Development article dump

I had initially been banking mad stacks of articles which I fully intended to turn into independent blog posts. As I progressed through the pile, I realized that there seemed to be pretty similar themes evoking themselves, and perhaps it wasn’t worth the time needed to explain why I thought each was interesting when, indeed, they were interesting for the same reason. No doubt I accumulated so many articles which inspired thoughts on state-level institution-building and sustainable economic development because my mind had been trapped on those topics without relief for a period of several months.

I still think that the articles-to-have-been-referenced are interesting, and I should surely like to refer back to them later in case I have occasion to retrace the recession and growth of institutions in the Middle East and North Africa (the ordering of which is open to debate). I have picked three basic categories in the interest of spreading them out somewhat – instead of just having one big ol’ post and being all like, “Here ya go! Make some sense of this, or don’t!” The first is the one you are reading: the development dump. This post is intended to focus on larger scale development concerns which seem to hang around low level autocracies or anarchical societies, as the case may be. This can be a reference to actual physical infrastructure, political evolution, and so forth. Arguably, the articles in this post could very easily have fit into the second article dump – which will be devoted to the expansion or regression of institutions.

The EU, Morocco, and the Western Sahara: a chance for justice

European Council on Foreign Relations

“Morocco must weigh its interests in extraction in fishing, phosphates, and hydrocarbons with the need to win over the hearts of the Saharawi people, and thereby to minimise resistance. As a result, the Moroccan government has undertaken soft efforts to maintain its hold over the region. These include the recent co-option of formerly pro-POLISARIO and/or Saharawi notables through offering them positions such as wali (governor) of mainland Moroccan provinces as well as ministerial portfolios; a development plan for what Morocco calls its southern provinces; and a proposed autonomy plan for the WS region. The development plan put forward by Morocco’s Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE) touts billions of dollars’ worth of investments in developing the region, especially in agriculture, tourism, fishing, and phosphates. As part of the effort to develop the WS, Morocco has built airports, paved highways, and improved electricity infrastructure. Simultaneously, however, Morocco has settled thousands of people from Morocco proper to influence the results of a future referendum and to work on farms, which has also stifled opportunities for Saharawi employment and funnelled returns to the Moroccan business elite and the palace.”

In Libya, Politics Precedes Victory

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“Ultimately, Libya’s viability as a unified and peaceful nation-state has been tethered to domestic politics and an international policy founded on frenzied speculation about security threats. Ignorance of the Libyan context was what undermined the military intervention in 2011. The lack of political and humanitarian assistance to complement NATO’s efforts allowed Libya to fail as a state. Empowering politicians who had little actual influence but grand personal ambitions, rather than engaging stakeholders directly, allowed Libya’s post-revolutionary failures to compound. Five years on, the international community can learn from the mistake of engaging unilaterally without due respect to the context or risk repeating this factionalizing approach in an arena where the stakes have grown considerably higher.”

The Kurds: A Divided Future?

The New York Review of Books

“In short, the Kurdish political landscape is no less fractured than the region around it. Iraqi Kurdistan may have ended its economic dependence on Baghdad but any notion it harbors of breaking away from Iraq can never amount to more than quasi-independence — shibeh istiqlaal in Arabic — as an opposition leader put it, as long as the region, floating on a sea of corruption and adrift in economic misery, lacks the economic resources, military power, and international recognition it would need. Were Barzani to press ahead with formal statehood, the Kurds, who would be a late addition to the family of nation-states, would be living in a newly independent failed state on the model of South Sudan. Heavily indebted to the oil companies that came in search of its riches, the new entity would be choked off economically by Turkey and wracked by internal conflicts stoked by Iran.”

Transitional Justice in Egypt: A Challenge and an Opportunity

Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

“Finally, transitional justice is itself an externalised framework. There are benefits to this, in that it provides an objective language within which demands for justice can be made. It provides clear benchmarks against which progress can be measured, and lends legitimacy to the demands of campaigners. However, external frameworks cannot supplant the need for genuine national dialogue on the purpose of transition and the nature of justice being sought. If transitional justice is to be meaningful, there needs to be consensus on the direction of transition — on what Egypt is transitioning from, and where it wishes to transition to. This requires an honest national debate on the nature of the state and the protection of individual and collective rights and interests within it. This is the third challenge for transitional justice in Egypt. If transitional justice is to be effective, and not simply viewed as a partisan project that is being used instrumentally either by the government or by human rights organisations, then a high degree of national ownership will be required. All transitions require a delicate negotiation. Externalised frameworks of transitional justice can provide a language in which to negotiate. It can lend legitimacy to calls for justice, and it can help to raise support for those demands. It cannot, however, replace genuine national dialogue on what the priorities of a transitional justice process should be.”

“We Feel We Are Cursed”: Life under ISIS in Sirte, Libya

Human Rights Watch

“The ‘Charter for the City’ that ISIS issued in August 2015 in Sirte promises to keep those who accept its edicts ‘safe and sound.’ Yet even as it taxes Sirte’s residents, ISIS has failed to provide them with basic services that they make available to its members, all former and current residents interviewed said. The 300-bed Ibn Sina public hospital and local public clinics initially remained open after ISIS took control, but those facilities are now empty as nearly all doctors and nurses have fled, according to all former and current residents who spoke with Human Rights Watch, including two health-care workers. Some private clinics remain open but they are too expensive for most residents. ISIS commandeered the few doctors still practicing in private clinics for its members and their families, former residents said. The group has hijacked truckloads of medicine, three former residents said. One exiled councilman said ISIS also seized the ambulances. Almost no food is available in the city, all residents interviewed said.”

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