THE EARLY PHOENIX
A first look at today’s most notable events from the Middle East, selected by ACLS experts
27 April 2023
[button color=”primary” size=”small” link=”https://americancenter.us10.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=9654d69c56c52bab6cb47fec9&id=7fe0ed4a88″ icon=”” target=”true” nofollow=”false”]Subscribe[/button]
- Khamenei’s Trusted Cleric Gunned Down in Northern Iran (Iran International). A former Khamenei aid associated with the mass executions of the 1980s has been assassinated in the northern city of Babolsar. Ayatollah Abbas-Ali Soleimani, the former representative of the Supreme Leader in Sistan and Baluchistan province and Kashan, was gunned down in Mazandaran province, according to the Hozeh website on Wednesday.
- Iranian Diplomat to Be Released in Prisoner Swap with Belgium (Tasnim News). In February 2021, a Belgian court sentenced Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi to 20 years in prison for allegedly planning an attack against the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK)… However, in line with the new deal, Iranians convicted in Belgium would be allowed to serve their sentences at home and vice versa.
- Iran Upholds Dual National’s Death Sentence (Iran International). Iran’s judiciary has approved the death sentence of Iranian-German prisoner Jamshid Sharmahd for alleged involvement in terrorism… Sharmahd, who also holds US residency, has been held in solitary confinement and was denied an independent attorney and fair legal procedures.
- Indian General Says Delhi Upbeat Over Military Co-op with Iran (Tasnim News). Lieutenant General Dinesh Singh Rana, the Director General of India’s Defense Intelligence, said that in addition to professional training military courses, several Iranian naval delegations had visited various Indian naval training establishments in the past, and the defense engagement between the two countries has grown.
- Strikes in Iran Gaining Momentum with Over 80 Industrial Institutions On Strike (Iran International). Strikes by Iranian energy, petrochemicals, and steel workers are gaining momentum as new firms have joined the nationwide industrial action. According to the Council for Organizing Oil Contract-Workers’ Protests, workers in more than 80 companies have joined industrial action, protesting poor working conditions, low wages, and rising living costs.
- Unusual American Declaration of Support for Israel Does Not Include the Two-state Vision (Haaretz). American lawmakers, Republicans, and Democrats issued a statement yesterday (Tuesday) on the occasion of Israel’s 75th Independence Day, which unusually did not include an explicit reference to the Palestinians and the vision of the two states. Nevertheless, 401 lawmakers supported approving the declaration, and 18 Democratic congressmen voted against it, as well as one Republican congressman.
- The Commander of U.S. Central Command, GEN Michael Kurilla, Landed in Israel (IDF Twitter). As the guest of IDF Chief of the General Staff LTG Herzi Halevi, GEN Kurilla will conduct meetings with Israeli senior defense officials on Thursday.
- Netanyahu’s Facebook Hacked Amid Independence Day Cyberattacks (i24). According to Israeli cybersecurity companies, Israel has suffered numerous cyberattacks claimed by Anonymous Sudan, which is believed to be linked to Russia and not to the Palestinians, as the group claims, or Iranians that were previously attacking Israel. In addition, Netanyahu’s Facebook page was filled with Quranic verses in Arabic script, yet it was quickly restored to normal.
- The United Arab Emirates Violated the Caesar Act (Twitter). The UAE recently repaired a Syrian plane belonging to Cham Wings A320 (yk-bab)… The Emirati action is a dangerous step and a flagrant violation of the Caesar Act sanctions imposed on the Assad regime, given the company’s close association with the Assad regime and its involvement in suspicious operations such as the transfer of weapons and Quds Force mercenaries from Iran to Syria, and its work to smuggle people towards Libya.
- The Syrian Negotiations Commission Meets with the US State Department.(Twitter). Assistant Secretary Barbara Leaf met with the Syrian Negotiations Commission to reiterate that U.S. Policy has not changed: no normalization with the Assad regime in the absence of enduring political change and strong support for UNSCR 2254, including the role of the Syrian opposition.
- Russia “Authorizes” Wagner Group’s Intervention in Sudan (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lavrov stated in a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York that Sudan has the “right” to benefit from the security services of the “Wagner” group, which the West accuses of recruiting mercenaries worldwide.
- Washington Clarifies Stance on Sending Military Forces to Sudan (Sky News Arabia). US State Department spokesman Samuel Warburg revealed, in exclusive statements to “Sky News Arabia,” Washington’s stance on the conflict and its efforts to evacuate its citizens from Khartoum, emphasizing that it has no intention to send any forces there.
“There is no greater priority for the United States than ensuring the security and safety of its citizens in Sudan,” Warburg said.
- Sudanese Army: No Negotiations with “Rebels”; Al-Burhan Approves African Initiative to Extend Ceasefire (Al Hadath). The Sudanese army stated that “the current battle is to force the rapid support militia to retreat and defeat them in Khartoum, emphasizing that the commander of the Sudanese army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, will not travel to another country now to meet the rebel leader. Furthermore, the General Command of the Sudanese Army announced that Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan has agreed to an initiative proposed by the “IGAD” organization to extend the truce in Sudan for an additional 72 hours.
- Sudanese Health: 512 Dead and 4,000 Wounded in Fighting until Yesterday (Al Arabiya). The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that 61% of health facilities in Khartoum are closed, with only 16% operating as usual. He added that more deaths are expected in Sudan due to disease outbreaks amid the current situation in the country.
- Iraqi Security Arrests 8 ISIS Terrorists in Kirkuk (Iraqi News). During investigations, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior mentioned that the suspects confessed that they worked for the terrorist group after receiving special training. The statement added that one of the suspects was transporting foodstuffs and aid to ISIS terrorists.
- Turkish Fighters Target the PKK North of Dohuk (The New Arab). For the third consecutive week, Turkish forces persist in carrying out targeted military operations in northern Iraq, spanning the Nineveh and Kurdistan regions, focusing on Sinjar, Qandil, Sidekan, Soran, Zab, and Zakho. The recent operations have involved airstrikes and assassinations of prominent leaders within the opposition “PKK,” which Ankara considers a “terrorist organization.”
- Romania Extradites Muhammad Bazzi to the United States on Charges of Financing Hezbollah (Al Arabiya). Muhammad Bazzi, accused by Washington of sending millions of dollars to Hezbollah, was arrested in February on charges of secretly selling real estate he owns in Michigan and transferring money abroad in violation of US criminal laws.
- Lebanese Government Escalates the Syrian Refugee Issue (Syria TV). On Wednesday, the Lebanese caretaker government held two meetings to discuss the file of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Unfortunately, the pace of raids and deportations launched by the Lebanese authorities against them is escalating, with an escalation of racism and hate speech. As a result, the Lebanese government has requested the Minister of Justice to discuss possibly handing over previously arrested and convicted persons to the Assad regime immediately, among other measures, to enforce the return of Syrian refugees to Assad-controlled territories.
- Turkiye’s Erdogan Cancels Campaign Travel after Health Scare (Al-Monitor). With just 17 days to go until the elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s health caused alarm on Wednesday after canceling his campaign travel two days in a row, including a previously planned trip for a high-profile ceremony at Turkiye’s new power plant in Mersin on Thursday. The cancelation follows a health scare the Turkish leader suffered during a live TV interview on Tuesday night.
- Türkiye to Gain Nuclear Status as 1st Fuel Delivery due for Akkuyu (Daily Sabah). Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is being built by Russia’s state atomic energy company Rosatom in Mersin province on the southern Mediterranean coastline. It is scheduled to see the first of its four reactors go online in the first half of this year. Akkuyu will eventually boast a capacity to provide about 10% of Türkiye’s electricity needs.
- Turkiye’s Election in a Dead Heat, Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu Tied at 45% (Al-Monitor). The margin of error is +/-3. The survey found a statistical tie between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu at 45.2% and 44.9%.
- As Efforts to Exclude the Dollar Accelerate, Will the Dollar Lose its Dominance? (SNA Business). Russia, which has been most affected by the US dollar’s significant role in global trade due to sanctions, has become one of the countries leading efforts to move away from the greenback in commercial transactions by using local and national currencies to pay for energy sales… The largest beneficiary of this step, China, is also trying to enhance the role of the Shanghai Stock Exchange in settling oil and gas transactions in the Chinese yuan.
- Saudi Arabia Releases Son of Hamas Leader (Al Khaleej Online). The Saudi government has freed Hani al-Khudari, the son of former Hamas representative in Riyadh, Muhammad al-Khudari…This release comes after a high-level delegation from Hamas, led by its political bureau head, Ismail Haniyeh, visited Saudi Arabia on April 18th. This visit marks a turning point in the long-standing estrangement and indifference in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Hamas.
- Aramco Overtakes Microsoft as World’s Second Largest Company (Al Khaleej Online). Saudi Aramco has secured the second spot in the world’s most significant company ranking by value, with a total worth of $2.11 trillion (7.92 trillion riyals), after its shares reached 36 riyals ($9.60) on Wednesday, overtaking Microsoft and moving up the global ranking.
- Expansion of BRICS Alliance: Implications for the Global Economy (SNA Business). The BRICS group anticipates significant developments at the upcoming summit in South Africa. The summit is expected to address 19 applications for membership, including 13 formal requests and six informal requests. The expansion of the BRICS Alliance will further enhance its role as a formidable economic alliance and put it in a better position to compete against the Group of Seven.
- Saudi Initiative for Sudan Solution Involves All Political Forces, Not Limited to the Two Generals (Al Arabiya). The Umma Party stated in an exclusive interview with Al-Arabiya that there are military officers who have affiliations with the Brotherhood and remnants of the former regime and are willing to cause harm to Sudan rather than relinquish their hold on power. Therefore, the party advised Hamidti to be cautious of any provocations being instigated by the Islamists.