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  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A salient feature of armed conflict in the Muslim world since 1980 has been the involvement of so-called foreign fighters. These foreign fighters are unpaid combatants with no apparent link to the conflict other than religious affinity with the Muslim side. Since 1980, between 10,000 and 30,000 such fighters have inserted themselves into conflicts from Bosnia in the west to the Philippines in the east.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Middle East, Philippines, Arabia
  • Author: Arani Kajenthira, Laura Diaz Anadon, Afreen Sidiqqi
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Industrial and urban water reuse should be considered along with desalination as options for water supply in Saudi Arabia. Although the Saudi Ministry for Water and Electricity (MoWE) has estimated that an investment of $53 billion will be required for water desalination projects over the next 15 years [1], the evolving necessity to conserve fossil resources and mitigate GHG emissions requires Saudi policy makers to weigh in much more heavily the energy and environmental costs of desalination. Increasing water tariffs for groundwater and desalinated water to more adequately represent the costs of water supply could encourage conservation, but also reuse, which may be more appropriate for many inland and high-altitude cities. The Saudi government should expand its support for water conservation and reuse within industry through financial incentives or through the implementation of cleaner production standards that encourage energy and water conservation and reuse. The case studies discussed in this work suggest that the implementation of water conservation, reuse and recovery measures in the natural gas [2] and crude oil [3] sectors alone have the potential to conserve up to 222 million m3 of water annually [2-4], or 29% of the total industrial water demand in 2009 [5]. In the municipal sector, increasing secondary wastewater treatment and reuse resulted in substantial cost and energy savings for six inland cities, while an estimated 26% of urban water needs could be met by treated wastewater. Therefore, industrial and domestic water reuse have the potential to appreciably reduce water withdrawals, conserve non-renewable aquifer water, and reduce reliance on desalination, which is primarily driven by non-renewable natural gas. Anticipated investments in desalination projects could also be deferred by prioritizing investment in sewage and water distribution networks that would ensure more effective water reclamation and reuse while simultaneously conserving non-renewable groundwater and natural gas resources and preventing the lock-in of potentially unnecessary desalination infrastructure that is likely to become more efficient in future.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Annie Tracy Samuel
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This policy brief seeks to contribute to and inform the debate concerning a possible attack by the United States and/or Israel on Iranian nuclear and military facilities. The presumed aim of such an attack would be to weaken the Islamic Republic, particularly by hindering its ability to build a nuclear weapon. However, the history of the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September 1980 calls into question the contention that an attack will weaken the regime in Tehran. This policy brief examines Iran's reactions to the Iraqi invasion in order to shed light on Iran's possible reactions to a U.S. or Israeli attack. It will assess how the Iranian people responded to the invasion and its effects on Iranian politics and the position of the new regime. It will also explore the nature of the policies adopted by the Islamic Republic in waging the Iran-Iraq War that carried on for eight years after the Iraqi invasion.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Daniel Tavana
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This policy brief analyzes Egypt's electoral framework in light of legal and political changes following the popular revolt that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. Over the course of a three and a half month period, Egyptians will elect representatives to lower and upper houses of Parliament: the People's Assembly and the Shura Council, respectively. Once both houses convene in March 2012, a 100-member constituent assembly will be selected to draft a new constitution.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Justin Dargin
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions rates per capita in the world. This paper argues that in spite of the extremely high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rates, GCC members will benefit economically, environmentally and geopolitically by constructing a harmonized pan-GCC carbon trading platform that will allow them to make cost-efficient decisions about greenhouse gas abatement. A thorough analysis is undertaken to determine which GHG abatement mechanism would be the best suited for the GCC, with maximum cost and environmental benefits. Based on the unique characteristics of the GCC members, a pan-GCC cap-and-trade framework is suggested. Optimally, policy makers would institute it in a phased, voluntary introduction, to be gradually replaced by a mandatory scheme. If the GCC countries implement such a system, they would be able to rationalize their energy usage for domestic power production, and conserve their oil and gas production for future generations.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Oil
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Jeannie Sowers
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The impacts of human-induced climate change are often considered a future prospect, yet in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), indications of a changing climate are clearly evident. Most of the predicted outcomes associated with international climate models are already occurring in the region, compounding existing problems of water scarcity, water pollution, desertification, salinization, and sea-level rise. Since most of the MENA region is arid and hyperarid, small changes in water availability and arable land have significant consequences for human security. Thus, “if mitigation is about energy, adaptation is about water” (Clausen and Berg 2010). Particularly through effects on the variability and quality of scarce and degraded water resources, human-induced climate change exacerbates already existing problems affecting urban and rural development, human health, and economic productivity in MENA.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Young people in Iran have emerged as important players on the country's political scene but remain marginal on its economic scene. They were a vital part of President Khatami's political base and contributed to his landslide victories at the polls, in 1997 and 2001. In June 2009 they again played a key role, this time in challenging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial reelection, which led to massive anti-government protests in the nation's largest cities. A year later the political crisis appears to have subsided, but the economic crisis that has engulfed the country since early 2008 has deepened, and with it the crisis facing Iran's youth. Youth unemployment is at record high levels and, for the majority of youth, marriage and family formation are increasingly becoming challenges to overcome rather than celebrations of reaching adulthood.
