Resource Center

This page only lists the English contributions to the Resource Center. Contributions in all languages are available on the Danish version of the page. The responsibility for the content of the contributions rests solely with the authors.

17 December 2019

Why does Islamic State kill homosexuals in public spectacles? - Mehmet Ümit Necef

Two lines of thought dominate attempts to explain the virulent hostility of Islamic State (IS) towards homosexuality and why it executes homosexuals in a theatrical manner. The first supposes a repressed homosexuality with psycho-social roots to be the driver. The second points to IS’s malignant homophobia. The article presents a partly alternative, partly complementary explication of this intense hostility using Danish sociologist Henning Bech’s theories on, among others, “male space” and “male interest” as an alternative to the popular concept of “homophobia”.

11 December 2019

Saudi Arabia: Domestic factors underpin its sudden interest in sports - Martin Hvidt

The current emphasis on attracting international sporting events to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a very new feature in the politics of Saudi Arabia.
After King Salman ascended to the throne in January 2015 he made his son Mohammad bin Salman the Crown Prince and later trusted him to spearhead the development of the kingdom. In June 2017 Muhammed bin Salman, as head of the Council of Economic Affairs and Development, released the development plan Vision 2030 which aims to transform Saudi Arabia from a highly oil dependent society to one where skills, entrepreneurship and hard work by the citizens are the foundation of the wealth creation in society. 
While Dubai, and later Qatar, have used sport events very consciously to brand themselves internationally, and especially Qatar having soft power strategy, to gain friends among the international community, the situation is quite different in Saudi Arabia: While there is no doubt that decision makers in Saudi Arabia believe that sports can be one among several ways to improve/normalize their international standing following first a 5 year long war in Yemen with immense human suffering and more recently the brutal killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Embassy in Turkey, this paper will argue that there are solid domestic drivers behind the new policy. International or local sports events with both men and women as spectators are to offer entertainment and as such make life in Saudi more ‘liveable’, and second, and probably of more importance, to spearhead an active participation among the ordinary citizens to engage in sport activities themselves. A low life expectancy at birth and significant obesity in society are just some of the drivers behind the new emphasis behind sports.

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.

12 October 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 October 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). 

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. 

10 July 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 July 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 June 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 June 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 May 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 May 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.

4 March 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.

7 February 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.

10 January 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 January 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.

10 December 2018

The demographic time bomb: How the Arab Gulf countries could cope with growing number of youngsters entering the job market
- Martin Hvidt

This article explores the demographic challenge as it exists in the Gulf countries today. Figures are presented and an estimated 500.000 new entrants to the working age groups pr. year is the reality facing these countries. The public sector cannot absorb these and so it becomes the private sector. The policies of localization and technology upgrade is meant to make way for employment of nationals in this sector. However, in the transition period other means are necessary. The World Bank suggests that basically the state pays the citizens a compensation so that the total income from is equated between the public and the private sector.

2 November 2018

Jordan – the unstable “island of stability” - Peter Seeberg

Jordan was also exposed to protests and demonstrations in the so-called Arab Spring in 2011. During 2018, where we have seen renewed protests in Jordanian cities – mainly as a result of a highly unpopular tax law and increasing fuel and electricity prices – it seemed that a renewed Arab Spring took place. The political unrest has been ongoing all the while Jordan has been hit by significant economic problems, first of all a huge budget deficit, low growth and a permanent negative balance of trade. In addition to that Jordan fights with rapidly decreasing water resources, large numbers of refugees and pressure for reforms from the side of the IMF. The challenges tend to undermine the Jordanian regime, but so far without serious consequences for King Abdullah – probably as a result of external support, first of all the EU and the US.

3 October 2018

An International Relations perspective on the problematique of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Part II: Toward a debate on Middle Eastern nuclear weaponry - Martin Beck

This is the second part of an analysis on the problematique of the Iran Nuclear Deal. It presents a debate-oriented analysis that is inspired by an approach based on the Copenhagen School and informed by insights from Realism and Institutionalism.

5 September 2018

An International Relations perspective on the problematique of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Part I: Rationalist Perspectives - Martin Beck

The present first part of two analyses on the problematique of the Iran Nuclear Deal presents two Rationalist perspectives on it. From a Realist point of view, the scenario of Iran being a nuclear power is simply acceptable if not desirable. Rather than singling out the Iranian nuclear program, Institutionalism would opt for a policy approach that strengthens the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and envisions achieving a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

8 August 2018

Are Al-Qaeda and Islamic State modern? Reflections on Islamic fundamentalism and modernity - Mehmet Ümit Necef

The article discusses whether Islamist fundamentalists, regardless of whether they are violent or peaceful, are modern. Constitutive elements of modernity and the concepts of counter-modernity and demodernization are presented. It is concluded that fundamentalism, in whatever form it emerges, cannot be considered as modern. Fundamentalists are in modernity, but not of modernity.

3 August 2018

Lifting the ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. Reasons and consequences - Martin Hvidt

This article explores the reasons why Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and son of the current King, who accented to power in 2015, chose to lift the ban on women driving. The reasons are mostly related to the potential benefits to the economy that follows from allowing the women to transport themselves. For women play an important role in the current development plan, the so-called Vision 2030. But how do an estimated 3 million new drivers affect traffic congestion, pollution and fuel consumption, and how will they integrate in a traffic system which has one of the highest traffic death rates in the world?

3 July 2018

New perspectives in EU’s migration and border management – the case of Libya - Peter Seeberg

Initially the article describes the recent EU-Libya relations with a focus on migration and border management followed by a more detailed analysis of the EU operations in the Mediterranean Sea. It is then discussed how the planned increased level of funding over the coming years might influence the situation in the Central Mediterranean and in Libya. It is argued that the EU ambitions of securing its external borders, support legal migration, counter irregular migration and return those migrants who have no right to stay in Europe, seem relevant in the context of Libya, but that efficiency in carrying out the suggested measures require that lasting solutions are found concerning the internal crisis in Libya.


