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.

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