The leaders of a movement for self-rule in Cyrenaica unilaterally announced Thursday the formation of a shadow government, the latest challenge to the weakened central authority. The central government in Tripoli had rejected a declaration by the movement months earlier that declared the eastern half of Libya to be an autonomous state, and had no immediate comments on Thursday. Abdraba Abdulhameed al-Barasi, Cyrenaica’s new “prime minister,” said the reason for the move was because the central authorities “have failed and have shown incompetence and corruption.” [Libya Herald, AP/Washington Post 10/24/2013]



State news agency reports ‘limited’ pro-Morsi protests Friday after prayers 
Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported that “limited” rallies in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi kicked off from several Mosques in Greater Cairo on Friday, marking the beginning of what a Brotherhood-led coalition said would be a week of protests. MENA said small rallies started from Maadi and Nasr City in Cairo and the Giza and Mohandesseen districts in Giza, among other areas. Security forces locked down areas of central Cairo ahead of the planned pro-Muslim Brotherhood marches, closing down main squares including Tahrir, Raba’a al-Adaweya and al-Nahda. Morsi supporters have also called on Egyptians to hold mass protests on November 4, the day the deposed president goes on trial for inciting murder, raising the prospect of more bloodshed as the country’s political crisis drags on. [Reuters, Ahram Online, AP, Egypt Independent, 10/25/2013]

Sources say Moussa, Sisi discussed army’s part in Constitution behind closed doors
Amr Moussa and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed constitutional articles relating to Egypt’s armed forces in a closed-door meeting, according to sources inside the Constituent Assembly, which Moussa heads. The Egyptian rights group ‘No to Military Trials for Civilians’ also said that the army is exerting pressure on Egypt’s constitution amending committee to refrain from abolishing articles that allow for the prosecution of civilians in military tribunals. The group claimed that during a previous session a majority of the 50-committee were against trying civilians in army courts, but that the army had increased pressure on members and the head of the committee following what the group felt had been a positive hearing.[Egypt Independent 10/24/2013, Ahram Online 10/25/2013]

State Commissioner’s Authority report recommends retrial of Bassem Youssef
Egypt’s State Commissioner’s Authority has recommended overturning the court ruling to dismiss the case against satirist Bassem Youssef for allegedly insulting the president, arguing that as a symbol of the state, the president should not be insulted. In the report issued on Thursday, the Authority, which is part of Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court, said that regardless of the president in power, this position must be protected “for what it represents to Egyptians.” The report also said that when deposed President Mohamed Morsi announced in April he would not pursue the prosecution of Youssef, Morsi betrayed his duty as Egyptian president and tarnished the image of his position. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent 10/24/2013]

Egypt’s gross domestic debt jumps 24 percent in fiscal year 2012/13
Egypt’s gross domestic debts rose by almost 24 percent in the fiscal year 2012/13, reaching EGP 1.5 trillion (approximately 217.8 billion dollars), according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) September bulletin. CBE added that gross domestic debts amounted to 87.5 percent of the GDP for the same fiscal year. Egypt’s external debts registered some 43.2 billion dollars at the end of fiscal year 2012/13, representing an approximate 25 percent rise from the previous fiscal year, 2011/12. [Ahram Online, SIS, 10/24/2013]


Amazigh threaten to black-list participants in Constitutional Committee elections
Any Amazigh who tries to stand for election to Libya’s Constitutional Committee will be considered a traitor, Amazigh representatives announced after a meeting Wednesday that included revolutionary commanders and other community figures. They added that members of the community who took part in any aspect of the Constitutional Committee or municipal elections, either by standing as a candidate, organizing them, or voting in them, would not be representing Amazigh society and would be “black-listed” and “considered a traitor to the Tamazight cause.” [Libya Herald, 10/24/2013]

Two car bombs defused in Benghazi
Two explosive devices were discovered and defused in Benghazi on Thursday, including one beneath a car belonging to a middle-ranking police officer. The other device, consisting of two suitcases of explosives, was found under the Lathama Bridge near the Benghazi district of Sabri. On Wednesday, a car bomb was found and defused outside a Tripoli West power station in Janzour. [Libya Herald, 10/24/2013]


130,000 flee north Syria amid heavy bombing
Tens of thousands of people have escaped from the al-Safira district in northern Syria since October 8, fleeing non-stop heavy bombing in a “massive exodus,” Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Friday. The non-governmental organization, which has staff on the ground in the conflict-ridden country, said that 130,000 people had fled the district in the northern province of Aleppo, including almost all those who lived in the town of al-Safira. Many of those in Safira had escaped violence in other parts of the country and were now displaced again, just as winter approaches. MSF also deplored the targeting of medical establishments, citing a field hospital that was destroyed by a barrel of TNT thrown from a helicopter on October 21. [AFP, 10/25/2013]

Besieged areas of Homs cut off from food supply
A Syrian army siege of rebel areas in the city of Homs has trapped some 3,000 civilians in remaining rebel-held neighborhoods for more than 500 days, and hundreds of families are in need of urgent food aid. A few weeks ago, “the last remaining tunnels the rebels were using to bring in supplies were discovered by the army and destroyed. Now, all the people have to eat is what they had in storage,” said an activist. “The days when we had one meal a day are gone. Now we have barely even that.” He warned the severe shortages of food including sugar and other sources of energy were causing diseases to spread in the besieged neighborhoods. “Most people in the siege are malnourished. You can tell by the way people look and move. More and more people have a low (disease-fighting) white blood cell count and jaundice. Common illnesses like the flu spread quickly. People are weak. All we have is bulgur to eat. We’re eating one kind of food day in, day out.” [AFP, 10/25/2013]

At least twenty-two people suspected of contracting polio; alarm over rise in disease due to civil war
At least twenty-two people are suspected of having polio in Syria, the first outbreak of the crippling viral disease in fourteen years, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. Most of those stricken with acute flaccid paralysis, a symptom of diseases including polio, in Deir al-Zor province are children under the age of two, and more than 100,000 children under the age of five are deemed at risk of polio in the eastern province. The outbreak has sparked renewed alarm at the collapse of healthcare caused by the country’s civil war. Doctors in Syria are also seeing a flare-up of typhoid, hepatitis, and the flesh-eating parasite, leishmaniasis, blamed partly on the inability to administer a proper vaccination program and partly on poor living conditions and much-reduced access to health care. [Reuters, Telegraph, 10/24/2013]

Norway rejects US request to destroy Syrian chemical arms
Norway rejected on Friday a US request to help destroy Syria’s chemical arms, arguing that the Nordic nation was an unsuitable site because it lacked suitable staff, equipment, and regulations. Washington asked NATO-member Norway last month to help destroy some of Syria’s chemical arsenal in a deal brokered with Moscow. The Norwegian foreign ministry said the country had given “serious and thorough consideration” to the US request but Norway lacked equipment and that Norwegian law would ban storage of the waste. [Reuters, NYT, 10/25/13]


National dialogue to start today, mediator reports
Tunisia’s national dialogue will start today after it was postponed Wednesday following alleged terrorist attacks that killed eight police officers, according to the president of the national Bar Association, one of the mediators of the political talks. On Thursday evening, interim Prime Minister Ali Larayedh insisted that his government will step down within the time limit set in the roadmap governing the dialogue, and an opposition party leader stated that Larayedh’s coalition government “has promised, in a written document sent to [national dialogue mediators], to resign within three weeks.” Larayedh’s Ennahda party office in the town of Kef was torched by angry protesters on Thursday, an AFP photographer reported, amid protests calling for the government to resign. [TAP, 10/25/2013]

Political parties, independents in talks to form political front, common parliamentary bloc
Political parties partaking in Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA), including the Congress for the Republic (CpR), the al-Mahaba Movement, the Democratic Movement, and the Wafa Movement as well as independent deputies have entered into negotiations to form a political front and a common parliamentary group that would include thirty-five deputies. [TAP, 10/24/2013]

Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia chief captured
Tunisian security forces last night captured al-Khatib al-Idrissi, who is thought to be the chief of outlawed Islamist militia group Ansar al-Shariah Tunisia, sources said Friday. Idrissy was captured in the central town of Sidi Ali Ben Aoun, where Islamist militias killed six national guardsmen on Wednesday. [ANSAMed, 10/25/2013]

Violence continues in Tunis; one killed in police clash with militants
Suspected Islamist militants exchanged gunfire with security forces in Tunis on Friday, killing one person and wounding three, Al Arabiya television reported. “A terrorist was hit in the head, another arrested and one is on the run,” a policeman involved in the clash outside a school in the Ennasr City district said, asking not to be named. Tunisian police also found a car bomb readied for detonation in the central city of Sidi Bouzid on Thursday. [Al Arabiya, 10/25/2013]


Yemen intelligence officer gunned down in Sanaa; AQAP warns Yemen
Gunmen shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer outside his Sanaa home Thursday, according to a police official. The unidentified assailants in a vehicle “opened fire at Colonel Abdulrahman al-Shami, killing him as he was leaving his house” in central Sanaa, the source said, adding that the gunmen sped off. The attack came two days after Yemeni security forces foiled an attempt by some 300 al-Qaeda inmates to escape in a mutiny at their intelligence-run Sanaa prison. In a YouTube video on Thursday, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) warned its response will be “painful” if Yemeni authorities punish prisoners who staged the failed escape from prison. [Ahram Online, Al Arabiya, 10/25/2013]

Saudi Arabia cuts aid to Yemen amid political instability
Amid political instability and talks of secession from Hirak leaders, Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal, former Saudi ambassador the US, confirmed that Riyadh had decided to put all aid to Yemen on hold, pending a political settlement. “All aid is on hold, until the country settles down,” he told officials at a conference in New York earlier this week. [Yemen Post, 10/24/2013]

NDC conciliation committee proposes alternative article for political isolation
The conciliation committee for Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) proposed a new alternative article on the matter of political isolation, which has been disputed by the various parties in the NDC. The working group on good governance raised the issue of a political isolation article to the conciliation committee because members could not reach an agreement. Previously, the General People’s Congress had withdrawn from meetings on the issue and declared its refusal to discuss the topic.  [Al Masdar (Arabic), Al Tagheer (Arabic), 10/24/2013]

Hirak NDC participation depends on fulfillment of southern demands
The group of eighty-five Hirak representatives in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) announced the continued suspension of their participation in the conference. They said they would not attend any meetings until their previous demands are satisfied. The decision is binding for all Hirak participants in the NDC according to a press release from a meeting of the representatives in Aden on Wednesday. Meeting participants also signed a pledge to uphold what they called “the national principles of the South, including the option for the people of the South to restore a free and independent southern nation with full sovereignty.” [Mareb Press (Arabic), 10/24/2013]


Video: Unemployed Moroccans block convoy of Islamist PM
Crowds of unemployed Moroccan graduates blocked the convoy of Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane in the capital Rabat on Wednesday demanding his resignation for failing to give them promised jobs. The incident prompted security forces to intervene and clear the way for Benkirane, who is facing growing public anger after a series of unpopular measures, including a recent rise of fuel prices. [Al Arabiya, 10/25/2013]

Party official says Algeria’s Bouteflika to curb security service power
Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika wants to push through constitutional reforms before the 2014 elections to put an end to the role of the country’s powerful Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS) as political kingmaker, the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party’s chairman said. FLN chairman Amar Saidani told Reuters Bouteflika was determined to create a “civil society” and limit the political influence of the DRS. [Reuters, 10/24/2013]

Trial of Kuwait scholar in sectarian controversy postponed
A court in Kuwait on Thursday adjourned the trial of local scholar Abdullah al-Nafissi on charges of targeting the Shiite sect and the country’s national unity to November 7. The case was the first to be considered by the court under the national unity law and its provisions that stipulated penalties and fines, local news site Al Aan reported. [Gulf News, 10/24/2013]