Rival Libyan factional leaders meet in Paris
The leaders of two would-be Libyan governments are set to meet in Paris today. General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army and Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of the UN-backed Government of National Accord will discuss solutions to the current political crisis.
Haftar, supported by Egypt and Russia, has made gains in recent weeks, capturing Benghazi—Libya’s second city—on July 5. The victory affirms the general’s control over eastern Libya, allowing him to set his eyes beyond that power base.
The Paris talks suggest Europe is acknowledging Haftar’s strong position, particularly given the absence of representation from the Islamist-leaning General National Congress, Libya’s third political power.
The EU’s main stakeholder in Libya is Italy, where Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano touted the government’s early endorsement of Haftar in February. Rome feels the crisis acutely, as it is struggling to accommodate migrants using divided Libya as a waystation into Italy.
Expect the meeting to serve as an opening of dialogue between the two parties. Mr Haftar will likely seize the opportunity to follow up his military gains with political ones.
FROM THE ASHES?
Greek foreign minister in Cyprus after peace talks collapse
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias arrives in Cyprus today after reunification talks between the Greek south and Turkish north collapsed earlier this month. He will meet with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to discuss a way forward.
At first, the UN-hosted talks—including both Cypriot factions as well as the three “guarantors” Greece, Turkey and the UK—held promise, with agreement in sight on issues like the federal structure of a united Cyprus. But disagreements over the removal of 30,000 Turkish troops from the north could not be resolved, and the parties walked away from the table.
Greek-Turkish divisions are not the only ones at hand. Kotzias has accused the UN mediator, Espen Barth Eide, of attempting to divide the Greek and Cypriot teams and telling “multiple lies”. Bad blood between Athens and the UN could hinder restarting talks.
Despite the latest hiccups, all sides want a resolution; both Anastasiades and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart were elected on unification platforms. Look to today’s visit for signs of how they may try to pick up the pieces and start afresh.
HEALTHCARE IN FLUX
Hospital Corporation of America reports amid legislative turmoil
One of America’s largest for-profit hospital operators, HCA Healthcare, releases its quarterly earnings today. Nasdaq predicts the overall stock prices to increase 6 cents per share.
Other hospitals, however, are facing tougher times. Under the latest Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, 32 million Americans would lose coverage via clauses that remove mandating insurance purchases and gut the Medicaid program that funds care for low-income individuals.
Because Republicans similarly plan to cut taxes and the Trump administration wants to halt subsidies for low-income earners, health care costs would shift to the hospitals, potentially costing them over $100 billion.
Don’t expect the healthcare debate to be resolved anytime soon, as uncertainty within the White House is coupled with disunity in Congress. For the moment, HCA, fuelled by the opposition of renegade senators like Susan Collins and Rand Paul to Trumpcare, is defying expectations and continues to make investments.
The US House of Representatives is expected to approve legislation imposing a raft of new sanctions on Russia, North Korea, Iran and Kremlin-linked businesses. The measures are expected to target large Russian industrial companies, including energy firms which may be involved in the proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has reportedly expressed concern that the sanctions could have negative implications for European companies and might be used to unfairly benefit US natural gas exports to the Continent.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visits the White House today. Unsurprisingly, Mr Hariri’s discussions with US officials will focus on the fight against terrorism and the war in neighbouring Syria.