Weekly coverage round-up (Jul 29 - Aug 3)

A quick English summary of our Arabic news coverage this week.

“HTS is not the target in Idlib” (29 July, 2019). There are increasing signs that a “Taliban-style” arrangement may be envisaged for the conundrum of the Syrian jihadist group known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which dominates much of the country’s north militarily, and was formerly the official al-Qaeda subsidiary in Syria until it declared its ties severed in 2016. While still a far-fetched prospect at present, this hypothetical scenario would essentially involve tolerating the group’s rule over local residents in Idlib Province and the environs, provided it fully cut its connection to global jihadism and ceased planning attacks on targets outside Syria. For more details, see our full report (Arabic).

 

“Ghosts of meaning and culture” (30 July, 2019). From July 23 to 26, Berlin hosted the “Wish You Were Here” festival of music and performance arts, featuring artists from numerous Arab countries. Al-Jumhuriya’s Wadiaa Ferzly reviews two performances; “Ghosts of Meaning,” by the Tunisian artist Mohamedali Ltaief, and “The Second Copy: I Like This Title,” by Morocco’s Youness Atbane. For the full article, see here (Arabic).

 

“An archive for justice and history” (31 July, 2019). Founded in 2016 by Syrian human rights activists, the Syrian Archive is an initiative dedicated, in its own words, “to curating visual documentation relating to human rights violations and other crimes committed by all sides during the conflict in Syria, with the goal of creating an evidence-based tool for reporting, advocacy, and accountability purposes.” Al-Jumhuriya’s Qasem Albasri interviewed the Archive’s founder and director, Hadi Al Khatib, to learn more. For the full interview, see here (Arabic).

 

“Negotiations continue in Sudan” (1 Aug, 2019). After months of deadlock, late July brought a significant breakthrough in Sudan, with the ruling military council signing an agreement with civilian opposition forces to jointly govern the country for a three-year transitional period, followed by elections. As promising as the development is, the Forces of Freedom and Change (as the civil opposition is known) still have much reason to be wary of the military that just two months ago was massacring demonstrators in the capital’s streets. For more, see our full report (Arabic).

 

“Premature wrinkles” (2 Aug, 2019). Social media websites have been inundated in recent days with photos uploaded by users of an application called FaceApp, after a new feature was added enabling them to view seemingly-realistic projections of how their faces will look in old age. The dramatic spread of the fad (the application was downloaded over seven million times in the first week of July alone) stirred controversy in light of the fact the application was developed by a Russian company, which stores the users’ facial photographs along with other information, raising questions of privacy and data protection. For more, see our full report (Arabic).

 

“Blessed are the ‘identified’” (3 Aug, 2019). In an impassioned editorial, Al-Jumhuriya’s editor-in-chief Yassin Swehat decries the opposition Syrian National Coalition for a statement it issued Friday effectively siding with the Turkish authorities against the Syrians who have been forcibly deported from Turkey back to Syria, in violation of international law, in recent weeks. The title refers to the statement’s use of the word “identified” as a euphemism for “detained.” For the full editorial, see here (Arabic).

 

“Istanbul demonstrates in solidarity with refugees and immigrants” (3 Aug, 2019). Hundreds demonstrated on Friday evening outside the Süreyya Opera House in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, where a statement was read out expressing solidarity with Syrian refugees and all immigrants in Turkey, demanding an immediate end to their deportation, and all other measures violating their rights to free movement, work, and a dignified life. The demonstration was organized by an umbrella group of lawyers and civil society activists under the slogan, “We Want to Live Together.” For more details, see our full report (Arabic).