The Crown Center for Middle East Studies is committed to conducting balanced and dispassionate research of the modern Middle East that meets the highest academic standards.
The Center seeks to help make decision- and opinion-makers better informed about the region. The scope of the Center’s research includes the 22 members of the Arab League as well as Turkey, Iran, and Israel. The Crown Center’s approach is multi-disciplinary in its study of the politics, economics, history, security, sociology, and anthropology of the region’s states and societies.
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Recent News and Publications
May 31, 2022
Middle East Brief 148 (Summary) — The Kurdish movement in Turkey has long been associated with the country's rural south-east. But in recent years, it is the cities of the region that have been the crucible of a new Kurdish politics. In our latest Middle East Brief, Muna Güvenç explains how municipal elections have propelled pro-Kurdish parties into power in Diyarbakır and other cities, even as they have been prevented from winning representation at the national level. Once in office, pro-Kurdish parties have channelled the resources of city hall to support cultural centers, associations, and NGOs with explicitly Kurdish agendas, directly building their support base across class lines and indirectly infusing everyday life with visible signs of Kurdishness. Despite its electoral gains in the municipalities of south-east Turkey, the Kurdish movement's success is now threatened by a central government campaign to remove its mayors, purge its members from the bureaucracy, and ban its leaders from political activity altogether.
May 27, 2022Crown Conversations 13 (Summary) — Running as a populist, Kais Saied, a retired law professor and political independent, was elected president of Tunisia in October 2019. After suspending parliament and dismissing the prime minister on July 25, 2021, Saied has further tightened his hold on power by announcing he would rule by decree, reconfiguring the Supreme Judicial Court, and laying out a roadmap to revise the constitution. These moves—called a "coup" by some and a "correction" by others—threaten Tunisia's decade-old democratic transition. In the second of a series of Crown Conversations on Tunisia, we spoke with Hind Ahmed Zaki about how Tunisians' disenchantment with their post-revolutionary political system led to the election of Saied as president, public support for his power-grab, and how the country's women's rights movement has reacted to his appointment of the Arab world's first female prime minister.
March 9, 2022
Middle East Brief 147 (Summary) — Why is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan so enthusiastic about planting trees? The answer is more complicated than authoritarian greenwashing. In our latest Middle East Brief, Ekin Kurtiç argues that the AKP government’s keen interest in greening Turkey is an attempt to monopolize the environmental agenda and turn legitimate environmental protest into a criminal activity. From anti-mining movements in the 1990s to the Gezi Park occupation in the 2010s and the wildfires of the 2020s, Kurtiç charts how community organizers, legal activists, and forestry experts have formed new fronts of opposition against environmental degradation. While state-led initiatives to plant trees throughout Turkey might appear benevolent, Kurtiç argues, in reality AKP environmentalism is rooted in coercion.
February 22, 2022In the News (Summary) — In the summer of 2021, one of the largest wildfires in the history of Turkey destroyed over 333,000 acres (135,000 hectares) of forest and killed eight people along with thousands of animals. The conflagration was not unexpected. Mediterranean forests are ecologically prone to fire, and summer is fire season in this region. Weeks before the wildfire, the General Directorate of Meteorology forecast a heatwave for the end of July and the first days of August. In addition, extreme drought had been a major concern throughout the year. Given these conditions, forestry experts had been informing the public and state officials about the likelihood of large forest fires.
February 9, 2022
Crown Conversations 12 (Summary) — Israel’s position in the Middle East is changing. The UAE’s announcement in August 2020 that it would normalize relations with Israel—formalized the following month in the Abraham Accords Declaration—sparked a series of similar agreements between Israel and several Arab states. The perception of U.S. disengagement with the region has led countries to reconsider alliances and rivalries. And the election of new leaders in the U.S. and Israel heralds a possible reset in relations between those states. In this Crown Conversation, we spoke with Chuck Freilich about what these changes mean for Israel’s security and role in the Middle East.