Top News: Libyan Militia Says Ceasefire Reached to End Airport Battle
The Zintani militia battling the Misratan militia over control of Libya’s main airport is ready for a peaceful solution after five days of heavy fighting, a Zintani militia spokesman said on Thursday


EU parliament calls for ban on export of military, surveillance equipment to Egypt
The European parliament on Thursday passed a resolution calling on the European Union (EU) to take action regarding Egypt in light of various infringements on rights of the press and expression. The resolution called on the EU to ban the export of all “intrusion and surveillance technologies” citing possible use “to spy on and repress citizens”, and an additional ban on security equipment and military aid to Egypt “that could be used in the suppression of peaceful protest”. Thursday’s resolution also urged the Egyptian government to “immediately and unconditionally release all those detained, convicted and/or sentenced solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and association.” The EU parliament also expressed its “deepest concern” over a number of court cases, including the sentencing of Al-Jazeera journalists and mass death sentences. [DNE, Mada Masr, 7/17/2014]

Sisi orders formation of general secretariat of the National Defense Council
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered the formation of the general secretariat of the National Defense Council (NDC). The NDC is headed by Sisi and was reconstituted by a decree issued by interim president Adly Mansour in February. The secretariat will be headed by a general secretary, who will be recommended by the defense minister and appointed by Sisi. The defense minister appoints the members of the secretariat, mostly army officers and officials from other state institutions. Its headquarters will be at the defense ministry. The secretariat’s tasks include forming the agenda and conducting research for the NDC. The general secretary will also be accountable to the judiciary, and has the authority to request any documents from the judicial and executive authorities as well as other institutions. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 7/18/2014]

Security alert at border after Israeli ground campaign in Gaza
Security forces at the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip are on high alert after a ground campaign Israel launched against Gaza on Thursday night. Intense firing began along Gaza’s borders, Gaza residents and eyewitnesses said. Security forces are continuing to sweep and monitor various border areas, security sources said in a press release. Security was intensified at the entrances and exits of roads leading to the borders and checkpoints were set up to check passing vehicles. [Aswat Masriya, AMAY (Arabic), 7/18/2014]

Egypt raises interest rates to curb inflation
Egypt’s central bank raised the overnight deposit rate, overnight lending rate and the rate of the bank’s main operation by 100 basis points to 9.25 percent, 10.25 percent, and 9.75 percent, respectively. The decision made by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) on Thursday aims to contain inflation, expected to increase in July as a consequence of price increases on subsidized fuel and electricity. [Reuters, 7/17/2014]


Libyan militia says ceasefire reached to end airport battle
The Zintani militia battling the Misratan militia over control of Libya’s main airport is ready for a peaceful solution after five days of heavy fighting, a Zintani militia spokesman said on Thursday, hours after shells hit the terminal building. The conflict has pitted fighters from Zintan in the northwest, who have controlled the airport since the revolution, against armed groups from Misrata, a western coastal town. The Misratan brigades have not yet confirmed; according to other reports, confirmed the arrival of further reinforcements in the capital. A copy of the alleged agreement posted on social media said that a “neutral” force from a different part of Libya would protect the airport in the future. Meanwhile, the military council of Murzuk, a Tebu stronghold in the country’s southwest, threatened intervention if clashes in Tripoli do not end. [Reuters, 7/17/2014]

Libya asks UN Security Council for help protecting oil, airports
Libya has asked the UN Security Council for help protecting its oil installations, oil export ports, and civil airports, warning that without international assistance the country could become a failed state. Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz appealed to the council “to take the case of Libya seriously before it is too late,” making it clear that Libya’s central government is too weak to control the militias that helped oust late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and adding that the government had lost $30 billion in revenues while rebels controlled the oil ports. He made clear that Tripoli is not requesting military intervention but rather expert teams to work with Libyans on protecting critical sites. The UN recently evacuated all 160 of its international staff from Libya. [Reuters, 7/17/2014]

Female lawmaker assassinated in Libya
A Libyan security official confirmed that a female lawmaker from the outgoing General National Congress (GNC) has been killed in a restive eastern city known as a stronghold of Islamic extremists. The official said unknown assailants sprayed bullets at Fariha al-Berkawi near a gas station in the eastern city of Derna. Al-Berkawi was a member of the non-Islamist National Forces Alliance political bloc and a member of the GNC’s budget committee. Her husband was a longtime political prisoner under Qaddafi. [AP, Libya Herald, 7/17/2014]


Syria Kurds impose mandatory military service
Syria’s Kurds have imposed compulsory military service to ward off a push by militant jihadists in the predominantly Kurdish areas in northern Syria. The move reflects fears among Syrian Kurds that the ongoing offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, also known as IS) in their region may potentially reverse gains made by their ethnic minority in the past three years. The new law requires all adult males serve in “self-defense” duty for six months. [Al Jazeera, 7/18/2014]

ISIS fighters kill ninety in gas field takeover
Jihadists killed at least ninety regime fighters, civilian security guards, and employees when they seized a gas field in Homs province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described Thursday’s takeover of the Shaar field as “the biggest” anti-regime operation by ISIS since it emerged in the Syrian conflict last year. Twenty-five of the killed were civilian employees. Battle footage shot by the jihadists showed dozens of bodies, some of them mutilated, strewn across the desert landscape. One video shows a jihadist posing with the bodies as he speaks in German. [Naharnet, 7/18/2014]

