The POMED Wire

Hearing Notes – U.S. Policy in Libya

On June 15, 2016, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled “U.S. Policy in Libya.” The witness was State Department Special Envoy for Libya Jonathan Winer. To watch a webcast of the hearing, click here.

Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) opened the hearing by noting how Libya is a “textbook case” of what not to do in foreign policy. He stated that U.S. policy in Libya is unclear, and he saw the point of the hearing as an attempt to “understand what is an achievable outcome in Libya that is in line with U.S. interests, and at what cost.” He questioned the training and arming of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) militia and national guard, especially considering the United States’ past experiences in arming Libyan security forces and the lessons the United States learned from doing so. He highlighted Libyans who have been sanctioned because they inhibited the formation of the unity government, and questioned whether the U.S. government is prepared to do so in the future. Noting the failure of U.S. policy in Libya following the fall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, Corker suggested that a lack of ‘day-after’ planning significantly hindered Libya’s progress.

Ranking Member …

Timeline of Egypt’s Escalating Campaign against Civil Society

Successive Egyptian regimes have sought to stifle independent civil society groups and movements, especially human rights and democracy organizations, using authoritarian laws and other forms of pressure.

President Hosni Mubarak (1981-2011) enacted harsh NGO laws and targeted selected civil society organizations and individuals. Under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in 2011-2012, the authorities launched notorious Case 173 against a large number of NGOs for alleged “illegal” funding and activities, raided the offices of several Egyptian and foreign pro-democracy organizations, instigated an intense media campaign against the NGO sector, and put on trial 43 employees of five American and German democracy organizations working in the country.  During the elected government of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood (2012-2013), these NGO workers were convicted on criminal charges in a deeply flawed trial and their organizations banned from the country.

But since the military ousted Morsi in July 2013, and especially since summer 2014, the situation for civil society organizations has become far worse. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as defense minister led Morsi’s ouster, has overseen an unprecedented campaign of repression against the indigenous human rights community and other independent civil society groups–a crackdown that …

Bahrain Rapidly Escalates Crackdown on Opposition Voices

A Bahraini court ordered the suspension of all activities by al-Wefaq, the island-nation’s largest opposition party. The Justice and Islamic Affairs Ministry, which asked the court to issue the order, said al-Wefaq’s shuttering was needed to “safeguard the security of the kingdom.” The court alleged that al-Wefaq violated the constitution and was guilty of “activities that sow and divide the unity of citizens.” A hearing was scheduled for October 6 to decide whether to “liquidate” al-Wefaq and its assets have been frozen. The order follows the recent increase in the sentence of al-Wefaq’s Secretary-General Ali Salman from 4 to 9 years for “crimes of promoting change to the political system by force.”

The United States is “deeply troubled” by the “alarming move” by the Bahraini government, stating that the dissolution of al-Wefaq is “not consistent with a commitment to sustaining,..progress or pursuing unfulfilled reforms.” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power called the move “serious backsliding” on human rights by the Bahraini government.

Human Rights First said the action against al-Wefaq “is part of an alarming new crackdown by the government, designed to eliminate all remaining opposition in the country.” The organization’s Director of Human Rights Defenders Brian

UN Reconsiders Blacklisting of Saudi Coalition after Pressure

YEMEN-CONFLICT Photo Credit: AFP

The UN announced on Monday, June 6th, that it had removed the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting in Yemen from its child rights blacklist, pending a joint review by the UN and the coalition. The decision came after Saudi Arabia strongly condemned the blacklisting, with coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Assiri telling the official Saudi Press Agency that the report was “imbalanced,” did not “serve the Yemeni people,” and was not based enough of off statistics from the Saudi-backed Yemen government. Saudi Arabia’s UN envoy, Abdullah al-Mualami, had also criticized the report for being “misleading” and “incorrect.”

Foreign Policy later revealed that Saudi officials, including Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, had threatened Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal from the UN along with millions in funding, and had promised to use its influence to convince other Arab nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to leave the international body. The report had put the coalition on the UN’s annual list of states and armed groups that violate children’s rights during conflict, alleging that the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year.

Stephan Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Libya’s Rival Central Bank Heads Pledge to Work toward Economic “Unity Plan”


Mahmud Turkia / AFP / Getty Images

In a move regarded by some commentators as “very dangerous and worrying,” planes carrying Russian-produced Libyan dinars arrived in eastern Libya destined for the Beida-based Eastern Central Bank, which supports the eastern government over the Tripoli-based unity government. The Eastern Central Bank then began distributing the currency in an effort to alleviate the deteriorating standard of living in the country. The Russian banknotes differ from the official UK-printed notes in their designs, watermarks, and serial numbers, and Western diplomats fear that the new currency will cause economic turmoil in the nation and deepen the political divide. Ambassadors in the region stressed that the Russian banknotes will weaken trust in the unity government’s ability to lead the country out of its economic recession.

In Tripoli, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is facing an acute liquidity crisis, with employees of the public sector seeing delays of weeks or even months in receiving salaries, inflation on the rise, and long lines at banks to withdraw currency. Standard of living in the country is growing worse, frustrations with the unity government continue to grow among Libyan citizens, and protests in Martyr’s Square over living conditions …

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