Friday, September 19, 2014

Essay on Primary Source Use

Below is an essay assignment from my Spring 2013 "Modern Middle East" course.  It is on Hanan Kholoussy's For Better, For Worse: The Marriage Crisis That Made Modern Egypt.



HIS 344: History of the Modern Middle East
Hanan Kholoussy Essay
Due Date: March 27, 2013, Noon (hard copy)
Electronic submission through D2L Dropbox

Consider the following from among the exhortations I am developing as a history professor:

1.)    Amateurs talk about events; professionals talk about sources.
2.)    The production of primary sources is itself part of a historical process.
3.)    A key to being a good historian is to learn all you can about the people who produced your primary sources.
4.)    The best research often involves not just multiple primary sources, but multiple types of primary sources.
5.)    Culture is always both reproduced and redefined in every generation.

In this essay, you are to focus on the author’s use of primary sources more than the topic of the book.  Specifically, you are to write about how the author’s (usually general) knowledge of the people behind these sources, her use of different types of sources, and awareness that they are part of history and not just records thereof contribute to her making her points throughout her book.  This essay must be 4 pages, assuming double-spaced 12 point Times New Roman or a similar font.  Five lines over or under this limit is acceptable.

Criteria for Evaluation

1.)                Proper essay structure
2.)                Solid and/or insightful points which fulfill the assignment
3.)                Clear and effective writing, including well-explained major points with supporting details
4.)                Drawing on examples from throughout the book
5.)                Proper citation of all information in Chicago/Turabian footnotes
6.)                Proper syntax and diction with minimal typos
7.)                Reflections on primary source use inspired by but going beyond what Kholoussy did which forms part of intro or conclusion (optional)

Labels:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Keralites in the Gulf

Kerala is a state in southwestern India, the southern portion of the old Malabar coast.  It is also the leading source of Indian labor in Gulf states.  After reading that, I spent a couple of days in Qatar, and every Indian worker whom I asked was from Kerala.  To flip the perspective around, Gulf News reports that 90% of Kerala's diaspora is in the Gulf:
Some 90 per cent of Kerala’s 2.36 million-strong diaspora is in the Middle East, says a study released here on Wednesday...
The study shows that the UAE has attracted 38.7 per cent of the Kerala emigrants and retains its top position. However, its relative share has declined from 41.9 per cent in 2008.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia had increased its relative position, accommodating 25.2 per cent Malayalis.
Kuwait and Qatar are the other Gulf countries that have increased their relative share of Kerala emigrants...
He said the glamour associated with Gulf emigration was still very strong among youngsters from the southern state.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Palestinian Christians in Lebanon

Lately I have been selectively reading Julie Peteet's Landscape of Hope and Despair: Palestinian Refugee Camps.  One thing she goes into is the interaction between the Palestinian society transferred to refugee camps in Lebanon and that country's sectarian politics.  As soon as the refugees started arriving in 1948, Lebanon's dominant Maronites looked to bolster Christian numbers by offering citizenship only to Palestinian Christians.  Here is a bit of a interview with a Christian which Peteet includes:
At that time, the Israelis were pushing the Arabs of Haifa down to the port and into boats.  As my parents tell it, it was mass chaos and a number of people drowned being pushed into overcrowded boats.  My parents were able to find a taxi to take them to the border.  They went directly to Sour in south Lebanon.  We didn't know anyone there.  But what they found as soon as they got there was a bunch of Lebanese Christian men looking for Christian refugees.  They offered to give them assistance and take them to (the Beirut suburb of) Jounieh.  My parents told us that the Lebanese Christians helped us because they wanted us to increase the number of Christians in Lebanon.  So that's how my parents ended up there.
In Jounieh, my father and some of the other Palestinian Christian men tried to determine how many Palestinians were in the area because they wanted to open a school for the children.  In conjunction with UNRWA, they opened a school in the Christian camp of Dbiyyeh.  That's where the Christian Palestinians who were peasants were settled.  It was church land in the Christian area.
A pattern one sees is that, as Palestians from religiously mixed areas of northern Israel entered Lebanon, they became segregated by religion as the Christians, who again dominated Lebanon at that time, adopted the Palestinian Christians in a move interpreted as trying to use them to stave off Christian demographic decline relative to Muslims.  At first Christians and Muslims among the refugees tried to maintain their links from their home country, but over time distance and divergent experiences caused those attempts to fizzle out.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Muslims and Churches in 7th Century Syria

