CCAS Newsmagazine Fall 2016/Winter 2017

Page 1

CCAS Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

Georgetown University

Fall 2016-Winter 2017


Syria Today

Reflections on soldiers, sieges, and state relations

DIRECTOR’S LETTER Dear friends of the CCAS,


I near the end of my administrative directorship at CCAS, I cannot help but recall that my tenure began as the Arab world was undergoing sweeping historical transformations, and dictating new academic considerations of the region and its peoples. The CCAS responded swiftly to the challenging realities on the ground with innovative instructional and public educational programming, and with renewed commitments to practical and positive engagements with the Arab world. Over the last six years, we endeavored to enhance the academic excellence of our curriculum of instruction, the intellectual salience of our public events, and the attractiveness of our financial aid to incoming and current students. We confirmed our defense of academic freedoms and human rights in the Arab world by participating in initiatives to advance open and impartial dialogue, and hosting persecuted colleagues from the region. Our participation in such programs, in addition to our emphatic endorsement of diversity, impartiality, and inclusivity at home, were made all the more pressing in light of the recent electoral results, and I welcome this opportunity to reiterate the Center’s longstanding pledge to stand for the rights and freedoms of our students, faculty, and personnel. In my years as Director, I always relied on our Board of Advisors and the exceptional support of its esteemed members for our educational mission. Their generous encouragement and warm friendship never failed to sustain and energize me over the years. I am especially grateful to David Jackson and Laurie Fitch for their capable successive stewardship of the Board since 2012. They revitalized its membership and operations, and guided and counseled me through thick and thin. Laurie and David moreover played leading roles in upgrading the financial well-being of the Center by initiating the programmatic Director’s Leadership Fund, with the help of board members Betty Sams, Peter Tanous, Peter Baumbusch, and HRH Turki al-Faisal. Our board members were also vital in our ability to expand our educational outreach under the National Resource Center Title VI grant, strengthen our graduate recruitments, and reinvigorate our alumni network. More significantly, gifts from Suad Husseini Juffali, Yusuf and Dina Alireza, Laurie Fitch, and the Peter Tanous Family established game-changing endowed scholarship funds. I am deeply indebted to them for their support of our Center, our faculty, our staff, and our students. I was also privileged to work with the Kuwait-America Foundation, the Brekelmans Family, and the Educational and Research Funding Organization to secure additional endowed funds aimed at recruiting gifted students from the Arab world or working in the field of Arab studies. My thanks to HE Rima El-Sabah, Dr. Naila Al-Sowayel, and Gail and Nico Brekelmans for their trust and friendship as we finalized the respective gift agreements. Finally, I was delighted to bring the renewal of the Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair to realization in 2012, and to participate in the successful launch of the American-Druze Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship, currently in its second year of productivity. While I acknowledge my gratitude to all who made the above successes possible, I also recognize the painful losses we experienced along the way, and would like to honor the memory of our departed friends Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, Barbara Stowasser, Rocky Suddarth, John Ruedy, and Nina Brekelmans. Their imprint on the CCAS is inscribed in each of our recent achievements, and it endures in our continuing efforts to improve mutual understanding between the United States and the Arab world. ♦ Osama Abi-Mershed s



CCAS Newsmagazine is published twice a year by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, a component of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Core Faculty

Osama W. Abi-Mershed Associate Professor; Director, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies Fida J. Adely Associate Professor; Director, Master of Arts in Arab Studies Program Marwa Daoudy Assistant Professor Rochelle A. Davis Associate Professor Daniel Neep Assistant Professor Joseph Sassoon Associate Professor and Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair Judith Tucker Professor

Affiliated Faculty

Mustafa Aksakal Associate Professor Mohammad AlAhmad Visiting Lecturer Belkacem Baccouche Visiting Instructor Elliott Colla Associate Professor Chair; Arabic and Islamic Studies Department Bassam Haddad Adjunct Professor and ASJ Editor Yvonne Y. Haddad Professor; Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding Noureddine Jebnoun Adjunct Assistant Professor


Alison Glick Assistant Director Kelli Harris Assistant Director of Academic Programs Susan Douglass K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator Azza Altiraifi Events Coordinator Vicki Valosik Multimedia and Publications Editor Brenda Bickett Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Bibliographer

CCAS Newsmagazine Editor-in-Chief Vicki Valosik Design Adriana Cordero


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

An online version of this newsletter is available at:

In This Issue



Left: Vicki Valosik; Right: Haithem Hammad Photography

CAS has seen several staffing changes over the past year as we’ve said goodbye to colleagues starting graduate school abroad, joining the Peace Corps, and setting off on other new adventures. We are thrilled, however, to welcome two new members to our team, Assistant Director Alison Glick and Events Coordinator Azza Altiraifi, and we look forward to seeing the many contributions they will make at CCAS. Alison Glick joined CCAS as Assistant Director in November, 2016. Before joining the Center, she worked in nonprofit education, developing curriculum and supporting ad­vocacy efforts focused on whistleblower rights and transparency issues. Alison previously work­­​ed in the Arab world as a teacher and human rights researcher in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and as a freelance writer based in Damascus, Syria. She has extensive experience in higher education administration and in managing business immigration and global mobility programs. Alison graduated Summa Cum Laude

Syrian Artists Featured in this Issue

Several of the artworks featured in this issue and on the cover are by Syrian artists Hani Abbas (cover, 15), Juan Zero (10-11), and Jaber Al Azmeh (9, 10). As their work illustrates, the long tradition of vivid and expressive art in Syria has not dimmed, despite war and displacement. Hani Abbas is a Syrian-Palestinian cartoonist whose work addresses the atrocities of war. He was born in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Syria. In 2012, he was threatened by Syrian security forces for his artwork and was forced to flee the country. He subsequently sought asylum in Switzerland, where he

from Temple University with a B.A. in Middle East History and speaks Levantine Arabic. Azza Altiraifi became the CCAS Events Coordinator in January 2017. Azza holds a B.A. in Law & Society from American University’s School of Public Affairs. She has interned at Al Jazeera English, served on the steering committee of the Muslim AntiRacism Collaborative (MuslimARC), and in­ terned for Green Door Behavioral Health. CCAS recently bid farewell to colleagues Tareq Radi and Rania Kiblawi. After serving as CCAS Events Coordinator for two years, Tareq left the Center this fall to begin graduate school at SOAS, University of London. Rania Kiblawi has been an integral part of CCAS for fourteen years, serving as Associate Director from 2006 to 2016, and prior to that as Events Coordinator. In August, Rania began a new position as Senior Public Affairs Advisor at Aramco Services Company in Washington, DC. The entire CCAS community thanks Rania and Tareq for their friendship and service and wishes them every success in their future endeavors. ♦

currently resides. In addition to war, he cartoons about the Palestinian struggle and human rights. Born and raised in Damascus, Syria, Juan Zero is a cartoonist whose art was some of the first to surface during the Syrian revolution in 2011. His work addresses the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian street, and has been exhibited across the world—in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, Barcelona, and Rome. Jaber Al Azmeh is a Syrian artist and photographer from Damascus who was forced to leave Syria at the onset of the civil war. He currently resides in Qatar, where he runs a company for commercial photography. Jaber has been named artist of the month by the French newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique, and his work has been featured across the globe in Berlin, Paris, London, Brussels, Venice, and Beirut. His work can be viewed at ♦

ON THE COVER 9 Faculty Feature Syrian Men as Vulnerable REGULAR FEATURES 4 Faculty News 5 MAAS News 6 Visiting Scholars The Long View on Syrian Migrants

12 Faculty Spotlight Turkey’s Syria Dilemma 15 Alumni Article The Resurgence of Siege Warfare in Syria 16 Public Events Raising Awareness of the Syrian Conflict

18 Education Outreach Beyond the Fab Five 20 Dispatches I hope to see you again… but not here SPECIAL SECTIONS 7 New Research The Making of Modern Syria

14 MAAS on the Move

Announcing the new Alumni News page

COVER ART Hani Abbas

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Judith Tucker Elected as Next MESA President CCAS congratulates Professor Judith Tucker, who was recently named President-elect of the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA). Dr. Tucker will serve as President of MESA as of November 2017 until November 2019.

Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬

Associate Professor Rochelle Davis is on sabbatical and senior scholar research leave for the 2016-2017 academic year, during which she has worked on a book manuscript on the US military’s conceptions of culture in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book is based on interviews with both soldiers and Iraqis about their experiences with the military’s cultural training material and how it guided their interactions. Professor Davis has also been working with colleagues and MAAS student research assistants on publications based on a project between Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Since September 2015, they’ve been conducting a longitudinal survey of 4,000 Iraqi households displaced by ISIS/ISIL and their ability to find durable solutions. She continues as the Primary Investigator for Georgetown’s National Resource Center on the Middle East and North Africa, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI Grant.

Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile


Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

Associate Professor Fida Adely was named Academic Director for the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program at CCAS, beginning her tenure at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year. She recently published a peer-reviewed article, “A Different Kind of Love: Compatibility (Insijam) and Marriage in Jordan,” in the Arab Studies Journal (Fall 2016). Professor Adely helped design and will be guest lecturing in a new one-credit class, “Activism in Higher Education.” She has also been invited to speak on the topic of women and education in the Arab world at Kehila Chadasha, “a progressive Jewish Community serving the Washington, D.C. area.”

Assistant Professor Daniel Neep published a peerreviewed article, “State-Space beyond Territory: Wormholes, Gravitational Fields, and Entanglement,” in the Journal of Historical Sociology (June 2016). In the fall he gave talks on Syria at the Middle East Institute, National University of Singapore and the International Relations program at New York University. He also presented ongoing research at the annual conferences of the Social Science History Association and the International Studies Association. After teaching graduate courses on the comparative politics of the Middle East and the politics of Syria last semester, Professor Neep is currently teaching the famous CCAS “501” core course, “Studying the Arab World: Theories and Approaches,” alongside a new undergraduate course in the School of Foreign Service entitled “Introduction to the Arab World.”

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬

Education Outreach ‫لتثقيف التربوي‬

Assistant Professor Marwa Daoudy recently participated in several panels, including “Iran and its Neighbors,” organized by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Istanbul, Turkey, and “Syria on the Brink” at George Mason University, where she presented “The Conflict and Trauma in Syria.” Professor Daoudy co-organized two public events at CCAS: a discussion of the documentary White Helmets and a showing of the “Caesar’s Photos” exhibit. At MESA’s annual meeting, Dr. Daoudy organized the panel, The Underlying Causes of War: Syria Five Years On, where she presented her paper “Water Securitization: State and Non-State Interactions in the Euphrates and Tigris Basins after the Syrian Uprising.” She published “The Structure-Identity Nexus: Syria and Turkey’s Collapse (2011)” in Cambridge Review of International Affairs (Dec. 2016) and an opinion piece for the Global Futures Blog (SFS) titled “Climate Change: The Need for Radical Transformation.” Dr. Daoudy is an affiliated researcher with the project “Critical Security Studies in the Arab World,” sponsored by the Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS) and was recently interviewed by Orient News TV.

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬


Vicki Valosik

Associate Professor Joseph Sassoon recently delivered a number of lectures, including “Iraq and Syria: Authoritarian Roots of Conflict” at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) in May 2016; “Authoritarian Resilience and Revision after the Arab Uprisings” at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC last June; and “Violence in the Arab Authoritarian Regimes” at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University in September. In addition, he gave talks related to his most recent book, Anatomy of Authoritarianism the Arab Republics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016) at Yale University and Princeton University. ♦

Faculty Research: ‫حاث هيئة التدريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University


MAAS News (Student News) ‫أخبار الطالب‬

Fida Adely Named New Visiting Scholar ‫باحث زائر‬ MAAS Director


August 2016, Dr. Fida Adely became the Academic Director of the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program at CCAS. She was preceded by Dr. Rochelle Davis, who served as Academic Director for three years. Dr. Adely, the Clovis and Hala Salaam Maksoud Chair in Arab Studies at CCAS, is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in women, gender, and development in the Arab World. Her book is titled Gendered Paradoxes: Educating Jordanian Women in Nation, Faith, and Progress (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Dr. Adely is currently researching university students in Jordan and their perceptions of higher education. “It has been a pleasure stepping in as the Academic Director for Arab Studies this academic year. I have welcomed the opportunity to get to know our students better, as well as my colleagues directing similar programs in SFS,” Dr. Adely said. “One of my goals this year is to lay the groundwork for greater engagement with our undergraduate certificate students. To this end, we have developed a capstone class for undergraduate students doing the Arab Studies certificate, being piloted by Dr. Neep this semester. As for the MAAS program, I am spending the year listening to and learning from students and colleagues to ensure that we continue to provide best academic program that we can provide.” ♦ n

Faculty News ‫أخبار هيئة التدريس‬ Staff Updates ‫آخرأخبار الموظفين‬ Board Member Profile

‫ص من المجلس األستشاري‬

Welcome to the MAAS Class of 2018! Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

This academic year, CCAS welcomed 24 new students to the MAAS program. The class of 2018 is pictured here at the August orientation.

Vicki Valosik

Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬ Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬ In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



‫زائرون باحثون‬

Syrian Migrants

The Long View on Transatlantic Migration By Reem Bailony


nearly 11 million North and Latin America in search of greater ons and funds, while offering strategic advice externally and internally economic opportunity. By World War I, there based on the political climates in Paris and displaced refugees, the were nearly 100,000 Ottoman Syrians resid- Geneva. Most importantly, key groups like Syrian war has forced the ing in the United States. Manhattan’s “Little the Syro-Palestinian Congress in Cairo and world’s attention to focus Syria”—with its Arabic restaurants, busi- Geneva played a critical role in defining the on the significance of the migrant condition. nesses, churches, social clubs, and publishing revolt, and formulating its program from their Coverage has largely focused on the threat or houses—confirmed the visibility and success positions abroad. victimhood that the Syrian refugee ostensibly of the Syrian migrant community. Despite Nevertheless, the Syrian diaspora’s bid to embodies. The year 2015, in particular, being stigmatized, Syrians immigrants suc- represent rebels within Syria was fraught with marked an upsurge in global attention to cessfully lobbied for naturalization on the controversy. With the end of the revolt in the crisis as the body of Alan Kurdi washed basis of “whiteness” during the 1910s and 1927, many questioned the loyalties and vision ashore in Turkey that September. Global 1920s. Nevertheless, similar to today’s politi- of the diaspora. Syrians worldwide redoubled discourse on the Syrian crisis juxtaposed cal climate, mounting nativism resulted in the their efforts to serve the homeland, giving rise his plight against the stories to Arab-American political of terrorist attacks across institutions that remain in­ Europe and North America, fluential today. Much like linked directly or indirectly their historical predecessors, to the Islamic State. In Syrians in the United States the United States, this has today—through their lobbying coincided with an ongoing efforts, philanthropy, and debate over the potential political clout—hope to consequences of increased influence Syrian politics and Syrian immigration. In civil society. December 2015, the House Though one should avoid of Representatives passed a celebrating the Syrian migrant bill (H.R. 158) to restrict the experience at the expense of visa waiver program, making recognizing the hardships ineligible nationals of states attendant to displacement, designated as sponsors of Syrian migrants—past and terrorism—including Syria, present—have been indust­ Iran, Sudan, and others. More Immigrants at Syrian restaurant pastry counter in New York, undated rious and influential members recently, President Trump of their host societies. issued an executive order on January 27, Immigration Act of 1924, which effectively Recognizing the agency of Syrian migrants 2017 banning immigration from Syria and six limited immigration from countries not in is central to contesting the national agenda other Muslim-majority states. While the Ninth Western Europe. against today’s refugees. ♦ Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold In 1925, the Druze of southern Syria rea block of the travel ban, the admission of belled against French mandate authorities, Syrian refugees is indefinitely suspended. launching what would soon become a wide- Reem Bailony is the 2016-2017 American From 2011 to 2106, the United States resettled spread anticolonial revolt that lasted for two Druze Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at 18,000 refugees, a number that trails behind years. With striking parallels to today’s Syr- CCAS. She is currently working on her book Canada’s estimate of nearly 39,000. ian expatriate organizations, Syrians in the manuscript, Transnational Rebellion: The The hysteria around the question of Syrian diaspora debated the meaning, significance Syrian Revolt of 1925-1927, which uncovers migration to the United States misleadingly and value of the 1925 rebellion through a the critical role Syrian-Lebanese migrants suggests that it is a novelty. Syrian migration robust diasporic press. Beyond a discursive played in defining and shaping the anticoloacross the Atlantic has a much longer his- engagement, skeptics and supporters lobbied nial rebellion. She received her doctorate in tory dating to the late nineteenth century. Re- the League of Nations, as well as solicited fi- history from the University of California, Los sponding to fluctuations in the global capital- nancial aid for rebels and civilians alike. Syr- Angeles, and currently teaches a course on ist economy, Ottoman migrants from Greater ians émigrés also clandestinely coordinated the history of minorities in the modern MidSyria—mostly Christian—made their way to with rebel leaders for the transfer of weap- dle East at Georgetown University. ith

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Library of Congress


New research

‫ابحاث جديدة‬


The Making of

Modern Syria

Faculty spotlight

‫لى الهيئة التعليمية‬

Daniel Neep talks to CCAS about his new book project

Tentatively titled The Nation Belongs to All: The Making of Modern Syria, Assistant Professor Neep’s book is under contract for publication with Allen Lane Random House. Q. Why did you want to write this book?

There were two reasons that I decided to work on a history of modern Syria. First, I was deeply irritated by the tone of much of the media coverage about the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011 and the country’s subsequent descent into civil war. To the extent that the media gives any historical context at all, it tends to reproduce the assumptions of what I call the “Sykes-Picot narrative”: that Syria is an artificial state, carved from the carcass of the Ottoman Empire by the colonial powers, which forced together disparate religious and ethnic groups with no common identity. In this narrative, civil war happens when state control weakens and once latent primordial divisions become resurgent. Second, although Syria has never been far from the news in recent years, there is not one book currently available for the nonspecialist general public that adequately situates the current conflict in relation to Syria’s broader historical context. The few books out there that are accessible to non-academics tend to focus on a narrow tranche of recent history (Syria under Hafiz al-Asad, for example), present a narrowly political account of Syrian history (lots of coups and military conspiracies, for example, while neglecting patterns of social transformation or episodes of economic crisis and institutional restructuring), or else simply summarize the existing academic literature in English. In contrast, my book is based on a wide array of sources in Arabic; it aims to present original research on the development of Syria’s politics, society, and economy in a way that is accessible to a general readership, while also offering new insights for academic specialists.

Vicki Valosik

Q. To many people, the “Sykes-Picot narrative” seems quite persuasive. What’s the problem?

The narrative is based on a faulty, biased, and fundamentally tendentious reading of the historical evidence. I could go on at length, but I’ll just point out four of the major problems here. First, the Sykes-Picot narrative overlooks the waves of state-building that had started to warp the fabric of social, political, and econom-

ic life in the region well before its division by the colonial powers. Ottoman reforms had already begun to introduce modern systems of private property, constitutional and representative government, urban development, infrastructure, and tax reform in the late nineteenth century, for example. After France took control of Syria in 1920, the French government constructed state institutions on top of these Ottoman foundations rather than creating them ex nihilo. Second, Britain and France may have drawn the borders of Syria with a mere stroke of the pen, but these lines were not definitively or decisively enforced until well into the 1950s. In fact, it was first in the 1860s that connections between the regions, towns, and communities that eventually comprised the modern state of Syria began to be forged. In the nearly a century that it took for the new borders to be rendered impermeable, the density of these social ties had already coalesced to the point of creating a coherent society that could be called “Syria.” Third, the Sykes-Picot narrative assumes that ethnic and religious groups are the basic building blocks of Syrian society. Yet the historical record tells a very different story. From popular rebellion against the French to the coalition of support built by the Asad regime, cooperation between Syria’s ethnic and religious communities has always been more common than conflict. For much of modern Syrian history, forces such as social class and regional identity have been considerably more powerful than the ties of ethnicity and religion. Finally, the Sykes-Picot narrative discounts the many meaningful investments that people have made in the existence of a distinctly Syrian identity over the years, both culturally and politically. Even today, Syrians themselves are fighting to control the state, not dismember it (ISIS, after all, is not a Syrian organization). Contrary to the imputations of foreign journalists, Syrians who claim their nation exists are suffering from neither delusion nor false consciousness.

Q. So what’s the alternative argument that you make in the book?

My book tells a very different story about Syria. In part, it’s a story of economic inequality, social transformation, and the quest for justice. A key theme of the book is the ongoing popular struggle for the rights of Syrians to live with respect and dignity—from Druze agitation against social hierarchy in the 1880s to the fight for national independence from French colonial rule in the 1920s, from battles against the landowning elites to give impoverished peasants a fair

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


share of the country’s wealth to uprisings against the violence and repression of the Asad regime—and the resilience of today’s civilian society against the predations of armed militants. Alongside these elements of what might be described as a people’s history, I also detail the broader forces that have shaped modern Syria. I argue that, rather than Syria having been instantly “made” by colonial diktat in 1920, there was actually a longer process of making that took decades to unfold. I pay particular attention to the way in which relations between the different regions and different social formations that existed in this part of the world were transformed by the unfolding of new infrastructures, institutions, and economic practices. These emerging configurations of state power, geography, and capital, I suggest, shaped and reshaped the social and political field in which protest and contention were embedded. My book seeks to explain that the current conflict, as well as previous contentious episodes, are caused not by an exotic culture, religious radicalism, or primitive society, but by processes of political struggle, economic restructuring, and popular protest that similarly motivate social justice movements not only elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, but also in Europe, North America, and around the world more generally.

