THE EARLY PHOENIX – Sept 22, 2023

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★ Iran Escalates Policies Domestically, Internationally Across Multiple Fronts
★ Sudanese Rift, Libyan Crisis, and Egypt’s Diplomacy Signal Shifting Landscape in North Africa
★ Israel-Palestinian Territories: GPS Jamming and Erez Closure Exacerbate Tensions, Leaders Divided on Peace Path
★ Turkey Navigates Economic Upswing and Security Issues with U.S., Israel, and Black Sea Developments
★ McGurk Dictates U.S. Investment Rules in Meeting with Iraq PM


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  1. Iran Sentences Tajik Man to Death for Shah Cheragh Shooting (Times of Israel). An Iranian court sentenced Tajik national Rahmatollah Nowruzof to death for a fatal shooting at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum. Convicted on charges including “waging war against God,” Nowruzof was one of nine suspects in the attack, which killed two and injured seven. The attack is the second at the Shiite site in less than a year. Two other suspects received five-year sentences and deportation orders. International condemnation followed the attack.
  2. UK Probes 21 Academics Over Suspected Iran Military Collaboration (The Jewish Chronicle). UK government investigators are compiling evidence against 21 UK-based academics suspected of aiding Iran’s development of military and dual-use technology. The probe, initiated by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, was spurred by investigations revealing research collaborations between UK scientists and Iran with potential military applications. The investigation involves officials from various UK departments, including the Department for Business and Trade and the Ministry of Defence. Universities implicated in the collaboration have denied wrongdoing. Convictions could lead to £1 million fines and up to seven years’ imprisonment.
  3. Iranian Hackers Target Israeli Jobseekers in Cyberattack Leaking Personal Info (Jerusalem Post). Israel’s National Cyber Directorate has uncovered an Iranian cyberattack aimed at job seekers in the country. The attackers sent fake messages via job search websites, directing users to malicious links designed to activate the device’s camera and record login details. The links used were subtly altered versions of the official URLs. The personal information leaked includes ID card photos and resume files. Israel’s Privacy Protection Authority has urged caution and recommended direct URL entry instead of clicking links. The alert comes after a similar phishing attempt in July targeting Israeli researchers and civil servants.
  4. Iran’s Ideological Expansion: From Women’s Oppression at Home to Influence Over Iraq’s Religious Leadership (Iran International). While Iran dismisses women-led protests and enforces stringent hijab laws, its ideological footprint also extends into Iraq. The stripping of Chaldean Catholic Cardinal Louis Sako’s title, allegedly influenced by an Iran-affiliated militia leader, indicates Tehran’s growing influence in Iraq’s religious and political spheres.



  1. Sudanese Leaders Al-Burhan and Hemedti Clash at UN as Calls to Boycott Al-Burhan’s Speech Intensify (Al Hadath). Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, commander of the Rapid Support Forces, expressed readiness for a ceasefire and political talks in a UN message. In contrast, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Sudanese Army Commander, accused the Rapid Support Forces of war crimes and affiliations with “terrorist groups” in his UN address. Both leaders highlighted opposing perspectives on the ongoing conflict and held each other responsible. A group known as the “Platform of Independent Sudanese Diplomats Against the War” urged UN delegations to leave the hall when Al-Burhan spoke, underlining diplomatic resistance to his leadership.
  2. Over 43,000 Displaced, 3,300 Dead in Eastern Libya Following Storm Daniel’s Devastation (France 24). The International Organization for Migration reports that more than 43,000 people have been displaced in eastern Libya, particularly in Derna, following the catastrophic impact of Storm Daniel. The storm, which occurred on the night of September 10-11, has also resulted in over 3,300 deaths. The Libyan authorities had warned against using local water supplies, suspecting contamination. United Nations agencies are working to prevent a secondary crisis related to waterborne diseases. The urgent needs for the displaced include food, fresh water, and mental health support.
  3. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Discusses Bilateral Relations in High-Profile Meetings, Details Talks with Iran (Al Arabiya ). Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, met with his counterparts from Israel, South Africa, NATO, the European Commission for Home Affairs and Migration, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Uganda, and Iran. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry released a statement explaining that Sameh Shoukry met with the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hussein Amir Abdollahian, at the headquarters of Egypt’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. The discussion involved a roadmap aimed at normalizing bilateral relations. 



  1. Israel Reports GPS Jamming from Syria and Lebanon, Strikes Syrian Golan Heights Structures (Annahar). Israel faces increased GPS interference affecting Ben Gurion Airport, with suspicions pointing towards Syria and Lebanon as the source. The issue has escalated in recent months but has not jeopardized air safety, according to Israeli authorities. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched tank strikes on two structures in the Syrian Golan Heights, citing violations of the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement. The IDF held the Syrian regime responsible for the violations and stressed it would not tolerate breaches of Israeli sovereignty. 
  2. Abbas Appeals to UN, Hamas Rejects Normalization, Israel Closes Erez Crossing (Al Hadath). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the UN to host a peace conference, stating no peace is possible without Palestinian rights. Hamas denounced any normalization efforts with Israel and cited concerns over Al-Aqsa Mosque. In response to violent border protests, Israel extended the closure of the Erez Crossing, affecting Gaza’s economy and humanitarian conditions. 



