Tunisian youths have voiced dissatisfaction at the lack of opportunity to contribute to the political dialogue. Naima Charmiti, a thirty-two year old who runs the arabesque.tn news website stated that “the revolution of the youths has been confiscated by the old who were hiding at home or abroad during the popular uprising.” Salem Ayari, secretary general of the Tunisian union for unemployed graduates, said the problem is that the political elites simply consider youths incompetent. Ben Abdessalem, a member of the Ennahda Movement and foreign minister under former Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali explained, “Tunisia is in a situation where you don’t go to someone who has no experience in government as prime minister.” [AFP/Ahram Online, 11/6/2013]


The presidency is keen on issuing the protest law; Islamists will oppose
At a press conference on Wednesday, presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi expressed the presidency’s “keenness on issuing the Protest Law soon” adding that it will not be issued until “it is ratified by the cabinet and state council.” International rights groups say it will effectively ban demonstrations. A hardline Egyptian Islamist group has said it will rally in defiance of the law designed to regulate protests  “We will protest against the law as soon as soon as it is ratified and we will be on the lookout,” said Alaa Abu al-Nasr, secretary general of Islamist group al-Jama’a al-Islamiya’s political wing, the Building and Development Party. [DNE, Reuters/Aswat Masriya, 11/7/2013]

Egyptian journalists launch new watchdog against torture
‘Journalists against torture,’ a new body aimed at denouncing the torture and mistreatment of Egyptian journalists at the hands of the authorities, was launched Tuesday. The founding statement of the group was signed by 60 journalists working across 35 media outlets. “We will file collective complaints with the general prosecution to investigate the continuous rights violations journalists are subjected to,” founding member Ashraf Abbas told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website, adding that violations have “increased in the recent period, including cases of arrest, torture, and physical harm.” [Ahram Online, 11/6/2013]

Egypt’s foreign reserves drop in October to $18.6 billion
Egypt’s Net International Reserves (NIR) dropped $119 million in October 2013 to record $18.6 billion, announced the state’s Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) on Thursday. The fall is NIR’s second consecutive drop as they slipped by $200 million in September after the CBE held its largest exceptional auction early September, selling $1.3 billion of its foreign reserves to cover strategic imports such as wheat, meat, and cooking oil. Mohamed Abu Basha, an economist at the Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes told Ahram Online that the slight dip of the foreign reserves is attributed to the usual commitment of the CBE to meet the country’s staples. [Ahram Online, AP, 11/7/2013]

United States should show equal keenness on Egypt relations, says presidential spokesman
Egypt is keen on its relationship with the US, but the latter has to feel the same way for Egypt, presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi said in a press conference Wednesday. Badawi said that even though Egypt is interested in staying on good terms with the US, it is more keen on the Egyptian people’s will and on “national Egyptian dignity.” Also on Wednesday, the Egyptian foreign ministry said that Cairo would see intensive visits in the coming period from a number of Congressmen as a show of the US government’s efforts to maintain good relations with Egypt. Ministry spokesperson Badr Abdel Atty said a delegation headed by Robert Karem, senior adviser to the Foreign Affairs Office of the US House of Representatives, is coming to assess the progress of the road map and relay the truth to Congress so as to make the appropriate decisions concerning Egypt. [Ahram Online, SIS, Egypt Independent, 11/6/2013]


Political protesters seek halt to Libyan gas exports to Italy
Raising the stakes in their demand for greater political rights, protesters from the minority Amazigh ethnic group encamped at a gas terminal in Libya’s western region are calling for a halt to gas exports to Italy, according to the chief executive of Italy’s Eni oil company, which co-owns the Mellitah terminal with Libya’s National Oil Corporation. The head of the oil workers’ union in Mellitah said tensions at the terminal have risen after an initial deadline by the protesters expired on Tuesday without their demands being met. The Amazigh are demanding a greater allocation of seats on the committee to be elected to draft Libya’s constitution. [Reuters, 11/6/2013]

