CIRS Research Summary Report no. 25 (2020)

This CIRS Research Summary Report highlights four recently completed research initiatives. It provides an overview of the aims and objectives of each project and contains abstracts of the final chapters published in the following edited volumes: Sites of Pluralism: Community Politics in the Middle East (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2019); Sport, Politics, and Society in the Middle East (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2019); The “Resource Curse” in the Persian Gulf (Routledge 2019); and Unfulfilled Aspirations: Middle Power Politics in the Middle East (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2020).


"'لعنة الموارد' في الخليج،" تقرير مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة العربي الموجز رقم ٢٨ (الدوحة، قطر: مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة، ٢٠٢٠).

يشهد قطاع الهيدروكربونات، المعروف تاريخياً بدوراته المتكررة من ارتفاع الأسعار وانخفاضها، ومنذ العام 2014، واحدة من أقسى حالات الهبوط التي لم نشهدها منذ تسعينات القرن الماضي. وتكتسي تداعيات هذا التراجع على الاقتصاديات المعتمدة على النفط والغاز في دول الخليج العربي بأهمّية خا ّصة. ولهذا التأثير تداعيات ليس فقط من حيث الأوضاع الاقتصادية المتغّيرة جّراء انخفاضا لإيرادات وتقلص الميزانيات الوطنية،ولكن أيضاً من حيث احتمال أن يؤدي إلى اضطراب اجتماعي وسياسي. لقد رأى الباحثون منذ فترة طويلة أن الاستقرار الدائم واستمرار الحكم السلطوي في أنحاء الخليج هو على الأرجح ً نتيجة ً للجهود التي تبذلها دول المنطقة لضمان الرفاه المادي والمالي لمواطنيها. بيد أ ّن هذه الظروف إذا شهدت تغيرا جذريا ولم تتمكن الدول من تقديم برامج اجتماعية واسعة، ودفع رواتب ضخمة للقطاع العام، وتوفير مزايا وإعانات واسعة النطاق، فقد يصبح سكان دول الخليج أقل امتثالاً.

SOI Scientific Production

To cite this publication: Ayman Shabana, guest ed., "Science and Scientific Production in the Middle East," CIRS Special Issue of Sociology of Islam 8, no. 2 (2020).

Discussions concerning science and scientific production in the Middle East often trigger a comparison between a glorious past and a gloomy present. The past witnessed a thriving scientific culture within the Islamic civilization. In the present, however, science is usually entangled in a series of debates, ranging from the normative dimensions of modern science to the larger social and political circumstances shaping current realities, particularly in light of an incessant juxtaposition, competition or rivalry with an imagined West.

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To cite this publication: Marcus Dubois King, ed., Water and Conflict in the Middle East (London: Hurst, 2020).

This volume explores the role of water in the Middle East’s current economic, political and environmental transformations, which are set to continue in the near future. In addition to examining water conflict from within the domestic contexts of Iraq, Yemen and Syria—all experiencing high levels of instability today—the contributors shed further light on how conflict over water resources has influenced political relations in the region. They interrogate how competition over water resources may precipitate or affect war in the Middle East, and assess whether or how resource vulnerability impacts fragile states and societies in the region and beyond. Read more from Hurst.

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To cite this publication: Mehran Kamrava, ed., Routledge Handbook of Persian Gulf Politics (London: Routledge, 2020)

This volume begins its examination of Ottoman rule in the Arabian Peninsula, exploring other dimensions of the region’s history up until and after independence in 1970. Featuring scholars from a range of disciplines, the book demonstrates how the Persian Gulf’s current, complex politics is a product of interwoven dynamics rooted in historical developments and memories, profound social, cultural, and economic changes underway since the 1980s and the 1990s, and inter-state and international relations among both regional actors and between them and the rest of the world. Examining the Persian Gulf’s increasing importance in regional politics, diplomacy, economics, and security issues, the volume is a valuable resource for scholars, students, and policymakers interested in political science, history, Gulf studies, and the Middle East. Read more from Routledge.

Resource curse

To cite this publication: Mehran Kamrava, ed., The "Resource Curse" in the Persian Gulf (London: Routledge, 2019).

The book explores how across the Arabian Peninsula, oil wealth began accruing to the state at a particular juncture in the state-building process, when traditional, largely informal patterns of shaikhly rule were relatively well established, but the formal institutional apparatuses of the state were not yet fully formed. The chapters show that oil wealth had a direct impact on subsequent developments in these two complementary areas. Contributors discuss how on one hand, the distribution of petrodollars enabled political elites to solidify existing patterns of rule through deepening clientelist practices and by establishing new, dependent clients; and how on the other, rent revenues gave state leaders the opportunity to establish and shape institutions in ways that solidified their political control. Read more from Routledge.

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Resource Curse

To cite this publication: Mehran Kamrava, guest ed., "The 'Resource Curse' in the Persian Gulf," CIRS Special Issue of Journal of Arabian Studies 8.S1 (September 2018).

The debate on whether resource abundance in general, and resource dependence in particular, is a curse or a blessing is an old one. Paradoxically, despite a proliferation of studies on rentierism in the last two decades or so, the specific notion of a “resource curse” has seldom been studied systematically in relation to the Persian Gulf. The articles in this special issue address this gap, looking specifically at the historical causes and genesis of the phenomenon and its consequences in a variety of areas, including human development, infrastructural growth, clientelism, state-building and institutional evolution, and societal and gender relations.

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Environmental Politics in the Middle East

To cite this publication: Harry Verhoeven, ed., Environmental Politics in the Middle East (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2018).

This book investigates how ecology and politics meet in the Middle East and how those interactions connect to the global political economy. Through region-wide analyses and case studies from the Arabian Peninsula, the Gulf of Aden, the Levant and North Africa, the volume highlights the intimate connections of environmental activism, energy infrastructure and illicit commodity trading with the political economies of Central Asia, the Horn of Africa and the Indian subcontinent. The book’s nine chapters analyse how the exploitation and representation of the environment have shaped the history of the region—and determined its place in global politics. It argues that how the ecological is understood, instrumentalised and intervened upon is the product of political struggle: deconstructing ideas and practices of environmental change means unravelling claims of authority and legitimacy. This is particularly important in a region frequently seen through the prism of environmental determinism, where ruling elites have imposed authoritarian control as the corollary of ‘environmental crisis’. This unique and urgent collection will question much of what we think we know about this pressing issue. Read more at Oxford University Press.

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environmental politics

To cite this publication: "Environmental Politics in the Middle East," CIRS Summary Report no. 24 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2018).

This report provides a summary of the "Environmental Politics in the Middle East" research initiative, which explores the geopolitics of natural resources in the Middle East in an attempt to expand the focus to include the region’s many natural resources other than natural gas, such as land, air, water, and food. Some of the issues under investigation include a focus on water scarcity, which is a global issue but one that is particularly acute in the Middle East; its impacts are examined through a case study on Yemen. Food security is studied in the case of Syria, which before the civil war began, in 2011, was one of the region’s notable food exporters. Aside from acute food shortages within Syria, the conflict has had ripple effects on the region and has led to rising food prices in neighboring states, such as Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq.

Environmental politics

"السياسات البيئية في الشرق الأوسط"، تقرير مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة العربي الموجز رقم ٢٤ (الدوحة، قطر: مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة، ٢٠١٩).

يتناول هذا المشروع متعدد التخصصات مجموعة واسعة من المتغيرات السياسية واالقتصادية واالجتماعية والجغرافية. ُ ويشكل التاريخ ُ البيئي، الحقل ّ المعرفي الناشئ الذي لم يطب ً ق كما يجب على منطقة الشرق األوسط، وسيلة للتحقيق يمكن من خاللها استكشاف تأثير بيئة المنطقة على شعوبها ودولها واقتصاداتها على األمد الطويل. وتتدارس الموضوعات األخرى المدرجة في البحث عالقات اإلنسان باألرض، ودراسات حالة قطرية متعلقة بالرعوية المعاصرة؛ وتأثير الموارد الطبيعية على ّ آليات تشكيل الدولة، والعالقة بين الموارد الطبيعية على التنوع االقتصادي، وقضايا أخرى عديدة ذات صلة. وتتناول المبادرة البحثية مخاوف أوسع نطاقاً حول استنزاف الموارد الطبيعية في جميع أنحاء الكوكب، وتركز على البيئة والنشاط البيئي في الشرق األوسط، وهو موضوع لم يحظ بدراسة كافية.