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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Issue 1820

Political Theology in the Greater Middle East
Introduction
Introduction

Navigating The Realm Of Political Theology In The Greater Middle East

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, November 29, 2018

The modern world—or the era we blithely have been calling “modern”—has defined itself against religion. The Treaty of Westphalia, which inaugurated today’s international state system, pushed religion to diplomacy’s margins to avoid, it was hoped, further wars of religion as had propelled the Thirty Years’ War from 1618-1648.

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

The Legacy Of Saddam’s Islam

by Samuel Helfontvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Anyone examining Islam in Saddam’s Iraq (1979-2003) and the legacy of that period today is quickly confronted with a tangled web of problematic definitions and eclectic ideologies. Untangling this web is essential for identifying what really drives Iraqi politics, and doing so provides one with some hope that sectarian differences can still be overcome.  Paradoxically, it also does not augur well for the chances for stability in the country anytime soon. 

Featured Analysis

Contradictions Of The Faith

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

On February 11, 2019 Iran will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian revolution and the creation of Iran’s Islamic government guided by a clerical leader known as the vali-e-faqih.  This anniversary is important for numerous reasons including that the Islamic Republic, having survived many political storms, has outlasted the expectations of many. Under renewed political and economic pressure from US sanctions and Washington’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear agreement, this anniversary has added symbolism for Tehran. 

Featured Analysis

Restoring Religion’s Role In Foreign And Domestic Policy In Erdogan’s Turkey

by Henri J. Barkeyvia The Caravan
Thursday, December 6, 2018

“Turkey is the only country that can lead the Muslim World,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently claimed. This simple sentence contains not only the ambitions and contradictions of Turkey’s current Islamist leadership but also the distance it has traveled back to its foundational stance. Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party, AKP, emerged from the bosom of the hardline Islamist leader Necmettin Erbakan and his Muslim Brotherhood inspired movement and political party of the 1970s. 

Featured Analysis

Religion And Politics In Israel

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Thursday, December 6, 2018

A complex relationship between religion and politics is inherent in Israel’s character as a Jewish state. The term Jewish denotes both a religion and an ethnicity, and, for the past seventy years, Israel’s leaders have had to deal with a host of issues regarding religion’s role in the life and politics of the Jewish state.

Featured Analysis

Religion And Politics In Lebanon: The Case Of A Christian ‘Alliance’ With Hezbollah

by Habib Malikvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

It may be somewhat inconvenient for the secular Western mind to acknowledge the fact that ultimate identity on both the personal and group levels in a place like the Middle East remains conceived primarily in religious terms.  If this is indeed a given, then it should hardly be surprising that religion and politics become intricately intertwined within and across both communities and states in the region.

Featured Analysis

Democracy, Populism, And Polytheism: Islam In India

by Aishwary Kumarvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Extreme fascination with idols, statues, and names is widespread across South Asia and the ritualistic violence that accompanies such practices is neither modern nor singular to India, the region’s most doggedly democratic and unequivocally polytheistic country. In fact, until this past November, when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled India’s colossal 182-meter high Statue of Unity, which now stands as the world’s highest monument to a revisionist history of nationalism, the record for height belonged to a more modest Buddhist statue in China, shorter than Modi’s populist gift to India by more than 100 feet.

Featured Analysis

Erdogan The Nationalist Vs Erdogan The Islamist

by Asli Aydintasbasvia The Caravan
Thursday, December 13, 2018

One of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s pet projects is the promotion of “imam-hatip” schools within the Turkish education system with the hope that it would help create his desire for a “pious generation.” Originally designed to educate young imams and preachers, the schools follow the standard curriculum of Turkey’s ministry of education, but also offer additional courses in Arabic, Islamic law and the Quran. Erdogan – himself a graduate – wants Turkey’s imam-hatip schools to be the centerpiece of the country’s educational system and its graduates to be the next generation’s leaders, undoing nearly a hundred years of secular dominance.

Featured Analysis

Pragmatism And Profits Drive Islamic Finance Industry

by Afshin Molavivia The Caravan
Thursday, December 13, 2018

A curious Islamic scholarly ruling emerged this month from a group of scholars associated with the Shariyah Review Bureau, an independent consultancy licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain. The scholars granted a Swiss-based cryptocurrency, X8, a coveted sharia-compliant certificate, noting that its currency would be permissible under Islamic law. Pious Muslims interested in cryptocurrency can now trade the X8C StableCoin as it is called, citing the Shariya Review Board’s ruling as justification.

Featured Analysis

The Middle Eastern Christian Dilemma

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Writing in his famous book, What Went Wrong, the Middle East’s eminent historian, Bernard Lewis remarked that “according to Islamic law and tradition, there were three groups of people who did not benefit from the general Muslim principle of legal and religious equality – unbelievers, slaves, and women …. the rise of Western power and the spread of Western influence brought important changes to all three groups.” But while the drive for the emancipation of the three groups elicited fierce opposition, the reason was hardly the same. 

Featured Analysis

Our Political Theologies

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

It has been seventeen years since the September 11 attacks, a defining moment not only for America but for our allies as well, and the response of one of them can help understand some of the underlying cultural aspects of contemporary political debate.  When the news reports spread through Paris, the initial reaction of profound shock quickly gave way to vigorous expressions of solidarity with the United States. “We are now all Americans” Le Monde declared famously. France, itself so often scarred by terrorism from the Middle East since the Algerian War, felt threatened as well, as painful national memories reemerged. 

