Introduction:Arab populations have many similarities and dissimilarities. They share culture, language and religion but they are also subject to economic, political and social differences. The purpose of this study is to understand the causes of the rising trend of diabetes prevalence in order to suggest efficient actions susceptible to reduce the burden of diabetes in the Arab world.Method:We use principal component analysis to illustrate similarities and differences between Arab countries according to four variables: 1) the prevalence of diabetes, 2) impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), 3) diabetes related deaths and 4) diabetes related expenditure per person. A linear regression is also used to study the correlation between human development index and diabetes prevalence.Results:Arab countries are mainly classified into three groups according to the diabetes comparative prevalence (high, medium and low) but other differences are seen in terms of diabetes-related mortality and diabetes related expenditure per person. We also investigate the correlation between the human development index (HDI) and diabetes comparative prevalence (R = 0.81).Conclusion:The alarming rising trend of diabetes prevalence in the Arab region constitutes a real challenge for heath decision makers. In order to alleviate the burden of diabetes, preventive strategies are needed, based essentially on sensitization for a more healthy diet with regular exercise but health authorities are also asked to provide populations with heath- care and early diagnosis to avoid the high burden caused by complications of diabetes.
Few observers would have predicted the dramatic changes over the past few months in the Arab world. Arab governments appeared to be in tight control, and many Arab economies were growing around or above the world average over the past few years. Annual growth rates in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, and Sudan averaged more than 6 percent between 2005 and 2010; and Syria, Tunisia, and Libya grew at about 5 percent on average during the same period of time. Official poverty rates in most Arab countries are lower than in many Asian and Latin American countries.However, experts have long identified slow progress in economic diversification and job creation, social inequalities, and persistent food insecurity as major development challenges for Arab countries. Did these factors and, more broadly, people’s dissatisfaction with their living standards contribute to the recent uprisings? At first glance, the sudden turn of events and the generally low coverage, quality, and accessibility of data in the Arab world make it difficult to find answers to this question. By looking beyond more conventional data, however, this policy brief provides some insights into the potential role of economics in the ongoing uprisings. It also reviews major policy responses of Arab governments and provides a new narrative of Arab development that is based on inclusive economic transformation, food security, and decisionmaking.
Political Transition in Tunisia (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)
On January 14, 2011, Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled the country after weeks of mounting anti-government protests. Tunisia’s mass popular uprising, dubbed the “Jasmine Revolution,” sparked anti-government movements in other countries across the region. Ben Ali’s departure was greeted by widespread euphoria within Tunisia. Yet disputes over reform priorities, economic crisis, labor unrest, tensions between the privileged coastal region and relatively impoverished interior, and lingering insecurity are continuing challenges. The humanitarian and security impact of events in neighboring Libya present additional difficulties.
National elections were held on October 23 to select a National Constituent Assembly. The Assembly has put in place a transitional government and is expected to draft a new constitution, ahead of new elections that have yet to be scheduled. Thousands of candidates competed for seats in the Assembly, but the outcome showed popular support to be primarily focused on a handful of political parties. Harakat al Nahda (alt: Ennahda/An-Nahda), a moderate Islamist party, won 41% of the seats, and has formed a governing coalition with two center-left secular parties, the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and the Democratic Forum of Labor and Liberties (FDTL/Ettakatol). Certain aspects of the Assembly’s mandate, duration, and internal structure are still to be determined.
Prior to January 2011, Ben Ali and his Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party exerted near-total control over parliament, state and local governments, and most political activity. Tunisia cultivated strong ties with France and the European Union, its largest trading partner, and with the United States. Despite many political and economic characteristics shared across the region, Tunisia exhibits a number of unique attributes: a relatively small territory, a sizable and well educated middle class, and a long history of encouraging women’s socioeconomic freedoms. Some policymakers view these factors as advantageous, and Tunisia as a potential “test case” for democratic transitions in the region.
Tunisia’s transition raises a wide range of questions for the future of the country and the region. These pertain to the struggle between reformists and entrenched forces carried over from the former regime; the potential shape of the new political order; the role and influence of Islamism in the government and society; the question of how to transform the formerly repressive security services; and the difficult diplomatic balance—for the United States and other actors—of encouraging greater democratic openness while not undermining other foreign policy priorities.
Congress authorizes and appropriates foreign assistance funding and oversees U.S. foreign policy toward Tunisia and the wider region. U.S.-Tunisian relations were, prior to 2011, highly focused on military assistance and counterterrorism. The Obama Administration has allocated roughly $42 million in non-military “transition assistance,” along with a range of additional efforts aimed at encouraging private sector investment and deepening U.S.-Tunisia relations. International financial institutions, which receive significant U.S. monetary support, and the G8 have also pledged aid for Tunisia. Some Members of Congress argue that additional bilateral aid should be allocated for democracy promotion and economic recovery in Tunisia, while others contend that budgetary cuts take precedence over new aid programs, or that economic stabilization may be best addressed by the private sector or by other donors. Related legislation includes H.R. 2055, S. 618/ H.R. 2237, S. 1388, and S.Res. 316.
