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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 16, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

TURKIYE

  1. Turkish President Vows To Introduce New Civilian Constitution (Anadolu Agency). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday promised to introduce a new “civilian” constitution…”We will work together to bring a civilian body to Türkiye,” Erdogan said after a Cabinet meeting, which lasted more than eight hours, in the capital Ankara.
  2. After the Burning of the Turkish Flag and the Statue of Erdogan, Ankara  Summons the Swiss Ambassador (Al Jazeera). Diplomatic sources said Muhammad Kemal Bozai, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister and Director of European Affairs, summoned Ambassador Roach to the ministry’s headquarters. He assured Ambassador Roche that this attack targeting President Erdogan was unacceptable. Bozai demanded an investigation of the incident to identify the “culprits” and take measures against them.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israel Set to Export Flagship Merkava Tanks to Europe (Jerusalem Post).  Israel is in talks to sell its Merkava tank to two countries, one of them in Europe, in what would be the first export of the flagship fighting vehicle, a Defense Ministry official said on Thursday…Introduced after Israel’s armored corps suffered heavy losses against Egypt and Syria in a 1973 war, and to reduce reliance on foreign arms supplies, the Merkava – biblical Hebrew for “chariot” – is now in its fourth generation.
  2. Israel, Cyprus Make Strides Toward EastMed Undersea Electricity Cable (Al Monitor). Israel’s Energy Minister, Israel Katz, met with his visiting Cypriot counterpart, George Papanastasiou, in Jerusalem Thursday for a round of discussions on strengthening energy cooperation, particularly an initiative to connect the two countries’ electricity grids via an undersea cable.
  3. Foreign Minister Eli Cohen says US Bipartisan Support Will Help Expand Abraham Accords (Jerusalem Post). Foreign Minister Eli Cohen praised the passage of a bill in the US House of Representatives, creating an ambassador-level position to promote the Abraham Accords. “The US and Israel stand shoulder to shoulder in promoting peace agreements and normalization in the Middle East and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Muslim states in the world,” Cohen said.
  4. Coalition Members Accuse Likud Traitors After Opposition Wins Judicial Panel Seat (The Times of Israel). Several coalition members directed their fire at Netanyahu’s Likud party, the most moderate faction in the right-religious coalition, following the election of Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar to the Judicial Selection Committee, which nominates judges, including for the Supreme Court. Channel 12 news quoted a Likud lawmaker who said they backed Elharrar in the secret ballot amid widespread speculation that Netanyahu had sought to appease the opposition, which had threatened to pull out of talks aimed at bridging wide gaps over changes to the judiciary if no representative was put on the panel.
  5. How Israel Lost the Syrian Civil War (The Jerusalem Strategic Tribune). Apart from the Syrian people themselves, Israel comes out of the 12 years of civil war in Syria as the biggest loser. The survival of the Assad regime, closely allied with Iran, amounts to nothing short of an Israeli strategic failure…Israel’s short-term tactical calculations ignore the longer-term risks. Iran is determined to accept substantial losses in order to persist in its primary objective: deploying long and medium-range missiles in Syria, complete with air defense systems. So far, Iran has shied away from sending significant numbers of its own troops to Syria, preferring instead to send teams of IRGC ”advisors” to command mostly Shiite militiamen and local recruits. In the future, under a new Supreme Leader and following modernization of its air force, Teheran may be prepared to raise the stakes. 

