Monday, 16th May 2016

LIBYA – The United States, Italy and Libya’s friends and neighbors agreed on Monday to arm the country’s fledgling unity government to fight ISIL. US Secretary of State John Kerry said a 25-member group had agreed to exempt the Government of National Accord (GNA) from the UN arms embargo imposed to halt the Libyan conflict. (The National)

France and Britain are preparing a UN resolution that would authorize EU ships in the Mediterranean to intercept vessels suspected of carrying weapons to Libya, diplomats said Monday. (Al Monitor)

MIGRANT CRISIS – The EU is facing further criticism over its handling of the migrant crisis. The UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, is reported to have said that just turning people away won’t work. (Euronews)

TURKEY – Turkish authorities on Monday confirmed that 13 missing civilians had been killed last week in a blast caused by a huge quantity of explosives hoarded by Kurdish rebels blowing up accidentally. (Al Monitor)

WAR ON TERROR – At a time when the bureaucracy of the US government is slow in the internet war against ISIS, web giants, mainly Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are shutting down thousands of terrorist accounts on a daily basis. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Tuesday, 17th May 2016

GREECE – The International Monetary Fund is increasing demands for Greek debt relief, setting up another potential standoff with creditors over the country’s bailout, and threatening to create more political and economic uncertainty at an already tumultuous time for Europe. (The New York Times)

ITALY – Italy and Libya discussed on Tuesday renewing a 2008 accord under which Italy pledged billions of dollars in investments in return for energy contracts and controlling illegal migration from North Africa, Italy’s Foreign Ministry said. (Reuters)

SYRIA – Major power talks on Syria aim to restore a truce across the country and get aid into besieged areas to encourage opposition groups to return to negotiations in Geneva, Germany’s Foreign Minister said on Tuesday. (Reuters)

Wednesday, 18th May 2016

EGYPT – Egypt is America’s strong regional partner, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed while in Cairo to discuss ways to renew the frozen Middle East peace process. He arrived just one day after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Israelis and Palestinians to take historic steps to end their conflict. (The Jerusalem Post)

ISRAEL – In a sharp turnaround, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Wednesday to bring the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into his governing coalition by offering to name its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister, according to politicians across Israel’s political map. (The New York Times)

MACEDONIA – The Macedonian parliament Wednesday called off a national election set for June 5 after most of the main political parties threatened to boycott the vote amid growing anger over a government wiretapping scandal. (The Daily Star)

SYRIA – World leaders have renewed their calls for a cessation of hostilities in Syria after meeting in Vienna, hoping to restart peace talks aimed at halting Syria’s civil war. (Al Jazeera)

TURKEY – With just days left until Turkey is due to name a new cabinet, President Tayyip Erdogan’s advisers have renewed the call for lower interest rates – a sign, some investors fear, of a more populist policy team to come. (Reuters)

Thursday, 19th May 2016

EGYPT – The wreckage of an EgyptAir plane carrying 66 passengers and crew has been found in the Mediterranean Sea, the airline said Thursday, hours after it disappeared in what Egypt officials said was a downing more likely caused by terrorism than technical malfunction. (The Wall Street Journal)

LEBANON – The decision by Lebanon’s central bank to apply a US law targeting finances of Hezbollah has caused concern in the country over a potential exacerbation of political and sectarian rifts. The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA) threatens sanctions and account closures against anyone who finances Hezbollah in a significant way. (Al Jazeera)

MONTENEGRO – NATO made a formal invitation on Thursday to Montenegro to join the alliance as its 29th member. NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels signed the accession protocol under the eyes of the Montenegrin Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic. (The New York Times)

TURKEY – President Erdoğan’s close ally Binali Yıldırım will be sole candidate to head AK party, which would make him PM after resignation of Ahmet Davutoğlu. (The Guardian)

WAR ON TERROR – The French parliament approved a new two-month extension of the state of emergency on Thursday that was initially declared in the aftermath of the 13 November attacks in and around Paris. (The New York Times)

Friday, 20th May 2016

CYPRUS – Legal proceedings to extradite a man accused of hijacking an EgyptAir plane and diverting it to the Mediterranean island officially got under way on Friday. A Nicosia court received the official documentation requesting the extradition of Egyptian Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, 58 to face trial in Cairo. (Al Monitor)

EGYPT – The disappearance of an EgyptAir plane in the Mediterranean Sea early Thursday has renewed concerns about the tourism-dependent North African economy, which is already struggling to recover from a spate of terror attacks. (The Wall Street Journal)

ISRAEL – Israel’s Defense Minister announced his resignation on Friday, saying the governing party had been taken over by “extremist and dangerous elements” and that he no longer trusted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following reports that he was to be replaced. (The New York Times)

MIGRANT CRISIS – A Greek immigration tribunal has ruled that Turkey is not a safe country to send refugees back to – throwing an EU plan to return Syrians there en masse into jeopardy. (The Independent)

SYRIA – Russia on Friday proposed conducting joint airstrikes with the US-led coalition in Syria against an al-Qaeda-linked group and other factions, marking a potential new strategy by Moscow toward more coordination with the West and allies in the Syrian conflict. (The Washington Post)

WAR ON TERROR – The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group has dropped flyers on Syria’s Raqa urging residents for the first time to leave the jihadist stronghold, an activist and a monitor said Friday. (Al Monitor)