In Hugh Kennedy's The Great Arab Conquests, he has a bit about Muslim-Christian coexistence around worship buildings in the wake of the Arab conquests:
The clause (in the surrender agreement for Homs, Syria) about giving up a quarter of the church for use as a mosque may seem curious and perhaps improbable: after all, how could these two religions, whose followers had just been engaged in violent warfare, end up by sharing the main religious building in the town?  We are told, however, that it also happened at Damascus, where the Muslims used half of their cathedral as the first mosque.  Only at the beginning of the eighth century, sixty years after the conquest, were the Christians expelled and a purpose-built mosque constructed.  Even then, compensation was paid and the Christians made a new cathedral in the church of St. Mary, about half a kilometer east of the mosque, and this remains the cathedral of the Melkite (Greek Orthodox) community of Damascus to the present day.  Interestingly, we find archaeological confirmation of this practice from a small town in the Negev, Subeita.  Here there are two large, finely built Byzantine churches.  In the narthex or porch of one are the foundations of a small mosque.  We can tell it is a mosque because of the mihrab, the niche showing the direction of Mecca, which is clearly visible.  All this evidence suggests that, after the political defeat of the Christian forces, the two religious communities could and did coexist, if not in harmony, at least in a state of mutual tolerance.
As far as the former Byzantine territories go,  contemporary Muslim apologists are accurate to point out that there was more freedom of religion under the caliphate than under the Byzantine Empire.  Since ISIS is in the church-destroying business, though, I still have to ask:  Does "Caliph Ibrahim" think the caliphs he as a Sunni recognizes as "rightly guided" erred in their policies towards Christians?  Some of the buildings his forces have destroyed were around during this period.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Syrian Rebels Against ISIS

Hassan Hassan has a great article today about Syria's rebels in the context of the struggle against ISIS.  Here is what he says about the strictly military situation:
Significant rebel coalitions have already been formed to help in the fight against ISIS, and preparations for the zero hour seem to be in full swing. On September 10, seven groups affiliated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Free Syrian Army, and the Islamic Front, among them Kurdish and Arab fighters, announced a small yet symbolically significant coalition to fight ISIS in eastern Syria. On Monday, five sizable fighting groups in Idlib announced a merger, named al-Faylaq al-Khamis (The Fifth Legion), saying they would adhere to strict military discipline and use the Syrian revolutionary flag, which indicates a rejection of Islamist ideology. The Syrian Revolutionary Front, which was key to the expulsion of ISIS from much of the north earlier this year, also announced that it would send “convoys after convoys” to areas under ISIS control to defeat the jihadi group...
Rebel forces from the north can help fight ISIS from the ground, under air cover and intelligence and with logistical assistance, but local forces will be vital in retaking areas currently under ISIS control. Many of the fighters from Deir ez-Zor, for example, left the province to fight near Damascus after ISIS entered their areas in June. Local forces who have surrendered to ISIS have little appetite to rise up against the group unless they know that it will be too weakened to return to their areas and retaliate against them, as it did to several villages and towns in recent weeks...
Rebel forces from the north can help fight ISIS from the ground, under air cover and intelligence and with logistical assistance, but local forces will be vital in retaking areas currently under ISIS control. Many of the fighters from Deir ez-Zor, for example, left the province to fight near Damascus after ISIS entered their areas in June...
In addition, the sponsors’ effort to provide funding only to loyal groups has already produced remarkable results, primarily the weakening of the Islamic Front, which turned to little more than a brand that has no operational reality. Ahrar al-Sham, for example, had been steadily weakening even before nearly all its top leaders were killed on September 9 in an attack at one of the group’s bases in Idlib’s countryside.
Such efforts to tighten the noose around extremist groups—at least for countries like Saudi Arabia—will be part of a long-term effort to build an organic army that would be part of a future Syria. According to sources1 in the Gulf region, the need for establishing a “Sunni peshmerga” is key to the regional countries’ current strategy. There are already reports that thousands of rebel fighters will be trained in Jordan and the Gulf; Saudi Arabia has reportedly agreed to host training for the rebels inside the kingdom. This force, despite its name, is not meant to have a sectarian agenda, but it would be designed as an army that can police and protect Sunni-dominated territories in Syria and Iraq. The plan to establish “Sunni peshmerga” will exclude Islamist groups, even if they project a moderate tone. 
Is it just me, or are some of the groups whose power has dwindled(penultimate paragraph) the same ones lining up to be on our side (first paragraph)?  Either way, the U.S. is going to get used by groups hoping to be our allies against ISIS and be left in charge of territory and weapons afterwards.

Labels:

Conflict Begetting Conflict: ISIS This 9/11

I don't post about 9/11 every year, because I usually don't feel I have anything new or important to say.  This year seems to call for it, in part because of the sharp rise to prominence of al-Qaeda's former Iraq affiliate, which now claims to be the (implied one true) Islamic State, and tries to urge all Muslims to migrate to it.

I can't, however, shake my hatred of the situation, not only of the rise of ISIS, but the way conflict fuels more conflict, and necessary evils often thrive, even if they are still evil.  Al-Qaeda itself did not rise from a vacuum, but rather made organizationally incarnate an ideology developed in Afghanistan during the 1980's war, when those influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood's program of Islamic identity-based activism hooked up with those influenced by the puritanical law-centered Islam brought by volunteer fighters from Saudi Arabia.  It was then fueled by perceptions of the sanctions placed on Iraq in the aftermath of the first Persian Gulf War, perceptions engineered by Saddam Hussein manipulating the situation so that lots of innocent Iraqi suffering could be advertised.

Al-Qaeda entered Iraq with the Anglo-American invasion of 2003, and ISIS, a moniker I prefer to  "Islamic State" in solidarity with those who deny their claims, having been beaten in Iraq, gained new life from the civil war in Syria.  There, another evil dictator, Bashar al-Assad, enabled it, letting transnational salafi jihadists out of prison and avoiding taking them on directly so he could claim that al-Qaeda affiliates and fellow travelers were his major enemies.  Although President Obama has pledged to find Syrians to work with who are in neither the al-Qaeda nor the Assad camp, I am dubious that any are strong enough, and such a policy will certainly prolong a civil war that has already claimed 200,000 lives.

In other words, thirteen years after 9/11, evil is on the march.  Civilizational hatreds run wild across social media.  I suspect that if contained, ISIS in Iraq at least will collapse under its own weight.  Much human suffering would happen in the meantime, with northern Iraq's religious demography probably never being the same.  It is an open question whether this will be the crisis which makes Iraqi democracy by causing the downfall of budding strongman Nouri al-Maliki and the rise of a prime minister seemingly more committed to being a leader of all Iraqis.  Perhaps, however, there is a sort of hope in the unity with which most reject ISIS:
IS has achieved something scarcely conceivable in the Middle East by uniting the bitterest of foes in a common purpose. Such diverse actors as Europeans and Kurds, the embattled Syrian regime along with many of the rebels opposing it, Turkey, a slew of Arab states, as well as Israel and the Iraqi government itself have all clamoured for American intervention. Even Iran, though unenthusiastic about the Americans’ return to a theatre that it has worked hard to squeeze them out of, has accepted a tacit, temporary alliance with the Great Satan.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 05, 2014

Kirkuk Future Postponed

I don't remember if I said it on this blog or not, but back in June, I speculated that the biggest long-term consequence of ISIS seizing Mosul would be the Kurds seizing Kirkuk and probably pushing for statehood.  Enough has happened since then that the view is clearly wrong.  Even in Kirkuk, ISIS remains the priority:
Talk of the city's future stopped in light of events, until Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, on June 30 called for a referendum on the annexation of Kirkuk, sparking angry reactions in the Iraqi capital. Ultimately, however, Barzani's statement was also put on the back burner, after IS sparked a larger confrontation with the peshmerga on the Nineveh plains and threatened Erbil, prompting US and international military intervention.
After that, the convulsive rhetoric between Baghdad and Erbil changed. The different tone coincided with the appointment of Haider al-Abadi as prime minister-designate, and military cooperation between the peshmerga and Iraqi forces. This cooperation resulted in advances on a number of fronts, and in particular, led to taking control of the town of Amerli, south of Kirkuk, and then moving to open the Kirkuk-Baghdad highway...
Although the Turkmen prefer for Kirkuk to be an autonomous region, they too have view the picture from a different angle today with IS in the picture. According to Hussein, "The best solution is for Kirkuk to be an autonomous region. Given that Kurds comprise a majority, they would have an upper hand in the administration, alongside the Arabs and Turkmen, for at least around 10 years. Later on, the issue of its fate could be raised again. Yet currently the situation of Kirkuk is very sensitive, so we can't discuss the issue. The enemy is just 15 kilometers from the city center, and any mistake or misunderstanding would mean no Kirkuk or its fate to discuss."
None of the Kirkuk Arab politicians who spoke to Al-Monitor touched on the issue of the city's fate, the magnitude of the current crises superseding specifying a position on Article 140. Mohammed Khalil al-Jubouri, head of the Arab group in the Kirkuk Provincial Council, issued a statement Aug. 29 calling for the formation of a special force that would include the city's minorities to expel IS from Kirkuk's eastern and southern regions. "The Arab tribes of Hawija and al-Dibs confirmed their opposition to the organization [led by Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi. They formed forces to fight it, and must be aided and supported militarily and logistically," he said.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

