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  • Author: Huma Saeed
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Afghanistan’s presidential election took place on September 28, 2019, with less than 2 million people participating out of 9.7 million registered voters. Taking into consideration Afghanistan’s total population of 35 million, the turnout was a historic low—a problem further amplified by the fact that the government poured a huge amount of financial and human resources into election preparation. The main explanation for such low turnout is twofold. On the one hand, security threats such as suicide attacks or gun violence—which reached their peak during the presidential election campaigns—deterred many people from going to polling stations. On the other hand, Afghans have become wary about determining their own political fate because, for decades, regional and international powers have steered the political wheel in Afghanistan, rather the people. After four months, election results have still not been announced, leading to further speculation and anxiety among a population which has already been the victim of four decades of violent conflict in the country. This anxiety is further exacerbated by the ongoing “peace” negotiations with the Taliban. Afghan people have learned from experience that, even in the best-case scenario of the election results or peace negotiations, they cannot hope for new justice measures to heal their wounds. As demonstrated by the experience of Afghanistan and other countries, peace and security will not last without addressing the people’s demands for justice.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights, Politics, Elections, Taliban, Justice
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: James Aird
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: As Egypt’s ‘Year of Education’ begins, the government pushes much needed reform in pre-university education across the country. Supported by a $500 million World Bank loan, the government is accelerating efforts to train teachers, build schools, and implement tablet technology in primary and secondary education. The reforms include one ambitious project that is especially deserving of more attention: the expansion of a pilot program adapting Japanese educational techniques to the Egyptian context. At a meeting in Tokyo on February 29th, 2016, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced a joint partnership that sought to link Egypt to Japan through educational development, in part thanks to al Sisi’s personal admiration for Japan’s education system. As part of the joint partnership, Japanese and Egyptian administrators and policymakers set out to reshape Egyptian pedagogy. Modeled on Japan’s Tokkatsu education system, which refers to a program of “whole child development,” Egypt aims to build schools that place great emphasis on teaching students to be responsible, disciplined, and clean, as opposed to the more traditional model prioritizing higher standardized testing scores. A Tokkatsu-inspired curriculum is already being used at over forty schools that accepted more than 13,000 students in September 2018. While President al Sisi plans to personally monitor the new education system, other MENA states should also watch closely. If it successfully contributes to building Egypt’s human capital and improving students’ competitiveness, other states in the region might consider implementing similar educational policies.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Reform, Children, Partnerships, Youth
  • Political Geography: Japan, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Syed Fazl-e Haider
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the central component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in South Asia, has been a source of significant attention and controversy (China Brief, January 12, 2018; China Brief, February 15). Parts of South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe, however, are also host to another ambitious infrastructure program: the “International North-South Transport Corridor” (INSTC), a transportation development plan first established in 2000 by Iran, Russia and India. The INSTC envisions a network to connect Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf ports and rail centers to the Caspian Sea, and then onwards through the Russian Federation to St. Petersburg and northern Europe.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Iran, Middle East, India, Asia
  • Author: Aisha Al-Sarihi
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Since the 2014 drop in oil prices, Gulf countries have begun to shift their attention toward renewables.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Oil, Natural Resources, Gas, Economy, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Sima Aldardari
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: This summer I had a teaching opportunity like never before. I designed and taught a course in Lebanon on international development as part of an independent study with Prof. Fida Adely. The two-and-a-half-week course aimed to offer youth in Lebanon the base knowledge necessary for understanding a wider scope of development approaches and theories and the opportunity to engage with development professionals. The local organization Chams Network provided space and marketing for the class.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Water
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: This timely session was dedicated to a debate with the President of Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to discuss central geo-political and domestic developments, including the protests and the crisis of governance in Baghdad; the Turkish invasion of Northern Syria (particularly Rojava); and finally, the effects of internal political fissures within the KRI.
  • Topic: Development, Governance, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, Baghdad, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: Julien Lebel
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Airports in the Gulf emirates are major transit hubs in global airline networks today. Apart from their “advantageous” geographical location, their development results primarily from the ambitions of political actors seeking to maintain their power. This has led especially to the creation of the “Gulf companies”, namely Emirates Airline (Dubai), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) and Qatar Airways (Doha). However, the three emirates are not following identical strategies. Within the unstable context of the Middle East, it is important to look at the development dynamics of these companies which symbolize the global reach of small but powerful political entities on the international stage.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, Business , Airline Companies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Edward Marks
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: The Trump Administration Middle East Plan appears to call for a Palestinian “Bantustan” (maybe two with Gaza) and legally enforced separation of communities based on ethnic grounds. It is difficult to believe that this resurrection from the discredited past could be acceptable to anyone but its authors, who appear to be completely oblivious to the history of South Africa. That includes Netanyahu, who has obviously been fully engaged in the plan’s development. However the plan will be unacceptable to everyone else, including Saudi Arabia and other Arab governments who have been flirting with Israel and the US in an informal anti-Iranian alliance. The plan would certainly exacerbate – if that is possible – the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. The Kushner Plan would be like throwing oil on a fire; it will end badly for everyone concerned.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Apartheid, Development, Diplomacy, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America, West Bank, Golan Heights
  • Author: Steven C. Dinero
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Berghahn Books
  • Abstract: The resettlement of the Negev Bedouin (Israel) has been wrought with controversy since its inception in the 1960s. Presenting evidence from a two-decade period, the author addresses how the changes that took place over the past sixty to seventy years have served the needs and interests of the State rather than those of Bedouin community at large. While town living fostered improvements in social and economic development, numerous unintended consequences jeopardized the success of this planning initiative. As a result, the Bedouin community endured excessive hardship and rapid change, abandoning its nomadic lifestyle and traditions in response to the economic, political, and social pressure from the State—and received very little in return.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Anthropology, Repression
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Tamirace Fakhoury
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon, a small republic of 6 million inhabitants, is both an ‘emigration prone’ country and a key destination for refugee movements and migrant workers. The presentation will specifically concentrate on Lebanon’s complex relationships with its diaspora communities. After reviewing Lebanon’s history of emigration, it will unpack the Lebanese diaspora’s complex interactions with war and post-war politics. While Lebanese diaspora communities are heavily engaged in their country’s development, economic, community and political activities, the presentation will show that their involvement does not challenge the nature of Lebanon’s sectarian-based model of governance. Rather the political fragmentation of Lebanese abroad replicates and perpetuates modes of sectarian mobilization. Understanding Lebanon’s fragmented “diasporic field” requires accounting for the state’s policy making towards its diaspora communities. The Lebanese state has so far not succeeded in developing an institutionalized policy making apparatus to channel Diasporas’ contributions nor has it extended substantial rights to its diaspora. It remains to be seen whether, and if so how, the recent extension of extraterritorial voting rights would augur a new era of diaspora involvement in Lebanese politics.
  • Topic: Development, Diaspora, Immigration, voting rights
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Asia, Lebanon, Beirut