Report

Egypt Frees Australian Al Jazeera Journalist Peter Greste

Egypt released and deported on Sunday Australian Peter Greste, one of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned for over a year.

Family Of Peter Greste Addresses Media
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 02: Andrew Greste, brother of Peter Greste, poses for a photograph after speaking to media representatives at the ABC studios on February 2, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia. Al Jazeera Journalist Peter Greste was released yesterday after spending 400 days in an Egyptian prison. Greste was sentenced to 7 years in prison after a widely criticized trial convicting him of aiding terrorist organizations and creating false news that damaged Egypt's international reputation. (Photo by Glenn Hunt/Getty Images)

Egypt released and deported on Sunday Australian Peter Greste, one of three Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned for over a year. Greste, Mohamed Fahmy, and Baher Mohamed were arrested in December 2013 and sentenced to seven to 10 years on charges including spreading false news and aiding a “terrorist group,” in reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Fahmy and Mohamed, as well as at least nine other journalists, remain in prison in Egypt. However, Fahmy, who holds dual Egyptian and Canadian citizenship, is expected to be released and deported within days. Meanwhile, an Egyptian court Monday sentenced 183 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death over the killings of at least 11 police officers in the town of Kardasa in August 2013.

Syria

A bomb blast on a bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims killed at least six people and wounded an estimated 20 others in Damascus Sunday, in a rare attack in the center of the Syrian capital. Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the blast, which it called a suicide attack, however Syrian state television reported two bombs were planted on the bus, though one failed to detonate.

Headlines

  • Jordan has continued working to secure proof that pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, held by Islamic State militants, is alive following the apparent killing of a second Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto.
  • Bahrain has revoked citizenship from 72 people meanwhile a new Bahrain-based news channel stopped broadcasting following an interview with a member of the opposition al-Wefaq party.
  • Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party has agreed to join rival secular Nidaa Tounes in the formation of a coalition government.
  • Houthis in Yemen issued a statement Sunday giving political factions three days to resolve a political crisis following the resignation of President Hadi and Prime Minister Bahah’s government.
  • Libya’s representative to OPEC, Samir Salem Kamal, has been released after being abducted on Jan. 15 in Tripoli.

Arguments and Analysis

How Americans really feel about Netanyahu and why it matters’ (Shibley Telhami, The Washington Post)

“On the surface, Americans seem to view Israel’s prime minister just like they view other Western leaders, more favorably than unfavorably. But probing deeper, my survey reveals that Americans are much more divided about him, particularly across party lines, while younger Americans view him more unfavorably. These divides, coupled with significant and expanding party divides about policy toward Israel, mean that Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress could force congressional Democrats to become more responsive to their grass roots constituents who are far more critical of Israeli policies – just as potential presidential candidates will be gearing up for primaries.”

Can Kurds Save Turkish Democracy?’ (Gonul Tol, Middle East Institute)

“Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has taken an authoritarian turn after more than a decade of reform-minded policies. In an effort to stifle corruption investigations and root out members of its ally-turned-enemy, the Gulen movement, which the government is accusing of running a parallel state that seeks to stage a coup, the AKP has taken far-reaching steps to tighten its control over the judiciary, control the media and Internet, and clamp down on critics and protesters. Parliamentary elections to be held in June hold the key to the country’s future. If the AKP garners enough votes to change the constitution unilaterally and transform Turkey into a presidential system under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s domestic human rights record is likely to worsen and its democratic deficit likely to increase.

The AKP now holds 58 percent of the parliament’s seats. Public opinion polls suggest that the AKP is headed for another electoral victory, but judging by the results of the August 2014 presidential elections, it seems unlikely that the AKP will substantially increase its votes in 2015. In that case, the party has to garner the support of other parties to secure the two-thirds majority it needs to push through the constitutional amendment.

This makes the Kurds the kingmaker in Erdogan’s drive to introduce an executive presidency.”

Mary Casey-Baker

Glenn Hunt/Getty Images

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