A new report released Friday by Human Rights Watch documents an August massacre perpetrated by jihadist rebels against members of Syria’s minority Alawite sect in Latakia and surrounding villages. In a coordinated attack, numerous rebel groups fought off a small garrison of government troops and swept into the villages, killing 190 people. At least sixty-seven of the dead appeared to have been shot or stabbed while unarmed or fleeing, including forty-eight women and eleven children. More than 200 civilians are still being held hostage. [NYTHRW, 10/11/13]


Hezbollah and Iraqi fighters help regime capture Damascus suburb; Foreign fighters proliferate 
Iraqi and Lebanese Shia fighters backed by Syrian army firepower overran a southern suburb of Damascus on Wednesday, killing at least seventy, in a blow to Sunni Muslim rebels trying to hold onto strategic outskirts of the capital. At least twenty rebels were killed when Hezbollah guerrillas and Iraqi militiamen captured the town of Sheikh Omar under cover of Syrian army artillery and tank fire and aerial bombardment with tens of Shia fighters killed or wounded. Highlighting the presence of foreign fighters in Syria, a French citizen fighting alongside al-Qaeda affiliated armed rebels has carried out a suicide bombing against an army position in Aleppo province, killing ten soldiers. [Reuters, Al Arabiya, 10/10/13]

Internet service restored to Aleppo
Internet service has been restored to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, with a renewed connection to Turkey’s largest telecommunications provider, according to Internet monitoring company Renesys. Aleppo’s connectivity wobbled in August as users reported outages amid Syria’s continuing civil war. Renesys, which monitors global connections between Internet service providers, noticed disruptions between Turk Telecom and the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE), which primarily affected Aleppo. It hasn’t been clear if the outages in Aleppo were the result of government action through STE, or as one press report indicated, caused by the rebels. [IDG News Service, The New Republic, 10/11/13]


Pro-Morsi alliance backtracks on Tahrir march, denies political deal
Kamal Abul Magd, an islamist thinker and constitutional scholar, revealed negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood that entailed ending the acts of violence against the police and army, halting regular protests, and relinquishing the demand to return ousted-president Mohammed Morsi to power. Magdi Qarqar, a leading figure in the National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy, has denied that the group’s decision not to march on Tahrir Square on Friday was part of a maneuver for a political deal. Qarqar also said the decision is not the result of divisions within the alliance. “We will continue to demonstrate,” he said. “All our decisions are calculated.” [Ahram Gateway (Arabic), Egypt Independent, 10/11/2013]

Complaint filed over alleged Sisi recording
Al-Masry Al-Youm filed an official report against the Rassd News Network on Friday morning regarding alleged recordings of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi saying that he sought immunity in the new constitution, which they claim is fabricated. The recording, allegedly from Sisi’s interview with Yasser Rizk in Al-Masry Al-Youm, was broadcast on Rassd News Network and Al Jazeera channel and includes him requesting “a campaign with the intelligentsia” to grant him immunity, as well as security in his old position, even if he does not win the presidential elections. Editor-in-Chief Yasser Rizk, told the CBC channel in a phone call on Thursday that the recorded audio is fabricated, and that the Muslim Brotherhood altered the audio after being disturbed by Sisi’s remarks. [Cairo Post, 10/11/2013]

Freeze of aid whips up anti-US sentiment in Egypt
Washington’s decision to withhold millions of dollars in mostly military aid to Egypt is fueling anti-US sentiment and the perception that Washington supports Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president the military ousted in a July coup. That could boost the popularity of the military chief, General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, whom the U.S. is trying to pressure to ensure a transition to democracy and ease the fierce crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. [AP, 10/11/2013]

China calls for stability, reconciliation in Egypt as soon as possible
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chun Ping has called for social reconciliation and national stability in Egypt as soon as possible. Chinese news agency Xinhua said the call comes in the wake of the decision to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as the announcement of Mohamed Morsi’s much-anticipated trial. [Egypt Independent, 10/11/2013]


Blast damages Swedish consulate in Libya
A car bomb has exploded outside the Swedish consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, seriously damaging the building but causing no casualties, according to a security official. The Swedish mission is one of the few remaining diplomatic offices remaining in Benghazi, the hub of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time ruler Muammar Qaddafi. [Al Jazeera, 10/11/2013]

Freed Libyan prime minister urges calm
Libya’s prime minister has called for calm after being abducted and held by an armed group for several hours by former rebel militiamen angry at the weekend capture by US special forces of a Libyan al-Qaeda suspect in Tripoli. Ali Zidan was freed unharmed on Thursday after armed men associated with the fragmented Libyan security apparatus held him for about six hours, after seizing him from a luxury hotel he lives in under tight security. [Al Jazeera, 10/10/2013]

