Author Archives: Riad Al-Khouri

Jordan’s electric problems

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour's incoming government last week won a vote of confidence in Parliament, securing the approval of 82 out of the Lower House’s 150 deputies. To most observers, the outcome was never in doubt, but, as an ally of the United States, Jordan’s political process must be presented in fairly glowing terms

China moves for Iraq’s black stuff

Since the American engagement in Iraq was downsized, other countries have continued to gain higher profiles there, and Iraq’s economic allegiances — and its resources — are being wooed by powers whose interests are in competition with those of the United States. Nothing demonstrates this change more dramatically than the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp

Jordan’s apolitical new parliament

As violence continued in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere in the region last week, Jordan managed to hold boringly quiet elections for the kingdom's 17th Lower House of Parliament. These came out as expected, with most of the winning candidates being non-ideological and representing clans. While the king was allegedly seeking a new approach to

Reaching beyond Iraq

In a region marred by old conflicts and new social unrest, semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan seems to be sitting rather pretty. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is clocking strong growth in gross domestic product per capita (now well over $5,000) in an atmosphere of relative stability. Kurdish opposition protests against the KRG, which were attracting global

The Kurdish triangle

Almost 20 months into the Syrian crisis, a heady mixture of Arab, Turkish, and Kurdish nationalisms are adding another level of complexity to confusion. Consider the following emerging triangular strategic relations between Turkey and the region’s Kurds. The Turkish government loves the folks in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan province, but hates some of their kin in

Israel’s preference for Arab oppression

    The drastic changes in Egypt, and the unrest throughout the region, have left Israel with a new sense of strategic vulnerability. Though the Egyptian military says that Cairo will respect existing international treaties, alarm in Israel over the fate of the 1978 Camp David accords is evident. Israel has not been in a

Of politics and profits

Iran and Turkey’s respective economic involvement in the Middle East continues to grow, but as is so often the case in our region, business is becoming mixed up with politics. A good example of this is Tehran’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, home to about half a million Iranians and one of Iran’s largest

Mashreq enmeshed

  The economy of the eastern Mediterranean went from being a unified whole under the Ottomans 100 years ago to increasing fragmentation in the Twentieth Century. This trend was especially apparent in 1950 when Lebanon and Syria broke off their customs union, and the latter proceeded to erect higher tariff barriers, eventually being emulated in

Diversifying Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan’s continued over-reliance on oil wealth helps the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) dominate employment in the province by creating large numbers of unproductive city-based public sector jobs. Not diversifying away from oil thus leads to many short and long-term problems, but the irony is that Kurdistan — unlike some other economies in the Middle

Pirated intellect bedevils WTO

Lebanon first applied to join the World Trade Organization in 1999, but now, a decade later, the country’s accession is still not a done deal — a time lag far longer than with most other past or current applicants. At WTO meetings on Lebanon’s accession, an often raised issue is the state of intellectual property