• The next NW5C Middle East and North African Studies workshop took place at Reed College on November 6-7, 2015.  The agenda is here.
  • Professor Noah Salomon on “Escaping the Islamic State: Reflections on Sudan at a Crossroads”


  • 4:40 on Nov. 30 in Psychology 105 at Reed College
  • Can the problems that the political ideal of the Islamic state raises be transcended, either in terms of its coherence as an Islamic political project or its difficult fit with international human rights norms? In the second decade of the 21st century, Sudanese intellectuals and average folk alike are asking this question after a lengthy period of experimenting with such a political form. This talk traces two distinct attempts to escape the quagmires of Sudan’s Islamic state project: one, Sudanese students who have left Sudan’s Islamic state to join ISIS, a political movement that rejects the modern nation-state as a container for Islamic political ambitions; and, two, South Sudan’s attempt to escape the human rights challenges of the Islamic state through secession and the establishment of a secular polity. While the first group tries to escape the political form of the state and the compromises to its vision of Islam it requires, the second tries to escape the state’s religious character as a means of fulfilling political equality. Together we will explore the reasons for the difficulties each has experienced in achieving either goal.


  • Rebecca Hersman on “Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria: How Did We Get Here and Where Do We Go?”
  • Wednesday, September 16 7 p.m., Vollum lecture hall

    Rebecca Hersman is director of the Project on Nuclear Issues and senior adviser for the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Hersman joined CSIS in April 2015 from the Department of Defense (DoD), where she served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In this capacity, she led DoD policy and strategy to prevent WMD proliferation and use, reduce and eliminate WMD risks, and respond to WMD dangers. Hersman was a key leader on issues ranging from the nuclear security summit and the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons to the global health security agenda. Hersman previously held the positions of senior research fellow with the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction at the National Defense University, international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for policy.

  • Nawzad Othman on Agony & Hope in the Middle East. 

Tuesday, September 8, 12 pm  World Affairs Council of Oregon Register for this Event »

ISIS. Sectarian violence. Proxy war in Yemen. The Iran nuclear negotiations. Conflict in Syria and Iraq. Refugee crises. The future of the Saudi empire. What to make of so much turmoil? No stranger to turmoil, the Middle East is experiencing the most significant and seismic transformations since World War I. How do we make sense of all the complexities, challenges and tragedies?  What is the future of human and minority rights, rule of law, educational opportunity and free press? Is there hope in all the chaos?