Raphaelle Mathey

Anthropological studies demonstrate that personal values, social relationships and indicators of cultural identity are expressed in a symbolic manner in funeral rites. In Azerbaijan such rites can include as many as ten commemorative events (yas) in the year following the death. These are critically important events in which allegiances are made and broken. During the period of political chaos and economic recession which followed independence, from 1991 to 1996, the yas served as an incubator for a local identity movement. Political stability, beginning in 1996, and the advent of the petroleum era, in the 2000s, transformed the country’s face, reordered the relationships between individuals, and today raise the issue of creating a State and developing a national political project. The study of funeral rites enables one to measure the magnitude of these changes. The evolution of yas reveals new needs of a society in turmoil and reflects the fundamental examination Azerbaijanis are undertaking of themselves, their religion, their European and Oriental identity and their relationship to modernity.

Elsa Tulmets

After joining the European Union in 2004 or 2007, all Central and Eastern European countries have expressed their will to transfer their experience of democratization, transition to market economy and introduction of the rule of law to other regions in transition. They have influenced in particular the launching of an EU policy towards the East, which was so far rather absent, and of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2003. The rhetoric developed is particularly strong and visible, but what about the implementation of the aid policies to transition? Which reality does the political discourse entail, both in its bilateral and multilateral dimensions? Central and Eastern European countries do not represent a homogeneous bloc of countries and have constructed their foreign policy discourse on older ideological traditions and different geographical priorities. Despite the commitment of a group of actors from civil society and reforms in the field of development policy, the scarce means at disposal would need to be better mobilized in order to meet expectations. In the context of the economic crisis, the search for a concensus on interests to protect and means to mobilize, like through the Visegrad Group and other formats like the Weimar Triangle, appears to be a meaningful option to follow in order to reinforce the coherence of foreign policy actions implemented.

With a population exceeding twenty million, Karachi is already one of the largest cities in the world. It could even become the world’s largest city by 2030. Karachi is also the most violent of these megacities. Since the mid-1980s, it has endured endemic political conflict and criminal violence, which revolve around control of the city and its resources. These struggles for the city have become ethnicised. Karachi, often referred to as a “Pakistan in miniature”, has become increasingly fragmented, socially as well as territorially. Notwithstanding this chronic state of urban political warfare, Karachi is the cornerstone of the economy of Pakistan. Despite what journalistic accounts describing the city as chaotic and anarchic tend to suggest, there is indeed order of a kind in the city’s permanent civil war. Far from being entropic, Karachi’s polity is predicated upon relatively stable patterns of domination, rituals of interaction and forms of arbitration, which have made violence “manageable” for its populations – even if this does not exclude a chronic state of fear, which results from the continuous transformation of violence in the course of its updating. Whether such “ordered disorder” is viable in the long term remains to be seen, but for now Karachi works despite—and sometimes through—violence.

In post-Qadhafi Libya, the authorities are in search of a new art of governing. Despite the legitimacy accorded them by elections, they remain very weak. Without any means of coercion, they are constantly obliged to negotiate for their survival, threatened by those who were not chosen by voters but who instead draw their legitimacy from their participation in the revolution – the militias. The challenge facing the Libyan authorities is not so much to combat these forces but to harness them. Libya has not undertaken a process of “de-Qadhafication.” But for the militias, in particular the Islamists, the presence of former officials and leaders in the state apparatus is intolerable. Thus, on May 5, 2013 they pressured the parliament into passing a law excluding from politics persons who occupied positions of responsibility under the old regime. If the revolutionary brigades continue to impose their will on the government, the fall of Qadhafi’s regime will have not brought about political change in Libya but rather the continuation of former political practices under a new guise.

For ideological and practical reasons the AKP government, in power since November 2002, has engaged in a policy of progressive integration of Turkey into the Muslim, and more particularly, the Arab world. This policy has been facilitated by the country’s booming economy and assertive foreign policy. Turkey, whose government embraced a political ideology similar to those, brought to power by the Arab Spring, benefitted greatly from the ideological effects of the Arab Spring. These benefits were enhanced by the fact that the political ideology of those brought to power by the « Arab Spring » was similar to that of the AKP. Turkey appeared to be becoming a model for the Arab world. However, the crisis in Syria, a country central to Turkey’s Arab policy, and the inability of the Turkish government to remain neutral has put an end to Turkey’s Arab dream. Turkish engagement in the Syrian crisis has caused deterioration in Turkey’s relations with a number of its neighbors and forced it to renew ties with its traditional western allies from whom it had hoped to distance itself in order to be an independent regional and international player.

During the Cold War the US-Pakistan relationship was one in which the US considered Pakistan as a necessary part of its effort to contain communism in Asia while Pakistan considered its relationship with the US as strengthening its position vis a vis India. The high point in this relationship was during the Soviet-Afghan war. The US tried to renew this relationship after 9/11, although when Obama replaced GW Bush he stated his intention to move US-Pakistani relations off the security agenda which the Pentagone and the Pakistani army considered a priority. However, Obama rain into resistance from the Pakistani army and from the national security establishment in Washington- as can be seen from the security-oriented distribution of US aid. But not even in the area of security have the two nations been able truly to collaborate. To begin with, the strengthening of US-India relations angered Pakistan. Then Islamabad protected the Taliban in its fight with NATO. Finally, Obama violated Pakistani sovereignty (the Drone strikes in the tribal belt and the Ben Laden raid). These conflicting interest, however, do not necessary means the end of the relationship.

Evelyne Ritaine

The political determination of the Mediterranean border of the European Union seen from the perspective of the Southern European countries (Spain, Italy, Greece, Malta) illustrates the symbolic and political importance for these nations of maintaining control of the border. It has a significant impact on the types of controls that are enacted and the interplay between national and European decisions. Placing this question on the agenda brings to light a Mediterranean perspective regarding the exterior borders of the European Union that is largely determined by the conditions of integration of the different countries into the Schengen area. This new border regime is the result of complex political games and is seen as a security issue. The actual set of controls seems to be less planned and legal-rational than simply erratic and the result of tensions between internal tactics, nation state strategies and attempts at bringing within the ring of EU.