Middle East Studies

About the Center

The Centre  for Middle East studies was launched at the initiative of Professor (Dr) Abdul Fattah Ammourah, Vice Dean, Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P Jindal Global University in 2016 with the objectives of fostering interdisciplinary research on Middle East Studies in collaboration with regional academics, experts and practitioners; conducting research and analysis on bilateral relations between India and the Middle East to explore synergies and address mutual long-standing economic, political and social challenges; supporting a balanced Middle Eastern research studies from various perspectives to widen access to first-hand knowledge of the Middle East; developing materials and resources for educators and the wider public readership; contributing to broad dissemination of research results and information regarding the Middle East; and expanding the network of institutional partnerships with universities in the Middle East, opening opportunities for student and faculty exchange.

 

Issues in the Middle East are dynamic and fast changing with new and evolving stakeholders almost on a monthly basis. Due to this fact and the multiple perspectives in the media on this subject matter, arriving at a consensus would need arguing that the ground reality of the Middle East is chaotic and sometimes misleading.

 

Since much of the media and academic space on the Middle East is occupied by Western schools of thoughts, we attempt at the Centre for Middle East to de-clutter this space and crowd in opinions of scholars, academicians, media, politicians, diplomats and citizens from the Middle East, emerging nations and the world at large, to counterbalance the scale of knowledge and information that reside in the academia surrounding the region.

 

We would like to involve students who are interested in studying about the geo-strategic and geo-economic importance of the Middle East in the world. We believe that any study, seminar, workshops, debates or discussions must lead to adding value to the ongoing search for peace in the Middle East. Our belief is based on the fact that at the end of the day, it is the lives of the people involved in conflict that matters and their betterment is what we target at. Finally, it is a student-led and student- driven initiative to foster a knowledge- based center.

Professor (Dr.) Abdul Fattah Ammourah

 

Prof. (Dr.)  Ammourah is a Professor, Vice Dean and Director, Centre for Middle East Studies (CMES) in the Jindal School of International Affairs. He holds a doctorate (Ph.D.) in linguistics and translation of political discourse: The Arabic-English context from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a Master of Arts in linguistics and translation from Bath University, UK and a certificate in diplomacy and international relations, international politics, international trade and finance and international law from Oxford University, Queen Elizabeth house. He also has a B.A in English language and literature from Damascus University.

 

Professor Ammourah Served as a career diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign affairs in the Syrian Arab Republic for more than 33 years as a diplomat including charge d’ affairs of the Syrian Embassy in Cyprus, India and Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. Professor Ammourah held the position of deputy to the Syrian foreign minister from 2007-2013, when he retired. During his high level post as director of the economic and cultural departments at the Ministry for foreign affairs as well as the department of Western Europe, he was in charge of conducting a day to day development of the relations and in charge of drafting and negotiating all the agreements signed between Syria and the countries of his area of mandate.

 

In his capacity as a deputy to the foreign minister, he was in charge of the political, economic and cultural relations between Syria and 48 countries in Europe including the Euro-Mediterranean partnership association and the union for the Mediterranean. He was also a coordinator at the Syrian ministry of foreign affairs of the high level Syrian-Turkish strategic cooperation council and the high level Arab-Turkish strategic cooperation council, as well as a coordinator of all the mutual cooperation committees between Syria and the countries mentioned above.

 

Professor Ammourah wrote more than 40 articles in the local newspapers and magazines on the current events in West Asia. He is also the author of 4 books titled: “The Middle East and the language of politics and media: approaches to analysis and translation” dealing with the following topics: Book 1: Deals with the conflict between Lebanon and Israel. Book 2: deals with the peace negotiations. Book 3: Deals with the Mediterranean between struggle and cooperation. Book 4: deals with guide to political Analyst. In addition to this, Professor Ammourah translated to Al Farqad publishing house a number of books from English into Arabic titled: (1)- Diplomatic Handbook , (2)-The gardens of democracy, (3)- The Arab Spring: Libyan winter, (4)- Why leaders lie: the truth behind lying in international politics, (5)- “political discourse analysis” by Norman and Ezabella Fairclough, (6)-  He translated his book into English titled: “The Mediterranean between struggle and cooperation” which deals with history of the Arab European political, economic and cultural relations.

