Author: Mirjam Schmidt


The Brussels MENA Briefing: The Gulf Cooperation Council at 40 – Opportunities and Challenges for the EU

The Brussels MENA Briefing: The Gulf Cooperation Council at 40 – Opportunities and Challenges for the EU

On June 16, the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and Stimson Europe hosted their twelfth “Brussels MENA Briefing” – a series of after-work briefings on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region – on “The Gulf Cooperation Council at 40: Challenges and Opportunities for the European Union (EU)”

Speakers included Najla al-Qassemi, Director Global Affairs Division, B’huth Dubai Public Policy Research Center, and Sebastian Sons, Researcher at CARPO. The discussion was moderated by Wael Abdulshafi, Research Analyst at the Stimson Center.

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Priorities for the Recovery and Reform of the Electricity Sector in Yemen

Priorities for the Recovery and Reform of the Electricity Sector in Yemen

Poor electricity services in Yemen, even before the war, have been one of the key barriers to sustainable economic development and basic service provision (e.g., water supply, health care, education). This paper assesses the power supply system status prior to the war and subsequently discusses the impact of the war on electricity sector performance, followed […]

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Brussels MENA Briefing: Egypt in the Eastern Mediterranean

Brussels MENA Briefing: Egypt in the Eastern Mediterranean

On April 14, the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the Stimson Center Europe hosted the eleventh “Brussels MENA Briefing”—a series of after-work briefings on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region—on “Egypt in the Eastern Mediterranean”.

Speakers included Dr. Ahmed Kandil, Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Energy Studies Program at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, and Hafsa Halawa, independent consultant, Visiting Fellow at the Middle East and North Africa Program of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Non-resident Fellow at the Middle East Institute. The discussion was moderated by Desirée Custers, Research Assistant of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Stimson Centre.

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Brussels MENA Briefing: Lebanon at a Crossroads: Looming State Collapse and Prospects for External Engagement

Brussels MENA Briefing: Lebanon at a Crossroads: Looming State Collapse and Prospects for External Engagement

On March 17, 2021 Stimson Europe and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) hosted their tenth Brussels MENA Briefing titled “Lebanon at Crossroads: Looming State Collapse and Prospects for External Engagement”, on the political, economic, and social crisis in Lebanon. This was the first Briefing hosted by the new Middle East and North Africa Program launched by the Stimson Center in March 2021, and located at Stimson’s new permanent presence in Brussels, Belgium. The Brussels MENA Briefings are a continuation of a series of discussion previously conducted by the EastWest Institute (EWI).

 The Briefing started with an in-depth analysis of the current situation in Lebanon, with one speaker emphasizing the lack of progress in the investigation into the Beirut blast of August 4, 2020. This unprecedented, massive explosion led to at least 200 deaths and was caused by a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored in a port warehouse without proper safety measures. The speaker highlighted that the judge leading the investigation was dropped from the case in February 2021, after he had charged the caretaker prime-minister and three former ministers with negligence. The opaque investigation is seen as symptomatic of the country’s current predicament, namely lack of accountability of the ruling elite.

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New Project Launched: Global Autocratic Collaboration in Times of COVID-19

New Project Launched: Global Autocratic Collaboration in Times of COVID-19

There is strong empirical evidence that COVID-19 acts as a booster for processes of global autocratization in which autocratic protagonists present themselves as more effective role modelsin fighting the pandemic than the ‘liberal script’ of Western societies. This project aims at explaining these corridors of autocratic collaboration based on the example of Sino-Gulf relations that […]

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Post COVID-19: A Potential for Green Recovery in the Arab Gulf States

Post COVID-19: A Potential for Green Recovery in the Arab Gulf States

by Aisha Al-Sarihi The novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the GCC’s focus on environmental sustainability projects, as shoring up economies and protecting human health have become top priorities for governmental countermeasures. This Brief argues that associating COVID-19 economic recovery packages with measures aimed to safeguard the environment and tackle climate change, towards a so-called ‘green […]

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Impacts of the War on the Telecommunications Sector in Yemen

Impacts of the War on the Telecommunications Sector in Yemen

The telecommunications and information technology sector in Yemen is the second largest source of public revenue after the petroleum sector, and contributes important work opportunities, whether directly or indirectly, through its connections to other sectors of the national economy. Some of the most important challenges of the sector are the unsuitability of the legal and […]

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Brussels MENA Briefing: Kuwait and the post-Sheikh Sabah Era

Brussels MENA Briefing: Kuwait and the post-Sheikh Sabah Era

On December 1, the EastWest Institute (EWI) and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) hosted the ninth “Brussels MENA Briefing”—a series of after-work briefings on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region—on “Kuwait and the post-Sheikh Sabah Era”.

