Below are the takeaways from the week:
- The absence of Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar following a reported stroke has ignited uncertainty in the country and set the stage for a power struggle in eastern Libya. Subsequent instability may derail fragile political initiatives and disrupt U.S. efforts to contain ISIS and al Qaeda in Libya.
- Iran may restore Russia’s military access to an Iranian air base to conduct operations in Syria. Russian officials reportedly requested access to Shahid Nojeh Air Base after President Donald Trump warned Syrian President Bashar al Assad against employing chemical weapons. Iran and Russia will likely continue military coordination in preparation for future U.S. strikes in Syria.
- The Gulf diplomatic crisis is weakening the Somali Federal Government (SFG), a key U.S. partner in the fight against al Shabaab. The SFG ended a military training agreement with the UAE after Somali officials accused the UAE of financing a political challenge to Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. Tensions between the SFG and the UAE have escalated since the Farmajo administration refused to sever ties with Qatar under Emirati and Saudi pressure in 2017.