Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, hitherto Lebanon's ambassador to Germany, won Sunday the backing of 90 out of 128 MPs, including the leading parties from both the pro-Iranian March 8 Alliance (e.g. Hezbollah and Amal) and the anti-Iranian March 14 Alliance (e.g. Saad Hariri's Future Movement). Adib promised to form a technocratic government in record time, accelerate the investigation into the August 4 Beirut explosion, and quickly carry out reforms demanded by the IMF for a $10 billion bailout.
United Arab Emirates
An El Al plane transported Israeli and American delegations to Abu Dhabi Monday for discussions with Emirati officials about normalizing relations, from opening embassies to cooperation in the spheres of security, commerce, civil aviation, tourism, and healthcare. This represented the first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi and also the first time an Israeli jet traversed Saudi airspace. National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat led the Israeli delegation while Jared Kushner and US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien headed the American team. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed on Monday virtually addressed the inaugural meeting of the Emirati-Palestinian Friendship Club, founded by Palestinians living in the UAE. He stressed that, despite normalizing ties with Israel, the "UAE's stance will remain supportive of the Arab stand calling for establishing an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital."
Ankara Monday night issued a Navtex extending the Oruc Reis's energy exploration mission in waters claimed by Athens through September 12. Turkey originally dispatched the seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by Turkish warships, on August 10 and its search for oil and gas deposits was scheduled to end on September 1. Earlier this month, Greece sent its own warships to monitor the Turkish flotilla and conducted joint training exercises with the French navy. Then, Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras stated in a Monday interview Athens might draw on its cash reserves to reverse a decade of defense spending cuts amid its debt crisis. EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell threatened after an August 27-28 meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers that the EU could impose sanctions on Turkish individuals, assets, and ships while restricting Turkey's access to European ports, capacities, technologies, and supplies if Ankara continues illegal drilling and oil/gas exploration.
Hamas announced Monday that Qatar mediated a ceasefire with Israel after weeks of rocket attacks, as well as incendiary balloons burning Israeli fields, provoked IDF tanks and fighter jets to target Hamas military positions. The deal involves Israel opening the Kerem Shalom border crossing Tuesday, widening the zone permitted for fishing around Gaza to 15 nautical miles, and approving Qatari-funded projects in the Strip to boost electricity provision. Gaza's only power plant shut down on August 18, five days after Israel suspended fuel shipments in retaliation for incendiary balloons, leaving Gazans with only three to four hours of power each day.
Lawyers representing the UAE urged the UN's International Court of Justice to dismiss, on the grounds that it lacks jurisdiction, a Qatari suit, filed in 2018, accusing the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt of breaching the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination through their three-year-old economic blockade.
The Saudi-led coalition backing President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi's internationally recognized government intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia's Abha International Airport. Although shrapnel from the drone landed on the airport, there were no injuries. The coalition also destroyed a remotely controlled Houthi boat loaded with explosives in the Red Sea.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fired two royals charged with corruption. Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz al-Saud commanded the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen while his son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahd, served as deputy governor of al-Jouf region. Deputy Chief of Staff of the Saudi military, Lt. Gen. Mutlaq bin Salim al-Azaima, will assume control of Saudi forces in Yemen.
The state-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency reported Israeli airstrikes on air defenses in the country's south killed two soldiers and wounded seven. One civilian also died. Israel did not comment on the attack. On Sunday, Hezbollah General-Secretary Hassan Nasrallah vowed to kill an Israeli soldier in retaliation for a July 20 strike in Syria that killed one Hezbollah fighter: "Let the Israelis understand, when you kill one of our Mujahedeen we will kill one of your soldiers, this is the equation."
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum