• New Texts Out Now: Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel, eds. Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East

    Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?

    Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi (DP and NH): Over the last several years, a narrative has taken root in Western media and policy circles that attributes the turmoil and violence engulfing the Middle East to supposedly ancient sectarian hatreds. “Sectarianism” has become a catchall explanation for virtually all of the region’s problems. Thomas Friedman, for instance, claims that in Yemen today “the main issue is the seventh century struggle over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad — Shiites or Sunnis.” Barack Obama has been one the biggest proponents of this thesis. On several occasions, he has invoked “ancient sectarian differences” to explain the turmoil in the region. In his final State of the Union address, he asserted that the issues plaguing the Middle East today are “rooted in conflicts that date back millennia.” A more vulgar version of this view prevails among right-wing commentators. But in one form or another, this new sectarian essentialism, which is lazy and convenient — and deeply Orientalist — has become the new conventional wisdom in the West.

    Our book forcefully challenges this narrative and offers an alternative set of explanations for the rise in sectarian conflict in the Middle East in recent years. Emphasis on recent: the book demonstrates that the sharp sectarian turn in the region’s politics is largely a phenomenon of the last few decades — really since 1979 — and that pundits who imagine it as an eternal or fixed feature of the Middle East are reading history backwards. So the book is an exercise in refutation and ideology critique on the one hand, while also offering a set of rigorous social scientific arguments about what exactly is driving the intensification of sectarian conflict in the Middle East today. Our contributors come from political science, history, anthropology, and religious studies, and it is from this range of disciplines that we present a social and political theory as well as a critical history of sectarianism.

    #narrative #orientalisme #sectarisme

  • Egypt’s Power Game: Why Cairo is Boosting its Military Power

    .... the decision to allocate huge resources to the procurement of jets, helicopter carriers and weapon systems in the throes of a mounting economic crisis reflects something else: Egypt’s intention to convert its uneasy one-sided dependency on wealthy Arab states into a mutual dependency. In other words, Egypt seeks to balance its economic inferiority with its military superiority, in a bid to elevate its status in the region and to avoid subordination to other Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia.

    That is why Sisi has been more than willing, nearly eager, to put Egypt’s military strength to actual use. Egypt was the most vocal advocate about the creation of a joint Arab military force when the idea was popular in 2015, and it pledged to commit 40,000 troops to the force, but the plan never came to fruition. Moreover, Sisi vowed to provide protection to Gulf states whenever required, and he also expressed his readiness to send Egyptian troops to a future Palestinian state to help stabilize it. There is also reason to believe that Sisi feels inclined to intervene militarily in neighboring Libya, but only if a multilateral force that enjoys a UN mandate is formed.

    #Egypte #armes

  • New Texts Out Now: Hannes Baumann, Citizen Hariri: Lebanon’s Neoliberal Reconstruction

    With Hariri we have liberal talk and illiberal walk. This contradiction is not unique to Hariri but goes to the heart of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is not a defined set of policies but a jumble of contradictory projects: An ideological project which says that markets allocate resources more efficiently than the government, and a political project which favors capital over labor. Neoliberalism requires the rollback of the state through privatization or welfare cuts, but it also requires strong state action to build markets and to ensure capital accumulation. Lebanese neoliberalism was first and foremost a project defined by the interests of Gulf contractor Rafiq Hariri and his business partners.

    #néolibéralisme #Liban #Hariri

  • The Policing of the Palestinian Minority in #Israel: An International Law Perspective

    In sum, the report commissioned by MK Zoabi strongly suggests that Israel is violating its international legal obligation to protect the life of its Palestinian citizens without any discrimination. International law is clear: ordinary crime committed by private actors could be attributed to the state, when the latter fails to prevent and punish crimes that violate two of the basic human rights, i.e., the right to life and physical integrity. Every time the Israeli police force fails to prevent a preventable crime, or fails in investigating and punishing perpetrators when these options are objectively possible, the victims and their families should be encouraged to seek a remedy. The failure of the state to provide remedies, amounts by itself to an additional violation of Israel’s international obligations.

