The POMED Wire

POMED Notes: Are Gains from Yemen’s National Dialogue Slipping Away?

Atlantic-Council

Image Credit: Atlantic Council

On Wednesday, July 30, 2014, the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held an event entitled “Shifting Political Alliances: Are Gains from Yemen’s National Dialogue Slipping Away?” The event featured Mohammed al-Maitami, chairman of the Khobara Center for Development and Consulting Services. The discussion was moderated by Danya Greenfield, acting director at the Rafik Hariri Center.

For the full notes continue reading, or click here for the PDF.

Danya Greenfield first framed the event, explaining that the discussion sought to explore what is currently at stake in Yemen achieve a better understanding of what is happening on the ground. She suggested that recent negative developments, including a recent political assassination and protests following a hike in fuel prices, could be somewhat balanced by positive developments, including voter registration efforts and prospects for an International Monetary Fund deal. Additionally, she hoped to steer the discussion towards issues in security and the economy that are due to a failure of governance.

Next Mohammed al-Maitami spoke, depicting the situation in Yemen as “changing very quickly” and the political landscape as having “its challenges.” Following the protests in 2011, President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced …

POMED Notes: Creating Jobs, Building Opportunities: Egypt’s Way Forward

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On Wednesday, July 30, the Middle East Institute and the World Bank cohosted an event entitled “Creating Jobs, Building Opportunities: Egypt’s Way Forward,” presenting and discussing the recently released World Bank report on Egypt’s economy. The event featured Tara Vishwanath, Lead Economist at the Poverty Global Practice of the World Bank and Lead Author of the report; Hisham Fahmy, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt; Hafez Ghanem, Senior Fellow at the Global Economy and Development Program of the Brookings Institution; and Ana Revenga, Senior Director at the Poverty Global Practice of the World Bank. Wendy Chamberlin, President of the Middle East Institute, and Inger Andersen, Vice President of the World Bank Middle East and North Africa program, gave introductory remarks. Paul Danahar, Americas Bureau Chief of BBC moderated the discussion.

For full event notes, please continue reading or click here for the PDF.

Opening remarks given by Wendy Chamberlin and Inger Andersen stressed the timely matter of creating more and better jobs not only in Egypt but also in the whole region. Andersen noted that the report gathered data for the past 50 years, analyzing the labor market in Egypt …

Energy Subsidy Cuts Spark Protests in Yemen

People burn tyres during a protest against fuel price hikes in Sanaa

Photo Credit: Reuters

Following a Yemeni government subsidy cut that nearly doubled the prices of petrol and diesel, protests erupted that were broken up by the army, killing one woman. She “was killed as the army fired into the air in an attempt to break up a demonstration near the presidential palace” according to witnesses.

Petrol prices were raised by 60 percent and diesel by 95 percent. Nearly a third of state revenue was spent on energy subsidies in 2013, and the International Monetary Fund “is pressing for subsidies to be slashed” as a condition of a $560 million loan that Yemen is seeking. According to a Reuters interview with Yemen’s finance minister in May, the deal was expected to be finalized this July.

In addition to pressure from the IMF, the subsidy cut is likely partially motivated by Yemen’s lowered oil output. The government’s crude oil exports were “down nearly 40 percent from a year earlier” due to “frequent militant attacks on oil pipelines [that] have badly hurt Yemen’s export earnings.” The resulting “ serious fuel shortage” has been “angering the public,” and some ”analysts argue that some of the money freed up by the subsidy reform could be …

36 NGOs Send Letter to Kerry on Iraq

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Photo Credit: NBC News

Thirty-six NGOs sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, expressing “grave concerns about the deepening human rights and humanitarian crisis in Iraq,” and calling “for a stronger response from the United States, including a clear, long-term strategy for addressing what could become a protracted situation.” The letter notes that according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, “1.2 million people have been displaced by fighting in western and northern Iraq this year.” Contributing to the instability are “abuses by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups,” resulting in reports of human rights violations, and “IDPs being prevented from reaching safer areas.”

The letter suggests that while the Iraqi government “has an obligation to do all it can to support displaced and vulnerable populations within its borders…The U.S. can play an influential role in pressing the [Government of Iraq] to live up to that obligation” by supporting civil society and encouraging collaboration with the Kurds. The letter cites a number of “positive developments,” including an “unprecedented” $500 million contribution from the Saudi government to the UN Strategic Response Plan.

The letter then offers a series of recommendations. First a …

IRI Tunisia Election Observers Report Failings, Some Successes of Process

7.2 Registration

Photo Credit: Jacob Jaffe/Tunisia Live

The International Republican Institute (IRI) released its first in a series of updates from the organization’s elections observation mission for the October 26, 2014 legislative elections in Tunisia.

IRI found a “prevailing mood… of apathy and general disaffection due to frustration with the performance of transitional government” while also noting a last minute jump in registration, a subset of citizens enthusiastic to vote, and some effective elections board (ISIE) activity in facilitating SMS registration and promoting registration in electronic media.

The report demonstrates a steady increase in the pace of registration, even as overall registration numbers fell “well short” of the ISIE’s original goal of 2.5 million. Voter registration from the first 26 days more than doubled in the following eight days. Daily voter registration was about 7,000 in early July, 31,000 on July 17, and 93,000 on July 22, the initial registration deadline. IRI attributed the rise in registration numbers to “the independent election commission’s efforts to raise awareness of registration through the media.” Approximately 58 percent of registrants used SMS registration, and “about 45 percent of those newly registered are under the age of 30.”

Around the time of the report’s publication, the …

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