Any US military action taken in response to apparent chemical weapons attacks in Syria would need to be approved by the United Nations Security Council, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday. Britain will submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members condemning suspected chemical attacks in Syria and demanding “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.


Egypt backs away from plan to dissolve Muslim Brotherhood
Egypt should not ban the Muslim Brotherhood or exclude it from the political process after the army’s overthrow of Mohammed Morsi, the interim prime minister said on Tuesday, in a softening of state rhetoric against the Islamist group. The apparent about-turn adds to speculation that the government is beginning to prepare for a possible political settlement to the crisis. [Egypt Independent, Reuters, 8/28/2013]

UNESCO to help Egypt restore damaged churches, buildings
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will send a technical team of experts to help Egypt restore buildings with archaeological value and damaged mosques and churches, said Mohamed Sameh, Egypt’s ambassador to the UNESCO. Sameh, Egypt’s permanent envoy to the UNESCO, said the delegation will work in cooperation with experts from the ministry of antiquities to assess the size of the damage done to a number of mosques, churches, monasteries and buildings of great archaeological value in Egypt. [Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2013]

Egypt to launch economic stimulus plan
Egypt’s interim cabinet will approve a plan on Wednesday to stimulate the economy over the next nine months, al-Ahram newspaper quoted Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi as saying. The government has said it plans to avoid raising taxes or cutting spending to reduce the country’s mushrooming budget deficit, and instead will use aid pledged by Gulf Arab states to spur growth. The stimulus plan involves providing additional investments of at least 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.4 billion), al-Arabi said. [Reuters, 8/28/2013]]

Egypt calls for political, not military solutions in Syria
Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said that Egypt stands by the Syrian people, and that the crisis should be solved politically and not through violence, the state-run EGYNews reported on Tuesday. Egypt’s position on a US-led attack on Syria remains to be seen as relations between the two countries have soured following the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 8/27/2013]


Libya national dialogue initiative criticized
The national dialogue initiative announced Sunday by Prime Minister Ali Zidan has come under fire by some groups claiming that the government did not consult enough with important actors about the endeavor. According to a spokesman for the Libyan Cities and Tribal Gathering (LCTG), authorities did not contact the group about how to conduct a national dialogue to ensure its success, adding that the LCTG had called for such an initiative and proposed a roadmap forward back in July. [Tripoli Post, 8/27/13]

Libya’s oil chaos deepens as armed group shuts pipeline
Libya’s largest western oil fields closed when an armed group shut down the pipeline linking them to ports. It is estimated that this latest development would reduce Libyan oil output to just under 200,000 barrels per day. Deputy Oil Minister Omar Shakmak said it is up to the defense ministry “to fix this,” saying it is a third party and not the protesting oil workers or dissatisfied Petroleum Facilities Guard members as in the east who are behind the latest disruption. [Reuters, 8/27/13]

Compensation claims filed “in the garbage bin” say angry Misratans
Traffic near the General National Congress (GNC) was brought to a standstill Tuesday when hundreds of people from the city of Misrata who lost property in the siege of the city during the 2011 uprising took to the streets demanding that the GNC speed up the compensation process. According to Libya’s Liberation War Victims Association, there are over 10,000 claims from various parts of the country, including Misrata, of property and belongings lost during the revolution. [Libya Herald, 8/27/13]

Libya to try Qaddafi’s son next month
Qaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, and his spy chief, Abdullah al Senussi, were charged on Tuesday with murder in relation to the country’s 2011 uprising and are set to stand trial, which will begin on September 19, according to the country’s general prosecutor. The International Criminal Court earlier this summer said Libya cannot give the dictator’s son a fair trial, calling on authorities to turn him over to The Hague. Seif al-Islam remains held by a militia group in Zintan. Senussi’s daughter, who is set to be released from prison after serving ten months for entering Libya on a false passport, says she will try to help her father. [AP, 8/27/13]


Brahimi says military intervention in Syria would need UN approval
Any US military action taken in response to apparent chemical weapons attacks in Syria would need to be approved by the United Nations Security Council, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday. Britain will submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members condemning suspected chemical attacks in Syria and demanding “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. [Reuters, Al Jazeera, 8/28/2013]

