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THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 7, 2023

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Top Five Intercepts:

TURKIYE 

  1. Zelensky to Meet Erdoğan in Istanbul (Hurriyet Daily News). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul to discuss the ongoing Russian occupation of Ukraine and its implications just before the NATO summit. Zelensky will seek Turkiye’s support in obtaining security assurances from NATO, pushing for heavier weaponry and jet fighters to counter Russia, as well as address the ongoing grain initiative and Türkiye’s efforts to extend it through talks with Russia, Ukraine, and the United Nations. 
  2. Ankara and Athens to Resume Confidence-Building Talks (Hurriyet Daily News). Ankara and Athens have agreed to resume confidence-building talks, according to a phone call between Defense Minister Yaşar Güler and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias. The ministers agreed to meet during the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius to discuss the matter…Recent gestures, including mutual assistance after natural disasters and a tragic train crash, improved relations. In another development, the Greek police cleared the Lavrion Camp near Athens, which had been a source of contention as it was known to house members of the PKK terrorist organization.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. IDF Strikes Lebanon after Anti-tank Missile Hits Near Border Town (Jerusalem Post). The IDF struck sites in Lebanon after an anti-tank missile was fired from Lebanon toward the village of Ghajar, which is split by the Blue Line with half in Israel and half in Lebanon, on Thursday, amid heightened tensions along the northern border in recent weeks…The IDF is still unsure whether Hezbollah fired the missile or a Palestinian group or some other actor and is investigating the issue.
  2. Tel Aviv Police Chief Quits, Citing Government Meddling Against Protesters (Reuters). Tel Aviv’s police commander, Ami Eshed, announced his resignation, citing political intervention from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet members who advocated for excessive force against anti-government protesters. Eshed did not name National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who had demanded strict action against the demonstrators. Following Eshed’s announcement, protesters marched through Tel Aviv, blocking a main highway and facing off with police. Eshed expressed his inability to meet the expectations of the ministerial echelon, which interfered with professional decision-making.

Egypt & North Africa

  1. Foreign Ministers of Iran and Sudan Meet for First Time in Seven Years (Al Arabiya). The Iranian news agency “IRNA” reported on Thursday that Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Sadiq Ali for the first time since diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed seven years ago. “In this meeting, the talks aimed at resolving misunderstandings between the two countries and strengthening political and economic relations between Tehran and Khartoum,” the agency said about the meeting held in the Azeri capital, Baku.
  2. Haftar Threatens Military Action if Oil Wealth is Not Redistributed by End of August (Libya Akhbar). On Monday, the commander of the “General Command” forces, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, announced a deadline, no later than the end of next August, for the equitable distribution of oil wealth in Libya, according to the French Press Agency. Oil revenues, Libya’s main source of income, are managed by the National Oil Corporation and the Central Bank of Libya from the capital, Tripoli, where Abdul Hamid Dabaiba’s government is based.

GULF REGION & YEMEN 

  1. A Kuwaiti-Iranian Meeting in Baku as Dispute Over “Durra” Field Continues (Al Khaleej Online). Kuwait and Iran stressed the necessity of continuing dialogue between the two countries and supporting all efforts to enhance regional security and stability amid differences between the two countries over the Durra gas and oil field located in the Gulf waters and [after] Kuwaiti’s confirmation of the continued development of the field in partnership with Saudi Arabia. The statement issued by the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry said that Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah met on Wednesday with his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir Abdullahi, on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Baku.
  2. Houthis Admit Executing 16 and Burying Bodies in Mass Grave (Arab News). The bodies of 16 people thought to have been abducted and executed by the Iran-backed Houthis more than a decade ago have been recovered in the northern Yemeni province of Amran. Human rights groups, media reports, and officials said the bodies were found at a mass grave in a cave in the Harf Sufyan District used by the militia group in 2010 to bury its victims. The Houthis recently admitted to kidnapping 16 people, including tribal leaders, from their homes in Amran, accusing them of fighting with Yemen’s armed forces, then executing them and burying their bodies in a cave. The group later revealed the burial site to relatives.
  3. Iraq and Kuwait Agree on Mechanism for Investing in their Joint Oil Fields (Elaph). Iraq and Kuwait agreed to cooperate in setting up mechanisms for investing in their oil fields on their borders of 6 fields. The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “The Iraqi-Kuwaiti joint committee held its work in Kuwait on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss the memorandum of understanding on joint oil fields between the two countries.”
  4. Abu Dhabi and Washington Discuss Regional Issues and Cooperation in UN Security Council (Al Khaleej Online). On Wednesday, Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed discussed with his US counterpart Anthony Blinken the relations between the two countries, in addition to several issues and cooperation in the UN Security Council, where Abu Dhabi currently has a non-permanent seat. 
  5. UAE to Provide $15 Million to Rehabilitate West Bank City of Jenin (Gulf Today). Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, discussed with Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)…that the UAE decided, based on the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, to provide $15 million to support the agency’s operations and services and to provide urgent aid to Palestinian families. The aid also aims to rehabilitate the city of Jenin and its refugee camp, which has recently been subjected to Israeli attacks, causing repercussions for thousands of citizens.

