The POMED Wire

Yemen Peace Talks to Take Place in Geneva

Starting May 28th, Yemeni government and opposition members, including the Houthis, will engage in inclusive peace talks hosted by the U.N. in Geneva. The goal of the talks, as expressed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is to  ”restore momentum towards a Yemeni-led political transition process.” The U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed stressed the importance of relaunching the political dialogue so that a peaceful transition can take place.

The U.N. announced that the talks will only include Yemeni actors so that they may “come together” and concentrate on finding a solution to the country’s political instability. U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq stated, “we appreciate the support of the regional and international actors, but we expect the actual dialogue to take place between Yemenis.” Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, leader of the Houthi rebel group, publicly voiced his opinion that the talks are the “only solution” to the current conflict, while Foreign Minister Riad Yassin expressed concern over the short notice given by the U.N. and claimed that he never received an official invitation to attend the talks. Yassin also requested that the Houthis be required to “disarm and leave the cities they have seized” before the peace talks begin.…

Analysts Call for More Aid to Tunisia as President Essebsi Prepares to Meet Obama

In anticipation of  Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi‘s meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday, there have been calls to increase U.S. support for the young democracy. Citing security and economic concerns, President Essebsi has stated ”we are in a very difficult situation, and if Tunisia is going to get out of that, we need support.” Tamara Cofman Wittes writes that the support Tunisia needs has not been forthcoming in the levels appropriate for the only Arab Spring country that has experienced a lasting democratic transition. Deriding the fact that the support Tunisia has received has been security-focused, Wittes argues that “a relationship with Washington that’s overly rooted in security cooperation risks repeating the same mistake U.S. administrations made for years with other Arab governments and that brought us neither democracy nor stability.”

Similarly, the Center for Islam and Democracy and the American-Tunisian Association issued an open letter to President Barack Obama calling for drastically increased aid; the letter argues that increasing support for Tunisia is critical to the promotion of democracy in the region, stating “this is not always easy in the fog of war and terrorism, but right now Tunisia offers the best democratic example, ever, in …

Yemen Ceasefire Ends, Saudi Airstrikes Resume

Photo Credit: Reuters

Despite appeals by the United Nations for an extension, Saudi Arabia and Houthi forces have resumed fighting in Yemen. Reyad Yassin Abdulla, Yemen’s foreign minister, blamed the Houthis for a failed truce renewal. Yemen’s exiled president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi suggested that the Houthis “endangered local, regional and international security…aborted the peaceful transition of power that was agreed upon.” 

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed made a plea for a five-day extension to the truce, after declaring that “the humanitarian pause is important to give them [Yemenis] time to seek medical assistance and receive much-needed humanitarian assistance which so far has been unable to reach most Yemenis.” Yemen’s Brigadier General Sharaf Luqman responded to the failed plea attempt stating that, ”despite daily appeals of health institutions and hospitals about the disastrous health situation and the lack of drugs, we did not find any response during the days of the truce.”

Highlighting the importance of humanitarian aid in Yemen, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 12 million Yemeni people were food insecure, 13.4 million lacked access to clean water or sanitation, more than 300,000 people have been displaced, and

Morsi, AUC Professor, and More than 90 Others Sentenced to Death

Photo Credit: AP

An Egyptian court sentenced former president Mohammed Morsi to death along with more than 100 other defendants. The conviction was based on Morsi’s alleged collaboration with Hamas and Hezbollah in a series of prison breaks during the 2011 uprising during which Morsi was freed from detention. Closed court proceedings have made it unclear as to what evidence was presented against the defendants. The verdict will be reviewed by Egypt’s Grand Mufti, and, if affirmed, may be appealed. Emad Shahin, an AUC professor currently visiting at Georgetown University, was among those sentenced to death. Calling the sentences “a travesty of justice,” Professor Shahin remarked that the Egyptian government ”is currently seeking to reconstitute the security state and intimidate all opponents.”

The United States expressed criticism of the mass sentence, stating that the U.S. will “continue to stress the need for due process and individualized judicial processes for all Egyptians in the interests of justice.” The E.U. also expressed dismay at the sentencing, asserting that the court’s decision is “not in line with Egypt’s obligations under international law.” Noting that Morsi was held incommunicado and was denied counsel throughout the investigation, Amnesty International denounced the trial as a …

Obama Gathers GCC Leaders to Discuss Iran, Regional Security

Mideast Qatar Gulf Ambassadors

Photo Credit: Aljazeera

Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet with President Obama to discuss U.S. security commitment to the Gulf and their concerns about a possible nuclear accord with Iran. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will not attend the meetings, citing the ”timing of the summit” and ceasefire in Yemen as  reasons for his absence. Some view the “king’s failure to attend the meeting as a sign of disappointment with what the White House was willing to offer at the summit meeting as reassurance that the United States would back its Arab allies against a rising Iran.” The meetings will reportedly discuss joint military exercises, additional arms sales, and better integrating GCC missile defense systems to counter Iranian weapons ability.  Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. represent the biggest beneficiaries of U.S. arms sales in the region, and the GCC as a whole spends significantly more on its military than Iran.

Karen DeYoung and Juliet Eilperin write that while senior Arab officials understand a mutual defense treaty “is not possible,” they still “want a firmer and more specific U.S. promise to protect them from external threats.”  Shawn Brimley, Ilan Goldberg, and Nicholas Hears argue that the U.S. should offer …

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