The POMED Wire

Turkish Parliament to Consider New Protest Laws

davutoglu Photo Credit: World Bulletin

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that the Turkish government will introduce a bill in parliament which would give law enforcement greater powers over protests. The introduction of the bill will follow violent clashes between pro-Kurdish protesters and police that killed more than 35 people across Turkey. Prime Minister Davutoglu said one goal of the bill is to enable law enforcement to respond to “massive acts of violence” more rapidly and efficiently.

The security reforms include harsher punishments for possession of “instruments of assault” such as Molotov cocktails and a ban on protesters covering their faces. They also define calls for violence on social media as criminal acts. In addition to broader powers, Davutoglu described the democratic controls included in the bill, such as a 17 member “watchdog” committee composed of members of parliament, which will review and evaluate police actions. Davutoglu said that the reform framework was drafted “in compliance with the European Union standards in order to keep the balance between freedoms and restrictions.”

Gunal Kursun, a professor of penal law at Cukurova University, expressed concern over Turkey’s increasing security restrictions. Unlike in established democracies, where rule of law and transparency are well …

State Dept Welcomes Selection of New Iraqi Cabinet Ministers

VOA News Photo credit: VOA News

The State Department issued a statement on Saturday congratulating the Iraqi people and their representatives in parliament on the decision to elect seven new cabinet ministers, completely filling the cabinet for the first time since 2010. Parliament elected Sunni lawmaker Khaled al-Obeidi as the new defense minister and Shi’ite lawmaker Mohammed al-Ghabban became interior minister. Control over the defense and interior ministries has long been a source of tension among Iraq’s feuding political parties. The U.S. had been pushing for a more representative government that would reach out to Iraq’s Sunni minority after critics said former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki marginalized the population and led to the rise of the Islamic State. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that these new ministers “represent the diversity of Iraq,” and complete an inclusive cabinet led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The selection of these ministers has been welcomed as another important factor in the long-term campaign to restore stability in Iraq. Critical appointments to security posts were hailed by Secretary John Kerry as a “very positive step forward” in the fight against the Islamic State. Furthermore, Vice President Joe Biden personally called Prime Minister Abadi to congratulate …

Prosecutor Drops Charges for 53 Defendants Involved in Erdogan Corruption Scandal

Photo Credit: Diepresse

On Friday, a Turkish prosecutor dropped charges against 53 defendants involved in a “sprawling corruption case that had reached the highest levels of Turkish politics” and had threatened the government of recently elected President Tayyip Erdogan. The case “posed one of the biggest challenges to Erdogan’s 11-year rule as Prime Minister,” which led to the resignation of three members of his cabinet and sparked international criticism regarding the way Erdogan handled the scandal, by “tightening internet controls and reassigning police, judges and prosecutors.”

The defendants included two sons of former cabinet ministers, as well as the former manager of the state-run Halkbank, who was caught hiding nearly $5 million cash in shoe boxes. Broadcaster CNN Turk reported that “Istanbul prosecutors ruled that there was no case to answer as evidence had not been collected appropriately, there was no evidence of a crime and no criminal gang was uncovered.”

Other lesser charges are still pending for some of the defendants, and a separate parliamentary inquiry continues. According to Tim Arango from the New York Times, “the news… was a further indication that Mr. Erdogan, who at on time seemed in jeopardy of becoming ensnared in the case himself, …

U.S. Condemns Ongoing Violence in Libya in Joint Statement with EU members

libyaPhoto Credit: al-Ahram

France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement Saturday, condemning the ongoing violence in Libya and calling for an “immediate cessation of hostilities.” The statement expressed concern for General Khalifa Haftar‘s recent assault on Islamist positions in Benghazi. Haftar is a former general who served under former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and is one of several commanders of “irregular forces” making decisions in the country.

Haftar’s campaign in Benghazi, dubbed “Operation Dignity” was endorsed by the internationally recognized Libyan government now based in Tobruk. The endorsement, however, may intensify internal divisions within the Tobruk bloc, with critics of General Haftar denouncing him as a “loyalist” to the former regime. The United States’ joint statement asserted that Libya’s security challenges “can only be sustainably addressed by regular armed forces under the control of a central authority which is accountable to a democratic and inclusive parliament.”

The statement also expressed disappointment that after meetings in Ghadames and Tripoli, the competing parties in the Libyan conflict were unable to respect calls for a ceasefire. The authors of the statement affirmed their readiness to “use individual sanctions,” in accordance with the UN, “against those …

POMED Notes: “Previewing Tunisia’s Elections”

New-POMED-Logo-red-copyOn Friday, October 17, POMED and the Congressional Tunisia Caucus held a panel discussion titled “Previewing Tunisia’s Elections,” at the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill, with opening remarks from his Excellency M’hamed Ezzine Chelaifa, the Ambassador of the Tunisian Republic to the United States. The panelists were Alexis Arieff, Africa Policy Analyst at the Congressional Research Service, Jeffrey England, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Democratic Institute, and Stephen McInerney, Executive Director of POMED. The discussion was moderated by Cole Bockenfeld, the Advocacy Director of POMED. 

For a full summary of the event, continue reading below or click here for a pdf.

 

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Chelaifa underscored how admiration for the Tunisian democratic transition experience should not overshadow the complexity of the process, and he called on the U.S. to continue supporting the transition. Chelaifa then identified several dimensions that might affect the election: voter turnout; the proliferation of electoral lists that might spread out votes; the attitude of Tunisian voters; the polarization of the political landscape; the presence of Ben Ali regime members; and the role of civil society, media and lobbying in the electoral …

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