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THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 16, 2023

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Turkiye

  1. US Sends Reinforcements to PKK/YPG-Held Syrian Territory (Daily Sabah). The United States has sent reinforcements, including fuel, weapons, and ammunition, to its bases in northern Syria’s Deir ez-Zor region, currently occupied by the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the YPG. The convoy, guarded by military vehicles, arrived from the Syria-Iraq border crossing. The U.S. has consistently supplied military outposts near oil fields in the Hassakeh, Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor areas. Despite Turkey’s security concerns and objections, the U.S. continues to support the YPG, a group considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S. This ongoing support strains relations between the two NATO allies.
  2. CHP’s Istanbul Mayor Signals Reelection Bid (Hurriyet Daily News). Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, a prominent figure in Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has implicitly announced his intention to seek re-election in the upcoming municipal polls. He stated his strong connection with Istanbul and commitment to serving the city as its mayor. İmamoğlu’s declaration comes amid discussions within the opposition for party rejuvenation, raising speculation about his potential candidacy for the CHP chairmanship. He emphasized the need for unity and collective action to secure victory in the elections, and he expressed the importance of addressing party members’ concerns and sentiments for effective rejuvenation.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Hamas and Islamic Jihad Seen Importing Gaza Military Tactics to the West Bank (Times of Israel). Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been exploiting the power vacuum in the northern West Bank to strengthen their military presence and replicate the fighting tactics against Israel they developed in Gaza, according to a new report. The analysis, published last week by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), highlights the various indications pointing at a recent military infrastructure emerging in the Jenin and Nablus areas — resembling what already exists in the coastal enclave ruled by Hamas since 2007 — thanks to the dwindling control of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority over the place. Among these indications are local manufacturing of weapons and advanced explosive devices; excavating tunnels; launching rockets; and fostering cooperation among terror organizations, similar to the “Joint War Room” they set up in the Gaza Strip.
  2. Netanyahu and Levin Said They’re Aiming to Halt Overhaul for a Year to Focus on Haredi Draft Law (Times of Israel). Netanyahu’s coalition allies express ‘disinterest’ in judicial reform and warn that without IDF exemption law approval in the upcoming winter session, Haredi factions’ coalition commitment might waver. 
  3. Fatah Moves Closer to Palestinian Islamic Jihad in a Rare Gaza Meeting (Jerusalem Post). Leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Fatah faction held a rare meeting in Gaza to discuss strengthening bilateral relations amid mounting tensions between the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and PIJ. The meeting followed discussions between PIJ leaders and Hezbollah in Beirut regarding regional developments. The tensions escalated after Palestinian security forces arrested PIJ members in the West Bank and were further strained by attacks on a police station and limited clashes. The Gaza meeting aimed to enhance unity, resistance against occupation, and preserve Palestinian rights. The two sides agreed to continue such discussions to address challenges and strengthen relations.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Renewed Sounds of Heavy Artillery and Direct Clashes in the Ain Zara Area of ​​Tripoli (Al-Mashhad Libya). Violent clashes continued today, Tuesday, in the capital, Tripoli, between the forces of the 444th Brigade, fighting with the loyal troops on the one hand and the details of the deterrence apparatus and the judicial police on the other, despite widespread calls to stop them from preserving the lives of civilians—heavy vehicles in several streets of the capital, Tripoli, including tanks and heavy artillery. Brigade 444 forces reviewed a video clip showing their control of several vehicles and armored vehicles belonging to the deterrence apparatus and the judicial police inside the University of Tripoli and captured several forces.
  2. Rapid Support Forces Claim Shootdown of an Army Warplane in Khartoum (Rakoba News). On Monday, the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces announced the downing of a Sukhoi warplane in Khartoum North, saying that the plane had bombed several Khartoum neighborhoods, killing dozens of civilians:  “On Monday evening, a Sukhoi warplane belonging to the militia of the putschists and the remnants of the defunct regime took place in the city of Bahri…The soldiers of the Rapid Support Forces responded to the attacks of the remnants of the defunct regime against innocent civilians by shooting down a Sukhoi aircraft that was bombing innocent citizens.”
  3. Egypt Hosts Meeting of Arab Liaison Committee on Syria (Youm7). Today, Tuesday, the meetings of the Arab Liaison Committee for Syria began at the Tahrir Palace in the center of the capital, according to what was confirmed by Ambassador Ahmed Abu Zaid, the official spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs…Ambassador Ahmed Abu Zaid indicated that the Arab league strives to find practical and sustainable solutions to the Syrian crisis and end the suffering of the brotherly Syrian people.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Yemeni Government Forces Retake Key Sites from Al-Qaeda (Daily News Egypt). Yemeni military units have retaken strategic sites from al-Qaeda militants following an operation in the country’s southern Abyan province; a government official told Xinhua on Monday. The local government official said on condition of anonymity that during the past 24 hours, the army troops captured Janan Valley and surrounding mountainous areas after storming the Hajlah military camp used by al-Qaeda in the Mudiyah district of Abyan. He said that despite encountering landmines and other booby traps, Yemeni government forces were able to advance and clear out the entrenched militants following days of clashes.
  2. Houthis Run Secret Prisons (Yemen Online). According to a report by the Yemeni Organization of Prisoners and Abductees, the Houthi militia operates about 100 official, secret and private prisons in the Ibb governorate, and these prisons hold hundreds of civilians who have been kidnapped in the raids and the ongoing military campaigns. A report by the Rand Organization for Rights and Freedoms documented the militia’s kidnapping of 1,216 people in the governorate in 2022 and taking them to multiple prisons. The militia practiced brutal torture against the abductees, which led to the death of some of the abductees and the severe illness of others.
  3. Saudi Arabia Asks Jordan to Prevent Entry of Syrian Trucks (Al Khaleej Online). An official in the government of the Syrian regime revealed a joint Jordanian-Saudi decision to prevent the entry of Syrian trucks coming through the Nassib border crossing between Syria and Jordan…”There are about 1,200 refrigerated trucks still parked at the Nassib crossing, as a result of the decision issued by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said the official of the border crossings of the Federation of Cargo Shipping Companies in Syria, Ayman Joban, to the Russian agency “Sputnik.”
  4. Abu Dhabi Supplies Wheat to Egypt in  $500 Million Deal (The National News). Abu Dhabi-based Al Dahra Agribusiness and the Abu Dhabi Export Office (Adex) have concluded a multi-year, $500 million deal to supply wheat to Egypt…Al Dahra said in a statement on Tuesday that the five-year agreement worth $100 million annually will provide Egypt with imported milled grain starting this year…“Adex’s low-cost financing package helps us obtain high-quality wheat at the lowest financing cost, with convenient payment terms… The three parties have worked hard over the past few months to achieve this,” Ali Moselhi, Egypt’s Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, said.
  5. India Pays in Rupees For The First Time to Buy Oil From The UAE (Dot Al Khalij). The Indian Embassy in the UAE announced the start of trade exchange with Abu Dhabi in their local currencies. The embassy said in a statement yesterday, Monday, that the Indian Oil Corporation paid “rupees” to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in return for buying one million barrels of oil from the UAE…The operation comes after a deal that included the sale of 25 kilograms of gold from an Emirati gold source to a buyer in India for about 128.4 million rupees ($1.54 million).
  6. The UN is Mediating Between Government and Houthis to Sell Oil Reclaimed from Derelict Tanker (Al Hadath). The United Nations said that it had offered its mediation to the two parties to the conflict in Yemen to reach an agreement to sell crude oil withdrawn from the Safer tanker anchored off the coast of Hodeidah in the Red Sea. Still, no breakthrough was achieved in this regard…The United Nations Coordinator in Yemen, David Gresley, confirmed that the oil withdrawn to a replacement ship for the dilapidated Safer (about 1.1 million barrels) is “in excellent condition, and it can be sold.” Still, this matter needs to be negotiated between the two parties “because those who control it are not the ones who own it,” referring to the Houthi group.

IRAN

  1. Iran Offers Free Land for Construction on Disputed Gulf Island (The New Arab). Amid a tense discord between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) regarding three islands in the gulf, Iranian authorities have unveiled plans to provide free land for construction on Abu Musa Island. The move, part of the National Accommodation Campaign, aims to encourage Iranians to build homes on the island, which, alongside two other nearby islands, has been a focal point of dispute between Iran and the UAE for decades.
  2.  Russia Stops Fuel Supply to Iran (Iran International). Russia has ceased its gasoline exports to Iran for the past few months; an informed Iranian oil ministry official told Iran International.  The source said the Ministry intended to import up to 10 million liters daily from Russia to compensate for the gasoline production and consumption gap. However, the Russian authorities, aware of Iran’s needs, have halted the sale of gasoline to Iran, disrupting the planned efforts to address the fuel deficit. The expected volume from Russia would constitute 10 percent of Iran’s daily consumption in 2022. The shortage has reduced gasoline shipments to gas stations, and long lines formed with cars rushing to fill their tanks. According to the source, several other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries have also been pushed by Moscow not to sell gasoline to Iran, further compounding the challenges faced by Iran. 
  3. Iran Exports Non-Oil Goods Worth Over $4.6b to China in 4 Months (Newstral). Iran has exported non-oil goods worth $4.644 billion to China in the first four months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-July 22), making China the top export destination for Iranian non-oil goods. Additionally, China was Iran’s second source of imports, with non-oil goods worth $5.558 billion imported from China during the same timeframe. The two countries traded $15.795 billion worth of commodities in 2022, and their trade relations have been strengthened through various cooperation agreements, including a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement signed in 2021. China remains a significant trade partner for Iran despite international sanctions.
  4. Iran to Increase Gas Export to Armenia (Tasnim News Agency). Iran has signed a new contract to increase its gas exports to Armenia. The contract, signed in Yerevan, extends the duration of the agreement to 2030 and corrects the ratio of bartering gas with electricity in favor of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC). The initial agreement was reached in November 2022 during a visit by Armenia’s Prime Minister to Tehran, and the final document was finalized in August 2023. The new contract boosts Iran’s gas export volume to Armenia and falls under a bartering energy contract framework between the two nations, utilizing a gas export pipeline with an annual capacity of over one billion cubic meters.
  5. Iran Keeps Details Of Tehran-Washington Deal Under Wraps (Iran International). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran is withholding details of the recent Tehran-Washington agreement involving prisoner release and access to frozen funds. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani stated that disclosing specifics to the media would not be “helpful” now, despite increasing criticism and protests against the agreement domestically and internationally. The deal focuses on releasing Iranian citizens unjustly detained by the US and partially releasing Iran’s blocked assets, with no mention of American hostages imprisoned in Iran. The timeline for implementation has been set through mediation with the US government, and reports of released Iranian assets, including $23 billion and $5 billion from Japan, were refuted by Kanaani. The frozen funds are primarily located in banks across South Korea, Iraq, Japan, China, and India.

SYRIA

  1.  Explosion Inside An Ammunition Depot in Hezbollah-Controlled Area Near Damascus (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Explosions sounded in a missile and ammunition depot north-east of Damascus at dawn today (Tuesday), resulting in casualties, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, two days after a similar explosion took place in ammunition depots belonging to pro-Iranian groups near the capital, according to Agence France-Presse…According to the observatory, “the explosion took place inside the warehouse, and explosions resounded in the al-Ruhaiba area” in the countryside of Damascus.
  2. Shoigu Praises Syria’s Return to the Arab League (Shaam). Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu praised, in a speech he delivered at the Eleventh Moscow Conference on International Security, which opened today, Tuesday, Syria’s return to the Arab League and considered it to have become a vital factor for the entire region’s stability. Shoigu said that the situation in the Middle East is developing positively in general, considering that Syria’s return to the League of Arab States has become a vital factor for the stability of the entire region, and he expressed his belief that the repercussions of this decision bear a strategic nature.
  3. Liaison Committee on Syria Holds A Meeting in Cairo (24). The Egyptian capital, Cairo, is hosting a meeting of the Arab Ministerial Liaison Committee, concerned with continuing dialogue with Syria, three months after it was formed in Amman last May. An official source in the League of Arab States confirmed to 24 that “today’s meeting is a consultative meeting between the members of the Arab Ministerial Liaison Committee concerned with Syria and came in implementation of the Amman statement issued last May to settle the Syrian crisis and reach political solutions that take into account the humanitarian, security and political aspects as well.”

IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Sources Say Washington is Preparing Buffer Zone on Iraqi-Syrian Border to Strike Iran-Backed Militias (Elaph). On Tuesday, Iraqi sources revealed US military movements on the Syrian-Iraqi border to impose a buffer security zone. Washington had asked Al-Sudani to withdraw the Popular Mobilization Forces from there, threatening them and their leaders with military strikes. An Iraqi source close to the security authorities told Elaph that the US ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, is currently leading a campaign of warnings to Iraqi leaders upon her return to Baghdad from Washington at the end of the week.
  2. Foreign Affairs: Emphasis on Strengthening Cooperation Between Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan (Al Iraq News). On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt held a tripartite meeting in Cairo. A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Al-Sahhaf, said in a statement that “the foreign ministers of Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt held a tripartite meeting in Cairo,” pointing out that the meeting reviews ways to enhance cooperation, coordination, And joint tripartite integration in various fields within the framework of the historical relations between the three countries.
  3. Iraq allows Iran to penetrate to a depth of 50 km into its territory (Elaph). Thousands of Iranians began to go to Iraq to participate in the Arbaeen of Imam Hussein. Iran announced Iraq’s agreement to allow its supplies for the occasion to penetrate 50 km into its territory, to conduct joint patrols on the borders of the two countries, and to conduct joint naval maneuvers…The commander of the Iranian border guards, Brigadier General Ahmad Kudarzi, said that he had agreed with his Iraqi counterpart, Major General Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab Sukkar, to conduct joint patrols on the 1,458 km common border.

LEBANON

  1. Libya Asks Lebanon to Release Hannibal Qaddafi from Detention (The National News). A top Libyan official has formally asked Lebanon to release Hannibal Qaddafi – the son of former Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi – who has been held in the country since 2015….Hannibal Qaddafi’s health has deteriorated since he began a hunger strike on June 3 over his continued detention without trial…His lawyer in Lebanon has said he has been taken to the hospital thrice since he started refusing food.
  2. Sayyed Nasrallah to the Enemy: You Will Be Taken Back to the Stone Age if you go to War with Lebanon (Al Manar). In his speech on August 14, the anniversary of the victory in the July war, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, stressed that the courageous and rapid return of the people after the victory in the war is what proved the military victory. He pointed out that since 2006, the Zionist army began to decline, weaken and weaken. He pointed out that the enemy moved from attack to defense, and even when it attacked Gaza, the West Bank, and Syria, it shot from a defensive position.

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