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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20, 2023

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

Top 5 Headlines:

  • Assad’s Contribution to Hamas, Finally Revealed.
  • Assad May Deploy Palestinian Liberation Army Against Israel in Southern Syria.
  • Iraqis Head to Jordan Border Following al-Sadr’s Call for Gaza Support.
  • Malaysia PM Advocates for ASEAN-GCC Free Trade Agreement.
  • Japan Urges Increased Oil Production Over Gaza Conflict Market Fears. 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 

  1. U.S. Intelligence Report on Gaza City Hospital Explosion Revealed. An unclassified U.S. intelligence report estimates the death toll from a Gaza City hospital explosion to be between 100 and 300, describing it as a “staggering loss of life.” The report contradicts Hamas’ initial claim that an Israeli airstrike caused the blast, supporting instead Israel’s evidence that a misfired Palestinian rocket was responsible. The U.S. intelligence assessment is ongoing and the casualty numbers may change (Sharq Awsat). 
  2. Israel Intensifies Gaza Strikes, Evacuates Town Near Lebanon. Israel has escalated its military actions in Gaza, leveling a district after giving residents a half-hour warning. The Israeli Defense Ministry also ordered the evacuation of Kiryat Shmona, a town near the Lebanese border, amid increasing clashes (Reuters). 
  3. Moody’s Puts Israel’s Credit Rating Under Review Due to Ongoing Hamas Conflict. Moody’s, a global credit rating agency, is reviewing Israel’s A1 credit ratings for a potential downgrade due to the ongoing conflict with Hamas. The agency suggests that the conflict’s length and severity could negatively affect Israel’s governance, fiscal health, and overall economy. This development follows a significant 80% increase in the cost to insure Israel’s government debt and comes after Fitch, another rating agency, also put Israel on negative rating watch (Jerusalem Post).
  4. China, Russia to Coordinate for Israel-Hamas Truce. China has announced its willingness to work with Russia to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas amid ongoing hostilities. The announcement comes as international efforts to halt the conflict have so far been unsuccessful. China’s special envoy to the Middle East, Zhai Jun, expressed the country’s readiness to play a “positive role” in resuming peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians (France 24). 
  5. Japan Urges Increased Oil Production Over Gaza Conflict Market Fears. Japan has called on Saudi Arabia and other oil producers to ramp up crude oil supplies to stabilize the global market. The request comes as Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza raises concerns about potential market destabilization and a negative impact on the global economy. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno emphasized the need for increased production to maintain market stability (Middle East Monitor).
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  6. THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

IRAN

  1. Iranian Opposition Media Criticizes Biden’s Sparse Mention of Iran. President Joe Biden’s recent Oval Office speech, which focused on conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, has drawn criticism from Iranian opposition media for its scant mention of Iran. The Iranian opposition media views Biden’s lack of focus on Iran as a missed opportunity to address the Islamic Republic’s support for anti-U.S. groups in the region, including Hamas and Russian interests in Ukraine. The speech has also been criticized for not addressing the broader geopolitical implications, such as the potential for the Israel-Hamas conflict to escalate and involve other regional actors like Hezbollah or Shi’a groups in Iraq (Iran International).
  2. Iranian Security Minister Criticizes UN and U.S. for Supporting Israel. Iranian Security Minister Hojjat al-Islam Ismail Khatib accused the United Nations Security Council of serving the interests of “arrogant powers” and the U.S., rather than supporting the oppressed. Speaking in Lorestan Province, he said the Al-Aqsa Flood operation had weakened Israel and criticized its relations with Islamic countries. He also noted a shift in public opinion towards Palestine due to Israel’s actions (Islam Times). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

SYRIA

  1. Assad’s Contribution to Hamas, Finally Revealed. Captagon pills were found in the pockets of numerous deceased Hamas militants. This synthetic stimulant enabled them to act with calmness and indifference while remaining highly alert for extended periods. Recently, Gaza has become a significant market for Captagon, especially among young addicts. Notably, the industry is overseen by the Assad family and Hezbollah, revealing one way Assad has contributed to crimes in Israel. While some may consider Assad too weak to influence the conflict with Israel, his role in manufacturing and supplying this drug to Hamas and other terrorist groups worldwide suggests he should be a prioritized target (Jerusalem Post).
  2. Assad May Deploy Palestinian Liberation Army Against Israel in Southern Syria. Palestinian refugees in Syria are urging the Palestine Liberation Army to take action against Israel in defense of Gaza. The army, which is currently a part of the Syrian regime’s forces, is being called upon to open a southern front in Syria to alleviate the situation in Gaza. This move would mark a second potential front where Assad could act against Israel, as the army’s activities are subject to the Syrian Ministry of Defense (Shaam News). 
  3. Gas Pipeline Near U.S. Base in Deir ez-Zor Explodes. An explosion occurred at the Conoco gas pipeline near a U.S. military base in Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria. The pipeline is used by the U.S. army and its agents for transporting natural gas. The explosion was reported by both Russian and Syrian news agencies. This comes after U.S. forces in Syria recently shot down two drones targeting them, causing minor injuries (Syria TV). 
  4. International Coalition Forces on High Alert at Al-Tanf Base. The international coalition forces are on heightened alert at the Al-Tanf base near the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border, anticipating attacks from Iranian militias. The alert comes as Iranian-backed militias in Deir ez-Zor are repositioning and transferring weapons. Recent attacks include drone strikes on the Al-Tanf base and rocket-propelled grenades on the Koniko gas field base, resulting in material damage and minor injuries. Iranian militias are reportedly on full alert, indicating heightened tensions in the region (SOHR). 
  5. Assad’s 55 Airports in Syria: A Strategic Risk to Israel. Syria has 55 airports, most of which are military and under foreign control, posing a strategic risk to Israel. The Syrian regime, backed by Russia and Iran, uses these airports for military superiority. Israel has targeted only some of these airports to disrupt Iranian supply lines and send warning messages to Assad. The focus on airports highlights their crucial role in the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the region (Syria TV). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

TURKIYE

  1. Turkish Artillery Strikes Eight Villages in Northern Aleppo, Injures Civilians. Turkish forces have bombarded eight villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo, where Kurdish forces and the Syrian regime are stationed. The artillery strikes resulted in injuries to a man and a woman in the village of Aqiba, who were taken to the hospital for treatment. The attacks come amid ongoing ground clashes between pro-Turkish factions and Kurdish and regime forces in the region (SOHR). 
  2. Bayraktar Pledges $10M Aid to Gaza Amid Crisis. Selcuk Bayraktar, Chairman of Turkish drone company Baykar, announced a $10 million humanitarian aid package for Gaza. Bayraktar condemned Israel’s actions in the region and called on the international community to act urgently for peace and justice (TRT Arabic). 
  3. Turkey Welcomes U.S. Decision to Lift Sanctions on Venezuela as “Step in the Right Direction. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has praised the U.S. for lifting sanctions on Venezuela, calling it a “step in the right direction.” The ministry also expressed Turkey’s willingness to support Venezuela in ensuring that its 2024 elections are transparent and fair. The statement emphasized Turkey’s stance against unilateral sanctions and affirmed its continued support for Venezuela. This comes after the U.S. suspended some sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, natural gas, and gold sectors following an agreement between the Venezuelan government and the opposition to hold elections in 2024 (Anadolu Agency).
  4. Turkish Justice Minister Criticizes UN Security Council for Acting Like a “War Council”. Turkey’s Minister of Justice Yılmaz Tunç has criticized the UN Security Council for its stance on the Gaza conflict, stating that it acts like a “war council.” Tunç pointed out that a bill calling for humanitarian aid access to Gaza and the protection of civilians was vetoed by the United States. He made these comments during the 18th Forensic Medicine Days event, where he also stated that war crimes are being committed in Gaza “in front of the eyes of the world.” (Hurriyet). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

IRAQ

  1. Iraqis Head to Jordan Border Following al-Sadr’s Call for Gaza Support. Hundreds of Iraqis have moved towards the Jordanian border in response to Muqtada al-Sadr’s call for a sit-in at the Palestinian border to lift the Gaza siege. The leader of the Sadr movement in Iraq urged Islamic and Arab communities to peacefully gather until the blockade on Gaza is lifted. The move comes amid ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian factions, resulting in thousands of casualties (Mustaqila). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. U.S. Warship Thwarts Missiles Possibly Aimed at Israel. An American warship in the northern Red Sea intercepted three missiles and several drones launched from Yemen. While the Pentagon could not confirm the intended targets, it is suspected that they may have been aimed at Israel. The missiles were reportedly fired by the Iran-backed Houthi group (Sharq Awsat).
  2. Malaysia PM Advocates for ASEAN-GCC Free Trade Agreement. Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim proposed a free trade agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at a summit in Riyadh. He emphasized that the agreement would be a first-of-its-kind and crucial for sustainable growth amid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties (The Strait Times). 
  3. Qatar and UK Leaders Agree on Urgent Humanitarian Aid for Gaza. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agreed on the need for urgent humanitarian aid in Gaza and preventing regional violence escalation. The agreement occurred during a summit in Riyadh. Sunak also thanked Qatar for efforts to release hostages held by Hamas (Al Jazeera). 
  4. IDF Prepares for Houthi Attacks, Intensifies Gaza Airstrikes. The Israeli Air Force is ready to counter potential attacks from Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen while escalating its airstrikes in Gaza. IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated that Israel’s military is prepared for threats and has struck over 100 targets in Gaza. The IDF also ordered the evacuation of Kiryat Shmona due to rising tensions on the northern border. Three Hezbollah terrorists were killed in a drone strike (Times of Israel). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Historic Tunisian Synagogue Damaged in Protests Against Israel-Hamas Conflict. A historic synagogue in El Hamma, Tunisia, was severely damaged during demonstrations protesting the Israel-Hamas conflict. Hundreds were filmed setting the structure on fire, following outrage over a Gaza hospital explosion blamed on Israel. The incident is part of a wider pattern of attacks on Jewish and Israeli sites globally amid the ongoing conflict. The synagogue included the tomb of a 16th-century rabbi and was previously damaged in the 2011 Arab Spring protests (Times of Israel). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 20-2023

LEBANON

  1. U.S. Delegation Discusses Regional Challenges with Lebanese Army Commander. Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun met with a delegation of assistants to U.S. Congress members and U.S. defense attache Colonel Aimee Mowry. The meeting focused on Lebanon’s general situation, challenges facing the military institution, and developments on the southern border (Nahar Net). 

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