Top News: ISIS kills Thirty-Eight In Sirte, House Members Call On International Community For Help

The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) threatened to use gas against people in Sirte unless attacks against its members stop. Thirty-eight members of the Ferjani tribe were killed by ISIS, which had been shelling a residential area in Sirte. Fighting in the center of town earlier this week resulted in the deaths of two ISIS commanders Abu Huzaifa Ansari, a Saudi national, and Abu Hammam Masri, an Egyptian. Two local men fighting against ISIS were also killed. House of Representatives members Saleh Fhaima and Zaid Hadia called on the international community, specifically the United States and the United Kingdom, to take military action to save the Farjan tribe. [Libya Herald, 8/13/2015]



Egypt marks Raba’a massacre anniversary
Egyptian police bolstered their presence in the capital on Friday in anticipation of protests on the second anniversary of the violent dispersal by security forces of Islamist demonstrators, in which at least 700 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi died. On Thursday, the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called on supporters to stage week-long protests as of Friday to mark the anniversary. In a statement issued on Friday, the Muslim Brotherhood also called on its supporters to mark the anniversary with peaceful protests. The April 6th Youth Movement called on the public to write their memories of the infamous day on social media, so that the “murderous regime and its media do not fabricate it.” The group said on Friday through its Facebook page, “Even though we disagreed with the political demands of the protest camps, we cannot deny that what happened during the dispersal of the Raba’a and Nahda sit-ins was a massacre.” Meanwhile, the religious authority, Dar al-Ifta, issued a statement Thursday saying that Islamic law bans non-peaceful protests that harm state facilities or hamper people’s interests. [AFP, Anadolou Agency, 8/14/2015]

Sisi forms High Elections Committee
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a presidential decree on Thursday to form retroactively the High Elections Committee (HEC), despite unofficially operating since July 15 this year. According to the presidential decree, Judge Ayman Abbas, the head of Cairo Appeals Court, will head the HEC. The committee will be comprised of two deputies from the Court of Cassation, two deputies from the State Council, and two heads from the appeals court. The members are chosen according to the seniority of their positions. The decree added that the HEC would start its work to prepare and supervise the parliamentary elections based on the political rights law and the House of Representatives law. [Ahram Online, SIS, 8/14/2015]

Egypt military aircraft crashes near Libya border, four dead
The spokesman of Egypt’s armed forces says a military aircraft crashed near the border with Libya because of a technical failure while on a counterterrorism mission, killing four crew members and wounding two. Brig. Gen. Mohamed Samir says on his Facebook page that the aircraft crashed Thursday during a joint air and ground mission southeast of the Siwa oasis, near the border with Libya. The statement said the crash was due to a “technical fault.” It did not make clear whether all the dead and injured were aboard the aircraft. Samir did not say what kind of aircraft it was, adding that troops successfully destroyed four vehicles belonging to alleged terrorists and seized five others. [AP, DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, SIS, 8/14/2015]

Egypt confiscates assets of Juhayna chairman over Brotherhood ties
On Thursday, the Egyptian government confiscated the assets of food industry tycoon and Chairman of Juhayna Food Industries Safwan Thabet for his alleged ties to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The confiscation included all Thabet’s assets, with the exception of the the food company. According to Ezzat Khamis, the Chairman of the committee tasked with managing Muslim Brotherhood funds, the decision excluded Juhayna since it is a joint stock company. Juhayna will carry out its activities normally, the committee’s chairman added. However, Thabet’s shares at Juhayna will be frozen as soon as the stock exchange receives an official letter from the committee regarding the confiscation of his assets, the Bourse Chairman Mohamed Omran said. To date, a panel from the justice ministry has frozen the assets and confiscated property belonging to 1,345 Muslim Brotherhood members, including 103 schools run by the group. The confiscations include all kinds of financial, real estate and mobile assets, according to the panel’s chairman, Ezzat Khamis. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 8/14/2015]

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ISIS kills thirty-eight in Sirte, House members call on international community for help
The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) threatened to use gas against people in Sirte unless attacks against its members stop. Thirty-eight members of the Ferjani tribe were killed by ISIS, which had been shelling a residential area in Sirte. Fighting in the center of town earlier this week resulted in the deaths of two ISIS commanders Abu Huzaifa Ansari, a Saudi national, and Abu Hammam Masri, an Egyptian. Two local men fighting against ISIS were also killed. House of Representatives members Saleh Fhaima and Zaid Hadia called on the international community, specifically the United States and the United Kingdom, to take military action to save the Farjan tribe. [Libya Herald, 8/13/2015]

