[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.]
“Uncertainty in Sudan as PM resigns: Crisis explained in 600 words”, Al Jazeera (3 January 2022)
On Sunday, Abdalla Hamdok, announced his resignation as Sudan’s civilian prime minister. Hours before his televised address, security forces killed three more protesters, pushing the number of people killed since the coup to 57. For weeks Sudan has experienced mass protests denouncing both the military’s power grab and its subsequent deal with Hamdok. In his speech, Hamdok stated that his attempts to mediate between civilians and military officials “to achieve the necessary consensus to be able to deliver to our people the promise of peace, justice and no bloodshed” had failed. He urged the country to engage in a new dialogue to agree on a “national charter” and “draw a roadmap” to complete the transition to civilian rule. According to Ahmed El Gaili, ““His removal, as far as [protesters] are concerned, removes the last fig leaf that was covering this regime and what remains is a full-fledged military dictatorship”. Read this article for more background on the topic.
“Israel moves to resolve crisis after Bedouins protest”, Associated Press (12 January 2022)
On Tuesday evening, Arab Bedouin staged protests against a tree-planting project by Israeli nationalists on disputed land in the Negev desert. In the confrontation, two officers were wounded and at least 18 people were arrested. For the Bedouin community, Israel’s forestry project is part of a larger attempt by the authorities to seize grazing lands, force them into planned communities, and attack their traditional way of life. According to the Israel government, Arab Bedouin, which make up some 20% of the country’s population, need to be relocated into planned towns so that Israel can provide public services. Due to the heightened tension, the government announced a compromise in which it would complete the day’s planting and launch negotiations on Thursday. However, Israel’s fragile eight-party coalition is fragmented among Islamist Ra’am party members who threaten to withhold its votes in parliament in protest, and more hawkish members, like the Regavim nationalist group, who have pledge to press on, undeterred.
“'Day of rage' rallies in Lebanon to protest poor living conditions”, Middle East Monitor (13 January 2022)
In a number of cities throughout Lebanon, people took to the streets in what protesters called “day of rage”. Following a call by Bassam Tlais, the head of Land transport Union, to “take to the streets and announce a day of mass anger”, many Lebanese came out to voice their frustration with the deteriorating living conditions, the free fall of the Lebanese currency and a sharp rise in fuel prices. Since October 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost 90 percent of its value with nearly 80 percent of Lebanon’s population now living under the poverty line. People experience difficulties accessing basic goods, including food, water, health care and education, while fuel shortages have caused widespread electricity blackouts. Yet, as the Human Rights Watch has stated, Lebanese authorities continue to demonstrate a disregard for the rights of the population. As a result, when Tlais called on people to unite, he urged them “not to believe the government’s promises.”
“Tunisia: Between untenable status quo and uncertain future”, Al Jazeera (16 January 2022)
Hundreds of Tunisians gathered in the capital on Friday to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the uprising that deposed former President Ben Ali, defying a government ban on public gatherings imposed to combat the rapid spread of COVID-19. The ban came two days before major political parties and national figures called against President Saied’s extraordinary measure on July 25—a move critics say was intended to put a stop to the protests. Despite this, political parties and civil society groups continue to reject the president’s suspension of parliament, his seizure of governing powers, and plans to amend the constitution. Although Saied's actions from July continue to be supported by many within the Tunisian population, the president has lost some of his popularity as a growing opposition has become more openly critical of what it deems as an autocratic behavior. Saied has repeatedly vowed to organize a national dialogue over the past months, though he has yet to deliver so far.
“Saudi women launch campaign highlighting stifling 'house detention'”, Middle East Eye (31 January 2022)
On Twitter, Saudi women’s rights activists use the hashtag #HomeDetainees to demand that the "male guardianship system" be abolished—a system that essentially provides a woman's father, brother, or husband the power to decide on her future in terms of "education, work, and healthcare." Activists have launched an online campaign to allow women to share their experiences with the many social restrictions they still face in the Saudi kingdom. According to the Human Rights Watch, “Male guardianship effectively relegates adult women to the status of legal minors incapable of making critical decisions for themselves”. One tweet said, “Even if you live in a separate house, you are still under the watchful eyes of the men on the street, the owners of the house and the government.” Despite reforms made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at expanding the participation of women in the public sphere, HRW and Saudi rights groups maintain that women’s freedom remains inadequate in Saudi Arabia.
“Sudan: Why military will struggle to replace Hamdok”, Middle East Eye (4 January 2022)
Before Hamdok even resigned from his position as Sudan’s transitional prime minister, he lost much of his legitimacy in the streets and among the civilian political forces after he signed a political agreement with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces. Although Hamdok did not last until the end of the transitional period, like his two predecessors did, he was never intended to follow in their footsteps. Hamdok was far more progressive and far less malleable than the military expected. Although he eventually conceded to the military—after being placed on house arrest and tricked into believing that the Forces of Freedom and Change expected him to negotiate with the military—he resigned when facing the military's increasingly counter-revolutionary turn. Moving forward, any technocrat who attempts to replace Hamdok will have to face serious credibility issues if they enter the governing arrangement as it stands following the 25 October coup and 21 November political deal. Although reports have emerged that Ibrahim Bedawi is being considered by the military as a replacement for Hamdok, Sudan’s immediate political future remains extremely uncertain.
“In Sudan, the price of revolution is paid for by women's bodies”, The New Arab (14 January 2022)
Thousands of Sudanese women and activists marched in several cities across Sudan on Thursday, December 23, to protest sexual violence and rape of women and girls during a demonstration against the military coup. In the context of demonstrations, rape is used as a weapon to cancel the agency women have over their bodies, which is exhibited through the act of protest. These relentless efforts also aim to forcibly distance women from political protests and public life in general. During the 2019 revolution, rape was also used as an attempted to shatter the revolutionary sense of self that rejects violence and adheres to peace and the goals of transforming and rebuilding the state. Due to the state’s complicity and silence regarding sexual harassment, marital rape and domestic violence, women often prefer to stay silent in fear of being targeted with false accusations. The mass protests that were seen in more than 12 cities around Sudan is only a continuation of Sudanese women’s battle for their right to security, safety, and participation in public life.
“For the sake of Palestine, we need to talk about the infighting eating away at pro-Palestine activism”, The New Arab (24 January 2022)
As the UN Human Rights Council states, Palestinians are facing the highest levels of violence in recent years. However, the upswell of violence reveals another issue of pressing concern: the lack of a coherent and effective strategy among Palestine solidarity organizations and activists. In the diaspora, outrage on social media, mildly successful hashtags, calls for sanctions and BDS does little to coordinate ways to effectively pressure Western establishments. Moreover, rather than capitalizing on the community’s diversity of experiences and positionalities, it has become increasingly clear that some activists advocate for a one-size-fits-all approach and a dislike for advocacy in formalized spaces. This approach and behavior have greatly hindered activists from all circles' capacity to cooperate successfully and, more importantly, to trust people in their own community. As long as basic principles are adhered to, such as “the belief in Palestinian right to self-determination and sovereignty in all of historic Palestine, a discussion of Israel's policies as part and parcel of settler-colonialism rather than disparate transgressions, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees” different strategies should be welcomed.
“Egypt: Why Sisi's survival depends on erasing memories of the 2011 revolution”, Middle East Eye (24 January 2022)
Several indicators suggest that Egypt is in a worse situation today than it was during Mubarak. Not only does Egypt continue to score poorly on measures of corruption, but Sisi’s government has a worse human rights record than Mubarak ever did. Through an eliminationist pollical programme of intimidation, brute force, draconian legislation, media propaganda and judicial corruption, Sisi has worked hard to ensure the elimination of all his opposition and the impossibility of another democratic uprising. Sisi has spent several years attempting to convince his citizens and the international community of the negative impact of the Arab Spring. Furthermore, he established a new discursive construction, in which Egypt’s stability would be at stake if another uprising occurred. The problem with his argument, however, is that Egypt's economy hasn't improved significantly under Sisi's authoritarian rule. In fact, the economy is still in a bad state. Although Sisi’s efforts to prevent another uprising has worked thus far, in the absence of a meaningful social, political, and economic turnaround, public frustration may continue to grow and culminate when least expected.
