برنامج للتبادل باللغة العربية لرواد الديموقراطية الشباب ممول من طرف مكتب مبادرة الشراكة الأمريكية الشرق أوسطية
الجامعة الأمريكية ببيروت، لبنان.. من مارس إلى يونيو 2015
تعلن السفارة الأمريكية بالرباط اعن برنامج رواد الديموقراطية باللغة العربية للنشطاء الديموقراطيين الشباب و رواد الإصلاح الديموقراطي من الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا.
هذا البرنامج ممول من طرف مكتب مبادرة الشراكة الأمريكية الشرق أوسطية ومنظم بشراكة مع الجامعة الأمريكية ببيروت من خلال اتفاق تعاوني مع مدرسة ماكسويل للمواطنة والعلاقات العامة في جامعة سيراكروز. هذا البرنامج يوفر قيمة تذكرة السفر الدولي، التأمين الصحي، السكن ومنحة متواضعة.
سيتم انتقاء من 20 إلى 25 مشاركا من منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال إفريقيا للمشاركة في برنامج يمتد لعشرة أسابيع يكتسب من خلالها المشاركون المهارات الأكاديمية، كما تعطى لهم فرصة العمل التدريبي في مؤسسة سياسية غير حكومية أو منظمة تعنى بالسياسات العامة و سيحظى المشاركون بفرصة التعرف إلى احترافيين في مجال خبرتهم. سينظم البرنامج في لبنان وسيجرى في الفترة الممتدة ما بين مارس إلى يونيو 2015 باستضافة الجامعة الأمركية ببيروت.
من يمكنه التقدم للمشاركة في البرنامج؟
برنامج رواد الديموقراطية يتطلع للمشاركين الدين يظهرون قدراتهم الريادية واستطاعتهم أن يستخدموا الفرصة المتاحة لهم في هدا البرنامج لإفادة مؤسسة، قطاع أو فئة معينة في دولتهم. يجب أن يتراوح عمر المتقدمين ما بين 25 و 40 سنة، أن يجيدو اللغة العربية ،أن يكونوا حاصلين على شهادة الإجازة أو ما يعادلها و 5 سنوات من الخبرة العملية في مجال المجتمع المدني، سيادة القانون، حقوق الإنسان، تعزيز الديموقراطية و إصلاح قانون الأسرة .
على المترشح أن:
– يكون عمره بين 25 و 40 سنة.
– يكون لديه على الأقل 5 سنوات خبرة عملية في مجال الإصلاح السياسي ,المجتمع المدني، وسيادة القانون، وحقوق الإنسان، وتعزيز الديموقراطية و إصلاح قانون الأسرة، وما إلى ذلك.
– يبدي التزاما ورغبة في مواصلة العمل في هذا المجال مستقبلا والتزام مماثل ليكون رائدا للتغيير الإيجابي داخل بلده.
– أظهر مهارات القيادة مع مرور الوقت وقدرته على تطبيق الفرص المقدمة في هذا البرنامج بطريقة من شأنها أن تعود بالفائدة على منظمة، قطاع، أو مجتمع معين.
– لديه مستوى من اللغة العربية يخول له العمل بنجاح في الجامعة اللبنانية الأمريكية وداخل بيئة مهنية.
– حاصل على الأقل على شهادة الإجازة وأظهر قدرته على النجاح في بيئة أكاديمية مكثفة.
المرجو على كل الراغبين في التقدم لبرنامج رواد الديموقراطية ملأ الاستمارة الالكترونية على الرابط: هــنــا
المرجو ارسال استفساراتكم على البريد الالكتروني firstname.lastname@example.org
آخر أجل لقبول الطلبات هو منتصف الليل يوم الاثنين 08 دجنبر 2014
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: It was early August when the two brazen young men set sail from Tripoli’s port for Turkey, leaving behind their homes in rural Fnaydeq, heading for the Islamic State.
Of the two, the youngest, 16-year-old Mahmoud, was hesitant about the decision they had made when their boat arrived in the Turkish city of Mersin, 400 kilometers from the crossing into Ain al-Arab in Syria. It was this uncertainty that allowed Fnaydeq’s Sheikh Samih Abou Haye to later convince the impressionable youth, over the phone, to forgo the mission and return to Lebanon.
“I told him, ‘You don’t have to do this,’” Abou Haye, a school principal who had once taught the boy, told The Daily Star.
The number of Lebanese flocking to join the ranks of the extremist group is on the rise, according to accounts from local authorities, experts and residents in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley. Of those known to be fighting under the banner of ISIS, most hail from Sunni areas with endemic unemployment, where anti-Assad sentiment has historically run high.
Abou Haye, too, blames disorganization within Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s highest Sunni authority, for allowing misinformation about Islamic teaching to proliferate.
“There have been Lebanese recruits to ISIS, and the Nusra Front, well before the Arsal clashes,” said Basel Idriss, an FSA commander in Arsal acquainted with militants belonging to both groups. But according to the Carnegie Middle East Center’s Mario Abou Zeid, the number of recruits increased “massively,” after the clashes.
“This is part of [ISIS’] military strategy, to open up several fronts and expand,” Abou Zeid said, adding that about 100 men had been recruited since August, from Arsal, Tripoli and southern Sunni districts.
“It’s a huge operation,” he said, with new recruits instructed to form sleeper cells in Lebanon. “They are getting paid; without money they would not be able to mobilize and ensure loyalty.”
Family members of Lebanese who died fighting told The Daily Star that they had simply disappeared one day.
Many parents only learned about the fate of their sons after receiving a phone call informing them that they had been martyred.
Those who knew Sayyed, including the town’s mayor, described him as intelligent and austerely religious. He died two credits short of earning an engineering degree. “The last time I saw him, he was praying at the mosque,” said Khaldoun Taleb, the town’s mayor.
