Libyan prime minister freed following pre-dawn capture

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been released hours after he was seized in a pre-dawn raid by militiamen loosely tied to the government. More than 100 armed men possibly from the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Rooms (LROR) captured Zeidan from his hotel residence in the capital Tripoli. The LROR said it was acting under orders ...

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images
MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images
MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been released hours after he was seized in a pre-dawn raid by militiamen loosely tied to the government. More than 100 armed men possibly from the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Rooms (LROR) captured Zeidan from his hotel residence in the capital Tripoli. The LROR said it was acting under orders from the prosecutor general, however the justice ministry denied this claim and said the prosecutor general had not issued a warrant. An LROR spokesman said Zeidan's arrest had come after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the Libyan government knew about a U.S. operation last Saturday to capture suspected al Qaeda leader Anas al-Libi. Conversely, the militant group, the Anti-Crime Committee, also claimed responsibility for Zeidan's capture, saying they were holding him for corruption and harming state security. Zeidan was freed after being held for about six hours, however the circumstances of his release are unclear. Some reports have said security forces or armed locals were involved, and spokesman for the Libyan government Mohamed Yahya Kabr said Zeidan was "freed, not released."

Syria

Chemical weapons inspectors have so far visited three sites across Syria, according to an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons spokesman. The team of inspectors, currently 27 experts, is slated to visit 20 sites in efforts to oversee the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014 and the destruction of production equipment by November 1. However, the team's mission is complicated by continued clashes and the presence of some sites in rebel held territory. Head of the OPCW Ahmet Uzumcu has appealed for a truce. He said, "If we can ensure some cooperation by all parties, and if some temporary cease-fires could be established to permit our experts to work in a permissive environment, I think our targets can be reached." Meanwhile, clashes south of Damascus between rebel forces and government troops backed by militia and Hezbollah fighters have killed a number of rebel fighters and regime soldiers, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Additionally, after a month of fighting, opposition forces reportedly have overtaken the Hajanah post on the Jordanian border, solidifying control over a swath of territory from outside Daraa to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. On Wednesday, an Israeli soldier was wounded when two mortar bombs fired from Syria struck an Israeli army post in the Golan. 

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has been released hours after he was seized in a pre-dawn raid by militiamen loosely tied to the government. More than 100 armed men possibly from the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Rooms (LROR) captured Zeidan from his hotel residence in the capital Tripoli. The LROR said it was acting under orders from the prosecutor general, however the justice ministry denied this claim and said the prosecutor general had not issued a warrant. An LROR spokesman said Zeidan’s arrest had come after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the Libyan government knew about a U.S. operation last Saturday to capture suspected al Qaeda leader Anas al-Libi. Conversely, the militant group, the Anti-Crime Committee, also claimed responsibility for Zeidan’s capture, saying they were holding him for corruption and harming state security. Zeidan was freed after being held for about six hours, however the circumstances of his release are unclear. Some reports have said security forces or armed locals were involved, and spokesman for the Libyan government Mohamed Yahya Kabr said Zeidan was "freed, not released."

Syria

Chemical weapons inspectors have so far visited three sites across Syria, according to an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons spokesman. The team of inspectors, currently 27 experts, is slated to visit 20 sites in efforts to oversee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014 and the destruction of production equipment by November 1. However, the team’s mission is complicated by continued clashes and the presence of some sites in rebel held territory. Head of the OPCW Ahmet Uzumcu has appealed for a truce. He said, "If we can ensure some cooperation by all parties, and if some temporary cease-fires could be established to permit our experts to work in a permissive environment, I think our targets can be reached." Meanwhile, clashes south of Damascus between rebel forces and government troops backed by militia and Hezbollah fighters have killed a number of rebel fighters and regime soldiers, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Additionally, after a month of fighting, opposition forces reportedly have overtaken the Hajanah post on the Jordanian border, solidifying control over a swath of territory from outside Daraa to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. On Wednesday, an Israeli soldier was wounded when two mortar bombs fired from Syria struck an Israeli army post in the Golan. 

Headlines

Arguments and Analysis

Reported Suspension of U.S. Aid to Egypt a Short-Term Measure‘ (Tamara Cofman Wittes, Brookings Institution)

"Having failed to suspend aid right after the coup, despite threatening to do exactly that, the administration was left with little choice but to define its least worst option. With this partial suspension, it hopes to make clear that there is some price (largely symbolic and perhaps temporary) for ignoring U.S. preferences. The administration hopes to show it they won’t be overly influenced on Egypt policy by Gulf and Israeli lobbying for total aid resumption. And it hopes to sustain a working relationship with the people who are running Egypt — an objective which has been perhaps the only consistent component of the U.S. approach toward Egypt since the 2011 revolution.

None of this, of course, adds up to a policy that will achieve America’s stated strategic objectives of stability, much less democracy — this is yet another short-term, interim measure designed to preserve narrow U.S. interests rather than advance broad ones. Given that instability — and violence — in Egypt are likely to increase in the coming months without some political accommodation with Islamists and restraints on the security forces, this is no solution. But unlike other short-term responses by the administration to developments in Egypt, like its overinvestment in President Mohamed Morsi during 2012-2013, this move does not foreclose larger policy shifts down the road."

Principle, Pragmatism, and Egypt‘ (Robert Danin, Council on Foreign Relations)

"The problem with the Obama administration’s approach to Egypt’s internal struggle has been the somewhat artificial distinction it has made between issues that it deems vital and those it deems principled. In his landmark May 19, 2011, speech laying out his administration’s views on the Arab uprisings, President Obama articulated it clearly: ‘There will be times when our short-term interests don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region.’ Yet such a distinction is actually artificial, and fails to recognize that adhering to our long-term principles are in our vital and even immediate interests in the region.

This perceived distinction prevented the president from calling out the Muslim Brotherhood when it worked to undermine Egyptian institutions when it was in power, and it led him to shy away from calling the military’s coup by its true name. Yes, American military over flights, continued anti-terrorism efforts, and Egypt’s peace with Israel are critical American interests. Yet an approach that aims to secure these interests while largely disregarding the regime’s domestic behavior — be it that of the Muslim Brotherhood or the military — sacrifices long term durability for short term expediency. The resulting gap, between our actions and our principles, has engendered much of the anti-American sentiment we now face in the Middle East. It also calls into question the long-term viability of our efforts."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.