Top News: Tunisian Election Results Official, Nidaa Tounes Wins Eighty-five Seats

 Tunisian officials confirmed that the results of Sunday’s election are official, and that members of the secular Nidaa Tounes party have won eighty-five of the 217 parliamentary seats. Electoral authorities also said that the Islamist Ennahda party, which conceded victory to Nidaa Tounes on Monday, won sixty-eight seats.



June 30 fact-finding committee shifts blame to all parties
A government commissioned report on the dispersal of pro-Morsi demonstrators in August 2013 is due to be released shortly, alleging criminal responsibility on all sides for the massacre and bloody events that followed, according to a member of investigative committee. The vice president of the committee, Iskandar Ghattas, asserted that this report, along with the findings of an investigation on the Republican Guards, would be on Sisi’s desk shortly, and detailed reports of other incidents would follow in mid-November. Iskandar said the committee has specifically pointed to criminal responsibility on every side for the bloody events, and that its report cannot be compared to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, which he called “a memorandum of accusations against the government.” [Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 10/30/2014]

Sisi calls for ‘prompt compensation’ for Sinai’s evacuees
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has urged authorities to pay North Sinai’s evacuated residents financial compensation promptly. Presidential spokesperson Alaa Seif said Sisi stressed facilitating procedures after criticisms against the Rafah evacuation emerged. Al-Wasat party denounced the government’s operation to evacuate north Sinai residents, calling it “arbitrary actions taken by government authorities against people of Sinai under the pretext of fighting terrorism.” Its statement said this operation violates basic human rights in national and international conventions. Egyptian Social Democratic Party leader, Nour Farahat, also called the Rafah evacuation unconstitutional. [Ahram Online, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 10/30/2014]

Cabinet officially bans pro-Morsi pressure group
Egypt on Thursday banned a pressure group that has pushed for the reinstatement of President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a decree dissolving the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) and Reject the Coup as well as its political arm, the Independence Party, following an earlier court ruling against the organizations. Senior member of the Nour Party, Salah Abdel-Maaboud, welcomed the government’s decision in a statement. He said the NASL is an entity without any legal basis, calling the decision to dissolve the group an “implementation of justice.” On the other hand, NASL said today that people of Sinai are facing a tragic and disastrous situation as the armed forces began forced displacement and the destruction of houses. The group called for a week of protest under the banner “military sells Sinai.” [Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Reuters, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 2014/10/30]

Sinai operation kills thirteen, arrests twenty-eight, evacuates houses
A rapid response force in coordination with the border guard and 2nd Army Battalion began securing the Arish-Sheikh Zuwaid-Rafah triangle in Egypt’s latest push to combat terrorism in northern Sinai. The operation resulted in the deaths of ten jihadists, the arrest of twenty-eight others, and the destruction of three ammunition depots in Sheikh Zuwaid. Security sources said that Apache helicopters launched raids on terrorist strongholds, destroying seven in the area. North Sinai Governor Abdel Fattah Harhour said that home evacuations were being conducted as rapidly as possible and that homeowners would receive compensation unless tunnels were found at the location. Other reports indicate the death of an additional three jihadists and the destruction of six tunnels along the Rafah border. [Ahram (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 10/30/2014]


Libyan army pursues Benghazi terror remnants; Amnesty claims war crimes
Clashes continued in Benghazi onOctober 28 as Libyan troops battled pockets of terrorism. Fighting was concentrated in the Ansar al-Sharia strongholds of al-Sabri, Ras Abeida and al-Laithi. Operation Dignity spokesperson Mohamed al-Hijazi urged citizens to keep away from the clashes, lest the extremist fighters use them as human shields. At least 10 people were killed on Wednesday when rockets struck several residential districts of Libya’s Benghazi city as the army fought with Islamist militias, medics said. Amnesty International says rival militias and armed groups in Libya are committing “mounting war crimes” with impunity. In a new report released Thursday, it accuses fighters of firing GRAD rockets and artillery into civilian neighborhoods and kidnapping in contravention of international law. [Magharebia, Reuters, AP, Amnesty International, 10/30/2014]

