Prime Minister Ali Zidan was seized for several hours on Thursday by former rebel militiamen angered by the recent capture of a Libyan al-Qaeda suspect by US special forces in Tripoli. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen condemned the abduction. Zidan was freed unharmed by the incident, which nevertheless underscores the lawlessness gripping the country. Zidan has repeatedly tried to distance himself from US accounts that the Libyan government gave tacit approval for the operation. Four cabinet ministers condemned the kidnapping as an attack on Libya and its people, just minutes before Zidan’s release. All ministers were taken to safety by the army following the early morning’s abduction and they held an emergency session chaired by acting Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sadiq Abdulkarim. [ReutersLibya HeraldTripoli PostNew York TimesAl Jazeera, 10/10/2013]


Arab league, OIC call for Eid ceasefire in Syria amid relentless violence
The Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday urged Syrian government forces and fighters battling President Bashar al-Assad to stage a ceasefire during the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday, which falls next week. The secretary generals of both bodies issued a joint statement calling on all warring factions to be “committed to a complete ceasefire and all acts of violence and killing of all kinds for the occasion of Eid al-Adha.” Although media coverage of street-level fighting is often eclipsed by coverage of international diplomacy, the tempo of violence across Syria remains relentless. Approximately 140 people were killed yesterday, only slightly above average. [Reuters, 10/10/13]

Syrian Kurdish leaders divided over Geneva II; urge Turkey to end support for Salafis
Representatives of the Syrian Kurdish parties, visiting with Turkish officials on Tuesday, are divided on how to participate in the anticipated peace talks, wanting to be represented independently from the opposition, but not necessarily together. Russia’s foreign minister said that the Kurds should be part of Geneva II. “We would like the opposition to represent the entire spectrum of the opponents of the regime, including the opposition which is active inside Syria such as the National Coordinating Committee and the Supreme Kurdish Council,” he said. But there are claims that the United States prefers the Kurdish National Council—which unites most Kurdish opposition groups, apart from the Democratic Union Party (PYD)—to be part of the Syrian National Coalition, rather than participate independently. The cochair of the PYD—which controls a string of mainly Kurdish-populated towns and villages in northern Syria and administers them through “popular councils”—has accused Turkey of waging a proxy war against the PYD by supporting jihadist groups in Syria. [Al Monitor, 10/10/13]

Lebanon issues warrant for Syrian colonel; Alarming video of Lebanese fighters in Syria
The military issued an arrest warrant on Thursday against a dissident Syrian colonel for forming an armed gang to carry out terrorist activities. Ahmed Amer is accused of recruiting fighters to join the war in Syria, but is not related to the arrest Wednesday of a dozen people, including a Lebanese and two Syrians, charged with plotting terrorist activities and planning assassinations. A video posted on the internet shows members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia executing wounded Syrian rebels who were captured when the Syrian town of al-Qusair was recaptured in June by the Syrian regime forces backed by Hezbollah’s army. The battle over al-Qusayr marked the first publically declared engagement of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict, with group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah vowing not to allow Syrian rebels take Syrian towns bordering Lebanon. The video is expected to revive tensions in Lebanon between the Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni Islamists supporting the Syrian uprising. [Naharnet, 10/10/12]


Cairo condemns Washington for suspending military aid
Egypt Thursday condemned a decision by the United States to suspend deliveries of major arms and cash assistance to the Egyptian government, despite assertions of continuing support for interim authorities. Washington said on Wednesday that it had halted deliveries of large-scale military systems, as well as $260 million in cash aid to the Egyptian military, amid concerns over the country’s democratic transition and mounting violence following the ouster of Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi. “The decision was wrong. Egypt will not surrender to American pressure and is continuing its path towards democracy as set by the roadmap,” foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty told a private Egyptian radio station. Tamarod member Mahmoud Abdel Aziz on his Facebook account called to suspend the peace treaty with Israel after the US partial cut of aid. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Cairo Post, Shorouk (Arabic), 10/10/2013]

Constitution to be passed to president end of November; Poll documents attitudes
In press statement Wednesday, Amr Moussa, chairman of the fifty-member committee mandated with finalising Egypt’s new constitution, disclosed that the final draft of the country’s post-June 30 charter will be complete by the end of November. According to Moussa, the current debate over the constitution has highlighted many differences, particularly over articles regulating the performance of the armed forces. “In this respect,” said Moussa, “let me emphasise that we are by no means under any pressure from the army to draft articles in a certain way.” The Egyptian centre for Public Opinion research (Baseera) conducted a poll on the extent of Egyptians’ approval of the formation of the fifty-member constitutional committee, and on the issues they deem most necessary for inclusion in the constitution, as well as their opinion on some of the constitution articles. [Ahram Online, DNE, 10/10/2013]

Successive governments fail to implement social, economic justice, says Egypt NGOs
In a joint report, 57 Egyptian NGOs said successive governments have failed to implement the demands of the people regarding human dignity, social marginalisation and justice. The report was sent to the United Nations’ committee on economic, social and cultural rights, ahead of Egypt’s annual presentation, which will take place in November. The report said authorities have not seized the opportunity to undertake important and necessary structural economic reforms amid political change. It also accused successive governments of ignoring “citizens’ legitimate demands,” and criticised the lack of transparency regarding the state’s economic policies. [Ahram Online, DNE, 10/10/2013]

Egypt plans new stimulus package in early 2014
Egypt plans a second stimulus package worth billions of dollars early next year, according to Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, trade and industry minister, as the government works to give people jobs and put money in their pockets during a tough political transition. The package will likely be equal to or larger than a 22.3 billion Egyptian pound ($3.2 billion) package announced in August. [Reuters, 10/10/2013]


Criminal investigation department officer shot dead in Derna
A member of Derna’s Criminal Investigation Department was killed by unidentified gunmen on Wednesday. According to a Derna member of the General National Congress, the town no longer has either a functioning local council or security directorate. In other signs of deteriorating security in the country, a bomb disposal expert survived an attempt on his life today when explosives were detonated under his car in Benghazi. There was also an attempt to kidnap the head of the Mizdah local council, and a child in critical condition died as roadblocks set up by militiamen stalled an ambulance rushing her to the hospital. [Libya Herald, 10/9/2013]

Libya Enterprise to be restructured
Libya Enterprise, the government agency tasked with providing business support to startups, is to be restructured. The agency will be split into five independent, regionally-based units, according to sources in Tripoli, each of which will report directly to the ministry of economy. The mission statement of Libya Enterprise is to develop a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the country and create an environment supportive of small and medium-sized enterprises. [Libya Business News, 10/9/2013]


Tunisia announces rules for transparency in national dialogue
The political parties and movements taking part in Tunisia’s national dialogue decided Wednesday on rules to ensure greater transparency at their meetings, according to an announcement made by the head of the National Bar Association, one of the mediators of the dialogue. The measures to be put in place include verbatim minutes and the audiovisual recording of the meetings, which will subsequently be handed over to the mediators’ representatives. [ANSAMed, 10/9/2013]

Five NCA deputies resign from Movement for the Republic
A National Constituent Assembly (NCA) deputy said on Wednesday that five deputies had resigned from the Movement for the Republic party following what they described as “decision monopolization and lack of consultation,” regarding the party’s adherence, together with nine other political formations, to a political alliance with the Ennahda party. The resigning deputies are Hassan Radhouani, Wissem Yassine, Romdhane Doghmani, Mouldi Zidi and Saad Bouich. [TAP, 10/9/2013]

University classes cancelled Thursday due to professors’ strike
University classes in Tunisia are scheduled to be empty Thursday following a general strike announced by the union of university professors. The professors’ union “denounces” new laws governing the distribution of grant money and the transfer of professors between universities, and advocates universities having independence from the ministry in appointing professors, according to the official Facebook page of the UGTT, Tunisia’s major labor union. [Tunisia Live, 10/9/2013]

UN reiterates commitment to continuing support for Tunisia’s transition process
Joao Honwana, director of the African Division (Southern and Eastern Africa) of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs met with Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Othman Jerandi on Wednesday in Tunis, where they discussed the progress in the country’s political process. Honwana reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to continue support to the transition and to “help provide all elements of its success,” according to a Foreign Ministry press release. [QNA, TAP, 10/9/2013]


Concluding sessions of the NDC postponed until after Eid
The presidency of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) announced on Thursday that the conference’s concluding sessions will be postponed until after the Eid which falls next week. A source in the NDC said that the delay is a result Southern Movement and Houthi boycott of the plenary session of the NDC. The groups withdrew from the talks demanding a fair solution to their competing visions of a federal structure for Yemen. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 10/10/2013]

Campaign launched to nominate Saleh’s son for president
A campaign was launched calling for the nomination of Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, son of former President Saleh, for the upcoming presidential elections, which are scheduled for after the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). Members of parties and tribes affiliated with the General People’s Congress (GPC), the party headed by former President Saleh, are seeking to collect 10 million signatures in order to nominate his son. The news comes hours after the announcement of a campaign to extend Hadi’s presidency. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 10/10/2013]

Dammaj residents accuse Houthis of killing three civilians
Residents of the Dammaj region in the North accused the Houthis of violating their peace agreement and setting off a bomb in the area, resulting in the deaths of three civilians and the wounding of another. A spokesman in Dammaj, Sorour Wadi’i, said that this incident follows a series of other attacks on Dammaj residents, including abductions, looting, and seizing mosques. Wadi’i continued that the residents of Dammaj are calling on the authorities to intervene and to hold the Houthis accountable to their agreement to cease hostilities against locals. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), Al Masdar (Arabic), 10/9/2013]

NDC presidency and UN envoy hold a special meeting to discuss Southern issue
The presidency of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) and the Consensus Committee held a special meeting on Wednesday evening with the UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar to discuss the halted debate in the southern issue subcommittee. According to state news agency Saba Net, the UN envoy briefed the others on the latest developments in the subcommittee and the role the envoy played in ‘facilitating’ the talks. He reported that the subcommittee had been ‘able to agree on a large number of issues raised during the past few days of meetings’ adding that ‘consensus on a final plan is possible.’ [Al Masdar (Arabic), 10/9/2013]


Iraq executes forty-two ‘terrorism’ convicts in a week
Over the past week Iraq has executed forty-two individuals, “who were all convicted of terrorism offenses,” the justice minister said Thursday. The European Union, the United Nations, and human rights watchdogs have condemned such widespread executions in the past. [Ahram Online, 10/10/2013]

Bahrain jails eighteen Shias for police station attack
A Bahraini court on Thursday sentenced eighteen Shias to between five and seven years in prison after they were convicted of attacking a police station last November, a judicial source said. They had been charged with “aggression” against the police, “possession of petrol bombs,” and taking part in an unauthorized protest “aiming at undermining public security.” The ruling brings the total to 122 Shias jailed since the end of September 2013 in connection with violence that began in February 2011 with a month-long uprising. [Ahram Online, 10/10/2013]

Algerian blogger to stand trial over Bouteflika cartoons
An Algerian blogger has been detained for posting cartoons mocking Algerian President Abdelaziz Boutelifka, and is due to stand trial for “contempt” and “defending terrorism,” the man’s lawyer said Wednesday.The blogger allegedly published cartoons ridiculing Bouteflika and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal on his Facebook page. [Middle East Online, 10/9/2013]