The POMED Wire

Saudi Women Participate in Elections for First Time

saudi electionsPhoto Credit: AFP

Of the nearly 1,000 Saudi women who ran in local elections, approximately 20 won municipal council seats out of a total of 2,100 available council posts. While 44 percent of the 1.35 million registered Saudi men voted, an estimated 81 percent of the 130,000 women turned out to vote, according to government estimates. The State Department called the elections an “important step forward… toward a more inclusive electoral process that will ensure all citizens are represented in a government accountable to all Saudi citizens.” Opinion diverged on the motives for the opening of elections to women, with speculation that the decision represented “window dressing” aimed at appeasing Saudi Arabia’s western allies. Many eligible voters expressed dismay at the obstacles female candidates faced during the campaign, including the lack of publicity and laws against gender mixing. Female voters also confronted institutional barriers to registration such as difficulty in providing proof of residency and a shortage of female voter-registration centers. Human Rights Watch Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson argued that “the government should fix the problems that are making it hard for women to participate and build on this progress to create momentum for further women’s rights reforms.”…

Libyan Minister Stands By Anti-Civil Society Rhetoric; Tentative Political Deal Reached

Part-NIC-Nic6516772-1-1-0Photo Credit: AFP

Following the Tobruk government’s condemnation of Minister of Culture and Information Omar al Gwairi‘s call for the imprisonment of some individuals associated with civil society, al-Gwairi doubled down on his comments. In a blog post on his website, al-Gwairi wrote that he followed “with disinterest” the responses to his initial comments, adding, “I stand by my statement that those collaborators who receive foreign and international funding under the cover of civil society are either collaborators or stupid, where the former must be held accountable and the latter made aware.” He again condemned the international community for its apathy towards Libyan refugees and interference in internal politics.

Meanwhile in Tunis, both the House of Representatives in Tobruk and Tripoli’s General National Congress circumvented the UN’s Libyan Political Agreement by signing a declaration of principles aimed at ending the country’s civil conflict and creating a unity government. Coined the “Libyan-Libyan” agreement, the proposed political panacea would reportedly establish a committee to nominate a prime minister within fifteen days. GNC first deputy head Mohammed Awad Abdul-Sadiq praised the deal as”a historic moment the Libyans were waiting for, the Arabs were waiting for, and the world was waiting for,” asserting …

Governor of Aden Assassinated as Peace Talks Announced

SaadHadiApGetty

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty

The governor of Aden, Jaafar Mohamed Saad, and several body guards were killed when a car bomb targeted their convoy in the Tawahi district of Aden on Sunday.  Within hours, an Islamic State-affiliated news source claimed responsibility. Aden remains the current base for Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, after pro-government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition re-captured the economically and politically  important port city in October.  President Hadi returned to the city in early November and it has become the interim capital while the government negotiates with the Houthi rebel faction. Governor Saad “was a significant figure not just as the administrative head of Aden, but for the role he played in driving Houthi rebels out of the port city earlier this year,” says analyst  Sebastian Usher.

Yemeni analyst Farea al-Muslimi suggested, “the government is internally busy fighting and the only ones working or taking over in Yemen now are Isis and al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).”  AQAP has maintained a presence in Yemen for a number of years, even enacting autonomous control over several cities in the country’s eastern Hadramout region. It was not until recently that the Islamic State …

Libyan Culture Minister Threatens Civil Society

Adham-Youssef-1-768x430Photo Credit: Adham Youssef

Omar al-Gwairi, minister of information and culture for the Libyan government in Tobruk, called [Ar] for the arrest of ”the collaborators and idiots supported by foreign countries and international organizations under the cover of supporting media and civil society in Libya” in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.

He continued: ”You are publicly open about your collaboration and subordination. You receive money, donations, and aid. This is a punishable crime according to Libyan law, and you will soon find yourselves in prisons. The Libyan people will not forgive those who sold the country, and worked with those who are the reason for Libya’s destruction: satellite channels corrupted by dollars, and online web pages that mix poison with honey, all of which we are closely monitoring.”

He also criticized an unnamed “Libyan news agency funded by the EU,” calling for the ban of “any news agency or civil society organizations with foreign funding or foreign connections” and arrest of “collaborators and betrayers.” Gwairi also urged “the Libyan citizen” to “take leadership in closing the sources of collaborations and betrayal and expel them from Libya.”

In a separate post on his website, al-Gwairi called [Ar] …

Yemen Peace Talks Stalled as Sides Compete for Taiz

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The process of negotiating a peace settlement in Yemen has reportedly begun, with reports of a Houthi delegation traveling to neighboring Oman to conduct peace talks with the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who returned to Aden earlier this month. Mohammed Abdul Salam, a Houthi spokesman, announced via Facebook that, “We hope [the dialogue] will be serious and constructive, leading to a halt in aggression, lifting of the siege, and revival of the political process.” Muscat, Oman will serve as the venue of the United Nations-sponsored peace talks which will hope to see a ceasefire brokered between the two parties followed by a full withdrawal of rebels from the urban areas of the country and return of government property. Last month the Houthis agreed to the “Muscat Principles,” but in recent weeks the transition to the talks in Muscat has been delayed by renewed fighting around the city of Taiz.  The actions of the Houthis there, including heavy use of landmines, caused the Yemeni Foreign Minister Riad Yassin to issue a statement saying that this ”shows that really they are not serious [about the peace process].”

Taiz is Yemen’s third largest city behind Sanaa and Aden …

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