ACLS

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Sept 01, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

SYRIA

  1. Assad and Abdullahian: Stuck in ‘Dictator Club’ (Enab Baladi). Bashar al-Assad Meets Iranian Foreign Minister in Damascus, Discussing Syrian Refugee Returns and Turkish Withdrawal. Talks also Focus on Strengthening Iran-Arab Relations for Regional Stability. Implementation of Agreements Stressed. Meeting Amid US Military Operation Discussions on Syrian-Iraqi Border. 
  2. Action Group Urges UN Attention to Syrian Palestinian Detainees (Syria TV).  Group Urges UN Attention to Palestinian Detainees in Syria. Over 20 Documents Detail Plight at Human Rights Council. Appeals for Disclosure of Detainees’ Fate Unanswered by Syrian Regime. Around 2,000 Detainees, Including Youths, Held Since 2011. Concerns Over Lack of Statistics and Security Services’ Reactions.
  3. Jordan Targets Alleged Drug Lab in Southern Syria Amid Smuggling Concerns (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Jordan targets alleged drug lab in southern Syria as concerns rise over smuggling activities. Damascus faces criticism for failing to combat drug trade. Disappointment grows as Syrian crisis remains unresolved. Jordanian military takes decisive action against smuggling along borders. New concerns emerge over diplomatic statements and border security.
  4. Oil Well in Deir Ezzor Targeted Amid Security Tension and Accusations (North Press). An oil well near Koniko gas field in Deir Ezzor countryside targeted with suspected Iranian weaponry, causing plumes of smoke. Security tension persists in the region as Iranian factions reportedly bring in weapons to escalate against Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). SDF dismisses Deir ez-Zor Military Council commander amid anti-ISIS operation and accusations of drug trafficking and external communication.

IRAN

  1. Iran Alleges Slowed Uranium Enrichment Amid Oil Surge (Iran International). Iran is slowing its 60% uranium enrichment, according to an upcoming IAEA report. This coincides with U.S.-Iran talks to ease sanctions and a recent surge in Iranian oil exports, fueling speculation of an informal deal between the two nations.
  2. Iran Warns of Retaliation for Israeli Airstrikes on Syrian Airport (Rudaw). Iran’s foreign minister warns of retaliation against Israel for its airstrikes in Syria, specifically mentioning damage to Aleppo’s airport. The warning comes amidst a long-running shadow war between Iran and Israel, involving covert military actions and cyber-attacks. No casualties were reported in the recent Aleppo strike.
  3.  Hacktivist Group Unveils Iranian State Surveillance Tools (Biometricupdate.com). Hacktivist group GhostSec claims to have exposed a facial recognition system used by Iran for domestic surveillance. The breach revealed 26GB of data, including source code for multiple surveillance systems. The group warns that Iran’s surveillance extends beyond borders and poses a threat to citizen privacy.

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israeli Soldier Killed in Truck Attack (Jerusalem Post). An IDF soldier was killed and five others injured in a truck-ramming attack at the Maccabim checkpoint on Route 443. The deceased was identified as Sergeant Maxim Mulchanov from Ukraine.
  2. Iran Alleges Israeli Sabotage Plot (Jerusalem Post). Iran accuses Israel of a foiled plot targeting its defense and missile production.
  3. Israel Summons Belgian Ambassador (Times of Israel). Israel summoned Belgium’s ambassador over comments by Belgian Minister Caroline Gennez that Israel is wiping out Palestinian villages.
  4. Hamas May Resume Gaza Border Protests (Times of Israel). Hamas is reportedly considering restarting regular protests along the Israel-Gaza border, signaling the group’s capability to resume hostile activities.
  5. Palestinian Terror Groups Plotting Attacks on Israelis and Jews Abroad: Security Alert (i24). Israeli authorities warn of Palestinian terror groups Hamas and PIJ planning attacks abroad to boost bargaining power against Israel. Kidnapping Israelis is a focus. Backed by Iran, these groups seek anti-Israel goals. Global threat includes radicalized individuals. Alert comes before Jewish High Holidays, with increased Israeli travel, and encompasses non-Iranian Islamist threats.

