THE EARLY PHOENIX
A first look at today’s most notable stories from the Middle East, selected by ACLS experts
25 April 2023
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- US-Sponsored Three-Day Truce in Effect Throughout Sudan (Al Hadath). Despite the truce not being fully adhered to, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced an agreement between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, which included a ceasefire between them, commencing at midnight local time in Khartoum.
- Cairo Confirms Killing of One of Its Officials in Sudan (Al Arabiya). Amid ongoing clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the death of the assistant Egyptian administrative attaché at its embassy in Khartoum.
- Negotiation Commission Leads Diplomatic Effort to Counter Normalization with Syrian Regime (Syria TV). The sources reported that the head of the Syrian Negotiations Committee, Badr Jamous, traveled to the United States of America on an official visit, where he, along with members of the Syrian National Coalition, will meet with prominent officials in the American administration. The sources noted that the Syrian opposition delegation would meet with Barbara Leaf, representatives of US national security, Congress, and research centers connected to decision-making circles in the White House.
- European Sanctions Imposed on 25 Individuals and Eight Entities Linked to Syrian Regime (Enab Baladi). Sanctions aimed at the Syrian regime’s current revenue models, which in turn prolong the “Syrian conflict,” were imposed according to three categories: against those responsible for large-scale drug smuggling, against those responsible for suppressing the population and violating human rights, and against others involved in economic deals with Russia that harm the Syrian people.
- Moscow Hosts a Meeting of Defense Ministers and Intelligence Chiefs from Turkiye, Russia, the Syrian Regime, and Iran (Syria TV). Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar explained that the meetings are occurring in light of mutual respect among the parties, noting that some positive developments are anticipated after tomorrow’s meeting… He added, “There are Syrian brothers of ours who work with us, whether in Turkey or inside Syria, and we cannot take any decision that would put them in trouble.”
- ISIS Claims Executing 20 Operations in Syria During Ramadan (Syria TV). 17 attacks targeted sites belonging to the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) in Deir Ezzor and Hasakah, northeastern Syria.
- UK Slaps Sanctions on IRGC Commanders Over Human Rights Violations (Iran International). Announcing the sanctions on Monday in coordination with the United States and the European Union, the British government said those sanctioned included four regional commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said, “The Iranian regime is responsible for the brutal repression of the Iranian people and for exporting bloodshed worldwide. That’s why we have more than 300 sanctions on Iran, including on the IRGC in its entirety.”
- Armenia Hosts First Trilateral Meeting with Iranian and Indian Officials (Tehran Times). The April 20 meeting involved various deputies and assistants in the foreign ministries of the three countries. It focused primarily on “economic issues and regional communication channels,” according to a readout by the Armenian foreign ministry. “The sides agreed to continue consultations in a trilateral format.”
- Iran’s Exports To China, India, and Turkiye Drop Significantly (Iran International). Turkey’s Official Statistics Center has reported that the country’s imports from Iran have fallen to $450 million, a 22% drop. The numbers announced by the Indian Ministry of Commerce also show a 6% drop in imports from the Islamic Republic, hitting less than $162 million. Official Chinese customs data also shows that imports from Iran were $2.9 billion in the first quarter of 2023, a decline of more than 41% compared to the first quarter of 2022.
- Denmark Withdraws its Forces from Iraq (Al Iraqi News). Today, the Danish Ministry of Defense announced the withdrawal of all its military personnel from Iraq and Syria who participated in operations against the terrorist “ISIS.” The Danish defense statement stated: “The military leadership decided to withdraw and return to Denmark because The number of ISIS terrorists has decreased to such an extent that there is no urgent need for our contribution, and also because we need our forces in our country.”
- Turkiye Kills 21 Militants in Iraq and Syria in 4 Days (Iraqi News). Turkish Minister of Defense, Hulusi Akar, said that the Anadolu Agency reported that 21 militants had been killed in Iraq and Syria in the previous four days. Akar explained that the Turkish military forces continue to combat terrorism in northern Syria and Iraq.
ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
- Netanyahu Meets with Democrats as He Looks to Buck Notion of Strained US Ties (Times of Israel). The meeting with the 12-member delegation of American congressional Democrats led by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries took place in Jerusalem against the backdrop of polling showing waning popularity for the longtime Israeli leader among both parties in Washington.
- Israel to Supply Azerbaijan with Satellites in $120 Million Deal (Al-Monitor). Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen confirmed Monday that Israel Aerospace Industries would supply Azerbaijan with two satellites at $120 million.
- Saudi Arabia Ranks Fifth Globally in Military Spending for 2022 (Al Khaleej Online). The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report revealed that Saudi Arabia’s military spending in 2022 increased by 16%, reaching an estimated $75.0 billion, the first increase since 2018, earning the country a fifth-place ranking globally.
- Hezbollah Acquires Naval Combat Capabilities That Threaten Israeli Warships (Al Nahar). In recent years, the Israeli army believes that Hezbollah has acquired naval combat capabilities that could expand the scope of the upcoming confrontation with Israel and threaten Israeli warships, gas platforms, drilling rigs, and sensitive strategic facilities along the country’s coast. According to Israeli estimates, reported by Israeli media, Hezbollah possesses small underwater objects that can be remotely controlled, drones, precision missiles, and dozens of anti-ship missiles.
- Biden Remembers Armenian Genocide, Turkiye Slams ‘Worthless Opportunist Politicians’ (Al Arabiya). The US president made a campaign pledge to recognize the genocide and, on Monday, vowed to ensure that such an atrocity “never again” takes place… However, Turkiye blasted Biden’s decision to recognize the genocide two years ago, saying his statement had no legal basis and would open a deep wound in bilateral ties.