Biden: No doubt Syrian regime used nerve agent
US Vice President Joe Biden said there is no doubt that Syria’s government was responsible for a recent chemical attack in Damascus. Biden’s comments on Tuesday made him the highest-ranking US official to say the Syrian government was behind the alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed at least 355 people and injured more than 3,000. [Al Jazeera, 8/28/2013]

UN experts inspect second Syria chemical attack site
UN inspectors on Wednesday inspected a second site on the outskirts of the Syrian capital suspected of being hit by a deadly chemical weapons attack last week.They later arrived in the Eastern Ghouta area on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus under the protection of rebel fighters. [Al Arabiya, 8/28/2013]

US intelligence says intercepted call proves Syrian regime used nerve gas
Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by US intelligence services. [Foreign Policy, 8/27/2013]


Political crisis weakens Tunisian economy
Central Bank of Tunisia Governor Chedly Ayari says that the Tunisian economy is facing real difficulties due to the political and security crisis gripping the country. The latest official figures indicate that foreign investments dropped by 1.3 percent in the first half of 2013, compared to a year ago, and the trade deficit has worsened. Economic and political observers believe the situation could reach a catastrophic stage, which government officials have dismissed, describing the current economic situation as temporary. [Magharebia, 8/27/13]

Ennahdha leader postpones law banning former regime politicians
Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi says he will postpone discussion of a controversial draft Law for the Protection of the Revolution until an unspecified later date. The proposed law would bar members of the former regime from running for public office for certain periods of time. Opposition parties, including Nidaa Tounes, have condemned the draft law, considering it a means of eliminating Ennahdha’s political competitors. The controversial Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution, however, has vowed to continue to push for the law’s passage. [Tunisia Live, 8/27/13]

Interior minister calls for the pursuit of a political dialogue and supporting law enforcement
In his opening remarks at a press conference on Wednesday, Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou appealed to Tunisians to take various measures to help the country out of the current political and economic crisis. He called on all political groups to pursue dialogue and asked citizens to support law enforcement efforts to drive out terrorists. Jeddou also called for strict enforcement of human rights laws, notably advising not to conflate terrorists with Salafis. [L’Economiste Maghrebine (French), 8/28/13]


Four people killed in an explosion in Bayda
Four people were killed in a violent explosion that shook an unpopulated area in the central province of Bayda. A local official stated that the explosion occurred Tuesday afternoon in a nearby market located in the city of Rada in Bayda province. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 08/27/2013]

Five abducted Yemeni officers killed in Syria
Mohammed Hamzi announced today that he received information over five months ago that five Yemeni officers were killed when their detention facility was bombed by the Syrian regime’s forces.  Hamzi is the member of parliament who chaired a committee tasked with negotiating with the Syrian armed group that kidnapped five Yemenis officers. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 08/28/2013]

President Hadi chairs meeting of conciliation group in NDC
President Hadi chaired a meeting of the conciliation group at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). He emphasized that all teams in the NDC are keen to achieve success and create a model respected at the international level. [NDC (Arabic), 8/28/2013]

Yemen in need of $14 billion as economy relies on donor assistance
Yemen hopes to receive billions more dollars in aid as it prepares for the upcoming Friends of Yemen meeting with potential donor countries in New York in September 2013. The aid will be used in counter-terrorism efforts as well as in assisting the country with its political transition and development projects. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 08/28/2013]


Low turnout in Jordan municipal elections
Jordan’s municipal elections drew a poor turnout Tuesday with the impact of a huge refugee influx from neighbouring Syria on a struggling economy stoking voter resentment and apathy.The Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition party, boycotted the polls. It charged that, despite repeated promises since the Arab Spring of 2011, there is no real readiness for change. [Middle East Online, 8/27/2013]

Suleiman renews calls for disassociation policy
President Michel Suleiman renewed Wednesday a call for Lebanon to remain out of regional conflicts in light of the tensions in the country over repeated security incidents. He also called on the various politicians to put national interests above all others. [Daily Star, 8/28/2013]

Attack kills sixty-six in Iraq
A coordinated wave of bombings tore through Shiite Muslim areas in and around the Iraqi capital early Wednesday, part of a wave of bloodshed that killed at least sixty-six people and wounded many more. It was not immediately clear who carried out the attacks. [USA Today, Al Arabiya, 8/28/2013]