Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are in Cairo for a two-day visit, for meetings with interim President Adly Mansour and Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi along with other political figures. According to state media, Shoigu discussed military cooperation between Russia and Egypt with al-Sisi on Thursday morning, while Lavrov and Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy also met to discuss bilateral relations. In an interview with state newspaper Al-Ahram, Lavrov said that Russia expressed its support for democratic transformation in Egypt and for the creation of more effective socioeconomic systems. In a press conference following his meetings, he added that Russia was not striving to replace “any country”–a reference to the United States–as Egypt’s key strategic partner. [DNEReutersCairo PostSISAPEgypt IndependentShorouk (Arabic), Ahram Gate (Arabic), 11/14/2013]


Nour Party says Morsi’s statement ‘unrealistic’
Nour Party described Wednesday deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s first public statement since his July 3 ouster as “unrealistic.” Nour Party spokesman Sherif Taha said that Morsi’s statement, which lawyer Mohamed al-Damaty read at a press conference Wednesday, reflects “the absence of a realistic vision of the [current] situation.” Taha said that the content was not new and represents the same stance of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails and which has been calling for his reinstatement since his ouster. Hazem el-Beblawy said the deposed president Mohamed Morsi has the right to express his opinion, but he is charged with several cases and his statements could be considered incitement to violence, Beblawi said “this could be decided by the public prosecution, not any other party.” [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, Egypt Independent, SIS, 11/14/2013]

Preparations for parliamentary elections commenced
Preparations for parliamentary elections, scheduled to take place in February-March 2014, have begun prior to the fifty-member committee’s decision on the electoral system that will be implemented. The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to update its database to admit the registration of Egyptians abroad who have recently issued IDs. Various political parties started to prepare their lists of candidates for the coming parliamentary elections. They are scheduled to hold a number of meetings during the coming weeks in coincidence with the end of the constitutional amendments drafted by the fifty-member committee. The parties hope to form coalitions during elections to gain the majority of parliamentary seats, at the expense of Islamist parties. [Cairo Post, 11/14/2013]

Egyptian govt sets maximum wage at thirty-five times the minimum wage
Egypt’s cabinet set the country’s maximum wage on Wednesday at thirty-fivetimes the minimum wage of the employees working in the public sector. According to the governmental decree, the maximum wage will be implemented as of January 2014 and its ceiling has been settled at EGP 42,000 per month. In September, the Egyptian government set a minimum wage for the public-sector employees at EGP 1,200 minus deductions for pensions and other items. [Ahram Online, 11/13/2013]


Civilians to march on Gharghour on Friday if brigades do not pull out before Friday
As clashes between rival armed groups in Tripoli continue, civilians have drawn up plans to peacefully evict the brigades. After a series of meetings, the local council, civil society members, and revolutionary commanders have all agreed to protest on Friday in support of implementing law number twenty-seven, which is to force all brigades from other towns to leave the capital. The Tripoli Local Council is spearheading the effort, confirming that it will implement the law even without support from the government. [Libya Herald, 11/14/2013]

Military integrity commission disbars 915 personnel
The Military Integrity and Reform Commission has disbarred 915 non-commissioned officers and soldiers for fighting for the former regime. The disbarred servicemen now have twenty days to appeal the decision, but according to a commission spokesman, no appeals have been received so far. Last month, the commission dismissed fifty-seven officers, among them high-ranking personnel, for having fought for Qaddafi. [Libya Herald, 11/14/2013]

Amazigh demands likely to be discussed Sunday, says GNC spokesman
General National Congress (GNC) spokesman Omar Hemidan says discussions about the number of seats allocated to minorities on the sixty-member constitutional drafting committee are ongoing. Although some GNC members are opposed to making any decision on the issue, it is likely to come up on Sunday when the legislature votes on the name of the state, its flag, anthem, identity, and language. The Amazigh (or Berber) community has said it will boycott all elections over having been given only two seats on the committee. Meanwhile, the town of al-Awjila has announced it is boycotting elections because it was marginalized in last year’s legislative elections and would not tolerate it again. [Libya Herald, 11/13/2013]

Libyan food group warns against rushed subsidy reform
The head of al Sahl, one of Libya’s largest grain processors, has warned that the government should not rush to implement food subsidies as this could undermine private companies already hurt by delays in payment from authorities. Magid Gadad said such a move away from subsidizing companies to giving an allowance to households requires careful study. One of the reasons for the planned reform is to curb costs and corruption, as subsidized food is smuggled out of Libya to African countries further south. [Reuters, 11/13/2013]


Hezbollah will stay in Syria as long as needed, says Nasrallah
Shia militants from Hezbollah will keep fighting in Syria’s civil war alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces as long as necessary, the group’s leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday. Hezbollah has helped turn the tide in Assad’s favor this year, leading the recapture of the town of Qusayr and fighting alongside his forces south of Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo. [Reuters, NYT, 11/14/2013]

Regime forces make gains in and around Aleppo, Damascus; 149 killed Tuesday
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces captured the southern Damascus suburb of Hujaira and advanced on a rebel-held village near Aleppo on Wednesday as part of a broader advance that has brought President Assad major gains south of the capital. “Southern districts [in Damascus] that have been under rebel control for more than a year are falling one by one,” said a Damascus-based activist. In fighting across Syria on Tuesday, at least 149 people were killed, including twenty-seven civilians and four children. [Al Arabiya, 11/14/2013]