Speakers included Vice Admiral (ret.) Ahmad Al-Mulla, advisor to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, and Dr. Courtney Freer, assistant professorial research fellow at the Middle East Center of the London School of Economics. Well-known experts on the Persian Gulf region and members of the European policy community virtually attended this briefing, which was held under the Chatham House Rule.

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Brussels MENA Briefing: The Biden Administration’s Middle East Policy and Transatlantic Relations

Brussels MENA Briefing: The Biden Administration’s Middle East Policy and Transatlantic Relations

On November 17, the EastWest Institute (EWI) and Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) hosted their eighth “Brussels MENA Briefing”—a series of after-work briefings on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region—on the recent election of Joe Biden as U.S. president-elect and the changes his administration could bring to both the United States’ own Middle East policy, as well as its transatlantic relations with the European Union (EU) vis-à-vis the Middle East. 

Speakers included Cameron Munter, former U.S. ambassador and former president of the EastWest Institute, and James Moran, associate senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS). The discussion was moderated by Wael Abdul-Shafi, EWI MENA program associate. 

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Brussels MENA Briefing: The Economic Dimensions of the Conflict in Yemen

Brussels MENA Briefing: The Economic Dimensions of the Conflict in Yemen

The seventh edition of the Brussels MENA Briefing, co-hosted by the EastWest Institute (EWI) and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO), in partnership with the Rethinking Yemen’s Economy initiative, was dedicated to the economic impact of the ongoing conflict in Yemen—a war that started in 2014/15 and has since turned the country into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis according to the UN. 

The Rethinking Yemen’s Economy initiative aims to contribute to peacebuilding and conflict prevention, economic stabilization and sustainable development in Yemen by building consensus in crucial policy areas through engaging and promoting informed Yemeni voices from all backgrounds (the “Development Champions”) in public discourse on development, economy and post-conflict reconstruction in Yemen, and by positively influencing local, regional and international development agendas. It is implemented by CARPO, DeepRoot Consulting and the Sanaa Center for Strategic Studies and is generously funded by the European Union and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Yemen.

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Reconfigurations in West Asia and North Africa (WANA)

Reconfigurations in West Asia and North Africa (WANA)

When: Nov 19th 2020; 14:45-18:30 CET The region that spans West Asia and North Africa (WANA) is in a process of a profound transformation. Despite their heterogenous character, all WANA countries experience social, (geo)political, environmental and economic challenges they need to overcome; albeit in different degrees. The current COVID-19 pandemic acts as an accelerator to […]

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Brussels MENA Briefing: Jordanian Foreign Policy in Light of Regional Geopolitical Shifts

Brussels MENA Briefing: Jordanian Foreign Policy in Light of Regional Geopolitical Shifts

On September 8, the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the EastWest Institute (EWI) hosted their sixth “Brussels MENA Briefing”—a series of after-work briefings on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region—on the topic of “Jordanian Foreign Policy in Light of Regional Geopolitical Shifts.”

Speakers included Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh, professor at the University of Jordan and well-known security and political analyst, and Dr. Edmund Ratka, designated head of the Amman Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The discussion was moderated by Wael Abdul-Shafi, EWI MENA program associate.

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Brussels MENA Briefing: How to Rescue Sudan’s Transition Process

Brussels MENA Briefing: How to Rescue Sudan’s Transition Process

On July 7, the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the EastWest Institute (EWI) hosted their fifth “Brussels MENA Briefing”—a series of after-work briefings on the MENA region—focusing on how to rescue Sudan’s transition process, as well as the role the international community can play in Sudan’s political transition.

Speakers included Yasir Zaidan, lecturer of international affairs and security studies at the National University of Sudan, and Dr. Annette Weber, senior fellow at the Africa and Middle East division of the German Institute for International and Security Studies (SWP) in Berlin. EWI’s Vice President of the MENA program, Kawa Hassan, served as moderator.

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Brussels MENA Briefing: New Iraqi Government in Place: Challenges and Opportunities for Iraq in its Neighborhood

Brussels MENA Briefing: New Iraqi Government in Place: Challenges and Opportunities for Iraq in its Neighborhood

On June 9, the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the EastWest Institute (EWI) hosted their fourth “Brussels MENA Briefing”—a series of afterwork briefings on the MENA region—focusing on challenges facing the new Iraqi government, as well as the role the European Union (EU) can play in supporting the new government in Baghdad.

Speakers included Sajad Jiyad, visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and former managing director of the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies based in Baghdad, and Daniela Verena Huber, head of the Mediterranean and Middle East Program of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). EWI’s Vice President of the MENA program, Kawa Hassan, severed as moderator.

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The Looming Climate Peril. Sustainable Strategies and Environmental Activism in the Middle East and North Africa

The Looming Climate Peril. Sustainable Strategies and Environmental Activism in the Middle East and North Africa

by Tobias Zumbrägel Taking the viewpoint of ‘political ecology’, this first issue of the newly created CARPO Sustainability Series highlights the social and political implications of sustainable transformation across the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Overall, it aims to achieve four goals: (a) to provide a comprehensive overview of existing research and […]

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Annual Report 2019

Annual Report 2019

Beginning of December 2019, CARPO celebrated its fifth anniversary. So in addition to a look back at our activities of the past year, in this Annual Report we will also reflect on five years of CARPO’s existence. And we do look back in pride on our evolution since we first set out! Read more

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Brussels MENA Briefing: The Status Quo of the Libya Conflict: Is the Berlin Process Obsolete?

Brussels MENA Briefing: The Status Quo of the Libya Conflict: Is the Berlin Process Obsolete?

May 5, 2020

On May 5, the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the EastWest Institute (EWI) hosted their third “Brussels MENA Briefing,” a series of after-work briefings on the MENA region, on the state of affairs of the ongoing Libyan Civil War.

Speakers included Anas El Gomati, founder and director of the Sadeq Institute, and Kristina Kausch, senior resident fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. CARPO’s CEO Adnan Tabatabai served as moderator.

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Brussels MENA Briefing: Post-Sultan Qaboos Oman: Transition Opportunities and Challenges

Brussels MENA Briefing: Post-Sultan Qaboos Oman: Transition Opportunities and Challenges

April 8, 2020

On April 8, the EastWest Institute (EWI) and the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO), hosted the second “Brussels MENA Briefing,” a series of after-work briefings on the MENA region, this time focusing on Oman in the post-Sultan Qaboos era. Invited speakers were Dr. Yousuf Hamed al Balushi, CEO of Smart Investment Gateway and Dr. Cinzia Bianco, Visiting Fellow on Europe and the Gulf at the European Council on Foreign Relations and Senior Analyst at Gulf States Analytics. The Briefing was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and moderated by Kawa Hassan, EWI’s Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa program.

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Media as a Driver of (Dis)Unity in West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula

Media as a Driver of (Dis)Unity in West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula

October 24th 2019, Bonn

In recent years, discussions about the role of the media for societal dynamics and civil society activism in West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula (WAAP) have emphasized that, on the positive side, ordinary citizens have much better access to information and can easier connect, mobilize and coordinate societal activities. On the negative side, however, governments and various interest groups (some even violent) use social media platforms to advance their own agenda, spread misinformation or attract followers. Both developments have made media an increasingly important player in WAAP. It is thus important to look into how media actors themselves see their roles in such a context, and whether they see media as a driver of unity or disunity – especially in today’s interconnected supranational media landscape. Furthermore, It should be discussed whether or not there is (or should be) a way to empower the unifying role media can play. 

To discuss these questions, CARPO invited three speakers from West Asia and the Arabian Peninsula to share their views on the subject matter. 

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Brussels MENA Briefing: Iran After Parliamentary Elections

Brussels MENA Briefing: Iran After Parliamentary Elections

March 11, 2020

CARPO’s inaugural “Brussels MENA Briefing” focuses on Iran’s parliamentary elections and the resulting domestic implications and consequences for Iranian foreign relations.

On March 3, the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the EastWest Institute (EWI), launched its “Brussels MENA Briefing” series with the topic of the recent parliamentary elections in Iran. Dr. Azadeh Zamirirad from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) and Adnan Tabatabai from CARPO led the discussion, with EWI’s Wael Abdul-Shafi serving as moderator.

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China’s Strategy in the Persian Gulf. A Balancing Act between Riyadh and Tehran [in German]

China’s Strategy in the Persian Gulf. A Balancing Act between Riyadh and Tehran [in German]

by Julia Gurol and Jacopo Scita This Brief discusses the repercussions of geopolitical developments on China’s strategy in the Persian Gulf. It is argued that China is pursuing strategic hedging by attempting a risky political balancing act in order to prepare for a possible escalation. This Brief is a slightly edited German translation of the […]

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Developing Yemen’s Fishing Industry

Developing Yemen’s Fishing Industry

This policy brief summarizes discussions regarding Yemen’s fishing industry at a ‘Rethinking Yemen’s Economy’ workshop held in al-Mukalla, Yemen, on November 26-28, 2019. The workshop participants, among them numerous stakeholders in the fishing industry from across Yemen, agreed that given the inability of the Ministry of Fish Wealth to carry out its basic institutional functions […]

