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CFC Mediterranean Basin Review, 28 May 2013

CFC Mediterranean Basin Review, 28 May 2013

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Published by CFC Cimicweb
This document provides an overview of developments in the Mediterranean Basin and other regions of interest from 30 April to 13 May 2013, with hyperlinks to source material highlighted and under-lined in the text.
This document provides an overview of developments in the Mediterranean Basin and other regions of interest from 30 April to 13 May 2013, with hyperlinks to source material highlighted and under-lined in the text.

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Published by: CFC Cimicweb on Jun 03, 2013
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28 May 2013
North Africa1Northeast Africa 4Horn of Africa 5The Civil-Military Fusion Centre(CFC) is an information and knowledge management organisa-tion focused on improving civil-military interaction, facilitatinginformation sharing and enhancingsituational awareness through theCimicWeb portal and our bi-weekly and monthly publications.CFC products are based upon and link to open-source informationfrom a wide variety of organisations,research centres and media outlets.However, the CFC does not endorseand cannot necessarily guaranteethe accuracy or objectivity of thesesources.
CFC publications are inde-pendently produced by DeskOfficers and do not reflectNATO policies or positions of any other organisation.
The CFC is part of NATO Allied Command Operations.For further information, contact:
Med Basin Team Leader
The Med Basin Team
This document provides an overview of developments
in the Mediterranean Basin and other regionsof interest from 14
27 May 2013
 , with hyper-links to source material highlighted in blue and under-lined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to the region, pleasecontact the members of the Med Basin Team, or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org.
North Africa
Eray Basar
Algeria’s Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said on 21 May that President Abdelaziz Bout
health is improving while he convalesces in France, reports
. The president has been absent from the public since suffering a stroke on 27 April, leading to speculations abouthis worsening condition and actual whereabouts. Two Algerian newspapers faced legal action  after reporting that Bouteflika was in a coma, reports
. With the president’s he
alth in ques-tion only one year ahead of the next elections, Algeria is preparing to transition from rule by a
gerontocracy to governance by a generation “too young to have fought in Algeria’s war of i
dependence against France,” reports
. However, it is highlighted that such a power 
transfer may be “bumpy” at a time of 
insurrection by Islamist militants in neighbouring coun-tries. Preparing for the transition, Arabic-language
 El Khabar 
recently mentioned article 88 of the constitution. The article states
the “leader of the senate would temporarily take over in the
event of the death or incapacity of the president.
However, other newspapers published photosof the prime minister as a likely successor to the president.
28 May 2013 Page 2
As demand for Algerian oil increases, the country is unable to improve the oil sector and increase planned production. The industry has been plagued by a number of problems, including highly criticised foreign oil investment laws, security concerns, inefficient bu-reaucratic processes, power struggles between political and military elite and scandals of alleged corruption involving the state oilcompany Sonatrach, informs
United Press International (UPI).
Foreign oil companies such as BP continue to pressure the Algeriangovernment to ease investment regulations. Algeria is reportedly in need of foreign investment and technology to meet its future oil production targets. However, the aforementioned unfavourable investment climate in the country translates to a lack of interest in therecent bidding rounds. The
 Middle East Economic Digest 
suggests the situation is
a country that in recent years was announcing plans for a rapi
d acceleration in gas output is facing a stiff challenge just to maintain production”.
A moderate earthquake of 5.5 magnitude shook Bejaja region in northern Algeria on 19 May, reports
South African Press Association- Agence France-Presse (Sapa-AFP)
. Five people were injured and several houses were damaged during the incident.
President Mohammed Morsi revised adraft law on civil society after opposition members and international human rights groups voiced concern over the initial draft, reports
. The original law required non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to obtain prior permission from the government to receive international funding and implement projects. Critics argued these measures wouldimpede NGO operations. Secretary to the President, Khaled al-Qazzaz, indicated that the revised law removes any such restrictions.
However, the director for Human Rights Watch in Egypt, Heba Morayef, stated upon reviewing the latest draft, “There have been
nomajor changes. It still gives the government the power to restri
ct their activities and cut off funding”.
 Seven Egyptian soldiers kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula on 16 May were freed six days later on 22 May, reports
. Once re-leased, the Egyptian security forces reopened the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. The crossing was closed in protest of thekidnappings. Armed forces spokesman Ahmed Mohammed Ali indicated that military intelligence services and Sinai residents assisted
with the soldiers’
release. However, it is not yet clear who kidnapped the soldiers. The militant Islamic group Hama denied allegationsof involvement.
Ismail Haniya, leader of Hamas, sent a congratulatory message to Egypt upon the soldiers’ release, claiming a “major achievement by the Egyptian military and a reassurance of the Egyptian sovereignty in Sinai”.
According to
 Ahram Online
, the government ordered hotels to ban men from working in 
 in an effort to prevent the sex-ual harassment of tourists, according to Minister of Tourism Hisham Zaazou. Any hotel spa violating the decree could face closure or revocation of its spa licence. Over the past two years, the ministry has received 150 cases of sexual harassment of tourists to includethree reported rapes in the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.In other efforts to address the issue of violence against women, the United Nations (UN) agency UN Women launched a new anti-sexual harassment initiative in Egypt on 27 May, reports
 Ahram Online.
UN Women, in cooperation with
members of the internationalstudent group Enactus,
launched the ‘Consider Her Your Sister’ campaign at Kafr El
-Sheikh University. A recent UN study found that99.3 per cent of female respondents within Egypt reported experiencing harassment. In related news, ten men in southern Egypt aresuspected of committing
on 23 May, reports
 Associated Press (AP)
. Reportedly, the men killed a mother and her two daughters then proceeded to dump their bodies into the Nile River. The women were believed to be adulterers. Honour killings,often carried out by male family members to avenge a violation of traditional morals, are common in conservative regions of Egypt.While the practice violates Egyptian law, courts can be sympathetic to perpetrators and issue lighter sentences.
Libyan officials reported a series of  explosions on 18 May in Benghazi and the capital Tripoli, with no reported casualties, writes
 As- sociated Press (AP)
. Three of the explosions occurred in the eastern city of Benghazi targeting an abandoned church and several secu-rity vehicles. Two other explosions occurred in the capital Tripoli, one near a security building and another near the Saudi, Greek andPalestinian embassies. A bombing suspect near the embassies was arrested.Another explosion on 14 May, which was initially reported as bomb explosion but later described as an accident, killed three peopleand wounded fourteen others, reports
. Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on 20 May that several car bombs and other explosives were found and defused within the past two days. However, Zeidan did not provide any further details about the locationsof the discoveries.
28 May 2013 Page 3
Gunmen attacked the Mellitah gas complex in western Libya on 20 May, reports
. Operations were not disrupted although a sol-dier and a brigade leader guarding the facility were wounded. According to reports, the attack was carried out by one of the two rebelgroups responsible for facility security; the two groups had previously clashed in March. Libyan military staff reportedly ordered theair force to track down the attackers.On 21 May, oil flows stopped
to Libya’s Zueitina terminal when
tribal demonstrators demanding jobs shut off  a valve along the pipe- line, informs
. A Zueitina engineer said two officials from the firm went to meet with the demonstrators but
said “they are cal
ing for representatives from the [state energy firm] National Oil Corporation to come meet with them”. A
2012 congressional commit-
tee to oversee Libya’s energy industry expressed in a statement: “We strongly condemn the shutting down of 
oil facilities, which is
seen as illegal and harmful to the state and economy”. The facility 
resumed normal operations on 27 May after the locals and DeputyMinister of Oil Omar Shokmak reached an agreement. Shokmak promised to prioritise the region and improve living conditions, add-ing that it was a front line during the revolution against the former regime. Shokmak stated
that the citizens’
right to peaceful demon-
strations does not warrant “causing damage to the country’s interests”.
The Istiqlal (independence) Party threatens to abandon the governing coalition unless Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane eases plansto cut food and energy subsidies,reports
. Benkirane’s Justice and Development Party (PJD) argue that the country’s expend
i-ture of 57 billion dirhams (USD 6.6 billion) on subsidies in 2012
almost twice as high as 2010
is not sustainable. The move to cut
subsidies to repair the country’s economy is supported by the International Monetary Fund
(IMF). The conservative Istiqlal Party op- poses P
JD’s reform plan
which is likely to be supported by King Mohammed VI of Morocco, saying it is “too radical”. Istiqlalspokesman Adil Benhamza offers: “The government said it spent 57 billion dirham in subsidies last year, but it is not true. I
t recovers2
3 billion dirham in value added tax”.
According to the reports, subsidy cuts raise prices thereby impacting the living standards of theMoroccans, which risks reviving protests for political and economic reforms.According to Spanish authorities, approximately 200 sub-Saharan Africans attempted to crossinto the Moroccan Spanish enclave of Melilla on 13 May; nearly 120 successfully avoided cap-ture and entered the territory, reports
. However, five illegal migrants drowned during an attempt to reach Spain on a polyester boat, reports
 AFP/The Local 
. Seven others, including four women, were rescued and brought to a Moroccan hospital in Nador for treatment.
Ansar al Sharia, a Salafist group openly supporting al Qaeda,clashed with the police on 19 May, reports
. The group used Facebook to a gathering in Ettadamen district of thecapital Tunis. The original gathering had been scheduled for the central city of Kairouan; how-ever, the government prohibited the Kairouan gathering as it pos
ed a “threat to public security”. Police dispersed about 500 protesters
with tear gas in Tunis. Ansar al Sharia spokesman Saifeddine Rais was arrested for incitement, reports
. Tunisian Prime
Minister Ali Larayedh said: “We will deal with this organization with total seriousness but in accordance with the law” and a
dded that
[Ansar al Sharia] exists but isn’t legal. It must either follow the law or end its existence”. On the other hand, 
Abu Yahya al-Shanqiti,amember of the Sharia Committee of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), urged the Tunisian Salafists to exercise self-restraint
and not be “provoked by the regime and its barbarism” in order to maintain their public support, reports
. AQIM also praised An-sar al Sharia in a Twitter post and encouraged continuation of 
“good steps that bore fruits”.Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution (LPR) spokesman Nasreddine Wazfa criticised the prevention of the group’s 
 protests that began 24 May in the Tunis suburb of Kram, which later resulted in the arrests of nine supporters, reports
Tunisia Live
. Wafza arguedthe legality of the protest which advocated for the adoption of a law to ban previous regime officials from holding government posi-tions. Wazfa notified the Ministry of Interior and the police precinct 72 hours ahead of the protests in accordance with the law. Interior Ministry spokesman Lofti Hidouri said LPR was warned one day in advance not to hold the unauthorised protests.

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