Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday accepted the resignation of his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, as finance minister. Although Albayrak attributed his resignation Sunday to unspecified health problems, it immediately followed Erdogan replacing central bank Governor Murat Uysal with former Finance Minister Naci Agbal, a critic of Albayrak's performance. The Turkish lira gained as much as 5.8 percent against the US dollar Monday after Agbal asserted maintaining price stability will be the central bank's priority. Despite burning through $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves this year to stabilize the Turkish lira, it still lost 30 percent of its value vis-à-vis the dollar thanks to policies based on Erdogan's unorthodox theory that high interest rates cause high inflation. Some analysts believed Erdogan was grooming Albayrak to be his successor.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced on Facebook early Tuesday (Nov. 10) morning that he "signed a statement on the termination of the Karabakh war along with the Russian and Azerbaijani presidents." Ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan established a de facto independent Republic of Artsakh – controlling nearly 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory – following the USSR's dissolution and Baku launched a war, with Turkish military support, on September 27 to reassert its sovereignty over all the land within its internationally recognized borders. Since the outbreak of hostilities, Azerbaijan has retaken much of Nagorno-Karabakh and on Sunday captured Shusha, its second largest city and the linchpin to controlling all of Nagorno-Karabakh. Although Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev tweeted: "This statement puts an end to the years-long occupation," Tuesday's agreement does not appear to restore immediately all of land formerly controlled by the Republic of Artsakh to Baku. The deal involves Armenian forces evacuating the territory surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. Since Nagorno-Karabakh itself does not border Armenia, Republic of Artsakh forces in the 1990s conquered seven adjacent Azerbaijani districts, ethnically cleansing 800,000 Azerbaijanis in the process. Those districts will revert to Azerbaijan's control by December 1 and the refugees may return. Artsakh forces will retain control of those parts of Nagorno-Karabakh proper not already recaptured by the Azerbaijani military. Russia will dispatch around 2,000 peacekeepers for a minimum of five years to secure a land corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey will also participate in the peacekeeping, but its role remains undisclosed. Prime Minister Pashinyan announced the peace agreement just hours after the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reported working with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA 22), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, to halt all US sales and transfers of drone parts to Turkey because Azerbaijan was using them to great effect in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. The ANCA quoted Rep. Nunes saying, "Azerbaijan's use of deadly drone strikes in Nagorno-Karabakh must cease immediately. Its offensive is being fanatically encouraged by Turkey, so the US needs to make clear to Erdogan that US military technology cannot be used to press this aggressive war against Armenians."
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)-organized Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), which is designed "to generate consensus on a unified governance framework and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections in the shortest possible timeframe," opened its first live meeting in Tunis on Monday. It held a virtual meeting on October 26. UNSMIL invited 75 individuals, purportedly representing all segments of Libyan political and social society, to attend Monday's gathering. Participants were required to consent not to run in the next presidential or parliamentary elections.
The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on seven individuals and ten entities with a special focus on "Syrian and Lebanese persons attempting to revive Syria's deteriorating petroleum industry." Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, "The Treasury Department is determined to continue to apply economic pressure on the Assad regime and its supporters for the repression conducted by the regime." In press release issued later in the day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated, "We support UN Special Envoy Pedersen's call for a nationwide ceasefire, the release of political prisoners and detainees, the drafting of a new constitution, as well as the convening of UN supervised free and fair elections. The Assad regime has a choice: take irreversible steps toward a peaceful resolution of this nearly decade-long conflict or face further crippling sanctions."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Sunday called on a Biden administration to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal: "Now, an opportunity has come up for the next US administration to compensate for past mistakes and return to the path of complying with international agreements through respect of international norms." In a September op-ed, Biden wrote, "If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations." Yet, during a virtual Council on Foreign Relations-hosted conversation with Fareed Zakaria a few days after Biden published the op-ed, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, "A sign of good faith is not to try to renegotiate what has already been negotiated." Furthermore, he conditioned Iranian adherence to the JCPOA on America compensating Iran for "billions upon billions of dollars of damage" caused by sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
Several sources informed Reuters that the Trump administration will impose sanctions on individuals and entities implicated in the deaths of approximately 1,500 people during the Iranian regime's crackdown on protests that broke out on November 15, 2019 when Tehran raised gasoline prices by as much as 200 percent and imposed a rationing system. The sanctions will come into effect on the anniversary of the protests' eruption.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum