Top 5 Headlines:
- UN Secretary-General Invokes Article 99 Over Gaza Crisis.
- Saudi Talks: Shaping an Anti-Hamas Strategy.
- Erdogan Links Sweden’s NATO Bid to U.S. F-16 Sale Approval.
- Israeli Forces Continue to Target Hizballah Targets in South Lebanon.
- IRGC Commander Visits Bashar ASSad in Damascus.
ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
- UN Secretary-General Invokes Article 99 Over Gaza Crisis, Israel Criticizes Move. UN Secretary-General António Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, citing the Gaza crisis’s global impact and humanitarian concerns. Israel criticized this, alleging bias towards Hamas. Article 99 enables the Secretary-General to alert the Security Council about global crises independently. Saudi Arabia supported this move, with Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan advocating for a ceasefire. The UAE proposed a Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire, aligning with Guterres’ concerns. In discussions with Guterres, Saudi Arabia emphasized the urgency of ceasefire efforts. Meanwhile, U.S. officials anticipate an end to Israel’s Gaza operations by January, focusing on reducing civilian casualties.
- Israeli Military Escalation and Humanitarian Measures in Gaza Conflict. Israel has intensified its military strategy amidst the ongoing Gaza conflict, arming civilian teams near the Gaza border and conducting a significant raid on Hamas’s Khan Yunis stronghold by IDF Commandos. Amidst these military actions, Israel has cautiously increased fuel supplies to Gaza to prevent a humanitarian crisis, reflecting a complex balance of security and humanitarian considerations in the conflict.
- Iran’s Threat of the Day: Foreboding Warnings and Condemnations. In a recent phone call, Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian forewarned Qatar’s Prime Minister of “very frightening” days ahead for Israel, condemning its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. The officials, united in their stance, called for an immediate cessation of Israeli war crimes and emphasized the need for humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
- Iran’s Major Corruption Scandal Reveals High-Level Complicity. A $3.5 billion corruption case involving government officials, including ministers and Central Bank governors, shocks Iran. The scandal implicates top figures, such as Vice President Mokhber. Critics question Supreme Leader Khamenei’s silence.
- Raisi’s Russian Rendezvous: Gaza Talks and Trade in Focus. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s journey to Moscow centers on discussions about the Gaza crisis and bolstering Iran-Russia ties. His visit, the second since his inauguration in August 2021, aims to address the urgent situation in Gaza, focusing on ending bombings, lifting blockades, and advocating for Palestinian rights. Concurrently, Iran and Russia are deepening their economic relationship, conducting a significant portion of their trade in national currencies. This move towards de-dollarization, highlighted by Ambassador Jalali, accompanies Iran’s expansion of exports to Russia, including diverse products from agricultural goods to medical equipment.
- Iran-Linked Drug Networks Dismantled in Basra and Thi Qar. The General Directorate for Drug Control in Iraq announced the dismantling of local drug networks with ties to Iran in separate operations in Basra and Thi Qar provinces. The operations, conducted under judicial orders and military directives, resulted in the seizure of 22 kilograms of crystal meth and the arrest of seven drug traffickers, exposing their local networks linked to Iran.
- Iraq’s Vast Gas Reserves: Urgent Need for Accelerated Investment. Environmental expert Adel Al-Mukhtar emphasized Iraq’s massive strategic gas reserves, estimated at around 132 trillion cubic meters, comparable to its oil wealth. Al-Mukhtar urged expedited gas investment to combat environmental pollution caused by gas flaring, suggesting it as an alternative to imported gas for power generation, citing global demand and geopolitical leverage amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
- Iraqi-Saudi Partnership in Cement Industry Receives Praise from Prime Minister. Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Sudani lauds the collaboration between Iraqi and Saudi private sectors in the cement industry during a meeting with the Saudi ambassador. The partnership, exemplified by the agreement between Diyar and the Saudi Northern Region Cement Company, is expected to foster broader business collaborations, create job opportunities, and enhance economic interconnection between the two nations.
