07 Jan 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North African Democracy


What happened to Trump’s Syria withdrawal?
The Washington Post, 07 Jan 2019

Last month, President Trump stunned his allies — and possibly his own advisers — by announcing the imminent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Critics feared Trump was playing into the hands of Russia and Iran; others lamented what they saw as yet another American betrayal of Kurds in the region. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest, and the top State Department official responsible for the campaign against the Islamic State angrily sped up his departure from his post.

But it’s now far from clear when — or even if — the panic-inducing drawdown will take place.

Read More

Rahaf al-Qunun: Saudi woman blocks Bangkok deportation move
BBC News, 07 Jan 2019

A young Saudi woman who says she has fled her family in fear for her life has barricaded herself in her hotel room at Bangkok airport. Thai immigration officials want to return Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, to Kuwait, where her family is.

She refused to board a flight to Kuwait City on Monday, despite officials stationed outside her room. "My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait," the teenager told Reuters.

Read More

Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians tripled in 2018
Middle East Monitor, 06 Jan 2019

Settler attacks against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank tripled in 2018, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday. Israeli settlers carried out at least 482 attacks against Palestinians last year, up from only 140 in 2017, the daily said. The settler attacks ranged from “beating up and throwing stones at Palestinians, painting nationalist and anti-Arab or anti-Muslim slogans, damaging homes and cars to cutting down trees belonging to Palestinian farmers”.

Read More

Women in Saudi Arabia Will Now Be Notified of Divorce by Text Message
TIME, 06 Jan 2019

Women in Saudi Arabia will be informed by text message that their marriages have ended under a new regulation aimed at ending the practice of secret divorce, whereby men in the kingdom could unilaterally decide to separate without informing their wives. The new measure was approved by the country’s justice ministry on Sunday, Agence France-Presse reports citing local media.

Read More

These are the key African elections to watch in 2019
Quartz Africa, 04 Jan 2019

Tens of millions of Africans will go to the polls this year in the hope of using the ballot to deepen the quality of democratic governance. From the rural hinterlands to major cities, from the continent’s south to the north, at least 20 nations will hold presidential (Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritania), parliamentary (Guinea, Cameroon, Mali) and council polls (Ghana, Niger).

For all the possibilities presented by free and fair polls, uncertainties continue to loom over key ones like Libya’s presidential and parliamentary polls. Divisions along regional and tribal lines have torn apart the north African state since Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011, leaving many people struggling to secure basic amenities.

Read More

Algeria: Will the Military Intervene ?
The North Africa Post , 31 Dec 2018

With the political crisis deepening in Algeria wherein social anger is mounting and the economic situation is worsening, the struggle for power between the elite generals and the politicians is intensifying as the ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, braces, for a controversial fifth term in office.

Despite the military and security purge carried out lately to get rid of the ambitious top ranks ahead of the upcoming rocky transition, it seems that some of the retired generals have become more and more vocal against Bouteflika’s 5th term plan.

Read More