The name of the new prime minister will be announced on Saturday and the election of nine members of the Independent Higher Authority for Elections Council (ISIE) could take place early next week, Ettakatol Party member Mouldi Riahi said on Wednesday, as the ISIE selection committee began reexamining candidacies for the electoral board. Former minister Ahmed Mestiri said that he is “not running for prime minister and will not run for any post,” while another former minister Mansour Moalla declined his candidacy, telling TAP he deplored the fact that the candidates for this post had been chosen without prior consultation. [TAP, 10/31/2013]


Egypt accuses Brotherhood of rejecting reconciliation
Egypt said on Wednesday it was committed to reconciliation and accused the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders are due to appear in court next week, of undermining efforts to resolve political turmoil. “The government realizes from its side the importance of reconciliation,” said Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din in a statement. “Those who are until now rejecting or stalling any understandings aimed at achieving reconciliation and stability for the Egyptian people are the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition has called for mass demonstrations across the country starting Friday until the trial of the country’s ousted president begins. Mohammed Morsi plans to represent himself in court, according to Journalists Syndicate Deputy Chief Mohamed al-Damaty. [Reuters, AP, Egypt Independent, 10/31/2013]

Protocol to be signed with interior ministry to secure Egypt’s universities
Prosecutors have ordered the detention of twenty-six people arrested during Wednesday’s clashes between supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi and security forces at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. They are accused gathering illegally, thuggery, destroying public property and possession of weapons. Hassan Eisa, head of Ain Shams University, announced Wednesday that a protocol is expected to be signed Thursday between the Ministry of Interior and the Supreme Council of Universities (SCU) to tighten campus security nationwide. According to Eissa, the SCU has authorized the secretary general of the council and the minister of higher education to sign the security protocol between the interior ministry, universities and the SCU. Higher Education Minister Hossam Eissa has said he does want to see the return of security forces on Egyptian university campuses, adding that both supporters and opponents of the 30 June uprising which ousted Mohammed Morsi from power would agree with him. Eissa said his stance comes from a belief in the police role to protect areas outside universities. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 10/31/2013]

IMF in Egypt for first time since June 30
In its first visit to Egypt since June 30 uprising, an IMF delegation met with Finance Minister Ahmed Galal Wednesday evening. Galal was keen to continue discussions with the global lender over providing Egypt with the technical support to introduce the new Value-Added Tax (VAT), steering clear of ongoing negotiations over the IMF’s $4.8 billion loan. The delegation will stay for three days in Cairo to meet officials from the Egyptian Tax Authority to discuss the VAT implementation criteria. [Ahram Online, 10/30/2013]

Inclusive political dialogue key to increasing EU support for Egypt
The EU is still cautiously observing developments in Egypt after the fall of Mohammed Morsi in the wake of massive protests June 30. And while Štefan Füle, EU commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policies, sees that there are promising signs that the political roadmap announced July 3 is proceeding towards achieving its goals, he also believes that any emerging democracy should include all political forces. Please click the link for his interview with Ahram Online. [Ahram Online, 10/31/2013]


Libya plans refineries to stem dissent
Libya plans to build two oil refineries in the underdeveloped eastern and southern regions, Prime Minister Ali Zidan said on Wednesday in hopes of addressing grievances and protests that have disrupted much of the country’s oil output. One would be a 300,000-barrel per day (bpd) refinery in Tobruk in the east where protesters have blocked the Hariga port for about two months. The other would be a 50,000-bpd refinery in the Fezzan region where workers shut down the Sharara oilfield remains shut down by workers since the weekend. [Reuters, 10/30/2013]

Zidan still keen on selecting, not electing, local municipal councils
Despite acknowledging that preparations for municipal council elections have advanced, Prime Minister Ali Zidan expressed at this week’s press conference his hope that the General National Congress would take up his alternative proposal to allow him to appoint the heads of the municipal councils. Zidan remains concerned that elections could become divisive and drawn out. He sees the role of the councils as part of the executive branch, but also said his appointment of council leaders would be based on local consultations. [Libya Herald, 10/31/2013]

