May 25, 2023
- Iranian Supreme Leader Lauds ‘Revolutionary Parliament’ for Passing Law to Boost Uranium Enrichment (Iran International). The bill authorized higher-level uranium enrichment to force the United States to lift economic sanctions imposed in 2018 when former President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA nuclear agreement. The bill also mandated restrictions on nuclear monitoring by the United Nations watchdog.
- Iran Denies Allegations of Building an Underground Nuclear Site in Zagros Mountains (Mehr News). Rejecting the allegations, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, said that the Zionists raise such claims whenever their position in the region or their internal situation is worsened.
- Israeli National Security Council: All of Iran’s Nuclear Sites Are Within Range of Our Military Capabilities (Iran International). Tzhi Hanegbi, head of the Israeli National Security Council, remarked on Iran’s underground nuclear site, “This is typical of Iran – moving facilities underground for protection. It limits our ability to strike, but nowhere is unreachable.” He added, “We hope not to use military action against Iran’s nuclear program but are ready if needed.”
- Chinese Company to Build Strategic Road between Iran and Russia (Mehr News). On Wednesday, Jilin Jinguan Electric Co Ltd, listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange, announced signing a memorandum of understanding. The agreement entails the construction of a 3500 km road between Iran and Russia, paving the way for establishing new energy facilities.
- US Denies Ties to Iranian Journalists Who Reported Mahsa Amini’s Death (Iran International). The US has denied any ties to the two journalists detained in Iran for breaking the news on how Mahsa Amini was killed in police custody…Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, the two journalists arrested for publicizing the death of Mahsa Amini, will stand trial as of May 29, according to the Judiciary Spokesman Masoud Setayeshi. One of the charges against them is collaboration with the United States, which the Islamic Regime deems as a hostile enemy. Rejecting the charges, State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said, “They are obviously not true.”
- Anti-refugee Turkish Politician Backs Kılıçdaroğlu in May 28 Runoff (Daily Sabah). Ümit Özdağ, the leader of the far-right Victory Party (ZP), Wednesday endorsed opposition candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for Sunday’s presidential runoff over Kılıçdaroğlu’s pledge to send back millions of refugees in Türkiye.
- Details Uncovered Regarding ISIS Operation Spanning Three Provinces, Based in Istanbul (Anadolu Agency). It was disclosed that individuals deemed high-ranking organization members were among the 12 suspects apprehended after technical and physical surveillance. Furthermore, these suspects were allegedly operating on behalf of the terrorist organization, according to the teams from the Istanbul Anti-Terrorism Branch.
- Ukraine Attacks Russian Warship Guarding TurkStream Pipeline (Daily Sabah). Three Ukrainian uncrewed speedboats carried out an unsuccessful attack against the Russian warship Ivan Hurs in the Black Sea near the Bosporus, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
- With Qatari Support, Turkish Interior Minister Announces Construction of Apartments for Returnees from Turkiye in Northern Syria (Syria TV). Interior Ministyer Soylu announced initiating a project to accommodate “voluntary returnees” from Turkiye. The plan, slated for completion within three years at the latest, involves the preparation of 240,000 homes to house one million individuals.
- Israeli Army Reports Drone Fired Upon from Syria (Sham News). The Israeli army stated on Wednesday that one of its drones, while on a reconnaissance mission, was fired upon from Syrian territory. The military added that its forces responded to the source of the fire.
- Syria’s Drug Industry Evolves Home-Based Small Networks and Hand Presses (Syria TV). Since the Assad regime regained control of the Daraa Governorate in mid-2018, the prevalence of drug presses in the region has surged. This has transformed the governorate into a hub for drug smuggling Into the Kingdom of Jordan and the Arab Gulf states and a base for local distribution and quality testing.
- Al-Hawl Camp Director: Years Needed for Dismantling, Countries Unresponsive about Citizens (Sham News). Jihan Hanan, director of the Al-Hawl camp in northeastern Syria, stated that dismantling the Al-Hawl and Roj camps would take years. She highlighted that the foreign section houses 7,700 people, 90% of whom are children. Meanwhile, statistics from the Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria indicate that only 30 countries have repatriated 400 women and over a thousand children, representing 54 different foreign and Arab nationalities.
