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The Changing Middle East

The Changing Middle East: A New Look at Regional Dynamics

Edited by Bahgat Korany
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 364
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  • Book Info
    The Changing Middle East
    Book Description:

    The conventional view of the Arab Middle East is that of a rigid and even stagnant region. This book counters the static perception and focuses instead on regional dynamics. After first discussing types of change, identifying catalysts, and tracing the evolution of the region over the last sixty years, the international team of contributors go on to evaluate the development of Arab civil society; examine the opportunities and challenges facing the Arab media; link the debates concerning Arab political thought to the evolving regional and international context; look at the transformation of armed Islamist movements into deradicalized factions; assess how and to what extent women’s empowerment is breaking down patriarchy; and analyze the rise of non-state actors such as Hizbollah and Hamas that rival central political authority. A new introduction written in the summer of 2011 addresses the most recent dramatic upheavals in the region.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-386-4
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface to the 2011 Edition: Beyond Arab Exceptionalism
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Bahgat Korany
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Bahgat Korany

    Even before U.S. President Barack Obama emphasized the primacy of change as a driving force, globalization has meant that today there is little room for static phenomena or their analysis. Did not the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of a superpower—the Soviet Union—take the world by surprise in 1989–91, even being announced as the early beginning of the twenty-first century? Moreover, any discussion of basic issues of reform, issuing forth from the United Nations or from national societies, reflects the primacy of change in world discourse. The 2009Arab Human Development Report(UNDP 2009)...

  6. 1 Looking at the Middle East Differently: An Alternative Conceptual Lens
    (pp. 7-42)
    Bahgat Korany

    By focusing on change in the Arab Middle East, the objective of this study is not to negate international–regional connectedness or patterns of continuity in this region. These two aspects are all too evident and it would be foolish to deny their presence.

    By privileging what has been overlooked—change—this chapter aims to promote a much more comprehensive picture of how this region actually functions. Focusing on change is required academically but it could also help in the elaboration of relevant policies to cope with the evolving challenges on the ground. That is why this chapter combines conceptual...

  7. 2 An Attempt to Evaluate the Development of Arab Civil Society
    (pp. 43-58)
    Amani Kandil

    One way to gauge the size and type of changes occurring in the Arab region is to investigate developments in Arab civil society—the characteristics of the changes related to this sector, as well as the features predicting its sustainability.

    Arab civil society exists, and is sustained through, an interactive relationship with its surrounding socioeconomic and political environment. As such, it is necessary to examine the changes that have taken place within civil society on the one hand, and the developments in the relationship between the organizations belonging to this sector and the state on the other.

    An attempt to...

  8. 3 Arab Media over the Past Twenty Years: Opportunities and Challenges
    (pp. 59-84)
    Rasha A. Abdulla

    No discussion of the political, economic, democratic, or developmental arena of a country or region is complete without a discussion of its media system. The cliché of the media institution as being the supposed watchdog of political systems is long known, but the relationship actually runs deeper than that, particularly with the emergence of new media, starting with satellite television and ending with the Internet and Web 2.0 applications. The ideal relationship is a symbiotic one, where political systems provide freedom of expression and access to information while the resulting healthy environment and participatory civic society help fuel democracy and...

  9. 4 On the Margins of Defeat: A Sociology of Arab Intellectuals under Authoritarianism
    (pp. 85-118)
    Hazem Kandil

    State repression, under authoritarianism, is so frequently taken for granted that its deeper ramifications are rarely studied. In this chapter, I examine one of the less-studied impacts of repression on intellectual life. I do not document the number of detentions and executions, the restrictions on dialogue and interaction in the public sphere, or the obstacles facing the production and dissemination of thought. My goal is to expose how repression influences the way intellectuals actually think: which topics they choose to tackle, and how they do so. The main argument here is that we can best understand the development of contemporary...

  10. 5 Women’s Empowerment Hammers Patriarchy: How Big Is the Dent?
    (pp. 119-138)
    Ola AbouZeid

    Since the early 1970s, the Arab region has witnessed a rising interest in women’s issues at both the state and the regional level. At the regional level, the League of Arab States (LAS) established, at the turn of the 1970s, a Women’s Committee within its secretariat-general to act as an advisory body on issues related to women’s advancement. In 1988, the Arab ministers of social affairs approved the first “Arab Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women until the Year 2000.” This was followed, in 1994, by the “Plan for the Advancement of Arab Women until the Year 2003,” which...

  11. 6 Continuity and Change in Islamist Political Thought and Behavior: The Transformations of Armed Islamist Movements in Egypt and Algeria
    (pp. 139-166)
    Omar Ashour

    In July 1997, the “historical leadership”¹ of al-Jama‘ a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group; hereafter, IG)—the largest armed Islamist movement in Egypt during the 1980s and 1990s—declared a unilateral ceasefire. Known as the Initiative for Ceasing Violence (ICV), the declaration ran against the group’s traditionally militant literature, the previous vows of its leaders to continue armed struggle until the Mubarak regime had been toppled, and the increasingly violent tactics used by IG affiliates since the late 1970s. In 2002, the leadership of the IG not only dismantled its armed wings but also renounced its radical literature. Members of theshura...

  12. 7 Nonstate Actors: A Comparative Analysis of Change and Development within Hamas and Hezbollah
    (pp. 167-196)
    Julie C. Herrick

    In accordance with the broad theme of a changing Middle East, this chapter will explore the emergence of alternative forms of governance, namely the rise of nonstate actors (NSAs) as political entities increasingly wielding legitimacy and influence at domestic, regional, and international levels. More specifically, this chapter will compare and contrast the development of Hamas and Hezbollah, two of the largest and most high-profile NSAs currently operating in the Middle East.

    Hamas and Hezbollah are often perceived and categorized as being alike, as a result of similarities in their organizational structure, ideology, and activities. Hamas and Hezbollah exhibit comparable characteristics,...

  13. 8 The Challenge of Change and the Necessity of Social Engineering
    (pp. 197-204)
    Bahgat Korany

    On the face of it, the Arab region may appear stagnant. After all, political leadership at the top does not change very much. President Bashir of Sudan has been in power for twenty-one years, Tunisia’s Zein al-Abdine Ben Ali for twenty-three years, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak for twenty-nine years, and the revolutionary Muammar Qadhafi celebrated his fortieth anniversary in power in Libya in 2009. When Syrian President Hafez al-Asad died after more than thirty years in power, in 2000, his son Bashar succeeded him. To describe this phenomenon of longevity in so many republican regimes, many Arab analysts are using the...

  14. Appendix: Data and Comments on Middle East Transformations: 1989–2009
    (pp. 205-248)
  15. References
    (pp. 249-274)
  16. Index
    (pp. 275-282)