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 challenge Europe’s and Germany’s international alliances andpartnerships. The project consists of two research blocs: Firstly, it deals with the traveling of autocratic practices and asks how global autocratic collaboration manifests itself in times of crises. Secondly, the project addresses questions of competition for China’s favor:How are regional actors competing in terms of their ‘special relations’ with China?
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 recovery’, will not only ensure long-term resilience and sustainability of economies as countries recover from the pandemic, but also boost economic activity, generate income and create jobs.
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 institutional regulatory environments; fragmentation of public entities in the sector; the lack of separation between political, regulatory and operational roles within the sector; and the reliance on a weak and fragile infrastructure to provide these services. This Policy Brief identifies urgent as well as medium to long-term policies and programs to address these and other challenges identified in the paper.
December 1, 2020
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.Read more
November 17, 2020
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.Read more
October 6, 2020
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.Read more
The Development Champions Forum stresses that the sustainability of a peace agreement in Yemen will, amongst others, depend on two critical insights: First, in a conflict that is largely over access to resources, the issues of distribution and control of those resources can make or break peace. Second, where peace agreements lack provisions that create overall economic stability, warfare can resume during the fragile implementation period. This infographic summarizes the Development Champions’ key recommendations on economic provisions that need to be included in the peace agreement.
This infographic is based on RYE Policy Brief 20.
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 this development while at the same time exposing the high vulnerability of the region.
CARPO’s first virtual research forum aims to address these reconfigurations in the region. With our speakers and audience, we not only plan to discuss some of the most pressing threats, including geopolitical shifts, questions of a sustainable development and more widespread social contestation, but we will also elaborate on the interplay of the different contexts (national, regional and global) in which these developments take place.Read more
Since early 2015, Yemen has been almost completely dependent on three external sources to secure foreign currency inflows and stimulate economic activity: foreign humanitarian aid, Saudi financial support to the internationally recognized government, and – by far the most significant – remittances from Yemeni expatriates, most working in Saudi Arabia. All three of these foreign currency sources have dramatically declined in 2020 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The current acute shortage of foreign currency has profound implications for the value of Yemen’s domestic currency, and the country’s ability to finance fuel and basic commodity imports. This is likely to lead to the rapid intensification of the humanitarian crisis. This White Paper presents policy recommendations to address this situation for relevant national and international stakeholders.
September 8, 2020
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.
Since its introduction to Yemen in 1997, microfinance has been viewed as a strategic tool to alleviate poverty and reduce unemployment, for it provided a means for the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of small and micro entrepreneurs by expanding financial services to them. However, persistent challenges facing the microfinance industry have stunted its development, reach within the population, and overall socioeconomic impact. To better place the industry to achieve its socioeconomic aims in the near term and contribute to Yemen’s recovery post-conflict, the Development Champions Forum puts forth several recommendations in four areas, namely, capacity building, financing, program design, and research.
This infographic is based on RYE White Paper 06.
July 7, 2020
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.
Yemen’s fisheries sector holds untapped promise in contributing to the national economy, with a coastline of more than 2,500 kilometers and rich fishing grounds offshore. Yet the sector has long faced many structural challenges that have limited its production and potential contribution to overall economic output, which have been exacerbated during the ongoing conflict. This infographic provides an overview of the industry’s most important challenges as well as recommendations about how the sector could be developed now and in the future.
This infographic is based on RYE Policy Brief 19.
The Development Champions Forum held multiple online discussions in the period from 20-24 June 2020 to discuss the reasons behind the recent deterioration in the foreign exchange rate of the Yemeni rial. The Champions also discussed possible immediate interventions that can be applied by the concerned parties to curb the rial’s depreciation against foreign currencies. This Flash Report presents a summary of those discussions and the resulting recommendations.
June 9, 2020
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.
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 avenues of thought; (b) to supply a cross-sectoral analysis across the MENA region, rather than in-depth single case studies; (c) to uncover broader implications and dialectic relationships between sustainability and political power constellations; and (d) to sketch out some potential future developments and dynamics over the coming years.
