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The New Middle East, ISIL and the 6th Revolt Against the West

This paper aims to provide an analysis of the ‘new’ in ‘the new Middle East.’ We argue that what is ‘new’ is the revolt against the West currently underway in the contemporary Middle East, challenging the dominant values of Western statehood and personhood. The paper identifies the novelty in the politics of radical antagonism, apocalyptic geopolitical imagination, the re-birth of extra-territorial subjectivities and the politics of resistance, which together shatter the existing political logos. Two particular empirical cases animate our discussion; namely the Arab Spring and the ISIL. By providing such groundwork, the paper also hopes to point to new avenues for further research that would go beyond the confines of narrow, ethnocentric accounts of ‘the new the Middle East.’

The New Middle East ISIL and the 6th Revolt Against
Opposition troops affiliated to the Damascus Front attacked the ISIL with heavy weapons in the north of Aleppo on November 04, 2015. AA PHOTO / HÜSEYİN NASIR

Introduction

It has become commonplace to speak of the map of the Middle East as being re-written, and regional politics undergoing an ongoing radical transformation since the so-called ‘Arab Spring.’ Contemporary geopolitical commentaries often endorse a new language to describe the perplexing state of affairs, tethering it to such concepts as ‘the new Middle East.’ The latter was originally coined by Condoleezza Rice, who, during the latest Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006, dismissed the country’s suffering as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”1 

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