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  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto
  • Abstract: The Reach Project is a research initiative based in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. They examine the successful delivery of social services to those who are hardest to reach. This case study examines how the Ministry of Social Development in Palestine designed, implemented, and continues to refine the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Program (PNCTP) to specifically reach those who are hard to reach.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Poverty, Inequality, Social Services
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • 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: Daniel F. Runde, Romina Bandura
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) is a small independent federal agency whose mission is to help American “companies create U.S. jobs through the export of U.S. goods and services for priority development projects in emerging economies.” USTDA links American businesses to export opportunities in emerging markets by funding activities such as project preparation and partnership building in sectors including transportation, energy, and telecommunications. Since it was established 25 years ago, the agency has generated a total of $61 billion in U.S. exports and supported over 500,000 American jobs. In connecting American business to such opportunities, USTDA also links American technology’s best practices and ingenuity with U.S. trade and development policy priorities. USTDA is an instrument to enable American-led infrastructure development in emerging economies and, therefore, frequently sees increasing competition from government-backed Chinese firms and the challenge they can pose to American commercial engagement under the flag of One Belt, One Road (OBOR). OBOR is paving the way for Chinese engineering, procurement, and construction companies to prepare and develop infrastructure projects in OBOR countries in a way that favors Chinese standards, thereby exerting significant pressure to select Chinese suppliers. This creates a potentially vicious cycle—the more China builds, the faster their standards become the international norm, and, ultimately, this cycle could foreclose export opportunities for U.S. businesses and harm American competitiveness in global infrastructure development. U.S. exporters are increasingly requesting USTDA intervention at the pivotal, early stages of a project’s development, to compete in markets, such as the OBOR countries, where they frequently face Chinese competition. Of note, 40 percent of USTDA’s activities in 2016 were in OBOR countries across South and Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Although there are other agencies that may seem to do work similar to USTDA, there are various aspects that make it a unique agency. This paper provides a brief description of USTDA, its origin and evolution, the impact on the U.S. economy and its proactive collaboration across U.S agencies. Finally, it offers a set of recommendations for USTDA on how to improve its operations and strengthen its role in the developing world.
  • Topic: Development, Energy Policy, Communications, Infrastructure, Trade, Transportation
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • 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
  • Author: Dlawer Ala'Aldeen
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Since the 1960s, successive governments in Baghdad considered the Kurdish-majority areas of Iraq a war zone, and deprived them of investment. So when, in 1992, Kurds elected their first parliament and government, the politicians inherited a half-ruined country, with more than 4,000 destroyed villages and just one small university to serve a traumatised population of more than 4 million. Educationally, the biggest priority for the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) was to rapidly expand school capacity. New universities and technical institutes with diverse programmes were also established de novo. Currently, 14 public and 15 private universities are fully operational, accommodating 165,414 students in 2016, compared with 10,166 in 1992. Investing in quality was the next big challenge. In 2010, the Kurdish government that I was part of introduced a comprehensive system of quality assurance and accreditation, including a performance assessment of all staff and institutions that later became the basis for the annual ranking of KRI universities. Previously, no such system had existed in Iraq, and standards were on the decline – especially after the Iraqi regime change in 2003. Continuing political, security and economic crises, as well as poorly designed policies, corruption and over-politicised administrations were partly to blame. As in other Middle Eastern countries, the Iraqi and KRI governments make all senior university appointments and manage university budgets. This inevitably permits external interference in academic affairs, at the expense of quality and efficiency. There have been serious attempts to move towards making universities totally independent from government, but it has not been easy to accomplish. However, we have succeeded in making the KRI university admissions system electronic and transparent, to ensure equal opportunity. Curricula and teaching methods have been modernised, with greater emphasis on critical thinking, scientific debate, mastering information technology and learning other languages, particularly English and Arabic. The rapid proliferation of educational institutions and the subsequent increase in student populations threatened to outpace the system’s ability to prepare an adequate number of teaching staff. This is where research-intensive universities and other centres of excellence in Europe and America helped. In 2010, it was mandated that all PhD candidates should spend up to 18 months