It Takes a Historian to Understand the Middle East, Doesn’t It?



It’s Not a Sunni-Shiite Conflict, Dummy

January 30, 2015

Atiaf Zaid Alwazir outlines ten reasons why the conflict in Yemen is not sectarian. Last week in Yemen, my young cousin in the second grade ran inside after an explosion shook the windows. “I don’t mind when the house shakes, I just don’t want to die in it,” he said out of breath. “You...

Death Sentence Could Inflame Tension Across the Middle East

January 23, 2015

The fate of a Shiite cleric hangs over the Gulf like a sword of Damocles. Last October, Saudi Arabia’s Special Criminal Court sentenced Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a popular Shiite cleric and outspoken political dissident, to death. This was not an ordinary criminal trial, even considering...

Understanding War in Afghanistan: Politics, Culture and Social History

October 14, 2014

The war in Afghanistan should be studied in relation to political culture, political economy and broader national and regional history. After the formation of the modern nation-state between 1880-1929, Afghanistan has witnessed at least seven major conflicts. Starting from the war of state...

The Fallout From Syria: Hate Speech in Indonesia

March 25, 2014

Jihadi groups propagate an anti-Shia narrative to mobilize Indonesian militants to fight in Syria. A hate speech regulation is desperately needed in Indonesia to contain the damaging effects of jihadi propaganda, as this narrative is increasingly used to mobilize Indonesian Muslims against the...

Ashoura… or the Story of the Sunni-Shiite Schism

November 18, 2013

What lies at the heart of the Sunni-Shiite divide? Author's Note Last Thursday marked the holy day of Ashoura (“the tenth,” in Arabic). For the past 1,333 years, devout Shiite Muslims (as well as Alawites) all over the world join in deep grief on the tenth day of the Islamic month...