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World Braces for Israeli Response to Iranian Attack

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TOP HEADLINES:

  • Israel Vows Response to Iranian Offensive
  • Iran Calls for Withdrawal of Support to Israel, Threatens Stronger Retaliation
  • Biden Commits to Containing Middle East Conflict
  • Report:  Jordan and Saudi Arabia Assisted Israel Against Iranian Attack
  • Paris Conference: Over €2 Billion Pledged for Sudan

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★ ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israel Vows Response to Iranian Offensive, Global Leaders Call for Calm

Following Iran’s unprecedented military strike on Israel with hundreds of drones and missiles, Israel’s military chief said Israel plans to respond. The attack, the first direct Iranian assault on Israel, came after an Israeli air strike in Damascus that killed senior Iranian military officers. Global figures such as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron have appealed for Israeli to restrict itself to non-escalatory actions to prevent further violence.

  1. Biden Will Not Hinder Netanyahu’s Decision to Strike Iran, Says US Official

Senior US officials indicate that President Biden will not prevent Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu from responding to Iran’s recent attack. European nations have concurrently summoned Iranian ambassadors, condemning the attack but cautioning Israel against escalating tensions. Reports from Israeli sources suggest that a retaliatory strike by Israel could be imminent. 

  1. Netanyahu Directs IDF to Identify Potential Targets in Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to pinpoint potential Iranian targets for possible retaliation, including nuclear facilities and cyber attacks. This directive follows Iran’s recent drone and missile attack on Israel. Israeli officials are debating the timing and nature of their response, aiming for decisive action that avoids regional escalation. Netanyahu has called for international unity against Iranian aggression and emphasized the necessity of a coordinated response with the United States, while the Iranian regime has warned of immediate and severe retaliation if provoked further.

  1. Report:  Jordan and Saudi Arabia Assisted Israel Against Iranian Attack

Jordan allowed Israeli forces to use its airspace to intercept Iranian missiles and drones targeting Israel, according to an Israeli military official. Saudi Arabia also played a key role in a joint military operation with Israel, the US, Jordan, the UK, and France that successfully intercepted 99 percent of Iranian drones and missiles targeting Israel. The operation involved automatic systems to counter suspicious entries into Saudi airspace, emphasizing Saudi’s strategic defense capabilities. Despite conflicting reports from Al Arabiya denying Saudi’s direct interception involvement, the collaboration marks a significant step towards a regional military alliance, initially spurred by U.S.-led efforts to normalize Saudi-Israel relations and counter Iranian influence in the region.

  1. Gaza Negotiations:  Hamas Reduces Number of Hostages Offered for Release While Raising Demands

Hamas has reduced the number of hostages it is willing to release from 40 to 20 in the initial phase of any potential exchange deal with Israel, as reported by Israel’s Channel 12. The group is also demanding the release of a greater number of high-risk Palestinian prisoners in return for each Israeli hostage. Additionally, Hamas has reiterated its conditions for a permanent ceasefire, including the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the initiation of reconstruction efforts. These demands have complicated negotiations, despite Israel’s willingness to be flexible to secure a deal, according to the U.S. State Department.

  1. Gaza War Doubled Israel’s Debt to $43 Billion in 2023

The Israeli Ministry of Finance reported that the ongoing conflict in Gaza with Hamas doubled Israel’s national debt to approximately $43 billion in 2023, with $22 billion accrued since the conflict escalated in October. In comparison, Israel borrowed around $17 billion throughout 2022. Despite the significant increase in borrowing needs, Chief Accountant Yehali Rotenberg highlighted Israel’s strong economic resilience, noting its capability to secure substantial loans with high coverage rates from both domestic and international markets, even during wartime.

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★ IRAN

  1. Iran Calls for Withdrawal of Support to Israel, Threatens Stronger Retaliation

Iran’s military spokesperson, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, has urged the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany to cease their support for Israel, describing it as a weakening and corrupt state. Following a recent Iranian missile and drone strike that breached Israel’s air defenses, Shekarchi warned that any further hostile actions from Israel’s allies would provoke a more forceful Iranian response. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Baqeri issued a stern warning to Israel, promising an instantaneous and robust response to any future provocations. Baqeri said any repeated mistakes by Israel would be met with immediate consequences.

