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”.
, 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
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
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.