Marc Martorell Junyent – Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Fri, 01 Sep 2023 02:31:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 “Friends of Israel:” Trying to outlaw Solidarity with Palestine Thu, 31 Aug 2023 04:15:48 +0000 Review of Hil Aked, Friends of Israel: The Backlash against Palestine Solidarity (London: Verso, 2023).

Munich (Special to Informed Comment; Feature) – Amid Israel’s assault on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank in early July, the House of the Commons passed a bill  with significant implications for the United Kingdom’s relations with Israel/Palestine. If it becomes law, the innocuously named Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill will dramatically reduce the freedom of public bodies, including local councils, to support boycotts against foreign governments on moral or political grounds. There is no denying that the bill aims at outlawing the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched in 2005 to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.

The Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, who introduced the bill to the British Parliament, made clear that the BDS movement is the main target while dangerously conflating pro-Palestinian activism with antisemitism. In his presentation of the bill, Gove announced that the legislation he was proposing would provide “protection for minority communities, especially the Jewish community, against campaigns that harm community cohesion and fuel antisemitism.” Michael Gove, a notorious Islamophobe deeply influenced by the vision of a ‘clash of civilisations’ between Western European civilization and Islam, is a paradigmatic example of the characters that populate Hil Aked’s recently published book, Friends of Israel: The Backlash against Palestine Solidarity.

Aked, a writer and researcher with a PhD from the University of Bath, makes a smart use of open-source data and freedom of information requests to present the first book-length study of the Israel Lobby in the United Kingdom. The choice of the term ‘Israel Lobby’ is a very careful one. As they explain, “the Israel lobby is very far from incorporating all Jewish people and is, moreover, far from exclusively Jewish.”[1] Evangelical Christians have become increasingly prominent in pro-Israel activism in the UK.

In its wording, Aked’s ‘Israel Lobby’ parallels that of International Relations scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their famous 2007 book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” Mearsheimer and Walt see the Israel Lobby in the US as a product of foreign influence that works against what they understand as the US national interest. Instead, Aked describe the Israel Lobby in the UK as part and parcel of a long history of British state racism, still deeply ingrained in the country’s establishment, that has led British Zionists to be complicit in the plight of the Palestinians for well over a century.

The foundations of the Israel Lobby in the UK are to be found in institutions that predate the creation of Israel such as the Zionist Federation of Great Britain, the Jewish Agency in Britain, or the United Jewish Israel Appeal. These institutions continue to exist and retain close ties with the Israeli government. However, new organizations have proliferated in the last decades as a response to a different context. In the early 2000s, with the failure of the Camp David summit, the outbreak of the Second Intifada, and the increase of illegal settlements in the West Bank, the popularity of Zionism in the UK among both Jewish and non-Jewish people entered a period of crisis.

At this time, successive Israeli governments started to explore new options to promote Israel’s image abroad. Israel’s strategy in the UK was importantly influenced by research on the concept of ‘new public diplomacy’, which defends the effectiveness of involving non-state actors in reaching foreign publics that have grown increasingly skeptical of state power. As Aked explain, Israel decided “to enlist civil society organisations to help wage its propaganda war, believing their Israel-advocacy work to be complementary to official efforts.”[2] Apart from supporting already existing Zionist groups with direct or indirect funding, the Israeli government also helped to establish new pro-Israel civil society groups in the UK. Although they were introduced themselves as ‘grassroots’ movements, the Israeli embassy in London had an instrumental role in their creation.

Hil Aked, Friends of Israel: The Backlash against Palestine Solidarity. Click here

The Israel Lobby in the UK has been active on several fronts. The British parliament is unsurprisingly one of them. Although public support for the Palestinian people has increased in the UK in the last decades, this change has not been mirrored in the country’s parliamentary politics. The parliamentary groups Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel boast a numerous membership. Meanwhile, the Israel Lobby has put the focus on university campuses around the UK. Aked describe a two-pronged approach in the Israel Lobby’s strategy toward universities. On the one hand, it has provided private funding for chairs and centers of Israel studies. The donors, as Aked document in the case of the late Lord Weidenfeld, a Zionist publishing magnate who co-founded an Israel studies post at the University of Sussex, often sought to influence the academic appointments for the new positions.                                                              


On the other hand, conscious that Israel’s popularity among student activists is diametrically opposed to that it enjoys in the Parliament, the Israel Lobby has sought to stymy grassroots efforts at expanding the BDS movement in British universities. The Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership (BIRAX), launched in 2008 by the Israeli and British prime ministers at that time, Ehud Olmert and Gordon Brown, closely cooperates with the British Council in anti-BDS activities. This is something Aked was able to prove after examining documents accessed through freedom of information requests.

Zionist groups have also aimed at influencing the depiction of Israel in the broadcast media and the press. As Aked importantly note, it is not that “pro-Israel media pressure groups somehow nefariously impose their will on reporters who would otherwise be sympathetic to Palestinians and fearlessly hold Israel to account.”[3] The upper-middle-class status of most British journalists, as well as the structural constraints of the largest media institutions in the country, are already conducive to conformity with the status quo. Even so, the Israel Lobby has worked hard to ensure that the general pro-Israel tendency in British media does not decline. It has done so, Aked explain, with a combination of carrots and sticks. An example of the use of positive incentives are the free trips to Israel, touring areas such as the occupied Golan Heights, offered to twenty to thirty leading British journalists annually by the lobby group Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM). At the same time, the Israel Lobby continuously monitors the British media landscape and issues formal and informal complaints about their coverage of the Middle East if they perceive it as critical of Israel.

Very often the complaints do not have an immediate and tangible result, but they certainly put pressure on journalists who might end up self-censoring. On other occasions, the consequences of the Israel Lobby’s efforts are easier to observe. In 2007, after pro-Israel US and UK organizations complained against an article by then BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, the governing body of the BBC forced Bowen to alter his original article, which could only appear as biased against Israel to the eyes of the most ardent Zionist.

As Aked writes, the Israel Lobby “deserves to be scrutinised and opposed because of its role defending Israeli apartheid.”[4] At the same time, Aked maintains that the case of the Israel Lobby reflects broader problems in British and other Western societies. Politics in general and foreign policy in particular are vulnerable to the actions of single-issue lobby groups that succeed in pushing their agendas even when their support among the population is limited. In May 2021, almost 200,000 pro-Palestinian protesters mobilized in London against Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip. Polls conducted by You Gov show that sympathy for the Palestinians among the UK’s population has increased during the past few years.

The generational divide is also remarkable. A May 2023 report shows that citizens older than 65 are four times more likely to express sympathy for Israel than citizens between 18 and 24 years old. Thus, the bill to outlaw the BDS movement in the UK recently passed by the Parliament is clearly at odds with the changes undergone by British public opinion concerning Israel/Palestine. Friends of Israel is, above all, a necessary book. It touches upon multiple dimensions of the Israel Lobby in the UK that had long needed investigation. Future critical writers on pro-Israel networks in the UK will certainly build on Aked’s work. They will be departing from safe ground considering the author’s trailblazing research and sharp analytical skills.



[1] Hil Aked, Friends of Israel: The Backlash against Palestine Solidarity (London: Verso, 2023), p. 3.

[2] Ibid., p. 108.

[3] Ibid., p. 180.

[4] Ibid., p. 206.

How Lebanon was shaped by its Great Famine in WW I Mon, 14 Aug 2023 04:08:34 +0000         Brand, Tylor. Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon’s Great War. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2023.


Review of Tylor Brand, Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon’s Great War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2023).

Munich (Special to Informed Comment) – Suez, Gallipoli, Kut al-Amara, and Jerusalem saw some of the major battles of the First World War in the Middle East. The countries that are nowadays Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine were the scene of considerable fighting between the Ottomans and the British during the conflict that would bring about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. On the contrary, the territories that currently belong to the modern state of Lebanon saw no fighting during the war. The global conflagration, however, also brought death to Lebanon, if only more slowly and indirectly.

It was hunger, and the vulnerability to disease that came with it, that decimated Lebanon. We learn about this in the book Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon’s Great War. The author, Tylor Brand, is an Assistant Professor in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at Trinity College Dublin. In Famine Worlds, he brilliantly studies how the population of Lebanon experienced a famine that brought massive death, changed society, and left an often unspoken but indelible mark on the country’s historical consciousness.

Brand writes that historically, there have been two main narratives to explain the causes of the famine in Lebanon. One ascribes responsibility to the Ottoman administration and blames it for having intentionally starved Lebanon. The other points at the blockade of Lebanese ports by the Entente powers, which abruptly stopped grain imports, of vital importance for a region that was not food self-sufficient. Neither of these explanations fully convinces Brand, who presents a more nuanced view. The Ottoman administration was certainly responsible for the shortage of labor in the agricultural sector that followed the conscription of peasants to fight in the war, as well as for the army’s mismanagement of grain reserves in Syria. Even so, there was no deliberate Ottoman policy that led to Lebanon’s suffering.

Meanwhile, the Entente blockade severely restricted Lebanon’s options to secure its food supply. Moreover, the blockade was accompanied by the halt of remittances from Lebanese migrants in Europe to their home country, with the ensuing decline in the purchasing power of many Lebanese. But the Ottoman Empire entered the war with considerable grain reserves and the famine in Lebanon cannot simply be explained by a lack of food. Equally important was the food speculation of Lebanese businessmen who, after trade routes were closed by the blockade, decided to make a profit in the local grain markets. And, although the famine was largely man-made, a plague of locusts that decimated local crops made matters worse.

Brand is deeply skeptical about the possibility of establishing with some certainty how many people succumbed to the famine in Lebanon during the First World War. He points out that “the available statistics are little more than pointed guesses or ways to denote severity” and notes that, although death tolls are important, “suffering in famine does not necessarily correlate with death.”[1] It is this suffering, and the Lebanese population’s resistance to it, that is the focus of Famine Worlds. The book is not a political history of the Ottoman authorities’ response to the food crisis. Sometimes, the reader might actually feel that the political and historical contextualization of the famine is too vague. Instead, Brand’s attention is focused on how the Lebanese society experienced this period of widespread hunger and disease.

This is no simple task. The newspapers of the period are of little use due to the strong censorship imposed by the Ottoman authorities during the war. Brand’s research importantly relies on memoirs, letters, and reports written during the war period or shortly afterwards. Many of these were authored by Americans employed in education or missionary institution in Lebanon. While British and French citizens had to abandon the country when the First World War began, American nationals could stay as the United States never declared war against the Ottoman Empire.

Tylor Brand, Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon’s Great War. Click here.

The Americans were relatively privileged as they had sufficient resources to avoid hunger, even if they could not always escape the diseases that proliferated during the period. In this sense, the contemporary accounts of Americans living in Lebanon need to be understood as the writings of first-hand witnesses to hunger, not of people whose bodies and minds deteriorated as food became increasingly scarce. It is difficult to know how the poor, and the former members of the middle class who were impoverished by the exorbitant prices of food, would have told their own stories. Even so, when we consider all the limitations, Brand succeeds in presenting a portrait of how the famine shaped the lives of ordinary people.

Famine Worlds describes a society in which ownership of land and animals, as well as the social capital of family, community, and patronage networks, could be the difference between life and death. It was also a society where the ubiquity of death and suffering progressively anesthetized people’s consciences. Jirjis al-Maqdisi, who published in 1919 a historical account of the effects of the war on Lebanon, describes this change in detail. Al-Maqdisi writes: “In 1915, the sight of a starving man falling would cause people to surround him and give him some water, some food, and some dirhams. By 1916 we would walk in the streets with men, women and children lying in the mud on both sides, whimpering for mercy or for a crust of bread. (…) Most frequently, on passing, people turned their face and blocked their ears so they could not see or hear.”[2]

With the spread of a typhus epidemic, the poor and their emaciated bodies were not only an uncomfortable sight to the relatively privileged. They were also seen as “potential carriers of deadly disease.”[3] Despite their vulnerability, Brand cautions against imagining the poor as devoid of agency. They had very limited options, but they exploited them to the fullest. They changed their diets and migrated in search of work or aid. As Brand notes, “not all survived, but no one lay down to die without a fight.”[4]

This rebellion against a looming death often implied a subversion of the traditional moral codes that governed social life until that moment. As Middle East historian Najwa al-Qattan succinctly puts it in an article discussing the famine, “the question of food during the war was about morality as well as mortality.”[5] Thievery and robbery saw a dramatic increase, and the same happened with prostitution. Very often, the desperation brought by hunger and disease on most of the population was not reason enough for the privileged to suspend their usual moral judgments. The American Red Cross and the American missionaries in Lebanon saved many lives but, as Brand documents, used moralistic criteria when deciding who deserved help.

Beggars, people with physical disabilities, or those who suffered from syphilis (a sexually transmitted disease likely to prey upon prostitutes), were to be denied aid after the American Relief Committee adopted a new set of guidelines in late 1917. Faced with an increase in aid demands and declining resources, the American humanitarian organizations adopted a policy that “instead of seeking to preserve the helpless, (…) deliberately excluded those whose physical or perceived moral characteristics rendered them unworthy.”[6]

Writing in 2014, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Najwa al-Qattan noted that “the famine does not occupy a prominent place in nationalist and other public narratives of the war, where it competes with more heroic public markers of the period, such as the Arab Revolt.”[7] In Famine Worlds, writing a decade after al-Qattan, Brand explains that the centennial of the Great War significantly contributed to more people learning about the famine in Lebanon during the conflict. Back in 2014, al-Qattan lamented that victims of the famine were not “publicly mourned or memorialized.”[8] This appears to be slowly changing. In 2018, for instance, a sculpture to remember the victims of the famine was unveiled in Beirut.

The expert on conflict and humanitarian crises Alex de Waal notes that most famines are caused by war and political repression, with the current situation of widespread hunger in Yemen being no exception. De Waal adds that the main driver of hunger in Yemen is not a lack of food but the fact that “a large section of the population simply doesn’t have money to buy it from the local markets.” Swarms of red desert locusts have also negatively affected domestic agricultural production. The famine that ravaged Lebanon during the First World War has strong echoes in our current times.



[1] Tylor Brand, Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon’s Great War (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2023), p. 41.

[2] Quoted in ibid., p. 98.

[3] Ibid., p. 145.

[4] Ibid., p. 82.

[5] Najwa Al-Qattan, “When Mothers Ate Their Children: Wartime Memory and the Language of Food in Syria and Lebanon,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 46, no. 4 (2014): 721.

[6] Brand, Famine Worlds: Life at the Edge of Suffering in Lebanon’s Great War, pp. 164-5.

[7] Najwa Al-Qattan, “When Mothers Ate Their Children”: 722

[8] Ibid.

The Existential Crisis of the Muslim Brotherhood Fri, 21 Jul 2023 04:15:31 +0000 Review of Abdelrahman Ayyash, Amr ElAfifi, and Noha Ezzat, Broken Bonds: The Existential Crisis of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, 2013-22 (Washington, DC: The Century Foundation, 2023).

Munich (Special to Informed Comment) – July 3, 2023, marked the tenth anniversary of the military coup that removed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi from power, paving the way for the establishment of an autocratic regime led by the retired military officer Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The overthrow of Morsi sent the Muslim Brotherhood, the sociopolitical organization that supported him, into what many consider its most severe crisis since it was founded in 1928 by the Egyptian teacher and imam Hassan al-Banna. Morsi had been elected president in June 2012 in the freest Egyptian elections up to date. The first experience of political power for the Brotherhood would last only a bit longer than a year, with the July 2013 coup forcing the members of the Brotherhood into hiding, exile, or, as in Morsi’s case, imprisonment. Morsi died in prison in June 2019 due to maltreatment.

In their collective work “The Existential Crisis of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, 2013-22,” Abdelrahman Ayyash, Amr ElAfifi, and Noha Ezzat present a historical overview of the Brotherhood before examining its trajectory during the last decade. Ayyash is a fellow at Century International, the US think tank that published the book. Meanwhile, ElAfifi is a PhD candidate at Syracuse University and Ezzat is an independent writer and researcher.

“Broken Bonds” greatly relies upon multiple interviews with former and current members of the Brotherhood.  Overall, the authors see the Brotherhood as finding itself at the lowest point of its almost centennial history, and yet, as a resilient organization that will most likely bounce back thanks to the adaptability it has always shown in the face of crisis.

The Brotherhood’s relationship with the Egyptian state has historically been a complex one. Repressed by President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s, it managed to establish a solid presence in universities and syndicates in the 1970s when President Anwar Sadat initiated a limited political opening. Under Sadat’s successor Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood enjoyed a tacit non-aggression pact during the 1980s while it spread its conservative values among Egyptian society.

This tacit understanding collapsed in the early 1990s when Mubarak’s regime restricted the Brotherhood’s influence among university students and syndicated workers. In the context of Egypt’s neoliberal turn, the Brotherhood came to play a larger role in providing services and basic commodities to the most disfavored sectors of society. The Brotherhood expanded its membership in the 2000s, but its political role was limited to participating in protests allowed by the Mubarak regime, such as demonstrations against Israeli violence in Palestine or the US invasion of Iraq.

For an organization that had traditionally been repressed or, at best, tolerated, by the Egyptian state, its assumption of state power in June 2012 — although with the shadow of the army always looming over — was a profound change. The authors describe the Brotherhood’s decision to run for the Egyptian presidency as driven by two competing objectives. On the one hand, it sought to avoid prosecution at the hands of a new regime by controlling state power itself while showing an image of moderation. On the other hand, the Brotherhood wanted to prevent more radical Islamist groups and figures, such as Salafi preacher and presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, from gaining support among Brotherhood sympathizers. This, however, necessitated stressing the Brotherhood’s conservatism.

