Top News: Heavy Fighting Breaks Out Near Libya’s Tripoli Airport, Killing at Least Three

Heavy fighting erupted between rival militias vying for control of Libya’s main airport on Sunday, and ensuing clashes killed at least five people, wounded twenty-five, and grounded all flights in the worst fighting the capital has seen in months.


Appeal court rules Mubarak party figures can run for parliament
Cairo’s Appeal Court for Urgent Matters ruled on Monday that leading members of deposed president Hosni Mubarak’s political party can run in upcoming parliamentary elections. The verdict overturns an earlier ruling, issued in May, which banned leading members of the now defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) from running in presidential, parliamentary, and municipal council elections. The appeals court said the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters did not have jurisdiction to make the original ruling, which should have been made by the administrative court. Judges also said the plaintiff, lawyer Tahany Ibrahim, had not presented substantial evidence to prove corruption by leading NDP members. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 7/14/2014]

World Bank approves $300 million interest-free loan
The World Bank approved a $300 million interest-free loan to fund micro and small enterprises (MSEs), Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour announced on Sunday. The government plans to cooperate with the World Bank in building infrastructure for small and medium enterprises, particularly in the impoverished Upper Egyptian governorates, Abdel-Nour said. He added that this is the first loan to Egypt from the World Bank since former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, SIS, 7/13/2014]

Eight killed in mortar attack in Sinai
Militants in northern Sinai fired mortar rounds late Sunday at a military post in the provincial capital of al-Arish, killing a soldier and seven civilians (including two children) in a nearby residential complex. A senior security official said the attack hit the military post located near a compound of residential buildings in the al-Salam district. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a supermarket, pharmacy, and a residential building also were hit by mortar fire. The head of al-Arish hospital said that among civilians killed were a ten year-old girl and a twelve year-old boy. He said twenty-four others were wounded, including an eleven year-old girl. [AP, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, SIS, Mada Masr, 7/13/2014]

Egypt’s Sisi warns against Gaza ‘escalation’
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned Saturday that escalating the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza would cost more “innocent lives,” as the death toll continues to climb. Around half a dozen Israelis have been wounded since the start of the week-long offensive, which health officials in Gaza say has killed 169 Palestinians, most of them civilians. During a phone call with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Sisi also said Egypt’s internal affairs will not interfere with its pursuit of a just settlement for Palestinians that safeguards their rights. Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said late Saturday that “extensive calls” by Egypt for an end to the aggression on Gaza are being met with “stubbornness and escalation” by Israel. Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing again on Saturday to receive injured people and permit the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip. The border was opened Thursday for twenty-four hours before it was closed again, prompting nine political parties and movements to call on Egyptian authorities on Saturday to “indefinitely” open the Rafah border crossing, in the wake of the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza. [AFP, 7/14/2014]


Heavy fighting breaks out near Libya’s Tripoli airport, killing at least three
Heavy fighting erupted between rival militias vying for control of Libya’s main airport on Sunday, and ensuing clashes killed at least five people, wounded twenty-five, and grounded all flights in the worst fighting the capital has seen in months. Residents said that Zintan militiamen controlling the airport came under fire. Local TV footage suggests that the attacking rebels were from Misrata. The US State Department expressed deep concern over the violence, saying that Libya’s future can only be secured through a political accord and national dialogue. The UN Support Mission in Libya temporarily relocated some of its international staff out of Libya due to safety concerns. A new military movement issued warnings to two recognized army brigades —the Qaaqaa and Sawaq—to withdraw from Tripoli. [Reuters, Libya Herald, 7/13/2014]

Protesters shut down Brega oil port
Protesters shut down the eastern Libyan oil port of Brega, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Saturday, just days after the government reopened major ports following almost a year of blockage. An NOC spokesman said he did not know the demands of the protesters, who are members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG), comprising former revolutionary fighters. The government has tried to co-opt militias in the absence of a national army but has been unable to control them. [Reuters, 7/12/2014]

