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In Egypt, the military regime under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi demonstrated neither the will nor the ability to introduce urgently needed far-reaching reforms, particularly in areas concerning social issues. But the loan comes at a high price for the country's poorest in particular, as it involved floating the Egyptian pound against the U. The price of daily necessities such as foodstuff and medicines thus increased.
The government has sought to attract foreign investment, presenting plans at the Egyptian Economic Development Conference at Sharm el-Sheikh to improve private property rights and cut red tape. Kuwait's economy suffered losses primarily in terms of ensuring an environment conducive to fair competition. Small businesses and start-ups in particular face a number of challenges overcoming bureaucratic hurdles, while oligarchs and the emir's relatives continue to dominate key sectors of the economy. The government response to low oil prices involved introducing structural reforms and unpopular cuts to the public sector and subsidies.
Many of the losses recorded in Turkey can be attributed to the government's harsh response to the failed coup of July and the state of emergency declared in its wake. Since then, the private sector has had to grapple with several complications, including the expropriation of private property from firms deemed to be critical of the government. The broad-scale dismissal of thousands of educators and professors constitutes a severe blow to educational quality and will have a negative impact on training and job qualification levels.
The slump in tourism has already forced the flagship enterprise Turkish Airlines to park several airplanes in the hangar and strike unprofitable routes from its roster. Tunisia's tourism sector, one of the country's strongest sources of foreign currency, has also yet to reach its potential.
Strikes and protests are thus common, but the government is reluctant to introduce reforms and does so on an ad hoc basis.
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And although the trade unions and their umbrella organization, UGTT, have done much to ensure political stability in the country since , their strong position is nonetheless worthy of criticism. Their reticence to accept measures that would foster, for example, a more flexible labor market, has helped stall rather than advance reforms. Competition legislation reform and measures introduced in to strengthen the Competition Council mark minor successes in improving the regulatory framework for fair competition in economic activity.
Hollow steering capacity, corrupt networks, weak consensus-building: Not a single government in the MENA region can be distinguished as demonstrating good transformation management. Fears of terrorism and migration are playing into the hands of those in power. BTI transformation management scores for governments across the MENA region have never been so low as they are for this period under review. In nearly every country across the region, voters have no real say in determining who will lead their country or in voting them out of office.
Instead, most governments in the region are held accountable to a clientelistic network. In the case of commodity-rich countries, it is exceedingly difficult to exert pressure from the outside to democratize. And even the resource-poor states such as Egypt and Jordan are often courted — not criticized — by the EU and the United States as the fight against terrorism and efforts to stem irregular migration take precedence.
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Appeals to the so-called will of the people by government leaders from Rabat to Tehran to Ankara and Khartoum are more easily made during periods of intense political instability. Indeed, it is far too simple for these governments to cite security as their prime directive. The case of Turkey demonstrates where this type of polarizing and confrontational governance style leads.
However, the two leaders share similar populist strategies: Both claim to be backed by a united popular will and to be battling a so-called enemy of the state that is active both at home and abroad. There is precious little in the way of good news for the region in terms of governance. The United Arab Emirates registered slight progress in its fight against corruption and the effective use of support. The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi achieved some success, particularly with respect to conflict management.
Old and in poor health, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika rarely makes public appearances and serves more or less as a puppet of the security forces. Morocco also recognized Tamazight as a national language through a legislative change in However, at the same time, massive protests erupted in outrage over social inequalities and police brutality following the death of a fish vendor whose stand had been confiscated in October that were reminiscent of protests at the start of the Arab Spring.
These events cast a poor light on the Moroccan government, particularly with regard to its credibility among international actors who otherwise have praised the country for its partnership with the EU in managing migration flows and battling terrorism. After having successfully democratized, Turkey has since shifted away from a parliamentary republic to become an authoritarian-led state focused on the office of the president and has lost its standing as a reform-oriented moderate Islamic democracy.
The failed coup has given the government free rein in silencing its critics.
Race to the bottom
In Tunisia, by contrast, political participation and the rule of law have actually strengthened — despite all the challenges faced by the country. Concerns nonetheless persist as critics warn that President Beji Caid Essebsi, who served as speaker of parliament under long-term dictator Ben Ali and was also foreign minister in the early s, might re-introduce authoritarian power structures. As direct neighbors of the European Union, Turkey and Tunisia are of central importance. Whereas EU efforts in Tunisia focus on building a future, the EU aims to prevent the ongoing evisceration of democracy in Turkey.
At the same time, European leaders will likely continue to subordinate their demands regarding democratic standards to the overriding interests of security and stability. Furthermore, given the nature of U.
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Regional leadership in MENA remains an open issue. The once leading nations of Egypt, Iraq and Syria have lost their political stature and the Arab monarchies have thus far not proven able to take on this kind of role. Indeed, the ongoing tensions among Gulf Cooperation Council members — which have recently erupted into a full-blown row — show that neither Saudi Arabia nor any other country on the peninsula is prepared to take on a leadership role in the region.
Overall, the prospects are dim for the region. Terrorism and state failure , combined with sheer incompetence among many leaders are at the root of many of the problems afflicting the region. Far too many governments are investing primarily in military and intelligence technologies, thereby consolidating the edifice of their state- and military-centered systems. This renders several sectors of their economies non-transparent, which undermines competitive input and modernization-oriented investment.
