03 Dec 2018 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


The emergence of new migration routes highlights the need for the EU to get closer to its Mediterranean partners
The Parliament Magazine, 03 Dec 2018

Despite the significant decrease in the number of migrants arriving in the EU since 2015, the emergence of new routes through Spain highlights the need for the EU to get closer to its Mediterranean partners, in particular to Morocco. The Mediterranean crossing is becoming deadlier every year and migration remains one of Europe’s most important issues. “Uncontrolled migration just plays into the hands of populists and human smugglers” to borrow the words of Jean Christopher Filori, Head of Unit for Maghreb and Migration Policy at the European Commission.

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Qatar set to leave OPEC in January as Middle East spat worsens
Business Insider, 03 Dec 2018

Qatar, OPEC’s 11th largest oil member by production, shocked market watchers with the announcement it will quit OPEC, adding additional bite to proceedings ahead of a December 6 meeting in Vienna, Austria. While Qatar has stated the decision, effective January 1, is thanks to its plans to increase natural gas production, it’s clear its diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia isn’t abating. OPEC largest member – Saudi Arabia – has cut trade and transport ties with Qatar for the past 18 months, alongside three other countries, accusing the country of supporting terrorism and their regional rival, Iran. Qatar has said the boycott is damaging for its national sovereignty and has denied the claims.

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Falana drags Benin, Ghana, six others to African Court over Western Sahara
World Stage, 02 Dec 2018

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana SAN has dragged 8 African Union member states to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights over “the failure of the countries to discharge their legal duty to defend the sovereignty, territorial, integrity and independence of Western Sahara.”The case brought on behalf of Bernard Anbataayela Mornah, a Ghanaian citizen and the National Chairman of the Convention of People’s Party, a political party in Ghana against Burkina Faso; Cote D’ivore; Ghana; Mali; Malawi; and Tanzania relates “to the legal duty on the defendants to defend the sovereignty, territorial, integrity and independence of Western Sahara.”

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Oppression in the Middle East is worse than ever — and Trump is encouraging more
Washington Post, 02 Dec 2018

As Congress considers its reaction to the state-sponsored murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it’s important to take into account that it was not an isolated act. The strangling and dismemberment of the journalist by a 15-member Saudi team form part of a pattern of brutal repression by the regime of King Salman and his highest-ranking son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, that far exceeds that of previous rulers. Saudi Arabia, in turn, forms part of a quartet of Sunni Arab dictatorships, all allied with the United States, that have sought to eliminate all forms of dissent, including free media, independent civil society groups and anyone advocating liberal reforms. The regimes, which include Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as well as Saudi Arabia, don’t hesitate to employ the most extreme methods to accomplish their aims, including mass arrests, torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. In doing so, they are repeating the mistakes of previous Arab dictators and storing up trouble for the future, in the form of alienated citizens and stagnant economies. In offering the regimes unqualified support, the Trump administration in turn is putting vital U.S. interests at risk.

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Tunisia’s tough lesson for Mohammed bin Salman
The Brookings Institution, 01 Dec 2018

That hundreds of Tunisians came out to protest the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman isn’t necessarily surprising. But the images still were striking considering how much rarer such protests—or protests, in general—have become in the Arab world after the Arab Spring turned dark. Under democracy, Tunisians enjoy the freedom to protest Mohammed bin Salman for Saudi Arabia’s assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, its devastating war in Yemen and its crackdown on women activists. Rule of law, meanwhile, isn’t just a nice idea but something real and practiced. The Tunisian Journalists’ Syndicate filed a lawsuit urging Tunisia to refer Mohammed bin Salman to the International Criminal Court. An independent judiciary responded by beginning an investigation. And perhaps most importantly, Tunisians could do all of this without fear of government retribution.

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