IRAN

  1. Iran Says it Had Court Order to Seize Chevron Tanker in Gulf Waters (Arab News). Iran said it had a court order to seize a tanker in Gulf waters a day after it collided with an Iranian vessel…[The vessel was] one of two tankers the US Navy said it had prevented Iran from commandeering. The Richmond Voyager, a Bahamas-flagged oil tanker, had collided with an Iranian vessel, and the Iranian navy had a court order to seize it, the Maritime Search and Rescue Center of Iran’s Hormozgan Province told the official IRINN news agency. The US Navy said it sent the guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul to respond to a distress call from the Richmond Voyager off the coast of Oman in international waters. It said Iranian authorities had asked the tanker to stop and had fired shots, but the Iranian navy vessel departed when McFaul arrived.
  2. Mike Pence and Liz Truss Among VIPs to Speak at MEK Rally, Despite Pressure from Tehran (The Independent). Thousands of Iranian dissidents crowded the streets of a Paris neighborhood on Saturday. At the same time, Western opponents of the government in Tehran gathered for a politically star-studded event aimed at poking a finger in the eye of the Ayatollah’s supporters. NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi had sharp words for the State Department, saying: “As for the advocates of appeasement within the US State Department, who concurrently backed the tragedy in [Albania], it is enough to note that the mullahs waved their turbans and lavished them with commendations,” she insisted. In attendance were former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss, albeit remotely, 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence, former Sen Joseph Lieberman, ex-House of Commons speaker John Bercow, Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton and a dozen sitting members of the US Congress from both parties. 
  3. $40 Billion Worth of Oil Deals Inked in 20 Months: Iran’s Oil Minister (Tasnim News Agency) Iran’s oil minister said the country has signed $40 billion worth of oil contracts with domestic and foreign companies over the past 20 months. Addressing Wednesday’s second ministerial session of the 8th OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) International Seminar, Javad Owji said Iran’s oil industry plans to attract $250 billion worth of capital within the next eight years.The seminar, entitled “Investments, Finance and Inclusive Petroleum Growth Strategies,” was held in the Austrian capital of Vienna. 
  4. Iraq Will Accelerate Release of Iranian Funds: Iran’s Finance Minister (Tasnim News Agency). Iran’s Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Seyed Ehsan Khandouzi told Iran’s official IRNA news agency on Wednesday that Iraqi officials had promised that the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) will soon have access to more than $10 billion worth of Iranian funds in Iraq. A senior Iranian businessman familiar with the issue stated on Wednesday that Iraq had made payments in the Iraqi dinar into two TBI accounts controlled by Iran’s state gas and electricity companies to settle a bulk of its debts to Iran.
  5. Russian Political Scientist Embraces Islamic Banking in Russia  (IRNA). Alexander Dugin, a senior advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, stated on Wednesday that Moscow would soon embrace Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Islamic economic vision as it is based on the  “principles of sovereignty, independence, and multilateralism.” “Islamic banking (IB) in Russia is a great idea, sovereign and multipolar, highly patriotic. Usury is an absolute evil,” Dugin commented on Twitter. 

SYRIA

  1. US Drone Monitors Russian-Syrian Military Exercises East of Aleppo (Enab Baladi). The Russian-Syrian forces continued their joint military exercises east of Aleppo for the second day. At the same time, an American drone was monitored flying over the area, pictures of which were published by news accounts run by soldiers of the Syrian regime forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Thursday that the Russian-Syrian Air Force “will conduct exercises to solve issues of controlling airspace in Syria and to examine the efficiency of its air defense system,” without referring to the flight of an American plane in the training area.
  2. ISIS Raises its Flag in a Demonstration in Deir Ezzor. “SDF” is Mobilizing (Enab Baladi). Members of the “Islamic State” appeared for the second day in a row in the city of al-Basira, east of Deir ez-Zor, taking advantage of a protest by the people of the city against the burning of a copy of the Holy Qur’an in Sweden. Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Deir ez-Zor reported that on Thursday, the organization’s members raised a flag bearing the organization’s logo in the town of al-Izba, northeastern Deir ez-Zor…after they raised it on Wednesday during the same protests in the city of al-Basira.

IRAQ

  1. Al-Sudani Pumps New Blood into Security Establishment in Iraq (Elaph). About nine months after taking office, the Iraqi prime minister issued an order to make drastic changes in the positions of senior officials in the National Security and Intelligence Services…The spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Major General Yahya Rasool, said that it came under the government program related to administrative reform of security institutions and aimed to pump new blood into the security sector and then raise the efficiency of the security system…Among the most prominent of the names mentioned in the changes is Abu Ali Al-Basri, who became head of the National Security Agency.

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