13985864027_498b73175f_bOn Fridays at 3:00 during the semester, the CMES hosts an informal weekly guided discussion of current events in the Middle East and North Africa, open to all and free of charge. This page records past and upcoming topics and suggested readings.

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11/30 ‘Sanctions are Coming': US Sanctions on Iran Reloaded

On November 5, the Trump administration imposed the most severe sanctions against Iran, reversing the joint nuclear agreement between the two countries.The United States is thus trying to kill Iran’s nuclear ambitions and also supposedly pressure Iran, through such sanctions, to stop supporting groups in Yemen and Syria. President Rouhani said that the renewed sanctions were another iteration of the “economic war” with the United States. In hope of preventing a global crisis, temporary waivers have been granted to countries such as Turkey, while the rising price of oil is a concern for United States if Iran’s oil sector is shut down. This week, we will discuss the renewal of sanctions on Iran and what it means for the region and for the global economy.

Recommended Reading:
Iran Sanctions Explained
European ‘clearing house’ to bypass US sanctions against Iran
How can Iran bypass US sanctions?
Erdogan: US sanctions on Iran wrong, aimed to unbalance world
Iran’s economy to suffer but likely ride out U.S. sanctions storm
Iranian official vows to win ‘economic war’ against Washington’s sanctions
US sanctions may have limited effect on Iran’s economy
US gives Iraqis an out on Iran sanctions
Trump’s Iran sanctions attempt to solve a much bigger problem
Can Iran’s Government Survive the Toughest Sanctions in History?
Trump’s Magical Thinking on Iran Sanctions Won’t Advance U.S. Interests

Why Iranian Women are Among the Most Vulnerable to US Sanctions

11/23 No MENA Salon due to holiday

11/16 No MENA Salon due to MESA Conference

11/9 Dispatches from Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria

On October 27, leaders of Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France met in Istanbul to discuss the ongoing war in Syria. The summit brought two groups together. France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Britain, and the United States as the first, and the trio of Iran, Russia, and Turkey as the second. Each group has its own interests in Syria and its future in the region. Yet, despite this summit and Trump touting the defeat of ISIS, attacks from the remnants of the Islamic State are ongoing in Syria and neighboring Iraq. Iraq has experienced targeted assassinations of local leaders and politicians and a car bombing in Mosul, unheard of since it was freed from ISIS rule in July 2017. These new developments come in light of political struggles over Iraq and Syria’s futures in the region, with Iran securing allies in Iraq’s new government following the national election in May of 2018. Iran’s rivals view its growing influence as an acute challenge, with Israel, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States, converging on the common objective of containing Iranian regional influence. Recent salons have focused on Saudi Arabia in crisis. This week’s salon will pan out and focus on the local and regional dynamics in “post”-ISIS Iraq and Syria.
Recommended reading:
The Trump White House Says ISIS Has Been Defeated in Iraq. The Data Says Otherwise.
Turkey, Russia Seek European Input on Syrian Settlement
Russia’s New Game in Syria
Why do Kurds Continue to Flee Iraq’s Kurdish Region?
When the Weapons Fall Silent: Reconciliation in Sinjar After ISIS
Iraq War Map: Who Controls What
The Middle East’s New Battle Lines
How Iran Won a Face-off With the US in Iraq

11/2 The Jamal Khashoggi Case and Regional Rivalries

The Jamal Khashoggi case continues to have  an enormous impact on international relations in the Middle East. Turkey has been at the center of the investigation, providing key evidence to the global audience, and pinning Saudi Arabia and MBS to the crime. This has given the Turkish government the appearance of the moral high ground despite its own abysmal track record with regard to protecting journalists and securing free speech. Given the irony of the situation, questions haven arisen about what is motivating the region’s players in formulating their responses to this case. This week, in light of the ongoing confusion around the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, we will try to address how these developments fit into the grand scheme of power and influence in the region.

Recommended reading:

The Long Struggle for Supremacy in the Muslim World
Khashoggi’s Death is Highlighting the Ottoman-Saudi Islamic Rift
Turkey and the Khashoggi saga: How Erdogan played his cards right
Turkey’s anger at Saudi Arabia over Jamal Khashoggi is about much more than a murder
Jamal Khashoggi murder: What is Turkey’s game with Saudi Arabia?

How Turkey and Saudi Arabia became frenemies – and why the Khashoggi case could change that
A chance for the US to distance itself from Saudi Arabia
Opinion: Why the Khashoggi Murder is a Disaster for Israel

10/26 International Fallout After Khashoggi Disappearance

As new details emerge in the disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, fallout from technology companies, investment firms, art institutions, and Western political ties has grown. Those who have seen Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), as a reformer and game changer have scrambled to address the diplomatic and public relations blow back. The disappearance of Khashoggi and the previous detention and reported torture of dozens of Saudis in the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh back in 2017 comes into sharp relief with the promoted economic reforms and liberalization of Saudi society. In light of this fallout, what are we to make of this international outrage, particularly from Western politicians with close financial ties and economic investments in the stability and prosperity of the Kingdom? Why has the Khashoggi case drawn such international ire in ways the prolonged and brutal Saudi assault on Yemen has not? In this week’s salon, we will delve deeper into this case and what it means for the region and Saudi’s international players.
Recommended reading:
Khashoggi and the Myth of the ‘Liberal’ Middle East Crown Princes (subscription required)
Praying for Jamal Khashoggi
How One Journalist’s Death Provoked a Backlash That Thousands Dead in Yemen Did Not
Major Art Institutions Navigate Ties to Saudi Arabia After Disappearance of Journalist
The challenge of reporting the Khashoggi story
Khashoggi affair unlikely to derail Saudi Arabia index inclusion
“The Dirtiest Money on Earth.” Silicon Valley Has a Saudi Arabia Problem.
Silicon Valley hoped the Khashoggi story would go away; instead, it may end an era
‘It would be bad for our interests’: why Thatcher ignored the murder of an Observer journalist

10/19 Death, Disappearance, Jail, and Exile: Dissidence and journalism

International news media has focused on the recent disappearance and alleged execution of a dissident Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi officials. Jamal Khashoggi, also known as Cemal Kasikci, did not have a long track record as a “dissident” journalist, but was known as of late to be in an inevitable exile as he had grown increasingly critical of the current Saudi government. What happened to Jamal Khashoggi? If the allegations are true, what does the incident imply for the state of journalism and voices of opposition in the Middle East? Is it simply a continuation of ongoing suppression of dissidence all over the Middle East, including countries like Egypt and Turkey? How will these incidents continue to shape the relationships of regional and international powers? In the next salon, we will discuss these questions and the stakes of journalism and freedom of speech in the Middle East.
Recommended Reading:
Jamal Khashoggi: The emergence of Saudi dissident, and his potentially tragic end
Opinion | Read Jamal Khashoggi’s columns for The Washington Post
Commentary: How Khashoggi’s disappearance could change Middle East…
Saudi Women Who Fought for the Right to Drive Are Disappearing and Going Into…
U.S. raises pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist
Khashoggi Case Raises Tensions Between Saudi Prince and Turkish President
Erdogan’s Turkey: The world’s biggest prison for journalists | Opinion
Egypt’s jailed journalists: In numbers

10/12 Yemen’s Continuing War

Two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights Council, overriding the objections of Saudi Arabia and its allies, voted to continue an investigation by a panel of international experts into the war in Yemen. This comes in the wake of a recent cholera outbreak, with roughly 10,000 new cases each week, and increasing civilian casualties. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been aided by the United States’ continued support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in their campaigns against Houthi rebels. While this support has been ongoing since the Obama administration, the Trump administration has seen the Houthis as the same sort of threat as other Iranian-backed groups in the region. While local factors in Yemen have been at play in the prolonging of the brutal conflict, recent geopolitical developments have aided in sustaining and ramping up military campaigns, leading to an increased number of civilian casualties and a worsening humanitarian crisis. During this week’s salon, we will look into recent developments in Yemen and discuss current geopolitical factors that have prolonged the conflict.

Recommended reading:
The United States Could End the War in Yemen If It Wanted To
Yemen War Investigation Is Extended by U.N. Council
U.S. approach to Yemen is challenged as country splinters and government vanishes
‘This shouldn’t be happening': Civilian deaths spike in Yemen
‘A million more’ Yemen children face famine
West Right to ‘Collude’ With Saudi Arabia on Yemen Crisis
America is not an Innocent Bystander in Yemen
Yemen cholera outbreak accelerates to 10,000+ cases per week: WHO

10/5 Troubled Times for Iran

Two weeks ago, a parade of the Revolutionary Guards was attacked by undercover militants in the city of Ahvaz, which resulted in dozens of casualties. In addition to various groups claiming responsibility for the attacks, Iran’s leaders were quick to accuse Gulf countries and the US as the perpetrators of the attack, and threatened to respond. Continuing the sharp detour from the Obama-era rapprochement policy, in his hawkish speech at UN, President Trump urged world countries to join his government’s efforts to isolate Iran through economic sanctions. Meanwhile, Iran continues to exert its influence on Syria and Iraq as a regional player. All of these developments are taking place amidst an economic crisis in the country. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will try to understand these latest developments and their implications for Iran, for the region, and for other major players.

Recommended Reading:

Significance of attack on military parade in Iran

Iran attack shows opponents see ‘unique opportunity,’ experts say

Trump takes aim at Iran in defiant UN speech

President Trump’s Efforts to Isolate Iran at the U.N. Backfired

What does Iran want in northern Syria?

Yes, Iran’s Economy is Suffering–But It’s Not All About the U.S.

Fears rise in Iran as currency crash causes chaos

9/28 25 Years On: The Legacy of the Oslo Accords

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the first Oslo Accords. The historic handshake exchanged between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, under the supervision of US President Bill Clinton in Washington, DC, was anticipated to provide a timeline for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Yet, the mutual political will demonstrated during the talks could not prevent immediate bitter reaction arising among other players from the both sides of the conflict. 25 years after the first Accords, the shared verdict is that the opportunity for establishing peace has been lost. In this week’s MENA Salon, we aim to discuss the current condition of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the peace-process. What has been the legacy of the Oslo Accords? Was it ever a viable beginning for peace? Is “peace” possible?

Recommended reading:

25 Years After Oslo Accords, Mideast Peace Seems Remote as Ever

The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords

Palestine, Israel and the Oslo Accords: What you need to know
No One Will Be Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Oslo Accords
Oslo at 25: Why Palestinians Like Me See No Hope for Peace
I advised the Palestinian Negotiating Team, It Was a Mistake to Have Negotiated With Israel at All

9/21 Egypt Five Years After Rabaa 

August 15th marked the fifth anniversary of the massacre at Cairo’s Rabaa and Nahda Squares, in which Egyptian security forces killed at least 800 people. An Egyptian court on Saturday September 8 issued its final verdict upholding the death sentences of 75 Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters for their participation in the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsy. In the same week, the US announced it will release 1.2 billion dollars in military aid to Egypt, despite concerns for its human rights record. Amidst Egypt’s highest economic growth in a decade as well as austerity measures, the political landscape looks bleak. During this week’s salon, we will discuss Egypt’s current economic growth, as well as deepening social discontent in light of anniversary of the Rabaa massacre.

Recommended reading:

Trump called Egypt’s Sissi “a f***ing killer” after striking partnership, book claims
Egyptian court upholds death sentences for 75 people over 2013 demonstration
A Day After Trump Pledges $1 Billion in Aid, Egypt Sentences American Citizen to…
Egypt can handle the emerging markets downturn ‘up to a limit,’ finance minister says
US Releases Aid to Egypt Amid Human Rights Concerns
‘Six months after my deportation from Egypt, I’m facing some sad truths about the…
Commentary: Five myths about U.S. aid to Egypt

9/14 Saudi Arabia: Image and Reality in an Era of Reform 

Since Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman took power in June 2017, Saudi Arabia has become the center of international media attention on its new found reform agenda–from granting women the right to drive, effective in June 2018, to restricting the powers of the religious police, to new found connections and investments between the Kingdom and Silicon Valley. These reforms have not come without their critics. Many have grown skeptical in the face of the 2017 crackdown on corruption, leading to the house arrest of many prominent figures in the royal family, the continued and intensified war on Yemen, and the arrests of numerous women’s rights activists. During this week’s Salon, we will delve deeper into recent developments in the era of reform in the Kingdom.

Recommended reading:

Saudi Vision 2030
Opinion | Crazy Poor Middle Easterners

Strange Bedfellows: Saudi Arabia and Tesla Inc.

Xenophobia, tribalism and imagined enemies: Mohammed bin Salman’s brand of Saudi nationalism
Why Donald Trump and Mohammed Bin Salman need each other, even as U.S.-Saudi relations…
Saudi Arabia Seeks Death Penalty in Trial of Outspoken Cleric

Opinion: Saudi Arabia’s reforms expand the space for women–but still deny…

9/7 Turkey’s Economic Turbulence & Rift with US

For many, the anticipated Turkish presidential election in June was going to mark the beginning of a new era and calm financial markets. But the Turkish economy has worsened after the spat with the United States over the fate of North Carolina Pastor Andrew Brunson, imprisoned in October 2016 in Turkey over alleged ties to the Gulen movement. The Turkish lira continues its nose-dive and a US-Turkey trade war has erupted. Does Turkey’s government have a plan? Does it have the resources and credibility to survive this turmoil? This week’s salon delves deeper into this crisis.

Recommended reading:

The US-Turkey trade spat, explained
Anti-Americanism rises in Turkey as US-Turkish tensions escalate
Erdogan, Trump, and the strongman politics devastating Turkey’s economy
Erdogan to Turkey: The West is waging ‘economic war’
Trump and Erdogan: compare and contrast
Can Qatar and Germany save Turkey’s economy?
Turkey’s crisis exposes the perils of strongman rule

8/31 Summer In Review

Join us for the first MENA Salon of the Fall 2018 semester, as we revisit the events and themes that shaped this summer. This year’s weekly salon will be led by Candace Lukasik, PhD candidate in Anthropology at UC Berkeley, and Deniz Ilhan, PhD candidate in Sociology at Stony Brook University.

Recommended reading:

Even with Mo Salah, Egypt can’t catch a break
Murder in monastery reverberates in Coptic Church
How Saudi-Canada Spat exposed Bin Salman
Why ultra-nationalists exceeded expectations in Turkey
Israel picks identity over democracy. Others may follow
Hidden Wounds of Yemen’s War


5/4 Year In Review

Join us for the final MENA Salon of the semester, as we revisit the events and themes that shaped this academic year.

4/27 Belonging and Exclusion: Mizrahi Communities in Israel

On April 2, the Israeli government scrapped a deal with the United Nations to grant thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers legal residency. In the last few weeks, IDF gunfire has killed dozens and wounded hundreds of Palestinians attempting to “return” to Israel by marching on Gaza’s border-barrier. Events over the past month have raised a profound question about contemporary Israel: who belongs? The question is as old as the Middle East’s mandate system, and the answer has been contested by a plethora of identity groups West of the Jordan River over the past century. This week’s MENA Salon is about the predicament of one community among this multitude: Jewish people of Middle Eastern and North African descent. We will consider how experiences of persecution, displacement, resettlement, and discrimination have shaped Mizrahi perspectives on belonging in the region.

Recommended reading:

Israel’s migrant problem: It’s not just about Africans
Israeli series exposes raw wounds from ethnic Jewish divide
Leaving paradise
In Morocco, exploring remnants of Jewish history
From Israel, a Jewish singer with Arab roots revives the music of his family’s past
Miri Regev’s culture war 

4/20 A Chemical Attack and Airstrikes in Syria

On April 7, approximately 70 people were killed in a chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma. Responding to the attack one week later, the Trump administration, together with Britain and France, launched airstrikes against the Assad regime. Events in Syria over the past two weeks have ignited a diplomatic firestorm and raised a number of questions about action against the Syrian government. What were the airstrikes meant to accomplish? Will they alter the course of Syria’s Civil War? Will they have an impact on international relations and law? We will consider these and other questions in this week’s MENA Salon.

Recommended reading:

What we know about the suspected chemical weapon attack in East Ghouta
Expert views: Impact of the Syrian missile strike
“Too little, too late:” What Douma refugees think of US strikes on Syria
Syria has paid a terrible price for the west’s disastrous policy of doing nothing
Russia’s “madman” routine in Syria may have averted direct confrontation with the U.S., for now
No, US strikes on Syria will not start World War III
Bad legal arguments for the Syria strikes

4/13 IDF Fires on Palestinians at the Gaza Border

On March 30, about 30,000 Palestinians demonstrated along border of the Gaza Strip to commemorate a 1976 Arab-Israeli general strike and to demand entry into Israel. Members of the Israeli Defense Forces fired live ammunition at the protestors as they marched on the border, leaving 18 Palestinians dead and many more wounded. More protests are planned along the border in April. These developments raise a number of pressing questions. What factors are spurring these protests? What is driving the Israeli government response? How should the United States respond? Will the violence along the border continue to escalate? We will consider these and other questions in this week’s MENA Salon.

Recommended reading:
Israel and Gaza Brace for Round 2 of Protests at Border Fence
With Riots and Live Fire, Gaza Just Went 25 Years Back in Time
When it comes to Gaza, hold your fire
Why Israeli soldiers must refuse to fire at unarmed Palestinian protestors
Learning from the past in Gaza
Hamas and the mass protests in Gaza
After the Gaza killings, it’s time to crack down on Israel
Brutality is the only answer Israel has to Gaza’s civil disobedience

4/6 MENA Salon Canceled

3/23 The Fate of the Iran Deal

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s removal from the Trump administration on March 13 has raised serious doubts about the future of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Tillerson’s likely replacement is CIA director Mike Pompeo, a staunch opponent of the agreement. In this week’s MENA Salon we will build upon last week’s discussion of nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East with a focus on the fate of the Iran Deal.

Recommended reading:
Mike Pompeo should talk to Iran. Here’s why.
Can Europe save the Iran nuclear deal?
Trump’s and Pompeo’s path to nuclear crisis
How to save the Iran nuclear deal
The path to a nuclear-free Middle East
Europe, Iran baffled By US position on nuclear deal

3/16 A Nuclear Deal with Saudi Arabia?

