Conflict Trend Update

LIBYA

Candidates in Libya’s 24 December presidential election are turning to the courts in likely futile last-ditch attempts to bar controversial rivals from the race. A local court ordered the electoral commission Wednesday to drop Khalifa Haftar, head of the military coalition that launched a war against Tripoli in 2019, from the candidate list, but the ruling will probably be overturned as the court lacks national jurisdiction. The same day, a Tripoli appeals court cleared Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dabaiba to run, shortly after his opponents filed a suit saying he violated a February pledge not to take part. Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of long-time dictator Muammar al-Qadhafi, won his appeal of an electoral commission decision to exclude him. In the end, says Crisis Group expert Claudia Gazzini, the election risks being marred with wrangling that could lead to boycotts, contestation of results and possibly also armed mobilisation.

U.S.-IRAN

The parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and the U.S. convened in Vienna Monday to restart talks about restoring the pact on which President Donald Trump reneged in 2018. Despite President Joe Biden’s promise to rejoin the deal, negotiations have sputtered due to both U.S. and Iranian attempts to alter its original terms. Having significantly accelerated its nuclear activities during the five-month diplomatic hiatus, the new Iranian government is reportedly driving a harder bargain. What is unclear, says Crisis Group expert Ali Vaez, is whether the two sides have the requisite flexibility to meet each other halfway on contentious issues like the scope of sanctions relief and guarantees that the U.S. will not undermine the deal again.

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