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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Issue 2028

Fouad Ajami: Scholar, Teacher, Mentor
Introduction
screenshot of book cover for Crosswinds: The Way of Saudi Arabia by Fouad Ajami
Introduction

Introduction To Crosswinds: The Way Of Saudi Arabia

by Cole Bunzelvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

The publication of Crosswinds: The Way of Saudi Arabia has been a long time coming. Fouad Ajami’s intimate portrait of Saudi society and politics, drawing on his visits to the kingdom in the 1990s and early 2000s, was finished in 2010. The manuscript was submitted to Hoover Institution Press that year, and in the coming months it would be edited and typeset.

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

Bearers Of Meaning In The Middle East

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

Every contributor to this special issue of The Caravan dedicated to the memory of Fouad Ajami will have wondered “What would Fouad be thinking of now?”

Featured Analysis

Saudi Arabia And Ajami’s Way

by Martin Kramervia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

Crosswinds may best be described as Fouad Ajami’s furthest exploration in the Arab world.

Featured Analysis

The Tapestry Weaver

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

Joseph Conrad said this about his work: “My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel--it is, before all, to make you see.” The same should be said of Fouad Ajami who through his life and writing helped many, like myself, hear, feel and see the rich beauty and diversity of the Middle East.

Featured Analysis

The Saudi Evolution

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

Fouad Ajami had an odd fondness for Saudi Arabia. He was an Americanized, secular Shiite with European sensibilities who, truth be told, had pretty much burned out on the ugliness of the modern Arab world. He once smiled knowingly at the comment of the late, great Middle Eastern historian Charles Issawi: “Thank God it’s Friday: I can stop reading Arabic, Persian, and Turkish and go home and read Jane Austen.”  

Featured Analysis

And If He Were Here Today

by Franck Salamehvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

In his 1931 collection of essays, Reflections on the World Today, French polymath historiographer and public intellectual Paul Valéry wrote with ominous premonition of a world yet to come, more so than he might have done the world he was frequenting, contemplating, and gazing at in early 1930s France.

Featured Analysis

Ajami’s Method

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Thursday, October 29, 2020

Aspects of Fouad Ajami’s method are inimitable, or nearly so, inseparable from the distinctive personality of this one remarkable thinker. His reflections on the politics of the Middle East always depended on his empathetic understanding of the cultures, the complex histories, the literary achievements, and the ever-present currents of faith. Add to this his specifically Lebanese perspective, indisputably rooted in the region but also always with an eye to the sea, to the West, and to a very different political-cultural world.

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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

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

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

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. 

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.

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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.