MENARY Monitor – Edition 120
July 16, 2023
Politics and Political Engagement
The European Parliament has issued recommendations urging the Palestinian Authority (PA) to conduct parliamentary and presidential elections without delay. The recommendations emphasized the need for these elections to be “free, credible, inclusive, transparent, and fair,” stating that they are crucial for strengthening the PA’s legitimacy. The Parliament reaffirmed the European Union’s unwavering support for the two-state solution, emphasizing that it is the only viable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The European Parliament expressed its concern over the PA’s failure to hold elections for more than 16 years and supported Palestinian demands for inclusive political representation. It urged the Palestinian leadership to create the necessary conditions for conducting free and transparent elections, encouraging the participation of youth, women, and minorities. The Parliament stressed the importance of an independent judiciary and respect for freedom of expression. Additionally, it demanded that Israel fulfill its obligations to enable these elections to take place in East Jerusalem.
Several sources indicated that the Turkish security services carried out a large-scale campaign targeting several Arab nationalities, claiming that their residence permits were not renewed. However, these sources also made it clear that the campaign targeted the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood youth, who spread their fears on social networks, and many of them confirmed that they are being pursued by Turkish security on the grounds that their residency has expired, and that they are threatened with deportation to Egypt.
The Defense of Detainees Association in Tunisia announced that the Court of Appeal in Tunis has ordered the release of two detainees in the “conspiracy against state security.” The association stated in a press release that the Court rejected the public prosecutor’s appeal against the investigating judge’s decision to release opposition leader Shaima Issa, and granted the defense’s request to release political activist and lawyer Lazhar Akrami. The court denied the release of other detainees in the same case. Earlier, dozens of protesters gathered in front of the Court, demanding the release of detainees in case. The protest was organized by the Salvation Front, which includes several detainees and was attended by members of political parties affiliated with the front and the families of the detainees. The demonstrators denounced what they called the judiciary’s use to target President Kais Saied’s opponents, carrying banners condemning the arrests and raising pictures of the detainees, including politicians, judges, and activists.
Lebanese journalist Dima Sadek’s sentencing to one year in jail has sparked a wave of solidarity on social media. Sadek was accused of defamation, slander, and inciting sectarian strife by the leader of a prominent Christian political party in Lebanon. Judge Rosine Hojeili issued the verdict, imposing a jail sentence and a fine of 110 million Lebanese pounds. The case stemmed from Sadek’s tweets describing the actions of the Free Patriotic Movement as “racist” and “Nazi-like” following an incident where two young men from Tripoli were beaten by FPM supporters in Keserwan. Sadek highlighted the sectarian nature of the incident, which was caught on camera and widely shared on social media. While the assailants were not held accountable, Sadek expressed her intention to appeal the ruling and warned of the dangerous precedent it sets for freedom of journalism and expression in Lebanon, and the solidarity campaign reflects growing concerns over press freedom and the judiciary’s impact on the media landscape in Lebanon.
The “National Conference of Palestinian Youth” called for the activation of the role of youth and their empowerment in all fields of Palestinian national work, considering it a shared responsibility between the youth themselves and the active Palestinian groups. It praised the Palestinian people’s support for the choice of resistance and their courageous and steadfast response to the occupying force in our occupied lands, Jerusalem, Gaza, and all cities of the West Bank. The participants in the conference agreed to form a committee to study the strategy of Palestinian youth work as a result of the dialogues and discussions held during the workshops at the conference. Special committees were formed to study and implement proposed programs and projects by the participants, notably launching a twinning program between Palestinian youth inside and outside Palestine, forming a committee to address the common concerns and challenges facing Palestinian youth refugees in diaspora countries and refugee camps, and establishing training paths to enhance capacities and skills in the field of national work.
The political office of the Shabab Lebanon Movement emphasized that “the Lebanese people cannot accept the imposition of external will, regardless of its nature or form, through the settlement of refugees and keeping them in Lebanon under the guise of asylum.” They called for a prompt decision to return them to their homeland. In a statement, they expressed their concern about the successive crises, unprecedented deterioration in all levels, and the foreign proposals that are being introduced without any consideration for the constitution and the Lebanese fabric. The statement added that “the movement aims to avoid engaging in disputes with any party to prevent further fragmentation in their country and among their people, the current situation necessitates taking a firm political stance to reject anything that threatens the integrity of the nation and the unity of its people and territory.”
The Directorate of Youth in the Capital Governorate, Jordan, conducted a workshop, as part of the 2023 Hussein Camps for Work and Construction. The workshop focused on political participation and parties, and it was attended by representatives of clubs, youth organizations, and local communities in Amman. The camp aims to enhance youth participation in party life and familiarize participants with election laws, political parties, and political engagement. The session discussed the importance of election and party laws in increasing political participation, involving and encouraging youth in the political and party processes and decision-making. During a session on “Political Development and Parties: Political Empowerment of Youth,” Jordan’s Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs emphasized that the participation of women and youth in party work would bring about a qualitative shift in the future development of Jordan’s political, economic, and administrative systems. He highlighted that universities serve as incubators for organized political action, urging young people not to focus on negative social realities but to promote a positive culture. He stressed the need to expand youth participation in party work, as weak representation in party involvement leads to weak political actions and ineffective parliaments. He emphasized that the upcoming phase is about the meeting of strong forces in public work, and deeper party participation will yield better choices in various aspects.
The Youth Ambassadors Program for Chinese-Arab Friendship 2023 and a dialogue forum between Chinese and Middle Eastern youth were launched in Beijing, sponsored by the Chinese People’s Friendship Association with Foreign Countries and Peking University. The forum was attended by many Chinese and Arab diplomats, and Arab delegations from 14 Arab countries, including the UAE. United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Economics and Entrepreneurship
Gender disparities and biases in the Arab job market and entrepreneurship are hindering women’s participation and progress, according to recent reports. In Arab countries, only 19% of women are part of the labor force, the lowest rate globally and well below the global average of 48%, as highlighted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). This limited participation is reflected in the business sector, with women-led startups facing challenges in attracting investment from regional investors. In the MENA region, women-founded businesses received just 2% of the $2.4 billion invested in nearly 500 startups during the first nine months of 2022. A survey conducted by Wamda revealed that over 66% of female founders identified securing investment as their biggest obstacle. ILO projects that less than 10% of the estimated 400,000 green jobs created for Arab youth will be occupied by women, underscoring persistent gender inequalities in the region. These findings emphasize the urgent need to address gender disparities and biases to foster a more inclusive and diverse business environment in the Arab world.
Mujtama is a digital platform that utilizes artificial intelligence techniques to assist young job seekers in finding suitable employment opportunities by evaluating their LinkedIn accounts. Among the world’s crises today is the issue of unemployment, where a large number of young people in the Arab world face difficulties in finding jobs and employment opportunities after graduation or due to challenging circumstances. In this context, Khalid Al-Ahmad and Mohannad Al-Tasilq launched a pioneering startup company called “Mujtama.ai”, which leverages the power of technology, artificial intelligence, and the vast potential available through LinkedIn. The platform aims to help young job seekers find suitable employment opportunities by evaluating their job search accounts, making their presence on LinkedIn more effective.
Siltak and Education Above All organized a panel discussion on the sidelines of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2023 in New York. The session, titled “Prospering in the Sustainable Economy: Empowering Marginalized Youth through Green Jobs,” aims to highlight the importance of sustainable entrepreneurship, innovation, and skills training in creating job opportunities and promoting economic transformation. These efforts align closely with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth and Goal 13 on climate action. Participants in the session include the Qatar Fund for Development, the United Nations World Food Programme, UNICEF, the International Labor Organization, as well as young activists in the field of climate action. The participants aim to emphasize the need for sustainable solutions to address environmental concerns and provide livelihood opportunities for marginalized communities impacted by climate change.
The Youth Committee of “We Are All Jordan” organized an informative session in cooperation with Bluemont Foundation in Madaba on “Entrepreneurship and Licensing for Start-up Projects.” The session aimed to familiarize youth with the procedures for registering and licensing start-up projects, requirements, general professional practices, and the benefits of giving their projects an official status in terms of marketing and protecting their rights. The coordinator of the committee in Madaba emphasized the importance of home-based entrepreneurial projects in achieving development, reducing poverty and unemployment, and empowering communities. Various challenges arose due to different procedures from one municipality to another. To address this, the government has unified and standardized the procedures for home-based professions across the kingdom.
