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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

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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01/07/17

Orient III 2017

Sübidey Togan and Ömer Faruk
Gençkaya Recent developments in the Turkish economy

Güneş Murat Tezcür
The deepening of the Kurdish question in Turkey

Nilgün Arısan Eralp
Quo vadis Turkey-EU relations?

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

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

Nebi Miş and Burhanettin Duran
Turkey’s constitutional referendum and its effects on Turkish politics

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01/04/17

ORIENT II 2017: US policy in the Near and Middle East – Continuity and change

Andreas Krieg
Obama and the Middle East: No we can’t

Annika Elena Poppe
Recalibrating the interests-values-nexus US democracy promotion in the Middle East

Magdalena Kirchner
The Middle East apprentice

Marcus Müller
A stain on democracy? Guantanamo, drone strikes and US foreign policy after Obama

Niklas Schörnig
Just when you thought things would get better from Obama’s to Trump’s drone war

Michael Gunter
US Middle East policy and the Kurds

Hans Krech
US Foreign Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Kadir Ustun and Kilic B. Kanat
The search for an American foreign policy and US-Turkey relations in the Trump era

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01/01/17

ORIENT I 2017: Climate change and water politics in the Near and Middle East

Mohammed Qader
Brief view on the water-energy nexus in the Near and Middle East

Nadim Farajalla
Sustainable water management in the Near and Middle East

Ayşegül Kibaroǧlu
Euphrates-Tigris river basin: Water management as conflict prevention

Myriam Saadé-Sbeih and Ronald Jaubert
Syria’s drylands environmental policy: From clientelism to international cooperation

Balgis Osman Elasha
North Africa in a changing climate

Quentin Wodon
Vulnerability to weather shocks, climate change, and migration in the Middle East and North Africa

Tobias von Lossow
The multiple crisis: Perspectives on water scarcity in the Euphrates and Tigris basin

Tobias Zumbrägel
The quest for green legitimation: Reconsidering the ‘environmental enthusiasm’ of the Arab Gulf monarchies

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01/10/16

Orient IV 2016

Sebastian Sons
Lost in Iranoia: Saudi Arabia’s struggle for regional hegemony in times of crisis

Adnan Tabatabai
Iran’s regional policy Decision-making process, goals, areas of cooperation

Fatiha Dazi-Héni
The smaller GCC states’ foreign policy and regional role

Reinhard Meier-Walser
Post-JCPoA international relations The US, Russia, and the Gulf

Reza Ekhtiari Amiri
The Hajj and the future of Iranian-Saudi diplomatic relations

Gawdat Bahgat
Gulf politics: the energy factor

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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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01/10/16

Post-JCPoA international relations: The US, Russia and the Gulf

Both the U.S. and Russian Gulf policies must be viewed in the context of broader geostrategic goals. The main U.S. objective is to deescalate local crises and conflicts, combat terrorism, prevent nuclear proliferation and – in the Gulf Region – preserve the balance of power between Riyadh and Tehran. Russia’s Gulf policy is part of its strategy to increase its influence in the Middle east. Moscow seeks to strengthen its position visà-vis Washington throughout the entire region and thus to compensate at least in part for the loss of power it suffered as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It exploits the conflict between Tehran and Riyadh in order to gain additional influence and exert pressure on local actors.

Reinhard Meier-Walser is Head of the Academy for Politics and Current Affairs of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Munich, editor-in-chief of the bimonthly magazine Politische Studien (“Political Studies”), and Honorary Professor of International Relations at the University of Regensburg. His current research centers on strategies for de-escalating international conflict.

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01/10/16

Smaller GCC states’ foreign policy and regional role

Two main topics make the small Gulf states ambivalent about Iran’s future consolidation as the main regional power in the Gulf. Firstly, Iran’s growing political and military interventionist influence in key Middle eastern states, such as Iraq and Syria, added to its unconventional military know-how and willingness to modernise its regular army and conventional military equipment are of major concern. Secondly, Iran’s full economic reintegration is in contrast mainly seen as a good opportunity to significantly develop trading and commercial exchanges. In this field, most of smaller Gulf states will find themselves in an uncomfortable situation with the KSA, which is the smaller country poised to lose the most from Iran’s full economic reintegration.

Fatiha Dazi-Héni (Dr.) is a researcher on Arab Gulf Monarchies at the Institute for Strategic Research IRSeM in Paris and Associate Professor focusing on the Arab World at the Institute of Political Science in Lille. She has published many articles on the GCC states and sub-regional dynamics, particularly regarding Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (mainly in French).

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01/10/16

Iran’s regional policy. Decision-making process, goals, areas of cooperation

With regards to Iran’s foreign policy, a striking mismatch is at hand between Iran’s self-perception and how it is seen by its neighbours. Apart from obvious divergent regional interests between Iran and other regional actors, reasons for this mismatch can be found in the lack of understanding of Iran’s foreign policy decision-making process as well as inaccurate views of the Islamic Republic’s security doctrine. Therefore, it is the aim of this essay to, first, shed light on the key actors and institutions shaping Iranian foreign policy. Secondly, the key goals and aims of the Islamic Republic in the Middle east will be outlined in order to, thirdly, recommend potential areas of cooperation between Iran and Europe.

Adnan Tabatabai is the co-founder and CeO of the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) based in Bonn. As an expert on Iranian affairs he is consulted by european Union institutions, German Federal Ministries and Members of Parliament, as well as by political foundations and think tanks. Tabatabai is assigned lecturer at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

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01/10/16

Lost in Iranoia: Saudi Arabia’s struggle for regional hegemony in times of crisis

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been seeking regional supremacy due to political and ideological reasons since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Since 2011, these bilateral tensions have intensified with destabilising effects in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy is influenced by ‘Iranoia’, which aims to counter the Iranian influence within the Arab region and to preserve the Saudi standing as a political and economic regional power as well as a religious role model. However, since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Saudi Arabia has felt further betrayed by traditional allies such as the United States. The new Saudi leadership is concerned about the re-integration of Iran into the international community and thus has intensified its anti-Iran and anti-Shiite propaganda and policy in recent years. The article analyses the main foreign policy interests of Saudi Arabia, the anti-Iran strategy of the new leadership under King Salman, and the negative outcomes of this policy, such as sectarian divide and the detrimental consequences for regional stability.

Sebastian Sons is a Ph.D. candidate at the Humboldt University of Berlin and an Associate Fellow at the Near east and North Africa Research Program of the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin. Previously, he worked as Head of Research Unit at the German Orient-Institute. His fields of interests are Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy, societal change and economic developments.

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