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 country was gripped by debate over issues of constitutional change, namely the return to a multiparty system of government and the removal of the two-term limit on the presidency, and strengthened attempts to end the conflict in the north. In view of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2006, the opposition intended to organise into a coalition. While relations with Sudan were improving, relations with Rwanda and the DR Congo remained tense. The donor community put great pressure on the country to find a peaceful solution to the northern conflict, to carry through with political reforms and to improve budgetary performance.


Although somewhat prematurely, Ugandans were already considerably preoccupied with the 2016 presidential (and parliamentary) elections. Internal cleavages in the ruling party became increasingly evident and the president appeared to have embarked on his re-election campaign without openly saying so. Uganda’s standing in international affairs remained high, as it continued to play an important role in peacekeeping efforts in Somalia and mediated in the crisis besetting the Great Lakes region. It faced untoward events in neighbouring areas, however. The calamitous situation in the DRC had a spill-over effect, and the sudden turmoil in South Sudan was followed by an influx of refugees. The collapse of public order in the CAR led to a temporary setback in the pursuit of the remnants of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) there. The economic situation continued to improve and the promise of confirmed oil reserves remained the subject of much interest, though production remained far from imminent.


With the 2016 elections drawing closer, Uganda saw a dazzling blend of drama, tragedy and farce. Drama could be seen in the progressive wrecking of the position and ambition of the prime minister throughout the year. Tragedy unfolded in the ‘Mountains of the Moon’, where clashes involving neighbouring ethnic groups resulted in a heavy death toll. And farce played out when a general who had absconded to London in May 2013, when he was coordinator of intelligence services, returned home unmolested at year’s end. The problems in adjacent countries continued to beleaguer Uganda, but it was largely able to safeguard its national interests. On the international stage, a Ugandan was elected president of the 69th session of the un General Assembly. The economic situation improved further, thanks to a prudent fiscal and monetary policy. The pervasiveness of corruption, however, persistently plagued the country and made relations with donors uneasy. The start of the envisaged oil production was still in its preparatory stages.


The political temperature rose in anticipation of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for early 2016. Opposition parties failed to unite, while the incumbent head of state enjoyed the unmistakable support of all the security forces and his party. Intimidation and chicanery were familiar ploys used by the state apparatus against critics. On this foundation, stability prevailed. Unstable conditions in the region affected Uganda, however, notably the situation in South Sudan. Events in Burundi generated a new influx of refugees, with others still arriving from South Sudan and the drc. Uganda’s international reputation corresponded to its role as an effective regional power and Pope Francis’ visit brought the country into the international limelight. The economy slowed down, but still rested on relatively firm ground. Oil production had not yet started, and expectations were somewhat lowered in view of the worldwide slump in crude oil prices.


Though not much of a surprise had been expected, the presidential and parliamentary elections, held early in the year, were the major domestic event, together with their aftermath. This partly overshadowed the unfortunate developments in neighbouring countries, which all had their repercussions on Uganda. South Sudan’s state failure caused Uganda to emerge as one of the world’s leading host countries for refugees. Its international standing mirrored its role as an active member of worldwide and African organisations as well as being an effective regional power. Internal political challenges were on the rise, but overall stability was maintained, though at the price of ruthless enforcement of what the government in power deemed to be law and order. In a global economic environment that was becoming increasingly complex, the economy did moderately well. Oil production, believed by some to be the silver bullet for all problems, did not commence, with various preparatory measures still in the offing.


The aftermath of the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections having only just died down, Ugandans were already presented with a foreshadowing of the 2021 vote. An apparently personal initiative by an mp to scrap the constitutionally-enshrined age limit for the office of president was hotly debated. The plan led to public protest and violent scenes even in parliamentary chambers, but eventually became law. It provided an opportunity for the incumbent to extend his tenure for the foreseeable future. The already toxic political atmosphere deteriorated, with political opponents, civil society organisations and the media bearing the brunt. Uganda ended its military presence in the car, where remnants of a former Ugandan insurgency had taken refuge, but had largely withered away. On the whole, though, the regional environment hardly improved. Burundi’s crisis still loomed and Kenya had to come to terms with its botched elections. More South Sudanese fled to Uganda from internal strife in their homeland, and new refugees arrived from the drc. Uganda still exercised its role as a major regional player and continued to be held in high esteem in African and international fora. The economy experienced a slowdown of growth, but was basically sound. Various steps were taken towards the effective exploitation of the oil and natural gas deposits.


