The POMED Wire

Egypt Conducts Airstikes against ISIS in Libya, Calls for International Intervention

On Sunday, fighters reportedly affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians in the Libyan town of Sirte.  In response, Egypt bombed ISIS-associated sites in Libya, promising to take “revenge for the Egyptian blood that was shed.”  The Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry stated his belief that “all measures should be under consideration and it is up to the international community to define what is the best course of action” to confront ISIS militants in Libya.  This has led Egypt to support Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohammed al Dairi in his calls to lift the arms embargo currently imposed on Libya by the U.N. Dairi stated that failure to lift the embargo “would play into the hands of extremists.”   Meanwhile, the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany, and Spain issued a joint-statement condemning “all acts of terrorism in Libya”, underscoring their belief that “a national unity government provides the best hope for Libyans to address the terrorist threat and to confront the violence and instability that impedes Libya’s political transition and development.”

U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon addressed the U.N.’s attempts at solving the military issues confronting the country, stating, “We are also making …

POMED Notes — The Battle Against the Islamic State

On Thursday, February 12, 2015, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) hosted a panel entitled “The Battle Against The Islamic State: Where Do We Go From Here?” The moderator, Deputy Director of the Middle East Program Katherine Wilkens at CEIP, opened the discussion by noting the importance of the Obama administration’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. She discussed how the AUMF will provide congressional oversight of U.S. actions against ISIS, shape the role of coalition partners in the region, and present options for military operations in Iraq without replicating them in Syria.

Other panelists present were Lukman Faily, Iraq’s Ambassador to the United States, Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies at CEIP, and James F. Jeffrey, the Philip Solondz Distinguished Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute.

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

Amb. Faily discussed the threat ISIS poses to Iraq and the progress Iraq has made in implementing the political and military reforms needed to fight the Islamic State. Citing the country’s recent passage of a new budget act to deal with the fallout of de-Baathification policies, and interest in overtures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as …

U.N. Peace Talks Begin in Libya; al-Thinni Suspends Interior Minister

U.N.-sponsored peace talks between Libya’s political factions resumed in Ghadames on Wednesday. The General National Congress (GNC) attended and reportedly acquiesced to previous decisions made at earlier talks in Geneva.  Talks are also being held between commanders of the country’s armed factions in Geneva. Meanwhile, the E.U. Foreign Affairs Council warned that it would implement “restrictive measures against spoilers of dialogue,” reportedly including “a range of options for possible sanctions, including imposing a full oil embargo…visa bans and asset freezes.” U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad al-Hussein later reported that “all parties in Libya have committed numerous grave human rights abuses ranging from deadly attacks on civilians to executions, abductions and torture.”

Frederic Wehrey argues that “the real dispute in Libya centers on how to distribute political power and share economic resources” rather than in the “in the meeting halls of United Nations–sponsored talks.” Wehrey also warns that extremist organizations are gaining traction due to “a dangerous ambivalence…on the jihadist threat in Libya.” Meanwhile, Alison Pargeter asserts, “Without robust institutions and the building of a real political culture then the danger for Libya is that revolutionary legitimacy will continue to trump electoral legitimacy” unless the country can “engage in …

POMED Notes – How to Bring Stability to Bahrain

On Wednesday, February 11, 2015, Human Rights First (HRF) and Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) hosted a hill briefing on the “How to Bring Stability to Bahrain” blueprint released by HRF this week. Representative McGovern gave opening remarks, and the panel featured Brian Dooley, Director of the Human Rights Defenders program at Human Rights First, Staci Strobl, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at John Jay College, and Bahraini human rights lawyer Mohammad al-Tajer.

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

Following opening remarks by Representative Jim McGovern on the importance of the U.S. fostering a remedy to current unrest in Bahrain, Mohammad al-Tajer gave an overview of the current human rights situation in Bahrain. He noted that the situation is clearly deteriorating since the anti-terrorism law took effect in December 2014, which has led to recent, large-scale arrests of political dissidents.  Prior to this law, the case against Sheikh Ali Salman was “inconceivable.” Al-Tajer noted the election at the end of 2014 has given the government the opportunity to crackdown against protestors and human rights defenders like Nabeel Rajab. He mentioned a similar case to Rajab: a Sunni activist was recently convicted for …

Yemen: U.S. Closes Embassy while Houthis Announce Openness to Partnership

U.N.-brokered peace talks between rival factions continued this week, while two parties withdrew citing threats from the Houthis. Meanwhile, the State Department announced the temporary closure of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a and the relocation of embassy staff, noting, “We will explore options for a return to Sana’a when the situation on the ground improves.” The majority of embassy staff are expected to leave by today, while Ambassador Matt Tueller and the Marines will evacuate by Wednesday. The U.K. has also evacuated its embassy and France is expected to do the same on Friday.  Ambassadors Ryan Crocker, Robert Ford, James F. Jeffrey, and Ronald Neumann, have advocated against the State Department closing down the Embassy in Yemen, saying ”the decision to evacuate…should be driven by those directly responsible beginning and strongly influenced by the ambassador on the ground in consultation with the embassy security adviser.” Lolita Baldor and Matthew Lee contend that intelligence operations are expected to be severely impacted by the embassy closure, as was the case in 2012 when ”the C.I.A. lost visibility on Syria when that embassy was evacuated…”

In related news, Saleh Ali al-Sammad, a top Houthi leader in Sana’a, characterizes “his movement …

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