Sayyed came from an Army family. His father is still a serviceman. The soldier Ali al-Sayyed, who was beheaded by his ISIS captors in Arsal, was his cousin. But the mayor brushed off contrarieties. “If the government doesn’t do something [to create opportunities for youth] then more will be lining up to fight for ISIS,” he said.
The Fnaydeq boys were primed by online recruiters, who engaged them in forums, according to the sheikh. In the northeastern border town of Arsal, by contrast, with militants positioned on the outskirts, youths are approached directly. Ghaith Ahmad Nouh, 18, an Arsal native, was recruited some months ago and killed in a mosque Sept. 30 in Syria’s Hassakeh governorate during airstrikes in the region.
“He is a victim, of course, of terrible economic conditions and the government’s foot-dragging,” a relative of Nouh’s said. “The people here are very poor, and young men need money, which ISIS is willing to give.”
According to the relative, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from the militants, Nouh made several trips to Syria, crossing from established supply routes in Arsal, before his death last month. “ISIS has people in the town, and they recruit people,” he said. “They obviously tricked him into going there.
“They are trying to change our mentality and our identity. And if I don’t dare say these things publicly, because they would threaten me or kidnap me the very next day.”
He estimates that nearly 100 men had joined the group in recent months, ensnared by certain sheikhs in the town, who expound on the group’s exalted purpose, and lured with the promise of a $500 starting monthly salary, in an area where spillover from Syria has cut off access to industry, namely fruit farming and stone-quarrying. Local authorities said unemployment stood at an overwhelming 85 percent.
Nouh’s father worked in a sawmill and struggled to make ends meet, but the boy found respite with a local sheikh, whom the relative claimed spouts radical sermons to embolden potential recruits. “His parents thought that their kid was going to the mosque to pray, but instead he was being taught how everyone is an infidel.”
According to local accounts, the group has a handful of recruiters in Arsal, young men between the ages of 16 and 30, who promote ISIS membership as a religious cause, and offer promises of financial stability and, as Nouh once told a relative, women.
At one point, he convinced his teen cousin to go to the mosque with him. “I noticed a change in my son, and when he told me about the sheikh’s teachings I forbade him to go,” the boy’s father said.
Hardly anyone came to the young man’s memorial, after his parents, distraught by the news of his death Tuesday, announced that they were accepting condolences.
In Tripoli’s Qibbeh neighborhood, by contrast, spirits were high at the memorial for Khaled Ahmad Ahdab, a Lebanese ISIS fighter who died in Iraq this week. Two ISIS flags fluttered by the Hamza Mosque roundabout, as dozens of men streamed inside to pay their respects, laughing and hugging one another by the entrance. Women held a private reception at the family home.
“He used to call me his big brother,” Abu Khaled said, standing by the mosque door. “No one except his father knew where he went. He didn’t like to publicize himself.”
A call to “congratulate” the Ahdab family was plastered at every corner of the neighborhood. Typed in a bold black-and-white, it began with a verse from the Koran: “Do not consider those who died in the name of God as dead,” with a picture of the deceased jihadist, also known by his nom du guerre Abu Hamza, wearing a skullcap and pointing to the heavens with a raised index finger.
“The Islamic State is here to stay,” cried a young man, leaving the mosque.
Ahdab’s death was extolled, a reaction deemed “normal” by a prominent local sheikh, who is also a relative of the young man.
“The community has welcomed the news because the man [Ahdab] did his lawful duty,” Sheikh Zakaria Abed Razzak al-Masri, an uncle of the young man, said. “He was able to carry out this duty, while other people cannot. So they consider him a martyr.”
According to the sheikh, Ahdab’s body will be buried in Iraq where he died. “Before he left, he spoke about how everyone needs to go, then one day he did,” he said.
Despite widespread poverty in Qibbeh, where some 30 percent live on less than $4 a day, Masri ruled out a financial motive spurring Ahdab’s decision to go to Iraq.
The sheikh recalled how often Ahdab would criticize the complacency of other Arab countries toward the Syria crisis, and the plight of Sunnis in northern Iraq. “Religion demands us to stand with the oppressed against the oppressor. His commitment to faith, morality and humanity pushed him to go.”
Ahdab’s memorial in Tripoli took place on the same day as Sayyed’s memorial in Fnaydeq.
“Men excited to leave, who hear that someone like them has died in Syria, are not affected by the news. They go well aware that death is highly likely,” the mayor of Fnaydeq said.
“Sayyed’s death, for instance, will not stop others from going.” – With additional reporting by Edy Semaan, Hashem Osseiran
With no introductions, here is my personal take on the Egyptian recent developments:
Well I disagree with the way they brought Morsi down; if it’s going to be a democracy, then let the impeachment be through the voting ballots, not through a military coup in a country divided heavily. It is easy to miscalculate what a majority is when we use as references pictures of thousands or millions marching and chanting against the president, but truth be said, millions in a country of 80 million individual is far from statistically meaning anything, especially when those media are politicized and when TV stations supporting the president are closed down systematically.
Even if scores of the population went down against Morsi, he still have as many supporting him, and throwing the votes of the millions who voted for the Islamist president down the trash is not only a slap against what democracy is standing for, but is also an open invitation for direct confrontations that can easily escalate into a civil war. Indeed the brotherhood failed in dealing with several issues of economic or political nature, but isn’t it the case for most democracies and political governing systems throughout the world? The day an elected government manages to tackle all domestic challenges and successfully address them, then we’d have achieved that utopia no one talks about except in books of fiction. A military take over and mass detentions of Brotherhood figures doesn’t seem to be an achievement of a popular will, but most likely seems to be a rushed reaction to deal with an uneasy transition, something prone to cause an even greater crisis given the stigmatization it has brought against Political Islamism and the alienation of a segment of the population’s will or political choice.
Some may argue that the political environment, as well as the judicial and institutional realities of Egypt may have prevented a democratic action to impeach the president or to bring on early elections, but let us remember that the Egyptian people were the ones voting for Morsi in the first place, and the ones taking on their disapproval to the street didn’t allow the president elect a fair period at the helm of the government to actually produce results. One year is not enough to judge a president (that is why in most democracies’ presidential terms span from 3 to 5 years), especially someone who took office after a revolution, an economy in the red and security in jeopardy.
Egyptians may have set the bar too high, and it’s impossible for a president or a government to fix everything in an entire chaotic country the first months; transitions are hard and demanding, but Egyptians appear to forget that the nation is gathering itself out of a regime meltdown and is in a re-evaluation phase where all principles of governance and political institutions are put under scrutiny and reconstruction.
Maybe the Muslim brotherhood is not that good in many respects, but the reality is that they are the most organized and they won the elections. If the Egyptians are against them, then let them show it through political parties and political participation.
The best way to oppose some political or ideological organization in a democracy is to organize and face them in the battlefield, aka the elections; making a mess, encouraging anarchy or getting the military involved never solves anything but just brings the country to the brinks of a civil war.
Many you argue with tend to delegitimize the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood by invoking that their supporters are mostly residents of rural areas and are not fully aware of the Brotherhood’s lack of good governance and whatnot, yet this argument seems close to a self-condemnation because the very people who preach it disregard an important question: If the rural areas are so blinded into voting for the devil himself, then why didn’t the previous regime or the numerous NGOs set a comprehensive framework to spread awareness to rural areas or improve their living conditions as to draw them away from the Brotherhood’s grip? It is easy to point fingers, find excuses, and fall into a state of arrogance where we categorize a segment of the population as worthy of the right to choose their political representatives while denying it to others.
What is alarming in the current Egyptian crisis is the far reaching implications it has on the MENA region and the Sahel. Political Islam has always been stigmatized because of its tendency to promote violence and preach a bloody agenda of extremism, ultra-conservatism and anti-human rights policies, yet when the Political Islam renounced violence in the post Arab Spring through the participation of Islamist factions in the political life (something they have been banned from doing), the reaction from the street and from a certain segment of the population has been outright rejection of their legitimacy and reactionary refusal of an agenda they didn’t even have the chance to assess because of the many prejudices held against it.
Political Islam now is being given another excuse to lose hope in democracy and democratic tools of participation. The rule of law, although preached and professed to be for everyone now appears to be an exclusive right of the secular, the liberal and is forbidden for Islamist models of rule. This leaves no other means for the Islamist to voice their opinions and shape politics other than through violence, which is why the West, championed by the US is reluctant on approving of the military’s move given the disastrous implications it can set in motion in the future.
After Algeria and Palestine, Egypt joins the club of countries where the military unlawfully deposed a democratically elected government shaped by Political Islamist agendas, and the consequences as in these nations is a return of extremist violence, something which we already started witnessing in the Sinai where armed operations against the military are being conducted by Islamist factions.
Closing TV channels to prevent the Brotherhood from decrying the military takeover, rounding up their key figures and claiming that major cities are the only representative of the Egyptian will stems from a fear that Political Islam may become the key force driving politics and Egyptian domestic affairs, a turn event that is far from making the strongholds of corruption happy, and is sure to threaten the economic empire of the military as it did in Turkey with the AKP.
Egypt is in a turning point, and much of the region’s future development will be shaped by what actions are set in action in Egypt during the crisis. Be it a civil war, a return to armed confrontations, a radicalization of the Muslim brotherhood and its operations or a return to civilian rule through the restoration of the president elect are all potential outcomes that can either build or break modern Egyptian democracy, or at least the nation’s stability and security.
Mohamed Amine Belarbi
The last few weeks have been generous in events and catastrophes, from the Boston bombings to the Iraqi bloodshed, from the attack in Libya against the French embassy to the Somali terror wave and the Iranian devastating earthquake, yet the landmark that has been highly overlooked and is of critical importance is the suspected use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The French, British and Israeli intelligence community were affirmative in proclaiming that Assad’s regime indeed had recourse to chemical weapons against the rebels, and the allegations were soon to be followed by several pictures of Syrian casualties presenting symptoms of chemical poisoning which the White House deemed possible yet not supported by clear and irrevocable evidences.
Deemed a “red line” not to be crossed and a “game changer” by Obama, the systematic use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime seems to be a victorious challenge to the current administration who cannot but push away the red line further, hoping that Assad would deign cross it and save the US another humiliating and embarrassing stance.
As much as it seem that a potential intervention is unlikely giving the cautious rhetoric of Washington, the events on the ground suggest a wholly different approach. The US has witnessed the last week a convening of various Arab leaders who, by coincidence or design, have been scheduled in the oval office for private talks with the president at around the same time period. From the Emirati crown prince of Abu Dhabi to the leaders of Qatar and Jordan, the choice Obama made is highly strategic since these countries are the main regional players in the Syrian conflict, described by Fox News as “believed to be arming or training the rebel forces that are seeking to overthrow the Syrian government” in a recent article tackling the meetings Obama held with the aforementioned leaders.
The timing of the meetings and the announcement of the usage of Chemical weapons by the Syrian government suggest a covert preparation for an imminent action in Syria. If the evidence about a determinate US plan to intervene military against Assad are blurry, the arguments for such action are not lacking with regards to US interests and national security imperatives.
The chemical weapons stockpiled in Syria are significant in numbers, to the extent that it is believed and assessed by various intelligence communities that “The Syrians have one of the largest chemical weapons arsenals in the world.” Chemical weapons are the main source of alarm for the international community when it comes to the Syrian conflict, first because of the prevalent presence of Al Qaeda affiliates in the battle ground and their noted superiority in combat and organization, and second because of the ease of use and deployment of chemical weapons in terrorist incidents as in the 1995 subway Tokyo attacks.
The Al Nusra rebel front, one of the most powerful factions battling Assad’s regime and by far its most radical, didn’t hide its allegiance to Al Qaeda as not only a small part of the network, but as significant enough to rush the Al Qaeda in Iraq into a merger with the Islamist jihadist cell. The merger was announced by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, head of the Islamic state in Iraq, who proclaimed: “We announce the abolition of the Islamic state of Iraq’s name and Jabhat Al-Nusra’s name and their amalgamation in one state under one name: The Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant.”
The news stirred a wide controversy regarding the armament of Syrian rebels, an armament pursued with eagerness by Qatar and Co who cannot wait to see Assad regime falling apart. Yet the issue of channeling the weapons to the right people is of little concern compared to the chemical weapons acquisition. The weapons delivered to the Syrian rebellion are of tactical use and have a low range of destruction, aimed primarily at inducing small-scale, targeted damage, while the chemical stockpile of the Syrian government contains primarily Sarin, a nerve gas agent that can spread over large areas and induce quick death through inhalation. (The Tokyo subway attack stands witness to the deadly effect of Sarin that claimed the lives of 13 Japanese in 1995).
The ambitions of Al Nusra front, and of Al Qaeda de facto, to control and lay hand on chemical nerve agents is no news, yet how close the group is to attain such goal is alarming, and indeed helps explain the sense of urgency the intervention in Syria is prompting in the corridors of the White House.
In a recent article in the Telegraph, Colin Freeman writes:
The fight for al-Safira is no ordinary turf war, however, and the prize can be found behind the perimeter walls of the heavily-guarded military base on the edge of town. Inside what looks like a drab industrial estate is one of Syria’s main facilities for producing chemical weapons – and among its products is sarin, the lethal nerve gas that the regime is now feared to be deploying in its bid to cling to power.
The prospects of the Chemical weapons falling in the hands of extremist groups are recognized to be not only a domestic threat, but also a severe security breach for all regional actors including Israel and the Arab nations. Most probably the chemical weapons would be directed towards the spots where Al Qaeda is mostly present and where the odds for success are in the group’s favor. Iraq, with its weekly ever rising toll of deaths and attacks, would be the first country outside of Syria where the Sarin nerve agent would be deployed given the ability of the Al Qaeda operatives to smuggle the stockpiles into the wrecked country. Securing the chemical weapons is the priority of al Nusra front, and Syria as it stands now is not a safe haven to safeguard the precious prize. The need to move the chemical weapons to Iraq, if ever recovered by extremist cells, is apparent since the deployment of Sarin gas doesn’t need to be in large proportions. The rationing of the Chemical weapons into mobile portable loads carried by individuals for targeted locations is the modus operandi Al Qaeda would adopt given the restricted access it might have to the substance, and from then on the branching out of the chemical agent would take effect until tracking the initial containers becomes a futile intelligence efforts. The network of dormant cells Al Qaeda manages throughout the MENA region and beyond makes from the acquisition of nerve agent a true “game changer” in international terrorism.
Although many would recall the scandal of the “inexistent” Iraqi WMDs to refute the Chemical weapons excuse to intervene in Syria, the difference today is that we are faced with a situation where WMDs existence is not debated but held as a fact. The Syrian Chemical weapon stockpiles and the omnipresence of Al Qaeda affiliates in the battlefield is not debatable, and the recent battles ranging near military bases harboring nerve agents production and stockpiling facilities hint clearly to the possibility that a catastrophe situation might rise at any moment, a catastrophe where later containment is not an option.
Many have started calling for a more strategic approach towards supporting the Syrian rebellion, and it is now more than ever critical to adopt such a strategy if we are to avoid the unpleasant occurrence of a nerve agent attack in an Iraqi mall or a Lebanese public square.
Judging from the available mappings of Syrian chemical facilities, most installations trail along the western border with Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. This geographical occurrence is of high strategic importance: The necessity to control these facilities is easier since most rebel secured areas lay on the western part of the country, and a potential intervention from regional or international corps launched from Lebanon and the Mediterranean shores will allow a quick takeover of the chemical plants to secure and systematically destroy the nerve agents. The establishments of no-fly zone partly over Syria, and specifically over the Western border will enable a constant monitoring of the facilities and an instantaneous response if hostile groups are seen entering the bases.
Moreover, the differing strength of Al Nusra group and the more liberal rebellious factions suggests that the commanders in chief of the free Syrian Army should redirect their efforts and progressions towards the Western border to help secure the stockpiles of chemical weapons, leaving the battle for Damascus and the most costly fights for Al Nusra faction in order to undermine the capabilities of the group and let it bear most casualties and damages in an effort to overtake it financially and logistically in the post-Assad Syria. The redeployment of the free Syrian army fully in the Western part of the country, leaving the Deir Ezor and eastern Aleppo area for the Al Nusra Group will help mildly separate the two rebellious groups and facilitate the directed armament and logistical provision to the Free Syrian army instead of blindly empowering both factions.
The Libyan downfall and the following dispersion of vast amounts of artillery in the region have had a direct effect on facilitating the Malian crisis emergence and AQMI rearmament. Today we are faced with an even more devastating type of weaponry in an area known for its high volatility. The consequences of Chemical weapons falling in the wrong hands will inevitably set new standards for terrorist activities, and will have far reaching impacts regionally and internationally. This is a “game changer” whose significance the US administration and the Arab governments understand very well, therefore the necessity for intervention has turned from a debate into a consensual agreement whose first signals were the series of meetings with Middle Eastern leaders in Washington, and whose ultimate ending will be a dramatic military action in Syria; the road to the final action is and remains convincing an ever skeptical public opinion, a conviction that seems all too well settling down after a tragic set of events that shook the public consciousness and laid a state of fear we have so many times encountered before major military implications in foreign countries.
