[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.]
“Sudanese protesters demand civilian rule, want army out”, Associated Press (1 October 2021)
On Thursday of last week, thousands gathered in the capital of Khartoum to demand for an exclusively civilian transitional government. Since the toppling of autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Sudan has been ruled by a joint civilian-military government. Protesters claim that the generals in charge are hindering Sudan’s transition to democracy. They also accuse the military of protecting the remnants of al-Bashir’s regime and refusing to bring accountability towards those responsible for the killings of dozens of protesters in June 2019.
“Palestinian prisoners start week of protests against Israel prison restrictions”, Middle East Monitor (4 October 2021)
Yesterday, Palestinian prisoners started a protest against the punitive restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli prison authority. After last month’s prison escape from Gilboa Prison, occupation authorities have increased security on the remaining prisoners. Some of the punitive measures include, raiding cells, transfers, isolation, seperation, attacks on prisoners, and denial of other rights. According to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, dialogue between prisoners and the Israeli Prison Services has been unsuccessful. This Friday, prisoners will decide whether to escalate their protest.
“Lebanon: Anger as MPs refuse to discuss women’s quota proposal for 2022 elections”, Middle East Eye (8 October 2021)
MP for Lebanon’s Amal Party, Inaya Ezzedine, walks out of a joint parliamentary committee session after her colleagues refuse to address her proposal to introduce a women’s quota for next year’s general elections. The bill calls for 26 out of 128 parliamentary seats to be reserved for women, with at least 40 percent of both men and women on candidates lists. Lebanese women have long been excluded from the political sphere in Lebanon, with only three to six women ever being elected in Lebanon’s past five parliamentary elections.
“Iraq elections 2021: Shia parties reject results as armed group threatens violence”, Middle East Eye (12 October 2021)
After the results of Sunday’s parliamentary elections were announced, various Shia parties claimed that the outcomes were “fabricated”. One armed militia faction appears to have gone as far as to threaten violence in response to the results. In Iraq’s lowest recorded election turnout, the Sairoun movement led by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr came out ahead with 72 of the parliament's 329 seats. Meanwhile, the Fatah coalition, previously the second-largest party in the parliament, lost a significant amount of their seats and the Huqoq party only gained one. On Monday, a meeting was held at the home of Nouri al-Maliki, former prime minister and leader of the State of Law bloc, where the leaders of the Shia political forces and the leaders of the Iran-backed armed factions discussed their next step.
On Thursday, hundreds of supporters of the Hezbollah and Amal party called for the removal of Tarek Bitar, the judge who is leading an investigation into the deadly explosion that happened at Beirut’s port last August. As protesters were marching towards the capital’s Palace of Justice, shots were fired at them by snipers on rooftops. Violence escalated even further when masked gunmen, apparently affiliated with the demonstrators, fired RPGs and AK-47s from the ground. According to the Lebanese Red Cross, six people were killed and more than 30 people were injured. Hezbollah and Amal have accused the right-wing Christian party The Lebanese Forces of the attacks. After denying the accusations, The Lebanese Forces blamed the violence on “widespread weapons”, an allusion to Hezbollah’s arms.
“Tunisia’s #MeToo: Landmark sexual harassment case kicks off”, Al Jazeera (29 October 2021)
This week, a high-profile figure faced prosecution for alleged sexual wrongdoing for the first time in Tunisian history. In 2019, a schoolgirl captured and shared a photo of parliament member Zouhair Makhlouf, allegedly performing a sexual act in his car outside her high school. The case then became a catalyst that prompted thousands of Tunisians to share their personal experiences of sexual assault and harassment online in 2019. This week, feminist activists held a small protest outside the court in Nabuel, chanting and waving placards that read “My body is not a public space”. Moreover, the #EnaZeda Facebook page currently has more than 90,000 likes, and is updated daily. Makhlouf insists that the photo is a misunderstanding and that he is innocent of sexual harassment.
“Rising resistance in the West Bank increases Israeli concerns”, Middle East Monitor (4 October 2021)
Recent armed attacks in the West Bank are increasingly concerning Israel with what they believe to be an awakening of Palestinan resistance cells. As a response to Hamas’ new military infrastructure in the West Bank, Israel has pushed to improve their intelligence work. This suggests that Israel’s campaign efforts to strike the long-standing infrastructure of resistance forces in Jerusalem and Jenin were not completely successful. Moreover, it has become clear that Hamas is seeking to establish an active armed infrastructure in the West Bank. They intend to “lure the army into intensive activity in the heart of the main localities in the territories, and thus embarrass the Palestinian Authority and its security apparatus as collaborators with Israel.”
Iraq’s early elections merly reshuffled the old ruling elite. Despite the fact that protesters called for substantial “change” within the government, low turnout at the polls resulted in electoral gains for the ruling parties that could mobilize their bases to vote. Old fractious power-sharing methods are expected to continue in the newly elected parliament, allowing party interests to prevail over national interest. In order to bolster trust and transparency in Iraq’s future elections, there needs to be technical improvements to the voting machines and the entry of new “outsiders” into the political game. Until the government can foster trust in Iraq’s voting system, young protesters will continue to favor street protests over voting.
