- Editor’s Note
This first issue of our 67th Volume offers a range of studies marked by both geographical and disciplinary diversity.
Two articles deal with subjects that have dominated the headlines in recent years. First, William Harris of the University of Otago in New Zealand offers us a study of the international investigation of the killing of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005. He places this series of events within the context of the string of political assassinations in Lebanon and the evolution of what became the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Next, Nathalie Tocci of the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome examines the peace efforts of the so-called Middle East Quartet (the US, EU, Russia, and the UN) and their efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over the past decade.
A more specialized study is that provided by Eric Gobe of the CNRS; Centre Jacques Berque in Rabat, who studies the legal services market in Ben ‘Ali’s Tunisia, detailing how authoritarian state pressures to control the legal profession alienated that profession and helped fuel the Tunisian Revolution, the first of the revolts now characterized as “Arab Spring.”
Our fourth article, by Marat Grebennikov, examines the Azeris of Iranian Azerbaijan and their role as a “loyal minority,” loyal to the Islamic Republic of Iran and not tempted by irredentism by the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Our fifth article represents a sort of new departure for the Journal, or perhaps a return to an older practice. From time to time in the 1980s, the Journal offered occasional pieces which the late editor Richard Parker characterized as “policy pieces” distinct from the peer-reviewed scholarly research articles. With this issue we return to this occasional practice with a “Policy Essay” by Jeffrey Avina of Microsoft, “The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Arab Spring.” These articles are timely and have not been subjected to the full scholarly peer review process to which our research articles are subjected.
Our Book Review Article for this issue is by Rex Brynen of McGill, and deals with “Gaming Middle East Conflict,” and departs from the norm by reviewing games, rather than books, that deal with regional conflicts. The usual full range of book reviews follows, as does our Chronology.
Readers outside the Washington area may be unfamiliar with MEI’s resources other than the Journal. However, thanks to our website, which includes videos, recordings, and transcripts from our programmatic activities in Washington, geography is not the limitation it once was. Besides reminding you that between issues of The Middle East Journal you can read my musings daily at the Middle East Institute Editor’s Blog (http://mideasti.blogspot.com), I thought I’d take a moment to talk about some of the Middle East Institute’s activities and encourage you to access the resources we make available on our website.
Looking ahead at 2013, our mission: “to promote knowledge of the Middle East in America and strengthen understanding of the United States by the peoples and governments of the region” continues to be not only relevant — but essential.
MEI’s policy-related events and programs continue to bring together leading analysts to focus on regional politics and assess the significance and implications of (and [End Page 7] for) US foreign policy in the Middle East. Our programs in the past year tracked the unprecedented changes in Libya, Egypt, the unfolding crisis in Syria, the challenges of Iran and much more.
Our language programs continues to attract students by providing valuable skills in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Urdu and Pashto — essential for careers in the foreign service, diplomacy, and international business.
The Center for Turkish Studies successfully organized its 3rd Annual Conference on Turkey, a signature event for the discussion of Turkey-related issues in Washington policy circles, which was co-sponsored with Georgetown University’s Institute of Turkish Studies.
Also in 2012, MEI’s 66th Annual Conference and Banquet “New Horizons, New Challenges: The Middle East in 2013,” attracted nearly 700 guests representing government officials, congressional staff, corporate leaders, civil society personnel, academics, students, media, and the general public.
As we look ahead to next...