The POMED Wire

POMED Notes — Iran Nuclear Negotiations After the Second Extension: Where Are They Going?

On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing entitled “Iran Nuclear Negotiations After the Second Extension: Where Are They Going?” Witnesses included the Honorable Eric S. Edelman, Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; Mr. John Hannah, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Mr. Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and the Honorable Robert Einhorn, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Program of The Brookings Institution.

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

Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) opened by expressing frustration with the delay in using the proper leverage to get “the type of deal that we thought was verifiable.” He expressed concern a final agreement would free Iran of sanctions, leave it as a threshold nuclear state, and contain limits that would eventually expire. Lamenting an apparent stalemate in negotiations that were already on their second – soon to be third – extension, Royce accused Iran of continuing to advance its nuclear program in violation of “the spirit of the interim agreement” and duplicitously making a power play to …

Libya Peace Talks Resume; al-Hassi Claims U.S. Partnership

Peace talks resumed in Geneva on Monday with UNSMIL Head Bernardino Leon noting that the participants “have a very clear determination to reach an agreement, to pacify the country and to overcome the crisis…There is a very constructive spirit.”  This week’s talks are structured in two tracks: a “main political track” to form a unity government, and a second track that will bring together local and municipal councils “to discuss confidence building measures and ways to implement them.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan al-Saghir was kidnapped on Sunday from a hotel in Bayda and released on Monday. The Tobruk-based government has launched an inquiry into the incident. On Tuesday, nine people were killed in an attack at the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, which the Islamic State (IS) has reportedly claimed responsibility for on social media. Omar Khadrawi, head of Tripoli’s Central Security Directorate, rebuked this claim, saying the attackers were part of “Quaddafi’s revolutionary guard and…specialist assassination squads” who carried out to the attack to “damage Tripoli’s reputation of quiet, peace, and security.” France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S. issued a joint-statement “strongly condemn[ing]” the attack and called on all parties to “engage seriously” …

Yemeni Future Uncertain as Parliament Suspends Vote

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On Sunday, Yemeni parliament members were reportedly turned away and told that the vote to decide whether to accept the resignation of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi‘s government had been postponed. Parliamentary members were left in confusion as to the closure of the parliamentary session, with some attributing it to the Houthis, and others the death of Saudi’s King Abdullah.

On Saturday, thousands gathered to protest outside the home of President Hadi, rejecting his resignation and calling for him to stand against the Houthis. Protests turned violent during a student-led sit-in, which denounced the kidnapping of Hadi’s chief of staff Ahmed bin Mubarak and seizure of the capital by Houthi forces. Baraa Shiban, who attended the sit in, noted, “When we refused to leave, they attacked us with sticks and Jambiyas (a curved dagger usually worn as a clothing accessory).” Reportedly, Houthi fighters have also surrounded the homes of many former cabinet members to prevent them from leaving.

Despite the turmoil, President Barack Obama declared that the U.S. will continue to target ”high-value targets inside Yemen.” In other news, 73 activists, including Busra Al MaqtariAbdulghani Al EryaniFarea Al Muslimi, have signed a letter

Egypt: Clashes Leave Over 20 Dead on Revolution’s Anniversary

On the anniversary of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, over 20 people were killed and over 90 injured, as protestors clashed with security forces across the country. On Sunday, supporters gathered in Alexandria for the funeral of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, a democracy activist who was killed by police during a protest in Cairo. The prosecutor general has announced an investigation into her death. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim disclosed over 500 arrests, noting that the “police’s decisive stance” has maintained stability.

In a televised speech on Sunday, President Abdelfattah al-Sisi stated ”the fourth anniversary represents to all of us a new beacon for hope and progress” and asked Egyptians to carry on the revolution “within themselves.” Meanwhile, opposition groups urged supporters to continue the struggle as “the 2011 revolution is ongoing.” Ellen Bork stresses that Sisi’s rhetoric on democratic progress must be contextualized as “something autocrats do” to present the regime “as the only alternative to chaos…to terrorism,” whereas it is those seeking true democratic change who will bolster the state against instability. Khaled Diab argues that Sisi must “reform or perish,” warning that a failure to do so could lead to “full-out civil conflict.”

In related news, Human Rights Watch …

POMED Notes: Direct Line: Doing Business in Tunisia

On Thursday, January 22, 2015, during a State Department event titled “Direct Line-Tunisia: Doing Business in Tunisia,” U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Jake Walles and Amel Bouchamaoui Hammami discussed the prospects of strengthening U.S.-Tunisian trade ties and the benefits of investing in Tunisia.

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

Amb. Walles began the session discussing the political background of Tunisia since the 2011 Revolution, touching upon its successful democratic transition, new constitution, newly elected Parliament and President, and the formation of a new government. Walles then introduced the Investment and Entrepreneurship Conference “Building on Strategic Partnerships” slated for March 4, 2015. the event itself is the following day, hosted by Partners for a New Beginning – North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity (PNB-NAPEO) Tunisia Local Chapter, the U.S. Department of State, and the American Chamber of Commerce Tunisia. The conference is geared towards American businessmen and women interested in investing in Tunisia.

Once everybody was up to date on the conference, Amb. Walles dove right into the Tunisian Economy. Discussing projected economic indicators in 2014, the Ambassador mentioned how GDP per capita on purchasing power parity was $10,495, GDP Growth was 2.5 percent, with an …

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