Browse Publications

Water Management in the Nile Basin: A Fragmented but Effective Cooperative Regime

CIRS Occasional Paper no. 17
Bart Hilhorst, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Ongoing expansions of hydro-infrastructure in the Nile basin, combined with infrastructure completed in the past decade, are increasing the capacity to regulate the Nile as well as the benefits accrued to the Nile waters. No longer reliant on funding from the World Bank and Western donors alone, Nile water development is accelerating in a number of upstream riparian states. Hence, the river Nile upstream of the Aswan High Dam is gradually being transformed from a natural to a regulated river. Hydro-infrastructure projects represent a strong driver for issue-based cooperation among the most affected riparians, but it is noted that the basin-wide perspective is not considered in these ad hoc arrangements. This paper describes the emerging cooperative regime in the Nile basin and analyzes its effectiveness. It presents an inventory of where cooperation among Nile riparians is needed, and discusses the required level of cooperation. It looks at the benefits of cooperation that are not related to a specific geographic area. The paper then identifies four distinct sub-basins that have substantial autonomy in managing their water resources. It concludes that the emerging cooperative setup is logical and for now quite effective, and does not lock in arrangements that may prove inconsistent—at a later point in time—with the overall objective of reasonable and equitable use of the Nile waters by each riparian state. Hence, the emerging cooperative regime arguably represents a positive step in the evolution from a basin without cooperation to a basin managed to optimize the use of the Nile waters for the benefit of its people.

CIRS Annual Report 2015-2016

The 2015-2016 CIRS Annual Report contains information about all the activities, research initiatives, publications, lectures, and events that CIRS organized throughout the year. Highlights include the publication of three new CIRS books, as well as a new publication series titled the Asia Papers. 

The Great Game in West Asia:  Iran, Turkey and the South Caucasus

Kamrava, Mehran, ed. The Great Game in West Asia: Iran, Turkey and the South Caucasus. Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016.

The Great Game in West Asia examines the strategic competition between Iran and Turkey for power and influence in the South Caucasus. These neighboring Middle East powers have vied for supremacy and influence throughout the region and especially in their immediate vicinity, while contending with ethnic heterogeneity both within their own territories and across their borders. Turkey has long conceived of itself as not just a bridge between Asia and Europe but in more substantive terms as a central player in regional and global affairs. If somewhat more modest in its public statements, Iran’s parallel ambitions for strategic centrality and influence have only been masked by its own inarticulate foreign policy agendas and the repeated missteps of its revolutionary leaders. But both have sought to deepen their regional influence and power, and in the South Caucasus each has achieved a modicum of success. In fact, as the contributions to this volume demonstrate, as much of the world’s attention has been diverted to conflicts and flashpoints near and far, a new great game has been unravelling between Iran and Turkey in the South Caucasus. Read more from Hurst Publishers.


The Importance of Being Ernst: Ernst David Bergmann and Israel’s Role in Taiwan’s Defense

The Asia Papers no.2
Yitzhak Shichor, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Asian Studies at the University of Haifa and Michael William Lipson Chair Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

Since the early 1960s when Taiwanese officials met Professor Ernst David Bergmann, the first chairman of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, he played a significant role in Taiwan’s nuclear (and missile) programs. In Taiwan, which he visited occasionally and maintained close relations with President Chiang Kai-shek and its military-technological-scientific complex, Bergmann also facilitated some of Israel’s conventional military transfers to Taiwan. While some of his activities in Taiwan may have been approved by the Israeli Ministry of Defense (which followed its own foreign policy), the Foreign Ministry took exception, well before Jerusalem’s rapprochement with Beijing. Israel’s military relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) had been aborted by the mid-1990s, even though attempts have been made to resume defense links. Since his death in 1975—one day after Chiang Kai-shek’s—and definitely before, Ernst Bergmann has been considered, implicitly but lately explicitly, a prominent player in Taiwan’s defense modernization and one of the forefathers of its nuclear program.

CIRS Newsletter No.20

CIRS Newsletter 20 was published in Spring 2016. This newsletter highlights all CIRS activities over the 2015-2016 period, including the latest research initiatives, publications, faculty research, as well as conference participation and exhibitions.

Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings Summary Report

The CIRS research initiative on media and politics in the aftermath of the Arab revolts has resulted in an edited volume, Bullets and Bulletins: Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016), offering critical examination into the profound sociopolitical and media transitions that have occurred within Arab states during and in the wake of the uprisings. It explores the intricate ways in which politics and media intersect in their representation and negotiation of political resistance and cultural production in a shifting Arab world. By analyzing different aspects of Arab mediascapes—transformations in the culture of Arab journalism, the construction of media cities, the rise of religious media, and the attention to subcultures and public diplomacy—this volume provides insights into the changing political dynamics of the region, and maps out the rearticulation of power relations between state and society. The chapters adopt a multidisciplinary approach in their analyses of the changing dynamics of media and politics before, during, and in the aftermath of the revolts.

Bengal's Beleaguered Borders

The Asia Papers no.1
Robert G. Wirsing, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, and Samir Kumar Das, University of Calcutta, India

This paper assesses five major transboundary-related problems currently troubling the Bengal region and bedeviling, in particular, the relationship between Bangladesh and India. These problems relate to settlement of the land boundary (enclaves and adverse possessions), facilitation of transboundary transit (road, rail, and waterway), curbing of transboundary illicit activity (smuggling, human trafficking, and covert support for radical Islamist groups and separatist militants), sharing of transboundary river resources, and control of transboundary migration. The paper’s focus is on the potential and capacity of the political entities sharing the Bengal region to identify, agree upon, and implement effective and sustainable solutions to these problems. It argues that such solutions, to be sustainable, would have to prioritize cross-border cooperation and mutual benefit—objectives that have thus far neither been aggressively nor consistently pursued in this region. The authors observe that the transboundary problems troubling the Bengal region vary substantially in the extent of their intractability and that some of them will persist far into the future. Nevertheless, they conclude that the present scale as well as the severity of the consequences of these problems are not permanent fixtures and will vary enormously with the political will, perseverance, and skill of those charged with determining the political destiny of this hugely important region.

The Impossibility of Palestine

Kamrava, Mehran. The Impossibility of Palestine. New Haven CT, Yale University Press, 2016. 

The “two-state solution” is the official policy of Israel, the United States, the United Nations, and the Palestinian Authority alike. However, international relations scholar Mehran Kamrava argues that Israel’s “state-building” process has never risen above the level of municipal governance, and its goal has never been Palestinian independence. He explains that a coherent Palestinian state has already been rendered an impossibility, and to move forward, Palestine must redefine its present predicament and future aspirations. Based on detailed fieldwork, exhaustive scholarship, and an in-depth examination of historical sources, this controversial work will be widely read and debated by all sides. Read more from Yale University Press. 

Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East.

Kamrava, Mehran, ed. Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East. New York: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016.

The 2011 Arab uprisings precipitated the relatively quick collapse of a number of Middle Eastern states once perceived as invincible. The Tunisian and Egyptian states succumbed to revolutionary upheavals early on, followed by that of Qadhafi’s Libya. Yemen’s President Saleh was also eventually forced to give up power. A bloody civil war continues to rage in Syria. These uprisings highlighted weaknesses in the capacity and legitimacy of states across the Arab Middle East. This book provides a comprehensive study of state weakness—or of ‘weak states’—across the Greater Middle East. Read more from Oxford University Press.

الدول الضـعـيـفـة في الشـرق األوسـط الكـبـيـر تقرير موجز

The Arabic CIRS Summary Report no. 11 titled, Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East, details the findings of the larger CIRS research initiative on "Weak States in the Greater Middle East." It begins with a critical analysis of current definitions and terminology of weak and fragile states, scrutinizing the political implications of the prevailing discourse within the setting of the broader Middle East. The research also examines the domestic, regional, and global causes and consequences for the Middle East of the “fragility” of states stretching from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east to Libya in the west. Employing multidisciplinary perspectives, we study the causes and implications of conceptual notions of state fragility across the region in relation to areas such as politics and security, economics and natural resources, intra- and inter-state relations, migration and population movements, and the broader regional and global political economies.