Provisional results in Egypt's presidential election show former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi winning a landslide victory. According to state media, Sisi has won 93.3 percent of the votes while his rival, left wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi, has obtained 3 percent. However, the election has been overshadowed by lower than expected voter turnout, with between 44 and 46 percent of voters estimated to have participated. As results began to emerge early Thursday morning, Sisi supporters started celebrating in the streets. Sabahi questioned the vote's legitimacy and accused soldiers and policemen of harassing his supporters at polling stations, but he appeared to concede defeat. Muslim Brotherhood members largely boycotted the election and senior MB member Tariq al-Zumar called the election process a "theatrical play which did not convince anybody."
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that Syria will miss the June 30 deadline for the complete elimination of its chemical weapons stockpile. In a May 23 letter to the U.N. Security Council, Ban noted that 7.2 percent of the regime's declared chemical arsenal remains in Syria and the government insists it doesn't have control of security in the areas where the materials are stored. He urged Syria to conclude "the remaining removal operations as quickly as possible, as the authorities have pledged to do." In a speech at West Point, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to increase support for the moderate opposition in Syria's war though U.S. officials said measures are in the early stages. Meanwhile, a U.S. citizen suspected of involvement with al-Nursa Front has conducted a suicide truck bombing in the northern Idlib province, in what is believed to be the first time an American has participated in such an attack in Syria.
- Forces loyal to former Libyan General Khalifa Heftar have bombed a base in Benghazi belonging to the February 17 Brigade, a government-funded Islamist-leaning militia.
- Cyber intelligence firm ISight Partners has reported that Iranian hackers have been using social networking sites and fake news websites to spy on U.S. and Israeli military and political leaders.
- The Israeli military suspended a soldier for involvement in the fatal shootings of two Palestinian protesters after a video showed him opening fire.
- Two Shiite activists have been convicted of attacking security forces in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province during the 2011 anti-government protests and have been sentenced to death.
Arguments and Analysis
'Egyptian Elections: First Conclusions' (Mohamed El Dahshan, Atlantic Council)
"Elections are not only judged by what occurs on D-day. In the run-up to voting, electoral silence was violated countless times. While ultimately they were not penalized for it, Sisi's campaign handed out tens of thousands of energy-saving light bulbs. They relied on state resources for his campaign, including the use of planes to drop leaflets and the army's spokesperson office as his private secretariat and its lavish hotels as meeting rooms. Caps on campaign spending, which were already increased in March, were made redundant through a loophole that limited financial donations and spending but not in-kind gifts, leading to the explosion of Sisi posters and billboards on nearly every other lamppost and sign across Cairo, gifted by wealthy supporters. As voting took place, advertising material near and even in polling stations has been ubiquitous; voter intimidation, mostly verbal and threatening, was rife-but, quite like the experience of expatriate voters in Egyptian embassies last week, it was not conducted by government or security forces, but rather by majority voters. Some pockets of strong Muslim Brotherhood influence also witnessed instances of intimidation of voters, committed by sympathizers of former president Mohamed Morsi rejecting the electoral process. In at least one instance, Brotherhood sympathizers forced shut a polling station to prevent any voting, requiring government intervention to be reopened."
'Foreign fighters don't always help' (Kristin M. Bakke, The Washington Post)
"Yet, as we have come to see in Syria, domestic rebels and the population may grow skeptical of their foreign helpers. Indeed, it is not a given that foreign fighters strengthen the domestic rebel movements they join. While foreign fighters may boost a domestic rebel movement's coercive force through added resources and expertise, they can also weaken the movement's organizational cohesion and ability to mobilize supporters by introducing new ideas about goals and tactics.
As I show in an in-depth study of the influence of foreign fighters on the Chechen separatist movement, the entry of new goals and tactics can cause divisions within the movement - and even outright defection - if local resistance leaders are not on board. The introduction of new goals and tactics can also make it more difficult for the movement leaders to garner public support."
-- Mary Casey
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images