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05/19/2020

Libyan front, Trump and space, new Israeli Government, reconciliation between Egypt and Turkey

Libyan front, Trump and space, new Israeli Government, reconciliation between Egypt and Turkey

NATO’s support for the GNA

On May 16, the Prime-Minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Al-Sarraj held a telephone conversation with the general secretary of NATO Jens Stoltenberg.

Nato’s support for the GNA brings a new actor to the Libyan conflict. It’s worth noting that this is a rare expression of support for the government in Tripoli by the North-Atlantic Alliance, following pro-US gestures by the GNA’s Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha.

Bashagha’s turn to the West and Turkish Interests in Libya

The main goal is providing a stable situation in the region via a balance of power. The role of NATO in the Libyan destabilization was seen in 2011 when a stable state came to pieces following the assassination of then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Nato’s new support for the GNA is likely a result of Turkey’s active involvement in the conflict, which started in November 2019 with 2 memorandums, one on security cooperation and one on maritime boundaries between Turkey and Libya.

It is noteworthy that after Turkey’s support for the GNA the government began to make advances on the positions of Haftar’s Libyan National Army. On May 18 the GNA seized Al-Watiya airbase, the main stronghold of Haftar supporters near Tripoli, a crucial victory.

The widening of Turkey’s influence worried American Democrats and neoconservatives. US senators slammed the Trump administration for failing to stop Turkey from entering into the Libyan war. The memorandum on maritime borders (based on the geopolitical doctrine ‘ Mavi Vatan’) made Turkey active on two fronts in the Eastern Meditterenean against the UAE-Saudi alliance and the Greece-Israel-EU alliance. The Americans (and NATO) continue supporting both sides in order to prevent the broadening of the Turkish Influence in the Eastern Mediterranean.

A new government in Israel

On May 17, Benjamin Netanyahu introduced a new government to the Knesset, formed as a result of an agreement between enemies: the Likud party and Netanyahu’s opponents from the Kahol Lavan bloc. Netanyahu will serve as Prime Minister for a half of the term and will be succeeded by Kahol Lavan leader Beni Ganz. The agreement between the politicians allows the head of government to begin taking steps to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” around July 1, 2020.

Inability to form a government caused the longest political crisis in the country’s history, lasting more than a year, leading to three consecutive elections in April and September 2019 and March 2020. As a result, the current Government is the largest in Israeli history.

The establishment of a new Government could lead to a new conflict in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes that the time has come to annex Jewish settlements in parts of the West Bank. He said as much on May 17 when he presented the 35th Israeli government to the Knesset. Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said that Palestinians would resist annexation. King Abdullah II of Jordan said that if Israel did annex part of the West Bank in July, it would lead to a major clash with the Hashemite Kingdom.

Trump pushes Senate interrogation of Obama

Last week, US President Donald Trump attacked his detractors and former President Obama himself after the Justice Department announced it would drop the charges against Trump’s former national security advised General Michael Flynn. Initially, Flynn pleaded guilty to perjury, but then recanted. The Justice Department believes that Flynn’s interrogation by the FBI was not justified by a counterintelligence investigation and was conducted without any legitimate investigative basis. Trump, commenting on the announcement that the case against Flynn had been dismissed, called him “an innocent man” and accused members of the Barack Obama administration of pursuing his former advisor.

In addition, Trump and his supporters argue that former head of national intelligence James Clapper, Attorney General Eric Holder, CIA director John Brennan, as well as possibly Vice-President Joe Biden and Obama himself, did everything possible to launch an investigation after Trump’s victory in the 2016 election on the possible ties with Russia and thus weaken Trump’s position, and the Flynn case was just one episode. Trump called it “Obamagate,” in reference to the Watergate scandal that cost Richard Nixon his presidency in the 1970s.

Trump called on the Senate to interrogate Obama, but senators refused to do so. Trump’s statements marked a new round of confrontation between his supporters and the Democratic Party.

USA: Plans for the space

On May 16, the US presented the Artemis Accords, an agreement on the extraction of resources from the Moon.

The “Artemis Accords” contain ten basic standards and regulations developed by NASA on the study of the moon.

The document guarantees that countries will be able to extract and use the satellite’s resources. The mining of resources from the Moon, Mars and asteroids has been called “critical” for space exploration – potentially allowing countries to produce fuel while in space.

The document also mentions the concept of “Safety Zones”, i.e. the borders of the countries participating in the treaty on the Moon. States undertake to exchange data on these territories and to “respect” the safety zones of others.

According to the head of NASA, Jim Brydestine, several countries are already interested in the treaty, including Japan, Canada, EU countries and the United Arab Emirates.

Interestingly, the US, in creating these agreements, calls on other countries to sign off on development of the Moon as if this territory belonged to the US.

On May 13, SpaceX founder Elon Musk Previously offered to conduct a series of thermonuclear explosions on Mars to create conditions for earthly life there. However, behind these proposals is the possibility of unleashing nuclear weapons in space.

It also should be mentioned that the US made some remarks and took steps toward military exploration of space. On May 15 while presenting the flag of the newly created US Space Force, Trump said that the US has “super-duper missiles” “17 times faster”  than missiles of Russia and China.  On May 16, the mysterious space plane X-37B was launched by the US Space Force.

Egypt and Turkey: an opportunity for reconciliation

On May 11, the UAE, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and France “strongly condemned Turkey’s military interference in Libya” and Turkey’s actions to develop hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey, in response, accused these countries of forming an anti-Turkish alliance.

As tensions between Egypt and Turkey rise, the article “Proposals for normalization in Turkish-Egyptian relations” by our columnist Mohamed Sabreen, Managing Editor for Al-Ahram Newspaper, gained wide popularity, and was quoted extensively in Arab and Turkish media.

In the piece, the author noted that despite all the contradictions, Egypt and Turkey could come to an understanding. This requires abandoning mutual accusations and focusing on understanding each other’s interests, as well as curbing Turkey’s support for the “Muslim Brotherhood”.

The article is important because the restoration of relations between Egypt and Turkey could significantly change the balance in the Eastern Mediterranean, undermining the efforts of the pro-American bloc based on Israel and the Persian Gulf countries. It is important to note that the topic received wide resonance in political and journalistic circles of Turkey, presenting the Egyptian view on the issue of cooperation in light of the confrontation in Libya.

 
United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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