Wednesday, November 30, 2016

30-Nov-16: Remind us again just how central the conflict with Israel is to the Arab world

Abbas and the newly energized, broad-shouldered forward-looking PA/Fatah
leadership at its Ramallah conference yesterday [Image Source]
As the news cycle absorbs yesterday's momentous non-changes in the Palestinian Arab world ["Mahmoud Abbas, Re-elected as Fatah Leader, Moves to Solidify Power", New York Times, November 29, 2016], here's a timely reminder from the current issue of The Economist of where the Arab world's problems really lie:

Horrifyingly, although home to only 5% of the world’s population, in 2014 the Arab world accounted for 45% of the world’s terrorism, 68% of its battle-related deaths, 47% of its internally displaced and 58% of its refugees. War not only kills and maims, but destroys vital infrastructure accelerating the disintegration.
The Arab youth population (aged 15-29) numbers 105m and is growing fast, but unemployment, poverty and marginalisation are all growing faster. The youth unemployment rate, at 30%, stands at more than twice the world’s average of 14%. Almost half of young Arab women looking for jobs fail to find them (against a global average of 16%).
Yet governance remains firmly the domain of an often hereditary elite. “Young people are gripped by an inherent sense of discrimination and exclusion,” says the report, highlighting a “weakening [of] their commitment to preserving government institutions.” Many of those in charge do little more than pay lip-service, lumping youth issues in with toothless ministries for sports. “We’re in a much worse shape than before the Arab Spring,” says Ahmed al-Hendawi, a 32-year-old Jordanian and the UN’s envoy for youth... 
Source: "Another Arab awakening is looming, warns a UN report", The Economist, November 29, 2016

And if anyone out there is still laboring under any illusions about a new and freshly energized PA/Fatah leadership that's going to take initiatives, prepare the Palestinian Arabs for painful compromises and for the challenges of peace and prosperity, give its young people a vision for a future that makes sense and meets their real needs, then reflect for a moment on this observation in that New York Times report:
The conference, Fatah’s first in seven years, comes as the Palestinians face economic troubles, violent clashes among competing clans and the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Critics complain that Mr. Abbas’s leadership has grown insular and out of touch.... The carefully selected delegates wasted little time in formally re-electing Mr. Abbas as the leader of Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. “Everybody voted yes,” a spokesman for Fatah, Mahmoud Abu al-Hija, told reporters who had not been allowed into the conference hall for the decision... [NYT]
Not much room here for optimism - neither for them nor for us.

Now let's remind ourselves of how often political figures, analysts, reporters and editors tell us Israel and the challenge of its conflict with the Palestinian Arabs are at the heart of addressing global terror and the Middle East's (and the world's) problems.

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