The Brotherhood’s simultaneous pursuit of these incompatible goals “led to contradictory policies and mixed messages to the public.”[1] Morsi’s foreign policy was also confusing, with the president’s frequent changes of course transforming “the Brotherhood’s tactics for seeking allies into a series of trials and errors.”[2] If the short period in power had been an agitated time for the Brotherhood, the July 2013 coup sent the organization into disarray, with the leaders that had avoided capture scattered in Egypt and exile, mainly in Qatar, Sudan, Turkey, and Malaysia.

Only three members of the Brotherhood’s Guiding Bureau remained in Egypt without having been imprisoned or gone into hiding — a small fraction considering the Guiding Bureau had twenty members at that point. These three members, who had all joined the Bureau after 2011 and were thus newcomers to the higher echelons of the Brotherhood, decided to create the High Administrative Committee (HAC) in 2014 to lead the Brotherhood from within Egypt. Mohamed Kamal emerged as the main figure of the HAC, which sought to include younger members of the Brotherhood in the new leadership structure.

Abdelrahman Ayyash, Amr ElAfifi, and Noha Ezzat, The Existential Crisis of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, 2013-22. Click here

The HAC also adopted an increasingly confrontational stance toward the Egyptian government, accelerated after a slim majority of the HAC approved plans to carry out limited violent attacks against the new Egyptian regime. The interviews with rank-and-file Brotherhood members conducted by the authors allow us to better understand the changes taking place after the Brotherhood lost power. An interviewee rhetorically asks: “What were we supposed to do, just let people, especially women, get beaten or arrested off the streets?”.[3]

The HAC’s escalation resulted in new crackdowns against the Brotherhood. Moreover, Kamal and his partners would soon find out that “changing a movement as vast as the Brotherhood is not an easy task.”[4] The historical leadership of the Brotherhood in Egyptian prisons and exile saw with concern their decreasing power over the Brotherhood’s actions, which was being directed by leaders with limited experience that had attracted numerous youth revolutionaries.

Mahmoud Ezzat, the Brotherhood’s acting general guide after the imprisonment of the general guide Mohammed Badie in August 2013, had gone into hiding and little was known about him. In May 2015, however, Ezzat issued a statement ordering the dissolution of the HAC and the creation of a new HAC that would be subordinated to the Brotherhood’s leadership in exile. The HAC contested Ezzat’s decision, but the acting general guide and the historical leadership in exile commanded most of the Brotherhood’s financial resources. They proceeded to cut funding to those regional offices in Egypt that supported the HAC and progressively imposed themselves. Kamal, who had co-founded the first HAC and become its leader, was killed by the Egyptian security forces in October 2016.

The Kamal-Ezzat split was followed by another period of internal tensions after the arrest of Ezzat in August 2020. This new conflict would show that “the historical leadership was far from united”, pitting two of its main figures against each other.[5] Mahmoud Hussein, a member of the Guidance Bureau who happened to be out of Egypt at the time of the July 2013 coup, had gained a dominating position over the communications between the Brotherhood in Egypt and the leadership in exile. The new acting general guide after Ezzat’s detention, Ibrahim Munir, accused Hussein of blocking messages sent from prison by the general guide Mohammed Badie to the leadership in exile.

Munir removed Hussein from his positions of responsibility in 2020, but the internal victory of the acting general guide was not consolidated until 2022. As the authors note, in contrast to the clash between Kemal and Ezzat, “the Hussein-versus-Munir split was not based on conflicting ideas and worldviews. Rather, it appeared to be about the power of controlling the organization.”[6]

Despite the death of Ibrahim Munir in November 2022, the Brotherhood seemed to have returned to relative stability quickly thereafter. The internal conflicts had left profound scars on the organization, though. The authors document the case of numerous members of the Brotherhood that decided to abandon the group. Some of them mentioned that the Brotherhood was no longer loyal to the ideals of its founder Hassan al-Banna, while others expressed their disenchantment over the Kamal-Ezzat split.

It is not only the Brotherhood that is undergoing a long crisis but Egypt itself. Al-Sisi’s period in power has been dominated by sham elections and continuous repression on the political front, and vanity projects and unmanageable amounts of debt on the economic front. Al-Sisi has continuously presented the Brotherhood as “an omnipresent nemesis to justify the state’s continued repression of Egyptian society,” writes Abdullah Al-Arian, an associate professor at Georgetown University.[7] Nevertheless, the Brotherhood will continue to be popular in Egypt, argue the authors of Broken Bonds, because the reasons behind the organization’s popularity “are intrinsic in the state’s failures in dealing with society’s problems.”[8]

If we are to highlight a shortcoming of the book, this would probably be its limited attention to how the international dynamics of Middle Eastern politics affected the Brotherhood’s fate. Whereas Qatar and Turkey accommodated members of the Brotherhood after the 2013 coup, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates backed al-Sisi’s anti-democratic repression of the Islamist group. As Matteo Colombo from the Clingendael Institute details, a key factor in the Brotherhood’s current crisis is the “increasingly repressive regional political environment supported by the power of the Saudi and Emirate states.”[9]

Ayyash, ElAfifi, and Ezzat’s Broken Bonds is an impressive piece of research and analysis. There are two main reasons for this. First, the authors succeed in making intelligible the labyrinthic internal politics of the Brotherhood to those who might only have a general understanding of Egyptian politics and history. Second, thanks to their access to senior leaders and rank-and-file members of the Brotherhood, the authors show a deep understanding of the organization that is both top-down and bottom-up. Broken Bonds constitutes a work that cannot be ignored to comprehend the convulsed trajectory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the last decade.








[1] Abdelrahman Ayyash, Amr ElAfifi, and Noha Ezzat, Broken Bonds: The Existential Crisis of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, 2013-22 (Washington, DC: The Century Foundation, 2023), p. 80.

[2] Ibid., p. 83.

[3] Ibid., p. 127.

[4] Ibid., p. 104.

[5] Ayyash, ElAfifi, and Ezzat, Broken Bonds, p. 109.

[6] Ibid., p. 112.

[7] Abdullah Al-Arian, “The Lasting Significance of Egypt’s Rabaa Massacre,” Middle East Report Online, August 23, 2022,

[8] Ayyash, ElAfifi, and Ezzat, Broken Bonds, p. 157.

[9] Matteo Colombo, “Lost in Transition: The Muslim Brotherhood in 2022,” CRU Policy Brief (The Hague: Clingendael Institute, July 2022), p. 8. Retrieved from

A One-State Democracy for Palestine-Israel? A Review Essay Thu, 29 Jun 2023 04:15:57 +0000 Review of Ghada Karmi, One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel (London: Pluto Press, 2023).

Munich (Special to Informed Comment) – Following the inauguration of a far-right government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in December 2022, the Israeli occupation machinery in Palestine has been turbocharged. In February 2023, the Israeli government approved the construction of over 7,100 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This week, it advanced plans for a further 5,700 settlement homes, breaking the annual record in only 6 months. The new settlers will add their numbers to the 700,000 Israelis already living in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the last months have seen armed settlers in the West Bank increasingly attack Arab villages, taking advantage of the passivity of Israel’s authorities. In February, and again in March, Jewish settlers rampaged through the Palestinian town of Huwara, south of Nablus. Last week, the settlers’ attacks against Palestinian villages went on for five days. Among other acts of violence, settlers torched at least two homes in Umm Safa near Ramallah and left at least one Palestinian dead and 12 injured in Turmus Ayya, also close to Ramallah.

The events of the first half of 2023, after the inauguration of the most right-wing government in the history of Israel, have made even clearer what many already believed, namely that the creation of an independent Palestinian state is not a real possibility. Ghada Karmi, a Palestinian physician and former Associate Fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, is one of the observers who have long perceived the need to think “beyond the two-state solution.”[1]

In her latest book, “One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel,” Karmi provides a historical overview of the conflict in Palestine before introducing her two key arguments. Firstly, that the two-state solution is dead. As she puts it, “it is probable that no greater illustration of the triumph of hope over reality exists than the two-state solution.”[2] Karmi enumerates some of the factors that make the establishment of two separate states in Israel-Palestine impossible: the Judaization of Jerusalem and the West Bank, the isolation of the Gaza Strip, the construction of the West Bank Wall, and the unfeasibility of even a limited return of Palestinian refugees to the small and densely populated West Bank.

Ghada Karmi, <One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel. Click here.

