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

SOCIAL BLOGGING

Now is the time to see Social Blogging as a separate category within the realm of the overall larger social activity that blogging is.

Having said that, the Social Blogging content should involve socially relevant and concerned expressions – whether it for activism – or – it is being in solidarity with – in opposing the unjust.

Bloggers have helped shaping the Arab Spring. They have started speaking for those who can’t speak. Blogging is becoming more and more socially responsible.

Bloggers have lost lives in dictatorial regimes, in restive countries and in orthodox societies. The most recent case in point is Bangladesh.

Social Blogging, in fact, is quite strong in oppressive societies where it gets amplified attention and the process that has begun will only intensify further.

Its next big leap is going to be in societies like India. India is a country that is the world’s largest democracy – a country with a robust democracy – but a country where the democracy has still a long way to go.

And the process will be business-driven, even if we scoff at capitalism! Business will lead communication technology penetration that in turn would arm more and more people with information access. Creating a blog or having an online identity to connect with the world had never been this easy.

Long live social media!

And India, the world’s second most populous country, with projections to have the world’s largest share of middle class in a decade or so, just rejected the initiatives of internet and social media giants like India’s Airtel or Facebook to dominate internet/social media by introducing differential pricing through their networks.

Long live net neutrality!

But its sustainability has to be perennial!

Let’s start a debate first and then a discourse to spread the word about Social Blogging and it’s increasing role and need in societies.

SocialBlogging-4

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

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2015 TO TUNISIA’S NATIONAL DIALOGUE QUARTET: A PERFECTLY LOGICAL DECISION

“The National Dialogue Quartet must be given much of the credit for this achievement and for ensuring that the benefits of the Jasmine Revolution have not been lost. Tunisia faces significant political, economic and security challenges. The Norwegian Nobel Committee hopes that this year’s prize will contribute towards safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and be an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa and the rest of the world. More than anything, the prize is intended as an encouragement to the Tunisian people, who despite major challenges have laid the groundwork for a national fraternity which the Committee hopes will serve as an example to be followed by other countries.”

– The Norwegian Noble Committee, October 10, 2015

Now, for the first time, in its recent history, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has chosen a winner that all would agree to – all who watch geopolitical developments and understand the importance of the ‘Tunisian example’ in a world marred by civil wars, dictatorships and terrorism.

And the press release by the Nobel Committee sums it up logically.

The Nobel Peace Prize has had a controversial history when it comes to selecting its winners. The universal perception is, and the stated reason behind ‘deciding the recipient’ is, that it would ‘recruit’ global attention, its local manifestation, more organizations and more people to the cause that the ‘selected’ person(s)/organization(s) is/are associated with.

That is not the underlying reason always and there have been no assessments on ‘links between yearly selections and intended recruitment results’.

The recent spate of controversies began with the unusual ‘Peace Nobel’ decision to award Barack Obama in 2009, for raising hopes with his elevation as the President of the United States of America (with no ‘such’ past to talk about), and continued with the ‘too late’ decision about the European Union in 2012 and the compromise decision with ‘Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yusufzai’ in 2014.

The 2010 decision to recognize Liu Xiaobo was a much needed step but had its global repercussions with China flexing its muscles at every stage, first in trying to derail the decision, and then exercising its power to affect ‘opinionating’ by many countries.

So, in a way, since 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee had three ‘controversial decisions’ in five years and the committee chose to play safe by naming Malala Yusufzai, again ‘for raising hopes’ and balancing the decision by adding Kailash Satyarthi, a career activist working for children but certainly not the national, regional or global icon, in 2014.

But 2015’s decision to name the National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisia is really apt, is to the point, and is rightly based on geopolitical developments.

Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution that gave rise to the larger ‘Arab Spring’ movement in many countries in North Africa and the Middle East is the only bright spot if we look back at its journey against authoritarian regimes in different countries.

Libya, Yemen and Syria are badly stuck in civil wars. Libya and Syria didn’t see power transitions after the Arab Spring that could keep the countries well on the way of becoming peaceful democracies. The fight to change the regime in Syria has the biggest terror menace since Al Qaeda to control, the Islamic State that has overran vast parts of Syria and Iraq. In Egypt, first it was Muslim Brotherhood, a shady organization, and now a military ruler. In other countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arab which are absolute monarchies, the mass movements have been effectively crushed.

But not in Tunisia!

Tunisia, a small country with ‘not much’ geopolitical stakes, is globally important because it is the only ‘survivor’ of the Arab Spring, the biggest mass movement in the recent history.

‘Survivor’ because there are forces in authoritarian regimes spread across the world, especially in Muslim monarchies, and terror outfits like the Islamic State, that would do all to destabilize Tunisia to create situations like Libya or Yemen or Syria or Egypt – to create situations that would tell the world that the Arab Spring failed to produce any result even in its birth place.

The transition, from Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorial regime to democracy now, has been quite a journey for Tunisia. The journey that began in December 2010 and took first step towards reconstruction in January 2011 had an Islamist party government with its proposed ‘controversial constitution’, political assassinations and widespread protest movements.

But thankfully, Tunisia had strong civil society organizations – organizations that formed this National Dialogue Quartet – organizations that represented workers, activists, lawyers and business outfits.

The four civil society organizations in Tunisia that form the National Dialogue Quartet in 2013 – the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Human Rights League, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, and the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts – played pivotal role in convincing Ennahda, the Islamist party in the government, to step down – and in laying down a roadmap for further (and rightful) democratic transition.

As the Norwegian Nobel Committee says, and as we know, a strong democratic tradition in Tunisia would serve as the reminder to others, in other countries, that what they had fought for.

A successful spring in Tunisia, originating from the Jasmine Revolution, would be a tribute to the fighting spirit that had made the Arab Spring a multi-country movement.

And the world has its tasks cut in ensuring that it happens in Tunisia – helping those who are helping to restore peace and strengthen democracy in the country – given the fact that the destabilizing forces are active to perpetrate terror and chaos – with two large scale terror attacks in Tunisia this year that killed scores – and with radical elements trying to recruit more collaborative hands.

The decision by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2015 to the National Dialogue Quartet of Tunisia should be seen as a logical step towards that.

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

TUNISIA TERROR STRIKE: WHAT IT TELLS

Tunisian hostage crisis, leaving 21 dead in the capital Tunis, was contained within four hours but its aftershocks significantly add to the worries post the emergence of the Islamic State as the most lethal terror outfit and its potential as the most rogue terror export hub in the days to come, if left unchecked.

Because, Tunisia is the only country where Arab Spring remained Arab Spring, surviving an orderly transition from a 24-year old autocracy of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to a parliamentary democracy.

The Arab Spring erupted from Tunisia in December 2010 with self-immolation of a street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, after sustained harassment from the authorities.

The movement was to soon engulf the whole Arab World, the major dots of tyrannies and autocracies on the world map.

And it did happen.

Sustained protest movements brought down dictators in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen.

But apart from Tunisia, the other three countries got entangled in bloody faction wars and terror attacks. They are staring at dark future. Syria’s civil uprising is still one of the bloodiest war being waged. Bahrain’s was brutally crushed. Other countries including Algeria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have effectively defanged the protests.

Except Tunisia, it is indeed an Arab Winter in all other Arab Spring countries.

And a terror strike in that Tunisia – on a building of international importance – adjacent to its national parliament – killing 21 including 17 foreign nationals (all Europeans) – within six months of elections completing the process of transition to a parliamentary republic – is indicative of how sinister the terror footprints are going to be.

The network extends – from Asia to Africa to Europe – from crisis hotbeds and terror infested countries to the advanced ones like the European nations.

With the Tunisia strike, the worrying aspect gets even more disturbing. It’s like identifying targets and waging the war on all continents.

Terrorism in the name of Islam, in the era of the Islamic State, is still not able to touch the American soil post 9/11. That makes Europe the natural choice. After all, any attack on a European country, like the January attack at Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, or terror strikes in other European countries, is an event of global outreach that gives the terror outfits a wider publicity, an increased outreach to recruit more, to claim the world.

Of all European countries, France has been the most involved one in strikes on Muslim terror outfits in the recent history.

Tunisia, being a French colony prior to its independence, coupled with its successful democratic transition through a civil uprising, is an antithesis to what all the terror outfits like the Islamic State espouse.

It’s not that all is well in Tunisia. There are real threats – of increasing radicalization of youth – and of persisting presence of an Al Qaeda offshoot (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb).

But there lies the point.

The Arab Spring has succeeded in Tunisia, an Islamic country, in spite of these threats, fighting them while building up a free society, a democratic country.

Something that could not happen in other Arab countries, a fertile ground for the terror groups operating in the name of Islam.

Tunisia is an example for democratic spirits across the Arab nations – a consistent reminder for the dictators – and a slap in the face of the terror warlords.

And the sinister minds would like to make an example of this example.

Today’s terror strike in Tunis may be a well intended message to both Tunisia and to France and to the larger, free democratic world.

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