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THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 11, 2023

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TURKIYE

  1. 57 Governors Appointed in Major Reshuffle in Türkiye (Daily Sabah). In a significant reshuffle, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed 57 governors in Turkey through a presidential decree…The appointments involve various provinces, with governors being the highest-ranking administrative officials in each area, appointed by the president based on the Interior Ministry’s recommendation.
  2. Türkiye Renews Anti-Terror Vow After Losing 6 Soldiers to PKK in Iraq (Daily Sabah). Following the killing of six soldiers by PKK terrorists in northern Iraq, Turkey reaffirms its commitment to cracking down on terrorism until its complete eradication. The Defense Ministry announced that nearly a thousand members of the PKK and its Syrian branch YPG have been “neutralized” in 2023. The recent casualties came from Operation Claw-Lock, targeting terrorists in northern Iraq. In Syria, measures are being taken to ensure security and stability in operation areas. Additionally, three high-ranking Daesh members were captured in a joint operation with the Syrian National Army, and PKK/YPG attacks on civilians in Afrin caused injuries.
  3. Turkey Inflation: Erdogan’s Policy U-turn Tests Patience (Reuters). Turks are expected to face further inflationary pressures, with economists predicting a rise of up to 8.5% in August, driven by a weakening lira and recent tax hikes. President Tayyip Erdogan’s administration is undergoing a policy U-turn, including interest rate hikes, to tackle inflation and stabilize the economy. Despite Erdogan’s previous opposition to high rates, the central bank, under new Governor Hafize Gaye Erkan, has increased rates by 900 basis points, causing the lira to plummet.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israel Rescues 200 Citizens and Jews from Ethiopia Conflict Region (Times of Israel). Israel extracted some 200 citizens and local Jews from conflict zones in Ethiopia Thursday, the Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office announced, amid fighting in the African country’s northern Amhara region. According to a joint statement, Israel rescued 174 Israelis and Ethiopians eligible to immigrate from Gondar in Amhara, home to thousands of Ethiopians waiting for permission to move to Israel. Another 30 Israelis were rescued from Amhara’s capital city of Bahir Dar.
  2. Israeli Desalination, Wastewater Treatment Becomes Global Model for Water Scarcity (Times of Israel).  In the scorching summer heat, an Israeli farmer tends to a dripline taking a mix of ground and recycled water to palm trees — an approach honed for decades in the arid country and now drawing broad interest abroad. At the plantation in a desert near Eilat, the mineral-rich water passes through a plastic tube, nourishing the dates high above. “All of Eilat’s sewage is treated,” said Arik Ashkenazi, chief engineer of Ein Netafim, Eilat’s water and sewage utility, during a facility tour that sees wastewater cleared of solids and biological hazards. “The treated wastewater is transferred, to the last drop, to farmers” who mix it with groundwater and use it on the trees, he said.
  3. Netanyahu Pledges to Unfreeze Funds for Arab Towns (Arab News).  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to release at least $54M to Arab towns after his finance minister’s decision to withhold them drew accusations of racism. Netanyahu said the money would be transferred after a review but gave no details on what that would entail or how long it would take.
  4. Israel Claims it Foiled a Hamas Attempt to Smuggle Drones into Gaza Strip (New Arab). Israeli security forces claim to have foiled an attempt to smuggle ten reconnaissance drones into the Gaza Strip, which were hidden inside a suitcase and a vehicle bound for the area. The Israeli ministry stated that the drones were suspected to be intended for use by Hamas to enhance its weapon capabilities and pose a security threat to Israel. As of now, Hamas has not responded to Israel’s claims.
  5. In Surprise Move, Palestinian Leader Abbas Ousts 12 West Bank, Gaza Governors (Times of Israel). Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has unexpectedly removed 12 regional governors out of 16, including those in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with no explanation. This move comes amid warnings of the PA’s financial collapse and its diminishing control over security. Abbas has also ordered the creation of a committee to find suitable replacements for the removed governors. The PA’s strained relationship with the Hamas-led government in Gaza has led to recent attempts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation. 