On March 2, a delegation led by US Energy Secretary Rick Perry met with Saudi officials in London. The parties opened discussions on a potential deal that would allow the Gulf state to purchase nuclear power plants from American contractors. The prospect of a nuclear cooperation agreement between the US and Saudi Arabia raises a number of questions. What sparked these negotiations? Would a deal undermine nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East? How will other regional actors respond? We will consider these and other questions in this week’s MENA Salon.

Recommended reading:
Why Trump might bend nuclear security rules to help Saudi Arabia build reactors in the desert
Don’t give Saudi Arabia an easy path to nukes
Selling Saudis the nuclear rope to hang US
Saudis have leverage to keep uranium enrichment rights in a US nuclear deal
5 myths about Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program

3/9 MENA Salon Canceled

3/2 Press “Freedom” as Diplomacy: Turkish-German Relations

On February 16, a court in Istanbul ordered the release of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel after 366 days of pre-trial detention. Yücel’s release, following months of lobbying by the German government, marks rare good news for jailed journalists in Turkey, which is now ranked the world’s worst jailer of journalists, with around 160 held in detention according to the Turkish Journalists’ Association. What can we learn about German-Turkish relations from Yücel’s release? What was at stake for each country? Under what conditions does a jailed journalist become a bargaining chip between two key regional players? In this week’s MENA Salon, we will reflect on these larger questions using Yücel’s story as a case-study.

Recommended reading:

The long road to freedom for German journalist Yücel
Is Erdogan using imprisoned foreigners as bargaining chips?
Turkey and Germany, a relationship always worth watching
Turkey’s tough tactics with US and Germany will enable it to get its way
Turkey’s effort to repair relations trips over its crackdown

2/23 Corruption In the Middle East

On February 13, Israeli police recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for accepting $300,000 in bribes. Between November and January, the Saudi government detained 381 individuals and seized $106.6 billion as part of an aggressive anti-corruption campaign. For its part, Iraq arrested 290 officials on corruption charges in 2017. What drives government corruption in the Middle East and North Africa? What motivates institutional actors across the region to “crack down” on corruption or to let it slide? And what exactly is government corruption, anyway? We will consider these and other questions in this week’s MENA Salon.

Recommended reading:

Middle East and North Africa: A very drastic decline
Just how rampant is the corruption?
Corruption charges suggested for Netanyahu
Corruption and the limits of conventional approaches
After the Saudi purge: The $106bn question
Corruption in Iraq may threaten reconstruction funds

2/16 Egypt’s Upcoming “Election”

Egyptians are expected to go to the polls next month to vote in the presidential election. However, the process has already been tainted by the suppression of competitors of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. What can Egyptians expect from this election? Is it simply window-dressing? Will internal divisions among the power circles rise to the surface? How will resentment towards imprisoned cadres of the Muslim Brotherhood, including ousted president Mohamed Morsi, translate into political action? These are some of the questions we are hoping to address in the next MENA Salon.

Recommended reading:

Egypt’s political parties choose to forgo challenging Sisi
Egypt’s election drama: Sisi’s moment of hollow triumph won’t last
How Egypt presidential election is rendered irrelevant
Egypt’s undemocratic election
Why Egypt’s oldest political party isn’t challenging Al-Sisi
President Trump, condemn this sham Egyptian election 

2/9 No Relief for UNRWA

On January 16, the Trump administration announced that it is withholding $65 million in aid to the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Why is the Trump administration cutting funding now? What effects will the shortfall have on Palestine, Israel, and the broader Middle East? What is UNRWA’s mandate and what is its role today? In this week’s MENA Salon we will consider these questions and other queries pertinent to the UN agency and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Recommended reading:
‘It’s a death sentence’: Palestinians in Jerusalem brace for Trump aid cuts
Explaining UNRWA, Trump’s next Mideast hot button
Abrupt U.S. funding cuts to Palestinians could further destabilize Middle East
Trump’s move to slash aid for Palestinian refugees will lead to tragedy
Trump gets UNRWA right
‘Without UNRWA we have nothing’: Palestinian refugees speak out against US aid cuts
Beyond the money: a modest proposal to remake UNRWA

2/2 War Comes to Afrin

On January 20, Turkey launched a military intervention into the Afrin region of Northwestern Syria against the Kurdish-led YPG. The extraordinary attack has opened a new front in Syria’s chaotic civil war and raised tensions between Turkey and its international partners. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will discuss the events leading to the military operation, the international community’s reaction, and its likely consequences for individuals on the ground in Syria.

Recommended reading:
Turkey, Assad offensives bring new displacement crisis in Syria
US policy toward the Levant, Kurds and Turkey
A sustainable U.S. Policy for North Syria, the Kurds, Turkey and the Syrian government
The entirely rational basis for Turkey’s move into Syria
We’re trying to build democracy in Syria. So why is Turkey attacking us?
Will Turkey attack Manbij?

1/26 Rebuilding in Syria

With the Syrian conflict entering its seventh year, Syrians and international actors are beginning to embark upon the immense task of rebuilding portions of the country. As with other facets of the Syrian Civil War, the problem of reconstruction is complicated by the geopolitical considerations of intervening powers. Will states opposing the Assad regime partake in rebuilding civilian infrastructure? Will funding for reconstruction be conditioned on political reform? What role will multilateral organizations play in this process?

Recommended reading:
Syria 2018: 5 key factors to watch
Help Assad or leave cities in ruins? The politics of rebuilding
After the war: Who’s going to pay for Syria’s reconstruction?
Reconstruction spells juicy contracts for Russian, Iranian firms
Ten experts to watch on reconstruction in Syria

1/19 Austerity and Unrest in Tunisia 

Tunisia is often said to be the Arab Spring’s only success story, yet the new year has been marked by economic peril and political uncertainty. The government’s announcement of an austerity budget has led to the largest wave of protests the country has seen during its democratic transition. Hundreds of Tunisians have been arrested by security forces since January 8. In this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss the recent unrest in Tunisia, and whether or not the government is fulfilling obligations set out under its post-Revolution constitution.

Recommended reading:
‘You can’t survive anymore’: Tunisia protests rising prices and taxes
Stemming Tunisia’s authoritarian drift
Tunisia protests: Is there a trade-off between a strong economy and democracy?
Tunisia’s revolution, Act 2
Tunisia protests: Another heavy dose of austerity
Seven years on: Tunisia’s legacies of neglect

1/12 Protests in Iran

As people across the world planned to ring in the New Year, cities across Iran erupted in the largest wave of protests the country has seen in almost a decade. The unrest, which has carried on into 2018, has prompted a number of debates. Who are the main actors? What are the protesters’ demands? Whom do they target? How are these demonstrations different from the 2009 Green Movement? Will they have an effect on Iran’s domestic and foreign policies? In this first MENA Salon of the spring semester, we will consider these and other pressing questions.

Recommended reading:
Causes behind Iran’s protests: A preliminary account
Misreading Qazvin in Washington: On the protests in Iran
Iranian protests and the working class
These are the real causes of the Iran protests
Why haven’t reformists joined the protests sweeping Iran?
How Rouhani can use protests to advance reform

12/1 Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince

In recent years, 32 year-old Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has become a major figure in Middle East politics. He has vowed to curtail corruption and “extremist ideologies” domestically, and has inserted his kingdom into the center of political and military confrontations in Lebanon and Yemen. In October, he led a purge of a number of prominent princes, businessmen, and ministers. In the last MENA Salon of the semester, we will discuss this purge, and the regional transformations the country’s heir apparent hopes to bring about.

Recommended reading:
Saudi Arabia “swaps assets for freedom” after arrests
Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption purge is all about life after oil
Saudi Arabia has no idea how to deal with Iran
How Riyadh orchestrated its own downfall in Lebanon
Sanitizing bin Salman: How Western media whitewash Saudi violence at home and abroad
Why did Saudi Arabia target billionaire media tycoons in its purge?

11/17 A Century after Balfour

The first week of November marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. The British government’s declaration endorsed Zionist aspirations for “a national home” in what would become Mandatory Palestine. In this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss the content and significance of the Declaration. We will also reflect on the legacy of the document and the ways in which it continues to shape perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Recommended reading:
Protests and celebrations mark Balfour centenary
Contested centenary of Britain’s ‘calamitous promise’
The Balfour Declaration century
After Balfour
Time to party or protest? 
Britain’s true motivation
Why Abbas should endorse Balfour
Time to admit that Balfour was a white supremacist

11/3 “After” ISIS

The multiplying defeats and subsequent retreats of ISIS, culminating in the loss of its de facto capital, Raqqa, in mid-October, evoke the inevitable question: is ISIS nearing the end? In this week’s MENA Salon, while considering this question, we will raise longer-term issues: Can ISIS survive in some other form? Is the organization already relocating and transforming back to its origins? What does a post-ISIS scenario imply for the geopolitics of the Middle East and North Africa?

