Top News: ISIS Militants Establish Training Camps in Eastern Libya

A top US military commander confirmed Thursday that militants allied with the Islamic State have established training camps in eastern Libya. General David Rodriguez, Commander of US AFRICOM, told reporters that there were several militants identified at the camps but ruled out immediate military action targeting the identified locations. General Rodriguez, however, proposed that the identified militants were likely domestic fighters that have recently pledged loyalties to the Islamic State rather than members traveling from the group’s stronghold in Iraq and Syria. Analysts have in recent weeks indicated that several rebel groups in Derna have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State but their numbers have so far been unconfirmed. [NaharnetReutersAP, 12/4/2014]



Tamarod, Sami Anan political parties rejected
The Supreme Electoral Commission rejected on Wednesday the establishment of Tamarod’s Arab Popular Movement political party and former Chief of Staff Sami Anan’s Masr al-Orouba political party, based on provisions within the political parties’ law. The commission referred the two parties to the Supreme Administrative Court to decide on their legal status. Mohamed al-Nabawy, a leading Tamarod figure said their proposed party had no issue obtaining the power of attorney needed to form a party but faced challenges due to being primarily comprised of youth and lacking both funding and legal expertise necessary to form legitimate partisan bylaws. According to the commission, there have been several legal technicalities and contradictions in the applications and documents presented by Tamarod movement to form its party. [DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/3/2014]

Draft law on ‘terrorist entities’ could silence civil society says rights group
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) has called upon President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi Wednesday to reconsider approving the draft law detailing the offences necessary for a group or organization to be labelled a “terrorist entity.” In a statement issued on Wednesday, CIHRS said the draft law “a violation of the constitution, the Supreme Court’s authority, as well as a contradiction to the international treaties Egypt has signed.” The institution filed a report, citing different reasons for rejecting the law. “The law uses vague and mysterious terminology to define terrorist groups”, which opens the door to oppress opposition members or activists who are calling for change in civil society organisations, the statement said. [DNE, Ahram Online, 12/3/2014]

Second phase of Rafah border evacuation starts
Military troops have started on Thursday warning residents in Rafah to leave during the second phase of evacuation of the Rafah border. Residents have started looking for alternative houses in Arish and Sheikh Zuweid cities, saying they received instructions from armed forces to clear another 500 meters away from the borderline, making the total evacuated area reach 1 kilometer. [Egypt Independent, 12/4/2014]

Sisi issues decree forcibly retiring former prosecutor general and eight judges
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued three decrees on Thursday retiring the former prosecutor general and eight other judges, based on a ruling issued in September. The first decree was issued to retire former prosecutor general Talaat Abdallah, who served under ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Egypt’s Judges High Disciplinary Board ruled to refer Abdallah to retirement over charges of planting surveillance devices in the prosecutor’s office to spy on current Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. The second related to Ahmed Yehia, the former head of the Cairo Appeals Court, accused of participating in pro-Morsi protests in Raba’a. The third and final decree related to seven judges from the Judges for Egypt movement, who were accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 12/4/2014]

For more in-depth Egypt news, please visit EgyptSource


Al-Hassi claims international community preparing to recognize Tripoli, slams Zuwara airstrikes
Omar al-Hassi, head of the rival Tripoli government, claims that Western countries are now “betting on the right side” and showing willingness to recognize its authority. He said at a press conference that “many friends,” including from the United States, United Kingdom, and France, had visited in secret. Al-Hassi called again on the United Nations and countries to reestablish a presence in Tripoli, as many missions and embassies were evacuated following the closure of the Tripoli airport. Meanwhile, al-Hassi’s administration criticized the latest Zuwara airstrikes for targeting civilian areas and slammed the international community for supporting the “crazy guys” in the east. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 12/4/2014]

Tunisia’s run off election likely postponed as Marzouki appeals court ruling
Presidential candidate Moncef Marzouki will appeal the administrative court order that rejected his eight appeals against the results of the first round of presidential elections. The appeals filed late last week alleged serious electoral infractions which included vote buying, breach of electoral signs, and violence against voters. An administrative in court in Tunis, however, ruled against the appeals earlier in the week, and a second hearing is now scheduled for Friday, December 5. A statement from the Administrative Court confirmed the receipt of the presidential candidate’s appeal and indicated that a final ruling would be delivered within five days. Marzouki’s appeal effectively pushes the runoff election from December 14 to December 21. [TAP, Tunisia Live, 12/4/2014]

