123 episodes

Discussing news and innovations in the Middle East.

POMEPS Conversations Marc Lynch

    • Education
    • 4.3 • 9 Ratings

Discussing news and innovations in the Middle East.

    When Blame Backfires: A Conversation with Anne Marie Baylouny (S. 9, Ep. 8)

    When Blame Backfires: A Conversation with Anne Marie Baylouny (S. 9, Ep. 8)

    Anne Marie Baylouny talks about her latest book, When Blame Backfires: Syrian Refugees and Citizen Grievances in Jordan and Lebanon, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. The book explains how the recent influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan and Lebanon has stimulated domestic political action against these countries' governments.

    Baylouny explains, “So usually these governments use all kinds of groups…to blame for their faults. Oh we can't provide this. We have water shortage because of the Iraqis. This problem with the government is because of another group and they blame them for all their lack of state capacity. So here you have an overwhelming number of Syrians over a quarter of Lebanon's population and at least 10 percent of Jordan's, probably their first and second in the world for refugees per capita. And they're foreigners and a lot of them are poor and they came in in masses…So you have they have all the elements that you would expect states to be able to successfully deflect blame from themselves on to that minority or foreign group.”

    She goes on to say, “They [the Syrians] were welcomed very well by the Lebanese and Jordanians in the beginning. Then the honeymoon period ran out and the numbers got very large. And the Jordanians and Lebanese universally started to blame things on the Syrians…They're using too much water etc. but they didn't do the second part of scapegoating. The second part of scapegoating is when you basically dissolve responsibility from the state or government for that problem. So you blame Syrians and you go back to your couch…Instead they blamed the government said you need to provide us housing, you need to provide us better schools, you need to provide us water, electricity, you need to fix the problem. The Syrians may have caused them but you need to fix them. And they mobilized. They began mobilizing against the government.”

    She argues, “They [the Jordanians] needed housing…And they demanded from the government that it provide them housing. So here you have people who are clear that the fault is the Syrians…but the Syrians can't provide them housing. And later on the Syrians can't provide them water. They can't provide electricity…Because deflecting blame onto the Syrians away from the government—people can see right through that because they still need those goods to be provided. So they [the Jordanians] prioritize solutions over the psychological satisfaction of scapegoating and blaming somebody else for all your problems.”

    Anne Marie Baylouny is associate professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, specializing in Middle East politics, grassroots organizing, and Islam. Baylouny received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.  Her recent work includes publications on militia governments in the Lebanese civil war, Hezbollah’s media messages, and authority in ungoverned spaces. Baylouny has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards—Fulbright, the Social Science Research Council, and the Mellon Foundation, among others.

    Music for this season's podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ferasarrabimusic)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/feras.arrabi/)page.

    • 32 min
    Quagmire in Civil War: A Conversation with Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (S. 9, Ep. 7)

    Quagmire in Civil War: A Conversation with Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl (S. 9, Ep. 7)

    Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl talks about his latest book, Quagmire in Civil War, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. His book explains he explains how quagmire can emerge from domestic-international interactions and strategic choices and draws upon field research on Lebanon's sixteen-year civil war, structured comparisons with civil wars in Chad and Yemen, and rigorous statistical analyses of all civil wars worldwide fought between 1944 and 2006.

    Schulhofer-Wohl explains, “I was very interested in digging into an idea of how it was that the groups that are fighting in civil wars can become trapped in a war…There are some wars in which it looks like for whatever reason the armed groups that are fighting in them are unable to win the war. They're unable to negotiate to make a settlement and the war just drags on. But there's something about that that's different from just a war that lasts for a very long time.”

    He goes on to say, “The book makes the point that we kind of have a default view of entrapment and civil war that it's based on underlying characteristics of a country or a war. So the Obama administration, for example, had a view that current conflicts in the Middle East are just incredibly complicated…And these are conflicts the United States shouldn't get involved in because they're going to be overly complicated and then they're going to be something that will entrap everyone. And by taking this strategic decision making perspective, the book actually outlines an argument that's the opposite of that, which is to say it's based on the choices that are being made by the foreign states, by the armed groups fighting the war. And it's these choices that lead to quagmire—not anything particular about the nature of the country or the kind of war that's being fought.”

    “I'm also trying to outline an argument for quagmire that's different from what you might hear normally about foreign interference and civil wars, which is that a country is trapped in conflict because that's what the foreign backers want. You'll hear some people argue that what regional powers in the Middle East want is just to keep Libya in a permanent state of warfare or to keep Yemen in a permanent state of warfare to keep Syria like that…And what I'm saying is that that's one possibility…But I also want to understand, is it possible that through taking rational decisions based on their self-interests—that don't have to do with wanting to keep a country in a state of conflict—it might nevertheless end up that way,” said Schulhofer-Wohl .

    Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Leiden University. His research agenda, on the conduct of civil wars, includes an empirical focus on the Middle East, but addresses questions about civil wars as a general matter, and draws on comparisons across diverse countries. Before joining the faculty at Leiden, Schulhofer-Wohl taught at the University of Virginia and as a visiting assistant professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University.

    Music for this season's podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ferasarrabimusic)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/feras.arrabi/)page.

    • 32 min
    For the War Yet to Come: A Conversation with Hiba Bou Akar (S. 9, Ep. 6)

    For the War Yet to Come: A Conversation with Hiba Bou Akar (S. 9, Ep. 6)

    Hiba Bou Akar talks about her latest book, For the War Yet to Come: Planning Beirut’s Frontiers, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. The book examines urban planning in three neighborhoods of Beirut's southeastern peripheries, revealing how these areas have been developed into frontiers of a continuing sectarian order.

    Bou Akar explains, “So I start looking at the planning and how these residential complexes ended up mushrooming in an agricultural area but also next to inductees and eventually like a whole world starts opening to me about how… war displacement has shaped the housing market. There are political organizations that are fighting over territory after the war. And how planning is a tool in that conflict. It would sometimes be of negotiation and sometimes of contestation.”

    She goes on to say, “So the [idea of], For The War Yet to Come ends up being like this expectation of war that is either going to be like an Arab-Israeli war…or sectarian war, a regional war or whatever; that ends up shaping how people make decisions about where they live. Religious political organizations end up using this idea to keep people in strongholds. They intervene in the housing market…access to, for example, airports or to the waterfront etc...As a person who grew up in the Civil War and was personally displaced six times, I think I was haunted by the idea: What does it mean to live in a place where we were always expecting something disastrous to happen in the future?”

    “It was interesting to me because if you want to take a theoretical l lens I was like, people don't talk about when they think about land as Christian land you know like thinking about for example New York or other places in the world. And the fact that the land is talked about in…a religious terminology was interesting to me. And then when you map religion and sectarianism to land then anyone who is trying to just secure housing becomes like oh what is your religion, oh you're taking over , you’re Islamizing. And then you go from Islamizing for example the neighborhood to Islamizing the Middle East...It goes from one apartment or building blocks to becoming, on TV, Islamization of Lebanon…And so I got fascinated by the idea how people, without even blinking, assigned religion to land,” said Bou Akar.

    Hiba Bou Akar is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Planning program at Columbia GSAPP. Her research focuses on planning in conflict and post-conflict cities, the question of urban security and violence, and the role of religious political organizations in the making of cities. Bou Akar’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Wenner- Gren Foundation, and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS). Bou Akar received her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning with a designated emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and Master in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    Music for this season's podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ferasarrabimusic)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/feras.arrabi/)page.

    • 29 min
    Seeking Legitimacy: A Conversation with Aili Tripp (S. 9, Ep. 4)

    Seeking Legitimacy: A Conversation with Aili Tripp (S. 9, Ep. 4)

    Aili Tripp talks about her latest book, Seeking Legitimacy: Why Arab Autocracies Adopt Women’s Rights, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. The book explores why autocratic leaders in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria embraced more legal reforms of women’s rights than their Middle Eastern counterparts, and how women’s rights were used to advance the political goals of these authoritarian regimes.

    Tripp explains, “I was interested in the fact that you have this growing divergence within the MENA region itself in terms of the adoption of women’s rights, yet people keep talking about the region as one monolith when it came to women’s rights.

    “The fact that women’s rights are such a central theme in north African politics. I mean nothing happens without the issue of women’s rights coming to the floor somehow as we saw at the time of independence in Algeria, as we saw after the Arab Spring in Tunisia with the debates over the constitution in 2011,” notes Tripp.

    Tripp says, “Why are autocrats adopting women’s rights legislation and making constitutional provisions and promoting women as leaders? In a nutshell, my argument has to do with some of the strategic interaction that goes on between the ruling parties, which in the case of Tunisia and Morocco for the time period I’m looking at are Islamist parties. Between the regime and these Islamist parties and the various Islamist movements in these countries and the interaction with women’s movements this interaction between these various actors has resulted in an unprecedented advancement in women’s rights.”

    Aili Mari Tripp is Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies and Chair of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Tripp’s research has focused on women and politics in Africa, women’s movements in Africa, women and peacebuilding, transnational feminism, African politics (with particular reference to Uganda and Tanzania), and on the informal economy in Africa. Her current research involves a comparative study of women and legal reform in North Africa.

    Music for this season's podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ferasarrabimusic)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/feras.arrabi/)page.

    • 30 min
    Cleft Capitalism: A Conversation with Amr Adly (S. 9, Ep. 3)

    Cleft Capitalism: A Conversation with Amr Adly (S. 9, Ep. 3)

    Amr Adly talks about his latest book, Cleft Capitalism: The Social Origins of Failed Market Making in Egypt, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. The book explores why market-based economic development failed to meet expectations in Egypt.

    “The main argument is that we have three business systems in Egypt in reference to rules formal as well as informal and mixes of the two, according to which different business establishments have been operating. And the crucial thing really is how their access to physical and financial capital has been regulated.”

    “The main point here is that the vast majority of private establishments, the ones that are strictly owned by private individuals, have suffered from a chronic under structuring under capitalization when it comes to access to back credit given of course the structure of the financial system in Egypt, which is very much bank-based, as well as access to land.”

    "One of the problems here is that you have a banking system in Egypt that is still very much controlled by the state. You have very large state-owned banks that still hold up something between one-third and forty percent of the total assets of the banking system. Despite rounds of privatization and liberalization and even without this crucial factor of the direct state ownership of the big banks, you have state regulation that is both formal as well as informal. All of these networks that have historically tied state-owned enterprises and then later on private businesses that are like crony businessmen that have been related to the successive ruling regimes in Egypt, all of these have created a regulatory environment that made it extremely hard for those who lack either initial capital or political and social capital. 

    Amr Adly is an assistant professor in the department of political science at The American University in Cairo. He worked as a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center. He has also worked as a project manager at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow. Adly received his Ph.D. from the European University Institute in Florence. He is also the author of State Reform and Development in the Middle East: The Cases of Turkey and Egypt (Routledge, 2012).

    Music for this season's podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ferasarrabimusic)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/feras.arrabi/)page.

    • 30 min
    Graveyard of Clerics: A Conversation with Pascal Menoret (S. 9, Ep. 2)

    Graveyard of Clerics: A Conversation with Pascal Menoret (S. 9, Ep. 2)

    Pascal Menoret talks about his latest book, Graveyard of Clerics: Everyday Activism in Saudi Arabia, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. In the book, he tells the stories of the people actively countering the Saudi state and highlights how people can organize and protest even amid increasingly intense police repression.

    Menoret explains, “Basically what happens in the suburbs is that it's a fixed place where people could congregate and create mass movements by the presence or the co presence of their bodies. On the street what you have is moving entities-moving devices-moving tools, automobiles that can be used to reconstitute movements to protest sometimes and to create that effect of mass that might change the political dynamic in the country.”

    “I was interested in looking at…what activists call Islamic action…in everyday spaces. And these big figures indeed become parts of much more grounded conversations about the meaning of, for instance, what it means to read books…what it means to read novels for young activists who gather in a high school and some of whom are interested in reading Harry Potter. That's a great challenge because they decide that you know first of all reading is a training and it's trains you to use the language to think, to speak, but it's also a way for you to get exposed to other ways to look at the world and therefore you can only make your own you know self-construction as a reader but also as an activist stronger; you become more articulate,” he explains.

    Menoret goes on to say, “Muslim Brothers will tend to use many more spaces to organize and to create conversations and to create numbers and to create an atmosphere in which you can actually talk about social issues. You can talk about intellectual issues, you can talk about political issues, they will use sports to do that, they would use leisure spaces…they will use the suburbs actually. They will really have a whole thinking about what it means to be living in the suburbs and to organize in suburban environments whereas the Salafis…tend to be much closer to the religious sciences right into a space that is much more exclusive in many ways…”

    Pascal Menoret is the Renee and Lester Crown Professor of Modern Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. He is the author of The Saudi Enigma: A History (2005) and Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (2014), Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (Cambridge University Press 2014), Arabia, from the Incense Road to the Oil Era (Gallimard 2010, in French), and The Saudi Enigma: A History (Zed Books 2005). An ethnographer and historian, he conducted four years of fieldwork in Saudi Arabia and has also lived in France, Yemen, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Paris 1 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University and Harvard University.

    Music for this season's podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ferasarrabimusic)and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/feras.arrabi/)page.

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

WinstonDA ,

Excellent source

For those looking beyond headlines about news in the Middle East, this podcast is a must. These conversations provide excellent analysis and astute context to the challenges and opportunities facing the region, and those who study it, today.

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