Government renews threats over illegal oil exports
Responding to what it says are renewed moves to illegally export Libyan oil, the government warned oil companies not to buy from export terminals seized by militias in the country’s eastern region, saying such deals were a “blatant violation” of Libyan sovereignty. Meanwhile, Austria’s OMV cut its production forecast for 2013, citing output problems in Libya and Yemen due to security issues. BP is negotiating transferring stake to Libya’s National Oil Corporation, saying its onshore blocks do not meet the company’s security standards. Prime Minister Ali Zidan and his cabinet announced that provisions have been made for the absorption of all revolutionaries into the armed forces, with all militias expected to be dissolved by the end of this year. After that, anyone carrying a weapon without authorization would be considered “an enemy of the state.” [Libya Herald, AP/NPR, 11/6/2013]

Government ups oil salaries by 67 percent, others by 20 percent
The government announced that employees at Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) will receive a 67 percent salary increase as of January 1, 2014. Other government employees have been awarded a 20 percent salary increase. According to Deputy Minister of Oil and Gas Omar Shakmak, the pay raise is for having “persevered through the hardship” and that it is the first for NOC employees since 2007. [Libya Herald, 11/6/2013]

Communication a government problem, says think tank meeting
At a gathering organized by the Sadeq Institute, Libya’s first post-revolution think tank, Libyan analysts, political figures, and activists gathered to discuss the future of the North African country. Among the issues addressed was the Libyan government’s failure to communicate effectively with the people, as one analyst pointed out that government has sufficient human resources but is falling short of performing effective outreach. Many also agreed that the government needs to be reorganized insofar as decentralizing power while retaining a unitary system. [Libya Herald, 11/6/2013]


Syria army backed by Hezbollah retakes key rebel town near Damascus
Syrian troops backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters and other pro-regime militiamen retook a major rebel enclave south of Damascus on Thursday, severing a key opposition supply line. The recapture was part of a broader army campaign that has seen a string of towns in the area fall into regime hands. The regime’s recapture of Sbeineh, a key rebel stronghold south of Damascus, comes nine days into campaign aimed at cutting off one of the main rebel supply lines into southern Damascus. Closer to the capital, government troops have besieged a number of rebel-held suburbs for months, and UN officials have expressed concern over reports of trapped civilians and severe malnutrition. [AFP, 11/7/2013]

Syrian army pushes back after rebels take large arms depot
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fought rebels in a small town sixty miles north of Damascus on Thursday after video footage showed the opposition captured a huge weapons cache. The looting of hundreds of weapons in the town of Mahin will aid rebels based there, halfway between the capital and Homs, two cities where the opposition has tried to take territory during the civil war. [Reuters, 11/7/2013]

PM says Turkey not hosting jihadists; War economy for jihadists robust in southern Turkey
Turkey is not providing shelter or backing to al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria and will continue to exclude them from its broader support for the Syrian opposition, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday. In Antakya, Turkey a half-dozen military supply stores in the center of this town near the Syrian border are busy catering to a clientele flooding in from all over the Middle East. “Look, we don’t ask our customers their nationalities,” said Tayfur Bereketoglu, the owner of a store bearing his name. “But they have long black beards, they don’t speak Turkish, and the reality is that there is a war next door. Why should we ask where they’re from?” [Reuters, 11/7/2013]

Kerry confident of Geneva; Opposition claims “mission impossible”; Russia seeks alternative
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday he was confident a date could be set within days for Syria peace talks, dubbed Geneva II. Kerry, visiting Amman for talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, was speaking two days after the United States and Russia failed to agree on a date for talks and three days before opposition representatives will convene to vote on participation. The opposition Syrian National Council’s ambassador to Paris said Thursday that Geneva II has become an “impossible mission.” Russian officials on Wednesday stepped up their efforts to promote alternate opposition figures, meeting in Geneva with Rifaat al-Assad, an uncle of President Bashar al-Assad who was forced out of the country in 1984 after attempting to lead a coup. [Reuters, 11/7/2013]


Opposition deputies suspend their participation in NCA
Opposition deputies at the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) announced on Wednesday that they had decided to suspend their participation in the NCA Assembly in protest against the adoption earlier this week of several amendments supported by Ennahda and its allies, which had been approved in the absence of the opposition deputies. [TAP, 11/6/2013]

