President Barack Obama claimed a growing recognition among foreign leaders Friday that “the world cannot stand idly by” in the face of chemical weapons use in Syria, and said he plans to make his case to the American people in an address Tuesday night. [AP, 9/6/2013]


Syrian parliament urges US Congress to block strikes
The head of Syria’s parliament has urged the US Congress to vote against military action targeting the Syrian regime, state news agency SANA said on Friday. “We urge you not to take reckless measures as you have the power to steer the United States from the path of war to that of diplomacy,” SANA quoted parliament chief Jihad al-Lahham as saying. [AFP, 9/6/2013]

Regime sends reinforcements to Christian village targeted by opposition fighters
Activists say the Syrian government has dispatched reinforcements to a predominantly Christian village north of Damascus where rebels have clashed with regime troops this week but later retreated to protect “religious and archeological sites”, the Syrian National Coalition said. The attack on Maaloula spotlighted fears among Syria’s religious minorities about the growing role of extremists in the rebel ranks fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s regime. [AP, Middle East Online, 9/9/2013]

Syria offers rewards for captured foreign “terrorists”
Syrian authorities are offering rewards of 500,000 Syrian pounds (around $2,500) to anyone who hands over captured foreign “terrorists,” Syrian state television said on Friday. Those handing in foreign fighters will be offered protection and their identities protected, the message added, saying even fugitives who turned in foreign fighters could receive pardons. [AFP, 9/6/2013]

Defecting Assad ally reaches Istanbul, sources say
Bashar al-Assad’s former defense minister has reached Istanbul after a defection that betrays cracks in the president’s support among his own Alawite sect, opposition and diplomatic sources said on Thursday. Dismissing a cursory Syrian state television denial of the first Reuters report that General Ali Habib had been spirited across the Turkish frontier this week, opposition figures said Habib was likely to keep a low profile after evading house arrest and reaching Turkey with the aid of Western agents. [Reuters, 9/5/2013]

‘No decision’ in Egypt on dissolving Muslim Brotherhood
Egypt’s government has denied media reports that it has decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the decision will be announced next week. A social solidarity ministry spokesman was quoted as saying it would revoke the Islamist group’s non-governmental organisation status “within days.” But a prime ministerial aide, Sherif Shawki, told the BBC the solidarity minister had not issued any decision. [BBC, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), 9/6/2013]

Egypt opposes a unilateral decision by the US on Syria: President Mansour
Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour told a US Congress delegation that Egypt does not support an individual US decision on a military attack on Syria, state news agency MENA reported. In a presidential statement published by MENA he said, “Egypt does not understand the US insistence on acting individually, without the approval of the UN Security Council and without commitment to international legitimacy.” [Ahram Online, 9/5/2013]

Egyptian military arrests leading Revolutionary Socialist member
Labor lawyer Haytham Mohamadein, a leading member of Egypt’s Revolutionary Socialists, was arrested at a military checkpoint close to Suez and is currently being detained, the group announced on Thursday. Mohamadein, who is also a member of El-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, was on his way from Cairo to Suez on Thursday when he was arrested at a military checkpoint on Suez Road. He was then transferred to Attaqa police station in Suez. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, DNE, 9/5/2013]

US delegation arrives in Egypt for talks, affirms keenness to inform US public
A US congressional delegation on Thursday arrived in Cairo en route from Dubai for talks with Egyptian officials. Led by US Representative Dana Rohrabacher, the eight-member delegation will hold talks with Egyptian officials to discuss current developments in the country and the region, diplomatic sources said. An Egyptian army spokesman has said that a visiting US delegation has reiterated support for an army-imposed roadmap for transition following the ouster of elected president Mohammed Morsi and affirmed a keenness on conveying the real situation in Egypt to the US public. [World Bulletin, SIS, Ahram (Arabic), 9/5/2013]


Justice and Construction Party steps up attack on government
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party (JCP) has ramped up its campaign against Prime Minister Ali Zidan, holding him responsible for all of Libya’s current challenges. In a recently released statement, the party said it is considering pulling out ministers from the administration. Its call earlier in the week for the General National Congress (GNC) to “exercise its supervisory role” has been interpreted as a call for the GNC to sack the government. [Libya Herald, 9/5/13]

New ACA head appointed
The General National Congress (GNC) has announced that Abdulsalam Mohamed Said al-Hasi will head up the recently-formed Administrative Control Authority (ACA), which the GNC set up in June 2013 to make the financial and administrative bureaucracies more effective. For the vacant positions of Libya’s Central Bank governor and deputy governor, the GNC’s finance, budget, and planning committee announced it has received a total of thirty-one applications. [Libya Herald, 9/5/13]