Mohamed Amine Belarbi
Time for business-executive politics in the MENA region
For decades Arab politics has been an easy ride for the well-established circles that governed states and countries in the MENA region. Whether it is by virtue of blood as in monarchies, money as in oligarchies or simply heavily organized lobbies with a deceiving democratic penchant, the politics our representatives and god appointed leaders engaged in, or lack thereof, has not seen much trepidations or dynamics that would enact a managerial paradigm shift.
Until the outburst of the Arab Spring…
Dictators ousted, oligarchs lynched and awry political institutions brought to a demise, it is more than ever critical to rethink how political engagement and leadership is meant to operate, not because it is now a privilege the Arab societies can afford, but because a transition post Arab Spring to liberal economies and democratic statehood cannot take effect in such a rapidly changing world as the 21st century.
Many could argue that the MENA region is in a natural phase of adaptation to the new realities the street pulse imposed, others would draw the parallel with the French revolution and the consequential bloody transition it endured before evolving into a democracy, yet that would have been the case if we were witnessing a corporate-like adaptation to new consumerism behavior; the reality is that we are now contemplating a damage-control and crisis-containment situation instead of a painful transition forward.
Politics is deeply linked to economics as Karl Marx rightly pointed out in his “Economic Determinism”, and in today’s world, this is even more true given how international trade, politics, business and domestic state management have all molded a unique and fragile system that can be impaired if one of its component goes bust. What I am trying to explain is that the economic environment the Arab Spring imposed on post revolutionary states has made any attempt for democratization unsustainable and non-viable in the short run. Economic recession, plundered foreign currency reserves, soaring unemployment rates and foreign deposits withdrawal are all a deadly recipe that hinders political success and sends approval rates down the pipes. It might seem as if economic troubles are a core part of a democratic transition, yet in a world where economic development is scoring a two digit growth in most parts of the developing world, financial hurdles coupled with political instability just makes it impossible for a country to recover and catch up in time with the speeding train. The public opinion is strikingly showcasing such phenomenon in Egypt and Tunisia where the economics didn’t add up for the casual citizen, bringing the masses from protest to protest with no clear vision of when it will all work as planned when the uprising was structured in the popular consciousness.
The stigma of political affiliation is not making things any easier for recovery. The ideological identity of the various representatives and institutions makes it hard for the public opinion to objectively assess the actions of the leadership, and to allow the state management to take due course. Whether it is the Muslim brotherhood, the seculars or the old regime affiliates, labels are not failing to bring down political efforts to wrap up the mess left behind the uprising. This leads to a state management that focuses not on credentials building, but on active defense of reputations and records from the stinging criticism of the public and from rapacious political opponents who capitalize on the failures of the state.
This allows us to formulate an understanding of the challenges the post Arab Spring imposes, and the potential nature of the solutions that can address such impediments.
The identity stigmatization is best resolved by the adoption of a technocrat system of governance that strips the decision makers from any political or ideological affiliation. A technocrat, not tied as much to approval rates, ideological bias or future political ambitions, can indeed channel more efforts into drafting legislations and tackling the nation’s most pressing issues. Technocrats also have the ability to better resolve the ongoing crisis given their expertise in their respective fields and ability to exploit their professional networks to stir solutions based on third party involvement and contribution. The educated businessman can indeed reach out to the business community and lay a framework for investment that is not tied to a certain political favoritism. The technocrat also, if drawn from the new school of business executives can take choices that lift the economy, education and health upwards regardless of the short-term discontent it creates. The technocrats in short do their job because they are cashing on managerial efficiency, not on political gaming.
Many see the necessity for well-established frameworks, figures and institutions as a pre requisite for state management, yet the importation of the business executives modus operandi to legislative decision making can prove to be a successful undertaking given its enormous impact on actually achieving results, regardless of the ethical reasoning one might have about its collaterals. What the Arab world needs right now are parachuted technocrats, business minded executives who will not stem from the political infertile cultivation fields, but from the likes of Harvard Business school or NYU stern.
What the people want and will always look for is not decent political etiquette, but rather palpable results that can ensure the growth of a prosperous middle class and thriving investment and entrepreneurial ecosystem, although both tend to converge at a certain point. Dubai is a good example of how business minded state management and state capitalism does lead to a prosperous society. Nothing ensures stability and socio economic development like beaming business confidence. If a country knows how to conduct business, then investments, international loans, deposits, economic growth and foreign currency reserves beautifully play along.
Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and hopefully Syria, when the massacre comes to an end, ought to follow the governance trend that is driving the developing world into a surge of growth and progress.
Politics today means business, and those who still want to run countries in the old fashioned way are doomed to a slow and painful death. The train of development doesn’t wait for political reform or ideological fights over power; neither does it choose which stations to stop at. The most critical part is that todays’ train is not the old steam powered vehicle of yesterday, but is a supersonic piece of engineering that cannot be caught up with if missed. What seems to be a right and virtuous struggle for political justice in various Arab countries is an economic suicide in the making, because if one cannot afford a job that puts a piece of bread on his table, little would he earn from going to the street protesting his right for political inclusion in the decision making. There is a moral in labor division, and that is efficiency. If we cannot let the people most qualified for a job take on their responsibilities, and attempt to indulge in fields we have no credentials for, then all we are doing is luring ourselves into a big deception. Stigmatizing technocrats as neo-oligarchs, heartless businessmen, financiers or top down executives is a hobby most of us are good at, but getting the job done is duty we fail at terrifically.
It is time for politics to be conducted like a business, not like a Machiavellian art of alchemy that needs not to be stained with modern world ways of operating. It is time for politicians in the Arab world to go out from their ivory towers and excel in public speaking, pitching, business planning, languages mastery and deals closing the same way their western counterparts are doing… Because those who write bills are Bain Capital, Exxon and JP Morgan, not some old Winston Churchill smoking a cigar and gazing at a massive globe next to his desk.
Mohamed Amine Belarbi
Gaza will crack, 500,000-750,000 people will become refugees in Sinai, Dispersion of Palestinian leadership, and Egypt will be forced into crisis containment status
By Ahmed Alqarout
Gaza is one of the largest fund receivers in the world. The lion’s share of the aid comes from the European Union and the United States. According to estimates made by the World Bank, the Palestinian Authority received $525 million of international aid in the first half of 2010, $1.4 billion in 2009 and $1.8 billion in 2008. Foreign aid is the “main driver” of economic growth in the Palestinian territories especially for the Gaza Strip. In 2012, Qatari Prince Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani has announced a package of 450 million dollars of aid for the purpose of reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
According to a report conducted by the US Congressional Research Service the main interests that US is trying to achieve through its aid to the Palestinians including the Gaza Strip are:
- Combating, neutralizing, and preventing terrorism against Israel from the Islamist group Hamas and other militant organizations.
- Creating a virtuous cycle of stability and prosperity in the West Bank that inclines Palestinians—including those in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip— toward peaceful coexistence with Israel and prepares them for self-governance.
- Meeting humanitarian needs and preventing further destabilization, particularly in the Gaza Strip.
Qatar and EU share mostly the same interests of US. These funds are made to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to support the governmental budget of the Palestinian Authority, to sponsor direct projects through international mechanism, and to NGOs and INGOs.
There is a great source of funding that is unmonitored and not reported that comes to Hamas and Salafi groups in Gaza Strip. These funds are used to pay salaries, to run schools, to build mosques, to conduct charity activities, and in the case of Hamas to support the armed operations of the movement. It is almost impossible to realize how much these funds are or where and how are they made in figures.
It is very clear that Palestinians especially in the Gaza Strip are dependent on foreign aid to survive their daily life and afford their living expenses. Gaza Strip conducts no production activities and has no natural resources to extract and trade.
A question arises, what if the US and EU interest changes and the want to change the rules of the Game? What if US and EU aid stop flooding to Gaza!
Many implications can emerge to shape the possible situation in the Gaza Strip if aid was prevented:
- The overly populated Gaza (1.6 million in 2012, est. 2.1 million in 2020) and under the pressure of a possible Israeli attack will forcefully displace 500,000-750,000 refugees to Sinai who are escaping violence, restrictive land area, and bad economic conditions.
- The Palestinian leadership including Fateh and Hamas will be paralyzed as they do not have any mechanism to respond to such large crisis and no financial resources to deal with its implications and a new populace leadership consisted from newly refugees might be in charge.
- Israel will undertake aggressive attack on the Gaza Strip military capabilities and cause massive destruction for Hamas military infrastructure and civil infrastructure making the Gaza Strip an unlivable place.
- New refugee camps will be established in the desert of Sinai and United Nations agencies will have greater role and interfere with internal Egyptian government policy in Egypt (Sinai specifically).
- Food and clean water crisis will emerge leaving people vulnerable to the scarcity of resources and the start of an internal armed conflict is possible.
- The Egyptian government will be forced into crisis containment status and will be obliged to direct many of its resources towards helping Palestinian refugees in the newly established refugee’s camps in Sinai causing weakness to the Egyptian government.
- The Sinai strategic security position will be under risk and vulnerable to possible Israeli military action. Tension will arise in case of more Salafi Jihadist trying to use Sinai as a basement for armed attacks against Israel. Potential kidnaping for Israeli citizens might cause intolerable situation creating an aggressive Israeli response that might include attacking and occupying part of Sinai.
- As a containment policy, the international community will work on buying more time to ensure that Gazans have been fully displaced from the Gaza Strip to Sinai. International conferences and aid convoys will be held to create a feeling of urgent respond.
It is possible that this crisis will emerge in the upcoming 15 years, but its signs are certainly noticeable now. Also, the recent UNRWA situation report on Gaza, Gaza in 2020: A liveable place? , shares the same concerns with regards to the Palestinians ability to survive the upcoming crisis although, it does not state clearly about possible Gazans displacement towards Sinai.
The Palestinian leadership has to work with their regional supporters to counter possible new refugee’s crisis even though it sounds impossible considering the unstable political, social, and economic situation in the Middle East. A Palestinian Crisis Management Group can be established from experts who are capable of planning and implementing crisis management activities. Youth-led committees should be established and trained on decentralized management, crisis response, and masses migration. Academic research and strategic planning activities should also be considered to investigate possible options and response plans. These steps ought not to be considered as alternatives to already established governmental organs, but rather as complementary capabilities the civil society can make use of when the central government cannot respond effectively to potential crisis.
In terms of decentralization, it is of utmost imperative for both Hamas and Fatah to adopt strategies that will limit both the bureaucracy and the heavily centralized political establishments they operate. It becomes inevitable in times of crisis or conflict that the leadership cannot entirely fulfill its role of economic, political, military, social and religious center of decisions; the case of Hams strikingly confirms such assumptions. The wars that brought Hamas and Israel to direct confrontation pushed all Hamas human resources to direct their efforts towards military maneuvers, disregarding thus the underpinnings results of military confrontation in the fields of economic and social capabilities. In case decentralized policies are adopted, and youth-led committees are established, the duties and responsibilities of the leadership will be far less demanding, allowing Hamas and Fatah leadership to focus on political and military management, while more competent and resourceful committees can take the lead in managing issues and matters of relevance to the social and entrepreneurial fields. Such reforms will enhance the abilities of the central government, and of the population as a whole, to deal with crisis, resource shortage or aid termination more effectively. It will create a social awareness among Palestinians that matters of management are not an exclusive right of closed elites, but are the common responsibility of all.
Yes, we made it, after 30 years in Egypt … 40 years in Libya … 25 years in Tunisia… and 32 years in Syria … we, THE YOUT,H made it; we demolished the system, we destroyed the corruption and we made the sun of democracy rise.
Arab youth made it and they wrote the first chapter in their new democratic history.
I think we have just only one key word that played this important role, and the same keyword will play a new role in developing the society and building the countries. This key word is: “YOUTH”
In Egypt, the formal governmental body in charge of youth issues, the National Council for Youth defines youth as the age group from 18 – 30 years old. This long period of time is due to the fact that large sectors of young people between 18 and 30 in Egypt usually face the same problems and challenges, such as unemployment, poor education, low health awareness and limited access to training, education, volunteering and job opportunities.
But generally the entire Arab region has been experiencing a massive youth bulge, with more than half of most countries’ populations under the age of 25. Young men and women in the Arab region today are the most educated; thus they hold the potential to make a considerable contribution to the development of the region.
“Taking the youth seriously” is not an option but an urgent priority for many countries in the region, a region that has witnessed the readiness and ability of the young men and women to mobilize the society and become an integral part of the social transformations in tandem with the Arab spring in 2011.
So we are here in front of an old concept historically but a new concept practically, and this concept if dealt with academically, we can analyze our situation now that is even after the revolution youth couldn’t make a remarkable development movement, instead limiting its role in to demonstrations without real participation as expected after the Arab spring movements. We can summarize all this in Civic engagement.
There are many challenges in the definition of civic engagement and many scholars and practitioners use a variety of terms to name it, including “social capital, citizenship, democratic participation/ citizenship/practice, public work/public problem solving, political engagement, community engagement, social responsibility, social justice, civic professionalism, public agency, community building, civic or public leadership. The lack of clarity about what is meant by civic engagement fuels a latent confusion about how to put a civic engagement agenda or implement a concrete action plan.
It is legitimate to ask ourselves a series of existentialist questions about whether civic engagement is a process for skill development, a lifestyle, a program, a pedagogy, a philosophy, a strategy, a system, a structure, a chain of values? Can it be all of these?
Irrespective of the semantic confusion, civic engagement involves one or more of the following: accepting and valuing diversity, building cross-cultural bridges, participating actively in public life and community service, developing empathy, social responsibility and philanthropy and promoting social justice.
Civic engagement is not just some quotes but we may consider it as a life style and if we implement and embed this concept strongly in our educational system, especially in universities, we will be able to do miracles, but I think the road is not that easy, we have lots of obstacles, difficulties may face us, difficulties that may be summed up as follows:
⁃ Culture: we still in Egypt have a problem with civic engagement as most of the parents are afraid from any kind of political and social engagement, mainly because they lived more than 30 years of suppression where any one wanted to start any initiative ended up with the prison as final destination.
⁃ Educational system: the children in school are totally away from such a concept. They aren’t raised on any kinds of participative values and there is no channel to seed even the desire of participating.
⁃ Nature of initiative: most of youth initiative is charitable and they do not separate between real civic education and charity work like visiting orphans and so on, there is a huge difference between both types of engagement ventures and activities.
⁃ Financial needs: most of the movements or initiative need funding and financial support, but we are here in a poor environment in terms of funds and financial sources, thus lots of projects cannot find a chance of being implemented because of a lack of resources.
⁃ Governmental support: the Egyptian government is not helpful. Not just only that, it also may stop lots of youth movements because of political and social reasons.
⁃ Misunderstanding of priority: Egyptian society doesn’t have till now a common agenda with listed needs. We miss the collaboration of ideas, and we also lack a united database that makes us totally isolated from one another.
⁃ Lack of high level of technology: which affects the speed of communication and the reaching out to foreign experience. This leads to consuming more time and cause unneeded costs.
In spite of all the previous obstacles, we should mention also how we can overcome those problems by introducing several steps:
1. Self – mindfulness: being mindful of self and others means listening to your inner voice, identifying your areas of strengths and weaknesses, and finding ways to connect with others on meaningful social issues. It is therefore crucial that the youth undergo leadership training based on self-reflection learning so that they discover their preferences and callings. Some particularly helpful self-assessments include:
“Myers –Briggs Type Indicator”, “Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior”, “SPEED of Trust Audit” and “Emotional Intelligence Self- Appraisal”.
2. Awareness campaigns must be carried out and directed towards youth themselves in order to inform them of the importance and the significance of their role in their society. Moreover, awareness campaigns should be directed towards parents in order to inform them of the importance of endorsing values of citizenship and active participation in the domestic affairs. Finally, education should play a positive role in raising awareness through educating youth about concepts of citizenship and the importance of their participation as means to achieve growth and development in their country. This education should not only be theoretical, but should give youth and children the chance to experience this participation in schools, university projects or “service learning projects”.
3. Proper channels of communication should be created in order to allow youth to voice their ideas, opinions, motivations and disappointments. This would increase the sense of belonging amongst them and drive them to participate in a civil society that respects their presence and admits their involvement. In addition, it is equally important to give youth fair representation in the civil society (according to their number) in order to enforce their role and to elevate their proactive sentiments.
4. Finally, regarding the problem of the existence of a knowledge gap in this particular area of study, we recommend increasing research efforts of scholars in this discipline. We also recommend that universities, institutions of higher education and other research institutions help, support and direct their students and scholars in conducting research that studies the youth psyche, assess the conditions needed to motivate the youth into participating in their civil society and create solutions to efficiently use youth efforts to maximize the benefits.