Poisonous rivalries between commanders end in defeat for Free Syrian Army
An analysis of the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) loss of a strategic town in the south last May illustrates the self-defeating dysfunction within the ranks of the FSA. For two months the FSA held Khirbet Ghazaleh, a critically important town on the main Damascus-Jordan highway, choking off supplies to regime forces and giving the rebels an opportunity to control the southern front in Syria’s grinding war. But a profound personal dislike between Ahmad Nemah, head of the FSA’S Deraa military council, and Bashar Zoubi, leader of the Yarmouk Brigade, a powerful rebel unit ostensibly under the council’s command, played a central role in their eventual defeat. [The National, 11/13/2013]


Larayedh says government will not step down by will of some opposition parties
Caretaker Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said on Wednesday in a statement to the media that “the government … will not step down by the will of some opposition parties.” Larayedh stressed that members of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) ought to ratify the constitution and set a definite date for the upcoming elections as soon as possible. He also proclaimed his support for the national dialogue and his commitment to reaching a consensus, asserting that a resolution of the constituent, electoral, and governmental processes will ease the political crisis. [TAP, Tunis Times 11/13/13]

Dialogue mediators meet separately with NCA speaker, Salvation Front
Late Wednesday, members of the quartet, the four groups mediating Tunisia’s national dialogue roadmap agreement, met with delegates from the Salvation Front to discuss the amendments to the internal rules of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) approved last week that later led to a walkout by opposition groups. Prior to this meeting, the quartet met with NCA Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar to discuss the amendments and possible solutions to restart the roadmap process. [TAP, 11/14/2013]

Tunisians debate proposed reintroduction of Habous
Debate has grown in recent days over the proposed reintroduction of Habous, an Islamic legal framework governing certain properties that was dismantled in Tunisia over fifty years ago. Politicians and social media users have been debating the draft law introduced in the National Constituent Assembly, discussing the motives behind this decision, as well as whether it should be prioritized given Tunisia’s current political volatility. [Tunisia Live, 11/13/2013]

Justice ministry says victims of torture or ill-treatment in custody can file complaints
Tunisia’s justice ministry on Wednesday issued a statement declaring that anyone who has been subject to torture or ill-treatment in detention and custody facilities can lodge a complaint, including any supporting documentation, with the human rights and transitional justice ministry. [TAP, 11/13/13]


GPC rejects NDC’s proposed guidelines for candidates in upcoming elections
The General People’s Congress (GPC), headed by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, has refused the National Dialogue Conference’s (NDC) Good Governance Working Group decision issued on Monday, which put forth fifteen conditions for eligibility to run for political posts when Yemen holds national elections, still slated for early 2014. The list effectively bans Saleh, his relatives, and many of his allies from running for a number of elected positions. Mohammed al-Sabri, a member of the Good Governance Working Group, praised the organization’s work, and denied that it focused its criteria on Saleh and his allies. Abdulhafeet al-Nahari, the deputy head of the information department for the GPC, said, “The GPC has reservations over this item, disagrees with it, and considers it a violation of the rights of a big faction that worked in the military and security institutions.” [Yemen Times, 11/13/2013]

At top summit, 350 million CNY provided to Yemen
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday granted Yemen 100 million Chinese Yuan (CNY) as a gift on the occasion of the President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi’s visit to China. In a Yemeni-Chinese official talk held in Beijing chaired by the two countries’ presidents, Jinping also announced 50 million CNY as a gift to the Yemeni Ministry of Defense and 200 million CNY as a long-term interest-free loan to Yemen. The Chinese President reiterated China’s full support to Yemen for reconstruction and providing various economic and technical assistances. [SABA, 11/13/2013]

Presidential commission says thousands will benefit from Southern land redistribution
A spokesman for the presidential committee tasked with addressing territorial issues in southern Yemen announced that more than 200,000 citizens will benefit from the presidential decision on the matter that was issued a few days ago. The State Land Authority will be charged with redistributing land and wage contracts at the district level in the province of Aden and will benefit thousands of residents. [Al Masdar(Arabic), 11/14/2013]

Salafis reject al-Qaeda’s statement of solidarity
Salafi spokesman in Dammaj Sorour al-Wadi’i announced that people in the region strongly reject the statement of solidarity issued by the leadership of al-Qaeda and consider it part of a conspiracy targeting local residents. Al-Qaeda issued a statement on Tuesday vowing to take revenge on the Houthis for violent attacks against the Salafis. Al-Wadi’i said that the statement is part of a conspiracy to convince others that the Salafis are associated with al-Qaeda. He suggested instead that the rival Houthis are working with al-Qaeda and denied any ties with the militant organization. [Al Masdar(Arabic), 11/14/2013]


Qatar to make military service compulsory for four months
Qatar’s government has approved a draft law making it compulsory for men in the Gulf state to do military service for up to four months, media reports said on Thursday. Under the proposed legislation, the first of its kind in Qatar, it would be compulsory for men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five to serve in the military for three months if they are graduates, and four if they are not. [AFP/Ahram Online, 11/14/2013]

Palestinian peace negotiators resign over settlements
The entire team of Palestinian peace negotiators has resigned to protest continued Israeli settlement building, negotiators Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh said Wednesday, but president Mahmoud Abbas has yet to accept their resignations. Shtayyeh said the move was in response to “increasing settlement building (by Israel) and the absence of any hope of achieving results.” He added, “Until now, President Abbas has not accepted our resignation.” [AFP/Ahram Online, 11/13/2013]

Algeria to continue closure of southern border with Mali
Algeria’s Minister of Communication Abdelkader Messahel said Sunday in Algiers that “Algeria’s southern border has been closed since the beginning of troubles in Northern Mali and [will] remain closed for national security reasons. It’s Algeria’s sovereign decision.” He also stressed the need to “control” this opening, underlining that all the attacks of the terrorist group Movement for Uniqueness and Jihad (MUJAO) in Western Africa came from that region. [Sahara Press Service/All Africa, 11/13/2013]