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

Five years after the 1998–99 conflict between President Nino Vieira and the military junta led by Brigadier Ansumane Mane, Guinea-Bissau continued to be plagued by chronic political instability and persistent socioeconomic distress. In spite of convincing presidential and legislative victories in the 1999–2000 elections, the disastrous rule of President Kumba Yala and his ethnically-anchored ‘Partido para a Renovação Social’ (PRS) was marked by regular cabinet reshuffles, non-respect for the separation of powers and widespread mismanagement of public resources. Threatened by internal opposition both within his party and the National Assembly, Kumba Yala dismissed the legislative and executive bodies on 20 November 2002 and appointed a government of presidential initiative. Although limited both in mandate and duration, the interim government failed to organise legislative elections within the constitutionally provided time limits and prompted the virtual collapse of state-provided social services. Its lack of managerial capacity was made blatantly evident by its inability to pay civil service salaries during its ruinous 11-month rule.


Guinea-Bissau was still recovering from the 2012 military coup. Politically, the return to constitutional order was dragging on, and politically and militarily motivated human rights violations increased. Presidential and parliamentary elections were postponed to May 2014. However, an inclusive government – consisting of coup supporters and members of the pre-coup governing party – was formed in June. Meanwhile, ECOWAS, the only international organisation that recognised the transitional government, appeared to grow tired of Guinea-Bissau’s authorities. The government was not able to compensate for the withdrawal of financial assistance as a result of sanctions imposed by the international community. Civil servants repeatedly went on strike because of unpaid salaries. Corruption increased. As a result of the political situation, illegal fishing and logging continued, while ineffective marketing of cashew nuts − the country’s main cash crop − led to hunger and declining incomes among farmers.


The year was marked by democratic general elections in April and May, leading to the replacement of the unpopular and corrupt 2012 post-coup ‘transitional government’. The ‘Partido para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde’ (paigc) obtained an absolute majority in parliament and won the presidency. Despite its majority, the paigc formed a government inclusive of all parties represented in parliament. In the aftermath of the elections, political tensions decreased, helped by the unexpected death of long-time political agitator, former state-president Kumba Yalá (prs) in April and the dismissal of the controversial general chief of staff, António Indjai, in November. Both were believed to be behind the 2012 military coup. International relations normalised, sanctions were lifted, and financial and development cooperation was resumed.


Positive developments marked the beginning of the year: an international donor conference in March resulted in higher donations and credit commitments than expected. Political stability, enhanced governance, and significant infrastructural improvements resulted in economic recovery and widespread popular confidence. However, by the second half of the year deep political divisions emerged between Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira, who was also the president of the ‘Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde’ (paigc), and President José Mário Vaz (paigc). Eventually, Vaz dismissed the all-party government, which resulted in constitutional controversies. The new government, headed by paigc veteran Carlos Correia, remained unstable due to divisions both within the ruling paigc and with the second largest party, the ‘Partido para a Renovação Social’ (prs), which remained absent from the new government.


The year was characterised by a protracted government crisis: against constitutional provisions and ignoring parliamentary majorities, President José Mario Vaz ‘Jomav’ appointed two prime ministers, provoking political turf wars and parliamentary paralysis. Although crucial judicial rulings went in favour of Vaz, court decisions were heavily criticised because they contradicted earlier judgements. The attorney-general was accused of one-sidedly prosecuting political adversaries and human rights activists criticised the politicisation of the justice sector. Despite intensive mediation efforts by the un and ecowas, a solution to the political crisis had not been achieved by the end of the year and deep political divisions continued to prevail. Political uncertainty caused widespread disappointment and frustration among the population.


Throughout the year, Guinea-Bissau continued to be dominated by a conflict between President José Mário Vaz and his party, the ‘Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde’ (paigc), led by the former prime minister, Domingos Simões Pereira. Parliamentary work remained blocked because the paigc prevented the election of the presidentially appointed prime minister, Umaro Sissoco Embaló (paigc). Human rights, the opposition and the media came under pressure. The political crisis contrasted with a positive economic development.


More than two years of a protracted political crisis between state president José Mario Vaz and the ‘Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde’ (paigc) ended in April with the appointment of Aristides Gomes (paigc) as consensual prime minister. The solution was made possible by sanctions that ecowas had imposed on unruly Vaz and his entourage. Gomes became head of a unity government, integrating into the cabinet ministers of all parties with parliamentary representation. The government’s principal task was to organise fresh parliamentary elections. Scheduled for November, they had to be postponed until early the following year, given technical and financial shortcomings in the voter registration process. President Vaz played for time again, trying to discredit the credibility of the voter registration process and to delay the fixing of a new election date. Meanwhile, macroeconomic and fiscal development was positive, although, as in previous years, the country was hit by several waves of strikes. Human rights continued to come under pressure.


The protracted political crisis that has shaken Guinea-Bissau since 2015 continued throughout the year. The parliamentary elections held in March that were expected to end the conflict between President José Mário Vaz and the majority party, ‘Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde’ (paigc), led by Domingos Simões Pereira, did not bring any major improvement. Instead, Vaz continued to pursue a policy of obstructionism, resulting in delay to the formation of a government, an attempt to dismiss Prime Minister Aristides Gomes (paigc), Vaz’s disregard for the approaching end of his term of office, and, subsequently, the delayed setting of a date for the presidential poll. Against the backdrop of political quarrels about the transparency of the elections, a new president was finally elected in November and December.


Former prime minister Umaro Sissoco Embaló won the 2019 presidential elections. His victory produced yet another political crisis, as the results were challenged by the majority party Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (paigc) and its candidate, party leader Domingos Simões Pereira. Eventually, Embaló unilaterally declared himself president, assisted by the armed forces. He appointed Nuno Gomes Nabiam (Assembleia do Povo Unido – Partido Democrático da Guiné-Bissau, apu-pdgb) as the new prime minister. The legitimate prime minister, Aristides Gomes (paigc), and some of his allies were persecuted. Autocratic tendencies and political tensions increased considerably. The global Covid-19 pandemic hit the country’s impoverished population, its ailing health sector, and the economy.


Unilaterally declared president Umaro Sissoco Embaló’s rule continued to be characterised by increasingly authoritarian tendencies and political tensions. Competition between the president and Prime Minster Nuno Gomes Nabiam of the Assembleia do Povo Unido-Partido Democratico da Guiné-Bissau (apu-pdgb) prevailed, although the overall situation in the country remained calm. According to reports, dubious business activities, such as narco-trafficking and illegal logging in which both foreigners and people close to the ruling elite were involved, apparently increased. Yet Embaló was able to symbolically gain international recognition owing to prestigious official visits. In economic terms, Guinea-Bissau benefited from financial relief schemes after the global Covid-19 pandemic had hit the country in the previous year. The country also profited from international debt relief and new development projects.