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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25, 2023

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

Mid-Day Analysis: U.S. Policy Reassessment Needed

The Middle East remains as volatile as ever, at a critical juncture marked by turmoil and conflict. The escalating war between Israel and Hamas is drawing in regional players and impacting U.S. interests and alliances. Although the U.S. maintains strong support for Israel, Iranian-backed militias persist in provoking military interactions with U.S. forces across the region. Russia’s role in Syria and its nuanced stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict pose challenges to U.S. influence. Türkiye’s cancellation of its Israel visit and joint military exercises with Azerbaijan indicate shifting alliances, potentially counterbalancing Iranian influence but also distancing Türkiye from the U.S. on the Israel issue. The U.S. must carefully navigate these complexities, balancing immediate security needs with long-term regional stability. Steps include coordinating with Saudi Arabia and pressuring Qatar to act against Hamas financiers. The situation calls for an immediate, comprehensive re-evaluation of U.S. strategy, taking into account the maneuvers and complicity of key players in the ongoing conflict. Russia’s actions in the UNSC suggest it has played a significant role in empowering Hamas and stands to benefit from current events, mistakenly believing this may deter U.S. support for Ukraine. Iran shows no signs of ceasing its use of regional proxies against the U.S. and Israel, necessitating a new, sustainable strategy to deter its ongoing hostile activities. Assad is the weakest link in Iran’s proxy network, while Hezbollah remains more valuable to Khamenei, indicating that Iran may soon activate the Syrian front to attack Israel from the north.

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

Top 5 Headlines: 

  • Israeli Officials Demand UN Chief’s Resignation Over Hamas Comments. 
  • Russia Supplies Fertilizer for Explosives Production in Damascus Countryside.
  • Iran-Backed Militia Threatens UAE and Kuwait in Response to Israel-Hamas Conflict. 
  • Yemeni Missiles Reach Palestine, Israel Officially Confirms: ‘We Were Targeted.
  • Turkish President Erdogan Cancels Israel Visit. 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

