The Middle East Channel

Militia groups withdraw from the Libyan capital of Tripoli after deadly clashes

Militia groups from Misrata have reportedly begun withdrawing from the Libyan capital of Tripoli following clashes that killed at least 43 people and injured an estimated 450 others on Friday and Saturday. Misrata's council of elders and local council on Sunday issued a statement ordering militia groups from the city to leave Tripoli within 72 hours. The order came after militiamen from the Misratan al-Nusour brigade fired on protesters participating in demonstrations outside its brigade headquarters calling for the militias to leave the capital. According to the interim government, "the security situation in Tripoli is good and under control." On Sunday, Libyan Deputy Intelligence Chief Mustafa Noah was reportedly abducted at Tripoli's international airport by unknown gunmen but was later released on Monday. Noah's abduction came about a month after Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped and briefly held by militiamen associated with the government.

Syria

A Syrian government delegation met with Russian officials in Moscow Monday to discuss an international peace conference planned for Geneva. U.N. and Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said that he hopes to convene the Geneva II conference in December. The talks in Moscow have come just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the first time in over two years. Amidst the diplomatic efforts, fierce violence continues within Syria, including a massive bombing targeting an army transport base in the Damascus suburb of Harasta. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 31 Syrian troops, including four senior officers, were killed in the explosion Sunday, which leveled the building. The bomb appeared to have been placed either inside or in the basement of the building, which suggests that rebel forces had infiltrated the base. Meanwhile, government offensives have continued in the outskirts of Damascus, in the Qalamoun mountain region along the border with Lebanon, as well as in the northern Aleppo region. A top Syrian rebel commander reportedly died overnight in Turkey after sustaining wounds from a government attack on Thursday in Aleppo province on a base where several rebel leaders were meeting. Abdulkader al-Saleh was the leader of Liwa al-Tawhid, one of the main rebel groups in Aleppo with between 8,000 and 10,000 fighters.

Headlines

Arguments and Analysis

'Libya: on the brink of abyss' (Solomon Dersso, Al Jazeera)

"The failure to re-establish state authority, the continuing hold of diverse and rival armed groupings, polarisation and militarisation of politics, regional and tribal divisions and fighting, political assassinations, as well as increasing extremism and acts of terrorism, have emerged as the defining features of Libya's post-Gaddafi transition. While it adds to the argument against externally driven forcible regime change, the worrying and sad state of things in Libya inevitably also raises questions if Libya was worse off today than it was under Gaddafi's authoritarian rule. As a special report by the Independent aptly captured it: 'We all thought Libya had moved on -- it has but into lawlessness and ruin.'

True, the situation has not as yet descended into total anarchy and full-fledged civil war. Overshadowed by the events in Egypt and Syria, Libya's multidimensional crisis attracts little attention. But if the trend persists, it is not clear what would stop the country from becoming a major crisis in the region. Given the large amount of weapons moving around in and from the country and the precarious security situation in the Sahel and West Africa, including the surge in armed movements, Libya's descent into anarchy is sure to affect not only North Africa and the entire Sahel region, but it would also be felt as far as Central Africa and the Horn of Africa regions." 

'An Iran nuclear deal doesn't have to be perfect -- just better than the alternatives' (Kenneth Pollack, Washington Post)

"The current sanctions against Iran work only because they rest on an international consensus that Iran has been the recalcitrant party in the nuclear impasse. Russia, China, India, Brazil and other key nations have supported and abided by the sanctions because they have seen Iran as the country refusing to negotiate.

If Washington -- rather than Tehran -- rejects the deal under consideration, the United States will suddenly become the problem, and that could prove disastrous. It would embolden Tehran to hold out, rather than give in. Instead of increasing the pressure on Iran, over time, we would probably see an erosion of the sanctions.

Here it is worth remembering Iraq. Once international opinion turned against the Iraq sanctions in the mid-1990s, they unraveled quickly. By 2000, Saddam Hussein was smuggling billions of dollars in oil, goods and cash while countries such as France, Russia, China, Egypt and Turkey ignored U.N. Security Council resolutions -- resolutions that France, Russia and China had voted for. What we found then, and as we would probably find now with Iran, is that once international opinion turns against sanctions, trying to enforce them means fighting with your allies and trade partners, rather than the targeted country. That makes sanctions virtually impossible to sustain."

--Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

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