Comment

DR LAURA RUIZ DE ELVIRA: BASHAR AL-ASAD’S POLITICAL ENGINEERING AND THE RUPTURE OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT (2000-2010). A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE PRISM OF THE CHARITABLE SECTOR

Abstract: “Change based on continuity” was the slogan of Bashar al-Asad’s first years in power back in 2000. That change materialized in the form of a partial opening of the economy and the civic sector as well as in an important rise of charitable associations, to which social responsibilities were outsourced. However, new tools of control, disciplinarization, cooptation and repression were conceived and put into practice. Based on a two-year fieldwork conducted between 2007 and 2010 in Syria, the lecture will address the main characteristics of what Ruiz de Elvira calls Bashar al-Asad’s “political engineering”. She will argue that subcontracting poor-relief measures to charities and non-state actors eroded the regime’s political legitimacy and helped sow the seeds of the 2011 uprising.

 

Dr Laura Ruiz de Elvira is a permanent researcher at the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD). She holds a double degree in political science and in Arabic and has previously been a post-doctoral researcher at the CNMS in Marburg University (Germany) and at the IREMAM in Aix-en-Provence (France). Her research interests focus on charities, commitment, social movements, politicization, social policies and political crisis in Syria and in Tunisia.

She is the author, together with Tina Zintl, of Civil Society and the State in Syria: The Outsourcing of Social Responsibility (Lynne Rienner, 2012).

laura_ruiz_de_elvira.jpg

Comment

Intra-Kurdish Division and Abadi’s Options

Comment

Intra-Kurdish Division and Abadi’s Options

In the wake of the September 25 referendum in Kurdistan, the Iraqi government announced on October 15 that it began a military deployment to reestablish authority in Kirkuk in coordination with the Peshmerga. It soon became clear that the Peshmerga mentioned belonged to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)—specifically, the Talabani family wing—which views aggressive moves toward independence with far more skepticism than its political rivals in the Kurdistan Regional Government dominated by Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The PUK drew the ire of fellow Kurds who viewed the deal as facilitating the federal forces’ reclamation of the territory. To complicate matters further, some reports indicated that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) Quds Force leader Qassim Suleimani appears to have played a role in convincing the Talabani family to broker the deal in the absence of any other international or regional mediator. These events highlight the depth of intra-Kurdish divisions at a time of rapidly rising tensions.

Comment

Comment

Bassam Haddad - The Rise, Transformation, and Prospects of “the”/“a” Syrian Uprising

Abstract: The origin of the Syrian Uprising is indeed an overdue struggle against tyranny, with all its complexities and correlates: economic, political, social. The history of the Syrian regime’s brutality, and, its shift to neoliberal economic development since 1986, polarized Syrian polity beyond repair, and increasingly created profound discontent among most social sectors. Combined with cynical as well as clumsy external support of both the civil and armed opposition, the Syrian uprising was militarized and radicalized, and, with ample support from its organic and strategic allies, the regime was kept afloat. By 2014 the Syrian uprising gave way to a fully-developed proxy war in which any notion of revolutionary victory was now divorced from the original sentiments of the peaceful protesters. The form, content, and relations of rebel groups became a main source of controversy and discursive wars about the nature of the uprising. A crucial conduit for this controversy was the array of external forces that intervened and helped shape the course of the Syrian uprising on all sides.

 

Dr Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program and Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011). Dr Haddad serves as Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal and the Knowledge Production Project. He is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad, and director of the series Arabs and Terrorism. Bassam is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine and Executive Director of the Arab Studies Institute.

 

 

IMG_1879.png

Comment

After the Referendum: Negotiation Is Still Possible

Comment

After the Referendum: Negotiation Is Still Possible

Monday’s referendum in Kurdistan resulted in a situation whereby all parties lack good options. To be sure, Masoud Barzani, the leader of Kurdistan Region Government (KRG), achieved some immediate political gains. He managed to mobilize his base by calling for and conducting the referendum despite international objections. In doing so, he strengthened his political stance and forced his Kurdish rivals to follow his leadership, which itself is legally dubious since his term was extended via a partisan agreement of ambiguous legal basis. Though the results are still not finalized, the vote was expected to give a clear ‘yes’ to the call for independence. Now comes the difficult question: what is Barzani going to do with the referendum and its outcome?

Comment

أزمة استفتاء كردستان: التعقيدات والخيارات

Comment

أزمة استفتاء كردستان: التعقيدات والخيارات

دفع إعلان أربيل إجراء الاستفتاء على استقلال إقليم كردستان الحكومةَ العراقيةَ وقوى إقليمية ودولية إلى رفضه، فوقع مسعود بارزاني في معضلة الاختيار بين التراجع عن الاستفتاء مما قد يقضي على حياته السياسية، أو التمسك به مما سيفاقم عزلة الإقليم.

Comment

DR SHAMEL AZMEH - SYRIA’S PASSAGE TO UPRISING AND CONFLICT: THE END OF THE “RENTIER FIX” AND THE CONSOLIDATION OF A NEW ELITE RULE

Abstract: Dr Azmeh will provide an economic perspective of recent developments in the Middle East. Focusing on the Syrian case, the lecture will explore the evolution of state institutions in the Syrian case and how the interaction of socio-economic and sectarian factors contributed to the disintegration of state institutions in the last few years.

