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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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Responding to Libya’s Political and Security Crises: Policy Choices for the United States – CRS Insights

August 6, 2014 Comments off

Responding to Libya’s Political and Security Crises: Policy Choices for the United States – CRS Insights
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Deepening conflict and political tension in Libya are threatening civilians and may drag the country off the path of transition and toward civil war. (Read the CRS background report here.) Intense clashes near Tripoli between militias have closed the capital’s international airport and further strained relations among political factions. On July 26, the State Department suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy (located near the Tripoli airport) and evacuated personnel under U.S. military escort. Fighting also continues around Benghazi between armed Islamist groups and forces allied with an anti-Islamist former military commander, Khalifa Haftar.

The fragmentation of political and military power in Libya since the end of the 2011 anti-Qadhafi conflict and the absence of capable state institutions compound the difficulty of restoring order. In late July 2014, Libya’s acting cabinet issued a vague call for international assistance, but some Libyan legislators responded by rejecting the prospect of any foreign military intervention. On July 23, acting Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al Thinni clarified his government’s call for international support and pleaded with combatants to pull back “before our country reaches a point of no-return and becomes involved in an unjustifiable, full-blown war.”

Some observers have warned that fighting among militias and mutual suspicions among political factions could derail the work of the recently-elected Council of Representatives (COR) and delay that legislative body’s selection of a new cabinet. Meanwhile, Members of Congress and Administration officials may consider new options for encouraging Libyans to end the fighting and agree to security and political arrangements to bring the transition period to a close.

CRS — Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

May 23, 2014 Comments off

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Libya’s post-conflict transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. To date, the elected General National Congress (GNC) and the interim executive authorities that it has endorsed have failed to address pressing security issues, reshape the country’s public finances, or create a viable framework for postconflict justice and reconciliation. The insecurity that was prevalent in Libya in the wake of the 2011 conflict has deepened, and armed militia groups and locally organized political leaders remain the most powerful arbiters of public affairs.

At present, potentially divisive political, economic, and social issues are being debated by rival groups in the absence of credible state security guarantees. These issues include the proposed decentralization of some national administrative authority, competing fiscal priorities, the provision of local and national security, the proper role for Islam in political and social life, and concerns about the ongoing exploitation of Libyan territory by terrorists, arms traffickers, and criminal networks. The U.S. State Department now describes Libya as a “terrorist safe haven,” and U.S. military and intelligence officials have warned about threats to U.S. interests emanating from Libya in recent statements and congressional testimony.

CRS — Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

May 14, 2014 Comments off

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Libya’s post-conflict transition has been disrupted by armed non-state groups and threatened by the indecision and infighting of interim leaders. To date, the elected General National Congress (GNC) and the interim executive authorities that it has endorsed have failed to address pressing security issues, reshape the country’s public finances, or create a viable framework for postconflict justice and reconciliation. The insecurity that was prevalent in Libya in the wake of the 2011 conflict has deepened, and armed militia groups and locally organized political leaders remain the most powerful arbiters of public affairs.

Just Released — Review of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, together with Additional Views

January 15, 2014 Comments off

Review of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, together with Additional Views (PDF)
Source: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

The purpose of this report is to review the September 11-12, 2012, terrorist attacks against two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. This review by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (hereinafter “SSCI” or “the Committee”) focuses primarily on the analysis by and actions of the Intelligence Community (IC) leading up to, during, and immediately following the attacks. The report also addresses, as appropriate, other issues about the attacks as they relate to the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of State (State or State Department). It is important to acknowledge at the outset that diplomacy and intelligence
collection are inherently risky, and that all risk cannot be eliminated. Diplomatic and intelligence personnel work in high-risk locations all over the world to collect information necessary to prevent future attacks against the United States and our allies. Between 1998 (the year of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania) and 2012, 273 significant attacks were carried out against U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel. 1 The need to place personnel in high-risk locations carries significant vulnerabilities for the United States. The Committee intends for this report to help increase security and reduce the risks to our personnel serving overseas and to better explain what happened before, during, and after the attacks.

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

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.

