....Al-Qaeda in Syria raids wedding party, warns against music and singing. Al-Qaeda’s main branch in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has raided a wedding party in the suburb of Aleppo and ordered stopping music and singing, the Asharq al-Awsat reported, quoting Syrian activists.
“One leader of the Islamic State warned residents that if a music band is invited to a wedding again, the person responsible will be arrested because this is immoral,” the newspaper reported, citing an internet page of the Syrian Revolution in Menbej.
The al-Qaeda leader reportedly asked the man in charge of the wedding to memorize a verse of the Quran and attend several religious courses at al-Qaeda’s center in Maskana, near Aleppo.
The newspaper said Syrian activists are increasingly cautious when talking about ISIL because of the group’s increasing influence in areas outside the government’s control.......
....Inspectors in Syria Have Only One Site Left to Check. International chemical weapons inspectors reported further progress on Thursday in eliminating Syria’s stockpile, saying they had verified the destruction of 22 of the 23 sites that the Syrian government declared had been used for the production and mixing of the banned munitions........
From EgyptIndependent: Egypt will expand cooperation with Russia in the wake of a diplomatic spat with long-time ally the United States following president Mohamed Morsi's overthrow, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said Saturday.
The foreign minister, in a interview with AFP, was speaking ahead of a visit on Wednesday by Russia's defence and foreign ministers to discuss arms sales and political relations.
Fahmy said strained relations with Washington, which suspended some of its massive military aid to Cairo after the army toppled Morsi, had improved with Secretary of State John Kerry's visit last Sunday.
But Egypt is taking a more "independent" tack and broadening its choices, he said.
"Independence is having choices. So the objective of this foreign policy is to provide Egypt with choices, more choices. So I'm not going to substitute. I'm going to add," he said.
"I see this as a beginning of a new phase," he said...........
Thousands of mostly African workers gathered in Saudi Arabia's capital city to demand repatriation after two people were killed in rioting over a visa crackdown by authorities.
A government statement said one of those who died in Riyadh was a Saudi, while the other was not identified. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian man was killed in a visa raid last week.
Ethiopian foreign minister Tedros Adhanom condemned the deaths, and said his government was working to bring its citizens home...........
24 Killed, 84 Wounded in Iraq Bombings Targeting Worshippers, Shoppers.........
...Iraq takes first delivery of Russian helicopters in $4.3 billion deal
Iraq has taken possession of four Russian-made Mi-35 helicopter gunships, officials say.
It's the first delivery of military equipment in a multi-billion-dollar weapons deal between the two countries, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
Iraq expects to receive about 40 Mi-35 and Mi-28NE attack helicopters by the end of the year, said Abbas al-Bayati, a lawmaker with President Nouri al-Maliki's ruling party.....
Libya may find it difficult to cover its budget expenditure from next month and could lose Italy as a gas and oil business partner unless strikes blocking oil ports and fields end, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said on Sunday.
A mix of militias, tribes and civil servants seeking political rights or higher pay have seized oil ports and fields across the OPEC producer, knocking down output to a fraction of its capacity of 1.25 million barrels a day.
Zeidan said the government had given the protesters a week to 10 days to clear the blocked oil fields and ports. "Otherwise we will take measures," he said, declining to be more specific.
An autonomy movement in eastern Libya, which has seized several oil ports, said on Sunday it had formed a regional oil firm in a challenge to the central government in Tripoli.........
Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has warned his people of the possibility of foreign powers intervening unless the country's current chaos ends.
"The international community cannot tolerate a state in the middle of the Mediterranean that is a source of violence, terrorism and murder," said Zeidan on Sunday in an appeal aimed at rallying his campaign against militia groups.
Citing the example of Iraq, he warned against "the intervention of foreign occupation forces" in Libya........
A Syrian rebel suicide bomber detonated a car full of explosives in front of a key government military intelligence office in the southern Syrian city of Sweida on Wednesday, killing a commander and about seven other officials working for Air Force Military Intelligence – one of the Assad regime’s most critical institutions.
It was the latest of a rising trend of suicide assaults in Syria’s two-and-a-half-year long civil war. At least 90 such attacks have taken place since the first one in Damascus in December 2011. Of those, 26 have been recorded in the last six months by analysts who track the activities of the al Qaida-affiliated rebel groups among the forces fighting to topple President Bashar Assad.
Suicide bombings have featured in other wars. But the tactic has distinguished itself in Syria because the groups employing it seem to be doing it far more selectively than in other recent conflicts, especially compared to the war in Iraq, according to analysts who have studied the data of both conflicts........
...Three years after Tunisia's revolution, youths who formed the vanguard of protests find themselves sidelined from the political arena by veteran leaders determined to hold on to power.
