The POMED Wire

State Dept Welcomes Selection of New Iraqi Cabinet Ministers

VOA News Photo credit: VOA News

The State Department issued a statement on Saturday congratulating the Iraqi people and their representatives in parliament on the decision to elect seven new cabinet ministers, completely filling the cabinet for the first time since 2010. Parliament elected Sunni lawmaker Khaled al-Obeidi as the new defense minister and Shi’ite lawmaker Mohammed al-Ghabban became interior minister. Control over the defense and interior ministries has long been a source of tension among Iraq’s feuding political parties. The U.S. had been pushing for a more representative government that would reach out to Iraq’s Sunni minority after critics said former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki marginalized the population and led to the rise of the Islamic State. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that these new ministers “represent the diversity of Iraq,” and complete an inclusive cabinet led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The selection of these ministers has been welcomed as another important factor in the long-term campaign to restore stability in Iraq. Critical appointments to security posts were hailed by Secretary John Kerry as a “very positive step forward” in the fight against the Islamic State. Furthermore, Vice President Joe Biden personally called Prime Minister Abadi to congratulate …

Prosecutor Drops Charges for 53 Defendants Involved in Erdogan Corruption Scandal

Photo Credit: Diepresse

On Friday, a Turkish prosecutor dropped charges against 53 defendants involved in a “sprawling corruption case that had reached the highest levels of Turkish politics” and had threatened the government of recently elected President Tayyip Erdogan. The case “posed one of the biggest challenges to Erdogan’s 11-year rule as Prime Minister,” which led to the resignation of three members of his cabinet and sparked international criticism regarding the way Erdogan handled the scandal, by “tightening internet controls and reassigning police, judges and prosecutors.”

The defendants included two sons of former cabinet ministers, as well as the former manager of the state-run Halkbank, who was caught hiding nearly $5 million cash in shoe boxes. Broadcaster CNN Turk reported that “Istanbul prosecutors ruled that there was no case to answer as evidence had not been collected appropriately, there was no evidence of a crime and no criminal gang was uncovered.”

Other lesser charges are still pending for some of the defendants, and a separate parliamentary inquiry continues. According to Tim Arango from the New York Times, “the news… was a further indication that Mr. Erdogan, who at on time seemed in jeopardy of becoming ensnared in the case himself, …

U.S. Condemns Ongoing Violence in Libya in Joint Statement with EU members

libyaPhoto Credit: al-Ahram

France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement Saturday, condemning the ongoing violence in Libya and calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities.” The statement expressed concern for General Khalifa Haftar‘s recent assault on Islamist positions in Benghazi. Haftar is a former general who served under former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and is one of several commanders of “irregular forces” making decisions in the country.

Haftar’s campaign in Benghazi, dubbed “Operation Dignity” was endorsed by the internationally recognized Libyan government now based in Tobruk. The endorsement, however, may intensify internal divisions within the Tobruk bloc, with critics of General Haftar denouncing him as a “loyalist” to the former regime. The United States’ joint statement asserted that Libya’s security challenges “can only be sustainably addressed by regular armed forces under the control of a central authority which is accountable to a democratic and inclusive parliament.”

The statement also expressed disappointment that after meetings in Ghadames and Tripoli, the competing parties in the Libyan conflict were unable to respect calls for a ceasefire. The authors of the statement affirmed their readiness to “use individual sanctions,” in accordance with the UN, “against those …

POMED Notes: “Previewing Tunisia’s Elections”

New-POMED-Logo-red-copyOn Friday, October 17, POMED and the Congressional Tunisia Caucus held a panel discussion titled “Previewing Tunisia’s Elections,” at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill, with opening remarks from his Excellency M’hamed Ezzine Chelaifa, the Ambassador of the Tunisian Republic to the United States. The panelists were Alexis Arieff, Africa Policy Analyst at the Congressional Research Service, Jeffrey England, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Democratic Institute, and Stephen McInerney, Executive Director of POMED. The discussion was moderated by Cole Bockenfeld, the Advocacy Director of POMED. 

For a full summary of the event, continue reading below or click here for a pdf.

 

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Chelaifa underscored how admiration for the Tunisian democratic transition experience should not overshadow the complexity of the process, and he called on the U.S. to continue supporting the transition. Chelaifa then identified several dimensions that might affect the election: voter turnout; the proliferation of electoral lists that might spread out votes; the attitude of Tunisian voters; the polarization of the political landscape; the presence of Ben Ali regime members; and the role of civil society, media and lobbying in the electoral …

Kuwait Sentences Bin Jassim to one Month Imprisonment; Sparks Reaction from HR Organizations

Photo Credit: Frontline Defenders

Human rights defender Sulaiman Bin Jassim was sentenced in Kuwait by the Court of Misdemeanors on October 19 to one month in prison. On April 18, he monitored a political demonstration in the Al-Andalus area of Kuwait City on behalf of the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCV), where he worked , “when he was brutally assaulted by two Special Forces officers and shot at with rubber bullets.” He was then also allegedly detained for three days before being released on bail, and was charged with “participating in an unlicensed demonstration and disobeying police orders,” which could have led to three years imprisonment.

Following the verdict by the Court, the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) urged authorities in Kuwait to: “immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Suleiman Bin Jassim…conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the assault against him with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international legal standards…and guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.”

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