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On Wednesday, December 4, 2013 the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing titled “Transition at a Crossroads: Tunisia Three Years After the Revolution.” the hearing featured testimony from three witnesses: Mr. Scott Mastic, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Republican Institute; Mr. Leslie Campbell, Senior Associate and Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Democratic Institute; and Mr. Bill Sweeney, President and Chief Executive Officer at the International Institute for Electoral Systems. The hearing was presided over by the Subcommittee Chairperson, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
For full event notes, continue reading or click here for a pdf.
Representative Ros-Lehtinen opened the hearing by presenting introductory remarks. The Congresswoman noted that while the country underwent free and fair elections in October 2011, “there is still much that needs to be done to meet the goals and aspirations of the Tunisian people.” She noted that the transition and National Dialogue has stalled, and that “compounding these political problems are the economic and security challenges facing Tunisia,” including “Islamic extremism,” which she described as “one of the most …
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The Wall Street Journal reports that United States officials have reached out to Islamist militias fighting in Syria to undercut al-Qaeda, but acknowledging the gains Islamists have made on the battlefield. As part of their talks, U.S. officials have reportedly pressed “the Islamists to rein in their criticism of moderate leader General Salim Idris and the Syrian National Council, the opposition’s political umbrella group, arguing that tensions between the opposition factions risk undermining the Geneva peace conference.” Addressing questions on U.S. involvement with Islamists, U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Marie Harf stressed, ”We do not engage with terrorists,” but, ”We engage with a broad cross-section of Syrian people and political and military leaders in the opposition, including a variety of Islamist groups.”
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel went further and indicated, “If a diplomatic solution is the responsible approach [in Syria], all parties involved are going to have to be represented in some way” in any deal that is struck. He added that any peace plan in Syria “cannot be achieved by [limiting] ourselves to narrow strips of interest.” Similarly, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey suggested, ”I think it’s …
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Mohammed al-Hassani, of the Yemen Times, reports that members within the 8+8 Subcommittee tasked with reaching consensus on the “Southern Issue” are urging for a final decision to be made after the National Dialogue ends, according to subcommittee member Nadia Abdulla. Al-Hassani suggests that Southern participants favor a two-region solution, one in the north and one in the south, whereas the General People’s Congress (GPC), former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, proposed a five-region state, three in the north and two in the south. The youth, civil society representatives, and the Nasserite Party, al-Hassani notes, oppose postponing the “Southern Issue” decision until after the dialogue and instead support forming a committee composed of local and international experts to resolve the issue before the end of the National Dialogue.
According to Gulf News’s Saeed al-Batati, the GPC filed an official complaint to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon against U.N. Special Envoy Jamal Benomar for “abandon[ing] his role as a mediator and [throwing] in his lot with the Joint Meeting Parties.” The Secretary General, al-Batati suggests, has ignored the complaint and urged all parties to work with Benomar on the transition process.
Analyzing the …
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Women’s rights and human rights nongovernmental organizations have criticized the Islamist Party of Justice and Development led coalition for not including women rights activists and trying to dilute the proposed bill. Najat Errazi, the head of the Moroccan Association for Women’s Rights, expressed frustration declaring, ”we have waited for years for this law and we are now very disappointed by its content.” Sara Soujar, another activist, specifically critiques the bill for failing to include provisions for single women. Soujar said, ”this category is totally absent… Reading the text, you get the impression that violence basically only affects married or divorced women, even though others may be more exposed.” She added, ”young women who work in factories or as housemaids, many of whom are minors, are no less exposed.”
Concerns over the bill reflect a recent study published by the state planning commission (HCP) that indicate one in every two unmarried women were subjected to physical and/or verbal sexual abuse and nearly 9 percent in Morocco have been physically subjected to violence at least once.
In particular, the NGO’s have accused Bassima Hakkaoui, the Minister for Women’s Affairs and member of the ruling Islamist party, …
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ABCNews is reporting that Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Maher are set to face trial following their arrests last week. The hearings would be the first prosecuted under the new protest law. A warrant was issued for Ahmed Maher’s arrest after allegations that he attacked a police officer and stole his walkie-talkie while violating the new protest law. However, Maher has denied all the accusations against him saying that he was not aware that the protest law was in effect when he joined the demonstration. Ahmed Douma is accused of inciting violence at a protest outside of a Cairo courthouse. Douma tweeted from jail, “I am now present in Basateen police station. I still don’t know the accusation against me or the reason for my arrest.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights First published a report titled, “How to Turn Around Egypt’s Disastrous Post-Mubarak Transition,” which details steps the United States can take to “help arrest Egypt’s dangerous drift towards instability and move the country towards constitutional legitimacy, the rule of law, and legal guarantees for the rights of all Egyptians.” Neil Hicks of Human Rights First cited failures of U.S foreign policy saying, “the U.S. government has lost respect …