Top News: President Erdogan’s Governing Party in Turkey Loses Parliamentary Majority

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its Parliamentary majority in the election on Sunday. The results were a setback for President Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power in his first year as President, and who had pushed for control over the judiciary and cracked down on criticism during the decade he served as Prime Minister. The vote was also a significant victory for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), supported by Turkey’s Kurdish minority and secular Turks, which crossed the ten percent threshold required to enter Parliament. President Erdogan will meet with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu later today to discuss Sunday’s election results and the formation of a coalition.[NYTAl-Arabiya, 6/7/2015]



Egypt’s Sisi admonishes police, government on anniversary
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reproached police and criticized his government on Sunday, a year after he took office, after critics accused him of allowing human rights abuses to flourish and doing little to boost jobs. At an event to launch army-backed infrastructure projects, Sisi said “I apologize to every Egyptian citizen who has been subjected to any abuse. I am accountable for anything that happens to an Egyptian citizen.” But he presented no clear plan for addressing the problems.  The presidential office also issued a report Sunday evening in which it listed twenty-four activities as achievements. Meanwhile, a poll by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) showed that Sisi’s approval rating is at an all-time high of 90 percent. The percentage at the end of the first year increased to 59 percent among those aged less than thirty, and increased to 80 percent among those aged fifty or above, Baseera said. [Reuters, DNE, AP, Cairo Post, 6/8/2015]

Egypt arrests three April 6 members for incitement of civil disobedience
Egypt’s Beheira prosecution ordered on Saturday the detention of three members of the banned April 6 Youth Movement pending trial on charges of possessing flyers that call for civil disobedience on June 11. The three April 6 members were arrested in Abu al-Matameer district in Beheira governorate. A number of April 6 activists were arrested last week including Alexandrian activist Dalia Radwan, who was charged with membership in a banned group, but was later released on a 5000 Egyptian pounds bail. Last week, 63-year-old Hassan Mubarak was also arrested and charged with belonging to the banned April 6 Movement. Prosecutors ordered him detained for fifteen days pending investigations. [Ahram Online, 6/6/2015]

Report shows 163 cases of forced disappearance since April
Several activists who were allegedly abducted by security forces and illegally detained over the past few weeks faced the prosecutor on Friday. These incidents have largely targeted members of the April 6 Youth Movement, leading some to speculate that the crackdown is in response to the group’s call for a general strike on June 11 to protest the deteriorating economic conditions and political climate of the past two years. Lawyers have documented dozens of forced disappearances recently, a phenomenon that they say marks a new phase in the Interior Ministry’s unconstitutional crackdown on activists. A report compiled by the Freedom for the Brave campaign documented 132 cases, with an additional thirty-one cases reported but with no documentation, to reach a total of 163 cases in almost two months. The report cited sixty-six cases of ongoing forced disappearances, where the whereabouts of those subject to disappearance remains unknown. The campaign’s report also documented sixty-four “finished” cases, with the detainees’ whereabouts eventually confirmed. The report also mentioned forced disappearance cases that ended with deaths of the disappeared. [DNE, Mada Masr, 6/8/2015]

Cairo court overturns verdict designating Hamas a terrorist organization
The Cairo Appeal Court for Urgent Matters overturned Saturday the ruling that a lower court had issued on February 28, 2015 designating the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas a terrorist organization. The February court decision was appealed by the State Litigation Authority, which represents the Egyptian government. The decision was made due to the court’s lack of jurisdiction on the matter. Judicial sources said the decision signals a possible easing of pressure on the Gaza Strip’s ruling faction. Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, welcomed the court’s ruling, saying it would have “positive consequences on the relationship between Hamas and Egypt.” Prior to the initial ruling, the Abdeen Court for Urgent Matters had accused the group of carrying out terrorist attacks in Egypt and using tunnels between Gaza and Egypt to smuggle arms and funds, with the aim of terrorizing people and targeting military and police forces. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, AP,  Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Cairo Post, 6/8/2015]

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Warring Libyan factions in ‘decisive’ UN talks; Mediterranean foreign ministers call for stability Libya’s warring factions meet for a new round of “decisive” talks today, with the United Nations scrambling to strike a peace deal before the start of Ramadan next week. The talks, being held in the Moroccan seaside resort town of Skhirat, will focus on a new draft of a political agreement to end the conflict. Foreign ministers from Algeria, Egypt, and Italy called for a peaceful political solution to the crisis in Libya on Sunday, saying that stability in the war-torn country would reduce illegal migration to Europe. Egypt has been insisting that the UN arms embargo on Libya be lifted, but there was no mention of it in the final press conference following the tripartite meeting. [AFP, AP, Libya Herald, 6/9/2015]

Participating and boycotting parliament members agree fighting IS top priority
Both participating and boycotting members of Libya’s House of Representatives (House) have jointly given their full support to the UN-brokered negotiations, saying that the threat from the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) is much more important than their own divisions. In a statement issued south of Tripoli following their meeting on Friday, the two groups also called for national reconciliation, for the release of all hostages, and for all displaced people to be allowed to return to their homes. Meanwhile, in an ambush on Wednesday, IS terrorists seized more than eighty Eritrean Christians near Oum Walid. [Libya Herald, 6/7/2015]

More than 2,000 migrants rescued in Mediterranean, operations ongoing

More than 2,000 migrants were rescued from five wooden boats in the Mediterranean on Saturday and as many as seven other vessels have been reported at sea, according to the privately funded Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and Italy’s coastguard. The latter said about a dozen different migrant boats had been reported and rescue operations were ongoing. Smugglers have been taking advantage of the growing lawlessness in Libya, making an average of $89,000 from each boatload of migrants, according to an ongoing investigation by an Italian court. [Reuters, 6/6/2015]

Human rights group say Tunisia facing torture ‘epidemic’

Human Rights activists say Tunisia is facing a torture ‘epidemic’ and risks once again becoming a police state. The Tunisian Organization Against Torture (OCTT) is currently investigating around seventy torture cases filed in 2015, twenty-three of which were submitted in the past month alone.  OCTT chief Mondher Cherni has harshly criticized authorities for their “reluctance” to investigate torture claims adequately, saying “police themselves are beyond investigation and above conviction.” The comments come just weeks after a Sidi Bouzid laborer died after being detained overnight at a National Guard barracks. His family reject official claims that he committed suicide, and authorities have not opened an impartial investigation into the matter. [Tunisia Live, 6/5/2015]

Tunisian PM emphasizes need to multiply efforts to take on economic and political challenges
Prime Minister Habib Essid underscored the need to multiply efforts and coordinate programs to tackle economic and political challenges. Delivering remarks in Rome at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s 29th session, Essid emphasized the need to create a mechanism to increase assistance from donor countries to the farming sector in the developing countries. Essid emphasized Tunisia’s aim to boost cooperation to achieve the international community’s development goals, including fighting poverty, adding that toward this end Tunisia placed particular interest in its development policy on the agricultural sector and food security. [TAP/All Africa, 6/7/2015]


President Erdogan’s governing party in Turkey loses Parliamentary majority
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its Parliamentary majority in the election on Sunday. The results were a setback for President Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power in his first year as President, and who had pushed for control over the judiciary and cracked down on criticism during the decade he served as Prime Minister. The vote was also a significant victory for the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), supported by Turkey’s Kurdish minority and secular Turks, which crossed the ten percent threshold required to enter Parliament. President Erdogan will meet with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu later today to discuss Sunday’s election results and the formation of a coalition.[NYT, Al-Arabiya, 6/7/2015]

Syrian dissidents meet to forge new opposition alliance
Syrian opposition representatives met in Cairo Monday in a bid to forge a new, broader alliance against President Bashar al-Assad’s government and agree on a roadmap for ending the conflict. The new grouping would offer an alternative to the Syrian National Coalition, the exiled opposition bloc that is widely recognized and supported by Arab and Western governments. Organizers promised that the new alliance would be ready to hold talks with representatives of the Syrian government on the formation of a transitional government. [AFP, 6/8/2015]

Iraqi forces advance against ISIS in strategic northern town
Iraqi forces on Sunday advanced against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Baiji, a strategic town on the road to ISIS-held Mosul and located near the country’s largest oil refinery. Baiji has been a contested area between ISIS and Iraqi forces over the past year. Iraqi forces were said to be shelling “terrorists hideouts” in the town with mortar rounds, and claim to be in control of the city center and “advancing toward the northern neighborhoods of the town.” In related news, the United States and its allies carried out twenty-two air strikes against ISIS during a twenty-four hour campaign this weekend, targeting ISIS fighters, vehicles, and weapons near Syria’s northern city of Kobani and hitting targets near five different cities in Iraq. [AFP, 6/7/2015]

Activists say twenty dead in regime air raid in Idlib province
At least forty civilians, including children, were killed on Monday in Syrian government air strikes in al-Janoudiyeh, a village in northwestern Syria’s Idlib province, which is now almost completely controlled by opposition forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the air raid struck a public square in the village which has become home to many displaced people from nearby areas. In related news, Syria’s Prime Minister has called on young Syrians to fulfill their mandatory military service obligation, promising better pay for troops on the front lines, and saying in a Parliamentary session that “we must unite more than ever in backing our army.” In a press statement issued on Friday after a closed-door briefing on the upsurge of violence in Aleppo, the UN Security Council expressed outrage at government attacks against civilians in Syria, and also condemned increasing terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS, the Nusra Front, and other al-Qaeda affiliated groups and individuals. [AFP, AP, 6/8/2015]


Saudi Arabia shoots down missile fired from Yemen
Saudi Arabia shot down a Scud ballistic missile fired from Yemen early Saturday by Houthi forces. It was the first time Yemeni factions had used the weapon, signaling an escalation of the conflict and providing new evidence that a Saudi effort to pacify the rebels is faltering. The missile was fired from northern Yemen toward the city of Khamis Mushayt, and was intercepted by two Saudi Patriot missiles. The missile firing came a day after Saudi airstrikes in northern Yemen killed at least fifty people. The sudden appearance of the Scuds undermined repeated claims by the Saudis that they had destroyed the Houthis’ stocks of heavy and ballistic weapons with hundreds of airstrikes targeting military bases and weapons stores. It also raised new questions about the effectiveness of the open-ended Saudi offensive. [NY Times, Yemen Post, Yemen Times, 6/7/2015]

From Riyadh, Hadi appoints new government officials
On Saturday Yemen’s President Abdrabo Mansour Hadi appointed Fadl Hassan al-Jadai as the new governor of the city of Dhali. He also appointed Ali Moqbil Saleh as the chief for the 33rd military brigade in the city. The former commander of this brigade was loyal to Saleh and had been backing the Houthis and attacking civilians. The appointments came after the pro-government forces drove the Houthi militants and forces loyal to the former president out of Dhali. [Yemen Post, 6/6/2015]

Saudi-led air strikes target Houthi army base
Saudi-led air strikes before dawn Sunday targeted the headquarters of Yemen’s armed forces in Sana’a, leaving at least forty-four dead and 180 injured, according to the ministry of health. Local sources reported more than fifteen strikes on military sites in Mount Attan southwest of Sana’a and a military camp in the Bani Hushaish area southeast of Sana’a. Officials said the dead were mostly soldiers and that the airstrikes damaged several nearby homes. Residents further revealed that at least three airstrikes hit the headquarters, a short distance from the city’s center. Sunday’s airstrikes came a day after the Houthis fired a Scud missile into Saudi Arabia. [AP, Gulf News, Yemen Times, 6/7/15]

Yemen’s exiled president plays down coming peace talks
Yemen’s exiled President Abdrabo Mansour Hadi has played down next week’s talks in Geneva between his country’s warring parties, saying  in an interview, “These are not talks, it is only a discussion to implement UN Security Council resolution 2216, how to implement it on the ground.” He denied the UN-sponsored meeting due to start on June 14 was aimed at wider reconciliation or finding a political compromise to end the conflict. Hadi also repeated accusations that Iran was systematically interfering in his country’s affairs by backing the Houthis. “What Iran does at (my country) is more dangerous than al Qaeda,” Hadi stated. [Reuters, al Arabiya, 6/8/2015]

Houthis make list of demands for Geneva talks
Yemen’s Houthi movement could push for President Abdrabo Mansour Hadi to step down at the forthcoming Geneva peace talks, a senior political figure said. The UN-sponsored Geneva talks will bring Yemen’s legitimate government, the Houthi rebels and the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC), which backs former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as other Yemeni political factions to the negotiating table to resolve the ongoing political and security crisis in the country. The Yemeni political source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the Houthis and GPC are expected to put forward a list of joint demands at the meeting. A GPC revealed, regarding the mutual interests of his party and the Houthis, “There is a great convergence in views between the two sides. The recent developments have unified our positions.” [Asharq Al-Awsat, June 6, 2015]


African officials gather in Egypt to talk mega trade pact
Senior officials of three African economic blocs met in Egypt on Sunday to start hammering out details of a free trade agreement. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) is to be launched at a summit of heads of state and government on Wednesday in Sharm al-Sheikh. The deal between the East African Community, Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa will create a market of twenty-six countries. The deal gives Egypt free trade access to seven new African nations. “The agreement will bolster Egypt’s status internationally and strategically,” Egypt’s Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour said. Egypt expects to see its exports to African countries rise by 100 percent in three years to $5 billion, compared to $2.7 billion in 2013. Abdel-Nour added that Egypt has agreed with the African Development Bank to provide credit facilities worth $500 million to Egyptian exporters to support Cairo’s trade deals with Africa. [Reuters, AFP, Ahram Online,  6/7/2015]

IMF agrees on $833 million loan to Iraq
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached an agreement on Friday with Iraq for a $833 million loan program to help the country with its finances and increase investor confidence. The program, which must still be reviewed by the IMF’s board next month, would help Iraq cope with a plunge in oil prices and violence tied to the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) insurgency. The IMF said the Iraqi economy contracted 2.1 percent in 2014 due largely to violence, and may grow only 0.5 percent this year. [Reuters, The Guardian, 6/6/2015]

Official government says Libyan central bank now based in eastern headquarters
Libya’s internationally recognized government says the central bank’s headquarters have moved to the eastern city of Bayda, but it remains unclear how the bank will control and process payments with its staff and computers still in Tripoli. The official government is struggling for control of the state institutions with the rival administration in Tripoli. It also had plans to route oil revenues through the east to bypass rivals in Tripoli, but foreign buyers are still paying for oil through the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Meanwhile, the NOC said it is delivering petrol to a western region opposing the Tripoli government, in a bid to showcase its impartiality. [Reuters, 6/5/2015]

Tunisia’s Prime Minister discusses energy issues
Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid addressed Tunisia’s energy concerns, in particular the country’s natural resources, saying that the government is transparent on energy issues. Following a hearing session on the government’s performance one hundred days after taking office, Essid said any cases of corruption will be held accountable. A hearing will also take place to submit requested information on energy issues and review the state of the country’s natural resources. Essid added that the issue of rising prices is among the government’s priorities, and noted that the inflation rate has decreased from 5.7 percent to 5.3 percent. [TAP/All Africa, 6/6/2015]