But since then, "the revolution of the youths has been confiscated by the old who were hiding at home or abroad during the popular uprising," said Naima Charmiti.
"Our dinosaurs haven't stopped telling us that we have a political future, but in reality they haven't done anything concrete," lamented the 32-year-old who runs the arabesque.tn news website.........
Former presidential hopeful Khaled Ali announced on Sunday his resignation from Egypt's Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), in another blow to the group amid recurrent walkouts.
On Saturday, the leftist group received the resignation of some 280 of its members, who cited disenchantment with the party's internal policies and leadership decisions....
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah was the subject of mocking at a Lebanese television program this week, raising anger among his supporters who protested against the show.
His supporters took to the streets on Friday, burning tires and blocking roads in several parts of Lebanon.
It wasn’t the first time Nasrallah was mocked in Basmat Watan, a slapstick program aired by LBC TV.
In 2006 Nasrallah’s character appeared in the program and the result was a similar one; people protesting and burning tires in the streets.......
....Hundreds of Syrians fled to Jordan on Saturday as officials warned that an ongoing lack of funds is causing delays to the opening of the country’s third Syrian camp.
According to the Jordan Armed Forces, some 400 Syrians crossed into Jordan on Friday and 300 on Saturday.
The vast majority of the new arrivals had fled the conflict-struck northern cities of Homs, Aleppo and Hama for Jordan via eastern desert routes close to the Iraqi border in order to avoid rising violence across southern Syria, relief officials said.
The weekend influx came as Jordanian officials warned against a lack of international support to Syrian host countries which they claim is now threatening the opening of the country’s third Syrian refugee camp.....
Turkey is alarmed by extremist militants in Syria border area. Turkey has welcomed Syrian rebels in the border area, but as the conflict drags on, the rise of Al Qaeda-linked militants becomes a concern. In this bustling border town, anonymous apartments serve as safe houses for Syrian rebel commanders, clinics for wounded fighters and opposition media centers equipped with banks of sophisticated laptops and video gear.
Turkey has allowed an assemblage of Syrian rebels and their associates, including secular activists, cash-wielding sheiks, arms traffickers and Islamist militants, to use its territory as a transit route, logistics hub and rest stop.
The government has been very clear that it wants to see Syrian President Bashar Assad removed from power. But after more than two years, the conflict is dragging on. Al Qaeda-linked rebel groups are strengthening rapidly in Syria and seizing territory close to the Turkish frontier, the eastern boundary of the NATO alliance.......
Armenia Offers Alternative Civilian Service to Conscientious Objectors.
The government of Armenia appears to have finally recognized the rights of those who conscientiously object to military service. On October 23, 2013, Armenia’s Republican Commission heard and granted the applications for alternative civilian service to 51 of more than 90 of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had applied for this new program (the Commission will also consider the remaining applications). The Commission then went to the Erebuni Prison and granted the applications submitted by 6 of the 20 imprisoned Witnesses. These six prisoners were released on October 24, 2013. The Commission will consider the applications of the remaining imprisoned Witnesses who opt for alternative service and is expected to release those men who choose the program.........
Saudi Arabia to spend millions to train new rebel force. Riyadh 'fighting two wars in Syria' as new force Jaysh al-Islam excludes al-Qaida affiliates in bid to defeat Assad regime audi Arabia is preparing to spend millions of dollars to arm and train thousands of Syrian fighters in a new national rebel force to help defeat Bashar al-Assad and act as a counterweight to increasingly powerful jihadi organisations.
Syrian, Arab and western sources say the intensifying Saudi effort is focused on Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam or JAI), created in late September by a union of 43 Syrian groups. It is being billed as a significant new player on the fragmented rebel scene.
The force excludes al-Qaida affiliates such as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, but embraces more non-jihadi Islamist and Salafi units.
According to one unconfirmed report the JAI will be trained with Pakistani help, and estimates of its likely strength range from 5,000 to more than 50,000. But diplomats and experts warned on Thursday that there are serious doubts about its prospects as well as fears of "blowback" by extremists returning from Syria.....
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Interior Ministry in Erbil has condemned an attack on the Iranian consulate by protesters on Friday, threatening to bring charges against the attackers.
“We condemn this riot and state that those involved in the attack will face charges,” said the ministry in a statement.
On Friday a number of Iranian Kurds living in the Kurdistan Region and members of Iranian Kurdish parties gathered in Erbil’s Shanidar Park to protest against the execution of Kurdish political prisoners in Iran.
“We are gathered here against the execution of Kurdish youth in Iran,” one of the protesters told Rudaw. “And we urge all political parties in the Kurdistan Region not to remain silent about the hangings of our young men.”
Later on some of the protesters who chanted anti-Iran slogans marched toward the Iranian consulate and attacked the compound by throwing rocks and trying to enter the building......