Recommended reading: 

From insurgency to rogue state and back
What the end of ISIS means
Rise and fall of ISIS: its dream of a caliphate is over, so what now?
ISIS post caliphate: who’s left, and where they are
As ISIS is driven from Raqqa, Sunnis remain alienated
After Islamic State, ruined Raqqa fears new strife
With loss of its caliphate, ISIS may return to guerrilla roots

10/27 Crisis in Kirkuk: The Aftermath of the Iraqi Kurdistan Referendum

On October 16th, military forces aligned with Iraq’s federal government swept into Kirkuk and drove out the Kurdish militias that had provided security for the city since 2014. They then went on to conquer neighboring areas as well. Baghdad’s assertion of authority over the disputed territory followed a referendum in which Iraqi Kurds had overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence. What will be the fallout of this crisis for Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan? What role can regional powers play to defuse tensions in the country? How will the US navigate the situation given its previous support for both sides?

Recommended reading: 
Struggle over Kirkuk puts U.S. and Iran on same side
Iraq’s reconquest of Kirkuk checks Kurdish secession
No, it wasn’t Iran: Top 7 reasons Baghdad took Kirkuk
America has become dispensable in Iraq
As Kirkuk’s governor is forced to flee, Iran moves in
Iraq, Kurdistan and Kirkuk: Untying the knot  

10/20 The Middle East in 1982

Join us for a special MENA Salon this homecoming weekend, part of our day of events featuring the Stevens Program for Middle Eastern Studies. In honor of the 35th reunion of the Class of ’82 (class of the late Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens), we will convene to look back at the events and repercussions of this critical period in the region’s history. Join faculty, students, and members of the community to discuss the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, the early years of Reagan’s foreign policy, and more. Please note this session starts at 3:30 pm, not 3:00 pm as usual.

Recommended reading: 
Obituary: King Fahd – A forceful but flawed ruler
With Ariel Sharon gone, Israel reveals the truth about the 1982 Lebanon War
The United States was responsible for the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in Beirut
Iran says Iraqi withdrawal won’t end war
Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death
The legacy of the 1980 coup in Turkey
Syria’s President Hafez al-Assad crushes rebellion in Hama

10/13 Will Fatah and Hamas Reconcile? 

On October 2, representatives of Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas met in Gaza to pursue a reconciliation deal. This is not the first time the two groups have attempted to reach a deal. What developments lead to this particular set of negotiations? Will this attempt at creating a unity government be successful? What do Israel, Egypt, and other regional stakeholders think about these developments? We will consider these and other questions in this week’s MENA Salon.

Recommended reading: 
Palestinian factions move toward reconciliation in Gaza 
US, Israel on standby as Egypt pushes Palestinian reconciliation 
Give the people what they want: Palestinians take a step toward unity 
The evolution of Hamas 
In Gaza reconciliation effort, Palestinian politician seeks a comeback 
The doomed Palestinian reconciliation plan 
Fatah and Hamas talk reconciliation- but are Palestinians convinced?

10/6 Free Speech and Exclusion on American Campuses

Last week, off-campus groups hosted a much discussed “Free Speech Week” at UC Berkeley. A number of questions were raised by the subsequent protests and counter-protests that engulfed the university. Are American college campuses open or exclusionary spaces? Should any ideas or individuals be stigmatized in a university setting? In this week’s MENA Salon we will reflect upon the ways in which globalization, Islamophobia, and the War on Terror shape the norms that undergird campus life.

Recommended reading: 
Posters alleging UC Berkeley community members are ‘terrorist supporters’ appear on campus
NYU in Abu Dhabi: a sectarian bargain
Protest during political science meeting
A Muslim-American activist’s speech raises ire even before it’s delivered
Millenials are snowflakes: here’s the data to prove it
AUB student paper says censorship behind missed edition

9/29 Contemporary Art Production in the Middle East

How often do we consider the MENA region as a scene for contemporary art production and consumption? What can we learn about MENA from the art produced by its residents? Who is the audience for galleries in Beirut, Dubai, and Istanbul? Inspired by a range of art festivals and fairs coming to MENA in September, in this week’s Salon we will reflect on various aspects of contemporary art circulation.

Recommended reading: 
Artists explore fragmented Middle East in Istanbul
In an Arab art exhibition, land, signs, and bodies are contested
The changing face of street art in MENA
How sustainable is the art scene in Dubai?
Egypt’s emerging alternative film scene
The hunt is on for modern Middle East art

9/22 Iraqi Kurdistan Independence Referendum

On September 25, Iraqi Kurdistan is scheduled to vote on whether or not to become an independent state. The vote is seen by some observers as the culmination of a long and arduous struggle towards self-determination for Iraq’s Kurds. Other stakeholders in the Middle East worry about the effects the referendum will have on regional stability. In this week’s MENA Salon we will survey views on the Kurdish referendum. We will also reflect on the tension between the right to self-determination and the principle of territorial integrity.

Recommended reading: 
Kurdistan referendum vote: what you need to know
The possible devastating outcome of a Kurdish referendum
How Trump can earn a rare win in the Middle East
Referendum isn’t just about independence
Iraqi Kurds’ referendum fever spills over to Turkish cousins
Almost everybody is against a Kurdish referendum
The Kurds are not children

9/15 Climate Change & Environmental Crisis

Water scarcity, dust storms, and rising sea levels have enormous effects on quality of life in the MENA region. Are these environmental crises better described as “natural” or political? Are they regional or global crises? How and why does their impact vary across the region? This week’s MENA salon will address these and other questions on climate change and environmental degradation.

Recommended reading:
A worsening water crisis in the MENA 
How climate change contributed to the conflicts in the MENA
Climate change in Egypt: death on the Nile
Climate change forecast for Jordan 
Rise in sandstorms threatens MENA
ISIL’s smouldering footprint in Qayyara
In Egypt, a rising sea
One journalist’s perspective on the environmental crisis 

9/8 Feminism in Post-Revolution Tunisia 

Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi recently announced his intention to change the country’s inheritance law, which requires that women receive one half the share that men do. During his speech, the head of state drew on the text of Tunisia’s post-Arab Spring constitution, which provides that “all citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties.” In this week’s MENA Salon we will consider a number of questions raised by this political event. To what extent did Tunisia’s 2011 revolution expand the political and economic power of women in the country? What role have governmental and religious institutions played in transforming gender relations in the country? How do struggles against sexism vary across Tunisia’s uneven socioeconomic terrain?

Recommended reading:
Tunisian president calls for gender equality in inheritance law
The gender fault line in Tunisia
Tunisia: arcane future of gender equality
Tunisia takes a big step to protect women from abuse
As Tunisia weighs women’s rights proposal, some of the staunchest opponents are women
Egypt’s Al-Azhar rejects Tunisia’s calls for equal inheritance for women
“Egypt is not Tunisia” when it comes to women’s rights

9/1 The Qatar-Saudi Rupture

In June, a coalition of states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and made a series of stringent demands on the country’s ruling family. The diplomatic crisis with the tiny peninsular nation quickly led to a geopolitical rupture. In the months since, major players in the Middle East, including Turkey, Iran, and the United States, have been forced to adjust to a politically divided Gulf. This MENA Salon will feature an in-depth discussion of the effects of this dispute on Qatar and the world.

Recommended reading:

Qatar banks seek funding as diplomatic crisis bites
The long-running family rivalries behind the Qatar crisis
The rift between Qatar and the GCC could threaten Trump’s foreign policy
How can the Qatar crisis be resolved?
How Turkey fits into the Qatar puzzle
Two months into Saudi-led boycott, tiny Qatar goes on the offensive
Is the Saudi boycott of Qatar driving it into the arms of Iran?

8/25 Summer In Review

Join us for the first MENA Salon of the Fall 2017 semester, as we revisit the events and themes that shaped this summer.

Recommended reading:
The US is far more deeply involved in Syria than you know
What happens the day after the Kurdish referendum? 
How the Saudi-Qatar rivalry reshaped the Middle East
Morocco’s Burgeoning Resistance
End times in Mosul
Israel targets Al Jazeera
Turkey’s Great Terror
Iran nuclear deal



5/5 Year In Review

Join us for the final MENA Salon of the semester, as we revisit the events and themes that shaped this academic year.

4/21 Referendum in Turkey: what lies ahead?

In a referendum held on Sunday April 16, Turkish citizens narrowly voted in favor of a series of constitutional amendments that will transform the country’s parliamentary system of government into an “executive” presidency. In practice, the result expands the powers of the office presently held by its head of state, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. On top of the highly contentious process which culminated in the referendum, the ad hoc procedural modifications on the day of voting caused widespread suspicion of electoral fraud and sparked outbursts of protests. What do these mean for Turkey’s democracy? In this week’s MENA Salon we will reflect on the political future of a country in the midst of a transformation.

RIP Turkey, 1921 – 2017
Dismal thoughts about the Turkish referendum
Where does Erdogan’s referendum win leave Turkey?
Calls for referendum annulment rise in Turkey
Referendum highlights deep divisions in Turkey
Ten Thoughts on the Turkish Referendum
Turkey’s referendum: A democratic quest

4/14 Military Intervention Revisited: Syria

On April 7, in response to a chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib, the Trump administration launched several dozen Tomahawk missiles at the Syrian Military’s Shayrat Airbase. The strike was the first direct attack on the Assad regime by the American military in the six year war. Inevitably, the developments sparked off heated debates between the proponents and opponents of American interventionism in the Middle East, and further speculations on Trump administration’s motivations in the region and the new route the Syrian Civil War may take. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will tease out the nuances of this debate by examining a wide range of perspectives on the American attack.

