THE EARLY PHOENIX
A first look at today’s most notable stories from the Middle East, selected by ACLS experts
12 April 2023
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1. For the First Time, Russia Begins Fuel Export to Iran by Rail (Tasnim News). Russia shipped more than 30,000 tons of gasoline and diesel to the Islamic Republic of Iran in February and March, two sources familiar with the export data told Reuters. Russian oil companies intend to forward gasoline and diesel to Iran by rail because export through sea has faced high transportation costs.
2. Mohammed bin Salman and Lindsey Graham Discuss Common Issues (Al Sharq Al Awsat). According to the Saudi Press Agency, Mohammed bin Salman and US Senator Lindsey Graham reviewed the friendly relations between their countries and several issues of common concern during their meeting. The meeting occurred amidst significant tension in Saudi-US relations due to the US position on Saudi Arabia’s push for OPEC Plus to reduce oil production rates under President Joe Biden’s administration.
3. UAE Denies Report of Intelligence Cooperation with Russia Amid US & UK Confrontation (CNN Arabic). The United Arab Emirates has denied reports that Russian intelligence was promoting deeper ties with the Emirati government and planning actions against the United States and the United Kingdom, as reported by the Associated Press, citing a US intelligence document.
4. IMF Raises 2023 Growth Forecast for Saudi Arabia (Sky News Business). The International Monetary Fund has increased its growth forecast for Saudi Arabia this year to 3.1 percent, up 0.5 percentage points from its initial estimate… Last year, Saudi Arabia achieved an impressive growth rate of 8.7 percent, the highest among the G20 countries, and exceeded all expectations.
5. Finance Ministry: The Annual Budget Relies Heavily on Oil Sales, Making Iraq Vulnerable to Global Crises (Al Iraq News). The Ministry of Finance has released a statement indicating that the revenue for January in the fiscal year 2023 exceeded 7 trillion dinars. The report highlighted that oil contributed to 96% of the federal budget.
6. IMF: Ongoing Discussions with Tunisia on Loan Despite President’s Rejection (Al Sharq Business). The International Monetary Fund has stated that communication with Tunisia regarding a $1.9 billion rescue package is ongoing, despite President Kais Saied’s commitment to rejecting any agreement that involves spending cuts… The possibility of extensive spending cuts, particularly in the country’s expansive public sector, has drawn criticism and frequent strike threats from the Tunisian general labor union.
7. Erdogan Unveils AK Party’s Election Manifesto (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye will continue with investment, production, and export until reaching the goal of bringing its foreign trade volume to $1 trillion, Erdogan said. “In the coming period, with an annual growth rate of 5.5%, we will increase our national income to $1.5 trillion and then to our main target of $2 trillion,” the president said.
8. Yemen Prisoner Swap to Start on April 13, Will Last Three Days (Al Arabiya). The Houthis will release 181 prisoners, including Saudis and Sudanese, in exchange for 706 detainees held by government forces, according to an agreement reached last month in Switzerland.
9. Egypt Denies Allegations of Supplying Russia with 40,000 Missiles, Citing US Leaks as False (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Washington Post recently published a report… based on what was described as “one of the leaked secret American documents.” It claimed that “Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had ordered the production of 40,000 missiles to be covertly sent to Russia, in addition to plans to provide Moscow with artillery shells and gunpowder to aid in its war against Ukraine.
10. IMF Lowers Growth Forecast for Egyptian Economy (Sky News Arabia). The International Monetary Fund has decreased its growth projection for the Egyptian economy in the current and next fiscal years by 0.3%, with the growth rate now estimated to be 3.7% in the current fiscal year and 5% in the next fiscal year.
11. Biden Administration Approves Weapons Sale to Morocco (CNN Arabic). The US administration has informed Congress of its intention to potentially sell $524.2 million of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and $250 million of Joint Standoff Weapons (JSOW) precision-guided bombs to Morocco.
12. Arab Foreign Ministers to Meet in Jeddah to Discuss Decision on Reinstating Syrian Regime to Arab League (Syria TV). Following Kuwait’s support of the Saudi stance on reinstating the Syrian regime to the Arab League, diplomatic sources have revealed that Qatar and Morocco remain the countries closest to the international position regarding resolving the Syrian conflict. Therefore, these countries see no reason to alter their part of suspending Syria’s membership in the League, as the Syrian regime’s behavior has not improved, according to Syria TV’s website.