USA 

  1. White House Rejects Ceasefire in Gaza, Citing Concerns Over Hamas. The White House has refused a Gaza ceasefire, asserting it would benefit Hamas. As the conflict continues, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seeks international protection and a comprehensive political solution. French President Macron emphasizes a fight against terrorism while advocating mutual recognition of Israeli and Palestinian rights. Turkish President Erdogan criticizes the UN Security Council’s biased stance, blaming it for worsening the Gaza crisis. UN Secretary-General Guterres calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, addressing concerns about destabilization in the Gulf. The Palestinian Foreign Minister decries the Council’s inaction (Al Jazeera). 
  2. US and France Seek International Alliance Against Hamas Funding Network. The United States and France are working to establish an international alliance to combat what they call the “financial network” of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). US officials are set to meet with European allies to coordinate efforts in countering the funding of Hamas. Both nations aim to unite with regional and global countries to confront Hamas’s financial activities. French President Emmanuel Macron suggested that this alliance should not only focus on financial measures but should have a broader anti-Hamas scope. The push comes after recent conflict escalation with Hamas following its operation “Flood of Al-Aqsa.” (Aljazeera).
  3. US President and Saudi Crown Prince Discuss Israel-Hamas Conflict and Regional Stability. US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a phone conversation to address the Israel-Hamas conflict. They emphasized the importance of diplomatic efforts to maintain regional stability and prevent the conflict’s escalation. The leaders discussed ongoing efforts to deter parties from expanding the conflict and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. They also stressed the need for lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, building on recent diplomatic work between Saudi Arabia and the United States, and committed to close coordination in the future (i24). 
  4. US Urges Qatar to Take Sanctions Against Hamas Financiers. Brian Nelson, responsible for terrorist financing in the Biden administration, is meeting with Qatari officials to urge action against Hamas financiers in Qatar and the Persian Gulf. The US seeks sanctions and measures to disrupt financial support for Hamas, which it alleges operates with political and financial backing in countries like Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE. This comes after recent US sanctions on individuals linked to Hamas, some based in Qatar and Turkiye, following violence in Israel (Calcalist). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israeli Officials Demand UN Chief’s Resignation Over Gaza Tensions. Israeli officials call for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ resignation over his comments linking Hamas attacks to Palestinian territories’ control. Meanwhile, the US seeks a UN Security Council vote on Gaza, raising ceasefire concerns. Russia presents an alternative draft during Israeli-Hamas disagreements on aid and ceasefire terms. Israel’s cancellation of a meeting with Guterres and visa denials for UN representatives further escalate tensions (Aljazeera, Times of Israel, Al Arabiya).
  2. Israeli Navy Thwarts Hamas Sea Infiltration, Two Terrorists Killed. The Israeli Navy successfully foiled a Hamas attempt to infiltrate Israel from Gaza via the sea. The incident occurred in near-empty border towns of Zikim and Karmia, resulting in the deaths of two Hamas operatives (Times of Israel).
  3. Israel Responds to Syria Rocket Attack with Strikes on Syrian Army. Israel launched airstrikes against Syrian Army infrastructure after two rockets were fired at the Golan Heights from Syria. The strikes targeted radar sites and warehouses, resulting in reported casualties among Syrian soldiers (Jerusalem Post).
  4. Israeli Army Claims Iran Orchestrated Recent Regional Attacks. The Israeli army asserts that Iran directed its allied armed factions in Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon to launch recent attacks. Israel, in collaboration with the United States, is closely monitoring the situation. Additionally, Iran is accused of providing information to Hamas in Gaza and spreading anti-Israel sentiment globally through online campaigns (Al Jazeera). 
  5. Russia’s Calculated Stance in Israel-Hamas Conflict. Russia cautiously criticizes both Israel and Hamas, using the conflict to bolster its global influence and challenge Western isolation over Ukraine. While Moscow can’t mediate the Middle East crisis, it capitalizes on perceived Western shortcomings. The risk is strained relations with Israel, which hasn’t sanctioned Russia or armed Ukraine (AP).
  6. Israeli Finance Minister Amends Budget Due to Gaza War Cost. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich declared that the 2023-2024 national budget is “no longer relevant” due to the ongoing Gaza war, estimating a daily direct cost of $246 million. He downplayed S&P Global’s economic outlook downgrade, expressing confidence in Israel’s financial stability. Smotrich praised Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron’s efforts during the crisis but remained non-committal on Yaron’s permanent tenure. Smotrich emphasized the priority of maintaining economic continuity during the conflict (Jerusalem Post).
  7. S&P Downgrades Israel’s Credit Rating Outlook Over War Uncertainties. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has changed Israel’s credit rating outlook from “stable” to “negative” in light of the ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza.. S&P cited the potential for the conflict to escalate and its impact on the country’s economy. Israel’s credit rating remains at AA-. This revision serves as a warning for a possible future downgrade. Fitch and Moody’s have also taken similar actions (Israel Hayom).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

IRAN

  1. Iran’s Oil Exports Surge, But Revenue Falls Short. Despite a recent uptick in Iranian oil exports, the country faces a substantial budget deficit due to unrealized oil income. Davoud Manzour, the head of Iran’s Planning and Budget Organization, revealed that only 70% of the 7-month budget has been realized, primarily due to discrepancies in projected oil prices and export volumes. If this trend continues, it could lead to Iran’s highest-ever budget deficit (Iran International).
  2. Exploring Russia’s Military Cooperation with Iran During UN Missile Trade Restrictions Expiry. As UN restrictions on missile trade with Iran expire, military-technical cooperation between Russia and Iran is on the rise. Iran has delivered UAVs and technology to Russia, transforming their bilateral ties. While Iran has ordered Su-35 fighters and other military equipment from Russia, the terms of their initial drone procurement agreement remain unclear. Western sanctions may have made Russia more willing to engage in such deals. However, the evolving Iran-Russia relationship is complex, influenced by regional dynamics and international sanctions, affecting arms trade decisions and potentially altering the balance of power in the Middle East (Amwaj). 

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

SYRIA

  1. Syria in the Eye of the Storm as “Gaza Flood” Shapes Middle East Alliances. The Israeli war on Gaza has garnered attention, but it’s also raising questions about the northern front along the Lebanon-Syria border. Iran denies direct involvement but supports Hamas. Experts believe Iran won’t risk a war with Israel and will rely on proxies like Hezbollah and Syrian militias. Syria’s interests conflict with Iran’s in attacking Israel. The conflict could reshape regional alliances, including Saudi Arabia’s approach to normalization with Israel. Arab countries are uneasy, and U.S. influence on allies may weaken. Iran’s narrative of resistance is at stake, and its indirect involvement is likely. Syria faces pressure not to join the war, while Israel issues warnings. The region’s future remains uncertain, with potential for controlled escalation and the involvement of proxy groups like Hezbollah (Enab Baladi). 
  2. Israeli Airstrike Raises Death Toll to 18 in Regime Positions in Daraa. The Israeli airstrike resulted in 18 casualties in the Daraa region. The strike primarily targeted a building designated for sleeping and an ammunition depot. Leaflets in Arabic were dropped, warning Syrian regime forces and Palestinian factions about missile launches towards the occupied Golan Heights (Syria TV).
  3. Russia Supplies Fertilizer for Explosives Production in Damascus Countryside. Russia reportedly sent several large trucks loaded with tons of fertilizer to the city of “Al-Qusayr” in the western countryside of Damascus. The fertilizer is used in the production of explosives and explosive barrels. The delivery was supervised by Syrian military officers, and the fertilizer was distributed within a military camp in the area, with a significant security presence around “Al-Qusayr.” (Zaman Alwsl).
  4. Assad’s Foreign Minister Plays the ‘Costly Expansion’ Card on Israel. Assad’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad throws shade at Israel, cautioning them about the hefty bill they’d rack up if they expanded their aggression. He even underlines the resistance’s preparedness – talk about a diplomatic mic drop! This comes after Israel’s recent fireworks show on Syrian military spots. Syria’s response? Less bang, more tactical thinking for now.(Shaam).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

