Yemen Peace Talks Collapse after Airstrikes
The resumption of U.N.-backed peace talks in Kuwait to resolve the Yemeni civil war has been been postponed indefinitely after the Houthi delegation withdrew on Sunday. The Houthis said the move was a response to a series of Saudi airstrikes in Nehm province that killed seven people; if confirmed, the strikes would be the deadliest ...
The resumption of U.N.-backed peace talks in Kuwait to resolve the Yemeni civil war has been been postponed indefinitely after the Houthi delegation withdrew on Sunday. The Houthis said the move was a response to a series of Saudi airstrikes in Nehm province that killed seven people; if confirmed, the strikes would be the deadliest attacks since the start of a tenuous ceasefire two weeks ago. The Yemeni government delegation defended the strikes, saying they targeted Houthi forces that were massing in violation of the ceasefire.
In Aden, where the ousted government has established a secondary capital, security forces are reportedly evicting hundreds of residents identified as security threats and sending them north. Yemeni officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that they believe the evictions are being carried out by secessionists who want independence for the south. President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi condemned the reported actions, telling state media Saba News, “The individual acts of expelling citizens of Taez and other cities (from Aden) is unacceptable.”
Journalists Receive Severe Sentences in Turkey, Egypt
A Turkish court sentenced two editors of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet on Friday to five years in prison on charges of espionage and releasing state secrets for reporting on Turkish arms transfers to Syrian rebels; one of the men was attacked by a gunman as he entered the courthouse but was unharmed, though a bystanding journalist was wounded. On Saturday, an Egyptian court handed down death sentences against three journalists, including a reporter who is accused of working for a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated outlet and two Al-Jazeera journalists who were tried in absentia.
- Lebanon voted in municipal elections on Sunday for the first time since 2010; despite a rise in grassroots candidates in response to the Beirut trash crisis, established political groups are feeling confident about the results with Hezbollah claiming victory in the Bekaa Valley and Saad Hariri’s Future Movement winning in Beirut.
- On Sunday, two gunmen attacked a Saudi police station and were chased back to a hideout where a Saudi soldier was killed in the ensuing firefight; the incident is the third clash between Saudi authorities and suspected Islamic State militants in less than a week.
- The Iranian military announced that it conducted a test of a missile with a 1,240-mile range two weeks ago; it is the most recent of several recent missile tests that the United States and Europe have said violate a U.N. resolution barring Iran from developing missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and that led the United States to impose new sanctions against Iran.
- Gunmen killed eight plainclothes police officers in a drive-by shooting in Helwan, an industrial neighborhood in Cairo, on Sunday; the Islamic State has claimed credit for the attack.
- Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree reshuffling the country’s cabinet, including replacing Ali al-Naimi, who has been oil minister since 1995, with Khalid al-Falih, chairman of Saudi Aramco.
Arguments and Analysis
“The Battle over Arab Public Space and Ideas” (Rami Khoury, Cairo Review)
“It is not a good sign when a government says it promotes democracy yet sends its police to intimidate and arrest journalists and prevent peaceful public demonstrations. In this vein, the Egyptian government’s storming of the Egyptian Press Syndicate’s offices on May 1 is only the latest and most dramatic move by Arab governments to use a variety of means at their disposal to control what citizens have access to in their media. This is not a new trend, as Arab governments have tried for sixty years — since the Egyptian invention of the Ministry of Information in the 1950s — to shape the minds and actions of citizens, so that they conform to what the government believes is appropriate behavior. The danger today is that many Arab governments, very much led by the Egyptian example, simultaneously seek to limit the content of the traditional media while also clamping down on free expression through free-wheeling social media or civil society activism.”
“US struggles to convince Iraqis it doesn’t support IS” (Sinan Salaheddin and Susannah George, Associated Press)
“But if there is a media war underway, the U.S. appears to be losing it. In December 2014, 38 percent of Iraqis had a favorable view of the U.S., but by August 2015 that had dropped to just 18 percent, according to the State Department’s unscientific survey. A group of Iraqi men smoking cigarettes and sipping tea outside a Baghdad shop selling books and newspapers said their skepticism extends beyond U.S. officials. They say Iraqis are well aware that most media outlets are run by political parties furthering their own agendas. ‘Iraqi media isn’t professional, it’s all just ideology,’ Abu Muhammed said, asking that his full name not be used for fear of reprisals. But he said the accusations of U.S. support for IS are hard to ignore because of America’s confusing tangle of regional alliances.”
-J. Dana Stuster
YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images