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No Israeli Retaliation Until After Passover

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TOP HEADLINES:

  • On Biden’s Advice, Israel Will Delay Retaliation Until After Passover
  • G7 Ministers Agree to Impose New Sanctions on Iran Following Attack on Israel
  • Iran Says it Informed the U.S. Before and After Strikes on Israel
  • After Criticism, Qatar Reassesses Its Mediator Role Between Israel and Hamas
  • Hezbollah Strikes Northern Israel, Wounding 14 Soldiers

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★ ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. On Biden’s Advice, Israel Will Delay Retaliation Until After Passover

Israeli officials confirmed to Axios that despite considering a retaliatory strike against Iran for recent attacks, they have decided to postpone action until after the Passover holiday, following advice from the Biden administration to exercise caution. The exact scale and timing of the potential Israeli strike remain uncertain. American officials expect Israel to keep them informed about any further decisions. This development coincides with U.S. warnings against escalating tensions in the Middle East.

  1. EU Leaders Support New Sanctions on Iran Following Attacks

In response to Iran’s recent missile and drone attack on Israel, EU leaders have agreed to impose enhanced sanctions targeting Iranian companies involved in the manufacture of drones and missiles. The decision was made during a summit in Brussels, marking the first gathering of EU’s 27 national leaders since the attack. The EU will consider additional sanctions against suppliers of arms linked to attacks on Israel and maritime assaults in the Red Sea. The EU aims to prevent further escalation while maintaining pressure on Iran for various infringements, including human rights abuses and proliferation activities.

  1. Report:  U.S. May Support Israel’s Rafah Operation in Exchange for No Major Iran Strike

The United States has reportedly agreed to support Israel’s military operation in Rafah, Gaza, provided Israel refrains from launching a major strike on Iran. This agreement follows U.S. President Joe Biden’s insistence that Israel limit its military actions, encouraging focus on high-value targets and border security instead. Reports from unnamed Egyptian officials and Israeli broadcaster Kan indicate that Biden’s influence led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to retract a planned response to Iran’s recent drone and missile attack. This development comes as Israel prepares for a targeted operation in Rafah after reducing its troop presence in Gaza.

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★ IRAN

  1. Iran Says it Informed the U.S. Before and After Strikes on Israel

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian disclosed that the U.S. was notified prior to and following Tehran’s operation targeting Israeli sites in retaliation for attacks on its embassy in Syria. In New York for a UN Security Council meeting, Amirabdollahian said the strikes were a legal response to Israeli aggressions and aimed to avoid further regional escalation. He said that U.S. interests wouldn’t be targeted unless America supported Israeli military actions, communicating through Switzerland to clarify Iran’s stance.

  1. Iran Warns G7 Against Supporting Israel’s Actions

Ahead of a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting on Middle East issues, Iran’s Embassy in Rome issued a stern warning against Western support for Israeli actions, arguing it might provoke further regional and global instability. The embassy criticized recent decisions by Western nations that could embolden Israeli aggression, urging the G7, under Italian leadership, to uphold international law and encourage responsible behavior. 

  1. G7 Ministers Agree to Impose New Sanctions on Iran Following Attack on Israel

Following Iran’s severe assault on Israel, G7 finance ministers, convening at the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., unanimously condemned the action and committed to introducing new sanctions against Tehran. These measures aim to hinder Iran’s weapon capabilities and address regional destabilization efforts. The group emphasized the importance of preventing any further regional conflict, particularly the threat to international maritime routes. This stance aligns with the European Union’s additional sanctions targeting Iran’s missile and drone capabilities in response to the attack.

  1. Iranian Regime Uses “State of War” to Suppress Domestic Dissent

Observers suggest that Iran’s declared “state of war” with Israel is being exploited to intensify domestic repression, notably through stringent enforcement of the hijab. This crackdown is viewed as a strategy to divert attention from Iran’s military actions against Israel and to suppress potential domestic unrest. Notably, the morality police have escalated actions against women, and the Iranian government has tightened controls on media and online expression, particularly regarding criticism of its foreign policy or military strategies.

  1. Iranian Spy Ship “Behshad” Potentially Targeted in Upcoming Israeli Response

The Iranian vessel “Behshad,” described as an intelligence and logistics ship, is navigating the Red Sea towards Bandar Abbas port. Recently active near Yemen’s coast, “Behshad” might be a focus in Israel’s retaliatory strategies following Tehran’s missile strikes on Tel Aviv. Previously targeted by a U.S. cyberattack for allegedly aiding Houthi rebels, the ship resumed operations shortly after an Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Damascus killed seven IRGC members. Iran braces for possible Israeli actions against its territory and regional proxies.

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★ IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Prime Minister Rejects Pressure for U.S. Troop Withdrawal

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said that the U.S. forces in Iraq serve in an advisory, non-combat role and said he opposes their withdrawal. In discussions with U.S. administration officials, al-Sudani clarified that there are no combat troops in Iraq to withdraw. He emphasized the transition from the international coalition’s mission to a bilateral relationship with the coalition countries, led by the United States. Al-Sudani highlighted Iraq’s progress since 2014 and the ongoing dialogue with the U.S. to eventually end the coalition’s operation and strengthen bilateral ties.

  1. Iraq Signs 18 MoUs with American Companies to Enhance Bilateral Ties

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani announced the signing of 18 memorandums of understanding with U.S. companies during meetings in Washington. These agreements, aimed at bolstering various sectors including energy and technology, grew out of discussions held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These initiatives are part of Iraq’s broader strategy to stimulate economic development and support American corporate activity in the region.

  1. Erdogan to Visit Iraq for the First Time Since 2011

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to make an official visit to Iraq on Monday, marking his first trip there since 2011. During this visit, significant discussions, including a potential strategic agreement between Baghdad and Ankara, will take place. Water resource management and energy cooperation, including oil and natural gas flows to Turkey, are set to be key topics. This visit follows recent preparatory meetings between defense and foreign affairs leaders from both countries, underscoring the importance of these bilateral talks.

  1. Kurdish Leader Qubad Talabani Warns Oil Has Become a Curse for Iraq

Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, emphasized the unstable and unbalanced nature of Iraq’s economy due to its heavy reliance on oil, which he termed a “curse” for the people. Speaking at the Sulaimani Forum, Talabani advocated for a shift towards a diversified economic foundation and stressed the need for experienced individuals to drive this change. He underscored the importance of developing the private and banking sectors to achieve a stable economy independent of oil revenues, highlighting the critical role of youth and technological advancements in this transformation.

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★ SYRIA

  1. Coalition Forces Deploy Advanced Air Defense Systems in Eastern Syria

The international coalition reportedly has bolstered its military presence in eastern Syria by deploying advanced air defense systems at the Omar oil field base, the largest coalition base in Deir al-Zor. This enhancement comes as part of ongoing efforts to secure bases against potential attacks, particularly from Iranian-backed militias. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the arrival of military cargo planes carrying these systems and an additional convoy of 40 trucks carrying weapons and logistical equipment entering the region from Iraqi Kurdistan.

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★ LEBANON

  1. Hezbollah Confirms Two Members Killed in Israeli Strikes

Hezbollah announced the death of two of its fighters in Israeli airstrikes targeting southern Lebanese towns, following a Hezbollah attack on an Israeli military site that wounded 18 soldiers. The strikes involved over 100 artillery and phosphorous shells. Hezbollah’s health body confirmed the deaths occurred in Kafarkila, a border village. The Lebanese National News Agency reported that Israeli forces targeted the Marjayoun district, particularly the towns of Khiam and Kafarkila, with airstrikes and heavy shelling, accusing Israel of using phosphorous bombs.

  1. Lebanese Army Commander Visits France for Military Support Talks

Lebanese Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, has traveled to France at the invitation of the French Chief of Defense, General Thierry Burkhard to discuss ways to support the Lebanese military, enabling it to continue its operations during the current exceptional period, as announced by the Lebanese army on the “X” platform.

  1. Hezbollah Strikes Northern Israel, Wounding 14 Soldiers

Hezbollah launched rockets and drones at a military facility in northern Israel, wounding 14 soldiers in retaliation for recent killings of its members by Israeli forces. The Israeli military, which reported six soldiers critically injured, retaliated by targeting the launch sites in Lebanon. This escalation follows months of heightened tension between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, paralleling the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Recent Israeli airstrikes targeted Hezbollah infrastructure beyond southern Lebanon, raising fears of further escalation.

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★ GULF REGION

  1. Qatar Reassesses Its Mediator Role Between Israel and Hamas

Qatar is reevaluating its mediation role between Israel and Hamas, as stated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. This decision follows concerns that the mediation has been misused for narrow political gains. Qatar remains committed to its humanitarian stance but recognizes limits to its influence in these negotiations. The reassessment comes after critical remarks from U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer urging Qatar to pressure Hamas regarding hostage releases and ceasefires, and Turkish accusations against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of escalating regional tensions for political survival.

  1. Saudi Arabia’s NEOM Will Borrow $1.3 Billion for Future Projects

Saudi Arabia’s NEOM has arranged to issue its first-ever Riyal-denominated debt securities later this year, aiming to enhance funding for its ambitious $1.5 trillion futuristic city projects. According to Bloomberg sources, NEOM has engaged banks including HSBC Holdings and units of Al Rajhi Bank and the National Commercial Bank for advice on the potential Sukuk offering, which could total up to 5 billion Riyal ($1.3 billion). The decision on the timing and size of the issuance will depend on market conditions, with a possible launch in the second half of 2024.

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★ EGYPT AND NORTH AFRICA

  1. Egypt Expects $1 Billion from World Bank to Support Budget

Egypt anticipates receiving about $1 billion from the World Bank to support its budget in early H2 2024, as per Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation. The funding is part of a $6 billion aid plan over three years aimed at bolstering both public and private sectors. Al-Mashat, who also serves as Egypt’s Governor at the World Bank, revealed that this includes $500 million annually designated for budget support under the “Development Policy Support” program, with an additional $200 million specifically aimed at enhancing social safety nets under the “Takaful and Karama” initiative.

  1. Egypt to Receive $20 Billion from Ras al-Hikma Project

Egypt will receive approximately $20 billion from the Ras Al-Hikma project and anticipates funds from the World Bank, the EU, and the IMF totaling nearly $2 billion by the end of June, according to Finance Minister Mohamed Maait. Concurrently, Egypt is preparing to launch a $1.1 billion program for implementing its state ownership policy, aiming to optimize the management and privatization of state assets.

  1. Egypt Readies for Potential Rafah Invasion Scenario

Egyptian sources report full readiness along the 14-kilometer Gaza border in anticipation of a possible Israeli incursion into Rafah, labeled as Hamas’s last stronghold by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. This heightened alert, initiated since last Monday, aligns with preparations for a military operation in southern Gaza, prompting Egypt to enhance its border forces and coordination for potential humanitarian impacts.

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★ TURKIYE

  1. EU Sends Positive Signals to Turkey; Three Nations Urge Concrete Offers

Following a prolonged pause in relations, the European Union has extended a warm gesture towards Turkey. During discussions at the EU summit in Brussels, prompted by a report from EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, Germany, Italy, and Spain called for the EU to offer tangible proposals to enhance cooperation with Turkey, emphasizing the significance of resolving the situation in Cyprus as part of the peace process under UN guidance.

  1. Turkish Foreign Minister Accuses Netanyahu of Destabilizing the Region

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan accused Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of escalating regional tensions to maintain power. Speaking in Doha alongside Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Fidan criticized the involvement of external parties in regional conflicts. He emphasized the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza and advocated for a two-state solution to ensure peace. The ministers also discussed strengthening bilateral trade and economic cooperation, targeting a $5 billion trade volume, and deepening ties in tourism and energy sectors.

  1. Turkey Announces $10.2 Billion in New Defense Export Contracts

Turkey’s defense exports continue to surge with new contracts worth $10.2 billion, according to the President of Defense Industries, Ismail Demir. During the Defense and Aerospace Industry Cooperation Days, Demir highlighted that Turkey’s defense exports reached $5.5 billion last year and are expected to grow further. Additionally, Turkey attracted $240 million in foreign direct investments in February, led by capital inflows and real estate sales to foreign nationals.

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📌 Incase you missed it,

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX  April 17 , 2024

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX  April 16 , 2024
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