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April 24, 2019
12:00pm - 1:30pm

Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505

Matt Buehler will discuss his new book Why Alliances Fail: Islamist and Leftist Coalitions in North Africa, with POMEPS on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at the Elliot School of International Affairs, Room 505.

Since 2011, the Arab world has seen a number of autocrats, including leaders from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, fall from power. Yet, in the wake of these political upheavals, only one state, Tunisia, transitioned successfully from authoritarianism to democracy. Opposition parties forged a durable and long-term alliance there, which supported democratization. Similar pacts failed in Morocco and Mauritania, however. In Why Alliances Fail, Buehler explores the circumstances under which stable, enduring alliances are built to contest authoritarian regimes, marshaling evidence from coalitions between North Africa’s Islamists and leftists. Buehler draws on nearly two years of Arabic fieldwork interviews, original statistics, and archival research, including interviews with the first Islamist prime minister in Moroccan history, Abdelilah Benkirane. Introducing a theory of alliance durability, Buehler explains how the nature of an opposition party’s social base shapes the robustness of alliances it builds with other parties. He also examines the social origins of authoritarian regimes, concluding that those regimes that successfully harnessed the social forces of rural isolation and clientelism were most effective at resisting the pressure for democracy that opposition parties exerted. With fresh insight and compelling arguments, Why Alliances Fail carries vital implications for understanding the mechanisms driving authoritarian persistence in the Arab world and beyond.

Matt Buehler is a Global Security Fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and an assistant professor of political science at the University of Tennessee.

Free copies of the book will be available for students

A light lunch will be provided

April 11, 2019
12:00pm - 1:30pm

Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505

POMEPS is pleased to announce the Washington, D.C., book launch of Winning Hearts and Votes: Social Services and the Islamist Political Advantage by Steven T. Brooke. In Winning Hearts and Votes, Steven Brooke argues that authoritarians often seek to manage moments of economic crisis by offloading social welfare responsibilities to non-state providers. But providers who serve poorer citizens, motivated by either charity of clientelism, will be constrained in their ability to mobilize voters because the poor depend on the state for many different goods. Organizations that serve paying customers, in contrast, may produce high quality, consistent, and effective services. This type of provision generates powerful, reputation-based linkages with a middle-class constituency more likely to support the provider on election day.

Steven Brooke is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Louisville and Associate Fellow (Non-Resident) at the Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School.

Free copies of the book will be available for students

A light lunch will be provided

April 9, 2019
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505

Jillian Schwedler will discuss the latest issue of the Middle East Report: The Fight for Yemen along with Kate Kizerand Waleed Alhariri with POMEPS on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at 4PM at the Elliot School of International Affairs, Room 505.

The ongoing war in Yemen that began in 2015 has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The scope of destruction and human suffering is catastrophic: hundreds of thousands are dead from bombing, war-related disease and malnutrition and millions remain on the brink of famine without access to drinking water or medicine. While critical awareness of the magnitude of the crisis is growing, the political and economic roots of the crisis and the complex realities of Yemeni political life are often obscured by misunderstandings.  Contributors to The Fight for Yemen disentangle the social, political and economic factors that are behind the war, the cataclysmic impact of the war on Yemeni society, particularly its women, and introduce readers to the complex realities within Yemen in order to create a just peace.

Jillian Schwedler is a professor of political science at Hunter College of The City University of New York. She is author of Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen (2006), editor of Understanding the Contemporary Middle East (2013), and co-editor of Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion (2010). She is a member of the Middle East Research and Information Project’s Board of Directors and a Special Editor of the current issue.

Kate Kizer is the policy director at Win Without War, which seeks to establish a more progressive U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy. Previously she was the director of policy and advocacy at the Yemen Peace Project, a non-profit that advocates for the rights and interests of Yemeni Americans and for constructive U.S. policies toward Yemen.

Waleed Alhariri, Fellow-in-Residence at Columbia Law School, heads the New York office of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies (SCSS) and the center’s US-based operations generally. His work includes advising the international diplomatic community, UN agencies and INGOs on key Yemen-related policy issues. Alhariri leads the center’s US-based research and project development, and authors the monthly report “Yemen at the UN”, which assesses the efforts of the UN Security Council and the international community in relation to the Yemen crisis. Alhariri is also a Carnegie New Leader at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

Free copies of the issue will be available.

