The POMED Wire

Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Stages Sit-in at Bar Association

iranian-rights-lawyer-nasrin-sotoudeh-freed-1379536266-6263Photo Credit: The Nation

Yesterday, Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh staged a sit-in outside the Iranian Bar Association office in Tehran to protest the three year ban that will prevent her from practicing law. Sotoudeh was joined by 15 other activists for human and women’s rights. Law enforcement took no action to stop the protest.

Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 for “acting against national security, collusion and propaganda against the regime, and membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” She was sentenced to six years in prison, although she was released three years early, ahead of then-recently elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani‘s visit to the United Nations in 2013. After she was released, the Iranian Bar Association enacted the ban on Sotoudeh’s legal practice, despite court authorizations for her to return to work.

“For years, the Iranian government has been trying to deny dissidents the right to live, the right to education and employment. I am protesting this,” Sotoudeh wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. Sotoudeh is not the only dissident to face discrimination from the Iranian authorities. A Bar Association spokesman also said Sotoudeh was not the first Iranian lawyer to have their …

POMED Notes: “Iranian Policy Toward the Iraqi And Syrian Crises”

Woodrow_Wilson_Center_logoOn Tuesday, October 21 2014, the Wilson Center hosted an event titled “Iranian Policy Toward the Iraqi and Syrian Crises.”  The event featured Jubin Goodarzi, the Deputy Head of the International Relations Department at Webster University. Mr. Goodarzi was introduced by Haleh Esfandiari, the Director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center.

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

Mr. Goodarzi analyzed the roots of the Syrian uprising and focused on the Syrian state’s retreat from its socialist roots in the past two decades, which he regarded as a major factor in the rebellion. He explained that as the Syrian state withdrew from public provision of goods, it allowed Islamic charities and social services to fill this vacuum and concomitantly relaxed previously-standing restrictions on religious groups.  Mr. Goodarzi also pointed to Syria’s support for Al-Qaeda throughout the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a key precursor to the rise of ISIS.

In addition to these issues, Mr. Goodarzi identified a number of other factors that influenced the Syrian crisis, including the droughts of 2006 and 2011, the wave of regional Arab uprisings, the lack of political liberalization in …

Libya’s Elected Parliament Declares Alliance With Operation Dignity Militia Forces

Ex-general Khalifa Haftar speaks during a news conference after surviving an assassination attempt, in Al Marj Photo Credit: Reuters

Libya’s House of Representatives formally declared an alliance with renegade former general Khalifa Haftar and his militia, Operation Dignity, in a bid to counteract Islamist influence in the country. According to parliament spokesperson Farraj Hashem,  parliament gave Operation Dignity an official role leading officers and soldiers of the Libyan army. The move further pits the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni against the rival government set up in Tripoli. This shake-up comes just as the Turkish Prime Minister’s special envoy to Libya, Emrullah Isler, is in the midst of peace talks with Prime Minister al-Thinni and the rival power base controlling Tripoli and Benghazi.

In the midst of these developments, a cousin and former aide of president Muammar Gaddafi said he wants to take part in proposed peace talks hosted by Algeria that aim to bring together Libya’s warring parties.  Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam spoke from his position in exile in Cairo, saying he had no illusions of returning Libya to the past, but that elements of the former regime deserved to be heard and ought to regain influence. Liberal political analyst Hafed al Ghwell argued that while Gaddaf was controversial, …

Turkish Parliament to Consider New Protest Laws

davutoglu Photo Credit: World Bulletin

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the Turkish government will introduce a bill in parliament which would give law enforcement greater powers over protests. The introduction of the bill will follow violent clashes between pro-Kurdish protesters and police that killed more than 35 people across Turkey. Prime Minister Davutoglu said one goal of the bill is to enable law enforcement to respond to “massive acts of violence” more rapidly and efficiently.

The security reforms include harsher punishments for possession of “instruments of assault” such as Molotov cocktails and a ban on protesters covering their faces. They also define calls for violence on social media as criminal acts. In addition to broader powers, Davutoglu described the democratic controls included in the bill, such as a 17 member “watchdog” committee composed of members of parliament, which will review and evaluate police actions. Davutoglu said that the reform framework was drafted “in compliance with the European Union standards in order to keep the balance between freedoms and restrictions.”

Gunal Kursun, a professor of penal law at Cukurova University, expressed concern over Turkey’s increasing security restrictions. Unlike in established democracies, where rule of law and transparency are well …

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 …

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