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THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 31, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Bipartisan U.S. Delegation Discusses Foreign Policy in Egypt (Anadolu Agency). A delegation of bipartisan U.S. Congress members, led by Senators Lindsey Graham and Robert Menendez, held discussions on foreign policy matters with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The talks covered various regional developments, including the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, conflicts in Sudan, Libya, and Syria, as well as progress on the Palestinian cause. The delegation emphasized the importance of swift political resolutions and addressed ongoing negotiations involving Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the Renaissance Dam.
  2. Fluctuating Egyptian Stock Market Seen as a Hedging Opportunity Amid Rising Inflation (SNA Business). Recent comments from financial experts indicate an upward trend in Egypt’s stock market, potentially attractive for foreign investors amid a declining exchange rate. Undervaluation of stocks despite rising inflation suggests investment opportunities, say Mohamed Maher and Dr. Hossam El-Ghaish.
  3. Libyans Protest to Demand Expulsion of Syrian Mercenaries (Al Hadath). Libyan protesters stormed a Tripoli police academy to expel Syrian mercenaries, alleging resource drain and security risks. The youth movement called for military action to remove them, warning of escalation if demands aren’t met. Concerns arise over the mercenaries’ potential integration into official security forces, as deployed by Turkiye.
  4. UN Approves Additional $20 Million for Humanitarian Needs in Sudan (Anadolu Agency). The United Nations has approved an additional $20 million to address growing humanitarian needs in Sudan. Martin Griffiths, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, announced the funding approval on social media, highlighting the urgent necessity for financial support given the escalating humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

LEBANON

  1. US and Iranian Envoys Visit Lebanon Simultaneously to Discuss Maritime Gas Exploration (Al Nahar). On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Abdollahian and US Energy Envoy Hochstein visited Lebanon. Both envoys, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and US envoy Amos Hochstein, displayed significant interest in the gas exploration activities in Block 9 during their respective visits.
  2. Israel Warns of Potential Military Operation in Lebanon (Anadolu Agency). Israel’s UN representative, Gilad Ardan, warns that Israel is close to initiating a military operation in Lebanon due to “escalation of Hezbollah’s activity along the border.”

TURKIYE

  1. Russia’s Grain Proposal to Turkiye: Economic Influence and Regional Ties (Reuters). Plan involves sending one million tonnes of discounted grain to Turkiye, backed by Qatar. Grain processed in Turkiye, distributed to needy nations. Russia’s proposal seeks to solidify economic influence, enhance Turkiye ties, and address criticism following its exit from the previous deal.
  2. Iraq-Turkiye Talks Focus on Water Management, Trade (Anadolu Agency & Turk Press). This week, Iraq and Turkiye engaged in diplomatic talks to enhance bilateral relations. Iraqi President Abd al-Latif Rashid met with Turkiye’s special envoy Faisal Iroglu to discuss water management for the Tigris and Euphrates basins. Simultaneously, the Iraqi Ministry of Trade held discussions with a Turkish delegation aimed at boosting economic and trade ties
  3. Fidan Meets Libyan High Council of State Head  (Anadolu Agency). According to a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Fidan received Muhammad Takala, the head of Libya’s Supreme Council of State, in Ankara. No further details about the meeting’s content were provided.

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Netanyahu Thanks Saudi Arabia for Emergency Landing Assistance (France 24). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed appreciation to Saudi Arabia for permitting an emergency landing of a plane carrying 128 Israeli citizens at Jeddah airport due to technical issues. The incident is notable as it comes amid U.S.-led efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
  2. Palestinian Delegation to Discuss Israeli Concessions in Saudi Arabia (Times Of Israel). Palestinian officials are set to visit Saudi Arabia to discuss Riyadh’s conditions for potentially normalizing relations with Israel. The focus will be on Saudi demands for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. This signifies a change in the Palestinian Authority’s approach, as it now chooses to engage rather than boycott such processes. Both Israeli and U.S. officials suggest that such concessions will be crucial for any deal.

THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. GCC and New Zealand Discuss Free Trade Agreement (Press Bee). Jassim Muhammad Al-Budaiwi, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, met with New Zealand Minister of Trade Damian O’Connor to explore avenues for a free trade agreement. The meeting aimed to bolster foreign trade and attract foreign investment.
  2. Qatar Supplies Fuel to Lebanese Army (Raya). The Qatar Fund for Development will supply the Lebanese army with $30 million worth of fuel for six months. This aid is part of Qatar’s ongoing commitment to support Lebanese institutions and citizens.
  3. Houthi-Backed “Zainabiyat” Allegedly Commit Severe Violations Against Female Detainees in Sanaa’s Central Prison (Al Hadath). Female detainees in Houthi-controlled Yemeni prisons endure violent abuse by the “Zainabiyat” all-female militia, tearing clothes and assaulting them. Complaints to prison management yield no action. The incidents are linked to a broader Houthi campaign to confiscate pants considered against religious identity.

IRAN

  1. Iran Ramps Up Arrests Ahead of Amini Anniversary (Arab News). Ahead of the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death, Iran intensifies a crackdown, detaining activists, campaigners, and relatives of those killed in protests. Amini’s 2022 death while in custody sparked widespread protests, demanding an end to Iran’s Islamic system due to her arrest for violating dress rules.
  2. Iran Can Secure Strait of Hormuz, Says Rear Admiral (Mehr News). Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari states that Iran and regional countries can ensure the security of the Strait of Hormuz for merchant ships and oil tankers, asserting that extra-regional countries have only brought instability. 

SYRIA

  1. Assad Regime Considers Ending Ban on Foreign Currency  (Shaam). The Assad regime’s Council of Ministers discusses the possibility of repealing Legislative Decree No. 54 of 2013, which prohibits transactions in any currency other than the Syrian pound. The move comes amid a sharp depreciation of the Syrian currency.
  2. Assad Fails to Meet Arab Demands, Refugee Return Postponed  (Orient). According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the Assad regime shows no intent of adhering to Arab demands for normalization, particularly concerning the return of refugees. Assad links the refugee return to international reconstruction efforts, stalling the process further. 
  3. Tensions Rise Between “Qasd” and Tribalists (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Tribal clans threaten the Kurdish-led SDF with violence if detained military leaders are not released. The SDF vows a firm response and issues a 48-hour ultimatum for the laying down of arms.

IRAQ

  1. Al-Fatah Accuses U.S. of Orchestrating French Troop Ambush in Iraq (Iraq News Network). Jabbar Odeh, a leader of Iraq’s Al-Fateh Alliance, raised questions regarding the recent ambush on French forces in Salah al-Din Governorate, suggesting U.S. involvement. According to Odeh, the attack on French special forces by ISIS may be a covert message from Washington to Paris amid secret tensions between the two nations. France confirmed the death of one soldier and the wounding of others in the operation targeting key ISIS figures in the region. 
  2. Macron Reaffirms Commitment to Fight ISIS in Iraq (Mustaqila). After the killing of three French soldiers in Iraq, French President Emmanuel Macron reassures Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani of France’s commitment to combating ISIS within the framework of the international coalition.
  3. Rockets Target Emirati-Operated Gas Field in Iraqi Kurdistan; No Casualties Reported (Al Hurra). Rockets hit the Khor Mor gas field in Iraqi Kurdistan, operated by a UAE company. No casualties or damage were reported. Kurdish officials confirmed two rockets near the field. Owned by Pearl consortium, Dana Gas, and Crescent Petroleum, authorities are ensuring gas and electricity production remains unaffected.
  4. Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council Emphasizes Regional Cooperation  (Iraq Akhbar). Humam Hamoudi, President of the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council, discusses the importance of development and regional cooperation with Kuwaiti Ambassador Tariq Abdullah Al-Faraj. Hamoudi stresses that Iraq’s current stability offers a chance for economic and service improvements, benefitting the entire region.

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