Top News: July Marks One Of The Deadliest Months In Iraq

The UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) said in its monthly statement that at least 1,737 people were killed in July, down from 2,400 deaths in June. In the statement, the UN mission again called on the country’s feuding politicians to set aside their differences and form an inclusive government.


Attempting to flee Libya, seventeen Egyptians killed at Tunisian border
Armed assailants killed fifteen Egyptians in Libya on Thursday as they waited to cross through the Ras Jadeer border crossing into Tunisia. Anonymous sources said the attackers were targeting Libyans attempting to hide among the thousands of Egyptian expatriates attempting to flee the country. Two other Egyptians were shot dead when Libyan border guards opened fire to disperse hundreds of Egyptians trying to cross into Tunisia to flee Libya’s growing chaos. However, the deaths have not been confirmed by Egyptian media outlets. Aswat Masriya reported that Tunisian troops fired tear gas to prevent Egyptians fleeing Libya from entering the country. Meanwhile, an Egyptian woman was shot dead inside her home by mistake during clashes in Libya’s city of Benghazi on Thursday. Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Ambassador Badr Abdel-Atty said that Egypt is currently facilitating the departure of Egyptians who want to leave Libya, especially those who want to leave Benghazi through Tunisia. On Friday, a plane transporting 320 Egyptians fleeing Libya arrived in Cairo. [Mada Masr, AMAY (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 7/31/2014]

Egyptian Nation alliance to finalize participation on Tuesday
The Egyptian Nation alliance said that it is looking to finalize coordination between political parties in a meeting on Tuesday. Former Member of Parliament Amr Shubaki said that negotiations are still ongoing between all political parties. Dr. Ahmed Khaled, spokesperson for Amr Moussa’s coalition, said that it aims to end fragmentation in Egypt’s political arena. Meanwhile, the Nour Party announced that 60 percent of the party’s ex-deputies would be excluded from running in Egypt’s parliamentary elections. A member of the party’s Presidential Council said that it expects to win 25 percent of seats in the new parliament. In addition, the Egyptian Front alliance announced that its coalition includes all classes of Egyptians and that it will operate under collective leadership. [Shorouk (Arabic), 8/1/2014]

Egypt’s interior minister approves large-scale internal reshuffle
Egypt’s interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim has approved the latest reshuffle inside his ministry, which involves Central Security as well as National Security forces. In statements made to MENA, the ministry’s official spokesman General Abdel Fattah Osman reported that the reshuffle includes nineteen aides to the minister and thirteen heads of security directorates across the country.He added that among the 3,553 police officers included in the restructure, four policewomen were promoted to generals. Osman also stated that 518 police generals, brigadier generals and police colonels were forced into retirement. [Ahram Online, 7/31/2014]

BG Group says natural gas operations in Egypt remain at risk
BG Group says its natural gas operations in Egypt remain at risk after production there halved in the first six months of the year. The London-listed oil explorer on Thursday reported output from its Egyptian operations – which in 2012 made up a fifth of its global production – had fallen 52 percent in the first half compared with the same period last year, to 57,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. [FT, 7/31/2014]


Islamist militias declare control of Benghazi
Islamist extremist militias, including Ansar al-Sharia, have claimed control of Benghazi after overrunning army barracks and seizing heavy weapons. The extent of their control, however, is unclear as fighters had withdrawn from some of the barracks after looting them. Supporters of rogue former general Khalifa Haftar continue to control Benghazi’s airport but appeared to have been driven out of the city. A commander of Ansar al-Sharia, the group accused by the United States of carrying out the attack on the US mission in Benghazi in September 2012, proclaimed victory in a video released by his group. Speaking in front of a tank inside the army base, he urged Haftar’s allies to abandon him, accusing him of trying to place the country under western influence. [AP, 7/31/2014]

Greece evacuates embassy staff and foreign nationals from Libya
Greece safely evacuated embassy staff and more than one hundred Chinese and European nationals from Libya with a navy frigate sailing back to the Greek port of Piraeus, according to its defense ministry. Governments from around the world are scrambling to get their citizens out of country, many seeking help from nearby Greece. Greek passenger ships evacuated more than 10,000 foreigners, mainly Chinese workers, from Libya when fighting flared in 2011. The European Union said Thursday that it has moved its staff in Libya to Tunisia. The Philippines is also preparing to evacuate thousands of its citizens from Libya, where amid the deteriorating security situation one Filipino worker was beheaded and a nurse was gang-raped. [Reuters, AP, 8/1/2014]

House of Representatives to meet Saturday in Tobruk– constitutionality still questioned
The new House of Representatives is determined to meet for the first time tomorrow, August 2 in Tobruk. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, the interior minister, and the chief of staff are in nearby Bayda for follow-up preparations for the new parliament’s meeting in Tobruk on Saturday, according to the interior ministry’s Facebook page. The GNC has protested the handing over power to the House of Representatives in Tobruk, as opposed to Tripoli. [Libya Herald, 8/1/2014]

Two Egyptians shot dead in Libya-Tunisia border clash
Two people were shot dead on Thursday when Libyan border guards opened fire to disperse hundreds of Egyptians trying to cross into Tunisia to flee Libya’s growing chaos. Most Libyan airports are closed because of deteriorating security in Tripoli and Benghazi, leaving Tunisia’s border one of the few routes out for residents and some foreign diplomats fleeing bloodshed in the capital. Hundreds of Egyptians were protesting at the border point of Ras Ajdir after the Tunisian border guards closed its gates on Thursday. Tunisia said on Wednesday it might close its border with Libya if the security situation continues to worsen. [Reuters, 7/31/2014]


