The POMED Wire

Yemen: Think Tank Director Detained; Peace Talks Collapse

yemen peace talks

The Executive Director of the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, Maged al-Madhaji, was arrested on July 24 by security forces loyal to the Houthi rebel movement. Al-Madhaji was taken to prison, interrogated, and then released later that same day. He had been warned by Houthi forces not to leave his home on July 22, and in 2015 al-Madhaji faced similar threats from Houthi loyalists, leading to his eventual detention. The Sana’a Center in a statement called the detention “unjustified” and asserted that it is “the latest in a series of moves by armed groups in Yemen aimed at silencing independent and principled voices in the country.”

The Sana’a Center, along with its condemnation of the arrest and detention of al-Madhaji, also urged the warring parties in Yemen to “seize the opportunity presented by the current negotiations in Kuwait to make the necessary compromises required to restore peace in Yemen.”  Tensions between the two delegations remained high over the last week, with each delegation issuing ultimatums and threatening to boycott the talks if certain demands and conditions were not met.

As the talks stalled, Kuwait issued an ultimatum to the warring factions, saying the country would no longer be willing …

U.S. Statements on Turkey’s Attempted Coup: A Timeline

On the evening of Friday, July 15, factions within the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The coup began between 10:00pm and 11:00pm Turkish local time, or 3:00-4:00pm Eastern Standard Time (EST), when members of the military marched into the streets of the capital Ankara, took over several key bridges in Istanbul, and flew fighter jets above both cities. Coup participants stormed the Turkish state news agency TRT, took over the broadcast, imposed martial law, and announced that the “political administration that has lost all legitimacy has been forced to withdraw.”

Although there have been three successful military coups and one “virtual coup” in Turkey since 1960, this attempt failed within hours, after Erdogan, in a televised FaceTime appearance around midnight local time, called on Turks to take to the streets and the government mobilized social media and mosques for the same purpose.  All the country’s major opposition parties, as well as key parts of the military, also came out on Friday night against the coup. At 8:20pm EST, 3:20am local time, Turkish officials announced on CNN Turk that the coup attempt  had been thwarted and that Erdogan was in full control.

More …

POMED Snapshot: Background on Turkey’s Slide Toward Authoritarianism

As Turkey deals with the aftermath of its failed coup last week, we would like to share our publication from 2015, entitled, “Stunted Democracy: Erdoğan, the AKP, and Turkey’s Slide into Authoritarianism.” In it, Howard Eissenstat discusses Turkey’s slide toward authoritarianism under Erdogan and concludes that, “Turkey is fast becoming a democracy in name only.”

For a full text copy of the Snapshot, click here.

The once-popular idea that contemporary Turkey could serve as a model for Middle Eastern democracy is no more. Its authoritarian slide is now painfully evident and regularly condemned in Congress and in the press. The State Department, which has traditionally preferred “quiet diplomacy” in addressing Turkish human rights abuses, has become similarly critical. In December 2014, in response to news that Turkish authorities had arrested another wave of journalists, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki noted, “Freedom of the media includes the freedom to criticize the government. Voicing opposition does not equal conspiracy or treason.” Yet, as elsewhere in the Middle East, the U.S. finds itself balancing strategic interests with its democratic ideals. In particular, the ongoing crisis of the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State have simultaneously underscored …

Bahrain Dissolves Al-Wefaq Opposition Group

On Monday, a court in Bahrain dissolved the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the island-nation’s largest opposition group. Al-Wefaq will be shuttered and its funds will be claimed by the state treasury. The decision comes a month after al-Wefaq was closed under an emergency court order requested by the Justice Ministry. The official Bahrain News Agency reported that the court said al-Wefaq “had been in stark violation of constitutional rights,” and “objected [to] the legitimacy of Bahrain’s constitution, supported violent action and posted pictures of terrorists brandishing sharp tools while claiming they were peaceful demonstrators.” The court also claimed that al-Wefaq called “for foreign interference, objected [to] the legitimacy of the legislative branch and constantly exploited places of worship to carry out its political activities.” Al-Wefaq’s defense team had refused to attend the group’s court date after the judge prevented them from accessing al-Wefaq’s offices to prepare their defense, but they are still considering whether to appeal the ruling.

In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “deeply concerned” with the decision, and noted it was “the latest in a series of disconcerting steps” taken by the Bahraini government against opposition forces. The statement also reiterated disappoint at …

Dissidents Facing Crackdown from Algerian Government

Two Algerian executives at KBC TV have been placed in court ordered pre-trial detention after being accused of making “false declarations” to obtain filming permits for a program. A culture minister employee who had issued the permits was also arrested. Days earlier, a studio producing Ness Stah (Roof People) and Ki Hna Ki Ness (Just Like Everybody Else), two talk shows broadcast on the privately owned channel, was shut down by government authorities. Ki Hna Ki Ness had been particularly critical of the government.

In a separate press freedom case, Algerian journalist Mohamed Tamalt was given a two-year prison sentence and fined 200,000 dinar ($1,800) for insulting President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Tamalt’s lawyer told the Associated Press that Algerian law prohibits the government from punishing journalists for doing their job and that Tamalt is appealing his sentence. Tamalt, a London resident who was detained while visiting his family in Algiers, had reportedly began a hunger strike in the days leading up to his trial.

Meanwhile, Hocine Benhadid, a former Algerian general who has been imprisoned since last September, was released from prison as he awaits trial. Benhadid has been accused of “knowingly taking part in efforts to demoralize the …

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