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THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 18, 2023

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Significant News Intercepts from the Middle East, Curated by ACLS Experts

Providing Insights for the American Public and Foreign Policy Practitioners

Stay Informed, Stay Ahead

July 18, 2023

TOP HEADLINES:

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1.  Israel Acknowledges Moroccan Sovereignty Over the Moroccan Sahara (Info Mediafire). The Israeli Prime Minister made a significant announcement, declaring the State of Israel’s recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara. This move not only marks a diplomatic milestone but also cements the establishment of the Abraham Accords, with the appointment of Colonel Sharon Itach as the first-ever military attache in Morocco.
  2.  Biden Extends Invitation to Netanyahu, Emphasizing the Imperative of Judicial Reform Consensus (Times of Israel). During their first call since March, the White House readout omitted the mention of the invitation, but a US spokesperson later confirmed it. However, both parties remain tight-lipped about the specifics, leaving uncertainty as to where and when the meeting will take place.  
  3.  The Israeli Military Grapples with Internal Dissent (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Sources within the military in Tel Aviv have revealed a growing state of rebellion, surpassing what the country typically encounters from external forces. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dismissive response and veiled threats towards this internal unrest only exacerbate the gravity of the situation.

TURKIYE

  1.  Zelensky: Grain Deal Can Persist Without Russia’s Involvement (Al Hadath). Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, proactively reached out to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, urging them to continue working on the grain export agreement across the Black Sea. Meanwhile, Erdogan expressed his belief that President Putin is amenable to the agreement’s continuation.
  2.  Erdogan & MBS Discuss Joint Partnerships in Jeddah (Al Sharq Al Awsat). During an official session of talks and a bilateral meeting, the Saudi Crown Prince and the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, explored avenues to enhance bilateral relations between their respective nations. They sought to promote collaborative efforts in various domains and delved into discussions on regional and international developments, as well as the efforts undertaken to address them.
  3. Turkiye Open to Talks with Assad, Firmly Rejects Departing Syria Despite YPG Presence (Daily Sabah). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Turkiye’s readiness to engage in dialogue and normalize relations with the Assad regime in Syria. However, President Erdogan firmly rejected the regime’s demand for Turkiye to withdraw from northern Syria, emphasizing his country’s commitment to addressing the YPG presence in the region.

Egypt & North Africa

  1.   EU Aims to Extend Accord on Illegal Immigration to Egypt and Morocco (Sky News Business). Building on the recent agreement with Tunisia, the European Union is actively pursuing strategic partnership arrangements with Egypt and Morocco, with a particular focus on addressing the pressing issue of irregular migration. The EU’s aim is to forge alliances that mirror the successful cooperation achieved with Tunisia, aimed at combating the challenges posed by illegal immigration. 
  2.  Al-Azhar Observatory Warns of ISIS Sleeper Cells’ Menace in the Region (Daily News Egypt). The Al-Azhar Observatory issued a statement cautioning about the lingering dangers posed by ISIS sleeper cells in the region. Despite suffering losses of historical leaders, ISIS retains the capacity to mount attacks against both civilians and military personnel. The organization’s desperate bid to showcase its resilience and unity heightens concerns, as it seeks to divert attention from internal crises.

The GULF REGION & YEMEN 

  1.  Saudi Arabia Backs Interpol with One Million Euros in Technological Support (Al Khaleej Online). Colonel Abdul Malik bin Ibrahim Al Suqiyyah, the representative of the Saudi Ministry of Interior and Director General of the International Police, signed a draft agreement with Interpol, committing one million euros as a voluntary contribution to bolster the organization’s technological capabilities. 
  2. The UAE & Japan Ink 23 Economic Agreements (Sky News Economics). During the UAE-Japanese Business Forum in Abu Dhabi, the UAE and Japan signed 23 agreements and memorandums of understanding to enhance their economic, trade, and investment relations. The areas of collaboration encompass trade and investment, energy, renewable energy, industry, advanced technology, artificial intelligence, space, health, transportation, shipping, environment, and the circular economy.

IRAN

  1.  Iran’s Expanding Influence in Africa Despite U.S. and Israeli Ire (Tehran Times). Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi concluded a three-nation tour of Africa, aiming to diversify Iran’s economic partnerships and mitigate the impact of U.S. sanctions. Despite opposition from the United States and Israel, Iran and African nations anticipate trade to surge by over $2 billion this year. 
  2. No Accountability as Khamenei’s Ayatollahs Engage in Multi-Million Dollar Thefts (Iran International). Recent revelations of extensive economic corruption and land and forest encroachments by representatives of Ali Khamenei across Iran have ignited public outrage. Amid deep-seated fury, a few courageous politicians have dared to voice their concerns. 

SYRIA

  1. Revealing Covert Cooperation between Hizballah, the IRGC, and ISIS (SOHR). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has obtained credible information from sources closely linked to militias under the Iranian wing in Syria, unveiling a startling revelation about their clandestine negotiations with the “Islamic State” organization. The investigation has brought to light a shocking alliance between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Lebanese Hezbollah, and the “Islamic State,” which has persisted for the past two years. 
  2. Turkish Authorities’ Forced Deportations of Syrian Refugees (SOHR). The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) sheds light on a distressing situation involving the Turkish authorities, who are engaged in forceful deportations of Syrian refugees…The impact of the forced deportation operations has been extensive, affecting approximately 956 refugees, many of whom possess valid identity papers and temporary protection cards (Kimliks). The actions of the Turkish authorities, which began drawing attention on July 17, 2023, have raised deep concerns as reports indicate the use of violent and intimidating tactics during the detention of Syrians in temporary camps before deportation. 

IRAQ

  1. A Pivotal Moment: 270 Political Parties Enlist for Iraq’s Elections (Bas News). In a significant development, a staggering 270 political parties have successfully completed the official registration process, signifying their participation in the forthcoming provincial council elections in Kirkuk and several other provinces. Scheduled to be the first provincial council elections held in Iraq since April, 2023, these upcoming polls are poised to serve as a defining juncture for the nation’s political landscape. 
  2. Iranian MP Issues Military Reprisal Threat against Iraq (Bayan Media). An Iranian Member of Parliament, Ismail Kothari, has issued a stern warning to Iraq, cautioning against aligning itself with the Zionists, Americans, and select European nations. Kothari emphasized that such an alignment could lead to dire consequences for Iraq. Furthermore, he highlighted that Iran would not hesitate to take necessary actions if armed anti-revolutionary factions continue to operate in northern Iraq, especially those receiving support from various foreign entities and conducting activities near Iran’s borders.

LEBANON

  1. The Quintet Committee Urges Progress in Lebanon’s Presidential Elections (Al Sharq Al Awsat).  Comprising Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, France, and the United States of America, the Five-Nations Committee for Lebanon has decided to waive measures against the “obstructors” of Lebanon’s presidential elections. The committee called on members of the Lebanese parliament to fulfill their constitutional responsibility and promptly commence the process of electing a president for the country. 
  2. Hezbollah’s Attack Video Draws Inspiration from the Yom Kippur War (Jerusalem Post).  Hezbollah recently released a video showcasing training for an attack on an Israeli military position. Interestingly, the video doesn’t draw parallels to the 2006 conflict but rather serves as a reenactment of the historic Yom Kippur War in 1973, where Syria and Egypt launched an offensive against Israel. The video also reveals Hezbollah employing optical observation devices, an anti-tank missile, mortars, and a Shahed-style drone. This particular drone, similar to ones sent by Iran to Russia for use in the invasion of Ukraine, adds to the complexity of the situation.

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