“Beirut violence shows that Taif Agreement is dead”, Arab News (18 October 2021)
Last week’s violence that was allegedly initiated by Maronite Christian militia and then retaliated by armed supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, was a cold reminder of Lebanon’s sectarian fault lines. Central to the violence is the investigation into the Beirut blast, which has already resulted in the removal of judge Fadi Sawwan. Similarly, judge Tarik Bitar has been accused of bias, halting all proceedings and efforts to hold those responsible of the blast accountable. Lebanon’s 15-year civil war ended in the signing of the Taif Agreement, which secured “mutual coexistence” and power sharing amongst the country’s religious groups. However, the agreement inadvertently reinforced the separation between different communities, fostering separation instead of unity. And as last week’s violence shows, Lebanon is arguably just as divided and unstable as it was three decades ago. The escalation in itself is indicative of Lebanon’s weak government, absence of any form of social justice, and confessional militia who serve the interest of their community at the expense of the country.
“Hunger strikes from Gandhi to Al-Singace are the last resort in the struggle for freedom”, Middle East Monitor (26 October 2021)
Hunger strikes are usually used as a last resort to claim rights, express opinions or as defense. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is well-known for using his hunger strike to demand for civil and human rights, and the independence of his country from British occupation. This phenomenon has been growing in prisons wherein detainees face injustices that impact their hygiene, health care, food, personal property, treatment, and space. The first Palestinian hunger strike took place in Nablus Prision in early 1968. Less than a year after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began, prisoners went on a three-day hunger strike to protest against abuse, and to demand for an improvement in their living conditions. Much international attention has recently been shifted towards prominent political prisoner Dr Aduljalil Al-Singace, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 100 days in Bahrain. His demands include the return of his book about Bahraini dialects and their historical development. Many voices, including the European Parliament and several national parliaments in Europe have called for his release without success.
“The Sudanese Coup”, Middle East Monitor (26 October 2021)
Yesturday, Sudan’s military seized power and arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Known for his stubbornness and principle, Hamdok refused to compromise and surrender to the military, leading to his arrest. However, this is not the first time, since Sudan’s independence, that the military overthrew civilians. Sudan has a long history of successful military coups led by Ibrahim Abboud, Jaafar Nimeiry, Omar Al-Bashir, and Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan, and an even longer list of failed coups led by Ismail Kabeida, Hashem Al-Atta, Hassan Hussein, Mahmoud Nour Saad, Abdul-Kader al-Kadro and Mohammad Osman, Ahmed Khaled, and Hashem Abdel-Muttalib. Although it is clear the military is in control, it does not seem likely that matters will play to their favour.
“Iraqis vote for new parliament amid tight security”, Al Jazeera (10 October 2021)
Although authorities called for early elections in response to the uprisings that took place in late 2019, many of the demonstrators who took part in the protests boycotted the polls on Sunday. As a result of the death of more than 600 people during the protests and a series of kidnappings and targeted assassinations, many were discouraged from participating in the elections. Despite all this, the collection of pictures show Iraqis taking part in this year's elections as security forces stand guard outside the polling stations. This is the first year since the fall of Saddam to take place without a curfew. It is also the first time Iraq introduces biometric cards for voters, and a new election law that divides Iraq into smaller constituencies.
“Simsimiyya: Songs of resistance from Suez to Gaza”, Mondoweiss (11 October 2021)
During England’s occupation of the city of Suez and Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip and Sinai, music played a fundamental role in bolstering popular resistance. Songs of resistance, such as Simsimiyya, instilled feelings of hope and determination in the hearts of the displaced people of Suez. As part of his collection of resistance songs from around the Arab world, Haidar Eid performs Simsimiyya while giving it a Gazan flavor. The song “celebrates the ‘heroism of refugees, students, workers,’ and all other social strata of the population, promising to ‘replant the field of barley that were burnt by the bombs of the aggressors.’”
“Palestine underground: A new face for local radio”, Al Jazeera (20 October 2021)
Radio Alhara is a Palestine-based online radio station that has become one of the biggest voices for Palestinian liberation. Started by Yousef Anastas, his brother Elias, and a group of international friends, Radio Alhara was first set up in March 2020 as a way to broadcast the groups’ mood on a particular day of isolation. A few months later, the station turned its focus entirely to Palestinian liberation, with broadcasts such as “Fil Mishmish”—a sonic protest against proposed plans by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank last July. The station has a base of over 40,000 followers on social media, where they broadcast everything from historical photographs, to daily show schedules and artwork. Although online media is restrictive on content about Palestine, the station’s online visibility has flourished with the help of artistic support and presence of pro-palestinian DJs and musicians.
“Thousands protest against arrests of civilian leaders in Sudan”, AlJazeera (25 October 2021)
According to Sudan’s information ministry, military forces have arrested Sudan’s acting prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and senior government officials. Furthermore, they have disrupted internet access, blocked bridges in the capital, Khartoum, stormed the offices of Sudan’s state-run television in Omdurman and detained a number of their workers. In response to what the ministry describes as a military coup, thousands of Sudanese have flooded the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman. The apparent military takeover came after weeks of rising tension between Sudan's civilian and military leaders. In the pictures, protesters are seen flashing victory signs, holding national flags, and blocking streets with bricks and burning tyres.