Karmi builds on a long tradition of Palestinian intellectuals who discarded the option of a two-state solution. Back in 1999, following the collapse of the Oslo Accords he never believed in, Edward Said wrote that it was time “to speak about sharing the land that has thrust us together, sharing it in a truly democratic way, with equal rights for each citizen.” Meanwhile, in a recent book, Azmi Bishara noted that “the two ethnic groups are no longer separable in practice and cannot live in two separate states, so they must find a way to coexist equally in one.”[3]

This brings us to the second main argument in Karmi’s book, namely that the only way out of the current conflict is “the reunification of Palestine’s shattered remains in a unitary state for all its inhabitants.”[4] The author examines the two main variations of the one-state solution proposed over the decades. On the one hand, we find bi-national proposals, which imply that Arabs and Jews would share a country but remain ethnically separate. Bi-nationalism is an option that has lost ground in recent times. On the other hand, the secular democratic model proposes a political entity based on individual citizenship and the principle of one-person-one-vote. Karmi prefers this second option.

She argues that bi-nationalism would never do away with Arab and Jewish claims to the whole land, and considering the military and economic superiority of the Jewish population, Arabs would be second-rate citizens in the joint new country. The reality of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship clearly supports her views. Furthermore, considering the religious and ethnic complexity of both Israeli Jews and non-Jewish Arabs, Karmi points out that a secular democratic society would better reflect Palestine’s multiculturalism.

Karmi puts forward some proposals for the materialization of a single secular democratic state in Palestine, such as the need for the Palestinian Authority to move from being “a pseudo-government of a non-existent state with unrealistic aims into a campaigning body that leads the equal rights project.”[5] Even so, Karmi is much more convincing when arguing about the impossibility of a two-state solution and the benefits of a secular democratic model than she is when explaining how this secular democratic state would come about.

This is not to say that the author is naïve, because she is clear about the fact that an equal rights system “will be different to accomplish, and can only be done in stages.”[6] Still, some of the major obstacles in the way of a single secular democratic state in Palestine remain relatively unexplored in Karmi’s book. She notes that Israel’s exploitation of “Palestine’s land and resources” would be a serious challenge to face before the creation of a secular democratic state.[7]

The problem, though, is even more complex. Legal and political equality would mean little without social equality. This is why Mazen Masri, a Senior Lecturer at the City Law School, University of London, remarks that “reparations, which should include restitution of property” would be needed to sustain a one-state option in Palestine, as they would contribute to “addressing the current state of economic inequality between Palestinians and Israelis.”[8] The per capita GDP annually in Israel is currently over $44,000 US whereas the figure for the West Bank and Gaza barely overcomes the $3,000-mark.

In May 2021, after the Israeli crackdown on the Jerusalemite neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the beginning of Israel’s new offensive against the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Israel initiated massive protests and boycotts that came to be known as the “Unity Uprisings.” Karmi describes the uprisings as marked by “an exhilaration, a feeling that something was changing.”[9] Considering that pro-Palestinian voices in Europe and the US were stronger than ever in the wake of the uprisings, she writes that “the tragic routine of Israeli brutality, Palestinian defiance without result, and international indifference, was being challenged at last.”[10] In the “Unity Uprisings”, where Palestinian resistance presented a united front, Karmi finds hope for the creation of a secular democratic state in the whole of Palestine. The unbalance of economic and military power between Israel and the Palestinians makes one think that Karmi might be too optimistic. But at the same time, one hopes that Karmi’s optimism is not misplaced.


[1] Ghada Karmi, “Palestinians Need a One-State Solution,” The Guardian, December 20, 2012,

[2] Ghada Karmi, One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel (London: Pluto Press, 2023), p. 87.

[3] Azmi Bishara, Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice (London: Hurst and Co., 2022), p. 286.

[4] Karmi, One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel, p. 169.

[5] Ibid., p. 150.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., p. 148.

[8] Mazen Masri, “Constitutional Frameworks for a One-State Option in Palestine: An Assessment,” in Rethinking Statehood in Palestine: Self-Determination and Decolonization Beyond Partition (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2021), p. 228.

[9] Karmi, One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel, p. 157.

[10] Ibid.

How did Turkish President Erdoğan Survive the Strongest Challenge Yet? Mon, 05 Jun 2023 04:15:14 +0000 Munich (Special to Informed Comment; Feature) – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won the elections in Türkiye. Again. In power for two decades, first as prime minister and then as president, Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) secured a relatively comfortable victory over Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the runoff election held on May 28. Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the center-left Republican People’s Party (CHP), had the support of the “The Table of Six.” This opposition platform was born when the CHP joined forces with the right-wing nationalist IYI Parti and four smaller parties. Kılıçdaroğlu garnered 47.8% of the votes in the runoff election, more than four percentage points below Erdoğan and his 52.2% of support. As we will see, Erdoğan went to the polls at a very complicated time for him and his party, but he exploited the advantages of his incumbent status and benefited from the opposition’s numerous strategic mistakes.   

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ANKARA, TURKIYE- JUNE 3: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan first received his mandate from MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli, as the temporary chairman of the Parliament, and then took the oath at the General Assembly on June 3, 2023 in Ankara, Türkiye. Re-elected President once again in the 28 May election, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s duty, which he will continue until 2028, has officially started. The first ceremony was held in the Turkish Grand National Assembly.(Photo by Ugur Yildirim/ dia images via Getty Images).

Türkiye finds itself in a deep economic crisis, which most analysts agree has been worsened by Erdoğan’s unorthodox economic policies and his spending spree before the election. The months before the electoral contest were also marked by the earthquake that shook south-eastern Türkiye and northern Syria, leaving over 50,000 people dead on the Turkish side of the border alone. In the aftermath of the natural disaster, multiple reports showed that the low construction standards condoned by local authorities and the Turkish government resulted in avoidable deaths.

Erdoğan and his center-right AKP have worked over the years to create an institutional and media environment that facilitates their repeated electoral successes. According to an observation mission of the Turkish elections conducted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), “biased media coverage and the lack of a level playing field gave an unjustified advantage to the incumbent.” However, the strategic mistakes of the opposition also need to be considered to understand why they failed to unseat Erdoğan at his moment of maximum weakness. It has been noted that Kılıçdaroğlu’s promises to assign vice presidential positions to the different party leaders of the opposition coalition sent a confusing message to the Turkish population regarding who would be in charge if the opposition won. The contrast with Erdoğan’s personalist platform was certainly stark. Even so, if skillfully communicated along the lines of “unity in diversity”, the collective leadership of the opposition platform could have proven a strength rather than a weakness.

In contrast, it was known long before the election campaign started that Kılıçdaroğlu was not the best presidential candidate for the opposition. Different polls from early 2022 to early 2023 showed that CHP politicians Ekrem Imamoğlu and Mansur Yavaş, the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara respectively, were far more popular than Kılıçdaroğlu. In December 2022, a judicial ruling banned Imamoğlu from politics (he has been able to stay in office while appealing the decision) for referring to members of the Turkish supreme election council as “fools.” Imamoğlu’s accusations came after the members of the council forced a repetition of the 2019 local elections in Istanbul, which Imamoğlu won by a wider margin than the initial elections that were declared void. Imamoğlu’s legal problems clearly affected his chances of running for president, but Yavaş did not have any obvious impediment.

If Erdoğan was the personification of victory, in discursive terms the triumph went for anti-immigration positions. In fact, the reason Erdoğan failed to win the election in the first round, as he had done in 2014 and 2018, was the strong showing of the ultra-nationalist Sinan Oğan, who received 5.2% of the votes. Oğan’s campaign largely revolved  around promises to send back Syrian refugees living in Türkiye – according to the Turkish government, 3.7 million Syrian refugees out of a total of 5.5 million foreigners live in the country. Oğan found fertile ground in a country that has seen the emergence of deadly assaults on refugees and immigrant neighborhoods during the last years. When recently polled on the subject of Syrian refugees, more than 88.5% of Turks demonstrated that they want them to return to their country.

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Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu attends a swearing-in ceremony at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, June 2, 2023. (Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP) (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The runoff contest had almost become a formality after the first-round results: 49.5% of the vote went for Erdoğan and 44.9% for Kılıçdaroğlu, which put the AKP leader half a point away from victory. The impressively high turnout, at 87.4%, meant that the opposition’s options to mobilize citizens who had not participated in the first round were very limited. To complicate matters further, after the first round the opposition lost a few key days involved in recriminations, the restructuring of the election campaign team, and carving up a new strategy for the runoff. The despair within the opposition camp was closely related to the high expectations generated by the majority of pre-election polls, which suggested Kılıçdaroğlu would emerge on top after the first round.

Once the soul-searching came to an end, the next step was the pursuit of Oğan’s votes to have a slight chance in the runoff. There were rumors that the opposition offered Oğan to head a new migration ministry or even the vice presidency if he were to support Kılıçdaroğlu in the second round. At the end, he sided with Erdoğan although the Turkish President did not appear to make any concession to him. Oğan probably saw Erdoğan was going to win regardless of his decision and preferred to back the strongest force. The opposition had to content itself with the support of Umit Ozdag, the leader of the far-right Victory Party, which had been the main party in the alliance that backed Oğan’s candidacy in the first round.

Although both the government and the opposition coalition promised to send refugees back to Syria, the anti-refugee discourse has been “much more prominent” in the opposition camp, explains Chatham House Associate Fellow Galip Dalay. During the two weeks between the first round and the runoff election, Kılıçdaroğlu stepped up his anti-refugee messages. Six days before the second round, in a rally in the province of Hatay, which borders Syria, Kılıçdaroğlu exhorted his audience to “make up your mind before refugees take over the country.” Hatay would go on to become the only province in Türkiye where there was a shift of winner: Kılıçdaroğlu won the first round, Erdoğan the second.

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY – MAY 29: Members of the public are seen near the Hagia Sophia the day after Erdogan was re-elected to presidency on May 29, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. On Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won another 5-year term after he was forced into a runoff election with the opposition politician Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Erdogan prevailed despite criticism of his management of the country’s economy and the government’s response to the devastating earthquakes earlier this year. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images).

The roadmap to gain Oğan’s vote was not a complete failure, but the opposition needed around 90% of Oğan’s votes to win the election if turnout had remained constant – a possibility that became even more distant as turnout fell by 3.1% in the second round. This meant Erdoğan needed a lesser number of votes to overcome the 50% mark in the runoff election. In fact, the 27.13 million votes Erdoğan received in the first round (as compared to 27.83 million votes in the second) would have been enough to win the second round with over 51% of the valid votes.

Three different provinces illustrate the limited success of the opposition in winning over Oğan voters. In both Kayseri and Bilecik, Oğan received more than 8% of the vote, far above the national average of 5.2%. In the second round, the share of the vote for Kılıçdaroğlu increased at the same rate as Erdoğan’s in Kayseri while Kılıçdaroğlu’s gains in Bilecik were only slightly bigger – 1.6% more than Erdoğan. Something similar happened in Bursa, a far more important province in electoral terms as it is Türkiye’s fourth in number of population. In this western region, Oğan received 7.4% of the vote in the first round. In the second round, Kılıçdaroğlu’s share of the vote increased by 4.5% and Erdoğan’s by 3%.

The opposition did a better job in Istanbul and Ankara, the two largest metropolitan areas, where its margin of victory doubled, but the differences remained too small to compensate for Erdoğan’s overwhelming wins in Central Anatolia and the Black Sea region. Furthermore, Ozdag’s Victory Party support for the opposition proved to have negative consequences in the Kurdish-majority areas of Türkiye. This is something several analysts had expected given the Victory party’s strong anti-Kurdish views. In Diyarbakır, Van, and Mardin, the most populated Kurdish provinces won by Kılıçdaroğlu in the first round, the opposition’s candidate lost between 0.3 and 1% of the vote in the runoff election. The number of votes for Erdoğan in these provinces hardly increased, but the fall in the turnout rate was higher than the national average of 3.1% – 6% in Diyarbakır and Van, 4% in Mardin – suggesting the opposition failed to re-mobilize some of the voters who had previously voted for Kılıçdaroğlu.

Part of the problem for Kılıçdaroğlu was that most of the support he received in the Kurdish areas in the first round consisted of tactical voting. The first round of the presidential election was held together with the parliamentary elections, which the opposition lost to the AKP and its ultra-nationalist ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The pro-Kurdish and left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) called for HDP supporters to back Kılıçdaroğlu in the presidential election, forgoing putting up their own presidential candidate as they had done in the past. In the parliamentary elections, however, the HDP put forward its candidates under the umbrella of the Green Left Party (YSP), which gained close to 9% of the vote and was the strongest political force in 13 south-eastern provinces. It is reasonable to assume that a significant number of Kurdish voters who had split their vote for Kılıçdaroğlu and the YSP in the first round decided to stay at home for the second round, especially considering Kılıçdaroğlu’s reach-out to the anti-Kurdish Victory Party.

Erdoğan and his AKP had probably never been weaker than they were in the run-up to these recent parliamentary and presidential elections. Consequently, the opposition has strong reasons to believe it has missed an incomparable opportunity. Under the new presidential system, Erdoğan will not be allowed to run for president again in 2028 due to a two-term limit. Even so, the difficulties for the opposition arising from “the lack of a level playing field” in Turkish elections will likely only have increased by 2028. Considering the results of the second round of the presidential election, the CHP is in a good position to maintain the mayorships of Istanbul and Ankara in the 2024 local elections. But even if these good prospects for the opposition materialize, these wins will have a sour taste with four more years to go until the next presidential and parliamentary elections.

Is Israel Over-Hyping the Supposed Iran Threat? Fri, 19 May 2023 04:17:18 +0000 Review of Jonathan G. Leslie, Fear and Insecurity: Israel and the Iran Threat Narrative (London: Hurst and Co., 2022).

Munich (Special to Informed Comment; Feature) – “Words have consequences,” writes Jonathan G. Leslie on the last page of his book “Fear and Insecurity: Israel and the Iran Threat Narrative.” He argues that the predominant Israeli narrative on Iran, which originates in official statements and media reports, creates an outsized image of Iran’s threat to Israel.[1] Leslie is an adjunct professor and consultant at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, Washington.

There is no denying that Iranian leaders often espouse anti-Semitic tropes. In one of the most disgraceful examples, then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s said in 2009 that the Holocaust was a myth. Moreover, Tehran supports groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas that regularly target Israel. Direct rhetorical threats against Israel are also common in the speeches of Iranian officials. Last month, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi pronounced a speech stating that the slightest Israeli move against Iran would “bring about the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

Jonathan G. Leslie, Fear and Insecurity: Israel and the Iran Threat Narrative (London: Hurst, 2022). Click Here

Still, the behavior of Iranian leaders does not validate what Leslie calls the “Iran Threat Narrative.” This is a vision that paints Israel as being perpetually on the brink of falling victim to the fanatical Iranian regime. The narrative is largely at odds with the fact that Israel is a richer and militarily stronger state than Iran. Israel does not only possess nuclear weapons but has also long been a close ally of the world’s biggest military power, the United States. Iran has progressively accumulated weapons-grade nuclear material after the Trump administration withdrew in May 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that constrained Iran’s nuclear program. However, Iran remains a non-nuclear state. And, for all of Raisi’s efforts to establish partnerships away from the West, neither Russia nor China will offer Iran the level of support Israel receives from Washington.

Leslie convincingly argues that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the key personality to understand the emergence and strength of the Iran Threat Narrative. There were prior indicators of what was to come. The author explains that in 1996 Shimon Peres became the first Israeli prime minister to publicly compare Iran to Nazi Germany. But it was Netanyahu, especially after his return to power in 2009 – he had previously been prime minister from 1996 to 1999 – who “transformed the Iran threat from a technical security challenge into a moral crusade, his tropes echoing the titanic and multigenerational struggle between good and evil,” notes Leslie.[2]

In an academic article on Netanyahu’s populist foreign policy, Leslie referred to an illustrative speech given by the Israeli prime minister at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in 2014. In his address to the US pro-Israel lobby, Netanyahu contrasted the “humane” and “compassionate” State of Israel, which represents a “force for good” in the world, with the “forces of terror” embodied by Iran and its proxies, who are “steeped in blood.”[3]

There are several reasons that explain why Netanyahu has been so successful in pushing forward his Iran Threat Narrative. Firstly, it “is far easier to sustain a mobilized constituency against a problem or enemy than it is to implement a policy solution.”[4] Secondly, a nuclear threat is an intangible one – different from rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, for instance – making its veracity more difficult to contest by the broader public, which normally has a scant understanding of the topic. And thirdly, and equally importantly, Netanyahu has always had a cavalier attitude toward truth. This could be seen in 2012, when the Israeli prime minister declared Iran was one year away from producing a nuclear bomb. Not only has this warning failed to materialize more than a decade afterwards, but leaked documents later showed that Israel’s secret service, the Mossad, was fully aware back in 2012 that the evidence did not support Netanyahu’s claims.

It is uncertain to which extent Netanyahu actually believes in the Iran threat. What is clearer, explains Leslie, is that the narrative he has built around an ever-threatening Iran has proven useful. On the international front, although only to a certain extent, it has diverted attention from Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Internally, it has provided Netanyahu with a platform “for positioning himself as a strong leader who merited voter support.”[5]

The Iran Threat Narrative is built around the idea that Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb and, even more significantly, that the power holders in Tehran are so fanatical that they would use nuclear weapons if they had access to them regardless of the consequences. After all, there are already nine nuclear states in the world. The point, or so the Iran Threat Narrative goes, is that Iran is different. Israeli media reports have long portrayed Iranian leaders as “irrational and lacking in self-restraint.”[6] To Netanyahu, it seems obvious that the Islamic Republic will “always be led by a ‘madman’ or ‘villain’,” writes Leslie.[7]

Netanyahu’s actions have, paradoxically enough, made the Iran threat more real. The conservative leader put considerable effort into lobbying Trump against the JCPOA. As Leslie details, Netanyahu soon recognized that “the best strategy for moving Trump to action would be an appeal to his ego.”[8] The JCPOA was Obama’s signature international agreement, and the Israeli prime minister fed Trump’s conviction that he could either negotiate a better deal or lead the United States in a confrontation with Iran. Netanyahu’s tailored approach to Trump included a visit to the TV show Fox & Friends, the former president’s favorite TV program, and a Twitter offensive against the deal, knowing perfectly well that Trump was an avid user of the social platform.

In May 2019, exactly one year after Trump abandoned the JCPOA, Tehran re-started some of the nuclear activities that had been put on hold to comply with the deal. The Iranian leaders had grown tired of waiting for a renegotiation of the agreement or a workable European Union mechanism that would guarantee the economic benefits of the deal even without the participation of the United States. During the last few years, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has seen its access to Iranian nuclear facilities progressively reduced, in parallel to Iran’s growing uranium enrichment. The election of a conservative parliament in 2020 and the hardliner Raisi as president in 2021 further complicated the situation.

One of the most original aspects of Leslie’s research is his study of the frequency of mentions to Iran in the speeches of the main Israeli politicians. In 2010, Netanyahu’s first full year as prime minister after a decade out of power, the Likud leader mentioned Iran twice as often as his predecessor Ehud Olmert in 2008, his last full year as prime minister. This supports Leslie’s thesis that Netanyahu changed the rules of the game regarding the perception of Iran as a threat within Israel.

But more relevant than this is perhaps the fact that Netanyahu doubled the frequency of his mentions to Iran in the 2013-2015 period as compared to the 2010-2012 period. Leslie remarks that “Netanyahu averaged more attacks on Iran in his speeches and public statements during the Rouhani administration than during the Ahmadinejad years.”[9] It might appear counter-intuitive that the moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who engaged the international community to regulate Iran’s nuclear program, was perceived as more threatening than his bellicose predecessor. But there are strong reasons to assume that what Netanyahu feared even more than a nuclear Iran was an Iran re-integrated into international society. His efforts to dynamite the JCPOA speak in favor of this thesis.

Leslie aptly identifies some of the recurring themes in Israel’s depiction of Iran. In this sense, his study of the increasingly frequent appearance in the Jerusalem Post of the terms “Ayatollahs” and “Mullahs”, both simplistic but widespread terms to refer to Iran’s ruling class, is particularly illuminating. This notwithstanding, it would have been interesting to find in the book an analysis of how vilifying attributes depicting Iran can be understood within broader Israeli and Western discourses rife with Orientalist beliefs. These discourses gained new strength with the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror” after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and President George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech in 2002, where he presented Iran alongside Iraq and North Korea. In his book “Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World,” published in 1981, Edward Said already analyzed how the US media resorted to Orientalist tropes in its coverage of the hostage crisis that followed the storming of the US embassy in Tehran by Khomeini followers in 1979.

In “Fear and Insecurity”, Leslie convincingly demonstrates that words have consequences and that these can be profound. Considering that most works on Iran-Israel tensions have focused on the material dimensions of the confrontation, the author’s focus on the power of discourse, which he skillfully dissects, is a most refreshing perspective. In the brief interregnum between Netanyahu’s fifth and sixth governments, from June 2021 to December 2022, prime ministers Naftali Bennet and Yair Lapid closely followed the Likud’s leader line when it came to Iran. Thus, everything seems to indicate that the Iran Threat Narrative has come to stay.


[1] Jonathan G. Leslie, Fear and Insecurity: Israel and the Iran Threat Narrative (London: Hurst and Co., 2022), p. 225.

[2] Ibid., p. 31.

[3] Jonathan G. Leslie, “Netanyahu’s Populism: An Overlooked Explanation for Israeli Foreign Policy,” The SAIS Review of International Affairs 37, no. 1 (2017): 77.

[4] Leslie, Fear and Insecurity, p. 18.

[5] Ibid., p. 152.

[6] Ibid., p. 118.

[7] Ibid., p. 157.

[8] Ibid., p. 187.

[9] Ibid., p. 169.

Crossing a Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression (Review) Tue, 25 Apr 2023 04:08:24 +0000  
Review of Amahl A. Bishara, Crossing A Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression (Stanford: University of Stanford Press, 2022).  

Barcelona (Special to Informed Comment) – In 2003, Amahl A. Bishara, currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University, arrived in Palestine as a PhD student to conduct fieldwork. After only some weeks doing research in the West Bank, she visited her aunt in the Galilee, an area where some Arab communities were allowed to stay after the Nakba in 1948. Bishara was astonished when her aunt asked, “how things were, really, in the West Bank.”[1] The aunt had spent her whole life in the Galilee, whereas Bishara had just arrived from abroad. The distance between Nazareth, the largest city in the Galilee, and Jenin, one of the main urban centers of the West Bank, is less than 20 miles as the crow flies.

In “Crossing a Line”, Bishara sheds light on how this gap between Palestinians was created and continues to be reproduced in the present, mainly by Israel but also by the Palestinian Authority. At the same time, the author introduces the reader to Palestinian efforts to bridge the divide. To do so, Bishara resorts to a varied array of resources, such as participant observation of public protests, the organization of a photography workshop, the analysis of media reports, or interviews with Palestinian activists and former prisoners.

Thanks to her US passport, Bishara had the opportunity to cross the Green Line, something denied to the majority of Palestinians. She used this relative privilege to attend numerous protests and demonstrations in Israel and the West Bank when, in the summer of 2014, the Israeli government launched a military operation against the Gaza Strip. Bishara witnessed how, despite constituting a reaction to the same events, protests inside the Green Line and in the West Bank were heavily dependent on their situational context and took different forms.

Amahl Bishara, Crossing a Line Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression. Click here.

In Al-Lidd/Lod, the 1948 Palestinians — those Palestinians who remained in Israel after the Nakba and their descendants — organized through social media and demonstrated while chanting the adapted version of a poem commending Palestinian steadfastness. Under the watch of the Israeli police, counterdemonstrators proffered anti-Arab slogans at the Palestinian protesters. In the West Bank city of Bethlehem, protests largely consisted of clashes with the Israeli army. There was little space for speech, and the cursing and stone-throwing by Palestinian youths were answered with disproportional force. The stakes were much higher for protesters in Bethlehem than they were in Al-Lidd/Lod. The Israeli army would detain many participants in Bethlehem in the days following the protests, and only in July 2014, 13 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank, most during protests.

The death of Palestinians at the hands of Israel leads to what Bishara calls “Palestinian rituals of digital mourning.”[2] The danger of falling victim to Israeli weapons is obviously higher for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, subject to regular indiscriminate bombings by the Israeli air force. Even so, videos showing the killing of Palestinians by the Israeli army or the police contribute to creating a digital national community because they are simultaneously watched in Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the diaspora. As Nadya Hajj argues in her book “Networked Refugees”, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), although not without their challenges, have greatly facilitated Palestinian global interconnectedness.

During the summer of 2014, Bishara organized a photography workshop with the participation of Palestinians from Jaffa and the Aida refugee camp close to Bethlehem. The project aimed at investigating how the two groups, coming from different sides of the Green Line, relate to each other considering that their political experiences and knowledge are mediated by different situational contexts. The participants graphically documented their daily environments, with a final exhibition of curated photographs in Jaffa. The Palestinians from Jaffa were often surprised about the difficulties faced by their counterparts to obtain the necessary Israeli permits to travel to Jaffa and participate in the workshop. When the exhibition was finally inaugurated — an event the Palestinians from the Aida refugee camp could not attend as they did not obtain the required permits — the project coordinator of the Jaffa group reflected on the whole experience in a succinct and insightful way:

“If you ask what ties these two places together, I would say one sentence: There is one thing that brings us together, and it is something that separates us also. It is the occupation.”[3]

Israel’s settler-colonial project has in the prison system one of its essential pillars. According to statistics from September 2022, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) is holding 4,241 Palestinians, with an increasing number of prisoners being detained without charge or trial. In Rashid Khalidi’s words, Israeli prisons are designed to “control, confine, and dominate” the Palestinian population.[4]

As with so many other aspects of Israel’s repression, 1948 Palestinians and Palestinians in the West Bank have a different relationship with political imprisonment. Whereas it is an uncommon experience for Palestinians in Israel, in the West Bank the shadow of Israeli prisons always looms large. And yet, when Palestinians meet in Israeli prisons, it becomes an opportunity to “smudge the Green Line”, in Bishara’s graphic terms.[5] The prisoners, and their families, develop a sense of community that challenges their imposed separation outside of the prison’s walls.

Leiden University lecturer Sai Englert has written about the risk of taking for granted “the idea of a fragmented Palestinian people.” When following this narrative, “the divisions imposed on the Palestinian people by the Israeli state are reproduced uncritically, with each section of the population treated separately.”[6] Bishara’s book approaches Palestinians as a whole while being fully aware that Israel’s power, and to a lesser extent intra-Palestinian divisions, have often succeeded in fragmenting Palestine. The author explains that she would have liked to extend her research to the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, she had to discard the idea as it would have required facing huge logistical challenges, coordinating with Israeli authorities, and a good deal of luck.

“Crossing a Line” is not a direct answer to the question posed by Bishara’s aunt. Instead, it is a necessary exploration of why such a question emerged in the first place. Connecting Palestinians living in Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the diaspora requires a difficult and conscious effort to do so. The very structure of occupation promotes atomization, which severely undermines the Palestinian cause. Bridging the divide among Palestinians, as Bishara and many others seek to do, is a necessary step in the way to a freer Palestine.



[1] Amahl A. Bishara, Crossing a Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2022), p. 256.

[2] Ibid., p. 179.

[3] Ibid., p. 168.

[4] Rashid I. Khalidi, “From the Editor: Israel: A Carceral State,” Journal of Palestine Studies 43, no. 4 (2014): 7.

[5] Bishara, Crossing a Line, p. 243.

[6] Sai Englert, Settler Colonialism: An Introduction (London: Pluto Press, 2022), p. 218.

The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan (Review) Wed, 05 Apr 2023 04:08:51 +0000 Review of Ahmad Shuja Jamal and William Maley, The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan (London: Hurst and Co., 2023).

Munich, Germany (Special to Informed Comment) – The Republic of Afghanistan unraveled quickly after May 2021 when US-led foreign troops prepared to abandon the country. This defied the forecasts of most experts on the capacity of the Afghan government to resist the Taliban offensives, which proved over-optimistic. Nevertheless, if past is prologue, the sudden collapse of the Afghan Republic should not have appeared so far-fetched. Ahmad Shuja Jamal and William Maley argue so in their recently published book “The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan”. As the authors explain, both the downfall of the Communist regime in 1992 and the Taliban regime in 2001 proceeded at a remarkable speed. With this historical background in mind, the events of August 2021 in Afghanistan are less surprising.

Ahmad Shuja Jamal and William Maley,The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan
. Click here.

Ahmad Shuja Jamal was the director-general for international relations on Kabul’s National Security Council from 2019 to 2021 and is now a Special Advisor to the Refugee Council of Australia. William Maley is a scholar on Afghanistan and Emeritus Professor of Diplomacy at the Australian National University. In writing their book, the authors were able to rely on their previous scholarly research, interviews with high-ranking personalities of the former Afghan government, and Jamal’s personal experience on the ground until the final collapse of Republican Afghanistan.

“The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan” has a distinct style. There is something very positive to be said about the authors’ efforts to de-essentialize the analysis of Afghan politics and history by drawing comparisons with other countries and time periods. Jamal and Maley also introduce general political science literature (authors such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, or Max Weber) to clarify their arguments about Afghanistan. Often enough, however, the digressions from the main topic are long and frequent to the point that the reader might lose track of the main narrative.

The authors discuss some of the key problems that afflicted Afghanistan during the two decades that followed the Taliban overthrow in 2001. The new republic, they remark, suffered from a lack of legitimacy derived from a highly centralized state structure, competition between different government agencies, and the patrimonial dynamics that led ministers to benefit their supporters in exchange for loyalty. The state courts suffered from corruption and long delays. In this sense, Afghanistan scholar Ashley Jackson has aptly remarked that justice provision by the Taliban insurgency in the areas where they gained control allowed them “to capitalise on the government’s weaknesses.”[1]

Jamal and Maley also pay attention to the dependency of the post-2001 governments on foreign aid. This dependent relationship was “a reflection of asymmetries of power” between the international community and Afghanistan.[2] Many of the development projects implemented by foreign donors had a short-term horizon. The results were quick and visible but these projects were hardly the most effective way of deploying economic resources. Foreign donors usually had the upper hand, and the authors note that “only a small proportion of aid contributed to Afghanistan was available to the Afghan government for discretionary spending.”[3]

The Afghan leaders, in turn, were most often not up to the task of rebuilding the country while having to confront a renewed Taliban insurgency. Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan from 2002 to 2014, is described by the authors as someone who excelled “in the realm of politicking” but was highly dependent on others when it came to formulating policy. [4] Furthermore, he fomented a neopatrimonial system that ultimately weakened the stability of his country. In this respect, Amin Saikal, a Professor at the University of Western Australia, explains that the control of ‘strongmen’ over vast areas of Afghanistan “severely limited Karzai’s writ and made him highly dependent on the goodwill of these figures and on meeting their demands.”[5]

Ashraf Ghani succeeded Karzai and differed from him in the sense that he had a long academic and professional background in public policy. Most of his ideas were never implemented, though. Furthermore, Jamal and Maley contend that Karzai’s confrontational style towards opponents, in addition to his antagonizing personnel management, alienated key actors that could have helped him thwart the Taliban expansion. But perhaps more important than all these particular personal flaws, was the fact that the presidential elections in 2009, 2014, and 2019 were marred by fraud in favor of the winning candidate.

The authors are highly critical of US policy towards Afghanistan, especially during the Trump and Biden administrations. They write that the 2020 Doha agreement between the US and the Taliban “lit the fuse, with President Biden’s 14 April 2021 endorsement of a time-based rather than conditions-based withdrawal adding vast amounts of fuel to the flames.”[6] Some of the criticism leveled in “The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan” is indeed well-deserved. For instance, the US reluctance to confront Pakistan for the support its army – or sections thereof – provided to the Taliban had devastating consequences.

Moreover, the hope entertained by some US officials and Afghanistan experts that the Taliban would show a more human face than in the 1990s if they were to reach power has by now been largely disproved. The Taliban have largely avoided the gruesome public executions from the past and the general level of violence in the country has significantly decreased since the armed group’s takeover.[7] Even so, under the Taliban women and religious minorities like the Shia Hazara have seen evaporate their hard-fought gains during the last two decades.

Other arguments put forward by Jamal and Maley regarding the US role in Afghanistan are far less convincing. The authors acknowledge that around 2019 the prospect of achieving a military victory over the Taliban had faded away but argue that the focus should have been on “not losing” [authors’ own italics].[8] Why? Because “the possibility of parametric shifts in the operating environment can never be discounted.”[9] Jamal and Maley do not provide any example of a possible “parametric shift” in the Afghanistan context. Consequently, one is left wondering whether avoiding defeat would not have entailed keeping US and other countries’ troops in Afghanistan ad perpetuam.

Many readers are also likely to be left unconvinced when the authors contend that the US decision to leave Afghanistan “dispelled any fear in Moscow that the US would take active steps to protect Washington’s friends in Kyiv.”[10] Op-eds arguing that the US’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan emboldened China, and to a lesser extent, Russia, proliferated after the Taliban takeover in Kabul. But neither these opinion articles nor Jamal and Maley’s book, provide a causal explanation connecting what happened in Afghanistan with the presumed outcome. The same lack of clear causation is to be found in an unfortunate sentence at the end of the book. When criticizing Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, the authors write that Biden “was the oldest president in the history of the United States, potentially bringing with him some of the rigidities in thinking that can accompany old age.”[11]

The borders between analysis and opinion in The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan are not always as clearly drawn as they should have been. This notwithstanding, Jamal and Maley’s work is a well-written publication that will contribute to the ongoing and necessary debate about the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban and the current situation in the country.




[1] Jackson, Ashley. Negotiating Survival: Civilian–Insurgent Relations in Afghanistan (London: Hurst and Co., 2021), p. 128.

[2]  Jamal, Ahmad Shuja, and William Maley. The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan (London: Hurst and Co., 2023), p. 63.

[3] Ibid., p. 59.

[4] Ibid., p. 112.

[5] Saikal, Amin. Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 2014), p. 42.

[6] Ahmad Shuja Jamal and William Maley, The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan, p. 153.

[7] International Crisis Group. “Afghanistan’s Security Challenges under the Taliban.” (Kabul/Brussels: International Crisis Group, August 12, 2022), p. 2.

[8] Ahmad Shuja Jamal and William Maley, The Decline and Fall of Republican Afghanistan, p. 91.

[9] Ibid., p. 198.

[10] Ibid., p. 91.

[11] Ibid., p. 199-200.

A Crucial Year: Turkey at a Turning Point Sat, 18 Mar 2023 04:20:41 +0000 Reviews of Gönül Tol, Erdoğan’s War: A Strongman’s Struggle at Home and in Syria (London: Hurst and Co., 2022) and Dimitar Bechev, Turkey Under Erdoğan: How a Country Turned from Democracy and the West (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2022).


Augsburg, Germany (Feature: Special to Informed Comment) – At the beginning of 2023, it was already clear that the new year would be a decisive one in the future of Türkiye. The country was expected to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic and conduct parliamentary and presidential elections. At the polls, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faced a real risk of defeat after two decades in power, fueled by a severe economic crisis and growing resentment against Syrian refugees. And then came the devastating earthquakes of February 6, which led to more than 45,000 people losing their lives in Türkiye. The earthquakes, which affected south-eastern Türkiye and the north of Syria, have left around 1.5 million homeless people in Türkiye alone.

