The POMED Wire

POMED Notes: The Struggle for Public Space in Egypt

Atlantic-Council

On Tuesday, July 22, the Atlantic Council held an event entitled “The Struggle for Public Space in Egypt.” Khaled Dawoud, Official Spokesman of the Al-Dostour Party and Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Weekly, spoke on the increasingly limited space for public debate and contestation in Egypt. Mirette F. Mabrouk, Deputy Director for regional programs at the Hariri Center moderated the discussion.

For the full event note, please continue reading or click here for the PDF.

Mirette F. Mabrouk opened the event by pointing to the fact that main non-state actors in Egypt – the media, political parties, and NGOs – are in turmoil. She asked about the current of the ultra-nationalist’s impact on these actors. Khaled Dawoud mentioned that media was under tight control throughout history. After the 2011 revolution, people hoped that space for speech would open up, and expected space for credible media that holds the government accountable. However, the state-run media did not change that much, remaining close to the government. Under Morsi’s rule, the Shura Council controlled the entire press media, assuring all of them stay loyal to the president. It is worth noting that TV channels made “tremendous” progress during this time, but the …

Resolution on Egypt Addresses “Politically Motivated” NGO Convictions

NGO workers

Photo Credit: AP/Khalil Hamra

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S.2649 which would “provide certain legal relief from politically motivated charges by the Government of Egypt.”

Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the bill stipulates that “no verdict, order, warrant, or writ issued” by any Egyptian authority relating to the conviction of 43 NGO workers in 2013 “shall be considered a conviction and no person named in such verdict, order, warrant, or writ shall be considered to have been charged, accused, found guilty, or convicted.” Furthermore, the bill recognizes that “any legal charges, trial proceedings, and convictions issued by the Cairo Criminal Court,” against the NGO workers in 2013, are ”politically motivated in origin and invalid.”

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Sam LaHood, former director for the International Republican Institute in Egypt, states that because he is considered a felon under Egyptian law since he was one of the 43 convicted NGO workers and sentenced to five years in prison with hard labor, “it is unclear whether that status applies in the United States.” LaHood therefore has had to “read the fine print …

U.S. $500 Loan Agreement to Tunisia to “Foster Democracy”

Jomaa and Obama

Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Tunisia today closed on its offering of a $500 million seven-year sovereign bond issuance guaranteed by the U.S., launching an agreement that President Barack Obama has said is intended “to help foster democracy.”

The agreement was crafted during an April 4, 2014 meeting between Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and President Obama. During the meeting, Obama emphasized that “the United States has a huge investment in making sure that Tunisia’s experiment is successful.”

The U.S. then signed the agreement on June 3, with the State Department declaring that the agreement “is evidence of the U.S. commitment to help Tunisia build an economic foundation that supports sustainable and inclusive economic and job growth, bolster international confidence in the Tunisian market, and support and expand U.S.-Tunisian economic relations.” Subsequently, the agreement passed the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly on June 30. At that time, Tunisian state media described the purpose of the agreement was to allow the country to access “affordable financing from international capital markets.”

Since the January 2011 revolution, U.S.-Tunisian economic cooperation has included a Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund, a framework for investing in Tunisia, and more than $400 million in “financial assistance to Tunisia’s economy …

Iraqi Parliament Elects New President

16iraq-master675

Photo Credit: Adam Ferguson/New York Times

The Iraqi parliament elected president Fuad Masoum on Thursday, July 24 after the original elections were postponed by a day, ”delaying the formation of a power-sharing government urgently needed to confront a Sunni Muslim insurgency” that has claimed the second-largest Iraqi city, Mosul. Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri, a moderate Sunni Islamist who was elected July 14 in “a small but crucial step toward ending the political deadlock,” said the Kurdish block requested the delay “so they could agree on a candidate.”

Under the current political system adopted in 2005, “the prime minister is a member of the Shi’ite majority, the speaker a Sunni, and the largely ceremonial president a Kurd.” Since April elections in which Maliki’s bloc won the most seats, lawmakers have struggled to compromise on a new president and prime minister, leaving Maliki to rule “in a caretaker capacity.” He has defied the wishes of Sunni and Kurdish political leaders, as well as the U.S., in declining to “step aside for a less-polarizing figure.”

The United States congratulates the Iraqi people on the election of their new president which demonstrates “the commitment…of the Council of Representatives to uniting the country according …

Lebanon Fails Again to Elect New President

Lebanese Parliament

Photo Credit: Joseph Eid/AFP

For the ninth time in a row, Lebanon’s parliament has failed to elect a new president “due to lack of quorum” as a new hearing was set for August 12. Lebanon’s constitution demands that 86 of the 128-member parliament must be present in order to elect a new president, “however only 65 were present” at Wednesday’s meeting. A successor has yet to be elected since former president Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ended in May.

MP Michel Aoun argued earlier this month that the Constitution should “be amended to allow the general public to elect the president directly in two phases” first allowing Christians to elect two candidates, and the second allowing “all Lebanese voters to elect one of the candidates.” The proposal was “strongly rejected by various political forces.” While opposition groups called the need for a new president “a priority” prior to constitutional amendments, others have “stressed that this was a ‘coup’ on the Taif Accord, which ended the civil war in 1989 and provided equality between Muslims and Christians in government.”

Writing in June, David Schenker, Arab Politics Director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, notes that while the Lebanese president “wields …

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