BACKGROUND BRIEFING: U.S. Official On Syria

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

 BACKGROUND BRIEFING

May 9, 2016

U.S. Official On Syria

May 9, 2016

Via Teleconference

MODERATOR:  Good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining us on such short notice.  We don’t have a lot of time today, so I’m going to get straight to the point.  Today we will have a background briefing and an update on Syria by [U.S. Official].  He is also engaged on the ceasefire task force and various aspects of the cessation of hostilities.  From here on out he will be known as a U.S. official.  That’s a U.S. official.  I want to reiterate that this call is on background.

With that, I’ll turn it over to our U.S. official.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Hi, everyone.  Nice talking to you.  You have the statement in front of you so I’m not going to speak for long, but I would just highlight some main points.  First is that the statement with Russia affirms our shared understanding of efforts to revitalize the nationwide cessation of hostilities in Syria, and that’s opposed to reverting to local ceasefires.  It also explains our commitment to making particularly intensive efforts in specific hot spot areas of Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, and Latakia.  It has a clear demand which Russia joins on parties to cease any indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including civilian infrastructure and medical facilities.  It has a commitment for undertaking a joint assessment where such incidents are reported to have occurred with casualties, as well as to share that with the members of the task force and through the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to the UN Security Council. 

There’s also a commitment by Russia to work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties to the cessation.  There’s also a clear call on the parties for ensuring continuous delivery of humanitarian access including to besieged areas that haven’t been reached yet, and those are specifically named, and for unconditional delivery without obstruction of medical personnel and equipment, having access to those areas as well.

So those are some highlights, but I’ll stop there.  I’m happy to take questions.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And ladies and gentlemen, if you do wish to queue up for a question you may press * followed by 1.  You will hear a tone indicating that you have been placed in queue, and you may remove yourself from the queue at any time by pressing the # key.  If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up the handset before pressing the number.  So again, for your questions you may place yourselves in queue by pressing * followed by 1, and please allow just a few moments as questioners do queue up.

All right, I’ll take our first question in queue from Felicia Schwartz with The Wall Street Journal.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for doing this.  On the part about Nusrah and seeking an understanding about where they are, is that different than – is this a fresh or different effort than what you’ve been trying to do in the past?

And then the second question is the Aleppo ceasefire is going to expire at 5:00 today Eastern Time, so is there a reason that there wasn’t a fresh commitment from U.S. and Russia to extend that ceasefire today?  Thanks.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Sure, thanks.  On the Nusrah piece there’s an emphasis on it because both Nusrah and ISIL are, of course, excluded from the cessation of hostilities, but Nusrah is present in areas where they are proximate to civilians or and/or parties to the cessation.  And over the last several weeks of the cessation the presence of Nusrah has been a complicating factor, and so we’re making a fresh commitment to look at that in relation to the cessation of hostilities and try to come to a clearer shared understanding of where they’re operating and what threat they pose to the cessation.

On Aleppo on the ideas that the particular special measures that we had in place for these specific areas or hot spots is making sure that it’s understood they’re folded in within a commitment to a renewal of the cessation nationwide.  So the intention is for that very much to be extended.

OPERATOR:  Thank you.  The next question will come from Bill Faries with Bloomberg News.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks again for having this. Could you – can you give us – can you say anything more about – you said the intention is very much for this ceasefire to be extended in and around Aleppo.  Is there going to be another time period set on that or – and what has the status been, I guess, over the last 12 to 24 hours?  Thank you.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  There has been a reduction in violence in various parts of Aleppo.  We’ve seen a decrease, although there are pockets where that has not been the case.  There has been fighting in the southwest, for example, fairly intensive, although that fighting is involving Nusrah and other groups that are not party to the cessation.  So fighting there shouldn’t be seen as indicative of the cessation not being in effect or being extended in Aleppo.  We are fully committed to its extension in Aleppo.  Each side has communicated with commanders, saying that the other side is called upon to honor the cessation and that they should reciprocate. 

So the cessation of hostilities is in effect in Aleppo, but there are periods – pockets where there has been fighting, certainly in the last 12 to 24 hours.  One would like to see a decrease there, but in the areas I just mentioned where Nusrah is operating we may not see that right away.

OPERATOR:  All right, thank you.  The next question will come from Curt Mills with U.S. News & World Report.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Thank you, thank you.  So is it the U.S.’s current contention that there is currently a ceasefire in Aleppo, just to be clear?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And next in queue is Rosiland Jordan with Al Jazeera English.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for the call.  I want to go to the section of the statement that deals with the COH item number three:  “The Russians will work with the Syrians to minimize aviation operations over areas that are currently inhabited by civilians.”  Does this mean that Russia has committed, one, to compelling the Assad government to stop airstrikes over areas such as large parts of Aleppo, and does that mean that the Russians themselves will not be carrying out airstrikes, as has been alleged by some in the opposition?  Thanks.

U.S. OFFICIAL:  So the language in that paragraph is “to work with the Syrian authorities to minimize aviation operations over areas that are predominantly inhabited by civilians or parties,” so I think the words are carefully chosen.  What we would like to see as a result of that work is a real reduction in Syrian authorities’ or Syrian air force overflights of those areas.  Even if they’re not dropping ordnance, just the mere hovering of a helicopter overhead has had a particularly worrying effect for understandable reasons for civilians who have witnessed that over the last years of the conflict.  So the commitment, however, is quite specifically related to the Syrian authorities. 

