The United States is considering imposing unilateral sanctions on Libya’s combative factions in an effort to pressure militants to negotiate and prevent a proxy conflict from erupting into a full-blown civil war.

Two reasons, according to officials, are that US penalties could be imposed whenever, regardless of UN moves, and US sanctions could be especially worrisome to Khalifa Haftar, who has launched an armed campaign against Islamists in Benghazi. Outside intervention has exacerbated the fighting, with Qatar and, to some degree, Turkey supporting Islamist-linked forces, and Egypt and the United Arab Emirates backing more secular rivals.




US rights organizations urge Obama to take stand against Egypt’s NGO law
Eleven US-based organizations and individuals wrote a letter to US President Barack Obama on Friday urging him to “engage preventively and use all available means to make clear to President al-Sisi that there will be serious consequences if there is a further crackdown on NGOs.” Their request comes in light of the upcoming November 10 deadline for NGOs to register under the controversial, and “highly restrictive” 2002 NGO Law on Associations. The letter was signed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Center for Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Foreign Policy Initiative, Human Rights First, and the Project on Middle East Democracy. [DNE, 11/7/2014]

Penalties for faculty committing, inciting, or abetting violence added to Egypt university law
A decision by Egypt’s cabinet amended an article in its university law to hand down punishments for faculty members who “incite violence” on campus. The new penalty is the dismissal of any faculty member who “participates or incites or abets acts of violence inside universities or any of the facilities belonging to them, or smuggling weapons of any kind inside universities, or explosives, or fireworks or flammable materials or other devices or materials which endanger or harm persons or facilities or property.” The amendment has not yet been ratified by President al-Sisi.  [Ahram Online, 11/6/2014]

Sisi to meet with largest US business delegation since 2011 revolution
Egypt will host on Sunday the largest delegation of American business owners and officials to visit the country for three years, including representatives of sixty-six large companies. Participants will include General Electric International Inc., Microsoft, and IBM in the ICT sector, First Solar International, Noble Energy, and ExxonMobil in the energy sector as well as drug maker Pfizer along with other major corporations operating in additional sectors. The delegation is the largest to visit the country since the 2011 revolution.  The visit will last three days during which time the delegation will meet Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, as well as other ministers and Egyptian businessmen. [Ahram Online, 11/7/2014]

Unidentified gunmen shoot four civilians in North Sinai
Unknown gunmen killed four civilians on Thursday in North Sinai’s al-Arish city, security sources said. The four bodies were found on the ring road south of al-Arish city near al-Sabeel village. They were all shot in the head in a recurrence of similar recent shootings in North Sinai. Security forces are carrying out their investigations to identify the perpetrators. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 11/6/2014]

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Washington weighs sanctions on Libyan factions to try to halt proxy war
The United States is considering imposing unilateral sanctions on Libya’s combative factions in an effort to pressure militants to negotiate and prevent a proxy conflict from erupting into a full-blown civil war. Two reasons, according to officials, are that US penalties could be imposed whenever, regardless of UN moves, and US sanctions could be especially worrisome to Khalifa Haftar, who has launched an armed campaign against Islamists in Benghazi. Outside intervention has exacerbated the fighting, with Qatar and, to some degree, Turkey supporting Islamist-linked forces, and Egypt and the United Arab Emirates backing more secular rivals. [Reuters, 11/7/2014]

Disruptions continue at Libya’s border crossings
Libya’s land border crossings with Tunisia and Egypt continue to be subject to intermittent closures or disruption, more frequently since the closure of Tripoli’s main airport in mid-July. According to local media, the Tunisian town of Medenine has closed the road leading to the Ras Jedir crossing since a Tunisian citizen on his way back from Libya went missing. Meanwhile, 160 Egyptian truck drivers were released by their armed captors in eastern Libya. Such kidnappings are meant to force Egyptian authorities to release Libyans, often detained in Egypt on charges of smuggling. [Libya Monitor (subscription), 11/7/2014]

Group alleges human rights violations in Misrata prisons
The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya alleges that human rights violations are persistently committed in Misrata prisons and has called on Libyan authorities to put a stop to them. Many of the jails are not under the justice ministry’s authority but rather operate as “secret prisons,” reserved for members of the former Qaddafi brigades and of the Tawergha tribe who helped regime forces attack Misrata during the 2011 uprising. Around 6,000 detainees are believed to be held in these prisons. [Libya Herald, 11/6/2014]

Tunisia declares national day of mourning as death toll in bus attack rises
The death toll of Thursday’s militant attack on a bus carrying Tunisian soldiers in Nebuer rose Thursday after the National Defense Ministry announced that an additional serviceman had succumbed to injuries incurred during the attack. A spokesman from the defense ministry released the names of the five officers killed, raising the casualty rate to five, with an additional ten officers listed as injured. Interim President Moncef Marzouki declared that Thursday would be national day of mourning with flags flying at half-mast throughout the country. [TAP, 11/6/2014]

Tunisia, Algeria call for national dialogue, reconciliation as Libyan crisis spirals
Tunisian Foreign Affairs Minister Mongi Hamdi affirmed Thursday in Algiers that Algeria and Tunisia welcome national dialogue and public reconciliation in the resolution of the ongoing Libyan crisis. The foreign minister met with his Algerian counterpart to discuss regional security issues and measures that both countries could take to support a conclusive end to hostilities in Libya. This meeting follows Tuesday’s ruling by Tunisian officials to bar Libyan refugees from organized political activity without prior authorization from the government. [All Africa, 11/6/2014]

Algeria, Morocco clash over Western Sahara dispute
In a speech delivered on the 39th anniversary of the Green March, King Mohammed VI of Morocco stressed that resolution to the Western Sahara conflict was contingent on a responsible agreement with Algeria to restore a stable security climate in the region. The Moroccan leader noted that Algeria was a major player in the ongoing conflict and would therefore play a prominent rule in its final resolution. The king emphasized the importance of strong relations with Algeria but noted an expanding rift on both country’s stances on the Western Sahara conflict. [All Africa, 11/6/2014]


Clashes in southern Syria kill forty
At least forty people were killed Thursday in clashes between regime forces and opposition fighters including Nusra Front in the south of the country. The forces were killed during fighting in Beit Tima, a majority-Druze region in southeastern Damascus province. There has been fighting between regime and rebel forces in the region for more than a year, but Thursday’s toll is the highest in a single day since violence began there. [AFP, 11/7/2014]

Regime forces retake Sha’ar gas field from ISIS
Regime soldiers alongside paramilitary forces recaptured a gas field from ISIS fighters on Thursday. The Sha’ar gas field in central Syria has changed hands four times since July, when ISIS fighters first seized it and killed about 350 government troops, allied militiamen, guards, and staff. Government forces retook the field, which lies to the east of the central city of Homs, later that month but lost it again to ISIS last week in fighting that killed at least thirty pro-government fighters. [Reuters, 11/7/2014]

Syria Muslim Brotherhood appoints new leader
Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood, one of President Bashar Assad’s political adversaries in exile, has appointed Mohammad Hekmat Walid, a 70-year-old British-educated ophthalmologist, as its new leader. The Brotherhood’s council elected Walid for a four-year term in a vote Thursday in Istanbul, where the Syrian opposition in exile is based. Walid, who hails from the regime stronghold of Latakia, is the twelfth leader of the Syrian Brotherhood, which was formed at the start of the 1940s but banned in the 1980s after an uprising against Assad’s father.

ISIS momentum in Iraq slows as opposition grows in Anbar
ISIS’s blistering gains in Iraq appear to have substantially subsided despite ongoing skirmishes with Iraqi security forces and Shia militias throughout the country. In recent weeks, security forces have retaken the Rabia crossing with Syria, opened crucial roads in the country’s center, and held off ISIS advances elsewhere. Iraqi officials noted Thursday that US airstrikes have also helped security forces halt the ISIS advances in the town of Baiji but further action is required to defeat the radical jihadist militant group. Faced with burgeoning discontent amongst the local Sunni population, ISIS militants have distilled into small pockets within the local population where they still hold support. [The New York Times, 11/5/2014]

