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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Sept 13, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

  • Syrian Forces Fire on Suwayda Protesters: Eerily Echoing Daraa 2011
  • US Arms Boost Palestinian Authority Amid Escalating Iranian Airforce Threat
  • Hurricane ‘Daniel’ Kills 5,200 in Derna, Libya
  • Türkiye and Iran Hold the 55th Security Committee Meeting
  • US Approves $6 Billion Transfer for Iran in Prisoner Exchange Deal
  • Ongoing Conflict in Northeastern Syria

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. US Provides Armored Vehicles and Weapons to Palestinian Authority for West Bank Security (Sharq al Awsat, Al Monitor, Times Of Israel). The United States has delivered armored vehicles and weaponry to the Palestinian Authority, supported by Israel, aiming to address escalating violence in the West Bank. Concurrently, military sources reveal Iran’s alarming establishment of airports in Lebanon and Syria for Marches. Mossad chief David Barnea’s stark warning to Iran, along with pointed criticism of Russia and the United States, adds further complexity to the Middle East’s volatile landscape.
  2. IDF Introduces ‘Spark’ Drone to Enhance Air Force Capabilities (The Jerusalem Post). The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) unveiled the new “Spark” UAV, part of the “Storm Clouds” UAV array, during a ceremony at the Hatzor Air Force Base. The 144th UAV Squadron received the drone, marking its transition from an Israeli Air Force (IAF) combat squadron with aircraft like “Nesher,” “Kfir,” and “Netz” to operating advanced drones.
  3. Israeli Supreme Court Holds ‘Historic’ Session on Controversial Law (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Israeli Supreme Court is convening to discuss the controversial “removing the reason for reasonableness” law, which limits the court’s power to intervene in government decisions deemed unreasonable. The law was approved by the Israeli Knesset in July as part of a series of “judicial amendments.” Justice Minister Yariv Levin criticized the session, highlighting concerns about its impact on democracy and the Knesset’s authority.
  4. Palestinian Resistance Conducts Military Drills in Gaza during Israeli Threats (Tasnim News). Palestinian resistance factions have launched extensive military exercises in Gaza, named “al-Rukn al-Shadid 4,” in response to threats from the Israeli administration. The drills, involving various units and neighborhoods within Gaza, aim to prepare for potential hostilities and concluded at 11 a.m. local time.
  5. Syrian Engineer in Hezbollah Project Killed by Israel, Defense Tensions Rise (Iran International). A Syrian engineer working on a Hezbollah air force project was killed in an Israeli strike in Damascus. The project, supported by Iran, adds to escalating tensions in the region. Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Galant accused Iran of building an airport in southern Lebanon for anti-Israeli attacks. These developments highlight increasing military and intelligence activities among Syria, Iran, and Israel.

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EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Mediterranean Hurricane ‘Daniel’ Claims 5,200 Lives and Devastates Derna, Libya (Syria TV،  Reuters، Al Jazeera ). Hurricane ‘Daniel’ wreaked havoc in eastern Libyan regions, causing catastrophic environmental damage and over 5,200 casualties. The storm triggered floods, with 10,000 people feared missing in Derna, where a quarter of the city was wiped out. Recovery efforts have already uncovered more than 1,000 bodies, and the cost of rebuilding Derna’s infrastructure is estimated at $67 million. The disaster highlights Libya’s fragile state after years of conflict.
  2. Red Cross Appeals for $112 Million to Aid Morocco After Devastating Earthquake (Al Ghad , Agence France-Presse). The Red Cross has made a plea for over $100 million to support Morocco following a powerful earthquake that claimed over 2,800 lives. Caroline Holt, Director of the Disaster, Climate, and Crisis Department at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stated the urgent need for the funds to address immediate necessities,The Moroccan Ministry of the Interior confirmed that the death toll from the recent earthquake has reached 2,862, with 2,562 injured. Government spokesman Mustafa Paytas announced plans for immediate aid and rehabilitation of affected areas. Rescuers are working around the clock to find survivors and assist hundreds displaced by the quake that struck on Friday night.
  3. Oil Prices Surge during Libyan Storm, Saudi-Russia Cuts (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Oil prices rose due to Storm Daniel’s impact on Libyan ports and voluntary supply cuts by Saudi Arabia and Russia. The increase offset concerns about China’s economic demand. Upcoming reports from the IEA and OPEC could further influence prices.
  4. Egyptian Military Delegation Visits Libya for Humanitarian Support (Al Arabiya). Following directives from President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, an Egyptian military delegation arrived in Libya to provide logistical and urgent humanitarian relief in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane. Egypt opened an air bridge, sending military planes carrying medical and food supplies and rescue crews. The move comes as Libya faces over 3,000 deaths due to the natural disaster.

