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Behind the Arab Spring: New Predications in 2020

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To a certain extent, the Arab-Middle East experts, and politicians are truly aware of popular Arab uprisings and circumstances in making new interpretations analysis. After the “Arab Spring ”, now holds the term “Arab-trap”. The International society acknowledges that Arab public protestations have extended source of social changes in current days to several Arab states like Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, mostly ten months after they broke out in Sudan and Algeria.

Currently, Iran, which has a strong implication of the convergence of inner and external political factors. When the invoke of public uprisings diffuses to sixty percent of cities, the Iranian government expedient to use force, coercion, and imprisonment, restricting internet accesses, and distending the conspiracy theory. The Iranian government appears to be in a state of intensive upheaval and anxiety after groups of police forces seized the University of Tehran and captured fifty students without any reason. Yet, Amnesty International convicted the killing of at least 100 protesters due to the irresponsible behavior of the police forces. The paradox is that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls demonstrators to provide video recordings as evidence of the crackdown from Iranian forces, and promises that the United States will “reveal those illegal violations and punish those responsible.”

In this case, the spokesman for the Revolutionary Guards states that several leaders of the demonstrations have “dual citizenship”. Rather, the semi-official Fars News Agency went to mention that whoever flamed to some shops in the purlieus of Tehran gains $ 60 for every firing place. Contrarily, President Rouhani is trying to drop the scope of maintaining order and stability to an upheaval situation, and he declares that the Iranian government eradicated what he analyzed as instigating overseas countries. Thought, this is a reaction that simulates what the Mubarak regime did during the demonstration of the situation in Tahrir Square in January 2011, but there are significant implications of the solidity of the Iranian demonstrations, as the spokesman of Shiraz districts pointed out that conflicts between the Iranian forces and demonstrators were fuming, and that the main access transportation infrastructure was stopped in four important provinces.

At the conclusion of their boiling and societal dissatisfaction over the political elite of its conservatives and liberalistic in Tehran, more than it was during the uprisings of summer 2009, and also the crisis’s of 2018; and if the discontent implications continue to increase between the high cost of fuel and other daily life materials, the increase in the unemployment rate, the failure of public governmental policies, and the fall in the performance of the religious speech, in widening the gap between the state and society, additionally the state of promise over Iran’s reopening to the West after President Trump’s decentralization from the nuclear agreement, the failure of French mediation and the Japanese accepted it.

Accordingly, the situation in Iraq and Lebanon is not very different from the Iranian scenario. We may say that the motives behind the crisis are political and financial corruption for most Iraqi government officials, such as some of them receiving monthly salaries from Tehran, and others were involved in contacts with Washington. During five weeks, more than 200,000 Iraqis took public demonstration against the government in Baghdad, and people of Sadr City, which are more prestigious, joined the uprisings and clashes that knocked off more than 320 citizens, and ended in the injury of more than 15,000 others, according to the statistics of the United Nations Office in Baghdad.

True, The hot circumstances in Lebanon is also the outcome of accumulations of the political, financial irresponsibility and societal mismanagement of politics, whether the public disrepute of Saad Hariri, the prime minister, who dedicated 16 million dollars to one of the fashion foundations of South Africa, or the decline of Hezbollah image because of its support for the Assad regime, the dilemma of sectarianism or the dissimilarities between Shiites and Sunnis orientation and other ideological identity in Lebanon and Iraq.

There is a cliché that existed among Arab Middle East Scholars that the Iranian smuggled the revolution to Iraq within forty years and that Iraq reacted into it in less than forty days. Simply speaking. In such articulated changes in the process of state development, the blaze of demonstrations and uprisings always starts with the depreciation of the cost of living at home when the protesters reach discontent and frustration with the state’s failures socially, economically and politically for its lack of effective social development.

Recently, Some scholars of Security and Middle East issues acknowledged that we observe a changeable interval of state and intrastate conflicts versus the departure of external armed conflicts between states and therefore these conflicts related to the existence and role of the state, in governance, and in social groups and their status within states.

In short, they are societal conflicts against the central government in Iran, as in Iraq and Lebanon, and before them in Algeria and Sudan this year. For instance, there are other states in the Middle East or Maghreb region that coexist with an accumulation of ineffective development policies and an enhance in citizens’ dissatisfaction, and similar events will appear at the beginning of 2020. The internal social and political predictions in these states no longer work according to the logic of exception of each country separately, or security containment strategy, or moving over the will of the extravagant demonstrations.

Due to what we are seeing in the entire Arab region, with some special case in the Middle East, is the fall of the central state’s efficiency and the susceptibilities of its political capital and legitimacy in the peoples due to its entrenchment within the box of security “solutions”, imprisonment, and punishment of activists like Egypt. These failed policies and inadequate effective solutions of demonstration that struck the governments of power when it was found to be an existential struggle after being challenged by the youth of the demonstrations during the events of 2011. In one word, it is a societal discontent that creates outrageous action in the street on a political elite that stumbled into the square of reaction.

Now the question is why Arab Spring is going to act a “responsible role” in the Arab state’s issue?

Actually, much of the debate on “Arab-trap” or Arab Spring to the third world countries have been misplaced or even wrongly implemented, simply because little or no specific attention has been given to the origin and purpose of Arab people demand regionally.

Some scholars like Mohammed Cherkaoui Professor of International Conflict and Arab Middle East Issue at George Mason University in Washington pointed out that Arab Spring does not consider it as the second wave for three reasons that revolve around the dual context and the outcome of these protest outcomes. First, during 2011 Arab people were calling for reform and change, as its protests covered around the phrase “Leave”, and this “transit” phenomenon became a concept that reflected in 982 cities that seen similar protests across the globe, but main demands did not determine the level of this movement. Most of the protesters interpreted the phrase “The Army and the People… One Hand …!”, And some demonstrators involved in the uprisings not for social change but just to server other politician’s agenda or swift out the Arab Spring rationality of evaluation and planning into proxy conflicts, like the scene of Mubarak’s removal, or the burning of Ali Saleh, and the killing of Qaddafi, and before them Ben Ali fled from Tunisia. And behind all these “Arab Trap” incidences, Arabs are going to heal for this historic moment, which is a symbolic wave for meaningful change in Arab countries’ context.

Thus, the problem here is about two basic dilemmas, the first of which is that the Arab street showed activists of heavy committed to change the old regimes and reform political status. Secondly, there were no Arab intellectuals predicting carefully the future of new generation capabilities in changing political status under the so-called ” Smart revolution”, and also are able to hear their voices not regionally but internationally with the help of new technologies such as world web and social media.

This is one of the indications of the historical movement in weaving the supposed linkage between the true relationship between politics and society and the intersection of the path in the intellectual context between society and politics. In a short term, most of the intellectuals were absent-minded in participating for a better change . Frankly speaking, let’s see the scene of Qais Saeed’s victory, carrying hopes of change and reform to the presidential deck in Carthage. Many sought the way towards a Tunisian Enlightenment movement as a model that could be best achieved in whole Arab Maghreb, as well as more than two hundred revolutions that took place during the past two decades invigorated the thought of the lights that carried the torch of Emmanuel Kant and other philosophers of modernity in Germany, before its sound spread to the rest of Europe and the world.

Secondly, this year’s demonstrations are not a continuation of the 2011 world as much as a reformatory movement, and it initiates on overcoming strategic mistakes and traps that 2011 activists did not notice. More than this, the demonstrators in Algeria were keen not to swift along the line that Egypt’s developments followed, both in terms of commitment and consistency for more than forty weeks in the conduct of weekly demonstrations in Algiers, or tactics of negotiating with the Algerian forces or adhering to the formation of a pure civilian government.

Third, the so-called political science writing is no longer the meeting point of  “transitology “that several academics have adapted and adjusts a theoretical framework for what happened between 2011 and 2019. As Mohammed Cherkaoui noted, for instance, Stephen Heinemann’s conviction of a new concept “transformation” as a process of change without focusing on a feature or a form of contextual-democracy. therefore, We are facing an Arab setting in which there is a great deal of political flexibility and an inability to anticipate the outcome of this transformation.

Conclusion. The extension of Arab Spring or “Arab Trap” it appears that Arab youth no longer accept the continued dominance of the corrupted mind and the unchanged of authoritarianism in a variety of contexts, but rather demand reform, and establishing the dignity of social citizenship based on democratic principles, whether at the level of daily living or moral consideration. Yet, Arab people their demands that are in accordance with the passion of all European revolutions from the French Revolution in 1789 until the integration of the civil transformation with the spring of European peoples in 1848 and on the same line in many of the outbreaks and revolts that took place in the past two decades.

Dr. Jamal Ait Laadam, Specialist in North African and Western Sahara Issue, at Jilin University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

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Middle East

Justice delayed is justice denied. I lost my family to Iran Regime’s barbarity

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Mohammad Shafaei’s family- The toddler in his mother’s arm is Mohammad Shafaei

On May 4, over 1,100 families of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Iran wrote a letter to the international community. We called on the United Nations and European and American governments to take immediate action in preventing the regime from further destruction of their loved ones’ graves.

I was one of the signatories. I have lost six of my relatives to the regime’s cruelty. I was seven years old when my parents were arrested for their democratic ideals and activism.

My father, Dr. Morteza Shafaei, was a well-respected and popular physician in Isfahan. He was admired by people because he was extremely compassionate and giving to others. He was brutally executed by the regime in 1981 simply because he sought a democratic future for his family and his compatriots. The mullahs also killed my mother, two brothers, Majid (only 16) and Javad, and one of my sisters, Maryam, along with her husband.

By the age of 8, I had lost my entire family, save for one sister, as a result of the regime’s executions and crimes against humanity.

Mohammad Shafaei

The 1988 massacre stands as one of the most horrendous crimes against humanity after World War II. In the summer of that year, based on a religious decree issued by Khomeini, then-Supreme Leader of the theocratic regime in Iran, tens of thousands of political prisoners were liquidated. Most of the victims belonged to the principal democratic opposition movement Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

It is believed that the regime massacred at least 30,000 political dissidents that year in the span of a few months. This much was confirmed by the designated heir to the regime’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri both in his published memoires and leaked audiotape in 2016, in which he condemned the ongoing crime against humanity in August 1988 during a meeting with high-ranking regime officials.

Those officials continue to serve the regime today in high-ranking positions. Ebrahim Raisi, for example, who was a member of the “death committees” in charge of rounding up and killing the political prisoners, is currently occupying the highly sensitive post of the Judiciary Chief. He is expected to announce his candidacy to run for President during the June election. After the June 2009 uprising, he said, “Moharebeh (waging war on God) is sometimes an organization, like the hypocrites (MEK). Anyone who helps the MEK in any way and under any circumstances, because it is an organized movement, the title of Moharebeh applies.” According the Islamic Punishment Act, the punishment for Moharebeh is death.

For years, the clerical regime has been systematically and gradually destroying the graves of the victims of the 1988 massacre in Tehran and other cities. As the world learns more about the killings and the international outrage grows, Tehran’s mullahs are scrambling to clear all traces of their crimes against humanity.

Most of us have forgotten where exactly our loved ones are buried, many of them in mass graves. The campaign for justice for victims of 1988 has gained greater prominence and broader scope. International human rights organizations and experts have described the massacre as a crime against humanity and called for holding the perpetrators of this heinous crime to account.

Paranoid of the repercussions of international scrutiny into this horrific atrocity, the Iranian regime has embarked on erasing the traces of the evidence on the massacre by destroying the mass graves where they are buried. The regime has tried to destroy the mass graves of massacred political prisoners in Tehran’s Khavaran Cemetery in the latest attempt. Previously, it destroyed or damaged the mass graves of the 1988 victims in Ahvaz, Tabriz, Mashhad, and elsewhere.

These actions constitute the collective torture of thousands of survivors and families of martyrs. It is another manifest case of crime against humanity.  

The UN and international human rights organizations must prevent the regime from destroying the mass graves, eliminating the evidence of their crime, and inflicting psychological torture upon thousands of families of the victims throughout Iran. 

Moreover, the Iranian public and all human rights defenders expect the United Nations, particularly the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet, to launch an international commission of inquiry to investigate the massacre of political prisoners and summon the perpetrators of this heinous crime before the International Court of Justice.

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Middle East

Can Biden Bring Peace to the Middle East?

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Joe Biden
Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

As the fierce fighting between Israel and the Palestinians rages on, the Biden administration’s Middle East policy has been criticized for its relatively aloof, “stand back” approach that has resulted in the absence of any pressure on Israel to re-think its harsh mistreatment of the Palestinians, vividly demonstrated in the recent police attack at al-Aqsa mosque and the attempted eviction of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, viewed by the Palestinians as part of Israel’s “ethnic cleansing.”

Consequently, a UN Security Council draft resolution on the crisis has been reportedly held up by US, which has prioritized the familiar narrative of “Israel’s right to self-defense” ad nauseam, without the benefit any nuances that would reveal any fresh thinking on the problem on the part of the Biden administration.  As in the past, the new crisis in Israel-Palestinian relations has sharpened the loyalties and alliances, in effect binding the US government closer to its Middle East ally under the rainstorm of Palestinian rocket attacks, highlighting Israel’s security vulnerabilities in today’s missile age.  Determined to crush the Palestinian resistance, the mighty Israeli army has been pulverizing Gaza while, simultaneously, declaring state of emergency in the Arab sections of Israel, as if there is a military solution to an inherently political problem.  What Israel may gain from its current military campaign is, by all indications, bound to be elusive of a perpetual peace and will likely sow the seed of the next chapter in the ‘intractable’ conflict in the future.  

Both sides are in violation of the international humanitarian laws that forbid the indiscriminate targeting of civilian population and, no matter how justified the Palestinian grievances, they too need to abide by international law and consider the alternative Gandhian path of non-violent resistance, notwithstanding the colossal power of Israeli army.

As the editors of Israel’s liberal paper, Haaretz, have rightly pointed out, the problem is the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is highly unpopular, unable to form a government, afflicted with a corruption case, and who has been appeasing the extremist elements in Israeli politics who have no qualm about the illegal expropriation of Palestinian lands.  Israeli politics for its own sake needs to move to the center, otherwise the Israeli society as a whole will suffer, as more and more educated Israelis will leave the country, Israel’s recent gains through the Abrahams accord with the conservative Arab states will be essentially wiped out, as these states will need to cater to the rising tide of anti-Israel sentiments at home or face serious legitimation problems, and Israel’s regional rivals led by Iran will continue to harvest from the present crisis.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any political will in Washington to spur a political shift in Israel that would secure better results in terms of the elusive Middle East peace and both President Biden and the Democratic Party establishment are concerned that their Republican opponents will seize on any tangible US pressure applied on Israel.  In other words, domestic US priorities will continue for the foreseeable future to hamper a much-needed corrective Washington influence on an ally that receives 4 billion dollar military aid annually and, yet, is unwilling to allow the White House to have any input on its handling of the Palestinians at home and the West Bank and Gaza.  

But, assuming for a moment that the Biden administration would somehow muster the will to stand up to Netanyahu and pressure him to cease its massive attacks on Gaza, then such a bold move would need to be coordinated with a deep Arab outreach that would, simultaneously, persuade the Palestinian groups led by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to go along with a US-initiated cease-fire, followed by related efforts at UN and regional level to bring about the groundwork for a more enduring peace, such as by holding a new international peace conference, similar to the Oslo process.  

At the moment, of course, this is wishful thinking and the protagonists of both sides in this terrible conflict are more focused on scoring against each other than to partake in a meaningful peace process.  In other words, an important prerequisite for peace, that is the inclination for peaceful resolution of the conflict instead of resorting to arms, is clearly missing and can and should be brought about by, first and foremost, a capable US leadership, sadly hitherto missing.

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Middle East

Israel-Palestine Conflict Enters into Dangerous Zone

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Palestinians react as Israeli police fire a stun grenade during clashes at Damascus Gate on Laylat al-Qadr during the holy month of Ramadan, in Jerusalem's Old City, May 9, 2021. /Reuters

Since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in mid-April 2021, tension has escalated, with frequent clashes between police and Palestinians. The threatened eviction of some Palestinian families in East Jerusalem has also caused rising anger. But when Israeli security forces entered and attacked the unarmed Muslim worshipers, damaged the property, and humiliated the families, the situation turned into conflict.

Since the irrational and illogical creation of the Jewish State in the middle of the Muslim World, the tension started and emerged into few full-fledged armed conflicts and wars like; 1948–49, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, and 2006 wars/ conflicts. Tensions are often high between Israel and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian group called Hamas, which has fought Israel many times. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank complain that they’re suffering because of Zionists’ expansionist actions. Israel’s severe violations of human rights and extreme atrocities against Palestinians left Palestinians with no option other than protest and agitate. But Israel suppresses them and uses all dirty tricks to keep them silent.

It is worth mentioning that the United Nations Security Council has passed several resolutions to settle the Israel-Palestine issue peacefully. But Israel has not implemented either of them and kept using force to push them out and settle Jews in their land.

The State of Israel has been enjoying undue supported by the US, irrespective of who is president, but all of them support Israel unconditionally. Israel is the most favored nation of the US and the largest beneficiary of American aid, assistance, and support.

Ex-President Donald Trump helped Israel establish diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Donald Trump favored Netanyahu, dramatically moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. His daughter and son-in-law were the facilitators for his support to Israel.

Till last news, at least 56 Palestinians have died under an array of aerial bombardments of the Gaza Strip. Five Israelis were killed too. Rockets, bullets, and rocks are flying around Israel and the Palestinian territories with catastrophic intensity in the latest wave of violence that periodically marks the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli security forces amid clashes at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound on May 10, 2021, ahead of a planned march to commemorate Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem in 1967 Six-Day War.  Security forces have set on fire the centuries-old holy Mosque. Serious communal violence has broken out within Israel between Arab citizens and Jews. Fires were lit, a synagogue burned, a Muslim cemetery trashed, police cars set aflame, and an Arab-Israeli man killed. The mayor of Lod termed it a “civil war.”

The ferocity of the fast-escalating conflict might be extremely dangerous as Israel uses hi-tech, advanced, lethal weapons. A week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed close to losing power after the climax of four inconclusive elections. The outbreak of hostilities has allowed him the opportunity to make his latest appearance as a tough guy and ended coalition talks by rival politicians. He might politicize the conflict in his favor.

There is a severe danger of spreading this conflict to a large-scale war, which might engulf the regional countries. There already exists tension among Israel and few regional powers. The recent Israeli attacks on Russian bases in Syrian may also widen the conflict.

Any war in the middle-East will have dire consequences globally. It is appealed to the UN and all peace-loving nations and individuals to speed up all-out efforts to stop the conflict at this initial stage and avert further bloodshed. It is demanded that the Israel-Palestine issue must be settled according to the resolutions passed by UNSC. Wish immediate peace, sustainable peace, and permanent peace in the Middle East and globally.

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