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Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt : Facts and Perceptions across People, Time, and Space

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Inside Inequality in the Arab Republic of Egypt : Facts and Perceptions across People, Time, and Space
Source: World Bank

This book joins four papers prepared in the framework of the Egypt inequality study financed by the World Bank. The first paper prepared by Sherine Al-Shawarby reviews the studies on inequality in Egypt since the 1950s with the double objective of illustrating the importance attributed to inequality through time and of presenting and compare the main published statistics on inequality. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such a comprehensive review is carried. The second paper prepared by Branko Milanovic turns to the global and spatial dimensions of inequality. The objective here is to put Egypt inequality in the global context and better understand the origin and size of spatial inequalities within Egypt using different forms of measurement across regions and urban and rural areas. The Egyptian society remains deeply divided across space and in terms of welfare and this study unveils some of the hidden features of this inequality. The third paper prepared by Paolo Verme studies facts and perceptions of inequality during the period 2000-2009, the period that preceded the Egyptian revolution. The objective of this part is to provide some initial elements that could explain the apparent mismatch between inequality measured with household surveys and inequality aversion measured by values surveys. No such study has been carried out before in the Middle-East and North-Africa (MENA) region and this seemed a particular important and timely topic to address in the light of the unfolding developments in the Arab region. The fourth paper prepared by Sahar El Tawila, May Gadallah and Enas Ali A. El-Majeed assesses the state of poverty and inequality among the poorest villages of Egypt. The paper attempts to explain the level of inequality in an effort to disentangle those factors that derive from household abilities from those factors that derive from local opportunities. This is the first time that such study is conducted in Egypt. The book should be of interest to any observer of the political and economic evolution of the Arab region in the past few years and to poverty and inequality specialists that wish to have a deeper understanding of the distribution of incomes in Egypt and other countries in the MENA region.

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CRS — Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

January 24, 2014 Comments off

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides an overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and information on U.S. foreign aid to Egypt.

The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the late 1970s. U.S. policy makers have routinely justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running cooperation with the Egyptian military and on sustaining the March 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Successive U.S. Administrations have publicly characterized Egypt’s government as generally influencing developments in the Middle East in line with U.S. interests.

U.S. policy makers are now debating complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations, and these debates and events in Egypt are shaping consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation in the 113th Congress.

Fostering Synergies for Advancing Women’s Rights in Post-Conflict Islamic States: A Focus on Afghanistan, Egypt, and Libya

December 9, 2013 Comments off

Fostering Synergies for Advancing Women’s Rights in Post-Conflict Islamic States: A Focus on Afghanistan, Egypt, and Libya
Source: Brookings Institution

Finding common ground among diverse stakeholders on women’s rights in Muslim-majority states is critical to advancing democracy and human development. This paper examines ways to champion and sustain progress on women’s rights amid renewed Islamic constitutionalism by searching for common approaches among Muslim women activists, members of the ulama, and legal advocates.

FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world

November 23, 2013 Comments off

FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world
Source: Thompson Reuters

Egypt is the worst country for women in the Arab world, closely followed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, according to gender experts surveyed in a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll released on Tuesday.

Comoros, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar came top of the survey, which assessed 22 Arab states on violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.

The results were drawn from answers from 336 gender experts invited to participate in an online survey by the foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news and information company Thomson Reuters, in August and September.

+ Complete poll results

Solving Egypt’s Subsidy Problem

November 14, 2013 Comments off

Solving Egypt’s Subsidy Problem
Source: Cato Institute

Subsidies to consumer goods, including fuels and food, account for almost one third of Egypt’s public spending, or 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Not only are subsidies highly ineffective in helping the poor, they are also an increasingly unsustainable drain on the country’s public finances and its foreign reserves. Yet reform remains a thorny issue in Egypt’s unstable political environment—mostly because subsidies are the main instrument of social assistance used by the government.

Subsidies to consumer goods and fuels have existed in the country since the 1920s. Various approaches are available for scaling them down or eliminating them altogether. However, most of the prior attempts to reform the subsidy system in Egypt have failed. Cash transfers targeted at the poor would be a superior policy relative to the status quo.

Eliminating subsidies and replacing them with cash transfers would produce significant savings and would be politically feasible. A successful reform of subsidies will have to be accompanied by a series of complementary reforms, which would reduce food insecurity in the country and improve supply chains in the areas of food and energy by introducing competition. Finally, prudent macro economic policies, including a reduction in inflation rates, will be necessary to contain the potential effects of food and energy price hikes on poorer households.

Sinai Security: Opportunities for Unlikely Cooperation Among Egypt, Israel, and Hamas

October 31, 2013 Comments off

Sinai Security: Opportunities for Unlikely Cooperation Among Egypt, Israel, and Hamas
Source: Brookings Institution

With U.S. aid to Egypt now limited to areas of mutual interest, U.S. focus shifts to Egyptian counterterrorism and border security operations in the Sinai Peninsula. U.S. concern about Sinai is longstanding. However, since the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, what had been a buffer zone between Egypt and Israel has become increasingly lawless and unstable, threatening both countries.

The Saban Center’s new Analysis Paper, Sinai Security: Opportunities for Unlikely Cooperation Among Egypt, Israel, and Hamas, examines the interests of various actors in, and neighboring, Sinai; considers areas of mutual concern; and lays out the individual capabilities Egypt, Israel and Hamas have for addressing these threats, as well as opportunities for all parties to combine their core strengths to better address mutual interests. Despite these shared interests, the relationship between each of these actors is also extremely complicated. As such, this paper also considers obstacles to cooperation and opportunities for the United States to encourage trust-building and intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel.

Arab Countries in Transition – Economic Outlook and Key Challenges – Deauville Partnership Ministerial Meeting

October 11, 2013 Comments off

Arab Countries in Transition – Economic Outlook and Key Challenges – Deauville Partnership Ministerial Meeting
Source: International Monetary Fund

In an environment of heightened socio-economic tensions, regional insecurity, and strained public finances, the Arab Countries in Transition (ACTs) 1 face the difficult task of delivering on the expectations for jobs and growth. Despite patchy improvements in some countries, economic growth remains subdued, private investment is weak, and external and fiscal buffers are running low. Fostering social cohesion and avoiding a downward spiral of economic and political malaise calls for urgent implementation of economic reforms and coordinated support from the international community.

CRS — Egypt in Crisis: Issues for Congress (9/12/13)

September 23, 2013 Comments off

Egypt in Crisis: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides a brief overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt. U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations, particularly in light of the growing unrest and violence currently unfolding. These debates are shaping consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation and congressional oversight options in the 113 th Congress.

To date, the Obama Administration has “strongly condemned” the ongoing violence in Egypt, has focused on urging all parties to resolve the conflict peacefully, and has denounced the imposition of martial law. President Obama also has canceled a joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercise planned for September referred to as Bright Star, a multinational training exercise co-hosted by the United States and Egypt annually since 1981. On August 18, the Administration announced that it had put a hold on future financing for programs funded by annual $250 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF). On July 24, the Administration notified Egypt that it had halted the delivery of four F-16 fighter aircraft to Egypt acquired by Egypt under a 2010 purchase contract for 20 F-16 C/D fighters. According to various media sources, the Administration also may be considering delaying shipments of Apache attack helicopters and repair kits for tanks.

For additional background on Egypt, please see CRS Report RL33003, Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations , by Jeremy M. Sharp.

A Coup too Far: The Case for Reordering U.S. Priorities in Egypt

September 20, 2013 Comments off

A Coup too Far: The Case for Reordering U.S. Priorities in Egypt
Source: Brookings Institution

With the Egypt’s transition effectively on ice after the military coup and anti-Americanism at new heights, hopes of the United States playing a positive role in nurturing Egyptian democracy have all but died. Citing the limits of its influence and a lack of resources, Washington has, since the start of the Arab Spring, fallen back on an approach that resembles the “authoritarian bargains” of the past.

In this Brookings Doha Center paper, Shadi Hamid and Peter Mandaville call for a comprehensive re-think of U.S. policy toward Egypt. The paper argues that the coup and subsequent crackdown present a critical opportunity to review the rational of the bilateral relationship. There is a need to question the long-held belief that U.S. military assistance is a price that needs to be paid to ensure Cairo’s compliance with the Camp David Accords. Moving beyond the mythology of Camp David is a necessary first step in reimagining the U.S.-Egypt relationship and anchoring it on more solid ground for the longer term.

