THE EARLY PHOENIX – July 8-10, 2023

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Top Five Intercepts:


  1. Erdoğan Hosts Zelensky, Says Ukraine Deserves Membership in NATO (Hurriyet Daily News). Erdoğan stated that Ukraine should join the alliance once the war with Russia concludes. At an upcoming meeting, NATO leaders are expected to reaffirm Ukraine’s future membership. Erdoğan also mentioned that Turkiye is working to extend a grain deal with Ukraine, facilitating the shipment of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. He mentioned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Turkiye in August, where they may discuss the renewal of the grain deal and a possible prisoner swap. 
  2. Greece Ups Arms Purchase While Seeking Better Ties with Türkiye (Daily Sabah). Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis plans to increase Greece’s arms purchases while seeking to improve ties with Turkiye. Greece is expected to spend an additional 11.5 billion euros on arms over the next four years, including fighter jets, frigates, and other military equipment. The aim is to enhance Greece’s military capabilities, and these procurement plans come at a time when both countries are looking for ways to restore their strained relations. Greece is also seeking improved neighborly relations, working towards talks and collaboration on a positive agenda with Turkiye. Prime Minister Mitsotakis is expected to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania.
  3. Ukrainian Azov Commanders Return Home From Türkiye After Prisoner Exchange  (Daily Sabah). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the commanders of five Azov Battalions in Turkiye have returned to Ukraine for security reasons. These commanders were included in a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine. Zelensky expressed gratitude for Turkiye’s constant support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


  1. Israel and Iran Negotiating Prisoner Exchange Involving Kidnapped Academic (Jerusalem Post). Russia is mediating negotiations between Israel and Iran regarding a prisoner exchange deal according to Hebrew language media citing Arabic language international newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. The deal would secure the release of Israeli-Russian academic Elizabeth Tsurkov, who was kidnapped in Iraq, in exchange for the release of the Iranian prisoner Yusuf Shahabazi.
  2.  Israeli Gamers to Compete in Saudi Arabia under Israeli Flag (Jerusalem Post). Israeli video gamers arrived in Riyadh over the weekend to compete in the world championship of the FIFA electronic game. The three-member team, which is second in the world, flew to Saudi Arabia via the UAE and entered the country with their coach and manager on their Israeli passports, a rare occurrence. Per the FIFA World Cup’s rules, they will be allowed to display the Israeli flag with Hatikvah playing in the opening ceremony on July 16. Initial photos of the gamers in Riyadh show them wearing blue and white shirts that say Israel on them.
  3. Netanyahu’s Cabinet Adopts Resolution to Prevent Collapse of the Palestinian Authority (I24). The resolution, brought forward to the cabinet by the prime minister himself, was adopted by an 8-1 margin, with 1 minister abstaining from the vote. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to adopt a proposed resolution that would see Israel work to prevent the collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA). The resolution, brought forward to the cabinet by the prime minister himself, was adopted by an 8-1 margin, with 1 minister abstaining from the vote.
  4. Israel’s Jenin Operation Aggravates Fatah-Hamas Tensions (Jerusalem Post). Tensions between Fatah and Hamas have escalated following the expulsion of two senior Fatah officials from the funerals of Palestinians killed in the Israeli military operation in Jenin Refugee Camp. Fatah accused Hamas of being behind the humiliation and vowed to punish those responsible severely. The incident led to Fatah gunmen taking to the streets in the West Bank in a show of force. At the same time, Hamas claimed responsibility for recent terror attacks against Israelis to assert its active role. The growing tensions reflect deeper divisions between the rival factions and their respective ambitions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
  5. UN Chief Issues Rare Condemnation of Excessive Force by Israel in its Jenin Raid (Associated Press). UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued a rare condemnation of Israel, denouncing the country’s excessive use of force in its military operation targeting a refugee camp in the West Bank. Guterres expressed concern over the impact of the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp, which resulted in injuries to over 100 civilians, forced displacement, damage to infrastructure, and disruption of essential services. He criticized Israel for obstructing medical care for the injured and impeding the work of humanitarian workers. Guterres called on Israel to abide by international law, exercise restraint, and protect the civilian population as the occupying power.


  1. Sudan…Opportunities for a Peaceful Solution are Narrowing Amid Widespread Popular Rejection of the War (Sky News). Coinciding with reports about the Sudanese army’s rejection of an African formula that stipulates a direct meeting between the army commander Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, during the next few days, Analysts warned of running out of opportunities for a peaceful solution in the country.
  2. UN Secretary General Warns Sudan is on the Brink of an “All-Out Civil War” (Mustaqila). The United Nations has warned of Sudan reaching the brink of an all-out civil war that could destabilize the entire region. The UN warning came after an airstrike on Omdurman, a suburb west of Greater Khartoum, which resulted in at least 22 deaths and dozens of injuries. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Continuous clashes between armed forces have pushed Sudan to the brink of an all-out civil war that could destabilize the entire region,” his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.


  1. Egypt to Host Summit of Sudan’s Immediate Neighbors on Thursday (Sputnik Arabic). The Egyptian presidency announced Sunday that “Egypt will host the summit of Sudan’s neighboring countries next Thursday to discuss ways to end the current conflict and its negative repercussions on neighboring countries..Egypt’s hosting of the summit of Sudan’s neighboring countries comes within the framework of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s keenness to formulate a common vision for the countries of Sudan’s immediate neighborhood, to take steps to solve the crisis and spare the blood of the Sudanese people, spare them the negative effects they are exposed to, and preserve the Sudanese state and its capabilities.”
  2. Detention, Deportation, and Refusal to Grant Citizenship:  Türkiye Supports its Rapprochement with Egypt by Striking the Brotherhood (Al Hadath). Days after officially announcing the restoration of relations between Egypt and Turkiye and raising their diplomatic ties to the level of ambassadors, Turkiye imposed new restrictions on the activities of the Brotherhood and its members residing in Turkish territory.


  1. German Expectations of a Saudi Defeat in Aden (Al Khabar Al Yemeni). The German broadcaster “Deutsche Welle” reported that Saudi Arabia is currently seeking to increase its influence in Aden by forming a civil ruling council, but considered the move the beginning of new confrontations with the forces supported by the UAE, most notably the Transitional Council, which calls for the secession of southern Yemen. The channel expected the announcement of the new Adeni Council by the end of this month. It also considered the efforts to form the Council of Aden as part of a Saudi strategy to get out of Yemen, noting that the Saudi move may not be successful due to the inability of the Council of Aden to confront the transitional council or rise to a societal bloc, which may represent a defeat for Saudi Arabia, which seeks to compensate for the loss of its influence in northern Yemen.
  2. Türkiye Expects Imminent Gulf Investments of $10 Billion (Al Khaleej Online). Reuters said today, Friday, that Turkiye expects direct Gulf investments in local assets amounting to $10 billion, as part of an upcoming visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the region, within two weeks. The agency quoted two senior Turkish officials – it did not name them – that total investments of up to $30 billion are expected to be pumped over a more extended period in Turkiye’s energy, infrastructure, and defense sectors.
  3. UAE May Mediate an Agreement on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Al Khaleej Online). Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper quoted sources [saying] …that “there are new indications regarding the possibility of reaching a new agreement between Cairo and Addis Ababa, under Emirati auspices, that includes determining a share of the water” of the Nile to each side. In addition, “Among the recent indicators is Ethiopia’s reduction of the heights planned for the dam, allowing Egypt to obtain a larger amount of water.”
  4. Customs Thwarts Smuggling of 178,000 Captagon Pills Hidden in a Consignment of “Beehives” at Jedda Airport (Okaz). The Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah managed to thwart an attempt to smuggle (178,274) Captagon pills, which were found hidden in a consignment coming to Saudi Arabia through the airport. The authority stated that Saudi Arabia had received a consignment through King Abdulaziz Airport containing boxes containing “beehives.”
  5. Qatar Reportedly Brokered Meeting Between United States and Venezuela (Arabi 21). A report by the “Responsible Statecraft” magazine of the American “Quincy Institute for Responsible State Management” revealed that Qatar is a mediator between the United States and Venezuela. The magazine stated that Qatar held a secret meeting between Juan Gonzalez, US President Joe Biden’s advisor on Latin American affairs, and Jorge Rodriguez, the right-hand man of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro…the secret meeting hosted by Doha aims to establish a direct channel of communication between the two countries in the future and to explore ways to remove the tension between Washington and Caracas against the backdrop of sanctions imposed by the administration of former US President Donald Trump on Caracas, after accusing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of undermining democracy.​
  6. Russian and GCC Ministers to Meet in Moscow on Monday to Strengthen Relations (Al Araby). On Monday in Moscow, the sixth joint ministerial meeting of the strategic dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council and Russia will be held, which seeks to strengthen relations between the two sides. The Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Jassim Al-Budaiwi, said: “The meeting seeks to strengthen relations between the two sides in a way that serves common interests.” During the meeting, topics on the agenda will be discussed, aimed at increasing cooperation on the one hand and providing an opportunity for exchanging views on several regional and international files on the other hand.
  7. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to “Accelerate Business” in Dorra Field (CNN). The Kuwaiti Ministry of Oil announced on Sunday that the Kuwaiti-Saudi permanent joint committee “discussed accelerating the pace of work and achievements in oil projects related to the onshore divided zone and the offshore divided zone adjacent to it,” according to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). The Undersecretary of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Oil, Sheikh Nimr Fahd Al-Malik Al-Sabah, said, in a statement, that “the meeting of the joint committee comes at a significant time, to follow up and evaluate work in the joint operations area, including Al-Wafra and Al-Khafji.”


