Regional Powers in a Changing Region: Iran and Turkey
· Oguzhan Goksel (Durham University)
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, the so-called ‘Turkish model’ has become a key ingredient of the discourse of democratization in the Middle East. The popularity of the topic has extended beyond academic circles as numerous newspapers and non-academic journals have published views on the Turkish model and the future of emerging Arab democracies. Despite the widespread interest, however, there is a great sense of confusion caused by the subjective use and misinterpretation of the model. The first part of the paper aims to fill this gap with an objective analysis of the model, pointing to the successes and failures of Turkish modernization. In the second part, the applicability of the Turkish model for emerging democracies will be assessed and its potential lessons discussed.
The paper will point to the weaknesses of the two conventional understandings of the Turkish model and offer a new approach. The paper will acknowledge various socio-economic, cultural and political differences between Turkey and Middle Eastern societies and the fact that the full application of the model may not be possible, however, the paper will conclude that despite these differences, the Turkish model has a lot to offer in terms of guidance.
· Panagiotis Andrikopoulos (Kadir Has University)
In this paper we will argue that since the Arab uprisings started in December 2010 there has been an enormous number of scientific works, newspaper articles and speeches focusing on the applicability of a "Turkish model" in the Middle East. This finds its reasoning in what has been described as a miracle in the domestic politics of Turkey as a Muslim-majority country, with a successful alignment of moderate Islam and democratic reforms and, of course, a vast economic boom.
The purpose of this paper is to deconstruct this discourse by examining the realities of both Turkey and the Middle East. We will try to prove that on one hand, Turkey cannot be identified as a model due to challenging domestic problems, and on the other hand, to show that we cannot compare Turkey with the Middle East because of the overall historical and cultural background that separates them. Emphasis will be given to the fact that some Middle Eastern states cannot be considered as nation states like Turkey. For example, it will be argued that Iraq, Syria or Lebanon cannot be identified as nation states due to a serious incongruence of identity and territorial space.
· Konstantinos Zarras (University of Macedonia)
Recent upheavals in the Middle East have already caused significant changes in the security order of the region. This paper, based on the explanatory framework provided by the Regional Security Complexes Theory (RSCT), will focus on the implications of the Arab Spring for the state of Iran. In the context of the newly emerging security architecture in the Middle East, how will the power relations between the regional actors Iran and Israel develop? The paper addresses the question of whether polarity, the pattern of security interaction and the boundaries of the Middle Eastern security complex will be affected by regime change in key regional state actors. It advances the debate and provides a clearer picture of the prospects for Tehran.
· Maryam Ommy (School of Oriental and African Studies)
Eyes wide shut on revolutionary women: Comparing the role of the women’s movements in revolutionary Egypt and Iran
This paper is concerned with a comparative study of the women’s movements in revolutionary Iran (1978/79) and, three decades later, in revolutionary Egypt (post-2010). It seeks to examine similarities and differences between the roles and the place the movements assumed in the respective socio-political contexts. The key question pertains to the issue of gender in the context of revolutions. The paper asks to what extent women could integrate their demands, most importantly gender equality, into the revolutionary movement’s agenda and how dominant political groups (mainly political Islam) responded to that, both before and after the revolution.
To do so, the paper will engage in a comparative assessment of the socio-political context of the revolutions, the place of gender issues therein, the women’s movement relations with other social movements during the revolutionary period, its relations with the state, and lastly its relations to political Islam.
The findings of the paper are relevant in light of the place of women and gender equality in the wake of the Arab Spring as well as in the post-revolution Islamic Republic. They can shed light on the challenges for furthering the cause of women’s rights and boosting gender consciousness in revolutions across the region.