The aim of the research committee is to provide a platform for empirical research on questions related to politics in the Middle East and North – Africa both in regional and global context. The unit of analysis varies in each case, depending on the specific research topic and can embrace individuals, countries or international organizations. The focus of the committee is very broad and include 1) security issues (terrorism, radicalisation, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional wars (intrastate and interstate), military interventions), 2) geopolitics (natural resources and their implications on regional political dynamics, strategic geographic locations and their influence on foreign policies of the MENA states), 3) political economy (interregional trade, economic growth/decline, development initiatives), 4) political islam (questions of reform, branches of the religion and their synthesis with contemporary political movements across MENA).
The committee seeks to bring together students, researchers and practitioners with a particular interest in the MENA region to realise joint research projects, participate in international conferences and facilitate the exchange of ideas. Members come from diverse backgrounds and multiple countries, forming the multicultural cooperative environment, which is the basis of its work.
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Toms Rātfelders holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations – European Studies from Riga Stradiņš University (Latvia) with thesis titled “Regional role of Iran in the Middle East after the beginning of the “Islamic State” crisis in April 2013”. He is currently an intern in the Latvian Institute of International Affairs and has also done internship in the Ministry of Defence of Latvia. His research interests include security issues (interstate and intrastate wars, terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, military interventions) and geopolitics in the MENA region. Toms has published several articles in different platforms both in Latvia and abroad and will continue his studies at the University of St. Andrews in autumn. Additionally to his native proficiency in Latvian, he is fluent in English and is improving his French and German. He is also looking forward to learn Arabic.
Alice Martini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages from the University of Barcelona and a Master’s degree in International Relations and African Studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid. She has worked at the Human Rights Office of the Foreign Affairs Ministery of Spain and now she is pursuing her PhD at Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies jointly with the Autonomous University of Madrid. She is currently focusing on International Relations theories, above all critical and post-colonial theories and specializing in “International Terrorism” from different theoretical points of view. Her area of research is the MENA region.
Thyra-Valeska graduated with a BA in International Culture and Business Studies from the University of Passau, Germany and a Bachelor Thesis with the topic of “The Cultures of Secrecy: A Cultural Comparison of US and UK Approaches on Governmental Secrecy and its Revelation Exemplified on the Snowden Case”. During her undergraduate studies she spend a semester abroad at the Charles University in Prague during which her interest in security studies materialised. After graduating she started a MA at the University of Sheffield in Global Security where she was able to deepen her expertise on international security issues and analysis, concluding the programme with a Master Thesis on the topic of “How the Arab Spring created an Environment of Disillusionment, and eased the Way for Islamists to gain Momentum”. Currently she is enrolled at the University of Edinburgh finishing the MSc Programme in Global Crime, Justice, and Security to further her knowledge in the field of security by including a legal perspective on the issues.
Rafaa Chehoudi is MA student majoring in International Relations at the Institute Social Sciences, Tunis. He started his undergraduate studies at University of Sousse where he had the opportunity to focus on American and British history and civilization. Having succeeded at Tunisian National Competitive exam for Entry to Ecole Normale Superieure, the most prestigious and eminent university Tunisia, he had the opportunity to teach in different Tunisian schools in the form of pedagogical training. Currently, he has had several research activities undertaken, ranging from his MA thesis to other several articles targeting Tunisian democratic transition. Rafaa has different research interests, such as terrorism, strategic studies and democratic transitions. Having succeeded his MA with first class honours, he looks forward to start a PhD in International Relations.
Mihai holds a BA in International Relations and European Studies and has recently graduated from the MA in Security Studies and European Integration at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania.
His eagerness to gain more knowledge and experience in international affairs enabled him to study in Portugal and Israel as well as participate in a broad range of workshops, conferences and simulations across the globe. His academic interests include international politics, regional security focused on Middle East, diplomacy and conflict resolution. Being very keen in researching in the field, he has published several articles and he would like to pursue a PhD program. In addition to his native Romanian, he is fluent in English, has a good knowledge of French and Portuguese and he is improving his Norwegian and Hebrew skills. He has been involved in internships in several NGOs, the Romanian Government and is always keen for new challenges.
Friederike Hoff graduated in Psychology at the University of Dresden, Germany with a bachelor thesis focusing on the roots of discrimination. She then spent three months in Beirut, Lebanon, conducting social work for both elder people and children. Following that period, she moved on to Palestine, where she completed an internship and later worked as a Program Manager for the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation – which is committed to the ideas and basic values of social democracy. Friederike is now doing a joint master’s program in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Kent, UK and the University of Marburg, Germany. Her research interests lie in the roots of (interstate) conflicts, conflict resolution, as well as relations between the ‘West’ and the MENA-Region.
Sabah Khadri holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Economics from Georgetown University – School of foreign service, with her thesis titled “Educational Attainment of children of illegally migrated parents in the USA”. She is currently a Bioethics Researcher working on a Human rights research project in Qatar. With previous experience of working and studying in the Qatar, she has in-depth understanding of economic and politics trends in the GCC and MENA region. Her interests entail geopolitics and economic affairs, gender issues and human rights issues.
Dylan is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at Northeastern University where his research focuses on the nexus between domestic security concerns and military recruitment policy in Arab states. He is especially interested in regime decisions regarding military service and their impact on nationalism within society. Dylan holds an M.A. in International Affairs from Boston University, where his thesis examined tribalism and governance in Turkey and Iraq.
Dylan worked at the International Republican Institute on political party development and municipal governance programming in Jordan and Morocco. In this role, he helped design and implement trainings for senior political party officials, municipal mayors, and citizen activists to enhance their community outreach and capacity to address local challenges. He also authored reports on post-2011 constitutional reforms in Jordan and collated monitoring & evaluation data for quarterly program evaluations. Previously, Dylan worked at the Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council and the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University where he supported senior researchers and authored short publications.
Melanie is currently obtaining a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Oslo. She is writing her Master Thesis within a project at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on violence against aid workers. Besides her interests in conflict dynamics, insurgent strategies, terrorism and the role of religion in conflicts she is also passionate about causal inference in quantitative methods. During internships for small NGO’s in Ethiopia and Ghana as well as the UN headquarters in New York she gained experience in fieldwork and international diplomacy.
Florian Zabel has completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Hamburg und the University College London. He is currently pursuing his graduate studies at Humboldt University of Berlin und the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po Paris. His specific academic interests include political sociology and political economy (microfinance, active labor market policy, private sector development) as well as security sector reform and counter-terrorism policy; especially within the context of the MENA-Region.