From Shock to Silence: Trump’s Legal Battle – MENA Countries Respond

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  • Israel and Arab Media React to Trump’s Indictment: A Regional Perspective
  • Ali Larijani Enters Iran Presidential Race
  • Houthi Leader Threatens Saudi Arabia with “Total Destruction” and Blockade
  • Israeli Spy Devices Found in Solar Energy Systems in Syria
  • SIX Million Captagon Pills Found Hidden in Truck Tires at Saudi Batha Port



  1. IDF Concludes Major Operation in Jabalia, Continues Offensive in Rafah

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) concluded their second incursion into Jabalia, northern Gaza, after a three-week operation targeting Hamas fighters. The IDF reported significant achievements, including the destruction of 12 kilometers of Hamas tunnels, the deaths of 300-500 militants, and the recovery of seven Israeli hostages’ bodies. Over the past few weeks, the IDF recovered multiple bodies from Hamas terror tunnels throughout the Strip. Seven hostages were rescued in joint operations by the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) from the now-destroyed tunnel, including Shani Louk, Amit Buskila, Ron Benjamin, Yitzchak Gelernter, Hanan Yablonka, Michel Nisenbaum, and Orion Hernandez. The IDF confirmed that all of them had been killed on October 7, and their bodies had been abducted by Hamas. The operation, which involved over 200 airstrikes, saw intense fighting with numerous attacks on IDF forces using anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. Two IDF soldiers, Sgt. First Class Adar Gavriel and Sgt. Yehonatan Elias, were killed during the operation. Following the completion of the mission, the IDF withdrew its forces from Jabalia, allowing the resumption of civilian activities in areas previously occupied. Palestinian sources reported the exhumation of dozens of bodies from the Jabalia cemetery after the withdrawal. Footage showed Palestinians returning to their homes being targeted by Israeli forces using quadcopters. 

  1. Israel and Arab Media React to Trump’s Indictment: A Regional Perspective

The indictment of former U.S. President Donald Trump has elicited varied responses from media outlets in Israel and the Arab world. Israeli media, including The Jerusalem Post, have expressed concerns about political stability and potential impacts on U.S.-Israel relations, with some commentators criticizing the indictment as politically motivated. In contrast, Arab media, such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, have focused on the legal and political implications within the U.S., framing it as a significant test of American democracy. These differing perspectives underscore the regional interests in the outcome of Trump’s legal battles. Additionally, the Kremlin commented on Friday, stating that Trump’s guilty verdict demonstrates that both legal and illegal means are being used in the United States to eliminate political rivals.

  1. Israeli Official Rejects Hamas Cease-Fire Demand, Insists on Hostage Deal

During negotiations for a hostage release deal, a senior member of the Israeli negotiation team declares that Israel will not agree to a cease-fire in Gaza without progress on the hostage issue. Hamas’s demand for a halt in fighting before entering talks is rebuffed by Israel, with officials emphasizing that any cessation of hostilities must be part of a negotiated deal. Despite Hamas’s negative response to Israeli proposals, negotiations continue, albeit with skepticism from Jerusalem. The impasse underscores the complex dynamics surrounding the conflict and the challenge of balancing military objectives with diplomatic efforts towards resolving the crisis.

  1. Hamas’s Long-Range Rocket Supply Dwindles After IDF Operations

The Israel Defense Forces estimate that Hamas possesses only a limited number of long-range rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and central Israel, numbering in the tens. This marks a significant reduction from the thousands of rockets the terror group had at the start of the conflict, with its overall arsenal now reduced to hundreds after nearly eight months of fighting. IDF operations have targeted rocket launchers and weapons production facilities in Gaza, impeding Hamas’s ability to replenish its supply. Despite the diminished arsenal, Hamas recently fired an eight-rocket barrage at Tel Aviv and the central region, underscoring its ongoing threat to major population centers in Israel.

  1. Hamas’s Secret Tunnel Network Uncovered Despite Egyptian Oversight

Military operations by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have revealed a network of tunnels, primarily crossing into Egyptian territory, used by Hamas for smuggling arms and weapon production materials. Despite past efforts by Egypt to clear the area, Hamas managed to construct these tunnels, allegedly with materials smuggled from Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Criticism arises as the IDF shares tunnel information with Egypt, highlighting the need for improved cooperation and preventive measures. While joint efforts between the IDF and Egyptian army exist, questions remain regarding Egypt’s oversight and commitment to combating tunnel activity in the Sinai. Ongoing operations aim to map and dismantle these tunnels, emphasizing the ongoing challenge posed by Hamas’s clandestine infrastructure.

