ACLS

THE EARLY PHOENIX May 10, 2023

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A first look at today’s most notable stories from the Middle East, selected by ACLS experts

May 10, 2023

IRAN

    1. Exclusive: Iran’s Quds Force Media Arm Laundering Money in Iraq (Iran International). Hamid al-Husseini is an Iraqi-born Shiite cleric who heads Iraq’s section of the Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), an affiliate of the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance that is practically run by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). The union has more than 200 media outlets in 35 countries, including 100 satellite TV channels, 30 radio stations, and dozens of websites — several of which are in Iraq.
    1. Iran Issues Arrest Warrant for US Officials over Death of Soleimani (Iran International). Tehran has issued arrest warrants for former US President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and 71 others for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. Ali Salehi, Tehran’s prosecutor general, issued arrest warrants on Monday for dozens of US officials involved in the assassination, including Trump, Pompeo, and former Head of CENTCOM General Kenneth Franklin McKenzie.
    1. Iran’s Economy Hurtling Towards Hyperinflation (Iran International). After two months delay, the Iranian government has finally released inflation data for the previous year, putting it at 45.8 percent… Although the official inflation rate announced by the authorities is usually less than what it seems in the market, even 46.5 percent inflation is among the highest in Iran in more than 30 years.
    1. United Nations: Iran Has Executed More than 200 People This Year (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The United Nations estimated that the actual number of executions in Iran is higher than those monitored, primarily due to the government’s lack of transparency. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said, “On average, since the beginning of the year, over ten people have been executed weekly in Iran, making it one of the countries with the highest number of executions globally.” He further noted, “At this pace, it is alarming to see that Iran is following the same trajectory as last year when around 580 people were executed,” describing the situation as “horrific.”
    1. Raisi Applauds Resistance Front for Helping Syria to Abort US, Israeli Plots (Tehran Times). Raisi also emphasized how many nations that had previously worked together against Damascus had changed their minds about the Arab country in light of its effective resistance to the extensive campaign of terrorism supported by foreign powers. In other parts of his interview, Raisi cited statements by many U.S. officials that Washington had founded Daesh.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

    1. Operation Shield and Arrow: Schools Closed, and Shelters Opened in Southern Israel (Jerusalem Post). The “Gust of Wind” program has been activated, enabling residents of communities near the Gaza Strip to stay in guest houses across the country during escalations… In addition, a series of restrictions have been placed on communities in southern Israel for Tuesday and Wednesday following the IDF assassination of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) officials in Gaza.
    1. Netanyahu: Israel is Prepared for a Multi-front War with Iran (Jerusalem Post). “It’s clear that 95% of Israel’s security problems come from Iran,” Netanyahu said… “My instruction to the IDF and security branches is to be prepared for a multi-front campaign…If we need to, we can do it.” Netanyahu also said that Israel will do all it can to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and try to prevent Iran from “establishing terror fronts around us.”
    1. 10 Civilians, Including 4 Children, Killed in IDF Strikes that Eliminated Palestinian Islamic Jihad Brass (Times of Israel). An Israel Defense Forces spokesperson told the foreign press, “We’re aware of some collateral, and we’ll learn more as the day goes.” Briefing Israeli reporters, IDF chief spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the army knew that civilians were killed in the airstrikes but insisted that “the operation was carried out with professionalism and precision in planning and execution.”
    1. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides to Leave Post This Summer (Axios). Nides announced his departure at a time when the Netanyahu government’s controversial judicial overhaul continues to complicate the U.S.-Israel relationship. In addition, President Biden still hasn’t invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House more than four months after the Israeli leader was sworn in.
The U.S. ambassador to Israel post is one of the most sensitive and politically explosive diplomatic positions at the State Department.

