The POMED Wire

Libya Talks Continue in Morocco

Photo Credit: Middle East Online

The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. released a joint statement on the resumption of Libyan peace talks in Morocco, as well as concern for the “growing threat of terrorist groups.” The statement welcomed the talks, saying, “We strongly support the efforts of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Bernardino Leon, the UNSMIL team and the Libyan participants and congratulate them all on the progress made so far. We urge those taking part in the dialogue to enter into the discussions constructively and in good faith in order to reach agreement on a National Unity Government and arrangements for a ceasefire as quickly as possible.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power later raised concern over the treatment of human rights defenders in Libya. After linking to the U.N. report on Libya, she underlined the importance of protecting these activists, stating, “When Libya’s Human Rights defenders’ vital voices are silenced, all of Libyan society loses out and fundamental freedoms are eroded.” These concerns come after at least 250 HR defenders, reporters, and activists have been killed in Libya since the revolution. The U.N. report covered the threats, …

Saudi Strikes Back at Houthi Advances in Yemen

Photo Credit: Hani Mohamed/AP

Following President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s reported flight from Aden by boat, Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes aimed at halting Houthi advances. The UAE, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, Sudan, and Kuwait sent aircraft to conduct strikes as well, with Egypt and Pakistan reportedly providing naval support. The operation, named “Decisive Storm,” has garnered international support, with only Russia, Syria, and Iran speaking out against the strikes. U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan released a statement “strongly” condemning Houthi military operations, urging them to cease all military operations and return to political negotiations. The release called the Saudi actions an effort “to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s legitimate government.”

Houthi spokesman Mohammed al-Bukhaiti responded to the attacks by stating, “The Yemeni people are prepared to face this aggression without any foreign interference.” Meeting in Egypt, Arab foreign ministers agreed to create a military force which will quickly intervene with security threats to member states.

Gamal Gasim of Al Jazeera believes that military intervention could be initially successful in sending a message to Saleh and protecting Aden, however it must be accompanied by political reassurances to the Yemeni people that the intervention is …

POMED Notes: Under Threat – Egypt’s Systematic Campaign against NGOs

On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) hosted a panel discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace entitled, “Under Threat: Egypt’s Systematic Campaign against NGOs.” The panel featured Todd Ruffner, Advocacy Associate at POMED; Bahey Eldin Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS); Kristen McGeeney, Senior Legal Advisor, Middle East and North Africa, for the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL); and Michele Dunne, Senior Associate, Middle East Program, for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The panel was moderated by Stephen McInerney, Executive Director of POMED. The panel was held in conjunction with the publication of a new report by POMED bearing the same title.

For full notes, continue reading or click here for a PDF.

Mr. McInerney introduced the panel and explained that the Egyptian government’s ongoing campaign against non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should be a major concern for Western observers. While repression of civil society in Egypt is not a new phenomenon, McInerney explained, certain developments undertaken by the regime of President Abdelfattah al-Sisi in the past year, combined with lessening pressure on human rights issues from Washington, pose a very dangerous threat to the future of NGOs …

POMED Notes: A Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Regional Role, and U.S. Relations with the Gulf

On Monday, March 15, 2015, the Atlantic Council held a panel called “A Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Regional Role, and U.S. Relations with the Gulf.” Panelists included Ambassador Richard LeBaron, Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council and former U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait; Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst at the Rand Corporation; Ilan Goldenberg, Directory for the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. The panel was moderated by Barbara Slavin, a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Barbara Slavin began the panel by asking if Saudi Arabia will also seek nuclear power in light of Iran’s nuclear program. Ambassador LeBaron remarked that while Israel views a nuclear Iran as an existential issue, the Saudi’s are more concerned about Iran’s intentions in the region and nuclear power is just one element of that. Further, LeBaron said he doesn’t see them as eager to obtain a nuclear program.

For full notes, continue reading or click here for a PDF.

Next, Ms. Slavin asked about Iran’s current attitudes toward a nuclear deal and Saudi Arabia. Alireza Nader answered that Rouhani is expected to get a boost if there is a nuclear deal, …

Pro-Houthi Journalist Assassinated in Yemen

Abdul Kareem al-Khaiwani, a prominent Yemeni journalist and Houthi delegate at the National Dialogue meetings, was killed on Wednesday by “assailants on a motorbike.” Al-Maseerah, a Houthi television station, reported al-Khaiwani was “martyred in a criminal assassination” near his home in Sana’a. Al-Khaiwani has been critical of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, accusing Saleh of “styling his son” to succeed him, while his editorials have been called “the scourge of Yemen’s veteran autocrat [Saleh].” Farea al-Muslimi called al-Khaiwani “one of the godfathers of Yemen’s tradition of saying no to those in authority.” Al-Khaiwani was also “a goodwill ambassador of the international council for human rights” in the country, and most recently was a member of the Houthi Revolutionary Committee. In other news, the Houthis reportedly abducted nine activists on Wednesday while they were handing out flyers for a protest commemorating the fourth anniversary of the 50 Yemenis who died during protests in 2011.

President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi  called for Prime Minister Khaled Bahah to withdraw his resignation after Bahah was released from house arrest this Monday. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has reportedly “lost track” of over $500 million worth of military aid and equipment in …

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