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.
Many Sunnis and Shias Worry About Religious Conflict; Concern Especially High Among Muslims in Lebanon
Many Sunnis and Shias Worry About Religious Conflict; Concern Especially High Among Muslims in Lebanon
Source: Pew Religion & Public Life Project
This week Sunni and Shia Muslims ushered in the Islamic New Year and the beginning of the holy month of Muharram. For Shias, the month also is a time to mourn the events that sparked the centuries-old schism between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Pew Research Center polls conducted in 2011-2012 find high levels of concern about sectarian tensions in several countries where Sunnis and Shias live side by side. These concerns are particularly pronounced in Lebanon, where fully two-thirds of all Muslims, including about half of Shias and 80% of Sunnis, say sectarian tensions are a very big or moderately big problem. Roughly half of all Muslims in Iraq, more than four-in-ten in Afghanistan and nearly a quarter in Iran say the same.
The polls were conducted from November 2011 to May 2012 among a total of more than 5,000 Muslims in five countries with substantial numbers of both Shias and Sunnis (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon). Although Shias make up only about 10%-13% of the world’s Muslims, three of the five countries surveyed (Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan) have Shia-majority populations. Several of the countries polled also have a recent history of sectarian violence. This includes Lebanon, where a civil war was fought along sectarian lines from 1975 to 1991, and Iraq and Afghanistan, where bombings and other suspected sectarian attacks have occurred in the last few years.
Preparing for “Hybrid” Opponents: Israeli Experiences in Lebanon and Gaza
Source: RAND Corporation
The experiences of the Israel Defense Forces against hybrid opponents — Hezbollah and Hamas — in the recent conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza will help the U.S. Army understand the capabilities that it and the joint force will require in the future.
The Role of Hezbollah in Post-Conflict Lebanon (PDF)
Source: European Parliament
The Lebanese Hezbollah is a difficult organisation to grasp; it’s several identities – be it as movement, a political party, and armed resistance group or as a terrorist – are nevertheless all intertwined at the Lebanese level. Born in a Lebanese C BRIEFING an Islamic organisation context, operating from a Lebanese territorial point of view, Hezbollah has integrated the Lebanese political system and has built its existence on the liberation of Lebanon. That notwithstanding, its pan-Islamic outlook and its strong narrative have contributed to its reputation as a fundamentally globally acting jihadi organisation. Although Hezbollah has managed to establish itself as a constant feature on the Lebanese political scene, its weapons’ arsenal are now questioned by other Lebanese, and its engagement in Syria fundamentally threaten Lebanese civil peace.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
DHS Needs to Enhance Management of Major Investments
Evaluations Needed to Determine Effectiveness of U.S. Aid to Lebanon’s Security Forces
VETERAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES
Planning and Data System for VA’s Verification Program Need Improvement
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.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Lebanon’s small geographic size and population belie the important role it has long played in the security, stability, and economy of the Levant and the broader Middle East. Congress and the executive branch have recognized Lebanon’s status as a venue for regional strategic competition and have engaged diplomatically, financially, and at times, militarily to influence events there. For most of its independent existence, Lebanon has been torn by periodic civil conflict and political battles between rival religious sects and ideological groups. External military intervention, occupation, and interference have exacerbated Lebanon’s political struggles in recent decades.
Lebanon is an important factor in U.S. calculations regarding regional security, particularly vis-avis Israel and Iran. Congressional concerns have focused on the prominent role that Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shiite militia, political party, and U.S.-designated terrorist organization, continues to play in Lebanese politics and regional security. Congress has appropriated over $1 billion since the end of the brief Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006 to support U.S. policies designed to extend Lebanese security forces’ control over the country and promote economic growth.
The civil war in neighboring Syria threatens to destabilize Lebanon. Over 110,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon and reports suggest that regional supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al Asad are using Lebanon as a transit point and staging ground in a wider regional conflict. The assassination of a leading Lebanese security official on October 19, 2012, has renewed accusations by some Lebanese observers of Syrian sponsorship of attacks against Lebanese leaders. The attack sparked civil unrest and calls by Lebanese opposition parties for the resignation of the current cabinet, which is controlled by pro-Asad forces. The question of how best to marginalize Hezbollah and other potentially anti-U.S. Lebanese actors without provoking civil conflict among divided Lebanese sectarian political forces remains the underlying challenge for U.S. policy makers. In the wake of the October assassination, the Obama Administration has endorsed calls for leadership change prior to planned May 2013 parliamentary elections. On October 31, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth Jones visited Lebanon and met with Lebanese officials to encourage that “a peaceful transition be formulated without creating a political vacuum.”
This report provides an overview of Lebanon and current issues of U.S. interest. It provides background information, analyzes recent developments and key legislative debates, and tracks legislation, U.S. assistance, and recent congressional action. It will be updated to reflect major events or policy changes.
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.
Few observers would have predicted the dramatic changes over the past few months in the Arab world. Arab governments appeared to be in tight control, and many Arab economies were growing around or above the world average over the past few years. Annual growth rates in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, and Sudan averaged more than 6 percent between 2005 and 2010; and Syria, Tunisia, and Libya grew at about 5 percent on average during the same period of time. Official poverty rates in most Arab countries are lower than in many Asian and Latin American countries.However, experts have long identified slow progress in economic diversification and job creation, social inequalities, and persistent food insecurity as major development challenges for Arab countries. Did these factors and, more broadly, people’s dissatisfaction with their living standards contribute to the recent uprisings? At first glance, the sudden turn of events and the generally low coverage, quality, and accessibility of data in the Arab world make it difficult to find answers to this question. By looking beyond more conventional data, however, this policy brief provides some insights into the potential role of economics in the ongoing uprisings. It also reviews major policy responses of Arab governments and provides a new narrative of Arab development that is based on inclusive economic transformation, food security, and decisionmaking.
Department of State Travel Warning: Lebanon
Source: U.S. Department of State
The Department of State continues to urge U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on April 4, 2011, to update information on security and kidnapping threats, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly. Access to borders, airports, and seaports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Public demonstrations occur frequently with little warning and have the potential to become violent. Family or neighborhood disputes often escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with little or no warning. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may at times be severely limited.
A number of extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including some, such as Hizballah, that the U.S. government has designated as terrorist organizations. U.S. citizens have been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity continues to exist in Lebanon. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel. U.S. citizens also should pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners generally are known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
Country Specific Information: Lebanon
Source: U.S. Department of State
May 05, 2011
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Lebanon is a parliamentary republic. Political power is concentrated in the office of the President, Prime Minister, and Speaker of Parliament, each representing one of Lebanon’s three largest religious sects (Maronite Christians, Sunni and Shi’a Muslims). Since 1973, Lebanon has been in a state of war with Israel. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Lebanon for additional information.