Politics and Change in the Middle East: Sources of Conflict and Accomodation, Seventh Edition

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9780131401938: Politics and Change in the Middle East: Sources of Conflict and Accomodation, Seventh Edition

Politics and Change in the Middle East presents the politics of this area by discussing the economic, historical, social science, popular culture, and religious issues. It incorporates historical perspectives with contemporary material, giving readers the necessary background to make informed judgments on the politics of the region today. Comprehensive in its scope, this book covers traditional cultures of the region, the foundations of Islam, issues and events in the region from A.D. 632 to 1990, religious politics, culture, and social life, political leaders, the economic setting, and the events of 9/11/2001. For employees in corporations that deal with the region of the Middle East, where an understanding of the history and culture is necessary.

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This book has grown out of the authors' conviction that a proper understanding of present events in the Middle East requires knowledge of the cultural, social, and economic, as well as the political, background of these events. It is, more specifically, an outgrowth of the authors' attempts to develop an undergraduate course sequence aimed at such understanding. We found that, despite the abundance of excellent scholarship on the Middle East, there was a paucity of works that brought together the diverse disciplinary perspectives in a way suitable to our pedagogic aims. It is our belief that this book, with its combination of historical and contemporary materials and its integrated perspective, provides something of value that is not elsewhere available to the undergraduate student or educator.

Many profound changes have occurred since the original publication of this book. As we published our first edition in 1982, the first signs were evident of the inevitable decline of the bipolar international system, a system in which the overarching conflict between the United States and the U.S.S.R gave substance and meaning to a wide range of international interactions. Now, the U.S.S.R. no longer exists, replaced by a loose confederation of states, autonomous areas, and dependencies that is only a shadow of the old order. It must now compete for power and influence with its former allies in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Kazakhstan, as well as its old enemies in the West. It has been necessary to incorporate these new realities into our analysis of governments and politics in the Middle East. But the long-term consequences of these changes are not yet clear; they are, in fact, in the process of evolution. The new Russia is not the powerhouse that the old U.S.S.R. was reputed to be; but Russia still sees a role for itself in the Middle East. Regaining an element of its dominance in the areas of Central Asia is an emergent theme in its domestic politics—yet another example of the "domesticization of international politics and the internationalization of the domestic."

Changes in the Middle East itself have also been drastic. OPEC, for instance, was in its robust maturity as we began our initial work, a dominant player in the international energy system, capable of ostensible control of both supply and price of petroleum. Indeed it can be demonstrated that as Middle Eastern leaders "played the petroleum card" they were able to extract concessions from East and West. But by 2400, OPEC was not nearly the dominant influence it had been, despite a 1999 rally of prices engineered by OPEC. Its influence was diluted by a combination of new non-OPEC sources of petroleum, new technology squeezing new life and profits out of older fields, and modest conservation measures. The oil-rich monarchies of the Middle East are still rich, it is true; but they now live in an age of tough economic constraints in which important choices must be made, economically and politically. The cushion upon which they have relied for two decades has dramatically thinned.

If ever there was an issue or conflict considered architectonic in the Middle East, it was surely the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many regional issues and prospects were held hostage to this seemingly intractable problem. Parties directly involved in the conflict—Israel and the PLO—seemed inexorably headed in opposite directions. Even moderate Israelis seriously considered the merits of "transfer," a euphemism for the coercive expulsion of all Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank. Many Palestinians committed themselves to violent confrontation with Israel, joining and working within a range of parties and groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Even the heavy-handed intervention of the United States failed to break the emotional and political deadlock between Israeli and Palestinian.

