A national identity born of protest and anger brews in Iraq and Lebanon

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“Comment: A year after mass protests reignited the Arab region, Rami Khouri explores how the struggle against corruption and poverty became the rallying call for a new generation.

Much has changed and nothing has changed in Iraq and Lebanon, as both countries this month mark one year of non-stop mass protests by citizens against their ruling government establishments.

The significant changes that have occurred in society, together with the persistence of the corrupted and depleted governance systems tell important, larger, tales of this historic moment of Arab political turbulence.

Iraq and Lebanon’s overarching message is that steadily pauperised and desperate Arab citizens who peacefully seek a total overhaul of their political systems will continue to face an increasingly militarised ruling elite that offers minor reform gestures without ceding any real power.

As these and other Arab lands settle into a long stalemate, society, economy, and statehood all steadily deteriorate and could collapse. Officials with power do not seem to care, and citizens seeking to evict the powerholders lack the means to do so.

Other protests in Algeria, Sudan, and Jordan echo the same dynamics of the Iraqi and Lebanese uprisings, anchored in common and deep grievances that plague a majority of Arab citizenries in almost all dimensions — economic, political, social, and environmental. …

The UN’s existential crisis

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“Comment: Covid-19 was an opportunity for UN multilateralism to shine. Instead it reveled the disturbing fragility of the UN’s founding principle, writes Shashi Tharoor.

On 24 October, the United Nations will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding in 1945, when the historic UN Charter entered into force. Sadly, the organisation will do so at a time when multilateralism has never seemed more in peril.

The Covid-19 pandemic has inaugurated a new era of deglobalisation. …

Shameful bill grants a free pass for British war crimes in Iraq

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“Comment: The ‘Overseas Operations Bill’ denies justice to victims of torture perpetrated by British armed forces, and contravenes international law, writes Aniqah Choudhri.

During the British occupation of Afghanistan, a woman named Bebe Hazrat was woken up in the middle of the night. British special forces climbed over the walls and rounded up her family, forcing them outside. Her family were unarmed. The British soldiers told her sons to put their hands in the air. After they did, they open fire. Her sons were shot in front of her.

Speaking to BBC Panorama she describes the moment as one she’ll never forget, “They had shot the boys in the head. They were placed next to each other and their brains had come out.” …

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