[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.]
“Jordan MPs walk out of session on Israel electricity-for-water deal”, Middle East Monitor (9 December 2021)
Yesterday, Jordanian MP Saleh Al-Armouti, along with a number of his peers, walked out of Parliament in protest against the signing of a water and energy deal with Israel. According to Jordan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the deal could provide Jordan with 200 million cubic meters of water annually. In exchange for the water, illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank would have access to Jordanian desert for solar power generation. Jordan is currently one of the world’s most water-poor countries. Just last month, the country signed an agreement with Israel to buy 50 million cubic meters of water from Tel Aviv. After Al-Armouti walked out, Parliament Speaker Abdel Karim Al-Daghmi was forced to adjourn the session for half an hour because it had lost quorum. During the parliament session, protesters held a sit-in outside of the government building.
“Argentina: Hundreds apply for symbolic Palestine citizenship”, Middle East Monitor (11 December 2021)
The “I want to be a Palestinian” campaign propelled hundreds of Argentinians to submit applications for Palestinian citizenship at the Embassy of Palestine in Buenos Aires. The initiative was driven by the Argentine Committee of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in collaboration with the Argentine League for Human rights, among others, to symbolically request for Palestinian nationality. The Palestinian Embassy celebrated the initiative and act of solidarity, while reaffirming the importance to “Focus attention on the fact that the question of Palestine has not yet been resolved and the Palestinians are still deprived of exercising their inalienable rights, which are recognized by the General Assembly”. It has been eleven years since Argentina officially recognized the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. Since then, the Palestinian community in Argentina commemorates this day on 6 December.
“10 rights groups demand Egypt release political activist Ahmed Douma”, Middle East Monitor (15 December 2021)
Ten human rights organizations have called for the immediate release of activist and blogger Ahmed Douma. Douma was arrested in December 2013 for being around Abdeen Court during a demonstration against the Egyptian protest law. What started off as a three-year sentence, was then extended to life, and then reduced to 15 years. Since then, Douma has been held in the notorious Tora Prison, where his health has suffered as a result of being held in a small cell without a bed, exercise time, and adequate ventilation. According to the organizations, Douma is being denied educational human rights because of his political activities and persistence in pursuing democracy. He now suffers from osteoarthritis, chronic inflammation of the nerves, pain in his back and neck, depression and acute anxiety attacks, migraines, and blood pressure.
“Hundreds protest in Tunisia on anniversary of revolution”, Al Jazeera (17 December 2021)
On Friday, about 1,000 people gathered in central Tunis chanting “the people want the coup d’état to fall”, referring to President Kaid Saied’s power grab. In the beginning of the week, Saied extended his suspension of the parliament until elections in December 2022 and announced a nationwide public consultation to draw up a new constitution. Tension was later felt on the streets, as demonstrators both for and against President Saied rallied on the anniversary of the county’s revolution. Friday marked 11 years since street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire, sparking a revolt that would oust dictator Ben Ali and spark the Arab Springs. For many Tunisians, “the most pressing issue is the economy, which is creaking under the high inflation, debt close to 100 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 18 percent joblessness, all exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” the article states.
“Mass anti-coup protests in Sudan mark uprising anniversary”, Associated Press (19 December 2021)
On Sunday, video footage circulating the web showed tens of thousands of Sudanese protesters marching in the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman against the October military takeover and subsequent deal that reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Footage showed protesters at one of the palace’s gates chanting a familiar slogan heard during the Arab Spring uprisings: “The people want the downfall of the regime”. Demonstrations mark the third anniversary of the revolution that overthrew Sudanese autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. After which Sudan pursued a fragile path towards democracy through a joint military-civilian government. The October 25 military coup has rattled that transition and has subsequently led to street protests. The pro-democracy movement continues to demand that power be handed over from the military to a civilian government to lead the transition. Their slogan is as follows: “No negotiations, no compromise, no power-sharing” with the military.
“‘They won’t break us’: Sudanese protesters decry sexual attacks”, Al Jazeera (23 December 2021)
On Thursday, hundreds of women took to the streets in Khartoum to protest against sexual violence and harassment, including the incidences that took place during Sunday’s pro-democracy protest. The United Nations has reported that security forces were alleged to have raped or gang-raped at least 13 women and girls outside the presidential palace in Khartoum. As a response, protesters have delivered a memorandum to the Khartoum office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the signature of more than 40 rights organizations demanding an investigation into the cases of sexual and physical violence. Although there is mounting pressure from Western states to “carry out a full and independent investigation”, Sudanese authorities have not commented on this week’s allegations. Rights groups argue that rape and sexual violence have long been used as a weapon of war, such as in the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region and in the 2019 demonstrations. Despite the pressure and societal disapproval many women face, Sudanese women have made their mark in the recent demonstrations against the military coup. In addition to other slogans, protesters could be heard repeating the phrase, “They won’t break you.”
“Why Jordanian people are protesting pact with UAE, Israel”, The Electronic Intifada (1 December 2021)
Jordan’s latest proposed deal with Israel will supposedly provide Jordan with water in exchange for soil to provide electricity to Israel. People across the country are protesting the deal and the kingdom’s close relations with Israel, which many see as a betrayal to the Palestinian cause. The article argues that the latest deal ropes Jordan into the Abraham Accords—the framework for the normalization agreements between Israel, the UAE and several other Arab regimes facilitated by the Trump administration. And although Jordan already has its own peace deal with Israel since 1994, many leaders in Amman fear that they will miss out on the benefits that come with these new waves of normalizations with Tel Aviv. For the U.S. administration, a new pact between the two countries works towards their goal to make Jordan even more dependent on Israel and Washington. On top of the political implications that come with this deal, there are also strong reasons to doubt the project’s technical feasibility and environmental sustainability. Yet, despite all the government’s effort to warm up its “cold peace” with Israel, the Jordanian public remains adamantly opposed to any normalization with Israel.
“Will Israeli wall around Gaza stop Palestinian resistance?”, Middle East Monitor (13 December 2021)
Last week, Israel announced the completion of their $1.1 billion security wall on its side of the occupied Gaza Strip. According to the occupation state, the wall is a countermeasure to prevent Palestinian resistance in Gaza from digging tunnels, which they have used in the past, to carry out resistance attacks against Israeli soldiers during wars. The highly technological wall consists of an above-ground fence and subterranean barricade, includes a naval barrier, radar systems, hundreds of cameras, sensors, remote-controlled weapons system and command and control rooms. However, instead of intimidating the resistance, the wall is a reflection of the State’s weakness. Palestinian writer Mustafa Al-Sawwaf commented, "The creativity of our resistance does not stand paralyzed in front of this Israeli barrier or any other Israeli measures aimed at paralyzing it.” Meron Zev, an Israeli journalist, commented, "The barrier will not solve any problem. I do not think it will stop Israel from attacking Gaza … I suppose it will not be easy to cross, but I do not think it will stop Palestinians from carrying out attacks against Israel."
“Arab Spring: Why western narratives still miss the point”, Middle East Eye (20 December 2021)
Ten years ago, the Middle East and North Africa shocked the world when it erupted in a wave of revolts against authoritarianism and oppressive socioeconomic conditions—demanding bread, justice and dignity.Now on its 10th anniversary, the Arab Spring provides a good opportunity to reflect on its achievements and shortcomings, all in the aim to move forward. However, it also presents an opportunity to debunk various misconceptions and distortions that were produced by mainstream media, western governments and international financial institutions. 1) The uprisings were solely revolts against authoritarianism. 2) The Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings were “Facebook and Twitter revolutions”. 3) The revolts were primarily youth uprisings against the older generation. Moreover, the narrative that we see today is one of despair and hopelessness: the failed revolutions were not worthwhile. However, in order to advance our analysis of the revolutionary process, we must keep in mind that, “Revolutionary dynamics are complex, coming with inevitable crises, shortcomings and failings. They are imbued with counter-revolutionary tendencies and encroached upon by reactionary forces”. The fact that we are still seeing continued protests across the region highlights this complexity.
“Why the Burhan-Hamdok deal will not stabilise Sudan”, Al Jazeera (20 December 2021)
People across Sudan have participated in a series of protests that have been held regularly since the Transitional Military Council (TMC) carried out a coup against the civilian government on October 25. Despite an attempt to appease the crowd, protests persisted even after the military struck a deal with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on November 21 to reinstate him and task him with forming a new “technocratic cabinet”. The problem with the Burhan-Hamdok deal is that it contains many of the same flaws as the 2019 Constitutional Declaration had. Important players within the international community must understand that this agreement, like the one before it, secures no checks on military power and no independence of the civilian government from military control. Instead, the new deal further solidifies military interference in political decision-making and protects military investments and commercial relations from public oversight. In order to have any meaningful discussions on achieving peace and stability in Sudan, we must put the military’s economic interests, power, and foreign intervention under the control of a civilian government. If the international community continues to support the same mistakes of 2019, it will not only threaten Sudan’s chances of a peaceful future, but it will also diminish the people’s faith in international organizations.
“Can artistic freedom survive in Sudan? The writing’s on the wall…”, The Guardian (6 December 2021)
Artist and filmmaker, Suzannah Mirghani recalls the artistic freedom she enjoyed during the era between Sudan’s 2019 revolution and the recent military coup. “Nobody harassed us. Nobody told us what to do. Nobody asked us for the script. I call this time in the history of Sudan ‘the honeymoon’,” says Mirghani. Before the revolution, the artistic community had long been harassed, censored and forced into the shadows by the repressive government. Assil Diab, a street artist, says: “I painted Omar al-Bashir as the [face of] coronavirus in a stadium in Bahri during the daytime, which would have been just impossible; my whole family could have been killed two years ago.” After the recent military coup, however, many artists fear that they will be the first to be targeted if the military government continues in power. The coup, says Diab, left the creative community feeling “disappointed and just broken down … because we finally thought we were free and then this happened.” However, in the streets it is clear that the people have made up their minds, “No partnership, no negotiation, no legitimacy”.
“Palestine hoping for economic, tourism revival through Expo 2020”, Al Jazeera (6 December 2021)
‘Past, present and future’, is the slogan of the Palestine pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai. The pavilion portrays Palestine through the five senses, taking visitors on a journey of the land via seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting what the state has to offer. Through their showcasing of Palestine’s cultural and heritage, the organizers hope to promote tourism and investment opportunities for the country. “We want to show we have touristy places, archaeological sites and it’s a place where people come for religious tourism,” said Raseel Amr, the Palestine pavilion’s media liaison officer. According to a report released by the United Nations, “the ‘dire’ economic and fiscal situation in Palestine required integrated response” and that “years of economic stagnation in the West Bank was followed by a sharp GDP per capita decline in 2020”. In promoting the state’s success and opportunities, organizers hope to show that, “The occupation doesn’t stop us from being successful and achieving a lot. We have a lot of success stories, despite the occupation, and that shows it hasn’t stopped us from exceeding and going beyond,” Amr adds.
“Palestinian lady tailor's reminiscences of First Intifada”, Middle East Monitor (7 December 2021)
With the anniversary of the beginning of the First Intifada approaching, Palestinian resistance fighter Hanan Karajeh recalls the events that shook the region 34-years ago. The First Intifada was a sustained series of Palestinian protests and riots that erupted in the West Bank and Gaza on 8 December 1987, against Israeli occupation that had begun twenty years prior, in 1967. During this time, Karajeh secretly made Palestinian flags for the protesting youth. “Holding the Palestinian flags at that time was a big deal. For the Israeli army, it was like having a bomb and they were acting very aggressively against anyone who possessed the flag," she states. In addition to making flags and other ways she participated in the movement, Karajeh also taught women living in her village how to sew and drape. This provided them with a way to earn a living during these dire times. She also recalls that the biggest hurdle her community faced was providing an education for the children when Israelis had closed all schools and universities. A challenge women like Karajeh played a pivotal role in overcoming.
“Don't Leave: Reviving the folk songs of Palestinian women”, Middle East Eye (21 December 2021)
Folk songs have always been a quintessential part of Palestinian culture, whether in social occasions like weddings, circumcisions, home construction, harvest seasons, or political and momentous occasions. The period of the first Intifada especially witnessed a revival and documentation of folkloric songs, and a drive to preserve folk heritage that was largely forgotten, plundered, destroyed or lost over the years. One song that recently resurfaced to the public conscience took place during the historic escape of six Palestinian prisoners from the Gilboa prison in September. The song’s name is Tarweedeh Shmaali. While there is conflicting scholarship on whether the song originated in the Ottoman or British imperial era, Palestinians often ascribe an element of resistance to Tarweedeh Shmaali. What is often forgotten in the process of celebrating Palestinian folklore, however, is the momentous role women singers and storytellers play in preserving it. For centuries Palestinian women have been the guardians of knowledge and propellers of struggle through song. The article particularly presents how recent generation of women artists like Banna, Kelani, Sliman and Moussa, have worked to safeguard folklore for generations to come.
“Palestinian embroidery added to UNESCO cultural heritage list”, Al Jazeera (16 December 2021)
The United Nations Cultural Agency (UNESCO) has recently added the art of traditional Palestinian embroidery, or “tatreez”, to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Tatreez is an artistic tradition that involves hand-stitching patterns and motifs with brightly colored thread onto clothing. While the practice originated in rural areas of Palestine, the culture of stitching and wearing embroidered items also became common across cities and villages. Prime Minster of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mohammad Shtayyeh thanked UNESCO for its decision on Wednesday and added, “This step is important and timely, in order to protect our Palestinian identity, heritage and narrative, in the face of the occupation’s attempts to steal what it does not own”. According to Atef Abu Saif, the PA minister of culture, the ministry has worked for more than two years to get Palestinian embroidery on the list. “What our grandparents and forefathers created and left for us in heritage consisting of beauty, splendor and roots that are deeply fixed, is the best evidence that we are the people of this land,” he added in a statement.