When Hadi and others in talks brokered by the UN failed to negotiate a government acceptable to the Houthis, they seized power and have been setting up their own government. Hadi was able to flee from house arrest to Aden but he was driven out of his retreat although he is still in the Aden area. He has been desperately seeking help from other countries and the UN.
For several days Saudi Arabia had been moving heavy military equipment including artillery near the border with Yemen. The Saudis are very concerned about successful advances of the Houthis who have the support of Iran. However, they also have the support of former president Saleh and a considerable number of the armed forces. The Saudis and GCC will not likely be able to simply march in and restore the rule of their favorite, Hadi , as they were able to do to control Houthi protests against the Bahraini ruler in Bahrain. The Saudi action could very well create significant protests in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia site of significant oil resources and with Shiite majorities.
The US has evacuated its special forces from Yemen as Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) advanced close to their base. AQAP has allied with Sunni tribes in some areas to check the advance of the Houthis. The US has not been involved in the operations although until recently they continued carrying out drone strikes against AQAP. Suicide attacks in two Sanaa mosques that killed at least 137 people and wounded another 345 were claimed to be the work of the Islamic State. The Saudi incursion may be quite costly to them if they send in ground forces. Instead of working for a political solution the Saudis will simply add another dimension of violence and create a wider civil war.
However, there is another upstart party, Ciudadanos, which won nine seats. The Socialists might try forming a coalition with them. The two new parties will be in a position to challenge the old system in which two parties dominated. More and more voters are challenging the old parties as Spain suffers from austerity policies
Podemos also holds five seats in the European Parliament.
European pollsters say that if an election were held now in Spain, Podemos would win. However, no election is scheduled until October or even November of this year.
Many in the Spanish, financial, political, and media establishment worry about the rise of Podemos, particularly the heads of major banks. The ruling People's Party warns voters of the danger of electing a party that will destabilise Spain.
The warnings appear to be unheard by the populace. While Spain is one of Europe's fastest growing economies this has done little do ameliorate the effects of austerity policies and a punishing unemployment rate.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) condemned the airport attacks but the UN's only form of punishment is a tongue-lashing since none of the big powers are willing to take any action against Haftar or the Tobruk government. UNSMIL and Leon have constantly urged both sides not to engage in battle as this is inconsistent with the aim of the dialogue to find a political solution and agreement on a ceasefire. However, the Tobruk government also began an offensive south of Tripoli. The Al-Thinni government said on Facebook that it had started an offensive to liberate Tripoli and its suburbs. This is completely contrary to any idea of a dialogue. The UN envoy can do nothing except express his disapproval of these actions. He called the clashes unacceptable and a serious threat to the dialogue.
The UN almost never assigns blame. Leon said that "both political actors and military actors should stop such actions". Leon does not say that the Libyan government bombed the Tripoli airport or started an offensive to take Tripoli. He says only that both actors should stop! UN reports often seem to come from another planet. They do, from Planet Correct Political Protocol. Leon, the UN envoy, is ever optimistic. He is hoping to have documents on a national unity government, security arrangements, and a national unity government ready and agreed upon by Sunday. With the ongoing attacks by the Islamic State in Libya and Tunisia Leon claims that the talks should be in a decisive round.
Certainly, it is in the interests of both sides to fight against the Islamic State(IS) since IS has launched attacks against both, in Tripoli-held areas as well as areas controlled by the Tobruk government. However, Haftar and the Al Thinni government see their fight against Tripoli as itself part of the war on terror. They have requested that the arms embargo that prevents shipments of weapons to Libya be lifted so that they can obtain weapons for their war on terror. Haftar together with his supporter President el-Sissi of Egypt cannot understand why the Libyan government is not getting the full support of the west in Haftar's war on Islamic terrorists.
So far the US and the UK and many other countries are pinning hopes on the formation of a unity government and a political solution that would lead to a unified battle against the Islamic State. Khalifa Haftar and the Tobruk government have other ideas. For them the war against the IS and against the Tripoli government and its militia are all part of the war on terror.
The Tobruk government refuses to talk directly with representatives of the Tripoli government since that government will not recognize Tobruk as the sole legitimate government. The head of the Tripoli representatives was in favour of direct talks between the two sides but the Tobruk government will not talk to a group that refuses to recognize it as the sole legitimate government. The Tripoli government does not recognize Tobruk because back on November 6th last year, the Libyan Supreme Court ruled that the June elections were unconstitutional and that the Tobruk government should be dissolved. The UN said it was studying the matter as of last November. They have made no further statement on the issue.
The important powers do not want them to.
They are carrying on as usual with the press dutifully following along calling the Tobruk government the Libyan government and almost never mentioning the court decision in articles. Ironically, Al Thinni was prime minister of the Libyan transition government when last May Haftar launched Operation Dignity by attacking two Islamist bases in Benghazi. He called Haftar's action illegal and noted that there was a warrant out for Haftar's arrest for an attempted coup in February. Soon after Haftar's allies burned down parliament as part of Operation Dignity.
How things change.
Now the same Al-Thinni is prime minister of the Tobruk government. Instead of carrying out the arrest warrant he has made Haftar head of the armed forces. Haftar has shown nothing but contempt for the dialogue process describing the dialogue as talking with terrorists. Even if there is a political settlement and the Tobruk government agrees to a political solution, it seems unlikely that Haftar will stop trying to defeat the Tripoli government forces.
Not only NATO but also the US was angered by the agreement. Jen Psaki, US State Department spokesperson said: "The regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are integral parts of Georgia and we continue to support Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,"
The treaty was signed after talks between Russian president Vladiimir Putin and South Ossetian president Leonid Tibilov in Moscow on March 18. The treaty includes a pledge of collective security. Putin said the treaty improved the two countries' legal system and in coordination of economic development. Tibilov said: “We know the Russian Federation is the only guarantor for our people and for our republic.” South Ossetia has supported Russia in the annexation of the Crimea. There seems almost zero possibility of either Abkhazia or South Ossetia being reintegrated back into Georgia.
Many analysts worry that there could be revenge attacks by Shia militias against Sunni inhabitants and many civilian casualties. If air support is called in to a battle within the city there is bound to be considerable damage to infrastructure and remaining civilians may be casualties.
Alaa Makki a member of the mostly Sunni Islamic Party said: "There is a minimum amount of Daesh (IS) fighters in Tikrit. They are controlling the situation there--wow!" However, the Iraqi Interior Minister said that the Iraqi forces wanted to give citizens a chance to evacuate their areas and also wanted to preserve the infrastructure of the city as well as ensuring the least number of lives lost among the security forces. The IS has booby-trapped roads and buildings leading into the city slowing the advance the Iraqi forces. Outside the city Saddam Hussein's tomb is said to have been badly damaged in fact virtually destroyed.
Tikrit is in the heart of the Sunni triangle where the majority of citizens are Sunni and who were strong supporters of Hussein.
The apparent difficulty in retaking Tikrit places in doubt whether the larger IS-controlled city of Mosul will be retaken any time soon.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.
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