NSN Middle East Update

January 23, 2012

This week opens with Egypt’s new parliament convening for the first time and Yemen’s President Saleh departing for the second time, ahead of presidential elections scheduled for next month.  Libya begins to face the practical challenges of a transition to democracy, and the Arab League struggles with its role and inability to stem violence in Syria.  Each of those developments was unthinkable a year ago – and each is a reminder that, like transitions in Eastern Europe, Latin America and East Asia before them, the path out of autocracy is neither direct nor irreversible.

Egypt

Egypt’s newly elected parliament convened for the first time since the downfall of Hosni Mubarak. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party command 47 percent of the lower house, while Salafist groups gained 25 percent of the seats. Mubarak’s defense attorney argued that his client is still the president of Egypt and that his trial in criminal court violates the nation’s suspended constitution—legal experts said that claim is unlikely to work.


News

Egypt’s First Post-Mubarak Parliament Convenes With Islamists Dominating

Bloomberg, 1/23/12

As Egypt’s New Parliament Convenes, Eyes on Ultraconservative Salafis

Christian Science Monitor, 1/22/12

Mubarak’s Attorney Says His Client is Still President

Washington Post, 1/22/12

Commentary and Analysis

Analysis: Egypt Parties Edge Toward Economic Policy Consensus

Andrew Torchia and Tamim Elyan, Reuters, 1/18/12

After Tahrir, Finishing the Revolution

Robin Wright, Wall Street Journal, 1/21/12


Yemen

Yemeni President  Ali Abdullah Saleh left his country to receive medical treatment in the United States for burns and other injuries he received in an attack in June. Saleh had a stopover in Oman and is expected to arrive in the U.S. on Wednesday. In making its decision to allow Saleh’s trip, the Obama administration cited the advantages of Saleh leaving his country before the presidential election scheduled for February 21. Saleh said he will return to Yemen when his treatment was finished, though he has agreed to leave office. Meanwhile this weekend, Parliament passed a law granting him and subordinates immunity from charges of politically motivated crimes.

 

News

Yemen Leader Leaves for Medical Care in New York

New York Times, 1/22/12

Yemen: VP Confirms Saleh Left For U.S.

Eurasia Review, 1/23/12

Yemen Legislators Approve Immunity for the President

New York Times, 1/21/12

Commentary and Analysis

The Shah’s Ghost…

Mark Thompson, TIME, 1/23/12

 

Syria

As the struggle between the Assad regime and protesters continues the United States is reportedly considering withdrawing embassy personnel for security reasons. Meanwhile, the Syrian government rejected a transition plan proposed by the Arab League.


News

Syria Rejects Arab League Call for Power Transfer

CNN, 1/23/12

            U.S. May Close Embassy in Damascus, Syria

New York Times, 1/20/12


Commentary and Analysis

Gareth Evans on Syria Peace Plan

Gareth Evans via ABC News, 1/23/12

Should Embassy Damascus be Closed?

Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy, 1/21/12

Syrian Dissidents Start to Call Cairo Home

Nate Wright, Foreign Policy, 1/20/12

No Military Option in Syria

Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy, 1/17/12

 

Libya

Protests erupted in Libya following the release of a draft election law, which protesters thought did not have enough public input. Following those demonstrations, the government’s number-two official, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, resigned. Libya and the international war crimes court continue to disagree over where the trial of Saif al-Islam, son of Muammar Qaddafi, should take place. International inspectors have also confirmed Qaddafi had an undeclared stockpile of chemical weapons.

 

News

Libya Protests Spur Shake-Up in Interim Government

New York Times, 1/22/12

International Inspectors Confirm Libya Had Undeclared Chemical Weapons Stockpiles

Associated Press, 1/20/12

No Decision Yet on Gaddafi Son’s Trial: Int’l Criminal

Reuters, 1/23/12

 

Commentary and Analysis

Analyst: Libyan Oil Recovery Has Limits

UPI, 1/23/12


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