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The Arab Spring and World Food Prices

The Arab Spring and World Food Prices

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Climate change is inextricably linked to national security. The effects of climate change – drought, severe storms, flooding, reduced agricultural activity – will present serious problems to countries around the world. In particular, climate change will undermine stability in certain “hot spots,” exacerbating underlying tensions that already exist.

ASP’s Policy Brief, “The Arab Spring and World Food Prices,” details this link. The Arab Spring represents merely one example of what climate change may look like in the future. Climate change can undermine states with existing tensions and fragile social contracts. Andrew Holland explains the connection between rising world food prices due to climate change, and the spark that set off The Arab Spring.
Climate change is inextricably linked to national security. The effects of climate change – drought, severe storms, flooding, reduced agricultural activity – will present serious problems to countries around the world. In particular, climate change will undermine stability in certain “hot spots,” exacerbating underlying tensions that already exist.

ASP’s Policy Brief, “The Arab Spring and World Food Prices,” details this link. The Arab Spring represents merely one example of what climate change may look like in the future. Climate change can undermine states with existing tensions and fragile social contracts. Andrew Holland explains the connection between rising world food prices due to climate change, and the spark that set off The Arab Spring.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: The American Security Project on Oct 26, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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www.AmericanSecurityProject.org1100 New York Avenue, NW Suite 710W Washington, DC
Te Arab Spring and WorldFood Prices
 Andrew HollandNovember 2012
One o the most important events over the past decadehas been the Arab Spring o 2011 that brought downdictators in unisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, andcontinues to reverberate through the region. Although the proximate cause o the unrest was thesel-immolation o Mohamed Bouazizi, a ruit vendorin unisia, empirical evidence indicates that a spike inlocal ood prices across the Arab world was responsibleor setting the stage.
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Over the last two decades, there is a strong evidencethat ood price increases have led to increased politicalunrest.
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 By late 2010, global ood prices had increased by 40%over the year, largely due to drought and wildre ingrain exporting regions o Russia and Eastern Europe,as well as by unprecedented foods in grain-importing Pakistan. Although ew o the protesters in ahrir Square orghting in Benghazi would have said that they wereghting because o ood prices, the empirical evidenceshows that high prices made riots much more likely.Syria is the most extreme example o how drought andood prices combined to oment unrest.Te ve years preceding the beginning o the unrestin the Spring o 2011 (2006-2010) saw a droughtunparalleled in both length and severity in recentSyrian history.
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 AmericAn security project
Since at least 1900 (when modern recordkeeping began), droughts had only lasted one or two years at most.Tis drought caused an unprecedented mass migration o 1.5 million people rom rural areas to urban centers.Te severity o the drought was increased by the inability o the Assad regime to prepare or or adapt to theextreme conditions.For decades, the Assad regime – both ather and son – had ignored water conservation issues and agriculturein general.
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When the drought destroyed arming communities, it sent new migrants to the cities – mosto which were not rom the ruling Alawite minority. Tis placed great strain on urban populations, andexacerbated ethnic and religious strie. Tis strain is evident in the ongoing confict within Syria.------------------
 Andrew Holland is the Senior Fellow for Energy and Climate at the American Security Project 
with assistance from ASP Adjunct Junior Fellow Yong Wang 
Read more on the national security implications o climate change intheClimate Security Report
 
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Endnotes
1. Bellemare, Marc F., Rising Food Prices, Food Price Volatility, and Political Unrest (June 28, 2011). Available at SSRN:http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1874101(accessed September 15, 2012).2. M. Lagi, K.Z. Bertrand, Y. Bar-Yam, Te Food Crises and Political Instability in North Arica and the Middle East. arXiv: 1108.2455, August 10, 2011.http://necsi.edu/research/social/oodcrises.html(accessed September 15, 2012).3. Mohtadi, Shahrzad, Bulliten o the Atomic Scientists, “Climate change and the Syrian uprising” August 16, 2012.http://thebulletin.org/ web-edition/eatures/climate-change-and-the-syrian-uprising (accessed September 15, 2012).4. Francesco Femia & Caitlin Werrell, “Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest.” Te Center or Climate and Security, Febru-ary 29, 2012.http://climateandsecurity.org/2012/02/29/syria-climate-change-drought-and-social-unrest/(accessed September 15, 2012).

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