Top News: Egypt

Egypt’s interim authorities have nominated lawyer Ziad Bahaa Eldin, who is a member of the leftist Egyptian Social Democratic Party, as deputy prime minister, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on Friday.


Islamists hold Cairo rallies to press for Morsi’s reinstatement
Tens of thousands of supporters of toppled president Mohamed Morsi have flocked to Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque in north-east Cairo where a mass rally is being held on Friday to push for the Islamist leader to be reinstated. One speaker at the Friday demonstration pledged to stay on the streets until Morsi is reinstated. "We are ready to stay for a month, two months, a year or even two years," ultraconservative Islamist Salafi cleric Safwat Hegazi told protesters. [Ahram Online, AP, 7/12/2013]

United States sharpens criticism of Egyptian arrests as lawmakers debate aid to Egypt
The Obama administration on Thursday sharpened its criticism of the Egyptian military and interim government’s arrests of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, saying the continuing detentions are inconsistent with pledges of inclusivity made by authorities and may affect future US assistance. Meanwhile, US lawmakers will begin to vote as soon as next week on legislation that could continue aid to Egypt even if the Obama administration determines that the ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi was a military coup, lawmakers and aides said on Thursday. [AP 7/11/2013, Reuters 7/12/2013]

IMF loan talks with Egypt on hold amid political changes
Negotiations between Egypt and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a proposed $4.8 billion loan are currently on hold, said Egyptian finance minister Fayad Abd al-Moneim. According to Abd al-Moneim, the IMF would have sealed the long-awaited loan to cash-strapped Egypt if sales tax laws had been ratified by the now-dissolved Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt’s parliament). [Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic), 7/12/2013]

Egypt’s PM picks leftist politician as deputy, Ziad Bahaa-Eldin
Egypt’s interim authorities have nominated lawyer Ziad Bahaa Eldin, who is a member of the leftist Egyptian Social Democratic Party, as deputy prime minister, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on Friday. The new cabinet is likely to include three women in the ministries of health, social affairs, and information. The anti-Morsi Rebel (Tamarod) campaign has also asked Egyptians through its official Facebook page to send their nominations for ministers in the upcoming cabinet. The Wafd Party and the People’s Alliance have joined the Nour Party in refusing to participate in the interim government. [Reuters, Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Ahram Online, 7/12/2013]


Young Libyans face tough job prospects
The problem of youth unemployment in Libya is masked but exists in abundance due to the refusal of some to engage in manual work, according to experts interviewed by Magharebia. Many young people turn to the least tiring functions, looking for more than one job to improve their financial situation. In some cases, even those employed do not show up for work but continue to receive pay. Meanwhile, Sirte Oil Company human resource development specialist Moussa al-Maghribi said the situation was made worse by foreigners and western Libyans taking up jobs in the eastern oil fields. He added, "Seventy percent of Cyrenaica’s youth are unemployed. They joined the militias out of destitution, and this situation has exacerbated unemployment.” [Magharebia, 7/11/13]

Libya Holdings launches fundraising
Libya Holdings Group Ltd. (LHG), an investment partner established during the 2011 revolution to facilitate foreign direct investment in Libya, has launched a fundraiser to support “the fast growth of its operations.” Cofounder Ahmed Ben Halim believes that “international partners will be essential in providing expertise to help the country and we are working closely with such companies to invest in Libya.” LHG aims to provide commercial partners with local knowledge, a network of contacts, on-the-ground operational support, and capital, combining access for international firms with an ability to coinvest with local entities to boost the country’s economic evolution. [Libya Herald, 7/11/13]

Army beefs up Benghazi Ramadan security
Security in Benghazi throughout Ramadan has been boosted by additional army patrols working with city police stations and military intelligence to organize around-the-clock surveillance of city streets. The extra patrols have been mounted in response to the recent upsurge in violence in the city which has seen a number of high profile assassinations and attempted murders including last week’s failed attack on the honorary French consul and his wife as they drove home. [Libya Herald, 7/11/13]

Revolutionary hero escapes ambush
Said Amer Guji, a former revolutionary who is now an army commander, survived an assassination attempt after his vehicle was fired upon by armed attackers as he was leaving a supply depot in Tripoli. Guji was a prominent revolutionary leader fighting with the Jadu brigade during the war to oust Qaddafi. [Libya Herald, 7/11/13]


New front opens in Syria as rebels say al-Qaeda attack means war
Syrian rebels said on Friday the assassination of one of their top commanders by al-Qaeda linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant killed Kamal Hamami, one of the top thirty figures on the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Command, on Thursday. [Reuters, 7/12/2013]

Syrian opposition condemns rebel blockade
Syria’s main opposition coalition condemned a rebel blockade of government-held districts in the contested northern city of Aleppo, issuing a rare statement of criticism against fighters who reportedly caused severe food shortages at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The statement was one of many recent signals of a widening rift between Islamists and more moderate elements of the Syrian opposition. [Daily Star/AP, 7/12/2013]

Hard-line rebels lose support in Syria as abuses mount
Though jihadist fighters were welcomed in the early days of the Syrian uprising when opponents of the regime were desperate for assistance from any quarter, a spate of abuses is fueling a backlash. Their imposition of an extreme form of Islam has increasingly alienated civilians, and in Raqqa, the only provincial capital in rebel hands, the Nusra Front is accused of detaining dozens of men. Recent demonstration show how civilians and mainstream rebel fighters alike were turning against these more hard-line Islamist factions. [Daily Star, 7/12/2013]