As for Russia, they are a party to the cessation with respect to not striking parties to the cessation, and in the actual terms of the agreement it makes clear that neither Russian nor Syrian air forces should be striking either civilians targets or parties to the cessation.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  The next question will come from Margaret Warner with PBS NewsHour.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi, thanks for doing this.  This is actually a follow-up to the question just asked.  Obviously, the Russian Federation had made some commitments to you all to try to restrain the Syrian authorities from bombing, and the same for themselves.  And so what is new about this?  Are the Russians now more committed?  Is this just kind of a shell game on their part?  I mean, what makes you think this will work any better than before?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Well, I think that what it is a – the commitment, as you say, has been there in effect since the cessation went into effect on the 27th of February as far as not striking parties to the cessation or civilians.  I think we’ve raised serious concerns about the strains and the very real strains the cessation underwent and violations that we’ve seen in recent weeks, and so we believe that it was quite important to renew the commitment with a particularly intensive focus on areas or hot spots where we’ve seen more violence, Aleppo being among them. 

Now, there is no prohibition on overflight or general air operations, so an undertaking on their part to work with minimizing air operations over these areas is an additional measure that, if implemented, would strengthen the COH.  They are not restricted from striking Nusrah, but minimizing air operations even where Nusrah is present, if in an area that’s predominantly inhabited by civilians or the parties to the cessation would help with implementation of the cessation more generally.

OPERATOR:  Thank you.  And next is Nike Chang with Voice of America.  Please, go ahead.

QUESTION:  Hi.  It’s Pam Dockins, actually, with Voice of America.  But a question about section four of the joint U.S.-Russian statement.  Down in the bottom of that paragraph it says the U.S. is committed to intensifying its support and assistance to regional allies.  Can you elaborate on that and indicate whether or not that indicates some type of new commitment or any additional material support to allies, and if so, what is that?

And then secondly, concerning the localized ceasefires such as the one in Aleppo and Latakia:  Is there concern that at some point it’s going to get overwhelming or too difficult to continue to try to maintain these 48, 72-hour ceasefires?  The overall goal, of course, is the nationwide ceasefire, but as you look at these localized attempts, at what point does it become too cumbersome to try to keep up this pace?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  So I’ll take the last question first.  The use of these 24, 48-hour periods in places like Latakia, Eastern Ghouta, and Aleppo were because the exchanges of fire on both sides had become quite intense, particularly in Latakia and Aleppo.  And so it was a means by which to get local commanders to be assured of the other side’s readiness to renew the implementation of the cessation.  In Latakia I think we’ve seen the violence come down quite significantly through the result of those efforts, and therefore folding it into the normal order with the nationwide cessation makes eminent sense, and that’s what we’re doing with the other two areas as well.  Aleppo, there is still work to be done to bring the violence down in pockets of the city, so – in pockets of the – in the environment, and so that’s what we’re working on now.

As concerns your first question, we’re not right now announcing or indicating any fresh or additional specific measures, just a willingness at this stage to intensify efforts in that direction as needed.

OPERATOR:  Thank you.  Next question will come from Michele Kelemen with NPR.  Please go ahead.

QUESTION:  All right, thanks.  I’m wondering about this question of Nusrah in the Aleppo area.  Can you explain how the U.S.-Russian task force works?  Are they actually looking at maps and deciding which group holds which block?

And then, secondly, do you have a shared understanding with the Russians as to the consequences for violations of the ceasefire?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  Yeah, so – I mean, we have had multiple conversations in various fora, both in Geneva and in the region and between our capitals, because we have multiple channels of communication to exchange information on our views on where Nusrah and the parties are located.  The challenge is, of course, where Nusrah and parties to the cessation may be located quite closely together.  And there our view is that while Nusrah is excluded from the cessation and therefore it is permissible to take action against them, you nonetheless are also required under the terms of the COH to ensure any action you take does not harm civilians or parties to the cessation, and that’s where we believe additional work is needed to reach a shared understanding on how you honor that fully.  And in some cases it’s not simply a matter of having a general understanding, but you have to get more granular, and so we’re making a commitment to try to deepen our understanding of that challenge.  And it’s different in different specific locations of the country, so there isn’t a – one approach that applies equally to all, because it depends on the disposition of forces on the ground in specific areas and also the extent to which areas are more densely populated versus more remote.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  And we do have time for one final question.  That will come from Lesley Wroughton with Reuters.  Please go ahead.

QUESTION:  Yeah, hi.  It’s got to do with the political process.  How realistic is it that you can actually, as you say, redouble efforts to reach a political settlement when these sides are still in battle?  And if you think that you – do you think that you can realistically actually get the parties together this month, as suggested last week?

U.S. OFFICIAL:  So our view is that the renewal of the cessation of hostilities coupled with humanitarian access – indeed being allowed in the besieged and hard-to-reach areas and for the assistance to be continuous – these things create a much better – a far more conducive environment towards the parties being able to tackle very difficult political issues. 

