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  • Author: Ann M. Lesch
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt’s ruler since July 2013, brooks no dissent. Having “saved” Egypt from the Muslim Brothers, he has ruled by decree in the absence of a parliament, supported by a handpicked technocratic cabinet. His security apparatus muzzles the press, keeps dissident voices off-air, arrests secular as well as Islamist critics, and clamps down on civil society. He has built ten new prisons to accommodate the overflow, as political prisoners may now total 60,000.[1] As typical of military rulers, he announces grandiose projects – the new channel in the Suez Canal, the Dabaa nuclear power plant, million-unit agricultural and housing schemes, and a multi-billion dollar new capital city – without taking into consideration their cost, integrating them into long term plans, conducting comprehensive feasibility studies, or examining their social and environmental impact.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Islam, Politics, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Author: Joel S. Migdal
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Joel S. Migdal revisits the approach U.S. officials have adopted toward the Middle East since World War II, which paid scant attention to tectonic shifts in the region. After the war, the United States did not restrict its strategic model to the Middle East. Beginning with Harry S. Truman, American presidents applied a uniform strategy rooted in the country's Cold War experience in Europe to regions across the globe, designed to project America into nearly every corner of the world while limiting costs and overreach. The approach was simple: find a local power that could play Great Britain's role in Europe after the war, sharing the burden of exercising power, and establish a security alliance along the lines of NATO. Yet regional changes following the creation of Israel, the Free Officers Coup in Egypt, the rise of Arab nationalism from 1948 to 1952, and, later, the Iranian Revolution and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty in 1979 complicated this project. Migdal shows how insufficient attention to these key transformations led to a series of missteps and misconceptions in the twentieth century. With the Arab uprisings of 2009 through 2011 prompting another major shift, Migdal sees an opportunity for the United States to deploy a new, more workable strategy, and he concludes with a plan for gaining a stable foothold in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Cold War, Islam
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231536349
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Wael B. Hallaq
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Wael B. Hallaq boldly argues that the "Islamic state," judged by any standard definition of what the modern state represents, is both impossible and inherently self-contradictory. Comparing the legal, political, moral, and constitutional histories of premodern Islam and Euro-America, he finds the adoption and practice of the modern state to be highly problematic for modern Muslims. He also critiques more expansively modernity's moral predicament, which renders impossible any project resting solely on ethical foundations. The modern state not only suffers from serious legal, political, and constitutional issues, Hallaq argues, but also, by its very nature, fashions a subject inconsistent with what it means to be, or to live as, a Muslim. By Islamic standards, the state's technologies of the self are severely lacking in moral substance, and today's Islamic state, as Hallaq shows, has done little to advance an acceptable form of genuine Shari'a governance. The Islamists' constitutional battles in Egypt and Pakistan, the Islamic legal and political failures of the Iranian Revolution, and similar disappointments underscore this fact. Nevertheless, the state remains the favored template of the Islamists and the ulama (Muslim clergymen). Providing Muslims with a path toward realizing the good life, Hallaq turns to the rich moral resources of Islamic history. Along the way, he proves political and other "crises of Islam" are not unique to the Islamic world nor to the Muslim religion. These crises are integral to the modern condition of both East and West, and by acknowledging these parallels, Muslims can engage more productively with their Western counterparts.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Fragile/Failed State, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231162579
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Jonathan Lyons
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Despite the West's growing involvement in Muslim societies, conflicts, and cultures, its inability to understand or analyze the Islamic world threatens any prospect for East-West rapprochement. Impelled by one thousand years of anti-Muslim ideas and images, the West has failed to engage in any meaningful or productive way with the world of Islam. Formulated in the medieval halls of the Roman Curia and courts of the European Crusaders and perfected in the newsrooms of Fox News and CNN, this anti-Islamic discourse determines what can and cannot be said about Muslims and their religion, trapping the West in a dangerous, dead-end politics that it cannot afford. In Islam Through Western Eyes, Jonathan Lyons unpacks Western habits of thinking and writing about Islam, conducting a careful analysis of the West's grand totalizing narrative across one thousand years of history. He observes the discourse's corrosive effects on the social sciences, including sociology, politics, philosophy, theology, international relations, security studies, and human rights scholarship. He follows its influence on research, speeches, political strategy, and government policy, preventing the West from responding effectively to its most significant twenty-first-century challenges: the rise of Islamic power, the emergence of religious violence, and the growing tension between established social values and multicultural rights among Muslim immigrant populations. Through the intellectual "archaeology" of Michel Foucault, Lyons reveals the workings of this discourse and its underlying impact on our social, intellectual, and political lives. He then addresses issues of deep concern to Western readers--Islam and modernity, Islam and violence, and Islam and women--and proposes new ways of thinking about the Western relationship to the Islamic world.
  • Topic: Islam, Post Colonialism, Political Theory, Culture
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231158954
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Mensur Akgün
  • Publication Date: 04-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Some would argue that the once violent inter-communal conflict in Cyprus has transformed through the decades into a comfortable status quo that has enabled the main stakeholders, and everyone else directly or indirectly influenced by the problem, to take advantage of the situation on the ground, which has in turn developed a desire to intentionally protract the comfortable conflict. Yet others would claim that the number of failed attempts to agree on a comprehensive solution acceptable by all parties have diminished the quality of life on the island and have become a chronic headache not only for the locals, but also for the international community. Because of these reasons, one could rightfully ask why would the fruitless search for a resolution to the Cyprus conflict be chosen as an exemplar case study and source of inspiration for generating creative ideas aiming to help solve other disputes around the world, specifically the one regarding the territory of Moldova.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Islam, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Moldova, Cyprus
  • Author: Michael W. S. Ryan
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: By consulting the work of well-known and obscure al-Qaeda theoreticians, Michael W. S. Ryan finds jihadist terrorism strategy has more in common with the principles of Maoist guerrilla warfare than mainstream Islam. Encouraging strategists and researchers to devote greater attention to jihadi ideas rather than jihadist military operations, Ryan builds an effective framework for analyzing al-Qaeda's plans against America and constructs a compelling counternarrative to the West's supposed "war on Islam." Ryan examines the Salafist roots of al-Qaeda ideology and the contributions of its most famous founders, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a political-military context. He also reads the Arabic-language works of lesser known theoreticians who have played an instrumental role in framing al-Qaeda's so-called war of the oppressed. These authors readily cite the guerrilla strategies of Mao, Che Guevara, and the mastermind of the Vietnam War, General Giap. They also incorporate the arguments of American theorists writing on "fourth-generation warfare." Through these texts, readers experience events as insiders see them, and by concentrating on the activities and pronouncements of al-Qaeda's thought leaders, especially in Yemen, they discern the direct link between al-Qaeda's tactics and trends in anti-U.S. terrorism. Ryan shows al-Qaeda's political-military strategy to be a revolutionary and largely secular departure from the classic Muslim conception of jihad, adding invaluable dimensions to the operational, psychological, and informational strategies already deployed by America's military in the region.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231533270
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Mamadou Diouf
  • Publication Date: 01-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: This collection critically examines "tolerance," "secularism," and respect for religious "diversity" within a social and political system dominated by Sufi brotherhoods. Through a detailed analysis of Senegal's political economy, essays trace the genealogy and dynamic exchange among these concepts while investigating public spaces and political processes and their reciprocal engagement with the state, Sunni reformist and radical groups, and non-religious organizations. The anthology provides a rich and nuanced historical ethnography of the formation of Senegalese democracy, illuminating the complex trajectory of the Senegalese state and reflecting on similar postcolonial societies. Offering rare perspectives on the country's "successes" since liberation, the volume identifies the role of religion, gender, culture, ethnicity, globalization, politics, and migration in the reconfiguration of the state and society, and it makes an important contribution to democratization theory, Islamic studies, and African studies.
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Political Economy, History, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Senegal
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231162630
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Lorenzo Vidino
  • Publication Date: 02-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Few observers foresaw the Arab Spring, but it should not have surprised anyone that the Islamist movements - the most organized movements in the Arab world - became the main beneficiaries of the turmoil that ensued. Islamism, in its gradualist and pragmatic approach embodied by the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots worldwide, seems ready to reap the rewards of its three decades-old decision to abandon violence and focus on grassroots activities. This monumental change has created many concerns among liberals, religious minorities and, more generally, all non-Islamists in the countries where Islamists have won. In addition, Arab states ruled by non-Islamist regimes have expressed concern. The former worry that Islamist ideology - even in its more contemporary, pragmatic form - remains deeply divisive and anti-democratic, often at odds with their values and interests. The latter believe that on foreign policy issues, most of the positions of various Brotherhood-inspired parties are on a collision course with the policies of established regimes in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Violence, Islam, Self Determination, Political Activism, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Frederic M. Wehrey
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Beginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and concluding with the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings, Frederic M. Wehrey investigates the roots of the Shi'a-Sunni divide now dominating the Persian Gulf's political landscape. Focusing on three Gulf states affected most by sectarian tensions—Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait—Wehrey identifies the factors that have exacerbated or tempered sectarianism, including domestic political institutions, the media, clerical establishments, and the contagion effect of external regional events, such as the Iraq war, the 2006 Lebanon conflict, the Arab uprisings, and Syria's civil war.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Sectarianism, Gulf Nations, Arab Spring
  • Political Geography: Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Persian Gulf
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231536103
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman, Karin von Hippel
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Since 9/11, intelligence agencies, independent commissions, and private-sector analyses have repeatedly asserted that terrorist organizations rely heavily on funding from Islamic charities. This alleged support for acts of violence and terrorism in the Islamic charitable sector-and a seeming toleration of such activities-raises serious questions. Is a significant portion of this charitable sector a front for terrorist activities? Or is a small minority tainting the good deeds of the majority? How do legitimate charities relate to their illegitimate peers, if at all, and how can one distinguish between the two? How do organizations that have both bona fide charitable operations and armed wings blend their charity with acts of violence? How much are the charitable and social service arms of such blended organizations intended as recruitment mechanisms for a fundamentally violent set of goals?In general, Western understanding of Islamic charities remains limited. This volume, therefore, seeks to answer some of the more important questions related to philanthropy in the Muslim world. How do these charities operate? How are they funded? And how, in some cases, are they involved in terrorist activities? The authors explore the variety of roles that Muslim philanthropies play in different countries, their interactions with national and international institutions, and the boundaries and connections between their philanthropic roles and their political impacts.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism