Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hasidic Jews in the West Bank

The West Bank is a chunk of territory that is bordered mainly by Israel, Jordan and the Dead Sea. It is located near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, and ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, has been occupied by Israel. The ethnonational group of Palestinians also reside and claim territory in the West Bank, as they claim to have rights of living there. In the recent few years, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has openly announced plans of annexing West Bank territory where Jewish settlements are. While he revoked official plans of annexation, this has caused tension between the two main groups within the West Bank, as Jewish settlements still continue to expand. The possibility of annextion of regions that contain Jewish settlements would likely result in an increased amount of conflict and instability between the Palestinian Arabs and Israels, as tension is already rising from both sides settling in the West Bank.

As both Palestenians and Israelis share history in the West Bank, settlements from both sides have caused a rising tension over who has rights regarding West Bank territory. This piece of land can be drawn from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, where Jordan took control. Jordan annexed the West Bank, then lost control of it to Israel in 1967. The Jews still regarded this territory as rightfully theirs: “the preferred nomenclature among Jewish settlers and right-wing Israelis – is contentious since it suggests a belief that contemporary Israeli policy should be based on the biblical boundaries of the Land of Israel.” The biblical boundaries of Israel includes the territory of West Bank. In addition to this, the city of Hebron, which is located in the West Bank, is considered to be a holy city due to the believed burial theer of Jewish matriarchs/patriarchs. On the other hand, the Palestenians have resided in the West Bank for more than 400 years, and embrace the stance that the Israeli’s have built upon stolen land. Palestenian’s also have been harassed by the Israeli’s expansion, as it has been frequently reported that there have been: “extremist settlers, many of them armed, violently attacking Palestinians, burning their fields and uprooting their olive trees’“. Although millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank are upset, Israeli settlements continue to expand rapidly especially in the previous few years.

The rising tension between the Israeli’s and Palestinians, as well as the possible action of annexation and expansion of settlements from Israel, have caused an unpredictable and unstable future for settlements on both sides in the West Bank. As ultra-orthodox Jewish settlements expand, most notably the city of Beitar Illit, discrimination against Palestinians increases too. This discrimination takes the form of alleged war crimes, as: “Israeli military and security forces killed at least 38 Palestinians, including 11 children, during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)”. This can be classified as a war crime under international law, as Israeli’s aren’t allowed to settle in Palestenian territory even though the government of Israel disputes this. Many Palestinian’s that have been killed also have showed no threat to the life of Israeli citizens, but killings occur on both sides. It has also been reported that Palestinian’s have been provoking the Jewish settlers by attacking them in certain situations where the Israeli’s have done no harm, so this issue of violence goes both ways.

Unprovoked violence and killing on both sides can be considered a human rights issue, and has the possibility of turning into a larger ethnic conflict or war. As the two different ethnic groups contain completely different ideologies and both have deep-seeded roots in the West Bank, there is no simple solution to this problem. It doesn’t look like either side will give up settling in the West Bank without a fight, so if they could learn to co-exist peacefully, this would be the best option. This solution doesn’t seem likely as both sides are intolerable with each other due to their strong historic and religious beliefs. An agreement of the partition of territory between both sides looks like the best bet, if the Israeli’s and Palestenian’s can come to a compromise.

In Western Mongolia, Traditional Eagle Falconry Finds New Life

In Bayan-Ölgii, the westernmost province of Mongolia, the sweeping Altai mountain range separates the frigid Gobi desert from the eastern extent of Kazakhstan. These mountains, where the punishing year-round climate can bring winter temperatures to forty and fifty below zero, is home to Mongolia’s Kazakh minority, a traditionally nomadic people whose way of life has been challenged by modern technology and cultural change. Many still live in traditional yurts, travel primarily by horseback, and do not maintain a consistent mailing address. However, younger generations attending Mongolian schools use cell phones, social media, and the internet, just like their peers around the world, pulling them away from their nomadic roots. However, it’s these digital tools that have helped preserve one of Bayan-Ölgii’s most storied traditions – eagle hunting. 

