MENARY Monitor – Edition 98
February 12, 2023
Politics and Political Engagement
Many Iranian social media activists welcomed the meeting of the Iranian opposition at Georgetown University in Washington, United States. They emphasized that the meeting reflected “solidarity and hope for the future”. The meeting of the “Future of the Iranian Democratic Movement” featured statements from several notable opposition figures, including former Crown Prince, Reza Pahlavi. The meeting is said to have resulted in a pact of solidarity and Iran’s freedom, and that the pact was expected to be submitted shortly. Meanwhile, activists called for mass protests, 40 days after the regime executed two activists.
Middle East Eye reported that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has pardoned “tens of thousands of convicts”, including those arrested in recent anti-government protests, as reported by state news agency IRNA. Khamenei said he had “agreed to the proposal of the head of the judiciary to pardon or commute the sentences of a significant number of convicts” in honor of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. The pardons will not apply to dual nationals, those accused of committing murder, those charged with “spying for foreign agencies”, or those “affiliated with groups hostile to the Islamic Republic”. Human Rights Activists News Agency has reported that about 20,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, which authorities accuse Iran’s foreign enemies of fomenting. Norway-based group Iran Human Rights said that at least 109 people are facing execution in protest-related cases.
Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been released on bail after starting a hunger strike to protest against his almost seven-month detention. The director had been arrested months before the current anti-regime protests erupted, but his imprisonment became a symbol of the plight of artists speaking out against the authorities. Panahi has been released from Tehran’s Evin prison “two days after starting his hunger strike for freedom”, the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said on Twitter.
Middle East Monitor reported that Kuwaiti activists, NGO professionals, and political groups organized a rally in solidarity with Palestinians, as first reported by Quds Press. The participants expressed their support for the Palestinians and their resistance against the Israeli Occupation. They also expressed their opposition to the normalization of ties with the Zionist state. During the rally, the participants chanted: “Palestine is a trust and normalization is treason.. Palestine is an Arab state.”
Economics and Entrepreneurship
The fifth edition of the World Youth Forum in Egypt was cancelled due to “economic burdens”. An Egyptian Parliamentarian stated that holding the event this year “would have provoked a large segment of Egyptian society, given the Government’s austerity measures.” At the beginning of this year, the Egyptian Government approved a package of resolutions to reduce public spending in response to the global crisis, which included postponing the implementation of any new projects financed in dollars. According to an official statement from the Department of the World Youth Forum, the cancellation of this year’s edition was aimed at alleviating the economic burden and driving development. Instead of the Forum, alternative initiatives would be implemented, focused on entrepreneurship, developing farmers’ capacities to achieve food security, and launching the world’s largest youth volunteer platform to help poor countries affected by war, conflict or climate repercussions, as well as to support refugees and migrants.
The Jordan-Iraqi Joint Committee held its twenty-ninth session in Baghdad and reached agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields. The committee discussed comprehensive issues of cooperation in energy, trade, investment, economic city, transportation, agriculture, education, culture, youth, water, tourism, antiquities, labor, vocational training, works, and other fields. It also discussed areas and projects of trilateral cooperation, which includes Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, and followed up on the implementation of the outcomes of the summits that brought together the leaders of the three countries.
Thirteen Palestinians were injured in an Israeli military raid in Jericho, according to a local medical source. Israeli forces raided the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp in Jericho in the West Bank, triggering clashes with stone-hurling residents. Israeli soldiers used tear gas canisters, rubber-coated bullets, and live fire to disperse angry residents. Witnesses said Israeli forces destroyed a barracks for breeding poultry, and parts of several houses, and arrested six Palestinians during the raid.
The Yemeni Government accused the international community of colluding and turning a blind eye to child recruitment crimes committed by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, calling for a blacklist of Houthi militia leaders and members involved in the recruitment of children and their inclusion in sanctions lists. In a statement published by the Yemeni News Agency (SABA), Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani said, “The sight of the visit of the leader in Iran’s Houthi terrorist militia, Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, to a child recruitment camp in Dhamar governorate is enough to awaken the conscience of the world, which turns a blind eye to the crimes of the militia against children.” He explained that the Houthi militia continues to recruit children and brainwash them with extremist terrorist ideas and hatred.
A local source said that the Houthi group had abducted several young people and people from a village in Ibb governorate. The source indicated that the abduction followed dozens of villagers raiding a factory to manufacture alcohol in their village, after they had ascertained that the plant was inside a house, so they broke in, destroyed the house and the factory and shut it down.
Syrian university students, in coordination with the National Federation of Syrian Students, have been volunteering to help transport relief assistance to Damascus International Airport in order to deliver it to those affected by the earthquake. A representative from the Federation said that the students formed voluntary teams to assist in the delivery and transportation of assistance and unloading them from aircraft to send them to the affected areas. They have also been active on social media, calling on the international community to break the blockade and lift the sanctions imposed on Syria.
Despite the difficult living conditions in Jerusalem, as 80% of Jerusalemites are considered below the poverty line, they were still proactive in support of the victims of the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. They collected donations, most notably in the town of Beit Hanina, raising about US $200,000 in a 3-day campaign.
The “Natasharak” Initiative was launched in North Sinai, Egypt, as part of the Parliaments Programme for Community Initiatives in North Sinai organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in cooperation with UNICEF. The program involves the implementation of training workshops for youth aged 13 to 19 who will be trained on the skills needed to contribute to the implementation of community initiatives, whose main themes are: girls’ empowerment, community consensus, citizenship, peaceful coexistence, non-violence, environment, green projects, renewable energy, and health.
A survey by African and Velter Foundation found that most young Moroccans believe they are more influenced by Western cultures, especially those of Europe and the United States. The survey was conducted with a sample of 4,500 people, aged 18 to 35, from nine African countries. Respondents also reported that many negative stereotypes about Africa still persist, with 75% believing stories about Africa to be negative, a perception held by 58% of young Moroccans surveyed.
The Directorate of Youth and Sports in Kafr el-Sheikh, Egypt, organized a number of events at youth centers to raise awareness on climate change, as part of the Environmental Volunteering Day. One of these events, titled “Climate Change and its Implications on the Environment in the Future”, aimed to raise awareness of the implications of climate change on the environment, including changes in temperature and weather patterns and changes in the solar cycle are mostly induced by human behavior such as the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. The event concluded with the participating youth planting trees to contribute to the preservation of the environment and reduce those changes and their effects.