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The Early Phoenix | December 12, 2023

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Top 5 Headlines: 

  • New Phase in Gaza and Ukraine Wars: Hamas Implements “Russian Plan”.
  • Iran’s First Lady Challenges Tradition.
  • Houthis Attack Norwegian Tanker in Red Sea.
  • Turkey Advances Towards Energy Independence with Approval for Akkuyu NGS.
  • Israel Open to Hezbollah Agreement as Imminent Deal Talks Emerge.

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  • ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. October 7 Archive Soon to Launch. The National Library of Israel undertakes a five-year mission, supported by the Heritage Ministry and private partners, to collect and document all materials related to the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war.
  2. Netanyahu Stresses Urgency in Addressing the Iranian Threat. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasizes the continued importance of addressing the Iranian threat amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Netanyahu asserts that dealing with the Iranian regime, particularly its potential nuclear capabilities, is a national priority that cannot be compromised.
  3. Palestinians Stage General Strike in Solidarity with Gaza. Businesses, schools, and government offices in the West Bank and East Jerusalem shut down as Palestinians organize a general strike to protest the war in Gaza. Similar solidarity strikes occurred in Jordan, Lebanon, and Istanbul, though the impact did not extend beyond the Middle East.
  4. Hostages Abused and Drugged in Gaza: Israeli Doctor Reveals Horrific Details. Hostages taken during Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel were subjected to drugging and severe physical, sexual, and psychological abuse in Gaza. The Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center-Ichilov reports on the unprecedented trauma, with some hostages still experiencing dissociative states. Plans for a PTSD treatment center are underway as the mental health toll on Israel’s population is estimated at around five percent, affecting approximately 400,000 people.
  5. Hamas Battalions Near Collapse, Hundreds Surrender: Defense Minister. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declares the imminent collapse of once-“invincible” Hamas battalions in northern Gaza. Over 500 terror suspects, including participants in the October 7 attack, have been arrested in the past month. Gallant encourages surrender, emphasizing the fate of Hamas leaders and the ongoing dismantling of strongholds.
  6. Israeli Security Chief Urges UN: ‘Do Not Interfere’. Shin Bet leader Ronen Bar sends a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, urging non-interference in Israel’s mission in Gaza. Bar highlights Hamas’s disregard for human rights and appeals for support in removing the “rule of evil” from Gaza, emphasizing the need to restore faith in basic human rights and dignity.
  7. Mossad Intensifies Global Operations Amid Gaza Conflict. As the Israel-Hamas war persists, Mossad’s activities surge globally, potentially with record investment. While focused on countering Hamas and Hezbollah, the intelligence agency continues to combat Iranian threats worldwide, with recent successes in thwarting terror plots.
  8. Fitch: Israel-Hamas Conflict Poses Risks in 2024. Fitch Ratings for the Middle East and North Africa in 2024 forecasts continued regional risks from the Israel-Hamas conflict, emphasizing potential escalation threats. Despite global economic challenges, Fitch anticipates robust growth in non-oil GDP for oil-exporting nations in the Middle East and North Africa, citing stability in oil production and strong local economic output.
  9. Israeli Army Acknowledges Possession of White Phosphorus Shells. The Israeli military admits to having smoke shells containing white phosphorus, stating they are for camouflage purposes and not intended for offensive use or igniting fires. The acknowledgment follows U.S. concerns over reports of Israel using American-made white phosphorus shells in attacks in southern Lebanon.
  10. Prospects of a New Prisoner Exchange Deal Between Israel and Palestinian Factions. Talks of a new deal between Hamas and Israel resurface as mediators explore potential terms for a ceasefire and the release of remaining detainees in Gaza. Although no formal proposals have been presented, discussions involve categorizing Israeli captives and defining Palestinian prisoners’ status, indicating a slim hope for a limited truce and additional releases.
  11. Israel Admits Accidental Killings of 13 Soldiers in Gaza. Amid the 67th day of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the Israeli army revealed that dozens of its forces fell victim to “friendly fire.” Of the 105 Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, 20 lost their lives due to friendly fire or other incidents, not by Palestinian militants. Over 10% of Israeli soldiers died from friendly fire, prompting measures to mitigate identification errors and enhance coordination.
  12. Gaza Crisis Deepens: Hunger, Cold, and Bombardment Claim Lives. Humanitarian agencies report worsening hunger among Palestinians in Gaza as the UN General Assembly votes on an immediate ceasefire amid a two-month conflict between Israel and Hamas. Hundreds of civilians killed in Israeli strikes, displacement renders finding shelter and food impossible, and reports of looting aid trucks and soaring prices emerge. Israel argues evacuation orders protect civilians while combating Hamas.
  13. Israel Intensifies Strikes on Southern Gaza, Kills 4 in Jenin Drone Attack. Recent Israeli attacks resulted in 12 casualties in Rafah, including six children, while a drone strike in Jenin, West Bank, killed four Palestinians.
  14. Israeli Warning to Hezbollah: Preventing Escalation. Israeli officials caution Hezbollah to withdraw forces from the Lebanese border, signaling concern to prevent a slide into war. Hezbollah’s arsenal, including precise missiles, poses a significant threat to Israeli territories. The Rizvan force reportedly deploys new weapons, such as the “Volcano” shell, causing notable damage to an Israeli military site. UNIFIL conveys Israel’s warning, declaring movement within three kilometers along the Lebanon border as a legitimate target, prompting Hezbollah to reciprocate within three kilometers of Israeli territory.
  15. New Phase in Gaza and Ukraine Wars: Hamas Implements “Russian Plan”. Ukraine intensifies fortifications in the east to counter Russian advances, adopting a strategy mirroring Russia’s. In Gaza, Hamas employs Russian-style tactics, focusing on tunnels and psychological warfare. Experts highlight Hamas’ success in exhausting Israeli capabilities, leveraging tunnel networks, and adapting to prolong military strain. Meanwhile, Russia benefits from the West’s shifting focus, draining Ukraine’s resources. Losses and challenges in Ukraine impact Western support, revealing Russia’s effective strategy in weakening Ukraine’s military and global backing.

