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Migration Security and Citizenship in the Middle East

Migration, Security, and Citizenship in the Middle East: New Perspectives

  • Book Title:
 Migration Security And Citizenship In The Middle East
  • Book Author:
Peter Seeberg, Zaid Eyadat
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Introduction: Migration, Security, and Citizenship in a Changing Middle East

From late 2010, the international community had witnessed a hitherto unseen spread of public unrest in several states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).1

The course of events seemed to defy the established image of unshakeable authoritarianism attributed to the region. Because of the widespread civil uprisings, several dictators of Arab states had been forced from power and an unclear political situation prevailed, followed by instability and uncertainty. The so-called Arab Spring2 did not end with breaking authoritarian resilience.

For example, shortly after the Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had left office and sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, several thou- sand Tunisians started to migrate to the Italian island Lampedusa, to escape turmoil in their country.

The arrival of the Tunisian migrants made the Italian government declare the immigration situation a humanitarian emergency and raise the issue at the EU level.3 The migration issue once again grasped the media headlines in Europe, reignited many of the former migration debates at the policy level and mobilized attention within scholarly research, where migration already for decades had been one of the most significant themes.4

 Maybe the EU’s initial responses, as dis- cussed by Leonhard den Hertog (2011: 17), were restrictive and secu- rity-driven, but it emphasized the European quandary over the past decades: on one side, the need for a cheap workforce in the European labor market; on the other side, the negative, skeptical perspective often emphasized in the European immigration discourse:

Europe flooded by millions of Arab and African immigrants.5 The influx of the Tunisian migrants at Lampedusa was, in the media as well as in the public discourse, described and interpreted as a phenomenon, which might threaten stability and security in the Mediterranean region and thereby affect Europe.6

As indicated, for instance, in the New York Times, one of the unofficial ambitions behind the EU policies was to hold off new waves of Arab migration toward Europe: a poll in France pointed at a paradoxical, but easily understandable, contradiction in the way the recent development in the Middle East was perceived in Europe: “while the events of the Arab Spring were presented positively by the media, most people were mainly worried that they would mean even more potential immigrants” (Vinoceur 2011).

In other words, it seemed that the European public was for supporting democratic progress in the Middle East, but skeptical about the consequences of the increas- ing number of immigrants arriving in Europe.7

Within the past few decades, new developments have taken place in the Middle East regarding migration movements and policy reactions to this important phenomenon.

What used to be a system based on the distinction between countries of immigration and countries of emigration has changed into complex patterns of continued migration toward the West, transit migration through southern and east- ern Mediterranean states, and transregional globalized migration as shown by for instance Philippe Fargues (Fargues 2008, 2009a, 2009b).

The Arab uprisings have contributed to the complex reality and the new development in the MENA region in 2011–2012 with the more diverse and unstable Middle Eastern reality will most likely contribute to changing local, regional, and transregional migration movements (Seeberg 2013a; Abdelfattah 2011; den Hertog 2011).

The complex relations between migration, security, and citizenship in MENA have not been thoroughly analyzed in migration research.8 The chapters of this volume contribute to the research on the implica- tions of migration in and from the MENA region, emphasizing both the significance of the migration movements, policy reactions to this important phenomenon, and questions concerning human rights, governance, and citizenship in relation to policymaking processes.9 The contributions cover different, yet interrelated, fields of migration research.

 The first part consists of two analyses dealing with citizenship and migration in Arab Gulf states and the human rights conditions for low-skilled female migrant workers in Jordan, respectively.

 Also, in this part, two chapters from a Mediterranean perspective can be found. Chapter 3, looking into what can be termed “the Middle East in Europe,” examines how Moroccan migrants in Piemonte, Italy, perceive democracy, while chapter 4 presents an analysis of Amazigh Diaspora in the context of Algeria. The second part focuses, from different perspectives, on transnational migration:

first, an analysis on governance and migrants rights in Lebanon; second, a study of irregular migration, migrant smuggling, and refugee flows in Libya; and, finally, a chapter on Syrian migration.

The chapter on Syria examines migration to Lebanon and the Gulf states from a security perspective and includes an analysis of the recent unfortunate development in Syria: the internal crisis forcing a significant number of refugees to the neighboring states, to Turkey (in the first place) and Lebanon and Jordan.

The analyses present new perspectives on migration and security in the Middle East, showing how recent developments in the actual migration in the MENA region challenge our traditional interpre- tations of the migration phenomenon.

 Furthermore, the different chapters discuss how migratory movements in the Middle East raise new questions concerning human rights, governance, and citizen- ship, demonstrating how the lack of representation and political inclusion—already a problematic issue given the authoritarian nature of states in the Middle East—is even more relevant with respect to migrant populations.

At the same time, increasing securitization of immigration by European and attempts at controlling migration movements from the Middle East seem to emphasize that security concerns both in the Middle East and the West are not only abstract questions of external security and North-South issues, but also focus on internal challenges in the involved states (Seeberg 2013b).

Also, transnational developments in MENA such as the transfer of remittances, irregular migration, cross- border crime, and transnational terrorism add to the challenges the involved states, international organizations, and other nonstate actors have to face (see, among others, Tabutin et al. 2005; Baldwin-Edwards 2005, 2006; Hooghe et al. 2008; Icduygu 2007; Jureidini 2009).

The incumbent regimes in the Middle East are concerned with their own security now more than ever and the migration issue con- stitutes an important aspect, often connected to conflicting national narratives attached to ethnic or religious minorities and to political conflicts in which Islamist movements and parties play an essential role (Seeberg 2012).

A growing, yet mostly unspoken, consensus between the governments in the Arab world developed before the Arab revolts related to the securitization of oppositional groups. Behind this development lie political agendas in the MENA states, which seriously affected the condition of the ethnic minorities, migrants, and refugees regarding citizenship, human rights, and so on.

As emphasized by Stephen Castles and Mark J. Miller in their classic, “The Age of Migration,” all relevant contexts for producing migrants can be found in the Middle East. It is “an area where enor- mous political, cultural and economic diversity has resulted in many varied types of migration and mobility” (2009: 159).

In his widely read article, Fred Halliday describes the different types of migration in the Middle East, taking his point of departure in the fact that “in an historical context, the Arab world has been the site of a vari- ety of migratory flows consequent upon the internationalization of capitalist relations” (1984: 4). The migratory movements are internal, meaning that they take place behind borders—like taking refugees, for example, in Iraq where the problematic development following the US-led invasion in March 2003 resulted in a huge number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

They are also regional—a large number of Egyptians work in Libya (the local perspective) as well as a large number of Egyptians work in the Gulf (the interregional per- spective), as shown by Ahmed Farouk Ghoneim (Ghoneim 2010).

There are few regions in the world where population movements have had wider implications and significance than in MENA.10 Due to civil and regional wars throughout the twentieth and twenty-first cen- turies, diaspora population is exceptionally high in many of the MENA countries.

In 2009 almost half of the world’s refugees as recorded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) originated from Afghanistan or Iraq; Pakistan, Iran, and Syria together hosted about 60 percent of the world’s refugee population. In Syria, a refugee population of 1,005,472 was registered, compared to a resi- dent population of 22 million, and in the UK, the refugee population was 238,150 and in the United States it was 264,574 (UNHCR 2011).

 In 2012, due to the internal crisis in Syria, the number of refugees with a Syrian background leaving the country had increased to more than half a million, of which 147,107 were registered in Turkey, 123,224 in Lebanon, 112,379 in Jordan, 66,809 in Iraq, and 11,260 in Egypt (UNHCR 2012).

 The data show the tendency to increase, and according to UNHCR, many more Syrians, who were not registered, stayed in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt (ibid.).

In addition, since the late twentieth century, Middle Eastern peoples have been among the most mobile peoples emigrating to Europe and North America for both political and economic reasons.

Intraregional migration has also been exceptionally high, so that globally in 1990, the Middle East hosted the second largest foreign- born population, accounting for 10.9 percent of the entire population (Zlotnik 1998: 431).

 This trend has been amplified more recently, as the Middle East has increasingly become a destination of global eco- nomic migration (Richards and Waterbury 2008: 385–406). This has further blended the race, ethnicity, and religion in an already diversified cluster of peoples.

The analyses in this volume address new global tendencies related to the migration phenomenon from a Middle Eastern perspective.

The latest decades have witnessed a growing connectivity between processes of globalization, social transformation, and migration, which has considerable consequences for the global migration trends and patterns, yet to a different extent in different regions of the world.

The idea is—in a number of case studies—to analyze migration in the Middle East from a security perspective with citizenship as a central notion.

The chapters cover a broad range of migration-related issues and discussions including differentiation of citizenship rights, human rights issues related to female migrants, narratives among migrants in diaspora, multinationalism in a Maghrebian context, migrant workers and governance, human smuggling and transnational social formations, securitization of migration, transnational migration networks, and control of migration flows.

The chapters focus on migration movements in the MENA region and how these movements affect the security relations in the Middle East.

The region contains a differentiated range of migration “types” and the interconnectedness between migration and security leads, as demonstrated in the chapters, to a shift of focus from external security and North-South issues toward a focus on transnational developments, such as irregular and illegal migration, cross-border crime, transnational terrorism, and internal challenges in the involved states. Taking these issues as point of departure, the different analyses seek to present new perspectives on migration, security, and citizenship in the Middle East, which reflect both the main tendencies concerning migration in the Middle East in recent years and the theoretical discussions related to the research on migration in the region.

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