The statement points to the mediator’s summary that was issued following the last round of talks between the 13th and the 27th of April, which in its annex listed many different issues that the parties need to tackle for the political transition to be viable.  And it’s important to note in there that among the things it covers are how is power to be exercised in practice by the transitional governance, including in relation to the presidency, executive powers, control over the government’s own security institutions. 

And so by making clear that these things are very much the subject of discussion, it certainly clarifies for those who were wondering, well, is this a real discussion on political transition, to make clear that the co-chairs’ shared understanding as these things are front and center on the table for discussion.  So to the extent that there was any lack of clarity among some of the parties as to what are the items that are meant to be discussed, having a list of issues spelled out as to what will inform the agenda for the talks going forward can help.  But they’re very, very difficult issues, to be certain.  So the issues are difficult, and equally the cessation – it’s going to face – when it went into effect, we knew that it would face setbacks and that it would take strenuous efforts to get it back on track.  The same remains today.  But the commitment that we have from both co-chairs is to work through those challenges – indeed, to try to get it back on track.

OPERATOR:  Thank you very much.  At this time we’ll turn the conference back over to our presenters for any closing comments.

MODERATOR:  I just want to thank our U.S. official for taking time out today, and thank you all for calling in.  This will conclude today’s call.

Upper School History Instructor Job posted by: Pioneers Baccalaureate School

Upper School History Instructor

Job posted by: Pioneers Baccalaureate School

Job description

Job Description

Pioneers School (www.pioneers.ps) in Nablus, Palestine is seeking an English-speaking general history instructor for grades 9-12. The PBS history position requires in-depth knowledge of world history and/or U.S. history in order to prepare our students to take these SAT subject tests in June (2017). The successful candidate will also possess a heightened sense of cultural sensitivity as they navigate the curriculum.

Experience is preferred but not necessary. This position requires a high level of flexibility and creativity. The applicant must be able to work independently and teach to a variety of learning styles and abilities.

$425 salary per month, housing and return airfare are provided.

About us:

Pioneers School is the premier private school in Nablus. As a bilingual school, PBS focuses on differentiated instruction, inclusive classrooms and fostering critical thinking and student expression. Each year we add a grade level and will eventually be a full K-12 institution. Our high school curriculum prepares students to successfully complete the SAT and multiple SAT Subject Test in order to apply to competitive universities both in the West Bank and abroad.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for a position working with us, please send a photo, cover letter, and resume to jobs@pioneers.edu.ps In your cover letter, please answer the following questions.

Why do you want to work with kids in Nablus? What do you consider your greatest strength? What do you do with your free time?

Please also include the email addresses for three references.

Location

Nablus, West Bank, Palestine

Details

Start date
August 14, 2016
Application deadline
May 1, 2016
Education requirements
Level of language proficiency
Fluent
Employment type
Full time
Professional level
None specified
Job function
Owner’s areas of focus

Executive Summary Sample

Executive Summary for the Week of 16/5/2012 – 23/5/2012

Egypt: Elections

All of the Think Tanks summarized below hold very different viewpoints concerning the same issue, the Egyptian elections; although, there are some statements that hold true throughout all of the think tanks. All believe that this is a very important time for Egypt and that the outcome of this election is very detrimental, possibly even predictive of the future of Egypt. The pieces primarily examine parliament and the role of the Islamists in Egypt. The Brookings Institution conducted a poll that is telling of what Egyptians want and see in their future, which shown alongside the Gallup poll can be disconcerting. The Gallup poll shows a more pessimistic view of the current political climate, whereas The Brookings Institution is more optimistic, this however can be attributed to the types of questions asked, as well as the depth of the questions. Both the Center for American Progress and Washington Institute for Near East Policy examined the role America can play in the transition process. The Center for American Progress, being more progressive, took a centrist approach to reinstating ties with the new Egyptian government; it was also the only report to provide more detailed background knowledge about the candidates. In contrast, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, under the guise of fostering stability, took a very American Exceptionalist approach to the elections, assuming the worst and even regretting the inability for the Obama administration to get involved. The second report from WINEP also indicates concern with the ability of Egyptians to monitor the elections for fairness and vote rigging. The Plofchan report from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, although not the first to talk about the Salafis and The Muslim Brotherhood, it was the first to chronicle, however briefly, the beginnings of the split between the two groups, as well as state some of the differences in beliefs amongst the two. Lastly, the Council on Foreign Relations report was the only report to put a face to a people, speaking of the obstacles Egypt may face and providing a more in depth look at what many Egyptians may be feeling.

Think Tank: Brookings Institution

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 21/5/2012

Author: Shibley Telhami

Type: Report

Title: What Do Egyptians Want? Key Findings from the Egyptian Public Opinion Poll

Address: http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2012/05/21-egyptian-election-poll-telhami

The Brookings Institution has conducted a poll surveying the Egyptian public about political preferences, leaders and regional issues, during May 4-10, 2012 in light of the first presidential election. The Brookings Institution places great emphasis on the importance of the inaccuracies of probable predictions, as there is no analytical model of voting behaviour as of yet. Egyptian voters have also shown a difference in criteria by which they judge parliamentary and presidential candidates.

