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THE EARLY PHOENIX – Sept 21, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

★ US-Libya Discuss Post-Hurricane Strains
★ Assad, Asma, and Luna Trip to China as Syrians Protest in Chinese
★ Fidan Boosts Turkiye-EU Visa Talks at UNGA
★ Rep. Wilson Backs Suwayda Uprising
★ Netanyahu’s UNGA Triumph

Currencies:

$1
SYRIA 13,700 SYP
IRAN 49,200 IRR
IRAQ 1,3018  IQD
EGYPT 30 EGP
TURKIYE 27,2 TL
ISRAEL 3,8 ILS

IRAN

  1. Iran and Turkiye Conduct Six-Prisoner Swap at Bazargan Border Crossing (Xinhua). Iran and Turkiye exchanged six prisoners—three Iranians and three Turks—at the Bazargan border. The exchange followed a meeting in Ankara between Iranian and Turkish justice officials, part of ongoing bilateral humanitarian efforts to repatriate eligible imprisoned nationals. Earlier this year, Iran’s deputy justice minister noted 2,800 out of 4,000 Iranians imprisoned abroad are in Turkiye.

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EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. US, Libya Tackle Political Strains, Damage After Hurricane Daniel (Sharq al Awsat). US officials visit Tripoli to offer disaster relief and support for national unity following Hurricane Daniel, which led to extensive damage and loss of life in eastern Libya, particularly Derna. Meanwhile, Libya’s “stability” government faces allegations of politicizing the crisis and hindering aid efforts. Infrastructure and educational institutions in affected areas report severe damage, prompting both internal and international calls for coordinated relief and accountability. 
  2. King Mohammed VI Unveils $13 Billion, 5-Year Earthquake Rehabilitation Plan for Morocco (Al Yaoum 24). King Mohammed VI of Morocco has announced a 5-year, 120-billion dirham ($13 billion) plan aimed at reconstructing areas affected by the Al Haouz earthquake. Covering six regions and targeting 4.2 million people, the multi-sectoral program focuses on housing rehabilitation, infrastructure, social and economic development, and disaster preparedness. The King emphasized the importance of local input, environmental considerations, and exemplary governance, and pledged 2 billion dirhams from the Hassan II Fund for its financing.
  3. As Sudan Faces Unrest, Al-Burhan Takes UN Stage: A Move Toward Political Legitimacy? (Sudan Tribune). Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan attends the UN General Assembly, eyeing political legitimacy. Meanwhile, escalating clashes between the army and Rapid Support Forces grip Sudan. International stakeholders amplify calls for urgent action to alleviate the crisis.
  4. Egypt Gears Up for Presidential Elections: Key Details to Be Announced Soon (Al Hadath). Ahmed Bandari of Egypt’s National Elections Authority will announce the presidential election timetable on September 25. The authority emphasizes neutrality and judicial oversight. Various parties support the unannounced candidate, President El-Sisi.
  5. Egypt Accelerates Economic Growth with Multi-Sector Investments in Natural Gas, Tire Manufacturing, and Oil Exploration (Youm7). The Egyptian Council of Ministers has approved a series of economic initiatives to bolster various sectors. These include a golden license for a project to enhance natural gas production, a €1 billion investment in a tire factory in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and a partnership between Shell and KUFPEC for oil and natural gas exploration in the Nile Delta.

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THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. GCC Foreign Ministers, Blinken Urge Iran to Cooperate with IAEA (Al Jazeera). This follows the IAEA’s criticism of Iran for limiting inspector access, which Iran defends as a response to politicization by the U.S. and European nations.
  2. Saudi Crown Prince Talks Nuclear Policy and U.S. Ties in Fox News Interview (AL Hadath). Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warns Saudi Arabia would match Iran’s nuclear capability and underscores a “special relationship” with President Biden in a recent interview.

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. IDF Rolls Out AI-Enhanced Barak Tank, Revolutionizes Armored Warfare (Jerusalem Post). The IDF has integrated its cutting-edge Barak tank into the Armored Corps. Developed over five years, the AI-powered tank features advanced targeting and monitoring systems. It aims to simplify tasks for soldiers while optimizing battlefield operations. The tank will undergo a training phase before participating in active operations.
  2. Netanyahu Achieves Diplomatic Milestones at UNGA Amid Controversy: Israel Advances Key Relations While Ambassador Arrested (Jerusalem Post).  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advanced key diplomatic goals at the UNGA summit, notably with Saudi Arabia and Turkiye. Meetings with US President Biden and Turkish President Erdogan highlighted potential for security pacts and mutual visits. Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan faced arrest at the UNGA for protesting Iranian women’s rights issues during Raisi’s speech.

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TURKIYE

  1. Turkiye-Africa Trade Volume Reaches $40.7 Billion (Daily Sabah). The announcement came at the 9th World Cooperation Industries Forum in Istanbul. It was revealed that Turkish companies employ 100,000 people in Africa.
  2. Fidan Advances Turkiye-EU Relations with Key Visa and Migration Talks at UNGA (Daily Sabah). Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson at the UNGA to discuss visa liberalization and irregular migration. The talks are part of Turkiye’s ongoing efforts to eliminate visa requirements for its citizens traveling to the EU. Of the 72 criteria in the Turkiye-EU Readmission Agreement, Turkiye has already met 66, making significant strides towards fulfilling the agreement’s terms.
  3. Erdoğan Backs Azerbaijan’s Karabakh Anti-Terror Ops at UNGA (Hurriyet). Turkish President Erdoğan endorsed Azerbaijan’s anti-terror actions in Karabakh during his U.N. General Assembly speech. He emphasized territorial integrity and called for Armenia to engage in peace initiatives. Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev lauded the “strategic alliance” between the two nations.

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SYRIA

  1. Rep. Joe Wilson Assures Support for Druze Leader During Suwayda Uprising (Syria TV). A phone call between the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee for the Middle East and Sheikh Hikmat Al-Hijri confirmed bipartisan U.S. support for the peaceful uprising in Suwayda. The call follows similar outreach by other American representatives. Meanwhile, Deputy Assistant Secretary Ethan Goldrich stated it is important for the Suwayda movement to continue against the Assad regime. 
  2. Smooth Skies: No Hair-Pulling Between Asma and Luna on Flight to China While Syrians on Ground Respond in Chinese (Sharq al Awsat).  On the 31st day in a row, against the backdrop of continued deteriorating living conditions, and in response to Assad’s trip to China to attend the Asian Olympics opening ceremony, Syrians in the southern province of Sweida took to the streets with banners written in Chinese. They demanded the implementation of UN Resolution 2254, the immediate release of all prisoners of opinion, and the restoration of the state and its institutions. The Assad regime’s media reported that the schedule for Bashar, his wife, and Luna Shibl visit to China includes political and economic activities. Luna wrote on her verified Facebook account, “Syria-China: The Silk Road Passes Through Syria,” signifying Syria’s geographic strategic importance for reviving the Silk Road to Europe. No reports of hair-pulling, face-shredding, or catfighting between Asma, the wife and Luna were revealed during the flight.

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IRAQ

  1. Iraq Takes Steps to Align with Iran on Border Security, Confronts Turkiye Over Air Strikes (Al Jazeera). Iraq disarms anti-Iran groups, relocates them from the border; move follows a security agreement between Iraq, Iran, and Erbil. Iranian Revolutionary Guard warns of consequences if Iraq doesn’t disarm opposition groups, despite recent evacuations near the Iran-Iraq border. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Army denounces Turkish strikes, declares the right to take appropriate countermeasures.

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LEBANON

  1. Qatari Envoy in Beirut to Mediate Presidential Crisis as International Divides Surface (Lebanon 24). The envoy’s visit comes after a five-year committee was tasked with finding a solution. The meeting revealed differences between France and the U.S., Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. No candidate names were discussed, and the meeting concluded quickly due to these differences. A final statement from the committee has yet to be released, but the U.S. is pushing for a specific election timeline.

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For Inquiries please contact: rkisar@americancenter.org

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