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On Thursday July 24, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled “Iraq at a Crossroads: Options for U.S. Policy.” The first panel Brett McGurk, Deputy Assistant Secretary Of State For Iraq And Iran, and Elissa Slotkin, performing the duties of the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Principal and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. The second panel featured, James F. Jeffrey, Philip Solondz Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Michael D. Barbero, former Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army, and Kenneth M. Pollack, Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) chaired the hearing.
For full event notes continue reading or click here for the PDF.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) began the hearing by introducing the issue at hand. The current situation in Iraq, Mendez argues, is evidence of the spillover effects coming from Syria. The senator expressed disappointment in the lost investment in Iraq after so much money and effort has been put into establishing a new state. However, Menendez believes Iraq …
Source: Fox News
The Washington Post reported that its correspondent in Tehran, Jason Rezaian, had been detained, along with his wife, who is a reporter for The National, and two freelance photojournalists.
Rezaian, who has worked in Tehran with accreditation for the Post since 2012, holds dual Iranian and American citizenship; his wife is an Iranian citizen and the two photojournalists are American. It is unclear which authorities have detained the group and why they have been detained. The Committee to Project Journalists released a statement calling upon the Iranian government to explain the detention and release the four detainees immediately.
According to BBC Farsi, early Friday morning the Director General of the Tehran Justice Department Golham Hussein Esmaili confirmed that Rezaian has been arrested but that the matter is currently under investigation, and ensured the public that “the judiciary will comment on the issue once it has moves beyond this preliminary stage.” Washington Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl commented that “we are deeply troubled by this news and are concerned for the welfare of Jason, [his wife] Yeganeh and the two others with them” noting that Rezaian, who has worked as the Post’s Tehran correspondent …
Iranian Leaders Express Solidarity with Palestine, Urge Action from Muslims and the International Community
Photo Credit: Fars News
According to Mehr News, speaker of parliament Ali Larijani urged Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing to Gaza for Palestinians to escape violence as “a necessary… humanitarian act of kindness.” He called the “deaths of innocent women and children” in Palestine “a gross violation of human rights.” Larijani then noted that this is a “historic moment for Egypt and its government” to “embody their role” as responsible actors in the region. The deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces emphasized in a recent press conference that the country’s military is capable of confrontation with major powers.
Commander of Iran’s Basij force said as well ”We ask the resistance forces in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon to endorse a defense pact so that an attack on any of them will be an attack on all of them and if the Zionist regime makes an aggression against any of them, all of them will grow united to confront it,” Naqdi said, addressing a gathering in Tehran on Monday night. He noted, “With supremacy over the region, we are thoroughly prepared to confront any source of insecurity.”
President Rouhani encouraged Iranians to attend nationwide Quds rallies on …
On Tuesday, July 22, the Atlantic Council held an event entitled “The Struggle for Public Space in Egypt.” Khaled Dawoud, Official Spokesman of the Al-Dostour Party and Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Weekly, spoke on the increasingly limited space for public debate and contestation in Egypt. Mirette F. Mabrouk, Deputy Director for regional programs at the Hariri Center moderated the discussion.
For the full event note, please continue reading or click here for the PDF.
Mirette F. Mabrouk opened the event by pointing to the fact that main non-state actors in Egypt – the media, political parties, and NGOs – are in turmoil. She asked about the current of the ultra-nationalist’s impact on these actors. Khaled Dawoud mentioned that media was under tight control throughout history. After the 2011 revolution, people hoped that space for speech would open up, and expected space for credible media that holds the government accountable. However, the state-run media did not change that much, remaining close to the government. Under Morsi’s rule, the Shura Council controlled the entire press media, assuring all of them stay loyal to the president. It is worth noting that TV channels made “tremendous” progress during this time, but the …
Photo Credit: AP/Khalil Hamra
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S.2649 which would “provide certain legal relief from politically motivated charges by the Government of Egypt.”
Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the bill stipulates that “no verdict, order, warrant, or writ issued” by any Egyptian authority relating to the conviction of 43 NGO workers in 2013 “shall be considered a conviction and no person named in such verdict, order, warrant, or writ shall be considered to have been charged, accused, found guilty, or convicted.” Furthermore, the bill recognizes that “any legal charges, trial proceedings, and convictions issued by the Cairo Criminal Court,” against the NGO workers in 2013, are ”politically motivated in origin and invalid.”
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Sam LaHood, former director for the International Republican Institute in Egypt, states that because he is considered a felon under Egyptian law since he was one of the 43 convicted NGO workers and sentenced to five years in prison with hard labor, “it is unclear whether that status applies in the United States.” LaHood therefore has had to “read the fine print …