At least 2,300 deaths in Mediterranean this year, says IOM
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Friday that at least 2,300 people died this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to reach Europe. The IOM added that over 250,000 asylum seekers landed in Europe this year, more than the number for the whole of 2014. The organization adds that the sea route to Sicily, taken by many migrants leaving from North Africa, is “the deadliest.” [ANSAmed, 8/13/2015]

HRW calls on Tunisia to fight firmly against torture in detention facilities
Human Right Watch called on Tunisia to end torture in detention facilities and said, “Tunisian authorities should ensure that the police and other institutions cooperate fully with the investigation. They should also adopt wide-ranging measures to combat torture, including appointing the members of the national monitoring body for detention facilities.” [All Africa/ TAP, 8/15/2015]

Tunisians launch an app to detect terrorist activity
Three young Tunisian engineers launched a smartphone app that allows users to flag suspicious behavior or activity tied to terrorism. Currently in a test phase, the app, called Edder3 (the shield), has been presented to the Tunisian Interior Minister. It allows users to create a real-time citation of facts, situations, objects, or people that arouse suspicion. In a successive phase of implementation it could also add comments or pictures to each citation. A pseudonym would identify the person who makes the citation in order to avoid potential threats or retaliation. [ANSAmed, 8/13/2015]


United States investigating ISIS use of chemical weapons
US National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said Thursday that the United States is taking seriously allegations that the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) used chemical weapons against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. He said in a statement, “We continue to monitor these reports closely, and would further stress that any use of chemicals or biological material as a weapon is completely inconsistent with international standards.” [AP, 8/13/2015]

Syrian opposition leader says Russia is not clinging to Assad
Leader of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) opposition group Khaled Khoja said on Friday, after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, that Russia is not committed to keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power. He told reporters that Russia is prioritizing the need to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity. It was not immediately clear whether Khoja’s statement signaled a shift in Russia’s stance, or merely reflected Moscow’s attempt to rally Syrian opposition support for its new push to help mediate the conflict. Khoja ruled out joining forces with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against ISIS and insisted that Assad must leave before any transitional government could be formed. A Syrian government official said in an interview with a news network Thursday that the Syrian government is willing to negotiate a political solution with what it calls the “real opposition,” a reference to non-armed groups, and that the “Syrian government is ready to be a major party in negotiations that will meet and satisfy the needs and the aspirations of the Syrian people.” [AP, 8/14/2015]

ISIS attacks in and around Iraqi refinery town
ISIS militants attacked the outskirts of Iraq’s northern oil refinery town of Baiji Thursday night with car bombs and clashed with the Iraqi Army and Shia militias in the town’s western districts. At least three militia fighters were killed Friday when ISIS launched car bomb attacks against a makeshift headquarters in the town of al-Rayash, five miles south of Baiji. Mortars in an adjacent area killed two civilians. Baiji Mayor Mahmoud al-Jabouri said ISIS used twelve car bombs and more than 200 fighters in the offensive and that at least ten Iraqi soldiers and militia fighters were killed or wounded in the fighting. An Iraqi official said Friday that government air strikes have destroyed a women and children’s hospital in ISIS-held territory near the city of Fallujah. At least twenty-two women and children were killed in the strike. [Reuters, 8/14/2015]

United States accuses Syria of stepping up barrel bombing
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on Thursday accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces of dropping more than 2,000 barrel bombs on the country since July, killing hundreds of people. Power said in a statement, “The Assad regime has apparently grown reliant on the repugnant use of barrel bombs as an instrument of terror against Syrian civilians,” and called for action to end the use of a type of improvised explosive that has particularly been targeted at the Damascus suburb of Zabadani. She also said that the UN Security Council is discussing proposals for a resolution on barrel bombs that would increase pressure on Damascus to cease using them. A Syrian civil defense group in Darayya on Wednesday accused Assad’s forces of dropping four barrel bombs containing napalm on Tuesday afternoon on the town of Darayya’s electricity company district. [AFP, 8/13/2015]

Turkey builds concrete wall along Syria border after attacks
Turkish state media said Friday that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have begun building a concrete wall along the border with Syria after a series of attacks on the Turkish side of the border. The ten-foot high, five-mile long wall is being built in the Reyhanli district of Hatay province just across from the Syrian town of Atmeh. A Turkish soldier was killed Friday morning after a mine laid by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants was detonated in the southeastern Turkish province of Bingol. Two PKK militants were then killed during an operation in response to the attack. In a separate incident, youth linked to the PKK opened fire with rifles at a Turkish police vehicle in the town of Nusaybin along the border with Syria early Friday, wounding two policemen. The Turkish army also said Thursday that seven suspected PKK members were killed Thursday night in clashes after the rebels attacked military posts in eastern Turkey. [AFP, 8/14/2015]


