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?

Rémi Castets

With a substantial Uyghur population, Xinjiang (East Turkistan) is, after Uzbekistan, the second largest Muslim Turkic-speaking area of settlement area in Central Asia. Annexed by China fairly late, this territory has a tumultuous history punctuated by foreign interference and separatist insurrections. Through strict control of the regional political system and a massive influx of Han settlers, the communist regime has managed to integrate this strategic region and its large oil deposits into the rest of China. However, over the past twenty years, unrest in Xinjiang has dramatically intensified. Less familiar to Western countries than the problem of Tibet, the Uyghur question is nevertheless a deeper source of concern for the Chinese authorities. After a long media blackout about this unrest until September 11, 2001, the Chinese government issued a series of documents attempting to depict the Uyghur opposition as an outside terrorist force linked to transnational Islamist terrorist networks. This rhetoric, which portrays the current unrest as a foreign attempt to destabilize the region, conceals a deep socio-political malaise and an opposition that actually takes on a far different shape from the vision official discourse tries to impose.

Marco Martiniello

The text deals with the issue of the uses of images of cultural difference and specificity in the so-called "communitarian conflict" in Belgium. More generally, it adresses the issue of the complex relation between political identities and culture as well as the meaning of these two notions in the processes of political construction of ethnicity and of the nation. Five points are developed. Firstly, the long history of the "communitarian conflict" is reminded. Secondly, it is shown that images of cultural and identity specificity have always been politically exploited in this conflict. Thirdly, the hypothesis according to wich the federalisation process of the State has revealed a deep change in the shape of the "communitarian conflict" is presented. Fourthly , it is shown that the identity and cultural items politically used in the conflict are not the same whether groups are engaged in ethnicity politics or nationalist politics. Provisional conclusions about the future of Belgium are drawn in fifth point

Marie-Paule Canapa

The end of communism in Yugoslavia ended up with the break up of the country and war. But the new states that broke off from the federation are themselves (except for Slovenia) multi-ethnic. How will they manage this problem? This question, even if at first it is posed in terms of minorities rights, raises a problem of democracy in general. The basic principles of the organization of democracy in the "national" state prevent a full affirmation of the members of minorities as citizens, defined first, and sometimes almost exclusively, as members nf their nation. Is there another mode of belonging to the state, a more effective participation in decision making? These are crucial questions of democracy that are raised (secularism in the widest sense, decentralization); another one is the role of the ethnic criterion in the political organization and the possible perversions that it induces (Bosnia-Herzgovina).

Radovan Vukadinovic

The violent disintegration of Yugoslavia has fundamentally shaken the Balkans. The disappearance of the Yugoslav federation - previously a pillar of stability in the region - and the quest for external allies amongst the protagonists in the present conflict have dramatically modified the regional framework. This structure itself had already undergone profound change due to the collapse of the pre-existing communist regimes. In this paper Radovan Vukadinovic examines the regional actors by analysing their fears, their short and long term interests and the development of their external relations. In the last part of the paper he attempts to provide a sketch of a new balance of power in a still blurred political landscape. He points out the defects of a model too rigidly based on the past: that of a Mittel European, "Catholic" alliance, in opposition to an "Orthodox" one. Instead the author detects two smaller coalitions emerging: on the one hand that of Greece, Rumania and Serbia and on the other, that of Turkey, Bulgaria and Albania.