Top News: Libya Minority Groups Say Will Boycott Constitution Vote

Top News: Libya Minority Groups Say Will Boycott Constitution Vote

Three Libyan ethnic minorities announced on Wednesday they would boycott an election of a committee to draft a new constitution, the first blow to a democratic process supposed to decide what political system the country will adopt.


Presidency announces transitional period to last nine months
The transitional period that includes constitutional amendments, parliamentary elections, and ends with presidential elections is expected to finish within nine months, said Mostafa Hegazy, presidential advisor for political affairs. In a press conference at the presidential palace on Wednesday, Hegazy announced that the roadmap detailed in the constitutional declaration released last week is beginning to come to shape. Hegazy further announced that communications with all political forces including the Muslim Brotherhood and their political party will start next week as initial steps for the seeked national reconciliation. [DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 7/18/2013]

Kerry says ‘too early’ to judge Egypt path after Morsi
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said it was too early to judge yet the future course of Egypt following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi. "Very clearly order needs to be restored, stability needs to be restored, rights need to be protected … and the country needs to be able to return to normal business … The fact is we need to take the time necessary because of the complexity of the situation to evaluate what has taken place … So that’s exactly what we are doing right now, and I’m not going to rush to judgment on it," Kerry told a press conference in Amman.  [Ahram Online, Reuters, State Dept Press Briefing, 7/17/2013]

Egypt urges Turkey to place historical ties above partisan interests
Badr Abdel Aaty, spokesperson for the Egyptian foreign ministry, called on Turkey to refrain from intervening in Egyptian affairs and to put historical interests between the two countries above narrow partisan interests. In an interview with Al Arabiya satellite channel on Thursday, Abdel Aaty said Egyptian diplomats have informed Turkey of Egypt’s total rejection of its interference in its internal affairs and of Turkish officials’ insistence on describing the developments that took place in Egypt as a military coup. [Egypt Independent, 7/18/2013]

Cabinet to issue ‘roadmap’ to economic recovery
Egypt’s newly formed government plans to announce an economic “roadmap” to govern the transitional period after President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, said on Thursday Ashraf al-Araby, who has been retained as minister of international cooperation and planning after serving  in the same position in former prime minister Hisham Qandil’s cabinet. Financial assistance from the Gulf that began flowing into the country after the appointment of interim President Adly Mansour earlier this month will make the transitional period “easy” for the government, the independent daily newspaper Al-Shorouk quoted Araby as saying. However, the aid package is not an alternative to the long-awaited International Monetary Fund loan, Araby warned. [Mada Masr, 7/18/2013]


Libya minority groups say will boycott constitution vote
Three Libyan ethnic minorities announced on Wednesday they would boycott an election of a committee to draft a new constitution, the first blow to a democratic process supposed to decide what political system the country will adopt. Members of the Amazigh, Tibu, and Tuareg communities denounced a law passed on Tuesday under which sixty people will be elected by popular vote to draft a charter, saying that such a constitutional committee would not be "fully representative." [Reuters, 7/17/13]

Law 27 to clear Tripoli of armed groups in an orderly manner, says Muhairig       
Speaking as head of the committee charged with implementing General National Congress Law No. 27 regarding the clearing of Tripoli of armed groups, Electricity Minister Ali Muhairig said that his committee is not backed by any particular military group and is, therefore, able to negotiate with armed the groups present within Tripoli. Muhairig said that there has been positive feedback from the armed groups and that the committee aims to peacefully transform Tripoli. [Libya Herald, 7/18/13]

New ammunition storage for Misrata
Misrata is a step closer to securing arms, ammunition, and explosives in the area, with a purpose-built ammunition storage shelter. The $200,000 facility, paid for by the Swiss government, has been built to international standards under Libyan and United Nations supervision. Another facility is being built in the area, under the supervision of the army chief of staff. [Libya Herald, 7/18/13]

Smugglers are the ones prospering from subsidies, says Zidan
Asked about the progress in subsidy reform at yesterday’s press conference, Prime Minister Ali Zidan said that Smugglers—not the general public—are prospering from subsidies. The prime minister gave few new details beyond saying that his government was taking steps to reform subsidies. He stressed that the plan was to swap the subsidy of goods into cash subsidies. [Libya Herald, 7/18/13]


Kurdish-Islamist fighting spreads to Syrian oil fields
Kurdish fighters have seized control of a Syrian town on the border with Turkey and are battling Islamist rebel groups linked to al-Qaeda for control of oilfields in the northeast of the country. The capture of Ras al-Ain by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish party with links to Kurdish militants in Turkey, rang alarm bells in Ankara because the Turkish government fears the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria could embolden homegrown militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey. [Reuters, 7/18/2013]

Syrian refugees demand help from Kerry at Jordan camp
Syrian refugees angrily told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday that the United States should set up a no-fly zone and safe havens in Syria to protect them. Visiting a camp that holds roughly 115,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, Kerry spent about forty minutes with half a dozen refugees who vented their frustration at the international community’s failure to end Syria’s more than two-year-old civil war. [Reuters, 7/18/2013]

Turkish agency warns of donor fatigue as Syria aid drops sharply
International aid for Syria has tailed off sharply in recent months with the conflict apparently slipping from people’s minds even as the humanitarian crisis deepens, Turkey’s IHH relief agency warned on Wednesday. IHH, whose trucks ferry aid gathered in Turkey and abroad to Syria every day, said it was now delivering as little as a tenth of the aid it had been sending earlier in the year. [Daily Star/Reuters, 7/17/2013]


