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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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01/10/17

Jordan: Between IS and the Syrian Civil War

As Syria’s southern neighbour, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been deeply affected by every twist and turn of the Syrian war. Jordanian officials claim that anywhere from 650,000 to 1,300,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan since 2011, impacting the kingdom’s alreadyprecarious economy. But Jordanian officials are also worried about the security of their own borders, and especially of IS terrorism threatening Jordan both from without and from within. Jordanian security policy toward the Syrian war has shifted over the years, from an initial focus on the Assad regime to an absolute fixation on the dangers of IS. This article examines the shifts in Jordanian security priorities and in the kingdom’s responses to both wars: the war between Assad and the Syrian rebels, and the war between IS and the anti-IS coalition. With two wars across its northern border, Jordanian officials have considered multiple possible scenarios and outcomes of these conflicts, all of which seem negative for Jordan, varying only by degree.

Curtis R. Ryan is Professor of Political Science at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, USA. He is the author of many articles and chapters on Jordanian domestic politics and foreign policy, and has written two books: Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah (Lynne Rienner, 2002) and Inter-Arab Alliances: Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy (University Press of Florida, 2009). His latest book, Jordan and the Arab Uprisings, is forthcoming in 2018.

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01/10/17

Libya: A second home?

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has made several mistakes which have led – at least for the time being – to its failure in Libya. In 2016, the terrorists suffered a severe defeat in Sirte at the hands of Misrata militias and American air power. Nevertheless, the group was not entirely wiped out. In recent months IS has regained strength. It has regrouped in some more remote parts of Libya and renewed its attacks on carefully selected targets. After a successful re-consolidation, IS now has two strategic options in a still favourable environment. Libya could again be used as a major battleground, or its vast ungoverned spaces could serve as a safe haven in a global phase of weakness for the terrorist organisation.

Wolfgang Pusztai is a freelance security and policy analyst with a special focus on North Africa. Since 2016 he has been Chariman of the Advisory Board of the National Council on US-Libya Relations. He was also the Austrian defence attaché to Italy, Greece, Libya and Tunisia from 2007 to 2012, holding Master’s degrees from the University of Vienna (Political Science) and from the National Defense University/National War College in Washington D.C. (National Security Strategy; distinguished graduate).

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01/10/17

Syria after IS

The so-called Islamic State in Syria (IS) appears in terminal decline, assaulted by the US sponsored Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on one side and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, backed by his allies Russia and Iran, on the other. What does IS’ decline mean for the Syria conflict? This article explores the conflicting goals and priorities of the two main Syrian forces and their antagonistic external backers, as well as the remnants of IS, arguing that though the ‘Caliphate’ may have been defeated, new conflicts and instability may yet emerge from the fallout.

Christopher Phillips is Reader in International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London and Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa programme. He recently co-curated an exhibition, ‘Syria: A Conflict Explored’ at London’s Imperial War Museum, and is author of The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East (London: Yale University Press, 2016).

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01/10/17

Turkey’s Constitutional Referendum and its Effects on Turkish Politics

This contribution analyses the presidential system of government and its impacts on Turkish politics. First of all, this work elaborates the reasons of those who support a change of the current political system, addressing the current parliamentary system’s crises from a historical perspective. Subsequently, it explains why the system change was possible during the AKP era, even though different political parties have made efforts regarding this issue in the past. In this section, it refers to those crises that emerged within the system particularly during the AKP era. Furthermore, it addresses the crises’ facilitating role with regard to the people’s acceptance of the system change. In the third section, reasons for the AKP-MHP agreement, which was reached subsequent to the 15 July coup attempt, are addressed. The fourth part focuses on the presidential system of the government’s constitutional framework. In the final part, the transition period to the new system of government and the system’s impacts on Turkish politics are elaborated.

Nebi Miş is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Sakarya University and the Director of Political Studies at the SETA Foundation. His areas of research interest include political systems, democratisation in Turkey, political parties, civil-military relations and security politics in Turkey.

