Militant groups fighting to establish an Islamic state in Syria are increasingly active in Iraq, dragging the wider region into conflict. In villages on the flat lands south towards Baghdad and in the communities that dot the sprawling desert west towards the border with Syria, random and relentless violence is once more a reality, with almost daily bombings and killings reminiscent of when Anbar province was nearly overtaken by al-Qaeda. [The Guardian, 9/30/13]


Russia doubts mid-November date for Syria peace talks; affirms opposition participation
Russia expressed doubt on Tuesday that Western nations can persuade Syrian opposition representatives to take part in an international peace conference in time for it to take place in mid-November. The doubts of Damascus’ most important ally followed remarks in which the international envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said the target date of mid-November was “not 100 percent certain” and cited disunity among rebel forces. Reversing recent statements by Syrian officials, Russia said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could engage in peace talks with the more moderate elements of the armed opposition at a meeting in Geneva next month. “I do not rule out that the armed opposition, if it does not stand for extremist or terrorist views, could very well be represented,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters. Lavrov said it must be organized soon since “radicals and jihadists are strengthening their positions” in Syria. [Reuters, 10/1/13]

Foreign jihadists amassing in northern border town, presence may outlast war
Over the last year the once-sleepy transit town of Atmeh on the Turkish border has become a magnet for jihad tourists from around the world. More than 1,000 jihadists are staying in and around Atmeh, making it the densest accumulation of jihadists in Syria. Ironically, while war rages in the rest of the country, the foreign jihadists have made one of Syria’s quietest spots into their base. [Der Spiegel, 9/27/13]


Egypt Muslim Brotherhood leader sentenced to ten years in military trial
Egypt’s Suez military court sentenced on Monday Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mongey to ten years of imprisonment on charges of inciting violence and vandalising military property in August. Controversial exceptions allowing military trials for civilians have remained a topic of debate during the transitional period. Earlier in September, a Suez military court handed down a life sentence to a Muslim Brotherhood member and sentenced 50 others to jail on charges of attacking military soldiers. [Ahram Online, 9/30/2013]

Sinai policemen protest lax security amid insurgency 
Dozens of policemen have staged a protest in North Sinai calling for better protection against militant attacks in the region. Security personnel blocked the gates of a police station in al-Arish. They are demanding up-to-date weapons, increased security at their hostels, and new leadership at the provincial security directorate. Egypt’s army has launched a weeks-long offensive to uproot Islamist insurgents, targeting hideouts and arms caches in the northern part of the region. [Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), 10/1/2013]

Egypt in talks to extend oil product supplies from Gulf
Egypt is negotiating with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to supply it with petroleum products into 2014, Egyptian Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail said on Tuesday. Gulf countries have been sending diesel, gasoline and fuel oil to Egypt since July. Egypt is hoping to implement a smart card system at the start of 2014 for fuel purchases by vehicle drivers, Ismail said on Tuesday. The finance ministry said in July it planned to phase in the card system gradually in July, August and September. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 10/1/2013]

Ashton’s Egypt visit will bring reconciliation progress, says Brotherhood sources
High Representative for the European Union Catherine Ashton is expected to meet with Muslim Brotherhood figures during a three-day visit to Cairo, to push for reconciliation with the transitional government. European Union Special Representative for the Southern Mediterranean, Bernadino Leon, is expected to accompany Ashton during her visit. Muslim Brotherhood sources expect Ashton’s visit to Cairo, which starts on Tuesday, to bring “great progress” to reconciliation attempts, hinting that the Islamist group representatives would accept an initiative presented by Ashton during her last visit in late July if it is put forward again. [Ahram Online, DNE, 10/1/2013]


Conference on transitional justice law explains aims
General National Congress (GNC) President Nuri Abu Sahmain presented the draft transitional justice law that is expected to be voted on soon. The conference was attended by GNC members, several diplomats, including US Ambassador Deborah Jones, and civil society representatives. The goal of the law is to compensate victims of the Qaddafi regime, as well as those who have suffered injustice since the revolution, and promote national reconciliation. Much of this will be overseen by a fact-finding and reconciliation board, to be established under the law. The GNC is also expected to vote on Tuesday for a new deputy president to replace Juma Ateega, who resigned following passage of the political isolation law. [Libya Herald, 9/30/13]

Libyan women draw joint plan of action to ensure influence in Libya’s democratic transition
Libyan women’s groups have developed a plan to bolster their activism in Libya’s democratic transition. At a recently-organized workshop, organized by the ministry of culture and civil society in cooperation with the UN Support Mission in Libya and the UN Development Program, participants adopted a plan of action focused on growing the number of women candidates for the constitution-drafting assembly, providing technical assistance to women members who win election, and launching initiatives to foster participation in the national dialogue. [Libya Herald, 10/1/13]

Municipal elections are back on track; Shahat starts registration
The process of electing new municipal councils to replace the existing local councils is back on track. The town of Beida ended its extended registration of voters and candidates, and Shahat began its voter registration process. The last month the process was on hiatus following Prime Minister Ali Zidan’s announcement in August that municipal boundaries would be redrawn. In mid-September, under an amendment, the number of municipalities was reduced from ninety-nine to ninety; however the boundaries of some remain unknown. [Libya Herald, 9/30/13]

Zintani journalist abducted
Editor of the Tripoli-based newspaper Rawasi, Taher al-Turki, has been abducted after unknown assailants stopped his car. According to the Board for Promotion and Support of Press, al-Turki tried to negotiate with the attackers, who shot his brother dead and took al-Turki away, leaving his wife and daughter behind. Several international organizations, including the Union of Libyan Journalists, have condemned the abduction and called for al-Turki’s release. It is unclear whether he was targeted because he is a journalist or because he is from Zintan. [Libya Herald, 9/30/13]


Political crisis blamed for continuing struggles of Tunisian economy
High public sector wages, subsides, and political instability are dragging down Tunisia’s economy, according to its central bank, political leadership, and development organizations. Tunisian Central Bank Governor Chedly Ayari appealed to the government to reign in spending, saying the political situation needs to stabilize or the economy will further suffer. [Tunisia Live, 9/30/2013]

The inaugural session of the national dialogue will be held this week
The inaugural session the national dialogue will begin this week, after a months-long delay due to a lack of consensus in the government, according to a statement by the UGTT, Tunisia’s powerful labor union. The agenda of the first session of the dialogue will include the discussion of plans for the composition of a new government. [Tunisia Daily (French), 10/1/2013]

Spokesperson says national dialogue should include more parties, civil society
Following a talk on Monday with interim Prime Minister Ali Larayedh, the spokesperson for the National Coalition for the Success of the Democratic Process Mohamed Goumani said that “national dialogue ought to be inclusive of more parties and representatives of civil society.” He added that Laarayedh had expressed willingness to opt for any solution which is likely to help speed up elections, including the formation of a technocrat cabinet. [TAP, 9/30/2013]


Al-Qaeda gunmen still hold Yemen army hostages: military
Al-Qaeda gunmen were still holding hostages at a Yemeni army headquarters in Mukalla Tuesday, a day after the army was said to have recaptured the building, a military official said. “Gunmen from [the Qaeda-affiliated] Ansar al-Sharia group are still holed up on the building’s third floor and are holding soldiers hostages,” he said. [Daily Star, 10/1/2013]

UN envoy dragged into controversy over southern issue
A recent decision by the Southern Issue Working Group subcommittee at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) to suspend talks until Jamal Benomar, the United Nations special envoy to Yemen, is back in the country has sparked a controversy about Benomar’s role in the nation’s politics. Several Yemeni politicians, including former ambassador to Russia, Abdulwahab al-Rawhani, accused Benomar of interfering in Yemeni affairs, accusing him of exerting undue influence over the subcommittee’s decisions. [Yemen Times, 10/1/2013]

President Hadi says final reports should be ready within two days
In a meeting chaired by President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi and the NDC president, attended by NDC Secretary General Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, parties discussed the final stages for the submissions of the working groups’ final reports and a deadline for the final plenary session. Hadi emphasized the importance of having the final reports, so that the final plenary session can begin. All reports should be ready for submission within two days, he said. [NDC, 9/30/2013]

Sanaa University protests rage on
Sanaa University students have staged protests every morning on the university’s campus since last Wednesday. Students are asking for the resignation of officials they accuse of corruption, an end to a stratified tuition system, and an easing of restrictions on freedom of expression that they say have been placed on protesting students. [Yemen Times, 10/1/2013]


Kuwait warns stateless residents over protests
Kuwait’s interior ministry Monday warned stateless residents against demonstrating to mark the international day of nonviolence on October 2, saying it will deal firmly with protesters. Online activists have been urging stateless residents of the oil-rich Gulf state, known locally as bidoons, to demonstrate peacefully to renew their demands for Kuwaiti citizenship and basic rights such as education and healthcare. [Ahram Online, 9/30/2013]

Jordanians arrested for supporting Egypt Islamists
Three Jordanian men have been arrested for carrying posters supporting Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and ousted-President Mohamed Morsi, a judicial official said on Tuesday. “The state security court charged the suspects on Monday with acts the government does not approve of that would harm Jordan’s relations with a brotherly Arab country,” the official said. [Daily Star, 10/1/2013]

Al-Qaeda claims Iraq bombings that killed fifty-five
Al-Qaeda’s local franchise in Iraq has claimed responsibility for a string of car bombings in Baghdad that killed fifty-five people. In a statement posted late Monday hours after the bombings that mostly targeted Shiite neighborhoods, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant says the attacks were in retaliation to the “arrests, torturing and targeting of Sunnis” by the Shiite-led government. [Al Arabiya, 10/1/2013]