  1. Former MK Explains Delay in Northern Conflict During Gaza Crisis

Former Knesset member Haim Ramon addresses the tensions on Israel’s northern border and the prospect of war with Lebanon, emphasizing a strategy of prioritizing the Gaza conflict before engaging in full-scale warfare in the North. Ramon advocates for a decisive and total approach against Hezbollah in Lebanon, contrasting it with the prolonged Second Lebanon War. He criticizes the government’s failure to achieve its goals in Gaza and suggests that to dismantle Hamas, military occupation of the Gaza Strip may be necessary. Ramon attributes the political and military setbacks to governmental indecision and calls for resignations if necessary to restore public trust.



  1. Ali Larijani Enters Iran Presidential Race

Iranian politician Ali Larijani officially joined the presidential race on Friday after registering his candidacy. The 14th round of Iran’s presidential election began at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Tehran on Thursday. Larijani, a prominent figure with a rich political history, sparked enthusiasm among supporters. Key roles he has held include minister of culture, head of state broadcasting, member of the Expediency Council, and parliament speaker. Former chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili also registered to run. The election campaign runs from June 12-26, with the election on June 28.

  1. Iran Allegedly Uses Criminal Gangs in Sweden to Target Israeli Interests

Iran is reportedly using criminal gangs in Sweden, such as Foxtrot and Rumba, to target Israeli and Jewish interests, according to intelligence agencies. Mossad and European counterparts began investigating after a grenade was found at the Israeli embassy in Stockholm and a shooting occurred nearby in May. Iran’s strategy includes targeting Iranian dissidents in Sweden, reflecting its broader use of proxy actors for attacks. Meanwhile, Iran’s embassy in Sweden urged local media to reject Zionist claims and focus on crimes in Palestine, accusing Zionist intelligence of fabricating news. These developments have led to calls for Europe to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist entity.

  1. Canada’s Top Court Rejects Seizure of Iran’s Assets

The Supreme Court of Canada denied an appeal by families of victims of Flight PS752, shot down by Iran in 2020, who sought to enforce a $107 million judgment against Tehran. The families aimed to seize Iranian state property and bank assets in Canada for compensation. The Ontario court had previously ruled Iranian assets were protected by diplomatic immunity, a decision upheld on Thursday. The 2021 Ontario Superior Court ruling held Iran responsible for the incident.



  1. US-British Raids Target Houthi Positions in Yemen

The United States and Britain launched strikes on 13 Houthi targets in Yemen, responding to increased attacks by the group in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. American officials confirmed that the raids targeted underground facilities, missile launch pads, command sites, and a Houthi ship. The US Central Command announced the destruction of 8 drones in Houthi-controlled areas. The British Ministry of Defense stated that the joint operation aimed to undermine Houthi military capabilities. Houthi media reported 16 fatalities. In retaliation, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarie announced on Friday that the group launched a missile attack on the US aircraft carrier Eisenhower in the Red Sea, in retaliation for US-British strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen.  However, a US official denied the Eisenhower was targeted.

  1. Houthi Leader Threatens Saudi Arabia with “Total Destruction” and Blockade

Houthi leader Abdul Salam Jahaf escalated threats against Saudi Arabia, promising “total destruction” of Aramco and an “air and sea blockade.” Following warnings from Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi regarding the Yemeni currency, Jahaf emphasized the seriousness of these threats in a blog post. He warned that Saudi Arabia should prepare for attacks on its airports, ports, and ships, suggesting the country will face a siege. Jahaf concluded by asserting that the Yemeni people will not continue to suffer while resources are nearby, referring to Saudi Arabia as a “milk cow.”

  1. Government Agencies Halt Dealings with Houthi-Controlled Banks

Ahmed Ghaleb, Governor of the Central Bank in Aden, announced that government agencies will cease all transactions with banks controlled by the Houthis, including salary disbursements. At a press conference, Ghaleb stated that while banned banks could still serve the public, the Central Bank would guarantee depositors’ funds. He warned of stricter measures and gradual sanctions if these banks continued dealings with the Houthi militia. The Central Bank’s directive has been communicated to all banking authorities and international banks, emphasizing the cessation of relations with institutions under the control of a group designated as terrorist.