  1. Saudi FM Calls for UN Security Council Reform, Warns of Armed Groups (Sharq al Awsat). Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan called for UN Security Council reforms for more inclusive global crisis response at the 78th UN General Assembly. He also warned of the escalating threats from armed groups operating outside state control, urging immediate Security Council action.



  1. Turkey Boosts Economic and Energy Ties with U.S. and Israel, Sets Multi-Billion Dollar Trade and Investment Goals (Anadolu Agency). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that last year, trade between the U.S. and Turkey surpassed $32 billion, a 15% increase, with direct U.S. investments in Turkey totaling $14.4 billion. He also announced a new energy partnership with Israel and mutual visits between the nations. The current trade volume between Turkey and Israel is $9.5 billion, with an agreement to elevate it to at least $15 billion.
  2. Massive Drug Bust in Istanbul Seizes 2.4 Million Captagon Pills Valued at $6.6 Million (Hurriyet). Turkish law enforcement agencies seized narcotics worth 180 million Turkish Liras ($6.6 million) at Istanbul’s Ambarlı port. The operation was initiated on a suspicious container destined for foreign shores, revealing 2.4 million captagon pills. Immediate investigations are underway. Concurrent operations in İzmir and Diyarbakır led to multiple detentions and further drug confiscations.
  3. First Ukrainian Grain Ship Reaches Turkey’s Bosporus Following Russia’s Black Sea Deal Exit (Al Monitor). The first grain vessel to leave Ukraine since Russia’s withdrawal from a Black Sea grain deal arrived in Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait. The Palau-flagged ship, carrying over 3,000 tons of wheat, departed from Ukraine’s Odessa port, where Russian forces have escalated attacks after refusing to renew the grain deal. Turkey, which helped broker the original agreement, remains hesitant to establish an alternative route without Russian participation. Meanwhile, Ukraine is seeking to establish a new grain corridor, in talks with both Washington and Ankara.



  1. King Abdullah II Questions Assad’s Control Over Syria Amid Smuggling Concerns and Regional Tensions (Aleppo Today). Jordanian Foreign Minister Al-Safadi held meetings with U.S., German, and Russian counterparts to discuss various issues including the Palestinian issue, the Syrian crisis, and refugee problems. Meanwhile, King Abdullah II expressed doubts about Bashar al-Assad’s control over Syria during a summit in New York. The King emphasized the risk posed by drug and weapon smuggling from Syria into Jordan and mentioned that Iran and factions within the Assad regime are benefiting from the drug trade. He also warned of a new influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan and Lebanon.
  2. U.S. Condemns China’s Warm Reception of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as Beijing Looks to Deepen Bilateral Relations (Syria TV). Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Michael McCaul, criticized China for hosting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, calling Assad a “brutal war criminal.” McCaul’s condemnation underscores U.S. concerns about China’s growing influence in Syria, as well as its alliance with countries like Russia and Iran. On the other hand, China aims to push relations with Assad to a “new level,” according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning. She stressed the traditional friendship between China and Assad and highlighted that President Xi Jinping and other officials would engage in extensive discussions with Assad on bilateral relations and mutual concerns.
  3. Iran Schedules Astana Format Meeting with Russia, Turkey in New York Amid UN General Assembly (Syria TV). Iran has scheduled an Astana format meeting to be held in New York, alongside the United Nations General Assembly, involving Russia and Turkey. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Minister Mikhail Bogdanov indicated that preparations are also underway for the 21st Astana meeting. The session will involve the guarantor states Russia, Turkey, and Iran, and will include delegations from both the Syrian regime and the opposition.



  1. Iraqi PM Discusses U.S. Investment in Infrastructure with White House Coordinator (Al Iraq News). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani met with U.S. White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, at the 78th U.N. General Assembly. McGurk reiterated the United States’ commitment to assisting Iraq in its ongoing reforms, particularly in the realms of infrastructure reconstruction and anti-corruption measures. The U.S. also pledged continued advisory support and training for Iraqi security forces in their fight against ISIS. This commitment falls under the broader Strategic Framework Agreement between the two nations.



  1. Arrest Rumors Swirl Around Ex-Antiquities Guard Over Israel Ties (Janoubia). Rumors are circulating about the arrest of a man identified as H. Zidane for suspected dealings with Israel. Zidane, who was previously employed as a guard at Tire al-Bahriyya antiquities, was dismissed five years ago due to his general behavior. Security sources have not officially confirmed these allegations.


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