Top News: Celebration in Tahrir as Sisi Wins Presidency

Egypt’s Presidential Elections Commission has declared former military chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi Egypt’s new president, confirming that he won 96.91 percent of the votes in the May election. Sisi’s sole contender, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, took a modest 3.9 percent, the total of which were surpassed by invalid votes. Voter turnout was at 47.5 percent. 



Thousands celebrate in Tahrir as Sisi wins presidential race with 96.91 percent
Egypt’s Presidential Elections Commission has declared former military chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi Egypt’s new president, confirming that he won 96.91 percent of the votes in the May election. Sisi’s sole contender, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, took a modest 3.9 percent, the total of which were surpassed by invalid votes. Voter turnout was at 47.5 percent. Sisi will be sworn in as the country’s president on June 8, the Supreme Constitutional Court said. The Egyptian government, headed by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, will convene on Sunday to submit its resignation following Sisi’s oath. Thousands packed into Tahrir Square and Heliopolis to celebrate Sisi’s official victory, while Morsi supporters rallied in Kafr al-Sheikh and Minya against the announcement. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Mada Masr, AP, 6/4/2014]

Saudi king calls for donors conference to aid Egypt
Saudi Arabia has called for a donor conference to assist Egypt as the Gulf’s Arab superpower seeks to muster regional support for its vital regional ally against what it regards as the threat of political Islam. King Abdullah said any country that did not contribute to Egypt’s future would “have no future place among us.” [AFP/Ahram Online, Reuters, Saudi Gazette, FT, 6/3/2014]

White House looks forward to working with Sisi, urges reform
The United States said on Wednesday it looked forward to working with former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as Egypt’s president but expressed concerns about the “restrictive political environment” in which he was elected. A White House statement reiterated US concerns about limits on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression and pressed the government to ensure such rights were given to all Egyptians. The United States was, however, pleased that international observers were allowed to participate, the statement said, adding, “the Presidential Electoral Commission administered the election professionally and in line with Egyptian laws,” and that “balloting proceeded in a calm and peaceful manner.” [Ahram Online, AP, Reuters, Mada Masr, 6/4/2014]

EU election observation mission defends objectivity
The European Union Election Observation Mission released a statement on Tuesday defending their earlier report on Egypt’s 2014 presidential elections and describing their role as a “fact-based and independent assessment of the entire electoral process.” According to Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Egypt, Mario David, observers do not interfere in any way in the electoral process, including not offering advice or assistance during the process. “The EU EOM does not legitimize the electoral process, nor does it validate the election results. EU election observers are bound by a code of conduct that ensures their neutrality and impartiality,” the statement added. In related news, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said reports of international missions that monitored the elections should focus on “the electoral process itself, not on other political issues, unrelated to the elections.”[Mada Masr, DNE, 6/3/2014]


Rogue Libyan general survives assassination attempt
Retired general Khalifa Haftar, who is leading an armed campaign to rid Libya of Islamists, has survived an assassination attempt in Benghazi. A suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives to Haftar’s compound, less than a mile from his home. There are conflicting reports as to whether the general was wounded in the attack, which killed three people and wounded at least four, according to military officials. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, although it bore the hallmarks of Islamic militants targeted by Haftar’s offensive. [AP, Reuters, Libya Herald, 6/4/2014]

Legislators accuse Haftar of a coup
A group of General National Congress (GNC) members have accused retired general Khalifa Haftar of attempting a coup. There were not enough legislators at Tuesday’s session to hold a full debate on the situation in Benghazi. However, following the meeting, sixteen of them from the Justice and Construction Party and the Wafa bloc said in a televised statement that Haftar’s “Operation Dignity” in Benghazi is a military coup meant to destabilize the state. They reaffirmed the legality of the government of Ahmed Maiteg, a matter on which the Supreme Court is due to rule. At a press conference, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said he would be ready to hand power to Maiteg in a week or two, stressing however that for the moment, his government remains in charge of managing state affairs. Gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at Maiteg’s office on Wednesday. No one was hurt, and Maiteg was not there at the time of the incident. [Libya Herald, 6/3/2014]

UN refugee agency considers Tunisian camps for fleeing Libyans
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Tunisia has confirmed that it is in talks with the Tunisian government about re-establishing refugee camps to cope with any mass flight from Libya. Unofficial reports have suggested that plans to re-open Choucha, one of the camps set up during the Libyan revolution, are under active discussion. A UNHCR spokesman said the organization is closely monitoring the situation in Libya and exploring possible response with Tunisian authorities. [Libya Herald, 6/4/2014]

Libyan-Egyptian border crossing reopens
The Libyan-Egypt border crossing has reopened after a two-week closure to permit the import of foodstuffs, construction materials, and other products into Libya. Following the launch of retired general Khalifa Haftar’s offensive last month, Egyptian officials cited concerns of arms smuggling and jihadist movement as reasons to close the border crossing. The reopening has come as a surprise, especially because of Egypt’s recent announcement that six of its border guards were killed in fighting with smugglers near the Libyan border and its issuance of a travel warning for its citizens. Meanwhile, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz is in Cairo – his third trip there in just over a month – to discuss Egypt signaling its support for caretaker Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and helping to resolve the crisis in Benghazi. [Libya Herald, 6/3/2014]


Former envoy says he could no longer defend US policy on Syria
Recently retired US Syria envoy Robert Ford told CNN Tuesday that he resigned because he could not defend US policy on Syria. “I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend American policy… We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict in terms of the fighting… and the balance on the ground, and we have a growing extremism threat,” said Ford, who resigned in March after a three decade diplomatic career. There is “nothing we can point to that has been very successful to in our policy except the removal of about 93 percent of some of Assad’s chemicals, but now he is using chlorine gas against his opponents.” In a separate interview Tuesday with PBS, Ford also cast doubt on whether the increased efforts mentioned by President Obama in his recent West Point speech would be enough. “It’s not clear to me yet if they are prepared to ramp up [assistance] in a such a way that would be meaningful on the ground, and that’s what matters.” [Al Monitor, 6/4/2014]

Iran claims victory with Assad’s anticipated reelection
Bashar al-Assad’s chief ally, Iran, trumpeted his anticipated reelection as a defeat for the United States. Top Iranian officials in recent days have issued a flurry of declarations celebrating not only the affirmation of Assad’s continued hold on power that the election represents but also Iran’s role in sustaining him. Iran dispatched a team of monitors to observe the voting, part of an extensive effort to mirror failed US policies in Syria with initiatives asserting ownership of the crisis. “Foreign powers should give up their illusions about fulfilling their personal desires and strategies through military methods in Syria,” Iran’s foreign minister told a Friends of Syria conference in Tehran over the weekend. The choice of name seemed intended as a deliberate jab at the US-backed Friends of Syria alliance created to support the Syrian opposition. “They should admit that there is no way to solve the crisis of Syria other than the willpower of the Syrian people, which will be shown at the ballot box.” [Washington Post, 6/4/2014]

Turkey lists al-Nusra Front as terrorist organization
Turkey has listed al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon, as a terrorist organization, in a sign that Ankara’s concerns are growing over the rise of radicals across its 560-mile southern border. Al-Nusra was listed as a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012. Several other countries, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as the United Nations, also recognize it as a terrorist organization. Rights groups have accused the al-Nusra Front of committing war crimes against civilians in Syria, including executions and hostage taking. Al-Nusra was put on the list of “organizations that are affiliated with al-Qaeda” with an update made yesterday to an appendix of a Cabinet motion originally published in the Official Gazette on Sept. 30, 2013, involving the freezing of assets of individuals and organizations listed by the United Nations Security Council. [Hurriyet, 6/3/2014]


Fourteen from Ansar al-Sharia arrested in Gafsa
National Guard Units arrested fourteen individuals, tied to the banned Ansar al-Sharia militant group, who formed a brigade named Abu Bakr Seddik. Interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Laroui said that the group was “planning terrorist attacks against sensitive and vital structures.” The ministry’s spokesman also said the suspects were brought before the Tunis prosecutor, noting that investigations continue at the Central Unit of the National Guard in al-Aouina, specializing in terrorist crimes. [TAP, 6/3/2014]

United States signs $500 million loan guarantee agreement with Tunisia
Yesterday, the United States and Tunisia signed the loan guarantee agreement allowing Tunisia access to $500 million in affordable financing from international capital markets. This loan guarantee is intended to support Tunisia in its continued economic reforms as part of a successful democratic transition. The United States has stated commitment to this goal, providing $400 million in assistance since 2011 and a previous $485 million loan guarantee in 2012. The previous loan guarantee assisted Tunisia in accessing global capital markets for the first time since 2007. [All Africa, 6/3/2014]

Mobile health service to be launched shortly
The ministry of health is introducing a new mobile health service, to be released in the coming days. The service will send SMS promoting health and health education by encouraging citizens to communicate with health professionals remotely. Citizens will be able to access the information provided by specialists free of charge. This project is sponsored by the ministry of health, the World Health Organization, and the International Organization of Technologies of Geneva, in conjunction with local telecommunication operators. Under the constitution, Tunisia provides free health care service, both preventative health care and treatment, for citizens with limited income. This program should expand access to and education about these services. [TAP, 6/3/2014]


House of Representatives approve constitutional amendment
In its thirty-second meeting, the Yemeni House of Representatives passed an amendment to Article 126 of the constitution increasing the number of the Shura Council from 111 to 221 members. The amendment goes into effect two months after the date of approval. The council postponed a vote on Kuwait’s loan agreement of $60 million to support the economic and social development of Yemen and to meet the growing demand for technical education. [Saba (Arabic), 6/4/2014]

Arrangements underway to implement changes in government
A government adviser states that, in accordance with negotiations during the national dialogue, arrangements are underway to implement cabinet reshuffle. He continued saying that parliament was an illegitimate source of authority that does not have the right to legislate since its legitimacy was suspended by the Gulf initiative. [Mareb Press (Arabic), 6/4/2014]

Houthis take strategic location in Hamedan
Tribal sources stated that government security forces handed over a strategic location in the Hamedan directorate located northwest of the capital Sana’a to Houthi insurgents. The location enables militants to cut off military supplies to troops in Mount Deyn in the Amran governorate. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 6/4/2014]

Decree appointing officials in Sana’a and Ibb province
National decree No. 91, 2014 was issued appointing Aidh Abdul Hameed al-Shameri as undersecretary of Sana’a for municipal and environment sector, Khalid Saleh al-Abeidi as assistant undersecretary for municipal and environment sector, and Abdu Haeel Shaef Fare’a as assistant undersecretary of Ibb province for Financial and Administrative affairs. [Saba (Arabic), 6/4/2014]

Deadly attacks and shelling hit Iraq
Deadly blasts have caused the death of at least thirty-three Iraqis in a new wave of bombings. The main targets included civilians, police stations, and a market in the city of Fallujah. The worst of the bloodshed was concentrated in Fallujah, which has been under the control of anti-government fighters since the beginning of the year. Figures separately compiled by the United Nations and the government in Baghdad showed that more than 900 people were killed last month alone. [Al Jazeera, 6/4/2014]

Saudi king hails Sisi’s election win
Saudi King Abdullah congratulated Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on winning the presidential election, describing it as a “historic day,” and vowed to continue support for the Arab world’s most populous country. The king said that Egyptians will face a challenging time on the road to gaining unity and must be able to “tolerate all difficulties and stumbles and become supporters of their President after God’s help.” He warned other countries from interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs, stating that any outside interference is against “Islam and Arabism and at the same time [will be] considered an infringement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” [Al Arabiya, 6/4/2014]

Refugee influx raises Jordan’s population by 10 percent
Without further commitment from the international community, it will not be easy for Jordan to handle the burden of hosting more than 1.3 million Syrians, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Tuesday. This increase in population is placing strong pressures on Jordan’s economy. The economic aspects that are being affected the most are public finances and the trade deficit. In addition to the decline in the economy, the influx of refugees has also had a profound impact on the education sector, in particular on public schools, according to the planning ministry. [Jordan Times, 6/3/2014]