April 8, 2019
12:00pm - 1:30pm

Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505

Lisel Hintz will discuss her new book Identity Politics Inside Out: National Identity Contestation and Foreign Policy in Turkey, with POMEPS on Monday, April 8, 2019 at the Elliot School of International Affairs, Room 505.

In this book, Hintz writes about the complex link between identity politics and foreign policy using an in-depth study of Turkey. Rather than treating national identity as cause or consequence of a state’s foreign policy, she repositions foreign policy as an arena in which contestation among competing proposals for national identity takes place.

Dr. Lisel Hintz is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She works at the intersection of identity politics and foreign policy. She is particularly interested in how domestic identity struggles spill over to shape, and be shaped by international affairs. Her regional focus is on Turkey and its relations with Europe and the Middle East. She received her PhD in Political Science from George Washington University, was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, and was Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University.

Free copies of the book will be available for students

A light lunch will be provided

March 21, 2019
12:00pm - 1:00pm

Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505

Ariel I. Ahram will discuss his new book, Break All the Borders(Oxford University Press, 2019), with POMEPS on Thursday, March 21, 2019 at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505. In Break all the Borders, Ariel I. Ahram examines the separatist movements that aimed to remake the borders of the Arab world and create new independent states. With detailed studies of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the federalists in eastern Libya, the southern resistance in Yemen, and Kurdish nationalist parties, Ahram explains how separatists captured territory and handled the tasks of rebel governance, including managing oil exports, electricity grids, and irrigation networks.

Ariel I. Ahram is Associate Professor in the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs in Alexandria, Virginia, and non-resident fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. He earned a Ph.D. in government and M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown and B.A., summa cum laude, from Brandeis. He writes widely on security issues in the Middle East and North Africa. He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. and has spoken and lectured at the World Bank, Marine Corps University, and the German Institute for Global Affairs. In 2015, he testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Islamic State’s abuses of women and children.

Free copies of the book will be available for students

A light lunch will be provided

March 4, 2019
12:00pm - 1:30pm

Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505

Dina Bishara will discuss her new book, Contesting Authoritarianism: Labor Challenges to the State in Egypt, with POMEPS on Monday, March 4, 2019 at the Elliot School of International Affairs, Room 505.

In this book, Bishara examines the relationship between labour organizations and the state in Egypt to shed light on how political change occurs within an authoritarian government, and to show how ordinary Egyptians perceive the government’s rule. Moving beyond conventional accounts of top-down control, this book explores when and how institutions designed for political control become contested from below.

Dina Bishara is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Alabama. Her research focuses on state-labor relations, social and protest movements under authoritarian rule, and transitions from authoritarian rule. Prior to joining the Belfer Center, Dina was the Jarvis Doctorow Research Fellow in the Politics and International Relations of the Middle East at the University of Oxford and a Research Fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University. Dina was an associate at the Belfer Center’s Middle East Initiative and former postdoctoral research fellow (2015-2016).

Free copies of the book will be available for students

A light lunch will be provided

February 14, 2019
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM

Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Commons

Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili will discuss their new book, Triadic Coercion: Israel’s Targeting of States That Host Nonstate Actors (Columbia University Press, 2018), with POMEPS on Thursday, February 14, 2019 at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Family Commons.

In the post–Cold War era, states increasingly find themselves in conflicts with nonstate actors. Finding it difficult to fight these opponents directly, many governments instead target states that harbor or aid nonstate actors, using threats and punishment to coerce host states into stopping those groups.

Wendy Pearlman and Boaz Atzili investigate this strategy, which they term triadic coercion. They explain why states pursue triadic coercion, evaluate the conditions under which it succeeds, and demonstrate their arguments across seventy years of Israeli history. This rich analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict, supplemented with insights from India and Turkey, yields surprising findings. Traditional discussions of interstate conflict assume that the greater a state’s power compared to its opponent, the more successful its coercion. Turning that logic on its head, Pearlman and Atzili show that this strategy can be more effective against a strong host state than a weak one because host regimes need internal cohesion and institutional capacity to move against nonstate actors. If triadic coercion is thus likely to fail against weak regimes, why do states nevertheless employ it against them? Pearlman and Atzili’s investigation of Israeli decision-making points to the role of strategic culture. A state’s system of beliefs, values, and institutionalized practices can encourage coercion as a necessary response, even when that policy is prone to backfire.

Wendy Pearlman is an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University, where she also holds the Martin and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professorship and is a faculty fellow at the Buffett Institute for Global Studies. Boaz Atzili is an associate professor and the Director of Doctoral Studies at the School of International Service (SIS) in American University, Washington DC.

