With events in Iraq developing rapidly and dramatically as we go to press, it is fitting that this issue offers two studies relating to that country. The other articles cover a considerable range of topics.
In “Saddam and the Islamists,” Samuel Helfont of Princeton University analyzes the extensive archive of captured documents from the Ba‘thist regime to analyze how Saddam Husayn manipulated religious themes and institutions in order to enhance Iraq’s relations with Arab and Islamic countries.
Since the Kurdistan Regional Government achieved autonomy within Iraq in the 1990s, a sense of distinctive Kurdish national consciousness has emerged, and now may be accelerating. Sherko Kirmanj, a former official in the KRG Ministry of Higher Education now at the University of Utara Malaysia, studies the contents of Kurdish history textbooks under the KRG, emphasizing their effort at, as his title puts “building a nation-state within a nation-state.”
Our third article is particularly unusual. In the Middle East (and elsewhere in the world) many conspiracy theories have been spun around the Freemasons, Bar-Ilan University’s Danny Kaplan is not interested in weaving conspiracy theories; he has studied the evolution of the fraternal organization in Mandatory Palestine and the State of Israel, and he describes the nature of Jewish-Arab relations within and among the lodges.
Citizenship in the Gulf oil states is notoriously difficult to acquire. Zahra R. Babar of Georgetown University’s Qatar campus studies the case of Qatari nationality laws, examining the conditions and the financial and other benefits citizenship brings with it.
Finally, and still in the Gulf, former chair of the History Department of Kuwait University Benyan Turki examines the policies and programs of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Developoment (KFAED) and its record of development assistance in Africa.
Our Book Review article in this issue is a review essay by I. William Zartman of the School of Advances International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, dealing with five books on the so-called “Arab Spring,” followed as always by our full range of book reviews.
In addition, we have the latest edition of our quarterly Chronology, which has appeared in every issue since 1947.
I hope you enjoy the issue, Between issues, keep in mind the extensive content available at the Middle East Institute’s website, mei.edu, and my daily MEI Editor’s Blog at mideasti.blogspot.com [End Page 351]