THE EARLY PHOENIX
A first look at today’s most notable stories from the Middle East, selected by ACLS experts
14 April 2023
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- Israel Must Prepare for War with Iran Without US Help, Former NSA Chief Says (Times of Israel). “Iran is more sure of itself. It has managed to sign several agreements with Arab states. As a result, the world is starting to look different,” [Yaacov Amidror] said, referring to the recent agreements by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran. “With all that, the chances of a [security] deterioration are greater,” said Amidror, a hawkish former general who served as Nation Security Council chief under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 2011-2013.
- Israel Seeks US Support for IDF Buildup as Experts Predict Iran Strike (Jerusalem Post). On Thursday, top Israeli defense official Eyal Zamir sought United States support to bolster IDF forces as a security expert predicted that Israel might have to strike Iran within the year to halt its nuclear program…[Zamir] spoke after a meeting with US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl in Washington, which took place as Israel remains in danger of an immediate war on one or all of three borders – Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria – after rockets were launched during the last week against Israel from all three fronts.
- Secretary-General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Visits Iraq, Vows to Expel Zionist Invaders from Palestine (Abu Ali Express). Ziyad al-Nakhlah, who arrived in Baghdad last night, met today with former Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, and with Iran’s ambassador to Iraq. Al-Nakhlah delivered a speech from the virtual stage of the Iranian-backed “International Jerusalem Day,” during which he praised the entire Arab nation for uniting against Israel and also praised the Palestinian people.
- Islamic Republic Set to Hold State-Sponsored Anti-Israel Day (Iran International). Iranian state media is sounding the rallying cry for participation in the annual pro-Palestine event, held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on April 14 this year. The general public usually shuns such state-sponsored events, and the regime ends up transporting paramilitary Basij forces and its supporters from small towns to provincial capitals to form demonstrations with large crowds for the façade of mass support.
- Iran, Russia, China, and Pakistan Reiterate Respect for Afghanistan’s Independence and Territorial Integrity (Tasnim News). The foreign ministers of Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan released a joint statement after a Thursday meeting in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand within the framework of a ministerial conference of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries. The ministers paid attention to the efforts of the interim [Taliban] government of Afghanistan to deal with ISIS-Khorasan.
- Iran, Russia, and China FMs Meet, See Opportunity in Post-US Afghanistan (Al-Monitor). The main participants in the Samarkand summit – China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran – have been jostling in a covert rivalry for influence in the new Afghanistan, including leverage in the geopolitical calculations in Kabul.
- Iran’s Resolve to Boost Ties with Japan (Tasnim News). Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian, in a phone conversation with his Japanese counterpart Hayashi Yoshimasa on Wednesday, expressed Tehran’s commitment to further deepening ties with Tokyo…According to a statement issued by Iran’s foreign ministry, the Japanese foreign minister, for his part, said friendly relations between Tehran and Tokyo were of high importance. The two top diplomats also discussed ongoing efforts to revive the nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In addition, Japan’s FM said he is pleased with the “positive trend” of cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), referring to recent meetings between the IAEA officials and Iranian authorities to streamline cooperation.
- ”They Almost Killed Me”: Syrian-American Detainee Sues Assad Regime in US Court (The Levant News). A lawsuit has been filed in the US District of Columbia against the Syrian regime for widespread and systematic torture in its detention centers. The suit represents Syrian-American citizen Obada Mazik, who experienced arrest and torture in the Air Force Intelligence branch at Mezzeh Military Airport in early 2012…Obada Mazik recounts experiencing beatings, threats of electric shocks, and being forced to witness the torture of his relatives.
- Military Delegation from Northeast Syria Takes Part in a Hearing at the French Parliament (SDF Press). The delegation participated in discussions addressing various topics related to the Middle East region, including the fight against ISIS terrorist cells and attempts by regional countries to revive the terrorist organization. They also discussed the Syrian crisis, particularly the situation in northern and eastern Syria, and the challenges faced by the region. Additionally, the delegation touched upon the violations committed in Afrin by Türkiye and its mercenaries.
- The Most Prominent Operations of the International Coalition against ISIS in 2023 (Al Sharq News). In March 2023, international coalition forces carried out nine military operations in Syria, resulting in the deaths of two ISIS fighters and the arrest of 11 ISIS members. In February 2023, a coalition-led raid in Syria killed an ISIS leader. In January 2023, the coalition forces apprehended the security and media official of the organization in Syria.
