By Randa Darwish
2018 has been a year full of political events and diplomatic tension on the international and Middle Eastern levels.
On the global scene, US president Donald Trump has been the key driver of events. Others like the European Union, UK and Russia had also their share of crisis on domestic levels; including the EU with the biggest crisis being in the UK on the Brexit issue and in Russia and Iran as well as many others.
Meanwhile, the Middle East have also a big share in shaping the political map around the world.
Several wars continued around the region in 2018 with no near end; including in Syria, Iraq, Palestine in addition to one of the worst humanitarian crisis exploding in Yemen. Other countries also faced civil crisis like Lebanon, Libya and Egypt.
In fact, political events were not only restricted to news headlines. Social media platforms had also been a vital platoform for discussions, decisions and campaigns.
Here we collected the biggest political trends that dominated social media in the Middle East during 2018:
1- One of the main events that took place in 2018 was the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi journalist who is identified as a reformer and a critic of the Saudi government was killed on October 2, 2018 in his country’s consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi’s murder received massive reactions throughout the world, and has not stopped. Investigations into the gruesome crime is expected to go on through 2019 to find the truth and the body of Khashoggi which is still missing.
2- Saudi Arabia and its de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman placing the country in diplomatic crisis with many countries around the world. Khashoggi’s killing is believed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and it led to mounting pressure against Saudi Arabia. Also, the Saudi-led war on Yemen that placed the country on the brink of the worst humanitarian crisis ever, human rights violations in Saudi Arabia with arbitrary detentions of women rights activists, and the Kingdom’s relations with Canada and its Gulf neighbour, Qatar. These have been hard stories placing the Kingdom in a critical position.
3- Israel’s continuous efforts to "normalize" relations with Arab countries. Starting from talks on the Deal of the Century which involves Saudi Arabia as one of the key players to the high profile visit of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman were he met Sultan Qaboos. In bid to normalize, the Israeli Minister of Sport and Culture visited the UAE.
4- Gaza continuous border protests. It all started in March 2018 as the Great March of Return to demand that Palestinian refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to the land they were displaced from Israel in 1948. The protests have seen around 214 Palestinian civilians killed and more than 18,000 wounded. It is still continuing with no near end expected.
5- Reforms in Tunisia: Equal laws including inheritance laws and marriage, also Tunisians gained more freedoms of speech and religion during the year. While Tunisians are still struggling with economic and political instability following the revolution of 2011, 2018 had been a good year in terms of reforms and gaining more equal rights.
6- The end of 2018 witnessed a new wave of Arab Spring protests that ended with a journalist in Tunisia burning himself and a mass uprising in Sudan that spread all over the country demanding the removal of the government.
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