  1. SIX Million Captagon Pills Found Hidden in Truck Tires at Saudi Batha Port

In a significant drug bust, the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority at Saudi Arabia’s Batha port thwarted an attempt to smuggle 6,514,674 Captagon pills into the country. The pills were ingeniously hidden within large truck tires, which were part of a shipment entering the Kingdom. Utilizing advanced security techniques and thorough inspections, customs officials discovered the illicit cargo. Following the seizure, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control coordinated efforts to apprehend those involved, leading to the arrest of four individuals within the Kingdom. Authorities have underscored their ongoing commitment to tightening customs controls and preventing the smuggling of illegal substances to safeguard societal and economic well-being.

  1. Kiev and Moscow Exchange 150 Prisoners of War Through Emirati Mediation

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that 75 Ukrainian prisoners of war have returned home from Russia. In the exchange, 75 Russian prisoners were also sent back to Russia . The swap, facilitated by UAE mediation, included four Ukrainian civilians and members of the Armed Forces, National Guard, and Border Guard. Additionally, Ukraine handed over the bodies of 45 Russian soldiers. The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the exchange, highlighting the UAE’s role in brokering the agreement.

  1. Saudi Arabia to Sell $11.9 Billion in Aramco Shares, Completes Stake Acquisition in Pakistan

Saudi Arabia announced plans to sell a second tranche of Aramco shares. The sale includes worth $11.9 billion  about 1.545 billion shares priced between $7.12 and $7.73 each. Institutional investors can start purchasing on Sunday, followed by individual investors on Monday. Aramco, valued at $1.8 trillion, ranks as the world’s sixth-largest company. Additionally, Aramco completed acquiring a 40% stake in Pakistan’s Gas and Oil Company Limited (GO), which operates over 1,200 retail stations, marking its first retail investment in Pakistan and expanding its presence in high-value markets.

  1. Saudi Arabia Eyes European Sixth-Generation FCAS Fighters

Saudi Arabia is renewing its air fleet with sixth-generation fighters, considering the FCAS system. The Saudi Air Force plans to replace aging McDonnell Douglas F-15s and evaluate models like the Boeing, Dassau F-15EX lt Rafale, and Eurofighter, while modernizing 71 Eurofighter jets. At a Royal Aeronautical Society event in London, the Chairman of the Future Capabilities Committee highlighted Saudi Arabia’s ambition to be a key partner in developing a sixth-generation fighter program, set to begin operations in the third decade of this century.

  1. Saudi Arabia Balances Increased Foreign Assets with Budget Deficit Amid Economic Shifts

Saudi Arabia’s economic state presents a complex picture. In April, the Saudi Central Bank’s monthly bulletin reported a 3.3% increase in net foreign assets to approximately 1.589 trillion riyals ($423.40 billion), up from 1.538 trillion riyals the previous year. However, this was a decline from March’s 1.628 trillion riyals ($434.08 billion), despite a significant surge of $22.13 billion that month. Additionally, reserve assets fell to 1.667 trillion riyals in April from 1.707 trillion riyals in March but marked a 3.4% annual increase. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported a budget deficit of $21.6 billion for 2023. Despite a 7.3% rise in revenues and a 16.1% increase in expenditures, the Ministry of Finance noted revenue growth due to higher oil and non-oil revenues and better tax collection. Expenditures grew because of increased social support and investments in economic diversification. Real GDP declined by 0.8% due to a 9% drop in oil activities, while non-oil GDP grew by 4.4%. Inflation rose to 2.3%, and overall unemployment fell to 4.4%, with Saudi unemployment hitting a historic low of 7.7%.

  1. Saudi Foreign Minister’s Key Meetings in Beijing Highlight Regional and International Developments

Regional and international developments were the focus of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan’s meetings in Beijing. He met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss strengthening Saudi-Chinese relations and enhancing bilateral and multilateral coordination. They reviewed current regional and international issues. Prince Faisal also met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr. Fuad Muhammad Hussein. They discussed strengthening Saudi-Iraqi relations  and addressed recent developments in the Gaza Strip and other regional issues.



  1. Israeli Raids Kill Two Hezbollah Members in Southern Lebanon

On Thursday, the Israeli army conducted air raids on towns in southern Lebanon, resulting in the deaths of two Hezbollah members. The strikes targeted military compounds in Houla and Maroun al-Ras, in response to Hezbollah’s shelling of northern Israel. Hezbollah confirmed the deaths of two fighters from Houla. Israeli artillery targeted areas near Al-Wazzani orchards, while Hezbollah retaliated by striking the Baranit barracks and Al-Baghdadi site.

  1. Upcoming Agreement Between Lebanon and Israel to Include Economic and Electricity Package

Senior US advisor Amos Hockstein revealed details of an agreement between Lebanon and Israel aimed at easing their conflict. The staged land border deal seeks to reduce tensions heightened by mutual attacks between Israel and Hezbollah since October. The agreement includes recognized borders, support for Lebanese Armed Forces, and an economic package for Lebanon. Hockstein emphasized improving Lebanon’s electricity grid to provide 12 hours of power daily. He believes stabilizing Lebanon politically and economically could reduce Iran’s influence in the region.



  1. Israeli Spy Devices Found in Solar Energy Systems in Syria

Syrian security services discovered Israeli spy devices hidden in solar energy equipment shipped through Latakia port and the Masnaa border crossing in April. The devices, embedded in inverters made by Chinese companies, intercepted military and security communications. This discovery was made during routine quality checks by the Solar Energy Systems Quality Inspection Committee. The devices were capable of capturing and transmitting communication signals, likely to monitor Iranian activity. This led to a crackdown on importers and distributors linked to the Fourth Division and individuals close to Wassim al-Assad. The devices suggest a new Israeli tactic to gather intelligence in Syria.

  1. Idlib Protests Persist, Demanding Al-Julani’s Removal and Political Reform

In northwestern Syria, media reports documented around 20 protest sites on Friday, May 31, demanding the removal of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) leader Abu Muhammad al-Julani. The protests, spanning Idlib, Binnish, Armanaz, Kafr Takharim, and other towns, called for a representative Council, the dissolution of the Public Security Service, the release of prisoners of conscience, reduced taxes on essentials, and accountability for violations. Concurrently, The Idlib Political Body revealed a new road map for freedom and justice, emphasizing the people’s voice and rights. Key points include protecting peaceful protests, forming a Revolutionary Command Council, ensuring judicial, legislative, and executive independence, releasing prisoners of conscience, holding fair elections, and forming a civil administration to reduce tyranny, empower women, and build a free and independent Syria.

  1. Turkiye Abandons Syrian Mercenaries to Russia in Africa

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Turkiye has transferred Syrian National Army members, including leaders, from Turkish barracks in Africa to Russian military barracks. This move has left the mercenaries feeling betrayed and abandoned by Turkiye, who they claim only protected its own interests. Russia has since involved these groups in conflicts with ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Burkina Faso and Niger. The fighters, misled by Turkiye about their duties, now find themselves on dangerous front lines.

  1. Italy Discusses Lifting Sanctions with Assad to Address Refugee Crisis

Italy is negotiating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to potentially lift sanctions in exchange for easing the refugee crisis. This comes as some European Mediterranean countries seek normalization with Syria. Italian intelligence chief General Gianni Caravelli met with Assad and Syrian intelligence officials on May 28 to discuss realistic approaches to current political and security conditions. Topics included establishing a safe zone in Homs and coordinating with Lebanon and Cyprus to manage refugees. The talks hint at lifting some sanctions if humanitarian guarantees are met, amidst ongoing communication with the US and European countries.



  1. Potential Political Deal to Resolve Iraqi Parliament Presidency Crisis

Political analyst Qasim Al-Tamimi predicts that the crisis over the Iraqi parliament presidency will be resolved through a political deal among Sunni factions, possibly involving political funding. The Taqaddum Alliance, Sovereignty Alliance, and Azm Alliance are expected to reach a consensus. The Taqaddum Alliance, led by Muhammad al-Halbousi, insists on retaining the parliamentary presidency, asserting it as their right. Al-Tamimi emphasizes the need for a democratic election by parliament members. Recently, a fist fight erupted among MPs, and no candidate secured the majority vote, prolonging the crisis.

  1. Al-Araji: Implement Iranian Directives for Regional Support

Iraqi National Security Advisor Qasim Al-Araji stated that the federal government is collaborating with the Kurdistan Regional Government to ensure all regional entitlements are granted per the constitution and laws. After meeting with Kurdistan Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, Al-Araji emphasized the importance of a unified, federal, and independent Iraq. He highlighted Iran’s directives following Nechirvan Barzani’s visit to Tehran. Masrour Barzani’s visit aims to resolve disputes between Baghdad and Erbil and enhance relations. Both parties stressed the need for better coordination to address terrorism and improve overall cooperation.

