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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 24-26, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Netanyahu:  Israeli Weapons Given to Ukraine Could Fall into Iran’s Hands (Enab Baladi). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s situation with Russia differs from that of any Western countries that support Ukraine. Netanyahu added, “We have close military borders with Russia; our pilots fly next to Russian pilots in the skies of Syria.” He also stressed the need to preserve “Israel’s freedom” to act against what he considered Iran’s attempts to position itself militarily on the borders of the northern occupied Palestinian territories with Syria. The Israeli official also expressed concerns that any systems Israel gives Ukraine will be used against the Israelis, given that they could fall into the hands of the Iranians and be used against Israel. “It has already happened with Western anti-tank weapons that we now find on our borders, so we must be cautious here.”
  2. Netanyahu’s Reason to Not Help Ukraine is ‘Complete Nonsense,’ Ukrainian Envoy Says (Jerusalem Post). Ukrainian Ambassador Yevgen Kornichuk called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reasons for not providing military assistance “complete nonsense.” Ukraine had requested defensive weapons such as anti-missile systems to protect civilian population centers. The embassy accused Israel of justifying its inaction by introducing fictional assumptions about weapons transfer to Syria and Iran. They also criticized Israel’s close relations with Russia, claiming it displayed a pro-Russian position and disregard for moral boundaries. The embassy urged Israel to change its stance and support Ukraine with defensive means.
  3. Head of US Military Cancels Trip to Israel Amid Russia Crisis (Times of Israel). General Mark Milley, the top military officer in the United States, canceled his planned trip to Israel and Jordan due to the intensifying crisis in Russia. His decision came shortly before Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, ordered his troops to retreat from their advance toward Moscow. 
  4. Ben-Gvir Tells Settlers: We Need to Kill Thousands of Terrorists (Jerusalem Post). National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has called on the Israeli government to approve the settlement of the Evyatar outpost in the West Bank…He also called for a large-scale military operation in the West Bank, advocating for the elimination of terrorists to ensure security for residents. The approval of Evyatar has been stalled despite previous agreements, and settlers are urging the government to fulfill its commitment to legalize the outpost.
  5. Netanyahu Trials: Bribery Charge to Remain Despite ‘Complexity’ – Prosecution (Jerusalem Post). The prosecution in the corruption trial against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to continue pursuing the bribery charge in Case 4000, despite concerns expressed by judges about the difficulty of proving it. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara stated that no circumstances had changed, and the prosecution would persist with the case and reject criminal arbitration. The judges reportedly suggested a plea bargain for the “good of the country.” Netanyahu faces multiple charges, including fraud, breach of trust, and bribery.
  6. Israel’s Netanyahu Briefly Freezes Golan Wind Turbine Project that Set Off Rare Clashes (Associated Press). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a temporary halt to constructing a wind turbine project in the Golan Heights following clashes between Druze residents and the police. Netanyahu agreed to pause the project during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday for negotiations. The Druze community opposes the plan, citing concerns about agricultural harm and lack of consultation. Demonstrations against the project turned violent, with residents storming a police station and engaging in various acts of vandalism. 

TURKIYE

  1. Türkiye Breaks Daily Export Record (Anadolu Agency). The trade minister of Türkiye announced that the country achieved a historic milestone in daily exports, exceeding $2.121 billion on June 23…Despite economic challenges and the Eurozone’s declining PMI, Türkiye’s exporters demonstrated strength and dynamism in achieving this milestone. 
  2. Türkiye Becomes Key Country in Balkans, Says Montenegrin Premier (Anadolu Agency). The Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazovic, praised Türkiye’s role as a “key country” in the Western Balkans and emphasized its crucial mediating role between Serbia and Kosovo. 