Federalist head distances himself from Jadhran, announces new council of Cyrenaica
Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi, president of the Cyrenaica Transitional Council, has announced the formation of the Council of Cyrenaica in Libya, distancing himself from the Political Bureau of Cyrenaica (PBC), which has control over some oil ports and is led by the former Petroleum Facilities Guard commander Ibrahim Jadhran. Al-Senussi said the PBC proved inflexible when it came to uniting both parties to work toward a common vision, insisting that the objective of a federalist system would be pursued only through legal channels. [Libya Herald, 10/30/2013]

Libya arrests thirty-eight African illegal migrants
Security forces have arrested thirty-eight illegal migrants from various African countries near the Libyan town of Moussalata, according to the state news agency LANA. The government agency tasked with tackling immigration issues has said that the migrants would be questioned before being repatriated to their home countries. Meanwhile, LANA reports that the Libyan navy has rescued eighty-four African migrants off its coast, taking them to the port of Zawiya for processing. Libya faces mounting pressure from Europe to control its borders as the country has become a transit point for an influx of African and Asian migrants seeking to get to Europe. [Tripoli Post, 10/31/2013]


Syria meets deadline to destroy chemical production facilities
Syria has destroyed or rendered inoperable all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, meeting a major deadline in an ambitious disarmament program, the international chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace prize this month, said its teams had inspected twenty-one out of twenty-three chemical weapons sites across the country. The other two were too dangerous to inspect, but the chemical equipment had already been moved to other sites that experts had visited. [Reuters, WSJ, AFP, NYT, Guardian, 10/31/2013]

Jihadi militia capture TV station in Aleppo
The transnational jihadist militia, Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) stormed a television station office yesterday in Aleppo city, taking over all of the equipment and weapons in the office, and claiming that the channel worked for the CIA. The group initially detained the sound specialist but released him last night. [SOHR, 10/30/2013]

Large explosion reported at Syrian army missile base previously targeted by Israel
A large explosion was heard at a Syrian army missile base in Latakia. Reports in July claimed that the Israeli air force struck a missile warehouse that serviced Russian and Syrian interests in the area. Later, American officials said that the strike in July did not succeed in wiping out all of the targeted Russian land-sea missiles, and that Israel was therefore likely to strike again. The official Lebanese news agency reported that Israeli aircrafts were sighted on multiple occasions Wednesday in the south of the country. According to the report, which was based on a press statement by the Lebanese army, the airplanes entered Lebanese airspace before leaving over the Mediterranean Sea near Tripoli and Naqoura. A Facebook page run by Syrian rebels observed that a missile was fired from the sea and struck the Syrian base but did not result in any casualties. [Haaretz, Times of Israel, 10/31/2013]


Tunisian army launches large operation in response to terror threat 
The Tunisian army on Tuesday launched a large-scale operation to track down terrorists in the central Sidi Bouzid region, deploying tanks and helicopters, the defense ministry said. The government also created nine military operation zones throughout the country. In light of the increase in recent attacks, the president’s office released a statement urging citizens to cooperate with security officials and the military to fight terrorism, and the French Embassy in Tunisia released a statement calling on its nationals to increase caution and avoid gathering places. [Magharebia 10/30/2013]

Fitch downgrades Tunisia to BB-; outlook negative
Fitch Ratings has downgraded Tunisia’s long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘BB-‘ from ‘BB+’ and local currency IDR to ‘BB’ from ‘BBB-‘. The outlooks on both IDRs are negative. Fitch has also affirmed Tunisia’s short-term rating at ‘B’ and downgraded the country ceiling to ‘BB’ from ‘BBB-‘. The ratings group explained the action as driven by “the political transition which has been further delayed and increasing uncertainty over the ultimate success of the process. The assassinations of two opposition leaders in February and July 2013 triggered a political crisis, paralyzing decision making and delaying the political transition. Attacks and killings by terrorist groups have gained momentum in recent months, worsening security and stability.” [TAP, 10/30/2013]

