The most remarkable trait of Washington’s policy toward Egypt has been its lack of clarity. That’s part of the reason why each side in the battle over Egypt’s future blames America for supporting the other. Now President Barack Obama has to decide whether or not to continue providing more than $1.5 billion in aid annually. He will be tempted to make another hazy, ambiguous decision, one that allows him to stand on all sides of the issue. Instead, he should take the opportunity to clarify America’s position. According to some reports, the Obama administration has secretly suspended aid, which manages […]

Since the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the brutal military crackdown on the Islamic movement that has led to more than 1,000 deaths, regional actors in the Middle East have been positioning themselves behind the opposing sides. There has been a divide among U.S. allies, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait coming out in strong support of the military rule in Egypt, and Qatar remaining a strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi government. “Saudi Arabia has emerged very publicly,” Phyllis Bennis, a Middle East analyst who directs the New Internationalism Project at […]

A year after Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn came to power following the death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi in August 2012, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) remains firmly in control. It has continued to govern through a collective leadership that includes three deputy prime ministers from the Amhara, Tigray and Oromo wings of the coalition; Hailemariam hails from the Southern People’s Party. Party discipline and coherence has held, although the lead-up to elections in 2015 may reveal destabilizing fissures. But while older opposition parties and armed movements have been marginalized, a social movement of Ethiopian Muslims […]

The small island-state of Timor-Leste exemplifies the challenge of resource-based development for a poor country well-endowed with a valuable natural resource. Timor-Leste, which gained its independence in 2002, has accumulated $13 billion in its petroleum fund in less than a decade. Some of the largest multinational oil companies are operating in the country, and the revenues continue to flow. And yet, while Timor-Leste has seen very notable improvements in its development indicators in the past few years, it continues to face a massive challenge of converting financial wealth into economic development. There are also heated debates about how to spend […]

For mineral-rich countries, large-scale extractive industry projects are a double-edged sword. On one hand, mining royalties and taxes provide funds that can be invested in infrastructure and social services. Mining projects can also create local jobs and spur demand for locally produced goods and services, supporting livelihoods and spurring economic growth. On the other hand, mining revenues can be—and there is plenty of evidence that they routinely are—spirited or frittered away, leaving little to show by way of long-term productive investment or better living standards. Moreover, mining booms undermine growth in other industries by skewing labor demand and swelling the […]