Connect with us

World

Learning Lessons: Protesters Stay One Step Ahead of Rulers

Dr. James M Dorsey

Published

on

Protests

There’s a déjà vu feeling to this year’s wave of protests across the Arab world.

It’s not that this year saw the toppling of the leaders of Algeria and Sudan as a result of popular revolts, a harking back to the 2011 protests that overthrew the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

It’s that it’s the protesters in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco rather than illiberal or autocratic regimes that have learnt the lessons of 2011.

Had illiberal and autocratic leaders learnt the lessons, they would not have been taken again by surprise by mass protests, often sparked by a black swan.

Lessons learnt would have meant putting their ear to the ground, hearing the groundswell of anger and frustration boiling at the surface over lack of economic opportunity and basic services, widespread corruption that benefits the few and complicates life for the many, and a clamouring for the ability to vent those grievances.

It’s a lesson that is valid beyond the Arab world with similar protests, like in 2011, erupting across the globe in countries such as Hong Kong, Russia, Peru, Haiti, Ecuador, Indonesia, and world-wide climate change-related demonstrations.

For their part, demonstrators in Algeria and Sudan concluded from the 2011 protests that toppling a leader was the beginning not the end of the process.

In Algeria, protesters remain in the streets six months after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down, battling the army for a political process that will guarantee structural change rather than enable an electoral process that ensures that the military and its aligned business interests remain the power behind the throne.

Sudanese demonstrators surrendered the street only after agreement had been reached with the military on a three-year-long transition towards civilian rule.

The Sudanese and Algerian experiences, like the lessons to be learnt from the 2011 revolts, suggest that the playing field in the wake of the fall of an autocrat is striking a balance between protesters’ demands for fundamental change and the determination of elites and the military to preserve their economic interests, some degree of control of security and safeguards against being held accountable for past abuse.

What demonstrators have going for them, beyond the power of the street, is the fact that popular discontent is not the only thing that mitigates against maintenance of the pre-protest status quo.

Countries across the Middle East and North Africa, characterized by youth bulges, can no longer evade economic reform that addresses widespread youth unemployment, the need to create large numbers of jobs, and inevitable diversification and streamlining of bloated government bureaucracies.

Algeria is a case in point. Foreign exchange reserves have dropped from US$193.6 billion in 2014 to US$72 billion in 2019. Reserves cover 13 months of imports at best in a country that imports 70 percent of what it consumes,

“If the state can no longer deliver goods and services, socio-economic discontent will rise further…. In order to avoid such a situation… the state and its citizens will have to renegotiate their relationship. In the past the state provided, and Algerians abided. This is no longer economically feasible today, nor is it what Algerians appear to want as they seek more transparency, less corruption, and better governance of Algeria’s resources,” said Algeria scholar Dalia Ghanem.

Attention in the past years since the 2011 popular Arab revolts has focussed on the consequences of the Saudi-UAE led counterrevolution that brutally rolled back protesters achievements in Egypt and contributed to the Iranian-backed military campaign of Houthi rebels in Yemen and the devastating subsequent military intervention in that country as well as civil wars in Syria and Libya.

Yet, the past eight years have also been characterized by issues-oriented protests that often involved new, creative forms of expression of discontent.

Iraq, Algeria and Sudan rather than Egypt contain lessons for the future.

Egypt’s field marshal-turned-president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi may have squashed recent protests with mass arrests and security force violence, but his conspiratorial depictions of a plot engineered by the repressed and weakened Muslim Brotherhood are unlikely to dampen widespread discontent with his failed economic policies that have benefited the elite and impoverished many.

Mr. Al-Sisi may have ended the protests for now, but continued refusal to address grievances makes Egypt an accident waiting to happen.

The demography of protesters in Iraq proves the point. The protests could have been avoided had the Iraqi government focused on tackling corruption, ensuring the delivery of basic services, and creating jobs for university graduates and opportunities for those who returned from defeating the Islamic State to find that they were deprived of opportunities.

One lesson of the protests in Iraq and Hong Kong is the fact that repressive government responses, the killing of more than 100 demonstrators in Iraq or the banning of face masks in Hong Kong, fuel rather than calm public anger.

Said Hong Kong pro-democracy law maker Fernando Cheung: “This is adding fuel to the fire. This will mark the beginning of riots in Hong Kong.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s.

World

Greenland’s Ice Melting Raises Concerns over Existing Environment Crisis

Mirror News Desk

Published

on

Greenland ice

Greenland’s ice that is melting at an immense rate has become a major source of concern for the world. Not only does it pose threats to tens of thousands of people living in the world’s largest island, but also it brings homeless crisis concerns to nearly 400 million people.

The major transformations to global society has led to over usage of the natural resources, harming the environment. Thereby the calls to end the climate crisis gained worldwide attention this year, with people protesting against their respective governments to bring appropriate measures to save the future.

Recently, a team of 96 scientists from 50 international organisations performed a detailed analysis of obtained satellite data, displaying Greenland’s ice sheet’s volume and flow between 1992 and 2018. They warned that the region has lost 3.8 trillion tonnes of ice since 1992, which accelerated until 2013, after which it slowed down, coinciding with a period of cooler ocean and atmospheric temperatures.

Rise in air and ocean temperatures have been found as a major reason behind melting of surface ice and increasing glacial flow.

The scientists also reported that Greenland’s ice melting added around 10.6 mm to the global sea levels, warning of the dire consequences if the ice kept melting at its current rate.

Millions of people would then be exposed to coastal flooding as sea levels could rise 67 centimetres by 2100 unless measures are taken to reduce the effects of global warming.

Earlier a global research of nearly 11,000 scientists clearly and unequivocally stated that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency and to secure a sustainable future and to end an untold suffering, one must change its way of living.

Dr Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds, said, “As a rule of thumb, for every centimetre rise in global sea level another six million people are exposed to coastal flooding around the planet.”

Shepherd added, “On current trends, Greenland’s ice melting will cause 100 million people to be flooded each year by the end of the century, so 400 million in total due to all sea level rise.

“These are not unlikely events or small impacts; they are happening and will be devastating for coastal communities.”  

Well several predictions warning against a rise in global surface temperatures and sea levels have been made in the past by IPCC, but no strict action has been taken to mitigate the threats. Moreover, Greenland’s ice losses have turned the tables for good, with additional environment crisis and an additional seven-centimetre rise in the sea levels on top of the IPCC’s estimates.  

Continue Reading

World

Athletes Hit-Hard by Russian Doping Ban Ahead of Global Sport Events

Mirror News Desk

Published

on

Russian Doping

Once again Russia, known for its deception and cunning nature, appears to have been surrounded while fulfilling its geopolitical ambitions. From a smaller to that of an international level, Russian doping violations have affected the entire system, as the country has been stripped off from its 43 Olympic medals.

A similar incident disclosing the doping violations took place on Monday, where the executive committee of World Anti-Doping Agency, while its meeting in Lausanne, banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The ban prompted an angry response from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called it a politically motivated move to harm the interests of the country at an international level.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also supported Putin’s school of thought saying, “The ban is the continuation of this anti-Russian hysteria that has already become chronic.”

One of the major reasons of the angry response from the Russian state authorities is that under the ban, not only will the country lose its rights to host or bid for tournaments but also the government officials will be barred from attending any major events.

The sanctions imposed on Russian doping violations appears to be one of the toughest for the country, which has for a long time detracted from clean sport.

Doping in Russia notably gained significance between 2011 and 2015 and was revealed by Sports Lawyer Richard McLaren in an independent report, released in 2016. The report led to suspension of Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) for nearly three years.

Over the time, Russia has approved many anti-doping law targeting coaches, without offending the superpower of communism, while maintaining its influencing dominance over other nations. But failed in achieving its goals.

In the same context, WADA President Craig Reedie said, “Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”

As a result of Russian doping violations, the sportsmen and women will only be allowed to compete as neutrals at the Olympics next year and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics if they can demonstrate that they were not part of a state-sponsored system of doping.

The Russians will be allowed to compete in qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as WADA Director General Olivier Niggli stated that if the team progresses to the finals in Qatar, “it will not be representing the Russian federation”. Since these events are major for anti-doping purposes, it appears that Russia has no way out but to prove itself innocent.

Meanwhile, Russia’s participation in Euro 2020 and Saint Petersburg’s hosting of four matches will remain unaffected by the imposed ban.  

Though the head of RUSADA Yury Ganus is skeptical about the ban, saying “This is a tragedy. Clean athletes are seeing their rights limited”, the sport officials are positive that RUSADA’s supervisory board meeting, scheduled for December 19 would bring good results.

The actions of sanctioning Russian doping violations have been manipulated as an attack on sport by many. Since one third of the 145 athletes are still active, RUSADA has a bigger responsibility of improving the future of the athletes, by deciding whether or not to appeal against the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Continue Reading

World

Ring Girls Sacked Ahead of Joshua and Ruiz Bout in Saudi Arabia

Mirror News Desk

Published

on

saudi arabia

Billed as “Clash on the Dunes,” the matchup between two of the greatest boxers in the world, Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz, will take centre stage in Saudi Arabia tonight. However, there will be no ring girls involved in the heavyweight world title bout, due to Saudi’s ultra conservative dress policy.

The reports affirm that the tradition of women holding up the board before each round has been scrapped for Saturday night’s rematch in Diriyah, keeping in mind the strict laws.

While the move has been praised by critics who believe women’s inclusion in the match is only wise to do away with, regardless of the location, some have criticized Saudi Arabia for its code of conduct.

