Vol 5, No. 1 (Trinity 2021)

Editors’ Foreword

Dear reader,
We are proud to present to you the fifth edition of the Oxford Middle East Review (OMER). OMER was founded in 2016 at St Antony’s College, Oxford, by two Middle Eastern Studies students, who sought to create an engaging forum for students and aspiring scholars to critically discuss issues pertaining to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. After five years, the journal now counts fifteen team members and received a record number of submissions for this volume. 

This year’s issue of OMER is unique as it has been developed almost entirely through a long series of lockdowns. It is a testament to both our team of editors and copy editors and all the wonderful submissions we have received that we can deliver yet another thoughtful and stimulating issue, even in such testing times. 

This volume’s theme is revolution, with a capital ‘R’ or without. We invited scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds to interpret this theme creatively. The result is three fascinating research articles and three thought-provoking policy pieces, analysing contemporary and historical revolutionary movements and politics in Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. 

In anthropology, revolutions have been framed as moments of transition, which involve a loosening of social normativity and the entrance into a stage of liminality. In this new realm, social normativity dissolves and agency is foregrounded, creating new and exciting potentialities. In many ways, the pandemic has propelled the world, including OMER, into this liminal space. Whilst this has, at times, been incredibly difficult, it has also been an incredibly productive stage in OMER’s journey. With submissions from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, we have expanded our base whilst also cementing other newer aspects of the journal, such as the policy section. Whilst liminality offers little certainty and requires considerable flexibility and resilience, it seems clear that OMER, despite the challenges we faced, is growing thanks to the committed support of the fabulous and committed group of students that wants to work for the journal, as well as the inspiring community of academics from around the world who constantly push Middle Eastern Studies to new and exciting frontiers.

The Managing Editors
Frederike Brockhoven
Tom Coyne

Contributing Editors

Juliet O’Brien, Ryan Musto, Sawsene Nejjar, Lina Volin, Felix Walker, Sara Elbanna, Alexandra Boothroyd, Francesca Vawdrey, Easa Saad, Nilsu Celikel, Piotr Schulkes, Mathew Madain


Non-Hierarchical Revolution: Grassroots Politics in the First Palestinian Intifada
Jack McGinn

From Protest, to Committee, to Consensus: Co-optation of the 2011 Revolutionary Movement in Yemen
Aylin Junga

Syria’s Experience with Post-Totalitarianism: The Need for Havelian Pre-Political Thinking
Marwan Safar Jalani


Understanding the cause of Iraq’s ‘October Revolution’ during the Adil Abdul-Mahdi administration
Zainab Mehdi

The contentious life of Basij revolutionary politics in poor neighbourhoods of Iran
Ahmad Moradi

Gendering the Revolution: Analysing Women’s Role in Sudan’s Revolutionary Transition
Miriam Aitken