MENA Week in Review

Below is a roundup of some of the top articles and news highlights from around the MENA region over the last week

U.S. Policy:

  • Both the Senate and House Appropriation Committees marked up their versions of the Foreign Operations Appropriations bills this week. The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) drafted notes from both mark-up hearings (Senate, House) as well as in-depth analysis of the House bill. For analysis of the House and Senate’s treatment of aid to Egypt, please see our latest Security Assistant Monitor blog post.
  • Yemen President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi visited Washington this week, where he met with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry, and President Barack Obama. Issues discussed include U.S. security and counterterrorism cooperation with Yemen, U.S. support for Yemen’s ongoing national dialogue, and negotiations for the return of some Yemeni prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
  • While President Hadi was in Washington for bilateral talks with President Obama, the U.S. supposedly launched three separate drone strikes in Yemen, reportedly killing 13 Al Qaeda suspects.

Egypt

  • Almost 300 people have died in clashes since President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster on July 3, including over 80 pro-Morsi demonstrators killed on Saturday, July 27. While the Egyptian cabinet has authorized the Ministry of Interior to break up opposition sit-ins this week, pro-Muslim Brotherhood protestors appear resolved to stay.
  • Egypt’s government allowed top E.U. diplomat Katherine Ashton and an African Union delegation to meet with former President Morsi in an undisclosed location on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Morsi is now being held on charges of espionage and murder based on his escape from prison in 2011 during the Revolution.

Bahrain

  • Bahrain’s leadership announced and implemented anti-terrorism decrees this week. The move comes after several July bombings (including one that killed a police officer and another that exploded near the royal residences) and amid continuing protests from pro-democracy activists and youth.  Atlantic Council Fellow Richard Lebaron argues that the Bahraini government is the latest in the Middle East to label its political opposition “terrorists.”

Lebanon

  • After considerable political debate, General Jean Kahwagi’s term as head of Lebanon’s armed forces was extended two more years by caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn in what some, including Kahwagi, consider a questionably legal decree. Political divisions nearly created a power vacuum in the leadership of Lebanon’s armed forces.
  • President Sleiman expressed the need to control Hezbollah’s weapons, saying, “It is time that the government holds the basic powers and be the one to determine the use of force.”

North Africa:

  • Tunisia is facing its “worst political crisis” since the Arab Spring in 2011, according to Reuters, as protestors filled the streets following a number of deadly incidents in the past week, including the killing of eight soldiers on Monday and the assassination of an opposition politician on Thursday.
  • Opposition protestors blame the ruling Ennahda party for the instability in Tunisia and demand the replacement of the government and Constituent Assembly. Ennahda, meanwhile, has offered to form a new government but refuses to disband the Constituent Assembly, which is weeks away from completing Tunisia’s draft constitution.
  • Libya witnessed a massive prison break on Sunday, as well as the assassination of an anti-Islamist lawyer on Friday (7/26). Meanwhile, Libya’s oil minister warned that oil exports could drop 30 percent if oil ports in the country remain blocked, while Reuters discussed the negative impact of the tenuous security situation on foreign investment in Libya.

 

This post was co-written by Leslie Adkins and Daniel Resnick

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