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Posts tagged ‘Middle East’

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, 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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Israel’s Missing Naval Strategy

Ehud Eiran

By Ehud Eiran

Former Associate and Research Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

In a March 19 piece on Foreign Affairs. com, Retired Admiral Yual Zur and I argued for the development of a comprehensive Israeli maritime strategy. Israel not only resides on the shores of the Mediterranean, but also relies on the seas for almost all of its imports, exports and cable communications. In many ways – due its political, economic, and cultural isolation for the Middle-East – Israel had become an island of sorts.

While the Jewish state’s founding father, David Ben Gurion, believed that the seas hold the key for the state’s future, over the years, the role of the sea in the eyes of national planners declined. Israel has no clear strategy regarding the seas and how they might contribute for its future prosperity. It further lacks the institutional depth expected from a nation that is so dependent on the seas. For example, Israel has no coast guard and the number of Israeli civilian sailors declined from some 1500 a few decades ago, to less than 300 today. But recent strategic developments must lead Israel to close its maritime gap.

First, massive gas deposits found in the last few years in Israeli economic waters are going to become a crucial part of its economy. Second, the seas had become a major supply route of arms for Israel’s non-state foes. Third, the growing tensions with Iran should lead Israel to develop platforms that have a longer reach, the navy’s being an obvious choice. Finally, Israel benefits from the rise of new international maritime security regimes, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, and may need to think more seriously about how it could contribute to them.

The full article is available at Foreign Affairs.

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Win the Minds or Lose the Region

Francisco Martin-Rayo

By Francisco Martin-Rayo

The recent attacks against U.S. embassies around the world, the murder of U.S. diplomats, and their associated hateful images, have shocked the American public and confounded policymakers.  Although many Americans and academics have asked the question, “What changed?” these attacks are simply the most recent example of a long-term trend in the region that undermines U.S. values and interests.  Unless U.S. policymakers take concrete steps to counter the influence of extremists in these countries, the United States will find itself more isolated, ineffective, and unable to defend its national interests in the most important region in the world. Read more

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U.S. should push for regime change in Iran

Chuck Freilich

Chuck Freilich

The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum

By Chuck Freilich, Senior Fellow, International Security Program

The popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East are breathtaking and apparently far from over. After decades of paralysis and ossification, the entire Middle Eastern landscape is changing before our eyes.

With the rapidity of events elsewhere, attention has been diverted from Iran, in which all of the components of the revolutionary situation, which gave rise to the uprisings in the Arab world, exist as well, even more so. Read more

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The power of the Shamal

By Richard A. Clarke

By Richard Clarke

Having wandered recently among the orange-red dunes of the Arabian desert, my mind is filled with analogies about shifting sands, blurred vision, and the stark clarity that can come when the winds settle down.  The winds on this peninsula and in the nearby Sahara are still blowing, the new dunes still being formed, but we can say some things about the shape of the Arab world that will emerge.

Unless the United States and its Arab allies are unusually diligent, skilled, and lucky, the new configuration will be less supportive of US interests, at least in the short term. That is not a judgment about what we should have done or should do now, nor is it meant to be a justification for the regimes that are being swept from power. It is meant only to be an analytical conclusion. Read more

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The Arab World’s 1989? Who’s next?

By Graham Allison and Joseph Costa

By Graham Allison and Joseph Costa

The wave of uprisings in the Middle East surprised everybody from regional experts and government intelligence agencies to investment banks and geopolitical consulting firms. Since our original February 18th posting, we have seen Libya ignited in war. Bahrain and Yemen continue to quake.  Saudi Arabia is actively working to ensure its own streets do not erupt. U.S. officials and others are hoping that the infection will spread to the heart of Tehran.

A core question remains: from which country (or countries) will the current leader (king, president, prime minister, or head of state by any other title) be out within the next 2 months?  Within the next 6 months? To assist in answering this question, we previously posted a chart with an array of indicators of potential instability. We thank those readers who provided helpful feedback on ways to improve this first iteration and we are posting an updated version below. Read more

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The Power Problem: Nicholas Burns on what the U.S. should do about Libya

The Power Problem is an occasional series of mini-forums on Power & Policy, asking specialists from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School to suggest policy responses by the United States to pressing world issues. We invite readers to comment.

We asked our experts: What should the United States do now that Qaddafi is digging in? And what is the gravest risk for the United States in the Libyan crisis?

Read other views from from Stephen M. Walt and Rami G. Khouri

By Nicholas Burns

By Nicholas Burns

By Nicholas Burns, Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School; Director, Future of Diplomacy Project; and Faculty Chair for the Programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia.

Muammar Qaddafi is a weird, brutal, cynical and vile dictator whose fall from power would be cheered from one end of the world to another.  The United States should do everything we can to isolate him, cut off the flow of funds to his gangster-style family dictatorship and turn Arab and world opinion against him.   President Obama is right to deploy a naval task force off the Libyan coast to pressure and intimidate him, to prepare to extract refugees, to bring food and medical aid to suffering Libyans and, perhaps, ultimately, to intervene. Read more

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