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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 27, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

Turkiye

  1. Erdogan Says Sweden Must Ban PKK Rallies to Enter NATO (Hurriyet). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has emphasized to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Sweden must end demonstrations and activities by PKK members and sympathizers on its soil if it wants to join NATO. During a phone conversation, Erdoğan and Stoltenberg also discussed developments in Russia and expressed the hope that these developments would contribute to a just peace in Ukraine. They also touched upon Turkiye’s attempt to purchase F-16s from the United States, stressing that associating this issue with Sweden’s NATO membership would harm NATO’s security.
  2. Turkish Intelligence ‘Neutralizes’ 11 PKK/YPG Terrorists in Northern Syria (Anadolu Agency). Turkish intelligence forces have successfully “neutralized” 11 terrorists affiliated with the PKK/KCK-PYD/YPG in northern Syria near the Turkish border. The Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) conducted simultaneous operations in the Manbij region, targeting the YPG/PKK camp. The operations were carried out after careful reconnaissance and coordination with the Turkish Armed Forces. Turkiye has been conducting successful anti-terror operations in northern Syria since 2016 to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and ensure the local population’s safety. The PKK has been involved in a decades-long terror campaign, causing the loss of thousands of lives.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1.  Rocket Fired from West Bank at Israel for First Time in 18 Years (Jerusalem Post). A missile was fired from Jenin towards Israel but exploded in Palestinian territory without causing any harm to Israelis or Israeli locations. Israeli forces arrived at the scene to investigate the incident, and searches were conducted, but no arrests have been reported yet. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) stated that the incident is under review without providing further details on the perpetrators or future preventive measures. This incident follows recent concerns raised by Israeli security officials about Palestinian efforts to acquire rockets in the West Bank.
  2. IDF Says Drone ‘Fell’ Over Lebanon; Hezbollah Claims it Shot it Down (Times of Israel). An Israeli military drone crashed in southern Lebanon, and the Hezbollah terror group claimed responsibility for shooting it down. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that the drone fell during routine surveillance activity but did not provide further details on the cause of the crash. The IDF assured that there was no risk of intelligence being compromised. Tensions have been high on the Israel-Lebanon border recently, with clashes between Israeli troops and Lebanese rioters and the presence of armed Hezbollah posts in Israeli territory.
  3. U.S. to Test its Palestinian Dual-Nationals’ Israeli Access in July (Reuters). The United States plans to test Palestinian Americans’ freedom of travel in Israel next month to prepare for proposed U.S. visa exemptions for Israelis. Israel aims to be admitted to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by October. It must demonstrate unrestricted access for Palestinian Americans at Israel’s border and the occupied West Bank. A pilot program will be launched mid-July, monitoring Palestinian-American travel through Ben-Gurion Airport and West Bank checkpoints. This move could add pressure amid ongoing violence and strained Israeli-Palestinian relations.
  4. Smotrich Urges Netanyahu to Oppose US Return to ‘History-Distorting’ UNESCO (Times of Israel). Finance Minister Argues Washington’s Move is Based on Consent of Previous Israeli Government, ‘Does Not Reconcile in Any Way’ with Current Leadership’s Policies. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has urged the government to formally object to the United States’ intention to rejoin UNESCO. Smotrich argues that Israel must take a public stand against the return of the US to the organization, citing UNESCO’s “history-distorting” nature and previous anti-Israel bias. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from UNESCO in 2017, but the current administration aims to rejoin to counter China’s growing influence within the organization. Israel, which left UNESCO in 2019, had previously indicated to the US that it would not oppose its efforts to rejoin.
  5. Israel Advances Plans for 5,700 West Bank Homes Despite US Objections (Reuters). Israel’s government has approved the construction of 5,700 additional housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, despite pressure from the United States to halt settlement expansion seen as an obstacle to peace with Palestinians. The decision, made by Israel’s Supreme Planning Council, covers various areas of the West Bank and has been praised by Jewish settler leadership. 

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Why Did the Gulf States Withdraw their Support for Egypt? These are the Most Important Reasons (Al Ghad News). The Spanish newspaper “Atlayar” reported the effects of the Gulf countries ending subsidies and potential investments in the Egyptian economy…the Gulf countries expect a mutual economic relationship from Cairo, in contrast to its previous position, which was focused on injecting support and aid into Egypt’s economy. This means that the Gulf countries are more interested in sending investments that have long-term benefits. Currently, the region’s countries have decided to focus more on their investments and are more interested in investments in East Asia, specifically China. They are expected to invest between $1 and $2 trillion in the Far East over the next five years, with China accounting for most of the investment.
  2. Russia Intends to Establish Broader Contacts With Libya (Libya Akhbar). The new Russian ambassador to Libya, Aidar Aghanin, confirmed that the Russian diplomatic presence in Libya has fully returned, indicating that the Russian embassy in the capital, Tripoli, will work to strengthen friendly relations with Libya…Aghanin said that security conditions have now become much better, there are no military actions, and the country has practically moved into a stage of peaceful development, where differences between Libyan politicians are being settled through dialogue.
  3. Bloody Battle in Khartoum Over Police Headquarters as Jeddah Negotiations are Postponed Until After Eid Al Adha (Al Hadath). On Monday, Sudan witnessed a new day of escalation and fighting between the two parties to the conflict amid international warnings of humanitarian crises that may afflict the Sudanese people. At least 14 people were killed in battles around the police headquarters in Khartoum, which may change the control of the Rapid Support Forces…On the political track, the Rapid Support Forces announced Monday that negotiations with the Sudanese army delegation in Jeddah would be postponed until after Eid al-Adha…The Rapid Support Forces said, “The delay in negotiations came due to the army’s lack of seriousness and commitment to previous truces.”

