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THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 2, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

TURKIYE 

  1.  Türkiye and China Strengthen Ties to Foster Regional and Global Peace (Daily Sabah). Türkiye’s Maj. Gen. Gültekin Yaralı highlighted the importance of enhanced relations between Türkiye and China, expressing the desire to develop cooperation based on mutual trust and benefits. The ongoing high-level military dialogue provides an opportunity to advance bilateral defense collaboration. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent visit to Türkiye further emphasized the commitment to enhance mutual strategic trust and deepen cooperation. The defense attaché at the Chinese mission in Türkiye, Senior Col. Li Guangya, underscored China’s role in safeguarding peace and sovereignty while opposing geopolitical competition in the Asia-Pacific region.
  2. Magnitude 5.0 Earthquake Hits Central Türkiye, No Casualties Reported (Daily Sabah). A magnitude 5.0 earthquake struck Türkiye’s central Konya province in the Selçuklu district. The quake occurred at a shallow depth of 7.24 kilometers and was felt in various districts of the province. So far, there have been no reports of injuries or casualties. Last week, a magnitude 5.5 earthquake shook southern Adana province, causing panic among citizens but no severe damage or casualties. This recent earthquake in Konya comes nearly six months after devastating quakes in the southeastern region that resulted in at least 50,000 fatalities.
  3. Turkish and Egyptian Officials Target $15 Billion Bilateral Trade within Five Years (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye and Egypt aim to achieve a bilateral trade level of $15 billion within five years after appointing ambassadors to each other’s capitals. Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Samir Saleh visited Ankara to strengthen trade relations, including supporting bilateral investments and organizing business events. Currently, the bilateral trade volume stands at around $10 billion. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been at the level of charge d’affaires since 2013.
  4.  Iran-Turkey Trade Declines to $2.6 Billion in H1 2023, with a Trade Deficit of -$61 Billion for Turkey (Tasnim Agency). Trade exchanges between Iran and Turkey in the first half of 2023 reached $2.635 billion, showing a 21 percent decline compared to the same period in 2022. Turkey’s exports to Iran remained relatively stable, while its imports from Iran decreased by 37 percent. The report indicates that Turkey’s balance of trade for the first six months of 2023 was -$61 billion.
  5.  Escalating Racism Against Refugees in Turkiye Amid Political Conflicts and Economic Challenges (Al Jazeera). Economic pressures and opposition parties’ media incitement campaigns have contributed to the deterioration of relations between Turks and Arabs. The situation worsened during the presidential elections, with opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu promising to deport Syrians if elected. The rise in incitement has led to attacks on Arab tourists and residents, further deepening the divide. Some government policies and economic challenges have also contributed to the problem, leading to imbalances in handling the large number of refugees. The media’s role in perpetuating racism by disseminating false information and inciting hatred is also significant. Raising awareness and adopting the principle of cultural diversity are crucial steps to combat racism in Turkiye.
  6. Indonesia Buys 12 Turkish Anka Drones Worth $300 Million, Marking New Era in Bilateral Cooperation (TRT World). Indonesia purchases 12 Turkish-made Anka drones for $300 million, becoming the first Asian country to acquire Türkiye’s UAVs. The deal is part of Indonesia’s efforts to modernize its military equipment. Turkish ambassador to Jakarta highlights the potential for cooperation in various sectors between the two countries. The bilateral trade target is set at $10 billion, and diplomatic relations have seen notable developments.
  7. Türkiye Welcomes 23 Million Tourists in First Half of 2023, Records 17% Increase in Tourist Arrivals and 27% Surge in Tourism Income (Newstral). During the first half of 2023, Türkiye experienced a significant resurgence in its tourism sector, with tourist arrivals increasing by 17% to over 22 million. Tourism income also saw a substantial boost, rising by 27% to $21.7 billion.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Elite Israeli Army Intelligence Reservists Suspend Volunteer Service in Protest Against Government’s Judicial Overhaul (Middle East Monitor). Over 60 reserve officers from an elite Israeli army intelligence program, Havatzalot, have announced their plan to suspend volunteer service in protest of the government’s judicial overhaul. The move is part of a larger wave of protests by reservists from different units, including air force pilots, expressing their opposition to the judicial reforms. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant acknowledged the damage caused by the reservists’ protests but emphasized concerns about potential harm to the country’s readiness and security due to the deep divisions caused by the protests.
  2.  Gaza’s Power Station Gets Boost with Qatari-Funded Fourth Generator Amidst Ongoing Electricity Crisis (Al Jazeera). The head of the Energy and Natural Resources Authority in Gaza, Jalal Ismail, announced the operation of the fourth generator at the only power station in the Strip, funded by Qatar. This new generator will increase electricity production from 65 to 70 megawatts to 85 to 95 megawatts. The Gaza Strip has been facing an electricity crisis for 17 years due to the blockade imposed since Hamas took power in 2006.
  3.  Israeli National Security Adviser: No Objection to Saudi Arabia’s Civil Nuclear Enrichment for Research Purposes (The Middle East). Tzachi Hanegbi stated that Israel will not necessarily oppose an agreement that would allow Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium for research purposes. Hanegbi clarified that Israel’s consent is not required for such a move, pointing out that other countries like Egypt and the UAE operate nuclear research centers that are not considered dangerous. The road to normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia is still considered long, and far-right coalition members in Israel have rejected concessions towards Palestinians as part of any potential agreement.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Escalating Mutual Defections Between Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces Amid Ongoing Conflict (Sudan Akhbar). Sudan has witnessed a series of defections between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, with both sides experiencing officers switching allegiances. The head of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, returned 33 officers who had defected from the Rapid Support Forces back to the army. Conversely, dozens of officers recently defected from the army to join the Rapid Support Forces. The conflict’s escalation, which began in mid-April, has led to continuous clashes between the two parties. The Sudanese airspace remains closed to air traffic until August 15, except for humanitarian aid and evacuation flights.
  2. Power Struggle and Security Tensions in Libya as Dabaiba Extends Influence in the East (Al-Sharq Al-away). Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba, head of the interim Libyan “unity” government, is seeking to expand his influence in the eastern region of Libya at the expense of the “stability” government. The city of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, witnessed sudden airstrikes on sites suspected to belong to an armed group linked to the “Volcano of Rage” operation. Meanwhile, tensions have been renewed in Gharyan, and Dabaiba held a surprise meeting with the head of Tobruk Municipal Council, raising speculations about an unannounced understanding between Dabaiba and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The country’s leadership is also engaging in discussions about the political situation and preparations for upcoming elections.
  3. Egypt’s Net Foreign Assets Deficit Rises to $27 Billion (Sky News Arabia). The net foreign assets deficit in Egypt increased to $27.1 billion in June, rising by 82.1 billion pounds from the previous month. Egypt’s public finances have been strained by a persistent foreign exchange shortage and a significant increase in the money supply over the past three years. The drawdown in net foreign assets has helped support the value of the Egyptian pound. However, net foreign assets are declining due to increased borrowing by banks from abroad. The rising money supply poses a threat of exacerbating record inflation in Egypt and putting more pressure on the value of the pound.
  4. Egypt Achieves Initial Surplus and Positive Growth Amidst Ongoing Fiscal Challenges (Egypt Independent). Egypt’s Finance Minister, Mohamed Maait, announced that for the first time in more than 20 years, the country achieved an initial surplus of 1.3 percent in fiscal year 2022-2023. The budget’s initial outcomes showed a real growth rate of 4.2 percent. However, the total deficit increased to 6.2 percent due to rising inflation, interest rates, and changes in the dollar exchange rate. Revenues experienced a growth rate of 12.5 percent, with tax revenues rising by 23.1 percent. Subsidy allocations for subsidized commodities reached EGP 129.7 billion, and public treasury-funded investments increased by 15 percent, reaching EGP 228 billion.
  5. Russia Bolsters Military Ties in North Africa with Algeria (Sputnik). Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with the Chief of Staff of the Algerian People’s National Army, Said Chanegriha, to discuss the dynamic and positive development of Russian-Algerian relations. During the talks, they emphasized Russia’s interest in enhancing the combat capabilities of the Algerian Armed Forces.

The GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Israeli National Security Adviser: Long Road Ahead to Normalize Relations with Saudi Arabia Amid Palestinian State Demands (France 24). Israeli National Security Adviser stated that the road to normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia is still long. The US administration is working towards a historic agreement, seen as a major step towards resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, Saudi Arabia insists that Palestinian demands, including the establishment of a Palestinian state, must be addressed before moving forward with normalization.
  2. Saudi Arabia Extends $1.2 Billion Economic Support to Yemen (Al Arabiya). Saudi Arabia announced providing new economic support of $1.2 billion to Yemen in response to the Yemeni government’s request to address its budget deficit. The support is based on the strong ties between the two nations and is aimed at supporting Yemen in various fields, including improving infrastructure, vital sectors, and the daily life of Yemeni citizens. This support adds to the deposits in the Central Bank of Yemen, bringing the total amount to $4 billion from 2012 to 2022.
  3. Houthi Militias Issue New Threats to Attack Yemeni Islands and International Shipping Routes (Al Sharq Al Awasat). The leaders of the Houthi militias in Yemen have issued new threats to attack Yemeni islands and international shipping routes, claiming to possess new missile capabilities and drones.The Houthi group’s threats coincide with Iranian escalation against maritime security, indicating the militia’s use as a tool for implementing Iran’s destructive policies.

IRAN

  1. Iranian Hardline Paydari Party Accused of Manipulating Elections and Controlling Assembly of Experts Selection (Iran International). Iranian reformists are warning that the hardliner Paydari party aims to manipulate upcoming elections and influence the selection of the next Supreme Leader through its “purification” project. The hardliners seek to exclude moderates and reformists from the parliamentary election, potentially leading to an all-conservative parliament. Centrist politician Gholamhossein Karbaschi warns this could discourage voter participation. Some reformist groups may align with moderate conservative Ali Larijani, but overall dissatisfaction with the economic crisis may contribute to low voter turnout.

SYRIA

  1. Russians Dismayed to See American F-35s over Syria (Syria TV). Vadim Collette, deputy head of the Reconciliation Center, expressed concerns about the US-led “international coalition” aircraft creating dangerous situations in Syria’s skies. During a press conference, he reported eight violations of collision avoidance protocols related to uncoordinated drone flights by the US coalition. Additionally, six violations of Syrian airspace were recorded, involving two F-16 fighters, four F-35 fighters, and three MQ-1C drones in the Al-Tanf area. These incidents occurred amidst Iran’s recent attempts to seize oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, leading to responses from the US Navy. The situation is further complicated by skirmishes between Russian and US planes in Syrian airspace.
  2. Daesh Attack on Syrian Oil Convoy Leaves 7 Dead, Including 2 Civilians (Arab News). Daesh militants launched an attack on a convoy of oil tankers guarded by the Syrian army in the east of Hama province. The attack resulted in the death of five regime forces and two civilian drivers. Daesh lost its last territory in Syria in March 2019 but remnants of the group continue to operate in the desert, carrying out deadly attacks on various targets. The conflict in Syria, which began in 2011, has caused significant casualties and displacement, involving foreign powers and global jihadist groups.
  3. Significant Increase in Asylum Applications in Germany, Syrians at the Forefront (Zaman Al Wasel). Germany experiences a notable surge in asylum applications, especially in Lower Saxony, with about 16,800 applications received in the first half of the year compared to 11,100 in the same period last year. Syrians form the largest group, followed by applicants from Afghanistan, Turkey, and Russia. Nationwide, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees received 150,166 initial asylum applications, a 77.5% increase from last year.
  4. Assad Government Jobs Witness Hundreds of Resignations Due to Low Salaries and Staff Shortage (Zaman Al Wasel). Damascus faces a surge in government job resignations, with about 1,800 requests in the first half of the year, primarily due to low salaries that no longer cover expenses. Various sectors, including education and health, suffer from severe staff shortages, affecting work completion and quality. The University of Damascus also experiences a significant lack of teaching staff and plans to announce appointments to fill the vacancies.

IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Oil Revenues Reach Over $8 Billion in July (Al Iraq News).The Ministry of Oil in Iraq reported that the country’s crude oil exports for July reached a total of 106.7 million barrels, generating revenues of more than 8.2 billion dollars. The average daily export quantities were approximately 3.4 million barrels, with the average price per barrel standing at $77.69. The statement also mentioned specific export figures to Jordan and from Qayyarah during the month.
  2. Currency Smuggling Network Dismantled in Iraq, Over $14 Million Seized (RT). The agency conducted a wide campaign to pursue currency smugglers, leading to the dismantling of the largest smuggling networks holding $14 million for smuggling. The arrested defendants admitted to using fictitious companies as a cover for their illegal activities. The smuggling network in Baghdad comprised 11 suspects, while 12 others involved in currency smuggling in the governorates of Basra, Diyala, and Muthanna were also apprehended with more than 300 million dinars in their possession.

LEBANON

  1. Palestinian General Among 11 Killed in Ongoing Clashes at Lebanon Refugee Camp (Times of Israel). Fighting between Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority, and Islamist groups in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon has entered its third day. The clashes have resulted in the death of 11 people and left over 40 others injured. The violence started on Saturday evening and intensified when a leader from Fatah and four of his comrades were killed in an ambush.
Country Exchange Rate
Egypt 1 US Dollar = 30 EGP
Iran 1 US Dollar = 50,150 IRR
Lebanon 1 US Dollar = 91,000 LBP
Syria 1 US Dollar = 11,800 SYP
Türkiye 1 US Dollar = 26.9 TL

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