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The Early Phoenix

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Iran seizes $50 million in Kuwaiti oil, Houthi Missiles Kill Two, and Qaani Affirms Resistance Power

TOP HEADLINES:

  • Houthi Missile Attack Kills Two on Cargo Ship
  • Iran Taps $50M Oil Reserve, Launches Naval Commands
  • Hezbollah Claims 1,194 Attacks on Israel During the Last 150 Days
  • Turkey Arrests 7 for Alleged Mossad Espionage
  • Suez Canal Revenues Halve Due to Red Sea Turmoil

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YEMEN

  1. Houthi Missile Attack Kills Two on Cargo Ship

A Houthi missile attack off Yemen’s coast targeted the Barbados-flagged cargo ship True Confidence, resulting in significant damage, at least two deaths, and six wounded. Despite efforts to change course on orders from an entity claiming to be the Yemeni Navy, the ship suffered a direct hit, leading to an onboard fire, with the fate of 20 crew members and three armed guards uncertain.

On Tuesday March 4, 2024, the USS Carney countered a Houthi attack by intercepting drones and a missile, as confirmed by CENTCOM, which also reported Houthi strikes on the M/V MSC SKY II in the Gulf of Aden, causing damage. CENTCOM retaliated with strikes targeting Houthi missile capabilities, reflecting ongoing hostilities and U.S. efforts to neutralize threats in the region.

A report by the Financial Times revealed concerns among US officials over the adequacy of intelligence on the Houthis military arsenal, complicating efforts to safeguard Red Sea shipping lanes.

  1. Houthis Declare Al-Houthi Yemen’s Supreme Leader

In an interview with “The Atlantic,” Abdul-Malik Al-Ajri, a member of the Houthi negotiating delegation, articulated the group’s vision for Yemen’s political future, emphasizing that Abdul-Malik al-Houthi will retain his role as the supreme political authority, drawing inspiration from Iran’s “Guardianship of the Jurist” model. Al-Ajri boasted about the Houthis’ enhanced global status and their intention to leverage it in negotiations over maritime operations and communications. He boldly compared their anticipated dominance in Yemen to Hezbollah’s position in Lebanon, with al-Houthi paralleling Iran’s Supreme Leader.

  1. Houthis Advance Inland, Impose Permits, CENTCOM Faces Challenges

The Houthis are advancing towards Marib, aiming to consolidate their position for an assault, amidst US and UK airstrikes targeting Houthi strongholds in Hudaydah Governorate, a key area due to its strategic ports and extensive coastline. Finally, the Houthis today announced a new stipulation that submarine cable ships must obtain a permit from their illegitimate and unrecognized maritime authorities. 

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israeli Forces Cripple Hamas Infrastructure

The Israeli army destroyed a vast Hamas tunnel in northern Gaza, showcasing the tunnel’s elaborate design with facilities such as sanitation, electricity, and vehicle-capable paths. Concurrently, Operation “Taj Al-Gharb” saw intensified actions in Gaza, from Jabalia to Khan Yunis, including the strategic besieging of Hamad Town and capturing dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants during the evacuation of civilians. These synchronized efforts mark a critical blow to Hamas’s operational capabilities, reflecting Israel’s determined military strategies.

  1. U.S. Airdrops Aid to Besieged Gaza

In response to escalating famine risks for a third of Gaza’s population, the U.S. military, collaborating with the Jordanian Air Force, executed its second humanitarian airdrop into Gaza, delivering 36.8 thousand food baskets, primarily targeting the conflict-affected northern region. This initiative follows the tragic Nabulsi Roundabout incident, where over 110 civilians were killed by Israeli fire. Concurrently, the World Health Organization reports a severe rise in malnutrition among northern Gaza’s children, with the UN highlighting that 576,000 individuals are nearing famine conditions, five months post the onset of the Israeli siege triggered by Hamas attacks.

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LEBANON

  1. Hezbollah Claims 1,194 Attacks on Israel During the Last 150 Days

On March 5, the IDF launched operations targeting five locations in Lebanon, including Zebkin (Zur district), Ayta ash Shab, Majdal Zoun, Houla, and Kafra, where an attack led to the ignition of fuel oil. Concurrently, Israeli warplanes engaged in low-altitude flights over southern Lebanon, producing supersonic booms. Today, March 6, the IDF conducted two strikes on south Lebanon, specifically Yaroun, Yater, and Chebaa. No casualty tally has been reported yet. 

In retaliation, Hezbollah launched over 50 rockets from southern Lebanon towards Galilee, which were intercepted. Additionally, Hezbollah claimed an attack on Kfar Blum with dozens of Katyushas, citing it as a response to an IDF strike on a civilian residence in Kfar Khula, where three family members were killed.

Today, Hezbollah media Al Manar published, claiming that 150 days into the Gaza conflict, the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon has conducted 1,194 operations against Israeli targets. This includes 1,187 alleged strikes on sites, settlements, and military positions, with specific locations such as Prophet Joshua, Rmeish Gate, and Shebaa Gate among those highlighted. The report boasts, showing off an extensive operation tally that encompasses 107 settlements, 841 military sites, 74 back positions, and 134 border points, with notable achievements including the downing of two Hormuz 450 drones. The depth of these operations, as claimed, reached 23 km inside Israel, underscoring the resistance’s ongoing commitment to the Gaza struggle, according to Hezbollah’s narrative.

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IRAN

  1. Iran Taps $50M Oil Reserve, Launches Naval Commands

Iran announced today March 6, the unloading from the  $50 million Kuwaiti crude oil shipment intended for Chevron Corp, aboard a tanker seized nearly a year ago, citing a court order related to a lawsuit by individuals suffering from a rare skin disease, affected by sanctions blocking medicine access.

Additionally, a large number of cruise missiles, electric torpedoes, three types of smart naval mines, homegrown cannon projectiles, missile guidance systems and underwater weapons were also delivered to the Navy, according to Tasnim Agency. The Iranian Navy has set up three ocean commands supervising naval missions to the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

  1. Qaani Declares Resistance Still Holds Unseen Power

Brigadier General Ismail Qaani confirmed that the resistance fronts have not used all its capabilities yet, but it has proven that no one can ignore it. He pointed out that while Gaza will be reconstructed, the Israeli position cannot be restored

  1. Iran Shows Off Cutting-Edge Military Arsenal at DIMDEX

At the DIMDEX 2024 defense show in Qatar, Iran displayed a broad range of military technology, including the “Gaza” UAV, a medium-altitude, low-endurance drone with a 500 kg payload, satellite communication, and a 35,000 feet flight ceiling. It can be equipped with an airborne synthetic aperture radar for surface and underwater detection. The exhibit also featured a 20mm naval machine gun, a 12.7mm four-barrel artillery system, and the Sevom Khordad air defense system, known for downing an MQ-4C Triton. Mockups of naval vessels like the CM-90 boat, Midget submarine, and a frigate were displayed alongside the CM-35A anti-ship missile with a 35 km range, and brochures introducing ballistic missiles like the AD-200, BM-250, BM-125, and BM-300. Additionally, Iran showcased the SL-ASR3 early warning system and Iranian-built Kalashnikovs. 

Notably, Iran’s defense industry promotes its capacity for mass production, as highlighted by reports of the Shahad 136 UAV being manufactured in Russia as “Geran,” demonstrating Tehran’s ambition to expand its military exports, excluding the US and Israel

Notice the Iranian leader’s right hand which is almost non-functioning and seems to be hanging in the air (due to a past injury).

  1. Ayatollah Khamenei’s Acts After the elections

The Iranian government and media accused external forces of interfering in its parliamentary elections via cyberattacks and social media manipulation, with Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali reporting about 200 cyber-attacks, particularly DDoS, from foreign sources. The Tehran Times claimed Meta’s team worked with U.S. and U.K. intelligence, affecting electoral outcomes. Contrarily, Ayatollah Khamenei lauded ‘the high voter turnout’ as a civic “jihad,” against the hostile propaganda. The Supreme Leader made this statement while planting trees during the occasion of the National Tree Planting Day

  1. Iran’s Global Gas Dreams Clash with U.S. Sanctions

During the conference in Algeria, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi claimed ambitions to make Iran a major regional gas exporter and an energy hub. However, the reality starkly contrasts these ambitions, as Iran faces a severe daily gas deficit, underinvestment in its oil and gas sectors, and significant production challenges due to sanctions. Meanwhile, global dynamics shift as other nations, notably Qatar, advance in the gas market, further highlighting the discrepancies between Iran’s aspirations and its actual capabilities amid U.S. sanctions. In other related news, the Iranian national currency has been plummeting to a historic all-time drop, just days after the also historic all-time low voter turnout

  1. Iranian FM Explores Economic Ties During OIC Meeting on Gaza

In Jeddah, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan, convened during an Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) emergency session focused on Gaza. Amirabdollahian advocated for enhanced economic and commercial partnerships, urging eased cooperation frameworks. Farhan, highlighting the positive trajectory of bilateral relations, expressed Saudi Arabia’s readiness to advance ties with Iran further.

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★ SYRIA

  1. ISIS Targets Truffle Collectors; Drone Hits Militia in Deir ez-Zor

An ISIS attack targeting truffle collectors in Deir ez-Zor’s Kabajib desert resulted in 18 fatalities, including four National Defense members, 16 injuries, and over 50 missing. Violent clashes ensued, destroying 12 vehicles

On the other side of Syria’s northeast, 3 members of the pro-Iranian militia, including 2 of non-Syrian nationality, were killed in the targeting of an unknown drone that targeted a militia military vehicle in the vicinity of the “Ain Ali” shrine in the Al-Mayadeen desert in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, within areas controlled by regime forces and Iranian militias.

  1. Asma ASSad Clashes with Businessman Over Royalties

Tensions have escalated between Asma al-Assad, who oversees Syria’s secretive economic management office, and Hossam Katerji, a businessman and regime supporter, due to his resistance to paying imposed royalties. Demanding 40% of Katerji’s assets, the office froze his properties following his objection. This dispute led to the seizure of Katerji’s premises in Damascus and Aleppo. 

  1. Syrian Inmates in Lebanon Resort to Suicide Attempts Over Extradition Fears to Assad’s Regime

If anything can portray the cruelty Bashar ASSad has administered against his own people, this story should draw a clear picture. For the last few days now, Syrian inmates in Lebanese prisons, specifically, Roumieh, have been threatening suicide by hanging as a protest against their potential extradition back to Syria after completing their sentences. On Saturday March 2, 2024 Syrian inmates actually attempted suicide using bed linens but were saved by fellow inmates, leaving three hospitalized in critical condition.  

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★ EGYPT

  1. Suez Canal Revenues Halve Due to Red Sea Turmoil

Egypt faces a significant drop in Suez Canal revenues, with a 50.7% decline reported from the start of the year to February 26, 2024, amid ongoing Houthi threats and disruptions in the Red Sea. Revenues plummeted to $724 million from $1.469 billion in the same period last year, with ship transits decreasing from 3.9 thousand to 2.3 thousand. The Suez Canal Authority forecasts a sharp fall in annual revenues to $5 billion from last year’s $10.2 billion if disruptions persist. The crisis has escalated shipping costs, including a tenfold increase in insurance rates and heightened fuel costs, due to diverted routes around the Cape of Good Hope, potentially triggering global inflationary pressures.

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★ TURKIYE

  1. Turkiye Arrests 7 for Alleged Mossad Espionage

Turkish authorities have detained seven individuals suspected of espionage for Israel’s Mossad. The operation, a collaborative effort by Turkiye’s Intelligence Service and Istanbul Security Directorate, uncovered a network led by former government employee Hamza Turhan Ayberk. Ayberk, identified through his connections with a figure named Victoria, reportedly recruited government workers to gather Middle Eastern data for Mossad since 2019. Investigations reveal Ayberk’s activities ranged from information collection to surveillance and threats, employing encrypted communications and digital currencies to elude detection. This arrest follows revelations of Mossad’s recruitment tactics in Turkiye, involving Syrians, Palestinians, and individuals linked to Hamas, highlighting a sophisticated espionage network within the country.

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📌 Incase you missed it,

🌍 The Region –March 4, 2024

📰 The Early Phoenix February 28, 2024

🔗 Follow the latest news from the American Center for Levant Studies via Google News

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