  • Topic: Islam, Labor Issues, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Valerie M. Hudson, Bradley Thayer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Theoretical insights from evolutionary psychology and biology can help academics and policymakers better understand both deep and proximate causes of Islamic suicide terrorism. The life sciences can contribute explanations that probe the influence of the following forces on the phenomenon of Islamic suicide terrorism: high levels of gender differentiation, the prevalence of polygyny, and the obstruction of marriage markets delaying marriage for young adult men in the modern Middle East. The influence of these forces has been left virtually unexplored in the social sciences, despite their presumptive application in this case. Life science explanations should be integrated with more conventional social science explanations, which include international anarchy, U.S. hegemony and presence in the Middle East, and culturally molded discourse sanctioning suicide terrorism in the Islamic context. Such a consilient approach, melding the explanatory power of the social and life sciences, offers greater insight into the causal context of Islamic fundamentalist suicide terrorism, the motivation of suicide terrorists, and effective approaches to subvert this form of terrorism.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Justin Dargin
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Although it seems inconceivable, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is facing an enormous energy shortage. Much of the world views the UAE – and the rest of the Gulf countries by extension – as an inexhaustible reserve of hydrocarbons. However, as with many of the other Gulf countries, the UAE confronts a potentially far reaching energy crisis. Despite increased energy production and imported Qatari gas through the Dolphin natural gas pipeline, UAE domestic gas demand substantially exceeds available supply. This disparity created a shortfall met by an increasing use of fuel oil, natural gas liquids, and in certain circumstances, coal. But it is natural gas that continues to be the UAE's most important domestic energy source.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Marwa Farag
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper presents an overview of health spending and health outcomes in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region over the time period 1995-2006, using cross-country and over-time comparisons. Overall, the region experienced improvements in health outcomes measured in terms of reductions in infant, under-5 child mortality and maternal mortality. However, there are notable exceptions to this trend of declining mortality in countries such as Afghanistan. In addition to providing an overview of changes in health outcomes and health spending over the 12-year period, the paper examines the following two issues: 1) The responsiveness of health care spending to changes in a country's income, and 2) The impact of spending on health care services on health outcomes. The methodological approach adopted in this paper is multivariate regression analysis. I employ random effects models with year dummies, which are appropriate for panel data analysis. I also use double-log formulas for econometric necessity and ease of interpreting the results. The findings indicate that a 1 percent increase in GDP per capita is associated with 0.89 percent increase in health spending in the region and that income growth does not explain all the variation in health spending, indicating that other factors, such as the organization of the health care system, influence health care spending levels. This is an important finding because it suggests that on the one hand cost-containment and on the other mobilizing more funds for the health care sector are possible with appropriate interventions. The findings on the importance of spending on health care for achieving better health outcomes demonstrate that investing in health care matters; a 1 percent increase in health spending is associated with 0.11 percent reduction in infant mortality and 0.14 percent reduction in under-5 child mortality. These results are likely to be underestimating the effect of health spending because of the inclusion of a country's income in the models. Gender parity in secondary school education also had a significant impact on reducing infant and child mortality. Government effectiveness had a strong and significant effect on reducing maternal mortality. The results contradict the notion that increases in income through better nutrition and living conditions alone are responsible for improvements in health outcomes. The results of this analysis clearly indicate that investing in health care also matters.
  • Topic: Health
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, Middle East, Arabia