AIDS in the Arab World

I missed this a couple of days ago, but the Arab world has a growing AIDS epidemic:
At a time when HIV rates have stabilised or declined elsewhere, the epidemic is still advancing in the Arab world, exacerbated by factors such as political unrest, conflict, poverty and lack of awareness due to social taboos...
The United Nations estimates that there were 31,000 new cases and 16,500 new deaths in 2012 alone. “Infections grew by 74 percent between 2001 and 2012 while AIDS-related deaths almost tripled,” says Dr Matta Matta, an infection specialist based at the Bellevue Hospital in Lebanon...
With the exception of Somalia and Djibouti, the epidemic is generally concentrated in vulnerable populations at higher risk, such as men-who-have-sex-with-men, female and male sex workers, and injecting drugs users...
The legal framework criminalising such activities in most Arab countries means that it is difficult to reach out to specific groups.  With the exception of Tunisia, which recognises legalised sex work, female sex workers who work clandestinely in other countries are not safeguarded by law and thus cannot force their clients to use protection, which allows for the spread of disease.
Lack of awareness, the absence of voluntary testing and of sexual education, social taboos, as well as poverty, are among the factors driving HIV in the region. “Arab governments and societies deny the epidemic and the absence of voluntary testing means that for every infected person we have ten others that we do not know about,” stresses Moalla.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Princess Nura bt. Abd al-Rahman

While reading Madawi al-Rasheed's recent book on women in Saudi Arabia, I learned of Princess Nura bt. Abd al-Rahman, older sister of the kingdom's founder, and her role in her brother's rise to power:
During childhood, Ibn Saud's sister was a delightful and spirited playmate, and in later life she became a source of support and courage, especially after the family's exile in Kuwait in 1891.  We are told she played an important role in pushing her brother to embark on the long journey to re-establish their family's rule over Arabia.  Later, after Riyadh fell into his hands, Nura remained supportive, managing the royal household and dealing with mundane matters that would have distracted the king from his more urgent business.  No day passed without the king visiting her in her private quarters, where she exchanged news with her and sought advice and reassurance.
More importantly, Nura agreed to be married off to a rival Saudi prince, Saud al-Kabir, an arch-enemy who in the early 1910's had taken refuge with his mother's tribe, the Ajman, to challenge the king's right to the throne.  Nura offered herself up to effect a lasting reconciliation between the competing men of her family, whose rivarly was threatening the survival of the nascent Saudi state.  After the king brought the rebellious Ajman under his control and pacified his rival relative, Nura continued to cement the relationship between the contenders and the wide tribal milieu in which their competition was fermenting.  Placing Nura in the intimate confines of Saud al-Kabir's household was a political strategy that the princess willingly accepted for the sake of the stability of her brother's domain.  She used contacts with the Ajman tribe through her husband's affines to contribute to the pacification of this rebellious tribe and their chiefs.  She served as a messenger between the king and the women of the tribe, especially the mother of their chief, Dhaydan ibn Hithlayn.
Princess Nura (also Nora, Nourah bt. Abdurrahman) also played a role as diplomatic hostess for the wives of visiting dignitaries.  Riyadh's first telephone line was a direct connection between her house and the king's.  She died in 1950, and Saudi Arabia's official historical memory holds her up as a model of what women, especially royal women, should strive to be: pious, self-sacrificing, trustworthy, and wise.  Today Princess Nourah University in Riyadh is named for her.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Christians for Hizbullah