The authors argue that the United States has significantly more leverage with Egypt than is commonly assumed and that it should deploy that leverage to temper the Egyptian army’s excesses and push for an inclusive political process. The paper also explores options for managing the difficult regional context, in which close U.S. allies in the Gulf work at cross purposes with American interests in Egypt.

Internet Freedom and Political Space

September 6, 2013 Comments off

Internet Freedom and Political Space
Source: RAND Corporation

The Internet has become a new battleground between governments that censor online content and those who advocate freedom to browse, post, and share information online for all, regardless of their place of residence. This report examines whether and how furthering Internet freedom can empower civil society vis-à-vis public officials, make the government more accountable to its citizens, and integrate citizens into the policymaking process. Using case studies of events in 2011 in Egypt, Syria, China, and Russia, researchers focus on the impact of Internet freedom on freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and the right to cast a meaningful vote, all of which are the key pillars of political space. Researchers analyze the mechanisms by which Internet freedom can enhance the opportunities to enjoy these freedoms, how different political contexts can alter the opportunities for online mobilization, and how, subsequently, online activism can grow out into offline mobilization leading to visible policy changes. To provide historical context, researchers also draw parallels between the effects of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty programs in the Soviet Union during the Cold War and the ongoing efforts to expand Internet freedom for all. The report concludes by discussing implications for the design of Internet freedom programs and other measures to protect “freedom to connect.”

CRS — Egypt in Crisis: Issues for Congress

August 23, 2013 Comments off

Egypt in Crisis: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides a brief overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt. U.S. policy makers are now grappling with complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations, particularly in light of the growing unrest and violence currently unfolding. These debates are shaping consideration of appropriations and authorization legislation and congressional oversight options in the 113th Congress.

To date, the Obama Administration has “strongly condemned” the ongoing violence in Egypt, has focused on urging all parties to resolve the conflict peacefully, and has denounced the imposition of martial law. President Obama also has canceled a joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercise planned for September referred to as Bright Star, a multinational training exercise co-hosted by the United States and Egypt annually since 1981. On August 18, the Administration announced that it had put a hold on future financing for programs funded by annual $250 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF). On July 24, the Administration notified Egypt that it had halted the delivery of four F-16 fighter aircraft to Egypt acquired by Egypt under a 2010 purchase contract for 20 F-16 C/D fighters. According to various media sources, the Administration also may be considering delaying shipments of Apache attack helicopters and repair kits for tanks.

For additional background on Egypt, please see CRS Report RL33003, Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jeremy M. Sharp.

State Department Travel Warning: Egypt

August 21, 2013 Comments off

State Department Travel Warning: Egypt
Source: U.S. Department of State

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Egypt and U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time because of the continuing political and social unrest. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on July 3, 2013.

On August 14, the Government of Egypt declared a State of Emergency that includes a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. in select governates, including Cairo and Alexandria. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens who choose to remain in Egypt to comply with local regulations and follow local media for updates applicable to your specific location.

Political unrest, which intensified prior to the constitutional referendum in December 2012, the anniversary in 2013 of Egypt’s 25th January Revolution, and the July 2013 change of government, shows little sign of abating. Demonstrations have, on numerous occasions, degenerated into violent clashes between security forces and protesters, and between protesters supporting different factions, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. There have been instances of the use of firearms as well. While most violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including downtown Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, and Port Said, there are recent reports of more widespread political and social violence, including armed attacks, in other areas of Egypt. Of continued concern is gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the targets of sexual assault.

The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt

August 2, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt
Source: Energy Information Administration

Egypt is the largest oil producer in Africa that is not a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the second largest natural gas producer on the continent, following 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 if ships were unable to navigate through the Suez Canal. Fees collected from operation of these two transit points are significant sources of revenue for the Egyptian government.

In Africa, Egypt has the third largest population, after Nigeria and Ethiopia, and the second highest gross domestic production (GDP), in purchasing power parity at current international prices, after South Africa, according to the latest 2011 statistics from the World Bank. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicates that after the Egyptian revolution in 2011 the country experienced capital outflows and a sharp drop in tourism revenue and foreign direct investment. Annual GDP growth in Egypt dropped to 1.8 percent in 2011 from 5.1 percent in 2010.

Despite this slower growth, oil and gas production and operations largely have been unaffected, although some foreign companies have withdrawn nonessential foreign staff as a precautionary measure because of uncertainty in the country. In addition, shipments of oil and LNG through the Suez Canal have been unaffected, as the Egyptian army continues to guard the Canal.

The most visible effect of the 2011 revolution and the recent unrest on Egypt’s energy sector has been a series of attacks on the Arab Gas Pipeline, which prior to the revolution had transported natural gas to Jordan and Israel. Gas exports to both countries were significantly reduced in 2011. In 2012, natural gas exports to Israel were halted, according to the Arab Oil and Gas Journal. In addition, growing domestic demand for oil and gas amid stagnant production has led to energy shortages, contributing to continued protests and sporadic unrest in the country.

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update

July 23, 2013 Comments off

Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia: Quarterly Update
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was created on January 14, 2009 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1851. This voluntary ad hoc international forum brings together over 80 countries, organizations, and industry groups with a shared interest in combating piracy. Chaired in 2013 by the United States, the Contact Group coordinates political, military, and non-governmental efforts to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia, ensure that pirates are brought to justice, and support regional states to develop sustainable maritime security capabilities. The European Union will assume the chairmanship in 2014.

Through its five thematic working groups, the Contact Group draws on a wide range of international expertise and adopts a problem-solving approach to piracy, working closely with Somali officials from the central government and regional administrations and officials in Indian Ocean States. Working Group 1, chaired by the United Kingdom, focuses on operational naval coordination, information sharing, and capacity building; Working Group 2, chaired by Denmark, addresses legal and judicial issues; Working Group 3, chaired by the Republic of Korea, works closely with the shipping industry to enhance awareness and build capabilities among seafarers transiting the region; Working Group 4, chaired by Egypt, aims at raising public awareness of the dangers of piracy; and Working Group 5, chaired by Italy, focuses on disrupting the pirate criminal enterprise ashore, including the illicit financial flows associated with maritime piracy.

This unique international partnership is contributing to a significant decline in piracy off the Horn of Africa. The last successful pirate attack on a merchant vessel in the region occurred on May 10, 2012.

Voting Patterns in Post-Mubarak Egypt

March 26, 2013 Comments off

Voting Patterns in Post-Mubarak Egypt

Source: RAND Corporation

While much has been written on the electoral strength of Islamists in Egypt, most analysis has been done at the national level, ignoring regional divides within the country. As a means of helping U.S. policymakers and Middle East watchers better understand voting patterns in Egypt since the 2011 revolution, RAND researchers identified the areas where Islamist parties run strongest and the areas where non-Islamists are most competitive. They found that while Islamists perform well across the whole of the country, they draw their strongest electoral support in Upper Egypt, North Sinai, and sparsely populated governorates in the west, while non-Islamist parties fare best in Cairo and its immediate environs, Port Said, South Sinai, and the sparsely populated governorates abutting the Red Sea. Tracking electoral performance over time reveals a narrowing of the gap between Islamist parties and their non-Islamist rivals. Islamists thoroughly dominated the initial parliamentary elections held in late 2011 and early 2012, just as their position prevailed overwhelmingly in the March 2011 referendum on the interim constitution. However, the MB candidate eked out a victory in the June 2012 presidential contest, and the December 2012 referendum on the permanent constitution passed more narrowly than the interim charter. Egypt appears headed toward a much more competitive political environment in which Islamists will be increasingly challenged to maintain their electoral edge.

Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age — 14 Countries, 2008–2010

November 2, 2012 Comments off

Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age — 14 Countries, 2008–2010

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in reproductive-aged women can cause adverse reproductive health outcomes, such as pregnancy complications, fetal growth restriction, preterm delivery, stillbirths, and infant death (1–3). Data on tobacco use and SHS exposure among reproductive-aged women in low- and middle-income countries are scarce. To examine current tobacco use and SHS exposure in women aged 15–49 years, data were analyzed from the 2008–2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) from 14 low- and middle-income countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam. The results of this analysis indicated that, among reproductive-aged women, current tobacco smoking ranged from 0.4% in Egypt to 30.8% in Russia, current smokeless tobacco use was <1% in most countries, but common in Bangladesh (20.1%) and India (14.9%), and SHS exposure at home was common in all countries, ranging from 17.8% in Mexico to 72.3% in Vietnam. High tobacco smoking prevalence in some countries suggests that strategies promoting cessation should be a priority, whereas low prevalence in other countries suggests that strategies should focus on preventing smoking initiation. Promoting cessation and preventing initiation among both men and women would help to reduce the exposure of reproductive-aged women to SHS.

