Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria but also said Russia “doesn’t exclude” supporting a United Nations resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people.


Muslim Brotherhood association has no legal standing: Minister
Egypt’s minister of social solidarity, Ahmed El-Borai, said on Tuesday that the Muslim Brotherhood association, formed in March 2013 by the political group, has no legal standing. The minister said during a press conference on Tuesday that the prosecution had accused the Brotherhood of possessing firearms at its Cairo headquarters. The ministry, which is responsible for registering non-governmental organisations and associations, sent several letters to the chairman of the Brotherhood NGO requesting explanations but has not received an answer. [Ahram Online, 9/3/2013]

Egypt says prepared to repay Qatari loan in days if necessary
Egypt is prepared to repay within days $2 billion (LE1.28 billion ) that Qatar deposited with Egypt’s central bank in May if talks to convert the funds into bonds do not succeed, a central bank official said on Wednesday. “This supposedly should be moved to a three year bond, and still they have not finished it,” said the official, who asked not to be named. “If it’s not done we will repay it. We are ready for this.” [Ahram Online, 9/4/2013]

Al-Jazeera accuses Egypt of jamming signal
Qatari-owned news channel Al Jazeera has accused Egyptian authorities of jamming the network’s satellite signals, as the broadcaster kept up its critical coverage of Cairo’s crackdown on Islamists. “Independent experts” used by Al Jazeera have determined where the jamming was coming from, the network said on its website late on Tuesday. The experts were “confident about both the locations and who is responsible,” Al-Jazeera said, adding that trackers have identified locations east and west of Cairo, and specifically identified military installations as the source of interference. [Egypt Independent, DNE,

Egypt’s Sinai emerges as new theater for Jihad
Sinai has seen an influx of foreign fighters over the past two months, including several hundred Yemenis. Several militant groups that long operated in the area to establish an Islamic Caliphate and attack their traditional enemy Israel have joined others in declaring formally that their objective now is to battle Egypt’s military. Also, Sinai has become the focus of attention among major regional jihadi groups. A leader of al-Qaida’s Iraqi branch, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, last weekend called on Egyptians to fight the military, as did al-Qaida’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri. The militant considered the most dangerous man in the Sahara – one-eyed terror leader Moktar Belmoktar, a former member of al-Qaida’s North Africa branch – joined forces with a Mali-based jihadi group last month and vowed attacks in Egypt. [AP, 9/3/2013]


Putin ‘does not rule out’ approving Syria strike with evidence 
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria but also said Russia “doesn’t exclude” supporting a United Nations resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people. In an interview Tuesday, Putin made clear that Russia is not yet prepared to accept US and European assertions of chemical weapons use by Assad and called any attack on Syria without UN approval “illegal.” [APReuters, 9/4/2013]

Syria urges France not to act ahead of parliamentary debate
Syria’s parliament speaker on Wednesday urged France “not to hasten” to act against his war-torn country, as French lawmakers prepared to hold a debate Wednesday on whether punitive strikes against the regime should go ahead. Jihad Lahham, in a statement issued Wednesday, said, “Syrian lawmakers are determined to get to the truth… and we ask you not to hasten to commit a heinous, senseless crime, as you must steer the French republic away from the war path and towards diplomacy.” [Naharnet/AFP, 9/4/2013

Caucasus jihadis form Syria opposition group
A foreign fighter in Syria says jihadis from the Caucasus have formed an independent fighting force known as the Mujahedin of the Caucasus and the Levant, which has no affiliation with extremist opposition groups.. In a video posted online Wednesday by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a man wearing a camouflage uniform is seen standing among other fighters, who he says have come to Syria from the Caucasus and Russia to wage jihad. [Daily Star/AP, 9/4/2013]

Syrian conflict costs country $1.5 trillion, study says
The cost of the devastating conflict in Syria has topped the $1.5 trillion mark, a study published in the country’s daily Al-Watan said Tuesday, as bombings, fighting and sabotage take their toll. If the war in Syria suddenly stopped and reconstruction began now, some $73 billion would be needed to put the country back on track, said the study in the newspaper, which is close to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. [Middle East Online, 9/3/2013]


Oil production at “virtual standstill” says Energy Committee
In a statement, the Energy Committee of the General National Congress (GNC) confirmed that decline in oil production caused by closure of oil facilities is now hurtling toward zero. Losses have been estimated at $3 billion so far. Libya’s oil production has fallen further to around 150,000 barrels per day (bpd), and crude oil exports have fallen to around 80,000 bpd, as protests continue to cripple the energy sector. The GNC has set up a crisis committee to negotiate with protesters staging armed strikes and to deal with the oil disruption. [Libya Herald, 9/3/13]

Deputy interior minister removed from post
The interior ministry has confirmed that Deputy Interior Minister Omar Khadrawi has been removed from his post by Prime Minister Ali Zidan. According to the Libyan news agency LANA, however, Khadrawi had submitted his resignation back in June 2013. It is reported that Khadrawi has been nominated by the government to be ambassador to Pakistan. [Libya Herald, 9/3/13]

