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  • Author: Hamidreza Azizi, Leonid Issaev
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Discussion paper for the workshop on: “The Politics and Modalities of Reconstruction in Syria”, Geneva, Switzerland, 7-8 February 2019. There has historically been low levels of trade and investment from both Russia and Iran with Syria, with trade in military items being a notable exception. While the trade relationship between Syria and its two main allies predates the conflict, levels of trade had been remarkably low before the crisis, in contrast to mainstream perceptions. Yet, these figures cannot be confirmed due to unavailability of a comprehensive record of the Syrian bilateral relationship with Iran and Russia. Internationally imposed sanctions have discouraged Russian and Iranian companies from doing business with Syria. Lacking any other resources, the only way that Syrian could repay debts to its allies would be to grant exclusive access to energy and natural resources. This however would reduce the public revenue needed to rebuild state institutions, and also encourage foreign rivalry over economic opportunities. As Syria lacks any coordination mechanism for post-war economic reconstruction, Russia and Iran have set their eyes on the energy sector, where Russia has the upper hand. Yet, cooperation is also possible in other sectors, such as Syria’s rail sector. In order to understand the Russian and Iranian economic relationship with Syria, two factors should be considered. First is the informal relationship between Syria and its two allies, which has taken the form of unofficial agreements and trade. These would be important when sanctions are lifted. The second factor is military exports to Syria, expected to be large, given the scale of war and Syrian reliance on Russia and Iran. Due to lack of official data, this paper will not consider both issues.
  • Topic: Economics, Sanctions, Conflict, Syrian War, Investment, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Sandro Knezović
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The European strategic landscape has changed dramatically over the course of the last decade. The post-Cold War mantra about the obsolescence of conventional threats in the wider European space proved to be short-sighted with developments at its eastern �lanks, while security dysfunctions in the MENA region and their immanent consequences for the safety of European citizens have loaded a heavy burden on compromise-building and decision-making in the �ield of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the EU. Furthermore, the approach of the new US administration to European security and the strategic consequences of Brexit have changed the wider framework in which security of 'the Old Continent' is to be determined, hence stimulating European leaders to rethink European security in a strive for strategic autonomy of their own. The very ambitiously phrased EU Global Strategy that came out in June 2016, served as both catalyst and umbrella document for such an endeavour. However, in order to achieve measurable progress in responding to contemporary security challenges, it was clear that the EU needs to develop a structural way for member states to do jointly what they were not capable of doing at the national level. This is so especially in the environment in which China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are championing the defence spending, right after the US, while European states are signi�icantly trailing behind. The fact that the EU collectively is the second largest military investor and yet far from being among the dominant military powers only emphasises the burning issue of ef�iciency of military spending and the level of interoperability among member states’ armies. High-level fragmentation of the European defence market and the fact that defence industries are kept in national clusters is clearly contributing to that. The reality on the ground is obviously challenging traditional methods of co-operation that operate mainly in ‘national boxes’ and calling for a paradigm change in the wider policy context of CSDP. However, it remains to be seen to which extent will this new security environment actually be able to push the European defence policy context over the strict national boundaries.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Military Strategy, European Union
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Jeffrey Frankel
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The paper proposes an exchange rate regime for oil-exporting countries. The goal is to achieve the best of both flexible and fixed exchange rates. The arrangement is designed to deliver monetary policy that counteracts rather than exacerbates the effects of swings in the oil market, while yet offering the day-to-day transparency and predictability of a currency peg. The proposal is to peg the national currency to a basket, but a basket that includes not only the currencies of major trading partners (in particular, the dollar and the euro), but also the export commodity (oil). The plan is called Currency-plus-Commodity Basket (CCB). The paper begins by fleshing out the need for an innovative arrangement that allows accommodation to trade shocks. The analysis provides evidence from six Gulf countries that periods when their currencies were “undervalued”, in the sense that the actual foreign exchange value lay below what it would have been under the CCB proposal, were periods of overheating as reflected in high inflation and of external imbalance as reflected in high balance of payments surpluses. Conversely, periods when the currencies were “overvalued,” in the sense that their foreign exchange value lay above what it would have been under CCB, featured unusually low inflation and low balance of payments. These results are suggestive of the implication that the economy would have been more stable under CCB. The last section of the paper offers a practical blueprint for detailed implementation of the proposal.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil, Exchange Rate Policy, Commodities, Currency Basket
