MENARY Monitor – Edition 110
May 7, 2023
Politics and Political Engagement
Approximately 5 million Turkish youths participate for the first time in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14. They are expected to have a major say in these elections, as they account for about 7.5% of the total number of voters. Experts believe that Turkey’s Generation Z is completely different from previous generations due to their technological savviness. A report by Turkpress indicates that Turkish oppositions view this generation as pervasive for the Government and has broad imagination and welfare requirements that the Government is unable to meet, while in the Government’s view they are a conscious and aware generation of Turkey’s progress in several fields, most notably defense and space industries. The new generation of voters has gained an important place in candidates’ programs. President Erdogan and his most prominent rival, opposition leader Kamal Kaljdaroglu, have long sought to engage youth, through multiple methods that reflect their interests, at a time when Erdogan refuses to name this generation as Generation Z, calling them the “Technovist” generation, a space and aviation festival organized by Turkey for several years. The polemics of Turkey’s young generation and new voters stem from the fact that most of them were born during the height of the Justice and Development Party’s reign, and they have not experienced political crises and coalition governments, leading them to wanting change. A Turkish journalist considered that “half or more of all young people may vote for the AKP, especially after Erdogan promised young people loans for those who are due to marry, grants for students, university housing insurance, and others,” stressing that Erdogan “still enjoys public confidence to deliver on his promises, despite the difficult economic crises in Turkey. Kuljdaroglu is not tried or testing by this generation, but he has lately made promises that he may or may not achieve, but he might win the confidence and the opportunity to be tested by the younger generation.”
Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, who is currently imprisoned, called on Turkish youth to actively campaign ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey. Demirtas urged young people to encourage voters in person, not on social media, where they “won’t be able to change a single person’s opinion.” Demirtas wrote in a tweet. “Come on guys, let’s finish it in the first round.” Demirtas’ party, HDP, had previously endorsed opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is running to unseat Erdogan. Kilicdaroglu is considered Erdogan’s toughest challenger in two decades, and he leads in most polls conducted inside Turkey and is considered the favorite amongst the younger generation.
Mukhtar Khawaja wrote for Aljazeera discussing Sudanese youth amidst the ongoing conflict. Khawaja raises a central question regarding youth’s vision of Sudan in light of the current crisis. He affirms that they want a civilian state whose power is not monopolized by an elite or a group, which respects the rights of all citizens to peaceful and disciplined expression of public values in the expression of private cultures; gradually moving towards federalism through a quasi-federal rule, the territories’ budgets allow for the restoration of affordability of federal governance, while also maintaining traditional religious and social institutions, developing their mechanisms, and preserving ethical and societal values with balanced economic development.
Economics and Entrepreneurship
A new report published by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the European Training Foundation (ETF) has issued an urgent call to MENA countries to invest in education and modernizing training systems for youth. The report, titled, “Enabling Success: Supporting Youth in MENA in their Transition from Learning to Decent Work,” calls for developing and implementing market relevant skills training and job creation strategies targeting youth in the region, which has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world. Data shows that young people are still three times more likely than older workers to be unemployed. Focusing on the need for enhanced labor market information systems to support decision making, the report presents a number of recommendations for priority reforms and actions. This includes calls for lifelong learning centered Education reforms, improved links between TVET and the labor market, and an increased engagement of the private sector in identifying and delivering skills.
Alghad newspaper published a report discussing how Jordanian startups reached successful heights. The report indicates that there are a number of reasons for achieving what some see as “impossible”, perhaps the most important of which is “the uniqueness of the idea” and “its relevance to all markets”. Experts stressed that successful entrepreneurial work hinges on ensuring that an idea is expandable and conducive to growth, focusing on modern sectors and technical trends that are in high demand worldwide, such as artificial intelligence. Official figures show that 2021 saw a rise in investment in start-ups in Jordan, reaching JOD 120 million – up from JOD 20 million in 2020. Chairman of Oasis 500 indicated that “if a startup is built on a unique idea or an intellectual property invention, its success chances will be high. The entrepreneur should always answer a key question: how can I expand beyond Jordan? The entrepreneur should always consider a high “competitive advantage” at the heart of the technical solution, the service or the product he offers, or the way it is offered.” He also stressed that the success of Jordanian startups should always be highlighted and marketed optimally to motivate more young Jordanians to seek the entrepreneurship path.
