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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claims over 100,000 fighters are prepared for war with Israel, increasing regional tensions.

Iran and Its Proxies Rattle Sabers in Lebanon, Red Sea, Iraq, and Nuclear Facilities

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Top Headlines: 

  • Nasrallah Claims Over 100,000 Hezbollah Fighters Prepared for War with Israel
  • IAEA Says Iran Will Triple Uranium Enrichment Capacity at Fordow Plant
  • Netanyahu Agrees to Include Ben Gvir in Ministerial Security Body
  • Iran-Backed Militias Threaten to Resume Attacks on US Bases in Iraq
  • Israeli Media Says Qatar Considered Sanctions to Force Hamas to Resume Ceasefire Talks

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LEBANON

  1. Nasrallah Claims Over 100,000 Hezbollah Fighters Prepared for War with Israel

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah dismissed Israel’s warnings of a full-scale war, asserting that over 100,000 Hezbollah fighters are ready to fight Israel. Speaking at a memorial for fallen commanders, Nasrallah warned that if Israel pursues total war, Hezbollah will respond with ground, air, and sea attacks, drastically altering the Mediterranean landscape. He emphasized Hezbollah’s commitment to supporting Palestinians in Gaza and demanded a permanent ceasefire. Despite Israeli warnings, including from Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Nasrallah claimed Israel’s military has shown vulnerabilities and an inability to defeat Hamas in Gaza.

  1. Israeli Drone Strikes Kill Key Hezbollah Operatives in Southern Lebanon

Israeli forces conducted airstrikes in southern Lebanon, targeting six Hezbollah members and resulting in the deaths of key figures, including senior leader Fadi Ibrahim and Hadi Jamil, the son of another Hezbollah leader. Hezbollah announced the death of Abbas Ibrahim Hamadeh, a commander responsible for operations in Jouaiyya, killed by an Israeli drone strike in Deir Kifa. Ibrahim was involved in planning attacks against Israel and enhancing Hezbollah’s ground combat capabilities in southern Lebanon. In another strike, an Israeli aircraft targeted a Hezbollah surface-to-air missile launcher in Rihan. Lebanese media reported a second car explosion in Houmine al-Faouqa, likely caused by an Israeli drone, killing Hadi Muhammad Jameh, a Hezbollah operative and son of Sheikh Muhammad Jameh. Unofficial reports indicate several casualties from another drone strike in Hanouiyeh. Later today, the IDF reported that 20 rockets were launched from Lebanon at the Western Galilee, causing no injuries as they struck open areas.

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Netanyahu Agrees to Include Ben Gvir in Ministerial Security Body

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to establish a mini-ministerial security body that includes National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. This decision follows disputes between Netanyahu and Ben Gvir, with the Likud Party accusing Ben Gvir of leaking state secrets. In response, Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power party suggested lie detector tests for government members, including Netanyahu. Ben Gvir, previously excluded from decision-making circles, demanded a partnership in managing the war and threatened to leave the government if the campaign against Hamas was halted. 

  1. IDF Eliminates Hamas Sniper Commander in Northern Gaza Raid

An Israeli airstrike, coordinated with the Shin Bet security agency, killed Ahmed Hassan Salmi al-Sawarka, a Hamas sniper commander, in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza. Al-Sawarka, a leader in Hamas’ elite Nukhba force, participated in raids on Israeli communities and directed sniper operations against IDF forces. The IDF’s 414 unit identified him after prolonged surveillance and said no civilians were harmed during the strike. Concurrently, the IDF’s 99th Division neutralized a mortar position, while the 162nd Division conducted operations in Rafah, eliminating multiple terrorists and discovering rocket launchers.

  1. Biden Administration Pessimistic About Israel-Hamas Ceasefire as Israel-US Arms Dispute Persists

The Biden administration is increasingly pessimistic about achieving a comprehensive ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, despite initial agreements on early conditions for a cease fire. Additionally, tensions over Israel’s Gaza war continued as top advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tzachi Hanegbi and Ron Dermer, prepared to meet U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday. The broader US-Israeli strategic dialogue meeting is being rescheduled after Netanyahu accused the Biden administration of slowing the delivery of vital munitions to Israel.

