Top News: Saudis Align Themselves With Yemeni Internal Forces Against Houthis

According to an anonymous Yemeni official, Saudi Arabia will put its support behind Yemeni tribes to counter the rapid rise of the Houthis.

The source reported that the Saudis will provide resources to local sheikhs in an effort to curb the expansion of Houthi forces, naming the Hashid tribe in particular. According to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Yemen’s “cycle of violence and conflict will spread to undoubtedly threaten security and stability at the regional and international levels,” and said that resources must be devoted to extinguishing this dangerous threat. Yemeni Foreign Minister Jamal al-Salaal blamed the associates of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis for the country’s violence on Wednesday.




Morsi absent from jailbreak trial ‘for security reasons’
The Cairo Criminal Court postponed on Wednesday the trial of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and 130 others for escaping from the Wadi al-Natroun prison to October 18. Sources said that Morsi would not attend the session due to security concerns. The court had mandated the prosecution during the previous session to ask general intelligence and military intelligence whether the incident — sneaking through the state’s eastern borders during the uprising — was recorded on video. The defense team’s Mohamed Damati said the videos would reveal whether Hamas members did indeed infiltrate the borders to help the prisoners escape. [Aswat Masriya, 10/1/2014]

Pro-Morsi alliance condemns Istiqlal Party dissolution
The Pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy condemned on Tuesday the dissolution of the Islamist Istiqlal Party, describing it as “retaliation against the January 25 Revolution.” The alliance said the decision is an extension of the policies of the “failed coup as well its judiciary, media, and police,” in attempt to counter any revolutionary mobilization by parties or groups. The statement also claimed that the verdict is unlawful, arguing that the court that issued the statement is not specialized in the affairs of political parties. State media reported that the party was ordered to be dissolved on Monday by the Cairo Urgent Matters Court on the grounds of “terrorism” and inciting violence. However, the party denied on Tuesday that it is banned, adding that it will continue its activities. “The party does not seek its legitimacy from courts.” [DNE, 10/1/2014]

Over 2,000 residents forced from homes, denied work on Suez Canal project
Egypt’s Suez Canal Project has displaced over 2,000 longtime residents living by the planned course of the new megaproject.  According to lawyers for the displaced, well over 1,000 residential units have been torn down and their agricultural lands confiscated in villages just east of the central part of the Suez Canal. No monetary compensation has been paid for the demolitions, nor has alternate housing been provided, although state officials have pledged allotted plots of empty land, amounting to 150 square meters per family. Displaced families have been told that they will be repatriated in villages around 130 kilometers northeast of Cairo. Evicted residents are also being denied work opportunities in the New Suez Canal Project, due to unspecified security concerns. [Mada Masr, 10/1/2014]

Egypt secures $1.4 billion in loans from banks to repay foreign oil firms
A consortium of banks signed a LE10 billion ($1.4 billion) loan agreement with Egypt’s petroleum sector on Wednesday, state-run news agency MENA reported. The loan, granted by the National Bank of Egypt (NBE), Commercial International Bank (CIB), the Arab African Bank, and Qatar National Bank (QNB), will be used to repay some of Egypt’s debt to foreign oil companies. It consists of a LE6 billion loan in the local currency to be repaid over five years, including a one-year grace period, and $550 million (LE4 billion) loan in US dollars to be repaid over four years with a one-year grace period, according to NBE chairman Hisham Okasha. Egypt plans to repay between $2-3 billion of its $6 billion debt to foreign firms by the end of the year. [Ahram Online, 10/1/2014]


Egypt offers military training to Libya, citing Islamic State threat
In the latest sign of intervention by competing Arab powers in Libya, Egypt has offered to train pro-government forces battling rival armed groups in the neighboring country. Egyptian military officials and representatives of pro-government Libyan forces have met several times over the past two months. According to an intelligence official, “intelligence and training” assistance were on the table. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for decisive action against militants based in Libya, which Egypt says sneak across the border to help Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis jihadists attack Egyptian security forces in the Sinai. [Reuters, 10/1/2014]

Islamist-allied militias reject UN-brokered talks
Islamist-allied militias in control of Tripoli, as well as Libya’s top religious body, rejected UN-led peace talks, following the first round of negotiations held in an effort to bridge the gap between warring groups. Operation Libya Dawn, affiliated with the Misratan militias, said on its Facebook page Tuesday that the only way to end the fighting is to disarm its rivals and hunt down their leaders. Shortly after, the Dar al-Ifta body, led by Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadik al-Ghariani and in charge of issuing religious edicts, demanded the suspension of talks with Tobruk-based parliamentarians. [AP, 9/30/2014]

Clashes continue in Sebha despite ceasefire
Fighting between members of the Awlad Suleiman and the Qaddadfa tribes has continued overnight in Sebha despite a ceasefire agreed to by both sides. The twenty-day truce, mediated by town elders and those from other tribes and nearby areas, had included the removal of all heavy weapons from the streets and a commitment to dialogue to resolve differences. According to a local, thirteen people have been killed since fighting reignited three days ago. The fighting has affected services, with banks and petrol stations staying closed as a result. [Libya Herald, 10/1/2014]

Protesters in eastern Libya close second oilfield, seize company plane
Protesters blocking Libya’s Abu Attifel oilfield closed another field, blocked a road, and seized a company plane, according to a security official and an activist. Local residents who demand jobs have closed the oilfield, a joint venture between Italy’s ENI and Libya’s state oil company, for a year. Protesters have now also closed another nearby field, lowering oil output by 25,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 900,000 bpd. The National Oil Corporation had been aiming for a milestone output of one million bpd by the end of September. [Reuters, 9/30/2014]


Blasts in Homs kill eighteen, mostly children
Twin car bombs exploded in the central Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday killing at least eighteen people, mostly children, and wounded forty others. Britain based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported similar casualties in the Akrameh neighborhood of Homs after militants detonated two bombs near a school and hospital. The neighborhood is home to a majority of Alawites, and has been subject to multiple attacks by militant groups aimed at deposing the Assad regime. [Naharnet, 10/1/2014]

ISIS warns of expansion into southern Syria in Deraa
The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) on Tuesday announced its planned expansion into Deraa, in southern Syria, demanding cooperation from other rebel groups and threatening those that stand in its way. The statement highlighted growing alarm among moderates and their western and Gulf backers, as well as within the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra, over the rising power of ISIS and its attempts to extend its influence in the south. Estimates from some moderate rebel sources indicate that ISIS has fewer than seventy-five fighters in the vast area between Damascus and the border with Jordan, but the threat of further encroachment has forced the Nusra Front to shore up its efforts to secure its current territory. [The National, 10/1/2014]

Turkey says ISIS encircling Shah Tomb; Erdogan seeks military authorization
Turkey on Tuesday said more than 1,000 ISIS militants were advancing on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, a tiny exclave considered Turkish territory in northern Syria, but insisted it was still in control of the land despite reports its three dozen guards there were encircled. The Turkish government on Tuesday said it has asked parliament for a broad authorization for military action in Iraq and Syria to halt the advance of ISIS. On Wednesday, PM Erdogan opened the parliamentary session emphasizing his willingness to fight ISIS amid the broader goal of toppling the regime in Damascus. “We will fight effectively against both [ISIS] and all other terrorist organizations within the region; this will always be our priority. We will continue to prioritize our aim to remove the Syrian regime, to help protect the territorial integrity of Syria and to encourage a constitutional, parliamentary government system which embraces all citizens.” [Naharnet, 9/30/2014]


Central bank lowers 2014 growth forecast as unemployment and inflation rises
The Tunisian central bank on Tuesday lowered its growth forecast for 2014 amid growing budget and trade deficits. Estimates released by the Bank’s board of directors indicated a trade deficit of 22.7 percent, or 9.4 billion Tunisian dinars in August from a drop in exports by 0.6 percent and an increase in imports of 6.2 percent. This in turn widened of the budget deficit, which now stood at 6.6 percent of GDP during the first eight months of the year, up from 5.3 percent during the same period the previous year. The Tunisian economy has experienced rising double-digit unemployment and inflation as the government attempts to reign in public spending by trimming the state budget and cutting subsidies. [Asharq al Awsat, 10/1/2014]

ISIE president calls for a review of the electoral law, cites possible fraud
President of the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) Chafik Sarsar called for a review of the election law on Tuesday, citing possible fraud in the sponsorship of presidential candidates ahead of elections in November. Sarsar noted that the current election law does not empower the ISIE to seek judicial relief in the event that candidates falsify the number of sponsorships submitted to support their candidacy. He, however, urged citizens whose names were put in the lists of sponsorship without their knowledge to file official complaints. [All Africa, TAP, 10/1/2014]

Six arrested for supporting terrorist groups on Mt. Chaambi
The interior ministry on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of six individuals tied to a terrorist group on Mt. Chaambi. Security officials indicated that the suspects were apprehended for planning terrorist attacks inside the country. Officials also indicated that the recent round of arrests were tied to the September 23 arrests of several terrorism suspects in Sousse, Monastir, and Kasserine. [All Africa, 10/1/2014]


Second protest demanding Houthi withdrawal in Sana’a
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Sana’a Tuesday to protest the ongoing Houthi militant presence in the capital. This is the second protest this week following Sunday’s demonstration, when activists called on President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi to “find a solution, or else turn around and depart.” Protesters Tuesday chanted that “the Yemeni people will not give in to the Houthis,” and demanded militants vacate the capital’s university campus. According to the peace and partnership agreement signed September 21, the Houthis agreed to withdraw from Sana’a upon the appointment of a new prime minister; however, President Hadi has yet to appoint one. The health ministry estimated Tuesday that 274 people were killed and over 470 wounded in the fighting around the capital. [Naharnet, 9/30/2014]

Saudis align themselves with Yemeni internal forces against Houthis
According to an anonymous Yemeni official, Saudi Arabia will put its support behind Yemeni tribes to counter the rapid rise of the Houthis. The source reported that the Saudis will provide resources to local sheikhs in an effort to curb the expansion of Houthi forces, naming the Hashid tribe in particular. According to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Yemen’s “cycle of violence and conflict will spread to undoubtedly threaten security and stability at the regional and international levels,” and said that resources must be devoted to extinguishing this dangerous threat. Yemeni Foreign Minister Jamal al-Salaal blamed the associates of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis for the country’s violence on Wednesday. [Al-Quds al-Arabi (Arabic), 9/30/2014]

Son of intelligence officer killed after triggering IED attached to his father’s car
State news services reported Wednesday that a young man driving from al-Mansoura to Khurmaksar in Aden province was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated in the car he was driving. The apparent target of the attack was the man’s father, Colonel Nasser Maqilh, who is an officer in the Military Intelligence Division for the fourth district. Suspects in the attack have not been identified. [Aden al-Ghad, 10/1/2014]

Islah issues first statement since Houthis entered the capital
The Islamist Islah Party issued its first statement since the Houthis entered the capital ten days ago, calling on its members to “overcome what they have suffered” at the hands of the militants in order to avoid conflict and intolerance. The party reaffirmed its commitment to the peace and partnership agreement signed on September 21, and called upon all of the signatories to work together in the spirit of national partnership to implement the agreement. The group offered its condolences to those harmed in the fighting, and condemned the Houthis’ use of violence. [Marib Press (full text of the statement in Arabic), 9/30/2014]


Exiled Sunni politician floated as possible nominee for the defense ministry
Sources close to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi indicated Tuesday that substantial efforts were being taken to clear former Finance Minister Rafie al-Assawi of terrorism and corruption charges as a prelude to his nomination as defense minister. Issawi, finance minister under former prime minister Nour al-Maliki (2010-2013), was charged with corruption in April 2013 after resigning from the government a month before violent protests spread through Anbar province. Earlier this month the Iraqi parliament rejected Jaber al-Jabri, a Sunni tribal figure from Anbar, and Riyadh Garib, a former member of the Shia Badr organization to head the defense and interior ministries, respectively. [Asharq al-Awsat, 10/1/2014]

UK conducts first airstrikes in Iraq as Australia affirms its support role in the campaign
Britain’s Royal Air Force carried out its first strikes in Iraq on Tuesday, destroying an Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) arsenal and a machine gun-mounted vehicle. The UK ministry of defense said that Royal Air Force jets were tasked to assist Kurdish troops in northwest Iraq that were under attack by Islamic State terrorists. The military said that its initial assessment indicated the strikes were successful. British airstrikes followed confirmation by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott of the first delivery of surveillance and refueling aircraft in support of the US-led anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq. [The Washington Post, 10/1/2014]

Algeria’s ailing president absent amid crises
The absence of Algeria’s ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, since the kidnapping and beheading of a French hiker by Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) inspired militants has ignited new concerns over his health and whether he’s fit to rule. Since his election to a fourth term in April, the 77-year-old leader has been almost entirely absent from public view, including during key crises such as the crash of an Air Algeria plane in July that killed 118 passengers. Bouteflika, who has led the country since 1999, was reelected despite claims by the opposition that he was not physically fit to rule after a stroke in 2013. [AP, 10/1/2014]