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STATUS/الوضع: Issue 4.1 is Live!
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Sectarianism

Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (May 30)

[Oil-Shale Development, Stuart Deposit, Australia. Image by Greenpeace Australia/Stewe. August 1998.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Saudi foreign assets keep falling in April amid heavy overseas borrowing “The Saudi Arabian central bank's foreign assets fell in April as the government borrowed heavily abroad.”  Shaken Opec seeks to work alongside shale oil producers “Opec was once a by-word for ...

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Ussama Makdisi on The Invention of Sectarianism in the Modern Middle East

This keynote address delivered by  Ussama Makdisi unpacks sectarian framing of identities and conflicts and expose forced dichotomies created around the concept. Makdisi's address was given at the conference named "Sectarianism, Identity, and Conflict in Islamic Contexts: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives," held at George Mason University between April 15-17 of 2016. The conference brought together more than twenty academics and policy experts to discuss sectarianism, particularly in an attempt to capture the complexity of sectarianism as a tempo-historically specific phenomenon, rather than a static expression that is explained away as an ...

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In Memoriam: A Coptic Eucharist

[Bloodstained belongings of those killed at chapel of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Abbasiya on 11 December 2016. Photo by Jonathan Rashad]

The previous day, shortly after they had sipped the wine symbolic of the blood of Christ and in remembrance of the Holy Communion, an explosion tore through the church leaving the their blood in small puddles on the floor and splattered on the walls and pillars. “The time will come, that whoever kills you will think that he does God’s service." This sentence from the Gospel of John 16:2 was inscribed on a sign draped along the side of the Abbaseya Cathedral where the coffins of Sunday’s bombing victims streamed out to the sound of drums, cymbals, and trumpets. In this procession, wails and zaghareet (ululations) synchronized to eviscerate the line between the pain ...

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New Texts Out Now: Syrie, anatomie d’une guerre civile

Adam Baczko, Gilles Dorronsoro, Arthur Quesnay. Syrie, anatomie d’une guerre civile. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2016. Jadaliyya (J) : Qu’est-ce qui vous a fait publier ce livre? Adam Baczko, Gilles Dorronsoro, Arthur Quesnay (AB, GD, AQ) : L’idée de conduire des recherches en Syrie a émergé durant l’année 2012. Menant des recherches sur d’autres guerres civiles, nous voyions se dérouler en Syrie des processus similaires à ceux que nous observions sur nos terrains respectifs (processus de territorialisation, d’institutionnalisation, de politisation, d’internationalisation…). Les échos dans la presse de l’existence d’une administration civile ...

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Eastern Approaches

Why local tribal calculations will determine what happens outside Syria’s heartland. With much of the world’s attention on western Syria, especially the fighting in Aleppo, there has been less interest in eastern Syria, much of whose population is of Arab tribal background.   There is an increasing view that the Syrian regime and Russia feel that the conflict in Syria can be won militarily. Their focus for now is on the major western population centers stretching from Damascus to the Turkish border, and southwards to Jordan. However, for any victory to be complete the Assad regime will have to develop a strategy for eastern Syria as well.  Though ...

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'Shi'a Forces', 'Iraqi Army', and the Perils of Sect-Coding

Last week Twitter was the site of a few rhetorical skirmishes between Professor Juan Cole and several Iraq-watchers—myself included, albeit very briefly. The exchanges were occasioned by Cole’s use of the phrase “Shiʿa forces” to refer to the various non-Kurdish Iraqi formations (the Iraqi army included) that will lead the effort to recapture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. Rare, if not downright mythical, is the sensible Twitter debate. Alas, this incident was no exception. Nevertheless, the to-and-fro between the Cole and his critics highlighted an important issue—one that disproportionally affects current commentary on the Middle East: the issue of ...

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Sectarianism in the Gulf - A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with Toby Matthiesen

In this interview for STATUS/الوضع, host Mona Kareem speaks with Toby Matthiesen about sectarianism in the Gulf after the Arab uprisings. Toby Matthiesen gained his doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 2011. He is the author of Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Spring That Wasn’t (Stanford University Press, 2013), and The Other Saudis: Shiism, Dissent and Sectarianism (Cambridge University Press, 2015). The interview is divided into three parts which you can click on separately. Please find a transcript of the interview below the player. 

