THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 17-19, 2023

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  1. How Has This Week Been in the Economy? (Cumhuriyet). In April, the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT) announced that Turkiye had a monthly current account deficit of $5.40 billion. Thus, the Turkish economy had a monthly current account deficit for 18 consecutive months. In April, the annualized current account deficit rose to $57.8 billion, the highest in 11 years…UNEMPLOYMENT RISE…According to TUIK data, The number of unemployed persons aged 15 and over increased by 74,000 in April 2023 compared to the previous month and reached 3,585,000 total. On the other hand, the unemployment rate eased by 0.1 percentage points to 10.2 percent. While the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent for men, it was estimated to be 14.3 percent for women.


  1. High Court Issues Interim Injunction on Law Expanding Ben Gvir’s Power Over Police (The Times Of Israel). The High Court of Justice issued an interim injunction on Sunday against a controversial law granting National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir increased powers over the police, underscoring rising concerns about the politicization of law enforcement…According to the ruling by Justices Uzi Vogelman, Yitzhak Amit, and Yechiel Kasher, the government must respond to a petition against the legislation within 90 days. Such a ruling indicates that the court agrees in principle with the petitioners’ case against the law.
  2. Israel Creates Fast Track for Settlement Building, Palestinians Cancel Meeting (The Jerusalem Post). The government fast-tracked the approval process for West Bank settler homes, removing diplomatic safeguards that have been in place for almost three decades, at Sunday’s cabinet meeting…Minister for the Development of the Periphery Yitzhak Shimon Wasserlauf (RZP) lauded the amended procedure…Such a move is necessary, he said, to halt the Palestinian takeover of land in Area C of the West Bank that would “lead to the establishment of a terrorist state” in that region.
  3. Israeli Cabinet’s Committee on Arab Affairs Includes 18 Ministers and Only One Arab (The Times Of Israel). A committee was established by the cabinet Sunday to deal with issues relating to the Arab community — particularly the mounting epidemic of violent crime — but it will include 18 Jewish ministers, including four from the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties, and only one Arab…The Ministerial Committee for Issues in the Arab Community, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will include ministers Itamar Ben Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, Orit Strock, and Yitzhak Wasserlauf.
  4. Intel to Invest Unprecedented $25 Billion in Chip Manufacturing Plant in Israel (The Times Of Israel). US semiconductor giant Intel Corp. has inked an agreement in principle with the Israeli government to build a chip manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat at an investment of $25 billion…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Intel investment was “unprecedented” in Israel and would go toward building a chip manufacturing plant that will use the most advanced technology in the world. In 2019, Intel already held talks for investing around $10 billion into building the Kiryat Gat chip plant.
  5. Abbas Welcomes Chinese Mediation and Accuses US of Obstructing the Two-State Solution (Al Wahdawi). On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he welcomed “any Chinese mediation between the Palestinians and the Israelis to reach peace”…In an interview with the Chinese “CCTV” channel, Abbas said, “China’s presence at the recent Arab summit was a great indication, promising that China entered the Arab countries through the summit,” expressing his hope that this participation would continue in future summits. Abbas also expressed hope that China would play a role in the mediation process with Israel.


  1. French and German Interior Ministers Head to Tunisia in Wake of Latest Mediterranean Tragedy (Ahram Online). The two-day trip by the German and French interior ministers Nancy Faeser and Gérald Darmanin follows what is feared to be the deadliest migrant shipwreck in years in the Mediterranean — the capsizing last week of a fishing vessel packed with men, women, and children trying to reach Italy from Libya, Tunisia’s neighbor. More than 500 migrants are presumed to have drowned in the sinking Wednesday off the southern coast of Greece that renewed criticism of Europe’s years-long failure to prevent migration tragedies. The U.N. migration agency said it could be the second-deadliest migrant shipwreck recorded — after the April 2015 capsizing of another vessel on the Libya-Italy route that killed an estimated 1,100 people.
  2.  Qatar Seeks to Buy 30% of Egypt’s Hotels Holding Company at $750M (Daily News). The Qatar Investment Authority is negotiating over purchasing a 30% stake in the Holding Company for Tourism and Hotels; sources told Daily News Egypt on Saturday…The company includes seven hotels:  Cairo Marriott, Aswan Cataract, Haram Mena House, Luxor Winter Palace, Alexandria Cecil, Movenpick Aswan, and Elephantine Aswan…The sources added that the initial evaluation of that share would reach about $750M, and the initial signing would occur within a month. In contrast, implementation will occur within two months, explaining that the Sovereign Fund of Egypt evaluated the hotels before offering them to strategic investors. Thus the deal estimates the value of the company at $2.25B.


  1. In Tehran, Saudi Foreign Minister Stresses Freeing the Region from Weapons of Mass Destruction (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Foreign Minister, stressed, from the Iranian capital, Tehran, the importance of cooperation between Riyadh and Tehran with regard to regional security, especially the security of maritime navigation and waterways, and the importance of cooperation between all countries in the region to ensure that they are free of weapons of mass destruction…He explained that work is currently based on resuming the work of diplomatic and consular missions in the two countries, pointing to the recent opening of the Iranian embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah, and that it will be followed soon by the opening of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
  2.  Saudi Arabia Dispatches More Relief for Quake Victims of Türkiye, Syria (Daily Sabah). Saudi Arabia has dispatched a new plane loaded with humanitarian aid for the victims of the Feb. 6 earthquakes that killed thousands in Türkiye and Syria…A plane loaded with 90 tons of medical materials landed on Saturday at Gaziantep Airport in Türkiye, the Saudi Arabian state news agency SPA reported…The aid is part of “the Saudi relief airlift launched by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to help the quake victims in Türkiye and Syria,” it added.
  3.  Mohammed Bin Zayed and Putin Discuss Bilateral Relations and Regional and International Issues (Al Sharq Al Awsat). UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan noted “The UAE’s firm approach to supporting peace and stability in the regional and international arenas, and political solutions to disputes and conflicts, including the Ukrainian crisis, through de-escalation, dialogue, and diplomacy,” while also noting the importance of intensifying efforts to mitigate the humanitarian repercussions of the crisis, and support the exchange of prisoners for the two parties…This came during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reception for Sheikh Mohammed on Friday in St. Petersburg, as part of Sheikh Mohammed’s working visit to Russia. 
  4.  Oman’s Foreign Minister Announces New Talks Between America and the Assad Regime (Orient). Omani Foreign Minister Badr al-Busaidi confirmed the existence of new talks, mediated by Oman, between the United States and the Assad regime regarding the American journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing in Syria since 2012…Messages exchanged…Al-Busaidi told Al-Monitor during an interview in the Omani capital, Muscat, a few days ago that “Syria (the Assad regime) and the United States exchanged messages with the help of Oman regarding Tice.”… He added, “We know at least that messages are swinging back and forth… I cannot tell you that they are any closer to finding a way out yet, but the process has begun, and I hope it will continue.”


  1. Iran Eyes Rise in Trade with New Terminal on Turkish Border (Tasnim News).  Iran will launch a new terminal on its border with Turkey to increase international trade via its territory. Iran’s Road Maintenance & Transportation Organization (RTMO) said on Saturday that Razi Border Terminal would be officially inaugurated within days in a ceremony that senior government officials will attend.
  2. Saudi-Iran Detente Offers Dubious Economic Benefits, Say Analysts (Al Monitor). Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Fatih claims he is “optimistic” about the economic potential of the detente announced on March 10 between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China… In an interview with CNBC earlier this week, the minister said he was “very hopeful” that Saudi Arabia’s normalization with Iran will go beyond the two countries and address the concerns the international community has expressed to Tehran.
  3. Iran’s Oil Exports Reach Highest Level in Five Years (Al Mayadeen). Iran’s crude oil exports hit their highest levels in 2023 despite US sanctions, according to economic consultants and data reported by Reuters…According to the data, Iranian oil exports exceeded 1.5 million barrels per day in May, the highest monthly rate since 2018, before the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal…Last May, Iran announced that it had increased its crude production to more than 3 million barrels per day. This represents about 3% of global supply and will be the highest since 2018, according to figures from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
  4. Iran Constructing 120-Megawatt Power Plant in Sri Lanka: Energy Minister (Tasnim News). The capacity of hydroelectric power plants in Iran exceeds 13,000 megawatts, the Iranian energy minister said, revealing salient progress in the final stage of construction of a 120-megawatt power plant by the Iranian experts in Sri Lanka…in a meeting with Sri Lanka’s Minister of Irrigation Chamal Rajapaksa on Sunday, Ali Akbar Mehrabian pointed to the amicable historical relations between the two countries. He hoped that expert Iranian engineers were building the power plants.


  1. UN General Assembly Will Vote on Establishing an Agency on Syrian Detainees (Jesr Press). The United Nations General Assembly intends to vote on a resolution calling for establishing an independent institution concerned with missing persons in Syria during June…According to Agence France Presse, Albania, Belgium, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Luxembourg, and North Macedonia circulated a draft resolution to establish an international body to help the families of the missing Syrians discover what happened to their relatives.
  2. Failure and Final Cessation of Dialogue Between the Assad Regime and the PYD…What is the Reason? (Syria TV). Bas News website quoted a Syrian Kurdish source as saying, “The dialogues between the PYD and the Syrian regime, under the auspices of Russia, failed due to pressure and interventions from neighboring countries (Turkiye and Iran) and stopped permanently.”…The source added, “The Syrian regime – during the meetings that took place in the capital, Damascus – categorically refused to accept the proposals of the PYD delegation related to the legitimacy of (the Autonomous Administration, the SDF, and the Asayish forces), in any way.”


  1. Iraq Calls on Foreign Companies to Bid for Gas Exploration (Iraqi News). The Iraqi Ministry of Oil called on foreign companies on Sunday to bid for contracts to explore and develop natural gas reserves in 11 new blocks, according to a statement issued by the Oil Ministry…The step is part of Iraq’s endeavors to produce much-needed natural gas in power plants and reduce gas imports that affect the country’s budget.
  2. Federal Reserve Bank Sends Team to Audit Iraqi Banks (Al Mustaqila). A team from the US Federal Reserve Bank arrived in Baghdad several days ago to check the outputs of 3 Iraqi banks that the Central Bank of Iraq had stopped dealing with in dollars…The presence of the American financial team means that the American guardianship over the movement of Iraqi money is strict, and that the political forces have realized that Washington can put pressure on Iraq financially by stopping the flow of money. The money accumulated in the US Federal Reserve means the collapse of the Iraqi currency against the dollar.


  1. World Bank Says Food Price Inflation in Lebanon Has Increased 350% in One Year (Al Nahar). Lebanon recorded the highest nominal inflation rate in the food inflation index around the world, reaching 350% in one year (April 2022 and April 2023), according to updated food security figures issued by the World Bank on June 1, which give a glimpse of the annual rates of change in the food index in Price inflation index in many countries around the world.

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