    #Palestine #droit_international

  • Remembering Husayn Muruwwah, the ‘Red Mujtahid’

    On 17 February 1987, during one of the bloodiest periods of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), the prominent journalist, literary critic, intellectual, and activist Husayn Muruwwah (or Hussein Mroué[i]) was assassinated at his home in Ramlet al-Baida, West Beirut. Muruwwah left Lebanon at the age of fourteen to train at the Najaf hawza (seminary) in Iraq. He intended to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a respected religious scholar and cleric. Yet after a multifaceted intellectual journey that spanned several decades and multiple locations, Muruwwah went on to become a celebrated Marxist philosopher and senior member of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP); “a Red mujtahid who was at once proud of the cultural heritage of Islam and politically committed to the cause of social justice, political freedom and emancipation from foreign domination along Communist lines.”[ii]

  • The Egyptians : A Radical History of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution - Afterword

    Regeni’s murder, and the architecture of state terror from which it emerged, has helped illuminate the west’s own uneasy tightrope walk over the Nile and exposed points of vulnerability in the relationship between Sisi and his international backers. Just as importantly, it has underlined how profoundly unstable Egypt’s status quo is, and the extent to which the underlying dynamics of Egyptian authoritarianism have been churned into crisis by successive years of revolt. Mubarak would not have allowed a white European to be tortured to death in such a prominent manner, inviting needless controversy; in the wilds of today’s Egypt, Sisi lacks both the choice and control to follow suit. The counter-revolution’s arsenal of defences is more ferocious, and more fragmented, than that held by the state before 2011, precisely because the landscape beneath its feet has been so thoroughly rearranged by revolution.

    Jadaliyya publie l’épilogue d’un livre qui semble mériter le détour :
    Jack Shenker, The Egyptians : A Radical History of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution.

  • What the West Owes Syrians: US and European Arms Sales to the Middle East 2011-2014

    The last two years have seen heated debates within Europe and the United States about the costs of hosting Syrian and other refugees. However, there has been almost complete silence about another aspect of their involvement in the conflict: the extent of arms sales to the Middle East. Between 2011 and 2014, and based on conservative estimates, Europe earned twenty-one billion euros from the arms trade to the Middle East while it spent nineteen billion euros on hosting approximately one million Syrian refugees. During that same period, the United States earned at least eighteen billion euros from arms sales, while accepting about eleven thousand refugees. Aware of the consequences of weapons proliferation, European politicians may have opted for a tradeoff: making their taxpayers shoulder the short term cost of hosting refugees in exchange for profits to the arms industry.

    #armes #armement #Syrie #commerce_d'armes #Europe #USA #Etats-Unis

  • What the West Owes Syrians: US and European Arms Sales to the Middle East 2011-2014

    The last two years have seen heated debates within Europe and the United States about the costs of hosting Syrian and other refugees. However, there has been almost complete silence about another aspect of their involvement in the conflict: the extent of arms sales to the Middle East. Between 2011 and 2014, and based on conservative estimates, Europe earned twenty-one billion euros from the arms trade to the Middle East while it spent nineteen billion euros on hosting approximately one million Syrian refugees. During that same period, the United States earned at least eighteen billion euros from arms sales, while accepting about eleven thousand refugees. Aware of the consequences of weapons proliferation, European politicians may have opted for a tradeoff: making their taxpayers shoulder the short term cost of hosting refugees in exchange for profits to the arms industry.

  • Jadaliyya

    Sur la question syrienne, un très long et très riche article de As’ad AbuKhalil, dont j’extraie ces lignes, juste avant la conclusion. A lire absolument si on s’intéresse à ladite question.

    Some Principles to Consider in Assessing the Leftist Stance on Syria

    While there are no active leftist organizations and movements of consequence on either side of the divide in the Syrian conflict, leftist arguments and appeals should not be disregarded or forgotten. Poor people are dying on both sides of the divide in Syria, and poor people are among the fighters of the regime and of the rebels. Leftist arguments should still hold for analysis and for activism, even if they are not currently politically salient.
    The invocation of the “Syrian people,” speaking on behalf of the Syrian people, deploying the academically fashionable terminology of “the agency of the Syrian people” is in line with—if not always intentionally—a long Western tradition of occupation and colonization in the name of the natives. There are Syrians who support the rebels, there are Syrians who support the regime, and there are Syrians who support neither. They all do so for a complex set of reasons. The notion that leftists should blindly follow the political choice of “the people” or a segment of people (conveniently selected) is a political exercise intended to support one group of combatants. Masses can make erroneous political choices and leftists—of all people—should not use demagogic arguments.
    Leftists should not necessarily follow blindly one side or the other in the armed conflict. We can all agree Asad and his regime represent a brutal dictatorship. That is not the same as saying those armed groups of consequence among the Syrian opposition should be supported or championed. Leftists should make their own criticisms or suggestions without fear of intimidation, especially the effective and universal intimidation exercised by the US-Gulf alliance.
    There are civilians on both sides of the conflict. All sides of the armed conflict (meaning, the Syrian regime and the rebels as well as all of their sponsors and supporters) have committed war crimes. Despite no reliable data about the killing and destruction, we know that both sides are guilty of war crimes, and that the regime bears a much bigger share of the responsibility. The notion that the Syrian regime is justified in its bombing campaign or that rebels are hiding behind civilians (even if true in some cases) is the same argument often used by Zionists to justify the murder of Palestinian civilians. This logic should be categorically rejected. Similarly, the notion that Syrian rebel crimes should be ignored or forgiven because the Syrian regime committed more war crimes is basically a license for Syrian rebels to commit more war crimes.
    Leftists of all people should welcome open debate about Syria and should reject the intimidation tactics of Western supporters and cheerleaders for the Syrian rebels. Leftists more than others should engage in media deconstruction and in pointing out the impact of financial ownership of media in the West and in the Arab world.
    Attacking the anti-imperialist left in the West has a long tradition. Those engaging in the debate about Syria need to be careful to not contribute and reinforce this tradition, all the while stating any differences and critiques they might have of those that identify as the anti-imperialist left. We need to separate those attacks on parts of the left due to purely Syrian considerations from those that are part of the US hegemonic order.
    The attack on the left exaggerates the role of the left, in the West, in the Syrian conflict, and in the Arab world at large.
    Most promoters of the idea that the left is guilty in its stance on the Syrian conflict belong to groups who are sponsored by Gulf regimes or Western governments—hardly parties that possess Leftist credentials. It must be noted in this context that the Western attacks on the left from supporters of Syrian rebels is synchronized with the campaign of attacks against the left across the Saudi-owned media.
    Leftists should be aware of the infiltration by Zionists in the ranks of the debate on Syria, for purposes that are neither related to Syria nor the welfare of the Syrian population.

    Some of the loudest voices feigning concern for the Syrian people are individuals, organizations, and regimes that have never been known for their concern for the Syrian people or for the lives of Arabs more generally.
    Palestine is relevant to every debate, or it should be. But the Palestinian issue is being exploited for political purposes by all sides to the conflict. The Syrian regime and its supporters use it, for example, in their argument that any protest or armed insurrection against the regime is a Zionist conspiracy (although Israel is certainly active in the Syrian conflict and Israel has been active in every internal war or conflict in the contemporary Arab world). The Zionist supporters of the Syrian rebels also exploit the issue when they take advantage of every possible political event to further the interests of Israeli occupation and aggression.
    The left is interested in the welfare of the poor, and neither the Syrian regime nor its enemies among the rebels care for the poor. Furthermore, the Western-Gulf alliance is hardly ever interested in the plight of the poor in their own countries, let alone abroad.
    Leftists have to oppose Russian intervention in Syria at the same time they condemn US, European, and Gulf intervention in Syria. Russia is a hegemonic player, but the United States remains the supreme imperialist global power causing more death, destruction, and conflict than any other country on the planet. There are reasons to distrust Russian motives in Syria, but there are more reasons to distrust US motives in Syria and across the Arab world.

