ARAB SPRING 2.0? KEY FINDINGS OF ADR 2016. RADICALISATION THREATS.

RADICALISATION THREATS.

MARGINALIZATION/EXISTENTIAL THREATS!
Events in the region since 2011 have demonstrated the ability of young people to initiate action and catalyse change. They demonstrated young people’s awareness of the serious challenges to development posed by current conditions, and their ability to express the dissatisfaction of society as a whole with those conditions and its demands for change. These events also revealed the depth of the marginalisation that young people suffer and their inability to master the instruments of organised political action that could guarantee the peacefulness and sustainability of such change.

FAILING REGIMES!
There seems to be no prospect of improvement in the ability of governments to create sufficient suitable jobs, particularly because of the decline in oil prices and the negative effects of the decline on economic growth throughout the region, not merely in oil-producing countries.

LOST OPPORTUNITY!
Today’s generation of young people is more educated, active and connected to the outside world, and hence have a greater awareness of their realities and higher aspirations for a better future.

However, young people’s awareness of their capabilities and rights collides with a reality that marginalises them and blocks their pathways to express their opinions, actively participate or earn a living.

As a result, instead of being a massive potential for building the future, youth can become an overwhelming power for destruction.

HAVE NO SAY!
The youth unemployment rate is the highest in the world, reaching almost 30 percent, even though five years have passed since the widespread protests demanding a dignified life.

High numbers of young people, particularly young women, are unemployed and excluded from the formal economy.

The research literature continues to highlight the weak productivity of education and training systems in the region.

WAKE UP!
Indicators confirm that the overwhelming majority of young people in the Arab region do not tend to adopt extremist or violent views or to participate in extremist groups or activities. However, this should not lead us to complacency, because young people remain vulnerable to victimization by groups that misuse religion to benefit from its pivotal role in shaping identities.

EASY TARGETS TO BE EXPLOITED IN THE NAME OF RELIGION BY TERROR GROUPS/FRINGES!
Disgruntled individuals are less prone to resorting to peaceful, patient social action to change their environment. They may prefer more direct, more violent means, especially if they are convinced that existing mechanisms for participation and accountability are useless.

From:
Arab Human Development Report 2016
Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality

ARAB SPRING 2.0? KEY FINDINGS OF ADR 2016. UNEMPLOYMENT.

UNEMPLOYMENT
Most recent statistics indicate that two-thirds of the Arab region’s population is below thirty years of age, half of which falling within the 15 – 29-year age bracket.

The youth unemployment rate is the highest in the world, reaching almost 30 percent, even though five years have passed since the widespread protests demanding a dignified life.

Young people between the ages of fifteen and 29 make up nearly a third of the regThe youth unemployment rate is the highest in the world, reaching almost 30 percent, even though five years have passed since the widespread protests demanding a dignified life.ion’s population, another third are below the age of fifteen.

Their numbers exceed 105 million, equivalent to one third of the population. This is the highest share in the history of the region.

In 2014, unemployment among youth in the Arab region exceeded twice the global average – the situation is expected to worsen by 2019.

The most important challenges that they feel they face – 75.77% said it was the prevailing Economic situation (poverty, unemployment, price increase).

Corruption was a distant second with 14.78% going with it – but together they are over 90% (90.55%) – that means a lot and that tells why there is chronic unemployment rate and why the youth is forced to protest.

Unemployment rate among the young female population is 47%. The global average is 16%. Unemployment rate among the young male population female is 24%. The global average is 13%.

In 2014, unemployment among youth in the Arab region exceeded twice the global average – the situation is expected to worsen by 2019.

By 2020, the Arab region needs to create 60 million new jobs to cater to the rising number the young, working age population.

Young people are coming of age in a context of widening income disparities, increasing inequality of opportunity, slowing average growth and shrinking job opportunities. These problems are weakening their commitment to preserving government institutions and their desire to participate in a political world that does not meet their needs or their expectations.

From:
Arab Human Development Report 2016
Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality

ARAB SPRING 2.0: ANOTHER ARAB AWAKENING COMING?

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is a bit modified and extended.

“The prospects of young people in the region are, now more than ever, jeopardized by poverty, economic stagnation, governance failure and exclusion, all compounded by the violence and fragility of the body politic.”

That, we can say is the central theme of the latest Arab Development Report (ADR 2016) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently.

UNDP, so far, has released six ADRs and the themes of the reports say how the condition has worsened in region from 2002 to 2016. The first ADR, in 2002, was themed on opportunities, while the latest one, in 2016, raises tough questions on the very real possibility of yet another round of the Arab revolution or awakening, five years after the Arab Spring of 2011.

WILL IT BE ARAB SPRING 2.0?

It seems so if we go by the findings of the latest ADR – “Arab Human Development Report 2016: Youth and the Prospects for Human Development in a Changing Reality”.

The 2011 Arab Spring was largely youth driven who were well connected through social media. They were staring at a blank when it came to future security. Five years later, the Arab unemployment rate remains abysmally low. At 30%, it is double the global average. Moreover, today’s youth are more educated and more connected but less employable. The discontent is brewing.

The ADR says, “Events in the region since 2011 have demonstrated the ability of young people to initiate action and catalyse change. They demonstrated young people’s awareness of the serious challenges to development posed by current conditions, and their ability to express the dissatisfaction of society as a whole with those conditions and its demands for change. These events also revealed the depth of the marginalisation that young people suffer and their inability to master the instruments of organised political action that could guarantee the peacefulness and sustainability of such change.”

The youth in the region are cursed to live in a region of despotic leaders that, with a population base of just 5% of the world, has seen 14% of the world’s terror. The corresponding data set is even worse. The Arab region has 57.5% of the world’s refugees and 47% of the world’s internally displaced. The region saw the world’s 68.5%% of battle related deaths from 1989 to 2014. The global average is 27.7%. Average military expenditure per capita of the region is over 65% of the global average. The report indicates rapidly increasing conflict zones in the region and says by 2050, 3 of 4 Arabs would be living in the high conflict zones.

IT LOOKS SCARY

Such abysmal figures tell of a bleak future, especially for its youth who have even fewer opportunities than 2011 and are now compartmentalized in different conflict zones and are therefore unable to move, the report says. And they are the largest chunk of the Arab population – two-thirds of them are below 30 years.

And they have nowhere to go. The report writes, “Young people’s awareness of their capabilities and rights collides with a reality that marginalises them and blocks their pathways to express their opinions, actively participate or earn a living. As a result, instead of being a massive potential for building the future, youth can become an overwhelming power for destruction.”

The report paints a worrying scenario, “Youth in the Arab region suffer to varying degrees as a result of the state of human development. Young people feel deeply anxious about their future and are gripped by an inherent sense of discrimination and exclusion. Many of them do not receive good education, find suitable employment, or have appropriate health care. Moreover, youth in Arab countries are insufficiently represented in public life, and have no meaningful say in shaping policies that influence their lives.”

THEY ARE NOT VOTING..BUT THEY ARE PROTESTING..

When we see the youth voting rate, at 68.3%, it is lowest in the world. The global average is 87.4%. But it doesn’t mean that they are not participating in the sociopolitical processes. They are voting less but are protesting more. It means they don’t have faith in the existing governments. According to the report, over 18% of the Arab youths participated in protests in 2013, almost double of the global average of 10.8%.

What other options do they have? A region run by ruthless military rulers or monarchs that believes in spending more on arms and terrorism than human development, as the figures above say, was waiting for this to happen. All was well till easy oil money was there, as the state could co-opt the dissenting voices, while building palaces and businesses of those who roamed in the power corridors. It is well known that most outfits and jobs in the Arab countries are in the government sector. But now, as the oil prices are historically low and future looks grim on price revisions despites the oil producing block OPEC’s repeated attempts, that easy option is gone.

The report says, “The gains in human development rarely translated into gains in productivity and growth because the model trapped human capital in unproductive public sector jobs, while building up a pyramid of privilege that gave economic advantages to companies and individuals closely linked to decision makers and reinforcing structural alliances among political and economic elites so they could protect their own interests. Ultimately, the model supported individuals from cradle to grave, but bequeathed a negative legacy.”

2011 ARAB SPRING

The 2011 Arab Spring had swept the Arab world in the Middle East and North Africa but it remained far from achieving its desired end. It resulted in removal of four despotic rulers – in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen – ongoing civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya – and series of large scale protests in Bahrain, Algeria, Somalia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco and many other Arab countries. Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer which is ruled by a strict monarchy, also saw protests and its echoes are still felt with its continued purge of dissenting voices. In January this year, the country executed 47 people including Nimr al-Nimr, a Shiite Arab Spring voice.

Except Tunisia, nowhere we have seen a successful power transition towards a democratic process. Egypt had a democratically elected government of the Muslim Brotherhood but its fundamentalism pushed people again to protest and now the army is back in the controlling role. Libya and Yemen are dark patches of civil and faction wars. Syria has become the scourge of the modern times pushing the largest contingent of refugees across the world.

The revolution that had begun in 2011 is still half done – and the factors that led to the massive protests then – have become more painful now.

©SantoshChaubey

THE SPECTACULAR FALL OF MORSI: A REMARKABLY SWIFT REALIZATION FOR A NATION OF OVER 84 MILLION

THE ARAB SPRING IS HERE TO STAY

On the expected line, the Egyptian military stepped in, deposed Mohammed Morsi, suspended the Egyptian Constitution and appointed an interim head of the country till the next elections are held.

Millions signed the petition demanding Morsi’s ouster. Millions gathered to protest. Millions shouted slogans of ‘no Morsi’. And millions celebrated in the iconic Tahrir Square and in Egypt when the Morsi’s rule came to an end.

With much less violence than the first Tahrir Square uprising! Spectacular!

This transition or the military coup as some say is still the step ahead in a positive direction in evolution of a multiparty democracy in the most populous Arab Nation.

Apart from the falling economy that Morsi failed to address, the other major complaint of the millions who protested against Morsi was that the government was engaging in ‘Brotherhoodization’ or ‘ikhwaninzation’ of the Egyptian society as an article on CNN says. (Muslim Brotherhood’s Arabic transliteration is al-Ikḫwān al-Muslimūn; ‘Ikhwan’ translates to ‘brothers’.)

Muslim Brotherhood is an influential organization with pan-Arab presence. It preaches and promotes exclusivity of Islamic values as the way of life and has been involved in violent activities to promote its cause. It doesn’t believe in secular democracy. The Brotherhood has been involved in political assassinations and has established militant Islamic organization like Hamas.

The movement was founded in Egypt in 1928. Due to its violent activities, it was banned in 1948. But the organization is still strong in Egypt and has been able to maintain its support base though every successive political establishment in Egypt has worked to suppress it effectively.

Its violent history, a narrow view on democratic values and emphasis on introducing a strict Islamic code as a way of life were worrying factors for the Egyptian thought leaders and for the global community when Morsi won a landslide victory last year to become the first democratically president of the nation.

And one year of Morsi’s rule has proven those worries correct. If Morsi’s victory was landslide, his fall is equally spectacular, too.

Some Arab nations are rich. Some are filthy rich. Many of the 22 Arab speaking nations are not so well-to-do. But almost of the Arab nations are bad places for free thinking souls believing in secular democratic credentials as a way of life.

Most of the Arab nations are not democracies. There are tyrannies. There are monarchies. Their rulers promote strict Islamic code as a way of life as religion helps them in keeping control over the masses. The there are nations torn by civil wars.

Though Egypt was not a democracy, but it was not even a hardliner Islamic state. Having a long ancient history, Egypt has been the cultural representative of the Arab world in the modern times and is one of the most diversified Arab world economies. The nation, though under the authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak for decades, has been in the mainstream of the global geopolitics. In modern times, the Egyptian politicians have been able to keep the state and the politics free from the Islamists and the religious institutions. And that reflects in the social weaving of the nation. And that is reflecting in the aspirations of the agitating nation.

The Wikipedia quotes from a U.S. Library of Congress study:

Many Muslims say that Egypt’s governments have been secularist and even anti-religious since the early 1920s. Politically organized Muslims who seek to purge the country of its secular policies are referred to as “Islamists.”

An article in the New York Times in the high-tide days of January 25 to February 10 protests writes:

Among Arab states, Egypt was the first to make a concerted effort to co-opt its intellectual class, and it has set the standard ever since. Muhammad Ali, who ruled during the first half of the 19th century, conscripted several generations of scholars to import scientific and military knowledge from Europe. These new experts also staffed government schools and edited official newspapers. A state-centered approach to culture persisted through the early part of last century and reached its apogee under the rule of Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Following the Free Officers’ Revolt of 1952, Nasser’s regime nationalized the press, the cinema and most publishing houses, establishing what one historian has termed “a virtual state monopoly on culture.” Mubarak exploited this monopoly for his own needs. During the 1990s, as Egyptian security forces fought a low-level war against Islamist groups in Upper Egypt, the regime did its best to recruit intellectuals to its side.

Egypt has been free of the religious fanaticism that has become the most lethal exporter of the Islamic terrorism in the world. The rich Arab nations are a major source of funding for the Islamic terrorist organizations.

Egypt, being an influential Arab nation, could have been and could be the beginning of the long process to free the Arab people from the autocrats and the monarchs ruling them; from the warlords killing them.

Egypt, indeed, is the best case study and can be the role model for promoting democratic values in an otherwise tyrannical Arab world with state controlled lives or civil wars, be it Saudi Arabia or Somalia.

The world has seen how the Arab Spring rapidly spread in the different Arab countries in a short span of time. Driven by a desperate urge for change and connected by the modern technologies of communication, the developments of one country pushed the thinking of the residents of the next country and the chain was established in no time.

It also shows how the people across the Arab nations are feeling almost similar problems of restricted freedom, borrowed livelihood, fractured social life and no individual viewpoints midst an existential threat.

For this, how the Arab Spring proceeded in Egypt, was important for Egypt, for the Arab world and for the world.

And the rapid rise and fall of Mohammed Morsi is good for that reason. It tells us it is heading in the right direction.

It was increasingly becoming clear that Morsi was not working and was not going to work to promote a secular democracy. He was gradually working towards Islamization of Egypt. In doing so, he messed up an already derailed economy, something that seldom seemed to be his concern. Morsi’s primary concern seemed to be establishing the Islamic rule as preached by the Muslim Brotherhood.

That is a dangerous proposition for the world. Establishment of a strict Islamist rule under the Muslim Brotherhood in one of the most influential Arab nations would work as a boon for the militant Islam and would push back the spirit of democracy in whole of the Arab world many years back and it would negatively affect the ongoing Arab Spring uprisings in other Arab countries.

The concern over the military stepping in and deposing a democratically elected government is valid but its applicability has to be case specific and it doesn’t apply in the Egypt of the day. Barack Obama rightly said that ‘democracy is more than elections’ when he requested Morsi to respond to the protesters.

Egyptians had seen first elections in decades when the elected Morsi. The generation of the voters had never experienced what the democracy was and had no idea what it had to be for them. Also, as some analysts say, the Muslim Brotherhood was the only organized political outfit (with the front – Freedom and Justice Party) when the elections were announced. The generation of voters had no practical experience of the violent past and the anti-secular hardline ideology of the Brotherhood as they had grown seeing the movement suppressed.

The protesters, and the Egyptians, had sought and fought for freedom and a better life during the first Tahrir Square uprising. And one year of Morsi’s rule told them it was not what they had expected from Morsi while voting him in the highest office of the country.

And it was a remarkably swift realization for a nation of over 84 million to realize it and raise voice so effectively deposing Morsi in just a year and the second Tahrir Square uprising is significant for that.

And for the concern of the military taking over, it is a far cry in the present circumstances. The Egyptian military is a stable institution that enjoys popularity in the country and has support from the global powers like the US. They are already an important part of the decision-making process in the Egypt and would not do anything to weaken that base by alienating the internal supporters and by antagonizing the global powers.

The Arab Spring in Egypt has given the country its next step to experiment with the process of establishing a free democracy. Let’s see how it rolls out and let’s pray for it to be headed in the right direction.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TAHRIR SQUARE ERUPTS AGAIN: YET ANOTHER TESTIMONY THAT THE ARAB SPRING WAS NOT A FLUKE

Tahrir Square is in news again witnessing yet another round of the Arab Spring and telling us once more why the Arab Spring was not a fluke.

The eruption of Tahrir Square a year after the successful Egyptian revolution installing a democratically elected government and thus ending the decades old autocratic rule of Hosni Mubarak is a significant development for the Arab Spring and for the world history-in-making.

It is about the orientation of the democratic aspirations and the resolve to demand the complete freedom.

The eruption of Tahrir Square, again, tells us the resolve to breathe free is well on its course.

The wave of fights to see the democratic springs in the Arab countries of Asia and Africa is old and has been dismissed frequently but the recent series of a channeled expression of anger in countries across the Arabian world that began in December 2010, is potentially different as it is inwardly oriented and self-propelled.

It is lethal for the dictators for the movement doesn’t seek leaders. It is built on its own, across the Arab nations, capitalizing on the spiral of silence of the decades. It is built on an urge for change, an urge to breathe free. It is built over the years of the humiliating rule of despots, people who once mirrored their nations with promises of positive change only to become the next in the long list of the Arab world autocrats.

The movements in different countries of the Arab Spring have either no tall leaders or are driven by a number of humble human-like leaders from among us. No superheroes! No larger than life icons! Bravo!

It was not so in the first wave of the Arab revolution that was aimed at ousting the colonial powers. The masses then were unaware of the unseen follies of the in-built imperialism that was the next thing in the Arab nations installing leaders who were mostly the autocrats-in-building.

The intensity with which the movement is building in Tahrir Square, in Cairo and in Egypt again, reminds of the massive protests of last year that ousted Hosni Mubarak and that is heartening.

The Arab Spring saw government changes in four countries, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and induced large and small uprising in many other nations including Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arab, Algeria and Jordan.

Like the ongoing uprisings in many countries of the Arab world, sustenance of which is important for the world, equally important is the trajectory that the revolution is to take place in these four countries witnessing the regime change.

Like the ongoing uprisings in other nations, the regime change in these four countries was just a step up in the revolution that we collectively name as the Arab Spring. Revolution to change the existing systems takes time and the internal chaos in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen is just an element of the process on the path to evolve democratically.

And Egypt being the most significant country of the four due to its geopolitical and economic weight in the Arab world and in the global arena, whatever that is happening here is bound to affect the sentiments in other Arab nations under the watchful eyes of the Spring, and thankfully, the happenings tell a positive story, one year after the successful Arab Spring of Egypt, and on the eve of another massive protest to add more positive colours to that Spring that began blooming in February 2011.

It tells the public is now aware of what they were fighting for and what they needed. One year of Mohammed Morsi’s rule has worried them that the very objective of their fight is being compromised with the Muslim Brotherhood government gradually pushing the country to the orthodox rule of conservative Islam, something the Brotherhood is known for.

The Millions of youth that successfully led the Arab Spring in Egypt had not fought for it. Now, they want Morsi out and have served him the ultimatum and they are not going to budge until Morsi bows out, like Mubarak had to.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/