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POLSC321: Mideast Politics

Unit 2: Introduction to Contemporary Issues in the Politics of the Middle East   In this unit, you will survey some contemporary developments in the Middle East.  The purpose here is to become aware of these developments and to begin to think through the how they are represented the media and academic material.  Later, you will return to these themes, having studied the political history of the region and having critically considered questions of methodology.

Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 7.75 hours to complete.

☐ Subunit 2.1: 2 hours

☐ Subunit 2.2: 2 hours

☐ Subunit 2.3: 0.5 hours

☐ Subunit 2.4: 3.25 hours

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Differentiate among the 2011 uprisings across the Middle East and identify factors that contributed to these uprisings. - Identify the primary reasons the U.S. withdrew its armed forces from Iraq and the challenges confronting the government of Iraq after the official departure of American troops. - Identify the primary arguments for and against a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. - Identify the ongoing sanctions against Iran and the rationale behind these sanctions, and summarize their effect on Iranian society.

2.1 The Arab Spring   - Reading: The Nation: Rashid Khalidi’s “The Arab Spring” Link:The Nation: Rashid Khalidi’s “The Arab Spring” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read this entire article.  Use this resource as an introduction to all of the topics covered in this unit.  This resource also covers the topics outlined in sub-subunits 2.1.1, 2.1.2, and 2.1.3.
 
Studying this reading should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Reading: Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “Understanding the Arab Spring: Public Opinion and the Roots of Revolution in the Arab World” Link: Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “Understanding the Arab Spring: Public Opinion and the Roots of Revolution in the Arab World” (HTML) (MP3)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and select play to listen to this discussion about the Arab Spring, moderated by Anthony Cordesman and featuring Craig
    Charney.  This resource also covers the topics outlined in sub-subunits 2.1.1, 2.1.2, and 2.1.3.
     
    Listening to this audio and pausing to take notes should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Reading: Aljazeera’s “The Arab Awakening” Link: Aljazeera’s “The Arab Awakening” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and study the information on this webpage.  Use this resource as an introduction to all of the topics covered in this unit.  This resource also covers the topics outlined in sub-subunits 2.1.1, 2.1.2, and 2.1.3.
     
    This reading should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

2.1.1 The Tunisian Uprising   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 2.1.  Focus on the reasons for the Tunisian uprising and the possible consequences of it.

2.1.2 The Egyptian Uprising   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 2.1.  Focus on the reasons for the Egyptian uprising and the possible consequences of it.

2.1.3 Other Uprisings across the Middle East   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 2.1.  Use these resources to get an overview of the prevalence and nature of the uprisings across the Middle East.

2.2 U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq   - Reading: Global Post: HDS Greenway’s “Iraq: How Long Can It Hold Together?” and Philip S. Balboni’s “Iraq War: Tragedy and Irony Abound as U.S. Announces Departure” Link: Global Post: HDS Greenway’s “Iraq: How Long Can It Hold Together?” (HTML) and Philip S. Balboni’s “Iraq War: Tragedy and Irony Abound as U.S. Announces Departure” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the links above, and read both of these articles in their entirety.  Use these resources to frame the fundamental questions about the United States’ withdrawal from Iraq.  Compare these articles, and identify reasons for and against withdrawal.  Make sure to take comprehensive notes on these articles and the positions each author takes.  This resource also applies to the topic outlined in sub-subunit 2.2.1.
 
Studying these articles and identifying reasons for and against withdrawal should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

2.2.1 Reasons for Withdrawal   Note: This topic is covered by the resource assigned below subunit 2.2.  In particular, focus on HDS Greenway’s article to reinforce your understanding of reasons in support of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

2.2.2 Implications of Withdrawal   - Reading: Middle East Policy Council’s “Iraq after the U.S. Troop Withdrawal” Link: Middle East Policy Council’s “Iraq after the U.S. Troop Withdrawal” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire article to learn about who has benefitted from the Gulf War and what the challenges of withdrawal will be.
 
Studying this article should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

2.3 U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan   - Web Media: Democracy Now’s “Obama Plan for Afghan War Withdrawal Will Leave Troop Size at Pre-Surge Levels” Link: Democracy Now’s “Obama Plan for Afghan War Withdrawal Will Leave Troop Size at Pre-Surge Levels” (Flash)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, select “download” for the video, and watch this video from the 15:36 mark until the end.  Focus on the size and nature of the American presence in Afghanistan after the official withdrawal.  This resource also covers the topics outlined for sub-subunits 2.3.1 and 2.3.2.
 
Viewing this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

2.3.1 Reasons for Withdrawal   Note: This topic is covered by the resource assigned below subunit 2.3.  Focus on the official and possible unofficial reasons for U.S. withdrawal, as well as on the nature of the U.S. presence that will remain in Afghanistan.

2.3.2 Implications of Withdrawal   Note: This topic is covered by the resource assigned below subunit 2.3.  Focus on the likely consequences of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

2.4 Sanctions on Iran   - Web Media: Free Documentaries: Aaron Newman’s “Iran (Is Not the Problem)” Link: Free Documentaries: Aaron Newman’s “Iran (Is Not the Problem)” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Make sure you watch the film (not the trailer).  Click on “WATCH FILM NOW.”  Focus on the rationale for U.S. concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and the strategy it will adopt in response.  Try to situate the comments made in the film within a broader political worldview, and consider alternatives to the positions offered in the film.  This video also covers the topic outlined in sub-subunit 2.4.1.
 
Viewing this film, pausing to take notes, and reflecting on alternatives to the positions offered in the film should take approximately 2 hours to complete.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

  • Reading: LA Times: Paul Richter’s “Obama Administration Takes a Back Seat on Iran Sanctions” Link: LA Times: Paul Richter’s “Obama Administration Takes a Back Seat on Iran Sanctions” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the brief article in its entirety.  Focus on how the Obama Administration’s approach to Iran has differed from the previous administration’s approach.  Make sure to click “next” at the bottom of the first webpage to read both pages of the article.
     
    Studying this resource should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.

2.4.1 Purpose of the Sanctions   Note: This topic is covered by the resources assigned below subunit 2.4.   Focus on the official and possible unofficial reasons for the U.S. sanctions on Iran.

2.4.2 Effects of the Sanctions   - Reading: Middle East Council Policy: Nathaniel Kern and Matthew M. Reed’s “The Ripple Effects of Iran Sanctions” Link: Middle East Council Policy: Nathaniel Kern and Matthew M. Reed’s “The Ripple Effects of Iran Sanctions” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please click on the link above, and read the entire article.  Focus on who benefits and who is harmed by the sanctions on Iran.
 
You should spend approximately 45 minutes on this reading.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use on the webpage displayed above.