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March 2018

Center for Middle East Public Policy

Featured Research

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) makes a statement as European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini watches, following nuclear talks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, April 2, 2015

Brendan Smialowski/Reuters/Pool

Saving Transatlantic Cooperation and the Iran Nuclear Deal

Transatlantic differences over the future of the Iran nuclear deal are damaging a nuclear accord that all parties, except the United States, see as delivering on its purpose. Americans and Europeans need to set up new channels of communication to avoid a transatlantic rift, preserve the Iran deal, and secure its benefits for regional and global security.

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Exchange Reconstruction Assistance for Bottom-Up Reform in Syria

Workers repair the damage in front of Aleppo's historic citadel, as posters depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are erected in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria, January 31, 2017, photo by Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

Syrian peace talks are not working. What leverage the United States and its allies have derives largely from their ability to offer or withhold reconstruction aid. Offering reconstruction on a community-by-community basis could provide a way forward in Syria.

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Health Care Reform in Kurdistan, Iraq: Primary Care, Practice Reform, and Training

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq: main square, Shar Park, photo by mtcurado/Getty Images

Since 2010, RAND has worked with the Kurdistan Regional Government to improve its health care system. This third phase focused on a primary care management information system, physician dual practice reform, and patient safety training.

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If We Don't Get the Peace Right, Iraq Will Slide Back into the Morass

Workers repair a bridge in Mosul, Iraq, January 28, 2018, photo by Khalid Al-Mousily/Reuters

Actions taken now by the United States, the Iraqi government, and private parties could determine the war-torn country's future. The message the Sunnis receive in these next six months will determine whether Iraq is on the path to stability.

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Undermining Violent Extremism in Yemen

Anti-government protesters outside Sana'a University raise their fingers and fists in the air while chanting for a new Yemen, February 25, 2011, photo by AJTalkEng/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In the past 50 years, Yemen has faced significant political instability, including multiple civil wars. Why might Yemenis reject political violence despite persistent conflict and unrest? And how can the United States and its partners undermine violent extremism?

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What Life Under ISIS Looked Like from Space

Mosul in March 2016, under Islamic State control, when nighttime lighting had fallen by 55 percent compared to its pre-ISIS levels in January 2014, image by NOAA Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS)

Satellite images show how ISIS attempted to govern in Iraq and Syria, the economic damage the group left behind, and what it will take to rebuild.

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Researcher Spotlight

Q&A with Shira Efron

Shira Efron

Shira Efron is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, a special advisor on Israel with RAND’s Center for Middle East Public Policy, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She is leading RAND’s new Israel initiative and researches issues related to Israel, the Middle East, food security, and technology adoption in the Middle East and Africa.

Shira's work on Gaza's water and sanitation crisis was recently featured externally and she wrote an op-ed on this topic. A related RAND report is forthcoming.

1. What is your professional background?

My background is pretty diverse. As an alum of Pardee RAND's Ph.D. program, I am formally trained in quantitative and qualitative research methods. I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the adoption of emerging technologies to improve food security in Africa. Prior to RAND I worked as analyst for think tanks and nongovernmental organizations in Washington, D.C. and in Israel focusing on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Before that, I was an analyst with a hedge fund in New York examining macroeconomic trends and prior to that, I was a journalist at the Israeli daily Haaretz.

2. In what specific areas does your research focus?

I am interested in a variety of things—most recently in the linkage between water and food security, climate change, and national security. The impacts of water and food scarcity can undermine basic livelihoods and exacerbate social tensions, which can lead to instability and conflict if left unaddressed or when compounded by other social or political grievances. The consequences of these intersecting challenges vary greatly around the world and depend on a myriad of factors, including political, social, and economic conditions; existing infrastructure; and policy decisions. I am naturally interested in examining these issues in the context of the Middle East and Africa.

3. What are you currently working on?

I am currently building a dedicated Israel Program within CMEPP. This program will address critical socioeconomic and foreign policy issues facing Israel. One domestic socioeconomic topic this program is taking on is minimizing the gaps between the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel. The Arab population in Israel stands at about 21 percent of the total population. Despite having full formal rights, the socioeconomic gap between the Israeli Arab population and the rest of society is vast. The goal of this project is to provide a strategic blueprint to narrow these gaps. To achieve this, CMEPP is hosting RAND’s inaugural Israel Fellow, Amir Levi, who until recently served as director of the Budgets Department in Israel's Ministry of Finance and who has spearheaded efforts to integrate the Arab population into the society and economy. On the foreign policy front, one of our key projects focuses on the growing and deepening economic, technological, and diplomatic ties between Israel and China, which have expanded to unprecedented levels in recent years. While the evolving relations with China present Israel with an important opportunity to expand its ties with the world's fastest growing economy, they also pose a variety of challenges, particularly given the limited expertise on China within Israel.

4. Why is this work so important?

RAND’s interdisciplinary expertise and non-partisan attributes can address the most politically sensitive issues in Israel with a longer-term strategic perspective, finding credible solutions to difficult policy challenges. The program will prioritize projects that align with RAND's public policy mission, are of prime importance but may not be top-of-mind in the United States, and can have substantial impact.

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RAND Arabic Language Website

Young entrepreneurs work on their laptops at the Amman-based Oasis 500, photo by Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

RAND's Arabic-language website provides an overview of recent and past RAND work in the Middle East, as well as other research that is relevant to the region. Find Arabic reports on health, education, political transitions, and more.

Visit the site »

The RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy brings together analytic excellence and regional expertise from across the RAND Corporation to address the most critical political, social, and economic challenges facing the Middle East today. Our goal is to inform policy in ways that help improve the security and well-being of people living in the region.

Visit our website | See our work in Arabic

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