For centuries across the steppes of Central Asia, eagle hunters known as bürkitshi have practiced a type of falconry unique to their part of the world: namely, the type that employs tremendous golden eagles, whose wingspan is nearly three times that of the west’s traditional hunting bird, the peregrine falcon. Hunters, often mounted, ride deep into the mountains and beyond the reaches of civilization to position themselves on peaks and cliffs where they scan for their desired targets – typically rabbits, foxes, and marmots, hunted for their pelts. Once prey has been spotted, the eagles swoop down to collect, although encounters on the ground can sometimes turn dangerous – especially when an eagle and its hunter target wolves and wild cats, whose furs are prized but who pose a danger to the eagles, who don’t typically hunt such large predators. If the hunt is successful, bürkitshi return home to process their collected pelts. 

The practice of eagle hunting is an integral piece of the artwork and oral tradition of the nomadic Kazakh people. It lies somewhere between sport and necessity: While its fruits are put to practical purpose in the traditional fur garments of the nomadic Kazakh people, most contemporary hunters practice for leisure or as homage to their ancestry. The number of true bürkitshi left today is debated; while nearly four-hundred hunters are officially registered, some Kazakh elders claim that only a few-dozen hunters still practice with the same skill as past generations. Part of the tradition’s decline is certainly due to the labor required to train and maintain an eagle; eaglets must be captured from the wild a few months after their birth, and the training process takes immense skill and time. Although the eagles often live for thirty years, tradition stipulates that hunters release their birds after no more than a decade in captivity, meaning trainers must restart the process every decade. 

In 2014, photographs of the teenage eagle huntress Aisholpan went viral, and two years later, a western documentary film titled “The Eagle Huntress” followed her quest to win the central competition of Western Mongolia’s annual Golden Eagle Festival. The immense popularity of the documentary led to a wave of foreign interest in eagle hunting, and now the Golden Eagle Festival draws over a thousand foreign tourists each year. This foreign attention has helped revitalize the sport. While older generations bemoan the commercialization of the cultural tradition, they’ll admit that before the foreign interest, the practice had been at risk of fading into obscurity. Additionally, in a New York Times feature from 2018, reporters in Bayan-Ölgii documented teenagers who went to hunt with their eagles like American teens went to the mall, having fun on horseback and sharing their experience on social media. Youth interest in eagle hunting seems to have helped older generations reconnect with younger ones, stalling fears that the cultural traditions of the nomadic mongolian Kazakhs would be supplanted in younger generations. 

In Bayan-Ölgii, the epic practice of eagle-hunting was caught in decades of generational decline as younger members of the local Kazakh minority slowly forgot a somewhat anachronistic practice that had long defined their culture. Luckily, the young eagle hunters that have chosen to bring their tradition forward have caught the imagination of a global audience and have set their practice on an upward trajectory that should ensure its continued existence for decades to come.

Aisholpan, 2014

Golden Eagle Festival, 2018

The Long Fight for Women’s Rights and Legal Abortions: Illegal Abortions in South America

Within Latin America many countries have strict laws prohibiting women from getting abortions. Out of all the countries only five including Argentina, Cuba, Guyana, Uruguay, and some states in Mexico have made abortions legal, but all of the rest remain against this ‘sacrilegious’ act. Within some of these countries the government and religious groups have made getting abortions very limited. If you were among women who wanted one or stood in the streets campaigning for women rights, it would oftentimes put you in harm’s way or even subjected to judgement from other people with opposing views. In many of these countries who still restrict abortions it puts many women in positions for getting unsanitary abortions performed by non-medical personnel which can effect there health and well-being later on in their life.  

These same countries religious values and statements from the governments have also made people believe that women seeking abortions or woman that have had them are of the “lowest of the low”. This is what it is like in El Salvador. 

Christina Quintanilla being interviewed By NPR

In El Salvador the government passed a law that went out to all of the hospitals saying that if a woman came in suspected of causing a termination of pregnancy the doctors must contact the police immediately. These woman who are suspected of this or have caused abortions can face up to 50 years in federal prison. This was the unfortunate truth for a 17 year old girl, Christina, who got tangled within El Salvador’s abortion law. However, for her it was all a huge misunderstanding.

