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  1. Adaptation Strategies of Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 26 [Download]

    Title: Adaptation Strategies of Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 26
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Long repressed, banned, and exiled, many Islamist movements and parties across the Middle East and North Africa witnessed a moment of electoral success after the 2011 uprisings. Since then, their fates have varied widely. Some have made significant compromises to stay in power, others have ostensibly separated their religious and political efforts, while others have been repressed more brutally than before or have fragmented beyond recognition. What accounts for these actors’ different adaptation strategies and divergent outcomes? Earlier this year, the Project on Middle East Political Science brought together a dozen top scholars for our 4th Annual workshop on Islamist politics to address these questions. Their excellent essays are available individually on the POMEPS website and collectively as POMEPS Studies 26, available now as a free PDF. Many scholars are pushing to move beyond the traditional framing of Islamist movements. Khalil al-Anani challenges the approach that treats Islamist groups as collective entities, and discusses how personal experience of repression can influence individual members in contradicting ways. Likewise, Jillian Schwedler describes how the debate around inclusion (and whether it makes actors more moderate) is now moot as leaders increasingly move toward repression and away from inclusion. Elizabeth R. Nugent, meanwhile, challenges scholars’ tendency to focus on the uniqueness of Islamist groups and encourages future research to compare similar organization operating in moments of political opportunity to help normalize the study of Islamist politics. Eva Wegner uses innovative survey data analysis to rethink the common assumption that voters for Islamist parties are simply registering a protest vote, finding that ideology does, in fact, matter to many voters. Lindsay J. Benstead looks at the effect of the “Islamic mandate effect” on women’s representation, where the level of freedom or regime control influences a party’s ability to deliver on its promises of symbolic and service representation. In Islamic State controlled areas, Mara Revkin and Ariel I. Ahram look at the tenuous social contract in civil war contexts and how civilians – though they may not actually support that paradigm – sometimes use its institutions to speak up and voice criticism. Several authors reveal the careful balancing act that Islamists must maintain to stay in power. Steven Brooke delves into the complicated relationship between Islamist movements’ socio-religious activism and political engagement and attempts – some more successful than others – to separate the two. Quinn Mecham presents the unique case of Morocco’s PJD party, which acts simultaneously a voice of opposition and of the government. Monica Marks examines the Tunisia’s Ennahda highly contested compromise and contention. Nathan J. Brown describes the state’s messy involvement with Islam and its, often inelegant, attempts to craft and control religious messages through its bureaucracy. Annelle Sheline, looks at how regimes have wielded the rhetoric of “moderate Islam” to justify repression of Islamist opponents and seek out aid and support from Western governments. In a study of the Islah party in Yemen, Stacey Philbrick Yadav highlights the internal fracturing of the diverse party and questions western governments’ continued reliance on it. Marc Lynch recognizes the difference between U.S. policy makers who readily “lump” all Islamists into one category and those who more carefully distinguish and operationalize differences among groups. Is the latter necessarily less dangerous? Sharing insightful new research and posing key questions for future scholarship, POMEPS Studies 26 provides an excellent primer into the diverse adaptation strategies of Islamist actors in the Middle East and North Africa.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Islam, Arab Spring
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  2. Refugees and Migration Movements in the Middle East, POMEPS Studies 25 [Download]

    Title: Refugees and Migration Movements in the Middle East, POMEPS Studies 25
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: The Middle East has experienced a dramatic flood of refugees and forced migration over the last fifteen years. The UN High Commission on Refugees reports more than 16 million refugees and 60 million displaced persons around the world today, including asylum seekers and the internally displaced. The wars in Syria and Iraq have produced the greatest share of the Middle East’s refugees in recent years, but many more have fled wars and failed states in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Neighboring states have faced severe challenges in absorbing millions of refugees, while North African states and Turkey have emerged as key transit hubs for refugee flows into Europe. To examine the situation of current refugees and exiles in and from the region, the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Southern California with support from its Center for International Studies convened a workshop in February 2017 bringing together a dozen scholars from multiple disciplines. These scholars represent a new wave of scholars conducting original field research from refugee camps and communities in the Middle East, primarily in states bordering Syria and Iraq. Their research demonstrates the transformative impact on every aspect of politics, economies, societies and states of these massive forced population movements, both within and across borders.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Refugees, Forced migration
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  3. Politics, Governance, and Reconstruction in Yemen, POMEPS Studies 29 [Download]