- Iraq’s Prime Minister Affirms Strengthened Cooperation with Azerbaijan. Sudanese Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani met with Azerbaijan’s Minister of Digital Development and Transportation, Rashad Nabiyev, discussing bilateral relations and enhancing collaboration in energy, education, communications, infrastructure, housing, and defense industries. Al-Sudani highlighted the strategic development road project and urged Islamic nations to support UN initiatives. The Azerbaijani minister conveyed President Ilham Aliyev’s greetings, expressing a desire to enhance bilateral ties and welcome Iraqi students to Azerbaijani military academies on the government’s sponsorship.
- IRGC Commander Visits Bashar al-ASSad in Damascus. Iran’s Quds Force Commander, Ismail Qaani, made three visits to Syria since the Jerusalem Operation in October. The unannounced trips involved meetings with Syrian officials, including Bashar al-Assad, and leaders of pro-Iranian militias. Qaani utilized both Damascus and Beirut airports for his visits, addressing security and military matters in preparation for a report to Ayatollah Khamenei.
- Syrian Embassy in Riyadh Resumes Operations After Years. The Syrian embassy in Riyadh announces the resumption of its activities after years of suspension, following the recent normalization of relations and the appointment of a new ambassador. Services and consular activities will resume starting December 17th.
THE GULF REGION & YEMEN
- Saudi Talks: Shaping an Anti-Hamas Strategy. Saudi Arabia and France are collaborating to address the Gaza conflict, focusing on Palestinian needs like a ceasefire and humanitarian aid. President Macron is organizing an “Anti-Hamas Alliance” conference, involving Western nations and Israel, with discreet Arab involvement, but excluding Saudi Arabia. The alliance aims to meet Israeli demands, including Hamas’ surrender and preventing Gaza’s rearmament. A key strategy involves relocating Hamas military leaders to a third country, potentially Algeria, to facilitate amnesty and prisoner release negotiations.
- Saudi Urges Restraint in the Red Sea Citing Concurrent Houthi Strikes. Yemen’s Houthi rebels recently launched ballistic missiles targeting military sites in Israel’s Eilat, aiming to disrupt navigation in the Arab and Red Seas until Israeli actions in Gaza cease. Israel intercepted the missile, ensuring no civilian harm. This attack follows the US destroyer Mason’s downing of a Houthi drone, underscoring heightened regional tensions. Concurrently, Saudi Arabia has urged the US to maintain restraint in response to Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, as Riyadh navigates the complexities of the Hamas-Israel conflict. These Houthi assaults, threatening vital oil trade routes, are part of a broader strategy to pressure the US into influencing Israel’s Gaza policy.
- Russia and Saudi Arabia Urge OPEC Members to Join Production Cuts. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman call on all OPEC+ member countries to join the oil production reduction agreement, emphasizing its global economic benefits. The joint statement underscores the importance of collaboration in the oil and gas sector, including equipment supplies, and stresses the commitment of all participating nations to the OPEC+ agreement for the benefit of producers and consumers.
- UAE Unveils World’s Largest Concentrated Solar Power Project in Collaboration with Saudi and Chinese Partners. The UAE, in collaboration with Saudi and Chinese partners, launched the world’s largest concentrated solar power project as part of the fourth phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Energy Complex in Dubai. The project, with a total investment of AED 15.78 billion, combines three technologies to generate 950 MW of clean energy, contributing to Dubai’s sustainable energy goals and global climate efforts. The initiative integrates concentrated solar power, solar tower technology, and photovoltaic panels, showcasing Dubai’s commitment to a sustainable and eco-friendly future.
EGYPT & AFRICA
- Houthi Attacks Threaten Egypt’s Suez Canal Economy. A report from Israel’s “Globes” economic newspaper highlights the economic impact of Houthi attacks near the Bab el-Mandeb strait, stating that Egypt’s economy, heavily reliant on the Suez Canal, faces significant risks. The Suez Canal contributes 2% to Egypt’s GDP, raising concerns in Cairo about potential disruptions to the vital shipping route. The report notes that Egypt’s dependence on the canal has increased, with canal-related revenues reaching a record $9.4 billion in the fiscal year 2022-2023. Israel, while concerned about shipping delays, emphasizes Egypt’s genuine worry about Suez Canal consequences.
