The POMED Wire

President Trump Visits Saudi Arabia, Announces $110 Billion Arms Sale

During his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia beginning on May 20, President Donald Trump spoke to more than fifty leaders from Muslim-majority countries, addressing the need for unity in the fight against terror and radicalism. In his thirty-six-minute address, he emphasized the rejection of religious rifts in the war against extremism, stating, “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.” Many likened

Notes from Tunis: A Recent Trip Report

May 10, 2017 Amy Hawthorne The following are notes and impressions from my recent visit to Tunis, where I talked with many politically engaged younger Tunisians about how they see the situation in the country. Anti-democratic danger signs? The political mood felt jittery and vaguely foreboding, but was hard to read precisely.  Many people are anxious that influential authoritarian figures from the Ben Ali era are on the ascendancy.  They worry that these people are gaining traction in pushing the government to take measures that would secure or expand their power, at the expense of democratization. A major concern is the

Iran Prepares for Presidential Elections on May 19

On Friday, May 19, Iran will hold first-round election to choose its next president. Friday’s contest will feature candidates from both reformist and fundamentalist ends of Iran’s political spectrum. Reformists candidates include Mostafa Hashemitaba, Eshaq Jahangiri, and incumbent Hassan Rouhani, while the conservative camp includes Ebrahim Raisi and Mostafa Mirsalim. Tehran’s mayor, Mohammad-Baghar Ghalibaf withdrew his candidacy over the weekend and asked his supporters to vote for Raisi. In the instance that no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff election will be held on May 26. The election campaign has featured discussion of a variety of topics. Three televised debates have been held in the past three

Members of Congress Seek Answers from Tillerson about Egypt’s Detention of U.S. Teen

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this morning, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) express concern about 17-year-old Ahmed Hassan, a New Jersey native, who has been imprisoned in Egypt since November 20, 2016. The members of Congress acknowledge the importance of the U.S.-Egypt strategic partnership, but raise concerns about Egyptian authorities’ respect for human rights, civil liberties, and the treatment of approximately 20 American citizens jailed in Egypt. The letter can be seen here. Full text of the letter is as follows: April 25, 2017 The Honorable Rex W. Tillerson Secretary

Turkey Approves Sweeping Presidential Powers, U.S. Policymakers Respond

On April 16, amid contested balloting results and street demonstrations by opposition parties and voters, Turkey’s referendum vote came down in favor of expanding presidential powers for President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, granting him sweeping executive powers that rights groups viewed as potential “death knell” for Turkish democracy. Preliminary counts put the vote at 51.3 percent in favor and 48.6 percent opposed. A last-minute order issued by the country’s Supreme Election Board, dominated by AKP members, allowed ballots without the official stamp to be counted. Turkish opposition parties immediately called for an annulment of the referendum results. Bulent Tezcan, the deputy leader of the