Poll Results:

  • Abul-Fotouh led the polls with 32%, followed by Mousa (28%) then Shafiq (14%), Morsi and Sabahi at (8%).
  • In parliamentary elections, 24% a favoured political party determined their vote, whereas in presidential elections, personal trust is a determining factor for 31%.
  • Christians supported Mousa the most, with 43%, as well as voters outside of cities with 31% of the vote.
  • Abul-Fotouh led among university graduates with 35% and among youth, under age 25, with 36%.
  • 54% believe Turkey to be the model reflection in terms of Islam in politics, followed by Saudi Arabia with 32%
  • A majority of those polled hold very unfavourable views of the U.S., with 68% and 73% support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama.
  • 66% of Egyptians support Sharia as the basis of Egyptian law, but 83% believe Sharia should be adapted to modern times.
  • A majority of Egyptians admired the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, with 63%. When asked to include Egyptian leaders, Erdogan fell to 15%, with Sadat at 35% and Abdel Nasser at 26%.
  • Brokering Middle East peace and establishing a Palestinian State ranked highest (66%) in regards improving U.S. favourability, followed by stopping military and economic aid to Israel as 46%.
  • While 55% believe there will be no lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis, 46% would like to maintain the peace treaty with Israel and 44% would like to see it cancelled.
  • The two countries that pose the biggest nuclear threat are Israel (97%) and the U.S. (80%).
  • Egyptians have been in support of the rebels against Assad and the Syrian government, but only 18% wish to see external military interventions, 15% support a Turkish Arab military intervention and 43% wish to see no military intervention.

Think Tank: Center for American Progress

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 23/5/2012

Author: Brian Katulis

Type: Brief

Title: Previewing Egypt’s 2012 Presidential Elections

Address:  http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/05/egypt_elections.h tml/#1

This report by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank dedicated to public policy research, provides a brief description of Egypt’s first democratic presidential election since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, as well as recommendations for the American government to restore and reinforce ties with the new Egyptian government. In addition, the brief lists and describes the presidential candidates.

According to the report, it is believed that “no candidate will receive more than 50% of the vote,” which would lead to run-off elections in mid-June between the two top candidates. By June’s end a new president will be sworn in for a four-year term and military rulers will hand over power to the new government. However, the transition is still incomplete as a new constitution is to be written and their remains questions over:

  • The economy- Candidates have addressed unemployment and inflation, but have yet to address public-sector debt, the currency crisis, and energy and food subsidies.
  • Security, Law and Order- The drafting of the new constitution has been halted due to Egypt’s disunities over the identity of their new political system; ie. The role of Islam in the government and legislation.

The drafting of the constitution is set to take six-months to draft, although it could take longer to get approved and gain public support. The new constitution may also address a checks and balances system, as well as the role of parliament. The role Egypt is to take in the Arab-Israeli conflict and regional security is also a source of debate amongst the candidates.

The report suggests that the American government conduct a “major interagency review of its Egypt policy.” This review will prepare the U.S. administration for dialogue with the new Egyptian administration later this year. The dialogue should consist of:

  • A renegotiation of “basic terms of the relationship.”
  • Enhance bilateral relationship through common interests.
  • “Build a more stable foundation for U.S.-Egyptian bilateral ties.”

Results of these dialogues would redefine ties and include more parts of the Egyptian government that were not included in past years.

Egypt Presidential Candidate Profiles

  • Amr Moussa- He served under the Mubarak regime as Egypt’s Foreign minister, as well as the secretary general of the Arab League. His platform consists of a centrist political strategy. He has been labelled as a remnant of the Mubarak regime. He is known for his anti-Israel and America statements and has campaigned as the “alternative to Islamist candidates.”
  • Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh- His candidacy is opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood. He is an Islamist activist and “would implement Sharia as a formal legal code.” His platforms are “populist economics and “people first” economics.” He served on the Muslim Brotherhoods decision-making council for twenty-two years. He has the support of leaders from the Salafi Nour Party.
  • Ahmad Shafiq- He has served as prime minister, and air force commander under Mubarak, causing him speculation amongst “revolution minded voters.” His platform is to “restore law and order within 30 days of being elected.” Public perception of him has been negative. He is running as an “alternative to Islamist candidates. “
  • Hamdeen Sabbahi- He has nationalist ideologies, basing his campaign on criticism of the U.S. and Israel. He founded social and political organizations and worked as a journalist, in which he was arrested for his “public confrontation” with former President Sadat concerning “rising food prices.” He did not serve under the Mubarak regime and is not an Islamist. He has proposed an alliance with Iran and Turkey and severing ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
  • Muhammad Mursi- He is the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party Leader. He has served in Egypt’s Parliament and is the Brotherhood’s leading spokesman. He plans to amend the peace treaty with Israel “to create a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and have Israel recognize the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees.”

Think Tank: Council on Foreign Relations

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 21/5/2012

Author: Steven A. Cook, Hasib J. Sabbagh

Type: Expert Brief

Title: A New Presidential Authority in Egypt

Address: http://www.cfr.org/egypt/new-presidential-authority-egypt/p28308

This brief takes a more optimistic approach to the Egyptian elections, summarizing the possible obstacles for the newly elected official, obstacles pertaining to religion in politics, and while also providing a look at the voters’ demands and desire for dignity.

While Egypt has witnessed violence, protests and authority turnover in the last sixteen months, it has empowered Egyptians to take part in their political system. Current polls show “a clear majority of Egyptians continue to hold the military in high regard,” although not nearly as many Egyptians “support a military-dominated political system.” The SCAF has been contested by the public for the “Selmi principles,” granting “autonomy from elected civilian officials,” as well as for their “application of the State of Emergency.”

The Muslim Brotherhood votes are split between two candidates, Aboul Fotouh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood, and Morsi, who has been behind in the polls. Despite the parliament being a Brotherhood majority, the Brotherhood is not leading in the presidential polls, possibly due to a Brotherhood announcement against running in the presidential race, that was later followed by Morsi’s presidential bid.

Egyptians demand more accountability of politicians. Although economic strife “helped create an environment of misery,” in years prior to the uprising, “Egyptians were demanding freedom, justice, and dignity when they brought Hosni Mubarak down.”

One thing that may delay the transition process will be the role of Islam in politics. Within that lies the issue of whether the Salafis or the Islamists are to speak for Islam. It is anticipated that whomever wins the election must negotiate between different religious groups. If the organised labour parties can emerge in large-scale, they can be very influential in the economic and social policymaking.

Think Tank: Gallup World via The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 18/5/2012

Author: Mohamed Younis and Ahmed Younis

Type: Report

Title: Support for Islamists Declines as Egypt’s Election Nears

Address: http://www.gallup.com/poll/154706/Support-Islamists-Declines-Egypt-Election-Nears.aspx?utm_source=alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=syndication&utm_content=morelink&utm_term=World

According to the Gallup poll, spanning from July 2011 until April 2012 the Islamists have seen a steady increase, followed by a sharp decline in overall support as well as in the areas of prime minister appointment and constitution drafting.

  • July 2011 saw Muslim Brotherhood support at 17%, steadily increasing and peaking at 63% in February, then sharply declining to 42% in April.
  • In July 2011 Salafi support was at 5%, steadily increasing and peaking at 37% in February, then sharply declining to 25% in April.
  • The Nour Party saw 5% support in July, peaking at 40% in February and declining to 30% in April.
  • The Freedom and Justice Party saw 15% support in July, peaking at 67% in February and declining to 43% in April.
  • In February 2012, 62% of Egyptians felt comfortable with parliament writing the constitution, in April 2012 that percentage fell to 44.
  • In February 2012, 46% of Egyptians believed the party that wins the most seats in the parliament should appoint the prime ministers. Egyptians supporting the newly elected president appointing the prime minister next summer was 27%.
  • In April 2012, 27% of Egyptians believed the party that wins the most seats in the parliament should appoint the prime ministers. Egyptians supporting the newly elected president appointing the prime minister next summer was 44%.
  • In February 2012, 62% of Egyptians thought a parliament influenced by the Brotherhood was a good thing; 27% thought it was a bad thing.
  • In April 2012, 36% of Egyptians thought a parliament influenced by the Brotherhood was a good thing; 47% thought it was a bad thing.

This dissatisfaction can be attributed to the economic decline and bouts of violence. The transition has been twisted by power struggles within parliament, as opposed to reversing “financial decline and working to hold former regime members accountable.”

Think Tank: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 22/5/2012

Author: Eric Trager

Type: Policy Analysis

Title: Presidential Elections Will Not End Egyptian Instability

Address: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/presidential-elections-will-not-end-egyptian-instability

This WINEP analysis focuses on American interests within the Egyptian elections and states that given the economic situation of Egypt and the lack of clarity in the role of a new president, the elections will not provide stability in Egypt, but could further instability. Trager states that Sabahi is considered a favourite amongst expatriate voters, and while Mousa appears to be leading in the polls, there is no anticipated winner. With 75% of the parliament being Islamists, “ongoing instability has damaged the Islamists’ popularity and raised the profile of former regime candidates,” such as Shafiq, who has sought the votes of former Mubarak supporters.

The analysis concentrates on the shift from an American friendly regime to the current stance of the candidates that express anti-Western platforms, with the exception of Shafiq who is the only candidate who is not anti-Western or pro-Sharia. 

Fair elections will not likely cause stability as the parameters of the role of the newly elected president are undefined, as the new constitution has not been drafted. The proposals to allow the SCAF “to retain absolute powers in reviewing its internal affairs, including its budget,” and the ability of the president’s power to dissolve parliament, are likely to “ignite a severe confrontation between the military and the Islamists.”

The Obama administration has not declared support for any candidate. Washington should insist the SCAF conduct the elections fairly and to “follow a credible constitutional process,” otherwise mass protests could occur. Such protests could suppress stability restoration. Concerned that Islamists may play a role in an uprising against the SCAF, Washington should “use its $1.3 billion in military aid as leverage,” to ensure proper SCAF administration.

Think Tank: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 22/5/2012

Author: David Schenker

Type: Policy Analysis

Title: Egyptian Elections: Beyond Winning

Address: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/egyptian-elections-beyond-winning

This policy analysis of the Egyptian elections by WINEP, often criticised for being pro-Israel, discusses the credibility and speculation surrounding the actual voting process in Egypt. Concern is raised over an Islamist sweep within the new government, as Islamists are the majority of the new parliament. WINEP believes that regardless of the election process, a group of Egyptians may not accept the results if their candidate does not win.

