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


Rwanda's social, economic, political and security situation was deeply influenced by the earlier genocide and by regional issues. The transition period formally ended in 2003 with the referendum on the new constitution and the first ‘democratic’ presidential and parliamentary elections in the history of Rwanda. Positive economic developments were interrupted in 2003 and 2004 by lack of rain as well as lack of institutional, financial and human resources for the implementation of reforms, falling coffee prices (in 2003) and a severe energy crisis. All of these circumstances proved challenging to the government's precarious efforts to strike a balance between reconciliation and rehabilitation, state and nation building and legitimacy. The role of Rwanda in the region was much contested and the country teetered on the brink of war in the latter half of 2004.


The ruling RPF government continued to maintain strict controls on political and public life. The regime, led by President Paul Kagame, further consolidated its grip on power via parliamentary elections held in September. The government faced little internal political opposition. Progress slowed in public service delivery as donors cut or suspended aid as a sanction for Rwanda’s alleged continued support of the M23 rebels in the DRC. The RPF continued to lose standing with its international donors, including for the first time the USA, a staunch ally of the government since it had taken power in 1994 at the end of the genocide. The government continued its vigorous denial of any military involvement in the neighbouring DRC through proxy militias. To appease donors, the government embarked on a series of peace talks hosted by the government of Uganda. Bilateral relations with the DRC remained cordial despite Congolese President Kabila’s public statements that Rwanda should stop supporting rebels in its eastern provinces. Relations with Tanzania soured and remained strained at year’s end. The dip in available foreign aid constrained the government’s development plans as it accounted for some 40% of budgeted revenue. Foreign aid cuts combined with higher international interest rates and lower domestic public spending, along with poor tea and coffee receipts, slowed Rwanda’s economic growth to slightly less than 5%.


The ruling rpf continued to maintain strict controls on political and public life, and the regime, led by President Kagame, faced little internal political opposition. Progress continued in the fields of public service delivery and the economy. The government marked the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in April with a series of memorial and commemoration activities. The rpf gained some standing with its international donors, many of which restored aid following Kigali’s November 2013 dismantling of the M23 rebel group, a proxy militia operating in the neighbouring drc. Foreign aid disbursements had declined in 2012–13, following the release of a un report accusing the government of supporting military rebellion in eastern drc. By the end of 2014, foreign aid accounted for 35% of Rwanda’s budget, marking the return of aid dollars, albeit at levels below those allocated before the release of the 2012 un report. Relations with donors remained tense, notably because they continued to chastise the government for its ongoing political repression. Bilateral relations with the drc were strained, with Kigali accusing Kinshasa of not doing enough to contain the conflict in the Kivu regions. Regional and un-led peace talks failed to resolve the conflict in eastern drc, despite Rwanda’s wish to cooperate with the Congolese army to contain it. The economy proved to be quite resilient: despite some foreign aid cuts, the effects of continued global recession and lower domestic public spending, economic growth accelerated to a relatively healthy projected rate of 6.5%.


The ruling rpf continued to maintain strict controls on public life. The regime, led by President Kagame, faced little internal political opposition, and he commanded the loyalty of the bulk of the armed forces. Progress continued in the fields of public service delivery. The government oversaw orchestrated revisions to the 2003 Constitution to allow Kagame to stand for a third term in office. Foreign aid disbursements held steady in 2014–15, as donors continued to support the government’s ambitious development agenda. Relations with donors remained tense, notably because they continued to chastise the government for its ongoing political repression, while also expressing disappointment at Kagame’s decision to run for a third term. Bilateral relations with both Burundi and the drc were strained. The economy remained resilient: despite an ambitious development programme, the effects of no new foreign aid combined with cheaper global energy costs and lower domestic public spending, economic growth remained a relatively healthy 6.5%.


The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front continued to dominate all levels of socio-­political life. The regime, led by President Kagame, faced limited political opposition a year ahead of the 2017 presidential elections. Kagame reshuffled his cabinet for the first time in two years and made important staffing decisions in the security sector. Rwanda continued to outperform its eac neighbours in the fields of public service delivery, but a severe drought challenged the government’s response to a food security crisis in the eastern part of the country. Kagame’s decision to run for a third term did not result in loss of support or a drop in foreign disbursements from key donors. Bilateral relations with both Burundi and France were strained, while those with Tanzania and the drc improved. The economy remained resilient and economic growth declined slightly to 5.9% due to lower growth in agriculture, a contraction in manufacturing and construction, and a slowdown in public investment.


