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THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 26, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

SYRIA

  1. American Drone Damaged by Russian Fighter Jet Over Syria (Times of Israel). A Russian fighter jet flew within a few meters of a US drone over Syria and fired flares at it, striking the American aircraft and damaging it, the US military says, the latest in a string of aggressive intercepts by Russia in the region.
  2. The Economic Alliance Between Assad and Libya’s Hafter’s Son Exposed (Syria TV). Africa Intelligence, a French website specialized in intelligence information, said the relationship between Assad and Saddam Hafter, Khalifa Hafter’s son, became more coherent in the past five years, providing commercial opportunities. The site referred to a visit by Maher al-Assad to Benghazi in September 2022, on board a plane belonging to “Cham Wings”. “Africa Intelligence” explained that maritime ties are at the core of that relationship and deals between the Syrian regime and those close to Khalifa Haftar in the Mediterranean, just like the trips of “Sham Wings.”
  3. Iran Prepared to Aid Syria During Reconstruction Period (Tehran Times). Amir Saeed Iravani, the Permanent Representative of Iran to the UN underlined Iran’s support for Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and declared that the Islamic Republic is prepared to help the country throughout its reconstruction phase.

TURKIYE

  1.  Turkiye Introduces 7 New Defense Products (Anadolu Agency). Roketsan is participating in IDEF ’23 with 30 products, seven of which were exhibited for the first time. The four-day event, one of the largest global defense fairs, which will run through Friday, is exhibiting a range of defense products, including land vehicles, weapons, simulators, radars, sonars, naval platform solutions, aviation systems, missiles, logistic vehicles, supply equipment, and security systems.
  2.  Ankara Focused on Revitalizing Foreign Policy and Taking a More Active Role in the Region (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Erdogan sought to host Abbas and Netanyahu this month but the Israeli prime minister announced that it was postponed, due to his recent surgery.  Turkish media said that Erdogan had a closed session… with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In other news, sources reported about an arrangements for a meeting in Türkiye between Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas. The two sides are expected to discuss forming a national unity government. 
  3.  Iran Ready to Ship Radiopharmaceuticals to Turkiye (Tehran Times). Mohammad Eslami, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), said on Monday that Iran is willing to export radiopharmaceuticals to Turkey. Eslami made the remarks in a meeting with Hicabi Kirlangic, the Turkish ambassador to Iran.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1.  Attorney General Asks High Court to Strike Down Law Shielding Netanyahu from Recusal (Times of Israel). In an extraordinary filing on Tuesday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara requested that the High Court of Justice strike down a law passed in March that prevents the court from ordering a prime minister to recuse himself from office, a stance – if accepted – that would mark the first time the court strikes down one of Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.
  2. Former Israeli Security Chief Tells Gallant: Stop Playing Games and Resign (Jerusalem Post). According to former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ought to have resigned in the wake of passing the Law to Cancel the Reasonableness Standard, a pivotal component of the judicial reform. Yatom castigated Gallant for his failure to display courageous leadership by stepping down in the face of contentious legislation. 
  3.  Palestinian Presidency Calls on Washington to Intervene Immediately to Stop Israeli Aggression (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Palestinian presidency demanded immediate US intervention to stop the Israeli “aggression”, which it warned “aims to drag the region into the square of violence, tension and instability.” This came after the killing of 3 Palestinian youths this morning by Israeli army bullets in Nablus, in the northern West Bank.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1.  Terrifying Scenes from Fires in Algeria and Tunisia (Al Jazeera). The Algerian Ministry of Interior announced that 34 people were killed and 26 others injured in a series of fires in the eastern and northern regions of the country, coinciding with a severe heat wave sweeping the region. A video clip documented the fires spreading in populated areas in the Al-Qul area in the state of Skikda, and attempts to evacuate the residents stranded in the area.
  2.  Libyan Parliament Adopts Road Map for Formation of a New Government (Hiba Press). The Libyan Parliament decided on the road map issued by the “6 + 6” committee of the Parliament and the High Council of State. Parliament voted by an absolute majority to approve the road map with some amendments and observations proposed by the deputies. Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh announced a 20-day nomination period for candidates to head the new government…Saleh stressed that candidates to lead the new government must obtain the recommendation of 15 deputies and ten members of the Supreme Council of State.
  3.  UN Says Situation in Sudan is Catastrophic (Al Arabiya). After 100 days of conflict, the United Nations revealed that the situation in Sudan had turned into a complete disaster. In a statement today, Nkweta Salami, Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, said, “Yesterday marked the 100th day since the outbreak of war in Sudan, a crisis that has turned into a complete disaster, noting that the increasing violations affect civilians and increase their suffering.

The GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1.  Expectations of a return to violence after Houthis Halt negotiations with Saudi Arabia (Mareb Press). The Early Warning System for Violence, developed by ESCWA, projects a significant probability of violence unless urgent measures are implemented to address the risks. In a related development, Houthi media platforms have issued a formal warning, threatening a startling response to any hostile actions by England, the US, and France towards Yemen.
  2. Saudi Arabia Establishes International Center for Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (Al Khaleej). The Council of Ministers headed by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, approved the establishment of the International Center for Research and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. This decision comes in light of international warnings of the danger of artificial intelligence and its threat to humanity due to its negative and immoral uses.

IRAN

  1. Iran Welcomes Mediation Role of Qatar and Oman in Returning to the JCPOA (Al Khaleej). The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the relations that bind Tehran with the Arab Gulf states, welcoming the efforts of Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman to mediate between the parties to the Iranian nuclear agreement. Doha is seeking, through mediation, to reach a prisoner exchange deal between the two parties, which also includes the release of frozen Iranian assets in South Korea, amounting to seven billion dollars.
  2. IRGC to Receive ‘Haj Qassem’ Ballistic Missile in Near Future (Mehr News). Afshin Naderi Sharif, the Iranian defense minister’s deputy for industrial and research affairs, made a significant announcement during a ceremony in Tehran. The event marked the delivery of the indigenous ‘Abu Mahdi’ naval cruise missiles to the naval fleets of the Iran Army and IRGC. 
  3. Bolivia Facing Questions over Shadowy Defense Pact with Iran (Times of Israel). The Argentine government and members of Bolivia’s opposition demanded answers following the sealing of an opaque defense agreement between Iran and Bolivia that raised concerns in South America’s Southern Cone that it could be a way for Tehran to boost its influence in the region.
  4. Iran Hails China’s Push for Regional Peace (Tasnim Agency). Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Akbar Ahmadian lauded China’s balanced policy towards the Middle East and its efforts to ensure regional peace. “In addition to its huge economic benefits, Iran’s cooperation with China sets the ground for regional security,” Ahmadian said in a meeting on Monday with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on the sidelines of the 13th Meeting of BRICS National Security Advisers and Representatives in South Africa.
  5. Iran Equips Naval Forces with Long-Range AI-Powered Cruise Missiles (Tasnim Agency). A new long-range strategic cruise missile, named after Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was delivered to the Iranian naval forces on Tuesday. With a range of over 1,000 kilometers, the precision-strike missile would expand Iran’s naval defense coverage zone by several times.
  6. Iran Tries to Quell Scandal Over Official’s Same-Sex Video (Iran International). The video that has gone viral on social media since Wednesday allegedly shows Reza Seqati (Seghati), a married man and the director general of the Islamic Culture and Guidance ministry in the northern Gilan Province who has close ties with the hardliner Paydari Front, engaging in sex with a young man, apparently at a ministry guesthouse. 

IRAQ

  1. Tensions Rise between Sadr’s Supporters and Security Forces in Baghdad (Bas News). A volatile situation erupted in central Baghdad as supporters and militias affiliated with the Sadrist Movement clashed with federal government security forces. A significant number of militiamen from the Saraya al-Salam gathered in Tahrir Square, central Baghdad. Many of them have also been deployed in Sadr City, al-Baladiya neighborhood, New Baghdad, and other areas in the city, leading to heightened tensions.

LEBANON

  1. Le Drian Begins a New Mission in Beirut Concerning Presidential Vacancy (Al Nahar). The French President’s envoy to Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, started a new mission in Beirut, during which he intends to hold talks with prominent political forces as part of his country’s efforts to break the presidential deadlock that has been going on for nearly nine months.

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