MENARY Monitor – Edition 127
September 3, 2023
Politics and Political Engagement
Violent clashes erupted in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, leading to the death of a Kurdish protester and injuries to a dozen others. The conflict revolves around the occupation of a building in Kirkuk, previously used by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) but currently held by the Iraqi army since 2017. The central government intends to return the building to the KDP as a goodwill gesture, but Arab and Turkmen opponents established a protest camp outside it. The violence began when a group of Kurdish demonstrators approached the camp, leading to confrontations where stones and metal bars were used as weapons. Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani imposed a curfew to prevent further violence and called on political parties and community leaders to maintain security and stability in the area. Investigations are ongoing to determine the circumstances of the protester’s death and the individuals responsible for the shooting.
The Deputy Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament affirmed their commitment to stand by the youth of Kirkuk. He explained that he had been in contact with the Iraqi Prime Minister, the military leadership, and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense concerning the recent situation in Kirkuk. He stressed that there was an attempt to escalate conflict in Kirkuk by certain elements from Hawija, Rashad, and Riyadh, who had previously been involved in assassinating Kurds and Peshmerga forces. He further stated that the future of Kirkuk should not be decided by those outside of it, as its stability has been maintained by its various components until now. In recent events, Kurdish citizens in Kirkuk staged protests, demanding the reopening of the Kirkuk-Erbil Road, which had been closed for five days by a group from the Popular Mobilization Forces with support from the imposed administration in the city. According to the latest statistics, two Kurdish protesters were killed, and six others were injured as a result of gunfire by security forces and affiliated elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces.
Youth from the city of Zawiya in Libya have announced their intent to march on the capital, Tripoli, in a protest demanding the overthrow of the interim Government of National Unity (GNU). The statement, which emphasizes orders from their city’s council of elders, mentions their movement towards Tripoli to topple what they describe as a “Zionist” government. They are joined by youth from the western coast and call on the Libyan Army’s Chief of Staff, General Mohammed Al-Haddad, and Major General Salah Al-Namroush to protect the protesters from armed groups in the capital. Additionally, they demand the release of detained protesters and urge the Attorney General to arrest government members collaborating with “Zionists” according to Libyan law. If the arrests are not carried out promptly, they warn of pursuing and apprehending these individuals themselves. The statement encourages other cities to join their demonstration in the capital.
The Libyan capital saw a significant increase in security measures by the armed forces, aiming to prevent further protests after the interim government’s recent meeting with Israeli counterparts. Military vehicles, some armed with heavy weaponry, lined major roads and intersections, with armed factions’ convoys patrolling the city. The security response followed activist calls for protests against the Government of National Unity (GNU) and Prime Minister Abdulhamid Al-Dbeibah due to the Foreign Minister’s meeting with her Israeli counterpart. Over 16 demonstrators were detained during previous protests, but most were to be released. This security crackdown highlights the GNU’s precarious position amid efforts by Libyan factions to replace it with a new administration. The United Nations shifted its stance, now requiring a unified government as a prerequisite for Libyan elections, complicating the political process. Powerful armed factions in Tripoli support Dbeibah, but clashes last month signaled the risk of renewed warfare. Dbeibah, while rejecting normalization with Israel, sought ties in hopes of US support in Libya’s internal political standoff.
Forty young individuals from the Azilal region are protesting due to being excluded from benefiting from the National Human Development Initiative projects. They claim to have gone through the necessary processes to benefit from these projects, including training and mentoring, and even presented their projects to the selection committee, composed of various authorities at the regional level. The coordinator of the protesters expressed dissatisfaction with the project selection process, stating that out of sixty projects, only twenty were accepted. He also alleged that the selected projects were not up to the mark and that those who benefited from them had connections with elected officials or others who helped get their projects approved. The “excluded” individuals have taken their protest to the capital, Rabat, where they staged a demonstration in front of the parliament. Prior to this, they held a sit-in protest in front of the regional authorities’ office, during which a committee from the authorities met with two of the protesters. However, this meeting did not yield satisfactory results. The protesters stressed that they want to expose all the shortcomings in the process of granting projects through the National Human Development Initiative in the region. They are also calling for the Supreme Audit Institution to intervene, emphasizing their responsibility for what they are advocating.
According to the Asdaa BCW Arab Youth Survey, 100% of Iraqi and Palestinian youth oppose the normalization of relations with Israel. In Libya, 99% of youth opposed it, with 1% showing some support. In Lebanon, 98% strongly opposed, while 2% partially supported. In Saudi Arabia, 98% were strongly against, with 2% partially supporting it, and a very small percentage had limited support. Sudan’s youth strongly opposed it by 97%, with 3% showing partial support. Jordanian youth had 94% strong opposition and 6% partial support. Kuwaiti youth had 86% strong opposition and 14% partial support. Tunisian youth had 85% strong opposition and 13% partial support. Yemeni youth had 81% strong opposition and 19% strong support. Syrian youth had 81% strong opposition and 19% partial support. Algerian youth had 69% strong opposition and 31% partial support. Omani youth had 61% strong opposition and 39% strong support.
The Al-Tura Youth Center in Jordan organized a workshop on the principle of the rule of law, with the participation of 20 young men and women aged 14 to 20. The workshop featured discussions on the importance of the rule of law as the foundation of modern governance. It emphasized that the application of the law is essential for any successful democratic transition. It also provided youth the opportunity to ask questions and gain knowledge on the role of the judicial system for upholding the rule of law.
The Youth and Sports Directorate in Alexandria organized a political education seminar titled “Political Concepts” at the Freedom Youth Center, part of the Central Youth Branch. The seminar covered various political concepts, including the definition of politics, the science of community administration, laws, legislations, and constitutions. It also introduced some political concepts such as liberalism, political freedoms, democracy, the rule of law, and Egyptian identity. The seminar addressed both domestic and foreign politics, the strategies of nations, their goals, and political decisions. This initiative aligns with the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ goal to focus on political education for youth and young leaders and to hold educational seminars to integrate them into political and social life. It aims to nurture a politically aware and educated generation capable of leadership, representation in parliaments, and assuming positions of responsibility. This is achieved by raising awareness among young people and educating them about the political sciences that govern countries through their legislative and executive institutions.
Economics and Entrepreneurship
The North Mazar Youth Center in Jordan organized a “Digital Skills” workshop attended by 20 young people aged 15 to 17. The workshop aimed to provide the youth with a better understanding of digital skills, how to promote business activities, and empower them to build a strategy that enhances their online presence, digital marketing, and other important technology-related topics. The head of the Center emphasized its commitment to developing digital skills among young people, as they align with the requirements of the future job market, where they have become essential for improving the education and training sector. He called for the wide-scale implementation of digital skills training using a demand-driven approach to enhance youth digital skills to meet market demands.
The Youth Empowerment Foundation launched a vocational training program for craftsmen in the directorate of Al-Maqatirah. The program convenes 70 young men and women who will receive theoretical and practical lectures on professional apprenticeship methodologies and occupational safety rules over the period of eight days. This initiative is part of a project aimed at enhancing youth resilience and capacity for self-sufficiency, funded by the Hilton Conrad Foundation. The vocational program covers seven fields, including tailoring, cosmetics and hairdressing, beekeeping and honey production, solar energy system maintenance and installation, vehicle mechanics, automotive electrical work, and iron welding. The program looks to provide youth with valuable skills that enable them to integrate into the job market by participating in workshops and gaining experience in these professions.
Hundreds of protesters in Syria’s Suwayda province continued their ongoing demonstrations against the deteriorating economic and living conditions, demanding the “downfall of the regime,” reminiscent of the unprecedented protests that marked the early days of the Syrian revolution in 2011. These protests followed the government’s decision earlier this month to end fuel subsidies amid a severe economic crisis, as the Syrian currency has lost over 99% of its value. The protests initially started in Daraa and Suwayda, but the momentum has continued in Suwayda. Some protesters are shifting their focus from purely economic demands to the need for a political solution. They believe that without a political resolution, there can be no sustainable economic improvement. Politically-mediated efforts are reportedly underway to find ways to calm the situation in Suwayda, involving discussions between local dignitaries and political intermediaries. Some of the protesters are affiliated with local armed groups, including the “Men of Dignity,” the largest group in the province. The group’s spokesman stated their support for the legitimate demands of the people and emphasized their non-violent approach, adding that they would not tolerate any attacks on the demonstrations.
