Top News: Egypt Allegedly Strikes Libya Militia Positions

Deepening their involvement in Libya, Egyptian warplanes bombed Islamist militia positions in Benghazi, according to two officials, as part of a three-to-six month Egyptian-led campaign that will eventually involve Libyan ground troops trained by Egyptian forces. The operation, they said, was requested by the Tobruk-based Libyan administration.



Prosecution accuses Egyptian newspaper of disrupting peace
Egypt’s Supreme State Security Prosecution has accused Ali al-Sayyed, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, and Ahmed Youssef, a reporter in the paper, in relation to a report claiming Egypt’s 2012 presidential elections were rigged. The ministry of Interior had filed a complaint against Ali and Youssef accusing them of disrupting the peace, spreading false information and embezzling documents from Egypt’s General Prosecution, in addition to “publishing news on a court case.” News of the accusations reported by Al-Masry Al-Youm come a day after it was prevented from distributing reports about the court case contesting the results of Egypt’s 2012 presidential elections via a gag-order issued by Egypt’s top prosecutor. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 10/16/2014]

Carter Center closes Egypt office
The Carter Center has closed its Egypt office saying the country is “unlikely to advance a genuine democratic transition.” The organization criticized in a statement Wednesday Egypt’s draft NGO law, saying it would put harsh restrictions on NGO activities and resources in Egypt. “I hope that Egyptian authorities will reverse recent steps that limit the rights of association and assembly and restrict operations of Egyptian civil society groups,” former US President Jimmy Carter said. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, AP, AFP, 10/16/2014]

Cabinet to implement court ruling banning pro-Morsi alliance activities
The cabinet decided to implement a court ruling banning the National Association to Support Legitimacy (NASL), an organization that supports the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohamed Morsi. A cabinet press release said it aims to “implement the decision of the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters (2808/2014) to prohibit the activities of the group. The prime minister issued a decree to do so in accordance with the key sections of the judgment.” Islamist parties announced in recent weeks their withdrawal from the alliance, including the Wasat and Watan parties. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 10/16/2014]


Egypt strikes Libya militia positions
Deepening their involvement in Libya, Egyptian warplanes bombed Islamist militia positions in Benghazi, according to two officials, as part of a three-to-six month Egyptian-led campaign that will eventually involve Libyan ground troops trained by Egyptian forces. The operation, they said, was requested by the Tobruk-based Libyan administration. A Libyan lawmaker said that Libyan pilots were flying the Egyptian warplanes, while the Egyptian presidential spokesman denied that Egyptian planes were striking targets in Libya. [AP, 10/15/2014]

Libyan army, residents battle Islamist militants in Benghazi
Libyan troops and armed residents clashed with Islamist fighters in Benghazi on Wednesday, killing at least thirteen people. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and Khalifa Haftar’s spokesman claimed that the army had seized the February 17 camp belonging to an umbrella group of Islamist militias, though this could not be immediately verified. Meanwhile armed young people were reportedly fighting Islamist forces, while locals stormed a few businesses, accusing the owners of funding Ansar al-Sharia. [Reuters, 10/15/2014]

Fighting continues near Gharian
Clashes have continued near the town of Gharian between Zintani forces and the local brigade that is part of Operation Libya Dawn. Reports from the hospital indicate that thirty-seven Libya Dawn militiamen were killed, including six Misratan troops, and seventy injured. Gharian has been calling for reinforcements to help fight off the Zintanis, requesting assistance specifically from the two main Amazigh towns in Jebel Nafusa. The towns have not responded yet; the Amazigh are said to support Libya Dawn but not actively. [Libya Herald, 10/15/2014]

UNESCO chief appeals to parties in Libya to stop destruction of cultural heritage
The UNESCO chief has called on all parties in Libya to safeguard the country’s cultural and religious heritage amid continued violence. In recent weeks, gunmen stormed and vandalized a renowned mosque in Tripoli, while a historic madrasa was also damaged and looted. The statement asserted that such attacks are not isolated, as they threaten social cohesion and fuel societal divisions. The agency will soon implement a training course to enable Libyan authorities to carry out rapid assessment, documentation, and monitoring of heritage. [UN News, 10/15/2014]


United States will build new rebel force to battle ISIS, bypassing FSA
John Allen, the retired Marine general in charge of coordinating the US-led coalition’s response to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), confirmed Wednesday that the United States will build its own local ground force and bypass the existing Free Syrian Army (FSA) in its fight against the radical militant group. While acknowledging the difficulty in establishing a new fighting force in both the Syrian and Iraqi fronts, General Allen was confident that the United States and its allies could juggle two massive training efforts despite the militant group’s increased resiliency against coalition airstrikes. [McClatchy, 10/15/2014]

US-led airstrikes stall ISIS assault stall on Kobani
US-led coalition forces launched their heaviest bombardment of ISIS militants in Kobani and successfully halted the radical militant group’s aggressive assault on the Syrian border town. US officials noted that airstrikes killed several hundred ISIS fighters and allowed Kurdish forces to push the remaining militants out of parts of the town. [The Daily Star, Naharnet, 10/15/2014]

Syrian regime sparks anger with expensive shopping mall project
The Syrian regime sparked anger among enemies and supporters alike by announcing the creation of a $50 million shopping center project in the coastal city of Tartus. The mall was opened by Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi on October 9. It includes “seven restaurants, a playroom for children and shops,” a government press release boasted, announcing additional “tourism projects” in the city. The announcement of the mall angered regime supporters who have been frustrated with ISIS advances, high army casualties, and regime attacks that have resulted in civilian deaths. [Naharnet, 10/16/2014]

Merkel ally leaves open possibility for cooperation with PKK
Volker Kauder, the leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) party, has left open the possibility of arming the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as part of efforts to defeat ISIS. “I know the problems that Turkey has with the PKK but to sit back and watch as IS takes important border towns and develops increasingly into a threat for global security cannot be the solution,” Kauder said. Germany is sending weapons to northern Iraqi Kurds, but Merkel previously ruled out supporting the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization in the European Union and United States. [Reuters, 10/16/2014]


ISIE releases its final criteria on the announcement of election results
The Board of the Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) met, Wednesday, and decided on criteria to release the results of the upcoming legislative elections. Board members also confirmed that the ISIE would organize and run a mock election between October 17 and 19 in Ben Arous in order to ensure that all logistic arrangements are fully functional before election day on October 26. [TAP, 10/14/2014]

Marzouki pardons 1,360 inmates ahead of elections
Interim President Moncef Marzouki announced the release of 1,360 inmates with three months or less remaining in their prison sentences. The decision was taken after consultations with the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Transitional Justice. Prisoners convicted of terrorism related charges, including those charged with the trafficking of arms and ammunition, however, were excluded from the amnesty. [All Africa, 10/14/2014]

PM Jomaa participates in World Economic Forum, floats Tunis as possible 2018 host
Interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa called on the international community to support the organization of the next World Investment Forum in Tunisia during a speech at the 4th World Investment Forum held in Geneva earlier this week. The prime minister highlighted Tunisia’s efforts to implement structural economic reforms that will continue to support the country’s global investment platform for both regional and international partners. [TAP, 10/15/2014]


Houthis send fighters toward al-Qaeda stronghold of Bayda
The Houthis sent fighters southward from Sana’a toward the al-Qaeda stronghold of Bayda province on Wednesday, raising the possibility of clashes between the two militant groups. Witnesses said dozens of cars carrying armed Houthis were seen arriving in the city of Ibb, which borders Bayda. Residents said some Houthi fighters gathered at Ibb’s main stadium ninety miles south of Sana’a. The Houthis entered the city with its governor and his aides. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda forces captured Udain, a town about thirteen miles away. Militants attacked the police headquarters, the offices of the local government, and the post office. They also clashed with the Houthis and security forces, leaving two soldiers and one unidentified, armed man dead. [Reuters, 10/15/2014]

Houthis comment on the capture of al-Hudaydah and Ibb
A member of the Houthi group has commented on the capture of two cities by Houthi forces for the first time. Ali al-Bukhiti, a leading member of the group, said in a statement, “The sons of the al-Hudaydah and Ibb governorates were the primary actors in the fall of these cities to the Houthi group Ansarullah.” He continued, saying, “If there were not a genuine desire from the sons of al-Hudaydah and Ibb to change what was happening there, it would not have been possible for any armed group to storm those two provinces without firing a single shot if the children of those provinces were not the primary actors in that process.” [Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), 10/16/2014]

Tribal militants attack oil pipeline in Marib; soldiers killed in Abyan
Local tribal militants attacked an oil pipeline in the Anshar region in northeast Marib province on Wednesday. According to a military source, gunmen led by a tribesman named Salah Ahmed Hathal blew up the pipeline. This is the latest in a series of pipeline bombings in Marib, which security forces have struggled to prevent. Elsewhere, two Yemeni soldiers were killed in the coastal town of Ahwar in Abyan province. It is suspected that al-Qaeda gunmen carried out the attack. According to witnesses, militants attacked the soldiers outside the Ahwar hospital and took their weapons. [Al Masdar, Aden al-Ghad (Arabic) 10/16/2014]

Herak leader warns Iran and the Houthis not to approach the limits of “our state”
Mohammed Abdrabbo al-Mansouri, a leader in the southern Herak movement, warned that “new powers” would not be welcome if they challenged the boundaries of a southern state. In a statement praising southern movements past and present, al-Mansouri added that the people of the south had an obligation to protect their northern border. He warned that if the Houthis attempted to head south, the southerners would be forced to defend their land and would drive the Houthis back to Saada. [Aden al-Ghad, 10/16/2014]


Thousands of police march on presidential office in Algiers
More than a thousand Algerian policemen staged a sit-in outside President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s office in Algiers on Wednesday, demanding better working conditions on a third day of protests by police officers. The protests in Algiers started on Tuesday when hundreds of officers marched through the streets in solidarity with colleagues near the southern city of Ghardaia, after officers there were injured in clashes between Arabs and Berbers. [Al-Arabiya News, Reuters, 10/15/2014]

PM Abadi dismisses ISIS threat to Baghdad
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi dismissed fears of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) advancing into Baghdad, noting that Iraqi security forces had secured the capital and regained control of Diyala and Salah al-Din provinces from the radical militant group. Abadi’s comments came on the day that the US Defense Department announced that its anti-ISIS operation in Iraq and Syria was named “Inherent Resolve,” according to international media. US warplanes have been striking ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria for weeks, although it is unclear how effective the campaign has been as ISIS continues to advance in both countries. [Asharq al-Awsat, 10/15/2013]

UN Syria envoy discusses refugee crisis with Salam
UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam early Friday to discuss Lebanon’s Syrian refugee crisis and other regional issues. According to the UNHCR and UNRWA, Lebanon is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees and an additional 42,000 Palestinians from Syria, although unofficial figures are estimated to be higher. [The Daily Star, 10/15/2014]