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


The fall-out from the alleged mercenary plot uncovered in March dominated the political and diplomatic scene, and even overshadowed the parliamentary elections and a cabinet reshuffle. The ongoing border dispute with Gabon was at the centre of regional foreign policies. Relations with the United States were strained due to a report by the US senate that brought details of grand corruption and of the appropriation of oil wealth by the tiny ruling elite into the open for public scrutiny. Meanwhile, the economy continued to benefit from rising oil production and high international oil prices, but without having much positive impact on the impoverished majority of the population.

The year was characterised by the consolidation of both the ruling clan’s power and its long-term strategic positioning. The sweeping victory of President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo and the Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial (PDGE) in the legislative elections in May, which were accompanied by allegations of foul play by both opposition parties and human rights advocates, led to the entrenchment of the elite establishment for the foreseeable future. The president’s son, Second Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangué (Teodorín), narrowly escaped embezzlement charges in US courts but remained wanted for money-laundering in France. Following Western pressure for transparency in the hydrocarbons sector and continued criticism of the regime’s human rights record, the president and his inner circle of ministers took more steps to end the country’s perceived over-dependence on Western FDI and aid by inviting the further engagement of regional and Chinese business interests. At the same time, consistent forecasts of a decline in oil production and pressure to meet goals outlined by the country’s National Development Plan, Horizon 2020 (NDP), led the government to continue to diversify its revenue base away from oil and towards natural gas and non-hydrocarbon sectors that predated the extractive era.

Following a landslide victory in the legislative elections in 2013, President Obiang and his ruling pdge maintained the regime’s grip on internal affairs. In response to a growing chorus of criticism from exiled dissidents and the international community, increased foreign judicial scrutiny of the president’s son, who was his second vice president, and falling revenues from the aging oilfields, the regime relied on its usual resource-backed brinksmanship. Lavish summits were staged, dissidents were threatened or jailed, journalists were silenced, and lip service was paid to democracy and diversification, while the regime pursued its gradual shift from an oil-driven to a gas-fueled export economy.

Facing chronic decline in hydrocarbons production and oil reserves, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, supported by the ruling ‘Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial’ (pdge), sought to maintain his decades-long grip on power. Confronted with sharp reductions in government revenue and the attendant cuts in public spending, the regime carefully redistributed patronage, suppressed dissent, and propped up Obiang’s son and likely successor, second Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (aka Teodorín). Summitry and the hosting of high-profile events such as the 2015 African Cup of Nations (afcon) showcased a regime very adept at balancing the need for international recognition with obviating unwanted media attention. The regime increasingly pinned its hopes on promising liquefied natural gas (lng) ventures.

The presidential elections, mired in allegations of fraud and abuse, resulted in the extension of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s decades-long rule. Following his re-election, President Obiang named his profligate first son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (Teodorín), as first vice president. The predictable decision irked many within the dominant ‘Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial’ (pdge) and the ruling Essangui clan of Mongomo, as Equatorial Guinea would need a responsible and internationally tolerated leader to combat falling oil production, a severe economic crisis and watchful human rights advocates.

As President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo turned 75 and remained the longest serving republican head of state in the world, prominent members of the ruling Essangui clan jostled for strategic control. Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (‘Teodorín’), his father’s likely successor, drew negative international publicity and complicated efforts to reboot the faltering energy sector. The government clung to gas production in the hope of rebalancing the economy and warding off allegations of human rights abuse.

The year was marked by apparent fissures in a once-ironclad regime buoyed by oil rents and obstinate political repression. The alleged coup attempt of late December 2017 allowed the ruling Essangui clan of Mongomo, with president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at its head, to purge and tighten its ranks, as the regime sought to clear the way for the succession of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (‘Teodorín’). But a dire fiscal position, plummeting oil receipts, an inter­national reputation for criminality, and inner-circle detractors continued to frustrate any obvious resurgence.

On 3 August, the longest-serving republican ruler in the world, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, marked 40 years in power. He and the dominant ‘Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial’ (pdge) looked to extend their ruthless hold on power by securing imf loans, expanding the country’s hydrocarbons portfolio to offset oilfield declines, and cultivating their regional and non-Western allies. A succession crisis continued to loom, as the president’s two sons, first vice president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (Teodorín) and minister of mines and hydrocarbons Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, jostled for control.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought to the fore the country’s most pressing issues. The government, led by the Essangui clan with President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at its helm, sought to stabilise internal politics by downplaying the real extent of the virus and by threatening dissident voices. As the oil industry suffered falling prices, President Obiang’s son and oil minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima scrambled to find investors for the country’s long-term goal of diversification. Lima’s brother and rival for political power, vice-president and head of national security Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (‘Teodorín’), continued to silence and brutalise his detractors in a context of quarantine and lockdowns. Despite soured relations with the West, Teodorín’s bid to replace his father, the world’s longest-serving republican head of state, seemed all but certain to succeed.

The year was particularly disastrous for the long-dominant Essangui clan of Mongomo. In addition to the challenges of Covid-19 and chronic human rights abuses, vice-president Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (Teodorín) continued to draw negative international attention to the regime, resulting in virtually collapsed relations with the West. Persistent economic decline prompted desperate attempts to revive the hydrocarbons industry, with limited success.