Hizbullah is trying to train brigades including those of all Lebanon's religions for the fight against ISIS, and has had some success at recruiting Christians:
The sources close to Hezbollah told Al-Monitor that nearly two years ago Hezbollah opened training camps in the area outside the city of Baalbek in the Bekaa, close to the Syrian border, to train youth from different denominations in preparation to face radicals, and although the highest percentage of the trainees in these camps are Shiites, the recent acts by IS against the Christians of Syria and Iraq have pushed dozens of young Christians hailing from the towns adjacent to the Syrian border to join them. Today these [Christian youth] represent a form of "people’s protection committees" in their hometowns similar to those formed by Christian youth in Syrian towns...
With the growing expectation that IS is coming to Lebanon, Hezbollah’s military preparations have evolved towards promoting a plan to establish Lebanese Resistance Brigades, which gather all denominations, to face IS. Steadily, this plan has started to be accepted by youth from other denominations, particularly the Christians of the north and the Bekaa.
A Christian youth explained why he joined the local protection committee: “What has happened in Mosul has been a message to all Christians of the East that the world will not protect them and that they need to rely on themselves to defend their existence..."
The new development is succeeding by establishing it in environments where there are existential concerns among Christians in areas close to IS and Jabhat al-Nusra positions at the Syrian border. Hezbollah has actually succeeded in establishing “people’s protection committees” that consist of dozens of Christians from the northern Bekaa towns.
I'd be interested in finding out if these Christians are Maronites or Orthodox. Either way, it isn't as surprising as it might be.  Michel Aoun, a prominent Maronite, heads a Hizbullah-allied Christian political party called the Free Patriotic Movement.

Labels:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Does Gul Matter?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, newly elected as Turkey's president, has installed someone as prime minister whom he expects to dominate:
The nomination of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as Turkey's next prime minister was seen by some as confirmation of Erdogan's efforts to put a subservient prime minister into place, and freeze out AKP co-founder and Turkey's outgoing President, Abdullah Gul...
Addressing reporters at a farewell reception in Ankara last week, Gul predicted Davutoglu would become the new leader of the AKP, but also noted that he favours a parliamentary system, in the most direct contradiction to Erdogan's stated policies yet...
With solid party credentials, and having increasingly fallen foul of Erdogan in the last year, notably over a widespread corruption scandal enveloping the party, Turan said Gul would never have been the pliable prime minister Erdogan sought. "He has tried to prevent Gul form coming back and trying to take back the prime ministership. All of the founders are going to be out of parliament by next elections," Turan said.
Is Abdullah Gul really the counterweight to Erdogan I keep reading he could be?  I feel like I keep reading about issues, such as the Gezi Park protests or social media law, where people look to him to stand up to Erdogan, but he never actually does so.  Why would he be any different as prime minister?

Labels:

Monday, August 25, 2014

ISIS Financing

Interesting point from The Economist about the financing of the would-be Islamic State:
IS's mission is to create its own caliphate, but until now many of its sources of revenue have depended on its host states. In Iraq, the money that IS extorted from contractors, businesses and institutions ultimately derived from the expenditure of the central government in Baghdad. In both countries, IS’s “subjects” include thousands of employees of the respective central governments, who are still drawing their salaries from the government and carrying out their functions.
IS also depends on established infrastructure. Most of the electricity generated in Syria comes from power stations in regime-controlled areas and is transmitted through a national grid, which includes IS-held zones. These plants run on natural gas produced from fields under regime control. One exception has been an associated gas plant known as Conoco (after the American company that built it in the early 2000s) not far from Deir ez-Zor. Until recently it was operated under the protection of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's official branch in Syria, which was kicked out of Deir ez-Zor in July, and the gas was pumped to the Jandar power station, south of Homs. It is not clear whether this arrangement has continued since IS seized control.
In July IS overran the Al Shaer natural gas plant between Homs and Palmyra. On this occasion the regime had no interest in ceding control of a vital energy asset to IS, and within two weeks it was back in Mr Assad’s army’s control, albeit badly damaged. The prospect of the Mosul dam and hydroelectric plant remaining under IS control prompted a similarly robust response from the Iraqi government and its Kurdish and Western backers, who on August 18th to have recaptured it.
In other words, Syria and Iraq both have large public sectors, with lots of government employees and significant government contracts, and these, along with infrastructure, have continued to direct wealth into ISIS-controlled territory.  The blog post suggests that this is a spigot governments can turn off, forcing ISIS to spend money on their territory rather than simply extracting it.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Nazoraean Hypothesis on the Qur'anic Nasara

Most of us have undoubtedly seen the image of a gold letter "noon" on a black background, now common as a Facebook and Twitter photo showing solidarity with the expelled Christians of northern Iraq.  The significance is that prior to the expulsion of the Christians from Mosul, ISIS members spray-painted that letter on their houses to mark them.  The letter stands for "nasrani," plural "nasara," which is the Qur'an's term for "Christian."