Iraqi lawmakers advance plans for a new national guard
Amid a series of attacks against Iraqi troops, the government pressed ahead with a draft law meant to establish a community-based national guard force in efforts to mobilize Iraq’s Sunni minority in the battle against ISIS. Iraq’s parliament speaker, Salim al-Jubouri, said that the draft law to establish a national guard force in each province would be finished and submitted to the parliament within the next two weeks. [AP, Jordan Times, 11/6/2014]

Iraq’s Sistani says graft in army helped ISIS
Iraq’s most influential Shia authority said Friday that corruption in the armed forces had enabled ISIS to seize much of northern Iraq, criticism that will pressure the government to enact reforms in the face of an insurgency. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has become increasingly critical of Iraqi leaders since ISIS’ lightning advance created Iraq’s worst crisis since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iraq’s army, the recipient of $25 billion in US training and funding, collapsed in the face of the onslaught. Speaking on live television through an aide in the holy southern city of Karbala, Sistani asked rhetorically what would happen if the military were corrupt. [The Daily Star, 11/7/2014]


Thousands protest proposed sanctions against Saleh and Houthis
Thousands of supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh took to the streets on Friday to protest proposed UN sanctions against the former president and two Houthi leaders. Protesters, some brandishing machine guns, gathered in Sana’a’s Tahrir Square and chanted slogans denouncing the United States and praising Saleh. Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party warned last week that sanctions would be disastrous for any political settlement in the country. The UN discussed Tuesday the imposition of sanctions against Saleh, Abdulkhaliq al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, both of whom led Houthi forces into Sana’a in September. Abdulkhaliq is brother to Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi, who two days ago dismissed the proposed sanctions in a televised statement. [AFP, 11/7/2014]

Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for Sana’a airport attack
Al-Qaeda militants claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Yemen’s international airport in Sana’a, claiming that it was a response to recent US drone attacks. The United States has stepped up targeted drone killings this week, with over twenty militants killed in the central province and al-Qaeda stronghold of Bayda. A statement on the group’s Twitter page Friday did not claim any casualties in the attack. Air traffic was reportedly moving normally by Thursday. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 11/7/2014]

Yemen announces senior al-Qaeda leader killed in clash with southern security forces
The Yemeni defense ministry and security sources said Thursday that a senior al-Qaeda leader was killed in a clash in the southern Lahj province. Turki al-Asiri, also known as Marwan al-Maki or the “emir” of al-Qaeda in Lahj, was killed during a chase by security forces in the Tuban district. Another al-Qaeda member was injured in the attack and taken into custody after treatment. [Al Masdar, Aden al-Ghad (Arabic) 11/7/2014]

Brother of Anwar al-Awlaki alleges Saleh complicit in assassination
The brother of former al-Qaeda leader in Yemen and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki claims that former president Ali Abdullah Saleh played a role in his death. In a statement on his Facebook page, Omar al-Awlaki alleged that Saleh and Saleh’s nephew Omar, the former head of national security, were aware of Anwar al-Awlaki’s whereabouts amongst the tribesmen in Yemen’s northern Jawf province. Omar al-Awlaki claimed to have learned from intelligence sources that Saleh informed US officials of his brother’s whereabouts in 2011 as part of a bid to remain in power amidst popular Arab Spring protests. [Al Masdar, Aden al-Ghad (Arabic) 11/7/2014]

Kerry arrives in the UAE to discuss cooperation
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Abu Dhabi Thursday to meet with the emirate’s crown prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. Kerry and al-Nahyan discussed regional and international events and security cooperation between the United States and the UAE. [Gulf News, 11/7/2014]


French development agency announces €1.8 million grant
The French Development Agency on Thursday granted 1.8 million Euros to support the creation of private-public partnerships with its Tunisian partners. The agreement was confirmed by Tunisia’s Secretary of State for Development Noureddine Zekri and the French Ambassador to Tunisia and is intended to strengthen relations between public and private enterprises throughout the country. [TAP, 11/6/2014]

Tunisia and the EU finalize agreement to boost Tunisian exports
The Director General of the Tunisian Institute for Consumers’ Rights on Friday announced a joint agreement with the European Union to regulate market access, enhance consumer’ rights and boost Tunisian exports into European markets. The agreement includes strict consumer protection standards and is expected to bolster the European Union’s growing partnership with Tunisia’s financial sector. [Ansamed, 11/7/2014]