Posts Tagged ‘Journal’

Wall Street Journal on US "covert" policies in Syria

July 24th, 2012 Comments off
“The U.S. has been mounting a secret but limited effort to speed the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad without using force”.  Let me count the lies in this one sentence: it is neither secret nor limited and it is certainly violent.  (thanks Laleh)

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Muslim women show flair for their fashion

July 5th, 2012 Comments off

Muslim women show flair for their fashion | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal ""Using the Internet and social media, these entrepreneurs have expanded their businesses in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago. They have a growing Muslim population to cater to, with around 2.6 million living in the U.S., according to census data, and about 150,000 in North Texas,
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Introducing The Editor’s Reader

May 16th, 2012 Comments off

What should you be reading about the politics of today’s Middle
East, beyond (of course) the outstanding daily content on the Middle East Channel and the news and
analysis featured in the MEC Daily Brief?   The Middle East Channel Editor’s Reader — or, "Abu Aardvark’s guide to good reads on the Middle East" — is a new regular feature which
will highlight what I consider to be the best of the academic journal articles,
long-form magazine articles, policy reports and books which come across my

The MEC Editor’s
will reflect what I’m actually reading and think merits your
attention.   Some weeks that might
mean an extended book review, others a selection of journal articles.  I may write about a ten year old book
if it’s what I’m currently reading, or I may write about forthcoming academic
research.  I will particularly highlight publications by the talented
academic members of the Project on Middle East
Political Science
, which I direct, but I will try to not neglect writers
from other fields.  I can’t promise
to even try to be comprehensive — which you’d thank me for if you actually saw my desktop.  This will be a selective guide to work I found interesting for some reason, reflecting my own ideosyncratic interests and reading habits.  But please do send
me your articles and books if you want me to consider them.  And with that, welcome to…

The Middle East Channel Editor’s Reader #1 (May 16, 2012)

My Bookshelf:

Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life
, by Roger Owen. (Harvard
University Press 2012).

historian Roger Owen had almost completed a book on "Arab Presidents for Life"
in late 2010, just as several of those Presidents suddenly faced mortal
challenges.   Rather than
simply insert "and Fall" into the title, Owen chose to integrate the new developments
into a thoughtful and incisive evaluation of Arab political authoritarianism in
all its components.  Owen points
out the many ways in which Arab Presidents and Kings imitated one another, with
Presidential sons following – or attempting to follow – their fathers, and all
relying on extensive security services and webs of patronage.  His analysis of the personalization of
power challenges recent efforts to distinguish Arab monarchies from their
Presidential counterparts, and lays bare the internal logic of such
personalized security states. As an historian, Owen is sensitive, and admirably
transparent, about the limits of our knowledge about the inner workings of
these regimes.  But his brief
discussions of each country effectively convey both the commonalities and
differences across the cases.  Owen’s highly readable book serves as a
fitting requiem for a system of rule which long seemed immovable, has now
been exposed in all of its flawed brutality, but seems likely to adapt to new structural conditions rather than simply fade away. 

My PDF Reader:

for Change:  The Pitfalls and
Possibilities of First Elections in Arab Transitions
, by Ellen Lust
(Brookings Doha).  Yale University Political
Scientist Ellen Lust, who has written widely on political parties and elections
in authoritarian Arab regimes, lays out the challenges and opportunities in the
foundational elections in Egypt, Tunisia and beyond.   First elections, she warns, should be treated
differently from subsequent elections, with different objectives and obstacles,
with priority given to building a strong democratic system and addressing the
fears and uncertainty which plague any transition rather than on managing a
particular political outcome.  
Lust wrote about Syria’s
recent pre-transitional Parliamentary election
for the MEC here.

Rise of Islamist Actors: Formulating a Strategy for Engagement
, by
Quinn Mecham (POMED).  Middlebury
College Political Scientist and former State Department Policy Planning staffer
Quinn Mecham argues for a more systematic strategy for engagement with Islamist
political parties.  It should surprise
nobody that Islamist parties do well in Arab elections or more open political
arenas.  Mecham expertly lays out
the benefits and risks of engagement, and urges the U.S. to engage broadly in
order to build understanding on both sides —but to neither compromise on core
value commitments or to exaggerate their likely power. 

Transition and the Twin Tolerations
, by Alfred Stepan (Journal of
Democracy).  Columbia University
Political Scientist Alfred Stepan, one of the leading figures in the study of
democratic transitions globally, examines the relatively successful Tunisian
experience since 2011. "With secularists agreeing that Islamists could participate
fully in democratic politics, and Islamists agreeing that popular sovereignty
is the only source of legitimacy," he writes, Tunisia has been able to
avoid the violence and polarization found in some other cases.   Egyptians and others should take note.


… and don’t miss these from the Project on Middle East
Political Science

Forever on the Brink

Collection of essays on the shortcomings of political reform and growing
instability in Jordan.

.  Collection of
essays on the political stalemate in Bahrain.

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Barbara Stowasser

May 15th, 2012 Comments off

I’m saddened to report, via  Georgetown University and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, the passing of Professor Barbara Stowasser, several times Director of CCAS and holder of the Sultanate of Oman Chair in Arabic and Islamic Literature at CCAS. Barbara has served on the Board of Advisory Editors of the Middle East Journal throughout my tenure as Editor. She will be missed by Georgetown and I am sure, and certainly by the Journal.

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Talented Field for 138th Kentucky Derby – Wall Street Journal

May 5th, 2012 Comments off

Globe and Mail

Talented Field for 138th Kentucky Derby
Wall Street Journal
AP LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Bode Baffert has never been so nervous about a race. The 7-year-old son of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is the namesake of the 138th Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite, Bodemeister. "Bode feels a lot of pressure right now,"
Strong field competes at Kentucky DerbyCNN
Derby a unique challenge for
Watch The Kentucky Derby 2012 Live: NBC Sports Streaming The Race OnlineSB Nation –WKYT
all 4,844 news articles »

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The Real War on Women

May 1st, 2012 Comments off

One of the most revered journals on the political front has taken a cue from Sports Illustrated: Foreign Policy now has a sex issue, indeed what is billed as “the sex issue.” Someone forgot to tell the editors that there is such a thing as “gender,” since there is very little bedroom-variety “sex” revealed in the articles. If a review of “Women in Politics” is about “sex,” then the journal misses out on the real sex going on, like politician John Edwards cavorting while running for President and several secret servicemen strip clubbing the night away in Columbia. And if what is going on from India to Iran is “the new politics of sex,” it looks a lot like the old. The reader might even accuse the journal of false advertising, since the seductive pose of a model clad in hijab black on the cover suggests more politically incorrect eye candy inside.

The lead article by the journalist Mona Eltahawy has launched a barrage of commentaries and counter commentaries in the academic community. Echoing the cover tag, she asks “Why do They Hate Us?” with a less than subtle subtitle of “The Real War on Women is in the Middle East.” Were this “really” the case, it might be seen as good news, since I have always been under the impression that the real war on women was more or less worldwide. How wonderful that women in Africa, Asia and Latin America no longer have to worry about real warfare. Of course, we all know the real war against women ended in Europe when the wielders of the Malleus Maleficarum burned the last witch and in the United States when women started voting in 1920. And I am sure the GOP is quite relieved to know that the war on women announced for the upcoming election is phony.

I understand the author’s frustration at the lack of progress for promoting women’s rights in the aftermath of the now rather chilly “Arab Spring.” Her experience in Tahrir of being groped and sexually assaulted is despicable. But to assume that those men stand for all Egyptian men and that all Egyptian women are hated is what one says in anger. The “real war” here is not about groping; it is a battle for minds, not bodies. The “real” enemy is a politics charged with a dogmatic rhetoric that is less about what men and women do in the bedroom than how they conform to an imposed tyranny that benefits the proverbial one percent, be they dictators or clerics.

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Journal of Sufi Studies

April 13th, 2012 Comments off

Brill has just announced the inaugural issue of a new publication, the Journal of Sufi Studies. The first issue is currently available free online. the following excerpt is from the editor’s introduction:

While the academic study of Sufism has a relatively long and productive pedigree in both western and Islamic academic discourses, in recent years the mainstay philological, philosophical and literary approaches to the subject have begun to give way to a much wider array of approaches drawn from across the humanities and social sciences. In the new conversational vistas and cross-fertilizations attendant to the study of the subject that such a situation portends, it would appear that the time is now ripe for sentiment to give way to assurance. What can, for example, anthropologists bring to the table which might be of interest to art historians? How might the insights of those dealing with philosophical discourse inform the work of those interested in cultural history? How and in what ways might a study devoted to pre-modern Sufi communities be usefully placed alongside one investigating globalized Sufi networks in modern times? While disciplinary territoriality and parochialism might been seen as posing difficulties to an effort seeking to link together scholarly engagements produced in different academic arenas, creating a space for genuine conversation and cross-fertilization on a subject of shared interest is not necessarily as arduous as it may sound. This, especially when dealing with a subject as amendable to a general multivocality, scholarly or otherwise, as that which this journal looks to engage.

