Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Editor's Note

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

This issue of Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) leads with an article about the development of Turkey's relations with Syria in the contemporary period that provides a context to the ones that follow. Those articles reveal the relationship between literature, culture, and politics.

In the lead article, Jamal Wakim offers a solid historic view, beginning in the 1940s, of Turkey's foreign policy toward the Arab world and how it flowed mainly through Syria. From the start, the author locates Turkey in its global context and shows how under Prime Minister Erdogan the relations with Syria worsened to a point of no return practically after the middle of 2011. Wakim covers those developments till 2013, indicating the way in which Turkey's animosity to the Syrian regime has begun to destabilize Turkish domestic politics under Erdogan's leadership. The irony is that the Syrian regime still stands, while the opposition to Erdogan has begun to grow significantly.

Salam Hawa argues cogently that the imperial onslaught on the Arab world has not been entirely through military means, but equally importantly via cultural penetration. Orientalist views about the Arabs have affected the minds of many Arab intellectuals, especially those living in the "heart of the beast" (Ché Guevara). Bassam Tibi and Fuad Ajami (the latter died in June 2014) are two cases in point that Hawa focuses on. Those two intellectuals built their careers joining the chorus of the likes of Bernard Lewis and their intellectual onslaught on Arab culture and peoples. While Lewis' earlier work viewed Arabs and Muslims more sympathetically, the author argues that Lewis has adopted more hostile views towards the colonized "Other" in his later works. He and others had no qualms changing those views depending on imperial "expediency". The author employs Derrida's conceptualization of national identity, developed under colonial conditions, to gain a better understanding of Ajami's, Tibi's and Lewis' separate (yet connected) journeys on the path of national identity and belonging. Derrida's deconstruction of the elements of national identity is contrasted with those of Tibi's and Ajami's. One could say that Derrida's Algerian existence as a "pied noir" contrasted those of Tibi's and Ajami's existence in the West. They not only rejected their roots, they became completely hostile to them. …

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