Six “terrorists” linked to suicide plots arrested
Tunisia’s interior ministry on Wednesday said special forces arrested six Salafi “terrorists” directly linked to the first suicide bomb plots in the country in over a decade. The ministry said those behind the attacks belonged to Ansar al-Sharia, which the authorities have designated a “terrorist organization” with ties to al-Qaeda. Earlier reports had stated that five individuals were arrested, but the ministry has since updated the total to six. [TAP, 10/31/2013]


Checkpoint attack kills two soldiers, civilian in Yemen
Suspected al-Qaeda gunmen shot dead on Thursday two soldiers and a civilian in an attack on an army checkpoint in the southern province of Abyan, a local official said. The assailants opened fire at a checkpoint in the Ahwar area, and sped away in their car,” said the official, adding that the attack left also three people wounded. “The attackers, who are suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda, managed to escape,” the official said. [AFP/Gulf News, 10/31/2013]

Benomar continues efforts to bring all Hirak representatives back to NDC
A member of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) confirmed that the eighty-five representatives from the southern Hirak are still divided and have yet to make a decision about their participation in the conference. Another source added that envoys from the National Congress for the people of the south were in Sana’a to receive comments from UN representative Jamal Benomar. Benomar is in communication with southern representatives to convince Hirak participants in the 8+8 committee to return to the dialogue in order to resolve the southern issue. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 10/31/2013]

Cabinet condemns violence in Dammaj, militant attacks
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, ministers condemned acts of violence in Dammaj. The cabinet members called on all parties to immediately stop using violence and to use dialogue to address problems. The cabinet also discussed continued militant attacks in Bayda and Hadramawt and called on the defense and interior ministers to tighten security to thwart plans for future attacks. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), 10/30/2013]

NDC to review report of rights and freedoms committee
The third plenary meeting of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) continued today with participants hearing the results from the committee on rights and freedoms. The report included 226 constitutional and legal directives as well as sixteen recommendations. Many of the outcomes deal with public rights and freedoms. [NDC (Arabic), 10/31/2013]


Algeria, Morocco trade insults over Western Sahara
Algeria on Tuesday branded as unacceptable comments published by official Moroccan media in response to criticism of its human rights policy in Western Sahara. In a speech delivered by the foreign minister, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika referred to what he called “the massive and systematic human rights violations that take place inside the occupied territories to suppress the peaceful struggle” of the Sahrawis for freedom of expression and association. Morocco’s official MAP news agency accused Algiers, which backs the pro-independence Polisario Front in Western Sahara, of seeking to further “its hegemonic designs in the region,” and the government recalled the Moroccan ambassador in Algiers. [AFP, 10/30/2013]

Bahrain police close art display on pro-democracy uprising
Bahraini authorities have shut and dismantled an exhibition on anti-government protests staged by the main Shi’ite opposition group al-Wefaq, saying it violates the law and incites hatred. The “Museum of the Revolution” exhibition was closed on Wednesday two days after al-Wefaq opened it at one of its offices, displaying samples of used riot-control munitions, paintings and artifacts depicting the pro-democracy protests. “The General Directorate of the Capital Governorate Police has found materials inside a building that the [al-Wefaq] society had transformed into a location intended to reinforce hatred,” state news agency BNA said on Thursday. [Ahram Online, 10/31/2013]

White House says al-Qaeda in Iraq now ‘transnational threat’
Al Qaeda’s violent resurgence in Iraq and expansion into Syria now represents a “transnational threat network” that could possibly reach from the Mideast to the United States, according to the White House. The teaming of al Qaeda’s Iraqi cell and affiliated Islamic militant groups in Syria into the new Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has developed into “a major emerging threat to Iraqi stability… and to us,” a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday. Keeping ISIS from destabilizing the Iraqi government and expanding into other areas in the region is a “major focus” of this week’s visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to Washington. [The Hill, 10/31/2013]