Thinni willing to negotiate with armed groups; EU calls for dialogue
Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has directly stated, for the first time, that he is willing to negotiate with armed groups. In an interview with BBC in Khartoum, Thinni said he would negotiate if the groups would agree to disarm and evacuate Tripoli. He also said negotiations would be dependent upon these groups’ willingness to recognize the House of Representatives (HoR) and the legitimacy of his government. The Prime Minister’s announcement is reported to be linked to claims of a split within the HoR over whether or not there should be negotiations with those who oppose them. European Union Ambassador Nataliya Apostolova has called for a “serious and constructive” engagement in the political dialogue launched by the United Nations in Ghadames on September 29 and for support by all parties for the implementation of the commitments made by both delegations at those talks. [Libya Herald, Reuters, 10/29/2014]

UK court says Libyan can sue over rendition
A former Libyan Islamist commander won the legal right to sue Britain for damages over the years of torture he says he suffered at the hands of Muammar Qaddafi’s henchmen after being illegally handed to Libya by British and US spies. The ruling on Thursday by the Court of Appeal in London could open the way for litigation against the British government in similar torture or rendition cases. Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a rebel leader who helped topple Qaddafi in 2011 and is now leader of the Libyan al-Watan Party, says he and his pregnant wife Fatima were abducted by CIA agents in Thailand in 2004 and then transferred to Tripoli with the help of British security officials. [AP, Reuters, 10/30/2014]

Civil Aviation Authority looks to reopen Benghazi airport
The Libyan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which has been ordered to Bayda to be under the closer authority of the Libyan government, is reported be looking to reopen Benina International Airport in Benghazi within three to five weeks. The CAA has said that the military airport resumed operations this past week and that it hoped to again start running civilian passenger and air freight flights out of Benina Airport in the very near future. In Tripoli, plans are underway to upgrade the city’s only serviceable airport at Mitiga, to make it suitable for a greater flow of traffic. [Libya Herald, 10/29/2014]


Reinforcements enter Kobani via Turkey; Damascus slams Ankara over sovereignty
As the first contingents of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers and Syrian rebel fighters crossed through Turkey to enter the beleaguered Syrian town of Kobani on Wednesday, officials in Kobani hailed their arrival, saying they hoped it heralded a more cooperative international effort to fight ISIS jihadists. Syrian Kurdish leaders from Kobani said the small numbers of fighters so far were not enough to turn the tide—just a few dozen Free Syrian Army rebels, followed by about 150 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters bearing badly needed arms and ammunition. But the reinforcements were the first Turkey had allowed to cross through into Syria after weeks of tense diplomacy. And Syrian Kurdish officials in Kobani expressed hope that it meant Turkey and the United States were beginning to resolve their differences over how to fight ISIS. On Thursday, Syria accused Turkey of a “flagrant violation” of its sovereignty. [NYT, 10/30/2014]

Barrel bombs hit displaced camp in Idlib, killing at least ten
An army helicopter dropped two barrel bombs on the Abedin displaced persons camp in the northern province of Idlib, camp residents said on Wednesday. Footage posted online showed bodies lying among olive tree branches littered with shreds of white canvas from tents that had been ripped apart by the bombs. “It’s a massacre of refugees,” a voice off camera said. The attack killed at least ten people and wounded dozens more in the camp near Habeet. The United States said Wednesday it was “horrified,” calling the attack “barbaric.” Most of the people in the camp had fled fighting in the central province of Hama. [Reuters, The Guardian, 10/30/2014]

United States “horrified” by regime attack on displaced camp in Iblib
The United States said Wednesday it was “horrified” by reports the Syrian government dropped barrel bombs on the Abedin displaced persons camp in the northwestern province of Idlib, calling the attack “barbaric.” The attack killed at least ten people and wounded dozens more in the camp near Habeet. Video posted online by activists showed bodies lying among olive tree branches littered with shreds of white canvas from tents that had been ripped apart by the bombs. Most of the people in the camp had fled fighting in the central province of Hama. [Naharnet, 10/30/2014]

