Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East

  • Poor Air Quality and Lost Economic Opportunities

    Air quality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has deteriorated dramatically over the last few decades.Recent research on global level of pollution ranked Cairo as the most polluted city in the world. The situation in other major cities in the region is not very different from the Egyptian capital. The region has witnessed major shifts in energy production and consumption trends over the last few decades which contribute to high levels of air pollution.


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  • Trump’s Iran Policy Is Undermining Gulf Oil Security

    How many oil tankers laden with Saudi or Emirati oil need to be attacked around the Strait of Hormuz for the US to use force in the Gulf? That is not an American problem, according to US President Donald Trump. The world’s major geopolitical chokepoint for global oil supplies, that Arabian Gulf countries leveraged in pursuit of garnering American support, against Iran has now become irrelevant under the Trump administration. Iran’s security wildcard—closing the Strait of Hormuz—has become obsolete. Six tankers sabotaged around the strait and the markets didn’t even flinch, with crude oil benchmark prices continuing to decline over the two-month period of the attacks. 

    The Trump administration buck-passing Gulf oil security has sent shivers down the...

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  • Slavin Quoted in National Catholic Reporter on US-Iran Tensions


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  • A Shift in Iraqi Politics: An Opposition Emerges

    Since 2003, the principle of multi-party consensus has defined Iraq’s political system. This formula was deemed best for Iraq during a transition period, and it relied on the existence of broad sectarian and ethnic coalitions. In practice, this consensus represented the major Shia and Kurdish political parties while Sunnis fit into the mold as best they could or were left out. Though consensus rule certainly gave a wider group of political actors a stake in the system, it also blurred the lines of responsibility and made accountability impossible. Cracks are now emerging in the consensus model, with coalitions fragmenting and a historic step in Iraq’s democratic transition: the appearance of an opposition party.


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  • Iran’s Crude Oil Exports: What Minimum Is Enough to Stay Afloat?

    With the US aiming to bring Iran’s petroleum exports to a complete stop through imposed sanctions, and Iran’s dependence on petroleum revenues, the Iranian government will do its utmost to secure the minimum required oil exports. But, what is that minimum? In order to perhaps find an answer, one needs to understand current Iranian macroeconomics.

    Crude oil exports is one of the main revenue sources of the Iranian government, as well as a major contributing engine for developing the country’s infrastructure and economy. Yet, only 17 percent of the Iranian GDP in 2018 and 30 percent of the government’s fiscal budget for the Iranian year 2019-2020 depend on petroleum exports.

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  • After Russian Air Defense Deal, Can Ankara and Washington Repair Their Relationship?

    The delivery of a Russian air defense system to Turkey has jeopardized the defense relationship between the United States and one of its most important NATO and regional allies.

    The first components of the Russian-built S-400 air defense system arrived in Ankara on July 12, according to the Turkish ministry of defense, beginning the fulfillment of an agreement Turkey signed with Russia in December 2017.


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  • After Sistani and Khamenei—Looming Successions Will Shape the Middle East

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    As Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei age, the international community of Shia Muslims faces a looming void in religious and political leadership. Whoever succeeds these leaders will determine the extent of international influence in Iraq, the direction of Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear program, and the nature of both countries’ relations with the United States. As the Atlantic Council’s Iraq Initiative Director Abbas Kadhim and Future of Iran Initiative Director Barbara Slavin argue in their new Issue Brief "After Sistani and

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  • Hellyer Quoted in Religion News Service on Religious Freedom


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  • Slavin Quoted in Heritage Florida Jewish News on Iranian Uranium Enrichment


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  • Latest Libyan Shock Should Come as No Surprise

    A few years ago, I was asked by an international journalist to comment on rumors about the presence of French troops in eastern Libya. Purportedly, France was actively supporting former Qaddafi army general Khalifa Haftar in his attempt to expand his control over the entire region of Cyrenaica. This was done under the pretext of combating Islamic radical terrorists and other opponents of the general, who had been appointed as Marshal by the rubber stamp Libyan parliament in Tobruk.


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