    Title: Politics, Governance, and Reconstruction in Yemen, POMEPS Studies 29
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Yemen’s war has become one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes. The preventable consequences of the war have been well-documented and the military conflict is now at a stalemate. For Yemenis, 2018 promises a sustained downward spiral. The war and humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen has received relatively little analytical or scholarly attention compared to the conflicts elsewhere in the region, such as Syria and Iraq. Both the Houthis and the Saudi-UAE coalition tightly control access for journalists and researchers, making up-to-date, on the ground research difficult. Media coverage is dominated by propaganda, reinforcing prevailing narratives of either Iranian encroachment or Saudi adventurism. These conditions have not been conducive to sustained, rigorous, empirically and theoretically informed analysis of Yemen. How have political coalitions and movements adapted to more than two years of war and economic devastation? How does governance actually work under the Houthis, the coalition, and in other areas of the country? How has the intervention changed the prospects of the southern secessionist movement? What prospects exist for a political agreement which might end the war? On November 10, the Project on Middle East Political Science convened a workshop on these questions with participants from Yemen, Europe, and the United States. The invited scholars and analysts all have longstanding research ties to the country, and most have been able to carry out very recent research inside the country. It is worth noting that assembling the workshop proved exceptionally challenging. The highly polarized political situation in Yemen extends to the analytical community, making publishing analysis a potential problem for Yemenis who live – or aspire to return – to Yemen. More directly, changing American travel regulations ultimately deterred numerous invited participants from attempting to reach Washington D.C., including several Yemeni scholars and several European scholars with deep experience in the region. While some participated virtually, the loss of a number of critically important Yemeni and European scholars from the workshop tangibly represents the broader cost to academia of these travel restrictions. Despite these obstacles, the workshop brought together a remarkable group of American, European, and Yemeni scholars. Their papers and workshop discussions offered insightful analysis into the central actors, alliances, and war dynamics, and how these are likely to shape whatever future agreement may arise in Yemen. This collection offers no clear path forward for policymakers. But it does draw on the depth of knowledge and detailed research conducted by an interdisciplinary group of scholars who have committed themselves to the study of Yemen and who doubtless hope that this research can help to inform policies that promote a peaceful resolution to this devastating war and an inclusive and sustainable process of rebuilding.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, POMEPS Studies, Yemen
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  4. New Challenges to Public and Policy Engagement, POMEPS Studies 24 [Download]

    Title: New Challenges to Public and Policy Engagement, POMEPS Studies 24
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Engaging and influencing public policy debates on areas of their expertise is a core part of the mission of academics. The last decade has in many ways been the golden age of academic policy engagement. Social media, the proliferation of online publishing platforms, and a generational change in disciplinary norms and practices has unleashed an impressive wave of writing by academics aimed at an informed public sphere. President Donald Trump’s administration poses a sharp challenge to this model of policy engagement on the Middle East. Trump himself has shown little interest in policy issues, and his White House is stocked with individuals whose careers and rhetoric speak to a fundamental disrespect for academic expertise. Cornerstone policies such as the executive orders restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries demonstrate a profound disregard for academic arguments or data-driven analysis. The White House seems to prefer right wing media outlets as a source of information to America’s own professional intelligence agencies, to say nothing of outside academics. Is it still possible to effectively engage with public policy debates in such an environment? The answer largely depends on the conception of the purpose and process of policy engagement. There continue to be ample opportunities to support and engage with the residual bastions of professional policymakers within the federal bureaucracy. The need to provide rational, reasoned, fact-based analysis to the broader public sphere has taken on profound urgency. And rapidly evolving social movements and civil society initiatives offer ways for academics to engage well beyond traditional policy environments. This public engagement includes working across diverse communities and engaging with the many new social movements and civil society initiatives working on issues relevant to Middle East Studies. The response to Trump’s January 27 executive order on immigration offers a powerful model for such effective action. Academic analysis played a critical role in supporting the social movements and judicial action that forced Trump to back away from the initial order. They worked within their universities to help administrations craft responses, within professional associations such as the Middle East Studies Association, and with civil society organizations coordinating the response. Academic public engagement at this social level should be sustained and expanded. This POMEPS Studies collection brings together analysis of these new challenges facing Middle East political science as an open access PDF. We hope that this special edition helps to inform a new era of academic engagement in the public realm.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Public policy, Policy engagement
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  5. New Analysis of Shia Politics, POMEPS Studies 28 [Download]

