The Shi’i clergy and perceived opportunity structures: political activism in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon
During the last four decades, the Middle East has witnessed the rise of Shi’i political activism, through the direct engagement of clerical elites in socio-political arenas. With the re-emergence of activism on the part of Shi’i mujtahids and its impact on the ascent of Shi’i community in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, scholars have defined a distinct strategic difference between what they characterise as ‘quietist’ and ‘activist’ Shi’i mujtahids.
Special issue of Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (19/1, April, 2019) on the ‘Nexus between Sectarianism and Regime Formation in a New Middle East’.
Edited by Morten Valbjørn and Raymond Hinnebusch
This special issue of Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism (vol 19,1) explores the nexus between sectarianism and regime formation in a ‘new Middle East.’
More specifically, it examines a) how sectarianism impacts on the trajectories of different types of regime over time (with the main – but not exclusive – focus being on their location along the authoritarian/democratic continuum), b) whether different kinds of regime dilute or inflame sectarian identities and animosities, c) whether the study of regime formation in a sectarian context requires distinct analytical tools, or whether we can stick to the already existing approaches from the (post)democratization tradition.
All articles of the special issues examine how sectarianism and regime formation/type might be inter-related, though in different ways: they cover different regime types (authoritarian republics, monarchies, and semi-democracies), both Shia- and Sunni-majority countries, countries with and without a Shia/Sunni schism at home, and geographical areas ranging from the Gulf to the Levant, and in addition to these intra-regional comparisons the Middle East is moreover compared with other regions. The studies also differ in their methodology, ranging from a large-N study to comparative snapshots of similar dynamics in several country cases in order to test and demonstrate issues such as the relative power of sectarianism, and longitudinal case studies showing the interaction of sectarian configurations and regime change over time.
The special issue is linked to the interdisciplinary research project SWAR: Sectarianism in the Wake of the Arab Revolts at Aarhus University (www.ps.au.dk/swar).
Morten Valbjørn and Raymond Hinnebusch Exploring the Nexus between Sectarianism and Regime Formation in a New Middle East: Theoretical Points of Departure
Lasse Lykke Rørbæk Religion, Political Power, and the ‘Sectarian Surge’: Middle Eastern Identity Politics in Comparative Perspective
Raymond Hinnebusch Sectarianism and Governance in Syria
Adham Saouli Sectarianism and Political Order in Iraq and Lebanon
Courtney Freer The Symbiosis of Sectarianism, Authoritarianism, and Rentierism in the Saudi State
Hasan Hafidh and Thomas Fibiger Civic Space and Sectarianism in the Gulf States: The Dynamics of Informal Civil Society in Kuwait and Bahrain beyond State Institutions
Morten Valbjørn What’s so Sectarian about Sectarian Politics? Identity Politics and Authoritarianism in a New Middle East
(Beirut) – Emirati authorities detained eight Lebanese nationals for more than a year without charge in an unknown location, ill-treating them and denying them their due process rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Their trial, which began on February 13, 2019, continues to be marred with violations.
The spectre of sectarianism haunts the Middle East. It is blamed for chaos, conflict, and extremism. It defines what is seen as the region’s principal fault line: Sunni versus Shiite. It has the power and elegance of a grand theory that seemingly explains all.
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What factors make a community resilient to sectarianism? How can communities recover from sectarianism and associated violence? How can the international community promote resilience to sectarianism? Sectarianism has become a destructive feature of the modern Middle East.
Lebanon Dispatch BEIRUT – The Iranian cultural attaché stepped up to the microphone on a stage flanked by banners bearing the faces of Iran’s two foremost religious authorities: Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, and Ayatollah Khamenei, the current supreme leader.
Analysts have expressed scepticism about previous Bahraini allegations of Iranian and Hizballah involvement. Bahrain’s attorney general charged nearly 170 people on Tuesday with forming a Shia “terrorist organisation” named for Lebanon’s famed militant group Hizballah.
The eruption of Bahrain’s political crisis seven-and-a-half years ago marked a watershed in Manama-Washington relations. It also transformed how both Bahrain’s regime and its Shia-dominated opposition viewed the United States. For decades, Bahrain’s leadership has seen the United States as the archipelago kingdom’s offshore security guarantor and a bastion against political ambitions from regional powers.
Long satisfied to attempt to dominate pan-Arab media and battle it out with Qatar’s state-owned Al Jazeera television network, Saudi Arabia has now set its hegemonic sights on influencing the media landscape of the non-Arabic speaking greater Middle East.