Syria’s Palestinian Refugees: Stateless and Under Threat

For many Palestinians, the experience of being displaced is not a singular event in the past but an ongoing process. Many Palestinians who became refugees in the Nakba in 1948 were displaced once again in the 1967 June War, Black September in 1971, or the Lebanese Civil War. The Syrian Civil war is the latest incident of mass Palestinian displacement. Syria was once home to more than half a million Palestinian refugees and was an important political, economic and social base for the exiled Palestinian national movement. While lacking citizenship, Palestinian refugees received relatively wide-ranging rights in Syria. However, fleeing alongside Syrians during the ongoing civil war, Palestinian Refugees from Syria (PRS) have faced special hardship due to their Palestinian identity and lack of citizenship. Continue reading “Syria’s Palestinian Refugees: Stateless and Under Threat”

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Anti-Democratic Energy: Jordan’s Recent Gas Deal with Israel.

Image: “The enemy’s gas is occupation” [via Jordan BDS

Recently, Jordan’s government-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a 15 year, $10 billion deal to import Israeli-extracted liquid natural gas. In the eyes of the appointed government of the Hashemite Kingdom, the deal is a boon. Jordan is a notoriously resource poor country, having to import 96% of its energy needs from other countries. In previous decades, Saddam Hussain’s Iraq and Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt provided subsidized fuel to fill the country’s energy needs. However, according to the Jordanian government, the loss of these providers and the damage to gas pipelines due to recent unrest in the Sinai have caused NEPCO to rack up billions of dollars in debt. At the same time, energy prices have steadily risen for Jordanians. The government claims that this deal will lower energy costs and save NEPCO $600 million a year.

Despite these supposed benefits, the deal has caused widespread and unified protests of a scale unseen in Jordan since the start of the Arab Spring. Continue reading “Anti-Democratic Energy: Jordan’s Recent Gas Deal with Israel.”

Identity and Gender: Women’s Unequal Right to Citizenship in the Middle East

A Lebanese woman holds up a banner durin

A recent UN High Commissioner for Refugees report revealed that 27 countries limit women’s ability to pass their nationality onto their children or spouses. Twelve of these are in the Arab Middle East and North Africa. If you include the partially recognized State of Palestine, 13 of the Arab League’s 22 member states have such restrictions. In many of these countries, citizenship is conditioned on birth to a citizen father. Therefore, unlike men who marry foreigners and have children, women in these countries are often unable to pass their nationality onto their foreign-born or stateless husbands or their children.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of people across these countries lack the rights that come with full citizenship in the countries in which they were often born, raised and spent their entire lives. Some recent reforms have attempted to alleviate in part the difficulties that accompany these regulations. However, for political and ideological reasons, these limits remain in place.

Lebanon is one such country. Continue reading “Identity and Gender: Women’s Unequal Right to Citizenship in the Middle East”

Elections without Democracy in Jordan

This past week, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan held a general election to select a new parliament, four months after King Abdullah II dissolved the previous government by royal decree. The elections themselves were largely unremarkable. Turnout was underwhelming, with only 37% of registered voters casting ballots. The political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, participating in its first elections since 2007, failed to meet its target number of seats. This was despite the overturn of the electoral system instituted in 1989 to limit the Brotherhood’s influence. Overall, the make-up of the new parliament remains similar to those of the previous two decades, leading analysts to predict that “no radical changes” will occur.

What is remarkable in these elections is the sense of apathy by Jordanians about the latest iteration of the parliament and lack of faith that anything positive will come of it. 87% of those surveyed in June thought that the previous parliament did nothing of note. The massive drop from an already meager 56% turnout in 2013 indicates the widely held belief that its successor will be equally ineffectual. This apathy is a logical reaction to the failure of repeated parliaments to address the same recurring issues of economic hardship and political corruption that have plagued the kingdom for years. As with all of Jordan’s ills, tribal politics remain the go-to scapegoat for explaining the incompetence of the elected parliament. And while family and tribal loyalties do play a role, the major limits on Jordan’s stuttering and unconvincing democratic process have their origins elsewhere. Continue reading “Elections without Democracy in Jordan”