Most Yemeni factions have agreed to set up an interim presidential council to manage the country for up to one year.

Delegates said that nine parties and groups, including a faction from the southern separatist Herak group, agreed during negotiations in Sana’a on a five-member presidential council that will be headed by Ali Nasser Mohammed, a former president of South Yemen before the 1990 merger with north Yemen. [ReutersAsharq al-AwsatAl Masdar, 2/5/2015]



US and EU condemn mass life-in-prison sentences in “cabinet clashes” trial
The United States and the European Union condemned the mass sentencing of 230 defendants, including political activist Ahmed Douma, to life in prison in the “cabinet clashes” trial on Wednesday. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday its government was “deeply troubled” by the verdict. “Mass trials and sentences run counter to the most basic democratic principles and due process under the law,” Psaki said. The EU said the sentences violate Egypt’s international human rights obligations, in a statement by the spokesperson in Brussels released late Wednesday. “The EU calls on the Egyptian authorities to abide by their international obligations, to uphold the right to a fair trial and safeguard due legal process,” the statement read. Mohamed Nagy Shehata, the judge overseeing the trial and head of Cairo criminal court, insisted the verdict was fair, saying the evidence supported the convictions. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 2/5/2015]

Liberal party alliance conditions elections run on interior minister’s removal
In a meeting on Wednesday, coalition members agreed to meet with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab to set out their conditions for participating in the upcoming polls. Conditions include the removal of the interior minister, amending the protest law, releasing detainees arrested based on the law and investigating the death of Shaima al-Sabbagh. The Democratic Current has decided to postpone announcing its decision on running the upcoming race to next Monday until it convenes with its member party, Karama. The Democratic Current also comprises the Dostour party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Masr al-Hureyya (Freedom Egypt), and the Popular Current. [Egypt Independent, 2/5/2015]

Journalists launch a week of protests for release of detained colleagues
A group of journalists will begin a week of protests demanding the release of detained colleagues, condemning what they called “systematic assaults” by security authorities against people of the profession. The Front for Defending Journalists and Freedoms said the week of demonstration starts Sunday afternoon, with a protest scheduled on Tuesday at the Journalists’ Syndicate. The events will also involve a conference for journalists’ families and a symbolic hunger strike in solidarity with the detainees. In a Facebook statement, the group plans to collect signatures demanding the release of all detained journalists, including Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed. [Egypt Independent, 2/5/2015]

One killed, another wounded in Sinai drive-by shooting
One conscript was killed and another was injured in a drive-by shooting by unidentified assailants outside a hotel in North Sinai’s al-Arish on Thursday, security sources said. Police sources told Aswat Masriya the two conscripts were inside a tourism police vehicle at the time of the attack. The assailants were riding a private vehicle when they opened fire on the conscripts, witnesses said. Both conscripts were transferred to Arish military hospital. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 2/5/2015]

For more in-depth Egypt news, please visit EgyptSource


Gunmen kill twelve Libyans, foreigners at oilfield raid
The gunman who stormed and took control of the al-Mabruk oilfield earlier this week killed twelve total people, including Libyans, Filipinos, and Ghanaians. The commander of security for the oilfield said that most were beheaded or killed by gunfire during the raid. Both French and Libyan officials said that members of the Islamic State are responsible for the attack. Security forces are now back in control of the oilfield. [Reuters, 2/4/2014]

‘‘All other Islamist factions in Tripoli are targets’’ of IS, Ali Tekbali, HoR member
Tobruk-based House of Representatives member, Ali Tekbali, said that at least some of the recent violence in Tripoli is attributable to the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). He also said that ISIS targeted other factions in Tripoli, demanding allegiance from all people. The Libyan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Aref Ali Nayed has warned that the rise of the Tripoli-based Libya Dawn government headed by Omar al-Hassi has opened the door to Libya becoming as a base for global terrorism. He said that Libya cannot be treated as an isolated case and that ISIS poses a risk to everyone in the region and Europe. [Libya Herald, 2/4/2014]