20 June 2018

Music Albums and the State of Exile: A Study of Creative Expressions among the South Asian Migrants in the Gulf  - M.H. Ilias

This work is about some of the literary and artistic expressions that the current phase of South Asian diaspora has generated. With their own artistic and aesthetic resources, the Gulf migrants from Kerala, South India have created a ‘subsection’ within the parameters of popular culture to express their emotions, feelings, informal opinions and worldviews, which encourages a refocusing of aesthetics away from the traditional domains of high culture. Major themes of these popular cultural forms include the ‘shattered dreams’ of unsuccessful migrants, the work-place stress they encounter and the breakup in relationships.  Such productions in the form of music albums, video footages and You Tube clippings, based on new-fangled aesthetics have a discernible effect on the imagination of the diasporic community and are greatly patronized by the labour class in the Gulf. The focus of this work revolves around Katupāṭṭu which in its modern form refers to sending letters or messages in the form of music albums. They are basically songs composed for the purpose of disseminating a message.

4 May 2018

Framing the security-stability nexus in recent EU-Mashreq relations: Need for changes of EU foreign policy tools? - Peter Seeberg

It is the aim of this article to shed light on the recent EU policies towards the MENA-region focusing on EU-Mashreq relations in the light of the Syrian crisis. Recent bilateral agreements between the EU and the Arab Mashreq states, focusing on the specific challenges related to the development of the Syrian crisis and its spill-over effects and consequences for the Arab Mashreq states. The cooperation between the EU and the Mashreq states over the last years has focused on security and stability in the region. It is shown that the Brussels II Conference 24-25 April 2018, rather than preparing for new challenges related to a post-war scenario in a not too distant future, primarily focuses on the humanitarian aspects of the recent crisis in the Mashreq.

10 April 2018

The new role of women in the new Saudi Arabian economy - Martin Hvidt

Muhammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and son of the current King, who accented to power in 2015, is a man of action. He was appointed Ministry of Defense and started a war in Yemen, he outmaneuvered Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince and thus brought himself first in line to the throne, and has in November 2017 allegedly with the aim to stifle corruption, brought his major potential opponents from the business and media world but also from within the Royal family to bend to his rule. Parallel to this tactical maneuvering, his father placed him as head of the government entity, who oversaw the creation of the Vision 2030 development plan, and the detailed catalogue of no less than 543 specific reform initiatives outlined in the National Transformation plan 2016-2020 to implement the reform.
Mohammad bin Salman, the young crown price in Saudi Arabia, eagerly pursues the reform drive he initiated in 2017 with the Vision 2030 reform package. This news analysis focuses on the current initiatives aimed to include the women in the new Saudi Arabia. 

5 April 2018

Kurdish overrepresentation among Danish Islamic State warriors  - Mehmet Ümit Necef

The article discusses the possible reasons why Kurds are apparently overrepresented among Danish Islamic State warriors. Research on Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin joining IS is also presented, since it also suggests a corresponding overrepresentation.  

13 March 2018

Transnational Salafi Networks from India and Negotiating Identity in the Gulf - M.H. Ilias

This work focuses on a set of questions; how India-centered Salafi groups as transnational entities are perceived by the expatriate Indian Muslims in the Gulf; how are the modern subjectivities formed in the context of transnational migration and religious puritanism corresponding with each other in the contemporary discourse on Salafism among the Indian Muslims in the Gulf; and how does Gulf Salafism from Kerala negotiate its identity in both Salafi and non-Salafi-dominated settings? This work has taken the case study of Gulf Salafism, a movement that emerged among the Salafis of Kerala in the Gulf insisting on the need of a radical redefinition of the term Salafiyyat (emulation of the pious ancestors) against the popular term Islahiyyat(reform) by tracing their intellectual lineage solely to the revivalist scholar Ibn Taymiyya, through Abd al-Wahhab who eschewed a line of thought insisting on literal, self-contained understanding of the Quran and Sunna.

4 March 2018

Contract slavery? On the political economy of domestic work in Lebanon - Martin Beck

The present debate analysis is the second part of a short study on foreign domestic work in Lebanon. The first part was put online in February 2018 as a news analysis. The present debate analysis firstly scrutinizes the application of the concept of contract slavery. In its second part, the author elaborates on the issue and critically discusses the political economy of domestic work in Lebanon by applying four basic categories of political economy: state, class, race, and gender. The result of the latter analysis is a more nuanced image of the political economy of domestic work in Lebanon.

11 February 2018

On the political economy of domestic work in Lebanon - Martin Beck

The present news analysis is the first part of a short study on foreign domestic work in Lebanon. Domestic work in Lebanon has been chosen because this female-dominated business—in terms of both supply and demand—is often neglected in analyses of otherwise highly male-controlled political economies. Moreover, in contrast to the Gulf States, Lebanon is an open society in which “Westerners” can easily gain access to the local population, thereby inviting researchers to engage in participatory observation of the political economy of domestic work. The following first part presents the main features of the Lebanese political economy of domestic work. Then its main components of foreignness and femininity are discussed in more detail. The second part of the study which will be uploaded in March is a debate analysis on how to categorize best the political economy of domestic labor in Lebanon.

28 January 2018

The price of oil. The disruption caused by the American shale oil industry - Martin Hvidt

Following the OPEC meeting decision 30 November 2017 to continue the restriction on member's production of oil, the price of oil is continuing – however – slowly to climb and is currently listed at around $63 pr. barrel. This is sad news for the consumers in oil-importing countries but indeed good news for the Arab Gulf states which have been hard pressed on their national budgets from the last 4 years low prices. This article will discuss the factors which determine the current level of the oil prices and their outlook for the coming decade. The energy market seems to be in a significant restructuring, including new oil and gas resources from shale oil producers.

14 December 2017

Costs of war. The Syrian crisis and the economic consequences for Syria and its neighbours - Peter Seeberg 

The article deals with economic aspects of the costs of war in Syria and the related impact on the neighbouring countries. The analysis focuses on structural deficiencies as a result of the crisis in Syria and to what extent the high level of conflict in the Mashreq have persistent consequences for the economic development of the region as a whole. Taking its point of departure in four different dimensions of the economic problems related to warfare, the article claims that the Syrian crisis will have long-term significance and that huge efforts to organize an international response to these challenges will be necessary – both regarding Syria itself and its severely affected neighbouring countries.

14 December 2017

Conspiracy theories and Occidentalism as an essential part of Turkish political culture - Ümit Necef

In my last article entitled “Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Western Conspiracies and Manipulations. Turkish Official Explanations of Islamic State” I argued that the three official documents published by the Turkish government, which analyze the cultural, political and theological roots of Islamic State (IS), claim that conspiracies and manipulations by Western powers are at play in intentionally creating and directing IS. In this article I will maintain that the present AKP government is influenced by conspiracy theories and Occidentalism not only with regard to IS, but also to an array of other issues.

21 November 2017

Che-Guevara T-Shirts and Changing Idioms of Popular Politics in the Arab Gulf Region - M.H.Ilias

This work examines how the act of wearing Che-Guevara T-Shirts becomes a subtle but serious political statement and how does it contribute to the emergence of new mode popular politics in the Arab Gulf countries? It also examines how the concept of democracy enters the lives of youth through informal political expressions? Analyzing the relationship between the popular politics and democratization of the society in a circuitous fashion, this work uncovers the process through which popular politics gains legitimacy among the youth in the GCC States.

7 November 2017

First strengthening the centrist political platform in Libya and then holding elections: difficult political processes in a failed state - Peter Seeberg 

The UNSC Monthly Forecast for November 2017 characterizes a Libyan reality, according to which it is urgent to stabilize the situation. There is a need for functioning governing institutions and the UN-initiated GNA has never really been able to gather popular support. In the midst of a chaotic reality in Libya it is important to discuss how to get political processes restarted, so a kind of normality can be re-established.
The difficult manoeuvre for the UN is how to strengthen the support for the GNA, while also involving other relevant parties in the complex Libyan political reality, in particular the HoR and Haftar. The article argues that rather than speeding up elections it seems wise to concentrate on strengthening what might be left of centrist political powers in Libya. Hopefully it is not too late. Many Libyans will probably prefer a strong-man solution to continued anarchy and in the recent situation, where Haftar and the LNA together with allied militias seem to dominate large parts of Libya, a de facto take-over is getting closer.

9. October 2017

South Asian Labourers and Non-Citizenry Aspects of Popular Politics in the Gulf - M.H.Ilias

For the last one decade, the strikes and open demonstrations of South Asian labourers have become a common feature of politics in the Arab states of the Gulf. The region at present is otherwise an arena of Arab Spring-induced open popular political expressions. There are ample indications of the assertiveness of many hitherto side-lined social actors like women and minorities over the issues of gender and social and political status. But the politics of South Asian labourers stands apart with very little to do with the political and social status. It rather aims at economic rights and dignified life in the hosting countries. This work, taking cues from the experience of South Asian labour unrests for last ten years, examines the political content of non-citizenry popular politics in the GCC States.

19. September 2017

Securitization of the Recent Influx of Refugees from the Middle East to Europe - Martin Beck

The reasons why migration towards the Global North has become the subject of major attempts of securitization in Europe (and the US and Australia) are highly contested. However, interestingly enough, a rather broad consensus exists on the mere fact that migration has become the subject of attempts of securitization in the 21st century – more so than most other contested socio-political issues. The present paper’s point of departure is the latter observation. Taking the securitization of the recent influx of refugees from the Middle East to Europe as a case in point, it is argued that one of the reasons for the strong trend of securitization is rooted in the fact that diverse political camps (which in other political arenas would pursue rather different policies) contribute to the observed strong trend of securitizing the influx of refugees, this is they attempt to justify extraordinary measures by means of political communication.

10. September 2017

Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Western Conspiracies and Manipulations: Turkish Official Explanations of Islamic State - Ümit Necef

The article is an analysis of three reports on Islamic State (IS) published by the Turkish government. The analysis places the official Turkish approach in a wider international context and argues that the Turkish approach stresses the “push factors” when analyzing the motives of Muslims in the West. Moreover, the article documents that the official texts fundamentally blame the West for the rise of IS.

11. August 2017

Torture and Death in Lebanese Detention - Annabelle Böttcher

On 30 June 2017, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) conducted raids amid fierce resistance in Syrian refugee camps in an area called Jurud Arsal at the Syrian border. Pictures of the harsh treatment of male Lebanese refugees during their arrests were circulating on media. Subsequently at least five Syrians died in Lebanese army custody with some of the bodies bearing visible signs of torture. This is another deplorable incident amid serious problems in the Lebanese incarceration system.

1. July 2017

Nuclear power in the United Arab Emirates: A case for public debate? - Martin Hvidt

While UAE possesses approximately seven percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, it is challenged in meeting its ever increasing demand for electricity. While oil is plenty, it does not make economic sense to burn it in order to generate electricity. Oil yields the highest income if sold on the international market, while it makes good sense to use available gas reserves to fuel power plants. However, despite large investments in gas fields over the years and recently through the USD 11 billion development of the onshore Shah gas field, the UAE is expected to remain a net gas importer. As early as 2008, domestic consumption overtook production, and the deficit continues to grow. Consumption of gas increased by an average annual rate of 7,8% over the past ten years and today UAE faces the biggest gas challenge of any of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations.
Against this background, in 2008 UAE decided to build a nuclear power plant consisting of 4 reactors. The USD 20 billion project is expected to commence operation of its first reactor this month. When fully developed in 2020, its four reactors are expected to satisfy 25% of the combined electricity needs of the UAE, significantly reducing the demand for gas to feed power generation.

14. June 2017

The Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the EU-Lebanon Partnership Compact – new strategies, old agendas - Peter Seeberg 

The article discusses the cooperation between the EU and Lebanon with a focus on the newly launched EU-Lebanon Partnership Compact, based on a decision by the EU-Lebanon Association Council of 11 November 2016. The Compact describes the suggested (and partly mutual) commitments by the EU and Lebanon aiming at securing the stabilization of Lebanon in general, but also measures attempting to “provide an appropriate and safe environment for refugees and displaced persons from Syria during their temporary stay in Lebanon.”2 An important discussion in connection with that is the question of easing the refugees’ controlled access to the Lebanese labour market – obviously a controversial issue. The article concludes that the main EU interests are twofold. Firstly, it is about avoiding destabilization of Lebanon by supporting the integration of refugees in the Lebanese society. Secondly, the reputation of the EU institutions is at stake: it is important to demonstrate to the EU member states that something is done, which contributes to keeping the Syrian refugees in third countries far away from the European borders.

7. June 2017

Categorizing Islamic State Supporters in Denmark: The cases of Enes Ciftci and Natascha Colding-Olsen - Ümit Necef

The article gives an account of the differences and similarities between these two individuals. Summarizing the courses of their lives, their possible motiva-tions for supporting IS are discussed. The Norwegian political scientist Petter Nesser’s typology of Islamist terrorists is applied to these individuals. It is concluded that Ciftci and Colding-Olsen fit into the categories of the “protégé” and the “misfit” respectively.

22. May 2017

Haters Gonna Hate: An Investigation of the Danish Hate Preacher Entry Ban - Kirstine Sinclair

In March 2016, the Danish TV Channel TV2 broadcast a series of documentaries based on recorded conversations and meetings with representatives of Danish mosques. The TV Channel had planted two moles and instructed them to act as a married couple facing different difficulties related to their marriage. On this basis, they were sent to ask advice from Imams from eights mosques throughout Denmark. The Imams’ answers and suggested solutions raised a number of new questions regarding religious subcultures and failed integrations efforts and not least the role of Imams and religious preachers. Here, I take a closer look at the political responses aiming at preventing hate preachers which followed as a consequence of the mosque documentaries; the most debated of which involved a ban of named religious preachers.

7. May 2017

Large-scale forced population transfers in Syria: details of the recent "four towns agreement" - Annabelle Böttcher

In my contribution, I will analyze three major components of this agreement involving negotiations with a variety of state and non-state actors in the Middle East and the Gulf, including Shiite and Sunni US-designated terrorist groups.

23. April 2017

Brexit, the EU and the Middle East - Peter Seeberg

Following the Brexit referendum the UK is leaving the EU and this means that the UK no longer stands together with the EU on the international scene. The British Prime Minister Theresa May has recently invoked the EU Treaty Article 50 initiating the Brexit process and obviously the UK leaders know they will face severe challenges securing the best foreign policy agreements possible. In the Middle East the UK hopes to renew old trade agreements, some of which are related to arms sales back from the times of Margaret Thatcher, but also to take care of more recent security interests related to the fight against ISIS and the migration crisis.

4. April 2017

The EU and Different Paths to Walk the Talk of Promoting Palestinian Self-Determination - Martin Beck

The present contribution focuses on the European Union’s foreign policy toward the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In terms of political communication, the European Union has for decades put a peaceful settlement of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict high on its foreign policy agenda. The present contribution discusses different paths to walk the European talk of promoting Palestinian self-determination and various means of mapping them. In terms of different options, a two-state approach, a one-state solution, and the idea of international trusteeship are discussed. With respect to procedures, two alternatives to the bilateral approach are presented: unilateralization and multilateralization.

21. March 2017

Saudi Arabia: Ambitious reform processes initiated - Martin Hvidt

In April 2016 Saudi Arabia took the world by surprise with the launch of its Vision 2030 plan. The surprise was not the plan in itself, as the kingdom has since 1970 guided its development through a series of 5-year plans, but rather the radical approach to development contained in the plan. Private sector focus, privatization of state owned entities and salary cuts in the public sector were proposed. But the item that drew most attention was the plan to sell a 5 per cent stake in the oil company Saudi Aramco, the national pride of the Kingdom, which was seen by many as selling the family silver.
Later in 2016 the Vision 2030 plan was followed by the National Transformation Plan 2020 which is a far more detailed plan or operational plan, posting specific benchmarks and targets for the economy in order to fulfill the aims of the Vision 2030.

12. March 2017

“It is you who has gotten the wrong end of the stick”. An Islamic State Warrior speaks out to Danes - Ümit Necef

Enes Ciftci, both in his open letter and in the interview, criticizes the Western and Danish military interventions in Muslim countries, declares his allegiance to IS and explains why IS violence against Western civilians is necessary and legitimate. His main argument is that since the Western powers bomb and kill Muslim civilians, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan and in Syria, the Muslims have the right to do the same against Western civilians. The Western violence and brutality against Muslims justifies Muslim retaliation in the same manner. Moreover, Ciftci thinks in terms of “collective guilt”. That is, according to him all Westerners are guilty as long as their governments inflict pain and death on Muslims through their military interventions. Finally, Ciftci also directs critique against Muslim men who do not join IS.

22. February 2017

European Foreign Policy: Problems of Promoting Bilateral Negotiations in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict - Martin Beck

The present analysis focuses on the European contribution of Western policy toward the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The European approach is shaped to a high degree by the perception of the Israeli–Palestinian negotiation process initiated in Oslo as a “peace process.” However, the perspective on Israeli–Palestinian bilateral negotiations as an endeavor of peace is highly problematic and misleading. The Oslo process of the 1990s and all attempts to revitalize bilateral negotiations aimed at reorganizing rather than terminating Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

2. February 2017

Danish “Syria-warriors” and Their Motivations - Ümit Necef

The article introduces in detail the investigation on 77 of the estimated 138 Danish citizens and residents, called “Syria warriors” in the Danish media, who have gone to Syria and/or Iraq to fight for Islamic State or another violent Islamist group. Moreover, the considerations of the Danish-Pakistani investigative journalist and author Jakob Sheik’s on the motivations of the Muslim young men to join extremist groups are summarized. Sheikh’s criticism of the allegedly dominant public discourse in Denmark on the factors behind the fascination of violent Islamism is presented.

5. January 2017

Humanitarian Aid and the Battle of Aleppo - Annabelle Böttcher

Since rebels took over half of Aleppo in November 2012, it constituted one of their major strongholds in Syria for four years despite frequently shifting frontlines and the Islamic State emerging as a powerful enemy. Four years later, in November 2016, a coalition of armed forces supporting the Assad-regime launched an extremely brutal military assault targeting civilians as well as armed rebels. By mid-December the latter, lacking internal cohesion and pressured by the ailing population, ceded nearly all of their territory in Aleppo except for a besieged pocket in the eastern part. The final handover was one of the most complex deals negotiated for Syria and consisted of an unprecedented forced transfer of tens of thousands of residents and armed rebels.

2. January 2017

‘The migration crisis’ and the ‘return to Africa’-discussion. New refugee regimes and practices under way in the Mediterranean - Peter Seeberg

Taking its point of departure in the EU-Turkey agreement regarding refugees and migrants, the article analyses main elements of the EU-Turkey agreement and discusses if the deal (or parts hereof) can be utilized in other contexts. The article discusses the relevance of the EU-Turkey agreement in the Arab Mediterranean in future negotiations related to migration between the EU and the states involved in the complex migratory movements in the Mediterranean region and beyond. The article concludes that it will be difficult to persuade the Arab Mediterranean states to cooperate without promises of significant financial aid, and that several EU member states probably – rather than going for the negotiation strategy – will apply an ostrich approach to the question of how to solve the recent migration crisis.

17. December 2016

Highly Skilled Migrants. How and how much do they contribute to the economic development of the Arab Gulf countries? - Martin Hvidt

In recognizing that the policies regulating the inflow of migrants have an impact on the economic contribution of migrants to the receiving economies, this paper analyzes the potential impact of the Kafala system which is the general framework regulating the inflow of migrants in the Gulf economies. It is pointed out that while the system facilitated speedy entry to the job market, the lack of inclusion in the Gulf economies of the migrants, the lack of long-term prospects of residing in the countries and the highly asymmetric power balance between sponsor and migrant, provides few incentives for the highly skilled migrants to fully contribute to the Gulf economies.

4. December 2016

“My duty as a Citizen”: A personal account of the coup attempt in Turkey - Mehmet Ümit Necef

The author, who was in Istanbul during the coup attempt, presents his own experiences and observations. He has been witness to the self-organisation of some citizens before President Erdogan called on the people to go out and fight against the putschists. This was the first time in Turkish history that civilians took to the streets to defend their votes and the politicians. It is argued that the coup attempt, in which military units opened fire on civilians, will in the long run have a secularising effect on the Turkish Sunnis.

1. November 2016

Jordan’s migration diplomacy and the Syrian refugees - Peter Seeberg

Taking its point of departure in the newly published World Bank Economic Outlook for Jordan (October 2016) the article discusses the recent political and economic realities in Jordan with a focus on the Syrian refugees and the so-called Jordan Compact programme, launched in connection with the conference "Supporting Syria and the Region", held in London 4 February 2016. The initiative can be seen as an example of a successful migration diplomacy effort in the sense that Jordan mobilized strong international state actors and also the World Bank behind the Jordanian interests. At the conference they launched the mentioned programme, according to which 200,000 job opportunities for Syrian refugees would be offered "while they remain in the country, contributing to the Jordanian economy without competing with Jordanians for jobs", as it said in the document. Taking this move Jordan is to some degree moving away from its official encampment policy and this provides Jordan with new opportunities in the context of migration diplomacy.

13. October 2016

“The Boy in the Ambulance”- Kirstine Sinclair

In September 2015, a photo of the drowned Syrian 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi went viral and was referred to as symbolic of the war in Syria and the Mediterranean refugee situation. The public perception aired on social media platforms was that the image would influence policy making and result in improvements for Syrian refugees. In August 2016, another photo of a young boy victim of the war in Syria went viral. This news analysis compares the two photos and discusses what they have in common and why such images are so widely circulated?

8. September 2016

Challenges to implementing ‘Knowledge based economies’ in the Gulf region  - Martin Hvidt

The article points out that the Gulf States, due to their ample economic resources, have never been forced to invent or to innovate, but have been able to base their development on learning, imitation or, most prominently, on importing technologies, know-how and manpower already available globally. This has created a type of economy which is strongly dependent on import and thus on incomes from oil and gas. The recent emphasis among the gulf leaders to transform into “Knowledge economies” is an effort to diversify the economies and to create jobs with a high knowledge content for the local populations. The article argues that due to the current state of affairs in relation to innovation and the educational system, the transformation to a Knowledge Economy will be difficult and long.

14. August 2016

The Nusra Front in Syria becomes the Fatah al-Sham Front  - Annabelle Böttcher

On 28 July 2016, Abu Muhammad al-Jaulani, the leader of the Nusra Front, one of the major factions fighting in Syria and al-Qaida’s Syrian branch, an-nounced the cancellation of operations under the name of the Nusra Front in a video statement televised simultaneously by Aljazeera Arabic television chan-nel and the pro-Syrian opposition Orient News. At the same time he intro-duced the formation of a new entity called “Fatah al-Sham Front” (Jabhat Fatah al-Sham), which literally translates as “Conquest of the Greater Syria Front”. The move was sanctioned by the senior al-Qaida leadership and ac-companied by intense consultations within the Nusra Front’s highest decision-making body, the Shura Council. In the video clip Abu Muhammad al-Jaulani for the first time revealed his face publicly.
In this contribution, I will present a summary of the debate among Western Middle East experts in the social and online media around the Nusra Front’s motives and future strategy in Syria.

22. June 2016

Thinking postcolonially about the Middle East: Two moments of anti-Eurocentric critique - Pınar Bilgin

Present day insecurities in the Middle East are invariably analysed in light of the colonial past. Yet, Eurocentrism, which is a by-product of the coloniser’s orientalist gaze toward the non-European world, continues to shape our understanding of regional dynamics. This paper suggests that thinking postcolonially about the Middle East has two moments of anti-Eurocentric critique. Oftentimes, attempts at thinking postcolonially about the Middle East remain content with the first moment (admitting the ills of colonialism) and not realise the second moment (studying the Middle East as the ‘constitutive outside’ of ‘Europe’, thereby acknowledging mutually constitutive relations). The first section of the paper introduces the notion of thinking postcolonially about the international. Next, I distinguish between what I term as ‘two moments of anti-Eurocentric critique’ and illustrate the difference by looking at the figures of the English traveller and author Gertrude Bell, a.k.a. ‘the woman who made Iraq’, and Iraqi architect Dame Zaha Hadid who embodied the Middle East as a ‘constitutive outside’ of Europe.

22. June 2016

On the failure of the Doha oil negotiations in April 2016 - Martin Beck

Is Saudi Arabia’s strategy to refrain from curbing its production in a situation of shrinking market opportunities self-defeating? Was Saudi Arabia’s policy of letting a potential oil producers’ agreement in Doha fail irrational? The present analysis discusses four issues on Saudi Arabia’s (ir)rationality in terms of its recent oil policy: Does Saudi Arabia intend to re-establish cooperation among oil producers, is it waging a price war, is the Saudi oil policy targeting Iran, and, finally, is its policy a mosaic stone in converting a defensive foreign policy approach into an offensive one?

31. May 2016

“If men were men then women would be women”: ISIL’s construction of masculinity and femininity - Mehmet Ümit Necef

The Center for Terror Analysis (CTA) in Copenhagen presented a number of reasons why some young Danish Muslim men and women are attracted to Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL). Among the reasons given, CTA emphasizes the marginalization and exclusion of some young Muslims from society, which allegedly makes them vulnerable to ISIL’s propaganda and ideology. This article presents critically different explanations of ISIL’s attraction and presents in brief a particular research approach which has not yet attracted much attention among scholars, pundits and security officials. This relatively new approach sees Islamic radical youth groups as countercultural movements reacting against, among other things, the gender relations and the sexual morals in late modern societies.

30. April 2016

The Arab League’s declaration of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization - Martin Beck

By announcing the Arab League’s decision to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Saudi Arabia showed that it is—at least on the ideological level—eager to further securitize the conflict between politicized Sunni and Shia. It is telling to note that even the European stand toward Hezbollah is now more nuanced than the official Arab one, as the European Union’s condemnation of Hezbollah is confined to its military wing. The main task of the present short article is to contextualize Saudi Arabia’s recent policy move. The Arab League’s decision is actually only one – albeit spectacular – move in a game that Saudi Arabia has been playing since the Arab Spring by conducting an active regional policy, including the utilization of regional institutions, particularly the Arab League.

21. April 2016

What Goes on in the Mosque? Or: A Tale of Two-Tongued Imams - Kirstine Sinclair

In March 2016, TV2 launched a series of documentaries on the role of Danish mosques in relation to integration processes in the country. This sparked heated debates about gender roles, fraud and two-tongued Imams.

7. March 2016

War of Declarations in Turkey. "Non-national" Academics vs. the Nationalist Erdogan - Mehmet Ümit Necef

The Declaration entitled "We will not be a Party to this Crime" signed by "Academics for Peace" has blamed the violence in the Turkish Kurdistan solely on the state. This was criticized both by the main opposition party CHP and a number of intellectuals, who support Kurdish rights but condemn using violence to achieve political aims. However, President Erdogan intervened in the debate with harsh accusations against the signatories and called on the judicial system and the university administrations to take actions against the signatories. The result of this intervention was the shifting of focus from the content of the Declaration to freedom of speech. This article analyzes the debate and points to a number of fundamental flaws in the Turkish debate culture.

22. February 2016

What is the point about Sykes-Picot? - Pınar Bilgin

The Sykes-Picot agreement (1916) became (in)famous once again following a tweet in 2014 announcing a propaganda video by the group that call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) declaring ‘the end of Sykes-Picot’. Since then, ‘Sykes-Picot’ was googled thousands of times, and hun-dreds of opinion pieces were written seeking to answer the question whether it is indeed ‘the end of Sykes-Picot’ as declared by ISIS. In this essay, I do not engage with this question. Rather, I inquire into the reasons offered by those who have declared ‘the end of Sykes-Picot’, those who agreed with them, and those who differed. The essay is organized in two sections. In Section 1, I con-sider the argument that it is not ‘the end of Sykes Picot’ because the agreement was never implemented. Second, I turn to those who maintain that there is no need to mourn the Sykes-Picot agreement because the borders drawn by the European colonial powers were ‘artificial’. I conclude by suggesting that the point about Sykes-Picot is not about the ‘artificiality’ of borders in the Middle East (for all borders are artificial in different ways) or the way in which they were drawn (for almost borders were agreed on by a few ‘men’ behind closed doors following or in lieu of wars) but how the agreement symbolizes a regime of top down, state-centric and statist security governance in the Middle East. ISIS does not seek to replace but inherit this regime.


17. January 2016

The Dead Boy & the Aftermath - Kirstine Sinclair

In October 2015, I wrote a news analysis about the photo of Aylan Kurdi and the debate surrounding the circulation of the photo. Now, I am taking a closer look at what happened after the initial circulation of the photo as I ask the question: What can be said about any possible long-term effects of this particular photo?


9. January 2016

How not to think about the Mediterranean ‘refugee crisis’ - Pınar Bilgin

What is currently being debated as the Mediterranean ‘refugee crisis’ has been in the making for a long time. Portraying the latest developments by reducing them to an ‘influx’ of refugees into ‘Europe’ does not allow us to understand the crux of the problem: persistent insecurities in the Mediterranean. This essay traces the evolution of EC/EU policies toward the Mediterranean, suggesting that if the EU’s attempts at practicing common security vis-à-vis the Mediterranean failed, this was not because the model is not fit for a different geography occupied by a different ‘culture’, but because the model was not applied fully in the Mediterranean context. Put differently, what we are currently experiencing is not a ‘refugee crisis’ but the culmination of a series of policy choices by EC/EU policy-makers and their authoritarian Mediterranean partners.


9. December 2015

The Arab Uprisings Five Years After- Martin Beck

The article attempts to critically discuss political change as triggered by the Arab uprisings, which started five years ago. On the one hand, it is shown that the Arab world, which with few exceptions was until then characterized by consolidated authoritarian regimes, became politically more colorful. On the other hand, not all Arab countries to which political transformation is often attributed are undergoing deep political change. Moreover, in some countries—particularly Syria, Yemen, and Libya—transformation processes are overarched and deeply shaped by a high degree of political violence.  

7. December 2015

Partnership and Security – Towards European Neighbourhood Policy 2.0 - Peter Seeberg

The Press Conference at which High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn presented the revised ENP took place only a few days after the terror attack in Paris. This was probably a part of the reason why they so emphatically emphasized the security dimension. Added to that a more explicit focus on partnership can be identified in the document, implying a new focus where the notion of neighbourhood seems to be toned down. The partnership will focus on soft values and promote common values and interests – and furthermore the focus will be on working together on security sector reform, border protection, tackling terrorism, radicalisation and crisis management. This is, given the recent developments in Mediterranean migration and not least the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut etc., quite understandable and underlines security as significant dimension of EU’s foreign policy.

27. November 2015 

The New Kingmakers of Turkey: The “Conservative Moderns” - Mehmet Ümit Necef

This increase of nine points from 41% at the elections on 7 June 2015 corresponds to a gain of 4.5 million voters. The election analyses show clearly that the AKP attracted voters from all other parties. However, the most important achievement of the party seems to have been convincing the former AKP vot-ers, who had abstained at the June elections, to vote for the party again in No-vember. The article discusses how the AKP attained this and presents an analy-sis of the abstainers. It would appear that there has emerged a new group of people in Turkey defined by terms such as “new conservative moderns” and “democratic conservatives”, which will in the near future by all accounts have a great impact on who will sit in the government. 

10. November 2015

Contextualizing the current social protest movement in Lebanon: the politicization of corruption in Lebanon in a global and regional perspective- Martin Beck

Lebanon is very often presented as just the passive receiver of repercussions of the Arab Uprisings 2010/11, particularly the refugee crisis created by the Syrian civil war. Although Lebanese socio-political actors were indeed not at the forefront of the Arab Uprisings, some social movements used the region-wide politicization of Lebanese key issues such as corruption and sectarianism for political mobilization to combat the shortcomings of the Lebanese political system. The present article analyzes the most recent of these movements: “You Stink.”

29. October 2015

A Dead Boy on a Beach- Kirstine Sinclair

On 2nd September 2015, the attempt to escape the Syrian civil war and pursue better life opportunities in Canada went horribly wrong for the Kurdi family. Their boat capsized on the Mediterranean and three of four family members drowned. Only the father of the family survived. The death of the family’s three-year-old made headlines and created international stir as the body of the boy – Aylan Kurdi – was photographed, first, lying on a Turkish beach and, later, as it was picked up by a Turkish gendarme. Within 24 hours, the photo of the boy was referred to as a symbol of the Syrian refugee crisis. 

2. October 2015

Challenges for the revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy and perspectives for the Euro-Mediterranean relations -Peter Seeberg

The dramatic incidents in Greece and Italy, from where thousands of refugees are escaping towards Austria, Germany or Sweden has once again underlined that there is a lack of consensus and feeling of common responsibility among the European countries and in a year where an ambitious attempt has been launched at revising the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) it seems obvious, if not necessary, to place migration and mobility at the heart of a new ENP.

29. September 2015

Who Started the War Between the Turkish State and the PKK - Erdogan or the PKK?- Mehmet Ümit Necef

The article analyses two fundamental narratives about who broke the truce since 2012 between the Turkish state and the PKK (Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party). The first one explains the resumption of armed clashes with reference to the President Erdogan’s unfulfilled ambition of being a president with extraordinary powers.  The other framework stresses the PKK’s ambitions of establishing a “Western Kurdistan” (“Rojava”) in Northern Syria by maintaining and fortifying its privileged position as the Western world’s most trusted ally in the fight against IS (Islamic State).

1. September 2015

Regional security in the Middle East - what is that we seek? - Pinar Bilgin

The ‘Middle East’ is defined in multiple ways. The classic text quoted by almost every one writing on the subject is an article by the historian Roderic Davison (1960) entitled ‘Where is the Middle East?’ The political scientist Nikki Keddie (1973) asked an even more controversial question: ‘Is there a Middle East?’ There has been, in other words, some controversy regarding the definition of the ‘Middle East’ as a region and/or its delineation. Is Iran included? How about Turkey? Is not MENA a better designation?...

4. August 2015

Is Denmark a Multicultural Country? Reflections on the meaning of "Multicultural" in the Danish Generel Election camaign, June 2015 - Kirstine Sinclair

This news analysis takes as its point of departure the Danish parliamentary election campaign in June 2015 and the discussions of whether or not Denmark is to be regarded a multicultural country or not. Both Prime Minister candidates seemed to think Denmark neither is nor should be multicultural. In the current contribution, Kirstine Sinclair argues that more than one understanding of multiculturalism were at play in the debate.

27. July 2015

Will a Quato Plan for Asylum Seekers Work - and Why not ? - Peter Seeberg

The article describes the recent situation in the Mediterranean, where the number of asylum seekers arriving from countries south and east of the Mediterranean Sea is increasing significantly, and discusses the perspectives of a plan by the European Commission, which will redistribute the migrants arriving mainly in Italy and Greece, so that all 28 EU member states will take their part of the responsibility.

27. July 2015

Salalah “Paradise”: The Emergence of a New Tourism Destination in Southern Oman - Steffen Wippel

Compared with its neighbour Dubai, Oman opened up very late to tourism, for fear of infrastructural and socio-cultural unpreparedness. In 1995, the “Vision Oman 2020” stipulated the diversification of the national economy away from oil. For the first time, it also proposed serious policies encouraging the development of tourism.

27. July 2015

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Transition: From Occupation to (De)Legitimization? – Martin Beck

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the occasion of a meeting with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in May, 2015 to accuse the Palestinians of launching a campaign aimed at the delegitimization of Israel. This verbal attack focusing on delegitimization is not an isolated event, but is part of a trend that has become rather common in recent years.

27. July 2015

“The June Earthquake”: Why Did the AKP Lose Many Votes at the June Elections? – Mehmet Ümit Necef

The elections on June the 7th can be seen as the most important rupture in the AKP’s nearly total dominance of Turkish parliamentary politics and its ability to form single party governments uninterrupted since its election victory in October 2002. Ali Bayramoglu, a prominent political analyst writing in the pro-AKP newspaper Yeni Safak, described the result as “The June Earthquake”.

9. June 2015

Ataturk is mentioned only once The Last Letter from the Gallipoli Campaign 1915 - Mehmet Ümit Necef

The article analyzes the controversy created by the film Son Mektup (The Last letter) between moderate Islamists and secularists about how to explain the victory at the Battle of Canakkale in 1915, as Turks call the Gallipoli Campaign, and the role of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the war.

9. June 2015

Indian Ocean Rim Cooperation An Omani Perspective - Steffen Wippel

Since the mid-1990s, the Indian Ocean has been experiencing increasing economic cooperation among its rim states. Middle Eastern countries participate in the work of the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Notably Oman is a very active member of this organisation and has established manifold economic links with countries of the region.

29. May 2015

Upgrading the Arab League by Establishing a Joint Military Force - Martin Beck

The present article deals with the Arab League’s plan to set up a joint military force. What factors led to this plan? Is the initiative likely to endure? Beyond these two analytical questions, the article also raises the normative issue of the desirability of the Arab military force.

