Weekend Roundup: Jan. 18-21

P5+1 Negotiation with Iran, Nov 24, 2013 (Photo: US Mission in Geneva | Flickr)

P5+1 Negotiation with Iran, Nov 24, 2013 (Photo: US Mission in Geneva | Flickr)

U.N. Rescinds Iran Invitation to Syria Conference

  •  In the span of 24 hours during the weekend leading up to the conference, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to attend, and then rescinded that offer after being pressured by the United States.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Kerry was purportedly furious that Iran, a main backer of the al-Assad regime, had been invited without any agreement that it would abide by the preconditions set forth by the conference organizers, mainly the goal of  “the establishment of a transitional administration by 'mutual consent' of the Assad government and the Syrian opposition”
  •  Tehran, too, was displeased at the rapid invitation and uninvitation by the U.N., and the situation not only has livened tempers on the eve of the peace conference by also reflects the multipolarity of the Syrian conflict and predicts the difficulty of reaching any lasting peace agreement.

Syrian Defector Reveals Graphic Images of Detainees in al-Assad’s Prison Camps

  • A military police photographer from Syria released over  55,000 images revealing gruesome torture and killing of detainees, which prosecutors have named “industrial scale killing”
  • This photographic evidence demonstrates the crimes against humanity committed by al Assad’s regime and are revealed as parties convene in Geneva to discuss the Syrian civil war and attempt to reach a peace and transitional government.
  • A team of prosecutors and lawyers from London firm Carter-Ruck and Co. have been examining the photographs and have thus far established the credibility of the collection and its source. The photographs show emaciated, bound, and tortured detainees.

Iran Limits Nuclear Activity in Accordance with P5 + 1 Deal

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has limited its nuclear activity on the grounds outlined by the negotiations that were scheduled to be implemented Monday, and reports good cooperation by Iran.
  •  The IAEA, a private U.N. agency, is responsible for monitoring Iran’s compliance with the agreement and will have multiple teams on the ground in Iran throughout the denuclearization process. "The Agency and Iran have also agreed on arrangements for increased access by agency inspectors to the nuclear facilities at Natanz and Fordow”.

UAE Convicts 30 of Organizing Illegal Muslim Brotherhood Branch

  •  On Tuesday, officials in the United Arab Emirates convicted 20 Egyptians and 10 Emiratis of organizing an illegal branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country and soliciting illegal donations from Emirates citizens.
  • The convicted individuals will serve prison sentences ranging from three months to five years, and the Egyptians will be deported upon the conclusion of their time served. Amnesty International reports gross injustice throughout the trial, including "Arrests without judicial warrants, allegedly falsified arrest dates in court documents; months of secret detention and solitary confinement with no access to a lawyer”.
  • The UAE and many countries of the Gulf region have donated millions of dollars in aid to the Egyptian military government following its overthrow of Mohammad Morsi last July.

Egyptian Supporters of al-Sisi Urge a Presidential Run

  •  After a draft constitution proposed by the interim government passed overwhelmingly last week, supporters of General al-Sisi have taken to the streets to urge him to run for Egypt’s presidency. Citizens are waving banners with slogans of “complete your good deed,” and “Egypt calls upon you.”
  • Al-Sisi has yet to indicate his intentions, but the army had originally cited presidential elections as the second phase of its transitional plan, which was introduced after Morsi’s ouster.
  • Amid the outward support for al-Sisi, members of the Muslim Brotherhood are engaging in daily protests of the army and are planning mass protests for January 25, which marks the three year anniversary of the beginning of the Brotherhood-led ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.