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Europeans brace for war in Lebanon with IDF drills, Erdogan's warning to Israel, and US speeding up arms shipments.

Europeans Brace for War in Lebanon; US Agrees to Speed Up Arms Shipments

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Top Headlines: 

  • European Nations to Evacuate Citizens from Lebanon
  • IDF Conducts Lebanon Combat Drills
  • US Will Accelerate Arms Shipments to Israel
  • US Says Egypt, UAE Ready to Join Postwar Gaza Force
  • Erdogan Supports Lebanon Against Israel’s ‘Aggressive Policies’

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ISRAEL-HEZBOLLAH CRISIS

  1. European Nations to Evacuate Citizens from Lebanon 

The ongoing escalation between Hezbollah and Israel has led to multiple international travel warnings and evacuations of internationals from Lebanon. The US, Russia, and Canada have advised their citizens to avoid the country. The Dutch Foreign Ministry recommended its Bynationals leave due to rising tensions, and Germany has urged immediate departure, citing risks of sudden escalation and terrorist attacks. North Macedonia was the first European country to call for its citizens to leave. Many nations are preparing evacuations amid fears of a potential all-out war.

  1. IDF Conducts Lebanon Combat Simulations 

In response to rising tensions on Israel’s northern border, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have conducted intensive military exercises simulating combat scenarios in Lebanon. The Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion and the 55th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade focused on maneuvers in challenging terrains to prepare for potential engagements. These drills are part of the Northern Command’s efforts to enhance readiness against daily attacks by Hezbollah. Israel has warned of possible military action if diplomatic efforts to address Hezbollah’s aggression fail.

  1. Israeli Attack Kills Hezbollah Member in Lebanon’s Bekaa

On Thursday, an Israeli attack in Sohmor, western Bekaa, Lebanon, killed Ali Ahmed Alaa El-Din, a Hezbollah member. Reports indicate Israel’s frequent use of internationally banned white phosphorus bombs has rendered a 5-kilometer border zone uninhabitable, damaging both Hezbollah military targets and civilian infrastructure. The Financial Times cited radar and satellite data showing significant destruction north of the UN-defined “Blue Line.” Over 3,000 homes have been destroyed, according to South Lebanon Council Chief Hashem Haidar, while Aita al-Shaab’s mayor, Muhammad Sorour, noted the targeting of essential infrastructure.

  1. Five Injured in Israeli Air Strike on Southern Lebanon

Five people were injured in an Israeli air strike on a building in Nabatieh, southern Lebanon, on Wednesday evening, according to the Lebanese National News Agency. This raid heightens concerns that the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could escalate into a broader war. Since October 7, Israel and Hezbollah have exchanged almost daily fire. Wednesday’s air strikes by Israel included about ten hits on border areas.

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Gallant and US Counterparts Announce Progress on Speeding up Arms Delivery to Israel

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the Biden administration announced progress in expediting arms deliveries to Israel, addressing previous “bottlenecks” in the process. However, the shipment of 2,000-pound bombs remains on hold due to concerns over their use in densely populated areas. Gallant criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu for publicly airing grievances, urging private resolution of disputes. The US acknowledged Gallant’s efforts and confirmed continued close cooperation. The delays were partly due to Israel’s changing needs and bureaucratic complexities. The US remains cautious about potential Israeli actions against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

  1. IDF Intensifies Operations in Gaza and Jenin

The IDF is conducting a ground operation in Shejaiya, Gaza, following intelligence reports. Residents were urged to evacuate. Meanwhile, in Jenin, Captain Alon Sacgiu was killed, and 17 soldiers were injured by explosive devices during a night operation. In Khan Younis, the IDF targeted Hamas operatives at a school using fighter jets and drones, emphasizing precision in the strike.

  1. Israeli Forces Intensify Assaults in North and South Gaza, Battle Hamas in Rafah

On Wednesday, Israeli forces intensified attacks across the Gaza Strip, with fierce fighting reported in Rafah. Clashes escalated in the Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood, where Israeli tanks attempted to advance north amid heavy resistance. Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters attacked Israeli forces with anti-tank rockets and mortars. In Rafah, where many had sought refuge, residents are fleeing again. Israeli airstrikes killed two Palestinians in Rafah and four in Beit Lahiya. The Israeli military claimed the killing of a Hamas militant involved in weapon smuggling and struck multiple militant targets overnight.

  1. Herzog and Netanyahu Tour Northern Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog visited northern Israel amidst escalating skirmishes with Hezbollah, which the UN warns could lead to an “apocalyptic” war. Netanyahu pledged victory in case of full-blown conflict, while Herzog criticized global inaction towards displaced Israelis. The IDF released footage of airstrikes on Hezbollah targets.

