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Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt

June 27, 2015 Comments off

Collusion to Crackdown: Islamist-Military Relations in Egypt
Source: Brookings Institution

Nearly two years after ousting President Muhammad Morsi, Egypt’s military continues to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Much like during Egypt’s 1952-54 political transition, the recent interactions between the powerful armed state bureaucracy and the influential religious organization have had a major impact on the country’s political trajectory. In both instances, the military and Muslim Brotherhood initially cooperated before ultimately clashing violently. How has each entity determined what approach to take toward the other? What does a continued imbalance in civil-military relations mean for Egypt’s future?

In a new Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, Omar Ashour examines the legacies and patterns of cooperation and conflict between the leaderships of Egypt’s military and the Muslim Brotherhood. Relying on extensive field research, he analyzes how each entity has made its critical decisions regarding the other by applying various decision-making models. Ashour considers the impact of cost-benefit analysis, organizational dynamics, factional disputes, and psychological factors to gain a deep understanding of the leaders’ motives.

Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants in the United States

June 26, 2015 Comments off

Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

As of 2013, approximately 1.02 million immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region resided in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of the nation’s 41.3 million immigrants. Migration from the MENA region to the United States, motivated mainly by political instability in the region and economic opportunities abroad, began in the 18th century and has occurred in three phases.

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt

June 3, 2015 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt
Source: Energy Information Administration

Analysis – Energy Sector Highlights

  • Egypt is the largest non-OPEC oil producer in Africa and the second-largest dry natural gas producer on the continent. The country also serves as a major transit route for oil shipped from the Persian Gulf to Europe and to the United States.
  • Egypt is the largest oil and natural gas consumer in Africa, accounting for about 20% of petroleum and other liquids consumption and 40% of dry natural gas consumption in Africa in 2013. Energy subsidies have contributed to rising energy demand and a high budget deficit.
  • One of Egypt’s challenges is to satisfy increasing oil demand amid falling production. Total oil consumption grew by an annual average of 3% over the past 10 years. Egypt’s oil consumption currently outpaces its oil production.

Roundup of Recent Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East

April 21, 2015 Comments off

Roundup of Recent Congressional Research Service Reports on the Middle East (PDFs)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Dead Hand of Socialism: State Ownership in the Arab World

September 12, 2014 Comments off

The Dead Hand of Socialism: State Ownership in the Arab World
Source: Cato Institute

Extensive government ownership in the economy is a source of inefficiency and a barrier to economic development. Although precise measures of government ownership across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are hard to come by, the governments of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen all operate sizeable segments of their economies—in some cases accounting for more than two-thirds of the GDP.

International experience suggests that private ownership tends to outperform public ownership. Yet MENA countries have made only modest progress toward reducing the share of government ownership in their economies and are seen as unlikely candidates for wholesale privatization in the near future.

MENA countries need to implement privatization in order to sustain their transitions toward more representative political systems and inclusive economic institutions. Three main lessons emerge from the experience of countries that have undergone large privatization programs in the past. First, the form of privatization matters for its economic outcomes and for popular acceptance of the reform. Transparent privatization, using open and competitive bidding, produces significantly better results than privatization by insiders, without public scrutiny. Second, private ownership and governance of the financial sector is crucial to the success of restructuring. Third, privatization needs to be a part of a broader reform package that would liberalize and open MENA economies to competition.

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt
Source: Energy Information Administration

Egypt is the largest oil producer in Africa outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the second-largest natural gas producer on the continent, behind Algeria. Egypt plays a vital role in international energy markets through the operation of the Suez Canal and Suez-Mediterranean (SUMED) Pipeline.

The Suez Canal is an important transit route for oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments traveling northbound from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America and southbound shipments from North Africa and countries along the Mediterranean Sea to Asia. The SUMED Pipeline is the only alternative route nearby to transport crude oil from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea if ships were unable to navigate through the Suez Canal. Fees collected from the operation of these two transit points are significant sources of revenue for the Egyptian government.

Middle East Transitions: A Long, Hard Road

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Middle East Transitions: A Long, Hard Road
Source: International Monetary Fund

Since the onset of the Arab Spring, economic uncertainty in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen (Arab Countries in Transition, ACTs) has slowed already sluggish growth; worsened unemployment, particularly of youth; undermined business confidence, affected tourist arrivals, and depressed domestic and foreign direct investment. Furthermore, political and social tensions have constrained reform efforts. Assessing policy options as presented in the voluminous literature on the Arab Spring and based on cross-country experience, this paper concludes that sustainable and inclusive growth calls for a two pronged approach: short term measures that revive growth momentum and partially allay popular concerns; complemented with efforts to adjust the public’s expectations and prepare the ground for structural reforms that will deliver the desired longer tem performance.

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