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التمييز كأداة للتسلط والإخضاع

[صورة للفنان المصري عبد الرازق عكاشة]

في بداية هذا الشهر (آذار/مارس) أعلنت وزارة الصحة في الكويت قراراً بتعميم العزل في العيادات الصحية بين المواطنين والوافدين، بعد نجاح فترة تجريبية استمرت طيلة ستة أشهر. وحسب ذلك القرار، تُخصص العيادات الصباحية للكويتيين فقــط بينما تُخصص العيادات المسائيـــة لغير الكويتيين (الذين يشكلون أكثر من ثلثيْ سكان البلاد). ويتيح القرار لمن أراد من المواطنين "حرية الاختيار بين الفترتين الصباحية والمسائية". قرار العزل بين المواطنين والوافدين هو أحد النتائج السلبية لإعادة الهيكلة الاقتصادية التي فرضت تقليص عدد من الخدمات الأساسية، بما فيها الصحية، في الكويت كما في باقي بلدان الخليج العربي. لم تؤثر إجراءات التقليص على الفئات الميسورة التي تستطيع الاستفادة من التوسع الملحوظ ...

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Quick Thoughts on the Political Landscape of Today's Sudan: A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with Khalid Medani

In this Quick Thoughts conversation with Status/الوضع host Bassam Haddad, Khalid Medani provides a near-comprehensive account of Sudan's recent past, its internal and external struggles, and current challenges.  Khalid Mustafa Medani is associate professor of political science and Islamic Studies at McGill University. Prior to his arrival at McGill, Medani taught at Oberlin College and Stanford University. Prof. Medani received a B.A. in Development Studies from Brown University, an M.A. in Arab Studies from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of ...

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You Are Here! You Were Here! Chutzpah or Kharbata?

At the entrance of Jaffa’s Old Port, next to the old warehouses now converted into a series of harbour cafes, boutiques, and exhibition halls, the visitor is greeted with a trilingual “Jaffa Port Map”, a wall map guiding the tourist/visitor to the landmarks of the zone. Warehouse One, Warehouse Two. Central Piazza. Steimestzky. Toilets. The Lighhouse. More Toilets. Fishing Arena. At the heart of this map comes a shocking announcement. In English, “You Are Here!”. In Hebrew: Ata Nimtzah Kahn (“You Are Here!”). In Arabic, nota bene, Kunta Huna (“You WERE Here!”).   Is this a case of mistaken translation?  Israeli official signposts are notorious for their ...

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Quick Thoughts on Tragedy and Treachery in Yemen: A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with Sheila Carapico

In this Quick Thoughts conversation for Status/الوضع, Sheila Carapico discusses the recent turmoil in Yemen, and describes the growing entrenchment of factionalism and sectarianism in Yemen as a result of growing local fissures and proxy interests. She argues that the complexity of Yemeni political terrain and the increasing levels of violence on all sides leave one with little sympathy for all of the warring groups in the country. Carapico also raises concerns about the consequences of limited international journalistic coverage and polarized regional media coverage from Yemen, and further explains her views on the prospects of a resolution to the ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (August 11)

[Saudi Arabia turns to financial markets to generate revenue as low oil prices continue to take their toll. Image from Katrina Tuliao/Wikimedia Commons.]

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Gulf allies 'back Iran nuclear deal' after US security guarantees The Gulf states decide to back the nuclear deal with Iran after the United States promised them better intelligence-sharing and faster arms transfers. Yemen hostage Isabelle Prime returns to France after release A French woman ...

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New Texts Out Now: Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon

Sami Hermez, War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Sami Hermez (SH): I wrote this book because I felt there was a story that needed to be told of how people in states of protracted conflict live their lives with the specter of war continually hovering in the background, akin to the sounds of Beirut traffic. The potentiality of a coming war during my research in Lebanon moved in ...

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Power, Sect, and State in Syria

A. Maria A. Kastrinou, Power, Sect and State in Syria: The Politics of Marriage and Identity amongst the Druze. London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2016. How has Syria, a country that was deemed “stable” by analysts only years ago, become engulfed in an utterly brutal war? Under what circumstances does intercommunal cohesion turn into sectarian strife? Focusing on the fine line between violence and intimacy in a variety of different settings in pre-war Syria, Maria Kastrinou’s Power, Sect and State ...

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How Not to Understand Egypt’s Sectarianism

Just one day before the horrifying attack upon the Botroseyya Church in Abbasiyya that took the lives of two dozen Coptic Christians, mere steps away from Cairo’s Coptic Cathedral and Papal Headquarters, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth issued a provocative tweet. Commenting on an article in Foreign Policy he was circulating, he wrote, “Egypt’s Copts discover after backing Sisi’s coup that his persecution isn’t limited to the Muslim Brotherhood.” Needless to say, it is a rare spectacle ...

