Preliminary results announced Monday from Iraq's elections indicate that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's alliance has won the largest number of parliamentary seats. The results from the April 30 elections are still subject to challenges, however initial results show Maliki's State of Law bloc taking 92 seats in Iraq's 328-seat parliament, far more than his main Shiite rivals: the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which won 29 seats; and the movement of Moktada al-Sadr, which won 28 seats. An estimated 62 percent of eligible voters participated in the elections, which were considered credible, though there were some reports of violations. Maliki will likely secure a third term as prime minister and be asked to form a new coalition government, a process that could take months.
Fifty-eight countries have backed a proposal calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria. Switzerland sent an appeal to the U.N. Security Council to adopt a draft resolution, however it is likely to be opposed by China and Russia. According to opposition activists, an air strike on the rebel-held northern town of Marea killed at least 23 people late Monday night, including a family with eight children. Meanwhile, senior U.S. intelligence officials have said they estimate over a hundred Americans have traveled to fight in Syria, with between six and 12 having returned to the United States.
- Libya's government has proposed a parliamentary recess and the Benghazi-based special forces declared support for former General Heftar amid concerns of further conflict.
- Gunmen killed three Egyptian soldiers who were trying to disperse a protest near Cairo's Al-Azhar University as Sisi secured a victory in overseas results ahead of the presidential election.
- Soma's main labor union has called for thousands of workers to suspend activities until mines are inspected meanwhile Turkish authorities arrested eight suspects in connection with last week's explosion.
Arguments and Analysis
'Short-Term Stability in Sinai Will Exacerbate Tensions for Egypt's Next President' (Zack Gold, Atlantic Council)
"In the short term, repressive tactics can work to quiet the Sinai and halt Salafi-jihadists from using Sinai to launch attacks west of the Suez Canal. It has been almost four months since Sinai's Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack outside the peninsula, following ‘unprecedented' military raids that begin in late January.
Even if one ignores the human rights and rule of law issues involved, however, such a crackdown is certain to result in blowback in the medium- to long-term. After all, this is what happened during the 2011 uprising: before the revolution provided the opportunity for vengeance, crackdowns in response to the bombings of tourist resorts from 2004-2006 produced five years of relative quiet in Sinai. While capturing violent actors is necessary for stabilizing Sinai, harsh treatment of the broader Sinai population will exacerbate support for such anti-state violence, and that support will simmer below the surface as long as the peninsula's legitimate political and developmental grievances go unmet."
'How will Lebanon's Christians deal with presidential vacancy?' (Jean Aziz, Al-Monitor)
"The Christians are trying to apply pressure so that the presidential vacuum doesn't last long and to speed up the election of a new president. More importantly, they are trying to impose an equation whereby the system cannot continue to work normally when the presidency is vacant so that the idea that the presidency is not really needed doesn't become consecrated.
However, two matters counter that kind of thinking. First, what if the resulting complete disruption of the system and its institutions results in a situation that imposes a comprehensive review of the constitution? In such a situation and in light of the current power balance, could the Christians guarantee that such an operation would not take place at their expense and that it doesn't result in their losing even more constitutional powers in the system, as happened every time before?
Second, there are pressing government duties related to the economy, people's livelihoods and workers' demands that are before the government and parliament, such as the demand for higher wages by state employees and teachers. What if Christian politicians were to be seen as responsible for obstructing the country's economy and the demands of the needy?"
-- Mary Casey
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images