Report

Tripoli-based Libyan Government Steps Down, Cedes Power to Unity Government

Libya’s Tripoli-based National Salvation Government announced yesterday that it will step down, clearing the way for the U.N.-backed unity government, also called the Government of National Accord, to assert power in the nation’s capitol. In a statement issued on Facebook, the National Salvation Government said it was dissolving to prevent further bloodshed and called on ...

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Libya’s Tripoli-based National Salvation Government announced yesterday that it will step down, clearing the way for the U.N.-backed unity government, also called the Government of National Accord, to assert power in the nation’s capitol. In a statement issued on Facebook, the National Salvation Government said it was dissolving to prevent further bloodshed and called on government agencies to respect the unity government’s authority. The Government of National Accord, members of which arrived in Tripoli by boat last week, has also secured support from the Libyan Investment Authority, the National Oil Corporation, and the Central Bank.  The announcement follows protests this weekend, in which National Accord Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj walked through the city and was met by supporters chanting slogans against the National Salvation Government. U.N. Libya envoy Martin Kobler, who is meeting with the unity government in Tripoli this week, said the dissolution of the National Salvation Government is “good news” but stressed that “deeds must follow words.”

The unity government still faces opposition from Libya’s other rival government, the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, but elements of that government, which will be folded into the unity government as the national parliament, are reportedly making “conciliatory statements.”

Islamic State Resisting Advances in Iraq, Counterattacks in Syria

The Islamic State is resisting coordinated coalition advances in the Iraqi town of Hit, where troops described mortars “coming down like rain.” The area has been extensively booby-trapped, and the head of Iraq’s counterterrorism unit told reporters that “the only thing not rigged with explosives is the air.” Iraqi troops supported by coalition air support are making cautious advances and entered the town on Monday. In Syria, the Islamic State went on the offensive yesterday near Damascus, attacking the Tishrin power station after weeks of losses, including the city of Palmyra and the surrounding area.

Headlines

  • The recently ousted Yemeni vice president, Khaled Bahah, who Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi replaced with the country’s foremost military officer, called his removal a “coup against legitimacy” and Yemeni officials are concerned the move could affect the prospects for peace talks later this month.

 

  • U.S. officials said yesterday that reports that the administration is considering allowing Iran access to the U.S. financial system are inaccurate and that Iran will continue to be prevented from using U.S. dollars in transactions.

 

  • Saudi Arabia outspent Russia in military and defense spending last year, outpaced only by the United States and China, according to an annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; the increase is accounted for by the Saudi intervention in Yemen and declining value of the rouble, experts said.

 

  • A member of the Qatari royal family and one other captive were released after being held for four months in Iraq; 26 others who were abducted on the same hunting trip in December remain in captivity and reports have not specified the group responsible for the kidnapping.

 

  • The Turkish government is considering new measures to strip citizenship from people convicted of supporting terrorism; the new law was allegedly proposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday and the Justice Minister is now working on how it could be passed and implemented.

Arguments and Analysis

The Islamic State in Turkey: A Deep Dive to a Dark Place” (Aaron Stein, War on the Rocks)

“ISIL has deep roots in Turkish society and links to other jihadi hotpots around the globe. Turkish ISIL members, or Turks with close links to the group, have taken advantage of legal loopholes in Turkey to avoid lengthy prison sentences or arrest altogether. These loopholes remain in place. Taken together, these dynamics create a potent ISIL threat to Turkey in the immediate future. Yet, despite this risk, little is known about the root causes of radicalization in Turkey, other than that the ISIL members involved in the current wave of violence were radicalized outside of mainstream mosques in Turkey, and instead were receiving religious training in unofficial gathering places, where radical proselytizing takes place. New recruits, in turn, were then able to move freely to the border, where they could cross to Syria with ease up until late 2014 and early 2015.”

 

How united is the GCC?” (Madawi al-Rasheed, Al-Monitor)

“When Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and to a lesser extent Oman project power abroad, they are driven by their own domestic challenges rather than by a Gulf consensus. Consequently, GCC countries have adopted contradictory projects in most Arab countries such as Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been determined to block the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in North Africa, but until recently Qatar was actively supporting it. With Syria, almost all GCC countries, with the exception of Oman, were keen on supporting so-called moderate rebels, a term that has become increasingly muddled since the Syrian uprising began five years ago. The sectarian agenda of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain — each has a vested interest in depicting its own local protest as an Iranian Shiite conspiracy against it — does not resonate well in Kuwait and Oman.”

-J. Dana Stuster

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

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