Image

The Journal for politics, economics, and culture of the Middle East published by the German Orient-Institute

Shop

Full Issues

Articles

Topics

Keywords

21/06/22

Saudi Arabia’s new politics: Motives, risks, and the rule of law

Saudi Arabia’s ‘anti-corruption drive’, which began in earnest in November 2017, is a seismic event in the kingdom’s history. Drawing on a range of interviews, local media, and other sources, this article suggests it has been predicated on multiple, inter-connected motives, and that it will have serious ramifications for Saudi Arabia’s political stability and its capacity to successfully reshape its struggling economy. Most obviously, it will contribute directly to either the success or failure of the new crown prince’s efforts to offset the impact of urgent austerity measures while simultaneously trying to forge a new and more populist relationship with the broader citizenry.

Christopher M. Davidson is a reader in Middle East Politics at Durham University in the United Kingdom. He is also a visiting fellow at leiden University College in the Netherlands and an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, london. His work focuses on the comparative politics of the Middle East, and especially the Gulf states.

Add to basket
02/06/22

A nuanced look and equal footing – Expectations towards the new German government: A view from Cairo

Relations between Egypt and Germany at large are excellent. Close cooperation can be found in many sectors of society and economy. The Egyptian perception of Germany is very positive, not least thanks to Angela Merkel. Whether the new German government can build on those merits will depend on how well it understands Egyptian needs, demands and sensitivities.

Alexander Niedermeier is the DAAD long-Term Full-Time visiting Professor of Political science and International Political Economy at the Faculty of Economics and Political science of Cairo University, where he has been teaching International Relations & Foreign Policy, security studies, Energy and Environmental studies and Political Economy since 2018. He is also visiting Professor for International Business law, Commercial law and legal Ethics at the Cairo Campus of EslsCA University Business school. In 2021, he was appointed as a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Public Policies in Egypt (IJPPE), edited by the Information and Decision support Center of the Cabinet of Egypt.

Add to basket
02/06/22

The impact of civil society on building democracy and promoting liberalism in Tunisia

This article starts by briefly defining the concept of civil society and then reviews the literature on the role of CsOs in post-conflict countries based on empirical evidence. The subsequent sections examine the causes behind the Tunisian revolution, and critically analyse the involvement of CsOs in building democracy and promoting liberalism following the revolution. The article concludes that the role of civil society in Tunisia was critical to the country’s transition to democracy and to its discourse for liberal reform. Therefore, governments should create opportunities for CsOs to positively contribute towards these political transitions. However, there are other factors beyond civil society, such as state legitimacy, that also have a bearing on the ultimate success or failure of political settlements. Finally, the article argues that CsOs will be able to help a political transition in a country if they consider advocating for not only a democratic state but also for a liberal democratic state, as in the ongoing case in Tunisia.

Nadia Naccache is currently working as Program Development Advisor for Resilience and Community Empowerment project in Tunisia with FHI 360, holding two master degrees: an Msc in International Development from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom and a Master of Research in Management and strategy from the Institute of Higher Commercial studies (IHEC Carthage). she has extensive cross-cultural experience in international development with international NGOs in different multicultural contexts, where she has undertaken research on topics such as the youth’s economic inclusion, education and employment in Tunisia, social entrepreneurship in Poland and female activism in Tunisia before and after the revolution. Passionate about the international development sector, she has been working on projects addressing issues related to youth, culture, education, youth’s economic inclusion, gender and development.

Add to basket
02/06/22

Towards a more active role for Germany in Palestine

This article presents mechanisms to enhance the German role in the Palestinian issue and the possibilities of future intervention in both the Palestinian-Palestinian and Palestinian-Israeli tracks. It discusses the manifestations of power in Germany, the nature of its relationship with the Palestinians as well as its history and development in its diplomatic forms, before clarifying its strong and extended relationship with Israel and considering this as an important entry point to establish a more effective German role in the presence of the new traffic-light coalition government. This role could support intervention in four main issues: a) internal Palestinian reconciliation, b) peace process dialogue, c) democracy, governance and institution-building, d) the Gaza strip and humanitarian issues. The article is based on the assumption that Germany is underutilising its rich inventory and has all the resources to play a much more active role in the world’s general stability as well as prosperity in the Middle East. It identifies a surplus of power in Germany which could be directed towards resolving important international issues such as the Palestinian issue, which we, as Palestinians, believe Germany has the potential to do so efficiently.

Omar Shaban is a Palestinian living in Gaza. He is an analyst on political economy of the Middle East, the founder of the Pal Think for strategic studies and was a candidate for the first Palestinian parliamentary elections in 1996. Regularly writing for various international magazines, he has been interviewed by many well-known international newspapers and occasionally participates in conferences on political and economic issues as well as Palestinian affairs, such as the reconstruction of Gaza, the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Euro-Med cooperation. He holds a BA in Economy from Egypt (1984), and a Msc. degree in Entrepreneurial studies from stirling University, scotland (1995).

Add to basket
28/05/22

Moroccan-German bilateral cooperation: Historical roots and future perspectives

Initially developed around trade and economy, Moroccan-German bilateral relations gradually expanded to cover a variety of fields. Both countries are pivotal in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and have common interests in certain fields, like the management of migration, renewable energies and regionalisation. The following paper is an analysis of the GermanMoroccan bilateral cooperation on the light of past interactions and future perspectives

Amal El Ouassif is an international relations specialist in Rabat, Morocco. Prior to this, she worked as a programme coordinator at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and served as a consultant in development policies with the office of the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Morocco. she is also a former Blue Book trainee in the Directorate General of Employment social Affairs and Inclusion in the European Commission in Brussels. With a Master of Art in the EU’s International Relations and Diplomacy studies from the College of Europe in Bruges and a Master in Development studies from UPMF-Grenoble, her areas of interest include Africa-Europe cooperation, mobility and migration.

Add to basket
28/05/22

Germany-GCC relations: Continuities, priorities and Atlanticism

Germany has close political relations with Israel and long-standing relations with Iran, but its interactions with the Gulf Cooperation Council states have tended to lag behind other international actors. Notwithstanding an elusive European Union-GCC free trade agreement, German economic cooperation with its top trade partners in the region, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, is expanding in line with opportunities presented by their respective “vision” strategies. However, there are other factors which continue to influence Germany’s engagement in the Gulf. These include Berlin’s application of values, preference for multilateralism within the context of self-interest, influence from the Us, changes in the international system and other competing (foreign) policy priorities, notably rising NATO-Russia tensions.

Robert Mason is a non-resident fellow with the Arab Gulf states Institute in Washington. He specialises in the foreign policies and international relations of the Gulf.

Add to basket
04/04/22

German-Turkish cultural and educational relations after the German elections: A new golden era?

The last coalition government of the social Democratic Party and the Green Party was a “golden era” of German-Turkish relations. At the same time, external cultural and educational policies (ECEP) were redefined and their importance highlighted. This article addresses the question what the chances are for a revitalisation of ECEP in Turkey under the coalition government. To do so, it summarises the new government’s position on the role of ECEP in GermanTurkish relations and their potential in times of crisis.

Elena Dück is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for social science at the Christian Albrecht University of Kiel. Her research interests include German-Turkish relations, populism and theories of International Relations.

Add to basket
04/04/22

Why “democracy promotion” should play no role in a values-based German foreign policy in the MENA region

In order to support democratic ideals of socio-economic justice, public participation and representation, established efforts at “democracy promotion” in the MENA must be abandoned. The promotion of procedural democracy has proven to be reconcilable with socio-economic authoritarianisms and presents no challenge to authoritarian power structures. Counterintuitively, I argue that a values-based German foreign policy in the MENA requires less, not more programmes aimed at the promotion of democratic values and instead should be based on the mainstreaming of such values into all spheres of German foreign policy itself as well as on the promotion of new forms of transregional democratic solidarity and understanding.

Benjamin Schuetze is Junior Fellow at the Young Academy for sustainability Research at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced studies (FRIAs) and Associate Researcher at the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI). His research focuses on the political economy of renewable energies in the MENA region and on Us and European attempts at “democracy promotion”. He is the author of Promoting Democracy, Reinforcing Authoritarianism: US and European Policy in Jordan (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and various academic journal articles. He has recently been admitted to the DFG Emmy Noether-Programme and is in the process of establishing a junior research group on “Renewable Energies, Renewed Authoritarianisms? The Political Economy of solar Energy in the Middle East and North Africa”.

Add to basket
04/04/22

Re-visioning Germany’s democracy promotion in the Arab World

This article briefly investigates German democracy promotion in the Arab world since the 2011 popular uprisings and revolutions. It seeks a parsimonious discourse analysis, looking at Germany’s “democracy-promotion speak” during the Merkel era. A constructivist frame lends itself to exploration of the interplay between norms and interests when it comes to fostering Arab democracy as a subset of German foreign policy. As the Arab world has slid further into a “crisis of democratisation”, so too has German democracy promotion. It seemed to buckle in rising to challenges of resurgent authoritarianism. Despite setbacks, the contention here is that the new German government should not abandon the democratic impulse in dealing with the region. Policies should be attuned to socio-economic deprivation and marginalisation as development spills into democratisation. Filtered through a “democratic learning loop” rooted in parity and mutuality, German support for Arab civil society can still enhance pro-democracy activism and civic practices.

Larbi Sadiki is Professor of Arab Democratization at Qatar University. A graduate of ANU’s Politics and International Relations programme (PhD: 1997) and taught at its Centre for Arab and Islamic studies as well as the University of Exeter in the UK. He has published numerous books on questions surrounding democratisation in the Arab World and was lead Principal Investigator in the four-year project titled “Transitions of Islam and Democracy: Engendering ‘Democratic learning’ and Civic Identities”, a Qatar National Research Fund Grant. He is the editor of the Routledge series on Middle Eastern Democratization and Government and the new Brill journal Protest. He is also co-founder of the Tunis-based research and advocacy centre Demos: Center for Democratic sustainability.

Layla Saleh is Associate Professor of Political science at Qatar University’s Department of International Affairs. she is author of numerous journal articles and book chapters and the book US Hard Power in the Arab World: Resistance, the Syrian Uprising, and the War on Terror (Routledge, 2017). she is also Associate Editor of the Brill journal Protest and co-founder of the Tunis-based research and advocacy centre Demos: Center for Democratic sustainability.

Add to basket
04/04/22

German democracy promotion: The German political foundations in the MENA region

The seven German political foundations are an essential part of German foreign policy. Due to their secured funding through German tax money paired with access to key political decision-makers, they are a unique institutional construction acting as a hybrid between an independent NGO and a state-funded think tank. For decades they have maintained offices and projects in the whole MENA region, shaping democratic developments in project countries and therefore contributing to German foreign policy on a soft-power level. This contribution reflects on their current activities in the MENA region, on their challenges and also on the possible impact of the change in German government on the foundations’ work.

Katharina Konarek the director of the Haifa Center for German and European studies (HCGEs) at the University of Haifa. she is a political scientist with a specialisation on German and European foreign policy. Her regional focus is on Israel and Palestine. In her PhD, conducted at the Bundeswehr University of Munich, she examines the role of the German political foundations in Israel and Palestine. Her book The German political foundations’ work between Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv. A Kaleidoscope of Different Perspectives was published in 2018 by springer vs.

Add to basket
05/01/22

China’s anxiety over Afghanistan

Since December 2009, during the Obama administration’s ”surge-then-exit” policy in Afghanistan, China’s anxiety over harmful spillover in Central Asia and Xinjiang has increased. As a result, the fall of Kabul in August 2021 prompted Beijing to enter crisis-management mode. China’s pragmatic position in dealing with the Taliban, compared to its previous refusal to engage with the Islamic Emirate in 1996, reflects Beijing’s concerns over the rise of Islamist terrorism, a new wave of refugees and increased narcotics trafficking. At the same time, the different tone in messages from Beijing and Moscow amounts to a good cop, bad cop division of labour between the two powers. It reflects more than a basic vision of Russia shouldering the burden of security for its near abroad while China focuses on economic development in Central Asia. The division between China and Russia is multi-layered and less clear-cut than meets the eye. Despite counting on Russian military prowess and ability to respond quickly, China has built its first military post in the region in a remote corner of the Tajik-Afghan border. China’s functional relations with the Taliban are bent on constructive engagement with the new government, to the extent of opening a pathway for them into the international system in order to avert a looming humanitarian crisis.

Alessandro Arduino is the principal research fellow at the Middle East Institute (MEI), National University of Singapore. He is the co-director of the Security & Crisis Management International Centre at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science (SASS) and an associate at Lau China Institute, King’s College London. His two decades of experience in China encompasses security analysis and crisis management. His main research interests include China, Central Asia and Middle East and North Africa relations, sovereign wealth funds, private military/security companies and China’s security and foreign policy. Alessandro is the author of several books and has published papers and commentaries in various journals in Italian, English and Chinese. His most recent book is China’s Private Army: Protecting the New Silk Road (Palgrave, 2018).

Add to basket
30/12/21

A brief history of international influence in Afghanistan

International influence has long played a role in the conflict dynamics in Afghanistan. The United States and the Soviet Union famously waged a proxy war in the country, and since the September 11th terrorist attacks the country has featured prominently in the US-led “war on terror.” But while the conflicts in Afghanistan have long been internationalised, the roots of foreign ideological influence on the country’s political dynamics pre-date the outbreak of the jihad and ensuing cycles of insurgency. As a new regime begins to coalesce in Kabul, it is important to keep in mind the role that influence from abroad has played in shaping some of the features of Afghan statehood.

Julian Tucker is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm, Sweden. He holds an MA in Central Asian Studies from the Humboldt University in Berlin and a BA in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Language from McGill University. His research interests include the post-Soviet development in Central Asia, the political history of Afghanistan, Chinese regional diplomacy and responses to climate change.

Add to basket