THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 28, 2023

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  1. Palestinian Teen Fatally Shot During Israeli Minister’s Visit to Al Aqsa Compound (Daily Sabah). The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed that 14-year-old Fares Sharhabil Abu Samra was killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank town of Qalqilya. The visit of Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av has garnered significant attention and criticism. The US, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia rebuked the visit…Hebrew-language media reports indicate that around 1,000 pilgrims had visited the site by 10 a.m., surpassing the number of Jewish visitors on previous Tisha B’Av observances. Last week, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef accused Ben Gvir of “sinning and causing others to sin” with his visit to the Temple Mount. The visit continues to evoke strong reactions from various parties, reflecting the sensitive and deeply contested nature of the site. Arabic media reported that Israeli police blocked hundreds of Palestinians from accessing the site, while simultaneously allowing over 2,100 Jewish settlers to enter.


  1. Libyan Developments in the Region Continue to Escalate (Libya Akhbar). The recent arrival of a delegation from the Italian Ministry of Interior in Tripoli for a joint security meeting signals growing international engagement in addressing the security challenges in the country. On another front, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan Arab Armed Forces, has made significant moves by establishing a new administration under his leadership. The creation of the Department of Information and Mobilization, based in Benghazi, indicates Haftar’s efforts to consolidate control and streamline communication within his ranks. Moreover, the recent meeting between Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan is significant in addressing various issues between Libya and Turkiye. 
  2. Egypt Explores Military Source Diversification with Russia (Pressbe). According to Muhammad al-Ghubari, the former director of the National Defense College and advisor at the Nasser Military Academy in Egypt, there is a notable shift in Egypt’s military procurement strategy. In exclusive statements to RT, he revealed that Egypt is no longer acquiring helicopters from the United States of America, as it did in the past. Instead, the focus has shifted to relying on the maintenance of Apache helicopters, which is carried out in the United States. This change signals Egypt’s efforts to diversify its military sources and explore new avenues of cooperation with other countries, including Russia.


  1.  Kuwait to Commence Dorra Field Exploration Amid Border Demarcation Delay (Sky News). Kuwaiti Oil Minister Saad Al-Barrak stated that Kuwait plans to commence exploration and production activities in the Dorra gas field without waiting for the border demarcation with Iran. Al-Barrak had previously asserted Kuwait and Saudi Arabia’s “exclusive right” to the Dorra gas field in the Gulf and urged Iran to initiate the demarcation of its maritime borders to validate its claims in the area. 
  2. Kuwaiti Authorities Foil Smuggling of One Million Captagon Pills  (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The attempt was made by three accomplices of Arab nationality, who aimed to bring the illegal drugs into the country through the Shuwaikh port, cleverly concealed within a container carrying cement building materials. The Ministry’s statement explained that the operation was in cooperation with the State of Qatar.
  3.  Yemen’s Coffee Culture Flourishes Amid Conflict (Daily Sabah). In the midst of Yemen’s war-torn capital, among the damaged buildings and memorials to fallen fighters, an unexpected consequence of the conflict is spreading – a rise in specialty coffee houses that serve top-rated pour-over coffee. In southern Sanaa’s Hadda neighborhood, Hussein Ahmed made a similar gamble in 2018, opening his Mocha Hunters cafe on a street dotted with million-dollar villas. Sales abroad have been boosted further by Yemeni diaspora communities wracked with nostalgia for their homeland but reluctant to return because of the fighting, Ahmed said.


  1. Defense Industry Exports Expected to Reach $500 Million by the End of 2023 (Anadolu Agency). The four-day International Defense Industry Fair in Istanbul garnered substantial interest from foreign delegations. The chairman of Turkish drone maker Baykar stated that the country now possesses a wide range of ammunition families, air defense tools, and combat systems. Turkish missile producer Roketsan’s CEO, Murat Ikinci, announced that Roketsan anticipates reaching $500 million in exports by the end of 2023.
  2. Renewable Energy Aims to Dominate Electricity Generation by 2024 (Daily Sabah). The share of renewables in global electricity generation stood at 22% in 2014 and is now projected to reach over 33% in 2024, indicating a 50% growth during this period. According to the IEA’s forecast, the global energy investment is expected to be approximately $2.8 trillion this year. Over $1.7 trillion will be allocated to clean energy, encompassing renewable power, nuclear, grids, storage, low-emission fuels, efficiency improvements, and electrification.


  1. Iran’s Government Borrows Heavily from Banks, Causing Job Losses Amid Economic Crisis (Iran International). A report from Aftab News, linked to reformists, reveals that Iran’s government borrowed about $12 billion from four central quasi-private banks in just three months until June 21. To secure the funds, the government instructed the banks to reduce lending to the private sector, resulting in the loss of 500,000 jobs during an already severe economic crisis. Bank Mellat alone provided over $8 billion to cover the government’s operating expenses and support unprofitable public and semi-public companies managed by political appointees and well-connected insiders.
  2. Iran Provides “New Details” to IAEA on Suspicious Sites to Address Concerns (Bayan Media). The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization presented “new details” to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concerning two suspicious sites, likely referring to Torquzabad and Varamin. Iran’s objective is to address the agency’s concerns and prevent the extension of international restrictions on its missile program.


  1. Six Killed and 20 Injured in Bomb Explosion Near Damascus During Ashura Commemoration (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Amid the mourning councils observed during the commemoration of Ashura, a tragic incident occurred in the Sayyidah Zeinab area, south of Damascus. An explosive device detonated near a security headquarters, resulting in six fatalities and over twenty others sustaining injuries. The explosion took place in close proximity to the shrine of Sayyida Zainab, situated approximately 600 meters away.
  2. SDF Members Killed and Wounded in Turkish Drone Strike Near Qamishli (Syria TV). A Turkish drone targeted a group of “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) east of Qamishli, resulting in casualties. According to a local source, the attack led to the death of three SDF members, including a commander, and left four others injured, including two women. The strike hit two military vehicles traveling between the villages of Tal Maarouf and Khazneh. Ambulances subsequently transported the deceased and wounded to a military hospital in Qamishli.


  1. Iraq Arrests Suspect in 2014 IS Massacre of 1,700 Captive Cadets (Iraqi News). Authorities in Iraq have apprehended a suspect linked to one of the most heinous war crimes committed by the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014. The massacre involved up to 1,700 captive cadets at the air force academy in Camp Speicher. During the atrocity, IS militants targeted Shiite and Christian cadets among the group, systematically executing them one by one. The victims’ bodies were then disposed of in mass graves or the nearby Tigris River. The suspect, identified as Abdelkhalek Khazaal Soltan, was arrested through a joint operation conducted by the federal intelligence services and counter-terrorism police in Sulaimaniyah, the second-largest city in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region.


  1.  French Envoy Proposes Meeting in Lebanon for Consensus on Presidential Election Priorities (Al Nahar). Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French envoy to Lebanon, has proposed a meeting in September for the parties involved in the process of electing the President of the Republic. The aim is to reach a consensus on key issues and priorities that the future president must address, along with the necessary strategies to tackle them effectively. Opposition deputies are carefully evaluating the envoy’s approach. They are currently preparing a detailed and joint response, driven by their commitment to addressing the matter seriously and with precision.


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