A Practical Guide for Avoiding Fallacies on Syria
What Trump’s Missile Strike Means for Syrians Like Me
We anti-Assad Syrians hail the US strike – but fear it could be an empty gesture
Donald Trump’s “Unbelievably Small” Attack on Syria
The Long Road to Trump’s War
Why Being Against Assad Matters Too
Struggling to prove Assad did the chemical attack? Colonial media resorts to character assassination

4/7 Why Are We in Iraq?

In March it was alleged that the US-led coalition against ISIS had caused a record number of civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria. The battle for Mosul took a particularly grim turn as reports emerged that one US airstrike had killed more than 200 civilians. In this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss this escalation in the war against ISIS in Iraq. We will reflect on how the latest wave of airstrikes fits in within a decades long history of American military intervention in Iraq.

Video: “About 100 Years” — Christopher Hitchens in 1991 on How Long U.S. War With Iraq Will Last

Airstrike monitoring group overwhelmed by claims of U.S.-caused civilian casualties

Trump’s War on Terror Has Quickly Become as Barbaric and Savage as He Promised

‘Take Ahmed and let me die': Victims of U.S. airstrike in Mosul recount a day of horror

Why These Iraqis Can’t Escape U.S. Bombs Falling On Their City

What the war on terror looks like

In Iraq, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, upbeat on Mosul

3/24 Israel, the United States, and the United Nations

The United States has been at loggerheads with various United Nations bodies and member states over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since at least 1975, the year in which UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” Over the past few months, the new Trump administration has made confrontation with the UN over “bias towards to Israel” a conspicuous component of its foreign policy agenda. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will discuss the UN’s relationship with Israel and the United states.

Trump Must Take on the United Nations

Trump Administration Ousts U.N. Official to Protect Israel From Criticism

UN Report Establishes Israeli Apartheid; Fallout Begins

Trump Admin To Boycott U.N. Council Over Anti-Israel Agenda

Israel, U.S. Trying to Persuade Western Countries to Oppose Five anti-Israel UN Resolutions

Diplomats: Nikki Haley Greenlighted U.N.’s Hiring of Salam Fayyad Before She Blocked It

When Abstention Is Progress


3/17 Anarchists, Islamists, and Other Foreign Fighters

Foreign fighters have flocked to Iraq and Syria over the past few years to fight on behalf of various parties to the related conflicts raging in both countries. In this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss the phenomenon of foreign fighters in the contemporary Middle East. We will consider the motivations for engaging in violence in far-flung battlefields, and the risks posed by such decisions.

The Anarchists vs. The Islamic State

Foreign fighters pour into Syria to bolster Assad regime

Uighur IS fighters vow blood will ‘flow in rivers’ in China

The Blackwater of Jihad

Beware the New Mujahideen: The Threat from Future Jihadist Networks

Why thousands of Iraqi fighters have poured into Syria to aid Assad


3/10 Who’s Afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood?

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood captured much of the world’s attention in 2012 when its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won Egypt’s first democratic presidential election. A year later, Morsi was deposed amid massive protests by the Egyptian military and the new regime designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. How has this shaped Egypt’s reconstituted political order in the year’s since? In this week’s MENA Salon we will examine Egypt’s war on the Brotherhood and the debates it has sparked among Egyptians.

Egypt’s Failed Revolution

Egypt’s Nightmare: Sisi’s Dangerous War on Terror

O Brotherhood Where Art Thou?

What happened to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood?

I Am a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Not a Terrorist

When The Brotherhood Becomes The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing


3/2 Saudi Arabia: Between Repression and Reform 

Building on last week’s discussions, in this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss the contemporary attempts in expanding political rights and freedoms in Saudi Arabia and the limitations of such endeavors, put against the background of the historical and politico-economic particularities of the Gulf countries. We will try to develop an ‘insider’ view, in an effort to grasp the dynamism within the society and the politics of Saudi Arabia, by touching upon issues regarding the women, the youth and the economy.

Understanding the Gulf States

How the West Misses the Point on Women’s Rights in Saudi Arabia

Can Saudi Arabia Bridge Its Generation Gap?

Your App Isn’t Helping The People Of Saudi Arabia

Is Saudi Arabia on the cusp of change?

Saudi Arabia: Intensified Repression of Writers, Activists


2/24 Migrant Labor in the Gulf

The economies of several Persian Gulf states are heavily dependent on migrant labor. These workers are often subject to poor working conditions and other human rights violations. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will examine the political economy of migrant labor in the Gulf and reflect on recent trends in this area.

Middle East’s Migrant Population More Than Doubles Since 2005

How A Middle East State Built One Of The World’s Richest (And Unequal) Economies Using Immigrants

Saudi Has the Resources to Punish Protesting Workers, But Not to Protect or Repay Them

The Gulf Will Always Need Migrants

Saudi Arabia ‘deports 40,000 Pakistani workers over terror fears’

Migration in the Gulf: 2016 in Review

2/17 Islamophobia and Europe’s Shifting Political Landscape

Far right political parties are on the rise in Europe. With promises to de-Islamize the Netherlands, Geert Wilders leads polls for an upcoming election. Marine Le Pen, who has identified Islamism as a new “totalitarianism,” is a viable competitor for the the French presidency. In this week’s MENA Salon we discuss the wave of anti-Muslim sentiment that the ascendant European right is riding. We will also consider its effects on immigrants to Europe from the MENA region.

What Do Europeans Think About Muslim Immigration?

Anti-Islam Wilders frontrunner as Dutch election campaign begins

Marine Le Pen launches presidential campaign with hardline speech

Austrian government promises Muslim veil ban in attempt to appease right-wing voters

It’s not just Trump’s US. Anti-Muslim hate threatens Europe too


2/10 MENA Prisons 

Amnesty International released a report this week indicating that as many as 13,000 people were executed in Syria’s Saydnaya prison between 2011 and 2015. The report details the inhuman conditions in the prison as well as a regime of torture and “extermination.” In this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss the grave situation described in the report and similar cases of prisons across the region, with a focus on political prisoners.

Turkey, Hungary and Romania drive 23% rise in ECHR applications

What does it mean to be a political prisoner in Egypt?

Former political prisoner speaks out on Egypt’s jails

Saudi Arabia: Intensified Repression of Writers, Activists

Human slaughterhouse: Mass hangings and extermination at Saydnaya prison, Syria


2/3 Trump’s Muslim Ban

Last week the Trump administration issued an executive order banning the nationals of seven Middle Eastern and African countries along with all refugees from entering the US. The order sparked protests across the world, with international airports becoming flashpoints of resistance against the new policy. This week’s MENA Salon will feature a discussion of the so-called “Muslim ban.” We will reflect on its origins and its political implications.

Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration, Annotated

Immigrants from Banned Nations: Educated, Mostly Citizens, and Found in Every State

Trump’s ban sparks MidEast anger and accusations

Upset in WSJ newsroom over editor’s directive to avoid ‘majority Muslim’ in immigration ban coverage

The Opposition Is Born


12/2 “Reforming” Islam and Searching for the “Moderates”

Does Islam need a reformation? This question, which rose to the mainstream after the September 11 attacks, is again center stage with the rise of ISIS. Muslim communities have faced a wave of external and internal demands for religious reform, at times advanced by individuals with dubious motivations. Yet the idea of Islamic reformation (political, theological, and cultural) has a long and rich history. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will reflect on recent discussions about religious reformation swirling around the MENA region, and how they play out in diaspora communities.

Rached Ghannouchi Q&A: Thoughts on democratic Islam

How Did Maajid Nawaz End Up on a List of ‘Anti-Muslim Extremists’?

A renewed reading of Islamic texts

The Islamic State’s reformist apologists

Liberal Islam is not the answer to Islamic State

View from abroad: No safe place for Muslim reformers


11/18 Trumpism and the Middle East

Yikes! In a stunning turn of events billionaire and reality TV star Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. How will a Trump administration change US foreign policy in the MENA region? Are there threads of historical continuity that can be traced from America’s foreign excursions to the triumphant Trump campaign? In this week’s special MENA Salon we take another look at the president-elect, his supporters, and some of the individuals in his orbit in order to grapple with what is coming.

History’s sinkhole

‘Do we get to win this time?’: Trump foreign policy appeal based on revenge for Iraq War failure

The dark, controversial past of Trump’s counterterrorism adviser

An Interview with Michael T. Flynn, the Ex-Pentagon Spy Who Supports Donald Trump

The Middle East that Obama left behind

How Will Trump Reshape the Middle East?

What does Trump’s victory mean for the Middle East?


11/4 The International Criminal Court

The ICC still has a valuable role to play

Some Thoughts on South Africa’s Withdrawal From the International Criminal Court

Gambia to pull out of ICC, citing failure to prosecute Tony Blair

Does the Int’l Criminal Court Have Jurisdiction Over U.S. Forces in Libya?

Will ICC see through Israel’s sham justice?

