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

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14/07/22

Sports sponsorship and Gulf geopolitics

Elite sport sponsorship has become a significant trend in the Arabian Peninsula, where local leaders see investment in high-profile teams and events as a way to shape foreign relations beyond the region – primarily with Europe. Sports sponsorship also factors into intra-regional geopolitics among the Gulf countries, including both cooperation and competition. This article considers both sides of sports sponsorship geopolitics – beyond and within the Gulf – while also recognising that the two orientations are not separate.

Natalie Koch is Professor of Geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She is a political geographer working on authoritarianism, geopolitics and the territorial state system. Her empirical research in the Arabian Peninsula focuses on alternative sites of geopolitical analysis, including sports, science, environmental policy and urban development. She is the editor of the new book Spatializing Authoritarianism (Syracuse University Press, 2022) as well as Critical geographies of sport: Space, power, and sport in global perspective (Routledge, 2017). In August 2022, she will begin as the new Professor of Human Geography at Heidelberg University.

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14/07/22

Evolving intraregional security perceptions in the UAE

This article addresses the shifting security perceptions in the UAE. It argues that after a phase of power projection, the UAE has been pursuing a more pragmatic regional foreign policy to consolidate geopolitical influence and power. Efforts at rapprochement between adversaries serve the UAE’s objective to assert itself and to maintain regional stability under a fragile balance of power that materialised when the US began to disengage from the Middle East.

Anna Reuß is a doctoral researcher at the Chair of International Politics and Conflict Studies at the University of the Bundeswehr, Munich. Her research focuses on conceptual and regional aspects of security in International Relations.

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14/07/22

Stalled cooperation and the destabilisation of the Maghreb

This article aims to explain the factors that contributed to the Great Maghreb’s dream becoming a mirage. Although the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) was established in 1988, it has been unable to achieve regional cooperation due to the competing national action agendas of member states, particularly Morocco and Algeria. The article concludes that the rise of hybrid threats following the Arab Spring has exacerbated instability in the Maghreb region and beyond.

Hamdy A. Hassan is Professor of Political Science at Zayed University, Dubai, UAE. He is also a Co-Chair of RC44 – Security, Conflict and Democratization, IPSA, receiving his Ph.D. in Comparative Politics from Cairo University and Maryland University (1990). In 1999 he was granted an Egyptian State Award in Political Science. His research focuses on African Politics, Conflict & Security Studies, Radicalisation and Islamic Discourse.

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14/07/22

Geopolitical shift in the Gulf after the Abraham Accords

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords on 15 September 2020, trade and business interactions have expanded rapidly in the region, with the first free-trade agreement between Israel and an Arab state – the UAE – finalised on 31 May 2022. However, the raison d’être of this accords lies with Iranian threat in a context of mistrust with US disengagement in the MENA region. Considering that washington fully supports the Israel-Gulf entente, the Abraham Accords appear advantageous to US policy in encouraging the building of business ties and creation of new security arrangements in the hope of seeing its partners distance themselves from China.

Fatiha Dazi-Héni is a researcher in Political Science on Arab monarchies at the Institute for Strategic Research at the Military School in Paris and Associated Professor on Contemporary History in the Arabian Peninsula at the Political Institute of lille. Her publications include Monarchie et Sociétés d’Arabie. Le temps des confrontations (Presses de Sciences PO, 2006) and L’Arabie Saoudite en 100 questions, edited 3 times (Editions Tallendier: 2017, and Texto: 2018 and 2020). She has also published many articles on GCC states and societies as well as on sub-regional dynamics.

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14/07/22

Intra-GCC state relations: Re-assessing the balance of power

Relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council states over the next few years are expected to prove highly fluid and be driven by multiple factors, including (in approximate order of importance): shared economic opportunities; economic assistance; economic competition; alignments against perceived external hard power threats; and alignments against perceived transnational political threats. Investigating this apparent re-prioritisation of issues, this article demonstrates how longstanding diplomatic blocs and the former intra-GCC balance of power are effectively being replaced by ad hoc foreign policies predicated on remarkably strong bilateral economic relationships (and in some cases significant economic competition).

Christopher M. Davidson is an associate fellow of the Henry Jackson Society, a former reader in Middle East politics at Durham University, a former visiting associate professor at Kyoto University in Japan and a former assistant professor at Zayed University in the UAE. His books include From Sheikhs to Sultanism: Statecraft and Authority in Saudi Arabia and The UAE and Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East.

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10/07/22

Sitting in glass houses: Double standards haunt US and Europe in dispute with Turkey

Underlying tensions between Turkey and its fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members are Kurdish ethnic, cultural and national aspirations, one of the Middle East’s unexploded powder kegs. with Turkey’s objection to Swedish and Finnish NATO membership, the United States and Europe’s refusal to adhere to principles of the NATO charter and democratic values has come home to roost. The Kurdish issue is likely to remain a ticking time bomb under whatever deal on the NATO membership of the two Nordic states is ultimately made.

James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist and scholar, Adjunct Senior Fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, and the author of the syndicated column and blog The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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