Top News: Libyan Parliament Elects an Independent Lawmaker as its President

Libya’s new House of Representatives on Monday elected Aguila Saleh Eissa, an independent lawmaker from the eastern town of al-Qobba, as its president. Aguila Saleh Eissa narrowly defeated his rival for the post, Abu-Bakr Baeira, in a 77-74 vote late Monday night from among 158 lawmakers who convened the parliament’s inaugural session in the eastern city of Tobruk.


Foreign affairs minister says no plan for military intervention in Libya
Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry held a press conference in Tunisia on Monday to address the mounting crisis faced by Egyptian expatriates attempting to flee worsening violence in Libya. In the press conference, Shoukry refuted rumors that the Egyptian Armed Forces would intervene in Libya. “There is no talk about an intervention by the Armed Forces in Libya. The Egyptian army is only tasked with protecting the borders of the Egyptian state,” Shoukry said. Amr Moussa, the former head of the constitutional committee and former minister of foreign affairs, had said earlier that Libya’s deteriorating security situation could force Egypt to launch a military intervention. [Mada Masr, 8/5/2014]

Amr Moussa’s Egypt electoral alliance collapses
Amr Moussa, former foreign minister and chairman of the fifty-member constitution-drafting committee, announced on Monday that his two-month long efforts to found a national political alliance have reached a deadlock. According to Moussa’s spokesman Ahmed Kamel, Moussa decided to withdraw from the Alliance of the Egyptian Nation – a bloc he tried to form last month among a group of leftist and liberal forces with hopes of gaining a majority in the new House of Representatives, Egypt’s lower house in parliament. The bloc was primarily designed to include the liberal Wafd Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, and the leftist Tagammu party. Kamel indicated that the failure of political parties and factions to put the national concerns of Egypt above their own narrow-minded interests has left the proposed alliance in limbo. Informed sources said the rejection by the Wafd Party’s leading officials on July 22 to join Moussa’s proposed bloc dealt a deafening blow to the alliance. [Ahram Online, 8/4/2014]

US peacekeeping soldier shot as Egypt continues Sinai raids
A US soldier with the multinational peacekeeping mission in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula was wounded when gunmen fired at his camp late on Monday, security sources said. The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) soldier was wounded in the shoulder and was treated by medics at a camp near the northern Sinai village of al-Joura, the sources added. Egyptian troops on Monday killed three militant fighters in shoot-outs in Sinai, where the military is combating Islamist insurgents, the army said. Six suspects were also arrested during the raids in North Sinai, army spokesman Mohamed Samir said in a statement. Tuesday’s announcement follows a similar series of raids that occurred on Sunday that resulted in the killing of eleven “terrorists” and the discovery and destruction of three tunnels in North Sinai. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, SIS, EGYNews (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 8/5/2014]

Egypt to build new Suez canal
Egypt plans to add an extra lane to the Suez canal, one of the most important thoroughfares for world trade, in an attempt to increase the number of ships using the canal each day. A new 45-mile (72 km) lane, plans for which were announced on Tuesday by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, would allow ships to travel in both directions for just under half of the canal’s 101-mile length. [Guardian, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Mada Masr, 8/5/2014]


Libyan parliament elects an independent lawmaker as its president
Libya’s new House of Representatives on Monday elected Aguila Saleh Eissa, an independent lawmaker from the eastern town of al-Qobba, as its president. Aguila Saleh Eissa narrowly defeated his rival for the post, Abu-Bakr Baeira, in a 77-74 vote late Monday night from among 158 lawmakers who convened the parliament’s inaugural session in the eastern city of Tobruk. Saleh Eissa held several judicial posts in the east under former ruler Muammar Qaddafi, but his political affiliation is unknown. Eissa is the country’s third parliament speaker since the 2011 uprising and civil war. [Reuters, AP, 8/5/2014]

Libya’s new parliament meets in Tobruk
The first session of the newly elected House of Representatives was held Monday, August 4, in Tobruk. Though battles continue to rage in Tripoli and Benghazi, 158 of the 188 elected lawmakers made it to Tobruk and were officially sworn in. Thirty were absent. Not all are Islamists, but many are connected to the Islamist bloc that controlled the General National Congress which was trounced in the general election in June. The new parliament was greeted with strong message of support from leading EU countries and the United States. The House of Representatives and the international community appealed for national unity and full inclusivity. [Libya Herald, Reuters, 8/5/2014]

Al-Thinni meets Kerry in Washington
Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni today had talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington. The two men met for about an hour on the sidelines of the US-African Leaders Summit. There was no briefing on what was discussed. Afterwards, al-Thinni thanked the United States for its support. The prime minister said that he wanted to assure everyone that despite all the challenges Libya is facing, he hoped that, “with the assistance of our friends, particularly the US, we’ll be able to overcome this critical stage and lay the foundations of a democratic system.” Kerry said that Libya’s challenges could only be solved the Libyans themselves. Kerry also emphasized that US embassy personnel would be back as soon as security improved. [Libya Herald, 8/4/2014]

Mixed reports of possible Egyptian intervention in Libya
The political crisis in Libya was one of the main topics of discussion in talks in Cairo between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Saturday. Sisi stressed that the international community, after intervening during Libya’s revolution, had a “moral obligation” towards Libya. Regarding the Egyptian-Libyan border, Sisi said Egypt was “ready to protect our country against any dangers.” Armed Egyptian forces patrol the Egyptian side of the border, ready to take action against smuggling operations. The former Egyptian foreign minister, Amr Moussa, raised speculation that Egypt is considering an armed incursion into Libya, while current Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry says Egypt is not mulling military action. [Libya Herald, Ahram Online, Al Arabiya, 8/5/2014]


