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Egypt, UAE, and Palestinian Authority Raise Diplomatic Pressure on Israel

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TOP HEADLINES:

  • PA Says it Won’t Take Control of Rafah Crossing Unless Israel Withdraws from Gaza
  • UAE Says it Won’t Accept Role in Postwar Gaza Governance
  • Egypt Joins South Africa in ICJ Case Against Israel
  • Tehran Says it Will Build New Nuclear Reactor in Shiraz
  • Kuwait’s Emir Dissolves Parliament, Suspends Constitution Articles for Up to Four Years

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★ ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. US Pushes for PA Control of Rafah Crossing; PA Refuses Conditions

A report by Sky News reveals that the United States is urging Israel to transfer control of the Rafah crossing to the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has declined, citing the need for complete Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza and adherence to the Arab Six-Party peace plan. This plan demands an end to hostilities, Israeli troop withdrawals, and a clear timetable for establishing a Palestinian state. The PA’s refusal underscores its stance against partial governance under Israeli military oversight.

  1. Yahya Sinwar Reportedly in Khan Yunis, Not Rafah

Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in Gaza, is reportedly hiding in tunnels beneath Khan Yunis rather than Rafah, according to American officials and corroborated by Israeli intelligence. Contrary to prior assessments, Sinwar has not been in Rafah and is using Israeli hostages as human shields to prevent Israeli military actions against his location. These developments could affect Israel’s ongoing campaign, including its operation in Rafah.

  1. Blinken Criticizes Israel’s Tactics in Gaza

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued strong criticism regarding Israel’s military strategy in Gaza, highlighting the severe civilian casualties and the failure to eliminate Hamas leadership. In televised interviews, Blinken suggested that Israeli actions might fuel a persistent insurgency and emphasized the necessity for Israeli forces to withdraw from Gaza. He also pointed to the lack of a concrete Israeli plan for Gaza’s future security and governance, expressing concern over potential long-term consequences for regional stability.

  1. UN Says 360,000 Palestinians Have Fled Gaza

According to UNRWA, the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza has forced approximately 360,000 Palestinians to flee Rafah following evacuation orders. The attacks, which began after a cross-border incident by Hamas on October 7, have escalated, causing widespread displacement and destruction across the Gaza Strip. 85% of Gaza’s population is now internally displaced.

  1. UN Reduces Gaza War Casualty Estimates

The United Nations has revised its casualty estimates for the Gaza war, significantly reducing the previously reported numbers of women and children killed. Initially reported at over 24,000 total casualties, including 9,500 women and 14,500 children, the revised figures now list 4,959 women and 7,797 children among the 34,844 total deaths. The UN acknowledges that these figures, sourced from both Gaza and Israeli authorities, have not been independently verified, highlighting ongoing concerns about the reliability of the reported data.

  1. Gaza Officials Warn Health System ‘Hours From Collapse’ Due to Fuel Shortage

The health ministry in Gaza said Monday that the besieged Palestinian territory’s health system is “hours away” from collapse, after fighting has blocked fuel shipments through key crossings. “We are just hours away from the collapse of the health system in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of the necessary fuel to operate generators in hospitals, ambulances, and [for vehicles to] transport staff,” the ministry said in a statement.

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★ IRAN

  1. Tehran Says it Will Build New Nuclear Reactor in Shiraz, and May Change its Nuclear Policy

Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, announced that Shiraz will be the site for a new nuclear reactor, which Eslami claimed will enhance nuclear science capabilities. Eslami’s announcement followed the first International Conference on Nuclear Sciences and Techniques in Isfahan, attended by representatives from 22 countries. Meanwhile, Kamal Kharrazi, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, reiterated Iran might reconsider its nuclear policy if threatened by Israel. He noted that while a fatwa currently prohibits nuclear arms, such policies could be adjusted under extreme threat. Kharrazi also criticized Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

  1. Turmoil in Iran as Ultra-Hardliner Political Rivalries Erupt

Rivalries among Iranian hardliners have escalated into public accusations of fraud and money laundering against politician Ali-Akbar Raefipour, affecting the results of Tehran’s parliamentary run-off elections. After gaining control in 2020, the hardliners’ internal disputes surfaced with accusations brought by Jalil Mohebi against Raefipour just before the elections. This resulted in all three candidates associated with Raefipour failing to secure seats. The voter turnout in Tehran was exceptionally low at 92% abstention, indicating widespread disinterest or disillusionment with the electoral process.

  1. Rouhani Criticizes Iranian Regime’s Stance on Nuclear Deal

Iran’s former president, Hassan Rouhani, criticized the current government’s handling of the nuclear deal with world powers, blaming the parliament and the Guardian Council for undermining efforts to revive the JCPOA during his tenure. Rouhani said President Raisi’s administration lacks both the capability to withdraw from the deal and the determination to rejuvenate it, indicating a stalemate in Iran’s nuclear policy.

