THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 19, 2023

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  1. Herzog Tells Biden Israel’s Democracy ‘Resilient,’ as Overhaul Protests Rage at Home (Times of Israel). As tens of thousands of protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul plan engaged in a “Day of Resistance” back home, sitting alongside Biden in the Oval Office, Herzog appeared to reference the protests, saying, “My heart and soul is also in Israel, in the heated debate which we are going through as a society. It is a heated debate, but it is also a virtue and a tribute to the greatness of Israeli democracy.”
  2. Netanyahu pledged to Freeze Construction until the End of 2023 (Arutz Sheva). ​​Prime Minister Netanyahu told US President Joe Biden that there would be no new construction in Judea and Samaria until the end of the year. According to Yaron Avraham’s report on Channel 12 News, no more new towns will be approved, and no new housing units will be planned or built throughout Judea and Samaria.


  1. US House Votes Overwhelmingly to Keep Sanctions on Assad (Twitter). The US House of Representatives decisively rejected, with a vote of 394 to 24, a proposal to lift US sanctions on Syria. The vote showed yet again that the US Congress’s pressure policy vs. Assad is permanent
  2. Senior Congressman Seeks New Sanctions on Assad Over Captagon (U.S. Congressman French Hill). Rep. French Hill (AR-02), alongside Democratic colleague Rep. Jared Moskowitz (FL-23), introduced the Illicit Captagon Trafficking Suppression Act, which would issue new sanctions against the perpetrators of the illicit production and trafficking of captagon. Hill said, “Assad is a transnational drug kingpin whose captagon drug is devastating families in the region and fueling his terror partnership with Iran and Hezbollah with billions in illegal funding.”
  3. New Israeli Strikes on Hizballah Military Sites in Syria (Times of Israel). Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes against targets in the Syrian capital Damascus shortly after midnight on Wednesday, wounding two soldiers…The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked war monitor, said the strikes marked the 20th time Israel has struck targets in Syria this year. The observatory said the strikes had hit military sites and warehouses of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian government, causing a fire to break out.
  4. Russia Is Using Syrian Border, Ukraine Grain Deal to Blackmail Turkiye (Jerusalem Post). Russia has sought to use humanitarian aid and a grain deal for leverage and blackmail. The recent reports show that Moscow not only upended a deal at the UN to enable aid into northwest Syria, but it has also sought to sabotage a grain deal it had with Turkiye, the UN, and Ukraine…Russia has interests in using the grain deal in Ukraine and the Syrian aid deal to advance its power in Syria and Ukraine. Therefore all these issues are connected, and Russia is using Syria and Ukraine to achieve new demands. What those demands maybe is not fully revealed by current reports because Moscow has not said what it wants in return for enabling the grain flow and opening the border.


  1. European Parliament Rebuffs Turkiye’s NATO-EU Trade-Off (Al Monitor). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s endeavor to link Sweden’s NATO bid to Turkey’s European Union membership faced a firm rejection from the European Parliament (EP) on Tuesday. In a newly released report, the EP underlined that these two distinct processes should remain entirely independent. The press release from the EP Foreign Affairs Committee emphasized the clear stance that the NATO accession process of one country cannot be subject to any linkage with another country’s EU accession aspirations.
  2. Türkiye, Qatar Boost Bilateral Ties (Anadolu Agency). Strengthening their diplomatic relationship, the foreign ministers of Turkiye and Qatar signed a significant declaration during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Qatar, commemorating fifty years since establishing their diplomatic ties. President Erdogan’s visit to the Qatari capital, Doha, featured a special gesture, as he gifted the new Turkish Gemlik blue Togg to his Qatari counterpart Al Thani.
  3. Turkish Drones Sale Deal to Saudi Arabia (Hurriyet Daily News). During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to Saudi Arabia, a significant agreement was struck by Turkish company Baykar to supply its Bayraktar AKINCI drones to the Kingdom. The deal encompasses not only the provision of cutting-edge drones but also includes comprehensive training, technical support, and logistics services for Saudi Arabia.

Egypt & North Africa

  1. Egypt, Türkiye Discuss Strengthening Cooperation in Military Industries (Daily News). Mohamed Salah El-Din Mostafa, the Minister of State for Military Production, engaged in discussions on Monday with Salih Mutlu ŞEN, the Turkish ambassador in Cairo, to explore avenues for bolstering cooperation between the two nations in the realm of military industries. In a show of inclusivity, Egypt invited Turkiye to participate in its most significant military event scheduled for December.
  2. Libyan Authorities Increase Operations Against Illegal Immigration   (Libya Akhbar). Security patrols of the Sabratha Security Directorate seized several illegal immigrants while they were trying to board a rubber boat. Immediately, legal measures were taken and coordinated with the control room of the Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency regarding their transfer to one of the shelters in the capital, Tripoli, under strict security.


  1. Saudi Arabia Hosts the Gulf Summit with Central Asian Countries (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The first summit between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the five Central Asian countries (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) starts on Wednesday in the city of Jeddah (western Saudi Arabia). The Uzbek Deputy Foreign Minister Bahramjan Alaev said the summit represents a new form of interregional cooperation between two important regions.


  1. Iran-China Non-Oil Trade Hits $7.8 Billion in Three Months (Tasnim Agency). While describing the $30 billion trade exchanges between Iran and China last year (ended March 20, 2023), Mohammad Rezvanifar, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA), said that Iran exported $3.5 billion worth of non-oil goods to China from March 21 to June 22, 2023. Iran imported $4.3 billion worth of products from China during this period. 
  2. Tehran Lashes out at Moscow & Japan Over Emirati Islands Dispute (Al Sharq Al Awsat). In response to a recent statement of support issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Moscow for the Emirati initiative aimed at resolving the issue of the disputed islands, Kamal Kharazi, the Iranian guide’s advisor on foreign affairs and head of the Strategic Committee for Diplomatic Relations, mirrored the call for a diplomatic solution to disputes between Moscow and Tokyo during his meeting with the Japanese Ambassador.
  3. Iran and India Plan to Route Russia Trade through Chabahar (Tasnim News Agency). Iran and India have laid out plans to activate the International North-South Trade Corridor (INSTC) to facilitate trade with Russia. A trial shipment will be conducted within 6-8 months to test trade links from Russia to India, utilizing the strategically significant Chabahar Port.


  1. Emerging News on the Kidnappers of Elizabeth Tsurkov (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Ohad Haimo, Arab affairs correspondent for Channel 12, reported intelligence sources in Iraq revealing the narrative behind the kidnapping of Elizabeth Tsurkov. It appears that Tsurkov voluntarily met her captors, driven by her doctoral research focus on “Shiite movements in Iraq,” with particular attention to the prominent Iraqi Shiite leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. During her inquiry, she contacted cleric Ahmed Alwani, requesting a meeting with his cousin Muhammad Alwani, a senior official in the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq. During this meeting, they discovered her Israeli citizenship, which led to the decision to abduct her. Afterward, there was at least one attempt to transport her to Iran, though the success of this endeavor remains uncertain.
  2. Iraq: An Airdrop Destroys an ISIS Cell (Elaph). The Iraqi Security Media Cell disclosed details of a successful airdrop operation in Kirkuk, targeting an ISIS cell comprising five members. The operation resulted in the elimination of the cell and the seizure of their weapons and equipment. Under the guidance of Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahhab Al-Saadi, the head of the Anti-Terrorism Service, a specialized unit executed the airdrop near the village of Kitka in Alton Kobri district, Dibis district, Kirkuk governorate
  3. US Issues New 120-Day Waiver Letting Iraq Pay Iran for Electricity (Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed a new national security waiver, allowing Iraq to pay Iran for electricity. This waiver, the first of its kind, permits the payments to be deposited into accounts at non-Iraqi banks. By implementing this 120-day national security waiver, the U.S. aims to prevent Iran from exerting pressure on Iraq to access the funds previously limited to restricted accounts within Iraq.


  1. A Lebanese-French Cooperation Agreement to Help Companies Invest in the Two Countries (Al Nahar). At the Chamber of Beirut and Mount Lebanon’s headquarters, a cooperation agreement between the Lebanese and French Chambers was signed to facilitate investment opportunities for companies from both nations in each other’s territories, fostering bilateral economic relations.


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