- On September 23, two suicide bombers killed at least 96 individuals who were attending funerals in Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City. The attack represents one of the largest terrorist attacks against Iraqi civilians. In recent months, Iraq has suffered thousands of deaths due to increased sectarian attacks, and violence has approached levels not seen since 2008.
- United States aid to Yemen was recently raised by USD 20.5 million through an agreement signed between Yemeni Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammed al-Sa’adi and USAID Yemen Mission Director Herbie Smith. According to the agreement, USD 7.5 million of the aid will be dedicated to water resource management and the rest will assist the conclusion of the National Dialogue process. The U.S. has allocated over USD 600 million in aid to Yemen since the beginning of its transition in November 2011, including USD 247 million in security assistance.
- 13 Syrian Islamist rebel groups have announced that they do not recognize the authority of the main western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition. Some of the Islamist groups who have denounced the National Coalition include members of the Free Syria Army and members of radical Islamists groups such as the al-Nursa Front. These 13 groups reject the authority of the National Coalition because they claim thee Coalition is detached from events happening within Syria.
- The Governor of Egypt’s Central Bank stated that Egypt returned USD 2 billion to Qatar because negotiations between the two nations broke down. Qatar provided ex-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s government with USD 7.5 billion in aid, but relations between Egypt and Qatar deteriorated when the military removed President Morsi from power. Other gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have stated that they would provide the Egyptian government with USD 12 billion in aid.
- Human Rights Watch (HRW) researchers examined 20 instances in which the rights of journalists in Yemen were infringed upon during a three-month visit to the country in the spring of 2013. The attacks on journalists in Yemen range from physical attacks to verbal death threats, and although all 20 instances were reported to the authorities, no prosecutions were made.
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently reported that the total number of Syrian refugees has exceeded two million. The increase in the number of Syrian refugees has serious financial and political costs for host governments, including Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
- Within the past week, Libya’s oil production recovered by a third to reach 700,000 barrels a day. Due to recent protests and strikes by armed militant groups, Libya’s oil sector has only manufactured 10 percent of its total capabilities. Libya is home to Africa’s largest oil reserves and has historically played a critical role in providing European refineries with high quality oil.
- Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan announced that 1,600 military personnel will be sent abroad to participate in training programs. The military personnel will train in countries such as Turkey, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Also, it was announced earlier this month that the U.S. would help train an additional 8,000 Libyan troops at American bases in Bulgaria.
- The Lebanese government has ordered the deployment of a joint force of 800 men to predominately Shiite neighborhoods in southern Beirut to take over checkpoints set up by Hezbollah fighters after bombings targeted those neighborhoods earlier this summer.
This post was written by Transparency and Accountability Intern Eddie Bejarano