Two people died and twelve people were wounded in the northern city of Tripoli on Monday in fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese army which has spilled over from the war next door. Lebanon, which is plagued by sectarian tension, is struggling to curb violence stemming from the civil war in Syria. The dead were from the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh, where gunmen on Monday clashed with the Lebanese army, which is trying to curb the violence from Syria. A soldier and a resident of Jebel Mohsen, the nearby Alawite enclave which the army entered on Sunday as part of an increased presence throughout the city were also wounded, residents said. The clashes, which broke out last Tuesday and continued over the weekend, have killed seventeen people and wounded more than a hundred. [Reuters, 10/29/2013]


Morsi refuses to recognize Egypt court due to try him; Judges recuse themselves
Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi has refused to recognize a court due to try him next week, declining to delegate lawyers to defend him over murder allegations. Morsi is due to appear in court alongside fourteen others on November 4 on charges of inciting murder and torture during deadly clashes between his supporters and opponents outside the Presidential Palace in December 2012. Judges presiding in an ongoing trial of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Mohamed Badie and codefendants on charges of incitement of murder have also recused themselves from the case. The three judges from the South Cairo Criminal Court cited a conflict of interest as their reason for stepping down, without giving further details. [Ahram Online, AP, 10/29/2013]

Military representative walks out of constitution meeting over right to information
In the latest chapter of ongoing disagreement within the committee of fifty tasked with rewriting the constitution, the Armed Forces representative pulled out from a closed meeting on Tuesday during a conversation over the freedom of information clause, several media reported. According to sources cited by the privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper, Magd Eddin Barakat pushed to add to the information clause a proviso specifying that it only referred to information that did not harm national security. The committee, however, was intent on leaving out this addition, particularly youth representatives, according to Al-Watan. Some members based their objection on the fact that national security is not clearly defined in the constitution, and remains a loose and vague concept. [Mada Masr, 10/29/2013]

Nour Party does not mind Sisi’s presidential candidacy
Nour Party media official Nader Bakkar said that the party is not against Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi running the upcoming presidential elections, adding that toppled President Mohamed Morsi’s return was impossible. Bakkar said in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, published Tuesday that the Nour Party has not specified a presidential candidate yet to back in the upcoming elections, adding the party does not mind Sisi”s nomination. Bakkar criticized the Muslim Brotherhood leaders saying they lost many chances for reconciliation, instead calling for protests that hindered any progress. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 10/29/2013]

Egypt’s April 6 Movement elects Amr Ali as new head  
The April 6 movement has chosen Amr Ali as its new head, succeeding founder and long-time leader Ahmed Maher. In the group’s first elections since its launch in 2008, they chose Amr Ali, cofounder and member of the organizational committee, with almost 56 percent of votes. The results were announced in a press conference Monday, a week after the elections took place. Maher, who has been the leader of the group for almost six years, did not run in the elections, choosing instead to take on an advisory role. He is expected to join a council of elders, to be elected soon. [Ahram Online, 10/28/2013]


Libya gunmen steal $54m in bank van robbery
In another sign of growing lawlessness, gunmen have attacked a central bank van in the city of Sirte, stealing $54 million in several currencies, according to the official LANA news agency. Ten heavily armed men attacked a van headed for the Sirte branch of the Libyan central bank. The van was accompanied by only one security vehicle, and the guards were unable to fend off the assault. Head of the Sirte council Abdel-Fattah Mohammed called the robbery “a catastrophe for the whole of Libya.”  [Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, 10/29/2013]

Sawan threatens to pull Justice and Construction Party ministers out of government
Mohamed Sawan, head of the Islamist Justice and Construction Party, threatened that the party would withdraw its members from the government and rejected the notion that the party was the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the statement, seen as a response to the Brotherhood’s growing unpopularity, Sawan expressed that his party wants a solution to Libya’s political crisis, which he claims are driven by a clash between those looking for “real change” as a result of the revolution and those who merely want to maintain a hold on what they had gained under the former regime. [Libya Herald, 10/28/2013]