Hague judges rule Qaddafi-era spy chief can face trial at home
Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on Friday that Libya was free to try Abdullah al-Senussi, the former Libyan spy chief who was a pivotal figure under long-serving ruler Muammar Qaddafi. Judges said that since Libya was able and willing to give al-Senussi a fair trial on charges that were similar to the ICC’s, there was no need to transfer him to the court’s custody. Senussi and Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam are accused of crimes against humanity during the uprising that toppled Gaddafi in 2011. Both men are in detention in Libya while the ICC and Libya wrangle over who has the right to try them. [Reuters, 10/11/2013]


Selection of elections board could further delay political talks
Problems with the creation of the Independent Board of Elections (ISIE) could further delay political talks, initially set to begin this week. The roadmap agreement signed last Saturday requires the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) select ISIE members within one week from the start of the dialogue. Yesterday, after an opposition party leader proposed restarting the selection process with a goal of electing members in six days, a NCA spokesman commented to news outlets that the proposal would be “hard” to achieve. [Tunisia Live, 10/10/2013]

Tunisians fear Libya’s instability after abduction of prime minister
After Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan was briefly abducted Wednesday, former Tunisian officials commented that they fear Libyan political instability is affecting Tunisia’s security and harming military coordination between the two countries. Ahmed Ounaies, a former foreign minister and a political analyst, said events in Libya have “direct effects” on Tunisia’s stability. The situation in Libya is “threatening the Tunisian revolution,” as Libyan weapons are transferred to terrorists networks in Tunisia. [Tunisia Live, 10/10/2013]

Deputies declare commitment to NCA legitimacy
Eighty-eight members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) have signed a joint declaration that reaffirms their commitment to legitimacy to secure the continuity of the government and Tunisia’s stability, according to an independent deputy. Signatories include representatives of Ennahda, the Congress for the Republic (CPR), al-Mahaba and the Wafa Movement. [All Africa, 10/10/2013]

Suspended NCA plenary session resumes, no-confidence motion against Ben Jaafar
The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) resumed its plenary session Wednesday after deputies protested a decision by the NCA Bureau and chairman Mustapha Ben Jaafar to suspend the session, intended to discuss the national dialogue among other topics. The Wafa Movement then introduced a motion of no-confidence against Ben Jaafar which has so far collected more than fifty signatures, according to a Wafa deputy. [All Africa, All Africa, 10/10/2013]


Yemen intelligence officer killed in flashpoint city
Gunmen shot dead a Yemeni intelligence officer Thursday in Mukalla, a provincial capital where al-Qaeda-linked militants briefly seized an army headquarters and took hostages last week, a security source said. Men on motorcycles fired seven times at Colonel Abdullah al-Tamimi in the Fuah district, killing him on the spot, before fleeing the scene, the source said. [AFP, 10/11/2013]

Al-Iryani submits his resignation from Congress party
A news site owned by former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh quoted sources saying that Dr. Abdulkarim al-Iryani submitted his resignation from his position as second vice president of the General People’s Congress (GPC). The news site reported that al-Iryani presented his resignation to the party leadership. The GPC website has not yet published news of the resignation. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 10/10/2013]

Benomar convinces Houthis and Southern Movement to return to NDC
UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar was able to defuse the crisis that nearly spoiled the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), persuading representatives from the Southern Movement and the Houthis to end their boycott of the concluding sessions of the dialogue in exchange for the resumption of work on the issues of the south and the northern Sa’ada province. An Emirati news source, Al Bayan, quoted a Western source as saying, “Benomar’s efforts led to the return of the Houthis and the Southern Movement to the NDC sessions and their agreement to continue their work and submit a report at the final meeting of the plenary session.” [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 10/11/2013]

USAID renews its commitment to support the transition in Yemen
Yemen’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Dr. Mohammed al-Saad, discussed with the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) issues related to the agency’s cooperation with Yemen to support its transition. The two reviewed the outcomes of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings this week as they relate to Yemen, as well as the most recent Friends of Yemen meeting in September. The USAID head said the agency continues to work to develop a strategy to support Yemen going forward as the National Dialogue Conference comes to a close. [Saba Net (Arabic), 10/11/2013]


UN calls Iraq death penalty ‘obscene and inhuman’
The UN human rights office says Iraq’s execution of forty-two people over the past two days is an “inhuman” and likely illegal use of the death penalty. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, says mass executions of this sort “are not only obscene and inhuman, they are most probably in contravention of international law.” [AP, 10/11/2013]

Morocco cabinet reshuffle dilutes Islamist power
Morocco has announced a government reshuffle on the eve of parliament’s new session that sees the Islamists giving up the key foreign affairs portfolio. The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party on Thursday handed the foreign ministry over to Salaheddine Mezouar, the leader of its new coalition partner, a liberal party close to the palace. [AP/ABC News, 10/10/2013]

Saudi advisory body rejects bid to raise women driving ban
Saudi Arabia’s appointed advisory body on Thursday rejected a move by three female members to put the ultraconservative kingdom’s unique ban on women driving up for discussion, state media reported. Its decision came even as activists hailed increasing reports of women getting behind the wheel in defiance of the ban ahead of a nationwide protest they are planning for later this month. [AFP/Ahram Online, 10/10/2013]