AI report: Human rights violations in Egypt
The Iranian foreign minister and Syrian regime change, the trip Petraeus never took, What Americans really think about foreign policy and more.
Amnesty International releases its report this morning on "a litany" of human rights violations by the Egyptian government, military, and police. In "Brutality Unpunished and Unchecked," AI documents violations across three events: the Maspero protest in October 2011, the so-called Cabinet Offices events in late 2011, and the Abasseya sit-in this past spring. In one, a woman protester was dragged along the ground by her hair, and another's abaya was pulled up to expose her underwear, resulting in a viral video.
Amnesty International releases its report this morning on "a litany" of human rights violations by the Egyptian government, military, and police. In "Brutality Unpunished and Unchecked," AI documents violations across three events: the Maspero protest in October 2011, the so-called Cabinet Offices events in late 2011, and the Abasseya sit-in this past spring. In one, a woman protester was dragged along the ground by her hair, and another’s abaya was pulled up to expose her underwear, resulting in a viral video.
During the incident this spring, one Egyptian told AI investigators: "I saw ‘thugs’ trying to attack three protesters. I ran to help them and we threw stones and the thugs started to retreat. Then I realized I had been hit. I was hit in the stomach from a high angle. [The bullet] got a bit of my intestines and broke my pelvis. I was hit from above from the surrounding buildings."
The report concludes that the army used excessive force in the three incidents it studied, and it shows Egypt’s security forces tortured male and female protesters, using beatings, electric shocks, and sexual threats and abuse. But impunity may be the study’s worst finding. "In short, the state’s response to the three episodes of violence has left all the victims of human rights violations by military forces still waiting for an effective remedy," the report concludes. http://bit.ly/3npMGC
Welcome to Tuesday’s edition of FP’s Situation Report where we count the days to the first foreign policy debate (21), the election (36), and also the Army 10-miler (a scary 20 days away). Follow me @glubold or hit me anytime at email@example.com. Sign up for Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/NCN9uN or just send me an e-mail and we’ll put you on the list.
CFR hosted Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi for an event at which he spoke last night about an Iran with a nuclear bomb, the progress of nuclear talks, regime change in Syria, and the possibility that country could use chemical weapons. Salehi, on whether Iran with a nuclear bomb would mean regional stability: "No, no…had Iran chosen to go nuclear in the sense of weaponization…it would attract more threats and invite more threats from the other side." He said no "rational" country — including Iran — would think to challenge the U.S.
Salehi, on Syrian regime change: "We wish [the Syrian government] had taken a better position…in the outbreak of the uprising. There were some mistakes committed, but this does not justify in any way interference from outside. We are not in a position…we never think, ever, to tell the president of a country, ‘please step down.’"
Salehi, on the use of WMDs: If Syria, or any country, including Iran, used weapons of mass destruction, "that is the end of the validity, eligibility, legality of that government…it is something that is not at all acceptable."
Jerusalem Post coverage: http://bit.ly/Wb1tAJ
Petraeus tried to warn Assad about what foreign fighters in Iraq could do if they turned on the Syrian regime. It didn’t work. Bush 43, in 2008, told him and McChrystal to "stay patient" and they never made the trip to Damascus. "Today, al Qaeda in Iraq has trained its sights on Assad, just as the intelligence reports predicted, becoming a small but deadly part of the resistance in an escalating civil war that has killed more than 20,000 people over the past year and a half," write Michael Gordon and Wesley Morgan on FP. http://bit.ly/QHGi8G
Mr. President, you’re making a terrible mistake. Sen. Susan Collins thinks Obama’s expected executive order on cyber-security will be bad policy because it won’t grant the liability protections needed in order to encourage more of the private sector to participate. "So the executive order simply cannot accomplish what legislation can," she told Killer Apps’ John Reed. Collins, of course, was on the losing end of the Cyber Security Act of 2012, legislation that sank. But she fears Obama’s solution will "lull people into a false sense of security" that the cyber-security threat is all taken care of. http://bit.ly/OSwCE7
Is Panetta’s fear of "digital Pearl Harbor" for real? Maybe, maybe not. But consider this: a cyber weapon that took down an electric grid even for several days might amount to nothing more than a "weapon of mass inconvenience." Douglas Birch argues on FP that what’s important about some large-scale blackouts in the last year, including the derecho that took out power to millions of peoples’ homes, is what didn’t happen: "Planes didn’t fall out of the sky. Governments didn’t collapse. Thousands of people weren’t killed. Despite disruption and delay, harried public officials, emergency workers and beleaguered publics mostly muddled through." But, he also argues, it doesn’t mean the U.S. can relax. http://bit.ly/RwEL53
We think Foreign Policy Initiative’s poll, released last week, had interesting things to say and since it was a bit overlooked, we’re looking at it now. Contrary to what many think, and to many other polls — foreign policy is a top topic to many. "The conventional wisdom which seems to be that foreign policy doesn’t matter, is wrong," Robert Zarate, policy director at the Foreign Policy Initiative, the hawkish but nonpartisan policy group, told Situation Report. "Our survey doesn’t make the claim that foreign policy is a single issue, but rather that it simply matters, that a majority of the Americans are starting to factor in national security into their decision-making." A few findings, not all intuitive:
Slightly more than 45 percent of respondents believe that Iran poses the "most danger" to the U.S. and 62 percent favor preventing Iran from getting nukes, even if that means using military force.
About 60 percent of respondents say recent events in the Middle East have made national security issues more important in their deliberations on who to vote for. Nearly everyone, 97 percent, said that being prepared to be commander-in-chief is the single most important qualification, a very important qualification, or a somewhat important qualification to be president.
Sixty-six percent of Americans, based on the poll, support intervention in Syria. Support for a more "active policy" towards the Assad regime "held across party lines" with 63 percent of typically Democratic voters and 70 percent of typically Republican voters supporting intervention. Even among those who said recent events in the Middle East make national security issues less important in the election, 75 percent said the U.S. and international community should impose no-fly zones over Syria.
A plurality of Americans, 48 percent, believe the U.S. should maintain a troop presence in Afghanistan to make sure it doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists, and 43 percent of respondents support withdrawal.
Liberals are more likely to see China and Russia favorably. "Self-identified liberals tended to view China favorably (48.6 percent) rather than unfavorably (35.1 percent) even despite the Communist country’s often illiberal domestic policies, including opposition to free speech, aggressive Internet censorship, actual or de facto state-control of many economic sectors, and disregard for human rights," the survey’s authors wrote.
Who would vote for whom? Of the survey’s 1,000 respondents, 48 percent would lean toward or vote for Obama, 44 percent would vote for or lean toward Romney, and 8.2 percent are undecided.
Eleven Years and Counting
- Guardian: NATO’s Rasmussen says withdrawal plans may be accelerated. http://bit.ly/QwZ13x
- Der Spiegel: A classified report by the German intelligence agency says things are not all that rosy in Afghanistan. http://bit.ly/SgY4ld
- NYT: U.S. abandoning hopes of "battering the Taliban" into a peace deal. http://nyti.ms/VnnYCS
- GlobalPost: Twilight for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. http://bit.ly/Rx6Qt0
- Daiji World: U.S., India discuss visa problems, cooperation in Afghanistan. http://bit.ly/Sw3sz9
- Reuters: Assad tours Aleppo and orders more troops into battle. http://bit.ly/SkmnyP
- Haaretz: Syrian media rap Hamas for abandoning Assad. http://bit.ly/Rx432T
- Daily Beast: Scorched earth policy in Syria. http://bit.ly/Pqvc3x
- DP News: Syrian opposition unwilling to talk to regime. http://bit.ly/SkniPU
- Reuters: Russia warns NATO to stay away from Syria. http://bit.ly/VnQDb4
- BBC: Maldives Parliamentarian stabbed to death outside his home. http://bbc.in/O27Mp8
- Sudan Tribune: SRF rebels welcome deals, reaffirm commitment to topple Bashir. http://bit.ly/OAVvcV
- Xinhua: Chinese surveillance ships patrol island waters. http://bit.ly/PK6xZ7
- AFP: State Department rejects calls for a Rice resignation. http://bit.ly/PImhfn
- WaPo (blog): Stewart satirizes Obama’s comments on Libya. http://wapo.st/QmMqBj
Your Opinion Counts
- Examiner: Obama will lose the debate on Afghanistan. http://exm.nr/PIx8G4
- NYT Op-Ed: How Karzai could make himself a hero. http://nyti.ms/RxclYx
- National Review: The downside of Obama’s foreign policy. http://bit.ly/Vn6UNv
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children. Twitter: @glubold
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