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Bahrain Recruits Yemeni Soldiers
On Saturday, sources reported that the Bahraini government is bringing in Yemeni citizens to work in the military and security forces.  Large numbers of Yemen's youth applied through the office of the "Kingdom Medium" in the capital of Sana'a in front of the Saudi embassy.  According to sources, a large number of unemployed youth registered for the military of Bahrain after the scale of gold and other livestock, possessions decreased. ...
By Sarah July 3, 2011 Category: Bahrain, Yemen
Al Wefaq Society National Gathering in Bahrain
On Friday, the Al Wefaq Society in Bahrain held a national gathering in Al Duraz Village where Ali Salman, the president of the Al Wefaq Society spoke on the national demands of the main Shia national opposition group.  Click here for the unofficial transcript of Salman's speech.      
By Sarah July 3, 2011 Category: Bahrain
Egypt: Trials of Sectarian Clashes Begin As Protests Continue
Trials began in Egypt on Sunday of 48 Muslims and Christians charged with "deadly sectarian clashes" in Cairo, specifically the Imbaba district in May.  Security forces surrounded the area to keep control of the families of the defendants, who were protesting outside the courthouse.  So far, 28 defendants have come forward for their trials and authorities are still waiting for 20.  The 28 defendants pleaded not guilty to various charges ...
By Sarah July 3, 2011 Category: Egypt
Renewed Violence in Syria
A "better-organized" antigovernment movement dismissed new plans from the Syrian government that included a national dialogue that was to begin next week.  Many Cairo-based Syrians held a protest in front of the Arab League building on Sunday demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. Protesters reported tanks, armored carriers, gunfire and dozens of arrests in Hama.  However, many protesters reported newfound fears that the government forces may be prepared to engage ...
By Sarah July 3, 2011 Category: Syria, Turkey
Jordan: Government Approves New Cabinet
As a response to the growing number of antigovernment protests, King Abdullah II approved a cabinet shuffle made by Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit on Saturday in an effort to appease the protesters.  The focal point for protesters was the interior minister Saad Hayel Srour because protesters believed he was the one who called for the use of "excessive force" by the police against protesters.  In addition, Srour had also allowed ...
By Sarah July 2, 2011 Category: Diplomacy, Government, Jordan
Syria: Assad Fires Governor of Hama
On Saturday, President Bashar al-Assad fired the governor of Hama after protesters participated in the largest demonstration since March.  Assad's move was seen as an effort to calm the protesters.  On Friday, more than 100,000 protesters gathered for demonstrations, chanting and singing.  According to a state-run news agency, SANA,  protesters viewed Assad's move to fire Governor Ahmed Abdul-Aziz as an attempt to "weed out" weak links in his ruling system.  This ...
By Sarah July 2, 2011 Category: Diplomacy, Syria
African Union Rejects Gadhafi’s Warrant
The African Union called on members to disregard the warrant for Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's arrest that was issued by the International Criminal Court.  According to the AU's chairman, Jean Ping, the court was "discriminatory and focused on crimes committed in Africa but ignored those committed by Western powers including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan." On Friday, Gadhafi said that he would attack European "homes, offices, families" unless Nato stopped their attacks ...
By Sarah July 2, 2011 Category: African Union, Libya, NATO
Bahrain: National Dialogue Begins
On Saturday, dialogue between Bahrain's Sunni-led government and the majority Shia opposition began in an attempt to solve the increasing divide that began earlier this year as a result of the Shiite protests.  Bahrain's King Hamad Bin Issa Al Khalifa ordered the talks and said that "all options are on the table for the meeting." The meeting is also being attended by al-Wifaq, the main Shia opposition bloc.  The opposition ...
By Sarah July 2, 2011 Category: Bahrain, Diplomacy, Government
Moroccans Vote for Change
On Friday, Moroccans voted to approve the constitutional changes proposed by King Mohammed VI last month that promised to implement reform and political openness.  Reports show that the referendum was passed by 98.5 percent of the vote, though the final results could still take several days. Though the referendum was introduced ten days ago, U.S. State Department Spokesman, Mark Toner said, "we do welcome the  referendum as an important step in Morocco’s ...
By Sarah July 2, 2011 Category: Democracy Promotion, Elections, Morocco
Moroccan Model Potentially “Good for Autocrats”
Shadi Hamid argues that while Moroccan King Mohammed VI's proposed reforms provide an alternative model, without sustained pressure from opposition forces, the example will favor Arab dictators rather than democracy movements. The Moroccan model is not ...
By Shannon July 1, 2011 Category: Democracy Promotion, Morocco, Political transition, Reform
Bahrain: Wefaq Will Participate in National Dialogue
Opposition group Al-Wefaq decided today to participate in the National Dialogue, which begins tomorrow.  During a rally of thousands of supporters, Wefaq leader Sheik Ali Salman told the supporters: "we are heading to the talks, but we ...
By Shannon July 1, 2011 Category: Bahrain, Protests, Reform
Syria: Opposition Groups Coalesce, Sectarian Tensions Rise
The Guardian reports that the U.S. State Department has been "discreetly encouraging discussion" of an unpublished roadmap for reform, signed by secular leaders from a group called the National Action Committee and circulated at the Damascus opposition meeting on Monday. The plan would allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain in power, and oversee "a secure and peaceful transition to civil democracy." The New York Times describes the growing success of youth opposition groups called Local Coordination ...
By Shannon July 1, 2011 Category: Political transition, Protests, Reform, Syria
Syria: U.S. Continues Calls for Reform
Thousands of activists protested today, calling for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups report the killing of three more civilians in the north. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today that "the Syrian Government is ...
By Shannon July 1, 2011 Category: Democracy Promotion, Featured, Protests, Reform, Syria, United Nations, US foreign policy
Gulf States “Nervous” About Arab Spring
The New York Times describes the "tensions beneath the surface calm of U.A.E. political life," including the opening of a trial earlier this month of five activists. And The Economist writes about how the Arab Spring is making U.A.E. "nervous," citing the growing campaign against even mild dissent. While calls for reform were met with the official announcement of plans to expand the right to vote to all U.A.E. citizens,  the government shows no ...
By Shannon July 1, 2011 Category: Kuwait, Reform, Saudi Arabia, UAE
Ahmadinejad’s Crumbling Cabinet
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday in his first public reaction a week after the arrests of his closest allies.  Ahmadinejad denounced the arrests and asserted that they were "politically motivated and vowed to defend his government."   The arrests signify Ahmadinejad's recent political struggle with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In the past week, four senior government officials have been arrested, including ...
By Sarah June 30, 2011 Category: Elections, Iran
Fresh Protests in Bahrain
Thousands of opposition supporters gathered near Pearl Roundabout in the Bahraini capital today, and were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas and stun grenades. One activist tweeted: "We're unarmed, shouting slogans. They're all armed, shooting at us constantly. Waving to us to go closer to them." According to activist and president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), Nabeel Rajab, protesters called for the release of political prisoners and ...
By Shannon June 30, 2011 Category: Bahrain, Protests
Analysis: Egypt, the U.S. and the Muslim Brotherhood
Robert Satloff, executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, analyzed the confirmation today by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the U.S. was having "limited contact" with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Satloff commented that this is not new news, because U.S. officials have engaged with this group in the recent past, although on different terms. However, the trust of his comments were about what he felt was a ...
By Alex June 30, 2011 Category: Civil Society, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood
Controversy over Kucinich’s Visit to Syria
The Editorial Board for the Washington Post criticized Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) for meeting with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, hosting a press conference (where he was reportedly misquoted), and in essence lending Assad's regime legitimacy. ...
By Shannon June 30, 2011 Category: Diplomacy, Featured, Political transition, Syria, US foreign policy, US media
Analysis: Morocco’s Constitutional Referendum
Emma Hayward, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, discussed whether or not the new constitutional provisions introduced by King Mohamed VI would lead to real reform or stabilization in an article entitled, "Morocco's Constitutional Referendum: Context, Content, and Impact."  Hayward asserted that many of the new provisions are unclear including, the provision that does not specify whether the king or the ruling party will choose the prime minister following ...
By Sarah June 30, 2011 Category: Democracy Promotion, Elections, Morocco
U.S. Democracy Promotion Efforts, Tunisia Selected
The U.S. State Department has announced more details about Tunisia's selection as one of the inaugural winners for the Democracy Partnership Challenge. The Partnership's purpose is to help various country's consolidate their democratic institutions. The Tunisian application specifically requested support to "reform public administration, the security sector and the judiciary, support regional development, and promote the role of civil society to succeed in their transition to a democratic state." The ...
By Alex June 30, 2011 Category: Civil Society, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Tunisia, US foreign policy
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Bahrain Recruits Yemeni Soldiers
Al Wefaq Society National Gathering in Bahrain
Egypt: Trials of Sectarian Clashes Begin As Protests Continue
Renewed Violence in Syria
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