Middle East Politics Research Group

The Middle East Politics Research Group brings together academics from across the university who have research interests in the politics of the broader Middle East – encompassing Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Iran, and the Arab states – from a broad range of disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology, comparative politics and international relations, diplomacy and comparative studies.

About us

The Research Group's activities will be centred primarily around the current state of affairs in the region, with an emphasis in historical contextualisation and analytical clarity through an interdisciplinary perspective. In particular, its envisaged activities include regular seminars, workshops, and roundtables held throughout the academic year, as well as an annual speaker series.

The Research Group's primary goal is to strengthen collaborative research efforts between members of POLSIS, as well as across the University of Birmingham. At the same time, the Research Group intends to provide a meeting point for doctoral researchers focusing on Middle East politics, but also postgraduate and advanced undergraduate students that share these interests. Ultimately, it aims to stimulate strong research outputs of affiliated faculty members.

For further information about the Middle East Politics group please contact:
Dr Asaf Siniver, Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6386, Email: a.siniver@bham.ac.uk


Migration Diplomacy in the Eastern Mediterranean - Inter-State Politics of Population Mobility in the Middle East (April 2017 - March 2018)

This yearlong project investigates how migratory flows across national borders have affected states' diplomatic interaction. It focuses on the politics of Jordan's management of cross-border population mobility in its international relations on three levels: as a sending state (regarding emigrants in the Arab oil-producing states); as a transit state (regulating Egyptian migrants' transit to the Gulf); and as a host state (regarding its Palestinian population). For more information, contact: Dr Gerasimos Tsourapas.

The Politics of Forced Migration in the Mediterranean: Interstate Bargaining and Issue-Linkage in Greece and Jordan (April 2017 - Sept 2018)

This 18-month long project aims to understand how post-2011 forced displacement has affected the behavior of two key states in the region towards international actors. Greece and Jordan, both heavily affected by an influx of refugee populations, have employed these population flows in diplomatic relations. I hypothesise that forced migration has independently influenced and shaped the two states' diplomatic behaviours, enabling novel interstate bargaining strategies and issue-linkage strategies with international actors. The comparative case-study will focus on the two states' post-2011 negotiations with the European Union. It will allow for an in-depth analysis of how, and under which conditions, forced migration affects the international relations of host states, while also informing policy on states’ strategies in managing refugee inflows. 


Some of the recent activities of the Middle East Politics Research Group included high profile talks by MP Andrew Mitchell (on the Syrian Crisis); former Secretary of State for International Development  Claire Short (on the legacy of the Iraq War), Norwegian Diplomat Aud Lise Norheim on her ambassadorial experience in the Middle East; a panel on approaches to the refugees crisis in the Middle East with GT, Ruvi Zigler (Reading) and Filippo Dionigi (Bristol) ; a book launch by Michelle Pace on Syrian refugee children in the region; and several reading groups attended by staff and doctoral students.

Wednesday 25 October 2017: Understanding the Politics of the Syrian Refugee Crisis 

Time: 16:00
Room 121, Muirhead Tower
Dr Reuven Ziegler (Reading), Dr Gerasimos Tsourapas (POLSIS), Dr Filippa Dionigi (Bristol)

The seminar, which attracted a range of staff and students from across the University of Birmingham, included three presentations – firstly, Dr. Reuven Ziegler (University of Reading), spoke on “The Refugee ‘Crisis’ in Europe: Between Luxembourg, Lesbos, Brussels, Dublin, and Aleppo”. Dr. Gerasimos Tsourapas (POLSIS) followed with a discussion on “Refugee Rentier States in the Middle East”. Finally, Dr. Filippo Dionigi (Bristol) gave a presentation on “Borders and the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Neighbouring Countries: Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq”.

The seminar was part of a broader set of activities of the Middle East Politics Research Group, which is based in POLSIS, University of Birmingham. 

Monday 21 November 2016: Chilcot and Iraq

Time: 17:00
Location: Main Arts Lecture Theatre
Speaker: Clare Short

Ms Short was an MP, representing Birmingham Ladywood, from 1983 to 2010. From 1997 to 2003, she was Secretary of State for International Development, resigning in May 2003 over the Blair Government's conduct during and after the 2003 Iraq War. In 2010, she addressed the Chilcot Inquiry into Iraq, criticizing Prime Minister Blair and others in the Government for deception to obtain consent for Britain's involvement in the war. Ms Short continues to campaign for fairness, justice, accountability, sustainable development and just trade relations. She is a trustee of Trade Out of Poverty, the Welfare Association, and Africa Humanitarian Action and a patron of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. She is currently Chair of Cities Alliance, an intergovernmental advocacy organisation committed to meeting the UN target to abolish slums in cities across the globe.

Thursday 01 December 2016: The Syrian Crisis

Time: 17:30
Location: G15, Muirhead Tower
Speaker: Andrew Mitchell MP

Mr Mitchell has been MP for Sutton Coldfield since 2001 and for Gedling from 1987 to 1997. He has served as Shadow Minister for Economic Affairs, Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, and Shadow of State for International Development. From 2010 to 2012, he was Secretary of State for International Development. Mr Mitchell is a leading voice in Parliament on the Syrian crisis, serving as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Syria. In October 2016, he called in an emergency debate for protected zones inside the country.

Monday 09 January 2017: Diplomacy in the Middle East: The Norwegian Experience

Speaker: Ambassador Aud-Lise Norheim, Norway’s Ambassador to Tehran

Ambassador Norheim has been has served at the Norwegian embassy in Tehran since 2014. Her previous ambassadorial posts include Damascus, Beirut, Dhaka, Rome and South Africa.

- Roundtable / expert panel on Egypt - this builds on Dr. Tsourapas’ collaborative project with colleagues at KCL and Exeter on Anwar Sadat.

- Roundtable /expert panel on Syria/migration crisis

- Annual MEP lecture on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration Balfour &  fifty-year anniversary of the June 1967 war


Academic members:

PhD doctoral researchers:

  • Ahmad Barkat
  • Christopher Featherstone
  • Dan Hart

More PhD doctoral researcher profiles across the School of Government and Society.

For further information about the Middle East Politics group please contact:
Dr Asaf Siniver, Tel: +44 (0)121 414 6386, Email: a.siniver@bham.ac.uk

Asia research group is part of the Department of Political Science and International Studies.