The Middle East Channel
Court dissolves Egypt’s Parliament
A panel of judges, which had been appointed by Hosni Mubarak to Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, has dissolved Parliament and permitted Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, to run for president. The court’s rulings intensify a power struggle between vestiges of the elite class and Islamists who denounced the decisions as a coup. They also ...
A panel of judges, which had been appointed by Hosni Mubarak to Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, has dissolved Parliament and permitted Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, to run for president. The court’s rulings intensify a power struggle between vestiges of the elite class and Islamists who denounced the decisions as a coup. They also give more legislative power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces who will now oversee the writing of a new constitution. The court’s move comes two days before the second round of Presidential elections, in which Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, is slated to face Shafik. The Islamist-dominated Parliament has "refused to dissolve the legislature and vowed to win the Presidency." In its decision, the court claimed that one third of Parliament had been elected illegally. If the court’s ruling is upheld, the winner of the presidential race will be in power without a sitting Parliament or a permanent constitution. The new president would also able to substantially influence elections and could decide to dissolve the constitutional assembly. In an online statement, the Brotherhood said the court’s rulings "confirms that the former regime hasn’t surrendered yet and won’t give up easily" and Egypt might see "very difficult days that might be more dangerous than the last days of Mubarak’s rule." The court’s decision is seen by many leftists and Islamists as exemplifying the deep entrenchment of Mubarak’s power network.
As the Syrian uprising enters its 16th month, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights found nine bodies in Hamouria in Damascus province, some of which had been mutilated. Heavy shelling was reported in Homs, Andan, and Aleppo, according to the opposition group Local Coordination Committees of Syria. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing the Syrian government of perpetrating sexual violence against detainees as a means of torture, in addition to sexually abusing women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps. Activists have called for protests throughout the nation as Major General Robert Mood, the head of the U.N. observers in Syria, has warned that escalating violence, which he attributes to both sides of the conflict, hinders the monitoring mission. Mood added that there is a "lack of willingness" from both sides to see a peaceful transition. The Syrian government warned of potential suicide bombs at mosques in Damascus after the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported the arrest of Mohammad Houssam al-Sadaki who reportedly confessed a plan to blow himself up inside a mosque in central Damascus. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department backtracked from comments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which she claimed Russia was providing Syria with attack helicopters. The state department admitted that the helicopters were in fact already owned by Damascus.
- Yemen’s army has reclaimed the southern Abyan province, al Qaeda’s last stronghold in the country.
- After police and protesters clashed earlier this week, Tunisia has banned protests planned for Friday.
Arguments & Analysis
‘The P5+1, Iran and the Perils of Nuclear Brinkmanship‘ (International Crisis Group)
"The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West have had their share of dashed expectations, but even by this peculiar standard, the recent diplomatic roller coaster stands out. Brimming with hope in Istanbul, negotiators crashed to earth in Baghdad, a few weeks later. That was not unexpected, given inflated hopes, mismatched expectations and – most hurtful – conviction on both sides that they had the upper hand. But if negotiations collapse now, it is hard to know what comes next. Washington and Brussels seem to count on sanctions taking their toll and forcing Iran to compromise. Tehran appears to bank on a re-elected President Obama displaying more flexibility and an economically incapacitated Europe baulking at sanctions that could boomerang. Neither is likely; instead, with prospects for a deal fading, Israeli pressure for a military option may intensify. Rather than more brinkmanship, Iran and the P5+1 (UN Security Council permanent members and Germany) should agree on intensive, continuous, technical-level negotiations to achieve a limited agreement on Iran’s 20 per cent enrichment."
‘Libya’s missteps threaten descent into federalism‘ (Jason Pack and Ronald Bruce St John, Al Jazeera English)
"But when Libyans do finally go to the polls, they should not conflate their frustration with the National Transitional Council or the Electoral Commission with a perceived need to bifurcate their country into semi-autonomous provinces, or even worse, boycott the electoral process – as some supporters of regional autonomy have threatened to do. Dangerously, the logical leap between upset with the current central government and calls for weakening the institutions of central governance is becoming one of the defining features in Libya’s post-Gaddafi political discourse. In today’s Libya, local is king. In late February, Misrata, the country’s third-largest city, held elections for its city council. This council frequently contests the authority of the NTC inside Misrata. In early March, notables in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and capital of the eastern region of Cyrenaica, announced plans to establish an autonomous Cyrenaican government. In mid-May, Benghazi held its own local elections and some strongly anti-NTC candidates did very well."
‘Bahrain Compounds the Injustice’ (The New York Times)
"Bahrain had a chance to correct a grave injustice and set the country on a better path by dismissing specious cases against 20 Shiite doctors convicted last year after they treated protesters injured during the popular uprising against the Sunni-led monarchy. Instead, the High Criminal Court of Appeal on Thursday upheld the convictions of nine of them and imposed sentences of up to five years in jail. And 15-year sentences against two other doctors, who have fled the country, were upheld… The administration must do a lot more to persuade Bahrain of the need for reforms that give Shiites full political rights and all citizens a voice in their country’s future. That is the only way for Bahrain to find real security and lasting stability. That is the only way for the United States to ensure its welcome."
–By Jennifer Parker