Ur has begun to investigate urban scale, city organization, and the environment of the city's hinterland. Analysis of new sources of declassified aerial and satellite imagery from the 1950s and 1960s, recent unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) photos, and a systematic surface collection show that Ur may have expanded to between 120–500 hectares in size during its later periods of habitation, far larger than the sixty hectare maximum size previously estimated. Traces of buried architecture visible in the UAV photos and topographic models generated from UAV photos allow for the generation of hypotheses about the city plan of Ur during the Late Larsa/Old Babylonian and Neo Babylonian periods. Relict watercourses mapped in the vicinity of the main mound indicate how the city might have been supplied with water in some periods. Alongside this site-based work, historical aerial and satellite imagery provide an updated picture of ancient hydrology, environment, and settlement patterns around Ur.
When the King Came Down to Sumer: The Royal Sojourn of Sar-kali-sarrē and the Court of Akkad
By: N. L. Kraus
Abstract: At some point early on during his reign, Sar-kali-sarrē, made a journey to Sumer. The occasion was so momentous that an entire year was named in commemoration of the excursion. This paper investigates the evidence for that royal visitation, with special attention given to the administrative documents that record the king's sojourn at Girsu. The investigation also considers the rationale for the king's decision to make an expedition to Sumer and asserts that Sar-kali-sarrē may have undertaken the journey in order to begin his building works at the Ekur in Nippur. In addition, the paper identifies some of the highest officials of the Akkadian court who traveled with the king. These individuals are significant because they are usually conspicuous in administrative documents, and as such their presence can establish prosopographic synchronisms between Sargonic archives.
Date Palm and Date Palm Inflorescences in the Late Uruk Period (c. 3300 B.c.): Botany and Archaic Script
By: Marcin Z. Paszke
Abstract: "The earliest evidence suggesting the human utilisation of wild date palm fruits in the Near East is dated to the sixth and fifth millennia B.C. Despite the lack of archaeological data, it is commonly believed that at the end of the Late Uruk period (c. 3300–3100 B.C.) the Sumerians established the first date palm plantations. Nevertheless, this belief has never been well-proven by any scientific data, which makes this issue open to debate. This article points to the images of the date palm known from the pictographic script from Uruk as an important source of botanical data—a concept which has never been discussed in the literature—and elaborates on the phenotypic traits of the Phoenix dactylifera L. discernible there. It aims to establish the level and condition of horticultural knowledge of the cultivators of the date palm tree in the late fourth millennium B.C.
Many of the botanical traits found on the date palm pictographs are noteworthy, especially where the morphology of the crown, trunk, and root zone are concerned. Most importantly, the identification of pictographs representing date palm inflorescences prompts us to the conclusion that the Sumerians discovered the dioecious nature of the Phoenix dactylifera L., selecting the staminate inflorescences to pollinate female trees by at least c. 3300 B.C. The discovery of this method of artificial fertilization was a turning point in Mesopotamian agriculture since it enabled farmers to obtain a better crop while economizing on space and labour, constituting the beginning of the date palm plantations that are still such a feature of present-day Iraq."
“i Was Not Warm in the Cold”. Another Old Babylonian Proverbial Collection
By: M. P. Streck, N. Wasserman
Abstract: BM 108868, an unpublished Old Babylonian tablet containing a collection of moral and existential sayings is edited here for the first time, accompanied by a commentary, photos and a hand-copy. With this discovery, the existence of a solid 2nd millennium tradition of monolingual Akkadian proverbial sayings is established.
Going Native: Šamaš-šuma-ukīn, Assyrian King of Babylon
By: Shana Zaia
Abstract: Šamaš-šuma-ukīn is a unique case in the Neo-Assyrian Empire: he was a member of the Assyrian royal family who was installed as king of Babylonia but never of Assyria. Previous Assyrian rulers who had control over Babylonia were recognized as kings of both polities, but Šamaš-šuma-ukīn's father, Esarhaddon, had decided to split the empire between two of his sons, giving Ashurbanipal kingship over Assyria and Šamaš-šuma-ukīn the throne of Babylonia. As a result, Šamaš-šuma-ukīn is an intriguing case-study for how political, familial, and cultural identities were constructed in texts and interacted with each other as part of royal self-presentation. This paper shows that, despite Šamaš-šuma-ukīn's familial and cultural identity as an Assyrian, he presents himself as a quintessentially Babylonian king to a greater extent than any of his predecessors. To do so successfully, Šamaš-šuma-ukīn uses Babylonian motifs and titles while ignoring the Assyrian tropes his brother Ashurbanipal retains even in his Babylonian royal inscriptions.