Man-Made River “cut”; western Libya could face water shortage
Western Libya could face water shortages as part of the Man-Made River from Sebha has been cut by Margani tribesmen protesting the abduction of Anoud Senussi, the daughter of a former Qaddafi official. The tribesmen cut power to some of the pumps, then restarted the flow a few hours later, giving the government seventy-two hours to find Senussi, who was kidnapped by gunmen as she left a Tripoli prison where her father is awaiting trial. Fears are mounting among elected officials that Senussi could be dead. [Libya Herald, 9/3/13]

Assassination attempt against retired colonel in Ajdabiya
Retired colonel and former intelligence department member Farag Abu Halfaya escaped an assassination attempt when a car bomb exploded beneath his vehicle in the eastern town of Ajdabiya. An investigation has been launched into the attack. This is the latest in a string of targeted attacks; in recent days two other military personnel were targeted in car bomb attacks in Benghazi, one of which was fatal. [Libya Herald, 9/3/13]


Deputies give NCA speaker forty-eight hours to announce resumption of work
One hundred and five deputies of the National Constituent Assembly submitted a letter to speaker Mustapha ben Jaafar Tuesday rejecting the ongoing suspension of the body and called on him to announce a resumption of its work within forty-eight hours. In a press statement, the deputies called on the assembly speaker to convene a plenary session next Friday to restart legislative activity and condemned the withdrawn legislators that are boycotting to pressure the Islamist-led government to step down. [TAP, 9/3/2013]

Larayedh, ready to step down, says constitution must come first
Tunisia’s Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said on Tuesday he was ready to step aside for a caretaker cabinet to hold new elections, but would not create a power vacuum while the country faced serious security and economic challenges. Larayedh, speaking amid intense speculation about the future of democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, said the drafting of a new constitution must be finished and all parties must agree on the election plan before he stepped down. [Ahram Online/Reuters, 9/3/2013]

Journalists strike to protest government media appointments
Employees at state-owned radio stations and members of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists went on strike Tuesday to protest several appointments made to public broadcast media outlets during the transition period. The strike came in response to two rounds of appointments made in August by the director of Tunisian state-owned radio, Mohamed Meddeb, which journalists criticize as attempts to remove independence from public media. [Tunisia Live, 9/3/2013, Tunis Times, 9/2/2013]

Nearly all prison escapees recaptured, interior ministry says
All but six of almost fifty common criminals who escaped from jail in southern Tunisia after attacking their guards Sunday night have been recaptured, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. According to Tunisia’s prison service chief Habib Sboui, the jailbreak came after guards went to a cell in response to calls for help. When they unlocked the door, they were attacked by inmates who then escaped. [Daily Star/AFP, 9/3/2013]


Several dead and wounded in renewed clashes between Houthis and supporters of Sheikh al-Shalali
Three people were killed and several wounded on Wednesday in central Yemen in renewed clashes between Houthis and supporters of Sheikh Abdul Wahid al-Shalali, according to an Alahale Net correspondent. The clashes occurred nearby Asam mountain in Ibb province, which is under the control of Houthi supporters. [Al Ahale Net, 9/4/2013]

Yemen recorded the highest inflation rate in fifteen months in May
According to data released from Yemen’s central bank on Monday, the annual inflation rate rose in Yemen to its highest level in fifteen months, reaching 14.2 percent in May, which is attributed to higher prices for food, tobacco, and khat. [Samaa News, 9/4/2013]

Memorial and cemetery for those killed during Yemen’s revolution stalled
Prime Minister Mohammed Salim Basindawa announced last week that YR60 million (about $280,000) of the required YR110 million ($510,000) has been raised to build a memorial and expand a cemetery dedicated to those killed during the country’s 2011 uprising. Victims’ families have criticized Basindawa and President Hadi for not following through with a number of promises made to the families of those killed during Yemen’s revolution. [Yemen Times, 9/3/2013]

NDC brings resolution to the Saada dossier
After months of debate and negotiation National Dialogue Conference (NDC) representatives assigned to the Saada dossier have finally reached a consensus which should resolve the second thorniest issue of the National Dialogue. NDC representatives have rolled out a thirty-three point plan, which includes among other things a guarantee that the people of Saada have the right to practice and profess their faith: Shiite Islam. [Yemen Post, 9/3/2013]


Bahrain order curbs opposition groups
The justice minister on Tuesday ordered political groups to obtain permission to meet with foreign diplomats, a move apparently aimed at further limiting Shiite opposition groups challenging the Sunni monarchy. The order also requires political groups to obtain authorization to meet international organizations outside Bahrain, and to have a government official at all approved meetings. [AP, 9/3/2013]

Middle East strains under the weight of Syria’s two million refugees
Jordan and Lebanon, Syria’s economically weakest neighbors, have become the focus of efforts by the World Bank to help them cope with refugees, including potentially setting up an assistance fund—the first sign that the scope of the crisis has moved from emergency response to development aid. The World Bank said that, at the Lebanese government’s request, it is collaborating with UN agencies, the EU, and other partners to assess the impact of the refugee influx on Lebanon. [WSJ, 9/4/2013]

Attacks on security forces kill twelve in Iraq
Bombings and shootings targeting security forces across Iraq killed at least twelve people Wednesday, officials said, as authorities found the bodies of sixteen people killed in an attack overnight on two Shiite families south of Baghdad. The assault on the two families raised Tuesday’s death toll in violence across the country to at least eighty-three people killed. [AP, Reuters, 9/4/2013]