Russia evacuated embassy staff and their families from Libya after gunmen tried to storm its diplomatic mission in Tripoli. The decision was made after Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelaziz visited the embassy and reportedly told the Russian ambassador that Libya is unable to guarantee the security of the diplomatic mission. The minister has denied that he advised Russian diplomats to leave because their security could not be assured. [Reuters/Libya Herald, 10/3/2013]


Syria chemical weapons team reports encouraging progress
The joint team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and United Nations (OPCW-UN) mandated to assist Syria with the elimination of its chemical weapons program has made encouraging initial progress, following the first working day of meetings with the Syrian authorities. Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and other questions remain to be answered. The team hopes to begin onsite inspections and the initial disabling of equipment within the next week. Technical groups will be working on three areas key to the mission’s success: verification of the information handed over by the Syrian government; the safety and security of the inspection teams; and practical arrangements for implementing the plan, under which Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment are to be eliminated by mid-2014. [OPCW, 10/3/13]

Assad warns Turkey will ‘pay dearly’ for rebel support; Turkey renews deployment mandate
Syrian President Bashar Assad warned Turkey it will “pay dearly” for supporting rebels fighting to overthrow his regime, in an interview broadcast Friday on Turkish television about the presence of al-Qaeda-linked rebels along the shared border. Meanwhile, Turkey’s parliament has extended by a year a mandate that allows the military to send troops into Syria if the need arises. Legislators voted on Thursday in favor of the bill despite objection from opposition parties, which argued the move would drag Turkey to war. [Naharnet, 10/4/13]

FSA demands ISIS withdrawal from Azaz and Homs
Several Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions demanded that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) withdraw from the streets of the strategic town of Azaz along the Turkish borders following fierce clashes between the group and the North Storm Brigade in the city. A number of opposition groups, including Ahrar al-Sham and Liwa al-Tawhid, urged the “brothers in ISIS to withdraw their forces and [military] vehicles from the streets and return to their main compounds.” They called on the al-Qaeda-linked group and the North Storm Brigade to “bring their differences before the Islamic court that will be convened in the Islamic council’s headquarters in Aleppo in forty-eight hours.” [Ashard al-Wasat, Al Monitor, 10/4/13]


Presidency says Egypt will not tolerate threats to victory day celebrations
Egypt will not tolerate any threats to the victory day celebrations on October 6, said Ambassador Ehab al-Badawi, the presidency’s spokesman. The defense and interior ministries will secure celebrations of the victory day, Badawi stated. The National Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy, which supports former President Mohamed Morsi, called for mass rallies next Sunday to call for putting an end to what it called a “military coup.” [Aswat Masriya, 10/4/2013]

Attacks on armed forces continue in Sinai and Ismailiya
Three terrorist elements were killed on Thursday night when a car and a bomb exploded in two separate incidents in Sinai, security sources reported. A military official also said that two of the assailants who carried out a deadly attack on a military armed personnel carrier Friday morning in Egypt’s Ismailiya were captured by the armed forces, without identifying the suspects. Masked gunmen had fired on a military vehicle near the Egyptian city of Ismailiya on Friday, killing one soldier and wounding an officer and another soldier. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), 10/4/2013]

Egypt price controls not being implemented
Recently introduced price controls on fruits and vegetables have been met with scepticism by retailers and consumers alike. The government introduced the controls on September 27. Every Thursday, a committee of officials from the supply and agriculture ministries, and vendors’ representatives fix prices for the next week. However, the system is not being uniformly enforced and a lack of inspectors in many areas makes monitoring the policy difficult. [Ahram Online, 10/3/2013]

Egypt’s army chief of staff meets US top military leader
Egypt’s army chief of staff Lieutenant General Sedki Sobhi met on Thursday with Lieutenant General James L. Terry, head of the infantry forces in the US Central Command, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported. The two men discussed military bilateral cooperation and joint military exercises between Egypt and the United States. The two countries have been at odds since Egypt’s military ousted president Mohamed Morsi in July, following mass protests calling for the Islamist leader to step down. [Ahram Online, 10/3/2013]


Senussi and Qaddafi regime figures again in court
Pretrial court proceedings against former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi and about thirty other leading Qaddafi-era figures continued in a closed-door courtroom in Tripoli to review the nature of the charges. The proceedings were adjourned until October 24 when the court will decide whether to send the men to trial over the charges. Human Rights Watch, which has found that military and civil criminal courts throughout Libya have issued twenty-eight death sentences since the revolution, has called on the government to announce an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and move toward abolishing it. [Libya Herald, 10/3/2013]

Sirte protests over compensation delays
For the fourth consecutive day government offices in Sirte have been closed as a result of continued demonstrations by residents over nonpayment of financial compensation for homes damaged or destroyed during the revolution. People from two of the town’s districts blocked main roads, causing severe traffic. The head of the local council said that compensation delays were being resolved but warned that that the closure of government buildings was delaying any payments from being issued. [Libya Herald, 10/3/2013]

Business in Libya: A post-Qaddafi pause
Foreign firms are sprouting in Libya through franchises run by local industrialists, but very few companies are setting up their own operations in the country. The deteriorating security situation and red tape are obstacles for firms interested in investing in Libya now that international sanctions against the country have been lifted. Other stumbling blocks include new restrictions, such as the law passed last year capping foreign ownership in smaller joint ventures at 49 percent, down from 65 percent, and requiring foreign partner firms to be at least ten years old. Libya ranks 108 out of 148 countries, according to the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness ranking. [The Economist, 10/4/2013]


Tunisians to start talks Saturday amid skepticism; NCA against government resignation
Tunisia’s ruling Islamists and their secular opponents will start three weeks of negotiations on Saturday to allow the government to step down and make way for a caretaker cabinet until elections, said the UGTT labor union mediating the talks. The talks will follow a roadmap proposed by the UGTT and three other civil society organizations. Various opposition parties that had previously withdrawn from the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), including Mohamed Brahmi’s Popular Front coalition, will participate in the dialogue. The Tunisian press voiced skepticism, comparing the political standoff to a “soap opera.” Forty-five members of the NCA from different parliamentary blocs signed a motion to reject calls for the resignation of the government, in the interest of leading the country to elections. “The government can be overthrown or dismissed only by a no confidence motion signed the people’s representatives,” the motion reads. [Tunisia Live, Reuters, TAP, 10/3/2013; Daily Star, 10/4/2013]

Tunisia’s freedom of information law to be expanded
The government has set out to expand a post-revolution freedom of information law governing the release of state documents. Decree 41, issued after the January 2011 revolution by Interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, will be amended to provide for the creation of an independent commission to monitor government adherence to a law governing access to information. [Tunisia Live, 10/3/2013]

Abdelmalek Salal calls for Tunisian-Algerian joint effort to confront terrorism and smuggling
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Salal stressed the need to increase coordination and cooperation between the Tunisian and Algerian governments on along their shared border to accelerate development. The prime minister called attention to the importance of working to provide more opportunities for labor for youth, as the high levels of unemployment threaten stability along the border. He continued that smuggling and terrorism stem from high levels of poverty and unemployment and in order to fight these security issues, the two governments must address lack of development. [Mosaique FM (Arabic), 10/4/2013]

Tunisian ministry suspends four employees following leak
The Tunisian ministry of interior announced on Thursday that four of its employees, including two senior security officers, were suspended from work amid an investigation into leaked security documents showing the ministry’s prior knowledge to the assassination of opposition leaders Mohammed Brahmi and Chokri Belaïd. [Al Arabiya, 10/4/2013]


Yemen’s future can’t be built on impunity for past violations, says Pansieri
The future of Yemen cannot be built on impunity for past violations, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said Thursday. Pansieri made the statement at a press conference held in Sana’a, reviewing the results of her recent visit to Yemen, and meetings with the president and the ministers of foreign affairs, justice, interior and human rights, local and international civil society organizations. She called on Yemen to ensure that human rights are enshrined in the new constitution and effectively carried out as it moves forward with its transition. [Saba Net, 10/3/2013]

Minister of electricity voices energy concerns in Yemen
Yemen’s Minister of Electricity and Energy Dr. Saleh Samiaa said that the amount of energy the country produces is ‘scarce’ compared to neighboring countries at a press conference on Thursday. Dr. Samiaa pointed out that frequent attacks on the electricity transmission lines complicate the issue and deprive Yemenis of electricity. The minister stressed the importance of coordination between the security and electricity ministries to protect the infrastructure to ensure the delivery of electricity across the country. Dr. Samiaa spoke as electricity towers in Marib returned to service after multiple attacks that damaged them. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 10/3/2013]

The NDC has completed 90 percent of its work, says an official
According to a member of the presidency of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), Mohammed Qahtan, the dialogue has been hugely successful and has accomplished more than 90 percent of its work, leaving only a few relatively small outstanding issues. Qahtan urged skeptics to consider the NDC’s successes and stressed that President Abdrabbo Hadi will be able to effectively implement the NDC’s outcomes. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 10/3/2013]

Yemen tackles public sector corruption
The first phase of a new fingerprint and facial scan system, which seeks to eradicate corruption in Yemen’s military, security, and civil sectors, is close to completion, officials said. The system aims to eliminate abuses plaguing the government’s central administrative apparatus, such as phantom jobs, dual employment and the misapplication of the pension system, said Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa. [Al-Shorfa, 10/3/2013]


Deadly bomb blast hits soccer field in Iraq
A bomb exploded near a soccer field while teenagers were playing south of Baghdad, the deadliest of three attacks that left eight dead in Iraq on Thursday, according to authorities. The blast struck in Madain, a mixed town of Sunni and Shiite Muslims about 25 kilometers southeast of the Iraqi capital. Police said at least five people were killed and thirteen wounded in the attack. [AP, 10/3/2013]

Activist charged with ‘undermining regime’ in Jordan
Authorities on Thursday detained activist Munther Harassis and charged him with three counts of “undermining the political regime.” Security agents apprehended Harassis on Thursday morning following an arrest warrant issued by the State Security Court (SSC) prosecutor, according to his lawyer, Mamoun Harassis. “My client refused to communicate with the SSC prosecutor because he is a civilian and he should not stand trial before a military court,” the lawyer said. “This arrest is meant to kill activities and protests in the street and to quell freedoms in Jordan.” [Jordan Times, 10/3/2013]

Saudi woman runs for Jeddah’s Chamber of Commerce board membership
Rania Salama, a Saudi woman, has launched a campaign to be elected to the board of Jeddah’s Chamber of Commerce, and currently serves as the chair of the Young Businesswomen Committee at the chamber. Salama said that by running for the chamber’s board, she is seeking to help match Saudi women with the opportunities that men commonly enjoy. She also emphasized that her campaign for the board aims to spread awareness of the chamber’s role to voters. [Al Arabiya, 10/3/2013]