The POMED Wire

Yemen Seeks International Aid to Confront Security Situation

Photo Credit: Ahlam Mohsen/Yemen Times

Yemen’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Abu-Bakr Al-Qirbi, plans to “push donor countries to release billions of dollars in promised aid that Yemen desperately needs to address its ailing economy and volatile security situation” at the Friends of Yemen meeting to be held in London on April 29. In 2012, the Friends of Yemen group “pledged around $7.9 billion in aid,” including $3.25 billion from Saudi Arabia, but most of those funds have not yet been released. In addition to aid, the group also plans to discuss the restructuring of Yemen’s security apparatus. Qirbi explained the connection between aid and security by saying, “Terrorists exploit the deterioration in economic and living conditions in order to carry out armed attacks, which threatens social unity.” Meanwhile, the February 11 Movement “called on government employees to join the movement and for the international community to stop aid to Yemen until a more transparent and accountable government is installed” during a march on Sunday.

The Friends of Yemen meeting comes just after an al-Qaeda video appeared, “showing what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al-Qaeda in years.” The video includes a shot of …

Elections Begin in Algeria; Analysts Discuss Results

Protesting Algerian Election
Photo Credit: AFP

Algerians cast their votes in the presidential elections ”despite wide expectations of a low turnout and amid calls for a boycott with the opposition warning of rigged results.” 23 million Algerians are registered to vote and the Interior Ministry has reported that turnout has reached 15 percent and is expected to increase throughout the day. Before the election , police violently dispersed a demonstration organized by the youth protest group Barakat.

Amnesty International’s  Nicola Duckworth  reported that, “A lack of open debate and restrictions on the right to criticize or protest to express social grievances or political demands cast doubt over the upcoming elections.” Reporters Without Borders’ Lucie Morillon  said, “We registered arrests of Algerian journalists during street protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fourth term, and this does not bode well for their ability to cover this elections in an unimpeded manner.” She added that foreign journalists “were issued visas late in the day accompanied by drastic restrictions, and yet the international media have an important role to play in a country in which the domestic media are badly lacking in pluralism and the level of self-censorship is very high.”…

Bahrain Asserts Torture Banned; Analysts Discuss U.S. Policy

Joseph Ereli
Photo Credit: Habib Toumi

Minister of Interior Lt. General Shaikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa said that torture was “banned by the constitution and was punishable under Bahraini law” and “Bahrain is committed to abiding by the relevant international conventions and agreements.” He added that “those who made false allegations about torture would also be challenged by the law.” Also, a Bahraini court sentenced 11 demonstrators “to five years in jail each for attacking police with iron rods and petrol bombs.”

Brian Dooley, director of the Human Rights Defenders program at Human Rights First, commented on Britain’s Human Rights and Democracy Report for 2013, saying that although it agreed with the U.S. assessment that there are “problems around impunity for Bahrain’s security forces,” Britain’s criticism was “tepid” as they reported that “some areas of reform have been slower than we would have hoped.” He commented that it is unclear “why Britain and the United States appear to be working against their long-term interests by supporting a system of government that encourages instability and threatens its own equities.” He argues that “it’s time for them to look beyond the short term and push for an inclusive, rights-based political settlement that involves …

Tunisian NCA Establishes Judicial Commission

Photo Credit: Reuters

Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) adopted a law to set up a six-member judicial commission, which will “determine the constitutionality of new laws.” Now that this commission has been created, the NCA will be able to move forward with the electoral law, each article of which will be voted on separately. The creation of the judicial commission came days after The Carter Center published a press release, calling for specific legislative actions to be taken in order to implement the human rights guarantees embedded in the constitution. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said, “What is critical now is to conduct a thorough revision of the legal framework to bring it into alignment with the constitution and ensure the full realization of the rights enshrined in the text. In addition, a provisional commission should be established in time to review the constitutionality of draft laws, especially the electoral legislation currently under discussion.”

Meanwhile, following Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa’s trip to Washington, D.C., Marouen Achouri writes that the visit showcased U.S. economic and security support for Tunisia as well as a marked enthusiasm for Jomaa and his technocratic government. Achouri says, “[Jomaa] was hosted by US President Barack

Homs Governor: Syria is Ready for “Good Elections”

Photo Credit: The New York Times

Talal al-Barazi, governor of the Syrian city of Homs, one of the last rebel controlled cities, declared today that despite being “an insurgent held-war zone,” the city is ripe for “relatively good elections.” Over 220,000 people from the province of Homs have fled to neighboring Lebanon since the start of Syria’s civil war. Additionally, Al Jazeera reported that, “Syrian army troops backed by pro-government militia members have entered rebel-held neighborhoods of Homs after laying siege to the districts for nearly two years.” Anne Barnard reported that al-Barazi’s optimism is being shared at the “highest levels in Damascus” where Syrian officials have declared that a presidential vote will be held within three months. The officials expect President Bashar al-Assad to win — even though, “for the first time in decades, there will in theory be an opponent on the ballot.” In Syria, the campaign for Assad’s second bid as president is already unofficially rolling in “a measure of Mr. Assad’s growing confidence that he is wrapping up the war.” Opponents of Assad say elections would be “absurd” amid a military crackdown that “has terrorized large segments of the country to suppress a movement for …

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