Prime Minister Ali Zidan held a security summit in Benghazi on Sunday aimed at boosting security in the city and support for army and police. 


Court allows release of ousted president Mubarak in illicit gains case
Egypt’s North Cairo misdemeanor court decides not to renew ousted autocratic president Hosni Mubarak’s detention period pending investigations on charges of making illicit gains, Mubarak’s lawyer Farid al-Deeb tells Ahram Online. Mubarak will remain in jail as he is facing corruption charges in two other court cases. [Ahram Online, 6/18/2013]

Egypt Shura Council tightens grip on foreign-funded civil society
In a fiery Monday afternoon session, the Islamist-led Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt’s parliament, currently endowed with legislative powers) approved in principle a new law aimed at regulating the operations of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The bill stipulates that a civil association has to notify the "coordinating committee" of any foreign funding it receives, while clarifying the nationality of the donor, said Chairman of the council’s Human Development Committee Abdel-Azim Mahmoud. [Ahram Online, 6/18/2013]

Interior minister: Islamists should not protest on June 30
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim called on Islamists not to stage any protests on June 30, as clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi would be tantamount to a “furnace of war.” Ibrahim also called on secular forces not to protest on June 21, a day on which Islamists have planned protests. [Egypt Independent, 6/18/2013]

Egypt Sends IMF final amendments to its economic program
Egypt has sent on Saturday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the final amendments and the full details of its economic reform program, the country’s  minister of planning told Amwal al-Ghad. Dr. Amr Darrag noted that the government is expecting within the upcoming period the IMF to respond to the country’s long-awaited US$ 4.8 billion loan request. [Amwal Al Ghad, 6/18/2013]


Zidan promises more military aid for Benghazi
Prime Minister Ali Zidan held a security summit in Benghazi on Sunday aimed at boosting security in the city and support for army and police. Congress members have been critical of the government’s handling of the situation since thirty-one people were killed nine days ago and many more wounded when protests against the presence of militias turned violent. Zidan also said there was no evidence to support the claim that extremist group Ansar al-Sharia was involved in the recent Benghazi clashes. [Libya Herald, 6/17/13]

GNC vows to restore stolen properties to rightful owners
The General National Congress (GNC) has vowed it will work to restore sequestered property to its rightful owners, but has cautioned that it will take time to reverse Qaddafi-era legislation and to deal with its effects. In a statement, the GNC explained that the delays so far have had a lot to do with the growth in the sheer number of property claims, along with the pressure to deal with the most pressing cases. [Libya Herald, 6/17/13]

Libya to try Qaddafi son in August
The trial of ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s son, his spy chief, and his last prime minister will take place in August, a top Libyan official has announced. Last week, Libya appealed the International Criminal Court’s order to try Saif al-Islam in The Hague. ICC judges ruled that Libya will not be able to give Saif al-Islam a fair trial. [Al Jazeera, 6/18/13]

Lockerbie compensation: Libyan officials acquitted
Two senior Libyan officials have been acquitted of "squandering public funds" by agreeing to pay $2.7bn in compensation to victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. These are the first verdicts against Qaddafi’s officials since his ouster. The judge did not explain the reasons for the acquittal. [BBC, 6/17/13]


Putin faces isolation over Syria as G8 ratchets up pressure
Russian President Vladimir Putin faced growing isolation on the second day of a G8 summit on Tuesday as world leaders lined up to pressure him into toning down his support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Following a frosty encounter between the Kremlin chief and U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday, G8 leaders sought to use the last day of talks to find common ground on a transition of power in Syria despite Russia’s stance. [Reuters, Al Jazeera, 6/18/13]

Leaving power would be “betrayal,” says Syria’s Assad
Quitting power while his government battles a countrywide uprising would be a "national betrayal," Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has told a German newspaper in an interview. "Elections or a referendum are the way to know if the people want you to quit your post," said Assad.  Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Tuesday that Russia is “categorically against” any public acts of capitulation by the Assad government within the context of Geneva talks. [NOW, Al Arabiya, 6/18/13]

US unveils $300 million in new aid for Syrian refugees
US President Barack Obama announced more than $300 million in new humanitarian aid on Monday to address the Syrian crisis and to help neighboring countries cope with the 1.6 million refugees who have fled the civil war.  Obama announced the aid for food, medical equipment, water and shelter during a dinner with leaders of the G8 nations, which spent time addressing how best to end the two-year civil war. [NOW, Daily Star, 6/18/13]


To stabilize economy, Tunisia to spend $1 billion to recapitalize banks
Tunisian authorities have told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they may spend over a billion dollars to recapitalize the country’s state-owned banks as the government struggles to stabilize the economy after the 2011 revolution.  Plans for the rescue operation were described in a letter by the government to the IMF, which agreed earlier this month to lend Tunisia $1.74 billion over two years. [Reuters 6/17/2013, AFP 6/14/2013]

Sixty national assembly members sign petition rejecting draft constitution
Nearly one-third of the members of Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) have signed a petition denouncing the fourth draft of the country’s draft constitution. The sixty members who signed the petition come from a variety of political parties within the NCA, although noticeably absent from the list signatories were representatives from Tunisia’s Ennahda, Ettakatol, al-Joumhouri, and al-Mobadara parties. [Tunisia Live, 6/13/2013]

Journalist and two rappers to be tried for ‘attacking public morals’
A Tunisian court on Monday charged two musicians and a journalist implicated in violence that erupted last week at the trial of a rapper who was controversially jailed for two years for insulting the police.The charges carry possible prison terms of one year and six months respectively. [Middle East Online, 6/17/2013]

Pressure builds to pass draft law excluding former regime officials from office
A controversial law that would exclude members of the pre-revolutionary government from serving in official positions has drawn intense support from some advocates within Tunisia.  The National Constituent Assembly is still working to find a date to pass the draft law, which would exclude all members of  the government of former president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali as well as senior members of the former ruling party from holding certain elected or appointed positions, and from forming or joining the governing bodies of any political parties. [Tunisia Live, 6/18/2013]


Advisor to President denies term extension
The advisor to the President for Media Affairs, Mahboub Ali, has denied that the President has a personal desire to extend his presidential term. Mahboub also revealed that important decisions will be issued soon on the file of the looted lands and the forcibly excluded staff in the framework of addressing the situation in the southern provinces. [Saba, 06/18/2013]

Americans join Yemenis in Guantanamo protest
Yemeni and American rights protesters have staged a demonstration in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa, demanding the release of Yemeni Guantanamo detainees. Seven American activists joined the rally on Monday. [Gulf News, 06/18/2013]

Saudi Arabia expels thousands immigrants in one week; number expected to rise to hundreds of thousands in coming weeks
Immigrants who do not meet the new requirements for immigration in Saudi Arabia have been crossing the border into Yemen with Saudi buses transporting as many as 1,600 immigrants a day. Yemenis are alarmed of the economic, social, and political consequences this will have on an impoverished country that heavily relies on remittances for income. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 06/18/2013]

Security forces foil car bomb in Sanaa
An official source in the Supreme Security Committee announced on Monday that a team from the National Security Service has managed to foil a car bomb parked at al-Safia area in the secretariat of the capital Sanaa. [Saba, 06/18/2013]


Algeria’s Islamists gear up for presidential campaign
Despite Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s recent appearance, after more than eighteen months of absence while being treated in Paris, the political backstage is buzzing with talk about the presidential elections scheduled for next spring. While Bouteflika’s illness has reduced his chances for a fourth term, it has fueled the Islamists and national blocs’ ambitions to succeed him. [Al-Monitor, 6/17/2013]

Kuwait opposition faces battle for survival
Kuwait’s on-off opposition movement faces a battle for survival after the country’s Emir hammered home a contentious court ruling in his favor by urging citizens to reject “voices of chaos”. Parliamentary elections now due in the oil-rich and newly ambitious Gulf state present the fragmented anti-government movement with a serious dilemma, with some members arguing for a repeat of the boycott of December’s poll that others now see as a mistake. [Financial Times, 6/17/2013]

Photo: US Department of State