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THE EARLY PHOENIX – August 9, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

Turkiye

  1. Erdogan Says Türkiye Will Reform Constitution to Liberate It from Coup-Era Ideology (Hurriyet Daily News). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Türkiye has announced his intention to reform the country’s constitution, aiming to free it from the influence of coup-era military ideology…Erdoğan emphasized that constitutional amendments were a priority of the newly elected government, aiming to replace what he sees as a remnant of a coup d’état with a more inclusive and democratic framework. To ratify the new constitution, the support of 400 lawmakers out of 600 is required, and a minimum of 360 lawmakers’ votes are needed to hold a referendum.
  2. Türkiye’s Exports to UAE Reach Almost $2.5 Billion (Yeni Safak). Turkey’s exports to the UAE have reached $2.46 billion in the first seven months of the current year, reflecting a 30.9% increase compared to the previous year. The jewelry sector accounted for the largest share of these exports, amounting to $971.3 million. This growth in trade between the two countries is attributed to intensified diplomatic efforts and agreements signed during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent visit to the UAE, covering various sectors such as energy, transportation, tourism, and advanced technologies.
  3. Türkiye and EU Agree on Fresh Economic Roadmap (Daily Sabah). Turkiye and the European Union (EU) have agreed on a roadmap to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations, signaling a re-engagement between the two sides. The discussions are focused on restoring strained ties, including negotiations on Turkey’s accession process, updating the customs union, and visa liberalization. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent endorsement of Sweden’s NATO membership bid has contributed to this positive shift. The road map aims to strengthen trade dialogue and cooperation, particularly in updating the customs union agreement. Despite past disagreements, Turkey and the EU have a significant trade relationship, with bilateral trade reaching nearly $200 billion in 2022.
  4. Turkish Drone Maker’s Deal with Saudi Arabia Opens Door to New Defense Exports (Anadolu Agency). Following the historic defense and aerospace export contract between Turkish UAV producer Baykar and Saudi Arabia for the Bayraktar Akinci unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), new opportunities have emerged for Turkish defense firms. A UAV Manufacturing Indigenization Agreement was signed in Riyadh, attended by Turkish companies Baykar, Aselsan, Roketsan, and Saudi counterparts. Baykar signed agreements with Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) for local production and technology transfer, while Aselsan and Roketsan signed agreements with the Saudi National Company for Mechanical Systems.
  5. Erdogan Hails Meeting in Türkiye between Abbas and Hamas Leader Haniyah (TRT World). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highlighted the significance of a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniya in Turkey…Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s strong support for the Palestinian cause and its commitment to a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict.
  6. Putin May Visit Turkiye to Discuss Syrian Refugees and a Potential Assad/Erdogan Meeting (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Sources close to the  Turkish government revealed that the Syrian file would be one of the essential files in a possible visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Ankara that may take place during August and that he will discuss with President Erdogan the path of normalizing relations with Damascus and the return of Syrian refugees to their country…the agenda of Putin’s visit would focus on four main files related to the Black Sea grain agreement, from which Russia withdrew, trade relations between the two countries, and relations between Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, in addition to the Syrian file.

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Gallant Warns Hezbollah Against Escalation: “We’ll Return Lebanon to The Stone Age (Times of Israel). Visiting the tense Mount Dov region on the border with Lebanon on Tuesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant threatened the Hezbollah terror group, which has been carrying out provocations along the frontier in recent months. In a video statement, Gallant warned the chief of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, “not to make a mistake…You have made mistakes in the past; you have paid hefty prices. If… an escalation or conflict develops here, we will return Lebanon to the Stone Age. We will not hesitate to use all our power and erode every inch of Hezbollah and Lebanon if we have to,” said Gallant after touring the area with senior Israel Defense Force officers.
  2. Finance Minister Smotrich Suspends Funds to Arab Towns in East Jerusalem (Arab News). Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has suspended funds for Arab towns and Palestinian education programs in East Jerusalem, citing concerns about crime and safety. Smotrich, a member of PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalist-religious government, expressed doubts about the allocation of budget funds to Arab local councils, suggesting they could end up in the hands of “criminals and terrorists.” This move has been criticized as racist by lawmakers and colleges, with accusations that it perpetuates disparities between Jewish and Arab citizens regarding social and economic opportunities. The freeze could impact essential services and education in these areas.
  3. PM Netanyahu Doesn’t Have the Votes to Remake the Judicial Selection Panel, Likud Said to Believe (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly lacks the necessary votes to pass a bill that would change the composition of the Judicial Selection Committee, a key element of his proposed judicial overhaul plan, according to an unsourced assessment within his Likud party. Despite Netanyahu’s recent indication that he intends to compromise on certain aspects of the overhaul plan, several Likud lawmakers have expressed hesitations about further unilateral changes. The uncertainty surrounding the bill’s passage has led to questions about Netanyahu’s motivations and tactics, with some speculating that he may be deliberately creating alarm over judge appointments to ease the passage of other controversial measures.
  4. In a Shift, US State Department Labels Israeli Settler Violence as a ‘Terror Attack’ (Al Monitor). The US State Department has labeled an Israeli settler attack that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old Palestinian as a “terror attack,” expressing its concern over a surge of violence in the West Bank…While Israeli police arrested two immigrants and detained five Palestinians, the State Department’s use of the term “terror attack” reflects a shift in its language, as it typically reserves this label for attacks on Israeli civilians.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Sudanese Sovereignty Council Presents Plan to End the War (Sky News). The deputy head of the council, Malik Agar, revealed a roadmap proposed by the government to end the war and explained that the plan begins with the separation of the warring forces, leading to the establishment of a comprehensive political process based on the establishment of the state and not the sharing of power, in addition to facilitating the arrival of aid and ensuring the security of citizens.
  2. Clashes Rage in Omdurman (Al-Arabiya). Violent clashes have renewed between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, especially in Omdurman, north of the capital. Al-Arabiya/Al-Hadath reported on Tuesday that the military bombed with heavy artillery several separate locations of the Rapid Support Forces south of Khartoum, specifically in the capital’s southern parts and the Sports City’s vicinity. At the same time, military reconnaissance aircraft continued to fly over the three cities of the money.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Houthis Warn US Against Getting Close to Yemen Waters (Mehr News). “In the interest of international peace and security and the preservation of the safety of navigation in the Red Sea, the American forces must move away from our territorial waters,” the deputy foreign minister in Yemen’s National Salvation Government tweeted on Tuesday. Because, Hussein al-Ezzi said, any approach may mean the beginning of the longest and costliest battle in human history. The warning came hours after the U.S. Fifth Fleet said in a statement that more than 3,000 U.S. military personnel had arrived in the Red Sea on board two warships.
  2. Al-Qaeda Displays Grad Missiles in Eastern Yemen (Akhbar al Yemeni). Images were shared on social media by accounts connected to the organization that claimed they were part of an operation to target the “Balhaf” facility, which serves as a UAE base in Shabwah on the Arabian Sea. Sources indicated that the attack was carried out using Grad missiles. Given that the disclosure comes just a few days after the show of drones by the organization, it represents a notable development in its rapidly developing armament operations for its elements. This is the first time the organization has acknowledged having Grad missiles in its arsenal.
  3. Saudi Arabia Extends Voluntary Oil Production Cut through September (Al Khaleej). During its session on Tuesday, the Saudi Council of Ministers affirmed that “the Kingdom will continue to strengthen the precautionary efforts of the (OPEC Plus) group of countries aimed at supporting the stability of oil markets, including extending the voluntary cut of one million barrels per day, which began to be applied last July, to include the month of September.” 
  4. UAE-Aligned Southern Yemeni Council Threatens Rapprochement with Houthis (Yemen-Publisher). On Tuesday, the head of the pro-UAE transitional council in southern Yemen threatened rapprochement with Sanaa…This comes amid the continuing crisis with the Presidential Council, the authority loyal to the coalition of south Yemen…Aidaroos Al-Zubaidi, during his meeting with British charge-d’affaires Charles Harper, requested British mediation with the Houthis…Al-Zubaidi’s proposal came with Saudi pressure on the STC to exhaust its forces in battles in the north.

