- Editor's Note
The Middle East still wrestles with a fair number of border disputes, many of which can be traced back to the period of European Mandates after the First World War, and are often overlaid with more contemporary political feuding. Negotiations between Syria and Israel stalled in the late 1990s over a difference of a few hundred meters of shoreline on the Sea of Galilee, but with the whole issue of water resources underlying the dispute. The Sheb'a Farms dispute (involving Syria, Lebanon, and Israeli occupation) is another. Not far from the Farms lies the divided village of Ghajar, partly in pre-1967 Syria, and partly in Lebanon. Israeli forces still occupy the Lebanese side of the divided town, as well as the southern part, which they have held since 1967. Israeli scholar Asher Kaufman, now at Notre Dame University, has written extensively on issues relating to this complicated border, and in this issue he offers some new findings on the thorny question of Ghajar and the linked issues nearby. Since this border is a key area of concern at the moment, it is a timely article and an insightful one.
Recently, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood began a rapprochement with the Syrian regime, or at any rate, an end to decades of open opposition. The history of the Brotherhood's attitudes towards the 'Alawite-dominated regime —with its alliances with Shi'ite Iran and Hizbullah —is traced by Yvette Talhamy in the second of our articles. It is a useful contribution to the study of the Brotherhood's attitudes and their evolution.
Our other three articles deal with a critical country whose regional role is growing: Turkey. Despite Turkey's self-identification with Europe, it remains a country in and very much of the Middle East. Each of the articles presented here deals in one way or another with questions of identity and self-definition.
The first, by Ersel Aydinli of Bilkent University, looks at what he calls a "paradigmatic shift" for the Turkish military. After years of interventions and threatened interventions in political life as the defenders of Kemalism and secularism, the Turkish generals in recent years have mostly learned to accept and work with the Islamist-leaning AKP. Aydinli examines the evolution of the new relationship and its implications.
Another area of changing perceptions is the role of Turkey's Kurds. Mesut Yegen of Middle East Technical University in Ankara traces attitudes towards the Kurds from the foundation of the Republic to the present, with emphasis on the recent past. He notes shifting perceptions, from seeing the Kurds as "prospective-Turks" to be integrated, to perceptions of them as "pseudo-citizens" of uncertain loyalty. It is a useful analysis of both the politics and the perceptions behind the changing attitudes towards Kurds in Turkey.
In an age of Middle Eastern diasporas in Europe and the Americas, studies of diaspora identity questions are increasingly encountered. Ilhan Kaya, who teaches geography at Dicle University in Diyarbakir, has studied Turkish immigrants to the [End Page 537] United States, both recent arrivals and those of longer duration, in order to gauge their attitudes towards their Turkish and Muslim identities.
Our Book Review article this time examines four recent works on the war in Iraq, and is written by W. Andrew Terrill of the US Army War College.
In addition, since the Autumn issue is the last of the calendar year, it has traditionally carried an "Annual Table of Contents," which was little more than a compendium of the four tables of contents which appeared in the previous year. Since making the Journal available to subscribers in an electronic edition, however, much fuller electronic search and retrieval capabilities are available through the Ingenta website at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mei/mei. Under the circumstances, we have discontinued the Annual Table of Contents as redundant.
And as a reminder, your Editor blogs at http://mideasti.blogspot.com, which may be reached through our main homepage at http://www.mei.edu. [End Page 538]
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