    Title: New Analysis of Shia Politics, POMEPS Studies 28
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: The study of Islamist movements has often implicitly meant the study of Sunni Islamist movements. An enormous amount of political science scholarship has dissected the ideology, organization, and political strategy of Sunni Islamist movements. However these academic communities that study Sunni Islamism often proceed without any interaction with the academic communities that study Iran or Shi’a politics in Arab countries. Studies of Iran and of Shi’a movements similarly often proceed in isolation from the literature on the Arab world or Sunni Islamist movements. This is unfortunate, because Sunni and Shi’a Islamist political dynamics engage many similar theoretical or intellectual issues and could offer each other critically important comparative perspective. Therefore, on October 13, 2017, POMEPS convened an interdisciplinary workshop of scholars of Shi’a politics to discuss these questions and to probe the similarities and differences between the two academic communities. We are delighted to publish this collection of essays resulting from that workshop. The essays range widely, both thematically and geographically, and together offer a deeply informed and often surprising portrait of political changes across very different contexts. They also reveal the profound methodological and intellectual divides between the academic communities studying Sunni and Shi’a Islamism.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, International relations, Political science, POMEPS Studies, Islam, Islamist, Shi'a, Gulf
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  6. New Islamic Media, POMEPS Studies 23 [Download]

    Title: New Islamic Media, POMEPS Studies 23
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: In years past, Islamist televangelists like Amr Khaled, Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Tareq Suwaidan seemed like the future of Arab media. Advancing a form of “soft Islam” focused on personal betterment and religiosity, these preachers were seen by some as a potential counterweight to extremist voices and by others as a sinister leading edge of radicalization. The contretemps between Amr Khaled and Yusuf al-Qaradawi over the Danish Cartoons Crisis of 2006 inspired numerous academic articles (and several of my own blog posts). Today, such figures have become far more marginalized in both political life and in academic research. But as this new collection of essays published by the Project on Middle East Political Science makes clear, they have not disappeared. Their emergence was rooted in the liberalization of media, the appeal of multimedia celebrity, the multiple social movements keen to promote religiosity, and the demands of the marketplace.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Islamic media
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  7. Local Politics and Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 27 [Download]

    Title: Local Politics and Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 27
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Scholars and policymakers have increasingly recognized that Islamist movements and actors vary widely – from domestically oriented, quietist movements engaging in democratic systems to revolutionary, armed movements aiming to upend the nation-state system. Yet little has been done to understand how the nature of individual movements, and their success, often differs substantially at the subnational level. Some communities are much more likely to support different Islamist actors than others, and even the same movement may have very different strategies in some localities than others. Many questions remain regarding if and how Islamist movements and actors look or act differently in rural areas and secondary cities as they do in the capitals. To what extent do the strategies and performance of Islamists vary subnationally? And what explains this variation? To address this gap in understanding, the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Program on Governance and Local Development at the University of Gothenburg convened a workshop in June 2017. In doing so, it extends research on Islamist movements ,which has primarily examined the strategies of movement leaders, the relationship between Islamist movements and social services, the level support for these movements, and the performance of parliamentarian at the national level Yet, as political science as a discipline has increasingly recognized, much of the actual experience of politics takes place outside capital cities and major urban areas and that subnational variation is particularly important. The goal of the workshop was thus to take stock of the knowledge that exists on local Islam, and to point to new avenues of research.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, POMEPS Studies, Islam, Islamism, Local politics
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  8. Transnational Diffusion and Cooperation in the Middle East, POMEPS Studies 21 [Download]

    Title: Transnational Diffusion and Cooperation in the Middle East, POMEPS Studies 21
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: The Arab world never seemed more unified than during the incandescent days of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Tunisia’s revolution clearly and powerfully inspired Arabs everywhere to take to the streets. Egypt’s January 25 uprising that led to the removal of Hosni Mubarak taught Arab citizens and leaders alike that victory by protestors could succeed. The subsequent wave of protests involved remarkable synergies that could not plausibly be explained without reference to transnational diffusion. Bahrainis, Yemenis and Jordanians alike attempted to replicate the seizure and long-term encampments in Egypt’s Tahrir Square and protestors across the Arab world chanted the same slogans and waved the same signs. But what happened in the months and years after those heady days? Did similar processes of diffusion and cross-national learning shape the post-uprisings era? Did autocratic regimes learn from one another in the same way that protestors did? In June, more than a dozen scholars came together in Hamburg, Germany for a workshop jointly organized by the Project on Middle East Political Science and the German Institute for Global Affairs. The workshop closely examined learning, diffusion and demonstration across autocratic regimes during the Arab counter-revolution. The papers for that workshop, available here as an open access PDF download, closely examine the ways in which Arab autocrats did – and did not – learn from one another. Similarities do not, in and of themselves, prove that diffusion or learning have actually taken place. As German scholars Thomas Richter and André Bank emphasize, not everything that looks like diffusion is necessarily so. Many policy responses may simply be obvious tactics available to any reasonably competent political actor, not innovations that had to be learned. Authoritarian regimes hardly needed to be taught to torture or jail their own people, strip citizenship from dissidents, monitor social media, clear the streets of protestors or censor the media. The contributors to this collection go considerably further than past studies have done to show how significant learning and diffusion did take place among Arab regimes in the years following the uprisings. Demonstrating diffusion and learning requires careful attention to timing and sequence. It also requires scrutiny of the mechanisms by which ideas are transmitted, whether passively as actors observe events in the media, or actively as agents make direct efforts to spread those ideas. While direct evidence of the thinking and interactions between secretive autocrats may be hard to gather, these scholars carefully trace the timing and sequencing of these processes to show where learning and diffusion mattered. Such careful scrutiny of local conditions and the precise mechanisms of diffusion introduces healthy skepticism into the research agenda, but it does not lead to the conclusion that no diffusion occurred. Today’s Arab world is profoundly shaped by forces promoting transnational interactions, from pervasive social media and satellite television to weakening states, refugee flows, cross-border military interventions. The authors in POMEPS Studies 21 Transnational Diffusion and Cooperation in the Middle East have decisively advanced our understanding of these processes of diffusion and learning in regional politics.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, Political Science, International Relations, POMEPS Studies, Arab Uprisings
    Date Uploaded: 08/08/2017
  9. Contemporary Turkish Politics, POMEPS Studies 22 [Download]

