Arab youth vent their anger at broken economic promises

Unemployment and lack of reforms underpin protests in Middle East and north Africa

When Lebanon imposed a fee on WhatsApp calls to boost government coffers, it was another example of Arab politicians misreading the public mood. Within hours, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese were on the streets, their disillusionment with their leaders exploding to the surface as mass protests erupted in Beirut and other cities. It was just the latest example of the rage simmering across the Arab world as ruling elites oversee rotten political systems that fail to deliver basic economic needs.

Last month, it was the redeployment of a popular commander of Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces that sparked the worst unrest in Baghdad for years. Before that, it was a little-known contractor’s diatribes against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egyptian president, and allegations of corruption that provoked rare protests in one of the Middle East’s most oppressive states.

The trigger points were different and each country has its own dynamics. But the roots of the anger are similar and echo those that fuelled the uprisings that rocked the Arab world in 2011: leaders failing to meet the aspirations of their youthful populations.

Experts have long warned about the fragility of the status quo in the Middle East and north Africa, a repressive region blighted by rampant youth unemployment.

Protesters in Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt all chanted similar mantras: regimes must fall. In Jordan, demonstrations last year forced the prime minister from office. In April, popular demonstrations toppled two veteran leaders within days — Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Abdulaziz Bouteflika in Algeria. Protests continue in the latter.

“As long as there is inequality, social injustice and marginalisation — political and economic — and corruption, nepotism and patronage exists, the people will not stop,” said Dalia Ghanem Yazbeck at the Beirut-based Carnegie Middle East Centre. “Their patience has reached its apex and they want change.”

As the outrage mounts, so too the social pressures. About 60 per cent of the region’s population is aged under 30. The IMF estimates that 27m youths will enter the labour market over the next five years.

The region’s average economic growth since 2009 has been one-third slower than the previous eight years. Per capita incomes have been “near stagnant” and youth unemployment has “worsened significantly”, the IMF says.

The state is the largest employer in many countries. But young jobseekers complain that patronage networks act as barriers. Many governments, meanwhile, have pushed through austerity measures to narrow budget deficits and keep rising debts in check. But that has meant slashing food, fuel and energy subsidies, squeezing household budgets.

All the while, ruling elites and their cronies are seen to enjoy opulent lives with zero accountability.

Mohamed Ali, the contractor who posted videos that encouraged the Egyptian protests, ranted about the palaces being built by Mr Sisi and the state funds wasted on vanity projects.

Saad Hariri, the billionaire prime minister of Lebanon, a country gripped by its worst economic crisis in years, was recently embarrassed by revelations that he paid $16m to a South African model before he took office.

In Iraq, there are perennial complaints that the system produces weak coalitions that foster rampant corruption, while failing to deliver the development that Iraqis were promised after the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein.

Often, the uprisings are crushed by force. In Egypt, more than 3,500 people have been arrested since September. In Iraq, more than 100 people died amid reports of demonstrators being targeted by snipers.

In Lebanon, the government reversed its decision to impose a fee on WhatsApp calls and announced reforms. The protests continue.

Governments have little choice but to push through economic reforms. Lebanon, for example, is burdened with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 150 per cent, dwindling foreign reserves and a stagnant economy. But, as long as measures are imposed by regimes lacking political accountability and failing to address people’s anger over injustices, Arab leaders will continue to stoke the flames of unrest.

Written by Andrew England


Students are Algeria’s pride

By Yacine M

On Tuesday the 16th of April, thousands of students braved the streets of Algiers and other cities to demand the fall of the corrupt regime. They are Algeria’s unsung heroes.

Algerians can be proud, very proud of their youth. Despite the repeated attempts by Algeria’s prime minister Noureddine Bedoui, potentially the Mexican cartels’ African connection, as we’ve seen in a recent article and to a large extent Algeria’s Baltaji-in-chief, to intimidate our youths using brutal and treasonous methods, their unflinching mobilisation not only remained intact but increased as we’ve witnessed during Tuesday’s demonstrations.

Let me let you something right off the bat, these same secret service officers if faced with a real trained police force, would put their weapons on the floor, hide and beg for mercy, just as we saw during the Iraq invasion with Saddam’s “elite” forces. They act tough only when facing unarmed civilians, children and women.

In the western world, the secret service are tasked with countering foreign threats, they’re at the forefront of the nation’s defence apparatus, in Algeria, they are instrumentalised by a bunch of coward, corrupt traitors at the head of the state, to intimidate political opponents, or in this case, teenagers.

In the western world, students don’t have to deal with this kind of BS, they are cherished and rightfully so as they represent the future of a nation. In Algeria, they’ve been attacked, abducted and humiliated by the Algerian police forces, police forces which instead of dealing with real crime, as in any respectable nation, have been tasked with viciously targeting what is essentially teenagers.

Today marked another milestone in the Algerian government’s rapid fall to the bottom of the barrel, secret service elements were sent to kidnap students at Algiers’ main law school, they were bravely chased off (like some kind of rodents) by the courageous students and had to promptly get back in their blacked out SUVs to slogans such as “Dégage” which translates to “f*** off”.

We, as Algerians, must be grateful for our amazing youths, be them students or simply the youths marginalised by the corrupt regime. We thank you for your courage, maturity and patriotism. You will always be remembered and your names will be forever engraved in Algeria’s history books, unlike most members of the Algerian regime who will forever be remembered as traitors.

Source Algiers Herald

Sports: Moses’ Arrival Knocks out Algeria’s Yacine Benzia

By Samson Emmanuel

The arrival of former Super Eagles winger, Victor Moses from Chelsea of England on loan at Fernebahce of Turkey, has accounted for the exit of Algeria’s Yacine Benzia from The Yellow Canaries. learnt that Moses comes highly recommended, with a hefty pay day in an 18-month loan deal from Chelsea, which has left Fernebahce opting to let go of Benzia to make way for the new arrival.

Moses has already justified his signing by scoring in only his second game with the Istanbul-based side, even after going on as a substitute in both, such that Ferne will feel justified to create space for him.

Where Moses is gaining, with props and chants rolling in his favour, reverse is the case for Benzia, who Fenerbache have already omitted from their squad for the second half of the Turkish Super Lig season.

The 24-year-old Benzia, who is a former France youth international, is on a season-long loan in Turkey from Lille.

He played 13 Super Lig games in the first half the season and his most recent appearance was in the club’s 2-0 win over visiting Goztepe on 1 February.

Amazingly, though, while he is not on Fenerbahce’s list for the league he keeps his place alongside Moses in their UEFA Europa League squad.

Source Sports247

Algeria’s Yacine Benzia omitted from Fenerbache league squad.

By Mohamed Fajah Barrie

Algeria international Yacine Benzia has been left surprised by his omission from Fenerbache’s squad for the second half of the Turkish season.

Benzia is on a season-long loan in Turkey from French club Lille.

While the 24-year-old is not on Fenerbahce’s list for the league he is in their Europa League squad.

He played 13 Super Lig games in the first half the season but is now left struggling for playing opportunities ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

His most recent appearance was in the club’s 2-0 win over visiting Goztepe on 1 February.

According to Fifa regulations he is unable to return to parent club Lille outside the transfer window.

Fifa’s regulations also prevent players for playing for more than two different clubs in the same season.

With Benzia having played for both Lille and Fenerbahce so far this season his options to play seem limited to joining a club whose season begins in the coming months such as China or MLS in the USA.

The Fifa transfer regulations state that “A player is only allowed to be registered with a maximum of three clubs in one season but the player is only eligible to play official matches for two clubs.”

“However, a player may be eligible to play in official matches for a third club during the relevant season if he has moved between two clubs belonging to associations with overlapping seasons (ie, start of the season in summer/autumn as opposed to winter/spring).”

In order for such a move, both Lille and Fenerbahce would have to agree to a deal.

Benzia played for France at youth level, featuring at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup in Mexico, before switching allegiance to Algeria.

Source BBC