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Center for Contemporary Arab Studies

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) at Georgetown University directs the nation’s only Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program. Our rigorous Arabic language training and multidisciplinary approach draw on the expertise of an academically diverse faculty. CCAS also hosts a rich calendar of public events, a Department of Education Title VI-supported outreach program for K-14 educators, and a growing multimedia and publications program.

CCAS News:

Noureddine Jebnoun

Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun Presents a Paper on Radicalization in North Africa

Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun, adjunct professor in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, recently participated in the South African Institute of International Affairs' (SAIIA) conference, “Seeds of Contempt: Rethinking Radicalization and Responses.” The event was held in Johannesburg March 6 through 8, 2008, and Dr. Jebnoun presented a paper on radicalism in North Africa. The conference correlated to SAIIA’s latest project, which aims to conduct case studies on radicalization across seven regions: Southern Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North Africa. Rather than simply provide a catalogue of incidents, the case studies develop conceptual models for examining radicalization in each area. “Seeds of Contempt” brought together roughly 40 senior international policymakers, intelligence agents, and academic specialists to debate the findings of these case studies as well as a number of shorter thematic papers. Critically, senior representatives of key Islamic constituencies who have consistently been denied a place in discussions of radicalization took part. Johannesburg’s Old Fort Prison, commonly known as “Number Four”—now the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa—served as the conference’s site. Political activists opposed to apartheid, such as Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Khehla Shubane, and other prominent figures of the African National Congress were held there. Mahatma Gandhi was also jailed in the prison in 1908 for resisting an ordinance dictating the segregation of Asians in ...
What is Behind the December 11th Bomb Attacks in Algiers?

What is Behind the December 11th Bomb Attacks in Algiers?

By: Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun 2007 has been one of Algeria’s most violent years since the “red decade” of the 1990s. The December 11th attacks in Algiers were the latest in a long line of bombings that have increased in intensity since February, when seven bombs exploded simultaneously, killing at least six people in the southeast area of Algiers. Up until now, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) modus operandi has shifted from targeting Algerian security and military installations to attacking governmental facilities and foreign interests with simultaneous suicide attacks. Furthermore, the 11th day of the month has become the most deadly day in AQIM’s calendar. Among the ten major attacks launched during the last ten months, three occurred on April 11, July 11 and December 11 respectively. By targeting Algeria’s Constitutional Council and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) building, as well as the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Algerian capital, AQIM is brutally pursuing at least three objectives. First, the AQIM is registering its disapproval of Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem’s attempts to push a constitutional amendment that would enable President Bouteflika to serve for a third term. Secondly, by calling the Algerian UN headquarters a “Green Zone,” and labeling its staff members a “den of international infidels,” AQIM is symbolically reliving the August 2003 attack on the ...
Roundtable Assesses Annapolis Meeting

Roundtable Assesses Annapolis Meeting

On December 6, The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies hosted a timely roundtable event to analyze and assess the Annapolis meetings sponsored by the United States. Speakers included H.E. Dr. Imad Moustapha, Syrian Ambassador to the US; Ambassador Phillip Wilcox, Jr., President, Foundation for Middle East Peace; Ambassador Clovis Maksoud, Director, Center for the Global South, American University; and Mr. Nathan Guttman, Washington Bureau Chief for The Jewish Daily Forward. CCAS Director Dr. Michael Hudson provided introductory comments that framed the ensuing discussion. ...
CCAS Occasional Paper- Islamist Political Power in the Margreb

CCAS Occasional Paper- Islamist Political Power in the Margreb

A forthcoming CCAS Occasional Paper by Dr. Noureddine Jebnoun, to be published in December 2007, investigates the nature and extent of Islamist political strategies and actions in North Africa. Emerging forecasts about Islamist political extremism in North Africa have enhanced regional governments’ geostrategic positioning in the “Global War on Terror” (GWOT) by strengthening their diplomatic and military ties to the United States. Speculations and warnings about the “Afghanistan-ization” of North Africa have not, however, contributed to the development of a viable interpretive framework for assessing the contexts and interests underpinning radicalization. In reality, the threat level in the Maghreb in general, and in Algeria in particular, can only be understood by taking the internal political situation into consideration from an emic perspective. Only a fine-grained, qualitative framework, one that attends to the processes of radicalization from an insider’s perspective, can reveal how and why individuals are vulnerable to recruitment into the ranks of extremist Islamists, the so-called “Salafi jihadi” network. A completely reformed American security plan for the Maghreb region is imperative for ensuring U.S. interagency coordination by incorporating “soft power” that strengthens regional economic progress, promotes good governance, and facilitates political transition. U.S. policymakers should understand that the war against terror cannot be won by security and armed forces alone. A “kill or capture” approach does not acknowledge the dynamics of sociocultural and political ...
Challenges, Changes, and Explorations: Summary of a Workshop on New Media in the Arab World

Challenges, Changes, and Explorations: Summary of a Workshop on New Media in the Arab World

As part of the Arab Media Series, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) hosted the Arab Media Development Symposium on October 31, 2007. The eleven-member panel of media professionals, industry leaders, and seasoned journalists addressed the past, present, and future of Arab media development through an introspective lens. Following introductory remarks from CCAS Director Dr. Michael Hudson, the first panel delved into a critical assessment of the challenges Arab journalists face. The panel’s three speakers–Patrick Butler, vice president of programs at the International Center for Journalists; George Hishmeh, president of the Washington Association of Arab Journalists; and Rafiah El Talaei, an Omani journalist and former Edward R. Murrow Fellow–stressed the importance of resolving problems in order to raise the standards Arab journalists follow. Focusing on Arab journalists reporting in the United States, George Hishmeh saw Arab journalists in Washington, DC as a microcosm of Arab journalists based across the country. Hishmeh suggested that Arab journalists attend orientations on how to handle the substantial time differences, low salaries, and limited access to key government officials. Among the conditions most burdensome to Arab journalists, Hishmeh and Butler indicated that access to key officials reflects larger issues in media coverage throughout the Arab world. “If Condoleeza Rice talked to an Arab journalist, it would be all over the front pages in the Arab world. Arab media will ...