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: China’s increasingly significant economic and security interests in the Middle East have several impacts. It affects not only its energy security but also its regional posture, relations with regional powers as well as the United States, and efforts to pacify nationalist and Islamist Uighurs in its north-western province of Xinjiang. Those interests are considerably enhanced by China’s One Belt, One Road initiative that seeks to patch together a Eurasian land mass through inter-linked infrastructure, investment and expanded trade relations. Protecting its mushrooming interests is forcing China to realign its policies and relationships in the region. As it takes stock of the Middle East and North Africa’s volatility and tumultuous, often violent political transitions, China feels the pressure to acknowledge that it no longer can remain aloof to the Middle East and North Africa’s multiple conflicts. China’s long-standing insistence on non-interference in the domestic affairs of others, refusal to envision a foreign military presence and its perseverance that its primary focus is the development of mutually beneficial economic and commercial relations, increasingly falls short of what it needs to do to safeguard its vital interests. Increasingly, China will have to become a regional player in competitive cooperation with the United States, the dominant external actor in the region for the foreseeable future. The pressure to revisit long-standing foreign and defence policy principles is also driven by the fact that China’s key interests in the Middle East and North Africa have expanded significantly beyond the narrow focus of energy despite its dependence on the region for half 1 China has signalled its gradual recognition of these new realities with the publication in January 2016 of an Arab Policy Paper, the country’s first articulation of a policy towards the Middle East and North Africa. But, rather than spelling out specific policies, the paper reiterated the generalities of China’s core focus in its relations with the Arab world: economics, energy, counter-terrorism, security, technical cooperation and its One Belt, One Road initiative. Ultimately however, China will have to develop a strategic vision that outlines foreign and defence policies it needs to put in place to protect its expanding strategic, geopolitical, economic, and commercial interests in the Middle East and North Africa; its role and place in the region as a rising superpower in the region; and its relationship and cooperation with the United States in managing, if not resolving conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics, Imperialism, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China, Middle East, Asia, North Africa
  • Author: Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The relationship between the European Union (EU) and Asia is in flux. The EU intensified its economic ties to Asia and boosted its security cooperation in the region in 2011 and 2012. But new challenges, including the crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, have made it difficult to sustain this incipient momentum. There are a number of steps that EU and Asian governments can and should take to continue to strengthen their relations.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Elites in Tunisia and Jordan stress their need to invest in their human resources, because people are the only resources they have. An array of programs has arisen in both countries to help young people learn life and job skills, find appropriate careers, and launch new businesses. Yet a look at recent and ongoing workforce development efforts in each country reveals that these schemes are intended to produce something fundamentally different in each country. Tunisians are working to overcome the legacies of dictatorship and build a new, more democratic system while simultaneously carrying out economic reforms that aim to alter the state’s role in the economy. Jordanians are trying to alter society and economic incentives within a political status quo where too much change too quickly could threaten the political order, and the government therefore faces compelling reasons both to reform and to keep things as they are. This report examines how similar efforts have evolved in these contrasting contexts
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Human Welfare, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Ishac Diwan, Philip Keefer, Marc Schiffbauer
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Using an original database of 469 politically connected firms under the Mubarak regime in Egypt, we explore the economic effects of cronyism. Previous research has shown that cronyism is lucrative. We address numerous questions raised by this research. First, do crony firms receive favorable regulatory treatment? We find that they do: connected firms are more likely to benefit from trade protection, energy subsidies, access to land, and regulatory enforcement. Second, does regulatory capture account for the high value of connected firms? In our sample, connected firms exhibit superior corporate performance relative to unconnected firms and this is systematically related to regulatory capture. Energy subsidies and trade protection, for example, account for the higher profits of politically connected firms. Third, do crony firms hurt growth? We exploit a natural experiment setting to show that the entry of politically connected firms into previously unconnected sectors slows employment growth and skews the distribution of employment towards less productive smaller firms.
  • Topic: Economics, Economy, Business , Networks, Cronyism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Elizabeth Rosenberg, Sara Vakhshouri
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The international community is poised to sign a deal with Iran on its nuclear program, under which Iran would make concessions on its enrichment activities and the United States and others would offer substantial relief from punishing economic sanctions. The removal of the most complex, extensive, and multilateral regime of coercive economic measures promises a windfall to Iran. However, this will be neither immediate nor easy, given the difficulty of reestablishing severed commercial and legal ties between Iran and the global financial system. Removing sanctions will require careful international cooperation and substantial outreach to the private sector.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Stefan Lehne
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As the financial crisis recedes and the European Union (EU) regains a measure of internal stability, pressure in Europe\'s neighborhood is on the rise. The Ukraine crisis and turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa have elevated foreign policy to the top of the EU\'s agenda. Whether the EU can make its external action more effective will depend in large part on institutional decisions made in 2014—the selection of a new leadership team and the reorganization of the European Commission.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Amr Adly
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Egypt's economy is in crisis as the new military-backed regime seeks to reestablish its authority. Fiscal restructuring and austerity measures are necessary to spur economic recovery, but they may be politically difficult to pass at this time. The new regime, therefore, will have to broaden its base and forge a more inclusive coalition of supporters in order to stabilize Egypt, retain power, and restore economic growth.
  • Topic: Security, Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt