Showing posts with label Middle East. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle East. Show all posts

April 28, 2014

To preview Syria’s future, consider Algeria today

    Monday, April 28, 2014   No comments

Algeria was destined to become an African powerhouse. The largest country in the continent, it is populated by only 39 million people but endowed with huge natural resources: 159 trillion cubic feet (tcf) and 12.2 billion barrels of proven natural gas and oil reserves, respectively, and vast expanses of land, desert, and mountains. A country rich with such resources should not have a problem building a sustainable economy. However, corruption and a brutal civil war similar to the one going on in Syria transformed Algeria into Africa’s most disappointing state. How and why did such a promising country sink so low?

February 19, 2014

What President Obama should tell the Saudi rulers?

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014   No comments

President Obama
On the same day when Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree criminalizing Saudi citizens’ participation in the war in Syria (or joining Jihadi groups), the White House confirmed that President Obama will be visiting the Kingdom in March. It seems a reasonable assumption that during this v­isit, Obama will attempt to synchronize U.S. and Saudi diplomacy over two key issues: the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, and the crisis in Syria. 

The agenda of the meeting in Riyadh could in fact be reduced to a single conversation about Iran, since Iran is also a key ally of the Syrian government. Rather than focusing on these issues, however, the President should focus on convincing the Saudi rulers to abandon their reliance on violent sectarian warriors to exert influence in the region and around the world, especially their support of religious zealots attempting to overthrow governments the Saudis don’t like. 

February 15, 2014

Breaking the Cycle: Could Iranian and U.S. officials overcome their mutual distrust?

    Saturday, February 15, 2014   No comments

Breaking the Cycle: Could Iranian and U.S. officials overcome their mutual distrust?

Rafsanjani and Khatami
After inking an interim agreement at the end of 2013, Iran and the P5+1 must now finalize a final nuclear agreement within six months. If they fail, U.S. and Iran will relive the cycle of mutual hostility in which the two countries have been entangled for more than three decades. Both parties seem eager to break that vicious cycle this time around. Iran has its own reasons: no actual interest in building nuclear weapons and strong interest in finding new markets and opportunities for its emerging economy. Western powers claim that the devastating effects of the harsh economic sanctions and the election of moderate Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani, are the main reasons for optimism. Let’s examine both reasons in the context of historical facts.

March 27, 2013

Turkey's lost and future opportunities in Syria

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013   No comments

by Foti Benlisoy and Annalena Di Giovanni

A few months ago, in January 2013, an accident in a steel factory of Gaziantep, a bordering town in southwest Turkey, claimed the lives of seven workers. Under normal circumstances such news would have passed unobserved and eventually forgotten; Turkey is after all a country in which workplace accidents in factories are a daily, albeit silent, occurrence. But this time two among the seven workers were Syrians. And like most Syrians, they were unregistered, insecure, and deprived of any protective measures while on duty.

Syrian refugees, numbering in the hundreds of thousands, are the new source of manpower in southern factories. Employed outside any state regulation, they are desperate enough to accept work for any pay and condition. In a word, they are cheaper than local labour and Kurdish seasonal workers. Another very telling episode is that of a factory in Adıyaman where employees on strike are voicing concerns that they face the sack and replacement by cheaper and more submissive Syrian refugees. In a war of poor against poorer, local workers already uneasy with aid and facilities provided by the government to the refugee camps are now afraid to lose their jobs, while traders and merchants lament their plummeting revenues from exports and tourism in Syria. For the population of southern Turkey, the struggle against Bashar Al-Assad is simply a catastrophe. And for this catastrophe they are blaming the Erdoğan government, and his support to the Syrian opposition. 

February 28, 2013

Will the Arab Spring Spread to Iran?

    Thursday, February 28, 2013   No comments

 by Jacob Havel

The advent of the so called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East and North Africa has come about with incredible velocity and intensity. The world has seen dictators, who had been in power for decades, fall in the blink of an eye in both Tunisia and Egypt.  Consequently, the possibility of revolution in the region has become a topic of discussion. Vital factors that contribute to the onset of these revolutions are widespread and unique to each country, Several factors, however, including a frustrated youth, economic hardship, poverty, and governmental structure, including Western relations, can be seen as a common thread in both Egypt and Tunisia. Does a regional power such as Iran possess these factors in the same way? The possibility of revolution in Iran can be based on a breakdown of these so called “revolutionary ingredients” as they were present in Egypt and Tunisia and how they compare to the Iranian situation.

It is important to explain why the youth, economic hardship, and governmental makeup are the most important factors in these revolutions. The youth are a driving force simply because of the fact that they are young. They are not as jaded to the issues of their country as older generations, many of whom have endured the regimes for their entire lives. Youth in today’s world are connected, through technology, with the rest of the planet, which recognizes them as a medium to move global information and support into these countries. The youth, however, are not only active, they are frustrated. The causes of these frustrations are largely related to economic hardship in the countries. Economic disparity and poverty strip people of their dignity, which is a vital ingredient if they are to overcome the fear of their current regimes. Finally, the structure of the regimes themselves is important. As it will be discussed later, the leaders in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt have long held power. They act as a clear enemy and allow the efforts of the youth and all who feel oppressed to focus their efforts on the simple act of ousting these governments. These three factors are the most basic pieces and also the most important to the occurrence of the modern day revolutions.

With the emerging governments in Tunisia and Egypt and the distraction of bureaucracy, it is easy to forget how these revolutions began. It was primarily through the action of the frustrated youth.

February 24, 2013

What does Iran want from the P5+1?

    Sunday, February 24, 2013   No comments

And what do the P5+1 want from Iran?

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*
Iran and the P5+1 group (United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany) are to resume negotiations in Almaty, Kazakhstan on February 26. Their last meeting was eight-month ago in Moscow. That meeting did not produce a breakthrough and that was expected because, in part, the U.S. was not prepared to offer anything of significance at a time when the president was facing re-election. With Obama re-elected and a new national security team being put in place, both sides must feel that they can make some progress. Otherwise there would be no reason to try again. That much was signaled by the new Secretary of State John Kerry who encouraged Iran two days ago (on Friday) to make a serious offer and promised that “the international community is ready to respond”. So what can Iran offer? Or more importantly, what can’t Iran offer?

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