7. May 2015

New revelations concerning the assassination of Rafiq Hariri thus the process still meaningful - Peter Seeberg

New information have occurred in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), exploring the alliances prior to and after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005.

6. May 2015

Terrorist or Loser Reactions to the Terror Attacks in Copenhagen February 2015 - Kirstine Sincair

This news analysis takes as its point of departure the terror attacks in Copenhagen on 14th and 15th February 2015. After describing the factual details of the attacks, we shall take a closer look at the debate which followed the attacks in printed, visual and social media.

6. May 2015

Book Review Being Muslim in South Asia Diversity and Daily Life - Gry Hvass Pedersen

Up to one-third of the world’s Muslim population lives in the countries of South Asia, making it an important region when researching on Muslims and Muslim societies within a global perspective. The anthology under review provides both a good introduction for new scholars in the field and interesting new perspectives on the diversity of South Asian Muslims and the conditions they face for researchers already familiar with the region.

25. February 2015

Tangier Morocco in Transnational Flows and Networks - Steffen Wippel

The port of Moroccan city Tangier is experiencing impressive growth in container throughput in the last couple of years. Connecting several parts of the world, this expanding port relies on the corresponding infrastructure.

2. February 2015

Cap au Sud Course South for Morocco s Economy - Steffen Wippel

International and national media are currently showing increased attention to Morocco’s economic presence in sub-Saharan Africa. After a brief survey of the country’s trade relations and economic agreements across the Sahara, the paper focuses on Moroccan investment and firm cooperation, illustrated by strategic sectors such as finance, telecommunication and air transport.

22. January 2015

Quo vadis Palestine - Martin Beck

Recent events related to Palestine have brought the Palestinian issue, which had received fairly low attention during the heyday of the Arab Spring, back to the center stage of Middle East-ern politics.

19. January 2015

Refugees in Jordan and the Regional Turmoil - Peter Seeberg

Taking its point of departure in the first UNHCR 2015-update on the refugee situation in Jordan the article discusses the recent development in Jordan, where regional turmoil for years has resulted in involuntary mass influx of refugees.

15. November 2014

Tunisia Between the Elections in 2014 - Analysis by Martin Beck

The present article analyzes the Tunisian Parliamentary elections in the light of a new political diversity, which has been a major feature of the Middle East since the Arab Uprisings in 2010/11. A comparison between recent political developments in Egypt and Tunisia respectively shows how much more advanced Tunisia is in terms of the democratization. Yet, also in Tunisia many obstacles are yet to be removed from the way to a successful transition process.

22. October 2014

If not a Military Solution in Libya, Then What? - Analysis by Peter Seeberg

On 18th of October, the Governments of France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States expressed in a Joint Statement on Libya their agreement that they do not support a military solution to the Libyan crisis. The article describes how a dual power situation has developed in Libya, where the monopoly on violence definitely no longer is in the hands of the legitimate government.

22. October 2014

Whose Caliphate? The Ideology and Geo-Politics of Islamic State - News Analysis by Kirstine Sinclair

Taking its point of departure in the latest threat of a pending decapitation of another Western hostage – that of Abdul-Rahman Kassig – by Islamic State, this news analysis investigates the ideology and the geo-politics of Islamic State and asks: How is one to understand the relationship between religion and politics in this line of thought? Or: Why would Islamic State threaten to kill a fellow Muslim and aid worker?

1. September 2014

Interview with Martin Beck in Kristeligt Dagblad

Nikoloj Krak from the Kristeligt Dagblad interviewed Martin Beck on the Arab Spring (in Danish)

8. August 2014

The Egyptian Political Debate on the Youth and the January 25th Revolution (Part 2) - Analysis by Mervat F. Hatem

This is the second part of a discussion of the role that the youth has played in the Arab uprisings of 2011 and the political transitions that followed. In part II of this discussion, I begin with an examination of the political context of the Egyptian debate on the youth and the roles that they layed in the revolutions of January of 2011 and June 2013. Next, I discuss how the youth emerged as specific objects of a heated debate in many newspaper articles and television programs in November and December of 2013 becoming an extension of the partisan political debate that sought to exclude the Muslim Brotherhood and their youthful supporters from politics following the July 3, 2013 coup that deposed President Mohammed Mursi...

28. July 2014

Hamas, Israel and the July Gaza War 2014: War as the result of a policy of consecutive provocations - Analysis by Martin Beck

Apart from daily descriptive reports on war activities in Gaza, most analyses in newspapers deal with the normative question of whether Israel is justified in waging war (and the way it does) against Hamas and the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, respectively. In contrast, the present analysis applies an empirical-analytical approach, thereby arguing that—the casualties and damages of the war notwithstanding—both for Hamas and Israel the ongoing war is functional beyond security interests. Thus, it appears plausible that the decisions of both parties to go to war were shaped by the calculus of having an opportunity to increase their respective powers, mainly in terms of enhancing legitimacy.

24. July 2014

How important are regional and international organizations in the Middle East? - Analysis by Martin Beck

The present analysis aims at analyzing the role of international and regional organizations in the Middle East. In comparison to other world regions, regional and international relations of the Arab world are under-institutionalized. The aims of the present analysis are, firstly, to better comprehend the finding of an under-institutionalized Middle East; secondly, there are some interesting exceptions that are to be shed light on; thirdly, there are some indicators that the “Arab Spring” vitalized regional organizations in the Middle East.

10. July 2014

Mobility Partnerships and the EU, Part II: The Cases of Libya, Morocco and Tunisia  - Analysis by Peter Seeberg

This is the second part of a news analysis that explores Mobility partnerships and the EU in terms of implementation and ceonsequences. The Task Force Mediterranean has started its work implementing the EU Mobility Partnerships with Morocco and Tunesia. This can be seen in an EU-Comission statement (of May, 2014).

6. July 2014

Mobility Partnerships and the EU: Where are we regarding implementation and what will be the consequence? - Analysis by Peter Seeberg

This is the first part of a news analysis that explores Mobility partnerships and the EU in terms of implementation and ceonsequences. The Task Force Mediterranean has started its work implementing the EU Mobility Partnerships with Morocco and Tunesia. This can be seen in an EU-Comission statement (of May, 2014).


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