The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many reviews, including ours, to adapt. Whereas Humanitarian Alternatives upended its editorial schedule to devote itself to the subject, the excellent Questions internationales review maintained its programme for an issue devoted to the Middle East. This is to be commended, since the “world event” that was playing out could not lead us to neglect all of the other subjects of interest which remained as relevant as ever in the world turned upside down by the virus.
The Middle East is one of those subjects, as illustrated by the recent resurgence of violence between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, that confirms – to quote Serge Sur – that the region is “a crossroad of extremes”. This special section fulfils its role, going back over the different converging contexts which make the region a composite of complexities. Our colleagues at Questions internationales are right to quote Percy Kemp who, in his 2002 novel The Boone System, wrote: “If you think you have understood the Orient, it’s because someone has explained it to you badly!”.
From Libya to Syria, by way of Kurdistan, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the authors who contributed to this issue help us to better understand this Orient which Edward Said showed did not correspond to what Westerners wanted to see in it… We will leave the reader to refer to this rich contribution, with a particular recommendation for François Frison-Roche’s article on Yemen. This CNRS researcher had already produced an excellent article on the country in our review in 2017. At the time, the conflict had been going on for two years behind closed doors, to the near-total indifference of the international community. Four years later, if this war is (somewhat) better known, Frison-Roche’s article enables us to measure how far we have come, even though the future remains uncertain.
Translated from the French by Juliet Powys