PhD Proposal: Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring


 

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Research Questions, Hypotheses & Variables:

Why did the Arab Spring affect states differently? What accounts for these differences in outcome? This article seeks to address that very question.

In this research, I extend “Wimmer et al’s” model of ethnic conflict & exclusion to include ethno-religious groups in the Middle East. Ample literature has been written on the consequences of minority rule, especially in the Middle East, but there is little research on ethno-religious exclusion as the source of national instability. The typical variables considered are foreign intervention, religiosity or authoritarianism. My argument is that some states are more or less politically developed than others, and as such, exhibit a more sophisticated system that at the very least represents the majority ethnic fabric of the nation-state. Exclusive states tend to be less developed politically, and as such disenfranchise ethnic majorities leading to more instability.

Continue reading “PhD Proposal: Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring”

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Overcoming the Occupation: A Response to The Economic Cost of Terrorism


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Danny Krikorian

Benmelech, Berrebi & Klor

Article Critique

Introduction

In their research titled “The Economic Cost of Terrorism”, the authors aim to demonstrate a positive relationship between terrorism & unemployment, in that increased terror attacks in the form of suicide bombings by Palestinians against Israeli targets correlate with increased unemployment rates for Palestinians living in Palestine as well as Israel (Benmelech, Berrebi & Klor 2010).

Literature Review

Unlike previously cited studies in the literature on this subject such as by Pape, Moghadam, O’Neil, Davis & Kirk, the authors of this particular research aim to fill a gap by focusing on the economic costs of terrorism on the states harboring terrorists themselves, as opposed to the target state. In this case, the authors analyze 150 suicide cases of attacks between the years of 2000-2006, during which the second Palestinian Uprising took place for the independent variable, and determine its overall effect on the dependent variable of unemployment, which is measured through a survey method encompassing a sample of 20,000 Palestinians.

While the focus of the work is original by focusing on economic costs of the perpetrators & the data is robust, perhaps some variables have been overlooked, which could affect the results and theoretical implications therein.

In “The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism” author Robert Pape demonstrates that retaliatory attacks by Hamas, a militant Palestinian group, against Israeli targets, have produced positive results in the short term for Palestinians, such as the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in the early 2000s. Pape’s “Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”, Moghadam’s “Palestinian Suicide Terrorism in the Second Intifada” & O’Neil’s “Towards A Typology of Political Terrorism” altogether further demonstrate the unfounded assumption that unemployment results from Palestinian suicide terrorism. A wider time series, an inclusion of control variables such as media bias, heightened security & military invasion would dramatically change the results of the regressions therein.

Criticisms of the Research

Time Series

The time period selected seems rather narrow for the given context of a half century long conflict. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been going on since 1948. Focusing on a time table that spans only 6 years, ignoring almost a half century’s worth of data, can be misleading. To elaborate further, the trend of unemployment prior to the year 2000 stretching all the way back to the mid twentieth century in Palestine as well as for Palestinians living in Israel might have exhibited a continued rise even amidst an absence of terror attacks against Israeli targets. The time period chosen isn’t representative enough.

Control Variables

Media Portrayals, Employment Discrimination & Minority Exclusion

Results might also be impacted had the research accounted for control variables which should have been controlled for such as increased media propaganda that depict negative portrayals of Palestinians, employment discrimination & the absence of minority protection apparatuses.

The state of Israel instates discriminatory policies against Palestinians which limit their prospects for unemployment, not to mention survival. Various UN charters condemn Israel for negligence towards racist policies against Israeli Arabs, Muslims, Christians and African migrants. Public polls conducted in Israel measuring levels of Israeli racism against Arabs support this claim. Surely negative media portrayals, discrimination in employment opportunities & the absence of political representation or security apparatuses for minorities are variables overlooked which hinder Palestinian unemployment.

Even in education there is discrimination. Despite being nominally part of various conventions & charters against racism, scarcely any Palestinians are enrolled in Jewish schools, where the quality of education is significantly higher. Israeli restrictions on the Palestinian economy resulted in heightened unemployment (Davis & Kirk 2013). By 2008, the Gaza Strip’s unemployment rate reached 71%. New laws regarding land ownership in Israel are also believed to have worsened discrimination against Arabs.

Property seizures, imprisonment of political prisoners & even children, violent military assaults by the Israeli government & settlement expansion, all of which experience different rates of occurrence over time and might have drastic impacts on Palestinian unemployment, but only within the Palestinian territories.