Thousands flee as Lebanon battles Syrian militants
Thousands of Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees fled Monday as Lebanese artillery struck a border town that had been overrun by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) fighters from neighboring Syria. The civilians fled the area in the early morning hours during a relative lull in fighting. The fighting is the most serious spillover of violence from Syria’s civil war into Lebanon, compounding fears that Lebanon is quickly becoming a new front in its neighbor’s conflict. [AP, 8/5/2014]

6000 casualties for the month of July in Syria
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released its monthly death count of casualties on all sides of the conflict. The month of July alone witnessed 6000 deaths. The report indicates the number of deaths sustained by each side in the civil war. The majority of the casualties were civilians, with nearly 2500 deaths, while the Syrian regime suffered 961 deaths among its forces. [Syrian Observatory, 8/5/2014]

Spain detains two teenage girls seeking to join the fight in Syria
Spanish police said Monday they had detained a fourteen year-old girl and a nineteen year-old woman suspected of trying to join extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria. Security forces stopped the teenagers on Saturday as they tried to enter Morocco, allegedly to join the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). According to the Spanish interior minister, both women “were trying to cross the border to Morocco with the aim of contacting the network which would move them immediately to a conflict zone between Syria and Iraq.” [AFP, 8/5/2014]


Algerian army operating in Tunisia
Following an agreement signed between Tunisia and Algeria, the Algerian army operates legally on Tunisian soil to track jihadists. This cooperation was agreed upon on May 27, 2014, at the meeting of the Joint High Level Commission responsible for border issues. Algerian and Tunisian authorities have joined forces to deploy about eighty checkpoints on the 956 kilometers of common border and established twenty closed military zones. More than 60,000 troops have been deployed altogether together. [L’Economiste Maghrébin, 8/5/2014]

Tunisia to provide flights for transporting Egyptians
Tunisia is ready to provide five charter flights daily for transporting Egyptians blocked at the Ras Ajdir border post. So far, Tunisia provided fifty buses to transport Egyptians the airports of Djerba-Zarzis and Gabes, with a transport capacity of 4,500 persons daily. The number of Egyptians evacuated has reached 2,800. Between 5,000 and 10,000 Egyptians fleeing the fighting in Libya are still stranded at the border with Tunisia, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri. [TAP, Al Arabiya, 8/5/2014]

One civilian dead and two injured during counterterrorist operation
A young man died, Tuesday, by mistake during a security operation led jointly by the units of the army and the national guard targeting terrorist hideouts in the Sidi Said and Jebel Bent Ahmed localities of Fernana, in the Jendouba governorate. According to witnesses, the victim and his two companions were outside a house close to the site targeted by the bombings. The units of the army and the national guard launched a large combing operation in Mounts Bent Ahmed, Abbassa, and Boukhzar, bombing terrorist hideouts. [TAP, 8/5/2014]

Tunisia and United States to work toward greater security cooperation
In remarks with Tunisian Foreign Minister Mongi Hamdi and US Secretary of State John Kerry before a formal meeting of the US-Africa Leaders summit, Kerry thanked Tunisia for hosting US embassy officials, displaced because of fighting in Libya. He noted the dangers of international extremism and the potential of a failed state on Tunisia’s border, affirming US support in the face of these challenges. Hamdi noted the importance of a strategic relationship with the United States, reiterating the impact of Tunisia on the region as a success story. [US Department of State, 8/4/2014]


US pledges $30 million to Yemen
The United States is to contribute $30 million to Yemen’s Social Welfare Fund. In a press release, the US State Department stated that this assistance underscores the United States’ commitment to a comprehensive partnership with Yemen to support meaningful reform through the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative process and address mutual security challenges. [US State Department, 8/4/2014]

Marib 2 power station implementation plan discussed
Deputy prime minister and minister of electricity Abdullah al-Akwa met with the delegation of Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. Company on Tuesday to discuss the implementation of Marib 2 gas-powered station project. Following the meeting, al-Akwa said that he is hopeful about completing the project as scheduled. The first generator is scheduled to operate in Marib, the hub of Yemen’s oil production, by the end of December 2014. [Saba, 8/5/2014]

UN and G-10 members meet in Sana’a to discuss national reconciliation
A meeting of the committee of experts that includes the ten states sponsoring the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative, the five permanent member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the GCC states, and the European Union, was held in Sana’a on Monday. The meeting addressed the timeframe for implementing the GCC initiative and the political transition process. This is the second meeting of its kind. The committee’s first visit to Yemen was in June 2014. [Saba, Al Masdar (Arabic), 8/4/2014]


Iran seeking a successor to Malik in Iraq
Iran is seeking to work with Iraqi factions to find a replacement for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to form a new government in Baghdad, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday. The Iranian official declared that Iran “reached the conclusion that Maliki cannot preserve the unity of Iraq anymore,” and that now “Ayatollah Sistani also backs our view on Maliki.” [Reuters, 8/5/2014]

Iraqi prime minister orders air force to help Kurdish forces fight ISIS
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered his air force for the first time to support Kurdish forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) fighters after the militants captured more cities in northern Iraq. The jihadist fighters have turned their attention to the Kurdish forces after consolidating control over the areas already under their grip. Kurdish commanders whose units came under attack from ISIS fighters said they faced overwhelming firepower and were taken by surprise. [Reuters, 8/5/2014]

Kuwait imposes new restrictions on Islamic charities
The Kuwaiti government has imposed new restrictions on Islamic charities, including donations for Syria, to curb funding for extremists. The new measures oblige charities to issue a transparency document identifying the source and final destination of the funds they have raised. The measures requires charities to obtain “officially stamped receipts from the ministry, otherwise the collection of donations would be considered illegal.” [Naharnet, 8/5/2014]