The Dynamics of Power in the Middle East Program (Middle East Program) aims at developing a body of transdisciplinary and field-based expertise to address questions of changes and dynamics of power in the Middle East region. Considering the growing demand for accurate information, foresight analysis, and the colossal amount of inconsistent data available to the public, we put pride into promoting in-depth knowledge with original approaches that abide by the most rigorous criteria of scientific research. The first characteristic of our researchers lies in years of direct contact with the societies and the territories they study. Three research focuses are at the foundation of its scientific identity: the current reconfigurations of authoritarian practices, armed conflicts, and human migration.


Publishing research on current socio-political issues in the Middle East and North Africa, described in a clear and accessible style and respecting the three principles of intellectual independence, scientific rigor and linguistic and field expertise


In order to promote in-depth discussions between academics, experts and decision-makers working in the MENA region we gather international specialists and researchers around an issue pertaining to our areas of research.


Conducted by our researchers, Middle East Talks are monthly interviews with local researchers or experts that aim at shedding light on undebated issues and offering an informed perspective to the public debate.

If you would like to join this network, please send your contact details and main research topics by email.

Our focus

Although the 2011 historic sequence has made it clear that authoritarianism can be contested and shaken, it remains a constant component of political life in contemporary Middle Eastern and North African countries. Our program seeks to account for the many current reformulations the region is undergoing. In order to renew a long tradition of the comparative study of political regimes, Noria takes a comprehensive multi-scale approach to authoritarian dynamics by exploring state and institutional practices and analyzing its dovetail with the social arena.

The dramatic development of armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa calls for social scientists to adopt new methodological and conceptual approaches to understanding these extreme situations. Combining micro and macro analyses, our program carefully studies the re-formulation of political orders across the region. Beyond the political life that remains at the core of our expertise, we also pay special interest to the profound changes that affect social, economical, and cultural practices. Finally, we explore the attempts to challenge monopolies of the state and their resulting rival institutions and new rationalities that often privilege sectarian and ethnic normative orders.

From 2011 hitherto, revolutionary movements, civil wars, or sovereignty disputes provoked by non-state armed groups gave rise to a massive displacement of populations. We aim at unfolding the diversity of migratory flows, to further our grasp on refugees’ experience and the relevance of policies implemented by domestic or international organizations, in response to their forced migrations. This focus enables further investigations that will tackle the demographic, political, and social transformations at work in host countries (Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, etc.). Finally, the magnitude of the refugee crisis in the region requires focusing on local context of integration, an angle that will also put into question the new regional order.

Middle East Papers

Deux ans après la prise de Mossoul par l’État islamique :  quelles évolutions politiques et sociales en Irak ?

Deux ans après la prise de Mossoul par l’État islamique : quelles évolutions politiques et sociales en Irak ?

Iraq From the Ground - Introduction Pour revenir au dossier complet en anglais, cliquez ici. Le 7 juin 2016, Noria organisait en partenariat avec Amnesty International France une conférence dédiée à l’Irak. Celle-ci posait la question suivante : "Deux ans après la...

Exiled Between Two Authoritarianisms: the Sudanese Exiled in Cairo, from Hosni Mubarak to Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

A portrait made up of both Hosni Mubarak and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's faces, erected since July 3, 2013, by the opponents to the reestablishment of a military regime. They protest against the likeness between the fallen dictator and the incumbent one. © Amr Abdallah...

The Iraqi Crisis: A Return on Social Trajectories

Image : Kirkuk bazaar - April 2013 - AQ / Noria Research © Pour consulter cet article en français, cliquez ici    This piece is part of a series of interviews from Noria's researchers' various fields, to which we might consider devoting a full new section, should...

The Sunni Revolution and the Outburst of Community Divisions in Iraq

(Edouard Beau – Friday prayer during Sunni anti-government protests, from Al-Razak mosque, Samarra, Iraq - February 2013 / Noria Research ©) This analysis is based on fieldwork conducted in Northern Iraq ovef the course of Fall 2014, with the support of the WAFAW...

Sectarian Strategies, National Settings and the War Economy in Syria and Iraq

Sectarian Strategies, National Settings and the War Economy in Syria and Iraq

Adam BACZKO, Robin BEAUMONT, Arthur QUESNAY Maps by Xavier HOUDOY These maps were designed by Xavier Houdoy for Noria, with the support of the European Research Council-funded program WAFAW. They were based on data gathered by Adam Baczko, Robin Beaumont, Felix...

