Algeria has agreed to offer support in the form of training to the Libyan military and police to empower the country to secure its borders. Algeria is eager to assist Libya with this matter as they are concerned about the ability of al-Qaeda to move throughout the region with impunity given the “deteriorating security situation” in Libya. Other cooperative efforts include counter-insurgency, anti-smuggling, and intelligence assistance. [World Tribune, 1/10/2014]



Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Shafik interested in running for Egyptian presidency
Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, said in a television interview broadcast on Thursday that he would run for president if the army chief does not contest elections.”I believe now I will run for the presidency,” Shafik told Al Qahira Wil Nas television, adding that he would compete if army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stayed out of the race that is expected later this year. While the general public is in favor of holding presidential elections first, both Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, the Salafi Nour Party, and the April 6 Movement have come out in favor of holding parliamentary elections first. The Strong Egypt Party, however, said it was too early to determine, saying the decision should be made after the referendum. [Reuters, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), Egypt Independent, 1/9/2014]

More than 160,000 soldiers to secure constitutional referendum
Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy’s cabinet reviewed its preparations for the upcoming constitutional referendum. In a press conference on Thursday, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said the ministry has developed an “intensive plan”, in collaboration with the armed forces, to secure polling stations nationwide. More than 160,000 soldiers and army conscripts will secure the referendum. The security measures would encompass the voters, the judges and employees overseeing the voting process, members of civil society organizations monitoring the polling process and domestic and foreign journalists covering it. Democracy International is the largest international mission observing the elections and will be observing and monitoring in twenty-three out of the twenty-seven governorates, after observers have been extensively briefed. Ibrahim warned that any attempt to “stall the referendum or prevent citizens from casting their votes would be handled with unprecedented force and firmness.” He promised that the two-day referendum would run smoothly and safely and called on citizens to participate in the referendum, adding that it would “launch Egypt as a civilian, democratic state.” [DNE, 1/10/2014]

Finance Ministry says cabinet borrows EGP 17.5 billion from banks this week
The ministry of finance said that the cabinet borrowed EGP 17.5 billion ($2.5 billion) from banks this week through bonds and treasury bills. According to data issued by the ministry, the cabinet borrowed EGP 5 billion last Sunday in treasury bills. This included bills worth EGP 2 billion for 91 days, the average return of which was 10.3 percent. It also borrowed bills worth EGP 3 billion for 273 days with an average yield of 10.9 percent. On Monday, the ministry offered bonds worth EGP 6 billion. It included zero bonds equal to EGP 2 billion for 1.5 years, bonds worth EGP 2 billion for 5 years, and bonds equal to about EGP 2 billion for 10 years. On Thursday, the ministry offered treasury bills with various terms and worth EGP 6.5 billion. [Egypt Independent, 1/10/2014]

Egypt arrests American on charges of attacking police stations
Egyptian airport authorities have arrested an Egyptian-born American who belongs to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood on charges of taking part in violence against the state, security sources said on Thursday. The man, identified as forty-seven-year-old Khaled Mahmoud Migahid, is accused of burning police stations, said the security sources. His name was on a list of people prohibited from leaving the country. [Reuters, 1/10/2014]


US to start training Libyan soldiers at midyear
The top US military commander for Africa says the Pentagon plans to begin training 5,000 to 8,000 Libyan soldiers by midyear to help bolster Libya’s security. General David Rodriguez said the US is planning a twenty-four-week training program as part of a broader international effort to restore security in the country and region in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution that overthrew Muammar Qaddafi. Rodriguez said his biggest concern as he looks at insurgent activity across northern and eastern Africa is the prospect of another massive attack like the siege at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in September 2013. He said US efforts are aimed at working with the United Nations, the African Union, and other international groups to help bolster the military abilities of nations across the continent. [AP, 1/9/2014]

Tebu Sarir demonstrators deny presence of former Petroleum Facilities Guard members
Tebu demonstrators on the Kufra-Ajdabiya road have denied claims that there are former members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) among them. Reports surfaced on Tuesday that Tebu protestors at the Sarir Power Station had previously belonged to the PFG. Activists have vigorously denied this, insisting that demonstrators are civilians, members of civil society organizations, and students. A local cleric and resident said that Tebus would continue to demonstrate at Sarir because Kufra was in dire need of basic services and a solution to ongoing security problems, which the Tripoli government has neglected. [Libya Herald, 1/9/2014]

