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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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01/01/18

The looming peace in Syria: A dilemma for the UN

The paper analyses the role of the United Nations in Syria, and that of major powers who influence the UN and global events. It argues that the Astana process has marginalised the UN-led Geneva negotiations and is about to petrify a status quo with Bashar al-Assad regaining most of the Syrian territory and remaining in power. UN’s official trusteeship of such a final agreement would de facto legitimise the government in Damascus and further damage the organisation’s standing

Patrycja Sasnal is the head of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM). A political scientist and an Arabist, specialising in Middle Eastern and American studies, migration, radicalisation processes, systemic transitions and political philosophy she is a member of the European Working Group on Egypt and a 2010/2011 Fulbright scholar at Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC.

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01/10/17

Gulf dynamics: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the emergence of regional multipolarity

Current developments in the Gulf reflect a profound transformation in the structure of regional politics. The bipolar order that had maintained stability since the Second Gulf War of 1990-91 has transformed into a multipolar order in which Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Turkey have the capacity and the incentive to pursue foreign policies that challenge the security interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran. This new arrangement increases the degree of uncertainty in Gulf affairs, and makes crises harder to manage effectively. Events surrounding the recent confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia illustrate the dynamics of the shift to multipolarity.

Fred H. Lawson is Senior Fellow of the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews, UK. He is author of Global Security Watch Syria (Praeger, 2013) and co-editor of Armies and Insurgencies in the Arab Spring (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). In 2009-10, he was Visiting Fellow at the Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.

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01/10/17

Lebanon: A spillover to be?

This article examines how the post-Mosul battle momentum has hastened the decision of Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army to – successively and respectively – clear Hay’at Tahrir alSham (a former Al Qaeda-affiliated group) and the so-called Islamic State from swathes of territory in north-east Lebanon, underlining the latent competition between the Shia movement and the military to take the lead in ensuring national defence. Although the Salafi Jihadist territorial menace is waning, Lebanon is still facing subversive threats – notably on the ideological front – not always dealt with appropriately. Furthermore, rising Israeli fears of Iranian projection of power in Syria, against the backdrop of the dwindling IS Caliphate, may have negative reverberations in Lebanon.

Rayan Haddad holds a PhD in International Relations from Sciences Po Paris (2007). He is a member of the Cercle des Chercheurs sur le Moyen-Orient (Paris) whose own main research interests lie in studying the importation of exogenous conflicts into the Lebanese arena and in Hezbollah’s policies.

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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

Orient IV 2017

Achim Rohde
Iraq after IS: Reconstruction or deepening fragmentation?

Christopher Phillips
Syria after IS

Wolfgang Pusztai
Libya: A second home?

Rayan Haddad
Lebanon: A spillover to be?

Curtis R. Ryan
Jordan: Between IS and the Syrian Civil War

Fred H. Lawson
Gulf dynamics: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the emergence of regional multipolarity

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