Perspectives

When women in the Middle East make the headlines, it is usually as victims. Disturbing stories of the so called 'Islamic State' (ISIS) kidnapping and raping tens of thousands of women are sadly often the ones which stick in the Western memory. But there is more to women's political lives in the region than their victimisation and oppression. We decided to look to the future, present and past in this issue, in order to present an alternative narrative which challenges these representations of women.

When ISIS announced the establishment of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ it fuelled discussions as to whether  this would herald  the ‘end of Sykes-Picot’ – borders artificially drawn by the colonial powers at the beginning of the twenti- eth century. But borders are more than ‘lines in the sand’: they divide. While the privileged few may cross legitimately  by simply presenting their passport, for most, these borders present difficult if not insurmountable hurdles. People fleeing from war, climate change  or economic hardship, attempt to cross the Mediterranean but many drown trying.

The Middle Eastern and Northern African (MENA) region, faced with tumultuous changes in the last five years, shows a picture of shrinking spaces for civil society activism. In contrast, ecological activism is growing and connecting the fight for climate justice to other demands for community and indigenous rights, gender equality, democracy and transparency.

More than twenty years after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), opinion polls persistently reveal a general belief in the presence and practice of corruption in the PA institutions, despite reports about improvement in good governance and transparency in recent years. According to a freshly released report by the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) -Transparency International chapter in Palestine- 85% of the Palestinian public believe in the existence of corruption in PA institutions.

Rumour has it ... the new Perspectives is out!

They are only 'hot air' but anyone who has been affected by rumours is familiar with their unhallowed dynamics, and the serious consequences they can entail. Rumours fulfil social functions. They serve as a medium through which unfulfilled hopes or unspecific fears can be voiced. They bond and drive a wedge between people and population groups at the same time. They can destroy reputations, credibility and even lives. Read here twelve experts from the MENA region discussing the topic!

Sadly, the Middle East has witnessed some of the largest mass displacements of people worldwide over the past decade. As it currently stands, millions of Syrians are fleeing their homes, moving within the country and sometimes far outside of it. Not surprisingly, neighboring states have absorbed most of these people and have managed well under the circumstances. However, the question of how to deal with the waves of those who have lost everything and might not be able to go back in the near future is a huge challenge for the refugees and for host communities, especially since there is no settlement on the horizon.

Issue #5 of Perspectives provides space for on-the-ground analysis by Palestinian writers, thinkers and politicians of very different backgrounds in order to explore the Oslo Accords 20 years after their signing from a Palestinian perspective. Perspectives is a quarterly journal dedicated to highlighting research and debate from authors who mostly live and work in the region. It is jointly edited and published by the three HBS offices located in Tunis, Beirut and Ramallah. 

In the newest issue of Perspectives: Political Analysis and Commentary from the Middle East & North Africa, the authors explore a political actor in the Gulf region who is becoming more visible, seemingly more engaged in navigating these uncertainties, and in filling the gaps in the political scene: The state of Qatar. Perspectives is a quarterly journal dedicated to highlighting research and debate from authors who live and work in the region. It is now jointly edited and published by the three HBS offices located in Tunis, Beirut and Ramallah

It is almost a year ago that Syrian citizens, inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, courageously took to the streets in protest against the decades-long denial of their basic rights by the Assad regime

Perspectives - Political Analysis and Commentary from the Middle East is a publication series of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung’s offices in Beirut and Ramallah provides a platform for analysis and viewpoints of experts from the region. The self-immolation of young and jobless Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, being deprived of his vegetable stand and humiliated by the authorities, triggered popular movements and historic events in the Arab World completely unexpected in their magnitude

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