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Showing posts for "Middle East and North Africa"

This Week in Markets and Democracy: Egypt’s Backsliding, UK Transparency Setbacks, New Global Rankings

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Members of security forces keep watch in Tahrir Square before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). Members of security forces keep watch in Tahrir Square before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

United States Undeterred by Egypt’s Democratic Backsliding

Five years after its revolution, Egypt is no closer to democracy. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government routinely arrests political and social media activists, and has detained tens of thousands of people, many held for months without charges. Raids on news outlets and a law prohibiting journalists from contradicting official government information undermine freedom of expression. Every opposition party boycotted fall 2015 legislative elections and less than a third of the population turned out to vote. Still, the United States seems to be choosing stability over political freedoms. President Obama restored $1.3 billion in annual military assistance cut after Sisi overthrew former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. And Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan recently visited Cairo to boost security and counterterrorism cooperation, congratulating Sisi on inaugurating a new parliament.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Energy Subsidies, Human Rights in Supply Chains, and Poland’s Democracy Rollback

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A driver waits to fill his car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 22, 2015 (Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser). A driver waits to fill his car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 22, 2015 (Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser).

Oil Prices Plummet—Will Subsidies Follow?
As crude prices fall below $30 a barrel, oil-producing states face mounting fiscal challenges. Saudi Arabia’s 2015 deficit neared $100 billion, roughly 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP);Venezuela’s reached 14 percent; and Algeria expects foreign reserves to fall by $30 billion in the coming year to cover its looming fiscal gap. Across commodity-dependent nations finance ministers are looking to cut budgets. Energy subsidies are an obvious target, as these expensive and inefficient payments distort markets and undermine development. In December, Saudi Arabia reduced fuel subsidies and prices went up 50 percent. Algeria promised to cut energy subsidies (though in the short term, they are rising). Even in Venezuela, where citizens pay less for gas than water, rumors are the government is considering a hike. The hesitation? Price increases during recessions don’t go over well; in Venezuela, the unpopular move helped bring Hugo Chavez to power.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: International Anticorruption Day, Corruption in Ukraine, and Elections in Venezuela

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Lilian Tintori (centre L), wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, celebrates next to candidates of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) during a news conference on the election in Caracas early December 7, 2015. Venezuela's opposition won control of the legislature from the ruling Socialists for the first time in 16 years on Sunday, giving them a long-sought platform to challenge President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins). Lilian Tintori (centre L), wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, celebrates next to candidates of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) during a news conference on the election in Caracas early December 7, 2015. Venezuela's opposition won control of the legislature from the ruling Socialists for the first time in 16 years on Sunday, giving them a long-sought platform to challenge President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

International Anticorruption Day
December 9 marked the United Nations’ thirteenth annual International Anticorruption Day, offering a chance to reflect on global anticorruption efforts this year—from successful antigraft cases to ongoing challenges fighting high-level theft. In commemoration, here’s what we’ve been reading:

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Petrobras Corruption Scandal, Elections in Egypt and Venezuela, and Turmoil in Haiti

by Shannon K. O'Neil
An election monitor sits near a ballot box at a polling station while waiting for voters during the second phase of the parliamentary election runoff at the Shubra area of Cairo, Egypt (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). An election monitor sits near a ballot box at a polling station while waiting for voters during the second phase of the parliamentary election runoff at the Shubra area of Cairo, Egypt (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.”

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: G20 and APEC Summits

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Members of the Group of 20 (G20) wave during the traditional family photo at the G20 leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Reuters/Aykut Unlupinar) Members of the Group of 20 (G20) wave during the traditional family photo at the G20 leaders summit in the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015. (Reuters/Aykut Unlupinar)

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” 

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Five Questions with Elmira Bayrasli

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Software developers work on computer sytems at the Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator (iDEA) hub in the Yaba district in Lagos June 25, 2015. At first glance, Yaba is like many other parts of Nigeria's sprawling commercial capital: a cacophony of car horns and shouting street vendors, mingling with exhaust fumes and the occasional stench of sewage. But in between the run-down buildings in this seemingly inauspicious part of Lagos, a city of around 21 million, tech start-ups are taking root and creating a buzz that is drawing international venture capitalists and more established digital firms. (Reuters/Akinleye) Software developers work on computer sytems at the Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator (iDEA) hub in the Yaba district in Lagos June 25, 2015. At first glance, Yaba is like many other parts of Nigeria's sprawling commercial capital: a cacophony of car horns and shouting street vendors, mingling with exhaust fumes and the occasional stench of sewage. But in between the run-down buildings in this seemingly inauspicious part of Lagos, a city of around 21 million, tech start-ups are taking root and creating a buzz that is drawing international venture capitalists and more established digital firms. (Reuters/Akinleye)

Emerging Voices highlights new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges from contributing scholars and practitioners. This post features Elmira Bayrasli, the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted and a lecturer at New York University.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: The Americas’ Refugee Crisis, Impunity in Journalist Attacks, and More

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A Salvadoran immigrant carries her son while standing in vegetation to hide from organized crime bands in Huehuetoca, near Mexico City, June 1, 2015. An increasing number of Central Americans are sneaking across Mexico's border en route to the United States (Reuters/Edgard Garrido). A Salvadoran immigrant carries her son while standing in vegetation to hide from organized crime bands in Huehuetoca, near Mexico City, June 1, 2015. An increasing number of Central Americans are sneaking across Mexico's border en route to the United States (Reuters/Edgard Garrido).
CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Corruption in Honduras and an Election Timeline

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A supporter of former Tanzania's Prime Minister and main opposition party CHADEMA presidential candidate Edward Lowassa cheers during his campaign rally in Tanga October 21, 2015. Tanzanians will go to the polls on October 25 to elect their fifth president. (Reuters/Stringer) A supporter of former Tanzania's Prime Minister and main opposition party CHADEMA presidential candidate Edward Lowassa cheers during his campaign rally in Tanga October 21, 2015. Tanzanians will go to the polls on October 25 to elect their fifth president. (Reuters/Stringer)

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Accountability in Sri Lanka and Tunisia, Malaysia’s Cross-Border Corruption, and Democracy Day

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera speaks during a news conference on a United Nations (U.N.) report about war crimes committed during Sri Lanka's 26-year civil conflict, in Colombo (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters) Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera speaks during a news conference on a United Nations (U.N.) report about war crimes committed during Sri Lanka's 26-year civil conflict, in Colombo (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters).

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Malaysia’s Corruption Scandal, Migration Crisis Threatens EU Political Unity, and More

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Protesters march at a rally organised by pro-democracy group "Bersih" (Clean) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, August 29, 2015. Thousands of protesters gathered in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday for a two-day rally to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing to the streets a political crisis over a multi-million-dollar payment made to an account under his name. The placards read, "Corruptor" and "We are not against prime minister, we just hate Najib" (Olivia Harris/Reuters). Protesters march at a rally organised by pro-democracy group "Bersih" (Clean) in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, August 29, 2015. Thousands of protesters gathered in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday for a two-day rally to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing to the streets a political crisis over a multi-million-dollar payment made to an account under his name. The placards read, "Corruptor" and "We are not against prime minister, we just hate Najib" (Olivia Harris/Reuters).

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.”

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