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THE EARLY PHOENIX 3 MAY 2023

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May 3, 2023

IRAN

  1. Iran, Russia Working on Draft Agreement to Upgrade Ties (Tehran Times). The parties believe that according to the developments in the international arena, what was stated in the previous agreement is not at the level of current relations; Therefore, it was agreed at the high level of the leaders of the two countries to update this agreement,” Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali said in an interview with IRNA. 
  2. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Suggests Role in Arming West Bank Palestinians (Memri). Hossein Salami, commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that “invisible hands” – hinting at the Iranian regime – are arming Palestinian organizations with automatic weapons against Israel. Salami’s statements came several days after rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza, and Israeli civilians were killed in shooting attacks during the Passover holiday. Iran directed the rocket fire concerning Israel’s killing of two IRGC members in Syria.
  3. Iran Says It May Sell Southern Islands to Pay Pensioners’ Arrears (Iran International). Iran is mulling the idea of selling the two southern islands of Kish, Qeshm, and Khuzestan province to pay pensioners’ arrears. However, the director general of social insurance in Iran’s Ministry of Labor, Sajjad Padam, said: “Even if we sell two to three million barrels of oil with sanctions removed, we still cannot solve the pensioners’ issues.”
  4. Revealed: Secret Files Show Iran’s Globetrotting Killers Have Seized its Economy (The Times). Obtained by an opposition group, the documents offer an intriguing glimpse into the workings of the Resistance Economy Headquarters, a body set up after Soleimani’s assassination to provide further control to the military over economic affairs. It is led by Mohammad Bagheri, an IRGC commander under UK sanctions for supplying military drones to Russia. Russian ships, it emerged last week, are also ferrying large quantities of Iranian artillery shells and other ammunition across the Caspian Sea to resupply troops fighting in Ukraine.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Administrative Detention. A Systematic Israeli Policy Denies Palestinians the Reason for their Detention (Al Jazeera). Human rights organizations say that the “Israeli occupation” resorts to administrative detention to detain Palestinian civilians without a specific charge and trial, which deprives the prisoner and his lawyer of knowing the reasons for the arrest and often leads to the renewal of the administrative detention order against the detainees consecutive times. 
  2.  Arab League Condemns Israel over the Death of Palestinian Prisoner, Warns of Repercussions (Ahram Online). The Arab League on Tuesday held Israel responsible for the death of a Palestinian prisoner after he died of a hunger strike that lasted for 87 days, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
  3.  Ben Gvir Orders Raising the State of Alert in Prisons (Al Jazeera). The Palestinian Prisoners Club said – this morning, Tuesday – that the occupation authorities informed the captive movement of the death of the prisoner, Sheikh Khader Adnan, after a hunger strike that lasted 87 days, refusing to arrest him. In contrast, the Islamic Jihad movement to which the martyr belongs vowed to respond.
  4. At Least 32 Rockets were Shot at Israel on Tuesday, and 12 were Injured (Jerusalem Post). The first round of rockets started just hours after Palestinian Islamic Jihad official Khader Adnan died following a three-month-long hunger strike against being held in administrative detention. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad both took responsibility for the rocket fire.
  5. Sirens Blare in South as IDF Strikes Gaza in Response to Rocket Fire (Times of Israel). The Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night in response to 37 rocket launches from the Palestinian enclave in southern Israel earlier in the dayThe targets included a Hamas training camp; another base that housed a weapons production site, a concrete production plant, and a training site; a site belonging to the terror group’s naval commandos; and a tunnel used by Hamas in southern Gaza.
  6.  Anonymous Sudan Says it Hacked Israeli Rocket Alerts, Iron Dome Warning (Jerusalem Post). The hacker group said on its Telegram channel that it had succeeded in taking down the websites of the rocket warning services Cumta, Red Alert, Halamish, and Evigilo and targeting some of their smartphone apps. 
  7.  Israel, EU Reconcile, Agree to Hold Summit after Cohen-Borrell Meeting (Al-Monitor). At a meeting on Tuesday in Brussels, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and the European Union’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell agreed to open a new page in Israel-EU relations and hold an Israel-EU association meeting by the end of the year, with Jerusalem being considered as the host.

