Upheaval in the Arab World: News Update
Press Conference by the President
In a White House press conference, President Obama spoke of the evolving situation in Egypt and the most recent protests in Iran – among other topics. He defended the administration’s response to the Egyptian uprising and strongly criticized the Iranian government’s use of violence on its own people.
Remarks by the High Representative/ Vice President Catherine Ashton at the end of her visit to Tunisia, 14 February 2011
Catherine Ashton again affirmed the EU’s commitment to financial support for Tunisian democracy- building, describing productive meetings with Tunisian leaders.
“EU’s Ashton targets Palestinian state by September” – Steve Weizman, AFP
EU High Representative Ashton met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Israel, and with Palestinian leaders, including President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in the West Bank, and urged the resumption of peace talks.
Al Jazeera interview of Secretary Clinton
Secretary Clinton took questions on the evolving political situation and the U.S. response to events in Egypt from an Al Jazeera reporter.
Middle East Fallout
“Egypt’s Constitutional Ghosts” – Nathan J. Brown, Foreign Affairs
Brown offers a brief history of Egypt’s constitution and how it figures into current considerations of democratic reform.
“EU may freeze assets of Mubarak henchmen” – France 24
EU finance ministers met on Tuesday to decide whether or not to acquiesce to Egypt’s request that the assets of the Mubarak family and his associates be frozen. The meeting offered a chance for ministers to discuss other financial issues relating to the recent unrest across the Middle East.
“Iran protests: Why the Green Movement won’t quit” – Omid Memarian, The Daily Beast
The author describes police brutality and the difficulty of international reporting on the most recent Iranian protests, a resurgence of the 2009 post-election Green Movement. The protests revealed the Iranian regime miscalculated in assuming its violent crackdown in 2009 would forever silence dissent.
“Ahmadinejad wanted direct talks with U.S.: ElBaradei” – Reuters
During Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei’s tenure as IAEA head, he acted as a go-between for the U.S. and Iran at a time when the countries were positioned to reopen communications. ElBaradei claims in a new memoir that Ahmadinejad was ready to talk to Obama without preconditions.
“BAHRAIN: Another killed as funeral for fallen protester devolves into clashes” – Meris Lutz, The Los Angeles Times
Bahraini authorities inflicted a second fatality as they suppressed protests against the regime. Bahrain’s king, a close ally of the U.S., announced he would embark on new reforms.
“Tunisia lifts curfew, extends state of emergency” – Ynet News
Tunisia’s curfew, instituted at the beginning of protests that resulted in the ouster of the former President, will be lifted. Its longstanding emergency law, however, will remain in effect for now.
“Tunisians vote with their feet, flee country” – The Straits Times
With the country’s economic future uncertain, more than 5,000 Tunisians have fled to Italian shores. Europe must decide how to handle the influx of immigrants, which is overwhelming detention centers.
“Jordan to ease restrictions on public assembly” – Al Arabiya News
Jordan’s new interior minister is revising Jordan’s law on public assembly so that Jordanians will be able to protest without prior permission from the government. The concession comes as part of an effort by the Jordanian government to acquiesce to protesters’ demands for reform.
U.S. Foreign Policy
“Obama and Egypt” – Scott Horton, Harper’s Magazine
Horton says the media exaggerated differences between Obama and Clinton as Washington reacted to the Egyptian uprising. He asserts that U.S. actions in the final days of Mubarak’s tenure will not be as important as how Obama handles the challenging political transition ahead.
“Mubarak’s Fall Spurs Calls to Rethink U.S. Policy” – NPR News
America has an opportunity to redefine Middle East policy paradigms in the wake of regional upheavals, and must navigate continuing concerns over stability and its relationship with Israel.
“The GOP loves freedom, but not for Egypt” – Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post
Columnist Eugene Robinson criticizes prominent Republicans, arguing they failed to follow through on Bush Administration principles on Arab democracy promotion.
Israeli Foreign Policy/Peace Process
“Israel fears Hezbollah behind terror threats on its embassies” – Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service, Haaretz
Israel has closed several of its embassies around the world due to terror threats thought to be from Hezbollah in revenge for the murder of Imad Mughniyah.
“Israel FM: EU Must Confront Iran before Peace Process” – Voice of America News
Foreign Minister Lieberman said in a meeting with EU High Representative Ashton that the EU must confront and settle issues with Iran over its alleged nuclear program before Israel can move forward with the peace process.