I work on conflict and state-building in the Middle East. I focus on the countries of West Asia/the Eastern Mediterranean: especially Syria (where I lived for five years between the late 1990s and 2012), Lebanon, and Jordan (I lived in Jordan for 18 months, spent long periods in Lebanon, and have travelled widely in the region). My next research project will look at Iraq, Kurdistan, and Turkey.
I have worked as a senior research consultant covering Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq for several international NGOs and political/security risk advisory firms, including Proximity International, Jane’s Information Group, Oxford Analytica, BBC Monitoring, and Menas Associates. I was previously Head of the Middle East & North Africa Programme at the Royal United Services Institute, a London thinktank, and have held academic positions at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and the Council for British Research in the Levant, based in Jordan and Syria. I regularly give briefings on Syrian politics at the US State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. I have provided numerous expert reports for refugee resettlement cases and have extensive broadcast experience on television and radio with the BBC World Service, BBC News 24, CNN International, and Sky News.
My academic research has been published in journals such as International Affairs, New Political Economy, Journal of Historical Sociology, and International Journal of Middle East Studies. My first book, Occupying Syria under the French Mandate: Insurgency, Space, and State Formation, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. I am currently completing my second book, titled The Nation Belongs to All: the Making of Modern Syria, which analyses the development of Syria’s politics, economics, and society from the 1800s to the present. I am also about to start work on a third book project that will rethink race, ethnicity, and identity politics in a regional arc encompassing Iraq, Kurdistan, Turkey, and North-East Syria.
I am skilled at communicating expert knowledge to non-specialist audiences and have taught classes on the comparative politics of the Middle East & North Africa, the politics of Syria, and interdisciplinary approaches to research in the Arab world at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., GU- Qatar, School of Oriental & African Studies, the London School of Economics, and the University of Exeter.
I am experienced at writing project proposals and successful grant applications for both research and institutional purposes. My own academic research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Andrew L. Mellon Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and the British Academy; my research training was funded by the AHRC and ESRC.
I have a PhD in Politics and a MA in Middle East Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and a BA (Hons) in Arabic and French from St John’s College, Oxford University.