World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Conflict Analysis and Resolution: Case Studies (481) - Panel

· Date: FRI, 23 / 2:30 - 4:30 pm

· Language: English

· Description:
Chair: Marc Lavergne (CEDEJ)

Paper presenter: Sandra Rishani (MSC architect/planner, Princeton University American University of Beirut), “Peace, Planning and Justice The case of Choueifat's continuous violent conflicts”
Beirut is called the city of civilizations. Its history attests to its diversity. However, before and after independence the city has been the cause and breeding ground of conflict. The urban scale has become both abusive and abused. During this eventful history the city has been fragmented, separated, and exposed to continuous shifts in its population. Different ethnicities and identities raise claim to territories in the city as a symbolic sign of their inclusion and legitimacy. Beirut is not an exception. Humankind throughout history has produced a continuous chain of violence and conflict on differing scales- local regional national and global- resulting with social and physical atrocities. Strategies have been researched and characterized by the production of peace treaties that define or redistribute power on the macro-scale. The chaos of conflict can be seen as an opportunity that allows a shift and redistribution in power where claims to the city and urban citizenship in addition to issues of inclusiveness within political representative systems become more apparent. Resolutions currently in Beirut after each conflict or violent outbreak give strong priority to political resolutions. Reconstruction concentrates on fast track development and “cultural heritage” projects aimed for economic generation instead of equal attention to inclusive planning processes that produce spatial and social justice. Within contested violent cities where issues of diversity and exclusion are in such proximity to each other, the micro-scale is vital in preventing the conflict from mutating into new conflicts. In such cases, I find it intrinsic to complement and challenge the conflict management and resolution concentration with other approaches than macro-scale governance research and strategies of socially just nation building processes. Research on urban transformation and conflict over territory on the local scale as well as the perception and relation of its citizens to each other and space allow a deeper insight to the complexity of this conflict and the contradictory power relations that produce and are reproduced by the local space. The paper is guided by the main research question of whether micro-scale planning is a relevant and important frame in contemporary peace research.

Paper presenter: James Goode (Professor of History, Grand Valley State University), “A Microcosm of International Tensions: The War in Dhufar, 1971-1975”
Muhammad Riza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran (1941-1979), had long desired an expanded regional role for his rapidly developing nation. By the late 1960s, he had finally obtained the necessary means to further his objectives, and with announcement of the Nixon Doctrine (July 1969) followed by the well-chronicled Nixon-Kissinger visit to Tehran in May 1972, the ruler received American blessing for the maintenance of a stable, pro-Western order around the shores of the Persian Gulf. Beginning in 1971 the shah expanded Iranian influence through a variety of actions, including economic assistance, loans of military equipment, or direct intervention, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arab sheikhdoms along the Gulf. One of his most determined and successful interventions came in Oman from 1971-1975. In response to a request from Sultan Qabus, Tehran initiated a major deployment of troops and materiel to combat the Marxist rebels in Dhufar province, who were receiving support from, among others, China, the Soviet Union and Iraq. Iran remained involved there to the eve of the Islamic Revolution, although most imperial troops departed soon after the sultan declared victory at the end of 1975. Many agreed that the Iranian contribution had assured victory. From neighboring Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, however, Iran's intervention raised a continuous chorus of complaints, all rooted in suspicion of the shah’s larger ambitions. US diplomats did what they could to allay these concerns, hoping to avoid at all costs direct US military intervention. In this case, the shah had proven to be an able surrogate, serving American interests while furthering his own. Drawing on recently declassified documents in US archives as well as a variety of relevant materials in Persian and Arabic, this paper will examine the complexities of the Nixon Doctrine in action in what was arguably the most sensitive region of the Middle East.

Paper presenter: Jonathan Agensky (PhD Candidate, Cambridge University), “Contentious politics": Sudan's civil war and the global Evangelical imaginary”
In the late 1990s, the global Evangelical movement became increasingly involved in the international politics of the Sudanese civil war. Mobilizing largely on behalf of the Sudanese “south”, the movement developed extensive ties with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Prominent American Evangelicals called for intensified engagement of the Sudanese north-south civil war and pushed for a proactive US role in facilitating peace talks. As ties between the movement and the US government developed around this issue, the interpretive frameworks circulating within Evangelical discourse were taken up and reproduced by the administration. These frames characterized the conflict in Muslim-Christian terms and played a significant role in setting both a domestic and international discourse. Evangelical mobilization engendered new and powerful alliances with both state and non-state actors in the pursuit of political-humanitarian intervention targeting Sudan. From 1983 until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, there have been a number of civil wars fought in southern Sudan. Conflict led to the displacement of millions of people, and aggravated the effects of environmental crisis and famine. Although conflict did obtain along north-south and Muslim-Christian lines, it also extended beyond, encompassing tensions amongst other categories and geographical locations. Violence in Sudan has erupted out of ensembles of relations caught-up in various strategies: what might be seen as “logics of heterogeneity”. While a number of factors make-up many specific dimensions of violence in Sudan, they combine to defy straightforward characterization. This paper explores the reciprocal relations between Evangelical interpretative, discursive and material practices and the international politics of the Sudanese civil war. How did the Evangelical movement come to engage issues of violence and suffering in Sudan? And why did the movement perceive and act upon the conflict in these terms? In this paper I elaborate upon the complex logics informing conflict in Sudan, the deployments of Muslim-Christian interpretive frames and the strategic and tactical use of Christianity by southern Sudanese insurgents. In so doing, I address the ways in which belligerents have been able to successfully “internationalize” their conflicts and mobilize support from international political constituencies; the ways in which this type of mobilization then develops a social and political life of its own through the discourse and practice of foreign actors; and the complex effects of this mobilization on the politics of the conflict itself, as well as of those acting upon it.

Paper presenter: Javier Gil Pérez (Researcher, Instituto Universitario General Gutiérrez Mellado), “Lessons of peace in Aceh: Decentralisation and political participation”
This paper is based on my own field research in Indonesia in the Center of Strategic and international Studies in Yakarta and in the Aceh region which I visited it in several times during the past four years. The aim of the paper is to show the evolution of the Aceh conflict until its peaceful resolution in 2005 and analyse the key factors in the success of this peace process like the new political leadership, the decreasing role of the military power, the international support and the meeting of the objectives of both groups.
The key factors in the success of this peace process have been the confluence of several factors related to the internal and external dynamics of the country, including the new political leadership, the decreasing role of the military power, the international support and the meeting of the objectives of both groups, and so on. The end of the conflict in Aceh shows that the administrative decentralization and the promotion of the political participation of the main actors involved have made possible the development of a solid alternative to the arms strategy of conflict resolution used for years in Indonesia.

Paper presenter: Berdal Aral (Associated Professor, Fatih University), "The UN General Assembly posturing with regard to the three cases of aggression against Iraq (2003), Lebanon (2006), Gaza (2008-2009)"
In my presentation, I will focus on the United Nations General Assembly resolutions as well as the debates surrounding these resolutions that transpired in the last decade, with regard to the following issues and problems:
a)Invasion of Iraq in 2003.
b)Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006;
c)Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008/January 2009
The cases examined, inter alia, involve questions of ‘the use of force’, ‘right of self-defence’, ‘the law of armed conflict’, ‘right to self-determination’, ‘violations of human rights’, ‘refugee problems’. This paper will analyse the said cases from the perspective of international law. To that end, the following questions are to be raised for each case:
First, how was each problem conceived by members of the General Assembly?
Second, which norms of international law were particularly emphasized?
Third, what solutions were proposed to bring about peace in each of the cases?
The paper will conclude by a brief comparison of the posture which the General Assembly adopted in each of these conflicts with that of the UN Security Council.

Paper presenter: Ahmad J Azem (Reseacher, The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies), "Iraq From Transformational Conflict Resolution to Conflict Management"
I argue in this paper that the scholars of social scientific disciplines such as Nationalism and Ethnicity, Conflict Resolution, and Middle Eastern Studies should certainly have foreseen most of the problems that arose after the invasion of Iraq by the Coalition forces in 2003. Those scholars should have been able to recommend ways of dealing with the situation. However, experts did give early warning of the possible consequences during the months before the invasion. The American promise of democratization and freedom was not achieved for various reasons, including the neglect the warning of such experts regarding the social context of Iraq and its peculiarities.The fact that the members of the War Cabinet in Washington did not make the effort to study the social and political dimensions of their battlefield will always remain an example of how military leaders and politicians sometimes ignore social sciences when planning wars. They overestimate the importance of military superiority while under¬estimating the human and socio-political aspects of the conflict.In this research, I begin by rephrasing the American war goals, using the terminology of Conflict Resolution studies. Then, I explain the socio-political structure in Iraq, how the war planners failed to anticipate the post-war challenges in that country, and how the scholars of Nationalism and Ethnicity or Middle Eastern Studies should have been able to anticipate them. Third, I examine the policies of the last stage of George W. Bush's Administration, which led to a decline in violence in Iraq. Finally, I discuss the possible long-term consequences of the American policies in Iraq, and how the US government scaled down its goals in that country from 'conflict resolution' to 'conflict management'.