Burhanettin Duran is Professor at Ibn Haldun University and General Coordinator of SETA Foundation. Prof Duran has been focusing on the transformation of Islamism, Turkish Political Thought, Turkish Domestic Politics, Turkish Foreign Policy and Middle Eastern Politics

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01/10/17

The so-called Islamic State and the (slow but steady) radicalisation of Turkey

Turkey’s journey towards one-man rule and a new political system without checks and balances turned a new corner with the disputed national referendum on 16 April 2017. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won new powers from voters, which confirmed his consistent efforts over years to transform Turkey from a secular western democratic country into a political Islamist and authoritarian police state. Erdogan once said that democracy, for him, is not the objective but rather a tool, comparing it to a bus within a journey. “Once I get to my stop, I will get off.” Apparently, after highly controversial elections, Erdogan has arrived at his stop, and he has gotten off the democracy bus. This article analyses how Turkey has come to this juncture, what this change means for Turkey’s domestic and international politics, and how it will influence Turkey’s foreign policy towards the west and the security of the region.

Ahmet S. Yayla, is Adjunct Professor of Criminology, law, and Society at George Mason University. He is also senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). He formerly served as a professor and the chair of the sociology department at Harran University in Turkey. He also served as chief of the counterterrorism and operations department of the Turkish National Police in Sanliurfa between 2010 and 2013. He is the co-author of the newly released book ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate

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01/10/17

Turkey’s domestic politics spill-over to Europe: old debates in new frames

Turkey has been experiencing an authoritarian shift, which has affected its relations with Europe in a negative way. The recent referendum on various constitutional amendments, which proposed changing Turkey’s parliamentarian system to a presidential one, caused significant domestic tensions. The fact that the Turkish diaspora also participated in this political change via extraterritorial voting also diffused the tensions to the transnational space. In this article, I discuss the consequences of contemporary Turkish politics for the Turkish diaspora in Germany and in Europe at large, and explain the reasons behind the Turkish diaspora’s so-called ‘undemocratic remittances’.

Bahar Baser is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Peace, Trust and Social Relations. She is also an associate research fellow at the Security Institute for Governance and leadership in Africa (SIGlA), Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her book Diasporas and Homeland Conflicts: A Comparative Perspective was published by Routledge in 2015. She has two co-edited volumes forthcoming in 2017 from IB Tauris: Authoritarian Politics in Turkey (co-edited with Ahmet Erdi Ozturk) and Migration from Turkey to Sweden: Integration, Belonging and Transnational Community (co-edited with Paul levin).

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01/10/17

Iraq after IS: Reconstruction or deepening fragmentation?

Now that the so-called Islamic State (IS) has been dislodged from the city of Mosul, its most prestigious urban stronghold in Iraq, the remaining Iraqi enclaves under IS control will foreseeably all soon be conquered by forces belonging to the anti-IS coalition. While IS is being downgraded to a regular insurgent organisation without quasi-sovereign control over territory, the organisation will nevertheless remain a significant threat in Iraq, Syria, and the wider region. It would be grossly oversimplifying to reduce the Iraqi crisis to a kind of eternal clash of identities between the three main ethno-religious constituencies comprising Iraqi society. Rather than juxtaposing three unified political camps, the current situation is marked by the fragmentation of supposedly homogenous ethno-sectarian political blocs into competing factions among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. In order to rebuild Iraq and to prevent the comeback of IS or the future rise of a similar group among the marginalised Sunni Arab population of Iraq, the destructive logic of the ‘war on terror’ must be transcended in order to address a host of structural problems haunting the post-Saddam Iraqi state, such as the lack of effective economic and political inclusion of the Sunni Arab population into the power sharing system, the simmering conflict between the central government and the Kurdish regional government, the economic crisis and the problem of bad governance, and last but not least the meddling of competing external powers in Iraqi affairs.

Achim Rohde is a Middle East historian and scientific coordinator of the research network Re-Configurations. History, Remembrance, and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa at the Center for Near and Middle East Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg.

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01/10/17

Quo vadis Turkey-EU relations?

In this article Nilgün Arisan, after analysing the recent developments in Turkey–EU relations, question whether a total rupture is possible between the parties and answers her question by showing the low probability of such a nuclear option for both parties. Then, Arisan looks at the constituents of a transactional relationship and seeks to show that a transactional relationship totally based on realpolitik without any reference to universal values would be unethical and doomed to fail given the current circumstances.

Nilgün Arisan Eralp, after having worked in different government departments for 25 years on TurkeyEU relations, has started to work as the Director of the EU Center in the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey. During her time as a government official and then as a researcher she has been a part-time lecturer in various universities in Turkey. She has numerous publications on Turkey-EU relations

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01/10/17

The deepening of the Kurdish question in Turkey

The Kurdish question in Turkey has taken an ominous turn in the last two years. The collapse of the peace negotiations in the summer of 2015 led to an intensified return of violence and destruction. The failed coup attempt of 15th July 2016 provided the pretext for a campaign of repression against Kurdish political activism. A highly controversial referendum in April 2017 endorsed a presidential system with little legislative and judicial oversight of executive power, further hampering Kurdish political representation and access. This essay provides an overview of these developments and argues that democratic struggles and the Kurdish question in Turkey are more intertwined than ever. A broad cross-ethnic coalition represents the only viable way out of the current predicament.

Güneş Murat Tezcür (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2005) is the Jalal Talabani Chair of Kurdish Political Studies and the director of the Kurdish Political Studies Program, the first and only academic unit dedicated to the study of Kurdish issues in North America, at the University of Central Florida. His research on political violence, politics of identity, and democratisation has appeared in leading social science journals.

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01/10/17

Recent developments in the Turkish economy

During the past fifteen years of Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) rule Turkey has experienced important gains in income and living standards. Over the period 2002-2016, the real per capita income has increased by 78.5%, and the transformation into an industrial and service economy has been ongoing, with agriculture still accounting for 7.9% of GDP and 20.7% of total employment. However, Turkey’s catch-up with advanced economies has slowed since 2008, and progress has increasingly diverged from the historic record of the 2002-2007 period. Furthermore, political developments within Turkey and in the surrounding region started to have lasting influence on economic developments in Turkey.

Sübidey Togan is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for International Economics at Bilkent University in Ankara. He has published extensively on economic developments and liberalisation in Turkey.

Ömer Faruk Gençkaya is Professor for Political Science and Public Policy at Marmara University in Istanbul. His research interests include Public Administration, legislative Studies, women and Politics Research.

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01/10/16

Gulf politics: the energy factor

The implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in January 2016 is considered a major strategic and economic turning point. For years global powers had sought to contain Iran economically and diplomatically to force it to be more transparent regarding its nuclear programme. Iran has categorically denied any interest in nuclear weapons. The nuclear deal has opened the door for close cooperation and the re-integration of Iran in the regional and global systems. This essay examines Iran’s massive energy potentials and how these hydrocarbon resources can enhance europe’s energy security. The analysis suggests that such cooperation would reduce europe’s over-dependency on Russia and would be a win-win proposition to all parties.

Dr. Gawdat Bahgat is Professor of National Security Affairs at the National Defense University’s Near east South Asia Center for Strategic Study in Washington, DC. He is an egyptian-born specialist in Middle eastern policy, particularly egypt, Iran, and the Gulf region. His areas of expertise include energy security, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, counter-terrorism, Arab-Israeli conflict, North Africa, and American foreign policy in the Middle east.

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01/10/16

The Hajj and the future of Iranian-Saudi diplomatic relations

The annual Hajj ritual was halted once again at the beginning of 2016, with the result that Iranian pilgrims were not able to perform the ceremony this year. In the light of this, the article first examines the real cause of the cancellation of the Hajj after Iran and Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations in January 2016. It then discusses whether the Hajj has the potential to help the two countries restore their diplomatic ties. The research reveals that the main reason for the cancellation of the Hajj was geopolitical rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh. Indeed, the Hajj became politicized once again thanks to the serious rivalry between the two Middle eastern heavyweights, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The cold war that has coloured the two states’ relations did allow negotiations regarding the Hajj pilgrimage, but with no result. However, in the light of historical experience, the article argues that due to the religious, economic and political pressures and necessities that Saudi Arabia and Iran are likely to face in the near future, they have no choice but to restore diplomatic ties as well as open the Hajj ceremony once again to Iranians. Meanwhile, other countries like the United States consider that regional peace and stability can only result from compromise and participation between Tehran and Riyadh, so they support the likely rapprochement between the two states.

Reza Ekhtiari Amiri is Assistant Professor at the University of Mazandaran in Iran and a visiting research fellow at Iran’s Parliament Research Center. He is also a research fellow at the Center for Scientific Research and Middle east Strategic Studies. He is the author of Iran and Saudi Arabia: From economic to Security Cooperation (1991-2001) and co-editor of the book Political and Social Affairs of Iran in New Era.

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