1500 Militants Arrested in Efforts to Secure Upcoming Elections; Ban Ki-Moon Visits Tunisia to Pledge UN Support
Photo Credit: Mosaique FM
Human rights and pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja was arrested in Bahraini court Tuesday for ripping up a picture of the gulf island’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa during her hearing. al-Khawaja was in court on charges for doing the exact same thing in 2012. According to Zainab’s sister, equally notorious activist Maryam al-Khawaja, Zainab told the court “it is in [her] right, and [her] responsibility as a free person, to protest against oppression and oppressors,” before tearing another photograph of King Hamad and placing it before the judge. al-Khawaja could face up to seven years in prison for insulting the king in public.
In 2012, Zainab al-Khawaja tweeted that “tearing up pictures of a criminal dictator is a legitimate method of peaceful resistance.” Before she even attended her court hearing on Tuesday, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights accused the government of Bahrain of judicially harassing al-Khawaja, setting court dates for multiple charges such as “entering a restricted area, not cooperating with police orders, and verbal assault.” The Bahrain Center for Human Rights called on the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United Nations, and Bahrain’s other allies to pressure the government to drop all charges …
Egyptian courts sentenced Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Ahmed Mansour in abstentia to fifteen years imprisonment. The court charged Mansour with torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square during the January 25 uprising in 2011. An Al Jazeera spokesperson said that the ruling is “further evidence of [Egypt's] attempt to silence journalists, tarnish their reputations and disrupt their work.”
Al Jazeera reaffirmed “its demand for all jailed journalists to be released and stands firmly by its colleagues.” When a reporter asked State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki if Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the issue of Egypt’s many detained journalists with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during their recent meeting, Psaki replied that the Secretary has “raised specific cases over which we have consistently expressed concerns. Certainly that includes the detained journalist and others [...] There were sensitive discussions going on about a number of cases. We’ve addressed them publicly. We’ve addressed them privately. We’ll continue to address them and he does on every occasion of him meetings.”
When someone asked Psaki if the Egyptians had made any progress on the issue of freedom of expression, she added, “We continue to urge the Egyptian Government to repeal or …
Al-Wefaq’s Sheik Ali Salman announced that al-Wefaq, along with several other opposition parties, would not be participating in the country’s upcoming elections. The announcement followed a unilateral redrawing of Bahrain’s electoral districts by the gulf state’s ruling family.
The redistricting was one piece of a five-part plan proposed by Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa in late September, which included provisions on electoral districts, reforms to legislative authority, security sector behavior, and government formation. The organization Citizens for Bahrain celebrated the district reforms as successful in equalizing district sizes, with most districts now representing between 8,000 and 11,000 voters.
Justin Gengler, a Senior Researcher at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute of Qatar University, criticized the government’s redistricting plan for equivocating successful democratic reform with success in equalizing population sizes across districts. Although al-Wefaq’s electoral prospects remain unchanged, successful reform was supposed to address the problem of drawing districts along sectarian lines. Opposition parties do not want to be handed electoral guarantees, but rather the opportunity to compete for seats in contestable districts not drawn along sectarian lines.
Gengler calls on the Crown Prince to consider proportional representation or party lists as an alternative to …
Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi appointed UN Special Envoy Khaled Bahah to the position of Prime Minister yesterday, a week after Houthi rebels in the capital rejected Hadi’s first pick for the premiership, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak. A spokesperson for the Houthi’s Political Office, Hussein al-Bukhaiti, told the Yemen Times that the Houshis accept Bahah’s appointment. He also highlighted that the appointment was announced only after President Hadi consulted with advisors from Houthis and the Southern Movement.
According to Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani, the Houthi’s rise in prominence could push Yemen toward sectarian conflict similar to Syria. The Houthi occupation of the capital has caused the Sunni Islah party to re-entrench itself in Sunni provinces. The General People’s Congress, Yemen’s former ruling party, has been marginalized by Houthi gains and has been obligated to support the new Houthi leadership.
However, al-Iryani also contends that Houthi organization, commitment to good-governance, and opposition to corruption and government inefficiency could allow a strong prime minister to implement “true and necessary reforms that could put the country back on a path of economic growth.” Yaseen al-Tamimi, a political analyst in Sana’a, said that Bahah achieved little success …