US President Barack Obama asked Congress on Tuesday to delay the vote on whether the United States should intervene militarily, vowing to give long-shot diplomacy a chance. 

In what appeared to be a somber national address, Obama warned Americans that for reasons of national security and moral decency, they could not simply look away after innocent children were gassed to death in an attack he blames on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. [Al-Arabiya, 9/11/13]



Syria renouncing arms shows strength: Syrian government official
A senior Syrian government official says his country’s acceptance of a Russian initiative to relinquish its chemical weapons is a sign of strength. Cabinet minister Ali Haidar says that by agreeing to the proposal, Damascus has removed one of the pretexts for war against Syria, although he says the threat of foreign military action remains. Syria did not agree to the proposal out of “fear of any enemy” and it should not be interpreted as a concession, he says. [AP, 9/11/13]

UN probe: Eight massacres by Syria regime, one by rebels
Evidence confirms at least eight massacres have been perpetrated in Syria by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and supporters and one by rebels over the past year and a half, a UN commission said Wednesday. Calling Syria a battlefield where “massacres are perpetrated with impunity,” the UN commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria said that in each of the incidents since April 2012 “the intentional mass killing and identity of the perpetrator were confirmed to the commission’s evidentiary standards.” Its latest report Wednesday also notes that the four-member commission is probing nine more suspected mass killings since March. [AP, 9/11/13]

Divisions among region’s Christians; Syrian dissident’s patriarch criticism provokes backlash
Recent comments by top Syrian dissident Michel Kilo criticizing the stances of a Greek Catholic patriarch over the Syria crisis have provoked reactions by church and political figures. The Greek Orthodox council in Lebanon issued a statement Wednesday slamming Kilo’s criticisms of Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III Lahham of Antioch, saying that that the stances of the patriarch who calls for dialogue in Syria come from his care for the lives of civilians. Kilo, a journalist and prominent opposition figure, reportedly said that Lahham’s denunciation of military intervention in Syria indicates that he is “an intelligence man in the clothes of a Patriarch… He is not a patriarch and has nothing to do with Christianity,” Kilo said. Kilo’s comments came in response to a message from Lahham to US President Barack Obama in which the patriarch described a possible military intervention by the United States in Syria as a “criminal act.” [Daily Star, 9/11/13]


A presidential decree to form the new supreme election committee
President Adly Mansour issued on Wednesday a decree, his 586th decree of 2013, on the new composition of the electoral commission, headed by Judge Nabil Salib Awadallah Erian, who is currently the head of the Cairo Court of Appeal. [Ahram Gate, (Arabic) 9/11/2013]

Muslim Brotherhood rejects FJP and calls for further civil disobedience
The Muslim Brotherhood strongly rejected the initiative that was proposed by Hamza Zawba, spokesperson for the group’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), in which the group was to admit to misruling the country under deposed President Mohamed Morsi. In a related event, the National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy, a group of Brotherhood-related activists, released a statement on Wednesday calling on “revolutionaries” across Egypt to resume activism against the “military coup” through a sustained wave of civil disobedience. [Egypt Independent, 9/11/2013]

Nour Party leader slams suggestions of drafting a new constitution
Younis Makhyoun, leader of the Salafist Nour Party, rejected on Sunday statements by Amr Moussa, elected head of the fifty-strong constitutional amendment committee, which described the committee’s work as closer to drafting a new constitution than amending articles from the suspended 2012 constitution. Salafi Dawah deputy Yasser Borhamy went on to say the 2012 constitution should be reinstated if the proposed constitution receives less votes than last year’s constitutional referendum. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 9/10/2013]

Egypt economy grew 2.2 percent as inflation rates continue climb
The Egyptian economy grew by 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of the 2012/13 fiscal year which ended on 30 June, Minister of Planning Ashraf al-Araby has said. Average growth for the entire 2012/13 fiscal year will be around 2.3 percent, al-Araby told Ahram Online at a meeting with April 6 Youth Movement on Tuesday. Inflation also rose 0.7 percent during the month of August, the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) indicated in its latest report issued September 10, with the rate up 10.9 percent year on year to 139.3 points. [Ahram Online, DNE, 9/10/2013]


Car bomb hits Libyan foreign ministry in Benghazi
A powerful car bomb exploded Wednesday near Libya’s foreign ministry building in Benghazi, exactly one year after an attack on the US consulate there killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. There were no casualties, but several people were wounded from the explosion that blew out a side wall of the building and damaged the city’s branch of the Libyan Central Bank. [AP, 9/11/13]

Political isolation law commission clears 125 congress members so far
The Public Officials Standards Commission announced that it has so far vetted and cleared 125 members of the General National Congress (GNC). After the passage of the Political Isolation Law, all members received questionnaires about any involvement with the former regime. The commission will continue to vet the remaining members of the GNC. If any are not cleared, the commission has the right to launch an appeal to the courts. If the court upholds the decision to isolate the individual, criminal proceedings could be initiated. [Libya Herald, 9/10/13]

“Support Zidan’s efforts to solve oil crisis,” Americans, British, French, Italians tell Libyans
Four of Libya’s prominent western allies–the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Italy–issued a joint statement calling on Libyans to stand behind Prime Minister Ali Zidan’s beleaguered government in resolving the oil crisis peacefully. The statement expressed that the countries will continue working with Libya through its “challenging” democratic transition. [Libya Herald, 9/10/13]

