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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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01/04/19

Balancing Trumpism: Transatlantic divergence in the Middle East

Is the Middle East the transatlantic alliance’s Achilles’ heel? Against the backdrop of global geopolitical shifts and a growing malaise in the relationship between Europe and the United States, it appears that they no longer want the same things there. Since the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, both sides have been actively trying to undermine each other in this region of core geopolitical interest to both. Although the basic US and European interests there remain aligned and there is tangible cooperation in some areas, their assessments and policies are drifting apart. The transatlantic partners’ clash on the two fundamental pillars of Middle Eastern geopolitics – Iran and Palestine – in practice means a diverging overall vision for the region. As the game in the Levant is increasingly being negotiated between Russia, Iran and Turkey, a transatlantic rivalry in the region will not only risk its further destabilisation but also hand Russia more opportunities to play Europe and the US in other geopolitical arenas.

Kristina Kausch is a Senior Resident Fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States’ (GMF) Brussels office. Her research focuses on Europe’s relations with the Middle East and North Africa, political transformations in the Arab world, and broader geopolitical trends in the Middle East.

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01/04/19

International actors in the Syrian conflict

Syria’s long and bloody civil war is seemingly winding down, but how will it conclude? Since the war’s beginning, regional and international powers have intervened to shape the conflict, enabling and hindering Syrian players on the ground, and these same actors will play a major part in determining the endgame. This article explores the involvement of Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Syria’s civil war and how their various priorities and policies have ultimately strengthened Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and weakened his various enemies, whether the rebels, Kurds or so-called Islamic State. Whether this can now be translated into a firm al-Assad victory, a negotiated settlement or a continuation of war will ultimately be more determined by the outside than by Damascus.

Christopher Phillips is Reader in International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London and an Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa programme. He has published in numerous academic journals and print media and is author of Everyday Arab Identity: The Daily Reproduction of the Arab World (London: Routledge, 2012) and The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East (London: Yale University Press, 2016 [paperback update 2018]).

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01/04/19

Orient II 2019

Christopher Phillips
International actors in the Syrian conflict

Kristina Kausch
Balancing Trumpism: Transatlantic divergence in the Middle East

Michael M. Gunter
The recent Kurdish struggle

Eleonora Ardemagni
Yemen’s nested conflict(s): Layers, geographies and feuds

Wolfgang Pusztai
Conflict resolution in Libya: What works?

Imad Salamey
Mitigating MENA communitarian conflicts through power sharing options

Sneha Roy
Macro analysis of gendered discourse in conflict resolution in MENA

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01/01/19

Orient I 2019

Anoushiravan Ehteshami
After the West: Russia and China in the Middle East

Robert Springborg
Globalisation and contentious politics in the MENA

James M. Dorsey
Geopolitics dominate Middle Eastern sports

Margret Johannsen
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict in its eighth decade

Jérôme Drevon
Transnational armed Salafi Jihadi networks: Emergence and development

Omar Eleish
The dilemma of counter-terrorism mechanisms in the MENA

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01/01/19

The dilemma of counter-terrorism mechanisms in the MENA

The Middle East has experienced prolonged terrorism campaigns, which shaped the rationality for some countries to increase their defence measures. The article’s hypothesis is that the increase in military spending, as a response to counter terrorism, can threaten economic security, leading to an increase in terrorism due to the negative relationship between terrorism and economic security. The study performs Panel vector Autoregressive Model (PvARM) by employing panel data consists of 10 Middle Eastern countries through the period of 1996-2016. The empirical analysis confirmed the validity of the article’s claim in the studied countries over the examined period.

Omar Eleish is an economist, recently graduated from the European Master in law and Economics (EMlE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam in October 2018. He obtained a B.Sc. degree in Economics from a joint program between loughborough University and the British University in Egypt. His research focus is within the economics of defence policy, cyber security, and industrial organisation.

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01/01/19

Transnational armed Salafi Jihadi networks: Emergence and development

Salafi Jihadi transnational radical networks have captured public attention with world-wide mobilisation in support of their approach to Islam and opposition to their Muslim and non Muslim opponents. Born at the intersection of the Palestinian question, the Salafi religious revival, and the domestic failures of the Arab-Muslim world, these networks became embroiled in armed conflicts in the Muslim world before transferring the battlefield to Western countries. This article provides a historical retrospective of their emergence and development with a focus on notable turning points.

Jérôme Drevon is a research fellow at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies of Geneva. He is particularly interested in civil wars, political violence, and Islamist and jihadi groups’ strategic developments.

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01/01/19

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict in its eigth decade

This article discusses various ways to achieve a fully-fledged state existence for Palestine. It takes stock of Palestine’s diplomatic successes, contrasts them with the limited national self determination under the conditions of Israeli occupation, discusses whether the virtual state with its activities on the international stage can approach a state of real and recognised statehood, and examines the question of what possibilities are available ‘on the ground’ for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: a division of the country between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea or federal models of coexistence between the two nations.

Margret Johannsen is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg. Her main research interest is the peace process in the Middle East with special emphasis on state-building.

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01/01/19

Geopolitics dominate Middle Eastern sports

Sport has long played a key role in the development and politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Increasingly it has become a battlefield in the region’s multiple disputes as well as the effort of states to garner soft power, enhance their regional and global influence, punch above their weight, and undermine their rivals. The battlefields are numerous. They include the 2022 Qatar World Cup, institutions of global governance such as world soccer body FIFA and its Asian affiliate, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), media broadcasting rights, and in numerous incidents national football associations and some of the Middle East and North Africa’s most prestigious clubs. The strategies and tactics adopted in the sports diplomacy of the various nations are mirror images of their various regimes. Nevertheless, taken together, the battles make a mockery of the insistence of international sports associations that sports and politics are unrelated and separate and threaten to undermine the integrity of global sports governance.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture.

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01/01/19

Globalisation and contentious politics in the MENA

Globalisation is widely accused in the MENA of being a false flag for neo-colonialism. Paradoxically it is the slowing of globalisation that poses the greater threat to the region’s political economies because it puts downward pressure on oil and gas prices, renders more difficult the challenge of diversifying economies away from hydrocarbons, and reduces pressures for reform of authoritarian orders. The MENA, in sum, missed a golden opportunity to benefit from the post-Cold War globalisation wave by failing to liberalise its economies and polities while moving up production ladders.

Robert Springborg is research fellow at the Italian Institute of International Affairs in Rome; and Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. His most recent book is Egypt.

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01/01/19

After the West: Russia and China in the Middle East

Since the Second World War the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been the geopolitical arena in which great and major powers have flexed their muscles and, in pursuit of their global ambitions, have tried to dominate this strategic regional system and exclude their rivals from it. The United States and its Western allies, thus, came to dominate the MENA region. But, since the end of the Cold War and the global transitions which have shifted the balance of economic power from the Atlantic to the East, the West’s supremacy is no longer assured. Global transitions, also known as systemic shift, are arguably also leaving their mark on the external balance of power in this highly penetrated regional system. This article takes stock of this process of change.

Anoushiravan Ehteshami is Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs, and Fellow of University College at Durham University. He is the Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah Chair in International Relations and Director of the HH Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah Programme in International Relations, Regional Politics and Security. He is, further, Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies (IMEIS) at Durham, one of the oldest and noted centres of excellence in Middle Eastern studies in Europe.

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01/10/18

Economic deprivation, political de-legitimacy and the rise of new citizen movements in the MENA region

While the Arab Spring is seen as a failure, except perhaps for Tunisia, this article argues that because conditions for uprisings in favor of citizen rights are still strong new citizen movements will continue to re-emerge throughout the Middle East in protest against economic deprivation and political corruption. Two in particular are analyzed: the Basra movement and Hirak in the Moroccan Rif.

Roel Meijer is Associate Professor, teaching Middle East history and politics at Radboud University, Nijmegen, Department of Religious Studies.

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01/10/18

Solid waste management in the MENA region: A comparative analysis of Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia

This paper compares solid waste management in Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia; countries that are at different stages in terms of waste management but they share similarities pertaining to waste practices, sources and types of waste, demographics, waste infrastructure, and governing systems. By applying a cross-country comparison, similarities are identified and differences pertaining to the governance of the sector highlighted. The effort would help establish an exchange platform for policy-related issues and lessons learned.

Yasmina El Amine is an environmental scientist, and current project coordinator at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut (AUB). She holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health from AUB, and a Master of Science in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London, with a focus on water Management. Her research interests are at the interface of climate change, water security, sustainability, and development, framed through an interdisciplinary, and systems-thinking lens.

Chafik Abdallah is a Research Assistant at Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and Inter-national Affairs in American University of Beirut. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Agriculture, Diploma of Agricultural Engineer, and a Master’s of Science in Irrigation and water Resources Management, all from the American University of Beirut. His research interests revolve around water management and use, efficient irrigation design, remote sensing and climate change.

Rana El Hajj is program manager for Climate Change and Environment at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut (AUB). In her current capacity El Hajj works on advancing and linking research to policy on climate change related topics in Lebanon and the Middle East and North Africa region and on bridging the gap between different stakeholders. Current focus areas include climate change adaptation; waterenergy-food security nexus; regional security; water governance; and resilience in cities.

Nadim Farajalla is the director of the Climate Change and the Environment Program at the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. His current research focuses on the impact of climate change on human settlements and activities with focus on adaptation and resilience; the nexus of water-energy-food security and climate change; and recovery of devastated land due to anthropogenic activities such as wars, farming, quarrying, etc.

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