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The Islamist Moment in the Middle East: Domestic and Geostrategic Implications


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Editor's note: We apologise for the poor audio quality of this recording.

Speaker(s): Professor Fawaz Gerges
Chair: Professor Rosemary Hollis

Recorded on 13 February 2012 in New Theatre, East Building.

Islamist parties from Tunisia to Morocco to Egypt, and most likely in Libya when elections take place soon, have won majorities in Parliaments. After decades of being persecuted and outlawed, religious-based activists will take ownership of the seats of power in the Arab heartland. What does the rise of Islamists to power mean to the future of the Middle East and the region's international relations? How will Islamists coming to power affect transition from authoritarianism to pluralism, including institution-building, civil-military dynamics, civil society, and rights of minorities? To what extent will the Islamist moment transform the geostrategic architecture of the Middle East, especially the Arab-Israeli conflict and the new Cold War between the Saudi-led alliance and the Iranian coalition? How will the Western powers respond to the rise of Islamist-led governments, and will both camps dust off a forgotten chapter of co-existence and cooperation during the Cold War? Fawaz Gerges, who has researched religiously-based social movements for more than two decades, will reflect on the causes and implications of the new Islamist moment in the Middle East.

Fawaz A. Gerges is a Professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He also holds the Emirates Chair of the Contemporary Middle East and is the Director of the Middle East Centre at LSE.

He earned a doctorate from Oxford University and M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Gerges has taught at Oxford, Harvard, and Columbia, and was a research scholar at Princeton and was a chairholder (the Christian A. Johnson Chair in Middle Eastern Studies and International Affairs) at Sarah Lawrence College, New York.

His special interests include Islam and the political process, social movements, including mainstream Islamist movements and jihadist groups (like the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda), Arab politics and Muslim politics in the 20th century, the international relations of the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli conflict, state and society in the Middle East, American foreign policy towards the Muslim world, the modern history of the Middle East, history of conflict, diplomacy and foreign policy, and historical sociology.

Gerges is author of three recently acclaimed books: The Rise and Fall of Al Qaeda: What American and Western Politicians Don't Want You to Know? (Oxford University Press, 2011); Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy (Harcourt Press, 2007), and The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (Cambridge University Press, 2005). The Washington Post selected The Far Enemy as one of the best 15 books published in the field. Journey of the Jihadist was on the best-selling list of Barnes and Nobles and Foreign Affairs Magazine for several months.

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