Top News: Kurdish Forces Take Full Control of Kirkuk

As ISIS vows to take two more Iraqi cities including the capital Baghdad, Kurdish forces take full control of the country’s oil city of Kirkuk after the Iraqi army abandoned their posts. Iraqi parliament is divided over implementing a state of emergency, a call made by Nuri al-Maliki. Only 128 of 325 members of parliament had attended the session to decide on the issue, far short of the number needed for a formal vote.


United Nations calls on Egypt authorities to enforce sexual harassment law
The United Nations (UN) in Egypt on Wednesday commended the newly approved anti-sexual harassment law that was added as an amendment to the Egyptian penal code. The UN called the amendment very encouraging as it defines “sexual harassment” for the first time in Egypt’s history. The UN also called upon authorities, civil society and stakeholders to join forces and take a firm stand against all forms of gender-based violence in Egypt. Meanwhile, an anti-sexual assault protest was held in Tahrir Square on Wednesday to voice objection to sexual assault against women in Egypt. [Ahram Online, 6/11/2014]

Sabbahi calls for new protest law
Popular Current leader and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi demanded a new Protest Law on his Twitter account on Thursday. Sabbahi tweeted, “Targeting young revolutionaries through unconstitutional legislation is unacceptable after two revolutions. We demand a new protest law that organizes [protests] and does not prevent or repress opposition.” His message comes one day after a fifteen year sentence was handed down to prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and twenty-four others for breaking the protest law. [Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 6/12/2014]

Egypt judge rejects appeal on travel ban of four charged with insulting judiciary
A Cairo criminal court on Thursday rejected the appeals of four prominent political figures who faced a travel ban since last January. Former member of parliament Amr Hamzawy, journalist Abdel Halim Qandil, writer Abdel Rahman Yussef al-Qaradawy, and former member of parliament, Mostafa Naggar along with fifteen others, are accused of insulting the judiciary and interfering in the judicial process. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 6/12/2014]

EGAS to offer limited international tender on gas for electricity imports
State-owned Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) will offer a limited international tender this month to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) for power plants over the next five years, according to the company’s chairman, Khaled Abdel-Badie. The tender will be awarded before the end of the year for the gas supply to begin in January 2015. [DNE, 6/11/2014]


Libya cabinet starts spending $50 billion budget despite falling oil revenues
Libya’s government, suffering from dwindling oil revenues, will allow its ministries to begin spending the $50 billion budget it submitted to the General National Congress (GNC) at the start of the year. The cabinet of caretaker Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said in a statement that it considered the budget draft, submitted in January, as valid after the GNC had exhausted the legal limit of four months to vote on it. The move might force the central bank to use more of its reserves as oil revenues continue to dwindle. Public finances could worsen in the next few weeks after acting Oil Minister Omar Shakmak said Libya had started directing crude from its two offshore fields to supply the Zawiya refinery, key to providing Tripoli with petrol. This will bring exports closer to zero. [Reuters, Libya Herald, 6/11/2014]

Suicide bomber hits rogue Libyan general’s forces
According to a Libyan security official, a suicide car bomber has targeted a checkpoint manned by troops loyal to rogue retired general Khalifa Haftar outside of Benghazi. Three soldiers and three civilians were wounded and the alleged attacker was killed. A suicide bomber hit the same army checkpoint in December, killing thirteen soldiers, in the first suicide attack since the 2011 revolution. Some soldiers of the targeted army unit had declared support for the military campaign Haftar launched last month against Islamist militants. [AP, Reuters, 6/11/2014]

February 17 Brigade founder joins Operation Dignity
In a surprise announcement, one of the founders of the February 17 Brigade, Salafist preacher Ashraf al-Mayar, has joined  “Operation Dignity” under the leadership of retired general Khalifa Haftar, declaring his intention to fight terrorists in Benghazi alongside the Libyan army. “Operation Dignity” spokesman Mohammed al-Hijazi said that al-Mayar and other members decided to abandon the brigade when they realized that terrorists and extremists were joining its ranks. Meanwhile, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the leader of the National Transitional Council that led the 2011 revolution, has called for the dismissal of Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadik al-Ghariani, following the mufti’s recent declaration that Libyans have an obligation to fight against Haftar and that those who die doing so would be considered martyrs. [Libya Herald, 6/11/2014]

Libya in the spotlight in US-Egyptian discussions
Senior American diplomat David Satterfield has met with Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Nabil Fahmy to discuss the current political and security situation in Libya. Both Fahmy and Satterfield expressed the need for regional envoys, the United Nations, the European Union and other representatives of key governments to agree on a set of principles for Libya that enables the central government to take control and fight terrorism, leading to reconciliation talks and the sharing of wealth and power. Meanwhile, Italy means to continue promoting the start of ”a process of dialogue in Libya which can lead to a national reconciliation and revision of the Constitution,” Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said Wednesday. [Libya Herald, 6/11/2014]


Fresh round of fighting between ISIS and other rebel groups
Al Nusra Front and the Islamic battalions re-captured al Kharrata Oil Station in south-west Deir Ezzor after violent clashes with ISIS. Thirty-five fighters from ISIS have been killed during the clashes. Yet, ISIS captured the outskirts of al Hrayji village in the south of Sor town in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. Thursday, a car bomb exploded in Homs, in a majority Alawite neighborhood, killing seven. [Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, The Daily Star, 6/12/2014]

ISIS fighters make gains as they battle Syrian rebels and two governments
Free Syrian Army fighters in Minbej were expecting an attack any day from jihadists besieging their base. Then a boy who looked no older than fourteen blew up the car and himself, unleashing an assault that killed or wounded nearly thirty rebel fighters and ultimately put all of Minbej under the control of ISIS. This story demonstrates the growing power and ruthlessness of ISIS as they dominate control in Syria and Iraq. [NY Times, 6/12/2014]  

Militant advances in Iraq is Saudi terrorism says Syrian state media
Syrian state media on Thursday accused Saudi Arabia and the West of complicity with the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). The state media accused Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar of funding and arming ISIS, and claimed that ISIS’s planning was conducted under the West knowledge and support. The media announced that “The emergence of these organizations is not the result of a vacuum but rather long and clear support for terrorism… which the Gulf has dedicated its finances to expanding.” [The Daily Star, 6/12/2014]

Harsh working conditions for young Syrian refugees
At least 50,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are working, often in dire conditions and for twelve hours a day, to pay for food and shelter for their families. The number is growing exponentially, illustrating the worsening conditions for Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and elsewhere. [Al Jazeera, 6/12/2014]


Belgium to convert some of Tunisia’s debts into investments
Belgium has decided to convert some of the Tunisian debts into investments for the Tunisian state, according to a statement from the Tunisian ministry of finance. This decision follows the arrival of Belgian Minister for Public Enterprises and Development Cooperation Jean-Pascal Labille for a visit to Tunisia. Tuesday, Labille met President of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Mustapha Ben Jaafar in Bardo, and the Belgian minister voiced his country’s readiness to continue support for Tunisia through its transition efforts in matters of development. “The national economy is showing signs of recovery, despite … pressures on public finances and the lack of liquidity in the market,” Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) Chedly Ayari, said on Wednesday. [TAP, 6/11/2014]

Differences on elections to be settled in a week
The dispute on which elections to hold first, presidential or legislative, will be settled within one week at the latest, Deputy Secretary-General of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) Samir Cheffi announced on Wednesday. Voter registration may therefore start on June 23. The debate between political parties continued on Wednesday afternoon, in an attempt to decide on the issue of the order of elections, but parties have not yet reached agreement. Ten political parties are for organizing the presidential elections prior to the legislative polls, while seven parties are for holding the legislative elections first. The minimum threshold needed to decide on this issue is fifteen parties out the twenty in the national dialogue, in case there is no consensus. [TAP, 6/11/2014]