SYRIA

  1.  US ‘Encouraged’ that the Arab-Syria Meeting Emphasised Shared Priorities (The National). A White House National Security Council representative told The National the Biden administration was “encouraged to see the joint communique mention many priorities that our partners and we share…We sincerely hope the Syrian regime will follow through on its commitments in good faith and accordance with international norms.”
  2.  Iranian President Visits Damascus to Sign Energy and Electricity Agreements (Sharq Al Awsat). A local newspaper revealed an Iranian plan to invest in the electricity sector in Syria, which will be discussed during the Iranian President’s visit to Damascus.
  3.  Financial Times: Bashar al-Assad Stands Firm, Rejects Concessions to Arabs, and May Even Seek an Apology (Syria TV). The British newspaper cited an Arab official on Monday, stating that meetings with the regime will test whether Assad is serious. A consensus has been reached on several issues, and the expectation is for the regime to follow through with them… During a recent gathering of foreign ministers discussing Syria’s potential readmission to the Arab League, officials reported that he displayed no inclination toward compromise. An Arab official stated, “The regime demands complete surrender from the Arabs.” Some even suggest that Assad may request an apology.
  4.  US-Turkish Sanctions against a Leader in “Tahrir al-Sham” (Enab Baladi). US Treasury announced on Tuesday that the sanctions are aimed at Omar al-Sheikh and Kublai Sari, a leader in Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, who received funds in Turkiye from donors supporting the “Tawhid and Jihad” battalion. 

IRAQ

  1.  Iraq Suffers Losses Due to Kurdistan’s Oil Exports Halt (Iraqi News)Bahjat Ahmed, an expert in oil affairs, confirmed that Turkiye refuses to resume oil exports because the Iraqi government does not waive the compensation amount imposed by the International Court of Arbitration in Paris, which is 1.47 billion USD. Ahmed explained that the other condition for Turkiye is its demand to sell oil exported from Kurdistan at the previous price, which is 19 USD per barrel. Still, the Iraqi government, specifically SOMO, rejected Turkiye’s request.
  2.  “Salary Scale” Protests Sweep Across Iraqi Provinces Amid Ongoing Budget Disputes (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The political and parliamentary blocs have been unable to resolve their differences over the current year’s (2023) financial budget. While the government of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani has presented an ambitious three-year budget plan, some political forces expressed their objections to the budget in three main points: first, that the budget spans three years rather than one; second, that the budget includes a significant deficit; and third, that the budget is based on a $70 per barrel oil price against the dollar, raising concerns about the potential for a drop in oil prices.
  3.  Iraqi Government Ousts Approximately 60 General Directors Across Ministries (The New Arab). The dismissal decisions affected general directors in numerous ministries and agencies within Baghdad and various governorates nationwide. These decisions were likely made with political consensus among the blocs and parties, as Al-Sudani aims to prevent anticipated waves of protest with the arrival of summer. This is especially relevant given the ongoing inadequate supply of electricity and water to regions, particularly in the densely populated cities of southern Iraq.

SUDAN

  1.  South Sudan: Al-Burhan and Hamidti Agreed to a 7-day Armistice,  Starting May 4 (Al Arabiya). These developments occurred as intermittent clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces continued into their third week. In the coming hours, negotiations are expected between two delegations representing the army and the Rapid Support Forces, aiming to establish a permanent ceasefire, as confirmed by UN envoy Volker Peretz.
  2.  Sudan’s Forces for Freedom and Change: Rally for Demonstrations to Push for Negotiations (Al Arabiya). Yasser Arman, the official spokesperson for the Forces for Freedom and Change, announced on Tuesday that the forces have called on the Central Council to organize large demonstrations in areas unaffected by the conflict to push for negotiations and halt the war… According to the Sudanese Ministry of Health, over 500 civilians have been killed and around 5,000 injured, and the fighting has forced more than 400,000 civilians to flee and seek refuge.

LEBANON

  1.  Lebanese Government Proposes Plan to Relocate Syrian Refugees to Third Country (Janoubia). Lebanese officials have proposed to address the issue of displacement with senior UN officials worldwide. They emphasize the need for an international conference on displacement in Lebanon and its threat to the Lebanese state. 
  2.   Total Inks Contract for Drilling Rig, Set to Begin Work on Lebanon’s Block No. 9 (Al Nahar). On Tuesday, French oil giant Total Energies announced that, in partnership with Italian company Eni and Qatar Energy, it had signed a contract with Transocean to lease a platform for drilling an exploratory well in Block No. 9 off the Lebanese coast.

