NSN Middle East Update

November 23, 2011

Last night’s debaters gave the ongoing events in the Middle East short shrift. But major developments offer both testimony to citizens’ desire for freedom and dignity and the need for strong, unified diplomacy in service of U.S. interests and values. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a violent military crackdown on demonstrations in Egypt, new censure of Syria’s President Bashar Assad and a new report on violence in Bahrain. The Arab League, U.S. and other partners succeeded in passing a UN resolution calling for an end to violence in Syria. Regional player Turkey called for Assad to step down. In Egypt, the military government’s pledge to step down next summer failed to quell protests in Tahrir Square, which raged into a fifth day. In Bahrain, clashes between protestors and security forces preceded a report on last year’s violence. The report, written by the Bahrain Independent Commission, details torture and excessive force but tamps down claims about Iranian meddling. And in Yemen, longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to a plan negotiated by Gulf countries to step down from power.

Syria

At least 28 people died on Tuesday as violence continued to spread throughout Syria. The raids came as the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that “strongly condemns” the Syrian government and calls upon the Syrian authorities “to immediately put an end to all human rights violations, to protect their population and to fully comply with their obligations under international human rights law, and calls for an immediate end to all violence in the Syrian Arab Republic.” No Arab country voted against the resolution. China and Russia, which had previously vetoed a Security Council resolution, abstained.

News
Syrian Activists Raise Death Toll to 28 Killed as UN Condemns Human Rights Violations
Washington Post, 11/23/11

Syria Faces UN Condemnation
Foreign Policy, 11/22/11

Turkey Tells Syria’s Assad: Step down!
Reuters, 11/22/11

Analysis and Commentary
Do Not Attack Syria
Aaron David Miller, New York Times, 11/18/11

Time is Running Out for Bashar Assad
The Economist, 11/19/11

Egypt

Egypt’s military rulers agreed Tuesday to speed up the timetable for a transfer of power to a civilian government, with Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi addressing concerns directly in his first national speech since coming to power. But the concessions failed to meet protestors’ demands, and demonstrations continue in Tahrir Square. With parliamentary elections still scheduled for next week, the UN condemned violence there, as the ongoing unrest stretches into a fifth day. Thirty-eight people have been killed and at least 2,000 wounded. Since Mubarak’s departure, rising food prices, tumbling foreign reserves and a looming state budget crunch have called into question the interim government’s ability to run the economy.

News
Egyptian Police, Protesters Clash for 5th Day in Central Cairo as UN Condemns Violence
Associated Press, 11/23/11

Egypt’s Military Rulers Agree to Speed Up Handover of Power
Los Angeles Times, 11/22/11

Policy Paralysis in Egypt as Economic Crisis Mounts
Reuters, 11/23/11

Analysis and Commentary
Revolution 2.0
Steven Cook, Foreign Policy, 11/22/11

For Egyptians, a New Foe and a New Revolution
Thanassis Cambanis, The Atlantic, 11/21/11

Bahrain

A much-awaited independent report on the sectarian violence that engulfed Bahrain earlier this year found that authorities used torture and excessive force against detainees but uncovered no evidence of Iranian links to Bahrain’s Shiite-led protests. Meanwhile, security forces and protestors clashed again in Shiite towns.

News
Bahrain Security Forces Clash with Protesters
Voice of America, 11/23/11

Investigator: Excessive Force in Bahrain Crackdown
Associated Press, 11/23/11

Commentary and Analysis
Truth in Bahrain First, Followed by Reconciliation
The National, 11/23/11

Kuwait

News
Protesters Break Into Kuwaiti Parliament
CNN, 11/16/11

Kuwait Arrests Activists for Storming Parliament
AFP, 11/23/11

Yemen

Yemeni President Signs Deal To Transfer Power
Associated Press, 11/23/11

Yemen’s Saleh Signs Power Transfer Deal
Reuters, 11/23/11

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