  1. Former Israeli Prime Minister Urges Citizens to Stay Amid National Crisis

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on Israelis not to leave the country, describing the current situation as the most challenging since 1948. He highlighted issues such as international boycotts, economic instability, and the ongoing conflict with Gaza. Bennett stressed the need for national unity and the importance of retaining talent to overcome these difficulties. Reports indicate over half a million Israelis have left since the conflict began on October 7.

  1. Israel Re-establishes Working Groups on Iran Nuclear Program

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reformed teams within the defense establishment, Foreign Ministry, and intelligence community to focus on Iran’s nuclear program. Concerns have risen that Iran might advance its nuclear technology during the U.S. presidential elections. Recent intelligence suggests Iran’s activities could accelerate weaponization. The teams, led by Mossad and Shin Bet, will address nuclear issues, influence operations, intelligence, cyber coordination, and regional activities. A high-level Israeli delegation will visit Washington in mid-July to discuss these concerns with U.S. officials.

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SYRIA

  1. Two Killed in Israeli Strikes Near Sayyida Zeinab in Damascus

Israeli air strikes near Sayyida Zeinab in the Damascus countryside killed two people and injured a soldier, according to Syrian media. The strikes caused violent explosions, with Syrian air defense responding by launching missiles. The targeted sites included a radar installation belonging to the Syrian army. These strikes are part of Israel’s ongoing efforts to prevent Iranian military presence in Syria. Israel typically does not comment on its operations in Syria.

  1. International Coalition Sends Military Reinforcements to Al-Hasakah Base

The International Coalition has transported military and logistical equipment, along with soldiers, to Kharab Al-Jeir Base in northern Al-Hasakah via a cargo plane from Iraq. US helicopters and drones patrolled the area during the operation. This follows previous reinforcements on May 13, aimed at fortifying the base against potential attacks. The Coalition continues to bolster its presence in northeastern Syria through both land and air deployments.

  1. Putin’s Syria Envoy Urges Assad to Normalize with Turkiye 

After he had bashed the Turkish president and his government in numerous speeches, Bashar Assad expressed openness to initiatives aimed at reviving ties with Türkiye. His comments came during a meeting with Russian Special Envoy Alexander Lavrentiev, who reaffirmed Russia’s support for normalizing Syrian-Turkish relations. Lavrentiev noted that conditions are more favorable for successful mediation, and Russia is ready to facilitate negotiations. Despite previous efforts involving Iran and Russia, reconciliation between Syria and Türkiye has stalled since early 2023.

  1. Revolutionary Guard Establishes Intelligence Headquarters to Investigate Security Leaks in Syria

Following the deaths of senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers in precise Israeli raids, the Revolutionary Guard has established an “Investigation and Follow-up intelligence entity in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, to address security leaks. The office, supervised by Unit 313 associated with Lebanese Hezbollah, aims to scrutinize local militia members’ backgrounds and prevent further infiltration. This effort is part of broader security measures to protect Iranian advisors and their operations. The first phase will review 1,500 militia members’ files, focusing on their affiliations and financial status, to mitigate threats and enhance operational security.

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IRAN

  1. Iranian Presidential Candidates Unite in Fear of Trump

As Iran’s presidential elections approach, candidates uniformly express concerns about dealing with a possible Trump presidency, considering his victory likely. The New York Times reports that discussions rarely mention current President Biden, despite his efforts to revive the nuclear deal. All candidates, except one conservative, support clerical rule and distancing from Western values. The economic impact of US sanctions and relations with the West are central campaign issues. Candidates propose various strategies, from negotiating with Western countries to strengthening ties with China and Russia, to mitigate economic hardships caused by sanctions.

  1. Iran Unveils Aircraft Similar to C-130 Transport Plane

The Iranian Air Force has revealed a new aircraft resembling the C-130 transport aircraft at Shahid Doran base in Shiraz. Air Force Commander Amir Hamid Vahidi, during his visit to the base, emphasized the progress and development of the Air Force, crediting the efforts of scientists and young elites. Vahidi praised the support for the C-130 simulation project and encouraged active participation in the upcoming presidential elections. During his visit, he also toured the technical and engineering achievements exhibition, the shooting hall, the strike building, and opened the base control center.

  1. MeK Says Iranian Regime Hides Nuclear Weapons Development in University to Evade Sanctions

A report by the Iranian resistance group NCRI (aka the Mujahideen e Khalq, or MeK) alleges that Iran has shifted its nuclear weapons development to Islamic Azad University to avoid U.S. sanctions. The NCRI claims Iran’s nuclear program, overseen by the IRGC, has continued under the guise of academic research. The report highlights figures like Mohammad Medhi Tehranchi and Jamshid Sabbaghzadeh, who have ties to both the university and Iran’s nuclear weapons projects. The NCRI criticizes Western leniency and calls for regime change to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions and broader aggressive policies.

  1. Iran and Bahrain Begin Talks to Release Blocked Iranian Assets

Banking officials from Iran and Bahrain have initiated negotiations to release the blocked assets of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and other Iranian banks in Bahrain. The talks, which began on the sidelines of the 50th Annual Islamic Development Bank meeting in Riyadh, are focused on removing barriers and ensuring the release of Iran’s foreign exchange reserves in Bahrain. Both sides emphasized mutual respect and expressed optimism about a positive outcome. These discussions precede an upcoming visit by Bahrain’s foreign minister to Tehran.

  1. OpenAI Halts ChatGPT Access in China, Russia, and Iran

OpenAI is set to cut off access to its services for users in China, Russia, and Iran by July 9. The company did not explain its decision but has previously disrupted influence campaigns and cybercrime operations originating from these countries. The U.S. government is also restricting access to U.S.-manufactured AI technology. This action may affect American companies using OpenAI’s services in these regions. OpenAI recently targeted covert influence operations and malicious activities from these countries, aligning with U.S. efforts to curb China’s rise in the AI industry.

  1. Iran and Russia Sign MoU for Energy Cooperation

Iran and Russia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the transfer of Russian gas to Iran, marking a significant step towards establishing Iran as a regional gas hub. This agreement, signed in Tehran by Iran’s oil minister and a special representative of the Russian Federation, aims to enhance bilateral cooperation in the gas sector. Iran’s Acting President Mohammad Mokhber highlighted the strategic importance of this MoU for regional security and economic improvement. The agreement also emphasizes the development of the north-south corridor and the Rasht-Bandar Abbas railway to connect regional countries.

  1. Iranian Non-Oil Exports Increase by 40% Over Four Years

The Iranian Customs Administration reported a 40% increase in non-oil exports over the past Iranian year compared to four years ago. The total volume of non-oil trade rose from $74 billion to $116 billion, a 57% growth. The value of non-oil exports grew from $35 billion to $49 billion in the same period. Additionally, Iran’s foreign trade with neighboring countries reached over $61 billion, reflecting a 10% increase.

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YEMEN

  1. Another Ship Attacked off Yemeni Coast; No Casualties Reported

British maritime security company Ambrey reported a maritime incident 84 nautical miles west of Hodeidah, Yemen, where a ship was hit by a projectile.

  1. Houthis and Iraqi Groups Claim Another Attack on Israeli Ship in Haifa

The US Central Command (Centcom) reported the destruction of a Houthi radar site in Yemen, deemed an imminent threat to US and coalition forces, as well as commercial ships. This action aimed to ensure the safety of international waters. Meanwhile, the Yemeni Houthi group announced another attack on a ship in the Israeli port of Haifa, in collaboration with Iraqi militias. The targeted ship, MSC Manzanillo, marks the second attack in three days, following a similar operation on four ships in Haifa.

  1. Yemen Releases Footage of Hypersonic Missile Strike on Ship

Yemen’s Armed Forces released footage of a “hypersonic ballistic missile” attack in the Arabian Sea on the ship MSC SARAH V, a vessel the Houthis claimed is Israeli. The missile, named “Hatem-2,” was revealed for the first time in the video, showcasing its solid-fuel propulsion, intelligent control system, and maneuverability.

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IRAQ

  1. Al-Sudani Receives NATO Mission Commander in Iraq

On June 27, 2024, Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani met with General Lucas Schroers, the newly appointed Commander of NATO’s mission in Iraq. Discussions focused on regional security, mission efforts, and cooperation with Iraqi security institutions in advisory, training, and intelligence coordination to combat ISIS remnants. Al-Sudani emphasized enhancing bilateral cooperation in training and information coordination with Iraqi forces to bolster regional security. General Schroers expressed gratitude for the Iraqi government’s support and facilities provided for NATO’s mission.

  1. Iraq Announces Security Plan for Borders with Türkiye and Iran

The Iraqi Interior Ministry has unveiled an eight-phase plan to enhance border security with Türkiye and Iran. Senior official Mohammed al-Saeedi detailed strategies, including two phases with Türkiye and six with Iran. Iraq has started securing a 300-kilometer stretch along its 1,493-kilometer border with Iran, focusing on areas with PKK presence. Recent meetings between Türkiye and Iraq led to the PKK’s designation as a banned entity. The plan includes creating a joint coordination center and constructing 27 border posts along Iraq’s border with Türkiye to prevent terrorist threats.

  1. Al-Sudani Holds Farewell Meeting with Departing US Ambassador Romanowski

Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani held a farewell meeting with US Ambassador Alina Romanowski, discussing the ongoing dialogue to end the international coalition’s mission in Iraq and the situation in Gaza. This meeting marks a significant moment in Iraqi-American relations, as Romanowski played a crucial role in Al-Sudani’s government formation. Tracy Jacobson is set to succeed Romanowski, likely bringing a firmer stance on regional security issues, particularly regarding Iranian-backed armed factions. Jacobson’s appointment may lead to increased American pressure on Iraq to counter Iranian influence, impacting future bilateral relations.

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 THE GULF

  1. UAE and Syrian Foreign Ministers Discuss Bilateral Relations in Abu Dhabi

Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Miqdad in Abu Dhabi to discuss regional and international developments. The UAE Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of joint Arab action for regional stability and security. The ministers also explored ways to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation in various sectors, including development, according to the Emirates News Agency, WAM.

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 EGYPT

  1. Blinken Says Egypt, UAE Ready to Join Postwar Gaza Security Force

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that Egypt and the UAE are prepared to join a postwar Gaza security force, provided certain conditions are met. These conditions include linking the initiative to a future Palestinian state and ensuring US involvement. The US plans to help establish and train the force, aiming for eventual Palestinian Authority control over Gaza. The initiative follows ongoing efforts by the US to secure Arab allies’ support and address governance, security, and reconstruction post-conflict. Discussions continue with regional partners, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive and sustainable solution for Gaza.

  1. Power Outage Crisis Delays Egyptian Cabinet Reshuffle

A widespread power outage in Egypt has delayed the announcement of a new government, with growing public anger over prolonged blackouts exacerbating the situation. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has pressured the government for quick solutions, forming a crisis cell within the Council of Ministers. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly attributed the outage to a gas supply disruption from Israel. Amid intense heat, criticism has mounted, with calls for accountability from officials. The reshuffle, initially planned after Madbouly’s resignation on June 3, has been postponed as the government addresses the crisis.

  1. Egypt and Turkey Arrange First Strategic Council Meeting

Egypt and Turkey are preparing for the first meeting of their Strategic Council, following discussions between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan. They addressed bilateral relations and regional issues, particularly the Gaza crisis, stressing the need for increased humanitarian aid and an immediate ceasefire. Both nations warned of potential regional instability due to Israeli-Lebanese tensions. The talks follow a visit by Shoukry to Turkey in April and the recent elevation of diplomatic relations to ambassadorial level, restoring ties disrupted since 2013.

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 TURKIYE

  1. Erdogan Says Türkiye Supports Lebanon Against Israel’s ‘Aggressive Policies’

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed Türkiye’s support for Lebanon against Israel’s “aggressive policies” during a call with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Western powers of supporting Israel’s alleged plans to attack Lebanon, warning that such actions could lead to widespread disaster. Addressing his party, Erdogan criticized Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s intentions to expand the conflict and condemned Western nations for backing Israel. He called on Islamic countries to take a stand against the violence.

  1. Turkey Claims Neutralization of Senior PKK Leader in Syria

The National Intelligence Organization (MİT) of Turkey neutralized Ali Dinçer, the PKK’s leader in Syria’s Jazira region, in an operation in Qamishli. Dinçer, known by his code name “Orhan Bingöl,” was wanted by Interpol and involved in numerous attacks since joining the PKK in 1991. He led deadly operations, including attacks in Bingöl and Hakkari, resulting in multiple casualties.

  1. Türkiye to Launch First Indigenous Communications Satellite, Turksat 6A

In mid-July, Türkiye will launch its first indigenous communications satellite, Turksat 6A, marking a significant milestone in its National Space Program. This launch positions Türkiye among nations capable of developing their own communications satellites. Since its initial foray into space with Turksat 1A in 1994, Türkiye has progressively expanded its satellite capabilities. Turksat 6A will offer services to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and most of Asia. Alongside communications satellites, Türkiye also has a history of launching observation and intelligence satellites, including the recent indigenous observation satellite Imece.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 26, 2024

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 25, 2024

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 24, 2024

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