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THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 21, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

IRAQ

  1. Iraq Expels Swedish Ambassador and Closes Embassy Amid Quran and Flag Burning Incident (Elaph). Iraq announced the severing of its relations with Sweden, the expulsion of its ambassador in Baghdad, and the withdrawal of the Iraqi charge d’affaires in Stockholm. This decision came in response to the burning of the Quran and the Iraqi flag in front of the Iraqi embassy in the Swedish capital for the second time.
  2. Ericsson Faces Suspension of Operations in Iraq Over Quran Burning Incident (Iraqi News). The Iraqi government has decided to suspend Ericsson’s license to operate in Iraq. According to the statement, this decision was made in response to Sweden’s permission to burn a copy of the Quran and the Iraqi flag. 
  3. Iraq to Summon US Ambassador Over Remarks on Christian Leader (The National News). Baghdad will summon the US ambassador to Iraq following remarks made by a US official about the removal of the head of the Christian Church in Iraq, as announced by the government on Thursday. Ambassador Alina Romanowski is to be called in for discussion after State Department spokesman Matthew Miller described the treatment of Cardinal Louis Sako as harassment.
  4.  Oil Refining in Iraq Surges 1.1 Million Barrels Per Day  (Al Mustaqila). Oil refining capacity in Iraq has increased to 1.1 million barrels per day. According to the Energy Agency, the oil refining capacity in Iraq reached 1.116 million barrels per day in 2022, up from 976 thousand barrels per day in 2021. The increase can be attributed to the completion of the Karbala refinery and the commencement of actual production.
  5.  Kurdistan Regional Government Suspends Mission in Sweden After Quran Desecration (Rudaw). The KRG condemned the “desecration” of the Quran in Stockholm and suspended its mission in Sweden after the Iraqi government called its charge d’affaires home. Additionally, the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP denounced the burning of the Swedish embassy while also condemning the desecration of the Quran. 
  6.  US Calls for Peshmerga Unification, Threatens to Halt Military and Political Support (Al Iraq News). An official source in the Kurdistan Regional Government reveals that a high-level US Ministries of Defense and State delegation will visit the Kurdistan Region next week. The delegation aims to urge the ruling parties to address the issues concerning the Peshmerga forces and facilitate their unification. The US warns of potential suspension of military and political support if unification is not achieved.

TURKIYE

  1.  Turkiye Strongly Condemns Desecration of Quran in Sweden (Daily Sabah). The Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemns the “vile attack” against the Quran. Referring to a recent resolution by the U.N. Human Rights Council, the ministry said such acts amount to religious hate crimes. Additionally, Hakan Fidan engaged in discussions with several Arab counterparts to address the necessary reactions and collaborative actions against “the despicable attack on the Quran in Sweden.”  
  2.  Turkiye’s Central Bank Hikes Interest Rates to 17.5% (Al Monitor). Turkiye’s Central Bank has raised interest rates by 250 basis points to 17.5%, marking the second rate hike following the country’s economic management team’s commitment to tighter monetary policies. Although the increase was lower than expected, the Turkish lira declined to new lows.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1.  Turkish Invitation: Palestinian President and Israeli Prime Minister to Visit Turkiye Next Week (Anadolu Agency). The leaders of Palestine and Israel will be visiting Turkiye next week, accepting President Erdogan’s invitation. The visit is scheduled for July 25 and 28.  
  2. Israeli Reservists Threaten to Refuse Service Over Judicial Overhaul Amid Arrest Threats (Reuters). Hundreds of Israeli reservists marched in Tel Aviv, declaring their refusal to serve if the government proceeded with plans to curtail the Supreme Court’s powers. The military spokesperson’s office has not officially provided figures on the reservist protests, most of which come from using the air force. Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that the government would take action against what he described as insubordination, fearing potential attacks from Israel’s adversaries and a risk to its democracy..
  3. Former Mossad Chief: Israel’s Democracy at Risk if Reasonableness Standard Bill Passes (Jerusalem Post). Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo warned that if the reasonableness standard bill is passed, the current government in Israel will be “the last democratic government.

SYRIA

  1. Moscow: American F-16 Systems Affected a Russian Plan Over Syria (Al Hurra). The Russian news agency TASS quoted Admiral Oleg Gorinov, deputy head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, as saying that a Russian military aircraft was hit by the “guidance systems” of F-16 fighter jets of the US-led coalition during a routine patrol over Syria’s southern border. Gorinov also made new accusations that coalition pilots had violated Syrian airspace several times over the past day.  

LEBANON

  1. The Syrian Kurds Autonomous Administration Moves Forward on Its Initiative to Repatriate the Syrian Refugees in Lebanon to Syria’s Northeast (Al Hadath). The representatives of the Autonomous Administration in Lebanon visited the Lebanese foreign minister to deliver an official letter from the Department of Foreign Relations of North and East Syria, announcing the administration’s readiness t receive refugees from Lebanon.  
  2. Nasrallah Calls for Rallies In Support of the Quran (Al Manar). Commenting on the renewed desecration of the Holy Quran, Hassan Nasrallah called for a rally after the Friday noon prayers demanding the Lebanese government withdraw its ambassador from Sweden and expel the Swedish ambassador. 

Egypt & North Africa

  1. Egypt Secures $100 Million Loan Facility for Grain Purchases, Assures 5.2 Months of Strategic Wheat Reserves (Al Arabiya). Egypt’s Minister of Supply, Ali Al-Moselhi, announces signing a $100 million loan facility agreement to finance grain purchases. Al-Moselhi assures that Egypt’s strategic wheat reserves are sufficient for 5.2 months and highlights the supply of 3.8 million tons of local wheat since the harvest season’s commencement. Additionally, Egypt celebrates successful grants of two international gold mining contracts at the Egypt Mining Forum.
  2. Saudi Arabia Extends $400 Million Easy Loan to Tunisia Amidst Looming Debt Crisis and Goods Shortage (Sky News Arabic Economics). Saudi Arabia offers Tunisia a soft loan worth $400 million and provides $100 million in grants to address the country’s impending debt crisis and shortage of essential goods. The move aims to assist Tunisia in overcoming its faltering financial situation.
  3. Terrifying Explosions Rock Khartoum and El Obeid Amidst Ongoing Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces Clashes (Al Hadath). Khartoum and El-Obeid, a strategic city located 350 km south of Sudan’s capital, experience missile and artillery bombardment amidst continued clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces. The conflict forces 100,000 people to flee from Sudan to Chad. The army accuses the RSF of bombing a residential neighborhood in the capital using a drone, killing 14 civilians and injuring 15 others.
  4. China Commits $36 Billion Investment Across Various Sectors in Algeria (New Arab). China pledges a substantial investment of $36 billion in Algeria, spanning sectors such as manufacturing, new technology, knowledge economy, transport, and agriculture. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune praises the mutually beneficial projects and agreements concluded with China during a meeting in Shenzhen province with representatives of the Algerian community in China.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Saudi Arabia Summons Swedish Embassy’s Charge d’Affairs, Condemns Permits for Quran Desecration (Al Nahar). The Saudi Foreign Ministry takes a decisive stance, summoning the Charge d’Affairs of the Swedish Embassy to protest the repeated and irresponsible actions of granting extremists official permits to burn and desecrate copies of the Quran. The Kingdom strongly condemns these disgraceful acts and calls upon the Swedish government to take immediate and necessary measures to halt such behavior.
  2. Yemen’s Houthi Leader Affirms Determination to Enhance Defense Capabilities and Safeguard Religious Identity (Tasnim News). Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi reaffirms the Yemeni people’s unwavering commitment to strengthening their defense capabilities and preserving their religious identity and internal cohesion. He declares that the Arab nation will confront invading aggressors and continue its pursuit of complete liberation from all forms of tyranny and arrogance.
  3. UAE Achieves Milestone in Carbon Capture Technology with First Well Drilled for Carbon Dioxide Sequestration (Al Nahar). The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, announces a groundbreaking achievement with the completion of the first well in the world designed for injecting and sequestering carbon dioxide in the carbonic aquifer, showcasing the UAE’s dedication to carbon capture technology. 

IRAN

  1. British Foreign Minister Foils 15 Iranian Kidnapping Operations, Vows Tough Stance on Aggression (Bayan Media). The British Foreign Minister exposes Iran’s attempts at multiple kidnapping operations within the UK and highlights the country’s “tough stance” towards Tehran. British security services have successfully prevented at least 15 kidnapping attempts by Islamic Republic agents. The UK plans to impose new sanctions in response to these attacks and provocative actions.
  1. European Union Implements Sanctions Package Against Iran for Supporting Russia and the Syrian Regime (Enab Baladi). The Council of the European Union introduces a comprehensive framework of restrictive measures in response to Iran’s military support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Additionally, the European Union enacted an export ban on drone components to Iran and includes measures such as travel restrictions and asset freezing for those supporting Iran’s drone program.

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