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  • Author: Kenneth R. Rosen
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Interviews reveal how Syrian officials are extorting their people. It is sometimes difficult to conceptualize what the dire situation of Syria’s economy means for those who live there. Some 100 tankers of fuel flow across Lebanon’s border into Syria, but the persistent lack of gas limits families' ability to heat their homes, which, in regime-held areas, already face large-scale electricity blackouts that last for hours. Likewise, hot water is a commodity afforded only to those with financial means and connections, and it is a luxury to take a hot shower in many parts of Syria. Meanwhile, on Facebook, a UNHCR tarp is for sale and women are selling their hair to feed their families—just two examples of the type of entrepreneurship needed to weather abounding hardships in a country that has known only war for the last decade. Over the summer, the Syrian pound collapsed as U.S. sanctions continue to deter international support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has likewise furthered the collapse of the country’s economic infrastructure. As Syrians search for means of generating income, officials employed by the regime have gained access to funds through extortion. A common form of this extortion is the forced detention of individuals whose families must then bribe officials for either visitation rights or the release of their loved ones. A report from January underscores the scale of such extortion operations, which have remained a staple in regime tactics for years, though they are especially prevalent now given the country’s ongoing war and collapsed economy. The report—produced by the Association of Detainees and the Missing in Sednaya Prison—surveyed more than 1,200 prisoners and families. Respondents said that bribes rose as high as nearly $3 million at one jail, though the range varied. Visitation or release fees were usually a few thousand dollars or less, but bribes would be increased for families living outside of Syria, averaging about $30,000. The report underscored how these payments—far greater than the average public sector annual salary of roughly $150 per month, according to Qassioun, a Syrian newspaper —could feed the country’s security apparatus and the regime through guards, judges, military personnel, and middlemen who facilitate the negotiations. “The Syrian Arab Army is the primary party that is responsible for these types of arrests,” says to the report.
  • Topic: Crime, Economy, Syrian War, Abductions
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Lilian Tauber
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By committing to long-term investments in Jordan’s communities through support for social enterprises, the United States can contribute to the country’s stability and economic growth. In Jordan, one of the United States’ most reliable allies in the Middle East, economic volatility is a major threat to stability and has led to recurrent protests since 2011. High youth unemployment rates and a large refugee population contribute to its economic woes and political tensions, all of which are now exacerbated in the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States can support Jordan’s recovery from the pandemic through long-term investment in social entrepreneurship. The country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem is in a developing stage, with most resources focused on short-term funding and training, so a shift in U.S. aid to longer-term support can make a significant difference. Increasing funds and providing multi-year mentorship and operational support to select social enterprises (SEs) will allow them to become powerful forces for positive change and civic engagement in their communities.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Economy, Investment
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan, United States of America
  • Author: Chiraz Arbi, Maurizio Geri
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Gridlock and economic stagnation are testing the Arab world's only functioning democracy. On January 14, 2021, Tunisia celebrated the 10th anniversary of the end of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s authoritarian regime, the result of a revolution that led to a firm commitment to a process of democratization in the country. And while the revolution has meant significant change and positive development for Tunisian democracy, the Tunisian people are currently losing faith in the direction of their government as Tunisia’s democratic institutions are struggling to endure parliamentary gridlock and economic malaise—as evidenced by the recent street protests over the past few days. Consecutive Riots and demonstrations in the Capital and in several cities across the country came to defy the government’s nationwide lockdown and curfew due to Covid-19 and to symbolize the youth’s overall disenchantment. While the Prime Minister assured that this anger was “legitimate”, protests were faced by police violence and led to more than 600 arrests of protestors aged between 14 and 25.
  • Topic: Democracy, Economy, Arab Spring
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Tunisia
  • Author: Sara Nowacka
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At the end of March, Lebanese President Michel Aoun rejected a proposal by designated Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri regarding the composition of the new government. The breakdown of the negotiations shows that despite the deepening socio-economic crisis, political groups are unable to develop a common vision for the reconstruction of the state. The EU, UN, and the World Bank engaged in initiatives aiming to improve Lebanon’s situation. However, the political deadlock threatens the implementation of their co-created “3RF” reform plan.