Reforms in Saudi Arabia have been centric to the nation and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s progress, who has opened cinema halls, lifted ban on women’s driving, staged world class events to entertain the local public and removed the male guardianship system.

However, each reform has its own upper limit, failing to comply with, which can pose really bigger problems. For example, the Saudi’s dress policy for women states wearing an abaya in public at all the times.

Other than the ring girls, there will also be no female fighters taking part in the event. This is despite Irishwoman Katie Taylor being included on the undercard last June in her victory against Delfine Persoon.

Earlier this year, the WWE staged a pay-per-view event Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. The event grabbed headlines for hosting the first ever women’s wrestling match between Lacey Evans and two-time women’s champion in WWE, Natalya.

However, questions were raised over the match suit that both women wore at the event. Rather than carrying the usually low-cut bikini tops, the two wrestlers were seen fighting in black leggings and baggy t-shirts over bodysuits.

Taking nothing away from the efforts made to modernize by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, it still remains more of a fact that despite touting equality, women remain inferior to men in Saudi Arabia.

Continue Reading

World

Saudi Air Force Member Shot Down Following the U.S. Navy Base Attack

Mirror News Desk

Published

on

Saudi Air Force

The Saudi Air Force member, who visited the United States to receive military training, was identified as a prime suspect of the shooting that killed four people and wounded eight at a U.S. Navy base in Florida on December 6.

The shooter had possession of a handgun after which he was shot dead by sheriff’s deputies, following the Naval Air Station Pensacola attack. It was the second major attack on the U.S. military installation base in a week that has put the military officials in jeopardy.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed the suspect’s identity as Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, Saudi Arabia’s national who was in the U.S. to attend training under the Navy programme run for U.S. allies.

The arms and military equipment sold by the U.S. to Saudi Arabia require a trained handling, which the country provides to vetted Saudi army officials.

DeSantis said, “The government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. They are going to owe a debt here, given that this was one of their individuals.”

U.S. President Donald Trump quickly came in a defensive mode saying Saudi Arabia’s King Salman offered condolences and sympathy to the victims and their families over the phone call.

Responding to the incident, King Salman said Saudi security services were working closely with U.S. agencies to find the motive behind the attack. “The perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people, who count the American people as friends and allies,” he said.

Where both the countries, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are bonding over oil and military equipment, their citizens seem unhappy with the deepening ties. Moreover, such attacks are alarming for the U.S. as they are apparently risking the lives of their own personnel, while training the external actors. The deed of Saudi Air Force shooter is still not clear but his enmity could be one of the motives.

Continue Reading

World

French Protests for Pension Reforms Escalate on Second Day

Mirror News Desk

Published

on

french protests

As France continues to protest for a second day consecutively, the capital city has to deal with disrupted services in the transport system. More than 800,000 people came out on the streets yesterday, resulting in violent clashes with the police.

The main reason behind the French protests is the increasing dissatisfaction in people who are against the modifications in pension reforms put forth by President Emmanuel Macron. Since most of the transport system of the capital is halted, railways and flights are sure to witness widespread disruption.

The bus and metro operators of Paris claim the strikes to last until Monday at least. Sources claim that the other unions might decide their future plans about the strike today.

Receiving mixed reaction from the public, the new point based pension system by Macron would reward employees for each day worked. The points would later be transferred to future pension benefits. Macron claims the system to be fairer than the existing one.

Multiple changes in the pension reforms in the last decade, placed 60 to 62 as the ideal age of official retirement. Even then it is one of the lowest among the OECD group of rich nations – in the UK.

As 8000,000+ demonstrators participate actively in the French protests, the railway workers, teachers and hospital staff of the city are soon to replicate the largest strike in decades.

With the agenda to force Macron to revoke his idea of abandoning the pension reforms, the French protests have forced Paris authorities to barricade the presidential palace and deploy some 6,000 policemen. Inability to deal with the situation forced officers to use tear gas to disperse rioters who set fire to a vehicle and smashed windows as situation worsened near the Place de la Republique square.

Union members and people against the idea pose that some of them will have to work longer for a lower pension. A number of jobs ranging from sailors to lawyers and even opera workers will face major backlash.

Though Macron hasn’t immediately increased the age of retirement from 62, people retiring prior to 64 would get a lower pension based on the earned points.

As per reports by the OECD, after Denmark, France is second on the list of European nations with most working days affected by strike action.

The French protests come after Macron mocked US President Donald Trump in a hot mic incident with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the NATO summit in London. Speaking at a press conference, Trump retaliated by calling Trudeau “two-faced”.

Jumping out of the blunder, Macron told reporters, “I am not going to comment on stolen videos. That video wasn’t supposed to be filmed in that room.”

If the French protests continue to have existing support, it is quite possible that schools might be shut for several days and hospitals might have to remain understaffed. It remains to be seen if Macron will be able to control the situation or the 1995 protests will be replicated.

Continue Reading

Trending