Nation building

To cite this publication: Mehran Kamrava, guest ed., "Nation-Building in Central Asia," CIRS Special Issue of The Muslim World 110, no. 1 (December 2019).

As separate political entities, the Central Asian republics were created in the early years of the Soviet Union, during the 1924–1925 “national delimitation” efforts of the new USSR. But it was only with the onset of formal independence in 1991 that processes of nation‐building in the former Soviet Union started in earnest, including in Central Asia. One of the key challenges the new national elites faced was which “model” of economic development and political organization to adopt: the Chinese model of gradual political reforms; the Russian approach of shock therapy, emblematic of the 1990s; the Turkish secular model; or, perhaps even the Kuwaiti model of authoritarian developmentalism. Most opted for a default hybrid of authoritarianism that featured some combination of elections mixed with a strong cult of personality. In the process, both deliberately and inadvertently, state elites shaped and influenced the emerging nations over which they ruled.



To cite this publication: Zahra Babar, ed., Mobility and Forced Displacement in the Middle East (Hurst, 2020).

Together, the chapters in this volume emphasise the diversity of the origins, consequences and experiences of human mobility in the Middle East. From multidisciplinary perspectives and through case studies, the contributors offer the reader a deeper understanding of current as well as historical incidences of displacement and forced migration. In addition to offering insights on multiple root causes of displacement, the book also addresses the complex challenges of host–refugee relations, migrants’ integration and marginalisation, humanitarian agencies, and the role and responsibility of states. Cross-cutting themes bind several chapters together: the challenges of categories; the dynamics of control and contestation between migrants and states at borders; and the persistence of identity issues influencing regional patterns of migration. Read more from Hurst.

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To cite this publication: Marcus Dubois King, ed., Water and Conflict in the Middle East (London: Hurst, 2020).

This volume explores the role of water in the Middle East’s current economic, political and environmental transformations, which are set to continue in the near future. In addition to examining water conflict from within the domestic contexts of Iraq, Yemen and Syria—all experiencing high levels of instability today—the contributors shed further light on how conflict over water resources has influenced political relations in the region. They interrogate how competition over water resources may precipitate or affect war in the Middle East, and assess whether or how resource vulnerability impacts fragile states and societies in the region and beyond. Read more from Hurst.

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Leading the faithful

"زعامة المؤمنين: السلطات الدينية في الشرق الأوسط المعاصر"، تقرير مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة العربي الموجز رقم ٢٥ (الدوحة، قطر: مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة، ٢٠١٩).

دفعت الثورات العربية وتداعياتها الباحثين إلى إعادة النظر في الدور الذي لعبته مختلف مؤسسات الدولة ومختلف الفاعلين الاجتماعيين في شتّى أرجاء الشرق الأوسط، وسبرت الدراسات الأخيرة أغوارا جديدةً لمرحلة ما قبل 2011 ، من حيث دور وتأثير وسائل الإعلام، والشباب، والمجتمع المدني، والقوات المسلحة، وغيرها من الجهات المعنيّة. ولكنْ الزعماء الدينيين في المنطقة، والدور الذي اضطلعوا به داخل جماعاتهم أو بالترابط مع القوى الاجتماعية والسياسية الأوسع في شرق أوسط ما بعد الثورات العربية، غاب عن المناقشة. ومن هنا، فإنّ هذه المبادرة البحثية الجديدة، التي أطلقها مركز الدراسات الدولية والإقليمية، تتقصّى ديناميكيات ومواقف وأدوار الزعماء الروحيين من مختلف الجماعات الدينية في الشرق الأوسط، أثناء الانتفاضات العربية وبعدها.

Middle Power

To cite this publication: Adham Saouli, ed., Unfulfilled Aspirations: Middle Power Politics in the Middle East (New York, NY: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2020).

The first of its kind, this volume addresses that major gap by interrogating the conceptual, theoretical and empirical underpinnings of the concept of ‘Middle Power’ at a regional level. Composed of nine chapters, Unfulfilled Aspirations offers the conceptual and theoretical tools to examine ‘Middle Powerhood’ in the Middle East, as well as insightful empirical analyses of both ‘traditional’ Middle Powers in the region (Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria) and new, aspiring ones (Qatar, the UAE). The contributors reveal that the Middle Powers of the Middle East have failed, despite their best efforts, to fulfill their regional aspirations. Read more from Oxford University Press.