  • Topic: United Nations, World Bank, European Union, Economy, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Karol Wasilewski
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU intends to implement a new model of relations with Turkey based on phased, proportional, and reversible engagement. The Union’s plans are a consequence of a dilemma: although Turkey often acts like an adversary, EU members want to maintain close relations with it due to the convergence of interests in areas such as migration and the economy. The Union’s new approach creates the opportunity to strengthen its influence on Turkey. Yet, different expectations about the future shape of relations will keep EU-Turkey relations tense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, European Union, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Roee Kibrik, Nimrod Goren, Merav Kahana-Dagan
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Israel’s Relations with Arab Countries: The Unfulfilled Potential examines relations between Israel and seven key Arab states – Egypt. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Morocco and Iraq – against the backdrop of the changes sweeping the Middle East over the past decade. The researchers mapped out the potential for cooperation with each state based on shared interests, challenges and opportunities, and on the abilities, strengths and needs of Israel and those states. The researchers described existing diplomatic, security, economic and civilian cooperation – relying on open source material, their expertise in the arena and interviews they conducted. The studies found that despite progress in cooperation between Israel and Arab countries, and notwithstanding certain growing normalization with specific Middle Eastern countries, the strategic-diplomatic, economic, social, civilian and cultural opportunities are significant and far greater than their current level. There is wide-ranging, unfulfilled potential in Israel’s relations with Arab countries, and it is more evident now than it was in the past. The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and absence of significant progress in resolving it constitute the main obstacle to tapping the potential for cooperation between Israel and the Arab world, capping relations with a glass ceiling. In formulating its policy and actions in the region, Israel should learn the lessons of the past. It must take into consideration current realities and limitations, existing interests and processes. Just as important, it must also shape its actions, assessing and choosing from among various alternatives with a view to the future potential and tremendous promise they hold out. We hope this publication helps those interested in sketching the current complex picture and the potential that lies in relations between Israel and major Arab countries, and paves the way to expanded cooperation and normalization between Israel and its neighbors in the Middle East. As the studies in this publication indicate, the potential for regional cooperation is great and its realization also depends on progress towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, UAE
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In the few months that have passed since the signing of the historical Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE have opened embassies and exchanged ambassadors, launched direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, hosted dozens of businesses, cultural and academic delegations (among them a high-ranking Emirati delegation led by the UAE ministers of finance and economy), and facilitated visits of thousands of Israeli tourists to Dubai. Universities and think tanks from both countries have established connections, and news outlets have launched different forms of cooperation. Israel, the UAE, and the US set an investment fund worth 3 billion USD (the fund is not operational yet) and banks on both sides established agreements on financial services. The scope of activity between the two countries is impressive, and it seems that in case of Israel and the UAE, the seeds of peace have fallen on fertile ground, mainly due to high level of economic development and mutual geopolitical interests and concerns, such as the Iranian threat (although both sides evaluate and treat it differently).Today, it is almost impossible to imagine that just a few years ago Israeli athletes were only allowed to compete in the UAE if they agreed to participate without their national flag or national anthem sung at the closing ceremony. Why is it that the peace between Israel and the UAE appears to be such a stark contrast from previous peace agreements that Israel has signed with other Arab countries? Several factors have facilitated the newly established relationship: the positive image of the UAE in Israel; the lack of past hostilities, casualties, and territorial demands between the two countries; the unofficial ties forged long before the official recognition; the many mutual interests that seem to be aligned together; and the right timing that allowed for this bold and important development. Will the parties be able to maintain a similar level of enthusiasm also when the honeymoon stage passes? How will the two countries deal with various regional and international challenges? This paper presents an Israeli perspective on the first months of the relationship between Israel and UAE, and looks at prospects for the near future of these relations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Economy, Peace, Abraham Accords
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, UAE
  • Author: Raed Helles, Nevin Abdel Aal, Ahmed Al-Sammak
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Pal-Think For Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The economy of Palestine is led to a recession and has had serious ramifications–mostly in a time of COVID-19 as a result of the strict adherence and concrete actions instituted by the government to help avert the disease from spreading in the enclave. However, the consequences of COVID extend to correlate the future of Palestine, not by affecting its individuals and governments only, but also all its sectors due to the loss of income for thousands of citizens. According to World Bank studies, in comparing with 2019, which witnessed difficult economic conditions for several reasons, including the Palestinian fiscal revenue leakage and the suspension of American aid, the economy might get down this year by 7.6% if Palestine returns gradually to normal and by 11% if the tough restrictions continue to be imposed.
  • Topic: Economy, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Christophe Abi-Nassif, Haneen Sayed, Alain Bifani, Nasser Saidi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon’s financial and socio-economic crises have been unfolding for nearly 18 months. The Lebanese pound is hitting all-time lows against the US dollar. Food prices have soared more than 400% in just one year. In the meantime, foreign currency reserves at the central bank are dangerously depleting. Citizens have lost access to their life savings and more than half now live below the poverty line. The country’s entire financial system is in dire need of restructuring. Amid the worsening financial collapse and growing civil anger, unrest and poverty, an end to the meltdown is yet to be seen. Where does Lebanon stand today, a year after the first sovereign debt default in its history? How did we even get here? What are immediate monetary and fiscal policy priorities to course-correct? What social policies and programs are needed in the immediate term? What can still be saved? Four Lebanese experts with frontline experience will tackle these issues and shed more light on Lebanon’s uncertain financial, economic, and social future as part of the Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Lebanon program’s events series.