Islamic Law and Society (Volume 27, Issue 1)
Islamic Law on the Provincial Margins: Christian Patrons and Muslim Notaries in Upper Egypt, 2nd-5th/8th-11th Centuries
By: By: Lev Weitz
Abstract: This article examines the interaction of Coptic Christians with Islamic legal institutions in provincial Egypt on the basis of a corpus of 193 Arabic legal documents, as well as relevant Coptic ones, dating to the 2nd-5th/8th-11th centuries. I argue that around the 3rd/9th century Islamic Egypt’s Christian subjects began to make routine use of Islamic legal institutions to organize their economic affairs, including especially inheritance and related matters internal to Christian families. They did so in preference to the Christian authorities and Coptic deeds that had been their standard resource in the first two centuries of Muslim rule. The changing character of the Egyptian judiciary encouraged this shift in practice, as qāḍīs who adhered to fiqh procedural rules increasingly filled judicial roles formerly held by administrative officials. By eschewing and nudging into disuse a previously vital Coptic legal tradition, Christian provincials participated in the Islamization of ʿAbbāsid and Fāṭimid Egypt.
Scholars, Spice Traders, and Sultans: Arguing over the Alms-Tax in the Mamluk Era
By: Joel Blecher
Abstract: Amidst the politics of the Mamluk-era spice route, why did the standard-bearers of Islamic law routinely oppose the sultanate’s imposition of an alms-tax on merchandise (zakāt al-tijāra), despite the abundance of support for such a tax within the classical tradition of Islamic law? Rather than contending – as some modern scholars have – that prominent jurists developed loopholes that circumvented the original intent of the law to protect the wealthy and the ruling class, I argue that it was precisely the jurists’ careful defense of exemptions and exclusions that allowed them to define the essence of zakāt against forms of taxation they considered unlawful. By narrowing the scope of zakāt, jurists attempted to achieve a moral aim that went beyond the ritual purification of wealth: a limit on the sultanate’s otherwise arbitrary power to tax Muslims as it wished. In doing so, they alleviated some of the tax burden for spice merchants and camel herders alike.
Leading with a Fist: A History of the Salafi Beard in the 20th-Century Middle East
By: Aaron Rock-Singer
Abstract: Salafism is a global religious movement whose male participants often distinguish themselves from their co-religionists by a particular style of facial hair. Historians have focused largely on this movement’s engagement with questions of theology and politics, while anthropologists have assumed that Salafi practice reflects a longer Islamic tradition. In this article, I move beyond both approaches by tracing the gradual formation of a distinctly Salafi beard in the 20th century Middle East. Drawing on Salafi scholarly compendia, leading journals, popular pamphlets, and daily newspapers produced primarily in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, I argue that Salafi elites revived a longer Islamic legal tradition in order to distinguish their flock from secular nationalist projects of communal identity and Islamic activists alike. In doing so, I cast light on Salafism’s interpretative approach, the dynamics that define its development as a social movement, and the broader significance of visual markers in modern projects of Islamic piety.
Islamic Charity as (Non)Political in Contemporary Egypt
By: Amira Mittermaier
Abstract: Whereas some Muslim-majority countries have centralized alms economies, in others Islamic charity unfolds informally. In Egypt, pious giving occurs on the margins of the state but lies at the heart of society. Egyptians’ daily charitable practices may therefore be read as political in the broad sense proposed by Hannah Arendt: efforts by ordinary citizens to shape the conditions of their collective existence. Although this Arendtian framework helps scholars to think about politics beyond the parameters of the state, even such widened notions of the political are not consistent with how pious givers in Egypt understand their practices. While attending to the poor, pious givers often orient themselves away from the social and material, foregrounding the beyond, paradise and God. Even though the “beyond” is intimately connected to the “here and now,” this decentering of the social poses a provocative challenge to the secular observer’s search for the political.
Mediterranean Politics (Volume 24, Issue 5 and Volume 25, Issue 1)
Neoliberalism, marginalization and the uncertainties of being young: The case of Egypt
By: Nadine Sika
Abstract: This study highlights the general context of neoliberalism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and its influence on young people’s life chances. It is mainly concerned with understanding the extent to which socio-economic variables, like education and family income levels, impact youth marginalization. Through analysing the case of Egypt, this study argues that education is indeed a predictor for developing a young person’s life chances. However, a family’s income level is even more important. If a family’s income level is low, then the opportunity for continuing education is also low. If a young person is able to attain university level education, their chances of obtaining employment opportunities is tied to their family’s income levels and networks rather than to their education level per se. A family’s income levels on the other hand are influenced by the structure of neoliberalism in general, and neoliberalism amalgamated with authoritarianism, corruption and crony capitalism in particular.
Failed peace and the decline in liberalism in Israel: A spiral model
By: Yuval Feinstein, Uri Ben-Eliezer
Abstract: Illiberal democracies that include ultra-nationalist elements have become more common across the globe, and often go hand-in-hand with conflict and war. Most prior studies have proposed a single direction of causality such that insecurity and violence lead to the spread of illiberal political culture and the rise of illiberal political elements. In contrast, we propose a spiral process in which illiberal elements are not only the product of insecurity and violence, but are also among the main drivers of these conditions. We illustrate this spiral model using the rapid transformation of Israel’s democracy from peace-prone liberalism to hawkish illiberalism.
