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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

Top 5 Headlines: 

  • IRGC Chief’s Promotion of Iran’s AI-Powered Drones Escalates Security Risks
  • SDF Calls for Global Intervention Against Turkish Threats
  • Iran Opposes New Direct Supply Line Between Turkiye and Azerbaijan, Citing NATO Concerns
  • Baghdad and Erbil Form Joint Brigades, Potentially Impacting U.S. Counter-Terrorism Strategies
  • Saudi Arabia Continues Voluntary Oil Production Cut

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

Currencies:

$1 SYRIA IRAN IRAQ EGYPT TURKIYE ISRAEL
13,125 49,500 1,306 30 27.8 3.8

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

USA

  1. US Senator Cardin Halts $235M in Military Aid to Egypt, Citing Human Rights (New Arab). Senator Ben Cardin, the new chairman of the US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, has blocked $235 million in military aid to Egypt due to human rights concerns. Cardin demands “tangible progress” from Cairo and calls for the release of political prisoners and reforms in pre-detention procedures.
  2. White House Officials Make Secret Visit to Saudi Arabia, Purpose Unclear (i24). Last Thursday, Brett McGurk, White House coordinator for the Middle East, and Amos Hochstein, Biden’s senior energy and infrastructure adviser, visited Saudi Arabia for a few hours. The White House has not disclosed the purpose of the brief visit, leaving the international community speculating on the agenda.
  3. US Redirects Seized Iranian Ammo, Eyes Entry Ban (The National). The U.S. military has redirected over one million Iranian-made bullets, initially seized en route to Yemen, to Ukraine’s armed forces. Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at denying entry to sanctioned Iranian officials attending UN meetings. The bill follows Iran’s increasing role as a key arms supplier in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

TURKIYE

  1. Fidan Warns ‘Third Parties,’ Implicitly U.S., to Avoid PKK Sites in Syria (Hurriyet). Top Turkish security officials held a meeting coinciding with a second round of airstrikes against 16 PKK targets in Northern Iraq. Following the meeting, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan declared PKK facilities in Iraq and Syria as ‘legitimate targets,’ subtly warning the U.S.-led coalition in Syria. A few hours later, Turkish forces attacked a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) barracks in Al-Hasakah, Syria causing explosions and prompting ambulance dispatches. Concurrently, Iraq’s Defense Minister announced he will be visiting Ankara this Thursday to discuss the security issues. The timing and gravity of these statements are both unprecedented and highly significant. For a deep dive analysis of this issue, read: The Region’s edition: Ankara Bombing: A Critical Juncture in U.S.-Turkiye Relations and Global Geopolitics
  2. Azerbaijan Boycotts Karabakh Talks, Citing Exclusion of Turkiye (Daily Sabah). Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev opted out of peace talks with Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, scheduled in Spain. The decision follows the rejection of Turkiye’s participation and perceived bias from France. Azerbaijan criticized France’s lack of neutrality and its support for Armenia, questioning the effectiveness of the talks.

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

IRAN

  1. Iran Wages Media War Following U.S. Infiltration Revelations (Al Maydeen). In a calculated response to the recent revelations about Iran’s infiltration of American and European institutions, Iranian media outlets Al Maydeen and Tehran Times have released conflicting reports aimed at discrediting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Al Maydeen claims to have exclusive information from an Iranian security source about bribes from Netanyahu’s office to U.S. and European figures. However, this ‘new’ information was previously published by Tehran Times on September 24, 2023, which stated that Iran hacked the phones of Netanyahu’s opposition party to access Israel’s judicial archives. The inconsistencies between the two reports suggest that both are likely fabrications. Israeli media platform i24 summarized both Iranian articles and referenced its own report published on September 24, which covered a High Court hearing on a contentious incapacitation law aimed at protecting Netanyahu. The court did not rule on the law, with a decision expected in January 2024. 
  2. Iran Firmly Opposes Zangezur Corridor, Cites NATO Concerns (Tehran Times). Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi opposes the proposed Zangezur corridor linking Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan to its main territory, citing it as a platform for NATO and a threat to regional security. In meetings with Armenia’s Security Council Secretary, Iran also offered to send observers to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and emphasized the 3+3 format—comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia, and Turkiye—as a viable solution for regional conflicts.
  3. IRGC Chief Touts Iran’s AI-Powered Drones Capable of Long-Range Naval Strikes (Press TV). Major General Hossein Salami, chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), announced that Iran’s domestically developed drones, equipped with artificial intelligence, can target and destroy naval vessels thousands of miles away. Salami emphasized Iran’s technical prowess in incorporating pinpoint accuracy into ballistic missiles. The remarks come amid increasing foreign demand for Iran’s advanced unmanned aerial vehicles, exceeding the country’s production capacity.

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

IRAQ

  1. Baghdad and Erbil Form Joint Brigades to Control Disputed Areas (Sharq Awsat). Major General Mardan Jawshin announced the formation of two joint brigades comprising Iraqi army and Peshmerga forces to control disputed areas between Erbil and Baghdad. This move follows a similar agreement to control the Iraqi-Iranian border and aims to address security gaps, combat terrorism, and improve coordination between the two sides. The decision comes amid ongoing tensions and financial constraints.

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Saudi Arabia to Maintain Voluntary Oil Production Cut Through December 2023 (Sharq Awsat). Saudi Arabia has announced the continuation of its voluntary reduction in oil production by one million barrels per day through December 2023. This decision is an extension of a policy initiated in July 2023 and is in addition to another voluntary reduction announced in April 2023, which will last until December 2024.

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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

    EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

    1. Qatar Energy, Eni, BP Consortium Secures Offshore Exploration Rights in Egypt (Zawya). A consortium of Qatar Energy, Italy’s Eni, and Britain’s BP has won exploration and production rights in Egypt’s EGY-MED-E8 area, east of Port Said. The move aligns with Egypt’s goal to become a regional energy hub, attracting foreign investment amid a dollar liquidity crisis. The area spans 2,600 square kilometers.
    2. Political Corruption Limits Global Aid to Hurricane-Stricken Derna in Libya (Anadolu Agency). Hurricane Daniel’s toll in Libya exceeds 4,300, including 101 healthcare workers, and 8,500 missing. International aid to Libya following the devastating Hurricane Daniel has been limited due to the country’s political division, corruption, and security concerns. Despite urgent needs for reconstruction, especially in the city of Derna, global hesitance persists.

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    THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

    ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 

    1. World Jewish Center in Armenia Vandalized; Attackers Declare Jews “Enemies of the Armenian Nation (Jerusalem Post). The World Jewish Center in Yerevan, Armenia, was vandalized in an act believed to be linked to Armenia’s conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The attackers left a note declaring Jews as “enemies of the Armenian nation” and threatened further violence against Jewish communities.
    2. Heightened Security Measures During Jerusalem Main March Today (Ynet). Jerusalem’s annual main march kicks off today, leading to extensive road closures and traffic modifications. Hundreds of police officers and volunteers have been deployed to ensure the event’s security. The parade will commence at Bezalel Street and conclude at the First Station complex.
    3. Orthodox Jewish Extremists Spitting at Christian Pilgrims Sparks Outrage (CBN). Orthodox Jewish extremists were caught on video spitting at Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem’s Old City during the Feast of Tabernacles. Another group protested outside an International Christian Embassy event, shouting for Christians to stay out of Israel. Five individuals have been arrested in connection with the spitting incident.

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    THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

    SYRIA

    1. Assad Cracks Open a Chinese Fortune Cookie: Unveils a Comedy of Syrian ‘Miracles’ (Syria TV). Hold onto your seats, Syria’s post-China-trip rumor mill is a comedy goldmine! First, Assad’s planning a “historic amnesty,” making him the Santa Claus of Syria. Next, he’s targeting Latakia’s “corrupt elite” in a reality TV-esque sweep. Meanwhile, First Lady Asmaa is rumored to be the new Central Bank chief, causing the Syrian pound to rally. The exchange rate is also set to plummet for mysterious reasons after October 15. On the development front, Assad’s China trip is said to bring rapid reconstruction and a flood of Yuan. In military news, compulsory service is getting slashed, making Assad the Oprah of Syria’s army. Phone fees are also rumored to vanish, and Assad is apparently set to fix everything from contracts to engineers’ lives. 
    2. Syrian Refugees Contribute Significantly to Turkish Economy, Study Finds (Aleppo Today). The Harmon Center for Contemporary Studies reports that Syrian refugees have established over 10,332 companies in Turkiye since 2010, with a capital of $632 million. These businesses have created 77,000 jobs and contributed $10 billion in various sectors. Despite this, racist incitement has led some Arab businesses to exit Turkiye, causing a $1 billion loss. 
    3. Landmark Campaign Amplifies Global Momentum to Prosecute Al-Assad in International Court (Aleppo Today). Syrian activists have initiated a pivotal campaign, “Together to Try Al-Assad,” backing the International Court of Justice’s decision to try Bashar al-Assad for torture and chemical weapons use. The campaign demands the case be escalated to the International Criminal Court for criminal penalties against Assad and his regime. It also calls for immediate and unconditional release of detainees, and opposes any attempts to normalize relations with the Assad regime. The campaign will culminate in mass protests in the Netherlands on October 10th and 11th.
    4. Syrian Democratic Council Urges Global Intervention Against Escalating Turkish Threats to Northern Syria (North Press). The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) has issued an urgent call for international action in response to Turkiye’s escalating threats against northern and eastern Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Fidan Hakan recently threatened to bomb key facilities in the region. The SDC emphasized that Turkiye’s threats endanger the lives and infrastructure of 5 million residents, including displaced persons. The call for international intervention comes as tensions rise following a bombing in Ankara, which Turkiye claims was orchestrated from Syria.

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    THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

    LEBANON

    1. Lebanese Politician Almost Gets Booted for Breakfast (Nabd). The Lebanese Forces Party nearly expelled former MP Chant Janjanian for attending a breakfast hosted by former MP Cesar Maalouf in honor of Gebran Bassil. Contrary to media reports, Janjanian will face a Council of Elders before any expulsion decision. His wife, head of the women’s office in Zahle, was also rumored to be expelled but did not attend the breakfast. Janjanian defended his actions, emphasizing his long-standing commitment to his principles and party.
    2. Lebanon Issues Warning on Kidnapping Scams Targeting Syrians (Al Hurra). The General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces in Lebanon has warned of kidnapping operations targeting Syrians residing in the country. The kidnappers use fake social media accounts, particularly on TikTok, to lure victims with promises of secure travel to Europe. Once lured to border areas, victims are kidnapped, taken across the border into Syria, and tortured for ransom. Despite previous arrests, such kidnappings have resurfaced recently. The Lebanese authorities urge caution and reporting of suspicious activities.

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    THE EARLY PHOENIX – Oct 5, 2023

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