    Title: Contemporary Turkish Politics, POMEPS Studies 22
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Turkey has been in the news repeatedly in 2016, from the coup attempt of July to the subsequent government purges to its renewed fight against the PKK and crackdown on Kurdish populations. However surprising these developments may appear for an outside observer, they are deeply rooted in the history of the Turkish state, the evolution of the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP), and the complex identity politics of the region. In October, more than a dozen scholars of Turkish politics gathered at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston for a Project on Middle East Political Science workshop to delve into some of these underlying themes. The memos produced for that workshop have been published individually on the POMEPS website and the full collection is now available as a free download here. The authors in this collection provide rich context, new data, and sharp analysis of the nuanced challenges facing the country and the region today. The relationship between state and religion is one of the key issues to understand Turkish politics. Sebnem Gumuscu describes how competition between two main Islamist organizations evolved and influenced the government organization, somewhat paradoxically diminishing the checks and balances of the secular state that expedited the government’s ability to purge. Kristin Fabbe examines the direct and indirect ways religion and government interact and asks who might fill the bureaucratic void left by the Gülen movement. The religion-state nexus not only influences domestic affairs in crucial ways but its effects also shape Turkey’s stature within the regional. Once heralded as a shining beacon of democracy in the region, Turkey is now sinking on many indices of democracy and freedom. Ekrem Karakoc illustrates the fluctuating popularity of the Turkish model since the Arab uprisings in other MENA countries. Unsurprisingly, Islamist parties tended to look up to the success of the AKP more than other groups. Yet the often-referenced secular/ Islamist dichotomy fails to get at the complexities of these movements and their relationships with power. The malleable use of identity is a recurring theme in this collection. Senem Aslan paints a fascinating picture of the diverse ways in which AKP leaders use public displays of crying. In a region where machismo and tough leadership dominate political discourse, this invoking of emotion and victimhood serves a unique purpose for a party that has been in power now for more than a dozen years. Kimberly Guiler also takes up this question of victimhood, examining the use of conspiracy theories in the wake of the July 2016 coup as the AKP attempted to centralize power and promote national unity. Esen Kirdiş shows how shifts in the AKP government’s identity can be measured by the shifts in its foreign policy, from moderate Western-facing at the beginning of its tenure in office, to increasingly more Islam and identity focused as its support and base grew and now to a nationalist orientation as its support is wavering. Lisel Hintz describes how the Republic Nationalist orientation of previous governments gave way to the Ottoman-inspired and Islam-focused inclusive politics that downplayed the importance of ethnicity, opening an all too brief window of opportunity for addressing the Kurdish question. In their analysis of female political representation, Abdullah Aydogan, Melissa Marschall, and Marwa Shalaby explore the effects of gender roles and norms on women’s nomination and winning at the local and national level offices. Counterintuitively, they find that national offices are more open to female representation than local levels. Expanding on the Kurdish question, Sabri Çiftçi illustrates the unique challenges to ethnic descriptive representation of Kurds in Turkey, especially in the context of conflict. The lack of demographic data remains a main challenge, but Avital Livny fills in the missing information gap with some innovative new survey data to measure Kurdish politicization. Şener Aktürk presents and analyzes several often-cited hypotheses about why the PKK ended its ceasefire in 2015, suggesting that foreign policy may have played a larger role than many believe. During this period of renewed war, Aysegul Aydin and Cem Emrence illustrate how curfews have been used not only as a means of civilian control but also selectively to punish areas that have voted for the Kurdish party and to entice voters who live in more competitive electoral districts. Güneş Murat Tezcür presents his unique dataset of Turkish foreign fighters leaving the country to join either nationalist struggles of Kurds or the religious call of ummah and caliphate, showing how these individuals are similar and very different and what this means for Turkish society. Useful for students, academics, and policy-makers alike, the pieces in POMEPS Studies 22 Contemporary Turkish Politics, offer a uniquely accessible yet nuanced analysis of a country in flux. Download it today.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, Political Science, International Relations, Turkey, POMEPS Studies
    Date Uploaded: 07/27/2017
  10. Rethinking Nation and Nationalism, POMEPS Studies 14 [Download]

    Title: Rethinking Nation and Nationalism, POMEPS Studies 14
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: You couldn’t swing a dead imperialist last summer without hitting an essay about the unraveling of the Sykes-Picot system in the Middle East. The bloody disintegration of Iraq and Syria seemed to have finally ripped apart the borders created by the British and French governments in the aftermath of World War I (even if the borders in question were actually forged at San Remo). It wasn’t just the rise of the so-called Islamic State spanning and erasing the Syrian-Iraqi border. The unprecedented, synchronized popular mobilization across borders during the early Arab uprisings of 2011 gave potent form to the ideals of transnational Arab political community supplanting the limits of nation-states. As the uprisings turned darker and most of the democratic transitions failed, new challengers to nation-states in the Middle East rose to the forefront: the Islamic State; the growing de facto independence of Kurds across Iraq and Syria, with ramifications extending into Turkey and Iran; the rise of sub-regional identities carried by heavily armed militias in failing states such as Yemen and Libya; unprecedented forced displacement moving millions of people within and across borders; and raging sectarianism dividing Sunnis and Shiites. These developments have not had a singular effect on national identities, however. While some states have collapsed, creating space for new subnational identities to challenge national cohesion, most have retrenched into a fiercer form of authoritarianism. Egypt’s military coup, for instance, has been sustained by the heavy-handed promotion of extreme nationalism. Many states in the Gulf have drawn upon sectarianism to consolidate support for their regimes in ways that could have an enduring impact on popular conceptions of national identity. Battles over the proper role of Islam in public life have reshaped political discourse from Egypt and Turkey (see Senem Aslan and Kristin Fabbe in this collection) and Tunisia (Elizabeth Young). Kurds imagine new political possibilities in very different contexts, as Nicole Watts demonstrates from Halabja and Serhun Al demonstrates through the historical experience of Turkey and Iraq. In February, therefore, I convened a Project on Middle East Political Science symposium with Laurie A. Brand at the University of Southern California to examine national identity in the face of such challenges. Their essays have now been released as Rethinking Nation and Nationalism, a special issue of POMEPS Studies, available for free download here. Continue reading on The Monkey Cage.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, Political Science, International Relations, Nationalism, POMEPS Studies
    Date Uploaded: 07/27/2017