On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. The quartet also imposed a land, maritime, and airspace blockade on Qatar, and restrictions on travels of their nationals to Qatar and Qatari nationals to their countries. The Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, Jordan, the Tobruk-based Libyan government, and the Hadi-led Yemeni government soon joined the quartet, and severed their ties with Qatar as well. The aforementioned countries claimed that the severing of ties is a reaction to Qatar’s unceasing destabilizing endeavors in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region, and failure to abide by international commitments and agreements. Such allegations were contested by Qatar claiming that they are “absolute fabrications.” To better understand the causes and consequences of the dynamics at work, the Center for International and Regional Studies launched a multi-year research initiative that examines the social, political, and economic consequences of the ongoing GCC crisis.
In late 2018, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University’s Qatar campus launched a multi-year research initiative to study Russia’s increasingly proactive and consequential strategic involvement in the Middle East region. While diplomatic, economic, and military relations between Russia and the Middle East have considerable historical roots, Russia’s current, deepening strategic engagement with the region, particularly since the eruption of the Syrian civil war in 2011, appear to signify more fundamental shifts in global and regional realignments. In exploring these shifts and realignments, this research initiative aims to study a variety of related topics, among which: the drivers behind the mutual interest of partnership between Russia and the Middle East; Russian-Middle Eastern economic cooperation; the prospects of a Russian “sovereign democracy” in the Middle East; Islamic extremism and Russian foreign policy towards the Middle East; contemporary migration patterns between Russia and the Middle East; Russia’s “responsibility” to protect; and Russia’s relations with Iran, Syria, Israel, the Maghreb, Yemen, and Turkey. A small number of scholars will be invited to take part in in-depth, critical analysis of the nature of the Russian-Middle Eastern relations post the 2011 Arab-uprisings.
The CIRS research initiative on “The Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East” adopts a multidisciplinary approach, examining a broad range of political, economic, social, and geographic dynamics in the region. It aims to explore a variety of topics, including prospects of globalization in the post-2011 Middle East; neoliberal policies in the post-uprisings period; military-private sector relations; state-business relations; development policies; the shifting boundaries of economic integration; state bureaucracy; mechanisms and instruments of informal economies; and the dilemma of foreign direct investments. The CIRS initiative addresses these increasingly important, but largely understudied, topics in Middle Eastern studies, and invites a number of experts to take part in in-depth, critical analysis of these pertinent issues
In 2018 CIRS launched a new research initiative on Science and Scientific Production in the Middle East. Through this research initiative, CIRS aims to, among other things, examine: Islamic ethics and the legitimacy of scientific innovation; science and social inequality in the Middle East; the military-industrial complex and technological advancement; economic policies, consumerism, and scientific innovation in the Middle East; the social impact of scientific research in the Middle East; the role of women and science in the Arab World; and sanctions and scientific production in the region.
In the Middle East, sports have, for decades, been of pivotal importance to players (both professional and amateur), to impassioned fans and supporters, to industry and business stakeholders, to journalists and the media, to physicians and health professionals, to educators and policymakers, and to societies at large. In various shapes and forms, sports have served as vehicles and venues for political expression and engagement, economic development, national identity creation and assertion, as well as regional and international relations. And yet despite this flowing field of potential sites of research inquiry, there has been a limited amount of scholarly interest in the role that sports have played in the contemporary socio-economic, cultural, and political milieus of the region.
This research initiative explores middle powers in the Middle East by studying the varying levels of material power, behavioral aspects, and ideational characteristics of six regional middle powers, namely Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Algeria, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, as well as other aspiring middle powers, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. It focuses specifically on the conception of middle powers in the context of the Middle East, the causes and consequences of the rise and decline of middle powers in the region, the nexus between domestic politics and foreign policy of middle powers, their self-perceptions as global middle powers and regional superpowers, and shifting alliances and tensions with great powers and with each other. Addressing these and other similar topics will help fill gaps in the burgeoning literature on the international relations of the Middle East, and particularly on middle power politics. This research project addresses an increasingly important but largely understudied topic in Middle Eastern studies.