  • Topic: Debt, Finance, Economy, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Zeinab Abul-Magd, İsmet Akça, Shana Marshall
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Egyptian and Turkish military businesses have used their institutional privileges to dominate their respective economies, but they have key differences. Turkey’s military businesses are centrally managed while Egypt’s use multiple complex conglomerates. In recent years, Turkish and Egyptian military institutions have followed divergent paths in their respective states. After many decades of full or partial control over the government, the Turkish military today is largely marginalized in politics. By contrast, after periods of exclusion from power, the Egyptian military is now in full control of the state. Despite these differences, both military institutions are powerful economic actors within their states. They have developed extensive civilian economic enterprises over the decades, dominating important sectors by capitalizing on their political influence, legal and regulatory privileges unique to their enterprises, and opportunities provided by market liberalization.
  • Topic: Government, Economy, Business , Liberalization
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Dario Cristiani
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Russia’s return as a major geostrategic actor in the Mediterranean is one of the most significant trends characterising this area over the past few years. Part of a broader geopolitical pluralization of this space, Russia’s 2015 intervention in Syria marked a new phase in Moscow’s Mediterranean engagement. Based on a stringent logic of intervening where other powers leave strategic vacuums, Russia has succeeded to carve out an increasingly central role in Mediterranean equilibria, despite its limited resources. Russian diplomatic and economic support for the Syrian regime in Damascus had steadily increased since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in 2011. Yet, it was Moscow’s direct military intervention in September 2015 that signalled a decisive upgrade in engagement. Moscow’s military involvement shifted the tide of the conflict, proving decisive in avoiding the collapse of the Syrian regime, which is also backed by Iran and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
  • Topic: Civil War, Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Economy, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Benedetta Brossa
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Lebanon is teetering on the brink of collapse as mounting economic, political and geopolitical pressures put unprecedented stress on the country’s institutional – and deeply sectarianised – setup. In October 2019, when large scale anti-establishment protests erupted across the country, what has been described as the Lebanese “Ponzi scheme”,[1] a shady mechanism through which the country was able to attract continuous injections of foreign currency to sustain Lebanon’s financial system with artificially inflated interest rates, came to a breaking point. The value of the Lebanese lira dropped significantly, as have socio-economic conditions for large parts of the population. Then came the massive explosion in Beirut, the latest, severe blow to the country’s economy, already suffering from a dysfunctional political apparatus, the recent default on the state’s debt in March 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The tragic explosion reignited popular anger. Lebanese citizens renovated their grievances against the pervasive corruption and sectarianism that has dominated Lebanon’s confessional system, leading the country to the brink of bankruptcy.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Gas, Economy, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Mediterranean
  • Author: Tamirace Fakhoury
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Prior to 2011, Lebanon was no traditional gatekeeper in managing migrant and refugee flows to the EU. Following mass refugee influx from Syria, the small Middle Eastern state acquired key importance in the EU’s architecture of externalisation, alternatively framed as the set of norms and practices that the EU crafts to govern migration from a distance. Lebanon currently hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees and since 2012 the EU has been the key funding power seeking to help the refugee-hosting state cope with the spillover effects that mass displacement brought about on the country. The EU’s recently published New Pact on Migration and Asylum reiterates support to refugees and refugee-hosting countries – including those in Syria’s neighbourhood – as one of the central elements of cooperation with third countries on migration and displacement. After nearly a decade of cooperation between the EU and Lebanon in this area, and ahead of the EU’s new budgetary and policy-planning cycle (2021–27), now is a key moment to critically assess EU-Lebanon cooperation on displacement from Syria.
  • Topic: Government, Foreign Aid, European Union, Refugees, Economy, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Security cooperation with Iraq remains a critical component of the US-Iraq relationship. Despite neighboring Iran’s ability to limit US political and economic engagement, Iraq still seeks US assistance to develop its military and to combat resurgent terrorist organizations. This monograph provides a historical and cultural basis from which to understand the limitations and potential for US cooperation with Iraq’s armed forces.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Terrorism, Military Strategy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Islamic State, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Christopher J. Bolan
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: It is worth approaching an assessment of the likely impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Middle East with a strong dose of humility. Nonetheless, it is clear that the spread of this disease has already had major impacts on the global economy, drastically reducing demand for Middle East oil exports, and leading to a historic collapse in oil prices. The immediate challenges of dealing with the monumental health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19 will add to the troubles of a region already burdened by multiple civil wars, poorly performing economies, growing civil discontent, and intensified sectarian divisions. This article offers a preliminary assessment of the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the security landscape of the Middle East and advances recommendations for how US military strategy and operations might adapt.
  • Topic: Security, Oil, Military Strategy, Economy, Exports, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Hanin Ghadder
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: To contain corrupt actors and facilitate reform, the international community must provide alternatives to Hezbollah pharmaceutical and food programs while filling gaps that the group is unable to address. Despite Lebanon’s deteriorating financial and economic situation, the country’s political elite have made clear that they will not implement reforms laid out by the international community as prerequisites for a bailout. In their view, the changes specified by the IMF, the World Bank, and the French-sponsored aid framework CEDRE would mean the eventual collapse of their political class, whose corruption and illegal business dealings are protected and encouraged by Hezbollah. Indeed, the emergence of a more independent secular political class that reflects the October 2019 protests is a serious concern for the militia and its allies in government, so they have chosen to manage the crisis rather than resolve it. Thus far, Hezbollah’s crisis-management efforts have far surpassed those of every other political party, civil society organization, and foreign assistance channel. The group’s military structure, organizational expertise, and access to alternative sources are enabling it to pursue temporary strategies for surviving the current crisis, while also retaining independence from state institutions, preserving a measure of support from its core Shia community, and discouraging Shia from joining any further rounds of public unrest. In the longer term, Hezbollah seems to be hoping that a transformative regional development—perhaps a new U.S.-Iranian nuclear agreement or a favorable U.S.-European partnership on Lebanon—will allow it to resolve its own financial crisis and regain access to hard currency, either from the Iranian regime or through international assistance mechanisms. Yet even if Hezbollah seems fairly well-positioned to weather the storm, the Lebanese people—including the group’s support base—are not. According to a new World Bank report, half the population is living below the poverty line, and more will soon join them if the Central Bank stops subsidizing medicine, fuel, wheat, and other essentials two months from now as projected.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Finance, Economy, Crisis Management, Hezbollah, Welfare, Militias
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Kevjin Lim
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Beijing has steadily become Tehran’s economic ventilator, diplomatic prop, and military enabler, and the Iranians need this backstop now more than ever. When the coronavirus spun out of control in Wuhan this January, Iran ignored the example of many other countries and continued to maintain direct flights and open borders with China. Even after President Hassan Rouhani’s government suspended all such flights on January 31, Mahan Air—a company affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—kept flying between Tehran and four first-tier Chinese cities, leading many to allege that the airline was instrumental in introducing or at least exacerbating Iran’s raging epidemic. Whatever the truth behind these allegations, Mahan’s policy is symptomatic of a larger geopolitical reality: Tehran has become profoundly, disproportionately, and perhaps irretrievably dependent on Beijing, despite its own revolutionary opposition to reliance on foreign powers. Where diplomatic and economic sanctions have fallen short, the pandemic has succeeded in isolating the Islamic Republic like never before, compelling it to keep its borders to China open. COVID-19 has also dispelled the notion that Iran’s heavily-sanctioned “resistance economy” still suffices to keep the country solvent. The government has conceded that staying afloat would be impossible if it curtailed cross-border trade, shut down industries, and quarantined entire cities. The crisis is so severe that Iran’s Central Bank has for the first time in decades requested billions of U.S. dollars in assistance from the IMF. Indeed, according to Deputy Health Minister Reza Malekzadeh, whenever his colleagues questioned why China flights continue, bilateral economic relations were among the reasons given. Two days after the government’s ban on such flights, Chinese ambassador Chang Hua tweeted that Mahan CEO Hamid Arabnejad wanted to continue cooperating with Beijing. Neither man specified exactly what this meant, but the implied message to Tehran was clear given China’s resentment of travel bans. Meanwhile, the Iranian Students News Agency, Tabnak, and other domestic media criticized Mahan for prioritizing profit margins over public health.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions, Geopolitics, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Hiba Itani
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Conference Board estimates the Gulf region’s GDP growth to fall at -5.7 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. The slight improvement in oil prices in Q3 along with the easing of production cuts as of August will give oil GDP a small boost. As worries of a possible second wave of coronavirus in Q4 mount, consumer demand will weaken further, netting the rise in oil GDP.
  • Topic: Oil, GDP, Economy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Hiba Itani
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Gulf countries face a somber outlook, with the GDP of the region expected to contract by 5.9% in 2020 compared to 2019. The Gulf countries whose economies remain highly dependent on hydrocarbon are ahead of “perfect storm” like scenario: a humanitarian crisis, that morphed into a global demand shock and pushed oil prices into a free-fall. A historical oil production cut agreement barely managed to improve prices.
  • Topic: Oil, Natural Resources, GDP, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Kirill Semenov
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The situation in Idlib poses a challenge to the Assad government. Damascus has neither the forces nor the means to resolve the problem. Moreover, any operation conducted against the Syrian moderate opposition and the radical alliance “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS) concentrated in this region could be significantly problematic for the government. Turkey seeks to establish a protectorate or security zone in Idlib to accommodate those fleeing regime-held areas and prevent a new refugees flow into Turkey. The gains achieved by the Turkish operation in Idlib by the establishment of the security zone has potentially been lost as a result of the subsequent Russian backed Syrian government offensive, which has created a problem for Turkey with hundreds of thousands heading toward the Turkish border and threatening to exasperate what is already a costly refugee problem for Ankara. In order for Turkey to address issues in Idlib, including IDPs and economic problems, it first needs to deal with the HTS, ideally finding a way to dissolve the group. This could potentially be an area of cooperation for Moscow and Ankara. This may be necessary to prevent a deterioration in the security situation and long-term destabilisation of the area.
  • Topic: Security, Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Displacement, Syrian War, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Transition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Phil Thornton
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The world is facing unprecedented health and economic crises that require a global solution. Governments have locked down their economies to contain the mounting death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. With this response well underway, now is the time to move into a recovery effort. This will require a coordinated response to the health emergency and a global growth plan that is based on synchronized monetary, fiscal, and debt relief policies. Failure to act will risk a substantial shock to the postwar order established by the United States and its allies more than seventy years ago. The most effective global forum for coordinating this recovery effort is the Group of 20 (G20), which led the way out of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2009, the closest parallel we have to the current catastrophe. Eleven years ago, world leaders used the G20 meeting in London as the forum to deliver a unified response and a massive fiscal stimulus that helped stem economic free fall and prevented the recession from becoming a second Great Depression. A decade on, it is clear that the G20 is the only body with the clout to save the global economy. This does not mean that the G20 should be the only forum for actions for its member states. The United States, for example, should also work closely with like-minded states that support a rules-based world order, and there are many other fora where it can and must be active with partners and allies. But no others share the G20’s depth and breadth in the key focus areas for recovery. The other multilateral organizations that could take up the challenge lack either the substance or membership. The United Nations may count all countries as members but is too unwieldly to coordinate a response. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has the resources but requires direction from its 189 members. The Group of Seven (G7), which once oversaw financial and economic management, does not include the fast-growing emerging economies. The G20 represents both the world’s richest and fastest-growing countries, making it the forum for international collaboration. It combines that representation with agility.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, G20, Global Markets, Geopolitics, Economy, Business , Trade, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Canada, Asia, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: David Mortlock
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Two years ago, US President Donald J. Trump walked into the White House Diplomatic Reception Room and announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran and has adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” to compel Iran to change its behavior and to deny the Iranian regime the resources to engage in its destabilizing activities. However, he also promised he was ready, willing, and able to make a new and lasting deal with Iran. In “Trump’s JCPOA Withdrawal Two Years On – Maximum Pressure, Minimum Outcomes” author David Mortlock, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, evaluates the policy outcomes of President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. The author walks readers through the timeline of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, the subsequent implementation of the maximum pressure campaign on Iran, and the policy outcomes relative to stated objectives. In sum, Mortlock concludes that although the maximum pressure campaign has been effective in inflicting economic harm on Iran, it has had minimum effect in other areas. Therefore, Mortlock believes the Trump administration should seize the opportunity to pivot from maximum pressure to an approach focused more on policy outcomes.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Economy, Donald Trump, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Abigail Eineman
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The June edition of “Sanctions by the Numbers” illustrated a decade of U.S. sanctions policy by using heat maps to show the countries with the largest number of designations. Across both the Trump and Obama administrations, Iran was always at the top of the list. This edition of Sanctions by the Numbers explores Iran sanctions further, tracking how designations and delistings have evolved over time, the dozens of countries affected by Iran-related sanctions programs, and the top types of U.S. designations. The data add to the existing consensus that sanctions have an inverse relationship with Iran’s economic health, and designations have far outpaced delistings in the last three years as part of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Sanctions, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper scans the interests and activities of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt in the Mediterranean Basin – their varying and competing interests, their points of convergence and cooperation, and the challenges and opportunities for Israel. The paper is based on the main points raised at the third meeting of the working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held in September 2019 in the Herzliya offices of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The paper shines a spotlight on key elements in regional relationships and significant activity taking place in the Mediterranean Basin, which Israel must consider in formulating and executing policy. It is based on the presentations and discussions conducted at the event and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Michal Yaari