Ramadan brings no respite to Syria’s Homs, activists say
An army assault on Homs in central Syria entered its thirteenth day on Thursday, as the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan brought no relief to people in rebel areas, activists said. Throughout the blockade, rights groups have warned of critical humanitarian conditions in rebel areas of the city, which come under daily shelling and frequent aerial bombardment. The United Nations has said that some 2,500 civilians are trapped in the besieged neighborhoods. [NOW/AFP, 7/11/2013]


Warning of political crisis, opposition calls for dissolution of government
The Alliance for Tunisia and Popular Front opposition coalitions met Tuesday with civil society representatives to seek consensus on what they deem a political crisis in the country.  The efforts of the opposition coalitions, spearheaded by the Nidaa Tounes party, agreed on the necessity of dissolving the government, and suggested in a statement released Tuesday the need to plan an urgent strategy to “save the country” by holding a National Salvation Congress. [Tunisia Live, 7/12/2013]

Tunisian port strike illustrates economic dangers of labor unrest
Concern over the impact of strikes on the Tunisian economy has been revived after a five-day strike at the port of Rades by employees of the Tunisian Company for Stevedoring and Handling known by its French acronym (STAM). The strike began July 7 but was suspended Thursday afternoon following the resignation of STAM’s CEO. [Tunisia Live, 7/12/2013]

Nearly complete, government hopes new constitution to be in place by fall
The process of drafting Tunisia’s new constitution is nearing its end and the country hopes to have it in place by fall, a Tunisian politician said. Mehrezia Labidi-Maiza, deputy speaker of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly, said an agreement had been reached on most parts of the document but there were still a few controversial points, including limits on individual liberties and regulation of the media. [Reuters, 7/11/2013]

Ennahda announces pro-Morsi protest for Saturday
Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party Ennahdha announced a protest to be held Saturday in the capital city’s main street, Avenue Habib Bourguiba, to support legitimacy in Egypt and denounce the military coup.  Partisans of the Congress For Republic and Wafa Movement will also join the Saturday protest. [Tunisia Live, 7/12/2013]


Oman intercepts a weapons shipment headed to Yemen
Omani authorities intercepted a shipment of more than 30,000 handguns that was headed to Yemen, AFP reported. The weapons were coming from Turkey, and nine Omanis were arrested as a consequence.  Yemeni authorities had intercepted another ship with weapons coming from Turkey last Saturday June 6. According to Al Masdar, Yemeni authorities claimed that Turkish authorities were involved in the . [Al Masdar, 7/12/2013]

Hadi disheartened by Islah media campaign against his support for Egyptian military
Government sources said that President Abdrabo Mansour Hadi was disheartened by the media campaign against him for his support of the Egyptian military. Supporters of Islah and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood staged protests in support of the Brotherhood in the capital city Sanaa, and attacked the presidency for not calling the crisis in Egypt a military coup. Sources further added that a call President Hadi received from UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was a “clear message” to the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, and a nod to Hadi for his support of the Egyptian leadership. [al-Madina, 7/12/2013]  

National Dialogue Conference heading towards a federal state with five regions
Political factions from the state-building working group in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) presented their visions for Yemen’s future state. The groups’ outlines include how political parties envision Yemen’s governing system; political plurality; legislative, executive and judicial authorities; relations of authorities within the state; electoral system; quotas; and the national division of wealth. All the political factions–except for representatives of the southern movement who did not present a vision–expressed their support for a federal state. According to Yemen News Agency, regional and international experts have been meeting with NDC delegates to reconcile the different views on federalism in an effort to reach a federal state with five regions. [YemenEconomist, 7/11/2013]

Southerners stage Friday demonstrations; governor of Aden forced to leave mosque
Thousands of Southerners protested in various southern governorates in what they dubbed “Ramadan the month of patience and struggle”. Meanwhile, the governor of Aden Wahid Rashid was forced out of a mosque by worshippers protesting against him. Wahid is accused of mishandling the situation in Aden, and failing to address electricity cuts and water shortages. [Mareb Press, Sada Aden, 7/12/2013]


Assir supporters rally in south Lebanon
Supporters of fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir held a rally Friday in a suburb of Sidon, south Lebanon, calling for the return of the Salafist preacher whose gunmen fought deadly clashes in June against the Lebanese military. More than 200 Assir supporters marched from the Bilal Bin Rabah mosque, where Assir used to deliver his fiery sermons in Abra, east Sidon, following Friday prayers. The supporters held a similar rally last week. [Lebanon Daily Star, 7/12/2013]

Refugee exodus to Jordan dwindles
The number of Syrians fleeing to Jordan slowed to a trickle on Thursday as rising violence reportedly stranded hundreds of refugees along the Jordanian-Syrian border. The Jordan Armed Forces said some one hundred Syrians crossed into the Kingdom early Thursday—down from 150 on Wednesday and well below an average influx which once stood at some 2,500 persons per day. According to Syrian rebels, Free Syrian Army and regime forces clashed in several key border regions in Syria as opposition forces attempted to retake border towns and villages recently reclaimed by Damascus. [Jordan Times, 7/11/2013]

Death toll from wave of Iraq violence rises to fifty-one
The toll from a wave of attacks in Iraq mainly targeting security forces and Shiites rose on Friday to fifty-one killed, twenty-six of them police and soldiers, security officials and doctors said. Thursday’s attacks came amid a surge in violence that has killed more than 2,500 people already this year, including upwards of 250 so far this month. In Thursday’s single deadliest incident, gunmen shot dead eleven police charged with protecting the country’s vital oil infrastructure and three soldiers on the road between Haditha and Baiji, northwest of the Iraqi capital. [Al Arabiya 7/12/2013, Reuters 7/11/2013]

Photo: AP