 

 

Dr Shamel Azmeh is a professional economist who is Assistant Professor in International Development at the University of Bath. He is currently leading a three-year collaboration project at the Centre with the American University in Cairo entitled 'North Africa’s Deep Integration with the EU: A Path to Upgrading and Diversification or to preserve the Region’s Position in Mediterranean Production Networks'. The project examines the integration of Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia in 'Mediterranean Production Networks' with European partners. Shamel has more than ten years of experience in research, teaching, and policy work on issues related to international political economy, trade, global production networks, and industrial policy with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa region.

index.jpg

The day after: What happens when IS is defeated?

Comment

The day after: What happens when IS is defeated?

On Tuesday, September 5, Syrian regime forces fought into Deir e-Zor city and broke through an Islamic State blockade of several government districts there for the first time in three years.

The advance followed months of steady territorial gains by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies in Syria’s oil-rich eastern reaches, the Islamic State’s (IS) heartland in the country.

Comment

التجربة التوافقية في العراق: النظرية والتطبيق والنتائج

Comment

التجربة التوافقية في العراق: النظرية والتطبيق والنتائج

تتنــاول هذه الدراســة تجربة اعتمــاد نظام الديمقراطية التوافقية فــي العراق بعد عام 2003 ، وهــي تنطلــق مــن محاولــة فهــم النظــام التوافقــي واألســس النظريــة التــي قــام عليهــا، ّ والخصائــص التــي تمي ّ ــزه من األنظمــة الديمقراطيــة األخرى، ومن ثــم مقارنة ذلــك بالنظام ّ الذي تم اعتماده في العراق والمدى الذي تنطبق عليه صفة التوافقية. وتشــير الدراســة إلى بعــض اإلشــكاليات النظريــة فــي النظام التوافقــي، وكذلك فــي نموذجه الــذي اعتمد في ً العــراق، والذي اســتعار عدد ً ا كثيرا من العناصر التي تدعو إليهــا النظرية التوافقية؛ كالنظام ّ االنتخابــي القائــم علــى التمثيل النســبي، وبعض الصيــغ العرفية لتمثيــل المكونات. لكن ّ الدراســة تجــادل بــأن ًّ النموذج العراقي ليــس توافقي ٍ ا على نحــو ٍّ تام ّ ، وأن بعــض عناصر نظام ُســس الديمقراطية ّ الحكــم األغلبــوي موجودة فيه، وأن التطبيق افترق في حاالت كثيرة عن أ ّ التوافقيــة، وأن ً لألمــر عالقــة بكل إشــكالية من اإلشــكاليات النظريــة لهذا النظــام، وطبيعة الصراع السياسي في العراق.

Comment

Prof Said Arjomand - Weberian Methodology and Political Sociology

Prof Said Arjomand discusses the implications of Weber’s two early methodological essays for a historical sociology of Islam as illustrated by Arjomand in a recent essay. The discussion will then narrow its focus to the political field by assessing the relevance of Max Weber’s political sociology, as summarized in his essay “Politics as Vocation” for all research projects on contemporary politics. The SFM participants will bring in their own research experience to the discussion.

 

Prof Said Arjomand is currently the Editor of the Journal of Persianate Studies. Arjomand won the Section’s Award for the Best Essay in Comparative and Historical Sociology in 1993. This was followed by "The Law, Agency and Policy in Medieval Islamic Society: Development of the Institutions of Learning from the Tenth to the Fifteenth Century," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 41.2 (1999). He had recently edited two books on comparative constitutionalism: Constitutionalism and Political Reconstruction, Brill, 2007, and Constitutional Politics in the Middle East, Hart Publishing, 2008. He was the Crane Inaugural Fellow in Law and Public Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and a Carnegie Scholar (2006 - 2008). Arjomand is currently Director of the Stony Brook Institute for Global Studies.

images.jpg

التصدع الاجتماعي في سوريا

Comment

التصدع الاجتماعي في سوريا

أثر النزاع في رأس المال الاجتماعي

المركز السوري لبحوث السياسات

يشخص تقرير التصدع الاجتماعي أثر النزاع المسلح في سوريا على العلاقات الاجتماعية من خلال استخدام مفهوم رأس المال الاجتماعي مدخلاً لتحليل الثقة والتعاون والقيم المشتركة. ويطور البحث دليلاً مركباً لقياس رأس المال الاجتماعي استناداً إلى مسح ميداني متعدد الأغراض. ويساعد تحليل هذا الدليل عبر الزمن والمناطق وتفصيل مكوناته ودراسة محدداته في فهم حالة التصدع الاجتماعي في سوريا. ويقترح التقرير سياسات بديلة لتجاوز الآثار الاجتماعية الكارثية للنزاع.

Comment

Comment

Dr Isam Al-Khafaji: De-Urbanising the Syrian Revolt

The Syrian revolt, which has disintegrated into a bloody attrition war, has been largely viewed as that of a majority Sunni population trying to depose a regime belonging to the minority Alawite sect. While this view may present a partially true explanation, it fails to explain why the involvement of different Sunni regions in the revolt varied to a large extent and the rising gap between the anti-Assad urbanites on the one hand and the armed militants on the other. It further fails to account for the wide diversity within the rebellion camp and the hostilities among the mushrooming opposition groups.

Comment