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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.

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Featured Analysis

On The Intersection Of German And Syrian History And The Enduring Importance Of "Coming To Terms With The Nazi Past."

by Jeffrey Herfvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A successful European wide response to Islamism calls for the following policies.

Featured Analysis

A European Crisis

by Olivier Decottigniesvia The Caravan
Monday, May 9, 2016

With the March 22nd Brussels attacks, the Islamic State did not merely hit Belgium: as Dabiq, the organization’s gory and glossy online magazine stressed, it also struck Europe “at its heart.”

Featured Analysis

The Battle For Europe

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Friday, May 6, 2016

In 2004 Gilles Kepel, the noted French scholar of the modern Middle East and Muslims in Europe, wrote: The bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004, established Europe as the new frontline for terrorist attacks. Before 9/11 Europe had provided a sanctuary where Al-Qaeda’s planners could complete preparations for the world-shattering operation they had conceived in the mountains of Afghanistan. But with the events in Madrid in spring 2004, Europe emerged as the primary battlefield on which the future of global Islam will be decided.

Featured Analysis

France Refuses To See Islamism As A Cultural Problem

by Fabrice Balanche via The Caravan
Thursday, May 5, 2016

Despite the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris, the French government refuses to acknowledge the link between terrorism in France, the crisis in the Middle East, and the complacency towards the threat of political Islam on the domestic scene. The truth is that the jihadists who  hit Paris and then Brussels on March 22, 2016, had been indoctrinated in the Salafi ideology sponsored by Saudi funded mosques, indirectly financed by private donors in the Gulf, and tolerated by Turkey - the country through which they pass to Europe. 

Featured Analysis

How Should Europe Respond To Islamism?

by Ted R. Bromundvia The Caravan
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

In this era of mass and uncontrolled migrant flows, Adam Smith’s 1776 classic on The Wealth of Nations offers insight into the nature of the challenge posed by Islamism. Far from being a mere manual of economics, Smith’s work reveals how competition promotes progress across society and government, and how it created the modern state and the modern international state system.

Featured Analysis

Security, Strategy, And Values

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

ISIS terrorism in Paris and Brussels underscores the global character of the Islamist threat, but this should surprise no one, given the history of Islamist violence since September 11, 2001.

Introduction

Islamism, Refugees and the European Crisis

by Hoover Institutionvia The Caravan
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The past several months have seen Europe reeling from ISIS attacks in Paris and Brussels. The European security forces have been called to task for their lack of coordination – this compulsion to keep secrets from other services has led in part to the success of these terror attacks.  

Featured Analysis

As Seen By The Saudis

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Monday, February 22, 2016

Perhaps no grand strategic moment has been caught by the camera in such an unposed yet meaningful way. There on the heavy cruiser USS Quincy at anchor in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, is President Roosevelt, fresh from Yalta, on his way back across the Atlantic, having tea with Ibn Saud Abdul-Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia. An American orderly squats before His Highness to ask how he likes his tea.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia's Uncertain Future

by Toby Matthiesenvia The Caravan
Monday, February 22, 2016

Saudi Arabia has probably done more than any other actor to repress the hopes and demands of the early Arab Spring protests. It sent troops to neighbouring Bahrain in March 2011 to quell an uprising, gave asylum to Tunisia's ousted dictator Bin Ali, underwrote the coup in Egypt in 2013, and generally propped up the old regimes and monarchies across the region.

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia Is Growing Up

by Karen Elliott Housevia The Caravan
Friday, February 19, 2016

After at least two decades of domestic drift under geriatric rulers and overdependence on US protection in a dangerous region, the kingdom is starting to stand up on its own.  There are two reasons for this.

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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.