New at Brill in Open Access: Encyclopædia Iranica Online


Encyclopaedia Iranica is the most renowned reference work in the field of Iran studies. Founded by the late Professor Ehsan Yarshater and edited at the Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, this monumental international project brings together the scholarship about Iran of thousands of authors around the world.




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Encyclopædia Iranica Online Now Freely Accessible at Brill

The Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, New York, and Brill are delighted to announce that the Encyclopædia Iranica Online is now freely accessible at Brill’s Reference Works Platform. Encyclopædia Iranica is the comprehensive academic reference work dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

Ancient Iran Series Added to Brill’s Publishing Portfolio

As part of their growing portfolio in Middle East and Islamic Studies, Brill has signed an agreement for the take-over of the book series Ancient Iran Series. With its coverage of ancient, pre-, and early-Islamic Iran, this book series complements other book series with a more modern focus on this geographical area, as well as the various other journals and encyclopaedias Brill publishes in this field.

Read an interview with Geert Jan van Gelder

The longstanding series Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 1: The Near and Middle East recently reached its 150th volume by publishing the special Prominent Murder Victims of the Pre- and Early Islamic Periods Including the Names of Murdered Poets. We caught up with Geert Jan van Gelder, editor and translator of the volume.


Acquisitions Editors


Maurits van den Boogert

Nicolette van der Hoek

Abdurraouf Oueslati

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Jehona Kicaj

Middle East and Islamic Studies


In 2004, Cameroon maintained a remarkable degree of political stability, in spite of its stark ethnic and regional cleavages. One of the most significant events was the re-election of the incumbent Paul Biya as president. This will most probably result in the continuation of the national and international policies pursued since his assumption of office in 1982. A major setback for Cameroon's socioeconomic development was the government's failure to successfully implement the three-year poverty-reduction and growth programme prescribed by the Bretton Woods institutions and Western donors.


From the institutional point of view, Cameroon made significant progress with the creation of the Senate, an event that had been awaited since 1996 and a key factor in arranging the succession to President Biya, in power since 1982. The country also faced serious security problems: for the first time, the north witnessed abductions of French citizens, officially attributed to elements of the Nigerian-based Boko Haram movement, while armed groups of Central Africans carried out several murderous raids in the east. The crisis in the CAR also precipitated the arrival and temporary stationing of the French Army on Cameroonian territory, which gave rise to tensions.


The serious security crisis in the north of the country, characterised by repeated attacks and officially attributed to the Nigerian-based Boko Haram movement, was the main concern throughout the year, mobilising the army and raising controversies domestically and internationally. Linked to this issue, the relationship between the regime of President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, and France, the former colonial power, continued to deteriorate, though not in public.


On the political front, a minor cabinet reshuffle took place at the end of the year. Security remained a major problem in the Far North region with armed attacks and suicide bombings attributed to the Nigerian-based Boko Haram movement, which had killed hundreds of people. The East region was also affected by insecurity, with regular incursions by armed gangs, probably coming from the car. Cameroonian security forces were accused of human rights violations in the Far North. On the economic front, the country was able to adjust well to the fall in crude oil prices, but corruption scandals continued. Analysts were becoming increasingly concerned about the rapid increase in the country’s debt.


The next presidential election, scheduled for 2018, was one of the main preoccupations of the majority of political players, who sought to discern the intentions of 83-year-old President Paul Biya, who had been in power since 1982. The atmosphere appeared increasingly tense within the presidential party, with some of its cadres advocating a change and others supporting the status quo incarnated by Biya. The latter faced two serious crises: a railway disaster involving the French corporate group Bolloré, and large-scale protest movement in the country’s two English-speaking regions, which was still ongoing at the end of the year. The armed group Boko Haram continued to pose a substantial threat to security in the north, with implications for the agricultural sector and livestock farming. As a result of the drop in oil prices and the increase in military expenditure, the country’s economic situation remained fragile, thus compelling the authorities to turn to the imf, under pressure from France.


The crisis between the government and the country’s two English-speaking regions that had begun in late 2016 worsened over the months and turned into an armed conflict involving guerilla attacks on the security forces. These acts of violence became President Paul Biya’s main problem as he appeared to be preparing to run for the presidential election of 2018. In the northern part of the country, the militant group Boko Haram continued its sporadic attacks against the civilian population. On the economic front, oil production declined. Though less affected by the fall in commodity prices than the other countries in the region thanks to the diversification of its economy, Cameroon was forced to conclude a loan agreement with the imf.


Held in October, the presidential election was, unsurprisingly, won by the incumbent president Paul Biya, in power since 1982, though the outcome of the election did give rise to tensions. Very few voters from the country’s two English-speaking regions, the Southwest and the Northwest, were able to vote due to the intensification of the war between the security forces and armed groups, the number of which rose steadily throughout the year. This unprecedented war led to a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the area and had significant negative repercussions for the country’s economy, albeit without undermining the government.


Re-elected for another seven years in late 2018, President Paul Biya began his sixth term of office in the midst of turbulence that included the imprisonment and release of his political opponent Maurice Kamto, the continuation of the war in the country’s two Anglophone regions, which displaced hundreds of thousands and caused substantial material damage, and the mounting political pressure exerted on Biya’s government by his Western partners. The authorities also had to deal with a long and fierce legal battle between the Autonomous Port of Douala, a public enterprise, and the French corporate group Bolloré.


Cameroon was still engaged in a war against separatist groups in its two Anglophone regions, where each belligerent party committed massacres, thereby putting the authorities in a difficult position vis-à-vis their international partners. In spite of the deteriorating security situation, regional and local elections were held by the government, all of which were carried by the presidential party. Hundreds of people were arrested at demonstrations organised by the opposition in the context of these elections. Though the Covid-19 pandemic only moderately impacted the country’s health situation, the damage inflicted on the economy was much more serious.


The situation in Cameroon presented stark contrasts, with the country organising a pan-African sports competition while at the same time continuing to wage a war in two of its ten regions, where its army sustained its heaviest casualties since the beginning of the conflict in 2017. While parts of the population suffered from the economic consequences of the security situation and of the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the country experienced renewed growth in spite of the fact that the level of corruption remained high.