Free copies of the book will be available for students

A light lunch will be provided

January 24, 2019

Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505

Ziya Meral will discuss his new book, How Violence Shapes Religion: Belief and Conflict in the Middle East and Africa(Cambridge University Press, 2018), with POMEPS on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at the Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 505.

Is there an inevitable global violent clash unfolding between the world’s largest religions: Islam and Christianity? Do religions cause violent conflicts, or are there other factors at play? How can we make sense of increasing reports of violence between Christian and Muslim ethnic communities across the world? By seeking to answer such questions about the relationship between religion and violence in today’s world, Ziya Meral challenges popular theories and offers an alternative explanation, grounded on insights inferred from real cases of ethno-religious violence in Africa and the Middle East. The relationship between religion and violence runs deep and both are intrinsic to the human story. Violence leads to and shapes religion, while religion acts to enable violence as well as providing responses that contain and prevent it. However, with religious violence being one of the most serious challenges facing the modern world, Meral shows that we need to de-globalise our analysis and focus on individual conflicts, instead of attempting to provide single answers to complex questions.

Ziya Meral is a British and Turkish researcher. He specializes on politics and foreign policies of Turkey and Middle East, thematic issues surrounding interaction of religion with global affairs, and British defence and security. He is a Senior Resident Fellow at the UK Army’s new Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research – a civilian and military think tank providing independent analysis and research on defence and security based at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  He is also the Director of the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs, based in London and Beirut. He regularly serves as an advisor and consultant to various projects, companies and as a board member to charitable initiatives in the UK and Middle East.

He will be joined by discussants Stacey Philbrick Yadav and Thomas Hegghammer. Stacey Philbrick Yadav is an associate professor of political science and chair of the international relations program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She is the author of Islamists and the State: Legitimacy and Institutions in Yemen and Lebanon (I.B. Tauris, 2013). Thomas Hegghammer is a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI) and adjunct professor of political science at the University of Oslo. Among his authored books are Jihadi Culture (Cambridge 2017) and Jihad in Saudi Arabia (Cambridge 2010).

Free copies of the book will be available for students

Presented by the Middle East Policy Forum

Amb. Gnehm discusses the conundrum the U.S. faces in protecting its interests in the Middle East. For four decades America has actively engaged in the region utilizing at various times force and diplomacy. The looming question is whether U.S. actions have achieved their stated objectives. The lecture focuses on the current threats to U.S. interests and how best to use American resources to deal with those threats

The Elliott School’s Institute for Middle East Studies congratulates the following students who received prestigious fellowships for regional language studies!!

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) from the U.S. Department of Education:

Academic Year 2019-2020

Mary Ivancic, 2018-2019 Boren Fellow, Amman Jordan
Mary Ivancic, 2018-2019 Boren Fellow, Amman Jordan
  • Shabnam Ahmed (MPH GEH ‘20), Persian
  • Duran Delgadillo (MA MES ’20), Arabic
  • Iman Elbana (MA MES ‘21), Arabic
  • Anita Farsad (MA Ed. H.D. ’20) Arabic
  • Tyler Malcolm (MA MES ‘21), Arabic
  • Cayla Monk (MA SPS ’20), Arabic
  • Ryan Salzman (MA SPS ’20), Arabic

Summer 2019

  • Leore Ben-Chorin (PhD PSC), Persian
  • Mark Berlin (PhD PSC), Arabic
  • Alex Gray (MA MES ‘20), Persian
  • Kathryn Halloran (MA MES ’20), Arabic
  • Christiana Haynes (MA MES ’20), Arabic
  • Robert Hildebrandt (PhD ANTH), Hebrew
  • Anna Jozwick (MA MES ’20), Persian
  • Alexander Shanahan (MA MES ‘20), Arabic

Boren Fellowship from the U.S. State Department:

  • Anne Armstrong (MA SPS), ArabicImage result for boren fellowship
  • Michael Letkewicz (MA SPS), Arabic
  • Tyler Malcolm (MA MES),  Arabic

We at GW are very proud of our exceptional students, and we wish them the best of luck wherever their language studies may take them this summer or this coming academic year!

The FLAS Fellowships are part of a U.S. government initiative to assist meritorious students undergoing training in modern foreign languages and related area or international studies. The Boren Fellowship is part of a U.S. government initiative to increase the number of Americans studying and gaining proficiency in foreign languages deemed vital to U.S. national security interests.  

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