Lebanon's cabinet declared a two-week state of emergency in Beirut and ordered the military to place under house arrest those responsible for storing the ammonium nitrate responsible for Tuesday's explosion, which killed at least 135 people, injured 5,000, and left 300,000 homeless. The BBC reported that a number of Beirut port officials are already under house arrest. Thanks to a preexisting financial crisis involving the Lebanese pound's rapid depreciation, food prices tripled over the past year because the country imports 80 percent of its food. Since roughly 75 percent of Lebanon's food imports pass through Beirut's now severely damaged port, the country's food security is at risk. While the IMF forecasted in April that the GDP will contract 12 percent this year, Jason Tuvey, a senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, predicts Tuesday's incident will cause a 30 percent contraction. Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud told Al-Hadath channel on Wednesday the damage could equal up to $15 billion. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon rescheduled from August 7 to August 18 issuing verdicts for four Hezbollah operatives tried for the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri "out of respect for the countless victims of the devastating explosion that shook Beirut on 4 August, and the three-day of public mourning in Lebanon."
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party will decide by next week whether to withdraw from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). Opened for signatures at the 121st Session of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in Istanbul, the convention is colloquially known as the Istanbul Convention and Turkey was the first country to ratify it. Some religious Turkish organizations, including the Felicity Party and the Turkish Youth Foundation, condemn the convention as undermining family values and paving the way for the recognition of LGBT groups. However, a survey published by Ankara-based pollster MetroPoll in late July found 63.6 percent of those surveyed opposed scrapping the convention while just 17 percent favored it. Violence against women, often motivated by "honor," has worsened in Turkey over the last decade, 474 women being murdered in 2019, twice 2011's figure. The Istanbul Convention stipulates: "So-called 'honour' shall not be considered as justification for any acts of violence covered by the scope of this Convention."
Iran's official Judiciary news agency announced Wednesday Mostafa Salehi's execution for shooting to death Basij militiaman Sajjad Shah-Sanaei during the December 2017-January 2018 economic protests. Numerous sources claim hardliners instigated the protests to undermine President Hassan Rouhani, but the demonstrators quickly turned their ire on the regime. A source quoted by the Iran Human Rights Monitor said a court initially cleared Salehi of the charges, but the case was reopened upon pressure from the IRGC Intelligence Department.
Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini met Wednesday with Fayez al-Sarraj, prime minister of the Tripoli-based, Turkish-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), and issued a statement announcing plans to train GNA officers and cadets. Rome signed an agreement with the GNA in 2017 to block African migrants heading to Europe.
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
Egypt and Sudan suspended talks with Ethiopia Tuesday over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam a day after re-launching them through a virtual meeting attended by the three countries' irrigation ministers. Cairo and Khartoum object to Addis Ababa's proposed linkage of negotiations over managing the dam to a broader agreement about distributing the Blue Nile's water that would be more favorable to Ethiopia than colonial-era deals between Britain, Egypt, and Sudan that excluded Ethiopia. Egypt and Sudan fear that filling the dam too quickly could threaten their water supply, particularly devastating Egyptian agriculture.
Cori Bush defeated 10-term Congressman William Lacy Clay in Tuesday's Democratic primary for Missouri's 1st congressional district. Bush's campaign said in a statement last Saturday: "Cori Bush has always been sympathetic to the BDS movement, and she stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people just as they have stood in solidarity with Black Americans fighting for their own lives." Bush also accused Rep. Clay of "put[ting] Muslim lives in danger" for circulating a mailer including a picture of Bush with anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour. Bush won Tuesday's primary by a margin of about 3 percent of the vote after losing the 2018 primary to Clay by a margin of 20 percent.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum