"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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Economics of Palestinian Return Migration

by Ward Sayre , Jennifer Olmsted
published in MER212

Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have faced a series of economic shocks since the Gulf war. Each shock alone would have been difficult to weather, but combined they have led to a considerable worsening of economic conditions. These shocks included the Gulf war, Israeli closures of the West Bank and Gaza, and the influx of diaspora Palestinians after the Oslo accords. While the first two clearly had negative consequences, the last is more complex. The repatriation of diaspora Palestinians has led to a reversal of the “brain drain,” and an influx of much needed capital. Yet the impact of this spending has been disappointing and widening economic inequality may have resulted.

No Jubilee for the Middle East?

by Robert Naiman
published in MER213

The website of Jubilee 2000-United Kingdom lists 57 countries that have Jubilee 2000 campaigns for the cancellation of the unpayable debt of the poorest countries by the year 2000. [1] No country from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) appears on this list. [2]