The Covid-19 pandemic in Oman was characterized by its coincidence with a political transition. The coming to power of Sultan Haytham in January 2020 after five decades of Qaboos’rule and the health crisis combined to transform the roles and functions of political and institutional actors. These two dynamics, apparently unrelated have modified the policies and boundaries of the state. The emphasis on the function of protection and the development of a scientific discourse based on efficiency breaks sometimes with the previous image of an Omani specificity marked by a principle of moderation. Moreover, the recomposition that is linked to the place granted to foreign workers, set up as an economic and social adjustment variable, indicates a process of relegation authorized and accelerated by the specific context of the pandemic and the necessity to find new sources of legitimacy.
Propos recueillis par Corinne Deloy
Laura Ruiz de Elvira, IRD/CEPED
Elections have been trivialized in Iran. They allow for the expression of diversity, in particular ethnical and denominational, of historical regional identities, and prove the growing professionalization of political life. Paradoxically, such professionalization withdraws the Republic away into the levels of family, parenthood, autochthony, and even neighborhoods or devotional sociability, which are all institutions that instill a feeling of proximity, solidarity, communion; close to the notion of asabiyat. As the saying goes, the Islamic Republic has become a « parentocracy » (tâyefehsâlâri). The country’s industrial development isn’t at odds with such ponderousness since it lies on a web of very small family businesses. The analysis of the 2016 legislative elections in four wards reveals how important the issue of property is in political life, indivisible as it is of the various particularistic consciences. The connections with notables are still there, revealing lines of continuity with the old regime as well as longstanding agrarian conflicts that have not been erased by the Revolution and that are being kept alive through contemporary elections.
Bayram Balci, Juliette Tolay
While the issue of Syrian refugees has led an increasing number of countries to work on curbing arrivals, one country, Turkey, hosts almost half of these refugees. Yet, far from imposing restrictions, Turkey has distinguished itself for its open border policy and large-scale humanitarian contribution. Turkey’s generosity alone is not sufficient to understand this asylum policy put in place specifically for Syrians. There are indeed a number of political factors that indicate a certain level of instrumentalisation of this issue. In particular, Turkey’s benevolent attitude can be explained by Turkey’s early opposition to Assad in the Syrian conflict and its wish to play a role in the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria, as well as by its willingness to extract material and symbolic benefits from the European Union. But the refugee crisis also matters at the level of domestic politics, where different political parties (in power or in the opposition) seem to have used the refugee issue opportunistically, at the expense of a climate favorable to Syrians’ healthy integration in Turkey
Today, the creation of a Palestinian state appears to be a distant possibility: the international community rejected to manage the issue, and the leadership in these territories weakened because of its divisions, revealing their inability to advance. Both the political and the territorial partition between the Gaza strip, governed by the Hamas and the West Bank, under Palestinian authority in line with Fatah, reveal a profound crisis that questions the very contours of Palestinian politics. It also shows that Hamas’ integration in the political game made it impossible to pursue the security subcontacting system. Maintaining the system avoids reconstructing the Palestinian political community, and makes it difficult to develop a strategy that moves towards sovereignty. Since October 2015, the popular and pacific resistance project has been shelved by the return of the violence against Israeli civilians. The Palestinian leadership counts on internationalization of the cause, which has shown mediocre results. Will the replacement of Mahmoud Abbas by his competitors permit to leave the rut?
Yet there is ample literature devoted to the sociology of the police in the western world, little research focuses on Arab countries. This study tries to fill this gap by offering an ethnographic study of Ras Beirut police station, the first and the only police station in Lebanon that has been reformed according to the community policing model. The academic works focusing on the importation of this model in developing countries point out how difficult it is to implement and emphasize its negative outcomes due to the local characteristics of each country. Fragmented on a sectarian and a political ground, Lebanon remains a perfect field to explore this hypothesis. Indeed the divisions of the Lebanese state weaken the interactions between the public and the private security forces. Nevertheless, many others factors, beyond the religious and the political divisions, explain Ras Beirut’s failure. The internal dynamics at work inside the police station and the influence of the patronage networks reduce considerably the chances of its success.
Anne de Tinguy (Dir.)
"Looking into Eurasia" provides some keys to understand the events and phenomena that have left their imprint on a region that has undergone major mutation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991: the post-soviet space. With a cross-cutting approach that is no way claims to be exhaustive, this study seeks to identify the key drivers, the regional dynamics and the underlying issues at stake.
Olivier Grojean et Merve Özdemirkiran
Henri J. Barkey
Ariel E. Levite, Bruno Tertrais
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Is the concept of “human security”, which has been discussed and debated in international organizations and academic circles since 1994, simply “hot air”, as its critics claim? Or does it provide a suitable framework for proposing multisectoral, integrated solutions in a world that is increasingly interconnected? While there is no consensus as to the exact definition of the term, human security goes beyond traditional notions of security to focus on such issues as development and respect for human rights. To some the concept is attractive, but analytically weak since it introduces too many variables that are not necessarily linked together. To others, human security concerns should be limited to situations marked by the threat or outbreak of violence. For those who favour a broad definition (as does this author), the human security agenda provides the means to assess the root causes of conflict (whether intra-state or inter-state), to propose adequate policies for resolving crises, and to provide the means for sustainable peace-building. In so doing human security policies focus on social and economic issues as they affect the individual, arguing that security (in the narrow sense of the term) is dependent on a wide-ranging network of factors that require a comprehensive approach to be effective. The paper introduces the various documents on the subject produced by international organizations, takes up the problem of the relation between academic research and policy-making, and points to a certain number of cases in which nations or regional organizations have included human security as a foreign policy option. Throughout the paper reference is made to the case of Afghanistan that is treated in the study reproduced in annex.
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.