Rights group says Tunisian union leader’s trial questionable
A Tunisian police union leader accused of defaming the army has been sentenced to two years in prison. The military first instance tribunal in Tunis imposed the sentence on Sahbi Jouini on November 18, 2014, after conducting an in-absentia trial without notifying him in advance. A military prosecutor initially called Jouini to testify as a witness after he stated during a TV talk show that the Defense Ministry had received prior notice about an armed group attack that killed sixteen Tunisian soldiers, but had failed to take protective measures. He told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the prosecutor changed his status from witness to accused without notifying him. HRW called on the Tunisian authorities to drop the criminal proceedings against him. [HRW, 12/4/2014]

Moroccan jihadists reveal motives
Young Moroccan jihadists are not motivated by religion, according to a new report from the Tetouan-based Northern Observatory for Research and Human Rights (ONERDH). Religious factors, jihad and support for people caught up in the conflict are only of secondary importance to the Moroccans who are joining Islamic State and other extremist groups in the region, the organization announced in a report released November 23. These young people are instead “on a quest for glory and adventure”, the ONERDH found. “They also want to improve their social situation,” it added. There are some 1,500 Moroccan jihadists in Iraq and Syria. Roughly two-thirds are younger than 25. [Magharebia, 12/3/2014]


US officials reject claims of anti-ISIS cooperation with Iran
US officials on Thursday quelled rumors of cooperative action between the US and Iran in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). A senior pentagon official told reporters the administration was aware of Iran’s role within the conflict, and was committed to operating within the official structure of the Iraqi government. The official denied claims of a tacit non-interference agreement between the United States and Iran that would allow both countries to share Iraqi airspace effectively. [Asharq al-Awsat, 12/4/2014]

ISIS militants attack government base in eastern Syria
ISIS militants on Thursday launched an overnight attack against the last major Syrian military air base in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that heavy clashes began with a suicide bombing on a Syrian military position near the air base, which killed at least nineteen government troops and seven ISIS militants. The radical militant group has in recent weeks attempted to shore up its control in Deir Ezzor province after taking full control of the neighboring Raqqa province earlier this summer. [AP, 12/4/2014]

US lawmakers advance defense budget deal, approve funds for anti-ISIS campaign
The US House of Representatives on Thursday edged closer to the passage of a $585 billion defense policy bill that gives President Barack Obama the authority to expand US military operations against extremists in Iraq and Syria. The House bill, if approved by the Senate, will provide $5 billion for the ongoing campaign against ISIS and also authorize the deployment of up to 1,500 troops to Iraq. [AP, 12/4/2014]

Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq’s Anbar express concerns with US cooperation
The heads of two prominent Sunni Anbar tribes on Wednesday expressed unease with US support in the fight against ISIS. The heads of the Albunimr and Albufahd tribes told reporters that barring direct support from the Iraqi government, they preferred assistance from regional partners, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, before turning to the United States. Both leaders cast doubts on the US-Iraq relationship citing the prominence of external factors that could negatively affect tribal interests in Anbar province. Both tribes have resisted ISIS rule in Anbar at great costs, highlighted by the massacre of several hundred members of the Albunimr tribe by ISIS militants in an attempt to stifle resistance and discourage similar uprising. [Asharq al-Awsat, 12/4/2014]

Australian authorities ban travel to Syria’s Raqqa province
Australia’s foreign minister used tough new counterterrorism laws Thursday to make it a criminal offense for Australians to travel to the Syrian province of Raqqa, which ISIS militants now solely control. The province is the first region in the world to be subjected to such a travel ban under the new legislation, which will also allow Australian authorities to prosecute Australian citizens who fight with militants in Syria and Iraq and then return home. [AP, 12/4/2014]


Saudi Arabia suspends aid to Yemen after the Houthi takeover
Saudi Arabia has suspended most of its financial aid to Yemen, Yemeni and Western sources said, in a clear indication of its dissatisfaction with the growing power of Zaydi Houthi fighters friendly with Iran. After the Houthis took control over Sana’a in September, Saudi Arabia promptly suspended much of its aid out of concern that the rebels would use their military muscle to dominate domestic politics. The Saudis also fear the movement’s emphasis on Zaydi Shia rights will aggravate sectarian tensions for al-Qaeda to exploit. “The Saudis have conditioned any aid on the implementation of the (deal). The Houthis have to leave before they pay,” a senior Yemeni government official said. The Saudis are expected to go through with a $54 million food aid plan and will funding some infrastructure projects, but have halted other essential payments. [Reuters, 12/4/2014]

Yemeni al-Qaeda threatens to kill American hostage
Al-Qaeda in Yemen released a video Thursday threatening to execute a US journalist taken hostage last year who was the target of a recent hostage rescue attempt. The video showed Luke Somers, who was captured in Sana’a over a year ago and featured al-Qaeda official Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, who threatened to kill Somers in three days if Washington failed to meet unspecified demands. “We give the American government … three days from the issuance of this statement to meet our demands about which they are aware; otherwise, the American hostage … will meet his inevitable fate,” he said, without specifying the demands that he said the United States “knows well.” While a raid by US and Yemeni special forces last week successfully freed eight hostages, five others, including Somers, were moved by their al-Qaeda captors remain in captivity. Meanwhile, the body of a national security official captured by al-Qaeda in Hadramout was found dumped in a public market Thursday. [AFP, Reuters, 12/4/2014]

