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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The Role of the Private Sector in Peacebuilding in Yemen

The Role of the Private Sector in Peacebuilding in Yemen

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.

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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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The Role of Civil Society in Peacebuilding in Yemen

The Role of Civil Society in Peacebuilding in Yemen

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.

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Microfinance in Yemen. An Overview of Challenges and Opportunities

Microfinance in Yemen. An Overview of Challenges and Opportunities

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.

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The Role of Youth in Peacebuilding in Yemen

The Role of Youth in Peacebuilding in Yemen

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.

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The Role of the Media in Peacebuilding in Yemen

The Role of the Media in Peacebuilding in Yemen

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.

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Developing Human Capital

Developing Human Capital

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.


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 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.

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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 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.

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Reforming the Business and Investment Climate

Reforming the Business and Investment Climate

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.


Restructuring Public Finances in Yemen

Restructuring Public Finances in Yemen

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.


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 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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

This video is based on RYE Policy Brief 9 and RYE White Paper 4.


Private Sector in Yemen

Private Sector in Yemen

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.

This video is based on RYE Policy Brief 15, RYE Policy Brief 7 and RYE White Paper 3.


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 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.