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, Guinea continued to limp along, managing its internal tensions and a half-dozen small violent uprisings by the population without spinning out of control. The health of President Lansana Conté, long commented upon by diplomats and Guineans, ceased to be the key issue as he appeared to stabilise physically. Still, the general atmosphere of ‘last days’ prevailed, and by June it was common knowledge that the central bank had been completely emptied of foreign currency reserves. Massive inflation saw the price of rice more than double and fuel rise by two-thirds. A prime minister appointed in February lasted only two months before deciding to resign, because he was unable to institute any reforms, and the position remained empty for eight months until a replacement was named in December, promising significant reforms.


After years of political turbulence and a presidential election in 2010 that had promised a return to democracy and socioeconomic development, 2013 brought a deepening political stalemate. Despite the long-awaited legislative elections, which finally took place in September, frustration about the lack of economic revival, public insecurity and growing accusations of nepotism in the government of President Condé, along with rising ethnic violence, dominated the political landscape. The apparent stalemate not only frustrated Guineans’ waning hopes for political stability and economic development, but also the expectations of the international community and investors in Guinea’s vast mineral resources, whose exploitation slowed down despite the government’s diplomatic efforts to attract investment.


After a promising economic start, popular hopes for social and political improvements, which had been much expected after years of governmental reforms, were disappointed. Guinea suffered from political and economic stagnation due to the outbreak of Ebola, which undermined the fledging economic progress. Local elections that had been scheduled for 2014 were postponed, causing tension amongst the political elite and fuelling lack of trust in the government and the security forces amongst wide sections of the population.


The year saw Guinea firmly in the grip of the Ebola outbreak, slowing economic progress and influencing domestic and international political relations. In addition to the Ebola-related challenges, economic slow-down heavily affected the national economy, leading to rising market prices and weakening of the domestic economy. The comparatively peaceful re-election of President Condé continued the formal democratic process while at the same time revealing the deep estrangement between the wider population and the government – a lack of trust revealed in epidemiological as well as political and security measures taken by the government. While there was progress in the expansion of civilian control over the security forces, little advancement was made with regard to their accountability.


Guinea lived through a year of challenges. Following the free presidential elections in 2015, citizens were becoming weary of waiting for the alleged democracy dividend, which appeared further away than ever. The international community praised President Condé for his international policies and diplomatic skills, thereby raising his and the country’s international visibility. The slowdown of the global economy took its toll. World market prices for minerals declined and made investment in the mining sector unattractive. State revenue declined in turn. Economic tensions translated into political and social tensions, with party politics and perceived ethnic favouritism discrediting the public administration. The government reacted by offering citizenship education training sessions for public administrators. With the end of the Ebola outbreak, the political, social and economic effects of the epidemic became visible. While international investment in public health continued, the better part of the population struggled with the high cost of living, lack of job opportunities and economic instability.


After economically challenging years, Guinea experienced economic consolidation as a result of fdi in bauxite mining. The population remained in dire conditions, which led to protests throughout the year and political tensions between trade unions, opposition parties and the government. Little progress was made to deal with high-profile human rights violations, and the impunity of security forces remained a major concern. President Condé earned recognition on the international level but became increasingly beleaguered during the year due to strikes, the delay in holding local elections and his refusal to comment on his succession.


Guinea celebrated 60 years of independence during the year, which was marred by trade union strikes to demand liveable wages and economic stability, as well as political protests against the sitting government’s increasingly authoritarian character. President Condé used police and soldiers to disperse protests and limited independent media reporting and freedom of expression, returning to methods his predecessors had been known for. The long-awaited local elections resulted in allegations of fraud, as well as in increased ethnic and communal tensions that delayed the instalment of local councils. Although the gross economic situation improved due to a growing mining sector based on foreign investment in bauxite extraction, the population did not benefit by way of increased employment or salaries to match rising inflation.


With President Alpha Condé becoming increasingly authoritarian, the Guinean president came under growing criticism and pressure from the opposition and international observers to curb the violence perpetrated by security forces. This happened predominantly in the context of elections, which have been postponed several times, as well as the debate about constitutional changes aimed at ensuring that Condé remains in power. As the levels of corruption and embezzlement appeared to rise, a continuation of the Condé regime was widely criticised. Economically, his government maintained fiscal stability through harsh domestic cutbacks while at the same time attracting foreign direct investment into the controversial mining sector.

The year was marked by the re-election of President Alpha Condé after the adoption of a new constitution, and the strengthening of the ruling party rpg (Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinée). The elections were highly controversial and accompanied by large-scale protests and severe political violence. A double ballot on 22 March combined the hitherto delayed legislative elections and a constitutional referendum. Boycotted by the main opposition parties, it gave the rpg a majority of votes (55%) and allowed President Condé, first elected in 2010, to run for a third mandate. On 18 October, Condé won the presidential elections by 59.5%; his main opponent Cellou Dalein Diallo (Union des Forces Démocratiques de Guinée, ufdg) was credited with 33.5% of the votes cast, though the outcome remains contested by the opposition and drew severe criticism from international observers. Over the year, clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters, especially from the fndc movement (Front National pour la Défense de la Constitution), resulted in dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries and arrests. Economically, the alleged corruption scandal surrounding minister Zénab Nabaya Dramé and the mining deal signed over the Simandou iron ore deposits, promising $ 15 bn of foreign investment, point to an ever more contested political economy in which significant economic gains in the mining sector failed to benefit the general Guinean population. The coronavirus pandemic, while adding significantly to the socioeconomic precariousness of most Guineans, did not significantly reduce economic growth. Guinea’s gdp grew by 5.2% in 2020, compared with 5.6% in 2019, based on the continued increase in mining activities.

For Guinea, 2021 was marked by the military coup d’état by the cnrd (Comité National du Rassemblement pour le Développement) against the regime of Alpha Condé. Given the frustration with the former president, the coup was largely received enthusiastically. Condé was detained and later kept under house arrest. Colonel Mamady Doumbouya was officially sworn in as interim president and appointed Mohamed Béavogui as prime minister in October. As Doumbouya used his presidential powers to govern extensively through decrees, his relationship with Béavogui seemed tense on several occasions. Critical voices from civil society and the political parties remained few and low in 2021, however, in spite of some highly contested decisions by the cnrd. Probably the most notorious of these was Doumbouya’s decree to rename Conakry’s airport Ahmed Sékou Touré International Airport, a decision that reopened the festering wounds that many Guineans inherited from Guinea’s First Republic. As to international reactions, all major powers condemned the coup and called for the immediate release of Alpha Condé, but nobody called for his reinstatement. ecowas and the au both suspended Guinea, but the high-level ecowas mission arriving in Conakry on 17 September was unable to impose any of its propositions, such as setting a maximum duration of six months for the transition. On 8 March, Djibril Tamsir Niane (author of ‘Soundjata ou l’Epopée du Manding’), passed away.