 

Professor Ammourah’s areas of specialization and interests include: diplomacy, international relations, speaking in public, foreign policy analysis, art of negotiation, armed conflict and crisis management, scrutinizing the sensitivity of accurate analysis of the structure of the language of agreements and international originations’ resolutions, as well as the role of mass media in shaping culture, ideology and the techniques of deception and misleading of the public opinion. Finally, he has a keen interest in the sensitivity of the proper translating of political discourse resulting from variations of cultural, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic features of both English and Arabic.

 

Rationalizing the Irrational in the Middle East

 

Trajectories of Diplomacy and sustainable development, Governance, state-building, Foreign policy, and international relations to address the issues of war and peace in the Middle East, have always been stumbled by external actors, be they super powers, free riders or local, driving the Middle East into a state of unrest, leaving behind a long series of dire social, political, economic and humanitarian impacts on the people, and threats to world peace and security.

 

Historiography and current evidence reflect the highly volatile and chronic conflicts and struggle for and in the Middle East; making it the focus of world powers’ self-centric attention and interests, driven by egoistic motives that are tarnished by three curses: a) natural resources of oil and gas, b) geography of geostrategic location, and c) haphazard imposition of diverse culture, generating interstate and intrastate conflicts and wars.

 

A purview of the conflict’s phases; beginning with its grass roots; a) Palestinian cause-the core issue, b) the Arab-Israeli conflict, c) expansion and diversification of the conflict due to the end of cold war and rise of the U. S hegemon state, with its aggressive “creative chaos” foreign policy whose currency is sectarianism, ethno- religious, interfaith conflicts,  and usage of terrorism as instrument for strategy implementation with the aim to erode state sovereignty, change of incumbent leaders who resist , and reshape the politics of the Middle East, would unravel  the foundations of such a policy with the aim to rationalize the irrational and demonize the rational, crash resistance ,and plough through regional and international political situation by all means.

 

To understand the Middle East current events; wars and prospects of peace, we need to analyse the inter-Arab relationships, the European and US foreign policy, the relations with the Gulf Co-operation Council, the Arab Countries in the immediate neighbourhood and beyond, as well as with Turkey, Iran, Russian Federation, China, India and their implications for Cooperation. One should not forget the Palestinian question- the core issue of the Arab- Israeli conflict, the richness of the region with energy resources and its important Geo-strategic position as vital routes for transporting oil and gas., and controlling people’s options. To reflect on such policy, it is important to ponder over on what Winston Churchill and Henry Kissinger respectively drew their vision of the Middle East in terms of winning the next wars, and controlling Nations; “He who controls oil will win the next war” and “He who controls oil and people, controls nations”. All this constitutes the axis of struggles for and in the Middle East.

 

 We also need to critically project and analyse the developments of the world political systems effecting regional sub-systems, from World War one up to date, and their impacts on the region. Our analysis aims to produce, through the medium of CMES, knowledge-based posture that is more context-specific within and about the Arab region and far beyond, and delve deeply into the causes of interstate and intrastate wars in the region; the most serious is the present on-going proxy wars, that reside on usage of terrorism as instruments for aggression, invasion and conquests, under the guise of the noble and undeniable principles of Democracy and protection of human rights.

 

Against this backdrop, diplomacy as a peaceful -dialogue-based problem- solving mechanism to establish the just and comprehensive peace is losing grounds, stemming from diverse reasons ranging from domestic to regional and international motives, generated from imbalance of powers in the current world order, and clash of world powers strategic interests to dominate this vital and volatile region.  Therefore, we need to further strive to navigate in a troubled region of diverse social, cultural, economic and political nature, to sail in rough winds and storms that never subside.

