Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

Guest Post: Ed Husain on How to Counter Islamic Extremism

by Guest Blogger for Isobel Coleman Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The "Tribute in Lights" illuminates the sky over lower Manhattan on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Jim Young). The "Tribute in Lights" illuminates the sky over lower Manhattan on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, September 11, 2011 (Courtesy Reuters/Jim Young).

This guest post is written by my colleague, Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR. Here he discusses his latest Policy Innovation Memorandum, which lays out a plan for countering violent extremism.  Read more »

Washington Should Suspend Aid to Egypt

by Isobel Coleman Thursday, August 15, 2013
Riot police fire tear gas during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Cairo, Egypt, August 14, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). Riot police fire tear gas during clashes with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, Cairo, Egypt, August 14, 2013 (Courtesy Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

The Egyptian military’s recent violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood makes clear that, despite their claims to the contrary, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his armed forces have no intention of supporting Egypt’s democratic process. It is time that Washington call the military’s actions what they are: a coup. Read more »

Upheaval in Egypt

by Isobel Coleman Thursday, July 4, 2013
Supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, July 4, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, July 4, 2013 (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Yesterday, the Egyptian military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi and suspended the constitution, following days of anti-government protests across the country. Morsi and his supporters have denounced the military’s actions, although protest leaders have celebrated the move as a step toward realizing the original goals of the 2011 revolution. In my article posted today on CNN.com, I analyze the events unfolding in Egypt and the intricate relationship between religion and politics that will play an important role in future of the country and the surrounding region. Read more »

Egypt’s Protests: Three Things to Know

by Isobel Coleman Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Earlier today, the Egyptian Armed Forces showed their hand. Their leaked political roadmap proposes suspending the constitution, dissolving the parliament, and setting up an interim council. Opposition coalitions and Islamist groups have unveiled their own proposals as President Mohammed Morsi clings to power in spite of the military’s threat to intervene if he fails to resolve the political deadlock before Wednesday. As political leaders struggle to reach a resolution and the military’s 48-hour deadline looms,  protesters continue to riot across Egypt. Watch below for three things to know about the current upheaval. Read more »

Inclusive Economic Growth and Brazil’s Protests

by Isobel Coleman Thursday, June 20, 2013
Demonstrators march toward the Mineirao Stadium, where Nigeria was playing Tahiti in the Confederations Cup, during one of the many protests around Brazil's major cities in Belo Horizonte June 17, 2013 (Pedro Vilela/Courtesy Reuters). Demonstrators march toward the Mineirao Stadium, where Nigeria was playing Tahiti in the Confederations Cup, during one of the many protests around Brazil's major cities in Belo Horizonte on June 17, 2013 (Pedro Vilela/Courtesy Reuters).

Brazil’s weeklong protests, which have brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets across the country, have scored their first victory: officials in the major cities of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro have agreed to rescind the 20 cent bus fare hike that sparked the protests in the first place. But this conciliatory move, far from placating the crowds, seems to have energized their demands. Large marches are planned for today with demands now focused on better education and health care and greater efforts to tackle corruption. Read more »

Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons From Democratic Transitions

by Isobel Coleman Wednesday, June 19, 2013
A man casts his vote at a polling station in Ciudad Juarez on July 1, 2012 (Jorge Luis Gonzalez/Courtesy Reuters). A man casts his vote at a polling station in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on July 1, 2012 (Jorge Luis Gonzalez/Courtesy Reuters).

Today marks the publication of a new Council on Foreign Relations book, Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons From Democratic Transitions, which I co-edited with my colleague Terra Lawson-Remer; other CFR colleagues, John Campbell, Joshua Kurlantzick, and Shannon O’Neil contributed chapters, as did scholars from other institutions. The book looks at eight different countries–Mexico, Brazil, Poland, South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Nigeria–that have been through democratic transitions, some successful, others less so. Read more »

Youth Unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa

by Isobel Coleman Thursday, June 13, 2013
Graph by author. Data are from ILO's Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report. Regional data are from ILO's 2012 preliminary estimates; U.S. and E.U. data are from the OECD's second quarter 2012 data. Graph by author. Data are from ILO's Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report. Regional data are from ILO's 2012 preliminary estimates; U.S. and E.U. data are from the OECD's second quarter 2012 data.

As the graph above makes painfully clear, the Middle East and North Africa face significant challenges when it comes to youth unemployment. A World Economic Forum report from 2012 notes, “Unemployment in the MENA region is the highest in the world…and largely a youth phenomenon.” Read more »

Rached Ghannouchi and Tunisia’s Transition

by Isobel Coleman Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Ennahda movement, Tunisia's main Islamist political party, speaks during a demonstration in Tunis on February 16, 2013 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters). Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist Nahda movement, Tunisia's main Islamist political party, speaks during a demonstration in Tunis on February 16, 2013 (Anis Mili/Courtesy Reuters).

Last week, my colleague Ed Husain and I hosted a meeting with Rached Ghannouchi—the cofounder and president of Tunisia’s Islamist Nahda party—at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. The audio is available here. Read more »

Financial Inclusion and the World’s “Unbanked” Population

by Isobel Coleman Thursday, May 30, 2013
A man leaves an M-PESA booth after a money transaction in Nairobi on May 12, 2009 (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters). A man leaves an M-Pesa booth after a money transaction in Nairobi on May 12, 2009 (Noor Khamis/Courtesy Reuters).

Imagine life without a bank account. Completing a simple financial transaction can require traveling a distance, incurring expenses, and losing precious income. Savings are more difficult to track and certainly don’t earn interest. Theft or loss of the proverbial “cookie jar” is a constant worry. Indeed, studies show that informal savers lose as much as 25 percent of their hard-earned cash each year due to theft and loss. Yet for over 2.5 billion people globally, this inconvenient, inefficient, and expensive reality is the case. Read more »

Challenges for Pakistan’s Prime Minister

by Isobel Coleman Friday, May 24, 2013
Nawaz Sharif, incoming prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) political party, speaks to his party members, who were voted to political posts in the general election, during a function in Lahore on May 20, 2013 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters). Nawaz Sharif, incoming prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) political party, speaks to his party members, who were voted to political posts in the general election, during a function in Lahore on May 20, 2013 (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters).

A few years ago on a flight from London to Karachi I sat next to one of Pakistan’s leading textile manufacturers who spent several hours discussing the sorry state of his business. The fact that his European clients will no longer visit the country because they view it as too dangerous was not even his biggest problem. His real issue is the constant blackouts his factories face due to a lack of reliable energy. “We can’t compete with the likes of Bangladesh and Vietnam,” he bemoaned. This is the tough economic reality that Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister, inherits. Read more »