The Early Phoenix

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April 13, 2023


1. Assad’s Foreign Minister Miqdad Visits Saudi Arabia (Sham News). The Saudi Foreign Ministry issued a joint press statement at the end of the visit…The two sides agreed on the importance of resolving humanitarian difficulties, providing the appropriate environment for aid to reach all regions in Syria, creating the necessary conditions for the return of Syrian refugees and displaced persons to their areas, ending their suffering, enabling them to return safely to their homeland, and taking more measures that would contribute to stability and situation in the entire Syrian territory. They also stressed the importance of strengthening security and combating terrorism in all its forms and organizations, enhancing cooperation in combating drug smuggling and trafficking [and] the need to support Syrian state institutions to extend their control over Syria’s lands to end the presence of armed militias and end external interference in Syrian internal affairs.

2. Zaman Al Wasel reported that the joint Saudi-Syrian statement also indicated that the two sides discussed the necessary steps to achieve a comprehensive political settlement to the Syrian crisis that would end all its repercussions, achieve national reconciliation, and contribute to the return of Syria to its Arab surroundings and the resumption of its natural role in the Arab world.

3. Syria TV quoted the Wall Street Journal reporting that at least five members of the Arab League, including Morocco, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, and Yemen, are currently rejecting the return of the Syrian regime to the League. These countries want the head of the Syrian government, Bashar al-Assad, to deal first with the Syrian political opposition in a way that gives all citizens a voice to decide their future. Arab officials emphasized that Bashar al-Assad has no interest in political change. Arab officials stated that some countries that oppose the re-acceptance of the Syrian regime had doubled their demands and set conditions for normalization, the most prominent of which is that Bashar al-Assad accepts the entry of Arab forces into Syria to protect the returning refugees, combat drug smuggling operations to neighboring countries, and demand Iran to stop expanding its influence in the country.

4. China Supports Syria’s Return to the Arab League (Al Watan). Chinese Ambassador Xi Hongwei affirmed that China supports Syria’s return to the Arab League and for it to return to playing its leading role in the region, pointing to the Chinese role and foreign policy in the Middle East, stressing that his country believes that this region should enjoy security and stability away from conflicts, and that only by this can realization be achieved. Sustainable development for people to live in safety, security, and prosperity, and this is what China seeks.

5.Record High Number of Syrian Asylum Applications in Germany (Syria TV).  Data published by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany on Tuesday showed that there were approximately 88,000 people who applied for asylum in the country during the first quarter of 2023, which is a significant increase compared to the same period last year.

6. Jordanian Army Thwarts Drug Smuggling from Syria (Zaman Al Wasel). A statement by the army quoted a military source…saying that “the border guard forces, in coordination with the military security services and the Anti-Narcotics Department, detected through forward observations an attempt by a group of smugglers (whose number was not specified) to cross the border illegally from Syrian lands.

7. US Military Announces Arrest of ISIS Leader Huthaifa al-Yamani in Northeast Syria (Syria TV). A statement issued by the US Central Command indicated that the US forces carried out a helicopter operation and arrested the Yemeni and two of his aides.

8. Assad Regime Media Accuses US of Stealing Syrian Oil (Al Watan). The Syrian regime’s SANA news agency quoted local sources from the countryside of al-Yarubiyah, in the far north-east of Hasakah, who claimed that a convoy of the American occupation consisting of 77 vehicles, including 32 tankers filled with oil stolen from the Syrian fields, in addition to 6 military armored vehicles, left the Hasakah countryside through the illegal al-Walid crossing towards US bases in Iraqi territory. On the twenty-fifth of last month, the American occupation stole 80 tankers of Syrian oil from the Al-Jazeera fields and transported them to its bases in Iraq.

9. ISIS Demands Taxes, Sends Threatening Messages, Kills, and Kidnaps in the Areas of the Autonomous Administration (SOHR). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented 50 operations carried out by cells of the “Islamic State” within the areas of influence of the “Self-Administration” since the beginning of 2023…the death toll as a result of the above-mentioned operations has reached…34 dead, among whom were 5 civilians and 26 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces…The operations were distributed as follows:

        • 7 operations in Raqqa, which resulted in 3 military deaths
        • 36 operations in Deir Ezzor, which resulted in the killing of 5 civilians, an unknown person, and 15 military personnel
        • 2 operations in Aleppo, which resulted in the killing of 6 military personnel, including commanders.
        •  5 operations in Al-Hasakah resulted in the wounding and death of two soldiers and two ISIS members.


10. Israel is Closer to War than Calm, IDF Intel Warns the Government (Jerusalem  Post). The IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate warned the political echelon in recent days that war is closer than calm…According to intel estimates, security tensions will not disappear after the end of the month of Ramadan, and the security trend could lead to war…Additionally, Israel’s enemies recognized the United States’ withdrawal from the Middle East, which included removing advanced aircraft from the region and replacing them with less advanced aircraft. This change affects Israeli deterrence, alongside the growing American preoccupation with China and Russia. Also, the intelligence estimates that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, decided a year ago to respond to Israel’s actions against the regime in Tehran. According to the estimates, the Iranian leader demands a response to the assassinations and attacks attributed to Israel, and therefore the Iranians are making an effort to move the terrorist activities into Israel and not stay on the borders.


11. India’s Imports of Iranian Goods Almost Doubled in First Two Months of 2023 (Tasnim News). According to the figures covered in a Wednesday report by the Islamic Republic News Agency, India imported $134 million worth of Iranian goods and commodities in January-February, showing an increase of 91% compared with the same period in 2022.

12. Iran Continues Using Syria’s Earthquake To Ramp Up Military Capabilities (Iran International). The supplies being smuggled alongside relief goods have, according to intelligence, included advanced communications equipment and radar batteries, and spare parts required for a planned upgrade of Syria’s Iran-provided air defense system in its civil war.


13. US Floats Sanctions Warning as Arab Isolation of Syria Nears End (Al Arabiya). Saudi Arabia became the latest Gulf country to take a step toward normalizing ties with the Syrian regime on Tuesday after Bashar al-Assad’s top diplomat visited Jeddah. But Washington has warned that its sanctions against the Assad regime remain in place…“Our position is clear: We will not normalize relations with the Assad regime absent real progress towards a political solution to the underlying conflict,” a National Security Council (NSC) official told Al Arabiya English. The US has stressed to Arab countries engaging with the Syrian regime that credible steps to improve Syrians’ humanitarian and security situation should be front and center in any engagement, the NSC spokesperson said. “We have also made clear that the core architecture of our sanctions remains firmly in place,” the official added.

14. Chinese Sinopec Acquires a Stake in a Qatari Gas Field (Sky News Business). Sinopec has finalized an agreement with Qatar Energy to supply four million tons of LNG annually for 27 years, marking the most extended contract ever signed by Qatar for LNG supply.

15. US Targets Firms in UAE, Turkey over Russia Sanctions Evasion (Al-Monitor). The Biden administration unveiled new sanctions Wednesday on more than 120 targets, including firms based in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, accused of bolstering Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and helping it evade sanctions.


16. Antakya, Hatay After Removing Rubble of the Devastating Earthquake (Syria TV). The city center of Antakya in Hatay turned into a void after removing the rubble of the devastating earthquake, which struck 11 states in southern Turkiye on the sixth of last February.


17. KRG to Investigate Sulaymaniyah Airport Attack (Bas News). Kurdistan Region PM Masrour Barzani on Wednesday chaired a cabinet meeting to discuss various topics, including the recent attack on Sulaymaniyah Airport, forming a committee to Investigate the incident…PM Barzani stressed that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) denounces the incident at the Sulaymaniyah airport, explaining that his government is unaware of any activities taking place at the airport that violate the laws of the KRG.

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