According to local sources, a young man from the town of Beit Furik in Nablus, and another from Jericho, were shot by Israeli occupation forces, one with live bullets and one with shrapnel, after which they were taken to the hospital. Dozens of Palestinians were injured and suffocated by tear gas over the weekend, as Israeli military dispersed rallies against settlements in the West Bank. Demonstrators denounced Israeli settlement and human rights violations. The coordinator of the “People’s Resistance Committees” in Kafr Qaddoum said that 5 young men were shot with metal bullets during the Israeli occupation army’s suppression of the weekly anti-settlement march in the town. He noted that dozens of demonstrators had suffered asphyxiation as a result of tear gas inhalation. In turn, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society stated in a statement that its crews had dealt with dozens of suffocation injuries caused by tear gas inhalation in Beit Djan and Beta in Nablus governorate.
The Israeli occupation forces carried out another campaign of raids and arrests in various areas of the West Bank, which saw the arrest of a number of Palestinians, while injuries were reported in Jericho and Hebron. The Prisoners’ Club reported that the occupation forces had arrested 13 Palestinians, including a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, on the pretext of participating in popular resistance. The occupation rearrested Legislative Council member Azam Silhab and three of his sons after breaking into their homes in Hebron. Further, two young Palestinians were wounded by the occupation forces after they stormed the Ain al-Sultan camp in western Jericho.
The Houthis have begun their annual summer camps in the regions they control in Yemen, urging parents to allow their children to travel to the locations for the camps. It is believed that the camps brainwash and enlist Yemeni youth into the Iran-backed group. Children as young as 10 have been standing in lines to receive instruction in religious teachings and identity from Houthis. The movement says it intends to attract more than 1 million to its camps. Yemeni journalists, activists, and human rights groups have expressed outrage at the calls to join the camps, arguing that the Houthis use them to indoctrinate children and provide them with military training prior to fighting government forces. Abdullah Al-Monaifi, a Yemeni journalist, said that the Houthi summer programs indoctrinated children with radical ideologies, and that the camps were a menace to families and communities.
Terrorist and extremist groups have been finding new ways to disseminate their propaganda, placing young people at a particular risk. While technology companies such as Google are making efforts to remove terrorism-related material from their platforms such as YouTube, terrorist groups continue to appear online, through encrypted forums and video games. One way authorities have responded to this threat is through new laws to address online harms, which means social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok can be ordered to delete such content. The public also has to play a role in staying vigilant about young people falling into the hands of terrorist groups.
During a meeting with the Central Committee for Local Councils Elections and Local Democratically Elected Youth Councils, the outgoing Libyan Minister of Youth, Fathalla Al-Zani, discussed the need to complete the “third jump” to qualify young people capable of leading the country towards stability and to protect them from attractions that negatively affect their future. Al-Zani added that the ministry worked at full capacity and with minimal means during the year to implement the initiative to establish local youth councils across Libya, noting the obstacles and challenges faced.
Egyptian Parliamentarian and Rapporteur of the National Dialogue Youth Committee said that he visited 108 universities to listen to students’ needs of and recommendations for the National Dialogue Youth Committee. He said that youth’s needs included supporting the Students’ Union, supporting persons with disabilities, addressing the issue of unemployment, and supporting entrepreneurship. He explained that the Youth Committee has worked over the past months to hear what the youth of universities, schools, and clubs need from the national dialogue. He pointed out that “Young people also talk about political and community empowerment, which will happen only through the training and qualification of a community or political leader through student associations.”
The Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research emphasized that the Digital Innovation Centers of Egyptian Universities is an innovative solution to address the root causes of youth unemployment, through practical and realistic methods that integrate the various vital business growth services into one place. Youth have easy access to these services, whether they seek to develop their business plans or have businesses that they struggle to maintain or start. The minister noted that these digital creative centers reflect the important role of the university in encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship among youth, adding that these centers have great potential to support and assist students, small and medium enterprises, and emerging businesses to become key actors for digital transformation in various sectors of industry.
The Conference of the Parties Presidency and Youth Climate Pioneer teams organized a series of events with more than 200 young people around the world on the sidelines of the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Youth Forum in New York. To provide adequate space for young people to express their views, the teams organized a 30-participant consultation in collaboration with the official UNFCCC Children and Youth Service Foundation “YOUNGO”. During the workshop, young people discussed opportunities and challenges during the preparation of the COP28 Summit and expressed their gratitude for the role of youth climate leader in the presidency of the conference to oversee youth participation and develop their skills to ensure constructive participation. The Presidency of the COP28 launched the “International Youth Climate Delegates Programme” as part of the “Road to COP28” event held in Expo Dubai on 15 March 2023 to enable young people to participate effectively in the conference process.