Added to the mix are growing environmental issues like desertification and drinking water scarcity. Groundwater reserves in many areas of the region have been exhausted and in some places, people rely on drinking water that is delivered by truck, which is prohibitively expensive for the poor. Cost-intensive desalination plants may be an option for the wealthy Gulf monarchies but not for the destroyed economies of Yemen, Sudan or the Gaza Strip. The fact that the IS has been pushed back in Iraq, Libya and Syria raises new concerns, as it remains unclear what power structures and means of conflict resolution will emerge among those affected.
Search Search. Next Generation Democracy. Turkey and Iran have been successful in mobilising their resources and expanding their influence in the post-uprising era. In , Arab countries, which constitute only 5. Yet the region suffers from internal economic imbalances with its overall wealth. Most of the natural energy assets are concentrated in the Arab Gulf and fewer in North African countries.
And discrepancies exist between oil-rich and non-oil rich states, as well as within the oil-rich camp. This is reflected in country rankings on global economic indicators. While Israel and Turkey, two non-oil rich countries ranked at 24 and 56, respectively, higher than Saudi Arabia 29 and Iran Egypt ranked at while Yemen ranked last at The region is also home to some of the highest rates of income inequality in the world.
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Not only has the region been a relatively high-inequality place, but economic opportunities have been limited to a select number of individuals. These indicators are telling when examining the extent to which average citizens have access to state resources, especially revenues from hydrocarbon wealth or other rents-based enterprises. In addition to limited access to resources, citizens in the region face inefficient bureaucracies with rampant corruption levels.
According to one report by Transparency International, government officials, tax officials and Members of Parliament are seen as the most corrupt groups in the region Global Corruption Barometer The percentage will probably be higher if one adds the youth in non-Arab highly populated countries such as Iran and Turkey. And compared to earlier generations, the current youth strata are better educated, more connected and healthier Arab Human Development Report These attributes make them seeds for development as well as destruction. Economic development has often been tied to the availability of a well-trained, able population.
But the Arab region is characterised by some of the lowest employment-to-population ratios in the world. MENA has been outpaced by other developing regions in terms of employment ratios. Figures from the International Labour Organisation show that the ratio has remained relatively constant between and , rising from This figure is below the global average of Youth in particular remain a challenged group when it comes to employment.
Politically, the majority of populations living in the region do not enjoy freedoms or security. Arab youth express a deep sense of discrimination and exclusion. They are insufficiently represented in public life and have no meaningful say in the shaping of policies that influence their lives Arab Human Development Report At the same time, they are increasingly connected to the world through digital media. As more demographic groups have access to education and global exposure to better quality of life standards, demands for change are harder to meet by inefficient and corrupt governments.
Geopolitics is the analysis of geographic influences on power relations in international relations Deudney The strategic position and military potential of a nation depends on its location with respect to the major land and sea trade routes, and the development and extent of its external transportation system Boland III Iran and Russia are two land powers, while Turkey and China enjoy more geopolitically advantageous territories because they are land and maritime powers. The limited access of land powers to maritime passages put constraints on their abilities to project influence.
In the Middle East, the strategic significance of Turkey is in part a function of its location as a land bridge between Europe and Asia, and as a land barrier across the only outlet of the Black Sea. Morocco enjoys significant maritime assets but is limited by its location on the outer part of the region. Historically, it has been more influential when its neighbouring countries face deep political crises.
Its influence has been pending its ability to accrue significant wealth and military might or to exploit the weakness of its neighbours Friedman This may explain the increasing role of Iran after the US invasion of Iraq and the collapse of Syria following the post-uprising civil war. The mass political mobilisation that started in Tunisia in December brought to the fore deeply rooted calls for better governance, transparency and democracy.
In other instances, exclusionary policies based on sectarian divisions alienated the majority of the population and prompted calls for regime change as in Bahrain. Five regional powers, all economically-rich, have followed interventionist policies in countries where uprisings erupted. At the same time, the demographic and geographic assets of uprising countries played significant roles in shaping and limiting regional and international interventions. To the extent that countries enjoyed developed institutions prior to the uprisings, regional and international interventions have been limited.
Turkey saw in the Muslim Brotherhood a vehicle that can market and replicate the Islamist neoliberal model of the Turkish ruling Justice and Development Party. In other countries, mass protests had a more devastating impact on state and society. In Libya, the economic assistance soon shifted to a direct military intervention, while in Syria and Yemen foreign intervention was indirect through assisting militant groups. In Libya, where the demographic composition lacked strong institutions and was characterised by tribal divisions, the transition from the Qaddafi regime became protracted and violent.
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As the transition failed to produce a unified government, regional powers diverged on their support for local militias and ultimately supported two governments in the east and west parts of the country Matar Petro-dollars also played a role in the Syrian conflict. Despite the relatively high levels of education of the population, the absence of strong state or civil society institutions opened the door for extensive intervention from the Gulf governments, Turkey, and Iran.
source url Despite the tradition of Saudi influence over politics in Yemen, Saudi influence had its limits as Saleh was able to mobilise significant sectors of the well-armed population, and later exploit sectarian divisions to resist a complete transition of his regime. In Bahrain, both economic resources and geographic location made the uprising short-lived. The Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia swiftly acted to prevent a movement that brought calls for regime change into their neighbourhood. That the Bahraini movement had a sectarian profile, which threatened a direct Iranian intervention into the Arab Gulf states, facilitated a unified position from the Gulf rulers against it.
The geography of instability plays a role in the duration of conflicts as well as chances for stability.