Atlantic Council

MENASource

Controversial amendments to Jordan's anti-terrorism law seek to curb the influence of homegrown al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists fighting the Syrian regime. New articles added to the law and approved by MPs on Tuesday deem "joining or attempting to join armed or terrorist groups, or recruiting or attempting to recruit people to join these groups" acts of terrorism. They also outlaw "acts that would expose Jordan or Jordanians to the danger of acts of aggression, or harm the kingdom's relations with another country."

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When national security advisor Susan Rice oversaw a Middle East policy review last summer, the guiding concept was to limit the president's investment of time and energy in the myriad crises of the region. Considering himself to have been elected to end wars, restore the economy, institute national health care, and rebalance foreign policy in the direction of Asia, President Barack Obama saw Syria as a slippery slope leading straight down to an uncharted, inescapable quagmire.

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Libya’s road to democracy is shaky at best. Security is deteriorating, with targeted killings, criminal attacks, and bombings on the rise and clashes between rival armed groups—some apparently with government legitimacy and others not—growing more frequent. While these negative trends put tremendous pressure on the transition, Libya’s political process, albeit fickle, manages to keep moving. The efforts at institution building in Libya present a nuanced landscape: for every step forward in one aspect, there are steps backward in others.

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The Obama administration said Tuesday it has certified that Egypt is upholding its peace treaty with Israel and therefore qualifies for some military and counterterrorism assistance.

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The transition to democracy in Libya always has been a tenuous affair, but with the start of constitution drafting, the process as imagined is falling apart. The lack of national political leadership, security infrastructure, and public credibility in the state form a vicious circle. Nonetheless, opportunities to move the transition forward exists if the political will to build and maintain political institutions can endure.

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Weakened rebels are making their last desperate stand in Homs, as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launch their harshest assault yet to expel them from the central city, once known as the capital of the revolution. Some among the hundreds of rebels remaining in the city talk of surrender, according to opposition activists there. Others have lashed back against the siege with suicide car bombings in districts under government control. Some fighters are turning on comrades they suspect want to desert, pushing them into battle. “We expect Homs to fall,” said an activist. “In the next few days, it could be under the regime’s control.”

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Bashar al-Assad recently announced that his regime is holding an “election” in Syria on June 3. The Syrian Opposition Coalition has responded that this latest move by the regime represents a clear decision by Assad to once and for all forgo any illusion that he is willing to pursue a political solution to the conflict. His attempts to portray his rule as inevitable, however, can only succeed if international partners to Syria’s rebels believe this farcical process changes any facts on the ground. The rebels stand strong against the regime’s killing machine. The question remains: will anyone help?

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The Libyan parliament Sunday began hearing seven candidates who are vying to replace prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni who quit last week just days after his appointment. Members of the General National Congress (GNC), were due to hear the candidates present their program of government Sunday, but no date has been fixed for the vote. The winner needs to secure 120 votes out of 200, but some observers doubt that the GNC, which is deeply divided, will be able to reach a consensus on a candidate.

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Follow the latest in economic news and developments about the Arab transition countries. 

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On April 30, Iraq will hold parliamentary elections featuring a total of 9,040 candidates from 142 parties, including forty-one blocs and coalitions, all competing for just 328 parliamentary seats. The result of the 2010 parliamentary elections carried Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc to a narrow electoral victory, but was eventually defeated by a coalition of majority-Shia parties to ensure a second term for Nuri al-Maliki. As Maliki seeks another four years as Iraq’s prime minister, the political scene has changed dramatically and issues, both new and old, take center stage as voters weigh their options.

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