Top News: Egypt’s Sisi Sworn in as President

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has been sworn in as the eighth president of Egypt at a ceremony in Cairo. Sisi took the oath-of-office before the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday, beginning his four-year presidency.


Sisi sworn in as Egypt’s eighth president
Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has been sworn in as the eighth president of Egypt at a ceremony in Cairo. Sisi took the oath-of-office before the Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday, beginning his four-year presidency. “Our nation has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power before,” Sisi said in his first speech as president after taking the oath, adding that that it was a huge responsibility to lead a country like Egypt. He thanked countries who have supported Egypt in the past few years, directing special words to Gulf countries and particularly to Saudi Arabia, and said that fighting terrorism will be a top priority. Arab, African, and international leaders and their representatives attended the inauguration ceremony at Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo’s Heliopolis district . Addressing the attendees in a second speech, Sisi expressed his hope for “an internal and external renaissance for the country” and vowed to establish a “strong, just, safe state.” The State Information Service published an English translation of his second speech. In an evening ceremony at Cairo’s al-Quba presidential palace, Sisi vowed to establish a social contract between the people based on honesty and not “shining hopes.” [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, Reuters, 6/8/2014]

IMF ready to help Egypt, Lagarde tells Sisi
IMF Chief Christine Lagarde personally congratulated Egypt’s President-elect Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and stressed the global lender remains ready to help the country, the IMF said Friday. An IMF spokesman said the global lender is providing technical assistance on tax issues and other matters to Egypt, and an IMF technical team had been in Cairo from April 27 to May 2. [AFP, 6/7/2014]

Seven arrested for sexual assault in Tahrir Square
At least five cases of sexual assault were reported in Tahrir Square on Sunday as people flocked to Egypt’s iconic square to celebrate the inauguration of army general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, according to anti-harassment group I Saw Harassment (Shoft Taharosh). A recent sexual assault caught on video during the presidential celebrations on Sunday has been going viral online. The graphic video allegedly shows a naked and injured woman being tossed around by a large group of men in the square as she tries to flee a gang assault. Egyptian police on Monday arrested seven men for assaulting the nineteen year-old student and are investigating twenty-seven complaints of sexual harassment. The I Saw Harassment group criticized police efforts to prevent such incidents but praised Adly Mansour’s decision to amend sections of Article 58 in the penal law to include the term. [DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 6/9/2014]

Guilty verdicts of policemen in Abu Zaabal prison case overturned
The Khanka Misdemeanor Court of Appeals overturned a ten year prison sentence handed down to one policeman and the one year suspended sentence given to three others on Saturday, on charges of killing thirty-seven detainees inside a police van last summer. They were killed as a teargas canister was shot into a vehicle transporting them to the Abu Zaabal Prison. The judge sent the case back to the prosecutor general and ordered a new investigation that could result in a new trial or in the case being dismissed, legal sources said. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, 6/7/2014]


Libya’s top court rejects appointment of new prime minister
Libya’s top court has rejected the Islamist-led legislature’s appointment of a new prime minister, a ruling likely to deepen the country’s political crisis. The Supreme Constitutional Court said Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteg’s appointment was unconstitutional, giving no further details or instructions. Maiteg was elected last month by the General National Congress in a contested vote, which prompted incumbent Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to refuse to hand over the post until the judiciary decides on the matter. A lawyer for Maiteg has reportedly said that his client will appeal the decision, although it is unclear how given that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter. [AP, Libya Herald, Reuters, 6/9/2014]

Constitutional Committee heads south on national tour
Head of the Constitutional Committee Ali Tarhouni, his deputy, Jelani Rohuma, and thirty other members are heading to Murzuk and Obari after a visit in Sebha as part of a countrywide tour. The visits across the country were planned out of a desire to promote national unity and to kindle dialogue among Libyans. As one member explained, the Constitutional Committee wants to hear Libyans’ perspectives on national issues. Earlier, the members visited Tripoli and Benghazi before heading to Sebha in order to engage in dialogue with city elders, activists and members of civil society. [Libya Herald, 6/8/2014]

