Libya’s national assembly elected a minority Berber as its new president on Tuesday after his predecessor quit following passage of legislation barring ex-associates of Qaddafi from public office.


Opposition spurns invitation to Morsi’s speech
A number of political figures and opposition leaders have refused an invitation to attend a planned speech by President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday. Morsi’s address comes amid mounting calls by the opposition for the president to step down in advance of upcoming mass anti-government rallies on June 30. [Ahram OnlineAMAY(Arabic), 6/26/2013]

Petroleum ministry denies fuel shortage
With queues of fuel-hungry motorists lining up at petrol stations across the country, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Sherif Hadarra called on Egyptians not to “listen to rumors about fuel shortages” despite remarks by government officials acknowledging the shortage. “What has been said about the shortage oil, diesel and other mineral materials is not true,” said Hadarra, according to state-run news agency MENA. [Daily News Egypt, 6/25/2013]

Egypt’s military redeploys across country days ahead of mass anti-Morsi protests
Egypt’s military on Wednesday brought in reinforcements of troops and armor to bases near Egyptian cities ahead of June 30 protests planned by the opposition to force the Islamist president out, security officials said. The presidency says that the military has been coordinating closely with Morsi’s government in the run-up to the protests, but activists say they are looking to the army for protection from hard-line government supporters. [AP, 6/26/2013]

Egypt state media outlets blast Muslim Brotherhood ‘interference’
Egyptian state television employees are gathering votes calling for the dismissal of presidential media representative Ahmed Abdel-Aziz after accusing him of "interfering with editorial policy," Amer al-Wakil, news editor at the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (Maspero), said according to al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website. Al-Wakil said on privately owned satellite television channel ONtv that Abdel-Aziz, who represents the presidency for media affairs, had demanded last Friday that coverage of upcoming protests should be restricted to pro-government rallies, while ignoring planned opposition protests against President Mohamed Morsi. [Ahram Online, 6/25/2013]

Assembly votes in first Berber as new chief
Libya’s national assembly elected a minority Berber as its new president on Tuesday after his predecessor quit following passage of legislation barring former associates of Muammar Qaddafi from public office. Nouri Abu Sahmain is the first Berber to hold such a senior government post after decades in which Qaddafi suppressed Berber culture. He will preside over preparations to set up a committee to draft a democratic constitution for the country. [Libya Herald, 6/25/13]

Libya a key terrorism transit hub, warns African Union
Libya has become a major transit hub for terrorists, said Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, the African Union’s special representative in charge of counterterrorism on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Algeria. The vulnerable security situation in Libya and its porous vast desert borders nearly three years after the conflict that toppled veteran dictator Qaddafi were cited as key concerns. The European Union has offered to cooperate with Libya on tightening border security, but Western sources say the lack of organization in the country currently makes such a project "very difficult." [AFP/Daily Star, 6/25/13]

Petroleum facilities guards clash in Tripoli’s Salahaddin area
An armed clash at the headquarters of the ministry of defense’s Petroleum Facilities Guards in Tripoli’s Salahaddin district resulted in six injuries. A heavily armed Zintani unit tasked with guarding the Sharara Oil field in the south of Libya attacked the headquarters, causing damage to the building and wounding three of its guards. According to the Solidarity news agency, anonymous sources claimed that the violence was in protest over unpaid salaries. Other reports claim the attack was over drilling equipment removed from the Sharara oil field. [Libya Herald, 6/25/13]

Opinion: My 2 cents: Gender equality and Libya’s economic and human development
Despite the overwhelming evidence that shows unequivocally how gender equality can enhance economic productivity and improve development outcomes, many countries in the Arab world still suffer serious disparities between men and women. The gap is rooted in the legal frameworks, social norms, political and economic regulations, limited economic diversification, bloated public sector with generous subsidies, and the weakness of the private sector in much of the countries in our region. Several factors render the old social contract unsustainable; Libya and other countries in the region must begin to reform the legal, political, and economic framework to close the gap between men and women. [by Hafed Al-Ghwell in Libya Herald, 6/26/13]


Deaths top 100,000 since start of Syria conflict
More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of the country’s uprising in March 2011, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said on Wednesday.  The Observatory said the number includes at least 36,661 civilians, 18,072 rebel fighters, and 25,407 army soldiers. [NOW, 6/26/2013]

US-Russia Syria talks end without date for Geneva II
UN-brokered talks Tuesday aimed at setting up a conference to end the war in Syria ended with US and Russian officials failing to agree on many questions, including the dates and participants, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said. The two sides will return to their capitals to discuss how to take the process forward, he told reporters after the five-hour talks. [Daily Star, 6/26/2013]

Syria blames Saudi Arabia for conflict
Syrian officials lashed out at Saudi leaders on Tuesday, accusing them of being behind the country’s more than two-year armed uprising. "The violence in Syria is being caused by Saudi arms, Saudi money and terrorists linked to Saudi Arabia," said Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi.  His remarks follow meetings between Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jeddah this week.  [NOW, Daily Star, 6/26/2013]

Russia removes military personnel from Syria
Russia has withdrawn all its military personnel from Syria and left its strategic Tartus naval center unstaffed because of the escalating security threat in the war-torn country, the Vedomosti daily said Wednesday. The business daily cited an unnamed source in the Russian defense ministry as saying that no Russian military or civilian personnel were now present in Syria. [AFP/NOW, 6/26/2013]


National Constituent Assembly members withdraw support for president’s impeachment
Four National Constituent Assembly members withdrew their signature from the draft impeachment motion of Interim President of the Republic Moncef Marzouki Wednesday, stopping the motion from advancing. Hichem Hosni, Mohamed Taher Ilahi, Ali Ben Chrifia, and Hanène Sassi were among seventy-six MPs to sign a draft motion calling for Marzouki’s impeachment and stated Wednesday the country needed national unity at this critical stage in Tunisia’s transition. [All Africa, 6/25/2013]

Employment minister hopeful despite political instability
Tunisian Minister of Vocational Training and Employment Naoufel Jammali revealed that the rate of unemployment in the country has decreased from 18.9 percent to 16.5 percent, adding that Tunisia had managed to get 200,000 citizens back to work over the past two years. Jammali also revealed that the government plans to employ 90,000 people this year and has already created 25,000 jobs in addition to the jobs provided by the public sector. [Asharq Al-Awsat, 6/26/2013]

Military strives to sidestep politics as challenges mount
In a region where national armies and political struggles have made for not-so-strange bedfellows, the nonpartisan mindset of the Tunisian military makes it something of an anomaly. As the Tunisian Armed Forces celebrated their fifty-seventh anniversary yesterday with fanfare, the army continues to enjoy popular credibility–a legitimacy perhaps lacking elsewhere in the region. [Tunisia Live, 6/25/2013]


Cabinet approves national policy addressing internal displacement
Cabinet on Tuesday approved the national policy to address internal displacement in Yemen. The policy provides a national framework to address displacement in the country and determines the current goals and priorities of an effective response to displacement. [Saba, 6/25/2013]

Yemeni entrepreneurs find support in Italy
Italy’s business union Confindustria Assafrica & Mediterraneo in cooperation with the foreign ministry and the Institute for Foreign Trade organized on Monday a business meeting, which aimed to strengthen partnerships in several sectors including energy, fishing, food, and tourism, between the two countries. [Yemen Post, 6/25/2013]

Protests in Ibb against appointment of provincial representative
Protesters in Ibb took to the streets to demand that President Abdrabo Mansour Hadi reverse his appointment of Jubran Basha as the representative to the province. Jubran is the son of a powerful sheikh in Ibb who is accused of human rights abuses. [Al Masdar, 6/26/2013]


Proposed amendments aim to strengthen political parties in Jordanian parliament
Jordan’s Lower House Legal Committee endorsed a set of amendments to the Chamber of Deputies’ Rules of Procedure on Tuesday to be discussed next week. The amendments are aimed at regulating the work of House blocs so that they can evolve into political parties and run for the next elections as a key element in the parliamentary government experience. [Jordan Times, 6/25/2013]

Maliki’s losses in local elections reflect failed economic policies
Politicians and observers believe that the Iraqi electorate punished the head of the central government in last week’s provincial elections due to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s failed economic policies, particularly on the provision of services and improving standards of living. Al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition lost control of most of the provincial governments that it won four years ago, chief among these the Baghdad provincial government, the country’s political capital, and Basra, Iraq’s economic capital. [Al-Monitor, 6/25/2013]

Kuwaitis campaign privately to arm Syrian rebels
Islamist groups in Kuwait are campaigning to collect donations to arm Syrian rebels in their war against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Some opposition Islamist politicians and Sunni clerics have openly campaigned to arm rebel fighters, using social media and posters with telephone hotlines in public places. [Reuters, 6/26/2013]

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