Strong Libyan support for American French action against Syria
Public opinion in Libya appears to favor US and French strikes against Syria in the wake of chemical weapons use. However, most appear to favor action that would bring down the Assad regime rather than limited, punitive strikes. One individual interviewed by the Libya Herald said he supported strikes but not boots on the ground, warning that such a move would elevate the perception that it is a war against Islam and al Qaeda and that “young Libyans would then volunteer to go and fight in Syria.” [Libya Herald, 9/5/13]

Ghariyan congress member assaulted at TV station
General National Congress (GNC) member from Ghariyan, Mohamed Yunis Toumi, was attacked while visiting a TV station in Tripoli. He was verbally abused by security guards who, claiming to be thuwar, or revolutionaries, accused GNC members of being thieves and proceeded to beat him and a couple of TV station employees. [Libya Herald, 9/5/13]


Dialogue talks frozen; opposition calls for protests
National dialogue efforts between the ruling Troika coalition, led by Ennahda, and the political opposition were declared frozen Thursday in a speech delivered by Houcine Abbassi, secretary-general of Tunisia’s largest labor union. Abbassi and Ennahda’s declarations that this round of dialogue has failed have reignited calls for opposition protest, with the Workers’ Party claiming “the inevitability of escalating peaceful and civil mass struggle.” The Troika previously rejected opposition proposals presented by the unions. [Tunisia Live, 9/6/2013]

Central bank: Tunisian economy at risk “more than ever”
Tunisia’s political crisis, triggered in July by the assassination of an opposition parliamentarian, is threatening the fundamentals of the country’s economy “more than ever,” the central bank warned Wednesday. The central bank highlighted the “persistence of risks” for the Tunisian economy, with the crisis heightening uncertainty and visibility in the economic sector as the government and opposition struggle to reach a consensus on key political issues. [AFP, North Africa Post, 9/5/2013]

Judge orders travel ban on opposition figures under former regime
A judge in Tunis’s Court of First Instance issued travel bans Friday against the former secretary general and chairman of the Popular Unity and Social Liberal parties, respectively, opposition groups under the Ben Ali regime. Mohamed Bouchiha and Mondher Thabet are being investigated for the illegal transfer of money to opposition parties. Three other individuals have also been barred from leaving the country. [L’Economiste Maghrebin (French), 9/6/2013]


UN special advisor on Yemen heads press conference on current NDC matters
UN Special Advisor on Yemen Jamal Benomar has stated that the United Nations will work to mobilize all necessary international support for the implementation of the thirty-one demands put forth by the southern leadership during the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). He also said that increased efforts need to be exerted in order for consensus votes and positive results to be obtained. [NDC, 9/5/2013]

Representatives expect the Southern Movement to return to the NDC
Reports indicate that the Southern Movement may end its boycott of the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen early next week, according to an inside source, who said that the team working on the southern issue will resume holding its meetings from the beginning of next week, headed by team leader Mohammed Ali Ahmed. [Al Tagheer, (Arabic) 9/6/2013]

Five Saudi al-Qaeda members on trial in Yemen
Five Saudis accused of belonging to al-Qaeda and of plotting attacks went on trial Wednesday in a Yemeni court set up for terrorism cases, the official Saba news agency reported. All five defendants have pleaded innocent. [Gulf News/AP, 9/5/2013]

WTO plans to approve the accession of Yemen
Yemen’s thirteen-year effort to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) may finally pay off in the coming months. An agenda distributed to member states earlier this week indicated that the group assigned to work on the issue of Yemen joining will hold a meeting on September 26, 2013 in order to approve the key documents that define the conditions for membership. The country is expected to be a member of the organization by early next year. [Reuters Arabic, 9/6/2013]


Morocco’s Islamists, opposition in ‘deal’ to end crisis
Morocco’s ruling Islamists have struck a deal with the main opposition party to form a new coalition government, ending months of uncertainty after a key ally’s decision to withdraw, media reported Thursday. A cabinet reshuffle is due to be announced in the coming days, following the accord between Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, and the head of the National Rally of Independents, Salaheddine Mezouar. [AFP, 9/6/2013]

Bahrain opposition criticizes rights court plan
Bahrain’s main opposition group has criticized an Arab League decision to set up a pan-Arab human rights court in Manama, saying the Gulf Arab state was the “black hole of human rights.” Bahrain’s human rights record has come under scrutiny over its handling of unrest since anti-government protests broke out in early 2011. [Gulf News/Reuters, 9/6/2013]

Beirut’s problems await decisions in foreign capitals
As the five-month cabinet deadlock lingers, a veteran politician summed up the political equation in Lebanon as follows: “No government before the dust of the military confrontations in Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs settles.” According to a report prepared by diplomats based in Lebanon, there are three events which Lebanese parties are waiting on before taking action to solve the Lebanese problems: the US decision on military strikes against Syria, the meeting of the UN General Assembly at the end of next month, and the outcome of meetings this week in Russia. [The Daily Star, 9/6/2013]