Country Analysis Brief: Libya

October 10, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Libya
Source: Energy Information Administration

Libya joined the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1962, a year after it began to produce oil. Libya now holds the largest amount of proved crude oil reserves in Africa, the fourth largest amount of proved natural gas reserves on the continent, and it is an important contributor to the global supply of light, sweet (low sulfur) crude oil, which Libya mostly exports to European markets.

Libya’s hydrocarbon production and exports have been substantially affected by civil unrest over the past few years. The civil war in 2011 resulted in the fall of Col. Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi’s regime and the gradual consolidation of control over most parts of the country by the Transitional National Council (TNC) and affiliated rebel militias. Libya’s hydrocarbon exports suffered a near-total disruption during the civil war, and the minimal and sporadic production that did occur was mostly consumed domestically. In response to the loss of Libya’s oil supplies in the summer of 2011 the International Energy Agency (IEA) coordinated a release of 60 million barrels of oil from the emergency stocks of its member countries through the Libya Collective Action – the first such release since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Libya’s oil production recovered in 2012, but it still remained lower than levels prior to the civil war. After the civil war ended, labor-related protests occurred sporadically at various oil fields and installations. Protests at oil fields escalated in June 2013, affecting output at some of Libya’s major oil fields. In July and August, protests at key oil loading ports in the central and eastern regions, by workers and guards that were hired to protect the facilities, crippled the oil sector and led to the near-halt in production from the oil fields linked to ports after most storage tanks became full. Production at two major oil fields in the west were shut down in late August after the Zintan militia closed pipelines linking the fields to loading ports but output in the west resumed in mid-September.

CRS — Arab League Boycott of Israel

March 15, 2013 Comments off

Arab League Boycott of Israel (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Office)

The Arab League, an umbrella organization comprising 22 Middle Eastern and African countries and entities, has maintained an official boycott of Israeli companies and Israeli-made goods since the founding of Israel in 1948. The boycott is administered by the Damascus-based Central Boycott Office, a specialized bureau of the Arab League.

The boycott has three tiers. The primary boycott prohibits citizens of an Arab League member from buying from, selling to, or entering into a business contract with either the Israeli government or an Israeli citizen. The secondary boycott extends the primary boycott to any entity world-wide that does business in Israel. A blacklist of global firms that engage in business with Israel is maintained by the Central Boycott Office, and disseminated to Arab League members. The tertiary boycott prohibits an Arab League member and its nationals from doing business with a company that deals with companies that have been blacklisted by the Arab League.

Since the boycott is sporadically applied and ambiguously enforced, its impact, measured by capital or revenue denied to Israel by companies adhering to the boycott, is difficult to measure. The effect of the primary boycott appears limited since intra-regional trade and investment are small. Enforcement of the secondary and tertiary boycotts has decreased over time, reducing their effect. Thus, it appears that since intra-regional trade is small, and that the secondary and tertiary boycotts are not aggressively enforced, the boycott may not currently have an extensive effect on the Israeli economy.

Despite the lack of economic impact on either Israeli or Arab economies, the boycott remains of strong symbolic importance to all parties. The U.S. government has often been at the forefront of international efforts to end the boycott and its enforcement. Despite U.S. efforts, however, many Arab League countries continue to support the boycott’s enforcement. U.S. legislative action related to the boycott dates from 1959 and includes multiple statutory provisions expressing U.S. opposition to the boycott, usually in foreign assistance legislation. In 1977, Congress passed laws making it illegal for U.S. companies to cooperate with the boycott and authorizing the imposition of civil and criminal penalties against U.S. violators. U.S. companies are required to report to the Department of Commerce any requests to comply with the Arab League Boycott.

The current list of countries that request U.S. companies to participate or agree to participate in boycotts prohibited under U.S. law includes Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

This report provides background information on the boycott and U.S. efforts to end its enforcement. More information on Israel is contained in CRS Report RL33476, Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti.

CRS — Chemical Weapons: A Summary Report of Characteristics and Effects

January 25, 2013 Comments off

Chemical Weapons: A Summary Report of Characteristics and Effects (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The potential for terrorist use of chemical agents is a noted concern highlighted by the Tokyo sarin gas attacks of 1995. The events of September 11, 2001, increased congressional attention towards reducing the vulnerability of the United States to such unconventional attacks. The possibility that terrorist groups might obtain insecure chemical weapons led to increased scrutiny of declared Libyan chemical weapon stockpiles following the fall of the Qadhafi regime. Experts have expressed similar concerns regarding the security of purported Syrian chemical weapons, reportedly including stocks of nerve (sarin, VX) and blister (mustard gas) agents, and their potential use.

