Middle East

Tarek Masoud Reflects on the Arab Spring Ten Years Later

Ash: Ten years after mass protests ignited the Arab Spring, only Tunisia has the trappings of a stable democracy. Elsewhere we've seen a succession of coups and failed states, coupled with an ascendant authoritarianism in some parts of the region. Yet you remain positive on the long-term prospects of democracy in the Middle East. Why?
 
Masoud: I remain upbeat about the prospects for participatory government in the Arab world. That said, the Arab world is fairly diverse, so I wouldn’t want to make a blanket statement that...
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Fernando Monge, Jorrit de Jong, and Warren Dent; May 2020 

In the fall of 2016, the state government of the United Arab Emirates decided to take a new approach to spur floundering projects toward faster results.

Frustrated with slow progress on key issues like public health and traffic safety, the state launched a new program to accelerate change and enhance performance across government agencies. The innovative program, called Government Accelerators, ran 100-day challenges—intense periods of action where “acceleration” teams of frontline staff worked across agency boundaries to tackle pressing problems. This case illustrates how three teams were chosen to participate in the program, and how, in the 100-day timeframe, they worked toward clear and ambitious goals that would impact citizens’ lives.

The case aims to raise discussion about different types of public sector innovation, to explain the approach and methodology of the Government Accelerators, and to analyze the conditions under which a similar tool might work in other cities.

Thanks to a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, no permission is required to teach with, download, or make copies of this case.

Edited by David Eaves, October 2019

In this report, experts analyze the Council of Arab Economic Unity's comprehensive digital strategy for the Arab region. While some countries have individually launched digital economy roadmaps in recent years, the Arab Digital Economy Strategy offers a new opportunity to consider the benefits and challenges of digital cooperation across countries. Specifically, this report details areas of concern and explores some potential resolutions to these challenges.

Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative

The Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative is a joint initiative of the Harvard Divinity School's Religious Literacy Project and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School. This groundbreaking new four-year initiative includes a robust program of research, coursework, internships, professional collaboration, and programming to engage the roles religions...

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Throughout the summer of 2010, Pakistan experienced severe flooding that overtook a large portion of the country, displacing millions of people, causing extensive physical damage, and resulting in significant economic losses. This case focuses on the role of the National Guard (and of the U.S. military, more broadly) in the international relief effort that unfolded alongside that of Pakistan’s government and military. In particular it highlights how various Guard and U.S. military assets that had been deployed to Afghanistan as part of the war there were reassigned to support the U.S.’s flood relief efforts in Pakistan, revealing the successes and challenges of transitioning from a war-footing to disaster response. In exploring how Guard leaders partnered with counterparts from other components of the U.S. government, Pakistani officials, and members of the international humanitarian community, the case also examines how they navigated a set of difficult civilian-military dynamics during a particularly tense period in U.S.-Pakistan relations.

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The Arab Spring
Brownlee, Jason, Tarek Masoud, and Andrew Reynolds. 2015. The Arab Spring . Oxford University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract
Several years after the Arab Spring began, democracy remains elusive in the Middle East. The Arab Spring that resides in the popular imagination is one in which a wave of mass mobilization swept the broader Middle East, toppled dictators, and cleared the way for democracy. The reality is that few Arab countries have experienced anything of the sort. While Tunisia made progress towards some type of constitutionally entrenched participatory rule, the other countries that overthrew their rulers, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya remain mired in authoritarianism and instability. Elsewhere in the Arab world uprisings were suppressed, subsided, or never materialized. The Arab Spring's modest harvest cries out for explanation. Why did regime change take place in only four Arab countries and why has democratic change proved so elusive in the countries that made attempts? This book attempts to answer those questions. First, by accounting for the full range of variance: from the absence or failure of uprisings in such places as Algeria and Saudi Arabia at one end, to Tunisia's rocky but hopeful transition at the other. Second, by examining the deep historical and structure variables that determined the balance of power between incumbents and opposition. Brownlee, Masoud, and Reynolds find that the success of domestic uprisings depended on the absence of a hereditary executive and a dearth of oil rents. Structural factors also cast a shadow over the transition process. Even when opposition forces toppled dictators, prior levels of socioeconomic development and state strength shaped whether nascent democracy, resurgent authoritarianism, or unbridled civil war would follow.