Article on political violence executed in the Aleppo province during 2013

Killing the dispensables: massacres perpetrated in the villages of Eastern Aleppo Province in 2013

Author: Josepha Wessels (Malmö University)
April, 2021

British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies


In 2013, Aleppo province was engulfed in violence. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and affiliated Shi’a militias executed a campaign of massacres in the rural areas located on the eastern fringes of the province. The violence caused an exodus from this region, eventually dissipating local rural communities entirely. What can explain such extreme and brutal political violence perpetrated at a local level in the east Aleppo countryside throughout 2013? To find an answer, I analyse the personal accounts of those who witnessed the violence and YouTube videos.

Taken together, these sources provide a visceral description of the massacres—in particular the summary executions in the village of Rasm al-Nafl, as a case study of extreme violence in one of the poorest rural areas of Syria. Problematizing mono-causal sectarian explanations, I argue that a deeper non-sectarian complex of rurality and a process of subaltern othering in combination with opportunism, governmental retribution, and strategic military concern for territorial control in order to secure alternative supply routes to Aleppo, ultimately led to the eradication of life and cultural genocide in these rural areas.

Welcome to a SWEMENA Seminar on the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database!

On the 11 May 16.00-17.15 CEST, SIPRI will be hosting the next SWEMENA seminar, discussing the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. The seminar will be open to all researchers and practitioners interested in the MENA region. Make sure to register as soon as possible, as there are limited spots available.

Introduction to the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database – Trends in the MENA region.

The seminar will discuss the SIPRI Arms Transfer Database as a tool to identify trends and patterns in international arms transfers. By analyzing data on arms transfers, it will examine several case studies to investigate international arms transfers data in relation to international security and national foreign and defence policies and inter-state relations with a focus on MENA.


Alexandra Kuimova, Researcher at SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme

Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme

When: 11 May, 16.00-17.15 (CEST)

Where: Via Zoom (Link will be sent to all who register)

Registration: You register by sending an email containing name and affiliation to, no later than Sunday, 9 May. (Limited spots available)

FOI report on Algeria reaction to transnational security threats

Navigating in a complex neighbourhood: Algeria’s response to security challenges in Libya and the Sahel

Author: Alexandra Hallqvist & Bitte Hammargren

Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI)


Algeria has traditionally had a stabilising role in a conflict-torn and unstable region. At a time when Algeria faces considerable political and economic challenges at home, developments, in particular in Libya and the Sahel, have resulted in increasingly complex and transnational security threats. The purpose of the report is to provide an overview of key aspects of Algeria’s history, politics, economy, military, and recent political developments, and to increase the understanding of how Algeria responds to the instability in Libya and the Sahel.

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A report on the challenges meeting development actors in Lebanon

Lebanon’s disadvantaged face a long uphill battle

Author: Bitte Hammargren

SKL International


A report on the challenges and opportunities for donors and development actors in Lebanon, a country torn by multiple crises. The focus area is Akkar, one of Lebanon’s poorest governorates, which is also the temporary home for a large number of refugees from Syria.

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Book on conducting research in hostile environments

Safer Field Research in the Social Sciences: A Guide to Human and Digital Security in Hostile Environments

Authors: Jannis Grimm, Kevin Koehler, Ellen M. Lust, Ilyas Saliba & Isabell Schierenbeck

SAGE Publishing


Exploring the challenges and risks of social science fieldwork, this book shares best practice for conducting research in hostile environments and pragmatic advice to help you make good decisions.

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A report on Lebanon’s ‘October revolution’

Street Solidarity: A Report on Lebanon’s ‘October Revolution’

Author: Erin Cory (Malmö University)



A report from November 2019, when the revolution was at its beginning.

“The sit-ins and dance parties feel long ago indeed in the face of mounting desperation. Lebanese politics has never lent itself to neat conclusions. Modes of dissent and solidarity, too, quickly change in color and scope in Lebanon, depending on what the moment calls for. We might expect the revolution – and the protests that carry it – to continue in some form, even if only, for the moment, online.”

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UI Brief: Economic transition in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Economic Diversification and the Youth Population in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia: Double Dividend or Double Jeopardy?

Author: Jeanine Schriemer (The Swedish Institute of International Affairs)
March, 2021

The Swedish Institute of International Affairs


Oil has shaped the social contract between the state and its citizens, how will the transition to a more diverse economy affect state-society relations?

This UI Brief aim to explore the economic transitions of two monarchies facing urgent pressure to reform, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, in order to shed light on the main drivers of and obstacles to transition.