SYRIA

    1. Russia Summons Assad Regime’s Defense Minister to Hmeimim Base to Celebrate Russia’s “Victory Day” (Syria TV). On Monday, the Russian forces in Syria held a military parade at the Hmeimim base in Latakia on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazism, as they summoned the Minister of Defense in the government of the regime, Mahmoud Abbas, to attend the ceremony with the governors of Latakia and Tartous.
    1.  Saudi Arabia Reopens Diplomatic Mission in Syria (Al Arabiya). Saudi Arabia has resumed its diplomatic services in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The Foreign Ministry cited the recent Arab League meetings and decisions to unfreeze Syria’s participation in conferences and organizations of the gro.
    1.  Ahead of Moscow Meeting, Assad Regime Reiterates Demand for Turkey’s Withdrawal from Syria (Syria TV). The Syrian government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that its delegation, Faisal al-Miqdad, arrived in Moscow to partake in the quadripartite meeting and bilateral discussions with the Russian and Iranian boards. The statement noted that the “Syrian delegation” will emphasize during the sessions the necessity for Turkish forces to leave Syria, the withdrawal of all illegal foreign powers, and refraining from interfering in Syrian internal affairs or supporting terrorism.
    1.  Arabs Bring Syria’s Assad Back into Fold but Want Action on Drugs Trade (Reuters). Saudi Arabia, a big market for Captagon, has proposed compensating Syria for the loss of the trade if it stops, according to a regional source close to Damascus and a Syrian source close to the Gulf with knowledge of contacts. The restricted source said Saudi Arabia had offered $4 billion – based on what Riyadh estimates the trade to be worth – and the proposal had been made during a visit to Damascus by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

GULF REGION

    1.  Saudi Arabia Establishes Air Bridge to Deliver Relief to Crisis-hit Sudan (Al Arabiya). Al Arabiya reported that the first plane carrying aid and medical equipment left Saudi Arabia Tuesday afternoon, heading for crisis-hit Sudan as part of a relief air bridge operated by the Kingdom. The military plane heading to Port Sudan carries 10 tonnes of medical equipment, shelter tents, and other forms of relief for those internally displaced after being loaded at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport.
    1.  Football Star Lionel Messi Move to Saudi Arabia a ‘Done Deal,’ Source Says (Al Arabiya). Argentine superstar Lionel Messi will play in Saudi Arabia next season under a “huge” deal, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told AFP on Tuesday.
    1.  UAE Says No Need for Additional Oil Production Cuts (Al Sharq Business). UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei expressed little concern in the short term. When asked about the necessity for “OPEC+” to approve further supply adjustments, Al Mazrouei stated, “Let’s wait; this isn’t speculation or a decision I can reveal now, but rather a collective decision.” Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco is reducing oil prices in Asia.
    1.  Iranian Army Leaders Seek to Strengthen Military Cooperation in Oman (Al Khaleej Online). During his visit to Oman, the Iranian Chief of Staff, Major General Muhammad Bagheri… described “the Arab Gulf region and West Asia as one of the most sensitive regions in the world” and added, “In recent years, this region has been a place for the Americans to test their strength as they attempt to impose themselves as absolute rulers of the world and the region.”

SUDAN 

    1.  Al-Burhan Thanks Saudis for Hosting Peace Talks but Rejects “Internationalization” of the Sudan Crisis (Al Arabiya). On Monday, the Sudanese army commander, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, said, “We refuse to internationalize our cause, and we do not want external conditions imposed on us.” However, he directed his thanks to Saudi Arabia for hosting the negotiations aimed at stopping the fighting.

EGYPT

    1.  Egypt National Dialogue Advocates for Democratic Multi-Candidate Presidential Elections (Ahram Online). The National Dialogue’s board of trustees urged all parties and entities to pave the way for a democratic atmosphere for multi-candidate presidential elections a year ahead of the country’s upcoming presidential polls.
    1.  Sisi Meets with South Sudan’s Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs (Egypt Independent). Manime handed Sisi a message from South Sudanese President Salva Kiir regarding ways to enhance the strong bilateral ties between both countries and developments in the situation in Sudan, Fahmy explained.

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