Top News: Egypt Warns All Options Open for Ethiopia Nile Dam

Morsi after elections-2012.jpg

Egypt’s president on Monday hardened his stance against Ethiopia and its construction of a Nile dam, warning that "all options are open" in dealing with the project that threatens to leave Egypt with a dangerous water shortage.


Morsi calls for national reconciliation; NSF rejects call
President Mohamed Morsi on Monday urged political groups to pursue comprehensive national reconciliation.  Members of the National Salvation Front rejected the call for talks, saying that it’s too late. “The opposition clings to holding early presidential elections because Morsi is unsuccessful,” NSF spokesperson Khaled Dawoud said in a statement. [Egypt Independent]

Egypt warns all options open for Ethiopia Nile dam
Egypt’s president on Monday hardened his stance against Ethiopia and its construction of a Nile dam, warning that "all options are open" in dealing with the project that threatens to leave Egypt with a dangerous water shortage. Meanwhile, speaking before members of the Shura Council on Monday, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil affirmed that the issue of Egypt’s access to Nile water was one of "national security" and "a matter of life and death." [AP, Ahram Online]

Egyptian Christian teacher convicted of blasphemy
An Egyptian court has convicted Coptic Christian teacher Dimyana Abdel-Nour of blasphemy for insulting Islam. The court did not hand down a prison sentence, but imposed a fine of 100,000 Egyptian Pounds ($14,000). Abdel-Nour was not in the courtroom for the verdict. [AP, Daily News Egypt (Arabic)]

Queues for fuel cause mayhem
Ongoing fuel shortages are creating long queues, snarled traffic, and even gun fights, but officials are downplaying the issue. According to al-Masry al-Youm newspaper, gunfights and scuffles have broken out over increasingly scarce fuel supplies at gas stations, with at least two reported injuries. [Daily News Egypt]


Zidan calls for US help in security training
Libya is looking to the United States to provide training for the Libyan army and police, as well as to ease procedures so that more young Libyans can study in the United States. Prime Minister Ali Zidan made the request at a meeting on Monday with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who is on a six-day tour of North Africa. [Libya Herald]

Libyan unrest drives oil output down
Libya’s daily oil output has decreased to 1.16 million barrels due to disruption at fields and terminals, according to a senior industry source. It pumped 1.6 million barrels per day before the 2011 revolution. The country has struggled to maintain steady output levels as protests and technical problems have cut deeply into production rates over the past year. [Reuters]

Two-day conference on Local Councils in Tripoli
Representatives from local councils from across Libya met for two days to discuss their work and government plans to replace them with elected municipalities. The government had no formal representation, indicating a growing distrust between it and local councils over the municipal electoral law. [Libya Herald]


Obama meetings to consider range of options on Syria
The Obama administration began discussing Monday whether the Assad regime’s rapid military advance across the heart of Syria necessitates a drastic US response, with officials saying a decision to arm beleaguered rebels could happen later this week. Top aides from the State and Defense Departments, the CIA, and other agencies met at the White House in preparation for a meeting between President Barack Obama and his senior national security staff planned for Wednesday, according to US officials. [Reuters, Daily Star]

Syria army launches attack on Aleppo airbase
According to activists from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syria’s army launched multiple attacks on rebel positions on Tuesday in the northern province of Aleppo, including insurgent-held Minnigh military aribase, seized by rebels for its strategic radar tower. A military source told AFP on condition of anonymity that heavy clashes were raging for a third day at the base, but denied that any part of the airport was under rebel control. [Daily Star, Al Arabiya]

United Nations in talks with Germany to take in ten thousand Syrians
The UN refugee agency said Tuesday that it was in talks with Germany over the potential resettlement of ten thousand Syrians who have fled their war-torn homeland, and was probing the issue with other wealthy nations. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards did not elaborate on possible talks with Washington, but noted that the United States is the world’s top destination for resettlement, as opposed to temporary asylum. Governments are due to hold talks in Geneva on potential resettlement programs later this month or in early July.  [Al Arabiya, Reuters]

Syria child execution puts rebel justice in spotlight
Photographs of the bloodied face of a 14-year-old boy executed by jihadi rebels in northern Syria have thrown into stark relief the sometimes extreme justice meted out in rebel-held areas.  Fighters of al-Qaeda front group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria accused Mohammad Qattaa of blasphemy, but a human rights group said he had done nothing more than use a common Arabic phrase that makes reference to the Prophet Mohammed’s name. The boy’s parents say they went to the opposition Free Syrian Army to help them find the killers. [NOW, Al Arabiya]


Questions abound about Tunisia judiciary
Contradictions define Tunisia’s judiciary, from acquittals of those implicated in the US Embassy attacks in Tunisia to the handling of corrupt businessmen. Everyone wants to restore the credibility of a judiciary that has many proceedings at hand. [Al Monitor]

Country still needs Ennahda, leaders declare
Interim Prime Minister Ali Larayedh and Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi, both addressing the role of Islam in government, allayed fears concerning the rise of Islamist violence in Tunisia and reiterated the government’s commitment to democracy and modernity. [All Africa, Tunisia Live]

Libyan refugees resist resettlement campaign
Libyan refugees living in the Tunisian Choucha camp along the border are resisting an integration program to begin later this month when the camp is slated to close. They say they have suffered verbal and physical abuse by some Tunisians, including members of the police, and assert that Tunisia has no laws protecting or guaranteeing the rights of refugees. [Libya Herald]


Yemen preparing for return of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni workers; Saudi refuses to extend deadline for rectifying immigration status
Saudi Arabia announced that it will not extend the deadline for its new labor laws, which will result in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis. With twenty five days left until the deadline, Yemeni authorities are devising an emergency plan in preparation for the influx of expats into the country. [Al Masdar]

Yemen Shias demonstrate over protest killings
Thousands of Zaidis demonstrated Monday in the Yemeni capital to protest the killing of ten fellow Shias and wounding of dozens of others in clashes with police during a protest the day before. The demonstration took place outside the headquarters of Yemen’s national security service, the same area in Sana’a where violence occurred on Sunday. [Gulf News]

Yemen inflation hits fourteen-month high in April
Annual inflation in Yemen surged to 14 percent in April, the highest level since February 2012, fuelled by rises in the prices of food, tobacco and qat, central bank data showed on Tuesday. Inflation has fallen from a peak of 25 percent in October 2011 to as low as 5.5 percent last November as political unrest eased, helping the economy recover. But it has picked up again in recent months, hitting 13.1 percent in March. [Reuters]


Algerian independence leader urges army to “act swiftly” to end political crisis
At a time when the country is at a near political standstill, Mohamed Mechati, a nationalist leader against French colonialism, urged the military to end the country’s leadership crisis and called ailing and incapacitated President Abdelaziz Bouteflika a despot in a letter to Le Soir d’Algerie. [News24]

Gulf states to act against Hezbollah members
The Gulf Cooperation Council said it will take measures against members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah over the Shia movement’s military intervention against Syrian rebels. [AFP]

Iraq’s al-Maliki visits Erbil to mend ties

Iraq’s premier led a landmark Cabinet meeting in the country’s Kurdish region to defuse tensions linked to a number of disputes diplomats warn are among its biggest threats to stability. [Hurriyet]

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