GCC envoy visits Yemen to discuss third implementation phase of Gulf initiative
Gulf Cooperation Council sources confirmed that the GCC special envoy to Yemen, Dr. Saleh bin Abdulaziz al-Qunaieer, has visited Sana’a to discuss the implementation of the third and final phase of the GCC initiative for Yemen’s transition. Al-Qunaieer met with President Abdrabbu Mansour Hadi on Thursday night to discuss the current political situation in the country and to discuss the extent of Houthi control in the capital and other provinces. They also discussed Yemen’s ongoing relations with the other GCC countries. [Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), Asharq al-Awsat, 12/4/2014]

Clashes between Houthis and GPC in Ibb as Sana’a students protest Houthi presence, administration
Three Houthi fighters were reported wounded in clashes between Houthi militias and forces affiliated with the General People’s Congress (GPC) party in the center province of Ibb. The clashes erupted after the Houthis attempted to arrest GPC minister of parliament Ali Qasha, and comes as sources say the Houthis have struggled with the GPC leadership for control in Ibb. In the capital, students from Sana’a University once again engaged in protests demanding that the Houthis leave their campus. Students demanded that the administration act over the ongoing Houthi presence on campus and criticized the administration’s silence, which they said violated their rights. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 12/4/2014]

Abu Dhabi police arrest suspect in mall stabbing of American citizen
Abu Dhabi police announced Thursday that they have arrested the prime suspect in the killing of an American teacher earlier this week. Ibolya Ryan, a thirty-seven-year old mother of two, was stabbed to death in a bathroom at Boutik Mall on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island Wednesday. Emirati authorities subsequently released video footage of the primary suspect, an individual wearing a full-length abaya and face veil. UAE Deputy PM and Interior Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahyan, announced the arrest Thursday, stating that in addition to the stabbing, “the veiled suspect had tried to plant a primitive bomb in front of the house of a resident US doctor, but the police had dismantled it after one of the doctor’s sons discovered it.” Authorities identified the suspect as female. [Gulf News, Asharq al-Awsat, 12/4/2014]

Saudi foreign minister calls for ground troops to fight the Islamic State; suspect sentenced to death
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) cannot be waged by air strikes alone during a speech to coalition representatives Wednesday. He told foreign diplomats, “Out of the Kingdom’s keenness on the continuation of the cohesion of this coalition and the success of its efforts … We believe that this requires the presence of combat troops on the ground.” Meanwhile, A Saudi court Wednesday sentenced one man to death and imprisoned several others for involvement in an al-Qaeda cell that targeted foreigners. Nine suspects were jailed for between five and thirty-three years for activities including “photographing locations and collecting information in the al-Qaeda terrorist operation that targeted three different locations in Khobar.” A series of attacks in Khobar in May 2004 left twenty-two dead and twenty-five wounded, many of them foreigners. [AFP, 12/3/2014]


Tunisia asks Libya for cheaper oil
Tunisia has asked Libyan authorities to supply oil at cheaper prices to help it cope with the influx of Libyans into the country. Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi said that Libyans are “guests” in Tunisia, not “refugees,” and expressed optimism about Libyans reaching a political settlement to their crisis. Until then, however, given the negative effects of growing numbers of Libyans on Tunisia’s economy, he said it was unreasonable to expect Tunisia to buy oil at market prices, “only for Libyans to use after it has been subsidized by our government.” There was no immediate response from Libya’s National Oil Corporation, which has come under increasing pressure as the situation in the country deteriorates. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 12/4/2014]

AfDB grants 176 million euros for largest solar power station in Africa
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved one loan of 100 million euros and another of $119 million for phase II of the Ouarzazate solar complex project. The project is part of the Moroccan Solar Energy Programme (NOOR), which aims to develop a minimum capacity of 2,000 MW by 2020 in order to secure power supplies for the country’s economy. Morocco currently depends to 95 percent on external sources for its primary energy needs. [AllAfrica, 12/3/2014]

Deputy governor of Egypt’s central bank resigns
According to official sources, the second highest-ranking official of Egypt’s central bank has resigned. It remains unclear when the deputy governor for investment and relations would leave his post and who will replace him. The main responsibility of the deputy governor is the management of Egypt’s foreign currency reserves, critical to the country’s gas and wheat imports. [Reuters, 12/3/2014]