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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 23, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

TURKIYE

  1. Turkiye Expects Gulf Investments After Top-Level UAE Visit (Reuters). Turkiye expects investments from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia in its energy and defense sectors following negotiations held by top Turkish economy officials in Abu Dhabi. Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek visited the UAE ahead of a potential visit by President Tayyip Erdogan. These talks signal a shift in Turkey’s economic policy towards a more orthodox approach after years of unorthodox policies that impacted the country’s economy.
  2. Türkiye to Shape Economy Policies Around Stability, Confidence, Sustainability (Anadolu Agency). Treasury and Finance minister, Mehmet Simsek, stated that Turkiye’s economic policies would prioritize stability, trust, and sustainability following the central bank’s decision to raise interest rates…The Central Bank of Turkey’s decision to raise the policy rate by 650 basis points to 15% marks its first increase in 27 months and aims to curb inflation.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1.  With Drone Strike, IDF Changes West Bank Rules in Response to Emboldened Terrorism (Times of Israel).  Israel’s recent use of air power in the West Bank after two decades of refraining from such actions indicates a shift in its approach to fighting Palestinian terror. The decision seems to respond to increased terror attacks and resistance by Palestinian armed groups. Using airstrikes and drone strikes, including an attack on a car carrying Palestinian gunmen, demonstrates Israel’s efforts to regain deterrence and prevent gunmen from fleeing after attacks. 
  2. Mahmoud Abbas’ Position Under Threat Amid West Bank Turmoil (Jerusalem Post). With renewed turmoil in the West Bank and fading hopes for a negotiated peace, uncertainty looms over the position of 87-year-old President Mahmoud Abbas. The recent violence highlighted the PA’s weakness in the face of militant groups and Israeli settlements, raising concerns about the future of Palestinian leadership. Potential successors within Abbas’ Fatah party are vying for position, while the departure of Abbas could lead to chaos or the rise of Hamas in the West Bank.
  3. Ben Gvir Overrules Police on Freezing Wind Farm Project, Despite Druze Riots (Times of Israel). Construction work on a controversial wind farm in the Golan Heights continued despite protests and rioting by Druze residents. Israel’s National Security Minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, overruled the Israel Police Commissioner’s request to freeze the project. While police initially ordered the work to stop, they later allowed it to continue. The Druze community views the wind farm as threatening their way of life and ancestral lands. 
  4. Israel Concerned About Abraham Accord States’ Ties with Iran (Jerusalem Post). Israeli diplomat Aliza Bin Noun expressed concerns about the improving relations between countries involved in the Abraham Accords and Iran. During her visit to Bahrain, she inquired about reestablishing ties with Iran and decreasing visits to Israel from Bahrain. Bahraini officials assured her that ties with Iran would not harm relations with Israel and promised more visits. The United Arab Emirates has also taken steps to improve relations with Iran, while Morocco postponed a summit due to settlement activity.
  5. Why are Golan Heights Druze Protesting Israel’s Wind Turbines Project? (Al Monitor). Frustration has escalated among the Druze community in the Golan Heights due to a wind turbine project on their land, which they perceive as another affront by Israeli authorities. Thousands of Druze protested against the project, leading to violent clashes with the police. The community fears that the turbines will disrupt their rural way of life, heritage, and health…While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has requested a temporary suspension of the project, tensions persist as the Druze community demands its complete cancellation.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Sudanese Sovereignty Council Rejects African Union Proposal to Solve the Crisis (Al Jazeera). During his meeting with writers and journalists in Egypt, Malik Agar, Vice President of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, said his country rejects the African Union initiative to solve the Sudanese crisis due to the suspension of Sudan’s membership…This comes as the Sudanese army announced on Thursday that it continued its operations in the capital, Khartoum, against the Rapid Support Forces, after the end of the three-day truce yesterday.
  2. Macron Tells Sisi France is Keen to Strengthen Cooperation With Egypt as a Major Partner (Al Ahram Online). President Emmanuel Macron assured President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi that France is keen to enhance economic cooperation with Egypt and intensify coordination between the two countries on regional and international issues…President El-Sisi is in Paris to attend the New Global Finance Compact Summit France hosts from June 22-23.
  3. Algeria Seeks to Join Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS (Tunisie Numerique). Algeria intends to join the BRICS group, which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, and has submitted a request to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as an observer…and intends to contribute to the capital of the New BRICS Development Bank.
  4. World Bank Launches New Partnership with Tunisia (African Manager). On Thursday, the World Bank Group launched a new Country Partnership Framework with Tunisia to support the government’s development plan for economic expansion. The new Collaborative Partnership Framework will last five years…Endowed with an annual envelope of 500 million dollars.

THE GULF AND YEMEN

  1. Iran’s Foreign Minister Concludes his Gulf Tour in UAE, Invites MbZ to Iran (Al Ahram Online). On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister concluded a three-day tour of neighboring Gulf Arab countries with a visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he held talks with the country’s president. Hussein Amir Abdullahian’s visit to the UAE came after stops in Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman…Amir Abdollahian had invited Sheikh Mohammed from Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to visit the country. Gulf Arab states seek to ease tensions with Iran, fueled in recent years by conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
  2. Talks in Moscow between Putin and Qatari Foreign Minister (Al Jazeera). Russian President Vladimir Putin said, at the outset of talks he held with Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani in Moscow, that his country is counting on fruitful cooperation with the State of Qatar and that there is tangible progress in this field…Putin added that the joint ministerial committee between the two countries would set broad lines for developing relations and increasing the volume of trade exchange between them.
  3. UAE and Iran Sign Air Transport Services Agreement (Al Khaleej Online). The UAE and Iran announced the signing of a bilateral agreement on expanding air transport services between the two countries, coinciding with a visit by the Iranian Foreign Minister to Abu Dhabi. And the Emirates News Agency, WAM, reported today, Thursday, that the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority signed an agreement with Iran in air transport at its headquarters in Dubai.
  1. In Cooperation With Saudi Arabia, Oman Dismantles Captagon Smuggling Network (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Cooperation with the Saudi security authorities enabled the Omani authorities to dismantle an international network smuggling large quantities of drugs in various shipments and goods through the land and sea border crossings. The seized quantity amounted to more than 6 million tablets of the drug Captagon, which were stored in various warehouses in preparation for their export in shipments and other goods.

IRAN

  1. Controversy Continues Over Fragile Tehran-Riyadh Relations (Iran International). The recent visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to Iran has sparked heated debates regarding Tehran’s ties with Riyadh. A controversy arose when the venue for their joint press conference was abruptly changed…Iranian reporters claimed that the Saudi delegation objected to a portrait of Qassem Soleimani. Critics argue that the Iranian Foreign Ministry should have anticipated Saudi sensitivities and canceled the news conference.
  2. US House Moves To Make 1996 Iran Sanctions Permanent (Iran International). The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives has unanimously passed a resolution known as the Solidifying Iran Sanctions Act of 2023 to make specific punitive measures against Iran permanent. The bipartisan bill seeks to remove the “sunset clause” in existing legislation, making sanctions against Iran permanent. The sanctions target Iran’s weapons programs, ballistic missile development, and support for terrorism…Critics argue that this move may complicate the Biden administration’s negotiations with Iran and potentially reduce sanctions. 
  3. Hamas Leader Meets Iran’s Khamenei Amid West Bank Tensions (Iran International). Hamas Political Chief Ismail Haniyeh visited Tehran and met with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei shortly after the group claimed responsibility for killing four Israelis near the West Bank settlement of Eli…Hamas described the attack as a heroic response and suggested that more actions against Israelis may follow.
  4. Iran’s Pro-Reform Camp Warns Against End to ‘Republicanism,’ Low-Turnout Polls (Amwaj Media). Prominent reformist figure and former president Mohammad Khatami has warned that Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament is targeting “republicanism” in the country. Khatami criticized a bill that would amend parliamentary election laws, claiming it would render elections meaningless and consolidate more power in the Guardian Council. Former president Hassan Rouhani also raised concerns about low-turnout elections and stressed the importance of maximum-turnout elections for problem-solving. Conservative outlets speculate that reformists are planning a political comeback in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The low voter turnout and dissatisfaction with the state of the economy have contributed to growing disillusionment with the Islamic Republic.

SYRIA

  1. Moscow: Washington is Strengthening its Military Presence in Syria (Al Hadath). The Russian President’s Special Envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, revealed that his country has information that the United States is strengthening its military forces in Syria…He added that there is information that Washington is reinforcing its military battalion in northeastern Syria and al-Tanf, according to the Russian agency “Sputnik.” 
  2. Iraqi Official Blames Assad Regime for Flooding Iraq with Captagon (Syria TV). On Wednesday, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior official hinted that the Syrian regime is responsible for manufacturing Captagon pills and turning Iraq into a country of transit and consumption.

IRAQ

  1. Iraq Returns Citizens Who Fled Towards Syria During the Battles With ISIS (Syria TV). On Wednesday, the Iraqi authorities announced the approval of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani, for the return of more than a thousand Iraqi citizens from Syria after they were forced to flee to Syrian territory during the military operations against the “Islamic State” (ISIS) in Mosul.
  2. Parliamentary Committee Says Türkiye Obstructs KRG Oil Exports for Political and Economic Reasons (Iraq News). On Thursday, a member of the Parliamentary Oil and Energy Committee, Kazem Al-Touki, revealed the reasons for disrupting the Kurdistan region’s oil exports through Jahan and said Iraq asked Turkiye to resume oil imports.

LEBANON

  1. In Pictures:  A Meeting and Hug Between Iranian and Saudi Ambassadors in Beirut (Al Nahar). The Saudi Ambassador to Beirut, Walid Bukhari, is holding a dinner under the title “Sustainable Diplomacy” this evening, to which he was invited by several ambassadors of Arab and Islamic countries, including the Iranian Ambassador, Mojtaba Amani, and the Chargé d’Affairs of the Syrian Embassy, Ali Daghman, amid expectations that this occasion will allow the discussion of the Lebanese presidential file.

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