EPIIC 2013-14
The Future of the Middle East and North Africa

EXP 0091F
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3-5:30pm, Tisch 304

Registration: This course is High Demand.  You must attend the first class on September 3 to enroll. There will be an interview process.


The Future of the Middle East and North Africa

Against the backdrop of the 100th anniversary of World War I, this two-semester effort will provide a comprehensive, critical look at an extensive and volatile region, extending from Morocco to Iran, from Algiers to Sana’a. Home to 380 million people and possessing 60 percent of the world’s oil reserves and 45 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves, it is an arena of intense geopolitical rivalry marked by inequality of resources and income, with 23 percent of its population living on less than $2 a day.

It is a region riven by extreme political instability that is also facing increasing demographic growth, intergenerational fissures, urbanization, water scarcity, and environmental stress.   

The wave of changes and transitions in the MENA region pose a broad set of challenges to regional security, as well as to international security and U.S. foreign policy.  What impacts will internal religious, sectarian, and political schisms have on regional politics, and how might they expand outward?

How will the 2011 civil uprisings and their consequences, when socio-economic tensions merged with deep political discontent, evolve? How will the region contend with the ongoing Syrian crisis, Iran’s nuclear threat, and the increasing role of non-state actors, from Hezbollah to the Kurds?

What is Iraq’s future, and how will the US role ultimately be understood?

We will examine the demise of authoritarian despots and their repressive regimes, the challenges to the regions’ state structures, the impact of the regions’ rampant corruption, the realignment of regional alliances, threats to human and civil rights, and the vulnerable status of women.  We will probe the democratic impulses of Tahrir Square, Taksim Square and elsewhere and the efforts to establish civil society and participatory government.  

What is the impact of information and communication technology in both enhancing freedoms and strengthening surveillance and repressive counter-measures? How has cyber warfare affected the region?

What is the nature of civil-military relations in the region? In Israel, Turkey, Egypt?  How fragile is Lebanon? What is the impact of decades of the Israel/Palestine conflict for their societies and are there any reasonable outcomes for this struggle? What might Yemen’s disintegration mean for the resurgence of a regional Al Queda?

What is the socio-economic reality of the Persian Gulf states? How stable is Saudi Arabia? We will also investigate the emergence of positive entrepreneurial prospects in addressing development challenges at a time of diminished foreign direct investment.

Throughout we will probe the resolve and efficacy of current U.S. foreign policy.

The colloquium will engage experts and mentors from diverse sources such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the International Crisis Group, the United States Institute for Peace, The Hague Institute for Global Justice, The Naval Post Graduate School, The National Defense University, Jadaliyya, The Arab Studies Institute, the Palestine Research Center, the Jerusalem Center for International Affairs, Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Northeastern’s Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development; and The Crown Center at Brandeis among others.


EPIIC Weekend Immersion

“MENA Reality Check: Understanding the Uprisings and their Outcomes”
September 27-29, 2013
Outward Bound at Appalachian Mountain Club,
Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire

Resource Scholar: HUGH ROBERTS

Professor Roberts is the Edward Keller Professor of North African and Middle Eastern History and the Director of Middle East Studies at Tufts. Having conducted extensive research in Algeria, he taught politics and political history in the School of Development Studies at the University of East Anglia from 1976 to 1988. In 1997, he returned to academic life as a Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, a post he held till 2002. In 2001, he moved to Cairo where he lived for ten years, conducting additional research on Egyptian political history and the history of Islamism in North Africa and working for the International Crisis Group as Director of its North Africa Project in 2002-2007, and again from January to July 2011.  



EPIIC also provides unusual opportunities for students to conduct research related to its annual theme, both at home and abroad. Students take advantage of connections forged during the colloquium and symposium to pursue their research objectives and to create meaningful long term projects. Last year students traveled to Colombia, India, Kosovo, Nepal, Rwanda and in the US.  More than 1,200 students have traveled to more than 92 countries since 1986.

Students are encouraged to develop their own research topics, such as the relationship between Islamic and Western political thought; the impact of the integration of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox into the military; Egyptian military challenges in the Sinai; Lebanon’s sectarian stability in the wake of the killing of Sheikh Ahmad Abdul-Wahed; ecological and security challenges in the Nile Delta; the challenge of creating the seeds of civil society in Libya; and the emergence of Al Nusra.

There will be possibilities for internships with organizations that range from Syria’s Center for Civil Society and Democracy to the NATO’s Parliamentary Committee for Defense and Security; from the Hague Institute for Global Justice to the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as with Oslo Freedom Forum Human Rights Fellows such as Izzeldin Abuelaish, Justine Hardy, and Nasser Weddaday.


International Students and EPIIC

There is also the opportunity to develop research ideas together with international students from the Institute’s Tufts Initiative for Leadership and International Perspective program. Last year, EPIIC brought more than 45 students from Brazil, China, Israel, Iraq, Russia, Rwanda, Singapore, and South Korea to participate in its symposium.



In addition to periodicals and papers, texts being considered for the two-semester course include: Justice Interrupted:

The Struggle for Constitutional Government in the Middle East by Elizabeth Thomson

• The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions by Marwan Bishara

• Just Wars, Holy Wars & Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges by Sohail Hashmi

• Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East by Isobel Coleman

• The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life by Roger Owen

• The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament by Wael B Hallaq

• Soldiers, Spies, and Statesmen: Egypt’s Road to Revolt by Hazem Kandil

• The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham

• Hezbollah: A History of the “Party of God” by Dominique Avon and Anaïs-Trissa Khatchadourian

• Israel/Palestine by Alan Dowty

• Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector by Sara Roy

• The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace 1981-2011 by Daniel Kurtzer et al


EPIIC 2013-2014 Inspire Fellows

Mowaffak al-Rubaie

Dr. Mowaffak al-Rubaie is an Iraqi statesman and civil rights activist. Following the removal of Saddam Hussienin 2003, al-Rubaie was appointed member of the Iraqi Governing Council. Since then, he has also served as Iraq’s National Security Advisor and as a member of Iraq’s Parliament. As an Inspire Fellow, al-Rubaei will convene a dialogue on "modern Islamism" between significant players in the MENA region and members of the U.S. government.  He will also be a Visiting Diplomat and Professor of the Practice at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Eli Levite

Ariel (Eli) Levite is a Nonresident Senior Associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment. Prior to this role, Levite was the Principal Deputy Director General for Policy at the Israeli Atomic Energy commission. He has also served as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Defense Policy and was head of the Bureau of International Security and Arms Control in the Israeli Ministry of Defense. An expert on nuclear energy and weapons, he has authored numerous books and scholarly articles.

Mouin Rabbani

A Tufts and EPIIC alum, Mouin Rabbani is an independent journalist and Middle East policy analyst based in Amman, Jordan.  His writing, which specializes in the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinian affairs, has been featured in The Nation, Foreign Policy, London Review of Books, and the Journal of Palestine Studies. His analysis has been cited by international news corporations such as the New York Times, The Guardian, Rueters, The Washington Post, and Al-Jazeera.

Curt Rhodes

Dr. Curt Rhodes is the founder and international director of Questscope, an international nonprofit that works with marginalized communities and young people across the Middle East. Rhodes began his career in the Middle East in the early eighties serving as Assistant Dean in the School of Public Health at the American University of Beirut. In recognition of his work with Questcope, he was recently awarded Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Middle East and North Africa by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Denis Sullivan

Dr. Sullivan is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development at Northeastern University. He has served as an Affiliate in Research at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, as consultant to the World Bank and U.S. State Department, and as advisor to the Palestinian Authority in 1998-1999.


The Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposium

February 26-March 2, 2014

The international symposium is an annual public forum designed and enacted by the EPIIC students. It features scores of international practitioners, academics, public intellectuals, activists and journalists in panel discussions and workshops. Information about the 2014 EPIIC Symposium can be found at this event posting and on this page to the left.


Advisers and Panelists include:

JUNAID AHMAD, Director for Sustainable Development in the MENA region, World Bank

SAMI AL-FARAJ (EPIIC ’87), President, Kuwait Centre for Strategic Studies

APRIL LONGLEY ALLEY, Senior Arabian Peninsula Analyst, International Crisis Group

HOSSEIN ASKARI, Professor of International Business and International Affairs, George Washington University

BERNARD AVISHAI, Adjunct Professor of Business, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

MICHAËL AYARI, Senior Tunisia Analyst, International Crisis Group

SUHAD BABAA, Community Outreach and Digital Resources Manager, Just Vision

EILEEN BABBITT, Professor of International Conflict Management Practice, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

NOAH BONSEY, Senior Syria Analyst, International Crisis Group

FOTINI CHRISTIA, Professor of Political Science, MIT

ISSANDR EL-AMRANI, Director, North Africa Project, International Crisis Group

SHAI FELDMAN, Director, Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University

CLAUDIA GAZZINI; Senior Analyst, Libya, International Crisis Group

SHERIF MANSOUR (Fletcher’06), Egyptian Democracy Activist; MENA Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists

YORAM PERI, Director, Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, University of Maryland

DUNCAN PICKARD (Synaptic’10), Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

BARRY POSEN, International Professor of Political Science, MIT

HUGH ROBERTS, Edward Keller Professor of North African and Middle Eastern History, Tufts University

GARY SAMORE, Director of Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

KHALIL SHIKAKI, Director, Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research


Special Opportunities and Projects

Common Purpose

Participate in a leadership seminar in Doha, led by British NGO Common Purpose, together with university students from the MENA region focusing on a major social challenge facing the region:  the generational divide

U.S. Engagement with Islamists

Work with Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a protégé of the Shia theologian Grand Ayatollah Syed Mohammad Baqir Al Sadr, the founder of the Islamic Da’awa party, to conceptualize a workshop on U.S. government interaction with modern Islamists

Civil-Military Challenges in MENA

Collaborate with senior MENA military officers and analysts, the Fletcher School’s International Security Studies Program, the U.S. Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, and ALLIES to investigate civil-military relations and security sector reform in the region

Refugees in Jordan

Partner with Questscope, Tufts’ Gordon Institute, and the Fletcher School’s Institute for Human Security to understand and improve conditions for Syrian and Iraqi youth of the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

Defusing Bahrain

Work with the Project on Justice in Times of Transition to engage in an ongoing effort at conflict resolution in Bahrain

Scholars at Risk

Work with Scholars At Risk to conceive a special lecture series featuring prominent academicians who have fled or been exiled from their countries

Peace v. Justice

Research with The Hague Institute for Global Justice on the difficult “peace versus justice” debate in international criminal law

Death Penalty in Iran

Work with activists Maryam Yazdi and Amir Soltani (EPIIC’86), co-author of Zahra’s Paradise, and the IGL’s Innocence International program on Iran’s death penalty

Social Entrepreneurship in North Africa

Work on social entrepreneurship initiatives stimulating development of the region’s fledgling economies and confronting youth unemployment

Arab-Israeli Cooperation on the Environment

Work with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies training Arab and Jewish youth on intergroup cooperation

Healing through Music

Work with Tufts Professor of Music Rich Jankowsky (EPIIC’92) and Music for Life International Conductor George Mathew to design and enact musical benefit events