TURKIYE

  1. Turkey’s Q2 Economy Beats Expectations  (Daily Sabah). Turkey’s economy grew 3.8% in Q2 2023, surpassing the expected 3.5%, with GDP rising to 5.5 trillion Turkish liras.
  2. Turkish FM’s Ongoing Efforts to Resolve Grain Deal (Anadolu Agency). Lavrov demanded guarantees for Black Sea grain deal amid Western sanctions. Turkey and UN aim to revive it, Fidan optimistic about the new offer. Revival on Erdogan-Putin agenda, also discussing Syria. Turkish-Ukrainian ministers discuss grain initiative, reconstruction, and trade via video call. Oraloglu supports Ukraine’s transport investment.
  3. UAE-Turkey, UAE-Indonesia Economic Agreements Tomorrow (Europa Reporter). The United Arab Emirates will implement comprehensive economic partnership agreements with Turkey and Indonesia starting September 1, 2023. The agreements aim to open new markets and offer opportunities for Emirati exports and investments in these economically growing regions.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Sudan’s Peace Talks in Doha Amid Escalating Arms Trade (Al Nahar). Sudan’s FFC Delegation in Doha for Peace Talks amid Escalating Arms Trade. Sudan’s Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) engage in discussions to end the conflict, part of a regional tour after failed mediation attempts. The ongoing four-month conflict fuels a surge in arms trafficking along Sudan’s eastern border with Eritrea and Ethiopia. High demand and rising prices attract global smuggling networks as violence claims thousands of lives and displaces millions.
  2. Libyan Officials Deny Politicizing Israeli Meeting (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Hassan Al-Zarqa of Libya’s House of Representatives defends against claims that the government exploited a meeting between dismissed Foreign Minister Najla Al-Mangoush and Israel’s Yair Lapid for political gain. The meeting had sparked public outrage and led to Al-Mangoush’s dismissal.
  3. Egypt Inks Deal for 3GW West Sohag Wind Farm (Al Arabiya). Egypt collaborates with international consortium for a 3 GW wind farm in West Sohag, aiming to power 2 million homes, cut 6.5 million tons of CO2 annually, and generate 7,000 jobs. The deal advances Egypt’s renewable energy target for 2035.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Reported Presence of US Troops in Yemen’s Hadramout Region (Al Masirah). Heavily armed American military personnel have been spotted in Seiyun schools in Wadi Hadramout, eastern Yemen. The presence of a U.S. official, along with U.S. Marines and Saudis in armored vehicles, raised concerns as they were unaccompanied by any local Yemeni officials. The incident has sparked local discontent, viewed as a violation of Yemeni sovereignty and indicative of increased U.S. military activity in occupied southern Yemen.
  2. EU Envoy for Gulf Holds Security and Cybersecurity Talks in Qatar (Al-Khaleej Online). European Union’s Special Representative for the Gulf, Luigi Di Maio, met with Qatari officials, including the Minister of State for Interior Affairs and the Head of the Qatar National Agency for Cybersecurity. Discussions focused on issues of mutual interest and enhancing cooperation, particularly in the cybersecurity sector. The meetings aim to strengthen EU-Qatar relations and address regional challenges.
  3. Visit by GCC Secretary-General to Yemen After War (Klyoum). In a first since the Yemen war began in 2015, GCC Secretary-General Jasim Mohammed Al Badiwi visited Yemen to discuss a comprehensive political solution with Transitional Council President Rashad Al Alimi. The visit highlights renewed diplomatic efforts amid a stagnant crisis, following recent Saudi-Iranian reconciliation.
  4. Yemeni Joint Forces Intercept Houthi Cell Plotting to Sabotage Key Taiz Roadway (Hlaps). Yemeni joint forces have arrested a Houthi-affiliated terrorist cell that was attempting to plant explosives on the main road between the districts of Al-Bara and Al-Wazia in western Yemen, Taiz Governorate. The intelligence that led to the arrest was provided by the General Intelligence Division of the National Resistance.
  5. Houthi Rebels Block Indian and Singapore LPG Carriers from Loading Gas in Yemen (Trade Winds). Houthi rebels in Yemen prevented two LPG carriers, one from India and another from Singapore, from loading gas in Aden. The move aims to stop the Yemeni government from benefiting from high international gas prices.

LEBANON

  1. Amos Hochstein: Turning Border Disputes into a Vacation Activity! (Anahar). White House Senior Adviser Amos Hochstein discusses border demarcation with Lebanon and Israel. After visiting southern Lebanon, including recreational sites, he considers resolving the long-standing border dispute following 2022 maritime demarcation. Tensions in the Hizballah-held area prompt discussions on ending land border contention. UNIFIL hosts meetings to address obstacles hindering demarcation.
  2. UN Extends Peace Mission in Lebanon; Appeals for Ain al-Hilweh Funds (The New Arab). UN Extends Peace Mission in Lebanon; UNRWA Appeals for Ain al-Hilweh Camp Funds. Security Council prolongs UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s mission after compromise. Resolution 2695 passes with 13 votes, UAE included; Russia, China abstain. UNRWA seeks $15.5M for Ain al-Hilweh fallout, repairing infrastructure, schooling, cash aid. Refugee camp clash aftermath.

IRAQ

  1. Significant Visit of Iraqi Prime Minister to Iran’s Khuzestan Province (Mawazin). Khuzestan Province, Iran, to welcome Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani next week, announces Governor Ali Akbar Hussaini Mehrab. Significant visit includes inauguration of vital developmental projects, boosting regional ties.
  2. Gulf Keystone Petroleum Cuts Jobs Amid Halted Kurdistan Oil Exports (Al-Arabiya). Today, Thursday, Gulf Keystone Petroleum raised doubts about the continuity of its activity, after it announced that it had cut expatriate jobs by 55% to cut costs in light of the suspension of crude oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan.
  3. 3 Arrested, ISIS-Linked Ammunition Seized in Anbar (Al Iraqi news). Gulf Keystone Petroleum slashes expatriate jobs by 55% due to suspended crude oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan. The company mulls further job cuts and faces uncertainty after Iraq-Turkey pipeline halt. Its shares dropped 8% on the London Stock Exchange.

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