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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 14, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Saudi Arabia and Assad Regime Agree to Resume Economic Cooperation (Syria TV). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the ASSad regime announced the resumption of economic, commercial, and investment cooperation and financial activities, in conjunction with Arab normalization with the Syrian government…This came after talks conducted by the President of the Federation of Saudi Chambers of Commerce, Hassan bin Mojib Al-Huwaizi, with the President of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce, Muhammad Abu Al-Huda Al-Lahham, on the sidelines of the Arab-Chinese conference that was held in Riyadh on Monday.
  2. Houthis Give China Oil Fields and Gas Facility in Yemen (Al Khabar Al Yemeni). Sources at the Ministry of Oil in Aden reported that the meeting that brought together Maeen Abdul-Malik with the Chinese ambassador was to put the final touches on an agreement that gives China the right to operate oil and gas fields in Maeen’s control areas…The sources confirmed that the ministry and a Chinese company had signed an agreement a few weeks ago, according to which the Chinese company would assume the tasks of operating oil and gas fields, including the Belhaf facility.
  3. UN Says Unloading of Derelict Oil Tanker off Yemeni Coast Has Begun (Al Masdar Online). The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Yemen, David Gresley, said that unloading the Safer tanker is moving forward. However, the full completion of the project still requires $28 million…Gresley indicated that the United Nations could raise $115 million, and there is still a lack of funding. He said that implementation has begun and teams have been able to reach and inspect the tanker, and the team is approaching the point of transferring oil to the replacement tanker.
  4. Saudi Researcher Says Yemen is Again Dividing into Two Autonomous Regions, Sanaa and Aden (Al Mashhad). “The manifestations of the state of the autonomous regions in a geographically unified Yemen, rather than a political one, have begun to surface.”…He added, “Sovereign decisions to control resources and boost the economy are being exchanged between Sana’a and Aden,” referring to the Houthi militia and the Southern Transitional Council.
  5. Kuwait Buys Bayraktar Aircraft from Türkiye for $367 Million (Al Khaleej Online). The Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense announced its contract with Turkey to supply the Turkish “Bayraktar TB2” unmanned aircraft system, at a value of $367 million, through direct negotiation between the governments of the two countries without intermediaries. The Ministry of Defense confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the contract to supply Bayraktar TB2 aircraft aims to enhance the defense capabilities of the Kuwaiti army.
  6. Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Chair Donors’ Conference in Support of Sudan (Al Khaleej Online). Saudi Arabia announced that it would co-chair a high-level conference with Qatar and other countries to announce pledges to support the humanitarian response to Sudan and the region, which will be held on the nineteenth of June. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated…that it will co-chair this conference with Qatar, Egypt, Germany, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the European Union, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

TURKIYE 

  1. Erdogan Says Turkiye Will Open Consulate in Shusha (Daily Sabah). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was given an official welcome on Tuesday in Baku by his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev. Erdoğan arrived in the country late Monday, his second visit abroad since he was reelected to Türkiye’s top office on May 28…Speaking at a joint news conference with Aliyev ahead of a meeting between the Turkish and Azerbaijani delegations, Erdoğan said they planned to open a Turkish Consulate in Shusha. “It will be a different message to the whole world, especially Armenia,” he said. Shusha was liberated from Armenia by Azerbaijani forces in 2020.
  2. Establishing Zangezur Corridor will Strengthen Ankara-Baku Ties: Turkish President (Anadolu Agency). Confirming the key Zangezur corridor land route in the southern Caucasus will build stronger ties between Türkiye and Azerbaijan, the Turkish president said on Tuesday that the planned Zangezur corridor – an unimpeded road through Armenian territory connecting Azerbaijan to its Nakhchivan exclave – would also link Azerbaijan directly to eastern Türkiye and give additional unity to the larger Turkic world.
  3. Intrepid Women’s Expedition to Türkiye to Support Local Women After Quakes (Daily Sabah). Intrepid Travel, the renowned travel B Corporation and the largest of its kind worldwide has unveiled its latest initiative, a Women’s Expedition to Türkiye. This transformative journey aims to uplift and empower local women as they rebuild their lives following the devastating earthquakes that struck the country on Feb. 6. The expedition is part of Intrepid’s esteemed collection of eight all-female trips led by inspiring female tour leaders.

IRAN

  1. Iran Intends to Commercialize Nuclear Products (Tehran Times).  The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has an ambition to bring its nuclear research to an industrial level and ultimately commercialize it, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Sunday. In a televised interview, Kamalvandi stated that the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s remarks during a meeting with AEOI officials on Sunday “gave all of us extra energy to move quickly.”…“The vision of the organization is to be able to have a strong organization that can bring research to the industrial stage and then to business,” he stressed.
  2. Iran, Venezuela Sign 19 Pacts (Tasnim News). Iran and Venezuela signed 19 cooperation documents and memoranda of understanding during Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s official visit to Caracas…Cooperation and participation in areas such as communications and information technology, energy, insurance, maritime transport, higher education, agriculture, medicine, cultural exchanges, and the development of mineral cooperation were among the essential documents signed between the two countries on Monday.
  3. Iran Holds Nuclear Talks with European Diplomats in UAE (The New Arab). Iran’s nuclear negotiator on Tuesday said he had met with diplomats from three European countries in Abu Dhabi to discuss some issues, including the country’s atomic energy program. “Following diplomatic consultations with regional and extra-regional parties, we met with our German, French, and British counterparts in Abu Dhabi and discussed a range of issues,” deputy foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri tweeted.
  4. Islamic Republic’s IRGC Clashes with Kurds in Western Iran (The Jerusalem Post). According to opposition-affiliated organizations, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) clashed with residents of Kurdish areas of western Iran on Tuesday. In Dehlor, a village in the Kermanshah Province, Iranian forces attacked residents, with armed clashes breaking out at the scene, according to Hengaw. According to the report, the attack came in light of the killing of a Basij paramilitary force member in Kermanshah on Sunday.

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 

  1. Abbas Arrives in Beijing for a Four-Day Visit (Elaph). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day visit, state media reported, when the Asian giant is searching for mediating roles in current conflicts in the Middle East. According to the Palestinian official news agency, Wafa, Abbas will meet with several senior Chinese officials on his fifth visit to Beijing, led by President Xi Jinping.
  2. Herzog Said Set to Meet Biden, Address Congress in Mid-July; Sides Do Not Confirm (The Times of Israel). Hebrew media outlets say the date will be set in the coming days, maybe July 19; the invitation was extended during the president’s trip to Washington last year; offices say nothing has been set.
  3. Israeli Army Investigation Holds Border Division Commander Accountable for Terrorist Killing of Israeli Soldiers (Al Jazeera). The results of the Israeli army’s investigation into the killing of 3 of its soldiers by an Egyptian policeman near the Al-Awja or Nitsana border crossing with Egypt on the third of June concluded that there were what it called “several failures” in combat readiness on the border with Egypt…For his part, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Herzi Halevi, imposed sanctions on a number of army officers working in the Southern Command, and decided to hold the commander of the 80th Military Division operating on the border with Egypt responsible for the killing of Israeli soldiers.
  4. Israel Announces the Summary of the Investigation in the Border Incident with Egypt (Sky News Arabia). In a statement, the spokesman said, “In light of the investigation, it was found that an Egyptian policeman infiltrated from the Egyptian border into Israeli territory through one of the security passages in the fence and shot at the commander of a platoon of the Fahd Battalion and a female soldier of the same battalion, killing the two.” Moreover, the statement continued: “Several hours later, the terrorist was spotted, and he fired from a long distance at an IDF force, which returned fire. During the exchange of fire, an Israeli soldier (a third was killed) while another was slightly wounded.”

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Plan to Open Sites for Israeli Arms Maker in Casablanca Faces Opposition From Moroccan Anti-normalization Activists (New Arab). Moroccan anti-normalization activists have vowed to protest plans to establish a presence for Israeli arms manufacturers in their country as military ties between Tel Aviv and Rabat reach unprecedented levels of cooperation despite public opposition…This comes in the wake of announcements by Israeli officials that controversial Israeli arms company, Elbit Systems, is set to open two plants in the kingdom.
  2. Egypt will Allocate $4.14 Billion for Food Support in 2023-24 Budget (Sky News Arabia). Egypt, with a population of 105 million, is one of the world’s largest wheat importers and is dependent on imports of other staple foods and fuel. A financial statement attached to the draft budget approved by Parliament stated that the Ministry of Finance estimated Egypt’s need for 8.25 million tons of wheat in the next fiscal year. The budget was based on an oil price of $80 per barrel of Brent crude. 
  3. 3800 Died on Migration Routes in Middle East and North Africa in 2022 (Elaph). The International Organization for Migration announced Tuesday that nearly 3,800 people died on migratory routes in and out of North Africa and the Middle East in 2022, the highest toll since 2017. According to the organization, the Middle East and North Africa region accounted for more than half of all deaths globally. On the road in North Africa, especially during the perilous crossing of the Sahara desert, 203 deaths were recorded, while another 825 deaths occurred on the street in the Middle East. Libya recorded the highest number of road deaths in North Africa, with 117 deaths recorded.

SYRIA

  1. Israeli Strikes Target Military Site in Suburb Damascus (Syria TV). SANA said that Israel carried out attacks “from the direction of the occupied Golan, targeting some points southwest of Damascus, and the air defense media intercepted the missiles and shot down some of them,” noting that the attacks “resulted in the serious injury of a soldier and material losses.” Local sources stated that fires broke out in locations around the village of Al-Muqailabiyah in the city of Al-Kiswah in the western countryside of Damascus. In contrast, fire engines were seen heading to the place to put out the fire caused by the targeting without information on injuries.
  2. 22 US Military Personnel Injured in Helicopter Crash in Northeastern Syria (Enab Baladi). The US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that a military helicopter crashed in northeastern Syria, injuring 22 US soldiers with varying degrees of injury…on Tuesday, June 13 “Centcom” said in a statement that the wounded had varying injuries, as ten of them were transferred to “higher medical care facilities” outside the central command’s area of responsibility for the treatment.
  3. Jordanian Army Says it Shot Down Drone-Carrying Drugs from Syria (New Arab). The Jordanian army said it had downed a drone carrying drugs from Syria into its northern frontier region, and it said Jordan would not allow the border area to become a front line in an Iran-linked drug war…The kingdom has blamed pro-Iranian militias, which it says are protected by units within the Syrian army, for smuggling drugs across its borders towards lucrative Gulf markets.
  4. UN Will Reduce Food Aid to Syria by About Half Due to Lack of Funding (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The unprecedented funding crisis in Syria is forcing the World Food Program to reduce its “assistance to about 2.5 million people, out of about 5.5 million who depend on the assistance provided by the agency for their basic food needs,” the World Food Program said. Moreover, the statement continued: “After exhausting all options, in light of the minimal resources, the World Food Program decided to prioritize the 3 million Syrians who are unable to survive from one week to the next without food assistance, instead of continuing to assist the 5.5 million people who are running out of food aid.”
  5. Russian Soldier Killed in Turkish Bombing in Northern Syria (Al Hadath). The bombing came after a day of violence between Kurdish fighters and Turkish forces in northern Syria, which led to several Kurdish deaths. There was no comment from the Russian army, the Syrian government, or Turkish officials regarding the bombing. The Syrian Observatory reported the death of a Russian soldier and the wounding of four others as Turkish forces bombed the road linking the villages of Harbel and Maaratah Um Hosh in Aleppo governorate.

IRAQ 

  1. Erbil Welcomes, after Anger, the Passage of the Iraqi Budget (Elaph). After the Kurdish anger that was directed at Iraq’s general budget, the President of the Kurdistan Region welcomed the budget’s passage on Tuesday, stressing the need to implement it fairly and considering the region’s status as a constitutional political entity. But the president of the region expressed regret that the parliament’s discussions of the budget items in recent days “have witnessed incorrect behavior towards the rights of the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas (between Baghdad and Erbil) on the part of some representatives.” And he stressed that what happened was not consistent with the principles of the political agreement of the State Administration Alliance (Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish) that formed the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani last October.

LEBANON

  1. Sectarian Dispute Deepens Ahead of Lebanese Presidential Election Session (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Political positions and sectarian differences escalated within the Lebanese Parliament hours before the session to elect the President of the Republic. It was remarkable that the Mufti Al-Jaafari, the excellent Sheikh Ahmed Qabalan, accused the team that supports the candidacy of former Minister Jihad Azour of “isolating the resistance component that guarantees Lebanon’s sovereignty” (meaning “Hizballah”)…while a contact of paramount significance, was recorded by US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, urging the election of a president for the republic without any obstacles.

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