Photo Credit: NBC News
Libya’s largest oil terminal at Essider has resumed producing and exporting oil after a blockade was finally lifted that began in July 2013, according to the Libyan government. Production has reached approximately 560,000 barrels per day, a 400 percent increase from the previous few months when oil exports slowed significantly. The increase has occurred despite simmering violence in both Tripoli and Benghazi. Islamist loyalists clashed with the militias of General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi, killing five, while recent airstrikes in Tripoli killed six earlier this week. Ongoing security concerns have caused both Egypt and Tunisia to halt flights to Libya in recent days.
Libyan authorities have also shuttered two television channels affiliated with Islamists due to their support for Misrata-based militias, according to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). ANHRI condemned the action as an “egregious violation” of free expression.
Finally, the Washington Institute has released an extensive profile on General Khalifa Haftar. The report suggests, “Although Haftar’s campaign poses risks to Libya’snascent democracy, allowing the government to neglect the country is an even greater threat to its well-being. The challenge facing Washington and its allies lies in balancing Haftar’s aspirations against the …
Photo Credit: Army Times
In a joint ceremony with Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou and National Security Minister Ridha Sfar, U.S. Ambassador Jacob Walles announced the donation of equipment to the Tunisian national guard and police. The donation consisted of “more [than] ten tons of bulletproof vests, helmets, shields, and other personnel protective gear” and is valued [Fr] at $14 million. The Ambassador noted that the equipment would “allow [security officers] to be even more effective in their efforts to dismantle the groups that are terrorizing the Tunisian public and seeking to destabilize the democratic transition and the upcoming elections.” He also stated that the aid “demonstrates our strong commitment to support Tunisia’s fight against terrorism and our determination to help Tunisia succeed in its transition to democracy.”
At the same ceremony, Ambassador Walles also noted that the U.S. would “soon make available to the Tunisian Air Force 12 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters to aid in the fight against terrorism.” The transaction’s details, including whether the helicopters would be sold or granted to Tunisia, are to be discussed with Defense Ministry officials.
Photo Credit: Bloomberg
Iraq’s former PM Nouri al-Maliki stepped down on Thursday after he made clear a day before his insistence to stay in power. Veteran Shia politician Qassim Daoud said, “pressure from international and domestic figures — including Iraq’s most powerful Shia leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani – played a role” in Maliki’s decision to step down. The U.S., already deploying warplanes in Iraq, exerted pressure on the PM when it suggested that more military assistance would be forthcoming if he was to relinquish power. U.S. officials on the other hand also assured him protection from prosecution. Iran played a crucial role in the reconciliation process between Dawa leaders, convincing Maliki that he has to step down “in an honorable way.” Ayatollah Sistani and other clerics’ efforts have also been put in removing Maliki. Al-Monitor concluded that many figures paid the price for the failure in Iraq, and Iran’s move in this transition indicates “Iran is about to adopt a new policy.”
Maliki’s move paved way for a new government that world and regional powers hope can quash the increasingly threatening Islamist militant insurgency. National Security Advisor Susan Rice commented, “These are encouraging developments that we hope can set Iraq …
Photo Credit: Middle East Eye
Yesterday marks the one-year anniversary of the massacres in Nahda and Raba’a squares during which Egyptian security forces dispersed pro-Morsi sit-ins, leading to what Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called “likely a crime against humanity.” The anniversary witnessed incidents of violence around Egypt, leaving five protesters and one police officer died, and scores arrested.
Former PM Hazem al-Beblawy, whose government presided over the dispersal, stated that it “was a hard and sad day for Egypt because of the many victims who were killed. All choices were bad. The government postponed the dispersal more than once. The first of the victims during the dispersal was a policeman not a protester, which proves that fire came from inside the sit-in.” Beblawy added that the HRW report was biased and ignored the armed resistance among the protesters. Meanwhile, the June 30 Fact-Finding Committee echoed al-Beblawy’s criticism, saying that HRW ignored violence on the part of pro-Morsi supporters who attacked churches and Christians. However, Nasser Amin of the quasi-governmental organization National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) admitted in an interview that denying the HRW delegation entry into Egypt was an “improper decision” and that “the organisation’s directors have …
Photo Credit: Manu Brabo/ AP
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report detailing the Egyptian government’s mass killings of pro-Morsi protesters following the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi last summer. Based on a year-long investigation, the report suggests the killing of hundreds of demonstrators was “systematic, ordered by top officials and probably amounts to crimes against humanity,” calling for in international inquiry into then army commander Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, and at least 10 senior military and security chiefs.
“In Rabaa Square, Egyptian security forces carried out one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history. This wasn’t merely a case of excessive force or poor training. It was a violent crackdown planned at the highest level of the Egyptian government. Many of the same officials are still in power in Egypt, and have a lot to answer to,” said HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth upon the release of the report.
Egypt’s government rejected the accusations in the report, describing HRW as being “biased and unprofessional.” An official statement reads, “While it is not surprised by the report, in light of the organizations’ clear leaning and methods, the government rejects the report and criticizes …