Retired colonel killed in Benghazi car bomb blast, son critically injured
A retired colonel from the Qaddafi-era External Security Agency was killed in a car bomb attack in Benghazi. His son was taken to a hospital with critical injuries. A spokesman for the Benghazi Joint Security Room said an investigation could be difficult because no one was seen near the car before the explosion. [Libya Herald, 9/10/13]


NCA speaker says sessions to resume next week
The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) will resume its activities next week after being suspended for over a month and certain committees will begin meeting today. The decision follows a September 10 meeting of the NCA’s administrative office headed by assembly speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar. Ben Jaafar called on the leaders of different parties’ parliamentary blocs to meet September 12 to determine work priorities and plan plenary sessions. He also declared that the activities of the NCA’s legislative and special committees will resume today. [Tunisia Live, Tunis Times, 9/11/2013]

Security union member arrested after making accusations against government
Walid Zarrouk, a spokesperson for the Union of Republican Security Forces and critic of the current government, was arrested on Monday after accusing Tunisia’s ruling party of corrupt and improper practices regarding the ministry of interior. The arrest followed statements by Zarrouk in two press conferences in the past weeks in which he alleged that a “parallel security apparatus” existed within the ministry of interior consisting of officers loyal to the ruling Ennahda party. Zarrouk is charged with slander, spreading false information, and making illegal accusations about a public officer. [Tunisia Live, 9/11/2013]

Tunisia to take part in London Deauville Partnership conference
Tunisia will examine possible ways to energize the national economy as part of bilateral and multilateral cooperation efforts with its partners during an international conference, the Deauville Partnership. The meeting is to be held on September 16, 2013 in London, according to Minister of Development and International Cooperation Lamine Doghri. [Tunis Afrique Press (French), All Africa, 9/11/2013]

Governor of the central bank to Marzouki: Delaying a political solution will make the process more difficult
Interim President Monsef Marzouki met with Chadli Ayari, the governor of the central bank, on Wednesday to discuss the general economic situation and the country’s economic difficulties as a result of the political climate. Ayari explained the impact of the economic situation in Tunisia on the political and security environment. He called on all to overcome this situation as quickly as possible and to emerge from the crisis peacefully, saying that Tunisia’s ability to fulfill its financial obligations in terms of foreign debt and domestic expenses depends on how soon political consensus is achieved. [Assabah (Arabic), 9/11/2013]


Marib: Private security forces arrested four suspected al-Qaeda members
Special private security forces in Marib province yesterday arrested four suspected members of al-Qaeda. A source within the special security forces said that the suspects, Abdullah Salem Baruiz, Khaled Salem al-Ameri, Saleh Salem al-Kathiri, and Salmin Abboud Omar al-Kathiri have been handed over to the correct authorities. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 9/11/2013]

“8 + 8” Southern Issue subcommittee holds first meeting
Already known as the “8 + 8 committee”, the Southern Issue Working Group’s recently formed solutions subcommittee held its first meeting on Tuesday. At the meeting, which was attended by UN Special Advisor on Yemen Jamal Benomar and National Dialogue Conference Secretary General Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Mohammed Qahtan was selected as spokesperson for the subcommittee. [NDC, 9/10/2013]

Sectarian violence flares up in Yemen northern region
Yemeni officials confirmed on Monday that an estimated thirty people have died over the past two weeks in the northern province of Amran as al-Ahmar tribesmen have clashed with Houthis, a Shiite rebel group originally based in the northern province of Saada. Since 2011 the Houthis have largely expanded their zone of influence to neighboring provinces: Hajja, Saada, al-Jawf, and parts of Amran. [Yemen Post, Gulf News, 9/10/2013]

Parliament to vote on a $96 million loan from the Arab Monetary Fund
The House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to vote on a deal between the Yemeni government and the Arab Monetary Fund for a loan of twenty-one million dinars, the equivalent of US $96 million. The Assembly referred the request for a vote to the relevant committee, the Finance Committee, which will submit a report to the Assembly with recommendations on what action it should take. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 9/10/2013]


Bahrain insists on regulating foreign contacts
Under a decision announced by the justice ministry last month, all contacts between Bahraini political societies and diplomatic missions and consulates in Bahrain or foreign organizations and government institutions or representatives of foreign governments must be done in coordination with the foreign ministry. However, the regulation does not include public meetings, such as evening gatherings at majlises during Ramadan, according to the justice minister. Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali al-Khalifa clarified the decision during a press conference on Wednesday. [Gulf News, 9/11/2013]

Jordan: Government, UN launch platform to support refugee host communities
The Jordanian government launched a new partnership platform with the United Nations on Tuesday that will work to support the Kingdom as it provides humanitarian assistance to thousands of Syrian refugees. The platform will serve as the main forum for national and international partners to plan and strategize support given to Jordanian communities severely affected by the impact of the Syrian crisis, according to a UN statement on the initiative. [Jordan Times, 9/11/2013]

Lebanon: Berri initiative too broad, aims at political overhaul
An initiative put forward last month by Speaker Nabih Berri to end the country’s deadlock aims at changing the political system in Lebanon, says future bloc Member of Parliament Ahmad Fatfat. “The initiative of Speaker Nabih Berri is a political maneuver to adjust the entire political system through discussing the Cabinet formation at the National Dialogue,” according to Fatfat. [Daily Star, 9/11/2013]