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The Role of Women in Peacebuilding in Yemen

The Role of Women in Peacebuilding in Yemen

by Iman al-Gawfi, Bilkis Zabara and Stacey Philbrick Yadav Yemeni women are laying foundations for sustainable peace through everyday practices that have the capacity to help transform the landscape of women’s rights in the post-war period. Wider recognition of women’s paid and unpaid work in wartime, and the conditions that enable it, could improve the […]

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<i>Bar’a</i> as an Expression of Liminality Ritual Performance, Identity and Conflict Prevention in the Highlands of Yemen

Bar’a as an Expression of Liminality Ritual Performance, Identity and Conflict Prevention in the Highlands of Yemen

by Ulrike Stohrer This Study focuses on the performative genre barʿa, which is one of the most important means of nonverbal communication between social groups in Yemen. As such, this Study deals with a cultural practice of the tribal population in the Yemeni highlands that also has important significance for Yemeni society as a whole […]

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Developing Human Capital

Developing Human Capital

This Policy Brief summarizes discussions regarding Yemen’s human capital at a ‘Rethinking Yemen’s Economy’ workshop held in Amman, Jordan, on August 24-25, 2019. The workshop participants agreed that many of the obstacles to improving Yemen’s human capital were present prior to the current conflict. This Policy Brief thus recommends: countrywide population surveys; more funding of […]

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Corruption in Yemen

Corruption in Yemen

Corruption, or the abuse of power for private gain, has been deeply entrenched in the Yemeni political economy for decades. Over the course of the ongoing conflict, however, state capture in Yemen has become far more complex, and new patronage networks have emerged with interests that have extended across national borders and crossed the frontlines […]

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The Essential Role of Remittances in Mitigating Economic Collapse

The Essential Role of Remittances in Mitigating Economic Collapse

Scarce opportunities to earn a viable livelihood in Yemen continue to drive hundreds of thousands of Yemenis abroad in search of work, especially to neighboring countries. Over time, remittances from Yemeni expatriates have become one of the most important sources of foreign currency inflows into Yemen and have played an essential role in mitigating economic […]

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Projecting Power Westwards. China’s Maritime Strategy in the Arabian Sea and its Potential Ramifications for the Region

Projecting Power Westwards. China’s Maritime Strategy in the Arabian Sea and its Potential Ramifications for the Region

by Julia Gurol & Parisa Shahmohammadi This Study looks at China’s new maritime strategy in the Arabian Sea within the framework of the Maritime Silk Road and analyses its possible implications for the adjacent countries. The main focus of the analysis is placed on the most critical sea lines of communication which connect China with […]

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Generating New Employment Opportunities II: Labor Force, Labor Market and Expatriates

Generating New Employment Opportunities II: Labor Force, Labor Market and Expatriates

Decades of political instability and cyclical armed conflict have curtailed Yemen’s economic growth, job creation and labor productivity. Sharing a collective sense of urgency to address Yemen’s worsening economic and humanitarian crises, 22 of Yemen’s leading socioeconomic experts convened as part of the Rethinking Yemen’s Economy initiative to discuss job creation in Yemen and develop […]

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Transitional Government in Post-Conflict Yemen

Transitional Government in Post-Conflict Yemen

To maximize the effectiveness of governance in post-conflict Yemen, two options stand out for the composition of an immediate post-conflict government to lead a transitional period in the country. First, a consensus government with cabinet seats divided among the key Yemeni political factions. Second, a technocratic caretaker government appointed by a consensus prime minister. In […]

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Generating New Employment Opportunities I: Yemeni Labour Market

Generating New Employment Opportunities I: Yemeni Labour Market

Decades of political instability and cyclical armed conflict have curtailed Yemen’s economic growth, job creation and labor productivity. Before the current conflict, much of the country’s working population was engaged in unskilled labor, working in rural agriculture or informally employed in small businesses. Sharing a collective sense of urgency to address Yemen’s worsening economic and […]

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The Development Champions

The Development Champions

The Development Champions are a group of senior Yemeni experts and professionals from various backgrounds and with established expertise in development and economy. The Development Champions discuss priorities for intervention by national and international policymakers, issue respective recommendations and are thus at the heart of the Rethinking Yemen’s Economy initiative. The aim of this initiative […]

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The Road to Reconstruction

The Road to Reconstruction

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has imposed grievous costs on Yemenis, damaging lives, property, and infrastructure, and collapsing the country’s already fragile economy. And yet the conflict will eventually subside. Previous reconstruction efforts in Yemen following conflict or natural disaster have suffered from lack of coordination with and unrealistic expectations from international donors, as well […]

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