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 general political picture was one of a calm, uneventful year, characterised by political consensus on the one hand and ecological problems on the other. Both the cabinet and the National Assembly were run on the basis of consensus rather than as an arena for opposing parties, although there was pro forma representation of the opposition in all cabinet councils. Though President Touré was able to keep the political parties united and relatively sidelined, the first signs of a political shift were apparent in 2004, as the parties began to position themselves for the 2007 elections, and some protests occurred. The major problems in the country were of an ecological nature, namely the locust plague and a poor rainy season.

The year witnessed the dramatic consequences of Mali’s ongoing political and security crisis, which had come to the world’s attention through the March 2012 military coup d’état resulting in the ouster of the country’s government. Among the most notable consequences of this crisis in 2013 were large-scale military intervention by French, African, and ultimately UN forces; the retreat of Islamist rebel groups from the cities and towns they had occupied since early 2012; the brokering of a preliminary peace accord between Tuareg separatist rebels and the Malian government; and the election of a new head of state. Yet despite these and other positive signs of normalisation, the rampant insecurity, political uncertainty, and economic distress generated by the crisis did not fully abate, and the Malian state remained weak in the face of multiple challenges, both internal and external.

While a 2013 international military intervention brought a measure of stability to the country, old threats persisted within Mali’s borders and new ones emerged in 2014. Low-intensity terrorist violence and sporadic clashes between government troops and rebels in the north, corruption scandals and a dramatic outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the capital ensured that Mali would stay in the international spotlight throughout the year. The Malian government remained heavily dependent on support from its Western partners but diversified its sources of support by forging new ties with non-Western states. Economically, Mali showed on-going signs of gradual recovery but continued to rely on two primary commodities for its export earnings.

2015 brought renewed hope for a lasting settlement to the conflict between Mali’s government and northern rebels that had divided the country for three years. Although a peace agreement was successfully negotiated, insecurity continued to be rampant in northern Mali, largely due to violence by Islamist groups. For the first time, this violence spread to other parts of the country and included brazen terrorist attacks on civilian targets in cities. Militants routinely targeted un peacekeepers and employees. The Malian government maintained close ties with France and other donor governments while also strengthening its relations with new international partners. Mali’s economy grew more slowly than in 2014 but showed prospects for a better performance in 2016.

Mali experienced a steady increase in political violence, perpetrated primarily by armed jihadi groups and resulting in hundreds of deaths. Mounting insecurity beleaguered populations in the country’s central and northern regions, while government and international security forces deployed in these regions were themselves frequent targets of attacks. Little progress was made in implementing the terms of a peace agreement signed in 2015 between northern rebels and the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and political opposition to Keita’s regime appeared to gain momentum. The rule of law remained tenuous throughout the centre and north, where neither the government nor international forces had effective control over significant areas. Although the national economy continued to grow and commodity exports and agricultural output rose, food insecurity remained a pressing issue for millions of Malians throughout the year.

Unprecedented levels of insecurity and violence, primarily fomented by jihadi insurgents, combined with heightened inter-community tensions continued to disrupt the lives of millions of residents in Mali’s central and northern regions. Although the Malian state, led by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, worked with international partners to contain these threats, intensified activity by and coordination among jihadi groups based within Mali’s borders posed a grave threat to Mali and its neighbours. Implementation of the peace process between the Malian government and Tuareg separatist movements remained sluggish as pressure mounted abroad to levy sanctions against those blocking implementation. Despite these challenges, Mali’s leaders cultivated closer relations internationally, agricultural production was up, and the overall economy expanded throughout the year.

A growing number of fatal clashes between local militia groups combined with jihadi terror campaigns to make 2018 Mali’s deadliest year since a complex security crisis began in 2012. Violence increased, mainly in the country’s central and northern regions. Implementation of the peace accord between the central government and Tuareg separatist rebels continued to lag. The incumbent head of state was re-elected in August. Malian leaders strengthened relations with diverse partners abroad, while at home, commodity production rose and the economy continued its recent trend of moderate expansion.

Deadly violence carried out by a range of groups continued to destabilise the central and northern regions of Mali throughout 2019. The severity and frequency of attacks undermined the central government’s authority and fuelled protests in the capital city. Authorities’ steps to foster peace and reconciliation met with little success. The government relied heavily on the aid and security provided by its foreign partners, especially France, even as public criticism of the French presence in Mali became vocal and widespread. Worsening humanitarian conditions for growing numbers of Malians overshadowed efforts to foster economic growth and development.

Mali experienced unprecedented levels of violence and upheaval throughout 2020. The government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta struggled to cope with the combined challenges of escalating insecurity in Mali’s northern and central regions, the global Covid-19 pandemic, and intensifying political dissent in southern cities. In August, a group of military officers overthrew Keïta and established a ruling junta. While announcing its intention to guide the country to multi-party elections, the junta also consolidated its power and established a tight grip over the new, ostensibly civilian-led transitional government. Economic recession and other consequences of the pandemic made life more precarious for many Malian residents.

Political violence and instability remained acute in Mali throughout 2021. After ousting a sitting president the previous year, Mali’s military junta tightened its grip over the national political process. It then began muzzling domestic dissent and refashioning the country’s international alliances. The new interim government installed by the junta in June sought to delay the return to civilian rule, challenged French policies and interests in Mali and the Sahel, and cultivated new partnerships abroad, most notably with Russia. After maintaining troops in Mali for over eight years, France began scaling back its military operations there amid deteriorating relations with Malian leaders. Despite some promising signs, Mali’s economy remained weak due to continued upheaval and the global Covid-19 pandemic. Malians faced numerous persistent obstacles to peace and prosperity.