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article focuses on relations between Israel and Qatar, analyzing them in historical context, in the context of Qatari foreign policy and in terms of their potential and the limitations imposed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The article describes the shift from a mutual conception of hostility to unusual cooperation over the Gaza crisis. While Israel aspires to avoid additional rounds of violence with Gaza, Qatar seeks to strengthen its regional role as a mediator, and mutual interests converge into joint activity to avert an additional military clash between Hamas and Israel. The cooperation between the states illustrates how the Palestinian issue can leverage regional cooperation. At the same time, the untapped diplomatic, economic and civilian potential of Israel-Qatar relations points to the limitations imposed by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy, Conflict, Hamas
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Qatar
  • Author: Einat Levi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This article examines the current Israel-Morocco cooperation and its development through 2019. It briefly describes developments in diplomatic, security, economic and civilian arenas in order to find common ground and identify trends. Naturally, the paper will not elaborate much on the security-intelligence aspect of the cooperation, despite its centrality, due to its classified nature.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: David Walzer
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Israel and the European Union (EU) have built a special, strategic relationship over decades, since the 1960s. Following centuries of war, two world wars, tens of millions dead and destruction across the continent, the EU can be declared as the most successful expression of Europeans’ aspiration for peace and prosperity. With a population of 450 million, the EU is not only Israel’s biggest trade partner, it is also the biggest and most generous aid donor to the Palestinian Authority (PA), without which Israel would be forced to allocate extensive budgetary resources for the PA’s preservation and its commitments. Moreover, a large part of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora has its roots in Europe. Many Israelis aspire to the continent’s standards of moral and cultural values and to its political systems. At the same time, many in Europe see Israel and the Israelis as members of the European family. Agreements on economic, trade, science, and other matters of vital value to Israel have been signed over the years within the framework of the special relationship that has developed with the EU.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, European Union, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on climate change in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin and the challenges and opportunities which it presents Israel. It is based on the main points raised at the fifth meeting of the research and policy group on “Israel in the Mediterranean” held at the IDC School of Sustainability in Herzliya on February 13, 2020 at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The paper highlights the vulnerability of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin to the climate change crisis, the key challenges it poses to different aspects of life in the region, as well as the opportunities for Israel and for regional cooperation in tackling it. The paper sums up the discussions and presentations at the meeting and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper focuses on the impact of the coronavirus on Israel’s relations with the Mediterranean Basin. It is based on the main points raised at the sixth meeting of the research and policy group on “Israel in the Mediterranean” held on May 14, 2020 at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center. The paper highlights the key insights emerging from the Eastern Mediterranean’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic, including the importance of regional cooperation for Israel’s national resilience, the strengthening of Israel’s alliance with Greece and Cyprus, the economic importance of the Mediterranean for Israel, the energy crisis and its impact, and Israel’s ties with Arab states. The paper does not reflect agreement among all the meeting participants.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Economy, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu, Shira Hirsch
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The differentiation policy led by the European Union (EU) distinguishes between the sovereign State of Israel within the 1967 borders and the occupied territories. The BDS Movement calls for what its initials stand for – boycott, sanctions and divestment – to be inflicted upon the whole State of Israel. Although they differ in essence, public discourse in Israel often confuses the two – whether unintentionally, stemming from ignorance, or intentionally because of certain political views. This paper aims to draw a clear distinction between the two policies in order to enable a more nuanced, less impassioned and more conducive dialogue in Israel and with the EU, along with an uncompromising fight against the BDS movement. The EU’s differentiation policy seeks to maintain trade and cooperation with the State of Israel within its 1967 borders, in adherence to international law and Europe’s consumer protection laws – unlike the BDS movement that seeks to boycott and sanction the entire State of Israel. Recognizing the value of EU-Israel relationship, the EU's differentiation policy aims to incentivize Israel to resume negotiations with the Palestinians. The BDS movement, on the other hand, sets goals (such as revoking the right of return and abrogating the Law of Return) that if fully achieved would mean Israel’s end as a Jewish state. The differentiation policy includes an element of normative condemnation but not delegitimization of the State of Israel as a whole, as espoused by the BDS movement. Whereas the differentiation policy implements existing international law, the BDS movement aspires to change the international perception of Israel even within its 1967 borders. Currently, the economic implications of both the differentiation policy and the BDS movement are negligible. However, in the long term, the threat posed by the BDS activities is greater than that of the differentiation policy, since the BDS is not limited to the settlements. The UN recently issued a list of companies operating in the settlements, which could serve in the future to boycott the settlements and damage major companies that play a significant role in Israel’s economy. The EU does not see any connection between its differentiation policy and the BDS movement, to which some European states oppose.