  1. Cornered Over Drones For Russia, Iran Says Holding Talks With Europe (Iran International). Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abollahian, has stated that talks have begun with Germany, France, and England to overcome “misunderstandings” and promote better interaction and cooperation. These discussions come as Europe intends to maintain sanctions on Iran over its missile programs. The misunderstandings primarily revolve around the implementation of UN resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal. The European parties argue that Iran has violated the agreement, particularly with its ballistic missile program and arms supply to Russia during the conflict in Ukraine. 
  2. Iran-Linked Hackers Target Nuclear Security Experts (Iran International). A state-sponsored Iranian hacker group, Charming Kitten or TA453, has targeted a nuclear security expert at a US think tank. This group, linked to the IRGC, has previously targeted high-value accounts in various sectors. In their recent operation, they utilized a benign email to establish contact. Then they sent a follow-up email containing a malicious macro that directed the target to a Dropbox URL. The group’s use of different techniques and cloud platforms reflects their effort to evade detection. This incident is part of a broader trend of Iranian hackers targeting critical infrastructure and engaging in cyber campaigns to influence events like the 2020 US presidential election.


  1. International Court of Justice Schedules First Hearing of Case Against Syrian Regime (Enab Baladi). The International Court of Justice has set a date for its first hearing in the case filed against the Syrian regime, which focuses on charges of torture against Syrians. The court stated that the first hearing session will be held on July 19 and broadcast on the official website of the United Nations. The court also clarified that the session comes in response to a request to refer to “emergency measures”, which Canada and the Netherlands submitted earlier to the court.
  2. Syrian Regime Attends Discussion of the International Coalition to Confront the Drug Threat (Enab Baladi). The Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, touched on the issue of drug smuggling from Syria to Jordan, during his intervention at the ministerial meeting of the International Coalition to Confront the Threat of Industrial Drugs, on Friday, July 7. Al-Safadi said that Jordan is taking all necessary steps to combat drug smuggling across the Syrian border into its territory and is doing everything necessary to protect its national security from this escalating danger. 
  3. Jordan Says Drug Smuggling from Syria Continues, and Jordan Confiscated 65 Million Captagon Pills in Two Years (Syria TV). On Friday evening, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that attempts to smuggle drugs from the Syrian border are still ongoing and repeated, as his country has managed to confiscate more than 65 million Captagon pills over the past two years. This came during Safadi’s intervention via visual communication technology at the ministerial meeting of the International Coalition to Confront the Threat of Industrial Drugs, which was hosted by the United States in the presence of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, according to the Jordan News Agency (Petra).
  4. Syrian Regime Cancels BBC’s Accreditation After BBC Captagon Investigation (Syria TV). The Syrian regime revoked the accreditation of the British Broadcasting Corporation in its areas of control on Saturday, days after it produced an investigative report revealing the Assad family’s relationship with the Captagon trade. The Ministry of Information of the Syrian government said, “Since the beginning of the terrorist war against Syria, the BBC has deliberately provided, from time to time, subjective and false information and reports on the Syrian reality…Despite the channel being warned more than once, it continued to broadcast its misleading reports based on statements and testimonies from terrorist and anti-Syrian parties.”