UN announces Libya political initiative as concern deepens over violence in the east
The United Nations’ top envoy in Libya announced an initiative to bring together some of the country’s most influential actors to settle long-divisive issues. In the political initiative announced by Tarek Mitri, head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Libyan parties will meet in the week before legislative elections scheduled June 25 to work out a binding declaration of principles. Mitri said that the dialogue initiative, which would feature discussions on urgent matters in an effort to reach agreements, or at least to narrow the divides, has already gained the support of several Libyan actors, chief among them the National Dialogue Preparatory Committee. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern over the toll on civilians due to the armed clashes in eastern Libya. [AllAfrica/UN News, 6/6/2014]

Tebu brigade joins Haftar
The largely Tebu Brigade No. 25, based at the Sarir oilfield, has thrown its support behind retired General Khalifa Haftar’s “Operation Dignity.” The unit comprises both Petroleum Facilities Guards and border guards. It is in charge of security at the Sarir, Messla, and Shula oil compound north of Kufra. “We’ve joined the Operation Dignity because Libyan army members are being attacked and murdered. It’s our duty to protect ourselves and enforce law in our country,” said the brigade’s chief commander. As clashes continues to rock Benghazi, a civil society-based refugee committee in Ajdabiya announced preparations to accommodate Benghazi families fleeing the violence. [Libya Herald, 6/8/2014]


Forty-five dead in clashes among jihadists groups in Syria
Fresh fighting broke out between the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and a coalition of rebels and an al-Qaeda affiliate in eastern Syria leaving at least forty five fighters dead. The fighting highlights the growing division between rebels and jihadists groups. The fighting broke out in an effort to control an oil station in south-west Deir Ezzor. Elsewhere in the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least twenty-five people had died due to torture at security facilities in Damascus. Detainees are often held for interrogation at security facilities before being transferred to jail. [Naharnet, The Daily Star, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 6/9/2014]

Ex UN envoy predicts Syria will be a failed state
Lakhdar Brahimi declared that Syria could become a failed state similar to Somalia. Brahimi said the conflict would blow up and spread beyond Syria’s borders. He warned that Syria “will not be divided, as many have predicted. It’s going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place.” Brahimi also criticized Iran and Russia for supporting the Syrian government, and said president Assad was a hundred percent aware of the way the war was being conducted. [BBC, 6/8/2014]

Hundreds freed in Syria prisoner amnesty
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty Monday for prisoners in the country. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 320 prisoners were released from northern Aleppo central prison on Wednesday as Assad’s victory in presidential elections was announced. An estimated 18,000 people are being held in Syrian prisons, a reported 600 prisoners have died there because of lack of food, medicine, and bombardment. [Gulf News, AP 6/8/2014]

Drought adds to woes, UN says
The supply of safe water in Syria is now one-third of the level it was before March 2011 when the civil war began. Water scarcity is Syria is largely compounded by problems caused by damage to water and sewage systems due to the ongoing fighting. Parts of Syria have received the lowest levels of rainfall in more than half a century. The water shortage is threatening Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon where hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are now living. [NY Times, 6/6/2014]


National dialogue fails to decide order of elections
In spite of marathon talks on Saturday, the national dialogue failed to decide which elections—presidential or parliamentary—to hold first. Leaders of political parties were granted extra time to conduct further consultations; the national dialogue will resume on Wednesday. Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labor Union Houcine Abassi indicated his belief that parties will reach a political solution through dialogue, and that Tunisia will not have to resort to the National Constituent Assembly. Abassi also hoped that all parties would place Tunisia’s interest above any other considerations. [TAP, 6/7/2014]

