Olivier Roy

One of the causes of the weakness of the State in the Middle East is that prime allegiance goes to the "solidarity group" (açabiyya), a social network which is always founded on family and personal relationships. These solidarity groups either are committed to a national strategy in order to control the State or, on the contrary, become delocalised and internationalised within diasporas which create their own transnational networks. Solidarity groups are not the expression of the permanence of a traditional society within a modern State, but rather a recomposition of allegiance networks within a political space definitively modified by the existence of a State. This recomposition can take three main forms. Firstly territorial establishment and the development of a community within sub-ethnic groups competing for power: the Kulabis in Tajikistan for example. Secondly the delocalisation of power networks which fade away once their objective, the obtaining of State power, is achieved (the Samarkand faction in Uzbekistan). Finally it can be achieved by the linking to an international network, for example that of humanitarian aid. These different types of recomposition do not weaken the State as such, which remains the framework of any possible inscription in the political space. But they do hinder the transition towards an ethnic State which can function only when it is built from above: thus Uzbekistan exists - not Baluchistan.

One of the most remarkable social phenomena in Iran in the 1990s is the audacious policy of urban redevelopment carried out by the mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbastchi. This policy, on the one hand, has become a model for the rest of the country. On the othe, it is the subject of a widespread political debate favorized by the personal, high-profile media style of the city's mayor. The most popular achievement of Karbastchi is the increase in the number of public squares and parks. These public places have become the stage for a whole series of totally new social practices. As such they are both a scene of acts of reconciliation and of potential conflict. In particular they are the setting for a coexistence between the ideology of the Islamic Republic and of national culture.However the increase in taxation that has accompanied this urban renovation has generated opposition both of a political and economic kind. The public's use of these gardens, the perception of the tax burden required to finance them, and the ensuing debates over these questions have opened up a negociating area between social actors, one that might well contribute to the creation of a public space. This process has helped the rationalization and the bureaucratization of society conveyed by the Islamic Republic while, at the same time, being carried out by a political figure who is perceived within the framework of a culturally constructed imagination. In fact the hypothesis of the "rentier" state, posited by a number of authors concerning the Middle East, is extended in this paper through anthropological study.

Raymond Benhaïm, Youssef Courbage et Rémy Leveau

By concentrating on heavy trends within a medium to long term framework, these papers are an attempt to break with the alarmist interpretations which characterize most analyses of events in Nonh Africa. 
On a demographic level, Youssef Courbage shows how emigration to Europe has had a profound influence on the pace of demographic transition in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. In this area these countries already constitute a coherent regional entity. 
In his analysis of economic prospects, Raymond Benhaïm also discerns a logic of integration in spite of the fact that each of the North African countries today favours its bilateral relations with Europe. It is, in fact, in the European interest that these countries become a unified North African market. 
Finally on a political level Rémy Leveau examines the new types of political behaviour of both those who govern and those governed. These forms of behaviour are emerging at a time of social disillusion, and when the urbanised and educated social strata claim to have their say in the organizing of society. Neither the states nor the islamic movements can achieve total victory: in the end a compromise solution should thus prevail. However for this to occur each party will need to give up its reductionist view of the adversary. External parties will need to consider other solutions than providing unconditional aid - against a so-called "green peril" - to those in power, all too prone to refuse the control of those they govem