President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani attended a ceremony at the White House marking Israel normalizing ties with the UAE and Bahrain. All four signed "The Abraham Accords Declaration," which emphasized "that developing friendly relations among States advances the interests of lasting peace in the Middle East and around the world." Trump, Netanyahu, and the relevant foreign minister then signed two bilateral normalization agreements. President Trump's remarks at the ceremony did not mention the Palestinians, instead referring more generally to "Arabs and Israelis, Muslims, Jews, and Christians." He also did not mention "Palestine" as a geographical entity, saying: "The Abraham Accords also open the door for Muslims around the world to visit the historic sites in Israel and to peacefully pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem." Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed thanked Netanyahu for "choosing peace and for halting the annexation of Palestinian territories" and asserted that "this accord will enable us to continue to stand by the Palestinian people and realize their hopes for an independent state within a stable and prosperous region." He added, "Every option other than peace would signify destruction, poverty, and human suffering." The Bahraini Foreign Minister also briefly articulated the necessity of "a just, comprehensive, and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict." Following the ceremony, President Trump told reporters that he expected Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel "at the right time" and "seven or eight or nine" more countries would normalize relations with Israel.
The Palestinian Presidency released a statement after the Abraham Accords signing ceremony insisting that Israel will not achieve peace "as long as the United States and the Israeli occupation authority do not recognize the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent and continuous state on the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and resolve the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with Resolution 194."
Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) reportedly will resign at the end of the week, amid ongoing demonstrations against his government's corruption and poor services along with next month's negotiations in Geneva to create a new presidential council unifying the rival administrations in Tripoli and Tobruk. However, GNA officials claim he "will stay on in a caretaker capacity" through the Geneva negotiations. Sputnik News subsequently reported the GNA denounced rumors of al-Sarraj's resignation as falsehoods "intended to misinform the public."
Similar demonstrations in the country's east prompted Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thani of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) to tender his government's resignation to Speaker Aguila Saleh on Sunday. The HoR still must approve the resignation of al-Thani's government. Protestors torched the HoR regime's Benghazi headquarters over the weekend and came under fire from Gen. Khalifa Haftar's HoR-aligned Libyan National Army (LNA) when attempting to storm a police station in al-Marj. An LNA spokesman said Haftar would not allow "terrorists and the Muslim Brotherhood" to hijack peaceful protests.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution Tuesday demanding countries adhere to the widely flouted UN arms embargo on Libya and withdraw mercenaries from the country. Just last Thursday, German and Italian vessels enforcing the embargo, boarded and impounded the merchant vessel Royal Diamond 7, which was transporting jet fuel from the UAE port of Sharjah to Benghazi. The UAE, Russia, and Egypt are the HoR's main patrons while Turkey and Qatar back the GNA. Earlier this year, GNA forces won a string of victories against the LNA thanks to Turkish air support and an influx of Turkey-affiliated Syrian rebels. Meanwhile, US Africa Command estimated the Wagner Group, a pro-Kremlin private military company, deployed 2,000 mercenaries in Libya. Tuesday's Security Council resolution also renewed the UN Support Mission in Libya's (UNSMIL) mandate for another year and, per America's request, split the UNSMIL head's position into two offices, one responsible for running the mission and the other for handling mediation among the conflict's many parties. Every Security Council member voted for the resolution except for Russia and China, who abstained.
The latest UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria report, published Tuesday, accused the Ankara-backed Syrian National Army of abducting Syrian citizens and transferring them to Turkey for trial. Created by the UN Human Rights Council in August 2011 to identify violations of international law with the intention of eventually prosecuting war criminals, the Commission expressed that smuggling Syrians to Turkey to stand trial "may amount to the war crime of unlawful deportation of protected persons." Prosecutors charged the detainees, mostly Kurdish civilians or low-level employees of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces-dominated autonomous administration in northern Syria, with belonging to terrorist groups as well as damaging Turkey's unity and territorial integrity. Turkey is holding up to 182 Syrian abductees according to the Kurdish Committee for Human Rights.
On Tuesday, the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) extended a navigational telex (Navtex) reserving for the Yavuz drillship an area within Cypriot territorial waters until October 12. The Yavuz is accompanied by three other Turkish ships and the Navtex warned that "all vessels are strongly advised not to enter" the area. Last Thursday, at a summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Corsica, seven EU members with Mediterranean coastlines endorsed imposing sanctions on Turkey if illegal drilling and oil/gas exploration in Cypriot and Greek waters continue. Furthermore, two days after the Turkish seismic survey vessel Oruc Reis and its military escort vacated Greek waters, where its presence since August 10 led to an escalating military standoff with Greece and France, the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper reported it will return to Greece's exclusive economic zone in a month.
Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib failed to present a cabinet to President Michel Aoun Monday. President Macron elicited from Adib on September 1 a promise to form a government by September 15 with the understanding that Lebanon would not receive vital aid unless it followed a strict schedule for delivering sweeping political and economic reforms. One obstacle to forming a government was Amal Movement chairman Nabih Berri refusing to budge on a member of his Shiite, Hezbollah-aligned party retaining control of the Finance Ministry in a country used to ministries and other senior government positions being assigned according to a sectarian formula. Adib and Aoun decided to lobby the various parliamentary blocs and try to establish a government by Thursday. On Sunday, Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salame agreed to adopt the government's position on past banking losses in negotiations with the IMF. Talks between the IMF and Lebanese government effectively broke down last July due to disagreement between former Prime Minister Hasan Diab's government on the one hand and the banks association and Banque du Liban on the other over the extent of financial sector losses in recent years.
During a Tuesday briefing to the Security Council, UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths noted that fighting between the Houthi rebels and internationally recognized government has worsened in the Ma'rib governorate and that he sent an "advanced draft" of a ceasefire deal to the parties last week. While there exists no evidence of an impending ceasefire, the two sides have agreed to meet in Switzerland to discuss under UN auspices releasing prisoners.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum