North-Africa West-Asia https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/14806/all cached version 16/02/2019 10:00:08 en In Iraq, Iran and Turkey are the real winners https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/rebecca-tinsley/in-iraq-iran-and-turkey-are-real-winners <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The US is trying to create a Middle Eastern coalition to undermine Iran. They are sixteen years too late. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29565995.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-29565995.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Damaged historic Christian town of Qaraqosh on Iraq’s Nineveh plain, December, 2016. NurPhoto/PressAssociation. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>This week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/02/iranian-opposition-kurdish-pompeo-summit-warsaw-poland.html?utm_campaign=20190207&amp;utm_source=sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=Daily%20Newsletter%20%20(1)%09www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/02/iranian-opposition-kurdish-pompeo-summit-warsaw-poland.html?utm_campaign=20190207&amp;utm_source=sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=Daily%20Newslet">hosts a meeting in Warsaw</a>, aimed at forming a Middle Eastern coalition against Tehran. Yet, at the same time, the Trump Administration has <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/02/pull-forces-syria-april-report-190207225526877.ht">confirmed</a> most US forces will exit Syria by May, leaving a regional vacuum that benefits Iran, Turkey and Islamic State. </p> <p>This could provoke a new surge of migration and, paradoxically, put America’s closest ally, Israel, in peril: Iran is <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/07/hezbollah-iran-new-weapons-israel/56579">stockpiling weapons along the border</a> between Syria and Israel, and its proxies are <a href="http://www.weeklyblitz.net/world/iran-tiptoeing-toward-israels-northern-border/">poised to menace</a> the Israeli state. Yet, on January 3, President Trump said Iran could <a href="http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-official-in-shock-as-trump-says-iran-can-do-what-they-want-in-syria/">do what it wanted</a> in Syria.</p> <h2><strong>An Islamic state of mind</strong></h2> <p>If one thing unites the Christian, Kurdish and Yezidi people in northern Iraq, it is contempt for American claims that Islamic State (IS or Daesh) <a href="trump-syria-exit-coalition-isis.html%3Futm_campaign=20190207&amp;utm_source=sailthru&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=Middle%20East%20Minute">is defeated</a>. </p> <p>“Daesh change their tactics according to the circumstances,” says Sister Ilhan, an eighty-two-year-old nun I met in Qaraqosh on the Plain of Nineveh. “They shave off their beards, and melt back into the community, waiting until the West loses interest. Again,” she adds, pointedly.</p> <p>Iraqi religious and ethnic minority groups interviewed for this article say the West has never understood Islamism, the ideology, as opposed to Islam, the religion. The Iraqis and Syrians who survived IS’s bloodthirsty rule know it isn’t simply a matter of killing a few thousand jihadis, or causing their retreat. IS’s aims aren’t necessarily about occupying territory, as western politicians or military analysts understand it. </p> <p>Gill Lusk, an expert on Islamism, comments, “The short-termism that characterises the age is in stark contrast with the Islamist view, which is the ultimate in long-termism: the political horizon is literally infinity…&nbsp; International politicians and the media often talk as if “jihadists” (who they believe can be militarily defeated) and Islamist politicians (who can supposedly be negotiated with) were qualitatively different. In fact, they are two sides of the same ideological coin.”&nbsp; </p> <p>Lusk draws parallels with the National Islamic Front’s 1989 coup in Sudan. “The NIF spent some 14 years preparing to take power, placing sleepers in strategic positions in the armed forces and civil service; sending trained cadres to fill “hardship posts” for teachers in remote areas of what was then Africa’s largest country; setting up charities, especially in areas of famine or especial poverty, to provide aid or services that central government failed to provide. Such tactics were also used by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, helping to ensure that Mohamed Morsi won, briefly, the presidency in 2012.”</p> <p>While Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi echoes Trump, proclaiming IS <a href="http://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/01/25/islamic-state-2019-assessment.html">is defeated</a>, just across the border in Syria they killed four US military personnel and dozens of Kurdish Peshmerga in January. Moreover, there were 1,600 IS attacks across Iraq in 2018. Trump <a href="http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/trouble-turkey-erdogan-isis-and-kurds">recently told</a> Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he can “have Syria”, emboldening Ankara to eliminate its enemies, the Kurds, the only efficient military presence keeping civilians and religious minorities safe from IS. &nbsp;</p> <p>Pari Ibrahim from the <a href="http://www.freeyezidi.org/blog/free-yezidi-foundation-report-withdrawal-of-us-troops-from-syria/">Free Yezidi Foundation says</a>, “It is folly to suppose that thousands of Daesh adherents will simply stop fighting or change their ideology. And it is impossible to imagine that Turkey, of all countries, would be a force to contain Islamic extremism.” </p> <p>She was <a href="http://www.theweek.co.uk/60065/how-are-british-jihadists-travelling-to-syria-and-iraq">alluding to the years</a> in which Ankara turned a blind eye as IS recruits travelled through Turkey to Syria and Iraq. Turkey also <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/research-paper-turkey-isi_b_8808024.h">reputedly allowed</a> IS smugglers to move oil and historical artefacts <a href="http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/iraq-foils-smuggling-usd13-mn-antiquities-smuggling-turkey/">across the border</a>. Moreover, many in the region claim Erdogan shares IS’s Islamist ideology. </p> <p>Although the US spent $26 billion <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/09/iraq-army-security-force-billions">training Iraq’s army</a>, there is little confidence in them. Sister Sarah, a nun I met in Telusquf in northern Iraq, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/11/world/middleeast/mosul-iraq-militants-seize-us-weapons.html">recalls how</a> the army vanished when IS attacked Mosul in 2014, abandoning US munitions for the Islamists to seize. “One minute they were there, telling us they would hold back Daesh, and the next moment we realized we were alone. They didn’t even tell us they were leaving. I thought I’d be gone a couple of days, but it was three years before I could return. All my books from my studies in Britain had been destroyed. Our convent had been used as a Daesh rape centre,” she continues. “They left empty Viagra packets all over the floors.” </p> <p>The Plain of Nineveh is still contested by rival military camps, as it has been since Alexander fought Darius III of Persia. Outside the convent in Telusquf stands a Kurdish Peshmerga outpost, and yet the city is in Iraq. The nuns struggle to convince local Christians not to emigrate to safer, more tolerant places. Although there have been Christians present since 100 AD, their numbers have fallen from 10% of the Iraqi population in 1950 to 1% now. </p> <h2><strong>Where did it all go wrong?</strong></h2> <p>The Iraqis interviewed for this article traced their problems back to the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. </p> <p>“We wanted Saddam gone, OK? We hated that guy. But errors were made,” a Kurdish businessman explained over lunch. We sat in the shady garden of a restaurant, high in the mountains of northern Iraqi Kurdistan, admiring the bubbling aqua marine water of the Ava Sin river. </p> <p>“Right from the start, the Americans only cared about guarding the oil ministry in Baghdad,” he said. “They just shrugged as the criminal element ransacked the national museum. That sent a clear message.” </p> <p>The lack of security was compounded by the American administrator Paul Bremer’s decision to fire the entire Iraqi army and security services. The Kurdish businessman, who once ran a pizza parlour in London, told me, </p> <p>“The Americans thought every Baath Party member loved Saddam. They didn’t understand that no one got a job or a university place unless they joined. It was just a means to an end. Then, Bremer allowed new political parties based on Shia or Sunni identity,” the businessman continued. “How can you create a fresh national identity when so many people feel ignored by the guys with the power and money? Now, everything benefits the Shia.”</p> <p>“The 2003 invasion? Tehran won,” his colleague, a property developer from Erbil, added. “Now, Iraqi security is in the hands of the Badr Brigade from Tehran. And the Popular Mobilization Forces, who take their orders from Iran.”</p> <p>According to the Kurdish businessman, Iraq’s disenfranchised Sunnis were incensed when aid vanished, and the only reconstruction happened in Shia areas. Al Qaeda seized the opportunity to recruit disenchanted, unemployed Sunni soldiers into their ranks. Then Islamic State arrived, and “the hard-liners left Al Qaeda and joined Daesh.” Now, “The government in Baghdad doesn’t control anything beyond the suburbs.”</p> <p>America missed another opportunity when IS was beaten back in 2017, the businessman said. “You guys needed to tell Baghdad to spread the reconstruction funds between the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yezidis.” &nbsp;<span class="mag-quote-center">“You guys needed to tell Baghdad to spread the reconstruction funds between the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yezidis.” </span></p> <p>A Yezidi charity worker confirmed the allegation that only Shia had benefited. “For the first eighteen months, we didn’t see any money, although we know there’s been billions of dollars pouring into Iraq. It’s arriving now, but it’s too late for many people who’ve already left. “</p> <p>An assistant to a Catholic bishop told me, “The United Nations asks the officials in Baghdad how the UN should distribute grants, and the authorities send them to Shia villages,” she explained. “We had one UN project in our area, just one, for a population of 120,000: the UN were supposed to refurbish a school destroyed by IS. They re-plastered the outer wall of the compound, painted it, and then sprayed the logo of the UN agency on the wall. The school rooms inside are still unusable.”</p> <p><strong>“If the PKK leaves, IS will take their place”</strong></p> <p>The Kurdish property developer drove us to a remote valley where the PKK, the Turkish Kurdish militia, hides. “If the PKK leave, then Islamic State will take their place,” he said. He warns that young people will emigrate, due to lack of security or economic opportunities. “Erdogan has bought our leaders,” he said, <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-iraqi-kurdistan-agree-on-50-year-energy-accord-6742">giving as an example</a> a fifty-year oil deal with Erdogan, signed by the Barzanis, Iraqi Kurdistan’s ruling family.</p> <p>Several Kurdish business people shared his view, saying infrastructure and procurement contracts go to Barzani cronies who then subcontract to Turkish firms. “They do a rubbish job, these Turks, because they’re being given just a slice of the money allocated for the project. I despised Saddam because he killed so many of my people. But only Saddam’s family was corrupt. Everyone else followed the rules. If an engineer messed up, or took a bribe, Saddam let it be known that the guy had been buried alive in concrete.” Consequently, Saddam-era roads and buildings “are still pretty good compared to the crap built now.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37521317.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-37521317.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Trump and Erdogan talk at NATO summit meeting, July, 2018. ABACA/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>There are 18 Turkish <a href="https://ekurd.net/turkish-military-bases-kurdistan-2016-07-20">military bases</a> within Iraqi Kurdistan, hunting the PKK, and since 2015, there have been hundreds of aerial attacks by Turkey, <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/death-above-iraqi-border-villages-bear-brunt-turkish-air-strikes">resulting in the deaths</a> of 460 Kurdish civilians. In January, a crowd protested outside one of the bases, claiming that every Kurdish family in the area had lost someone because of Turkey’s inaccurate bombing campaign. The Turks <a href="http://www.meforum.org/57680/kurdistan-region-of-iraq-caught-between-turk">shot one</a> of the protesters dead, injuring ten others. </p><p>On the top of a mountain is a sprawling compound, memorializing the Barzani family; three enormous pavilions, with a restaurant that can feed a thousand at a sitting. The lawns are emerald green against the surrounding dun-coloured hills, while the empty buildings are kept cool in summer and warm in winter. We were the only visitors to Kurdistan’s own corner of North Korea that day. </p> <p>Kurdish institutions are so distrusted that few keep money in a bank. In restaurants, female diners carry big handbags containing the sum total of their family’s wealth, in case a burglar breaks into their home while they are out. </p> <p>“We made matters worse for ourselves,” the real estate developer commented. “The Barzanis want to go down in history as the leaders who delivered Kurdish independence. So, against the advice of America and Europe, they held a non-binding referendum in 2017. It caused a bust-up with Baghdad, and they closed our airport and sealed us off for six months.”</p> <p>When I asked about the vote, he sniggered, “The Germans think they’re so clever because they know the result of their elections within a few hours. But that’s nothing: we Kurds know our results three months before the polls open.” His smile faded as he considered how vulnerable the people of northern Syria and Iraq will be when the Americans leave, and the Kurdish Peshmerga is attacked by Daesh and the Turks. As for the prospect of Iran tightening its grip on Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, he said, “My son has tried to sneak into Britain to find work on seven occasions. He’s failed every time, but I’ll be giving him money to try again.”</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Israel Syria Turkey Iran Iraq Rebecca Tinsley Thu, 14 Feb 2019 14:32:29 +0000 Rebecca Tinsley 121703 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Radio Hakaya Podcast, episode 2: Abu Mohammed - from revolution to war https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/radio-hakaya/radio-hakaya-podcast-episode-2-abu-mohammed-from-revolution-to-w <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Episode 2 of a podcast series about the socio-political climate faced by Syrians and their host communities through their own eyes as the pressure rises for refugees to return to Syria.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western" style="text-align: left;" lang="it-IT"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Image 2 Abu Mohammed.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Image 2 Abu Mohammed.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="355" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Illustration by Hannah Kirmes-Daly.</span></span></span>Radio Hakaya is a community radio project started by <a href="https://brushandbow.com/radio-hakaya-%D8%AD%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A7/">Brush&amp;Bow</a> in a refugee camp in North Lebanon. Radio Hakaya's podcasts feature individuals whose communities have been directly affected by the war in Syria and the displacement of Syrians to Lebanon. Each podcast presents a subjective opinion that, combined with the rest of the series, provides a mosaic of differing perspectives and experiences, exploring the reasons why people fled Syria, the living conditions in Lebanon and what the future might hold.</em></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong>All recordings are taken, translated and edited with the help from members of the local community.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong> Interviews and Editing by Roshan De Stone &amp; David L. Suber.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong> Editing and Translations by Fadi Haddad.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong> Illustrations by Hannah Kirmes-Daly.</strong></p><p class="western">This is the second podcast of an 8-part series. It is an interview with Abu Mohammed, a former policeman from the city of Homs, in Syria. Abu Mohammed fled to Lebanon with his family early on in the conflict, to avoid being involved with the regime’s repression after having witnessed its brutality. In this interview, taken in a refugee camp on the Lebanese-Syrian border, Abu Mohammed shares some general reflections on the impact of the war on the Syrian people, and of the responsibilities the regime holds at the roots of the conflict. </p> <p class="western">Being in his mid-40s Abu Mohammed is from the generation who lived the transition between the rule of president Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar. Hafez had been in power 29 years when his death paved the way for his second eldest son Bashar to become president of Syria in 2000. Bashar inherited a police-state, one in which arbitrary arrests, disappearances and torture were all justified measures against the threat of political opposition and destabilization. </p> <p class="western" lang="it-IT">Abu Mohammed recalls when, following a spate of high-profile assassinations against members of the ruling elite in 1982, Hafez al-Assad sieged and bombed the city of Hama, stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition, killing what international observers have estimated as over <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20130522172157/http://www.shrc.org/data/aspx/d5/2535.aspx">25,000</a></span> civilians in the name of national security.</p> <p class="western">Eight years of war have shown that Hafez's son Bashar is capable of the same ruthlessness. When the wave of protests and uprisings across the Arab world reached Syria in 2011, the regime responded with violent clampdowns, paving the way for peaceful protests to escalate into an armed struggle leading to outright civil war. </p> <p class="western" lang="it-IT">Now, as the war burns to an end, the regime is encouraging Syrian refugees to return to Syria, promising <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/09/syrias-assad-offers-amnesty-military-defectors-dodgers-encourage/">amnesty</a></span> for deserters and army dodgers, engaging in a bid to re-gain international legitimacy and funds for the reconstruction of the country. However, widespread <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/30/we-cant-go-back-syrias-refugees-fear-for-their-future-after-war">reports</a></span> of arbitrary arrest, disappearances and torture from Syrian refugees who have returned to Syria leave many refugees mistrustful of the regime's promises. </p> <p class="western">From his tent in the north of Lebanon, Abu Mohammed is adamant about the need for Bashar al-Assad to leave the presidency if any real solution to the war is to be found. In his eyes, a Syria without Bashar al-Assad is the starting condition to guarantee some safety to refugees wanting to return home.</p> <p class="western">His experience represents only a fragment of the very complex puzzle of memories and positions Syrian civilians hold on the uprisings and the war that is tearing apart Syria, and should therefore be heard in relation to the contents expressed in the previous and forthcoming podcasts.</p><p><strong>Listen to the podcast in English or in Arabic below</strong></p><iframe width="100%" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/563422641&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true"></iframe><p>&nbsp;</p><iframe width="100%" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/563424570&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true"></iframe><p><br />*Please note that all names have been changed to protect the anonymity of participants who, despite living in Lebanon, still fear for their lives. The views and opinions published on these podcasts are the participants alone and do not reflect the opinions of Brush&amp;Bow. </p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong>Read the transcript:</strong></p><p>Podcast #2 Abu Mohammed: From Revolution to War</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Introduction</span></p> <p>Welcome to Radio HAKAYA – حكايا the official podcast series of Brush and Bow. These podcasts report on stories and challenges of the Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian communities in Lebanon. By focusing on individual stories, we hope to convey the complex realities of life here in Lebanon: people’s memories, present experiences and hopes for the future. We would like to remind you that the views published on these podcasts are the participants alone and do not reflect the opinions of Brush and Bow.&nbsp; </p><p>Today’s podcast is an interview with Abu Mohammed, a former policeman from the city of Homs. Having fled to Lebanon in 2014, Abu Mohammed gives testimony to the fear and distrust that many Syrians in Lebanon have of returning home. In this interview, Abu Mohammed reflects on the recent political history of Syria under the rule of the Asad family and on the escalation of Syria’s uprisings into civil war.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Interview</span></p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: What did you think when the revolution broke out?</p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: We were calm and sure that it was just a matter of a couple months before the regime would fall. But the reality was that the regime has been mobilizing for 40 years; accumulating weapons from Russia and Iraq not to fight any outer enemy, but their own people. The regime held a grudge against the Syrian people. </p> <p>We Sunnis, Shias, Alawites, and Christians all lived together in the same neighbourhoods. We studied, ate, and shopped together with no problems at all. Sectarian discrimination was the regime’s invention.</p> <p>Among the Alawites there are opposers to the regime itself. The regime’s game was to create difference and hate amongst sects, so that these differences would keep us divided, one against the other, and leave the regime free to do what it wants. Because if we were together, we would be a danger for the regime.</p> <p>The regime stirred up the Alawites against the Sunnis and the Sunnis against the Alawites, they did the same with the Christians, growing sectarianism so people kill each other while the regime sits and watches.</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: What’s your opinion on the future of Syria? Would you go back some day?</p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: Inshallah if there would be better conditions, a new president, a new constitution... However, we don’t trust anyone anymore. We heard the same promises of new constitution and a new government from the beginning, yet nothing ever changed. The whole world lined up with Assad’s regime.</p> <p>The Syrian regime has recently announced an act of amnesty for military reserve dropouts. They want people to return back in order to accumulate troops to invade Idlib. Some people already went back; yesterday buses full of young men came straight from Saudi Arabia and Jordan, but one bus was stopped and all passengers were arrested at Nasib border point, they were told they were the undesirables and the authorities arrested them all. </p> <p>Everyday there are people heading back, the day before yesterday 10 buses drove back, but also on the buses some passengers were taken by the regime and led to unknown place, who knows where. They took the bus drivers, the boys, all of them.</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: What happens to those arrested by the regime? </p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: Some people are jailed, some can pay and get free, whilst others are taken to the military, and others simply disappear. When their families call to ask where their boys are, officials reply telling them never to call that number again, because they themselves don’t even know where they are. </p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: We read in Syrian newspapers that the refugees should come back now that the war is about to be over…</p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: no, this is only a lie to help Assad maintain his position; for unless the refugees come back, he lacks legitimacy to the eyes of the Western and Gulf countries. However, the bait was inviting people back to their homeland, to siege Idlib, bomb it and regain control of the whole of Syria. But so far he’s got no legitimacy from outside countries. Until refugees go back, he won’t have any legitimacy. Foreign countries see there are thousands of people outside Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan. And they say that until those people return to Syria, he won’t be the rightful president. </p> <p>What is he saying now? That there is no conscription, there is no danger. People have to come back. And as soon as people go back he has them on a list, and if they are on the list he takes them either to prison or to the army. Do you understand? The regime said it removed more than 80,000 names of people from the lists of wanted people. As an act of de-escalation from the regime. But this is a lie, made up by the regime to make people go back.</p> <p>Living outside of Syria we can’t assess the situation there, only those who are inside can, and act accordingly. However, having reached this stage I hope they continue fighting until they take full control over Syria. If not we’ll have spent 7 years in exile for what? Away from our country, away from our houses…for what? We will have lost everything, our lives, our property, our families… </p> <p>My brother 35 years old was martyred leaving 7 little kids orphaned, his death would be wasted. When he died his son was 13 years old, now is now 17 and lost his leg. He spends the whole day locked up at home, he can’t work or move around, his life is wasted. Who will compensate his father’s life or his leg? and how will he continue his life?</p> <p> ---- </p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: could you tell us about Homs city before the war?</p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: Homs was beautiful. We called it the “Mother of the poor”. Even those who earned 200 Syrian Lira, that is $4 - 5 a day, could have a life in Homs. This was not an achievement of the government, but of the people that used to provide for all, a generosity of the Homsy people.</p> <p>Everything was so cheap in Homs, that the Lebanese used to come and buy vegetables, food, and gas, and also to consult doctors and receive medical treatment. And all that was the people’s achievement, not the government.</p> <p>We deserved much better than this. We deserved free medication, free education, and even salaries for the people who lived deprived of what should have been accessible to all Syrians, of what belonged to all Syrians. </p> <p>Syria was self-sufficient, do you know what that means? It means we don’t need to import anything from outside. We had sugar factories, oil, fat, the best livestock worldwide. Syria was self-sufficient.</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: But don’t you think this was achieved thanks to the regime? The Syrian State?</p> <p> <strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: No, it was the people that achieved it all, the regime only monopolized it for the favor of greedy families like the Makhlouf’s and others. For example, our sugar companies manufacture the best sugar quality which the regime exports, leaving the trash quality for local market consumption.</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: Do you remember how the situation changed with Bashar in power, compared to his father Hafez’?</p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed:</strong> yes, there was a slight change. Bashar brought technology to Syria, like cellphones and internet, which we didn’t have in Hafez’ time. But in return he took other things from us. If Hafez was a thief, Bashar was even more.</p> <p>Bashar doesn’t know how to think like his father. Hafez was a senior politician, he was skilled in dealing with people.</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: But also there are people that say that when Bashar arrived, the political situation changed…</p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: Yes, it did open a bit. Bashar slightly granted access to political life. But at the same time kept people under strict control.</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: And do you think this was the reason why the protests were possible? </p> <p><strong>Abu Mohammed</strong>: No, no. It wasn’t for this. It was because the generations have changed. With Bashar there was a new generation. It was the youth that revolted against Bashar al Asad. The old generation that lived under Hafez’ regime was afraid to try and stop him. It was the youth who ignited the revolution.</p> <p>People thought that because it was a peaceful movement, the regime would refrain from killing, especially today that the media covers everything, not like in the 1980s during Hafez’ and Rafaat Assad’s time when they shelled Hama into ruins because there was no media or cameras to report it. Back then it took people in Syria 3 months to find out what had happened in Hama. But today we have internet, cameras, and social media.</p> <p>People thought that because Bashar was monitored by foreign countries he wouldn’t dare to commit such crimes. But the fact is that he doesn’t care or fear neither the U.S nor any other country as far as he is backed up by Russia and Iran. </p> <p>ISIS was the regime’s invention. It’s the Syrian intelligence in Islamic disguise. Its rise was favoured in order to intimidate Western countries and public opinion, to distract them so as to prioritize eliminating Islamic terrorism, leaving the opportunity to the regime to slaughter its people.</p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/radio-hakaya/radio-hakaya-episode-1-um-saleh-life-under-isis">Radio Hakaya Podcast, episode 1: Um Saleh - life under ISIS</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Lebanon </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Lebanon Syria refugees podcasts Radio Hakaya Thu, 14 Feb 2019 07:00:00 +0000 Radio Hakaya 121677 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A European take on Warsaw’s anti-Iran show https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/erwin-van-veen/european-take-on-warsaw-s-anti-iran-show <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Analysis of US diplomacy and discourse after May 2018 suggests that the administration has revived its 1979 Iran-pathology with a vengeance. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-41054330.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-41054330.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald J. Trump shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department February 6, 2019 in Washington, DC. Picture by Alex Wong/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Publicly, the objective of the US-sponsored conference in Warsaw on 13-14 February this week that <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/361114ec-2926-11e9-88a4-c32129756dd8">purports</a> to address ‘peace and security’ in the Middle East remains vague. Yet, Secretary Pompeo was clear enough in his recent Cairo <a href="https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/pompeo-cairo-speech-obama-washington-compared.html">speech</a>: “Countries increasingly understand that we must confront the ayatollahs, not coddle them.” In brief, the Warsaw conference is part of America’s diplomatic offensive to marshal Europe, the Gulf states and Israel against Iran, Qatar and, perhaps, Turkey. The fact that Poland’s government went along with hosting the event also demonstrates how the US intends it to split European Union <a href="https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/02/04/iran-council-adopts-conclusions/pdf">policy</a> towards Iran. Fresh on the heels of the creation of the EU’s special purpose vehicle <a href="https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_trading_with_iran_special_purpose_vehicle_how_it_can_work">INSTEX</a>, the US will be keen to nip in the bud any further European action that undermines its own anti-Iran policy. The underlying problem is, of course, that while the US and Europe share some concerns about Iran, their strategic interests differ. </p><p>The current US administration has snapped back sanctions in a way that has reset the clock on the modicum of trust that the <a href="https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iran/195-thin-ice-iran-nuclear-deal-three">nuclear deal</a> had generated. To justify that it unilaterally reneged on its international commitments, the US now frames Iran’s missile program as a global security concern and points to the many armed groups in the Middle East region affiliated with Iran as regional security threats. In this logic, the prospect of nuclear-tipped Iranian missiles risks a regional arms race and poses a clear and present danger to the Gulf states. Iran’s expanding regional presence is also said to create unacceptable security risks to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The irony that the US just gave the Iranian missile program a boost by withdrawing from the nuclear deal is hard to miss. It should also be noted that Iran-affiliated armed groups in Iraq were essential in defeating the Islamic State - a key objective of the US-led coalition. </p> <p>Analysis of US diplomacy and discourse after May 2018 suggests that the administration has revived its 1979 Iran-pathology with a vengeance. The key exhibit is its artificial re-creation of a regional security dilemma: the rise of Iran threatens its neighbors, they will arm up and this will create a vicious spiral. Yet, it is worth recalling that neither Iraq, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain (except its royal family) nor Oman consider Iran a security threat. In similar vein, during a recent visit to Tehran, many Iranian analysts cogently pointed out that Iran does not consider Saudi Arabia or the Emirates as security threats although the former vastly outspends it on military kit, according to the Military Balance. In other words, the real issue is rather protecting the interests of US-allies Saudi Arabia and Israel. The first, a tribal autocracy well known for its <a href="https://www.clingendael.org/publication/saudi-arabias-strategic-stalemate-what-next">impetuous</a> foreign policies in places like Qatar, Yemen and Syria; the second an unflinching neo-colonial <a href="https://www.ecfr.eu/publications/summary/rethinking_oslo_how_europe_can_promote_peace_in_israel_palestine_7219">power</a> with a growing nationalist bent.</p> <p>Situated much closer to the Middle East, the strategic challenge looks different in Europe. More stability in the Middle East, not less, is critical. My interviews with officials in several European administrations make it clear that US-pursuit of regime change is considered a dangerous folly. A Western-style democracy cannot be parachuted in after 40 years of <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47043561">Islamic Revolution</a> and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps control both guns and funds. This means that regime change would probably lead to a government more hardline than that of President Ahmadinejad, or to a civil war that combines the brutality of Syria with the sectarianism of Iraq. </p> <p>Being on the receiving end of the Central Asian drugs route, nervously eyeing 3 million Afghan refugees in eastern Iran and facing a real threat of returning foreign fighters, few European decision-makers are likely to want to pay the price of such regime change scenarios to safeguard Saudi supremacy in the Middle East or to keep Israel safe from its own inability to make good on the Oslo agreements. </p> <p>It is because of this that most European countries pursue a strategy of ‘compartmentalization’. They want to keep the nuclear deal functional as stepping stone towards greater Iranian involvement in stabilizing the Middle East, but they also intend to criticise the sometimes violent and corrosive role of armed groups affiliated with Iran, and sanction suspected assassinations in several European countries. While this strategy has shortcomings, it keeps the door open and shows greater understanding for Iran’s historical experiences during the Iran-Iraq war and in respect of the US invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) after George Bush made Iran itself part of the ‘axis of evil’.</p> <p>What is at stake in Warsaw is not so much American v. European dealings with Iran itself, but how to best pursue stability in the Middle East. From this perspective, Iranian-Saudi antagonism is an unhelpful frame. There are deeper root causes to address, such as the <a href="https://www.clingendael.org/publication/return-authoritarianism-primes-middle-east-more-conflict">return</a> of authoritarianism in Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the political use of Sunni and Shi’a religious paradigms to mobilise individuals for violence, or the historical marginalization of Shi’a populations in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. As a large and stable state in the region that has demonstrated foreign policy <a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190211-iran-is-ready-for-dialogue-with-middle-east-and-admits-its-influence-in-arab-countries/">pragmatism</a> and prudence, Iran is key to dealing with such conflict factors. While the historical record <a href="https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/iransource/persia-is-back-but-in-a-different-form">suggests</a> that putting it under maximum pressure will generate maximum resistance, the real prize is to get Iran to take more responsibility for regional stability – for its own sake.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mehrdad-khonsari/bullying-iran-will-not-work">Bullying Iran will not work</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ahmad-mohammadpour/looking-from-within-is-nuclear-deal-big-deal-for-iranian-p">Looking from within: is the nuclear deal a big deal for the Iranian people?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/eskandar-sadeghi-boroujerdi/open-letter-to-frederica-mogherini-and-european-imper">An Open Letter to Federica Mogherini and the European imperative to save the Iran nuclear deal</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sara-takafori/eyes-of-iran-and-its-children-ordinary-lives-iranian-sanctions-and-donald-trump-s-reje">The eyes of Iran and its children: ordinary lives, Iranian sanctions and Donald Trump’s rejection of the nuclear deal</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iran International politics United States Europe Erwin van Veen Wed, 13 Feb 2019 13:48:40 +0000 Erwin van Veen 121680 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Radio Hakaya Podcast, episode 1: Um Saleh - life under ISIS https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/radio-hakaya/radio-hakaya-episode-1-um-saleh-life-under-isis <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The first episode of a podcast series about the socio-political climate faced by Syrians and their host communities through their own eyes as the pressure rises for refugees to return to Syria.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/555700/Illustration-UmSaleh.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555700/Illustration-UmSaleh.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="352" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Illustration by Hannah Kirmes-Daly.</span></span></span></p><p><em>Since September 2018 <a href="https://brushandbow.com/radio-hakaya-%D8%AD%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A7/">Brush&amp;Bow</a> has been working with communities in the region of Akkar and beyond, to produce podcasts on stories of life and displacement amongst the Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian communities there. </em></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><em>This podcast series is made of 8 episodes, each including an interview reflecting the current socio-political climate faced by Syrians and their host communities, as the pressure rises for refugees to return to Syria. In this series, Radio Hakaya presents a mosaic of testimonies and experiences on the life of different communities in Lebanon. The diversity of characters in the series gives voice to the discordant and contrasting opinions present on the ground, reflecting the complexity of the overall picture and its multi-layered reality.</em></p><p><em> </em></p><p class="western"><em> Each podcast presents a subjective opinion of individuals whose communities have been directly effected by the war in Syria and the displacement of Syrians to Lebanon. The series provides a mosaic of differing experiences and perspectives of the reasons that people fled from Syria, of the living conditions in Lebanon and of the hopes and fears about what the future might hold.</em></p> <p class="western" lang="it-IT"> <strong>All recordings are taken, translated and edited with the help from members of the local community.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong> Interviews and Editing by Roshan De Stone &amp; David L. Suber.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong> Editing and Translations by Fadi Haddad.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong> Illustrations by Hannah Kirmes-Daly.</strong></p><p>This is the first podcast of the 8-part series. It is an interview with Um Saleh, a woman who fled the city of Deir Ezzor with her family in 2013. Sitting on the banks of the Euphrates and located in the oil-rich desert bordering Iraq, Deir Ezzor is the largest city in north-east Syria, and has been of strategic importance to all contenders throughout the Syrian civil war. Initially held as a bastion of regime forces for the first years of the war, opposition forces took most of the city and province of Deir Ezzor in 2013. During the next two years, Daesh (ISIS) quickly came to dominate opposition held territory, putting pro-regime areas under a crippling siege. The presence of Daesh turned Deir Ezzor and its surrounding region into a target of heavy air-strikes from the international coalition fighting Daesh. </p><p class="western">The civilians that remained in Daesh-held territory faced a double fire: living under daily bombardment, whilst under the rule of a fundamentalist version of Sharia Law. Daesh militants needed civilians to live amongst so as to limit the intensification of air-strikes from the international coalition, whilst seeking popular legitimacy in the creation of the new Caliphate. </p> <p class="western">Nonetheless, thousands of people attempted to flee the city. For those who managed to escape, the risks were high, with few places where to seek for safety. Whilst going to Turkey or to Kurdish-held territories would have been the closest option for civilians in Deir Ezzor, the Turkish border remained shut to those who could not afford being smuggled in, whilst the Kurds often also denied free passage, fearing the presence of terrorists amongst the Arab refugees who had lived in Daesh-controlled areas.</p> <p class="western">For many families there was no other option but to attempt to flee to other areas inside Syria, or to further bordering Arab countries such as Iraq, Jordan or Lebanon. The story of Um Saleh, collected in November 2017 in a refugee camp in Lebanon's Bekka Valley, is the perspective of an average Syrian family from the outskirts of Deir Ezzor, who regrets the 2011 uprisings as having allowed such an escalation of violence and destruction in Syria. </p> <p class="western">Her experience represents only a fragment of the very complex puzzle of memories and positions Syrian civilians hold on the uprisings and the war that is tearing apart Syria, and should therefore be heard in relation to the contents expressed in the next forthcoming podcasts. </p> <p><strong>Listen to the podcast in English or in Arabic below</strong></p> <iframe width="100%" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/563413983&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true"></iframe> <iframe width="100%" height="300" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/563419845&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true"></iframe> <p>&nbsp;</p><p class="western" lang="it-IT">*Please note that all names have been changed to protect the anonymity of participants who, despite living in Lebanon, still fear for their lives. The views and opinions published on these podcasts are the participants alone and do not reflect the opinions of Brush&amp;Bow. </p><p class="western" lang="it-IT"><strong>Read the transcript:</strong></p><p> Podcast #1 Um Saleh – Life under ISIS</p> <p> <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Introduction: </span> </p> <p> <em>Welcome to Radio HAKAYA – </em><em>حكايا </em><em>the official podcast series of Brush and Bow. These podcasts report on stories and challenges of the Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian communities in Lebanon. By focusing on individual stories, we hope to convey the complex realities of life here in Lebanon: people’s memories, present experiences and hopes for the future. We would like to remind you that the views published on these podcasts are the participants alone and do not reflect the opinions of Brush and Bow.</em></p> <p> <em>Today’s podcast is an interview with Um Saleh, a Syrian woman from Deir Ezzor. Deir Ezzor is the largest city in Eastern Syria. Sitting on the shores of the Euphrates, close to the Iraqi border, it is a region known to be rich in oil. Um Saleh witnessed her city falling under the rule of ISIS in 2014, before attempting to flee to Kurdish held areas. Turned away on multiple occasions, she had no other choice but to flee with her family to Lebanon. In this interview, Um Saleh gives testimony to life under the self-proclaimed Islamic State, to the dangers of escaping their rule, and to the impossibility of return to her home. </em> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Interview</span>:</p> <p><strong>Um Saleh</strong>: we come from Der Al Zor city in Syria</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: how was it in Der Al Zor?</p> <p><strong>Um Saleh</strong>: Life was simple, nice…secure. We had schools and access to a good education. Every morning students attended their schools and people went to their jobs. Everything was available, I owned a nice house with a garden where I planted flowers and vegetables.</p> <p>We didn’t even need to have water tanks or barrels, like in Lebanon, since water was available straight from the taps.</p> <p>We had hot water, cold water, and water heaters, everything was available. The opposite of the life we live now. We could never have imagined what we live now, even in our worst nightmares.</p> <p>--</p> <p><strong>Um Saleh</strong>: The oil is definitely what gave Deir Ezzor its importance. Der Al Zor is the richest Syrian city in terms of oil as it has many wells. This was the reason the city was besieged by ISIS. When ISIS seized the city of Der Al Zor, they took control of all the oil wells, I lived and witnessed all of it. </p> <p>ISIS besieged the city as the city was held by regime forces. Many civilians ran out of food – no sugar, no bread – the city was choked by ISIS. A bag of sugar was worth so much it could be traded for a car.</p> <p>Military planes used to deliver food provisions to be distributed, first to the besieged soldiers, then to civilians. The soldiers would distribute provisions only once in a while. These food provisions consisted of a parcel containing 2 kilos of potatoes and a tomato paste jar, in order to get the parcel, you needed to stand in line or maybe sleep in the street for 2 to 3 days as priority was given to the soldiers and for the civilians it didn’t really matter whether we got the parcel or not. Back then 1 cucumber was sold at 1500 Syrian Liras.</p> <p>People became more like skeletons... If you wanted to flee you’d get killed!</p> <p>--</p> <p><strong>Um Saleh</strong>: There were 4 major players in Deir Al Zor; the regime, the Iranian militias, the Kurds (Democratic Syria Forces), and ISIS, none can deny that fact. ISIS once cracked into the Kurdish camp taking about 125 Syrian families as hostages.</p> <p>ISIS are not all foreigners. The majority are locals recruited via money; They target young males around 14-15 years old, from the uneducated population which form the majority of the people, especially among the Bedouins living in the desert who have spent their life raising sheep and never attended any school. ISIS could control them easily, giving about 50.000 - 60.000 Syrian Lira salaries, a uniform, a car, and a gun after training them how to use it. Such privileges gave the naïve adolescents authority.</p> <p>They also put the boys they had recruited through a 1-month course in order to educate them about jihad for the cause of Allah. They would tell them that if you got killed fighting jihad you would go to heavens where there would be virgins waiting for you. The boys would get brainwashed, and then even their parents can’t stop them from believing in what ISIS had told them. </p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: But where does ISIS get their money from? </p> <p><strong>Um Saleh</strong>: Definitely, the wealth of ISIS is the outcome of the oil wells they captured immediately after seizing control of the city. They dealt in USD which they weigh in scales rather than count. ISIS transferred money to Iraq in exchange for weapons. </p> <p>However, when a crisis took place in Der Al Zor and militias got divided, people tended to follow whoever they believed to be stronger. For example: if I belonged to Jabhat Al Nosra, whilst ISIS was becoming dominant, then I’d leave Al Nosra and join ISIS. Likewise, if the Kurds were dominant, I’d leave ISIS to join the Kurds, all according to who pays more.</p> <p>If you are a military officer general, brigadier general, or major and fled ISIS to the regime-dominated territory, ISIS won’t rob the house, but will use it.</p> <p>Living under ISIS you must stick by the laws; smoking is prohibited, and women must wear the niqab. I myself wore one, my daughter too, every woman had to wear a black niqab. High heels were prohibited, but we could use sneakers instead. There was no free will, you had to obey their laws. Violating the law meant that you would be punished. You might be arrested, jailed or lashed. And then put on a Shari’a, Islamic law course. </p> <p>Whoever was caught stealing was punished by having their hand cut off, if it was proved by 2 witnesses under oath, or if you were caught in the act. </p> <p>As for someone who is charged with dealing with the regime or any other party, the sentence was decapitation. Most of the beheaded bodies were not buried but rather thrown in a deep tunnel they had dug which I saw with my own eyes.</p> <p>--</p> <p><strong>Interviewer</strong>: How did you manage to escape? </p> <p><strong>Um Saleh</strong>: It was so risky, as it is impossible that ISIS would let you go. If they caught you trying to flee, they would ask ‘’you want to go to the land of the hypocrites and disbelievers?’’. If that was the case, you would be sentenced to death, you and all your family. The night we left, it was a dreadful night. We left under air raid strikes in the middle of the night. We fled through the orchids and trees in the outskirts of town. </p> <p>To reach the Kurdish border, we had to walk through a minefield as Isis planted mines throughout the countryside to separate themselves form the Kurds. So if you want to escape ISIS, you need a guide who knows how to safely walk routes on the minefields. Otherwise, a mine might explode killing or wounding you. These guides exchange their services for money. </p> <p>We walked for three days, only moving at night in total darkness. All lights were forbidden. And we formed a single line carefully following in the footsteps of our guide who kept telling us if we stepped a wrong foot and ended on a mine that would blow all of us up. </p> <p>Walking and resting, it took us 3 days in the desert to reach the Kurdish checkpoints. The kids and women were all crying. We were so tired and scared.</p> <p>--</p> <p><strong>Um Saleh</strong>: When we finally reached the Kurdish border, they asked us where we came from. When we said Deir Ezzor, they told us to turn around and go back where we came from.</p> <p>We told them: “we are civilians. We are not ISIS!” We were about 4 or 5 families, but they made all of us go back. </p> <p>--</p> <p><strong>Um Saleh:</strong> Before the revolution, we lived secure lives. Our children attended schools, men went to their work, and things worked perfectly. Now there is nothing left</p> <p>After the revolution, they sold everything, gangs came to rob and ruin our houses. This was terrorism, not a revolution. Imagine 20,000 fighters came to us, beheading, slaughtering, killing until blood filled the streets. Some of the bodies were eaten by dogs! What kind of revolution is that?! All the different brigades were fighting; fighters from Chechnya, Kazakhstan…even the Iranians and the Shia. All of them fought in Syria. </p> <p>It wasn’t only one side. It wasn’t regime vs. people. It wasn’t the people trying to topple the regime, but rather numerous combatants fighting. Killing civilians.</p> <p>Do you believe it was only the regime’s air raid strikes! There were also the Russian jets that slaughtered the civilians. Russia, Iran, and the regime strike targeting only the civilians among whom ISIS chose to stay, but where should the civilians escape to? The whole country was at war. </p> <p>We seek safety and security, not a new presidency. Only once we regain safety to return and rebuild our houses may the Syrian people return - whether the president is Assad or not. </p> <p>Bashar or not! This is not the people’s concern; the main concern is security and having a means of living - what more can a human being seek?</p> <p>---</p> <p><em>This Was Radio Hakaya. Thank you for listening.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/palestine-s-forgotten-refugees-in-lebanon">Palestine’s forgotten refugees in Lebanon</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anton-mukhamedov/forgotten-history-of-revolutionary-raqqa-and-its-deep-wounds">The forgotten history of revolutionary Raqqa, and its deep wounds</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Lebanon </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Lebanon Syria refugees podcasts Radio Hakaya Thu, 07 Feb 2019 07:00:20 +0000 Radio Hakaya 121558 at https://www.opendemocracy.net I am not a criminal, I am an artist https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/maria-da-f/i-am-not-criminal-i-am-artist <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The story of three Moroccan dancers who despite having valid Visas, were refused entry, locked up, and deported by the Dutch authorities. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/640px-Vertekhal_Eindhoven_airport.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/640px-Vertekhal_Eindhoven_airport.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Eindhoven Airport. source: wikimedia.</span></span></span>On January 10, 2019, hip-hop dancers Hamza, 20, Bourich Omar and Ahmed, 21, arrive at passport control at the Eindhoven airport in the Netherlands. In their hands, they have their Schengen* visas (3 months, multiple entries), which were delivered to them by the Dutch consulate in Casablanca on December 28, 2018. </p> <p class="western">The passport control agent asks them to state the purpose of their trip, their place of residence during their stay in the Netherlands and the amount of money they have on them. The three dancers are there to participate in an international hip-hop Battle that will be held in the city on January 12. Their return flights have been paid for and are scheduled for January 17 (Hamza and Omar) and 22 (Ahmed). In Eindhoven, their Dutch dancer friends and hosts are expecting them. Between the three of them, they have about 300 euros in their pockets. Hamza and Omar have already been to Europe (France, Netherlands), invited by Battle and hip-hop festival organizers. They are known on the Moroccan scene and are part of <a href="https://www.facebook.com/The-lions-crew-574667515878912/">The Lions Crew Collective</a>, which was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/26/style/morocco-break-dancing.html">praised</a> by the New York Times in May 2018. As for Ahmed, it’s his first time in Europe.</p> <p class="western">The passport control agent doesn’t want to hear any of it. He makes them wait for several hours in an office, where they are interrogated several times by other agents. They are searched and then transferred to a police station outside the airport, where they undergo another interrogation: “are you suicidal?,” “are you sexually active?”. These are some of the questions that they are asked, separately, each locked in a different office. Terrified, they tell the agents again and again that they have their visas, to no avail. They sign documents in Dutch that they don’t understand: “We were scared. When we signed, we thought we would be released.” </p> <p class="western">“I am not a criminal, I am an artist,” Hamza repeats, in vain.</p> <p class="western">The agents inform the three dancers that they are not allowed into the Netherlands for “insufficient means of subsistence” and insufficient justification for the purpose of their stay.</p> <p class="western">However, Hamza, Omar and Ahmed are not sent back to Morocco. They are loaded into a van and transferred to a detention centre for undocumented migrants in Rotterdam, a two-hour drive away from the city where their plane landed, despite the fact that they have both valid passports and visas. Hamza and Omar will remain in detention there from January 10 to 15. Ahmed will stay there until the 17th.</p> <p class="western">When they arrive at the centre late in the evening of January 10, they don’t really know where they are nor why. It’s not a prison, they’re told, it’s a centre for undocumented migrants. </p> <p class="western">They don’t know how long they’re going to stay.</p> <p class="western">At the centre, their cellphones and some of their belongings are confiscated and placed in plastic bags. They undergo a body search and are scanned from head to toe. Payment cards containing the sums they had on them, plus 10 euros, are handed to them. They will use the cards to pay for their purchases and their phone calls in the detention centre.</p> <p>Ahmed and Hamza are locked up together in a cell. Omar is in another: “I was scared, I didn’t want to be alone. I begged them to let me stay with my friends, even if it meant sleeping on the ground.” In vain. </p><p class="western">In the cell, there are bunk beds, a TV, a microwave oven and a landline phone.</p> <p class="western">The next day, they are allowed to leave their cells, but are then locked up from noon to 2 p.m., and then locked up again at 10 p.m., for the night. They make friends with Moroccans of all ages, who take a liking to these three boys who have no reason to be there: “many people told us we had to get a lawyer in Morocco and file a complaint against the Dutch state.”</p> <p class="western">With their payment cards, Hamza, Omar and Ahmed call their families and notify <a href="http://luzine.ma/">l’Uzine</a>, the cultural centre in Casablanca where they rehearse and create.</p> <p class="western">On Saturday January 12, two days after their arrival at the centre , they meet a lawyer who has been assigned to their case. He asks them the same questions they were asked before: why did you come to the Netherlands? Did you plan on staying? </p> <p class="western">They give the same answers. The lawyer promises that he’ll come back the next day. They never see him again.</p> <p class="western">On Sunday, they receive a visit from a high Moroccan official in the Netherlands, who has been informed of their case by l’Uzine, the cultural centre in Casablanca. The dignitary comforts them but cannot do anything to get them out immediately. He informs them that they will be sent back to Morocco, but even he doesn’t know when.</p> <p class="western">On Tuesday, January 15, agents come to get Hamza and Omar, but not Ahmed. The two boys think they are going to be freed. They are, in fact, loaded into a van again, each locked in a box, brought back to the police station in Eindhoven, and finally back to the airport where they first arrived. They wait for several hours inside a vehicle on the tarmac, before being handed over to the flight staff of a Ryanair flight to Marrakech. Without their passports.</p> <p class="western">In Marrakech, they are picked up by local authorities as soon as the plane reaches the gate: “we crossed the entire airport escorted by the police officers, as if we were dangerous criminals. Everyone at the airport was watching us.”</p> <p class="western">Omar and Hamza end up at the central police station in Marrakech, where they are interrogated at length before being released. They finally pick up their passports: their 3-month Schengen visas have been covered with a red stamp, cancelled by the Dutch authorities.</p> <p class="western">On January 17, Ahmed undergoes the same treatment.</p> <p class="western">Today, the three artists still don’t understand why they were locked up and sent back to Morocco: “What happened to us is an injustice. We demand an explanation and an apology from the Dutch State. We ask to be reimbursed for the expenses we made towards this trip. We want to be sure that what happened to us will not happen to other artists and that we will still be able to travel and participate in international Battles and festivals in Europe. As artists, it’s our right.”</p> <p class="western">*The Schengen visas were delivered to the three artists after the following documents were submitted and approved by the Dutch consulate: a visa application, a declaration of celibacy, proof of schooling, proof of sponsorship by a legal guardian, the guardian’s bank statements, proof of international insurance, copies of the previously delivered Schengen visas, etc. On the website <span><a href="http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/" target="_blank">www.schengenvisainfo.com</a></span>, it is clearly stipulated that: “A Schengen visa is a document that is delivered by the relevant authorities to an interested party to visit/travel to and within the Schengen Area. A Schengen visa obtained through one of the member countries allows free travel within the Schengen Area, including within EU members states as well as within EFTA member states, until its expiry date.”</p><p><strong>Translated by Lara Bourdin </strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/allie-funk/now-streaming-censorship">Now streaming: censorship</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/arabian-street-artists/political-protest-not-for-sale">Political protest not for sale!</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/nadje-al-ali/double-standards-applied-to-academic-freedom">The double standards applied to academic freedom</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Morocco </div> <div class="field-item even"> Netherlands </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Netherlands Morocco borders human rights migration Maria Daïf Wed, 06 Feb 2019 12:58:49 +0000 Maria Daïf 121592 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The revolution in Sudan: let it fall https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/hala-al-karib/revolution-in-sudan-let-it-fall <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The will of the Sudanese youth is unmasking the dogma of a violent regime.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Screenshot 2019-01-31 at 10.22.52.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Screenshot 2019-01-31 at 10.22.52.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="261" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstration in Omdurman on Jan 20, 2019. Screenshot from a video by @CivildisobedienceinSudan</span></span></span>Revolution has begun in Sudan as of mid-December. It is over for the current Sudanese regime; there is no going back. The world and the leadership of the African continent should take serious notice; stop the bloodshed, and extend solidarity to the country that lies right at the heart of Africa. </p><p class="western">It has been almost 30 years since the current Sudanese regime took over the country through a military coup in June 1989. A combination of political Islamic elites of the National Islamic Front and ideologized military officers overthrew a struggling multiparty government under the banner of national salvation. Since then, the future of the country has changed drastically, and taken a sharp turn backwards.</p> <p class="western">I was 21 at the time and I felt in my gut that our lives would never be the same again. I still remember that day in the winter of 1990 coming back to the faculty of education campus in Omdurman with my colleague Mubarak.&nbsp; I was wearing the fashion of the time: a loose skirt below the knees, short hair around my face and a short blouse ending right at the belt of my skirt. Mubarak was in jeans and a wide Damour shirt, when we were stopped randomly by the police and taken to the police station.&nbsp; We were coming from a political meeting that had taken place on campus.&nbsp; I was worried about the small notebook in my purse and whether Mubarak had any political documents on him. To our surprise the conversation the police wanted to have had nothing to do with our politics.&nbsp; Instead, I was interrogated about my short blouse, short sleeves, and uncovered hair. Mubarak was only questioned about his background: where was he from, and why was a boy from Nuba walking around with a girl from central Sudan?</p> <p class="western">From that moment it became very obvious that we were entering into a new era of politics. The new regime undid what the ruling Sudanese elites had tried to attain during the early post-colonial era, which was to establish a political system that was largely based on civil politics. This is not to say that the earlier Sudanese governments were without their own failures. The mistreatment of the South Sudanese people was a tragedy that would come to haunt Sudan.&nbsp; The democracy was fragile, and these weaknesses would come to be violently exploited by the coup of 1989.</p> <p class="western">The military coup was masterminded by the National Islamic Front –NIF, a Sudanese extension of the Muslim Brotherhood organization.&nbsp; However, the NIF was also clearly inspired by the model of the Islamic Republic of Iran, consisting of a supreme, spiritual leader (presumed to be Hassan Al-Turabi) and an executive body of military and civilian politicians from the NIF leadership.</p> <p class="western">Islam has always been the symbolic focal point among the Sudanese people, the vast majority of whom are Muslim. Their faith largely represents who they are, and it is what brought them together as a hybrid nation. However, most Sudanese Muslims followed the North and Western African Sufi traditions, which were deeply ingrained in Sudanese identity and their approach to life. Endurance, tolerance, spirituality and diversity are central values in the majority of the Sufi orders’ guidance. To impose an alien violent and repressive ideology such as their version of militant Islam on Sudan was not easy.&nbsp; The NIF did what fascist regimes do everywhere: they resorted to violence.</p> <p class="western">Since then, Sudan has entered into a dark era in history, an era that has been marked by identity politics and religious militancy where women are demonized for their gender and the poor and ethnic minorities are excluded, humiliated, and publicly persecuted.</p> <p class="western">For 30 years the Sudanese regime has capitalized on two major pressure points to cripple Sudanese society: women and gender relations on the one hand, and tribalism and ethnic identity on the other. The regime saw clearly that those two factors were aspects of Sudanese society that remained unresolved within the boundaries of the hybrid young nation. The NIF then selected the most powerful method to inflict their polarizing politics and that was through Islamic religion. And it worked.</p> <p class="western">For&nbsp;30 years the NIF controlled the country under the guise of religion. They intimidated the Sudanese people, killed and tortured critics, flogged and disrespected women and men, challenged our traditional values and faith, and spread misogyny and racism. The regime carried out a comprehensive social and economic project based on total domination by controlling all the resources of the country. Then they effectively used the rule of law to terrorize society and integrate a violent militant version of religion into Sudan’s laws and education. The laws they came up with had no grounding in the Islamic religion or tradition. The episodes of terror orchestrated by the Sudanese regime were arbitrary and continuous.&nbsp;</p> <p class="western">The NIF’s actions have had a terrible impact on Sudan’s public services and education, and directly led to the collapse of our country’s most important public institutions. Millions of people have fled the country, making Sudan one of the leading countries in terms of emigration. Meanwhile, the regime initiated a sequence of wars against its own people. In Darfur in 2003 the death toll and displacement &nbsp;reached into the millions. As of 2011, the NIF added to their record wars in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains, where they have terrorised and killed civilians for nearly 10 years. Despite these horrors, the NIF regime portrays itself as the guardian of the Muslim faith, not only nationally but also internationally, planting seeds for Islamist terror groups such as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab.</p> <p class="western">The years of egotistical tactics, corruption, injustice and systematic violence against civilians are ending. The people have spoken and unmasked the tyrants of dogma. They cannot hide anymore. The Sudanese youth are chanting: We denounce the religious brokers. Let it fall. It is already falling apart, and the Sudanese are well prepared to claim their country back.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nicholas-gjorvad/sudanese-protests-and-legacy-of-arab-uprisings">The Sudanese protests and the legacy of the Arab uprisings</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/elfadil-ibrahim/sudan-and-uphill-war-on-inflation-context-and-bleak-prospects">Sudan and the uphill war on inflation: context and bleak prospects</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/arwa-elsanosi/no-revolution-this-october-sudan-s-green-october-and-arab-spring">No revolution this year: Sudan’s October Revolution and the Arab Spring</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hala-alkarib/horn-of-africa-countering-violent-extremism">Horn of Africa: there are no quick fixes in ‘countering violent extremism’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Sudan Democracy and government revolution Arab uprisings Hala al-Karib Tue, 05 Feb 2019 07:00:01 +0000 Hala al-Karib 121510 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egypt: a horror story https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/egypt-horror-story <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An attempt to remember, and cope with a trauma that pervades the lives of millions of Egyptians.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Dw27HtsWsAAlB4d.jpg large.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Dw27HtsWsAAlB4d.jpg large.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Imprisoned Egyptian satirist Shady Abu Zeid during his father’s funeral. Source: Twitter.</span></span></span></p><h3>Scene One </h3><p>President Abdelfattah Al Sissi, Egypt`s military autocrat is having an <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/egypt-president-abdel-fattah-el-sisi-denies-holding-political-prisoners/">interview</a> with the American television program 60 minutes, on CBS. Unlike other interviews, with the Egyptian media, the President seems tense, with visible beads of sweat on his face and around his lips, as he denies the existence of political prisoners in the country, in-spite of the interviewer confronting him with a Human Rights Watch report, claiming the existence of, at least, <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/07/egypt-little-truth-al-sisis-60-minutes-responses">60000</a> political prisoners. Later in the interview, the President claims that the Rabba sit-in, the protest camp set-up by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, after the coup of 2013 that brought Sissi to power, was an armed sit-in. The dispersal of the protest camp led to the death of a minimum of <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/08/12/all-according-plan/raba-massacre-and-mass-killings-protesters-egypt">817 protestors</a>. The interviewer then confronts Sissi that based on the figures released by the Egyptian government, only a handful of weapons were found in the protests camp. Sissi continues his denials, and questions the credibility of the figures. </p> <h3>Scene 2 </h3> <p>It has been over 115 days since the disappearance of Mostafa El-Naggar. Mostafa was a prominent leader of the 25th of January mass protests, in 2011, which led to the overthrow of Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak. He was also a Member of Parliament during Egypt`s brief democratic experiment in 2012. After the coup of 2013. El-Naggar has kept a low public profile, trying to steer away from politics, and to focus on charity work. He is embroiled in a case, related to “insulting the judiciary”, where he has been sentenced to three years in prison. The case appears to be politically motivated. The Egyptian government <a href="http://www.sis.gov.eg/Story/135713/Mostafa-El-Naggar-is-not-in-custody-and-the-authorities-have-no-knowledge-of-his-whereabouts?lang=en-us">has denied</a> that it is holding El-Naggar, and there are <a href="https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/friends-disappeared-egyptian-activist-fear-he-was-killed-border-guards-1233719018">unconfirmed reports</a> that he was killed by border patrols as he was trying to cross the border into Sudan. The fate of El-Naggar remains unknown, however, as time passes, the bleakest possibilities for this father of three becomes more probable. </p> <h3>Scene 3 </h3> <p>The funeral of the father of Shady Abou-Zeid, an Egyptian comedian and satirist. Shady is currently being held by the security forces under charges of belonging to an outlawed group, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2016, Shady did a publicity stunt on the anniversary of the mass protests, where he distributed inflated condoms to members of the security forces, and published the spectacle on social media. In 2018 he <a href="https://madamasr.com/en/2018/05/06/news/u/lawyer-satirical-blogger-shady-abu-zeid-arrested-during-dawn-raid-whereabouts-remain-unknown/">was arrested</a>, and remains in police custody. During his imprisonment, his father`s health deteriorated, some say, partially, due to the stress of his son’s arrest. As Shady`s father was moved to intensive care, Shady was not allowed to visit him, until the father passed away. Shady was only allowed to see his father, after his death, where we was allowed to bury him, under heavy security. The drama reaches its climax when Shady was released from his cuffs so that he can bow down and kiss his father`s head, a heart breaking scene. He was then taken back to his prison cell, still awaiting trial. </p> <h3>Scene 4 </h3> <p>In December 2018, a tourbus, carrying Vietnamese tourists was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/28/bomb-attack-tourist-bus-giza-pyramids-egypt">attacked</a> by a roadside bomb in Giza. The attack lead to the death of four people. In response, the Egyptian security forces announce the <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/29/egyptian-authorities-kill-40-terrorists-giza-tour-bus-bombing/">liquidation of 40 militants</a>. The following day, in a series of raids in Giza and Northern Sinai. No connection was made between the 40 militants and the attack on the tourist bus, opening the door to speculations that this was another case of extra-judicial killings. In 2018 a <a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180508-leaked-video-appears-to-show-extrajudicial-execution-in-sinai/">video</a> appeared, showing the security forces staging what appears to be the aftermath of a armed fight, after the execution of unarmed men, in a proven case of extra-judicial killing. The video was shot in Sinai. In a <a href="https://thenewkhalij.news/%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D9%84%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87-%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D8%A8%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A3%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%86">media appearance</a> a retired police general, in an attempt to minimize the impact of the attack, stated: “Thank God the victims did not include any Americans or Europeans”, reflecting the overt racist tendencies that pervade the Egyptian state, a racist logic that it uses against its own citizenry.</p> <h3>Scene 5 </h3> <p>It has been, <a href="https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/78014">almost, three years since</a> the body of the Italian PhD student, Giulio Regeni, was found in a ditch in Cairo, carrying the marks of severe torture. Regeni, who was registered in Cambridge, was researching Egyptian labour unions, a politically sensitive topic in the country. When his body was found, the Egyptian security forces first stated the cause of death to be a car accident, then a quarrel with a gay lover, finally in another shoot-out that killed five people, that state declared that it was a gang that abducted and tortured Regeni. All of these causes were dismissed by the Italian authorities, especially after the Egyptian security forces admitted that they were monitoring Regeni, but denied his abduction. The autopsy report shows that Regeni was tortured for days, attributing the cause of death to be a broken neck due to blunt force trauma. In late 2018, the Italian authorities identified five Egyptian security officers, including a high-ranking officer, as possible suspects, in the abduction and murder of Regeni. The case remains open, with little progress made in the legal proceeding against the accused. Regeni would have turned 31, last January. </p> <h3>Closing scene </h3> <p>It has been eight years since the eruption of the mass protests in 2011, which toppled Mubarak. The trauma of the past years on the generation of young men and women that took to the streets is deep and lasting. Thousands are in jail, dead, or in exile, and the military regime has a tight grip on power. The defeat is almost total, and the Egyptian opposition is in shambles, both secular and Islamist, mostly, from self-inflicted wounds. Both camps, cooperated with the military, at different stages of the tragedy, to oust and silence the other camp, and in the end, the military annihilated them both. The tragic part is that until now, there has been very little reflection or change in direction within the circles of the opposition. The Muslim Brotherhood has yet to accept responsibility for it’s major errors, nor has the secular opposition fully accepted the notion that the 30th of June was a full-fledged military coup, and acknowledged its role in it, nor is there an awareness that the real struggle, is, indeed, with the Egyptian military capitalist caste, and that what is required is a protracted struggle, not only at the political level, but also at the social and economic levels against Egypt’s crony, military, capitalist class. </p> <p> In the meantime, social media is flooded with pictures of those that are laying in prison, or those that lost their lives in the struggle, with many more, remaining unknown, in an attempt to remember, and cope with a trauma, that pervades the lives of millions of Egyptians. As the days drag on, we do what we can, we wait for the end of our exile, those that have been exiled from society, laying in dark cells, and those that have been exiled from their homes, scattered across the globe. We wait for the unexpected, for the spark that will light the fire that will bring the long awaited light, hoping that this is, indeed, the calm before the storm!</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ahmed-elsayed/battle-over-memory-of-egypt-s-revolution">The battle over the memory of Egypt’s revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/state-violence-and-illusions-of-modernity-in-egypt">State violence and the illusions of modernity in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/mo-salah-revolution-and-egypt-s-defeat">Mo Salah, the revolution and Egypt’s defeat</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Democracy and government revolution human rights dictatorship Arab uprisings Maged Mandour Mon, 04 Feb 2019 07:00:01 +0000 Maged Mandour 121505 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Sudanese protests and the legacy of the Arab uprisings https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/nicholas-gjorvad/sudanese-protests-and-legacy-of-arab-uprisings <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Despite the factors working against the Sudanese protesters, there is a real hope that their primary goals can prevail.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-37653690.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-37653690.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="349" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum, Sudan, on July 19, 2018. Picture by MENA/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>The <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46940531">continuation</a> of the protests against longtime authoritarian leader Omar al-Bashir in Sudan have understandably been receiving increasing media attention due to the prospect of real political change in the country. Protests, demonstrations, and strikes have now lasted more than a month and have certainly rattled the ruling regime in Sudan as well as several other regional powers fearful of popular protests spreading throughout the region and challenging their own rule. The unrest in Sudan has its <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sudan-protests-bashir-explainer/explainer-protesters-in-sudan-want-end-to-bashirs-30-year-rule-idUSKCN1P91NF?il=0">roots</a> both in economic hardships caused by cuts to subsidies, shortages of food staples, and foreign currency shortages as well as deeper political grievances stemming from the authoritarian and often brutal rule of al-Bashir. </p> <p>The protests against al-Bashir are by no means unprecedented in Sudan, especially in the last decade. For example, the beginning of the 2011 Arab uprisings in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt helped inspire similar <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/world/africa/03sudan.html">protests</a> in Sudan which focused on worsening economic conditions and the lack of political freedom. In <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/27/sudanese-protesters-attacked-march-fuel-subsidies">2013</a> and again in <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sudan-economy-protests-idUSKBN13R0IM">2016</a>, protests erupted having been caused by a number of similar political and economic grievances. The most recent string of protests, beginning in December 2018, show no signs of tapering off and may serve as a more serious challenge to the rule of al-Bashir than ever before. In highlighting the uniqueness of this round of protests, some observers have <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/12/28/recent-protests-in-sudan-are-much-more-than-bread-riots/?utm_term=.be88311c275b">pointed to</a> these protests’ longevity as well as a number of other factors such as apparent rifts within al-Bashir’s own political party and the unity between opposition groups against the ruling regime. </p> <p>The legacy of the 2011 Arab uprisings’ initial successes may give hope that continued protests and demonstrations can bring about real political change. However, while this hope may be inspiring to those taking part in these protests, another legacy of these uprisings may also be hindering those who wish to see tangible political and economic changes in Sudan. In reality, there are at least three factors that are working against the protesters that stem from regional changes resulting from the Arab uprisings.</p> <h3><strong>What </strong><strong>a</strong><strong>uthoritarian </strong><strong>r</strong><strong>egimes </strong><strong>h</strong><strong>ave </strong><strong>l</strong><strong>earned since the Arab </strong><strong>uprisings</strong></h3> <p>Longtime president Omar al-Bashir rose to power in 1989 as a result of a coup and has, in the years since, solidified his power through a number of <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/31/africa/sudan-protests-analysis-intl/index.html">means</a>. Security forces loyal to al-Bashir have a history of reacting <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/07/sudan-security-forces-killing-detaining-protesters">violently</a> to protests and dissent in Sudan. In the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, there was sure to be reflection and lessons learned from leaders in the Middle East (and beyond) about how to avoid the growth and continuation of protests which eventually led to political change. While other authoritarian leaders in pre-Arab uprisings times certainly had robust security forces to deal with protests, the uprisings provided an illustrative reminder of how protests can grow and eventually represent real challenge to one’s rule. </p> <p>The lesson for some leaders seems to be that only strong shows of force will effectively stifle protests. Al-Bashir’s strategy in Sudan appears to employ this tactic. Sudan security forces have, according to some reports, <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/sudan-official-death-toll-protests-rises-24-190113065645372.html">arrested</a> upwards of 1,000 activists and protesters sending a clear message that the ruling government is taking a tough line against any demonstrations. At least a few dozen individuals have been <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/18/africa/sudan-protest-deaths-intl/index.html">killed</a> since the beginning of this round of protests, and there are even reports that doctors and other individuals giving aid to wounded protesters have been <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-46916169">targeted</a> by security forces. While the arrests of, and violence against, protesters may inspire others to join in the protests to take a stand against an authoritarian regime, the threat of arrest or violence is also used by al-Bashir to remind them of the potentially high price of participation. </p> <p>One more point should be made here concerning the legacy of the Arab uprisings and the future of the authoritarian rulers that it drives from power. In Tunisia, Zine al-Abidine <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12195025">B</a><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12195025">en Ali</a> was forced to flee the country, while in Egypt, Husni <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/03/hosni-mubarak-trial-cairo-egypt">Mubarak</a> faced a number of court cases that centered on corruption and the killing of protesters. While these outcomes demonstrated a few of the consequences for longtime authoritarians when they relinquished power, the gruesome killing of Muammar <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-15389550">Gaddafi</a> in Libya serves as a starker reminder yet of what could possibly happen if a ruler is overthrown. In the case of al-Bashir, there may be little reason for any meaningful political concessions that limit his time in power in light of the possible consequences on his own future as demonstrated by the consequences for other leaders in the wake of the Arab uprisings.</p> <h3><strong>Regional </strong><strong>p</strong><strong>owers’ </strong><strong>s</strong><strong>upport for al-Bashir</strong></h3> <p>At first glance it may seem as though countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would be unsympathetic to an Islamist president such as al-Bashir facing serious challenges to his rule. Moreover, some may also think that countries such as Turkey and Egypt, having been at loggerheads over a number of issues in the last several years, would also be at odds about the future of al-Bashir in Sudan in one way or another. However, it seems that one <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2019/01/12/sudan-khartoum-backers-maintain-support-as-anti-bashir-protests-grow/">common thread</a> running through capitals in the Middle East region is to see al-Bashir remain firmly in control. For many of the regional powers, the foremost reason is that they do not wish to see another instance of popular revolution in the Arab speaking world that drives an authoritarian leader from power. This would, the thinking goes, perhaps inspire protests and calls for change in their own countries. The calculation of countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE appears to be that the success of protests to topple an authoritarian regime far outweighs any previous disagreements with Sudan, which were plentiful in the past. </p> <p>While Saudi Arabia and the UAE certainly showed support for Mubarak in the face of the 2011 protests in Egypt, this did not ultimately protect his rule. However, this does not mean that strong financial support to a country that deeply needs to quell economic complaints for the time being may be just enough to stop protests from growing and to placate some segments of protesters. Money helps, especially when economic woes are one of the primary driving factors behind protests. It goes without saying that regional powers such as the UAE certainly seem willing to spend <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-18/u-a-e-lending-300-million-to-crisis-hit-sudan-official-says">money</a> in Sudan in the midst of this crisis to prevent more upheaval in the region. Al-Bashir may be able to use this financial help to temporarily placate some groups which would weaken the overall number of demonstrators taking part in the protests. While it seems unlikely that protests would completely subside, taking the edge off some of the economic factors driving the protests may assist al-Bashir by helping stunt the growth and longevity of these demonstrations. &nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>World </strong><strong>p</strong><strong>owers,</strong> <strong>s</strong><strong>tability, and </strong><strong>k</strong><strong>eeping the </strong><strong>s</strong><strong>tatus </strong><strong>q</strong><strong>uo</strong> </h3> <p>One would think that the idea of removing a longtime authoritarian leader, especially one who has had an arrest warrant issued by the <a href="https://www.icc-cpi.int/darfur/albashir">International Criminal Court</a>, would be a welcome development from the perspective of many western countries. However, there does not appear to be any real support for the protests from western powers apart from <a href="https://www.thenational.ae/world/africa/us-and-other-countries-concerned-by-sudanese-protests-crackdown-1.806305">statements</a> that express some apprehensions about the way with which the protests are being dealt. </p> <p>The desire for political stability in the Middle East, especially considering the chaos stemming from the Arab uprisings, is sought after for a number of world powers and most likely accounts for this subdued response. While a number of western countries may have deep reservations about the continued rule of al-Bashir, there does not seem to be any strong support to see him removed with the possibility of wider political instability if he would lose control of the country. It is clear that one of the principal reasons for this has to be the effect of increased migration to Europe stemming from the conflicts in Syria and Libya. European countries do not want more instability in the Horn of Africa and North Africa in light of what has been declared by many as an ‘immigration <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/15/what-current-scale-migration-crisis-europe-future-outlook">crisis</a>’. This is because Sudan has been reportedly helping to stem the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/22/world/africa/migration-european-union-sudan.html">flow</a> of migrants to Europe. This in itself is a clear reason as to why European countries would be hesitant to see the collapse of al-Bashir’s rule. </p> <p>The threat of regional instability in North Africa and the Horn of Africa, the desire to stem migration to Europe, and the overall fear of repeating rather chaotic political changes and transitions in countries that were involved in the Arab uprisings appear to be strong factors that have led to a lack of international support for the demonstrations in Sudan. This issue goes beyond Europe and also involves other world powers. For instance, the promotion of democracy around the world does not appear to be of great concern in President Trump’s foreign policy and little can be expected of the United States in this regard. Moreover, <a href="http://www.africanews.com/2019/01/12/sudan-khartoum-backers-maintain-support-as-anti-bashir-protests-grow/">China and Russia</a> also have interests in Sudan and clearly do not wish to see political instability there nor would be interested in seeing grassroots political action lead to political change. It should be noted that even if other countries put more diplomatic pressure on Sudan there is some uncertainly how much effect this might have. After all, Sudan has faced sanctions before and it is unclear what strong mechanisms foreign powers could apply if they wished to exact pressure for the sake of political change. </p><h3><strong>The </strong><strong>f</strong><strong>uture of the </strong><strong>p</strong><strong>rotests</strong></h3> <p>All this is not to say that the protests and opposition against Omar al-Bashir’s rule will fail to have some effect or even eventually lead to leadership change in Sudan. However, there appears to be a number of issues working against the Sudanese protesters, especially in light of the regional effects that are still being felt after the Arab uprisings. The fatigue with the possible risk of further political and social unrest in North Africa and the Horn of Africa is certainly a factor that will continue to persist both inside and outside the region going forward. </p> <p>Even with all of this working against the Sudanese protesters, there is nonetheless a real hope that their primary goals can prevail. Protests concerning economic and political problems have been increasingly common in Sudan and the lack of any real progress to address these issues could further drive them as we have already witnessed. Perhaps these protests and the activists feel as though there is nothing to lose and will continue on while divisions within al-Bashir’s ruling party weaken his grip on power. The developing situation in Sudan will be instructive concerning the future of protests and political change in the Middle East and the North African region especially concerning the strong currents working against democratic change in the region. The protesters in Sudan have shown resiliency and may demonstrate that even with these challenges, real political change in the Arab speaking world may still be possible.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/elfadil-ibrahim/sudan-and-uphill-war-on-inflation-context-and-bleak-prospects">Sudan and the uphill war on inflation: context and bleak prospects</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/arwa-elsanosi/no-revolution-this-october-sudan-s-green-october-and-arab-spring">No revolution this year: Sudan’s October Revolution and the Arab Spring</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hala-alkarib/horn-of-africa-countering-violent-extremism">Horn of Africa: there are no quick fixes in ‘countering violent extremism’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sudan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Sudan Civil society Democracy and government revolution protests Nicholas Gjorvad Fri, 01 Feb 2019 07:00:01 +0000 Nicholas Gjorvad 121507 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A spectre is haunting Iran: the curious revival of monarchism https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ehsan-abdoh-tabrizi/spectre-is-haunting-iran-curious-revival-of-monarchism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Iran’s monarchism has regained much prestige and legitimacy, but is the claimant to the throne equal to the task?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/1024px-Reza_Pahlavi_(21659754514).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/1024px-Reza_Pahlavi_(21659754514).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Reza Pahlavi, speaking at an event hosted by the Center for Political Thought & Leadership at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Picture by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. </span></span></span>Four decades ago, on January 16th 1979, the last Shah of Iran left the country to the jubilation of millions of Iranians and the amazement of the world. Unnerved by massive protests, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had lost the will to fight for his crown and country. Two weeks later, the charismatic leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran in triumph and embarked upon establishing his Islamic government. And yet, as the 40th anniversary of the 1979 revolution approaches, a spectre is haunting Iran, a spectre of monarchism. </p><p><span><a href="https://www.vox.com/world/2018/1/3/16841310/iran-protests-2018">Iran’s 2017 nationwide protests</a></span> had some unique features, dissimilar to those of the previous mass protests against <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jun/14/iran-ahmadinejad-mousavi-elections-result">the 2009 ‘electoral coup</a></span>’. Notably, the 2017 protests had neither leadership nor any immediate political demand, but a wholehearted political message was evident: the protesters rejected the Islamic Republic as a whole. Radical slogans, such as ‘<span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/30/iran-protests-trump-tweets">death to Khamenei</a></span>!’ (the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader) were chanted without hesitation. The protesters demonstrated absolute contempt for the Shia clerical establishment by chanting “<span><a href="https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/01/02/protests-have-engulfed-several-cities-in-iran">people</a><a href="https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/01/02/protests-have-engulfed-several-cities-in-iran"> are paupers, while mullahs live like gods</a></span>”. State-funded religious schools <span><a href="https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1130696/iran-protests-target-basij-religious-schools-offices">were attacked and set ablaze</a></span> and <span><a href="https://www.khabaronline.ir/news/745371/%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%87-%D9%82%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B7%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%B9%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%A8-%D8%AE%D8%B4%D9%85-%D8%AF%D8%B4%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B4%D8%AF-%D8%AD%D9%85%D9%84%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%D8%B1">about 60 offices</a></span> of state-appointed Friday Imams were vandalized.</p> <p>Another curious feature of the 2017 protests was an adulation of the Pahlavi era. The tone of this esteem differed from one area to the other; most were nostalgic but some demanded the return of the monarchy. These chants were heard in the supposed heartlands of the Islamic Republic, the holy cities of Mashhad and Qom. Protesters in Mashhad shouted, “<span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu7jnWZYOe0">w</a>here there is no Shah, there is no order</span>” and their compatriots in Qom echoed “<span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N29DG02vCFc">oh Shah of Iran, come back to Iran</a></span>”. Similar slogans were heard in Isfahan, and the city’s Friday Imam, allegedly, <span><a href="https://iranwire.com/fa/features/24316">confessed</a></span> that hearing praise of the Pahlavi dynasty was the most shocking thing to him.</p> <p>The earliest signs of Pahlavi’s rehabilitation was displayed only a few years after the revolution, when the Islamic Republic proved itself to be more totalitarian and brutal than the Shah’s regime had ever been. <span><a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520085039/khomeinism">Khomeinism</a></span> was at the peak of its’ power, waging a crusade to Islamize all aspects of life in Iran and export the Islamic revolution to the world. All political groups who did not conform to this message were savagely suppressed, thousands of Iranians were executed and tens of thousands were imprisoned. The scope of the regime’s brutality was such that <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/iran-blog/2015/oct/23/iran-grand-ayatollah-montazeri-dissident-mullah-supreme-leader">Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri</a></span> (designated successor of Khomeini) made humane treatment of political prisoners his top priority. In one of his customary outspoken letters to Khomeini in October 1986, Montazeri asked: </p> <p> “Do you know that in the Islamic Republic’s prisons, crimes are committed in the name of Islam, the likes of which never happened under the rule of the wretched Shah?”</p> <p>Montazeri’s opposition to the regime’s murderous propensity reached a breaking point after the <span><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/12/iran-committing-crimes-against-humanity-by-concealing-fate-of-thousands-of-slaughtered-political-dissidents/">mass execution</a><a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/12/iran-committing-crimes-against-humanity-by-concealing-fate-of-thousands-of-slaughtered-political-dissidents/"> of political prisoners in 1988</a></span>. He was removed from office and lived in open opposition to the regime till the end of his life.</p> <p>Revisionism of the Pahlavi era steadily grew in the next two decades. In 2001, a favourable biography of the Shah’s longest serving Prime Minister, Amir-Abbas Hoveyda received license for publication. Written by Abbas Milani of Stanford University, the book has since been reprinted more than 40 times. Rehabilitation of the Pahlavi era further progressed when the hopes for Islamic Republic’s gradual metamorphosis into a Middle Eastern democracy were shattered by the events of 2009. After that episode, many Iranians came to believe that political engagement with the Islamic Republic was impossible. </p> <p>And along came Manoto. </p> <p>Based in London and founded by various corporate &amp; political <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-iran-tv/london-tv-channel-dips-a-toe-into-iran-culture-war-idUKBRE83H0QX20120418">sources</a>, Manoto began operation in 2010 and soon established a great viewership. Since 2009, BBC Persian and other satellite Persian TV Networks had shattered the Islamic Republic’s media monopoly inside Iran. But Manoto became a far greater challenge to Iran’s state media. Focusing on entertainment and popular programs, Manoto acted as an <a href="https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-iran-tv/london-tv-channel-dips-a-toe-into-iran-culture-war-idUKBRE83H0QX20120418">agent of alternative lifestyle</a> to the one enforced by the Islamic Republic. Gradually, a savvy indirect shift towards politics began, which unrelentingly focused on <span><a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/listeningpost/2018/06/producing-nostalgia-iranian-diaspora-tv-rebranding-shah-180609105115161.html">producing Pahlavi Nostalgia</a></span>. Through popular history programs and high-quality documentaries, Manoto judiciously highlighted the positive side of Pahlavi’s rule: a glamorous internationalist regime that built modern Iran and entertained the population with jovial events and broadcasts. Millions of Iranians <span>compared</span> this to the gloomy, intolerantly conservative and internationally isolated Islamic Republic and came to conclude that the revolution was a bad mistake. </p> <p> A large number of Iranian intelligentsia and political activists (particularly those who lived under the Shah and opposed his despotism) find this revival of monarchism insufferable. They dismiss it as a superficial nostalgia with no real political consequence. But, they wilfully ignore two major political developments: Four decades after it’s downfall, the Pahlavi dynasty has regained much of its’ prestige and legitimacy. And, from the moment the name of Pahlavi was invoked in 2017’s demonstrations; a vestige of a bygone era became a serious political player: Reza Pahlavi, eldest son of the Shah and heir to the Pahlavi throne.</p> <p>A citizen of the United State and head of a <a href="https://www.johnlearn.com/p/reza-pahlavi-crown-prince-of-iran-is-leader-and-the-founder-the-owner-of-medina-development-company">corporate entity</a>, Reza Pahlavi has lived outside of Iran since he was 17 and has been a peripheral political entity through most of his life. His political fortune has always been determined by Iran’s internal developments and the foreign policy of the United States. Reza Pahlavi and other Iranian opposition groups <span><a href="http://www.iran-interlink.org/files/News4/Mar06/NewYorker060306.htm">gained some leverage </a></span>from the clash over Iran’s nuclear program and President Bush’s regime change policy. This leverage was lost with Barak Obama’s presidency and despite volatile events of Iran’s 2009 elections; Reza Pahlavi’s political standing remained marginal. Even the presidency of Donald Trump could not change this, as siding with Trump’s boorish discourse could have had damaging backlash. It was Iran’s internal situation that transformed Reza Pahlavi’s fortunes. Even before Trump’s reimplementation of sanctions, the economic situation of most Iranians had <span><a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42553516">dreadfully deteriorated</a></span>. Their despair and hopelessness led to 2017’s protests and Reza Pahlavi’s political standing changed with a stroke.</p> <p>However, the restoration of the monarchy seems improbable, in no small part due to the uninspiring record of the claimant to the throne. Reza Pahlavi has little charisma and his political career has been consistently mediocre. He seems to be his father’s son in one crucial negative respect. Mohammad Reza Shah had considerable political abilities and was an astute player in international affairs but often ineffective and indecisive when dealing with internal crises. Reza Pahlavi’s record suggests that he has inherited his father’s timidity. According to Amir-Asdollah Alam’s (the Shah’s most closest confidant) <span><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alam-Diaries-v-1-Assadollah/dp/0936347570">diaries</a></span>, the Shah once remarked that his son was clever because he knew how to evade responsibility. This may explain why Reza Pahlavi <span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZREBdL33Bo">proclaimed himself king</a></span> in 1980 but retracted it later. A former friend, <span><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;cad=rja&amp;uact=8&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjHmLKap_XfAhWFQxUIHSSjDswQFjADegQIBxAB&amp;url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Farchive%2Flifestyle%2F1996%2F07%2F22%2Freversal-of-fortune%2Fa6e145ed-b4b9-4aa2-86d9-985f2f21d109%2F&amp;usg=AOvVaw3IOCR5mAuEpTlRc21t8hpo">who fell out with him over financial disputes</a></span>, claims that in the 1980s American intelligence approached Reza Pahlavi with a scheme to land a Pahlavi loyalist force in <span><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kish_Island">Kish</a></span> Island under U.S naval and air support. Allegedly, Reza Pahlavi’s first question was about the exit strategy. None of this inspires confidence on Reza Pahlavi’s boldness and resolution.</p> <p>Furthermore, many Iranians do not relate with Pahlavi nostalgia. In the past two years, Iranian <span><a href="https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/iran-haft-tappeh-sugar-factory-strike-arrests-walkout.html">industrial workers</a></span> and <span><a href="https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-striking-truck-drivers-receive-support/29527509.html">lorry drivers</a></span> have been on constant strike and protests. There has been no pro-Pahlavi chanting from that corner. Iran’s various ethnicities such as Kurds, Azeri Turks and Arabs have little cause to be nostalgic about Pahlavi era, as they remember it for its’ Persian chauvinism and <span><a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/162990?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">ethnic inequality</a></span>.</p> <p>Nevertheless, the time was never riper for the cause of monarchism in Iran. The Islamic Republic is internationally isolated and overstretched in a <span><a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-and-iran-four-proxy-conflicts-explained-1512772971">proxy-war</a></span> with its’ regional adversaries. The regime is facing fundamental economic crisis, which, although escalated by U.S sanctions, is mostly of <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/24/trump-iranians-crises-president-twitter-economic">its’ own making</a></span>. The citizenry <span><a href="http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/251200">have lost all hope</a></span> in political engagement within the Islamic Republic’s framework and the regime relies evermore on the ideologically loyal security and armed forces that receive <span><a href="https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-military-budget-irgc/28980550.html">the greatest chunk of the country’s budget</a></span>. But this approach is becoming increasingly risky. According to <a href="https://www.acleddata.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ACLED-2018-The-Year-in-Review_Final_Pub.pdf">ALCED</a>, Iran had the world’s highest upsurge in protests during 2018. One Iranian parliament deputy recently warned that should the current situation continue, the regime would find itself <span><a href="https://www.newsweek.com/iranian-lawmaker-warns-collapse-soviet-union-1283709">paralyzed in the streets</a></span> as the Soviet Union did. </p> <p>While protests inside Iran have dramatically increased, the Islamic Republic’s security apparatus has been continuously eliminated any potential unifying leader and organization, without which the protests will remain separated and easy to suppress. Outside of Iran, anti-Islamic Republic political activists are divided and impotent. The only serious opposition group is the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK). MEK has organizational capability and a considerable lobby within the United States, including <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/30/bolton-iran-mek-terrorism-trump/">John Bolton</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/30/rudy-giuliani-mek-iran-paris-rally">Rudy Giuliani</a>. Founded as an urban guerrilla organization, resolutely fighting both the Shah and Khomeini, MEK once enjoyed a large following. But today, most Iranians hate MEK and Western governments are reluctant to openly engage with it because of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDlNWErYCGw&amp;list=PLOrPfqm9bRfSQMjaFP9nA480yraEVLVAM&amp;index=2&amp;t=126s">its’ totalitarian nature and alliance with Saddam</a>.</p> <p>All this benefits Reza Pahlavi, who (as said by Max Weber) possesses a traditional legitimacy in the form of the Pahlavi brand. Another factor in Reza Pahlavi’s favor is the fact that the most influential Persian satellite TV networks are either neutral or judiciously support him. Since the 2017 protests, Reza Pahlavi’s performance has exceeded expectations. In his <span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EznM-EYuYg4&amp;t=15s">lengthy conversation on Iran International</a></span> (a Persian TV network <span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/31/concern-over-uk-based-iranian-tv-channels-links-to-saudi-arabia">rumored to be funded by Saudi Arabia</a></span>), Reza Pahlavi seemed shrewd and earnest. He has prudently refrained from praising President Trump, while promoting himself as a unifying arbitrator for all dissident Iranians. </p> <p>While, the Islamic Republic’s standing plummets, Pahlavi’s Nostalgia continues to rise and so does the fortunes of Reza Pahlavi. However, the lady of fortune is capricious and quick to shun a favorite who has demonstrated him/herself without virtue and boldness. Reza Pahlavi’s momentum is the product of <span><a href="https://www.resetdoc.org/story/mass-protests-iran-40-years-domestic-failure/">40 years of the Islamic Republic’s failure </a></span>and other factors beyond his control. If Reza Pahlavi fails to take advantage of his current momentum, he will learn that specters can fade as easily as they appear.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jubin-afshar/iran-gripped-by-strikes-and-protests">Iran gripped by strikes and protests </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/amin-bozorgian/neoliberalism-and-iran-s-protest-movement">Neoliberalism and Iran’s protest movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alphan-telek/return-of-class-and-social-justice-in-iran-and-tunisia">The return of ‘class and social justice’ in Iran and Tunisia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mehdy-shaddel/how-rouhani-s-neoliberal-policies-provoked-unrest-in-iran">How Rouhani’s neoliberal policies provoked unrest in Iran</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ehsan-abdoh-tabrizi/iran-s-mass-protests-beyond-class-boundaries">Iran’s mass protests beyond class boundaries</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mahmood-delkhasteh/iran-s-protesters-are-secularizing-1979-revolution">Iran’s protesters are secularizing the 1979 revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ali-vaez/iran-s-protests-time-reform">Iran’s protests: time to reform</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/farhad-khosrokhavar/iran-revolt-of-deprived">Iran: the revolt of the deprived</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iran Democracy and government Ehsan Abdoh-Tabrizi Thu, 31 Jan 2019 07:01:00 +0000 Ehsan Abdoh-Tabrizi 121417 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Post-sectarian Iraq’ between theory and practice https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/zeidon-alkinani/post-sectarian-iraq-between-theory-and-practice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It remains to be seen whether this so called ‘new Iraq’ is as post-sectarian as some academics and journalists claim.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-37768657.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-37768657.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Iraqis protest against unemployment and lack of public services in Baghdad, 27 July 2018. Picture by Ameer Al Mohammedaw/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Iraq arguably entered a new phase of ‘post-sectarianism’ since 2015. This was evident during the popular protests that began in the summer of 2015 and returned significantly in the summer of 2018 – when Iraqi political activism transformed from identity politics to being issue based. This showed that the protests are driven by frustration and demands for improving the poor public services and the high unemployment figures, rather than the usual politically led religious and ethnic differences. Specifically, the transition was motivated by the failure of the ethnic-sectarian political class in providing efficient public services, education, health care, security and development necessary for society. Is this enough to say that we are in an era of ‘post-sectarianism’? </p><h3><strong>What is ‘sectarian Iraq’? </strong> </h3> <p>Sectarian Iraq refers to post-2003 when the country fell to the US-led invasion and witnessed the installation of a political class which appoints its high-profile governmental posts and cabinet based on an ethnic-sectarian quota: a Shiite Arab Prime Minister, a Kurdish President and a Sunni Arab Speaker of Parliament, to satisfy the power determinations of the leading common political parties of the three largest communities. </p> <p>The ethnic-sectarian quota-based governance in Iraq had a number of consequences throughout the years. It turned Iraq into a sectarian regional battlefield between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey when it comes to issues related to the Kurds and Turkmens. Furthermore, political parties used ethnic-sectarian differences to mobilize communities against one another, which directly harmed the Iraqi societal relations. This was mainly witnessed during the height of the sectarian conflict between 2006-2008 and during the 2014 fall of Mosul in the hands of the extremist group known as the Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Daesh. </p> <p>Apart from the failure of sectarian political parties in serving their own communities, they also failed to maintain unified fronts within their own communal political circles – and that in itself exposed how these sectarian political parties were motivated by political and not sectarian interests. A common and strong reflection of that are the internal divisions within the ethnic-sectarian political fronts. A good example would be the decades old Iraqi Kurdish rivalry between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party or even, the enmity between the former prime ministers Haider al-Abadi (2014-18) and Nouri al-Maliki (2008-14) following the Islamic Da’wa party’s breakup in 2014 when al-Maliki failed to gain an unconstitutional third term.</p> <h3>‘<strong>Post-sectarian Iraq’ </strong> </h3> <p>Iraq’s post-sectarian phase could be noticed when the main attention of Iraqi politics moved from being about sectarian identity to becoming about demands and specific issues related to services and rights. There are several important incidents that must be noted when talking about the fragile post-sectarian Iraq. One such incident is the announcement by the Iraqi Army that all Iraqi cities were liberated from ISIL in 2017, and the second was the failure of the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25, 2017 and the Iraqi army’s retaking control of Kirkuk after years of Kurdish Peshmerga rule. Those two events among others provoked a sense of social hope and reconnected people to a unified and sovereign homeland. However, it should be noted that the Kurdish reaction differed towards the outcome of the referendum - as it consisted of more losses than gains. Apart from Kirkuk being the most strategic and disputed area between Erbil and Baghdad on the Kurdish issue – the Iraqi government also demanded re-control of the airports and the borders. </p> <p>But it was the protests of 2018 that mark an era of a post-sectarian Iraq. The protests that began in the Southern province of Basra to then include the entire southern region until they reached the capital Baghdad in July 2018, reflected two new indicators of post-sectarianism. The first was that the protests took place in the Shiite-majority region despite the political class in Baghdad and most southern municipalities being dominated by Shiite political parties. It is crucial to note that this was different from the former protests that commonly erupted in Sunni majority provinces. The other indicator was that the protests were being driven by frustration at the government’s failure in improving the economy and in providing efficient public services such as education, health care, clean water and electricity, away from any sectarian-driven discourse. </p> <p>Signs of social harmony during the protests arose when Sunni Arab tribes and Kurdish protesters also expressed cross-communal support and sympathy from across Iraq for the protests in the southern provinces as they <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/seyed-ali-alavi/is-iraq-entering-era-of-post-sectarianism">“all suffer from the same pain of lack of basic services and entrenched corruption.”</a></p> <p>Furthermore there was the formation of the trans-sectarian coalition Sairoon, between the nationalist Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and non-religious parties including the Iraqi Communist Party. The coalition gained the most votes during the elections and for the first time since 2003, the Shiite Islamist Da’wa Party did not dominate the election results. Sairoon was considered the most popular and influential non-sectarian parliamentary coalition during the May 2018 elections – however, their inability to form a government or an opposition independently from any interferences from the classic ethnic-sectarian coalitions such as the Iranian-backed al-Fatah, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/zeidon-alkinani/after-all-iraq-s-ethno-sectarian-quota-remains">showed</a> how the ethnic-sectarian quota prevails and asserts its dominance. </p> <p>What remains to be seen is whether this so called ‘new Iraq’ is as post-sectarian as some academics and journalists claim. The discourse has undeniably changed as we have witnessed a growing interest and attention towards issues that transcend identity politics. Nonetheless, the direct implications of a sectarian state are still significantly present in reality – ethnic-sectarian quotas remain in place, and the regional influences still drive most politicians. Most importantly, we are continuously witnessing a lack of governmental effort to improve the country’s economy and public services. While it might perhaps be too soon to speak of a new post-sectarian era, one thing is certain, that there is a new discourse that has appeared and destabilized the old sectarian reality of Iraq.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/zeidon-alkinani/after-all-iraq-s-ethno-sectarian-quota-remains">After all, Iraq’s ethno-sectarian quota remains</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/seyed-ali-alavi/is-iraq-entering-era-of-post-sectarianism">Is Iraq entering an era of post-sectarianism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/zahra-ali-safaa-khalaf/iraq-s-protest-movement-reveals-failure-of-post-2003-r">Iraq’s protest movement reveals the failure of the post-2003 regime</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Civil society Democracy and government sectarianism Zeidon Alkinani Mon, 28 Jan 2019 07:01:00 +0000 Zeidon Alkinani 121416 at https://www.opendemocracy.net الأكياس البلاستيكية في المغرب: حظر مع وقف التنفيذ https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-12 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> ليس صدفة أن يتزامن صدور قانون منع الأكياس البلاستيكية، مع انعقاد مؤتمر الأمم المتحدة للتغيير المناخي بمدينة مراكش.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="western" dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/8459272287_18218b52d3_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/8459272287_18218b52d3_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>مشهد بالقرب من محطة حماة مولاي علي شريف في المغرب. المصدر :jbdodane / Flickr.com (CC BY-NC 2.0) </span></span></span>"أعولُ ثلاثة أطفال بهذا العمل. أزيد من عشر سنوات وأنا أزاول بيع الأكياس البلاستيكية، ولا أعرف مهنة سواها". هكذا يبرر أحمد بيعه للأكياس البلاستيكية الممنوع تداولها منذ سنة 2016. بسيارته المهترئة التي يعود عمرها إلى حوالي ثلاثين سنة، يجول أحمد بشكل شبه يومي الأسواق الأسبوعية بنواحي العاصمة الرباط، بالإضافة إلى محلات البقالة والأسواق الشعبية. وذلك بقصد توزيع وبيع أكياس البلاستيك للباعة بالجملة. حتى يوم الأحد الذي من المفترض أن يكون يوم راحة، يمضيه الأخير بين "سوق الأحد باللويزية"و"حد الصخيرات". </p><p class="western" dir="rtl"> مرت سنتان على صدور المرسوم رقم2.16.174ونشره في الجريدة الرسمية (عدد 6458 - 21 أبريل 2016) القاضي بتنفيذ بعض أحكام قانون رقم 77.15، الصادر يوم 7 ديسمبر 2015، والذي يمنع استعمال وتداول الأكياس البلاستيكية ، دون تفعيل مقتضياته، وذلك في تقصير واضح من المكلفين بتنفيذه، والمتمثلين في ضباط الشرطة القضائية وأعوان الإدارة المعينين من طرف وزارة الداخلية، إضافة إلى الشرطة البيئية. فأكياس البلاستيك لا زالت رائجة في الأسواق، في ظل تسيب شبه تام. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> هنا سوق "السويقة"،قلب مدينة الرباط النابض على مستوى التجارة التقليدية. ضجيج الباعة المتجولين يملأ المكان. لا شيء يُظهر أن أكياس البلاستيك قد مُنعت منذ سنتين. وباستثناء "الأكياس" الملونة والسوداء– التي اختفت من الوجود– فإن جُل العربات المتجولة والمحلات التجارية الصغيرة والمتوسطة تستخدم "الميكا" (الأكياس البيضاء) في تلفيف معروضاتها، نظرا لتكلفتها الزهيدة، حيث الكيلوغرام الواحد منها لا يكلف سوى 25 درهم (2.6 دولار)،مقارنة مع ما سمي بالأكياس البديلة، الذي كان يباع الكيس الواحد منها بحوالي درهم (0.11 دولار) للعموم، قبل أن تقوم عدد من المتاجر بمنحها بالمجان . علما أن جزء كبير من الزبائن يرفضون استعمال الأكياس الورقية التي تقدر تكلفتها ب 20 درهم (2.2 دولار) للكيلوغرام، نظرا لهشاشتها وعدم قدرتها على التحمل. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> غداة دخول قانون "منع صنع واستيراد وتصدير وتسويق واستعمال الأكياس البلاستيكية" حيز التنفيذ في مطلع يوليو من عام 2016، سعت السلطات المكلفة بتنفيذ الأخير (القانون)إلى بذل أقصى جهودها في محاربة أكياس البلاستيك. وقد استعملت لأجل ذلك معظم الآليات المتاحة لها قانونيا، كالتفتيش الدوري والمتتالي للمحلات التجارية والأسواق الغير المهيكلة. يمكن القول إنها نجحت في المهمة مرحليا. وقد ساعد على ذلك تخوف الباعة من السقوط في مصيدة الغرامات الثقيلة التي جاء بها القانون الجديد، والتي تتراوح بين200.000 درهم ( 21.000 دولار) و 1.000.000 درهم (105.000&nbsp;دولار) بالنسبة للمُصنعين، ومن 10.000 درهم (1050دولار) إلى 500.000 (52.000دولار) بالنسبة للباعة والموزعين. إلا أن "الهدنة" لم تدم طويلا، وعادت حليمة إلى عادتها القديمة.</p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>"</strong><strong>زيرو ميكا</strong><strong>"... </strong><strong>لأجل عيون منتدى الأمم المتحدة</strong></h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> ليس صدفة أن يتزامن صدور قانون منع الأكياس البلاستيكية، مع انعقاد مؤتمر الأمم المتحدة للتغيير المناخي (كوب 22) في دورته الثانية والعشرين بمدينة مراكش بين 7 و 18 نوفمبر من عام 2016. إذ أن طريقة إصدار القانون المتسرعة التي تمت من دون التشاور مع المعنيين، ولا دراسة مسبقة، عززت فرضية أن يكون القانون قد صدر فقط لأجل تلميع صورة المغرب (البلد المنظم)، وإظهاره كرائد في حماية البيئة أمام دول العالم. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/2_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>المصدر: ملصق خاص بحملة "زيرو ميكا" (صفر كيس بلاستيكي) التي أطلقها الائتلاف المغربي من أجل العدالة المناخية </span></span></span> ولعل الواقع يؤكد صحة هذه الفرضية. إذ قبل أشهر قليلة من انطلاق "كوب 22" – بعد صدور القانون رقم 77.15 – تجندت السلطات الأمنية والإدارية لأجل منع إنتاج وتداول الأكياس البلاستيكية. وبالفعل نجحت الأخيرة في مهمتها، بمساعدة من الإعلام الرسمي الذي كان يبث بشكل دوري أشرطة تحذر من استعمال الأكياس. لكن سرعان ما انتهى "الفيلم"، مع إسدال الستار على منتدى الأمم المتحدة للمناخ. وأصبح التقصير واللامبالاة هما سيد الموقف. وإن كان بين الفينة والأخرى يتم تفكيك مصانع سرية لإنتاج الأكياس، فإن ذلك ليس بالكافي، خصوصا مع الانتشار المهول للأكياس – أشهر قليلة بعد المؤتمر – كما توضح<a href="http://www.zerozbel.ma/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Enque%CC%82te-sur-lusage-des-sacs-plastiques-et-des-alternatives-aux-sacs-plastiques-Association-Zero-Zbel-Juin-2018-.pdf"> دراسة</a> لجمعية "زيرو زبل ZeroZbel&nbsp;".</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/5.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/5.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="338" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>المصدر: تقرير جمعية "زيرو زبل". ص: 9 </span></span></span>معنى ذلك أنه رغم أن السلطات المكلفة بتطبيق القانون في مقدوريتها الحد من تصنيع وتداول أكياس البلاستيك، كما حصل في فترة بداية سريان القانون، فإن التزامها بإنفاذ القانون قد تراجع بشكل كبير مع بداية 2017. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> وقد اعترفت النيابة العامة في <a href="http://ar.telquel.ma/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%B1%D8%A6%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84/">دورية لها</a> بخصوص الأمر في سبتمبر 2018&nbsp; بالبطء الذي يشمل إنجاز الأبحاث وتهيئ الملفات وإحالتها على المحكمة.ويمكن أن نشبه الدور التي تلعبه السلطات في الحالة الراهنة بمن يستخدم صنارة صغيرة لأجل صيد سمك قرش ممانع وعصي على الاستقطاب، عوض استعمال شباك قوية ومتينة للإيقاع بالأخير.&nbsp; </p><h3 class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>منازل ومصانع</strong></h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> "سيكون قرار إحداث وحدة صناعية سرية لإنتاج أكياس البلاستيك داخل الميدان الحضري، غير موفق وغير آمن. باستثناء مدينة البيضاء– عاصمة المغرب الاقتصادية – فإن جُل المصانع السرية– التي غالبا ما تأخذ شكل منازل –تتموقع في البادية (تبعد عن المدينة بحوالي عشرين كيلومتر)" يقول سعيد وهو أحد باعة الأكياس البلاستيكية بمدينة الرباط، عن أماكن نشاط المصانع السرية. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> تحولت مآرب و"كراجات" بعض المنازل في مدة وجيزة إلى مستودعات تخزين وإنتاج الأكياس الممنوعة. ف"ماكينات" الانتاج ليست كبيرة &nbsp;الحجم، ولا تصدر ضجيجا مزعجا حقا كما قد نعتقد. ويقدر سعيد (بائع الأكياس البلاستيكية) الوحدات الصناعية المنزلية لصناعة أكياس البلاستيك في مدينة البيضاء لوحدها بحوالي&nbsp; أربعين ورشة.&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>صناعة سهلة </strong> </h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> "جُل الأفراد أصبحوا مؤهلين لتشغيل آلات إنتاج الأكياس بمفردهم". كما يشرح لنا سعيد. فما يحتاجه الشخص هو التعرف على سمسار أو وسيط –عبر علاقاته الخاصة أو الأنترنت– لشراء آلات الإنتاج، &nbsp;التي تكون قد دخلت إلى البلاد بطريقة غير قانونية (عبر التهريب)، أو عن طريق شرائها من إحدى المصانع التي غيرت نشاطها بفعل قانون حظر إنتاج أكياس البلاستيك.</p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> "المسألة جد سهلة"، على حد تعبير سعيد. إذ أن التقني المرافق للسمسار سيشرح لك جُل مراحل الإنتاج، ومن المؤكد أنه سيقدم لك مع الآلة دليلا لكيفية تشغيلها. كما يمكن البحث في موقع يوتوب عن كيفية استعمال واستخدام آلة معينة، وستجد – غالبا – جُل مراحل الإنتاج مفصلة مرحلة بمرحلة كما في هذا <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJffo7hBLNg">الفيديو</a></p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> أما عن كيفية الحصول على المواد الأولية لصناعة الأكياس، فيمكن (من وجهة نظر سعيد)أن تتحصل عليها من مصادر &nbsp;مختلفة، كالتي تبيع لوازم صنع معدات مهنية مثل أنابيب الغاز وخراطيم المياه،... وعلى العموم ليست بممنوعة، &nbsp;لأنها تُستعمل في أكثر من مجال، وليست حصرا على قطاع الأكياس البلاستيكية. وعلى سبيل المثال فإن مادة&nbsp;البولي إثيلين (Polyéthylène) منخفض الكثافة ( (LDPE) التي تعتبر أهم مادة في صناعة الأكياس البلاستيكية، تستخدم في أنشطة متعددة كصناعة علب حفظ الحليب، علب الأقراص الصلبة،...<br /> ويتمثل المصدر الثاني للمواد الأولية لصناعة "الميكا" في النفايات البلاستيكية، حيث بعد أن يتم تدويرها، تصبح مادة خام لصناعة الأكياس البلاستيكية.<br /> وإضافة إلى "التصنيع السري"، فإن المصدر الآخر للأكياس المحظورة يتمثل في ما قد تم تخزينه في مستودعات الشركات التي توقفت عن الانتاج عقب تنفيذ قانون الحظر. وبحسب مصدر رفض ذكر اسمه (يتواصل مع بعض هذه الشركات) فإن أغلب المصانع عرضت ما تبقى لها من الأكياس للبيع في السوق السوداء. وهناك مصانع زادت في إنتاجيتها قبيل التوقف عن إنتاج أكياس البلاستيك.</p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>بيع عبر الأنترنيت </strong> </h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> وأخيرا بعدما ظل الخط مشغولا لحوالي ربع ساعة، أجاب عبد الله– الذي كان قد أدرج إعلانا لبيع الأكياس البلاستيكية على موقع أفيتوAvito.ma –على المكالمة. بنبرة ممتزجة بالخوف جادل في ثمن وجودة الأكياس كأي تاجر يريد يبع سلعته. وعندما تم الحديث عن مكان التسليم، سرعان ما تراجع عن إتمام "الصفقة" و طلب من المتصل القَسَم على عدم إيذاءه، وذلك ما كان. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/6.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/6.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="407" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>"سكرين شوت" لأحد إعلانات بيع الأكياس البلاستيكية الممنوعة</span></span></span> يقول عبد الله أنه زاول مهنا متعددة، ولم يظل أمامه سوى بيع الأكياس البلاستيكية، فهي الآن مصدر من مصادره المتعددة للإنفاق على أسرته المعوزة. "أنا دوما معرض للخطر بسبب هذا الإعلان بالرغم من إدراج رقم هاتف غير مسجل باسمي الشخصي، لكن ماذا أفعل. ليس لدي خيار. طرف الخبز صعيب". </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> وعن مصدر الأكياس البلاستيكية يقول عبد الله أنه تعرف على موزع للأكياس عبر أحد أصدقائه. يلتقيه خلسة،ويتسلم منه شحنة الأكياس البلاستيكية دون معرفة مصدر ومكان صنعها. </p> <h3 class="western" dir="rtl"> <strong>كذبة الأكياس البديلة</strong></h3> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> بالموازاة مع تنفيذ قانون منع تداول وصنع الأكياس البلاستيكية، برزت أكياس ملونة، شبيهة بالقماش. وقد أطلِق عليها اسم الأكياس البديلة. والحال أن هذه الأكياس التي تعرف "بالأكياس غير المنسوجة" تصنع من مادة البولي إيثيلين (Polyéthylène)، نفس المادة التي تستخدم في صنع الأكياس البلاستيكية الممنوعة، بحسب ما جاء في <a href="https://ma.boell.org/fr/2018/06/27/zero-mika-2-ans-apres-tout-reste-faire-1">مقال</a> منشور على موقع منظمة Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. وقد تنبعث رائحة البلاستيك مباشرة بعد حرق كيس من هذا النوع. </p> <p class="western" dir="rtl"> يشار إلى أن جزءًا كبير من المغاربة لا يستعملون الأكياس البلاستيكية فقط للتلفيف، إذ أن بعض محلات بيع الأغدية تستعمل الأخيرة في تعبئة الأطعمة الساخنة كالفاصوليا أو العدس. وهو ما يشكل خطرا كبيرا على صحة الفرد، ويمكن أن يؤدي به إلى الإصابة بأمراض خطيرة كالسرطان.</p><p class="direction-rtl">وقد <a href="http://www.mcinet.gov.ma/ar/content/%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A9">أقرت </a> وزارة الصناعة والتجارة والاستثمار الرقمي في لقاء نُظم حول تقدم تفعيل قانون منع تداول وبيع وإنتاج الأكياس البلاستيكية في مطلع يوليو الماضي بالفشل في الحد من استخدام أكياس البلاستيك، وقد أرجعت ذلك إلى ما أسمته بشيوع أنماط "جديدة للتزويد والتوزيع" كالورشات السرية والتهريب. وقد تحدثت الوزارة عن مشروع تعديل قانون يرمي إلى تعزيز المراقبة وتوسيع مجال تدخل السلطات. </p><p class="western" dir="rtl"><strong> أنجز هذا التحقيق تحت إشراف الصحفي أنس بنضريف، بالتعاون مع منظمة <a href="https://www.article19.org/">"المادة 19" </a> والجمعية التونسية للصحافة الاستقصائية "تاج".</strong></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Morocco </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Morocco Civil society Democracy and government environment عبد اللطيف الحماموشي Arabic language Sun, 27 Jan 2019 10:00:18 +0000 عبد اللطيف الحماموشي 121461 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The battle over the memory of Egypt’s revolution https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/ahmed-elsayed/battle-over-memory-of-egypt-s-revolution <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="western"> In today’s Egypt, millions are silent, nevertheless, they still remember. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/1024px-Burnt-out_NDP_HQ.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/1024px-Burnt-out_NDP_HQ.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="275" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The burnt-out main headquarters of the then-ruling NDP-National Democratic Party in Cairo as seen from the Qasr al-Nil Bridge. Picture by Sherif9282 [CC BY-SA 3.0] source: Wikimedia Commons. </span></span></span>Eight years back, young Egyptians were full of hope. On January 25, 2011, they rose up against Hosni Mubarak and triumphed. Mubarak stepped down and a military council assumed power until Mohammed Morsi was sworn in on June 30, 2012, as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. One year later, Morsi was swiftly deposed in a popularly backed military coup led by then-General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Ever since, the latter became the <em>de facto</em> – and since June 2014 the <em>de jure</em> – ruler of Egypt. </p><p class="western"> The once-embattled<em> ancien regime</em> <span><a href="https://www.counterpunch.org/2013/09/04/what-is-a-revolution/">is back</a></span> with full force. Not only to consolidate its power in the present, but also to control the past. Yet, since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution, besides the Islamists, two distinct communities were – and still are – in conflict, among other things, over the revolution’s nature and principles: the regime and the revolutionary activists. What follows is an exploration of these communities’ strategies to permeate the people’s collective consciousness and to enforce their own narratives of the revolution and its memory, across three different domains: Egypt’s public space; Egypt’s online sphere; and outside Egypt.</p> <h3 class="western"> <strong>In Egypt’s besieged public space </strong> </h3> <p class="western"> Over the past few years, Egypt’s urban spaces transformed from centres where democracy blossoms to besieged and militarised areas. Surrendering such spaces to the regime was not easy, for they were the centres where many of today’s young Egyptians have developed a modern identity.</p> <p class="western"> Following Maurice Halbwachs’ argument that symbolism (e.g. monuments or images) in public space can be (re)constructed by different social groups (publics), each producing a space that is representative of their community, it is obvious that, in the revolution’s early years, Egypt’s public space was representative of the young activists’ creativity and rebellion. </p> <p class="western"> Through graffiti on walls, images, texts and structures, the activists created from the country’s streets and squares <span><a href="https://mepc.org/post-mubarak-egypt-history-collective-memory-and-memorialization">memorials </a></span>to keep the memory of the brave martyrs as well as the revolution’s ideals alive. <em>Walls of Freedom</em>, a <span><a href="http://wallsoffreedom.com/">2014 book</a></span> by Hamdy and Stone, offers thorough insights into the revolution and its artistic works. Young Egyptians’ independent cultural activities, including concerts and exhibitions, played a role in enhancing the historical narrative of the pro-revolution community.</p> <p class="western"> In fact, when activists managed to reach out to citizens on the ground, they succeeded to undermine the counter-revolutionary narrative and the regime’s collective memory field. A prominent example is the activists’ 2012 campaign: <em>Askar Kazeebon</em> (Lying Military) whose modus operandi was to broadcast videos and documentaries to pedestrians that falsify the military’s accounts of various events and expose the soldiers’ crimes and human rights violations that official and regime-friendly media ignored. </p> <p class="western"> Nevertheless, the regime was not idle while Egypt’s urban space is revolting. In Henri Lefebvre’s <span><a href="https://thecharnelhouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Henri-Lefebvre-The-Production-of-Space-1.pdf">view</a></span>, urban space is a social construct that is predominantly produced by a centralised power. Congruently, James Wertsch <span><a href="https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1548-1352.2008.00007.x">opines </a></span>that, generally, the control of such power on generating and inoculating the narrative of the past in unmatched by that of any other social actor. It is barely disputed that the military, Egypt’s central power, endeavoured to restrict the public space and erase the memory of the January 25 revolution. For this power knows that while memories are linked to the past, they determine how many Egyptians will perceive the future. The military pursued <em>1984</em>’s Orwellian prophecy: ‘he who controls the past controls the future’.</p> <p class="western"> Under the <span><a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1354067X17695760">disguise of renovation</a></span>, the walls of revolutionary graffiti were repainted, CCTV cameras were installed in central spaces, and governmental offices were relocated away from the heart of Cairo. Some, like <span><a href="https://etd.ohiolink.edu/pg_10?0::NO:10:P10_ACCESSION_NUM:miami1438346291">Schindehutte</a></span>, view al-Sisi government’s <span><a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/egypt-capital-city-cairo-architecture-the-new-administrative-capital-a8521981.html">new administrative capital</a></span> as a project with which government buildings ‘will be spatially removed from the memory of resistance.’ </p> <p class="western"> One of the prominent monuments in revolutionary Cairo was the building of the former ruling party: The National Democratic Party (NDP). A historical building on the Nile Corniche adjacent to Tahrir Square and the Egyptian Museum. On January 28, 2011, during the protests, the building was set ablaze. The arsonists remain unknown, yet, the burned building became a symbol of the revolution’s triumph over the regime. To destroy this monument’s ability to stimulate people to remember this victory, the regime demolished it. And so did the regime with the first memorial to the January 25 martyrs that was constructed by the protesters, in Tahrir Square, immediately after Mubarak stepped down.</p> <p class="western"> In <span><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Structures-Memory-Understanding-Cultural-Present/dp/080475277X">her work</a></span> on East Berlin’s architecture, Jennifer Jordan explored how transformations in landscape planning can suppress or erase memories. In fact, in dismantling the revolutionary symbols, the regime intended to construct a collective memory that excludes rival interpretations of events to its own. That is reminiscent to the Bahraini government’s destruction of <span><a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/bahrain/8390773/Bahrain-authorities-destroy-Pearl-Roundabout.html">Pearl Roundabout</a></span>, the rallying point of the 2011 mass anti-government protests.</p> <p class="western"> Likewise, the activists, also through demolitions, resisted the regime’s manipulation of the revolution’s memory. In November 2013, a few hours after Prime Minister Beblawi inaugurated it, protesters vandalised a memorial that the government built for ‘the martyrs of the revolution’. In his inaugurating speech, Beblawi referred to January 25 and June 30 ‘revolutions’ as well as the martyrs of the police and the army. That was interpreted by the protesters as another attempt to conflate the meanings and disrupt the image and the perceptions of the January 25 Revolution in the Egyptians’ collective consciousness. </p> <p class="western"> Some years earlier, every erased graffiti by the authorities triggered activists to resist and create more graffiti works. This resistance has recently waned. The unprecedented crackdown on dissent and the draconian laws that reportedly imprisoned tens of thousands of activists had prompted many to surrender the public space. Some are silent out of fear or disappointment. Others tried to put the memory of the revolution aside, so that they can go on with their own personal lives. </p> <h3 class="western"> <strong>On Egypt’s censored online sphere</strong></h3> <p class="western"> Since the 2013 military coup, state and private media outlets – mostly controlled by the regime’s clientele – have kept glorifying the military’s role in recent years as well as defaming the revolution and activists as tools of the west to destroy Egypt. In 2016, Freedom House’s <span><a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/egypt">report</a></span> indicated that ‘Egypt was the world’s third-worst jailer of journalists’. The regime punished any media outlet that strayed from its sanctioned narratives. With shutting down public spaces and mass media, activists reverted to where they started: the internet. </p> <p class="western"> An unknown online user once <span><a href="https://mepc.org/post-mubarak-egypt-history-collective-memory-and-memorialization">posted</a></span>: ‘History used to be written by the winners. Now it is written by everyone.’ And so young Egyptians attempted to write their revolution’s history and resist the regime’s forced forgetfulness and hegemony over the people’s collective memory. Many tend to forget that tech-savvy young activists already utilised memorialisation to foment the democratic uprising. <em>We Are All Khalid Said</em>, a <span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/ElShaheeed/">Facebook page</a></span> created to commemorate the 28-year old Khalid Said who was brutally tortured and killed by police, in 2010, became the January 25 protests’ virtual rallying point and main coordinator. </p> <p class="western"> Despite tightened surveillance, censorship and blocking access to hundreds of websites by the government, there are many initiatives to resist forgetting the revolution and silencing its voices. The most recent of which is Mosireen Collective’s <span><a href="https://858.ma/"><em>858 archive of resistance</em></a></span>. In the Collective’s own words, the archive includes raw photographs, videos and documents that ‘present thousands of histories of revolt told from hundreds of perspectives. While the regime is using every resource to clamp down on public space and public memory the time has come to excavate and remember and re-present our histories.’ </p> <p class="western"> Other examples of online documentation and archiving efforts include <span><a href="https://wikithawra.wordpress.com/aboutwikithawra/"><em>Wiki-Thawra</em></a></span> whose slogan is ‘so we don’t forget’; UCLA’s <span><a href="http://idep.library.ucla.edu/tahrir-documents/"><em>Tahrir Documents</em></a></span>; AUC’s <span><a href="http://digitalcollections.aucegypt.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15795coll7"><em>University on the Square</em></a></span>; and MIT’s <span><a href="https://docubase.mit.edu/project/18-days-in-egypt/"><em>18 Days in Egypt</em></a></span>. That is besides various pro-revolution social media accounts and groups that keep battling the regime’s narratives and version of history every day. </p> <h3 class="western"> <strong>Outside Egypt</strong></h3> <p class="western"> Persecution of the revolution’s supporters has dramatically altered how they perceive the future. Hope, that many embraced years ago, has given way to fear and disappointment. After the 2013 military takeover, thousands involuntarily left the country to live in <span><a href="https://madamasr.com/ar/2016/11/16/news/u/%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%BA%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%AF/">exile abroad</a></span>. A minority among the exiled are still engaged in telling stories of the revolution and protesting al-Sisi government’s human rights violations and destruction of Egypt’s democratic hopes. Using <span><a href="https://madamasr.com/en/2018/11/04/feature/politics/one-mickey-mouse-eared-sisi-wont-stop-the-show/">art and satire</a></span>, they continue to disturb the regime’s hegemonic revolution-defaming narratives.</p> <p class="western"> It is true that in the rivalry over the January 25 Revolution’s story and memory, the <em>ancien regime</em> had the upper hand. Yet, the regime’s attempt to enforce forgetfulness of the revolution’s ideals and triumphant moments does not go unchallenged. Although they suffer immensely, and many of them try to forget in order to go on with their lives, some supporters of the revolution are still – using sarcasm, arts and archives – countering and disrupting the regime’s propaganda and false narratives, both online and abroad, while re-presenting the stories and memories of the January 25 democratic uprising. </p> <p class="western"> Despite the massive discrepancy of power between the opposing parties, it is still uncertain whether the regime has successfully dominated the Egyptian collective memory of the January 25 Revolution. That is because collective memory is not a static realm but rather a fluid construct that shapes – and is shaped by – current conditions and future aspirations. In today’s Egypt, millions are silent, nevertheless, they still remember.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/maged-mandour/state-violence-and-illusions-of-modernity-in-egypt">State violence and the illusions of modernity in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nadim-mirshak/rethinking-resistance-in-post-uprisings-egypt"> Rethinking resistance in post-uprisings Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/linda-herrera-nadim-mirshak/critical-voices-in-critical-times-peter-mayo-on-g">Critical voices in critical times: Peter Mayo on Gramsci, Egypt and critical pedagogy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/wael-eskandar/mo-salah-revolution-and-egypt-s-defeat">Mo Salah, the revolution and Egypt’s defeat</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nabil-echchaibi/power-arab-revolution-middle-east-austerity-protest">You&#039;ve kept your power, Arab rulers, but at what cost?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Democracy and government revolution Ahmed Elsayed Egypt in the balance Chronicles of the Arab revolt Fri, 25 Jan 2019 07:01:14 +0000 Ahmed Elsayed 121389 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Now streaming: censorship https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/allie-funk/now-streaming-censorship <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How should companies like Netflix respond when repressive governments order the removal of critical content?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/9532182041_ea449cf98b_o.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/9532182041_ea449cf98b_o.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hasan Minhaj performing. Picture by CleftClips/flickr.com. Some rights reserved (CC BY 2.0) </span></span></span>At the beginning of this year, the <em>Financial Times </em>first <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/5121f014-0db8-11e9-a3aa-118c761d2745">reported</a> that Netflix, acting on a request from Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission, removed an episode of the comedy show <em>Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj</em> from the streaming service’s Saudi platform because it was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his government’s involvement in the war in Yemen. This politically motivated censorship came at a time when the kingdom was already under intense scrutiny over the murder of columnist <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/article/freedom-house-urges-president-trump-take-strong-stand-khashoggi-murder">Jamal Khashoggi</a> in October 2018, apparently on orders from the crown prince. Given its record of intolerance for dissent, <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2018/saudi-arabia">Saudi Arabia</a>’s latest move to silence another critical voice online is hardly surprising and only an indication of further censorship to come. </p><p>But Netflix’s decision to comply with the request has renewed a critical ongoing debate about how international companies should respond to politically motivated censorship demands when operating in repressive countries. Governments with little regard for freedom of expression routinely ask social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to remove critical content that allegedly violate domestic laws. The latest restriction in Saudi Arabia suggests that governments will increasingly impose such rules on entertainment and streaming platforms as well. As global internet freedom <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/freedom-net-2018/rise-digital-authoritarianism">declines</a> around the world, these instances of online censorship affecting both social media and streaming platforms are only at risk to exacerbate.&nbsp; </p><h3><strong>Online censorship in Saudi Arabia</strong></h3> <p>In making what Netflix <a href="mailto:https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/01/middleeast/netflix-patriot-act-hasan-minhaj-jamal-khashoggi-intl/index.html">described</a> as “a valid legal request” to remove the <em>Patriot Act </em>episode, the Saudi government claimed that it violated Article 6 of the country’s 2007 Anti-Cyber Crime Law, which bans the production of anything that “harms public order, religious values, public morals, [or] the sanctity of private life” and prohibits “authoring, sending, or storing [such material] via an information network.” The law imposes penalties of up to five years in prison and 3 million riyals ($800,000) in fines on those who violate its vaguely written provisions. </p> <p>The authorities have frequently <a href="https://www.adhrb.org/2018/01/saudi-arabia-sentences-mohammed-al-otaibi-and-abdullah-al-attawi/">used</a> Article 6 to silence dissent. For example, activists Mohammed al-Otaibi and Abdullah al-Attawi, who had founded a short-lived human rights organization, were sentenced in 2018 to 14 and 7 years in prison, respectively. They were convicted in part for “dividing national unity” and “publishing information” about previous interrogations by the public prosecutor regarding their advocacy work.</p> <p>The Saudi government also routinely <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2018/saudi-arabia">forces</a> the removal of online content. In September 2017, authorities ordered Snapchat to block the news network Al-Jazeera, a move that was apparently linked to the kingdom’s feud with neighboring Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is headquartered. In December of that year, Canada-based Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz said that a critical hashtag he created, translated as #StopalSheikFromWastingTheNationsMoney, had been removed from Twitter after being retweeted 6,000 times. In another case, London-based Saudi dissident Ghanem al-Dosari reported that his Facebook account was inaccessible for nine months. Abdulaziz and al-Dosari both claimed that Saudi authorities were behind the censorship.</p> <h3><strong>A global problem on the rise</strong></h3> <p>While content removal requests around the world are typically grounded in laws pertaining to national security, cybercrimes, hate speech, or defamation, many repressive governments use such laws as a pretext for politically motivated censorship. Turkey, whose leadership has intensified its crackdown on dissent since a 2016 coup attempt, is a global leader in content removal requests, with approximately 4,300 <a href="https://transparency.twitter.com/en/countries/tr.html">requests</a> to Twitter alone between July and December 2017; in 3 percent of those cases, Twitter at least partly complied. The government’s requests primarily affect journalistic or critical speech.</p> <p>Content removal on streaming services is less routine, but Netflix’s decision to remove the <em>Patriot Act </em>episode was not the first instance of censorship on these platforms. In India, streaming services are reportedly self-censoring to appease right-wing political figures. Most recently in mid-January, Netflix&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/18/tech/netflix-india-code-regulation/index.html">confirmed</a>&nbsp;that it signed on to India’s “code of best practices” for content providers, thus&nbsp;<a href="https://www.medianama.com/2019/01/223-iamai-ott-regulation-video-platforms/">restricting</a>&nbsp;content for local viewers that “disrespects the national emblem or national flag” and “intends to outrage religious sentiments,” among other things. Additionally, Netflix <a href="https://slate.com/technology/2017/07/american-tech-firms-are-preemptively-censoring-content-in-india.html">released</a> a censored version of the film <em>Angry Indian Goddesses</em> in the country, but provided international audiences with the uncensored version. Amazon Prime has similarly issued <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/12/16/amazon-prime-deleted-a-segment-showing-a-beef-car-because-sa_a_21628371/">censored</a> content for its Indian audiences, featuring blurred nudity and deleted images of animal carcasses. In China, where Netflix does not operate, the Netflix show <em>BoJack Horseman </em>was <a href="https://mashable.com/2017/06/29/netflix-bojack-cut/#edwB548pNsq6">removed</a> from the domestic streaming platform iQiyi, with which Netflix has a licensing deal, two days after originally airing due to its satirical content.</p> <p>Many governments also use licensing requirements to censor streaming services. In Indonesia, the largely state-owned internet service provider (ISP) Telkom Indonesia has <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2018/indonesia">blocked</a> Netflix since early 2016, claiming that the company operates without the proper licenses and exposes users to violence and pornographic content that is prohibited under Indonesian law. In March 2018, the Turkish parliament <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2018/turkey">approved</a> a bill that requires streaming platforms to obtain broadcast licenses and allows the country’s Radio and Television Supreme Council to remove content.</p> <h3><strong>Resisting government censorship demands</strong></h3> <p>Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime can serve as important vehicles for expanding artistic freedom. By producing and airing shows like <em>Patriot Act</em> that merge news and entertainment, these companies increasingly play a role in the protection of press freedom as well, joining other online information sources such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google. The improper removal of content from these platforms threatens some of our most fundamental human rights and the core principles of democracy.</p> <p>Following the <em>Patriot Act</em> incident, Netflix <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2019/01/01/hasan-minhaj-criticized-saudi-crown-prince-patriot-act-netflix-pulled-episode-saudi-arabia/?utm_term=.6b44326445d9">stated</a> that it supports “artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after [it] had received a valid legal request—and to comply with local law.” So how should international companies respond when faced with the choice of either complying with repressive laws or being blocked in important markets?</p> <p>First, they should adhere to the <a href="https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf">UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights</a>. Companies should determine whether a given request amounts to a legitimate restriction under international human rights law. This includes assessing whether the removal is proportional and necessary to achieve a precisely stated aim that is itself acceptable under international law—something Netflix apparently failed to do in the <em>Patriot Act</em> case. Such widely recognized standards can lend authority and consistency to a company’s policies on politically sensitive content and help it resist pressure to censor. </p> <p>When possible, companies should also resist improper content removal requests through domestic legal processes, including by filing objections with regulators and appealing to the courts. Netflix did not seem to have exhausted all of its legal options in Saudi Arabia. In places where platforms are ultimately forced to restrict content, that restriction should be as narrow as possible. Fortunately, only one episode of <em>Patriot Act</em> was removed, and so far it remains available via YouTube in Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>As more countries <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/freedom-net-2018/rise-digital-authoritarianism">move</a> toward digital authoritarianism, government attempts to remove and censor content will likely proliferate. Companies like Netflix owe it to their viewers to resist and help reverse this trend.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/arabian-street-artists/political-protest-not-for-sale">Political protest not for sale!</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nafeez-ahmed/did-us-and-britain-collude-in-murder-of-jamal-khashoggi">Did the US and Britain collude in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Sarah-Al-Otaibi/west-s-approach-to-saudi-arabia-one-step-forward-two-steps-back">The West’s approach to Saudi Arabia: ‘one step forward, two steps back’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/leonid-volkov/western-internet-companies-censor-russia">Why are western internet companies cooperating with the Putin regime to censor the web?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/netflix-political-correctness">نيتفليكس والمنطقة العربيّة سياسات الهويّة لم تمرّ من هنا</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Saudi Arabia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Saudi Arabia Culture Democracy and government censorship netflix Allie Funk Wed, 23 Jan 2019 07:01:00 +0000 Allie Funk 121387 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Political protest not for sale! https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/arabian-street-artists/political-protest-not-for-sale <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Why the Homeland Hack is not a commodity. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Homelandiswatermelon.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Homelandiswatermelon.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>On-set graffiti: “Homeland is Watermelon” Photo courtesy of Arabian Street Artists.</span></span></span>In the summer of 2015, operating under the tongue-in-cheek pseudonym the “Arabian Street Artists”, we hacked the award-winning American TV-series <em>Homeland</em> with graffiti. We were hired to decorate the set of a Syrian refugee camp with authentic “Arabian Street Art” and used the opportunity to critique the show with slogans like “Homeland is racist”, “Homeland is Watermelon” and “There is no Homeland”. The intervention went viral when episode two of season five aired and received worldwide media coverage – people from all over the world found their own <a href="http://www.hebaamin.com/the-arabian-street-artists-press/">reasons to celebrate it</a>.</p> <p class="western">Our protest addressed wide-spread grievances on the dangers of stereotyping and catalysed a discussion led by the many people negatively affected by the propaganda machine of media and entertainment industries like Hollywood. In an op-ed piece for CNN, we <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/23/opinions/opinion-homeland-graffiti-artists/index.html">wrote</a>: “[w]hat makes the show dangerous is that it purports to be critical in questioning the motives of American foreign policy, while at the same time perverting the image of other cultures to one perpetuated by the military-industrial complex.” Reporting on the hack further demonstrated how endemic the problem of stereotyping is, as we were described interchangeably as variations of Arab and Muslim graffiti artists – our own diverse identities distorted to fit pre-packaged tropes determined by editorial biases of the numerous media outlets covering the hack.</p> <p class="western">Three years after our protest opened a world-wide debate, we discovered our own photographic documentation for sale at the Berlin Art Fair without permission or attribution. Nine images of our graffiti were screen-printed in gold by German-American artist David Krippendorff – an “homage” more suitable for the kitsch art markets of 19<sup>th</sup>-century Munich. He titled the work “This Show Does Not Represent the View of the Artist”, a variation on one of our slogans in singular form. </p> <p class="western"><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/01_ASA.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/01_ASA.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>On-set graffiti: “This Show does not Represent the View of The Artists.” Photo courtesy of Arabian Street Artists. </span></span></span></em></p><p class="western">We devised revolutionary slogans, inside jokes, critical proverbs, <a href="https://caramk.blogspot.com/2018/10/hns-diary-3-man-who-stole-nothing.html">nothings</a> and pop culture references to undermine the show and highlight systemic Othering. This intervention was influenced by four years of Arab uprisings, and their failure against the counterrevolution. We injected tactics of political expression and familiar messages to invalidate <em>Homeland’s</em> imposed narrative in commemoration of graffiti that had been whitewashed and eliminated from the public sphere. Our protest was not for sale, but by placing himself centre stage, Krippendorff effectively erased our identities from this act of protest, imposing his authorship, while also attempting to make a profit. To borrow from an <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/don-t-dip-your-pen-in-someone-else-s-blood-writers-and-the-other-1.3533819">anonymous</a> writer, he “dipped his pen in somebody else’s blood.” </p> <p class="western">Rather than engage in a legal battle, we decided that the ethical implications of this story needed to be discussed publicly. Shortly after disclosing details of the incident online, in a bizarre twist of irony, Krippendorff’s lawyer threatened to sue us for copyright infringement after publishing photographs of “his” prints without permission, further calling into question legislation concerned with derivative artworks. Krippendorff’s antiquated understanding of fair use, as relayed in his public <a href="http://www.davidkrippendorff.com/selected-works/the-homeland-case/">statement</a>, was conveniently not applicable to the use of his content – he was free to sell our <em>Homeland</em> documentation without needing our consent, but we were not free to compare his prints to the original material they are based on without his. From the beginning it was obvious that the central issue is not copyright, but the disparity in the powers at play and the motives driving self-serving and commercial appropriation of political protest.</p><p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/02_ASA_Krippendorff.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/02_ASA_Krippendorff.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="160" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“There is No Homeland” Comparison: ASA vs. Krippendorff. Photo courtesy of Arabian Street Artists.</span></span></span></p><p>To appropriate the language and imagery of protest is more than to subvert its semantics: it is to subordinate human needs to commercial interests. In 2011, Vodafone released an ad claiming a supportive role in the Egyptian uprising. Activists blasted the company for hijacking their political cause, especially after its <a href="https://www.pri.org/stories/2011-06-02/vodafone-video-stirs-controversy-egypt">complicity</a> in perpetuating the regime’s agenda by facilitating the internet blackout in January 2011. A marketer working from the safety of their office risks very little by creating a campaign based around ideas of change, resistance and uprising; a protester risks professional repercussions and emotional trauma, injury, incarceration, and in some cases, death. Taking to the streets against an oppressive regime for basic human rights, or to protest police killings or wars, or the right to clean water is a public expression of opinion vulnerable to varying degrees of repercussion.&nbsp; </p><p class="western">Corporate marketing offers an easy solution to societal issues: consume more. It presents the sanitised version of protest, using heroes and inspiring messages, and does away with the tedious debate about what is right or wrong. By omitting process and motive, emotions are served as palatable illusions of fait accompli progress. We saw this go terribly wrong in a 2018 <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/pepsi-advert-pulled-kendall-jenner-protest-video-cancelled-removed-a7668986.html">Pepsi ad</a>, in which supermodel-turned-activist Kendall Jenner solves everyone’s problems with a can of Pepsi in under three minutes. Pepsi was called out for their oversimplification of political process and police brutality, reducing public mass protest to a tacky music video. Not only does the company present an offensive caricature of movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter, but also capitalizes on the pain and hardships of others. </p><p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/03_ASA_Krippendorff.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/03_ASA_Krippendorff.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="161" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>“1001 Jokes” Comparison: ASA vs. Krippendorff. Photo courtesy of Arabian Street Artists.</span></span></span></p><p>Copying without attribution has become ubiquitous due to the ease with which images can now be accessed and reproduced, “like painting out of a tube, anyone can do it,” <a href=" https://hyperallergic.com/467726/the-artist-as-lawyer-an-interview-with-sergio-sarmiento-about-art-law">says</a> art lawyer Sergio Sarmiento. In a recent case of copy-paste, American artist Hank Willis Thomas was strongly criticised for appropriating the work of apartheid-era South African photographers Peter Magubane, Ernst Cole and Graeme Williams and selling them at the Johannesburg Art Fair. Thomas offered to hand over his disputed photographs for a year, a patronising assumption that the artistic merit of the works would eventually be understood and accepted. He evokes censorship as the core of the dispute, by <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/artist-hank-willis-thomas-accused-of-stealing-from-south-african-photographers-peter-magubane-graeme-williams">responding</a>, “it’s a dangerous moment when we start to tell people what they can and cannot talk about, what they can and cannot focus on when they’re making art […] censorship is part of the critical tools of the apartheid government, and any oppressive regime”. His insinuation demonstrates an astounding lack of awareness towards his responsibility in exploiting another’s political struggle, in addition to his reprehensible treatment towards the artists he cheated.&nbsp; </p><p class="western">The issue is not censorship either. Rather, the problem is in the corporatisation of the artist who exploits protest and transforms cultural signifiers into ornamental commodities to be displayed, consumed, stripped of their meaning and impact. In 1998, German artist Wolfgang von Schwarzenfeld uprooted a large stone from Canaima National Park in Venezuela for his <em>Global Stone</em> project, an art installation in Berlin aiming to promote global peace. The <a href="https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10795"><em>Kueka</em> stone</a>, sacred to the indigenous Pemón people, was a point of contention between the two countries for over a decade, as protesters demanded the return of their cultural heritage. “This is all a fraud, a deception,” German anthropologist Bruno Illius <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-venezuela-stone/venezuelan-tribe-angry-at-sacred-stone-in-berlin-idUSBRE85P12020120626">said</a>, demeaning their cause by accusing Venezuelan president Chavez of using the Pemón for political propaganda in time of an election. Schwarzenfeld doubled down on his ownership by claiming to have taken all the appropriate legal measures, but whose system of law are we addressing? Legality is not a frame of reference that is fair to groups foreign to specific nationalised systems. Like David Krippendorff and his “homage”, Schwarzenfeld discards historical and cultural connotations in favour of monetisation; they both adopt a colonial mentality, assuming the role of the “legitimate artist” who, by providing a “platform”, apparently injects artistic and economic value into other’s cultural content. </p> <p class="western">Western institutions follow this same logic of legitimization for their stolen artifacts by promoting themselves as the world’s cultural guardians. They argue that indigenous people do not know the value of their own heritage nor do they have the know-how to preserve it, as expressed by <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHzHGhYlkVg">La Tribune De L’Art</a>’s</em> managing director Didier Rykner. From this standpoint, any agreement to the repatriation of objects is framed as an altruistic act. Movements such as #<a href="http://www.decolonizethisplace.org/">decolonizethisplace</a> and artistic interventions like the <a href="http://nefertitihack.alloversky.com/">Nefertiti-hack</a> call out institutions for their unjustified claims and, more specifically, for their complicity in the looting and theft of cultural artifacts from disenfranchised peoples. The prominence of this topic is closely related to the rapidly evolving landscapes of a globalised culture where cultural appropriation requires the power to perpetuate the stereotyping faced by non-dominant cultures in a continuation of their oppression. The message of the movement against cultural appropriation is that the dominant players in colonial and imperial violence can no longer write the narratives of cultures they exploit. </p><p><iframe width="460" height="250" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZBqnBoQlD54" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> </p><p class="western">Similar to director Todd Holland’s racist fantasy, ironically called <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120725/"><em>Krippendorff’s Tribe</em> </a>(1998)<sup> </sup>- in which the protagonist invents a fake Oceanic tribe and performs every stereotype imaginable to cash in on a grant cheque- <em>Homeland’s </em>contrived delusion of<em> </em>the Middle East and their fictitious refugee camp saw Syrian refugees reduced to mere props. In our<a href="https://fieldofvision.org/homeland-is-not-a-series/"> filmic commentary </a>about the hack produced by Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras, we invited a Syrian friend to superimpose his narrative on footage of the set – “the picture has changed today”, says Wasim Ghrioui, “they now know that Syrians come from the greatest butchery on Earth, not from one of the oldest civilisations”.<a class="sdfootnoteanc" href="#sdfootnote16sym"><sup>16</sup></a> Challenging dominant narratives perpetuated in media and entertainment industries has become a matter of survival for marginalized voices. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/04_Set_Ghasil.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/04_Set_Ghasil.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image of Homeland set. Photo courtesy of Arabian Street Artists.</span></span></span></p><p>If the above examples serve as reminders of questions that have been asked about appropriation, David Krippendorff’s antics are symptomatic of the many that still need answering. Even within the context of a contemporary post-colonial discourse on identity politics, historiography and appropriation, today’s propagandised narratives are easily overlooked in a constant onslaught of news media, concealed in sound bites distorted by online discussion. Calling them out becomes ever more crucial. Artists and activists in communities persecuted for critical dissent understand what is at stake: creativity is one of the last bastions of political expression when oppressors lay claim to all other spaces for themselves. Not only does it offer methods to fragment hegemonial mono-narratives, it offers tools with which to resist, and occasionally reclaim them for the people. Some acts of creative protest become symbols, reminders that the outraged voice of the oppressed has the power to make itself heard. Appropriating these critical works by calling upon biased legal frameworks and asymmetrical historical readings, especially under the guise of “high culture”, reflects prevailing attitudes towards the direction in which power flows. This colonial mindset cannot be allowed a voice in protests against it.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/leil-zahra/cultural-hegemony-and-appropriation-on-umm-kulthum-in-berl">Appropriation and de-politicization: the uncomfortable discussion on Umm Kulthum in Berlin</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/are-litmus-tests-on-culture-spreading-from-israel-to-berlin">Are litmus tests on culture spreading from Israel to Berlin?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Culture art cultural appropriation orientalism The Arabian Street Artists Mon, 21 Jan 2019 11:00:13 +0000 The Arabian Street Artists 121365 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Dangerous Dance: Syrians in the New Year’s Eve https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/the-Dangerous-Dance-Syrians-in-the-New-Years-Eve <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Seven years after the beginning of the refugee question, the situation of Syrians in the diaspora is still fragile to an extent that a happy and short dance made by Syrians in ‘other people’s cities’ is considered to be a danger</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-36034622.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-36034622.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="243" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Since the emergence of the Syrian diaspora, Syrians have been at the center of public storms in their host countries on a number of different occasions, including festive ones such as New Year’s Eve. During the last night of 2018, a group of young Syrian men stirred Turkish public opinion after gathering in Istanbul’s famous Taksim Square by dancing and<a href="https://ahvalnews.com/syrian-refugees/syrians-celebrating-new-year-istanbuls-taksim-square-sparks-outrage"> chanting</a> loudly: “Syria! Syria!” while raising the Syrian revolutionary flag.</p><p dir="ltr">The video of the incident was taken by a young Turkish man, a sympathizer of Turkish right-wing nationalist parties, and was posted on Twitter with the hashtag “#<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%C3%BClkemdesuriyeliistemiyorum?lang=en">ÜlkemdeSuriyeliİstemiyorum</a>” which means “I don’t want Syrians in my country”. This hashtag has been frequently used as a rallying cry among many Turkish people angered by several incidents related to the Syrian refugees in Turkey, which tend to take place especially during public holidays.</p><p dir="ltr">The hashtag, which remained a top trend on Turkish Twitter for many days after the Taksim Square dancing incident, has again raised the question of the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey. While a minority of Turkish intellectuals and<a href="https://twitter.com/banuguven/status/1081261634688110593"> public figures</a> used the hashtag to tweet about their positive sentiments towards Syrian refugees, the overwhelming majority of tweets demonstrated hostility against Syrians with a long list of accusations including “changing the face of Turkish cities,” “chilling while Turkish soldiers are dying in Syria,” and “being the reason for the high levels of unemployment in Turkey.”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">On the same night of the Syrian dancing ‘incident’ in Istanbul, a German right-wing activist posted a<a href="https://www.facebook.com/henrykstoeckl3/videos/vb.100026664648460/235217877377032/?type=2&amp;video_source=user_video_tab"> video</a> of an Arabic-looking person beating up some Germans, including the person who took the video, in a train station close to the city of Cologne, without providing adequate details about the reason behind the fight.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The video taken in Germany spawned a big debate on Syrian social media platforms. The Syrian who beat the Germans posted a<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Syrien.Deutschland111/videos/vb.1804154619808236/1202500706575583/?type=2&amp;theater"> video</a> on Facebook to explain that he and his German wife had an argument with them on the train, and that is what led to the fight.</p><p dir="ltr">Opinions on Syrian social media were divided between people who supported what the Syrian man did – considering it a ‘victory’ for his manhood – and people who found his violent behavior during the incident as disrespectful and selfish, as it might negatively impact the huge group of Syrian refugees in Germany who aim to live a peaceful and respectful life.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Legal Status and Social Behavior</strong></p><p dir="ltr">According to the latest<a href="https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/syria/location/113"> numbers</a>, Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrians, making Syria’s northern neighbor the host of the highest number of Syrian refugees in the world. &nbsp;The term refugee is not used here to refer to the legal situation of Syrians in Turkey because, contrary to the overwhelming perception, Syrians do not hold legal refugee status in Turkey. Instead, they are granted a status called “temporary protection,” which helps them to access free health care, and to have some other basic rights, such as renting an apartment or buying a phone line.</p><p dir="ltr">In light of the current legal status they hold in Turkey, the majority of Syrians in Turkey work illegally in factories based in the big cities for long hours, without any kind of insurance or help by integration programs that might aid them in adapting to their new life in Turkey. The 3.6 million Syrians live on the margins of Turkish society without any kind of political or cultural representation, and continue to spark heated public debates among the Turkish people each time they ‘appear’ on the surface. As previously mentioned, incidents like the dancing ‘event’ on New Year’s Eve occur during the public holidays in Turkey – the only time Syrian workers have to spend outside of their factories and shared rooms.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">The Taksim video has appeared during a complicated and tense moment in Turkish political history</p><p dir="ltr">The Taksim video has appeared during a complicated and tense moment in Turkish political history in which we find, among other events, large numbers of Turkish soldiers in northern Syria. It is this factor that fuels the most common comment regarding the appearance of Syrians in Turkish public space: “Why they don’t go and fight in Syria?”&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Moreover, the Taksim video has come in the context of a lost battle between anti-AKP forces consisting of a diverse collection of individuals, such as environmentalists, left-wing liberals, and Kurdish nationalists, and the AKP government. The battle appeared in the form of the Gezi Park demonstrations in 2013 in Taksim Square, and ended with a defeat for the anti-AKP forces to a rising Islamist hegemony.</p><p dir="ltr">The face of the neighborhood of Beyoğlu has changed rapidly over the past few years, moving from a liberal, artistic, and multicultural country to a commercial market visited mostly by Arab tourists, who are linked to their fellow Arab Syrians in the eyes of Turkish public. The Taksim video was not isolated from these factors.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Is there really a cultural clash?</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Regarding the German-Syrian incident on New Year’s Eve, one can ask why it happened in a country where Syrian refugees have decent legal recognition granted by state institutions, and where serious policies are being made by the state to integrate Syrians and other refugees into the economic and social structure.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Looking at both incidents, it is noticeable that Syrian men are present in both celebrations, while Syrian women are completely absent from the public space in the host countries’ streets. The absence of women in public spaces is a clear reflection of the social structure in the Syrian society in which women are systematically subjected to male domination and oppression. As a result, the patriarchal component of Syrian society cannot be isolated from all the noise provoked when it comes to the issue of refugees in public spaces. It is worth noting that the wife of the Syrian man in the Cologne train incident was German, not Syrian.</p><p dir="ltr">Syrian refugees have fled their country while carrying all their unsolved social and cultural problems on their shoulders, and it is unreasonable to neglect such structural and social issues while discussing Syrian refugee-related problems in their host countries, especially while the overwhelming number of Syrian asylum seekers makes it more complicated to solve such complex problems without decent political and cultural representation for them.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The New Year’s Eve incident was taking place in a festive atmosphere, but Syrian refugees have been subject to violent attacks in most of their host countries including Germany, Lebanon, and Turkey. There is also no guarantee that Syrians will not be exposed to such attacks in the future, given the fragile legal status of the millions of them living abroad.</p><p dir="ltr">Seven years after the beginning of the refugee question, the situation of Syrians in the diaspora is still fragile to an extent that a happy and short dance made by Syrians in ‘other people’s cities’ is considered to be a danger, while the<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWN8UNNWL6E"> criminal powers</a> who are responsible for the displacement of millions of Syrians from their own cities are ceaselessly<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES6KYL_yqvY"> dancing</a> on the rubbles of the Syrian cities that once rebelled against the Assad regime.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Syria-Egypt-post-revolution">أجساد &quot;عاريّة&quot; وأبطال من التاريخ: الممثّل العربي محرّضاً للرأي العام</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/netflix-political-correctness">نيتفليكس والمنطقة العربيّة سياسات الهويّة لم تمرّ من هنا</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Mr-Gay-Syria-movie">Mr. Gay Syria أين أنت يا حبّي؟ أنا هنا يا حبّي</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-Lafarg-factory-Syrian-play-Germany">الإسمنت الفرنسي، والأسئلة السوريّة، &quot;المصنع&quot; كمحرَض على التفكير</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia وسيم الشرقي Sun, 20 Jan 2019 11:39:48 +0000 وسيم الشرقي 121355 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Terrorism policing: the YPG/YPJ, an ally abroad but a danger at home? https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nora-martin/terrorism-policing-ypgypj-ally-abroad-but-danger-at-home <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The erratic treatment members of the YPG/YPJ receive at the hands of Europe’s counterterrorism networks doesn’t look set to change in the near future. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39301596.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39301596.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Johannes Koenig, musician, charged by Munich police for liking an article about the Kurdisch YPG on Facebook by the satire site Der Postillion. Sachelle Babbar/Press Association</span></span></span></p><p>The first time Roni ( a pseudonym) came home to London after his 8 months as a medic for the anarchist Kurdish YPG/YPJ in northern Syria, he was nervous. If it wasn’t to see his closest Kurdish friend — a filmmaker for the same forces — <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/10/hundreds-funeral-british-film-maker-isis-raqqa-mehmet-aksoy">laid to rest</a> in Highgate Cemetery, he would have never boarded the plane. </p> <p>The passengers had not yet disembarked when four uniformed officers marched straight to his seat.</p> <p>“They escorted me out like a celebrity,” Roni said.</p> <p>The questioning was polite and ended in a “thank you for your cooperation,” but it was enough to convince Roni that this may be his last time in London. At least for a long time. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Roni has two passports: one British and one Turkish. He was born in a majority Alevi Kurdish town – a minority within a minority in Turkey – but remembers little about his childhood. His parents don’t talk about it. So he feels British.</p> <p>The questioning might not go so smoothly next time Roni visits London because he might be linked to the PKK — whose ties to the YPG/YPJ are still debated — and lose his British passport. Only dual nationals can have their <a href="http://cmsny.org/publications/unmaking-citizens/">citizenship revoked</a> for being a member of a terrorist-listed organization. To Roni, that would mean not being able to avoid compulsory military service in Turkey, where he would face near-certain imprisonment. It would also add another level of precarity in the UK.</p> <p>So until he is sure that he is safe in the UK, he will wait in what he jokingly calls “Yugoslavia.” Considering how erratic the UK and other European states have been in pursuing their citizens who were former YPG/YPJ volunteers, Roni and his friends in arms will probably not have an answer to this quandary soon.</p> <h2><strong>Abroad and at home</strong></h2> <p>Turkey and Qatar are the <a href="https://static.reuters.com/resources/media/editorial/20180116/armed_groups_list.pdf">only</a> countries to list the YPG/YPJ as a terrorist group, since they equate it with the Turkey-based PKK. Despite heavy lobbying efforts, however, Turkey has not changed the mind of its NATO allies on this issue. Many rely on a strict demarcation between the two groups to legitimize their support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mostly YPG/YPJ-led group formed by the US-led coalition to help push back the so-called Islamic State. The SDF is the only opposition group in Syria that has won significant territory from Bashar Al-Assad and will remain a main player in forming Syria’s new geography. </p> <p>While these coalition countries – for the sake of this article, the UK, France and Germany – don’t let Turkey have its way on how they maneuver in the Middle East, they make up for any friction in the relationship however by being vigilant about the YPG/YPJ domestically. These crackdowns on former fighters, whether to please Turkey or not, are a symptom of ever-expanding counter-terrorism powers across the continent. </p> <p>The UK, France and Germany track YPG/YPJ fighters indiscriminately – as they do all combatants coming from Syria and Iraq – but only on occasion decide to take legal or punitive action, like opening court cases, confiscating passports or marking some with easily exploitable statuses. When they do, it has until now been action taken against non-Kurdish nationals (only <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/19/danish-woman-who-fought-against-isis-faces-jail-sentence">Denmark</a> has arrested a Kurdish YPJ fighter who was also a Danish national) and justified under the heading of counter-terrorism strategy. </p> <p>Those singled out are not necessarily more politically radical than others, and did not necessarily have more evidence against them. Their exceptions may prove the rule, but they also mean potential precedents that could affect anyone else in the YPG/YPJ, including non-national residents, asylum seekers and its PYD political representatives. They indirectly touch people like Roni and send chills across Europe’s large Kurdish diaspora, which is already under the close eye of police. Kurdish European nationals who opt for the more entrenched PKK over the younger YPG/YPJ – the vast majority of them – could become easy next targets.</p> <p>Their selection also reveals the sometimes conflictual, sometimes complicit relationship between the interior, foreign and justice departments – and the expanding ability of law enforcement to play acrobatics in pursuit of whomever they consider politically dangerous, terrorist-listed or not.</p> <p>The UK, France and Germany do not have a consistent policy toward the few returning YPG/YPJ nationals and maybe never will. Yet something can be deduced from the actions already taken and the pathways already explored.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>The United Kingdom</strong></h2> <p>More than 400 non-Syrians joined the YPG/YPJ. Of those, most came from Turkey, then the US, then the UK. The British supported their operations through the SDF with non-lethal weapons and airstrikes in their fight against ISIS. Britain has also sold more than <a href="https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/revealed-boom-uk-arms-exports-turkey-eve-erdogans-london-visit-1561968969">$1 billion</a> in arms to Turkey and continues to court its buyers as a looming Brexit forces the country to find new friends. </p> <p>When Turkey began stepping up its rhetoric against the YPG/YPJ, the UK, caught between the two, wondered if it had to choose sides. In October 2017, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons began an <a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmfaff/518/51804.htm">inquiry</a> to decipher if the YPG/YPJ was in fact the UK’s friend or foe, terrorist or not. Two months before, the Henry Jackson Society had published a <a href="http://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/3053-PYD-Foreign-Fighter-Project-1.pdf">report</a> arguing that returning YPG/YPJ fighters were a threat to UK security. The committee’s findings quoted the report but did not take the same position — it actually took none, apparently more confused than at the outset. </p> <p>So, police continued stopping most YPG/YPJ returnees when they arrived and keeping their passports — an action reserved for citizens who have “<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-issuing-withdrawal-or-refusal-of-passports">actual or suspected</a>” plans to disturb the public interest. Some were detained and questioned for hours. Some have had their movements restricted to certain places and hours, one of the more <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/terrorism-prevention-and-investigation-measures-act">severe measures</a> police can take to prevent terrorism. Some have had their houses raided for incriminating evidence. If the police have found evidence, the attorney general and the Crown Protection Services, have prosecuted. Three cases have occurred so far. </p> <p>The first YPG returnee, <a href="https://theintercept.com/2017/10/28/josh-walker-anarchist-cookbook-terrorism-act-uk/">Josh Walker</a>, was charged under the Terrorism Act with possessing information “likely to be useful” for committing an act of terrorism: in his case, a digital copy of <em>The Anarchist Cookbook</em>. He was found not guilty.</p> <p><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/31/james-matthews-who-joined-kurdish-forces-to-fight-isis-not-guilty">James Matthews</a>’ charge was more direct. The crown suspected him of being trained on a military camp "for purposes connected to the commission of preparation of terrorism". They argued that the same camp was run by the PKK. The prosecutor did not cite evidence to support the claim and gave no reason when the crown dropped the charge.</p> <p>“The whole thing was a mess and a mystery,” Matthews’ lawyer, Joel Bennathan QC, told me. European citizens have the right to be able to anticipate why they might be prosecuted, but since the YPG/YPJ is a “grey area” whose treatment is “in flux,” said Bennathan, no one knows when or why the gavel might fall. He said that lawyers representing the returned fighters speculated that pressure from Turkey, possibly indirect, had influenced the decisions to go after its former fighters, some of which have become celebrated public figures. Roni sees Matthews’ case as a low-hanging fruit: the UK could cave in under pressure in a case against a British veteran that it is sure to lose.</p> <p>One outstanding case could still set a precedent. Shortly after Matthews pleaded not guilty, police charged <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/james-charged-terror-offences-fighting-isis-syria-westminster-magistrates-court-a8213926.html">Aidan James</a> with three counts of terrorism, including “preparation of terrorist acts.” Sources close to the case worry that the charges have more to do with acts the person committed unrelated to the armed group, but a conviction might damage the prospect of a similar defense.</p> <p>In fact, courts could prosecute returning fighters for terrorism if they really wanted to. The UK has almost a dozen Terrorism Acts, including one <a href="https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/counterterrorismandbordersecurity.html">about to be passed</a>, that expands the definition of terrorism far beyond being the member of a listed group. Anyone who picks up arms abroad, not for the British army or for a mercenary group, qualifies. Anyone who travels to an area that the Secretary of State deems could expose the UK public to the “risk of terrorism” can be tried. </p> <h2><strong>Foreign fighters and freedom fighters</strong></h2> <p>Courts, at least until now, have chosen not to touch the YPG/YPJ. Even if the UK finds enough evidence to draw an explicit link with the PKK, they may still do nothing: only one recruit, <a href="https://willrworley.atavist.com/the-trial-of-shilan-ozcelik">Shilan Özçelik</a>, has been convicted for trying to join the PKK. Possibly sympathizers made enough noise outside her prison gates to dissuade them from a second conviction. </p> <p>But police still treat YPG/YPJ recruits as ripe for counter-terrorism strategy. The UK has a decentralized police force, so ten separate counter-terrorism units each follow their own way of doing things. One unit created a <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20180525151226/https://www.suffolkas.org/assets/Safeguarding-Topics/Prevent-/Counter-Terrorism-Policing-Extremist-Symbols-and-Flags.pdf">cheat sheet</a> of extremist symbols, which lists the YPG as “regarded as so close to the PKK as to be almost a subordinate entity.” Several make recruits sign a document that says they will travel to Syria knowing that they might face terrorism charges when they return, and then detains them when they do. Sometimes decisions come from above, like the deployment of Prevent officers to the families of the fighters that fall. </p> <p>John Cuddihy, former head of organized crime and counter-terrorism in Scotland who now advises forces internationally, lamented that broader counter-terrorism policy doesn’t explore the nuance between who is a “foreign fighter” and a “freedom fighter.” He said it is wrong to cram the YPG/YPJ and ISIS into the same category, though YPG/YPJ returnees are too few to motivate enough resources for a customized approach. For now, Scotland, which has a devolved system like Wales, targets potential YPG/YPJ recruits for deradicalization efforts just like any population “vulnerable” to extremist groups. </p> <p>Since terrorism is “drawn in very wide terms,” its application is “profoundly dividing lawyers and counterterrorism officers,” says Bennathan. Indecision – and diplomatic concerns – can mean inaction. When Turkey sentenced former British soldier and YPG volunteer <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/15/british-ex-soldier-jailed-in-turkey-for-fighting-alongside-banned-kurdish-militia">Joe Robinson</a> to eight years in prison, the UK didn’t say anything. </p> <h2><strong>France</strong></h2> <p>France’s stance on the YPG/YPJ is clear: it is their closest ally in Syria, and the relationship – fed by on-the-ground <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/what-france-doing-syria-new-us-military-photos-may-show-too-much-1120332">support</a> and a French <a href="http://ccf-rojava.com/projet/">cultural center</a> – is built to last, according to the group’s spokesperson Nuri Mahmoud. The UK and Germany do not meet officially with their representatives of YPG’s political wing, the PYD, but French President Emmanuel Macron has shaken the hand of the Paris representative, Khaled Issa, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-france/frances-macron-meets-north-syria-delegation-ypg-kurds-idUSKBN1H52V1">in public</a>. </p> <p>The meeting didn’t stop him from also shaking hands, time and again, with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Commercial profit between the two, which adds up to about <a href="https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files/turkey/france-and-turkey/">$14.6 billion</a>, continues to <a href="http://www.ccift.com/fileadmin/template/turquie/galeries/2016/Les_echanges_commerciaux_franco-turcs_en_progression_sur_2015.pdf">rise</a>. Turkey is not just a NATO ally, but also a partner in France’s fight against homegrown terrorism, promising to repatriate French ISIS fighters.</p> <p>In the eyes of the foreign ministry, the dividing line between the PKK and the YPG/YPJ is solid. But the interior ministry could decide otherwise. (When asked for comment on its surveillance of the YPG/YPJ in France, the press contact for counter-terrorism policing refused comment on the domestic treatment of the PKK.) </p> <p>Even without crossover between the two groups, the French police has a big counter-terrorism toolbox to pick from. Since Macron <a href="https://www.sciencespo.fr/psia/sites/sciencespo.fr.psia/files/Terror%20in%20Courts.pdf">institutionalized</a> the state of emergency, police and intelligence have the power to arrest and surveil, after warning the prosecutor, anyone who they have “serious reasons to believe” are “commonly in relation with persons or organizations inciting, supporting, spreading or adhering to a thesis inciting terrorist acts or doing their apology.” These acts must apply to French soil – which the YPG/YPJ has not touched. Police could then play up the premise that they were paid – in non-monetary ways – for their service, since fighting as a mercenary is illegal in France. But no court has tried to push that argument.</p> <p>The last way to catch a YPG/YPJ volunteer, would be to stop them from flying to so-called “<a href="http://www.senat.fr/rap/r17-639/r17-6396.html">jihad zones</a>”, given the risk that could come with working alongside a criminalized group. However, the Senate <a href="http://www.senat.fr/rap/r17-639/r17-639_mono.html">affirmed</a> last summer that it grants Kurdish forces certain privileges: unlike other Syria-bound nationals, fighters with the YPG/YPJ “are not systematically pursued, regarding YPG cooperation with the French armed forces.” </p> <p>But ‘not systematically’ does not mean never. </p> <p>While some never see an officer, others have their passports confiscated, their driver’s licenses snatched, their bank accounts frozen. All of these powers came in with the new counter-terrorism measures. One former fighter sued the French state for how it treats of the YPG/YPJ. He won. Since then, said fellow fighter Serhat Tikkun*, police have been careful about pursuing them down the same alleys.</p> <p>But the drills continue. Tikkun said that he and his mother have had regular check-ups with the DGSI, France’s domestic intelligence agency, since he was referred to psychological services that handle cases of radicalization. That was three years before he left, when he was first learning about the militia. He moves around a lot, so he has got to know counter-terrorism officers from around the country – along with their counterparts in other European states, thanks to Interpol tip-offs. </p> <p>Most of the volunteers that came from France are former soldiers, but some are anarchist, communist and union activists. Of those, many were already closely tracked. Tikkun said that one DGSI officer told him that far-left terrorism is their second priority after Islamist terrorism – and that far-right terrorism comes only after separatist groups, like the PKK, which has risen on their radar. </p> <p>The Senate <a href="http://www.senat.fr/rap/r17-639/r17-639_mono.html">report</a> mentions that Islamic jihad “must not eclipse non-Islamic terrorism,” such as attacks against mosques by far-left groups “notably from the anarcho-autonomous movement, from which several have gone to Syria to fight against the Islamic State, and therefore are trained to handle arms.” </p> <p>Still, Tikkun said that officers would not let him, a self-described communist autonomist, go as easily as “if I was called Mohammed and came from the projects.” Since the state of emergency was declared, several politically active Kurds have been detained for terrorist financing without specification. Even more have been flagged with “FIJAT” and “S” files, a signal for special police treatment to prevent threats to national security. Those marked are not the most obvious candidates, said a Kurdish activist close to them, while those who travel to Northern Syria for civil and political work have been let off the hook. </p> <p>French surveillance of the politically-involved Kurdish diaspora is, to say the least, a sensitive topic. Former President François Hollande openly met with PKK members, but in 2013, three of them were assassinated in Paris. The <a href="https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/240116/militantes-kurdes-assassinees-paris-en-2013-lenquete-escamotee?onglet=full">slip-up</a> embarrassed French intelligence, which since then has been softer on the group and its sympathizers. But with “terrorism” a buzzword in post-state of emergency France, the question of policing is very much back on the table. </p> <h2><strong>Germany</strong></h2> <p>Of the three countries, Germany has the least contact with the SDF and the closest relationship, historically, with Turkey. Its participation in the US-led coalition in Syria is mostly symbolic, while it <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-sells-arms-to-turkey-despite-afrin-offensive-german-broadcaster-reports/a-43188875">continues</a> – despite a current temporary hault – to sell Turkey arms and tanks that it <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/turkey-confirms-use-of-german-tanks-in-afrin-offensive/a-42358565">used</a> in its offensive in Afrin. Germany also leans on Turkey to keep its 3.5 million Syrian refugees on their side of the shore – and hosts the largest and most politically active Kurdish diaspora, the one most represented in the YPG/YPJ forces. </p> <p>This equation makes the YPG/YPJ question a more urgent one to solve. The answer, though, still depends on who is asked.</p> <p>For the federal prosecutor, no YPG/YPJ fighter has yet warranted a charge. The justice ministry has yet to weigh in on whether the group is a terrorist organization or not, but <em>Die Welt</em> reported that it considers it “<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-germany-steinmeier/germany-rejects-turkeys-assertion-that-berlin-backs-militant-groups-idUSKBN1331VK">politically inopportune</a>” to do so while this would anger France or the US.</p> <p>As for the interior ministry, a hint might come in a <a href="http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/18/037/1803702.pdf">2015 report</a> where members of parliament asked about continuing operations against the PKK. In it, the interior ministry said that anti-ISIS fighters (it <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-germany-steinmeier/germany-rejects-turkeys-assertion-that-berlin-backs-militant-groups-idUSKBN1331VK">could not separate</a> PKK and YPG/YPJ fighters) are fewer in quantity than Syrian jihadist fighters, but similar in quality. </p> <p>“We do not distinguish between supposedly ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorism,” said the report. In other words, they may fight for different reasons, but their weapons training – as long as it’s done outside the authorized frame of the German military – could pose the a similar threat to German nationals when they return. The report failed to cite when a returned YPG/YPJ fighter had intended to stage an attack in Germany. But their aims run close to those of the PKK, it found, a group which threatens the territorial integrity of a NATO ally. </p> <p>Answering questions from a parliamentarian in October, the interior ministry counted <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/more-than-120-anti-islamic-state-fighters-returned-to-germany-since-2013/a-46060177">nearly 250</a> anti-ISIS fighters who have left for Syria, half of whom have returned. Of those, federal police are investigating 32, including 27 for links to terrorist organizations; the others for planned attacks and recruitment for a foreign military organization. Seven of them were labelled “relevant” persons and two as “dangerous.” One is still being investigated for possible war crimes. Half of all cases were closed for lack of evidence that offenses were committed on German territory.</p> <p>Terrorism is still not <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56330ad3e4b0733dcc0c8495/t/56b29f27b6aa6091ebfae0cf/1454546728012/GLJ_Vol_13_No_09_Kretschmer..pdf">defined</a> in Germany, but under criminal law, it is illegal to be trained in a camp run by a terrorist organization, to plan an attack in Germany or to commit war crimes or crimes against humanity anywhere. Mere membership of a terrorist-listed organization abroad cannot be prosecuted, however, nor can it justify the revoking of citizenship. </p> <p>But officers are ordered to walk before judges can talk. When Martin Klamper* returned from Syria, he was detained at the airport and had his <a href="http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/germany-new-anti-terrorism-legislation-entered-into-force/">passport</a> and phone confiscated. He is still waiting to get them back and is not allowed to leave Germany until further notice. He said other YPG/YPJ fighters from Germany avoid flying in for that reason, but police end up finding them anyway.</p> <p>Some state police push even further. Bavaria – home state of the current Interior Minister – leads the way, followed by other state governments that have crept in expanding counter-terrorism <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/changes-to-german-police-law-spark-fears-of-surveillance-racial-profiling-what-you-need-to-know/a-44562008">powers</a> for their police forces that skip judicial overview and lower the bar on searches and detention. </p> <p>One additional measure of this kind is to revive the police title “Gefährder,” roughly translated to “potential threat,” which lets police detain anyone they believe might plan an attack. So far, the title has mostly been used on Islamists, and a few times on fascists and anarchists. We have learned of two <a href="https://de.nachrichten.yahoo.com/vom-kriegshelden-zum-gefahrder-125757237.html">cases</a> when it was applied to returned YPG fighters. These individuals have limited access to justice, and their status is not recognized federally.</p> <p>“We haven’t seen these kinds of laws since Hitler,” said Nick Brauns, who drafted the queries for Left Party parliamentarian Ulla Jelpke on how the interior ministry handles anti-ISIS fighters. </p> <p>Brauns also compares Germany’s current crackdown on Kurdish political groups to what happened in the 1990’s, when the PKK was at its most active and most repressed in Turkey. Then, <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09546553.2015.1060226">after attacks</a> against Turkish sites in Germany, Germany became the first country after Turkey to list the PKK as a terrorist organization. Abdullah Öcalan, ideological father of both groups, has promised he would not touch Germany if his supporters were left alone – but his image was banned last year. The YPG/YPJ flag was banned, too, when police consider it is used to substitute the PKK flag. Enforcement has since been devolved to states. </p> <p>If the YPG/YPJ is brought into the counter-terrorism frame alongside the PKK, its returning fighters who are not German citizens – about three out of four, according to the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/more-than-120-anti-islamic-state-fighters-returned-to-germany-since-2013/a-46060177">report</a> that lumped together both groups – face even fewer protections since their cases would be treated by immigration, not criminal, law. A trip to Syria could then threaten their application for citizenship or asylum.</p> <h2><strong>Beyond borders</strong></h2> <p>These counter-terrorism developments don’t stop at borders. Even when Brexit yanks the UK out of the EU picture, intelligence and police coordination, especially within the scope of preventing terrorist acts, will continue. Cuddihy, who helped shape policing of the Kurdish diaspora in Scotland, said that police in Glasgow, London and several German cities share intelligence and work together closely since they recognize that the Kurds share networks across those cities, too. Then there’s Interpol, Europol, and a smattering of new initiatives to encourage intelligence sharing and best practices. States choose how much they share, which tends to be on the rise.</p> <p>Meanwhile, whatever intelligence these states don’t gather, Turkish secret services might. They have official permission for a number of surveillance operations in the three countries and, since the coup attempt in 2016, have been more aggressively on the lookout for members of both Gülen movement and the PKK — which to them includes the YPG/YPJ.</p> <p>How far they can go depends largely on the stance each country’s interior ministry takes. This position isn’t static: it depends on who heads the ministry, what’s at stake in the relationship with Turkey or the US, and what happens politically in Syria. Then there’s what the fighters and their supporters say and do back home. One Kurdish activist in Paris also said that she’s found that there’s an unspoken balance in Europe. When France goes easier on the group, Germany plays bad cop, and vice versa.</p> <p>In the end, some of the returned fighters even welcome the vigilance. They’re reassured that their police are watching out for terrorism, which is what they left for Syria to combat. But what worries them is the amount of information that police allow themselves to collect and sit on. They might not flex their counter-terrorism powers openly, but that doesn’t mean they never will.</p> <p>“You’re on the books until you’re worthy of their political agenda,” said Roni. “We can be sacrificed for the greater agenda.”</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk United States Turkey EU Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics Nora Martin Wed, 09 Jan 2019 20:05:21 +0000 Nora Martin 121243 at https://www.opendemocracy.net السينما والمسرح داخل السجون التونسية https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/prisoners-and-theatre-in-tunisia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>&nbsp;لا أنكر أبداً سعادتي بهذه التجربة التونسية المتفردة في بلادنا الناطقة باللغة العربية، والتي تعدّ نموذجاً يمكن تصديره أمام الدول الأخرى</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-39837212 (1).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-39837212 (1).jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p dir="rtl">كان شعوراً غريباً حين كُلّفت بتغطية المهرجان الدولي لأيّام قرطاج السينمائية داخل أحد السجون. شعور مختلط مفعم بالغبطة والخوف في آن واحد. أخيراً، سأزور إحدى الأماكن التي طالما أثارت نقطة استفهام وفضول في حياتي، ألا وهو السجن.</p><p dir="rtl">أحسست أن الحظ بجانبي حين تم إختياري في المحطة التي أعمل بها لتغطية هذا الحدث، خاصة مع منحنا حرية شبه كاملة في اختيار السجن الذّي نود زيارته. كانت الخيارات بين سجن المرناقية والمسعدين وبرج الرومي وسيدي الهاني وغيرها من الأسماء التي وجدت على قائمة المعدين للبرنامج، والتي لا تتفاوت فيما بينها إلا بدرجة سوء المعاملة. من دون الكثير من التفكير، اخترت سجن برج الرّومي الذي سيعرض به فيلم "سامحني"، من إخراج &nbsp;نجوى الإمام سلامة وبطولة عابد فهد والممثل التونسي محمد علي جمعة وسوسن معالج.</p><p dir="rtl">وبدأت فعلاً بالإعداد للرحلة إلى محافظة بنزرت، الواقعة شمال البلاد، حيث السجن لتصوير التقرير من داخله. </p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;برج الرومي.. بوّابة الموت</strong></p><p dir="rtl">لمن لا يعرف برج الرّومي، فقد كان السجن حصناً للاحتلال الفرنسي، ثم أصبح في عهد الاستقلال سجناً ما زال يعرف بأنه الأسوأ على الإطلاق والأكثر رعباً في تونس، لما شهده <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nyxDDp7x6Y">جرائم بشعة بحق الإسلاميين</a> والسياسيين على حد سواء. </p><p dir="rtl">تأتي تسميته من المصطلح الدارج لدى التونسيين في حديثهم أو تعبيرهم عن المستعمر وهو "الرومي"، أما البرج هو دليل على المكان المرتفع للمراقبة. السجن الذي اعتقل فيه مناضلو الوطن في فترة الاستعمار الفرنسي ومن بعدها معارضو بورقيبة وصولاً إلى معارضي الرئيس السابق بن علي، حصد تسميات عديدة لتوصيفه، منها "جحيم الدكتاتور المفضّل" و"أبواب الموت" و"معتقل المساجين السياسيين". </p><p dir="rtl">يقول السجين السياسي السابق بن دادة دادي الذي دخل الرومي في فترة التسعينيات لانتمائه لحركة الاتجاه الإسلامي في عهد بن علي خلال<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nyxDDp7x6Y"> فيلم وثائقي</a> بعنوان "برج الرومي.. بوابة الموت" الذي أنتجته الجزيرة، "لما دخلت برج الرومي، أحسست أنني في قرية مهجورة خلف التاريخ، فلا نتحدث عن البياض في الجدران، بل هي غرف مبنية في سفح جبل لا توحي أبداً بارتباطها بالحضارة إنما توحي أننا في مكان خلف التاريخ."</p><p dir="rtl">لم أنسَ أيضاً وأنا في طريقي إلى محافظة بنزرت، رواية <a href="https://www.aljazeera.net/programs/outside-the-text/2018/1/10/%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%B5-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%85%D9%8A">"برج الرومي</a>" التي أهداني إياها كاتبها سمير ساسي منذ أربع سنوات أو يزيد والذي <a href="https://www.al-madina.com/article/87912">سجن</a> فيه لمدة عشر سنوات على خلفية نشاطه في الجامعة، حيث كان ناطقاً رسمياً باسم الفصيل الطلابي التابع لحركة النهضة، رواية أرّخت بتفاصيل دقيقة سنوات عشر قضاها ساسي في أقبية سجون ثلاثة، كان أسوأها وبلا منازع، برج الرّومي.</p><p dir="rtl">كل ما تحدّثت عنه الرواية استحضرته آنذاك وكأنني أتممت قراءتها للتوّ، سجن مرعب تهتزّ له الأرواح والنفوس، يرى من يدخله فظاعة خارج التصنيف والتوصيف. </p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;منفى المنطقة العسكرية</strong></p><p dir="rtl">لن ترى وأنت متجّه لذلك المكان غير الجبال الشاهقة التي تفصل السجن عن المدينة، جبال لا يحدّها شيء سوى البحر. يزداد قلبي ارتجافاً كلما جاوزت السيّارة عشرة أمتار، أتخيّل كيف سيكون لقائي مع السجناء، هل سنتحدّث إليهم؟ هل سيفصحون عن أسمائهم وتهمهم الحقيقية؟ هل سيخبروننا أن سماءهم صافية وأن العصافير تزقزق ككل الزيارات المعلنة مسبقاً؟ حتماً المشهد في ظاهره بروتوكولياً بالأساس، زيارة مرتقبة منتظرة، لن تكون إلاّ كذلك.</p><p dir="rtl">بلغنا الحواجز العسكرية، ولم يعد يفصل بيننا وبين السجن إلاّ بعض الأمتار، سألت المصوّر الذّي كان يرافقني بلهفة وارتباك، هل يمكننا تصوير الطريق والحواجز؟ أو هل من الممكن أخذ لقطة للسجن من بعيد؟</p><p dir="rtl">أجابني بسخرية وبرود شديدين، أميرة ما بك؟ إنّها منطقة عسكرية يمنع فيها التصوير، ألم تري اللافتة؟ ساد الصمت بيننا، وأخذت السيارة تسير ببطء، استخرجت هاتفي من حقيبتي لم آبه إلى التغطية التّي فقدتها بمجرد أن تجاوزنا الحواجز العسكرية، وأخذت أسجّل فيديو مصور للطريق الذّي أسرني. التفت السائق نحوي فجأة ليقول انتبهي إنّها منطقة عسكرية..</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;الحيّ يروّح"، إلا أنّه قد لا يعود أبداً</strong></p><p dir="rtl">كان الوضع مريحاً حين وصلنا مقارنة بما كان في خيالي، بل كان أفضل ممّا توّقعت، دخلنا من ذلك الباب الصغير، واحداً تلو الآخر، ولم يفتّشوننا البتّة بل طلبوا منّا فقط بطاقة هوية أو جواز سفر لمن هو أجنبي.</p><p dir="rtl">ترجّلت بخطى متثاقلة نحو قاعة العرض، أطبق الصمت على أرجاء المكان، إلاّ من أصوات الكلاب التي زادت المشهد سوداوية في ذهني. كان رجال الأمن من حولنا كثر يحدّقون فينا بأعين تملؤها الريبة والحذر.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="rtl">تبادر إلى ذهني أثناء العرض، كم من موساري بيننا الآن؟</p><p dir="rtl">دخلنا القاعة التي بدت تغص بالمساجين الذين اختارتهم إدارة السجن لمشاهدة الفيلم، توجّهت الأنظار نحوي، لم يعد يفصل بيني وبينهم شيئاً، لا حواجز ولا قضبان، يتحدّثون &nbsp;بصوت خافت وما إن ترتفع أصواتهم قليلاً حتى تأتيهم نظرات السجّان المتوعدة والناهرة.</p><p dir="rtl">ساد الصمت للحظات، أطفئت الأنوار، وبدأ عرض الفيلم.</p><p dir="rtl">من قمة العبثية كان ومن غرابة الصدفة أن يتحدّث الفيلم عن قصّة "موساري"، الذي هو الشخصية الرئيسية في الفيلم، والذي قضى إحدى عشرة سنة في السجن ظلماً وبهتاناً ليجد نفسه بعد خروجه من السجن مصاباً بمرض السرطان، ولا يفصل بينه وبين الموت إلا شهرٌ واحدٌ. تبادر إلى ذهني أثناء العرض، كم من موساري بيننا الآن؟ حاولت التمعّن في وجوه المساجين كلّما دخل أحد الأعوان إلى القاعة مزيحاً الستار الأسود، ليتسلّل الضوء لثواني إلى القاعة، ثوان معدودة أحاول فيها رؤية ملامح وجوههم التي أنهكتها العزلة وفصلتها عمّا يحدث خارجاً.</p><p dir="rtl">وجوه بدت متأثّرة بنسق الأحداث الذّي يتصاعد شيئاً فشيئاً كلما أشرف الفيلم على النهاية. كم يشبه "موساري" هؤلاء السجناء الذّين لا يعرفون ما الذي ينتظرهم خارج السجن. تحضرني على غفلة المقولة التونسية المتوارثة شعبياً والتي لها غرض الطمأنة عن المُغترب والمُسافر والبعيد أو حتى السجّين "الحيّ يروّح"، إلا أنّه قد لا يعود أبداً. وهكذا كانت نهاية الفيلم.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;باقة الورد والعصا</strong></p><p dir="rtl">تقريباً بعد شهر، وخلال أيّام قرطاج المسرحية، كان لي موعد آخر مع السجناء مجدّداً، لكن هذه المرّة خارج أسوار السجن. في مبادرة نادرة من وزارتي العدل والثقافة وكمسار إصلاحي جديد يعطي السجين حقه في حياة ثقافية واجتماعية على اعتباره مواطن فقدَ حريته ولكن له حقوق إنسانية كاملة، قدم مهرجان أيام قرطاج المسرحي خمسة عروض مسرحية أبطالها من السجناء بمشاركة نجوم من &nbsp;المسرح العربي.</p><p dir="rtl">المبادرة التي كانت بعنوان "أيام قرطاج المسرحية السجنية"، والتي احتضنتها دار الثقافة المغاربية ابن خلدون، لم تكتف بمشاركة المساجين الصورية فقط، بل أحدثت لجنة تحكيم لتقييم الأعمال المسرحية المعروضة، واختيار أفضلها ومنح المشاركين من المساجين شهادات وتحفيزهم على الانخراط في الأعمال الثقافية. </p><p dir="rtl">"داموس 34"، كان عنوان العمل المسرحي الذي قدمه السجناء على خشبة المسرح، والذي يعني النفق العميق تحت الأرض. عمل أدّاه خمسة مساجين بحرفية عالية، أمام جمهور ضيّق مختار بعناية لا يشمل إلا صحافيين ونقاد وممثّلين. مفارقة ساخرة بين كلا المهرجانين، فبالأمس حرصوا على انتقاء المساجين "الجمهور" لمشاهدة الفيلم، واليوم يتفننون في انتقاء الجمهور ليشاهد العرض المسرحي "السجين".</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;لا أنكر أبداً سعادتي بهذه التجربة التونسية المتفردة في بلادنا الناطقة باللغة العربية، والتي تعدّ نموذجاً يمكن تصديره أمام الدول الأخرى التي تتعامل مع السجين على أنه مواطن فاقد لحقوقه المدنية والإنسانية. نموذج ٌبحاجة لحشد كبير يدعمه كي لا يقتصر على مناسبات تنتهي فيها فسحة السجين عند انطفاء الشاشة واسدال الستارة، ولكن، مازال الأمل قائماً، فطالما السجّان قادر على معانقة السجين على خشبة المسرح لتهنئته وتقديم باقة ورد له، فمن الممكن يوماً استبدال عصا السجّان بباقة من الورد.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/node/119198">لن أبكي ضياع حقيبتي بعد اليوم</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia أميرة مهذب Tue, 08 Jan 2019 11:39:48 +0000 أميرة مهذب 121220 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Prospects for Yemen in 2019 and beyond https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/prospects-for-yemen-in-2019-and-beyond <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The fear and terror induced by this situation, combined with unbearable survival conditions are creating a generation of psychologically scarred people, many of whom will never be able to live normal lives.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40471273.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-40471273.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A boy waits for the arrival of UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths at the international airport of Sanaa, Yemen, on Jan. 5, 2019. Mohammed Mohammed/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Less than a month after the signature of the Stockholm Agreement between the Huthi movement and Hadi’s internationally-recognised government, concern for its implementation grows. </p> <p>It was agreed in a rush, under international pressure, for two main reasons: first the humanitarian crisis had reached catastrophic proportions by late 2018, hitting media headlines around the world daily. Images of starving children were made more poignant by knowledge of the scale of the emergency detailed in frightening figures from the World Food Programme and other UN institutions. The issue featured regularly in UN Security Council discussions on Yemen.&nbsp; </p> <p>This extreme urgency combined with the international outrage following the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoqji in his country’s Istanbul consulate. Evidence soon emerged pointing to the direct involvement of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.&nbsp; </p> <p>The worldwide public outcry was an incentive for the US administration to put meaningful pressure on the Saudi regime to make some concessions in Yemen. Calling for a ceasefire by the end of November, senior administration officials thus also forced the UN’s Special Envoy for Yemen to accelerate preparations for a new meeting, after the failed attempt in September. After years of prevarication, caused by the influence of the leading coalition partners, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the UK finally submitted a draft UN Security Council Resolution on 19 November. <span class="mag-quote-center">After years of prevarication, caused by the influence of the leading coalition partners, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the UK finally submitted a draft UN Security Council Resolution on 19 November.</span></p> <p>Its passing was delayed thanks to the resistance of the coalition members (who acted via Kuwait which was then on the UNSC), although the draft explicitly stated that the resolution did not challenge UNSC Resolution 2216 on which President Hadi relies for his own position and the Saudis for the legitimacy of their intervention. </p> <p>The new resolution focused on the urgency of addressing the humanitarian crisis, calling for a halt to the coalition’s offensive on Hodeida and facilitating access for supplies to the areas under greatest stress and in greatest need, most of them under Huthi control. This involved both opening roads closed by military action and interrupting administrative constraints put in the way of humanitarian agencies, national and international. Given that lack of cash is a major contributor to the food emergency, the draft also called for international cash injections in the economy. </p> <h2><strong>Stockholm Agreement</strong></h2> <p>As a result of further pressures on the coalition, including discussions between UNSG Guterres and MBS during the Argentine G 20 summit, a meeting sponsored by the UN took place in early December in Sweden between Huthi and Hadi government emissaries. </p> <p>Lasting a week, assisted by the additional pressure of the presence of Guterres himself on the last day of the meeting, the parties signed what is officially called the Stockholm Agreement, consisting of 3 sections: the first a general statement, the second a brief commitment to form a committee to discuss the situation in Taiz and the third concerning the Hodeida governorate and the access to basic necessities for the country via the Red Sea ports. </p> <p>An earlier agreement on an exchange of prisoners advanced to the point where lists of 16,000 individuals were exchanged and mechanisms for its implementation agreed. The meeting failed to agree on two other major issues: the opening of Sana’a airport, a demand of the population throughout the northern part of the country [Huthi and non-Huthi controlled areas alike] and discussion of the UN Special Envoy’s ‘framework for negotiations’.</p> <p>Composed of a ceasefire in the Hodeida governorate, the withdrawal of both parties’ military forces to agreed positions and supervision by the UN of port management, the agreement also includes the payment of port revenues to the Hodeida Branch of the Central Bank of Yemen and their use for the payment of salaries. </p> <p>The vagueness and brevity of the agreement showed that insufficient preparation time simply pushes problems further down the line. The agreement thus contains built-in flaws, leaving plenty of space for multiple interpretations which, unsurprisingly, each side made to its own advantage. A Redeployment Coordination Committee of 6 members (3 from each side) chaired by the UN was set up to oversee ceasefire and redeployment, and a Dutch retired senior military officer was appointed as chair. </p> <p>Following the Stockholm agreement, a very watered down UNSC resolution (2451) was finally passed on 21 December. In addition to endorsing Stockholm, its main contribution was to authorise the Secretary General to deploy a UN team to monitor the implementation of the agreements. Among others, references to accountability for contraventions to International Humanitarian law were removed.</p> <p>Since the ceasefire came into force on 18 December, predictably, there have been multiple breaches, some more serious than others.&nbsp; </p> <p>The Huthis skilfully stage-managed the apparent handover of the port to the Coast Guard, but it was a Huthi-managed entity who took over, a model which is likely to be reproduced in future as both groups have parallel institutions. To what extent either party is able to persuade UN monitors that their apparent implementation of the agreement is genuine will largely depend on two factors: first the monitors’ actual detailed knowledge of the situation on the ground and, second, the persuasive capacity of the members of the committee and other official spokesmen (no women involved, as usual). <span class="mag-quote-center">Regardless of its weaknesses, the Stockholm agreement is a first sign of hope for 29 million Yemenis who are desperately waiting for peace.</span></p> <p>Meanwhile, regardless of its weaknesses, the Stockholm agreement is a first sign of hope for 29 million Yemenis who are desperately waiting for peace and have been surviving war for close to&nbsp; 4 years, and in particular for the 20 million who are facing ‘severe acute food insecurity’ which is UN-speak for starvation.&nbsp; </p> <p>The likelihood of peace in 2019 is extremely low: history has shown on multiple occasions that such talks are the beginning of very long and protracted processes and, at this point, there is no indication that any of the warring parties has come to the conclusion that negotiations and peace are a better option than continuing to fight in anticipation of victory, regardless of the suffering of the population.</p> <h2><strong>What future for Yemen’s children?</strong></h2> <p>However, to put the urgency in perspective, the following is a brief survey of the impact of the war and its continuation for the future of Yemen, and particularly of its children. They face a multiplicity of immediate and long-term challenges. Yemen, prior to the war the country with the highest illiteracy rate in the region, is now creating a new generation of illiterate adults, as more than 2 million children &nbsp;(a quarter of the school age population) who should be in education are not.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a> More than 2500 schools are unusable (16% of the total), either because they have been damaged or destroyed by military action (2/3 of cases) or because they have been closed due to lack of staff, are used as shelters for displaced people or have been taken over by the military. <span class="mag-quote-center">Yemen… is now creating a new generation of illiterate adults.</span></p> <p>In a country with limited natural resources, any successful future economic development will depend on highly educated adults able to participate in the modern economy. Better-educated people find higher paid jobs and their likelihood of unemployment is significantly lower, and are therefore less likely to join or support extremist groups. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to the generation of children who remain out of education, those schools which are actually functioning only do so in a minimal level without equipment or other basics and with staff who, in many cases, have not been paid their salaries for well over two years now. Many teachers have stopped work, seeking an income elsewhere, or simply unable to afford the transport costs. Not only is education essential for the country’s future but, even now, while children are at school, they are fa<strong>r</strong> less vulnerable to risks such as recruitment as child soldiers, child labour or, in the case of girls, early marriage.</p> <p>Leaving aside the implications for the future of Yemen of millions of uneducated adults, children are currently suffering from many immediate problems which will affect them in the post-war period. As has been amply demonstrated worldwide, low birth weight children are more vulnerable to diseases and early childhood malnutrition reduces people’s intellectual and physical abilities throughout their lives. </p> <p>As of December 2018, about 1.1 million pregnant or breast-feeding women and 1.8 million children are malnourished. Many are basically starving, as we have seen on our screens in recent months, no more than skin and bones, too weak to cry or move.As UNICEF has pointed out repeatedly throughout 2018, one child dies every 10 minutes from malnutrition. More than 7 million Yemeni children go to bed hungry every night, they are half of the 15 million people suffering severe malnutrition. &nbsp;</p> <p>All the malnourished children who survive will suffer varying levels of physical and intellectual incapacitation throughout their lives, simply because of early age malnutrition due to the war. More than 6, 700 children have been killed or severely wounded, 85, 000 children are estimated to have died of hunger, directly or indirectly. </p> <p>Close to 1.5 million children have been displaced, millions more are suffering from the trauma resulting from proximity to war zones, including the many active fronts, but also fearing attacks by drones, air strikes and other terrifying events which can happen anywhere in the country suddenly out of clear skies, day or night.&nbsp; </p> <p>The fear and terror induced by this situation, combined with increasingly difficult, not to say, unbearable, living (or more accurately, survival) conditions are creating a generation of psychologically scarred people, many of whom will never be able to live normal lives. UNICEF and other organisations are providing training to teachers and others in psycho-social support, but at best it can merely alleviate the problem and help victims cope with their trauma. It cannot solve the deep psychological impact of living for years under war conditions and with complete uncertainty about present and future. </p> <p>We have not even mentioned here the issue of child soldiers; in an environment where there are no jobs, where families are desperate and adults [when ‘employed’] have not been paid, joining a militia or other military organisation features as a positive option for boys from an early age. </p> <p>The official figure of 2700 child soldiers is probably an under-estimate, as for many desperate families their sons’ involvement with the military is the only possible source income in desperate conditions where prices have doubled and incomes disappeared. Not only are child soldiers used by the Yemeni warring factions, but it appears that the coalition is also importing child fighters from Sudan.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a> Notwithstanding this reality, efforts to implement the Action Plan to end use and recruitment of child soldiers by armed forces are important.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a> <span class="mag-quote-center">‘The interests of Yemeni children have hardly been taken into account in any decision-making for decades.’</span></p> <p>The cholera epidemic which was the biggest medical crisis in 2017 thankfully affected fewer people in 2018, but between January and mid-November 2018 more than 280,000 cases occurred, including 32% of them children under 5 years old.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a> Other diseases have also become prominent, but malnutrition alone weakens children and makes them vulnerable to suffer and die from a wide range of diseases which are insignificant to stronger children. As pointed out by UNICEF’s Geert Cappelaere last month ‘The interests of Yemeni children have hardly been taken into account in any decision-making for decades.’</p> <p>Most importantly, once this pointless and murderous war ends, the future of Yemen will depend on its children. They will inherit a country destroyed by the self-serving leaderships which have brought horrific and unprecedented levels of suffering to Yemenis, showing neither compassion nor commitment to find solutions to Yemen’s fundamental problems. If psychologically and physically scarred for life, how will they be able to re-create a better governed country able to provide adequate living standards for its people?</p> <hr size="1" /> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> Most of the figures in this article have been taken from the statement by Geert Cappelaere,&nbsp; UNICEF&nbsp; Regional Director for the Middle East.&nbsp; https://www.unicef.org/mena/press-releases/yemens-children-15-million-lives-scarred-and-voices-not-heard</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a>&nbsp; https://www.vox.com/2018/12/30/18161667/saudi-arabia-outsourcing-yemen-war-child-soldiers</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a>&nbsp; See Tweet by Relano Meritxell on 18 December 2018 about an agreement made with the internationally recognised government of Yemen</p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a>&nbsp; World Health Organisation data on 07 12 2018</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/famine-in-yemen-long-announced-now-on-our-screens">Famine in Yemen: long announced, now on our screens </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/helen-lackner/why-can-t-united-nations-bring-peace-to-yemen">Why can’t the United Nations bring peace to Yemen?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Yemen </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Yemen International politics Conflict Helen Lackner Mon, 07 Jan 2019 18:57:02 +0000 Helen Lackner 121218 at https://www.opendemocracy.net كُرد سوريا وكعب أخيل https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-11 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="direction-rtl">الانسحاب الأمريكي سيضع الكُرد أمام امتحان صعب، وعليهم الاختيار بين التفاوض مع الحكومة السورية والقبول بتنازلات مؤلمة على طريق الوصول لحل سياسي مقبول، أو الدخول في مواجهة عسكرية مع الجيش التركي وفصائل المعارضة السورية الموالية لها.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="direction-rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-37543879.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-37543879.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kurdish training camp in Hasaka, Syria. Picture by Sebastian Backhaus/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>لم تكن الحرب السورية الممتدة منذ آذار/مارس عام 2011 بأكثر تعقيداً مما هي عليه الآن؛ فما من طرف إقليمي أو دولي، إلا وينتظر جني ثمار ما زرعه خلال السنوات السبع الماضية، لكن ذلك ليس بالإمكان على ما يبدو. </p><p dir="rtl">يقف كُرد سوريا اليوم على مفترق طرق خطير للغاية، يواجهون الخطر الأكبر منذ انخراطهم في الحرب السورية بالتنسيق حينها مع الحكومة السورية التي سلمتهم المناطق ذات الغالبية الكُردية، واستداروا باتجاه التحالف الدولي بقيادة الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية منذ معركة استعادة السيطرة على مدينة كوباني/عين العرب شمال سوريا أواخر العام 2013</p> <p dir="rtl">التحالف ذاك توطد شيئاً فشيئاً بفضل الانتصارات المشتركة التي توجت بالسيطرة على مدن تل أبيض ومنبج والرقة وأجزاء دير الزور الواقعة شرق نهر الفرات، وهو ما اُعتبر حداً فاصلاً بين النفوذ الروسي غرب النهر، والأمريكي شرقه.</p> <p dir="rtl">كانت الانتصارات العسكرية لقوات سوريا الديمقراطية (والتي تشكل وحدات حماية الشعب "الكُردية" عمادها الرئيسي) تسير بالتوازي مع مكاسب إدارية تمثلت بإعلان حزب الاتحاد الديمقراطي (مع حلفائه من الأحزاب العربية والسريانية) الإدارة الذاتية الديمقراطية مطلع العام 2014 ومن ثم الفيدرالية الديمقراطية لشمال سوريا ربيع العام 2016 وأخيراً الإدارة الذاتية المشتركة لشمال وشرقي سوريا أواخر العام 2018</p> <p dir="rtl">بقيت أزمة تمثيل حقيقي لمكونات المنطقة تشكل عائقاً رئيسياً تمنع الانفتاح الغربي على المشاريع السياسية لـ "الاتحاد الديمقراطي"، فكانت متهمة دوماً بالانفراد بحكم المنطقة، دون إشراك فعلي لبقية الأطر السياسية والعرقية، وجنوحه لإيديولوجيا حزب العمال الكُردستاني وزعيمه عبد الله أوجلان الذي يقضي حكماً مؤبداً في سجن إيمرالي ببحيرة مرمرة التركية منذ عام 1999</p> <p dir="rtl">كان إعلان الرئيس الأمريكي عن انسحاب كامل وسريع لقوات بلاده، مفاجئاً للكُرد، رغم أنه الثاني من نوعه، حيث سبق ذلك إعلان ترامب نفسه ربيع العام 2018 خطط لسحب الجنود الأمريكيين من سوريا معللاً ذلك آنذاك بغياب النجاعة الاقتصادية لوجود جيشه هناك، وتراجعه عن طرحه ذاك لاحقاً، بعد تدخل من الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون، وكذلك نصائح المستشارين العسكريين الأمريكيين، وبتمويل من المملكة العربية السعودية.</p> <p dir="rtl">ويأتي الإعلان الأخير صادماً في هذا الوقت؛ كون المبعوث الأمريكي الخاص لسوريا جيمس جيفري أعلن أكثر من مرة عن ثلاثة محددات لإنهاء الوجود الأمريكي في سوريا، وحددها بهزيمة تنظيم "الدولة الإسلامية" ومنع عودة ظهوره شمال شرقي سوريا، وتقليص النفوذ الإيراني، والعمل مع موسكو بالحوار والضغط للوصول إلى حل سياسي وفق القرار «2254».</p> <p dir="rtl">يبدو الرئيس ترامب مصراً على موقفه بعدم إيلاء أي أهمية للوضع السوري عامة، والوضع في الشمال بشكل خاص، إلا فيما يخص أمن إسرائيل بالطبع، ولهذا السبب فإنه غير آبه باعتراض كبار ضباط الجيش الأمريكي على قراره، أو نصائح أعضاء بارزين في الكونغرس بضرورة البقاء في المنطقة وعدم تركها لمصيرها.</p> <p dir="rtl">القرار الجديد أكد غياب أي استراتيجية للولايات المتحدة في سوريا، وأربك حسابات جميع فرقاء الأزمة السورية، فحالة الفراغ الذي سيشكله الغياب الأمريكي ليس من السهل إشغاله، وكذلك فإن قضية منع ظهور تنظيم "الدولة الإسلامية" لم تحسم بعد، ولعل ضمان عدم حصول حرب عرقية في المنطقة، خصوصاً ضد الكُرد، هي من أبرز الملفات التي يجب العمل لأجلها، فالانتقامات التي حصلت في عفرين شمال سوريا عقب سيطرة الجيش التركي وحلفائه من المعارضة السورية المسلحة مطلع عام ٢٠١٨، هي أشد ما يخشاه سكان شرق الفرات، خصوصاً بعد التهديدات التركية الأخيرة بشن عملية واسعة شرق الفرات.</p> <p dir="rtl">هذا الانسحاب سيضع المنطقة في حالة من التشظي السياسي بين حلفاء الضرورة (روسيا وتركيا وإيران) وسيبحث الجميع عن أدوار تناسب طموحاتهم التوسعية، بعد أن توحدوا لمواجهة النفوذ الأمريكي والطموح الكُردي، وستظهر التناقضات الموجودة بينها، خصوصاُ في ملفي إدلب وشرق الفرات.</p> <p dir="rtl">الإعلان الفرنسي عن بقاء قواته في سوريا لن يغير من واقع الحال شيئاً، فلا تعويل على أي دولة من دول التحالف دون مشاركة واشنطن، وكذلك فإن الاحتجاجات الفرنسية تمنع أي مراهنة على دور فرنسي لاحق في سوريا، وما حماس باريس للانخراط في تحديد مستقبل الشمال السوري إلا وسيلة لاستخدام الملف الكُردي كأداة في المفاوضات المقبلة بخصوص إعادة إعمار سوريا، والذي يشكل ملف صراع بين عديد من الدول والشركات العالمية.</p> <p dir="rtl">الانسحاب الأمريكي سيضع الكُرد أمام امتحان صعب، وعليهم الاختيار بين التفاوض مع الحكومة السورية والقبول بتنازلات مؤلمة على طريق الوصول لحل سياسي مقبول، أو الدخول في مواجهة عسكرية مع الجيش التركي وفصائل المعارضة السورية الموالية لها، وهذا الخيار يعيد إلى الأذهان سيناريو عفرين، والذي انتهى بانسحاب وحدات حماية الشعب "الكُردية" من المدينة بعد مقتل وإصابة المئات، وكذلك تهجير الآلاف من أبناء المدينة.</p> <p dir="rtl">خيار الحرب، إن حصل، لن يحمي أحد، وسيكون كارثياً على حزب الاتحاد الديمقراطي بالدرجة الأولى، الذي راهن على الدعم الأمريكي، دون سواه، عسكرياً وسياسياً في تحديد مستقبل المنطقة، حيث بات محاصراً بجملة من الأعداء والخصوم بدءاً من حكومة الرئيس التركي رجب طيب أردوغان مروراً بحكومة كردستان العراق وليس انتهاءً بحكومة الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، وكل من مواليه، ومعارضيه على حد سواء.</p> <p dir="rtl">سيكون على قادة "الاتحاد الديمقراطي" أن يتحلوا بالحكمة اللازمة لإدارة المرحلة الأكثر دقة في الحرب السورية، وأن يتخلوا عن سياسات أكبر من أن يتحملها الكُرد عبر مشاريع طوباوية غير قابلة للتطبيق، وأن يجنبوا المنطقة ويلات كوارث لن تقي أحداً من أتونها.</p> <p dir="rtl">فالخوف كل الخوف هو من سهم قاتل يخترق كعب أخيل الكُردي، بعد أن وصلوا إلى ربع الساعة الأخيرة من الحرب.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alan-hassan/Syria-US-war-withdrawal">انسحاب أمريكا: ما التالي؟</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-4"> إيران المقبولة في سوريا</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-9"> الثقافة الشفوية الشعبية والطائفية، تحليل مادي</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-10">في الاعتراف بعنصريتنا الإثنو-دينية: تحليلٌ مفاهيميٌّ أوليٌّ</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Conflict آلان حسن Through Syrian eyes Arabic language Mon, 07 Jan 2019 11:19:47 +0000 آلان حسن 121209 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why are there no women in Iraq’s football stadiums? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/nabil-salih/why-are-there-no-women-in-iraq-s-football-stadiums <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Iraqis are suffocated by a rampant militarization and hypermasculinity.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/SAM_1212.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/SAM_1212.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="266" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Picture courtesy of author. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>In the German city of Gelsenkirchen, a female football fan complained of sexual abuse during a Bundesliga Match between <span><a class="western" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FC_Schalke_04">FC Schalke 04</a></span> and <span><a class="western" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1._FC_N%C3%BCrnberg">1. FC Nürnberg</a></span>. <span><a class="western" href="https://www.dw.com/en/female-fan-files-sexual-harassment-complaint-after-schalke-game/a-46492368">DW reported</a></span> that, "The woman claims a male supporter repeatedly harassed her, touching and slapping her behind and attempting to open her bra during the match at the Veltins Arena on Saturday." </p><p class="western"> Another incident of harassment was reported in the northern city of Hamburg where a group of Dynamo Dresden traveling supporters held up two <span><a class="western" href="https://twitter.com/ftamsut/status/1069187556988936192">sexist banners</a></span> brazenly ridiculing female ultras of home side <span><a class="western" href="https://www.bundesliga.com/en/news/Bundesliga/st-pauli-hamburg-cult-club-explained-max-kruse-reeperbahn-song-2-millerntor-475424.jsp">FC St. Pauli</a></span>.</p> <p class="western"> Late last month in Iraq, <a class="western" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Shorta_SC">Al-Shorta SC</a> faced <a class="western" href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Quwa_Al-Jawiya">Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya</a> in week 9 of the Iraqi Premier League. The Al-Shaab Stadium -the venue where FC Schalke had suffered a 2-0 defeat to the Iraqi national team in a world cup preparation match in 1986- was already almost packed over an hour before kick-off. It was a crucial match for both teams' race to climb to the top of the IPL table.</p> <p class="western"> In a packed 34,200-seater, I was searching for any female presence among the attendance, to no avail.</p> <p class="western"> Unlike what <a class="western" href="https://twitter.com/IraqiPic/status/833738700018372608">pictures</a> from the so-called ‘golden-era’ of Iraq often posted by Iraqi pages on social media show, the presence of women on the terraces today remains a rare sight; almost non-existent.</p> <p class="western"> When asked about the absence of female football fans from Iraq's stadiums, Naba Shakir Iraqi women's national team and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya defender says, "In my opinion, harassment on the terraces or at the gates is just one of many reasons that makes us reluctant to attend football matches in Iraq. The main reason is the uncivilized behavior of many. With all due respect to those who create a beautiful atmosphere, but many others have caused several problems in football stadiums during the recent years."</p> <p class="western"> <a class="western" href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6P9Z6F9i7o">Unfortunate incidents</a> have frequently overshadowed Iraq's football scene in recent years, such as pitch invasions, vandalizing and physical assault against players and referees.</p> <p class="western"> However, there were times when football stadiums weren't only occupied by men, and when women would normally attend a football match.</p> <p class="western"> Iraqi football writer Hassanin Mubarak explains that "women did attend football matches but usually the big events, like the 1966 Arab Cup and the 1979 Gulf Cup. The Iraqi footballer and national team captain Husham Atta Ajaj remembered one game which was played in the morning during the 1966 Arab Cup between Iraq and Bahrain and he stated there were no empty seats because they were occupied by female students who had come to watch the game. It was the same at the 1979 Gulf Cup."</p> <p class="western"> Since then, Iraqi society has been ravaged by a handful of wars, a decade of genocidal sanctions and a US-led invasion that resulted in the emergence of armed groups, a rapid growth in extremism and a deterioration of both the economic and social conditions in the country – a combination that led to an increase in the restrictions of women's freedom of movement and mobility.</p> <p class="western"> "People's mentality has changed, and all the wars and years of violence have played a role. The Faith Campaign undertaken by the regime in the 90s also impacted women's status in the country, it was the time when more women started to wear headscarves and conservative attire," says Iraqi author and journalist Aya Mansour.</p> <p class="western"> The Faith Campaign was launched by the Ba'athist regime in early 1990s embracing a conservative religious ideology, and it resulted in the closure of bars and nightclubs, the building of more mosques and adding the <em>Takbir</em> to the Iraqi flag.</p> <p class="western"> Recalling her experience in Al Basra International Stadium, Mansour who attended a friendly match between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in February says: "Everyone watched and cheered, I felt like our presence was unnoticed, and when the national anthem was played with over 60,000 fans singing <em>Mautini</em>, I had an indescribably beautiful feeling I wished could last. There were some hundred women seated in a 'family stand' that night, but maybe because that was a long-awaited and well organized event."</p> <p class="western"> Apart from a few cases, there female fans have been absent from the stands during domestic games for the past fifteen-years.</p> <p class="western"> In Al-Shaab Stadium, as players from both teams took to the pitch to start their warm up, a group of Al-Jawiya fans started chanting a rather unusual pro- Popular Mobilization Forces chants, an umbrella organization of <a class="western" href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/28/iraq-investigate-abuses-hawija-operation">infamous Iran-backed militia</a>s, while one guy waved a large PMF flag.</p> <p class="western"> A few dozen fans repeated the chant but the majority seemed neither interested nor bothered. It quickly faded away, but indicated what could be one of many reasons why women no longer attend football matches in Iraq.</p> <p class="western"> "No one can deny the PMF role in the fight against ISIS militants, but we should not forget the atrocities committed by its members against innocent civilians in liberated areas," Mansour, who labeled the chants as 'wrongdoing' says.</p> <p class="western"> The PMF, known for its conservative views rather than its support for women's rights, may resemble a holy salvation army to some Iraqis, to many others they are a mere façade of widely-feared outlaw militias no different from their predecessors.</p> <p class="western"> "We (Iraqis) have a fear of returning to those days (of 'civil war'). I had to wear a head scarf in 2006. Any girl who wouldn’t comply with a conservative dress code enforced by both Sunni and Shia armed groups could be killed," Mansour adds.</p><p class="western"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/SAM_1211.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/SAM_1211.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="234" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Picture courtesy of author. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p class="western"> In the aftermath of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq and especially in the period between 2005-2008, extremist Sunni and Shia groups transformed Baghdad into a war-zone, terrorizing local communities through a rampant sectarian fighting that resulted in scores of civilian deaths and a significant demographic shift.</p> <p class="western"> Iraqis are suffocated by a rampant militarization and hypermasculinity, whether in the form of armed men at checkpoints and street plaques bearing patriotic mottoes such as "All The People Are Militants!", to toy guns and propaganda music videos. If similar chants continue to resonate on the terraces the result could be many empty seats in the near future.</p> <p class="western"> Nowadays Baghdad is, as Iraqi sociologist Zahra Ali described it, "<a class="western" href="http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/34665">a city of men</a>" where poor female beggars "are the only women hanging around the streets, as most women are merely passing by, driving, entering or leaving a shop, shopping at markets or siting in family dedicated spaces of restaurants, coffee or ice-cream shops. The rest of the capital’s public outdoor spaces are occupied by men, and armed male soldiers and police officers stand at every intersection."</p> <p class="western"> "Young women also fear their reputation would be ‘spoiled’ for entering a male-dominated public place. A visit to a football stadium could end up with them being labeled as 'no good' by our conservative society," Mansour adds.</p> <p class="western"> Today, a significant number of conservative households forbid their female members from watching TV, going out or finishing their education and -in some cases- young women are even being offered as tribute to settle tribal disputes.</p> <p class="western"> The impact of years of gender segregation are also seen in public behavior – on streets suffocated by never-ending traffic jams, it is not unusual to see a taxi driver sticking his head out the window to stare at women passing by while Quran blares at full volume on the radio, or a young man leaning forward to have a better view of a woman sitting in the car next to his.</p> <p class="western"> "I wish I could attend a football match in Baghdad, but I think I would feel like I am under an indirect threat rather than being comfortable," Mansour explains.</p> <p class="western"> It is unlikely that we will see a tangible improvement in the status of Iraqi women when peaceful protesters are met with live-bullets for demanding uncontaminated drinking water, or when young women are massacred for simply choosing to live their lives in the way they want, and especially when corrupt reactionary parties and notorious paramilitary factions are dominating the country's political scene and public spaces.</p> <p class="western"> The Baghdad derby ended with a 1-1 draw.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rejna-alaaldin/world-may-have-moved-on-from-isis-but-yezidi-women-haven-t">The world may have moved on from ISIS, but Yezidi women haven’t</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/zeidon-alkinani/after-all-iraq-s-ethno-sectarian-quota-remains">After all, Iraq’s ethno-sectarian quota remains</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/karim-zidan/ultras-in-mourning-how-massacre-revolutionary-aftermath-and-politics-kill">Ultras in mourning: how a massacre, revolutionary aftermath and politics killed Egyptian football</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/hesham-shafick/return-of-ultras-ahlawy-egypt-football">The return of the Ultras Ahlawy?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Civil society football masculinity gender Nabil Salih Mon, 07 Jan 2019 10:45:05 +0000 Nabil Salih 121206 at https://www.opendemocracy.net أجساد "عاريّة" وأبطال من التاريخ: الممثّل العربي محرّضاً للرأي العام https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/Syria-Egypt-post-revolution <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>توضّح حالتا النّوري ويوسف العديد من ملامح الحياة العامّة في مصر وسوريا، حيث يبدو أنّنا أمام عمليّة ابتعاد مضطرد للنقاش العام عن قضايا أكثر أهميّة</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-31421264.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-31421264.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'> A victory sign is made during a protest held on Habib Bourguiba avenue in Tunis, on Monday May 22, 2017. Chedly Ben Ibrahim/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p dir="rtl">فجّر الممثّل التلفزيوني السوري عباس النوري جدلاً على مستوى "الرأي العام" السوري، بسبب تصريحاته خلال<a href="https://www.facebook.com/almadinafmsyria/videos/278604969525263/"> مقابلة</a> مع "راديو المدينة" في العاصمة السوريّة دمشق، قال فيها إنّ "صلاح الدين الأيوّبي هو كذبة كبيرة"، ما جعل تصريحه هذا قيد تناول واستهجان على <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/medianews/2018/11/30/%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%B5%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%83%D8%B0%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%B7%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86">مواقع</a> التواصل الاجتماعي و<a href="https://www.aljazeera.net/news/reportsandinterviews/2018/11/30/%D8%B5%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9"> الصحافة</a> أيضاً.</p><p dir="rtl">النوري، ضمن مقابلته في برنامج "المختار" كان قد حاول الظهور بمظهر الناقد السياسي والاجتماعي للعديد من مظاهر الحياة الثقافيّة في سوريا، الأمر الذي دفعه لنقد شخصيّة صلاح الدين التاريخيّة، لكن ما حدث هو أنّ هذا الجزء الأخير كان مسبّباً للجدل في أوساط الكثير من السوريّين، بعد أن قامت الإذاعة نفسها باقتطاعه من المقابلة وعرضه على صفحاتها في مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي.</p><p dir="rtl">النقد الموجه للنوري، كان إما للدفاع عن صلاح الدين الأيّوبي بصفته يحمل مرجعيّة تاريخيّة دينيّة للكثيرين، أو لانتقاد الممثّل السوري لتعاميه عن الجرائم الحاليّة التي تعاني منها سوريا في السنوات الأخيرة من قبل نظامها الذي يُعتبر النوري قريباً منه سياسيّاً، وإن كان هذا الأخير قد حاول إظهار العكس في<a href="https://al-akhbar.com/Celebrities/90688"> عدد من المناسبات</a>.</p><p dir="rtl">وبالتالي فإنّ الجدل الذي ثار حول تعليق النوري على شخصيّة الأيّوبي لم يكن منفصلاً عن طبقات مركّبة للصراعات السياسيّة والثقافيّة في سوريا، والذي<a href="http://www.ahewar.org/debat/show.art.asp?aid=96676"> ليس بجديد</a>، أن يرتدي فيها الرأي الديني لبوس السياسي، أو أن تعبّر الآراء السياسيّة فيها عن نفسها بوصفها قضايا فنيّة وثقافيّة بحتة، حيث أنّ للّغة المواربة خاصيّة أصيلة في النقاش السوري العام، لم تشذّ حالة النوري-الأيّوبي عنها.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">الزوبعة الإعلاميّة السوريّة تزامنت أيضاً مع أخرى في مصر، وصلت<a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/01/egyptian-actress-charged-obscene-act-wearing-revealing-dress/">&nbsp;</a>أصداؤها&nbsp;للصحافة&nbsp;العالميّة</p><p dir="rtl">الزوبعة الإعلاميّة السوريّة تزامنت أيضاً مع أخرى في مصر، وصلت<a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/01/egyptian-actress-charged-obscene-act-wearing-revealing-dress/"> أصداؤها</a> للصحافة<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/02/world/middleeast/egypt-rania-youssef-dress.html"> العالميّة</a>، كانت هذه المرّة حول فستان ارتدته الممثلّة المصريّة رانيا يوسف في مهرجان القاهرة السينمائي. الحادثة التي بدأت بحملات تحريض من<a href="https://www.youm7.com/story/2018/12/2/%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81-%D8%B9%D8%B0%D8%B1-%D8%A3%D9%82%D8%A8%D8%AD-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B0%D9%86%D8%A8/4052641"> الإعلام</a> الرسمي المصري، ومن بعض الشخصيّات الدينيّة ليتطوّر الأمر إلى قضايا رفعت بحقّ الممثلّة أمام المدّعي العام، أعلن بعض المحامون عن سحبها عقب<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17x1tI5HFi4"> مقابلة</a> مهينة لرانيا يوسف مع المذيع المصري عمرو أديب "اعتذرت" فيها عن الإطلالة التي ظهرت بها في المهرجان.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>الرأي العام والثورات المضادّة</strong></p><p dir="rtl">توضّح حالتا النّوري ويوسف العديد من ملامح الحياة العامّة في مصر وسوريا مع نهاية العام 2018، حيث يبدو أنّنا أمام عمليّة ابتعاد مضطرد للنقاش العام عن قضايا أكثر أهميّة وتأثيراً على حياة المواطنين في كلا البلدين، تتزامن مع مضي السنوات التي أعقبت ثورات العام 2011 في كليهما.</p><p dir="rtl">فعلى الرغم من أن تصريحات الممثليّن وسلوكهم كشخصيّات عامّة هو أمر جذّاب دائماً للجمهور، حتّى في أكثر البلدان ديموقراطيّة، إلا أنّ تصريح عبّاس النوري، وفستان رانيا يوسف يرسمان صورة شديدة البؤس للنقاش العام في سوريا ومصر، إذا ما قورن هذا النقاش مع نوعيّة نقاشات أخرى قد تجري في أيّ بلد فيه حياة سياسيّة عامّة قد قد يكرّس الإعلام فيها الكثير من الوقت لحياة السياسيّين الشخصيّة وربّما "فضائحهم"، ولكن ليس فقط المشاهير من الممثلين.</p><p dir="rtl">بالعودة إلى مثالينا، نجد أنّ "الحادثتين" تشكّلان مشهدين شبه مسرحيّين ينتميان إلى عبثّيّة عربيّة أصيلة. في المشهد الأوّل يطالب عبّاس النوري أحد أعمدة ما يعرف بسوريا بمسلسلات "البيئة الشاميّة" بإعادة قراءة التاريخ لتحقيق رؤية نقديّة أنضج له، وهو كلام مستحبّ لو لم يكن صادراً عن بطل مسلسلات مثل "باب الحارة" و"ليالي الصالحيّة" وغيرها الكثير من الأعمال التي أنجزت أكثر الرؤى تسطيحاً للتاريخ الاجتماعي للمدن السوريّة، والتي تستمرّ عجلة إنتاجها حتّى اليوم على الرغم من<a href="https://www.elfann.com/news/show/2573/%D8%B3%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%B5%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%84%D9%80%22%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%A9%22-%D9%8A%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%91%D8%AF-%D9%87%D8%AC%D9%88%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%22%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9%22:"> النقد</a> المستمرّ لها حتّى من<a href="https://www.enabbaladi.net/archives/147630"> مشاركين فيها</a>. ذلك بالإضافة طبعاً لتوقيت الحديث عن إعادة قراءة تاريخ يعود إلى القرن الثاني عشر، بينما تعيش سوريا عقب ثورتها أكبر أزمة إنسانيّة في تاريخها الحديث،<a href="https://www.hrw.org/ar/world-report/2018/country-chapters/313126"> خلّفت</a> قرابة نصف مليون قتيل، وملايين النازحين واللاجئين.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="rtl">يبدو الإعلامي المصري عمرو أديب منتشياً على الهواء، بعد انتزاعه "اعتذاراً" من الممثّلة رانيا يوسف</p><p dir="rtl">أمّا في المشهد الثاني فيبدو الإعلامي المصري عمرو أديب منتشياً على الهواء، بعد انتزاعه "اعتذاراً" من الممثّلة رانيا يوسف، قدمّته للشعب المصري بسبب إطلالتها المسيئة لـ"ثقافته وعاداته" ليقوم على إثرها بعض<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WplK2ewuAwA"> المحامين</a> بسحب الدعوى القضائيّة.</p><p dir="rtl">متابعة المشهد تخلق الكثير من المرارة &nbsp;لمشاهدة نوع من "الذكورة الجمعيّة" المصريّة متجسّدة في شخصيّة أديب منتزعة تبريراً لحقّ الممثلّة المصريّة بارتداء الفستان الذي تراه مناسباً في مهرجان القاهرة السينمائي،<a href="https://www.almodon.com/media/2018/12/4/%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%B6-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%85%D9%84%D8%A9-%D9%8A%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85-%D9%81%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%81"> في تناقض مثير للاهتمام</a> من قنوات النظام المصري الذي من المفترض أنّ حجّته الأساسيّة في الوصول للسلطة كانت القضاء على الإسلام السياسي، المهووس بدوره بالوصاية على أجساد النساء.</p><p dir="rtl">على الرغم من التناقضات البادية في حادثتي عباس النوري، ورانيا يوسف، إلّا أنّهما يشكّلان حالة منسجمة مع الروح العامّة للقوى المضادّة لمطالب التغيير في سوريا ومصر، فجملة التناقضات التي تحاول الرموز الإعلاميّة والثقافيّة للأنظمة بيعها مرّة تلو الأخرى لا يبدو أنّها تشكّل نشازاً عن اللحن العام لمنطق السلطة، بل لحناً منسجماً مع السلطة غير الشرعية للديكتاتوريّة، والّتي لا تترفّع عن بيع الفكرة والفكرة المضادّة لها في أيّ وقت، فهي محافظة ومنفتحة، ديمقراطية جداً ومعادية للديمقراطية في ذات الوقت، وغيرها من الصفات وأضدادها التي تشكّل حالات مثل النوري وأديب أمثلة كاشفة عن منطقها المتداعي، والمفروض بقوّة السلطة لا بسبب تماسكه المنطقي.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;الجسد العربي حين تنجح الثورة</strong></p><p dir="rtl">ليس بعيداً عن سوريا ومصر، أثار ممثّل سوري آخر هو حسين مرعي<a href="https://ara.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idARAKBN1OA2Q5"> جدلاً</a> في مهرجان قرطاج المسرحي في تونس، عقب خلعه لملابسه أثناء تقديم عرض مسرحي سوري من إنتاج ألماني على خشبة المسرح. الرأي العام في تونس،<a href="https://akhbarelyom.com/news/newdetails/2771473/1/%D8%A3%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%85%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%84-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D8%A5%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%8B%D8%A7"> وأيضاً</a> في مناطق عربيّة<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWuLqf8_QVU"> أخرى</a> عاد لينشغل بجدل حول واقعة مصدرها ممثّل عربي هذه المرّة مع أسئلة حول حقّ الممثّل في التعرّي على المسرح، وعن الحدود الفاصلة بين الفن والواقع، والحياء وقلّته، وغيرها من الأسئلة التي وإن كانت مشابهة من السطح الخارجي لحادثة فستان الممثلة رانيا يوسف، إلاّ أنّها في الوقت ذاته تدور وفق قنوات مختلفة للنقاش، وللفعل ولرد الفعل.</p><p dir="rtl">فـ"الحادثة التونسيّة" جرت ضمن إطار مهرجان مسرحيّ ضمّ عروضاً عربيّة مسرحيّة متنوّعة بعضها قريب جدّاً من الأنظمة الحاكمة، وأخرى معارضة لها، كحال عرض "يا كبير" الذي أثار الجدل في المهرجان لتضطّر إدارته لإصدار<a href="http://www.kapitalis.com/anbaa-tounes/2018/12/11/%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%B8%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%84-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%A7/"> تصريح</a> توضّح فيه عدم معرفتها بخيار الممثّل في التعرّي الكامل على المسرح، وأنّ نسخ العرض التي قدّمها المسرح الألماني المنتج للعرض مختلفة عن تلك الّتي قدّمها العرض على الخشبة فيما يبدو خياراً مرتجلاً من الممثّل أثناء تقديم العرض.</p><p dir="rtl">المنطق العام لمشكلة الجمهور مع عرض "يا كبير" يتشابه مع قضيّة فستان رانيا يوسف، لجهة غضب الجمهور العربي بسبب ما تعتبره فئات واسعة "خدشاً" للحياء العام أو "<a href="https://meemmagazine.net/2018/12/11/%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AC-%D9%85%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%84-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%86%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B5%D9%81%D9%88/">إخلالاً بالأخلاق</a>" ولكن في الوقت ذاته اختلفت آليّات معالجة الموضوع بما يبدو انسجاماً مع طبيعة النقاش العام في البلد العربي الوحيد الذي بدأ عمليّة التحوّل الديمقراطي بعد نجاح ثورته نهاية العام 2010، فالقضيّة لم تتطوّر –حتّى اللحظة- لدعاوى قضائيّة، أو لاعتذار علني مهين كما مع رانيا يوسف، بل على العكس من ذلك، شهد النقاش العام التونسي ارتفاعاً لأصوات<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQZppYYRS70"> تدافع</a> عن خيار الممثّل وعن<a href="https://www.alikhbariaattounsia.com/%D9%87%D8%B0%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%82-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%81-%D8%A8%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%85%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%84-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89/"> الحريّة الفنيّة</a>، ليبدو النقاش دائراً في فضاء أكثر "صحيّة" وديموقراطيّة من الفضائين السوري والمصري.</p><p dir="rtl">لا تبدو الكتلة الكبيرة من الجمهور العربي بريئة من عدائيّة النقاش العام المحتقن تجاه حريّات الأفراد في التعبير وارتداء ما يرونه مناسباً، ولكن في الوقت ذاته لا تقصّر الديكتاتوريّة في لعب دور الراعي الحريص على تدوير النقاش العام في خدمة حالة عدم الجدوى السياسيّة أو حتّى الاجتماعيّة، حيث نرى في الحالة التونسيّة استثناءً مبشّراً بأمل ما في الخروج من الحالة الصفريّة للنقاش العربي حين يتعلّق الأمر بالتراث أو الجسد، أو حقوق المرأة، وغيرها الكثير من التابوهات العربيّة المحروسة بتُرس الدين، وسيف الديكتاتوريّة.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/netflix-political-correctness">نيتفليكس والمنطقة العربيّة سياسات الهويّة لم تمرّ من هنا</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-Lafarg-factory-Syrian-play-Germany">الإسمنت الفرنسي، والأسئلة السوريّة، &quot;المصنع&quot; كمحرَض على التفكير</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">أورهان باموك والسفير الروسي: المخيّلة والواقع بين مولودين</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia وسيم الشرقي Thu, 27 Dec 2018 11:39:48 +0000 وسيم الشرقي 121137 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Do not take Oman's stability for granted https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/marc-martorell-junyent/do-not-take-omans-stability-for-granted <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>While the future of Oman is far from certain, the world has so fair paid little attention to the turbulences that might be awaiting the Sultanate.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39668835.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39668835.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A portrait of Sultan Qaboos on the window of a vehicle. Picture by Jorgen Schwenkenbecher/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>With analysts and journalists paying attention to the future viability of the Saudi and Iranian regimes, the focus has been far away from the possible evolution of Oman once Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of the country for almost five decades, passes away. </p><h3>Oman as a mediator</h3><p>Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional powers and their impact on the stability of the Middle East is consequently greater. In fact, Oman is often mentioned in relation to these two countries. Two examples will suffice to show this. The first is the Omani mediation between the Houthis and Riyadh. The <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-talks/oman-mediating-between-yemenis-over-u-n-peace-plan-official-idUSKBN18Q26C">attempt to broker peace</a> between these two parties, who have been fighting each other in Yemen for three years, ended up unsuccessfully. </p><p>The second example is Oman’s important role in the path to the signature of the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Sultan Qaboos was the host of different rounds of <a href="https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/07/23/oman-the-unsung-hero-of-the-iranian-nuclear-deal/">secret talks</a> between the United States and Iran since 2012. Moreover, the role of Oman in the Qatar blockade crisis or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have also received some coverage. </p><p>Camille Lons, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, writes that “maybe it is time to pay attention to Oman”. She does so to conclude <a href="https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_oman_between_iran_and_a_hard_place1">an article</a> that deals with the external threats that Omani traditional neutrality is facing from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. </p><h3>The importance of internal stability</h3><p>Ultimately, nevertheless, Muscat’s Foreign Policy, as it is the case with any other state, depends enormously on internal stability. Failed states cannot be proactive in the international scene. This is not to say that chaos will ensue when Sultan Qaboos, <a href="https://fanack.com/oman/history-past-to-present/neutral-oman-braces-challenges-amid-sultans-ailing-health/">an ill man</a>, dies. </p><p>The protests that took place during the so-called Arab Spring in Oman called for reforms, not for the fall of the Sultan. This tells the Omani case apart from the popular discontent shown at around the same time in other Arab countries such as Yemen or Syria, where civil war has been raging on with the contribution of external powers. </p><p>Moreover, intra-Muslim tensions are not a major reason to worry in Oman, unlike most countries of the region. The majority of the population adheres to the Ibadist sect, a current of Islam practiced almost exclusively in Oman. At the same time, discrimination against Sunni and Shia Muslims, whose combined number is quite uncertain but below Ibadis, is forbidden by law. </p><p>Another factor that favors Omani stability is the limited influence that other countries from within and without the Gulf region exert over national sovereignty. Although the United States has long been provided access to three air bases in Oman, Muscat has also been able to maintain cordial relations with Iran. </p><p>Even though Oman controls considerable reserves of gas and oil, all of its neighbours but Yemen have vaster natural resources. Thus, the strategic importance of Oman arises from another aspect, its geographic location. In fact, one of the reasons why the Sultanate has enjoyed considerable indepence is its geopolitical relevance. </p><p>Oman’s northern shores control the Strait of Hormuz, through which <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-oil-factbox/strait-of-hormuz-the-worlds-most-important-oil-artery-idUSKBN1JV24O">a third of </a><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-oil-factbox/strait-of-hormuz-the-worlds-most-important-oil-artery-idUSKBN1JV24O">world’s sea-borne oil passes</a>. Regional and extra-regional powers are aware that in the case of instability spreading to Oman, it would be difficult for any country to emerge as a winner.</p><h3>Why stability is not certain</h3><p>At the same time, there are reasons to believe that Oman’s stability is far from secure. Much of these doubts have to do with the fact that Sultan Qaboos has no designated successor. Qaboos, who gained power after deposing his father in 1970 in a bloodless coup, has never had children. </p><p>The Omani Constitution stipulates that upon the Sultan’s death, a royal family council must be convened to appoint a heir. In case the council fails to provide a name after three days, and aware of the havoc this could produce, the Sultan has left <a href="https://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/case-sealed-envelope-oman-s-path-succession-567113540">two sealed envelopes</a> in secret locations with the name of his preferred successor. </p><p>The uncertain succession of the Sultan, nevertheless, is not the only contentious issue lying in the future of Oman. Although Sultan Qaboos has been pursuing for decades an “Omanization” policy seeking to strengthen national unity, regional identities are still very strong. </p><p>The clearest case is that of Dhofar, the most southerly province of Oman. The region has traditionally been isolated from the rest of the country and has a distinct identity. Between 1963 and 1975 Dhofari insurgents opposed the central government and slogans such as “Dhofar for the Dhofaris” could be heard. While the situation is now contained, the transition process to a new ruler could be an opportunity for Dhofaris to voice their peripheral grievances. </p><p>Moreover, the reforms introduced by the Sultan after the 2011 protests had a very limited extent, and the Omani population does not have a say in the politics of the country. Sultan Qaboos still retains a certain charisma and prestige in the eyes of many Omanis, something that has masked the lack of democracy and the <a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/oman">violations of human rights.</a><a href="https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/oman"> </a></p><h3>Do not take Omani stability for granted</h3><p>It would be a mistake for the world to assume that Oman will continue to be a stable country in the future. Whereas there are strong forces that might anchor Omani stability, much will depend on the transition process once Sultan Qaboos passes away. If the royal council elects a successor in a short period of time, the new ruler will be seen as having broad support within the royal family and his position of power will be cemented. </p><p>The situation will be different in case the election process takes some time, specially if the envelopes prepared by Sultan Qaboos need to be opened. In such a context, those pushing forward peripheral or democratic demands will have more chances to contest the new Sultan. A combination of the two types of demands would constitute a more serious challenge. </p><p>The preference of regional and extra-regional power for a continuation of the status quo is evident, and if need be they will probably work in this direction. However, by now they do not seem to be aware that authoritarian stability in Oman cannot be taken for granted.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nicolai-due-gundersen/patriotism-from-fragmentation-personal-nationhood-of-om">Patriotism from fragmentation: the personal nationhood of Oman </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/tariq-al-shammari/dubai-and-gwadar-silent-economic-war-in-gulf-of-oman">Dubai and Gwadar: the silent economic war in the Gulf of Oman</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Oman </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Oman Democracy and government Marc Martorell Junyent Wed, 12 Dec 2018 09:06:31 +0000 Marc Martorell Junyent 120848 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Elections in Libya: the difficult way ahead https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/amal-obeidi/elections-in-libya-difficult-way-ahead <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Libya conference in Palermo has ended in a renewed push for elections in the crisis-ridden country. But is Libya really in a fit state to deliver on this commitment?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39684629.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39684629.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="361" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>From the International Conference on Libya in Palermo. November 13, 2018. Picture by Alexander Miridonov/Kommersant/Sipa USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Since the fall of Gaddafi’s regime in 2011, Libya has had three distinct electoral experiences, which have in turn given birth to three political institutions: the General National Congress (GNC), the Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) and the House of Representatives (HoR). &nbsp;</p> <p>However, neither the elections themselves nor the institutions that they created sufficiently stabilized the country. The former faced serious security and participation issues. Minorities, such as the Amazigh (Berbers), Toubou and Tuareg, were underrepresented and boycotted the electoral process, while in regions and cities controlled by extremist organizations like the Islamic State (ISIS) – for example Derna in the East and Sirte in the centre of the country – people were unable to vote. The latter in turn soon failed to live up to public expectations and did not meaningfully restore trust in politics on a more general basis. </p> <h3><strong>The roots of political crisis &nbsp;</strong></h3> <p>Rather, the GNC that was elected on July 7, 2012, only exacerbated the already existing political divide within the country by refusing to step down after the official expiration of its term. Even though the HoR was created as part of an initiative set forth by a GNC-committee itself, it did not eventually replace the GNC as was envisioned. Rather, the elections in June 2014 led to the rule of two opposing governments in Libya. The HoR moved to the city of Tobruk in the East and the GNC was reinstated in Tripoli. Additionally, the UN-brokered Skhirat agreement that was signed in December 2015 and aimed at a reunification of the Libyan governments unintentionally worsened the situation.</p> <p>As a result of the agreement, even more political bodies and institutions were created, the most important of which was the Presidential Council, whose nine members under chairman Fayez al-Sarraj now presided over the newly founded Government of National Accord. At the same time, the HoR that supposedly acted as the country’s legislative body refused to and still refuses to recognise the cabinet nominated by the Presidential Council and, moreover, allied with Khalifa Haftar, the Commander of the Libyan National Army.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>Elections and challenges</strong>&nbsp;</h3> <p>For the past two years, a number of international initiatives have tried to resolve the confusion and the political chaos that were created by all of this. Their most prominent proposal has been the call for early presidential and parliamentary elections, which has also been echoed in the resolutions of the Paris meeting of May 2018, in the course of which most of the important Libyan actors pledged to facilitate new elections by December 2018. To attain that, the relevant institutions in Libya are supposed to be supported by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Similarly, the <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/11/19/the-palermo-conference-on-libya-a-diplomatic-test-for-italys-new-government/">Palermo conference</a> that was held in early November resulted in a new road map that envisions elections in the spring of 2019. </p><p>However, these plans are criticized by various commentators as being too vague and utterly unrealistic in the face of a myriad of political and societal obstacles. As outlined in the <a href="https://www.bti-project.org/en/reports/country-reports/detail/itc/lby/ity/2018/itr/mena/">BTI country report on Libya</a>, the country’s “immediate challenges are security, the proliferation of militias and the expansion of violence, fuelled by economic crisis, rivalries between forces in the east and west, and by regional powers.” Given that “the conflict is intensifying, blocking potential for stabilizing the economy and revitalizing state institutions”, a call for early elections might in the end be utopian at best. </p> <p>And these are not the only challenges facing potential future elections. A central obstacle might be presented by the absence of any clear-cut legislative framework. As argued by Elhadi Buhamra, a member of the CDA, “there can be no elections without constitutional rule, because the constitutional declaration of 2011 has exhausted its amendments”. In that respect, Buhamra has suggested two solutions. The first would be to “amend the constitutional declaration to allow a fourth transitional phase”, which would in turn need a two-thirds majority in the HoR. The second would be to hold a referendum on the constitution. </p> <p>Given these fundamental hurdles to a meaningful electoral process in Libya, international conferences alone, such as those recently held in Paris and Palermo, will most likely not be able to overcome the political crisis in Libya. While they are part of a potential solution, a sustainable resolution of the political divide and the security unrest in Libya, which have taken hold of the country since the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, will certainly require the cooperation of politically relevant elites inside of Libya. After all, initiating a more decisive Libyan-Libyan dialogue with UN support might be the only way to move forward.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/chiara-loschi/eu-response-to-libyan-crisis-shallow-impact-with-short-term-vis">The EU response to the Libyan crisis: shallow impact with a short-term vision</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alison-pargeter/libya-damned-if-we-do-and-damned-if-we-don-t">Libya: damned if we do and damned if we don’t</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stefan-salomon/brother-where-art-thou-libya-spaces-of-violence-and-diffusion-">Brother, where art thou? Libya, spaces of violence and the diffusion of knowledge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/whatever-happened-peace-arms-oil-war-proxy-syria-middle-east-military-industrial">Whatever happened to peace? Arms, oil and war by proxy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Libya Democracy and government elections Amal Obeidi Tue, 11 Dec 2018 14:14:25 +0000 Amal Obeidi 120845 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bullying Iran will not work https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/mehrdad-khonsari/bullying-iran-will-not-work <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The US narrative should be adjusted in such way to be more in ‘synch’ with realities on the ground and not simply restricted to hostile and at times highly exaggerated denunciations.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-40039815.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-40039815.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Iranians wave national flags as they listen to a public speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the eastern city of Shahroud on the 4th of December 2018. Picture by Ebrahim Seydi/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>While Iran’s regional adversaries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia along with some Iranian opposition groups may feel encouraged by President Trump’s psychological war against Iran symbolized by his rejection of the nuclear agreement and the re-imposition of US sanctions, they are, somewhat less certain about his end game. This is due to the fact that US policy on the one hand hints at promoting regime change in all but name while on the other, it seeks to pressure Iran for talks regarding a new ‘deal’, which would ostensibly make regime change redundant.</p> <p>Signals from Washington are probably equally confusing for the Iranian authorities. While it is easy on the one hand for all parties to unanimously dismiss American ‘maximalist demands’, there are no doubt serious divisions at the highest levels on the subject of engagement with the US. Some senior figures, concerned with the deteriorating state of the Iranian economy and its resultant effect on the lives of an already restive population, seek new ways for ending Iran’s 40-year old estrangement with the US. Others, however, led most crucially by the Iranian Supreme Leader are convinced that any such rapprochement would initiate a process whereby their domination of the Iranian state could be irrevocably reversed.</p> <p>With Russian, Chinese and European backing in every feasible way, the Islamic regime is more than likely to withstand US pressures for at least the remainder of Trump’s current term. By violating the nuclear deal, instead of isolating Iran, the US administration has in fact isolated itself. Also, failure on its part to in any way alter the status quo in Iran in the next several months is more likely to seriously dent the administration’s own credibility as it prepares for the upcoming presidential elections.</p> <p>At the regional level, it would also be a mistake to miscalculate Iran’s capabilities for fending off US led pressures aimed at curbing its power and influence. Apart from being one of the most stable countries in the Middle East, it is a fact that no final outcome for the various existing regional conflicts can be attained without explicit Iranian cooperation. If anything, events in the past few years, ranging from the tacit breakup of the GCC and the surreal behaviour of Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen and their efforts to overpower and intimidate smaller Gulf countries like Qatar, have only helped to solidify and strengthen Iran’s position in the region. Recent events such as the grotesque murder of Jamal Khasooghi and the absurd military adventures of the UAE in wanting to expand its so-called ‘military presence’ to areas as far away from its tiny homeland as the Horn of Africa, have in the eyes of many regional players exonerated Iran and legitimized its actions.</p> <p>US sanctions will almost certainly affect the lives of ordinary citizens in Iran who are the most obvious victims of a contracting economy plagued by hyperinflation, rising unemployment and unchecked corruption. However, it does not necessarily follow that a disgruntled public will have the capacity for implementing the kind of political change sought by Washington and its regional friends - especially in view of the fact that the Iranian regime is not isolated as before and enjoys open support from Russia, China and the EU. </p> <p>Moreover, contrary to conventional wisdom, many regional states are themselves weary of any major change in Iran that results in a situation whereby they are overwhelmed by a fortified and arrogant Saudi state, which is perceived by countries like Oman and Qatar to be a more dangerous irritation. Similar considerations also apply to Iraq and Turkey with whom Iran enjoys wide economic ties and broad consensus on a number of key ethnic and sectarian issues. </p> <h3> <strong>A more constructive approach</strong></h3> <p>Instead of pointless bullying, it is more prudent for all parties wanting to see positive change in Iran to focus more on the genuine disagreements that currently exist over a number of key issues among the Iranian ruling establishment and most notably the subject of engagement with the US. Today, there are many senior officials who have come to the conclusion that Iranian national interests dictate that the whole question of Iran-US relations be revisited on the basis of current priorities and not events that transpired more than 40 years ago. Opposed to them are smaller groupings under the thumb of the Supreme Leader and in possession of almost all the key levers of real power in Iran, who see uncompromising hostility towards the US as the best camouflage for protecting their power and their ill-gotten gains from corrupt and unchecked practices. </p> <p>Instead of exploiting these differences, US grandstanding that makes no distinction between potential friends and hardened enemies only incites various political rivals inside the ruling establishment to work together against a common existential threat.&nbsp; </p><p>While there are clear limitations to what the US can do, the process for positive and peaceful change in Iran – such as ‘national reconciliation’, which can only be orchestrated by Iranians themselves can nevertheless be advanced if US narrative was adjusted in such way to be more in ‘synch’ with realities on the ground and not simply restricted to hostile and at times highly exaggerated denunciations.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/rahman-bouzari/iranian-pseudo-anti-imperialism">Iranian pseudo anti-imperialism </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mehrdad-khonsari/can-iran-turn-crisis-into-opportunity">Can Iran turn crisis into opportunity?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ahmad-mohammadpour/looking-from-within-is-nuclear-deal-big-deal-for-iranian-p">Looking from within: is the nuclear deal a big deal for the Iranian people?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sara-takafori/eyes-of-iran-and-its-children-ordinary-lives-iranian-sanctions-and-donald-trump-s-reje">The eyes of Iran and its children: ordinary lives, Iranian sanctions and Donald Trump’s rejection of the nuclear deal</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iran Mehrdad Khonsari Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:48:12 +0000 Mehrdad Khonsari 120850 at https://www.opendemocracy.net إمبراطورية الكلاشينكوف https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/kalashnikov-kingdom%20 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="p1" dir="rtl">في الواقع، ثمة عوامل عدة تفسر انتشار هذا السلاح في العالم العربي، منها سعره الرخيص نسبياً&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="rtl">&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-15698414.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-15698414.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A man holds a Kalashnikov in front of a destroyed house in Aleppo, Syria, 03 February 2013. An airstrike on Sunday destroyed a house and killed and injured several people. Thomas Rassloff/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>تبدأ الحروب وتنتهي، تتقدم الجيوش وتتراجع، وحده سلاح الكلاشينكوف صامدٌ يقاوم كل هذه المتغيرات. الكلاشنكوف، هو سلاحٌ اعتادت العيون على رؤيته وتمييزه، ففي كل مرة تشاهد فيها نشرة الأخبار أو فيلماً من أفلام الحركة أو وثائقي ما، ستصادف مقاتلاً أو مجموعة مقاتلين يلوحون بهذه البندقية الهجومية.</p><p dir="rtl">ومنذ أكثر من سبعين عاماً أصبح الكلاشنكوف حاضراً في المواجهات الحربية وحروب الشوارع تحديداً. كما بقى السلاح المفضل لدى الفاعلين من غير الدول؛<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/29/why-jihadi-terrorists-swapped-suicide-belts-kalashnikov-ak-47s"> كالجماعات المسلحة</a>، والحركات القبلية، وعصابات المافيا وغيرها، ولتكتمل أسطورته الثورية، تتزين بعض أعلام الدول بأيقونته، كعلم دولة موزمبيق التي عانت من الحرب الأهلية لأكثر من عشر سنوات. كما أن عدداً من أعلام الجماعات المسلحة والثورية والإسلامية في عدة دول تحمل صورة الكلاشينكوف، كعلم حزب الله في لبنان، وأنصار الله الحوثيين في اليمن، وفيلق بدر في العراق، أنصار بيت المقدس في مصر، وحركة الشباب المجاهدين الصومالية، وألوية الفرقان في سوريا، والقوات المسلحة الثورية الكولومبية (فارك).</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>البداية </strong></p><p dir="rtl">اشتهرت بندقية الكلاشنكوف باسم مخترعه<a href="https://www.biography.com/people/mikhail-kalashnikov-21226419"> ميخائيل كلاشينكوف</a> (1919-2013)، إلا أنها تُعرف لدى العسكريين باسم AK-47. وبدأت حكاية البندقية في ذهن ميخائيل بعد إصابته بجروح في إحدى معارك الحرب السوفيتية-الألمانية عام 1941، وكان قد التحق بالجيش كتقنيّ دبابات، وطيلة فترة النقاهة كان يحلم بسلاح يُنهي التفوق الألماني. </p><p dir="rtl">وفي عام 1947 صمّم النموذج الأول لهذا السلاح، واستُخدم في المعارك كسلاح سري سوفيتي. وكان التتويج المحوري للكلاشنكوف بجعله السلاح الرسمي للاتحاد السوفييتي. وكتكريم معنوي لمخترعه نال صاحبه جائزة ستالين وهو في التاسعة والعشرين من عمره، واعتبر بطلٌ قوميٌ روسيٌ، ثم تتالت عليه<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNEevm__VLM"> الأوسمة والتكريمات</a>. </p><p dir="rtl">وظهر الكلاشنكوف كرمز للتفوق السوفيتي، خاصة مع توفير إنتاج ضخم له وتصديره لحلفاء الاتحاد، فأصبح المساند للحركات الثورية والتحررية، وأصبح رمزاً لنضال الشيوعية ضد الإمبريالية الغربية، تمثّل ذلك بعدة معارك ضد الجيش الأمريكي، كانت ذروتها في <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTkL-2rEaMI">الفيتنام</a>. </p><p dir="rtl">غير أنه عرف تحولاً كبيراً، ومفاجئاً في حرب أفغانستان، فقد أضحى السلاح المفضل للمجاهدين الأفغان، فاستعمل لأول مرة ضد الجيش السوفيتي، وأصبح بيد الأعداء - أي الحركات الأفغانية المقاتلة - وبتمويل أمريكي أي المعسكر الغربي لشراء هذا السلاح. كما خلّف قتلى للجيش السوفيتي في مناطق أخرى كالشيشان، إلا أنه عاد ليرتد على الأمريكان أيضاً في حربهم في أفغانستان، معلناً وفاءه للحروب الطويلة فوق أي معسكر.</p><p dir="rtl">وعلى المستوى التقني كان المصنع السوفييتي هو المطور الوحيد للسلاح، فطوُرت نماذج منه بعيارات وأحجام مختلفة لتحقق وزناً أخف ومدى أبعد للسلاح، كما طُور منه <a href="https://arabic.sputniknews.com/world/201703221022995582-%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%B5%D9%86%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%AF%D8%A9/">نسخاً مقلد</a>ةً عدة، مما جعل هذا السلاح التدميري نسبياً رخيصاً ومتوفراً بكثرة. </p><p dir="rtl">هذه الخواص أهلته لينافس بندقية<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M16_rifle"> M16</a> الأمريكية، إذ غالباً ما يقارن بها، لكنه ينفرد -الكلاشنكوف- عنها بشهرته الواسعة وتصنيعه بأكثر من 30 دولة واستخدامه رسمياً كسلاح للجيش <a href="https://ramallah.news/post/91317/%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%AD-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%87%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9">بأكثر من 100</a>، مما أهّله ليكون أكثر الأسلحة انتشاراً في العالم، إذ يشكل حوالي<a href="https://www.annahar.com/article/282964-%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D9%82%D8%AF-%D9%84%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B1%D9%81%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81"> 80 بالمئة</a> من مبيعات الأسلحة الأوتوماتيكية المنتشرة في السوق السوداء العالمية للأسلحة الصغيرة. </p><p dir="rtl"><strong>الكلاشينكوف وحروب المنطقة</strong></p><p dir="rtl">هذه الحرب التي تشن باستخدام الكلاشينكوف لها نصيبها في العالم العربي؛ فمن جرائم الشرف إلى جرائم الأصوليات وتصفية النعرات القبلية والحروب الأهلية. وقد كانت بداية استخدامه في &nbsp;العالم العربي خلال <a href="https://raseef22.com/politics/2016/11/10/%D9%82%D8%B5%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AD%D9%8A/">صفقة تسليح سوفيتية للجمهورية المصرية 1955</a>، ثم أصبح سلاحاً رئيسياً لعدة دول عربية يستخدم في الحروب كما في الجزائر، والسودان، وسوريا، والعراق، ومصر، واليمن، دافعاً ببعض هذه الدول لتصنيعه محلياً.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="rtl">وبفعل التحولات الدولية، انتقل هذا السلاح إلى أيدي<a href="https://www.syria.tv/content/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8-%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%88%D9%85%D9%87%D8%AC%D9%91%D9%8E%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86">&nbsp;</a>المقاتلين في الحروب الأهلية ولاحقاً ليد الجماعات الإسلامية</p><p dir="rtl">كما أصبح الكلاشنكوف في أوج الثورة الفلسطينية <a href="https://www.alghad.com/articles/523348-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%86">سلاح المقاومين</a> الأول ضد الجيش الإسرائيلي، و<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1970/10/25/archives/kalashnikov-rifle-a-grim-arab-symbol.html">رمزاً للمقاومة الفلسطينية</a>، وقد حصلوا عليه من مصادر متعددة بتسهيل من دول الجوار. واستعمل بداية في معركة الكرامة 1968، كما استخدم في <a href="https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5226092">عملية ميونيخ</a> ضد الرياضيين الإسرائيليين عام 1972، وأصبح رفيقاً للفدائيين في الأردن، والفلسطينيين في المخيمات الفلسطينية في لبنان. وأضحى في الانتفاضات الفلسطينية المتعاقبة سلاحاً رئيسياً <a href="https://ramallah.news/post/91317/%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%AD-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%87%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9">لمقاتلي حماس</a> على سبيل المثال.</p><p dir="rtl">وبفعل التحولات الدولية، انتقل هذا السلاح إلى أيدي<a href="https://www.syria.tv/content/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%86%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A8-%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%88%D9%85%D9%87%D8%AC%D9%91%D9%8E%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86"> </a>المقاتلين في الحروب الأهلية ولاحقاً ليد الجماعات الإسلامية، فاعتبر السلاح المفضل للأطراف المتنازعة خلال الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية والعشرية السوداء في الجزائر. كما تجدد استخدامه مؤخراً بكثافة في الحروب التي نشأت على خلفية الديكتاتوريات المقاومة للربيع العربي كما في سوريا وليبيا واليمن. </p><p dir="rtl">في الواقع، ثمة عوامل عدة تفسر انتشار هذا السلاح في العالم العربي، فقد استفادت عدة جهات من الظروف الأمنية المضطربة لتهريب هذا السلاح إلى داخل هذه الدول وبيعه بسعر رخيص نسبياً، حيث يشير <a href="https://www.gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Transnational_Crime-final.pdf">تقرير النزاهة المالية العالمية</a> حول الجريمة العابرة للحدود والعالم النامي الصادر عام 2017، إلى أن سعر الكلاشنكوف يقدر بأقل من 2100 دولاراً أمريكياً في سوريا، مقابل 1606 دولاراً في لبنان، غير أنه ينخفض لحوالي 1396 دولاراً في اليمن، وإلى أقل من 700 دولاراً في كردستان العراق، وهي أرقام منخفضة مقارنة مثلاً بثمنه في غرف الإنترنت المظلم Dark web، حيث يبلغ سعره أكثر من 2800 دولار، وبذلك، تُشكل أسعاره المنخفضة عاملاً مشجعاً على اقتنائه للتعبير عن الرجولة والشهامة والوجاهة الاجتماعية أو لاستخدامه في حروب منطقتنا الدامية.</p><p dir="rtl">إذ أن لثقافة&nbsp;<a href="https://www.al-akhbar.com/International/167387">حمل السلاح </a>في بعض الدول العربية دوراً أيضاً، كما في <a href="https://alwafd.news/%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%88%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1/760830-%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%80-%D9%87%D9%86%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%B9">صعيد مصر</a>، وعند قبائل <a href="https://www.skynewsarabia.com/varieties/720207-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9">اليمن </a>و<a href="http://www.theniles.org/ar/articles/culture/56/">السودان</a> وغيرها، وتتفاوت التقديرات حول حجم قطع السلاح المنتشرة، وقد حاولت الحكومات في هذه البلدان جمع الأسلحة والتخلص منها، غير أن الاضطرابات الإقليمية المتتالية تساهم في استمرار انتشاره.</p><p>لم يكسب مخترع الكلاشينكوف أموالاً وثروات من بندقيته المخترعة هذه، والتي وصفها عدة مرات على أنها البندقية البسيطة والموثوقة وسهلة الاستخدام، وبرغم فخره لصنعه هذا السلاح، إلا أنه قد عبّر عدة مرات عن<a href="https://www.annahar.com/article/99132-%D9%85%D8%AE%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%B9-%D9%83%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81-%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%85-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D9%88%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%87"> ندمه</a> من استخدام سلاحه في قتل المدنيين. أما أمراء الحروب في منطقتنا، فمن غير ندم صنعوا من هذا السلاح أموالاً وثروات، وقدموه لتأجيج كل النعرات الطائفية والإثنية في منطقتنا، مما جعل هذه البندقية السلاح <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11714558/AK-47-Kalashnikov-The-firearm-which-has-killed-more-people-than-any-other.html">الأكثر قتلاً</a> للمدنيين. ومازال هذا السلاح يحصد أرواح المدنيين يومياً في سوريا التي تدعمها روسيا يومياً بأسلحتها، واليمن الذي كان يوماً يطلق عليه اليمن السعيد قبل أن يشهد حروبه ونزاعاته.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Morocco-Nightwatchman">الحراسة الليلية: وجع حياة لا مهنة</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ahmed-essalhi">أحلام الهجرة بتوقيت المغرب</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia أحمد صلحي Mon, 10 Dec 2018 09:30:48 +0000 أحمد صلحي 120919 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A Palestinian house with many struggles https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinian-house-with-many-struggles <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The struggle of Palestinians takes different forms, between living under the Palestinian Authority or the de-facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39876405.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39876405.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Palestinian protester near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip on the 23rd of November 2018. Picture by NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>While the international community is concerned about the ongoing round of escalations between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians in the West Bank fight on another front. The escalation in the Gaza strip, albeit seeming to be between the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and Israel, is also a silent struggle against the de-facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, namely, Hamas. </p><p>As of early September, the Palestinians in the West Bank have taken to the streets, protesting against the new Palestinian Social Security Law (PSS), proposed by the Palestinian Authority. Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, there have not been such protests against any of the dozens of proposed laws and regulations. Simply, because this law touches on people’s livelihood. The law deducts from their salaries and provides the money to an <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/society/2018/10/10/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%AE%D9%88%D9%81%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B6%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%8A-%D9%84%D8%A7-%D9%86%D8%AB%D9%82-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9">untrusted institution</a> to manage and invest. PSS which was approved and signed by the Palestinian president in 2016, without any public consultations or deliberations in the malfunctioning Palestinian Legislative Council, was faced with considerable criticism due to the very obvious gaps that do not meet the needs of Palestinians. <a href="http://www.ppp.ps/ar_page.php?id=11aa971y18524529Y11aa971">The critiques </a><a href="http://www.ppp.ps/ar_page.php?id=11aa971y18524529Y11aa971">range from civil society organizations</a>, human rights organizations, journalists, and private sector.</p> <p>Recently, trust between the Palestinians and the PA’s institutions has declined sharply. According to <a href="http://www.arabbarometer.org/">the Arab Barometer</a>, in 2016, more than 65% of the Palestinians had no trust in the government. In 2007, 31% of Palestinians had great trust in the government, by 2016 the number had already dropped to 6%. Also in 2016, a majority of Palestinians, 56% to be precise, showed distrust in the courts and the legal system. This data snapshot does not appear from a void, but rather as a result of a set of factors that have undermined the relationship between the PA’s institutions and the Palestinian people.</p> <p>The main factor is the corruption within the PA, which has been transformed into a limited corporation for a particular group of people around the current President and his notoriously corrupt Prime Minister. In 2016, more than 90% of the Palestinians believed that there was corruption within the PA, compared to 67% in 2007 and 72% in 2011. Recent evidence shows that many of the sons, daughters, and relatives of senior officials within the PA are being appointed, either in the diplomatic corps or in Ramallah. In 2018, scholarships for postgraduate studies were given to sons and daughters of PA senior officials, ignoring the Palestinian students who are in urgent need of such assistance. Although these incidents of corruption are very common, the PA officials do not care about the reactions of the Palestinians.</p> <p>Another factor is the political deadlock and the end of the peace process. These in addition to the inability of President Abbas to present a new national agenda played a factor in forcing him to eradicate his opponents, such as Mohamed Dahlan, and others within the ruling party, Fatah, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. According to <a href="https://www.v-dem.net/en/">Varieties of Democracy Institute</a> data at Gothenburg University, Abbas has secured all means of power in his hands, which makes him nothing less than a dictator. Besides that, Abbas’ constant carelessness towards the National Council resolutions, and his verbal attacks against his colleagues within the PLO have put him in a position to be a single authority. All that is added to his failure to achieve national reconciliation.</p> <p>In addition, the last two years witnessed intensified security measures against freedom of expression. On many occasions, the PA security forces used excessive force, physical harassment, imprisonment, and illegal detention against their opponents, and protesters. According to a Human Right Watch report that was published in October, “serious crimes have been committed in Palestine by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.” <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/10/23/two-authorities-one-way-zero-dissent/arbitrary-arrest-and-torture-under">HRW invited the ICC</a> prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to consider arrests and treatment in custody of detainees by the PA and Hamas as part of any future investigation into the situation in Palestine. Above all, in the last year, Abbas intensified his measures against Hamas in the Gaza Strip; however, he imposed a collective punishment against the Palestinians living in the Gaza strip who used to work in the public sector within the PA before 2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. His moves led to colossal criticism by all parties including Fatah. In June, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets against the PA’s sanctions, calling for the halt of sanctions against the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators were met with an iron fist, where many where <a href="http://www.annaharkw.com/annahar/Article.aspx?id=800090&amp;date=15062018">detained and injured</a>.</p> <p>Later, in September, the struggle of the people in the West Bank shifted against the new social security law, leaving the Gaza Strip facing its faith alone. In social media as well as in streets, thousands showed opposition to the law. The law does not protect the people, and the history of the PLO is proof that the people’s money, taxation, and savings are not protected. There are many precedents that prove the opacity in terms of people’s salaries. According to the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau, 60% of 17 million Israeli shekels, which are the financial income from the General Organization of Workers in Israel (Histadrut), to the General Union of Workers in Palestine (GUWP) were allocated to general administrative expenses’.</p> <p>This means that Palestinian workers’ savings which were supposed to be invested by GUWP have been misused. According to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/akram.ijla/posts/2196748127004037">Akram Ijla</a>, a previous general director, and public servant within the PA from 1994, no one can ensure that the people’s money will not be stolen or wasted. He argues that in 1994, the Palestinian Authority took over the social security fund which was part of the Egyptian and Israeli civil administration in Gaza since 1950s. “They took almost 237 million USD, which is the great majority of the fund, with the aim to invest it but then nothing happened, and the money disappeared, and no one spoke about it until today”.</p> <p>The Palestinians in the West Bank have been tamed. They care more about their livelihood and source of income to secure their bread and to cover their hugely expensive living costs, as a result of the neoliberal economy. Today, people’s struggle against the PA is a priority while the struggle against the occupation comes second. </p> <p>In the Gaza Strip, the struggle is slightly different. <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/great-return-march-months-protests-gaza-strip-180926122828814.html">The Great Return March</a>, which started in March 2018 was a result of the bankruptcy of possible usage of violent means by the de-facto rulers in the Gaza Strip. Although the idea came from independent activists, who were honest in their non-violent strategy, the march, later, was hijacked by Hamas and became violent. The people’s struggle for political gains amid the efforts to sustain their power in the Gaza Strip, and their seeking international recognition as the sole legitimate ruler of the Gaza Strip, was exploited. The Great March has shown a conflicting account among the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. On the one hand, there are those who condemn Hamas tactics, argue that Hamas is swapping the blood of the innocents in the Gaza strip for partisan gains, and on the other, there are those who believe in the novelty of the march.</p> <p>During the ongoing political division, the Gaza Strip has witnessed three major slaughters, while being besieged by the Israeli army. Hamas did not master how to maneuver politically according to the regional and international power dynamics, and therefore, it took the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as hostages. The results of Hamas’ political childishness and rejection of any efforts for reconciliations with Fatah, were overwhelming on the people of Gaza. Corruption increased, the siege hardened, and severe destruction ensued. Furthermore, this provided the Israeli extremist government with a pretext to continue besieging the Gaza Strip. </p> <p>Hamas is accused by the Palestinians in Gaza of misusing public money and international aid. Until recently, the power cut in the Gaza strip amounted to more than 19 hours daily. Recent developments in truce talks between Hamas and Israel, mediated by the UN and Egypt, resulted in fuel trucks being allowed to enter the only Gaza power plant. This time, Israel imposed one condition: the UN must monitor and accompany the fuel trucks from the entry point to the operating rooms. Nowadays, the Gaza power cut is less by few hours a day if it happens. The same amount of fuel used to enter many times a year. Therefore, Gazans ask, where did it go, and who stole it. Many answers: the de-facto ruler did that. It was sold privately to the Gazans, and private power generator owners.</p> <p>Another example is the Gaza Rafah crossing. If a Gazan needs to travel, they either have to wait lengthy periods or pay to Gaza’s de-facto government officials, as a bribe to facilitate their exit by letting them in the first buses leaving the Gaza strip. As someone from Gaza, who has been following Gaza affairs routinely, I believe that Hamas has not changed its mind as a party; instead of as a rebel government, Hamas continues to think of its own members, and most importantly, the senior members. They perceived the people of Gaza, as an investment opportunity by diverting international aid, and humanitarian assistance to their benefit. In many cases, international and Arab humanitarian aid were privately sold or distributed to Hamas members. The de-facto government imposed a different layer of taxation over goods that enter the Gaza Strip, either from Egypt or Israel. A close friend informed me that a cigarette box from Egypt costs less than one USD. At the same time, Hamas sells the same type of cigarette for at least four USD. Almost all imported goods have high taxations, which go to Hamas’ budget.</p> <p>In Gaza, the people’s struggle is shaped by two factors: the political division that humiliates them and their livelihoods, transforming the majority of them into people who live in extreme poverty, and the second factor is the occupation that strips them from their humanity, restricting their movements, killing them, and making the Gaza Strip an uninhabitable place. Therefore, Gazans did not take to the streets against the social security law, but marched to the borders, against Israel, and also against their lives. Many protestors informed me secretly that they went because they find death by the Israeli soldiers better than the slow death in the Gaza Strip or suicide. Along the lines of "we live because of lack of death."</p> <p> The Palestinian struggle is not only a struggle against the Israeli occupation, rather a struggle against the corrupt de-facto governments and authorities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Their struggle takes different shapes and forms, amid the diminishing likelihood of an independent state, and the increasing police-ization of the Palestinian Authority and the de-facto government in the Gaza Strip. In conclusion, Palestinians everywhere have their own different struggle. In the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the rest of the Arab world and in the diaspora. These struggles share one thing, political divisions.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr/professional-solidarity-with-palestine-mental-health-imperative">Professional solidarity with Palestine: a mental health imperative </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jen-marlowe-fadi-abu-shammalah/great-return-march-and-women-of-gaza">The Great Return March and the women of Gaza</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinians-in-gaza-fighting-for-life-struggling-for-rights">The Palestinians in Gaza: fighting for life, struggling for rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Conflict Democracy and government West Bank Hamas Gaza occupation Abdalhadi Alijla Wed, 05 Dec 2018 09:30:41 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 120842 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The double standards applied to academic freedom https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/nadje-al-ali/double-standards-applied-to-academic-freedom <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The political right is not only cracking down on academic freedoms, but has started simultaneously to become a fierce advocate of an aggressively anti-intellectual freedom of speech. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39882339.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-39882339.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The embattled Central European University in Budapest, November 24, 2018. Omar Marques/Press Asociation. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>The Central European University (CEU) will move their main campus to Vienna. It has appeared inevitable for a while now due to a crackdown and targeting by Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán. Yet, the significance and repercussions of this fact are profound and remind us that academic freedom is not only under attack in places far away from home. My own area of interest, gender studies, has been particularly targeted not only in Hungary but more widely in anti-gender studies movements and lobbies, including in Germany where we have also seen the rise of the extreme right. </p> <p>Until quite recently, academic freedom, or rather the absence thereof, was something other people had to struggle with. Based in London, where I have been working at what is probably the most radical and progressive institution of higher education within the UK, I generally felt privileged and confident in my academic freedom. Meanwhile, I was acutely aware that colleagues elsewhere, mainly those researching and teaching in the Middle East, but also academics working in Middle East Studies in the US, were challenged by many different forms of encroachment on and violations of their academic freedom.&nbsp; </p> <p>In some extreme cases, such as those of my colleagues, friends and family in Iraq during the Ba‘th regime, it was not merely a matter of working in the context of severe censorship and political pressure, but Iraqi academics actually endured a struggle to stay out of prison cells, or even worse, to avoid execution. All these years, I assumed that my role was to be that of expressing solidarity, raising consciousness about the plight of my colleagues, and facilitating refuge. More recently, we have seen those extreme pressures reach the UK in the case of Matthew Hedges, imprisoned for over 6 months in the UAE, accused of being a British spy. And the devastating case of Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni, brutally murdered in Egypt, that still haunts many of us.</p> <h2><strong>Instrumentalised </strong></h2> <p>Nowadays, however, academic freedom has become a real issue within British higher education in general, as well as within SOAS, University of London, the institution I have been attached to for the past 11 years. Academic freedom is acutely under threat, and violated, but also instrumentalised and twisted in a most bizarre manner.&nbsp; </p><p>Certainly, the consequences and symptoms of these encroachments and manipulations are not comparable to what colleagues are enduring in the worst-offending places, for example, to what we have been witnessing in Turkey under Erdoğan in recent years. </p> <p>Yet, it is important to recognise that something significant has shifted and has affected our understandings of and debates about academic freedom in the UK.&nbsp; </p> <p>This shift within British higher education relates to wider changes within the political landscape in Britain and more broadly in western contexts. It is characterised by the securitization of migration, borders and ideas, the growth of racism, Islamophobia, and wider xenophobia as well as the broader increase and normalization of right wing voices, organizations and movements.</p> <h2><strong>The ‘Prevent Duty’</strong></h2> <p>More specifically, research, teaching, publications and academic debate in the UK have increasingly been under scrutiny and restricted due to the introduction in 2015 of what has been called&nbsp; ‘the Prevent Duty’, a set of rules and guidelines that are part of wider anti-terrorism legislation.&nbsp; </p> <p>Prevent contains a duty on specified authorities including universities to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’ (Home Office, 2015). Allison Scott-Bauman, Professor of Society and Belief at SOAS has studied how the Prevent Duty has been interpreted and applied at various universities. In her view and that of her co-author Hugh Tomlinson, the 2015 anti-terrorism act is unclear and potentially misleading:</p> <blockquote><p>Broad definitions of extremism seem to be linked to equally imprecise definitions of “terrorism”, “non-violent extremism”, “radicalisation” and “fundamental British values”. These definitions could be understood to mean that people who are, for example, critical of British foreign policy, are at risk of radicalisation and to suggest that academics and students accustomed to expressing personal views at university would need to be warned of the risks of discussing certain issues. But this is not correct, and universities should not let the imprecise and unclear language of the guidance draw them into placing unlawful restrictions on academic freedom and freedom of speech. (Scott-Baumann and Tomlinson, 2017).</p></blockquote> <p>The University College Union (UCU), a large union of academics and professional staff working in higher education in the UK passed a statement in 2015 setting out several objections to the Prevent Duty (UCU, 2015): [it] seriously threatens academic freedom and freedom of speech; the broad definition of terrorism will stifle campus activism; the intention to force union members to be involved in the racist labelling of students is unacceptable; the Prevent Agenda will force union members to spy on&nbsp; learners, is discriminatory towards Muslims, and legitimises Islamophobia and xenophobia, encouraging racist views to be publicised and normalised within society; the monitoring of Muslim students will destroy the trust needed for a safe and supportive learning environment and encourage discrimination against BME and Muslim staff and students; and the Prevent agenda will help racist parties such as UKIP to flourish.</p><p>The Prevent Duty is generally only applied in relation to speakers and events linked to Islam and Palestine-related speakers, with the latter more specifically those supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against Israel. Right wing speakers and organizations promoting nationalist sentiments and policies, racism, Islamophobia as well as homophobia and transphobia not only seem to be excluded from the idea of spreading extremist ideas, but are ironically protected by the current government.&nbsp; </p> <p>In this wider context, SOAS has been particularly singled out within the media and by think tanks of a specific political persuasion. The right wing Henry Jackson Society, for example, issued a report in 2017 listing all universities who were supposedly in breach of the Prevent Duty for hosting extremist speakers. SOAS allegedly hosted more extremist speakers than any other university in the UK. However, when examining the 14 events that took place at SOAS in 2016/2017 listed in the report, many refer to prayer meetings, events organised by the Islamic Society or discussions around Palestine (Black, 2017). While most events were hosted by a student group working under the auspices of the student union, some events, especially those linked to Palestine-related issues have been organised by academics. </p> <p>So far, it needs to be stressed, that the violations of academic freedom which have ensued at universities in the UK and which have mainly involved the cancellation of events or imposition of control over their format, as well as instances of censorship in terms of content – have mainly emerged due to university management giving in to pressure from political lobbying groups or the media, as opposed to overt pressure exerted by the government. </p> <h2><strong>The ‘neutral chair’: a Troll’s charter</strong></h2> <p>A number of incidents together illustrate how academic freedom has been concretely under threat in the UK. Aside from cancelling meetings deemed to be too contentious and provocative, university managements have replaced panel chairs shortly before ‘controversial’ meetings. The two most high profile cases, at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and University of Cambridge took place in November 2017 in relation to panels about Palestinian Rights, the BDS movement, and transnational solidarity. In both instances, the original chairs were deposed at the last minute by university management who gave in to external pressure. At LSE, management tried to implement the following guidelines: "At controversial events it is not prudent to have someone in the chair whose own views mean they may not be seen as a neutral chairperson"(Letter by LSE Academics, 2018). The university’s advice was strongly challenged by a group of LSE academics who signed a letter and started a campaign to counter its recommendations.</p> <p>One professor of Middle East history and politics, John Chalcraft, who has been involved in a successful campaign to challenge the university’s policy, put it the following way:</p> <blockquote><p>"To impose a Chair is very problematic in terms of freedom of speech, as it makes the beliefs and views of this or that academic a basis for determining the allocation of academic positions. It chills academic freedom on campus because it reduces the pool of available Chairs, and signals that certain views are beyond the pale and must be policed. It defines controversy and neutrality in simplistic, conventional terms, a particularly egregious error at a research university, which exists to question the received wisdom. There is a serious issue over equality and diversity, given that School-imposed Chairs are more likely to be white, senior, and male. Above all, to depose a Chair is to signal to academic staff and to the wider world, that certain academics, thanks to their beliefs, are not competent to discharge basic academic functions. If academics cannot observe due process in the Chair, then how can they mark exams or teach subjects that are deemed ‘controversial’? Far from protecting academics, these guidelines expose them to internal and external interrogations of their beliefs and views. It is in the words of one academic, a ‘troll’s charter’. So far there is little or no evidence that a neutral Chair has ever been imposed on a pro-Israeli event, or indeed, any event that was not concerned with Palestinian rights. On the other hand, the guidelines could be used, in principle, against any academic or event. As one worried academic said to me: ‘I am German, does that mean I cannot Chair a Brexit debate?" (Chalcraft, 2018)</p></blockquote> <p>Unsurprisingly, both academics who were deposed as chairs by management were women of an ethnic minority background.&nbsp; They were replaced by senior white male academics. The LSE female academic was of Turkish background but perceived to be unfit to chair neutrally due to her signing BDS statements. In the case of the University of Cambridge replacing a SOAS academic, her Palestinian heritage appeared to have contributed to the university’s decision, in addition to her support of BDS.&nbsp; </p> <p>An open letter signed by hundreds of academics criticised the decision by Cambridge University management, pointing out that much of the correspondence opposing the event and leading to the decision to replace the chair had originated in a well-known pro-Israel lobby group. The lobby group objected to the high profile panellists, including Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti and former President of the National Student Union, Malia Bouattia, the first black and Muslim woman to be in this role.</p> <p>Following the campaign objecting to the university’s decision, which involved not only an open letter but also a complaint sent by my SOAS colleague herself as well as supporting letters from senior colleagues at SOAS, the University of Cambridge’s management finally issued an apology, acknowledging that there was no evidence that her chairing would not have ensured a democratic debate (Mandhai, 2018).</p> <h2><strong>Knee-jerk reactions</strong></h2> <p>Both the University of Cambridge and LSE appear to have made a U-turn in response to pushback from academics. With reference to the successful campaign by LSE academics to challenge managements’ initial guidelines stressing the importance of ‘the neutral Chair’, Chalcraft states: "The new Code advances academic freedom here by removing the link between competence to Chair and beliefs and views. The School can no longer replace the Chair of an Event on the basis of the Chair’s beliefs. The School has accepted, and declared itself persuaded, by our core argument that the existing local regulations chill freedom of speech. It has changed the Code accordingly." </p> <p>Chalcraft stresses that collective action and concerted efforts allowed for the successful overturning of the university’s initial position and guidance. The new code, he states, is in line with ‘the new&nbsp;<a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/29/pdfs/ukpga_20170029_en.pdf%22%20%5Ct%20%22_blank">Higher Education and Research Act 2017</a>, which establishes, among other things, e.g. at&nbsp; 14 (7) that staff are free to "question and test received wisdom, and . . . to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges they may have at the provider."</p> <p>Academics in the UK are struggling to retain their academic freedom against outside pressures, mainly linked to right wing Islamophobic but also extreme pro-Israel lobbies. It has become apparent that collective action within institutions, but also national and transnational lobbying, can be successful in reversing what appear to be knee-jerk reactions by university managements. </p> <p>Meanwhile, the conservative government, particularly the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, has taken it upon itself to make academic freedom central to their policy and rhetoric. However, perhaps predictably, the Minister and other conservative politicians have not been concerned about the potential impact of the Prevent Duty and right wing pressures on academics and students, but are worried about free speech being curtailed by ‘no platforming’ pressures at universities.<strong> <br /></strong></p> <h2><strong>Twisted defence of academic freedom</strong></h2> <p>In a most recent twist of the government’s mission to defend academic freedom in British universities, the former Minister of Universities Sam Gyimah, condemned students and academics at Oxford who protested when a portrait of Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK was added to an exhibition within the School of Geography and the Environment intended to inspire the next generation of female geographers (Weale and Elgot, 2018). </p> <p>Students and staff appear to have been incensed by the lack of consultation and questioned the appropriateness of including the portrait of May. As Prime Minister of a conservative government that has been instrumental in implementing severe cuts to higher education, is promoting immigration control and a fear-mongering discourse around refugees and asylum seekers, while leading a party set on Brexit, May has become an extremely controversial figure. Yet, the Minister of Universities used the protest as another occasion to criticise ‘no platforming’ voices, agendas and movements at universities. </p> <p>In 2017, his predecessor, Jo Johnson, brother of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, threatened to hit universities who were banning homophobic or transphobic speakers with fines and sanctions. In an interview with Pink News, an LGBT+ newspaper, he stated that universities which fail to comply “could be fined, suspended or ultimately deregistered” by the newly established Office for Students (Duffy, 2017). He further claimed that these new rules are needed “to protect freedom of speech” (ibid).</p> <p>Following in Johnson’s footsteps, Sam Gyimah, announced a year later that &nbsp;“When there are so many different interpretations of the rules, there is the risk that legal free speech will be stifled, either by well-intentioned but jittery managers, or by ill-intentioned wreckers” (Duffy, 2018). He continued stating:&nbsp;“A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling." (ibid).</p> <p>At face value, one might agree with his assessment that “there is a risk that overzealous interpretation of a dizzying variety of rules is acting as a brake on legal free speech on campus" (ibid). However, his enthusiasm for free speech is never linked to defending events that have been cancelled or subject to ‘neutral chair’ measures because of their perceived controversy in relation to Palestine/Israel. Nor does he seem to be defending Muslim students organizing prayer meetings or lecturers. Meanwhile, LGBTQ activists are concerned that the Minister’s attitude and future rulings, might enable speakers with homophobic and transphobic views to gain ground and platforms.</p> <p>While gender studies as a discipline has not been under attack in the UK as it has been in Hungary and elsewhere, it is apparent that conservative and heteronormative understandings of gender and sexuality are also key to right wing discourses and policies in the UK as well. We see extreme versions of the centrality of ultra conservative gender constructions in the way the Hungarian government, similar to many governments in the Middle East, try to replace gender politics with politics that revolve around the heterosexual family.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Hate speech</strong></h2> <p>Aside from the government’s inconsistent approach to freedom of speech, there is clearly a tension between the idea of freedom of speech as an absolute right and principle and the notion of hate speech. Although I have to admit that I see these distinctions as complex and blurry.&nbsp; </p> <p>Personally, I worry about the growing tendency amongst students to demand safe spaces, given the grey zone between ‘hate speech’ and ‘listening to views you do not share’. In my view, an important element of education is pushing students out of their comfort zones and challenging established views. I share Joan Scott’s concerns, which emerged in the context of higher education in the US but, which are also highly relevant in the UK. Scott bemoans: </p> <blockquote><p>"the moralism that is apparent&nbsp; in some courses and some student activism, the calls for “trigger warnings,” the insistence on the authority of their experiences by those whose minority status has silenced or marginalized them – who look to “safe spaces” as a way to gain traction in an otherwise hostile or neglectful institutional and social environment, who erupt in protests that are sometimes ill-considered violations of the rights they need to respect and protect." (Scott, 2017). </p></blockquote> <p>While I share her concerns and view them as problematic, they do not justify the growing call by right wing constituencies to protect their freedom of speech. And here emerges a clear paradox and contradiction: the British government is critical of new generations of students being sensitive "snowflakes" "that should face reality and toughen up"; at the same time, the very same students "must be protected from radical ideas on campus." (Perfect and Scott-Bauman, 2017).</p> <p>Meanwhile, research carried out by Scoot-Bauman and her team on higher education in the UK shows that:</p> <blockquote><p>"the real risks to free speech come, not from the ‘snowflake generation’, but from government-originated initiatives. Specific pressure is applied to Muslim student groups and those interested in the Middle East. Our on-going research appears to show that students and staff, Muslim and non-Muslim, are already self-censoring their discussions and activities as a result." (Perfect &amp; Scott-Bauman 2017).</p></blockquote> <h2><strong>Vile pressures</strong></h2> <p>The complex problems and challenges we are facing in higher education in the UK and elsewhere, I would argue, force us to think about academic freedom in a more nuanced manner. Despite the blurriness, I would want to stress the difference between freedom of speech and academic freedom. Joan Scott provides a helpful distinction between freedom of speech, ‘the right to express one’s ideas, however true or false they may be’ and academic freedom ‘a protection of faculty rights based on disciplinary competence’ (Scott, 2017). In the context of US higher education, Scott further states: </p> <blockquote><p>"These days the Right’s reference to free speech sweeps away the guarantees of academic freedom, dismissing as so many violations of the constitution the thoughtful, critical articulation of ideas, the demonstration of proof based on rigorous examination of evidence, the distinction between true and false, between careful and sloppy work, the exercise of reasoned judgment. Their free speech means the right to one’s opinion, however unfounded, however ungrounded, and it extends to every venue, every institution. That may be why freedom is the principle invoked so forcefully on the Right these days – freedom in the sense of the absence of any restraint. From this perspective, the bad boys can say anything they want, however vile and hateful." (Scott, 2017)</p></blockquote> <p>The depiction of this specific situation, although clearly articulated in the context of the US, has many parallels with the growing encroachment and pressures by right wing politicians, media and think tanks in the UK. So far, the pressures in the UK have not been as ferocious and vile as in the US where the wider political divide seems to be even more extreme than in post-Brexit referendum Britain. Yet, Scott’s words above feel all too familiar.</p> <h2><strong>Leaving London</strong></h2> <p>As I ponder my imminent move to leave London after 24 years to take up a position in the US, I am anxious about ideologically motivated and often rather polemic attacks on universities and academics. According to US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, all university faculty, “from adjunct professors to deans,” are guilty of brainwashing college students. In a speech given at the Conservative Political Action Conference, DeVos accused academics of tainting students with “liberal ideology” (Jaschick 2017). While in my current world ‘liberal ideology” would be a derogatory term referring to conservative capitalist ideas, in DeVos’ and that of her government’s discursive horizon, ‘liberal’ seems to signify radical unpatriotic thinking. Yet, despite the attack on universities by the Trump administration, I take comfort in the fact that so many of my colleagues in the US have been at the forefront of speaking truth to power.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, which will be my new academic home, is also an excellent example to illustrate that academic freedom should not simply be equated with academic autonomy, although autonomy is, of course, a principle we have to defend. Trying to educate myself about our foremothers who fought for gender-based equality in academia, I am reminded of the struggle of Louise Lamphere, the professor who when denied tenure in the anthropology department at Brown in 1974, jointly with three other female colleagues, took the university to court. In an out of court settlement, the department was forced to reverse its decision not to grant Lamphere tenure, despite its argument that the decision was based on the department’s autonomy as a basic tenant of academic freedom (Porwancher, 2013). </p> <p>The out of court settlement established that transparency and the principle of equality were more important than the principle of autonomy. </p> <p>As we are joined in the struggle for academic freedom in different political and national contexts, we will have to negotiate the very principles that inform our respective conceptualizations and possibly recognise that there might be tensions and ambivalences in what we view as priorities.&nbsp; </p> <h2><strong>Concluding reflections</strong></h2> <p>I grew up in Germany where I learnt very early on that following government orders, blind obedience and silence might actually mean complicity in crime and can lead to terrible atrocities. Very early on I learnt that it was important to develop an independent moral compass and to follow ethical principles rooted in the respect for human dignity rather than the rules of an authoritarian regime. </p> <p>So I was very happy and moved to see that over a thousand Turkish academics were courageous enough to sign a petition in January 2016 in order to distance themselves from the atrocities and crimes against the Kurdish population, particularly in south-eastern Turkey. Since then, academics in Turkey have paid a very high price for speaking out, and for daring to challenge the authoritarian regime. </p> <p>All over the world, it has been the role of intellectuals, educators and researchers to speak truth to power and not to be silent when injustice happens. Academic freedom has been integral to the development of the social sciences and the humanities historically and globally. Whenever academic freedom has been under threat, we know that a country is in big trouble: the attack on academic freedom has previously meant that a regime is failing to convince its thinkers with rational arguments as it needs to use coercive measures to maintain control. </p> <p>I knew this not only from my history teachers and readings about Nazi Germany, but while growing up and becoming educated in a relatively free environment, I became acutely aware of the severe restrictions on both freedom of speech and academic freedom posed on researchers, teachers, writers and intellectuals in Iraq during the Ba‘th regime. </p> <p>During my graduate studies in Cairo in the 90s, I also learnt, for the first time, about the complicity of a university management that has given in to external pressures and calls for censorship instead of defending the academic freedom of their staff and students. This became apparent when a colleague and friend of mine was forced to change his reading list at the American University in Cairo after a student, whose father had an important position in the military, complained about the content of some readings being un-Islamic. Instead of defending my friend’s choice of readings, the university management caved in and asked him to change the reading list while withdrawing copies of the book from the library.</p> <p>Historically, a regime lost legitimacy, respect and credibility, not only in the eyes of its own critical and thoughtful population, but also in the eyes of the global critical mass of people believing in democracy, justice and human rights.&nbsp;These days, however, the rules of engagement appear to have changed drastically. Across the globe, rationality and logic, however broad the political spectrum they were on previously, are being challenged by populism, fake news and so-called alternative facts. In this new age where social media insidiously threatens to eradicate our freedom of mind, and where polarised positions are fostered in ghettoised ideological bubbles, the principle of academic freedom is contested and manipulated to different political ends. </p> <p>All of a sudden, the political right is not only cracking down on academic freedoms in different contexts, but has started simultaneously to become a fierce advocate of freedom of speech, thereby not only engaging in aggressive anti-intellectualism but also giving space and platforms to ideas and practices that are counter to principles of equality and justice. </p> <p><strong>References</strong></p> <p>Black, Richard (2017) ‘<a href="http://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Extreme-Speakers-and-Events-in-the-2016-17-Academic-Year-Final-1.pdf">Extreme Speakers and Events: In the 2016 2017 Academic Year</a>’, </p> <p>Chalcraft, John (2018) ‘<a href="http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/archive/BRICUPNewsletter119.pdf">On ‘Neutral’ Chairs’</a>, in BRICUP Newsletter 119, March 2018.&nbsp; </p> <p>Duffy, Nick (2017) <a href="https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/10/19/universities-must-allow-anti-transgender-speakers-minister-demands/">Universities must allow anti-transgender speakers</a>, in <em>Pink News, </em>19 October 2017.</p> <p><a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/29/section/14/enacted">Higher Education and Research Act </a>2017. </p> <p>Jaschick, Scott. 2017. “<a href="http:// www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/24/education-secretary-criticizes-professors-telling-students-what-think.">DeVos vs. the Faculty.”</a> Inside Higher Education, February 24.</p> <p><a href="http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/archive/BRICUPNewsletter119.pdf">Letter by LSE Academics </a>(2018) 20 February 2018</p> <p>Mandhai Shafik (2018) '<a href="//www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/cambridge-apologises-blocking-palestinian-chairing-talk-180306124314792.html">Cambridge apologises for blocking Palestinian from chairing tal</a>k’, Al Jazeera News, 6 March 2018.</p><p>Perfect, Simon and Allison Scott-Bauman (2017) ‘An anatomy of judgement: how do snowflakes think?’, </p> <p>Porwancher, Andrew (2013) Prying the gates wide open: academic freedom and gender equality at Brown University, 1974–1977, <em>Paedagogica Historica</em>, 49:2, 273-292.</p> <p>Scott, Joan (2017) “<a href="https://www.aaup.org/sites/default/files/Scott_0.pdf">On Free Speech and Academic Freedom’</a>, in Journal of Academic Freedom, Vol. 8, 2017. </p> <p>Scott-Baumann, Allison and Hugh Tomlinson (2017) “<a href="//inforrm.org/2016/04/08/cultural-cold-wars-the-risk-of-anti-extremism-policy-for-academic-freedom-of-expression-alison-scott-baumann-and-hugh-tomlinson-qc/#more-33714">Cultural Cold Wars: The risk of anti-‘extremism’ policy for academic freedom of expression</a>’, Inform’s Blog: The International Forum for Responsible Media Blog.</p><p>UCU (2015) ‘<a href="https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/7370/The-prevent-duty-guidance-for-branches-Dec-15/pdf/ucu_preventdutyguidance_dec15.pdf">The prevent duty guidance for branches</a>’. December 2015.</p> <p>Weale, Sally and Jessica Elgot (2018) ‘<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/may/08/theresa-may-portrait-removed-from-oxford-university-display-after-protest">Hung, withdrawn, and re-quartered: May portrait in Oxford row</a>’, in <em>The Guardian</em>, 8 May 2018</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jannis-grimm/policing-research-shifting-tides-for-middle-east-studies-after-arab-spring">Authoritarian Middle East regimes don&#039;t like academics – ask Matthew Hedges</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/umut-ozkirimli/fear-and-loathing-in-turkish-academia-tale-of-appeasement-and-complicity">Fear and loathing in Turkish academia: a tale of appeasement and complicity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/franco-palazzi-michela-pusterla/giulio-regeni-murder-transnational-memory-egypt-italy">Remembering against the tide: Giulio Regeni and the transnational horizons of memory</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> <div class="field-item even"> Hungary </div> <div class="field-item odd"> EU </div> <div class="field-item even"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? North-Africa West-Asia uk United States EU Hungary UK Culture Democracy and government Ideas International politics Nadje al-Ali Wed, 05 Dec 2018 00:05:21 +0000 Nadje al-Ali 120852 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On recognizing our ethno-religious prejudices: a preliminary conceptual analysis https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/housamedden-darwish/on-recognizing-our-ethno-religious-prejudices-preliminary <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>After many years of suppression, Syrians were able to bring these issues to light and engage in serious public debate. <strong><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia-10">العربية</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/ copy_8.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/ copy_8.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></em>Translated by: <span class="fw-700 red">Ahmed El-Amine</span></p><p><em>This article by&nbsp;Husam Eddin Darwish forms part of a special series focused on Oral Culture and Identity in Syria.</em></p> <p><em>It is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between <a href="http://syriauntold.com">SyriaUntold</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia">openDemocracy’s North Africa West Asia</a> in a bid to untangle the roots of sectarian, ethnic and other divides in Syria.</em></p> <p class="p1">It is fashionable to talk about the existence of at least three basic taboo themes in Arab-Islamic culture, namely: religion, sex, and politics. Although political taboos (eliminating tyranny, advocating democracy, exposing the corruption and flaws of the people in power) typically expose people to more and greater risks, politically employing moral and social values related to religion and sex renders anyone who does so in direct confrontation not only with society and religious authorities, but also with the political authority. </p> <p class="p1">The intersection between these three taboos, stereotypically, is manifest in the taboos related to religion, sect and ethnicity. At first glance, sectarianism appears to be primarily linked to religion and to the existence of multiple sects. However, as Joseph Daher clearly points out in his analytic essay entitled <a href="http://syriauntold.com/2018/10/popular-oral-culture-and-sectarianism-a-materialist-analysis/">‘Popular Oral Culture and Sectarianism, a Materialist Analysis,’</a> it is, in fact, a political phenomenon and an instrument used by politicians more so than being a religious phenomenon produced by religion or religiosity. </p> <p class="p1">The testimonies published in this file have shown a strong link between both religious/sectarian taboos and sexual taboos. Each sect’s stereotypical image of other communities often contains negative sexual elements: this community worships the vagina, and this other community holds sexual parties where a person can have sex with his mother, sister or daughter, while in another community sheikhs have sex with their pupils and their followers, etc… </p> <p class="p1">After many years of suppression — particularly in terms of sectarian, religious, ethnic, and regional discrimination —and in the context of the freedom enjoyed by the Syrians who have been displaced or have taken refuge outside of Syria and are no longer under the authority of the Assad state, Syrians were able to bring these issues to light and engage in serious public debate. On this basis, and on the basis of what <a href="http://www.apple.com">Mohammad Dibo</a> sees as a “tremendous resurgence of religious, sectarian, doctrinal, and ethnic currents that have overwhelmed the political and military landscape not only in Syria but also beyond,” we can understand why the website SyriaUntold opened the “The Oral Culture and Identity” special series “in a bid to untangle the roots of sectarian, ethnic and other divides in Syria.”&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1">In my reading of the texts published by the site in this regard, I will not attempt to directly address the sectarian, religious, or ethnic discrimination phenomena. Instead, I will focus on analyzing the act of addressing these phenomena in the published texts. Can we understand this act as a disclosure, recognition, confession, all of them together, or none of them at all? Does this act help us in having a greater understanding of these phenomena or does it merely highlight their negative aspects? Does this act actually transgress the prohibited? What is the prohibited specifically in this regard? What can this act hide in revealing the implicit and exposing the prohibited? Is it possible to distinguish between degrees and/or types of an act of transgression? In discussing some possible answers to such questions, I will try to express some of the most important ideas and impressions that these published texts/testimonies raised in me.</p> <p class="p1">I would first like to point out that the ideas and impressions I will present are a reading of the published texts, as a whole, and not a reading of any particular text. When I point out an idea associated with a specific text, I will cite this reference, to clarify the link.</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>How to break the taboo?</strong></h3> <p class="isModified p1">It has become commonplace, perhaps to the point of vulgarity, to emphasize the importance of openly speaking about all forms of racism that exist in Syria and/or among Syrians in their thinking and behavior. In the current context, however, it is not very common to point out that breaking the sectarian taboo and opening up the Syrian <strong>“black box” </strong>can occur in a negative manner, leading to consequences that may be no less severe than the existence of the taboo itself. Therefore, we will pay special attention to the method by which a taboo is broken or is dealt with in texts or testimonies, the content of this taboo, and some of its significations, actual and/or possible consequences. </p> <p class="p1">Racism, in this context, means not only giving priority to an organic belonging (belonging to an ethnic, religious, sectarian or tribal group, etc.), but to the theory and practice of belonging on the basis of negative discrimination against other groups. This contrast is the basis of racist thought, which transforms horizontal parallelism into a vertical hierarchy and in which the self-belonging of this thought occupies the highest rank, while the affiliations of others are cast as inferior and given lesser value.</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>Breaking the taboo as a confession</strong></h3> <p class="isModified p1">It can be said at first that the texts/testimonies include a "<strong>disclosure</strong>," or are mainly a disclosure. It is so because it reveals what was a secret, and what was discrete, and confesses what was muffled, and explicates what was prohibited. It is an act of venting out because it deals with what was bothering us and the reason behind us being bothered. The link between transgression and disclosure is what made Mohammad Dibo, in his introduction to the series, point out that participation is open to everyone who “finds the ability to disclose and transgress the taboo.” He did well in pointing out that, in the same context, writing, in this regard, requires transparency, clarity and honesty, as disclosure is not consistent with lying, concealment, or ambiguity.</p> <p class="p1">But breaking the taboo and talking about it in the Syrian context is not limited to being a disclosure. It includes more, it includes an acknowledgement. It is a recognition of the existence of this or that negative aspect, it is a confession of what we are accustomed to denying. The confession is sincere, in terms of being a mere self-indulgence and by not denying a fact and a proven objective truth. From this perspective, it does not seem to surprise many to talk about sectarianism and its secrets, because, from their point of view, this includes a disclosure and recognition of what we generally know or expect in advance.</p> <p class="isModified p1">Breaking the taboo through disclosing and recognition is what we can call a "<strong>confession".</strong>&nbsp;Confession is what can perfectly combine these two things. The confession of racism does not appear to be far from those found in the symbols of texts of confession (e.g., the confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau). As with the concept of recognition, the concept of confession is used in the Arabic language when there is a disclosure of certain negatives: he confessed his crime, confesses to his mistake, confessed his guilt, etc. The funny exception, perhaps the only one, is that we usually link the expression of feelings of love and confession, saying “He confessed his love,” or as Wael Kfoury says “I confess that I love you…” This exceptional example reveals the strong connection between the concepts of confession and disclosure. Confessing love is a disclosure of feelings of love, and a recognition of the existence of such feelings is tantamount to a recognition of guilt. In a racist society, the feeling of love appears to be a full-fledged crime when it is addressed to a person belonging to “another group” in general. Confessing love then is a confession of a crime that cannot be forgiven many times. The fundamental question here is: How can we love those who hate us and we are supposed to hate them, or should we hate them?</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>The two discourses of transgression</strong></h3> <p class="p1">If transgression through writing is an act of confession, what exactly are we confessing? We have said that confession involves a recognition of guilt or negativity. What are the negatives or sins that we admit to in our confessions that transgress racism? Who exactly has these negatives? Are all the speeches that speak of the existence of racism in Syria belong to what we called the “letter of confession?”</p> <p class="p1">What we usually recognize in this regard is that racism exists and is widespread in Syria, to a great extent and at many levels. This has been the case for a long time, but it increased in the period following the revolution, to the extent that Mohammad Dibo emphasises that “religious, sectarian, doctrinal, and ethnic currents [...] overwhelmed the political and military landscape not only in Syria but also beyond.” Talking about “Syrian racism” can take two main forms: “racist discourse” and “self-critique.”</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>Racist discourse</strong></h3> <p class="isModified p1">The "<strong>racist" </strong>discourse is to say that there is strong racism in Syria, but it exists, in particular, or only, in the “other side” and “we” do not have it. According to this speech, on the one hand, the Sunni recognizes the existence of sectarianism in Syria, but believes that its reservoir and its main or most important source lies in other communities, the Alawite and Shiite communities in particular, and not the Sunnis. Meanwhile, the Kurdish community recognises the existence of ethnic racism in general, but does not see that it exists among Kurds, but is embodied, primarily, in the behavior, beliefs, and morals of Arabs and/or Turks, and directed towards the Kurds in particular. Similarly, the Christian points out the existence of religious racism but only sees it among Muslims. This discourse is not exclusive to any group but is shared equally by all groups, with secondary quantitative differences. </p> <p class="p1">This racist discourse is at the height of its misery and degeneracy when it speaks of an essential racism in the other. The racist discourse of the “other” manifest in saying that the other’s racism is a result of their nature or the nature of their beliefs and/or culture, it is not a transient historical phenomenon that could go away but is a transhistorical part of the other’s essence. The Muslim is always fanatical and backward, and the Kurds are stupid and stubborn by nature, the Shiites are necessarily hateful and fanatic, etc., and if there are exceptions, they only confirm the rule and do not deny it.</p> <p class="p1">This discourse is not a confession on the one hand, and may not be a transgression, on the other. It is not a confession, not even disclosure or a recognition. That is because recognition and confession necessarily entail that the sins the existence of which we recognize or confess are our sins. As for only talking about the racism of others, it indicates a racism in the discourse, and probably in the author as well. In this case, our words seem to expose us more than exposing others; they utter us more than we utter them, and they express us more than we express them. It may not be possible to classify this discourse as a transgression, if we know that, in principle or in practice, it is not forbidden or rare for any group to speak, among its members, of the negatives of other groups and their racism, inferiority, or oppression, while directly or indirectly emphasizing the positives, openness, progressiveness, and victimhood of their own group. </p> <p class="p1">This discourse often does not play a significant (positive) role in the process of transgression. On the contrary, the racism of this discourse is often part of the taboo that needs to be critiqued, broken, transgressed and surpassed. Racism provokes racist rhetoric and, in the end, promotes the spread of racist discourse. Breaking taboos in terms of racial discourse means, the disclosure of the presence of this discourse in the stereotypical image that each group forms of the other groups. This is what the texts/testimonies tried to do, showing the extent of racism in the stereotypes of “Syrian groups” between each other.</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>The discourse of confession and self-critique</strong></h3> <p class="isModified p1">What is most important to us in our understanding of this “racist discourse,” in the present context, is that the transgression of taboos in this regard does not happen primarily by talking about the racism and negativity of the other, but precisely and particularly when it takes the form of <strong>confession</strong>: confessing our own racism, we who are confessing. This is precisely what appears to be generally the case in the second form of the discourse on racism, which takes the form of <strong>self-critique</strong>. But what is the meaning of self-critique, in this context? What exactly is meant by the self being critiqued?</p> <p class="isModified p1">The general meaning of critique is that it is a trial of a phenomenon, the discussion of its pros and cons, and the expression of an opinion regarding it, based on this balanced discussion, which not only focuses on positives, as in “praise or glorification,” nor on negatives as in “criticism.” In the testimonies, critique took the form of criticism for two reasons. </p> <p class="p1">The first reason is that what the opening article of this “file” asks for, and the testimonies published in it, appear in the first instance, or more, to belong, not to critique, in terms of attention to the apparent concerns and negative aspects of the issue, but to criticism, i.e. to highlight the negative aspects of that phenomenon. What is required, in the testimonies/texts, is the criticism that is embodied in “exposing this” consciousness “with which we were raised.” The testimonies have responded to this direction, focusing almost entirely on denouncing racism and highlighting its negative aspects.</p> <p class="isModified p1">The second reason that rendered the critique, in the testimonies/texts of this file, take the form of criticism, is that the critique in question here is “self-critique” which by its very nature tends to be critical. Self-critique is practiced, usually or particularly, when there is a failure or the like, and the primary purpose is to look for the negatives that led to the failure, as a necessary step in trying to surpass or get rid of it or limit its influence. Self-critique often oscillates between opposite poles or perspectives: the pole of justification&nbsp; and rationalization, on one end ,and the pole of self-flagellation on the other. </p> <h3 class="isModified p1">The perspectives of justification and rationalization</h3> <p class="p1">The critic, who adopts <strong>the perspective of justification and rationalization</strong>, confesses that the self has committed this or that mistake, and by having this or that negative aspect, but the confession is not but a secondary or symbolic step, intentional or not, to suggest to oneself or to others, that the critique is objective. But this confession is soon followed by a serious “but” response. The “seriousness” of this “but” comes from undoing whatever preceded it and any important meaning to it. Those who take this perspective often take the following defense mechanism: “there is some racism in our group, but it is only a contingent phenomenon that is a benign and light reaction to the racism of other groups.” Or “the Kurd has some racism towards Arabs and Turks but this racism is only a reaction to the Arab and Turkish political and cultural racism towards Kurds, and is not in line with its high morals and values.” This is an example of what a “Kurd” can say about Kurdish racism, from the perspective of justification and rationalization. It is clear that this perspective is closer to the logic of the “racist discourse” and its values and directions than to the logic, values and directions of the “self-critique discourse.”</p> <p class="isModified p1">As for the pole or perspective of <strong>self-flagellation</strong>, the logic of justification or rationalization is completely excluded, so that self-critique takes the following form: “we are very racist, and we (alone) bear the responsibility of this abhorrent racism.” It is necessary to point out here that the term “self-flagellation” is not synonymous with the term “critique or harsh criticism” since criticism can be harsh and/or strict, without being self-flagellating. What is meant by self-flagellation here is an over-exaggeration or darkness in criticism, in a way that the critique loses its objectivity and its possible positives, turning it into something like a ritual of slapping, moaning, and scolding? The criticism that takes the form of self-flagellation is a provoked act more than it is provocative. It is true that it is the nature of criticism to focus on the negatives, but that does not necessarily mean denying the existence of positives or exaggerating in describing these negatives and exaggerating the role of the self being critiqued or doing the critique. On this basis, one can say that the self-critique embodied in the formula of “self-flagellation” becomes itself a problem and an obstacle, rather than being, according to its supposed purpose, a diagnosis of a problem and an attempt at solving or moving beyond it.</p> <p class="p1">Self-critique is situated between these poles or perspectives, or swings between them, without being identical to either. It is clear that these two perspectives should be avoided, on the one hand, and that it is difficult to do so, on the other. There is no clear and specific midpoint or location suitable to always be situated in, as there is a difference in the intensity of critique required or necessary or the presence of justifications between one case and another, and between a context and another. It is also clear that the emergence or appearance of any perspective or pole probably calls for the emergence of the other. In a more general sense, extremism is likely to produce counter-extremism. This is expressed physically by, “every action has a reaction that is similar in strength and opposite in direction.” The emergence of either direction is not only related to the actual emergence of the other, but to the emergence of a perspective that results from the very attempt to avoid the emergence of the other. For example, anyone who attempts to “self-critique” can easily fall into the trap of “self-effacement,” so one of their self-critiques may be to avoid falling into this trap. But this attempt may make them exaggerate the situation of justifications and rationalization, to the extent that they seem to adopt the logic of “discourse of justification and rationalization.” On the contrary, it seems natural that “self-critique” attempts to explain the existence of the phenomenon being critiqued; in the interpretation, there is often, at least, some justification, intended or not. A natural or spontaneous realization of this attempt drives many, who are engaged in the task of “self-critique,” to avoid the logic of justification and rationalization as much as possible. It is not rare that this leads them to fall into the arms of “self-flagellation.”</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>On the meaning of the critiqued self</strong></h3> <p class="p1">A clarification of the concepts of critique and “self-critique” is not complete without a clarification of what we mean by “self” in this context. So what is the self critiqued in this context? What is the relationship of this self with the self critiquing? Attempting to answer these and similar questions can make a significant contribution to clarifying the different types and levels of acts of confession, as a breach of prohibitions and a transgression of taboos.</p> <p class="p1">The self in self-critique is not, in the context of a critique of racist taboos, the same person who critiques. It is almost impossible to find someone who critiques themselves, confessing their racism. The phrase “I am a sectarian” seems to be as prohibited as saying “I am dead.” This type of confession is almost completely absent from the published testimonies/texts. And when present it is presented as something of the past and not the present or of the unconscious that the person is not responsible for. This is what we find, for example, in Mohammad Dibo’s incident where he had thought himself to have been emancipated from the inherited, only to be later surprised by his fear of a friend who belongs to another sect, just for belonging to another sect. In the present context, I will merely point out that the “confessed sectarianism,” in that text, belongs to the inherited unconscious, on the one hand, and to the past, not the present, on the other. It is thus possible to say that a person who recognizes his or her sectarianism is different from a person characterized by such sectarianism. Dibo goes on to deny his sectarianism to the point of leaving “the inheritance of the sect and of nationalities forever.” Beyond the skepticism of self-honesty here, I find it inappropriate both realistically and epistemologically to be definitive in such issues, not only in terms of the future (who knows what could happen to him, with him, and in him) but also in terms of the present. In addition, the discussion here relates to what is happening in the depths of the human soul and its delusions, and it is very difficult for one to be aware to the extent of being decisive about what is happening in the depths of his person and its delusions.</p> <p class="p1">I will come back later to expand on the question of self-knowledge and judgment in relation to it. What is important, in the present context, is to emphasize once again that the self that a person critiques their self-critique, while transgressing racist taboos, is probably not the individual self. Racism and confession do not seem to intersect; the racist does not recognize their racism, and if they confess to it, they are non-racist by virtue of the confession, because they are unable to confess their own racism but the racism of others. This means that the racist does not necessarily confess, and they who confess, are not racist at all. This paradox reminds us of the Epicurean solution to the fear of death. Epicurus says: “A man should not fear his death because he never meets it.” When I am, death is not, and when death is, I am not.” The paradox is that unlike the relationship between death and the self, where the impossibility of their existence together is positive, the almost complete impossibility, of the sectarian self and confession is negative, it is a very powerful and actual taboo that is very difficult to transgress.</p> <p class="p1">A self that confesses its racism in self-critique is the collective self that the individual belongs to. This is what we are currently seeing in the context of any texts or symposiums dedicated to opening the Syrian racist black box, where each person focuses more on “exposing” the group to which he “belongs.” The Alawite speaks of the sectarianism of Alawites or a sect among Alawites, and the Kurd talks about the racism of the Kurds, etc. However if the critique, in the process of transgressing taboos pertaining to racism, is not directed to his person or personality as well, and only to the group that he belongs to, then to what extent would it actually be considered “self-critique”?</p> <p class="p1">In the presentation of the file, transgressive writing “requires that one separates themselves from sect, ethnicity, or tribe, and provoking them for the sake of the human.” This means that the critic in this context is not self-critical. On the other hand, the presentation includes an indication to the necessity of resisting this task by “searching within themselves and within ourselves, to expose the consciousness that we were raised on, and which formed a part of our own consciousness, as an attempt to hold ourselves accountable and interrogating it. For the critic to search within themselves to hold it accountable means that the self is itself incriminated in this critique, qualifying it as “self-critique.”</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>Affiliation by lineage versus affiliation by enrolment</strong></h3> <p class="isModified p1">To clarify the problematic of the self and its relation with the critic, it is necessary to distinguish two types of belonging: affiliation by lineage and affiliation by enrolment. Engaging in self-critique means directing the critique to oneself or to the group to which one belongs by lineage or enrolment. By affiliation by lineage I mean involuntary affiliation, by birth and/or nature and/or society, to a group, and all of the ethno-religious and regional affiliations are within this framework: belonging to a group of males, or to an Arab nationality, a Christian religion, the Alawite sect, or the Druze sect, etc.. It is obvious that one’s affiliation with such groups is decided by birth and/or society and has nothing to do with my deliberation or will on the matter. Because the decision, in this regard, is not my decision. On the other hand, affiliation by enrolment has to do with one’s decision and free choices, at least partially and relatively. One’s voluntary affiliation to this school of thought or political or social group is not only related to their enrolment but may also be related to the groups they had previously belonged to by birth or society. The relationship between these two types of affiliation may be a relation of compatibility or a relation of difference and opposition. One’s affiliation by enrolment, however, to a group different than the one that they were affiliated with by lineage, does not undo my involuntary affiliation. Being the son or father of this or that person, and by being Syrian, Arab, and Muslim by birth, nurturing, and culture, partially and relatively, does not go away even if one rejected their father’s fatherhood, or rejected their child, and acquired another nationality, while feeling repelled by their Syrian nationality, using a different language, having a desire to forget Arabic, not believing in Islamic teachings and its foundational and collateral pillars, and enrolling in a different religious or non-religious group.</p> <p class="p1">Affiliation by lineage reveals the limits of the will in this regard but also reveals the capacity of the will to take up a stance contrary to its involuntary affiliation by lineage to this or that group. Understanding the limits of the will and investing its capacity and abilities in this regard should be one of the existential, epistemological, moral, and perhaps even political foundations, upon which a self-critique that transgresses racist taboos should be built. The existential foundation representing a determined or involuntary foundation, i.e. that this affiliation by lineage is a part of the individual’s being and existence. The epistemological foundation, however, relates to the lineage often providing epistemological expertise that could be relied on in the process of confession or self-critique. This was obviously relied on in most texts/testimonies. The moral foundation is related to there being moral relations between one individual and those he is affiliated with by lineage. The political foundation emerges from any organization or political orientation based on relations of lineage (patriotism or nationalism, for example).</p> <p class="isModified p1">The aforementioned foundations do not mean that the person is inescapably condemned to their lineage, for partial and relative liberation from these relations is always possible, in principle at least. There is no doubt that transgressing racist taboos requires a certain degree of liberation, or what the opening article calls “dissociation.” But this does not mean that one can or is required to, completely dissociate. Without there being a minimal sense of affiliation and accepting or embracing this affiliation, transgression would not be able to take the form of confession or self-critique, and the formulation that it could then take oscillates, most often and probably, between a racist discourse and what could be referred to as a discourse of shaming, or their combination in one discourse. I’ve already explained what I mean by the former, and what remains is explaining the latter.&nbsp;</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>The discourse of shaming</strong></h3> <p class="p1">In the discourse of shaming, the aim is to expose the people we are accusing, and defaming them and revealing their degeneracy. This is relatively easy to do when we do it to those we do not consider ourselves to be affiliated with. Those who used this discourse do not hesitate in showing their repulsion from and innocence of those they’re shaming, or even demeaning. It is not rare for them to exaggerate their negatives and darkness when describing and evaluating them. This discourse sometimes becomes self-flagellating when they confess to belonging to the group that they are critiquing. But this is not to be considered a critique, because a critique must include some positive aspect, whether in assessing or in correcting. This positive aspect is almost completely absent in this discourse. It is sometimes built on a proclaimed theoretical affiliation with a global humanity that goes beyond narrow racism. Those who engage in this discourse are not aware of that this evacuates global humanity and morality from its meaning, because this humanity needs to be instantiated in the available contexts, otherwise it is rendered an empty notion without any integrity. This affiliation by lineage does not do away with the individuality of a person as long as they are able to voluntarily and freely affiliate themselves with other groups and/or declaring that they are not voluntarily affiliated with the groups that they had previously been affiliated with, whether by lineage or enrollment. </p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>The discourse of confession and self-critique</strong></h3> <p class="p1">In the discourse of confession and self-critique, the transgression of racist taboos is identical, partially and relatively, with the groups and phenomena the negatives of which are being confessed and are being critiqued or criticized. In this context, this identity is not contradictory with the valuable general humanist vision that should be the foundation of every transgression in theoretical practices and discourses. Transgressing the racist taboo is precisely and particularly embodied in showing the existential priority and value of the humanity of every human, as opposed to the secondary existential priority and value of their different racist affiliations (religion, sect, ethnicity, tribe, etc..). The secondary character of these latter affiliations when compared to the primal moral and existential affiliation with humanity, does not entail denying, undermining, or negatively assessing these affiliations. Affiliation by lineage still plays an important role in a person’s life, and it is necessary to humanize it morally and to make of it a road towards our moral humanity, instead of an obstacle that we necessarily need to get rid of. On this basis, we see that instead of echoing Badih al-Kasm when he says, “proper humanism is in proper nationalism,” we should say that “proper nationalism is in proper humanism.” The groups that we are involuntarily affiliated with are a part of us, and we remain a part of, even if we no longer identify with it. The discourse of confession and self-critique cannot in transgressing racist taboos, to try to make itself innocent of affiliation of lineage, or show the uniqueness of the individual engaging in this discourse, in this regard. It is paramount to emphasize, once again, that the implicit acceptance of affiliation by lineage and distancing oneself from self-flagellation, do not mean that the critique or criticism should necessarily be, in this case, mild or weak. As Sadeq Jalal al-Azm whom we mentioned before as the partial and relative model in self-critique, was very strict and radical in his critique, with his explicit or implicit recognition of his partial and relative affiliation with the culture that he critiqued, on one hand, and highlighting his general humanism and him being an international or cosmopolitan person, on the other. </p> <p class="p1">There is a difference that one should be attentive to in our confession of our racism and our self-critique. At first glance, or even more, it appears to the person that they are more able to know their individual or collective selves than others. On this basis, it appears that self-knowledge is the easiest type of knowledge and is generally accessible, and the individual speaking of themselves or group or society, etc.. is confident in their judgements in general. That is because to them it appears that it is based on their life experiences or their direct or particular long history of living with others. There are many theoretical and practical reasons that compel us to challenge this false obviousness. This requires that we make several distinctions and conceptual analyses.</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>Information versus interpretation</strong></h3> <p class="p1">We should begin making the distinction between information, information analysis, and/or understanding information, and/or interpretation. It is true that every individual often has information about themselves, their group, and their society, and this information may not be accessible to many others. Having this information, however, does not necessarily entail a larger or more accurate knowledge of its meaning or significations. Despite that some of the testimonies/texts have conflated these two things and making decisive judgements, other testimonies/texts have recognized in certain contexts the radical difference between the two, with its limited ability to make decisive judgements about the meaning of what it knows and its significations. For example, Abdallah Amin al-Hallaq pointed out that there are many possible interpretations and that there are many things that he does not know, for example, about the saying “like a Nusayris [an Alawite] beaten down in market.” The texts are full of different interpretations of the same saying. The famous saying, “lunch or dine with the Sunni/Alawite/Murshidi/Durzi/Jew, and sleep at the Christian’s,” is common among all sects. It was also mentioned in many of the texts/testimonies. It is obvious, however, that there is a large or small, difference in how different people interpret it. On this basis, it is important to be cautious of decisively settling for one analysis, understanding, or interpretation. On the other hand, the magnitude of the epistemological problematics is evident in Piroz Perik’s text ‘<a href="http://syriauntold.com/2018/08/the-image-of-arabs-in-kurdish-oral-heritage/#post-settings-55247">The Image of Arabs in Kurdish Oral Heritage</a>’ and Muhannad al-Katea’s response to that text, at least in what is revealed by conflating between acquiring information (knowing that there is this or that saying, in certain contexts of its usage) and interpreting, understanding, or explaining it. This decisive response revealed the extent to which people may differ in understanding, interpreting, or and explaining the same saying, despite having the same information.</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>Not knowing the other and racism: causation?</strong></h3> <p class="isModified p1">Before proceeding to other conceptual distinctions related to this issue, it would be useful to point out the problematic of the relation between the existence of racism and the knowledge of individuals from different groups of each other.<a href="http://syriauntold.com/2018/05/when-yazid-is-neither-good-nor-bad/"> Omar Kaddour</a> asserts that “the problem is definitely not a consequence of not knowing the otherthat it is solved by them getting to know each other, as there is a gap that is based on sufficient knowledge, awareness and determination” whereas Mohammad Dibo, as is obvious from the title of his text '<a href="http://syriauntold.com/2018/05/%25D9%2585%25D9%2586-%25D9%2587%25D8%25B0%25D9%2587-%25D8%25A7%25D9%2584%25D8%25A8%25D8%25B5%25D9%2584%25D8%25A9-%25D8%25B3%25D9%2586%25D9%258A%25D8%25A9-%25D8%25A5%25D9%2584%25D9%2589-%25D8%25A7%25D9%2584%25D8%25B3%25D9%2586%25D8%25A9-%25D8%25B7%25D9%258A%25D8%25A8%25D9%258A%25D9%2586-%25D9%2585%25D8%25AA%25D9%2584/">From “this Onion is Sunni’ to ‘nice sunnis like us’,</a>'&nbsp;and from its content, that sectarianism is a consequence of ignorance, as the move from “this onion is Sunni” to “nice Sunnis like us” takes place through the experience that allows for knowledge of the other and by correcting or undoing the stereotypical image of the other. It seems necessary to me to warn against simply adopting one of these two contradictory perspectives. Even though people from different groups getting to know each other may reduce or undo their racism, as Mohammad Dibo’s testimony, his personal experience, and that of his grandmother’s, reveal, getting to know each other or documenting this knowledge is ultimately not enough, most often at least, to surpass racism, because this racism is not only related to not knowing the other or how strong or valid this knowledge is.</p> <p class="p1">If it is generally difficult to know the other, knowing oneself is even more difficult. Since its Socratic beginning, philosophy has not raised the “know thyself” slogan not only as a consequence of the importance of this task but also because of how difficult it is. If the distance that separates us from the other is one of the reasons behind the difficulty of knowing the other, then the absence of this distance that separates us from ourselves is, as Nietzsche says, makes it all the more difficult for us to know ourselves. For this difficulty is not primarily a consequence of there being an unconscious level or dimension in the self that escapes immediate awareness or consciousness, but is precisely a consequence of the knower and known being identical and not separated. Contrary to the logic of “I think of others the way I think of myself” or “I know people from my knowledge of myself,” many philosophers, Paul Ricoeur for example, argue that knowing the other is a more successful, shorter, way of knowing ourselves. </p> <p class="p1">In addition to this distinction between having information on the one hand, and interpreting and/or understanding it and/or explaining it, on the other, there is an intimate distinction that needs to be highlighted. This is the distinction between personal experience and general judgements. </p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>The distinction between epistemological integrity and moral integrity</strong></h3> <p class="p1">It is necessary to distinguish between integrity in the epistemological or logical sense and integrity in the moral sense. For if epistemological or logical integrity refers to the compatibility of what is in the mind and what is in the eyes,” moral integrity refers to the compatibility between what one says, or means to say, and what he knows in this regard. The necessity of this distinction is based on there being an implicit and common belief that the moral integrity of a person, speaking of things that they “adequately know” and have a long direct experience with, necessarily entails an epistemological integrity. It is obvious that the corruption of such a belief, not only for there always being a possibility, in principle, for one to commit an epistemological mistake but also because having information does not necessarily entail having a correct understanding of it (as we mentioned before), and because having a direct personal experience of reality does not necessarily entail that being able to make general judgements concerning this reality. </p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>The distinction between personal experience and general judgements</strong></h3> <p class="p1">It is also necessary to pay attention to the difference between a unique experience and its contextual and partial nature on the one hand, and general judgements or generalizations that could be made about the object of this experience, on the other. This is particularly true in terms of knowledge in general and knowledge of self in particular. This difference is a primary one because experience is always partial. This last distinction pushes us to be cautious before making generalizations based on our own personal experience or the stereotype that we have formed based on this experience. Concerning mixed marriages between individuals from different sects, Ahmad al-Khalil says, “the Ismaili sect has no problem with this matter.” Despite that most Ismaili individuals are less conservative in general concerning this, it is absolutely inappropriate epistemologically to make such an absolute and decisive judgement. If the personal experiences and knowledge of the author about this sect allowed him to make this generalization, others, including myself, have different experiences that allow them to be partially and relatively reserved in making such a decisive generalization. These inaccurate generalizations reveal our strong tendency to form stereotypes.</p> <h2 class="isModified p1"><strong>On profiling and stereotyping</strong></h2> <p class="p1">Although the common stereotype about stereotyping and the stereotypical image often carry negative connotations, it is important to emphasize their necessity on the one hand and the possibility that they may be useful or positive and not harmful, on the other. We can elaborate this partial and relative necessity by emphasizing that understanding or understanding the other (as elaborated by the prominent hermeneutic philosophers) cannot start from scratch or from nothing, but almost always begins from some prior understanding. The availability of a stereotypical image is, partially and relatively, a useful starting point. This stereotypical image of the other is not always negative, and it is possible to compare how it is employed, sometimes, partially and relatively, with a stereotype of “ideal-types” that may help in understanding reality without reflecting this reality or being compatible with it. If the necessity of a stereotypical image, as a prior understanding, does not entail settling for this image epistemologically, for it is necessary to rectify and develop it, allowing a minimization of its negatives and facilitating that the positives are enhanced. This applies to the stereotypical image that we have about stereotypical images in general, and the stereotypical images that individuals belonging to different racial groups have about each other in particular. These stereotypical images that the texts/testimonies have not only include the different stereotypical images that different groups have of each other, but also include the stereotypical images that some of the authors of these texts have of the groups that they belong to, and of other groups. It is necessary to understand the different intersecting levels of stereotypical images in every analysis and understanding of texts that involve a transgression of racist taboos.</p> <h3 class="isModified p1"><strong>Transgression through writing</strong></h3> <p class="p1">In the conclusion of a preliminary conceptual analysis of some of the concepts related to the confession of our ethno-religious racism, I would like to point out the most important aspects that embody the transgression carried out by the texts of racist taboos in our “culture” and/or “society.” It is obvious that trying to seriously and honestly discuss this topic (ethno-religious racism among Syrians) is considered a transgression of the familiar redlines in this matter. This transgression, however, has become more and more common since the beginning of the Syrian revolution. This, partial and relative, increasing commonness, changes the color of the lines that it crosses, such that it can be said that they are no longer as red as before. This does not undermine the importance of the file opened by Syria Untold. On the contrary, addressing this seriously and calmly has become more possible, after the initial conversations that were most often naturally closer to being a reaction and being superficial. </p> <p class="p1">Transgressing Syrian taboos is not achieved by presenting new and shocking information that startles Syrians. Most of this information is already known in general to many Syrians. What is new in transgressing the taboo in this regard was at the level of ideas, and was embodied in presenting some analysis of this information in a manner that expresses the stereotypical image that the authors of the texts have on the one hand, and facilitates in understanding the dimensions of the stereotypical images that Syrian groups have of each other, on the other. In addition to normalizing the relations with the issue of ethno-religious Syrian racism, the most prominent formulation of transgression in this file is represented by addressing this topic in written texts and not by transient oral discourse. The testimonies consist of a serious theoretical discussion that includes some important ideas and analyses that provoke thinking. The most important, and of course unique, aspect of this file is in that it takes to write what was known and common at the level of oral discourse only. This move (of transgression) from the oral to the written is in itself a transgression of a special kind, common among non-writing cultures, cultures that sometimes object to sinning publicly more so than the sinning itself.</p> <p class="p1">Finally, I would like to emphasize once more that transgression is not positive unless it is founded on values different than those it is supposed to expose, discover, and move beyond. Without accepting and embracing difference, and becoming open to the other and their differences, and adopting a real discourse of equality between people at the level of dignity, freedom, human rights, transgressive discourse will not be more than a racist discourse, directly or not. Transgressing racist taboos is not positive when it takes the form of a racist discourse that actually enhances racism, instead of exposing it in such a way that allows for it to be understood and surpassed. The discourses that attempt to expose the racism of other groups, must know the values that this discourse adopts and is grounded in, the values that it justifies and depends, so that what the discourse attacks or exposes specifically is revealed. For attacking “Kurdish racism against Arabs” and exposing it, may be grounded in Arab racism that is as bad or even worse in most cases. This is the case of many of the trending discourses at the moment that attempts to expose the racism of this or that group. Most of these discourses that want to expose the racism of the other are in fact, exposed discourses, that probably require further exposure.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/mohammad-dibo/oral-culture-and-identity-in-syria-dossier">Oral culture and identity in Syria - Dossier</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Civil society Democracy and government sectarianism Housamedden Darwish Tue, 04 Dec 2018 17:08:58 +0000 Housamedden Darwish 120843 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Professional solidarity with Palestine: a mental health imperative https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr/professional-solidarity-with-palestine-mental-health-imperative <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> Palestinian mental health professionals will continue critical dialogue of the occupation until its hegemony is exposed and deconstructed.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="selectionShareable"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-38858667.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-38858667.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Friends of Naser Azmi Musabeh grieve with a wreath of flowers on his desk. Naser an 11-year-old from Khan Younis south of Gaza was hit with a live bullet in the head by Israeli troops during demonstrations in eastern Khan Younis. Picture by Hassan Jedi/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>In the field of medicine, we often speak of the social determinants of health. In Palestine, not only social, but political determinants of health have a grave impact on the wellbeing and mental health of our community. I am not just talking about the political blackmail through recent blatant cuts of the US administration of millions of US dollars from East Jerusalem hospitals and defunding UNRWA educational and health services, but also through the daily realities of dismal work opportunities, a vacuum of leadership, the threat of political detention haunting our youth, and the pervasive experiences of loss and grief. Centuries of political oppression has created a cascade of damage to collective identity and individuals’ personalities.</p> <p class="selectionShareable">The ongoing siege of Gaza is only a single dramatisation of how the political realities of occupation deliberately destroy the quality of life for Palestinians.&nbsp; In a society where the sudden traumatic death of young people is common and the experience of detention and torture touch every family, psychological suffering and collective anxiety are pandemics. Who better than mental health professionals to understand how this omnipresent pain and fear can intimidate the population or even push individuals into radicalisation?</p> <p class="selectionShareable">In my governmental office at the mental health unit responsible for mental health services in the West Bank, I often receive donors and representative of international medical and mental health NGO’s, who are interested in supporting our mental health system. Some are ready to pay for medications, equipment, training; but they shy away from advocacy and political solidarity.</p> <p class="selectionShareable">But, solidarity with the Palestinian people and advocacy for their human and national rights is just a therapeutic stand in the face of their collective historical trauma and is not limited to mental health professionals. Without such solidarity, the interventions of mental health professionals may do more harm than good as such interventions fail to be preventive, might pathologise the experience of Palestinians, medicalises their reactions and inhibits their agency, while maintaining the status quo of their pathogenic context.</p><p class="selectionShareable">The decision by the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) to hold its 2019 conference in Tel Aviv and the participation of the <em>Association de Conferences de Psychiatrie de l’Enfant et de l’adolescent de Langue Francaise en Israel</em> (COPELFI) – at a colloquium on Trauma in Rennes, France, this December – are recent examples of how occupied Palestine is overlooked by mental health professionals, demonstrating how Western identification with the Israeli experience is facilitated.&nbsp; But this bias is classical in my profession; I use search engines often to see how much is published in my professional domain in relation to Palestine and Israel: so little is published about Palestinian trauma, so much is published about Palestinian “terrorism” while so much is published about Israeli trauma, so little is published about Israel’s terrorism.</p> <p class="selectionShareable">Propaganda is not limited to media!&nbsp; Even in professional settings, Palestine is hushed, and the final considerations of the trauma of the Jewish nation are silencing much of the critical dialogue about the occupation.&nbsp; In 2014, just after the massacres in Gaza, I was invited to speak at the Tavistock and Portman Institute in London. After multiple attempts to intimidate me into silence, one of the professional participants shouted at the moderator, “This is one-sided; why didn’t you invite an Israeli speaker?” “It is a betrayal of the Jewish founding fathers of this place” to invite a person like “her!” a psychiatrist who raises questions about the role and responsibility that professionals share to engage with the political reality.</p><p class="selectionShareable">Europeans, Westerners, and Israelis do not own the profession of healing, nor do they possess the experience of Palestinians. To disregard the experience of Palestinians is—at the very least—neglect; to condition listening to and inviting Palestinians to inviting Israelis is an illusion of symmetry and a promotion of the Palestinian normalization with and dependency on Israelis to reach international professional venues; that ominous dependency that makes the trauma of the Palestinians more complex.&nbsp; Instead of questioning Israeli professionals about their ethical responsibilities as Israelis and as professionals towards the political trauma of Palestinians, international professionals become an accomplice in denial and that impedes their role as a third party with a potential role to promote psychological healing and encourage&nbsp;restorative justice and future reconciliation.</p> <p class="selectionShareable">Many professionals today take pride in having maintained solidarity with Nelson Mandela and the people he represented in his opposition to the apartheid regime of South Africa years ago. Few today would wish to be known as having brought pro-apartheid white South African professionals to conferences so that they could share the expertise of their trauma caused by black South Africans. Likewise, mental health professionals should not depend upon Israelis to provide expertise on the shock of our political reality. Instead, mental health professionals should take pride in supporting their colleagues in Palestine in their daily work and in generating knowledge and awareness of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the state of Israel which engendered trauma for both peoples. Meanwhile, we, Palestinian mental health professionals, will continue our critical dialogue of the occupation until its hegemony is exposed and deconstructed.</p><p class="selectionShareable"><strong>This article was originally published on <a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181129-professional-solidarity-with-palestine-a-mental-health-imperative/">Middle East Monitor</a></strong></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anastasia-kyriacou/mental-health-in-conflict-occupation-therapy-needed-for-pa">Mental health in conflict: ‘occupation therapy’ needed for Palestinians</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/yosefa-loshitzky/ahed-tamimi-illegally-blond">Ahed Tamimi: illegally blond</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jen-marlowe-fadi-abu-shammalah/great-return-march-and-women-of-gaza">The Great Return March and the women of Gaza</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/omar-talab-Bertie-Wnek/in-palestine-self-dehumanisation-against-disregard-of-human-value">In Palestine: self-dehumanisation against the disregard of human value</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine solidarity Mental health Samah Jabr Tue, 04 Dec 2018 11:42:24 +0000 Samah Jabr 120832 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The hypocrisy behind British endorsement of Bahrain’s ‘sham’ elections https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/sayed-ahmed-alwadaei-monica-zuraw/hypocrisy-behind-british-endorsement-of-bah <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>UK’s support for Bahrain’s sham-elections emboldens the Gulf nation to continue intensifying its crackdown on civil rights with impunity.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39705484.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39705484.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Deputy King, Crown Prince of Bahrain at the official opening of the new Composites Technology Center at McLaren Automotive in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK. Picture by DPPA/Sipa USA/PA images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span> The promising news of British academic&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/26/matthew-hedges-jailed-british-academic-pardoned-by-uae" target="_blank">Matthew Hedges’</a>&nbsp;release from detention in the UAE following a presidential pardon came only four days after he was handed a life sentence for arbitrary charges relating to espionage. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) demonstrated a swift and compassionate response to the PhD student’s plight and should be applauded for their efforts to reverse the unjust conviction.</p> <p> Earlier this month, opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman also received a life sentence from another UK Gulf ally, Bahrain, for similarly bogus charges relating to espionage. Unfortunately for the prominent Bahraini political figure, a pardon was never in consideration.&nbsp;</p> <p> The difference in approach is startling. The FCO’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights is evidently contingent upon their strategic interests and political will. To western leaders, the need for allies to buy their weapons is infinitely more important than holding their allies accountable for crushing civil society at home or starving children to death in Yemen, among other ongoing human rights abuses. As long as the money is flowing, these abuses are not their problem.</p> <p> Last weekend, elections were held in Bahrain for the Council of Representatives of Bahrain’s National Assembly, wherein 40 members were elected. These members hold legislative power and are similar to the UK’s House of Commons. The crucial difference is that, in Bahrain, those elected cannot be members of the opposition.</p> <p> FCO Minister Alistair Burt&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/AlistairBurtUK/status/1058012349758627840" target="_blank">praised</a>&nbsp;the UK’s historical friendship with Bahrain’s Al Khalifa ruling family last month and has now&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/AlistairBurtUK/status/1066749574977634305" target="_blank">welcomed</a>&nbsp;the “continuing progress and commitment to the democratic process”, apparently demonstrated by the elections in Bahrain this past weekend. The factual basis for this support is negligible.&nbsp;Members of international&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/09/bahrain-undemocratic-after-ban-placed-on-opposition" target="_blank">legislative bodies</a>&nbsp;condemned the elections and questioned their legitimacy, including members of the British Parliament, US Congress, EU Parliament, and Italian and Irish Parliament. In fact, even the FCO itself cannot deny knowledge of the situation in Bahrain, as it has&nbsp;<a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630623/Human_Rights_and_Democracy_Report_2016_accessible.pdf" target="_blank">previously highlighted</a>&nbsp;some of the core issues surrounding freedom of political participation in the kingdom.</p> <p> Prior to the elections, the two largest political opposition societies,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.adhrb.org/2018/02/bahrain-confirms-closure-of-al-wefaq-continues-arbitrary-prosecution-of-its-leaders/" target="_blank">Al Wefaq</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.adhrb.org/2017/10/bahraini-appeals-court-confirms-dissolution-of-waad-last-major-opposition-group/" target="_blank">Wa’ad</a>, were forcibly dissolved by the Bahraini government, and the government amped up restrictions on free expression. Bahrain’s most prominent human rights activists,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/02/bahrain-shameful-attack-on-freedom-of-expression-as-nabeel-rajab-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison-for-tweets/" target="_blank">Nabeel Rajab</a>, is currently serving a seven year prison sentence for televised interviews and tweeting his condemnation of the war in Yemen and Bahrain’s participation in the atrocity.</p> <p> The Bahraini government took additional measures to restrict participation ahead of the elections. In May this year, legislation was&nbsp;<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bahrain-security/bahrain-bars-members-of-opposition-groups-from-standing-in-elections-idUSKCN1IE0QA" target="_blank">amended</a>&nbsp;to bar anyone who has ever belonged to one of the dissolved political societies from seeking elected office, as well as anyone who has served six months or more in prison. In a country with over 4,000 political prisoners, this severely limits those who can run for office.&nbsp;</p> <p> The human rights situation on the ground in Bahrain is similarly grim. I myself have three family members languishing in Bahraini prisons - serving lengthy sentences in reprisal for my human rights work. Among them is my mother-in-law, Hajer Mansoor, who was&nbsp;<a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bahrain-tortured-woman-to-avenge-human-rights-leaks-cb5rqlh6x" target="_blank">assaulted</a>&nbsp;last September by prison guards. After repeated encouragement by UK ministers, I complained to Bahrain’s oversight bodies - bodies known for lacking independence and failing to fulfill their mandates. Despite simply proving their&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/SAlwadaei/status/1064857237548617729" target="_blank">ineffectiveness</a>&nbsp;by whitewashing the abuses, a Minister outrageously endorsed the investigations conducted by the bodies,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Lords/2018-10-22/HL10909/" target="_blank">describing</a>&nbsp;them as “swift and thorough”.</p> <p> Unlike Hedges’ case, the FCO has taken the assurances provided by the Bahraini authorities with a ‘no questions asked’ mentality; they have never acknowledged that my family members have been targeted on account of my work and that Bahrain is culpable for the horrific human rights abuses orchestrated by its government. Bahrain is able to continue operating in the shadows, shielded by powerful western countries like the UK.</p> <p> The FCO is in a position to effect real change in the Gulf. Hedges’ release illustrates the capabilities of the UK government when they choose to exert their influence. If only they wielded the full extent of their authority and leverage, the FCO would be able to significantly improve the fortune of political dissidents and human rights figures in Bahrain.</p> <p> Instead, the UK maintains its unconditional support for the repressive regime, supplemented by a healthy £5 million in technical assistance programmes. Actions may speak louder than words, but in this case, the rhetoric of the UK is as detrimental as its money. Minister Burt’s support for these sham-elections embolden the Gulf nation to continue intensifying its crackdown on civil rights with impunity.&nbsp; </p><p> In a repressive dictatorship, there are no meaningful elections. The purpose of having a supposed democracy is to secure the continued public praise from authoritative figures in the West. And it looks as if they are playing right into Bahrain’s bloody hands.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/nafeez-ahmed/did-us-and-britain-collude-in-murder-of-jamal-khashoggi">Did the US and Britain collude in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/jannis-grimm/policing-research-shifting-tides-for-middle-east-studies-after-arab-spring">Authoritarian Middle East regimes don&#039;t like academics – ask Matthew Hedges</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bahrain </div> <div class="field-item even"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia uk UK Bahrain Democracy and government International politics Monica Zuraw Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei Mon, 03 Dec 2018 17:46:01 +0000 Sayed Ahmed AlWadaei and Monica Zuraw 120819 at https://www.opendemocracy.net نيتفليكس والمنطقة العربيّة سياسات الهويّة لم تمرّ من هنا https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/netflix-political-correctness <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>هل تلعب أجندة مسبقة للشبكة الدور الأكبر في تحديد خياراتها في المنطقة العربيّة؟</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 19.36.04_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 19.36.04_0.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="186" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>No attribution needed.</span></span></span>&nbsp;أثناء<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2IP3ifK_Ck"> تسلمّها</a> جائزة Screen Actors Guild Award لعام 2016 بصحبة باقي أفراد فريق عمل مسلسل Orange is the new black عبّرت الممثلّة والمخرجة الأمريكيّة لاورا بريبون وسط حماستها الشديدة عن فخرها بـ"التنوّع" الذي يميّز فريق عمل المسلسل الأمريكي الشهير الّذي تنتجه وتعرضه شبكة نيتفلكيس منذ عام 2013. "انظروا إلى الخشبة، هذا ما نتحدث عنه عندما نتحدّث عن التعدّدية: أعراق، ألوان، قناعات دينيّة، وتوجّهات جنسيّة، شكراً جزيلاً!".</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="rtl">مديح التعدّدية الذي استخدمته بيربون للإثناء على زملائها، لم يكن منفصلاً عن تحوّلات طرأت على المسلسل ذاته</p><p dir="rtl">مديح التعدّدية الذي استخدمته بيربون للإثناء على زملائها، لم يكن منفصلاً عن تحوّلات طرأت على المسلسل ذاته خلال مواسمه المختلفة، لجهة الاهتمام المتزايد بإظهار التنوّع والتعدّدية في مجتمع سجن النساء الأميريكي، الذي تدور معظم أحداث المسلسل داخله، ليغدو المسلسل مع الوقت أكثر اقتراباً للصوابيّة السياسيّة واجبة التمثيل، خاصة في مواسمه الأخيرة، أو حتّى في مسلسلات وأفلام<a href="https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/12/once-you-get-over-its-political-correctness-netflixs-godless-is-a-cracker/"> أخرى</a> من إنتاج شبكة نيتفليكس. الأمر الذي أدّى إلى تذمّر بعض<a href="https://9gag.com/gag/aAxoVKZ/another-netflix-series-ruined-by-political-correctness"> مشاهدي</a> الشبكة العملاقة، من الإقحام القسري للصوابيّة السياسيّة في أعمالها.</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>&nbsp;نيتفليكس في السوق العربي</strong></p><p dir="rtl">كالولادة المتعثّرة التي<a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/entertainment/2018/1/16/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B4%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%81%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%B3"> ينتظرها الجميع</a>، تدخل نيتفليكس تدريجيّاً على<a href="https://almanassa.net/ar/story/9231"> السوق الكبير</a> الذي تشكلّه المنطقة العربيّة. ومع اشتباك سياسات الشبكة العملاقة مع العديد من القضايا المرتبطة مثلاً <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/entertainment/2018/1/16/%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%88%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D9%88%D9%84-%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%81%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%B3">بخطر نيتفليكس</a> على صناعة السينما في العالم، أو هوس الشبكة بعكس المزاج العام لتنامي سياسات الهويّة في إنتاجاتها كما ذكرنا، تبدو المنطقة العربيّة معنيّة بأسئلة أخرى بالعلاقة مع منصّة نيتفليكس.</p><p dir="rtl">فعلى المستوى الأوّل، يبرز سؤال القرصنة الإشكالي لمنصّات عرض محتوى أصلي مثل نيتفليكس، فكثير من بلدان المنطقة العربيّة لا تجرّم تحميل الأفلام والمسلسلات بشكل "غير قانوني"، خاصة مع غياب قوانين تحمي حقوق الملكية. بالإضافة إلى ضعف خدمات الدفع الإلكتروني في عدد من الدول العربيّة، ما يجعل دخول الشبكة إلى مثل هذا السوق غير المضبوط نوعاً من المغامرة.</p><p dir="rtl">ولكن على مستوى ثان لعلاقة نيتفليكس بالمنطقة العربيّة، يبرز السؤال عن المحتوى الذي من الممكن أن تنتجه الشبكة بشكل خاص للمنطقة العربيّة، بخاصّة بعد العمل الأوّل الذي قدّمته، وهو عرض كوميديا من أداء اللبناني عادل كرم، والّذي قوبل بنقد سلبي، سواء من ناحية<a href="https://www.vice.com/ar/article/neq5jz/%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%84-%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%8C-%D9%88%D9%84%D9%85-%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%86-%D8%A3%D9%8A-%D9%85%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%AD%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%8B"> ضعف الكوميديا الّتي قدّمها</a>، أو <a href="https://www.7iber.com/culture/adel-karam-live-from-beirut/">تعارض نوعيّة الكوميديا</a> الّتي قدّمها مع صوابية نيتفليكس في مناطق أخرى من العالم.</p><p dir="rtl">إذ ركّز الممثل اللبناني في عرضه على نوع الكوميديا الذي يعتمد على الصور الهويّاتيّة النمطيّة، الذي يبدو أنّ الشبكة تحاول اللعب على فكرة محاربته في الكثير من أعمالها الأصليّة، أي المنتجة من قبل الشبكة، وليست تلك التي تشتري حقوق بثّها من شركات إنتاج أخرى بغرض العرض فقط، كما في حالة مسلسل Friends &nbsp;الشهير الذي أثار عرضه مؤخراً على الشبكة<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/friends-netflix-sitcom-problem-sexism-men-joey-phoebe-chandler-ross-rachel-a8168976.html"> سخط شريحة من متابعيها</a> لتضمنّه محتوى ينتمي إلى نوع الكوميديا التي قدّمها كرم في برنامجه.&nbsp;</p><p dir="rtl"><strong>جدار مصمت في وجه التحرّر</strong></p><p dir="rtl">الصدمة السلبيّة حول أداء نيتفليكس المحتمل في المنطقة العربيّة تعزّزت مع<a href="https://al-ain.com/article/netflix-series-arab-drama"> اختيار الشبكة</a> لمسلسل "الهيبة" اللبناني، للكاتب السوري هوزان عكو، لتقدمه لمشاهديها حول العالم. فالمسلسل الذي أنتج منه جزآن حتّى اليوم، أثار أيضاً انتقادات واسعة لجهة تغزلّه بقيم<a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/entertainment/2018/6/7/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%D9%8A%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%B7%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%B0%D9%82%D9%86-%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%8A%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B0%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-1"> ذكوريّة الطابع</a>، كالقوّة البدنيّة والسلاح. هذا بالإضافة إلى دعوى قضائيّة توجّه بها أهالي منطقة بعلبك اللبنانيّة ضدّ الشركة المنتجة للمسلسل، على اعتبار أنّه<a href="https://www.lebanon24.com/news/lebanon/477730/%D8%A8%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%D8%B1%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%B6-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%D9%8A%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%A7%D9%86"> يمسّ بسمعة أهل المنطقة</a>.</p><p dir="rtl">ومن هنا، من الممكن طرح سؤالين مختلفين: هل تلعب أجندة مسبقة للشبكة الدور الأكبر في تحديد خياراتها في المنطقة العربيّة؟ أمّ أنّ سوق الإنتاج التلفزيوني العربي تحمل تناقضاتها الذاتيّة التي أدّت إلى تفاعل نيتفليكس معها بهذه الطريقة؟</p><p dir="rtl">تبدو الإجابة على السؤال الثاني ربّما أكثر أهميّة للاهتداء إلى فهم أدق للواقع الحالي للصناعة التلفزيونيّة في المنطقة العربيّة، والتي يبدو أنّها تعاني في نسخها الأغزر إنتاجاً في مصر وسوريا من أزمات متواصلة، سواءً في مرحلة ما قبل الثورات في البلدين أو في الأعوام التالية، لذلك تبدو عمليّة الإنتاج التلفزيوني العربي أشبه بعملية إدارة أزمة مستمرّة، أقلّه على مستوى <a href="https://www.addustour.com/articles/457140-%D8%A3%D8%B2%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9">النقد المكتوب</a> حول الدراما التلفزيونيّة في المنطقة.</p><p dir="rtl">ولكن يبدو أيضاً أنّ "الأزمات" المفترضة التي تعاني منها صناعة المسلسلات التلفزونيّة العربيّة، تتقاطع مع آليّة تجسّد سياسات الهويّة في شبكة نيتفليكس. فمن الواضح أنّ تصاعد تمثيل سياسيات الهويّة يأتي تلبية لمزاج شريحة واسعة من متابعي نيتفليكس في "الغرب" من النخب الأقرب إلى اعتناق سياسات الهويّة والمطالبة بانعكاسها على الفنون<a href="https://www.alquds.co.uk/%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D9%88-%D8%B9%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%82%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%B3/"> والسياسة</a> والفضاء العام، وحيث أنّ هذا التوجّه يحتمل النقد بطبيعة الحال، إلّا أنّنا نريد هنا الاقتصار على ذكر وجوده الذي يمكن رصده كما في مثال &nbsp;Orange is the new black، و Master of None وغيرها من إنتاجات الشبكة.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="rtl">أمّا في حالة المنطقة العربيّة، فتبدو عمليّة الاستجابة لمزاج النخب الثقافيّة معكوسة تماماً</p><p dir="rtl">أمّا في حالة المنطقة العربيّة، فتبدو عمليّة الاستجابة لمزاج النخب الثقافيّة معكوسة تماماً، فالصناعة التلفزيونيّة تبتعد على مستويين عن عمليّة تمثّيل مزاج النخب الثقّافيّة، وبخاصّة الشابة منها. فعلى المستوى الأوّل يلعب مصدر التمويل دوراً رئيسيّاً في تبنّي الأعمال التلفزيونيّة لأجندات معادية للقيم السياسيّة التحرّريّة، كما في حالة عدد كبير من المسلسلات التلفزيونيّة السوريّة المموّلة<a href="https://www.aljumhuriya.net/ar/33778"> بأموال النظام السياسي</a>، أو مصادر مقرّبة منه. الأمر الذي ينجز بصورة أقل حدّة<a href="http://midan.aljazeera.net/art/cinema/2018/5/22/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B5%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B7%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%A8-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%B6%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7"> في الدراما المصريّة</a>.</p><p dir="rtl">وعلى المستوى الثاني تلعب عوامل بنيويّة في سوق الدراما العربيّة عاملاً حاسماً في تحديد شكل العلاقة بين المنتج والمستهلك، ففكرة الموسم الرمضاني الذي ينتج قبله مسلسلاً كاملاً بثلاثين حلقة للعرض خلال الشهر مع منافسة حادّة لكلّ ما أنتج خلال العام في المنطقة، تختلف بشكل جذري عن صناعة الدراما التلفزيونيّة في الولايات المتّحدة الأمريكيّة، أو حتّى في بلدان أقرب للمنطقة العربيّة مثل تركيّا مثلاً، حيث تشكّل حلقة تلفزيونيّة واحدة مادّة لتجريب المنتج في سوق العرض قبل إكمال إنتاجه في حال لاقت "العيّنة" رضى المتابعين واهتمامهم، وبطبيعة الحال تطوّر حلقات المسلسل اللّاحقة (أو أجزائه) بعلاقة تبادليّة مع الجمهور ومزاجه العام، وطبعاً عوامل أخرى متنوّعة.</p><p dir="rtl">هذه المحدّدات لعمليّة إنتاج الدراما التلفزيونيّة العربيّة تشكّل آليّات ممانعة مستمرّة ضدّ الإمكانيّات المحتملة لتمرير قيم تحرّرية سياسيّة عامّة، وفرديّة خاصّة ضمن المسلسلات، زد على ذلك الحذر الشديد في التعامل مع التلفاز كونه وسيطاً "يدخل كلّ بيت" و"في متناول كلّ أفراد العائلة"، وغيرها من<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVb6bA7oUkc"> السرديّات</a> التي تشكّل حائطاً دفاعيّاً أوليّاً على مستوى الخطاب ضدّ محاولات خرق محاذير الرقابة التلفزيونيّة العربيّة متعدّدة الطبقات، الأمر الذي يبدو أن محاولات مختلفة تحاول اليوم خرقه على مستوى الإنتاج العربي، كما في مسلسل "بدون قيد" الذي<a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/entertainment/2017/12/29/%D8%A8%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%82%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D8%AD%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%89-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%B1"> اعتمد وسيط اليوتيوب لعرض حلقاته</a>، وربّما لاحقاً في الإنتاجات العربيّة ا<a href="https://www.alghad.com/articles/2127622-%E2%80%98%E2%80%98Netflix%E2%80%98%E2%80%98-%D8%AA%D8%B7%D9%84%D9%82-%D8%A3%D9%88%D9%84-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84-%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A3%D8%AD%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AB%D9%87-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%86">لمنتظرة من نيتفلكيس</a>.</p><p dir="rtl">&nbsp;ليس من المستبعد كليّاً أن نرى ممثلة عربيّة تحتفي على أحد منصّات التتويج في السنوات القادمة على طريقة لاورا بيربون بالتنوّع والاختلاف، بخاصّة في منطقة متنوّعة بطبيعة الحال كالمنطقة العربيّة، لكن يبدو أنّه كما يتزامن<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/golden-age-tv-british-people-study-television-programmes-high-definition-a8541211.html"> العصر الذهبي للتلفاز عالميّا</a> مع أزمات تلفزيونيّة مستمرّة في المنطقة العربيّة، فإنّ الأمر ذاته يتكرّر مع "تريند" سياسيات الهويّة –أيّا كان منشأه- بما يحمله من<a href="https://www.ida2at.com/fukuyama-identity-politics-crisis-democracy/"> نقاش</a>، قد يكون مفيداً في منطقتنا أكثر من غيرها. ليتأخّر بدوره عن القدوم إلينا كحال الكثير ممّا ننتظر في هذه المنطقة من العالم.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/Mr-Gay-Syria-movie">Mr. Gay Syria أين أنت يا حبّي؟ أنا هنا يا حبّي</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia-Lafarg-factory-Syrian-play-Germany">الإسمنت الفرنسي، والأسئلة السوريّة، &quot;المصنع&quot; كمحرَض على التفكير</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7/%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A">أورهان باموك والسفير الروسي: المخيّلة والواقع بين مولودين</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia وسيم الشرقي Sun, 02 Dec 2018 11:39:48 +0000 وسيم الشرقي 120796 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The elephant at the state of the "upper-side" https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/the-Elephant-in-the-Room <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The elephant was the one who did the act of balancing on the wheel; the master was the one who taught it that trick</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/pavel-nekoranec-648895-unsplash.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/pavel-nekoranec-648895-unsplash.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash. No attribution required. </span></span></span>“What are you doing here? Israelis don't wait in line,” the young TSA officer at Ben Gurion airport of Tel Aviv told me in an elusive attitude on my way to an international conference held in Morocco.</p> <p><span>I decided to write about this on the way back from the conference. It was a United Nations event to discuss the situation in Jerusalem after 50 years of occupation, and 25 years after Oslo accords. However, as one of the expert speakers pointed out, the conference's tagline should have read: Jerusalem after 70 years of occupation, which is also valid.</span></p> <p>The number 70 is a nice-looking number, perhaps only to me, as 7 is my lucky number. For Palestine, the number is not so fortunate. At that conference, my affinity towards the number 7 was deflated somewhat.</p> <p>I was invited to submit a paper on “The Politics of Education in East Jerusalem.” Nevertheless, at certain moments, I was galloped into the overarching topic and stomped under the feet of the “elephant in the room”. I found myself asking the Palestinian in me: Is this happening again? Are they still discussing the repercussions of occupation? What good would it do? Why does it feel that the international community is still powerless in front of that elephant?</p> <p>If you step into the grandiose colourful tent, find your seat and wait for the show to start, and then comes the ringleader followed by the confused elephant with its cheerful attire. Then, the poor elephant mounts the wheel and balances itself with the help of its master. One would be entertained, and you may clap and laugh in appreciation. Did you appreciate the elephant or the master?</p> <p>The elephant was the one who did the act of balancing on the wheel; the master was the one who taught it that trick. The elephant followed the rules set by the master; and the master had to emphasise his role as the leader, or else he wouldn't convince the elephant to follow the guidelines. You wouldn't want a dapper elephant losing its balance and falling on you, especially if you were sitting in the first few rows in that circus.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Then Israel might be the elephant in this particular analogy</p> <p>If we assume that occupation was the elephant, and since the word "occupation" is a noun, then there must be an occupier, which is evident in our case: Israel. Then Israel might be the elephant in this particular analogy.</p> <p>Likewise, the TSA officer at Ben Gurion airport touched upon the elephant in the room: Israelis don't wait in this line. He confessed a statement that was very apparent to him and was flabbergasted that the group of young Israeli lads standing close to me in that line did not get the memo. That line was for Arabs only, Palestinians to be specific. </p> <p>That officer was enforcing a rule that was given to him by his superiors; he didn't invent the law of diverting Palestinians into a different line where they will be relentlessly examined. He didn't develop the concept of profiling Palestinians in a rounding-up manner. He also didn't create the concept of temporary Travel Documents (La Sei passé) that are exclusively issued to Palestinian Jerusalemites, where it states that these individuals are Jordanian citizens who are residing in Israel on a visa that is renewed every few years. He, the poor TSA officer, didn't come up with the law that if a Palestinian Jerusalemite fails to prove that their centre of life is Jerusalem, they will lose their Israeli residency status and they would have to be deported to the Palestinian Territories and lose everything they have in Jerusalem. He knows that Israelis do not stand in that line; it wasn't their place. They go straight to the "Upper-side."</p> <p>He spilt the truth, the oblivious young man. He, however, was following the master's lead. He had a supervisor, though; I saw her guiding him now and then. I had a couple of hours to kill while I was waiting for them to take out and carefully inspect every item in my carry-on bag. I should have gotten rid of the used tissue papers I put in the outer side of my bag, I have sensitive sinuses! </p> <p>However, his supervisor reports to someone higher, and they to others. The line finally stops at - the Israeli government as an entity.</p> <p>While I was waiting for my turn to take the panel and present my paper, I had a thought: Does “Israel” report to a ringleader?</p> <p>Because in my logic: the elephant in that conference room was occupation and occupation is Israel, then Israel must have a master who ensures "everyone stays in line," including Israel itself. However, who is the master my dear gullible TSA officer?</p><p><span>I'm sure he felt powerful at the moment he directed his brethren towards the other side. He felt even more dominant when he replied to my question of when I should expect the intricate search to be finished by saying that I needed to board my plane in 20 minutes, which was close to impossible. I wanted to tap on his shoulder gently and spill the truth I see: You're not as powerful as you think, my dear. You're doing the works of someone else who is much higher in the hierarchy, who thinks and strategises for you to come and profile Ali and the other common people on the “Lower-side.”</span></p> <p>The Israeli government, which is exercising punitive measures on the Palestinian people, and dismisses them at every given opportunity to make sure they know who's in power, must have a higher power that has specific motives and leadership style. I believe that this entity wants to have an anchor in the core of the Middle East, at the very centre. Israel has garnered the upfront and unequivocal backing of the most powerful country in the world for many years, and has been granted another golden ticket by the friend of Zion to commemorate its existence even further.</p> <p>The latest decision by Mr Trump has proved to the world, and to me while I was sitting at that conference hall in Rabat, that America does what it wants, and it wants Israel to gain more power. And rightly so, the decision has motivated the Israeli government to upsurge its aggregation techniques upon Palestinians, especially those who have a probationary status in what Israel has captured by force.</p> <p>Following the American blessing regarding Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Municipality has started a campaign to unite West and East Jerusalem in exact terms; not the superficial method it had adopted in the past. Because despite enforcing Palestinian Jerusalemites to adhere to paying their dues in the form of property taxes (Arnona), and national insurance fees to receive social and health benefits, their neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem were underdeveloped and shabbier than Jewish districts in the western part of the city. Although a Palestinian and an Israeli pays the same amount to the authorities, they receive vastly different services. </p> <p>However, in a new turn of events, and after the American decision, the Israeli authorities have decided to inject $560 million through a five-year-plan to shrink the gap between East and West Jerusalem in three areas: infrastructure, education, and women's enrolment in the workforce. The three categories seem well-meaning to the untrained in Jerusalem’s affairs. However, for Palestinians who have past experiences in the actions of Israeli authorities throughout the years, they received the news with a grain of salt and a nod of despair.</p> <p>These investments could have manifested when the Palestinians have called for equality of services provided to them by the authorities. Israel has also been dismissive of the international community's plead to rectify Palestinian Jerusalemites' livelihood in the city. Now, and in close proximity to Trump's decision, the authorities have decided to take action. That only means one thing: Israel was waiting for the green light from its ally, who happens to be the strongest country in the world, and where the latter has made itself clear on its stand regarding the Palestinians, especially recently, through the succession of veto decisions. Lastly, was the veto against an almost-unanimous UN statement regarding protecting Palestinians following the Gaza shootings on the fence in light of the Great March of Return.</p> <p>One would ponder upon the following: Are we ready now to confirm that the U.S. government is the ringleader and Israel is its tool on the ground? Do we need more proof of the sweet alliance that was formed before World War II? </p> <p>Could we suggest that the U.S. had noticed an entity in need for a "safe" zone and decided to use its need for the former's agenda of having a trusted extremity in the Middle East? Could we extend our creative streak and confirm the fact that the U.S. fuels Israel with its weaponry stash?</p><p>Now, the elephant has concluded the show, the master has basked in the glory of his achievement, the people have clapped, laughed and left, but the elephant is back in its cage feasting on an extra meal of peanuts awaiting its next appearance.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/ali-ghaith/palestinian-jerusalemites-leading-israelis-towards-normalisation">Palestinian Jerusalemites leading Israelis towards normalisation </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/politics-of-education-in-east-jerusalem-0">The politics of education in East Jerusalem</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Ali Ghaith Fri, 30 Nov 2018 09:30:48 +0000 Ali Ghaith 120761 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The ‘Soyas’: Egypt’s car park mafias https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/The-Soyas-of-Egypt-car-park-mafias <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Soyas are parking attendants, mostly unlicensed and often aggressive towards drivers</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-35709208_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/563417/PA-35709208_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image: Matthias Toedt/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Of the <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/270451/Egypt/Politics-/-million-licensed-vehicles-in-Egypt-CAPMAS.aspx">9.4 million licensed vehicles</a> roaming the streets of Egypt, 2.5 million are in Cairo and Giza alone, according to Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). With these cars crowding the already bustling streets of Cairo, and the impossibility of finding a decent parking lot, a new phenomenon has spread like a cancer from Cairo to Alexandria: the ‘Soyas.</p><p dir="ltr">The Soyas are parking attendants, mostly unlicensed and often aggressive towards drivers simply looking for a place to park their cars. The Soyas have turned into a parking mafia, seizing unclaimed parking areas and forcing parking fees on drivers.</p><p dir="ltr">No sensible person would argue with a “Sayes” [singular of Soyas], because their reaction would be unpredictable at best. Were someone to challenge the might of a Sayes by refusing to pay a fee or not committing to the time slot they had been allocated, a threat would be meted out. A typical warning sign would be a small scratch on the car. Female drivers in particular would steer clear of any confrontation with a Sayes so as to avoid any ‘inconvenience’ in the street. Still, on a lucky day a driver might be able to sneak out of the parking lot without paying the Sayes.</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">No sensible person would argue with a “Sayes”, because their reaction would be unpredictable</p><p dir="ltr">One of the most striking elements about the Soyas phenomenon is that it is happening right under the nose of the state and their enforcers, the police. Interviews conducted for this article confirmed that in many cases the Soyas are operating unlicensed and claim ownership of the land they grabbed.</p><p dir="ltr">Heba Hamed, a designer from Cairo, said she might pay up to three different Soyas a day: one near her work, another near her gym, and a third if she decides to go out for dinner. On average, she pays 25 EGP to what she called the “thugs” of the streets. She added that she had received threats of damage to her car if she refused to pay the parking fees.</p><p dir="ltr">Mariam Amr, also from Cairo, said she is forced to pay 200 EGP a month to her Sayes, Ahmed, who works in the car park next to her work. Her alternative is to roam for hours in her car looking for another parking space.</p><p dir="ltr">This is the other side of the story: there are people who are actually in need of the services of the Soyas, and prefer to pay someone to take care of their car instead of waiting for hours for a free parking space.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Honour among thieves</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Ahmed, the Sayes, said he inherited his profession from his father who owned a legal permit to be a guard in the area where he is currently working.</p><p dir="ltr">This permit had expired a while ago, he said. Despite this, Ahmed not only continues to work in the same area as if he owns it, but has actually expanded into new territory. He has also never been arrested, or even investigated, for his actions despite not having a permit and not paying a penny to the government for the land he took by force.</p><p dir="ltr">Like a mafia, the Soyas have their own code of honour and ethics: a Sayes cannot take over a parking space from another Sayes. In the event that this happens, a squad of Soyas would drive out the offending Sayes. Ahmed said that some of the Soyas he knows working at the moment have criminal records.</p><p class="mag-quote-right" dir="ltr">On the banks of Nile in a posher part of Cairo, the Soyas charge more but behave just as badly</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Location, location, location</strong></p><p>On the banks of Nile in a posher part of Cairo, the Soyas charge more but behave just as badly, threatening and harassing their customers if they delay their payments or do not have enough change.</p><p>In these areas, the Soyas have cut a deal with the local municipality to pay around 3,000 EGP for the parking spots they want. The municipality in turn is supposed to hand them tickets that they should use to fine drivers. This is meant to regulate the Soyas, but in reality does nothing of the kind as the ticketing system is ignored and the Soyas continue working according to their old ways.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Who to turn to?</strong></p><p>In an attempt to deal with the problem, the Egyptian parliament passed a <a href="https://egyptindependent.com/egypt-parliament-approves-law-regulating-work-of-parking-attendants/">law</a> was to regulate the activity of parking attendants. The law sets a number of conditions for a candidate to be eligible to be a licensed Sayes, including being above 21-years-old, literate, possess a driving licence, and pass a drug test. Even these most basic of requirements would put the majority of Soyas working at the moment out of a job.</p><p>The law also required each governorate to set up a committee to oversee parking lots and issue regulations to govern the scope of the Soyas’ work. The committee would identify areas in need of Soyas, determine their working hours, and a set the maximum fee that can imposed on drivers. A penalty of six months in prison and a 5,000 EGP fine would be handed down to any Sayes working outside the supervision of the committee.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2017, the traffic police also announced that anyone harassed by a Sayes could complain to their special hotline. The hotline was responsive, and callers are ensured that the traffic police usually send the nearest police officer to an area with a dispute between a driver and a Sayes, whether they are licensed or unlicensed. But this only underscores that the police are aware that there are still unlicensed Soyas in the streets.</p><p dir="ltr">Egypt’s notorious lack of political <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/political-efficacy">efficacy</a> discourages even the most annoyed of complainants of attempting to step forward and report harassers, knowing the response will be slow if they are lucky, and non-existent if they are not. The laws and the hotlines have thus had a limited impact on the ground.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Thinking long-term, not legally</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In an <a href="http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/315257/Egypt/Politics-/Dictators-of-the-streets-The-parking-attendants-Eg.aspx">interview with Al Ahram English</a>, Samia Khedr, a sociology professor at Ain Shams University, emphasised that the reason behind Soyas phenomenon was the chaos in Egypt’s streets.&nbsp;Khedr believes that the law alone will not be able to solve the roots of the problem.</p><p dir="ltr">She emphasized that better urban planning was key to any solution, including putting in place a spatial justice policy that would prevent people from monopolizing unclaimed areas, whether by Soyas or others.</p><p dir="ltr">Khedr also suggested local administrations stop granting building licenses to residential towers with insufficient parking spaces, and that the same should go for shops, banks, and cafes in residential neighbourhoods. </p><p>According to <a href="http://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/54517/Cairo-to-establish-smart-parking-lots-to-reduce-traffic-congestion">Egypt Today</a> a Cairo governorate has already started work on implementing smart, multi-story parking lots that can hold a large number of cars in a bid to solve Cairo’s chaotic and congested traffic, as well the Soyas phenomenon.</p><p dir="ltr">Efforts should also be made to reduce the rate of unemployment in neglected governorates in Egypt and implement development projects to reduce poverty and migration rates.</p><p dir="ltr">In Egypt, many unauthorised activities take place, and there is always a gap between the de facto and the de jure. The notion of making money from what is not yours is becoming increasingly widespread in Egypt, especially in the streets, where the survival of the fittest governs. The Soyas phenomena, however, should not be normalised.</p><p dir="ltr"><br class="kix-line-break" /><br class="kix-line-break" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia Middle East Forum North-Africa West-Asia Farah Hallaba Sun, 25 Nov 2018 09:46:10 +0000 Farah Hallaba 120700 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rethinking resistance in post-uprisings Egypt https://www.opendemocracy.net/nadim-mirshak/rethinking-resistance-in-post-uprisings-egypt <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There is a dynamic relationship between authoritarianism and resistance, whereby authoritarianism is never absolute, but always challenged through multiple ways that do not solely revolve around contentious politics.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" alt="open Movements" width="460px" /></a><br /><b>The <i><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements">openMovements</a></i> series invites leading social scientists to share their research results and perspectives on contemporary social struggles.</b></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35814004.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/PA-35814004.jpg" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Celebrating in Tahrir Square after re-election of President al-Sisi for a second four-year term, April 2,2018. NurPhoto/Press Association. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>Egypt has been undergoing a tumultuous transformation process triggered by the 2011 uprisings. This process witnessed the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi become Egypt’s first elected civilian president in 2012, only to be ousted a year later by the military. This paved the way for Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to become president in 2014, whose repression has arguably surpassed that experienced under Mubarak. Media outlets are tightly controlled, critical journalists and activists are prosecuted, and Egyptian civil society is repressed. Ominously, al-Sisi has recently and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/02/egypt-abdel-fatah-al-sisi-sworn-in-second-term-amid-crackdown-on-dissent">overwhelmingly secured a second presidential term</a> under conditions described as hardly free, with candidates forced to drop out and others detained by the security forces. </p> <p>Unsurprisingly, as a result of such resilient authoritarianism, the optimism that once defined the Egyptian uprisings has been dashed. Nonetheless, only focusing on authoritarian resilience in post-uprisings Egypt, particularly under al-Sisi’s rule, hinders our abilities to account for civil society organisations (CSOs) and social movements that are relentlessly trying to negotiate this terrain of contestation by locating alternative means of resisting authoritarianism. These methods of resistance are at times ‘hidden’ and do not adhere to conventional methods of resistance such as those of direct political action (e.g. protests, strikes, sit-ins, etc.)</p> <h2><strong>Alternative methods</strong></h2> <p>Such visible and overt examples of resistance found under contentious politics have become more liable to attract the state’s attention and subsequent repression, therefore making them less feasible in instigating social change at least under the existing conditions. Accordingly, we must alter our understandings of authoritarianism and resistance in post-uprisings Egypt by analysing the various methods used by Egyptian state to subdue CSOs, and importantly, the alternative methods of resistance adopted by CSOs to challenge such restrictions. This is important, as solely focusing on authoritarianism risks perpetuating a one-sided perspective and implies an uncontested authoritarian rule. It fails to broaden our understandings of ‘resistance’.</p> <h2><strong>A long civil society history</strong></h2> <p>Egyptian civil society has a long history of a variety of organisations such as religious (mainly Islamist) organisations, business associations, labour unions and movements, service-oriented NGOs, advocacy groups (such as human rights, women’s movements, corruption watchdogs), as well as political parties and informal social and community-based groups. What all these organisations have in common is their suppression by the Egyptian state which limits their abilities to get established, get funded, perform their day-to-day activities, and build grassroots presence within communities across Egypt. Moreover, CSOs, particularly political parties, have lacked wide societal support, have been entangled in inter and intra organisational rivalries, and at times have also become co-opted by the Egyptian state to neutralise the radical oppositional elements existing within them. </p> <p>Due to the historical weakness of Egyptian oppositional political parties, many advocacy NGOs, associations and community-based movements have attempted to fill this vacuum by assuming more oppositional and political roles, making them key players within civil society. So we need to look at civil society more broadly and consider the different forms of opposition which include, but are not limited to social movements, advocacy groups, rights-based organisations, educational NGOs, unregistered initiatives, and political parties. I would argue that in order to better understand authoritarianism and civil society resistance, we must also view them both as interconnected and engaged in contestation across various fronts of politics. This proliferation of the sources of contestation is made possible by the diversity of the violent and non-violent methods employed by the Egyptian state to supress CSOs, as well as the CSOs’ abilities to diversify their methods of resistance in response. We begin by looking at how authoritarianism in Egypt has not gone away, but if anything, has become magnified in its scale. </p> <h2><strong>Authoritarianism in post-uprisings Egypt</strong></h2> <p>I differentiate between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ repression to signify the challenges facing Egyptian civil society. It is important to note that these repressive methods adopted by the Egyptian state should be viewed as existing on a continuum, ranging from soft (e.g. legal and bureaucratic restrictions) to hard (e.g. arrests and violent crackdowns). Nonetheless, this differentiation only serves explanatory purposes as it does not suggest in any way that these methods of repression are mutually exclusive. In other words, their separation is not clear-cut and the priority of one method over another depends on the political, economic and social contexts, and on the state security’s involvement in the CSOs’ day-to-day activities.</p> <p>Soft repression mainly utilises legal, bureaucratic and funding restrictions to control CSOs. This approach is prominent as it depends on a legal façade which is frequently vaguely worded and constraining, justifying the shutting down of CSOs on the premise of them “breaking the law”. Such bureaucratic and legal restrictions are central in regulating how CSOs are established, and how they function and obtain funding. Until recently, law 84/2002 regulated Egyptian civil society, and accordingly has been consistently criticised for its ambiguous language that enabled the state to selectively and arbitrarily impose it. This permitted the state to control an organisation’s funding, prohibit it engaging in any political activities, block certain individuals from competing in board elections, and even shut down CSOs whilst freezing their assets without judicial order.</p> <p>To further constrain Egyptian civil society, law 70/2017 has been recently approved by al-Sisi and which in effect has replaced law 84/2002. This law similarly imposes harsh restrictions and has been heavily criticised by <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/05/egypt-ngo-law-threatens-to-annihilate-human-rights-groups/">Amnesty International</a>, as it offers organisations only one year to comply, or risk dissolution. Similarly to law 84/2002, it provides authorities with wide powers to dissolve NGOs, dismiss their board of administration, and subjects staff and volunteers to criminal prosecution. The penalties for non-compliance range from one to five years in prison, in addition to a fine ranging from 50,000 to one million Egyptian pounds (around 55,800 US dollars). Unsurprisingly, <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/02/egypt-new-law-will-crush-civil-society">Human Rights Watch</a> warns that this law ‘eliminates a path for Egyptian citizens to peacefully express dissent, and access human development initiatives at a time of economic hardship’.</p> <p>These legal restrictions are heavily interlinked with funding as they can restrict an organisation’s access to funding, especially foreign funding. CSOs are required to gain prior approval from the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS). These approvals can be selective and highly dependent on the backgrounds of CSO founders and their perceived threats to national security. What makes such funding restrictions perilous is how they are usually utilised to condemn oppositional organisations by equating foreign funding with harming national interests, and how they also seek to financially stifle CSOs. In short, funding restrictions comprise a serious challenge facing Egyptian CSOs, which have pushed some to employ innovative methods of accessing alternative funding as we will explore later.</p> <h2><strong>Harsh repression</strong></h2> <p>Under hard repression, the security apparatus’s degree of involvement in civil society takes more direct forms. The expectation of getting arrested and having CSOs shutdown comprised, and still arguably does, a major concern for many CSO members. During my fieldwork, the <a href="https://eipr.org/en/press/2014/05/security-forces-raid-egyptian-center-economic-and-social-rights-alexandria-branch-and">Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)</a> was targeted by the security forces, and their offices raided and a number of their members arrested. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) was also targeted, its head banned from travelling abroad, and was forced to <a href="https://cihrs.org/after-20-years-cihrs-moves-its-regional-and-international-programs-outside-egypt/?lang=en">relocate its international programs</a> outside of Egypt, cancelling its <a href="https://cihrs.org/after-22-years-cihrs-for-the-first-time-cancels-annual-summer-school-on-human-rights/?lang=en">annual human rights summer school</a>.</p> <p>In the following three years and leading to the 2018 presidential elections, the situation has become increasingly challenging. In the aftermath of al-Sisi securing a second presidential term, the crackdown on civil society intensified with the arrests of <a href="https://madamasr.com/en/2018/05/15/news/u/activist-shady-al-ghazaly-harb-brought-before-supreme-state-security-prosecution/">activists, bloggers</a>, journalists and <a href="https://madamasr.com/en/2018/05/18/news/politics/labor-lawyer-haytham-mohamadeen-arrested-from-his-house/">human rights defenders</a>. This repression is mostly directed against CSOs and activists that go against the accepted discourses and activities promulgated by the Egyptian state, whereby under such contexts, any independent or critical initiatives are viewed with suspicion. CSOs have faced, and will surely carry on facing, a host of repressive challenges that will force them either to stop working ‘so as to protect ourselves and each other’ as one activist put it, <em>or</em> find ways to adapt their strategies to survive and function under the existing conditions.</p> <h2><strong>Challenging authoritarianism?</strong></h2> <p>Since it has become challenging for the Egyptian opposition to solely utilise contentious politics as means of resistance, CSOs have sought other avenues of resistance that are accessible even in authoritarian contexts if you look for them. These comprise legal resistance through the formation of CSOs, financial resistance, and building alliances. </p> <p>These methods do not necessarily adhere to conventional methods of resistance associated with direct political action. However, they enable CSOs potentially to overcome the state’s restrictions across multiple fronts relating to their establishment, funding and day-to-day activities. These practices are part of a wider movement of resistance capable of challenging the strict restrictions in place to hinder CSOs, whereby efforts exerted to overcome this (even through legal means) become viable acts of resistance in their own right. </p> <p>Registering and functioning as non-profits or law firms confers two advantages. Firstly, organisations registering as non-profits do not have to register with the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MoSS) and therefore do not have to face many of the restrictions imposed by law 84/2002 (and now law 70/2017). There are more opportunities for them to engage in political activity which is otherwise banned under the aforementioned laws. Secondly, registering as law firms enables organisations to offer legal services, and engage in activities such as research, publishing and media work. Moreover, it provides more flexibility to engage in advocacy activities.</p> <p>Nonetheless, these examples should not imply that non-profit organisations and law firms can be completely free from state interference. As I highlighted above, rights-based organisations that are registered as law firms can still face crackdowns from state security. Additionally, under law 70/2017, there is a requirement for organisations to register “correctly” with the MoSS, therefore potentially further limiting such opportunities to bypass restrictions on getting established. </p> <p>Functioning as an unregistered initiative is another method of resistance in the process of formation. Since these initiatives are unregistered, they can either work underground or can be incubated by larger organisations. According to a member of one educational initiative I interviewed, such initiatives are more difficult for the state to monitor and control as they have the flexibility to move around without attracting attention.</p> <p>To move around without hindrance can provide opportunities to function and survive under the current repressive context. Having no registered headquarters makes it more challenging for the state and its security apparatus to intimidate initiatives as they can appear invisible. As a member of one such initiative contends, ‘the government does not feel all these initiatives and all this movement happening now. It thinks they are invisible…It is like they are blind, and of course this is resistance’. These can certainly offer a space for CSOs to function without attracting attention. </p> <p>Yet it is important to note that this invisibility is not and cannot be absolute, especially if they have to collaborate with other organisations and movements to instigate substantial changes. This will eventually imply that their invisibility will become less tenable, and if it is somehow maintained but without joining a broader movement, then their influence could be limited. To summarise, the examples outlined here offer CSOs an alternative route for getting established even if they are not necessarily completely free from state interference.</p> <h2><strong>Competition for funding</strong></h2> <p>Being under the prerogative of strict financial restrictions limits an organisation’s activities and outreach, and encourages the fragmentation of civil society by encouraging competition for funding. To deal with these restrictions, some CSOs have utilised crowdfunding as a potential solution. Crowdfunding should be considered as an alternative method of funding that can enable CSOs to bypass state restrictions. It also involves the wider public and stakeholders and helps CSOs obtain local independent funding. One prominent example is a boardgame developed by an educational organisation that teaches young adults, in a critical manner, about Egypt’s diverse history, geography and culture. This game predominantly relied on crowdfunding to help raise the required funds, enabling developers to donate free games to community centres and schools across Egypt.</p> <p>Crowdfunding mostly depends on dedicated facilitating organisations (such as <a href="http://www.madad.com.eg/en/about-mission/">Madad</a>, <a href="http://shekra.com/en/">Shekra</a>, <a href="https://www.indiegogo.com/">Indiegogo</a> and others) that facilitate this process by providing online platforms for CSOs to showcase their projects, and get funded by members of the public. Importantly, crowdfunding enables less-established CSOs to obtain funds and reach out to the wider community, and arguably decreases the chances of funding bodies interfering in deciding how their money is spent. For a senior member of a crowdfunding facilitator, crowdfunding can weaken the state’s firm control over funding through empowering organisations to depend on their collective power.</p> <p>Nonetheless, crowdfunding does contain a number of limitations which mainly revolve around its dependence on the internet to advertise and collect donations. Overly depending on online communication means risks excluding communities that do not have internet access, afflicts CSOs that work in rural contexts, and alienates funders who cannot pay online. An educational organisation offers a potential method of overcoming this difficulty by using more “offline” ways to obtain funds, such as distributing donation boxes, alongside leaflets that explain their activities and how they will use the money, throughout bookstores and cafes around Cairo. </p> <p>Moreover, the state can restrict crowdfunding as organisations are still legally required to obtain permission before they can collect money publicly. It can also be challenging for explicitly oppositional CSOs to feature on such platforms, particularly under the current political context. In short, despite the above limitations, crowdfunding provides CSOs with an alternative and innovative way to obtain resources, as well as ensuring the community’s involvement in their activities. </p> <h2><strong>Building alliances</strong></h2> <p>CSOs building alliances comprises a third aspect of resistance that is usually downplayed when discussing alternative forms of resistance. Building alliances can help make a CSO’s presence stronger, more sustainable and can aid in overcoming financial and organisational limitations. However, some CSOs have historically found it difficult to cooperate and build alliances due to issues surrounding egoism, competition, as well as the presence of state security informants which could lead to the breakdown in trust between organisations (especially between political parties and rights-based organisations). Another issue concerns their interference in and replication of each other’s work. </p> <p>Despite these hindrances, since the 2011 uprisings, there has been a growing number of CSOs and activists who have been working on establishing alliances through networking. Networking enables CSOs to collaborate and exchange ideas in order to avoid interfering in each other’s work. A prominent example of networking is an initiative which works on bringing people from various political, social and educational backgrounds together in order to build networks comprising educators, activists and CSOs. Networking events can improve the possibilities of organisations not replicating each other’s work, or “stepping on each other’s toes”. They can additionally encourage organisations to know more about each other’s activities, objectives, and the communities they target, therefore enabling them to exchange knowledge, mobilise resources, and even share each other’s networks. </p> <p>Developing networks, sharing knowledge and resources can enable CSOs and activists to build a movement that is coherent, focused and relevant to the struggle for social change. It can also empower this movement through developing a sense of collective understanding that can aid in creating alliances and partnerships that could eventually have numerous political and social implications in post-uprisings Egypt. </p> <p>It is worth noting that building alliances also occurs between political parties and rights-based organisations. These collaborations enable political parties to make use of the rights-based organisations’ research and knowledge-resources as well as their legal services (especially if the organisation is registered as a law firm). </p> <p>As is the case with the previous examples outlined so far, difficulties do arise when building alliances, particularly between political parties and rights-based organisations. For instance, they may not always share similar agendas or priorities. Furthermore, members of rights-based organisations may mistrust parties and therefore refuse to collaborate, insisting that parties are more interested in attaining power than addressing societal issues. Crucially, we should not underestimate how some CSOs may self-police by refusing to collaborate with others deemed to be too “oppositional” and/or “political”.</p> <h2><strong>Resilient authoritarianism, rethinking resistance</strong></h2> <p>Discussions surrounding post-uprisings Egypt have been heavily focused on authoritarian resilience, the failures of the opposition, and the repression of civil society. This narrow perspective has failed to explain many of the political developments taking place in post-uprisings Egypt, even under President al-Sisi’s rule. By outlining how the Egyptian state utilises a continuum of repressive methods ranging from soft to hard, we can consider the various practices employed to repress civil society <em>and</em> the methods used to challenge this. This inevitably implies a dynamic relationship between authoritarianism and resistance, whereby authoritarianism is never absolute, but is always challenged through multiple ways that do not solely revolve around contentious politics.</p> <p>It is crucial that we explore further how CSOs continue to adapt their strategies to survive and function under such challenging conditions, conditions arguably becoming more pressing thanks to al-Sisi’s recent re-election. The methods of contestation discussed here are not always explicitly political or radical, however they still contain the limited means where the state’s legal, bureaucratic and security structures could be challenged. Each method contains its own set of limitations and tensions, yet it is important to note that this does not, and should not, negate the innovative and creative methods utilised by Egyptian CSOs to adapt to the current political context.</p> <p>Finally, to truly help instigate social change, CSOs and movements should first and foremost understand the communities they claim to represent, and crucially, develop close grassroots ties with them that are built on mutual respect. The efforts outlined here are necessarily contingent on how CSOs can translate them into building grassroots ties with a wider society. In other words, such efforts need to be translated into a wider collaborative movement capable of further challenging the Egyptian state’s restrictions and authoritarianism via multiple facets that are <em>inclusive</em> of the people affected. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner-small_1.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements">openMovements</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/linda-herrera-nadim-mirshak/critical-voices-in-critical-times-peter-mayo-on-g">Critical voices in critical times: Peter Mayo on Gramsci, Egypt and critical pedagogy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/simin-fadaee-geoffrey-pleyers/new-repertoire-of-repression-and-how-movements-resist">The new repertoire of repression and how movements resist. Introduction.</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/rui-hou/booming-industry-of-chinese-state-internet-control">The booming industry of Chinese state internet control</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/sarah-pickard/state-control-and-repression-of-dissent-in-britain-through-legislation-and-policing-me">Spies, kettling and repression - how British policing became militarised</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jannis-grimm/policing-research-shifting-tides-for-middle-east-studies-after-arab-spring">Authoritarian Middle East regimes don&#039;t like academics – ask Matthew Hedges</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bilge-yabanci/political-violence-civic-space-and-human-rights-defence-in-era-of-populism-and-authori">Political violence, civic space and human rights defence in the era of populism and authoritarianism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Internet </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Civil society Conflict Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics Internet openmovements Nadim Mirshak Thu, 22 Nov 2018 13:31:27 +0000 Nadim Mirshak 120679 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Authoritarian Middle East regimes don't like academics – ask Matthew Hedges https://www.opendemocracy.net/jannis-grimm/policing-research-shifting-tides-for-middle-east-studies-after-arab-spring <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When the Arab Spring gave way to an autocratic restoration, both newcomers and old hands were in for a rude awakening.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner.jpg" alt="open Movements" width="460px" /></a><br /><b>The <i><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/openmovements">openMovements</a></i> series invites leading social scientists to share their research results and perspectives on contemporary social struggles.</b></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/JANNIS~1.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/JANNIS~1.JPG" alt="lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Giant poster dedicated to Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, located near the Presidential Palace in Abu. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>When the news broke in mid-October that a young British academic was held by Abu Dhabi for his research, <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-46288510">Matthew Hedges</a> had already been imprisoned for over five months. As early as May, Matthew had travelled to the Emirate aiming to conduct interviews for his PhD on civil-military relations in the United Arab Emirates, post-Arab spring. </p> <p>Despite obtaining all the required permits and meeting several officials, he had been arrested and placed in solitary confinement at an undisclosed location. Emirati authorities claimed that his research activities were but a cover for surveillance on behalf of British intelligence and charged him with espionage for a foreign state. </p> <p>Amid the international outcry about the gruesome murder of journalist <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/key-moments-surrounding-the-killing-of-jamal-khashoggi/2018/10/23/756459f4-d6d0-11e8-8384-bcc5492fef49_story.html">Jamal Khashoggi</a> in Istanbul by a Saudi hit squad, this came as yet another shock to those who had thus far viewed the Arab Gulf as an anchor of regional stability.</p> <p>For those studying the region, by contrast, Matthew’s detention hardly came as a surprise. The case of the Durham PhD student exposes the extreme limits on academic freedom in the UAE, but it is not an isolated incident. Instead, it exemplifies a larger authoritarian trend in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that has impacted students of and in the region at an alarming rate. Notably, the shrinking spaces for academic research in and on the Middle East. This trend signals a massive rollback of the auspicious research climate in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring” of 2011.</p> <h2><b>An Arab Spring in social sciences</b></h2> <p>In 2011, the wave of protests in the region caught many social scientists by surprise. Prior to the Arab Spring, studies of Middle East politics had largely centered on structural factors and on political elites. Only a few critical scholars had focused on “<a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies/article/state-analysis-from-below-and-political-dynamics-in-egypt-after-2011/63710CF32F12D728AB725F235BC10F39">politics from below</a>” – and even they had mostly concentrated on modes of contestation below the threshold of public protest which, effectively, was rare in the repressive contexts of the Arab regimes. </p> <p>The sudden emergence of popular coalitions between various social sectors that had been assumed ineffective or apolitical, effectively revealed the blind spots of these analytical frameworks.</p> <p>This turned into an opportunity for many researchers who had paid little attention to the region so far: transitologists eagerly diagnosed the advent of a fourth wave of democratization in the Arab World and North Africa. Movement scholars explored the similarities between the <a href="http://www.sternberg-press.com/?pageId=1604">roundabout revolutions</a> in Bahrain, Cairo, Sanaa and Tunis and the spatial occupations by the Occupy movement and the anti-austerity protesters in Southern Europe. And students of revolutions compared the cross-class and cross-ideological coalitions of the Arab Spring to revolutionary movements in Eastern Europe and Latin America. </p> <p>The revolutions furthermore stirred feelings of solidarity, particularly among young researchers who could identify with the agents of change and their pluralist and emancipatory ideals. As their enthusiasm was matched with new funding opportunities, the Arab Spring created a gold-rush mood that prompted many social scientists to venture into new terrain. This effectively propelled the discipline of Middle East Studies from a niche existence to the centre of political science. </p> <p>However, the newfound interest in the region also impacted the way in which Middle East scholars would henceforth be perceived. Between 2011 and 2013 western policymakers fostered an active exchange with Arab activists and civil society organizations. Researchers often facilitated this process by establishing contacts and supplying roundtables with expertise. In many western capitals, researchers thereby functioned as international multipliers of the protest actors’ voices and contributed to the dissemination of their demands. </p> <p>This cemented the image of Middle East Studies as a partisan discipline that not only sympathized with its research subjects but energetically supported them in their struggle against the old autocratic orders. The fact that part of the Arab Spring literature was authored by MENA newcomers reinforced this impression. </p> <p>In short, countless researchers with little to no experience in the region had parachuted into the post-uprising contexts to interview the Tahrir revolutionaries. This had consequences – including for seasoned scholars who, for years, had treaded lightly to conduct their research despite the authoritarian closure. When the Arab Spring gave way to an autocratic restoration, both newcomers and old hands were in for a rude awakening. <span class="mag-quote-center">When the Arab Spring gave way to an autocratic restoration, both newcomers and old hands were in for a rude awakening. </span></p><h2><b>Researching under the gun</b></h2> <p>Before 2011, authorities in the region largely regarded social scientists as bearable, albeit annoying, interference. Compared to the potential legitimacy costs of arresting and deporting critical (above all, western) scholars, their presence was simply the lesser evil. With few exceptions, most authoritarian powerhouses had furthermore condoned critical scholarship in their countries’ universities as a poster child for the international community. </p> <p>In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, this informal arrangement came to a jarring halt. In most of the countries that had been shaken by mass protests in 2011 (and in their neighbourhood), research on organized non-state actors (opposition parties, critical civil society, social movements, unions) became off-limits – followed by other issues regarded as sensitive, from civil-military relations to corruption to cultural history. </p> <p>In Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq, war and state fragmentation additionally soon complicated field access. By contrast, in Bahrain, Egypt, the Maghreb, the Gulf States and Turkey, scholars moved into the cross-hair of reinvigorated security states that had recovered from their setbacks during the uprisings – and learned from their mistakes. Recognizing researchers’ mediating function and their hand in the dissemination of subaltern knowledge that challenged the new order, these apparatuses began to target academic communities on a new level.</p> <p>We lack comparable <a href="http://siba-ese.unisalento.it/index.php/idps/article/view/17312">systematic data</a> for the violation of academic freedoms in the region. This is partly because affected researchers have an incentive to keep their experiences to themselves, either to avoid losing field access or out of fear of endangering their research participants and interlocutors. The few NGOs that collect data about the repression of researchers are equally hesitant to publish non-aggregated data, as it could contain leads to individual cases and entail repercussions. </p> <p>But even the available evidence paints a stark picture. Today, Middle East researchers routinely suffer from repression by state authorities in the form of intimidation, travel bans, or imprisonment on trumped-up charges; others face denial of entry into specific countries. Among those who have come under fire are also scholars abroad: exiled writers are intimidated by representatives of the regimes they study. Foreign scholars are monitored by Arab diplomatic missions. And scholars based in the region often carefully conceal their itineraries when travelling abroad to avoid repercussions. </p> <p>Consequently, several cities that previously served as intellectual hubs (e.g., Berlin, London) are today shunned by many Middle Eastern academics, due to the watchful eye of Arab security services. <span class="mag-quote-center">In 2016/2017, the UK-based <i>Council for At-Risk Academics</i> <a href="http://www.cara.ngo/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/170912-CARA-AR-Final.pdf">recorded </a>the highest demand for external support for academics since the forced exodus of scholars from Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s – most of them coming from the Middle East and the surrounding region.</span></p> <p>In 2016/2017, the UK-based <i>Council for At-Risk Academics</i> <a href="http://www.cara.ngo/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/170912-CARA-AR-Final.pdf">recorded </a>the highest demand for external support for academics since the forced exodus of scholars from Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s – most of them coming from the Middle East and the surrounding region. Responsible for the rise of weekly applications for help, from 3-4 per week before the 2011 upheavals to 15-20 today, were most notably the persecution of critical scholars by the Syrian regime, the deportation or detention of scholars with ties to Human Rights NGOs or the opposition in Egypt, as well as the suspension and prosecution of researchers after the failed military coup of 2016 in Turkey. </p> <p>Similar tendencies can be identified in <i>Scholars-at-Risk</i>’s “<a href="https://www.scholarsatrisk.org/actions/academic-freedom-monitoring-project/">Academic Freedom Monitor</a>” and the <i>Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack</i>’s yearly “<a href="http://eua2018.protectingeducation.org/">Education under Attack</a>” report. The latter puts a particular emphasis on a total of nine states in the region, identifying Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Palestine, Sudan, Syrian, Turkey and Yemen as hot spots for academic research – not even mentioning the GCC states which barely ever grant access to foreign researchers and have recently detained several scholars on charges of espionage.</p> <h2><b>The symbolism of Giulio Regeni’s murder</b></h2><p>Despite widely shared protest notes, the international reaction to the orchestrated campaigns against vocal academics has been limited – as have been the repercussions for perpetrators. This is true even in the most brutal cases: Giulio Regeni, an Italian researcher of independent unions, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/magazine/giulio-regeni-italian-graduate-student-tortured-murdered-egypt.html">was kidnapped</a> on the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution in January 2016, tortured and killed in Cairo. The murder bears the hallmark of the Egyptian security state but remains unresolved – even more than two years later. </p><p>There was nothing particularly contentious about Regeni’s research. Regarding his institutional affiliations, his personal characteristics, his command of Arabic or his local networks nothing set him apart from most other researchers in Egypt. His research topic, an interview-based study of an independent street vendors union, was sensitive, but not more so than that of many others.<span class="mag-quote-center"> It was precisely because Regeni was so representative for the entire field of Middle East studies that his murder sent such a strong signal. On social scientists, it had its intended effect.</span></p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Jannis Grimm, Poster of the “Verità per Giulio” campaign (httpscdn.rtl_.itRTLFMNewsArticle600x600caso-regeni-roberto-fico-vuole-verita-in-tempi-brevi-rwhje.jpg)_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Jannis Grimm, Poster of the “Verità per Giulio” campaign (httpscdn.rtl_.itRTLFMNewsArticle600x600caso-regeni-roberto-fico-vuole-verita-in-tempi-brevi-rwhje.jpg)_0.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Poster of the “Verità per Giulio” campaign. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Researchers in Cairo at the time were investigating outlawed socialist or Islamist movements, such as <i>April 6</i> or the <i>Muslim Brotherhood</i>; others were researching army massacres or forced disappearances. It was precisely because Regeni was so <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2016/may/13/universities-must-do-more-to-protect-phd-students-working-in-dangerous-countries?CMP=share_btn_tw">representative</a> for the entire field of Middle East studies that his murder sent such a strong signal. On social scientists, it had its intended effect. Their reaction resembled that of scholars in Turkey half a year later, when authorities engaged in a cleansing campaign against alleged sympathizers of the Gülen movement: established researchers hastily left the country or severed ties with their interlocutors, doctoral students across the globe switched their country focus and renowned graduate schools halted projects that involved fieldwork in Egypt. </p> <p>Moreover, the case caused a lack of confidence between many researchers and their research participants. One of Regeni’s interlocutors had denounced him as a foreign spy to the police. The head of a Cairo street vendors union saw it as a “national duty” to report his suspicions to authorities. Who could guarantee that other interlocutors would not follow suit? Almost all trade unions, social movements, and opposition parties researched by social scientists in the region for their role in the Arab Spring are today affected by state repression. After Regeni’s murder, many scholars began to consider the scenario that some of them might collaborate with police in exchange for alleviated restrictions. </p> <p>The international responses were sobering, too. As Egyptian authorities stonewalled the Italian investigations, the yellow press unleashed a fierce <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/03/giulio-regeni-murder-egypt-maha-abdelrahman">defamation campaign</a> against Maha Abdelrahman, Regeni’s PhD supervisor at Cambridge University. There was no suggestion that Abdelrahman was in any way involved in the case. However, Italian magistrates questioned her, seizing her <a href="http://www.ansa.it/english/news/general_news/2018/01/17/shameful-campaign-agst-regeni-tutor_5c828856-7ad6-4616-b59f-ab0106e7a1b8.html">computer and cell phone</a>, and this had a chilling effect on researchers who had thus far counted on the undivided support of their governments and home institutions. It wasn’t long until the unfounded reproach to Abdelrahman turned into a general suspicion. Several media outlets concluded that Middle East researchers were bringing it on themselves by conducting research in this dangerous part of the world. These suspicions unwittingly reified the narrative of many Arab autocrats according to whom the deployment of western scholars to the Arab World represents nothing short of a foreign intervention perpetuating neo-colonial asymmetries. <span class="mag-quote-center">It wasn’t long until the unfounded reproach to Abdelrahman turned into a general suspicion.</span></p> <h2><b>Growing uncertainty and “academic tourism”</b></h2> <p>Paired with the common anecdotes of harassment during fieldwork, smear campaigns and personal threats against friends or research participants, these reactions contributed to a climate of uncertainty. </p> <p>In the relatively small Middle East studies community, it caused a setback in research activities as researchers felt left alone with the changing realities of their work. The <a href="http://gld.gu.se/en/research-projects/saferesearch/">SAFEResearch project</a> for the development of a handbook for safer field research in conflicted environments has gathered the experiences of dozens of scholars on this. Apart from self-protection and the need for better preparation for field research, they reveal that especially the protection of research participants has become challenging in a Middle East where red lines are constantly shifting. Local informants and facilitators – activists, fellow researchers, but also drivers, fixers, translators etc. – are usually affected by state repression already. How can the additional attention be legitimized that <a href="http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/24454/Academic-Tourists-Sight-Seeing-the-Arab-Spring">“academic tourism” </a>from the Global North brings to them? Many researchers admit that, in today’s Middle East, they cannot really guarantee anonymity and adequate protection, given their increasing surveillance by security services.</p> <p>For Middle East Studies institutions, the current authoritarian contraction in the region is applying a litmus test as well. Thus far, their reactions have varied from sheer ignorance to a strategic disregard of the shifting climate, to a downright return to the structuralist comfort zone of those times before the Arab Spring: the advantage of resuming such a bird’s eye view on the region is that scholars do not necessarily have to engage with those very civil society actors that could put them on the spot. </p> <h2><b>Reputable responses</b></h2> <p>Some reputable higher education institutions, by contrast, controlled for the risk that their researchers could be targeted, by imposing an informal embargo on projects in certain countries deemed as too risky. Others at least tightened their fieldwork approval process for their members. The degree of formalization ranges from compulsory research visas for field trips (whose issuance for sensitive projects is highly unlikely in most Arab countries), to an obligation to obtain specific risk insurance (whose policies are all but unaffordable for most public universities), to compulsory risk assessments prior to field researchers. </p> <p>Many researchers have welcomed such a formalization of fieldwork. After all, it has showed that the question of how to make research safer has made it onto the institutional agendas. Particularly field research embargos stem from their realization that there is actually little universities can do to protect their staff in case things go wrong. They are thus first and foremost the visible symptoms of institutions honouring their duty of care. This is also true when senior scholars, for understandable reasons, decide to no longer supervise any projects that could put students in harm’s way. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Jannis Grimm,3 Revolutionary Graffiti from Mohammed Mahmoud Street in Egypt, by Hossam El-Hamalawy (httpswww.flickr.comphotoselhamalawy6300184539).jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/Jannis Grimm,3 Revolutionary Graffiti from Mohammed Mahmoud Street in Egypt, by Hossam El-Hamalawy (httpswww.flickr.comphotoselhamalawy6300184539).jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460"/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Revolutionary Graffiti from Mohammed Mahmoud Street in Egypt, by Hossam El-Hamalawy. Flickr. Some rights reserved. </span></span></span>At the same time, however, the new restrictions on field research have unwittingly contributed to a securitization and juridification of field research. What is more, many of the new constraints on research are helpful in theory – but they put the burden of dealing adequately with risks firmly on the individual researcher. </p><p>In particular, risk assessment requirements have become a fig leaf that, without being accompanied by proper training, is hardly capable of adequately protecting researchers. Such courses are still rare at faculties. Resources, information and training opportunities for proper ways of addressing research-related risk are widely lacking. Mostly, junior researchers still acquire their knowledge on the potential risks of their work by puzzling together bits of advice from their fellow researchers. In the best case, these strategies are field-proven and up to date. In the worst case, they are outdated or even counter-productive, creating a false sense of security. </p> <h2><b>Need for engagement</b></h2> <p>Unlike crisis journalists or NGO workers, social sciences have neglected the risk factor that comes with their research for too long. This is not only true for the Arab world. But it is here where the need for professional engagement with the policing of researchers is currently most evident, and where the effect of a repressed academia is so stark. </p> <p>As the region is turning into a particularly inhospitable place for critical inquiry, many researchers who had just discovered the Middle East for their work are already turning way. Lacking solid institutional support in dealing with the tougher fieldwork conditions, unsurprisingly, also many seasoned scholars are directing their attention to other parts of the world where they are facing fewer risks. Individually, this shift of priorities is reasonable. For Middle East Studies as a discipline, however, it is detrimental. Not only because it risks sliding back into its pre-Arab Spring niche existence. But first and foremost, because the remaining Middle East scholars in the region will be left to fight their uphill battle alone.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/openmovements-banner-small_1.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p>More from the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-partnerships/openmovements">openMovements</a> partnership.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/simin-fadaee-geoffrey-pleyers/new-repertoire-of-repression-and-how-movements-resist">The new repertoire of repression and how movements resist. Introduction.</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/rui-hou/booming-industry-of-chinese-state-internet-control">The booming industry of Chinese state internet control</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sarah-pickard/state-control-and-repression-of-dissent-in-britain-through-legislation-and-policing-me">Spies, kettling and repression - how British policing became militarised</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bilge-yabanci/political-violence-civic-space-and-human-rights-defence-in-era-of-populism-and-authori">Political violence, civic space and human rights defence in the era of populism and authoritarianism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/gilbert-achcar/shame-on-those-who-try-to-justify-giulio-regeni-s-assassination">Shame on those who try to justify Giulio Regeni’s assassination</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Civil society Conflict Democracy and government International politics Middle East openmovements Jannis Grimm Thu, 22 Nov 2018 12:26:29 +0000 Jannis Grimm 120672 at https://www.opendemocracy.net