During the first decade of the 21st century the Gulf States undertook reforms of their social policies based on the generous redistribution of hydrocarbon profits. One of the elements of the redistribution was to guarantee of employment. Beginning in the 1990s rising unemployment indicated that the traditional employment policies were ineffective, generating social tensions as evidenced in the "Arab spring". The goal of the reforms is to move nationals into salaried jobs in the private sector, currently held largely by foreign workers. The change is strongly opposed by business executives and local entrepreneurs. Having become accustomed to inexpensive foreign workers they object to the increased costs entailed by the reforms. The royal families are thus obliged to negotiate between the interests of the private sector, often aligned with their own, and the dissatisfaction of the young, the group most impacted by unemployment and the key players in the protests that erupted in 2011 in Bahrain, Saudi-Arabia and Oman.

Shira Havkin

Since 2006 the checkpoints along the borders of the West Bank and the Gaza strip have been reorganized and equipped with a new technological platform. They are now managed by private security firms. The instigators of these reforms speak of the "civilianization" of the checkpoints and justify their program on economic, organizational and humanitarian grounds. This detailed study of the concrete means by which the management of the Israeli checkpoints has been outsourced and commodified enables one to establish links between the evolution of Israeli society in terms of the relationship between the State, the market and society and the actual changes in the operation of the occupation. It would appear that this is not a case of the State receding in the face of market forces in a zero sum game. Rather it is the redeployment in a neoliberal context of the State in which it has adopted the uniquely Israeli layering of the public and the private, the national and the international, the State and civil society.

Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh

Changes in the architecture of international engagements in peacemaking over the last decade can be traced through a comparison of the Peace Accords of 1997 which ended five years of civil war in Tajikistan with the on-going intervention in Afghanistan which began in the context of the global war against terrorism. The comparison points to the challenges that complex interventions face today: the collapse of stabilization, transition and consolidation phases of peacemaking; the lack of clarity about motivations for engagement; the ambiguous methods of state-building and uncertain ownership of peace processes. The success of the externally-led Tajikistan peace process can be attributed to the common search for collaboration between international organizations and regional powers and the gradual sequencing of the different stages: negotiation for power sharing, followed by consolidation, and finally state-building. By contrast, the changing motivations for intervention, the isolation of the Western alliance from regional actors, and the external actors’ own role as parties to war, which provokes escalating reactions, are the potential elements of failure in Afghanistan. Ultimately, it is the national ownership of peace processes that creates the necessary legitimacy for peacemaking to be durable.

Zuzanna Olszewska

Though Afghan emigration results from sociopolitical circumstances (drought, changes in the system of government, wars) and from the economic structure (pastoralism, seasonal cycles of productive activities), it is part of a historical continuum of recurrent population movements in the region. Many Afghans, particularly Hazaras, have settled in Iran since the end of the 19th century. Their presence in the country intensified during the 1970s following the Iranian oil boom and the Afghan drought, but also following the political upheavals in Afghanistan since 1978. The Islamic Republic has adopted a changing and rather inconsistent policy to deal with these immigrants, and in a both popular and formal climate of xenophobia the country’s current objective is to repatriate them. Yet, the presence of Afghans on Iranian soil seems irreversible as it satisfies economic needs, reflects the intensity of commercial exchanges between the two countries, and constitutes a complex cross-border social reality. Lastly, the Afghan presence stokes a public and legal debate on how to define citizenship, while it appears to be inherent to the Iranian conception of its own nation.

Marc Valeri

The sudden slump in oil production since 2001 has only heightened the question of an alternative to an economy based on oil revenues, whereas the sultanate had undergone exponential development over the three preceding decades. From this standpoint, the policy of Omanizing the labor force conditions all other issues, as it is not merely an economic matter, but instead deeply alters the social fabric that remained intact during the era of prosperity, thereby questioning the very legitimacy of Oman’s economic model. Omani society is currently experiencing a rise in frustrations reflected in a resurgence of particularist prejudices and demands. Alongside this phenomenon is an exacerbation of inequality, particularly due to the enmeshment of economic and decisionmaking powers in the hands of the oligarchy that has benefited from these revenues since 1970. To what extent do the changes Oman is going through today harbor a threat for the stability of a regime considered to be one of the most stable in the region?

Marwa Daoudy

From 1991 to 2000, Syria and Israel, two of the key actors of the Middle-Eastern conflict, entered into extensive peace negotiations. What lessons can be drawn from the process in terms of Syria’s objectives, motivations and perceptions, considering that this actor remains largely unknown? Such concerns will be addressed by identifying the major issues at stake: territory, security, and water resources. By analyzing all the obstacles on the road to peace, we will evaluate the potential for a resumption of peace talks in the new regional context. The death of President Hafez al-Asad in June 2000 and the rise to power of his son Bashar, the deterioration of the Israeli-Palestinian situation since the start of the Intifada and Ariel Sharon’s election in Israel, the war launched by the United States in Iraq, the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in April 2005, and the meeting of the 10th Baath Party Congress in June have all drastically impacted on domestic and regional dynamics. The purpose of the study is to shed new light on Syria’s constraints and opportunities, and their impact on her bargaining position.