  • Migrant Worker Repression and Solidarity in Lebanon

    In the weeks and months following the al-Qa` bombings that occurred near the Lebanese-Syrian border on 27 June 2016, the Lebanese government has intensified its repressive measures against Syrian refugees. This has taken place in the form of illegal curfews, political hate speech, and arbitrary arrests. In the week following the attacks, checkpoints were established all over the country, mainly targeting Syrian refugees, although other undocumented migrant workers were arrested as well. According to the Lebanese Army twitter account, more than six hundred Syrians were arrested in the first three days alone. In January 2015, most Syrian nationals residing in Lebanon became subject to new rules that resemble​ the ​kafala (sponsorship) system, tying their residency to a “pledge of responsibility” on the part of their employer (with minor exceptions). Ever since, the majority of Syrians present in Lebanon (those who cannot get a tourist or student visa, for instance, or those whose relatives did not obtain sponsorship) have fallen out of legal status.

    Denial of status is a tool the Lebanese government consistently uses to further control marginalized populations in the territory. Prior to these recent events, migrant workers as well as refugees across the country were already the target of a noticeable increase in police violence, albeit one that largely escaped media attention. From late April through May 2016, these communities witnessed waves of arrests and police raids at their homes, workplaces, and public gathering spaces. This targeting affected both “legal” and undocumented migrant workers and refugees, particularly migrant women who cannot live legally outside of their sponsor’s house and who are thus suspect simply for being in public space. In the words of an Ethiopian woman who has been working in Lebanon for more than fifteen years: “In all my time here, I have never seen a year like this year.”

    This article focuses on this past wave of repression against migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, and their ongoing strategies of resistance. We tackle three aspects of this state violence: the gendered nature of the arrests and their role in producing state legitimacy, the criminalization of migrant women through restrictions on status, and the networks of solidarity that have developed around the `Adliyya Detention Center in Beirut.[1]

    #répression #migrants #réfugiés #femmes

  • An Emergent Political Icon on the Landscape of Istanbul: The Palace of (In)Justice

    Since the squares and streets of Istanbul have been occupied and appropriated by the top-down rule of AKP, and its pious constituencies, Çağlayan has metamorphosed into an alternative public space. The clean and securitized spaces surrounding the palace of justice are a far cry from the idea and ideal open access and fluidity associated with public space. But, they have been taken over by growing numbers dissidents, many of them young and female, as spaces of assembly. These gatherings are not the festive anti-government crowds associated with occupy-Taksim more than a decade ago. More than anything, they are somber. At the same time, they offer dissidents the opportunity to watch and to be watched, to encounter old friends and make new acquaintances, to confirm identities, and negotiate belongings. In short, all the paradoxes emblematic of authoritarianism in the political landscape of contemporary Istanbul, are enacted and reproduced in Çağlayan on a daily basis.

    #Istanbul #opposition #espace_public #manifestation #justice

  • Ainsi donc, Max Blumenthal s’attaque frontalement au lobby de la « no-fly zone » en Syrie, avec un long passage sur les « Casques blancs » :

    Il y a une évolution assez étonnante depuis, disons, cet été. En dehors de As‘ad Abukhalil (Angry Arab), toute cette partie de la gauche pro-palestinienne aux États-Unis avait assez soigneusement évité d’écrire explicitement contre la campagne de changement de régime en Syrie.

    Mais depuis cet été, Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada) rentre régulièrement dans le lard du « néoconservateur Charles Lister ». Sa collègue Rania Khalek est désormais tellement ouvertement critique qu’elle semble focaliser sur elle les critiques du fan club de la rébellitude syrienne. Et dans les échanges sur Twitter, Max Blumenthal s’était joint aux deux précédents et les a clairement soutenus contre « le lobby de la NFZ ».

    Mais je suis tout de même étonné de le voir aujourd’hui publier une enquête aussi longue, en pleine campagne militaro-médiatique sur Alep, avec les Casques blancs que l’on pousse pour le Nobel de la Paix, et qui démonte aussi longuement le lobby au service d’une intervention militaire américaine de changement de régime.

    Pour rappel : en juin 2012, Max Blumenthal avait quitté le Akhbar en le dénonçant, d’une manière assez indigne, comme « pro-Assad » :

    Alors qu’il y a un argument, dans son long article du jour, qu’il aurait immanquablement reproché à un auteur du Akhbar à l’époque :

    Asfari’s support for opposition forces was so pronounced the Syrian government filed a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of supporting “terrorism.”

    Oui, là il utilise la classification comme terroriste, par le régime même, d’un de ses opposants, pour prouver ce qu’il affirme sur cet individu (certes, il a beaucoup d’autres arguments, mais qu’il commence à évoquer Asfari avec un tel argument me semble très… hum…).

    On n’a pas fini de lire des éructations indignées contre "cette gauche" pro-palestinienne et anti-impérialiste ; je pense même que ça va redevenir une priorité du fan-club, parce qu’il y a là pour eux un grave problème de légitimité militante.

  • ’Shi’a Forces’, ’Iraqi Army’, and the Perils of Sect-Coding

    Controversial semantics are of course not unique to sect-coding and the Middle East. Consider the role of religious identity in whether an event is labeled a “terrorist attack” or a “mass shooting.” However, there has been a strange ubiquity and persistence about the sect-coding of all things Iraqi since 2003 (a pattern that has been replicated with Syria). Thirteen years after regime change, even some of the world’s most esteemed academics can casually refer to the Iraqi army as “Shiʿa forces.”

    There is no need to debate the undeniable relevance of sectarian identity in post-2003 Iraq. Nor is there much uncertainty about the centricity of sect to many in Iraq’s political classes (and not just the Shiʿas amongst them). However, this should not be grounds for the sect-coding of all things related to the Iraqi state—let alone all things related to Iraq. Yet all too often, that is precisely what we see. More to the point is the fact that what drives this sort of sect-coding is far more serious than just an objective assessment of the perceived balance of power between sect-centric forces. Rather, it is a value judgment on the legitimacy of the post-2003 Iraqi state.

    Rightly or wrongly, the national is generally viewed if not equated with legitimacy, legality, and modernity. As such, to sect-code a government or arm of the state is to de-nationalize and hence delegitimize it. Nowhere is this more the case than in Iraq where the legitimacy of the state has been violently contested since 2003. That contest means that one cannot use terms like “Shiʿa forces”, “Shiʿa government,” and the like without appearing to take sides in the contentious debate about the legitimacy of the Iraqi state. And in a way the reverse is similarly true: to insist on the use of “Iraqi forces” or “Iraqi state forces” is also to take sides in the struggle over the Iraqi state’s legitimacy— this time defending the legitimacy of the Iraqi state.

  • Victoire électorale d’Ashraf Rifi à Tripoli (Liban). Les éléments de langage sont déjà en place depuis un moment : « grassroot », « fils d’un meunier », « issu d’un quartier populaire »… et pour Gulfnews, il serait carrément : « le nouveau leader des sunnites au Liban » :

    The hugely popular Rifi has unquestionably emerged as the new leader of Sunnis in Lebanon.

    Les milices ? Les investissements immobiliers sur le littoral ? Les enjeux saoudiens dans le Nord du Liban ? Meeeehh…

  • Un désaccord autour des moukhtars risque d’ébranler la coalition http://www.lorientlejour.com/article/984205/un-desaccord-autour-des-moukhtars-risque-debranler-la-coalition.html

    Le temps presse, et au cas où le blocage persisterait, le parti du général Aoun finirait par retirer Joseph Traboulsi et soutenir la liste Beyrouth Madinati ou même celle de Charbel Nahas, souligne-t-on dans les milieux aounistes où l’on reconnaît qu’une telle décision correspond davantage aux orientations et aux sympathies de la base du parti. Sa participation à la liste de coalition pour les municipales se justifie par une volonté d’ouverture sur toutes les parties, celle-ci ayant commencé avec le Hezbollah, puis, plusieurs années plus tard, avec les FL, selon les mêmes sources.

    Toujours est-il qu’un éventuel retrait aouniste des Beyrouthins importunerait le chef du courant du Futur, engagé à fond dans la bataille électorale sur base du respect de la parité, dans la mesure où il risque de favoriser le panachage et d’augmenter les chances de Beyrouth Madinati, bénéficiant d’une forte sympathie populaire, de percer la liste adverse.

    Donc les électeurs aounistes préfèrent la liste Beyrouth Madinati, voir celle de Charbel Nahas, mais le parti préfèr(ait) un accord électoral avec ses ennemis politiques dans le but tout à fait clair de neutraliser la liberté des électeurs.

    Ce qui correspond à ce que décrit l’excellent texte de Sami Attalah sur Jadaliyya:On Municipal Elections in Lebanon and the Prospects of Change

    In reality, alliances that political parties form along with families and clans for joint electoral lists are hampering the role of municipalities as actors for development. This brings us to the second challenge: namely, the formation of joint lists to avoid competition. This process has two consequences. The first is that many segments of society are not represented, especially women, youth, and marginalized groups, as sects, families, and clans take precedence. The second consequence is that elections—even those which are competitive—often result in the elected council being an ineffective assemblage of interest groups with very little in common. Elected councilpersons have no common program or platform to promote development nor the motivation to work together. Their aim is often confined to serving the interests of a narrow group that brought them to power while ignoring developmental issues. In other words, the political system has favored a select type of representation at the expense of forwarding the interests of citizens.

    • Scarlett Haddad sort les rames pour essayer d’expliquer le choix du parti aouniste… Mais ce faisant, risque de provoquer la question vitale : de quoi le CPL peut-il encore se revendiquer pour justifier qu’il serait un parti différent des autres ? (Poser la question, malheureusement, c’est déjà y répondre de manière cruelle.)

      La participation aouniste à la liste des « Beyrouthins » : des messages politiques au courant du Futur

      La décision de participer à cette liste, formée pratiquement par le courant du Futur, a donc été soigneusement réfléchie et elle vise d’abord à permettre au CPL d’être pour la première fois au sein du conseil municipal de Beyrouth si la liste des « Beyrouthins » est élue. Si la liste est élue « telle quelle », selon le slogan lancé par Saad Hariri, le poids du CPL ne sera pas déterminant, loin de là (trois sur 12 chrétiens), mais au moins ce parti aura un pied dans l’engrenage et pourra, le cas échéant, tenter de stopper des décisions qu’il ne jugera pas conformes à ses convictions ou au contraire pousser vers l’adoption de décisions qui vont dans le sens des campagnes politiques et sociales qu’il mène.

      Mais le plus important est le fait que, par sa participation à cette liste, même avec une représentation réduite, le CPL adresse un message fort au courant du Futur et à travers lui à la communauté sunnite. D’abord, il est en train de dire au courant du Futur et à tous ceux qui mettent en doute ses véritables intentions qu’il ne cherche pas à remettre en cause l’accord de Taëf et ses dispositions. Il respecte le système tel qu’il est, et tout ce qu’il réclame, c’est un véritable partenariat entre les chrétiens et les musulmans, conformément aux dispositions de l’accord de Taëf. À Beyrouth, il est clair que le nombre des électeurs sunnites est de loin le plus important, par conséquent, le CPL trouve normal que ce soit le courant du Futur qui détermine les parts. D’ailleurs, le conflit de dernière heure au sujet des moukhtars n’était pas tant avec le courant du Futur qu’avec les autres parties chrétiennes. Dans ce contexte, si le CPL réclame que les députés chrétiens soient choisis par les électeurs chrétiens, il ne veut pas non plus que les représentants des sunnites soient choisis par les chrétiens. Enfin, l’ultime message de la participation du CPL à la liste des « Beyrouthins » est de montrer à ceux qui ne cessent d’affirmer qu’il est difficile, voire impossible, de s’entendre avec le général Michel Aoun que ce dernier peut être, quand il le faut, un homme de compromis fiable...

  • The Armed Forces and Egypt’s land | Mada Masr

    In February, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree to direct the Armed Forces Land Projects Agency (AFLPA) to oversee construction of two of Egypt’s mega-projects to be built on 16,000 acres under military control: the new capital city and Sheikh Zeyad’s new urban community. The decree granted AFLPA the power to form joint ventures.

    The move is indicative of the political direction increasingly taken by Egypt’s authorities to expand the Armed Forces’ involvement in the economy. This military involvement does not only take the form of oversight and contractual management, but increasingly is articulated through the formation of joint venture investments wherein the military allocates desert land under its control – land whose value is expected to appreciate markedly – to companies affiliated with the Armed Forces, as a capital investment.

    Does allowing the AFLPA to form joint ventures signal a major transformation in the military’s role in Egypt’s economy?

    • First, it establishes a legal framework to allow the Armed Forces to use desert land as an investment. Egyptian jurisprudence’s historical attention to national defense has led to the consolidation of desert lands under the control of the Armed Forces. Most desert land fell under the control of the Armed Forces in the 1950s and 1960s. At the time, desert land had little economic value, as Egypt’s population was concentrated in the Nile Valley and the Delta – a situation that has completely changed over the last three decades. Economic and population growth have become increasingly dependent on expansion into Egypt’s once uninhabitable deserts. Expansion has taken the form of land reclamation and housing projects, new industrial cities and tourist attractions. The development of each of these initiatives is contingent upon access to affordable desert land, which the government has been able to provide using the compensatory framework of the original desert land law: the Armed Forces is paid for the utility costs incurred during its relocation. However, in reality, the state and the military, often indivisible, have used desert land to acquire economic gains, either through the outright sale of land or through the recent practice of using land as a capital investment in urban development companies.

      Second, the recent presidential decree changes the way in which the Armed Forces use desert land. Access to desert land has allowed the NSPO to transform Egypt’s transportation infrastructure through the construction of roads, overpasses and tunnels. However, now – as evinced by the government’s projects in the administrative capital and the Suez Canal channel, as well as in affordable housing – the Armed Forces have pivoted and will commence a foray into urban and industrial projects as well as logistical services. The move may augur AFLPA’s more frequent use of its land possessions as capital investments in joint ventures with Arab and international investors.

      Il y a qqs mois sur le même sujet : Barayez A.-F., 2016, « This Land is their Land »: Egypt’s Military and the Economy, in Jadaliyya, < http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/23671/« this-land-is-their-land »_egypt’s-military-and-the >

  • “Cleaning out the Ghettos” - Urban Governance and the Remaking of Kurdistan

    Over the last couple of weeks, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the ruling AKP government have started to lay out the details of the government’s master plan for urban renewal in Turkey’s conflict-ridden Kurdish region in Southeast Anatolia. Though the government announced on 9 March that military operations in Sur had been completed, many of the aspects of the plans remain ambiguous. Nonetheless, it is evident that the government’s aim is to achieve a dramatic spatial and socio-economic reconfiguration of the region. For example, Davutoğlu announced a ten-point “master plan” for Kurdish cities in Turkey that ties notions of terrorism to economic underdevelopment and the languishing nature of urban life in the region. In the announcement, he rebuked HDP municipal leaders in the region for “supporting terrorism instead of making investments,” promising to “fortify” the region’s economy by deferring debts for tradesmen, artists, and farmers, and by offering new loans. And he promised to rebuild Diyarbakır’s historical Sur district “so well that humanity will come back to life” (“Sur’u öyle bir inşa edeceğiz ki insanlık ihya olacak”). In early March, similarly, Davutoğlu announced a “great reconstruction...through which the state will demonstrate its constructive capacity” (“Devlet inşa kudretini de gösterecektir”) to begin in Silopi—a district in the Southeastern city of Şırnak that was set under curfew for over a month until mid-January.

    In this article, we discuss how these ideas of revitalization and urban transformation fit into the larger war that the Turkish government has been waging in Kurdistan for the past several months. We examine how the discourses of public housing and ghettoization intersect in order to understand the connections between the capitalization and governmentalization of urban space in Kurdistan. In Turkey, public housing has long been a tool for reorganizing urban spaces and the people who inhabit them. The urban transformation and gentrification of Istanbul, for example, has been the subject of countless academic articles as well as of the acclaimed documentary Ekümenopolis. Conversely, the notion of Kurdish city centers as “ghettos” constitutes a unique discursive turn worth exploring. By forcibly displacing whatever “innocent” civilians may have inhabited these urban spaces and consequently pathologizing these spaces as blighted by terrorism, the Turkish government has legitimized the wholesale liquidation of anyone who did not (or could not) flee from the military occupation. And it has set the stage for long-term forms of structural and economic violence aimed at stamping out oppositional Kurdish lifeworlds.

    #Guerre #Kurdistan #Urbanisation #TOKI #Capitalisme #Urbicide