Editorial Note – November 2016

Welcome to the November 2016 issue of Asfar’s e-journal!

This is my first issue since taking on the senior editor role, and what I have tried to achieve in this edition is a combination of thought-provoking, timely, and interesting articles produced by our loyal writers and editors – who I would like to thank for their patience during my settling in period – I would also like to extend a warm welcome to our new editors who have come on-board since I became senior editor, namely Rebecca Stead (editor for the Israel-Palestine region), Sobia Kashif (editor for Morocco), Hatice Soyal (editor for Turkey), Sawsan Bastawy (general Middle East editor), Bahar Karimi (general Middle East editor).

Regular contributor Rich Quinlan interviews cartoonist Sarah Glidden and asks some probing questions about her book Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq, in which she details her journey through Turkey, Syria and Iraq with her journalist colleagues. The book gives an insight into the effects of the Iraq War on key Middle Eastern states, particularly focusing on the refugees of the war.

Our new Israel-Palestine editor Rebecca Stead offers an insight into her time in Israel, encountering black Bedouin Israelis who, unlike Europeans and Arabs who live in the country, are a minority within a minority. Her article offers a glimpse through the window of Israeli society and attempts to give a voice to black Bedouins who face an uphill struggle to survive each day.

Amy McConaghy writes about the protest in Jordan that have appeared since the country signed an energy deal with neighbour Israel. She discusses the complexities of Israeli-Jordanian relations from a political and economic perspective.

Asfar’s CEO Sheniz Tan gives us an account of her time in Turkey on a youth exchange, when incidentally certain sections of the military decided to attempt a coup against the government. She recounts the thoughts and emotions during this time, giving readers an insight into the complexities of contemporary Turkish politics.

As 11 November, Remembrance Day in the UK, Commonwealth, France and Belgium, falls during this issue, I write about the Arab contribution to the British war effort during the First World War; an often forgotten group of soldiers who came from the hot and dry deserts of the Middle East and North Africa to fight alongside the allies in the cold and wet trenches of the Western Front. I hope the article is thought provoking and gives readers something to think about when they remember the war, whether at an organised cenotaph service in the UK or in a moment of silence elsewhere.

As editor of the Caucasus Region for several years, I jumped at the chance to visit Kazakhstan in September. Flying with the national airline Air Astana, meeting the airline’s President and CEO, and visiting the more established former capital of Almaty in the south of the country and the glistening new capital of Astana in the north gave me an all round view of Kazakh life and society. The country is rapidly modernising with wealth generated from its vast oil reserves, and the vision of long-term President Nursultan Nazarbayev is coming to fruition in his postcard perfect capital – the lovechild of experimental architecture and Kazakh traditions. Astana in particular is especially interesting, with a huge yurt-like tent shopping centre with a beach on the top floor with sand taken from Dubai, an opera house that could have been built by the Ancient Greeks, a towering tree-shaped structure with a giant golden egg on top, and a glass pyramid where religious leaders meet each year all add to the peculiarity of Kazakhstan’s booming new capital in the middle of the barren steppe. I have contributed a selection of images to this issue, but have specifically chosen not to include any annotations to allow for as much free thought as possible.

I hope you enjoy reading the November 2016 issue of our e-journal, and as ever, if you have any ideas for the next edition or would like to know more about Asfar you can email me at: joew@asfar.org.uk

Best wishes,

Joe Worthington

Senior Editor

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All writers' views in articles are their own and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Asfar team.

Published by Asfar in London, UK - ISSN 2055-7957 (Online)