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  • IRAN

  1. Iran-Israel Relations: Foreign Minister Highlights Rare Common Ground. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian asserts a singular point of agreement with Israel during a forum in Doha: both countries reject the two-state solution. Amir-Abdollahian reiterates Iran’s call for a referendum on the “fate of Palestine,” limiting voting to pre-1948 residents’ descendants.
  2. Iran’s First Lady Challenges Tradition. Jamileh-Sadat Alamolhoda, wife of President Ebrahim Raisi, breaks the mold by promoting her views on women’s roles and education. A professor and author, she engages with foreign media, writes to world leaders’ wives, and addresses contentious issues like the hijab law. While critics demand her withdrawal from politics, supporters see her positive influence in a role previously unexplored since the Islamic revolution.
  3. Iran’s Strategic Calculations in Geopolitics. Examining Iran’s involvement in the Hamas attack on Israel, Tehran strategically benefits from disrupting Israel-Saudi Arabia ties, enhancing its role as a Palestinian advocate, and navigating delicate regional relations. While linked to Hamas, Iran demonstrates a nuanced approach, avoiding direct confrontation. Tehran seeks to balance its regional influence amid internal challenges and economic crises, playing a calculated long-term game in the complex Middle East dynamics.
  4. Switzerland Seeks Arrest of Iran’s President for ‘Crimes Against Humanity’. A legal complaint urges Swiss authorities to arrest Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during his expected visit, connecting him to crimes against humanity during a 1988 purge. Raisi’s alleged role in the crackdown on dissidents raises international concerns, leading to a petition against his participation in the U.N. Global Refugee Forum.
  5. Trial Begins for Austrian Accused of Spying on Iran TV in UK. An Austrian national, Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, faces trial in London for alleged spying on an Iranian TV station, Iran International. The prosecution claims he engaged in “hostile reconnaissance” on the channel, which reported on Iranian human rights violations.
  6. EU Sanctions Target Iranians Involved in UAV Production for Russia. The EU imposes sanctions on six individuals and five entities in Iran involved in manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used by Russia in Ukraine. This marks the first application of measures under a new framework aimed at restricting Iran’s military support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, aligning with previous sanctions on Iranian drone-related activities.
  7. Iran Vows to Expel U.S. Aircraft Carriers Amid Regional Tensions. Iranian Navy Commander Shahram Irani declares the imminent expulsion of U.S. aircraft carriers from the region, accusing them of inciting unrest. This follows the recent deployment of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, with Iran rejecting foreign military presence in the area.
  8. Iran Urges Ban on Israeli Goods, Citing Constitutional Provisions. Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf calls for a government-led prohibition on Israeli goods, citing constitutional principles. The move aims to align with Iran’s longstanding opposition to Israel, emphasizing the need to support Palestinians.
  9. Iranian Regime Escalates Propaganda Against MEK Amidst Internal Challenges. Faced with internal turmoil and international criticism during the Gaza crisis, Iran’s regime intensifies efforts to vilify the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK). Propaganda includes a state-produced movie and plans for a dubious trial, revealing the regime’s desperation to divert attention from its domestic crises.

