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"Rural Development, Food Security and Political Stability in Iraq"

Final Report Summary - RUDEFOPOS-IRAQ (Rural Development, Food Security and Political Stability in Iraq)

The project RUDEFOPOS-IRAQ deals with “Rural Development, Food Security and Political Stability in Iraq.” In an historic part it analyzes the UN embargo against Iraq and the Oil for Food program of the 1990s based on Iraqi sources.

During the first two years of the project period secondary literature and grey material was studied and the research plan was specified. Archival research was undertaken at the Conflicts Record Research Center (CRRC) at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. the Iraqi Subject Collection at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, at the Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University and at the Documentation and Research Center Iraq (DARCI) at the University of Marburg.

Because of the security situation the initial plan to conduct a household survey in Central Iraq did not prove possible. Instead, an online survey about Iraqi food security challenges was conducted among Iraqi experts and academics as well as expatriates who work in Iraq on food security and broader development issues. Field research focused on the relatively safe Kurdistan region of North Iraq and comprised collection of unpublished material, grey literature and interviews with decision makers, experts and academics. With the help of Hadi Jaafar of the American University of Beirut, satellite imagery was analyzed for an article about agriculture in Syria and Iraq after ISIS.

For the survey a questionnaire was designed with the help of the Research and Expertise Centre for Survey Methodology (RECSM) at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. Support for the distribution of the survey to individuals of the target group (experts and academics) was enlisted from the Center of Iraq Studies (CIS) at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, the USAID, the EU representations in Iraq, the German embassy and various other institutions an individuals.

Seven articles that relate to the project were published in peer-reviewed journals; another one is ready to be published, pending acceptance after revision:

a) One article in Third World Quarterly was about the mining industry in the MENA and also dealt with Iraq’s phosphate reserves
b) An article in Global Environment critically questioned neo-Malthusian narratives about connections between environmental stress factors and conflict in the MENA
c) An article in Food Security with Martin Keulertz discussed MENA Food Imports from Tropical Countries. It was the introduction for a special section in the journal that was edited by the author
d) An article about agricultural development in the MENA in the wake of the Arab Spring was published in a special issue on the Arab spring in International Development Policy
e) An article with Hadi Jaafar discussed how ISIS used agriculture as a funding source by analyzing satellite imagery
f) An article on food security in Iraq analyzed quantitative and qualitative surveys and was published in Food Security
g) An article on agriculture and development in West Asia that will be published in the Oxford Handbook on Water, Food, and Society
h) An article on Iraq under the UN embargo (1990-2003) and the role of food security and agriculture for regime survival analyzes related strategic views of the Saddam Hussein regime based on original Iraqi sources. It has undergone revision and would be published in the Middle East Journal, pending acceptance

Besides, other articles that dealt with broader MENA food security and development issues but were not immediately tied to the project were published in the International Journal of Water Resources Development, International Development Policy, Food Security and edited volumes like Middle East Food Security (Hurst, Oxford University Press 2014) and the Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy (2016). In 2015 the researcher also published a paperback version of his book Oil for Food (Oxford University Press 2013) with an updated preface. The researcher is currently co-editing a book with Rami Zurayk and Rachel Bahn on Crisis And Conflict In Agriculture that will be published in 2018 with CABI.

A CIDOB policy brief “How Long will ISIS Last Economically?” was widely picked up in the media by BBC, CNBC, Die Zeit, Slate Magazine and others. The article with Hadi Jaafar in Food Policy on how ISIS used agriculture as a funding source was highlighted by the authors in an op-ed in the Washington Post. Media that picked up the article included the Scientific American, Al-Arabiya and Syria Deeply.

Other outreach activities included speaking engagements, the teaching of courses about energy and food security at the Barcelona Center for International Studies (IBEI) and the American University in Beirut, op-eds and a report about MENA food security for the Union for the Mediterranean in Barcelona. The Hoover Institution at Stanford University invited the researcher to its workshop on totalitarian regimes in 2016 and the American Council on Germany organized a lecture tour of the researcher in spring 2017. As scientific advisor the researcher has collaborated with the Kuwait Chair at Sciences Po in Paris, where he organized a conference on agriculture and conflict in 2017.

Thanks to the Marie Curie grant the researcher was able to sharpen his profile as an international expert on MENA food security. He is now a fully integrated member of CIDOB, the host institution, with an open-ended contract. He serves as research coordinator of CIDOB and is closely involved in research issues that go beyond his immediate area of specialization.