Testimony of General Ahmed Tlass on the Syrian Regime and the Repression

A propaganda poster in Damascus. At the heart of the regime's rhetoric lies the reference to its role in the Palestinian struggle. (© François Burgat, 2010) Born in 1961 in the town of Rastan between Homs and Hama, General Ahmed Tlass graduated from the Police Academy...

Between Al Qaeda and the Syrian regime: A Path Out of the Current Crisis

This report is the result of two weeks of field research in the governorate of Aleppo and three weeks of interviews all along the Turkish-Syrian border. This research is a follow-up on previous fieldwork in December 2012-January 2013 in northern Syria. All together,...


Upcoming Events

June 7, 2016: First MENA Annual Conference

Two years after the conquest of Mosul by ISIS, the conference will explore the dynamics of the second Iraqi civil war. In partnership with Amnesty International (, this event will bring together researchers with a strong background in fieldwork, to aim at unfolding the social and political dynamics of a conflict too often analyzed from a military standpoint.

Venue: La Belleviloise, 19-21 Rue Boyer, 75020 Paris

 Download the program


Robin Beaumont


Robin Beaumont is a PhD candidate in Political Studies at the Paris-based École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). A former student at École Normale Supérieure (ENS, Paris), he joined the European Research Council-funded program WAFAW in 2014, and is currently based in Amman, Jordan, as an associate to the French Institute for Near Eastern Studies (Ifpo). His research explores the reconfigurations of Shia political authority in post-2003 Iraq through a study of the structure of, and relationships between, the religious field (marja‘iyya), the Iraqi State, and the various Shia militias.

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Arthur Quesnay


Arthur Quesnay is a PhD candidate in Political Science and Junior Research Fellow at the ERC-funded CivilWars program at the Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1). He was previously a Fellow at the Institut français du Proche-Orient (IFPO). His doctoral thesis focuses on sectarian conflicts in Northern Iraq, where he conducted extensive fieldwork since 2009. He has also conducted parallel fieldwork in Libya (2011-2012) and Syria (2012-2013) with insurgent groups.

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Yohanan Benhaïm

Research Fellow

Yohanan Benhaim is currently enrolled in a PhD program at Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne University. He is based at the French Institute of Anatolian Studies (IFEA) in Istanbul which granted him an academic scholarship. He holds a Bachelor in History and Political Science from the Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne University, a Master’s degree in International Security from Sciences Po Paris and a Master’s degree in History of International Relations from Paris 1 Panthéon – Sorbonne University. His Master’s thesis was on the relations between Turkey and Central Asia during the 1990’s and he studied at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.

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Clément Deshayes

Research Fellow

Clément Deshayes is a PhD candidate in Political Anthropology/Sociology at Paris 8 Saint Denis University, which granted him a full 3-year scholarship. After working for a year and a half for CEDEJ in Khartoum (2013-2015) he engaged in a PhD on emerging political protest movements of the political order in urban areas in Sudan. Based on an ethnographic approach, this research focuses particularly on the political practices of reappropriation and occupation of a rapidly evolving and closely monitored urban space. Clement Deshayes also conducted research and / or lived in various countries in the region (Egypt and Lebanon in particular).

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Xavier Guignard

Research Fellow

Xavier Guignard is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Paris Pantheon SorbonneUniversity, where he is finishing a thesis on the emergence of a Palestinian diplomacy. His research focuses on institution building and policy making in a colonial and authoritarian context. In 2012 and 2013, he was based at the Institut français du Proche Orient (Ifpo) in Palestine as a recipient of a full PhD scholarship. In 2014, he was appointed Visiting Assistant Professor at Al-Quds Bard Honors College (Abu Dis, Palestine). In 2015, he joined the WAFAW Project (When Authoritarianism Fails in the Arab World, ERC), and was a part-time lecturer at Sciences Po Paris. Since 2010, he conducted extensive fieldwork in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. He now lives between Paris and Amman.

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Maaï Youssef

Research Fellow

Maaï Youssef is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Pantheon Sorbonne University (Paris 1).Her research explores the effects of political contexts on Syrian exiles in Egypt and Turkey, along with political activism and the building of transnational networks in exile within authoritarian contexts. Egyptian public policies towards migrants and refugees provides her with an original material to question the many phases of the Egyptian political transition, and particularly its authoritarian turn since July 2013. Based on a ethnographic approach, her research focuses on local dynamics and daily routines of Syrians migrant populations. Maaï Youssef has been conducted fieldwork in Egypt, Sudan, Turkey and Iraq.

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