Libya considers sale of nine state firms
Libya is considering the sale of a steel plant and eight other state companies as part of efforts to overhaul an inefficient industrial sector. Since the revolution, the government has had little success in convincing local and foreign investors to help bolster ailing industrial plants. Although political infighting has complicated plans to overhaul legalization and prepare firms for sale, the government has as a first step launched a process to estimate the value and performance of nine firms which could be sold. Among the firms are the Misrata steel mill company, a soft drinks firm, and a factory for truck trailers near Tripoli. [Reuters, Libya Business News, 10/28/2013]

Two killed, five critically injured in shooting at Benghazi protest
Two people were killed and another five critically injured Monday night when gunmen opened fire on a group of protesters outside a Benghazi hotel. The protesters were a group from the Ubaidi tribe, staging a peaceful protest demanding investigations into the killing of Major General Abdel-Fattah Younis who was murdered along with two other colleagues in July 2011. [Libya Herald, 10/29/2013]


Syria declares forty-one chemical weapons facilities at twenty-one sites; all but two inspected
The chief of the global chemical weapons watchdog says Syria has declared forty-one facilities at twenty-three chemical sites where it stored approximately 1,300 tons of chemical precursors and agents and 1,230 unfilled munitions. Inspectors overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile have corroborated information provided by Syria at thirty-seven of the forty-one facilities. However, inspectors could not visit two sites because of security risks and destruction of the chemical agents remains a daunting task. [Al Arabiya, WSJ, 10/29/2013]

Brahimi believes Assad could play role in transition; Warns of descent into “Somalization”
UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who arrived in Damascus Monday as part of his regional tour to advocate for an international peace conference, believes President Bashar al-Assad could contribute to the transition to a “new” Syria, but not as the country’s leader. Brahimi also warned that failure to resolve the conflict could result in Syria’s “Somalization,” referring to Somalia as a byword for a failed state. “The real danger is a sort of ‘Somalisation,’ but even more deep and lasting than what we have seen in Somalia.” [AFP, 10/29/13]

A spike in the trafficking of amphetamines helping to fuel and fund fighters
In one month, Lebanese authorities confiscated more than $200 million worth of a potent amphetamine compound known by its commercial moniker, Captagon. In the Persian Gulf and the Levant, Captagon is a highly sought after street drug, and the lawlessness inside Syria is making it even easier to obtain. [Time, 10/28/2013]


Ennahda, opposition discuss candidates for new premier
Tunisia’s ruling Islamists Ennahda and opposition parties held talks on Monday to agree on a new prime minister who will lead a caretaker government. Ten key candidates, including former central bank members and economists are under debate by a committee made up of representatives of the government, opposition parties and two figures from non-government organizations. “The name of the new prime minister will be disclosed next Saturday, in accordance with the roadmap schedule,” said the secretary-general of the Tunisian General Labour Union, one of the bodies mediating the talks. Lord Norman Warner, head of a European parliamentary delegation on a visit in Tunisia, reaffirmed on Monday in a meeting with interim Prime Minister Ali Larayedh Europe’s “readiness to support Tunisia in this delicate transitional stage and help it establish total democracy.”  [Reuters/Ahram Online, 10/29/2013]

After week of attacks, security forces protest in downtown Tunis
On Monday the National Union of the Interior Security Forces staged a march in downtown Tunis to pay tribute to the national guards and policemen killed in recent attacks. Marchers held symbolic funerals to honor several of their own killed and to protest what they say is a growing politicization of the security forces. Protesters marched down the avenue chanting, “no parties, no coalitions, Tunisia’s security is above all,” and “the people want republican security.” Also on Monday, Tunisia’s minister of justice in an interview with Mosaique FM commented on the release of individuals charged with terrorism in last week’s attacks, saying that the judicial process should rely on facts and concrete details since individuals are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. [Tunisia Live, TAP 10/28/2013]

