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  • Author: Marc Valeri
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The sultan of Oman traveled to Germany to receive medical care in July 2014. His prolonged stay since then has revived concerns across Omani society about the future of the country without the “father of the nation.” A taped, four-minute television address in early November by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said—who looked emaciated and expressed regret that he was unable to return home for National Day celebrations later in the month—failed to silence rumors of cancer that have been circulating in the Gulf since he left the country. The anxiety about the health of the seventy-four-year-old ruler, who has no designated heir, came as the supposed “sleepy sultanate,” long thought to be a model of stability, was affected by the winds of protest blowing across the region. In 2011 and 2012, the sultanate of Oman experienced its widest popular protests since the 1970s and the end of the Dhofar war, in which the southern region rose up against Qaboos's father, who then ruled the country.
  • Topic: Islam, Oil, Governance, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Germany
  • Author: Hafez Ghanem
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Morocco has so far been a success story in the Arab world. It has followed a gradual approach to political reforms and democratization, which led to the adoption of a new constitution and the holding of free parliamentary elections in 2011. At the same time, economic growth averaged 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2010, reached 5.0 percent in 2011, 2.7 percent in 2012, and 4.4 percent in 2013. That is, Morocco has avoided the political upheavals and economic meltdowns that plagued other Arab Countries in Transition (ACTs). Maintaining this record of success will require continued political and economic reforms.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Morocco
  • Author: Frederic M. Wehrey, Ariel I. Ahram
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011, centralized military power has broken down in North Africa, the Levant, and Yemen, and several weak Arab states have turned to local militias to help defend regimes. While these pro-government militias can play important security roles, they have limited military capacity and reliability. Transitioning militia fighters into national guard forces with formal ties to the national command structure can overcome some of these limitations, but the shift must be accompanied by a wider commitment to security sector reform and political power sharing.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia, North Africa
  • 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: Anthony H. Cordesman, Sam Khazai
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As events in late December 2013 and early 2014 have made brutally clear, Iraq is a nation in crisis bordering on civil war. It is burdened by a long history of war, internal power struggles, and failed governance. Is also a nation whose failed leadership is now creating a steady increase in the sectarian divisions between Shi'ite and Sunni, and the ethnic divisions between Arab and Kurd.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Insurgency, Fragile/Failed State, Governance, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Katherine Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Yemen is at a pivotal moment today, three years after the outbreak of popular protests, and the future of America's strategy against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is on the line. Yemen is in the midst of a political transition process that will eventually reform and decentralize the government. But the success of the effort is by no means assured. The reforms will not, in any case, address the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions that provide fertile ground for al Qaeda. Moreover, the central state, never fully able to exercise its sovereignty throughout the country, is weaker than it was before 2011. Opposition groups, which have turned to violence in the past, may still seek to form independent states of their own, potentially collapsing the fragile Yemeni state structure entirely. American interests are bound up in this process by the fact that AQAP is among the most virulent al Qaeda affiliates that poses a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. Syria, Iran, and other foreign and domestic policy issues are distracting the United States and its regional partners from sustained engagement in Yemen. Without international support, the country is much less likely to ride this transition process smoothly and our security interests will be severely harmed.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Claude Bruderlein
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over the recent years, prompting record-high levels of international aid. In view of the complexity of the political and social environment in which these challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, innovative and creative programmatic responses are essential to address the short and middle-term needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region. Over 20 students from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard School of Public Health participated in "Assessment of the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan and Critical Review of the National and International Responses," a winter field study course in Jordan supported by the Middle East Initiative and led by Professor Claude Bruderlein. Read more about their learning experience below and in the attached report.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • 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: Akira Murata
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The paper uses a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to elicit job preferences among youth, and analyzes survey data collected from engineering students at 10 universities in six cities in Egypt during the period of July through October 2013. For a comparative analysis, the survey was also conducted at eight universities in five cities in Indonesia, which is one of the nations in Asia with a Muslim-majority population that faces the same demographic issue. The findings of this research will contribute to building a foundation for designing youth employment policies in Egypt. The most obvious findings to emerge from this study are that: the public-private sector wage differentials must be narrowed; better benefits must accompany private sector employment (particularly support for continuing education, upgrading qualifications, and health insurance); and good IT infrastructure matters. Taken together, these steps could significantly contribute to an increase in the rates of a private sector employment among young Egyptian job seekers, even in the case of continued high public sector wages.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Islam, Labor Issues, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Africa, America, Arabia
  • Author: Hafez Ghanem
