Panel 3e. Demography and Politics in the Middle East

Chair: Valeria Cetorelli

Contextualising socio-political and demographic transformations in the MENA
Elhum Haghighat, The City University of New York

Uprisings are undoubtedly not a new phenomenon in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region, but their timing and the domino effect of the recent turmoil in the region is puzzling and deserves critical evaluation. In this work I explain the recent social and political change and transformations in the MENA region. I question a) the timing, and b) the context within which the uprisings took shape, and still are in place. I propose several factors for this analysis: 1) multiple modernities perspective where it explains the process of development in the region; 2) demographic transition stages; 3) age structure; 4) changes in sexual and gender norms; 5) the role of civil society, and 6) the process of democratization. The method of my analysis is mixed methodology; quantitative-demographic and comparative country case studies.

The search for national identity: managing nationality in Kuwait and the Gulf States
Allan G. Hill, University of Southampton

Increasing international attention is being focused on the nationality and immigration laws that determine the balance between citizens and immigrants as well as the composition (age, sex, education and national origins) of the migrants. With ambiguities surrounding citizenship reaching back before full independence, all the Gulf States struggle with definitions of nationality between and within the ‘native’ and the ímmigrant’ populations. The case of Kuwait illustrates the joint effects of internal politics and external relations on the size, composition and origins of the immigrant flows. Using data from the first census of 1957 and subsequent census, survey and population registration data , this paper traces the fluctuations in the balance between the Kuwaiti and the non-Kuwaiti populations, including the effects of the re-classification of the bidūn jinsiya (‘without nationality’) in 1986. Issues addressed including the continuing high fertility of the Kuwaiti nationals which in combination with the very low death rates, produces extraordinarily high rates of natural increase. The resulting population age distribution is thus very young with relative large cohorts entering the economically active age group each year. Labour force participation rates, however, remain very low for the national population. Although naturalizations are very rare, the internal political changes consequent on the 1990 Iraqi occupation and the subsequent 1991 Gulf War affected the relative size and the composition of both the Kuwaiti and the non-Kuwaiti elements of the population of Kuwait. The make-up of the non-national population has changed dramatically in recent years, with a turning away from a dependence of Arab migrants (formerly Palestinians, Jordanians, Syrians and Egyptians in the main) to workers of south and east Asian origin. The implications of these compositional changes are reviewed in the context of the current demography of Kuwait and other Gulf states. Some of these tendencies are then examined in several other Gulf States where conditions are very different and where the debate about nationality is less openly discussed. The paper discusses the implications of recent decisions on the classification and rights of the national populations in the context of the political evolution of the states in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

Child Mortality Trends in Iraq: Politics and Subterfuge
Tim Dyson, LSE

This paper examines evidence on the level and trend of child mortality in Iraq. Until around 2007 it was generally thought that there had been a sharp rise in the level of child mortality in the country during the early 1990s as a result of the first Gulf war and the accompanying United Nations economic sanctions. The main basis for this view was a UNICEF survey conducted in 1999. However, estimates of the level and trend in child mortality subsequently became available from additional surveys. The estimates from the additional surveys show no sign of a sharp increase in the level of child mortality in the early 1990s. Therefore it is virtually certain that, as was suggested by a report in 2005, the 1999 survey data were deliberately and cleverly manipulated by the then government of Iraq.

Hard and soft demographic engineering: the case of Israel / Palestine
Paul Morland, Birkbeck College, University of London

A certain amount of work has been undertaken into looking at how demography shapes conflict, particularly around ‘youth bulges’ and often in relation to the Middle East. Less consideration has been given to the ways in which conflict shapes demography and specifically how groups in conflict deploy demographic strategies. A fruitful way of addressing this is to define demographic engineering as the deployment of strategies intentionally to alter the demographic balance in a territory, usually in the context of an ethnic conflict, so as to strengthen one group against another. This can take the form of ‘hard’ demographic engineering, involving the creation, destruction and movement of people. In other words, it is the pursuit of demographic ends through demographic means. By contrast, ‘soft’ demographic engineering involves the manipulation of demography through non-demographic means, normally through the redefinition of frontiers, redrawing either the borders of territories or the boundaries of identity. In ‘Demographic Engineering: Populations Strategies in Ethnic Conflict’ I look at four case studies, namely Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, the USA and Israel / Palestine, and examine how demographic engineering, both of the hard and of the soft varieties, has shaped the conflict. In this presentation I will look at the case of Israel / Palestine and examine Jewish immigration and fertility choices of Arabs and Jews as cases of hard demographic engineering and Israel’s approach to the West Bank and Gaza and the use of censuses by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority as cases of soft demographic engineering.

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