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Peer-Reviewed Articles

Rebel Governance During Covid-19: Describing and Explaining Armed Groups' Response to the Pandemic in the Middle East 

14 November 2022

UNU-WIDER - Working Paper


As COVID-19 spread worldwide, armed groups in control of territory were called to address the health emergency. However, our knowledge in this regard is limited. Specifically, it remains poorly understood why different armed groups responded to the crisis differently. Recognizing this lacuna, this paper aims to illuminate the responses that different armed groups throughout the Middle East implemented in order to address COVID-19 and to explain why armed groups responded to the pandemic as they did. After studying three examples, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, and Hamas, the paper argues that the intensity of the conflict does not account satisfactorily for variations observed in COVID-19 responses among the groups. Conversely, ultimate goals, financial resources, and governance experience contribute to explaining the observed patterns of COVID-19 response.

State Weakness, Al-Qa'ida and Rebel Governance: Yemen from the Arab Spring Until 2022

10 June 2022

Middle East Journal, Vol.76, No.1

As the Arab Spring arrived in Yemen, al-Qa'ida joined the insurgency, conquered territories, and governed them. Eleven years later, I aim to assess whether the conditions that led to the group's emergence as both insurgent and governor have changed. I argue that, while al-Qa'ida is weaker, Yemen remains deeply vulnerable with a government in exile, an ongoing civil war, and armed groups in control of extensive territory. In this context, a resurgence of al-Qa'ida cannot be excluded.

Israeli-Iranian Relations: Past Friendship, Current Hostility 

18 February 2022

Israel Affairs

With decades of multilayered close cooperation transformed into outright hostility, Iran and Israel have been trying to strengthen their strategic posture vis-à-vis each other: Israel by attacking Iranian-related targets in Syria and befriending Arab countries; Iran by supporting armed militias and terror organisations and pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. While neither state seems interested in military confrontation, miscalculations can never be fully excluded.

Rebel Governance at the Time of Covid-19: Emergencies as Opportunities for Rebel Rulers 

3 September 2020

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

As Covid-19 has spread worldwide, not only governments but also rebel rulers have had to face the crisis. Therefore, it is important to understand whether exogenous shocks pose to rebel rulers the same challenges they pose to governments. To answer this question, I will refer to the academic literature and I will study two insurgent groups that have been confronted by coronavirus – Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Taliban. Following the case studies, I will argue that while emergencies pose great challenges to governments, they provide rebel rulers with an opportunity to project themselves as more credible and legitimate rulers.

Understanding Governance by Insurgent Non-State Actors: A Multi-Dimensional Typology 

24 June 2020

Civil Wars, Vol.22, No.4

The phenomenon of governance by insurgents characterises many contexts of civil war and influences political, security, social, and economic dynamics in the original conflict zone and beyond. Therefore, understanding how different insurgents govern seems of crucial importance. However, in the existing literature no typology has been advanced that captures the multiple dimensions of rebel governance and allows to develop detailed and comparable assessments of the different patterns of rule implemented by different rebels. Considering this gap a limit to the study of insurgent governance, the present paper aims to propose a multi-dimensional typology for investigating how rebels govern.

Israeli-Saudi Relations in a Changed and Changing Middle East: Growing Cooperation?

10 October 2019

Israeli Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol.13, No.2

In the years since the so-called Arab Spring, the geopolitical and geostrategic map of the Middle East has witnessed dramatic changes. Against the backdrop of these developments, many regional powers have reconsidered their traditional policies and relations in the region. An especially interesting case is that of Israel and Saudi Arabia: Since the Arab Spring, the coordination and cooperation between Jerusalem and Riyadh have both expanded and deepened. With this observation as our point of departure, we shall investigate how new shared interests and concerns have brought about opportunities for cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, we will investigate the extent to which Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians might continue to obstruct the emergence of fully normalized bilateral relations. In order to do so, we shall examine statements by Israeli and Saudi officials and non-official reports.

Book Chapters

The Provision of Healthcare by Islamist Armed Groups: Between Sharia and Internaitonal Law


In: K. Fortin, E. Heffes (eds.), Armed Groups and International Law (Northampton: Elgar Publishing Inc., 2023)

Rebel Governance Between Ideology and Pragmatism: Al-Qaeda in Yemen in 2011-2012 and 2015-2016


In: A. Alijla, I. Fraihat (eds.), Rebel Governance in the Middle East (Palgrave MacMillan, 2023)

Quando i Terroristi Governano


In: D. Fiammenghi (ed.), L'Evoluzione del Terrorismo Islamico (Novi Ligure: Epoké, 2020)

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