  5. Former Syrian Ambassador to Ankara: Assad will only Meet Erdogan if the Occupation Army Withdraws (Ronahi TV). The former Syrian ambassador to Ankara, Nidal Qabalan, confirmed that Bashar al-Assad would not meet with the leader of Turkish fascism, Erdogan, unless the primary conditions of the Damascus government are agreed upon. In an interview with Russian media, he indicated that the primary condition is withdrawal from the lands it occupies in the north and northwest of Syria, considering this a non-negotiable condition. He noted that it is only possible to talk about severe breakthroughs for the path of reconciliation if it is accompanied by practical steps and Russian and Iranian guarantees of the occupation’s commitment to the demands of the Damascus government.
  6. US Military Announces Killing of an ISIS Leader in Syria (Al Nahar). A statement issued by the US Central Command on Sunday announced a strike on the seventh of July that killed a leader in the “ISIS” organization in eastern Syria, named Abu Osama Al-Muhajir. The statement said, quoting General Michael Kurilla, commander of the Central Command, that the United States has made it clear that “it remains committed to defeating ISIS in the region … the organization remains a threat not only in the region but also goes beyond it…The strike was carried out on Friday by the same MQ-9 drones that were harassed earlier in the day by Russian fighters in a confrontation that lasted about two hours,” the statement added.


  1. Despite Baghdad’s Objections, Iran Forces Iraq to Accept “Arbaeen” Passports (Elaph). Despite Iraq’s refusal to deal with an Iranian passport for the entry of Iranians into Iraqi territory to participate in the Arbaeen of Imam Hussein, Baghdad has been forced to accept it officially, as its interior minister revealed Sunday. Ahmed Wahidi confirmed that the Iraqi government agreed to issue his country passports for the fortieth visit of Imam Hussein in Karbala, which falls on the sixth of September, and its ceremonies take place in the Iraqi city of Karbala, with the participation of about two million Iranians every year.
  2. Parliament Calls to Sever Economic and Trade Relations With Iran and Turkiye Due to their Cutting off Water from Iraq (Iraq News). On Saturday, Member of Parliament Zainab al-Moussawi called for fighting Iran and Turkiye with economic weapons after the marshes of the southern governorates dried up. Al-Moussawi said in a statement, “The complete drought of the Hawizeh marsh in the Maysan governorate, and the almost complete dryness of the Chabayish marsh in the Dhi Qar governorate, is a severe warning of the water situation in the country, specifically the cities of southern Iraq.
  3. Iraq Opens Probe Into Israeli Academic Kidnapping (Iraq News). A government spokesman said Iraq had opened an investigation into the suspected kidnapping of an Israeli-Russian academic after her disappearance in Baghdad. Elizabeth Tsurkov, a doctoral student at Princeton University and fellow at the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, has been missing in Iraq for over three months. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday accused Iraq’s Kataeb Hezbollah of holding her. Still, the pro-Iran armed faction has implied it was not involved in her disappearance.


  1. Around 30 Lebanese Soldiers, Hezbollah Members Crossed Briefly Into Israeli Territory (Times of Israel). Around 30 Lebanese soldiers and some Hezbollah members briefly crossed into Israeli territory last week before returning to Lebanon. Most of the armed groups spent approximately 20 minutes on the Israeli side of the border without breaching the border fence. The incident occurred amid tensions over increased Hezbollah activity along the border, including establishing tents inside Israeli territory and firing an anti-tank missile from Lebanon. The IDF asked the UN peacekeeping force on the Lebanon-Israel border to address the matter.

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