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Economic Warfare in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Sanctions and Socio-Political Coalitions

Monday February 3, 2020, at 13:30
Room 24.120 (First floor). Mercè Rodoreda 24 building
Research seminar

Eckart Woertz (GIGA-IMES & IBEI)

Compared to its share of the world’s population the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) accounts for percentages of global combat deaths, terrorist attacks, and refugees five to 11 times over.  The underlying conflicts have economic aspects, too. The region has seen a large array of international and intra-regional sanctions and blockades. State funds and geo-economic strategies have been used to strengthen the resilience of authoritarian states. The MENA’s endowment with oil rents and strategic location along trade routes has engendered particular development models. The region’s states have seen their autonomy in economic decision-making challenged by compromised sovereignty in areas of limited statehood, where (violent) non-state actors command extractive capacities in a certain territory or economic sector. The respective states in turn integrate economic strategies in counterinsurgencies and efforts to re-assert control. Economic warfare is rampant in the MENA yet contextual knowledge of how it affects the political economies of its states, their international relations, and the socio-political coalitions that carry them is often missing, not based on local sources and perceptions, and insufficiently theorized. The talk uses the UN embargo against Iraq (1990-2003) as a case study and discusses how Comparative Area Studies (CAS) can provide necessary correctives to the narratives of large n-studies that focus on sending countries and their sanction instruments.

Eckart Woertz is director of the Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES) at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg and Professor for contemporary history and politics of the Middle East at the University of Hamburg. He is author of Oil for Food (Oxford University Press 2013), co-editor of the Water-Energy Food Nexus in the Middle East and North Africa (Routledge 2016) and editor of GCC Financial Markets (Gerlach Press 2012). Besides academic publications he has contributed to numerous consultancy and policy reports for clients in the Middle East and at international organizations. Previously he held positions at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), Sciences Po in Paris, Princeton University and the Gulf Research Center in Dubai and worked for banks in Germany and the United Arab Emirates in equity and fixed income trading.