Report

Journalist Mohamed Fahmy Renounces Egyptian Citizenship in Bid for Release

Mohamed Fahmy, one of two Al Jazeera journalists still imprisoned in Egypt, is expected to be released after renouncing his Egyptian citizenship.

EGYPT-TRIAL-MEDIA-JAZEERA-AUSTRALIA-CANADA
Qatar-owned broadcaster's English channel Al-Jazeera Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy (L) is given a microphone after being allowed to leave the defendant cage to speak to Egyptian judge Mohamed Nagy Shehata (unseen) during the trial of 20 individuals, including five Al-Jazeera journalists, for allegedly defaming the country and ties to the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood on May 3, 2014 in the police institute near Cairo's Turah prison. Peter Greste, an Australian journalist with satellite news channel Al-Jazeera on trial described his ordeal as a "massive injustice", after spending more than four months in jail. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED (Photo credit should read MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images)

Mohamed Fahmy, one of two Al Jazeera journalists still imprisoned in Egypt, is expected to be released after renouncing his Egyptian citizenship. Fahmy additionally holds Canadian citizenship. Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said Fahmy’s release is “imminent” and Al Jazeera English said he could be freed within hours. Fahmy was arrested in December 2013 along with two other Al Jazeera journalists, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, and later charged with spreading false news and aiding a “terrorist group,” in reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Greste, an Australian, was released and deported on Sunday. In November, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree allowing foreigners accused of crimes in Egypt to be deported to their home countries to be tried or serve their sentences. The status of Mohamed, who holds solely Egyptian citizenship, is unclear.

Syria-Iraq

U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking more funding to deal with insecurity in the Middle East. The proposed budget includes $5.3 billion to support operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq and train and equip Syrian opposition fighters. Jordan is facing increased calls to withdraw from the U.S.-led coalition as the kingdom works to secure the release of pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, held by Islamic State militants. Kurdish forces, backed by coalition airstrikes, are pushing Islamic State fighters out of the rural areas around the Syrian town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab). Meanwhile, Iraq’s Cabinet approved a draft law to create a national guard, a primary demand of Sunni politicians in efforts to fight Islamic State militants.

Headlines

  • The head of a U.N. investigation into alleged war crimes in the 2014 Gaza conflict resigned Monday over accusations of bias and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called for abandoning the commission.
  • Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament has revoked a law that banned Qaddafi-era officials from participating in politics meanwhile the United Nations said talks between rival factions will begin in Libya within days.
  • Two bombs exploded on Tuesday in the Egyptian cities of Cairo and Alexandria after Egyptian police disarmed two bombs at Cairo International Airport overnight.
  • Jordan announced its ambassador to Israel would return to Tel Aviv, after his recall in November, citing improvements in access to Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque.

Arguments and Analysis

The Houthis and the risks of internationalizing the Yemeni crisis’ (Madeleine Wells, The Conversation)

“The Houthis have been often misleadingly described as “Iranian-proxies.” This label is dangerous. It distracts us from focusing on what is really important. We need to understand a group like the Houthis on their own terms – as an independent movement – if the US is to interact with them effectively and continue a relationship with the Yemeni government.

The Houthis may be a xenophobic Shiite militant group, but they are also locally-based, internally divided, and politically pragmatic.”

Fortress Jordan: Putting the Money to Work’ (Sultan Barakat and Andrew Leber, Brookings Doha Center)

“merely buttressing Jordan with ever greater amounts of cash will not secure its long-term stability, and that the Kingdom’s direct participation in the anti-IS coalition undermines its ability to provide security in a fractured and uncertain region. If Jordan and its allies want stability and security, they should improve their development efforts qualitatively as well as quantitatively. In particular, they should work to strengthen the Kingdom’s resilience through the development of a strong, inclusive economy that takes advantage of the influx of willing labor and the widespread destruction of industrial and commercial capacity in Syria and Iraq.”

China and the Iranian Nuclear Negotiations’ (Tong Zhao, Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy)

“But China’s interests in a stable Iran and a peaceful Middle East extend far beyond securing oil supplies and ensuring sanctions relief. Beijing is actively pursuing the so-called One Belt, One Road initiative—including both the twenty-first-century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt—which is intended to become a driving force for China’s continued economic growth into the next decade and even further into the future. This plan is partially connected to the Grand Western Development Program under former Chinese president Jiang Zemin that sought to sustain China’s economic growth by opening up and investing in the western part of the country. As envisioned by President Xi Jinping, One Belt, One Road will create a promising economic corridor stretching across the Eurasian continent.”

Mary Casey-Baker

MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images

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