20 May 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


Tunisia's indigenous Amazighs launch their first political party
Al-Monitor, 19 May 2019

The Akal movement arose during Tunisia’s 2011 revolution as a civil force to defend the rights of the country’s native Amazighs and preserve their cultural heritage. Today, the movement’s founders are turning the group into a political party that will participate in the legislative and presidential elections this year, according to Akal leader Samir al-Nefzi, who spoke with Al-Monitor. Movement members announced at a May 6 press conference in the capital that they have applied to the government to form a party and are awaiting official permission to start their political activities. There are already 217 parties in the country, but this will be the Amazighs' first.


Idlib De-Escalation Zone Under Threat In Syria After Recent Bombardments
The Organization for World Peace, 19 May 2019

On Saturday May 5th, 9 civilians were killed in the north – western province of Idlib, the last remaining stronghold of the Syrian opposition forces. The weekend attack is part of a wider upsurge in violence against the enclave in the past week and represents the heaviest fighting the region has seen in months which has killed 44 since April 26th. Syrian and Russian warplanes have battered the region, destroying hospitals and killing dozens, reportedly with indiscriminate barrel bombs. Tens of thousands have been displaced as residents evacuate to areas further north.


Both Saudi Arabia and the United States Are Probably Guilty of War Crimes in Yemen
The Nation, 17 May 2019

On August 9 of last year, warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition bombed a school bus near a market in the northern Yemeni town of Dahyan, killing 54 people, 44 of them children. After interviewing more than a dozen witnesses and survivors, Human Rights Watch called the attack an “apparent war crime” because “there was no evident military target in the market at the time.” The munition used by the Saudis was supplied by the United States—a 500-pound laser-guided bomb made by Lockheed Martin. As it has done repeatedly when its air strikes kill civilians, the Saudi coalition at first insisted that it had attacked a legitimate military target.


Iyad el-Baghdadi begs for family's safety after Saudi threat
Al Jazeera, 13 May 2019

Iyad el-Baghdadi, a vocal pro-democracy activist and strong critic of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has begged Norwegian authorities to ensure his family's safety. The Palestinian-born writer was taken into protective custody by Norway's security services last month after a threat to his life, reportedly emanating from Saudi Arabia, was intercepted.