17 June 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


US envoy hints Israeli-Palestinian peace plan could be delayed
Al Jazeera, 17 Jun 2019

US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy has hinted at a further delay until early November to the unveiling of a White House peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I think the logic would still dictate that if we wanted to wait until a new (Israeli) government is formed, we really do have to wait until potentially as late as November 6," Jason Greenblatt said in a Jerusalem Post interview on Sunday. The Trump administration had already delayed its presentation of the plan until after Israel's April 9 polls, which failed to yield a government and a new election is scheduled for September 17.


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In Algeria, conservatives weigh in against pressure for Western-style democracy
Reuters, 17 Jun 2019

While tens of thousands of Algerians have been gathering for four months in the capital to demand sweeping political reforms, former fighters who led the last confrontation with the establishment have been warning people not to rock the boat. In the 1990s, they drove an uprising against the military after it canceled a landmark multiparty election that Islamists were poised to win. This time they say protests could bring a repeat of the chaos and bloodshed their actions unleashed.


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Saudi Youth Sentenced to Prison Instead of Death, Rights Group Says
The New York Times, 16 Jun 2019

A Saudi teenager who faced possible execution for acts he was accused of committing as a child has been handed a 12-year prison sentence instead, a human rights group that has been monitoring his case said on Sunday. Last year the Saudi public prosecutor’s office sought a death sentence for Murtaja Qureiris, now 18, but the threat of execution did not become public until last week, drawing international condemnation. The charges filed against the teenager related to his attendance at antigovernment protests, some that took place when he was as young as 10. The charges included possessing a firearm and joining a terrorist organization. He was arrested at 13 and has been held in prison since.


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Pompeo again blames Iran for tanker attacks but insists 'we don't want war'
The Guardian, 16 Jun 2019

The United States does not want to go to war with Iran, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said on Sunday, following an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. Pompeo reiterated that the US believes it was “unmistakable” that Iran wasresponsible for the attacks, in an interview with Fox News Sunday. He stressed a need for diplomacy and said American officials are reaching out to their foreign counterparts. “President Trump has done everything he can to avoid war. We don’t want war,” he added. The president has been accused of beating the drum of war with recent inflammatory statements against Iran.


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Thousands of Syrian refugees could be sent back, says Lebanese minister
The Guardian, 15 Jun 2019

As many as three quarters of Syrian refugees in Lebanon could return to Syria because they face no fear of political persecution or threat to their security, Lebanon’s controversial foreign minister has said. Gebran Bassil also urged the UK to rethink how it was spending aid money on keeping 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, where he said they were taking the jobs from the Lebanese, and undercutting wages. The UK has supplied as much as £500m to help house, feed and educate Syrian refugees in Lebanon since the start of the ciivl war in 2011.

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