February 6, 2016

PUTIN, ASSAD, AND GEOPOLITICS

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his visit to Russia meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, October 20. 2016 (Source: Press Service of President of Russia, http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/50533/photos).

The Russian military intervention in Syria since September 2015 has sparked spirited debates in Western policymaking and intellectual circles about the genuine motives behind the Kremlin’s unexpected decision. Various monocausal explanations have been propounded, which, however, do not interpret this intervention in either an objective or systematic way. This article aspires to examine the Russian military intervention in Syria in an unbiased, innovative, and thorough way by adding the crucial … [Read more...]

“MUHAMMAD TAUGHT US HOW TO FIGHT”: THE ISLAMIC STATE AND EARLY ISLAMIC WARFARE TRADITION

AP photo via militant website

The performance of Western-trained Arab militaries has been generally abysmal.   Therefore, when the Islamic State (IS, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)) began scoring impressive victories, the Middle Eastern and Western intelligence and military circles were shocked. In fact, the ex-Ba’thist military officers who direct IS have returned to the roots of early Islamic warfare, reinventing the attributes of the Islamic warriors and using their strategy and tactics. This has … [Read more...]

IRAN AND THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IN THE ARABIC-SPEAKING WORLD: THE BEST OF ENEMIES?

Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya logo

This article focuses on relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arabic-speaking Middle East.  The introduction looks at the historical and ideological background to relations between the Brotherhood and Iran.  The article then focuses on two examples - relations between Teheran and the Palestinian Hamas movement, and Iran’s relations to the Jama’a al-Islamiyya, the Lebanese branch of the Brotherhood.  Also surveyed are Iranian relations … [Read more...]

CHALLENGES AND INFLUENCES OF THE “AMERICANIZATION” OF PALESTINIAN EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF AL-QUDS UNIVERSITY’S AMERICAN STUDIES DEPARTMENT

Al Quds University Faculty of Science & Technology (by Diaaasa - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Faculty_of_Science_%26_Technology.jpg#/media/File:Faculty_of_Science_%26_Technology.jpg)

Palestinian education has often been in the spotlight for the role it plays in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  At the college and university level student politics have often played an integral role in shaping Palestinian society.  In 2001, a unique attempt was made to establish an American Studies Institute on the main campus of Al-Quds University.  It attracted a microcosm of Palestinian professionals to its graduate program, many of whom were active in various government branches of the … [Read more...]

WHY THE ARAB SPRING FAILED: THE CULTURAL ROOTS OF THE ARAB PREDICAMENT, A REVIEW ESSAY OF TAREK HEGGY’S THE ARAB COCOON AND THE ARAB MIND BOUND

Arab Cocoon & Arab Mind

Click here for PDF Every year, life in the Arab Middle East gets worse for its inhabitants.  Tarek Heggy’s books The Arab Cocoon and The Arab Mind Bound (2011) argue that cultural factors are to blame.  With all eyes focused on the Arab Spring, his books did not receive the attention they deserved on publication.  They are worth revisiting today, because they help to explain why the Arab Spring failed.  Heggy argues that a “Bedouin model” of Islam spread wildly in recent decades with … [Read more...]

IRAN AND RUSSIA: SIMILARITIES AND IMPLICATIONS FOR DECISIONMAKING

Vladimir Putin meeting with Hassan Rouhani, 13 September 2013
(Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, www.kremlin.ru)

Click here for PDF In light of the July 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers, as well as Russian involvement in Syria, Russian-Iranian relations deserve special attention. This article argues that Russia and Iran have both common interests and cultural similarities that simultaneously foster their bilateral relationship and complicate these ties. This is also reflected in the foreign policies of both countries. Russia has been managing a “hybrid war” in Ukraine through … [Read more...]

CHINA’S MIDDLE EAST FOREIGN POLICY AND THE YEMEN CRISIS: CHALLENGES AND IMPLICATIONS

"Air strike in Sana'a 11-5-2015" by Ibrahem Qasim - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Air_strike_in_Sana%27a_11-5-2015.jpg#/media/File:Air_strike_in_Sana%27a_11-5-2015.jpg

  Click here for PDF This article examines the broad implications of the 2015 Yemeni civil war on Chinese foreign policy in the Middle East. The findings show that the ongoing crisis in Yemen presents a challenge to the key element of non-intervention guiding Chinese foreign policy in the region and may force Beijing to gradually abandon its low-key strategy in managing its relations with the countries in the region.   INTRODUCTION   The Yemeni civil war, which began in … [Read more...]

ISRAEL IN FACE OF EVOLVING SECURITY CHALLENGES

Scores of Israeli army tanks and armored personnel carriers are massed on December 29, 2008 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/farshadebrahimi/3159001713

Click here for PDF Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has faced numerous security challenges. Ongoing threats to the country’s security could potentially lead to a serious crisis or even escalate to a war. Israel’s greatest concerns are Iran’s nuclear program, Hizballah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In addition, there has been unrest in the West Bank, incidents in the Golan Heights, fighting in Sinai, and uncertainty about Jordan. Since its establishment in 1948, … [Read more...]

THE ZIONIST UNDERGROUND IN IRAQ

The Quagmire by Emil Murad

Click here for PDF The following article is the personal testimony of an Iraqi Jew regarding the last days of his community and their preparations for emigration to Israel. It is an extract from Emil Murad’s book, The Quagmire (London: Freund Publishing, 1998). Editor’s Note: This article differs quite significantly from the usual material published by MERIA. The story of the immigration of Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities to Israel, and their expulsion from their host … [Read more...]

SHI’I MILITIAS IN IRAQ AND SYRIA

Assad Allah al-Ghalib Forces in Iraq and al-Sham: originally Liwa Assad Allah al-Ghalib, a Shi'a militia that evolved out of Liwa Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas in the Damascus area- it has active contingents today in both Iraq and Syria, treating the two countries as one battlefield.

Click here for PDF The following is a summary of a presentation given by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi on the proliferation of Shi’i militias in Iraq and Syria, morphing from small foreign contingent deployments in the Syrian civil war in 2012 into what is currently a major cross-border phenomenon viewing Iraq and Syria as one battlefield. They are fueled and organized in no small part by Iran, whose overall regional influence is more powerful than ever with the rapid growth of Shi’i militancy. It … [Read more...]