A new edition of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)’s Middle East Report is now available online and OPEN ACCESS here:
The coronavirus pandemic is vividly highlighting the fundamental links between people, health and the environment. This issue on nature and politics probes the essential but also sometimes fraught relationships between people and their environments in the Middle East. It provides insights into crucial issues of energy, water and climate change and the political struggles between states and their citizens over environmental stewardship, sovereignty and the allocation of resources. It also takes us into spaces of human-environment interaction that are not so commonly discussed—bird markets, Iraqi landscapes contaminated with toxins, sinkholes around the Dead Sea and Turkish wetlands teeming with wildlife. Through these contributions, “Nature and Politics” offers a critical take on contemporary challenges across the Middle East.
Issue Editors: Jessica Barnes and Muriam Haleh Davis with Guest Editor Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins
Water in the Middle East: A Primer Jessica Barnes On Blaming Climate Change for the Syrian Civil War Jan Selby Global Aspirations and Local Realities of Solar Energy in Morocco Atman Aoui, Moulay Ahmed el Amrani, Karen Rignall Birth Defects and the Toxic Legacy of War in Iraq Kali Rubaii Bird Markets, Artisanal Pigeons and Class Relations in the Middle East Bridget Guarasci The Unintended Consequences of Turkey’s Quest for Oil Zeynep Oguz Terra Infirma – Dead Sea Sinkholes – A Photo Essay Simone Popperl The Lost Wetlands of Turkey Caterina Scaramelli “Algeria is not for Sale!” Mobilizing Against Fracking in the Sahara Naoual Belakhdar An Interview with Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins Tessa Farmer “Turkey Wants to be Part of the Nuclear Club” An Interview with Can Candan Kenan Behzat Sharpe
I’m taking part in the Toronto Hearing of the Airspace Tribunal on 1 November. I’ve written about the project before – see my post here – but here are the basic details:
Online (via Zoom)All times are Eastern Standard Time
The Toronto hearing of the Airspace Tribunal is co-presented by The Power Plant and the Master of Visual Studies program at the Daniels Faculty, University of Toronto. Speakers from a broad range of expertise, disciplines and lived experience – including Climate Change, Human Rights, Artificial Intelligence, Geopolitics, Contemporary Warfare, Biopolitics, Psychology and Forced Migration – will consider whether we need increased protection from threats from above through the recognition of this proposed new human right.
The hearing will take place over three 2-hour online panel discussions followed by a one 1-hour online summative session. The Power Plant’s Director, Gaëtane Verna, will be the Chair, introducing each session and all speakers. Counsel to the Tribunal, Kirsty Brimelow QC of Doughty Street Chambers (London, UK), will pose questions to the Experts. Members of the audience – our judges – will also be able to ask questions.
The Airspace Tribunal invites representations from experts across a broad range of disciplines and lived experience to consider the case for and against the recognition of a new human right to protect the freedom to exist without physical or psychological threat from above.
You can find out more (and register: it’s free) here.
There are four sessions – you can access the full program via the link above – but here is the panel for the first one (1400 to 1600 EST):
Shona Illingworth is an artist whose video and sound installations and research-led practice investigate memory, cultural erasure and structures of power and their impact on how the future is imagined in situations of social tension and conflict. She is Reader in Arts, University of Kent
Nick Grief was a member of the legal team which represented the Marshall Islands in the International Court of Justice in cases against India, Pakistan and the UK concerning the obligation to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament. He is Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Kent and practises at the Bar from Doughty Street Chambers, London, UK
Derek Gregory is Peter Wall Distinguished Professor and Professor of Geography, University of British Columbia at Vancouver, Canada. He is completing a new book, Reach from the Sky, which is is a genealogy and geography of aerial violence; his current research concerns medical care and casualty evacuation in war zones, 1914 to the present.
Gbenga Oduntan, Reader in International Commercial Law, Kent Law School, University of Kent
And for the second (on 4 November):
Jairus Grove is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA.His recent book Savage Ecology: War and Geopolitics at the End of the World develops an ecological theory of geopolitics that argues that contemporary global crises are better understood when considered within the larger history of international politics.
Jack Penashue, Director of Social Health for Sheshatshiu Innu First Nations, Sheshatshiu, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Gabriele Schwab, Distinguished Professor, Comparative Literature with joint faculty appointments in Anthropology, English, European Languages and Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies; School of Humanities, University of California — Irvine, USA
And for the third (on 7 November):
Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa (Birmingham City University). His current research projects explore digital media, knowledge production, and the relationship between cultural practices and human rights. Upcoming and recent publications include Unbearable States: Digital Media and Cultural Activism (forthcoming, 2021) and Critique in Practice (Sternberg Press, 2020). He is the series editor for Research/Practice (Sternberg Press, 2019–ongoing) and sits on the editorial boards of Third Text and Digital War, respectively
Kwame McKenzie, CEO of the Wellesley Institute; Director of Health Equity, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; and, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada
Renata Salecl is a philosopher and sociologist whose work has included radical re-evaluation of notions of liberal theories of democracy to offer new approaches to human rights and feminism. She is professor at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London and senior researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her recent book A Passion for Ignorance is an original and provocative exploration of our capacity to ignore what is inconvenient or traumatic.
The fourth session is a plenary, closing session. The Airspace Tribunal hearing in Toronto will be recorded and transcribed. Documentation will be incorporated in a special issue of the Journal of Digital War and contribute to Illingworth’s Fall 2021 exhibition at The Power Plant. It will also contribute to the drafting history, helping to build and refine the case for the proposed new human right to be submitted to the United Nations and other bodies.
Like all my readers, I suspect, I’ve been battling many things these past months: including, right now, the intensity of teaching online. More on that later, since I doubt that’s what most of you come here for, so what better to celebrate my re-start than news of the publication of a wonderful new book,The War Lawyers: the United States, Israel and Juridical Warfare by my dear friend Craig Jones:
Over the last 20 years the world’s most advanced militaries have invited a small number of military legal professionals into the heart of their targeting operations, spaces which had previously been exclusively for generals and commanders. These professionals, trained and hired to give legal advice on an array of military operations, have become known as war lawyers.
The War Lawyers examines the laws of war as applied by military lawyers to aerial targeting operations carried out by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Israel military in Gaza. Drawing on interviews with military lawyers and others, this book explains why some lawyers became integrated in the chain of command whereby military targets are identified and attacked, whether by manned aircraft, drones, and/or ground forces, and with what results.
This book shows just how important law and military lawyers have become in the conduct of contemporary warfare, and how it is understood. Jones argues that circulations of law and policy between the US and Israel have bolstered targeting practices considered legally questionable, contending that the involvement of war lawyers in targeting operations enables, legitimises, and sometimes even extends military violence.
Introduction: The War Lawyers 1. Targeting without Lawyers: The Vietnam War 2. The Birth of “Operational Law” 3. “‘The Lawyers’ War” 4. Targeting in the Israeli Military 5. The Kill Chain (I): Deliberate Targeting 6. The Kill Chain (II): Dynamic Targeting Conclusion: Juridical Warfare: Limits and Possibilities