Verdict on a tumultuous decade: optimistic Gulf versus gloomy Levant, says Arab Youth Survey

Among Arab Spring economies, a majority of Egyptian youth said the events of 2011 and their aftermath were “negative.” (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2018

Verdict on a tumultuous decade: optimistic Gulf versus gloomy Levant, says Arab Youth Survey

  • Young people in the Levant has turned increasingly pessimistic over the past two years, the survey reveals
  • Young Arabs increasingly believe that Daesh and its ideology are getting weaker

DUBAI: Young Arabs are sharply divided on their assessment of the big changes in the region over the past 10 years, the Arab Youth Survey reveals, with the biggest contrast between youth in the Levant and those in the Arabian Gulf.
Some 85 percent of young Arabs living in the Levant thought that things had gone in the “wrong direction” over the past 10 years, while in the Gulf only 34 percent said things had deteriorated. In North Africa, opinion was roughly split down the middle.
The rise of Daesh was seen as the most negative event affecting their outlook, with 85 percent viewing it unfavorably, while the Arab Spring was seen as a negative development by 56 percent.
Young people in the Levant has turned increasingly pessimistic over the past two years, the survey reveals, with 72 percent of those polled in 2018 agreeing with the statement “our best days are behind us.” In 2016, 64 percent were optimistic about the future.
In the Arabian Gulf, 82 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the future.
Even among the so-called Arab Spring countries, opinions are polarized. In Yemen (50 percent) and in Egypt (52 percent) majorities of young people said the events of 2011 and their aftermath were “negative”, while in Libya (42 percent positive) and Tunisia (50 percent positive) the assessment was more favorable.
On what measures should be taken to improve economic and social conditions among young people in the region, defeating terrorist organizations (34 percent) was seen as the most important, but “creating new, well-paying jobs”, modernizing the education system, and “cracking down on government corruption”, were also identified as priorities.
Only 14 percent thought that “granting more personal freedom to citizens” was important.
There was strong support across the region for the anti-corruption campaign of the Saudi Arabian government. Some 86 percent of young Arabs region-wide welcomed the initiative, rising to 94 percent support in the Kingdom.
Among young Saudi men and women there were high levels of optimism for the Vision 2030 strategy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Some 94 percent of women and 91 percent of men were confident that the strategy would be a success.
Across the region, and especially in the Gulf, the crown prince was identified as the leader who would have a bigger impact than any other Arab leader over the next decade.
Young Arabs increasingly believe that Daesh and its ideology are getting weaker, with 78 percent agreeing with that proposition, and 68 percent confident in their government’s ability to deal with the terrorist organization.


Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

Updated 51 min 40 sec ago

Syria Kurds hand over four Daesh-linked children to Germany

  • They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant
  • A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate

SIMALKA CROSSING: The Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria on Monday handed over four children linked with the Daesh group to Germany, their first such repatriation to the European country, an official said.
“The autonomous region handed over four children from Daesh families to a delegation from Germany,” said Fanar Kaeet, a foreign affairs official with the Kurdish authorities.
They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant who was repatriated for health reasons, Kurdish authorities said.
All are under 10 years old, they said.
A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan at the Simalka border crossing.
“I can confirm that four children who were in custody in northern Syria were able to leave Syria,” she said.
“The children were received on the Iraqi-Syrian border by staff of the consulate in Irbil and will be given to family members,” the spokeswoman said.
“From there, the children and their family members will, we believe, travel to Germany.”
Syria’s Kurds have spearheaded the US-backed fight against Daesh in Syria, and in March expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in the war-torn country’s far east.
Even as they fight remaining sleeper cells, thousands of alleged Daesh fighters and family members are being held in their custody.
These include hundreds of suspected foreign fighters in their jails, and thousands of their alleged family members in overcrowded camps.
Western countries have been largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals.
But France and Belgium have brought a handful of orphans home, while the United States last year repatriated a woman with her four children.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” there, but offensives in both countries have seen them lose that territory.
A dozen children of alleged jihadist fighters have been repatriated from Iraq to Germany since March.