The POMED Wire

Gezi Park Protesters Face Life Sentences

Turkey - DHA Photo Photo credit: DHA Photo

Thirty-five soccer fans who participated in Turkey’s Gezi Park anti-government protests last year are on trial in Istanbul’s Caglayan Courthouse. The individuals, who belong to the Besiktas’ football fan group Carsi, are facing charges of “attempting to overthrow the government.” They will be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. The accused received an outpouring of support from crowds surrounding the courthouse on Tuesday chanting: “Carsi is conscience and cannot be judged.”

Lawmakers from the opposition group Republican People’s Party (CHP) attending the trial said the charges were “politically motivated” and expressed concern that the proceedings were political. Emma Sinclair-Webb, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch said that charging the soccer club fans “as enemies of the state for joining a public protests is a ludicrous travesty.” She continued: “The indictment contains no evidence to support the coup attempt charges and should never have come to court.”

The start of the trial comes just two days after police detained 27 people, including the editor of Turkey’s largest-selling newspaper and several other prominent figures. The new suspects are accused of forming an illegal organization to seize control of the state. The suspects are followers of …

Michele Dunne Denied Entry to Egypt

michele-dunnePhoto Credit: PBS

Egyptian authorities briefly detained Michele Dunne, a senior associate at the Middle East program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former diplomat, and barred her from entering the country upon her arrival to the Cairo airport. Dunne was traveling to Cairo to attend a conference organized by the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.

Dunne told the New York Times that she was held in the airport for about six hours before being put on a flight home. When she asked a security official why she was being held, the officer replied, “No reason, but, Madame, you cannot access Egypt anymore.” The New York Times reported that this is the first time in decades that Egypt has denied entrance to the country to a Western scholar. Last August, the Egyptian government turned away a delegation of officials from Human Rights Watch, who planned to release a report critical of the Abdel Fattah al-Sisi regime’s crackdown on Islamist protesters in 2013.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Dunne failed to properly complete her visa application. Dunne was denied entry to Egypt just a day before the U.S. Congress approved a 2015 spending bill which included provisions which …

Omnibus Includes National Security Waiver on Aid for Egypt

capitol_hillImage Credit: iStockphoto

The new Omnibus bill introduced to Congress yesterday gives the Secretary of State the option to waive conditions placed on economic and military aid to Egypt for national security reasons, a feature absent from last year’s bill. Paragraph 6(A) of section 7041 dealing with appropriations for aid to Egypt states that the $725 Million in military aid not reserved for military training or counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai can only be delivered if the Secretary of State certifies to the Appropriations Committee that Egypt has met a number of democratic standards, including holding free and fair parliamentary elections, providing detainees with due process of law, conducting credible investigations and prosecutions on those guilty of ordering and implementing excessive force against protesters, and releasing American citizens held on political charges. Subparagraph B, however, allows the Secretary of State to waive these requirements, provided he submit a report to the Committee on Appropriations testifying to the fact that it is in the interest of American national security to deliver the aid regardless of the progress on conditions.

The Editorial Board from the Washington Post noted that “the provision keeps human-rights conditions on the aid to that brutal dictatorship but …

King of Saudi Arabia Announces Major Cabinet Overhaul

Saudi Arabia - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia photo Photo credit: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz announced a major overhaul of the cabinet,  naming eight new members to the Council of Ministers. These sweeping changes are the most widespread in almost a decade. As reported by the official Saudi Press Agency, the new ministers were appointed to the post of Islamic affairs, information, agriculture, higher education, telecommunications, health, social affairs and transportation ministries. Key ministries such as oil, interior, and defense were left unchanged.

The Washington Institute’s Simon Henderson believes the cabinet reshuffle reflects Riyadh’s need to deal with “mounting domestic discontent” over the performance of several government ministries. He writes that the cabinet changes emphasize the role Saudi domestic opinion plays in challenging King Abdullah and the senior royals who advise him. However, Henderson also argues that these new appointments highlight the king’s abilities as an active decision-maker. On the decision to  keep veteran Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi in his role, Henderson sees this as a sign that King Abdullah is not unhappy with current oil policies or their effects abroad.

According to Brian Murphy, the cabinet changes are not cause for alarm. The Washington Post writer suggests  that the relatively …

U.N. Special Envoy Announces Second Round of Libya Peace Talks

Nouri Abusahmain, the head of Libya's General National Congress meets with Bernardino Leon Special Representative United Nations for Libya in Tripoli Photo credit: Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

United Nations Special Envoy Bernadino Leon announced a new round of Libya peace talks due to start next week which are aimed at ending the country’s political crisis. The talks have been expanded to include not only Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s internationally recognized parliament, but also its rival government, the General National Congress. After meeting with GNC President Nouri Abu Sahmain, Leon said a recent Supreme Court ruling invalidating the House of Representatives “implied changes” in the country. “What is important is to have a dialogue where each one has its view and they accept the views of the others,” he said. Leon called on the main factions to initiate talks in a “spirit of objectivity and conciliation.”

Senior U.S. officials said they have “little faith” in U.N.-backed peace talks in Libya because of the fact that other countries in the Middle East have defied requests to end a proxy war in the country. They said Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar still continue to encourage local factions to fight rather than compromise. “It seems quite clear that the more foreign countries get involved in Libya, the more unstable the situation becomes,” an …

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