Street Vendors

by Karim El-Gawhary
published in MER202

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Private Capital and the State in Contemporary Syria

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER203

Throughout the late 1980s, Syria’s economy suffered persistent difficulties. Shortages of imported machinery and spare parts led to underproduction and quality control breakdowns in the country’s larger factories. External indebtedness rose to some $4.9 billion by 1988; payments on foreign loans fell more than $100 million into arrears by early 1989 and about $210 million behind by the winter of 1989-1990. Foreign exchange became so scarce in the spring of 1989 that the central administration started rationing its meager stockpile of hard currency, giving priority to those enterprises most likely to generate export earnings, particularly the assembly of light manufactured goods and agricultural commodities.

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"Nothing More to Lose"

Landowners, Tenants and Economic Liberalization in Egypt

by Karim El-Gawhary
published in MER204

Economic liberalization is now hitting the Egyptian countryside. After decades of Nasserist regulations favoring small land tenants, a new law will “reform” the relationship between landowners and tenants in favor of the first. It will more fully integrate the Egyptian countryside into the global market because it gives owners the right to dispose of their land as they see fit. These rights constitute a precondition for modernizing production methods in the countryside and planting more risky export crops. With agrobusinessmen able to invest and extract more income from the land, economists hope that Egypt will be able to decrease its annual agricultural deficit of $2.7 billion.

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The End of the Counterrevolution?

The Politics of Economic Adjustment in Kuwait

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER204

Over the last 50 years, a massive infusion of petrodollars enabled the new monarchies of the Gulf to engage in impressive experiments in counterrevolution. During the 1970s, King Faysal of Saudi Arabia attempted to preserve the traditional social hierarchy of his country by modernizing without industrializing. A decade earlier, the Shah of Iran staged a preemptive strike against demands for change by launching his own “white revolution.” Yet the most successful counterrevolution in the Gulf was the massive and successful program of the Sabah dynasty in Kuwait to preserve its power by building the region’s first modern welfare state.

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The Contradictions of Economic Reform in Israel

by Michael Shalev
published in MER207

Half a century ago Israel was a poor new state hopelessly indebted to the outside world. Fifteen years later, it could be described as a rapidly growing developing country undergoing successful industrialization. By the early 1980s, it was an extreme case of an economically overburdened state incapable of stemming stagnation and spiraling inflation. But as the century comes to a close, the guardians of the “Washington consensus” laud Israel as a model of economic liberalization and successful adaptation to globalization and technological change.

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Dreamland: The Neoliberalism of Your Desires

by Timothy Mitchell
published in MER210

Neoliberalism is a triumph of the political imagination. Its achievement is double: While narrowing the window of political debate, it promises from this window a prospect without limits. On the one hand, it frames public discussion in the elliptic language of neoclassical economics. The collective well-being of the nation is depicted only in terms of how it is adjusted in gross to the discipline of monetary and fiscal balance sheets. On the other, neglecting the actual concerns of any concrete local or collective community, neoliberalism encourages the most exuberant dreams of private accumulation -- and a chaotic reallocation of collective resources.

Economic Restructuring in the Middle East

Implications for Women

by Eleanor Abdella Doumato
published in MER210

The effect of economic restructuring on women was the focus of a two-day workshop at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies in 1998, entitled “Women and Economic Restructuring in the Middle East: Gender, Jobs and Activist Organizations.” Participants [1] agreed that restructuring both helps and hurts women, depending on specific economic, social and political conditions in individual countries, as well as prevalent ideologies regarding gender and class. Women of the Middle East-North Africa region constitute only a small part of the salaried labor force, attend school for fewer years than males and have a far higher rate of illiteracy.

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Controlling Capital, Disciplining States

East Asia's Lessons for Middle Eastern Economies

by Marsha Pripstein Posusney
published in MER210

Asia’s developing economies pose challenging questions for the left’s conception of the relationship between the state and development in this era of global capitalism. Neoliberals often cite East Asian economies as proof of the validity of their laissez faire development theories because they achieved high growth and technological development in a market framework. But a combination of state intervention and market discipline was actually behind the relative successes of these economies.

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Reform or Reaction?

Dilemmas of Economic Development in the Middle East

by Karen Pfeifer , Marsha Pripstein Posusney , Djavad Salehi-Isfahani , Steve Niva
published in MER210

This issue of Middle East Report presents critical -- and timely -- analysis of the impact of neoliberal economic policies in the Middle East and North Africa. Authors representing a variety of disciplines and viewpoints explore the dilemmas confronting progressive forces searching for alternative programs to restore growth and promote equity.

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The Imam's Blue Boxes

by Kevan Harris
published in MER257

A fashionable description of the Islamic Republic of Iran is “garrison state,” a concept that originated in the West in the early 1940s. In a garrison state, the ruling elite is mainly composed of “specialists in violence,” and military bureaucrats dominate the social and civil spheres. In Iran’s case, the term is meant to refer to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and its rise in the state apparatus. After World War II, however, a group of social historians revised the consensus concerning the social effects of war. Observing the total mobilization of society in wartime, scholars such as Richard Titmuss noticed an increased effort by Western governments to reduce inequality.

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