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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., 1 / 15 / 2019
E.g., 1 / 15 / 2019
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Issue 1508

What are the consequences of the Iran "deal" for regional and international security?

Introduction

by Hoover Institution Tuesday, October 13, 2015
article

Featured Analysis

by Charles Hill Tuesday, October 20, 2015
article
by Russell A. Berman Tuesday, October 13, 2015
article
by Stephen D. Krasner Wednesday, October 14, 2015
article
by Reuel Marc Gerecht Monday, October 19, 2015
article
by Colin Dueck Thursday, October 15, 2015
article
by Mehdi Khalaji Friday, October 16, 2015
article
Saturday, September 14, 2013

Issue 1307

Syria and the World's Uncertainty

Introduction

by Fouad Ajami Thursday, September 12, 2013
article

Featured Analysis

by Charles Hill Thursday, September 12, 2013
article
by Russell A. Berman Thursday, September 12, 2013
article
by Itamar Rabinovich Thursday, September 12, 2013
article
by Tunku Varadarajan Thursday, September 12, 2013
article
by Reuel Marc Gerecht Thursday, September 12, 2013
article
by Asli Aydintasbas Thursday, September 12, 2013
article
by Fouad Ajami Thursday, September 12, 2013
article
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Issue 1306

The Egyptian Military Coup

Introduction

by Fouad Ajami Wednesday, July 24, 2013
article

Featured Analysis

by Charles Hill Wednesday, July 24, 2013
article
by Russell A. Berman Friday, July 26, 2013
article
by Itamar Rabinovich Wednesday, July 31, 2013
article
by Reuel Marc Gerecht Monday, August 5, 2013
article
by Samuel Tadros Friday, August 2, 2013
article
by Tunku Varadarajan Monday, July 29, 2013
article
by Fouad Ajami Wednesday, August 7, 2013
article
Monday, April 8, 2013

Issue 1305

American Power and the World Order

Introduction

by Fouad Ajami Monday, April 8, 2013
article

Featured Analysis

by Charles Hill Monday, April 8, 2013
article
by Russell A. Berman Wednesday, April 10, 2013
article
by Itamar Rabinovich Friday, April 12, 2013
article
by Leon Wieseltier Monday, April 15, 2013
article
by Asli Aydintasbas Wednesday, April 17, 2013
article
by Fouad Ajami Friday, April 19, 2013
article

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Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia’s Reforms And The United States

by Bernard Haykelvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The reign of King Salman of Saudi Arabia (since January 2015) represents a significant watershed in the history of the kingdom’s system of governance as well as in its domestic and foreign policies. These changes reflect the priorities of the king, who is an absolute monarch. The first, and most important, of these is the handing over of de facto rule to a prince of the younger generation: the king’s 32-year-old son and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (known in the West by his acronym MBS), who will become the reigning monarch upon his father’s passing.

Introduction

Those Exceptional Saudis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“Exceptionalism” was long claimed for America, at least until a president informed us that every nation considers itself exceptional. However that may be, one place now merits that description: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where past, present, and future are entangled as nowhere else; a family, a state, a religion, and an empire variously maneuver for prominence depending on the lens through which the outside world views them. Which is it? What is Saudi Arabia? And how much can it move the political markets of world affairs?

The Caravan: Change In Saudi Arabia

via The Caravan
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Issue 1818 of The Caravan is now available online. The journal is a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East.

Featured Analysis

Six Components Of A Syria Strategy

by Karim Sadjadpour, Emile Hokayemvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

US policy toward Syria has been debilitated by an irresolvable conundrum. Empirical research suggests most civil wars are concluded by military victories, not political settlements. Yet in the war between the murderous regime of Bashar Assad—backed by Russia and Iran—and fractured Islamist rebels, the United States does not want either side to prevail. 

Featured Analysis

US Military In Syria Must Rely On Political Determination And A Marshall Plan

by Fabrice Balanche via The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In January 2018, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described American strategy in Syria as including maintaining a troop presence in the region until at least 2021 while building a Kurdish-Arab force of 30,000 men, both with the ultimate objective of blocking Iranian influence. As laudable as that goal is, achieving it will require addressing a complex nexus of interrelated issues.

Featured Analysis

The Syrian Great Game

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

By definition “great games” are complicated with lots of moving parts.  Battles on the ground, intense, myriad, and sometimes fratricidal, always connect, however indirectly, to the larger collision of great powers.  In Syria, the tug-of-war is a lopsided affair, where Iran, Russia, and the Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad are invested in winning.  The opposing side—Syrian Arab Sunnis, Sunni Gulf Arabs, Israel, the United States, and Turkey—is barely an entente.

Featured Analysis

The Descent Of Syria Into The Abyss

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

“Greetings, softer than the breeze of Barada …. I send my tears, which will never dry, O Damascus.” The opening line of Ahmed Shawqi’s famous poem was written as news of the Syrian defeat by the French in 1920 reached Egypt. Less than two years earlier, Faisal I had entered Damascus and raised the flag of Arab nationalism. The jubilation was felt across the Levant. 

Featured Analysis

America And Syria: Life After Hegemony

by Camille Pecastaingvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The 24-hour news cycle has offered a sequential, fragmented vision of the Syrian conflict. A chemical attack here, a temporary cease fire there; a wave of hopeless refugees, a gruesome terrorist attack; the fall of a besieged city, yet another round of negotiations. Caught in the fractional details, few looked at the bigger picture of how the position of influence the US had secured in the Middle East from the mid-1970s unraveled. 

Featured Analysis

The Syrian Crisis: Strategic Challenges For The United States

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Syrian crisis, which since 2011 has been the focal issue in the Middle East, has now entered a new phase, confronting the United States with fresh challenges. From the early stages of its evolution, the Syrian crisis has unfolded on three levels: domestic, regional and international. The Assad regime's success in capturing Aleppo in late 2016 marked a turning point in the war's domestic dimension. 

Featured Analysis

Why Offense Is The Best Defense Against Russia And Iran In Syria

by Tony Badranvia The Caravan
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In January, the Trump administration unveiled its strategy for Syria. In an address at the Hoover Institution, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out five key objectives, in the process, made clear that the top priority was containing Iran.  The US, he said, would deny Iran the “arch” it is building from Tehran to the Mediterranean, and it would prevent Iran from using Syria as a springboard from which to threaten neighboring countries.

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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.