Iraq scouts make comeback in ex-extremist bastion Mosul

Iraqi scout leaders parade with national flags during training at the "Al-Hadbaa" scout camp in the northern city of Mosul on February 25, 2018, with the participation of scout teams from various parts of Iraq. (AFP)
Updated 03 April 2018

Iraq scouts make comeback in ex-extremist bastion Mosul

  • The scouts of Mosul and Iraq are back
  • Iraq was one of the first Arab countries to join the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1914

MOSUL: Scouts are making a symbolic comeback in Mosul after a three-year absence from the city that used to serve as Daesh’s capital in Iraq.
With white shirts and neckerchiefs, more than 200 male and female scout leaders from across Iraq recently converged on the city that was devastated by three years of extremists rule and nine months of heavy urban warfare.
It was “a message to Iraq and the world: The scouts of Mosul and Iraq are back,” Mohammed Ibrahim, head of scout activities in Mosul, told AFP.
The rally took place at Mosul’s scout camp set in the heart of a wooded area popular with locals for family outings on Fridays, the weekly day of rest in Iraq.
Iraq was one of the first Arab countries to join the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1914 when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.
But in 1999, the world scout body evicted the Iraqi chapter because it was allegedly being used by former dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime for military training.
But the Iraqi scouts kept operating.
In 2017, they were readmitted into the international scouting world and have since grown to 25,000 members across the country.
Loudspeakers blasted nationalist songs at full volume as children from local schools paraded in traditional Iraqi dress at the Mosul rally.
For Qassima Mohsen, a 42-year-old scout leader in the southern province of Zi Qar, the 800-kilometer (500-mile) trip to Mosul had both symbolic and personal value.
In the early 2000s, she used to come regularly to Mosul’s scout camp for gatherings.
More than 15 years later — after the US-led invasion, the fall of Saddam, years of sectarian violence, the jihadist occupation of nearly a third of the country and its subsequent recapture by Iraqi forces — she is back.
With the ouster of the extremists from Mosul last July, she has returned to the northern city to help build an activities center for young scouts in the area.
The rally also provided a space for leaders and organizers from across the country to network and discuss future projects.
“We will organize camps in Mosul to lend a hand with its reconstruction,” said Ali Latif, a 34-year-old scout leader from Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic northern province.


Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

Lebanese anti-government protesters flash victory signs as they head to the south of Lebanon on a 'revolution' bus from central Beirut on November 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

  • The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest

BEIRUT: A Lebanese “revolution bus” traveling from north to south to unite protesters was halted by troops outside the city of Sidon on Saturday.
The army set up a road block to prevent the bus and a large protest convoy entering Sidon, the third-largest city in the country.
Local media said that the decision had been made to defuse tensions in the area following widespread protests.
Lebanese troops blocked the Beirut-South highway at the Jiyeh-Rumailah checkpoint over “security concerns,” a military source told Arab News.
“Some people in Sidon objected to the crossing of the bus and we feared that problems may take place,” the source added.
A protester in Ilya Square in Sidon said: “Those who do not want the bus to enter Sidon should simply leave the square because there are many who want to welcome the bus.”
The army allowed the bus to enter the town of Rumailah, 2 km from Sidon. “The bus will stop here after nightfall because of security fears and the risk of an accident,” the military source said.
The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest.
Activists said the protest bus “is spreading the idea of a peaceful revolution by unifying the people.”
“The pain is the same from the far north of Lebanon to the south and the only flag raised is the Lebanese flag,” one activist said.
Organizers of the protest convoy rejected claims that the cities of Sidon, Nabatieh and Tyre were reluctant to welcome the bus, and voiced their respect for the Lebanese army decision.

After leaving Akkar the bus passed through squares that witnessed protests in Tripoli, Batroun, Jbeil, Zouk Mosbeh, Jal El Dib and Beirut. Protesters chanted “Revolution” and lined the route of the convoy, turning it into a “procession of the revolution.”
The bus paused in Khalde, where the first victim of the protests, Alaa Abu Fakhr, was shot and killed a few days ago by a Lebanese soldier. The victim’s widow and family welcomed the convoy and protesters laid wreaths at the site of the shooting.
Activists’ tweets on Saturday claimed that life in Beirut’s southern suburbs is as difficult as in other areas of Lebanon.
“As a Shiite girl living in the heart of the southern suburbs, I deny that we are living well and not suffering. We are in a worse position than the rest of the regions,” said an activist who called herself Ruanovsky.
“No one is doing well,” said Wissam Abdallah. “The suburbs have external security and safety, but unfortunately there is a lot of corruption. There are forged car van plates, motorcycle mafia, Internet and satellite mafia, royalties mafia, and hashish and drugs mafia. Municipalities have to deal with these things as soon as possible.”