Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin on Wednesday told Reuters, Ankara "just reached an agreement with Russia to work on a credible and sustainable ceasefire in Libya." However, Kalin added the caveat, "For the ceasefire to be sustainable, Jufra [airbase] and Sirte should be evacuated by [Libyan National Army (LNA) commander] Haftar's forces." Russia, which supports the LNA, dispatched at least 14 aircraft to al-Jufra airbase last May, according to US Africa Command. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi stated on June 20 that GNA forces entering Sirte or al-Jufra would cross a red line that might trigger direct Egyptian military intervention and received unanimous parliamentary authorization Monday for "the deployment of members of the Egyptian armed forces on combat missions outside Egypt's borders to defend Egyptian national security." During the Reuters interview, Kalin said that if Cairo sends troops to Libya, "I believe it will be a dangerous military adventure for Egypt."
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok appointed Wednesday civilian governors, who will take office in the "next few days," for the country's 18 states. Replacing military governors with civilians was a key demand of the Sudanese Professionals' Association along with the Resistance Committees, who together have organized large demonstrations – often met with state violence – against the slow pace of reform since Omar al-Bashir's ouster. Information Minister Faisal Mohamed Salih erroneously promised on April 18 that the government would replace all military governors in the coming week. Hamdok also announced Wednesday plans to cut gasoline subsidies as part of an IMF bailout agreement.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan communicated Wednesday that the kingdom plans to raise $13.3 billion in the next four to five years through privatizing state assets in the education, healthcare, and water sectors. With the IMF projecting Saudi GDP to contract 6.8% this year due to low oil prices, the country, to raise revenue, has already tripled its VAT from 5 percent to 15, suspended its cost of living allowance for state employees, and increased various customs duty rates. Al-Jadaan Wednesday did not even rule out the eventual introduction of an income tax, merely saying it is not "imminent" and "would require a lot of time" to prepare. He expects Riyadh to issue more bonds in 2020, state-run Saudi Aramco already issuing bonds worth $12 billion earlier this year.
A Greek naval source on Wednesday informed AFP, "Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean." Turkey's navy Tuesday issued a Navtex for seismic surveys in waters claimed by Athens, prompting Greece to issue its own Navtex requesting vessels to ignore Turkey's Navtex. NavTex is an international automated medium frequency direct-printing service for delivery of navigational and meteorological warnings and forecasts, as well as urgent maritime safety information to ships. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned Tuesday that if Ankara continues hydrocarbon exploration in Greece's territorial waters, the EU could impose sanctions.
Qatar Airways announced Wednesday that it is seeking at least $5 billion in compensatory damages from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt through international arbitration for the quartet's three-year closure of their airspace to Qatar Airways flights. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker called the blockade "a failure to comply with their obligations under bilateral agreements, multilateral agreements and international law." The quartet imposed the blockade, along with other punitive measures, in June 2017 to pressure Doha into – among other things – scaling back its relations with Iran, shuttering Al Jazeera, and closing a Turkish military base.
The Saudi-led coalition backing President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi's internationally recognized government has allegedly imposed travel restrictions on members of Hadi's government amid speculation his regime is seeking closer ties with Turkey and Qatar. Hadi regime officials traveling to Istanbul and Doha, along with Emirati news reports of Turkish support for the Hadi-aligned Islah Party, have heightened coalition suspicions. Although Islah denies it, the party is widely perceived as a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot.
2020 Democratic Party Platform
The almost completed Democratic Party platform for the 2020 elections calls for reentering the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and opposes pursuing regime change in Tehran: "Democrats will call off the Trump Administration's race to war with Iran and prioritize nuclear diplomacy, de-escalation, and regional dialogue. Democrats believe the United States should not impose regime change on other countries and reject that as the goal of U.S. policy toward Iran." It commits to maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge and fulfilling the sizeable military aid package delineated in the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, which the Obama administration signed with Israel.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum