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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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01/07/19

Turkey and the EU: From accession to estrangement?

Turkey’s relations with Europe are as long as they are contested. Basically, they represent a moving target with sharp u-turns involved that challenge the relationship. Turkey-EU relations are hence on a rollercoaster ride between accession and estrangement that has been lately on a full downswing with conflicts minimising chances for a closer relationship. However, so far, the so-called ‘train crash’ has been avoided. One relevant question that shall guide this article therefore is, what keeps the rollercoaster on track and what can slow the ride down to a convenient speed. The question of the appropriate framework for such a relationship will guide the concluding outlook on the analysis of what holds the two sides together and what drives them apart.

Funda Tekin is director of the Institute for European Politics in Berlin. Previously, she was vice director of the Centre for Turkey and European Union Studies at the University of Cologne where she directed the H2020 project FEUTURE – the Future of EU-Turkey Relations and the Jean Monnet Network Enhancing Visibility of the Academic Dialogue on EU-Turkey Cooperation. In addition to EU-Turkey relations she has published on flexible integration, BREXIT, and on various aspects of the decision-making procedures in the EU.

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01/07/19

The state of dis-Union: The EU and Europe in the MENA region since 2011

In the past decade, several countries in the Middle East and North Africa have undergone dramatic changes, and with one exception – Tunisia – turmoil has resulted in civil wars, mass population displacements, unprecedented destruction, new forms of creeping authoritarianism, and increasing violent penetration from regional and extra-regional powers. With the exception of Iran, where Europe has displayed a consistently transformative approach, oriented not just to the suspension of Iranian uranium enrichment, but also to the normalisation of the country’s diplomatic relations both in the region and on the global scale, in key other regional instances Europe has been either a passive bystander when political space has been closed (Morocco, and even more so, post-2013 Egypt), thereby reinforcing ongoing trends favouring authoritarian reconfigurations, or has contributed to destabilising countries (the intervention in Libya in 2011 and the intra-EU split since then). The ‘principled pragmatist’ rhetoric has concealed a laissez-faire attitude which has emboldened new manifestations of foreign policy assertiveness and aggressiveness by both regional (Saudi Arabia, the Emirati, Turkey) and extra-regional players (mostly Russia) which are re-shaping regional power hierarchies, to the detriment of Europe and the US.

Ruth Hanau Santini is Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations at Università L’Orientale in Naples. She has previously worked at The Brookings Institution in Washington, served as foreign policy consultant to the Italian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister in 2012-2013 and has coordinated two international research projects on Citizenship after the Arab Uprisings (EUSPRING) and on Grassroots’ mobilisation in the Arab World since 2011 (STREETPOL). Her research focuses on European foreign policy, popular protests in the Arab world and geopolitics of the MENA region. On a more theoretical level she is interested in issues pertaining to regional orders, hierarchy and status-seeking behaviour.

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01/04/19

Macro analysis of gendered discourse in conflict resolution in MENA

The article explores conspicuous and controversial facets of the gendered discourse of conflict resolution in MENA. It (re)problematizes issues of inclusivity and effectiveness of conflict resolution processes while adopting a critical macro-analytical perspective to unpack the relationship between gender and armed conflict, focusing on ways women are affected by conflict and can influence its resolution; as well as how conflict and its management in the MENA region has impacts on Europe.

Sneha Roy is a second year doctorate student at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She is an anthropologist by her academic training; a former Commonwealth scholar, a fellow of KAICIID International Dialogue Centre, a fellow of Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, and a youth advocate with UNESCO.

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01/04/19

Mitigating MENA communitarian conflicts through power-sharing options

The erosion of Arab nation states is attributed to an embedded legitimacy deficit and the deconstruction of geographic barriers. The latest proliferation of cross-national communal conflicts along sectarian, ethnic, and tribal lines expresses the clear intentions of communities to reconstruct the state and renegotiate new terms of the social contract. The politics of communitarian existentialism and collective mobilisations characterise contemporary contention, which calls for communitarian solutions to intercommunitarian problems. A communitocracy is proposed as a viable conflict-mitigating arrangement that assures communitarian powersharing based on the politics of consensus.

Imad Salamey is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Lebanese American University. His books The Decline of Nation-States after the Arab Spring: the Rise of Communitocracy (Routledge, 2017) and Post-Conflict PowerSharing Agreements: Options for Syria (Palgrave, 2018) survey the root causes of rising ethnic and sectarian polarisation and post-conflict peace building options in the MENA countries. Salamey serves as a policy consultant and advisor for various international and regional organisations.

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01/04/19

Conflict resolution in Libya: What works?

Various conflict resolution efforts unfortunately did not lead to a stabilisation of Libya. Actually, the situation is getting increasingly dangerous. A new strategy must be developed. It needs to include all four instruments of power in a coordinated way. A complimentary contribution of the various conflict resolution mechanisms and efforts is paramount. As a leading EU member and currently with a seat in the UNSC, Germany is in a unique position to shape and coordinate such a strategy.

Wolfgang Pusztai is a freelance Security & Policy Analyst with a special focus on North Africa. He was the Austrian Defense Attache to Italy, Greece, Libya and Tunisia from 2007 to 2012. He has Master’s Degree 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). He is a Director of the California-based advisory company Perim Associates. Since 2016 he is the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the National Council on U.S.-Libya Relations.

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01/04/19

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

Due to the 2015 civil war, Yemen’s national order has vanished. Whatever viable attempt of conflict resolution must take into account a variety of existing micro-orders on a local basis. Deconstructing Yemen’s layers of conflict, this essay traces post-2015 internal transformations of power, arguing that Yemen has started a process of gradual feudalisation, based on militias and warlords, thus shifting from a multiple geographies scheme to an archipelagolike system of connected but rival feuds.

Eleonora Ardemagni is an expert of Yemen, Gulf monarchies and Arab military forces, and Associate Research Fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), teaching assistant at the Catholic University of Milan and Gulf analyst for the NATO Defense College Foundation.

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01/04/19

The recent Kurdish struggle

The Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the two Gulf wars against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and 2003, and the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, are the main reasons the long-lasting Kurdish struggle recently has come to play such an increasingly important role in Middle Eastern and even international affairs. In addition, the resulting rise of both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq and also another, albeit less established Kurdish government in northeastern Syria, called Rojava (now broadened into the Federation of Northern Syria to include the many other ethnic and sectarian groups that live there), has given the Kurds additional de facto institutional existence and even recognition.

Furthermore, the continuing insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, its spillover into neighbouring Iraq and Syria, its peace talks with Ankara from 2009 to 2015 and its de facto alliance with the United States to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria have given the PKK an importance inconceivable a mere decade ago. For example, the PKK played an important role on the ground in Sinjar, Iraq to help rescue the embattled Yezidis from the genocidal IS Jihadis in 2014. Even more, the PKK, through its Syrian affiliate, the Syrian Democratic Forces/Democratic Union Party/Peoples Defense Units (SDF/PYD/YPG), proved the indispensable boots on the ground that defeated IS in such dramatic battles as Kobane (2014-2015) and Raqqa (2017), among others. US air and advisory support, of course, were existential in these battles, which also brought Turkey, Iran, Russia, Iraq and Syria, among others, into the equation. The purpose of this article is to analyse the recent Kurdish struggle regarding the failed independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, the US-Turkish confrontation in Syria, and their continuing profound effects upon Middle Eastern and international politics.

Michael M. Gunter is a Professor of Political Science at Tennessee Technological University. He has published 15 books and over 100 articles on the Kurdish problem. Currently, he is the Secretary-General of the EU Turkey Civic Commission in Brussels and a member of the advisory board of the Turkish Heritage Organization in Washington, DC.

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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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