Top News: Anti-ISIS Meeting Kicks Off in Paris

French President Francois Hollande called on Monday for a global response to counter ISIS, as leaders of twenty-six countries gathered in Paris to discuss how to fight against the militant group.Tehran ridiculed the international conference on the jihadist threat that opened in Paris on Monday, insisting the Islamic State cannot be defeated without the support of its ally Damascus. Neither Iran nor Syria were invited to the meeting in the French capital, despite the Damascus government’s involvement in almost daily military action against ISIS



Kerry mobilizes support in Cairo for coalition against Islamic State
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that Egypt has a critical role to play in countering the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham’s (ISIS) ideology. Kerry arrived in Cairo Saturday morning. In a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, Kerry expressed his gratitude for Egypt and the Arab League’s support for the coalition to combat ISIS. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told Kerry that any global coalition against terrorism should battle not just ISIS but other groups as well. Shoukry said that Egypt will work on countering terrorism in the Arab world and Africa, and called for international action to counter ISIS and address threats posed in Libya as well. The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy condemned Kerry’s visit to Cairo, in a statement Sunday. [Aswat Masriya, Guardian, Ahram Online, Reuters, 9/15/2014]

Seven high profile militants killed in Suez security raid
Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said on Sunday that a security campaign by the police and armed forces killed seven alleged members of militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. Security forces also launched raids against militant outposts across Egypt, including in Daqahleya, Minya, Damietta and Northern Sinai, the Egyptian military announced in a statement on Saturday. One militant was killed in a shootout and forty-five militants were arrested, according to the statement. On Friday, one soldier and one police conscript were killed in two separate militant attacks in al-Arish and Suez. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 9/14/2014]

Egypt’s interior minister ‘does not mind amending’ protest law
Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said on Sunday he “does not have any problem” with amending the protest law under which police have arrested thousands since November 2013. He called on the media not to focus on violations committed by the police, saying they are “individual” cases and not a phenomenon. He added, “there is no other government institution that holds its members accountable like we do.” He refuted claims of torture in prisons, saying this kind of information is spread on Muslim Brotherhood websites. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 9/14/2014]

Egypt court orders release of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Nubi, Metwally on bail
A Cairo criminal court has ordered prominent activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (Nubi), and Wael Metwally released on EGP5,000 bail each. The judge presiding over the case also stepped down. The court ordered the footage shown during the last court session be referred to the prosecutor general to investigate those responsible for including it with the evidence. The footage showed irrelevant material, including personal videos of Abdel-Fattah’s family. Although they have been released, they are still appealing the fifteen year prison sentence for violating the protest law. According to Mamdouh Gamal, one of the defendants in the case, Abdel Fattah, Metwally and Nubi remain on hunger strike until the controversial protest law is abolished. The ‘Journalists against the Protest Law’ suspended their hunger strike on Monday until Thursday, following the court’s decision to release the activists on bail. The group called for a meeting on Thursday at the Journalists’ Syndicate to discuss the next move in their campaign against the protest law. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Guardian, 9/15/2014]


Libyan PM accuses Qatar of sending planes with weapons to Tripoli
Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said on Sunday that Qatar had sent three military planes loaded with weapons to a Tripoli airport controlled by an Islamist-leaning armed opposition group. The government had already accused Sudan of similar charges. There was no immediate comment from Qatar. Al-Thinni threatened to cut diplomatic ties with the two countries if they did not stop their alleged interference. Meanwhile, in Benghazi, renegade general Khalifa Haftar has threatened to close the city’s port to cut off arms supplies from reaching Islamists. [Reuters, Libya Herald, 9/14/2014]

Diplomatic delegation from neighboring states meets in Tobruk
Representatives from Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, and Sudan arrived in Tobruk where they met with officials from the House of Representatives. The delegates met with House of Representatives President Ageela Saleh Issa to discuss the most recent developments in the country and to confirm their support for Libya. Speaking from Egypt, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States and Egypt will work closely to support the House in Libya and that the two countries would “push for a peaceful resolution.” [Libya Herald, 9/14/2014]

Libyan parliament dismisses central bank chief
The House of Representatives dismissed the head of the country’s central bank, Saddek Omar Elkaber, who failed to attend a parliamentary session to discuss alleged financial irregularities at the institution. According to reports, his deputy Ali Elherbi has accused al-Kabir of sending funds from General National Congress accounts to the House without adhering to the correct procedures. The central bank has tried to stay out of the political struggle but faces demands from the competing parliaments to approve budget payments. A House spokesman has warned that Sheikh Sadel al-Ghariani also will be dismissed as Grand Mufti in coming days due to his incitement to violence and his biases in the current political crisis. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 9/15/2014]

Many African emigrants die as boat sinks off Libyan coast
A packed boat carrying upwards of 250 African migrants trying to reach European shores sank on Sunday off the Libyan coast and most are feared dead, a spokesman for the Libyan navy said. Only twenty-six people have been rescued so far. According to the Italian government, more than 100,000 migrants have reached the country’s shores this year alone. The UN refugee agency said that nearly 110,000 people have been rescued since January, but at least 1,889 others have died making the perilous crossing. [Reuters, AP, 9/15/2014]


Security Council condemns murder of British aid worker
The UN Security Council on Sunday condemned the “heinous and cowardly murder” of British aid worker David Haines by an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or Islamic State) militant. “This crime is a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers humanitarian personnel face every day in Syria,” the council emphasized in a statement, adopted unanimously by its fifteen members. The Islamic State claimed the beheading of a British aid worker on Saturday, an act slammed as “pure evil” by Prime Minister David Cameron who vowed Britain would do all it could to catch the killers. President Barack Obama offered US support for its “ally in grief,” while Cameron faced growing calls to allow Britain’s military to help in Washington’s planned assault against the rampaging jihadist group. [Al Arabiya, Naharnet, AP, White House, 9/15/2014]

Anti-ISIS meeting kicks off in Paris
French President Francois Hollande called on Monday for a global response to counter ISIS, as leaders of twenty-six countries gathered in Paris to discuss how to fight against the militant group. Hollande was joined by his Iraqi counterpart, President Fuad Masum, who called upon countries worldwide to “stand by the Iraqi people. “His Iraqi counterpart, President Fuad Masum, who called upon countries worldwide to “stand by the Iraqi people,” joined Hollande. Tehran ridiculed an international conference on the jihadist threat that opened in Paris on Monday, insisting the Islamic State cannot be defeated without the support of its ally Damascus. Neither Iran nor Syria were invited to the meeting in the French capital, despite the Damascus government’s involvement in almost daily military action against ISIS. The United States will not coordinate air attacks on Islamic State militants with Syria but will seek to ensure their forces do not come into conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview aired Sunday. [Al Arabiya, Naharnet, AFP/Naharnet, 9/15/2014]

Syrian opposition to reorganize forces, seeks arms not training
The head of the main Western-backed Syrian opposition movement was in the United Arab Emirates Sunday seeking support for the group’s war-battered rebel fighters, which he said will be reorganized to fight better. Defections and divisions have marred the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Syrian National Coalition leader Hadi Bahra said a plan is in place to revamp the FSA and bring these fighters more effectively under the political leadership of his group. “The plan, which we have put together, is built on reorganizing and restructuring the forces of the FSA under the central command and control leadership of the SNC,” he said. Ammar al-Wawi, a commander in the FSA, however, worries that international assistance may arrive too late under the $500 million US plan to arm and equip the rebels. “We don’t really need more training. And we have enough soldiers. What we need are quality weapons.” But the administration has resisted providing powerful weapons requested by the rebels such as surface-to-air missiles due to fears they could be captured or used against US interests. [AP, AFP/Naharnet, Reuters, 9/15/2014]

Rebels seize most of Syrian side of Golan truce line as regime and Kurds hit ISIS
Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and its allies launched a major offensive against government forces in Qunaitira province last month, capturing the sole crossing point over the armistice line to the Israeli-occupied sector of the strategic plateau. “The regime is on the retreat before the advancing rebels,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said. “The regime has now lost control of about 80 percent of towns and villages in Qunaitira province.” Members of the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units, or YPK, have also captured about fourteen villages, at least ten in the Hassakeh province, according to Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria’s powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party. The Syrian air force carried out strikes on an ISIS training base in Deir Ezzor province on Saturday, killing eight of its militants, the Observatory said. More than 40 IS jihadists were wounded in the raids, it added. [AFP/Naharnet, AP, 9/15/2014]


ISIE issues broadcasting regulations for legislative candidates
The Independent Higher Authority for the Election (ISIE) released, Sunday, its official broadcasting guidelines, for both television and radio, ahead of the legislative campaign season. ISIE officials announced that registration for television appearances would continue through the month of September to accommodate all candidates. Once the registration period closes, official broadcasts of the candidates’ official statements will be released by on national television and radio networks on October 4. [All Africa, 9/14/2014]

Bouteflika signs economic cooperation deal.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika signed a presidential decree ratifying the financial protocol between Algeria and Tunisia, completed on May 4 in Algiers. The ratification includes a deposit agreement between the Bank of Algeria and the Tunisian Central Bank, estimated at one-hundred million US Dollars. The presidential decree confirms the first of three financial cooperation agreements signed during Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa’s visit to Algeria earlier this year. [TAP, 9/14/2014]

Security officials apprehend a high priority terrorism suspect
Interior Ministry Spokesman Mohamed Ali Laroui announced on Sunday that security forces had arrested a high level terrorist along the Algeria-Tunisia border. The minister added that the terrorism suspect is a Tunisian national who has been under the scrutiny of the interior ministry and security forces for some time. Security officials indicated that the suspect’s picture had been published but his name was yet to be released. [TAP, 9/14/201]


EU denounces challenges to transition in Yemen
The European Union issued a press release Monday denouncing any attempts to halt the political transfer in Yemen on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy. Entitled “Sharing Youth in the Democratic Process,” the release said, “Today, and while we are seeking to engage Yemenis, especially youth, to pursue the democracy as unavoidable approach, all political forces must put their narrow interests away.” The document reiterated the EU’s support for Yemen’s democratic transition. Also on Monday, President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi met with British Special Envoy to Yemen Sir Alan Duncan. They discussed Britain’s support for Yemen’s transition at all levels of government and the necessity of a strong commitment to the implementation of the National Dialogue Conference outcomes. [SABA (Arabic), 9/15/2014]

Central Bank of Yemen reports loss of oil revenues due to pipeline attacks
An official report stated that Yemen’s oil revenues from the period of January to July 2014 were $1.079 billion, a $481 million decrease from the corresponding period last year. According to a report issued by the Central Bank of Yemen, attacks on pipelines in Marib put the government’s share in crude at 9.8 million barrels, down 4.6 million barrels from the corresponding period in 2013. The central bank also blamed the attacks for a decrease in domestic consumption by three million barrels to 11 million barrels in 2014, spurring the government to import more than $1.4 billion in foreign oil. [SABA (Arabic), 9/14/2014]

UN Advisor Benomar launches new peace effort; Hadi meets with Hezyaz officials
UN Special Advisor on Yemen Jamal Benomar undertook efforts to launch a new peace initiative between the government and Houthi fighters in light of escalating clashes. Benomar met with President Hadi, Prime Minister Mohammad Salem Basendwah, Houthi representatives, and G-10 ambassadors in Sana’a. He released a statement late Saturday, saying, “Senior officials from the Yemeni Government and representatives of Ansarullah (Houthis) discussed the points of disagreement with the objective of reaching a viable political agreement that would enjoy national consensus as soon as possible in order to achieve security and stability.” In related news, President Hadi met with local leaders from Hezyaz to call for calm in the southern Sana’a district, which has seen escalated clashes between government and Houthi forces in the past week. This came after the G-10 blamed the Houthis for the escalation of violence in Yemen’s capital on Saturday. [SABA, 9/13/2014]


Splinter group breaks from al Qaeda in North Africa
A new armed group calling itself the Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria has split from al Qaeda’s North African branch and sworn loyalty to the radical breakaway group, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). This recent breakaway signals deepening rivalry between al Qaeda’s core command and its regional affiliates  over leadership of the transnational Islamist militancy. The Algerian splinter group is the latest to side with ISIS leadership as al-Qaeda’s aging chieftain Ayman al-Zawahiri, attempts to shore up external support and appeal from younger militants, such as those fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. [Reuters, 9/14/2014]

Several Arab countries offer to join air campaign on Islamic State, say US officials
Several Arab countries have offered to join the United States in air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) targets, US officials said on Sunday. The addition of Arab fighter jets could strengthen the credibility of the US-led campaign in a region skeptical of how far Washington will commit to a conflict in which nearly every regional country holds a considerable stake. US officials declined to identify which countries made the offers but indicated that some countries had shown a willingness to expand the airstrikes outside Iraq. [Reuters, 9/14/2014]

Politicians urge ailing Bouteflika to resign
The main challenger to Algeria’s president in the last election joined a coalition of opposition figures and former ministers calling for the country’s ailing leader to step down, according to a statement published Thursday. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, seventy-seven, won re-election in May to a fourth term by a landslide despite hardly appearing during the campaign. Two other former prime ministers, members of a once banned Islamist party, and a number of prominent academics joined the opposition’s petition. [The Daily Star, 9/11/2014]

Qatar expels Muslim Brotherhood senior leaders
The Qatari government has requested that several senior Muslim Brotherhood officials leave the country in what some analysts have deemed an attempt to ease tensions with its GCC neighbors. At least seven members are expected to leave the country for Turkey, including Mahmoud Hussain, the Brotherhood’s secretary-general, Amr Daraj, a senior official in the group’s Freedom and Justice Party, and Wajdi Ghoneim, a controversial cleric. Egypt, whose previous extradition requests to Doha were refused, may renew their pursuit of several of these officials. [Gulf News, 9/14/2014]