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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 21, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

TURKIYE

  1. Turkish Airstrike Kills Senior PKK Operative in Northwest Syria (Hurriyet). The MIT (National Intelligence Organization of Turkey) has killed Rıdvan Ulugana, a high-priority target and member of the PKK/YPG terrorist group in Northwest Syria’s Tel Rifat region. Ulugana, known by various code names…had been involved in multiple attacks against Turkish security forces and civilians and was responsible for organizing the transfer of PKK members from Syria to Turkey.
  2. Erdoğan, KRG Leader Barzani Meet in Ankara (Daily Sabah). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently welcomed Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani for confidential discussions in Ankara. The meeting, which marked Barzani’s third official visit to Türkiye and the first since Erdoğan’s re-election in May, focused on current developments in Iraq, the broader region, and furthering bilateral relations. Türkiye’s newly appointed Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, also participated in the talks. Türkiye and the KRG have robust economic and political ties, with the KRG providing humanitarian aid following the February earthquakes in southern Türkiye.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Palestinian Gunmen Kill Four Israelis Near West Bank Israeli Settlement (Reuters). Palestinian gunmen killed four people in a shooting attack near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in an attack that the militant Hamas group said was a response to a raid by Israeli forces a day earlier in the flashpoint city of Jenin…As well as the four killed, Israel’s ambulance service said four more people were wounded in the attack. The Israeli military said a civilian “neutralized” one gunman.
  2. Top Israeli, German Defense Officials Move Forward with Sale of Israeli Missile System to Germany (Jerusalem Post). Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Zamir met with the State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Defense to discuss selling the Arrow 3 missile system to Germany. German defense sources have confirmed that the country’s national security establishment is genuinely concerned about future threats from Russia and possibly even later from China. This led the German government and military to press forward to get approval to purchase the Arrow 3 from Israel and then later from the US.
  3. The Ties that Bind Israel, Greece, and Cyprus – Analysis (Jerusalem Post). Diplomats, experts, and academics gathered in Cyprus for the Israel-Hellenic Forum, highlighting the strategic shift and growing partnership between Israel, Greece, and Cyprus. The forum focused on shared interests and values, with energy and defense collaborations playing a significant role. The meeting emphasized the importance of geography and regional alliances, including trilateral meetings and the involvement of the US. However, challenges remain as tensions with Turkey persist over territorial claims and the unresolved division of Cyprus—the forum aimed to strengthen relationships and promote cooperation among the liberal democracies of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt & North Africa

  1. Egypt Warns Sudan’s Humanitarian Catastrophe Will Affect Neighboring Countries (SKY news). Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt had received more than 250,000 Sudanese citizens since the start of the conflict between the army and the Rapid Support Forces in Sudan…Shoukry announced the launch of a joint Egyptian-Qatari initiative “to ensure the provision of support to the brotherly Sudanese people in a way that facilitates the continuation of the flow of relief aid.”…This came during a speech he delivered via the Internet before the high-level conference to support the humanitarian response in Sudan and the region, which Egypt organized in cooperation with the United Nations, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Germany, and the African and European Unions…Shukri also warned of a “humanitarian catastrophe” affecting the security, economic and humanitarian conditions in Sudan and neighboring countries.
  2. Darfur’s Governor Calls for International Investigation Into Darfur Killings (Sky News Arabia). Minawi urged the UN Security Council to allow the International Criminal Court to investigate “crimes and assassinations” in West Darfur during the past two months…Sudan descended into chaos after fighting broke out in mid-April between the army led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces led by Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo…The fighting was concentrated in the capital, Khartoum, but spread to other African regions, including Darfur. According to UN officials, the violence in Darfur has recently taken on an ethnic dimension…Minawi said “excessive force” was used against residents in several regional areas, including El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state.
  3. UN Donors Pledge $1.5 Billion to Curb Sudan’s Slide Into Death and Destruction (The New Arab). Donors at a Monday UN conference promised close to $1.5 billion to combat the humanitarian crisis in Sudan and help its neighbors host refugees fleeing the fighting…Sudan is descending into death and destruction at unprecedented speed, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned as he urged donors to step in and curb the unfolding catastrophe. The conference comes midway through a three-day ceasefire which appeared to have brought calm to the capital Khartoum after the failure of earlier truces to secure aid corridors.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Saudi Arabia Jumps Seven Places in Global Competitiveness Index (Al Arabiya). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked 17th out of the 64 most competitive countries globally, becoming one of the top 20 countries for the first time in the Global Competitiveness Yearbook Report issued by the Global Competitiveness Center of the International Institute for Administrative Development (IMD)…the Kingdom advanced seven ranks in the 2023 edition…outperforming countries with advanced economies in the world, such as South Korea, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, India, the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, Brazil, and Turkey.
  2. Qatar Agrees to Supply China with Gas for 27 Years (Al Khaleej Online). On Tuesday, Qatar signed an agreement with a Chinese state company, the second in less than a year with China, to obtain gas supplies from the Gulf state’s vast gas production expansion project…Qatar Energy has concluded two agreements with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) for the long-term supply of liquefied natural gas and partnership in the Northeast Field Expansion Project.
  3. Qatari Emir Receives Iran’s Foreign Minister in Doha..and an Official Reveals Details of the Talks (CNN). The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, received Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian on Tuesday…An informed official source said that Qatari officials are discussing with the Iranian foreign minister “ways to move forward” regarding the exchange of prisoners and the release of billions of dollars of Iranian funds frozen in South Korea.
  4. UAE Seeks to Appoint a New Yemeni Transitional President (Al Khabar Al Yemeni). On Tuesday, the UAE began new movements within the Transitional Council, heralding a recent coup…Sources in the council revealed further Emirati support for Ahmed bin Brik, the vice president of the Transitional Council…Bin Brik had explicitly declared his rejection of Saudi Arabia’s reconciliation between Rashad Al-Alimi and the Maeen government with the head of the council, Aidaroos Al-Zubaidi…According to the sources, Bin Brik received a green light from the Emirati ruler and commander of the Emirati forces in Yemen to move towards escalation.

IRAN

  1. Soleimani Debacle Casts Shadow on Landmark Saudi Visit to Iran (Amwaj Media). Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud visited Tehran, meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and President Ebrahim Raisi to improve bilateral relations. The visit resulted in the agreement to establish joint political and economic committees, focusing on border security, countering drug trafficking, and expanding commercial ties. The controversy over the venue for the joint press conference, due to a portrait of Qasem Soleimani, sparked discussions, while Arab reactions hailed the change of venue as a victory. The future holds potential cooperation in the nuclear field and a reciprocal trip by Amir-Abdollahian to Saudi Arabia.
  2. Israeli Study Identifies Iranian Scientists Behind Russia’s Kamikaze Drones in Ukraine (Iran International). According to a study by the Israeli research center ALMA, the Iranian scientists responsible for manufacturing the Shahid 136 drones used by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine have been identified. The report reveals two civilian companies in Tehran, allegedly operated by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), that produce drone components. The companies periodically change their names to evade sanctions imposed by Western countries potentially. 
  3. IRGC Hired Hitman to Kill Sunni Leader of Zahedan (Iran International). IRGC intelligence has allegedly assigned a hitman to assassinate Mowlavi Abdolhamid, a prominent Sunni cleric in Zahedan. The security guards of Makki Mosque apprehended a man disguised as a religious student who intended to poison and kill the Sunni leader. The suspect confessed to receiving a weekly salary for carrying out the operation. Mowlavi Abdolhamid has been facing pressure from Iranian security forces due to his critical sermons and participation in protests against government actions and repression. Zahedan has witnessed ongoing demonstrations against discrimination and repression in the Sistan-Baluchestan province.

SYRIA

  1. Russian Planes Bomb Idlib While Astana Track Meeting Discusses the Situation in Syria (Al Jazeera). Sources in the Syrian opposition reported that Russian warplanes carried out air raids on several areas in Idlib, which resulted in the destruction of some buildings in agricultural areas, as a meeting of the Astana track began in Kazakhstan to discuss the situation in Syria…a family of 17 people was inside one of the targeted farms and survived the bombing. Meanwhile, the twentieth meeting of the Astana track on Syria began in the Kazakh capital, with the participation of representatives from Turkey, Russia and Iran, and two delegations from the Syrian regime and the opposition.
  2. US Congress is Discussing a Draft Resolution to Establish an International Tribunal to Hold the Syrian Regime Accountable (Syria TV). On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives discussed a draft resolution calling for the establishment of a special international tribunal to try the Syrian regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity…The resolution aims to establish an international judicial mechanism specialized in Syria through the United Nations General Assembly to prevent Russia from using its Security Council veto in favor of the Syrian regime.
  3. Few Sign of Progress at Turkey-Syria Normalization Talks in Astana (Al Monitor). The 20th round of the Astana peace talks kicked off in the Kazakh capital Astana today with normalization between Turkey and Syria high on the agenda…However, there were few signs of progress, as Ayman Sousan, Syria’s assistant foreign minister, repeated his president’s line that ties with Turkey could not be mended until Ankara fully withdraws its forces from large swathes of northeast Syria that amount to nine percent of the country’s total land mass…Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is feeling buoyed by his recent reintegration into the Arab League and is apparently in no mood for compromise, despite pressure from the Kremlin to shake hands with Ankara.

IRAQ

  1. Prime Minister Sudani Pledged to Iran to Implement its Political, Economic, and Security Desires in the Region (Iraq News Network). Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani affirmed on Tuesday that the Baghdad International Conference 2023 will have a different vision based on the principle of development partnerships and economic integration among the region’s countries, according to a statement issued by al-Sudani’s office. This came during his meeting with the head of the Strategic Council for Iranian Foreign Relations Kamal Kharazi and his accompanying delegation.
  2. Iraq Will Prosecute Thousands of its Citizens Who Were Extradited from Syria (Elaph). Iraq announced that it was preparing to prosecute 3,000 terrorist citizens handed over from northeast Syria, warning of the continued presence of the Syrian al-Hawl camp on its borders, which includes 10,000 foreigners who pose a threat to its security and the region.

LEBANON

  1. Will Early Elections Be a Key to Hariri’s Return with a Popular Tsunami? (Lebanon 24). So far, many attempts to fill the void left by Hariri have not succeeded. For this reason, if the latter decides to run in the elections, then those with him and those against him will be on his side to return, because the political balance is badly required under the existing system. 

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