The fifth edition of the World Youth Forum kicked off at the National Training Academy in collaboration with UNICEF and in partnership with the “Haya Karima” Foundation. This year’s edition of the forum features extensive workshops with the participation of various international organizations, development initiatives, and youth from around the world. The discussions primarily revolve around two initiatives: “Learning for Employment” and “Volunteering Pathways in the Middle East and North Africa.” The forum aims to generate serious ideas to effectively engage youth in an executive plan with both the public and private sectors. It seeks to promote wider implementation of the “Learning for Employment” and “Volunteering Pathways in the Middle East and North Africa” initiatives, particularly in Egypt.
The World Youth Forum, in collaboration with the National Training Academy and UNICEF, organized a wide-ranging workshop to discuss the Learning for Work and Volunteering Pathways initiatives in the MENA region. The workshop aimed to combine public and private sector partnerships with youth to accelerate the impact and address one of the most significant challenges facing young people in the MENA region – how to effectively implement learning for work and volunteering pathways for youth. The workshop included international organizations, youth representation with their proposals, and various development initiatives. The youth participants actively engaged in discussions, aiming to generate effective and positive results for youth involvement in the implementation plan, in coordination with both the public and private sectors, to expand the impact of the initiatives, especially in Egypt. The program and initiatives launched will include launching an initiative for entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which supports entrepreneurs in starting their businesses or expanding their activities through business incubators and funded training programs to develop the industry – in collaboration with a number of local, regional, and international organizations to qualify youth for the job market and overcome the challenges related to developing the required work skills and empowering them to obtain suitable jobs.
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution recognizing the contributions of the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh. The resolution acknowledges the role of youth forums and conferences, particularly the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, in empowering youth and providing them with opportunities to develop their capabilities, especially in the areas of peace, creativity, and development.
The training sessions for the “Youth Empowerment” program, implemented by the Ministry of Youth in partnership with UNICEF and Generations for Peace, have concluded in Amman, Jordan. The program involved the participation of 175 young people aged 10 to 24. The training sessions covered various topics, including self-management, self-confidence building, self-awareness, leadership skills, teamwork, and interactive activities to boost self-esteem, self-worth, and effective communication. The program aimed to develop the capabilities and skills of young people to express their ideas creatively, build their identities, manage their negative and positive emotions, enhance their self-confidence, establish trust with others, and practice communication skills. It also encouraged them to express their strengths, share opinions and ideas, and engage with others constructively. The ultimate goal of the program is to empower youth to find alternative solutions to the challenges they face, improve their decision-making skills, enable them to be active and positive individuals in their communities, enhance their talents, refine their personalities, and develop their intellectual, mental, and physical capabilities.
Israeli authorities have suspended Palestinian university students, Bara’a Fuqaha and Batoul Dar Assi, from their studies at Al-Quds University in the West Bank. This policy, not new, has been used previously to hinder the education of Palestinian students. Bara’a was summoned for questioning by Israeli police in June about her student union activities and subsequently suspended for six months, despite denying all accusations. Her appeal was rejected by an Israeli military court. Bara’a, unable to enter Abu Dis where her university is located, believes an annulment is unlikely due to escalating punitive Israeli policies. This suspension decision has been criticized as a “systematic racist policy” by the Jerusalem Governorate and is part of a broader trend of Palestinian students facing restrictions on their education by Israeli authorities since 2013.
Egypt’s Minister of State for Migration and Egyptian Expatriate Affairs, Suha Gendi, held a discussion session with young Egyptians as part of the ministry’s strategy to connect Egyptians abroad with their homeland. The meeting convened 50 young Egyptian students and researchers from the Ministry of Migration’s Youth Center for Egyptians Abroad (MEDCE). She proposed the establishment of a Think Tank to gather ideas from youth and engage relevant institutions in utilizing their proposals. The young attendees expressed their readiness to contribute their acquired knowledge to serve the community, especially in areas like digital transformation, medical services, and advisory committees for researchers.
450 young leaders from climate-affected regions worldwide recently convened at the Climate Justice Camp in Lebanon. This week-long event saw participants from nearly 100 countries across the Global South come together to discuss and develop strategies and demands for prioritizing climate justice in policymaking. Topics covered included loss and damage, climate adaptation, and phasing out fossil fuels. The camp served as a platform to build cross-border networks aimed at driving change both locally and globally. The gathering concluded with attendees joining around a symbolic sculpture of a giant hand, collaboratively created using over 400 pieces of embroidery, banners, and textiles from their respective home countries. This artwork, designed in partnership with Lebanese artist Pierre Abboud, serves as a symbol of solidarity for climate justice.