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  • IRAQ

  1. U.S. Warns Iraq After Attacks on American Bases. Rocket and drone attacks targeted U.S. military bases in Iraq and Syria on Monday. Washington urged Baghdad to take more action to halt these assaults, warning of “grave consequences” if not addressed. The attacks were claimed by the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” linked to armed factions opposing U.S. support for Israel.
  2. Drug Traffickers Arrested, Unlicensed Weapons Seized near Mosul. Security forces in Nineveh, Iraq, captured eight individuals involved in drug trafficking and seized an assortment of unlicensed weapons in the town of Badush, west of Mosul.
  3. Iraq Balances Amid US-Iran Clashes, Fears Gaza Fallout. Iraq grapples with increasing clashes between US forces and Iran-backed groups amid the Israel-Hamas war fallout. The US pressures Baghdad to curb attacks on its facilities, emphasizing the delicate balance as Iran wields influence in Iraq, complicating the situation.

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  • SYRIA

  1. French Hill Urges World to Reject Assad Normalization and Support Political Settlement in Syria. Senator French Hill, head of the U.S. congressional group on Syria, advocates for global rejection of normalization with the Syrian regime, emphasizing the need for a political solution and halting drug production in Syria. Hill warns against Assad’s return to international diplomacy and calls for an international plan to achieve political stability, security, and an end to cross-border drug manufacturing in Syria.
  2. ISIS Claims Responsibility for Targeting SDF Vehicle in Deir ez-Zor Countryside. ISIS claimed responsibility for targeting a military vehicle of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in western Deir ez-Zor countryside. The attack involved gunfire, resulting in at least one casualty. Earlier on the same day, an explosive device targeted an SDF military vehicle in the eastern Deir ez-Zor countryside, causing no injuries.
  3. Jordanian Soldier Killed in Armed Clash with Smugglers at Syria Border. The Jordanian army announced the death of one of its members and the injury of another in an armed clash with dozens of smugglers on the northern border with Syria. The engagement occurred during low visibility conditions, with smugglers attempting to transport large quantities of drugs.
  4. Former US Ambassador Reveals Biden Administration’s Commitment to PKK/YPG. Ex-Syrian Ambassador Robert Ford affirms Biden’s administration’s continued support for the PKK/YPG, despite concerns, emphasizing their role as a local partner. Ford also discusses the ongoing challenges in Syria and the shifting focus of the Biden administration.

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  • THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. COP28 Extends as Efforts Continue for Consensus. COP28, led by the UAE presidency, extends into extra time as attempts persist to draft a new climate agreement based on the “red lines” expressed by nations rejecting the initial proposal.
  2. U.S.-Saudi Military Cooperation Talks in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, met with U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall in Riyadh.  efforts and follows the Saudi Defense Minister’s October visit to Washington, emphasizing regional and international issues.
  3. Saudi-Iranian Talks in Riyadh to Review Bilateral Relations. Saudi and Iranian officials held discussions in Riyadh to review bilateral relations. This follows the notable improvement in relations since the announcement of diplomatic normalization in March last year, reaching its peak with a meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in November.
  4. Qatar and France Discuss Military Relations. Qatar and France held military talks in Doha to explore ways to enhance and develop bilateral relations. Discussions covered mutual interests, regional developments, and specifically, the Israeli offensive on Gaza. The strategic cooperation between Doha and Paris includes agreements on defense and security information exchange, as well as collaboration in combating cybercrime.
  5. Houthis Attack Norwegian Tanker in Red Sea. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched an assault on the Norwegian commercial tanker STRINDA in the Red Sea. The group fired a rocket after the crew ignored warnings, aiming to block ships bound for Israeli ports until Gaza receives aid. The attack occurred north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, threatening regional maritime security.
  6. Southern Yemen Separatists Open to Cooperation with Israel Against Houthi Threats. Southern Yemen separatists, led by the head of the Southern Transitional Council, Aidarous Al-Zubaidi, express readiness to cooperate with Israel in the face of Houthi threats. Al-Zubaidi reportedly engages in discussions with local, Emirati, and U.S. officials to address the escalating Houthi-backed unrest.

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  • EGYPT & AFRICA 

  1. Egypt Agrees to Reopen Crossing for Aid Inspection with Israel.  Egypt and Israel reach an agreement to reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing for inspecting humanitarian aid trucks destined for Gaza. The move aims to alleviate pressure on the existing crossing and facilitate the delivery of medical supplies, baby formula, and water to Gaza.
  2. Egypt Faces Impending Border Crisis Amid Gaza-Israel Conflict. Despite Egypt’s official rejection of forced displacement, concerns grow about its ability to resist external pressures. The international community, including the UN and regional figures, warns of a potential collapse in Gaza, increasing the risk of mass migration towards Egypt. The U.S. vetoed a UN resolution for an immediate Gaza ceasefire, adding complexity to Egypt’s role in the escalating crisis.

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  • TURKIYE

  1. Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Denies Israeli Allegations, Expresses Concerns Over UK Bases. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) vehemently denies Israel’s unfounded accusation of Iranian terrorism on its soil. TRNC President Ersin Tatar raises concerns over the UK’s alleged use of bases in the Greek Cypriot side for weapons transfers to Israel. Tatar condemns Israel’s actions and calls for the UK to fulfill its guarantor responsibilities.
  2. UK Threatens Scotland Over Erdogan Meeting. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron threatens to withdraw support for Scottish Cabinet ministers after Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf meets with Turkish President Erdogan. Yousaf, critical of UK’s full support for Israel, faces backlash for discussing Gaza at the COP28 summit.
  3. Türkiye Criticizes Germany Over Eurofighter Disapproval. Türkiye criticizes Germany for denying Ankara’s request to acquire Eurofighter Typhoon jets, seeking alternatives amid F-16 negotiations with the U.S. President Erdoğan emphasizes Türkiye’s options, while the defense minister expresses hope for ally intervention. Additionally, Türkiye anticipates the maiden flight of its domestically-developed fifth-generation fighter jet, Kaan, aiming to replace aging F-16s.
  4. Turkish Forces Eliminate Terror Targets in Northern Iraq. Turkish security forces launch air operations, eliminating 13 terror targets and neutralizing PKK leaders in northern Iraq. Operations aim to prevent cross-border attacks and ensure border security. Targets include caves and bunkers.
  5. Turkey Advances Towards Energy Independence with Approval for Akkuyu NGS. Akkuyu Nuclear JSC announced that it has received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority for the operation of the first reactor of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NGS). This milestone allows the project to enter the crucial phase of commissioning, adjustment, and operation, marking a significant step toward Turkey’s energy self-reliance.
  6. Turkish Defense Minister: Troops to Leave Syria Upon Regime-Opposition Agreement. Turkish Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, asserts Turkey’s commitment to withdraw military presence from Syria once security is restored and the Syrian regime and opposition agree on a new constitution and elections for stability.

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  • LEBANON

  1. Israel Open to Hezbollah Agreement as Imminent Deal Talks Emerge. Israeli Defense Minister expresses openness to a Hezbollah agreement, citing conditions for a “safe zone” and security assurances. Unnamed sources suggest an imminent deal, detailing potential monitoring sites and the role of Lebanese and French forces. The proposed agreement awaits U.S. guarantees, and talks emphasize changing the border situation with Lebanon.


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📌 Incase you missed it,

🌍 The Region December 11, 2023

🌍 Israel

🌍 Iran

🌍 Turkiye

🌍 SYRIA

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX December 8, 2023

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