Egyptians have been to the voting polls four times in fifteen months, causing concern that Egyptians may be losing their enthusiasm to vote. The constitutional referendum in March 2011 saw 41.2% of eligible voters vote, but Shura Council elections in January and February 2012 saw only 6.5% of voters in the first round and 12.2% voters in the second. About 54% of voters cast their ballots for the People’s Assembly elections. The high turn out rate is thought to be because some Egyptians believed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would fine them for not voting. The threat of SCAF imposing an “interim constitution” could discourage voters or encourage voters to vote.

The Carter Center, the only American based democracy promotion organisation currently in Egypt  “will not be allowed to observe any single polling station for more than thirty minutes.” Thousands of Egyptians have volunteered to monitor the polling stations.

WINEP believes that in the event Shafiq or Mousa win, there may be “claims of SCAF fraud,” accompanied by mass protests. The key to stabilizing Egypt is in the credibility of the voting process.

Think Tank: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Topic: Egyptian Elections

Date: 16/5/2012

Author: Thomas K. Plofchan III

Type: Report

Title: Egypt’s Islamists: A Growing Divide

Address: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/islamists/egypt’s-islamists-growing-divide

This report chronicles and examines the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi rivalry from the fall of Hosni Mubarak until more recently into the elections. The two organisations originally held similar positions on issues after the fall of Mubarak, although began to divide mid-2011.

Three Salafi organisations, The Nour Party, being the biggest, joined the Brotherhood led Democratic Alliance that soon dissolved afterwards. The Salafis then formed the Islamic Bloc that won approximately 27% of the parliament vote, despite political inexperience. “The Nour Party won 111 of the 508 parliamentary seats, making it the second largest part in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament.” The Brotherhood won 40% of the vote. Both parties have stated little interest in forming an Islamist alliance in the parliament.

The media has recently depicted the Brotherhood in a negative light due to entering the presidential candidacy after stating they wouldn’t. The Salafi party supports Aboul Fotouh, an expelled Brotherhood leader, while the Brotherhood’s Morsi is behind in the polls.

Salafis “oppose the use of alcohol and exposure of women’s bodies,” in regards to tourism standards; The Nour Party encourages cultural tourism contrasting to resort tourism and the Brotherhood “have distinguished between Egyptians and foreigners traveling in the country.” The biggest contrast deals with the role of Sharia in the new political system. The Brotherhood supports the principles of Sharia in legislation, whereas the Salafis support Sharia judgment.

Remembering Rachel Corrie on the anniversary of her death

contact@ifamericansknew.org

 

 

Dear Friend,

On this day 13 years ago, American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by Israeli soldiers driving a military bulldozer. She was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home. According to numerous witnesses and photographic documentation, she was killed intentionally.

Representative Brian Baird from Washington State introduced a resolution in Congress calling on the federal government to “undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation” into Rachel’s death. The bill was co-sponsored by 77 representatives, but Congress took no action. 

The Corrie family then filed a lawsuit against Caterpillar Inc in 2005, alleging that Caterpillar supplied Israelis with bulldozers even though they knew they were being used to commit war crimes. The lawsuit was dismissed.

The Corrie family’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was also dismissed. The court acknowledged that the U.S. government paid for the bulldozer that killed Rachel, but said that they didn’t have the jurisdiction to rule on the “political question” of U.S. military aid to Israel. 

In 2010, the Corrie family filed a lawsuit in Israel against the Israeli Defense Forces. Israeli officials prevented the physician who had examined Rachel’s wounds from testifying in the case. The court ruled that Rachel was responsible for her own death. In 2014, the Corrie family’s appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of Israel, and the IDF was absolved of any wrongdoing.

Keep Rachel’s message alive by sharing her story with your community. We have cards, a booklet of Rachel’s letters, and posters available for download and order.

#SupportPalestineInDC2016

U.S. taxpayers send Israel over $3 billion a year in military aid with virtually no strings attached, and now the prime minister of Israel wants $5 billion a year.

The majority of Americans oppose taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but virtually all Democratic and Republican members of Congress continue to supply Israel with more and more weapons each year (Palestinians do not receive military aid).

American taxpayer dollars have enabled Israel to continue its decades-long illegal occupation of Palestinian land and deny Palestinians basic legal and human rights. With our money, Israeli forces have killed over 9,200 Palestinians as well as numerous international journalists and peace activists since 2000.

We are driving the violence in this region, and we must stop it.

This weekend, AIPAC kicks off its annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump scheduled to give speeches. We hope you will join us this Sunday at noon at the White House to protest AIPAC’s influence on American politics and support Palestinian human rights. Your voice is urgently needed!

As always, thank for your commitment to peace, justice, and equality for all people.

The If Americans Knew team

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Must Have #Spring #Accessories #fashionpost #shopspring

Hello Pistachios!

Springtime is just around the corner and if you’re anything like me, you’re super excited for the nice weather, bright colors and pretty clothes. Already the weather is starting to get warmer and brighter. I’ve started pulling out the springtime dresses and getting my spring cleaning done- AND IT FEELS GREAT! I don’t know about you, but spring cleaning is a great excuse to purge my closet of clothes and accessories I haven’t worn in a while. [Don’t forget to donate your lightly worn clothes to charity.] So as my closet starts to look bare, I have to ask: What am I going to replace it all with?

