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THE EARLY PHOENIX – June 30, 2023

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TOP HEADLINES:

IRAN

  1. US Iran Envoy Robert Malley Reportedly Leaving Post (Iran International). Iran International has learned that US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley is no longer active and his deputy has assumed his duties at the State Department…According to information obtained, Abram Paley is being presented as the Acting US Special Envoy for Iran in recent meetings within the State Department…When contacted for a statement on Mr. Paley’s new title, the US State Department replied: “We decline to comment.”
  2. Tehran Says it Welcomes Restoration of Ties with Egypt, Morocco (Tehran Times).  Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian expressed Iran’s desire for good relations with Egypt and Morocco while expressing concern over the ongoing civil war in Sudan. He emphasized the importance of unity among Islamic countries and highlighted the significance of the Hajj pilgrimage in addressing issues relevant to the Islamic world. Abdollahian also mentioned the restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia and stressed the need for Muslim nations to work together to counter conspiracies aimed at dividing them. 
  3. Tehran Takes Canada to Top UN Court for Breaching Iran’s State Immunity (Tehran Times). Iran has initiated legal proceedings against Canada at the International Court of Justice, accusing Canada of breaching Iran’s state immunity by wrongly designating it as a sponsor of terrorism. Iran is seeking a court order to compel Canada to stop violating its sovereign immunity and prevent future breaches of international law…Canada has been accused of violating international law by court rulings that ordered Iranian assets to be handed over to victims of attacks allegedly backed by Iran.
  4. Europeans Plan To Keep Ballistic Missile Sanctions On Iran After Expiration of UN Sanctions (Iran International). European diplomats have informed Iran that they plan to maintain EU ballistic missile sanctions, set to expire in October, despite the collapse of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The decision to retain the sanctions is motivated by concerns over Russia’s use of Iranian drones against Ukraine, the potential transfer of ballistic missiles from Iran to Russia, and Iran’s nuclear deal violations. European powers aim to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, despite the diminishing effectiveness of the nuclear deal.
  5. Mossad Kidnapped Terror Leader From Inside Iran to Thwart Cyprus Attack (Jerusalem Post). The Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, confirmed that it had kidnapped an Iranian terror mastermind, Yusef Shahabazi Abbasalilu, from within Iranian territory as part of a daring mission to thwart a terror plot in Cyprus. Abbasalilu provided detailed information during his interrogation, exposing the terror cell and its plans. The Mossad shared this information with Cypriot authorities, leading to the arrest of other cell members. Israel and Cyprus have previously cooperated to prevent Iranian attacks against Israelis, and Mossad vows to continue thwarting Iran’s harmful intentions worldwide.

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1.  Dozens of Israeli Air Force Vets Threaten Not to Serve After Netanyahu Resumes Judicial Overhaul (Associated Press). Dozens of Israeli air force reservists have threatened to refuse duty if the country’s government proceeds with a plan to overhaul the judiciary, granting it more power. The reservists believe such legislation would undermine democracy and give the government unlimited power. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant criticized the threats, stating they undermine the army’s values and the state’s security.
  2. Blinken Says West Bank Unrest Makes Israel-Saudi Deal Much Tougher, If Not Impossible (Times of Israel). US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern that the ongoing unrest in the West Bank is making US efforts to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia much more difficult, if not impossible. He warned that instability in the West Bank would hinder the deepening contracts and the expansion of normalization efforts. Blinken also emphasized that it is not in Israel’s interest to escalate, as it would complicate normalization and have practical consequences.
  3. Netanyahu Rules Out Giving Ukraine Iron Dome Anti-Missile System (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out supplying Ukraine with the Iron Dome missile defense system, citing concerns that the technology could fall into Iranian hands and be used against Israel. Netanyahu emphasized the importance of preventing Israeli systems from being reverse engineered and used against Israel. He highlighted the success of Iron Dome in intercepting missiles aimed at populated areas and expressed the potential danger if the system were to fall into Iranian possession. Israel has provided Ukraine with a rocket and attack drone alert system but has hesitated to supply missile interceptor capabilities due to strategic considerations and concerns about antagonizing Russia.
  4. President Herzog to Address Joint Session of US Congress Next Month (Jerusalem Post). Israeli President Isaac Herzog is set to address a joint session of the US Congress on July 19 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Israeli statehood. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy expressed his honor to host Herzog, highlighting the significance of the US-Israel bond. Herzog is also expected to meet with US President Joe Biden during his visit to Washington. Although Biden has not invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House, security and intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel remains ongoing.

TURKIYE

  1.  President Erdoğan Denounces Desecration of Quran in Sweden (Daily Sabah). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the burning of the Quran in Sweden and extended his Eid al-Adha greetings to Muslims worldwide. He expressed his determination to teach Western entities that insulting Muslims is not freedom of thought and vowed to react strongly until a decisive fight against terrorist organizations and enemies of Islam is undertaken. The Swedish appeals court recently overturned a ban on Quran-burning protests, stating that the police had no legal grounds to prevent such actions.

EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA

  1. Tunisia Grapples With Bankruptcy to Avoid Destabilizing the Country (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Tunisian economy has suffered repeated blows since the 2011 uprising, and deadly attacks by militants in 2015 hit the vital tourism sector, while the “Covid” pandemic caused the economy to contract by 8.8 percent. Drought also devastated agriculture, exacerbating the trade deficit. External borrowing needs for this year are expected to be more than $5 billion.
  2. Egypt Approves New Budget with $97B Stimulus and $29B Deficit (Al Khaleej). The Egyptian Ministry of Finance confirmed that the new fiscal year 2023-2024 budget is more stimulating for economic recovery, as its expenditures amounted to about 3 trillion pounds (about 97 billion dollars), compared to 2.1 trillion pounds in revenues (about 67.9 billion dollars). This means that the budget deficit is approximately $29 billion.
  3. UN Says 2.1 Million Displaced Inside Sudan and Half a Million Fled to Neighboring Countries (Al Jazeera). The United Nations said that the number of displaced people inside Sudan due to the conflict between the army and the Rapid Support Forces had reached more than 2.1 million people; Since the outbreak of the competition on April 15, 1.4 million people have fled the capital, Khartoum. The United Nations added that over 560,000 people had crossed the border into neighboring countries, mainly Egypt, Chad, and South Sudan. 
  4. EU Pressures Tunisia to Stem Flow of Mediterranean Migrants (The New Arab). European Union leaders are set to discuss in Brussels on Thursday ways to squeeze aid to Tunisia to stop migrant boats leaving for Europe…The discussion comes two weeks after a boat believed to be carrying hundreds of migrants sank off Greece in one of the worst tragedies in years.

GULF REGION & YEMEN

  1. UAE Summons Swedish Ambassador to Protest Against Qur’an Burning in Sweden (Sky News Arabia). The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Sweden’s ambassador to the UAE, Liselotte Anderson. It informed her of the state’s strong protest and condemnation of the Swedish government’s allowing extremists in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, to burn a copy of the Holy Quran…The Swedish ambassador was also informed of the Emirati Foreign Ministry’s protest against Sweden’s evasion of its international responsibility and lack of respect for social values, stressing the importance of monitoring hate speech and racism that negatively affect the achievement of peace and security.
  2. Saudi Arabia Will Not Allow Israeli Representatives to Attend September UNESCO Meetings in the Kingdom (Al Ghad News). Saudi Arabia has so far refused to sign a document under which it commits itself to allow all members of UNESCO, including representatives of Israel, to attend the meetings of the World Heritage Committee scheduled for the Kingdom next September…Saudi Arabia is cautious about general steps that could be considered normalization with Israel.

SYRIA

  1. UN General Assembly Expected to Vote on Authorizing Institution to Address Missing Detainees in Syria (Ronahi TV). The United Nations General Assembly will vote today…to establish an institution that is the first of its kind to work on revealing the fate of the missing or forcibly disappeared during the life of the crisis…This vote comes from intense pressure exerted by the families of the lost, along with groups and organizations, to open this file and reveal the fate of the lost and forcibly disappeared in Syria since 2011..
  2. Russia Announces it Bombed Idlib–and Will Continue to Do So (Ronahi TV). On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it will continue airstrikes in Syria until the elimination of what it described as “militants.”…The Russian Reconciliation Center said that Russian warplanes carried out strikes on a facility in the Sharjah area of Idlib on June 27, which resulted in the destruction of the facility and a warehouse of weapons and ammunition and the killing of 18 personnel.
  3. UN Security Council Holds Session on Political and Humanitarian Developments in Syria (Syria TV). On Thursday, the UN Security Council will hold a consultation session on the political and humanitarian developments in Syria, including two briefings by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, and the Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths…This meeting will be the last for the Security Council regarding Syria before the expiry of Resolution 2672 of last January 9, regarding the extension of the authorization for the entry of humanitarian aid into Syria across the borders until next July 10.
  4. Sweden Pays Half a Million Euros to Contribute to Eliminating Assad’s Chemical Weapons (Orient). The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced that Sweden had contributed about half a million euros to the trust fund for the organization’s Syrian missions and technical assistance to Ukraine on protection against chemical accidents…The organization stated in a statement that this contribution would be used to eliminate the chemical weapons program of the Assad regime, as well as to establish facts related to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Chemical Weapons Convention and relevant Security Council resolutions.

IRAQ

  1. Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Lead New Military Operation to Hunt Down ISIS in Kirkuk (Al Hadath). On Thursday, the Iraqi News Agency reported that a military operation was launched in Kirkuk, in the north of the country, to hunt down ISIS elements…The agency stated that the process was undertaken, led by the northern axis of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, on the outskirts of the Dibis district of Kirkuk Governorate…It quoted Abu Thaer al-Bashiri, deputy commander of operations for PMF affairs, saying that the military operation aims to pursue the remnants of ISIS.

LEBANON

  1. Food Prices in Lebanon are Now the Most Expensive in the World (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lebanon advanced to first place during the first four months of this year in the list of actual inflation, as the rate of change in food prices reached 81 percent, compared to 35 percent for Venezuela and 31 percent for Zimbabwe. Lebanon recorded the second highest nominal inflation rate in food prices around the world, measured by the annual rate of change until the end of last May, while cumulative inflation exceeded the level of 4250 percent during the years of continuous economic collapse, noting the tendency of the monthly general price index to be relatively calm, due to the “circumstantial” stability of the price of the national currency, close to 93,000 pounds to the dollar.
  2. For the Second Time in a Month, IMF warns of Lebanon’s Worsening Currency Crisis (Sky Business News Arabia). With the Lebanon crisis still unresolved, the International Monetary Fund issued Thursday a report saying that the financial situation in Lebanon was exacerbated by the failure to take measures related to politics and private interests, which led to resistance to reforms…The fund said that the delay in reforms has led to a decrease in foreign currency deposits, which can eventually be recovered when the banking sector is restructured…And that $10 billion less can now be retrieved than in 2020.

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