Beida court rules against Supreme Court decision on HoR
A court based in Beida issued a judgment nullifying the Supreme Court ruling from November 2014, which said that the Tobruk-based House of Representatives meetings were against the constitutional declaration. The new ruling from the Beida court implies that the House sessions are legitimate. The November ruling was opposed by the House, which said that the Supreme Court came under pressure from the Libya Dawn militia. It is unclear whether the Beida court has the authority to overrule the Supreme Court decision, but the city is already under the auspices of the Tobruk-based House government. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 2/5/2014]

Tunisian parliament approves secular-Islamist coalition government
Tunisia’s parliament approved the coalition government comprised of secular, Islamist, and smaller parties. The government passed with 166 of a possible 217 members of parliament voting yes. The new coalition includes the two largest parties in the parliament, the secular Nidaa Tounes and the Islamist Ennahda. Prime Minister Habib Essid said that combating extremism and strengthening Tunisia’s security capabilities to protect the democratic transition would be the top priority. [Reuters, 2/5/2015]

PM-Designate to set up national committees in charge of major reforms
Prime Minister Habib Essid stated the need to create national committees in charge of major reforms for Tunisia. These committees will include of experts, representatives from political parties, and civil society members. Essid said that the committees would handle education, training, health, social welfare, subsidization, sustainable development, and culture. He also expressed the need to establish targets that will be attained gradually regarding the production and distribution of products for general consumption. [All Africa, 2/4/2015]


Jordan launches new airstrikes after vowing harsh war on ISIS
Jordanian fighter jets have carried out new airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), the Jordanian military said Thursday, a day after the country’s king vowed to wage a “harsh” and “relentless” war against the militant group. The army statement did not say which country was targeted but until now, Jordanian warplanes are only known to have carried out raids in Syria. Independent reports claimed the raids were carried out in Iraq, killing fifty-five militants including a top ISIS commander. In Washington, US officials have called for increased US military assistance to the kingdom. In related news, the United States and Jordan signed a $3b aid agreement on Tuesday designed to address Jordan’s short-term, extraordinary needs, including those related to regional instability and rising energy costs. [AP, 2/5/2015]

United Nations says ISIS selling, crucifying, burying children alive in Iraq
Militants from ISIS are selling abducted Iraqi children at markets as sex slaves, and killing other youth, including by crucifixion or burying them alive, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said on Wednesday. According to the Committee, the militant group increasingly uses Iraqi boys under eighteen as suicide bombers, bomb makers, informants, or human shields to protect facilities against US-led air strikes. The eighteen independent experts who worked on the report called on Iraqi authorities to take all necessary measures to “rescue children” under the control of ISIS and to prosecute perpetrators of crimes. [Reuters, al-Akhbar English, 2/4/2015]

Iraqi prime minister orders end to Baghdad curfew
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an end to the nightly curfew that has been in force in Baghdad for years. Lifting the curfew is a major change to a longstanding policy aimed at curbing violence in the capital by limiting movement at night. The decision to lift the curfew comes as Iraqi forces battle to regain ground from ISIS and the Iraqi government is in the process of establishing a national guard aimed at gaining support from the country’s Sunni minority and reducing sectarian rifts. [AP, BBC, 2/5/2015]

Deadly Damascus rocket attacks after Jaish al-Islam warning; airstrikes in Rif Dimashq kill forty-five
Rocket attacks killed three people in Damascus and wounded at least thirty-five on Thursday, SANA said, in what appeared to be the second heavy bombardment by the Islamist group Jaish al-Islam in less than two weeks. State television said three missiles hit areas around the Umayyad Mosque located in the capital’s Old City. The attacks come two days after Jaish al-Islam leader in Douma Zahran Aloush declared all of Damascus a military zone. The regime responded to the attacks with airstrikes in rebel-held Rif Dimashq cities killing at least forty-five, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [Retuers, AFP, 2/5/2015]

US officials confirm suspension of UAE combat missions
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), a member of the US-led coalition against ISIS, stopped flying combat missions over Syria late last year after a Jordanian pilot was captured in December, US officials said Wednesday. The UAE dropped out of the group of countries conducting airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria after the capture, but has remained involved in noncombat roles. [AFP, AP, 2/4/2015]


Parties in Yemen strike deal; Presidential council formed
Most Yemeni factions have agreed to set up an interim presidential council to manage the country for up to one year. Delegates said that nine parties and groups, including a faction from the southern separatist Herak group, agreed during negotiations in Sana’a on a five-member presidential council that will be headed by Ali Nasser Mohammed, a former president of South Yemen before the 1990 merger with north Yemen. [Reuters, Asharq al-Awsat, Al Masdar, 2/5/2015]

Suicide bombing targets military base
A suicide car bomber targeted a military base in central Yemen, killing at least five troops. Wednesday’s bombing struck the gates of the base in the province of Bayda, which has seen fierce clashes between Houthi rebels and al-Qaeda militants allied with Sunni tribesmen. The officials say that elsewhere in Bayda, a senior Houthi member was killed. [AP, 2/5/2015]

Top al-Qaeda leader killed in drone strike
The Yemeni arm of al-Qaeda said on Thursday that one of its leading members had been killed by a US air strike while traveling in a car in the southern province of Shabwa on Jan. 31. Three other al-Qaeda fighters were also killed in the strike, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said in statement posted on Twitter. [AFP, Reuters, Al Masdar, 2/5/2015]

Protests by Yemen’s state media escalate
After two months without pay, public sector media employees protested in front of the Central Bank of Yemen (CBY) on Tuesday morning to demand their salaries. Around one hundred protesters gathered in front of the CBY after the bank’s governor refused to release funds for public media employees’ salaries. The Houthis seized the bank in December and took control of state media earlier this year. The governor’s refusal came in spite of an official memorandum from the General Television and Radio Corporation demanding and pressure from the Ministry of Finance. [Yemen Times, 2/4/2015]

Qatar’s embattled Brotherhood exiles see hope in new Saudi king
The accession of King Salman in Saudi Arabia has caused glimmers of hope among Muslim Brotherhood exiles in Qatar that the Middle East’s political winds have started to shift in their favor, potentially giving the Islamist group more space to act. King Salman is more sympathetic to religious conservatives than his predecessor Abdullah and is seen as less hostile to the group, but analysts and diplomats in Riyadh say any adjustment to Saudi policy towards the Brotherhood is likely to be minimal. [Reuters, 2/5/2015]


Jordan, US sign $3 billion aid program
The Jordanian government signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States government during King Abdullah II’s visit to Washington. In the MoU, the United States offers, within its annual support program to the Jordan, aid worth $1 billion annually in economic, development, and military fields. The previous US aid package amounted to $600 million annually. [Zawya, 2/4/2015]

Egypt’s foreign reserves rise to $15.43 billion
According to the Egyptian central bank, Egypt’s foreign currency reserves rose to $15.43 billion at the end of January from $15.33 billion the previous month. In November, Egypt repaid to Qatar a $2.5 billion central bank deposit received under Morsi, which some traders had warned could have an impact on reserve levels. [Reuters, 2/5/2015]

Fuel smuggling in Libya costs LD200-400 million per month
The Tripoli oil ministry has provided an estimate on the cost of fuel smuggling, and also says it is disrupting fuel supplies to petrol stations and exacerbating shortages. The ministry said that between one to two million litres of fuel were being smuggled out of Libya daily, costing the state between LD200 million ($160m) to LD400 million ($320m) each month. Libyan officials have long spoken of reducing subsidies on fuel, which drive down the market price and ensure smugglers can profit from selling to neighbouring countries. [Libya Monitor, 2/5/2015]