International Criminal Court investigagtes human rights abuses by British Forces in Iraq

France to seek ICC options for war crimes investigation in Aleppo

Bashir will never appear before ICC, says foreign minister


10/28 US Presidential Candidates on the Region

How different are Trump and Clinton’s ideas on the Middle East? With the election less than two week away, in this week’s MENA salon we will examine the candidates’ messaging on developments in Syria, on the Iran deal, and other unfolding events. We will also reflect on personal, professional, and institutional relationships of the candidates that may shed light on their policy leanings.

As president, Clinton would adopt a strong foreign policy

Leaked Emails Say Hillary Clinton Will Patch Up Ties to Benjamin Netanyahu in First 100 Days

Why Did the Saudi Regime and Other Gulf Tyrannies Donate Millions to the Clinton Foundation?

Will Hillary Clinton deliver on her promise to ramp up U.S. involvement in Syria?

‘Do we get to win this time?’: Trump foreign policy appeal based on revenge for Iraq War failure

How Mike Flynn Became America’s Angriest General

Joseph Schmitz, Donald Trump’s foreign policy adviser, left the Pentagon amid controversy

Fox Overlooks Trump’s Middle East Business Ventures While Hyping His Clinton Foundation Criticism


10/21 Yemen’s War

Who is responsible for the war in Yemen? In this week’s MENA Salon we discuss the origins of the ongoing conflict between the international allies of the country’s transitional government-in-exile and a coalition of Houthi-led rebels. We will pay special attention to escalating American and Saudi intervention in the conflict. We will also discuss the vulnerabilities unique to the poorest state in the Middle East.

Why the hell is the US helping Saudi Arabia bomb Yemen? A brief guide.

The role of the West in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen

Why Saudi Efforts in Yemen Advance U.S. Interests

The US just bombed Yemen, and no one’s talking about it

New famine fears loom in Yemen

Five years after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, her nation is riven by war

Third Yemen drone strike in a week kills 5 al-Qaeda suspects



10/14 Kurds and Kurdistan

What unique challenges do Kurdish communities face in the contemporary Middle East? How do recent political developments affect Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran? And how has the Syrian conflict changed US foreign policy discourse on Kurdish communities? In this week’s MENA Salon, we will discuss new opportunities and challenges raised by contemporary military conflicts, while also reflecting on modern Kurdish history and competing conceptions of a future Kurdistan.

The Kurdish Question Then and Now

Between Rojava and Washington

Why did President Erdogan restart the battle with the Kurdish PKK?

Iraqi Kurds step into Ankara-Baghdad row

US providing light arms to Kurdish-led coalition in Syria, officials confirm

Tehran blames Kurd and Isis militants for clashes in north-west Iran


10/07 Press Freedom

Five years after the start Arab Spring, is the press in the Middle East more or less free? In this week’s MENA Salon we will reflect on the ways in which journalists navigate this changing political environment to produce reliable news reports. We will also consider changes in governments’ treatment of the press in various countries including Syria, Turkey, and Iran.

2015 prison census: 199 journalists jailed worldwide

Do press freedoms exist in the Middle East?

Why is the Turkish government now targeting cartoons?

The Growth of the Syrian Media and Reliable Voices

Why proposed bill could mean the end of independent journalism in Iran

How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel’s Free Press

9/30 Post-coup politics in Turkey

On the night of July 17, 2016, a coup was attempted in the Republic of Turkey. Unlike several successful 20th century putsches, this one failed. In the wake of the crisis, Turkish citizens–familiar with their country’s recent history of military rule–are divided. Perspectives on the coup range from determined opposition, to furtive consent, to apathy and alienation. Attempts to grapple with the army’s intervention have been further complicated by conflict with the Kurdish communities, the state’s entanglement in the Syrian Civil War, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s continuing crackdown (or “counter coup”). This week’s MENA Salon aims to highlight divergent views that have emerged in Turkey’s post-coup politics.

Turkey’s Cyclical Coups

Repression of Turkish intellectuals elicits global response

Turkey’s Disaster

The West fails the ‘coup test’ in Turkey

‘New Turkey’ finds founding myth in the failed coup


9/23 What is a ‘Settler Colonial Analysis’?

This week, UC Berkeley reinstated a DeCal, “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” after briefly and unusually suspending the student facilitated course three weeks into the semester. A nonprofit called AMCHA Initiative had described the DeCal’s syllabus as “defamatory” in an open letter to Chancellor Dirks, signed by 43 like-minded groups. While the incident has spurred many to consider important questions related to academic freedom, in this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss the substantive political issue at the heart of the controversy instead: Does the concept of settler colonialism provide a useful analytic frame for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Cal Berkeley’s Latest Effort to Erase Jewish History from Israel

Why we must see Israeli policies as a form of settler colonialism

Israel and imperialism: The big lie

Settler Colonialism: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis?

Israel is a Settler Colonial State – and That’s OK

Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine


9/16 The Refugee Crisis

There is a broad, global consensus that the flow of refugees out of Middle Eastern and North African states in conflict today constitutes a “crisis.” But is the precise meaning of the word “crisis” subject to contestation? How should we assess the responses by members of the international community? In this week’s MENA Salon, we will discuss some of the political, humanitarian, and national security questions that have arisen as Middle Eastern refugees have become more numerous. We will also consider long-term issues including the daily struggles that await these displaced people in their host countries.

The EU’s migration crisis is far from finished
Martyr on the Mediterranean: Athens’ Double Crisis
How Syrian Refugees Are Helping One Another Adjust to Life in a Strange Land

Why Syria’s children should be a global priority

Obama Administration Floods Country With 769 Syrian Refugees in First Week of September


9/9 U.S. Intervention in the Middle East: End of an Era? 


The End of Intervention: Two Books Explore the American Catastrophe in the Middle East

Sept. 11 Legacy: One Endless War Against Many Radical Enemies

Pundits, Decrying the Horrors of War in Aleppo, Demand Expanded War

The Anti-Imperialism of Fools

Why Is the United States Abetting Saudi War Crimes in Yemen?


9/2 Summer in Review

Syria’s Paradox: Why the War Only Ever Seems to Get Worse

What’s behind Turkey’s selective clampdown on Gulen community?

Islamophobia: What the Islamic State Really Wants

Massacre reports show U.S. inability to curb Iraq militias

The Meaning of an Olympic Snub

Racism, Pure and Simple


4/22 Hope for Beirut

A group of politically unaffiliated academics, activists and professionals are challenging the status quo of Lebanese politics by running for Beirut City Council in the municipal elections in May. Their electoral program aims to make the city a livable space for all its inhabitants, and not just the privileged few who can navigate exclusive spaces unaffected by the current garbage, refugee, and housing crises. In this week’s MENA Salon we will discuss this municipal election campaign in Beirut, the “My City” (Beirut Madinati) campaign, and other grassroots mobilization initiatives in Lebanon that envision a different political future for the country.

I Support Beirut Madinati
Interview with a Candidate
City of Thorns
Beirut Madinati
One Thousand and One Dalieh
Campaign Website

4/15 How Do We Talk about Terror?

March was a bad month. Brussels was just one of several cities hit by serious, violent attacks. For those of us who conduct research and teach about the Middle East and Islam, recent events can be a difficult topic to address. The conversation quickly turns into a matter of moral outrage, making political contextualization both difficult yet also more necessary than ever. How do we acknowledge the tragic loss of life and also advocate for forms of speech (and action) that don’t fall back on racist or Islamophobic tropes? How do we talk about “terror”?

Beyond Brussels
ISIS’s Motives
Why We Think Terrorism is Scarier than it Is
“Cleaning out the Ghettos”
What Africa Tells Us

4/8 The Panama Papers and the Middle East

It only took two days for the Panama Papers leak to claim its first casualty, with the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland. The cache of over 11 million documents implicates a dozen world leaders, plus 128 other politicians and public figures–the Middle East is not absent from this list. The Panama Papers offer a glimpse into the mechanics of the region’s famously corrupt governments, ill-funded wars, and ever-growing economic gap between rich and poor. Reporting over the last few days has situated the problems that have plagued the Middle East for decades in a broader network of global corruption. This week in the salon, we’ll talk about the implications of the Panama Papers on Middle Eastern geopolitics, including the ongoing war in Syria.

Blacklisted Companies and People
Who is Implicated in the Middle East?
Tax Havens Cost Egypt Billions
Israeli Companies
Assad’s Cousin

4/1 Is Anti-Zionism a Form of Anti-Semitism?

Last week, the UC Regents unanimously adopted a “Statement of Principles on Intolerance” to govern campus behavior, based on a report developed by a system-wide working group. While ultimately broad in scope, the report specifically addressed an apparent increase in anti-Semitic incidents on UC campuses. According to the report, these kinds of incidents are now frequently “more coded and difficult to identify,” as they occur under the guise of a political critique of Zionism. The resulting “Statement of Principles” linked anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism as a form of discrimination, although language directly equating the two was subsequently modified in the face of considerable opposition. The UC report is not an anomaly, but part of a larger trend both on and off university campuses in the US and Europe, with similar statements from world leaders ranging from Pope Francis to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. This week in the salon, we’ll talk about the conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, thinking about it in the broader historical context of the earlier UN resolution that tipped in the other direction, declaring Zionism a form of racism.