TURKIYE

  1.  Türkiye Discovers High-quality Petroleum in Country’s East (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a fresh discovery of a new oil reserve in the country’s eastern region. At an opening ceremony of the Karapinar solar power plant and other newly-completed projects in central Konya province, Erdogan said that his country would no longer depend on others for energy but rather become an energy exporter.  
  2.  How Do The UK and EU View The Elections in Turkiye? (BBC Türkçe). In an interview with BBC Turkish, Turkish foreign policy expert Dr. Natalie Martin said, “The CHP’s nationalist stance and Kemalist past mean that it has not always adopted a fully progressive position. However, Kılıçdaroğlu, the party’s leader, is certainly much less arrogant than Erdoğan. That is why he is viewed as a more predictable leader by both the EU and the UK.” She added, “It will be much easier to negotiate with him regarding EU relations, Syria policy, and NATO. This is because it is truly challenging for politicians in Brussels and London to deal with unpredictable and irrational responses from politicians.”

THE GULF

  1.  Talks between Aramco, Sinopec, and Total Regarding a $10 Billion Gas Deal (Al Sharq Business). Sinopec and Total Energies are reportedly in talks to invest in developing the Jafurah field in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom aims to exploit one of the world’s largest untapped gas fields…Aramco is seeking equity investors who could assist in financing refining and transportation projects for the Jafurah gas development project in the kingdom’s east, valued at over $100 billion.

EGYPT

  1.  Egyptian Banks’ Net Foreign Assets Deficit Swells to Over $24 Bln in March (Ahram Online). As per the CBE’s data, Egypt’s NFAs deficit surged by EGP 536.2 billion ($17.33 billion) month-on-month in March 2023, up from EGP 219.389 billion ($7.09 billion) recorded in the corresponding month-a-year earlier. As a result, total foreign assets in Egypt declined to EGP 1.439 trillion ($46.5 billion) in March 2023, down from EGP 1.476 trillion ($47.7 billion) in February.
  2.  Sisi Expresses Concern about Regional Impact of Fighting in Sudan (Ahram Online). “The entire region could be affected. We are making our best effort to bring about discussions between the military and the RSF,” El-Sisi said in a 70-minute interview with the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, published on Monday… However, el-Sisi stressed that “[Egypt] will not interfere in the domestic politics of other nations because we do not want to complicate the situation further.”
  3.  US Ready to Support Egypt in Hosting Sudanese Refugees: Blinken to Shoukry (Ahram Online). As of 27 April, around 14,000 Sudanese citizens and 2,000 citizens from 50 countries and six international organizations had crossed into Egypt from Sudan, according to previous statements from Abu Zeid… In addition, the two officials discussed on a phone call the efforts to reach a sustainable ceasefire to the conflict that allows humanitarian aid to reach its intended recipients in Sudan.
  4.  UAE National Paints Acquires Egypt State-owned PACHIN in $25 Mln Deal after Intense Competition (Ahram Online). The company is among the 32 state-owned companies Egypt has offered as investment opportunities for local and foreign investors… This acquisition represents a clear commitment from the Egyptian government to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Under the $3 billion loan deal signed last year, Egypt has committed to generating $2 to $2.5 billion in revenue to fund budget deficits by selling stakes in state-owned assets.
  5.  Cleopatra Was Not Black: Egyptian Experts Slam Netflix for Misrepresenting History in New Drama-documentary (Daily News Egypt). Netflix has announced that it will produce a series of documentaries exploring the lives of prominent African queens. It will kick off the series with the historical personality Cleopatra because she was the world’s most famous and influential woman then. However, the series, scheduled to be released on 10 May, raised much controversy about the race of Cleopatra, as the official promo showed that the actress who plays Cleopatra was a brunette woman.

MORROCO 

  1.  Morocco Needs to Be Self-Sufficient in Terms of Health and Economy (Info Mediaire). As for the rest of the world, Morocco has suffered the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on its economy. As a result, many sectors have reached a standstill with closing borders and implementing containment measures. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, the kingdom seeks to bounce back and revive the economic machine.

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