The US defense department has confirmed to the Libya Herald that US equipment was stolen in a raid by an unidentified militia on a US base in Tripoli, where US Special Forces were training Libyan army personnel. 

Fox News broke the story about the equipment seizure, claiming that there had been two separate raids and on each occasion the facility had been guarded by Libyan security personnel who did little to defend the base from intruders. There is speculation that the US trainers were in fact a cover for US efforts to identify the perpetrators of the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi last year. [Libya Herald, 9/17/13]



Car bomb explodes at Syria-Turkey crossing
A car bomb exploded on the Syrian side of the main Bab al-Hawa crossing with Turkey on Tuesday and at least a dozen people were taken to nearby hospitals. The explosion occurred at a roadblock manned by Islamist brigades at the entrance of the rebel-held crossing, several hundred meters from the Turkish side. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that security forces downed a Syrian MI-17 military helicopter on Monday, accusing the neighboring nation of violating its airspace in the tense border region, amid a new international diplomatic push to end Syria’s civil war. [Reuters, Naharnet, Daily Star, AP, 9/17/2013]

Syria chemical weapons plan to begin “in days”
A US and Russian-inked program to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons should begin “in a matter of days,” the watchdog tasked with implementing the plan said Monday. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that its experts “are already at work preparing a roadmap that anticipates the various challenges involved in verifying Syria’s declared stockpiles.” [Naharnet, NOW Syria, 9/16/2013]

United States says UN report makes clear Assad regime behind chemical attack
The United States declared Monday that a UN report into a chemical weapons attack in Syria makes it clear that Bashar al-Assad’s regime was responsible. “The information provided in that report that the sarin agent was delivered on surface to surface rockets that only the Assad regime has, makes clear the responsibility,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney said. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius reiterated Carney’s statement on Tuesday, saying that “[the UN report] seems to leave no doubt that the (Assad) regime is behind it.” [NOW Syria, Naharnet, 9/16/2013]

Syria security official says rebels have missiles, sarin gas
Syria rebels possess ground-to-ground missiles and sarin, and a UN report on chemical weapons use shows they carried out attacks near Damascus, a high-ranking Syrian security source said Tuesday. “I categorically deny that we have used sarin gas, for the reason that we had no interest in doing so. We were winning in the battlefield,” the official said a day after a UN report on an August 21 attack was published. [Daily Star, Naharnet, NOW Syria, 9/17/2013]


Salafi representative walks out of constituent assembly over phrasing
The Salafi Nour Party’s representative in the constitutional committee walked out on Monday’s meeting following a heated debate on the future of an article pertaining to Sharia. Sources from the assembly report that the fifty-member committee tasked with overhauling the 2012 Constitution ratified under former President Mohamed Morsi reportedly refused to include the changes to Articles two and three proposed by the Nour Party. [Aswat Masriya, Reuters, Mada Masr, 9/17/2013]

Brotherhood spokesman arrested; Court upholds asset freeze
Spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood Gehad al-Haddad was arrested on Tuesday afternoon in an apartment in Cairo’s Nasr City. Haddad was arrested along with Morsi-era governor of Qalyoubia Hossam Abu al-Bakr. The North Cairo Criminal Court has also upheld requests filed by the General Prosecution demanding freezing the assets of a number of Brotherhood leaders and several of their allies, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater, former Supreme Guide Mahdi Akef, as well as leading members Mahmoud Ezzat, Saad al-Katatni, Essam al-Erian, and Mohamed al-Beltagy. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr,  Ahram Gate (Arabic), 9/17/2013]

Egypt launches EGP 260 million EU-funded projects
The chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, Ahmed al-Wakil, announced on Sunday the launch of eight new regional projects valued EGP 260 million funded by the European Union, according to a press statement. According to the statement, the head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries Mohamed al-Sweidy explained in the conference of launching these projects that they aim to support the sectors of food industry, tourism, textile, solar energy and environment, as well as the construction and modernization of schools. [DNE, 9/16/2013]

Foreign Ministers stress importance of Egypt-Russia relationship
Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov both stressed the importance of the relationship between their two countries on the first of two days of discussions being held in Moscow. Fahmy arrived in the Russian capital on Sunday evening ahead of the talks, scheduled to continue through Monday and Tuesday. The two ministers began discussing ways to strengthen bilateral relations in a number of areas including politics, economics, trade, and regional issues. Fahmy also met with Secretary General of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow on Tuesday, saying it was time for a change in the “contemporary international order.” [DNE, 9/17/2013]


Libya appeals to UK for help removing weapons
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan has asked the United Kingdom for more help to remove weapons that were left from Muammar Qaddafi’s ouster. British Prime Minister David Cameron recognized Libya is facing “huge challenges” and said Britain is doing all it can to help. Zidan also said terrorists from other countries are trying to find a stronghold in Libya. A committee reported to the UN Security Council that caches of weapons and ammunitions from the overthrow of Qaddafi are being flown and shipped into Syria. [AP, 9/17/13]

Preconceived notions about political transition in Libya could be ‘recipe for disappointment,’ top UN official warns Security Council
In his briefing before the UN Security Council, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya Tarek Mitri said that security remains a predominant concern and that free and fair elections in Libya raised expectations that political institutions and forces did not have the capacity to meet. The growing scepticism among the public toward the political process, however, should not be mistaken for a loss of faith in national unity, democracy, and rule of law. “We will not shy away from shouldering our responsibility” in facilitating a national dialogue, said Mitri. [AllAfrica, 9/16/13]

