I love it when someone claims to be an expert on Middle Eastern AND North African affairs. And it’s usually Western-based “scholars” who like to carry that title. There’s no way to cover that whole entire region, its history, politics, and economy within one curriculum. Impossible.
Those who study the Middle East often forget about North Africa. Those who study North Africa often forget about the Middle East. You’ve got the Maghreb, then the Levant, the Gulf, Egypt is entirely on its own. After a few years, you could probably gain a very basic and general understanding, but there’s no way, NO WAY, you can master the region in its entirety EXTENSIVELY.
The gods in the field are those with a focus on a specific topic in a specific country. Like, okay, I don’t expect to refer to Lila Abu-Lughod for an analysis of the 1990’s counter-revolution in Algeria. And I probably won’t refer to Amel Boubekeur for an extensive breakdown of Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations.
If you begin reading something written by someone claiming to be an expert on all things Middle Eastern and North African, after you finish reading that article on the Washington Post, NYTimes, or Foreign Policy, it’d probably wise to refer to an academic source written by someone who specializes in that specific topic and country afterwards.
Let’s all send this to Thomas Friedman.