  1. Israel’s FM Accuses UN Chief of Misleading Global Public Opinion

Foreign Minister Israel Katz has sharply criticized UN Secretary-General António Guterres, accusing the UN of distorting data about aid Israel delivers to Gaza. In a letter, Katz highlighted significant discrepancies, such as omitting over 8,999 aid trucks and distorting figures of Palestinian casualties. Katz demanded corrections and a formal apology from the UN chief for spreading misleading information and said history will judge Guterres for the moral failings of the UN under his leadership. Katz accused UN agencies of selectively reporting data to shape global opinion against Israel.

  1. Hostage Families, Protesters Block Tel Aviv Highway, Demand Ceasefire

On Thursday, families of hostages held in Gaza joined protesters blocking the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, marking the fifth day of the “week of resistance.” Demonstrators demanded Israel agree to a ceasefire deal with Hamas and to an exchange of Israeli captives for Palestinian prisoners. The protests, spurred by the resignation of Benny Gantz from Israel’s war cabinet, also called for fresh elections. Likud lawmaker Nissim Vaturi labeled the movement “an arm of Hamas,” while police responses faced criticism for alleged brutality.

  1. Netanyahu Criticizes IDF Spokesman for Saying Hamas Ideology Cannot be Destroyed

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari after Hagari stated that Hamas, as an ideology, cannot be destroyed and that Israel must find an alternative in Gaza. Hagari’s remarks, made in an interview with Channel 13, suggested that claiming otherwise misleads the public. Netanyahu’s office emphasized that the government aims to destroy Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities. The IDF clarified its commitment to these objectives, reiterating that Hagari’s comments referred specifically to the ideological aspect of Hamas.

  1. Israeli Officials Return to Qatar for Hostage Deal Negotiations

Israeli negotiators visited Qatar this week to address discrepancies in the hostage deal outline proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden, according to Elaph Arabic news outlet. The discussions focused on the number of hostages to be released in the first phase of the proposed cease fire agreement. Reports suggest the number of living captives might be as low as 50.

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IRAN

  1. IAEA Says Iran Will Triple Uranium Enrichment Capacity at Fordow Plant

Iran plans to triple or quadruple its uranium enrichment at the Fordow facility, with 1,400 advanced IR-6 centrifuges increasing enrichment capacity by 360%. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed new construction at the plant, and experts indicate the additional centrifuges could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for five nuclear weapons within a month. The United States and European nations have condemned this expansion, while Iran remains defiant, asserting its determination to advance its nuclear program.

  1. Iran Urges Hamas to Intensify Resistance Against Israel

Iran’s Acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri met with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Doha and urged Hamas to use all its capacity to impose costs on Israel. Bagheri said that resistance against Israel should extend beyond armed confrontation. Bagheri’s statements underscore Iran’s support for increasing pressure on Israel. Concurrently, the Israeli Foreign Minister warned that Iran must be stopped “before it’s too late.”

  1. Revolutionary Guards’ Influence Evident Among Iranian Election Candidates

Although the IRGC spokesperson claims neutrality in Iran’s elections, most candidates in Iran’s impending presidential election have deep ties to the organization. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf’s long IRGC career includes high-ranking positions and actions benefiting IRGC interests, like replacing the Central Bank head. Alireza Zakani, though not a military figure, led the IRGC’s Student Basij Organization and has been involved in IRGC-backed initiatives. Saeed Jalili’s campaign is managed by IRGC-linked individuals. Mostafa Pourmohammadi’s IRGC ties date back to the Islamic Republic’s 1988 execution campaign against political opponents. Even reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian has been wearing an IRGC uniform in solidarity, highlighting the organization’s entrenched influence in the Iranian political system.

  1. US Elections Influence Iran’s Oil Sales, Former Iranian Official Says

Mehdi Hosseini, Iran’s former Deputy Minister of Oil, revealed that Tehran’s oil sales increased under the Biden administration, aligning with Biden’s interest in maintaining low fuel prices before US elections. Former Foreign Minister Javad Zarif noted that the US permitted Iran to bypass sanctions and export oil over the past three years. Despite Iranian hardliners claiming credit for Iran’s increased oil exports, data suggests that the White House’s relaxed enforcement of sanctions is what has enabled Iran’s oil export surge, particularly to China, generating significant revenue for Iran’s economy.

  1. UN Report: Iran’s Genocide and Ongoing Oppression Unveiled

A UN report by Special Rapporteur Javaid Rehman accuses the Iranian regime of committing genocide and crimes against humanity during its 1980s political purges. The regime’s “death committee,” which ordered the execution of thousands of the regime’s political opponents, included the recently deceased president Ebrahim Raisi, who oversaw the executions. Rehman links these past atrocities to the regime’s ongoing human rights violations, highlighting Iran’s continuous terror on its citizens and the world. The report aims to challenge the impunity of Iranian officials and calls for international accountability.

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SYRIA

  1. America Announces the Killing of Senior ISIS Leader in Afrin

The US Central Command reported that ISIS leader Osama Jamal Muhammad Ibrahim al-Janabi was killed in an airstrike in Afrin, northern Syria. The raid, conducted last Sunday, targeted Al-Janabi, who used the alias Ahmed Al-Hussein and posed as a displaced person from Homs. Al-Janabi, also known as Abu Laith al-Janabi, managed equipment for ISIS. The strike occurred near the Kuwait Al-Rahma camp in the Turkish-protected “Operation Olive Branch” area. The Syrian Civil Defense Organization confirmed the death following the US drone attack.

  1. Jordan Shoots Down Drug-Laden Drone Near Syrian Border

On June 19, Jordanian authorities shot down a drone carrying narcotics before it entered Jordan from Syria. The Jordanian Army’s Northern Military District intercepted the drone, seizing a quantity of crystal methamphetamine. This incident is part of a rising trend of Syrian regime smuggling attempts targeting Jordan and other Arab countries. Recently, Jordan’s Drug Control Administration thwarted a major smuggling operation involving 9.5 million Captagon pills and 143 kilograms of hashish. While Jordan often cites Syria as the source, the Syrian regime has accused US forces at the Al-Tanf base in eastern Syria of facilitating drug smuggling into Jordan.

  1. Turkish Forces Bolster Idlib Positions with Advanced Jamming Systems

In response to increased drone attacks, Turkish forces have deployed advanced electronic jamming systems in Idlib. These systems aim to counter suicide drones targeting civilian and military movements within the Russian-Turkish agreement area. Since the beginning of the year, drone attacks peaked in April but have since decreased. On June 12, a Turkish military convoy entered Idlib from the Kafr Lusin crossing to reinforce positions in Jabal al-Zawiya. Concurrently, Syrian regime forces have moved ballistic missile systems to their positions in Idlib, opposite areas controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and other Syrian rebel factions.

  1. Sweden Acquits Former Syrian Officer of War Crimes Charges

A Stockholm court acquitted Mohammed Hamo, a former Syrian brigadier general, of war crimes charges due to insufficient evidence of his involvement in attacks during Syria’s civil war in early 2012. Hamo, who was accused of aiding and abetting war crimes by supplying arms to military units, denied any criminal responsibility. The court acknowledged the Syrian military’s indiscriminate attacks but found no concrete evidence linking Hamo or his division directly to those actions. This verdict, while disappointing to victims, is the first European trial addressing the Syrian military’s warfare and its impact on civilians.

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YEMEN

  1. US Destroys Houthi Sites After Red Sea Ship Attack

On Wednesday, Yemen’s Houthi group broadcast footage of a ship sinking in the Red Sea after being hit by two Houthi drone boats. The attack, confirmed by Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree, marks the first time such footage has been released. The British Maritime Trade Operations Authority identified the vessel as the Greek-owned Tutor, attacked on June 12 and now sunk, with one crew member missing. In response, CENTCOM said it destroyed a Houthi ground control station, a command unit, and two drone units in the Red Sea, along with two Houthi command sites in Yemen. CENTCOM also neutralized two boats threatening maritime navigation and shot down eight Houthi drones.

  1. Nasrallah: Israel Cannot Counter Houthi Maritime Attacks, Keep Pressing

Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah claimed that Israel is incapable of waging war in Yemen and that the United States and Britain are incapable of protecting shipping from Houthi attacks. He claimed this inability represents a significant failure for both nations’ naval fleets. In the same speech in which he also threatened Cyprus, Nasrallah suggested that Houthi militias would join a war against Israel if conflict erupts in Lebanon and urged the Houthis to target Israeli ships.

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IRAQ

  1. Iran-Backed Militias Threaten to Resume Attacks on US Bases in Iraq

Armed groups loyal to Iran, accusing the US of stalling withdrawal negotiations with Iraq, have threatened to target American bases again. An extraordinary meeting of the so-called Iraqi resistance addressed the ongoing presence of US forces and regional tensions, particularly following statements by potential US ambassador Tracy Jacobson. This escalation follows a four-month truce and ongoing negotiations between Baghdad and Washington regarding the withdrawal of international coalition forces.

  1. Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Threaten US Bases, Vow Support to Hezbollah

Iran-backed militias have threatened to resume attacks on US bases in Iraq, accusing the US of stalling withdrawal negotiations. This declaration followed an extraordinary meeting of the so-called Iraqi resistance, addressing the ongoing presence of US forces and regional tensions. Concurrently, Iraqi factions involved in the Iran-backed “Islamic Resistance” have expressed readiness to support Hezbollah in Lebanon if a broader conflict with Israel erupts. This announcement came after Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani’s visit to Baghdad. 

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 THE GULF

  1. Israeli Media Says Qatar Considered Sanctions to Force Hamas to Resume Ceasefire Talks

Israeli media reported that Qatar nearly imposed sanctions on Hamas to force the group to resume ceasefire negotiations in Gaza and secure the release of Israeli hostages. Washington reportedly relayed to the Israeli government that Qatar threatened to expel Hamas leaders if they rejected a cease fire deal. An American official noted that Qatar had indeed warned Hamas of potential expulsion. Israeli officials remain optimistic about resuming negotiations soon if Qatar successfully pressures Hamas to return to the negotiating table.

  1. GCC Condemns Israeli Aggression and Call for Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemned Israel’s ongoing aggression in Gaza, decrying the equating of Palestinian victims with the Israeli occupiers. In a Human Rights Council statement, the GCC demanded an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid access, criticizing the International Commission of Inquiry’s report for its perceived bias. Qatar’s representative, Hind Al-Muftah, highlighted the severe human rights violations and called for international action to pressure Israel. Kuwait echoed these sentiments, urging global unity to end the conflict and support Palestinian self-determination and sovereignty.

  1. Masdar Signs €3.2 Billion Deal to Acquire Terna Energy

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) has agreed to acquire 67% of Terna Energy SA from GEK Terna SA and other shareholders, with plans to acquire the remaining shares, valuing the deal at €3.2 billion. This acquisition marks the largest energy sector transaction on the Athens Stock Exchange and a significant move in the European renewable energy market. The investment aims to support Greece and other European nations, enhancing Terna Energy’s role in Greece’s National Energy and Climate Plan and the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal.

  1. Qatar Energy and ExxonMobil Seek Removal of Contractor from U.S. LNG Project

Qatar Energy and ExxonMobil, partners in the $10 billion “Golden Pass” LNG project in Texas, have requested a U.S. court to remove contractor Zachary Industrial due to its failure to meet obligations and subsequent bankruptcy. Zachary, holding the majority of the construction contract, halted work, dismissed workers, and left the project incomplete. Golden Pass, 75% finished, faces further delays unless the court terminates Zachary’s $5.8 billion contract or grants control to the partners. Zachary, citing pandemic-related costs, seeks compensation for an additional $2.4 billion in expenses.

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 EGYPT

  1. Rafah Crossing Destroyed by Israeli Army, Egypt Denies Arab Force Participation

The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been rendered unusable following extensive destruction by the Israeli army, according to Israeli Army Radio. Footage shows significant damage to the crossing’s main hall and surrounding buildings. The Israeli military seized the crossing on May 7, during ongoing operations in Rafah, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza by halting aid and medical evacuations. Additionally, the Israeli army now controls the Philadelphia axis, a strategic border strip, tightening its grip on the region despite international calls for an end to hostilities. Meanwhile, Egypt has denied agreeing to participate in a UN-led Arab force to manage Gaza crossings, countering Israeli reports. Major General Mohamed Ibrahim Al-Duwairi emphasized that Egypt views Israel’s occupation of the Rafah crossing as temporary and insists it should be operated by Palestinian elements. Egypt’s refusal stems from opposition to Israel’s attempts to impose control and alter previous agreements, advocating for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the Rafah crossing to allow Palestinian management to resume.

  1. Ethiopia’s Filling of Renaissance Dam Sparks Egyptian Concerns

Satellite images show Ethiopia preparing for the fifth filling of the Renaissance Dam, raising alarms in Egypt about potential severe impacts on its Nile water supply. Former Egyptian Water Minister Mohamed Nasr Allam warned of catastrophic consequences, particularly if it coincides with a dry season. Despite diplomatic efforts, Egypt has struggled to find leverage to prevent the filling without a binding agreement. Experts note that the dam’s low-lying turbines currently limit water flow to Egypt and Sudan, exacerbating the situation.

  1. Egypt’s LNG Imports, Energean’s Sale, and Revenue Initiatives

Egypt plans to purchase 17 shipments of LNG this summer with deferred payments of up to six months, targeting deliveries in July, August, and September. This strategy by the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) aims to manage limited suppliers and increased premiums due to high demand from Asia. Egypt, a former reliable LNG exporter to Europe, now faces reduced supplies and competitive market conditions. Simultaneously, Energean is selling its energy projects in Egypt, Italy, and Croatia to Carlyle International Energy Partners for up to $945 million, aiming to close the deal by the end of 2024. This sale will enable Energean to repay $450 million in notes, issue a potential $200 million special dividend, and focus on its gas development strategy. Additionally, Egypt expects $2 billion in revenue from the “Facilitating the Importation of Cars for Egyptians Abroad” initiative, with over 250,000 import approvals and more than 35,000 cars already imported, addressing payment issues and expediting the car release process.

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TURKIYE

  1. Türkiye to Advocate for Balanced Ukraine Peace Talks at NATO Summit

At the upcoming NATO summit in Washington, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will urge allies to find a balanced approach to bring both Russia and Ukraine to the negotiation table. Türkiye supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and continued military aid but also emphasizes the importance of including Russia in peace talks. The summit will discuss ongoing support for Ukraine, collective defense spending, and ensuring aid is not part of the 2% GDP defense target. Türkiye, maintaining good relations with Kyiv and Moscow, offers to mediate and highlights the risks of the conflict spreading and escalating globally.

  1. Gulenists Appeal to Biden for US Support Against Turkiye

Ahead of the July 2024 NATO Summit, FETO members have written to US President Joe Biden, complaining about Turkiye and seeking his assistance. This move aims to influence US-Turkiye relations and address internal rifts within FETO, exacerbated by Fethullah Gülen’s health issues and leadership disputes. The letter, supported by some US Congress members, criticizes Turkiye’s human rights record without mentioning the 2016 coup attempt. FETO seeks the unconditional release and rehabilitation of its detained members. This appeal represents FETO’s “last trump card” to sway the agenda at the upcoming NATO Summit.

  1. No Direct Talks Between Ankara and Assad Regime, Turkiye Seeks US Cooperation

Turkish media confirms there are no direct talks between Ankara and the Assad regime despite claims of a military meeting at the Russian Hmeimim base. Discussions ceased after Syria demanded Turkiye withdraw its forces from northern Syria, which Turkiye rejected for security reasons. Ankara conveyed to Moscow and Tehran it would only engage in talks without preconditions, focusing on refugee returns and halting cooperation against the PKK. Indirect messages are currently exchanged through Iraq. Simultaneously, Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Guler called for the US to cease support for Kurdish units in Syria, emphasizing Turkiye’s desire for “positive cooperation” with the US. During a visit to Hakkari, Guler highlighted the long-standing Turkish-American relations within NATO and reminded the US of its obligations under the October 2019 agreement that halted Turkiye’s “Peace Spring” operation in northeastern Syria.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 19, 2024

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 18, 2024

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 17, 2024

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