MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

After many failed attempts to meet and reach a quorum, Libya’s House of Representatives (HoR) seated in Tobruk met on August 22 and voted on the cabinet of the Government of National Accord (GNA) proposed by the Presidential Council (PC) led by Fayez Serraj. With the legal quorum of 101 members, 61 members voted no confidence, 39 abstained, and only one voted in favor of Serraj’s cabinet.

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In the wake of Libya’s 2011 revolution, eastern leaders feared that they would once again become second class citizens. The perceived domination by Tripolitanians of the National Transition Council (NTC)—the de facto government established during the revolution; the alleged marginalization of Cyrenaica; and the strong influence of militias from Tripoli, Misrata, and Zintan on the government seemed to confirm these worries. Repeated government promises to move significant public entities, like the headquarters of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Libyan Airlines, to Benghazi failed to materialize.

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The month-long break in UN-facilitated Yemeni peace talks announced on August 6 wasn’t a surprise; indeed, it was preordained and widely expected. But this doesn’t make the relative breakdown in the negotiations any easier for the international community and the UN Security Council to stomach.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called upon the parties to renew “without delay” cooperation with his special envoy, a testament to his repeated belief that further military conflict will only delay the inevitable political solution that is required to end the conflict. 

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As the Yemen peace talks went on hiatus on August 6, the Houthi-Saleh alliance moved to convene a newly formed governing council in the capital Sanaa. As they did so, forces loyal to internationally recognized President Abd Rabbou Mansour al-Hadi tried again to take Sanaa militarily. The Houthi and Saleh camps experienced tense moments during the last round of talks, with Ali Abdallah Saleh complaining that the Houthis were acting unilaterally and not collaborating with (General People’s Congress) GPC leaders. But their cooperation in announcing and convening a new assembly suggests that those differences have been put aside.

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Analyzing the situation in Libya and trying to define the root causes of the crisis is akin to unboxing a traditional Russian nesting doll—identical matryoshka dolls of decreasing size placed one inside the other ad infinitum. An initial reading may reveal the main cause of the Libyan crisis to be ideological divisions between Islamists and secularists. Beneath that, however, is another underlying cause resulting from a periphery-center struggle.

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As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes his first international visit in the wake of an attempted coup against his government, Turkey’s recent outreach to Russia comes as part of a broader effort to recalibrate Turkish foreign policy, following years of political isolation.

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The leaders of the Saudi Kingdom worry that the foundation undergirding a 70-year partnership with the United States is eroding. A pro-Iran narrative assigning the fatherhood of jihadist extremism to Saudi Arabia picks up steam, while White House denizens make no secret of their displeasure with the Kingdom. Even the President of the United States counseled Riyadh to "share the neighborhood" with an Iran aggressively extending its hegemony to Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Can Saudi Arabia get off the back foot and make a positive case for stronger partnership with Washington?

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In the past five years, Cairo’s rulers have been involved in discussions with the IMF for a program three times. It has never been closer than it is now to signing off on one – but that does not mean that the challenges have suddenly disappeared. On the contrary – they are potentially larger than ever.

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Tunisia is often described as the single success story of the 2011 Arab uprisings, a fledgling democracy in a region marred by chaos and turmoil. In the first week of August, the world witnessed the democratic process in action in Tunisia when Prime Minister Habib Essid, following a no-confidence vote in parliament, stepped down and President Beji Caid Essebsi appointed Minister of Local Affairs Youssef Chahed as the new prime minister.

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Following a formal request from the internationally recognized Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), the United States air force conducted strikes against militants of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in the city of Sirte on August 1. It is possible that military commanders of militias from Misrata—directly involved in the fight to liberate Sirte from ISIS—had repeatedly requested assistance.

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