The POMED Wire

Yemen Peace Talks Stalled as Sides Compete for Taiz

taiz bomb

The process of negotiating a peace settlement in Yemen has reportedly begun, with reports of a Houthi delegation traveling to neighboring Oman to conduct peace talks with the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who returned to Aden earlier this month. Mohammed Abdul Salam, a Houthi spokesman, announced via Facebook that, “We hope [the dialogue] will be serious and constructive, leading to a halt in aggression, lifting of the siege, and revival of the political process.” Muscat, Oman will serve as the venue of the United Nations-sponsored peace talks which will hope to see a ceasefire brokered between the two parties followed by a full withdrawal of rebels from the urban areas of the country and return of government property. Last month the Houthis agreed to the “Muscat Principles,” but in recent weeks the transition to the talks in Muscat has been delayed by renewed fighting around the city of Taiz.  The actions of the Houthis there, including heavy use of landmines, caused the Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin to issue a statement saying that this ”shows that really they are not serious [about the peace process].”

Taiz is Yemen’s third largest city behind Sanaa and Aden …

UN Details Ongoing Human Rights Abuses in Libya

One of the members of the military protecting a demonstration against candidates for a national unity government proposed by U.N. envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon, is pictured in BenghaziPhoto Credit: Reuters

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report on the human rights situation in Libya between January 1 and October 31, 2015. The report found that all sides of the conflict violated international law, “including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks; summary executions and other unlawful killings; arbitrary deprivations of liberty; and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers are particularly vulnerable to “brutal violence, coercion, and abuse, as are human rights defenders, humanitarian workers, and journalists. Thousands of civilians are reportedly being held and tortured in detention centers run by armed groups. In addition, “UNSMIL has also received reports that air strikes by Operation Dignity, Libya Dawn and in one instance the Egyptian air-force led to civilian casualties and/or damage to civilian infrastructure.”

A peace process brokered by the UN between the House of Representatives and General National Congress aimed to create a government of national accord and halt the armed conflicts, but talks have stalled as the deadline for the agreement passed and violence continued. According to the report, “warring factions” have utilized “imprecise weaponry in densely-populated residential …

Erdogan’s AKP Dominates Turkey’s Parliamentary Elections

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu casts his ballot with his wife Sare at a polling station during the parliamentary election in KonyaPhoto Credit: Reuters

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s Justice and Development Party (AKP) claimed victory in Turkey’s snap elections on Sunday, regaining the majority in parliament it lost in the June elections when the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) passed the 10 percent threshold needed to enter the legislature. Prior to the elections, questions surrounding Erdogan’s commitment to democracy have grown as his government stifled dissent, spearheaded raids of newspaper offices, and renewed hostilities with Kurdish insurgents. In what was widely viewed as an upset, the AKP won 49.4 percent of the popular vote and 317 seats in Parliament, with a reported voter turn out of 85 percent.

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) claimed 25.4 percent of the vote while the Nationalist Movement (MHP) taking 11.9 percent. The HDP won 10 percent of the vote, down from roughly 13 in June’s elections, with some speculating that religious Kurds switched allegiances to the AKP. On the decrease, HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas said, “Maybe we lost one million votes but we are a party that managed to stand up against all massacre policies.” Turkey will now return to single-party rule, though the AKP will not have enough seats to unilaterally amend …

Yemen Peace Process Moves Forward Despite Complications

yemen war
(Photo Credit: Reuters/Stringer)

This past June the Yemeni peace process was billed as “doomed” and “falling apart” due to the inability of the central government and the Houthi rebels to maintain a ceasefire agreement while they brokered a peace settlement. Almost 5 months later, the two factions have agreed to begin negotiations in Muscat, Oman to bring an end to the conflict that has caused more than 5,000 deaths. With the help of the United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Houthis and Yemeni government adopted the United Nation Security Council Resolution 2216, issued by the UNSC in April, which calls for an end to violence in Yemen and further peace dialogues between all involved factions.  The Houthi rebels, who have been under increasingly heavy Saudi and coalition airstrikes, acceded to the UN plan in early October, claiming it was an “important and fundamental… step towards the resumption of the political process.”

Recently, the Muscat Principles were drafted to outline a comprehensive strategy for a halt to the fighting that would allow the Hadi government to re-enter the capital of Sanaa. While the agreement states that rebel militias must withdraw from …

Saudi Court Rejects al-Nimr’s Appeal, Death Sentence Upheld

Shi'ite protester carries a poster of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration outside the Saudi embassy in SanaaPhoto Credit: Reuters

The Saudi Supreme Court rejected Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr‘s appeal, upholding his death sentence and leaving the sole possibility of a pardon in King Salman’s hands. His lawyers and family members were reportedly not notified of the hearing. Nimr, a Shia cleric and prominent opposition figure, was shot four times and arrested in 2012 on accusations of sedition, disobedience, and bearing arms after calling for pro-democracy demonstrations. Human Rights Watch highlighted the lack of due process and recognizable charges during al-Nimr’s 2014 trial, attributing the unfair trial to sectarian discrimination. He faces the harshest penalty within Saudi law, execution and public display of the body, along with six other Saudi Shias citizens, including his 21-year-old nephew Ali al-Nimr. Their arrests stem from the peaceful protests of 2011 and 2012, which ultimately resulted in the death of more than 20 demonstrators. Sheikh al-Nimr is widely known for advocating non-violent demonstrations, supporting ”the roar of the word against authorities rather than weapons.”

Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain and the European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights called on Saudi Arabia to stay al-Nimr’s “imminent execution,” asserting “if Saudi Arabia’s international allies, including the US, takes its own …

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