In lieu of my daily fashion post, here is a list of my must have Spring accessories from my new favorite shop. Spring was inspired by some fashion boutiques in SoHo, New York City. It’s a great site because it gives you the experience of shopping at all these boutiques in one place. Plus there are some really cute accessories on there that I totally want… like, now!

As you can tell from my list, I’m all about the sunglasses, watches and headbands. I want it all!

😛

Happy Shopping!

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Magnolia Cat Eye Sunglasses

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What I saw at a Syrian refugee camp

Dear MoveOn member,

A few months ago, I visited the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, the largest Syrian refugee camp and home to about 80,000 people. 

It is hard to describe with words what I saw. The camp was full of women and young children who fled Syria in fear for their lives. While I was there, I saw children as young as six years old digging trenches in the sand for raw sewage. I saw young boys and girls being kept home from school to do hard labor because the meager wage is the only way their families could afford to eat. And I heard stories of young girls sold into marriage so the rest of the family could afford to live in this perpetual state of despair. I saw desperation and want emanate from every corner of the camp.

This isn’t just a humanitarian crisis, it has real national security implications. If we don’t help feed and shelter these refugees, extremists like ISIS will. For years, I’ve called upon the United States to increase humanitarian aid to improve the conditions in refugee camps to help other nations bear the burden of displaced persons, and take in more refugees here at home. Finally, there is momentum growing to step up and meet this challenge. 

Over the next two weeks, the U.S. Senate will consider a bipartisan request for $1 billion in emergency funding to provide humanitarian relief to Syrian refugees, and it is CRITICAL that you make your voice heard on this issue.

I know my colleagues take calls from constituents seriously, so make the call and tell Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker you support emergency appropriations to provide humanitarian relief to Syrian refugees, and to please co-sponsor Senate Bill 2145, the Middle East Refugee Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Here’s where to call:

Senator Robert Menendez

Phone: (202) 224-4744

Senator Cory Booker

Phone: (202) 224-3224

Then, please report your call by clicking here:

http://pol.moveon.org/call?tg=FSNJ_1.FSNJ_2&cp_id=2438&id=135024-30141796-78nQ_Lx&t=1

Our nation has a long tradition of providing safe haven to refugees fleeing tyranny, violence, and persecution. We welcomed more than 200,000 refugees during the Balkan Wars, 700,000 refugees from Cuba, and more than 700,000 refugees from Vietnam. 

We are a VERY generous nation, always have been, but there is a double standard in our foreign policy today.

When America sets a military objective, we allocate every single dollar we need to accomplish that mission. But when it’s a humanitarian objective, we only put in a share and expect others to fill the gap. That approach comes at a very real human cost in the region, and ultimately, to our credibility around the world.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve led the effort to articulate a progressive vision for America’s role in the world—one that exercises smarter power and influence by leaning into the world with something other than the pointed edge of the sword. Because the truth is, failing to invest in humanitarian programs can be just as dangerous to U.S. national security interests as failing to invest in military operations when they are necessary. As I’ve rolled out this new foreign policy direction, I’ve been grateful for the passionate feedback I’ve received from MoveOn members and for our steadfast partnership.

That’s why I’m asking you to make your voice heard today. I know my colleagues will be waiting to see which way the calls come in on this issue. Pick up the phone and tell Sens. Menendez and Booker to support legislation providing emergency humanitarian relief to help Syrian refugees. 

Here’s where to call: 

Senator Robert Menendez

Phone: (202) 224-4744

Senator Cory Booker

Phone: (202) 224-3224

Then, please report your call by clicking here:

http://pol.moveon.org/call?tg=FSNJ_1.FSNJ_2&cp_id=2438&id=135024-30141796-78nQ_Lx&t=2

With the civil war persisting in Syria, many families have been in these camps for two or three years, and I can tell you from my experience there, this is nowhere anyone would want to live. This explains why so many refugees are giving up on the camps and fleeing for Europe. They see no end to the civil war, and with little real humanitarian assistance on the way to make life in camps better, they flee, often risking their own lives and the lives of loved ones.

Thank you for standing with me on this issue.

Every best wish,

Senator Chris Murphy

Want to support our work? MoveOn member contributions have powered our work together for more than 17 years. Hundreds of thousands of people chip in each year—which is why we’re able to be fiercely independent, answering to no individual, corporation, politician, or political party. You can become a monthly donor by clicking here, or chip in a one-time gift here.

Sign: End orca captivity once and for all

 

Congress: Pass the ORCA Act and End Killer Whales in Captivity

 

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Nice try, SeaWorld.

The corporation grabbed headlines around the world this week with the news that it would end its killer whale performances. Beneath the headlines, however, very little has changed. Sign my Care2 petition to ask Congress to take action to end the barbaric practice of keeping killer whales in captivity.

The full story is that in an effort to turn around the 17% decline in attendance at their San Diego park, SeaWorld will end their theatrical performances by 2017, and instead work to present the animals in a more natural setting. This announcement does not affect their two other U.S. parks.

Unfortunately, it seems like that setting won’t be any larger than their current, cramped conditions. The entertainment corporation also announced they were halting their plans to significantly increase the size of their killer whale tanks.

