Welcome back, World readers. Tonight's global journey is 1,559 words (6 minutes).
Erdoğan (R) with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Photo: Murat Kula/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The state of play: Libya has been plagued by war and instability since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.
Turkey has already provided armored vehicles and armed drones to the government in Tripoli. But sophisticated drones from the UAE and mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group threaten to tip the balance in Haftar’s favor.
Soner Cagaptay, author of “Erdoğan’s Empire,” says it will be difficult for Turkey to sustain a military presence in Libya without a green light from Vladimir Putin. Thus, a summit next week between Erdoğan and the Russian president will be crucial.
What to watch: Erdoğan has shown in Syria that he's unwilling to risk direct confrontation with Russia and won't do so in Libya either, Cagaptay says.
Erdoğan is motivated in part by enmity for regional rivals like Egypt, but there are strategic reasons for his intervention in Libya, Cagaptay says.
The big picture: Erdoğan, like Putin, has emphasized foreign policy as the economy sputters at home, framing Turkey as a great power in part because of its Ottoman past. Libya was for centuries part of the Ottoman Empire.
An entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after damage from the protests. Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today the U.S. would take preemptive action against Iran or its proxies if it received indication of attacks being planned against American forces or personnel.
What they’re saying: “The game has changed and we are prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region,” Esper said.
Between the lines: Unlike most of his national security team, Trump sees very little value in any American presence in Iraq whatsoever, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports:
The latest: Multiple rockets struck near Baghdad International Airport this evening, injuring multiple people, per Reuters. Details are still emerging.
A kangaroo flees a fire in Colo Heights, Australia. Photo: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images
“With more than 100 bush fires raging in New South Wales alone, Australia is bracing for a new round of extreme fire weather this weekend, prompting the unprecedented evacuation of tens of thousands of people in coastal Victoria and New South Wales,” writes the Post’s Andrew Freedman.
Netanyahu. Photo via Getty Images
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday that he will ask the Knesset, Israel's parliament, for immunity from pending corruption charges, Axios contributor Barak Ravid reports.
Why it matters: The request by Netanyahu will likely delay any trial until after the country's elections in March — its third attempt to elect a stable majority government in a year. It essentially turns the March vote into a referendum on Netanyahu's political and legal future.
What he's saying: In a statement on prime time TV, Netanyahu said the immunity would end once he finishes serving as a member of the Knesset.
The other side: Netanyahu's political rival Benny Gantz told the press the immunity request endangers the principle that all are equal before the law and harms Israeli democracy.
What's next: Netanyahu's immunity request starts a separate process inside the Knesset. Because the Knesset is currently dissolved, there will have to be a special vote on forming a special committee to begin that process.
Isabel dos Santos. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP via Getty
1. Eight West African countries are about to abandon a currency, the CFA franc, that is pegged to the euro but tainted in many eyes for its colonial legacy.
What to watch: “France says it will continue to support the currency’s peg to the euro. But this guarantee — in effect a promise to make unlimited transfers from the French treasury if the eco comes under speculative attack — is one that markets may doubt, especially in a crisis,” per the Economist.
2. The Trump administration is reportedly considering a “major reduction” — or even a complete withdrawal — of troops in West Africa, the NY Times reports.
3. Africa’s richest woman has had her assets frozen by an Angolan court.
Ghosn on a rainy Tokyo day, thinking it might be time for a getaway. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images
Interpol today issued a red notice asking Lebanon to arrest Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman who fled house arrest in Japan for Beirut.
Driving the news: Investigations into Ghosn’s escape are underway in Japan and Turkey, where the private plane he took from Tokyo stopped. Seven airport staff and pilots were arrested in Istanbul, per the FT:
Welcome to Harbel. Photo: Danielle Paquette/The Washington Post via Getty Images
In 1926, American industrialist Harvey Firestone acquired the land that would become the world's largest contiguous rubber plantation for just 6 cents an acre.
Why it matters: Firestone built up a company town — named Harbel after Firestone and his wife Idabelle — in which some 5,400 workers still live. Still Liberia's largest private employer, Firestone is now winding down a presence in the country that has been both deeply controversial and crucial to the struggling economy.
Danielle Paquette tells the story in the Washington Post.
Sikhs carry the Guru Granth Sahib (holy book) during a procession in Amritsar, India. Photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images
"You won't be getting any votes down here, buddy. You're an idiot."— One of several residents in a town hit hard by bush fires who jeered Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.