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WANA, FES launch second book on regional challenges

By Andrea López-Tomàs - Apr 19,2018 - Last updated at Apr 19,2018

AMMAN — A book highlighting the main challenges faced by Jordan and the WANA region was launched on Thursday by the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Institute and Friedrich-Ebert-Stitfung (FES), under the patronage of HRH Prince Hassan.

“A Region in Motion: Reflections from West Asia-North Africa” gathers a selection of articles produced by several researchers of WANA Institute through 2017.

 Commenting at the book launch Minister of Social Development Hala Lattouf said: “The challenges facing Jordan and the WANA region should not be considered in isolation as local governance challenges are intertwined with geopolitical challenges.”

Following the presentation of a range of challenges stemming from the regional instability, authors outlined a set of recommendations and possible solutions addressed to policy makers. 

“Never before has it been more important to look at what is happening in the present and understand it to better prevent it in the future,” said WANA Institute’s Director Erica Harper. 

Issues covered in the book include the rise of violent extremism, the role of civil society, the Syrian refugee crisis, women empowerment in rural areas or climate change, among others. 

For Lara Nassar, a senior WANA researcher in sustainable development, the aim of the research was “to try to bridge the gap between local communities and the government”.  

The authors’ work was based on extensive conversations with members of the civil society, local NGOs and think tanks, with the aim of compiling evidence based data from the region on various topics. 

One of the main challenges encountered by the researchers was to analyse the spread of violent extremism threat, according to the authors, who also provided a set of recommendations to prevent the rise of Jordanians joining armed groups. 

“The Jordanian youth should be part of the political process and should be represented in different government platforms,” said Mahmoud Nabulsi, team leader of the civil society branch of WANA Institute, adding “we should have a governmental programme aimed at graduates who usually have to wait for a couple of years before getting a job due to the high rates of unemployment, leaving them to become prey to armed groups.”

Nabulsi called on policy makers present at the launch to create policies addressed to youngsters.

 The WANA team also highlighted the differences between governorates in Jordan, especially in terms of gender issues and socioeconomic situations. 

“We discovered that Maan, Al Salt and Irbid are pockets of violent extremism,” said Neven Bondokji, team leader of countering violent extremism at WANA Institute. 

Funded by FES Jordan and Iraq, the research will have a “positive impact” on neighbouring countries’ researchers, according to FES Iraq resident director Tim Petschulat, who said “The understanding of the Jordanian society will help us to better collaborate with them on regional issues as this work is based on knowledge from the region by the region.” 

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