“Resisting greenwashing in the Naqab: Unity Intifada continues”, Al Jazeera (28 January 2022)
In Palestine, the Israeli regime has long been masquerading its ethnic cleansing efforts as environmental action and greenwashing has been a tenet of Zionism since its foundation. The Naqab area is home to Palestinian Bedouins who, prior to the formation of the Israeli state, owned land under a clearly defined Indigenous system. Over the decades, however, they have been crammed into designated townships, refused building permits, had their land appropriated and much more by the Israeli government. The latest confrontation began in mid-January, after bulldozers belonging to the Jewish National Fund arrived in the village of al-Atrash with heavy police protection and razed Bedouin farming lands "in order to plant trees." Of course, the primary aim of Israel’s tree-planting projects is not to help the environment, but to steal and ethnically cleanse Palestinian land. Yet, Palestinians in the Naqab are not alone in their fight against land theft. Despite Israel’s relentless attempts towards fragmenting the Palestinian population, what is transpiring in the Naqab cannot be divorced from events in the remainder of Palestine. And Palestinians are aware of that.
“‘More than wonderful’ … Gaza bookshop to reopen after unexpectedly successful global campaign”, The Guardian (28 January 2022)
Last May, Samir Mandour’s bookshop was reduced to rubble during the 11-day conflict, which killed more than 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel. The bookshop, founded by Palestinian Mandour, was a beloved part of the local community for 22 years. According to the Israeli military, although the bookstore was not its target, the general building supposedly housed a Hamas facility for producing weapons and intelligence-gathering. The destruction of the bookshop prompted a campaign that raised $250,000 to help rebuild it, plus donations of 150,000 books. Currently, Mansour is preparing to reopen as both a bookshop and library, in a new location less than 100 meters from the original site. “I did not expect all this support. But it was something beyond imagination and something more than wonderful,” said Mansour. According to Rukhsana, the head of the book campaign, “This campaign was a gesture of solidarity, an attempt to restore dignity and the fundamental right to books”.
“Sudanese security forces fire tear gas as protesters defy ban”, Al Jazeera (31 January 2022)
According to medics linked to the demonstrations, one protester was killed as security forces confronted thousands of people rallying in Khartoum last Sunday. The 27-year-old, Mohamed Yousef Ismail, was hit in the chest during one of the latest demonstrations to denounce military rule since the army seized power in October 2021. For the first time in recent weeks, armed soldiers and military vehicles were deployed across the city in an apparent show of force and to disperse crowds. As a result of crackdowns on the anti-coup protests, at least 79 protesters have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded—mainly by gunshots and tear gas canisters. In the pictures, protesters are seen wounded from clashes with security forces in Khartoum. They are also seen defying the government ban against processions and mass gatherings in central Khartoum, limited them to only gather in squares and neighborhoods. Military leaders have stated that peaceful protests are permitted, and that protest deaths will be examined.
“7 Arab Hip-Hop Artists Egyptians Should Pay More Attention To”, Egyptian Streets (31 January 2022)
Artists like Marwan Moussa, Wegz, and other Egyptian artists, have placed Egypt at the forefront of the hip-hop scene in the MENA. However, even before these artists were at the top of Spotify lists– as early as 12 years ago – the hip-hop movement in other countries in the region were thriving. In fact, the birth of Arab hip-hop is frequently attributed to Palestine, as it was Palestinian artists who were the first to use Western beats to create songs about resistance to the Israeli occupation. Then when the Arab Spring erupted in 2010/2011, hip-hop exploded and inspired local musicians to use their talents to create revolutionary music—some of which became anthems for the youth during these movements. To this day, hip-hop is employed by Arab artists to rally people and speak to them about resistance efforts through their music. For those looking to expand their playlist, this article provides a list of seven Arab hip-hop artists worthy of mention.