Top News: Libyan Rebels to Reopen Two Remaining Oil Terminals, Says Spokesman

Libyan rebels under the leadership of self-styled federalist leader Ibrahim Jadhran, who are blockading key eastern oil ports, have agreed to reopen the remaining two terminals, according to a rebel spokesman. They will free the oil ports at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf in a “goodwill gesture” that could restore a big part of the OPEC country’s lost exports.


Egypt parties begin preparations for parliamentary elections
In a statement to Ahram Gateway, a member of the Nour Party’s supreme body said that the party is preparing lists of its candidates for Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections. The party held several workshops to determine its list of candidates. Meanwhile, Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the Constitution Party, said that the party had not joined any of the electoral alliances that are being formed in preparation for the elections. Mohamed Anwar Esmat Sadat, head of the Reform and Development Party, demanded that the Supreme Committee for Parliamentary Elections quickly pass a law on the division of parliamentary constituencies. In addition, a student delegation from the Coalition of Youth Revolution called on former Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, to run in the upcoming parliamentary elections. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 7/2/2014]

Government official denies prison torture claims, says jails are “like hotels”
Allegations of torture and sexual assault inside Egyptian prisons have been dismissed as “fabrications” by an aide to the interior minister. Widespread claims of physical assault and rape “have nothing to do with reality or logic,” Abdel-Fattah Osman, head of the ministry’s public relations and media department, told ONTV satellite channel.  Egyptian jails have become “like hotels,” he added. Othman accused some imprisoned activists of leaking false news over rape or torture of prisoners. “News over torture and rape never came up until some political activists were imprisoned,” he said, adding that all cases are being investigated. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 7/2/2014]

Morsi’s son sentenced to one year for drug possession
A Banha court sentenced in absentia Abdullah Morsi, the son of Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi, and his friend to one year in prison with labor on Wednesday, fining them EGP 10,000 each, for drug possession. The defendants have the right to appeal the verdict before the Cassation Court. [Aswat Masriya, 7/2/2014]

Egypt imposes 10 percent tax on capital gains, dividends
Egypt’s president approved a law on Tuesday imposing a new 10 percent tax on capital gains and stock dividends, as the country seeks to revive an economy battered by more than three years of political turmoil. The government increased the expected amount of tax revenues to be collected during the 2014/2015 fiscal year to EGP 364 billion compared to EGP 358 billion last year, representing a 1.6 percent increase according to Finance Minister Hany Kadry Dimian. [Reuters, Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, 7/1/2014]


Libyan rebels to reopen two remaining oil terminals, says spokesman
Libyan rebels under the leadership of self-styled federalist leader Ibrahim Jadhran, who are blockading key eastern oil ports, have agreed to reopen the remaining two terminals, according to a rebel spokesman. They will free the oil ports at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf in a “goodwill gesture” that could restore a big part of the OPEC country’s lost exports. Since last summer, the port seizures have crippled Libya’s oil industry. If this deal is fulfilled, the reopening of the two major eastern terminals would bring back around 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil export capacity. [Reuters, 7/1/2014]

Islamist party leader freed after brief abduction
Mohamed al-Harizi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction Party’s Committees Council, kidnapped by gunmen on Sunday, was reported released Tuesday evening. He was abducted near Tripoli’s Airport Road on his way home after prayers. No one has claimed responsibility for his abduction, and so far there are no further details about his release. [Libya Herald, 7/1/2014]

Benghazi mediators asked to negotiate Ansar al-Sharia withdrawal
The Benghazi Joint Security Room (BJSR) has called on mediators to negotiate with Ansar al-Sharia to get them to leave the city’s Jalaa Hospital, which the group took over after BJSR forces pulled out. Three days ago, the BJSR ordered the total evacuation of the hospital, which the hospital said was not possible. The BJSR yesterday tapped a member of both the new Benghazi municipal council and the city’s hospitals and clinics association to help resolve the matter, giving mediators three days to ensure that Ansar leaves the hospital. Meanwhile, violence continues to claim lives in Benghazi; most recently, a young child was hit by a stray bullet fired between two gangs, and an imam was gunned down as he was leaving a mosque. [Libya Herald, 7/1/2014]


ISIS leader incites Muslims to holy war
The leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has called on Muslims worldwide to take up arms and flock to the caliphate it has declared on captured territory in Syrian and Iraq. Proclaiming a new era in which Muslims will ultimately triumph. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi issued the call to jihad in an audio message lasting nearly twenty minutes that was posted online on Tuesday. This news comes as the militant group took control of the key Syrian border town of Albu Kamal on Tuesday after a fierce three-day battle with rival fighters. [Syria NOW, Reuters, 7/2/14]

Last phase of Syrian chemical weapons destruction begins
A specially equipped US vessel, the Cape Ray, began loading toxic chemicals at an Italian port for destruction at sea in the latest phase in removing and destroying some 1,300 tons of Syrian chemical weapons. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which has been overseeing the project, called the latest developments a major achievement for a country engulfed by civil war. Yet the organization has stopped short of declaring Syria free of all chemical weapons. [NY Times, 7/2/2014]

UN Security Council seeks a compromise to boost aid access to Syria
With nearly eleven million Syrians in need of humanitarian help, UN Security Council members are pushing Russia and China to support a compromise draft resolution to boost cross-border access and threaten sanctions on those that stand in the way. Russia said it would veto a Chapter 7 resolution that would allow cross-border aid deliveries without Syrian government consent. [Reuters, 7/2/2014]


Tax reform ready before the end of 2014
The proposed reform of the tax system, which is intended to address fiscal equality and aid the government’s fight against tax evasion, will be ready before the end of 2014, said the Secretary of State for Development and International Cooperation Noureddine Zekri. The reform project was launched in May 2014 by the National Fiscal Council and November 15 was set as a target date for the draft law to go before the legislature. [L’Economiste Maghrébin, 7/1/2014]

Forecasts predict 6.4 million tourists
Minister of Tourism Amel Karboul stated that bookings for the current tourism season currently predict 6.4 million tourists to Tunisia. She added that this depends on adequate social, economic, and security conditions. Karboul is plunging ahead with an ambitious plan to restore the country’s position as a premier destination for Maghreb and European visitors. Karboul hopes to target seven million visitors this season, which will help replenish state coffers and provide new jobs. [TAP, 7/1/2014]

Tunisia raises petrol prices by 6.3 percent to trim budget gap
Tunisia’s government cut fuel subsidies on Tuesday, raising petrol prices by 6.3 percent in an effort to trim its budget deficit, using politically sensitive austerity measures. Authorities lifted the price of lead-free petrol to 1.67 dinars ($0.99) a liter from 1.57 dinars. The North African state has forecast a budget deficit of eight percent of gross domestic product this year. Subsidies are a sensitive issue in Tunisia, where bitter anger over unemployment, economic deprivation, and social injustice exploded into the revolt in 2011 that triggered the Arab Spring uprisings in other countries. [Reuters, 7/1/2014]


Violent clashes between tribes from Mareb and Shabwah provinces
Clashes erupted on Tuesday between Abu al-Thaiev tribe from Marib and Balharith tribe from Shabwah, killing seventeen and wounding forty. Tensions between the two tribes may have been a result of land disputes located between Marib and Shabwah. Yemeni authorities have not intervened to stop the fighting. Clashes continued on Wednesday morning. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/2/2014]

Attacks on electric grid cause repeated power cuts in Sana’a
The Yemeni ministry of electricity and energy announced that a group of armed militants attacked power circuits in Sana’a on Tuesday. In related news, gunmen in Marib captured fuel tankers used for electric generators destined for Sana’a on Tuesday. Both incidents resulted in repeated power cuts in Sana’a. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/2/2014]

Houthi rebels continue to advance in Hamdan and Amran provinces
Today marks the fourth day that Houthi rebels refused to hand over territory in Hamdan to the Yemeni authorities. Houthi rebels continue their advance in Amran and Hamdan provinces. Sources say that more than sixty-three families have been displaced as a result of Houthi rebel activities in Dhafir city. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/2/2014]


Sharp criticism toward Iraq from the US and UN
The US and UN have sharply criticized Iraqi leaders, warning that time is running out for Iraqi unity. Washington warned that “time is not on Iraq’s side,” with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf calling for “extreme urgency.” For his part, the UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov said Iraqi politicians “need to realize that it is no longer business as usual.” Presiding MP Mahdi Hafez said the legislature would reconvene on July 8 if leaders were able to agree on senior posts. [Gulf News, 7/2/2014]

Kuwait opposition leader held for insulting judges
Kuwait’s public prosecutor on Wednesday ordered opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak to be held in custody after he was questioned for allegedly insulting the judiciary, his lawyer said. He was questioned for alleged slander and insults to the supreme judicial council and its chairman. Al-Barrak had claimed that former senior officials including members of the ruling family had stolen tens of billions of dollars from public funds and engaged in money laundering. [Al Arabiya, 7/2/2014]

A rebel rapper gets four months jail time in Morocco
A Moroccan court on Tuesday convicted a rapper known for his anti-establishment lyrics of assaulting a police officer and public intoxication and sentenced him to four months prison and a $1,200 fine, a rights activist said. It is the latest prison term for Mouad Belghouat, who was previously sentenced to a year in prison for a song calling policemen dogs. [Gulf News, 7/2/2014]