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  • Author: Abdullah Al-Arian
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Prof. Abdullah Al-Arian discusses how Islamist movements have historically viewed diplomacy as important to their activist missions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Diplomacy, Politics, History, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Yezid Sayigh
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Egyptian military accounts for far less of the national economy than is commonly believed, but its takeover in 2013 and the subsequent rise of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have transformed its role in both scope and scale and turned it into an autonomous actor that can reshape markets and influence government policy setting and investment strategies. The military delivers massive infrastructure projects, produces consumer goods ranging from food to household appliances, manufactures industrial chemicals and transport equipment, and imports basic commodities for civilian markets. It has expanded into new sectors as diverse as gold prospecting, steel production, and managing religious endowments and pilgrimage. In parallel, thousands of retired senior officers benefit from the military’s powerful political influence to occupy senior positions throughout the state’s civilian apparatus and public sector companies, complementing the formal military economy while benefiting themselves. The military boasts of superior managerial skills and technological advances and claims to act as a developmental spearhead, but its role comes at a high cost. It has replicated the rentierism of Egypt’s political economy, benefiting like its civilian counterparts (in both the public and private business sectors) from an environment in which legal permissibility, bureaucratic complexity, and discretionary powers allow considerable space for predation and corruption. At best, the military makes good engineers, but bad economists: the massive surge of megaprojects in public infrastructure and housing it has managed since 2013 is generating significant amounts of dead capital and stranded assets, diverting investment and resources from other economic sectors. The military economy’s entrenchment is detrimental to Egypt’s democratic politics, however flawed. The military economy must be reversed in most sectors, rationalized in select remaining ones, and brought under unambiguous civilian control if Egypt is to resolve the chronic structural problems that impede its social and economic development, inhibit productivity and investment, subvert market dynamics, and distort private sector growth. Nor can any Egyptian government exercise efficient economic management until informal officer networks in the civilian bureaucracy, public sector companies, and local government are disabled. Rosy assessments of Egypt’s macroeconomic indicators issued by Egyptian officials and their counterparts in Western governments and international financial institutions disregard fundamental problems of low productivity and innovation, limited value added, and insufficient investment in most economic sectors. These officials may be hoping Sisi can somehow build a successful development dictatorship, which would explain why they gloss over the social consequences of his administration’s economic approach and its fierce repression of political and social freedoms and egregious human rights violations. A corollary is the faith that the military is as good an economic actor and manager as it claims to be, and that it will withdraw from the economy as the latter grows. Yet current trends suggest Sisi will remain hostage to key partners in the governing coalition, including the military leading its involvement in the economy to accelerate.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Economy, Military Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Diogo Bercito
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: MAAS alum Samer Judeh built Jordan’s first windfarm and catalyzed the country’s renewable energy industry.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Sara Nowacka
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The population of Egypt, the EU’s second-most populous neighbour after Russia, will soon exceed 100 million. The fast pace of the population growth together with the country’s inefficient economy could spur new crises caused by rising unemployment and difficult access to drinking water and food resources, and by politics. The Egyptian government, in cooperation with the EU, U.S., and UN, launched programmes aimed at reducing the fertility rate. Limiting the pace of Egypt’s population growth should weaken factors inciting further destabilisation of the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Topic: Demographics, Natural Resources, Unemployment, Population Growth
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The significance of the Eastern Mediterranean for Israel has increased in the last decade, an outcome of interlocking factors associated with the civil war in Syria, the deterioration of relations with Turkey, and discoveries of new gas fields. The effectiveness of Israeli policy, especially in energy issues, depends on strengthening relations with the states of the region, such as Egypt or Cyprus. Hence, regional cooperation will deepen, which may have a positive impact on Israel-EU relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: When Pope Francis I visited Egypt in 2017 to stimulate interfaith dialogue he walked into a religious and geopolitical minefield at the heart of which was Al-Azhar, one of the world’s oldest and foremost seats of Islamic learning. The pope’s visit took on added significance with Al-Azhar standing accused of promoting the kind of ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim Islam that potentially creates an environment conducive to breeding extremism.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion, Violent Extremism, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Mohammad AlAhmad
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: CCAS Professor Mohammad AlAhmad discusses how Arab prison literature goes beyond documenting the prison experience to serve as an instrument of resistance and to hold readers accountable for their silence.
