Top News: Iran and United States Welcome Iraq’s New PM

Iraq’s new prime minister-designate won immediate endorsements from both the United States and Iran on Tuesday. Haider al-Abadi called on Iraqi political leaders to end the crippling feuds that have let the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) seize a third of the country.






Human Rights Watch says Raba’a killings “likely crime against humanity”
The killing of hundreds of Egyptian demonstrators at two protest camps last year was systematic, ordered by top officials and probably amounts to crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday, calling for a UN inquiry. HRW also called on Egypt’s allies to suspend military aid and cooperation with the Egyptian authorities until the government adopts measures to end human rights violations. The 188-page report said at least 817 protesters were killed in August, 2013, during the clearing of the Brotherhood sit-in at Cairo’s Raba’a al-Adaweya, in the wake of former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. The report compared the attack to the 1989 massacre of protesters around China’s Tiananmen Square [Reuters, Ahram Online, AP, Mada Masr, The Guardian, Shorouk (Arabic), 8/12/2014]

Adly presses charges against Jan 25 activists for burning police stations
Former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly is pressing charges against activists involved in the January 25, 2011 uprising, his lawyer Essam al-Batawy said on Monday. He also said that the Cairo Criminal Court referred the charges to Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat and that Adly is waiting for the prosecution to take his testimony. Adly is accusing Dostour Party leader Gameela Ismail, high-profile activists Samia Jaheen and Ahmed Douma, and others of setting police stations ablaze with Molotov cocktails during the mass protests and calling for former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in 2011. Adly’s aides have also accused diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei of inciting violence during the uprising and being an emblem of a US-led conspiracy. [Mada Masr, 8/11/2014]

Egypt’s secular electoral blocs split after Moussa’s withdrawal
Two separate secular electoral alliances have been formed in recent days, with the objective of entering the coming parliamentary elections and winning a majority in the new House of Representatives. The move came after Amr Moussa, Egypt’s former high-profile foreign minister, withdrew from the Egyptian Nation alliance, the umbrella grouping of leftist and liberal forces he had hoped would contest parliamentary polls as the country’s major secular bloc. On Sunday, the Wafd, Egypt’s oldest political party, and other secular forces decided to team up into one major electoral bloc under called the “Egyptian Wafd” alliance. The Modern Egypt and al-Ghad (Tomorrow) parties, led by businessmen Nabil Diibis and Mostafa Moussa respectively, decided to join the NDP-led coalition, the Egyptian Front. [Ahram Online. 8/11/2014]

Egypt government falls behind on repayment schedule for foreign oil companies
The Egyptian government is aiming to repay a large part of its dues, which total almost $1.5 billion, over this year to foreign partners in the petroleum sector, according to Tarek al-Molla, head of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation. The dollarized loan arrangement, the value of which has not yet been determined, will be proposed to foreign banks in order to pay part of the dues to foreign partners in US dollars. Molla pointed out that while the value of the loan is still under discussion, it will be provided for under the loan ceiling in Egypt in the present economic conditions. He added that a loan arrangement of EGP 4 billion was determined yesterday through local banks for a partial payment to another foreign partner. [DNE, 8/11/2014]


Libyan parliament agrees on direct presidential election
Libya’s House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday for the country’s next president to be elected directly by the people in a popular vote. The country’s western partners hope the new parliament will open space for negotiations and help to stabilize Libya, after weeks of clashes between rival militias and their political backers that have turned the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi into battlefields. No date has been set for the election. [Reuters, 8/12/2014]

New UN special envoy to Libya appointed
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) officially announced that Special Representative Tarek Mitri will be replaced at the end of the month. The European Union’s special envoy to Libya Bernardo Leon will take over the post. There was talk within the diplomatic community that a different style of leadership was needed at the helm of the UN mission for Libya, which, like many other states and organizations, has found it challenging to operate in Libya. Staff were relocated to Tunisia just a few weeks ago. [Libya Herald, 8/11/2014]

Tripoli security director assassinated
Colonel Mohamed al-Suwaisi, the head of the  Tripoli security directorate, was assassinated today in Tajoura. He was shot several times while in his car by unknown gunmen, who seized and drove off with two colleagues who were accompanying the director. Al-Suweisi was appointed to his post last October and was in charge of the police in the capital as well as its overall security matters. He had come out in support of General Haftar’s Operation Dignity in Benghazi. [Libya Herald, 8/12/2014]

Reports of new fuel depot fire as threat of LROR attack against Warshefana looms
A Brega oil and gas marketing company spokesperson denied reports that a fuel depot near the airport in Tripoli had again been ignited, despite the visible black smoke hanging over Tripoli. Although no fighting has been reported yet, residents in Janzour expressed fear over renewed shelling following news that the Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room (LROR) is gathered in Zawiya and planning an assault on the Warshefana. In contrast, there are claims in the Warshefana area that a peace deal agreed to with Zawiya three days ago is holding. [Libya Herald, 8/11/2014]


Barrel bomb in Aleppo kills more than a dozen
At least thirteen people were killed and seventeen wounded after a government helicopter dropped a barrel bomb on a rebel-held area in the city of Aleppo. Residents found children “torn apart” following the barrel bomb attack. The death toll could rise because of the number of seriously injured people. In another part of the city, three children died and a dozen people were wounded after rebel rockets struck a regime-held district, the Observatory said. [Al Jazeera, 8/10/2014]

Lebanon considers closing border with Syria
Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said Monday that Lebanon was considering closing its borders with Syria. “The Lebanese government sees no objection in taking any decisions or actions that will protect Lebanese territory and Lebanese people and guests [residing] in its territories,” Derbas told reporters following a meeting of the ministerial committee tasked with following up on the Syrian refugee crisis. The issue of moving refugees, who are currently spread across the country, into more regulated settlements was also discussed, and government officials agreed that the number of refugees in Lebanon must be reduced. “I believe there will be new solutions by Thursday.” [Daily Star, 8/12/2014]

GlaxoSmithKline faces fresh drug bribery claims in Syria
GlaxoSmithKline—one of the few big firms still supplying drugs in Syria—faces new allegations that it bribed Syrian doctors and officials to boost sales of its medicines, following recent accusations of corruption in its non-prescription business in the country. GSK said on Monday it would investigate the new claims involving its own staff and local distributors. The attack on the drug maker’s ethical standards follows a series of similar bribery claims against the company in China, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Poland. [Reuters, 8/11/2014]


Minister paints gloomy financial picture for Tunisia in 2015
On Monday the Tunisian minister of economy and finance, Hakim Ben Hammouda, painted a gloomy financial picture for the North African country, saying that domestic and foreign investors are still hesitating to do business. Hammouda said that the overall financial situation in the country “has not improved” and will be tougher in 2015, despite austere measures taken by the Tunisian government to manage debts. [African Manager, 8/11/2014]

Examination of Tunisia’s draft anti-terrorism law begins
The examination in plenary session of the draft anti-terrorism and money laundering law started Monday afternoon. One of the main proposals for modification of the draft law is to specify that the public authorities in charge of implementing this law must respect the constitutional guarantees and the international conventions of human rights. In July, Human Rights Watch released a statement calling for Tunisian lawmakers to revise the draft law to make it fully consistent with international human rights standards on fair trial, privacy, and freedom of expression. [TAP, 8/11/2014]

More than 147,000 persons fleeing Libya crossed Ras Ajdir border post
More than 147,000 persons from seventy-four nationalities, including 12,300 Egyptians, crossed the Ras Ajdir border post since the outbreak of the crisis and violence in Libya. The pace of arrivals of Egyptian has slowed down, as their entry in Tunisia is related to the schedule of air flights evacuating Egyptians. Since the start of the crisis, nationals from many countries, including Indonesians, Thai, and Indians crossed the border post. More than 500 Indians were evacuated by two air flights towards their countries from Djerba/Zarzis international airport. [TAP, Arrakmia, 8/11/2014]


