Report

Egypt to Revise New Law, but Constitution “Needs More Time”

The Egyptian government has agreed to revise a controversial new law that would make reporting statistics on terrorism that differ from those issued by the government a punishable offense. Instead of imprisonment, publishers of non-state-sanctioned figures will be fined. The law, which was reported earlier this month, came under immediate scrutiny from rights groups who ...

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The Egyptian government has agreed to revise a controversial new law that would make reporting statistics on terrorism that differ from those issued by the government a punishable offense. Instead of imprisonment, publishers of non-state-sanctioned figures will be fined. The law, which was reported earlier this month, came under immediate scrutiny from rights groups who argued it would abridge Egyptians’ freedoms of speech and of the press, and many argue that the change doesn’t go far enough. Khaled al-Balchi of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate told Reuters that many journalists would be unable to pay the high fine in the revised law, creating “another type of imprisonment.” He also denounced the “totalitarian logic of the law, which aims to silence all opposition voices within the country.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi has faced growing criticism for his new counterterrorism laws. An executive decree issued earlier this week granted him the power to fire officials at independent state institutions. In a speech yesterday, Sisi dismissed concerns about the constitutionality of the new laws. “The Egyptian constitution was very ambitious and great but it needs more time to become effective,” he said.

Yemeni Government Delegation Return to Aden

Government officials representing Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s exiled government have reentered Yemen, flying into a military airbase in Aden. Earlier this week, Houthi forces holding the city’s airport were overrun, in what some see as a potential turning point. “Hadi delegated this group to return to Aden to work to prepare the security situation and ensure stability ahead of a revival of the institutions of state in Aden,” a government official told Reuters.

Headlines

  • Secretary of State John Kerry will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to advocate for the Iran nuclear agreement; members of the Obama Administration, including Vice President Joe Biden, have begun discussing the Iran nuclear agreement with members of Congress in private meetings.

 

  • Assad regime forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters, have begun advancing into the strategic city of Zabadani, northwest of Damascus; rebels are beginning an assault against two besieged towns in Idlib province.

 

  • A rocket launched from Gaza landed in an open space near the city of Ashkelon and the Israeli Air Force responded with a strike on a Hamas infrastructure site; one person was injured in the airstrike.

 

  • A Bahraini man was killed while trying to place a bomb intended to target police forces, according to the country’s foreign ministry.

 

  • Israeli commandos were responsible for the 2008 assassination of a Syrian brigadier general in Tartous, according to leaked U.S. National Security Agency documents.

Arguments and Analysis

Countering Islamic State Recruiting: You’re Doing It Totally Wrong” (Christina Nemr, War on the Rocks)

“Research has shown that when you’re trying to convince people, facts don’t matter. We seem to understand this in domestic politics, but not in CVE. Appealing to an individual’s value system is the most effective way to change opinions and spur people to action. This is because humans have evolved to push ‘threatening information’ away in favor of information that confirms their own beliefs. In this way, humans apply the same concept of ‘fight or flight’ to the intake of information. And there are neuroscientific explanations as to how this happens: When humans feel stress or feel threatened, the blood flow in the brain moves away from the neocortex, the site of higher-order thinking, and toward the limbic system, the more automatic and primitive site of our thinking. The movement of blood flow in this situation renders humans physically less capable of thinking in more nuanced and complex terms, and this has further consequences. Conflict is more likely to ensue when individuals process ideas only in black and white. So what does all this mean? Efforts to undertake mass counter-narrative initiatives don’t achieve their intended effect — and might even work against us.”

 

An Iran deal won’t stabilize the messy Middle East — but maybe Arab states can” (Tamara Cofman Wittes, Markaz)

“Iran and (more recently, as bombings in Qatif and Kuwait show) ISIS are the beneficiaries of these domestic divisions. No doubt Iran was looking for such opportunities, and was eager to exploit them. But instead of continuing to leave their doors unlocked, the Arab governments still standing in this chaotic region can do two things right now to try and turn the tide — and in the process, enhance the prospects for more active American engagement in the region down the line. First, they need to move urgently to push the Arab world’s civil wars toward resolution. The fractious parties in Yemen, Syria, and Libya are not easy to work with; but Arab leaders can ensure that their engagement supports diplomacy and negotiated peace, rather than exacerbating divisions among factions and prolonging the fighting. Reportedly, this was one agreed-upon agenda item at Camp David — but the follow up has been slow.”

-J. Dana Stuster

KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images

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