Transformations in the Arab World: Elements for an Assessment

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The methodological approach is based on the study of six aspects the ICT sector: innovation and finances; ICT infrastructure and affordability; Human capacity and research; ICT use by individuals, businesses and governments; Economic impact; Social impact. Generically speaking all of these measurements in most of the cases yield to the same results.

e-book Transformations in the Arab World: Elements for an Assessment

The Arab region countries can be categorized into four different groups with regards to their progress towards the digital economy; despite the economic and cultural diversity. The most developed group is the high-income countries of the GCC. These states have high internet penetration, high literacy rates, and in most cases relatively low youth unemployment. These countries have GDP levels similar to their cousins, but literacy rates are lower and a total of M citizens are unconnected.

It should be noted that not all the indices rank the Arab countries in the same order or yield to the same analysis; there is of course some differences. Lebanon is another example; surpassed by Morocco in the Enabling Digitalization Index and ranked at the 90 th position in the Digitization Index out of countries worldwide. Also, there is a difference in the number of the Arab countries included in these indices. For instance, the Digital Competitiveness and Digital Evolution are the less comprehensive in terms of the number of the Arab countries included; with only 4 Arab countries in the first and 6 Arab countries in the second.

More in depth analysis are provided from the McKinsey Digitization Index Moreover, countries in the region lag far behind in business digitization, with low availability of venture capital funding for start-ups and low share of the workforce employed in digital careers and industries. In conclusion, the region is a net importer and consumer of digital, rather than developing digital assets and services.

However, the Arab region has the opportunity to reap the digital dividends with concerted action by companies, governments, and individuals especially with the gap between the demand from a digital savvy young population and the supply. This change has impacted the structure of the Middle East sub-complexes, as well as the Middle East security complex as a whole. This sub-complex is the result and the reflection of the local struggle between Israel and the Palestinians, which set up and sustained a much wider hostility between Israel, on the one hand, and its immediate neighbors, as well as the wider Arab world, on the other.

To a lesser extent, this struggle has been shadowed by a conflict between Israel and the wider Islamic world. The argument that the Maghreb countries are currently part of the Levant sub-complex is advanced for two reasons: first, today the Western Sahara issue is not strong enough to provide the basis of a wide Maghreb sub-complex which cannot account for the place of Tunisia; and second, the Maghreb countries together with those of the Levant sub-complex have many things in common.

In other words, the Maghreb sub-complex has experienced internal transformation — while the Levant complex has undergone external transformation by incorporating the Maghreb countries. To this core rivalry, one may add the peripheral rivalry between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. However, due to increasing patterns of security interdependence, a strong case can be made that today this sub-complex constitutes a third Middle East sub-complex with Sudan and Somalia as its principals and where Saudi-Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf States have taken a significant interest.

From Transformation to Mediation: The Arab Spring Reframed

Hence the Middle East security complex has undergone external transformation by incorporating the Horn of Africa sub-complex. Since maintenance of the status quo would imply that the essential structure of the Middle East security complex would remain fundamentally intact, we argue that this regional security complex has not been static since it has undergone both a domestic and external transformation and therefore its structure has been changed. The modern Middle East began after the First World War, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the British Empire and their allies and partitioned into a number of separate entities, initially under British and French Mandates.

The most important regional transformations following the end of the Second World War included the establishment of the state of Israel in , the departure of the colonial powers Britain and France from the region by the end of the s, and the rising influence and regional involvement of the US from the s onwards. Among many important areas of contention between the superpowers was their desire to gain strategic advantage in the region and secure access to oil reserves at a time when oil was becoming increasingly vital to the economy of the industrialized countries of the West.

Consequently, the US sought to prevent the Arab world from being exposed to Soviet influence. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early s had several consequences for the Middle East.

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First of all, it allowed large numbers of Jewish people to immigrate from Russia and Ukraine to Israel, further strengthening the Jewish state. Second, it cut off the easiest source of credit, armaments, and diplomatic support to the anti-Western Arab regimes, weakening their position. Third, it opened up the prospect of cheap oil from Russia, driving down oil prices and reducing the dependence of the Western world on oil from the Arab states.

Fourth, it discredited the model of development through authoritarian state socialism that Egypt under Nasser , Algeria, Syria, and Iraq had followed since the s — leaving these regimes politically and economically stranded. In a bid for regional hegemony, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in The change of governance from autocracy to democracy that occurred in many places around the world following the end of the Cold War did not take place in the Middle East.

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At the same time, in most Middle East countries the growth of market economies was limited by political restrictions, corruption, cronyism, overspending on arms and prestige projects, and over-dependence on oil revenues. The successful economies were those countries that had oil wealth and low populations, such as the Gulf States where the ruling elites allowed some political and social liberalization — but without giving up any of their own power.