Perhaps a survey of Israeli perception of the likelihood employing a Palestinian could be modeled to demonstrate a control on inherent discrimination.
And to test a correlation between the frequency of displaying violent images of Palestinians on the media in a certain region & during a certain time period in Israel with the degree of employment. This would be ideally measured overtime to demonstrate whether there is a correlation.
These factors, plus widening the time series to an appropriate window stretching back to the commencement of suicide attacks by Palestinians (1980s) and stretching to the most recent suicide attack, would perhaps all produce variant results and affect the theoretical conclusion and observations therein.

Conclusion

The research largely overlooks significant control variables & more broad, representative time series. Future research thus should include a broader time frame, and control for increases in the aforementioned intervening variables, such as negative media portrayals of Palestinians inside Israel, settlement expansion, discrimination against Arabs in politics, economics & society such as education, violent & disproportionate military campaigns & property seizures in the Palestinian territories. Future research should also consider a balanced panel of authorship in order to help diversify scholarship & consideration of otherwise overlooked variables.

With regards to the conflict itself, any true hope would be the equal recognition indigenous rights of both nations. The question is: Who is willing?

A truly free and democratic Middle East will be possible once the abandonment of one sided, prejudiced logic is exhibited by all parties involved, regional & global.

Palestinian terrorism may or may not demonstrate a relationship with unemployment in Israel, with the inclusion all the aforementioned control variables & the broadening of the time series.

The literature has suggested that suicide terrorism has often resulted in concessions benefitting Palestinians. So perhaps weighing the priority of employment in Israel against the the overall objective of regaining lost territory for Palestinians might also help depict a more accurate picture of the motives, incentives & true results of actions on both sides.

Works Cited

Benmelech, Berrebi, & Klor. (2010). The Economic Cost of Harboring Terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 54(2). 331-353.

Davis & Kirk. (2013). Palestine and the Palestinians in the 21st Century. Indiana University Press.

Pape, R. A. (2006). Dying to win: The strategic logic of suicide terrorism. Random House Incorporated.

Moghadam, A. (2003). Palestinian suicide terrorism in the second intifada: Motivations and organizational aspects. Studies in conflict and terrorism26(2), 65-92.

O’Neill, B. E. (1978). Towards a typology of political terrorism: The Palestinian resistance movement. Journal of International Affairs, 17-42.

 

The World to Come (Cover Art) & release date revealed!


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You can purchase my debut self-produced album #TheWorldtoCome on May 15th. I will share the links then! It will be available for purchase via @iTunes & streamable via @AppleMusic @Spotify @TIDAL & more. Don’t forget to also watch the video for #Lavash – the single off the album, below! You can also here the second single off the album #OntheInside (Love & Pomegranates) below. Show dates, merch & more available at www.DannyKrikorian.com. Stay tuned for an official write-up/review on my album & artistry. Thank you for your patience & enjoy!

Credits:

Produced by Danny K (Krikorian & Company) (c)

A Neo-imperial Menace – The Great Game for the Middle East


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A comparative study of Syria & Iraq wars, makes it evident that the cause of instability is not authoritarianism, nor radicalism in either of these states, and the entire ME region.

Rather these are symptoms of a greater menace inciting them – neo-imperialism.

Enough with associative-thinking  – ‘this has to be true because of this.’

We don’t need Putin to be boogieman in order to vilify a US president.

Trump & the GOP that created him are war criminals, racists & rabid, hawkish interventionists.

With or without Putin.

Even Egypt’s case of the ‘Arab Spring’ was arguably a direct rejection of neo-imperial vision of a colonial-outpost in the Middle East.

Democracy may be the end-goal even in the Middle East – but democracy is impossible without sovereignty. Democracy has neither been achieved in Iraq or Syria. In one case, an authoritarian was overthrown, the other, preserved. Both cases resulted in utter chaos, unprecedented terrorism and religious radicalization. This implies the specter is foreign intervention, not domestic.

Sovereignty is a precondition for political development. One does not need to be a ‘political scientist’ or expert to understand that simple notion.

The cases of Bahrain, Yemen & Egypt serve as controls for other purported variables that may be influencing the outcome of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. Bahrain indicates that while Sunni-Shia hatreds are strong – they are not sufficient to incite a full-fledged civil war along sectarian lines. In Egypt, the political climate made it apparent that radicalism was exploiting any attempt at political development, contrary to the claim that reduced authoritarianism might mitigate religious fundamentalism. Finally, the case of Yemen indicates the double-standard exhibited by interventionists in the region – namely the US & Europe, who on one end funnel arms and finances to prop up dictators such as in Yemen; & in others devote the same efforts to toppling them.

Libya too, like Iraq, demonstrates the vulnerability of a nation without a state.

These are all indications that the primary menace to peace, stability and progress in the Middle East is foreign intervention, or neo-imperialism.

Ultimately, a truly democratic movement – the future of the Middle East, depends as much on internal efforts at deinstitutionalizing & wholly dismantling authoritarianism as it does on mitigating foreign support for these very institutions. Only then, can global hegemonies like Russia, America & China be kept at bay regarding any excessive ambitions in the Middle East and beyond (Latin America, Africa, Central & Southeast Asia).

Only through unity of indigenous cultures and nation-states can regions afflicted with imperialism overcome & develop. Dignity, prosperity, culture & innovation are best preserved under these conditions.

Watch: Danny K – “Lavash” [Music Video]


It’s finally here! I present you, “Lavash” – the Music Video, or short film rather. This is the single off my upcoming album: The World to Come LP, which you can stream via Apple Music & Spotify & purchase via iTunes.

Pre-order links will be available very soon. The album is scheduled for a release in mid-April. Listen to the second single “On the Inside” – below:

One love!

Who Really is ‘Presidential’? Thoughts Ahead of Tonight’s Debate – #Election2016


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Bernie Sanders was not presidential [sadly to say – despite many of his ideals being great – if not the best compared to his counterparts].

That is something the American people are struggling to grasp – especially the youth.

What is – ‘presidential’?

Donald Trump – is not presidential. But for reasons different than Bernie. Bernie is, well, simply put, without any character, really. Despite all the slogans and witty catch phrases, Bernie is just another product of social trends. He isn’t Justin Trudeau. He isn’t Obama. He just doesn’t have any flair. Americans like intellect – but they equally value humor; athleticism; suaveness – or “swagger” in today’s terminology. None of these are characteristic of Sanders.

The same could be said of Donald Trump but for different reasons. He is too uneducated, vulgar, impolite, erratic & irresponsible for such leadership – if not to hold any post. He can barely manage his own funds – or his father’s, rather.

That isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton is ‘presidential’.

Back in ’08, I hadn’t heard of a guy named Barack Obama, but as the campaign progressed, I realized – I had just witnessed the rise of an extraordinary individual. This man is beyond brilliant – something that few people truly appreciate. I can say that the world appreciates Obama more than America – which is quite telling. That isn’t necessarily true – a lot of Americans love our current president. But the ‘other side’ is equally if not more bent on voicing their hatred – to put it ‘mildly’.

Ahead of tonight’s momentous occasion, the first live debate between Clinton & Trump – I share the following sentiment. People often expect too much. This is a sign of…a lack of experience maybe. But other forces play a role too. The world is suffering and yet, the average American struggles to understand the nooks and crannies of his or her own political system and culture.

As an Armenian-Syrian immigrant living in America – I must say that my perspective should be heeded. There are many causes which are directly connected to me that have yet to be addressed or have been horribly managed, by the US wholly but also precisely by US president Barack Obama, whom I continue to support. Why? Because I am not a perfectionist in the political sense – and expect some compromise – not always – but in times of necessity and urgency. There is much change, and much work to be done in the stride towards justice – but it is just that – a stride – a path. We cannot be held back by radical expectations which in themselves seek to paralyze our sense of progress. That being said it is clear to me there is only one candidate worthy of a vote in this election and that reasoning is from contrived a moral and practical logic – that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

So while she isn’t necessarily the perfect candidate – relative to America’s choices – she is definitely presidential.

The US president is a person of immense wisdom and discipline; responsibility and sacrifice; public service and family value. Which of the two candidates possesses these qualities? And if you have to think twice – think again.

What gets me is that Americans want to change parts of their system that are less relevant to domestic and global wellbeing while ignoring the more pressing issues. And then when a tragedy or crisis occurs, Americans are left wondering how or why. Instead of a Wall Street revolution there should be a minority rights and immigration reform revolution. Instead of a focus on spreading democracy abroad we should be seeking to reduce our arbitrary and partial political influence overseas. Issues like these are costing us – but instead Americans wish to focus on ideological ambiguities and polarized politics.

That is why the candidates have dwindled down to the current options available – one representing the so-called establishment while the other represents the ugliest part of the establishment disguised as anti-establishment.

It is undoubtable that America and the world must implement comprehensive political reform – but this is likely an impossible feat under the auspices of a hypothetical President Trump. On the contrary, Hillary, like Obama (but perhaps to a lesser degree since she is more hawkish) – will pave the road for future generations to at least further the cause of progressivism in its purest form.

Perhaps future generations will reflect a more balanced perspective on US politics – representing minorities; women; LGBTQ; etc. But this cannot be associated with any particular ideological strand or populist trend as it has been in this election. American individualism and personal responsibility, contrary to the ‘8th grader youtube conspiracy video viewer mentality’ – is not preserved or protected by the far left or right – but rather, by a careful, tolerant moderate centrist. So when I say that Hillary Clinton is in fact presidential – that is precisely why. She isn’t just the echo of our grievances – but also of our reason.