  1. Court of Cassation: Federal Court Exceeded Powers on Judge’s Retirement

The Federal Court of Cassation ruled that the Federal Court overstepped its constitutional powers by interfering with the legislative authority regarding a judge’s retirement. The Court of Cassation emphasized that no authority can perform the duties of another, rendering the Federal Court’s decision invalid and without legal effect. The ruling underscores that only the Iraqi Council of Representatives has the exclusive power to legislate and amend laws, as stipulated by Article 61/First of the Constitution. The Federal Court’s actions were deemed a violation of jurisdictional rules.

  1. Iraqi Central Bank Boosts Housing Loans by Three Trillion Dinars

On Friday, May 31, 2024, the Central Bank of Iraq announced an increase in housing loan funds by three trillion dinars. The bank urged the Real Estate Bank and the Iraqi Housing Fund to devise a comprehensive housing lending plan. This move aims to support citizens’ housing borrowing needs and align with government directives. The Central Bank also requested the government and Parliament to allocate annual funds in the federal budget to strengthen the capital of these institutions, ensuring they can continue providing housing loans effectively and equitably.

  1. Iraq Executes Eight Convicted Terrorists

Iraqi authorities executed eight individuals convicted of terrorism and ISIS membership, according to security and health sources. The executions took place on Thursday at Al-Hout prison in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar Governorate. All those executed were Iraqi nationals, confirmed a security source. A medical source verified the receipt of the eight bodies.



  1. Cairo Meeting to Address Rafah Crossing Crisis

The U.S., Egypt, and Israel will meet in Cairo next week to discuss reopening the Rafah border crossing, aiming to secure it without Israeli military presence. This follows an agreement between Presidents Biden and Sisi to ensure humanitarian aid delivery through the Kerem Shalom crossing. The U.S. seeks measures to prevent weapons smuggling and the formation of a transitional security force for Gaza, involving Egypt and other Arab nations. However, Egypt denies reaching an agreement with Israel to reopen Rafah, demanding Israel’s full withdrawal from the Philadelphia axis as per the Camp David Accords. Despite Israeli reports of a preliminary agreement under U.S. pressure, Egypt rejects Israeli military control. Currently, Israel and Egypt have temporarily reopened Rafah for humanitarian aid, with Palestinians managing the crossing to avoid complicity in Israeli operations. President Biden warned Egypt of public criticism if aid access is not resumed.

  1. Potential Uprising in Egypt as Sisi Raises Food Prices

Egyptian politicians and analysts are warning of severe social unrest following President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s decision to raise food prices, particularly bread, which is a staple for the majority of the population. The reduction in subsidies could provoke significant public backlash and jeopardize social stability. Despite comparisons to the 1977 bread riots, some experts believe the current political and social climate may prevent a similar uprising. Nonetheless, the price hike is expected to exacerbate economic hardship, increase crime and divorce rates, and further strain the already struggling populace.



  1. Netanyahu’s Son Targets Turkiye with Controversial Kurdistan Map

Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, sparked controversy by sharing a map depicting a so-called ‘Kurdistan’ that includes Turkish territory. This provocative post follows Israel’s attacks on Gaza, which have resulted in many civilian casualties. Yair, now living luxuriously in Miami, faces backlash for not returning to Israel during mobilization. President Erdoğan recently warned that Israel’s ambitions could extend to Anatolia, reiterating Turkiye’s support for Hamas as a defender of Palestinian and Anatolian interests.

  1. Turkiye Signals New Military Operation in Syria  

President Erdoğan’s remarks during the EFES-2024 Exercise highlighted concerns over the PKK/YPG’s local election efforts in Syria, suggesting a potential new military operation. Emphasizing Turkiye’s firm stance against terrorism, Erdoğan asserted that Turkiye would act to prevent the establishment of a separatist entity in northern Syria and Iraq. This statement, covered widely by international media, underscores Turkiye’s readiness to intervene again to safeguard its and Syria’s territorial integrity.

  1. Turkiye Arrests Secret Witness in Ankara Police Case in Hungary

The Turkish Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of Serdar Sirt Celik, a key witness in the Ankara police case tied to mafia leader Ayhan Bora Kaplan. Celik, who fled Turkiye, was captured in Hungary with a forged passport. His arrest was a joint effort by Turkish intelligence, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Justice. Turkish authorities are now working to extradite him. Celik’s testimony against Kaplan has led to several high-profile arrests in Turkiye, revealing deep corruption and sparking significant political controversy.


📌 In case you missed it,

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX  May 30, 2024

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX  May 29, 2024

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX  May 28, 2024


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