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. African Development Bank Approves $237 Million Loan to Egypt (Ghad News). President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi signed a loan agreement between Egypt and the African Development Bank, the program to support food security and economic resilience, for an amount not exceeding (271) million US dollars.
  2. PM Madbouly Leads Egypt’s Delegation During Africa’s Russia-Ukraine Peace Mission (English Ahram). Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly embarked on a trip on Thursday as the head of the Egyptian delegation participating in the African peace mission that will visit Kyiv and Saint Petersburg to resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  3. United Nations: 2.2 Million People Displaced Due to Clashes in Sudan (Ghad News). In a statement, the United Nations organization said that since April 15, “more than 1,670,000 people have been internally displaced in Sudan, while the number of those who left the borders reached about 528,147.”
  4. Darfur Regional Government Says Death Toll in El Geneina Exceeds 1,000 (Al Arabiya). The government of the Sudanese Darfur region revealed that the death toll in the El Geneina region had exceeded 1,000. At the same time, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, announced Thursday that over 100 people were killed in violent clashes in and around the camps for the displaced in the Sudanese state of North Darfur.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. 410,000 Amphetamine Tablets Seized In Saudi Arabia (Al Khaleej Online). On Wednesday, the official spokesman for the Saudi General Directorate for Drug Control, Major Marwan Al-Hazmi, revealed the seizure of 410,000 tablets of the drug amphetamine hidden inside a truck transporting goods and a den prepared for promotion in Jeddah Governorate.
  2. Houthis Threaten War Against Saudi Arabia and the UAE After Fiery Statements by Yemeni General (Al Mashhad). A prominent Houthi leader…threatened to launch new attacks on the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia after statements by a member of the Presidential Leadership Council, Major General Sultan Al-Arada, regarding the port of Hodeidah…The military leader of the Houthi militias, Yusef al-Fishi, said that the coalition has two options, to depart from Yemen, abandon the legitimate government, and leave it to face its fate, or support it and sacrifice the risks to the economy, security, and stability. 

IRAN 

  1. Under Omani Sponsorship, US and Iran Near an Agreement for Release of American Hostages (Al Hadath). Omani Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi said in an interview with Al-Monitor news website that Iran and the United States are close to finalizing an agreement on the release of Americans detained in Tehran…”I can say they are close…the issue is limited to technical matters,” al-Busaidi said in the interview, which was published early Thursday, of the two countries’ possible agreement over the detainees. 
  2. Saudi Foreign Minister to Meet Iranian Officials in Tehran (Tasnim News). Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud will travel to Tehran Saturday for talks with senior Iranian officials…Sources reported earlier that the embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran would reopen during the ministerial visit to Iran.
  3. Iran, Qatar Emphasize Boosting Banking and Monetary Cooperation (Tasnim News). Highlighting the numerous economic capacities and various fields of trade cooperation between Iran and Qatar, the chief bankers of Iran and Qatar stressed the need for increasing banking and monetary cooperation…Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Mohammad Reza Farzin, who has traveled to the Qatari capital of Doha, met and held talks with his Qatari counterpart Bandar bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani on Wednesday to discuss bilateral ties and issues of mutual interest.
  4. American Official Says Iran Experimented with A Suicide Drone Against a Training Ship in the Gulf (Aljazeera). Reuters quoted a US official as confirming that Iran had tested a “suicide” drone against a training ship in the Gulf…The US official described the move as a rehearsal for striking commercial ships, according to Reuters…He said, citing US intelligence information, that the drone launched from the Iranian Jask region on Wednesday, between 8 and 9 miles at sea within the territorial waters, and targeted an Iranian training barge.

SYRIA

  1. At International Conference to Support Syrian Refugees, EU Reiterates It Will Not Normalize with Damascus (Al Jazeera). The European Union’s foreign policy official, Josep Borrell, said on Thursday that the Union would not have chosen the path of normalizing its relations with the Syrian regime as the Arab League did, stressing at an international conference in the Belgian capital Brussels to support the Syrian refugees that the international community cannot ignore the plight of these refugees…Borrell considered in his speech before the conference “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” that conditions do not allow for a change in the European Union’s policy towards Syria. He stressed that the Union “will not back down from supporting the Syrian people.”
  2. EU “Brussels 7” Conference Pledges 10 Billion Euros To Help Syrians (Syria TV). The European Union, the United States of America, and international donors pledged 9.6 billion euros to the Syrian people and the countries hosting Syrian refugees after the seventh “Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region” conference in the Belgian capital, Brussels…The amount of 9.6 billion euros is distributed between grants and loans, as donor countries pledged to provide 5.6 billion euros in the form of grants, including 4.6 billion euros for the current year and one billion euros for the year 2024, according to the European Union and the final statement.
  3. Assad Regime Intends to Apply to Join BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Syria TV). The Syrian regime intends to apply to join the “BRICS” group of countries and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, according to what the Syrian Minister of Finance, Kanaan Yaghi, told the Russian “Sputnik” agency on Thursday…Yaghi’s remarks came on the sidelines of his participation in the “Petersburg” Economic Forum in Russia…In an interview with Russia Today, Yaghi said that the economic relations between Syria and Russia are “good” and that the two countries are working to strengthen economic cooperation, referring to the signing of financial agreements with Russia and other countries on the forum’s sidelines.
  4. Türkiye Arrests Most Prominent Jihadist Opposing Al-Julani (Al Nahar). On Tuesday, the Turkish authorities arrested the prominent Syrian jihadist, Abu al-Abed Ashdaa, after he entered Turkish territory on his way to Saudi Arabia to perform the Hajj. The sudden arrest came days after the Turkish authorities deported a Syrian businessman, Maher al-Daghim, for his involvement in financing terrorist organizations. This was preceded by the issuance of a Turkish decision to seize the funds of Omar Sheikh (Abu Ahmed Zakour), a leader in Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
  5. Strengthening the American Presence and Floating “Al-Assad”… Indications of the Consolidation of Fragmented Syria (Syria TV). The acceleration of normalization with the Syrian regime following the earthquake and the successive political developments reveals an international effort led by countries that have engaged in normalization and those that have not yet, aiming to consolidate the division of Syria by preserving the regime…Most study centers assess that the Syrian war has turned into a “frozen conflict,” the countries that intervened in the war are working to consolidate this situation while trying to bring about an inexpensive change that suits their strategic goals.
  6. Hundreds of Syrian Migrants Missing After Sinking Of Boat in Greek Waters (Syria TV). The search operation during the night or early Thursday in the south of the Greek Peloponnese region failed to locate any bodies or survivors of the sinking of a boat carrying 600-700 people, including Syrians after at least 78 bodies were recovered yesterday…The authorities rescued 104 passengers yesterday, including Egyptians, Syrians, Pakistanis, Afghans, and Palestinians. Still, the authorities fear that hundreds of others may be trapped below deck, and if this is confirmed, it will make the tragedy one of the worst ever recorded in the central Mediterranean.
  7. With Assad’s Announcement To Increase Wages, Did the Gulf States Intervene to Save the Regime? (Syria TV). The Syrian regime’s recent announcement of a significant increase in wages and salaries of public sector employees sparked speculation in the Syrian street about the influx of new funds into the regime’s treasury coming from one of the Gulf countries…Earlier this week, the head of the Syrian regime government, Hussein Arnous, revealed an expected increase in the salaries of employees in the public sector, coinciding with the spread of news of mass resignations of employees in the government sector, due to low wages and the shocking rise in prices and inflation, in parallel with the collapse of the value of the Syrian pound.

IRAQ

  1. Iraqi, Turkish Officials to Discuss Resumption of Oil Exports from Northern Iraq (Iraqi News). The Undersecretary of the Iraqi Oil Minister, Basim Mohammed Khudair, stated on Thursday that a Turkish delegation would meet with Iraqi officials in the oil sector in Baghdad on June 19 to discuss the resumption of oil exports from northern Iraq…Khudair elaborated that the two parties agree it is necessary to resume oil exports as soon as possible, explaining that Iraq is ready to pump 500,000 barrels per day if both parties agree on resuming oil exports.
  2. Iraqi Prime Minister Agreed to Allow More than 20 Million Iranian Visitors Enter Iraq Free of Charge (Iraqi News). Prime Minister Muhammad al-Sudani approved, on Thursday, the entry of millions of Iranian visitors to Iraq during the Arbaeen event of Imam Hussein, even if the number exceeds more than 20 million visitors, and an informed political source added that groups of Iranian intelligence and guards would accompany the visitors. The source confirmed that their entry and exit are not specified on a specific date. The source indicated that Iraq is losing tens of billions of dollars due to the entry of this number of visitors because they are exempted from entry fees of $40 per person. Iraq’s budget suffers from a financial deficit of about $49 billion. 
  3. Emir of Qatar Visits Baghdad to Discuss Qatari Investments in Iraq (Elaph). According to official Iraqi and Qatari sources, the talks of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, with the Iraqi presidencies during his visit, which is the second to Iraq, will discuss several files related to expanding Qatari investments in Iraq, his country’s participation in the “Development Road” project, and cooperation in the fields of energy and gas.

LEBANON

  1. Violent Attacks on Beirut’s Banks, Again (Al Nahar). Several protesters smashed the glass facades of Bank Audi in the Sin El Fil area, east of Beirut, and others also went to several banks in the same place. According to video clips, protesters burned tires at the entrances to banks…A number of these banks are facing lawsuits inside and outside Lebanon. Bank headquarters also witnessed raids by citizens who demanded the return of their savings.

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