- Hours After Assad’s Foreign Minister Visits Jedda, Saudi Arabia Intercepts 3.6 Million Amphetamine Pills Concealed in Potato Shipment (Syria TV). The spokesman for the General Directorate for Drug Control in Saudi Arabia confirmed that the drug shipment recipients, including 3 residents and 2 expatriates on a visit visa, were arrested in the Riyadh region. However, the identity of the arrested people and the shipment’s source were not disclosed.
- Saudi Foreign Minister Meets with White House Middle East Coordinator McGurk (Al Arabiya). Prince Faisal and US National Security Council coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk discussed further strategies to enhance joint coordination between the two countries and exchanged views on regional and international developments, the Saudi foreign ministry said in a tweet.
- Qatari PM: Syria’s Arab League Return is Mere Speculation (Al Hurra). The Qatari prime minister stated on Qatar state television that the reasons for suspending Syria’s membership and boycotting the Syrian regime still exist for the State of Qatar. This statement comes ahead of an upcoming Gulf Arab meeting on Friday to discuss the Syrian crisis and the potential return of Damascus to its Arab surroundings.
- US Envoy for Yemen Will Meet with Yemeni, Saudi, and International Partners to Discuss Next Steps in Peace Process (Al Hadath). The US State Department has announced that its envoy to Yemen, Tim Lenderking, is embarking on a tour of Gulf countries to advance the peace process and end the country’s ongoing war. The statement also noted that “after more than a year of intensive diplomatic efforts by the United States and the United Nations, and with support from regional partners such as Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman, Yemen is witnessing an unprecedented opportunity for peace.”
- Yemeni Presidential Council Confirms Full Readiness for Peace (Al Hadath). The Head of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad al-Alimi, said, “The Presidential Leadership Council and the government are committed to the pursuit of a just and comprehensive peace, demonstrating complete readiness for this accomplishment, which serves the interests of the Yemeni people and their aspirations to restore state institutions, security, stability, and development.”
- Türkiye Launches World’s First Drone Carrier (Al Quds Al Arabi). Türkiye unveiled the “TCG Anadolu” ship, the world’s first military drone carrier and one of the latest products of the local defense industries. During the delivery ceremony, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that they are making a confident and steady move towards establishing fully independent and self-reliant defense industries in the country.
- Turkiye’s Normalization Talks with Syria: 4 Key Topics on the Agenda (Hurriyet). The normalization talks between Turkey and Syria will continue in May with a meeting of the foreign ministers. Turkey has four agenda items on the table: humanitarian aid; the return of refugees; reviving the political process and ensuring the representation of the Syrian opposition; and the fight against [PKK] terrorism.
- Erdoğan Confident of Victory in First Round of Presidential Race (Hurriyet Daily News). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed confidence that he will win the presidential elections in the first round by securing 50 percent of votes, stressing that he is observing the people’s massive attention towards him in the public rallies and other meetings…On a question about the fact that Türkiye’s polls are being closely followed by the international community, Erdoğan said “It is important in regard to Türkiye’s place in the world.” The West has some calculations over Türkiye; the president stressed. “Türkiye will convey a message to the West through these elections…This country is no longer waiting for the West’s reaction while fighting against terror or shaping its economic policies.”
- Kurdistan Regional PM Welcomes Emirati Delegation (Kurdistan 24). KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani highlighted the strong friendship and relationship between the Kurdistan Region and the United Arab Emirates, expressing gratitude to the UAE President and Vice President for their ongoing support of the Kurdistan Region. Furthermore, the UAE Cabinet Affairs Assistant…confirmed his country’s readiness to offer all forms of coordination and cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government.
- Italian Prime Minister Hosts Kurdistan Region President (Kurdistan 24). Nechirvan Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region, was officially welcomed by Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, in a ceremony held in Rome on Thursday. Meloni emphasized that Italy maintains solid relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, ensuring security and stability.
- Nasrallah Hails West Bank Resistance, Says US Hegemony Will Be Replaced by Multipolar Order (Al Watan Online). In his address on International Al-Quds Day, Nasrallah highlighted the increasing strength of the resistance in the besieged Gaza Strip …He emphasized that the resistance in the West Bank and Palestine serves as Jerusalem’s shield… Nasrallah also noted that the world is steadily transitioning towards a multipolar order, signaling the end of the single-pole hegemony represented by the United States.