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THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 12, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

TURKIYE

  1. Turkiye Greenlights Sweden’s NATO Bid, and Sweden Will Actively Support Türkiye’s EU Bid (Hurriyet Daily News). A joint statement issued by Türkiye, Sweden, and NATO stipulates the Nordic state’s active support towards reviving the former’s stalled accession process into the European Union in return for getting the green light to join the security alliance. A joint statement outlines that Sweden and Türkiye have worked closely together to address Türkiye’s legitimate security concerns since the last NATO Summit in Madrid in 2022. They agreed to continue their anti-terror cooperation through a new bilateral mechanism under the Security Compact. After securing necessary pledges in the fight against terror and its bid to join the EU, Türkiye greenlighted Sweden’s accession to NATO.
  2. US to Advance Turkey’s F-16 Sales (Al Monitor). Mere hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greenlighted Sweden’s membership to NATO ahead of a critical summit, Washington signaled it would sell the F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in consultation with Congress. Turkey wants to buy $6 billion worth of F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. The Joe Biden administration gave firm backing for the F-16 deal. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday before the NATO meeting that Biden put “no caveats or conditions” on the transfer and “intends to move forward with that transfer in consultation with Congress.”

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Mahmoud Abbas Makes First Visit to Jenin Since 2012 (Jerusalem Post). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit Jenin and its refugee camp on Wednesday, more than a week after the Israeli military operation. Abbas will meet with residents and officials and receive a briefing about efforts to rebuild the city and its refugee camp. This will be Abbas’ first visit to Jenin since 2012 and his first since being elected PA president in 2005. A Jordanian military helicopter will transport Abbas and senior officials from Ramallah to Jenin. The visit comes amid growing criticism of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its security forces for failing to protect Palestinians during the Israeli military operation.
  2. Over 10,000 Protesters at Israel’s Int’l Airport, 66 Arrested in Nationwide Demonstrations (Haaretz). Protesters are blocking intercity highways and holding demonstrations around Israel, aiming to shut down the country. Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai has ordered a situation assessment before the planned demonstrations, focusing on the protest in and around the airport. Protesters are blocking intercity highways and holding demonstrations at Ben-Gurion International Airport, the Haifa District Court, Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv, the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, and the front of the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv. 
  3. Hundreds of IDF Reservists Swear off Service in Protest of Judicial Reforms (Jerusalem Post). 300 members of the IDF’s various cyber and tech arms signed a letter saying they were no longer bluffing and were refusing to show up for reserve duty when called. The IDF reservist protest movement was back in full swing on Tuesday following the Knesset’s Monday night approval of a first reading of the government’s repeal of the judiciary’s reasonableness doctrine, with IDF intelligence Unit 8200 and the air force leading the way.
  4. Fight Emerges Among Israeli Military Leaders about Whether to Fight Hezbollah and When (Jerusalem Post). There is an ongoing discussion in the IDF leadership about whether a major flare-up with Hezbollah is inevitable and when, whether it would be smart to launch a preemptive strike or be better to delay the conflict for as long as possible and only respond to an attack by the Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s intentions are the focus of attention in the top echelons of the defense establishment since the IDF views Hezbollah’s more than 150,000 rockets as a greater near-term threat than even Iran…Currently and more imminently, top IDF commanders are debating whether to use force to remove a relatively insignificant (in terms of size) and meaningless (in terms of danger) tiny Hezbollah outpost of a couple of tents intruding into Israeli territory in the disputed Mount Dov area – and if using force, how much and how soon?
  5. Azerbaijan Thwarts Attack Against Israeli Embassy in Baku (Jerusalem Post). An Afghan citizen planning a terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy in Baku was arrested by Azerbaijani authorities recently, Azerbaijani media reported on Monday. On Monday, Azerbaijan’s State Security Service announced that it had arrested Fawzan Mosa Khan, an Afghani citizen, on suspicion of conspiring with additional individuals to conduct a terrorist attack on the embassy of a third country in Baku. A video released by the State Security Service showed Khan discussing how he would monitor the target of the attack and footage of Khan monitoring the location.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Egyptian Prime Minister Says Government Will Sell Assets Worth $1.9 Billion (Al Khaleej). On Tuesday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that “Egypt has concluded contracts to sell government assets to private companies at a value of $1.9 billion.” During a press conference, he indicated that “his country expects to increase annual inflows of hard currency to $70 billion annually by 2026.”
  2. Libyan Court Issues Long Prison Sentences for 37 Human Traffickers (Al Hadath). A Libyan court in the east of the country has issued strict sentences, including life imprisonment, against 37 persons accused of human trafficking, who caused the death of 11 migrants, according to what the Public Prosecutor’s Office announced on Monday. The Office of the Attorney General said in a press briefing, “The Court of Appeal of Al-Bayda has convicted defendants involved in a criminal gang that caused the death of 11 immigrants on board a rickety boat.”

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Saudi Arabia Hosts Turkish Economic Delegation ahead of Erdogan Visit (Al Khaleej Online). The Saudi Minister of Municipal, Rural Affairs, and Housing, Majid Al-Hogail, held talks in Ankara on strengthening relations between the two countries. At the same time, a high-ranking Turkish economic delegation will head to the Kingdom tomorrow, Wednesday, before an expected visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  2. Houthis Fire Ballistic Missiles at Marib City (Arab News). The Iran-backed Houthis fired two ballistic missiles at Yemen’s central city of Marib on Tuesday as they mobilized many fighters and military equipment outside the city, local government officials said. Rashad Al-Mekhlafi, a military official with Yemen’s Armed Forces Guidance Department, told Arab News by telephone that two missiles landed between Tadaween and Al-Shabwani, north of Marib, near a military base and a refugee camp for internally displaced people. “The missiles exploded in an open area in Marib without causing any injuries,” Al-Mekhlafi said. The missile attack comes as three government officials told Arab News that the Houthis were amassing massive military equipment reserves and combatants outside Marib in preparation for an offensive on the energy-rich city. The attack had been halted by a UN-brokered truce that went into effect in April last year.

IRAN

  1. Indonesia Seizes Iran-Flagged Ship Suspected of Transferring Oil Illegally (Al Monitor). Indonesia’s coast guard seized an Iran-flagged supertanker ship, MT Arman 114, suspected of illegally moving crude oil in the country’s waters. The 26-year-old tanker was spotted in Indonesia’s North Natuna Sea, allegedly moving oil to Cameroon-flagged MT S Tinos without a permit. The vessel violated Indonesian environmental law and was detained.
  2. Iranian President Delays Africa Tour Without Explanation (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi did not depart on a three-nation tour to Africa as planned, state media reported without elaboration.Raisi was supposed to travel from Tehran on Tuesday morning, but no Iranian news outlets reported him leaving. The country’s media said repeatedly over the past week that the president planned to visit Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. State media did not elaborate on why he hadn’t departed. In a brief statement, Kenya’s foreign ministry said that the visit was delayed until Wednesday morning so key memoranda of understanding could be finalized “that are central to the furtherance of relations.” The statement said the presidents would have a bilateral meeting after Raisi arrived. It would be unusual for Iran’s president to call off a foreign trip, though domestic visits sometimes are canceled.
  3. Iran Claims Sovereignty over Persian Gulf Islands, Rejecting GCC-Russian Statement (Iran International). Iran has reasserted its sovereignty over three Persian Gulf islands after Russia and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) once again disputed Iranian rights.In a joint Russia-GCC statement at the sixth joint ministerial meeting of the strategic dialogue between the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Russian Federation, held in Moscow on Monday, ministers affirmed their support for the United Arab Emirates, which also claims sovereignty over the islands. A statement called for “bilateral negotiations or the International Court of Justice, by the rules of international law and the United Nations Charter, to resolve this issue is under international legitimacy.”
  4. Iran Warns it Will Launch Fresh Attacks on Iraqi Kurdistan (Tasnim News Agency). Iran’s military commander warns the Iraqi government of potential fresh attacks on KRG-based terrorists if it fails to meet a September deadline for action against hostile armed groups in its northern regions. The commander warns that armed secessionist groups in northern Iraq cause insecurity at the country’s borders. The IRGC launched several rounds of military strikes in 2022, targeting Iraqi-based Komalah and Democrat terrorist groups after illegal entry into Iranian border cities.

SYRIA

  1. Gulf Countries and Russia Urge the Syrian Regime to Adhere to the “Jordanian Initiative” (Enab Baladi). The joint ministerial meeting of the strategic dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council and Russia discussed the Syrian file…in its sixth session Monday, July 10, in the Russian capital, Moscow. The joint final statement issued by the assembled parties urged the Syrian regime to adhere to the “Jordanian initiative” and to take the necessary steps to reach a comprehensive solution to the “crisis.” 
  2. Syrian Regime and Morocco:  Will Relations Return Through the “Polisario” Portal? (Enab Baladi). During the past week, several indications emerged that speak of the possibility of restoring relations between the Syrian regime and the Kingdom of Morocco in light of the wave of Arab normalization that restored Syria’s seat in the Arab League to the regime. Relations between the regime and Morocco have finally stopped since July 2012, when the two sides exchanged ambassadors’ expulsions. At that time, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry attributed this step to the failure of its efforts to settle in Syria. In contrast, the regime’s step came on the principle of “reciprocity.”
  3. Russia Vetoes UN Security Council Resolution that Would Extend Mechanism for Cross-Border Aid into Syria (Syria TV). On Tuesday, Russia vetoed the Security Council against the decision to extend the mechanism for entering humanitarian aid into Syria. The Russian delegate to the Security Council said that the mechanism for bringing aid across the border into Syria is a “provocation and a play,” as he put it. The delegate added that the problem lies in the content of the decision to extend the aid and not the period for it, pointing out that a new draft resolution will be presented regarding the extension of aid to Syria.

IRAQ

  1. Iraq to trade crude oil for Iranian gas to resolve power debt: PM (Alarabiya). Iraq will begin trading crude oil for Iranian gas to end the recurring issue of payment delays to Tehran due to the need for US approval, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said in a televised speech on Tuesday…Sudani said Iran had cut its gas exports to Iraq by more than 50 percent as of July 1 after Baghdad failed to secure US approval to disburse owed funds, but Tehran had now agreed to resume gas exports in exchange for crude oil. 

LEBANON

  1. Mikati Confirms Lebanon’s Readiness to Demarcate Southern Border with Israel (Sputnik Arabic). Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister, Najib Mikati, confirmed today, Tuesday, his country’s readiness to “demarcate the entire southern border with Israel.” Mikati said, in statements to the Lebanese newspaper “Nidaa Al-Watan”: “We are striving to resolve the issue of the tents diplomatically, and we consider that the town of Ghajar is Lebanese with the recognition of the United Nations,” stressing that Beirut “has informed the United Nations of its readiness to carry out the full demarcation of all the southern borders.”

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