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  • Author: Steven A. Cook
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Egypt is experiencing a deep economic crisis. The country's foreign currency r e serves are less than half of what they were before the January 2011 uprising, threatening Egypt's ability to pay for food and fuel. Egypt's budget deficit is 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and its overall debt, which is the result of accumulated deficits, is more than the country's economic output. In this difficult economic climate, roughly 4 5 percent of Egyptians live on less than two dollars per day. Inflation, which reached as high as 12.97 percent after the July 2013 military coup, is currently at 11.4 percent. Tourism revenue—traditionally a primary source of foreign currency along with Suez Canal tolls and remittances from Egyptians working abroad—is less than half of what it was in the last full year before the uprising. Foreign direct investment has dried up outside the energy sector. Unemployment remains high at 13.4 percent. Among the unemployed, 71 percent are between fifteen and twenty-nine years old. This economic weakness makes it politically difficult to address the problems that contribute to a potential solvency crisis because the necessary reforms will impose hardship on a population that is already experiencing economic pain.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Regime Change, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Douglas A. Ollivant
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Iraq remains a fragile state deeply traumatized and riven by thirty years of war, sanctions, occupation, and civil strife. Although there are numerous positive signs of progress in Iraq—violence has fallen to its lowest level since 2003, its economy is growing modestly, oil production recently surpassed that of Iran, and foreign investment is beginning to restore infrastructure decayed by years of war and sanctions—the risk of acute instability and renewed conflict remains. Already, in the wake of the U.S. military withdrawal in December 2011, Iraq has seen a fierce political struggle between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and many of his rivals in the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya parliamentary coalition, plus increasing tension with at least some segments of the Kurdish minority. For the positive trends to continue, Iraq will need to contain various threats to internal stability and weather regional turmoil that could worsen significantly in the coming months. The United States has a significant stake in helping Iraq overcome these challenges; Iraq is a critical state within a critical region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Oil, Fragile/Failed State, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations on July 8, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed U.S.-Israel relations, the threat of a nuclear Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the possibility of extending a temporary settlement freeze in the West Bank. Netanyahu was unclear on whether or not he will extend a ten-month moratorium on settlement expansion in the West Bank beyond the September deadline. When asked, he said: "I think we've done enough. Let's go on with talks." Yet Netanyahu was cautious when assessing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's ability to achieve a final status agreement. "I will not do what some of my colleagues do to President Abbas," Netanyahu said, "I won't rule out the possibility of leadership." On the subject of Iran and its uranium enrichment program, which Israel regards as a grave threat, Netanyahu was supportive of recent Obama administration moves. "The statement that the president has made that all options are on the table is probably the most effective pressure that you could direct at Iran," Netanyahu said, addressing the possibility of using military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. "They have in the past backed off when they thought the U.S. would act in a more forceful way." Addressing recent strains in U.S.-Israel relations, Netanyahu emphasized Israel's strategic value to the United States. "In the heart of the Middle East, Israel is the source of the greatest stability," he said, "the service that Israel does in the Middle East is below the swirl of public debate, is real and much appreciated by the governments that are actually acting to stabilize the Middle East, chief among them the United States."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Rashid Khalidi
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A leading expert on Palestinian affairs, Rashid Khalidi, says it is crucial for the Palestinian rivals, Hamas, in Gaza, and Fatah, in the West Bank, to reconcile and create a unified negotiating position with Israel. "This is not something that's impossible," he says. "Fatah and Hamas have agreed three times in the past, only to have those agreements collapse." Khalidi also urges the Obama administration to change its policy of isolating Hamas, which he says is counterproductive to the Mideast peace mission it has vowed to pursue. Khalidi says, despite his frustration, he has not given up on Obama's peace efforts. "I don't think that the moment has entirely passed when something can be done," he says. "I do not believe that it is too late to bring about a two-state solution."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza, Egypt