The Early Phoenix

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A first look at today’s most notable stories from the Middle East, selected by ACLS experts

April 15-17, 2023


  1. 100 Civilians Killed in Military Clashes (Al Hadath). The head of the United Nations Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan, UNITAMS, Volker Peretz, confirmed today, Monday, that the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces were only “partly” committed to stopping the fighting for humanitarian purposes yesterday. The mission said in a statement that the UN Special Representative for Sudan expressed his “extreme disappointment” that the cessation of hostilities for humanitarian purposes was only partially adhered to, noting that the clashes intensified this morning.


  1.  Baghdad Yet to Ask Ankara to Resume KRG Crude Exports (Reuters). KRG crude exports are yet to resume after they were halted in late March due to a court ruling in France, pending Baghdad calling on Ankara to restart pipeline flows…Media reports also indicate that Turkey wants to negotiate the compensation of $1.5 billion it was ordered to pay Baghdad for KRG’s “unauthorized oil exports.”
  1.  KDP Says Turkiye Still Refuses to Export Oil Until Second Complaint with Baghdad is Resolved (al Iraqi News). A member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Wafaa Muhammad Karim, blamed the National Oil Company “SOMO” for the financial losses due to the cessation of oil exports from the region. Karim said in a press interview, “Turkey is the one that refuses to resume oil exports until the second complaint submitted by the Ministry of Oil against Ankara is resolved, and also in an attempt to cancel the sums imposed on it by the arbitral tribunal in Paris.”
  1.  KDP Accuses PUK of Refusing to Hand Over Sulaymaniyah Revenues to Kurdistan Regional Government (al Iraqi News). A member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Idris Shaaban, on Saturday accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, of not “handing over the financial revenues of the Sulaymaniyah governorate to the treasury of the Kurdistan Regional Government.” Shaaban said in a press interview, “All security, military and service institutions in Sulaymaniyah are managed by a partisan side in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.”
  1.  Sadr Freezes His Political Movement for One Year (Bas News). Iraqi Shia cleric and leader of the Sadrist Movement Muqtada al-Sadr on Friday announced his decision to freeze his movement and suspend all activities for one year over “sinful” practices among supporters. He also accused some of his own party’s officials of corruption. In the statement, the influential Shia cleric noted that he could not embark on a mission to carry out reforms in the country if he was unable to start conducting reforms in his own political entity.


  1. Thousands of Syrians Protest Against Arab Normalization with the Assad Regime (Syria TV). Thousands of people demonstrated in the cities and towns of northwestern Syria on Friday under the theme “We die and we do not reconcile Assad” to condemn the Arab normalization with the Syrian regime, stressing that “normalization with this criminal regime is an unforgivable crime.”
  1. Syrian Negotiations Committee Warns Against Normalization with Assad and Calls for Implementation of Resolution 2254 (Syria TV). In a statement published on Saturday, the SNC cited the need for a political solution in Syria in full accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to ensure the conflict in Syria does not continue. The SNC statement said…The Syrian people, who are suffering under the yoke of tyranny, corruption, and plundering by the authoritarian regime, are still standing and resisting for human dignity, freedom, justice, and their right to life and decent living.
  1. Syrian Democratic Forces Released Dozens of Prisoners from Hasakah Prisons for Good Behavior (Syria TV). An informed source told Syria TV website that twenty detainees had been released in Al-Hasakah central prison, and nearly forty detainees in Alaya Prison in the city of Qamishli. The detainees were released “as a result of the suspension of the enforceable sentence for the good behavior of the inmates after a quarter of the period or more has passed.”
  1. CENTCOM Raid Targets ISIS Leader in Syria (Al Jazeera). The US Central Command said that its forces targeted and possibly killed a senior leader of the Islamic State in the early hours of Monday morning…For its part, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the coalition forces carried out the raid in the countryside of Jarablus, which is under the control of the Syrian factions loyal to Ankara, “targeting a prominent leader” in the ISIS organization.
  1. Turkiye Claims Four Soldiers Were Wounded in SDF Rocket Attack (Syria TV). Syria TV reported that the SDF targeted a Turkish base in the vicinity of the city of Azaz, north of Aleppo. The Turkish military responded by bombing SDF sites near the Azaz.
  1. Kuwait Calls on Syrian Regime to Release Detainees (Enab Baladi). On April 15, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Al Sabah stressed the importance of the Syrian regime taking real and tangible steps towards confidence-building measures, including the release of prisoners and detainees, revealing the fate of the missing, facilitating the return of refugees and displaced persons, and facilitating the process of humanitarian aid reaching all those in need in various Syrian regions, and the resumption of the work of the Constitutional Committee, leading to national reconciliation.
  1. Assad’s Foreign Minister Miqdad Travels to Four Arab Capitals in 15 Days (Enab Baladi). A group of Arab countries are conducting political moves to rehabilitate Assad in the Arab world, and this was evident in a ministerial meeting that took place in Riyadh on April 15 to discuss the collective position on the regime’s return to the Arab League. The meeting ended with a final statement that ignored the issue of Assad’s return, indicating that no agreement was reached in this regard. 
  1.  Increased Reports of Suicide in Regime Areas During Ramadan (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights). The rate of suicide cases has increased significantly during the past few days in Syria…due to poor living and economic conditions, especially within the areas controlled by the regime forces, and the resulting psychological pressures on which the Syrian citizens are affected, especially the youth, amid the high cost of housing. The prices of all the necessities of life, the scarcity of job opportunities, the low wages and salaries for employees and workers, and many other difficulties facing the Syrians.
  1.  ISIS Kills 31 People, Including 12 National Defense Militiamen, in Hama Province in One Day (SOHR). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored that the death toll rose to 31, including at least 12 members of the “National Defense” militia, in an attack launched by ISIS gunmen on April 16 against civilians and military personnel who were searching for “truffles” in Duizen area east of Hama. The death toll is likely to rise due to the presence of missing persons and seriously wounded…According to the documentation of the Syrian Observatory, the death toll during military operations in the Syrian Desert has reached 289 since the beginning of 2023.


  1.  Khamenei Urges Senior Military Commanders to Be Vigilant Against Enemies (Tehran Times). Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution, met on Sunday with a number of top Iranian military officials…He underlined that “the enemy can be defeated despite its seemingly solid calculations and military power”… “Paying close attention to the enemy’s five or ten-year plans is good and necessary, but its mid-term and long-term plans should also be considered and monitored.” 


  1. Iran’s Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi Announces Intention to Visit Israel (Jerusalem Post). Pahlavi made the announcement on Twitter, writing that his visit’s purpose is to “deliver a message of friendship from the Iranian people, engage Israeli water experts on ways to address the regime’s abuse of Iran’s natural resources and pay respects to the victims of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah.”
  1. Israeli Security Agency Exposes Attempts by IRGC Quds Force to Recruit Palestinians (Jerusalem Post). Indictments were filed against two Palestinian West Bank residents after they had been recruited in recent months to conduct operations on behalf of Hezbollah and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, the Shin Bet announced on Monday. Two residents of the West Bank, Yussef and Marsil Mansour, were found to have been contacted by officials from the Hezbollah terrorist organization. The two agreed to smuggle weapons to Israel and sell them while assisting criminal elements in Israel. Yussef also agreed to gather information about the IDF’s operations in the West Bank and Israel and to recruit additional operatives.

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