The presidential elections dominated much of 2017. The ruling rpf consolidated its political power as President Kagame won 98.8 % of the vote. Rwanda’s human rights record continued to be challenged by international human rights organisations and the un. Rwanda was one of the leading troop and police contributing country to peacekeeping operations. Bilateral relations with both Burundi and France remained strained. The drought that hit Eastern Africa continued to plague Rwanda. The government made important progress in infrastructure development by increasing the number of households connected to electricity to over 35% from 22% at the end of 2016. Economic performance remained strong, with a gdp growth of 5.1%.

Although the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (rpf) consolidated its power during the year, two opposition parties managed to win seats in parliament for the first time since it had taken power in 1994. The year also saw the release of 2,140 prisoners, among them prominent political opponents, but despite this, Rwanda’s human rights record remained poor. Rwanda expanded its political power on the international scene and continued its efforts to become less dependent on Western donors. The country’s relations with its neighbours Burundi, the drc, and Uganda remained strained, with the entry of two new rebel movements, the National Liberation Forces (nlf) and Platform 5 (P5), aiming to topple the regime of President Kagame, adding to existing tensions. Rwanda’s economic achievements remained impressive, with plans to increase agricultural productivity and access to electricity, and to create on-farm and off-farm jobs for youth, being implemented.


The year was dominated by tensions between Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. Rwanda suspected its neighbours of massively supporting the armed opposition. Border closures and a ‘policy of pinpricks’ on the part of both states aimed at gradually restricting the actions of the other also paralysed regional cooperation. A peace agreement between Uganda and Rwanda brokered by the drc and Angola was signed, but has not yet been implemented. Tensions between the two parties continued. Attacks by armed groups, such as the P5 and the National Liberation Front (fln), in northern and southern Rwanda resulted in civilian casualties. The government reacted robustly with counter-attacks and arrests. Several members of the non-recognised opposition party ‘Forces Democratiques Unifiées – Inkingi’ were found murdered or disappeared. Despite these challenges, the economy again grew strongly. Unemployment fell again and local and foreign investments increased by 22.6%. Relations with regional and international players, such as France and the drc under the new leadership of President Felix Tshisekedi, also improved significantly.


President Paul Kagame underpinned his ambitions in both domestic and foreign policy, as Rwanda once again confidently laid claim to leadership roles on the continent. It used the UN peacekeeping mission in car to underscore this claim with an increased military presence in the country. At the same time, the regime change in Burundi brought a new dynamic in the bilateral relations and led to direct talks between the two countries. The dispute with Uganda eased slightly this year but persisted. Domestically, the political opposition continued to be subject to the strong pressure of persecution. This was illustrated by the trial of Paul Rusesabagina, whose story inspired the movie ‘Hotel Rwanda’. He was accused of supporting armed militias. The coronavirus pandemic brought economic development to a halt, reversing years of progress. The economy, which is primarily based on tourism and exports, suffered from the decline, and the country slid into recession.


Rwanda continued to pursue its foreign policy agenda this year, positioning itself as a military and political actor in sub-Saharan Africa. Troop deployments to Mozambique and car illustrated this geopolitical strategy. While relations with Burundi improved significantly and relations with drc also remained stable, there were no signals of rapprochement with Uganda. With the first state visit since 2010, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, marked a milestone in the rapprochement of the two states. Domestically, the court case against Paul Rusesabagina, former manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali and known for his role during the genocide, dominated the headlines. He was found guilty of supporting the armed opposition and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Opposition leaders and critical actors on social media were increasingly the focus of investigations. Several journalists were arrested and imprisoned. The socioeconomic situation improved and the economy grew significantly again after the coronavirus-induced downturn the previous year. Higher unemployment and poverty rates remained a source of concern. With one of the highest vaccination rates on the continent, Rwanda nevertheless came through the crisis comparatively well.