Tunisia increases defense budget
Tunisia plans to raise next year’s budget for the military and security establishment, intending to use the funds to buy new equipment and supplies to help cope with the growing terrorist threat in the country. Under the 2014 draft budget released on October 30, interior ministry funding goes up 136 million dinars and defense ministry funds climb 305 million dinars. [Magharebia, 11/6/2013]

Pro-government hackers attack newspaper websites
The websites of Tunisian newspapers and other media outlets were hacked on Thursday morning by a group calling itself Fallagas. The group said it hacked the online daily Assabah news and the websites of newspapers Le Temps and L’expression, calling them “shameful media.” Fallagas allegedly supports the government led by Islamist party Ennahda. [ANSAMed, 11/7/2013]


EU representatives condemn violence in Dammaj
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, released a statement on Wednesday expressing concern over the clashes in Dammaj in northern Yemen between the Houthis and the Salafis. According to the statement, “The High Representative calls on all parties to immediately end fighting, and seek a settlement of the conflict through peaceful means.” In addition, the head of the EU delegation in Yemen, Ambassador Bettina Muscheidt, accused Yemen’s neighbors of fueling the conflict in Dammaj in northern Yemen. She also lamented that the violence was interrupting the dialogue process in the country and described the fighting as contributing to a growing humanitarian disaster. [Al Masdar, 11/6/2013]

Transitional justice working group demands the end of GPC boycott
The head of the working group for transitional justice said that the group approved a message to be sent to the presidency of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) about the obstacles the committee faces in producing a report. He noted that the message states that the absence of representatives from the General People’s Congress (GPC) and the Southern Hirak from meetings of the working group impeded the completion of talks about the group’s final report. He explained that the message urged the NDC presidency to compel all representatives to return to the working group and complete the report. [Al Tagheer, 11/6/2013]

Yemen July inflation eases to 12.8 percent, lowest since February
Yemen’s annual inflation eased to 12.8 percent in July, the lowest level since February, as an increase in food prices moderated, central bank data showed on Thursday. Inflation hit a peak of 25 percent in October 2011, then fell as low as 5.5 percent last November as the economy showed signs of revival after two years of political unrest. But price growth bounced back again to hit a sixteen-month high of 14.5 percent in June this year, mainly because of higher prices for food, tobacco and the stimulant qat. [Reuters, 11/7/2013]

Thousands of teachers demonstrate in Sana’a demanding compensation
Thousands of teachers protested in front of the Ministerial Cabinet in Sana’a on Wednesday, condemning the Education Ministry. Teachers say the ministry has yet to deliver on its promise to deliver bonuses and healthcare.  Four separate teachers’ syndicates issued a statement listing their demands. The Education Ministry, according to the statement, made an agreement with the syndicates last year, agreeing to provide annual bonuses for teachers and to raise their salaries according to their degrees and years teaching. [Yemen Times, 11/7/2013]


Kerry in Jordan as settlement spat imperils Mideast peace push
Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Jordan’s king Thursday after reaffirming US opposition to Israeli settlements, as the contentious issue threatens to derail the peace process. The top US diplomat met with King Abdullah II in Amman and was later to hold talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. Abdullah praised Kerry for winning international trust and said his assurances were critical to ensuring the success of the Middle East peace process. [Ahram Online, 11/7/2013]

Morocco king hits back at Western Sahara rights criticism
King Mohammed VI reacted angrily to international criticism of Morocco’s human rights record in the annexed Western Sahara late Wednesday, insisting the kingdom needed no lessons from anybody. The king said the human rights situation was far worse in the small part of the former Spanish colony controlled by the pro-independence Polisario Front and in the refugee camps it runs in the Tindouf region of neighbouring Algeria. [Ahram Online, 11/7/2013]

Algeria enlists allies in corruption fight
Algerian and international experts met in Algiers last week to figure out the best way to end graft and corruption, and restore smuggled funds to their rightful owners. The solution is to strengthen “cooperation with many countries, especially from the Mediterranean sea,” Central Office to Combat Corruption (OCRC) President Abdelmalek Sayeh said on Wednesday at the close of the three-day meeting. Specialists from Algeria and France discussed ways to update anti-corruption laws, judicial practices and inquiries as well as bilateral collaboration between the two countries’ agencies. [Magharebia, 11/6/2013]