in international centres abroad. And the KRG launched a $400 million programme to send more than 4,500 talented graduates to study for higher degrees at prestigious universities abroad. Meanwhile, existing faculty were given incentives to take sabbatical leave, spend time in prestigious universities abroad and to co-publish with colleagues there. Such arrangements can be mutually beneficial. While the local academics and institutions have great needs in terms of connectivity, sense of direction and research leadership, they can offer scientific material, data and unique insight into their local issues. Academic leaders of post-conflict countries need first-hand exposure to best practice in higher education and research. They need to understand how independent universities work in a democracy. They need help to become research-active and to produce high-impact publications. They need to think globally and act locally, solving their countries’ problems through collaborative research. Countries such as KRI are resource-rich and can sustain the funding of their side of collaborations. In addition to its full-fee paying scholarship and sabbatical programmes, the KRG also pledged in 2010 to match-fund external grants for research projects in the KRI. These have led to numerous joint projects, publications and supervision of research students. Many of the external supervisors have become external examiners and assessors of university performance in the KRI. The current security and economic crises have slowed progress, but this is a transient phase. These investments must be maintained as the situation eases. Without strong higher education, Kurdistan will never stand tall even as it moves towards full nationhood.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Political stability, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Andrew Shaver
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
  • Abstract: The unemployed are often inculpated in the production of violence during conflict. A simple yet common argument describes these individuals as disaffected and inclined to perpetrate affectively motivated violence. A second holds that they are drawn to violent political organizations for lack of better outside options. Yet, evidence in support of a general positive relationship between unemployment and violence during conflict is not established. Drawing from a large body of psychological research, I argue that a basic but important relationship has been overlooked: Loss of employment, rather than rendering individuals angry, increases feelings of depression, anxiety, helplessness, and belief in the power of others. Members of this segment of society are more likely than most to reject the use of violence. Drawing on previously unreleased data from a major, multi-million dollar survey effort carried out during the Iraq war, I uncover evidence that psychological findings carry to conflict settings: unemployed Iraqis were consistently less optimistic than other citizens; displayed diminished perceptions of efficacy; and were much less likely to support the use of violence against Coalition forces.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Labor Issues, Conflict, Violence, War on Terror, Quantitative
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Todd Diamond
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: For at least a generation, conflict resolution has been predominantly the domain of international development practitioners seeking to use their skills and tools to avert war and reduce the suffering of civilian populations. More recently, the U.S. military added similar exercises to its planning efforts, primarily for the strategic purpose of reducing its own potential future deployments around the world. Working occasionally in parallel and at other times seemingly at cross-purposes, the military, donors and non-governmental organizations have begrudgingly come to accept that in any given crisis each can play a role. The nature and extent of each actor’s role depends on the circumstances and the severity of the situation. As the military concludes the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan, and as pressure mounts to intervene in additional conflicts in the Middle East, it is worth examining what role development can play in reducing that pressure, who should be responsible for providing that assistance, and what form it should take. In most cases, whether in a pre-conflict environment, an active conflict, or a post-conflict phase, development agencies and their partners are well placed to provide warnings and respond to civilian crises, though not without coordinating and collaborating in certain instances with their military counterparts...
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Humanitarian Aid, Military Affairs, Conflict, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Samuel Helfont
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The term “post-colonial” has presented a seminal problem for historians of the 20th century Middle East. As this essay will detail, debates over the term have provided an important axis around which discussions of political identity revolve. Following World War Two European power in the Middle East crumbled and a number of post-colonial states emerged. These states often justified their existence in terms of ideologies that were tied to specific post-colonial, political identities. Endless debates have occurred over how much emphasis to put on the post-colonial nature of these states and their political identities. In this essay, I will discuss whether a state’s status as post-colonial matters. If so, how? And what are the consequences? Following a general discussion of debates over post-colonialism, will look more closely at three case studies: Egypt, Iraq, and Iran.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Nationalism, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries