2019 is One of the Violent Years in This Decade

Published December 31st, 2019 - 08:39 GMT
Iraq (Twitter)
Iraq (Twitter)

From protests in several Middle Eastern countries to the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand, the outgoing year will be remembered as one of the violent ones in the decade of the 2010s.

1. Algeria 
On February 16, Algerians staged mass protests shortly after the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party announced Abdelaziz Bouteflika would seek out a fifth term as president, plans withdrawn in April.

Bouteflika, 82, had ruled the North African nation since 1999. After losing military support and coming under pressure from street protests, his 20 years in power came to an end on April 2.

Persistent rallies continued in Algeria over 10 months despite the military jailing dozens of former regime officials over graft charges.

Since April, Algerians have expressed distrust in all Bouteflika’s men, including interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, and former head of the Constitutional Council Tayeb Belaiz, who resigned on April 16 following protests.

During the protests, many activists and opponents were arrested.

The military establishment led by Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaid Saleh -- who died last week at age 79 following a heart attack -- managed to avoid a transitional stage, stuck to the Constitution, and held a presidential election on Dec. 12.

With a turnout of 40%, the polls resulted in Abdelmadjid Tebboune winning the presidency with 58.15% of the vote. 

Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui submitted his resignation to Tebboune, who tasked Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum to be a caretaker premier. 

Between 1984 and 1991, Tebboune served terms as the mayor of Tiaret, Adrar, and Tizi Ouzou.

Seen by many as one of the symbols of the two-decade Bouteflika regime, Tebboune pledged during his campaign to meet the demands of protesters, many of whom consider him a de facto president. 

2. Iraq

Since early October, Iraq has been rocked by mass protests over poor living conditions and corruption, forcing Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to step down.

At least 496 people have been killed and 17,000 injured in the protests, according to Iraq's High Commission for Human Rights.

Protesters pressed for the departure and accountability of all political elites accused of corruption who have been in power since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

Following the resignation of Abdul-Mahdi, a debate has risen between political blocs over naming a new premier.

On Thursday, Iraqi lawmakers rejected the resignation of President Barham Salih, who wanted to step down due to pressure to choose Asaad al-Eidani, governor of Basra province, as new premier.

Al-Eidani, who was proposed by the parliament's majority-holder Al-Binaa Alliance, is also the third name rejected by protesters to lead the new government, as he is accused of responsibility in the killing of demonstrators in Basra.

The situation in Iraq remains unclear, and protesters are determined to have a new independent premier who does not hail from current political circles. 

3. Lebanon

For many years, sectarianism has shaped Lebanon, but recent protests against economic woes have brought Lebanese from different sectarian and political factions together. 

Mass protests erupted in Lebanon on Oct. 17 against government plans to tax WhatsApp and other messaging services, with the demonstrations quickly addressing wider grievances. 

The unrest forced Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign amid the country's worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. 

After Hariri bowed out on Oct. 29, parliamentary consultations resulted in Hassan Diab being named new prime minister on Dec. 19. 

Yet protests followed against both Diab and Central Bank policies amid calls of officials including Hariri to end protests. 

Lebanon suffers from high unemployment, slow growth, and one of the highest debt ratios in the world, with a debt burden reaching $86.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to its Finance Ministry.

4. Sudan 

In December 2018, the Sudanese people took to the streets over the dire economy in protests that escalated into demands for major change.

On April 11, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir stepped down following months of popular demonstrations against his 30-year rule. 

According to the opposition Central Committee of the Sudanese Doctors (CCSD), more than 300 protesters have been killed since the eruption of protests against al-Bashir's rule, with dozens also going missing.

A Military Transitional Council (MTC) -- formed under a pact between the council and the Declaration of Freedom and Changes Forces, an umbrella organization of opposition groups -- is now overseeing a two-year “transitional period” during which it has pledged to hold presidential elections.

On Dec. 14, Bashir was sentenced to two years in prison for corruption and illicit possession of foreign currency and was sent to a social welfare facility to spend his sentence. 

5. The death of Mohamed Morsi

Morsi, who became Egypt's only democratically elected leader in 2012, died on June 17 2019, while standing trial for charges that he and legal observers say were politically motivated.