Australia passes laws cracking down on foreign fighters
Australia passed laws on Thursday aimed at preventing young people from becoming radicalized and going to fight in overseas conflicts such as those in Iraq and Syria, where scores of Australians have joined militant groups. Last month, the United Nations demanded that all states make it a serious criminal offence for their citizens to travel abroad to fight with militant groups, or to recruit and fund others to do so, in a move sparked by the rise of ISIS. [Reuters, Bloomberg, 10/30/2014]


Tunisian election results official, Nidaa Tounes wins eighty-five seats
Tunisian officials confirmed that the results of Sunday’s election are official, and that members of the secular Nidaa Tounes party have won eighty-five of the 217 parliamentary seats. Electoral authorities also said that the Islamist Ennahda party, which conceded victory to Nidaa Tounes on Monday, won sixty-eight seats. Nidaa Tounes officials have said that they will likely seek to form a coalition government with like-minded political parties, and it is unclear if Ennahda is a potential coalition partner. Following the two leading parties are the Free Patriotic Union (UPL) with sixteen seats, the leftist Popular Front with fifteen seats, Afek Tounes with eight seats, and a combination of other parties comprising twenty-four seats. [Reuters, BBC 10/30/2014]

High female voter turnout observed in parliamentary elections
An estimated sixty-nine percent of Tunisia’s roughly eight million citizens turned out for Sunday’s parliamentary elections, with over five million registering to vote and more than three and a half million going to the polls on election day. This turnout represented a decline from the 2011 elections by nearly one million voters, and may reflect 2014 Pew Report findings that revealed a drop in Tunisians’ prioritization of democratic governance. Women represented just over half of registered voters and observers noted they were strongly represented at polling stations. [Tunisia Live, 10/30/2014]

Joint security forces trade fire with militants in Jendouba
Police, national guard, and army forces exchanged fire with militants attempting to enter the city of Jendouba in northwest Tunisia on Wednesday. Spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior Mohamed Ali Laroui said that the militants were seeking food supplies from the city, which is near the border with Libya. Authorities wounded several of the fighters, who fled to a nearby valley. Laroui said security forces are working to round up the militants. Elsewhere, the National Guard anti-terrorist crime unit arrested thirty terrorists tied to the terrorist group of Chebaou in Oued Ellil, Ariana governorate.  [TAP, 10/29/2014]


Saleh’s party warns: sanctions will pose a serious setback to political settlement
The General People’s Congress Party, associated with Yemen’s former President Ali Mohammed Saleh, warned that the imposition of any international sanctions against its leaders or any Yemenis would pose a serious setback to any political settlement in Yemen. The announcement came in response to rumors that the UN was readying sanctions against Saleh, his son Ahmed Ali Saleh, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, and two other Houthi leaders. The party said sanctions would only serve as a malicious attack against its members and allies, and any progress made toward a settlement would be returned to “point zero” if the sanctions were imposed. They also accused UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar and the JMP coalition of obstructing the political process, even as Benomar called ongoing settlement talks “positive” and said that he hoped a new government would be formed soon. [Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), 10/30/2014]

Houthis capture Radma after days of fighting
Houthi militants pushing toward Yemen’s center reportedly captured the city of Radma in Ibb province after days of fighting on Wednesday. The Houthis now control most of the province, with the exception of the al-Qaeda held town of Udain. Fighting in the country’s center, primarily in the Ibb and Bayda provinces, has reportedly killed at least 250 people over the past three days. On Sunday, President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi demanded the Houthis “immediately pull out their armed men from all the cities and provinces [they seized] including Sanaa” and criticized their efforts to fight al-Qaeda as “unacceptable” and a “bid to conquer more provinces.” Al-Qaeda and tribal sources in Ibb claimed to have killed twenty-seven Houthis in Bayda’s city of Rida as clashes continued Wednesday, while three tribesmen were killed. [Al Jazeera, 10/29/2014]

