Top News: At Least Thirty-Nine Killed In Rebel-Jihadist Clashes in Aleppo Province

 At least thirty-nine fighters were killed on Wednesday in fierce clashes between Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that the “clashes ended with the jihadist group taking control of six villages in Aleppo province.”





Two killed as Morsi supporters mark Raba’a anniversary dispersal
Egyptian security forces firing tear gas quashed small, scattered demonstrations on Thursday by Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi who tried to commemorate the anniversary of the killing of hundreds of protesters. The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said two people died Thursday in Giza ‘s Mohandessin neighbourhood. Ministry of Interior spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said “no deaths had occurred” so far. People have taken to protest in various parts throughout the country in response to calls by the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) for protests described by the Ministry of Interior as “not peaceful.” The FJP said on its official page that “revolutionaries” have blocked several roads, including major roads throughout the country. Security forces have intensified their presence around the capital in anticipation of protests by Morsi supporters. [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, 8/13/2014]

Human Rights Watch report lacks objectivity, says June 30 fact finding committee
Egypt’s June 30 fact finding committee criticized the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Raba’a report on Wednesday, saying it ignored “crucial” events.The committee asserted that it is more objective and has a deeper understanding of the situation than HRW. It added that it will evaluate the information included in the HRW report by virtue of being the “most impartial” and the “keenest” party on not issuing verdicts “prematurely” while investigations are still ongoing. Journalist Maged Atef accused HRW of manipulating his testimony in the report. Tamarod called the report neutral. Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Social Democratic party criticized the report and demanded more objectivity. [Mada Masr, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic), Al-Ahram (Arabic), 8/13/2014]

Egypt’s legislative reform committee holds first meeting
A supreme legislative reform committee held its first meeting Thursday, led by Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab. Mahlab announced that the committee will begin its work by focusing on economic reform and that the first law to be examined will be Egypt’s investment law. Mahlab also said that laws relating to national security will be of top priority for the committee. Minister of Transitional Justice Ibrahim Henadi said that the committee will also focus on anti-terrorism laws. He added that Egypt’s cabinet has approved the committee’s budget and that the committee will meet twice a week, while subcommittees will form separate schedules. The committee was formed by a presidential decree in June to prepare, research, and study the needed decisions and draft laws that should be issued to comply with the country’s new constitution passed in January 2014. [Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic) ,Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 8/14/2014]

Obama renews support for Egypt’s Gaza mediation
President Barack Obama late Wednesday discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ongoing negotiations mediated by Egypt to reach common ground for a ceasefire, according to a statement issued by the White House. Obama renewed his support for Egyptian efforts to achieve a “sustainable ceasefire agreement,” said the statement. Meanwhile, Palestinian and Israeli delegations, talking through Egyptian mediators in Cairo, were locked in talks on Wednesday night as the end of a 72-hour ceasefire approached. The delegations agreed to extend the Gaza truce by five days, minutes before the earlier ceasefire was set to expire. The Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that the ceasefire was extended to provide more time to continue ongoing indirect negotiations taking place in Cairo to reach a “lasting and comprehensive peace agreement.” Despite an exchange of fire, the truce has held, fanning cautious optimism of progress in the indirect negotiations underway in Cairo. [Ahram Online, AP, SIS, The Guardian, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 8/14/2014


Black refugees become Libyan militia slaves
Sub-Saharan refugees are increasingly being taken hostage by militias and are forced to carry weapons, munitions, and supplies to the front line, Habeshia’s director Don Mussie Zerai said Wednesday. Habeshia has for years been working with refugees, migrants, and the victims of human trafficking that reach the Mediterranean coast after a journey across Africa. Habeshia underscored that it had denounced the trend to the international community in late July and early August, requesting urgent intervention from the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, but to no avail. [ANSAmed, 8/13/2014]

Libya plans to resume exports from its largest oil port next week
Libya’s state-owned National Oil Corporation plans to restart exports at the Es Sider port next week after a one-year interruption. The first 600,000 barrels cargo could start loading as early as August 18 for a departure the next day. The news, which comes after shipments restarted this week from another key terminal, Ras Lanuf, shows Libyan oil exports are set to gain momentum after a slower-than-expected restart. On July 1, rebels who had occupied Ras Lanuf and Es Sider in Eastern Libya for nearly a year agreed to let oil exports resume after a deal with the central government. [WSJ, 8/13/2014]

Libyan parliament disbands officially recognized and funded militias
The House of Representatives (HoR) passed a law today disbanding all officially recognized and funded militias formed after the 2011 February revolution, including Joint Operations Rooms. The law was voted for by 102 out of 104 Representatives and must be implemented no later than December 31, 2014. On the earlier law passed to call for international help, Ali Saedy, Representative for Wadi Shatti said that “no one listened to calls for a ceasefire. We were forced into this law.” [Libya Herald, 8/13/2014]

Ansar increases presence at Benina checkpoint as criticism of Saiqa mounts
Benghazi residents have expressed worry about Ansar al-Sharia forces now deployed at a checkpoint within striking distance of Benina airbase—one of the Islamists’ latest gains on the heels of heavy clashes over the last few weeks. The Saiqa special forces’ presence in and around Benghazi is now practically limited to Benina airport, and many prominent brigade members are operating out of the town of Tobruk. An official within Operation Dignity, the campaign led by rogue general Khalifa Haftar, indicated that the Saiqa forces face internal challenges, having been “infiltrated” by thugs and drug users. [Libya Herald, 8/13/2014]


At least thirty-nine killed in rebel-jihadist clashes in Aleppo province
At least thirty-nine fighters were killed on Wednesday in fierce clashes between Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that the “clashes ended with the jihadist group taking control of six villages in Aleppo province.” Separately, Assad’s forces backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah took almost full control of a town just outside Damascus from Islamist rebels on Thursday. Syrian state television also reported progress for government forces in the town of Mleiha that lies on the edge of the eastern Ghouta region near Damascus airport. [Al Arabiya, 8/14/2014]

Snowden claims NSA knocked all of Syria’s internet offline
Edward Snowden has claimed that a team of NSA hackers was responsible for effectively knocking the entire country of Syria offline two years ago during a period of intense fighting. Snowden’s claimed that this information is significant because many observers believed one of several other parties to be responsible for the outage. [Time, 8/14/2014]

Spain and Morocco break up jihadist recruitment network
Moroccan police in collaboration with Spanish authorities have broken up a network suspected of recruiting fighters and sending them to Iraq and Syria to fight along with the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The authorities arrested nine people who were all Moroccan citizens, some with strong ties to Spain, and were suspected of running operations out of the cities of Fnideq, Tetouan, and Fez. [Reuters, 8/14/2014]

EU looking at how to stop ISIS from selling oil
The European Union is looking into how it could tighten sanctions to stop the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants from selling oil. The issue could be discussed at an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers called for Friday to address the humanitarian and security crisis in Iraq. ISIS is selling crude oil and gasoline to finance their newly declared caliphate after seizing oil fields in both Iraq and Syria. [Reuters, 8/14/2014]


Draft law to fight violence against women on national women’s day
As Tunisia celebrates national women’s day in the wake of new progressive constitution, the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) held a conference on the drafting of a law to fight violence against women. National women’s day marks the fifty-eighth anniversary of the Code of Personal Status, enacted on August 13, 1956. This series of laws is deemed one of the most progressive laws in the region in ensuring women’s rights and institutionalizing equality between men and women. “Today, there are differences between what the law says and its practical application,” NCA member Nabil Chaabane said. “This draft law aims to make women treated equally in front of law.” [Tunisia Live, 8/13/2014]

Tunisia suspends 157 associations outside legal process
The Tunisian government’s suspension of more than 150 organizations across the country for alleged links to terrorism was disproportionate and arbitrary. The authorities ordered the associations to cease their activities in the wake of an attack by armed men on July 16 that killed fifteen government soldiers near Tunisia’s border with Algeria. “The Tunisian authorities have good reason to fight terrorism, but they shouldn’t be trampling on rights protected by the constitution and the law and bypassing the judiciary,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. [HRW, 8/13/2014]

Delivery of helmets and bulletproof vests from US forces
This morning, August 14, Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou thanked the United States for its assistance to Tunisia in the fight against terrorism. A number of helmets and body armor were delivered to Tunisia today. The material was presented to the media today. Last week at an Atlantic Council event, President Marzouki made an urgent plea for more assistance, specifically communications equipment, training, and helicopters, from the United States to fight Tunisia’s terrorism threat. [Mosaique FM, 8/14/2014]

Germany funds projects to underpin transitional justice, election process
Agreements which provide financing for projects to “support the operationalization of transitional justice” and “the electoral process” in Tunisia are expected to be inked, on Friday, by the Embassy of Germany and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). [TAP, 8/13/2014]


Al-Qaeda kills nine, injures thirty-four others in Lahj
Eight people were killed and thirty-four were injured by a terrorist attack in Lahj on Wednesday after suspected al-Qaeda militants detonated a bomb by the Aden-Lahj Highway. On Thursday, al-Qaeda religious affairs chief in Yemen praised Islamic State jihadists for their “victories in Iraq” but did not pledge allegiance to their self-proclaimed “caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. [ReutersSaba, 8/13/2014]

Fighting kills fifteen in Jawf
Fighting between Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to the Islamist Islah party killed fifteen people in Jawf on Wednesday. In an interview with Al Maseera newspaper on Wednesday, Houthi rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi threatened to use arms against the state if the government does not reduce oil prices. Tension between Houthi rebels and the state remain high. On Thursday, the presidential mediation committee tasked with brokering a peace agreement with the Houthis announced its withdrawal from Jawf stating that Houthi rebels did not show commitment to implementing the terms of a ceasefire agreement. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 8/13/2014]

Friends of Yemen to meet on September 24 in New York
A government source announced that the eighth Friends of Yemen meeting will take place on September 24 in New York on the sideline of the United Nations General Assembly meetings. President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi is expected to attend the meetings. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 8/14/2014]


United States says rescue mission for Iraq’s Yazidis less likely
A US mission to evacuate Iraqi civilians stranded on a Mount Sinjar by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) fighters is far less likely after a US assessment team visited the area. The US team sent on Wednesday found that the humanitarian situation is not as grave as expected, according to the Pentagon. The Pentagon credited the better-than-expected situation on airdrops of aid, US airstrikes, and efforts of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. [Reuters, 8/14/2014]

Turkey gives refuge to Yazidis fleeing Iraq
Turkey is providing refuge to some 2,000 members of Iraq’s Yazidi community who have fled the deadly advance of Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), officials said Thursday. The refugees are given meals three times a day and are undergoing regular health screenings. The Turkish officials are only accepting refugees from Iraq who possess passports, a policy which has caused some families to be separated. [AFP, 8/14/2014]

Saudi Arabia donates millions to UN Counterterrorism Center
Saudi Arabia has donated $100 million Wednesday to the UN Counter-Terrorism Center body that coordinates international counterterrorism efforts. The money would go to countries with emerging terrorist activity that cannot afford counterterrorism technology or have not set it as a priority. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, declared, “The goal is to help provide the tools, technologies and methods to confront and eliminate the threat of terrorism.” [Washington Post, 8/14/2014]

United States to deliver aid to Lebanese army
US ambassador to Lebanon David Hale announced on Thursday that the US would deliver urgent aid to the Lebanese army within a few weeks, which will continue in the months to follow. The ambassador pointed out that the deal will include ammunition and ordinance for offensive and defensive combat. [Naharnet, 8/14/2014]