Top News: Anonymous Yemeni Security Official Says the Government Will Treat Houthis Like Al-Qaeda

A security official said, on the condition of anonymity, “the Houthis are like al-Qaeda in their use of arms and use of violence against… and will thus be dealt with as a terrorist group if they continue in their refusal to hand over heavy weapons.” The official went even further, saying that Houthis are more dangerous than al-Qaeda because of the fact that they do—unlike al-Qaeda—possess heavy weapons like tanks and armored vehicles. Al-Quds al-Arabi additionally learned from local sources that the local military brigades in Amran, where fighting between the Houthis and the military continue to escalate, have been given a “green light” to halt further Houthi advances. [Mareb Press (Arabic), 5/30/2014]



Egypt’s Sisi says he seeks true national partnership
Egypt’s next president, former military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, told a Kuwaiti news website that he will not allow a return to the autocracy of the past during his term.In his first public comments since the election, Sisi told Al-Jarida website that he would fight until he “fulfills the priorities of security and stability,” pledging not to exclude anyone when appointed president. The retired field marshal had previously said he would “finish off” the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsi if he were to become president. In a bid to allay such fears, Sisi promised “no going back [to the past days]. We will move forward. We have no time for differences and engaging in battles.” “We seek a real national partnership that satisfies all Egyptians and placates and contains the youth,” he added. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 5/30/2014]

Egypt detains alleged Al Jazeera journalist
Egyptian authorities have ordered the detention of a female journalist who they allege works for the Al Jazeera network, pending investigations on allegations of airing false news about Egypt. State news agency MENA reported that Rasha Gafaar, an employee of Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, was arrested on Wednesday at an apartment in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, where she was broadcasting videos directly for the network’s Egyptian channel. Print materials inciting against the army and some carrying the Rabaa sign—a symbol of sympathy for supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi—were allegedly seized with her. She will be detained for fifteen days while the charges against her are investigated. [Ahram Online, 5/30/2014]

Egypt central bank keeps interest rates on hold
Egypt’s central bank left key interest rates unchanged on Thursday, a day after Egyptians voted to elect former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as president, as it tries to balance growth and inflation pressures. The central bank kept the overnight deposit rate and the overnight lending rate at 8.25 percent and 9.25 percent, respectively, it said in a statement on Thursday. [Aswat Masriya, 5/29/2014]

UK calls for inclusive governance from Egypt’s new president
The British government has described the Egyptian presidential election as important step towards a democratic transition in Egypt. However, officials refused to comment on the unofficial results, which indicate a landslide victory for former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. “The Egyptian election is important for the process of the democratic transition and return to forming an elected government in Egypt,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said. The UK says the new president faces a lot of future challenges, including bringing long-term stability, which “will be achieved only through inclusive governance which represents all parties.” The UK is calling for a “full and functioning democracy in all its aspects, including an independent judiciary, a vibrant civil society and a free media” in Egypt. [Ahram Online 5/30/2014]


Rival cabinets meet in Libya political chaos
Libya’s contested new cabinet convened for the first time Thursday, defying the outgoing administration, which refuses to hand over power and held its own session. A source in new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteg’s office said his team met in a Tripoli luxury hotel. The incoming team’s agenda covered security issues and ministerial programs, according to sources. The seat of government is still occupied by the outgoing cabinet, which said it also met Thursday. Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said the Russian charge d’affaires had confirmed Moscow’s support for his government. [AFP, 5/29/2014]

Weapons stored on university campus, Haftar warns
Khalifa Haftar’s forces have warned students at Benghazi University not to attend classes, saying the campus is now being used by Islamists to store weapons and ammunition. A Haftar campaign spokesperson expressed concern that Islamist groups might try to use the students to protect them, adding that the Islamist groups being targeted by Operation Dignity are capable of anything. The spokesperson also confirmed that special operations continue to be carried out in Benghazi. A senior member of the university management insisted it was “a normal day” at the university, although one student said there were very few students in attendance. [Libya Herald, 5/29/2014]

Next consultative ministerial meeting of Libya’s neighbors to be held in Tunisia
The ministerial consultative meeting of Libya’s neighboring countries, held this week in Algiers on the sidelines of the ministerial conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, decided to convene its next meeting in Tunisia. Meeting participants discussed the regional impact of the latest developments in Libya and examined ways to support Libya to overcome the crisis. The meeting, chaired by Algeria, was attended by the foreign affairs ministers of Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Niger, as well as the secretary general of the Arab League, its envoy in Libya, and the president of the African Union Commission. In a joint statement the ministers expressed their full solidarity with the Libyan people and called on all stakeholders in Libya to stop violence and maintain dialogue to meet the legitimate demands of the Libyan people. [TAP, 5/29/2014]

Jordan tells citizens to leave Libya
In response to the deteriorating security situation in Libya and a week after warning against travel to conflict zones there, Jordan’s foreign ministry urged its citizens in the country to leave as soon as possible. The Philippine embassy in Tripoli has also responded to the crisis by raising the alert level and encouraging its citizens to leave Libya voluntarily as soon as possible, pledging to bear the repatriation cost. [Libya Herald, 5/30/2014]


Air raids on Aleppo kill 2,000 civilians in 2014, sixty-five since Monday
Barrel bombings and other Syrian government air raids on rebel districts of Aleppo and surrounding areas have killed 1,963 civilians since January, including 567 children, a monitoring group said Friday. A total of 283 women were also among those confirmed killed in the air strikes. This week, barrel bombs killed at least fifty-eight civilians on Tuesday and Wednesday, including fifteen children, while seven civilians were killed on Monday. [Naharnet, 5/30/2014]