Military planners generally organize chemical agents, such as chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals, into four groups: nerve agents (such as sarin and VX), blister agents (such as mustard gas), choking agents (such as chlorine and phosgene), and blood agents (such as hydrogen cyanide). While the relative military threat posed by the various chemical types has varied over time, terrorist use of these chemicals against civilian targets is viewed as a low probability, high consequence event.

Chemical weapons and toxic industrial chemicals cause a variety of symptoms in their victims. These symptoms depend on the chemical agent used, and a victim of chemical exposure may exhibit a combination of symptoms. Some chemical agents cause death by interfering with the nervous system. Some chemical agents inhibit breathing and lead to asphyxiation. Other chemical agents have caustic effects on contact. As a result, effective chemical attack treatment depends on identifying at least the type of chemical agent used. Additionally, chemical agents trapped on the body or clothes of victims may place first responders and medical professionals at risk. Civilian protection from and detection of chemical agents is an area of federal concern. Whether terrorist groups are capable of using chemical agents as weapons of mass destruction is unclear.

Some experts have asserted that the volumes of chemicals required to cause mass casualties makes that scenario unlikely. They claim that chemical terrorism is more likely to be small in scale. Other experts have suggested that there has been an increase in terrorist interest regarding chemical agents, and that this interest could lead to their use in terrorist attacks. Some experts assert that insecure stockpiles of military-grade chemical agents would lower the barrier to terrorist acquisition of chemical agents and thus increase the possibility that terrorists might use them. The change of regimes in Libya and Egypt and recent events in Syria have increased concern that such military-grade chemical agents might transition into terrorist hands and then be used to attack U.S. sites either domestically or abroad.

State Department — Benghazi — Accountability Review Board (ARB) Report (Unclassified)

December 19, 2012 Comments off

State Department — Benghazi — Accountability Review Board (ARB) Report (Unclassified) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of State

1. The attacks were security related, involving arson, small arms and machine gun fire, and the use of RPGs, grenades, and mortars against U.S. personnel at two separate facilities – the SMC and the Annex – and en route between them. Responsibility for the tragic loss of life, injuries, and damage to U.S. facilities and property rests solely and completely with the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks. The Board concluded that there was no protest prior to the attacks, which were unanticipated in their scale and intensity.

2. Systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department (the “Department”) resulted in a Special Mission security posture that was inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.

3. Notwithstanding the proper implementation of security systems and procedures and remarkable heroism shown by American personnel, those systems and the Libyan response fell short in the face of a series of attacks that began with the sudden penetration of the Special Mission compound by dozens of armed attackers.

4. The Board found that intelligence provided no immediate, specific tactical warning of the September 11 attacks. Known gaps existed in the intelligence community’s understanding of extremist militias in Libya and the potential threat they posed to U.S. interests, although some threats were known to exist.

5. The Board found that certain senior State Department officials within two bureaus demonstrated a lack of proactive leadership and management ability in their responses to security concerns posed by Special Mission Benghazi, given the deteriorating threat environment and the lack of reliable host government protection. However, the Board did not find reasonable cause to determine that any individual U.S. government employee breached his or her duty.

See also: Secretary Clinton’s Letter to Congress Regarding the Accountability Review Board (ARB) Report (PDF)

CRS — Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy

October 26, 2012 Comments off

Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi underscored the serious security challenges facing Libya’s citizens, their newly elected leaders, and U.S. diplomats. U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel were killed after armed individuals attacked and burned buildings on the main mission compound and subsequently attacked a second annex site where U.S. personnel had been evacuated. Libyan officials and citizens have condemned the murder of U.S. personnel and investigations have begun. Armed non-state groups continue to operate in many areas of the country. On August 27, the U.S. State Department had warned U.S. citizens against visiting Libya and stated that “intermilitia conflict can erupt at any time or any place in the country.”

