US allies were drafting plans for air strikes and other military action against Syria on Tuesday, as President Bashar al-Assad’s enemies vowed to punish a poison gas attack that Washington called a “moral obscenity.”


Egypt Journalists’ Syndicate says its constitutional recommendations ignored
The Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate said in a statement on Monday that the technical committee which is in charge of amending Egypt’s suspended constitution has disregarded the entire range of recommendations proposed by the body. The syndicate stated that its proposals for the prevention of newspapers bans and for scrapping jail penalties for press cases were ignored, adding that the committee had left the relevant articles in the constitution untouched.
[Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 8/26/2013]

Interior minister defends police to rights groups
During a meeting with rights activists Monday, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim defended the practices of the state’s security apparatus and insisted that it respects human rights given that it exercises maximum restraint in using violence. The ministry is keen on challenging “all forms of violence and terrorism” that threaten the lives of citizens, Ibrahim told rights organizations during the meeting, according to state news agency MENA. [Mada Masr, 8/27/2013]

Beblawi: Lagarde comments admit Egypt’s needs
Egypt’s premier said comments by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde acknowledge that Egypt needs assistance. While domestic efforts to resolve the economic crisis are paramount, “that doesn’t mean the IMF should be excluded,” Hazem El-Beblawi told reporters in Cairo. “No wise country would want to cut its relations with international funding organizations.” [Bloomberg, 8/26/2013]

Saudi Arabia provides ‘unequivocal’ support for Egypt’s ‘fight against terrorism’
Arab and Islamic nations must adopt a united front in Egypt’s fight against terrorism, said Saudi Arabia’s minister of culture and media, Abdel Aziz Khoga, in a statement Monday. Saudi ambassador Ahmad Al-Qattan meanwhile said:  “The directive” of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz was “clear and unequivocal towards providing all forms of support to Egypt and its people,” while Khoga expressed Saudi Arabia’s” keenness” to stand with Egypt against terrorism and anyone who tries to “interfere in its internal affairs.” [DNE, 8/27/2013]


Libya thinkers blacklisted online
A hit-list containing names of journalists, artists, and other intellectuals that appeared during Ramadan is being circulated among hard-line religious websites. One of the individuals on the list has already been targeted, and the list includes current Culture Minister Habib Mohammed al-Amin. This comes as Libya witnesses a wave of targeted assassinations. Libyan authorities admit their inability to investigate the threats; security officers already fear being targeted by unknown gunmen. [Magharebia, 8/26/13]

Libya warns will destroy tankers illegally exporting oil
Authorities warned on Monday that it will attack and destroy any tanker that illegally exports oil after forces last week fired at a Liberian-flagged tanker close to Libya’s largest crude oil export terminal. The tanker was seeking to load crude oil that armed protesters blocking the ports are attempting to sell illegally. Protests by security guards and oil workers has led to the closure of many oil fields, cutting exports to less than 500,000 barrels per day. [Reuters, 8/26/13]

Guards open fire to foil Ain Zara prison break
An attempt by armed men posing as protesters to try to break into a prison in a Tripoli suburb and free inmates has left several people wounded. None of the prisoners managed to escape. Guards fired at the protesters outside, but no one was killed. Many of the prisoners held in Ain Zara prison were officials or fighters under the Qaddafi regime. [Libya Herald, 8/26/13]

RPG assault on Sebha police station injures eleven police and civilians
A rocket and gun attack on Sebha’s main police station has left twelve people injured, including one of the attackers. The assault seemed carefully planned. The first rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) was launched, followed by shooting that security officials believe served to distract police and civilians examining the damage for when the second RPG was launched. The eleven injured have been flown to Tunisia for further medical treatment. [Libya Herald, 8/26/13]


West readies attack after Syria gas “obscenity”
US allies were drafting plans for air strikes and other military action against Syria on Tuesday, as President Bashar al-Assad’s enemies vowed to punish a poison gas attack that Washington called a “moral obscenity.”  Facing Russian and Chinese disapproval that will complicate hopes for a united front backed by international law, and keen to win over wary voters at home, Western leaders seem in no rush to pull the trigger. [Reuters, 8/27/2013]

Syria vows to defend itself in case of strikes
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem vowed on Tuesday that his country will defend itself in case of any Western military strikes against it. Muallem said that his country had defenses that would “surprise” the world, and that any such action against it would serve the interests of Israel and al-Qaeda. [Al Arabiya, 8/27/2013]

Turkey, UK urge response in Syria
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday a poison gas attack in Syria last week which killed hundreds of people constituted a “crime against humanity” and poses a test for the international community. British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria was “absolutely abhorrent” and necessitated action from the international community with Britain considering a “proportionate response.” [Reuters, 8/27/2013]

Chuck Hagel: US ready to launch Syria strike
American forces are “ready” to launch strikes on Syria if President Barack Obama chooses to order an attack, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said there was “undeniable” proof that Syria had used chemical weapons. [BBC News, 8/27/2013]


Larayedh: NCA to complete constitution, electoral law by October 23
Prime Minister Ali Larayedh stated at a press conference Tuesday morning that the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) must complete its mandate by October 23, insisting the body operate under a tight deadline in accordance with a new proposal to lead the country out of the current political crisis. Larayedh called on the NCA to complete the constitution and lay the groundwork to hold new elections by the end of this year. [Mosaique FM (French), 8/27/2013

Ennahda lays out new government terms
Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party Ennahda has detailed proposals to end weeks of political crisis, saying they will accept a technocrat government once consensus on the constitution and an election timetable are agreed. A government composed of independents could be formed, a senior Ennahda official said Monday, once the constitution, electoral law, election commission and the dates for presidential and legislative elections have been agreed to. [Al Jazeera, 8/26/2013]

Government declares Ansar al-Sharia terrorist organization
Tunisia has declared Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist organization after obtaining proof it killed two secular politicians and several soldiers, Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said on Tuesday. The group, led by Saifallah Benahssine, a former al-Qaeda fighter in Afghanistan suspected of inciting an attack on the US embassy in Tunis in 2012, is linked to the violence engulfing Tunisia’s Mount Chaambi. [Reuters, 8/27/2013]


AQAP denies US claims of attack on Western embassies
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) responded to President Abdrabo Mansour Hadi’s recent speech at a police college in which he emphasized American military cooperation with Yemen by describing Hadi as a “dealer of war and lies” in a statement released Tuesday. AQAP also denied denied US allegations it is plotting massive attacks that prompted the closure of Western missions in the country this month. [Al Arabiya, Al Masdar (Arabic), 8/27/2013]

Seven dead in clashes between Shiite militants and Houthis
Seven people died on Sunday in Amran on Sunday during clashes between gunmen from the town of Harf Sufyan and Houthi militants. The clash was sparked when residents of the directorate failed to pay financial royalties which are imposed by Houthis on areas they control. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 8/26/2013]

Parliament to resume work on Sunday
The parliament will resume work on Sunday after a break for the holy month of Ramadan. Items to be discussed include the legislative tasks stipulated in the constitution and the National Dialogue Conference. [Al Masdar (Arabic), 8/27/2013]

Makawi meets with representative of Gulf Cooperation Council
Yasin Makawi, vice-president of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) and a representative of the Southern movement, emphasized in a meeting with a Gulf Cooperation Council representative Saad al-Arifi that the Southern movement is supportive of the NDC and eager for its success. Makawi also described the progress and recent obstacles encountered by the NDC. [NDC (Arabic), 8/27/2013]


US denies Palestinian claims: peace talks not cancelled
The United States insisted Monday that no meeting planned as part of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process had been cancelled, despite claims to the contrary. Earlier, a senior Palestinian official had said talks that had been due to be held in Jericho later on Monday had been put on hold because of what he termed this “Israeli crime committed in Qalandiya today.” [Middle East Online, 8/26/2013]

Iraq opposes use of its territory or airspace in attack against Syria
Iraq said Monday it opposes the use of its airspace or territory in any attack on Syria, as Western powers warn of possible military action against Damascus. “Our position is fixed on this subject,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s spokesman said. [Middle East Online, 8/26/2013]

Mansour: Lebanon will not remain silent over Israeli attack against Hezbollah
Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour noted on Tuesday that a war against Syria will have negative repercussions on the entire region. “Lebanon will not remain silent if Israel exploited a strike against Syria to attack Hezbollah in the South,” he said. [Naharnet, 8/27/2013]