Top News: American Journalist Deported from Yemen as Official Warns “Others Next”

Adam Baron, one of only two foreign journalists with press visas in the country, was forced to leave the country on Thursday. Baron was contacted on Monday regarding an error with his paperwork, but when he went to get it resolved he was held until he agreed to leave the country. Baron says the only reason he was given was that he was “no longer welcome in Yemen.”  According to Yemeni officials, Baron frequently was seen travelling around the capital in Sana’a for reasons not related to his work, and due to a recent flare in attacks on foreign authorities feared for his safety and refused to release him unless he agreed to leave the country. However, an associate of Baron who felt threatened, was told, “Other journalists are next.” [Buzzfeed, 5/8/2014]



Obama nominates ambassadors for key Egypt and Iraq posts
President Barack Obama said on Thursday he would nominate two career diplomats with extensive experience in the Middle East as ambassadors to Egypt and Iraq. Robert Stephen Beecroft, who has been US ambassador in Baghdad since 2012, was nominated for the Cairo post, the White House said. US ties with Egypt, a key Middle East ally, have been strained since the Egyptian army’s ouster of an elected president last year. US officials disclosed on Wednesday that the administration planned to nominate Beecroft. [Reuters, AP, 5/8/2014]

Tamarod refuses to meet with US embassy delegation
A spokesman for the Tamarod movement said that the group had refused to meet with a delegation from the American embassy in Egypt. Mahmoud Badr, one of the founders of the movement, said on Thursday on his official Twitter account that the newly appointed US ambassador to Egypt, Robert Stephen Beecroft, had asked to meet with the movement. “We refused the ambassador’s request and asked him to improve US relations with Egypt, Syria, and the Arab countries instead,” Badr tweeted. On Friday, Tamarod spokesman Mohamed Nabawy confirmed that US diplomats have tried to meet with representatives of the group several times since the ouster of Morsi, but the movement has always refused. [Ahram Online, 5/9/2014]

Sabbahi addresses supporters following Friday prayers
Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi addressed his supporters following prayers at the Ibrahim Dosouqi Mosque in Kafr al-Sheikh. In his brief remarks he asserted that the coming days are “bright for the oppressed and dark for oppressor” in Egypt. He drew on his working class roots saying that he is “the son of the Egyptian farmer, the hunter, worker, and simple employee.” Sabbahi’s remarks come just two days after he gave a televised interview in which he distinguished himself from his opponent by saying that he would pardon those imprisoned under the protest law and that the “The Armed Forces are the people’s property.” [AMAY (Arabic), 5/9/2014]

Egypt’s annual inflation eases to 9.1 percent in April
Annual inflation in Egypt fell to 9.1 percent in April from 10.2 percent in March. Despite slowing annual inflation, monthly inflation is increasing. Monthly inflation rose by 0.6 percent. This was mainly driven by a 0.7 percent price hike in basic food products, including fish, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Prices for clothing and footwear, another contributor to headline inflation change, went up 3.2 percent. [Ahram Online, 5/8/2014]


Libya says committed to rebel deal, hopes two more ports to reopen
Libya’s government is committed to implementing an agreement with rebels to end the occupation of the eastern ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, Justice Minister Salah Marghani said on Thursday, a day after rebel leaders accused Tripoli of not fulfilling its part of a deal to reopen the terminals. Libya’s oil output has shrunk to around 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.4 million bpd since protests at oil facilities began, depriving the government of its main source of revenue. Marghani acknowledged there was “administrative slowness” in implementing the deal but said that was no reason for concern. The government was committed to its obligations, such as paying salaries to the rebels being reintegrated into a government force from which they had defected. [Reuters, 5/8/2014]

The constitution will represent all Libyans, including women, says Tarhuni
Speaking very briefly today at a UN-organized workshop on empowering Libyan women, Ali Tarhuni, head of the Constitutional Committee, assured the overwhelmingly female audience that they will be part of the process. Tarhuni assured leading female activists and NGOs, saying, “you are half of this society and you fought hard to be within it.” He stressed the Constitutional Committee’s independence, trying to allay fears that the body is becoming dominated by a certain political tendency or may fall into the hands of the Islamists, who currently dominate the General National Congress. [Libya Herald, 5/8/2014]

Italy supportive of Libya but country needs cabinet, says Italian FM
Speaking to a state broadcasting service, Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said on Friday that ”we can guarantee our support to the Libyans, but also clearly state that they have the responsibility of giving the country a government.” Mogherini emphasized that Libya needs ”a government worthy of this name, with which we are ready to cooperate and work even more.” Italy trains Libyan soldiers as part of an effort to create a General Purpose Force, but more is needed, according to the foreign minister, who noted “it is necessary to rebuild a state that was never there.” [ANSAmed, 5/9/2014]

Revolutionary heroine survives assassination attempt in Benghazi
Gunmen have attempted to kill Najia Muhammad al-Taib, regarded in Benghazi as one of the heroines of the 2011 revolution. She organized volunteers to clean the Corniche and Tahrir Square, which was the emotional epicenter of the uprising. She was rushed to a hospital after being shot in a drive-by shooting and is currently in stable condition. Earlier, gunmen also attacked a police station in the city. In other news of violence, two bombs went off in Derna, one at a mosque and another on a university campus, causing damage to the buildings but no casualties. Islamists are suspected of being behind them. [Libya Herald, 5/8/2014]


United States slaps sanctions on Russia’s Tempbank for Syria
The United States on Thursday for the first time slapped sanctions on a Russian bank for its dealings with the Syrian government. The US Treasury put Tempbank, a Moscow-based bank, on its list of sanctioned entities, which effectively cuts the bank off from the US financial system. The Treasury also put sanctions on an official in the bank, Mikhail Gagloev, six Syrian government officials and two Syrian refinery companies, Banias and Homs. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has been using Russian banks to access world markets, but the United States had in the past resisted imposing sanctions on the banks, despite pressure to do so from US lawmakers. [Reuters, 5/8/2014]

Saudis call off Arab League Syria talks
Saudi Arabia has urged the indefinite postponement of an Arab League meeting on Syria that Riyadh itself called, the group’s deputy chief Ahmed Ben Helli said on Friday. The meeting of foreign ministers was originally called for Monday by Riyadh, which backs rebels in the conflict, to discuss “steps that need to be taken to deal with the Syrian tragedy.” However, the Saudis have now indefinitely postponed what was originally billed as an emergency gathering that they were going to host without saying why, and no new date has been set for it. [Naharnet, 5/9/2014]

Red Cross seeks more access to Aleppo, besieged Damascus areas
The Red Cross appealed on Thursday for greater access to civilians in rebel-held and besieged areas where the humanitarian situation is “catastrophic,” particularly in the divided northern city of Aleppo and in suburbs of Damascus. Basic services and infrastructure in Syria are near collapse and the economy is at a standstill after three years of conflict, with millions dependent on food and medical supplies that are not reaching the most desperate. “The scale of the conflict is unprecedented, and the stark truth is that there is no end in sight,” the head of Near and Middle East operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross said. [Reuters, 5/8/2014]

One killed as Syrian jets hit Turkish aid trucks
A Turkish charity said on Friday one person was killed and two hurt near the Syrian city of Aleppo when Syrian warplanes hit two trucks carrying aid on its behalf. Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) said that trucks carrying flour and blankets were caught in the middle of an air campaign late Thursday by the Syrian Air Force targeting rebel strongholds in the divided city. [The Daily Star, 5/9/2014]


Marzouki offers apologies of state to torture victims
On Thursday, President Moncef Marzouki offered the “apologies of the Tunisian State” to the victims of torture over the last fifty years as well as to their families. Chairing a ceremony on National Day against Torture, Marzouki urged civil society to show vigilance so that the State finds no justifications for practices detrimental to human dignity. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez praised the progress made by post-Revolution Tunisia in its fight against torture. He notably spoke of its adoption of the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture, the setting up of a torture prevention mechanism and the creation of the Truth and Dignity Authority. [All Africa, 5/8/2014]

State of emergency in Delegation of Southern Douz
President Moncef Marzouki declared the state of emergency in the delegation of Southern Douz (governorate of Kebili) from May 8 to 22.The decision was made following the dangerous escalation of the security situation in the city of Douz. The Governor of Kebili decreed a curfew in the delegation of southern Douz as of Thursday. The state of emergency is in response to clashes a week ago between the inhabitants of Ghlissia and western Douz where over 150 persons were wounded. The dispute is over land ownership in the locality of Toual al-Hadhalil, where an oil company is planning to carry out oil drilling and prospecting works. [All Africa, 5/9/2014]

Court releases Ben Ali-era interior minister
A Tunisian court acquitted Rafik Belhaj Kacem, who served as interior minister under ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after three years of detention. Kacem, appointed by Ben Ali in 2004, was acquitted on Thursday of corruption charges for which he had been held pending investigations. Kacem was arrested in the wake of Ben Ali’s 2011 ouster on charges of killing anti-government protesters in the city of Sidi Bouzid, where the spark of the “Arab Spring” uprisings first ignited. His three year sentence angered the families of slain protesters and activists who believed the verdict was too light. [World Bulletin, 5/9/2014]


Yemen to build 5,000 low-income housing units
Yemen plans to build 5,000 housing units for low-income families under a new public-private partnership, which aims to reduce the cost of constructing residential units. Under the agreement, the private sector will be asked to participate in their construction. All the raw materials required to build the units are available in Yemen, and there is “an abundance of labor” in addition to local financing, said the head of the planning ministry’s private sector partnerships unit. Yemen needs to construct two million units to meet its housing requirements, he said, half of which are needed by the military sector. [Al-Shorfa, 5/9/2014]

Defeating AQAP requires reform; Defense Minister survives assassination attempt
Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi stated that Yemen’s battle against terrorism requires an “integrated strategy,” adding that this is a war that cannot be won through military force alone. He said that Sana’a must seek to carry out broad-ranging reforms and find solutions to unemployment and poverty. Al-Qirbi added that it might take years to defeat al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Yemen’s Defense Minister was the target of an assassination attempt in Shabwa when gunmen opened fire on his convoy, although he and his entourage survived the attack. AQAP is believed to have been behind the attack, and tensions are high amid fears that the group is planning reprisals in major population centers, like this morning’s bombing in Sana’a, for the recent defeat and ouster from strongholds in the south. [Asharq al-Awsat, 5/9/2014]

Government reports loses due to pipeline sabotage, as Mareb sheikh killed in capital
Yemen has lost $ 383 million during the first quarter of 2014 due to the sabotage attacks on oil pipeline, an official report said. Accordingly, Yemen’s revenues from the value of exports decreased during the first quarter of 2014 to $ 348 million compared to about $ 731 million during the corresponding period of the last year, with a decline of $ 383 million. Much of the pipeline sabotages and obstructions have occurred in Mareb and Hadramawt provinces. The conflict with Mareb tribes may be exacerbated amid conflicting reports on the possible killing of a Sheikh and his entourage in Sana’a. Soldiers linked to the incident allege that the dead were AQAP suspects. [Saba News, 5/9/22014]


Iraq resumes US training program in Jordan, requests US drone operators
A US official confirmed that elite training of Iraqi Special Forces would resume in an effort to bolster support for Iraq’s fight against transnational jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The United States has also committed to providing Iraq with sophisticated weaponry like Apache helicopters to facilitate counterterror operations. The Iraqi government is also requesting armed combat drones to assist in said missions, even to the point of requesting US drone operators to return to Iraq and conduct said missions on the government’s behalf. [Ammon News, 5/8/2014]

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood holds emergency meeting to discuss Zamzam split
The Muslim Brotherhood’s shura council convened in an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss a “growing rift” over the expulsion of three group members for their affiliation with another initiative. Insiders say the expulsion of Gharaibeh, Dheisat and Kofahi—former leading members of the Brotherhood’s liberal wing—by the conservative-dominated leadership has sparked a growing divide which threatens drive a schism into the heart of the Kingdom’s largest opposition group. The Zamzam initiative, which has attracted over 800 members, is a pro-reform political coalition comprising leading figures from across the political spectrum seeking a “consensus” over the country’s democratic reform process. [The Jordan Times, 5/8/2014]

UN praises Algeria for appointing seven female ministers
A regional branch of UN Women praised Algeria’s government for appointing seven female ministers to its cabinet, calling the move “historical” and a “role model” for neighboring Arab countries. The seven women were appointed after a cabinet reshuffle, following Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika’s reelection. A new law passed in 2012 by Algeria’s government stipulated a quota system for women’s participation in parliament, a change that the United Nations hailed as opening up opportunities for more than one hundred women in the political field. [Ahram Online, 5/8/2014]

Lebanon issues new entry rules for Palestinians from Syria
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Thursday issued new, stricter requirements for Palestinians from Syria entering Lebanon, prompting a human rights group to urge the government to continue allowing in all refugees and avoid further deportations. The new rules state that Palestinian refugees from Syria must now possess one of three Lebanese documents: an entry permit approved by the General Directorate of General Security, a residency of one to three years, or an exit and return permit. Those who want to travel through Beirut’s airport may do so as long as they have the necessary documents or visas required by the third country. Human Rights Watch voiced concern that it would impose onerous burdens on refugees and wanted the government to pledge not to deport any more Palestinians back to Syria. [The Daily Star, 5/9/2014]