The Tunisian government is facing increased political pressure after thousands of people demonstrated against the ruling parties on Wednesday. The Tamarrod movement announced its plans to organize a “Day of Rage” on Monday, September 30. However, members of the ruling coalition threatened to “push forward” with the constitution and electoral law in the National Constituent Assembly without the opposition should protests continue and political talks fail to materialize. “We want these sides to realize that they cannot impose a solution from the street,” Tarek Kahlaoui of the Congress for the Republic, President Moncef Marzouki’s party, said. [Tunisia LiveThe Tunis Times, 9/26/2013]


West says UN nears Syria resolution; Aid chief pushes for additional resolution
Members of the UN Security Council have inched closer to the details of a binding resolution on Syria, Western diplomats said Wednesday, though Russia denied that a consensus had been reached. Several diplomats said they had reached agreement on the broad elements of a deal, including “a reference” to sanctions should Syria fail to comply with its obligations as well as language to hold accountable perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks, though stopping short of language compelling referral to the International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, Europe’s aid chief on Wednesday urged the Security Council to adopt a resolution to boost humanitarian access in Syria, an issue that has simmered for months in the shadow of plans for peace talks and a deal on destroying Syrian chemical weapons. [NYT, Reuters, 9/26/13]

Syrian rebels urge boycott of any conference involving Iran
More than 100 senior officers of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have signed a petition urging a boycott of any peace conference on their country if Iran is involved, an opposition general said Wednesday. The statement “condemned once more the criminal regime of Assad and any conference which will open any path other than the toppling of the regime.” Speaking about possible arrangements for Geneva II, “I want to emphasize that anyone who will accept and request the presence of Iran in such a conference will be considered as an enemy of the Syrian people,” said Methkal Albatich, a general in the FSA. “More than 140 countries and organizations are involved in the Friends of Syria conferences. All of them combined, their help is less than what Iran alone provides for Assad,” he said. [AFP, 9/25/13]

UN weapons inspectors return; Russia says ready to help guard Syria chemical weapons sites
UN chemical weapons inspectors have returned to Syria to continue investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in the country’s two-and-a-half-year conflict. On Thursday Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia is ready to help guard Syria’s chemical weapons sites when President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical arms stockpiles and factories are destroyed. “We will be ready to help in guarding those facilities where work is being carried out,” Interfax news agency reported Ryabkov as saying at an arms fair. [Al Jazeera, Reuters, 9/26/13]


Constituent Assembly bans formation of political parties on religious grounds
Mohamed Salmawy, spokesperson for the Constituent Assembly, announced on Wednesday that the body has decided to ban the formation of political parties that carry a religious message. He added that the status of existing parties with a religious basis would be reviewed according to criteria that will be established by a subsequent law on political parties. The constitutional draft stipulates that a political party may be disbanded only by a court verdict. [DNE, 9/25/2013]

Amended law allows Egyptian courts to extend defendants’ detention indefinitely
Interim President Adly Mansour has approved an amendment to the current criminal procedures law that will allow Egyptian courts to renew temporary detentions indefinitely while trials are ongoing. The law now states that defendants in jail pending trial for charges that could lead to a verdict of execution or a life-sentence could have their detention extended for 45 day increments indefinitely until the trial is over.  Prior to this amendment, a judge could only extend the detention of a defendant for two years while the trial was being conducted. After these two years, the defendant was required to be released from jail, even if the trial was ongoing. [Ahram Online, 9/26/2013]

Egypt warning a ‘very dangerous escalation’: Hamas
Hamas has condemned Egypt’s warning of possible military escalation if the Islamist group threatens Egyptian security. “[Egyptian interim Foreign Minister] Nabil Fahmy’s threats of military escalation against Hamas are very dangerous and reflect bad intentions towards Palestinians in general and Gaza in particular,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesperson for the group. Fahmy told pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Tuesday that there was “tension” between Cairo and Hamas, and suggested the group was not doing enough to secure the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. [Ahram Online, 9/25/2013]

Sisi meets with Chairman of US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met on Wednesday with Darrell Issa, Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the US House of Representatives, and the delegation accompanying him. The meeting discussed several issues of common interest, especially the strategic bilateral relations and developments in the regional and international arenas. [Egypt Independent, 9/25/2013]


Restoring hope for Libya
Former deputy interim prime minister Mustafa Abushagur has launched an initiative to help “save the nation and restore hope” in light of the current transitional government and General National Congress’ (GNC) inability to achieve a breakthrough in resolving the country’s problems. Believing that the remainder of the GNC’s term is insufficient time to elect the constitutional drafting committee, Abushagur has proposed that the temporary constitutional declaration of August 2011 serve as an “interim constitution.” This would enable Libyans to elect a head of state and 200-member national parliament in a general election and help to hasten the stalled constitutional and political processes. [Libya Herald, 9/26/13]

“Return Qaddafi regime officials and looted money,” Zidan demands at UN Assembly meeting
Speaking at the 68th UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Ali Zidan called on countries providing haven to members of the former regime to surrender them. He also called on foreign governments to help Libya recover looted funds. The stolen assets are estimated to be worth over $100 billion. Acknowledging that Libya faces challenges, Zidan nevertheless stressed that Libya is “moving steadily and confidently” toward establishing rule of law. [Libya Herald, 9/26/13]

Russians deliver armored fighting vehicles
As part of an order placed by the former regime, Russia has delivered ten infantry fighting vehicles to the Libyan army. Chief of Staff General Abdel-Salam Jadallah Obeidi praised the close ties between Libya and Russia, saying that the reactivation of the deal would help make Russia an important partner in the process of rebuilding the Libyan army. As part of diplomatic training, fifteen Libyan diplomats completed an intensive four-week course in Berlin focused on security and economic policy, as well as public speaking. [Libya Herald, 9/25/13]

Defense minister’s son abducted
The son of defense minister Abdullah al-Thini has been abducted for unknown reasons. It is the latest in a spate of kidnappings that have invariably been for ransom and not for political reasons. It is reported that al Thani would be “neither deterred nor intimated” by his son’s kidnappers. [Libya Herald, 9/25/13]


UGTT official: We will stop protests when Ennahda accepts the proposed roadmap
The assistant secretary general of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), Mouldi al-Jenoubi, announced on Thursday that the union would stop all protests immediately if the ruling Ennahda party announced its formal acceptance of the roadmap proposed by the opposition quartet. He specifically mentioned that the roadmap includes provisions for the ruling government to step down and that this provision is part of a complete acceptance of the roadmap. Al-Jenoubi said that the opposition would continue to demonstrate against the government until it accepts the roadmap in full. [Mosaique FM (Arabic), 9/26/2013]

Minister: Extremists plotted to carve up Tunisia
Tunisian authorities have dismantled a plot by extremist Salafi Muslims to slice up the North African country into three Islamic emirates, the top security official said Wednesday. Security forces who have battling al-Qaeda-linked extremists also disrupted jihadist plots in recent weeks to assassinate political figures and carry out bombings in central Tunisia and near the capital, Tunis, Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said on Mosaique FM radio. [AP, 9/26/2013]

Tunisian rapper jailed for six months
Tunisian rapper Klay BBJ was jailed for six months without remission on Thursday for songs judged insulting by the authorities and for undermining morals. “We have decided on a sentence of six months in prison, to begin immediately,” Judge Belgacem Chaieb ruled after a trial lasting less than 90 minutes.The rapper’s lawyer said he would appeal the verdict. [Ahram Online, AFP/Fox News, 9/26/2013]


Friends of Yemen, Ban Ki Moon, committed to support next stage of Yemen transition
The sixth ministerial level meeting of the Friends of Yemen group has commended Yemen’s political and economic achievements despite challenging circumstances. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called on Yemenis to honor their national obligations by helping transition their country toward democracy and urged all of Yemen’s international partners to make do on their pledges to prevent the impoverished nation from sinking under the weight of its multitude of challenges. [Yemen Post, Saba Net, 9/26/2013]

Demonstrators in the capital call for former President’s judicial demise
On the anniversary of the establishment of an independent state in Yemen, Yemenis have taken to the streets to renew their calls for an end to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s political and judicial immunity. Protesters carried revolutionary posters and chanted for Saleh’s trial and immediate arrest.  [Yemen Post, 9/26/2013]

Yemen president vows to eradicate terrorism
President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi promised on Wednesday to eradicate terrorism in Yemen, plagued by Al Qaeda and by homegrown unrest, as yet another member of the security forces was killed. In a televised speech to mark the anniversary of the 1962 revolution that established a republic in Sana’a, Hadi also defended the vision of a united Yemen, as militants in the formerly independent south press for autonomy or even outright secession. [Gulf News, 9/26/2013]

Discussions of the 8+8 committee stall
Debates within the Southern Issue Working Group (the 8+8 committee) about the number of regions in the future federated state have stalled, according to committee member Ali Hussein Achel. Achel revealed that working group members felt that neither the two-region proposal nor the five-region proposal would truly accommodate the needs of various factions. Secretary General of the national Dialogue Conference (NDC), Ahmed bin Mubarak, confirmed that the discussion on the formation of a federal state were ongoing, but suggested that they are “constructive.” [Al Masdar (Arabic), Al Tagheer (Arabic), 9/26/2013]


Syrian conflict takes a toll on Palestinian aid
Displaced Palestinians are losing out to Syrians in desperate need of aid, and the United Nations is asking Arab countries to pitch in and bolster funding for its agency mandated with helping Palestinian refugees. UNRWA, which helps nearly 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria in addition to the West Bank and Gaza, is facing a $54 million shortfall of its roughly $600 million annual operational budget. [AP, 9/26/2013]

Bahrain stung by Obama comment on sectarian tensions
Bahrain voiced disappointment with President Barack Obama’s description of the kingdom as beset by sectarian tension, arguing its problem was with “terrorists” who fomented division. Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States, Houda Nonoo, said on a website described as her official blog that she was “disappointed to hear [Obama] compare the situation in Bahrain to that of the current situation in Iraq and the unfolding tragedies in Syria”. [Reuters, 9/26/2013]

Algeria battles recruiters from Jabhat al-Nusra
Algeria continues to maintain pressure on the jihadist recruiting network targeting Maghreb youth to fight in Syria alongside Jabhat al-Nusra against the Syrian regime. Its security services, which have succeeded in dismantling some dormant cells in charge of recruiting Algerians to carry out jihad in what they call the Levant, have had to deal with groups operating in the provinces of Algiers, Ghardaia, Tebessa, Tlemcen, Oued Souf, Djelfa, Tiaret, Biskara, IIlizi and Annaba throughout the last six months. [Al Monitor, 9/26/2013]