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22 Dec 2007 - 29 Jun 2013
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Category: Countries
Photo: Free People of Benghazi
February 23rd, 2011 by Alec

Courtesy of the Libyan Youth Movement, Feb 17’s website.

Posted in Libya, Protests | Comment »
Photo: “Liberated Libya”
February 23rd, 2011 by Alec
The following graphic was compiled by Iyad El-Bahgdadi from internet sources.  According to this map, government control remains in parts of the western and southern parts of the country, in particular Tripoli; while the major cities and population centers in the eastern half of the country are now reportedly under control of anti-government protesters and military defectors.
Posted in Libya, Protests | Comment »
Jordan: Balancing Act For King Abdullah
February 23rd, 2011 by Alec
David Ignatius, writing for The Washington Postdiscusses the dichotomous nature of Jordanians’ calls for reform. Jordan’s population is largely split between those of Palestinian descent and those of East Bank bedouin ancestry, creating two separate voices in society.  For Jordanians of Palestinian origin, reform usually means less bureaucracy, more freedom of expression, and more representation for their community.  In contrast, for East Bank Jordanians, reform means rolling back what they view as unsuccessful privatization coupled with more limits on citizenship and voting rights for Palestinians.  In this way, Ignatius argues, King Abdullah II finds himself caught in the middle of these two groups.  The Palestinian business elite is vital for the country’s economy but the bedouin tribes of the East Bank are essential to the military and national security. Ignatius also warns that the King and his wife Queen Rania’s Western outlook, success, and style threaten to disconnect the monarchy from the local population. The Queen’s Palestinian origins also irk many East Bankers.  Ultimately, says Ignatius, the King will have to find a way to get ahead of the problems that are arising but maintain his ability to balance the two centers of Jordanian society which will remain a difficult task.
Posted in Jordan, Reform | Comment »
Yemen: Student Protesters Shot, Ruling MPs Resign
February 23rd, 2011 by Alec
On Tuesday night, pro-government gunmen opened fire on students staging a sit in at the gates of Sana’a University.  Two people were killed and 21 wounded, many of them teenagers.  Pro-government supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, broke through police barricades and opened fire on the protesters with AK-47s and pistols. Protesters accused the government of paying the gunmen to attack them although the government denies such charges.  Earlier protests had been peaceful up until the shooting on Tuesday night.  Some protesters also reported being stabbed during the incident. Thousands of protesters gathered on Wednesday outside the university gates chanting defiantly against the Saleh regime and the shooting attacks the night before.  Seven Yemeni MPs, all belonging to Saleh’s ruling party the General People’s Congress, resigned in protest of the violence employed to quell anti-government protests.
Posted in Protests, Yemen | Comment »
Libya: Gadhafi Loses Control of Country as Violence Continues
February 23rd, 2011 by Kyle
Al Jazeera reports that the cities of Tobruk and Misurata have been taken over by government opposition forces who are now supported by the Libyan military. Major General Suleiman Mahmoud, the commander of the armed forces in Tobruk, told Al Jazeera that the troops led by him had switched loyalties. “We are on the side of the people,” he said. Ben Wedeman reporting from Eastern Libya, tweeted that the flags outside of buildings have been replaced by the pre-Gadhafi flag.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, stated: “I would like the suspension of economic, commercial and financial relations with Libya until further notice.” These remarks come as many continue to speculate at the death toll in Libya including Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, who stated that reports of 1,000-plus dead are credible. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also commented on the situation: “The United States continues to watch the situation in Libya with alarm. This bloodshed is completely unacceptable. It is the responsibility of the Government of Libya to respect the universal rights of their own people, including their right to free expression and assembly.” The UN Security Council issued a statement expressing “grave concern at the situation in Libya”; they also condemned the violence and called for an immediate end to the forceful repression and for a national dialogue to commence immediately to address the legitimate demands of the people of Libya.
Libyan flag before Gadhafi came to power.
