Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




The Balkans and the Middle East: Contrasts and Parallels
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This event is online only.

Please join the Harriman Institute for The Balkans and the Middle East: Contrasts and Parallels. Moderated by Tanya Domi (Harriman Institute).

The Harriman Institute is delighted to convene a discussion with some of the top analysts who have researched and worked on the Middle East and Balkan regions. This is a rare discussion that is often never addressed in a public forum about the parallels and comparisons between the Middle East and the Balkans. Both regions are dominated by persistent “frozen conflicts” that are centered around ethnicity and religious identities and their requisite political and civil affiliations. These regions are also engaged in power international relations that include partnerships between and with the United States, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Israel, now post elections with the return of a right-wing Bibi Netanyahu to government and Serbia lled by autocrat Aleksandar Vucic who persists in illiberal politics are two of most dominant personalities in either region. Iran has been in turmoil with the most significant push back since the revolutionary guard uprising in the late 1970s by compulsory hijab wearing of women citizens who have continued to protest the government crackdown on women for nearly two months that intersects with similar, echoes in the Balkans about gender based sexual violence and femicide. We will probe and discuss these issues and more in what portends to be a fascinating discussion.



Reuf Bajrović, Vice President at the US-Europe Alliance in Washington DC; Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute

Dahlia Schiendin, Political analyst and a public opinion expert

Kurt Bassuener, Co-founder and Senior Associate of the Democratization Policy Council

Harun Karčić, Journalist and political analyst

Dijana Mujkanović, Ph.D. Candidate at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh; Visiting Research Fellow at the Post-Conflict Research Center in Sarajevo and the Psychology of Intergroup Conflict and Reconciliation Lab (PIRC) at the Hebrew University in Israel

Moderated by Tanya Domi, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia SIPA; Harriman Institute Associated Faculty



Dahlia Scheindlin is a political analyst and a public opinion expert. She has advised political, social and referendum campaigns in over fifteen countries including Israel where she is based, and she has particular expertise in the Balkans. Her academic work focuses on unrecognized states in ethno-nationalist conflicts and comparative conflict analysis, she is a policy fellow at The Century Foundation and a founding writer at +972 Magazine.



Kurt Bassuener (@KurtBassuener) is a co-founder and senior associate of the Democratization Policy Council, a Berlin-based think-tank established in 2005. His received his PhD in 2021 from the University of St. Andrews’ Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, after successfully defending his dissertation, “Peace Cartels: Internationally Brokered Power-Sharing and Perpetual Oligarchy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia.” Kurt is co-author of the collected volume Sell Out, Tune Out, Get Out, or Freak Out? Understanding Corruption, State Capture, Radicalization, Pacification, Resilience, and Emigration in Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia, a collaborative project of DPC and Eurothink, supported by USAID.  He is also co-author and research director for the Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Development Support, a project of the Community of Democracies. He lived for eleven years in Sarajevo, starting in 2005 as a strategist for then-High Representative Paddy Ashdown. 


Reuf Bajrović (@ReufBajrovic) is the Vice President at the US-Europe Alliance in Washington, DC and a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Previously, he served as president of the Emerging Democracies Institute in Washington, DC, and president of the Civic Alliance political party in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. Bajrovic served as the Minister of Energy, Industry and Mining of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he oversaw a portfolio of $2 billion. He has served as consultant and advisor in over a dozen countries to political parties, private foundations and development agencies. Mr. Bajrovic’s op-eds and feature articles have appeared in Die Zeit, The American Interest, Just Security, The National Interest, Haaretz, Tampa Bay Times, El Pais, and other online and print media in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.  He is a frequent commentator for major international media.


Dijana Mujkanović is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Post-Conflict Research Center in Sarajevo and the Psychology of Intergroup Conflict and Reconciliation Lab (PIRC) at the Hebrew University in Israel. Her research centers around cross-ethnic relationships in ethnically polarized settings with focus on the Mediterranean region and, particularly, Israel and Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is a trained mixed-method scholar who places great emphasis on translating research knowledge into policy and practice. Before joining GSPIA, Dijana worked with various grassroots and international organizations in the sphere of civil and human rights advocacy, specifically as they relate to refugees, indigenous populations, and other marginalized communities.


Dr. Harun Karčić is a journalist and political analyst covering the Balkans. Over the past decade, he has authored numerous articles on geopolitics and religion, particularly Islam, in the post-communist Balkans. He also writes about the role played by foreign powers including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey. His scope has more recently expanded to include China and Russia as well. He also regularly reports on Muslim minorities in Europe and rising right-wing nationalism.



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