  • Topic: European Union, Economy, Occupation, Borders, BDS
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Galia Press-Barnathan
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: The Trump Peace Plan follows a familiar American pattern of using economic tools to promote regional peace in the Middle East. This paper puts the recent plan in its appropriate context. More specifically, earlier American strategies of economic peacemaking built on three intellectual approaches: The notion of “commercial peace”, which promises peace by way of economic interdependence; the notion of “capitalist peace”, which focuses on the central and primary role of building market economies within individual states in the region; and the notion of “economic statecraft”, which focuses on the direct use of economic carrots and sticks to push regional actors to make certain policy concessions. The paper explores how these policies have played out over time in US policy in the Middle East, and points to the limits of using economic statecraft to coerce actors into peace.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economy, Regional Integration, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Dan Gottlieb, Mordechai Kedar
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The coronavirus crisis has exposed Arab and Islamic notions of fraternity, mutual commitment, and solidarity as hollow rhetorical slogans. Each country in the region is focused entirely on its own efforts to survive economically, socially, and politically as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Roie Yellinek
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: China and Iran have a close relationship, but Beijing’s influence over Tehran is questionable. Its response to the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani offers clues to its view of its own role in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Economy, Political stability, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Dina Fakoussa, Laura Lale Kabis-Kechrid
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Jordan’s stability is severely challenged by socio-economic hardship. The country is plagued by high un-employment rates, an alarming debt-to-GDP ratio of around 94 percent, corruption, and dismal social ser-vices. The fight against terrorism has also resulted in further infringement of rights such as freedom of expression. These grievances have led to a series of protests and strikes in the past two years; the latest strike by teachers has had a far-reaching impact on the public.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Terrorism, Employment, Economy, Freedom of Expression, Protests, Unemployment, Social Cohesion
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Shahin Vallée
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The Beirut Port blast (BPB) has revealed the fundamental failure of the Lebanese political system, but deep democratic reforms will take time and are fraught with risks. Given the US withdrawal and the extreme tensions in the region, the EU has a critical role to play in addressing the short-term humanitarian crisis, responding to the economic and financial situation, and providing a forum for civil society empowerment. If it fails to do so, the price is further geopolitical destabilization.
  • Topic: Civil Society, European Union, Geopolitics, Finance, Economy, Political stability, Crisis Management, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Ali Akbar Dareini
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Coronavirus is killing Iranians, so does Trump by waging a campaign of economic and medical terrorism. Its refusal to lift the sanctions exacerbates the already-tense relations between Tehran and Washington and pushes Iran to redefine its foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Sanctions, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Cheol-Won Lee, Hyun Jean Lee, Mahmut Tekçe, Burcu Düzgün Öncel
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The Agreement on Trade in Services and the Agreement on Investment between Korea and Turkey came into effect in August 2018. This article focuses on the construction sector and the cultural contents sector to seek possible cooperative measures between the two countries.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, Culture, Economy, Investment, Industry
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi, Paul Rivlin delves into the structural factors that led to protests and the overthrow of Sudan's longtime dictator, Omar al-Bashir, in 2019. This background along with more recent developments, explains why some of the leadership in Sudan today believe engagement with Israel makes good economic sense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economy, Omar al-Bashir
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi, Paul Rivlin analyzes several of the key economic effects on the Middle East and North Africa caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden drop in oil prices.
  • Topic: Oil, Economy, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Joel Parker
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In our June issue of Iqtisadi, Joel D. Parker examines the connection between the economic crises in Lebanon and Syria in light of new sanctions imposed by the United States.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Economy, Syrian War, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi Paul Rivlin analyses the underlying factors in the economic problems facing Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and highlights losses in personal income among the populations in these countries that have added fuel to social protests in recent months.
  • Topic: GDP, Economy, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Brandon Friedman, Joshua Krasna, Uzi Rabi, Michael Milshtein, Arik Rudnitzky, Liora Hendelman-Baavur, Joel D. Parker, Cohen Yanarocak, Hay Eytan, Michael Barak, Adam Hoffman
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: This collection of essays, published by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in collaboration with the Moshe Dayan Center (MDC), focuses on how states and societies absorbed the coronavirus shock as the first wave spread through the Middle East, from February through April 2020. It offers a critical examination of how several different Middle East countries have coped with the crisis. This publication is not intended to be comprehensive or definitive, but rather representative and preliminary. Each of these essays draw on some combination of official government data, traditional local and international media, as well as social media, to provide a provisional picture of the interplay between state and society in the initial response to the crisis.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Health Care Policy, Economy, Crisis Management, Sunni, Jihad, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Gulf Cooperation Council, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi: The Middle East Economy, Paul Rivlin analyses the Iranian economy in 2020 in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and economic sanctions.