Islamist and secular student unions clash at Tunis university
On Tuesday members of the leftist General Union of Tunisian Students (UGET) and its Islamist rival the General Tunisian Union of Students (UGTE) clashed at the Institute of Press and Information Sciences in Tunis, leaving five students injured, according to the UGET secretary-general. The violence erupted after a member of UGTE allegedly put up a poster calling for the resumption of classes in universities, while UGET had called for a general strike. [Shems FM (French), 10/29/2013]

Islamist hackers take over minister’s Facebook page
Tunisia’s human rights and transitional justice minister’s official Facebook page and Twitter account have been hacked by an Islamist hacking group called Fallaga. The first Facebook posts from the group appeared on Saturday and as of Monday evening, the account was still under the group’s control. The hackers, known by the handle TN-X2X, are self-described Islamists but little else is known about them. The group condemned what they described as the negligence of the ministry toward treatment of detainees. [Tunisia Live, 10/28/2013]


Substantial Hirak participation and low Houthi participation in NDC meetings Monday
Amid conflicting reports, the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) record shows that about half of Hirak representatives were present at the NDC sessions on Monday, while only about 10 percent of Houthi representatives attended. Yemen Times quoted Ali al-Boukhaiti, the spokesperson for the Houthis at the NDC, saying, “Reports of our return to participate in the plenary are untrue.” Abdulla Naji Rashid, a leading member of Hirak, reportedly issued a similar statement regarding Hirak participation. [Yemen Times, 10/29/2013]

Kidnapped NDC member is found in poor health
A source close to National Dialogue Conference (NDC) member Hamza Kamali, who was reported missing yesterday, said that a gang grabbed Kamali in front of a bank near March 21 park and abducted him in an ambulance. The source accused the gang of having links to former President Saleh and said that gang members beat Kamali and asked him about his relationship with Ali Mohsen and Hamid al-Ahmar. Kamali was found on Monday near his father’s hospital in poor health. [Al Tagheer (Arabic), Al Masdar (Arabic), 10/29/2013]

Saada working group to vote on solutions Tuesday
Members of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) Saada Issue Working Group committee agreed to vote on proposed solutions on October 29. The decision was approved by all components in the committee except General People’s Congress (GPC) representatives and Houthi representatives. There have been a total of sixty proposals to the Saada conflict approved by the solutions committee. [NDC, 10/29/2013]

Qirbi says US strikes against al-Qaeda is the will of the Yemenis
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said in an interview yesterday that US drone raids targeting sites believed to house members of al-Qaeda occur with the will of the Yemeni people and the coordination of the Yemeni government, particularly in identifying al-Qaeda leaders who plan to threaten the country’s security. [Al Masdar, 10/29/2013]


Kuwait emir says ‘old concepts’ must change, urges reform
Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah called Tuesday for comprehensive reforms in the oil-rich Gulf state, saying it was time to change old concepts. “It is time to launch a new decisive phase and a major qualitative move aimed at achieving comprehensive reforms and complete development” programs, the ruler said at the opening of the parliament that was elected in July amid a bitter political crisis. The emir’s announcement comes a day after the government said it planned to review subsidy policies and charges on public services and commodities. [AFP/Ahram Online, 10/29/2013]

Jordan urged to end military trials of protesters
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday urged Jordan’s parliament to amend or eliminate “vague” penal code provisions used by authorities to try peaceful pro-reform protesters on terrorism-related charges. The Jordanian government has proposed to parliament, currently in recess, a bill restricting the jurisdiction of the military State Security Court over civilians to four categories of offenses: terrorism, treason, currency counterfeiting and drugs. But the New York-based HRW called on legislators to “narrow the overly broad definition of terrorism to make the new restriction meaningful.” [AFP/Ahram Online, 10/29/2013]

Algeria: economic transformation post-2014 elections
A top economic consultant and advisor of the Algerian government, Abdelhak Lamiri, has hinted that the government could be announcing economic reforms which could open the economy to foreign investors after the 2014 elections. Speaking on the sidelines of the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit, Lamiri stated that “nothing will happen on the economic side before the presidential election of 2014,” but added that the delay is “understandable” because the reforms will be aimed at establishing “a long-term plan and decisions about the profound reengineering of the national economy.” [North Africa Post, 10/28/2013]