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May 29, 2013
A federal state is likely to emerge from the National Dialogue, but it is questionable whether the new constitution will be ratified in a countrywide referendum in November, as Herak—the Southern secessionist party that has largely boycotted the talks—demanded that Yemen be partitioned into the northern and southern states that existed before unification in 1990.

EGYPT

Morsi: The state will not restrict civil society
Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, President Mohamed Morsi stressed the importance of civil society’s role in Egypt’s development. He spoke of the partnership between the state and civil society, adding that the role of the state is not to restrict or control civil society.[ONA (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Video]

IMF ready to sign Egypt loan agreement before parliament elections
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is ready to sign a $4.8 billion loan agreement with Egypt before or after the coming parliamentary elections, Reuters reported. However, such an agreement depends on the Egyptian government's willingness to show political consensus and take austerity measures. [Aswat Masriya]

Anti-Morsi 'Rebel' petition collects over 7 million signatures
Organizers of the anti-Morsi ‘Rebel’ campaign announced on Wednesday that the movement has gathered 7,540,535 signatures in support of its goals. The campaign, which officially began on May 1, seeks to collect 15 million signatures by June 30 to register opposition to President Morsi and to demand snap presidential elections. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Ahram Online, Youm7 (Arabic)]

Egyptian court rejects lawsuit to annul constitutional referendum
Egypt’s Administrative Court rejected on Tuesday a lawsuit demanding the annulment of December's constitutional referendum. The lawsuit claimed that the second round of voting for the referendum was unconstitutional because all polling should have taken place on the same day, according to the March 2011 constitutional declaration. [Ahram Online, DNE]
 
LIBYA

Libya assembly head quits after ex-regime ban
The president of Libya's top political body, Mohamed al-Magarief, has resigned his post to comply with a new law banning officials who served under Muammar Gaddafi from holding government jobs. Magarief, who heads Libya's General National Congress, announced his decision on Tuesday, despite his role in toppling the Libyan leader, saying that the law must apply to everyone. [Aljazeera, Bloomberg, Libya Herald, Quryna (Arabic), Press Solidarity (Arabic)]

Congresswomen threaten to boycott Constitution Commission election law vote
Congresswomen are threatening to boycott the vote on a law authorizing the election of a new commission to draw up the new constitution. They are demanding that 35 percent of seats are reserved for women. It was announced a week ago that the draft law was all but ready to be presented to Congress, and the only delay was over the possible allocation of seats for women and other groups. The United Nations echoed the congresswomen’s demands and called on Libya to ensure women actively participate in drafting the new constitution.  [Libya Herald, UN News Centre]

Gunmen attack Libya army patrol in Benghazi
A Libyan soldier was shot dead and three others seriously wounded when gunmen attacked an army patrol in Benghazi late Tuesday, a security official said. [Middle East Online]
 
SYRIA

Syria's paralyzed opposition fails to make progress on peace talks  
A week into talks aimed at presenting a united front on a proposed peace conference, Syria's opposition is more divided than ever, pulled apart by regional power grabs and unpopular with rebels on the ground. Opposition groups in Syria slammed their counterparts in exile for undermining the rebellion and for lacking legitimacy, laying bare chronic divisions among foes of President Bashar al-Assad. [NOW, Reuters, Al Arabiya]

Report: Obama asks Pentagon for Syria no-fly zone plan
The White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by the United States and other countries (such as France and Great Britain), two administration officials told The Daily Beast. For its part the Pentagon says the reported request does not indicate new “military planning.” [Daily Beast, The Hill]

Russia insists Iran join Syria peace conference
Russia said on Tuesday that it was imperative for Iran to join a proposed peace conference on Syria despite reservations from some Western nations. "Iran without question is one of the most important nations," Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying. The target dates for the peace conference has been set for June 15-16 [NOW, Reuters]

Israel warns Russia over Syria arms delivery
Israel has said it will act if Russia delivers anti-aircraft missiles it has promised to its ally Syria, in an apparent allusion to another air raid on the neighboring country. Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon issued his warning on Tuesday shortly after a senior official in Moscow said the Russian government reserved the right to provide Syria with state-of-the-art S-300 air defense missiles. [Al Jazeera]
 
TUNISIA

President will be called before Parliament to face censure vote
The Office of National Constituent Assembly (NCA) today processed a motion of censure that will invite President Moncef Marzouki before the NCA to answer members’ questions and face a vote to remove him from office. The motion is not expected to pass. [Tunisia Live]

Blogger tried in military court for defaming army
A Tunisian blogger is scheduled to appear before a military court today because of an article he published in April criticizing the treatment of a patient at the military hospital in Gabes. He is charged with “undermining the reputation of the army,” “defamation of a public official,” and “disturbing others through public communication networks,” according to human rights advocacy group Amnesty International, which has demanded the charges to be dropped. [Tunisia Live]

Tunisians linked to US embassy attacks receive suspended sentences
Twenty Tunisians accused of attacking the US embassy in Tunisia last September were convicted and handed two-year suspended sentences on Tuesday. The charges, which include committing premeditated attacks organized by an armed gang, stem from events that took place on September 14, 2012. [Tunisia Live]

Tunisian pro-Islamist militia says officials released
A controversial Tunisian pro-Islamist militia said on Sunday that police had released two of its officials arrested at an illegal meeting. On Saturday, police detained Imed Deghij and Mohamed Amine Agrebi, officials from the League for the Protection of the Revolution, and a handful of supporters for several hours. The militia, which the opposition says has ties to the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, denounced the arrests and called for demonstrations in Tunis on June 1. [Ahram Online]
 
YEMEN

Working groups continue field visits, despite recent protest
Following a Herak-organized attempt to disrupt a National Dialogue meeting at a hotel in Aden, today several Dialogue working groups, including the military and security group, met with leaders, locals, and the media in Aden, Abyan, and Lahij provinces as part of field visits to hear about problems in the communities. [Mareb Press (Arabic)]

Yemen confronts rising pressure to divide
A federal state is likely to emerge from the National Dialogue, but it is questionable whether the new constitution will be ratified in a countrywide referendum in November, as Herak—the Southern secessionist party that has largely boycotted the talks—demanded that Yemen be partitioned into the northern and southern states that existed before unification in 1990. Last week, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Aden, chanting anti-unification slogans and waving the secessionist flag. [Wall Street Journal]

Turkey and Yemen proceed with energy partnership
During the first Yemen-Turkey Energy Forum in Sanaa, Yemen and Turkey agreed to develop bilateral cooperation in oil, gas, and mineral sectors and to develop mechanisms to accelerate the establishment of joint ventures between the private sectors of the two countries. [Al-Monitor]

Tawakkul Karman faces criticism
Tawakkul Karman posted comments on her Facebook page calling the Sanaa mayor’s campaign to eradicate stray dogs “a massacre” of innocent animals, prompting criticism that her comments were offensive, especially since residents and officials say the dogs are a threat to public safety. [Yemen Post]
 
RELATED ISSUES

Commentary: European Union Puts Hezbollah on Notice
The United Kingdom has formally requested that the European Union add the military wing of Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organizations. This change of position is likely tied to the group’s involvement in Syria. However, taking a more aggressive approach with Hezbollah could place EU peacekeepers in Lebanon at risk. [Al Monitor]

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