After a recent surge of violence in western Libya, the final text of a UN-brokered framework agreement has been agreed upon by both the internationally recognized government in Tobruk and their Islamist rivals in Tripoli. In a statement released by UNSMIL, UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon said that the content of the agreement is final, and there will be no more negotiations. He praised the participating parties while affirming that the UN role in negotiations is now complete. The parties will begin final talks to form a unity government immediately after the Eid al-Adha holiday prior to the October 20 deadline. Alluding to the eruption of violence in Benghazi, Leon stated that “this [agreement] seems to be the only option.”
EU Vice President Frederica Mogherini said, ”The negotiations on the political dialogue have made substantial progress and a text presenting an inclusive, representative and long-term oriented solution has been presented to all sides for their final agreement. Now it’s up to the parties to show they are ready to rebuild their country.” She added, “We continue to actively support the negotiations and we stand ready to provide immediate support to the new government, notably with …
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As Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud made his first visit to Washington, the agenda included the myriad of conflicts across the Middle East. The worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen, the crisis in Syria, and terrorism perpetrated by groups such as Islamic State topped the agenda his meeting with President Obama.
Citing education, clean energy, and science Obama also took special note of Salman’s interest in “making sure that his people, particularly young people, have prosperity and opportunity into the future,” in a shift from earlier critical statements regarding prospects of Saudi Arabia’s youth. In his statement from the Oval Office, Obama briefly mentioned the Iran nuclear deal, stating, “We’ll discuss the importance of effectively implementing the deal to ensure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, while counteracting its destabilizing activities in the region.” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir stated that the two countries agreed on ways to counter these activities through security assurances. According to Aaron David Miller, the Saudis perceive a shift in U.S. policy toward Iran, from “containment and confrontation” to “acquiescence,” and ultimately “cooperation.”
Michael Stephens examined the effect of Washington’s policy positions in the Middle East, arguing that …
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Two Vice News reporters and an Iraqi fixer were arrested in southern Turkey last Thursday after filming clashes between security forces and pro-Kurdish PKK youth. Jake Hanrahan, Philip Pendlebury, and Mohamed Ismail Rasool were charged by a judge in Diyarbikar, a Kurdish city in southeastern Turkey, with being members of the Islamic State and will stand trial for being members of a terrorist organization. Vice News condemned the terrorism charges, stating that Turkey is suppressing vital coverage. Clashes between Turkish authorities and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) are returning to southern Turkey after the collapse of the 2013 ceasefire and peace process.
When asked about the Vice News journalists, State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner stated that the United States has conveyed its concerns to the Turkish government and “freedom of expression, including for journalists, and due process are key elements in every healthy democracy and is enshrined in the Turkish constitution.” Toner added that “we want PKK to stop its attacks.” Amnesty International called for the immediate release of the journalists, claiming the arrests are “yet another example of the Turkish authorities suppressing the reporting of stories that are embarrassing to them.”
Meanwhile, in …
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An Egyptian court delivered sentences for three Al-Jazeera journalists who were charged with reporting “false news” and conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood. Canadian national Mohammed Fahmy, Australian Peter Greste (sentenced in absentia), and Egyptian Baher Mohammed each received 3 years in prison, and Mr. Mohammed received an additional 6 months on a separate charge for possessing a bullet which he picked up during a protest.
The British Ambassador John Casson joined the U.S. Department of State and the Canadian Foreign Ministry in voicing concern over the sentencing and was summoned by the Egyptian government, which claimed that his statements were an “unacceptable intervention in Egyptian judicial rulings” and that “Egypt does not need lessons from anyone.”
Mr. Fahmy’s lawyer Amal Clooney stated that the case serves as “a dangerous precedent” and it is concerning that “that journalists can be locked up simply for reporting the news and courts can be used as political tools.” Al-Jazeera’s head of legal services commented, saying that the Qatar-based company intends to appeal the decision. Phillip Luther, the director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Amnesty International, called the decision “farcical” and the accusations baseless, …
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Marching under banners of “#YouStink,” tens of thousands of protesters reportedly converged on Martyr’s Square in Beirut again this weekend to protest the garbage crisis in Lebanon. What began as peaceful protests was soon broken up by police force for the second consecutive weekend without an official government response. The protesters’ grievances against the government are widening to include the lack of basic services such as electricity and water and the absence of general government accountability.
Calls for the first parliamentary elections since 2009 and the resignation of Environment Minister Mohammad Mashnuq marked the second week of the “You Stink” campaign, a civil society movement that began as a reaction to the government’s inability to agree on trash disposal that has grown into a movement unifying the diverse political and religious sects in Lebanon. Lebanese politicians have begun to laud the protests through statements and on social media.
The movement appears to have at least temporarily united disparate Lebanese groups. The editorial board at the Christian Science Monitor posited that faith, which has long divided Lebanon, could be the key to political change, praising the protest’s focus on sustainability and nonviolence. Citing a form of citizenship “based …