April 4, 2023
1. Iran-Saudi Arabia Joint Chamber of Commerce to Be Launched Soon (Tasnim Agency). A member of the Presiding Board of the Iran Chamber of Commerce said on Monday that an Iran-Saudi Arabia Joint Chamber of Commerce will be set up in the very near future to strengthen mutual ties in trade and economic fields. Keyvan Kashefi made the remarks on Monday at the 82nd Meeting of the Council of Dialogue between the Public and Private Sectors held in Kermanshah province, terming the restoration of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia as the most important political and economic event in the country in recent weeks.
2. Iran-Qatar Bilateral Trade to Reach $3 Billion by 2025: TPOI (Tasnim Agency). It is estimated that the volume of trade exchange between Iran and Qatar, including imports, exports, joint investment, transit, re-export, and joint production, will hit $3 billion by 2025.
3. Riyadh Seeks to Open Its Embassy in Tehran on Eid al-Fitr (Al Khaleej Online). An Iranian newspaper said on Monday that Saudi Arabia is working to reopen its embassy in Iran within less than a month, with the escalation of rapprochement between the two countries following the agreement to restore relations.
ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRTORIES
4. Hamas Sentences Two People to Death on Charges of Collaborating with Israel (AFP). The Supreme Military Court in Gaza said it had issued “final rulings against six collaborators with the occupation in six pending cases.” Last year witnessed an increase in the issuance of death sentences in the Gaza Strip, reaching 17 verdicts, which raises the number of death sentences issued since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority to at least 270, 240 of which were in the Gaza Strip alone, according to Palestinian human rights centers.
5. Netanyahu Is Looking for a Right-Wing Soldier to Lead Ben Gvir’s “Militia.” (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The sources said that one of the strongest candidates for the position is Gal Hirsch, a former senior army officer and member of the Likud leadership who is facing trial on charges of arms trafficking with internationally banned parties.
6. Huge Losses… How Does the Kurdistan Region Face the Repercussions of the French Arbitration Decision? (Al-Nahar Al-Arabi). According to unaudited figures, stopping the export of the Kurdistan region’s oil via Turkey means the region’s loss of financial revenues of about 400-500 thousand barrels per day. The nominal net loss of this cut, if it continues for a whole year, amounts to about $10 billion, which is the amount that will be deducted from the Iraqi budget, which must pay 12.6 percent of the general budget to the Kurdistan region, after deducting sovereign expenses.
7. Turkish Airlines Temporarily Suspends Flights to Sulaimani Airport (Kurdistan 24). Turkish Airlines has reportedly suspended flights to Sulaimani International Airport for the month of April…It is not the first time Turkey stopped flights to Sulaimani. Ankara grounded flights to Sulaimani for over a year following the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in Sept. 2017…The reported Turkish ban comes after a helicopter carrying members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from Rojava (northeast Syria) to Sulaimani crashed in Duhok in late March, killing nine SDF fighters.
THE GULF REGION
8. As Part of its 2023 Financial Strategy, Saudi Arabia Offers Government Bonds in Electricity Sector to International Buyers (Sky News Arabia Business). The Electricity Company, in which the Public Investment Fund owns approximately 75 percent of its shares, said that it aims from the offering to finance the company’s public purposes, including capital expenditures and funding a portfolio of green projects. Reuters reported, quoting a document it had seen, that the Saudi Electricity Company set an initial guiding price at about 165 basis points over US Treasury bonds to issue green sukuk [Islamic finance bonds] for ten years.
9. Voluntary Production Cuts: Did OPEC+ Seek to Avoid a Repeat of the 2008 Collapse? (Sky News Arabia Business). The sudden decision of several oil-exporting countries within the “OPEC +” coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to voluntarily reduce oil production by 1.657 million barrels per day until the end of 2023…reflects important economic and potential political considerations. Russia publically attributed the decrease in its oil production to the high level of global inflation. Kuwait stated that the decision is related to recession due to fear of a significant global crisis. “This decline was fueled by traders’ fears that the collapse of banks would weaken global economic growth,” explained Ramadan, a Kuwaiti expert, to Sky News. Saudi Arabia said the decision came after the significant decline in oil prices. A Saudi expert said, “The decision is aimed at rebalancing oil prices and absorbing current or expected surpluses from some refineries, in light of Iran’s return to the markets, as well as Venezuela and some other countries that have begun to increase production.” An Iraqi expert commenting on his country’s reason for this decrease said, “This step came after many steps taken by oil-producing countries, including non-OPEC countries. Among them are countries that could benefit from the process for political purposes about removing oil as a political weapon used against other countries.”
10. 9.4 Million Visitors to the Great Mosque of Mecca in 10 Days (Al Sharq Al Awast). The scenes circulated from the al-Mataf and Sa’y bowl in the Great Mosque of Mecca monitor millions of Muslims as they flock around the clock since the start of Ramadan. In front of the daily influx of millions to perform Umrah and prayers in the Meccan Mosque, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques announced the completion of the preparation of the third Saudi expansion with all its floors, roofs, and squares to accommodate the largest number of pilgrims to the Grand Mosque, and to provide all services in all the halls of the third expansion.
11. White House Says OPEC+ Decision to Reduce Oil Production Is Illogical (Al Sharq Al Awsat). [NSC spokesman John] Kirby said the Biden administration is “focusing on prices for American consumers,” adding that it will continue to work with all producers and consumers to ensure that “the oil market supports economic growth and lower prices for American consumers.”
12. The Eastern Camp is Expanding…Gulf Countries Are Turning to the Shanghai Organization (Al Khaleej Online). In light of the diminishing American interest in the Middle East, the shift to internal files, and the raging conflict between Russia and Ukraine for more than a year and its various international repercussions, the Arab Gulf states are gradually turning towards the eastern camp to preserve their political and economic interests and strengthen their role internationally.
13. Inflation in Türkiye Continues Downward Trajectory, and Factory Activity Is Improving (Sky News Arabia Business). Consumer prices in March rose 2.29 percent month-on-month, lower than the 2.85 percent expected in a Reuters poll.
14. Signs of the Turkish-Israeli Crisis in the Context of the Armenian Massacre (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv, Şakir Ozkan Turunlar, sent a letter to the Haifa municipality, requesting the cancellation of its decision to name a street in Haifa the “Armenian massacre.” The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and demanded that the municipality cancel its decision.
15. Egypt Recovers Former President Sadat’s Passport Before It Can Be Sold at Auction (Sky News Arabia). The late February announcement by the American “Heritage” auction hall of the sale of Sadat’s diplomatic passport sparked widespread controversy inside Egypt regarding how he left the country, and at that time his family demanded an investigation and prosecution of those responsible. The Director of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, Dr. Ahmed Zayed, revealed the details of the recovery of Sadat’s passport and received it for display in his museum, coinciding with the celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of the Tenth of Ramadan.
16. Nine Yemeni Family Members Died as a Result of Torrential Rains (Al Hadath). Sources stated that among the dead were women and children, all of whom were from one family. Since the beginning of the week, heavy rains and torrential rains have caused the death of 13 people, including children, in several Yemeni governorates, as well as significant material damage to homes and camps for the displaced, and sweeping away many agricultural lands and properties.
17. Israel Attacks Targets Near Damascus, the Fourth Attack Against Targets in Syria in One Week (Abu Ali Express). Syrian sources indicate that the Israeli Air Force carried out two waves of attacks, launching missiles at Damascus International Airport and other targets south of the city. This marks the fourth Israeli attack in Syria in the last six days.
18. One Person Killed by an American Missile North of Idlib (Zaman Al Wasel). Local sources told “Zaman Al-Wasl” that a person named “Khaled Abdullah Al-Khalif,” who hails from the countryside of Deir Ezzor Governorate, was killed on Monday after being targeted by a US-made Hellfire missile by a drone belonging to the US-led Coalition forces…near the town of Killi, north of Idlib Governorate.
19. ISIS Claims Eight Operations Since the Beginning of April (Enab Baladi). ISIS announced on Monday responsibility for a series of attacks starting from March 31 until April 3. While the SDF did not announce these attacks, ISIS said that it carried out an attack on Monday on one of the SDF vehicles in village 47, south of Hasakah, killing two SDF members and wounding others.
20. Arab States Restoring Ties with Syria (Tehran Times). The rapprochements come as the United States loses its influence in the region. Back in 2011, Washington had significant sway over Arab states. Still, as the dynamics in West Asia changed and Syria emerged triumphant over foreign-backed terrorists, some Arab states are taking matters into their own hands, despite the anger of Washington.
21. Syrian Refugee Wins German Mayoral Election (Enab Baladi). Syrian refugee Rayan Al-Shibl…became the first mayor in southwestern Germany of Syrian origin…The 29-year-old Syrian refugee ran in the elections in the village of Ostelsheim, which is inhabited by about 2,500 people, as an independent candidate, but he belongs to the German “Green” party. Immediately after the result was announced, Al-Shibl said that he was “speechless,” adding, “Ostelsheim has become an example to be followed in the whole of Germany today, specifically in tolerance and universality.”