Today Christians consider the term somewhat derogatory, and the most common Modern Standard Arabic word for Christian is "musihi," which means "person of the Messiah" the same way "Iraqi" means "person of Iraq."  However, at least for the first few centuries of Islam, "nasrani" was the only word in use, had no derogatory overtones we can detect, and was used by Christians and Muslims alike.

It has been a bit of a mystery, though, why that would become the Arabic term found in the Qur'an.  Given the significance of Syriac as a spoken and liturgical language in the Middle East on the even of Islam, we might expect instead a version of the Syriac "Kristyan."  While forms of nasrani/nasara do occur in other Middle Eastern languages, they mostly seem to follow on the Arabic usage chronologically.  The exceptions are when it is put into the mouths of persecutors in accounts apparently designed to parallel an account of persecution in Acts 24.

In an article in the 2002 Bulletin of the School for Oriental and African Studies entitled "Nasrani and hanif: studies on the religious vocabulary of Christianity ans Islam," Francois de Blois has offered a plausible hypothesis.  In late antiquity, there was a sect of Jewish Christians called the Nazoraeans who kept Jewish law and attended synagogue services, but also believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  De Blois argues that the Christians of west central Arabia, the environment of the Qur'an, could have been of this group, surviving longer in that remote area than they did in regions closer to the centers of ecclesiastical power.

The lack of data makes this necessarily a tentative hypothesis, but de Blois notes it does address two other mysteries of the Qur'an's view of Christians.  Several verses imply that Christians kept dietary laws, which Jewish Christians in fact did.  Second, the Qur'an recounts God the Father, Jesus, and Mary as the Christianity Trinity, rather than God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Late Antique sources on the Nazoraeans show that at least some believed the Holy Spirit to be the same as the Virgin Mary, with the Trinity forming a sort of complete holy family which they venerated.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Qaboos's Health

Sultan Qaboos of Oman has recently spent time in Germany, time which Omani authorities say included medical testing.  Anonymous diplomatic sources, however, say that the 73-year-old Arab ruler, who with the fall of Muammar Qadhafi has been head of state longer than any other, has colon cancer.

The sultan's health matters in Oman, since his 44-year reign is associated with the "Renaissance" following the isolation and underdevelopment under his father.  (Qaboos's father, it should be noted, may have avoided development because it would have involved debt to Western powers, powers which have often used debt to impinge on Arab sovereignty.)  What's more, he has no clear heir, with no known male relatives closer than cousins.  A number of years ago he wrote the name of his preferred successor in a sealed envelope to be opened on the occasion of his death.  This name would then have to be confirmed by a special council.  Under the constitution, if no prince wins approval as sultan, the military would take over as a regency until there was consensus on a sultan.

Labels:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Anti-Arab Sentiment in Kurdistan

Cathrin Schaer reports on rising anti-Arab sentiment in Iraqi Kurdistan:
These are just a sample of the kinds of comments that Iraqi Kurdish social media users have been posting online. Others added even more vitriol, reporting that relatives serving in the Iraqi military, who were fighting the Islamic State group, said they were shot at by ordinary Arabs in contested areas. They also said that the ordinary Arabs in contested areas were providing the extremists with intelligence.
The online anger against Arabs that started as random messages on social media has also evolved into online campaigning in some cases, with one group starting a Facebook page “for the expulsion of Arabs from Iraqi Kurdistan”. A group of Facebook campaigners also began to organise a demonstration against Arabs in Iraqi Kurdistan, even though Iraqi Kurdish authorities forbade it.
Two weekends ago, the UK-based website Middle East Eye reported on an impromptu demonstration held in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil. The mostly young men involved apparently set up checkpoints on the street to police anyone driving by, that they suspected was Arab. The protestors also tried to vandalise property they thought belonged to Arabs. Iraqi Kurdish security forces broke the protest up.
From the article as a whole, it sounds like a lot of this relates to ISIS's coasting on Sunni Arab grievances against the Maliki government in Baghdad. Many Sunni Arabs either work directly with ISIS, seeing it as the lesser evil, or are openly hostile to the Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi army operating in their region even if they are neutral on or hostile to the ISIS against which that army is campaigning.  Where Kurds and Shi'ites see ISIS as the primary issue, an evil against which all must unite, the nuances of Sunni Arab views and experiences easily become lost.

Labels: , ,