Public reacts strongly to suspected honor killing
A Tunisian man is accused of burning his thirteen-year-old daughter to death for walking home from school with a male classmate May 28 in Ibn Khaldoun, a suburb of Tunis. Aya, a middle school student, died on June 7 from fourth-degree burns. The father has since been arrested. Aya’s death has been seen as resulting from an honor crime, a killing committed in response to perceived shaming of the family. Such practices are almost unheard of in modern Tunisia. Aya’s death shocked the country and sparked an indignant response from many Tunisians. One group of activists called for a silent march in her memory on June 19. “What happened is strange in our society,” said Feten Abdelkafi, one of the event’s organizers. [Tunisia Live, 6/11/2014]


Oil spill off the coast of Al Mukalla
Local residents report that a ship carrying fuel in Yemen called ’Champion 1’ leaked Mazut fuel off the coast of Al Mukalla in Hadhramaut governorate. The extent of the leakage remains unknown. Despite an environmental disaster caused by an oil spill over in July 2013, the government has not put into place emergency procedures for reporting and managing oil spills. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 6/12/2014]

Yemeni police stationed in Sana’a in anticipation of violence
The situation in Sana’a has died down following mass protests over fuel shortages and repeated power outages on Wednesday. Protesters cut off main streets in the capital Sana’a. Policemen fired multiple shots in the air to disperse demonstrators. Despite this, witnesses have reported that policemen are stationed in Sana’a in anticipation of violence on Thursday. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 6/12/2014]

UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia launches meetings to discuss Yemen
On Wednesday, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia launched a new series of discussions in Lebanon addressing the steps necessary to achieve and implement the National Dialogue Conference’s outputs. At the meeting’s sidelines, a workshop on the National Democratic Conference will be held targeting Arab and foreign countries due to its success in reaching positive results despite the many challenges facing the country. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 6/12/2014]


Kurdish forces take full control of Kirkuk
As ISIS vows to take two more Iraqi cities including the capital Baghdad, Kurdish forces take full control of the country’s oil city of Kirkuk after the Iraqi army abandoned their posts. Iraqi parliament is divided over implementing a state of emergency, a call made by Nuri al-Maliki. Only 128 of 325 members of parliament had attended the session to decide on the issue, far short of the number needed for a formal vote. Reports indicate that ISIS have gained control over military helicopters and are currently flying them over Mosul. Maliki, who has an uneasy relationship with the United States, has pleaded for the United Nations and Arab League to step in, while speaker of parliament Usama al-Nujaifi has asked the United States to do the same. [NY TimesAl ArabiyaAl Jazeera, 6/12/2014]

Jordan slaps Iraq TV staff with terror charges
Jordanian military prosecutors accused a group of journalists of terrorism after closing an Amman-based television channel critical of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The suspects face up to five years in prison if convicted of the charges, filed under the kingdom’s anti-terrorism laws. The arrest come after the Iraqi government accused the channel of inciting terrorism and sectarian conflicts. [Naharnet, 6/12/2014]

Algeria opposition warns of state collapse if no change occurs
A coalition of Algerian opposition parties has vowed to pursue its struggle for a real regime change, warning Wednesday that the existing political impasse will cause the state to collapse. The coalition urged Algeria’s leadership “not to miss the historic opportunity… to respond positively” to their call for a democratic transition. The Algerian government quickly rejected the coalition’s calls for change, and declared that the country has strong institutions and there is no need for a transition period. [Naharnet, 6/12/2014]

OPEC to hold oil output steady as turmoil rocks some member states
OPEC agreed on Wednesday to keep its petroleum production target at thirty million barrels a day for the rest of the year, a decision intended to calm global concerns about the supply and price of oil. This news come after the growing instability in Iraq, which is risking the production outputs that Iraq had agreed to supply. [NY Times, 6/12/2014]