By Jenna Amlani
In the wake of the April 9 Palm Sunday bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, the Egyptian government responded with a number of legal measures aimed at strengthening the country’s ability to fight terrorism.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month nationwide state of emergency, which was unanimously approved by Parliament two days later. This is the first time a nationwide state of emergency has been imposed since Egypt adopted a new constitution in 2014. After a state of emergency has been in effect for three months, it can only be extended by two-thirds parliamentary approval.
The House of Representatives later voted in favor of an amendment to the emergency law that, according to the Head of Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee Kamal Amer, “allows state authorities to detain anyone suspected of terrorist activity for seven days after getting the prosecution’s approval” and “authorizes Emergency High State Security courts to order the detention of highly dangerous elements for one month in jail, which is subject to renewal.”
Mada Masr explained that the amendment is similar to a provision in the 1958 Emergency Law which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court in 2013 because it …
By Michael Marinelli
On March 14, President Donald Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, after which the White House described its “support for a strong, broad, and enduring strategic partnership.” A statement from the Saudi government said that U.S.-Saudi “relations had undergone a period of difference of opinion,” but the meeting “has put things on the right track and marked a significant shift in relations.” At least publicly, the Trump administration has signaled little interest in the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. But, an comparison of U.S. government and prominent rights organization reports from 2003 and 2016 illustrates the history of Saudi’s poor rights record.
In its 2003 ‘Freedom in the World’ report, Freedom House rated Saudi Arabia 7 on overall freedom, civil liberties, and political rights – the worst possible score. According to the report, freedom of religion was virtually non-existent; women remained second-class citizens; freedom of expression was severely restricted; the judiciary was subject to the influence of the royal family; and Saudi citizens faced arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial detention, or torture at the hands of security forces. In 2016, Freedom House reported equally troubling findings despite …
In a speech on the floor of the Senate on April 4, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) highlighted Egypt’s troubling human rights record. Sen. Rubio met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ahead of the speech, and acknowledged Egypt’s efforts to fight the Islamic State. He said “I believe [Egypt’s human rights record] is at its worst in decades, and that is saying something.” He added, “These abuses … are actually conducive to jihadi ideaology,” and that people are more attracted to militancy “when they feel they are being mistreated.” He also reiterated his call for the immediate release of American citizen Aya Hijazi. The full speech is available below.
In a separate statement on March 31, Sen. Rubio said, “While our two countries seek a deeper relationship, it’s important for Egypt to make progress on human rights, democracy, and economic reforms. I urge President Trump to press for the release of political prisoners in Egypt, including jailed Americans, and encourage Egypt to allow greater space for civil society and freedom of expression for all, and permit non-governmental organizations to operate freely.”
By Finn Quigley
For more than two years, civil war has devastated Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country and a focus of Washington’s counterterrorism strategy. Three events held in Washington in February and March 2017 examined obstacles to peace, the role of Iran and Saudi Arabia in the conflict, and U.S. policy toward Yemen under the Trump administration.
In 2011, following mass demonstrations, Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down after 33 years in power. The post-Saleh transition process failed, however, and war broke out in September 2014 when Houthi rebels, allied with their former adversary Saleh and parts of the army still loyal to him, took over the capital Sana’a and ousted the weak transition government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
The conflict escalated dramatically in March 2015 when a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia entered the war to restore the Hadi government to power and crush the Houthis, a group borne out of local grievances that receives limited support from Iran. Yemen has since become a Saudi-Iranian battleground for regional dominance with Hadi and Houthi-Saleh forces used to advance their agendas. Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign has been condemned internationally for …