In the spring of 1993, Norway and independent international nongovernmental organizations succeeded where the combined influence of the "great powers" of the world had failed in establishing a framework for negotiating a lasting peace. The signing of the Accords negotiated at Oslo registered not just the willingness of two former adversaries to seek some future negotiated solution to their self-destructive conflict but also registered the relative decline of the superpowers and of their ability to dictate international outcomes. The peace process stalled from 1996 to 1999. Then a new administration in Israel signaled that it was ready to resume the process, this time including Syria on a separate track. That said, the series of negotiations only began a process—a process that was characterized by ambiguity, trial and error, and missed or extended deadlines. The second Palestinian uprising (Intifadah II), along with the Israeli responses, led Amnesty International to accuse both parties of crimes against humanity in a report issued in late 2002. The Oslo Accords have been formally renounced by Israel, and the Palestinian Authority edges closer to administrative inefficacy. The prospects for peace between the two antagonists seemed as remote as at any other time in their shared history.

Other system-level changes should be acknowledged as well. The on-again off-again efforts to discipline Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein introduced serious fault lines into the Middle Eastern system, pitting nominal allies against each other. The proliferation of satellite channels, new personal communication systems, and the geometric expansion of the Internet and access to it have begun to deliver on the promise of a truly global system of communication. These changes may have direct political consequences. The small but serious expatriate challenge to the Saudi royal family, for example, distributes its messages on the Internet, located in a home page originating in London. It is significant that the countries most interested in controlling the information on the Net or access to it include China, the United States, and Germany, three of the most powerful countries in the world. It is also significant that the most innovative and controversial new television outlet in the region, Al-Jazeerah TV, is sponsored by one of the smallest states in the region, the Emirate of Qatar.

Sadly, our work has been also bracketed in time by the assassination of two key Middle Eastern leaders, Anwar Sadat in Egypt in 1979 and Yitzhak Rabin in Israel in 1995. Each leader was assassinated by extremist members of his own polity, and each had personally transcended the history of his previous career in order to explore the possibilities of peace. They both succumbed to the violence engendered by a rising tide of religiously motivated political extremism, a tide evident not just in the Middle East but truly global in scale. Non-Middle Eastern referents could include the Oklahoma City bombing in the United States, the release of poison gas in the subways of Japan, the reemergent political violence in England and Ireland-and, of course, the series of terrorist attacks directed at assets of the United States, culminating in the destruction of the World Trade Center.

The good news is that the religious communities involved in systematic political violence appear to be relatively small and not representative of their religious roots. There are growing movements of moderation and tolerance in the mainstream communities of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam that now strive to offset the influence of their extremist co-religionists. It is instructive that in the aftermath of both Sadat's and Rabin's assassinations, the immediate effect was to reinforce the resolve of their successors to continue the search for peace. We have continued to incorporate discussions of religion and politics in this new edition.

These events have necessitated substantial revisions in the text. In some cases the changes amounted to a straightforward updating. In others, revisions were made so as to give a more thorough background to emerging issues. In particular, more explicit reference to the globalization process and what it seems to imply for the study of the behavior of individuals and nations, and, indeed, the very notion of area studies is sprinkled through the last half of the text. Most significantly, the book continues to be predicated on the value of using a multidisciplinary approach within a conflict and accommodation format.

We have directed our writing to an undergraduate audience not specifically acquainted with the Middle East. In addition, we have made every effort to avoid disciplinary jargon, arcane theoretical concepts, or other devices that would necessitate a sophisticated background in any of the social sciences. This is not to say that we do not introduce any special concepts or terms; but we do so only as necessary, and we do it as painlessly as possible.

One of the characteristic problems in writing about another culture involves the use of language. The words used by Arabs, Turks, or Persians to describe institutions and concepts fundamental to their civilization usually have no direct equivalent in English. We are faced with the dilemma of whether to translate them (which necessarily introduces our own cultural bias) or to use "native" terms (which places on the reader the burden of learning a new vocabulary). Compounding this problem is the more technical matter of how to transliterate Arabic or other languages into the medium of the English alphabet. Our solution has been one of compromise; we have used foreign words when there is no English equivalent or when the nearest English equivalent would be awkward or misleading. Despite our efforts to minimize the use of foreign words, the text has unavoidably made use of a number of them—especially Arabic terms. All these are explained in the text, and whenever possible the explanation accompanies the first appearance of a term, which is indicated by the use of italics. As an extra aid to the student we have also included important terms in a glossary. The terms explained in the glossary a...

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