Top News: Maliki Finally Steps Down, Paving Way for New Government

Nouri al-Maliki finally curved to growing pressure within Iraq and internationally on Thursday and stepped down as prime minister. In the speech, Maliki endorsed fellow Shia Haider al-Abadi which he stood next to and spoke of the grave threat from Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants.





Protests leave up to eight dead, dozens arrested, in wake of Raba’a anniversary
At least six people were killed on Thursday, among them two protesters in Matariya and a policeman in Cairo, as security forces moved to suppress small-scale demonstrations organized by Islamists across Egyptian cities to mark the anniversary of last year’s killings of protesters, security sources said. The health ministry placed Thursday’s death toll at four. On Friday, two pro-Morsi protesters were killed and dozens injured in clashes with the police during rallies in the capital, a security source said. The ministry of interior released a statement saying it had defused 23 bombs and arrested at least 114 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and accusing the group of seeking to destroy public property. Arrests were made in Daqaheya, Fayoum, Minya, Suez, Alexandria, Qena, and Sohag. The Brotherhood also released a statement on the occasion of the Raba’a anniversary, in which it said at least four protesters were killed on Thursday. [Reuters, DNE, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), Mada Masr, 8/15/2014]

Fact-finding commission says at least 736 killed in 2013 Raba’a dispersal
The head of a government fact-finding committee tasked with looking into events after the June 30 protests last year, Fouad Abdel-Moneim Riad, said that the committee has started counting the number of people killed at the Raba’a al-Adeweya sit-in dispersal and reached a total of 736 dead. He said in a statement on Thursday that the committee has not yet finished counting the total number of victims. He added that witnesses from the Muslim Brotherhood spoke to Human Rights Watch (HRW) for its recently-issued report but not with the committee due to security fears. Nasser Amin, a member of Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights, said that there was no justification for the number of individuals killed at Raba’a, regardless of the number of weapons protesters had. Amin was also critical of the decision to bar HRW executives entry to Egypt. [SIS, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 8/15/2014]

Police arrest Facebook page administrator for using ‘inciting language’
Police said they arrested on Thursday a young man in Beheira governorate for running a page on Facebook that uses inciting language and calls for protests. The Facebook page reportedly also uses slogans belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement. The page administrator is a 23-year-old college student at al-Azhar University. Upon inspecting his computer, police learned that he ran several other Facebook pages that “incite against the ruling regime in the country,” the ministry said. [DNE, 8/14/2014]

Government announces funding plan for Suez Canal project
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has agreed to fund the long-anticipated Suez Canal development project through Egyptian banks and investment certificates. Sisi emphasized the need for Egyptian citizens to contribute to the military-run project, which he asserted would be completed in one year. [Mada Masr, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 8/14/2014]


Libya sees Es Sider oil export restart in ‘a few days’
Libya is set to resume oil exports from its largest port, Es Sider, in “a few days” after being closed for almost a year by protesters, according to a National Oil Corporation (NOC) official. This would be a huge boost for the country, as Es Sider and Ras Lanuf together exported around 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) before the blockades. Current national production is at 400,000 bpd—still far below the 1.4 million bpd the country produced last year before a series of strikes and blockades slashed output to as low as 200,000 bpd. [Reuters, 8/14/2014]

Western nations issue joint statement condemning Libya violence
France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States have issued a joint statement calling for immediate ceasefire and urging inclusiveness in a political dialogue. They also urged all factions to recognize the authority of the House of Representatives as a body elected by the Libyan people. Expressing concern for civilians, the statement warned that attacks targeting innocents is a violation of international humanitarian law. Meanwhile, a delegation from the UN Support Mission in Libya and the European Union arrived in Misrata to discuss possible solutions to the crisis with the city’s municipal council and ways to build constitutional institutions. [Libya Herald, 8/14/2014]

Ship evacuates Philippine workers and others from Libya
A Philippine-chartered ship evacuated 449 Filipinos and a small number of other foreigners, including one American, from Libya on Thursday due to the deteriorating security situation, the foreign department said. The operation from Benghazi marked the largest single evacuation of Filipinos from the country; however, 10,000 other Filipino workers have yet to leave. Once the ship’s mission is complete, nearly 3,000 Filipinos will have left Libya since the government in July called for their “mandatory evacuation.”. Many are medical workers, who make up the backbone of Libya’s hospital staff and are offered financial incentives to stay. Indeed, the hospital at Sirte has experienced a near total drainage of its Filipino staff. [AFP, 8/14/2014]


ISIS leader flees to Syria fearing US airstrikes
According to Kurdish intelligence, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or IS) and self-proclaimed caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi fled the northern city of Mosul to return to Syrian territory after the United States authorized airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq. [Asharq al-Awsat, 8/15/2014]

Syrian Coalition president says Lebanon must rein in Hezbollah
In a wide-ranging interview, Syrian National Coalition President Hadi al-Bahra publicly challenged the Lebanese government to rein in Hezbollah, and halt all cross-border incursions. “If the Lebanese state cannot exercise its sovereignty, it damages its own prestige, authority, and state integrity. It is the responsibility of the Lebanese government, in which Hezbollah is an active partner. Is Hezbollah interfering in Syria as a party, or as a partner in and on behalf of the [Lebanese] government? We should clarify this problem and find solutions for it.” [Asharq al-Awsat, 8/14/2014]

ISIS inspires Islamist secession in Philippines
Hardline Muslim guerrillas in the Philippines said Friday they have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or IS). Videos have circulated recently showing both southern Philippines-based Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Abu Sayyaf rebels pledging support to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. BIFF split in 2008 from the Philippines’ main Muslim rebel group, the 12,000-member Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which later signed a peace agreement with the government. BIFF has rejected the peace talks and pursued the decades-old armed campaign to establish an Islamic state in the southern Philippines, which was begun by the MILF. [AFP, 8/15/2014]

UN Security Council to target Iraq, Syria militants on Friday
The United Nations Security Council is set to try to weaken Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria on Friday by blacklisting individuals and threatening sanctions against those who finance, recruit or supply weapons to the insurgents. The British-drafted resolution targets ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing al-Nusra Front, naming six new people to be placed under an international travel ban, asset freeze, and arms embargo. Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the fifteen-member council was expected to unanimously adopt the resolution. [AFP, 8/15/2014]


Ten tons of personnel protective gear, promise of $14 million from United States
The ministry of interior received, Thursday, more than ten tons of bulletproof vests, helmets, shields, and other personnel protective gear from the US government to police and the National Guard. The third and fourth generation equipment will help specialized police units conduct assault operations and fight terrorism. The ambassador of the United States in Tunisia, Jacob Walles, said he is currently working towards the delivery of twelve Black Hawk helicopters as soon as possible. “Since the January 2011 Revolution, the United States has allocated over $35 million in assistance to the ministry of interior, with plans to provide at least an additional $14 million in the coming year,” the ambassador said. [TAP, African Manager, 8/14/2014]

Two funding agreements between Germany and UNDP signed
Two funding agreements between Germany and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) worth 4.6 million dinars (2 million euros, $2.67 million) were signed Friday morning in the German embassy in Tunis. The German aid intends to support transitional justice and the electoral process, and will be implemented by the UNDP in cooperation with the Tunisian foreign ministry. [TAP, 8/15/2014]

Election registrants reaches 847,858
According to the Independent Higher Authority for Elections (ISIE), the number of voter registrants reached 847,858 as of August 13. This number includes those already registered for the elections of 2011. The total number of registered amounts to 5,103,065, of about 7,000,000 Tunisians of voting age. The extension of the voter registration deadline ends on August 26. [L’Economiste Magharébin, 8/15/2014]


Yemen removing thousands of ghost workers from Yemen’s bureaucracy
Yemen’s government began applying a biometric registration system for all military personnel in order to clear the public payroll from double-dippers and so-called ghost workers. Experts say the step has been taken due to pressure from international donors and the public. The cash-strapped government believes that purging ghost employees from the payroll will save millions of dollars every year. Double-dippers are those who are registered twice on the payroll and receive two salaries from two different public sector jobs. Ghost workers are fake names that are put on the payroll or those workers who receive one salary but do not serve in their positions. [Gulf news, 8/14/2014]

Al-Qaeda militants launch car bombs and raid bank in Hadramawt
Three Yemeni soldiers and two al-Qaeda militants were killed when security forces foiled an attack by insurgents in Hadramawt on Thursday. Coinciding with the car bomb attacks, al-Qaeda militants raided the Yemeni international bank in Hadramawt. Later that day, al-Qaeda called on Islamists to target the United States in a statement published on a Twitter account affiliated with the franchise’s local affiliate, Ansar al-Shariah. The announcement came after Washington launched air strikes in Iraq against Islamist militants. [Reuters, Yemen Post, 8/14/2014]

The Yemen alliance discuss the Southern issue
The Yemen alliance tasked with monitoring the implementation of the National Dialogue Conference results revealed in their meeting on Thursday that in the case of the Southern issue, seventy-one percent of the thirty-one points addressing the Southern issue have not been implemented. Head of the Yemen alliance, Emad al-Deeni, warned that frustration over the slow implementation of results might translate to popular unrest. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 8/14/2014]


Maliki finally steps down, paving way for new government
Nouri al-Maliki finally curved to growing pressure within Iraq and internationally on Thursday and stepped down as prime minister. In the speech, Maliki endorsed fellow Shia Haider al-Abadi which he stood next to and spoke of the grave threat from Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants. On Friday, Iraq’s most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, announced his support to the new prime minister and called for national unity to contain sectarian bloodshed. [Reuters, 8/15/2014]

Britain says its ready to supply Kurds with arms
Britain would consider positively any request for arms from the Kurds to help them battle Sunni militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). This development comes as the United State asked the European Union to start supplying the Kurds with military equipment and air support. A spokesman for the British Prime Minister announced “Our understanding is that they prefer to operate kit that they are trained on, and so that’s why so far it has been us transporting supplies from other countries.” [Reuters, 8/15/2014]

Nasrallah warns the Gulf state from supporting ISIS
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese group Hezbollah described the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) as a growing monster that could threaten Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and, other Gulf states. During an interview with Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, Nasrallah repeated his defense of Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian conflict, striking back at opponents who say the group has provoked ISIS attacks in Lebanon. [Reuters, 8/15/2014]