Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has urged the United States and Europe to assist the Libyan army in its fight against Islamist militants to prevent instability there from reaching the scale of Iraq and Syria and requiring intervention.

Sisi reaffirmed Egypt’s support for the Libyan army, training forces on its soil and sharing intelligence, but has refrained from direct intervention. With concerns that militants cross the border to help Egyptian jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis attack Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, Sisi said Egypt is protecting its borders from within.



UN ‘deeply concerned’ over Egypt FGM acquittal
The United Nations has expressed its “deep concern” over the acquittal of defendants accused of carrying out FGM on a girl who later died from her injuries, the first trial of its kind in Egypt. “There is no moral, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman. Traditions that demean, dehumanize and injure are human rights violations that must be actively opposed until they are ended,” the UN said in a statement on Thursday. The UN also said it “encourages review of current legislation to ensure that it fully protects the rights of women and girls, and that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes are brought to justice.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 11/21/2014]

Eleven Brotherhood members sent to Egypt’s military prosecution
Eleven members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood were referred on Thursday to military prosecutors for questioning over accusations of rioting and planting a bomb in a court. This comes after a recent presidential decision to expand the powers of the military judiciary. Six of the members face accusations of disrupting railway tracks in August while five others are accused, in a separate incident, of planting a sound bomb in the local court complex. Originally from the Nile Delta governorate of Kafr al-Sheikh, the defendants were referred to military prosecutors in Alexandria. They had been detained pending investigations by the general prosecution in Kafr Al-Sheikh before being referred to a military court. [Ahram Online, 11/20/2014]

Militant group Ajnad Misr claims Helwan University blast
Ajnad Misr, a jihadist militant group operating in Egypt, has claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded at Helwan University on Thursday, injuring four policemen. The group said in a statement published on its Twitter account and circulated on jihadist sites that the attack was a “quick reply to the policemen [targeting] university youths.” Egyptian universities have been the scene of unrest since the start of the new academic year, with recurrent clashes occurring between police and students protesting against the government. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 11/21/2014]

Limited Brotherhood protests dispersed in Egypt
At least twelve people were arrested in anti-government protests in several Egyptian cities on Friday. Police arrested ten protesters in Alexandria, where the banned Muslim Brotherhood staged five marches against the government and demanded the release of their detained colleagues. In Nile Delta city of Damietta, two Brotherhood members were arrested at similar demonstrations. Meanwhile, police in Cairo fired teargas at demonstrators in Ain Shams district, a regular site of demonstrations despite a security crackdown that has seen thousands arrested.  [Ahram Online, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 11/21/2014]

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Egypt’s Sisi calls on West to support Libya to avoid a new Syria or Iraq
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has urged the United States and Europe to assist the Libyan army in its fight against Islamist militants to prevent instability there from reaching the scale of Iraq and Syria and requiring intervention. Sisi reaffirmed Egypt’s support for the Libyan army, training forces on its soil and sharing intelligence, but has refrained from direct intervention. With concerns that militants cross the border to help Egyptian jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis attack Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula, Sisi said Egypt is protecting its borders from within. [Reuters, 11/20/2014]

US and UK accused of not supporting Libya’s fight against terrorism
Libyan figures have sharply criticized the United States and United Kingdom, accusing them of failing to show support for the Libyan army. According to a Cairo-based Libyan news agency, Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations Ibrahim Dabbashi called on the two countries to make clear they are with the Libyan people or run the risk of losing credibility in terms of their commitment to fighting terrorism. A former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and analyst at the UK-based Quilliam Foundation launched a similar tirade in an interview with Saudi-based Al-Arabiya. [Libya Herald, 11/20/2014]

House of Representatives threatens to close four airports
The House of Representatives has threatened to shut down western airspace and all airports occupied by Operation Libya Dawn. The move follows an incident during a delegation’s visit to Ghat when Misratan forces allegedly tried to seize the plane, requiring intense negotiations to stave off escalation. The House condemned Libya Dawn for attempting to “isolate” parts of the country, saying the fact that entire towns have been cut off from supplies of water, electricity, food, and medicine amounted to “crimes against humanity.” The House promised that, should this continue, it would pursue the closure of the Libya Dawn-controlled airports. [Libya Herald, Libya Monitor (subscription), 11/20/2014]

Instability hits Italy-Libya trade
A new report predicts Italy’s trade exchanges with the Mediterranean region is expected to fall 5.8 percent this year, blaming the decline on instability in Libya. It says trade between Italy and Libya fell 11.2 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year. With the south of Italy at the receiving end of gas pipelines, the report stressed the importance of the southern Mediterranean to Italy’s energy sector, which relies on the region, primarily Libya, for over 22 percent of its energy needs. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 11/21/2014]

Tunisian court doubles sentences for officers accused of sexual assault
A Tunisian court sentenced two policemen to fifteen years confinement on Thursday for the rape of a woman who was herself almost put on trial. The two policemen had been handed seven-year sentences in March for the 2012 rape, drawing accusations of leniency in the case, which captured international attention for the victim. A third officer was given two years for trying to extort money from the woman’s boyfriend, a sentence that was upheld on appeal. [Naharnet, 11/21/2014]


Insurgents wage battle to take full control of Quneitra province, adjacent Israel
Fighters from al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other insurgents attacked and briefly entered Baath City in southern Syria on Thursday, the army’s last major bastion in a province flanking the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The battle is part of a campaign launched by the insurgents this week to take control of the entire Quneitra province. Only Baath City and neighboring Khan Arnaba town remain under President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. [Reuters, 11/21/2014]

Lebanon’s PM to meet EU officials over growing refugee crisis
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam is planning to visit Brussels in December to discuss with European Union officials the growing burden of Syrian refugees. Sources indicate that the prime minister’s visit will likely focus on the EU’s promised assistance to Lebanon, which is hosting around 1.5 million Syrian refugees. More than 3 million people have fled Syria because of the conflict, mostly to neighboring countries, but an additional six million are displaced within Syria. [Naharnet, 11/21/2014]

ISIS militants clash with tribal fighters in Ramadi
Suspected Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISISI) militants launched coordinated attacks Friday around the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, overrunning a village to the east and clashing with tribal fighters to the west. Ramadi is located fifty miles west of Baghdad and is the seat of the Sunni dominated Anbar province, which has been a stronghold for ISIS forces since early June. The city center remains under Iraqi government control but radical Islamist fighters have seized outlying neighborhoods. In Kirkuk on Tuesday, ISIS executed two men they suspected of cooperating with Iraqi security forces. [The Daily Star, 11/21/2014]

Jordan arrests senior Muslim Brotherhood official over op-ed critical of UAE
The spokesman for Jordan’s largest opposition group says authorities have arrested a senior Muslim Brotherhood official over an op-ed piece critical of the United Arab Emirates. The spokesman told reporters that the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy secretary-general, Zaki Bani Irsheid, was taken into custody by security forces late on Thursday after a meeting at the group’s headquarters in Amman’s Abdali neighborhood. Irsheid is the third senior Brotherhood figure to be arrested in recent months in Jordan as part of a crackdown on opposition. [The Daily Star, 11/21/2014]

VP Biden in Turkey to rally support for anti-ISIS campaign
US Vice President Joe Biden is expected to meet with Turkish officials on Friday to discuss additional measures by both countries in the ongoing campaign against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. His visit comes after weeks of public debate between the two NATO allies on the installation of a no-fly zone over Syria and the creation of a safety zone across the Turkish-Syrian border to shelter newly trained rebel forces from ISIS attacks. Turkey has pledged to train and equip moderate Syrian forces on its soil, but details on the agreement have not been released to the public. Turkish officials have also discussed the coalition’s desire to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for US-led operations against ISIS militants, but Turkey is yet to reach a decision on the coalition’s request. [The Daily Star, 11/21/2014]


Al-Qaeda military leader vows to continue fight against Houthis
Qassem al-Rimi, the leader of al-Qaeda military forces in Yemen, has vowed to carry out attacks on the Houthis. “To the Houthis we say: brace yourselves for horrors that will make the hair of children turn white,” he said in an audio message posted online Friday. Al-Qaeda has already threatened an all-out war against the Houthis and claimed several deadly attacks on them, including one in October in Sana’a that killed fifty people. They have also engaged the Houthis in prolonged combat in the country’s center in clashes that have claimed many lives. [AFP, 11/21/2014]

Mutiny inside Yemen’s special forces
Officers suspected to be loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh led a mutiny inside the headquarters of an elite paramilitary unit, seeking to oust their commander on Thursday, officials said. Gunfire was heard Thursday afternoon inside the special forces headquarters as mutineers chanted “leave, leave” and tried to storm the office of Mohammed Mansour al-Ghadraa, who was appointed their new commander in September. Houthi militiamen were also allegedly deployed at the scene to defuse the situation, and the area was cordoned off my presidential guards. It is unclear with whom the special forces units hoped to replace Ghadraa. [AP, 11/20/2014]

Agriculture minister to UN: nearly half Yemen’s children malnourished
Yemen’s minister of agriculture said that nearly half the children in Yemen are suffering from malnutrition as insurgencies, water scarcity, and climate change exacerbate sectarian strife in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest state. “More than half the population of Yemen suffers from food insecurity… Forty-eight percent of the children suffer from malnutrition,” Agriculture Minister Farid Mujawar told a UN conference in Rome on Wednesday. Sanaa is expected to be the world’s first capital to run out of water, according to calculations by Robert Sharp from the National Defense University. [Reuters, 11/20/2014]

Saudi Arabia beheads Turkish man accused of drug trafficking
Saudi Arabia beheaded a Turkish man convicted of drug trafficking, the interior ministry said, in the kingdom’s latest execution on Thursday. Ali Agridas had been convicted of receiving a “large amount of drugs” and was executed in the Saudi capital Riyadh, the ministry said in a statement. His execution brings the number of Saudis and foreigners beheaded in the kingdom to seventy this year despite international concern. Rape, murder, apostasy, drug trafficking and armed robbery are all punishable by death under the kingdom’s strict version of Sharia. [AFP, 11/20/2014]

Bahrain jails three activists, strips them of nationality ahead of elections
A court jailed three Bahrainis on Thursday and stripped them of their nationality for allegedly planning an attack against the Bahraini police, a judicial source said, a few days ahead of parliamentary elections. The men were sentenced to ten years each for having planned an attack with explosives on policemen in August 2013, the source said. Bahrain last year adopted a law stipulating that suspects convicted of “terrorist” acts could be stripped of their nationality. The move came as Bahrain’s information minister said the country is open to dialogue with its Shia opposition. Al Wefaq and four other opposition groups are boycotting Saturday’s legislative and municipal polls in Bahrain, though Al Wefaq was suspended by a Bahraini court for three months for violating the law on associations. [Gulf News, 11/21/2014]


Political uncertainties discourage investment in Tunisia
Foreign direct investments (FDI) in Tunisia are down by 24 percent since 2010 having registered a steady decline of trust. While the domestic economy shows encouraging signs of growth, it remains a victim of political uncertainty. Beyond national borders, Tunisia’s image is struggling to regain its standing and give greater guarantees for foreigners intending to invest. [ANSAmed, 11/21/2014]

Morocco to spend and reform to double foreign investment
According to Morocco’s investment minister, Morocco plans to boost state spending in support of industry and reform regulations as part of an effort to double foreign direct investment by 2020. Morocco avoided a big drop in FDI in the wake of the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring by marketing itself as an export base for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. [Reuters, 11/21/2014]

Algeria and Turkey plan partnership in African market
Turkey expressed its willingness to create a free trade zone with Algeria in order to boost bilateral trade relations while preserving the economic interests of both countries. Turkey reportedly wants to increase trade with Algeria by $5 billion by 2016. Current difficulties encountered by Turkish traders in Algeria include strict visa requirements and the payment of a bank guarantee for companies tendering for public construction contracts. [AllAfrica, Daily Sabah, 11/21/2014]