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Battles Rage in Sudan…and a Warning of Famine Due to The Conflict (Al Hadath). The Sudanese crisis enters a new wave of escalation and fighting amid global warnings that the country will witness major humanitarian crises. Millions of civilians continue to suffer in Khartoum and the Darfur region due to the raging war between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, where diplomatic efforts have failed to find a way out. Warplanes and machine guns shook homes again in Khartoum on Saturday as civilians hunkered inside their homes for fear of bombing. According to the United Nations, one and a half million Sudanese have left the capital since the war broke out on April 15…millions of other Sudanese who remained in the capital have been without electricity since Thursday.
  2. Torture in Tunisia…Terrifying and Expanding (Noon Post). The World Organization Against Torture has recorded an increase in cases of torture and ill-treatment during the recent period in Tunisia, especially after the dismissal of dozens of judges, according to a report in which it said that the situation in Tunisia is “alarming.” According to the report, the organization’s “Sanad” program (established in 2013) has dealt with 187 cases of torture in Tunisia since the beginning of last year, including prisoners. The organization’s deputy head, Mukhtar al-Tarifi, described the numbers as “shocking and expanding.” According to the human rights organization, types of torture in Tunisia include suspicious deaths in detention centers, which represent 8% of registered cases, administrative ill-treatment, which represent 49%, and torture and ill-treatment from the police, which represent 18%.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. Exciting Competition Between Saudi Arabia and Italy to Host Expo 2030 (Arab21). The British newspaper “Financial Times” said there is fierce and exciting competition between Saudi Arabia and Italy to win the right to host the “Expo 2030” exhibition. The newspaper stated in a report that the prolonged visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to France, followed by the visit of Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni to the same country, indicates the extent of competition between the two parties over hosting the Expo.
  2. Saudi Foreign Minister Discusses Economic Cooperation with BRICS Development Bank (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, discussed with Dilma Rousseff, President of the Development Bank of the “BRICS” group, aspects of economic and development cooperation in light of “Vision 2030”, to achieve the global sustainable development goals, during a meeting in the French capital, Paris, 
  3. Omani Economy Grew by 7.4% in First Quarter (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Oman’s gross domestic product at current prices at the end of the first quarter of 2023 increased by 7.4 percent to reach 10.4 billion Omani riyals ($27 billion), compared to the end of the first quarter of 2022, when the gross domestic product at current prices reached 9.7 billion riyals. Omani ($25.1 billion), according to preliminary data issued by the National Center for Statistics and Information in the Sultanate.
  4. Oman Ignores Yemeni Presidential Council and Concludes First Agreement with Houthi Government in Sana’a (Yemen Now). On Saturday, the Iranian-backed Houthi militia announced officially and publicly the Sultanate of Oman’s intimate relationship with it after years of Muscat providing support to the rebels in the occupied capital, Sana’a, from behind screens and away from the media. For the first time in eight years, the Houthi militia announces through the official press that it controls the holding of talks in the occupied capital, Sana’a, with Omani business people and investors about investment opportunities in the mining sector, quarries, and other sectors, through the Omani Ministry of Investment, which is considered an official recognition from Muscat with the de facto authority in Sana’a.
  5. Former US Ambassador to Israel Enumerates Three “Expensive” Demands by Mohammed Bin Salman for Normalization with Israel (CNN). The former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, enumerated 3 “expensive” demands of the Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to move forward with the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel…the Saudi crown prince is demanding a “security guarantee from the United States, such as NATO’s Article 5 commitment to Saudi Arabia, and wants the free flow of weapons, including F-35 aircraft, from the United States, and wants Washington to give the green light to an independent Saudi ability to enrich Uranium.
  6. Qatar Delivers Last Batch of Mobile Homes for Quake Victims in Türkiye (Anadolu Agency). Qatar has announced that it has completed the delivery of 10,000 fully furnished mobile homes to Türkiye and Syria, intended for the victims of the earthquake disaster that occurred on February 6. The mobile homes arrived in Hatay in southern Türkiye and were part of Qatar’s pledge to assist the affected communities. 

IRAN

  1. Iran Discusses Foreign Interference in Russia after Wagner Mutiny (Tasnim News Agency). Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian expressed support for the rule of law in Russia and condemned foreign interference in countries’ internal affairs during a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Amirabdollahian considered the developments in Russia as an internal matter and expressed confidence in the country’s ability to overcome the situation. Lavrov emphasized the importance of imposing the rule of law in Russia and discussed the need to pursue bilateral agreements between Russia and Iran. The Wagner mutiny, led by the Wagner Group, lasted for a day and involved the group’s attempt to advance towards Moscow, described by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a betrayal and act of treason.

SYRIA

  1. Russian Warplanes Kill 9 Civilians in Idlib (Syria TV). 9 civilians were killed, and more than 30 others were injured as a result of Russian warplanes targeting a vegetable market in the city of Jisr al-Shughur, west of Idlib. Syria TV correspondent reported that the Russian raids targeted a gathering point for trucks loaded with vegetables at ten o’clock this morning in the new al-Hal market in the city of Jisr al-Shughour. 
  2. Syrian Alawite Dissident Claims the Russians Bombed Qardaha (Orient). After drones targeted the city of Qardaha, the Assad News Agency claimed that it came from the opposition areas in northern Latakia, but a Syrian dissident from the Alawite sect…Firas Saad said in a post on his Facebook page that he had obtained information…that those who bombed the outskirts of Qardaha were the Russians themselves, with the knowledge and cooperation of a side from the heart of the regime and in coordination with the Iranians….According to Saad, the source said this operation, like previous operations, occurred because the regime and its allies were sure of the possibility of an Alawite uprising against the regime.
  3. Turkiye Sets 4 Conditions for Normalization with Assad, Including a New Constitution (Orient). Turkish media revealed some of what happened in the recent Astana meeting on Syria, in which Ankara stipulated several conditions for the Assad regime to normalize relations between the two countries, foremost among them making fundamental amendments to the constitution that would move the political process in the country. The conditions are: Carrying out a constitutional amendment; holding fair elections in the country that will result in a legitimate government; ensuring the safe return of refugees; and cooperating in combating SDF and PKK militia terrorism.

IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Central Bank Sold More than $1.2 Billion to Banks of Influential Parties in Last Week’s Dollar Auction (Iraq News). During five days of dollar auctions last week, the Central Bank sold $1,200,447,100…up by 20.91% from what was recorded the week before….During the past week, foreign remittances amounted to $1,073,970,100, an increase of 80.5% compared to cash sales, which amounted to $209,470,000. Experts explained that the sales went in cash and transfers abroad to finance foreign trade. At the same time, the selling price of documentary credits and international settlements for electronic cards amounted to 1305 dinars per dollar, while the selling price of remittances abroad and the cash sale price amounted to 1310 dinars per dollar.
  2. Kurdish Political Source Says Erdogan Ordered Barzani to Hand Over the Oil File to the Iraqi Federal Government (Iraq News) An informed Kurdish political source revealed on Saturday that the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masrour Barzani, agreed to hand over the region’s oil to the federal government, specifically the National Oil Company. The source stated that Barzani “agreed to hand over the region’s oil file to the federal government because Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told him during Barzani’s recent visit to Ankara that he would only deal with Baghdad, and that would be among the agendas of Erdogan’s visit to Iraq on June 25.”
  3. Iraq’s Oil Exports to China are Declining as Beijing Increases its Imports from Iran (Iraq News). Chinese customs data showed, on Saturday, a decline in the percentage of Iraqi oil’s acquisition of all China’s imports of crude oil for May 2023, to reach only 9%, after it was 11% in the previous months.

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