North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: political crisis deepens

Tunisia’s former president Moncef Marzouki was sentenced in absentia to four years in prison, convicted of “undermining the external security of the State.” The charge is evidently a reference to his calls on social media for protest against current President Kaïs Saied, and for an end to French support of Saied’s regime. Marzouki calls Saied a “dictator,” and accuses him of having conducted a coup when he suspended parliament and fired the prime minister amid a wave of national unrest in July. (Image: Pixabay)

Greater Middle East
Alaa Abd El Fattah

Egypt: prison term for activist Alaa Abdel Fattah —again

An Egyptian court sentenced prominent activist Alaa Abd El Fattah to five years in prison after he was convicted on charges of “spreading false news” and “undermining national security.” Alongside Abd El Fattah, the Emergency State Security Court also sentenced human rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer and blogger Mohammed “Oxygen” Ibrahim to four years each. All three defendants faced charges concerning their social media posts on human rights violations. Both Abd El Fattah and El-Baqer had been held in pretrial detention for more than the legal limit of two years. Verdicts issued by the emergency court cannot be appealed. Human rights groups have criticized the use of “emergency trials,” due process violations, and general repression of freedom of expression in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Africa
khartoum

Sudan: civil resistance rejects ‘power-sharing’ deal

Sudan’s ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who had been placed under house arrest with last month’s military coup, appeared on TV to sign a new power-sharing agreement with putsch leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. But the deal officially restoring Hamdok as prime minister was immediately rejected by the pro-democracy movement in the streets. Just after the announcement, security forces in Khartoum fired tear-gas at protesters marching toward the presidential palace to demand the military’s complete withdrawal from politics. “The future of the country will be determined by the young people on the ground,” said Siddiq Abu-Fawwaz of the Forces for Freedom & Change coalition. (Photo via Twitter)

North Africa
sfax

Tunisia: uprising over waste disposal crisis

Anger over a regional garbage crisis in Tunisia exploded into street clashes after a man died following exposure to tear-gas during protests against the reopening of a landfill site. Abderrazek Lacheheb, 35, died in the town of Aguereb in the coastal region of Sfax, punctuating weeks of demonstrations over a growing waste and public health crisis. The powerful UGTT trade union confederation announced a general strike the day after his passing, condemning the “savage intervention by security forces.” (Photo: Leaders.com.tn)

Africa
Sudan

Counter-revolutionary coup in Sudan

Sudan’s interim prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and his senior officials were arrested as the military seized full power in a coup d’etat and imposed a state of emergency. The two principal pro-democracy formations, the Forces for Freedom & Change and Sudanese Professionals Association, have called for a popular mobilization to overturn the coup, and thousands have answered the call, filling the streets of Khartoum, Omdurman and other cities. Troops fired on protesters outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, killing at least three and injuring more than 80. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have also been mobilized. The military head of the now officially dissolved joint civilian-military Transitional Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is apparently behind the coup and in control. The putsch follows days of rival demonstrations in Khartoum, with pro-democracy protesters demanding full civilian rule and pro-army counter-demonstrators demanding that the military take complete control. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

North Africa
Hirak

Algeria: protest dissolution of civil society group

Five international rights groups are urging Algerian authorities to drop their effort to dissolve a prominent civil society group over alleged violation of the “law on associations.” The five groups—Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies, the International Federation of Human Rights, and the MENA Rights Group—say the government’s move “threatens freedom of association.” A appeals tribunal in Algiers upheld a petition to dissolve the Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (Youth Action Rally, or RAJ). The petition claimed that the group’s political activities violated the purposes set forth in its own bylaws. RAJ leaders said that authorities targeted the association due to its support of the Hirak pro-democracy movement. (Photo: Faten Aggad/Africa Arguments)

Planet Watch
anarchy

Podcast: for pragmatic anarchism

In Episode 93 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg responds to the request from Patreon subscriber and legendary folksinger Dave Lippman to discuss the contemporary significance of anarchism. Weinberg cites recent examples of an “anarcho-pragmatism” that aspires to libertarian socialism but also works toward concrete victories in the here-and-now: the Zapatistas in Mexico, piqueteros in Argentina, the Rojava Kurds and other liberatory elements of the Syrian Revolution, and Occupy Wall Street in New York. Since last year’s Black Lives Matter uprising, anarchist ideas have started to enter mainstream discourse—such as calls for “decarceration” and to abolish the police. Weinberg also makes note of pointed criticisms of some contemporary anarchist thought from the Marxist-Humanists. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

Africa
Sudan

Sudan: Omar Bashir plots comeback?

A failed coup by army officers allegedly linked to ousted long-ruling strongman Omar al-Bashir underscored the fragility of Sudan’s transition to civilian rule. Some 20 officers were arrested in the coup attempt. Military leaders from the country’s power-sharing government, the Sovereign Council, blamed their civilian counterparts for neglecting public welfare and opening the door to the coup plotters. Civilian cabinet minister Khalid Omer Yousif called the officers’ comments “astonishing” and “a direct threat to the transition.” Bashir, overthrown in 2019 after nearly 30 years in power, is presently in prison in Khartoum, where he faces multiple trials. He continues to be wanted on genocide charges by the International Criminal Court. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Syria
Daraa

Syria: starvation threat seen in Daraa siege

The siege imposed by Syrian government forces on Daraa al-Balad enclave since June could lead to serious humanitarian repercussions if it continues, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said in a statement. Russian-backed regime forces are trying to get remnant rebel fighters in the district of Daraa city to surrender their light weapons, and accede to installation of military checkpoints—demands that violate terms of the 2018 ceasefire in Daraa. The statement urgently called for lifting the siege and allowing entry of humanitarian aid, noting that shipments from the World Food Program have been barred entry. It also stressed that all roads to hospitals in government-controlled Daraa are cut off by regime troops, leaving district residents without access to medical facilities, except for a single insufficient clinic within the encircled area. Food, medicines and other basic materials are running low, threatening 40,000 residents with starvation. (Map: Wikimedia Commons)

North Africa
tunisia

Tunisia: president accused of ‘coup’

Tunisian President Kais Saied was accused by opposition parties of launching a “coup” with the help of the country’s military after firing the prime minister and freezing parliament. The move comes after anti-government protesters took over the streets of the capital Tunis, expressing dismay over ongoing economic turmoil and a demonstrably poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent loan negotiations with the International Monetary Fund aimed at controlling mass inflation further raised the ire of Tunisians; terms require Tunisia to raise taxes, set higher prices on goods, and implement austerity policies reducing public-sector employment and programs. (Image: Pixabay)

Syria
Aleppo ruins

Syria: controlled elections amid crisis —again

Thoroughly controlled elections were held in Syria, with predictable results. Regime officials declared Bashar Assad the winner with 95.1% of the vote. Assad ran against two nominal challengers, with another 49 candidates disqualified. State media promoted Assad relentlessly; his posters were displayed on walls and billboards throughout regime-controlled territory. Several million Syrians within the country could not vote as they are outside regime-held areas. In opposition-held Idlib province, hundreds held protests against the “fake” elections, carrying the Free Syria flag. In another sign of resurgent opposition even within regime-controlled territory, a group of leading tribal and social figures in Daraa governorate (where the revolution first broke out a decade ago) released a statement declaring their rejection of the elections as “illegitimate.” (Photo of Aleppo ruins from UNHCR)

Iran
baghdad

Baghdad under pressure on militia repression

One protester was killed and dozens injured as security forces opened fire on a rally in Baghdad, where thousands had gathered to demand accountability in the murder of Iraqi activists and demonstrators. Video footage on social media showed live fire, tear-gas and street-fighting reminiscent of October 2019, when the nationwide uprising first broke out. Since then, almost 600 protesters have been killed and at least 30 activists slain in targeted killings. Many of these have been carried out by paramilitary militias, which were formed to fight ISIS, but have since been used to repress protests. The US has placed sanctions on militias held responsible for internal repression in Iraq, but one senses the real issue for Washington is Tehran’s role in backing this paramilitary apparatus. (Photo via Twitter)