Top News: Multiple ISIS Suicide Attacks Kill Twelve Iraqi Soldiers and Militiamen

A series of ISIS suicide attacks outside a town in Iraq’s western Anbar province Tuesday killed twelve soldiers and allied Sunni militiamen, military and hospital officials said. They said the attack began when ISIS militants shelled army and militia positions outside the town of Haditha with mortars. They followed up with two suicide bombers who blew themselves up near the troops and later with three suicide car bombings. Five soldiers and three Sunni tribesmen were wounded in the attacks. Airstrikes by the US-led alliance destroyed six ISIS vehicles and killed thirteen militants as they approached the site, where heavy clashes erupted. [AP, 9/2/2015]



Egypt’s Sisi discusses cooperation, economic ties with Chinese counterpart
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in Beijing on Wednesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss furthering economic and political cooperation between the two countries, Egypt’s news agency MENA reported. The duo also discussed regional and international issues including conflicts in Syria and Yemen. The president is scheduled to attend a ceremony on Thursday marking the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II. Eighty-one Egyptian army personnel will take part in the Tiananmen Square parades. Meanwhile, Egyptian Investment Minister Ashraf Salman signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese company to develop the new administrative capital, reported the state news agency MENA. [Ahram Online, 9/2/2015]

Over 2,700 parliamentary hopefuls submit papers on first day of registration says HEC
An estimated 2,745 hopefuls aiming to run in Egypt’s parliamentary elections have submitted their papers on Tuesday, the first day of registration, Egypt’s Higher Elections Committee (HEC) announced on Wednesday. Egyptian political parties like Wafd and Nour started to submit the paperwork to the HEC for their parliamentary election hopefuls who will compete for individual seats across the country. According to news reports, the parties have not presented their party-based lists. A Coptic organization named the ‘Coptic General Committee’ also declared through an official statement its preferences for the upcoming parliament elections. The statement listed the names of the Coptic candidates in all the Egyptian governorates. Head of the Coptic General Committee Sherif Dos requested Copts to abide by these names “so as to prevent any fragmentation of their voting bloc.” It also requested that Copts choose the electoral lists of mainly the Egyptians Liberals Party but also of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Conservatives Party. Meanwhile, the HEC announced a total of 230 electoral symbols to be assigned for candidates in the elections, with 160 symbols for individual candidates, and 70 for party-list candidates. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 9/2/2015]

At least 343 arrested in August for alleged Muslim Brotherhood membership
At least 343 people were arrested in August on alleged charges of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, according to Ministry of Interior reports, aggregated by Daily News Egypt. The arrests over the past month took place across twelve governorates. The arrested are suspected of being members of middle-rank committees and specialized committees in the Brotherhood and performing attacks against security forces. Others were wanted on various charges relating to other cases. The interior ministry reports labelled those arrested as “criminals” or “terrorist,” and sometimes exposed their identity before their referral to the prosecution or court. [DNE, 9/1/2015]

Egypt appoints female judge as aide to Justice Minister
Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council agreed to appoint a female judge as an aide to Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind following a request from the minister himself. Ghada al-Shahawy will be the first woman in Egypt’s history to serve as an aide to the justice minister, and will be responsible for women’s and children’s issues. Shahawy previously served as a top judge at Cairo’s economics court, and more recently as a top judge at Cairo’s Court of Cassation. [Ahram Online, 9/1/2015]

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Greek coast guard seizes ship with weapons bound for Libya
Greek authorities have seized a freighter carrying a large undeclared shipment of weapons en route from Turkey to Libya, coast guard officials said on Wednesday. A coast guard patrol boat raided the vessel, the Haddad 1, on Tuesday, twenty nautical miles northeast of Crete. The web site shows that its last port of call was Iskenderun in Turkey. It destination was given as Misrata. The Bolivian-flagged freighter, with a crew of seven, was escorted to Heraklion port on the island. The United Nations has imposed an embargo on weapons shipments to Libya. The coast guard provided no further details of what kind of arms the freighter had on board, or its ownership. [Reuters, Libya Herald, AFP, AP, 9/2/2015]

HOR sends twelve names to Libya Dialogue for Prime Minister
The House of Representatives (HOR) has selected twelve nominees for the posts of Prime Minister and one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers in the proposed government of national unity. Delegates will take the choice of Prime Minister and his two deputies to the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue. The GNC has been asked to submit names for the other of the two Deputy Prime Ministers. A full list of the twelve names can be found here. On this list are four names from each of Libya’s historic provinces – Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan. HOR members from each of the three provinces chose their candidates separately. Although some of the names were expected, most notably Aref Nayed, Abdulrahman Shalgam, and Otman Basir, others, like Abubakr Baera, Fathi al-Majbri, and Mohamed al-Minifi, are relatively unknown and seen as having little chance at success. [Libya Herald, 9/1/2015]

UN Envoy notes tangible results in talks with GNC
The UN Libya Envoy Bernardino Leon has met with leaders of the Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC) and says he hopes a draft agreement aimed at forming a national unity government can be finalized in coming weeks. Bernardino Leon on Wednesday noted “tangible results” in the talks in Istanbul with the GNC, which withdrew from last week’s talk due to a negotiating team resignation. Leon is to host new discussions in Geneva on Thursday and Friday. It is not immediately clear whether the GNC will attend. The parties have been asked to present their candidates for the prime minister and two deputies to lead the national unity government and get the war-torn country out of its crisis. [AP, UNSMIL, 9/2/2015]

Libya’s Tobruk government bans Yemenis, Iranians, Pakistanis from entry
Libya’s House of Representative (HOR) has banned Yemenis, Iranians and Pakistanis from entering the divided country, a military statement said on Tuesday. The move widens a visa ban already applied to Sudanese, Bangladeshis, Palestinians, and Syrians. The HOR and allied security forces would likely only be able to enforce the ban at the eastern airports of Tobruk and Labraq and the land crossing with Egypt. Top army commander Khalifa Haftar, allied to Thinni, signed the latest ban, which cited the overall security situation and a need to preserve “the nation’s security and stability.” Haftar has repeatedly accused Sudanese, Palestinians, and Syrians of having joined Ansar al-Sharia and other Islamist groups, which fight his forces in the eastern city of Benghazi. He has also accused Yemenis of having joined Islamists. [Reuters, 9/1/2015]

Tunisian President Essebsi receives Iranian Foreign Minister
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Jawad Darif asserted on Tuesday Iran’s will to foster its relations with Tunisia. He said at the end of his meeting Tuesday with President Beji Caid Essebsi that it had been an occasion to review bilateral cooperations, particularly, in the political, economic, tourist, and cultural fields, and the means to develop them. Focus was laid on the importance of finding peaceful solutions to conflicts and of joining international efforts to counter terrorism. The Iranian minister left yesterday for Algiers, after a two day visit in Tunis. [All Africa/TAP, 9/1/2015]


Masked men kidnap eighteen Turkish workers in Baghdad
Masked men in military uniforms kidnapped eighteen Turkish employees of an Ankara-based construction company in Baghdad early Wednesday, bundling them into several SUVs and speeding away, Iraqi and Turkish officials said. They said the eighteen are employed by Nurol Insaat, a Turkish construction company contracted to build a sports complex in the Shia district of Sadr City. The kidnappers stormed the construction site, where the workers were sleeping in caravans, breaking down doors and disarming the guards before taking the workers away. The Iraqi officials said an Iraqi national was kidnapped along with the Turks. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said Ankara was in close contact with authorities in Iraq and “the Iraqi authorities for the time being do not have information on how the incident occurred or who captured them.” [AP, Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, BBC, WSJ, 8/2/2015]

Car bomb in Syrian port city of Latakia
Syrian news agency SANA said a car bomb exploded Wednesday in a square in the Syrian port city of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar Assad, killing at least ten people and wounding twenty-five. It was one of the biggest bombings, and the highest single death toll, in Latakia since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. Television footage from the scene showed thick black smoke rising from a car, damage to nearby vehicles, and a puddle of blood. Syrian state TV said the explosion went off in Hamam Square on the edge of Latakia. [AP, 9/2/2015]

Turkey’s interim government holds first meeting
Turkey’s interim government, including the first ever representatives from a pro-Kurdish party and a veiled minister, held its first meeting to prepare to rule until snap polls in November. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu formed the so-called “Election Cabinet” after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the polls following inconclusive polls on June 7. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) failed to win a majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002 but was also unable to form a coalition with the opposition. [AP, Reuters, 9/2/2015]


Prisoner abuse, landmines, and AQAP impede Aden’s recovery
Human Rights Watch released a report detailing the mistreatment of prisoners by Yemeni factions, including both the Southern resistance and the Houthi rebels in the country’s second city of Aden. Civilians and fighters alike have been abused while in custody of militias, the rights monitor reported. HRW called specifically on Yemen’s exiled government and the UAE to press Southern factions, now in control of the city, to treat detainees fairly. Reports continue that landmines left by fighters linked to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and his Houthi allies continue to wound and kill civilians in Aden despite demining efforts. Locals say thousands of mine were left as northern militias retreated. Further concerns are mounting as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other jihadists infiltrate Aden, even as UAE military and Southern militia forces attempt to impose order on the city. AQAP and the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) have reportedly put aside their differences to fight the Shia Houthi rebels and build a base in Aden. [HRW, Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), BBC, 9/2/2015]