This news certainly won’t change the reality that orcas shouldn’t be in captivity. These highly social animals spend their time in the wild traveling in family pods over 100 miles a day to hunt schools of salmon and other prey together. Orcas cannot thrive in lonely, captive conditions – even if the bathtub is designed to look more natural.

A Congressman from California is introducing the ORCA Act, a bill to phase out the practice of keeping killer whales in captivity, ending captive breeding and the import and export of these magnificent animals. Sign my petition and urge your member of Congress to support the legislation today!

Thanks for taking action!

 

Aaron V.

The Care2 Petitions Team

 

This Marine is being punished for doing the right thing.

 

Don’t Punish Marine Who Tried to Stop Child Sex Abuse

 

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Hebatullah,

My name is Chris Showalter, and I am a veteran of the Iraq War. I’m writing you this Veterans Day about a Marine who needs your help.

Right now, military officials are trying to boot Marine reservist Major Jason Brezler from the service. His crime? The unsecure transmission of a warning to fellow Marines about a corrupt and predatory allied Afghan commander.

Major Brezler needs your help. Please sign my petition to urge Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to stop discharge proceedings against Major Brezler right now.

In 2010, Major Brezler and a colleague convinced local police to arrest Afghan police commander Sarwar Jan for corruption, supporting the Taliban and child abduction.

When Jan was placed at another post two years later, Major Brezler attempted to warn US personnel about the Afghan commander’s record from his unsecure email address. His warning apparently went unheeded.

Two weeks after arriving, a member of what The New York Times described as Jan’s “large entourage of ‘tea boys’ — domestic servants who are sometimes pressed into sexual slavery” grabbed a rifle and shot several US soldiers.

As the father of one of the slain Marines told The Times:

“As far as the young boys are concerned, the Marines are allowing it to happen and so they’re guilty by association.”

Brezler’s warning could have saved lives and spared children the awful trauma of abuse, but now he’s being punished for trying to do the right thing.

I’m a former Marine myself, and I firmly believe that no one in the service of our country should be discharged for prioritizing basic human rights, the safety of his fellow Marines, and the welfare of children above protocol.

You can help Major Brezler and force the Pentagon to take a long look how it deals with human rights abuses by our allies. Please sign my petition now.

Semper Fidelis,

 

Chris Showalter

Wichita, KS

 

1,794 wild horses sent to the slaughterhouse.

 

Justice for Wild Horses Illegally Sold to Slaughter

 

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meet the petition author

Amy Thompson

Mankato, Minnesota, US

 

On October 23rd, a report revealed that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sold 1,794 federally protected wild horses that ended up in Mexican slaughterhouses. Despite evidence of wrongdoing, state officials have refused to even investigate what happened.

The BLM’s history of mismanaging and abusing the horses in its care has outraged Amy for years. The latest report was the last straw. She started a Care2 petition to demand that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch investigate the BLM for sending wild horses to the slaughterhouse. Will you sign Amy’s petition?

It is illegal for the BLM to sell federally protected horses to “kill buyers” who would send them to be slaughtered. It is also illegal for the BLM to sell large numbers of horses to one buyer. So BLM staff broke the law when they sold the 1,794 horses to Coloradan rancher Tom Davis, who then sold them to Mexican slaughterhouses.

It is unclear whether the BLM is corrupt or negligent, but it is clear that Davis has made a lot of money from the deal. He only paid the BLM $10 for each horse, but sold them to the Mexican slaughterhouses for at least $100 a head. Davis didn’t even have to pay for their transportation since the BLM spent $140,000 of taxpayer money to deliver the horses right to his doorstep.

The BLM is supposed to protect the wild horses in its care, not send them to the slaughterhouse. If the Colorado state and district attorneys don’t want to pursue an investigation, then the U.S. Attorney General should step up. Sign this petition to demand a federal investigation into the BLM. The more people speak out, the more likely it is that we will pressure U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch into taking action.

Thank you,

 

Lacey K.

The Care2 Petitions Team

 

Sign: Snow leopards need your voice in Paris

 

Save the Endangered Snow Leopard – Tell Paris 2015 to #ActOnClimate

 

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The snow leopard lives in the freezing, snow-covered mountains of the Himalayas and other rocky, mountainous areas of central Asia. Already endangered, new research shows this mysterious and beautiful animal will be especially hard-hit by climate change, losing as much as 1/3 of its habitat.

Sign Jessica’s petition right now to make sure snow leopards and other endangered wildife are considered in the upcoming climate talks in Paris.

Thousands of diplomats will be headed to Paris next month to negotiate an international climate agreement. But snow leopards and other threatened animals won’t have teams of representatives lined up next to the delegations from the U.S., China, and other nations. It’s up to us to be their voice.

To save snow leopards, we need a plan that will stop global warming at less than 2°C by limiting greenhouse gases as quickly as possible. That’s why Jessica launched a Care2 petition calling on the leaders of Paris 2015 to #ActOnClimate.

If the world won’t agree to aggressive action and move our energy economy quickly away from dirty and dangerous coal, oil and natural gas, snow leopards and other threatened wildlife won’t stand a chance.

Sign the Care2 petition and urge effective leadership for snow leopards, our climate and all the world’s wildlife.

Thanks for taking action!

 

Aaron V.

The Care2 Petitions Team