THE GULF

  1. Qatar Seeks to Mobilize Support in Tripoli for Libyan Elections (Al Khaleej Online). Qatari Ambassador to Libya Khaled Al-Dosari discussed with the head of the Libyan Electoral Commission, Imad Al-Sayeh, the parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of 2023, which are expected to represent a solution to the power struggle crisis…the meeting “reviewed several files related to the electoral issue, and the importance of Arab and regional countries’ support for the upcoming Libyan elections, as it reflects on the peace and stability of the Arab region.”
  2. Iran:  Preparations to Open Saudi Embassy and Consulate Soon (Al Khaleej Online). Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday that preparations had been made to reopen the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and the Consulate General in Mashhad…Iran officially reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia on June 6, followed by reopening its consulate in Jeddah, about three months after announcing the agreement to resume relations between Tehran and Riyadh, with Chinese mediation, after a 7-year rupture.

IRAN

  1. Iranian President Expresses Full Support for Putin over Wagner Munity (Iran International). Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after the failed mutiny. The Iranian president expressed full support for the Russian leadership, surpassing the sentiments of Iran’s Foreign Ministry…Iranian officials expressed cautious support for Putin but criticized the alignment of Iranian interests with Russia’s internal affairs.
  2. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani highlighted the positive outlook for economic cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, stating that the future of their economic relations is bright and promising. He mentioned that the two countries have agreed to expand economic and trade interaction alongside political relations, emphasizing the existence of good frameworks for such cooperation.
  3. Iran Tells US to Change ‘Hostile Behavior’ For A Shift In Relations (Iran International). Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, stated that Iran expects a “fundamental” change in behavior from the United States before any shift in their relations can occur. He emphasized that Iran’s approach to the U.S. is based on its perceived hostile behavior and that Iran’s attitude will remain unchanged if the U.S. does not fundamentally change its behavior. While reports of secret talks and an “understanding” between Iran and the U.S. have circulated, Kanaani stated that Iran does not link its foreign policy and pursuit of national interests to any one country or issue. However, he mentioned that the U.S. should release Iranian citizens imprisoned on alleged sanctions violations, arguing that U.S. sanctions are illegal. If an interim deal is being discussed, releasing frozen funds and exchanging prisoners could potentially become entangled with the nuclear issue.

SYRIA

  1. After an Absence of 12 Years, Syria Appoints a New Ambassador to Egypt (Al Arabiya). Syria announced the appointment of Ambassador Hossam El-Din Ala as its ambassador to Egypt and delegated to the Arab League in Cairo…Ala presented his credentials as permanent representative of Syria to the League of Arab States to the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, at the League’s headquarters in Cairo on Sunday, where he stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination between Syria and the League of Arab States in facing the challenges and threats facing the Arab countries and the region, noting that the return of Syria to Its seat in the Arab League will contribute to strengthening Arab cooperation.
  2. Bashar Al Assad Meets the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister in Damascus (Syria TV ). On Monday, the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin in Damascus, a day after Russian airstrikes on Idlib governorate…The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Syrian government said that Bashar al-Assad held political discussions with Vershinin on relations between the two countries and coordination between them, especially in light of recent developments, in addition to issues of combating terrorism and joint efforts in the file of the return of Syrian refugees to their country.
  3. UK Says Assad Regime Uses Drugs As a Weapon to Achieve Political Gains (Syria TV). The British Foreign Office said on Monday that the Syrian regime is using drugs as a weapon to achieve political gains, pointing to the continuation of measures against the regime involved in the production and trade of Captagon in Syria…On the occasion of the International Day for Combating Drugs and Drug Trafficking, which falls on June 26, the United Kingdom affirmed its continuation of taking measures against the Syrian regime, which is involved in drug production and trafficking in Syria and the region…The Foreign Ministry pointed out that the Syrian regime used drug production and smuggling as a weapon to obtain political gains.

IRAQ

  1. Tehran Holds Baghdad Responsible for Preventing Armed Groups from Attacking Iran from Northern Iraq (Elaph). Iran held Iraq responsible for the security of the common border and the implementation of their security agreement, which states that armed groups will not be allowed to use its northern lands to launch any cross-border attacks on its territory…The official spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanaani, said during a press conference in Tehran today that it is based on the good neighborly relations between Iran and Iraq and the security agreement between the two sides.
  2. Pro-Iran Political Bloc Calls on Prime Minister Sudani to Investigate Masrour Barzani’s Visit to Israel (Iraq News).On Monday, the leader of the Al-Fateh Alliance, Hamid al-Moussawi, called on the concerned authorities to ensure the authenticity of the visit of the head of the regional government, Masrour Barzani, to the Zionist entity in an unannounced visit. He communicated with the Zionist entity for any public or legal figure, regardless of location, calling on the concerned authorities to “ensure the validity of the visit of the Prime Minister of the Region, Masrour Barzani, to the Zionist entity.”

LEBANON

  1. Lebanese Presidential File is on Compulsory Holiday Until After Eid (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The file of the presidential elections in Lebanon entered a forced holiday with the country entering the blessed Eid Al-Adha holiday this week. It seems clear through statements and data that the political parties are living in a state of anticipation, awaiting any external indications, especially after the French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian’s recent visit to Beirut, where he met the concerned parties and will return in  July.
  2. Lebanon’s Presidential Vacancy Will Be Prolonged, and There Will Be No President Until America Approves (Al Nahar). There is no president for the republic at this stage, and the presidential vacancy may be on an extended leave until the settlement matures at a favorable moment with international and regional consensus, especially by the pillars of the five countries. However, on the eve of Le Drian’s visit to the Lebanese capital, there was a clear American position expressed by the American ambassador, Dorothy Shea, when she called for the election of a non-corrupt president, which was explained by those familiar with the inside matters that Washington is not satisfied with the French performance.

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