8. november 2019

Israel and the Arab Gulf: An Israeli–Saudi alliance in the making? - Martin Beck

The initiative of Israeli Foreign Minister Noam Katz bears high potential for structural change of Middle Eastern regional affairs. To date, Israel has full diplomatic relations with only two Arab countries: Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and Jordan did so in 1994. An alliance between Israel and the Arab Gulf States could pave the way for normalization of Israeli-Arab relations.

5. november 2019

The “new” EU, the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the Middle East challenges  - Peter Seeberg

Taking its starting point in the recent foreign and defence policy conditions related to the Middle East, the article discusses the perspectives of the launching of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), an entity designed for the creation of a stronger defence cooperation within the EU. Taking into consideration that the EU finds itself in a limbo resulting from the recent EU elections and nominations (European Parliament, President of the European Commission, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, etc.), and from tendencies to internal disunity, the article contends that in a short-term perspective PESCO will not form the basis for significant foreign interventions.
However, the article furthermore argues, that over time this could change, also because several European leaders are frustrated with the recent situation, where the EU both directly and indirectly is dependent on an increasingly less reliable American policy in the Middle East. Beyond the recent “changing of the guards” and the turmoil related to Brexit, a “new” EU might find that PESCO could be a way ahead for an EU wanting to be able to act on its own when it comes to foreign and defence policy challenges in its unstable surroundings.

31. oktober 2019

Hvad laver Banksy i Betlehem? - Helle Lykke Nielsen  

Er det besættelses-turisme, dark tourism eller måske ligefrem necropolitik, når den anonyme graffitimaler Banksy tiltrækker i titusindevis af besøgende og turister til sit Walled Off Hotel i Betlehem, så folk ved selvsyn kan få et indtryk af palæstinensernes liv bag den israelske separationsmur? Og tjener det palæstinensernes sag, at Banksys kunstinstallationer og skarpe kritik af muren har gjort at ”Banksy is big in Betlehem”, både blandt palæstinensere og visse israelere? Artiklen ser på, hvilken indflydelse Banksys aktivisme har på konflikten mellem palæstinensere og israelere, og hvorfor the Walled Off Hotel skaber så meget debat.

12. oktober 2019

Does Islam play a role in jihadist violence? - Mehmet Ümit Necef

Does religion play any role in religious terrorism? More specifically, is Islam a factor in Islamist terrorism? Over the last number of years, a heated public debate has taken place on this issue. On the one side there are those who claim that religion in itself plays no role in terrorism, and in the case of Islamist terrorism, the driving forces appear to be secular grievances such as Western foreign policy, discrimination, Islamophobia and poverty. Religion is only a veneer to rationalize the brutal methods which most people would find abominable. On the other side, there are scholars who contend that religion is a factor to be taken seriously in its own right as a motivating factor in violent jihadism, and that it is a mistake to take religious beliefs out of the equation.

2. oktober 2019

The EU’s Middle East Policy in the Light of Changing EU-US Relations  - Peter Seeberg

The EU’s so-called Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy of 2016 makes it clear that there is an ambition in Brussels of becoming a more active and significant player on the international political scene. The article discusses this regarding the EU-US relations with a focus on the Middle East, where the cooperation between the EU and the US since the start of Donald Trump’s presidency has changed and become less well-functioning than what used to be the case. Taking the JCPOA agreement and the US withdrawal from it as a starting point the article shows that even though the EU notoriously is vulnerable to foreign policy decisions by the US related to the Middle East, the recent development seems to indicate a change of the EU-US relationship.

5. september 2019

Israel: A Democratic State? - Martin Beck

It is shown that even when applying a thin (i.e. less demanding) rather than a thick (i.e. more demanding) concept of democracy in the spirit of Robert Dahl, strong arguments point into the direction that Israel does not constitute a democratic polity. Israel in the borders of 1949 is indeed democratic. Yet, Israel in the borders of 1949 is not an empirically pertinent political entity. Although East Jerusalem has been explicitly integrated into the Israeli polity, Israel has refrained from extending full citizenship rights to all inhabitants of Jerusalem, in clear violation of democratic values. Moreover, the Israeli reign over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would only not violate democratic standards if occupation were temporary. However, after more than fifty years of colonizing East Jerusalem and the West Bank and more than ten years of blockading the Gaza Strip, the assumption that occupation is temporary lacks plausibility. It is very unlikely that Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories will come to an end in the foreseeable future, particularly as since the millennium, no serious Israeli attempt at implementing the Palestinian right to self-determination has been empirically observable. As Israel has established an undemocratic reign in Jerusalem and as it is highly doubtful whether it honestly intends to terminate occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Western justification for strongly supporting Israel in their foreign policies and containing the BDS movement on the basis of portraying Israel as a democratic state is not well-grounded.

5. september 2019

Significant changes to the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia - Martin Hvidt

The current change of law follows a series of relaxations of the religious hold on society, undertaken over the past year. When King Salman took office in January 2015 he brought his son Mohammad bin Salman into power and later made him Crown Prince. Mohammed bin Salman is believed to be the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. 
In 2017 King Salman issued a royal decree that freed women from their male guardians in dealing with the government and obtaining government services (applying for work permits, medical and educational services).
In June 2018 Saudi Arabia lifted the ban on women driving (Hvidt 2018), and in the fall the same year, women were allowed to attend mixed-gender cultural and sporting events. In addition, municipal elections have been opened up to women. Furthermore, and of significant importance, it was made mandatory that women should give their consent to marriage – meaning that a bride legally could refuse to marry the man her parents had arranged for her to marry. And as a minor but also symbolic change, the Crown Prince in 2018 announced that women did not have to dress in black nor wear the abaya, as long as they remained decently dressed (Nabbout 2019).

5. september 2019

Aylan Kurdi, flygtningekrisen og Europas skyld - Torben Rugberg Rasmussen

Billederne af den treårige syriske drengs Aylan Kurdis døde krop strandet på den tyrkiske kyst i forbindelse med hans og hans families flugt fra Syrien gik verden over i 2015 - ofte forstået inden for ramme af en diskurs med fokus på Europa som skyldig eller medansvarlig for Aylan Kurdis tragiske død.
Der er ingen grund til at overse betydningen af ikoniske billeder som billedet af Aylan Kurdis for den politiske meningsdannelse og diskussion. Der er heller ingen grund til at overse den åbenbare tragik, der knytter sig flygtningestrømmene fra den syriske borgerkrig. Det er interessante er imidlertid, hvordan vi politisk og moralsk skal forholde os til og håndtere flygtningestrømmene og om anklagen rettet imod Europa om skyld eller medansvar er rigtig.
Her bevæger vi os tydeligvis ind i felt, der er fyldt til bristepunktet med moralske og politiske dilemmaer. Parallelt med påstanden om vestlig skyld eller medansvar, finder vi således synspunkter i flygtninge- og indvandrerdebatten, der er baseret på den grundpåstand, at Europas flygtninge, indvandrer- og integrationspolitik er styret af en potentiel patologisk skyldkultur. En prominent talsmand for dette synspunkt finder man f.eks. hos den indflydelsesrige engelske historiker Douglas Murray -  f.eks. fremført i værket The Strange Death of Europa fra 2017.    

4. august 2019

Similarities between left-wing and islamist terrorism - Mehmet Ümit Necef

At first glance left-wing and islamist terrorism would seem to have little in common ideologically, politically, and in regard to motivation for participation. It is obvious that most left-wing terrorists are non-religious and secular, while islamist terrorists often refer to Islamic theology to justify their actions. In this article I attempt to show both the common ideological tenets and the emotional traits of these seemingly diametrically opposed movements. The article builds on a short presentation of two scholarly works and one essay written by a Danish journalist. 

4. august 2019

Usynlige eller skjulte? Moskeer som politisk symbol - Helle Lykke Nielsen  

I mange skandinaviske byer, også i områder med mange indvandrere, kan det være vanskeligt at lokalisere eventuelle moskeer. Med udgangspunkt i en forskel på top-down og bottom-up moskeer analyserer artiklen, hvad der i praksis gør nogle moskeer usynlige i det offentlige rum, og hvilke metoder og værktøjer det kan være nyttigt at anvende for at lokalisere dem. Artiklen konkluderer, at mens arkitektur, beliggenhed og navnebrug samt manglende skiltning bidrager til at usynliggøre moskeerne, sætter moskeerne sig til gengæld spor i omgivelserne ved den måde, de spejler sig i det omkringliggende lokalområde på samt gennem en stadigt voksende online-tilstedeværelse, især på de sociale medier. Artiklen er en del af et forskningsprojekt om moskeer i Skandinaviens sproglige og semiotiske landskaber, som foregår i samarbejde med to svenske kolleger, Maria Löfdahl og Tove Rosendal. 

10. juli 2019

The Dubai model revisited: looming debt and downturn - Martin Hvidt

Dubai is founded on a strong urge to catch up with the developed world currently personified by its Ruler Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Or more precisely the model in the 1990s and in the 2000s attempted to develop Dubai in a 'big-push' fashion, to create a 'world class' city which could compete with other major cities in attracting investments and hosting the international business community and knowledge workers. Hosting the international businesses, and with it millions of migrant workers, an income stream could be created to fund a well-off lifestyle for the around 230,000 nationals residing in the country. The 'big push' strategy implies that development consist of multiple large scale and coordinated investments undertaken simultaneously to grow its economic and human assets at the same time, such that both demand and supply are stimulated at the same time making widespread growth in the society possible. This approach had been very successful when we look at the development in the cityscape, etc., but behind the façade some significant debt issues are lurking.

2. juli 2019

The German Way of Securitizing the BDS Movement - Martin Beck

The present article analyses the unusual move of the parliament, which was endorsed by both the old and new German political establishment – the Christian Union parties (CDU and CSU), the Social Democrats (SPD), and the Liberal Party (FDP) as well as the Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), respectively – in the light of a Copenhagen School-inspired securitization approach. It is shown that critique of Israeli policy is the expression of a political opinion that targets a state and its policy. This is fundamentally distinct from anti-Semitism as the expression of racism. By securitizing the BDS movement, the Bundestag attempts to justify the extraordinary measures of maintaining and supporting the occupational regime in Palestinian territories, which systematically prevents the Palestinian people from having access to basic human rights.

11. juni 2019

Women in the universe of right-wing and Islamist extremism - Mehmet Ümit Necef

Looking at the anti-Islamic rhetoric of the far-right today, one can have the impression that the two currents are far apart ideologically and politically. However, this assessment would be wrong, for the hostility to Islam and Muslims which is the hallmark of the far-right, especially in Europe today, is a recent phenomenon and has to do with the anti-immigration sentiment of the far-right which has been growing over the last quarter century. The fact that a large proportion of immigration to Europe stems from the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa is the main source of this hostility.  
The article argues that European and American right-wing extremism and Islamist extremism have common ideological and political traits. It focuses on both movements’ views on the position of women in society and gender relations. The analysis shows that both orientations are anti-liberal and do not ascribe autonomy to women. 

7. juni 2019

Highly-skilled migrants in the Gulf: Do they contribute to Transfer of Technology? - Martin Hvidt

At the overall level, this article explores the nexus between economic growth in the Arab Gulf states and immigration of highly-skilled migrants. It argues that technological progress is the key element in long-term growth in the economies. This article focuses on one way that highly-skilled migrants contributed to technological progress, namely through transfer of technology.

It is found that technology transfer, aside from the educational system, most likely bypasses the local population due to demographic realities, lack of incentives for highly-skilled migrants to pursue knowledge transfer and the general educational level in society. When and if technology transfer takes place, it most likely takes place between two migrants.

20. maj 2019

Who Saved Rahaf? Are Social Media Campaigns Effective in Saudi Arabia?- Hend Al-Sulaiti

This article covers the influence of social media in the case of Rahaf, in an attempt to answer the question regarding the effectiveness of the campaign in the outcome of Rahaf’s situation. Analyzing that requires a look at past social media campaigns, with regards to women’s rights, and the status of girls fleeing Saudi Arabia. The article also explores Saudi Arabia’s controversial male guardianship system, which Rahaf cited as a reason for her plight. The article argues that social media, while effective, was not the only force behind Rahaf’s successful attempt.

10. maj 2019

Syrian refugees and the emerging post-war scenario in Syria. Options and perspectives  - Peter Seeberg

The article discusses the situation for the more than 5.6 million Syrian refugees having fled Syria during the long-lasting crisis there, and who are now living in Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey – some for up to seven-eight years. It might seem a bit premature, but in reality it is urgent to discuss how to organize and secure the complex processes which will take place in connection with the return of the refugees. The important role played by the so-called Astana guarantors (which for years have attempted to reach common ground regarding the question of a Syrian Constitutional Committee and recently have been involved in the conflict in Idlib), Iran, Russia and Turkey, have maybe solved some issues, but also complicated the situation. Regarding the conditions for the refugees in their host countries: the integration strategies of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, developed in cooperation with the international donors, have led to lessons learned for the aid system. This is a good thing, but it remains to be seen if the international organizations and NGOs have the tools ready for the serious challenges in connection with the return processes in the coming years. 

26. april 2019

Friends or Foes? Saudi Media's Reaction to the Diplomatic Crisis with Canada and Germany - Hend Al-Sulaiti

This article deals with the Saudi media response to the two diplomatic disputes that the Kingdom had with Germany and Canada. It will explore the reasons why the media campaigns differed, and what those campaigns could tell us about the Saudi government under the leadership of Mohammed bin Salman. This article not only deals with traditional forms of media¬—print and television—but it also examines social media during and after the disputes, specifically Twitter, to underline trends and themes in public reactions.

3. april 2019

Competing tracks regarding political progress in Libya: internal and external actors contributing to a continuously destabilized Libya  - Peter Seeberg

Based on an analysis of the recent political situation in Libya, the article concludes that the recent situation in Libya seems to present two different tracks for the upcoming development. The first track follows the line laid out by the UN: a national conference followed by general elections. This way ahead enjoys the official backing of the EU and the US and will – if possible –reconstruct the Libyan state within an international political setting. The second track, promoted by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and to some extend Russia, backs the Commander of LNA, Haftar, hoping that he can guarantee peace and stability in Libya. Haftar already dominates up to two thirds of Libyan territory, parts of which contain the main oil sources. Summing up this track could lead to a new authoritarian regime with Haftar in charge.

13. marts 2019

Muslimske kvinder har (også) både rødder og fødder - Helle Lykke Nielsen  

Med udgangspunkt i diskussionen om ”rødder og fødder” og flygtninges og indvandreres tilhørsforhold til steder i fortid og nutid analyserer artiklen, hvad muslimske kvinders gravsteder i Danmark kan fortælle os om deres tilhørsforhold til Danmark. Og artiklen konkluderer, at muslimske kvinder ser ud til at være i færd med at skabe sig et rum her i landet, at de så at sige er ved at slå rødder i en dansk kontekst og dermed tage de første skridt mod en ny identitet, der er forankret i Danmark.

4. marts 2019

OPEC+ and beyond: How and why oil prices are high, Part 2 - Martin Beck

From a short-term political perspective, it is certainly remarkable that Saudi crown prince and de facto sole ruler Muhamad Bin Salman defied US President Donald Trump’s preference for maintaining current production levels so soon after the American president had announced in a press conference held on November 20, 2018, that there would be relief of pressure on the Saudi strongman for his entanglement in the killing of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi (Landler 2018; Reed 2018). However, when applying a more fundamental view on the global political economy, what is actually of note is that, contrary to declarations of OPEC’s death, as pronounced in the wake of the oil price decline in 2014 and beyond (Brew 2016), the oil producers’ cooperation has become a significant fact. After having peaked between 2011 and 2013 at above USD 100 per barrel, the average OPEC basket price dropped to below USD 100 in 2014 and even further to below USD 50 in 2015 and barely more than USD 40 in 2016 – but thereafter partially recovered. Production cuts as agreed upon among members of the Vienna Group in late 2016 contributed to a pickup of the OPEC basket price to above USD 50 per barrel in 2017 and USD 70 USD per barrel in 2018 (OPEC 2019).
The present second part of the analysis on OPEC+ and beyond discusses how and why oil prices are high and how a gentlemen’s agreement between Saudi Arabia and the USA contributes to this outcome. The article concludes with a summary and outlook.

13. februar 2019

Kampen om muslimerne - Helle Lykke Nielsen  

Debatten om, hvem der repræsenterer muslimerne i Danmark, har ændret sig i de seneste 10-15 år, hvor fokus på enkeltpersoner i stigende grad er blevet erstattet af mere muslimsk mangfoldighed. Artiklen undersøger, hvordan denne mangfoldighed kommer til udtryk i lokale kontekster i dag, og hvilken konsekvenser man kan drage af dette, hvis man vil indkredse, hvem der gerne vil tale på vegne af muslimerne i Danmark.

7. februar 2019

OPEC+ and beyond: How and why oil prices are high, Part 1 - Martin Beck

From a short-term political perspective, it is certainly remarkable that Saudi crown prince and de facto sole ruler Muhamad Bin Salman defied US President Donald Trump’s preference for maintaining current production levels so soon after the American president had announced in a press conference held on November 20, 2018, that there would be relief of pressure on the Saudi strongman for his entanglement in the killing of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi (Landler 2018; Reed 2018). However, when applying a more fundamental view on the global political economy, what is actually of note is that, contrary to declarations of OPEC’s death, as pronounced in the wake of the oil price decline in 2014 and beyond (Brew 2016), the oil producers’ cooperation has become a significant fact. After having peaked between 2011 and 2013 at above USD 100 per barrel, the average OPEC basket price dropped to below USD 100 in 2014 and even further to below USD 50 in 2015 and barely more than USD 40 in 2016 – but thereafter partially recovered. Production cuts as agreed upon among members of the Vienna Group in late 2016 contributed to a pickup of the OPEC basket price to above USD 50 per barrel in 2017 and USD 70 USD per barrel in 2018 (OPEC 2019).
The present first part of the analysis on OPEC+ and beyond discusses the role of oil producers’ cooperation in shaping oil prices and its limits. The second part of the analysis, which mainly deals with the role of a gentlemen’s agreement between Saudi Arabia and the USA, will be put online in March 2019.

7. februar 2019

Dansk Flygtningehjælp og ”En fremmed er en ven, du ikke har mødt” - Torben Rugberg Rasmussen

Sloganet, parolen eller kampråbet ”En fremmed er en ven, du ikke har mødt” tilskrives ofte den tidligere socialdemokratiske formand Sven Auken. Det er misvisende. Parolen stammer derimod fra den danske digter, venstrefløjsvete-ran og kætterske kommunist Ivan Malinowski. Senere har Dansk Flygtningehjælp overtaget parolen. Det interessante er imidlertid ikke, hvem der er ophavsmand, men snarere den utopisk ladede varmediskurs, der er indeholdt heri.

10. januar 2019

Development Plans and Visions in the Arab Gulf countries. What is the likelihood that they will be implemented? - Martin Hvidt

If one views the pace of growth in the cities in the Gulf region, there is little doubt that physical planning takes place and is being implemented. Roads, airports, water supply etc. are being planned and implemented. However, planning is much more than physical planning. It also entails economic and social planning, which – given the current level of development - poses very different and more complex challenges. How, for instance does one plan for structural transformations of societies from being oil-based to an economy with a diversified income base? How does one plan and implement large scale reforms within the labor market or in educational sector, to achieve long term developmental goals?

4. januar 2019

Trump and the Middle East: the role of the US revisited in the light of the withdrawal of American forces from Syria - Peter Seeberg

The article analyzes the consequences of the recent announcement by Trump to withdraw the US troops from Syria within the next month. It is discussed how the US move is being perceived in the Middle East and to what extent the signals coming from the US President have contributed to skepticism concerning the role of the USA in the conflicts in the Mashreq – and in the Middle East broadly speaking. Based on short analyzes of four Middle Eastern states (Turkey, Iran, Israel and Saudi-Arabia) and their relations with the US it is argued that the withdrawal announcement and the way it has been understood in the Middle East indicate negative shifts in the sentiments in the region concerning the role of the US. Not as clear-cut anti-Americanism, but in the sense that signals from Washington create uncertainty about US policies regarding future challenges in the Middle East.

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