From the Journals: Oil Wars; Islamists in Civil Wars; Muslim Women

Continuing our efforts to highlight interesting and relevant scholarship, From the Journals this week includes:

Emily Meierding, Dismantling the Oil Wars Myth, Security Studies, 25:2, 258-288

This article argues that, contrary to the assumptions of international relations scholars, policymakers, and the general public, states do not engage in oil wars. A twofold strategy is employed to support this assertion. First, the article scrutinizes the logical un- derpinnings of oil war claims, arguing that proponents have under- estimated the obstacles to seizing and exploiting foreign resources and, consequently, exaggerated the likelihood of oil wars. Second, the article examines four conflicts that are commonly identified as international oil wars: Japan’s attack on the Dutch East Indies in World War II, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the Iran–Iraq War, and the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay. It finds that the desire to control additional oil resources was not the fundamental cause of aggression in any of these conflicts. In the latter two cases, aggression was unconnected to oil interests. In the former, states fought for their survival, not for an oil prize.

Aisha Ahmad, Going Global: Islamist Competition in Contemporary Civil Wars, Security Studies, 25:2, 353-384

The global landscape of modern jihad is highly diverse and wrought with conflict between rival Islamist factions. Within this inter- Islamist competition, some factions prove to be more robust and durable than others. This research proposes that the adoption of a global identity allows an Islamist group to better recruit and expand their domestic political power across ethnic and tribal divisions without being constrained by local politics. Islamists that rely on an ethnic or tribal identity are more prone to group fragmentation, whereas global Islamists are better able to retain group cohesion by purging their ranks of dissenters. To examine these two processes, I present original field research and primary source analysis to ex- amine Islamist in-fighting in Somalia from 2006–2014 and then expand my analysis to Iraq and Syria, Pakistan, and Mali.

Shugofa Dastgeer and Peter Gade, Visual Framing of Muslim Women in the Arab Spring: Prominent, Active and Visible, International Communication Gazette (April 2016)

This content analysis of still images explores how leading media from the US and Middle East (CNN and Al-Jazeera) visually framed Muslim women during the Arab Spring. The findings indicate that when women were in images, they were the primary focal point more than men. Both media framed Muslim women as active participants in the political unrest; however, Al-Jazeera portrayed Muslim women as active significantly more than CNN. The results contrast sharply with previous studies of portrayals of Muslim women in Western media, especially in the post 9/11 era in which women were largely framed as passive victims.

Ahmed el-Rawi, Assessing public sentiments and news preferences on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, International Communication Gazette (April 2016)

This article investigates the online comments made by Arab Facebook users on news items posted on the Facebook pages of two very popular TV channels: Al-Jazeera Arabic and Al-Arabiya. This study employs different methods to closely examine over 620,000 comments posted on the two Facebook pages as well as studying the most commented on news stories from a total of 11,685 news reports. The results indicate that commentators expressed some dominant sentiments that are mostly in line with the TV channels’ coverage of certain events, while certain news topics attracted most of the online public’s comments especially on Al Jazeera channel.

Marco Pinfari (2016): Framing through Paradox: Egypt and the “Obama Supports Terrorism” Campaign, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

This article presents and analyzes the “Obama supports terrorism” campaign, which was launched in Egypt in late June 2013 and was instrumental to the framing of some Islamist groups as terrorist both before and after the 3 July 2013 coup. The analysis of the visual material of the campaign highlights its reliance on various Western discourses from the War on Terror, including some whose religious and racial content is an odd fit for a non-Western, Muslim country like Egypt. Yet, despite the lack of a clear and unified causal narrative to justify such framing, the success of the campaign was crucially aided by the symbolic and rhetorical power its slogan, which provided a credible “schema of interpretation” for its supporters.

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