The National Bank of Egypt was able to manage twelve financing deals, with a total value of EGP 27 billion during the first half of 2023. This is the largest number of deals arranged, managed and marketed on the level of the continent of Africa. This success is a reflection of the bank’s continuous keenness to provide the necessary financing needs for major projects, in various vital economic sectors such as industry, infrastructure, real estate development, contracting and building materials, which contributes positively to supporting the country’s economic development, and thus providing more job opportunities for Egyptian youth and increasing economic growth rates.
Within the framework of the cooperation protocol between the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, digital educational activities are being implemented at Hayat Karema Youth Centers in the Directorate of Youth and Sports in Damietta. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology aims to build a digital Egypt and create a digitally literate Egyptian society in all aspects of life. It focuses on enhancing the infrastructure of information technology and communications, improving digital services in government entities, and enhancing the performance of ministries and other government bodies.
A third Palestinian was killed on Friday by the occupation bullets, in the village of Umm Safa, north of Ramallah, hours after the occupation army executed two others in the Old City of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. And the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced that a citizen was killed by the occupation forces in the village of Umm Safa, and another Palestinian was moderately wounded by settler bullets near the town of Beit Ummar north of Hebron. The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced the death of a young man, who was shot by Israeli occupation forces, near the village of Deir Nizam, northwest of Ramallah.
An Israeli report confirmed that the methods employed by the occupation forces and the Shin Bet against Palestinians in the West Bank have become exhausted and have turned into a cycle of violence that feeds itself. The report highlighted that the more the Israeli army intensifies its activities against the resistance and inflicts casualties, the greater the motivation for Palestinian youth to join the fight against the Israeli army. The report, issued by the Zionist National Security Studies Institute and published on the Akka website, stated that it is evident that the Israeli army has lost control over settlers in the northern West Bank, who, in turn, escalate acts of revenge against Palestinians and receive political support from extremist ministers in the government.
Israeli occupation forces forcibly evicted a Palestinian family from their home in occupied East Jerusalem, sparking outrage and condemnation from activists and locals. The Sub Laban family, who had resided in the house for 70 years, were forced out by around 20 heavily armed officers. The eviction was carried out to make way for settler groups, with the Israeli Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Galicia Settlement Association’s claim that the house belonged to Jews prior to 1948. Eyewitnesses reported the deployment of special units and the establishment of military checkpoints in the neighborhood before Israeli forces stormed the family home. Videos circulated online showed the distressed family members being pushed onto the streets, while activists and journalists who came to support them were dispersed. This violation adds to ongoing tensions and further highlights the magnitude of the issue of settler expansion in East Jerusalem.
A recent annual survey conducted by BCW revealed that around two-thirds (60%) of Arab youth believe that relations between Iran, Israel, and the West will deteriorate and eventually lead to a military conflict. While many predict that the Iranian government will become more authoritarian in the future, approximately one-third of the participants expect further civil unrest or even a coup in the country. The main focus of this year’s survey is the “New Reality and Changing Perspectives” among Arab youth. Although the majority of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) youth (60%) see the possibility of reaching a positive solution, over two-thirds (69%) in the Eastern Mediterranean and more than half (57%) in North Africa believe it is “highly unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” that the conflict will be resolved soon. Furthermore, around 4 out of 10 (39%) Arab youth feel that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict does not receive sufficient attention from the Arab world amidst emerging national priorities, with this percentage rising to over half (51%) in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
In response to the escalating drug epidemic among Iraqi youth, the Ministry of Interior, represented by the Anti-Narcotics Directorate, has expressed efforts to curb the phenomenon. Drug trafficking and abuse have reached unprecedented levels. Drugs are prevalent, sold, and distributed in impoverished and deprived areas, particularly in Baghdad and southern provinces. There is no official published statistic on the number of drug users in the country, but according to security officials, drug abuse is widespread among young people of both genders. Drugs enter Iraq from the Iranian border, particularly crystal meth, while Captagon enters from the Syrian border. Hussein Al-Tamimi, the spokesperson for the Anti-Narcotics Directorate, stated that Iraq lacks any drug manufacturing facilities for substances like Captagon or crystal meth, and the ministry is working to combat this phenomenon by arresting all drug users and traffickers. He mentioned that the security forces have conducted campaigns against drug traffickers and users in the early months of this year, resulting in the arrest of 10,000 individuals on charges of drug abuse. Out of those, 5,000 have been convicted, and judicial rulings have been issued against them. Al-Tamimi affirmed that 2023 will be the year to eliminate drugs in Iraq. The ministry’s approach to drug control involves intelligence gathering, security operations, raising awareness, and educating young people about the dangers of drug addiction. Al-Tamimi emphasized that a serious commitment to drug control will result in a significant increase in drug seizures and the apprehension of traffickers and users. He also mentioned that Iraq is collaborating with neighboring countries to combat this phenomenon and announced the first international conference on drug control in Baghdad, which will be attended by Arab and foreign nations.
