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  • Author: Anouar Boukhars
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Tunisia is struggling with insecurity, social tensions, and ideological divisions three years after President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted during a popular uprising. But the country is making progress on the path to democracy. Islamist and secular politicians have struck a potentially landmark agreement that could get Tunisia's democratic transition back on track. To solidify gains and ensure that a successful Tunisian experiment reverberates across the Arab world, socioeconomic struggles that fuel protests and radicalism must be confronted.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Erica Gaston
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On January 25, Yemen's National Dialogue Conference (NDC) closed after more than ten months of deliberation. The flagship process within Yemen's post-Arab Spring transition, the NDC has been lauded as a positive model of inclusive and constructive negotiation. In Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, and Sudan, similar national dialogue processes have been mooted or are under way. The NDC made significant progress on a daunting range of governance, structural, and social contract issues. It broke through political and social barriers to engage a broader scope of political parties, actors, and civil society–a precedent that will be difficult to roll back. Despite these achievements, the NDC missed its concluding deadline because of a deadlock over the fundamental dilemma: the future status for southern Yemen and the structure of the Yemeni state. A partial solution was brokered, but only by extending the transition process and leaving tough issues to be resolved later. Meanwhile, other challenges, from unemployment to serious humanitarian shortfalls to rampant insecurity, also remain unresolved. The public has grown increasingly skeptical that either the NDC or the transition process will result in a government that responds to their needs. The verdict is out on the ultimate legacy of the NDC. Even at this early stage, however, the hurdles the NDC has faced may provide lessons for other countries considering such processes. At a minimum, exploring how certain process elements may have contributed to achieving the NDC's goals or not might suggest further areas for research, reflection, or continued engagement in the next stages of transition. Other countries considering a national dialogue should streamline the agenda to the extent possible, weighing carefully which political issues do or do not lend themselves to a large-scale public forum, and ensure an appropriate balance between the national dialogue and other transitional processes.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Islam, Insurgency, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Politics in the Middle East are increasingly polarized and fragmented. The Arab Spring's citizen-led spirit of reform is still alive, but societies are increasingly torn apart by bitter tensions between Sunni and Shia, secular liberals and Islamists, and governments and civil society. As polarization has deepened, the concern with engaging in dialogue to bridge differences has intensified. The relationship between these mediation efforts and support for systemic reform will be a pivotal factor in the Middle East's future political trajectory.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Islam, Regime Change, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mongi Boughzala, Mohamed Tlili Hamdi
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Regional disparities and inequality between the rural and the urban areas in Tunisia have been persistently large and perceived as a big injustice. The main regions that did not receive an equitable share from the country's economic growth, as compared to the coastal regions that are highly urbanized, are the predominantly rural western regions. Their youth often have to migrate to the cities to look for work and most of them end up with low-paying and frustrating jobs in the informal sector. The more educated among them face a very uncertain outlook and the highest rate of unemployment. This bias is strongest for female workers and university graduates living in the poor rural regions. The purpose of this paper is to study the underlying causes and factors of these disparities and to discuss policies and measures that may allow these regions to benefit from faster and more inclusive growth.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia, Tunisia
  • Author: Emmanuel Comolet
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Jordan is in the eye of the Arab cyclone. It remains stable while surrounded by chaotic political situations in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula. Jordan has not experienced the massive demonstrations aimed at regime change that have been seen elsewhere in the region, and its relative stability has enabled it to cash in on the geo-political services it provides. These services include: hosting refugees from Palestine, Iraq or Syria; remaining a reliable ally for many international powers; featuring a strong army that plays a stabilizing role in the region; serving as an intermediary when neighboring countries need a host or a dealmaker; and providing qualified Jordanian workers to fill open vacancies for companies and countries, especially in the Gulf. The current stability in Jordan matches well its historic capacity to resist and adapt to shocks. However, the contemporary situation of the labor market reveals that the weaknesses observed in the countries having experienced revolutions (e.g., Tunisia and Egypt) are also present in Jordan; labor market participation is low with very few women active, and the unemployment rate of educated young people is worrisome. Both the number of Jordanians working abroad and the number of migrant workers in Jordan show the discrepancy between demand and supply of labor in Jordan. This could become problematic, since the economic situation has been worsening, notably with fewer public jobs available. Hence there is a need for international donors to keep supporting Jordan in a difficult regional environment, for the government of Jordan to wittily manage the balance between Transjordanians and West Bankers in the near future and for new workers to alter their expectations in searching for opportunities outside the public sector.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Democratization, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria, Tunisia
  • Author: Hafez Ghanem
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: This paper presents a political-economy analysis of the Egyptian transition experience from the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 until the end of 2013, and considers options for the future. Establishing a stable democracy in a country with weak institutions and no democratic culture will take years or even decades. With the benefit of hindsight, most observers were too optimistic in 2011 when they predicted that the “Arab Spring” would quickly lead to democracy. They are probably too pessimistic today when they declare the failure of Egypt's democratic transition. The millions of Egyptians who swarmed into Tahrir Square in January 2011 demanding that Mubarak step down, and then again in June 2013 asking for the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, have learned how to use “people power.” A wall of fear has been broken, and it would be difficult for another autocratic regime to succeed in ruling Egypt for an extended period of time.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Steven A. Zyck
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Yemen remains the only site of an Arab Spring uprising that has ended in a negotiated agreement and a structured, internationally supported transition process. As Jamal Benomar, the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, stated, “Yemen was definitely heading towards a Syria-type scenario” before international actors, including the United Nations (UN), helped to shepherd a complex transition process, which continues at the time of writing. Benomar, with support from a wide array of stakeholders, helped avert an escalating conflict in Yemen by stepping in to offer the good offices of the UN secretarygeneral without waiting for the UN Security Council or the embattled Yemeni regime to demand UN action. Benomar's interventions— including bringing Yemen's major political parties together amid the uprising—helped ensure that the country did not devolve into civil war when President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down after thirty-three years in power. That is, the UN opened a space for dialogue where none had previously been considered possible.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Treaties and Agreements, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Florence Gaub
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Arab Spring had a military dimension in both its targets—regimes with a military background—and its outcomes. Where the armed forces in their entirety or partially sided with the protesters regime change succeeded; where they did not, it failed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Development
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Mohammed El-Katiri
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As part of the radical political changes that have affected a number of Arab countries over the past 4 years, the toppling of regimes and the organization of the first fair and free elections in several Arab states have allowed Islamist parties to rise to power. This highly visible political trend has caused mixed reactions, both within these countries and internationally. Prior to the Arab Spring, most countries in the region banned Islamist movements from forming political parties. For decades, members of such movements were jailed, tortured, and exiled from their home countries. Even in those states where Islamist political parties were allowed, they had limited freedom and were under the scrutiny of the regimes, as was, for example, the Moroccan Justice and Development Party.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Ashraf El-Sherif
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The current turmoil in Egypt—including social strife, polarization, and violence—has cast shadows on the potential for Islamist integration as well as the regime's ability to achieve political stability. Shifting external and internal dynamics of Islamist organizations indicate five possible scenarios for the future of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its path will have far-reaching implications for political Islam and democratization in Egypt.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Islam
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt