- Iraq’s Debt is $116 Billion, and the 2023 Budget Depends on Foreign Loans
- Iran-China Trade Hits $6.5 Billion in Five Months
- Hezbollah Infiltrates, Sets Up Armed Position in Israel
- Qatari Prime Minister Arrives In Moscow
- Druze Protest Turns Violent as Thousands Clash with Police in the Golan Heights
- Swedish FM Calls Turkish Parliament to Approve NATO Bid (Daily Sabah). Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom expressed confidence that Sweden has fulfilled its obligations to secure Turkey’s approval for its NATO membership. Billstrom called on the Turkish Parliament to begin the ratification process. However, Turkiye and Hungary have hesitated to approve Sweden’s membership, citing concerns over Sweden’s efforts against counterterrorism, particularly regarding the PKK. Recently, a man accused of attempted terrorist financing for the PKK appeared in a Swedish court, further fueling tensions.
- Turkiye to Export Drones to Four Additional Countries (Anadolu Agency). Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is set to export its Anka drones to four countries this year, according to Ziya Dogan, the Chief Product Engineer. One customer is already actively using the Anka drones, and an export deal has been signed with another country for delivery in 2024.
ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
- Israel to Move Ahead With 1,000 New Homes in West Bank Settlement (Reuters). Israel plans 1,000 new homes for the Eli settlement in the occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Wednesday, calling this a response to a Palestinian gun attack there that killed four people. Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich “agreed to move ahead immediately” with the planning, the statement said, without giving further details on the timetable. The United States has cautioned Israel against new settlement projects.
- Hezbollah Infiltrates, Sets Up Armed Position in Israel (Jerusalem Post). Hezbollah has reportedly infiltrated Israel and established an armed military position within Israeli territory in recent weeks. The IDF and relevant authorities are aware of the situation and are dealing with it. UNIFIL and the UN are said to be involved. The terrorists crossed the border near Har Dov, set up tents, and are armed. Due to the sensitivity of the area, the IDF has not taken immediate military action. This is the second incident in a few months where Hezbollah has managed to infiltrate Israel.
- Israeli Settlers Torch Palestinian Homes and Cars to Avenge Deadly Shooting (Associated Press). Hundreds of Israeli settlers entered the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya in the West Bank, setting fire to cars, homes, and trees in retaliation for the deaths of four Israelis killed by Palestinian gunmen. The incident occurred as the Israeli military deployed additional forces in the West Bank and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to construct 1,000 new settler homes in response to the shooting.
EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA
- Fighting Renews in Sudan Immediately After Expiration of Truce (Al Hadath). With the end of the 72-hour armistice on Wednesday, the airspace in Sudan witnessed air sorties by warplanes in Omdurman, while the Rapid Support Forces confronted them with ground anti-aircraft guns…Violent clashes broke out in the Mohandessin area and the Al-Fatihab neighborhood in Omdurman in Khartoum, as well as the outbreak of violent clashes in the city of Dilling in the state of South Kordofan.
- President of Iran: The Sultan of Oman Informed Us of Egypt’s Desire to Restore Relations and We Welcomed It (Alghad News). Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi said that the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq, informed him of Egypt’s desire to resume relations with Iran, and that he (Raisi) brought the matter up to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and he welcomed it. Raisi…also repeated his assurances that Saudi Arabia had asked the Chinese president to work to restore relations with Iran.
GULF REGION & YEMEN
- Iran Meets its Houthi Agents in Muscat (Mareb Press). Iranian-Houthi talks were held in the Omani capital, Muscat, on developments in Yemen…The Iranian News Agency (IRNA) stated that Foreign Minister Abd Allahian received Abd al-Salam Muhammad, the Houthi spokesman, at the Iranian embassy in Muscat, and held a round of talks with him on the situation in Yemen, without giving further details…On Tuesday, Abdullahian arrived at the head of a delegation to Muscat, the second leg of his tour in the Arabian Gulf, which he began on Tuesday with a visit to Qatar…For months, regional and international efforts have been intensifying to achieve a comprehensive political solution to the crisis in Yemen, which included visits by Saudi and Omani delegations to Sana’a, in addition to multiple UN and international moves to advance the peace process.
- Qatari Prime Minister Arrives In Moscow (Mehr News). The Russian Prime Minister discussed with his Qatari counterpart the current issues related to the Russian-Qatari economic and humanitarian cooperation. During this, special attention will be focused on the implementation of joint projects in the fields of energy, industry and agriculture…One of the main mechanisms for cooperation between the governments of Russia and Qatar is the Joint Commission on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation. On the Russian side, this committee is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak.
- Iran Agrees to Omani Initiative on Frozen Funds in South Korea (Tehran Times). Iran has agreed to an Omani offer to de-escalate tensions with the United States, according to a senior Iranian lawmaker. The Omani initiative has also gained the support of South Korea. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian is currently visiting Qatar and Oman as part of diplomatic efforts to include Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the discussions. The visit aims to enhance regional rapprochement and address common interests, including nuclear negotiations and a potential prisoner exchange deal.
- Iranian Regime Executes Kurdish Political Prisoner (Iran International). A Kurdish political prisoner, Hayman Mostafaei, was executed in Iran’s Sanandaj Central Prison. The Iranian judiciary has not yet responded to reports of the execution, which sparked a rally in front of the prison to protest the decision. Mostafaei had been accused of killing an IRGC member in 2012, but his case was marred by allegations of torture to obtain a forced confession. The execution is part of a concerning trend of increased executions in Iran, with many executed individuals accused of killing security forces while cases of security forces killing protesters remain unaddressed. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern over the rise in executions and ongoing discrimination against women and girls in Iran.
- Iran’s Nuclear Expansion: Gaining Leverage or Part Of Wider Ambition? (Iran International). Recent talks on Iran’s nuclear expansion have raised questions about whether it is a negotiating tactic or part of a broader plan. As Iran advances its program, it is expected to demand more in return for reversing its gains. Media reports suggest a limited nuclear deal may be on the horizon, with Iran capping uranium enrichment at 60 percent while the US provides some sanctions relief. However, time is running out as the expiration of clauses imposing sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program approaches. Iran continues to sell weapons to Russia, and the situation remains uncertain as the Biden administration tries to calm tensions. The future of the nuclear deal is uncertain, and Iran’s actions and economic crisis add complexity to the situation.
- Iran has Talks with EU’s Mora Amid Efforts to Save Nuclear Pact (Reuters). Iran and the European Union mediator, Enrique Mora, held a meeting in Qatar to revive the 2015 nuclear pact with world powers. Both Tehran and Washington are seeking to ease tensions and find a mutual understanding to break the deadlock. Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani described the meeting as serious and constructive, discussing various issues including negotiations on lifting sanctions…Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently expressed openness to a new nuclear deal with the West.
- Iran-China Trade Hits $6.5 Billion in Five Months (Tasnim News Agency). Trade exchanges between Iran and China in the first five months of 2023 amounted to $6.5 billion, according to China’s Customs. China’s exports to Iran during this period reached $4.6 billion, showing a 40% increase compared to the same period last year…Overall, the trade volume between Iran and China in this period remained relatively stable compared to the previous year.
- Iran Expects Big Jump in Trade with Arab States amid Détente with Saudi Arabia (Tasnim News Agency). Iranian businesses are optimistic about a potential surge in trade with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf following the recent political reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The improved relations are expected to create trade opportunities for Iranians in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a key re-exporting hub in the region. Trade between Iran and the UAE has already witnessed significant growth, reaching $3 billion in the two months leading up to late May. Additionally, Iran’s exports to Saudi Arabia have increased to around $15 million since the restoration of diplomatic relations in March, with expectations of reaching an annual trade volume of $2 billion in the near future.
- Druze Protest Turns Violent as Thousands Clash with Israeli Police in the Golan Heights (Jerusalem Post). Violent clashes erupted in the Golan Heights as thousands of Druze Israelis protested against the construction of wind turbines in the area. The protesters clashed with the police, attempting to take over a police station and throwing Molotov cocktails and stones. Police officers responded by opening fire, injuring several protesters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to meet with Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, the Druze community leader, in an effort to calm the situation. The situation has raised concerns that the Druze uprising could escalate into an Intifada, according to a local council head.
- Will the Arab Gulf States Finance Reconstruction Projects under Assad’s Authority? (Halab Today). Most Arab countries are continuing their normalization steps with the Assad regime, despite the objection of the West and a large segment of the international community, while the project led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE does not seem feasible until today to bring about any fundamental change in the Syrian file, with the continuation of the status quo.
- Kazakhstan Announced Ending Talks between Russia, Iran and Turkiye in Astana (Al Arabiya). Diplomats from the three countries met in the Kazakh capital Astana for the 20th time this week to discuss the situation on the ground, a roadmap to rebuild Turkiye-Syria ties, Israeli attacks and a host of other issues. Kazakhstan has hosted such meetings since 2017, with varying results. One of the biggest moves announced in Astana was the partition of Syrian territories into de-escalation zones overseen by different countries.But on Wednesday, Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Kanat Tumysh unexpectedly called for the conclusion of trilateral talks, saying their goal had been achieved.
- Iraq’s Debt is $116 Billion, and the 2023 Budget Depends on Foreign Loans (Iraq News). On Wednesday, Mazhar Muhammad Salih, the financial advisor to the Prime Minister, clarified the percentage of foreign loans in the Federal Budget Law and its disbursement mechanism. Saleh said in an interview that “foreign loans are for the purposes of investment projects, and they are limited in all cases, and they constitute only 20% of government investment spending in the 2023 budget, which constitutes 25% of total public spending.”
- Lebanon Turns to Europe after the Failure of its Efforts to Solve the Refugee Issue with the Assad Regime (Halab Today). The Lebanese government called on the European Union to “find a quick solution” to the Syrian refugee issue, while Beirut’s recent intensive moves to end this issue in cooperation with the Assad regime failed.
- Lebanese Political Forces Stick to their Positions as French Envoy Arrives in Beirut (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Lebanese political forces anticipated the arrival of the French presidential envoy, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to Beirut, by fixing their conditions regarding the presidential elections…the “Free Patriotic Movement” renewed its demand to cancel the candidacy of the head of the “Marada Movement” Suleiman Franjieh…while Hezbollah insisted on including Franjieh at the negotiating table, which increases the complications related to the presidential election.