Under the pretext of participating in the army’s war against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), in late June, the Sudanese Army Commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan called on Sudanese youth to join the army to confront the RSF. Siddig Elzailaee writes that this call did not come out of nowhere; instead, it is the result of several factors and has multiple objectives. It is a consequence of what has happened to the army during the Islamist era. The author adds that this could be the beginning of a catastrophic civil war, as a sector of western tribes has aligned itself with the RSF. Elzailaee urged Sudanese youth not to be swayed by false calls. This war is not their war, and they have no stake in it. It is a conflict between opportunists seeking to seize the wealth of the country. Regardless of its final outcome, the country and its people will be the losers. The victims will be the sons and daughters of our people, those who volunteer to participate and those who remain in their homes. The most important lesson is what happened to thousands of our people who were pushed into the abyss of the South’s war.
Sudanese refugees in Sfax, Tunisia, have faced a brutal crackdown by security forces, characterized by violent beatings and mass expulsions. This crackdown is believed to be an early implementation of an agreement between Tunisia and the European Union, designed to curb migration toward the Mediterranean Sea and to strengthen the Tunisian economy. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented mass expulsions of hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers to the Tunisia-Libya border, supported by videos, photos, and testimonies showing the abuse suffered at the hands of Tunisian security forces. Reports on social media indicate that police subjected migrants to physical assault and forcefully expelled them from the city. Sudanese refugees, who possess UNHCR asylum-seeker cards and cannot return to their war-torn homeland, find themselves in dire conditions in Sfax, with witnesses describing them as camped in public parks without proper access to food, water, or shelter.
The MASAM project, responsible for demining operations in Yemen, announced that its field teams cleared 762 mines, unexploded ordnance, and explosive devices last week, bringing the total to 1,334 items cleared since the beginning of July. During the second week of this month, MASAM teams successfully cleared an area of 209,667 square meters of Yemeni land, reaching a total area cleared since the beginning of the month to 268,226 square meters. The project highlighted that the total number of cleared mines since the start of the project until July 14, reached 407,512 mines, unexploded ordnance, and explosive devices.
According to an official report, 541 Yemeni families were displaced during the month of June. The Executive Unit for Displaced Camps Management stated in its monthly report that it tracked the displacement of 541 families, comprising 2,693 individuals, who were displaced in June. The report indicated that 458 families, representing 2,302 individuals, were displaced for the first time, while 83 families, representing 391 individuals, were displaced for the second time during this period. It highlighted that 20% of these families were displaced from Al-Hudaydah governorate, followed by Marib with 17%, and then Taiz and Ibb governorates with 11% and 10% respectively. The Executive Unit stated that in the first 6 months of 2023, a total of 4,732 families (26,253 individuals) were displaced.