  • Topic: Economy, Coronavirus, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Joshua Krasna
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In the latest edition of Tel Aviv Notes, Joshua Krasna examines the regional implications of Chevron's purchase of Noble Energy for Israel, Egypt, and Jordan.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Gas, Economy, Business
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Mirette F. Mabrouk, Abla Abdel Latif, Sarah El-Battouty
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Climate change is slowly stamping an imprint on Egypt’s environment, culture, and economy. The most obvious of these challenges is the rising scarcity of water. Egypt is already one of the world’s most water scarce countries; while the UN assesses water scarcity at 1,000 cm3 per person annually, Egypt has less than 560 cm3 per person. Rapid population growth, urbanization, desertification, and unpredictable weather patterns are all taking an unrelenting toll on the country’s strained water resources, while fear is climbing over loss of water from the Nile if the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam holds back water during droughts. Just as worrisome is rising heat. This threatens health, water supplies and, in a country where over 30 percent of the labour force is directly involved in agriculture, Egypt’s harvests. While there has been much work done on water conservation, climate change mitigation policy is unclear. Much of the action is handled by the private sector which is not always invested in the strictest environmental standards. Is it possible to tackle the oncoming threat while balancing mitigation with the need for development?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Culture, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Paul Salem, Ishac Diwan, Fadlo Khuri, Maha Yahya
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon is going through one of the most acute crises in its modern history. A complex economic collapse is driving hundreds of thousands into poverty and the risk of hunger, and shuttering an already wounded economy. A large cross section of the population revolted in October of last year and has created a standoff with a corrupt and sectarian oligarchy. The government is unable to chart and implement a way out of the crisis, and state institutions stand on the brink of failure. The multiple crises have threatened all sectors, including the critical education sector, previously one of the success stories of the country; universities, like other institutions, have been hard hit.
  • Topic: Poverty, Sectarianism, Hunger, Economy, Protests, Crisis Management, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Darin LaHood, Paul Salem, Edward M. Gabriel, Jean AbiNader, Mona Yacoubian
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Lebanon is on the brink of collapse due to its domestic economic and political crises, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another failed state in the Middle East would negatively impact strategic US interests. Lebanon requires a thorough reorientation towards stability and renewed socio-economic sustainability, which entails fundamental domestic reforms and targeted international support led by the US. The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) are pleased to co-host the public launch of a joint policy paper, Recommendations for a Sustainable Bilateral Relationship. What are the strategic interests the US has in Lebanon’s stability, and how can the US support Lebanese prosperity? Is the Lebanese government’s new financial recovery plan sufficient for the US to initiate support for the government? In what ways can the US best support a strong future for Lebanon?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Political stability, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Laith Al Ajlouni, Sara Kayyali, Oraib Al Rantawi, Rana Husseini
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The start of the new decade in Jordan has been marred by unrest. In January, thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest both President Trump’s Middle East peace plan and the gas deal signed between Israel and Jordan. This wave of dissent came on the heels of the 2019 protests against increased austerity measures, a follow up to the 2018 movement that saw the resignation of Hani Mulki’s government. Though Jordan quickly adopted stringent measures to combat the virus, the economy will suffer a huge blow, exacerbating Jordan’s existing development challenges and popular discontent. Furthermore, the pandemic prompted troubling restrictions on freedom of speech, with an April decree stating that sharing anything that may “cause panic” about the pandemic is punishable with up to three years in prison. How have protest movements in Jordan been impacted by Covid-19, and what do recent protests over honor killings and gender based violence portend for progress in this area? How do these long standing grievances meet the current moment of the impending Israeli annexation? What will be the long term impact of the pandemic on Jordan’s economy and human rights, especially for the country’s millions of refugees?
  • Topic: Refugees, Economy, Political stability, Protests, Austerity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Huda Kanoo, Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Raed Asfour, Eckhard Thiemann, Neda Ulaby
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Cultural festivals play an important role in expanding and enriching the communities and cities that host them, providing platforms for artists, and contributing to economies. But given the enduring impact of Covid-19 in the Middle East and globally, festivals are having to rethink their models and innovate to find new ways to reach audiences while remaining engaging and relevant. How might these new challenges impact broader cultural production, audience engagement and more, in a region where platforms and opportunities for the performing arts are already so limited? Join leading festival directors and thought leaders for a discussion about the challenges and opportunities faced by cultural festivals in this new environment. Speakers include H.E. Huda Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Festival, Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, assistant director-general for culture at UNESCO, Raed Asfour, director of the Al Balad Music Festival, Eckhard Thiemann, CEO and artistic director of the Shubbak festival. Moderated by NPR culture reporter Neda Ulaby.
  • Topic: Arts, Culture, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Ron Peeters, Micah Loudermilk, Chris Kubecka, Maya Horowitz
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: The cyber threat landscape and economic composition of the Middle East are unique. Operational technology threats are a critical risk in the region, both because of its heavily resource-based economies and its high reliance on electric and water infrastructure. This panel will explore the unique components of the cyber security landscape in the Middle East, and seek to determine the best practices for operational cyber security professionals working in the region. The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to welcome a group of industry experts to discuss cyber security challenges, opportunities, and courses of action facing companies in the Middle East. This panel is sponsored by Synack, a leading cyber security company who combines the world's most skilled and trusted ethical hackers with AI-enabled technology to create a scalable, effective security solution. What is the cyber threat environment like in the Middle East today? What types of threat actors and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) are most common? How does the environment differ from other regions of the world?
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Economy, Artificial Intelligence, Industry
  • Political Geography: Middle East