French President Emmanuel Macron warned Tuesday that if Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib does not form a government and unveil a financial reform roadmap, including an audit of the central bank, within eight weeks the international community will withhold financial aid and could impose sanctions on the ruling class. Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib received the backing of 90 out of 128 MPs Sunday to form a technocratic government to address the worsening economic crisis. Lebanon has a 170 percent debt-to-GDP ratio while its currency has lost 80 percent of its value vis-à-vis the US dollar since last year. Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government never enacted the reforms required to unlock $10.2 billion in loans and $860 million in grants pledged at a 2018 donor conference in Paris while negotiations between Beirut and the IMF over an initial $10 billion bailout reached a standstill in July when the government and financial sector could not agree on the scale of losses in the banking system during the ongoing crisis.
Nigerien UN Ambassador Abdou Abarry, who will hold the Security Council's presidency for September, expressed Tuesday that he shares his predecessor's opposition to proceeding with the imposition of snapback sanctions on Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter on August 20 to then Security Council President Dian Triansyah Djani of Indonesia calling for the reimposition of sanctions removed by Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) into international law. The letter accused Iran of being "in significant non-performance of its JCPOA commitments," an assessment shared by the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, after 13 out of the Security Council's 15 members submitted letters asserting the US forfeited its right to trigger snapback sanctions on Iran when the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, Ambassador Djani said that he was "not in the position to take further action" on Pompeo's letter due to there being "no consensus in the council." On Tuesday, Ambassador Abarry articulated that he is "staying aligned with the position as stated by the ambassador of Indonesia."
German newspaper Die Welt, citing Turkish military sources, published a report Tuesday claiming President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked generals a few days ago to sink a Greek ship without causing any fatalities, a request they refused. Someone else at the meeting suggested downing a Greek jet, since "the pilot could get out of the plane and save his life." The generals likewise dismissed that proposal. Greece is allegedly negotiating the purchase of new military aircraft from France just as Finance Minister Christos Staikouras stated in a Monday interview that Athens might draw on its cash reserves to increase the military budget. The current tension in the eastern Mediterranean commenced on August 10 when Ankara dispatched the seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis, accompanied by Turkish warships, to the Greek continental shelf to search for oil and gas deposits.
Five days after Turkish human rights attorney Ebru Timtik died from a hunger strike protesting her wrongful imprisonment on terrorism charges, President Erdogan advocated suspending lawyers accused of terror links. Istanbul's 37th High Criminal Court sentenced Timtik to 13 years and six months in prison for acting as a courier on behalf of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Army/Front. Yet, the prosecution's case relied entirely on one secret witness, who petitioned Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals to dismiss his testimony on account of his mental problems, including hallucinations. Following the Istanbul Bar Association hanging a poster of Timtik at its headquarters to protest her death, Erdogan said, "It is very painful that the bars, which should be institutions of justice, turned into the backyard of terrorist organizations" and promised measures to "reform" Turkish bar associations.
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer announced Tuesday plans to file charges against at least one person who confessed to being "recruited by the Turkish secret service to spy on other Turkish citizens or Austrian citizens with a Turkish migration background to then report them to the Turkish security authorities." Ankara did not comment on the revelation.
Israeli Prime Minister's Office Acting Director-General Ronen Peretz and UAE Central Bank Governor Abdulhamid Saeed signed a protocol of understanding Tuesday to establish a joint Israel-UAE committee for promoting "cooperation on various fronts—from financial services and joint investments to combating terror financing and money laundering."
United Arab Emirates
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared in a speech condemning the UAE normalizing ties with Israel: "Of course, the UAE's betrayal will not last long, but this stigma will always be remembered. They allowed the Zionist regime to enter the region and forgot Palestine... The Emiratis will be disgraced forever... I hope they wake up and compensate for what they did." UAE Foreign Ministry official Jamal al-Musharakh responded, "The path to peace and prosperity is not through incitement and hate speech."
Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya asserted Tuesday that Israel has two months to fulfill its obligations under a Qatar-mediated ceasefire announced Monday, ending a month of Hamas incendiary balloon attacks that incurred Israeli retaliation. The truce's provisions reportedly include Israel opening the Kerem Shalom border crossing to fuel and construction materials, widening the zone permitted for fishing around Gaza to 15 nautical miles, and approving Qatari-funded projects in the Strip as well as Doha covering Gazan civil servants' salaries.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum