The POMED Wire

Event Notes: “Rouhani at Two Years: An Assessment on the Cusp of a Nuclear Deal.”

On June 25, 2015, the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center along with the United States Institute of Peace hosted a panel for a discussion titled, “Rouhani at Two Years: An Assessment on the Cusp of a Nuclear Deal.” Panelists included Robin Wright, distinguished scholar and journalist; Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute; and Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

To watch a webcast of the event, click here. To read these notes as a PDF, click here.

Wright began her remarks by stating ten broad headlines related to Iran’s current political, economic, and social atmospheres. She stated that under President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, Iran has stabilized and that there are no more “wild uncertainties” as the administration tries to deal with more realism rather than religious ideology. Despite this shift in focus, Wright noted that Rouhani’s opposition has been contained since his first two years in office. She explained that members of Parliament do not “want to see sabotage” and that the current fragile equilibrium is “probably temporary” because of Rouhani’s robust political rivals. In terms of the economy, Wright added that among the …

Moroccan Website Fined for Defamation of Government Official

Photo Credit: Revue Afrique

On Monday, a Casablanca court ordered Moroccan website Goud.ma to pay 500,000 dirhams (or 46,000 euros) in damages for defaming the King’s private secretary, Mounir El Majidi. The website was prosecuted [Fr] for “defamation and injury,” after “reprinting in a press review allegations about Majidi” that questioned his capacity as a businessman. Defense lawyer Hassan Semlali said the website would appeal the verdict, calling the court’s ruling “not objective and without basis.” Majidi’s lawyers claim the article in question contained “lies and falsifications” about the secretary. The website posted [Fr] a response to the verdict, stating that judgments such as this will continue “to tarnish the image of Morocco in reports devoted to freedom of the press.

In similar news, Nabil Ayouch, director of the film “Much Loved,” is set to appear before a Marrakesh court after clips of the film’s premiere at Cannes Film Festival were leaked online.  Ayouch has been charged with “pornography, indecency and inciting minors to debauchery,” as the film chronicles the lives of sex workers in Marrakesh. The Moroccan government has banned the movie in advance of its fall release.

In the constitution amended in 2011, Article 28 is …

Event Notes: “A New Foreign Policy for America”

On June 22, 2015, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) spoke at the Woodrow Wilson Center to outline his principles for a new American foreign policy. He discussed eight principles which he believes should guide U.S. policy moving forward, followed by a discussion with Aaron David Miller, the Vice President for New Initiatives at the Wilson Center.

To watch a webcast of the event, click here. To read these notes as a PDF, click here

Murphy began his speech with an anecdote of a trip he took to Afghanistan in the Spring of 2011, where the American military under General David Petraeus had cleared the Taliban from the town of Herat. He remembered observing the abundance of poppy flowers, which he soon learned were being grown and sold to the Taliban, who were still circling the outskirts of the town and coming in to collect revenue. Murphy called this a “clear cut indictment” of U.S. presence in the region, as the commitment of U.S. policy to military “successes” too often lacks a viable strategy to change economic and political realities on the ground. In Iraq, Murphy stated, this tendency played out with more disastrous consequences, as “waves of U.S. …

HASC Hearing Notes: U.S. Policy and Strategy in the Middle East

On June 17, 2015, the House Armed Services Committee hosted a hearing titled, “U.S. Policy and Strategy in the Middle East,” with testimony from Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) opened the hearing and listed significant challenges in the Middle East, including Iran’s growing involvement in Iraq and Syria, and strained alliances with Egypt and the Gulf States. Thornberry emphasized that there is no substitute for U.S. leadership in the region, and that the United States cannot afford to stand back.

Ranking member Adam Smith (D-WA) expressed his frustration at the complex political environment as well the number of failed states in the region. He went on to say that the U.S. military presence cannot solve the Middle East’s problems; the United States must find a way to help the “right people.” He mentioned that the radicals in the Middle East have one dependable argument, that they “ are defending the Muslim world against Western aggression.”

Secretary of Defense  Ashton Carter began his testimony by saying that the Middle East is going through significant political and military turmoil; however, the United States’ strategy is firmly grounded …

Hearing Notes: Nomination of Gayle Smith for Administrator of USAID

On June 17th, 2015, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations heard the testimony of Gayle Smith for her nomination as Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

To view a recording of the event, click here. To read these notes as a PDF, click here.

Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) first introduced Smith, stating it was beneficial that she served under Obama at the National Security Council, and applauded her as trustworthy.

Smith then gave her testimony, affirming her interest in working for the world’s top development agency, which fosters “sustained and inclusive growth” and works to help end poverty. Her first stated priority is to focus on results-based aid, with a commitment to cut back on programs that are not producing results. Her second priority is to provide leadership and guidance to enable USAID staff to deliver on the agency’s most urgent priorities, such as improving their impact on “democracy, rights, and governance.” She aims to do this by strengthening rule of law, building the “capacity of civil society organizations,” helping “enable free and fair elections,” and through promoting transparency. Third, she spoke of promoting agility when responding to humanitarian crises and natural disasters, and …

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