26 Feb 2018 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


Egypt: Arrests Escalate Ahead of Unfair Elections
By All Africa, 26 Feb 2018

Beirut — Egyptian authorities carried out a series of arbitrary arrests in late January and February, 2018, in an escalating crackdown against political opposition, Human Rights Watch said today. Among those arrested is Abd al-Moniem Abu al-Fotouh, a 2012 presidential candidate and the head of the Strong Egypt Party. The intensifying repression and the use of terrorism-related charges against peaceful activists are emblematic of a government strategy to silence critical voices ahead of the planned presidential elections on March 26-28. Human Rights Watch and 13 other rights organizations have said that they lacked "the minimum requirements for free and fair elections."

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U.N. Security Council approves 30-day humanitarian cease-fire in Syria
by The Washington Post, 24 Feb 2018

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday unanimously called for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, with Russia agreeing to the temporary hiatus only after forcing two days of delays that critics said allowed ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to pursue a renewed bombing campaign blamed for hundreds of recent deaths in a rebel-controlled area. The nationwide truce would begin “without delay,” a victory for the United States and other nations that resisted Russian efforts to push back the start or soften the terms.

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Yemen: Houthis submit ‘proposal’ for peace to UN
by MEMO, 23 Feb 2018

Yemen’s Houthi armed group has submitted a proposal to the United Nation’s Security Council to end the civil conflict with the Yemen government, Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, the head of the higher revolutionary committee, said yesterday.

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US brings forward Jerusalem embassy opening to May
By The Guardian, 23 Feb 2018

The US expects to open its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem in May, officials have said, bringing forward Donald Trump’s contentious plan forward by at least a year.  US officials said the move was to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel. The country declared independence on 14 May 1948, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned at the embassy in mid-May. The US ambassador will move his office to a consulate already in the city, the officials said, followed by the gradual expansion of its premises. A new location may be chosen later on.

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