17. December 2016
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.