  • Topic: Torture, Prisons/Penal Systems, Authoritarianism, Political Prisoners, Literature
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Egypt, Morocco
  • Author: Amirah El-Haddad
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: This discussion paper is available below in both Arabic (2019) and English (2018). The structural transformation of countries moves them towards more sophisticated, higher-value products. Network analysis, using the Product Space Methodology (PSM), guides countries towards leading export sectors. The identification process rests on two pillars: (1) available opportunities, that is, products in the product space that the country does not yet export which are more sophisticated than its current exports; and (2) the stock of a country’s accumulated productive knowledge and the technical capabilities that, through spillovers, enable it to produce slightly more sophisticated products. The PSM points to a tradeoff between capabilities and complexity. The methodology identifies very basic future products that match the two countries’ equally basic capabilities. Top products are simple animal products, cream and yogurt, modestly sophisticated plastics, metals and minerals such as salt and sulphur for Egypt; and slightly more sophisticated products such as containers and bobbins (plastics) and broom handles and wooden products for Tunisia, which is the more advanced of the two countries. A more interventionist approach steers the economy towards maximum sophistication, thus identifying highly complex manufactured metals, machinery, equipment, electronics and chemicals. Despite pushing for economic growth and diversification, these sectors push urban job creation and require high-skill workers, with the implication that low-skilled labour may be pushed into unemployment or into low-value informal jobs. A middle ground is a forward-looking strategy that takes sectors’ shares in world trade into account. This approach identifies medicaments in the chemicals sector; seats (e.g. car and aeroplane seats) in the “other highly manufactured” sector; inflated rubber tyres in the chemicals community (plastics and rubber); containers, bobbins and packages of plastics also in the plastics and rubber section; and articles of iron and steel in the metals sector for Egypt. The top product for Tunisia is furniture in the highly manufactured and special purpose goods community, followed by three products in plastics and rubber in the chemicals community, and finally three machinery sectors.
  • Topic: Development, Economic growth, Exports, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Susan Douglass
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: A look at the role of textbooks in shaping worldviews, global literacy, and national pride. The middle of the twentieth century was a watershed period in history for many reasons, with one of the most significant being the rise of mass education systems across the world. As Britain shed its colonies, newly independent countries with influential leaders launched efforts to educate their masses—efforts that had been held back under colonial rule. India and Egypt, under Nehru and Abdel Nasser respectively, began using government schools to strive for social integration and mold their citizens’ worldviews to enlist them in national economic development and modernization. Britain, too, launched a much-needed expansion of its secondary education system and revamped its elementary schools to meet the demands of the postwar baby boom.
  • Topic: Education, Nationalism, History, Children
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe, South Asia, Middle East, India, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)
  • Abstract: The advent of political independence allowed most Sub-Saharan countries to determine the appropriate mix of policies and institutions that would enable them to achieve rapid socioeconomic development. But experiences across the continent have so far yielded mixed results, and the search for an effective political economy model in the face of a rapidly globalizing world remains an ongoing challenge for most countries. In this study produced by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) Strategic Studies Project, we ask why some developing countries seem to be growing much faster and have much better socioeconomic performance than others. Indeed, what macroeconomic policies and institutions should Sub-Saharan countries pursue to enable more sustainable, lasting, and inclusive growth while dealing with the challenges that a rapidly changing political and economic world order present? The study’s main intention was to generate knowledge to enhance the efficacy of Africa’s political economy and development pathways by identifying alternative macroeconomic policy and institutional options that can be deployed to enable deeper socioeconomic transformation.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Economic Policy, Capacity
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Botswana