 

Indeed, the lock and the key for understanding the broader or smaller Middle East wars, peace and diplomacy, rest in the hands of world powers struggle and tussle, nationalist forces resistance to  the U.S hegemonic policy to control the world, and leading to either accomplishment of the US hegemony over the world resources, which entails global wars in the age of  the theory of Mutual Assured Destruction ,“ MAD” theory,  or the rule of international law, and enforcement of interdependence theory to save our plant from total destruction and the end of Man, the later would help the international community face the rising challenges of terrorism, climate change and spread of epidemic diseases; the last of which is the coronavirus that swept the world with speed of lighting. As Dr Paul Salem points out in his foreword to Dr Habib’s book contending theories in International Relations, “Until we can make serious progress in understanding this world, comprehending the rules by which it works, and developing principles within which to organize our coexistence, we will live in mortal peril.  And if today’s world continues, unthinkingly, along the path it is now on, it is probable that the human species, after hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, will extinguish itself.”.

 

 Let’s have an insightful search for creative ideas and balanced research that would generate a deep dialogue to build on for a creative vision for a just and comprehensive peace, encapsulating international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity of nation states. Our vision is how to preserve the Arab East- the Middle East- which lies at the centre of the world, and how to maintain the Arab identity and preserve the distinctive features of the humanity of man in co-existence, away from double standards and without ignoring the elephant in the room.

 

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Siasat al-Insaf: The Middle Eastern Review

 

‘Siasat-al-Insaf’, the ‘Politics of Justice’ is the pioneering journal issue for the Centre of Middle East Studies. Justice imbibes the sole essence of permanence in all the dislodging socio-political and economic contentions that thunder across the region. Justice and politics in the Middle East seem worlds apart however, through impartial opinions and distilled perspectives this journal aims to bridge that very gap between the two.


Volume I Issue I

The first Issue of the periodical, published by the Centre for Middle East Studies highlights contemporary events of importance in the region.

 

Volume I Issue II

Orientalist representations of the Middle East have always been of interest to academic scholars, activists, journalists, policymakers, and think tanks. Our aim is to engage in such current scholarly conversations that pushback, complicate, and uncomplicate our monolithic vision about Middle Eastern countries. For our next issue, we invite articles that engage in political, geographical, cultural, literary, and social conversations about the contemporary Middle East.

Volume I Issue III

This issue of Siasat al-Insaf brings you an in-depth critical analysis of ongoing and historical issues of the Middle East and tries to counter the hegemonic-absolutism of Western perspectives that have for so long defined and constructed the ‘Oriental,’ offering readers a fresh perspective and lens to understand and gauge important truths of the region, its politics, cultures, and its people. This issue also brings to you an academic guide on the technique and details of conducting political discourse analysis as an important tool of study in international relations and political science.

The goal of the Centre for Middle East Studies is to provide analysis that is both nuanced in its scope and neutral in its analysis. In this, the centre has launched a new initiative aimed at untangling the complexity of the Middle East and essentially mirroring the realities of the region as they now stand. Contribution to Compendium is made by our Researchers and Research Associates.

 

Compendium: Volume 1

The CMES Blog is an initiative that has been launched with the goal of “Rationalising the Irrational in the Middle East.” In this, CMES host a number of academics, writers, scholars and contributors whose pieces not only provide an update on the ever-evolving political, economic and socio-cultural currents in the region but also impart an independent and impartial critical lens to the realities of the region. More opinionated than our other publications, the blog imparts analysis, through op-eds, reviews and commentaries.

 

CMES Blog  https://cmesjsia.wixsite.com/cmes/blog

The Centre for Middle East Studies also hosts a number of public lectures, conferences, seminars and webinars by academicians, scholars and dignitaries who are either from the region or are experts on the Middle East.

 

Conferences

 

POSSIBILITIES OF WAR AND THE PROSPECTS FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

A Lecture by the Former Prime Minister of Lebanon (28th February 2020)

 

STRENGTHENING INDIA-SYRIA RELATIONS AND FUTURE OF THE SYRIAN CRISIS

Interaction with the Head of the Higher Education of the ruling BAATH party Syria (15 November 2019)

 

INDIA – RUSSIA STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

Interaction with the Charge d’Affairs of Russia to India (14th October 2019)

 

MAJOR CHALLENGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA

A Lecture by Ambassador Sanjiv Arora, Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, India (15 October 2019)

 

AFGHANISTAN POST 9/11

A Lecture by the Charge d’Affairs of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, New Delhi (26 September 2019)

Researchers

The Centre for Middle East Studies provides opportunities to students who are enrolled in a postgraduate program or higher at the O.P. Jindal Global (Institution of Eminence Deemed To Be University) to become researchers at CMES. The responsibilities shall include –

  • Contribution in research and writing towards ongoing research projects
  • Additional contribution towards the work of the editorial team for the CMES Journal (Individuals are also requested to submit articles for publication to the same)
  • Any additional work as decided by the Director or Coordinators of the Centre which can include and are not limited to editing the CMES journal, conducting interviews, partaking in events, etc.

