This article by Hadi Fathallah for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers interesting insights on the current food security situation in Iraq, based on reports by international organizations like the World Food Programme, Arabic and western press reports.
The wheat harvest in ISIS controlled territory has declined, in contrast to civil servant salaries, producer subsidies from the central government in Baghdad do not reach ISIS territory anymore. The government has not budgeted funds for procurement of wheat from ISIS areas in its 2015 budget. The coverage of the Public Distribution System for refugees in non-ISIS territory is limited.
Food imports will need to increase at a time when oil prices have declined and more spending is directed towards military and security issues. The food security situation in Iraq is about to get more critical.
The report The Impact of Food Price Volatility and Food Inflation on Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries that CIDOB did in October 2014 for the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), can be downloaded here.
Like our earlier article in Footnote1 it argues that water scarcity and climate change are serious issues, but that primary reasons for unrest in the Middle East can be found in its political economy.
The climate and water war narratives might be intuitively appealing but they are not convincing in comparison. The environment is not an external category that would transform itself mechanically into sociopolitical outcomes.
I would expect more of this kind of investment rather than the widely publicized land investments in food insecure developing countries that have made media headlines, but have often not been implemented.
Martin Keulertz and I are dealing with the aspect of food trading companies and value chain investments in a forthcoming article in the fall issue of International Development Policy.
The main thesis of my policy brief in October “How Long Will ISIS Last Economically” has been increasingly picked up in the media and think tank papers, i.e. that the ISIS economy is a “Ponzi scheme of looting” and far from self-sustaining.
Below you find a list of media articles that expand on this theme and have quoted my policy brief:
The Water–Energy–Food (WEF) nexus is a development challenge in the Arab world,
particularly in the ‘core nexus countries’ with low to mid-incomes in which limited
water endowments permit agricultural production, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia,
Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan and Jordan. The WEF nexus is often conceptualized in mere
technocratic terms, yet politics matter in the implementation of projects that address it.
Internalizing hydrological externalities or leaving them as they are and financing them
as a public good requires states whose capacities have been reduced as a result of
neoliberal reform. The article explores five different pathways of how Arab countries
could finance green growth projects ranging from regional financial markets to
concessionary loans by funds from oil rich Gulf countries.
Food Import Needs of the Middle East and North Africa, Ecological Risks and New Dimensions of South-South Cooperation with Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia
Barcelona, 29-30 January 2015
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is one of the most water-stressed regions in the world and its largest net-importer of cereals. Affordable food imports are crucial for its future food security. Countries with tropical agriculture like Brazil are playing an increasing role in MENA food supplies. Apart from policy options to sustainably intensify regional agricultural production, trade will play a crucial role for MENA economies to achieve food security.
Given the environmental value and sensitivity of tropical ecosystems sustainable intensification in countries like Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia is crucial. For this reason, King’s College London (KCL), the OCP Policy Center, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), the Getulyo Vargas Foundation and Wageningen University organized a conference on “Tropical Agriculture as ‘Last Frontier’? Food Import Needs of the Middle East and North Africa, Ecological Risks and New Dimensions of South-South Cooperation with Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia”.
The conference was held on 29-30 January 2015 at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs (CIDOB). It provided an interdisciplinary perspective on how …. (for more)
The Die Zeit feature in fact points out that hostage taking has increasingly targeted the local population. Prices for local hostages ($20k-50k) are considerably below those for western hostages ($3-5mn).