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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.

Jamal Ait Laadam, Specialist in and North African Studies and Western Sahara Issue, a Ph.D. fellow in Jilin University School of Public Affairs

Middle East

The US doesn’t deserve a sit on the UNHRC, with its complicity in the Saudi war crimes in Yemen

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A family in the Al Dhale'e camp for people displaced by the conflict in Yemen. YPN for UNOCHA

Last week, the US State Department communicated its intention of joining the UN Human Rights Council later this year. The UN General Assembly will be voting this October on who gets to join the 47-member UN Human Rights Council. 47 members is less than a fourth of all UN member states, so only very few countries get a seat and a say.

The United States does not deserve to join the UN Human Rights Council, with its complicity in the Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

The Human Rights Council is often criticized, especially by the right in the US, for having only bad human rights actors with atrocious records as members. But the US is not an exception to the atrocious human rights record club. 

In the seemingly war-less Trump period, the US nevertheless still managed to get engaged in war and war crimes in the completely devastated Yemen, which was hit by the worst humanitarian crisis and famine over the last years, after US-backed Saudi forces basically flattened the country. Over 13mln people suffered from starvation. Media and human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch alike have pointed to US complicity in war crimes in Yemen.

Months ago, I criticized UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore for lauding the Saudis’ “humanitarian leadership” in Yemen for the price of USD 150mln. The UN blue-washing partnerships were possible after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres removed Saudi Arabia from the UN blacklist in 2020 to make sure the rivers of cash by the Saudi humanitarian heroes kept flowing in the UN’s direction. But in October this year, it is not Antonio-it’s not a big deal-Guterres that decides who gets on the UN Human Rights Council. It’s all the UN member states. And many of them will not be impressed by the Saudi humanitarian leadership.

And even though a month ago, new US President Joe Biden announced that the US is ending its support for the Saudi offensive – and in parallel the US intell revealed the Khashoggi report which outlined the Saudi prince’s involvement in the murder of the journalist – questions still persist about the US role in the Yemeni situation from now on. 73% of all Saudi arms imports come from the US. The US State Department will simply be playing on words from now on in redefining what constitutes “offensive” support for the Saudi coalition, as the State Department Spokesperson Ned Price seemed to suggest. Any military expert knows how difficult it is to differentiate between offensive and defensive capabilities. Unless it’s really barb wire standing on your border, it’s pretty hard to make the case that something will serve for only defensive purposes. Especially if the “defense-only” capabilities are for a war-driven Saudi-led coalition. So, basically the Biden policy is the Trump policy, but much more polished. The language is more technocraticly elegant, but the essence is the same – just like many of the other decisions by the Biden Administration in its first weeks. It’s basically Trump, only the phrasing is much more polished and professionally shrewd.

This week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Yemen’s Houthies for breaking the peace in responding to the Saudi forces, but it is safe to say that there isn’t much peace to break in Yemen, and the US has also taken care of that. So, Blinken’s statement reveals a new doze of hypocrisy – hypocrisy, which also characterizes the US’s decision to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council.

Biden’s Syria strikes that left many Biden supporters quite surprised last week also indicated that many of us who thought Biden would be a classical Democrat centrist were actually wrong. Biden has much more in common with the right now, judging by his very first policy choices – at home and foreign policy wise.

The US government will have to try a bit harder than “we are not Trump”, if it wants to convince the rest of the countries in October that it deserves a sit on the human rights table. If the Biden Administration continues the same way, it’s not going to be able to do so.

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Middle East

Beyond the friendship diplomacy between Morocco and Mauritania

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Over the past decade or so, many politicians and diplomats have held that the most significant bilateral relationship has been between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. That remains true today, and it will be likely the case for long- term partnership to come, even as the sort of that relationship changes over time. Due to, diplomatic rapprochement between them and bilateral cooperation on several levels, Mauritania, tends formally to withdraw its full recognition of the Polisario Front “SADR” before the term of the current president, Mohamed Ould Al-Ghazwani, ends.

Yet, the truth is that Mauritania has unalterably shifted from the previous engagement with Morocco to the recent conflict with it on nearly all the key fronts: geopolitics, trade, borders security, finance, and even the view on domestic governance. To that extent, Mauritania was the most affected by the Polisario Front militia’s violation to close the Guerguerat border crossing and prevent food supplies from reaching their domestic markets. This crisis frustrated Mauritanian people and politicians who demanded to take firm stances towards the separatists.

In the context of the fascinating development in relations between Rabat and Nouakchott, the Mauritanian government stated that President Ould Ghazwani is heading to take a remarkable decision based on derecognized the so-called Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and Polisario Front as its sole representative and follow up the recent UN peace process through the case of Western Sahara conflict under UN Security Council resolutions.

Similarly, the United States announced that “Moroccan (Western) Sahara is an integral part of The Kingdom–a traditional Ally, and it supports the Moroccan government’s constitutional procedures to maintain Moroccan Southern provinces strong and united.” It was rapidly followed by all major countries of African, and the Arab Middle East also extended their supports to the government in Rabat. What a determined move against the Polisario Front separatism in a sovereign state!

During the Western Sahara dispute, the Moroccan Sahrawi was humiliated to the end by Polisario Front: it not only lost their identity but also resulted in the several ethnics’ claim for “independence” in the border regions within. currently, Morocco is the only regional power in North Africa that has been challenged in terms of national unity and territorial integrity. The issues cover regional terrorism, political separatism, and fundamental radicalism from various radical ethnic groups. Although the population of the “Polisario groups” is irrelevant because of Morocco’s total population, the territorial space of the ethnic minorities across the country is broadly huge and prosperous in natural resources. besides, the regions are strategically important.

In foreign affairs doctrine, the certainty of countries interacting closely, neighboring states and Algeria, in particular, have always employed the issue of the Western Sahara dispute in the Southern Region of Morocco as the power to criticize and even undermine against Morocco in the name of discredit Sahrawi rights, ethnic discrimination, social injustice, and natural resources exploitation. therefore, local radical Sahrawi groups have occasionally resisted Morocco’s authority over them in a vicious or nonviolent way. Their resistance in jeopardy national security on strategic borders of the Kingdom, at many times, becoming an international issue.

A Mauritanian media stated, that “all the presidential governments that followed the former President Mohamed Khouna Ould Haidala, a loyal and supporter to the Polisario Front, were not at all satisfied with the recognition of the SADR creation due to its fear that it would cause reactions from Algeria. however, Mauritania today is not the state of 1978, it has become a well-built country at the regional level, and the position of its military defense has been enhanced at the phase of the continent’s armies after it was categorized as a conventional military power.”

This is what Mauritania has expected the outcome. Although neighboring Mauritania has weeded out the pressures of the Algerian regime, which stood in the way of rapprochement with the Kingdom of Morocco, and the Mauritanian acknowledged that Nouakchott today is “ready to take the historic decision that seeks its geopolitical interests and maintain strategic stability and security of the entire region, away from the external interactions.” Hence, The Mauritanian decision, according to the national media, will adjust its neutral position through the Moroccan (Western) Sahara issue; Because previously was not clear in its political arrangement according to the international or even regional community.

Given the Moroccan domestic opinion, there is still optimistic hope about long-term collaboration on the transformation between Morocco and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, even considering some temporary difficulties between the two in the Western Sahara conflict. For example, prior Mauritania has recognized the Polisario since the 1980s, but this recognition did not turn into an embassy or permanent diplomatic sign of the separatist entity in Mauritania, the Kingdom has a long-standing relationship with Mauritania and the recent regional politics would not harm that, because it’s a political circumstance.

Despite the strain exerted by the Polisario Front and Algeria on Mauritania, and intending to set impediments that avoid strategic development of its relations with Rabat, the Mauritanian-Moroccan interactions have seen an increased economic development for nearly two years, which end up with a phone call asked King Mohammed VI to embark on an official visit to Mauritania as President Ould Ghazwani requested.

For decades, the kingdom of Morocco has deemed a united, stable, and prosperous Maghreb region beneficial to itself and Northern Africa since it is Kingdom’s consistent and open stance and strategic judgment. Accordingly, Morocco would continue supporting North Africa’s unity and development. On the one hand, Morocco and Mauritania are not only being impacted by the pandemic, but also facing perils and challenges such as unilateralism, and protectionism. On the other hand, Rabat opines that the two neighboring states and major forces of the world necessarily established their resolve to strengthen communication and cooperation with each other. To that end, both states would make efforts to set up long-term strategic consensus including mutual trust, reciprocal understandings, and respect to the United Nations and the current international system based on multilateralism.

In sum, both Morocco and Mauritania are sovereign states with a strong desire to be well-built and sophisticated powers. Previous successes and experiences in solving territorial disputes and other issues have given them confidence, which motivated both countries to join hands in the struggles for national independence, equality, and prosperity. In sense of the world politics, two states promise to advance the great cause of reorganization and renovation and learn from each other’s experience in state power and party administration.

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Middle East

Getting Away With Murder: The New U.S. Intelligence Report on the Khashoggi Affair

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It was October 2, 2018 when a man walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate to collect some documents he needed for his impending marriage.  He had been there earlier on September 28, and had been told to allow a few days for them to prepare the needed proof of divorce from an earlier marriage.

So there he was.  His Turkish fiancée had accompanied him and he asked her to wait outside as it would only take a minute or two.  She waited and waited and… waited.  Jamal Khashoggi never came out.

What went on inside is a matter of dispute but US intelligence prepared a report which should have been released but was illegally blocked by the Trump administration.  Mr. Trump is no doubt grateful for the help he has had over two decades from various Saudi royals in addition to the business thrown his way at his various properties.  “I love the Saudis,” says Donald Trump and he had kept the report under wraps.  It has now been released by the new Biden administration.      

All the same, grisly details of the killing including dismemberment soon emerged because in this tragic episode, with an element of farce, it was soon evident that the Turks had bugged the consulate.  There is speculation as to how the perpetrators dispersed of the corpse but they themselves have been identified.  Turkish officials also claim to know that they acted on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.  They arrived on a private jet and left just as abruptly.

The egregious killing led to the UN appointing a Special Rapporteur, Agnes Callamard.  She concluded it to be an “extra-judicial killing for which the state of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible.”  She added, there was “credible evidence”  implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior officials.  

Now the US report.  Intelligence agencies conclude Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad under the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  They add that the latter has had unitary control over Saudi security and intelligence organizations and thus it was “highly unlikely” an operation of this nature would have been possible without Prince Mohammed’s authorization.

Mr. Biden’s reaction is plain.  Although the Crown Prince is the de facto ruler with his father the King’s acquiescence, Mr. Biden has not talked to him.  He called the king and emphasized the importance placed on human rights and the rule of law in the US.

President Biden is also re-evaluating US arms sales to the Kingdom with a view to limiting them to defensive weapons — a difficult task as many can be used for both, a fighter-bomber for example.

There are also calls for sanctions against the Crown Prince directly but Biden has ruled that out.  Saudi Arabia is after all the strongest ally of the US in the region, and no president wants to jeopardize that relationship.  Moreover, the US has done the same sort of thing often enough; the last prominent assassination being that of the senior Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani,  by the Trump administration.  

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