E.g., 2 / 21 / 2019
E.g., 2 / 21 / 2019
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Issue 1716

Rolling Back Iran

Introduction

by Charles Hill Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article

Featured Analysis

by Reuel Marc Gerecht Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article
by Samuel Tadros Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article
by Karim Sadjadpour Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article
by Sanam Vakil Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article
by Tony Badran Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article
by Fabrice Balanche Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article
by Russell A. Berman Tuesday, December 12, 2017
article
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Issue 1715

Islamism in Maritime Southeast Asia

Introduction

by Charles Hill Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article

Featured Analysis

by Shaun Tan Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
by Meredith L. Weiss Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
by Patricia Sloane-White Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
by Kelly A. Hammond Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
by David S. Maxwell Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
by Dr. Joseph Felter Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
by Paul Wolfowitz Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
by Russell A. Berman Wednesday, September 27, 2017
article
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Issue 1714

Social Media in the Middle East
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Issue 1713

Egypt: Past and Present Keystone of the Arab-Islamic World

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Introduction

Navigating The Realm Of Political Theology In The Greater Middle East

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, November 29, 2018

The modern world—or the era we blithely have been calling “modern”—has defined itself against religion. The Treaty of Westphalia, which inaugurated today’s international state system, pushed religion to diplomacy’s margins to avoid, it was hoped, further wars of religion as had propelled the Thirty Years’ War from 1618-1648.

Featured Analysis

On China’s Western Front

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Problems in China’s restive northwest province of Xinjiang have long been simmering, but recent developments point to growing troubles, as news reports and statements by international organizations have significantly raised public attention.  Beijing is engaged in programmatic efforts to suppress the ethnic identity of the Uighur people, a population of 11 million, while combatting their aspirations for political autonomy or even independence.

Featured Analysis

The Long Encounter: China And Islam’s Irreconcilable Tensions

by Michael R. Auslinvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

China’s relationship with Islam goes back to the 7th century, when Arab merchants and envoys traveled to Canton (Guangzhou) to discuss trade ties with the Tang dynasty. Building mosques and madrassas, hosting preachers, and creating largely homogenous enclaves within China, Muslim communities persisted throughout repeated disintegration and reformation of Chinese dynasties. 

Featured Analysis

China's Final Solution In Xinjiang

by Miles Maochun Yuvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Since its founding in 1949, the Chinese communist government in Beijing has long considered a northwestern region on its vast political map a primary troubled spot for the regime and has systematically implemented various measures to seek total control of this important territory. Of the four non-China Proper areas, the other three, i.e. Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet have longer, and more complicated historical connections with China.

Featured Analysis

China & Middle East: Regional Rebalancing

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Middle East, a region once embroiled in the Cold War struggle of east and west, is now bearing witness to new geopolitical shifts.   The emergence of Beijing on the Middle Eastern landscape where it is quenching its thirst for energy resources and forging regional relationships through its One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) with countries as diverse as Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comes at the expense of Washington’s longstanding primacy.  Many American strategists find China’s encroachment to be a troubling threat to U.S. national interests. 

Featured Analysis

Planning For Apocalypse: Environmental Change, Islamism, And China

by Sulmaan Wasif Khanvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Will a new wave of Islamist violence threaten China’s national interests over the coming decades? Good planning does not dismiss worst-case scenarios as unlikely; it asks, instead, how such a scenario might come to pass, thereby illuminating ways to avoid it. A combination of environmental stress and China’s deepening footprint abroad might well produce Islamist terrorism directed at Chinese across the world and at home. Avoiding this requires a strengthened commitment to environmental protection and to policies that mitigate Muslim discontent.

Featured Analysis

The Chinese Approach To Uyghur Separatism(*)

by Jacques Neriahvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Around 22 million Muslims live in China (PRC) today. The Hui, the majority Muslim group in China, are fully integrated into all echelons of Chinese society, and are allowed to practice their religion with almost no interference from the authorities. The dominant minority group, the Uyghurs (roughly 10 million people), are a Sunni Turkish-related population who speak a Turkish dialect and live in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. Other Muslim minority groups are Kazakhs, Dongxiangs, Salar, Tatars, Bonans, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Utsul, Kyrgyz, and Tibetans.

Featured Analysis

Enter The Dragon: China’s Belt And Road Rising In The Middle East

by Afshin Molavivia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Cairenes are not modest about their beloved city. It is Umm al-Dunya, they say, the mother of the world. They also call it simply Masr, the Arabic term for Egypt, suggesting, of course, that there is really nothing worth noting in the vast country beyond their grand city on the Nile.

Featured Analysis

Kazakhstan Is Moving Away From China

by Gordon G. Changvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Chinese leaders think they can imprison hundreds of thousands of Muslim citizens, attempt to eradicate their religion and culture, and maintain good relations with Central Asian countries and other Muslim-majority societies. The test of this breathtaking proposition is Kazakhstan.

Featured Analysis

Xinjiang: Bridge Or Barrier To Xi Jinping’s Belt And Road Initiative?

by Dru C. Gladneyvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Why is China taking desperate actions toward the Uyghur and the spread of radical Islam in the vast western region known as Xinjiang?  Experts find little evidence directly linking jihadist-inspired radicalism to specific terrorist attacks and acts of violence in the region, which have been growing over the last decade.  Beginning in early 2017, China began establishing innumerable “re-education centers,” sweeping up nearly 1 million Uyghur and other Muslim minorities, by some estimates, almost 1/10th of their population. 

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The Caravan is envisaged as a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. It will be a free and candid exchange of opinions. We shall not lack for topics of debate, for that arc of geography has contentions aplenty. It is our intention to come back with urgent topics that engage us. Caravans are full of life and animated companionship. Hence the name we chose for this endeavor.

We will draw on the membership of Hoover's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, and on colleagues elsewhere who work that same political and cultural landscape. Russell Berman and Charlie Hill cochair the project from which this effort originates.