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! When we, the members of CARPO’s Executive Board, decided to establish Germany’s first Middle East-focused think tank, the type of projects we had in mind then are exactly what we are implementing today: result-oriented contributions to debates on the Middle East in Europe and beyond. From the onset, we have dedicated our work to enhancing dialogue and knowledge transfer between stakeholders in Europe and the Orient at the nexus of research, consultancy and exchange.
The sustainability of a peace agreement in Yemen will, amongst others, depend on two critical insights: First, in a conflict that is largely over access to resources, the issues of distribution and control of those resources can make or break peace. Second, where peace agreements lack provisions that create overall economic stability, warfare can resume during the fragile implementation period. At the sixth Development Champions Forum in Amman, Jordan, from 25 to 27 January 2020, the Development Champions therefore focused on identifying urgent macroeconomic, fiscal, and monetary issues that pose a direct threat to the successful implementation of any peace agreement in Yemen. This Policy Brief summarizes their key recommendations on economic provisions that need to be included in the peace agreement.
Download the Brief in English or Arabic
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.
by Tarek Barakat, Ali al-Jarbani and Laurent Bonnefoy
This Brief analyzes the state of the private sector in Yemen during the ongoing war and explores its potential to contribute to the country’s peace requirements. It presents challenges entrepreneurs face and the potential contribution of these in sectors that are central to the construction and sustainability of peace. It highlights the fact that their actions and capacity to offer jobs and revenue to the Yemeni population are constrained by the fragmentation of authority and the resultant lack of transparency. It also demonstrates that the focus on regional and international aid has left many entrepreneurs feeling abandoned and helpless.
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.
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.
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.
by Abdulkarim Qassim, Loay Amin, Mareike Transfeld and Ewa Strzelecka
The current political and economic conditions in Yemen make it difficult for CSOs to continue functioning on an effective level, while a lack of human and organizational capacity are hampering project results. Nevertheless, Yemeni CSOs contribute to peace requirements in various sectors and remain an important actor in the Yemeni civic sphere. In a context in which conflict parties are not willing to compromise and media contributes to escalating violence, actors that uphold the principles of human rights, political participation and peace are most likely to be found in the realm of civil society. For civil society to be able to contribute to peacebuilding and future reconstruction efforts, now is the time for international organizations to support CSOs and invest seriously into their human and organizational capacity building.
This White Paper explores the historic development of Yemen’s microfinance industry and its players, as well as the impacts of the ongoing conflict. This analysis is followed by recommendations that address four specific areas – capacity building, financing, program design and research – to help create a more conducive operating environment for microfinance overall. The objective is to better place the industry to achieve its socioeconomic aims in the near term and contribute to Yemen’s recovery post conflict.
by Maged al-Kholidy, Yazeed al-Jeddawy and Kate Nevens
Despite its major transformative potential, local level youth work is often overlooked by mainstream international discourses on national level peace processes and violent conflict. This Brief sheds light on young peoples’ activism before and during the war, the challenges they are currently facing, their visions for the future of Yemen and the kind of support they need. The contributions of young men and women to the economy, politics, culture and society, security and justice, education and the environment show how youth are laying the groundwork for peace and social cohesion in their communities.
by Fatima Saleh, Scott Preston and Mareike Transfeld
The increased political capture of the Yemeni media since 2014 has reinforced diverging political discourses and has contributed to polarization across society and to political fragmentation. Practitioners face steep challenges in composing professional stories. Journalists are subject to harassment, intimidation, abduction and violence. Yet, Yemeni journalists remain hopeful of the prospect of media reform and are eager to detail the prerequisites for proactive change. Encouraging the development of independent news outlets, independent funding and capacity-building activities could enable the Yemeni media to contribute to better mutual understanding, de-escalation and the requirements for peace.
Human capital in Yemen has long been at the lowest levels across all indicators due to the successive conflicts in the country and the weak investment in human development. Over five years since the onset of the ongoing war in Yemen, human capital accumulation has continued to regress. This video emphasizes that human capital is the foundation of development and the essence of the economic prosperity of future generations and stresses that continued neglect of investment in human capital will inevitably continue to undermine sustainable development in Yemen.
This infographic is based on RYE Policy Brief 18.
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 authors’ contribution ‘China’s Persian Gulf strategy: Keep Tehran and Riyadh content‘ on the IranSource Blog of the Atlantic Council, which was first published on 24 January 2020.
