Economic Consequences and the State of the Arab Transitions

As the Arab uprisings begin their fourth year, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East continues to track and analyze the political and economic aspects of these transitions. Two new publications examine current trends and attempt to gauge future developments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.

In a new report, The State of the Arab Transitions: Hope Resilient Despite Many Unmet Demands, authors Mirette F. Mabrouk, deputy director for regional programs, and Stefanie A. Hausheer, assistant director, examine the progress in achieving the original demands of protestors and contend that local actors would embrace greater international support to help facilitate genuine transitions. By examining six key themes—political polarization, constitution-drafting processes, transitional justice, economic progress, civil society freedoms, and the future of political Islam—the authors conclude that while the results so far have fallen short of expectations, there is still a strong indigenous commitment to democratic change and a barrier of fear has been irrevocably broken. Citizens in these countries remain firm in their demands for reform and popular pressure will continue to push future governments to realize the goals of the revolutions. 

In a new issue brief, The Economic Consequences of the Arab Spring, Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Mohsin Khan contends that although political turmoil has dominated economic decision-making in the Arab transition countries and Jordan and Morocco during the last three years, there is some encouraging evidence that these economies will turn around in 2014. Analyzing economic developments in the Arab transition countries, Khan notes that social unrest, higher oil prices, slower global growth, and regional spillovers resulted in sharp declines in gross domestic products and rising unemployment. To avoid another round of political upheaval, governments will need to balance policies to achieve macroeconomic stability and higher economic growth. Assistance from the International Monetary Fund and other international donors will help to stabilize the economies, but ultimately only market-oriented reforms that give a leading role to private sector will deliver the necessary growth rates to generate sufficient new jobs and improve standards of living.

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