Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Editor's Note

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

The Middle East still wrestles with a fair number of border disputes, many of which can be traced back to the period of European Mandates after the First World War, and are often overlaid with more contemporary political feuding. Negotiations between Syria and Israel stalled in the late 1990s over a difference of a few hundred meters of shoreline on the Sea of Galilee, but with the whole issue of water resources underlying the dispute. The Sheb'a Farms dispute (involving Syria, Lebanon, and Israeli occupation) is another. Not far from the Farms lies the divided village of Ghajar, partly in pre-1967 Syria, and partly in Lebanon. Israeli forces still occupy the Lebanese side of the divided town, as well as the southern part, which they have held since 1967. Israeli scholar Asher Kaufman, now at Notre Dame University, has written extensively on issues relating to this complicated border, and in this issue he offers some new findings on the thorny question of Ghajar and the linked issues nearby. Since this border is a key area of concern at the moment, it is a timely article and an insightful one.

Recently, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood began a rapprochement with the Syrian regime, or at any rate, an end to decades of open opposition. The history of the Brotherhood's attitudes towards the 'Alawite-dominated regime - with its alliances with Shi'ite Iran and Hizbullah - is traced by Yvette Talhamy in the second of our articles. It is a useful contribution to the study of the Brotherhood's attitudes and their evolution.

Our other three articles deal with a critical country whose regional role is growing: Turkey. Despite Turkey's self-identification with Europe, it remains a country in and very much of the Middle East. Each of the articles presented here deals in one way or another with questions of identity and self-definition.

The first, by Ersel Aydinli of Bilkent University, looks at what he calls a "paradigmatic shift" for the Turkish military. After years of interventions and threatened interventions in political life as the defenders of Kemalism and secularism, the Turkish generals in recent years have mostly learned to accept and work with the Islamist-leaning AKP. …

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