The POMED Wire

Maryam al-Khawaja Released from Prison, Will Stand Trial in High Criminal Court

aljishiandmaryam-1 Photo credit: Huffington Post

Prominent human rights activist Maryam al-Khawaja has been released from jail, though she is banned from leaving the country and still faces charges. She is set to stand trial on October 1 in Bahrain’s High Criminal Court on the charge of assaulting a police officer. After her release, al-Khawaja vowed to continue her work speaking out against human rights violations in Bahrain even if it means risking further punishment. Brian Dooley of Human Rights First believes it was the international outcry following her arbitrary detention that most likely helped secure her release. However, he argues that in order to get the charges dropped completely, more will need to be done.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s deteriorating human rights record came under fire by Jeremy Corbyn, a member of the UK Parliament, who spoke at a side event occurring concurrently with the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Corbyn signed an appeal launched by the wife of imprisoned political activist Ibrahim Shariff demanding that the government release all prisoners of conscience. Coinciding with the UNHRC 27 session in Geneva, Bahraini activists initiated a “Call for Democracy” assembly to discuss the importance of democratic transition in the country …

POMED Notes: “U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance: Challenges and Opportunities from Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa”

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On Tuesday, September 16, the Center for International Policy (CIP) and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) held a briefing titled “U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance: Challenges and Opportunities from Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.” The panel included Adam Isaacson, Senior Associate for Regional Security Policy at the Washington Office on Latin America; Dr. Dafna Rand, Deputy Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security; and Lesley Anne Warner, an Africa political-military analyst. In light of the recent announcement of the $5 billion Counter Terrorism Partnerships Fund, the briefing provided details, challenges and opportunities for more effective counter terrorism assistance.

For a full summary, keep reading or click here for the PDF.

Dafna Rand spoke on American security assistance in the Middle East, highlighting four components of security assistance and how they can be used to create more effective aid. First is the flexibility of authorities within the Defense Department, State Department, and Intelligence Community; however Rand questioned if this flexibility improves programming. She believes there is a need for flexibility in where money is spent between these agencies, but should not sacrifice the tactical efficacy of the training programs administered. Next, she …

POMED Notes: “Iran and Its Neighbors”

CaptureOn Wednesday, September 17 2014, the Woodrow Wilson Center hosted a panel discussion entitled “Iran and Its Neighbors: Regional Implications for U.S. Policy of a Nuclear Agreement” to launch the Center’s eponymous report. The speakers included Ambassador Thomas H. Pickering, Ambassador Frank G. Wisner, former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia Paul Pillar, and Director and Senior Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation of New York University Barnett R. Rubin. The panel was introduced by Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center Haleh Esfandiari and Ambassador William H. Luers.

For a summary of the event’s proceedings, click here(pdf) or continue to read below.

Mr. Pickering provided a general overview of Iran’s role in the region in the aftermath of a nuclear agreement, which he saw as crucial. He briefly touched upon potential Turkey-Iran engagement as well as other relations in the region that could be improved.

Mr. Wisner discussed the importance of Syria as a linchpin for U.S.-Iran cooperation. He began by explaining that the success of President Barack Obama’s announced plan for defeating ISIS depends on the development of an inclusive government in …

Libya: Parliament Rejects New Cabinet; Diplomats Meet in Madrid to Discuss Libyan Crisis

 Photo Credit: Reuters

Libya parliamentary spokesperson Faraj Hashi announced that the new cabinet list, presented by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni on Wednesday was rejected by the elected parliament. Lawmakers demanded that Thinni resubmit a cabinet list but with no more than 10 ministers.

The list presented by Thinni contained 16 names, including Human Rights activist Farida Allaghi as Foreign Minister. The rest of the names were not announced publicly. However, members of parliament told Reuters that Thinni had “decided to name himself as defense minister as well as Prime Minister.” In addition, they said that the list also contained names from the previous government, which might explain why it was rejected: Benghazi lawmaker Issam al-Uraibi told Reuters on Wednesday that “there is a big possibility that the House of Representatives is going to reject the new government formed by acting Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, as it still includes ministers from the former government.” Hashim claimed that there was also general consensus that the prime minister position should be separated from the position of defense minister.

Meanwhile, representatives from 21 nations, the UN and the Arab League attended a meeting in Madrid in order to discuss ways to address the escalation …

Iraqi Parliament Rejects Nominations for Interior and Defense Minister

WireAP_22cbf6461c64443c8e5ba1acf3132305_16x9_992 Photo Credit: AP

Iraq’s parliament rejected Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi‘s nominations for interior and defense minister on Tuesday. al-Abadi is under internal and external pressure to fill these important posts both quickly and inclusively. The United States wants an inclusive Iraqi government to be formed as quickly as possible to confront the threat of ISIL. Strict sectarian power-sharing laws in Iraq make cabinet nominations a sensitive process.

The Prime Minister nominated Rhiyadh Ghareeb, a Shiite engineer and former labor minister, to interior minister. Ghareeb’s nomination was meant as a compromise aimed at consensus. Ghareeb was nominated for the post despite pressures from the Badr Corps, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, on Abadi to nominate one of their members for their participation in Abadi’s governing coalition. However, nominating a Shiite militia member may have alienated Sunnis. Ihssan al-Awadi, a Shiite lawmaker, said that the problem with Ghareeb is that he has no background in security.

Abadi nominated Jaber al-Jaberi, a Sunni Islamist, to the post of defense minister, in an effort to appeal to alienated Sunni tribes. Mahmood al-Mashadani, a Sunni member of parliament and ‘runner-up’ for the defense minister nomination, said that parliament voted against Jaberi …

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