Erdoğan announced that the earthquakes would not delay the elections, scheduled for May 14. The most recent polling data suggests the level of support for Erdoğan has remained unchanged despite accusations that governmental oversight of construction standards resulted in a higher death toll when the earthquakes shook southeastern Türkiye. 2023 will now forever be remembered in Türkiye as the year in which the Republic celebrated its centenary, key national elections were held, and the country experienced its deadliest earthquake in modern history.

Two books published in 2022 help us understand Erdoğan’s two decades in power. They also provide some clues on Türkiye’s future course. In Turkey Under Erdoğan: How a Country Turned from Democracy and the West, Dimitar Bechev, a Lecturer at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, captures the spirit of Erdoğan’s rule when he writes that “the longer the AKP [Justice and Development Party] stayed in office and the more power Erdoğan had in his hands, the stronger the majoritarian rhetoric became.”[1] In her book Erdoğan’s War: A Strongman’s Struggle at Home and in Syria, Gönül Tol, the founding director of the Middle East Institute’s Turkey program, offers another study of Erdoğan’s period in power. She pays particular attention to how Turkish politics has shaped and been shaped by the civil war that started in Syria in 2011.

Both books touch upon the key issues that are expected to decide the next elections. One of these is Türkiye’s economic situation. Erdoğan, having come to power in the wake of a severe economic crisis, has always prided himself on the almost continuous economic growth – only interrupted by the global financial crisis in 2009 – that Türkiye has experienced during AKP’s rule. This economic growth continues until the present day but has become spurious in the face of high inflation and currency depreciation.

In contrast to what happened in his early years in power, when economic decisions were the realm of technocrats, Erdoğan is now “surrounded by sycophants”, writes Tol.[2] Ali Babacan, whom Bechev describes as “one of the architects of Turkish economic policy in the boom years in the 2000s,”[3] abandoned the government in 2015. His story is representative of what happened to some of Erdoğan’s former fellow travelers. In 2020, Babacan founded the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), which teamed up with five other opposition parties in the so-called “Table of Six” framework that seeks to unseat Erdoğan.

Economic troubles were already a major factor in the opposition’s capture of Istanbul and Ankara in the 2019 local elections, and since then the economic situation has clearly taken a turn for the worse, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis. Another topic that already marked the local elections in 2019 but will be even more relevant this time is the increasingly hostile attitude of major sectors of Turkish society towards Syrian refugees. Although Erdoğan and his AKP initially welcomed Syrian refugees, this position was never really popular.

According to a poll from 2012, 52% of respondents were already against settling Syrians inside the country back then. Still, the situation has significantly changed during the last decade, with a recent poll finding that 85% of the respondents want the refugees to be sent back or confined to camps. Moreover, deadly assaults on refugees and gang attacks on immigrant neighborhoods have sadly become common. Not that anti-refugee sentiments are anything particularly Turkish, though. The country hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, almost four times as many as the whole European Union. As Bechev rightly notes, “European decision makers have been all too happy to pass on the burden of looking after Syrian refugees.”[4]

Syria and Türkiye have been more intertwined than ever during the last decade. Tol argues that Erdoğan used the Syrian conflict “to consolidate power” at home.[5] The Turkish president’s initial strong support for the opposition to Bashar Al-Assad appealed to his conservative Turkish and Kurdish base. At home, he initiated a rapprochement with Turkey’s Kurdish population. But his failure to secure a parliamentary majority in the July 2015 elections, together with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rejection of Erdoğan’s plans for an executive presidency, led to a U-turn in Erdoğan’s strategy. He fomented the collapse of peace negotiations with the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting the central Turkish state since 1978 and allied himself with the ultra-nationalist Devlet Bahçeli and his Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). In the November 2015 elections, the AKP recovered its electoral majority.    

Tol describes the Turkish president’s decision as a “genius political move that would allow Erdogan to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.”[6] The Turkish government progressively acknowledged that Al-Assad was unlikely to fall and focused on rolling back the self-autonomy achievements of Syria’s Kurds, a move applauded by the strongly anti-Kurdish MHP. Operation Euphrates Shield was launched in 2016 and established a Turkish-occupied area in Northern Syria. Operation Olive Branch would follow in 2018, widening the territory under Turkey’s control. The military incursions aimed at creating “safe zones where Turkey’s Syrian refugees can be relocated.”[7]

Nevertheless, only a small fraction of the refugees have returned to Syria, as most of them would like to become Turkish citizens and the situation in northern Syria remains unstable. The opposition has exploited the anti-refugee sentiments in Turkey. A good example of this tendency can be observed in Meral Akşener’s IYI Parti, which emerged as a split of MHP in 2017 and diverted a significant number of nationalist votes from the AKP-MHP block – the so-called “People’s Alliance” – in the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections. The Syrian war, which was once “full of opportunities” for Erdoğan, has become “his Achilles heel.”[8] This explains why Erdoğan appears increasingly ready to reconcile with Al-Assad, seeing in this possible rapprochement a way to force the return of Syrian refugees.

Bechev and Tol present somewhat divergent assessments of what the future holds for Türkiye. Bechev writes that “Erdoğan won’t surrender power”, arguing that “what matters is who counts the votes as much as how many ballots each candidate gets.”[9] Meanwhile, Tol believes that Erdoğan has damaged Türkiye’s institutions, but change is possible “if Erdogan is out of the picture and a popularly backed process of reforms is launched.”[10] One wonders, however, if an opposition victory in the elections would not bring new challenges of its own.

This will certainly be the case if the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the main opposition party, has not learnt from its past mistakes. As Bechev reminds us, the rise of Erdoğan and his AKP was importantly driven by an “illiberal opposition which rooted for the outright suppression of the AKP.”[11] The CHP, established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, has traditionally had an elitist understanding of politics.[12] The CHP understands “Turkishness” in a way that often excludes conservative Muslims and the Kurds.

In 2008, the CHP, together with army generals, judges, and university rectors, opposed Erdoğan’s government decision to lift the ban on female students wearing the headscarf at university. One of the most vocal opponents of Erdoğan’s decision was Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the current leader of CHP, who after long and complicated negotiations – which at one point risked fracturing the “Table of Six” – has finally been nominated as the opposition’s candidate to replace Erdoğan as president of Türkiye.

Although the CHP has changed its official position on the headscarf debate, many in Türkiye still fear CHP’s secularism. Meanwhile, the IYI Parti currently represents “the most stridently anti-refugee party”[13] – with the exception of the recently founded Victory Party, which denounces the presence of foreigners in Türkiye as an “invasion” and polls around 2% of the total vote. The anti-refugee wave might bring electoral success to the opposition, but it comes at a high cost for Syrian refugees and overall societal cohesion.

It is also unclear what an opposition victory would represent for the pro-Kurdish HDP. On the one hand, the Turkish opposition is reluctant to approach the HDP because it fears losing support among nationalist voters. On the other hand, the opposition clearly needs a majority of HDP supporters to vote for Kılıçdaroğlu in order to unseat Erdoğan. The votes of Kurds and pro-HDP Turks were already essential in securing the Istanbul mayorship for the CHP candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu in 2019. The opposition needs them once again. Now, the HDP faces the threat of closure at the hands of a deeply politicized Constitutional Court over alleged ties with outlawed Kurdish military groups.

The party’s bank accounts were frozen in January 2023. The freeze on the party’s bank accounts was lifted last week, when it was also known that the HDP will present its case to the court on April 11. The HDP will support the opposition not out of conviction but because it sees Kılıçdaroğlu as the lesser of two evils.

Both Bechev and Tol’s books provide a concise and clever portrait of Türkiye in the last two decades. Although their works discuss varied aspects of Turkish political and social life, they  put the spotlight on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as he has decisively shaped Türkiye’s history in the 21st century. The coming months are meant to decide whether his figure recedes to the background or looms larger than ever.

n ever.




[1] Bechev, Dimitar. Turkey Under Erdoğan:  How a Country Turned from Democracy and the West (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2022), p. 54.

[2] Tol, Gönül. Erdoğan’s War: A Strongman’s Struggle at Home and in Syria (London: Hurst and Co., 2022), p. 244.

[3] Bechev, Turkey Under Erdoğan, p. 140.

[4] Ibid., p. 196.

[5] Tol, Erdoğan’s War, p. 295.

[6] Ibid., p. 189.

[7] Ibid., p. 261.

[8] Ibid., p. 295.

[9] Bechev, Turkey Under Erdoğan, p. 215.

[10] Tol, Erdoğan’s War, p. 285.

[11] Bechev, Turkey Under Erdoğan, p. 163.

[12] Sofos, Spyros A., Turkish Politics and ‘The People’: Mass Mobilisation and Populism (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022), p. 127.

[13] Tol, Erdoğan’s War, p. 246.