Middle East


Post-Islamism in the Arab Gulf states. A shift from Salafism to Islamic humanism

Summary A powerful current of Muslim revivalism has gone largely unnoticed by Westerners, mostly focused on Islamism, Salafism, and Jihadism. Although deeply rooted as far as the Muslim Nahda (Renaissance) of the 19th Century, it surfaced after their failure and the fall of the Islamic State in 2019. This development incidentally coincided with the coming […]

The Hellish Cycle Continues for Syria: The Economic Impacts of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Introduction Regarding its worldwide consequences, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022 is probably the most significant historical event since the US- and British-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. In addition to its catastrophic humanitarian impact in eastern Europe, the war in Ukraine is already having a wide impact on the global […]

Addressing Sebha’s Water and Sanitation Crisis

Introduction The conflict that Libya endured between 2014 and 2018 weakened both the administrative and security authorities’ control over utilities and infrastructure. The resulting insecurity greatly affected many sectors and has had repercussions in Sebha, the most populous city in southwestern Libya. Among the sectors affected is the water and sanitation sector. In addition to […]

The PYD-PKK Relationship Under Scrutiny

Introduction The leadership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has recently amplified its critique of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), and in particular of the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazloum Abdi. The old guard in the PKK are also increasingly demonstrating a clear inclination towards co-existence with the […]

Understanding Syria’s Enduring Crisis

As part of its efforts to provide a nuanced understanding of the conflict’s dynamics and trends, the ‘Wartime and Post-Conflict in Syria’ (WPCS) team of the Middle East Directions Programme has collectively reflected on the mass of research on Syria produced in the past decade. For the purposes of this blog, we defined ‘research’ in […]

Universities as vehicles of regional de-escalation: Unpacking the Potential of Cultural Diplomacy

The role played by Universities in forging networks of non-state intercultural partnerships can be a significant long term de-escalation mechanism in the Persian Gulf region. First, it facilitates the establishment of social contact points and fosters relations between communities experiencing a hostile intergovernmental environment. Second, University networks offer a viable platform for dialog – an […]