  1. Iranian Newspaper Accuses Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan of Restricting Iran’s Water

An Iranian newspaper, Sazandaghi, has accused Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan of conspiring to restrict Iran’s water supplies. The report highlights coordinated regional efforts, including new dam constructions by the Taliban on the Hirmand River and Turkey’s large-scale dam projects in Anatolia, which threaten Iran’s water access. These actions are described as part of a broader strategy to control regional water resources, significantly impacting Iran’s water availability, particularly affecting the Dosti Dam which is crucial for Mashhad’s water supply. The paper criticizes the lack of collaborative regional water management and Iran’s diplomatic position on the issue.

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★ IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Parliament Will Meet 18 May to Elect New Speaker

On Monday the Presidency of the Iraqi Council of Representatives set the date for the session to elect the Speaker of Parliament. According to its Media Department, “The Presidency of the Council decided to hold its session next Saturday, corresponding to the 18th of May, to elect the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

  1. Muqtada al-Sadr Poised to Re-enter Iraqi Politics

Muqtada al-Sadr, the influential Iraqi Shiite cleric, is reportedly preparing for a political comeback, potentially altering alliances within Iraq’s Shiite factions. Despite past failures to form a government excluding his Shiite rivals, al-Sadr’s persistent critique of corruption and mismanagement among Shiite forces has maintained his popularity. His return is viewed with mixed reactions; while it may not dramatically shift the balance of power due to the entrenched nature of existing armed groups, it could recalibrate internal dynamics within the pro-Iran coordination framework. This strategic move is seen as a significant step ahead of the 2025 parliamentary elections.

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★ YEMEN

  1. Houthi Attacks Impact 10,000 Yemeni Fishermen

Washington reports that Houthi maritime attacks in the Red Sea have severely harmed the livelihoods of approximately 10,000 Yemeni fishermen. The escalation of these incidents, particularly in Hodeidah, has forced many fishermen to relocate or face starvation. These developments coincided with a significant rise in fuel prices, further exacerbating the hardships faced by Yemenis.

  1. Red Cross Visits Crew of Ship Held by Houthis

The International Committee of the Red Cross has visited the crew of the “Galaxy Leader,” an Israeli ship detained by the Houthi group in Yemen’s Hodeidah Governorate. The 25-member crew reported being in good condition and treated humanely, according to Houthi-controlled Saba News Agency. The visit aimed to assess the crew’s welfare and ensure they maintain contact with their families. The ship was seized by the Houthis in November as part of their campaign against Israeli-linked vessels in the Red Sea.

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★ SYRIA

  1. Assad Appoints New Governors for Restive Southern Provinces

President Bashar al-Assad named two security officers as new governors for Suwayda and the Damascus countryside. The appointments include Major General Akram Ali Muhammad for Suwayda and Ahmed Ibrahim Khalil for the Damascus countryside. The new governors, both with military backgrounds, will be administering two provinces that have been in significant turmoil as tensions and clashes between locals and Assad regime forces have escalated in recent months.

  1. Syrian Regime Policies Responsible for Syrian Pound Collapse

Economist George Khazam attributes the Syrian pound’s collapse to soaring fuel prices, escalating production costs, and governmental fiscal strategies. Khazam says the Assad regime’s misguided focus on tax hikes to bolster salaries has exacerbated the economic downturn. This policy inflates prices, stifles industries, and weakens the currency. He advocates for prioritizing export-led growth to counterbalance imports and stabilize prices. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime’s recent fuel price hike aggravates economic strains, further eroding purchasing power.

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LEBANON

  1. Hezbollah Conducts Drone and Missile Attacks on Israeli Military Sites

Hezbollah reported launching a drone strike on the 403rd Reserve Artillery Battalion of the Israeli military at 06:20 AM on Monday, targeting officers and soldiers’ quarters south of Beit Hillal, resulting in casualties. A subsequent missile attack at 10:35 AM struck a Merkava tank emerging from Yiftah Barracks, reportedly destroying the tank and impacting its crew. These attacks indicate significant escalations in hostilities, with direct hits claimed on both personnel and military hardware.

  1. Maronite Patriarch Accuses Europe of Using Syrian Refugees for Political Leverage

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai accused European nations of using Syrian refugees in Lebanon as leverage to achieve their political objectives, complicating their return to Syria. During a Sunday mass, he criticized the linkage between political issues and refugee repatriation, highlighting the severe burden the refugees place on Lebanon. Al-Rai’s comments reflect broader concerns among Lebanese leaders and analysts regarding the exploitation of the refugee crisis, amid claims of European pressures to retain refugees in Lebanon for strategic purposes rather than facilitating their safe return post-conflict.

  1. Lebanon Planning to Transfer Syrian Detainees to Assad Regime

Lebanon is developing a plan to potentially transfer Syrian detainees back to Syria, despite current treaties prohibiting such actions without the detainees’ consent and certain legal conditions being met. Major General Elias al-Baissari, head of Lebanese security, revealed the plan, which involves coordination with various Lebanese judicial authorities and requires discussions with Syrian officials. The plan aims to handle detainees involved in non-terrorism offenses, as those convicted of terrorism must serve their full sentences in Lebanon. The process includes negotiating treaty amendments to allow these extraditions.

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★ GULF REGION

  1. Kuwait’s Emir Dissolves Parliament, Suspends Constitution Articles for Up to Four Years

Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, announced the dissolution of the National Assembly and a temporary suspension of certain constitutional articles. Declaring this move necessary to prevent extremist parties from gaining control of the parliament and threatening Kuwait’s stability, the Emir highlighted that this suspension would not exceed four years, during which all democratic processes are to be reviewed.

  1. UAE Says it Won’t Accept Role in Postwar Gaza Governance

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan firmly denied speculation that the UAE would engage in managing Gaza’s civil administration after the Gaza war. This statement came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at UAE involvement during an interview. The UAE’s clear refusal underscores the Gulf states’ insistence on a roadmap for Palestinian control of Gaza and a two-state solution.

  1. Emirates Group Reports Record $5.1 Billion Annual Profit

The Emirates Group announced a substantial annual profit of 18.7 billion dirhams ($5.1 billion) for the fiscal year 2023-2024, marking a significant increase of 71 percent from the previous year. Headquartered in Dubai, the company’s revenue surged to 137.3 billion dirhams ($37.4 billion), driven by robust global demand for its premium services and expanded operations. The profit represents the highest in the company’s history, surpassing even pre-pandemic levels, with a notable increase in cash balances to 47.1 billion dirhams ($12.8 billion).

  1. Saudi Arabia’s “Giga Projects” Valued at $880 Billion

At the “Saudi Giga Projects 2024” summit, Ed James of Med Global Data highlighted that Saudi Arabia’s major projects like NEOM, Roshen, and Qiddiya are pivotal to the Kingdom’s economic transformation. These projects, which foster technological advancement and cultural enrichment, are valued at $880 billion. The summit in Riyadh brought together key regional stakeholders to discuss the immense opportunities these initiatives offer for business and investment, underscoring their role in shaping future sustainable and technologically advanced communities.

  1. Kuwait Conference Pledges $2 Billion to Support Gaza

A conference in Kuwait concluded with the announcement of the “Sanad” initiative, pledging over $2 billion to aid the Gaza Strip’s humanitarian and early recovery needs for 2024-2025. This initiative was unveiled at the ninth Humanitarian Conference for Effective Partnership, focusing on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza following recent escalations, including a ground operation in Rafah. The conference highlighted the urgent need for global humanitarian intervention and called on UN agencies and organizations to plan a sustained relief effort for Gaza, currently facing severe restrictions on essential supplies due to closed crossings.

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★ EGYPT AND NORTH AFRICA

  1. Egypt Joins South Africa in ICJ Case Against Israel

Egypt has announced its intention to join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This move is part of efforts to halt Israel’s military operations in Rafah, Gaza, which Egypt claims include deliberate targeting of civilians and destruction of infrastructure, leading to a humanitarian crisis. South Africa has urged the ICJ to demand Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and stop its military actions, which they argue could destroy Rafah and severely impact Palestinian life in the area. The ICJ is currently assessing whether Israel’s actions in Gaza constitute genocide under international law.

  1. Egyptian Army Cancels Meetings with Israel

Egyptian military officials abruptly canceled scheduled meetings with Israeli counterparts amid tensions in eastern Rafah and the Israeli army’s control of the Rafah crossing. This diplomatic strain intensified after Egypt publicly supported a genocide lawsuit filed by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice, relating to actions in Gaza. Egypt cited Israeli aggression towards Palestinian civilians as a basis for its stance. Additionally, Egypt took symbolic actions like closing the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid, reflecting heightened diplomatic repercussions and signaling a serious rift in the historically cooperative relationship between Egypt and Israel.

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★ TURKIYE

  1. Turkish Intelligence Eliminates Senior PKK Leader in Iraq

The Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) successfully targeted Sedat Aksu, a high-ranking member of the PKK, in northern Iraq. Known by the code name “Şevger Çiya,” Aksu was responsible for coordinating significant attacks against Turkish forces and managing the group’s armaments. His death, initially concealed by the PKK due to his prominent role, was a significant strike against the organization, which continues to operate from northern Iraq despite Turkish efforts to dismantle their bases and curb their activities in the region.

  1. Turkey Unveils Plan to Trim Public Spending

Turkey revealed a strategy to streamline public spending, focusing on fiscal discipline and efficient investments. Measures include halting car purchases for institutions and curbing new facility construction. Finance Minister Simsek emphasized the need for economic stability amid inflation concerns. Structural reforms and reduced sectoral spending are key components. Fiscal discipline is part of the plan to ensure stability, cover earthquake recovery costs, and drive green and digital transformations.

  1. Greek Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Visit to Turkey

Greek Prime Hanister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is visiting Turkey to engage in talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, aiming to sustain the recent positive developments in their bilateral relations. Despite ongoing disputes over maritime borders, energy resources, airspace, and the Cyprus issue, the two NATO members have made significant strides towards reconciliation, particularly following recent elections that reaffirmed the leadership in both countries. Discussions will cover technology, tourism, economic ties, anti-terrorism efforts, and immigration, with plans to establish a joint business council to enhance cooperation between Greek and Turkish businesses. Mitsotakis’s visit marks his first to Ankara in five years.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX  May 10, 2024

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