Egyptian Institute for Youth Policy Making
Conflicts are nothing new for the Arab world, yet the Western Sahara conflict is an ongoing silent war that has been niching in Norther Africa for almost 4 decades. The following paper by our president is an attempt to draw attention to the Western Sahara Conflict, its underlying complexities and challenges, as well as a comprehensive resolution model that can bring the issue to an end.
Full Paper: What political model for the resolution of the Western Sahara Conflict
by Mohamed Amine Belarbi
- 1. Introduction: The necessity to find a solution
The necessity to find a solution for the Western Sahara Conflict is now becoming more pressing than ever. Many countries are entrenched in the conflict and do not allow for solutions to surface. My research of the past solutions led me to analyze the flows and weaknesses which led to the failure of every model; hence my resolution template advocates a win-win situation that I intend to advance through a model which I will develop in this assessment. This outcome I maintain would serve the nationalist interests of the Sahrawi struggle and the economic needs necessary for the Moroccan stability.
- 2. International extension of the conflict:
The conflict of Western Sahara is far from being a regional conflict where only Morocco and the Polisario front are involved in. The issue is a complex geostrategic game where not only the known parties are present, but where the international community and precisely the western super powers are actively involved in securing interests and benefits.
As Toby Shelley mentioned in his book, “Exploration, evaluation and exploitation of resources run through the plot of the modern history of the Western Sahara. From the late 1940s the spotlight was on phosphates; from the mid-1970s fishing rights grew in importance; now oil – always in the wings – has taken center stage. In future, it could be vanadium.” 
The United States in one part, has an important tactical approach in dealing with the case of WS, since while complying with international laws in not recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, the U.S nonetheless backs the Moroccan position by closing its eyes over the illegal aspects of the Moroccan presence in the territory and protecting their ally in the Security Council by opposing any actions able to condemn Morocco by the international community. This can be easily understood in the framework of the American foreign policy philosophy, clearly pictured by the famous proverb: “The USA doesn’t have friends, the USA has only interests”. These interests, mainly in the domain of counter terrorism and Islamism control, have led the USA to stay careful in not allowing any disturbance of the Moroccan regime who proved over the years to be a fervent server of the US interests in the region.
Another major player in the Sahara dossier is France, Morocco’s primary ally. After Moroccan independence in 1956, France didn’t leave the country totally, since the interests of the country in Morocco had to be preserved, and so the French administration made sure to leave a complying regime with the French wishes in keeping a tight grip over the many political and economic interests abounding in the region, especially in Western Sahara.
The phosphate exploitation, the fisheries resources and the hypothetical presence of oil has led major countries to approve the situation in Western Sahara and to back Morocco up, and this support has been countered with generous concessions from the Moroccan authorities, be it through the advantageous fisheries agreements with the EU, passing by the military and intelligence cooperation in counter terrorism with the US, without forgetting the phosphate provisioning for the world industries at appealing rates.
This being said, the Polisario finds support as well from international players who try to overcome the western influence in the dossier, and among these states Algeria and Libya, followed by several Latin American and African countries.
Algeria, considered as the Big brother who dictates Polisario behavior, has more than once expressed its intent to bring Morocco’s quest for regional hegemony to an end, hence supporting the major military resistance to the kingdom through logistical and financial backing of the Polisario. But the strategic plan of Algiers doesn’t stop at a simple North African supremacy, but extends to economic benefits in seeing the emergence of an independent state in Western Sahara, and that is explained by the need of Algiers administration to find a corridor leading to the Atlantic Ocean instead of keeping one maritime door on the Mediterranean.
This international interest in the regions’ resources led to a stagnating situation were resolution attempts were doomed to fail, and one of these failures is the referendum which never took place.
A revision of the previously proposed solutions imposes itself in order to examine and thus conclude what led to the failure of these attempts, and to furthermore understand what makes my model stands out in comparison with notably the Referendum and the Autonomy Plan.
Our President’s latest essay on Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy, its flaws and potential setbacks in the MENA Region can be consulted at the following address:
The full article: Mitt Romney’s Foreign Policy Flaws
hesitant to trust us”. Affirming that American weakness is the true motivator of the anti-American tensions unfolding in the Middle East is a narrow appreciation for the politics shaping the Middle Eastern mindset. The tense relations with the Afghan and Pakistani population are not the result of lack of military personnel in the region but the direct outcome of inconsiderate usage of drone attacks on terrorist targets and civilian gatherings. The defiance of China is not the upshot of lack of naval military units in the pacific but the consequence of economic leverage of the Chinese industry. As Obama pointed it out during the last presidential debate when addressing Romney’s call for increased budgetary allowances to the Pentagon, “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.” Romney has to redraft the foreign policy of the US not along military quantitative intensification but through diplomatic active performance throughout the Globe in order to achieve what cannot be done through military might. Military intervention in Iran will have devastating effects with only an ephemeral gain to delay Iranian nuclear ambitions, yet active collaboration with world players can coordinate effective economic sanctions that can and are already crippling Iranian financial sector. Todays’ world, today’s distribution of power and today’s multinational ambitions for influence and control render the Reaganesque peace-through-strength obsolete and irrelevant to the dynamics of world affairs. The winner takes it all strategy that Romney intends on pursuing is not realistic given the existence of governments and third parties that are powerful enough to claim their share of the global cake.
Now the full document can be consulted entirely in PDF format in Scribd and Issuu.
This document is the intellectual property of both Mohamed Amine Belarbi and the Arab Institute for Youth Policy Making. Any copy or redistribution of part or of the entire essay ought to include a reference to both parties. This essay is referenced as a publication of the AIYPM sourcing in its branch in Morocco, the MIYPM.
You can consult the AIYPM blog on the following address: www. aiypm.co.cc