Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini met with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, in Ankara Tuesday ahead of a July 13 EU foreign ministers meeting, requested by France, to discuss Turkey's destabilizing behavior, from illegal drilling in Cypriot waters to intervention in the Libyan civil war, and consider the imposition of sanctions. While Paris has provided clandestine military support to Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), Italy recognizes the LNA's Turkish-backed rival, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), and supports an arms embargo on the LNA. Akar stated after the meeting, "We share common and similar views on many issues," and Guerini praised Turkey's contribution to NATO, including the Turkish military's professionalism. French Defense Minister Florence Parly feels otherwise. At a June 17-18 videoconference of NATO defense ministers, she accused three Turkish warships of targeting the French frigate Courbet when it sought to search a Turkish civilian ship suspected of violating the UN arms embargo on Libya.
Liz Truss, Britain's international trade secretary, announced Tuesday the UK is resuming arms sales to Saudi Arabia suspended after the British Court of Appeal in June 2019 ruled the government insufficiently assessed whether licensed arms exports were used in contravention of international law or if there was a "clear risk" of them being used in contravention of international law. The court did not find Saudi Arabia was violating international law in Yemen, only that the British government needed to institute a more rigorous verification process, and Truss affirmed Tuesday that licensing procedure revisions enabled reviving arms sales. Between 2010 and 2018, Britain accounted for around 21 percent of all arms imports to Saudi Arabia and they represented 43 percent of Britain's total arms export volume. Just between April 2015 and March 2018 the British government licensed the sale of approximately $5.89 billion worth of military equipment to the Saudis.
After a joint videoconference, the foreign ministers of Egypt, France, Germany, and Jordan declared in a statement: "We concur that any annexation of Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 would be a violation of international law... We also concur that such a step would have serious consequences for the security and stability of the region, and would constitute a major obstacle to efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive and just peace. It could also have consequences for the relationship with Israel... We discussed how to restart a fruitful engagement between the Israeli and the Palestinian side, and offer our support in facilitating a path to negotiations."
Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to reauthorize for one year two aid corridors, not subject to Damascus's oversight, on the Turkish border. The other 13 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the resolution drafted by Germany and Belgium. Moscow will introduce its own resolution authorizing only one crossing for six months. In January, Russia and China thwarted the reauthorization of two additional aid corridors on the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.
With the Lebanese pound losing 80 percent of its value since last October due to an ongoing financial crisis, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said on al-Manar television Tuesday that to restore economic stability "we don't have to just rely on the outcome of talks with the IMF" and Hezbollah has initiated discussions with Iran to supply refined oil products in exchange for Lebanese pounds.
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei blamed Israel for the July 2 explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility, saying, "The international community must respond and set limits to these dangerous actions by the Zionist regime." While the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the explosion could set back the country's nuclear program by months, Israeli TV reports estimated the destruction of a Natanz laboratory in which Iran developed faster centrifuges will set back Iran's nuclear program by one to two years.
Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced 200 COVID-19 fatalities Tuesday, the highest Iranian daily figure since the pandemic's outbreak, bringing the total number of Iranian fatalities to 11,931.
Egypt's parliament passed amendments to law no. 232 requiring anyone who has ever served as a military officer to receive approval from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) before running for local, parliamentary, or presidential elections. SCAF approval will also be necessary for officers to join political parties or discuss military matters occurring during their service.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum