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  • Author: Abigail Bellows
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The professionalization of the anticorruption field has produced a cadre of capital-based NGOs with the technical expertise to be formidable government watchdogs. But at what cost? Corruption-fueled political change is occurring at a historic rate—but is not necessarily producing the desired systemic reforms. There are many reasons for this, but one is the dramatic dissipation of public momentum after a transition. In countries like Armenia, the surge in civic participation that generated 2018’s Velvet Revolution largely evaporated after the new government assumed power. That sort of civic demobilization makes it difficult for government reformers, facing stubbornly entrenched interests, to enact a transformative agenda. The dynamics in Armenia reflect a trend across the anticorruption landscape, which is also echoed in other sectors. As the field has become more professionalized, anticorruption nongovernment organizations (NGOs) have developed the legal and technical expertise to serve as excellent counterparts/watchdogs for government. Yet this strength can also be a hurdle when it comes to building credibility with the everyday people they seek to represent. The result is a disconnect between elite and grassroots actors, which is problematic at multiple levels.
  • Topic: Corruption, Political Activism, NGOs, Political Movements
  • Political Geography: Caucasus, Armenia
  • Author: Matthew Page
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: For politically exposed persons (PEPs) with ill-gotten wealth, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an alluring destination for investing their gains. Although certainly not the only place to stash money, Dubai—dubbed the commercial capital of the Middle East—exercises minimal oversight and has few legal or logistical obstacles to transferring large amounts of cash or purchasing property. PEPs, defined as individuals who are or have been entrusted with a prominent public function, are at higher risk of involvement in unlawful activity due to their positions of influence and access to assets.1 In some cases, government officials and associates who succumb to the temptation become front-page news, but in many other cases, their activities go undetected or uncorroborated, despite the efforts of local authorities and intergovernmental bodies such as the Financial Action Task Force. As a result, billions of dollars are siphoned away to the detriment of both prosperous and struggling economies and societies. The case of Nigeria—home to Africa’s largest economy and the world’s seventh most populous country—offers valuable insights into this phenomenon.2 For Nigerian PEPs in particular, Dubai is an accessible oasis far away from the political drama in their capital, Abuja, or the hustle and bustle of their biggest city, Lagos. But a dearth of specific information about Nigerian PEPs’ property in Dubai has long precluded a deeper analysis of the share of illicit financial outflows from Nigeria; that is, until 2016, when the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (now known as C4ADS) acquired the data of a private database of Dubai real estate information (dubbed the “Sandcastles” data). At least 800 properties were found to have links to Nigerian PEPs or their family members, associates, and suspected proxies. With such information and continued monitoring, Nigerian and Emirati authorities and national and international actors could ramp up their scrutiny on high-end property transactions involving Nigerian elites to ensure that these purchases are not being made with pilfered public funds. The two countries could also deepen bilateral law enforcement cooperation by sharing information and assisting investigations more responsively and routinely. For their part, Western governments, the United Nations, and other international organizations could press the UAE to make its property and corporate records more transparent.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economy, Financial Crimes, Elites, Property
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria, Dubai, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The term “Nakba,” originally coined to describe the magnitude of the self-inflicted Palestinian and Arab defeat in the 1948 war, has become in recent decades a synonym for Palestinian victimhood, with failed aggressors transformed into hapless victims and vice versa. Israel should do its utmost to uproot this false image by exposing its patently false historical basis
  • Topic: Corruption, Post Colonialism, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Palestine
  • Author: Omar Said
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Four years into the war that engulfed Aden since March 2015, the city in the South of Yemen might look tranquil and safe in the eyes of foreign observers as the interim capital of the internationally recognized government of Abd Rabou Mansour Hadi. To its inhabitants, however, it is a satellite out of orbit with no institutions or a state to govern or uphold the rule of law and where civilians face many challenges daily. Civilians were relieved, in July 2015, when Popular Resistance Forces (a mix of different factions from Aden, independent, Salafists, reformers and followers of many factions from the Southern Movement) and forces of the Arab Coalition (led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirate, UAE), defeated the Saleh-Houthi forces, expelling them from the city. They began to dream of a normal life and a fresh start for real institutions that will build a modern civilian state and remedy their decades long suffering, exclusion, marginalization, and inability to run their own city. Simultaneously, fighters raised the flags of Saudi Arabia and UAE along with the flag of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. Meanwhile, elements loyal to the Southern Movement renewed their demands of secession of Southern Yemen from the North. These hopes died shortly after, however. The mandate of the interim government intertwined with that of the National Council, and so did the interests of the Coalition states that sponsor these two bodies. As a result, Aden slipped into a state of insecurity with a multiplicity of armed militias and widespread corruption. This paper seeks to describe the fragmentation process of the Yemeni State, four years after the Coalition’s offensive to restore legitimate authority. It highlights the practices of Abd Rabou Mansour Hadi and his government in running the country and how rivalry between Saudi Arabia and its ally, the UAE, translated, on the ground, in the form of a contest for authority between the Interim Yemeni Government and the Transition Southern Council. The paper also highlights corruption, insecurity, and the rise of civilian protests against the status quo in Aden.
  • Topic: Corruption, United Nations, Fragile States, Protests, International Community
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, UAE
  • Author: Anis Chérif-Alami
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: This paper examines the uprisings that have been taking place in different parts of Lebanon since 17 October relying on direct observation of the protests and interviews with various participants. Acknowledging that the protest movement and the situation in Lebanon remain highly dynamic, it proposes some elements to better understand and contextualize the movement. Although Lebanon generally avoided the wave of protests that swept the Arab world in 2011, there were early attempts to criticize the sectarian system and dysfunctional public services. The paper outlines what current events owe to a recent history of protests in Lebanon, in particular, the short-lived 2011 protests demanding the fall of the sectarian regime and the 2015 “you stink” movement (Tala’at Rihatkum) which denounced the public mismanagement of garbage and called for accountability for political corruption. While the current protests have some roots in past citizens’ activism, it is also clear that there are new aspects that continue to evolve as protesters experiment day by day with new ways of doing politics.
  • Topic: Corruption, Social Movement, Political Activism, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Beirut
  • Author: Marumo Omotoye
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis
  • Abstract: Several studies have argued that corruption has a greater impact on women than men and that increasing women’s representation in key decision-making positions has a positive effect in reducing corruption. However, limited scholarly and policy attention has been devoted to understanding the link between gender and corruption in Botswana. This paper explores the gendered differences of perceived and actual participation in bureaucratic corruption in Botswana. By examining Afrobarometer data and undertaking a documentary analysis, the study finds that while levels of perceived corruption by men and women in public institutions were high, participation in bureaucratic corruption (bribery) was considerably lower. Contrary to the notion that corruption has a greater impact on women than men, this study finds that higher levels of participation across all public service categories were reported by unemployed men, in particular, having to give a gift or a favour to avoid problems with the police. Notwithstanding the scant availability of data, the documentary analysis revealed that non-monetary forms of corruption such as sextortion (sexual extortion) have been experienced by female students and undocumented female migrants in Botswana. Nevertheless, this form of corruption has received little policy attention, despite its potential to undermine gender equality efforts. Additionally, the study finds little correlation between higher levels of women’s representation in key decision-making positions (i.e., parliament and cabinet) and lower levels of corruption in Botswana. There is a need for both the gender and anti-corruption policy framework to be synthesised in order to specifically reflect on and respond to the perceived gendered dimensions of corruption. The establishment of an independent police authority or commission might not only increase levels of public trust and confidence in the police service, but also strengthen levels of transparency and accountability.
  • Topic: Corruption, Gender Issues, Migration, Politics, Women, Men
  • Political Geography: Africa, Botswana