Army units shell heights of Ouargha, al-Kef
On Friday, army units conducted a sweeping operation on the heights of Ouargha in al-Kef governorate and shelled some suspected sites in the area, said Spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense Colonel Major Taoufik Rahmouni. Based on intelligence indicating the presence of suspicious elements on the mount of Ouargha, a military force from the 2nd Infantry Brigade surrounded and searched the site on Friday morning. Army forces also shelled the area by helicopter and artillery fires to root out the suspicious elements holed up on these heights. Colonel Major Taoufik Rahmouni said the operation was aimed to “impose the state’s authority on each portion of the national territory, particularly border areas to avoid that they would be used for illegal activities.” [All Africa, 6/6/2014]

Cave serving as shelter for terrorists discovered in Tbeinyia
A cave that served as shelter for terrorists was discovered on June 6 by Army and National Guard units in the village of Tbeinyia, Ain Draham, in the northwestern Jendouba governorate. Food leftovers and kitchen utensils were found on site. Initial findings indicate that the group that used this cave did not exceed ten people. This is the third cave of terrorists discovered in Jendouba in three months. [TAP, 6/8/2014]


Al-Qaeda attacks security checkpoint in Hadhramawt
Security sources in the southeastern Hadhramawt province confirmed on Sunday that suspected al-Qaeda militants attacked a military outpost near al-Qatn, killing one soldier. When it became evident al-Qaeda would not successfully seize control of the outposts, all militants fled the area. Flash attacks have increased in frequency since April 20, when President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi authorized the first air strike against al-Qaeda positions in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa. [Yemen Post, 6/8/2014]

New appointments to the consultative council and the governorates of Amran and Ibb
On Sunday, President Hadi appointed Mohammed Saleh Shamlan governor of Amran and Mohammed Yahya al-Irani governor of Ibb. Former governor of Amran, Mohammed Hassan Damaj, and former governor of Ibb, Ahmad al-Hijri were appointed to the consultative council. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 6/8/2014]

Security forces break into news headquarters and assault journalists
On Saturday, security forces stormed the headquarters of government-run newspaper October 14 in the city of Aden and attacked journalists. The newspaper’s Journalists had gone on strike demanding the resignation of Chairman Mohammed Ali Saad after being convicted of corruption. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 6/7/2014]


New wave of attacks across Iraq highlights the strength of militants
Three days of major jihadist attacks have left dozens dead in a stark display of militant strength and the country’s enormous security challenges. Militants assaulted the city of Samarra, battled security forces in Mosul, took hundreds of hostages at Anbar University in Ramadi, and carried out numerous other attacks in Baghdad. Today, a roadside bomb followed by a suicide bomber detonated an explosives rigged truck at a police checkpoint in northern Iraq killing twenty-one people. The Iraqi government has been struggling in combating the rise of militants groups even with the recent acquiring of advanced arms shipments from the United States. [Gulf News, Naharnet 6/8/2014]

Lebanon parliament postpones presidential vote again
Lebanon’s parliament postponed a vote on a new president again on Monday, two weeks after President Michel Sleiman left office. With less than two-thirds membership in attendance, quorum was not met, and Parliament Chief Nabih Berri has declared June 18 the date for a new session to elect the head of state. Continued disagreements have seen members decline to attend meetings to prevent a vote from taking place. The parliament is divided between two main camps, the pro-Syrian regime bloc led by Hezbollah and backed by Damascus and Tehran and a second bloc led by the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and backed by Saudi Arabia and Washington. The two sides are divided over the war in Syria and the question of Hezbollah’s weapons. [AFP, 6/9/2014]

GCC ambassador’s reinstatement in Qatar denied
A Bahraini diplomat has ruled out the reinstatement of three Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ambassadors in Qatar as claimed by media reports. An ad hoc committee following up the Riyadh Declaration has not reached a decision on reinstating the ambassadors in Doha. Reports over the weekend published remarks attributed to an unnamed Gulf diplomat stating that the ambassadors of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to Qatar, recalled by their countries on March 5, would return to the Qatari capital Doha within days, signaling the end of the deepest political crisis to hit the GCC since its establishment in 1981. [Gulf News, 6/8/2014]