- After night of violence, Egypt’s interim government unveils cabinet in effort to dampen unrest
- New appointments to powerful Guardian Council underscore Khamenei control
- E.U. courts dismantling Iran sanctions, “dozens of cases” put international regime at risk of unraveling
- Union blasts government for “witch hunt” amid renewed political crackdown
What we’re watching today:
- Egyptian state TV announced this morning that Egypt’s interim government would be unveiling its first cabinet since the removal from power of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, after clashes in Cairo on Monday and early Tuesday killed 7 people and injured more than 250 others. Demonstrators demanding the release of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked official had clashed overnight with police across four different locations in Cairo, and more than 400 people were eventually arrested. Speaking on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Egyptian presidency expressed confidence that Islamist groups would participate in efforts geared toward national reconciliation, and revealed that both the Brotherhood and the Islamist Nour Party had been offered cabinet positions. The Brotherhood has thus far rejected reconciliation efforts by Cairo’s interim government, led by Egypt’s Chief Justice President Adly Mansour, and has vowed to continue protests until Morsi is reinstated. The army-backed interim government is seeking to stabilize ongoing political unrest, which peaked in the June 30 anti-government protests that directly led to Morsi being relieved of power.
- Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has appointed three ayatollahs to terms on the country’s powerful Guardian Council, the 12-member body responsible for vetting candidates and legislation for conformity with Islamic principles and the Iranian constitution. The Council’s members are divided between six officials who are chosen directly by Khamenei and six who are chosen by parliamentarians from a pool of candidates selected by Iran’s head of the judiciary – who is also a Khamenei appointee. Earlier this week, the Iranian parliament elected three members as well. Khamenei’s influence over the Council provides the Supreme Leader with largely unchecked and uncheckable control over Iran’s legislative and electoral dynamics. Among its other responsibilities, the Guardian Council is responsible for purging lists of candidates before elections. During the 2013 presidential election the Council reduced a list of over 670 candidates to just eight eligible candidates, which analysts described as “Khamenei ‘Yes Men.'” The regime then cleared the field for the eventual winner, consummate regime insider Hassan Rouhani.
- European Union courts are dismantling sanctions designed to stall Iran’s nuclear program at the behest of companies and individuals targeted by the sanctions. Courts are demanding that European governments provide information – much of it sensitive and classified – justifying the asset freezes, visa restrictions, and other measures imposed by the international community against Tehran. In the absence of such evidence, which European agencies have declined to provide lest they expose delicate sources and intelligence, several courts have ordered restrictions removed. European governments are appealing current decisions, but Reuters describes literally “dozens of other cases… in the pipeline,” with the risk being a complete unraveling of the international sanctions regime. Western diplomats have relied on the sanctions net around Iran to provide a credible alternative to military action against the regime’s nuclear program. David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, told Reuters that the situation had become a “real concern of ours.”
- Turkish police arrested dozens of people in Istanbul Tuesday for holding a demonstration in the city’s Taksim Square, bringing to at least 133 the total number of people arrested in connection with ongoing anti-government protests. More than 3,500 Turkish citizens have also been detained in connection with the unrest, and Turkish police are engaged in ongoing raids designed to break the back of the demonstrations. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government have faced sharp criticism from both the U.S. and the E.U. over the country’s heavy-handed response to months of protests. Initial demonstrations calling for pluralism were met with heavy-handed police tactics, including the use of tear gas and water cannons, which in turn triggered large-scale protests throughout the country. A Turkish-based American journalist noted wryly over the weekend that Turkey has become a “police state,” and the government meanwhile passed new legislation curbing the authority of a leading Turkish union that had participated in anti-government demonstrations. The Turkish Union of Chambers of Architects and Engineers blasted Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) party for conducting a “witch hunt.”
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