Israel & Palestinian Territories
- Iran Suspected in Cyberattack Targeting Israeli Shipping, Financial Firms (Al-Monitor). On Tuesday, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity firm said several Israeli companies sustained a cyberattack that Iran likely orchestrated.
- U.S., Saudis List Conditions for Riyadh’s Normalization with Israel (i24). The U.S. allegedly wants Israel to halt the judicial reform and resume peace talks with the Palestinians in exchange for brokering the long-desired normalization deal with Saudi Arabia… The Saudis also present their conditions, demanding that Washington sign a bilateral defense treaty, unfreeze the weapons deals halted by the current administration, and approve Riyadh’s civilian nuclear program.
- It is Back. Netanyahu Turns to Judicial Overhaul (Ynet News). Prime minister says judicial reform legislation is back on the agenda after approval of budget gives Israeli government stability; He says he hopes compromise talks are successful but will press ahead with the overhaul no matter what; Gantz calls him power drunk.
- Hamas Upholds Executions Against Three Palestinian ‘Collaborators’ in Gaza (Al-monitor). On Tuesday, a military court affiliated with the Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip upheld the death sentences against three Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel.
NORTH AFRICA AND EGYPT
- Qatar Shifts Its Support to Egypt from Deposits to Investments (Al Sharq Business). Qatar has reaffirmed its commitment to delivering billions of dollars in pledged investments to economically struggling Egypt. However, it did not provide a timeline for these investments and emphasized that the era of aid has ended. Last March, the affluent gas-rich nation promised to supply $5 billion to the most populous country in the Arab world.
- Egypt: Decade-Long Renaissance Dam Negotiations Yield No Success (The New Arab). In a statement released on Wednesday, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed that “the Renaissance Dam negotiations have carried on for over ten years without success, devoid of any commitment or consideration by Ethiopia for the rights of the downstream countries.” The ministry urged Addis Ababa to “cease the biased reference to so-called colonial agreements, to detract from its legally signed obligations.”
- Debate In Egypt Regarding Possible Rapprochement With Iran (Memri). Since the March 10, 2023, agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume their diplomatic relations, there have been signs that Egypt may follow the Saudi example and renew its ties with Iran. According to reports, talks are currently underway between the two countries, with Iraqi mediation, similar to the six rounds of Iraqi-brokered talks held by Saudi Arabia and Iran before the signing of the agreement between them… In addition, Egypt has also announced it will allow Iranian tourists to visit the country under certain conditions.
- Iran Reduces Gas Supplies to Iraq (Iraqi News). On Tuesday, the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity announced that Iran reduced gas supplies to Iraq by about 20 million cubic meters during the past two days.
THE GULF & YEMEN
- Saudi Arabia Resumes Diplomatic Relations with Canada (Al Sharq Al Awsat). According to a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the decision follows discussions between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit…Saudi Arabia had announced at the beginning of August 2018 the freezing of all new commercial and investment transactions between the Kingdom and Canada, and that the Canadian ambassador there would be considered persona non grata…following statements “issued by the Canadian Foreign Minister and the Canadian embassy regarding civil society activists who were arrested in the Kingdom, urging authorities in the Kingdom to release them immediately.”
- Gulf Stock Exchanges Dip Amid US Debt Ceiling Crisis (The New Arab). Most Gulf stock markets closed lower on Wednesday, mirroring the trend of global stocks. The deadlock in negotiations over raising the US debt ceiling has harmed investor sentiment.
- Lebanon Agrees to ‘Dollarize’ Financial Aid Designated for Syrian Refugees (Zaman Al Wasl). This is a first in the history of Syrian asylum in Lebanon, which dates back to 2013. Previous Lebanese governments have consistently disbursed grants for Syrian refugees in Lebanese pounds, declining to provide the financial aid stipulated by the World Food Program—$27 per refugee per month—in US dollars.