Land Reform and Development in the Middle East: A Study of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq

Land Reform and Development in the Middle East: A Study of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq

Land Reform and Development in the Middle East: A Study of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq

Land Reform and Development in the Middle East: A Study of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq

Excerpt

Poverty still exists in the Middle Eastern countries. But its setting has changed. In Egypt there has been a political revolution and an agrarian reform. In Syria the prairie provinces have been opened up by mechanized farming. In Iraq, the poorest and most primitive of the three countries, new capital has been used to build the long needed flood-control and irrigation works on the Tigris and the Euphrates.

These are great changes, each in its way a revolution. They transform the situation of ten years ago, when the economy seemed static and the social structure paralysed. None of them wipe out rural poverty. But agrarian reform, capital, enterprise, and technical change can all contribute towards raising the general standard of living. Because these elements are now present, the abolition of poverty is within the bounds of possibility, as ten years ago it was not.

Each country has undergone a different type of change, with a different dynamic. Syria has deployed its enterprise, and owes the rapid increase in national income over recent years principally to new crops, new machines, and new risk-taking. In Iraq money floods the economic scene, and flows into long-term investment in capital construction. Only in Egypt is the dynamic conscious and purposive, making a direct attack on rural poverty through the redistribution of income.

It is not the purpose of this book to analyse these different mainsprings as if they offered comparable or even rival methods of vanquishing rural poverty. The discussion of the problems of 'underdevelopment' -- i.e. of raising the general living standard in poor countries -- has advanced beyond the point when any remedy could be advocated in terms of a single 'solution'. Nor is it intended to discuss the merits of political revolution, laisser-faire, or engineers' planning in the abstract. On the contrary, a case for each as the highest priority can be made in the context of the conditions of the country concerned. Egypt . . .

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