One Nation, Divided

The nation is still deeply divided over Donald Trump’s stunning win – and so is Congress. The 2000 presidential election was a painful period for American democracy, as voters and candidates wondered whether the electoral system that was supposed to be a model for the world was, in fact, fatally flawed. A protracted recount in Florida left the nation without a clear winner until December, when a Supreme Court ruling stopping the recount made Republican George W. Bush the winner. Foes of the president-elect called the outcome rigged, and said…

The youthful path to ending Middle East wars

On the sixth anniversary of the Arab Spring, the region’s youth are even more embracing openness and freedom. They might help bring peace from below. Even though the Middle East is entangled in four wars and millions of refugees, many Arabs will mark an inspiring anniversary on Dec. 17. Six years ago a young entrepreneur in Tunisia, who was barred from selling fruit by corrupt police, started the Arab Spring with an act of self-immolation. His defiance and sacrifice led to pro-democracy protests that toppled four dictators. Only in Tunisia,…

Tunisia’s (olive) oil rush

Demand for north African oil is growing, much to the annoyance of the big players in Europe. TEBOURBA, Tunisia — Hidden behind the Mahjoub olive press, a row of millstones traces the long history of olive oil production in this corner of northern Africa. At one end, there are the stones used by five generations of the Mahjoub family: flat, heavy discs at least a meter across, made of granite or volcanic rock. At the other lie cylinders of rough-hewn rock, which crushed olives when Tunisia lay within the province…

The Carthage Agreement Under Scrutiny

Tunisia’s national unity government symbolizes political elites’ willingness to cooperate, but their fragile compromise poses risks to the democratic process. In summer 2016, President Beji Caid Essebsi oversaw a process to produce a “government of national unity” that would, it was hoped, stabilize Tunisia. This process was formalized in July 2016 through the Carthage Agreement. It had its first tangible effects on July 30, when Prime Minister Habib Essid asked the parliament for a vote of confidence, which failed, leading to his dismissal and replacement by Youssef Chahed. On August…

Why Tunisia’s path looks brighter than Egypt’s

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS – It’s been five years since Egypt and Tunisia underwent regime change, and both countries are still suffering from low economic growth, large fiscal deficits, high unemployment and rising public debts. Having failed to institute reforms on their own, both have turned to the International Monetary Fund, which entered into an arrangement with Tunisia in 2013 and has just approved a $12 billion loan program for Egypt — the country’s first since 1991, and the largest ever for a Middle Eastern country. On the face of it, countries…

Mediterranean Basin: An Assessment of Economic Cooperation

Although the Mediterranean Basin is home to countries of three continents, and was the world’s center for many centuries, Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries (SEMCs) often complain that the only way to attract the attention of policymakers in Washington is via security issues. Apart from seeing the Mediterranean as part of European security, these countries reiterate the need to see the importance and the necessity of economic development and cooperation in the Mediterranean. In fact, there were initiatives launched in the pre-Arab Spring era with the aim to develop economic…

Credit Suisse Research Institute published Global Wealth Report 2016

  The Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) published its seventh annual Global Wealth Report. According to the publication, the overall growth in global wealth remained limited in 2016, continuing the trend that emerged in 2013 and contrasting sharply with the double-digit growth rates witnessed before the global financial crisis of 2008. In the mid-term, only moderate acceleration is expected. Switzerland once again ranked as the global leader in terms of average wealth per adult in 2016. As the latest edition of the CSRI Global Wealth Report shows, total global wealth…

Club de Madrid supports the “InspiringTunisia” campaign for succes of “Tunisia 2020” conference

Former Premier Mehdi Jomaa addressed to Club of Madrid members a message entitled “Inspiring Tunisia”, to rally international solidarity for Tunisia, on the occasion of the International Investment Conference “Tunisia 2020” to be held on November 29-30 in Tunis. The message, delivered by Jomaa on Thursday, was signed by 11 figures including former leaders of Spain, South Korea, Netherlands, Portugal, Mexico, and Uruguay… The signatories affirmed their commitment to turn words into actions by helping Tunisia achieve its democratic process and stressed their readiness to use their official relations network…

A Palestine Succession Story

On two occasions, a Palestinian political entity has had its leader die in office. The first time, in 1963, the event attracted little attention because the entity in question had all but disappeared. By sharp contrast, the second time, in 2004, Palestine had a variety of political structures with some viability and clear succession mechanisms, all of which were followed. When a third succession occurs, the likely outcome will be somewhere between those two experiences. In 1963, Ahmad Hilmi, prime minister of the All-Palestine Government, passed away in Lebanon. A…

A Europe with nowhere to go

When Donald Trump was elected the next president of the United States on November 8, the doom and gloom across most EU countries was palpable. Some former foreign ministers opined that this was the end of the West as we know it, that the transatlantic relationship was in peril, and that the post-1945 liberal order had come to an end. Europe had to react. Some EU leaders, notably Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said Trump’s election showed why the EU needed its own army—as if European governments were going…