Libya’s post-conflict transition is underway, as Libyans work to consolidate change from the 40- year dictatorship of Muammar al Qadhafi to a representative government based on democratic and Islamic principles. Recent flare-ups in violence have coincided with a number of important steps in the country’s political transition. On July 7, 2012, Libyan voters chose 200 members of a General National Congress (GNC) in the country’s first nationwide election in nearly 50 years. The GNC has elected its leadership and is now overseeing national government affairs. The GNC elected a prime minister-designate in September, but later removed him in a no-confidence vote after his proposed cabinet list was rejected. The GNC selected Ali Zeidan as prime minister designate on October 14, and is expected to determine the method for selecting members of a drafting committee to prepare a new constitution. If voters approve a constitution in a referendum, then new elections are to be held by mid-2013, bringing a nearly two-year transition to a close. Security conditions are the immediate concern of Libyans and their leaders.

In the wake of the July election, Libya’s interim leaders remain answerable to a wide range of locally and regionally organized activists, locally elected and appointed committees, prominent personalities, tribes, militias, and civil society groups seeking to shape the transition and safeguard the revolution’s achievements. Many Libyans have hoped that the elected GNC and the yet-to-be-appointed cabinet will enjoy greater legitimacy that will enable them to act decisively on security issues and other key areas, such as fiscal affairs and post-conflict justice and reconciliation. However, the insecurity prevalent in Libya complicates important issues, including debates over the centralization of government authority, the provision of security, the proper role for Islam in political and social life, and related concerns about the potential for Libyan territory to be exploited by terrorists, arms traffickers, and criminal networks.

The proliferation of military weaponry from unsecured stockpiles—including small arms, explosives, and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles (MANPADs)—remains a serious concern. The Obama Administration has been implementing a program with Libyan authorities to retrieve and disable weapons, including MANPADs. U.S. officials believe that nuclear materials and chemical weapons components are secure (including previously undeclared chemical weapons), and Libyan leaders have recommitted to destroying the remnants of Qadhafi’s chemical arsenal.

As of October 2012, the U.S. government has allocated more than $200 million in assistance for Libya since the start of the uprising in 2011. Attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities have disrupted U.S. aid programs temporarily. However, since the attacks, U.S. officials have proposed expanded security cooperation to Libyan officials and underscored a U.S. commitment to partnership with Libya. As Libyans work to shape their future, Congress and the Obama Administration have the first opportunity since the 1960s to fully redefine U.S.-Libyan relations.

Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte

October 24, 2012 Comments off

Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte

Source Human Rights Watch

This 58-page report details the final hours of Muammar Gaddafi’s life and the circumstances under which he was killed. It presents evidence that Misrata-based militias captured and disarmed members of the Gaddafi convoy and, after bringing them under their total control, subjected them to brutal beatings. They then executed at least 66 captured members of the convoy at the nearby Mahari Hotel. The evidence indicates that opposition militias took Gaddafi’s wounded son Mutassim from Sirte to Misrata and killed him there.

Under the laws of war, the killing of captured combatants is a war crime, and Libyan civilian and military authorities have an obligation to investigate war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law.

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.

Predicting the Impact of the 2011 Conflict in Libya on Population Mental Health: PTSD and Depression Prevalence and Mental Health Service Requirements

July 18, 2012 Comments off

Predicting the Impact of the 2011 Conflict in Libya on Population Mental Health: PTSD and Depression Prevalence and Mental Health Service Requirements

Source: PLoS One

Background

Mental disorders are likely to be elevated in the Libyan population during the post-conflict period. We estimated cases of severe PTSD and depression and related health service requirements using modelling from existing epidemiological data and current recommended mental health service targets in low and middle income countries (LMIC’s).

Methods

Post-conflict prevalence estimates were derived from models based on a previously conducted systematic review and meta-regression analysis of mental health among populations living in conflict. Political terror ratings and intensity of exposure to traumatic events were used in predictive models. Prevalence of severe cases was applied to chosen populations along with uncertainty ranges. Six populations deemed to be affected by the conflict were chosen for modelling: Misrata (population of 444,812), Benghazi (pop. 674,094), Zintan (pop. 40,000), displaced people within Tripoli/Zlitan (pop. 49,000), displaced people within Misrata (pop. 25,000) and Ras Jdir camps (pop. 3,700). Proposed targets for service coverage, resource utilisation and full-time equivalent staffing for management of severe cases of major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are based on a published model for LMIC’s.

