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THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 13, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

TURKIYE 

  1. Türkiye Starting a New Process with the US (TRT World). The NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, marked a new beginning in Turkiye-US ties. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meetings with US President Joe Biden were seen as the start of a “new process” between the two countries. The summit also saw progress in NATO’s strategic goal of enlargement, with Turkiye’s approval of Sweden’s accession. While Ukraine’s future in NATO was acknowledged, the lack of a definite timetable for its membership invitation drew criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The summit outcomes were seen as a setback for Russia, indicating the failure of its attempts to thwart NATO expansion.
  2. Turkish President Plans Upcoming Visit to Saudi to Enhance Ties (Yeni Safak). Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing, Majed Al Hogail, stated that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia will strengthen bilateral relations and increase trade between the two countries. Saudi Arabia aims to benefit from Turkish firms in contracting, housing development, infrastructure, and engineering under its Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy. The two countries have set a bilateral trade target of $10 billion in the short term, and $30 billion in the long term, and Turkish exporters and contractors have been successful in the Saudi market. Discussions for a free trade agreement between Turkiye and the Gulf Cooperation Council are also underway.
  3. UAE Could Invest up to $30 Billion in Türkiye (Daily Sabah). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is considering investments of up to $30 billion in various sectors in Turkiye, according to Turkiye’s Trade Minister Ömer Bolat. These investments could be made in infrastructure, logistics, food, hospital management, and other areas. The announcement comes ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, where Turkish officials expect to attract investments from Gulf states. The investments are seen as a sign of confidence in Turkiye’s economy and can potentially strengthen bilateral ties.

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. In a Knock at Netanyahu Government, the US Urges Israel to Protect Anti-Overhaul Protesters (Times of Israel). The Biden administration has urged Israeli authorities to protect the right to peaceful assembly as clashes erupted between police and thousands of protesters across Israel demonstrating against the government’s proposed judicial overhaul. The White House National Security Council (NSC) issued a statement similar to responses made by the US regarding crackdowns on protests by authoritarian regimes. The Biden administration has intensified its rhetoric against the Israeli government’s conduct, expressing concerns about the proposed legislation and emphasizing the importance of maintaining democratic institutions and broad consensus for reforms. The statement also acknowledged the healthy debate and discussion taking place in Israel.
  2. US-Israeli War Games Underscore Warnings to Iran on Nuclear Enrichment (Al Monitor). The United States and Israel have begun their second round of joint war games, Juniper Oak, which aims to enable the Israeli air force to conduct long-range strikes on strategic targets. While the exercises do not mention Iran specifically, they are seen as a signal to Tehran against further nuclear enrichment. The Biden administration has reportedly reached out to Iran for an informal deal, offering a halt to further enrichment and the release of American prisoners. Still, Iran is not currently pursuing a nuclear weapon, according to a US intelligence report. The US is treading a fine line between warning Israel about its policies toward the Palestinians and supporting it militarily against Iran.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA 

  1. Russia and GCC Statement Rejected Interference in Libya’s Internal Affairs, Supported Elections, and Called for Exit of Mercenaries from the Country (Lana.Gov.Ly). The sixth ministerial meeting of strategic dialogue between Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council was concluded in the Russian capital, Moscow, by stressing the importance of preserving the interests of the Libyan people, achieving security, stability, and development in Libya, ensuring its sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, and stopping interference in Libya’s internal affairs.

THE GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. 16 cooperation agreements crown the Turkish-Saudi Business Forum (Al Khaleej Online). Turkish Trade Minister Omar Polat revealed that the volume of foreign trade between his country and Saudi Arabia amounted to $3.4 billion in the first half of this year. In addition, Turkish and Saudi companies signed 16 cooperation agreements in various fields.This occurred during the Turkish-Saudi Business Forum, held at the Turkish Foreign Economic Relations Council (DEIK) headquarters in Istanbul today.
  2. Saudi “Narcotics Control” Seized 1.8 Million Narcotic Pills in Underground Stores (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The official spokesman for the General Directorate for Drug Control, Major Marwan Al-Hazmi, announced that the security follow-up of drug smuggling networks targeting the security of the Kingdom and its youth resulted in the seizure of 1,882,198 tablets of amphetamine hidden in secret underground storage inside a farm in the city of Sakaka in Al-Jouf region and the arrest of four Yemeni residents and three Saudi citizens. 
  3. Houthi Militias Are Blocking Peace Efforts in Yemen (Mareb Press). Today, Wednesday, the Houthi coup militia set impossible conditions for accepting the peace efforts led by the United Nations through its envoy to Yemen.”Peace and Yemeni-Yemeni dialogue require the dissolution of the alliance, the neutralization of the foreign element, and the abolition of Resolution 2216, and without that, peace remains just words,” said the deputy foreign minister in the Houthi coup government, the Houthi leader, Hussein Al-Ezzi, in a tweet on his Twitter account, monitored by the editor of Marib Press.

IRAN

  1. Iran in a Quest for a Foothold in Africa as Raisi Sets Out for Landmark Visits (Al Monitor). Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is embarking on a three-day tour of Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe to sign bilateral agreements and strengthen relations with African nations. This marks the first visit by an Iranian president to Africa in over a decade. Despite a significant increase in trade volume, Iran’s overall trade with Africa remains relatively low compared to other countries investing in the continent. During the tour, Iran will focus on expanding trade, particularly in mine exploration, extraterrestrial agriculture, and knowledge-based technology. Iran sees Africa as a land of opportunities and aims to establish economic influence, competing with countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkiye. The tour is part of Raisi’s broader foreign policy agenda to mitigate the impacts of Western sanctions and explore new alliances.
  2. NATO Voices Concern Over Iranian Drones For Russia (Iran International). NATO allies have expressed serious concern over Iran’s “malicious activities” within their territories and called on Iran to stop its military support to Russia, specifically the supply of drones. The alliance called upon Iran to cease its transfer of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which have been used to attack critical infrastructure and cause civilian casualties. The United States and Britain have accused Iran of terror plots on their soil. Iran has supplied kamikaze drones to Russia, which have been used against civilian and military targets. The recent attack on Kyiv by Russia using drones further highlights the need for NATO countries to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses.
  3. Iran Objects to Russia’s Support for Raising the Issue of Three Islands in the International Court of Justice (Bayan Media). Iran has objected to the recent joint statement issued by Russia and Arab countries bordering the Persian Gulf, which expressed support for the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to resolve the territorial dispute over the islands of Great Tunb, Little Tunb, and Abu Musa through bilateral negotiations or the International Court of Justice. Iranian officials, including Nasser Kanani from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized that the islands belong to Iran and criticized the statement for undermining friendly relations between Iran and its neighbors. Former Iranian officials also expressed disappointment with Russia’s stance and suggested that Iran’s unbalanced foreign policy has weakened its position on the issue. The territorial dispute between Iran and the UAE has persisted for decades.

SYRIA

  1. The Turkish “Victory” Party Fails Again to Send a Delegation to Syria (Enab Baladi). The government of the Syrian regime has prevented a delegation from the Turkish “Victory” party (Zafar Partisi), which is hostile to refugees, from re-entering Syrian territory for the second time since the beginning of this July. 
  2. UN Human Rights Expert Cancels Visit to Syria Due to Regime’s Lack of Cooperation (Syria TV). A UN expert canceled his visit to Syria, which was scheduled to begin on July 9, due to the lack of full cooperation from the Syrian government. According to what was reported by the “United Nations Human Rights Council” website, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in access to drinking water and sanitation, Pedro Araujo Agudo, received an invitation to visit from the government of the Syrian regime and the dates were initially set in April 2023, but postponed to July 9-20 to allow more time to reach a mutually agreed agenda.
  3. UK Says Syrian Regime has Not Dismantled its Chemical Weapons, Which Threaten International Security (Syria TV). Britain’s envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Barbara Woodward, warned at the Security Council session that the chemical weapons program in Syria continues to threaten international peace and security, calling for pressure on the Syrian regime to commit to destroying its chemical weapons stockpile. Woodward said in the Security Council session on Tuesday, after the failure of the vote to extend the cross-border aid mechanism to Syria: Ten years after Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, Security Council Resolution No. 2118, and 117 monthly reports of the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, it is still It is impossible to verify the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program.
  4. Oman Defies “Caesar” Sanctions and a New Economic Arm of Assad Regime Emerges (Orient). In the Omani capital, Muscat, the so-called “Syrian-Omani Business Forum” was launched with the participation of many businessmen from the two countries in the presence of the Ministers of Economy of the Assad regime and Oman. The delegation of the Assad regime included the head of the Syrian-Omani Business Council, Wassim Qattan. The activities of the two-day forum will be held at the Kempinski Hotel in Muscat in conjunction with the meetings of the Syrian-Omani Joint Committee.

IRAQ

  1. Strikes Topple Several Drug Networks within Hours (Elaph). The Iraqi authorities announced that groups of drug dealers in 5 provinces were overthrown and that other groups are currently being pursued. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior said  “the heroes of the General Directorate for Drug Control” had arrested groups of drug dealers in the governorates of Baghdad, the capital, Anbar (west), Kut (center), Erbil, and Kirkuk (north).
  2. Iraq To Trade Crude For Iranian Gas To Settle Debt (Iran International). Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced that Iraq would begin trading crude oil for Iranian gas to settle its debt to Iran and overcome payment delays caused by US approval requirements. Iran had cut gas exports to Iraq by more than 50% due to unpaid funds but has now agreed to resume exports in exchange for crude oil. The deal was reached during talks with an Iranian delegation in Baghdad. Iraq relies on Iranian gas and electricity imports for a significant portion of its power supply. The country owes Iran around $12.1 billion in outstanding debts. The United States has pushed Iraq to reduce its reliance on Iranian gas.
  3. Egypt & Iraq Announce a Giant Project in Baghdad (Al Mustaqila). On Wednesday, Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris shared the details of a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shiaa al-Sudani, pointing out that the meeting resulted in an [unspecified] giant project in Baghdad. Sawiris posted on his Twitter account a picture with Al-Sudani, commenting on it by saying: “A fruitful brotherly meeting for a giant project in Baghdad,” adding, “My best wishes to the President on success in achieving his aspirations for a prosperous future for the Iraqi people.”

LEBANON

  1. The “Five” in Doha Monday…and Hochstein Again (Al Nahar). The five-nation committee concerned with following up on the presidential crisis in Lebanon will convene next Monday in Doha, and includes representatives of the United States, France, Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. 

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