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  • Author: Ali Tehrani, Azadeh Pourzand
  • 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: Winter 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The anniversary celebrations occurred in the midst of a difficult era of socio-economic turmoil, the return ofَ U.S. sanctions, and deepening political infighting in the Islamic Republic. Tensions between the government and the people are especially high. The tectonic plates of social change have been shifting below the surface in Iran over the past two decades, with major discontent erupting in the past year. While the country’s political facade appears largely unchanged, tensions and fragmentations among the ruling elite have deepened. Economic conditions are fast deteriorating for the average citizen, while political repression remains a harsh reality. Iran’s citizens, who have clung to hope and the possibility for change through decades of domestic repression and isolation from the global economy, struggle to remain hopeful. Collective fatigue stemming from years of isolation from the global economy, as well as domestic economic hardship, compounds the disappointment Iranians feel from unfulfilled political promises. The Iranian government has repeatedly failed to carry out promised reforms; in recent years alone, President Hassan Rouhani has proven unable to carry out his promises to “open up Iran politically, ease rigid social restrictions and address human rights abuses.” As this situation continues, Iran risks despair and chaos.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Social Movement, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Reform, Economy, Memory
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • 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: Fridtjof Falk
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • 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: On November 5th, 2018, the Trump administration re-imposed severe sanctions on Iran. These sanctions, which President Obama called the “toughest sanctions ever faced by the Iranian government,” were lifted by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Deal. The JCPOA was signed with a view to blocking Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, allowing international inspectors into Iran in return for sanctions relief. Withdrawing the United States (US) from the deal was a prominent promise of Donald Trump leading up to the presidential elections of 2016. In a May 2018 speech that described the deal as rooted in “fiction,” President Trump made good on his promise to leave the JCPOA and to move to unilaterally re-impose sanctions on Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Carole Nakhle
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: The Middle East has several features that distinguish it from the rest of the world. Apart from sitting on the largest proven oil and gas reserves, the region is famous for its complicated politics, challenging demographics and fragile economic structures. ​ For oil- and gas-rich states, limited economic diversification is acute; this is where we find government dependence on hydrocarbon revenues reaching as high as 95 percent in countries like Iraq. This is also where we find a poorly diversified primary energy mix, which is heavily reliant on oil and gas, in a sharp contrast to the norm elsewhere where local energy needs are met by diverse sources of energy, mainly oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energy. ​ The lack of diversification – both in terms of the economy and energy mix – brings serious challenges for the region. The economic performance of the oil- and gas-rich states has simply mimicked the volatile and unpredictable movement in oil prices: when oil prices are high, these economies grow rapidly, but when oil prices go in the other direction, they shrink in tandem. Additionally, the dependence on oil and gas to meet local energy needs has caused two problems: first, the trade-off between the more lucrative exports and the highly subsidized domestic market, and second, the higher carbon footprint because of the absence of greener sources of energy. ​ In a world where international competition for global market share in oil and gas and the fight against climate change intensify, the region’s leaders seem to be increasingly convinced that the old model of governance is simply not sustainable...
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Oil, Governance, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • 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: The Tunisian revolution of 2010-11 has been understood as a point of rupture after years of worsening job prospects and living standards in the country. Some have claimed it highlighted the inefficacy of Tunisia’s development policies, while other studies saw a link between high rates of literacy, lack of economic opportunities, and protests against the state. One should, however, be cautious of taking an economically deterministic approach to Tunisia’s uprising. Many countries whose citizens are mired in deep poverty and rampant unemployment are not in a state of revolt. Other factors such as pre-existing social networks (like trade unions and family ties) also play a major role in shaping political events. Furthermore, economic statistics in North African countries, such as Tunisia, are often manipulated for political reasons.
  • Topic: Politics, Poverty, Popular Revolt, Reform, Economy, Protests
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Abdallah Al Dardari
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: Aleppo is a landmark in the Syrian conflict and has become the strongest signal of the failure of the western approach to diplomacy and other means of influence to end the conflict. This failure calls for a dramatic change in the approach if we want to preserve Syria as one country, safeguard its diversity, and ensure the rebuilding of the nation. The moment fighting in Aleppo ends and the current government, along with the Russians and the Iranians, feel they have the upper hand in this conflict, the immediate goal and challenge is to rebuild. Yet, how do we deliver services and create jobs? How do we support reconstruction? How do we ensure stability after “military achievement”?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economy, Political stability, Conflict, Syrian War, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Pearson
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: American Diplomacy
  • Institution: American Diplomacy
  • Abstract: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This famous opening line from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is important also for democracies. While Turkey and Venezuela are each unhappy in their own way, they also may share some common elements in their struggles for democracy that provide lessons.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Authoritarianism, Elections, Democracy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, South America, Venezuela, United States of America