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On Saturday, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement [Persian] on the U.S. Department of State’s Human Rights report, criticizing its findings. In its statement, the Ministry noted that the “U.S. is not in an appropriate position to criticize Iran.” The statement stressed that the report’s findings were based on opposition sources critical of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It also criticized “the extensive and systematic human rights violations” in Guantanamo Bay.
The State Department called human rights concerns in Iran “egregious.” The biggest areas of concern were “the government’s manipulation of the electoral process, which severely limited citizens’ right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; restrictions on civil liberties, including the freedoms of assembly, speech, and press; and disregard for the physical integrity of persons whom it arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, tortured, or killed.” The report is particularly critical of a lack of due process in many Iranian proceedings. For example, “The government placed persons under house arrest without due process to restrict their movement and communication. At year’s end former presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, remained under house arrest imposed …
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Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar because they felt “Qatar failed to uphold its end of a security agreement to stop interfering in other nations’ politics and supporting organizations that threaten the Gulf’s stability.” The Associated Press asserts that this move is more directly related to Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Jazeera. After the announcement, Qatar’s stock market dropped more than two percent.
Qatar’s cabinet chose not to withdraw its own ambassadors in response, explaining that it is “absolutely keen on brotherly ties between the Qatari people and fellow brotherly GCC peoples, which prevent Qatar from taking a similar procedure of recalling its ambassadors.” BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner suggests, “What lies behind this is a growing conviction felt in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain that Qatar is unwilling to end its alleged support for Islamist and extremist groups in the region.”
Elizabeth Dickinson argues that “what seems to have angered Qatar’s neighbors most is Doha’s persistent attempts to regain the political initiative in the Middle East,” particularly by maintaining close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Additionally, she quotes a Doha-based opposition member to explain …
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Yemeni troops and Islamists “engaged in heavy fighting with Shiite rebels in the north…for control of local government offices in Hizm, capital of Jawf province. In response to the approval of the six-region federation, the rebels fight “to seize Hizm so as to be able to integrate all of Jawf into the Azal region, one of four to be created in the north, that includes their stronghold of Saada province.”
Meanwhile, The State Department released its annual Country Report on Human Rights. The report cited that the “most significant human rights problems” in Yemen were “arbitrary killings and other acts of violence committed by the government and various entities and groups, disappearances and kidnappings, and a weak and corrupt judicial system that did not ensure the rule of law.” It also reported that ”impunity was persistent and pervasive.” In addition, the report said that armed groups such as terrorists, pro-government and opposition militias, and regional or religious insurgents “engaged in internal armed conflict with government forces and committed significant abuses during the year.”
Although the report noted improvement in areas of freedom of speech and press, there were still concerns regarding government “enforced restrictions on …
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The State Department’s Human Rights Report on Tunisia said that “constraints on media and freedom of expression, the use of excessive force against protesters, and the absence of transparent and speedy investigations into previous allegations of human rights abuses” were the main human rights concerns in Tunisia in 2013. One example of violence imposed by security forces came from a demonstration last May “against the government’s decision not to allow a rally by Ansar-al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T), a hard-line Salafist group,” which resulted in one death and at least three injuries. The report also mentioned the failure of Tunisian officials to maintain effective control over the security sector during the period of democratic transition, which contributed to “attacks by Salafist extremists on individuals, private homes, and businesses,” including the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy, which “authorities failed to prosecute effectively.”
As part of a television interview, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa asserted [Fr] that his government was founded on solidarity and national unity, saying that the new government needed to maintain political neutrality. Jomaa discussed [Fr] the importance of establishing an electoral law and eradicating terrorism, and he mentioned the successful implementation of 250 domestic development …
Photo Credit: Atlantic Council
On March 4, 2014, the Atlantic Council hosted an event entitled “Tunisia’s Next Chapter: The Nexus Between Politics, Economy, and Security.” The event featured Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Tunisia to the United States Kais Darragi, Founder and President of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy Radwan Masmoudi, Founding Member of the Tunisian American Young Professionals Mariem Malouche, and Professor at the University of Carthage Haykel Ben Mahfoudh. Mohsin Khan. Senior Fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council moderated the discussion.
For complete event notes continue reading or click here for the PDF.
Mohsin Khan introduced the speakers, delegating Mahfoudh to security, Malouche to the economy, and Masmoudi to the political situation. Kais Darragi began the discussion with an overview of the situation in Tunisia since adopting the constitution. He said that during the political crisis, the economic situation was forgotten, but now that there is a new political perspective, the focus has returned to the economy. Karragi said that the solutions would be painful and include public sector reforms and lowering subsidies of food and oil, but …