It is precisely such a space which the Journal of Sufi Studies looks to create: an international scholarly forum for research on Sufism which, in taking an expansive view of the subject, brings together all disciplinary perspectives so as to promote a wide understanding of the richly variegated Sufi tradition in both thought and practice and in its cultural and social contexts. By providing a forum for academic research of the highest caliber on any and all denotable instances of Sufism wherever they may be situated, the journal looks to make a distinctive contribution to current scholarship on Sufism and its integration into the broader field of Islamic studies. As such, it is the fervent hope of the editors that this journal will come to serve as a meaningful outlet for the field of Sufi studies, one which fosters, shapes and energizes the efforts of those researchers who have ventured to engage one or another instantiation of the particularly persistent feature of the Islamic tradition which is Sufism, and in doing so contribute to those processes which are presently shaping the contours of the field itself.

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ASMEA: ASinine and MEAn

April 5th, 2012 1 comment

The primary international professional association of scholars who study the Middle East is MESA, the Middle East Studies Association. If you go to the main website, you will read:

The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is a private, non-profit, non-political learned society that brings together scholars, educators and those interested in the study of the region from all over the world. From its inception in 1966 with 50 founding members, MESA has increased its membership to more than 3,000 and now serves as an umbrella organization for more than sixty institutional members and thirty-nine affiliated organizations. The association is a constituent society of the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Council of Area Studies Associations, and a member of the National Humanities Alliance.

Members of MESA receive two journals, the flagship International Journal of Middle East Studies and the revamped Review of Middle East Studies. Each year MESA holds an annual convention, this year in Denver. As noted, the association is non-political and contains members with widely divergent views on the controversial political and religious issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

So, why, you might wonder, is there a rival organization known as ASMEA, The Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, with its own journal housed with Taylor and Francis? Ah, politics. The founding fathers of the association are Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, who appear to have joined forces primarily because of a common distaste for the work of Edward Said and their unfailing attraction to the intelligence community. The welcome message suggests that ASMEA is filling a gap:

ASMEA is a new academic society dedicated to promoting the highest standards of research and teaching in Middle Eastern and African studies, and related fields. It is a response to the mounting interest in these increasingly inter-related fields, and the absence of any single group addressing them in a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary fashion.

Like MESA, it claims to be non-partisan, although it is hard to explain why having only one point of view constitutes being non-partisan. It is obvious that scholars, like everyone else, will have differing opinions about issues like Palestinian statehood, inflammatory religious rhetoric, gender and a variety of issues that call for better understanding through dialogue among scholars. But ASMEA is monologue on top of being superficially trite. The claims for the “highest standards of research” are laughable, given the contents of its journal. For example,the most recent issue contains one book review. The chosen book is Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World by Robin Wright. The author of the book is a reporter, well-traveled (140 countries and counting) and with a prolific presence on all the media. With due respect to the importance of journalism in a free society, Ms. Wright is not an academic scholar; nor has her book been published through the peer review vetting of an academic press. I am not concerned with the value of her book, but it is the kind of book that routinely gets reviewed in major media outlets and rarely in academic journals. Is this the only book that ASMEA could find worth reviewing? And is Stephen A. Emerson ASMEA’s idea of an independent scholarly reviewer? Emerson is also a journalist; his highest degree is an MA in Sociology in 1977. Emerson is an unabashed partisan who sees jihadist terror behind every Islamic-looking bush. His books pander to an Islamophobic audience and, again, are not subject to serious peer review by other scholars.

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Rafsanjani: Iran does not Want Nukes, Should improve relations with US, Saudi

April 5th, 2012 Comments off

Former Iranian president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, gave an interview in a security studies journal recently, and I thought it might be important to share some key passages here. They were translated from the Fars News Agency by the USG Open Source Center. Rafsanjani is head of the Expediency Council, which resolves conflicts between the civil parliament and the clerical Guardianship Council. It also advises Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Rafsanjani gave some support to the Green Movement of 2009, which protested alleged election fraud in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When that movement was largely defeated, Rafsanjani was left weakened. He resigned from the Guardianship Council in 2011. The semi-official Fars News, which reported on the interview that had appeared in a specialized security journal, is clearly outraged at what Rafsanjani says about the need to reach out to the US.

I’ve chosen three key passages of a pragmatic sort, and will discuss them out of order. First, Rafsanjani alleged that he was the one who argued to Ayatollah Khomeini in the late 1980s that a pragmatic reevaluation of Iran’s relationship to the US needed to be carried out. He points out that Iran has relations with China and Russia, and says he is puzzled that the US should be treated differently than the other superpowers. He underlined that Iran wouldn’t be in its current straits if it had maintained better relations with Saudi Arabia (which is now trying to flood the market so as to help take Iranian petroleum out).

And, he affirmed that Iran does not want a nuclear weapon. He went on to try to explain something he said years ago, about Israel being vulnerable to a single nuclear strike; he said what he had meant to convey was that Israel should rethink being a nuclear power, since it is so small that it would be destroyed by a first strike. He said he was not making a threat but rather trying to give the Israelis good advice.

Rafsanjani says that he wrote Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomaini late in the latter’s life urging some sort of compromise with the United States of America.

“There are difficult passages and if you do not help us pass through them, they will be difficult to pass through after you… Ties with America were one of these issues. I wrote that, after all, our current practice — of not speaking to or having ties with America — could not persist forever. America is the super power of the world. What is the difference between Europe and the US, China and the US, or Russia and the US from our point of view? Why should we not negotiate with the US if we negotiate with them? Talks do not mean that we should surrender to them. We will negotiate and if they accept our positions or we accept their positions, then it would be all over.”

Rafsanjani implicitly critiqued Iran’s present leaders for allowing an Iran-Saudi polarization to build up. On pragmatic grounds, he urges that the Islamic Republic of Iran repair its relations with Riyadh.

“Having relations with Saudi Arabia is not a minor issue for the region. First of all, it is a wealthy country and the majority of the scholars from Muslim countries have ties with Saudi Arabia first and foremost considering the hajj and pilgrimages and second because of their own interests. It (Saudi Arabia) renovates their (Muslim countries) mosques, provides facilities, prints Korans and has provided numerous facilities for spread of their religious issues. Most of the works Al-Azhar University has done in Egypt, even the academic works, are now in the hands of Saudi Arabia.

“More important is the issue of oil. Would the West impose sanctions on us, if Saudi Arabia had good ties with us? Only Saudi Arabia could take Iran’s place. Saudi Arabia does not need to do anything. If it produces oil according to OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) limits, no one could harass us. As the world economy could not carry on without our oil, I believe that it is still possible to establish good relations. However, there are people here who, as you see, do not want that. You are an expert in international relations and foreign policy and know well that if they say one word without thinking, it would immediately be reflected. Some harsh words from both sides should not be tolerated and should be corrected.”…

About overcoming the nuclear deadlock, Hashemi-Rafsanjani said:

“We really do not seek to build nuclear weapons and a nuclear military system. In a Friday prayer sermon in Tehran, I even once said that an atomic bomb would not benefit the occupation regime of Israel. Eventually, if one day a nuclear conflict takes place, Israel as a small country, will not be able to bear an atomic bomb. It is a small country and all its facilities would be destroyed. However, they interpreted this advice as a threat. We really believe that there should not be any nuclear weapon in the region and this is a part of the principles of our politics.”


Iran’s Rafsanjani Discusses Failed Efforts To Engage US
Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s strange statements about negotiating and having relations with the US at the same time when the most hostile policies are against Iran and on the peak of anti-US sentiments around the world …
Fars News Agency
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

(Description of Source: Tehran Fars News Agency in Persian — hardline semi-official news agency, headed as of 24 July 2011 by Nezameddin Musavi;
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

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US Soldier to Be Charged With Mass Afghan Murder – Wall Street Journal

March 18th, 2012 Comments off

The Guardian

US Soldier to Be Charged With Mass Afghan Murder
Wall Street Journal
By DOUGLAS BELKIN in Norwood, Ohio, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the Army soldier who is set to be charged in the mass murder of 16 Afghan civilian men, women and children, spent the weekend in pretrial isolation as military prosecutors prepared a case
Afghanistan shootings suspect set to face charges in US, says expertThe Guardian
Soldier's family 'stunned' over Afghan
Afghan shooting suspect soldier down on his luckBoston Herald –Reuters
all 3,598 news articles »

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