Federalism in the Middle East
Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University
February 15-16, 2017
This conference is designed to explore the application of notions of federalism, asymmetric federalism, and confederation to contemporary Mideast conflicts. It aims to bring together academic specialists in federalism from different disciplines with experts and practitioners focused on particular regional conflicts. Our initial objective is to examine the relevance of federalism for various states in the middle east and then to apply these findings to policy recommendations or more closely examined academic analysis, or both.
Thursday, February 16
9:00 am – 9:15 am — Welcoming Remarks and Introduction
9:15 am- 10:00 am — Session 1: Visions of Federalism (Discussant: Mila Versteeg & David Lake)
The literatures of federalism offer potentially disruptive ways to think about allocating power between parties in conflict. This initial session will give an overview of the modern federalism literatures and the way they differ from more classical American federalism.
10:00 am-12:15 pm–– Session 2: Federalism and the Middle East: Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt (Discussants: Chibli Malat, and Zaid Al-Ali, Lisa Blaydes)
The potential for federalist solutions to Middle Eastern problems has arisen in a variety of different conflicts in the region. Discussing Middle East conflicts in the language of federalism may reduce pressure on matters of borders or sharing of certain territories or resources. And it may allow for the creative design of institutions crafted to ameliorate circumstances peculiar to specific conflicts. Where in the region have countries entertained federalist approaches, and what specifically has been on the table?
We will start the session with a discussion of federalism in Iraq, and Lebanon (Zaid Al-Ali, Chibli Mallat and Lisa Blaydes). Iraq has embraced federalism in its 2005 constitution. Federalism is currently also being discussed in Lebanon (as well as in Yemen and Libya).
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm — Lunch
1:30 pm- 2.30 pm –– Session 4: The Promise of Federalism for the Middle-East (Discussant: Sujit Choudhry)
This session will focus on the region as a whole. Can we say that the “f-word” (as some have called it) is increasingly accepted in the Middle-East? What are the main challenges? Under what circumstances is it most likely to succeed?
2:30 pm – 4:00 pm — Session 4: Specific Case Study in Israel-Palestine (Discussant: Benjamin Wittes)
The Palestinian-Israeli peace process is deeply stuck. Frustration on all sides has politicians and commentators moving away from the idea of negotiated peace between two states. Many Palestinians have begun advocating a one-state solution. Some Israelis who never admired the Oslo process and who aren’t eager to give up West Bank land have adopted a one-state model as well—albeit a one-state model of a very different nature from that advocated by Palestinians. Does an approach based on federalism offer opportunities?
4:00 – 5:00 pm — Wrap Up and Next Steps