Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Editor's Note

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

This issue offers a cross-section of the sorts of articles which have long characterized the Journal, ranging from a good summary of Russian-Iranian relations, to an analysis of the current ethnosectarian stresses in Iraq, to an argument against the idea that Iran's current leadership has messianic expectations, to careful analyses of Jordan's business climate and a study of that country's social welfare system since economic reform. It's a wide and interdisciplinary range, much of it directly bearing on major issues facing the region today.

Mark Katz of George Mason University has long been a respected analyst of Russian interests in the Middle East, and applies that expertise in his article examining various aspects of Russian-Iranian relations since Mahmud Ahmadinejad took office. It's a good summary of the various facets of Moscow-Tehran relations, not merely the much-discussed nuclear aspects.

Adeed Dawisha, of Miami University of Ohio, has long been a perceptive analyst of modern Iraq, and in our second article he discusses the reasons for the rise of ethnosectarian conflict in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, explaining how prior to that date strong state power had kept such centrifugal forces under control. The article stems from his work on a book that will appear next year.

Mahmud Ahmadinejad's presidency in Iran has provoked some Western analysts to rather alarming warnings that the Iranian President believes in the imminent appearance of the Hidden Imam, the beginning of a messianic era that might be provoked by Iran's nuclear program. Since the role of Mahdism in Shi'ite Islam is little understood outside specialist circles, some of the alarmism has been used to fuel calls for an attack on Iran. But Ze'ev Maghen, an Israeli scholar at Bar-Ilan University, challenges the conventional wisdom and in effect argues, with considerable erudition from Shi'ite sources, that the clerical establishment in Iran is anything but Mahdist in its orientation. The article, I think, makes a major contribution to the debate about Iran and directly challenges a great deal of current received wisdom.

The next two articles deal with aspects of modern Jordan's economy and society. While their subjects may seem to cast a negative light on Jordan in some ways, I feel that they also reflect the fact that Jordanian society, being more open to outside researchers than many of its neighbors, has therefore been more easily studied. …

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