France’s foreign ministry says a Frenchman died while in police custody in the Egyptian capital. The ministry said Tuesday it was seeking details about the death of the man who Egyptian authorities say was killed by cellmates while in police custody in Cairo. Egyptian authorities close to the investigation said prosecutors began questioning the Frenchman’s cellmates on Sunday after his corpse revealed signs of bodily harm. Officials have not said if security officers at the downtown Qasr al-Nil police station where the Frenchman died are also being investigated. [APNYT, 9/17/2013]


Syria gives Russia ‘new evidence’ rebels behind chemical attack
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday after the first of two days of talks in Damascus that the Syrian regime has handed Russia new materials implicating rebels in the attack that horrified the world. He said Russia would “examine the Syrian materials implicating the rebels with the utmost seriousness.” Ryabkov criticized on Tuesday the UN report that the United States says proves the regime’s guilt as “biased and one-sided.” Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday rejected this claim, saying that, “Nobody can question the objectivity of the people (inspectors) appointed by the UN.” [Nahranet, AP, NOW Syria, 9/18/2013]

UN inspector: Team to return to Syria within weeks
The chief UN chemical weapons inspector says his team will return to Syria “within weeks” to complete the investigation it had started before the August 21 gas attack and other alleged chemical weapons attacks in the country. Ake Sellstrom said on Wednesday the team will evaluate “allegations of chemical weapons use from both sides, but perhaps mainly from the Syrian government’s side.” [AP, Daily Star, Naharnet, NOW Syria, 9/18/2013]

Jordan’s king calls for China role in Syria crisis
Jordan’s King Abdullah called on China to play an active role in resolving the conflict in Syria, saying Wednesday that Beijing should use its influence as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a “friend of Jordan and the Middle East.” Abdullah made his appeal in his opening remarks at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a state visit to China. [AP, Naharnet, NOW Syria, 9/18/2013]

Turkey warns Syria not to retaliate over helicopter downing
Turkey warned Damascus Wednesday it would “face the consequences” if it sought to avenge the downing of a Syrian military chopper this week. A car bomb exploded at Syria’s rebel-held Bab al-Hawa border crossing into Turkey on Tuesday, a day after Turkish warplanes shot down a Syrian helicopter which Ankara claimed violated its airspace. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday’s bombing did not appear to be a revenge attack. [Naharnet, NOW Syria, 9/18/2013]


Nour Party does not rule out military candidate for presidency, remains part of assembly
The Nour Party does not oppose a military candidate standing for the Egyptian presidency, according to party leader Younis Makhyoun, providing that candidate was not a supporter of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The party would accept a candidate “as long as he is not a supporter of the Mubarak regime,” Makhyoun said. “Nor should he necessarily be from the Islamist movement,” Makhyoun added. He also said that his party would only withdraw from the constituent assembly, which is entrusted with drafting amendments to Egypt’s suspended constitution, if articles addressing “Sharia and the Islamist identity of the state” are jeopardized. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 9/18/2013]

Military trial sentences four Morsi supporters to jail for breaking curfew
Two supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi were sentenced in absentia to three years by a military court for protesting during the hours of Egypt’s curfew six weeks ago. The same court sentenced two more men for two years for the same reason, and acquitted two students who were earlier incriminated in the case. [Ahram Online, DNE, 9/17/2013]

Egypt postpones decision on minimum wage
Egypt’s national minimum wage decision will be determined in January 2014, said The National Council for Wages (NCW) on Tuesday. The revision will include a roadmap aiming to restructure the wage system and fix a minimum and maximum wage. The council did not manage to change the awaited minimum wage after a three-hour meeting with several ministers, workers, and business representatives on Tuesday. [Ahram Online, 9/17/2013]


Oil production to hit 700,000 b/d by Friday: NOC board member
Executive board member of the National Oil Company, Mustafa Sanalla, projects that Libya’s oil production will rise to 700,000 barrels per day by Friday. Speaking on the sidelines of a foreign direct investment conference in London, Sanalla said that force majeure had been partially lifted on export contracts and export terminals were now working. Operations at the Sharara field in the west have resumed after the local militia agreed to reopen the pipeline valves linked to the export terminal. [Libya Herald, 9/17/13]

Very optimistic about Libya’s business potential, says UKTI Chief Executive Nick Baird
Chief executive of the UK trade and investment ministry Nick Baird said the United Kingdom is on a major export drive, including to Libya, which is a priority target market for UK export growth. The United Kingdom’s cooperation with Libya is about building a strong Libyan economy and creating jobs in diversified sectors, which will lead to political stability. Chairman of the holding company of Libyana, the larger of the two main state-owned mobile phone companies, announced Libyana will likely be privatized next year, stressing that the initial public offering would be aimed at local investors. [Libya Herald, 9/17/13]

Chief Libyan criminal investigator in east killed
A car bomb has killed the head of a criminal investigations unit in Benghazi. Imraje al-Uraibi’s car was targeted in the heart of the eastern city. He died in the hospital from his injuries. Several senior criminal investigators in Benghazi have been killed since Muammar Qaddafi’s ouster; this is the latest in a wave of targeted assassinations. [AP/Libya Herald, 9/17/13]

Derna University told to segregate sexes
Members of the local Abuslim Martyrs Brigade have told Derna University that male and female students must separated if the brigade is to provide security at the campus. According to accounts posted on Facebook, “a group of extremists stormed” the university, destroying the classrooms in protest of mixed sexes. The deputy leader of the Derna Local Council denied this in part, saying the university was “stormed by criminals” and defending the brigade for upholding Islamic law. [Libya Herald, 9/17/13]


NCA reconvenes in plenary session; will hold another session Thursday
The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) held a plenary session Tuesday, its first since Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar suspended the chamber over a month ago. The session was conducted without the fifty-nine withdrawn opposition members. Members discussed minor legislation including an agriculture cooperation bill and a law dealing with the sporting sector, Kharrat said. The NCA  will hold another plenary session Thursday to question the minister of interior and minister of justice regarding possible security lapses.The ministry of interior has come under fire after several recently-leaked documents alleged the government was aware of threats to Mohamed Brahmi’s life before his assassination. [Tunisia Live, TAP, 9/18/2013]

Tunisia union offers plan to end political crisis
Tunisia’s powerful labor union proposed a timetable on Tuesday to end the country’s political deadlock, calling for the Islamist-led government to step down in three weeks and make way for a caretaker administration to oversee elections. “We will hand the proposal to the parties involved. They should give a response in forty-eight hours. If that works out, then dialogue could start at the weekend,” a union official told Reuters. [Reuters, 9/18/2013]

Case against twenty officials implicated in the Brahmi’s assassination
Tayeb Oqaili, a member of an initiative to expose the truth about the assassination, said Wednesday on Mosaique FM that he met with a group of French lawyers to investigate the crime. Oqaili added that they prepared a complaint against twenty officials for complicity and participation in the assassination of Mohamed Brahmi. The officials hold senior positions in the ministry of the interior and public security units. [Mosaique FM (Arabic), 9/18/2013]

The new British ambassador confirms his country’s readiness to support the transition in Tunisia
The British Ambassador in Tunis, Hamish Cowell, confirmed his country’s support for Tunisia’s transitional track. He reviewed the areas of cooperation between the two countries, specifically communications and media, calling for a focus on freedom of opinion and expression. [Assabah News (Arabic), 9/18/2013]


Gunmen kill Yemen policeman in south ahead of protest
Gunmen killed a policeman in Yemen’s main southern city of Aden, where separatists were briefly arrested Wednesday ahead of a planned demonstration to demand independence, police said. “Unknown assailants on Wednesday ambushed a police patrol in Mualla (an Aden district),” according to a security official. They “hurled a homemade bomb at it and opened fire, killing a policeman.” [Daily Star, Naharnet, 9/18/2013]

Southern Issue subcommittee document in jeopardy in light of opposition’s withdrawal
The Southern Issue subcommittee did not convene on Tuesday for a final vote on the committee’s output document after the committee voted on Monday to postpone its meeting. The delay was due to the withdrawal of the General People’s Congress party representatives who disagreed with points in the document. A source in the dialogue said that former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is still insisting that representatives from his party boycott the final vote in order to block the results of the dialogue in its last days. [Al Masdar (Arabic), Mareb Press (Arabic), 9/18/2013]

Yemen will soon receive a CN-235 multi-purpose aircraft
The military attache of the Embassy of Yemen in Washington, Brigadier General Mohammad Zaid Ibrahim, confirmed that Yemen will soon receive a CN-235 aircraft. The CN-235 is a medium transport multi-purpose aircraft, which can be used for shipping and logistical support as well as tactical landing and transport. The brigadier general stressed that the plane comes within the existing framework of military cooperation between Yemen and the United States. [Al Tagheer, 9/18/2013]

Soldiers wounded by a roadside bomb targeting the vehicle of Marib security director
An explosive device placed near the car of a security director in Marib province was detonated on Tuesday, wounding six soldiers, including an officer and an explosives expert. Witnesses reported that the unknown explosive device was detonated near the car of Security Director Hamid Darrab in a military hospital district in a central city of Marib. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 9/17/2013]


Bahrain opposition boycotts talks after ex-MP’s arrest
Bahraini opposition groups said Wednesday that they have suspended their participation in national reconciliation talks aimed at ending the kingdom’s political impasse, following the arrest of a prominent Shiite ex-MP, Khalil Marzooq. [Ahram Online, 9/18/2013]

Iraq’s leaders set to sign honor code in the absence of Talabani
Iraqi Vice President Khodair al-Khozaei has announced that the leaders of Iraq and the country’s political blocs will sign a “national honor code” on Thursday, in an attempt to end the country’s political crisis. The signing will take place as part of a conference of representatives from across the political spectrum. “The conference will work to find the appropriate solutions for the pending crises and problems gripping the country,” Khozaei said. [Asharq Al-Awsat, 9/18/2013]

Jordan jails journalists for posting video that offends Qatari royals
Two Jordanian journalists were arrested on Wednesday after posting on their news website a video deemed offensive to the brother of Qatar’s emir, according to a judicial official. “They were charged with carrying out acts that the government does not approve and that would expose Jordan and its citizens to the risk of acts of aggression,” the official said. [Al Akhbar, 9/18/2013]