A constitutional path to a sixth term for incumbent President Museveni in 2021 cleared in late 2017, the political year was marked by the emergence of the musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi’s (known by his stage name, Bobi Wine) ‘people power’ platform, on which several candidates successfully campaigned in parliamentary by-elections, and by the ruling National Resistance Movement’s (nrm) clumsy, violent attempts to counter the growing opposition movement. Uganda scored a foreign policy victory when a joint initiative of Khartoum and Kampala achieved a new peace agreement in South Sudan, although it failed to contain escalating tensions with Rwanda. Museveni’s government failed to stimulate economic growth and create new employment opportunities for aggrieved youth, ‘people power’s’ core constituency, with expensive, prestigious infrastructure projects largely financed by China further increasing the country’s external debt burden.


Uganda’s political establishment took steps early in 2019 to consolidate the hold of President Yoweri Museveni on the National Resistance Movement, his ruling party, which met to declare him the sole candidate for the 2021 elections. The year, however, was dominated by hostile relations with Rwanda that threatened to develop into outright conflict. This increased the profile of the security services in Ugandan politics, bringing them ever closer to civilian affairs. One such development was the influence within the economy of Operation Wealth Creation – a loose but influential outfit focused on agro-industry that is run by the president’s powerful brother, General Salim Saleh. The Ugandan police maintained a ‘catch and release’ strategy with the People Power movement of Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine – applying a rigid blockage on public gatherings, concerts, and protests while disrupting his activities. Support for Bobi Wine remained a high risk for his associates following several deaths, such as that of entertainer Ziggy Wine, whose supposed accidental killing was claimed by the People Power organisation to have been an extrajudicial killing. Meanwhile, targeted promotions in the security services as well as a political programme to court domestic constituencies, especially among Uganda’s influential tribal chiefdoms, commenced the year with a meeting between Museveni and the Kabaka of Uganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, as the National Resistance Movement (nrm) ramped up activities in preparation for the forthcoming general election – paying little heed to the growing debt crisis in the country as election agendas cast a long shadow over the government, defining its relationship with social development, the free press, and relations with neighbours.


Two major developments dominated public discourse in Uganda in 2020, one domestic – elections – and the other global – the pandemic. Domestically, campaigns for general elections and globally, the Covid-19 pandemic defined and disrupted socioeconomic and political engagements. During the election campaign season, Uganda’s political status quo came under heavy strain and a strong spotlight. The combination of a general election campaign season and a novel pandemic created a tense and turbulent environment for a country facing grave political uncertainty and enormous socioeconomic difficulties, ranging from runaway youth unemployment to population pressures on the environment and limited national resources. In preparation for general elections, where incumbent president Yoweri Museveni faced renewed challenge to his stay at the helm, and in seeking to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic through enforcing standards and protocols, Uganda’s police and security agencies engaged in gross human rights abuses and excesses that included deadly shootings. Economically, the pandemic compounded the already difficult living conditions for the majority of Ugandans as the government instituted a national lockdown at the end of March 2020. While the country’s overall macroeconomic outlook remained promising, several economic variables, including worsening public debt and sluggish progress in the emerging oil and gas sector, among others, were a great cause for worry. In regional geopolitics and security, the country continued to play a leading role in Somalia under the African Union Mission (amisom) and in other unspecified military adventures in Equatorial Guinea, car, and South Sudan. Ongoing frosty relations with Rwanda remained a top security sore following the latter’s unilateral closure of the two countries’ main border post.

Uganda began 2021 with a general election on 14 January, in which long-term president Yoweri Museveni faced pop star cum political activist Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi (also known as Bobi Wine) of the National Unity Platform (nup). Museveni and the ruling National Resistance Movement (nrm) won the elections; the president and parliament were sworn in on 12 and 17 May respectively. The 16 November bomb attacks in Kampala were blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (adf), an affiliate of Islamic State (isis) based in eastern drc. In June, an attempted assassination on the minister for works and transport, General Edward Katumba Wamala, a former commander of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (updf) and inspector-general of the Uganda Police Force (upf), sent country-wide shock waves. Uganda continued its role in regional security through amisom (the au Mission to Somalia) and other deployments throughout the region, but relations with neighbouring Rwanda remained the biggest foreign policy conundrum, considering the close socio-political and economic ties between the two countries. The Covid-19 pandemic remained a source of social and economic disruption and uncertainty, with a second national lockdown in June and a night curfew and school closures till end of the year.