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 due to the ongoing conflict, it is crucial that the ministry’s executive privileges for short-term policy making and regulation be temporarily delegated to local councils and that they be empowered to regulate the industry during the conflict. The participants also identified longer-term policies for the government and international stakeholders to revitalize the industry and enhance its capabilities.
The surest means of laying the foundations for private sector recovery in Yemen, and indeed recovery for the country overall, is to end the ongoing conflict and reunify public institutions and governance mechanisms. While the conflict is ongoing, however, there are still practical, realistic steps national and international stakeholders can take to support the Yemeni private sector. Doing so would in turn help spur economic growth and job creation for a destitute population. It would also potentially initiate a cascade of positive developments in Yemen: easing the humanitarian crisis, bolstering socio-economic and political stability, and restarting formal financial cycles, among others.
This infographic is based on RYE Policy Brief 15.
Even before the current conflict, Yemen’s public finances suffered from an overdependence on energy exports, one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world, and chronic budget and balance of payments deficits. The ongoing conflict has complicated an already dire situation. Energy exports have almost collapsed, while general economic and state collapse saw a precipitous decline in tax revenues. Public debt has thus risen, while the fracturing of state institutions across frontlines has hobbled public revenue collection as well as fiscal and monetary policy. In this infographic, these challenges are highlighted and urgent and long overdue deep structural reforms to Yemen’s collapsing public finances are recommended.
This infographic is based on RYE Policy Brief 17.
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 social cohesion, economic stability, and human security necessary for sustainable peace. Based on research conducted in the summer and fall of 2019, this CARPO/GDRSC Brief reviews variations in women’s experience of conflict and participation in everyday peacebuilding in different parts of the country, advocates for an entitlement-based approach that recognizes women’s agency, supports women’s diverse aims, and works to leverage their existing contributions in support of sustainable peace.
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 by serving as an expression of tribal, regional and also national identity. Moreover, the practice is a cultural tool that enables tribesmen to deal with unsafe and potentially conflict-bearing situations in a stabilizing manner. It is used as a ritual for integration and strengthening collective identity, as well as as a means of keeping peace and preventing conflicts.
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 development projects over emergency humanitarian assistance; education reforms; and the targeting of sectors with high human capital returns. Crucially, policymakers should not wait for the end of the conflict to implement these recommendations.
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 of the war themselves, indicating collusion among supposed adversaries. As greater numbers and a wider variety of actors profit from illicit activity in the war economy, vested economic interests in continued conflict become more entrenched. Given the multifaceted pervasiveness of corruption in Yemen, any anti-corruption agenda must aim to understand the complex configuration of patronage networks in Yemen, to be introduced gradually, and to get the buy-in of as wide a group of Yemenis as possible.
The impact of the conflict on Yemen’s economy and private sector have been calamitous, and, as a result, the economic output has dropped precipitously since its onset. The increased costs for businesses have been spurred by a lack of security and a scarcity of business inputs, while a loss of customer base and demand as well as general purchasing power decline have driven a loss in revenue. Physical damage to public and private infrastructure has also severely affected the ability of businesses to operate. And yet many businesses continue to operate; indeed, the private sector’s resilience is a major reason that the country’s humanitarian crisis–the largest in the world–is not a lot worse than it would have been in the absence of the vital role that the private sector continues to play despite all challenges.
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 collapse during the ongoing war. Since approximately 90% of total remittances come from neighboring countries, the forcible deportation of Yemeni workers en masse; labor market nationalization campaigns that impose greater restrictions on the number of job categories open to expatriate workers; and very high fees to live and work for legally documented workers and their families have resulted in a decline of these remittances on which millions of Yemenis depend and therefore in huge losses to the country’s economy.
This infographic is based on RYE Policy Brief 17.
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 the Middle East: the Bab al-Mandab, the Gulf of Aden, the Persian Gulf and the Street of Hormuz, as well as the Suez Canal. The authors analyze China’s change in strategy from its focus on securing its own coastlines to a stronger outward power projection and the development of a navy that not only concentrates on securing resources but also on the establishment of regional hegemonic power. Further, the authors project possible economic and security implications of this change in strategy for the role of China in the region as well as its respective countries.