Regime and ISIS clash near key army airport in Deir Ezzor
The army clashed with ISIS fighters outside a government-controlled military airport Friday, as the militant jihadist group seeks to strengthen its grip on the east of the country. Deir Ezzor airport is one of the last key strategic locations in the province out of the control of ISIS, which has also seized swath of territory across the border in northern and western Iraq. The army responded by bombing areas around the airport, which supplies its forces in the east of the country. [Daily Star, 7/18/2014]

Hezbollah and al-Qaeda clash on Syria-Lebanon frontier
Hezbollah and the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda have fought a deadly five-day battle in Syria near the border with Lebanon, a Hezbollah source and a fighter for the Nusra Front said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Hezbollah tried to enter Syria from two Shia Lebanese villages on the border when they were ambushed by Nusra fighters. [Reuters, 7/18/2014]


Questions of justice in Tunisia as ousted leaders are freed
Some of the most powerful figures of the government of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali have been returning home from prison. Five of the most senior officials of the former government returned recently, including Rafik Haj Kacem, former interior minister, and Ali Seriati, head of the presidential security service. Mohamed Ghariani, former secretary general of the governing party, is serving as an adviser to presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi. The releases have angered supporters of the revolution, especially families of protesters who were killed during the uprising. Ennahda made many concessions to former government officials in an effort to hang on to power last year, reasoning that it is more stabilizing, in the long-term, to be inclusive. Only Mr. Ben Ali, who fled to Saudi Arabia, still faces stern punishment. [NYTimes, 7/16/2014]

Chaambi terrorist attack carried out by a group of forty to sixty terrorists
The group of terrorists who attacked the National Army in Mount Chaambi on Wednesday evening was made up of forty to sixty terrorists, National Defense Minister Ghazi Jeribi said. The terrorists were of various nationalities, including Tunisian and Algerian. Separately in Sidi Bouali, on the northeastern coast, the security forces dismantled a terrorist cell on Thursday. Four individuals belonging to this cell were arrested while holding weapons for attack against strategic institutions. [TAP, 7/17/2014]

National dialogue resumes to examine terrorism, voter registration extension
The national dialogue resumed Friday morning at the Justice, Human Rights, and Transitional Justice Ministry headquarters in Bardo. The session will focus on the terrorist attack that took place Wednesday in Mount Chaambi, and on the extension of the voting registration deadlines. A meeting is scheduled with Independent Higher Authority for the Election (ISIE) President Chafik Sarsar to examine the progress of voter registration and the possibility to postpone its deadline. [TAP, 7/18/2014]


World Food Programme allocates $500 million to improve food security in Yemen
Yemen signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide $500 million to improve food security in Yemen. The memorandum aims to support 6 million Yemenis experiencing food scarcity and food insecurity. [SabaAl Masdar (Arabic), 7/17/2014]

Yemen’s security void leaves resources untouched
Amat al-Alim Alsoswa, the director of the Executive Bureau for the Acceleration of Aid Absorption and Implementation of the Mutual Accountability Framework, discusses upcoming reform projects in Yemen, including an action plan that is being prepared for the second half of the year to support the implementation of twenty-one selected projects, mostly through allocations which have yet to be approved. The total allocation for these projects is $2.04 billion accounting for about 26 percent of total donor aid. These allocations are concentrated on the infrastructure sector, electricity, education, water, transportation, health, and agriculture. Alsoswa added that she believes it is possible in the short-term to focus on increasing tax and customs public resources by completing the system, regulations, and decisions related to these resources, including a law on fighting tax and customs evasion and the abolition of tax exemptions. [Al Monitor, 7/17/2014]

Two people killed by unidentified gunmen in Aden
Two people were killed by unidentified gunmen in Aden on Thursday. Yemeni authorities have not identified the killers and have not released any further information regarding the shooting. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/18/2014]

Cement factory estimated to create 350 jobs in Aden
The Aden Free Zone Authority (AFZ) and Dar Al-Yemen Co. Ltd signed an agreement on Thursday to set up a cement factory at a total cost of $32 million. According to the agreement, the project would provide more than 350 job opportunities. The factory is expected to be operational over a period of eight to eleven months. [Saba, 7/17/2014]


UN says more than 5,000 civilians killed in Iraq this year
The United Nations said on Friday that at least 5,576 Iraqi civilians have been killed this year in violence. The recent report is the most detailed account yet of the impact of months of unrest culminating in an assault by Sunni militants through the north of the country.  The report documents what it calls systematic and egregious violations of international law by the group now calling itself the Islamic State. [Reuters, 7/18/2014]

Iranian commanders on front line of Iraq’s fight
The Iranian military general, Ghasem Soleimani has emerged as the chief tactician in Iraq’s fight against Sunni militants, working on the front lines alongside 120 advisers from his country’s Revolutionary Guard to direct Shia militiamen and Iraqi forces. Separately, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who has been in Germany for medical treatment since December 2012, will return home on Saturday, his party said in a statement on Friday. [Naharnet, 7/18/2014]

UN accuses ISIS of executions, rape, child abuse in Iraq
The United Nations accused ISIS fighters in Iraq of executing religious leaders, teachers, and health workers, forcibly recruiting children and raping women among acts that amounted to war crimes. A UN report focused on a range of violations committed against civilians, particularly by ISIS, though the report also said that Iraqi forces and allied fighters had not taken precautions to protect civilians from violence. [Reuters, 7/18/2014]