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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 10-12, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

 IRAN

  1. Iran Ex-Security Chief Received $3.5 Million Per Year from IRGC-Backed Drug Lord (Iran International). Iran International has obtained information about links between Iran’s former security chief Ali Shamkhani and a top drug lord, Naji Sharifi-Zindashti. According to an Iran International source, Shamkhani received about $3.5 million in bribes yearly from Zindashti, in addition to the narcotics drug baron personally providing for the secretary of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council.
  2. Khamenei Says Iran’s Nuclear Infrastructure Cannot Be Negotiated (Iran International). A deal with the West can be accepted if it does not impact Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, Islamic Republic’s 84-year-old authoritarian ruler Ali Khamenei said Sunday. Khamenei, who was addressing a group of Iranian nuclear scientists and officials,”n Tehran, also claimed that Iran will not opt for nuclear weapons simply because of Islamic principles, “otherwise, they could not have prevented us.”
  3. Iran’s Raisi Travels to Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela in Anti-U.S. Blitz (Real Clear Defense). Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi will depart on Sunday for a Latin America tour to bolster relations with “like-minded and friendly states.” Accompanied by a delegation, Raisi is scheduled to sign multiple political, trade, industrial and scientific agreements with Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
  4. Iran is Helping Russia Build a Drone Factory, the White House Says (The National). Iran is providing Russia with materials to build a drone manufacturing plant east of Moscow…In a telephone call, French President Macron underlined “the serious security and humanitarian consequences of Iran’s drone deliveries and urged Tehran to immediately end the support it thus gives to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.” 
  5. Despite the Denials, Indirect Negotiations between Washington and Tehran (Al Arabiya). While an Iranian parliamentarian hinted at secret negotiations between Tehran and Washington in New York, three informed sources revealed that US and Iranian officials held indirect talks in Oman last month…In addition, the sources said that the indirect exchange of messages between the Biden administration and Iran aims to reach an “understanding” of ways to calm the Iranian nuclear program, Iran’s behavior in the region, and its involvement in the war in Ukraine. 

SYRIA

  1. SDF to Begin Trials Against ISIS in Northern Syria (Al Arabiya). In response to the international community’s failure to meet its demands to return ISIS members to their countries of origin or to establish an international tribunal to hold them accountable, the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria decided to start trying foreign extremists who have been in its prisons for years…According to information obtained by Al-Arabiya.net, the first trials will take place in the Syrian city of Kobani, known as “Ayn al-Arab”, located in the north of the country on the border with Turkey.
  2. Iranian Revolutionary Guard Transports Military Equipment from Damascus Airport (Zaman Al Wasel). The “Iranian Revolutionary Guard” militia transported weapons, ammunition, and military equipment from Damascus International Airport toward the western countryside of  Damascus. A private source told the “Zaman Al-Wasl” website that the militia transported two medium-sized trucks loaded with heavy weapons, ammunition, and various military equipment to the “Al-Mana” mountain area near the city of “Al-Kiswah.”
  3. Türkiye Announces Killing Of Four YPG Members North of Aleppo (Enab Baladi). The Turkish Ministry of Defense said that its forces managed to “neutralize” four members of the “Kurdistan Workers’ Party” (PKK) and the “People’s Protection Units” (PYD) in northern Syria…According to what was stated in a circular issued by the Ministry, the Turkish army managed to “neutralize” four members of the Kurdish parties classified on the “terror lists” after they “harassed” the area of Turkish operations that bears the name “Olive Branch” north of Aleppo…Turkey uses the term “neutralization,” which is about the arrest or killing of members of groups on its “terror lists.”
  4. Manaf Tlass Proposes a Transitional Phase in Syria: Collecting Weapons, And a Political Solution (Enab Baladi). Dissident Brigadier General Manaf Tlass proposed a transitional phase in Syria that includes gathering weapons and maintaining civil peace to reach a political solution, pointing out that the “Military Council” project is part of the Syrian civil and democratic approach.
  5. Deadly Clashes Between Military Police and Drug Dealers East of Aleppo (Zaman Al Wasel). Members of the “Military Police” of the “Syrian National Army” were killed and injured on Saturday/Sunday night as a result of violent clashes that erupted with drug smugglers and dealers in the “Euphrates Shield” area in the countryside of Aleppo Governorate, northern Syria.

TURKIYE

  1. UAE, Türkiye Seek To Take their Non-Oil Trade Volume to $40 Billion Annually (Anadolu Agency). The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement aims to “achieve mutual benefits for both countries and stimulate long-term, sustainable, and comprehensive economic growth by eliminating or reducing customs duties on 82 percent of goods and products, representing more than 93 percent of non-oil trade,”…The agreement also “improves market access to Türkiye for exporters from the UAE, including major sectors such as construction, metals and their products, polymers, and other manufactured products,” explained the Emirati Economy Minister Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri. 
  2. Champions League Final Brings Global Record to Istanbul Airport (Daily Sabah). Istanbul Airport broke a world air traffic record Saturday with 1,594 take-offs and landings, thanks to the UEFA Champions League final, according to Türkiye’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation…Istanbul Airport can handle 90 million passengers a year in the current phase, which is nothing compared to its potential capacity of serving 200 million after completing all stages, making it the world’s largest.
  3. Türkiye Elected to United Nations Economic and Social Council (Daily Sabah). Türkiye became a member of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the six organs of the global body coordinating the organization’s economic and social fields.
  4. TANAP to Increase Gas Carrying Capacity to Türkiye, Europe (Daily Sabah). The capacity of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) that carries natural gas from Azerbaijan to Türkiye and further on to Europe was increased, contributing to the energy partnership between Ankara and Baku while putting Türkiye in a hub position, a high-level Azerbaijani official said…22.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas are expected to be exported this year via the pipeline, with 10.2 bcm destined for Türkiye and 12 bcm for Europe.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Germany Advancing Planned Purchase of Israel’s Arrow 3 for $4.3 Billion (Times of Israel). German lawmakers will be asked to release advance payments of up to 560 million euros ($600 million) next week to secure a government-to-government deal with Israel of the Arrow 3 system at the end of the year. The Arrow 3 is Israel’s most advanced long-range missile defense system. It is meant to intercept ballistic missiles while they are still outside the atmosphere, taking out projectiles and their nuclear, biological, chemical, or conventional warheads closer to their launch sites.
  2. IDF Soldiers Thwart Drug Smuggling Attempt at Egyptian Border, Two Arrested (Jerusalem Post). According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, an IDF soldier intercepted a group of drug smugglers at the Israeli-Egyptian border and arrested two suspects on Friday. The drugs had a total street value of approximately NIS 5 million (roughly USD 1,390,000), including a bag that contained 21 kg of marijuana with a street value of NIS 2.35 million (approximately USD 654,000) and 26 kilograms of a drug believed to be hashish, worth a further NIS 2.35 million. 

IRAQ

  1. US Issues License Allowing Iraq To Pay $2.7B Energy Debt To Iran (Iran International). A senior Iraqi official has confirmed that his country has acquired a sanctions waiver from the US to pay $2.7 billion of its debt for gas and electricity to Iran…Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein was given the clearance during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday’s sidelines of the Riyadh Conference.
  2. Al-Sudani to the Popular Mobilization Militia: You are Imam Al-Mahdi’s Soldiers, and the State’s Treasury is Under Your Command (Al Iraq News). Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani visited the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) headquarters on Saturday. According to a statement by the Popular Mobilization Authority, the PM…assured them that they were the soldiers of Imam al-Mahdi and that the state treasury and its institutions were under their command. The PMF desired orders from the Commander-in-Chief.
  3. Iraq-GCC Launch Electrical Grid Interconnection Project (Iraqi News). A special occasion to commemorate the beginning of the electrical connectivity project between Iraq and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council took place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. UAE President Discusses Strengthening Strategic Relations with Türkiye (Al Khaleej Online). Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed discussed with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “strengthening strategic relations between the two countries” after he arrived in Istanbul…it is indicated that the Turkish President, the new Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, and several officials received him.
  2. Saudi-American Air Maneuvers with the Participation of the B1 Bomber (Al Khaleej Online). The Saudi Ministry of Defense announced a military exercise with the US Air Force, with the participation of an American bomber that used its live ammunition…It indicated that the F-15SE fighter system of the Saudi Air Force and the American B-1 Lancer strategic bomber participated in the military exercise… During the joint exercise, the two sides used live ammunition to destroy simulated targets in the firing range, according to the statement.
  3. Saudi-Funded LIV Golf Merger with PGA Tour Changes US Sports Landscape (Al Monitor). The merger between the Saudi-funded LIV Golf and the PGA Tour this week was a historical event, demonstrating the kingdom’s entry into the US sports market and the success of its diversification efforts, despite persistent criticism.
  4. Secretary Antony J. Blinken Meets Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council President Rashad al-Alimi (Youm7). US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken emphasized the critical role of the Presidential Leadership Council and the need for unity at this crucial time…On Thursday, Blinken met with the head of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad Al-Alimi, in Riyadh to discuss the two countries’ joint commitment to resolving the Yemeni conflict and alleviating the country’s humanitarian and economic crises.
  5. Yemeni Government:  Houthi Economic War Threatens to Blow Up All Chances for Peace (Al Masdar Online). Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik warned the international community and the United Nations of the dangers of the economic war waged by the Houthi militia on the national economy, calling for urgent action to support the efforts of the Presidential Leadership Council, the government, and the Saudi-led Legitimacy Support Coalition to deter this war.
  6. Disguised inside Medicine Cartons…Seizing Communication Devices that Control Drones in Aden, Smuggled to the Houthis (Mareb Press). The security services in the interim capital, Aden, seized a modern communication device used to control drones, which was on its way to the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militia. According to the media center of the security belt forces, the communication devices were seized inside a truck loaded with medicines in the Mansoura district. 

EGYPT AND NORTH AFRICA 

  1. Kais Said: Tunisia Will Not Be a Border Guard for Europe (Al Arabiya). Tunisian President Kais Saied said that Tunisia would not accept becoming a border guard for other countries before a planned visit by European leaders worried about the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean….”The solution will not be at the expense of Tunisia… We cannot play the role that some reveal, and others hide; we cannot be guards for their countries,” Said said during his visit to the coastal city of Sfax, the main departure point for migrants seeking to reach Italy by boat…On Friday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that she, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would offer help during a Sunday visit to Tunisia, which is facing a public financial crisis. 
  2. Egypt: Jurists Criticize the Expansion of Prison Construction (New Arab). The Egyptian Minister of Interior, Major General Mahmoud Tawfiq, issued Resolution No. 1042 of 2023,—Which stipulates the establishment of 6 new prisons in the 15th of May City in Cairo Governorate, under the name of “public correction and rehabilitation centers” in which freedom-restricting sentences are implemented.
  3. Libya:  External Pressure to Pass the Laws of the 6 + 6 Committee–but an Internal Division Looms (Al Nahar). Disagreements have renewed between the Libyan parties regarding the laws regulating the Libyan electoral entitlements, placing the fate of the political process once again in the unknown, on the brink of collapse, amid intense international efforts to bridge the rift and re-advance the elections and the political solution.
  4. Will Israel Recognize Morocco’s Sovereignty over Western Sahara? (Al Monitor). On Thursday, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana called on the government to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, indicating a possible shift in Israel policy. Experts, however, warn that the problem is complicated and may backfire. 
  5. Chinese Panda Bonds Present Opportunity for Cash-strapped Egypt (Al Monitor). In the last couple of years, financial news about Egypt has mainly focused on the country’s economic crisis, mounting debt, and subsequent IMF bailout. However, there was some more positive news in May:  the African Development Bank approved a Partial Credit Guarantee (PCG) equivalent to $345 million in renminbi as Egypt accessed the Panda bond market for the first time to finance green and social development projects.
  6. UN Voices Support for Sudan Envoy Declared Persona Non-Grata (New Arab). The United Nations on Friday expressed support for its envoy to Sudan, saying a decision by local authorities to declare Volker Perthes “persona non grata” was a violation of international law.

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