Top News: ISIS Captures Kurdish Headquarters in Kobani

ISIS militants overran the headquarters of Kurdish forces defending the battleground Syrian border town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab in Arabic) on Friday. Fierce fighting had raged for the complex throughout the morning after ISIS militants captured part of it used by the Kurds’ internal security force on Thursday.

ISIS now controls 40 percent of the town, after entering eastern districts on Monday and attacking from the west and the south. The capture of the headquarters will allow the jihadists to advance on the border post with Turkey to the north of the town, which would result in the Kurdish forces inside Kobani surrounded.




Sisi amends Police Authority law
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued on Thursday a presidential decree amending some provisions of the Police Authority law. Under the amendments, military judiciary alone became the only body tasked with trying crimes committed by recruits at the Police Authority. [SIS, 10/10/2014]

Egypt can fight “terrorism” with moderate Islamic thought, says US envoy
Egypt’s foreign affairs minister Sameh Shoukry met Thursday with retired US general John Allen, American special envoy for the US led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The two discussed ways to confront ISIS and support the Iraqi government, which is facing a growing jihadist insurgency. In a statement issued by the foreign affairs ministry, official spokesperson Badr Abdel-Atti said that Egypt was ready to support the United States to strengthen the Iraqi government and rebuild its capabilities. [Ahram Online, SIS, IANS, 10/10/2014]

Egypt discusses economic reform with IMF
Egypt is currently speaking with the IMF and World Bank Group (WBG) about the country’s reform program with financial institutions and credit agencies, according to Minister of International Cooperation Najla Ahwani. Minister of Finance Hany Qadry Dimian plans to ask the IMF delegation to set a date for evaluating the Egyptian economy in light of the recent procedures carried out to lower energy subsidies and the budget deficit. [Egypt Independent]

Egypt’s universities issue more security regulations ahead of new semester
University administrations are tightening their grip on student communities with an onslaught of new security measures as they prepare for the new academic year on October 11. Cairo University instructed professors to avoid any political or partisan activities on campus. Alexandria University has suspended six student groups for their alleged religious and political affiliations. At Mansoura University, students wishing to renew their ID cards will be required to sign a document obliging them to abide by the university’s discipline regulations. The Beni Suef University Council declared that students who commit actions or circulate speech that is considered offensive to Sisi would face expulsion. Higher Education Minister Al-Sayed Abdel-Khalek warned against partisan activities in universities, saying, “We do not allow students to spy on their colleagues.” [Mada Masr, SIS, Shorouk (Arabic), 10/9/2014]


Six people, including radio presenter, murdered in Benghazi over two days
Well known Al-Watan radio presenter Mutassim al-Warfali was shot and killed in Benghazi, the sixth victim in two days of a targeted assassination, as security personnel, civilians, and public figures continue to be killed with impunity. His assailants have not been identified. Another private citizen, reportedly with some connection to Salafist groups in Benghazi, was also killed. Salafis have regularly been targeted in the city for their allegiance to Operation Dignity. The other victims included a member of the Saiqa Special Forces. [Libya Herald, 10/9/2014]

Libyans subjected to long waits and poor conditions at Ras Jedir crossing
Militiaman in control of Libya’s Ras Jedir border crossing with Tunisia are reportedly subjecting Libyans departing for Tunisia to up to thirty-six-hour waits with limited access to food, water, and adequate toilet facilities. The guards, members of the Libya Shield brigade, reportedly give priority to those with the right “connections,” allegedly threatening to shoot others who try to pass through immediately. Libyans driving into Tunisia are obliged to pay a car tax of thirty Tunisian dinars and, as of this month, have to pay an exit tax of thirty Tunisian dinars per person. [Libya Herald, 10/9/2014]

Benghazi port remains open but volumes down, costs up
The acting manager of Benghazi’s port says it is “impossible” to fully close the facility due to its importance as an economic lifeline but that activity has been affected by the ongoing violence. Handling costs per container have increased by more than 70 percent, with the transportation of goods to Libya costing around double the price of transporting to Tunisia or Egypt. Forces loyal to ex-general Khalifa Haftar have repeatedly warned ships against entering the port. Earlier this week they claimed to have bombed and sunk a ship attempting to gain entry, in a move to prevent the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council from receiving supplies by sea. The port’s acting manager said they are trying to work with the warring sides “to ensure the port remains far from these struggles.” [Libya Monitor (subscription), 10/10/2014]


ISIS captures Kurdish headquarters in Kobani
ISIS militants overran the headquarters of Kurdish forces defending the battleground Syrian border town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab in Arabic) on Friday. Fierce fighting had raged for the complex throughout the morning after ISIS militants captured part of it used by the Kurds’ internal security force on Thursday. ISIS now controls 40 percent of the town, after entering eastern districts on Monday and attacking from the west and the south. The capture of the headquarters will allow the jihadists to advance on the border post with Turkey to the north of the town, which would result in the Kurdish forces inside Kobani surrounded. [Naharnet, 1010/2014]

UN envoy calls on Turkey to prevent Srebrenica-style massacre in Kobani
UN Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura called on Turkey on Friday to help prevent a slaughter in the Syrian border town of Kobani at the hands of ISIS, saying he feared a repeat of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre when thousands died. Ambassador de Mistura appealed to Ankara to let “volunteers” and munitions cross the frontier so that they can reinforce Kurdish militias defending the town that lies within sight of Turkish territory. “Do you remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot and probably we never forgave ourselves,” de Mistura told a news conference. [10/10/2014, Reuters]

Regime artillery kills eighteen civilians in Daraa
At least eighteen civilians, four of them children, were killed in Syrian army bombardment and air strikes in the south of the country Friday. The Hara area stands less than one mile from a strategic hill in Daraa province seized by al-Nusra Front rebels in a battle on October 5, which cost the lives of thirty regime forces and twenty-nine insurgents. [Naharnet, 10/10/2014]

Refugee agencies say Jordan no longer accepting Syrians
Jordan is refusing to let Syrian refugees cross the border, international refugee agencies said on Wednesday, expressing fear that thousands have been left stranded with limited access to food and other supplies. Andrew Harper the top official with UNHCR in Jordan noted that the agency had not recorded any Syrian refugees crossing into Jordan in the past week though government officials insisted that Jordan maintained an open-border policy. Representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirmed Mr. Harper’s assessments noting that the last recorded border crossing was on October 1 when forty-one Syrian refugees were transported from the border to a refugee camp inside Jordanian territory. [NYT, 10/8/2014]


Ennahda hints at a coalition with old regime rivals
Tunisia’s main Islamist party indicated that it is ready to form a coalition government with secular rivals including officials of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Islamist party Ennahda, explained on Friday that the country needed a consensus government, between Islamist and secularist, in order to maintain the progress gained by the transition government. For the first time since the 2011 revolution, former officials from Ben Ali’s regime will be running for office, representing various secular parties participating in the electoral race. [Reuters, 10/10/2014]

Tunisia issues an $825 million bond in the Japanese market
Tunisia’s Central Bank on Friday confirmed it had raised enough funds to support an $825 million bond in the domestic Japanese market. The bank noted that it had raised about $5 billion since 2012, including $1.7 billion from the International Monetary Fund, $1 billion in deposits from other central banks, and about $2.3 billion in bonds guaranteed by countries including the United States. The ten-year bond carries a coupon of 1.61 percent and was arranged by Japan’s Nomura Securities. [Reuters, 10/10/2014]

NCA President meets with IRI representatives ahead of elections
President of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Mustapha Ben Jaafar met with Olin Wethington, the head of the International Republican Institute (IRI) delegation to Tunisia earlier this week to discuss the upcoming parliamentary elections. An NCA press release noted that both leaders reaffirmed the integral role played by election monitors in maintaining the transparency and integrity of the election. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 26 in all domestic and overseas constituencies. [All Africa, 10/10/2014]


Hadi orders committees to investigate suicide bombings
President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi formed two committees on Friday and ordered them to investigate the suicide bombings in Sana’a and Mukalla that rocked Yemen on Thursday, vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice. This comes even as Houthi protesters continue to demonstrate in Sana’a against the appointment of Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak as prime minister, despite the fact that he refused to accept President Hadi’s nomination. The suicide bombings against Houthi protesters in the capital and security forces in Hadramout left sixty-seven dead and at least seventy-five wounded. [Aden al-Ghad, 10/10/2014]

Houthis accuse foreign powers of being behind suicide attack
The Houthis accused unnamed foreign powers of being behind the attack on their protesters in Sana’a. Houthis spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam posted on his Facebook page Thursday night that “the criminal operation that targeted the people in the demonstration… in Tahrir Square confirms the magnitude of the foreign conspiracy against the country and express foreign rejection of political independence.” He also accused foreign parties of promoting “lawlessness” in the Yemen. The Houthi political bureau accused “dark forces” associated with the “American Zionist project in the region” of carrying out the attack. [Al Masdar, 10/9/2014]

Secretary general of People’s Democratic Party calls for north-south disengagement
Salah Sayadi, secretary general of the Yemeni People’s Democratic Party, called for disengagement between political forces in the north and south on Friday and claimed that the south would achieve independence from the north by November 30 of this year. Sayadi blamed the attack on Sana’a on forces from the north, and urged government officials to travel to Aden and combat “barbarism” in the country. He urged southerners to celebrate the October 14 anniversary of the uprising against the British, claiming that these celebrations and demonstrations would culminate in the independence of the south by November 30. [Aden al-Ghad, 10/10/2014]


ISIS militants take Abu Ghraib, threaten greater Baghdad
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or Islamic State) have overrun one of Baghdad’s outer suburbs, Abu Ghraib—only eight miles from the runway perimeter of Baghdad’s international airport. Despite weeks of US-led airstrikes, the radical jihadist group has gradually extended its reach, logging significant gains against Iraqi troops and successfully shooting down two Iraqi military helicopters. Sources indicate that there are at least 60,000 troops mobilized to defend the capital but doubts remain on their ability to counter the ongoing ISIS offensive from the west effectively. [CBS News, 10/10/2014]

Anbar province on the brink of total ISIS control, tribal council warns
Members of the Anbar Tribal Council, the senior-most Sunni tribal organization in Iraq’s western province issued alarming warnings to the Iraqi military explaining that the entire province was on the verge of total control by Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or Islamic State) militants. The announcement comes on the heels of blistering losses by the Iraqi military to ISIS militants in several towns near Ramadi and Fallujah. The acceleration of US-led airstrikes have so far failed to blunt ISIS advances throughout the province rising alarms that the air strategy might not be enough to turn the tide against the violent jihadist group. So far, more than 500,000 residents of Anbar province have been displaced by fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS since the conflict began in December 2013. [Asharq al-Awsat, 10/10/2014]

Lebanese army under fire as cabinet grapples with hostage crisis
The Lebanese Army came under fire in northern Lebanon once again Thursday as the government struggled to reach a comprehensive plan to secure the release of soldiers held by jihadist militants near the outskirts of the embattled town of Arsal. A government spokesman explained that cabinet ministers held a six-hour meeting on Thursday to discuss all measures, including negotiations, which will secure the release of the twenty-one soldiers and policemen held in Nusra captivity. An overnight attack by militants on a Lebanese army post in Tripoli marked the fourth incident of its kind in recent days. Security forces came under militant fire in several Syrian refugee neighborhoods in Wadi Hmeid, Akkar, and Arsal earlier this week. [The Daily Star, 10/10/2014]