Editor's Note

By Dunn, Michael Collins | The Middle East Journal, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Editor's Note


Dunn, Michael Collins, The Middle East Journal


Among the offerings in this spring issue of the Journal are: an assessment of the possible role of Arab journalists in a new "Arab Awakening;" a case study of a major jihadist group in Algeria and its evolution; an examination of the geopolitics of Azerbaijan's foreign policy since independence; a history of the Shari'a Court system in Israel; and a look at the Ford Foundation's experiences in 1950s Iran; as well as an examination of new books on democracy promotion and reform. I hope you will find it an issue that provokes thought and increases our understanding of developments in the region.

Are Arab journalists, in this era of new media that transcend traditional national boundaries, "border guards of the imagined watan, responsible for a reawakening of a pan-Arab national identity?" That's the argument made by Lawrence Ppintak, Director of the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research at The American University in Cairo, basing his analysis on the first surveys of Arab journalists. If the author's name sounds familiar, it is because Larry Ppintak was a longtime CBS foreign correspondent based in the Middle East.

The study of radical Islamist movements has been intense in recent years, as the different nuances influencing various strands of radical jihadi groups become more important in understanding the challenge that they pose. Jean-Ppierre Filiu of Sciences-Ppo in Pparis (which has been a pioneer in such studies) offers an analysis of al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghrib, the former Algerian Salafist Ggroup for Ppreaching and Combat. Filiu assesses the shifting balances between the ideology of global jihadism and local requirements in a careful case study.

Given the growing importance of Caspian oil and the geopolitical pipeline politics involved, not to mention the lingering territorial challenges left by the breakup of the Soviet Union and subsequent war with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan has faced a great many challenges since independence. Ppinar Ipek of Bilkent University analyzes Azerbaijan's calculations in developing its pro-Western foreign policy and navigating the difficult regional political and military challenges, balancing among Russia and its other neighbors while cultivating ties with the US and Turkey. …

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