The tide that failed to rise: Young people’s politics and social values in and after the Arab uprisings
By: Pamela Abbott, Andrea Teti, Roger Sapsford
Abstract: The story of the ‘Arab Spring’ as a revolt of young people against autocracy does not stand up to survey analysis at country level. Data from the Arab Transformations Survey show that young people were over-represented as participants, but it is necessary to stretch the concept of ‘youth’ into middle age in some countries to say this, there were plenty of older participants, and the protests were aimed less at political rights and more at social justice. Fundamental political changes have been expected in MENA which would sweep away autocratic rule in favour of democratisation, as the values of successive younger generations became individualized, liberalized and secularized under the influence of economic and market development and the spread of education, but there is very little evidence that this is what occurred in the Arab Uprisings. Whether young or older, protestors were looking for regime change, an end to corruption and a reduction in IMF-inspired austerity, but political freedoms and democratic governance do not appear to have been at the top of their agenda.
Iran’s costly intervention in Syria: A pyrrhic victory
By: Thomas Juneau
Abstract: It is a common view that Iran has emerged as a winner from the war in Syria, especially with the survival of the Assad regime likely for the foreseeable future. Yet this is a pyrrhic victory for Iran: it has been dragged into a costly quagmire with no end in sight. Iran and its allies (Assad, Russia, local and foreign Shia militias) have certainly been lining up tactical victories on the battlefield since 2015, including the recapture of Aleppo in 2016, but these do not amount to winning the war, let alone to stabilizing and rebuilding the country. The Islamic Republic has no choice but to continue pouring resources in Syria at great cost, only to preserve a hollowed out and fragmented Assad regime. This is a classic case of mission creep: Iran intervened lightly at first but got dragged into an ever costlier spiral. Iran – and Russia – in this sense are now responsible for a devastated country ripped apart along sectarian and regional fault lines and which suffers from a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions. Iran’s efforts in Syria have led, in sum, to an excessively costly victory.
Myths of military defection in Egypt and Tunisia
By: Amy Austin Holmes, Kevin Koehler
Abstract: In this article, we challenge existing analyses of military behaviour during the Arab uprisings. Egypt and Tunisia are often presented as cases where the military formed an explicit or implicit alliance with the opposition and thereby ‘defected‘ from the regime. In contrast to this interpretation, we show that in Tunisia, insubordination took the form of a police mutiny rather than military defection, while in Egypt the military did not defect from, but rather preserved the regime. Finally, we challenge the arguments about Tunisia being a ’pacted’ transition, while in Egypt polarization led to calls for the military to intervene. We show that in Tunisia there were also calls for the military to intervene, and in Egypt the decline of support for Mursi did not directly translate into support for military intervention. The military’s popularity rating had in fact declined substantially since 2011. Misinterpreting military behaviour has led scholars to underestimate the level of regime cohesiveness and the significance of other security agencies in the overthrow of rulers. Finally, it has fed into the (false) belief that the military could mediate the transition to democracy.
Lessons from the MENA region: A configurational explanation of the (in)effectiveness of UN Security Council sanctions between 1991 and 2014
By: Andreas Boogaerts, Edith Drieskens
Abstract: This article advances knowledge on the old but still relevant question of what explains the effectiveness of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council. Building on the Targeted Sanctions Consortium data-set, it uses a Qualitative Comparative Analysis to analyse why these sanctions are (not) effective in coercing, constraining, and signalling targets in the Middle East and North Africa between 1991 and 2014. Confirming that sanctions’ effectiveness is causally complex, this article has three main findings. First, trade diversion and EU sanctions play a crucial role in explaining (in)effective coercion. Second, while the combination of aviation sanctions and EU sanctions results in effective constraining, the UN Security Council seems to struggle with constraining non-governmental actors. Third, there are multiple routes to (in)effective signalling yet targeting key supporters and avoiding abstentions at the UN Security Council seem key to success.
Analyzing the nexus of creativity, Islam, and democracy: Evidence from Turkey
By: Dilshod Achilov
Abstract: While the relationship between Islam and democracy has received considerable attention in the social science literature, very few studies have explained the dynamics of support for democracy through a micro-level, socio-psychological lens. Applying a novel perspective, this study analyzes the empirical nexus among Islamic religiosity, being open to new ideas and creativity (ONIC), and pro-democratic attitudes to probe the following two questions: Are Muslims who are open to new ideas and think creatively more supportive of democracy than those who are not? Could ONIC be an intervening factor between religiosity and support for democracy? To this end, the paper systematically (1) examines the interrelationship between ONIC and Islamic religiosity; (2) estimates the effects thereof on support for democracy; (3) assesses the mediating potential of ONIC between devoutness and pro-democratic attitudes through an illustrative case of Turkey. The findings indicate that ONIC and Islamic religiosity are not mutually exclusive. The evidence also suggests that, ceteris paribus, while religiosity is positively associated with pro-democratic attitudes, the mediating potential of ONIC is inconclusive. Religiosity and ONIC appear to have an independent effect on support for democracy. Educational reforms or policies that cultivate and support creative thinking might be consequential for building and fostering democracy in Islamic societies.
Middle East Critique (Volume 29, Issue 1)
Different Normativity and Strategic ‘Nomadic’ Marriages: Area Studies and Queer Theory
By: Sabiha Allouche
Abstract: This article embraces Maya Mikdashi and Jasbir Puar’s recent recommendation ‘for a politics in queer theory that works to displace the United States as the prehensive force for everyone else’s future’ in order to ponder the scope and reach of queer theory through/as area studies (Middle East).1 The article draws upon personal experiences and narratives of homo-desiring men and women in/from Lebanon who perform hetero married life while pursuing same-sex desire elsewhere, in order to conceive ‘different normativity’ and ‘nomadic unions.’ The article posits ‘strategic nomadic marriages’ as a fluctuating and unsteady type of union that accommodates the particularity of the ‘sex/gender systems’ of global south societies.
Who is “Queerer” and Deserves Resettlement?: Queer Asylum Seekers and Their Deservingness of Refugee Status in Turkey
By: Mert Koçak
Abstract: Turkey’s long-standing geographical limitation on the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees resulted in fractured legal statuses for refugees, each with minimal rights but extensive responsibilities. One of these categories, conditional refugees under international protection, presents a curious case of direct involvement of UNHCR in processing asylum applications filed under this category and resettling accepted individuals to third countries. Situated in the fourteen-month fieldwork with queer refugees under international protection, this article scrutinizes UNHCR’s role in the asylum-seeking process in Turkey through which queer refugees’ experience of displacement finds a new meaning of being “deserving” of refugee status and resettlement to a third country. UNHCR’ direct involvement in Turkey makes it an important actor in policing and controlling not only sexuality and gender identity of queer refugees but also in constructing deservingness of refugee status as a gendered performance of persecution and in constructing the discourse of “fake LGBT refugees.”
Queer/Humanitarian Visibility: The Emergence of the Figure of The Suffering Syrian Gay Refugee
By: Fadi Saleh
Abstract: Prior to the Syrian uprisings in 2011, Syrian queer and trans* populations were rather unknown and irrelevant to global LGBT politics, Western media, and humanitarian efforts. This changed considerably after the uprisings as representations steadily increased and proliferated on social media and in journalistic accounts. This article traces this shift and argues that queer and trans* Syrians became visible primarily through a queer/humanitarian media-visibility paradigm and the construction, consolidation, and circulation of the figure of the suffering Syrian gay refugee. Drawing on analyses of what I consider pivotal events and media representations as well as journalistic writings, this article maps out the ways in which the figure of the suffering Syrian gay refugee and the associations it foregrounds emerged, circulated, and became normalized after the uprisings and years into the Syrian conflict. Furthermore, based on ethnographic fieldwork that I conducted with Syrian LGBT refugees in Istanbul during 2014 – 15, this article challenges the suitability of this figure as a knowledge production framework and suggests new research trajectories to approach, understand, and write Syrian queer and trans* histories beyond the queer/humanitarian visibility paradigm and the figure of the suffering Syrian gay refugee.
Duffs and Puffs: Queer Fashion in Iranian Cyberspace
By: Ladan Rahbari
Abstract: In Iran, the politically sanctioned discourses of embodiment and body management are based on binary notions of gender and sexuality. These discourses are contested by social trends that reflect political dissent. This article uses a combination of content and visual analysis of three Instagram profiles dedicated to fashion to answer the question: ‘Is queer fashion present in Iranian cyberspace’ and if so, ‘How does it persist against the existing queer-phobic political forces?’ The article explores aesthetic and fashion categories called ‘duffs’ and ‘puffs’ that offer queer embodied extravaganza in Iranian cyberspace, which is a more relaxed geography of morality and leisure in comparison with offline public spaces. The analysis includes duffs and puffs’ life style and performance that entails excessive deployments of femininity and masculinity, and exploration of their political significance and potential to undo gender norms in Iran. While they do not explicitly reject heteronormativity and/or capitalism, their non-participation in the conventional modes of money-making, and their erotic and sexual performance contributes to transformative politics. They offer antagonism to the normative power of mainstream gender and sexual ideologies by staining their heterogeneity through performances of fun, shock and failure.
Palestine and the Will to Theorise Decolonial Queering
By: Walaa Alqaisiya
Abstract: This article posits a theorisation of decolonisation in relation to queer as it emerges from the settler-colonial context of Palestine, what I call decolonial queering. The first part provides a new reading of Zionist settler-colonialism, which I define as hetero-conquest. Its novelty lies in refocusing the question of colonialism in native grounded knowledge of queering, while showing the limitations of those existing studies whose frames emanate mainly from American and/or global north contexts of racism and homo-nationalism. By tracing the contemporary continuity of hetero-conquest in Palestine, the second part unpacks the need for a radical theory of liberation that weaves decolonization into queer. Bringing Sara Ahmed and Frantz Fanon into dialogue, such a theory emanates from the amalgam of histories, geographies and bodies, whose restoration beyond the strictures of hetero-conquest opens the way for a radical multi-scalar politics of liberation.
Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 56, Issues 1 & 2)
Ahmad Qabil, a reason to believe and the New Religious Thinking in Iran
By: Lloyd Ridgeon
Abstract: Ahmad Qabil (d. 2012) was a mid-ranking seminarian who achieved considerable fame in Iran due to his foregrounding of reason in his jurisprudential writings, his opposition to both the strict ‘literalist’ version of sharica law propounded by the authorities in the Islamic Republic and the authoritarian regime of Ayatollah Khamenei, and for his 2004 fatwa which permitted women the choice about head covering (hijab). His commitment to reason and justice meant that his political and jurisprudential compositions and activities cannot be divorced from each other; rather, they developed in symbiotic fashion. Largely ignored by Western scholars, this article examines Qabil’s contribution to the so-called ‘New Religious Thinking’ movement in Iran. His writings and activities are significant because the reason-driven approach reflects an attempt to navigate a path based on sources within the Islamic jurisprudential tradition towards ‘universal’ standards that are common in the West, and thereby avoid the accusations of ‘cultural erosion’ through intellectual borrowing from the West.
Between being ‘Irticaci’ and ‘Kafir’: the Kurdish Ulama, Shayhks and Kurdish historiography
By: Gulsum Gurbuz-Kucuksari
Abstract: This article engages with Kurdish ulamas’ and shaykhs’ relatively unknown narratives on manipulative shaykhs as a legitimate part of the story of Kurdish national history. The criticism against yalancı, fake, shaykhs from within the religious class is not encountered very often in Kurdish nationalist history writing. The stereotypical and generalizing approach to shaykhs in nationalist historiography hindered the diverse nature of religious class and silenced reformist discourses against the manipulation of religion. This article brings in the examples of ‘a-typical’ Kurdish ulama and shaykhs with national dreams, who delegitimized deceptive shaykhs by uncovering their deceits. As their narratives unfold, the diverse nature of the Kurdish religious class appears and the story of Kurdish nationalism becomes more complete. My findings also challenge the nationalist dichotomy that national and religious identities are exclusive of one another.
Hashemites, Egyptians and Saudis: the tripartite struggle for the pilgrimage in the shadow of Ottoman defeat
By: Joshua Teitelbaum
Abstract: Most analyses of the fate of the Hijaz and the Muslim pilgrimage after the First World War have focused on the struggle between Hashemites and Saudis. But in actuality the Egyptians were heavily involved in this dispute, for the Hijaz had been for centuries part of a geopolitical system based on the Red Sea littoral states. Indeed, this was a tripartite struggle, which afforded much more room for maneuver than a simple bilateral one. This article covers the maneuvers of all three parties, demonstrating how they tried to gain possession of the hajj, and all that meant for world Islamic leadership.
Public space security and contentious politics of Morocco’s Rif protests
By: Noureddine Jebnoun
Abstract: This article argues that mass protests across the Rif are rooted in the region’s socio-economic marginalization and historical and contemporary violence inflicted by the Moroccan state onto what constitutes an area of challenged state authority. The legacy of the heavily repressive approach of the Moroccan regime toward the region nurtured a collective memory of injustice and alienation among Rifians, which deepened their distrust in the Moroccan state. The emergence of the Hirak al-Shaʿbi (Popular Movement) in Al Hoceima province, following the death of a fishmonger crushed in a garbage truck, strengthened the irredentism of people’s activism and empowered the movement’s regionalist identity. Faced with further securitization of public space from central powers, Hirak has forged a strong autonomy from both the region’s public authorities as well as the regime’s elites, all of which has boosted Hirak’s legitimacy among activists and the region’s population. Hirak’s innovative modus operandi in accessing physical public sites has succeeded in transforming the interaction between society and public authorities and has shown that people can claim their rights to public space without the state’s prior consent.
Two decades of Bedouin resistance and survival under Israeli military rule, 1948–1967
By: Mansour Nasasra
Abstract: Using archival data and newspaper collections from Britain and Israel, and extensive fieldwork interviews in the Naqab, this article breaks new ground through a critical examination of the Bedouin and their way of surviving and resisting Israeli military rule, 1948–1967. I argue that creative nonviolent resistance, everyday resistance and sumud (steadfastness and resilience), succeeded in modifying and mitigating the military rule strategies deployed by the state to control the Arab Bedouin, opening up the possibility of further political action and communal protection. By employing sumud as everyday resistance, the Bedouin improved their livelihood, strengthened one another and helped consolidate sumud, to the point where sumud became part of their culture and way of life during the military rule. Everyday sumud strategies were through border economy and contact with their relatives across the border, which utilized the strong relationships between tribes. Smuggling goods was a central form of economic survival and sumud. Everyday resistance and nonviolent actions succeeded in marginalizing military rules, restrictions, and power, allowing the Bedouin to gain immediate benefits including many of their daily needs. The Bedouin maintained their cross-border relations and continued to resist cooperation with the Israeli military rule. Hosting their fellow refugees was a daily act of sumud by the Bedouin despite the imposition of new state borders. The Bedouin also found different avenues to claim their dispossessed properties, and continued to resist Israeli confiscation of their land. They lodged land claims through every level of military rule, responding to different Israeli forms of power and the effect of domination.