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Resource curse

To cite this publication: Mehran Kamrava, ed., The "Resource Curse" in the Persian Gulf (London: Routledge, 2019).

The book explores how across the Arabian Peninsula, oil wealth began accruing to the state at a particular juncture in the state-building process, when traditional, largely informal patterns of shaikhly rule were relatively well established, but the formal institutional apparatuses of the state were not yet fully formed. The chapters show that oil wealth had a direct impact on subsequent developments in these two complementary areas. Contributors discuss how on one hand, the distribution of petrodollars enabled political elites to solidify existing patterns of rule through deepening clientelist practices and by establishing new, dependent clients; and how on the other, rent revenues gave state leaders the opportunity to establish and shape institutions in ways that solidified their political control. Read more from Routledge.

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Policy Brief

To cite this publication: CIRS and WISH, "Improving Single Male Laborers’ Health in Qatar," Policy Brief (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies and World Innovation Summit for Health, 2019).

The aim of this policy brief is to provide some understanding of the health constraints faced by single male laborers (SMLs), the policy efforts underway to enhance their access to healthcare, and further actions that ought to be undertaken to strengthen and improve healthcare for this group of migrant workers in Qatar.


To cite this publication: Stéphane Valter, "Norm and Dissidence: Egyptian Shiʿa between Security Approaches and Geopolitical Stakes," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 23 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2019).

This paper presents a study of Egyptian Shiʿism by providing historical context as well as a focus on actual or current issues. The study includes a historical overview of local Shiʿism (Fatimid period, late nineteenth century, 1940s–1960s, and contemporary period); Shiʿi institutions and personalities; the situation following Egypt’s 2011 revolution; the hectic one-year government of the Muslim Brotherhood (2012–2013); President al-Sisi’s authoritarian takeover; and, finally, an exploration of the current geopolitical stakes, focusing mainly on the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran over religious hegemony.

Environmental politics

"السياسات البيئية في الشرق الأوسط"، تقرير مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة العربي الموجز رقم ٢٤ (الدوحة، قطر: مركـز الدراسـات الدوليـة والإقليميـة، ٢٠١٩).

يتناول هذا المشروع متعدد التخصصات مجموعة واسعة من المتغيرات السياسية واالقتصادية واالجتماعية والجغرافية. ُ ويشكل التاريخ ُ البيئي، الحقل ّ المعرفي الناشئ الذي لم يطب ً ق كما يجب على منطقة الشرق األوسط، وسيلة للتحقيق يمكن من خاللها استكشاف تأثير بيئة المنطقة على شعوبها ودولها واقتصاداتها على األمد الطويل. وتتدارس الموضوعات األخرى المدرجة في البحث عالقات اإلنسان باألرض، ودراسات حالة قطرية متعلقة بالرعوية المعاصرة؛ وتأثير الموارد الطبيعية على ّ آليات تشكيل الدولة، والعالقة بين الموارد الطبيعية على التنوع االقتصادي، وقضايا أخرى عديدة ذات صلة. وتتناول المبادرة البحثية مخاوف أوسع نطاقاً حول استنزاف الموارد الطبيعية في جميع أنحاء الكوكب، وتركز على البيئة والنشاط البيئي في الشرق األوسط، وهو موضوع لم يحظ بدراسة كافية.


To cite this publication: Mehran Kamrava, A Concise History of Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Presenting a new framework for the study of revolutions, this innovative exploration of French, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cuban, Iranian, South African, and more recent Arab revolutions, provides a theoretically grounded and empirically comprehensive demonstration of how revolutions mean more than mere state collapse and rebuilding. Through the examination of multiple historical case studies, and use of extensive historical examples to explore a range of revolutions, Mehran Kamrava reveals the range and depth of human emotion and motivations that are so prevalent and consequential in revolutions, from personal commitment to sacrifice, determination, leadership ability, charisma, opportunism, and avarice.