The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) Friday captured more of southern Tripoli from Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) and is preparing an assault on Tarhouna, one of the few remaining LNA strongholds in northwest Libya after a slew of GNA victories in recent weeks attributable to Turkish air support. On April 4, 2019, Haftar officially launched the LNA campaign to capture Tripoli. The fall of Tarhouna to the GNA would effectively end the LNA threat to the capital. LNA airforce chief Saqr al-Jaroushi vowed Thursday to launch the "largest aerial campaign in Libyan history" on the same day Moscow reportedly deployed at least eight fighter jets to Libya to help its LNA ally. However, the Russians have not yet challenged Turkish air supremacy in the country.
Seven opposition parties issued a joint statement Wednesday condemning parliamentary speaker Rached Ghannouchi for congratulating GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj on capturing al-Watiya airbase from the LNA on Monday. The letter accused Ghannouchi of "behaving like a member of the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, through prioritizing the interests of Islamists at the expense of those of Tunisia and its people." The parties also asked Tunisian President Kais Saied to ensure that Tunisia is not providing the Turkish forces in Libya with logistical support. The statement's signatories were the Popular Movement, the Workers' Party, the Tunisia Forward Movement, the Socialist Party, the National Democratic Socialist Party, the Pole Party, and the Baath Movement
Salah Khashoggi, a son of the murdered dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, tweeted: "In this blessed night of the blessed month [of Ramadan] we remember God's saying: If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Therefore we the sons of the Martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce pardoning those who killed our father, seeking reward God almighty." A Saudi court sentenced five anonymous defendants to death for the murder that the CIA blamed on Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh continues to maintain that the assassination was a rogue operation. Since the Saudi judiciary classified the Khashoggi killing as a retribution case, any of the victim's heirs can pardon the killers, leading to their death sentences' commutation. According to a Washington Post story last April, Salah is the only one of Jamal's four children still living in the kingdom. Jamal Khashoggi's fiancée was less forgiving, tweeting: "Jamal Khashoggi has become an international symbol bigger than any of us, admired and loved. His ambush and heinous murder does not have a statue of limitations and no one has the right to pardon his killers. I and others will not stop until we get #JusticeForJamal." Agnès Callamard, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, also expressed dismay at the prospect of clemency for those facing execution for Khashoggi's murder, writing, "#SaudiArabia had repeatedly proven it will not deliver justice for #JamalKhashoggi. This is the last piece to the Saudi impunity puzzle, the final act of the parody of justice played in front of a global audience. The killers will walk free. Exonerated."
18 Senate Democrats Thursday sent an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to express "grave concern with provisions in the recently concluded government agreement to consider unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory as early as this July." They stated that unilateral annexations would preclude a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that "pursuit of a viable, negotiated two state solution is essential to ensuring our shared democratic values and lasting bipartisan support for Israel in Congress."
Two days after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came under fire for advocating a "final solution" to free Palestine, Khamenei said in a Friday speech marking International Quds Day, "The Zionist regime is a deadly, cancerous tumor in the region. It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed." He then bragged about supplying Palestinian terrorist groups with weapons: "Iran realized Palestinian fighters' only problem was lack of access to weapons. With divine guidance and assistance, we planned, and the balance of power has been transformed in Palestine, and today the Gaza Strip can stand against the aggression of the Zionist enemy and defeat it." Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 designated the last Friday of Ramadan International Quds Day, which is celebrated through rallies protesting the existence of Israel. According to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, International Quds Day "is the day for the weak and oppressed to confront the arrogant powers, the day for those nations suffering under the pressure of Zionist oppression and oppression by other powers to confront the superpowers; it is the day when the oppressed should arm themselves against the oppressors and rub their noses in the dirt."
Syria's Justice Ministry Thursday banned President Bashar al-Assad's cousin Rami Makhlouf from traveling abroad until his mobile phone company, Syriatel, pays the $185 million Syria's telecommunications authority claims that it is owed. On Tuesday, Syria's finance ministry approved the seizure of Makhlouf's assets, along with those of his wife and children. Makhlouf has posted three videos on Facebook in recent weeks condemning the government for extorting money from his business empire and imploring the president to intervene. Formerly one of Syria's wealthiest men, Makhlouf played an outsized role in bankrolling the Assad regime's war effort.
Egypt's interior ministry announced Friday the arrest of 11 individuals suspected of collaborating with members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to provide Al Jazeera with fake news intended to "undermine national security and stability." Some of the charges relate to allegedly furnishing Al Jazeera with misinformation on the insurgency in Northern Sinai in exchange for large sums of money.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum