[This is a monthly roundup of news articles and other materials circulating on Resistance, Subversion, and Social Mobilization in the Arab world and reflects a wide variety of opinions. It does not reflect the views of the DARS Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each monthly roundup to DARS@jadaliyya.com.]
Israelis restart Netanyahu protests amid third virus lockdown, Al Jazeera (10 January 2021)
Thousands of people demonstrated against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on the long-serving leader to resign over corruption charges against him and his alleged mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. He has in recent months faced near-weekly protests, as his trial was postponed indefinitely amid the tighter restrictions.
‘The system must go': Protests rage for fifth day in Tunisia against economic woes, Middle East Eye (19 January, 2021)
A growing number of mainly young Tunisians, frustrated by unemployment, was protesting daily against the failing measures of their government. The protests have led to violent clashes with police and military forces, especially in poor, densely populated districts where trust in the police is already lacking. The nightly actions of young people have been matched by growing daytime protests. Rights groups saying at least 1,000 people have been arrested.
Western Sahara rebels attack Morocco’s Guerguerat border, Al Jazeera (24 January, 2021)
Western Sahara’s pro-independence Polisario Front has bombarded the Guerguerat buffer zone under Moroccan control in the far south of the desert territory. Morocco launched a military operation in Guerguerat last year, leading the Polisario to declare the 1991 ceasefire null and void. The two sides are reported to have since exchanged regular fire along the demarcation line.
Lebanon protesters torch government building after demonstrator killed, Middle East Monitor (January 29, 2021)
Protesters in Lebanon torched a government building after a man was killed in clashes with security forces. The victim was shot in the back with live ammunition during protests in the northern city of Tripoli. Protesters returned to the streets the week before over a national lockdown which has worsened the already dire economic situation and prevented many from working.
Arabs in Israel protest against crime, police collusion, Middle East Monitor (January 30, 2021)
Hundreds of Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel took to the streets to protest against violence, crime, and police collusion with criminal gangs. This was the third Friday that protests had been organised. The Israeli police attacked the demonstrators. Several Arab-majority cities and neighbourhoods in Israel witnessed demonstrations against Israeli police complicity in fighting crime and violence.
Opinion and Commentary
The history of the Middle East, and the recent teachings of the 2010-11 uprisings, highlight an important lesson: Ignore ecological integrity at your peril, Middle East Eye (1 January, 2021)
Where Tunis is now, there used to be Carthage, whose ability to grow in abundance was equated with security, political institutionalisation and trade. The Romans made the mistake of exhausting its soils to the ecological limits. The Arab Spring was fueled by increasing bread prices due to an insufficient and unsustainable agriculture in Arab countries. 2010 and 2020 have that in common: They warned us of the impending consequences of our inattention to life and complexity.
The Arab Spring's foreign spoilers, Middle East Eye (4 January 2021)
From the very beginning, foreign powers – regional and international alike – interacted with domestic forces and played a major role in stifling the popular uprisings. It was the combination of the most powerful states in the world prioritizing geopolitical interests over support for Arab protesters and the hegemonic ambitions of the most influential regional players, that contributed to the failure of the 2011 uprisings in most cases and are continuing to do so.
The Arab world must avoid another lost decade, Al Jazeera (14 January, 2021)
Ten years after the most significant shift in a century, nothing is resolved in the MENA region. To avoid another lost decade, states should build on the energy of their young population by means of education and health, while creating job opportunities through liberalization. Without a sweeping change in trajectory, there will likely be another lost decade in the MENA region.
Secular liberals destroyed the Arab uprisings. Don't let it happen again, Middle East Eye (14 January 2021)
Besides the dictators and their western sponsors, secular Arab liberals have been the most reactionary anti-democratic force in Arab politics in the last three decades. What doomed the outcome of the “Arab Spring” was the liberal, middle-class leadership of the uprisings, secular and Islamist alike, who demanded only political and civil, but not economic, rights.
Ten years after the revolution, Tunisia's president is polarising the country, Middle East Eye (15 January 2021)
A stable, secure and prosperous Tunisia is still out of reach, with some feeling that they are not yet ready to live in a democracy. Meanwhile, tensions between President Saied, the Prime Minister and the Parliament have risen over the division of power. Saied has apparently started to form a new alliance to stand against the prime minister and the speaker of Parliament, involving remnants or supporters of the ousted regime of Ben Ali
Decade after revolution, Tunisia’s women face uphill battle, Al Jazeera (17 January, 2021)
After securing historic gains, the political engagement and representation of Tunisian women is now waning alarmingly. Many younger women do not see themselves as being represented by any of the parties in parliament today. Beyond the reluctance of political parties to include women on their electoral lists, the patriarchal and misogynistic nature of Tunisia’s political sphere also plays it part, along with the continued instrumentalisation of women in politics by parties across the ideological spectrum.
Tunisia: This wave of violence is a political uprising, Middle East Eye (21 January 2021)
Exactly ten years after the 2011 revolution, Tunisia has seen the resurgence of mass protests in working class areas. If government hoped to avoid the commemoration becoming a spark by imposing a four-day nationwide lockdown, they clearly failed as a wave of nocturnal violence spread through the majority of towns nationwide. Caused by starvation, these demonstrations underline the failure of the government and NGOs.
Israeli interpretation on the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring, Middle East Monitor (22 January 2021)
After a decade, Israel does not prefer the fall of Arab regimes or the outbreak of civil wars, but instead, it seeks the continuation of stable governments, even if they are dictatorships. In Israel's opinion, the Arab Spring shed light on the growth of non-governmental actors, fighting without military weapons and the use of advanced technologies. This is what really worries Israel.
From Egypt to the US: Lessons for activists from the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera (24 January, 2021)
In 1965, Alabama activists protested for the right to vote. While they were brutally attacked by the police, this march ended in a significant victory for the African American community in the voting rights battle and it was a parallel situation in Egypt in 2011. Decades later, African Americans are still fighting for their rights and struggling against discrimination and racism. Egyptian and other Middle Eastern activists need to learn that it takes time and persistence to win a war.
Egypt’s suicidal state, Al Jazeera (25 January, 2021)
Many go as far as to blame this seemingly failure of the revolution for Egypt’s subsequent woes and the deterioration of the situation in the country. The revolutionary wave did not succeed in changing the regime, let alone the system. However, it is not so much the Egyptian revolution but the Egyptian state that failed. Egypt had been on a general course of gradual relative decline and decay for decades. Now, the Egyptian state is on a path to total collapse.
Culture and Art
Cartoon: Winds of change, from Arab Spring to winter, Al Jazeera (3 January, 2021)
In the spring, you may be able to put up a fight against the wind. But by the time winter comes, it gets harder and harder to resist. You are tired, confused, and rethinking your whole journey. Still, the winds of change keep blowing, and all we can do is keep trying to change its course in whichever way we can.
Why has Israel banned Jenin, Jenin? It fears the Palestinian narrative, Middle East Monitor (19 January 2021)
The Palestinian documentary Jenin, Jenin is now officially banned in Israel. The movie empowers Palestinians and their accounts of the "Jenin Massacre", committed by Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. For Israel to maintain the current power structure, Jenin, Jenin and other Palestinian attempts at reclaiming history have to be censored, banned and punished. But a Palestinian people with a coherent, collective narrative will stay alive.
How street art influenced Arab spring protests in Egypt, Deutsche Welle (23 January 2021)
It was during the times of the Arab spring that murals, paintings and graffiti emerged on the walls of Egypt's capital city. Protesters could express themselves and counter misrepresentation in local media and shed light on the political dynamics of the time. The murals also exposed the transgressors and advocated rights for victims. They now form part of the collective memory of the revolution.
Turkey’s religious authority denounces ‘evil-eye’ charms, Al Jazeera (23 January, 2021)
The state-run religious authority has caused alarm by proclaiming the use of talismans to ward off “the evil eye” prohibited in Turkey under Islam. The eye-shaped blue glass amulets are a common tradition in Turkey. The majority of the Turkish population disagrees with their prohibition in the name of Allah.
Egypt: Animation artist arrested for video commemorating revolution, Middle East Eye (25 January, 2021)
The arrest of Ashraf Hamdi coincides with the 10th anniversary of Egypt’s 25 January revolution. His videos reflect on social and political issues, as well as on current affairs in Egypt and around the Middle East, in a humorous way. His arrest is a clear indication that Egypt’s clampdown on activists and dissenting voices is still in full force.