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Annie Gugliotta

Then and Now: Iran’s public trials, Somalia’s new cabinet, El Salvador’s state of emergency

Three Months ago: Islamic Republic announces (sham) public trials

Media attention may have subsided, but protesters in Iran remain unbowed four months after the in-custody death of Mahsa Amini – she was arrested by the Islamic Republic’s “morality police” three days before her death – set off something resembling a revolution. Three months ago, we wrote that the mullahs who rule the country with an iron fist had announced the public trial of around 1,000 Iranians for participating in anti-regime demonstrations. Since then, at least four men have been publicly hanged: Sayed Mohammad Hosseini, 39, Mohammad Mehdi Karami, 22, a karate champ, Majid Reza Rahnavard, 23, a store worker, and Mohsen Shekari, 23, a barista. They were each accused of killing a member of the Basij paramilitary, a ruthless volunteer force that operates under the draconian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp – though rights groups say their confessions were coerced under torture.

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Somalia appoints former al Shabaab spokesperson as minister in Mogadishu

REUTERS/Feisal Omar

What We're Watching: Somalia's new cabinet, takeaways from US primaries, Peru's president in peril

Somalia appoints former al-Shabab militant to cabinet

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has named former al-Shabab spokesperson, Muktar Robow, as Somalia’s minister for endowment and religious affairs. A veteran of the Afghan war, who was training with al-Qaida in Afghanistan during 9/11, Robow helped found al-Shabab, which is fighting to overthrow the Somali government in a bid to invoke a strict interpretation of Sharia law. The militants have killed tens of thousands since 2007, and they’ve recently been involved in cross-border attacks in Ethiopia. Robow (aka Abu Mansour), who once had a $5 million bounty on his head, broke from the al-Qaida-linked militants back in 2017. Arrested by Somali authorities in 2018 to prevent him from running for office, Robow had been under house arrest in Mogadishu until last year, when he was taken back into custody. This week, he was released just before his new role was announced. As the new face of Somalia’s war against al-Shabab, Robow is tasked with helming the ideological battle against the terrorists. Some believe this will strengthen the government’s hand against al-Shabab, but critics fear it could lead to sectarian violence.

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