Christina was seven months pregnant with her second child and was living in her mothers apartment. One night she woke up with sharp pains in her stomach with a pool of blood surrounding her. She was miscarrying her child. She stumbled to the bathroom floor but ended up passing out from the pain the amount of pain she was in and by the time she had woken up she was in an unfamiliar hospital with doctors passing by her bed and police officers telling her she would be brought to jail once she was discharged for the murder of her child. She was stunned and had done nothing wrong but due to El Salvador’s abortion laws was sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

Pro-choice activists in Argentina celebrate the legalization of abortions up to 14-weeks 

Now, I know at the moment Latin America’s abortion laws sound dismal and in many ways un-empowering for women seeing that it has forced many women to fear medical care and voicing their opinions, but that is not the case. In December of 2020 Argentina finally legalized abortion which left their country filled with pro-choice campaigners celebrating all throughout 

the streets. This was a long time coming for argentina seeing that their “feminist movement has been demanding legal abortion for more than 30 years”. Pro-choice Civilians flooded the streets in their green attire to celebrate this immense achievemnet for their country. Women feel that now with “women’s human rights they can fulfil [their] life projects, fulfil [their] wishes and be happy.” This just shows that there is still hope for the other countries to follow in Argentina’s footsteps. 

No to Child Jockeys Yes to Robots

Countries such as The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt (just to name a few) have banned child camel jockeys in the traditional Bedouin sport because human rights groups said that children were getting injured, abducted, or even sold by their families. The U.S government reported that “each year, children as young as 2 are trafficked from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sudan for use as jockeys in the Persian Gulf States’ camel racing industry.” Good camel jockeys are small and light and this is why very young children are targeted. Often these boys come from poor families. Mr. Burney explains how children are brought into this work, “he says in some cases kidnappers grab the boys off the street, then smuggle them out of the country. Other times, well-dressed men approach poor families offering them charity.’And he will say I am a rich man and I want to sponsor some of the children,’ said Ansar Burney. ‘I want to give them education and a good future.’ But in this case, Mr. Burney says a good education means learning how to race camels.” 

Child camel jockeys are often sexually and physically abused. These children do not live in safe or healthy conditions and get strapped onto the camel in order to stay on. Camels can approach speeds of up to 40 kilometers an hour, so accidents are common. This results in boys often getting broken bones and some even trampled. A long term effect caused by all the constant friction and bouncing is kidney damage. Reporter Tom Phillips wrote that “these children were widely reported to suffer human rights abuses, and several countries – including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar – have banned human jockeys outright.” 

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 was a tool for the U.S. to combat human trafficking. The Gulf States and the United States then worked together to try to end child trafficking. June Kunigi “says the UAE has also agreed with UNICEF to establish two rehabilitation centers for former child jockeys. Doctors and social workers will help the children recover until they can be repatriated and reunited with their families.” Since the children are so young and separated from their family, living overseas, they rely on their captors to survive. 

The young jockeys, children from the ages of about 6 to 13 are actually defending the traditional ways. They claim that they are better riders than the robots. They have nothing else and need to make money for their families and this need explains why they may feel this way.

Eid Hamdan Hassan, head of the Egyptian Camel Federation, believes that soon there will be no human camel jockeys. Part of the allure to camel racing is that when a camel wins their value goes up. Now with the robots, races can still happen without harming young children. The development of these robots started in 2001 ”when Qatari authorities approached Swiss robotics manufacturer K-Team about creating an alternative to human jockeys in anticipation of a ban.” The first models of robots came out in 2003 and were awkward and heavy, the camels didn’t like them and they were hard to get. The Swiss version of the robot made its debut in 2004 and has become more widespread in the Arab world. Now the robots are more streamlined and owners can even find clothes for them to make them look like tiny jockeys. A generic model of a robot costs about $500. The use of child jockeys was banned in 2005 and it has not been completely eradicated, but the robots are a good alternative. 

When racing with robots the owners and trainers have a bit more control over the camels unlike when the children were the jockeys. The owners or trainers of the camels drive along next to the track and into a walkie-talkie they will make a throaty nose to coax the camels along. Sam Borden, author of The New York Times article “Sprinting Over the Dirt, With a Robot on the Hump” gives a detailed description of the mechanics behind the robots:

 “The Dewalt power drill is the heart and lungs of the modern robot jockey; shop workers like Raheem and Jameel order the drills in bulk and use them, and their rechargeable batteries, to construct the core of each robot. Remote-entry clickers (the kind used for cars) combine with long ribbons of plastic wrapped in cotton to make a spinning whip that can be activated from afar, and walkie-talkies allow the owner to speak to the camel from a trailing S.U.V.”

  These jockeys have been an attractive substitute to children, but there is some question as to whether or not there is some resistance and if the camels are treated well. To own a camel is expensive but the owners take pride in them and take good care of them as Mr. Borden explained, “owning a camel is an honor in many Gulf countries, and there are laws about how much tax a camel owner must pay (it depends, in part, on how many camels he or she owns). Camels can also be used to pay a woman’s dowry — prices vary — or as collateral in a trade of goods or services.” The safety and health of the camels is clearly a priority. As for the children Mr. Borden continues to say that “some owners said quietly that they still might prefer to have human jockeys, though none would say so publicly.  But a majority, perhaps recognizing the troubling perception of having children ride animals that stand 6 feet tall and can run up to 40 miles per hour, unabashedly praised the technology now widely used instead: robots.” 

It seems that this solution to a human’s right issue has been well-received and accepted by all parties. If there are people that do not like this change it appears that they are a minority and, therefore, are not speaking out against it. The camels are treated well and the children have started to be returned to their families. Hopefully the robots will continue the good work. 

Yemen’s Health Crisis: The Result of an Ongoing Civil War

Yemen is currently viewed as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. In 2015, a Saudi and Emirati-led coalition intervened in Yemen. They supported the internationally recognized government against the Ansar Allah, more commonly known as the Houthis. This led to a civil war throughout Yemen. This conflict is just as intense today as it was six years ago. This has made it difficult to control communicable disease and chronic malnutrition, leading to the near collapse of the humanitarian response. Due to this, the country is also, for the third year in a row, at the top of the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) annual Emergency Watchlist. 

A mobile health clinic in Yemen. Due to the ongoing fighting, it is dangerous or impossible for families to go to health centers.

The IRC’s deputy nutrition coordinator Abeer Fowzi says, “Yemen faces a triple threat from conflict, hunger and a collapsing international response. At the end of 2020, malnutrition for children under 5 was the highest ever recorded, yet, in the face of an unprecedented threat, the world has turned its back on Yemen”. Yemen has a population of 29.3 million, and 24 million of those citizens are in need of assistance. The funding for humanitarian programs has dropped significantly, forcing the scaling back and closure of 31 out of 41 major United Nations programs. The 8.5 million food rations being provided by the World Food Program has also been cut in half. This is leaving three million fewer citizens without aid each month. Along with this dire situation, in 2020, Yemen needed at least $3.4 billion, but the Humanitarian Response Plan only received $1.9 billion. 

Since the start of Yemen’s civil war up until late 2019, more than 100,000 are estimated to have lost their lives as a direct result of the war. More than 130,000 citizens have died as an indirect result of the war. These Yemeni have died from starvation and disease. The outbreak of cholera began in 2017 and has killed thousands of people, despite the disease being completely treatable. Cholera is a bacterial disease usually spread through contaminated water. This disease causes severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration, and, if left untreated, can become fatal within hours. There were more than one million cases of cholera in 2017 alone. There have been another 991,000 cases reported between 2018 and 2019. 

Diphtheria is also spreading throughout the country at a fast rate. Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by bacteria that produces a toxin. This infection can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and death. In Yemen there is a scarce amount of medical supplies and limited access to medical care. More than 80% of the country’s population lacks food, fuel, and drinking water. 

Yemen is currently considered one of the most dangerous places for children to live. This is due to the high rates of communicable diseases, limited access to routine immunization and health services for children and families, poor infant and young child feeding practices, and inadequate sanitation and hygiene systems. Around two million children under the age of 5 are classified as acutely malnourished. It is expected that of these two million children, in 2021 over 400,000 of them are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition which is deadly if they are not treated urgently. A child’s physical and cognitive development is damaged if they suffer from malnutrition during their first two years of life. 

Children in a camp who have been displaced.

More than half of the health facilities in Yemen no longer function. There is no government support towards the health system, making outside assistance the only organizations preventing total collapse. The International Committee of the Red Cross is supplying hospitals, health facilities, medicine, and emergency medical supplies to help the people in Yemen as much as they can. The IRC has been providing clean drinking water and reproductive health care services along with supporting primary health facilities, emergency obstetric and newborn care centers, and hundreds of health care workers. They also deploy mobile health teams to remote areas, run therapeutic feeding programs for malnourished children, and help with the establishment of a COVID-19 isolation unit. 

Joe Biden and his administration have a focus on ending the war in Yemen and bringing peace to one of the poorest countries in the world. Without the chance of peace, the citizens of Yemen will only continue to get sicker and the war will continue to escalate.

The Resilience of Qatar

Historically, nationalism has been very helpful for many countries, such as when civil or international wars broke out, and many people supported the efforts by either joining or volunteering as a soldier or donating what they could to the cause. Extreme nationalism can lead to either unwavering support of one’s country or its destruction. Although nationalism may have a connotation that is derogatory, the term can actually be used in a positive light to describe patriotic actions or situations. In Qatar, the country’s nationalism has helped it through a tough time.

Every year on December 18, Qatar celebrates its independence from its fellow Arab countries. Up until 2008 Qatar had marked its National Day celebration by commemorating the day the British relinquished control and left the country in the hands of the Al Thani, the ruling family of Qatar, to rule fully independently on September 3, 1971. The change to December 18 is interesting, as it marks the battle fought between Jassim Al Thani and the OttomanTurks in 1871, in which the tribes of Qatar united to defeat the last Ottoman presence on the Peninsula. Moving the date of this national day was certainly an act of nationalism. Qataris commemorate the occasion with many choosing to affix elaborate displays to their cars, fly flags or even dye their white robes maroon so as to mimic the flag itself.

On June 5, 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE cut off Qatar by land, air, and sea, and severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar to try to get the small country to stop being quite so friendly toward Iran. Consequently, the slogan for 2017’s independence day celebration was “Promises of Prosperity and Glory.” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Abdulrahman al-Thani made it clear that it was a message aimed at Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the nations involved in the blockade. In the face of the quartet’s boycotts, Qatar’s expatriates and locals alike joined on the corniche in Doha in a display of patriotism and defiance.

Despite Doha’s refusal to capitulate, the Saudi/Emirati-led bloc was determined to pressure Qatar into changing its foreign policy and may resort to more action aimed at further restricting the country. By making Qataris pay an economic and political price for their government’s foreign policy, the Saudi/Emirati-led bloc wanted to cause Qatar’s citizens to begin blaming their ruling monarchy for their country’s relative isolation. Yet one month after the severance of diplomatic relations between three GCC members and Doha, the Emirate remained stable with no major opposition to the Al Thani royals coming from any Qataris. On the contrary, Qataris rallied around Emir Tamim who is riding a wave of Qatari nationalism and enjoying growing support from his fellow Qataris. The art of Sheikh Tamim has been printed on T-shirts, flags, and cars, to show the citizens’ love and support for their leader.

On January 5, 2021, gulf Arab leaders signed an agreement to ease a rift with Qatar following Saudi Arabia’s decision to end the embargo and restore diplomatic relations. It is the ruler of Qatar who comes away from all this with the greatest gains. In essence, the embargo ended on Qatar’s terms, with Doha retaining as much control of its policies, at home and abroad, as it had before the isolation began. Sheikh Tamim, the Emir of Qatar, can claim with some justification that his tiny nation has become stronger over the last few years. On the foreign-policy front, Qatar was able to deepen its relations with Turkey and Iran during the embargo — as both countries provided vital supplies and transport links — without weakening its ties to the U.S. or the major world powers. Doha used its vast wealth to build up its armed forces, acquiring an array of weapons systems from the U.S. and Europe. Qatar also developed its own food security by encouraging local companies in agri-businesses. Some of these companies will now have the opportunity to compete in the GCC and Egyptian markets against Saudi and Emirati firms.The Qataris are proud of what their country has achieved on the international stage over the past several decades, rising from an impoverished Arabian backwater to the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter/producer, a key military partner of the United States, and owner of Al Jazeera that leverages tremendous economic and political influence across multiple regions of the world. Although in the past nationalism has been an intimidating force in the form of extremists and the divide between the Sunni and Shia groups, Qataris are now more focused on their own country and its well being.

In Egypt, Nationalism and Autocracy Don’t Much Care for Cultural History

Egypt, the world’s largest Arab country, is also its most unique. Unlike post-colonial constructs like Iraq and Syria, or modern kingdoms like Saudi Arabia, the people of Egypt descend from one of the world’s great ancient civilizations of antiquity, whose wonders have long captured the imagination of foreign monarchs and traders. For millennia, Egypt’s Mediterranean culture and economy has been tied to Europe unlike other Arab nations’: Egypt’s lush Nile River Valley led its people to develop a civilization rooted in sedentary agriculture rather than nomadism. But today, the autocratic Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, is hardly distinguishable from his Arab neighbors – like Mohammed bin Salman, whose oil-rich family were Bedouin nomads little more than a century ago. Sisi, like his autocratic contemporaries around the globe, has used the restoration of Egyptian patriotism to cloak his regime’s brutal ascension. 

Sisi came to power in a 2013 coup d’état that ended two years of unrest and sporadic violence in Egypt that had seen the government control change hands from the nation’s longtime dictator, Hosni Mubarak, to the Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi. Morsi came from the Muslim Brotherhood, a political faction that aiming to spread Islamic law and values in Egypt. Upon receiving the office of president, Morsi’s attempts to derail his country’s new constitution and pursue the full extent of his party’s Islamist agenda proved immediately unpopular, especially with the military establishment, led by General Sisi. Sisi’s coup months later heralded a return to domestic stability and preached a doctrine of Egyptian nationalism to oppose the Muslim Brotherhood’s radical Islamism. The military is often any nation’s strongest point of national pride, and in Egypt, where disrespecting the long-standing military has been unthinkable for decades, this was certainly the case. For many Egyptians, Sisi was (and remains) a true patriot: a former general who restored order to a country plagued by civil unrest. With billions spent on showy military and infrastructure projects, many suggest that Sisi now aims to depict himself as the ideological descendant of President Nasser, the Egyptian nationalist who overthrew Egypt’s monarchy in 1952.

While other nationalists around the world and throughout history have praised their nations’ cultures and histories, Sisi’s nationalism has little to do with cultural pride and everything to do with political solidarity. He has no genuine interest in Egypt’s ethnic or cultural history, only in wrapping his corrupt regime in the cloak of nationalism. Take Pharaonism, a nationalist movement in post-colonial 20th century Egypt. Pharaonists were anti-colonials who believed that post-war Egypt should be founded as a secular ethnic nation of Egyptians, not Arabs, reviving the region’s ancient history, language, and culture to distinguish Egypt from the rest of the Arab world. But in contrast, Sisi has met international rebuke for his careless treatment of Egyptian antiquities and monuments. Pharaonism or anything like it is entirely absent from Sisi’s regime. During his seven years in office, Sisi has cozied himself up to other regional autocrats and stolen from their playbooks, turning his people against foreign “subversives” and domestic “insurgents.” His regime has persecuted domestic opposition groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and foreign journalists and aid workers. Human Rights Watch says that, “Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, Egypt has been experiencing its worst human rights crisis” in decades. From 2011-2013, el-Sisi’s soldiers massacred anti-military protestors and carried out attacks on Egypt’s most prominent minority group, Coptic Christians. As recently as 2020, el-Sisi was thrust prominently into the global spotlight after his regime detained humanitarian workers, and the Italian government officially accused Sisi’s security forces of involvement in the 2015 murder of an Italian researcher in Cairo.

To hear it from Sisi, these flagrant exploits in self-preservation are acts of patriotism that will ensure the stability and security of the Egyptian nation. To question that truth is unthinkable. This brand of nationalism is weak; it carries little ideological weight. Even if Egyptians reject Pharaonism’s romantic musings, the Muslim Brotherhood once offered a model for Egyptian nationalism with a practical, yet still ideological, approach, before the organization was forced underground. Instead of seizing on ancient Egyptian culture, the people of Egypt could acknowledge the current reality, that Egypt is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, and build a just, Muslim nation from the ground-up in complete defiance of the corrupt gulf monarchies. Of course, we’ll never know if this ideology would have panned out without 2013’s coup d’état: Would Morsi have proven a just leader? Perhaps a benevolent dictator? What’s certain is that Sisi has rejected both the Pharaonistic and Islamic approach to Egyptian nationalism and hopes that if he continues to present himself as the Egyptian saviour, no one will question his rule. Lest they be unpatriotic. 

Beyond his military power, perhaps the reason Sisi could so easily grab power was that in 2013 there was no shared picture of what post-Mubarak Egypt would, should, or could look like. Pro-democracy reformers were at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood who were at odds with the military. There wasn’t a clear national image, and the man with the biggest stick – in this case, the man with the most American-made missiles and assault rifles – assumed power. Today, Sisi champions nationalism from Cairo. In his words, he defends Egypt against nefarious insurgents and subversives. But he fails to foster a state of true national pride, something no doubt felt by those under the bootheel of his brutal regime.

The Age of Media: Hyper-Nationalistic Saudi Arabia on the Rise

Nationalism has been, and is, on the rise, in Saudi Arabia. A new nationalism in the country has been transforming domestic politics and foreign policy. The main reason for turning over this new leaf is to expedite the rise of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and back his reform agenda. Bin Salman took to the throne in 2015, and since then, nationalism changed along with the shift in royalty. Author for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Eman Alhussein, states that for decades, “nationalism as an ideology was incompatible with the Kingdom’s dominant religious identity. This identity cemented a sense of unity for the country while legitimising the government through a narrative in which clerics emphasised adherence to the ruler.” Preceding rulers were hesitant in promoting nationalism as they thought it would raise questions about the government’s responsibility and counter Saudia Arabia’s absolute monarchy structure in turn.

Today, Saudi Arabia has developed a new nationalism revolving around and aiming for the rise of younger leadership and to reinforce a radical reform program to return Saudi Arabia back to “moderate Islam” as the Prince likes to phrase it. The influence of Mohammed bin Salman has helped young Saudis, making up almost 51% of the population, who “do not relate to the long-dominant religious atmosphere.” So far, the new nationalism has proven successful, although, loyalty of the citizens has been put to the test. The new approach to nationalism revolves a great deal around balance: balance of the state, religion, the citizens, and nationalism itself. Saudi Arabia has a very diverse population regarding ethnicity and has always been a hindrance in the formation of a unified “sense of national belonging”.

As humans, we tend to want to feel as though we belong to a group, and a strong presence of nationalism aids in that. Mohammed bin Salman has attempted to instill Saudi pride in its citizens by such acts as making it a “point of visiting remote and picturesque sites in the Kingdom, and of making direct links to the core constituencies he is cultivating. The undertakings not only generated funds but also directed the population to examine their potential and capabilities, all with the aim of promoting a sense of pride.” Loyal citizens to the state and country came out of the woodworks because of this.

Aggressive Saudis have taken to the media, which has helped nationalism spread on a wider platform. While this can be viewed as a positive way for Saudis to make their voices heard, writers England and Omran from the Financial Times stated its faults, insinuating that “in an environment where even the hint of dissent can lead to jail, some fear that being called out on social media for the mere appearance of not displaying sufficient loyalty to Prince Mohammed can cost them their reputation and their jobs — even their freedom.” People have been marked as “traitors” for even just assuming to be against the government, and with social media involved, the backlash can be and has been detrimental to some. Anything posted on the internet can eventually be found, and information can be dug up just to create a target towards someone if they are suspected of disrespecting and not supporting the Saudi government. Going hand in hand with nationalism, the new narrative for Saudi Arabia is one that is populist.

The media is directly linked to the rise in nationalism for Saudi Arabia. With the newer rise to power, the plan to inspire unity was sure to change slightly. Time has only proven that with Mohammed bin Salman in authority, his power has led to and resulted in hyper-nationalism. Combined with the internet and passionate citizens, nationalism has been destructive in some ways, and has villainized those who do not support the Saudi government fully. By extension, the new plan to instill nationalism in Saudis has led to hyper-nationalism today.