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THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 20, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

SYRIA

  1.  Le Figaro Exposes Increased Smuggling of Captagon from Syria to Gaza Strip, Rising Demand Amidst Adversities (Ronahi). According to the French newspaper “Le Figaro,” the smuggling of Captagon from Syria to the Gaza Strip has witnessed a significant surge, with doubled activity across the border crossings. The increased sales of Captagon have surpassed traditional substances like hashish and tramadol within the Strip. The article sheds light on the situation, noting that the residents of Gaza, burdened by poverty, siege, and restrictions, seek solace in substances from the Damascus government to escape their daily hardships momentarily.
  2.  Germany Busts Largest Captagon Production Plant, Run by Two Syrians in Bavaria (Syria TV). German authorities successfully seized the largest Captagon production plant discovered in Germany in Regensburg, Bavaria. During the operation, two Syrian suspects were arrested red-handed while manufacturing Captagon tablets…Investigations revealed that the manufactured Captagon was intended for international sale, primarily targeting Arab countries.
  3.  Syrian Lira Crashes to an All-time Low of 11,600 to the USD (Syrian Pound Today). The Syrian lira continued its slide this week, falling to an all-time low of 11,600 to 1 USD on Wednesday. The lira has lost over a third of its value since the Arab League restored normal relations with Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad two months ago. 

IRAQ

  1. Sadrist Supporters Torch Swedish Embassy in Protest Following Second Quran Burning Approval (Sky News Arabia). Iraqi media reported that hundreds of Sadrist supporters stormed the Swedish embassy and set it on fire. The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the burning of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Baghdad, calling for an urgent investigation into the incident.
  2. Federal Police Arrest Drug-Trafficking Gang Linked to Popular Mobilization Forces in Baghdad (Al Iraq News). The Federal Police Command reported the successful apprehension of a drug-trafficking gang affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces in Baghdad. According to a statement released by the leadership, a joint security operation involving the 3rd Mechanized Brigade of Federal Police and a detachment from the Karkh Drugs Directorate led to the arrest of the said gang. 
  3.  The US Imposes Dollar Transaction Ban on 14 Iraqi Banks Amid Iran Electricity Payment Reports and Money-Laundering Concerns (Iran International).  According to a Wednesday report by the Wall Street Journal, the ban, imposed by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is part of a concerted effort to clamp down on the flow of US currency to Iran and other sanctioned Middle East countries.

IRAN

  1. EU Set to Retain Missile Sanctions as Iran Claims Receiving JCPOA Revival Initiatives via Oman (Al Khaleej Online). Reuters revealed that EU nations will maintain the ballistic missile sanctions on Iran with no difficulty. During the Omani Minister’s visit to Iran, Amir Abdollahian, the foreign minister, announced that “the Omani foreign minister put forward some initiatives during his recent visit to Tehran.
  2.  Iran Seeks to Exchange Elizabeth Tsurkov for Israeli-Held Iranian Operatives (New Arab). According to exclusive information from an Iraqi source with ties to the ruling elites in both Iraq and Iran, Tsurkov was allegedly kidnapped by an Iran-backed Shia militia in Iraq. The proposed deal involves exchanging Tsurkov’s release for several Iranian operatives currently held by Israel.
  3. Iran Poised to Lead Middle East’s Oil and Gas Transmission Pipeline Growth by 2027 (Global Data). Iran’s notable projection to take center stage in the Middle East’s oil and gas trunk/transmission pipeline length expansions from 2023 to 2027 is set to account for approximately 38% of the region’s planned and announced pipeline additions by 2027. 
  4. Iran-EU Trade Amounts to €1.869 Billion in 5 Months, with a 10% Year-on-Year Decline (Tehran Times). During the initial five months of 2023, trade between Iran and the European Union’s member states reached €1.869 billion, indicating a 10% decrease compared to the previous year. Notably, EU exports to Iran amounted to €1.517 billion, marking a six percent decline during this period. On the other hand, EU imports from Iran amounted to €352 million, representing a significant 24% decrease.

TURKIYE

  1.  Turkiye’s Gulf Tour Yields $50 Billion in Trade Deals with UAE and Strengthens Regional Ties (Al Monitor). The accord is set to diversify the UAE-Turkey Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, fostering cooperation across multiple sectors such as space, defense development, energy, and natural resource projects.
  2.  Turkish and Greek Navies Collaborate in NATO Drill in Eastern Mediterranean (Hurriyet Daily News). The Turkish and Greek navies joined forces in a momentous NATO maritime exercise, Neptune Strike 23-2, conducted in the eastern Mediterranean. 

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Likud Minister Calls Attorney General ‘the Most Dangerous Person’ in Israel (Times of Israel). Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem. Opposition leaders responded with outrage, accusing the firebrand Likud member, who also serves as a minister in the Justice Ministry, of dangerous incitement against the attorney general, and calling for his dismissal.
  2.  Herzog Lauds Strong Judiciary, Says Democracy in Israel’s DNA (Times of Israel). President Isaac Herzog told a joint session of the US Congress on Wednesday that Israel’s democracy is based on an independent judiciary and that he was doing everything he could to secure consensus backing for legal reforms as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government advances judicial overhaul legislation back home.

Egypt & North Africa

  1. Algeria Seeks to Join the BRICS Group & Signs 13 Trade Agreements with China (Al Hadath). The joint statement stated that China welcomes Algeria’s desire to join the BRICS group and supports its efforts to achieve this goal. Xi said the two sides will cooperate in aerospace, infrastructure, petrochemicals, and renewable energy.  
  2.  The Moroccan Navy Rescued 845 Ilegal Immigrants Heading to Spain (Al Hadath). According to a military source, the Moroccan navy conducted rescue operations at sea over eight days, saving 845 migrants…The operations were carried out in response to the growing perilous attempts made by desperate migrants to reach the Spanish Canary. In other news, the Tunisian coast guards announced recovering thirteen bodies of illegal immigrants off their coast heading to Italy.  
  3.  After Meeting with the European Human Rights Representative, Egypt Issues Two Presidential Pardons (English Ahram). Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi issued a presidential decree pardoning a group of activists against whom court rulings have been issued, including the researcher Patrick Zaki and the famous lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1.  Gulf Summit Wraps Up with Central Asian Countries, Fostering Economic Cooperation (Al Khaleej Online). The closing statement of the Gulf Summit with Central Asian countries, held in Jeddah, emphasized the importance of bolstering economic cooperation, particularly in the trade sector, and fostering joint investment. 
  2. The Netherlands Lifts Arms Embargo on Türkiye, UAE, and Saudi Arabia (Middle East Eye). The Dutch government changed its policy after Turkish support for Sweden’s membership in NATO, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE also benefiting. 

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