Just a year into his presidency, he was ousted and imprisoned in a military coup led by then-Defence Minister Abdel Fattah el Sisi. At the time of his death, Morsi faced a litany of charges. 

There had long been a concern about the politicised trials which had kept him in prison, as well as his conditions of confinement. Morsi had a medical history and list of ailments that were consistently raised by his family and human rights organisations.

The UN report states that Morsi’s death could amount to a ‘state-sanctioned arbitrarily killing’. 

The UN report, published on November 8 2019, stated: “Dr Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detention in the Tora prison complex." 

“The authorities were warned repeatedly that Dr Morsi’s prison conditions would gradually undermine his health to the point of killing him. There is no evidence they acted to address these concerns, even though the consequences were foreseeable.” 

6. Mosque massacre in New Zealand 

At least 50 people were killed as a white supremacist terrorist named Brenton Harrison Tarrant opened fire on worshippers during Friday's prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, the third-largest city of New Zealand.

The massacre was streamed live on social media. Footage of the attack on one of the mosques was broadcast live on Facebook, and a “manifesto” denouncing immigrants as “invaders” was sent to politicians and media outlets and posted online via links to related social media accounts. 

The video showed a man driving to the Al Noor mosque, entering it and shooting randomly at people with a semi-automatic rifle. Worshippers, possibly dead or wounded, lay on the floor, the video showed. 

At one stage the shooter returns to his car, changes weapons, re-enters the mosque and again begins shooting. The camera attached to his head recording the massacre follows the barrel of his weapon, like some macabre video game.

7. The Killing of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

In October, the US president Donald Trump announced that the leader of Daesh killed during an American commando raid in Syria after a five year international manhunt. 

“The United States brought the world’s No. 1 terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump said during an unusual morning nationally televised address from the White House on 27 October. 

Baghdadi’s real name was Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri. He was born in 1971 in the central Iraqi city of Samarra. 

Since the rise of Daesh five years ago, self-styled "Caliph Ibrahim" had a $25m bounty on his head who had pursued by the US and its allies. 

Daesh controlled 88,000 square kilometres of territory which was stretching from western Syria to eastern Iraq at its peak. Daesh imposed its brutal rule on almost eight million people and it generated billions of money from oil revenue, kidnapping and extortion. 

8. Demonstrations in Iran

The deadliest unrest since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 hit Iran in mid-November after the government increased fuel prices by 50 per cent and rescinded fuel subsidies. The economic frustration in the sanction-hit country quickly triggered outrage against the government with protesters demanding regime change.

In response, the government launched a violent crackdown on protesters. Iranian authorities have not yet announced the death toll, but Amnesty International puts the number at 304. Protests across Iran was suppressed by the security forces in the country with state media says more than 1,000 protesters had been arrested in an immediate crackdown.

9. Kashmir

India revoked Article 370 in disputed Kashmir region, effectively ending its autonomy on August 5. Ever since, the region has been facing a lockdown, curfews and more while tensions between neighbours Pakistan and India have skyrocketed. 

On August 5, India unilaterally abrogated the limited autonomy of India-administered Kashmir, the key to Kashmir's 1947 [temporary] accession treaty with India.  New Delhi divided the disputed Himalayan region into two zones — both now directly ruled by India. 

That decision was accompanied by a harsh crackdown, with India sending tens of thousands of troops in addition to the 500,000 troops already present there, imposing a sweeping curfew, arresting thousands and cutting virtually all communications. 

Most Kashmiris say that in doing away with Article 370, India hopes to change India-administered Kashmir's Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu settlers.

10.  India

A new citizenship law excluding Muslims sparked protests in India’s capital New Delhi and other north-eastern states last week. The peaceful demonstrations are posing a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's majority government. 

According to the new law approved by the parliament on December 11, the religion will become a criteria for Indian nationality, and critics say subsequent measures such as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) have increased the chances of jeopardising the citizenship of 200 million Indian Muslims, which may end up with robbing them of their constitutional rights. 

A young Muslim woman who was photographed while trying to protect a friend became a symbol of the protest movement that has gripped the country. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

Copyright © 2021 TRT World

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