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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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01/04/21

The rise of Islamic political movements and parties

This article examines why some Islamic movements form a political party in contexts as different as Morocco, Turkey and Jordan, while their counterparts in the same country reject doing so. Based on qualitative fieldwork conducted on six Islamic movements both before and after the Arab Spring, this study demonstrates the role of internal factors, ideological priorities and organisational needs in explaining differentiation within Islamic movements.

Esen Kirdiş is Associate Professor of International Studies at Rhodes College. She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2011. She recently published the book The Rise of Islamic Political Movements and Parties: Morocco, Turkey and Jordan (University of Edinburgh Press, 2019).

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01/04/21

Orient II 2021

Joas Wagemakers
Making definitional sense of Islamism

Clara-Auguste Süß and Irene Weipert-Fenner
Socio-economic factors of radicalisation in Tunisia and Egypt: What we (don’t) know

Giulia Cimini and Claudia De Martino
Disentangling membership of Islamist parties in a post-ideological political arena: The PJD, Ennahda and Ra’am compared

Esen Kirdiş
The rise of Islamic political movements and parties

Mohammed-Ali Adraoui
Islam in Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy

Hanlie Booysen
The role of the moderate Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in a future Syria

Rayan Haddad
Hezbollah within and beyond Lebanon

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01/04/21

Islam in Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Policy

This article aims to shed light on the religious dimension of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. More specifically, it tries to show to what extent the defense of a Sunni Islam presented as authentic and Salafist has been at the heart of Saudi action aimed at the rest of the world. However, this promotion of an Islam with orthodox pretensions has also put this country in difficulty, forcing it to evolve its speech according to the internal and external political events.

Mohammed-Ali Adraoui is currently a visiting fellow at the LSE Centre for International Studies and lecturer/seminar leader at LSE IDEAS, holding a PhD in Political Science from Sciences Po Paris (2011). His main fields of research deal with Salafism and jihadism, Islamist movements, US foreign policy in the Middle East, political violence and terrorism.

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01/04/21

Hezbollah within and beyond Lebanon

Nurtured by the Pasdaran since 1982, Hezbollah has become the most powerful group in Lebanon and a strategic element of Iran’s deterrence capabilities against Israel. It currently represents the gatekeeper of the Lebanese confessional governance against the anti-corruption popular protests. Indeed, this system serves, mostly through Hezbollah’s local alliances, as a shielding screen for its paramilitary vocation. Hezbollah has broadened its field of intervention beyond the national scope (Syria, Iraq, Palestine) to such an extent that it endangers the prerequisites for Lebanon’s stability and recovery.

Rayan Haddad holds a PhD in International Relations from Sciences Po Paris (2007) and is a member of the Cercle des Chercheurs sur le Moyen-Orient (Paris). His main research interests lie in studying the importation of exogenous conflicts into the Lebanese arena and Hezbollah’s policies. He is the author of Regards libanais sur la turbulence du monde: Kosovo, 11-Septembre, Afghanistan, Irak (Paris: L’Harmattan 2018).

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01/04/21

Making definitional sense of Islamism

Studying political Islam means encountering a number of terms (fundamentalism, Islamism, Salafism, jihadism) that are often unclear to non-experts and sometimes even ill-defined by scholars in the field. What is more, the way they relate to, differ from and cohere with each other is frequently left unexplained. This article focuses on all of these terms to show the relationship between them in order to make definitional sense of it all.

Joas Wagemakers is Associate Professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. His work focuses on modern Islam, particularly on Salafism and Islamism in the Middle East. He has published widely on these issues, including The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Salafism in Jordan: Political Islam in a Quietist Community (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and A Quietist Jihadi: The Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

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01/01/21

Middle East futures: Decade(s) of defiance and dissent

If the 2010s were a decade of defiance and dissent, the 2020s promise to make mass antigovernment protests a fixture of the greater Middle East’s political landscape. Protests in the coming decade are likely to be fuelled by the challenges Middle Eastern states face in enacting economic and social reforms as well as reducing their dependence on energy exports against the backdrop of a global economic crisis and depressed oil prices and energy markets. Complicating the challenges is the fact that the youth, which often constitutes a majority of the population, has lost or is losing confidence in government and religious establishments at a time in which social contracts are being unilaterally rewritten by political elites. Pressure on the Middle East’s autocratic rulers is likely to increase with the departure of US President Donald J. Trump, a staunch supporter of strongman rule, and the coming to office of President-elect Joe Biden. In contrast to Trump, Biden has suggested that he would emphasise democratic values and freedoms. In doing so, Biden could contribute to renewed public manifestations of widespread discontent and demands for greater transparency and accountability in the Middle East and North Africa.