Lebanon also rebuilt a fairly successful economy after a prolonged civil war in the s. During the s, all these factors intensified conflict in the Middle East, which affected the entire world. The failure of the Clinton Administration to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine at the Camp David Summit in led eventually to the new Intifada that marked the first major outbreak of violence since the Oslo Peace Accords.

Many of the militant Islamists gained their military training while fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Bush decided to invade Afghanistan in to overthrow the Taliban regime — which had been harboring Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

It led to a prolonged occupation of a Middle Eastern capital by a Western army and marked a turning point in the history of the region. Despite elections held in January , much of Iraq had all but disintegrated due to a post-war insurgency. While ISIS has been significantly weakened in the Levant, branches of the organization have spread to other countries outside the Middle East and most notably Africa.

By , the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians had also deteriorated while in a new conflict had erupted between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon — further setting back any prospects for peace in the region.

How to measure the Digital Transformation in the Arab Countries - Petra | Arab Development Portal

Meanwhile, in , a Shia insurgency had also begun in Yemen. This eventually led to a war, that is still raging at the time of writing, and to the deterioration of Iran—Saudi Arabia relations as both became embroiled in a proxy war in Yemen. Finally, starting in late , the Arab Spring brought major protests, uprisings, and even revolutions to several Middle Eastern countries.

All these developments have added to regional complexity, which the contributors to this volume have attempted to unpack. The volume is divided into 9 chapters. She argues that given the variety of regionalisms, Middle Eastern regionalism has some commonalities as well as differences compared to similar processes in other regions.

Routine Turmoil or Historic Transformation? Understanding the Changes Underway Around the Arab World

She suggests that regionally initiated problem-solving mechanisms have been both weak and dysfunctional in the Middle East mainly as a result of the persistent outside intervention, which, nevertheless, is crucial for the ultimate resolution of critical regional conflicts. Sever points out that the spill over of Middle Eastern problems pose serious global challenges to the extent that what is regional and what is global has become obscure. In Chapter 2, Onur Erpul investigates whether or not Middle Eastern states are able to obtain a tenable regional order.

Approaching the question of regional order from an English School perspective, he explores the conditions that inhibit the moderation of conflict in the region at different levels of analysis. In doing so, he argues that there are numerous, cross-cutting, sources of conflict and disunity in the region including the overbearing presence of extra-regional powers, the lack of a common vision acceptable to all Middle Eastern states, the internal locus of security threats for many states, and the use of non-state violence.

He concludes that although there are mitigating circumstances, the Middle East international society is at best in a transitional and conflictive phase. He argues that although the US did not cause all of the problems currently facing the Middle East, the US has a mixed track record in its response to regional events.

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He concludes that although President George H. In Chapter 4, Spyridon N. He points out that Russia follows a more aggressive and interventionist approach than during the past and yet it maintains the old style of deceit. He concludes that Moscow implements an advanced strategy in the Middle East and whoever is ready to disregard this will be negatively surprised in the years to come.

Chen argues that China has sought to establish and maintain a prominent presence in the region in recent years. In doing so, she points out that the EU seeks to encourage and facilitate political, social, humanitarian, and economic reform in its MENA neighbors; deepen relationships — both bilaterally and regionally — between the EU and its MENA partners as well as between MENA states themselves; and address Israeli—Palestinian relations.

In Chapter 7, Yannis A. He argues that despite its rhetoric and revisions, the ENP has failed to produce the expected results mainly because it has discounted the feedback of the MENA countries. Following a Review, it remains to be seen whether the EU would be open to questions, criticism and suggestions from its MENA partners. It also remains to be seen whether MENA countries would play any role in setting the benchmarks of deep reform, have a say in how relevant EU policies develop, or would be involved in the performance assessment.

She argues that the traditional UN approach to regional security through the use of peacekeeping forces has been recently supplemented by a new approach that emphasizes human security.

As a result, the UN has sought to address regional security needs through developmental aid, humanitarian aid, and assistance to vulnerable groups. Miller points out that the Middle East is engulfed in conflict, ranging from civil wars, terrorism, and refugee crises that require and necessitate UN involvement.

She concludes that in order to address regional security challenges the UN should continuously work towards building partnerships with leading regional organizations, primarily the Arab League — and that future regional stability depends on the ability of the UN and its partner organizations to protect vulnerable groups and continuously work towards humanitarian and developmental goals.

The upheavals that have been shaking the Arab-Muslim world are revolutions in discourse as well as in the streets. Arabs are using not only traditional and religious vocabularies, but also…. Issue Date July Page Numbers