Daily Cal Story
Op-Ed, Censorship
Op-Ed, Hateful Ideology
Op-Ed, Not Discrimination
CUNY Testimony
UN Resolution

3/18 Cruz, Kasich, and Trump on the Middle East

After discussing Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s respective foreign policy positions in the Middle East, this week we will look at the policy positions of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. With republican voters concerns about the threat of terrorist attacks, Trump’s Islamophobic stance is popular, but his proclaimed “neutrality” on Israel- Palestine may off-set his rhetoric about Muslims. How do the Republican and Democrats differ on American policy in the Middle East? And how does the Middle East see primary-season juggernaut Donald Trump?

Middle East Policy
Ted Cruz on Syria
Donald Trump on Iraq
Donald Trump and the Middle East
How the Middle East Sees Donald Trump
Kasich Proposes New Agency
Kasich on Iran

3/11 Clinton and Sanders on the Middle East

It has been an unusually exciting primary season in the US, with nail-biting fights on both sides of the aisle. And while the debates have skewed towards domestic politics, foreign policy–regarding the Middle East in particular–remains a constant. While on the Republican side, the candidates may be more or less entrenched in a politics of Islamophobia, among the democrats, it often seems that the less said (or the more obscure), the better. This week in the Salon, we’ll look closely at the foreign policy records of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, asking, what would a Clinton or Sanders presidency mean for the Middle East?

Details on Sanders and Sha’ar ha-‘Amakim
The Middle East Policy of President Sanders
Sanders and Trump Similar on the Middle East
27 Years of Sanders on Israel
Hillary Clinton and Libya
Clinton’s Middle East Policy
Interventions, Wars, More of Same

3/4 Cultural Heritage and Current Events

As the CMES looks forward to next weekend’s symposium, Beyond Destruction: Archaeology and Cultural Heritage in the Middle East, this week’s MENA Salon will explore the relationship between cultural heritage and current events in the Middle East and North Africa. The protection of cultural heritage is at the forefront of international discussions, since the Islamic State began the systematic destruction of archaeological sites across Iraq and Syria in March 2015. We will consider questions such as: Who owns the past? Whose responsibility is it to protect cultural heritage? How is cultural heritage being used to pursue the political agendas of the various groups involved? And what is the legal framework within which these political agendas are being pursued?

Syrian heritage report
Isis’s destruction of Palmyra
Resolution 2199
The Threat to Yemen’s Heritage
Tomb Raiding in the Middle East

2/26: Permanent War – Perspectives on Iraq

How has the central Iraqi state transformed during 35 years of war? In this week’s MENA Salon, we consider a longer time horizon to think through state reconstitution and consolidation in Iraq, particularly in the wake of falling oil prices and blatant corruption. We will touch upon the sectarian dimension of state-building and state-identity, think through the rise of ISIL as extreme Sunni fundamentalism, and discuss Iran’s interventions to support Shia constituencies as well as the role of Iraqi Kurdistan in this state (re)constitution effort.

Kurdistan Agrees to Baghdad’s Plan
Iran’s Week Grip
Post-War Iraq: Everybody is Corrupt
Shia-Centric State-Building

2/19: Marriage, MENA-Style

In a belated Valentine’s Day edition of our MENA salon, we thought we’d step back for a moment from the bleak landscape of war and crisis to talk about marriage! In nearly any part of the world, marriage is a costly endeavor, but in the Middle East, we see a whole set of additional challenges. This week, we’ll look at how people face this basic and important life event, raising dowries and evading religious strictures in order to achieve legal and social recognition of that crazy thing called love.

Marriage in Taiz
Rise in Saudi “Spinsters”
Israelis Marry Abroad
Marriage Rights in Israel
Crowdfunded Gaza Wedding

2/12: The Siege of Aleppo

This week we have witnessed escalating threats of a siege of Aleppo by the Assad regime and its supporters. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will discuss the implications of a siege for the evolving geography of the Syrian civil war, with special attention to Aleppo’s experiences, as well as its repercussions in terms of new waves of refugees in the region.

Iran’s Plan B
Putin’s Partition Plan
Mapping the Conflict
Regime Gains in Aleppo
Siege and Starvation

2/5: Turkey in Crisis

As violence flares up in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has issued crackdowns on dissent across the country. The worst examples are predictably in the southeast, where civilians are under curfew and military clashes leave the bodies of the victims uncollected on the streets. Elsewhere, academics are being blacklisted and imprisoned simply for making statements calling for peace. This week in the salon, we’ll talk about the crisis in Turkey–what’s been happening over the last few weeks, and the direction things may go.

Violence in Southeast Turkey
Informants in Turkey
Emergencies of Peace
Erdogan’s Kurdish Gamble
UN Calls for Investigation

1/29: The Arab Revolutions Five Years On

Peace Process in Syria: Talk, Talk, Kill, Kill
How Can Yemen Find Peace?
Protests in Tunisia
Egypt’s Silence Protest
Five Years On

1/22/16: Winter in Review

A lot has happened since we last met two months ago! (The Paris attacks, in fact, were taking place as we held our final session of the fall.) For the first MENA Salon of the semester, we will do a quick roundup of these past months, including the Paris attacks, the execution of a prominent Shiite activist in Saudi Arabia, the severing of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran as a result, ongoing unrest in eastern Turkey, and the academic boycott votes that have been passed by major American academic bodies. This is only a slice of recent events: the Egyptian Parliament has convened, the European Union has proceeded with its plan to label goods produced in Israeli settlements, and women in Saudi Arabia have gone to the polls for the first time. There is much to discuss! We’ll use the articles below as a starting point, but feel free to bring in other topics or suggestions for weeks to come.

Witch Hunt against Turkish Intellectuals
Diyarbakir Curfew
Saudi Arabia Severs Ties with Iran
Why ISIS Would Attack Paris
Our Conversations about Paris Are Broken

11/6/15: Tunisia – Hope of the Arab Revolutions?

Is Tunisia the model for Arab revolutions, or was the so called Jasmine Revolution a unique case? When the National Dialogue Quartet was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, global discourse proposed that Tunisia was the hope of the region. In this week’s Salon we will discuss Tunisia’s post-revolutionary moment, including the achievements (or lack thereof) of the Truth and Dignity Commission, the highly contested economic reconciliation bill, and the threat the bill poses to transitional justice today.

Tunisia is the Exception
Does New Economic Bill Threaten Tunisia’s Revolution?
Nobel Peace Prize Premature?
Attacks by “Deep State”
Ruling Party Implodes

10/30/15: What Makes an Election Credible in the Middle East and North Africa?

With only 26% of Egyptian voters turning out for last week’s parliamentary elections, serious questions have been raised as to whether these elections are emblematic of a functional democracy. Observers have also pointed out structural problems obstructing Egyptian democracy: the system of independent candidates, the banishment of the main opposition party, etc. Nonetheless, as Egypt forms its first parliament in over three years, this election will have significant consequences for the form the state takes in the foreseeable future. This week in the Salon, we’ll talk about the Egyptian parliamentary elections in terms of their challenges and outcomes, with an eye toward elections and their credibility in the broader region as well.

Egypt’s New Parliament
Staggering Defeat for the Nour Party
Clear Winners and Dark Horses
The Difference between Voting and Democracy
Egypt’s Elections Credible

10/23/15: Drone Wars

Documents leaked to The Intercept last week reveal new information about the Obama administration’s drone strikes. In this week’s MENA Salon, we will discuss the way in which drones try and fail to overcome the tyranny of distance, the people targeted and killed by U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East (writ large), the people who operate them from thousands of miles away, and the right of the state to kill.

The Assassination Complex
I Was a Drone Warrior
She Kills People from 7,850 Miles Away
Obama Misled the Public

10/16/15: A Third Intifada?

Acts of violence have been a relatively common occurrence in Israel-Palestine for a few years now; however, the recent increase in the frequency of such attacks, including stabbings or hit and runs, has left many people asking whether a third intifada has begun. Palestinians and their supporters argue that for those living under occupation, every day is a new cascade of violence, while the more personal turn toward vigilantism raises fear all around. This week in the Salon we will discuss the escalating violence in Israel-Palestine, compare this moment to the intifadas of 1987 and 2000, and consider the implications of the current unrest for both the immediate and long-term future of the region.

East Jerusalem Checkpoints
Lessons from the Second Intifada
Israel Still Holds all the Cards
Terror and Diplomacy
Lone-Wolf Attacks

10/9/15: The Injustice of Egypt’s Justice System

Since the advent of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt, hundreds of Egyptian activists have been imprisoned and thousands more have been sentenced to death. This week’s Salon will explore state violence and the role of Egyptian police in enforcing the law while being outside or above it. We will also discuss the history of the Egyptian judiciary, and the space it has carved out as a constantly evolving and non-homogeneous institution operating under a thoroughly authoritarian regime.

The Policeman
Egyptian Courts Say the Darndest Things
Egypt’s Judges Join In
Egypt’s Conservative Judiciary
Judiciary, Coopted

10/2/15: The War in Yemen

While the world debates the ongoing Syrian war and the ever-growing refugee crisis, the war in Yemen has received relatively little attention in the international press. But the Yemen conflict has seen some thirty thousand casualties since March alone, including a misfired air strike this week that killed over a hundred guests–many of them women and children–at a wedding party. This week in the Salon, we’ll discuss the crisis in Yemen, both in terms of domestic upheavals and the Houthi takeover of Sanaa, as well as the role of Saudi Arabia, the United States, and ISIS in the conflict.

Tragedy and Treachery in Yemen
American’s Drone War in Yemen
The Human Cost of Saudi Arabia’s Drone War
Airstrikes Hit Wedding Party
A Successful Strategy for Yemen

9/25/15: Proxy Wars and a “Resolution” for Syria

As it becomes clear that the Obama administration’s efforts to train Syrian rebels have largely failed, the emerging approach to Syria is “no policy.” Meanwhile, US special operations forces on the ground in Syria are assisting Kurdish forces in fighting ISIS, while Russia continues to supply equipment, training, and armaments to its ally Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s declared position is that it is helping Assad fight terrorism in Syria; the unspoken message is that the US should be coordinating with the Russian government to find a “resolution” to the Syrian civil war. But Russians are also thinking of post-Assad Syria, particularly their regional interests vis-à-vis Iran. In this week’s Salon we will try to make sense of these alignments and their ramifications in the region and beyond.

Putin’s Game in Syria
Russia May Have Big Plans for Syria
Iran and Russia Collaborate

9/18/15: What Went Wrong in Turkey, Part 2

In June, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority, thanks in large part to the success of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in that election. Since then, there has been a violent state campaign against pro-Kurdish entities across the country, including airstrikes, military raids, and curfews in the southeast, as well as attacks on Kurdish people and organizations by non-state groups. This week in the Salon, we’ll follow up Wednesday’s talk by Şahin Alpay at the CMES with a discussion of the growing civil unrest in Turkey, and the larger regional ramifications of how the Turkish state addresses its ongoing “Kurdish problem.”

Post-Election State Violence
Military Curfews, Firebombings, and Airstrikes
Can Turkey Pull back from the Brink?
Turkey’s PKK Conflict
HDP Calls on PKK

9/11/15:The Refugee Crisis

With ISIS entrenched and no end to the Syrian civil war in sight, millions of Syrians have been displaced. But where should they go? Millions are currently seeking shelter in neighboring Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan; hundreds of thousands more have assumed tremendous physical risk and crossed land and sea into Europe, where they face prejudice and even attack as they await asylum. As gut-wrenching images of lifeless bodies circulate around the world, Europe is finally rolling out its plan for dealing with the refugees at its borders, and there is increased pressure for the United States to accept more refugees. Moreover, Israel’s small border with Syria has opened up serious questions about its own role in the production of refugee populations in the Middle East: Will Israel accept Syrian refugees? PM Netanyahu has declined to do so thus far. Would this open the door for the return of approximately 525,000 Palestinian refugees from Syria? This week in the Salon, we will discuss the debates that have circulated across the globe as refugees look anywhere they can for a safe harbor to weather the storm.

What You Need to Know
Let Them In and Let Them Earn
“Migrant” or “Refugee”
Movement for U.S. to Accept Refugees
Abbas and the U.N.

9/4/15: “You Stink”: Lebanon’s Imminent “Revolution”

This week: “You Stink” – Lebanon’s Imminent “Revolution” In this week’s Salon, we will discuss Lebanon’s “You Stink” movement, which has brought major protests to the streets of Beirut, and which some observers are interpreting as a sign of Lebanon’s imminent revolution. For now, there are more questions than answers, which makes it a perfect topic for the MENA Salon. Is the movement really about trash? Who are its leaders and what do they want? Who is participating in the protests? And, critically, what is the significance of “You Stink” in Lebanon’s current climate? Could the movement shake Lebanon’s entrenched sectarian politics? Join us for a discussion on this dramatic (and odorous) intersection of civic infrastructure and national politics.

Notes on Paralysis
You Stink
Garbage Politics
Scents of an Ending
Martyrs’ Square

8/28/15: Summer 2015 in Review

This Week’s Topic: Summer 2015 in Review The first MENA Salon of the semester will feature a brief roundup of notable events in the Middle East and North Africa this summer, including the murder of Khaled al-Asaad and the destruction at Palmyra carried out by ISIS; the attacks in Sousse, Tunisia and the changing perception of Tunisia as the success story of the Arab revolutions; the summer of protests in Lebanon and the rise of the “You Stink” movement; and the Iran deal and its effects on broader regional dynamics, including relations between Israel and Palestine.

Beheading of Khaled Al-Asaad
Tunisia is Sacrificing its Democracy
Talking Trash in Lebanon
The Iran Nuclear Agreement and the Question of Palestine


4/24/15: 100 Years after the Armenian Genocide

The Guardian Briefing
Turkey’s Century of Denial
Armenian Genocide Debate
A Criminal Lie
The 24th of April

4/17/15: Deal or No Deal? The Iranian Nuclear Negotiations

Obama Strongly Defends Iran Deal
Nuclear Agreement
Lawmakers Demand Fact Sheet
Lausanne Strengthens Hand
What did Khamenei Really Say?

4/10/15: Regional Crisis in Yemen?

Iran-Saudi Proxy War
What do the Leaders of Yemen’s Houthis Want?
Intervention in Iran

3/20/15: Israel’s Parliamentary Elections

Election Rules Complicate Naming a Winner
Coalition Math
Could a Netanyahu Loss Change Everything?
Israel’s Ethnic Divide

3/13/15: Neoliberal Palestine

Coca-Cola to Build First Gaza Factory
Attacks on Gaza are Causing Coca-Cola Boycotts
After the Arab Spring in Palestine
How the PA Enriched an Elite

3/6/15: Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Washington

Netanyahu Arrives in Washington to Oppose Iran Deal
Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Washington
Why Obama Won’t Meet with Israeli PM
Skip the Speech

2/27/15: ISIS and Geopolitics: The Beheading of Copts in Libya

Copts, Libya, and Nationalism
We are all Copts
The Lives they Lived
Egyptian Kidnappings in Libya

2/20/15: The Politics of Islamophobia in America

Chapel Hill Shooting
Islamophobia Network
Houston Islamic Center Burns
Anti-Muslim Animus

2/13/15: ISIS, Islam, and Shock Politics

It Wasn’t Their War
ISIS “Shock and Awe”
Islamic Teachings Forbid Burning
Muslim Clerics Denounce Burning
Strategy of Savagery

2/6/15: Arab Identity Crisis?

The Coming Arab Identity Crisis
Washington Can’t Solve the Identity Crisis
Multiculti Schisms
Reclaiming Arabness

1/30/15: Continued Reflections on Charlie Hebdo: French Secularism and Minorities in France

The French Myth of Secularism
Why French Law Treats Dieudonne and Charlie Hebdo Differently
The Threat to France’s Jews
The Attack on Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo: Berkeley Library Guide

1/23/15: Charlie Hebdo: Islam, Muslims, and Free Speech

Islamophobia becoming Undeclared Racism
Islam and Free Speech
On Charlie Hebdo
French Far Right Poised to Exploit Attacks

11/21/14: U.S.-Saudi Relations

American President and Saudi King
Fact Sheet
Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia
Beheadings and Saudi Arabia

11/14/14: The Politics of Persecution: Christians in the Middle East

Friendless Christians
The Middle East without Christians
Iraqi Christians in Mosul
War on Christianity
Persecution of Coptic Christians

11/7/14: Tunisia Calling

The Tunisian Achievement
Tunisia and the Arab Spring
Tunisia Decides
Victory of Secularism
So Where’s the Money?
Tunisia Election Results

10/31/14: Secularism and Islamist Politics

Arab Christians
Militant Secularism
Conversations with History
The Arab Way

10/24/14: “Saving” Women in the Middle East

Afghanistan to Syria
Do Muslim Women Need Saving 2?
Women Fight ISIS
The Women of ISIS
Meet the Female Recruiters of ISIS

10/17/14: Islamophobia and its Effects on the Popular Sphere

Malala and Nabila Worlds Apart
Do Muslim Women Need Saving 1?
Bill Maher on Islamophobia
Maher vs. Affleck
Bill Maher’s Horrible Excuse

10/10/14: Gaza and Operation Protective Edge

Is Mahmoud Abbas Right?
Capsizing in Mediterranean
The Fate of the Gaza Ceasefire
Israel is Put on Trial

9/26/14: What’s at Stake for Iran’s Nuclear Program?

Iran Nuclear Timeline
The Iranian Threat
Israel’s Secret Nuclear Arsenal
A Year after Historic Phone Call

9/17/14: The Egyptian Presidency from Revolution to Counterrevolution 

Egypt Guide
Egypt’s Other Candidate
Fragmented Politics
Coptic Movement
Counting Votes in Egypt
Clueless in Cairo

9/12/14: ISIS and Rethinking Sykes-Picot

Persecution of Christians Contradicts a Caliphate
The Islamic State 1
Iraqis under ISIS Rule in Mosul
Rise in ISIS Executions
ISIS Consolidates