Top News: First Humanitarian Aid Enters Syria Without Government Consent
The United Nations said on Thursday that the first humanitarian aid convoy had entered Syria from Turkey without the Syrian government consent. The aid supplies were made possible due to the authorization of a new UN Security Council resolution. 

Egypt convoy delivers medical aid to Gaza
An Egyptian aid convoy bound for Gaza was able to successfully deliver medical supplies to Palestine after reaching the Rafah border crossing on Friday morning. Member of the convoy and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali tweeted that the convoy had reached the crossing and was waiting for members of the Palestinian Red Crescent to receive the aid, expected after noon prayers, he said. Several hours later, he tweeted that the supplies were successfully delivered into Palestine, and the activists were en route back to Cairo. They delivered EGP2.3 million worth of medical aid to Gaza from donations. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, AMAY (Arabic), SIS, 7/25/2014]

Nour Party accuses government of trying to delay elections; FEP calls for postponing elections
Leading Nour Party member Shaaban Abdel Alim urged all political parties on Thursday to refrain from forming coalitions and to start pressuring the government to finish the process of dividing electoral districts. Abdel Alim also called for the amendment of the elections law, which he described as “unconstitutional.” The Nour Party has accused the government of trying to delay parliamentary elections, with Abdel Alim saying, “The regime wants to exclude parties from the political arena.” Meanwhile, the Free Egyptians Party called on the government to postpone parliamentary elections for a year. Dr. Ayman Abu Ela, the party’s assistant secretary general, said that Egypt still needs to review many laws and regulations before a parliament can be elected. He also emphasized the need to inform and educated the Egyptian people on the process of electing a parliament and the nature of its work. [Egypt Independent, 7/25/2014]

Interior ministry spokesperson claims foreign intelligence behind New Valley attack
Interior Ministry Spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said on Thursday that some international intelligence services may be standing behind the recent terrorist attack in the New Valley province, which claimed the lives of twenty-two border guards. Terrorist attacks, according to Abdel Latif, are carried out by terrorist elements who were trained in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq and were recruited by foreign intelligence bodies to “carry out international plots.” In a televised speech on Thursday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed to bring to justice the perpetrators of the New Valley attack and stressed the importance of a balanced understanding of religion to avoid extremism. Security services said that investigations into the attack revealed the involvement of a former commando officer. Hesham al-Ashmawy, a former officer and member of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis terrorist group, had help from Khaled al-Menai, another group leader who was killed in an army operation as announced by the military on Thursday. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Shorouk (Arabic), Al-Ahram (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 7/24/2014]

World Bank gives Egypt $500 million gas loan
The World Bank has agreed to give Egypt a $500 million loan to provide 1.5 million houses in eleven governorates with natural gas lines. “The Egypt Household Natural Gas Connection Project will support the Egyptian government’s program to replace household consumption of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), which is mostly imported, with grid-connected natural gas,” the website said in a statement on Thursday. About 52 percent of the neighborhoods this project targets have poverty rates higher than the country’s national average, the statement said. [Aswat Masriya, SIS, Mada Masr, EGYNews (Arabic), 7/25/2014]


Libya can try Qaddafi-era spy chief, says ICC
Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have upheld a decision to allow Libyan authorities to try Abdullah al-Senoussi, former intelligence chief under ousted Muammar Qaddafi. The appeals panel confirmed that the case against al-Senoussi should not be handled by the ICC because prosecutors in Libya are pursuing similar charges against him. The ICC indicted al-Senoussi in 2011 on charges of murder and persecution allegedly committed during the revolutionary war. Al-Senoussi is currently in detention in Libya. [AP, 7/24/2014]

European envoys to Libya say the situation has reached a critical stage
European envoys to Libya said in an emergency meeting in Brussels that the situation in the North African country has “reached a critical stage,” expressing concern about the ongoing violence and humanitarian consequences. The envoys stressed the necessity of the United Nations playing a lead role in negotiating a ceasefire among the warring factions and encouraged the newly-elected parliament to fulfill its responsibilities in an inclusive manner. [Elfagr (Arabic), 7/25/2014]

Militia prevents prime minister from traveling through Mitiga airport
According to a government statement, the militia controlling Mitiga airport prevented caretaker Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni and a number of officials from traveling through. The delegation had planned to go to the city of Tobruk for meetings in the eastern part of Libya. The statement said that the incident underscored the fact that the Mitiga airport is outside of state authority. [Radio Sawa (Arabic), 7/25/2014]


First humanitarian aid enters Syria without government consent
The United Nations said on Thursday that the first humanitarian aid convoy had entered Syria from Turkey without the Syrian government consent. The aid supplies were made possible due to the authorization of a new UN Security Council resolution. Nine trucks carrying food and sanitation supplies entered Syria from Turkey on Thursday, officials said. Syria has warned that it views the UN convoys as an attack on its sovereignty. [BBC, Reuters, NY Times, 7/25/2014]

Rise of ISIS tests the Syrian army strategy
The growing power of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is forcing the Syrian army to confront the group that it has until now been reluctant to attack for political reasons. The Syrian regime has allowed the militant group to grow in power due to targeting of rebel groups. Now the atmosphere has shifted. On Friday, an offensive by ISIS against Syrian government held territory has killed at least seventy-four people. Last week ISIS killed 270 soldiers, guards, and staff when it captured a gas field in central Syria, in the deadliest clash yet between the group and government forces. [Reuters, 7/25/2014]

UN accused all sides in the Syrian crisis of blocking humanitarian aid
The United Nations declared that the Syrian government has stepped up attacks on hospitals and clinics, and it accused all sides of blocking aid deliveries. The UN Security Council reported that both government forces and rebel fighters were increasingly targeting vital services such as water stations and electric cables. [NOW, 7/25/2014]


World Bank approves $300 million program to strengthen local governance in Tunisia
On Thursday, the World Bank (WB) board of executive directors approved $300 million program focused on improving the performance and local governance of municipalities. As a step toward supporting the Tunisian national priority of decentralization, the program aims to empower municipalities to make decisions, raise their capacity to deliver services, and make them more accountable to the seven million Tunisians, seventy percent of the population, who live in cities. Additionally, Tunisia began implementation of a World Trade Association (WTO) trade facilitation agreement adopted in December 2013. [TAP, 7/24/2014]

Over half of deputies absent on second day of discussion of supplementary finance bill
110 deputies were absent on Thursday, the second day of the discussion of the supplementary draft finance law for 2014. Out of a total of 217 deputies, only 107 were present. Members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) who met Thursday at a plenary session first rejected Article 10 of the supplementary draft finance law 2014 on the budget for the Ministry of Finance, though the article was reconsidered and eventually accepted after amendment for the second time. The law provides for an increase of 167 million dinars ($97 million) in the budget of the Ministry of Finance. Mongi Rahoui said that a number of deputies sought to punish the Ministry of Finance for having decreased the NCA budget by 5 million dinars ($2.9 million). [TAP, 7/24/2014]

Tunisia arrests terror suspects
Tunisian security services arrested six terror suspects in Sousse, the interior ministry said Wednesday, July 23. The men are accused of planning terror attacks on public sites and security positions in the Sahel region of the country. On Thursday in Mahdia, national security forces arrested a leader in the banned organization Ansar al-Sharia, who was planning terrorist acts. [Magharebia, TAP, 7/24/2014]

Foreign investments in Tunisia down by 24.6 percent
The foreign investment flow did not exceeded 545 million dinars ($317 million) in the first five months of 2014, a 24.6 percent drop compared with the same period in 2013, according to the latest statistics published by the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA). [TAP, 7/25/2014]


Yemeni officials killed by unknown gunmen in Lahj and Ibb
Major Belal Karo, commander of an army unit in Lahj, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen riding a motorbike on Thursday in Lahj. Also on Thursday,  unidentified gunmen on a motorbike also assassinated Colonel Antar, former assistant to the director-general of security in Ibb. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/24/2014]

Yemen resumes oil flow after pipeline repair
Yemen resumed pumping crude oil through its main export pipeline on Thursday after seven people were killed in brief clashes between soldiers and tribesmen. Tribesmen blew up the main oil pipeline in Marib on July 12, halting crude flows and disrupting a main source of revenue for the impoverished state. The Marib pipeline carries around 70,000-110,000 barrels per day of Marib light crude from the Safer oilfields to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea. Meanwhile, Aden refineries announced on Thursday the arrival of 75 thousand tons of crude oil shipments from Saudi Aramco and Total. [ReutersAl Masdar (Arabic), 7/24/2014]

UN official says Yemen could be first country to run out of water
Since the political crisis erupted in Yemen in 2011, the country has begun to move towards democracy. Many challenges remain in the country, wracked by civil unrest and widespread water and food insecurity. “The whole humanitarian situation in Yemen is culminating from a long negligence of development,” said Bishow Parajuli, the United Nations World Food Programme representative in Yemen. “It’s sort of an economic downfall. There is a big threat in terms of revenue-generating potential,” said Parajuli. [UNDP, 7/25/2014]


Strong calls for al-Maliki to step down
Iraq’s senior cleric on Friday urged political leaders to refrain from clinging to their posts n an apparent reference to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said leaders should show flexibility so that political deadlocks could be broken and Iraq could confront the serious ISIS threat. For their part, the US expressed frustration for the lack of commitment by the Iraqi government to reconcile and push harder for the formation of a power-sharing government. [Reuters, 7/25/2014]

Bahrain asks court to temporarily suspend two opposition groups
Bahrain has asked a court to suspend the activities of two opposition groups, according to state news agency BNA. The justice ministry asked a court to stop the Justice and Development Movement (JDM) from working for three months until the party restructures its legal status in accordance with the law and its own rules. The ministry also asked for The National Democratic Action Society, known as Waad, to be suspended for three months. [Reuters, 7/26/2014]