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THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 22, 2023

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Turkiye

  1. Turkish President Erdogan Criticizes UN Peacekeeping Force’s Intervention in Northern Cyprus Road Construction (TRT). UN peacekeeping force’s intervention in Northern Cyprus road construction was “unacceptable,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. “The physical intervention of UN peacekeeping force soldiers on the territory that falls under the sovereignty of the TRNC is never acceptable to us,” Erdogan said after the Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara. Erdogan’s remarks came after the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) last week intervened in road construction work to link the Turkish Cypriot village of Pile in the buffer zone with the rest of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1.   Israel’s Iron Dome Activated to Intercept Unmanned Drone over Gaza (Jerusalem Post). The Iron Dome system was activated in the early morning hours to target an unmanned drone flying over Gaza, as confirmed by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The drone did not breach Israeli airspace, and the Israeli Air Force closely monitored its flight from its inception. The IDF later clarified that the drone’s trajectory remained under observation throughout the incident. Since the drone did not pose an immediate risk to civilians residing near the Gaza Strip, no safety alerts were issued. Additionally, on Sunday morning, Israel’s Iron Dome was again activated near the Gaza border, responding to another drone originating from Gaza and heading towards Israel, as reported by the IDF.
  2.   Israeli Leaders Netanyahu and Gallant Accuse Iran of Fueling Surge in Terror Attacks (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have attributed the recent escalation in terror attacks to Iran. Speaking live from the location of a recent attack, where a woman was fatally shot, and a man sustained serious injuries, Netanyahu stated, “We are facing a wave of terrorism that is being incited, guided, and funded by Iran and its affiliated groups.” He emphasized ongoing efforts to apprehend the perpetrators and stressed that “the most notable shift on the ground is linked to Iranian funding and motives.” Defense Minister Gallant echoed the sentiment, stating, “Iran is actively seeking avenues to harm the people of Israel.” He pledged decisive measures to restore security for Israeli citizens, asserting that “we will implement multiple strategies to ensure the safety of our citizens.” Gallant emphasized that all possible approaches are considered, indicating a comprehensive response.
  3. Violent Protests Erupt in Gaza Strip as Palestinians Clash with IDF Forces (Times of Israel). Hundreds of Palestinians are engaged in violent protests near the border with Israel in the Gaza Strip. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson reports that rioters have thrown multiple explosive devices while several individuals attempted to breach the security barrier. According to the spokesperson, IDF forces have apprehended numerous Palestinians in the vicinity, subsequently transferring them to the Shin Bet security agency for interrogation. 
  4.   IDF Central Command Head Addresses Press After Hebron Shooting Attack (Arutz Sheva). Following the shooting attack near Hebron, Major General Yehuda Fuchs, the Head of the IDF’s Central Command, conducted a press conference to discuss the incident. The attack resulted in the tragic death of Batsheva Nigri, a mother of three, and left Aryeh Gotlieb seriously wounded. Major General Fuchs commenced the conference by emphasizing that the responsibilities of Israel’s security forces extend beyond counterterrorism efforts and border protection.

Egypt & North Africa

  1. Cairo University Geology Professor Discusses Ethiopia’s Water Retention Impact on Nile Flooding (Egypt Independent). Professor Abbas Sharaky, an expert in Geology and Water Resources at Cairo University, has highlighted that Ethiopia’s retention of water has led to a significant reduction in Egypt’s water share, resulting in the absence of Nile flooding this year. In an interview with the al-Hadath al-Youm channel, Sharaky noted that Ethiopia’s actions had withheld approximately 45 percent of Egypt’s allocated water share.
  2. Egypt Announces Plans for ‘Logistic Area’ at Al-Salloum Border Crossing with Libya (Libya Herald). The logistical area, covering approximately 250-300 acres (about one million square meters), will be adjacent to the Salloum port. Its primary objective is to enhance and streamline trade activities between Egypt and Libya. The broader plan encompasses several key features, including expanding and modernizing the port’s infrastructure to facilitate transportation. Additionally, the initiative will involve the creation of a dedicated emergency border crossing route for ambulances, incorporating advanced security screening equipment, and introducing an express train service connecting to the city of Salloum.

The GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Yemen’s Marib Province Raises Alarm as UN Aid Cut Threatens Displaced People (Arab News). Authorities in Yemen’s central Marib province have issued a distressing warning about the dire situation facing tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) due to the suspension of UN humanitarian aid caused by insufficient funding. The deputy governor of Marib province, Abd-Rabbu Meftah, expressed grave concern over the potential hunger crisis if the UN does not promptly resume its relief efforts in the region. He noted that more than 60 percent of Yemen’s IDPs residing in Marib are at risk of starvation.
  2.  Houthi Militia Pushes for Inclusion of Controlled Ports in Yemen’s Western Region in Maritime Insurance Agreement (Al Masdar Online). The Houthi militia has advocated for including ports under its control in Yemen’s western region within the scope of the recently established maritime insurance agreement between the internationally recognized government and the United Nations in Aden. Abd al-Wahhab al-Durra, referred to as the “Minister of Transport” in the Houthi government, voiced these demands through statements released by the militia’s media outlets after the conclusion of a visit by an Omani delegation to Sana’a.
  3.  Houthi Attacks Intensify in Yemen’s Provinces, Government Forces Remain on Alert (Arab News). The Houthis have escalated their bombardment of several villages across Yemen’s Marib, Lahj, Dhale, and Taiz provinces in the past 48 hours. Meanwhile, the Yemeni government has directed its armed forces to maintain a high alert to counter potential Houthi assaults. Local media reports and eyewitness accounts indicate that the Houthis have targeted villages in different regions. In the central region of Marib province, artillery shells were reportedly fired at homes in the Malaa area on Saturday evening. Images circulating on social media depict homes engulfed in flames, although there are no confirmed reports of casualties from the incident.
  4. UAE Central Bank’s Foreign Assets Surpass $161 Billion, Marking Historic Milestone (Al Khaleej Online). The UAE Central Bank has achieved a historic milestone as its total foreign assets exceeded $161 billion after June, marking the first instance in its history. According to data released by the UAE Central Bank, these foreign assets witnessed a monthly increase of 0.33%, rising from 590.19 billion dirhams (equivalent to $160.68 billion) in May to 592.11 billion dirhams (approximately $161.21 billion) by the end of June 2023. This upward trajectory amounts to an increase of 1.9 billion dirhams (approximately $520 million).
  5. UAE Ranks First in Arab World, 37th Globally in UN’s Technology and Innovation Report 2023 (Emarat-News). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has secured the top position in the Arab world and ranks 37th globally, per the Technology and Innovation Report 2023 published by the United Nations. This achievement underscores the UAE’s increasing prominence in the realm of technology and innovation, solidifying its global standing and showcasing its leadership in sectors associated with environmentally friendly and sustainable industries of the future.

IRAN

  1. Iranian Foreign Minister Warns Sweden and Denmark over Qur’an Desecration, Urges Policy Reevaluation (Press TV). Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has reiterated his condemnation of the desecration of the Holy Qur’an in Sweden and Denmark, cautioning the two Nordic nations to reconsider their “misguided policies” before potential consequences become irreversible. Following their bilateral meeting, amir-Abdollahian made these statements during a joint press conference with Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir in Tehran.
  2.  IRGC Commander Declares Iran’s Breakthrough in Military Capabilities, Elevating Global Standing (Mehr News). Major General Hossein Salami, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), has declared Iran’s successful rupture of the monopoly on military capabilities, leading to an enhanced global status bolstered by its formidable defense prowess. In a statement, the IRGC commander commended Iran’s remarkable strides in defense, attained despite severe sanctions and substantial limitations.

SYRIA

  1. Syrian Legal Committee Demands ICC Accountability for Ghouta Chemical Massacre (Syria TV). On the tenth anniversary of the “Ghouta chemical massacre,” the “Syrian Legal Committee” has issued a resolute statement urging the pursuit of justice by bringing those responsible for the tragic incident before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The committee unequivocally emphasizes the necessity of holding the Syrian regime accountable for deploying chemical weapons across various regions, including the eastern and Western Ghouta in rural Damascus.
  2. Syrian Ministry of Defense Foils Drone Attacks, Russian Airstrike Targets Militant Center (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Syrian Defense Ministry reports intercepting three armed drones near Idlib and Hama. These drones aimed to target local areas but were foiled by armed groups. Concurrently, Russian warplanes launched a strike on a military facility of “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham,” the successor of “Al-Nusra Front.” This move aims to neutralize threats while reconnaissance identified suspicious vehicles. These events highlight Syria’s multifaceted conflict and ongoing security efforts.

IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Prime Minister and British Minister Discuss Cooperation on Security Issues in Baghdad (Elaph). Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani held a significant meeting with British Minister Tom Tugendhat and his delegation in Baghdad. Talks centered on enhancing collaboration to address urgent concerns, including human trafficking, drug trade, money recovery, and corruption-related pursuits. The discussions highlighted the broader relationship between Iraq and the UK, specifically focusing on strengthening cooperation in security and military strategies.
  2. A French Soldier Dies in Iraq During Training Mission, President Macron Expresses Condolences (Al Sharq Al Awsat). French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed the death of a French soldier, Nicolas Latourte, during a training mission in Iraq. Macron conveyed his condolences via the “X” platform (formerly Twitter), mentioning that Sergeant Baptiste Gauchot had also recently passed away. The French Minister of the Armed Forces, Sebastien Lecorno, specified that Latourte’s demise occurred on Sunday, emphasizing his role in training the Iraqi army to counter-terrorism.
  3. Iran’s Decision to Reduce Little Zab River Flow Aggravates Iraq’s Water Crisis (The Cradle). Iran’s decision to reduce the flow of the Little Zab River into Iraq has led to a decline in the water levels of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, exacerbating Iraq’s existing water shortages. Selam Omer, Director of the Ranya District Water Department in the Sulaymaniyah province of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, expressed concern over Iran’s unilateral action, taken without notice or justification, which has deepened Iraq’s water crisis. The impact is evident in reports indicating a daily drop of seven centimeters in the water level at Iraq’s largest dam, the Dukan Dam, due to Iran’s reduced water supply.

LEBANON

  1.  Lebanon’s Inflation Reaches 252% Amidst Economic Crisis and Political Stalemate  (The National). Inflation in Lebanon surged to a staggering annual rate of 252% in July as the nation grapples with its most severe economic crisis. The end of Riad Salameh’s term as central bank governor and a persisting political deadlock over the presidential election contributed to the turmoil. Hyperinflation continued for the 37th consecutive month, exacerbated by the devaluation of the currency by 90% in February. Rising housing, utilities, fuels, food, beverages, and transport costs drove the increase, with the Consumer Price Index rising around 7% from June 2023, as the Central Administration of Statistics reported.

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