Posted in Diplomacy, Libya, Military, Protests, US foreign policy, United Nations | Comment »
Bahrain: Political Prisoners Freed as Protests Continue
February 23rd, 2011 by Kyle
At least 50 political prisoners have been freed including 23 Shi’a activists accused of plotting the overthrow of the king, in an attempt to acquiesce to the demands of anti-government protesters. Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Manama on Wedndesday, demanding greater political opportunities. The widow of one of the seven people killed in a crackdown on protesters read a statement outlining the opposition’s demands, which center on the current government’s resignation and the replacement of the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty with a constitutional monarchy. The statement also demanded a probe into the killings of peaceful protesters during government crackdowns last week.
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,  added that the ”steps need to be followed by concrete actions and reform” and that there is no place for violence against peaceful protesters. State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, stated, “we commend the steps taken by King Hamad, as well as Crown Prince Salman and others, to restore calm to Bahrain, to allow peaceful demonstrations to take place… we view recent announcements to launch a national dialogue and the release of political prisoners as positive steps towards addressing the concerns of Bahraini citizens.
Posted in Bahrain, Diplomacy, Freedom, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Egypt: Cabinet Reshuffle Amid Protests
February 23rd, 2011 by Alec
The Supreme Military Council reshuffled the cabinet on Tuesday,  following Hosni Mubarak’s departure. Twelve members of the cabinet were replaced and the cabinet is  scheduled to hold its first meeting on Wednesday.  Ahmed Shafiq, a Mubarak appointee, was retained as Prime Minister; a move that upset youth groups that took part in the popular uprising. Also retained were Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Justice Minister Mamdouh Marie.  Three thousand people gathered in Tahrir Square on Tuesday to protest Shafiq’s continued role in the government.  Two posts were added to the cabinet: that of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Egyptians Abroad and Emigration, filled by Yehia al-Gamal, a member of the opposition Democratic Front Party, and Georgette Kellini, a Coptic Christian, respectively.  The Information portfolio was eliminated and along with it the Ministry of Information.  Munir Fakhri Abdel-Nour​, another Copt, was appointed Tourism Minister.  Other independents and opposition members were also appointed to the cabinet.
Update: New Deputy PM al-Gamal has been appointed to supervise the Supreme Press Council until the Upper House of Egyptian Parliament is elected, at which point he will become the head of that body.
Posted in Egypt, Political Parties, Reform | Comment »
Libya: Images of Violence Released Amidst Media Clampdown
February 23rd, 2011 by Kyle
Posted in Libya, Military | Comment »
Algeria: Emergency Law is Repealed
February 23rd, 2011 by Kyle
On Tuesday, Algeria’s Cabinet adopted an order to lift the 19-year-old state of emergency law. This measure is one of the economic and political demands that the opposition has sought in recent weeks. The government also announced that it would also undertake economic stimulus plans in an attempt to curb unemployment. It remains unclear what kind of an effect the removal of the law will have because earlier in the month Algerian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, announced that protests would still be banned in Algiers indefinitely. The change will not go into effect until it is officially published in the government journal and its terms are outlined.
Posted in Algeria, Reform | Comment »
Senators Condemn Violence in Libya
February 22nd, 2011 by Naureen
On Tuesday, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) condemned the use of violence by the Ghadafi regime and called on the UN Security Council to immediately condemn the acts and for the General Assembly to expel Libya from the UN Human Rights Council. He also unveiled a Senate resolution condemning Libyan President Moammar Ghadafi  and the regime’s use of violence. The resolution calls for the suspension of arm sales to Libya, urges the UN to suspend Libya’s membership on its Human Rights Council, and calls on the International Criminal Court to investigate whether crimes against humanity have been committed by Ghadafi against the Libyan people.
