Source: Council on Foreign Relations
As families work tirelessly to increase their income, and nations drive ever harder to spur economic growth, it can be easy to overlook the fact that the secret to growth may be hidden in plain sight. Saudi Arabia realized it when trying to end its “addiction to oil.”
It can’t transform its economy without a bigger labor force, and it can’t reach its workforce targets without including women. And so, amid broader political and economic upheaval — from multi-billion dollar mega projects to an anti-corruption purge that detained many of the country’s most prominent officials — Saudi Arabia’s bid to modernize its economy included the unexpected step of permitting women to drive. This is likely not the last groundbreaking announcement from the kingdom.
Because until Saudi women can work, travel, file legal claims, and otherwise engage in public life without permission from their male guardians — their father or husband, sometimes even their son —the country won’t realize the economic potential of half its population.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg for the region. Widespread legal and cultural barriers restrict how women participate in society, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), costing the Middle East and North Africa billions of dollars a year in lost income.
With only 21 percent of women employed (compared to 75 percent of men), the region has the lowest rate of women’s participation in the labor force. While women are more educated and skilled than they have ever been, few work in the private sector, fewer hold senior positions in any institution, and women-owned businesses tend to be informal, home-based enterprises with little opportunity to grow. READ MORE…
The internet and social media were once hailed for creating new opportunities to spread democracy and freedom. But authoritarian regimes soon began cracking down on internet freedom. They feared the brave new digital world, because it was beyond the reach of their analogue security establishments. Their fears proved unfounded. In the event, most social media-enabled popular uprisings failed for want of effective leadership, and traditional political and military organizations retained the upper hand. Technology does not stand still, and nor should democracy.read more
ISIS threat ‘is going to morph’ and possibly go underground in Iraq, says Maj.-Gen. Mike Rouleauread more
Government corruption provided Daesh and local militias with the umbrella they needed to seize power in Iraq, officials and lawmakers told Arab News on Thursday. They said Iraq’s security and political stability will remain threatened as long as corrupt officials continue to control the country’s assets. Iraq is high on the list of the most corrupt countries. The Iraqi Parliamentary Committee of Integrity told Arab News that the estimated value of “looted” amounts during the past 12 years has been more than $200 billion.read more
US companies are eager to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Iraq in all industrial sectors, especially in oil and gas, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil said on Thursday after US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman met with Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar Al-Luaibi. Al-Luaibi invited US companies to take part in tenders called by the Iraqi ministry and said Iraq was preparing more favorable work conditions for foreign companies investing and doing business in Iraq, Oil Price reported. The two US supermajors, ExxonMobil and Chevron, already have operations in parts of Iraq. Exxon signed an agreement in 2010 with Iraq’s South Oil Company to redevelop and rehabilitate the West Qurna I Oilfield in southern Iraq.read more
Mr Al Abadi has faced internal pressures to postpone the elections for at least six months but is adamant they will go ahead. Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi has assured the nation that parliamentary and provincial elections will be held in Iraq in May as scheduled. Mr Al Abadi has faced internal pressures from the State of Law Coalition and the Union of Sunni forces in addition to Kurdish parties to postpone the elections for at least six months, Al Hayat, the pan-Arab newspaper reported. But in his weekly press conference, the prime minister dismissed any doubts, saying, “The cabinet today reiterated that provincial and parliamentary elections will be held on 12 May 2018.,” Mr Al Abadi said. “There is no reason for delaying the elections.”read more