Al-Qaeda and ISIS militants enter capital city of Abyan province in Yemen
Local sources in Yemen’s southern Abyan province said that extremist elements have taken control of government buildings in the capital city of Zinjibar. The sources said that militants linked with the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and Ansar al-Sharia (a regional al-Qaeda affiliate) have increasingly infiltrated the city, since its liberation from Houthi forces. ISIS leader Sheikh Tariq al-Fadhil has been spotted in Zinjibar, for the first time since leaving the city in 2012. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 8/13/2015]

Yemeni government approves plan to liberate Sana’a
Yemen’s exiled President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi has approved a plan to liberate Sana’a from Houthi rebels, a presidential adviser said. This news comes after earlier reports that the Houthis were considering pulling out of the capital. Abdulaziz Jabari, a Hadi adviser, said the Popular Resistance forces will attack Sana’a and its environs unless the Houthis agree to withdraw without fighting. The Sana’a campaign will involve coordination between forces from inside and outside the capital, according to Jabari. The move will be in coordination with the local tribesmen and the Saudi-led coalition, Jabari said. [Asharq al-Awsat, 8/14/2015]

Landmines left by Houthis kill at least 100 since mid-July
Health and security officials in southern Yemen say that dozens of people have been killed in a month by landmines planted by the retreating Houthis. Al Khedher Laswer, the director of Aden’s health ministry, said that at least 100 people have been killed since mid-July when they either walked or drove over landmines in Aden and neighbouring districts. A security official from Aden, who requested anonymity, said Thursday that the defeated Houthis randomly planted landmines on main roads and farms to deter resistance advances. “Demining teams are facing a hard task as we don’t have maps for the mines,” the official said. He noted that security services in Aden defused 1,200 landmines from Aden airport in July and removed hundreds from places near electricity towers, main roads, and water pipelines. “These are anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines and made in Russia and the West.” [Gulf News, 8/13/2015]

Kuwait breaks up new terror cell
Kuwait has broken up a new three-member terror cell and seized weapons, ammunition, and explosives, the interior ministry said on Thursday. Three Kuwaiti citizens were arrested and have confessed to joining a terror group, a statement said. Security forces seized nineteen tonnes of ammunition, 316 pounds of TNT, rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades, firearms, and detonators. Ministry officials said the explosives were found in a farm in Abdali, near the border with Iraq, and in two houses in undisclosed locations. [AFP, 8/13/2015]


Turkey Central Bank attempts to stem lira slide
Turkey’s central bank lowered the cost of dollar borrowing for a fourth time this year, seeking to halt the lira’s slide after the breakdown of talks on the formation of a new government sent financial markets tumbling. The rate for commercial banks’ dollar borrowings was lowered to 2.75 percent from 3 percent. The interest rate for dollar reserves held at the central bank was also increased to 0.23 percent from 0.21 percent. “These are fringe tools that the central bank is playing with and the market won’t take any notice,” said Yeliz Karabulut, a vice general manager at Alan Menkul Degerler AS in Istanbul. “There’s an uncertain period ahead of us until Turkey holds repeat elections, and it will be a period of continued lira weakness.” [Bloomberg, 8/14/2015]

UAE’s Dana Gas extends earnings slump as second quarter profit plunges 85 percent
United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Dana Gas said on Thursday that a sustained slump in oil prices and lower production was to blame for a sharp fall in earnings for a third straight quarter. The company made a net profit of 25 million dirhams ($6.8 million) in the second quarter, down 85 percent from a year earlier. Production fell 9 percent and revenue declined 38 percent. Dana Gas said in a statement it would increase production in Egypt and the UAE in the second half of 2015 in an effort to increase revenues. Meanwhile, government-owned Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) recorded a loss of 165 million dirhams in the first half of 2015 and cut jobs by 22 percent. Taqa plans to cut spending by 2.5 billion dirhams ($681 million) this year. Taqa is also close to signing a $3.1 billion five-year loan that will consolidate existing debts into a new, lower-cost facility. [Reuters, Bloomberg, 8/13/2015]

Egypt bourse could freeze Juhayna chairman’s shares for alleged Brotherhood links
Egypt’s stock exchange will freeze the shares in Juhayna Food Industries owned by Chairman Safwan Thabet over alleged links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Exchange Chairman Mohamed Omran said Thabet’s shares in Juhayna would be frozen as soon as the bourse received an official letter from a committee responsible for managing the Brotherhood’s assets. Omran said the freeze would not affect other shareholders in the company. “The company’s shares will be available for trading as normal, while Safwan will be prohibited from selling, purchasing, or disposing of his shares,” state news agency MENA said. [Reuters, 8/13/2015]