Top News: Rocket Ignites Blaze Near Tripoli Airport, Libya In Chaos
As inter-militia clashes continue, a rocket struck a fuel storage tank near the main airport in Tripoli, setting off a huge conflagration that firefighters are struggling to extinguish.


Eid prayer sermons echo Egypt politics
Egyptians performed Eid prayer on Monday in mosques and public spaces set by the ministry of endowments. Most of the prayer sermons reflected the political tension in the country. “Islam is innocent from those who kill our sons stationed on the borders,” the Religious Endowments Minister said in a prayer sermon attended by the country’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, referring the the rise of attacks against security forces in North Sinai. The ministry warned against using mosques for political propaganda during prayer, adding that it will take strict measures against those who violate these instructions. The government set around 3,000 places for prayer and warned against using the spaces for any political campaigning. A statement by the ministry of endowments also said that all sermons must be under its full supervision. [Aswat Masriya, 7/28/2014]

Attack downs electricity pylon in Nile Delta
Unknown assailants have blown up an electricity pylon in Qalyubiya governorate, north of Cairo. The attack, late on Saturday, is the latest in a series of similar incidents, an electricity ministry spokesman said. The explosion damaged the trestles of the 500kv tower, causing it to collapse, spokesperson Mohamed Yamany said, without elaborating on how the incident took place. Repairs should take between four to six weeks and cost EGP3 million ($420,000) with necessary diversions being carried out to prevent power shortages in affected areas. The explosion is the seventh in two weeks, according to Ahmed Hanafy, head of the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company. [Ahram Online, 7/27/2014]

Egyptians killed in Tripoli rocket attack
Twenty-three Egyptian workers were killed in a rocket attack on Saturday in Tripoli, where militia rivalries are intensifying, state news agency MENA reported. A Grad rocket was fired at the farm home of the Egyptian workers in Tripoli’s western Karimiya region, killing them all, Alaa Hadoura, head of the Egyptian community in Libya, told MENA. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry condemned the killings, and urged citizens to avoid traveling to Libya. The Egyptian government also called on Libyan authorities to quickly investigate the “atrocious” incident and notify it with the identities of those responsible. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 7/28/2014]

World Bank project to cut Egypt’s energy subsidies by $301.5 million
Egypt’s government looks set to save $301.5 million annually in subsidies by connecting 1.5 million households to the natural gas grid. The World Bank, which approved a $500 million loan to fund the Egypt Household Natural Gas Connection Project, said in a statement published on Thursday that the project would reduce costs for households and lower the government’s bill. [Ahram Online, 7/25/2014]


Rocket ignites blaze near Tripoli airport, Libya in chaos
As inter-militia clashes continue, a rocket struck a fuel storage tank near the main airport in Tripoli, setting off a huge conflagration that firefighters are struggling to extinguish. At least thirty-six people were killed in Benghazi, many of them civilians, in clashes between special forces and Islamist militants over the weekend, according to sources. Another twenty-three people, all Egyptian workers, were killed in Tripoli when a rocket hit their home on Saturday during inter-militia clashes. The International Criminal Court has warned that those responsible for violence against civilians in the fighting could face prosecution. [Reuters, 7/27/2014]

US evacuates Libya embassy after militia violence
With violence escalating, the United States evacuated its embassy in Libya on Saturday, driving diplomats across the border into Tunisia under heavy military escort. According to a statement, embassy staff will return to Tripoli once it is deemed safe, but until then operations will be conducted from Washington and elsewhere in the region. A British embassy convoy en route to Tunisia was hit during an attempted hijacking, but no one was injured. France called on its nationals to leave Libya, and the German, Dutch, and Austrian embassies have temporarily closed and relocated staff. The various special envoys for Libya have called for an immediate ceasefire. [Reuters, 7/26/2014]

Power, water, fuel, and internet cuts plague Tripoli and Benghazi
Tripoli has been plunged into long hours of darkness after a gas power station was damaged by the fighting. Benghazi is also experiencing long hours of power cuts, where fighting has damaged electricity infrastructure. Loss of electricity at a power station has resulted in loss of water supply to almost all of Tripoli, and internet service is widely disrupted. Meanwhile, most petrol stations are not operating, either awaiting protection from security forces or because no fuel has been able to be delivered due to continued violence. Hundreds of protesters in Tripoli have demanded an end to the fighting, as well as the release of one of the demonstration organizers who was abducted in front of his home. [Libya Herald, 7/27/2014]

Over fifty House of Representatives members meet in Tripoli
Fifty members of the House of Representatives held an unofficial consultative meeting in Tripoli. For security reasons the meeting and location were not publicized, according to a source. The main objective was to discuss logistics and mechanics of the official handover between the outgoing General National Congress and the newly elected parliament, scheduled for August 4 in Benghazi, in light of the escalating violence. The source confirmed, without revealing details, that negotiations for a ceasefire are underway. Meanwhile, new parliament members have also stated that, once they are formally in session, they will ban all military organizations not under the government’s direct control. [Libya Herald, 7/27/2014]


Assad supporters aghast at losses to ISIS
Supporters of the regime have been aghast at news that hundreds of regime soldiers and paramilitaries were killed in battles with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS also known as IS). Losses in three different provinces over the last ten days included at the Shaar gas field in rural Homs, the Regiment 121 post in rural Hassakeh, and the Division 17 military base outside of Raqqa (attacks in which several soldiers and a colonel were decapitated). The regime had been stepping up its aerial attacks on ISIS positions in Raqqa before the recent confrontations on the ground, but anti-regime activists who strongly object to the presence of ISIS in the Syrian uprising complained that the strikes did more damage to civilians than to the hardline militant group. [Daily Star, 7/28/2014]

ISIS retreats from Homs gas field
The Syrian army said on Sunday it recaptured the Shaar gas field east of the central city of Homs that was seized by ISIS fighters earlier this month. However, a source from ISIS said the fighters pulled out after destroying the field’s equipment and capturing at least fifteen tanks and dozens of rockets, which were used to guard the field. “We pulled out because it was no longer good for us to stay. The goal was to get the tanks and rockets present at the field and we did,” he said. “There is no point in staying there and become an easy target for the regime and its warplanes.” [Reuters, 7/27/2014]

Six children among fifteen dead in Aleppo bombing
Six children were among at least fifteen civilians killed in overnight bomb attacks by government and rebel forces in the divided city of Aleppo, a monitoring group said Monday. “At least nine civilians, three of them children, were killed in barrel bombs,” dropped by regime aircraft in an eastern district, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Six more civilians, including three children and a woman, were killed in mortar shelling by rebels of the government-held district of Jabiriyeh. [AFP, 7/28/2014]


Militants kill two Tunisian soldiers near Algerian border
At least two Tunisian soldiers were killed and several others wounded on Saturday when Islamist militants attacked a checkpoint in a remote area of Kef region near the Algerian border, the second attack on an outpost in less than two weeks. Army spokesman Lamjed Hamami said that the operation was still under way. Hamami was unable to say who the attackers were. [Reuters, Al Arabiya, 7/26/2014]

Series of arrests in Tunisian terrorism cases
Eight individuals involved in cases related to terrorism were arrested Sunday in the Governorate of Sidi Bouzid during a joint security and military operation. Spokesperson of Ansar al-Sharia, Seifeddine Erraies, was arrested on Saturday at dawn. Erraies is involved in networks responsible for sending Tunisian Jihadists to Syria. Tunisian National Guard members arrested the head of Ansar al-Sharia in Mahdia, Mohamed Anis Chaieb on July 24. The National Guard also arrested five individuals who have ties with a dormant terrorist cell in Mahdia. On Thursday, the interior ministry announced that fifty-two terrorism suspects had been arrested in one day. [TAP, Magharebia, 7/28/2014]

NCA defers discussion of supplementary finance bill 2014 until after Eid al-Fitr
The discussion of the supplementary finance bill 2014 was postponed until after Eid al-Fitr. Vice-President of the Finance, Planning, and Development Commission at the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Moez Belhaj Rhouma has not given a specific date for the resumption of the discussion of the finance bill. The postponement is due to the absence of deputies, over half of whom missed the second plenary session held Thursday (110 absent out of 217). [TAP, 7/25/2014]

Mustapha Ben Jaafar will resign from NCA Presidency
Official Spokesperson of Ettakatol Party Mohamed Bennour confirmed Saturday night the information shared by Tunisia’s media on the resignation of Mustapha Ben Jaafar from the Presidency of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), though he denied the date reported by the media, September 1. Ben Jaafar has not yet confirmed the date of his resignation. [TAP, 7/27/2014]


Eid prayer unites Yemen’s political rivals
Eid prayer brought together the current and former Yemeni presidents for the first time since the 2011 uprising that ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Hours after his call for reconciliation and national unity in his speech, President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi along with Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and several senior political leaders performed Eid al-Fitr prayer inside el-Saleh Mosque in Sana’a on Monday. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/28/2014]

President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi receives G10 ambassadors
President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi received the group of ten (G10) countries ambassadors. During the meeting, President Hadi raised concern over the growing presence of regional powers aiming to impede the transitional process in Yemen. In their response to his concerns, the ambassadors affirmed their countries’ support of him and their determination to support Yemen’s transitional phase. [Saba, 7/27/2014]

Yemen car bombs kill soldiers
Two soldiers and ten jihadists were killed on Sunday as dozens of suspected al-Qaeda militants attacked three army posts in Abyan. Two car bombs exploded before reaching their targets, while a third went off at a base. Two soldiers were killed and eleven wounded, while ten assailants died in subsequent gunfights. [Al Arabiya, 7/27/2014]

Negotiations between the presidential commission and Houthi rebels remain underway
Things seemed to calm down in Jawf after a number of clashes took place between Jawf residents and Houthi rebels over the weekend. The presidential commission is still studying ways to reach effective solutions to stop the fighting and to reach a ceasefire agreement with the rebels. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 7/27/2014]


Violence marks the first day of Eid in Iraq
Iraqi police on Monday found the corpses of fifteen people, including three women shot in the head in a militia-style killings. The dead bodies mark the first day of Eid, a holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The growing violence in Iraq comes as the Obama administration authorized an additional sixty-two advisers to be sent to the country, according to defense officials. [Reuters, 7/28/2014]

UAE strengthens counterterror laws
The United Arab Emirates Federal National Council has approved a revised draft of its ten-year-old counterterrorism law that will respond to evolving threats. Anyone convicted under them will face capital punishment, life imprisonment, or fines of up to twenty-seven million dollars. The bill will also make the withholding of information relating to any terrorist activity, a crime punishable by up to ten years in jail. [Defense One, 7/28/2014]

China says it may have citizens fighting in Iraq
China’s special envoy for the Middle East said on Monday that Muslim extremists from China’s far western region of Xinjiang have gone to the Middle East for training and some may have crossed into Iraq. The special envoy declared that China is extremely worried about the role of extremist groups in the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Separately, gunmen wearing army uniforms who seized a senior local official and prominent member of a Sunni Islamist party on Friday have released him, an official said late on Saturday. [Al Arabiya, 7/28/2014]