The IMF and economic injustice in Tunisia

When Tunisians took to the streets in protest in early January, the target of popular anger seemed clear: the democratically-elected Tunisian government, which had voted in December to pass the controversial 2018 Finance Law that went into effect on January 1. Most saliently, the public was becoming increasingly aware that the Finance Law was not crafted solely by Tunisia’s elected representatives – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has loaned Tunisia massive sums of money since 2011, contributed heavily to the legislation.

Read more

Another forever war: The US strategy in Syria

In a speech at the Hoover Institution on January 17, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined a plan to keep US troops in Syria indefinitely, beholden to an unrealistic set of conditions. Although the new policy identifies areas of concern for the US and its allies in the Middle East, the goals outlined lack specificity and are so broad as to be impractical. If the Trump administration does not narrow its goals in Syria, it risks turning Syria into a conflict as open-ended as Afghanistan.    

Read more

Borrowing Time: Rents and Reform in Saudi Arabia

Of the three various frames for studying the MENA region at present questions of securing economic development and reforming social welfare programs generally receive less attention than topics such as Islamism, security sector reform, or social mobilization. Most analysts…struggle to imagine the kind of economic improvement that could curb high levels of unemployment (especially among the educated) and generate much-needed revenue to finance state services such as education, health care, and basic infrastructure projects.

Read more

Safe haven: The future of Islamic extremism in the Sahel

Stretching from the Atlantic coast in the west to the Red Sea in the east, the region of north-central Africa known as the Sahel has rarely figured as a focus of international geopolitics. Yet this semi-arid band of territory, spanning some 14 countries and home to numerous ethnic and religious groups, is emerging as a new arena in the sprawling global battle between governments and jihadist groups.

Read more