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Competing Victimhoods in a Sectarian Landscape

None but the hopelessly naive or the woefully ill-informed can deny the relevance of sectarian (here meaning Sunni and Shiʿi) identities in the contemporary Middle East, particularly in the Mashriq. Equally self-evident is the centrality of victimhood in how these identities are perceived by their holders. But rather than just highlighting the blindingly obvious, my intention here is to ask, so what? To argue that the ongoing competition of sectarian victimhoods is narcissistic, perverse, and distasteful ...

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Engaging Books Series: Cornell University Press Selections on Lebanon

ENGAGING BOOKS SERIES Cornell University Press Selections On Lebanon This is a new series that features books by various publishers on a given theme, along with an excerpt from each volume. The second installment involves a selection from Cornell University Press on the theme of modern Lebanon. Other publishers' books will follow on a monthly basis.     Table of Contents Compassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon  By Melani Cammett About the Book About the ...

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مقاومة الطائفية بإعادة إنتاج منطقها

تتنوّع ردود الفعل إزاء استشراء الطائفيّة التي نعيش زمنها وممارساتها البشعة في بلدان المنطقة بحسب المقام والمقال، وتتراوح من الإنكار المطلق، إلى نقيضه البائس. ويمعن الأخير، في بعض نسخه، في إسقاط الحاضر (والماضي القريب جداً) على التاريخ لاصطناع وتخيّل وتحديد جذور وأصول لكل ممارسة وفكرة طائفيّة يتم ترويجها الآن، فتصبح محض صدى أوتكراراً لما يُظنّ أنّه كان دائم الحدوث، وللسبب نفسه دائماً. ويختفي الفهم التاريخي وتُخْتزل الحِقَب وتختفي الحدود بينها وبين السياقات المختلفة، وتضمحل كل خصوصيّاتها لترسيخ سرديّة كبرى ...

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الشيعي والشاعر والأستاذ

ثلاثة مشاهد... ثلاثة عناوين أزمة... ثلاثة رموز لمقياس واحد هو معضلة المؤسسة والفاعل، والأدهى علامات الخور والحول الحضاري. أعدم شاعر لقصيدة، وأعدم داعية لفكرة وهشم رأس أستاذ لطلب حق، المضمون سنابك خوف ورهاب تتوسل بالسيادة المزعومة والوحدة المنشودة، وتستجدي كل معاني البطولة على الفكرة والرأي والاختلاف، إنها بحق المشهد الحضاري المعبر عنه "أسد علينا وفي الحروب نعامة " . إن طرح السؤال في هذا المقام والبحث عن جوابه أشبه بحلم وتيه وضلالة وغي، بل و تعبير يجد في الإمعان في أزمته، ما دامت البنية ...

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Saudi Arabia Gazes at Lebanon with Vengeance

On 2 March 2016 Lebanon woke up to the news that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had declared Hizballah a terrorist organization. Many perceived this as a kind of patriarchal collective punishment. Spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, the designation of Hizballah as a "terrorist" organisation can only be read as another desperate attempt by Saudi Arabia to bring its war for regional dominance to Lebanon. This form of Saudi desperation stems from the decline of its geopolitical regional hegemony, ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (September 29)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations France urges Saudi Arabia to cancel death penalty for young Shi'ite France calls on Saudi Arabia not to execute Ali ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (September 22)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations  Hostile BBC Interview of a Saudi Loyalist Shows Prime Journalistic Duty: Scrutiny of One’s Own Side Glenn Greenwald ...

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Turkey Media Roundup (August 18)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Turkey and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Turkey Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to turkey@jadaliyya.com by Sunday night of every week.] English Kurdish Politics and the Peace Process Why Did the PKK and HDP Commit This Lunacy? AKP Member of Parliament Markar Esayan describes President Erdoğan, Prime Minister ...

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Arabian Peninsula Media Roundup (August 4)

[This is a roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on the Arabian Peninsula and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the Arabian Peninsula Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each week's roundup to ap@jadaliyya.com by Monday night of every week.] Regional and International Relations Is Saudi Arabia warming up to the Muslim Brotherhood? Ali Al-Arian argues that amid the threats from Iran and the ...

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