19 February 2018 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


Middle East Governments Are Cutting Their Military Budgets Even As Wars Rage Around The Region
by Forbes, 19 Feb 2018

Military spending in the Middle East has fallen over the past year, despite a string of ongoing conflicts across the region, including those in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. According to data published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) on February 14, total spending across the region fell to $167bn in 2017, down 4% from $174bn the year before. 

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UN experts say political settlement in Libya ‘out of reach’
The Washington Post, 19 Feb 2018

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. experts say “a political solution in Libya remains out of reach in the near future.” The panel of experts said in the summary of a report to the Security Council obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press that despite U.N. efforts to overcome the current stalemate “military dynamics in Libya and conflicting regional agendas show a lack of commitment to a peaceful solution.”

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Promising money, EU tries to woo Assad into Syria peace talks
by MEMO, 17 Feb 2018

The European Union’s top diplomat on Friday raised the prospect of collecting money for rebuilding Syria but only if fighting abates and Russia makes sure its ally, President Bashar al-Assad engages in the stalled UN peace talks. The EU wants to leverage its top aid donor role to revive the United Nations-led talks that have achieved little over seven years of the war and hit a deadlock as Russian and Iranian military interventions gave Assad the upper hand on the ground.

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Across North Africa and the Middle East, 2018 Looks to Be a Year of Civil Unrest
by Chathmanhouse , 25 Jan 2018

Civic protests look set to become the theme of this year in a number of Middle Eastern and North African states [...] The IMF is also blamed, but international funds have not necessarily been lacking to restructure the Tunisian and other North African economies. Foreign-funded projects often stall in implementation in the absence of local capacities to absorb and deploy funds accountably; in turn, foreign private investors are deterred by the lack of local partners willing to risk their own capital in investments at home.

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