- Morocco Plans Satellite Collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. Morocco is reportedly considering a partnership with Israeli companies, potentially Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), to develop a new surveillance satellite, replacing the 2017-launched Mohammed VI-A. The collaboration details, timeline, and costs remain unconfirmed as Rabat has not officially addressed the news.
- Erdogan in Greece: Aiming for Cooperation, Despite Tensions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Greece for the 5th Türkiye-Greece High Level Cooperation Council meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis focuses on enhancing bilateral relations and addressing long-standing issues. Despite the complex history between Turkey and Greece, Erdogan, in a pre-visit interview with a Greek newspaper, insists Turkey doesn’t see Greece as an adversary. He advocates for a new era of cooperation and dialogue, accusing external forces, particularly the United States, of exacerbating tensions. Erdogan’s approach seeks a mutually beneficial resolution to the disputes, underscoring the importance of direct communication between the two nations.
- Erdogan Links Sweden’s NATO Bid to U.S. F-16 Sale Approval. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly states that Turkey’s support for Sweden’s NATO membership hinges on the U.S. facilitating the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. He anticipates action from the U.S. Congress on this matter, following Turkey’s parliamentary motion to endorse Sweden’s entry into NATO. Erdogan stresses the importance of reciprocal steps from the United States for the agreement to advance, making it clear that the approval of F-16 sales is a key condition for Turkey’s backing of Sweden’s NATO aspirations.
- Türkiye Explores Defense Industry Collaboration with Egypt and Africa. Turkish officials express eagerness to transfer defense industry capabilities to Egypt and other African nations, fostering collaboration at the Egypt Defence Expo (EDEX) in Cairo. Positive developments in Türkiye-Egypt relations pave the way for strategic partnerships in naval platforms, ammunition, land vehicles, and more. Türkiye aims to leverage the event to strengthen ties with Egypt, echoing mutual interests in defense industry advancement.
- Erdogan’s Ambition: Mirroring Israeli Tactics for Syrian Offensive. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a resolute stance against what he labels as terror groups along Türkiye’s southern border with Syria and northern Iraq. Emphasizing Ankara’s commitment to combating terrorism, Erdogan specifically targets the northern Syrian city of Tal Rifaat, vowing to secure areas near the border from these groups. This announcement follows Türkiye’s Operation Claw Lock in northern Iraq, aimed at the PKK, a group recognized as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the U.S., and the EU, and responsible for over 40,000 deaths. Erdogan’s approach, mirroring Israeli rhetoric against Hamas, has sparked controversy and raised questions about his intentions in Syria’s northeast.
- Turkey Condemns Israel’s Plan for 1800 Settlements in East Jerusalem. Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemns Israel’s plan to build 1800 settlements in East Jerusalem, denouncing the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories while expressing concerns over ongoing attacks on Gaza.
- Turkish-Israeli Tensions Rise Over Espionage and Hamas Threats. Turkish intelligence has submitted a detailed report on Sılaç Kojokaya, accused of Mossad collaboration, revealing espionage and efforts to undermine Turkey’s data protection perception. Kojokaya’s confession, under allegations of torture, is disputed. This development coincides with escalating tensions between Israel and Türkiye, particularly over Hamas. Turkish President Erdoğan has sternly warned Israel against targeting Hamas members in Türkiye, responding to the Shin Bet chief‘s remarks about eliminating Hamas. This confrontation underscores Türkiye’s strong stance on the Palestinian cause and its opposition to Israel’s actions in Gaza.
- Israeli Forces Continue to Target Hizballah Targets in South Lebanon. Israel conducted artillery strikes in southern Lebanon, targeting areas near Hula and Markaba. Israeli artillery also struck Wadi Saluki, triggering alarms in the Margaliot settlement and Rameem barracks in Wadi Honeen, northern Israel. Israel claimed its jets hit Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including infrastructure and military sites. Israeli reconnaissance aircraft were reported over western and central Lebanon.
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