President Obama has not yet decided on US action in Syria, where he says his administration has “concluded” President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in an attack against civilians last week near Damascus.

Al-Nour party submits future vision to interim government
Salafi Al-Nour Party has laid out their position on Egypt’s political road map, along with their reservations on various constitutional amendments. The party requested not to exclude any faction from political life as long as that faction did not commit crimes. Among the steps needed for reconciliation, the party asked for stopping violence against peaceful demonstrators, incitement rhetoric and arbitrary arrests, as well as the formation of a fact-finding committee to investigate human rights violations after June 30. Some reports said that Mohamed Ali Bishr, a leading figure of the Muslim Brotherhood, held a secret meeting with leaders of the Nour and Ghad al-Thawra parties to devise and submit the initiative. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, Ahram (Arabic), 8/29/2013]

New wage law under discussion
The National Council for Wages agreed in a meeting on Wednesday to formulate a national wage policy, according to a statement from the Ministry of Planning. The review of a new wage policy will include studying the maximum and the minimum level of income in the national level, in addition to linking wages and pensions to the standard of living, said the ministry. It also said that the concept of social justice included much more than a discussion of the minimum wage; work on additional areas including the social security system and social safety nets must also be pursued. [DNE, 8/29/2013]

Britain suspends forty-nine export licences to Egypt
Britain suspended forty-nine export licenses to Egypt on Wednesday, saying it wanted to prevent British goods being used in unrest that has led to civilian deaths in the Arab country. Wednesday’s suspension, which applies to licenses for the Egyptian army, air force and internal security forces, covers a range of equipment, including spares for helicopters and aircraft, specialist software and communications equipment. [Reuters, 8/29/2013]

US ambassador to Egypt remains unchosen, chargé d’affaires to take over
The U.S. embassy in Cairo has announced that Anne Patterson, its current ambassador, will end her term in Egypt and leave the country on Friday, a diplomatic source said on Wednesday. Veteran US diplomat David Satterfield will serve as temporary charge d’affaires and will oversee the responsibilities of the US ambassador to Egypt until the appointment of a new ambassador. [Ahram Online, Ahram (Arabic), Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), 8/29/2013]


Oil production down to a quarter of a million barrels a day
Libyan oil production is down to 250,000 barrels per day, according to Prime Minister Ali Zidan, who said the government is negotiating with tribal elders and leaders in eastern Libya to get oil terminals reopened. Several terminals have been closed by industrial action and blockades by the Petroleum Facilities Guards throughout the summer, and the latest drop in oil production is due to pipeline closures in the west as well. [Libya Herald, 8/29/13]

Majority of east against federalism, says Zidan
Prime Minister Ali Zidan said at a press conference that, based on consultations and discussions with a range of tribal elders and leaders and representatives from eastern Libya, “the majority reject federalism.” He added that most eastern Libyans believe in the legitimacy of the General National Congress and support national unity. [Libya Herald, 8/29/13]

Army training in Europe announced by General Staff
Libya will send hundreds of soldiers abroad as part of a training program to rebuild the Libyan armed forces. According to the office of the army chief of staff, Italy, Turkey, and Britain have agreed to provide the training. As part of the plan to form a national army, former fighters will join local training courses in Libya before being sent abroad. [Libya Herald, 8/28/13]

Hassan al-Amin accepts HRW award in name of all Libyan activists
Hassan al-Amin said upon receiving the prestigious Human Rights Watch award that there were many other deserving individuals. He accepted the award “as a recognition for those who tirelessly and relentlessly fought for rights in Libya.” Al-Amin founded the news organization Libya al-Mostakbal in 1983 when in the United Kingdom after he was arrested and beaten by Qaddafi forces. He returned to his hometown of Misrata during the 2011 uprising to document and publicize human rights violations. [Libya Herald/AllAfrica, 8/28/13]


UN chemical weapons team to leave Syria by Saturday
United Nations inspectors, in Syria to determine whether forces have used chemical weapons in the civil war, will continue their investigations until Friday and plan to leave by Saturday morning, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. He added that the team- which arrived in Syria on August 18 – would report to him as soon as they left the country. [Reuters, 8/29/2013]

Obama: I have not made a decision on Syria
President Obama has not yet decided on US action in Syria, where he says his administration has “concluded” President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in an attack against civilians last week near Damascus. While he’s engaged in talks with US allies and the international community as a whole, the president said, he assured he has “no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria.” [CBS News, 8/28/2013]

Britain debates military action against Syria; France pushes for political solution
British members of parliament are preparing for an emergency debate on the case for action in Syria, but the opposition Labor Party are insisting on seeing “compelling evidence” of the Syrian regime’s guilt over an alleged chemical attack before voting with Prime Minister David Cameron’s governing coalition. French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that Syria needed a political solution, but that could only happen if the international community could halt killings like last week’s chemical attack and better support the opposition. [USA Today, Daily Star, Reuters, 8/29/2013]

Hezbollah mulling response to Syria strike
Hezbollah signaled Wednesday it might not stand idle if Syria is attacked by the United States and its Western allies over its alleged use of chemical weapons. The remarks by Hezbollah’s caretaker Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan were the closest so far by a senior party official about the group’s readiness to retaliate for a possible massive US-led military strike on Syria. [Daily Star, 8/29/2013]


Tunisian Islamist radicals plan other murders, Islamic state
The recently banned jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia was planning a series of political assassinations in Tunisia in an effort to establish an Islamic emirate in North Africa, according to the interior ministry. The statement came one day after Prime Minister Ali Larayedh declared Ansar a terrorist organization and said the state had proof that the militants killed two secular politicians and several soldiers this year. [Reuters/Tunisia Live, 8/28/13]

Employers’ union calls for economic reforms and new government
A major union in Tunisia has called for lower taxes, increased investment in the less developed interior regions, and a change in cultural perceptions to address Tunisia’s economic woes. UTICA employers’ union is an influential organization consisting of business owners and self-employed workers. In a statement it said its recommendations are based on a study that suggests the country’s economic situation will worsen if appropriate measures are not soon undertaken. [Tunisia Live, 8/28/13]

Hamma Hammami rejects Essebsi’s stance of “Erraheel” campaign
Spokesperson for the Popular Front, Hamma Hammami, said that the position of Nidaa Tounes chairman Beji Caid Essebsi concerning the “Erraheel” campaign does not reflect the entire party. Essebsi had rejected the “Erraheel” campaign that was launched by the Salvation Front coalition in opposition to the ruling Ennahdha party. Hammami said the campaign’s peaceful approach is meant to push for change in the government, stressing that Essebsi’s position will not impact the Salvation Front coalition. [Tunis Times, 8/29/13]


National Dialogue to be extended
Delegates of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) have suggested the possibility of extending the dialogue in order to accomplish the remaining unresolved issues, namely the South and state-building issues. There is a semi-final agreement to extend the dialogue period for about a month to end in mid-October after it was scheduled to expire on September 18 of this year. [Yemen Observer, [8/29/2013]

Jamal Benomar makes a surprise visit to Sanaa
Jamal Benomar, the special adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Yemen, has made an unannounced surprise visit to Sanaa. During his visit he will meet with state officials, political leaders, and members of civil society organizations, as well as youth and women groups. [Al Masdar,NDC,(Arabic) 8/29/2013]

Al Qaeda killed a young man accused of being ‘gay’ in southern Yemen
A Yemeni man was killed Thursday in the southern city of Al-Hota by gunmen believed to be from al-Qaeda.  According to a local security source, the gunmen accused him of being gay. [Al Masdar, (Arabic) 8/29/2013]

Friends of Yemen meeting to discuss recommendations of London meeting in March
Dr. Mohammed al-Saadi, Yemen’s minister of planning and international cooperation, said that the Yemeni government plans to present the country’s progress on political, economic, and security issues at the next Friends of Yemen meeting, which will be held on September 25 in New York. He also stated that the meeting will include discussions of progress made on the recommendations made at the previous meeting in London this past March. [Al Tagheer, (Arabic) 8/29/2013]


Saudi, Turkey foreign ministers discuss Syria
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met Wednesday for talks on Syria with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, as the West weighs possible military strikes against Damascus. The ministers discussed “developments on the Syrian arena,” state news agency SPA reported, without giving further details. [Al Arabiya, 8/28/2013]

Charbel: Lebanon to address Syrian refugee crisis at UN
President Michel Sleiman will take the issue of the growing number of refugees in Lebanon to the United Nations, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said in remarks published Thursday. Charbel said the decision was made during a ministerial meeting Wednesday at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. [Daily Star, 8/29/2013]

Bahrain national dialogue resumes after two-month break
Bahrain’s national dialogue launched in February and aimed at ending the Gulf country’s political deadlock since a 2011 Shiite-led revolt resumed on Wednesday after a two-month summer break. Opposition and government representatives took part in the Manama talks, participants said. [Middle East Online, 8/29/2013]