Q. What sources did you use in writing this book?

Everything I could get my hands on. I have read countless memoirs by Syrian army officers, politicians, activists, and businessmen, and have trawled through collections of official state newspapers and the professional journals of the armed forces and the police. I’ve analyzed the annual bulletins of Syria’s chambers of commerce and industry, planning documents from an array of government ministries, and economic analyses by leading journalists and intellectuals. I’ve also looked at the French colonial archives and British diplomatic records, which help to fill in some of the gaps, and drawn on scholarship on Syria written in Arabic by Syrian historians themselves, which provides a rich vein of insights that is often neglected by scholars.

Q. How has research for this book informed your teaching at CCAS?

At Georgetown, I am lucky enough to teach the masters seminar, “Politics of Syria,” which has provided a fantastic opportunity to delve into some of the substantive themes of the book. Students in the MAAS program have been a great source of inspiration as well as of criticism: they read some of my draft chapters alongside the work of other scholars, and their feedback has helped me rethink my approach and refine my arguments. I also think it’s useful for students to see research in progress rather than the final product, which has been polished by successive rounds of peer review and often seems to set an unattainably high standard. By opening up my process of research and writing, I hope to give students greater confidence to develop their own work. Writing isn’t perfect right away. We all need time (and multiple drafts) to get there. ♦

Daniel Neep is Assistant Professor at CCAS.


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Wikimedia Commons

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, showing the proposed division between the direct (colored) and indirect (uncolored) spheres of influence agreed between France (A) and Great Britain (B) in the Asian lands of the Ottoman Empire


Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬

Syrian Men as Vulnerable: Rethinking Refugee Categorization By Rochelle Davis


his article is

based on research conducted between 2013 and 2015 in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, including more than 150 qualitative interviews. Syrian men and women living as refugees in neighboring countries recalled stories from their own families’ experiences fleeing Syria. These accounts shed light on the particular vulnerability of men in conflict, the role of conscription in forced migration, and the personal choices people make to not pick up arms. Refugees and War President Trump’s executive directive on January 27, 2017 enacted a temporary halt to refugee admission to the United States. According to Pew Research, admissions will resume after “security procedures are reviewed,” but “separately, admission of Syrian refugees will be suspended pending a revision of security screening measures.” While at present the ban has been blocked in the federal courts, such measures would be catastrophic to the families who have passed

the rigorous and expensive two-year vetting process to be resettled in the United States. Long before the executive order, however, an unspoken ban has been in place for several years across many countries in the Middle East, Europe, and North America toward a specific demographic of Syrians: young Syrian men fleeing the conflict. The last five plus years of fighting in Syria raises questions regarding how we think about gender—and particularly men—during conflict. The media and non-governmental associations repeatedly report that 75% of

“Strike of Dignity” by Jaber AlAzmeh. More on this artist on page 3.

Syrian refugees are women and children. What they fail to do, however, is examine the statistics. Just over 50% of the refugees are children, and thus slightly less than 50% are adults. The statistics also show, with variations among host countries, that about half of the adults are women and half are men; thus indeed, some 75% of the refugees are women and children. But equally so, 75% of the refugees are men and children. Yet that statistic is never cited as significant, nor is it used in efforts to stir empathy for refugees or create policy or programming. Why are we so unwilling to describe Syrian refugee men as vulnerable or in need of protection? One answer is that the vast majority of those engaged in the fighting are men—whether on the side of the Syrian regime or among the myriad of armed opposition movements—and thus the very people causing the violence. However, there are more adult men fleeing the conflict than there are women or children, and the

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


“We are coming for you.” This photograph is from Jaber Al Azmeh's collection entitled “The Resurrection,” which subverts Syrian government censorship and curtailment of freedom of speech by asking Syrians to write their own thoughts and messages about the revolution on one of the Syrian government's most prominent symbols, the Ba'ath newspaper. Bottom: By Syrian cartoonist Juan Zero. More on these artists on page 3.

vast majority of civilian deaths are of adult men—more than 70% according to the Violations Documentation Center in Syria. In Syria, men are more likely to be hit by sniper fire, to be injured during bombings, to be maimed, starved, tortured, and/or to die. By any reasonable definition, men are the most vulnerable. And yet, they are not considered vulnerable. Our collective notions of Arabness, of Muslim-ness (even though they aren’t all Muslim), of patriarchy and masculinity, allow only for conceptions of manhood that fit the fighter and defender role, and do not allow for conceptions of men as vulnerable or able to choose not to fight. But we must acknowledge their own sense of masculinity and patriarchy that would have them protect their families better by fleeing conflict, rather than partaking in it.

Fleeing Conflict

The violent response by the Syrian regime to the uprising that began in March 2011 caused many men to reconsider service in the Syrian military. Following the formation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in late July 2011, the FSA and other militarized opposition groups’ ranks soon filled with men wanting to fight against the regime—some joining the FSA after they deserted from the Syrian military, and others joining before they were conscripted into military service or after having completed their service. In addition, the swelling numbers of the internally displaced persons and refugees are filled with men who have fled into the areas of Syria that the regime does not control or into other countries, particularly as the regime’s violence has spread and intensified. Statistics show that since mid-2012, men are not staying behind in large numbers to fight, but rather fleeing in numbers nearly equal to or more than women of the same age groups. According to international law, noncombatant men are civilians, just as are the women, children, and elderly who have fled the fighting. And yet in the last five years we 10

have seen governments prevent men from crossing into their countries legally out of fear that this male demographic brings the conflict with them. Some of this fear is of men unanchored from families. In Jordan, it has become a de facto policy that single men cannot legally enter the country alone, thus forcing them either to cross with family members or to attempt illegal crossings, with all of the dangers that such journeys bring. This demographic characterization means that even if a man does not have weapons and is not engaged in fighting, he is assumed at the very least to be willing or able to fight. He is therefore seen either as an asset or a threat—to the regime, the opposition movements, or the governments of host countries—and is defined by his demographic characteristics rather than being able to define himself according to his actions and beliefs as a civilian. A Syrian named Bashar said, “I came to Raba’a Al Sarhan [a village north of Mafraq], but I was sent back because I was alone, so I went back home and took my mother with me and tried again. We arrived yesterday. But she wants to go back now; my little brother and sister are still in Syria. I just needed her to come with me so I can get in. I can’t go back to Syria with her because I refused to serve in the army.”1 Men of military-age living inside the 1

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

regime-controlled areas of Syria face mandatory conscription into the Syrian military, beginning at age 18, with the potential to be called for reserve duty until the age of 42 or so. The political ideologies of those interviewed were mixed, but many of them were clear about being unwilling to join the fighting because they did not believe in what the regime was doing, they saw it as a personal death sentence, or they did not want to pick up arms for anyone. A 24-year old man from the village of Jasim now living in Irbid, Jordan said, “I left Syria because I wouldn’t go into the army after I saw them occupying the cities and killing people. Of course, military service is mandatory, and currently the army is controlling cities, towns and villages, and basically occupying them. I wasn’t in the army, and nor was I involved with the FSA— nothing, other than peaceful protests. In this

situation, the security [apparatus] would come and make me a conscript of the army.” Others interviewed were college students whose military exemption had ended, and a few spoke of friends and neighbors whose sons went into hiding or faked abduction or death so as to avoid conscription. For most men of military age, the consideration to stay in Syria meant either taking up arms to fight or trying to avoid the military through legal and illegal means, subterfuge, and living life on the run. If caught, those avoiding military service face prolonged detention, torture, and even execution. Thus, many either choose (or their families force them) to flee to neighboring countries or the non-regime-controlled areas or to hide within Syria, explaining why there is a larger percentage of men between the ages of 18-59 who are refugees (25.5%), as compared to women of the same age (23.8%).

Vulnerable And Unprotected— Possible Changes?

The decisions made by Syrian men to flee the fighting involve complex moral choices about who they are as Syrians, as men, and as members of families; as people who hold jobs, own land, and have businesses; and as people with dreams and ambitions, who love their country. If they are only intermittently being allowed to flee Syria and enter host countries, are such policies encouraging men to stay and thus get embroiled in the conflict? Is the humanitarian aid community, by virtue of not seeing men as vulnerable or as civilians, participating in prolonging the conflict? By seeing value in the choices that men make not to fight, those who see themselves playing a role as humanitarian actors can help to develop structures that provide men with more options to remove themselves from the fighting and thus play some role in limiting conflict. Specifically, humanitarian and other aid programming could work with host country governments to develop programs for men, such as psychosocial and community support, vocational training, and accredited education opportunities in neighboring countries, and to provide training for security personnel at border posts to make sure unaccompanied men and boys can flee Syria. Most importantly, the international community needs to prevent the current lack of targeted programming from exacerbating vulnerabilities and creating a situation that leaves men of fighting age vulnerable to becoming embroiled in the fighting in Syria. Instead, it should ensure opportunities for them to contribute to the country’s future in ways that lie beyond the conflict. Ultimately, we need to remember the long-term benefits of ending the conflict and subsequent displacement of people across borders. ♦

Rochelle Davis is Associate Professor at CCAS. This article is a shortened version of a paper published by the London School of Economics. The full-length version is available at aspx. See “Gender, conscription and protection, and the war in Syria” (Forced Migration Review 47, Sept. 2014) by Davis, Taylor and Murphy for more accounts. For more information on how the interviews were conducted, see Syrian+Refugee+Report+Sept+2013.pdf.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

Of Military Coups, Purges and Interventions: TURKEY’S SYRIA DILEMMA By Marwa Daoudy

Crowds gather in Taksim Square after failed coup attempt

O 12

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

available in the hotel and watched as President Erdogan issued an appeal over FaceTime for people to take to the streets and oppose the putschists. During the night, muezzins in the mosques relayed the call for public mobilization. Police cars and the navy gathered on the island. After the failed attempt, I spent a few days in Istanbul. On the street, the feeling of national unity was overwhelming. I tweeted about the impressive mobilization at Taksim Square, where thousands of pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) crowds mingled with secularists and far-right nationalists (pictured above). Syrian refugees waved the flag of the Syrian revolution to celebrate the failure to topple the government that had offered them asylum (pictured pg. 13).

Marwa Daoudy

of July 15, 2016, I landed in Istanbul and crossed the buzzing capital to board a ferry that took me a few miles away to the beautiful island of Buyukada to participate in a two-day workshop organized by the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and the Global Political Trends Center of Kultur University in Istanbul. The topic of discussion was Iran’s relations with its neighbors one year after the nuclear agreement. Cruising the Bosphorus with a spectacular sunset view, little did I know that a military coup was in the making… let alone that the workshop’s participants would be accused of staging it. That same evening, I tuned in to the few channels n the evening

Marwa Daoudy

A few weeks later, a pro-Erdogan newspaper published and cultural destruction. The Syrian regime has since lost an article on how “US-sponsored conspirators” had control of wide swathes of its territory to Kurds, Islamist gathered on Buyukada to plot the coup. They were talking opposition fighters, and, after 2013, to Jihadists from the about our policy workshop! They had it all figured out. Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). During this time, After all, Buyukada was the island Turkey has experienced increased where the British government turbulence within its own borders. conspired in 1919, and now, they The conflict has led to an influx claimed, the US government was of hundreds of thousands of doing what the British had done refugees, an emboldened Kurdish nearly a century ago. Actually, militant movement—which has workshop participants were not spread from its remote mountains even predominantly from the to the heart of south-eastern cities United States but rather from such as Diyarbakir and Cizre, and Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, which was re-empowered by the Syria, Turkey, and consisted November 2013 proclamation of of scholars and a few former autonomy of Western Kurdistan diplomats. Being accused of both (Rojava) in northern Syria—as plotting a military coup and being well as cross-border operations an agent of foreign powers was, perpetrated by ISIS. of course, very serious for me. According to Turkish scholars Although the allegations were I met at the workshop, Erdogan’s sufficiently outlandish for them new foreign policy was motivated to gain any real traction, I was by the twin domestic threats of unable to get the Turkish press to ISIS and the Kurdistan Workers’ retract the allegations or publish Party (PKK). In previous months, my statement.1 Turkey had pursued a parallel Marwa Daoudy with Syrian refugees in Turkey On a broader level, the attempted who were celebrating the failure of the military and diplomatic strategy: coup initiated a dual-front-reaction attempt to topple the government that had to increase military support of Syron the part of the Turkish gov­ offered them asylum ian opposition groups in northern ernment. Domestically, Erdogan Aleppo to counter the Kurdish-led launched a massive campaign against alleged Gulenists, (PYD/YPG) and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces targeting any individual suspected of dissent. It made no (SDF), and to seek new international partners by mending difference that many of our Turkish colleagues present relations with Russia. at the workshop were Erdogan sympathizers; one even Internationally, the coup prompted the activation of wrote a weekly column for Karar, a renowned pro-AKP meetings between Erdogan and Putin. This rapprochement newspaper. They were interrogated and publicly shamed; with Russia, Assad’s main ally, initiated a change in and until this day, several of them remain suspended from Turkey’s official language and approach to the Syrian their positions. On the international front, Erdogan sent his regime. For the first time since 2011, an official statement own army, along with fighters from the Free Syrian Army, called for the participation of Syrian leadership in future into Syrian territory. This military intervention came after negotiations. It is too early to assess whether these recent five years of troubled relations between Turkey and its foreign policy re-alignments, combined with strategic southern neighbor. The two countries used to boast about developments linked to the recapture of Aleppo by the their “common destiny, history and future,” but since their Syrian government (thanks to support from Russia, Iran, relationship turned to one of enmity in the 1990s it has seen Iraq, and Hizbullah) will initiate a new chapter in Turkeyseveral tumultuous ups and downs, especially during the Syria relations, and what consequences lie ahead for rise of the AKP and since the start of the Syrian uprising. Syrian opposition groups and refugees in Turkey. But the In the process, Syria and Turkey’s “special” relationship consequences will be far-reaching. And while Erdogan collapsed. After March 2011, the Syrian crisis morphed continues to face an insoluble dilemma on the south-eastern into full-blown violence, with a climbing civilian casualty front, he has also written the beginning of a disturbing new and injury count, massive human displacement inside and chapter on the domestic front. ♦ outside the country, and unprecedented levels of physical 1 See Daoudy, Marwa (2016) “The Structure-Identity Nexus: Syria and Turkey’s Collapse (2011),” Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 29(3), pp. 1074-1096.

Marwa Daoudy is Assistant Professor of International Relations at CCAS. A version of this article is forthcoming on Cambridge Review of International Affairs’ blog.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬



Alumni News

‫أخبار الخريجين‬

➠ MAAS ON THE MOVE Alumni Article ‫مقاالت الخريجين‬

News from our Alums

Salafi movement, from Nigeria’s return to democracy to the jihadist movement of Boko Haram. Omar Shakir, 2010

In 2016, Omar was named the Israel and Palestine Country Director at Human Rights Watch. Prior to his current role, he was a Bertha Fellow CCAS is pleased to launch this new alumni news section at the Center for Constitutional Rights. In 2015, Omar delivered a where we will highlight some of the interesting work and publicresearch talk at CCAS titled “All According to Plan: The Rab’a Massacre New professional accomplishments of MAAS alums. and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt.”

If you are a MAAS alum, you can send your news items to or via a Google form at https:// We look forward to hearing from you and sharing your achievements with our readers! Curt Goering, 1980

Curt, a member of the first MAAS graduating class, re­‑ cently spoke to current MAAS students about his decadeslong career in human rights. Curt is now executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture, an international nonprofit dedicated to healing survivors of torture and violent conflict. Natana DeLong-Bas, 1993

Natana recently completed two books that have been accepted for publication in 2017. The first book, Islam: A Living Faith (Anselm Academic, St. Mary’s Press), offers a basic introduction to Islam. Natana co-wrote her second book, Shariah Law: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press), with John Esposito, Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. The book answers the most commonly asked questions related to Islamic law, and explores how Islamic law functioned historically, what changes are taking place today, and how Shariah compares and contrasts to other legal systems. Susan Douglass, 1993

In 2016, Susan completed her PhD in World History at George Mason University and defended her dissertation, “Teaching the World in Three Mass Education Systems: Britain, Egypt, and India, 1950-1970.” Susan has served as Education Outreach Coordinator at CCAS since June, 2014. Alex Thurston, 2009


Roya Soleimani, 2011

In 2016, Roya became the Corporate Communications Manager at Google, where she focuses on social impact and philanthropic efforts through, the philanthropic branch of Google. Roya also serves as an adviser and operational partner at Pear Ventures, helping early stage startups with their messaging and branding.

Faculty spotlight In 2016, Rana published her first book about Rana Khoury, 2012

the American Midwest, As Ohio Goes: Life in the Post-Recession Nation (Kent State University Press). Her book tells the stories of average Americans living in a moment of record income inequality and declining standards of living in Ohio. Rana is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern University, where she studies comparative politics with a focus on civil war and refugee-related politics in the Middle East.

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬ Nada Soudy, 2013

In November 2016, Nada published “Home and Belonging: A Comparative Study of 1.5 and Second-generation Egyptian ‘Expatriates’ in Qatar and ‘Immigrants’ in the U.S.” in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Based on interviews with Egyptians in Qatar and the United States, Nada examines how legal permanence and temporary settlement shape Egyptians’ feelings of belonging toward the United States and Qatar, and argues for the need to reassess the assumptions of the relationship between citizenship and belonging. Samia Errazzouki, 2015

In December 2016, Samia presented research on the media in Morocco within the context of political transition at a conference in Doha, Qatar, sponsored by the Al Jazeera Center for Studies. Samia conducted this research while working as a research associate with the University of Cambridge. For the last year and a half, Samia has also been working as a journalist with the Associated Press in Morocco. Jill Ricotta, 2016

In June 2016, Jill published “The Arab Shi‘a Nexus: Understanding Iran’s Influence in the Arab World” in the Washington Quarterly. The article examines the precarious state of Arab Shi’a resulting from escalating Shi‘a-Sunni tensions and the breakdown of IranSaudi Arabia relations. ♦

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Vicki Valosik

In 2016, Alex published his first book, Salafism in Nigeria: Islam, Preaching and Politics (Cambridge University Press). Based on interviews with leading Salafi Muslims in Nigeria, the book examines the classical and contemporary texts that define Salafism, and offers a historical rereading of the

‫ابحاث جديدة‬


The Resurgence of

Alumni Article

‫مقاالت الخريجين‬

New research

SIEGE WARFARE ‫ابحاث جديدة‬

MAAS Alum Will Todman explains how the Assad regime has benefited from bringing back an ancient tactic of war By Will Todman

Hani Abbas (See page 3 for more information on this artist.)


one million Syrians have been victims of one of the most brutal tactics of counter-insurgency: siege warfare. By surrounding a given area with armed forces and cutting off its supplies, sieges aim to force a population into submission. Why did the Syrian regime adopt this tactic on such a scale? Why have some sieges endured for so long? And what might siege tactics in Syria indicate about the future of modern authoritarian counterinsurgency elsewhere? In 2012, the Syrian regime, unable to locate insurgents in populated areas, imposed sieges across the country to seal off areas thought to be harboring fighters, ensuring that they could not threaten key areas of strategic importance. Unlike “hearts and minds” campaigns of counterinsurgency, which seek to provide security, protection, and services to civilians living in insurgents’ areas of operation, these siege tactics imposed punitive measures on the entire population living in rebel-held zones. The regime indiscriminately shelled besieged areas, targeting key infrastructure such as hospitals and electricity networks, and cut off supplies of food and medicine.1 These tactics helped prevent opposition forces from reaching the city of Damascus and forced them out of Homs and Aleppo. However, they also helped the Syrian regime weather its problems of manpower. As early as 2012, the regime—facing growing numbers of defections and casualties—lacked the manpower to launch multiple ground assaults across the country.2 Besieging an area requires fewer forces than launching a ground assault and also provides opportunities for detaining and forcibly drafting men into the army at the checkpoints on the siege’s perimeter.3 But in spite of the horrific humanitarian conditions in besieged areas, many opposition forces refused to surrender, and so stalemates s many as

1 2 3 4 5

endured. As the spread of the war economy entrenched networks of profiteering in these areas, the use of sieges became an important element of the regime’s economic survival strategy.4 The regime sends soldiers to man checkpoints as a reward for having served on the frontline, encouraging them to exploit their position by taking bribes instead of receiving a salary. Businessmen allied to the regime also take huge cuts of the profit, and they effectively buy contracts from the top levels of the regime for permission to trade goods. As a result, prices of basic goods inside besieged areas are often extortionate. During the winter of 2013-14, a bag of rice cost $0.66 in central Damascus but as much as $21 in besieged areas just miles away. Therefore, the regime has been incentivized to prolong sieges for financial reasons, making the economic payoffs of sieges as vital as their military objectives. Siege warfare’s military and economic benefits help explain why so many Syrians live under blockade today. Authoritarian regimes do not hesitate to employ these tactics of collective punishment, and the international community seems to have grown numb to the scale of human rights violations. Although the scale of siege warfare in Syria is extraordinary, we have seen similar tactics elsewhere: the siege of Taiz in Yemen, which has now lasted two years, and during the Iraqi government’s siege of Fallujah last year, where at least 140 residents of the Islamic State-held city died from lack of food and medicine.5 Actors conducting counter-insurgency operations feel less constrained by the necessity to isolate insurgents in a civilian population, even as modern warfare is increasingly shifting into urban spaces. Unless there is considerably more international condemnation of those responsible for inflicting collective punishment on populated areas and starving civilian populations as a tactic of war, it seems likely that military actors will increasingly turn to siege warfare. Once thought of as having been consigned to medieval times, brutal sieges are, once again, becoming a common feature of war. ♦

Faculty spotlight

‫إضائة على الهيئة التعليمية‬

Will Todman (MAAS ‘16) is an associate fellow in the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Affairs (CSIS). He wrote his MA thesis on the subject of siege warfare in Syria, and has since published articles on the subject with the Middle East Institute and the Brookings Institution’s Lawfare blog, and has a forthcoming article on the topic with the journal Syria Studies.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Public Events ‫المناسبات العامة‬


CCAS Raises Awareness of Syrian Education Outreach ‫ثقيف التربوي‬ Conflict through Public Events When Bombs Rain Down, White Helmets Rush In In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬ By Alaa F. Mufleh


that has been defined by sectarian terms, and one that has swept away over 400,000 lives, displaced 6.6 million and forced over 4.6 million to flee their country, the Syrian Civil Defense—widely known as the White Helmets—has provided hope for many who are suffering from the brutality of the war in Syria. The White Helmets are volunteer rescue workers who operate in one of the most dangerous places on earth. Every day in Syria, they rush to the scenes of bombings to pull people out from under the rubble and carry them to safety. Their courageous and selfless work has given hope to millions of civilians in Syria, and has inspired many around the world. Bakeries and markets are the most common targets in Syrian neighborhoods—some hit on a daily basis. Many of the bombs are made from rusty barrels filled with nails and explosives and rolled out from the back of government helicopters. In the aftermath of such attacks, the White Helmets are often the first responders searching for life in the rubble, even though they are fully aware that more bombs may fall on the same site. The White Helmets have saved the lives of more than 78,529 men, women, and children, and this number continues to grow. But of course these volunteers cannot reach everyone, and the death toll in Syria continues to rise as well. To raise awareness of the ongoing Syrian conflict and the work of the White Helmets, in November the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Forum organized a screening of the Netflix documentary, The White Helmets, and a panel discussion. The film screening was followed by remarks from Raed Saleh, the head of Syria’s Civil Defense himself; n a conflict

Rafif Jouejati, co-founder and Director of the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria (FREE-Syria); and Kenan Rahmani, Legal & Policy Advisor at the Syria Campaign. Professor Marwa Daoudy of CCAS moderated the discussion. Students, faculty, and individuals from the wider DC community were in attendance and posed important questions discussed by the panel. Through similar events, the MENA forum hopes to create a platform that engenders meaningful conversations about pressing issues in the Middle East and North Africa region, as well as to highlight successes and inspiring stories such as the White Helmets. The MENA forum leadership team includes MAAS students Madison Marks (Co-President), Hadeil Abdelraouf (Events Coordinator), and Alaa F. Mufleh (Communications Liaison), along with MSFS students Suhayla Sibaai (Co-President) and Amanda Naar (Treasurer). Individuals interested in supporting the White Helmets can donate through the organization’s website: ♦

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫اث هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty Feature ‫ص من هيئة التدريس‬

Top: Poster for the documentary film; Bottom: Panelists Kenan Rahmani, Rafif Jouejati and Raed Saleh with moderator Marwa Daoudy following the screening of The White Helmets

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Vicki Valosik


Alaa F. Mufleh is Communications Liaison for the MENA Forum and a first-year candidate in the MAAS Program. Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, Alaa is a passionate social entrepreneur whose diverse interests include politics and economic development through entrepreneurship, innovation, literacy and education in the Arab world.


CCAS Launches Clovis Maksoud Memorial Lecture Series Caesar’s Photos Take Viewers inside Syria’s Secret Prisons

The Clovis Maksoud Memorial Lecture Series was launched in February by CCAS in memory of Ambassador Clovis Maksoud who passed away in May 2016. Ambassador Maksoud was instrumental in the establishment of CCAS in the late 1970s and remained a steadfast supporter of its activities throughout his life. In 2007, CCAS inaugurated a named faculty chair in honor of Ambassador Maksoud and his late wife, Hala Salam Maksoud. A decade later we remember Clovis and his long and

dedicated career in service of the Arab world with a lecture series entitled “Arab Human Development and Patterns of Inequality.” Ambassador Maksoud was one of the chief architects of the Arab Human Development Report, and our lecture series takes up critical issues of human development in the Arab world in memory of his dedication to this work. The Clovis Maskoud Memorial Lecture Series is made possible by generous support from the James and Betty Sams Family Trust. ♦

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies presents:



September, the CCAS hosted “Caesar’s Photos,” an exhibit containing 30 graphic and disturbing images documenting some of the men, women and children who were tortured and killed in Syrian detention centers. First coming to public attention in January 2014, the photos were taken by a former military photographer known as “Caesar,” who smuggled more than 55,000 images out of Syria. The victims were tortured and killed in detention centers, and then their bodies were brought to a military hospital where Caesar and his colleagues photographed them as part of a documentation procedure. The images, which have since been authenticated by the FBI, depict at least 11,000 victims with clear signs of torture, including starvation, burning, strangulation, beatings, blinding, and lashing. The exhibit, which aims to raise awareness of the horrific and inhumane crimes of the Assad regime, was co-sponsored by the Syrian Emergency Task Force and remained on display in the ICC Galleria for one month. SFS Dean Joel Helman delivered remarks on the evening of the event’s opening. ♦

Made possible with the generous support of the James and Betty Sams Family Trust

Phillip Steuber, The Georgetown Voice


Educational Quality/(In)Equality in the Arab World: Fida Adely, Georgetown University & &(Dis)Integrated Political Orders, Adversity, and the Lives & Work of Teachers in the Arab Region: Andre Mazawi, University of British Columbia

Gender, Development and Armed Conflict: Jennifer Olmsted, Drew University Inequality of Opportunity in the Arab World: Ragui Assaad, University of Minnesota Regional Inequality & Uneven Development in the Arab World: Adam Hanieh, SOAS University of London

Check for the most up-to-date information.

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Education Outreach ‫تعميم التثقيف التربوي‬


Beyond the “Fab” Five

In the Headlines ‫في العناوين‬

CCAS Education Outreach Summer Institute focuses on teaching about world religions By Susan Douglass


2016 Summer Institute held by CCAS, a Department of Education National Resource Center on the Middle East, offered a week-long workshop on a topic that is often challenging to educators, and extends well beyond the borders of the Middle East— teaching world religions. From August 1 to 9, CCAS held an institute for public and private secondary teachers on teaching about world religions, a topic that is part of middle and high school curriculum in world history and geography. Thirty-seven educators from a variety of disciplines, including world history, culture, geography, religion and the humanities, engaged in active discussion and shared curriculum ideas throughout the week-long workshop. Participants were given access to a wide range of curriculum materials and primary sources and received the First Amendment Center resource guide, along with several books and electronic resources on world religions. Many Georgetown faculty from across the university contributed their knowledge of teaching approaches on the five major global religions, as well as other important but less often studied traditions. The three Abrahamic traditions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam— he

and two Asian traditions—Hinduism and Buddhism—were explored in a multi-faceted way. Speakers explained the basic beliefs of these faiths, practices and value systems, their mystical traditions, and their modern challenges and expressions. Additionally, speakers included faculty who specialize in religious studies, history, art history, anthropology, psychology and other fields; and members of the clergy in the various traditions. The Religious Freedom Center co-sponsored the first day of the institute at the Knight Conference Center in the Newseum, a museum that promotes free expression and traces the evolution of print and electronic communication. Executive Director Rev. Nate Walker explained the First Amendment constitutional guidelines for teaching about religions and their history and importance in U.S. education. A teacher panel on “What Works in the Classroom” jumpstarted an active discussion, and Generation Global, a classroom-based international online dialogue program sponsored by the Tony Blair Foundation, offered student-tostudent exchanges and dialogue training. Melody Fox Ahmed presented resources from the Berkeley Center on Religion, Peace and World Affairs. The third day took place

Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

at the National Museum of African Art and included a gallery visit and talk by Rosalind Hackett on religion and West African art. The group visited the Library of Congress to see the Kislak Collection of indigenous American art, including a close­­-up look at objects in the vault, and hear from curator John Hessler and Garry Sparks of George Mason. On Thursday, attendees heard from speakers on spirituality in the various traditions with Ariel Glucklich, Ori Soltes and Michael Friedman of Georgetown, and Richard Jones of the Washington Theological Consortium. Maria Dakake of George Mason discussed Sufism in Islam. A remarkable presentation by Lisa Miller of Columbia University on cultivating spirituality and mental health in children offered an innovative perspective based on brain research. On Friday, speakers addressed issues around modernity and religion, with Terrence Johnson, Francisca Cho, Jonathan Brown and Jordan Duffner Denali of Georgetown, and Murali Balaji of the Hindu American Foundation. Rabbi Aaron Miller of the Washington Hebrew Congregation discussed modern Judaism and also led a tour of his synagogue. The summer institute concluded with two days of site visits in the Washington, DC area. After viewing east Asian religious art at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, attendees visited Lomax AME Zion Church in Arlington, VA, where they heard about the 150-year history of the church, which was founded after the Civil War, and learned from a descendant about James Parks, who was enslaved on Robert E. Lee’s plantation and contributed to the layout of Arlington Cemetery. The second set of site visits took the group to Washington Hebrew Congregation and the Diyanet Center of America and Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, both in Lanham, MD, and concluded with a presentation and culinary hospitality at the Sikh Gurdwara of Washington, DC. Teachers who attended the institute commented in their evaluations on the stellar

Faculty Research: ‫أبحاث هيئة التدريس‬

Faculty Feature ‫خاص من هيئة التدريس‬


Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Scott Henrichsen, Newseum Religious Freedom Institute

Teachers and students gather at the Newseum to commence the 2017 World Religions Summit.

Fall 2016 Education Outreach Event Highlights OCTOBER 1 Developing and Teaching Regional/Area Studies Courses: Challenges, Approaches and Resources brought together teachers and global studies specialists for a curriculum planning discussion with Georgetown faculty from Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Latin American Studies centers. Stimulated by a request from Theodore Roosevelt High School in D.C. to assist with their new global studies program, the workshop brought together global studies teachers from across the region to explore issues in area studies and share classroom resources.

Top left: A beaded mask on display at the National Museum of African Art during a gallery visit and talk on religion and West African art; Top right: A wooden slate used for memorization of the Quran at the National Museum for African Art; Right: Participants tour the synagogue of the Washington Hebrew Congregation with Rabbi Aaron Miller; Bottom: Attendees visit the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Maryland.

NOVEMBER 5 Exploring World Religions: Focus on Islam through the Exhibit “The Art of the Qur’an” was the first of two workshops held in partnership with Elizabeth Eder, Education Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, around the spectacular exhibition featuring treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in Istanbul. The workshop began with a discussion of constitutional guidelines for teaching about religious scriptures in public schools and background on the history of the Qur’an as a recited and written work. Attendees heard a demonstration by a skilled hafez (term for someone who has memorized the entire Qur'an) of different recitation styles, followed by a calligraphy demonstration, and a gallery tour and talk by Curator Simon Rettig.


caliber of scholarly lectures and on their own willingness to share the information they learned with colleagues and students. One wrote that it would be “the work of a lifetime to process and go deeper” into this thought-provoking topic. “I am returning filled to the brim,” wrote another. ♦

Dr. Susan Douglass is the K-14 Education Outreach Coordinator.

DECEMBER 1 In Their Own Voices: Middle Eastern Perspectives in the Classroom was a collaboration by several education outreach organizations in DC, held in conjunction with the National Council for Social Studies annual meeting. The organizations included Middle East Outreach Council, CCAS, Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, the Middle East Policy Council, and the Qatar Foundation International. Participants experienced the voices of people from the Middle East through classroom resources such as books, films, and online exchanges and the arts, culminating with a visit to the Sackler Gallery’s exhibition Turquoise Mountain, featuring Afghan artists, and a tour through The Art of the Qur’an exhibition. ♦

‫مركز الدراسات العربية املعاصرة – جامعة جورجتاون‬


Dispatches ‫برقيات‬

DISPATCHES Notes From Abroad

I hope to see you again… Public Events ‫ت العامة‬ but not here. By Madison Marks


Christmas Day, I arrived in Athens, Greece to begin two weeks of vol­ unteer work with Lifting Hands International (LHI), a grassroots, humanitarian non-profit that serves approximately 500 Yazidi refugees living in northern Greece. Volunteers have been the lifeblood of grassroots organizations like LHI since the beginning of the “migrant” crisis in Greece. I had heard stories of the need for volunteers on the ground and knew that my Arabic-speaking skills could be useful. Prior to traveling north, I visited the “squats” in downtown Athens. These “squats” are empty school buildings or hotels that were shut down during the 2008 financial crisis and now provide temporary shelter for thousands of Syrian families. These refugees, no longer under the protection of a designated aid organization, are limited in their access to resources. In Athens, I spoke with a Syrian father who, along with his two daughters, had been forced to sleep on the street because they could not find shelter. Multiple conversations with refugees and volunteers confirmed that immediate relief is going to the most vulnerable, such as pregnant mothers or the extremely ill. As a result, there are thousands of n

vulnerable individuals and families left waiting to wonder if there will be enough food or if they will have a roof over their heads. From Athens I traveled to the seaside town of Nea Vrasna near Thessaloniki, where the Yazidis had been temporarily relocated while their refugee camp in Serres, Greece, was being converted into caravans. After having made it to Greece, many of the Yazidis had experienced months of harsh conditions in camps, but after a stabbing incident and threats from Daesh (ISIS), the Yazidis felt unsafe and were moved to their own camp. For the first time in months, these Yazidi refugees had privacy, heat, walls, a cooking station, and a clean bathroom. When I first met the Yazidis in Nea Vrasna, I immediately felt as if I was welcomed into a big, supportive family. I delivered distributions, drove women and children to English classes, and organized soccer games. On one occasion, I taught a yoga class and found that the refugees appreciated yoga for the physical and mental benefits. In fact, it was one of their most popular classes. Everyone had stories about being forced to flee Sinjar when ISIS attacked in 2014. All had lost someone to death or distance— whether loved ones who had made it to other countries in Europe or who remained in Iraq.

This group that had been self-sufficient in Iraq now found themselves reliant on foreign governments and aid agencies for basic necessities, and were obviously eager to continue their education, work, and family lives. Yet in the midst of so much hardship and uncertainty, the resilience displayed by the Yazidi community was what most amazed me. It was difficult leaving Greece and returning to Washington, DC, as I still wished I could stroll down the streets of Nea Vrasna to greetings of “Chavanay” (“How are you” in Kermanji, a dialect of Kurdish) from the refugee children. When I left, I exchanged words with several of my new friends: “I hope to see you again, but not here.” “I hope to visit you in Germany or wherever your new home will be.” This trip allowed me to reflect on the blessings that I have, since many of the refugees’ lives have been halted as they await for resettlement. I am now looking for opportunities to return post-graduation to continue my service. Initially, I am planning to become certified in teaching yoga so I can one day use those skills to teach vulnerable populations. ♦

Education Outreach

In the Headlines ‫ناوين‬ Mabrouk! ‫مبروك‬

Faculty Research: ‫يس‬ Madison Marks is a candidate in the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) and is expected to graduate in May, 2017.

Faculty Feature ‫دريس‬

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies - Georgetown University

Tawna Fowler


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