IRAQ

  1. Iraq Seeks Air Defense Systems Over Fears of Israeli Attacks. Iraqi officials are actively pursuing air defense systems to protect against potential Israeli attacks as the current confrontation escalates. Concerned that Iraq could face a fate similar to Syria, they cite delays from the US in providing promised air defense support. Russia, China, and even Iran are considered as potential suppliers, with French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Baghdad expected to play a role in negotiations.Iraq aims to enhance its airspace security to safeguard against violations due to regional instability. (The New Arab).
  2. Iraq Allocates $2.3 Million for Gaza Support. The Iraqi government has allocated 3 billion dinars (approximately $2.3 million) to provide medicines and food support for Gaza residents. This initiative aims to assist those affected by ongoing attacks, in accordance with Iraq’s 2023-2025 federal budget law (Al Iraq News).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Iran-Backed Militia Threatens UAE and Kuwait in Response to Israel-Hamas Conflict. The Iran-backed militia, Alwiyat al-Waad al-Haq, has issued threats to target American bases in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in retaliation for the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. This move comes as part of increased tensions across the region, with Iran-backed militias issuing threats against Israel and the US, and carrying out various attacks, including rocket and drone strikes on US forces in Syria Qatar Rejects Israeli Accusations While Mediating for Hostage Release in Gaza and Iraq (Jerusalem Post).
  2. Qatar Rejects Israeli Accusations of Politicizing Aid to Gaza. Qatar’s UN representative dismissed Israeli claims of politicizing aid to Gaza, emphasizing the need for cooperation to end violence. Concurrently, Qatar and the US are mediating talks between Hamas and Israel for the release of over 200 civilian hostages in Gaza. Qatar urges Hamas to expedite the release of women and children, arguing it would ease logistical burdens and improve Hamas’ international image (Khaleej Online, Jerusalem Post). 
  3. Saudi Non-Oil Exports Decline by 23.4% in August. Saudi Arabia’s non-oil commodity exports fell by 23.4% YoY in August, attributed to a decline in petroleum exports by 27.1%. While exports increased by 11.3% compared to July, they reached 102.4 billion Saudi Riyals, or approximately $27.3 billion (SNA Business).
  4. Yemeni Missiles Reach Palestine, Israel Officially Confirms: ‘We Were Targeted. Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, acknowledged that they were struck by a missile attack from Yemen during a UN Security Council session on Gaza. He suggested that the attack was linked to Sanaa and the Houthi movement. Cohen reiterated threats against Hamas and affirmed continued aggression against Gaza. The warnings from Yemen triggered Israeli media to take the Yemeni threat seriously, including potential missile launches from Yemen and Iraq in response to Israeli attacks on Gaza (Aljadeed Press).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. $1.5 Billion Agreement Between Suez Canal and Qatari Company. The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority and Qatari company “Baladna” signed a memorandum of cooperation worth $1.5 billion to boost food security. This partnership includes dairy production investments in Egypt, launching a cattle farm with initial capacity for 20,000 Holstein cows to produce 300 million liters of milk annually. The collaboration also involves cultivating 280,000 acres in Egypt’s New Valley Governorate to supply fodder and agricultural products for both domestic and export use (SNA Business).
  2. Egypt Negotiates $5 Billion Deposit with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Egypt is in discussions with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to secure a $5 billion deposit that will later be converted into investments. The deposit aims to support the International Monetary Fund program signed last year and includes renewing existing deposits due next year. Egypt has been grappling with increasing foreign currency shortages, maintaining a fixed exchange rate, and rising external debt. Despite an uptick in international reserves, Egypt faces significant debt obligations in 2024 (Alaraby).
  3. EU Accelerates Economic Aid Program for Egypt Due to Regional Conflict Concerns. The European Union is fast-tracking an economic support agreement with Egypt as tensions rise due to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Discussions on the deal have taken place in Cairo, focusing on stabilizing Egypt’s economy and creating job opportunities. This move aims to prevent mass migration to Europe and mitigate far-right sentiment in EU countries (Al Arabiya). 
  4. Egypt and Ethiopia Agree to Resume GERD Talks in Addis Ababa. Egypt has announced its agreement to hold a new round of negotiations regarding the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. These negotiations aim to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the Ethiopian dam, which has been a point of contention between the two countries. Egypt and Sudan insist on the need for a binding agreement with Ethiopia to ensure the continued flow of their share of the Nile River’s water. Ethiopia argues that the dam is vital for development, particularly in generating electricity. The negotiations mark a significant step forward after a pause of over two years (Anadolu Agency).
  5. Italy Calls for Full Implementation of Tunisia Migration Agreement. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has urged the complete implementation of the memorandum of understanding signed between the European Commission and Tunisia to address migrant flows from the Tunisian coast. The agreement, signed in mid-July, aims to provide financial support to Tunisia’s economy and the naval guard. However, obstacles remain in turning the memorandum into a final agreement, with disagreements over provisions, especially related to financial support. Tunisia recently arrested over 2,600 irregular migrants and dozens of human smugglers in a security campaign, highlighting the ongoing migration challenges in the region (Sharq Awsat). 
  6. Libya’s Natural Gas Production Drops 8% to 861.96 Billion Cubic Feet. New data shows Libya’s natural gas production decreased by 8%, reaching 861.96 billion cubic feet compared to the previous year’s target of 941.7 billion cubic feet. The country aims to produce an average of 2.58 billion cubic feet daily (Alwasat).
  7. Morocco Signs $282 Million Financing Agreements With the African Development Bank. Morocco has signed three financing agreements worth over $281.96 million with the African Development Bank. The agreements support healthcare infrastructure, social security expansion, and emergency assistance following a deadly earthquake last September (Sky News Arabia).
  8. Algerian Foreign Minister Meets Palestinian Counterpart in New York. On the sidelines of the UN Security Council session in New York, Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf met with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki. The meeting focused on the recent developments in Palestinian territories during Israeli operations in Gaza. Diplomatic efforts to stop the violence and provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians without restrictions were also discussed (Al-Nahar).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

TURKIYE

  1. Turkish President Erdogan Cancels Israel Visit. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled his planned visit to Israel due to his strong criticism of Israel’s actions during the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Erdogan called for an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian aid for Gaza, and the recognition of Hamas as a liberation group. This strained Turkiye’s relationship with Hamas as Ankara seeks to normalize ties with Israel. Israel and Italy have denounced Erdogan’s statements, highlighting the challenging diplomatic balance Turkiye faces in the region (Al Nahar,Hurriyet, Sharq Awsat). 
  2. Turkey, Azerbaijan Bolster Military Ties; Russia Discusses South Caucasus Stability. Turkey and Azerbaijan have conducted joint military exercises, “Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 2023,” involving thousands of troops, tanks, and aircraft. The drills aim to bolster military cooperation and took place in areas including those formerly occupied by Armenia. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler met to discuss the strong bilateral military relationship and Azerbaijan’s regained sovereignty over Karabakh. Meanwhile, Russian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers discussed peace and stability in the South Caucasus, emphasizing the 3+3 regional cooperation platform (Anadolu Agency, TRT, Daily Sabah, TRT worldCumhuriyet).
  3. Successful High-Speed Test for Turkiye’s Bayraktar TB3 UAV. Turkiye’s domestically developed Bayraktar TB3 UAV, known for its short takeoff and landing on small ships, has successfully completed a high-speed test. It offers capabilities for reconnaissance, intelligence, and operating with indigenous smart munitions (Hurriyet).
  4. Turkish Intelligence Eliminates PKK Leader in Northern Iraq. Turkish intelligence successfully neutralized a senior member of the PKK/KCK terrorist organization in northern Iraq. The operation targeted “Sariya Atilla,” responsible for the group’s training academies. She had been operating under the alias “Rozarin Shemsinan” and joined the organization in 2007, engaging in field activities to support the organization. In a related development, Turkiye’s Interior Minister announced the elimination of three wanted PKK members in a separate operation in Diyarbakir, emphasizing their continued efforts to combat terrorism (Anadolu Agency).

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 25-2023

LEBANON

  1. Leader of Hezbollah Meets with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leaders. The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, held a meeting with senior figures from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Beirut. The meeting discussed the next steps that the three groups, along with other Iran-backed militants, should take during this “sensitive stage” in the Middle East. Furthermore, reports suggest that an Israeli airstrike targeted Aleppo’s international airport in Syria, rendering it inoperable (AP).
  2. Deadly Exchange of Fire: Hezbollah Fighters Killed in 24 Hours. In the past 24 hours, 11 Hezbollah fighters have been killed as Israel and Hezbollah engage in cross-border clashes. Israel targeted Hezbollah positions after being fired upon by the militant group. Israel conducted retaliatory bombings, resulting in the deaths of over 5,000 Palestinians, including civilians. French President Macron has called for restraint and warned against expanding the war into Lebanon and the wider Arab world (Nahar Net).
  3. Hezbollah Suffers Losses, Bassil Engages in Diplomacy During Gaza Conflict. Hezbollah has lost nearly 40 fighters during operations in the southern Israeli-occupied region. While Israel remains silent about its losses, Hezbollah’s casualties are taking a toll. Meanwhile, Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil is engaging in diplomacy, attempting to bolster his image and propose a presidential deal (Janoubia).

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