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) also condemned the use of violence and called for immediate international action. He stated that a four step process should take place: Libya’s senior military commanders should be made aware that their acquiescence may open them to future international war crimes charges; American and international oil companies should immediately cease operations in Libya and the administration should consider re-imposing U.S. sanctions; the U.N. Security Council should condemn violence and explore sanctions and the U.N. should remove Libya from the Human Rights Commission; and for the Arab League and African Union to create a new precedent in  response to the crisis. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) also released a joint-statement condemning the violence in Libya and applauding the Libyan officials who have broken with the Ghadafi regime. They also call for a no-fly zone to prevent the regime’s use of air power to attack Libyan civilians, sanctions and asset freezes, an arms embargo and the immediate suspension of Libya from international organizations.
Posted in Arab League, Congress, Human Rights, Libya, Military, Protests, Reform, United Nations, sanctions | Comment »
U.N. Security Council Holds Meeting on Libya, Condemns Violence
February 22nd, 2011 by Naureen
On Tuesday, the UN Security Council held formal consultations on the Libya crisis with Western nations calling for a strong statement condemning the use of violence. Libya’s deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who requested the meeting, has called for Gadhafi to stand down and called on the Security Council to order a no-fly zone over Libya and for a humanitarian corridor to get supplies to civilians. Lybia’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham and UN undersecretary-general B. Lynn Pascoe spoke to the council about the protests. The council condemned the crackdown in a statement agreed to by all 15 council members, expressing “grave concern” and calling for “an immediate end to the violence” and steps to address the legitimate demands of the Libyan people.
Earlier, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) released a statement condemning the violence and calling on the U.N. to protect Libyan citizens: “With the brutal violence against protesters in Libya, the United States cannot sit idly by. The reports of air assaults on civilians and arms being flown in from other countries require the establishment of a no-fly zone around Libya.  I urge Ambassador Rice to act immediately at the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that protects the rights of the Libyan people.”
Posted in Human Rights, Libya, Protests, United Nations | Comment »
What the US Should Do to Promote Human Rights in the Middle East
February 22nd, 2011 by Kyle
Human Rights First (HRF) issued a list of recommendations to the Obama Administration on how to deal with the events over the past weeks which demonstrate the unsustainability of policies, which HRF’s Neil Hicks says ”place stability ahead of human rights.” The statement called on the administration to make clear to Middle Eastern governments that they must listen and respond to the legitimate demands of their people, respect human rights, and end policies which use violence and coercion as a means to halt freedom of expression. HRF also stated that the administration must be ready to assist peaceful transitions toward more democratic government everywhere through targeted aid, technical assistance and support for free elections and democratic institutions of all kinds.
On the situation in Libya, HRF advised the advised the administration to take the lead at the UN Security Council in pushing forward plans that include condemning the use of violence, instituting a no-fly zone over Libya and creating a commission to investigate war crimes. It also called for targeted sanctions on Gadhafi and those close to him as well as cooperation with organizations like the African Union and the Arab League to ensure an end to repression in Libya. The report also gives individual country advice for Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia.
Posted in Bahrain, Diplomacy, Egypt, Freedom, Human Rights, Libya, Protests, Reform, Tunisia, US foreign policy, United Nations | Comment »
Libya: HRW Demands International Response to Violence
February 22nd, 2011 by Kyle
Posted in Diplomacy, Human Rights, Libya | Comment »
Iran: IRGC Seeks Assurances of Non-Violence
February 22nd, 2011 by Kyle
Con Coughlin, reporting for the Daily Telegraph, states that senior officers in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have written a letter to their commanding officer demanding assurances that they will not be required to fire on anti-government demonstrators.  The letter, according to the Daily Telegraph, addressed to Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Guards’ commanding officer and calls on Jafari to issue statements to the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia to use restraint when handling anti-government protests.  A passage states: “We promise our people that we will not shoot nor beat our brothers who are seeking to express legitimate protest against the policies and conduct of their leader.”  Coughlin believes that this points to a distinct rift within the IRGC, but is unsure of how it will play out.
Posted in Iran, Military, Protests | Comment »
Libya: Human Rights Watch Reports Extreme Violence
February 22nd, 2011 by Kyle
Human Rights Watch has gathered unconfirmed reports from sources within Libya of the harsh acts of violence the government continues to carry out against its people. Sources in Tripoli state that 62 bodies have been brought into two hospitals’ morgues since February 20th amidst reports that government soldiers and militia are driving around Tripoli and other cities shooting at passers-by.  HRW also has reports that hospitals are running out of necessary equipment as the street violence and death tolls continue to escalate. Information coming out of Libya is sparse due to lack of telecommunications as well as the absence of foreign journalists.
Posted in Libya, Protests | Comment »
Libya: Wolfowitz Criticises Policy Against Violence
February 22nd, 2011 by Kyle
Paul Wolfowitz, writing in the Wall Street Journal, urges the U.S. Government to side with the Libyan people as they stand up to Gadhafi. Wolfowitz believes that Ghadafi’s latest decision to harm innocent Libyans should serve as long overdue impetus for the U.S. Government to withdraw its support. He states: “A clear statement of U.S. support would be significant in itself. But the situation calls for urgent action, not just improved rhetoric.” Wolfowitz calls for humanitarian aid to be sent to Libyans and for direct action to be taken by the UN Security Council. Wolfowitz also believes that reopening communication lines between Libyans through the distribution of SIM cards could be a vital move. Wolfowitz argues that the first step is for a distinct policy shift to occur in the Obama administration as it would publicly clarify that the United States stands behind the people of Libya and human rights.
Posted in Diplomacy, Libya, Protests, Reform, US foreign policy | Comment »
Libya: Gadhafi Speaks and Promises to Stay in Power
February 22nd, 2011 by Kyle
Muammar Gadhafi announced on Libya’s State Television that he will not resign and that he wishes to die as a martyr on Libyan soil.  He also stated that the”rats” who were imitating protests across the region needed to stop and that the people of Libya must protest in support of him.  He went on to state that he could not step down because he was not a president, but was instead a leader of the revolution. Gadhafi argued that Libya had resisted foreign influence before and once again they would fight back against the US and Britain. He also called upon the military and the police to “crush” the protesters.
Posted in Libya, Protests | Comment »
Tunisia Is A Model For the Region
February 22nd, 2011 by Naureen
On Monday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stated, “The revolution in Tunisia has been very successful and it has become a model for the region. We stand ready to provide training to help Tunisia’s military to provide security.”  Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) also lauded the role of the Tunisian military and condemned the violence in Libya, “The Tunisian military played a constructive role…but the military in Libya has been against the people. That is unacceptable.” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also stated that Tunisia has an opportunity to provide a positive model for countries seeking reform, “if it can avoid pitfalls on the path to elections.” He calls on the interim government to make constitutional changes and set up institutions to ensure the rule of law for the election: “It is very important that these processes are entertained in a way that everybody in this society can believe in and have trust in.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Elections, Military, Reform, Tunisia, Turkey | Comment »
Paying Attention to the Rules of the Game
February 22nd, 2011 by Naureen
Andrew Barwig, writing at Foreign Policyargues that we need to pay careful attention to new electoral rules in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen to ensure that the structure and rules of the game are changed and that the transitional electoral systems do not simply diffuse power and reinforce clientelism. He states that the laws may play a significant role in stifling democratic change citing examples of past electoral reform in Jordan and Tunisia which allowed Ben Ali and Jordan’s monarchy to maintain control over their parliaments. He also states that we should be cautious in promoting proportional representation as it “could result in fractious legislative bodies that are unable to push for more far-reaching constitutional reforms” and may hinder the formation of electoral alliances. He agrees with Marwan Muasher’s assessment that unless new electoral laws actually strengthen elected parliaments, “the ruse of electoral reform may repeat itself,” but cautions against liberal electoral reforms that allow open party lists, multi-member districts and preferential voting as they may allow old party elites a ticket back to power.
Posted in Egypt, Elections, Jordan, Reform, Tunisia, Yemen | Comment »
Libyan Deputy Ambassador to the UN Calls Violence Genocide
February 22nd, 2011 by Kyle
Posted in Libya, Military, United Nations | Comment »
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