Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies

The Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies (MECACS) promotes cross-disciplinary education and research through the provision of fora and venues to academics and practitioners of History, International Relations, Social Anthropology and Film Studies. The Institute is a means through which to promote a wider knowledge of these locales and to understand their importance to their respective disciplines.

Originally a joint initiative between the Schools of History and International Relations, the Institute now also includes Social Anthropology and Film Studies.

MECACS encourages and organises:

Research Associates

Dr Larissa Alles

Ahmed Fawaz

Dr Fawaz attained his PhD in International Relations from the University of St Andrews, the UK in 2011. Currently, he is an associate professor in political science at Cairo University, Egypt. He earned his BA and Master’s Degree in Political Science from Cairo University, and his Master’s dissertation was published (in Arabic) in a book titled The State and the Ethnic Groups: A comparative study of the Russian policy towards Chechnya and Tatarstan [1991-2000], published by Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in 2005. He wrote articles on minorities such as Kurds, Chechen, Abkhaz, and Tatar, and topics such as The Muslims in Russia, political Islam, social movements, violence and social media platforms, and transitional justice.


  • Ahmed Fawaz, Opportunity, Identity, and Resources in Ethnic Mobilization: The Iraqi Kurds and the Abkhaz of Georgia (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017). 
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez, Addawlah wa Al-Jama’at Al-Erqyyah: Derasah Moqaranah li Assyassah Arrussiyah tejah Ashishan wa Tatarstan (1991-2000) (The State and the Ethnic Groups: A comparative study of the Russian policy towards Chechnya and Tatarstan [1991-2000]), (Cairo: Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, 2005).

Articles or Chapters in books or online

  • Ahmed Abdel-Hafez Fawaz, “The Caucasus after a quarter century of the dissolution of the USSR: The map of Powers and Reactions, Nazarat (January 2017), Civilization Center for Political Studies, available online.
  • Ahmed Abdel-Hafez Fawaz, “The Muslims in Russia: between historical legacy and contemporary problematics,” Contemporary Arab Affairs, Vol. 9, No. 3 (July 2016), pp. 365-382. DOI: 10.1080/17550912.2016.1201939
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez Fawaz, “The Political Utility of Tribe in Iraq: from Monarchy to Post-Saddam,” Al-Mustaqbal Al-Arabi Journal (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, August 2016), pp. 28-50. 
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez Fawaz, “Identity Violence and Political Opportunity in Iraq,” [In Arabic] Arab Journal of Political Science (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, Summer-Summer/Fall 2015), pp. 131-150.
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez Fawaz, “The Muslims in Russia: between historical legacy and contemporary problematics,” [In Arabic] Al-Mustaqbal Al-Arabi Journal (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, December 2015), pp. 77-96.
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez Fawaz, "Rumours and Psychological Warfare from the Ancient Ages to Social Networking Sites," [In Arabic] in Sacred Violence and Social Media Platforms (Dubai: Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre, March 2015), pp. 9-44.
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez Fawaz, "Sufism and Salafism in Russia," [In Arabic] in Islam in Russia: History, Horizons, and Concerns (Dubai: Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre, December 2013), pp. 59-86.
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez Fawaz, "The Big Winner: The Kurdish Challenge to the Regional Structure after the Arab Spring," [In Arabic] Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya 193 (July 2013).
  • Ahmed Abdel Hafez Fawaz, The Islamic Movement in Tatarstan and Abkhazia, in [In Arabic] Al Mesbar Monthly Book, Vol. 62, February 2012 (Dubai: Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre), pp. 215-241.

Dr Ruth Hanau Santini

Ruth Hanau Santini, Research Associate

Ruth Hanau Santini is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations at Università L'Orientale in Naples. Her research interests cover European foreign policy, US and EU democracy and security assistance policies, Middle East and North African politics, security and citizenship. She has been Resident Visiting Fellow at The Brookings Institution, Associate Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS Europe in Bologna, and at SWP in Berlin and CEPS in Brussels. She has coordinated an international research project, EUSPRING, on Citizenship policies sine the Arab Awakening in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, and is currently Principal Investigator of a research project on contentious politics in the MENA region.

She has a book on "Limited statehood in Post-revolutionary Tunisia. Citizenship, economy and security", coming out in April 2018 with Palgrave.

Her most recent publications include:

  • "Security Assistance in a Post-Interventionist Era: the impact on hybrid political orders in Tunisia and Lebanon", with Simone Tholens, Small Wars and Insurgencies, April 2018.
  • "A New Regional Cold War in the Middle East and North Africa: Regional Security Complex Theory Revisited", The International Spectator, November 2017.
  • "Between hierarchy and heterarchy: Post Arab uprisings’ civil-military relations and the Arab state" with Francesco N. Moro, Mediterranean Politics, October 2017.
  • "The EU and Its Southern Neighbors: A Fuzzy Model of Citizenship Promotion?" in: Nils A. Butenschøn and Roel Meijer (editors), The Middle East in transition: the centrality of citizenship, Edward Elgar, 2018.

Dr Marat Iliyasov

Dr Marat Iliyasov was born in the small Chechen town of Samashki. He gained his first degree in Political Science and International Relations from the Vilnius University in Lithuania in 2002. He continued his education in the same field and obtained his Master’s degree in the next two years.

For a number of years he worked as a journalist for several Lithuanian media outlets. In 2011 he joined the newly introduced Masters program in the Caucasus Studies at Ilia State University (Georgia). After successful completion in 2013, he began his PhD at the University of St Andrews and obtained his doctorate in 2017.

He has authored several articles on Chechen identity and demography in regards to the last Russo-Chechen wars. His further research uses a framework of ontological security analyzing possible vectors of post-war developments in political sphere. He also investigates post-war remembering and forgetting in Chechnya, which is related to the politics of identity. His work is situated at the crossroads of several disciplines.

Peer-reviewed articles

Journal article

  •  "Instability in the North Caucasus: Reasons, Factors, and Implications." The Caucasus and Globalization 6, no. 3, (2012): 48-58.

Book Chapters 

  • "Odds and Peculiarities of Family Life in the Caucasus" [Kaukazo tautų šeimos strukūra ir jos ypatūmai]. InSipaviciene, Audra, and Rita Augutiene (eds.). Handbook for Social Workers. Vilnius: Baltijos kopija, 2013: 99-125.
  • "Models of Behaviour and Islam in Chechen Society" [Elgesio modeliai ir islamas čečėnų visuomenėje]. InSipaviciene, Audra, and Rita Augutiene (eds.). Handbook for Social Workers. Vilnius: Baltijos kopija, 2008: 35-48.
  • "The Impact of the Regional Organisations to the Dis/Integration of the CIS" [Regioninių-sektorinių organizacijų poveikis NVS erdvės (dez)integracijos tendencijoms]. In Motieka, Egidijus (ed.). Nepriklausomų valstybių sandraugos raidos tendencijos: integraciją skatinantys ir ribojantys veiksniai [CIS: Factors Restraining and Stimulating Integration and Development]. Vilnius: University Press, 2007: 35-69.

Dr Nina Lutterjohann

Dr Roger McDermott

Roger N. McDermott is Senior Fellow in Eurasian Military Studies, The Jamestown Foundation, Washington DC and Senior International Research Fellow for the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.  He is also Non-Resident Research Fellow, International Centre for Defence and Security in Tallinn.

McDermott is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Russian Law & Politics, Central Asia and the Caucasus and the scientific board of the Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies. He specializes in Russian and Central Asian defence and security issues. His interests in Russia’s defence and security developments are mainly in the areas of defence reform, force structure, training, strategic exercises, military theory, perspectives on future warfare, planning and combat capability and readiness, as well as operational analysis.

Dr Aliya Tskhay

Aliya Tskhay holds a PhD in International Relations from University of St Andrews, United Kingdom. Dr Tskhay's areas of specialization are energy policies in the Caspian region and identity politics in Central Asia.

She currently works on a book on implementation and internalization of international norms, on the example of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementation in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Norway. Also, she's involved in policy-related and consultancy work for international organizations and national governments on issues related to Central Asian region and security in wider Europe.

Dr Elena Zhirukhina