Middle East

In the aftermath of the financial crisis the world saw an increase in the number of street protests. Many inspired by perceived connections between the political elite and business interests; Occupy Wall Street and Los Indignados in the west to the Arab Spring and the protests against Victor Yanukovich in Ukraine. A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research presents evidence on their power.

Daron Acemoglu, Tarek Hassan and Ahmed Tahoun examines the correlation between street protests in Egypt and the stock market returns for firms connected to former president Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military. Read more

After a 13-year long war, UK forces and the US marines ended operations in Afghanistan on Sunday: in total 453 UK citizens lost their lives in the conflict and over 21,000 Afghanis are estimated to have died. The operational cost to the government is thought to be around £19bn. Read more

The recent fall in oil prices is bad news for Opec nations. For many the fall is large enough to put their governments into deficit. Only for the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait is the oil price above the level necessary for the government to run a surplus, the rest need an increase in prices or they’ll run a deficit. As well as telling us about the health of government finances, this may give some indication about Opec’s intentions to raise or lower production. To read more and explore our interactive graphic click here.

 

More migrants die crossing the Mediterranean than any other border in the world. In total the Mediterranean accounts for 75 per cent of the world’s migrant deaths. So far this year the Italian navy’s Mare Nostrum rescue operation has saved 100,000 migrant who tried to make the crossing but it is set to be replaced by a smaller and EU-managed force known as Triton.

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Isis in Iraq interactive map

The offensive of insurgent groups led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis) has taken Iraq to the brink of a sectarian civil war. Iraq’s army buckled under the advance last week, allowing Sunni militants to over-run major towns and cities, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

While Isis aims to wipe away post-colonial borders to create an Islamic state across much of Syria and Iraq, it joined with other Sunni insurgent groups opposed to the Shia government in Baghdad. With Kurds in northern Iraq also seeing an opportunity to consolidate greater autonomy, the crisis theatens Iraq’s very existence. Read more

by Andrew Jack

From trade embargoes to arms blockades, sanctions have long been an extension of conflict by non-military means. Since the start of the twenty-first century, there has been growing use of “targeted” sanctions that draw on intelligence to pinpoint individuals for travel bans or asset freezes. The United Nations, the European Union and the US have announced a wide series of measures, while other organisations including the African Union and individual countries have also issued them with varying degrees of success.

There is fierce debate about the effectiveness of sanctions, with at least two organisations seeking to assess their mixed impact. Our interactive graphic draws on the global analysis by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Targeted Sanctions Consortium, based in Switzerland. Read more