History will not record that I abandoned the nation, says Zidan
With small, continued demonstrations calling for Prime Minister Ali Zidan and his government to resign, and pressure mounting on the General National Congress (GNC) to vote it out, Zidan made a strong attempt to justify his government remaining in power. Speaking with his ministers at a televised press conference that lasted about two hours, Zidan said he has asked the GNC to select a successor prime minister, as he will not leave the country “in an executive vacuum.” Defending the government’s record, Zidan listed his administration’s successes, pointing to the national ID Number, which is now being used for the constitutional committee elections and for new biometric passports. Zidan also cited that his government had “started in establishing an army.” [Libya Herald, 1/9/2014]


US considers resuming nonlethal aid to opposition
The Obama administration is considering the resumption of non-lethal military aid to Syria’s moderate opposition, senior administration officials said on Thursday, even if some of it ends up going to the Islamist groups that are allied with the moderates. The United States suspended the shipments last month after warehouses of equipment were seized by the Islamic Front, a coalition of Islamist fighters that broke with the American-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and has become an increasingly vital force in the nearly three-year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. But as a result of the rapidly shifting alliances within Syria’s fractured opposition, some of the Islamists fought alongside the FSA in recent battles against a major rebel group affiliated with al-Qaeda, which has claimed 500 lives over the last week, including eighty-five civilians. The push-back against the transnational jihadists has eased American qualms about resuming the aid, the officials said, and restoring the aid would send a message of American support at a time when opposition groups are threatening to boycott the Geneva 2 peace talks later this month. [NYT, 1/10/2014]

Assad’s forces kill dozens of rebels in besieged Homs
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed dozens of rebel fighters who tried to break an army siege of the central city of Homs. State media quoted a military source as saying army units “confronted armed terrorist groups” trying to get into the Khaldiya neighborhood north of the besieged rebel area in the Old City in the heart of Homs this week. Thirty-seven rebels were killed by the army, SANA said, without giving a figure for losses among Assad’s forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least forty-five rebels were surrounded and killed as they left the old city on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Assad’s forces have surrounded rebels for more than a year in Homs, a center of the uprising. They have also pushed back rebel forces from nearby rural areas which had formed part of their supply lines from neighboring Lebanon and allowed the rebels to challenge control of the main highway linking Damascus to Homs. [Reuters, 1/10/2014]

Militants said to recruit visiting Americans to attack US targets
Islamic extremist groups with ties to al-Qaeda are trying to identify, recruit and train Americans and other Westerners who have traveled there to get them to carry out attacks when they return home, according to senior US intelligence and counterterrorism officials. These efforts, which the officials say are in the early stages, are the latest challenge that the conflict in Syria has created, not just for Europe but for the United States, as the civil war has become a magnet for Westerners seeking to fight with the rebels against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. At least seventy Americans have either traveled to Syria, or tried to, since the civil war started three years ago, according to the intelligence and counterterrorism officials—a figure that has not previously been disclosed. The director of the FBI, James B. Comey, said Thursday that tracking Americans who have returned from Syria had become one of the bureau’s highest counterterrorism priorities. [NYT, 1/10/2014]


Protests continue Thursday and the vehicle tax is suspended
Protests around the country continued into Thursday in response to the new vehicle tax. On Wednesday night, a police station in Sidi Bouzid was set on fire. In addition, in Tataouine, on Thursday, a ban on public displays sparked more protests resulting in the burning down of a police station. The military was deployed throughout the country in order to protect government personnel and restore order. The ministry of the interior issued a condemnation of the destruction of police stations, national guard posts and sovereign institution while emphasizing the right to peaceful protests. Thursday afternoon, Larayedh announced the suspension of the vehicle tax at a press conference. While the protests were in response to the new vehicle tax, they were also in response to the general economic situation in Tunisia. [Tunisia Live, 1/9/2014]

Jomaa to form new cabinet to oversee elections
Mehdi Jomaa, the caretaker premier who replaced Prime Minister Larayedh yesterday following his resignation, will be tasked with forming a new, non-partisan cabinet in the next fifteen days that will oversee the upcoming elections. Jomaa is considered a political novice, having begun his political career in March 2013 and pursued a career in engineering in the private sector. There are concerns that his lack of political experience will make dealing with the two of the biggest problems facing Tunisia, growing social unrest and the threat of jihadist violence, all the more challenging. [Ahram Online, 1/10/2014]

Tunisia MPs support equal opportunity for women in the public sector
On Thursday, the National Constituent Assembly approved article forty-five of the constitution which guarantees equal opportunity in public office regardless of gender. It also declares that the state seeks to ensure parity in numbers between men and women in elected bodies. Article 45 is regarded as significant progress for women’s rights. Only half of the Islamist party Ennahda’s delegates voted in favor of the article. This vote follows the approval of article 20 earlier this week which guarantees that female and male citizens have the same rights and are regarded as equal before the law. [Al Arabiya, 1/10/2014]

Military forces shell terrorists in Mount Chaambi
Military forces shelled terrorist hideouts in Mount Chaambi on Thursday. The Army used heavy artillery from both the air and land in order to target the hideouts. According to a spokesperson for the ministry of defense, the shelling was part of surveillance and control operations aimed at targeting suspicious movements in the area. Shelling of terrorists in Mount Chaambi occurred on Sunday as well. [TAP, 1/10/2014]


New Southern Movement members in the NDC determined to move dialogue forward
Following two weeks of negotiations, numerous representatives at Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) have signed the ‘Just Solution’ document regarding the southern issue, most notably representatives of the former ruling party, the General People’s Congress (GPC). New additions to the talks included members of the Hirak movement and other southern voices that had previously abandoned the dialogue. Though all parties admit that tough work remains ahead, the new additions to the talks appear to have injected a sense of optimism to the southern issue. [Yemen Times, 1/10/2014]

Hadi Advisor says Houthis are a threat to power in Yemen
Fares Saqqaf, an advisor to President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi, has told reporters that he believes that the Houthi have become a parallel authority in contradiction to the state of Yemen. Saqqaf went as far to say that the Houthis pose a threat Yemen’s capital city in Sana’a, however that Hadi was aware of the danger posed by Houthis and that with the coming fruition of the transition process, “everything is under control.” [Sahafah (Arabic), 1/10/2014]

OCHA releases latest Humanitarian Bulletin for Yemen
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has released a bulletin with a comprehensive overview of the numerous humanitarian issues confronting Yemen for 2014. OCHA estimates that $591 million is required for various relief efforts for the coming year, a figure that is 16 percent lower than the needs projected for 2013, a budget that’s fiscal needs were only half met. The primary concerns spelled out by OCHA is the failing infrastructure in the north due to ongoing conflicts, high levels of food insecurity across Yemen though particularly in the central governorates, and Yemen’s longstanding failure to improve their ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. [ReliefWeb, 1/10/2014]

Yemen announces raising state security alert; Bomb discovered in south Sana’a
The interior ministry has raised Yemen’s state security alert, tightening security measures in place at military installations, banks and government institutions in the capital of Sana’a. The news comes after an explosive device was found and destroyed in a restaurant in the south of the city next to a popular gas station used for buses and taxis. An investigation is underway to determine and detain the perpetrators. [Al Masdar (Arabic), Al Masdar (Arabic); 1/10/2014]


EU grants Jordan forty million euros for Syrian refugee crisis
The European Union will grant Jordan forty million euros to alleviate Jordan’s strain of dealing with the influx of Syrian refugees. Thirty million is earmarked for education to cover costs of 2,400 additional teachers and 80,000 new text books. The final ten million is set to facilitate the improvement of wastewater services to host communities in Jordan. [Ansa Med, 1/10/2014]

US defense official visits Lebanon, emphasizes commitment to prevent spillover
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy, Dr. Matthew Spence, visited Lebanon this week to highlight the US commitment to Lebanon, in particular to the Lebanese Army and to preventing the spillover of the Syrian conflict.Spence met with a range of political and military leaders, including President Michel Suleiman, Army Commander Jean Qahwaji, and Army Chief of Staff Major General Walid Salman. US assistance to Lebanon since 2005 totals more than one billion dollars. This assistance focuses on strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Army and supporting its missions to secure the borders and defend the sovereignty of the state. [Naharnet, 1/10/2014]