UN warns of “untenable” situation in Yemen; Red Cross employees killed
The United Nations expressed alarm on Tuesday at the steep increase in civilian casualties in Taiz and the continued blockade imposed upon the city by Houthi rebels. They further warned of a sharp spike in documented cases of dengue fever, more than 420 in the past week. The UN is also concerned about the ramifications of the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing of Hodeidah port in north Yemen and called on all parties to allow the unimpeded delivery of aid and supplies. Two employees of the International Commission of the Red Cross were killed en route from northern Saada province to the capital Sana’a. The perpetrators and their motivations remain unknown. [UN News Centre, 9/1/2015]

Hadi requests additional Sudanese involvement in Yemen war
President in-exile Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi requested renewed support from President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. A Sudanese daily reported that during a recent trip to Sudan’s capital in Khartoum, Hadi asked for Sudanese battalions to help secure areas where Houthi and Saleh forces were pushed out. He further asked that Khartoum be ready to treat wounded fighters evacuated from Yemen. Bashir is said to be considering the request. [Al-Masdar (Arabic), 9/2/2015]

Houthi rebels to form cabinet within ten days
As talks with the Hadi government falter in Oman, the Houthis announced on Tuesday that they would form a governing cabinet. The announcement was made in Sana’a with other political parties refusing to attend, dismissing the move. Talks began falling apart after Houthis offered only to hand positions over to “the military,” without specifying which military: those cadres fighting against the Houthis or those loyal to the Houthis’ ally former President Saleh. Houthis also asked that their fighters be integrated into the military, which the Hadi government declined. Hadi’s representatives demanded the Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi appear on national television recognizing the government in-exile, a demand the Houthis called “crippling” for negotiation efforts. [AP, 9/1/2015]


Egypt to keep Eni’s natural gas find to itself
Egypt plans to keep all the natural gas produced at a giant field that Italy’s Eni found off its Mediterranean coast to itself, heightening competition among gas producers in the Middle East and Africa. On Sunday, Eni said the deep-water deposit in the Zohr Prospect in the Shorouk block might hold 30 trillion cubic feet of fuel, making it the biggest gas discovery in the Mediterranean Sea. “All the production will go to internal consumption,” said Hamdy Abdel Aziz, director of the Egyptian Petroleum Ministry’s information department. He said the field’s reserves could meet Egypt’s needs for more than ten years. On Tuesday, Eni said drilling operations in the Zohr field would commence in January 2016. [Bloomberg, 9/1/2015]

Standard & Poor’s says oil price slump to start affecting Saudi banks
The impact of lower oil prices will soon start to weigh on Saudi Arabia’s banks, which are likely to see bad loans edge higher by the end of the year, according to Standard & Poor’s (S&P). Lenders in the kingdom have so far managed to defy many analysts’ expectations by posting generally healthy results despite a sharp decline in oil prices. However, S&P pointed out that it usually takes a few quarters for asset quality issues to surface in a less resilient economy. “We now believe that through the end of this year we will begin to see credit losses picking up,” said Timucin Engin, a banking analyst at S&P. The ratings agency said historical data suggests a clear link between non-performing loans and oil prices. The link is likely to be reinforced if, as expected, the government begins to slow spending, pumping less money into the economy. Meanwhile, on Monday, Fitch Ratings revised the outlooks of four Saudi banks to negative from stable. [Reuters, 9/2/2015]

Eastern Libya struggles to attract oil buyers in row with Tripoli
Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk is struggling to attract oil majors in a bid to control oil revenue due to foreign clients’ wariness over breaking with the established state energy firm in Tripoli in the east. The Tobruk government wants major firms to purchase contracts with its own officials instead officials from the Tripoli controlled National Oil Corporation (NOC). Tobruk has escalated the dispute over Libya’s oil to put pressure on the rival government in Tripoli to agree on a national unity government, according to oil insiders and entrepreneurs. The central bank in Tripoli, which has tried to stay out of the struggle, says it serves the whole country. However life in the east has become harder as fighting disrupts deliveries of central bank banknotes and imports of food and petrol. [Reuters, 9/2/2015]

Iraq poised to meet investors ahead of crucial bond sale
Iraq plans to begin marketing a new Eurobond after September 7, according to several sources. Representatives from the country are expected to meet investors across the United States and Europe ahead of the deal. Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, and JPMorgan will be the lead managers, the sources said. Iraq is seeking to raise up to $6 billion through bond sales to relieve the pressure of low oil prices on state finances, though sources indicate this first deal will be small. Iraq last issued an international bond in January 2006. [Reuters, 9/2/2015]