THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 15, 2023

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  1. Türkiye Prepares to Launch New Model for Returning Refugees to Syria (Daily Sabah). Turkey is preparing to launch the “Aleppo model,” a comprehensive plan to facilitate the safe and voluntary return of Syrian refugees to their homeland and address irregular migration. The project focuses on solving housing and unemployment issues in war-torn areas, with priorities set on the Aleppo region. Turkey has partnered with Qatar to build fully equipped homes in Idlib and Afrin. The plan includes agricultural plots, commercial facilities, and social services like education and healthcare. Turkey aims to cooperate with countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to address irregular migration and is taking measures to regulate the employment of foreign workers.
  2. Türkiye Expects Armenia to Avoid ‘Provocative Steps’ on Lachin Road (Anadolu Agency). Turkey is closely monitoring the situation surrounding the Lachin road in the southern Caucasus and understands Azerbaijan’s concerns. Turkey expects Armenia to avoid “provocative steps” on the Lachin road and calls for recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Despite ongoing peace talks, tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have risen over the Lachin road and Azerbaijan’s establishment of a border checkpoint on the road. 


  1. Jordan and Israel Meet in the UAE to Finalize Controversial Water-For-Energy Deal (New Arab). Jordan, the UAE, and Israel held a trilateral meeting in the UAE to advance a controversial water-for-energy deal. The conference aimed to push forward the implementation of a 2021 memorandum of understanding (MOU) brokered by the UAE and the US, which involves Jordan building 600 megawatts of solar power capacity to export to Israel in exchange for 200 million cubic meters of desalinated water. The project seeks to address water shortages in Jordan and strengthen regional cooperation. The MOU was signed at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, and the UAE’s role in normalizing relations between Israel and Gulf states is emphasized.
  2. Israel’s Netanyahu Cools Censure of Protesting Reservists as Judicial Crisis Simmers (Reuters). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has softened his criticism of military reservists protesting against his judicial overhaul plan as concerns about the country’s war readiness arise. The reservists have stopped reporting for duty and are protesting against a bill limiting the Supreme Court’s powers. Netanyahu changed his language in a statement, rejecting “conditional reserve duty,” but the reservist group, “Brothers in Arms,” remained unmoved, accusing him of downplaying military readiness risks. The ongoing protest and its potential impact on military operations have raised debates about Israel’s democracy and security.
  3. Palestinian Prisoners Launch Hunger Strike against Israeli Repressive Measures (Tasnim News Agency). Thirteen Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli facilities have launched an open-ended hunger strike to protest against their administrative detention and repressive measures by the Israeli regime. The strike was initiated by detainees in “Rimon” prison, including individuals from Qabatiya, and other prisoners have joined in various facilities. Israel’s policy of administrative detention allows imprisonment without trial or charge, and detainees can be held for up to six months with the possibility of indefinite extensions. This strike coincides with similar actions by administrative detainees in other prisons.
  4. Power Cuts and Heatwave Disrupt Lives of Sick Gazans (Reuters). A heatwave and worsening power cuts in Gaza have led to significant challenges for residents, particularly those with health conditions. Ismail Nashwan, who suffers from pulmonary fibrosis, has struggled to manage his condition due to power cuts preventing the use of necessary medical equipment like ventilators and fans. High demand for air conditioning has exacerbated power cuts, lasting around 12 hours a day. The Gaza Strip, home to over 2.3 million people, faces these difficulties amid a 16-year Israeli blockade that Hamas attributes to the region’s economic hardships. The extreme heat and power interruptions have increased respiratory problems and hospital visits during the hottest months.
  5. Shin Bet Foils 9-Man Hamas Cell Planning Kidnapping of Soldier in West Bank (Times of Israel). The Shin Bet security agency said it foiled plans by a Hamas terror cell to kidnap a soldier and carry out shooting and bombing attacks in the West Bank. Nine Palestinians were arrested by Israeli security forces during the past month over their suspected involvement in establishing the cell on behalf of the Gaza Strip-based Hamas in the West Bank town of Biddu on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The Shin Bet said the investigation of the suspects revealed that they were planning to kidnap an Israeli soldier and carry out shooting attacks and bombing attacks against Israeli forces in the central West Bank.


