Soraya Hamdan

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My interest in the complex and often violent history of the Middle East comes from my own experiences growing up; I was in Beirut in 2006 when the war between Israel and Lebanon broke out.  

This was why I chose to undertake a Master's degree in International Relations at NYU, concentrating on Middle Eastern Studies, and notably, the question of conflict resolution and crisis management in the Lebanon-Palestine-Israel axis. I have been looking, and continue to look for ways to better understand the conflict, sometimes this means studying theoretical concepts of war, and sometimes it means simply listening to the voices of those who have lived through it.

Lebanon is in my view a uniquely interesting place for studying conflict (and solutions to conflict) because it faces so many challenges both internal and external. Inside the country there internal fissures based on clan and religion, and outside, it is unlucky enough to have some powerful and aggressive neighbours. Matters are further complicated by decision by global superpowers, USA and USSR and regional major powers, recently Saudi Arabia and Iran to play out their rivalries in Lebanon.

 I’m particularly interested in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon because although it was a relatively short war it led to a long term deterioration of Israeli-Lebanese relations. It is a classic case of a ‘tactical’ military intervention leading to long term and unintended consequences for both governments, and to far too much suffering for ordinary people.

 And this led me to Parallel Histories. Through my research into the multiple narratives and perspectives on what happened in 1982 I hope first to understand the underlying dynamics that created a situation where conflict could and did break out, and second, perhaps to get a handle on what a successful conflict resolution process would need to look like.