Weekly Newsletter

Unrest Sweeps Tunisia

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The youth has now been protesting for weeks in Tunisia, the North African country that historically speaking triggered the 2011 Arab Spring. The agitation of youth that is causing unrest in the country is a direct consequence of the accumulated frustration, the dying beacon of optimism in the future, and the economic hardships that exacerbated due to the COVID-19. As a measure to stop the spread of the virus, the government imposed a strict lockdown throughout the country. But on the 10th anniversary of overthrowing Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former President, the measure backfired. The nightly curfew in Tunisia since October for containing the spread of Coronavirus exacerbated the tensions between government and the youth. Tourism is a key economic sector of Tunisia, which was intensely affected by the pandemic travel restrictions.

The youth has now been protesting for weeks in Tunisia, the North African country that historically speaking triggered the 2011 Arab Spring. The agitation of youth that is causing unrest in the country is a direct consequence of the accumulated frustration, the dying beacon of optimism in the future, and the economic hardships that exacerbated due to the COVID-19. As a measure to stop the spread of the virus, the government imposed a strict lockdown throughout the country. But on the 10th anniversary of overthrowing Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former President, the measure backfired. The nightly curfew in Tunisia since October for containing the spread of Coronavirus exacerbated the tensions between the government and the youth. Tourism is a key economic sector of Tunisia, which was intensely affected by the pandemic travel restrictions.

At the heart of discontent among the young people is the grim economic prospects of the country.   One-third of Tunisian youth is unemployed, while many are resentful at their future which seems to be stagnant. The protestors are carrying the placards with slogans of “Employment is right, not a favor”. The incandescent emotions of the youth sparked the protests nationwide, followed by mass protests, sit-ins, and public demonstrations against the inefficacious policies of the government. The government of President Kais Saied, democratically elected, has been unable to turn around the condition of the country’s economy that is now at the verge of bankruptcy. Ten years later after Arab Spring, a revolution whose slogan was “employment, freedom, and dignity,” Tunisians believe they still have not achieved it.

Abderrahman Lahdhili, the President of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, stated that around 100,000 students drop out of school, out of which 12,000 choose to migrate illegally by taking a risky journey on the overcrowded boats of smugglers to reach Europe. He further said, many of the youngsters who are left in the country end up joining the terrorist organizations. According to the National Institute of Statistics, one-fifth of the country’s population is living below the poverty line. The young people only demand equal economic opportunities and have been expressing their anger and frustration in the system at the social media platforms, as did the Algerian young protestors in 2019.

The protests have spread from the capital of the country, Tunis to the other cities of Kasserine, Monastir, Gafsa, and Sousse. The Tunisian authorities have taken a muscular response against the protestors as the fear that history might repeat in ousting the government of Kais Saied. The government has deployed army at the four hotspots in the country that are using tear gas against the protestors, while the police has arrested hundreds of demonstrators. The Interior Ministry of Tunisia has justified the actions of police as a necessary response “to protect the physical integrity of citizens and public and private goods.” Regardless of the response of the government, the protests are growing in size day after day, and the protests occasionally turn violent. The protestors are clashing with the policies, pelting the municipal buildings and many have also been involved in looting and vandalizing. The unrest has intensified in the districts which are poor and densely populated, and especially where the citizens lack trust in the law enforcement entities.

After 10 years of revolution, it is a bitter reality that the so-called democratic process, which claimed to be inclusive has made the people feel marginalized and excluded from the people’s life. The young people who are today protesting against the government, as those who never experienced the life under a dictatorship, but even after overthrowing Ben Ali’s regime, they are still fighting against the same corrupt system and structure of the government which does not allow them to thrive, or provide the basic services to citizens, especially those who live in marginalized areas. Years later, the government has not brought any reform process, and repressive laws are still in place in many areas. Coming to the streets is the only way left for the youth who want their voices to be heard.

Opposition Leader Aleksei A. Navalny’s Arrest: Mass Pretests in Russia

Russia is under great stress as tens of thousands of protesters occupied the streets of Russia’s Far East, Moscow, Siberia and St. Petersburg in temperatures as low as -50 Celsius (-58 Fahrenheit). The protesters were demanding the release of the jailed opposition leader and Kremlin’s critic, Aleksei A. Navalny, on Saturday in the biggest countrywide confrontation between the Russian authorities and critics of the Kremlin. Mr. Navalny was arrested upon his return from Germany to Moscow. He spent five months in Germany recovering from an alleged severe nerve-agent poisoning that almost killed him. The Russian authorities are claiming that they have arrested Mr. Navalny for violating the parole terms from a suspended sentence he received six years ago, and are seeking to confine him on a yearlong prison term. Whereas, Mr. Navalny is claiming that the charges were made-up and that there is no authenticity in those accusations. Hundreds of people gathered on the Island of Sakhalin, North Japan, and chanted that “Putin is a thief!” It caused tens of thousands of Russian protesters to occupy the streets of Moscow in not more than 12 hours later. The demonstrations show that Mr. Navalny has built a great influence beyond the political and cultural borders of Russia. The protestors assailed the police with snowball as it was trying to deter the protesters. Many protestors kicked and damaged the vehicles of the domestic intelligence agency as well.

The protesters, majority of young Russians, gestured their frustration against long term, what they believ, corruption-plagued political order that President Putin has presided over for two decades. By the early evening of Saturday, the Russian helmeted riots officers dragged, arrested and detained more than 3,100 protestors in 109 cities all across the State. Some of the protestors were also beaten with police sticks and rods. Among the arrested protestors was wife of Mr. Navalny, Yulia, as she posted a photo of herself in police wagon on a social media platform, Instagram. Some of the protestors even attempted to march towards the police station where Mr. Navalny was being kept after the arrest but they were deterred by the armed police officers. Later that day the protests died down by 9pm, but Leonid Volkov, a top aide to Mr. Navalny, announced that there are more protests planned for the next weekend. A report on country’s television called the protests “wave of aggression” and warned the participants of long jails time. The protest is also being called the “biggest day of protests” since 2017. Russia is accusing Western countries for using their embassies in encouraging the protest in support of Mr. Navalny.

Expanding New Relations UAE –Israel

It has been a long journey to make good ties between Israel and UAE. Both the countries took step together, On 13 August 2020, Israel and the UAE signed an agreement mediated by former U.S. President Donald Trump. Under the deal, Israel and the UAE will establish full diplomatic relations, with the UAE becoming the third Arab state, besides Egypt and Jordan, to fully recognize Israel. After multiple meetings between both the country’s representatives the diplomatic relation gets normalized and both countries welcomed to open embassies in their countries for closer ties.

Israeli Foreign minister said that the opening of embassies in Gulf countries will make them steadier and will benefit the region. Eitan Na’eh, a veteran Israeli diplomat, will serve as the head of mission in UAE. On the other side UAE cabinet approves to setup embassy in Tel Aviv a city of Israel. The development came on the same day that the Israel approved the opening of its embassy in Abu Dhabi. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have all agreed to establish ties with Israel in deals brokered in 2020 and a mediator was former U.S. president Donald Trump. Meanwhile the U.S. national security advisor told that the Biden administration will make sure to maintain regional security of Middle East and interconnect all Middle Eastern states.

The opening of the embassy will allow for the bilateral relations between the countries to expand further, said Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. He also praised the UAE decision to open its own embassy. “This is an important decision that will advance the warm ties between countries and between nations. Israel is also expected to open a consulate in Dubai and a relationship office in Rabat, Morocco in the coming days, according to the Foreign Ministry. It already has an operating embassy in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Most of the Muslim nations declared that Israel would only receive “normal” ties in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and an end to the occupation. The peace deal between the UAE and Israel was being declared to cause damage to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA), as the Emirates was considering to gradually eliminate aid to the agency. It was cited as a part of the normalization deal. In 2019, Abu Dhabi granted $51 million to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. The next year only $1 million were sent by the UAE, this shows the UAE concerns towards Palestine. Peace in Palestine will lead to peace in the region and normalizing the relation among all the Middle Eastern states.

 

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