"The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf," CIRS Summary Report no. 19 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2017).
Academic interest in Gulf security has continued to focus on traditional notions of zero-sum security threats emanating from Iran or Iraq, or the role of the United States. There has been limited exploration of the deeper, structural issues that threaten the region. In line with this, in the 2014-2015 academic year, CIRS launched a research initiative on “The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf.” The purpose of this project is to scrutinize the ways in which domestic security threats in the region are evolving, and how newer challenges related to human security are being reinforced by—and in some ways actually replacing—military threats emanating from regional and outside actors. This project brings together a number of distinguished scholars to examine a variety of relevant topics, which resulted in original research chapters published in an edited volume titled, The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017), edited by Kristian Coates Ulrichsen.
Troubled Waters looks at four dynamics in the Persian Gulf that have contributed to making the region one of the most volatile and tension-filled spots in the world. Mehran Kamrava identifies the four dynamics as: the neglect of human dimensions of security; the inherent instability involved in reliance on the United States and the exclusion of Iraq and Iran; the international and security policies pursued by inside and outside actors; and a suite of overlapping security dilemmas. These four factors combine and interact to generate long-term volatility and ongoing tensions within the Persian Gulf. Through insights from Kamrava’s interviews with Gulf elites into policy decisions, the consequences of security dilemmas, the priorities of local players, and the neglect of identity and religion, Troubled Waters examines the root causes of conflicts and crises that are currently unfolding in the region. As Kamrava demonstrates, each state in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar, has embarked on vigorous security-producing efforts as part of foreign policy, flooding the area with more munitions—thereby increasing insecurity and causing more mistrust in a part of the world that needs no more tension. Read more at Cornell University Press.
Osama Abi-Mershed, ed., Social Currents in North Africa: Culture and Governance after the Arab Spring (Oxford/Hurst, 2018).
Social Currents in North Africa is a multi-disciplinary analysis of the social phenomena unfolding in the Maghreb today. The contributors analyse the genealogies of contemporary North African behavioral and ideological norms, and offer insights into post-Arab Spring governance and today’s social and political trends. The book situates regional developments within broader international currents, without forgoing the distinct features of each socio-historical context. With its common historical, cultural, and socio-economic foundations, the Maghreb is a cohesive area of study that allows for greater understanding of domestic developments from both single-country and comparative perspectives. This volume refines the geo-historical unity of the Maghreb by accounting for social connections, both within the nation-state and across political boundaries and historical eras. It illustrates that non-institutional phenomena are equally formative to the ongoing project of post-colonial sovereignty, to social construction and deployments of state power, and to local outlooks on social equity, economic prospects, and cultural identity. Read more at Oxford University Press.
James Reardon-Anderson, ed.,The Red Star and the Crescent: China and the Middle East (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2018).
The Red Star and the Crescent provides an in-depth and multi-disciplinary analysis of the evolving relationship between China and the Middle East. Despite its increasing importance, very few studies have examined this dynamic, deepening, and multi-faceted nexus. James Reardon-Anderson has sought to fill this critical gap. The volume examines the ‘big picture’ of international relations, then zooms in on case studies and probes the underlying domestic factors on each side. Reardon-Anderson tackles topics as diverse as China’s security strategy in the Middle East, its military relations with the states of the region, its role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, the Uyghur question, and the significance and consequences of the Silk Road strategy. Read more at Oxford University Press.
Mohamed Zayani, ed., Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2018).
In recent years, the Middle East’s information and communication landscape has changed dramatically. Increasingly, states, businesses, and citizens are capitalising on the opportunities offered by new technologies, the fast pace of digitisation, and enhanced connectivity. These changes are far from turning Middle Eastern nations into network societies, but their impact is significant. The growing adoption of a wide variety of technologies in everyday life has given rise to complex dynamics that beg for a better understanding. Digital Middle East sheds a critical light on the continuing changes closely intertwined with the adoption of information and communication technologies in the region. Drawing on case studies from throughout the Middle East, the contributors explore how these digital transformations are playing out in the social, cultural, political, and economic spheres, exposing the various disjunctions and discordances that have marked the advent of the digital Middle East. Read more from Oxford University Press.
