Heavy fighting erupted throughout Tripoli on Tuesday between militias using rifles, grenades, and anti-aircraft weapons. It is the worst violence the capital has experienced in weeks. The shooting started when a militia member was detained at a checkpoint and fellow fighters arrived trying to free him, according to a militia source. The militiamen belonged to a brigade that fought in Misrata during the 2011 uprising. Reports indicate two people were wounded in the shoot-out. [Reuters, AFP/Daily Star, 11/5/2013]


Egypt deviated from democratic path under Morsi, says deputy PM
Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa-Eldin said on an interview with CNN Monday that Egypt had deviated from the “proper path to democracy,” linking the deviation to ousted president Mohamed Morsi’s tumultuous year in power. Bahaa-Eldin urged all political players in Egypt not to lose sight of “what is essential” to the people, which he said included an “economic recovery and the preservation of the democratic path.” As he reiterated his calls for an inclusive political process that embraces “various political parties,” the senior official clarified that “those who committed crimes” would be excluded, in reference to Brotherhood members currently facing multiple charges of incitement to violence. Meanwhile, Bahaa-Eldin, has suggested a referendum on the new constitution could be put forward as early as December. The constitution could be put to referendum in late December or early January next year, Bahaa-Eldin announced, to be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, CNN (Video), Shorouk (Arabic), 11/5/2013]

Nour Party opposes gender equality in Egypt constitution
Nour Party objects to an article in the draft constitution which defines equality between men and women, Salah Abdel-Maaboud said on Monday. In a statement on Monday, Abdel-Maaboud said the subcommittee finalising articles on the basic elements of the state had agreed on ten out of 11 articles, but disagreed on the one related to gender equality (Article 11). Abdel-Maaboud said his party objected to the phrasing as it would open the door for a women’s quota in parliament, which it is against. The fifty-member constituent assembly has removed two controversial wordings from articles in Egypt’s constitution. The committee removed the term “civil” from the constitution’s first article and the term “al-Azhar reference” dealing with sharia articles from the fourth article. The wording in articles two and three remain unchanged. Committee member Mohamed Ghoneim said all materials on the “identity” of the state have been approved. [Ahram Online, Ahram Gate (Arabic), Tahrir (Arabic), Egypt Independent, 11/5/2013]

Courts must be transparent, says US official; UN, Turkey urges Morsi’s release
US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf has stressed that Egyptian courts must provide fair, transparent trials. Civilians should also be tried in civilian courts, Harf suggested, following months of controversy in Egypt that civilians could continue to be tried and convicted in military courts. Both the United States and the United Nations have called on Egypt to release political prisoners. Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the Secretary General of the United Nations, called for the release of toppled President Mohamed Morsi and other political detainees in Egypt. Turkey has also reiterated calls for the release of the deposed president, saying it would help promote rapprochement between the authorities and Islamists. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Shorouk (Arabic), 11/5/2013]

Total investments dropped 3.7 % during Morsi’s era, report
Total investments slipped to 248.6 billion EGP, registering a 3.7 percent decline, under the rule of former President Mohamed Morsi, according to the Economic Performance Follow-up Report, released on Tuesday. According to the report, which was issued by the Ministry of Planning, the general investment rate also declined to 14.2 percent, compared to the 16.4 percent in the year before, with no foreign investments at all. The saving gap hit 7 percent during 2012-2013, with the domestic saving rate dropping  to 7.2 percent compared to 8 percent the year before and 13 percent during 2010-2011. [Cairo Post, 11/5/2013]


Striking teachers blockade Zawiya refinery
A week-long strike by teachers in Zawiya has evolved into a blockade of the town’s refinery. The striking teachers have been demanding the payment of allowances that they say have been due since April. On Monday, they used vehicles to block the main entrance to the refinery, allowing employees out of the plant but not letting anyone back in. The facility has the capacity to process 125,000 barrels per day of crude and is the main supplier to Tripoli. [Libya Herald, 11/4/2013]

New military governor to secure Benghazi, says minister of defense
At a special session of the General National Congress (GNC), Defense Minister Abdullah al-Thini explained that a military governor is in the process of being appointed to oversee security issues in Benghazi. Al-Thini did not name the appointee for security reasons, although GNC members later named Colonel Awad al-Saiti. A new security force of 1,500 additional military personnel are also to be stationed throughout the city under the command of the Benghazi Joint Security Room. Justice Minister Salah Marghani, also summoned by the GNC, said that judges in Benghazi are threatened almost daily and until now have had no one to protect them. Later al-Thini asserted that progress is being made in the formation of a national army, in his first media appearance since his appointment in August. [Libya Herald, 11/4/2013]

Drug problems rise as street prices plummet
Libya’s drug problem is worsening as street prices for drugs are plummeting since the revolution, according to head of the Supreme Security Committee Hashim Bishr. Although he did not specify which drugs are being purchased – some for as little as a quarter of a dinar per tablet – the painkiller Tramadol is frequently sold on the streets but is illegal in Libya. Two million tablets were seized at the Egyptian border last month. Some security personnel appear to be involved in smuggling drugs across Libya’s land borders, and Bishr says some major drug dealers outside of Libya want to make the North African country a base from which to reexport to other countries. [Libya Herald, 11/5/2013]


Forty percent of Syrians need humanitarian assistance; 6.5 million homeless
The United Nations warned Monday of a major rise in homeless numbers in Syria, and called for greater UN Security Council pressure to seek access to the war-stricken nation. The UN humanitarian chief told the Council that 9.3 million people now need outside help to survive, up from 6.8 million in September, and 6.5 million are now homeless inside the country, up from 4.25 million. The United Nations estimates more than 2.2 million people have fled to neighboring countries and the figure will be above three million by the end of the year. The cost of hosting more than 500,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan for this year and 2014 is estimated at $5.3 billion, UN documents showed Monday. [AFP, The Guardian, 11/4/2013]

Iranian commander killed in Syria
An Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guards was killed in Syria by “terrorists” while defending “oppressed Syrian people” near Damascus. The Mehr news agency said commander Mohammad Jamali Paqale, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, had recently volunteered to “defend a Shiite shrine” near the Syrian capital. Jamali hailed from the same outfit that had trained General Qassem Soleimani, who now heads the elite special operations Quds Force. The Quds Force is accused by Western and Arab governments as well as Syrian opposition groups of orchestrating Iran’s alleged military backing of the Assad regime. Tehran says it has provided Damascus with material and intelligence support but denies having sent combat troops to aid the regime. [Naharnet, 11/4/2013]
Syria Kurds rout jihadists across northeast; Regime continues strikes in central north
Kurdish fighters have driven jihadists from nineteen towns and villages across northeastern Syria in recent days, a week after capturing a key Iraqi border crossing. The Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People, the main Kurdish militia in Syria, has battled other rebel groups in a bid to carve out an autonomous region in the northeast, where the army is no longer deployed. To the west, in Raqqa Province, where the regime continues to battle rebels, three airstrikes destroyed the main electricity station, cutting power to seventy percent of Raqq City. Across Syria, more than 220 people were reported killed over the weekend. [AFP, 11/4/2013]

Field hospital reports sixty percent of children have anemia; Government vows health drive
Field medical clinics south of the capital Damascus conducted blood tests on children of the area and reported that sixty percent of children have anemia because of malnutrition. A senior Syrian official vowed Monday that authorities would vaccinate the country’s children against polio after ten cases emerged in the northeast, saying the government would work with international organizations to ensure even rebel-held areas were reached. [Al Jazeera, 11/4/2013]


Tunisia leaders deadlocked on new prime minister, talks suspended
Talks between Tunisian political leaders were suspended indefinitely late on Monday after failing to reach a consensus on a new prime minister. The suspension will hold “until there are favorable grounds for talks to succeed,” said Houcine Abassi, head of the Tunisian General Labor Union mediating the crisis. The two frontrunners for premier are opposition-backed seventy-nine year-old Mohamed Ennaceur, and eighty-eight year-old Ahmed Mestiri, supported by Ennahda and its allies. The opposition says Mestiri is too old and would be a puppet in the hands of Ennahda, which in turn insists he can strike a balance between the rival sides. “We don’t see any alternative to Ahmed Mestiri,” Ennahda chief Rached Ghannouchi said. Ghannouchi also said the dialogue had been suspended but not for long and is expected to resume shortly in view of its importance for the country. [Al Arabiya, 11/5/2013]

Parties debate amendments to NCA internal rules
The plenary session on amendments to the internal rules of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) resumed work on Monday afternoon in “a tense atmosphere,” according to state news agency TAP. Ennahda and the Congress for the Republic promoted amendments to several articles governing the organization of plenary sessions and meetings of the NCA Bureau, saying the changes are needed to speed up adoption of the constitution. However, the Democratic bloc and Ettakatol, along with the Tunisian Movement for Freedom and Dignity, saw “abuse” in the proposed amendments. Deputies of the Democratic Bloc walked out of the session while Ettakatol’s deputies rejected the amendments. [TAP, 11/4/2013]

Interior ministry investigating death of man in police custody
Tunisia’s interior ministry is investigating the death of a man who died at a local hospital a few hours after being arrested by police on Friday. The ministry said on Sunday it was awaiting the autopsy report of the medical examiner to determine the cause of death of Walid Denguir, and Tunisia Live reported that the ministry had acknowledged that excessive force during an interrogation led to Denguir’s death. Family members say his body showed signs of torture. Human Rights Watch also called for a “thorough and independent criminal investigation” into Denguir’s death.  [Tunisia Live, 11/4/2013]


Ceasefire between Salafis and Houthis collapses
Sectarian fighting has reignited between Houthi rebels and Salafis in northern Yemen, shortly after a cease-fire allowed the evacuation of the critically wounded, both sides said Tuesday. “The ceasefire collapsed after few hours,” Houthi spokesman Ali al-Boukhaiti said. He accused foreign Salafis of violating the truce in Dammaj announced on Monday by the UN special envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar. A spokesman for the Salafis Houthis of violating the ceasefire. “The truce lasted only two hours, due to the Houthis’ intransigence,” Surour al-Wadi’i said by telephone from Dammaj. Al-Wadi’i also reported that renewed clashes in the region left four dead on Monday. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), Al Arabiya, AP, 11/5/2013]

Attacks in Shabwa and Mareb target oil and electricity transmission lines
Unidentified gunmen bombed a crude oil pipeline in the Shabwa province in eastern Yemen on Monday. The pipeline transports oil to a port in al-Nashama in southern Yemen for export. The explosion, carried out by suspected al-Qaeda militants, caused a leak in the pipeline, preventing the transport of crude oil for export, and thus diminishing Yemen’s oil revenues. In addition, the electricity lines in Marib were attacked on Tuesday for the second time in twenty-four hours. Suspected terrorists who carried out the attack interrupted electricity service in Sana’a. [Yemen Post, Al Masdar (Arabic), Mareb Press (Arabic), 11/5/2013]

Hirak boycott of Southern Issue subcommittee holds; Subcommittee members seek guidance
The 8+8 subcommittee tasked with finding solutions to the Southern Issue met on Monday amid the continued boycott of members from the General People’s Congress and the Southern Hirak. At the meeting, attended by UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar and NDC Secretary General Ahmed bin Mubarak, the committee decided to ask the NDC presidenct to determine how best to encourage the resumption of the committee’s work so that the group can continue its discussions and resolve the Southern Issue. In addition, southern leader Mohammed Ali Ahmed met with Benomar on Sunday to discuss the Hirak’s boycott of the subcommittee meetings. Ahmed said that members of the Hirak feel that “the previous regime [of Ali Abudllah Saleh] is still in control and is attempting to undermine the work of Southerners.” He stressed the South’s right to self-determination and independence. [NDC (Arabic), Al Tagheer (Arabic), 11/4/2013]

Benomar assures Yemeni women of UN support
UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar has said the success of the country rests on its ability to engage and empower women during all stages of the dialogue and transition. The statement from Benomar came during his meeting with female leaders and representatives participating in the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). At the meeting, the women representatives told Benomar their demands for participation in the constitution drafting-committee and the Consensus Committee. In response, Benomar said, “We insisted that women should make up 30 percent of representatives in all NDC committees and the government.” [SABA, 11/4/2013]


Thousands arrested as Saudi Arabia’s grace period for illegal workers ends
Inspection squads from the ministries of labor and interior on Monday started massive raids across Saudi Arabia to catch labor and residency law violators following the end of the amnesty period. According to sources, thousands of individuals were apprehended in various regions of the kingdom. “The field security campaign, in coordination with the labor ministry, will take place in all cities, provinces, villages and rural towns,” interior ministry spokesman Major-General Mansour Turki said in a statement on Sunday. [Al Arabiya, 11/5/2013]

Iraq sets parliamentary poll for April 30
Iraq will hold a general election on April 30 after lawmakers agreed on polling regulations Monday, setting a marker that officials hope could end political deadlock fueling a surge in violence. The poll will come amid concern that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has amassed too much power, and criticism from voters over rampant corruption, poor basic services and high unemployment despite swelling government coffers thanks to rising oil exports. [Al Arabiya, 11/5/2013]

Israel, Palestinians grim on peace talks before Kerry visit
Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Tuesday the three-month-old peace talks pressed on them by Washington are going nowhere, painting a grim picture for a visit this week by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Few details have emerged from negotiating sessions held at unannounced times and at secret locations in line with pledges to keep a lid on leaks. But both sides have been airing their frustration over a lack of progress in the US-brokered talks aimed at resolving core issues such as the borders of a Palestinian state, security arrangements, the future of Israeli settlements in occupied territory and the fate of Palestinian refugees. [Al Arabiya, 11/5/2013]