May 19, 2023
- Turkey Lashes Out at US Over Warship Anchored in Cyprus (Al Monitor). In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry accused Washington of disrupting the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean. “The steps taken in the region by the US which disrupt the balance at the expense of the Turkish Cypriot side damage [United States’s] long-standing neutral position”…The US destroyer USS Arleigh Burke is docked at Cyprus’ main Limassol port, according to The Associated Press.
- Kilicdaroglu Courts Anti-Refugee Vote with Dubious Claim of ’10 Million’ Migrants (The New Arab). Turkish opposition presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu has made an anti-migrant video in the run-up to the second round of presidential elections on 28 May. He accused the government of incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of allowing “10 million” refugees into the country… The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says there are around 3.9 million refugees in Turkey, 3.5 million of whom have fled the conflict in neighboring Syria.
- Secret Documents Unveil Multi-Million Dollar Contracts Between Iranian Communications and Chinese Contractors (Iran International). Confidential documents leaked from the Iranian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology revealed that it had signed contracts for projects and plans with Chinese contractors, with financing amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars…The documents also contain details about projects to enhance telephone networks and develop fourth and fifth-generation mobile communication infrastructures. Additionally, they include three space projects involved in producing smartphones and messaging applications.
- Regime Politicians In Iran Wrangle Ahead Of 2024 Parliamentary Vote (Iran International). Ten months ahead of parliamentary elections in Iran, the ‘reformist’ and centrist factions of the regime are already concerned about an electoral purge…Hardliners, who packed the parliament in 2020 with help from the Guardian Council, which barred most other candidates, are seen as determined to hold on to power.
- Iran Sends Stern Warning to Taliban Over Water Share (Tasnim News). Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi cautioned the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan that they will have to accept the consequences of their failure to provide Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Balouchistan with its share of water from the Helmand River.
- Iran Rejects Claims on Azeri Nationals Arrested in Azerbaijan (Mehr News). The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry roundly dismissed any connection between Iran and the Azeri nationals recently arrested on a charge of links with Iranian organizations…The Azerbaijan Republic’s interior ministry, security service, and the office of the prosecutor general said in a joint statement on Tuesday that at least nine Azeri nationals have been arrested, suspected of being “linked to Iranian secret services and of plotting a coup and assassinations.”
- Don’t Let Us Die, Plead ‘Esfahan House’ Prisoners Facing Execution (Iran International). Three political prisoners on death row in Iran have written from jail urging the people to stop their execution.
- Iran Nears 70% Inflation, Marking Highest Rate in Half a Century (Iran International). The “Aku Iran” website announced, quoting an “informed source” in the Central Bank of Iran, that inflation in April reached about 69%, recording the highest rate of inflation during the past half century in Iran. This follows a recent shift in practice by the Central Bank and the Iranian Statistical Center, which have adopted a new method for disseminating inflation data in the country without providing additional details about the inflation rates.
ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
- Israel Signs its First Sale of Artillery Systems to the Netherlands (Times Of Israel). The European country will buy 20 PULS weapons produced by Elbit; Yoav Gallant says the deal ‘strengthens ties, improves Israel’s standing in the world’
- Israeli Ministers and Knesset Members Lead Extremists in Al-Aqsa and “Flags March” (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Israeli extremists escalated tensions to an unprecedented level on “Jerusalem Day,” a day marking the “unification” of the city, referring to the occupation of its eastern part in June 1967. The day saw ministers and Knesset members engage in a mass intrusion of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Concurrently, a vast flag march commenced with thousands of participants starting in the early morning. These individuals, scattered across the city and the Old City, carried Israeli flags and performed dances in a manner seen as provocative.
- Netanyahu says he made sure Flag March went ahead ‘because of the threats’ (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that he made sure the Flag March in the Old City of Jerusalem today went ahead to send a message that Israel would not back down due to threats. “Despite the threats, and I’ll tell you, because of the threats, I instructed to hold the Flag March with its many participants on its original path,” Netanyahu said at an event in Ammunition Hill marking Jerusalem Day. Netanyahu said that the recent conflict with Gaza sent a message “not just to them, but to other places in the region, who are looking at the impressive operational abilities of the State of Israel.”
- Sudan Doctors Committee: The Death Toll from the Conflict in West Darfur Has Risen to 500 (Al-Arabyia). The situation of health facilities in Sudan is deteriorating…60 hospitals are completely or partially out of service.
- Heavy Weapon Clashes in Khartoum: UN Delivers Shocking Estimates on Humanitarian Situation (Al Jazeera). Local Sudanese sources reported that an explosion shook the center of the capital, Khartoum, on Thursday morning, causing plumes of smoke to rise from the scene. This incident coincides with United Nations estimates that over half Sudan’s population requires humanitarian aid…Meanwhile, the Sudan Doctors Committee announced that the death toll from the clashes had escalated to 833, with more than 3,300 people injured.
- Assad Visits Saudi Arabia to Participate in the Arab Summit (Enab Baladi). On Thursday, May 18, the Syrian regime’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, traveled to Saudi Arabia. This visit marks his first since the onset of the Syrian revolution 2011. As the official Syrian News Agency (SANA) reports, Assad is set to partake in the 32nd session of the Arab Summit, hosted by the Kingdom on Friday…Reports suggest that Assad may propose Damascus as the host city for the next Arab Summit.
- Syria’s Assad Heads to Saudi Arabia Seeking Financial Incentives at Arab Summit (Al Monitor). Syrian President Bashar al-Assad left for Saudi Arabia Thursday in what will publicly mark his most triumphant moment on the Arab stage since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011. The visit, Assad’s return and participation in the Arab League has been met with US scrutiny and skepticism over what Damascus can offer.