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Italian Company Obtains $1B Contract to Use Gas in Libya (Al-Saaa24). The Italian multinational company “Sabem” has obtained a new contract from the Mellitah Oil and Gas Company to develop the Bouri field project, at a value of about one billion US dollars, for the use of gas in Libya—water depths ranging between 145m and 183m, off the Libyan coast. The contract includes engineering, construction, installation, and commissioning works, laying 28 kilometers of existing lines in the offshore facility, and increasing 5,000 tons of gas recovery units.
  2. Khartoum Calls for Replacement of Peretz as UN Envoy for Sudan (Al-Arabiya). The Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Al-Sadiq, on Thursday that Khartoum’s refusal to attend the head of the United Nations Mission to Sudan, Volker Peretz, at the UN Security Council session, on Wednesday, does not involve “any blackmail or threat to anyone.” Al-Sadiq added, in statements reported by the Sudanese news agency, that Sudan’s refusal to attend Peretz the session “is an exercise of its legitimate right to accept those it deems serving Sudan and its people and reject those who work against it.”
  3. Rapid Support Forces Claim New Victory in Omdurman (Rakoba News).  The Rapid Support Forces announced they had recently won over the army forces on many axes in Omdurman. A statement by the Rapid Support Forces stated that its forces killed 174 of the army and wounded about 300 others. It also captured 83 battles between the two sides in several neighborhoods in Omdurman, Khartoum.
  4. Humanitarian Situation Worsens, Clashes Expand in Sudanese Capital (Al-Araby). The circle of conflicts between the Sudanese army and the “rapid support” forces expanded today, Thursday, in the capital, Khartoum, interrupting public services, including water and electricity. The army stated that “the action forces of the Armored Corps (south of Khartoum) are carrying out extensive combing operations in the Jabra and Al-Ashra areas.” The cities of Omdurman, west of the capital, Khartoum, and Bahri (North), are also witnessing clashes, with intense flights of warplanes in Bahri and army forces combing the old neighborhoods of Omdurman. The Rapid Support Forces pursued, while residents of those neighborhoods fled to other places to escape the ongoing clashes.
  5. Egypt’s Annual Core Inflation Eases to 40.7 Percent in July (English Ahram). Egypt’s annual core inflation rate recorded 40.7 percent in July 2023, a slight decrease from 41 percent in June, according to data released by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) on Thursday.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Prominent Yemeni Commander Among Four Killed in Suspected al-Qaeda Attack in Abyan (Al Arabiya News). A bombing in southern Yemen killed four fighters loyal to the Southern Transitional Council, including a prominent commander who previously survived assassination attempts by al-Qaeda, a security official said. The roadside bomb detonated while their convoy was near the village of Mudiyah in Abyan province, said the source who spoke anonymously. The convoy had been en route to a flashpoint area with regular confrontations with al-Qaeda fighters.
  2. Aramco’s Profits Move Saudi Budget From Deficit to Surplus (Al Khaleej Online). Bloomberg Economics reported that Saudi Arabia is preparing to record a budget surplus for the second year in 2023, thanks to Aramco’s dividend increase…Emerging markets analyst at the agency, Ziyad Daoud, said that he expects the Saudi budget to achieve a surplus by the end of this year, shifting from the deficit in the first half of the year, driven by the decline in oil prices and social support programs…Dawood referred to the voluntary reduction of oil production by the Kingdom, and thus lower revenues for Aramco, in which the Saudi government has a share of about 90%. Still, the consequential increase in oil price may change the revenue value. 
  3. Saudi-Kuwaiti Agreement to Continue Dorra Field Plan (Al Khaleej Online). A Kuwaiti newspaper revealed that the executive committee between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for the Dorra field project held a meeting last Tuesday, reviewing the latest developments in the field…Today, Thursday, the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Rai, quoted informed sources as confirming the agreement of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to continue with the agreed action plan according to the timetable…The sources indicated that the meeting was held in the presence of the leaders of the Kuwait Gulf Oil Company and Aramco officials…a day after the CEO of Aramco, Amin Al-Nasser, confirmed that the plans related to the Dorra field would proceed as planned with Kuwait.

IRAN

  1. U.S. Reaches Deal With Iran to Free Americans for Jailed Iranians and Funds (New York Times). The United States and Iran have reached an agreement to win the freedom of five imprisoned Americans in exchange for several jailed Iranians and eventual access to about $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue…As a first step in the agreement, which comes after more than two years of quiet negotiations, Iran has released into house arrest five Iranian American dual citizens, according to officials at the State Department and the National Security Council.
  2.  Massive Explosion Reported at Steel Complex in Northern Iran, 8 Injured (I24). The blast happened at 11 a.m. (local time) in the melting section of the complex due to a ‘momentary water leak.’ A massive explosion was reported at the Esfarayen Industrial Complex in Iran’s northern province of North Khorasan. According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, at least eight people were injured. The report added that the blast happened at 11 a.m. (local time) in the melting section of the complex due to a “momentary water leak.”
  3.  Electoral Roll Cyber Attack Could Have Been Work of China, Iran, or North Korea (The Telegraph). Downing Street is looking at whether China, Iran, or North Korea was behind a cyber attack that exposed the data of up to 40 million British voters. The Telegraph understands security services are widening the net in the search for the “hostile actors” who hacked the Electoral Commission database. Russia remains a prime suspect, but ministers are not ruling out the involvement of another state that may wish to undermine British democracy. One source said the UK was in a “grey zone” cyber conflict with Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea, adding that they were all “testing our defenses”…The Electoral Commission revealed on Tuesday that it had been the victim of a “complex cyber attack” and said it had called in experts from GCHQ.
  4. Germany Warns Iranian Dissidents over Hackers Threat (Iran Wire). The German domestic intelligence agency has warned critics of the Iranian leadership living in Germany about the threat of cyberespionage against them. Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) on August 10 warned Iranian dissidents that the Charming Kitten online espionage group might target them. Charming Kitten works by building trust with victims to the extent that they expose data on themselves and their online contacts in Iran, the BfV said. The attacks are mainly directed at dissident organizations and professionals who have contact with them, including legal practitioners, journalists, or human rights activists in Iran and abroad.
  5. Iran’s Government Threatens People Ahead Of Protest Anniversary (Iran International). As the anniversary of last year’s protests approaches in September, Iran’s security agencies, including the intelligence ministry and the Revolutionary Guards, have employed intimidation tactics and threats to dissuade people from participating in demonstrations. Individuals previously arrested during the anti-regime protests have been contacted and warned against joining any anniversary protests, with some being asked to sign pledges to stay home and take time off work. The regime has also intensified pressure on the families of those killed in the protests and their lawyers. The government’s crackdown on peaceful protesters and the potential for renewed protests on the anniversary have raised concerns, with the regime blaming foreign involvement and claiming a strategy to disrupt upcoming elections.
  6. Iran and South Africa Sign Cooperation Document (Islamic Republic News Agency). Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and his South African counterpart, Naledi Pandor, have signed a cooperation document establishing the Joint Commission of Cooperation between the two countries. The signing occurred during the first South Africa-Iran Joint Commission of Cooperation session in Pretoria. This move comes as part of Amir-Abdollahian’s official visit to South Africa, where discussions are focused on bilateral issues and the resumption of the Joint Commission after a three-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic. Additionally, preparations are being made for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s attendance at the Friends of BRICS summit in South Africa on August 24.

SYRIA 

  1. Leaked Document Says Iran Spent $50B in Syria–and is Recovering it as Debt (Al Arabiya). The document, which an opposition group obtained by hacking the Iranian presidential website, states that Iran’s budget during the ten-year Syrian war exceeded $50 billion. Still, the agreements concluded with Syria to recover these funds are at most $18 billion.
  2. Iranian Lawmaker Calls for Expanding Economic Relations with the Syrian Regime (Syria TV). The head of the National Security Committee in the Iranian parliament, Vahid Jalalzadeh, called for expanding economic and trade relations with the Syrian regime. In contrast, the regime’s media reported that “strengthening parliamentary cooperation” is the focus of the Iranian delegation’s meetings in Damascus…An Iranian parliamentary delegation, headed by Zadeh, visited Damascus for three days, during which it met with the head of the government of the Syrian regime, Hussein Arnous, his foreign minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, and the head of the People’s Assembly, Hamouda al-Sabbagh.

IRAQ

  1. PM Sudani Says Iraq Needs 3 Years to End Dependence on Iranian Gas (Al Sharq Al Awsat). On Thursday, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’a al-Sudani, set the period after which Iraq will dispense with importing gas to operate its power stations, which is three years from now…Al-Sudani said, during the inauguration of two installed units at the Al-Amarah gas power station in Maysan Governorate in the south, that “this project will supply the system with a new capacity of 250 megawatts,” noting at the same time that “these strategic projects will contribute to reducing operational budget spending, especially concerning importing gas.” It is one of the ongoing projects since 2019.

LEBANON

  1. United States, Britain, and Canada Sanction Former Lebanese Central Bank Governor (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The United States, Canada, and Britain imposed economic sanctions on financial corruption charges on the former Banque du Liban governor, Riad Salameh, who had recently left office without appointing a successor…These sanctions came when Salameh faced accusations at home and abroad, as convictions followed him one after the other when European countries began to investigate whether he had used his position to embezzle public money and create wealth behind it.
  2. Lebanese Army Begins Investigation and Confiscates Ammunition from Wrecked Hezbollah Truck (Al Jazeera). The Lebanese army confiscated a load of ammunition that was in a Hezbollah truck that overturned yesterday, Wednesday, on a highway in the town of Kahala, near Beirut, which sparked a clash between the town’s residents and the party’s members, which resulted in two deaths…And the Lebanese army announced – in a statement – the opening of an investigation, supervised by the judiciary, regarding the clashes in the town of Kahaleh, and an army force surrounded it and transported a load of ammunition from the overturned truck to a military center.
  3. UN Hands Lebanon Data on Syrian Refugees, Amid Human Rights Concerns (BBC Arabic). The Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had agreed with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees regarding Beirut’s request to disclose the data of Syrian refugees on Lebanese soil…This came during a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates in the Lebanese caretaker government, Abdullah Bouhabib, and a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees delegation, including representatives from Geneva, Amman, Copenhagen, and Beirut.

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