ISIS imposes media controls in Deir Ezzor
The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or IS) has told media activists in Deir Ezzor they must swear allegiance to the caliphate and submit to censorship. ISIS told the activists they must recognize the caliphate, must stop using the Arabic acronym “Daash” to describe the group, forbade association with television channels, and told activists that any videos, pictures, or written reports must be reviewed by the ISIS “Information Office” before distribution. [Reuters, 8/1/2014]

ISIS orders strict dress code for women in eastern Syria
ISIS has imposed a strict dress code for women in eastern Syria, forbidding them from showing any part of their bodies. “Women are completely forbidden from showing their eyes,” said the statement distributed in ISIS-controlled areas of Deir Ezzor. Women are also forbidden from wearing “open abayas [traditional black gowns] that reveal colorful clothes worn underneath” or abayas “decorated with beads, sequins, or anything else.” In addition, women “must not wear high heels.” The statement added, “Anyone who violates this will be penalized,” without elaborating on the punishment. [AFP, 8/1/2014]

Regime defector shows war torture photos to US lawmakers
US lawmakers saw graphic images of the conflict in Syria Thursday as an army defector, code-named Caesar, gave an account of the horrors in regime detention facilities and makeshift morgues. Caesar, who appeared in heavy disguise before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, previously worked as a forensic photographer and archivist for the regime and amassed more than 50,000 gruesome images of systematic torture, starvation, mutilation, and killing before he fled the country. US officials say the Obama administration is using the photos to fashion a new strategy to prosecute Syrian war crimes. [AFP, 8/1/2014]


Some 221 persons involved in terrorist cases arrested
The crisis cell in charge of follow-up on the security situation in Tunisia examined on Thursday in Kasbah the implementation of recent security decisions, including the arrest of 221 persons involved in terrorist cases and fifty-three persons among those who celebrated the death of the soldiers in Mount Chaambi. The most recent prominent arrest is that of “dangerous terrorist” Afif Laâmouri, who belongs to banned the banned group Ansar al-Sharia. He was arrested in Sidi Bouzid. [TAP, 7/31/2014]

Gunfight in Fernana between security officers and terrorists
A gunfight took place Thursday afternoon in Fernana, in the governorate of Jendouba, between the national guard and terrorists. This shootout occurred following tracking operations to destroy one of the terrorist hiding places located near Oued Kheljen. The terrorist group had already used this hideout during the clashes with the security forces last June, which resulted in the death of two terrorists. In the northwest region of Fouzaia, also in Jendouba, there was another clash on Thursday between security forces and a terrorist group. [TAP, 8/1/2014]

Jomaa decides to continue immediate evacuation of Tunisian nationals in Libya
The situation in the borders between Tunisia and Libya was the focus of a meeting on Thursday for a crisis committee tasked with following up on the security situation in the country. Interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa chaired the meeting with the ministers of interior, defense, justice, foreign affairs, and security. The prime minister ordered to carry on the immediate evacuation of Tunisian expatriates in Libya and ensure that repatriation operations and evacuation occurred in coordination with the concerned countries and international organizations. [TAP, 7/31/2014]


Yemen IDPs mull return to Amran after ceasefire
Thousands of people displaced by recent fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces in Amran are looking to return to their homes following a recent Houthi withdrawal, but they face significant challenges. At least 35,000 have become internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to the United Nations. Many were facing displacement for a second time as those from other violent regions have sought refuge in Amran in recent years. Many aid workers have been forced to suspend fieldwork due to medicine and fuel shortages, resulting in delays in support for vulnerable groups. [IRIN, 7/31/2014]

Houthi rebel leader killed in Jawf in internal dispute
An internal dispute in the Houthi rebel leadership left one Houthi leader dead in Jawf on Thursday. Hamid al-Qatwani was killed by another Houthi leader, Bin Naseeb, when the two leaders disagreed over the ownership of weapons looted from Brigade 310 camps in Amran. Meanwhile in Amran, Houthi rebels kidnapped two journalists while filming a documentary on Thursday. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/31/2014]

Two university professors released from Ansar al-Sharia
Mediation efforts carried out by the government succeeded in obtaining the release of two professors at al-Baida University from the grips of Ansar al-Sharia on Thursday, but failed to secure the release of Khaleel al-Makhlafi, a Yemeni security officer. Al-Makhlafi was the target of the kidnapping and is said to have the capability of manufacturing explosives. This is the second mediation effort with Ansar al-Sharia after the government succeeded in obtaining the release of six traffic police officers. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/31/2014]


July marks one of the deadliest months in Iraq
The UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) said in its monthly statement that at least 1,737 people were killed in July, down from 2,400 deaths in June. In the statement, the UN mission again called on the country’s feuding politicians to set aside their differences and form an inclusive government. The wave of violence continued Friday, when a car bomb struck a busy commercial street in Baghdad’s eastern Habibiya neighborhood, killing seven people and wounding sixteen, police officials said. [AFP, 8/1/2014]

Iraqi Kurds press Washington for arms
The semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq is urging the Obama administration to provide sophisticated weapons to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, according to US officials. A Kurdish official said the request was discussed during a Kurdish delegation’s visit to Washington in early July, and US officials said Washington was considering its options available to support the Kurdish forces. [Reuters, 8/1/2014]

Saudi king calls for united stance against terrorism
Saudi King Abdullah urged religious leaders on Friday to take a united stance to prevent terrorists from hijacking Islam and slammed the international community’s indifference to what he described as war crimes being committed in the Gaza Strip. In an indirect reference to Israel, King Abdullah said “terrorism has many manifestations, the most dangerous being state terrorism.” King Abdullah declared that the silence toward the crisis in Gaza has no justification and it will  “bring forth a generation that does not believe in dialogue but in a clash of civilizations.” [Al Arabiya, 8/1/2014]