Nader Habibi

Nader Habibi is the Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East at Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies. His research has focused on economic and financial conditions of oil-exporting Middle Eastern countries, particularly Iran and the GCC Countries. Before joining Brandeis University in June 2007, he served as managing director of economic forecasting and risk analysis for Middle East and North Africa at Global Insight Ltd. Habibi has more than 20 years of experience in teaching, research and management positions;, including vice president for research in Iran Banking Institute (Tehran), assistant professor of economics in Bilkent University (Ankara) and research fellow and lecturer on the political economy of the Middle East at Yale University. He is the author of a book on bureaucratic corruption and several articles in refereed journals. He earned his Ph.D. in economics at Michigan State University. His most recent research projects include an analysis of the impact of the global financial crisis on Arab economies, the impact of economic sanctions on the Iranian economy and an ongoing research

Articles written by Nader Habibi

Economic Crisis First Order of Business for Iran’s Rowhani

By Nader Habibi
, on , Briefing

The unexpected victory of centrist candidate Hasan Rowhani in Iran’s presidential election signals a significant shift in Iranian politics. It is expected that Rowhani’s victory will help improve Iran’s political environment and restore some limited civil and political rights. But Rowhani’s first order of business is likely to be Iran’s economy, which has deteriorated sharply since the middle of last year. more

As Iran Sanctions Intensify, Tehran Plays the Blame Game

By Nader Habibi
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In the most direct admission by a high-ranking government official of the impact of international sanctions, Iranian Minister of Industry Mehdi Ghazanfari called the latest round of sanctions “crippling” last week. In the past six months, Iran’s economy plunged into recession. With presidential elections set for June, the debate over who is to blame has become heavily politicized. more

Egypt's Morsi Incompetent, Not Authoritarian

By Nader Habibi
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After several weeks of intense protests, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Saturday rescinded a decree that had given him extrajudicial powers. Protesters filling Tahrir Square in response to the decree carryied banners equating Morsi with his dictatorial predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. But by caving in to the protesters, Morsi showed that his main failing is incompetence rather than authoritarianism.   more

Embassy Attacks in Egypt, Tunisia Could Marginalize Extremists

By Nader Habibi
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Some commentators have argued that last week’s attacks on U.S. embassies will strengthen the radical and anti-Western Islamic factions in Egypt and Tunisia. However, a number of political and economic realities suggest that the violent attacks might instead strengthen these countries’ moderate Islamists, who are now responsible for dealing with the economic crises plaguing both countries. more

Showing Pragmatism, Egypt's Morsi Looks to Saudi Arabia

By Nader Habibi
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The first official foreign visit of any newly elected president represents a significant symbolic statement. So the announcement that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s first foreign visit will be to Saudi Arabia came as a surprise. The choice reflects the priorities of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, for whom the Egyptian economy is the top concern and Saudi Arabia is an important economic partner. more

Ties With Russia, China Constrain Turkey's Options on Syria

By Nader Habibi
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To have any chance of success, any vigorous military intervention in Syria would require the backing of key local actors, particularly Turkey. While Turkey has been openly critical of Assad’s regime since the beginning of the uprising, Ankara has important reasons to be reluctant to provide active material and military support to anything other than a broad-based, U.N.-sanctioned anti-Assad coalition. more

Economic Clouds Darken Turkey's Diplomatic Horizon in the Middle East

By Nader Habibi
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Turkey’s diplomatic re-engagement with the Middle East during the past decade not only coincided with a period of strong economic growth at home, but was closely interconnected with it. Now, there are some indications that Turkey’s economy might be heading for difficult times in 2012, raising the question of how an economic downturn could affect Turkey’s active foreign policy in the region. more

U.S. Sanctions One Factor Among Many Behind Iran's Currency Slide

By Nader Habibi
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Iran’s exchange rate is experiencing unusual volatility, with the U.S. dollar and the euro both rising by more than 25 percent against the Iranian rial over the past three weeks. While new U.S. sanctions targeting the Iranian central bank have played a role in the exchange-rate volatility, a cluster of domestic policy moves and private-sector trends have also played a major role in the rial’s slide. more

Turkey, Iran Walk a Fine Line on Syria

By Nader Habibi
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Economic and diplomatic relations between Iran and Turkey have improved significantly in recent years, and for good reason. Each side offers something the other needs. These beneficial trade relations have, up to now, encouraged both countries to downplay their ideological and strategic disagreements. Recent developments in Syria, however, will test the limits of Turkish-Iranian ties in the coming months. more

The Implications of SCO Enlargement

By Nader Habibi
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At the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's summit last week in Astana, Kazakhstan, the group considered the applications of Pakistan, India, Mongolia and Iran for full membership, with increasing indications that India and Pakistan might be admitted, although not before next year. Admission of these two nations could alter the mission and global relevance of the SCO as a regional multilateral organization. more

Conflict Refugees From Arab Uprisings a Growing Crisis

By Nader Habibi
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The popular uprisings against authoritarian regimes in several Arab countries has given rise to a new crisis: the growing number of conflict refugees. The flow of conflict refugees has already become an economic burden on neighboring Arab states. But the international community must also plan to deal with a possible surge in the number of refugees trying to escape toward more-distant countries. more

U.S. Silence on Bahrain Crackdown Ignores Iraq Factor

By Nader Habibi
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Current U.S. policy toward Bahrain neglects the potential adverse consequences on U.S. interests in Iraq. If Iran were the only country outraged by the suppression of the Bahraini protests, it would have made sense for the United States to focus on preserving its strategic relations with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. But the crackdown has infuriated Shiites in Iraq, where they dominate the central government. more

Structuring Economic Assistance for Egypt and Tunisia

By Nader Habibi
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As Egypt and Tunisia move forward with their democratic transition, current economic problems may escalate into a full-scale economic crisis and undermine democratic reforms. To help prevent that from happening, the international community must put together a comprehensive economic aid and investment plan for these countries. Where, though, should the funds for this proposal come from? more

From Democracy Deficit to Democracy Envy in the Middle East

By Nader Habibi
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Much analysis of the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East has identified economic hardship as a crucial motivation for the uprisings. But after Egyptians successfully ousted Hosni Mubarak, unrest subsequently spread across the region to countries with very diverse economic conditions. Another force is at play here, one more powerful than economic discontent: democracy envy. more