  1. Iranian Officials Concerned by Israel’s Ability to Infiltrate Iran as Part of Retaliation

Iranian officials are anxious about Israel’s ability to infiltrate inside Iran and other potential retaliatory measures following Iran’s recent drone and missile attack. Iranian regime officials fear further isolation and economic fallout from any escalated conflict. A member of Iran’s parliament and former nuclear chief, Fereydoon Abbasi, cited past Israeli sabotage efforts and emphasized the need for heightened security to prevent further incidents. The Iranian public, already burdened by high inflation and economic sanctions, views the prospect of intensified conflict with apprehension.

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★ IRAQ

  1. In Meeting with Iraq’s PM, Biden Commits to Containing Middle East Conflict and Defending Israel

President Joe Biden emphasized his commitment to preventing the escalation of the Middle East conflict while affirming robust support for Israel after a significant aerial attack by Iran. In discussions with Iraq’s Prime Minister at the White House, Biden expressed determination to secure a ceasefire to return hostages and contain the conflict. He highlighted the U.S.’s role in thwarting Iran’s assault, stressing the necessity of strategic responses to avoid broader conflict. The U.S. denied receiving prior notice of Iran’s attack, countering assertions that Tehran had carried out a premeditated failure intended to minimize damage.

  1. Biden and Sudani Discuss $550M U.S. Military Assistance Package

President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani discussed a forthcoming $550 million military assistance agreement aimed at enhancing Iraq’s security capabilities, including in the Kurdish region. The Pentagon confirmed the joint action protocol which seeks to fortify Iraq against aerial threats.

  1. Erdogan’s Upcoming Visit to Iraq: A Milestone for Bilateral Relations?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled for an official visit to Iraq this month. Analysts view the visit as a pivotal opportunity to enhance the ties between the two neighboring countries. Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim al-Aaraji describes the visit as potentially transformative and anticipates the signing of important memoranda of understanding in strategic areas such as transportation, energy, security, and economic cooperation. Water issues, security, and energy are expected to top the agenda.

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★ SYRIA

  1. Sweden Prosecutes Former Syrian General for War Crimes

In Sweden, former Syrian general Mohammad Hamo, 65, has been brought to trial for alleged involvement in war crimes during 2012, making him the highest-ranking Syrian military official to be tried in Europe. Residing in Sweden, Hamo faces charges that could lead to a life sentence. The accusations relate to his role in facilitating indiscriminate military attacks in and around Hama and Homs. The trial, detailing his involvement in coordination and arming combat units, is expected to continue until late May.

  1. Israeli Military Claims Damascus Consulate Strike Victims Were Involved in Terrorism

Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated that those killed in the strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus were implicated in terrorism against Israel. This marks Israel’s first official comment on the April 1st attack in Damascus. Hagari identified the victims as members of Iran’s Quds Force and Hezbollah and claimed that no diplomats were present. The strike, carried out by an Israeli F-35, resulted in the deaths of senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi, his deputy, and several advisors, alongside six Syrians.

  1. ISIS Launches 14 Attacks on Damascus Forces in Two Weeks

ISIS militants have intensified their attacks across Syria since the beginning of the year, focusing primarily in government-controlled desert regions. Since early April, they have conducted fourteen assaults on Assad regime forces, resulting in 27 deaths and 12 injuries. Six of these attacks occurred in Deir ez-Zor’s desert, killing 13; four in Homs, killing eight; one in Hama, killing four; and another in rural Raqqa, which resulted in two fatalities.

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★ LEBANON

  1. Lebanese Officials Claim Mossad Assassinated Hamas Financier in Lebanon

Lebanese officials, including Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi, suggest Mossad was responsible for the assassination of Mohammad Srour, a U.S.-sanctioned individual linked to funding Hamas through Iran’s support. Srour was found dead in Beit Mery, Lebanon. The officials said Investigations Lebanese and Syrian agents under Mossad’s direction used silenced weapons to carry out the killing. The ongoing probe focuses on analyzing communications data. Srour was known for his financial connections between Hezbollah and Hamas, facilitated through the Hezbollah-aligned Bayt al-Mal bank.

  1. Gibran Bassil Calls for New UN Resolution to End Israel-Lebanon Tensions

Gibran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, has urged international bodies, including the UN Security Council and the EU, to enforce Resolution 1701 and advocate for a new UNSC resolution to prevent further escalations between Israel and Lebanon. In his widespread communication with global and local leaders, Bassil emphasized the need for immediate action to avert a severe conflict similar to the ongoing situation in Gaza. He highlighted the urgency of maintaining Lebanon’s constitutional integrity and pushing forward essential reforms, including presidential elections.

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★ YEMEN

  1. Iranian President Praises Yemen’s Role in Attacks Against Israel

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi praised Yemen’s support for the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza. In a phone call with Yemen’s Supreme Political Council President Mahdi al-Mashat, Raisi criticized the Western nations’ silence on the continued atrocities in Gaza, which he claims has emboldened Israel. Raisi lauded Yemen’s initiatives to halt the genocide against Palestinians, stating that Yemen’s solidarity is crucial in deterring further Israeli crimes. Al-Mashat reaffirmed Yemen’s support for Iran’s responses to Israeli aggressions, condemning international stances that overlook Iran’s sovereign defense actions.

  1. Escalating Regional Tensions Exacerbate Yemen’s Economic Crisis

Yemen faces growing economic and banking crises exacerbated by regional conflicts that have intensified in the past six months. Local experts say Yemen is particularly vulnerable to repercussions from the Iran-Israel tensions and express concerns about potential economic, monetary, and investment implications for Yemen, including disruptions in international markets and supply chains. These challenges compound the existing difficulties in mediating the economic conflict between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels, making peace efforts more arduous amidst ongoing regional instability.

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★ GULF REGION

  1. Saudi Arabia Shares Crucial Intel in Response to Iranian Attack on Israel

Saudi Arabia played a pivotal role in defending against Iran’s attack on Israel by providing key intelligence, alongside the UAE, which significantly enhanced Israel’s defensive efforts. This cooperation marks a significant step in the informal regional air-defense alliance led by the U.S., designed to counter threats from Iran. However, Saudi Arabia did not permit the use of its airspace for U.S. operations during the attack. This development reflects a shift towards greater military collaboration between Israel and Sunni Arab nations, focused on regional security rather than forming a formal alliance.

  1. Microsoft Invests $1.5 Billion in UAE’s G42 to Advance AI Technologies

Microsoft has invested $1.5 billion in G42, the leading AI company in the UAE based in Abu Dhabi, aiming to integrate cutting-edge AI technologies and skill development initiatives globally. This strategic partnership, supported fully by both the UAE and US governments, includes Microsoft President Brad Smith joining G42’s board and G42 utilizing Microsoft’s Azure cloud services. 

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★ EGYPT AND NORTH AFRICA

  1. Egyptian Pound Loses Ground Against the Dollar

The dominance of the dollar imposes pressure on the Egyptian pound, which has been sliding in value for nearly eight years. Recent increases in the dollar rate signal fresh danger amid escalating tensions between Iran and Israel, adding further strain to Egypt’s currency. Economists anticipate further depreciation of the pound against major currencies and say that rising demand for dollars, coupled with delayed dollar inflows, underscores the urgent need for proactive measures to stabilize Egypt’s economy.

  1. Paris Conference: Over €2 Billion Pledged for Sudan

International leaders gathered in Paris Monday pledged humanitarian aid exceeding €2 billion to support civilians in conflict-stricken Sudan. French President Emmanuel Macron announced the commitment. Despite ambitious pledges, the total falls short of the €3.8 billion the UN estimates is needed. The conference aimed to address the dire humanitarian crisis and find pathways to peace, urging coordinated global efforts to alleviate Sudan’s suffering.

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★ TURKIYE

  1. Turkey and South Korea Forge $10 Billion Partnership, Details of Altay Tank Revealed

Turkey and South Korea’s trade volume surpasses $10 billion, with Korean firms investing $3.8 billion in Turkey, including the integration of two ALTAY Tanks. Bilateral trade reached $10.5 billion in 2023, with Turkey importing electronics, automotive parts, and cosmetics while exporting mainly electronic devices and motor vehicles. South Korean companies are prominent investors in Turkey’s automotive, energy, and construction sectors, with defense cooperation also expanding. The ALTAY Tank, featuring a Korean power unit, marks a milestone in defense collaboration. Both nations aim to strengthen military ties and enhance technology transfer for mutual benefit.

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