ISIS executes fifteen in Kurdish village, including seven children
An al-Qaeda renegade group killed fifteen Kurdish people, seven of them children, in an attack on a village in northern Syria, a monitoring group and a photographer at the scene said on Friday.
The attack took place on Thursday near the Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain after militants stormed a village. Ras al-Ain, 375 miles from Damascus, is part of the northeastern oil-producing province of Hasaka, home to many of the million-strong Syrian Kurdish minority. [Reuters, 5/30/2014]

UN council mulls authorizing cross-border aid access
UN Security Council members are considering a draft resolution to authorize cross-border aid deliveries into Syria at four points without government consent, diplomats said on Thursday, after an earlier council demand for greater access was ignored. Council members Australia, Luxembourg, and Jordan have drafted the new resolution that would authorize deliveries into Syria at specific points from Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. “Ninety percent of the aid goes to government held areas, it’s not getting to Syrians in zones which are controlled by the opposition,” the Australian UN ambassador said. The draft text is under Chapter VII, diplomats said, which would make it legally binding and enforceable with military action or other coercive measures such as economic sanctions. The February resolution was binding, but not enforceable. [Reuters, 5/30/2014]

Assad expels aid groups as Syria starves
As the humanitarian situation inside Syria grows more desperate, a prominent NGO reveals that the government has banned it from Damascus in retaliation for giving food and water to rebel-controlled areas. The aid situation in Syria reached a desperate new low in May, with reports of government forces starving the residents of Homs to force a ceasefire, and with the NGO Mercy Corps revealing last week that the Assad regime had kicked its workers out of Damascus in retaliation for the group’s work in rebel-controlled areas. The United Nations has also publicly admitted that it has been threatened with imminent expulsion from the capital if it seeks to deliver aid elsewhere in the war-torn country. [Daily Beast, 5/29/2014]


Growth slows to 2.2 percent in first quarter
Tunisia’s growth slowed to 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with 2.7 percent in the same period a year earlier due to a slowdown in most sectors. The inflation rate stood at 5.2 percent in May on year-on-year basis, against 5 percent the previous month. In addition, by the end of April, the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) dropped 14.9 percent in comparison with 2013, and 26.4 percent in comparison with 2012. Economic revival is a priority for the Jomaa government and essential for Tunisia’s transition to democracy. [TAP, Reuters, 5/29/2014]

Government to undertake preventive measures following terrorist attack
The National Security Council convened on Thursday to discuss the terrorist attack on the home of Interior Minister Lofti Ben Jeddou. As a result of the meeting, a number of security and legal preventive measures were undertaken in order to further Tunisia’s counter-terrorism efforts. The meeting also focused on the security situation in Libya and the possible repercussions to Tunisian stability and security of a massive inflow of Libyan refugees. [TAP, 5/29/2014]  

Morocco and Tunisia express resolve to boost economic relations
At the opening of the Tunisian-Moroccan economic forum, both Moroccan and Tunisian representatives expressed a desire to boost economic exchanges between the two countries. Leaders discussed increasing cooperation in order to generate more growth, reduce unemployment, and meet social aspirations. [Moroccan World News, 5/29/2014]


Yemen, UNDP sign seven funding agreements worth over $ 17.9 million
The United Nations Development Programme signed seven financing agreements with Yemen on Thursday worth more than $17.9 million, $12 million of which is earmarked toward addressing the humanitarian situation in areas adversely affected by armed conflicts as well as supporting transitional justice. Another $0.9 million is going to support efforts to address the effects of climate change in Yemen. Finally, $0.9 million will go toward bolstering non-governmental organizations assisting needy populations in the country. [Saba, 5/29/2014]

Tribesmen erect barriers between Hodeidah and Sana’a
Haraz tribesmen erected roadblocks between Hodeidah and Sana’a provinces due to a lack of answers regarding the deaths of their kinsmen in the capital. The tribesmen gave the government two weeks to complete an investigation into the deaths of five people killed by soldiers designated to presidential protection. The government at first claimed they were members of al-Qaeda, but has since backed away from those statements, saying the incident was a mistake. Mediation efforts were being led by a an MP, who reportedly gave his car to the tribesmen as collateral in exchange for allowing certain fuel trucks to pass their barriers. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 5/29/2014]

Yemen restarts main oil export pipeline after repairs
Yemen has resumed crude oil flows on Friday after repairs to its main export pipeline following an attack by tribesmen this month, an industry source said. On May 15, tribesmen in the central Maarib province blew up the pipeline, which carries around 70,000-110,000 bpd of Marib light crude to an export terminal on the Red Sea. Frequent attacks on the crude pipeline have cost Yemen around $400 million in lost revenue in the first quarter of 2014, the ministry said on its website. The government relies on crude exports to bolster foreign currency reserves and finance up to seventy percent of government spending. [Al-Arabiya, 5/30/2014]


UN urges Lebanon to elect new president
The UN Security Council expressed “disappointment and concern” Thursday that an election of a new Lebanese president has not occurred and demanded that polls be held without delay. Over the past two months, Lebanon’s parliament convened five times to try to elect a successor to President Michel Sleiman but failed each time due to a lack of quorum. Lebanon’s political paralysis is mainly due to a deep rift between two rival camps: Lebanon’s Hezbollah faction backs Syria’s regime, while the March 14 bloc largely backs the uprising next door. [AFP, 5/30/2014]

Gulf women among Forbes’ 100 most powerful women
Four women from the Gulf have made the Forbes 100 most powerful women list for 2014, which was released this week. The UAE’s Sheikha Lubna al-Qasimi was ranked 55th and was the first woman to assume a Cabinet position in the UAE, having joined as Minister of Economy in 2004. Emirati business woman Fatima al-Jabbir, chairperson of the Emirates Business Women Council also made the list along with Saudi businesswoman Lubna Olayan and Maysa al-Thani of Qatar [Al-Arabiya, 5/30/2014]