Suzi Mirgani, ed., Art and Cultural Production in the Gulf Cooperation Council (London: Routledge, 2018).
State-driven investments in art and cultural production in the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are an important part of the search for longer-term alternatives to the longer-term unsustainability of the hydrocarbon-based economic development model. They also are an element in the search for soft power and status, and intersect with the nation-building project. The long-term planned––and unplanned––effects of such cultural initiatives include a necessary opening up to a future of unexpected and often undesired cultural encounters, whether in the classroom, the art gallery, the sports stadium, or the labor office. As states driven by a desire to raise both their regional and international status, but needing to satisfy their domestic conservative constituencies, their greatest test will be their judicious negotiating of the conflicting sociocultural elements of an increasingly globalized world. This volume offers a comprehensive multi-disciplinary analysis of this complex arena and the state of art and cultural production in these Gulf societies, through original studies on identity formation and an emerging museology; the aesthetics of censorship; the question of authenticity; cultural projects as state-driven soft power efforts; the phenomenon of public art; and artistic engagements with migrant labor communities. Read more from Routledge.
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, ed., The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017).
The contradictory trends of the ‘post-Arab Spring’ landscape form both the backdrop to, and the focus of, this volume on the changing security dynamics of the Persian Gulf, defined as the six GCC states plus Iraq and Iran. The political and economic upheaval triggered by the uprisings of 2011, and the rapid emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in 2014, have underscored the vulnerability of regional states to an intersection of domestic pressures and external shocks. The initial phase of the uprisings has given way to a series of messy and uncertain transitions that have left societies deeply fractured and ignited violence both within and across states. The bulk of the protests, with the notable exception of Bahrain, occurred outside the Gulf region, but Persian Gulf states were at the forefront of the political, economic, and security response across the Middle East. This volume provides a timely and comparative study of how security in the Persian Gulf has evolved and adapted to the growing uncertainty of the post-2011 regional landscape. Read more at Oxford University Press.
Mehran Kamrava, ed., The Great Game in West Asia: Iran, Turkey and the South Caucasus (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017).
The Great Game in West Asia examines the strategic competition between Iran and Turkey for power and influence in the South Caucasus. These neighbouring 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 at Oxford University Press.
Chandra Lekha Sriram, ed., Transitional Justice in the Middle East (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017).
Following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, many had high hopes not only for democratisation but also for transitional justice to address the myriad abuses that had taken place in the region, both during the uprisings and for decades prior to them. Despite these hopes, most of the transitions in the region have stalled, along with the possibility of transitional justice. This volume is the first to look at this process and brings together leading experts in the fields of human rights and transitional justice, and in the history, politics and justice systems of countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Bahrain and Morocco. While these countries have diverse histories, political institutions, and experiences with accountability, most have experienced non-transition, stalled transition, or political manipulation of transitional justice measures, highlighting the limits of such mechanisms. These studies should inform reflection not only on the role of transitional justice in the region, but also on challenges to its operation more generally. Read more from Oxford University Press.
Mahmood Monshipouri, ed., Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016).
Since 1989, the internal dynamics of change in Iran, rooted in a panoply of socioeconomic, cultural, institutional, demographic, and behavioral factors, have led to a noticeable transition in both societal and governmental structures of power, as well as the way in which many Iranians have come to deal with the changing conditions of their society. This is all exacerbated by the global trend of communication and information expansion, as Iran has increasingly become the site of the burgeoning demands for women’s rights, individual freedoms, and festering tensions and conflicts over cultural politics. These realities, among other things, have rendered Iran a country of unprecedented—and at times paradoxical—changes. This book explains how and why. Read more from Oxford University Press.