  1. Violent Clashes Between the Army and the Rapid Support Forces in 3 Sudanese States (Rakoba News). Violent clashes took place between the forces of the two parties to the conflict in the country in 3 areas, and eyewitnesses said to “Sputnik,” that “clashes between the army and the Rapid Support Forces took place in the vicinity of the Armored Corps, south of the capital, Khartoum,” the city of Omdurman in the state of Khartoum, and…in the city of Nyala…[F]or more than three months, violent and large-scale clashes have continued between the Sudanese army forces and the Rapid Support Forces.
  2. Tripartite Summit in El Alamein Stresses Need to End the Israeli Occupation (Youm7). The official spokesperson for the Presidency of the Republic, Counselor Ahmed Fahmy, announced the final statement of the Egyptian-Jordanian-Palestinian tripartite summit, which was held today in the new city of El Alamein, Where President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, hosted, in a tripartite summit, King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, in El Alamein today, August 14, to discuss developments of the Palestinian cause in light of the current developments in the land of the State of Palestine and occupied and the associated regional and international situations.
  3. Egyptian-Syrian Talks in Cairo on Tuesday to Discuss a Settlement (Al-Arabiya). The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced today, Monday, that the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, will hold talks with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Al-Miqdad, tomorrow, Tuesday, regarding developments in the situation in his country, and said that the two ministers will participate in the meeting of the Arab Ministerial Liaison Committee concerned with Syria after that.


  1. Oman Concludes 4-Year Gas Export Agreement With Germany (Al Khaleej Online). The Sultanate of Oman announced the conclusion of an agreement with Germany to export about 400 thousand metric tons of liquefied natural gas annually, starting in 2026 and for four years….According to a statement issued by the Oman LNG Company today, Monday, it has concluded the first agreement with the German company “Sevi,” which specializes in securing energy for Europe….Mahmoud Al Balushi, Head of Commercial Operations at the Omani company, said: “The signing of the binding clauses agreement with Sevi Company is an important step that consolidates the position of Omani liquefied gas exports in the global markets in general, and the German ones in particular.”
  2.  UAE-Backed Forces Surround Yemen PM in Aden (Middle East Monitor). A military group loyal to the UAE has stormed a government headquarters in the interim Yemeni capital, Aden, besieging Prime Minister Maeen Abdul-Malik, sources told Arabi21. Two sources, who asked not to be named, said that the situation is tense in Aden after forces linked to a member of the ruling Presidential Leadership Council, Abu Zaraa Al-Mahrami, who is loyal to Abu Dhabi, stormed Al-Maashiq Palace, the residence of the president of the Presidential Leadership Council. They added that Al-Mahrami’s forces surrounded the prime minister’s place due to his “refusal to pass a deal with a businessman loyal” to Al-Mahrami. The storming of the presidential palace came less than 48 hours after Abdul-Malik’s arrival to the interim capital on Saturday from Saudi Arabia.


  1. European Intel Agencies Assess Iran Close to Testing Nuclear Weapons for First Time (Jerusalem Post). The Islamic Republic of Iran is close to possibly testing a nuclear weapons device and has sought to obtain illicit technology for its active atomic weapons program, according to a series of shocking European intelligence reports released in 2023. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) first published translations of the intelligence documents on its website. The Jerusalem Post is the first Israeli newspaper to report on intelligence findings from the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany. The most unsettling revelation from the batch of intelligence data comes from the Netherlands General and Intelligence Security Service (AVID).
  2. Iran FM to Visit Saudi Arabia on Thursday (Tehran Times). Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian is reportedly set to visit Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in response to the recent diplomatic visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan to Tehran. The visit is expected to focus on bilateral issues and is scheduled for Thursday, August 17. This move comes as the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and its Consulate General in Mashhad have resumed their activities.
  3. MAPNA is Investing €6.5b in Power Projects Overseas (Newstral). Iran’s MAPNA Group, a principal contractor for steam, gas, and renewable power plants, has invested €6.5 billion in overseas projects, including power plants, renewable energy, transportation, and industries. The company’s activities in neighboring countries, particularly Iraq, focus on constructing and repairing power plants, with completed contracts for supplying 3,500 megawatts of electricity in Iraq. MAPNA is also engaged in projects and maintenance programs in Oman, Indonesia, and Pakistan, with plans to provide electricity in Syria and export large turbines. Iran’s advanced capabilities in constructing power plants are ready for export to regional countries.
  4. Taliban Lay Claim to Stretch of Iranian Border Area (Iran International). Aerial photos on social media have raised concerns over the Iranian government “conceding” thousands of hectares of land to the Taliban. The images depict a 130 km security wall built by Iran at a distance from the Afghan border along the Hirmand River. The Taliban now claim the frame corresponds to the wall, leading to clashes with Iranian border guards. The wall, constructed in the early 2000s to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration, has disrupted farmers’ access to agricultural land. The situation has escalated amid a water dispute and increased military presence in the region.
  5. Iran Using Strategic Gasoline Reserves As Consumption Hits Record (Iran International). Iran uses its strategic gasoline reserves to address a significant gap between production and consumption as fuel consumption hits a record high. The Iranian Oil Ministry has scaled back distribution and released around 900 million liters of strategic gasoline reserves to the market to compensate for the deficit. The move aims to curb smuggling and prevent potential protests from raising fuel prices. The daily gasoline consumption has seen a 20% increase compared to the previous year, leading to challenges in gasoline imports and distribution…Rumors of an impending gasoline price increase have prompted panic buying at gas stations.
  6. Prisoner Swap and Release of Iran’s Assets Unrelated, Says FM (Tasnim News Agency). Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has dismissed any connection between exchanging prisoners with the US and releasing Iran’s frozen assets abroad. He emphasized that the prisoner swap and the release of assets are separate agendas in the agreement between Iran and the US, mediated by a third country. Amirabdollahian highlighted that Iran’s assets in South Korea were frozen based on Washington’s order and clarified that the released money would be exchanged for euros before being deposited into Iran’s bank account in a regional country. He also mentioned the upcoming resumption of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, with both countries reopening embassies after seven years of estrangement.
  7. Iran Arrests 9 Bahais Over Corruption Charges (New Arab). Iranian authorities have arrested nine followers of the Bahai faith on corruption charges, including money laundering and tax evasion. The Bahais, Iran’s most significant non-Muslim minority, are considered “heretics” by the Islamic Republic and are often targeted due to alleged ties to Israel. The arrests were conducted in Tehran and targeted group members allegedly involved in owning pharmacies, cosmetic companies, and unauthorized warehouses. The Bahai community has long faced discrimination in Iran, where their faith is not recognized, and they have been subject to persecution and arrests.


  1. Türkiye Announces the Neutralization of 3 PKK Militants in Northern Syria (24). Today, Monday, the Turkish Ministry of Defense confirmed the neutralization of 3 Kurdish People’s Protection Units (PKK) militants in northern Syria…The Turkish Ministry of Defense stated in a statement, “The three terrorists who were neutralized were planning to carry out attacks on the areas of Operation Olive Branch and Operation Peace Spring,” according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
  2. Three Scenarios Between Al-Assad and the United Nations After the “Bab Al-Hawa Understanding” (Enab Baladi). Hours after the United Nations announced its welcome to extend the “permission” by the government of the Syrian regime to use two border crossings that it does not control with Turkey, the same international organization announced that it had reached an “understanding” with the government, to use the “Bab Al-Hawa” border crossing during the next six months This raised questions about what Russia’s ally, which has the “veto” in the Security Council, could gain in return for this “understanding.”


  1. Sudani Says Iraq Does Not Need Foreign Forces and Reveals Advanced Talks Regarding Iraq’s Relationship with the International Coalition (Al Jazeera). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani said today, Monday, that his country did not need foreign combat forces and revealed that advanced discussions had been held to determine the form of future relationship and cooperation with the international coalition…Al-Sudani said during his meeting with the leaders of the various ranks of the army that the Iraqis have become, after the liberation battles against the Islamic State, more united than ever.
  2. Iraq: Revealing the Map of Shiite and Sunni Electoral Alliances (Elaph). On Monday, the Iraqi Electoral Commission decided to conduct the first experimental simulation of the local elections on the second of next month. At the same time, the alliances of Shiite and Sunni political forces that will contest them at the end of this year have been revealed…After the commission announced the registration of 50 political alliances representing several parties, it was revealed that the Sunni political forces have joined under 13 alliances, while the Shiites are in 11 alliances to contest the elections.


  1. Lebanon Judicial Source Says US Sanctions Against Salameh Do Not Constitute Evidence for his Prosecution (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The new sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department on the former Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, gave a moral impetus to the ongoing prosecutions against him and those close to him in Lebanon and abroad. Still, they do not provide additional evidence of the crimes attributed to him and do not constitute a presumption of accusation against him despite their moral impact on him and his family. Those close to him were included in these penalties…A Lebanese judicial source following Salameh’s files said, “The US sanctions have a moral impact on the former central bank governor, but they do not constitute material evidence of the accusations he faces in Lebanon and abroad.”
  2. Lebanese Army Arrests 134 Immigrants to Europe, While Spain Dismantles Network to Smuggle Syrians from Lebanon (Al Nahar). The Lebanese army announced that it had arrested on Saturday near the border with Syria 134 people, the vast majority of them Syrians, for trying to sneak illegally by sea to Europe, indicating that it had also stopped their Lebanese smuggler. The army said in a statement that [it had arrested] “in the town of Sheikh Zinad- Akkar, 130 Syrians and 4 Lebanese, for attempting to sneak across the sea illegally towards a European country.”

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