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Posts tagged ‘Arab spring’

Forget the Coup: Egypt’s Economy Is the Real Problem

Any new permanent government will face the choice Morsi had but never made: market economic reforms on the one hand and a command-and-control statist economy on the other.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

(This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman is a frequent contributor)

Egypt’s political dilemmas are based, in important part, on its economic dilemmas. But since the overthrow of the Morsi government, far less attention has been paid to crucial economic issues than the political and constitutional conflicts. But economic issues–and the lack of a legitimated economic vision–have been as much a cause of the unrest, change and uncertainty in Egypt, and during both the Mubarak and Morsi tenures. And they may be more intractable.

Any new permanent government will face the choice Morsi had but never made: between market economic reforms on the one hand, led by economists and business people to promote growth, jobs, and trade, and a command-and-control statist economy on the other, which provides subsidies for essentials like energy and staples like bread, rice, and sugar–and also provides sinecures for ex-military officers. Part of the problem is that “liberalizing” reforms–there have been three waves since the end of Nassar’s regime than 40 years ago–are perceived as helping the rich and reflecting crony capitalism, rather than raising Egypt as a whole.

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The Shifting Nature of Iran’s Regional Policy

Kayhan Barzegar

By Kayhan Barzegar

This article was first published on December 17, 2012 in Persian by Tabnak

The Arab Spring has resulted in a shift in the nature of Iran’s regional policy from  a traditional “reconciliation and resistance” approach to a “regional cooperation” approach. The new approach aims to strike a balance between strengthening cooperation with states in the region and containing threats through maintaining traditional relations with ideological movements. As a result, a new kind of pragmatism has emerged in Iran’s regional policy.

Prior to the Arab Spring, Iran was only able to enhance its role and project influence in the region through establishing close relations with the Arab Street and Islamist movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Of course, the establishment of a Shiite-majority government in Iraq and its closer relations with Iran was a turning point. But with the Arab Spring and the emergence of new nationalist-Islamist governments, such as that of Egypt, which seek an independent and active role in regional issues, an opportunity has emerged for Iran to simultaneously establish close relations with these Arab states. Read more

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The Arab Spring and the Balance of Power in the Middle East

Kayhan Barzegar

By Kayhan Barzegar

The Arab Spring can be seen as a turning point in the regional balance of power of the Middle East. Previously, the “balance of power” was determined at the level of classic players—the states—and therefore was easier. However, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the roles of states are now combined with the “dynamics of internal politics”—making them much more complicated.

From the outset of the Arab Spring, the domestic socio-political issues of the Arab countries—democratization, political reform, Islamization, elimination of authoritarianism, establishment of a market economy and middle class, and human rights issues have become the priorities in these countries. This development has impacted the objectives of the regional players in the context of balance of power.

In these new circumstances, each of the regional and trans-regional players seeks to restrain threats and enhance its influence. Turkey and the West pursue a greater role in order to extend their political leadership. On the other hand, Iran, Russia, China, and even Saudi Arabia seek greater roles to contain threats and enhance their security. Therefore, factors such as “model,” “ideology,” and “economy” are all employed to enhance the roles of the players. Read more

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Vigilance essential in coming months

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We must remain especially vigilant over the next weeks and months. There is likely to be a global spike in terrorist threats as al-Qaeda digs deep in increasingly desperate attempts to avenge their leader’s death and reestablish their relevance on the world stage.

Of most concern, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the presumptive new leader of the group, may try to make good on his 2008 promise to mount a mass casualty attack on US soil. Al-Qaeda’s ability to do so will depend on what concrete plans, if any, that they already have in motion; the group’s capacity is likely to continue diminishing over time. Read more

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