 

Criteria – Individual must have an excellent command of the English language; Strong analytical and reasoning skills; and the capacity to work individually and in team settings

 

Application – One detailed CV; One-page cover letter expressing one’s reasons in wanting to join the centre; A short writing sample of around 1000 words on a topic of CONTEMPORARY relevance to the Middle East. Preferences shall be given to individuals with greater analytical skills.

 

Research Interns
CMES also provides internship opportunities for undergraduate students enrolled in JGU who are interested in critically analysing and studying the various contemporary events in the field of security studies. This is a voluntary internship that enables students to publish their research as part of joint projects or individual papers and articles. The responsibilities shall include –

  • Contribution in research and writing towards ongoing research projects.
  • Additional contribution in the form of analytical articles to the CMES blog.
  • Any additional work as decided by the Director or Coordinators of the Centre which can include and are not limited to editing the CMES journal, conducting interviews, partaking in events, etc.

 

Criteria – Student must have an excellent command of the English language; Strong analytical and reasoning skills; and the capacity to work individually and in team settings

 

Application – One detailed CV; One-page cover letter expressing one’s reasons in wanting to join the centre; A short writing sample of around 1000 words on a topic of CONTEMPORARY relevance to the Middle East. Preferences shall be given to individuals with greater analytical skills.

 

The work and contribution of Researchers as well as Research Interns shall be assessed over a period of 2 months after which she/he may officially become a part of CMES as a Research Assistant.

 

 

Social Media Managers

The Centre for Middle East Studies aims to increase its social media presence and is therefore inviting applications from students interested in contributing to the same. Students who will be able to contribute daily to the Centre’s social media pages can contact the CMES team via email. We are currently seeking 2 social media managers.

 

Administrative Assistants

The Assistants will assist the Centre coordinators in website and publication management. Administrative assistants will also assist the team in coordinating any events that the centre will organize. Students who are willing to devote time to this endeavor are invited to contact the Editorial Team via email.

 

All applications must be submitted to cmes@jgu.edu.in

Core Team

Farheen Lone

Farheen Lone

Student Coordinator and Liaison
Tamanna Dahiya

Tamanna Dahiya

Centre Coordinator and Editor in Chief
Zeus Hans Mendez

Zeus Hans Mendez

Research Coordinator and Senior Editor

Editorial Team

Tanvi Bhargava

Tanvi Bhargava

Editor
Devashish Kelkar

Devashish Kelkar

Editor
Sumedha Maheshwari

Sumedha Maheshwari

Editor
Nandini Modi

Nandini Modi

Associate Editor
Ayushman Thakur

Ayushman Thakur

Associate Editor
Maria Jovita

Maria Jovita

Associate Editor
Vini Dev

Vini Dev

Associate Editor
Aarushi Mukherjee

Aarushi Mukherjee

Associate Editor

Researchers

Himani Yadav

Himani Yadav

MADLB 2020
Jyot Shikhar Singh

Jyot Shikhar Singh

MADLB 2020
Sandra Sreevalsan

Sandra Sreevalsan

JSIA 2020
Shrishti

Shrishti

BA LLB 2016

Research Interns

Ayman Khan

Ayman Khan

BBA LLB 2019
Dhruv Nilkanth

Dhruv Nilkanth

BAGA 2020
Palak Minda

Palak Minda

BBA LLB 2018
Pradeek Krishna

Pradeek Krishna

BAGA 2020
Tanvi Asang Dani

Tanvi Asang Dani

BAGA 2019

All queries to be directed to cmes@jgu.edu.in