Findings

Severe PTSD prevalence in populations exposed to a high level of political terror and traumatic events was estimated at 12.4% (95%CI 8.5–16.7) and was 19.8% (95%CI 14.0–26.3) for severe depression. Across all six populations (total population 1,236,600), the conflict could be associated with 123,200 (71,600–182,400) cases of severe PTSD and 228,100 (134,000–344,200) cases of severe depression; 50% of PTSD cases were estimated to co-occur with severe depression. Based upon service coverage targets, approximately 154 full-time equivalent staff would be required to respond to these cases sufficiently which is substantially below the current level of resource estimates for these regions.

Discussion

This is the first attempt to predict the mental health burden and consequent service response needs of such a conflict, and is crucially timed for Libya.

Libya: Rule of Law or Rule of Militias?

July 9, 2012 Comments off

Libya: Rule of Law or Rule of Militias?
Source: Amnesty International

Two sisters aged 27 and 32 were stopped by a militia at a checkpoint in February 2012 and forced at gunpoint to a nearby farm. One was suspended from a door for hours, had boiling water poured over her head, and was beaten and stabbed while being accused of supporting the former government of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi. The other was also suspended and beaten. The husband of one of them, who was detained at the same time, has disappeared.

This family is among the mounting toll of victims of an increasingly lawless Libya, where the transitional authorities have been unable or unwilling to rein in the hundreds of militias formed during and after the 2011 conflict that ended the rule of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi. The militias are now threatening the very future of Libya and casting a shadow over landmark national elections scheduled for July 7, 2012. They are killing people, making arbitrary arrests, torturing detainees and forcibly displacing and terrorizing entire communities, often solely for reasons of revenge. They are also recklessly using machineguns, mortars and other weaponry during tribal and territorial battles, killing and maiming bystanders. They act above the law, committing their crimes without fear of punishment.

Country Analysis Brief: Libya

July 1, 2012 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Libya
Source: Energy Information Administration

Libya produced an estimated 1.65 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of mostly high-quality light, sweet crude oil prior to the onset of unrest in February 2011. Libyan oil and natural gas exports suffered a near-total disruption in the months of intense fighting to follow, as the minimal and sporadic oil production that did occur was mostly consumed domestically. As a result, in the summer of 2011, the International Energy Agency (IEA) coordinated a release of 60 million barrels of oil from the emergency stocks of its member countries through the “Libya Collective Action” – the first such release since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Libyan oil production began its resurgence in September 2011, following the deposition of Col. Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi’s regime and the gradual consolidation of control over most parts of the country by the Transitional National Council (TNC) and affiliated rebel militias. Crude oil production was estimated to have recovered to at least 1.4 million bbl/d by May 2012, as the impressive pace of the sector’s recovery exceeded the expectations of most industry analysts. Nonetheless, there are significant downside as well as upside risks to the outlook for Libyan oil production due to continued uncertainty about security conditions, state cohesion, political institutions, the return of foreign capital and expertise, contract terms, and industry oversight.

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.

Unveiling the Revolutionaries: Cyberactivism and Women’s Role in the Arab Uprisings

May 24, 2012 Comments off
Source: James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy (Rice University)

This research introduces several of the key figures leading the revolutionary convulsions in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Yemen, and explores how young women used social media and cyberactivism to help shape the “Arab Spring” and its aftermath. The engagement of women with social media has coincided with a shift in the political landscape of the Middle East, and it is unlikely that they will ever retreat from the new arenas they have carved out for themselves. Throughout the region, women have taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers, translating digital advocacy and organization into physical mobilization and occupation of public spaces in a dialectic of online and offline activism that is particular to this era. They have used citizen journalism and social networking to counter the state-dominated media in their countries and influence mainstream media around the world. In the process, they are reconfiguring the public sphere in their countries, as well as the expectations of the public about the role women can and should play in the political lives of their countries.

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