Strategic challenges for Australia in the Middle East region

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Agricultural reforms differed across borders: Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia implemented far-reaching macroeconomic and sectoral reforms, while Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Syria continued with the state in the preeminent economic role. In low-and middle-income countries, the report says, labor productivity in agriculture has continued to fall behind that of other sectors, indicating that the process of structural transformation has not been smooth.

This further exacerbates the wealth gap, particularly between rural and urban populations, and demonstrates the ineffectiveness of expensive policies focused on subsidies, which have failed to deliver the needed productivity increase. A few broad policy strategies may improve the efficiency and productivity of agriculture in the MENA region, the researchers found: Reducing protection on staple crops for which the region has no comparative advantage; abandoning policies targeting self-sufficiency of staple crops, while giving priority to demand factors related to food security, like income and health; stimulating technological change and establishing policies and institutions to use water more efficiently through irrigation; and deregulating labor markets to make labor allocation and investment more efficient.

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At the same time, policies must be tailored to individual nations and populations. Development strategies built on these recommendations should contribute to diversification of output and result in more efficient water and land use, the study says, while making labor more productive and better distributing wealth. Water usage is likely to emerge as an increasingly large threat to those living in the region, as 15 MENA countries already face extremely high levels of baseline water stress.

Failure to incentivize more efficient water use may bring dire economic and environmental consequences. Australia has about 2, military personnel deployed on operations. These include:.

Strategic challenges for Australia in the Middle East region

Australia has a defence force of about 60, full-time uniformed personnel and 25, in the reserves. This also means the operational tempo of border protection or any of the other ongoing operations is not expected to decrease as a result of this commitment. Some of these elements, notably Operation Manitou, will perform more than one role. Operation Manitou is the Royal Australian Navy commitment of one warship to the Combined Maritime Forces with 32 participant nations that operate in and around the Persian Gulf.

Australian warships have been doing this on rotation for the best part of 30 years.

The extra defence planning personnel announced likely will be drawn from a pool already assigned to support Australian operations, notably attached to US military headquarters semi-permanently based in and around the Gulf. It appears pressure from the United States as well as Britain has convinced the government of the importance of making a contribution.

Important Alliances and Bilateral Relations in the Middle East

To be fair, it is not a token contribution. The warship and P8 are capable platforms that have made a tangible difference in the past in countering piracy, smuggling and related security concerns in the Persian Gulf. So, while not a token contribution in one sense, it is not a significantly onerous addition to what Australia has been contributing there for a long time. But despite the deal with Ankara, stability, and thus Russian withdrawal, will be harder to achieve.

Not only is resolution in the north-east far from assured, the northwest, where Idlib remains in jihadist hands, presents an equally complicated Gordian knot.

John T. Watts - Atlantic Council

Moreover, the reconstruction that would make peace sustainable requires resources beyond the means of Syria and Russia. International help and support might be more forthcoming if the YPG get a better deal and Idlib is resolved without a bloodbath, but Assad and Moscow will balk at demands for a political transition.

Why is the Middle East so important? - Learn Geography, Resources & Strategic Importance

But by filling the vacuum left by the US, it has had to take on far more responsibility than it may have expected or sought. To date it has managed well, but with few easy choices ahead and Syria in its current state, this may not be an enviable prize. Topics Russia Opinion.

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