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: This paper examines how economic growth in Egypt can be made more inclusive through a focus on rural development and reducing regional disparities. Nearly all of the extremely poor in Egypt live in rural areas and 83 percent of them live in Upper Egypt. The youth in those rural areas feel particularly excluded.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia
  • 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: Richard Outzen
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Dating from Bashar al-Asad's first suppression of mass demonstrations in April 2011, the war in Syria is now 3 years old, has killed more than 130,000 Syrians, and displaced nine million Syrians, two million as refugees into neighboring countries. Foreign intervention has increasingly shaped the course of the fighting and will continue to have substantial regional consequences. The complexity of this bitter, nominally internal struggle has dampened American enthusiasm for joining the fray or even paying much attention to Syria, notwithstanding the chemical weapon attacks on Gouta, east of Damascus, last August, which captured the attention of the American people, media, and policy community. With an international taboo broken and a Presidential redline crossed, public debate spiked in August-September 2013 over U.S. interests in Syria and the limits on what we will do to secure them. Debate did not result in a consensus for action.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Raphaël Lefèvre
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Syria's civil war is having a dramatic impact on its neighbors, particularly Lebanon. The spillover is glaring in the northern city of Tripoli, where street violence is rising, sectarianism is at unprecedented levels, and Sunni extremism is flourishing. This instability threatens to spread to other areas of the country. Yet, Lebanon's problems have as much to do with domestic dynamics as with the unrest in Syria. Lebanese policymakers must address a number of issues that have long been ignored.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Over the years since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Southern Gulf states and the US have developed a de facto strategic partnership based on a common need to deter and defend against any threat from Iran, deal with regional instability in countries like Iraq and Yemen, counter the threat of terrorism and extremism, and deal with the other threats to the flow of Gulf petroleum exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, North America
  • Author: Elin Hellquist
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kolleg-Forschergruppe "The Transformative Power of Europe"
  • Abstract: The Organization of African Unity (OAU), the League of Arab States (Arab League), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were all established as post-colonial projects with the explicit aim to safeguard state borders and shield sovereign governments from external interference. Yet, their approaches to regional interference in domestic affairs have with time taken on different trajectories. This working paper traces the present diversity in regional approaches to negative sanctions against members back to formative events in the early days of regional cooperation. All three organizations had to confront political problems of substantial regional weight at an early stage: the OAU the apartheid regimes in Southern Africa, ASEAN the Vietnam War, and the Arab League the creation of the state of Israel. The analysis demonstrates that the concepts of the region the organizations articulated as they dealt with these problems continue to inform present positions on involvement in domestic affairs.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Border Control
  • Political Geography: Africa, Arabia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Erica Gaston
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Yemen has long had a vibrant tradition of community-based dispute resolution, particularly tribal dispute resolution, which has become even more dominant in the transition period that followed the 2011 Arab Spring protests. As the Yemeni state has struggled to regain political equilibrium, rule of law has deteriorated and criminality and armed conflict have increased. State institutions have weakened and now struggle to meet citizens' demands. In response, citizens increasingly turn to traditional or community-based dispute resolution for their justice needs. In addition to long-standing actors or mechanisms, a number of new dispute resolution actors have emerged. Some areas have seen a retribalization, while in others, armed actors dominate. Although alternative dispute resolution actors have been an important gap-filler during this time, they have also found their authority challenged. The political uncertainty and the rise in lawlessness have simultaneously weakened both formal and informal actors' ability to resolve disputes sustainably and to prevent conflict. The result has been more limited options for peaceful dispute resolution overall, which feeds instability and has the potential to exacerbate broader conflict dynamics and weaknesses in the rule of law. Strengthening the options for lower level dispute resolution and conflict prevention are critical to restoring stability. Because of the centrality of these community-based justice mechanisms in Yemen, efforts to strengthen rule of law must take a more holistic view of justice provision to include these mechanisms and practices. Program interventions should not preference or target one system over the other but instead take an integrated approach and consider the significant role that alternative dispute resolution plays. Critical elements include supporting greater understanding of and dialogue with dispute resolution actors, incorporating alternative dispute resolution into the justice sector strategy, and focusing on reforms and adaptions on both sides.
  • Topic: Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Author: Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Low Salafist turnout for this week's constitutional referendum could signal a broad base of support for growing jihadist violence against the post-Morsi government. The January 14-15 referendum on Egypt's draft constitution is being billed as a referendum on the military's July 3 ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Muhammad Morsi. Yet the vote is unlikely to alter the country's short-term political trajectory: no matter the results, the military-backed government will continue repressing pro-Morsi forces, who will in turn continue resisting a process they view as illegitimate. The extent to which Salafists participate in the referendum may have longer-term implications, however. High Salafist turnout would suggest an embrace of the Nour Party's decision to participate in the post-Morsi process, whereas low turnout would reflect strong feelings of disenfranchisement that could lead more Salafists to embrace jihadism.
  • Topic: Religion, Armed Struggle, Regime Change, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Egypt