Italy and its oil dealings with Libya. Limits and obligations of a dependency: the difficult 1970s and 1980s
By: Silvio Labbate
Abstract: The strategic importance of Libya to Italy’s energy interests has been a constant feature of Italy’s attitude towards the republican regime which was recognized on 1 September 1969. This followed a tradition already well established by Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi’s (ENI) actions and, even earlier, by the presence of numerous Italians going back to the colonial period. However, Italy’s need for oil often clashed with the complex and changing personality of Gaddafi and created a relationship that was constantly at risk. The Italian government and ENI often found themselves in great difficulty because of the inconvenient demands of the Arab leader. The purpose of this article is to examine the development of this difficult oil relationship, focusing attention on both the 1970s and 1980s. There is a wealth of Italian literature on this subject but most of the studies examine only the start of the 1970s and the oil crisis of 1973. Although scholarly works reassessing this topic in English are rather limited, there exists an important international literature on Libyan history and the oil issue. New documentation now available at the Giulio Andreotti Archive of the Luigi Sturzo Institute Historical Archive makes it possible to complete this earlier research and to analyze the later years. Andreotti was the leading actor in the relationship with Gaddafi during the 1970s and 1980s and, in general, he was the most powerful and prominent Italian politician at least until the late 1980s. Consequently, this article mainly uses the unpublished documents of the Giulio Andreotti Archive and documentation from ENI’s Historical Archive. Thanks to these sources, it now appears possible to reconstruct in greater detail the decisive moments of the Italian–Libyan collaboration. The article, by retracing the key moments of this difficult relationship from the point of view of oil issues and examining in depth the complicated events of 1970s and 1980s, aims to highlight both the importance of energy supplies for Italy and the role played by both ENI and Andreotti in an attempt to maintain Italian oil interests in Libya.
Dispatches from Baghdad: sectarian war in Iraq, 2006–2007
By: Edward Hunt
Abstract: When the dissident media group WikiLeaks published more than a quarter-million US diplomatic cables from 2010 to 2011, it included thousands of cables written by US diplomats involved in the War in Iraq (2003–2011). Although the scholarly literature covers many aspects of the war from the perspective of US officials, it has largely excluded the viewpoints captured by the WikiLeaks cables. In this article, I use the cables to reveal the thinking of US diplomats during one of the most violent phases of the war, the sectarian war, which peaked from 2006 to 2007. The cables document the sectarian cleansing of Baghdad from 2006 to 2007 and provide new information about the factors that caused the rise and fall of sectarian violence. The cables show that US actions contributed to the sectarian violence.
Sri Lanka and the Middle East
By: Michael B. Bishku
Abstract: Sri Lanka is a small country with limited resources. Historically, its politics have been dominated by a Sinhalese/Buddhist majority. Non-alignment has been viewed as a matter of principle in foreign policy and as a means to provide for Sri Lanka’s political and economic security. Sri Lanka has had to balance its relations with the major powers and its immediate neighbours as well as Israel and its Arab and Muslim neighbours. The last relationship has been the most difficult to navigate and, at times, has had the appearance of expediency rather than consistency. Somehow, Sri Lanka has been able to navigate its way quite effectively in foreign relations, while domestic affairs have been another matter. While there are numerous studies on India’s and Pakistan’s relations with countries in the Middle East, Sri Lanka’s ties to the region have received little or no attention by scholars. This article intends to remedy the situation with a comprehensive historical examination.
A review of the Turco-Italian war of 1911–1912 and related letters of Enver Pasha
By: Syed Tanvir Wasti
Abstract: From the time of the 1877 Turco-Russian war till its disappearance from the stage of history in 1922, the Ottoman Empire was involved in decades of almost continuous war – in Europe, on the Russian front and in the Middle East. The conflict with Italy of 1911–1912 was an example of how powers in decline are forced into war in the face of peremptory demands from stronger neighbours. Italy's unprovoked attack on the Ottoman provinces of Libya in North Africa paved the way for the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 and indirectly also hastened the First World War. A group of Ottoman Turkish military officers along with their Arab and Berber Muslim allies in Libya made a heroic defensive stand and kept the Italian naval invasion pinned to the coastal beach-heads of Libya.
The new visual culture in eighteenth-century Istanbul: building up new shore kiosks and gardens on the outskirts of the royal palace
By: Ahmet Erdem Tozoglu
Abstract: This article examines the construction and expansion of a less-known royal shore kiosk complex in Istanbul, namely the Shore Palace near the Cannon Gate (Topkapısı Sahil Sarayı) or Summer Harem, which was built on the outskirts of the royal palace complex in the eighteenth century, to interpret the changing features of royal residential culture and spatial practices. In this article, I aim to propose a new thematic frame based on the central role of the issue of visuality to examine the shifting cultural paradigm of eighteenth-century royal patronage. The eighteenth century witnessed the physical expansion of the complex and renovation of the furnishings several times and the official records of these activities provide us with invaluable information for the visual construction of these buildings, which were torn down after a devastating fire in 1862. Furthermore, the choice of location and all physical changes in the interiors and gardens demonstrate the spatial results of the changing codes of visual culture in the cityscape. In this respect, examination of this case enables us to discuss how the new visual culture was adopted and exercised in and around the royal palace gardens by the royal court members.
Greasing the wheels: the Berlin-Baghdad railway and Ottoman oil, 1888–1907
By: Volkan Ş. Ediger, John V. Bowlus
Abstract: In the 1880s, Germany cultivated an alliance with the Ottoman Empire that led to a concession to build one of history’s most storied, diplomatically contentious, and financially challenging infrastructure projects: the Berlin-Baghdad Railroad. While Germany had many goals in pursuing the project, oil was the only way to make the railroad economic. Drawing on Ottoman archival sources, this article examines the policies and strategies of Sultan Abdülhamid II in relation to Germany’s attempt to develop Mesopotamian oil from German Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit to Istanbul in 1889 to the conclusion of Germany’s oil concession in 1906/7. It argues that Hamid pursued a pragmatic policy to develop and protect Ottoman oil from being dominated by the powers, especially the British Empire, and, in the process, seeks to reorient our understanding of great power interest in Middle East oil.
Remnants of empires: Russian refugees and citizenship regime in Turkey, 1923–1938
By: Pınar Üre
Abstract: In the early 1920s, Turkey hosted thousands Russian refugees, commonly known as White Russians, who fled from the Bolshevik regime and the Russian Civil War (1918–1922). Although most of these refugees continued their journeys towards Western Europe or North America, some of them opted to stay in Turkey and tried to integrate to the new republican regime that was established in 1923. This article examines the conditions in which refugees were given or denied Turkish citizenship to understand how inclusive the citizenship regime was in the interwar period. The temporal framework of the article spans from 1923 to the outbreak of the Second World War. This research suggests that most Russian refugees who became Turkish citizens throughout the 1920s and 1930s converted to Islam. This tendency proves the importance of religion in defining citizenship, despite the proclaimed secularity of the new regime.
Veiled memories: an ethnography of the single-party regime in Turkey
By: Ramazan Aras
Abstract: Under the omnipresence of surveillance, control and fear of the state as ontological signifiers, not only agency but also subjective and collective memories of people become unspeakable, hidden and veiled. This paper aims to underline the difficulties of doing ethnographic research on the secular Turkish state formation and its diverse apparatuses with a particular focus on the single-party regime that started in 1923 and ended in 1950. This work claims that fear of the state, inaccessibility of the state archives, the inscription of protective laws such as lèse-majesté for founding figures of the state, and the senility of survivors result in muteness, the emergence of politics of forgetting and remembering that diminish the possibility of studying relations between the authoritarian secular state and its Muslim subjects. It is argued that the hegemony of emotions of fear of the state and insecurity have turned historical and ethnographic research on the subject matter into a difficult one. Based on a recently conducted large-scale oral history study in different parts of Turkey, this paper also analyzes the resistance, resilience, and silence of mass Muslim population towards diverse forms of state-sponsored authoritarian secular politics along with western and Turkish nationalist top-down regulations of the new regime.
The 1931 census of Palestine and the statistical (un)making of an Arab landless class
By: Isaac Sasson, Ronen Shamir
Abstract: This study sits at the intersection of census-making, colonialism, and the politics of statistical expertise. It considers the Palestine Census that the country’s British rulers had undertaken in 1931. It focuses on British intentions to include questions that could have yielded data about the alleged emergence of an Arab ‘landless class’. The validation of such a category would have justified British restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine. We trace the trajectory of ‘landlessness’ as a statistical category. We show that disparity in statistical expertise between Arab and Jewish experts, and a parity between Jewish and British experts, played a decisive role in shaping the census schedule. Consequently, Arab landlessness failed to become a valid statistical category. Our case highlights British census-making in India as a broad colonial model to be applied in other colonies and to be used as a scientific justification for Britain’s various political agendas.
Old Arabs, new Arabs: debating Palestinian pedagogy during the mandate
By: Yoni Furas
Abstract: With the expansion of public education, Palestine under the British mandate witnessed the emergence of a local pedagogic discourse and the proliferation of pedagogic literature, led mainly by government employees. This study focuses on the biographies and pedagogic work of these Palestinian educators. Specifically, it analyses authorship of educators who were employed by the colonial Department of Education, a system that offered ambiguous objectives for the Arab population. It locates the new Arab, a knowledgeable, modern citizen of the world, yet one who is firmly tied to his national roots and cultural heritage, as the embodiment of the educational vision. Through textbooks, school journals and archival documents, the study shows the complex forms in which nationalism, authenticity and modernism were articulated in pedagogic literature. It argues that the acquisition of knowledge was perceived as the key for personal and collective emancipation, and investigates the mechanisms through which historical, geographic and religious knowledge were created, adapted and translated in order to serve this educational goal. Furthermore, it underlines the role of the Zionist settler colonial project in the construction of the new Arab’s image, therefore making Palestinian pedagogy a unique test case in the region’s scholarship on interwar education.
Ralph Bunche and the 1949 armistice agreements revisited
By: Elad Ben-Dror
Abstract: The African American UN mediator Ralph Bunche ended the 1948 Arab-Israeli war by getting the combatants to sign armistice agreements. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, Bunche became an international hero, acclaimed as the outstanding mediator of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This impression emerged almost immediately; everything written over the years corroborated it. But studies published after the turn of the century propagated a different view of Bunche as a weak mediator, manipulated by the Israelis and Americans. The present article, drawing on materials from archives and other sources (some of them available only in Hebrew), including new knowledge about Israeli plans for military operations while the talks were in progress (most of them remained on paper), casts a different light on those months. Analysing Bunche’s role in the negotiations (principally with Egypt and with Jordan), it shows that he ran the talks objectively and skilfully and prevented a renewal of the fighting – which would have resulted in an overwhelming Israeli victory, at the expense of the Arab countries and Palestinians.
Patronage and development in the Israeli Negev: Yeruham, 1952–1953
By: David Motzafi-Haller
Abstract: 1The article focuses on the early stages of the colonization of the Israeli Negev during the 1950s. It reconstructs the early stages of the settlement of Yeruham from the perspective of one local administrator, Shlomo Tamir, who managed the settlement for a one-year period, 1952–1953. Conceptualizing Tamir’s role as that of a mediator, it draws attention to the forming political structure of patronage and clientelism on the local level and the concomitant changes in the ‘big-man’ networks of pre-state elite networks as they expanded into Israel’s southern frontier. A micro historical analysis focused on Tamir’s deputies furnishes a discussion on the social make-up of the Israeli frontier, comprising of a typical frontier mixture of fortune seekers, opportunity hunters, semi-indentured laborers and upwardly mobile colonists.
Perception and reality in US-Lebanon relations
By: Jacob Abadi
Abstract: This article provides an analysis of US-Lebanese relations and it concentrates on the US intervention in Lebanon in the late 1950s and again in the early 1980s. It makes the following arguments: (a). despite its role as a shelter-providing country the US had little regard for Lebanon’s security or economic welfare. Its policy was on most occasions based on considerations, which usually affected the entire Middle East region and not only Lebanon. (b). The US government never considered nor discussed the need to perpetuate Christian rule in Lebanon. Its spokesmen have often made statements which were misinterpreted by the Lebanese, particularly the Maronites among them who believed that they were nothing less than commitments to guarantee that they remain at the helm. (c.) Despite the impression that one obtains from the cordial statements made by both sides the bilateral ties had been often marred by numerous occasions of tension and discontent. (d). Lebanon’s quest for a shelter-providing power entailed major sacrifices and concessions that its leaders had to make in order to continue receiving the benefits which the US could provide.
Review of Middle East Economics and Finance (Volume 15, Issue 3)
UAE Banks’ Performance and the Oil Price Shock: Evidence across Conventional and Islamic Banks
By: Magda Elsayed Kandil, Minko Markovski
Abstract: This study attempts to identify whether the oil price fall to a “new normal” in mid-September 2014 has had an impact on banks’ performance in the UAE, such as Return on Assets (ROA) and Return on Equity (ROE) in addition to credit and deposit growth. The sample is for a sample of 22 national banks in the country over a period of 15 quarters. The oil price fall has had a negative impact on all four banking indicators. In addition, the analysis evaluates the difference in ROA, ROE and credit and deposit growth by bank type, conventional vs. Islamic banks, across the sample of 22 banks. The results indicate that Islamic banks have a higher lending and deposit growth rates, however conventional banks tend to have better indicators of performance. Further, the oil price fall has impacted banks’ performance adversely, and the growth of assets and liabilities as a result of the slowdown in economic activity, fiscal consolidation, and decreasing levels of employment and corporate profitability. Further, Islamic banks, judged by lending and deposit growth, have managed to tailor their products to cater to a growing demand. However growth objectives appear to have reduced the margins of return in Islamic banks, compared to conventional banks.
The Impact of Fiscal Policy on Economic Activity over the Business Cycle: An Empirical Investigation in the Case of Algeria
By: Abderrahim Chibi, Sidi Mohamed Chekouri, Mohamed Benbouziane
Abstract: In this paper, we aim to analyze whether the effect of fiscal policy on economic growth in Algeria differs throughout the business cycle. To tackle this question, we use a Markov Switching Vector Autoregressive (MSVAR) framework. We find evidence of asymmetric effects of fiscal policy through regimes, defined by the state of the business cycle (recession and boom). The results show small positive government spending and revenue multipliers in the short term in both regimes. Most importantly, fiscal policy shocks have a stronger impact in times of economic recession than in times of expansion, which confirm the hypothesis of asymmetric effects. However, the impact of government spending is stronger than the impact of public revenue during recession periods. In addition, fiscal policy decision-makers interact with Anti-Keynesian view (pro-cyclical). Our results imply that there is something to gain by using the "right instrument" at the "right time".