James ShiresDec 9, 2021
The Politics of Cybersecurity in the Middle East
How has “cybersecurity” become a catch-all for everything that touches our digital world? In his new book, The Politics of Cybersecurity in the Middle East (Hurst, 2021), Dr. James Shires shows how myriad actors have exploited the prominent yet esoteric nature of the field, appropriating its symbolic power to serve their own interests. In the process, cybersecurity has grown to incorporate a series of seemingly distinct practices.
An Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at the University of Leiden, Dr. Shires explores four discursive spaces where the language of cybersecurity permeates: cybersecurity as interstate digital conflict, cybersecurity as the protection of human rights, cybersecurity as domestic information control, and cybersecurity as the prevention of foreign interference. Through a close examination of each of these spaces within the Middle East, Dr. Shires deconstructs how various actors disguised value-laden arguments as technological imperatives—and how they reacted when they met resistance from skeptics. He concludes that politics, as much as the essentials of technology, often determines the scope and nature of cybersecurity.
John Sakellariadis is a 2021-2022 Fulbright US Student Research Grantee. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia and a bachelor’s degree in History & Literature from Harvard University.