Most of the literature that seeks to explain sectarianism in Lebanon focuses on its history or on the regional and geopolitical dynamics associated with it. Relatively few studies have examined the internal factors that shape the process of sectarianization and sustain sectarianism today. However, if one does not first understand the present dynamics of sectarianism and the material and structural factors that shape it, then exploring the history of the phenomenon in an attempt to locate its “roots” is unlikely to be very illuminating. This essay seeks to shed light on the current political economy of sectarianism in Lebanon so as to advance our understanding of this phenomenon.
Despite deep internal divisions, a massive security threat from ISIS, and a fiscal collapse due to low oil prices, the Iraqi government is struggling to move the country forward and deserves urgent support from international and regional players.
Russian President Vladimir Putin surprised observers when he announced on March 14 that he is going to begin withdrawing Russian military forces from Syria. MEI’s Randa Slim has worked extensively with all parties on the Syrian conflict, including Russian participants, as the institute’s Director of Track II Dialogues. She discusses with MEI’s Senior Editor, Antoun Issa, the meaning of Putin’s decision.
Iraqi Kurdish journalist Mohammed A. Salih explores the impact of low oil prices on Iraqi Kurdistan. Deepening economic and financial crises in Iraq’s Kurdish region are likely to impose limitations on the semi-autonomous region’s quest for statehood. However, this does not suggest that a rapprochement between the Kurds and federal authorities in Baghdad is imminent. If unaddressed, a prolonged state of economic crisis and budget deficits will also add more strain on the ability of the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) to finance the costly war against the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS, which could potentially affect morale within Kurdish peshmerga ranks.
Qatar’s recent cabinet reshuffle marks the latest step in the tiny emirate’s shift away from its high-profile regional activities under former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, to the more discreet role of his son and current emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
Saudi Arabia has come under intense scrutiny in recent months. Much of it centers on its more assertive and less accommodating foreign policy, as manifested in its unprecedented military campaign in Yemen.
Gonul Tol, director of MEI's Center for Turkish Studies, delivered the following testimony at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats on February 3, 2016.