Libya’s biggest western oilfield restarts, east in stalemate
Libya took the first steps toward restarting some of its oil output on Monday as the government struck a tentative deal with protesters in the country’s west, allowing operations to resume at a major oil field. Full output resumption remains slim after a similar deal with protesters in the east collapsed. Prime Minister Ali Zidan insists he still wants to resolve the crisis through dialogue and not by force. ExxonMobil announced it will cut back staff and operations in Libya due to the deteriorating security situation. [Reuters, 9/16/13]


Tunisia frees jailed journalist; Journalists strike begins
A Tunisian journalist whose detention last week sparked an outcry was freed on bail Monday ahead of a planned media strike in protest against perceived press restrictions imposed by the Islamist-led government. Zied al-Heni was placed in pretrial detention on Friday for accusing the public prosecutor of fabricating evidence implicating a cameraman in an egg-throwing attack on Culture Minister Mehdi Mabrouk. Journalists have gone on a strike called for by the National Union of Tunisian Journalists to protest press restrictions imposed by the Islamist-led government. [Tunis Times, Ahram Online, Tunisia Live, Al-Jazeera, 9/17/2013]

Ennahda parliamentary group requests hearing of interior and justice ministers
Ennahda official Sahbi Atig requested that the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) president call a plenary session  to hold hearings with the ministers of justice and the interior about the assassination of NCA member Mohamed Brahmi. The hearings are intended to determine whether the interior ministry was responsible for providing information on the subject of Brahmi’s assassination. The meeting request follows the release on Saturday of a security administration memo from July 15  in which the CIA warned of a potential threat to Brahmi. [TAP, 9/17/2013]

The office of the constituent assembly and heads of parties meet to organize plenary session
The office of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) and the heads of the blocs represented in the council convened a meeting chaired by Council President Mustapha ben Jaafar on Monday to plan the plenary sessions to be held today and Thursday. In today’s session, NCA representatives will consider five bills on finance and development, according to an announcement by the president’s assistant. Thursday’s session will address five additional bills. [TAP, 9/17/2013]


Former ruling party delays Southern Issue’s proposed solution
The General People’s Congress (GPC), former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s political party, asked for more time before submitting their final approval of the solutions proposed by National Dialogue Conference’s Southern Issue subcommittee, which was formed last week after boycotting southerners returned to the conference. According to the committee’s spokesman Mohammed Qahtan, the GPC should have signed the final document for the proposed solutions, which include a proposal for the shape of Yemen’s state on Monday morning. [Yemen Times,  Al Masdar (Arabic), Al Tagheer (Arabic), 9/17/2013]

Yemen receives aircraft delivery
Yemen’s officials proudly confirmed on Monday it received its first two US reconnaissance airplanes, in keeping with Sanaa-Washington’s anti-terror aid support package. A staunch ally of the United States in fighting al-Qaeda, Yemen’s President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi convinced officials in Washington earlier this year to increase their direct military support by providing the impoverished nation with the means to defend its territories against Islamic extremists and monitor their activities through the use of state of the art technology. [Yemen Post, 9/16/2013]

Marib gas station out of service after saboteurs assault transmission lines
A new attack on exposed electric power lines in Marib province at dawn on Tuesday led to the closure of a Marib gas station. According to a government official in the ministry of electricity and energy, the vandals shot at the transmission lines in al-Shabwan Bawadi region of Marib province, causing power to go out in most of the governorates. [Yemen Press (Arabic), Al Masdar (Arabic), Al Tagheer (Arabic), 9/17/2013]

Truce reached in Amran
A year-long ceasefire agreement was reached in Amran between tribesmen loyal to the Houthis and tribesmen loyal to the al-Ahmar family on Saturday. The mediation committee created by President Hadi negotiated the unconditional one-year long ceasefire that stipulates the formation of a subcommittee to further discuss and resolve the root of the dispute between the two tribes.  The Houthi-affiliated Adr tribe and the al-Osaimat tribe, loyal to the al-Ahmar family, have had fierce clashes over the past month, resulting in over twenty casualties. The UN representative in Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has expressed concern about the situation, saying that the status quo in the region is unstable and puts civilians at risk. [Yemen Times, 9/17/2013]


Morocco arrests website editor for airing al-Qaeda video
Moroccan police on Tuesday arrested the editor of a popular news website, Lakome, for airing a video posted by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that incites “acts of terrorism” in the kingdom. The arrest follows Lakome’s publication of “a video attributed to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), containing a clear call and a direct incitement to commit acts of terrorism” in Morocco, the public prosecutor said in a statement. [Ahram Online, 9/17/2013]

Saudi Arabia ratifies GCC security treaty
Saudi Arabia has ratified the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security treaty, endorsed by the GCC Supreme Council at its thirty-third summit in Bahrain in December and promoted as crucial in boosting collective security among the six-member states. Some of the major features of the pact that were mentioned in the official Saudi media communiqué include cooperation among the state parties to prosecute those who break the law, regardless of their nationality, as well as taking the necessary action against them. [Gulf News, 9/17/2013]

Bahrain questions Shiite opposition figure over inciting violence accusations
Bahraini authorities referred Khalil Marzooq, a former Shiite opposition member of parliament, to the public prosecutor on Tuesday, the ministry of the interior said on Twitter. The ministry did not provide a reason for summoning Marzooq, but former Member of Parliament Ali al-Aswad claims, “He is accused of encouraging youth to engage in violence and trying to topple the regime.” [The Daily Star, Naharnet, 9/17/2013]