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A Kuwaiti court “temporarily suspended the publication of two independent newspapers over articles about a secret probe into allegations of a coup plot to overthrow the Gulf monarchy’s government.” Al Watan and Alam Al Yawm were suspended by the Information Ministry “because they had violated a prosecuter-ordered media blackout of the investigation.”
Meanwhile, a Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) report examines ”the restrictions placed on freedom of expression, the misuse of the judicial system to attack human rights defenders, in particular those advocating for the rights of the Bidoon community,” in Kuwait. The report finds that “protests have taken place in relation to political opposition, the passage of laws disenfranchising the electorate and the lack of rights of the Bidoon.” In addition, “human rights defenders, including lawyers and journalists face on-going trials on trumped-up charges which have little adherence to international judicial fair procedures. Many go about their peaceful human rights activities under fear of being intimidated, harassed, detained and tortured.”
The report “calls on the government of Kuwait to revoke articles 25 and 111 of the penal code” which “[outlaw] objecting to the rights and authorities of the Emir” and “criminalizes anyone ‘who mocks God …
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During a mass pro-reform demonstration in Casablanca earlier this month, nine February 20 activists were arrested. The government recently rejected their request for bail. The demonstration, which 10,000 people took part and was organized by Morocco’s three main unions “targeted the policies, and especially the austerity measures, introduced by Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane,” but activists also “shouted slogans ‘against the regime as a whole.”
George Joffé argues that, “the reformers have not abandoned their objectives.” In describing Morocco’s long and incomplete transition to a liberal democracy, he said that “the monarchy had survived…because it was weak and legitimate and, as such, became the indispensable mediator.” He added that “the very strength of the monarchy was also its greatest weakness,” and “its ultimate survival would depend on its ability to share power. In the context of the modern state…it had to constitutionalize itself…through a process of slow and guided political liberalization.” He concludes, “In the end those reformers will achieve their goals, for they coincide with the palace’s own ultimate objective for survival.”
In contrast, Mohamed Daadaoui asserts that “Morocco is a carefully engineered political scene where the regime is, for now, virtually uncontested.” He …
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On Wednesday, April 23, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution held an event entitled “Understanding Tahrir Square: The Prospects for Arab Democracy.” Tamara Cofman Wittes, Senior Fellow and the Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy gave opening remarks. Stephen R. Grand, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World was the featured speaker. Jackson Diehl, Deputy Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Post, moderated the event.
For full event notes keep reading or click here for the PDF. Wittes gave brief opening remarks, congratulating Grand on the success of his new book, and acknowledging his comparative perspective that spread beyond just Tahrir and Egypt. She also mentioned his extensive experience “in scholarship and in practice” that lent itself to “re-thinking people power movements” in the Middle East and across the globe.
Grand then gave his opening statement. He began by quoting one of his colleagues saying: “You can tweet a revolution but it is much more difficult to tweet a transition to democracy.” He acknowledged the difficulties in creating a “liberal democracy” and governments that hold regular elections, uphold rights and …
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US Secretary of State John Kerry ”is certifying to Congress that Egypt is sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States,” allowing for the obligation of FY2014 funds for assistance to the Government of Egypt.
In a phone call, Kerry told his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy ”that Egypt is upholding its obligations under the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.” Kerry also told Fahmy he is “not yet able to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition.” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki elaborated on this during Wednesday’s press briefing saying: “We continue to urge Egypt to follow through on its commitment to transition to democracy, including by conducting free, fair, and transparent elections; easing restrictions on freedom of expression; assembly in the media. And those are steps that Egypt needs to take, even while we take these steps on our end.” Psaki additionally explained that the administration plans to “ move forward with 650 million of FY 2014 FMF financing, pending congressional notification and approval” saying that this “will support these critical security efforts and continue to fund contracts for other goods and services.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterated similar points to Defense Minister …
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A “special commission” established to draft Libya’s new constitution convened for the first time Sunday in the eastern city of Bayda. It held an opening ceremony that included tribal elders, government officials, and journalists. The commission is composed of 47 elected committee members “drawn equally from all regions.” It was originally intended to have 60 members, but security concerns in the city of Derna and several other areas in the south “made it impossible to hold elections there.” Additionally, the Amazigh and Tebu minorities “boycotted the committee to demand more rights.” Because the elections were never completed, former lawmaker Tawfiq al-Shahaibi says “anyone can challenge the work of the committee by filing a petition to the constitutional court.” While the committee members were tasked with drafting the constitution in 120 days, “analysts expect the process to take much longer given growing chaos as well as tribal and political divisions.” Ayman al-Warfalli suggests that “the new document’s authors will need to take into account deepening political and tribal rivalries, as well as demands for more autonomy for the east, when deciding what political system Libya will adopt.”
Meanwhile, the General National Congress (GNC) began hearing seven …