Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, prominent son of the ousted Muammar Qaddafi, appeared in court in the city of Zintan, and his trial was adjourned until December. There are unconfirmed reports he was brought to Tripoli for a separate pretrial hearing.

It remained unclear whether his captors in Zintan, who are former rebel fighters, would allow this. Since the revolution, authorities in Tripoli have struggled to assert control over large swathes of the country, and militia groups have continued to hold Saif al-Islam in Zintan. [Al Jazeera, 9/19/13]


Assad denies his forces conducted chemical attack, says Syria attacked by al-Qaeda
Syrian President Bashar Assad said a United Nations report finding “clear and convincing evidence” that sarin nerve gas was used in Syria painted an “unrealistic” account, and he denied his government orchestrated the attack. In an interview with Fox News Channel conducted in the Syrian capital of Damascus and aired Wednesday, Assad said terrorists were to blame for the chemical attack, which the United States says killed more than 1,400 people, including hundreds of children. [Naharnet, 9/18/2013]  
Jihadists overrun FSA to seize Azaz, Turkey shuts border
A rebel group affiliated with al-Qaeda overran a Syrian town near the Turkish border Wednesday after fighting broke out with units of the Arab- and Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), opposition activists said. In other battles on the border, Kurdish fighters forced jihadists to pull out of the village of Aluk, in northeastern Syria, after clashes that left twenty-one dead on both sides. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) stormed the town of Azaz along the Syrian-Turkish border and killed at least five FSA members, the activists said, adding 100 people were arrested. Turkey has closed the Oncupinar border gate to Syria, around three miles from Azaz, after the clashes. [Daily Star, AP, Reuters, 9/19/2013]  
FSA asks UN inspectors to probe chemical weapons transfer to Hezbollah
The Free Syrian Army has urged the United States, Russia and the UN Security Council to expand the investigation of the UN inspectors into the Lebanese territories, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported Thursday. The daily said that the FSA made the request after receiving “evidence that the Syrian regime had transferred two trucks of chemical weapons to Hezbollah around three months ago.” [Naharnet, 9/19/2013]  
France fears backlash from militants; arrests in Britain over Syria terror links  
France’s interior minister revealed Thursday that hundreds of homegrown Islamist militants were signing up to fight in Syria and warned they could pose a security threat when they come back. More than 300 French nationals or residents are either currently fighting in Syria’s civil war, planning to go and fight, or have recently returned from there, said Minister Manuel Valls. Meanwhile, British police said Thursday they had arrested four people over alleged involvement in terrorism in Syria following the discovery of ammunition at the port of Dover. [NOW, Daily Star, 9/19/2013]  
Cabinet considers new restrictions on protests  
A bill that would impose several new restrictions on demonstrations was discussed by the Cabinet on Wednesday, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported. Drafted by the ministry of justice, the proposed law is now awaiting presidential approval. Al-Ahram published the text of the draft law, which would ban marches in front of houses of worship, the carrying of arms and wearing masks during protests. Sit-ins and blocking roads would also be forbidden under the law. Violators would be fined between LE50,000 and LE100,000. The bill defines a march or protest as any function involving more than 10 people. [Mada Masr, SIS, 9/19/2013]  
Mohamed Ali Beshr, leading Muslim Brotherhood figure, barred from travel
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Ali Beshr was prevented from travelling to Dubai from Cairo International Airport on Thursday. Beshr – one of the few senior Brotherhood officials not in jail – was detained while authorities checked if there was a warrant for his arrest. He was later released. The former local development minister in Mohamed Morsi’s government was among the core Brotherhood figures responsible for talks with the European Union. Beshr and Amr Darrag have been described as the Brotherhood’s negotiators with the interim government, but the Islamist group has repeatedly denied such talks have taken place. [Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram Gate (Arabic), 9/19/2013]  
Egypt sets EGP 1200 as minimum wage for government workers
Egypt’s Cabinet has set the minimum wage for the public sector at EGP 1200 ($174), as of the beginning of next year, said Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi in a televised press conference on Wednesday. According to official data, the number of employees in the governmental sector increased by 2 percent in 2012/13 to reach 5.545 million, compared to 5.439 million one year earlier. In June 2011, the interim government set the minimum wage for the public sector at EGP 700 ($101.5). [Ahram Online, 9/18/2013]  
Russia to provide Egypt with wheat, says official
Alaa Qenawy, commercial minister and head of the Egyptian Commercial Representation Bureau in Moscow, said Russia has pledged to meet Egypt’s needs in wheat through long term deals that extend from three to five years. In a statement, Qenawy said that Russia is expecting a surplus of wheat this year and Egypt’s wheat import policy depends on diversifying import countries. Moscow also wishes to invest in silos, he said. Official sources said that Egypt has asked Russia to give grants and aid amounting to $260 million to build silos. Russia is also expected to lift a travel ban to Egypt. [Egypt Independent, 9/18/2013]  
Libya could dip into reserves in October if oil crisis persists
With Libya losing an estimated $130 million a day due to strikes and militias blocking most of the country’s oil fields and ports, Finance Minister Alkilani Abdelkarim al-Jazi said Libya could start dipping into financial reserves in October if the oil sector disputes are not resolved. The country’s budget for 2013 is $54 billion, to be financed largely by oil exports. Oil production has restarted in some southwestern oil fields, but the bulk of oil production in the east is still paralyzed. [Reuters, 9/18/13]  
Congress members’ immunity lifted
The General National Congress voted to lift immunity for three members who are being sued by representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and construction Party (JCP) for defamation, in order to enable the attorney-general to investigate them. JCP members claim the three members – one from the National Forces Alliance and two independents – said the JCP has“sold oil illegally to the Brotherhood and had secret relations with foreign countries,” allegations which the JCP denies. [Libya Herald, 9/18/13]
Libya committed to its contracts despite oil strikes, says NOC chairman Berruien
National Oil Company (NOC) chairman Nurri Berruien said he is “very confident” that Libya will overcome the oil stoppages that have disrupted the country’s oil production, assuring sponsors like OMV and Schlumberger that Libya remains “committed to its contracts despite events.” Berruien admitted that Libya’s aging oil fields and refiners need upgrading, estimating it would require an investment of over $60 billion over six years. [Libya Herald, 9/18/13]
Government accused of ‘incompetence’ in recovering Ben Ali assets
The head of a commission tasked with reclaiming assets belonging to individuals connected with the regime of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali criticized the government for “incompetence” while presenting an update to the National Constituent Assembly (NCA). A report on recent efforts to recover illicit assets from individuals involved with the Ben Ali government was presented Wednesday by the Confiscation Commission to an NCA committee. [Tunisia Live, 9/19/2013]  
Larayedh denies awareness of leaked document on plan to kill Brahmi; NCA questions interior minister on the issue
Interim Prime Minister Ali Larayedh denied on Wednesday knowing about the leaked document warning of a threat to former opposition leader and constituent assembly member Mohamed Brahmi. “The prime minister was informed about this document only some time after the killing of Mohamed Brahmi”, reads a Prime Ministry statement. An NCA plenary session to question Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddo about his knowledge of the leaked document began this morning. [TAP, Mosaique FM (Arabic), 9/19/2013]  
Sahbi Atiq says parties must work within the NCA to achieve goals
The head of Ennahda Party, Sahbi Atiq, said to the NCA on Thursday that laws cannot be changed from outside the NCA. He said, “We are with the national dialogue despite our reservations about some of the parties… we would like all parties to come to the negotiating table to end the transitional phase as soon as possible.” Atiq also expressed his disapproval of the parties that withdrew from the dialogue, saying they are disrupting the process. [Assabah News (Arabic), 9/19/2013]  
New attack on power lines in Marib cause blackouts
A spokesman for the ministry of electricity confirmed that militants carried out a new attack on power transmission lines in Marib, rendering it out of service. Large parts of Yemen, including the capital, Sanaa, have been left without electricity as a result of the attacks. The ministry spokesman also explained that the tower may take several days if security conditions for engineers don’t improve. [Saba News, Al Masdar (Arabic), Al Tagheer (Arabic), Reuters, 9/19/2013]   
Attacks on journalists threaten Yemeni freedom, says HRW
Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Yemen to combat attacks on journalists, saying  in a statement that threats have increased since the ouster of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012 following nationwide protests. HRW’s acting Mideast director, Joe Stork, warned that “President (Abdrabbo Mansour) Hadi’s failure to address the attacks on Yemeni journalists not only denies them justice, but makes the media as a whole afraid of further and more serious attacks.” [Reuters, Gulf News, Naharnet, 9/19/2013]  
Qirbi: The GPC has prepared an alternative formula for the draft formation of the state
Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said his General People’s Congress (GPC) party has drafted a promising alternative draft for the formation of the state. The draft, which provides for the adoption of several provinces will be presented to the 8 + 8 committee at its next meeting. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 9/19/2013]  
GCC director meets with Southern Issue Working Group, encourages cooperation
Director of the Gulf Cooperation Council office in Yemen, Saad al-Arifi, said that the success of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) depends on all political factions prioritizing the national consensus. Arifi met with Southern Issue Working Group head Mohamed Ali and called on the group’s members to show flexibility and willingness to work with others to conclude the NDC. [Saba Net (Arabic), 9/19/2013]  
Amnesty urges Bahrain to free opposition ex-MP, to to shut clerics council
Rights group Amnesty International has urged Bahrain to free opposition former parliamentarian Khalil Marzooq, accused by Manama of links to Shiite “extremists.” The public prosecutor of the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom decided on Tuesday to hold Marzooq — a senior figure in the main Shiite al-Wefaq opposition group, in custody for 30 days pending investigation on charges of inciting terrorism. The government has also filed a lawsuit against a popular Shia council for being illegal organization. The ministry of justice, Islamic affairs, and endowments on Monday filed the case, requesting the termination of all activities of the Ulama Islamic Council, liquidation of its assets and the shutting down of its office for being established in violation of the Constitution. [AFP, Khaleej Times, 9/19/2013]
Rights groups press Morocco to free arrested editor
International rights groups called on Morocco on Thursday to release the editor of a news website arrested after it posted an al Qaeda video urging Moroccans to rise up against their rulers. Ali Anouzla, editor of, is well known for his columns critical of the North African kingdom’s government and his calls for greater press freedom in a country where the state often exercises control over local media. [The Daily Star, 9/19/2013]  
Jordan, US discuss security cooperation
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff Gen. Mashal Al Zaben on Wednesday met with Lt. Gen. John Hesterman, commander of the US Air Forces Central Command in Southwest Asia. Discussions focused on bilateral cooperation, in addition to issues of mutual concern to the two countries’ armies. [Jordan Times, 9/18/2013]