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GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Role in ‘The Economic Corridor’ Project (Al-Awsat). Saudi Arabia underscores its pivotal role in ‘The Economic Corridor’ project, citing its strategic location, energy reliability, and competitive strengths as essential for the initiative’s success, according to Saudi ministers.
  2. Saudi Arabia Pursues Climate Goals and Clean Energy Leadership (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Saudi Arabia is making significant efforts to develop its hydrogen sector, increase clean energy exports, and achieve Paris climate goals. Initiatives include converting land and sea areas into natural reserves, extensive tree planting, carbon capture and storage projects, and a focus on raising renewable energy’s share in its electricity mix. The country aims to become a global leader in clean hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage projects.
  3. Omani Sultan and Saudi Crown Prince Discuss Bilateral Cooperation (Sahafah). Sultan Haitham of Oman and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized the need to enhance bilateral cooperation across various sectors to fulfill the aspirations of their respective nations during their meeting in Muscat.
  4. Qatar and U.S. Conduct Joint Fighter Jet Exercises (Al-Khaleej Online). The Qatari Emiri Air Force is set to conduct joint exercises with the American Air Force, involving F35 and F15 fighter jets. Four F35 aircraft recently arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar from the United States to participate in these exercises aimed at enhancing cooperation and training between the two forces.
  5. President Al-Alimi Urges European Pressure on Houthis for Peace (Press Bee). President Rashad Al-Alimi has appealed for increased European pressure on the Houthis to embrace peace, emphasizing the importance of their compliance with popular and international demands. His call was made during a meeting in Aden with the head of the European Union mission.
  6. Houthi Group Signals War Resumption Despite Omani Mediation (Aaden Gad). Despite Omani mediation efforts, Houthi leader Abdulaziz bin Habtour has indicated that their commitment to peace is limited. He mentioned their focus on celebrating the Prophet’s birthday, hinting at potential military escalation and the resumption of hostilities.
  7. Houthis Allocate $600 Million to Saada Stronghold (Al Sharq Al Wsat). Houthi militias in Yemen have funneled over $600 million into their main stronghold in Saada Governorate over a year, focusing on sectarian projects and followers, while millions of Yemenis urgently need aid. The group hoards funds for its sectarian agenda, neglecting to pay government employees and depriving residents of basic services in areas under its control.
  8. Yemen Among World’s Worst for Explosive Contamination (Middle East Monitor). Yemen, along with Iraq and Afghanistan, has one of the highest rates of landmine and explosive contamination, warns the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The presence of over a million mines, remnants of years of conflict, poses a severe threat to Yemeni civilians, with 1,469 casualties over the past five years, says the UN-linked Civilian Impact Monitoring Project.

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IRAN

  1. US Approves $6 Billion Transfer for Iran in Prisoner Exchange Deal (The National News). The Biden administration has enabled the release of five American detainees in Iran by permitting international banks to transfer $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar. This move is part of a prisoner exchange agreement that also involves the release of five Iranian citizens held in the US. Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the deal, which was officially disclosed to Congress on Monday.
  2. Iran Warns KRG About Anti-Iran Terrorists (Tasnim News). Iran’s foreign minister expressed concerns over the presence of terrorists in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, highlighting that it contradicts friendly relations with Tehran and goes against Iraq’s constitution. This was discussed during a meeting between the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Bafel Talabani, in Tehran.
  3. Iraq Relocates Iranian Kurdish Fighters Away From Border (Reuters). Iraq has initiated the relocation of Iranian Kurdish groups from border areas with Iran to more distant camps as part of a security agreement between Iraq and Iran. This move is intended to enhance border security and address concerns about Kurdish dissidents posing a threat to Iran’s security in the region.
  4. Australia Imposes New Sanctions Targeting Iranian Rights Violators (ABC News). Australia has announced additional sanctions and travel bans against Iranian individuals involved in oppressing women and girls, including the spokesperson for Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and the head of Iran’s cyber police. These measures come in response to ongoing human rights violations and call for accountability in the case of Mahsa Jina Amini’s death, while expressing solidarity with Iranian women and girls resisting repression.

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TURKIYE

  1. Turkish Chief of Staff Discusses NATO Developments with Supreme Commander (Anadolu Agency). Turkish Chief of Staff, General Metin Gorak, discussed recent NATO developments in a phone call with Supreme Commander General Christopher Cavoli.
  2. British Foreign Secretary Visits Ankara to Discuss Bilateral and Global Issues (Hurriyet Daily News).The British Foreign Secretary is in Ankara to discuss bilateral relations and address global concerns, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
  3. The Austrian Leader Calls for an End to Negotiations Between Türkiye and The European Union (Hurriyet Daily News). Austria’s leader advocates for the termination of EU membership talks between Türkiye and the European Union, emphasizing the need for a new partnership while welcoming discussions with Turkish President Erdogan in the near future
  4. Türkiye and Iran Hold the 55th Security Committee Meeting (Anadolu Agency). Officials from Türkiye and Iran discuss border security, cross-border trade, and combating smuggling at the 55th Turkish-Iranian Security Committee Meeting held in Urmia.

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SYRIA

  1. Syrian Regime Forces Fire on Suwayda Civilian Protesters, Eerily Echoing Daraa 2011 (Suwayda24). On Wednesday, Syrian regime forces opened fire on protesters attempting to close the headquarters of the Baath Party branch in the city of Suwayda. According to the Suwayda 24 network, guards at the Baath Party branch leadership building dispersed a group of protesters who were trying to re-close the building. Our correspondent reports: Guards at the Baath Party branch leadership building in the city of Suwayda fired shots to disperse a group of protesters attempting to re-close the building. 
  2. UN Inquiry Warns of Unsafe Syria during Economic Crisis (Syria TV). The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria highlights the worsening conflict and economic decline, deeming Syria unsafe for refugee return.
  3. Assad’s Foreign Minister Al-Miqdad Takes on US, Turkiye, and ISIS (North Press). Faisal al-Miqdad states Syria’s stance against the U.S., Turkiye, and ISIS during recent tensions in Deir ez-Zor.
  4. Tunisian Ambassador Highlights Challenges in Returning Fighters from Syria (Al Quds). Tunisian Ambassador Al-Mahdhabi discusses the Arab summit, emphasizing the importance of Tunisia-Damascus relations and the challenges surrounding the return of Tunisian fighters from Syria.
  5. Ongoing Conflict in Northeastern Syria (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Conflict continues between Turkish forces and Syrian National Army factions loyal to Ankara, and SDF forces in Hasakah, northeastern Syria.

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IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Foreign Minister Visits Iran, Calls for Respect of Sovereignty (Al-Arabiya). Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein plans to visit Tehran, urging Iran to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and avoid using violence against Iraqi Kurdistan. Hussein aims to discuss preventing armed groups from crossing the border and launching attacks against the Iranian government during his visit.
  2. Kurdish Leader’s Visit to Iran Focuses on Strengthening Relations (Baghdad Today). The leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Bafel Talabani, visited Iran to enhance relations, especially given the common border with Sulaymaniyah and the historical ties between the two. The visit was coordinated with the federal government and aimed to discuss issues related to strengthening the relationship with Iran rather than the presence of Iranian Kurdish opposition parties.
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LEBANON

  1. New US Sanctions Target Hezbollah Financiers (Anahar). US Imposes Sanctions on Hezbollah Financiers in South America and Lebanon, Citing Terrorist Activities.
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For Inquiries please contact: rkisar@americancenter.org

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