According to the Information and Rehabilitation Center for Human Rights, Houthi militias have killed 4,105 civilians and injured 17,948 others, including women and children, in Taiz between March 21, 2015, and June 30, 2023. The center issued a report in which it reveals that among the victims, 878 were children and 464 were women, while among the injured, 2,132 were children and 2,660 were women. The report also highlights the tens of thousands of mines planted by Houthi militias, which have claimed the lives of approximately 779 civilians, including 38 children and 23 women, and injured 1,296 civilians, including 71 children and 30 women. The report further states that there were 496 cases of abduction, 175 cases of enforced disappearance, 897 cases of arbitrary detention, 102 cases of torture, 97 cases of assault on civilians, and 78 violations of freedom of opinion and expression.
Over 130,000 Palestinian children in Gaza are benefiting from summer camps organized by the United Nations as a means to provide respite from the challenges of living in a territory under economic blockade and frequent conflicts with Israel. The camps, facilitated by UNRWA, offer a range of activities including sports, drawing, handicrafts, language learning, greening, and recycling. An UNRWA study revealed that 38% of children in Gaza displayed signs of functional impairment affecting their daily lives. The camps not only provide a space for children to enjoy their summer but also create temporary job opportunities for approximately 3,000 Gaza youth. Despite the challenging economic situation and ongoing conflicts, the camps allow children to simply be children, fostering a sense of normalcy and playfulness. UNRWA operates 284 schools in Gaza, catering to around 290,000 students.
In a three-dimensional design named “Yasmin Al-Amal,” a 17-year-old Syrian youth captured numerous ideas and messages he wants to convey about Syrian children and their suffering. The design aims to express Syrian children and youth’s capacities and perceptions. The young designed revealed that Yasmin, the protagonist of his design, is a child who was forced to flee from Aleppo to Latakia due to the conditions of the war. She lost her upper limbs due to injuries sustained during the earthquake that occurred last February. However, her spirit of hope, love for her country, determination, and willpower became her source of strength. Zaid points out that Yasmin regained hope after being fitted with prosthetic limbs, allowing her to overcome her disability while carrying her own pain and the pain of other Syrian children and their dreams. Through this design, she narrates the success stories of Syrian children despite their suffering to children around the world. Zaid also emphasizes that he intended to introduce Syrian cities, history, and heritage through the design and send a message that war and earthquakes have not deterred Syrian youth from working to achieve their aspirations and hopes.
The Arab Bank and the Fund for the Future of Orphans, in Jordan, recently announced the renewal of their cooperation agreement for the thirteenth consecutive year. This agreement aims to empower the youth of the Fund and assist them in reaching self-reliance, becoming productive members of society through various care programs. The Arab Bank has been one of the key supporters of the Fund over the past years, with its support reaching a total of 86 male and female students in various university disciplines across all governorates of the country. Through the renewal of this cooperation agreement, a total of 30 young beneficiaries of the fund will have the chance to continue their educational journey. Some will join as new scholarship recipients, while others are currently pursuing their studies. The agreement also provides training and employment opportunities for graduate students.
FedEx Express and INJAZ Al-Arab have joined forces to empower the youth of the UAE and Saudi Arabia on International World Youth Skills Day 2023, through mentorship programs that aim to achieve a lasting impact on the future of young individuals. The programs focus on equipping students with essential workplace skills, fostering financial literacy, and promoting an understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation. In the UAE, students had the opportunity to gain practical experience in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity by interacting with members of the FedEx team. These efforts are geared towards preparing the youth for successful careers.
The COP28 Presidency office and the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on climate education during COP28. The agreement aims to advance a comprehensive approach to climate education and promote the involvement of youth. ECSSR will organize various activities, including events, exhibitions, panel discussions, and educational materials, to raise awareness about climate change and sustainability. The partnership will also result in the creation of digital assets such as short-casts, video episodes, and an audiobook to enhance climate change education.
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi announced that the 12th session of the International Conference on Environmental Education will witness the convening of a conference on youth, noting that it has so far received participation from More than 100 young people, while a committee was formed to supervise its organization, as the supervising committee developed a questionnaire directed at young people to develop the conference program. The Scientific Committee of the 12th session of the Conference, hosted by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi from January 28 to February 2, 2024, expects the participation of more than 2,000 participants, while abstracts of academic working papers have been received from more than 30 countries around the world, following the invitation launched by the commission to submit abstracts. The commission provided the opportunity to participate in four different languages: English, Arabic, French and Spanish to encourage participation from different countries.