State Department Background Note: Tunisia
Source: U.S. Department of State
Official Name: Tunisian Republic
Location: North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya.
Area: 163,610 sq. km. (63,378 sq. mi.), slightly smaller than Missouri.
Cities: Capital–Tunis; Sfax, Bizerte, Sousse, Nabeul.
Terrain: Arable land in north and along central coast; south is mostly semiarid or desert.
Climate: Hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters.
Land use: Arable land–17.05%; permanent crops–13.08%; other–69.87%.
Commission proposes better management of migration to the EU
Source: European Commission
Today, the Commission presented initiatives for a more structured, comprehensive, rapid-response approach from the EU to the challenges and opportunities of migration, not least in view of the current developments in the Mediterranean. The initiatives cover various aspects of migration, including strengthened border control and Schengen governance, completion of the Common European Asylum System, more targeted legal migration, exchange of best practices for successful integration of migrants, and a strategic approach for relations with third countries on migration. These initiatives come in addition to the urgent short-term measures already taken by the Commission to deal with the migration situation in the Mediterranean and migration pressures on frontline Member States.
“It is clear that the EU needs a strong common asylum and migration policy. This has only become more evident in recent months, in view of the historic events taking place in North Africa. The EU must live up to its vocation to offer a haven to those in need of protection, and at the same time show solidarity both with the countries in North Africa which are currently sheltering the vast bulk of the migrants from Libya, as well as with those of our Member States faced with the greatest influx of migrants arriving by sea. It is also clear that the EU would benefit from some targeted labour immigration in order to help address expected labour shortages in many sectors, and to redress the projected decline in Europe’s working age population in the coming years. But migration must at the same time be properly managed – this means ensuring effective border control and the return of irregular migrants. This also means that we should not leave it only up to the Member States at our external borders to deal with extraordinary migratory situations. And this means setting up migration and mobility partnerships with non-EU countries so that we can work together. We must keep these long-term goals in mind also when dealing with the more urgent needs resulting from the turbulence in North Africa”, said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner responsible for Home Affairs.
+ Frequently Asked Questions: Addressing the Migratory Crisis
+ The European Commission’s response to the migratory flows from North Africa (8 April 2011)
+ Travelling without borders: Commission proposes stronger monitoring of respect of Schengen rules (16 November 2010)
Country Specific Information: Tunisia
Source: U.S. Department of State
Tunisia is a presidential republic with a developing economy. Tourist facilities are widely available in large urban and major resort areas. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Tunisia for additional information.
Political Transition in Tunisia (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Tunisia has undergone a major political upheaval in recent weeks, dubbed the “Jasmine Revolution.” On January 14, 2011, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country after several weeks of increasingly audacious anti-government protests. The speaker of parliament, Fouad Mebazaa, has since assumed the role of interim president, and an interim government has been formed ahead of elections expected in six months. However, the stability of the government and the broader impact of recent developments is difficult to predict. The Tunisia uprising appears to have added momentum to latent anti-government and pro-reform sentiment in Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, and other countries, and has sparked international concern over stability in a region long associated with seemingly secure, autocratic, pro-U.S. regimes.
Prior to the December-January protests, Tunisia had been seen as a stable, albeit autocratic country since its independence from France in 1956. Ben Ali, in power since 1987, was elected for a fifth term in October 2009 in an election widely seen as flawed and boycotted by leading opposition parties. His Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party exerted near-total control over parliament, state and local governments, and most political activity. The government cultivated strong ties with France and the European Union, its largest trading partner, as well as with the United States. Despite many political and economic characteristics shared across the region, Tunisia exhibits a number of unique attributes: it has a relatively small territory, a large and highly educated middle class, and a long history of encouraging women’s socio-economic freedoms. Tunisia’s Islamist movement has not played a leading role in the expression of domestic dissent in recent years, although it did in the 1980s before it was banned by Ben Ali.
The unexpected and rapid transition in Tunisia raises a wide range of questions for the future of the country and the region. These pertain to the struggle between reformists and entrenched forces carried over from the former regime; the potential shape of the new political order; the potential future role of Islamist and/or radical movements in the government and society; the role of the military as an emerging political power-broker; and the difficult diplomatic balance—for the United States and other actors—of encouraging greater democratic openness while not undermining other foreign policy priorities. Congress may play a role in developments through its foreign assistance policies and oversight of U.S.-Tunisia relations, and of broader U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
U.S. officials, who grew increasingly critical of the government in the days prior to Ben Ali’s departure, have since stated their support for political transition and called for free and fair elections. U.S.-Tunisian relations largely emphasize military and counterterrorism cooperation, although Tunisia has pushed for a greater focus on trade. The United States is Tunisia’s primary supplier of military equipment, which is provided through both direct sales and grants, and a large number of Tunisian military officers have received U.S. training. Congress has been supportive of security assistance programs in Tunisia, directing the State Department in FY2009 and FY2010 to allocate levels of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) that surpassed budget requests by the executive branch.
For analysis of the potential impact of Tunisia’s uprising on Egypt, see CRS Report RL33003, Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jeremy M. Sharp.