Top News: Houthis Reject Appointment of New Prime Minister

President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi attempted to appoint his chief of staff and former Secretary General of the National Dialogue Conference Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak to the position of prime minister. However, Houthis summarily rejected the move, claiming that the US embassy in Sana’a played a role in the appointment that Mubarak was not a neutral appointment.

A prominent member of the Houthi political bureau posted on his Facebook page, “This decision has met widespread popular rejection and the people are preparing to resume the revolutionary escalation…” The rejection could derail the September 21 peace and partnership agreement, under the terms of which the Houthis were expected to relinquish their hold on Sana’a. Houthi representatives said that the appointment of a prime minister remained “under consultation.”



US envoy against ISIS to hold talks in Cairo
A US envoy tasked with building a coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is expected to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, where he will hold talks on fostering the US-led alliance, state news agency MENA reported. Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary of state, will accompany retired general John Allen, a former top US commander in Afghanistan. Both diplomats, who held talks with Jordanian officials in Amman on Tuesday, are due to meet Egyptian government officials and Arab League leaders to discuss efforts to “bolster” the international coalition. Egypt has not announced any specific involvement in the raids but President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said recently in an interview with AP that Egypt is “completely committed to giving support.” [Ahram Online, 10/8/2014]

Egypt will return $500 million to Qatar in October, says CBE
Egypt will return a $500 million deposit from Qatar, made last year during the presidency of Mohamed Morsi, following a request from Doha, the governor of Egypt’s central bank said Wednesday. Hisham Ramez told Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar Tuesday that Qatar had not yet asked for the return of a $2.5 billion deposit which was due to be repaid in November. [Ahram Online, 10/8/2014]

Egypt, Libya announce deeper security cooperation to ‘fight terrorism’
Egypt will train Libyan forces to fight terrorism and help secure a shared border, the prime ministers of the two states announced in Cairo on Wednesday, stepping up efforts against Islamist insurgents in both countries. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has expressed concerns over militants who have capitalized on the chaos in post-Qaddafi Libya to set up operations there and sneak across the border into Egypt. The arrangement was publicly announced in Cairo, where Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni expressed alarm over Islamist militants controlling large parts of his country. Both prime ministers stressed that extensive cooperation was needed to stem the tide of Islamist militants in chaotic Libya. [Reuters, 10/8/2014]


Anti-Islamist politician killed in eastern city
Gunmen in the eastern city of Derna killed Osama al-Mansouri, a local politician who was a prominent opponent of Islamic militants controlling the city. Rival extremists have vied for control of Derna, and officials there say a number of hardened Libyan militants, some having returned from fighting in Syria and Iraq, have recently patrolled the city flexing military power. Al-Mansouri headed a political group that opposes Islamist groups and advocates autonomy for the eastern region of the country. [AP, 10/7/2014]

Imports from Tunisia down by a quarter
New figures released by Tunisia’s National Institute of Statistics show that country’s exports to Libya have fallen sharply during the first eight months of 2014, reflecting that exports to the neighboring country were down 23.5 percent in January-August compared to the same period last year. The drop is likely due to problems at the Ras Jedir border crossing, which has faced disruption throughout the year, more so with the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Libya. Meanwhile, six Libyans arrested recently on grounds of smuggling are now accused of being terrorists. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 10/8/2014]

Supreme Court begins hearing on House of Representatives
Libya’s Supreme Court began its hearing into whether the House of Representatives sessions in Tobruk are “unconstitutional,” a case brought by a number of House members who have chosen to boycott the parliament. The members also claimed certain decisions approved by the House are against the constitutional declaration, such as one that called for “immediate international intervention to protect civilians and state institutions.” It is unclear when the Supreme Court will issue a final verdict. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 10/8/2014]

Zintan claims further advances against Gharian
Zintani-led forces claim to have repelled Gharian militiamen from taking over a base camp. They also say they have wrested control of another camp from Gharianis and shot down a helicopter belonging to Operation Libya Dawn. The claims have not been independently verified, but the clashes appear to be linked to two military operations: Operation Dawn’s response to advances made by the Warshefana and Zintanis, and the other a bid by the Zintanis to isolate Gharian by cutting the main road linking it to Tripoli. [Libya Herald, 10/8/2014]


Airstrikes slow ISIS in Kobani; Diaspora Kurds return to fight; Protests across Turkey
ISIS launched a new offensive in the east of the embattled Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab (Kobani in Kurdish) after withdrawing from parts of it following US-led strikes that killed forty-five ISIS fighters overnight. At least three fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were killed in the fighting on Wednesday, along with an unspecified number of jihadists. Joining the fight, dozens of Kurds from the European diaspora have left their Western lives behind to take up arms. Late Tuesday and early Wednesday, Kurdish anti-government protests erupted across southern Turkey in response to Ankara’s perceived inaction on Kobani. At least fourteen protesters have been killed. [Naharnet, Guardian, Washington Post, 10/8/2014]

Syria discloses secret chemical weapons facilities
The Syrian regime alerted the UN to four previously undisclosed chemical weapons facilities, heightening concerns that the regime has been not been open about its chemical weapons program. UN diplomats said they were told during closed consultations that three of the facilities are for research and development and one is for production, and that no new chemical agents have been associated with the four sites. The UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said the dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons facilities is expected to begin this month, and the first of the twelve facilities should be destroyed by the end of November. [The Guardian, 10/7/2014]

UN Syria envoy calls for international action to defend Kobani
The UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday urged the international community to take decisive action to defend the Kurdish town of Kobani, located on the Turkish-Syrian border, which has been under siege by Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham militants since September. His comments came as Turkey warned that ISIS militants were on the verge of seizing control of the strategic town after a desperate weeks-long defense by Kurdish fighters. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that so far, at least 412 people, more than half of them jihadists, have been killed in and around Kobane since mid-September. [Naharnet, 10/8/2014]


UN Secretary General expected in Tunis on Friday
The Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General confirmed Tuesday that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be in Tunis on Friday to meet with President Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, and Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi. The secretary general is expected to convey the international community’s support to Tunisia’s transition ahead of parliamentary elections later this month as well as the presidential elections scheduled for November. [All Africa, TAP, 10/8/2014]

Economic growth drops to 2.4 percent in 2014
The Executive Board of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) issued its latest forecast on the country’s economic growth noting a lower than expected growth rate of 2.4 percent, down from the 2.8 percent indicated in earlier projections. A statement issued on Tuesday by the bank’s executive board noted that the ongoing energy deficits and rising inflation was responsible for the current evaluation. [All Africa, 10/8/2014]

Public financing for parliamentary elections estimated at twelve million dollars
The Ministry of Finance on Tuesday announced the allocation of twelve million Tunisian dollars to support the 2014 parliamentary election campaigns. Officials noted that the funds would be distributed to twenty-six domestic constituencies and six constituencies abroad. As of October 3, 2014, an estimated five million had already been disbursed to various constituencies through the country. [TAP, 10/9/2014]


Houthis reject appointment of new prime minister
President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi attempted to appoint his chief of staff and former Secretary General of the National Dialogue Conference Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak to the position of prime minister. However, Houthis summarily rejected the move, claiming that the US embassy in Sana’a played a role in the appointment that Mubarak was not a neutral appointment. A prominent member of the Houthi political bureau posted on his Facebook page, “This decision has met widespread popular rejection and the people are preparing to resume the revolutionary escalation…” The rejection could derail the September 21 peace and partnership agreement, under the terms of which the Houthis were expected to relinquish their hold on Sana’a. Houthi representatives said that the appointment of a prime minister remained “under consultation.” [Reuters; Al Masdar (Houthi political bureau statement, Arabic) 10/7/2014]

Al-Qaeda attacks security forces in Bayda
Al-Qaeda militants attacked security and government buildings in the city of Bayda on Wednesday. According to witnesses, targets included the provincial administrative headquarters and a special security forces center. The militants allegedly attacked using guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and a suicide bombing, though they were eventually repulsed by security forces. The number of confirmed casualties from the attack is thirteen, with reports claiming at least nine police were killed in the bombing attack and four soldiers were killed in skirmishes. The attacks followed a meeting of some of Bayda’s Sunni tribal sheikhs in which they decided to “respond to the increased presence of Shia Houthi rebels in Bayda,” according to a government official. Some Sunni leaders in Bayda province, which is one of al-Qaeda’s Yemeni enclaves, believe that the Houthis have ties to security forces. [Naharnet, 10/8/2014]

Herak movement leader reveals work toward unity government with Sana’a
Hussein Zaid bin Yahya, a leader in the southern Herak movement, has claimed that consultations between high level southern and northern leaders are under way with the ultimate goal of achieving a unity government. Yahya claimed that discussions centered on the idea of splitting the country into two federal administrative regions, north and south, rather than the six called for by the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference. He said, “Yemen is unable to have a central government in Sana’a, let alone in the territories,” and that a north-south division made the most sense economically. Yahya claimed that the unity talks stemmed from the September 21 peace agreement. [Aden al-Ghad, 10/8/2014]


ISIS downs a second Iraqi helicopter near Baghdad
Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or Islamic State) militants on Wednesday shot down an Iraqi military attack helicopter, killing the two pilots in the second such incident in a week and raising concerns about the extremists’ ability to attack aircraft amid ongoing US-led airstrikes. Iraqi security forces indicated that the extremists used a shoulder-fired missile to take down the Bell 407 helicopter, which crashed just north of the refinery town of Beiji, located about 130 miles north of Baghdad. Militants had also shot down an Mi-35 helicopter near Beiji on Friday, also killing the pilot and co-pilot in that attack. [AP, 10/8/2014]

Hezbollah claims cross border attack into Israel
Top Hezbollah official, Sheikh Naim Qassem, on Tuesday confirmed that Hezbollah fighters were responsible for a cross border attack that wounded two Israeli soldiers in south Lebanon, two days after a Lebanese soldier was wounded by Israeli fire in the area. The Israeli military confirmed the incident and announced that it had fired artillery at two Hezbollah positions in response to the attack. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon issued a statement condemning both attacks and urged both parties to exercise restraint and de-escalate current tensions, noting that an investigation into the incident was also underway. [The Daily Star, 10/8/2014]

Canada approves military action in Iraq
Canadian legislators on Tuesday approved government plans to send fighter jets to Iraq, where they will take part in US-led air strikes against ISIS militants for up to six months. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, stated that his country would not deploy ground troops. With the measure approved, Canada is expected to provide up to six CF-18 fighter planes, as well as surveillance and refueling aircraft and about 600 personnel. [Reuters, BBC, 10/8/2014]