Southern leaders to meet Saudis in Cairo as military officials discuss contingencies
According to local sources, southern independence leaders based in Cairo and abroad are planning to hold political meetings with Saudi Arabian officials in Egypt’s capital. The sources said that the southerners and Saudis would meet over the next three days to discuss the southern issue and Houthi movements throughout Yemen. This would be the first official meeting of the Saudis with southern leaders, and could represent their stance on southern independence. Meanwhile, current and retired military leaders based in the south met in Aden to discuss security plans in the event that a crisis should break out there. [Aden al-Ghad (Arabic), 10/30/2014]

Agricultural Ministry warns of locust swarms in central and southern Yemen
The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation warned farmers that there are indications dense locust swarms could strike along the central and southern regions of Tehama, Lahj, and Abyan. The ministry released a statement saying that it called on the central government to release 60 million rials in funds to combat the issue, and absolved itself of responsibility for the consequences should crop yields be harmed. A ministry official said heavy rains and thick vegetative cover have created prime breeding conditions for locusts, and funds donated from Saudi Arabia for pesticides, fuel, and wages to fight the insects have not been released by the ministry of finance or central bank. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 10/30/2014]


Sweden becomes first EU state to recognize Palestine
Sweden became the first European Union nation to recognize a Palestinian state on Thursday. The country’s foreign ministry tweeted that the Swedish government “expressed hopes for peaceful coexistence between #Israel and #Palestine,” while Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Sweden hoped to continue its “excellent cooperation” with Israel and that the decision would be met “in a constructive way” in Jerusalem. Newly elected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven first announced the move at his swearing-in ceremony on October 3, but it the move was not expected to be carried out so soon. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded in a statement that “the Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are more complex than one of Ikea’s flat-pack pieces of furniture, and would do well to act with greater sensitivity and responsibility.” [The New York Times, 10/30/2014]

Mass grave with bodies of anti-ISIS tribe discovered
The bodies of 150 members of an Iraqi Sunni tribe that fought ISIS were found Thursday in a mass grave in Ramadi, according to security officials. ISIS militants took the tribesmen from their towns and moved them to Ramadi, executing them Wednesday night before burying the bodies. Meanwhile, the bodies of seventy other tribesmen, belonging to the Albu Nimr tribe, were found in a mass grave near the town of Hit in Anbar province. ISIS was known to have executed at least forty-six of the men on Wednesday. Tribal sheikhs from Albu Nimr say both sets of victims were among more than 300 men aged between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five who were seized by Islamic State this week. [Reuters, 10/30/2014]

US working with Iraqi Kurdistan to prevent ISIS oil smuggling
Energy Envoy for the United States Amos Hochstein said Thursday that the US government is working closely with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to clamp down on oil smuggling in a bid to cut off a key source of funding for ISIS. On the sidelines of an energy conference, Hochstein said “We are working with the regional government in Arbil to support their efforts in stopping those shipments and those smuggling operations.” He added that “it is of critical importance to the United States, the international community and to Kurdistan itself to see an increased effort to stop that smuggling.” The US and KRG are cooperating to identify oil routes and smugglers, and are trying to block key border crossings and purchasers. [Reuters, 10/30/2014]

Morocco to provide counterterrorism assistance to the UAE
Morocco is set to provide the United Arab Emirates with military assistance to fight terrorism as it seeks to establish broader regional security and military cooperation with the Gulf. A high-level Moroccan official said that Rabat is seeking greater security cooperation with the UAE to complement a new anti-terror plan launched in the North African kingdom this week. Morocco’s new counterterrorism strategy will see closer cooperation between army, gendarmerie, police, and auxiliary forces rapidly combat security threats in sensitive locations, particularly at the country’s airports. Though the UAE did not request the move, Morocco will dispatch security forces to the small country in what is seen as a part of a broader effort to establish closer ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. [Asharq al-Awsat, 10/30/2014]