Government to reduce petrol subsidies
Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni confirmed that the government is considering ways to gradually phase out the national fuel subsidy, which is estimated at 365 million Libyan dinars (LD) per year and has a hugely negative impact on the economy. Subsidies and price stabilization costs of LD 11.93 billion—LD 7 billion of which were for fuel subsidies—were included in the LD 59.95 billion budget, approved by the General National Congress last month. Hardwired into the 2014 budget is a commitment to substitute the current goods and fuel subsidies for cash subsidies by January 1, 2015. [Libya Herald, 7/11/2014]

Libya wants EU partnership to fight illegal migration
The Libyan government and the European Union (EU) have agreed to tackle the challenge of illegal migration together. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni met last week with EU officials at his office, and expressed his government’s desire to find a multifaceted solution to the problem, not just a temporary fix. Specifically, al-Thinni asked for EU cooperation in training, technology, and the construction of new detention centers. [Libya Herald, 7/11/2014]


Syrian rebel commander assassinated in Jordan
A Syrian rebel commander has been killed in the Jordanian capital in the first such incident on the country’s territory since the start of the conflict in Syria, a police source said on Saturday. Maher Rahal who headed the Liwa al-Mujahideen Brigade was shot five times in a residential area of the capital late on Friday. This news comes as the Jordanian government announced that it was is reluctant to host and expanded rebel training programs on its territory. US officials and analysts said Jordan fears violent retaliation from Syria if its territory is used for overt training by US military units. [Reuters, 7/14/2014]

Jihadists expel Syrian rebel fighters from Deir Ezzor
The jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) group took control of the rebel-held half of the eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor on Monday, a monitoring group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that rival rebel groups either gave in and joined the jihadists or fled from the strategic Euphrates valley city. According to the Observatory, ISIS jihadists are now in control of “95 to 98 percent of Deir Ezzor province.” [AFP, Reuters, 7/14/2014]

UN set to vote on allowing cross-border aid to Syrians
The UN Security Council is set to vote on a resolution that would allow for cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrians in desperate need of food and medicine, without government approval. The resolution would authorize UN agencies and aid organizations to use routes across conflict lines and four border crossings coming from Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan. [The Daily Star, 7/14/2014]

US concerned over foreign fighters in Syria working with Yemenis
US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. expressed concern on Sunday over reports that bomb makers from Yemen responsible for the 2009 underwear-bomb plot are now in Syria cooperating with foreign militants. Holder said that fighters from Europe and the United States fighting in Syria might join forces with the Yemeni bomb makers, thus creating major security threats when these fighters return to their home countries. [Reuters, NY Times, 7/14/2014]


Joint forces to secure borders
Joint forces between Libya and its neighbors will be created to secure borders between them, caretaker President Moncef Marzouki asserted on Sunday. The joint forces would seek to eliminate the growing security threat in the region. This announcement came out of the Third Ministerial Conference of Libya’s Neighbor Countries, which opened Sunday in Hammamet. Ministers of Algeria, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Egypt, the Arab League, and the African Union attended. Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz was unable to attend, as Tripoli airspace was closed; Libya’s ambassador in Tunis attended instead. The two-day meeting will discuss developments in Libya and how to support Libyan efforts to launch a national dialogue, establish transitional justice, and strengthen the state institutions and the democratic transition process. [TAP, 7/14/2014]

Calm restored in Guellala after night of violent clashes
Calm was restored on Saturday in the town of Guellala after violent clashes Friday between residents and security units, following the reopening of a local landfill by force. The landfill has been under the protection of the National Army since Friday and the evidence of damage is still visible, particularly the burning of part of the administrative offices. The interior ministry denied having shot live bullets at demonstrators. The ministry said that police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of protesters blocking the road to the landfill while preventing garbage trucks from accessing the area. [[TAP, 7/12/2014]

Jomaa issues warning to Hizb ut-Tahrir
Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa issued a written warning to the Hizb ut-Tahrir party Thursday, accusing it of violating Presidential Decree 87 of 2011, which prevents parties from calling for violence and requires them to “respect the values of the republic.” Jomaa issued the warning following Hizb ut-Tahrir’s annual conference, “Establishment of the Caliphate and Removal of Colonialism,” held in June. Tunisia’s General Administration for Associations and Parties found that the conference violated many of the rules in Decree 87. Ridha Belhaj, president of Hizb ut-Tahrir, described Jomaa’s actions as “clownish and illegal,” on his official Facebook page. [Tunisia Live, 7/11/2014]

Marzouki willing to send high-level official delegation to Gaza

Caretaker President Moncef Marzouki asserted his will to send a high-level official delegation to Gaza Strip. Marzouki called the Israeli attack against Gaza a violation of the international human law. Tunisia will send food and medical aid to Gaza in an attempt to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people who have been under Israeli attack since Tuesday. [TAP, 7/14/2014]


Demonstrators in Sana’a call for defense minister’s resignation
Hundreds of Sana’a residents took to the streets on Friday calling for the immediate resignation of Yemen’s defense minister Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed over his failure to protect Amran. Protesters voiced their frustration over what they perceive as military apathy toward the rebels. In related news, Houthi rebels surrendered an army camp to the Yemeni government on Saturday to try to defuse tensions with the army. Clashes erupted between Houthi rebels and the army on Monday after the rebels attempted to take over a mountain overlooking Sana’a. [Yemen Post, 7/11/2014, ReutersAl Masdar (Arabic), 7/14/2014]

Bomb attack hits oil pipeline in Marib
A bomb attack on Yemen’s main oil export pipeline on Saturday halted crude oil flows in Marib. The pipeline carries around 70,000 to 110,000 barrels per day of light crude oil. The pipeline was repaired in May 2014 after an earlier attack by tribesmen. Reasons behind the attack remain unclear. Attacks on oil pipelines are regularly carried out to pressure the government to provide jobs, settle land disputes, or free relatives from prison. [Reuters, 7/12/2014]

Unions increase involvement in constitution drafting
In a three day seminar organized by Youth Development Foundation (YDF), focusing on the role of unions in the process of constitution-drafting and promoting active citizenship, union leaders asked for the inclusion of articles to address union rights in the new constitution. [Yemen Post, 7/12/2014]


Iraq parliament adjourned, ISIS captures more territory
In the latest session, Iraq’s parliament once again failed reach an agreement over forming the new government. After the brief session, parliamentary officials announced the next session would be held on Tuesday. Separately, a new classified military assessment of Iraq’s security forces concluded that many units are so deeply infiltrated by either Sunni extremist informants or Shia personnel backed by Iran, that any Americans assigned to advise Baghdad’s forces could face threats to their safety. This news comes as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) made further progress in capturing towns closer to the capital city of Baghdad. The Sunni Islamist insurgents attacked Dhuluiya (a town forty-five miles north of Baghdad) early on Sunday, seizing local government buildings, police and witnesses said. [AFP, NY Times, 7/14/2014]

Bomb targets Algerian troops
A roadside bomb killed three Algerian soldiers and four auxiliaries in the west of Algeria, the defense ministry said on Sunday. The blast struck in the Sidi Bel-Abbes region 275 miles west of the capital, the ministry said. At least fifty-six Islamists have been killed in clashes with the army since the beginning of the year. [AFP, 7/14/2014]

Thirty-one deaths in a Baghdad brothel raid
Gunmen stormed two buildings in Baghdad’s residential district of Zayouna, known in the area for housing rented flats where a notorious pimp kept up to sixty women. The only male victims of the raid appeared to have had their hands tied behind their backs before being executed. It was not immediately known who was responsible for deaths, but residents suggest that jihadist groups were behind the attack. [AFP, 7/14/2014]