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THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 25, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

TURKIYE

  1. Türkiye Summons Danish Ambassador Over Continued Desecration of Quran (Anadolu Agency). Turkish diplomatic sources said that the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned today, Thursday, the Danish charge d’affaires in Ankara, due to another act of desecration of the Holy Quran…“In response to the continued act of burning the Holy Qur’an in front of our embassy in Copenhagen and the embassies of (other) Muslim countries, the Chargé d’Affairs of the Embassy of Denmark in Ankara was summoned again to our ministry today,” said the sources, who requested anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media…This step came after burning the Holy Quran in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, for the fourth day in a row this week…Türkiye has so far summoned the Danish ambassador five times this month because of the desecration of the Holy Quran.
  2. Saudi-Turkish-Pakistani Tripartite Defense Committee Holds First Meeting (Anadolu Agency). On Thursday, the Saudi-Turkish-Pakistani tripartite committee held its first meeting in Riyadh…The panel discussed ways to enhance defense cooperation, according to a statement by the Saudi Ministry of Defense…The meeting was attended by Turkish Deputy Defense Minister Jalal Sami Tufakji, Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal bin Abdullah bin Turki Al-Otaibi, and Lieutenant General Muhammad Saeed from the Pakistani Armed Forces…The meeting of the Saudi-Turkish working group dealt with the road map related to cooperation in defense industries, technology transfer and localization, and the development of scientific research.
  3. Ankara Condemns Joint US-YPG Exercises in Syria (Hurriyet Daily News). Turkish Defense Ministry officials have strongly criticized joint exercises conducted by the United States and the PKK/YPG terrorist organization in Syria, Hurriyet Daily reported…The ministry’s sources told the newspaper, “The United States continues to support the PKK/People’s Protection Units terrorist organization under the pretext of fighting ISIS. A terrorist organization cannot be fought using another terrorist organization.”..The exercise was held in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli from August 15 to 17, according to the officials…They added, “We expect friendly and allied countries to stop aid and support for the terrorist organization PKK and the People’s Protection Units and to provide sincere support for our battle against terrorism.”
  4. Fidan Vows to Cleanse Iraq of PKK in Conjunction With a Turkish Drone Strike (Al Jazeera). In a press conference in Erbil, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said that his country will work to purify Iraqi lands from what he described as PKK terrorism, in statements preceded by a Turkish drone strike that killed members of the party in northern Iraq…Fidan said, during the joint press conference with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Masrour Barzani, that the meeting they held today, Thursday, allowed them to evaluate bilateral relations, noting that there is still a lot of work to “get rid of the scourge of terrorism.”

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israeli Police Uncover Nazareth Tunnel Used to Hide Weapons, Criminals (Jerusalem Post). Police uncovered a tunnel in Nazareth used by criminal organizations to hide weapons and members of the organizations, police said on Thursday. Intelligence operations by the police found that criminal organizations would hide weapons and criminals in the tunnel during police raids. The police discovered the tunnel opening in an abandoned house, finding ammunition and other evidence inside. 
  2. Network of Hezbollah Operatives in Israel Exposed (Arutz Sheva). Four Arab citizens of Israel from Kfar Qasim and Lod were arrested on suspicion of receiving many high-quality Iranian-made weapons from the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Further arrests were made in a raid by Shin Bet, Border Police, and YAMAM agents on a residential complex in Lod. The detainees are suspected of plotting to use one of the explosives obtained by the first group for criminal purposes. The Shin Bet investigation revealed that Hezbollah worked to recruit and operate a network of smugglers in Israel to receive unusual and illegal weapons and distribute them to various parties, including criminal elements.
  3. Israel to Export More Gas to Egypt as Cooperation Grows (Al Monitor). Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said the country will increase exports to Egypt by an additional 38.7 billion cubic meters (bcm) over the next 11 years. According to multiple reports, production from Israel’s Tamar gas field in the Mediterranean Sea will also increase by 6 cm per year starting in 2026 — a 60% increase from current levels.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Egypt signed a significant deal with Swiss MEDLOG to build a new dry port & logistics center (Ahram Online). The General Authority for Land and Dry Ports (GALDP) has signed a 30-year agreement with Swiss MEDLOG Transport & Logistics company to develop a dry port and a logistics center in the 10th of Ramadan City…According to a Cabinet statement on Thursday, the deal comprises the maintenance and operations of the port and the center, which will be built on 250 feddans – 130 feddans for the dry dock and 120 feddans for the logistics center.
  2. The Mysterious Fate of Prigozhin’s Legacy in Libya (Al Wasat). Many observers greeted the killing of the leader of the Wagner Company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash he was on board, with questions about the fate of the paramilitary group intertwined with the Kremlin after the death of its leader and the future of its presence in some hot spots around the world, including Libya. The day of his death coincided with the visit of a Russian military delegation to the city of Benghazi.
  3. Al-Burhan Conducts First Public Tour Since Outbreak of War (Al Arabiya). On Thursday, Sudanese cities are witnessing a new day of escalation and fighting. Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Army is conducting a comprehensive tour of military sites and vehicles in Khartoum, Omdurman, and Bahri at dawn today…A Sudanese army statement said that the Sudanese army commander, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, appeared for the first time since the outbreak of the war outside the army command complex and the Ministry of Defense.

THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Egypt, Argentina, and Ethiopia to Join BRICS in January 2024 (France 24). The BRICS group has strengthened its ranks by accessing six new countries, including Arab countries, as confirmed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday during a group summit in Johannesburg. The list of countries joining the group seeking to enhance its influence included Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Argentina, and Ethiopia, as of January 2024.

IRAN

  1. Iran, 5 Other States to Become New Members of BRICS (Mehr News). South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Thursday that the BRICS member states agreed to admit Iran, Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia as new members. The five current member states have reached a “consensus on the first phase of this expansion process” and have invited the six states to become new members of the BRICS group from January 1, 2024, he said at the group’s leader’s summit in Johannesburg.
  2. Iran Supports BRICS Efforts to De-Dollarize: Raisi (Alarabiya News). Iran supports efforts by the BRICS group of emerging economies to move away from dependence on the US dollar. President Ebrahim Raisi told the BRICS summit in Johannesburg on Thursday after Iran was invited to join the group. “The Islamic Republic of Iran very resolutely supports the successful endeavors of BRICS in line with de-dollarization from the trade and economic interactions between the members and also using local currencies,” he said.
  3. Iran Looks For Its Lost Billions In Syria (Iran International). The release of Iran’s $6 billion frozen funds from South Korea has prompted a website in Tehran to ask: What about over $30 billion owed by the Syrian regime? Aftab News, a website relatively independent of the current rulers and said to be close to other regime insiders, argued in an article published Thursday that the outlook for Syria to pay Iran back looks bleak. Iran has a small share of Syria’s trade, roughly one-tenth of Turkey’s exports. Annual Iranian exports are less than $1.5 billion.

SYRIA

  1. Türkiye Blames Assad Regime for Stopping Meetings of the Constitutional Committee (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Turkey held the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responsible for obstructing the course of the Constitutional Committee for more than a year…Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Sadat Onal, stressed that “the war on terrorism is important for resolving the Syrian crisis,” noting that in the thirteenth year of the conflict in Syria, living conditions have deteriorated due to economic difficulties…Onal stressed, in his speech before a session on Syria at the UN Security Council on Wednesday night – Thursday, the need to accelerate international efforts to find a permanent solution to the Syrian crisis and that the answer should be developed by Security Council Resolution No. 2254, noting that the Constitutional Committee is an essential platform in this context.
  2. Turkish Drone Kills a PKK Leader West of Qamishli (Syria TV). A leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a driver were killed, and another leader was wounded in a Turkish drone strike targeting a car near the Ali Faro road junction, west of the city of Qamishli…Yesterday, Wednesday, activists circulated pictures that showed the car after it was bombed…An informed source told the Syria TV website, “The Turkish drone targeted the car while two leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were present, supervising the (Jane TV) channel for women.”
  3. US Joint Chiefs Chairman Says US Will Work with Jordan to Fight Assad’s Drugs (Orient TV). The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, revealed plans for cooperation between the United States and Jordan to combat Assad’s drugs, stressing that his country will not abandon its presence in the Middle East…In an interview with the Jordanian “Kingdom” channel, excerpts of which were published, Milley said that drug smuggling is a grave matter and the US will work with Jordan to combat it, noting that his country supports the Jordanian army with equipment and training…He added that the United States is working with Jordan to “fight the threat of both drug smuggling and terrorism,” pointing out that many terrorist organizations are linked to drug smuggling gangs, which raises many concerns.
  4. Former US Defense Secretary Miller Visits Northeast Syria, Says US Must Support Autonomous Administration and SDF (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Former US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller expressed his hope that the United States and the countries of the international coalition will continue to support the “Self-Administration of Northeast” Syria and the “Syrian Democratic Forces” to protect prisons and detention centers for ISIS members, supervise the camps for the families and families of the organization, and discuss with Kurdish officials the challenges they face and the Turkish threats against stability. He also commented on the deteriorating security situation in the Kurdish city of Afrin, controlled by armed factions loyal to Turkey. He accused the Turkish government of using water as a weapon against civilian residents of the administration areas in eastern Syria…During his meetings with administration officials and military forces, the US official discussed the role of the international coalition forces in combating terrorism and defeating cells loyal to the organization. In a press statement on Thursday, Miller said, “There is a need to protect the gains made against terrorism, the need for continued American support for the Autonomous Administration of North and Northeast Syria, and the need for regional stability.”

IRAQ

  1. 3 PKK Members Killed in a Turkish Strike in Iraq (Al-Arabiya). Three members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) were killed today, Thursday, in Iraq, in a strike carried out by a Turkish drone in Kurdistan in northern Iraq, while Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan is visiting the region. Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which led to the killing of a senior official and two of the party’s fighters in the Sidekan area of ​​​​Erbil Governorate, near the Iranian border.
  2. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Meets Barzani Again at End of Intensive Talks in Iraq (964 Media). The Turkish Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, arrived Thursday morning in Erbil and was received by the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, after which he began a busy schedule of discussions, where Fidan met with the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Masoud Barzani, and then the Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani. After that, he met with the Vice President of Kurdistan Ministers, Qubad Talabani. 

LEBANON

  1. Lebanon Grants License for Survey of Block 8 Offshore (An Nahar). Caretaker Minister of Energy and Water, Walid Fayyad, stated that Lebanon has granted “Bright Skies” and “Geox” companies a reconnaissance license to conduct a three-dimensional seismic survey in block number eight in the Lebanese marine waters…Lebanon hopes that gas and oil discoveries will help it overcome the stifling economic crisis that has drained more than 98% of the value of the local currency, devoured a large part of the country’s foreign reserves, and caused frequent power outages in towns and cities. 
  2. Ukraine Asks Lebanon to Prevent Docking of Syrian Ship Carrying Stolen Ukrainian Grain (Swissinfo). According to the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon and a diplomatic note seen by Reuters, Ukrainian officials asked Beirut today, Thursday, to prevent a Syrian-owned cargo ship carrying “stolen” Ukrainian grain from docking in the Lebanese port of Tripoli…The Ukrainian mission said in comments to Reuters that the boat (Phenicia) was transporting six thousand metric tons of corn, which the mission considers stolen, from the port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea…The memorandum sent to the Ministries of Transport, Finance, and Economy and the Customs Administration in Lebanon stated that maize “was stolen from storage units in the regions of Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson,” adding that the ship “violates international law.” [The mission] hoped that “(Lebanon) will not allow the Phenicia cargo ship to enter Lebanese ports to sell stolen Ukrainian grain.”

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