Government reportedly investigating Tunisians calling for its dissolution
Radio station Mosaique FM reported that the general prosecutor declared Wednesday an open investigation of any person calling for the dissolution of the Tunisian government. Ministry of justice spokesman Adel Riahi said that the government is still waiting for an official statement on the matter from the general prosecutor’s office. Reports follow a previous complaint filed by the office of the presidency against those who call for the overthrow of the government. [Tunisia Live, 7/18/2013]

National assembly to select election commissioners Friday
National Constituent Assembly President Mustapha Ben Jaafar announced Wednesday that a plenary session will be held on Friday to elect members to the Independent Higher Authority for the Elections (IHAE), the body tasked with organizing the country’s upcoming elections. In a statement, Ben Jaafar said the selection committee had convened earlier on Wednesday during an extraordinary meeting to make modifications to the list of thirty-six candidates under consideration. [TAP, 7/18/2013]

Tunisian parliament approves Islamic bonds, sukuk
Tunisia’s parliament has passed a law that will allow the state to issue Islamic bonds, or sukuk, a move that could help narrow a gaping budget deficit and boost foreign currency reserves, which have fallen to critically low levels. Finance Minister Elyess Fakhfakh told parliament that his ministry planned sometime in November or December to issue a sovereign sukuk to raise $700 million. [TAP/Reuters, 7/18/2013]

Law seeks greater access for anti-corruption commission
In an effort to root out corruption in the public sector, forty-one deputies submitted Wednesday to the National Constituent Assembly a draft bill permitting the country’s anti-corruption commission, known as the Commission on Administrative Reform and Fight against Corruption, access to a range of state archives and documents related to the privatization of public companies, public lands under lease or sale, procurement markets, and taxation records. The commission’s work has been hindered by inaction of several government offices and the ministry of interior.  [TAP, 7/18/2013]


Zindani denies sending fighters to Egypt
Abdulmajeed al-Zindani, an Islamist cleric and founder of the controversial Iman University, denied allegations that he is sending his followers to Egypt. Zindani, Hamid al-Ahmar, and Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar have all been accused of sending their supporters to Egypt in support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Zindani was named as a “Specially Designated Terrorist” by the US Department of Treasury. [al-Tagheer, 7/17/2013]

NDC’s southern issue group and ministerial committee move to implement thirty-one key points
Members of the Southern Issue Working Group met on Wednesday with the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) ministerial committee to address the implementation of items on both the twenty-point list submitted by the NDC technical committee and the eleven-point list which submitted by the southern issue group. During the meeting, group chairman Mohammed Ali Ahmed expressed his hope that the ministerial committee would make strong efforts to achieve its mission. [NDC, Saba (Arabic), 7/17/2013]

Mediation leads to truce between warring tribes in Marib and Shabwah
Tribal mediation appears to have initially succeeded in reaching a truce between two warring tribes on the borders of the Marib and Shabwah governorates. The two tribes have been violently quarreling over a piece of land between their respective governorates that is potentially oil-rich. The Atuhaif and Balharith tribes have stopped attacking each other after being persuaded to hand over their dispute to a legal judge in a rare embrace of the government’s legal system. Nine individuals were killed and a few injured in the fighting. [Yemen Times, 7/18/2013]


Talks for Lebanese hostages in Syria ongoing; Amal accuses Israel of killing Syrian politician
Caretaker Labor Minister Salim Jreissati said Wednesday efforts were ongoing with Turkey to overcome obstacles that have blocked the release of Lebanese hostages in Syria. Jreissati declined to specify which obstacles were preventing the release of the abducted men who have been held over a year, saying a ministerial committee  would maintain a policy of “useful silence.”  Amal Movement member of parliament Hani Qobeissi on Wednesday accused Israel of being behind the killing of Syrian politician Mohammad Darrar Jammu. [Lebanon Daily Star 7/18/2013, Ya Libnan 7/17/2013]

King Abdullah calls for unified Arab stance on peace process, inaugurates Disi Water project
King Abdullah and US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday reviewed the efforts exerted in a bid to achieve peace in the Middle East region. The two sides also discussed the latest developments of the crisis in Syria, according to a statement from the Royal Court. On the same day, King Abdullah inaugurated the multi-million-dinar Disi Water Conveyance Project, which will pump 120,000 cubic meters of water daily to fill a growing gap between supply and demand. The ministry of water and irrigation announced Wednesday a comprehensive plan to distribute the project’s one hundred million cubic meters per year across the governorates. [Jordan Times 7/17/2013, Jordan Times 7/17/2013]

Syrian air raid hits pro-rebel Lebanese region

A Syrian military helicopter fired rockets at a pro-rebel region of eastern Lebanon in the early hours of Thursday. The attack did not cause any injuries. Arsal is broadly sympathetic to the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, and has become a transit point for Syrian refugees, as well as rebels and their weapons. The area has been targeted on multiple occasions by Syrian regime forces, including in a June 12 attack that hit the center of Arsal. That raid prompted a rare warning from the Lebanese army, which threatened to respond if the attacks continued. [Middle East Online, 7/18/2013] 

Photo: Mbi300

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