James M. Dorsey is an award-winning journalist, senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, and the author of the syndicated column and blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

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01/01/21

Traditional media, digital platforms and social protests in post-Arab Spring Morocco

The Arab Spring protests in Morocco, which started on 20 February 2011, have left a significant impact on political configurations and practices as well as on political culture and civil society activism. Moroccan citizens have taken to the streets and squares and to the virtual spaces more often in the last ten years than ever before. This paper discusses the role that offline and online media played in different social protest events. It demonstrates how online media managed to create a public space for free political expression, which led to a series of mass protests, and how the state has clamped down on Internet freedom through the use of a variety of repressive mechanisms. The Moroccan experience proves that the role of digital media is ponderable rather than deterministic in promoting social activism.

Abdelmalek El Kadoussi is Assistant Professor of Media and Communication at Ibn Toufail University, Kenitra, Morocco. Over the last 15 years, he has conducted research on different layers of media scholarship, including but not confined to media and democratisation, media political economy and others. He has presented papers in national and international congresses and published in national and international journals.

Bouziane Zaid is Associate Professor of Global Communication at the University of Sharjah, UAE. His research interests are in the areas of media technologies, media law and policy, media advocacy and strategic communication. He has presented his research in more than 20 countries in North and South America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Dr. Zaid has authored and co-authored two books and numerous journal articles, country reports and book chapters. He has served as a consultant for UNESCO, Open Society Foundation, Freedom House and other international organisations.

Mohammed Ibahrine is Associate Professor for Marketing Communications at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. His research interests cover technology and marketing, design thinking, entrepreneurship, innovation and the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution.

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01/01/21

Civil society, social mobilisation and the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring uprisings drew attention once more to the potential role that civil society might play in promoting political change in the Middle East and North Africa. This article will critically appraise the relationship between civil society and the state in the region from the end of the Cold War to the aftermath of the Arab Spring. In doing so, it will assess the implications of recent events for our understanding of the ways in which civil society functions in the MENA region.

Vincent Durac is Associate Professor in Middle East Politics at University College Dublin, Ireland. He is co-author of Politics and Governance in the Middle East (Palgrave) and of Civil Society and Democratization in the Arab World (Routledge).

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01/01/21

Orient I 2021

Francesco Cavatorta
Lessons from political transitions in the Arab world: A citizens’ perspective

Ragnar Weilandt
Tunisia is a beacon of hope, but things can still go terribly wrong

Zouhir Gabsi
Tunisian youth: Demands for dignity in the context of challenging socio-political and economic upheaval

Kirstie Lynn Dobbs
Civil society as revolutionary diplomats?: Foreign policy after the Arab Spring

Vincent Durac
Civil society, social mobilisation and the Arab Spring

Abdelmalek El Kadoussi, Bouziane Zaid and Mohammed Ibahrine
Traditional media, digital platforms and social protests in post-Arab Spring Morocco

James M. Dorsey
Middle East futures: Decade(s) of defiance and dissent

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01/01/21

Civil society as revolutionary diplomats?: Foreign policy after the Arab Spring

This article examines civil society’s evolving role in the development of foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, a near-decade after the Arab Spring. By focusing on four sets of civil society actors: youth, women’s, labour and human rights groups, I argue that civil society initially flourished in its ability to impact foreign policy after 2011. However, this initial optimism faded in 2013 as organisations grappled with increasing authoritarian backlash.

Kirstie Lynn Dobbs is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Public Policy at Merrimack College in North Andover, United States. Her research focuses on political behaviour in transitioning and established democracies, with a particular emphasis on elections, public opinion and youth in the Middle East and North Africa.

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01/01/21

Lessons from political transitions in the Arab world: A citizens’ perspective

While the paradigm of authoritarian resilience dominated the literature on the Arab world during the 2000s, the Arab uprisings saw the resurgence of the democratisation literature to explain political developments in the region. Building on the theoretical assumptions of the democratisation paradigm, several studies appeared attempting to explain why some political transitions to democracy were successful and why others instead failed. When it became clear that many Arab regimes simply would not fall, the paradigm of authoritarian resilience was revived. The empirical reality escapes both paradigms though, and ten years after the beginning of the uprisings the main trends in Arab politics cannot be captured easily within the parameters of either paradigm. The article discusses what these trends are, who the main actors are and how they relate to both paradigms.

Francesco Cavatorta is a Professor at the Department of Political Science of the Université Laval. His research interests include political transformations, Salafism and the moderation of Islamist parties in the Middle East and North Africa.

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01/01/21

Tunisian youth: Demands for dignity in the context of challenging socio-political and economic upheaval

Tunisian youths form a significant constituent of the Tunisian society. They represent Tunisia’s ultimate chance for progress. However, ten years after the revolution, the Tunisian youth have been pushed even further into the margins of society and towards idleness, catalysing a culture of resentment and apathy. Political infighting and corruption have undermined the youth’s role as the torchbearers of progress. This article analyses the Tunisian youth constituency and reflects on the Arab Spring’s impact on youths in the context of political and socio-cultural change.

Zouhir Gabsi is a senior lecturer in Arabic and Islamic studies. He has wide research interests in youth studies, Islamophobia, post-Arab Spring Tunisia, and language and Discourse.

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