IRAN

  1. IRGC Threatens Retaliation If US Seizes Iranian Vessels (Amwaj Media). The IRGC has threatened retaliation if the United States seizes Iranian vessels as tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf. IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif asserted Iran’s military capability to confront threats and warned that American actions would be met with reciprocal measures. The US has recently bolstered its military presence in the region and offered armed protection to commercial vessels.
  2. Iran Divulges Correspondence with U.S. Via Qatar and Oman Regarding Prisoner Exchanges (Step News). Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said Tuesday that his country does not consider preconditions regarding the exchange of prisoners with Washington…Abdollahian explained that messages were exchanged with the United States about the prisoner file through the Sultanate of Oman and Qatar, according to the Iranian Tasnim Agency…He also affirmed Tehran’s welcome to diplomatic initiatives that help lift US sanctions on the country.
  3. Iran Nuclear Chief Says Tehran is Producing Heavy Water Derivatives (Iran International). The Islamic Republic is successfully producing heavy water derivatives, a groundbreaking achievement in nuclear technology and medical research, Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami has announced. Eslami told IRIB News that the AEO has been pursuing a “combination of laser and biotechnology” to work on heavy water derivatives for deuterated drugs. He added that this cutting-edge approach has already commenced in laboratory settings and holds promising prospects for widespread implementation.
  4. Iran Bought Spy Tech From German, Chinese, and Other Firms (Iran International). The scandal involving German corporation Bosch’s sale of surveillance technology to Iran has expanded to include Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and China. The United States and the European Union had previously sanctioned the Chinese company Tiandy for supplying surveillance equipment to Iran. Danish security company Milestone Systems is reported to have delivered video analysis software to Iran, while the Iranian regime also uses cameras from Sweden and the Netherlands. Bosch sold 8,000 security cameras to Iran between 2016 and 2018, claiming they cannot be used for fully automatic facial recognition. The controversy raises questions about export control decisions.
  5. UK Sanctions Entities in Turkey, UAE, and Iran for Alleged Role in Ukraine War (Al Monitor). Britain has imposed sanctions on entities and individuals from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran, accusing them of supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine. The sanctions target those supporting Russia’s military efforts, including companies exporting microelectronics essential for Russian military activity in Ukraine. Turkik Union and Azu International were designated for this role, and UAE’s Dubai-based Aeromotus Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Trading LLC was sanctioned for supplying drones to Russia. Iran, which has provided drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, also faced sanctions targeting entities developing uncrewed aerial vehicles. This action is part of Britain’s efforts to reduce support for Russia’s military activities in Ukraine.
  6. Canada Targets Senior Iran Officials with New Sanctions (Reuters). Canada has imposed new sanctions on seven individuals, including a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, accusing them of activities that threaten international peace and security. These measures also target senior Iranian officials involved in entities supplying materials to Iran’s national Law Enforcement Command. Additionally, individuals holding critical positions in state-directed firms producing combat drones for Iran’s armed forces or exporting to Russia are also under sanctions. The measures entail travel bans, and asset freezes for the designated individuals within Canada.

SYRIA

  1. Syrian Regime Agrees to Two-Month Extension for UN Cross-Border Aid into Northern Syria (Syria TV). On Tuesday, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs at the United Nations announced that the Syrian regime had decided to extend the authorization granted to the United Nations to provide humanitarian aid through the Bab al-Salama and al-Rai border crossings with Turkey until November 13…The Syrian regime agreed to humanitarian assistance entering through these two crossings after the devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria on February 6.
  2. Syrian Regime Calls on UN Security Council to Condemn Israeli Airstrikes Near Damascus (Shaam News). The Assad regime called on the United Nations and the UN Security Council to condemn the Israeli strikes on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, after the recent raids that killed four members, including officers, and injured others, and caused other losses…The Assad regime’s foreign ministry stressed that the international community must take immediate action to oblige Israel to desist from these aggressive policies.
  3. Pro-Turkish Syrian Rebels Arrest ISIS Leader (New Arab). A source close to the Syrian National Army, a Turkish-backed force affiliated to the opposition government, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that police captured an “IS security commander” and a “sniper” who is accused of killing several members of opposition factions…The two IS members were arrested after a house was stormed in Al-Bab, northern Syria.

IRAQ

  1. Baghdad and Washington Hold Talks on Future of Coalition Forces in Iraq (Elaph). A round of Iraqi-American dialogue for joint security cooperation began in Washington Tuesday, with discussions between the two countries’ defense ministers about the future of the international coalition forces in the country, which the United States leads…The Iraqi Minister of Defense, Thabet Al-Abbasi, met with his American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, at the Pentagon in Washington, during which they discussed joint security cooperation during the opening of the security cooperation dialogue between the United States and Iraq.
  2. Iraqi Supreme Court Allows Government Budget to Enter into Force (Al Sharq Al Awsat). After political controversy and mutual appeals that lasted for months between the government and parliament on the one hand and the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal parliament on the other hand, the tripartite financial budget (2023-2024-2025) entered into force on Tuesday, after the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani, won the battle in favor of his government after a long conflict…On Monday, the Federal Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the country, decided the appeals submitted to it, especially those related to the Kurdistan region…it rejected the appeals submitted by the Kurdistan regional government as illegal.

LEBANON

  1. Lebanon Mobilizes Naval Forces against Israeli Boats Said to Be in Lebanese Waters (I24). Local Lebanese reports indicate that boats originating from Israel were violating what was said to be Beirut’s sovereignty. The Lebanese army mobilized naval forces against Israeli ships violating what was said to be Lebanon’s sovereignty, Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen reported. Earlier in the day, another Lebanese newspaper reported that U.S. Special Envoy Amos Hochstein would visit Beirut to “feel the pulse” for demarcating a land border with Israel after what was touted as successful maritime talks.

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