This research initiative is designed to examine some of the central questions facing scholars of Middle Eastern politics concerning the nature of the post-2011 state in the Arab world. These questions revolve around the very conception of the state, its functions and institutions, its sources of legitimacy, and basic notions underlying it such as sovereignty and nationalism.
With the disintegration of the region’s traditionally strong states of Iraq and Syria, the constriction of Iran, and the loss of Egypt’s capacity to assert any real influence or project power, there appears to be little capacity within the Middle East and North Africa to address regional conflagrations. China’s engagements and intentions in the Middle East have increasingly become the focus of a range of academic and policy studies. Much of the existing scholarship has viewed Chinese engagements in the Middle East through the lens of security, with particular attention being paid to the implications of China’s interactions for the United States and its allies. However, China’s evolving relationship in the region ought to be principally viewed as an outcome of its own interests in securing its energy needs and developing export markets, as well as the fact that it has become a significant global power and cannot afford to divorce itself from events in the Arab world. In the 2014-2015 academic year CIRS has launched a new research initiative on “China and the Middle East.” The purpose of this project is to examine the unfolding relationship between China and the Middle East using a multi-disciplinary lens. The intention of this project is to provide an analytical study of the relationship between China and the countries of the Middle East, not only through the lenses of international security, energy, economics and investments, but also taking into account China’s broader engagements with the region in the social and cultural spheres as well.
Contemporary West Asia is typically portrayed as a region of fragility, plagued by lingering interstate conflict, ridden with the fallout from unresolved territorial disputes, and unsettled by the persistence of ethnic and religious identities which do not easily align with the creation of strong nation-states. In addition, persistent and debilitating authoritarian rule, the lack of political participation, and slow economic growth all cast their shadows on these states. Currently, the region has re-emerged as an area of geostrategic significance because of complex circumstances evolving in the Caucasus which have global implications. In addition, the region draws extensive external attention due to its access to energy resources, and particularly to its crucial role in existing and planned pipelines that provide gas to Europe and elsewhere. The events of 2011, while primarily involving only a small number of Arab states in the Middle East, have induced a sense that there is a global necessity to move towards more participatory forms of governance and to address outstanding issues of identity politics that undermine domestic, regional, and international stability. In line with this, in the 2014-2015 academic year CIRS has launched a new research initiative to provide further insight into the complex relationships and connections between the states of West Asia in geographic, political and socio-cultural terms.
This CIRS project scrutinizes the ways in which domestic security threats in the region are evolving, and how newer challenges related to human security are being reinforced by—and in some ways actually replacing—military threats emanating from regional and outside actors. Academic interest in Persian Gulf security has continued to focus on traditional notions of zero-sum security threats emanating from Iran or Iraq, or the role of the United States. There has been limited exploration of the deeper, structural issues which threaten the region. In line with this, in the 2014-2015 academic year CIRS launched a new research initiative on “The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf.” The purpose of this project is to scrutinize the ways in which domestic security threats in the region are evolving, and how newer challenges related to human security are being reinforced by—and in some ways actually replacing—military threats emanating from regional and outside actors. This project brings together a number of distinguished scholars to examine a variety of relevant topics.
Co-Sponsored with the Stony Brook Institute for Global Studies.
A new research initiative on world regions and civilizations was jointly launched by CIRS and the Stony Brook Institute for Global Studies (SBIGS). Integration of social theory and regional studies is a major project of SBIGS, and the pioneering volume on this subject, Social Theory and Regional Studies in the Global Age has just been published in the Institute’s Pangaea II: Global/Local Studies with SUNY Press. This volume highlighted the promise of civilizational analysis/multiple modernities, and within it, singled out two concepts for further analysis: that of world regions and regional unity, on the one hand, and the civilizational constituents of power and the geopolitics of regional divides, on the other.
CIRS launched a multi-disciplinary research initiative that explores the economic, political, and social implications of healthcare management in the region. Rapid changes to the environment and lifestyle of the Gulf over the course of mere decades have completely changed the health profile of the region. In order to promote rigorous, academic exploration of this subject, CIRS launched a research project on the topic of “Healthcare Policy and Politics in the Gulf States.” The purpose of the CIRS research initiative is to determine the economic, political, and social implications of healthcare management in the region. Employing a multi-disciplinary perspective this project examines existing conditions of healthcare systems in the GCC, identifies the existing challenges and pressures on the countries and societies, and assesses how through their policymaking apparatus is attempting to meet these challenges.
This research initiative investigates variations in social movement mobilization in the five countries of the Maghreb before, during, and after the Arab Spring. It also examines contemporary social and cultural trends present throughout society. CIRS launched a research initiative on “Social Currents in the Maghreb” in order to investigate variations in social movement mobilization in Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria before, during, and after the Arab Spring. The project also examines contemporary social and cultural trends evident throughout Maghrabi society. The research initiative comprises a series of tightly-focused, empirically-grounded studies that focus on both comparative and single-country case studies that examine social movements and currents in North Africa.
This research initiative examines dynamics of urban configurations in the Gulf region (the GCC, Yemen, Iraq and Iran) to understand the city as a political, cultural and social space. By engaging with urban sociologists, social geographers, political scientists, city planners, and architects, this multi-disciplinary research project links macro-level knowledge of urbanization and modernization projects in the Gulf, with the micro-level understanding of everyday spaces of living and human interaction.
This multi-disciplinary project examines unfolding experiences of transitional justice across the Middle East in the post-uprising era. Transitional justice has received significant scholarly attention in many other parts of the world, focusing on authoritarian regimes moving toward democracy. While there has been limited academic exploration of transitional justice in relation to the Middle East, recent events in the region have reinvigorated interest in the topic. CIRS launched a multi-disciplinary research initiative on “Transitional Justice in the Middle East.” This project examines unfolding experiences of transitional justice across the Middle East in the post-uprising era.
CIRS has undertaken a multi-year research initiative titled “The State and Innovation in the Gulf.” Our goal is to explore questions related to the topic of innovation in the Gulf region through empirically-grounded, theoretically informed research proposals.
The Weak States in the Greater Middle East project offers a critical analysis of current definitions and terminology of weak and fragile states, scrutinizing the political implications of the prevailing discourse within the setting of the broader Middle East. This project examines the causes and consequences of the “fragility” of states from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east to Sudan and Libya in the west.
The Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran research initiative examines some of the most important topics within contemporary Iran, focusing on its social, cultural, economic, and political domains. Through this multi-disciplinary, empirically-based research initiative, our goal is to present a comprehensive study of contemporary Iranian society.
The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East project will scrutinize the ways in which domestic political arrangements in the Middle East are evolving, and how the authoritarian bargains are being challenged. CIRS will probe some of the existing analytical assumptions and develop new understanding of the drivers of change in the Middle East.
This project brings together a renowned group of scholars to examine the issues of religious, communal, and ethnic identities in the Gulf, and how these impose themselves on both the domestic and international politics of the Gulf. The central aim of this study is to examine the dynamic ways in which evolving sectarian identities and politics in the Gulf region intersect. Encompassing Iran and the states of the Arabian Peninsula, the research project includes topics that focus on how sectarian issues play out in the realms of domestic politics within Gulf states, as well as those that address sectarianism’s impact on inter-state relations within the region.
Under The Political Economy of the Gulf project, scholars examined topics such as the role of sovereign wealth funds; the rise and fall of the “Dubai model;” regional patterns of economic development; the political economy of rentierism; food security; knowledge based economies; Islamic banking; efforts at GCC monetary union; and other similar topics. The ultimate product of this research project is a book on The Political Economy of the Persian Gulf, published by Hurst/Columbia University Press.