- EU Introduces New Guidelines for Sanctions Exemptions in Syria (Syria TV). The new guidelines state that specified categories of humanitarian operators no longer need prior authorization from the competent European Union authorities to provide funds or economic resources intended for humanitarian purposes to designated persons and entities.
- Cavusoglu: Roadmap Developed to Bolster Relations with the Syrian Regime (Syria TV). Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attributed the migration of Syrians to Turkey to factors such as the halt of the political process, the Islamic State (ISIS), and the presence of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northeastern Syria. He also unveiled a roadmap aimed at strengthening relations with the Syrian regime.
- American Faces Trial For Supporting the ‘Al-Nusra Front’ in Syria (Enab Baladi). An American court in San Antonio has initiated the trial of a U.S. citizen accused of conspiring to fund “terrorist activities” in Syria…Prosecutors charged 64-year-old Imad al-Din Wadi with attempting to divert funds from an export company to the “Al-Nusra Front” organization in Syria. He could face a sentence of up to 20 years if found guilty. He was also charged with conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people and damage property in another country, which carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment.
- Central Bank Governor Crisis: Calls for Resignation Persist as Questions of Integrity Surround His ‘Cold-Tempered’ Stance (Al Nahar). The political sphere is embroiled in controversy over how to resolve the crisis surrounding the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, especially in light of French involvement and repeated calls for his resignation from various factions. In this context, informed sources from the Banque du Liban told “An-Nahar” that “the Governor’s resignation before the end of his term is not on the table”…It is expected that the Lebanese judiciary will be notified through Interpol of an international arrest warrant issued against the governor by a French investigating judge.
- Amnesty International Raises Concern Over Forcible Deportation of UAE Citizen (New Arab). Amnesty International has called on the UAE to ensure the safety and fair treatment of Khalaf al-Rumaithi, a Turkish-Emirati citizen who was forcibly deported from Jordan to the UAE. In a statement on Thursday, the rights group emphasised the need to protect al-Rumaithi from torture and ill-treatment, and to guarantee that any retrial he may face adheres to international fair trial standards.
THE GULF REGION & YEMEN
- Washington Pushing for Saudi-Israel Normalisation ‘Before 2024 Presidential Election’ (New Arab). The White House is hoping to strike a deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel before President Joe Biden devotes his energy towards his 2024 re-election campaign, according to officials.
- Arab Leaders Flock to Jeddah to Participate in Arab Summit (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Many Arab leaders began arriving in Jeddah today, Thursday, to participate in the 32nd session of the Arab League Council at the summit level. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was the first to arrive.
- Global Wealthy Targeted in Intensifying Competition Between Saudi Arabia and UAE (The New Arab). The Gulf countries are witnessing great competition to attract the capital of the world’s wealthy, especially between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which offer considerable incentives to lure investors. With more than 68,400 millionaires and 15 billionaires, the Emirate of Dubai occupies the leading position in the Arab world and regionally for cities that are a destination for the residents of the world’s wealthy amid increasing indications of fierce Saudi competition to attract massive capital in the tiny emirate to the cities of the Kingdom.
- UAE Condemns the Storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque (Sky News). On Thursday, the UAE strongly condemned the storming of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by a member of the Israeli government, members of the Knesset, and extremists, under the protection of the Israeli police. In a statement, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed the UAE’s firm position on the need to provide complete protection for Al-Aqsa Mosque and stop serious and provocative violations.
- Morocco’s Parliament Forms ‘Moroccan-Israeli Friendship’ Group (New Arab).Most of the political parties in the country have switched to a normalisation-friendly policy since Rabat joined the Abraham Accords late in 2020.
- Former Kurdish Parliamentarian Says There are 41 Turkish Military Bases in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (Al Iraq News). The former Kurdish representative, Ghaleb Muhammad, revealed the number of Turkish military bases in northern Iraq. Muhammad said in a press interview: “There are 41 military bases in the Kurdistan region spread out in the governorates of Dohuk and Erbil.”
- Iran, the Popular Mobilization Militia, Turkiye, and the Weakness of Al-Sudani are Behind Iraq’s Water Scarcity (Al Iraq News). Dozens of Iraqi parliamentarians called on the parliament speaker to hold an “extraordinary” session in the presence of the relevant ministers to discuss Iraq’s water scarcity crisis as a result of Iran and Turkiye cutting off water, along with the weakness of Prime Minister Sudani in the face of this dangerous issue.
- KRG Delegation to Visit Iran to Boost Trade Ties (Bas News). A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation is due to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran at the end of May to meet with government officials to strengthen bilateral trade relations… Trade volume between Iraq and neighboring Iran stand at $12 billion, and between Erbil and Tehran at $4 billion.
- Iraqi Politicians Express Concern Over al-Sadr’s Endorsement of a ‘Hot Summer.’ (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Iraqi sources have reported that leaders within the governing “coordination framework” suspect that the ongoing protests sweeping through cities in central and southern Iraq are affiliated with, or supported by, the “Sadr movement,” led by Muqtada al-Sadr.
- Amnesty International Says Ghannouchi Sentencing Signifies Aggressive Crackdown on Tunisia’s Opposition (The New Arab). Amnesty International has raised concerns over the intensifying crackdown on dissidents and critics of Tunisian President Kais Saied following a Tunisian court’s decision to sentence opposition figure Rached Ghannouchi to prison under the country’s anti-terrorism law.