Does food security matter for transition in Arab countries?

August 13, 2012 Comments off

Does food security matter for transition in Arab countries?
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute

Expectations are high that transition in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen will bring about more freedom, justice, and economic opportunities. However, experiences from other world regions show that countries in transition are at high risk of entering conflicts, which often come at large economic, social and political costs. In order to identify options on how conflict may be prevented in Arab transition countries, this paper assesses the key global drivers of conflicts based on a dataset from 1960 to 2010 and improved cross-country regression techniques. Results show that unlike in other studies where per capita incomes, inequality, and poor governance, among other factors, emerge as the major determinants of conflict, food security at macro- and micro-levels emerges as the main cause of conflicts in the Arab world. This “Arab exceptionalism in conflict” suggests that improving food security is not only important for improving the lives of rural and urban people; it is also likely to be the key for a peaceful transition.

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt

July 31, 2012 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt

Source: Energy Information Administration

Egypt is the largest oil producer in Africa that is not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the second largest natural gas producer on the continent, following Algeria. Egypt also plays a vital role in international energy markets through the operation of the Suez Canal andSuez-Mediterranean (SUMED) Pipeline, important transit points for oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments from African and Persian Gulf states to Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Fees collected from operation of these two transit points are significant sources of revenue for the Egyptian government.

State Department — Egypt — Country Specific Information

July 12, 2012 Comments off

Egypt — Country Specific Information
Source: U.S. Department of State

On the night of October 9, 2011 demonstrations in downtown Cairo, in the vicinity of Tahrir Square, turned violent and resulted in numerous deaths and hundreds of injuries. A series of elections for the lower and upper houses of parliament isare scheduled to take place from November 2011 through March 2012. Politically-motivated rallies and demonstrations are likely to occur in the period leading to and likely following the elections. In the past nine months, demonstrations have degenerated on several occasions into violent clashes between police and protesters, in some instances resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and lead to clashes with security forces or even rival groups.

There have been instances of instability and public disorder in some other areas of Egypt, most notably in the Nile Valley governorates of Assiut and Sohag, located between Cairo and Luxor. These governorates, along with the adjacent governorates of Minya and Qena, have been areas of extremist activity in the past. U.S. Embassy personnel traveling to these areas (apart from Luxor and adjacent tourist destinations) require advance approval. Egyptian authorities also restrict the travel of foreigners to these governorates. U.S. citizens planning to travel in these areas should contact the Embassy prior to travel.

The Rise of Diabetes Prevalence in the Arab Region

May 31, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Open Journal of Epidemiology
Introduction:
Arab populations have many similarities and dissimilarities. They share culture, language and religion but they are also subject to economic, political and social differences. The purpose of this study is to understand the causes of the rising trend of diabetes prevalence in order to suggest efficient actions susceptible to reduce the burden of diabetes in the Arab world.
Method:
We use principal component analysis to illustrate similarities and differences between Arab countries according to four variables: 1) the prevalence of diabetes, 2) impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), 3) diabetes related deaths and 4) diabetes related expenditure per person. A linear regression is also used to study the correlation between human development index and diabetes prevalence.
Results:
Arab countries are mainly classified into three groups according to the diabetes comparative prevalence (high, medium and low) but other differences are seen in terms of diabetes-related mortality and diabetes related expenditure per person. We also investigate the correlation between the human development index (HDI) and diabetes comparative prevalence (R = 0.81).
Conclusion:
The alarming rising trend of diabetes prevalence in the Arab region constitutes a real challenge for heath decision makers. In order to alleviate the burden of diabetes, preventive strategies are needed, based essentially on sensitization for a more healthy diet with regular exercise but health authorities are also asked to provide populations with heath- care and early diagnosis to avoid the high burden caused by complications of diabetes.
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