The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) accused Houthi rebels of staging a coup in Yemen after they announced they were dissolving parliament and forming a new government.

The GCC is not alone in rejecting the Houthi movement. Parties from across Yemen’s political spectrum declined to support the Houthis’ moves. Islah, the country’s main opposition party, said the measures amounted to a unilateral “coup” and called for them to be canceled. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh also rejected the Houthi’s power grab this weekend calling the move “unconstitutional.” [ReutersAl MasdarNYT, 2/9/2015]



At least twenty-two Zamalek fans killed in clashes with Egyptian police
At least twenty-two fans were killed in violence between security forces and Zamalek supporters according to Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. The club’s hardcore Ultras White Knights (UWK) fan group claimed the number of victims is twenty-eight, while on Monday morning, east Cairo prosecution said the death toll was nineteen. The ministry of interior said large numbers of Zamalek fans attempted to storm the stadium without tickets and attacked stadium facilities. UWK disputed the ministry’s account, saying they were tear-gassed in an enclosed space, issuing a statement Sunday night describing the incident as a “plotted massacre.” The Nasr City prosecutor said initial investigations revealed that a stampede among Ultras White Knights caused the deaths. Interior Ministry Spokesperson Hany Abdel Latif and Cabinet Spokesperson Hossam Qaweesh absolved security officers of wrongdoing. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, AP, 2/9/2015]

More parties announced boycott of elections as registration begins
The Salafi Watan Party, liberal Dostour Party, and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party have declared that they will boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are expected to take place next March. The Watan Party, a former member of the Anti-Coup Alliance, said its decision to boycott was due to the suspension of the 2013 constitution and the “annihilation of the democratic path.” The Dostour Party cited “unfavorable circumstances,” in the political climate. Egypt’s Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) decided to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections after a list of its demands, put forth following the killing of member Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, was not met. Ahmed Ezz, steel tycoon and former spokesperson for Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, applied on Sunday for candidacy in the elections, and according to his lawyer, his application has been accepted. [DNE, 2/8/2015]

Egypt sets February 12 retrial date for jailed Al Jazeera journalists
The first retrial session for two Al Jazeera journalists will be held on February 12, judicial sources said on Sunday. Following the announcement, the family one of journalist Mohamed Fahmy issued a statement saying the retrial represents their “worst nightmare.” Canadian authorities also expressed their concern over the announcement. Many believed Fahmy, who recently gave up his Egyptian citizenship, would be deported like Australian Peter Greste. Journalist Baher Mohamed’s wife said he would not give up his Egyptian nationality in an attempt to be freed, as he believes in the integrity of the Egyptian judiciary. Amal Clooney, Fahmy’s lawer in a letter addressed to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has requested a meeting to push for his release. [Ahram Online, Reuters, AP, Mada Masr, 2/8/2015]

Putin visits Egypt in bid to expand influence
Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Egypt on Monday as Moscow looks to expand its reach in the country at a time when Cairo-Washington and Russia-Western ties remain frayed. His two-day trip will be Putin’s first in a decade to Egypt and comes after a 2011 popular uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak, who the Russian leader met in his visit in 2005. Putin is a key non-Arab backer of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and officials say Putin’s trip is intended to strengthen ties between the two countries. Putin is due to arrive in Egypt late Monday but a Russian military delegation arrived earlier today and was received by Egyptian military officials. [The Guardian, AFP, 2/9/2015]

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UN talks set to resume in Libya
According to both the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and the Tripoli-based General National Congress, UN-sponsored talks are set to resume at an undisclosed location in Libya. The talks are set to begin on Tuesday and both governments withheld the location of talks, presumably for security reasons. UN Special Representative Bernardino Leon had previously indicated the talks would resume in Libya this week. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 2/9/2015]

Early end to Benghazi battle may be premature
Heavy fighting continues in Benghazi as Libyan National Army (LNA) forces attempt to push out Ansar al-Sharia and other Islamist fighters. This comes despite the military stating that they cleared 90 percent of the city last week. The fighting has intensified on a number of fronts within the area with the LNA deployed helicopters, tanks, and missiles to dislodge the Islamist forces from the region. However, the military does not know where the battle may end and analysts believe the fight may shift to the periphery of Benghazi where Ansar al-Sharia can regroup and access coastal landing points for reinforcements. [Libya Herald, 2/8/2015]

Tunisia arrests thirty-two militant Islamists planning attacks
Tunisian security forces arrested thirty-two Islamist militants, some of whom were returning fighters from Syria, for planning attacks. The interior ministry said the attacks were intended for the ministry of interior building, security stations, and civilian buildings in Tunis. The arrests were announced one day after the new secular-Islamist coalition government took office. The ministry of interior spokesman also said that security forces killed Tunisian and Algerian militants in the Mount Chaambi region along the Algerian border. [Reuters, 2/7/2015]

Man shot dead by police in Tunisia protest
A man was shot and killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the southern Tunisian town of Dhiba, near the border with Libya, during a protest over the economy. Protests in Dhiba started several days ago due to taxes imposed on local traders, with residents demanding more opportunities and jobs. Witnesses said police fired bullets and teargas to disperse crowds who had burned a police station. [Reuters, 2/8/2015]


Former Syrian rebels partner with Assad forces to fight Islamists near Damascus
Former rebel militiamen who switched sides and joined Syria’s pro-government forces are engaged in a fierce battle against Islamist insurgents near Damascus. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, pro-regime Jaysh al-Wafaa (Army of Loyalty) launched its “fiercest battle yet” on Saturday night against Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) fighters near the rebel-held city of Douma. The Army of Loyalty was formed some three months ago in Eastern Ghouta area south of Douma. The militia’s task is to confront Army of Islam, considered one the best-armed opposition group in the Damascus area. [AFP, al-Akhbar English, 2/9/2015]

US arms arrive in Beirut as date is set for Saudi-French deliveries
A US shipment of military equipment worth $25 million arrived at Beirut’s port on Sunday, as it was announced that the first deliveries of Saudi-funded French weapons to Lebanon would begin in April. The US shipment included howitzers, Humvees, and 26 million rounds of ammunition. The US ambassador to Beirut, David Hale, said the weapons would be used to “defeat the terrorist and extremist threat from Syria.” France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius in a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam confirmed a timeframe for the French weapons delivery. The US shipments comes after Saudi Arabia last year pledged $3 billion to fund purchase of French weapons for the Lebanese army. [The National, Reuters, 2/9/2015]

Iraq’s ground offensive against ISIS to begin within weeks
Iraqi troops will begin a major counter-offensive on the ground “in the weeks ahead” to take back land seized by the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), according to Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS John Allen. Gen. Allen dismissed accusations that there has been a delay in the supply of US weapons and training to Iraqi troops on the frontline of the conflict. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the aerial campaign was beginning to win back territory and deprive ISIS’s key revenue streams. [IB Times, al-Arabiya, Asharq al-Awsat, 2/9/2015]

Syria rejects foreign ground troops to fight ISIS
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Monday that Syria will not allow foreign ground troops on its territory to fight ISIS. Al-Muallem criticized neighboring Jordan and said his country does not need outside help in battling ISIS militants. “The Syrian Arab government is fully capable of fighting ISIS valiantly and we don’t need any other troops.” [AFP, AP, 2/9/2015]


UN-backed talks continue on Monday
Negotiations aimed at resolving the crisis in Yemen are set to resume on Monday and will be brokered by the UN envoy to the country, Jamal Benomar. Both Islah and the Nasserite parties walked out of the negotiations Monday morning. Early on Sunday, the Houthi controlled ministry of the interior outlawed protests unless they receive prior approval. Protests have been raging across the country since the Houthis made their first announcement appointing leaders to the Revolutionary Council’s security committee. As of Monday, the southern provinces of al-Jawf, Marib, and al-Baida have rejected the authority of the Revolutionary Council. [Reuters, Al Masdar, 2/9/2015]

President Hadi announces his resignation is final
Despite calls from the population and the UN envoy to the country, President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi will not withdraw his resignation. During a meeting at the president’s residence, Hadi announced to a group of political figures that the situation in Yemen is too grave to be solved by constitutional mechanisms. In his statement, he urged the country to remain unified and to set aside differences for the good of Yemen’s future.[SABA, 2/9/2015]

Gulf countries call Houthi takeover a coup
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) accused Houthi rebels of staging a coup in Yemen after they announced they were dissolving parliament and forming a new government. The GCC is not alone in rejecting the Houthi movement. Parties from across Yemen’s political spectrum declined to support the Houthis’ moves. Islah, the country’s main opposition party, said the measures amounted to a unilateral “coup” and called for them to be canceled. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh also rejected the Houthi’s power grab this weekend calling the move “unconstitutional.” [Reuters, Al Masdar, NYT, 2/9/2015]

UAE resumes airstrikes on ISIS
A squadron of warplanes from the United Arab Emirates arrived Sunday in Jordan to help the kingdom in its fight against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), state media reported. The F-16 fighter jets were deployed at a Jordanian air base along with UAE pilots and technicians. Following Kasasbeh’s murder, the UAE withdrew from the coalition’s strike missions over fears for the safety of its pilots. [AFP, 2/8/2015]


Oil price decline to lose Yemen $500 million
According to the Yemeni Undersecretary of the Finance Ministry, the Yemeni state budget would have lost $359 million this year if the oil price remained at $65 a barrel. With prices at $50 per barrel, the total loss of Yemen will be nearly $504 million. The government’s share of crude oil is estimated at 38 million barrels in 2015. [SABA, 2/7/2015]

Strike closes Hariga oil port, Libya’s last onshore export terminal
Libya’s Hariga oil port, the country’s last functioning export terminal apart from two offshore fields, has closed due to a strike by security guards. The Hariga closure will decrease Libya’s oil production to less than 300,00 bpd, far below the 1.6 million bpd the country produced before the 2011 uprising. The guards at Hariga complained that they had not received their salaries and closed the port on Saturday. This is not the first strike to occur at Hariga, several others have lasted a week or two. However, given the closure of the major Ras Lanuf and Es Sider ports, it was a vital outlet for the country’s oil sector. [Reuters, Libya Monitor (subscription), 2/9/2015]

Morocco on the road to rebalancing
Following a review of Morocco’s economic performance by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under a two-year Precautionary Liquidity Line (PLL), the IMF said that decisive policy action is helping to rebalance the economy. The PLL was approved in July 2014 in an amount equivalent to Special Drawing Rights (SDR) 3.23 billion ($5 billion), or 550 percent of Morocco’s quota at the IMF. The access under the arrangement in the first year will be equivalent to SDR 2.9 billion ($4.5 billion), rising in the second year to a cumulative $5 billion. [CPI Financial, 2/8/2015]

Tunisian treasury current account balance amounts to 1.752 MTD
According to the Tunisian Central Bank (BCT), the current account balance of the treasury amounted to 1.752 million Tunisian dinars (MTD) in February 4, 2015, against 615 MTD at the end of 2014 and 199 MTD by late 2013. The BCT also noted overall “improvement in bank liquidity even if potential pressures persist given the gloomy national and global economic conditions and the challenges that will be faced by the country (emergency measures to boost investment and recover general financial balances).” [TAP, 2/8/2015]