Plot to assassinate former Yemeni president foiled
An assassination plot against Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has been foiled, his party has claimed. In a Monday statement, the General People’s Congress said that a tunnel dug by a “terrorist” group that leads to Saleh’s house in the capital Sana’a had been discovered. The party claimed that the tunnel had been planned to be used to carry out a “terrorist” operation against him. The party said that incumbent President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi has ordered an investigation into the alleged plot. [Sahafa (Arabic), Turkish Press, 8/11/2014]

Yemen drew only sixteen percent of donor aid so far
Head of the Executive Bureau for the Acceleration of Aid Absorption and Implementation of the Mutual Accountability Framework (SEBAA), Amat al-Alim al-Soswa, has revealed that the authorities have drawn only sixteen percent out of the $10 billion in donor aid that was pledged after the 2011 unrest. [Yemen Post, 8/11/2014]

Cabinet approves funding agreements
In a meeting on Monday chaired by the deputy prime minister, the cabinet approved a grant for a project aimed at strengthening accountability between Yemen and the International Bank for Reconstruction (IBRD) and Development and the International Development Association (IDA). Under terms of the grant, $6 million will be allocated to strengthen the capacities of institutions working to provide access to information and improve the implementation of anti-corruption law. [Saba, 8/11/2014]

Government renews call on Houthi militants to withdraw from Amran
A group of Houthis supervised a meeting of the local city council in Amran on Monday. Houthi Military Commander Abu Ali al-Hakim has been presiding over local city council meetings ever since Governor Faisal Shamlan left Amran following the Houthi takeover in July 2014. Houthi militant Faisal Haider announced during the meeting the formation of a committee comprised of twenty personnel tasked with monitoring the performance of local offices. In related news, the Yemeni government renewed on Monday its call for the Houthis to hand over all public offices and start a complete withdrawal from Amran. [Yemen Post, 8/11/2014]


Iran and United States welcome Iraq’s new PM
Iraq’s new prime minister-designate won immediate endorsements from both the United States and Iran on Tuesday. Haider al-Abadi called on Iraqi political leaders to end the crippling feuds that have let the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) seize a third of the country. Nouri al-Maliki has refused to step aside after eight years as Prime Minister, even after losing support from his party, the United States, and Iran. Maliki angrily dismissed Abadi’s nomination on Monday as illegal, but showed no further sign of opposition on Tuesday. [Reuters, NY Times, 8/12/2014]

ISIS sought to turn Lebanon into Iraq
A Lebanese army commander stated that the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) insurgents planned to turn Lebanon into another Iraq by igniting a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shia. General Jean Kahwaji said ISIS planned to turn the Sunni Muslim town of Arsal into a frontline from which to advance on surrounding Shia villages, igniting a sectarian firestorm. Dozens of militants were killed in Arsal during a five-day battle with the Lebanese army, which ended with ISIS withdrawing into the mountainous border zone with Syria. [Reuters, 8/12/2014]

GCC envoys to return to Qatar
Oman’s Foreign Minister has said that he expects all the problems between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Qatar to be solved soon. Yousuf Bin Alawi announced, “We will see soon the return of the GCC ambassadors to Qatar and an end to all issues among the GCC countries.” Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all pulled out their ambassadors from the Qatari capital Doha amid complaints that Qatar was not fully committed to GCC policies. Bin Alawi statements come as the leaders from the GCC have held meetings with Qatari officials in order to bridge the strained relations between the two. [Gulf News, 8/12/2014]

Kuwait revokes citizenships citing state security
Kuwait has revoked the citizenship of ten people, including activists, the government announced on Monday. The government decision is based on a provision in the nationality law that allows citizenship to be revoked of those who threaten Kuwait’s security, social order, or economy. Local media said among those affected were activist Nabil al-Awadhi, who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Saad al-Ajami, a former journalist turned spokesman for the opposition Popular Action Movement. [Al Arabiya, 8/12/2014]