- Editor’s Note
This issue, the last of our 70th volume, embraces a wide range of topics: ISIS; GCC territorial disputes; articles on Israeli-Palestinian peace formulas and economic cooperation; a little-known protest movement in Israel’s formative years; policy prescriptions for the next US president; and book reviews on Saudi Arabia
As Iraq and the Western coalition prepare to launch a campaign to recover Mosul, our first article — “The Enemy Within,” by Tallha Abdulrazaq, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Exeter, and Gareth Stansfield, Chair of Arab Gulf Studies at the same university — examine the elements that contributed to the city’s fall ISIS in the first place, in 2014. Based on firsthand interviews with Sunnis from Mosul, they examine the alienation of the Sunni population in response to policies of the Shi‘i-based Maliki regime.
Our second article addresses a less violent form of conflict: border disputes among the Gulf Cooperation Council member states. The vaguely defined borders inherited from British colonial days became a source of potential conflict with the discovery of oil and natural gas, leading to conflicting territorial claims both on land and offshore. Yoel Guzansky, a postdoctoral research fellow at Tel Aviv University, traces the history of GCC attempts to find a mechanism for resolving such disputes and Saudi efforts at mediation, examining several case studies.
As hopes for a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have faded, Israelis and Palestinians both have debated other approaches to peace, including various forms of integration of the two communities, formulas for shared sovereignty, and others. Professor Bashir Bashir, a sociologist at the Open University of Israel, surveys many of these suggested solutions and their pros and cons, in our third article.
An earlier effort to resolve the conflict, the Oslo Process, included a protocol on economic cooperation as an annex to the Gaza-Jericho accord in 1994. This “Paris Protocol” is discussed and assessed by Mohammed Samhouri, a Palestinian economist and former adviser to the Palestinian Authority. He spells out the lofty cooperation goals set out in the protocol, and the reasons for the failure to realize those goals, leaving the Palestinian Authority divided and struggling.
In the early years of the State of Israel, Jewish immigrants from the Arab world (Mizrahi Jews) faced significant challenges integrating into a society led by an elite dominated by Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews. In the 1950s, many Mizrahim were placed in transit camps and groups of Iraqi Jews organized nationwide demonstrations against these conditions. Those protests, not well known in the West, are the subject of our last main article, by Professor Orit Bashkin of the University of Chicago.
This issue also contains another in our series of Policy Essays, this one by MEI Vice President for Policy and Research Paul Salem, “Navigating a Turbulent Middle East: Priorities for the Next President.” Following this essay are two Review Essays, each surveying new books about Saudi Arabia. The first, by the Clingendael Institute’s Roel Meijer, looks at debates on sectarianism and citizenship in the Kingdom. In the second, Simon Mabon of the University of Lancaster discusses new works on the changes (or lack thereof) in Saudi foreign policy. [End Page 523]
In addition you will find the usual full range of book reviews and our quarterly Chronology. Between issues I would remind you that there is a wealth of content on the Middle East Institute’s website at www.mei.edu, as well as my daily MEI Editor’s Blog accessible through the website or directly at http://mideasti.blogspot.com.
Last, but not least I would like to mention the passing of R. K. Ramazani, the undisputed dean of Iranian foreign policy studies in the US and a long-time, loyal friend of both the Middle East Institute and The Middle East Journal. Ruhi, as he was universally known (“Ruhollah was Khomeini’s name; I don’t use it anymore”), published a number of articles in MEJ, his first in our Spring 1958 issue (“Afghanistan and the USSR”) and his most recent in Autumn 2004 (“Ideology and Pragamatism in Iran’s Foreign Policy”). Many of those articles were...