May 26, 2023
- Walid Jumblatt Steps Down as Head of Druze Political Party after 46-year Tenure (Al-Nahar). Walid Jumblatt, a Druze militia leader during the Lebanese civil war turned politician, announced on Thursday he is stepping down as head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), a position he has held since 1977.
- Lebanon to Introduce Higher Denomination Banknotes as Inflation Soars (New Arab). Lebanon’s finance and budget committees approved on Tuesday a draft law allowing larger banknotes to be printed as the country continues to experience hyperinflation.
ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
- IDF Downs Drone Crossing Into Israel from Lebanon (i24). The IDF monitored the drone throughout the incident, and security forces said that any further attempt would be thwarted as they continued to prevent violations of Israeli sovereignty.
- Netanyahu Will Reportedly Seek Changes to Legal System if Overhaul Talks Fail (Times of Israel). Rather than working to ensure the government has control over the Judicial Appointments Committee, a crucial part of the government’s overhaul plans, a senior official told Channel 13 on Wednesday that Netanyahu will instead focus his attention on the two offices that play an essential role in deciding what criminal cases are opened.
- New Israeli Poll Leaves Both Blocs Unable to Form Majority Government (Jerusalem Post). A new poll published Thursday found that both the coalition and the opposition would be unable to form a majority government if elections were held today. According to the poll conducted by Panels Politics for Maariv, both the National Unity Party and the Likud would earn 27 seats each, while Yesh Atid would earn 18 seats, Shas would earn nine seats, United Torah Judaism would earn seven seats and the Religious Zionist Party, Hadash-Ta’al and Yisrael Beytenu would earn six seats each. Meanwhile, Otzma Yehudit and Meretz would earn five seats each, and Ra’am would earn four seats.
- Azerbaijan Says It Will Not Allow Israel to Attack Iran from its Territory (Tasnim News). The Republic of Azerbaijan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fariz Rzayev, said in an interview with Israeli media that Azerbaijan would not permit the Tel Aviv regime to launch an attack on Iran from its territory.
- Zelensky Urges Iranian People to Oppose Regime to Halt Drone Supplies to Russia (Iran International). In a video message, Zelensky reported that since the beginning of the war, Russia had dispatched approximately 1,600 Iranian drones toward Ukraine, with Ukrainian air defenses intercepting 900 of them. He underscored that Russia indiscriminately targets various sites, including homes, hospitals, markets, power stations, and humanitarian service centers.
- Ukraine Shoots Down 36 Iranian Drones in Fresh Russian Attack (Iran International). Ukraine said Thursday it had shot down all 36 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks probably targeting critical infrastructure and military facilities.
- Iran Unveils Unique 2000-km Precision Guided Missile (Tehran Times). The projectile, powered by liquid fuel, can carry a 1,500 kg warhead. The missile was unveiled on the 41st anniversary of the liberation of Khorramshahr. It has an extended range, advanced guidance, and control system.
- Iran is Taking New Measures to De-dollarize Transactions Among Asian Clearing Union Members (Tehran Times). The Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has been holding talks with senior banking officials from various Asian countries on the sideline of the 51st Asian Clearing Union (ACU) summit to encourage getting new members and de-dollarize the economic transactions among ACU members.
- UK Shuts Down London Islamic Center Linked to Iranian Regime (Al Arabiya). The center has yet to elucidate the reasons for this closure, and there has been no response from the Iranian authorities thus far. Previously, the Sunday Times had labeled the views of the clergy managing the center as “offensive,” alleging they incorporated the slogan “Death to Britain” in their sermons…The center is headed by the cleric Hashem Mousavi, who was appointed to the post by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
- Iran Says Syria Is Not Included in its Agreement with Saudi Arabia (Syria TV). In an interview with Arab TV, Enayati said, “We did not discuss the Syrian file during any talks with the Saudis,” as those talks resulted in an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume diplomatic relations and reopen the embassies of the two countries after nearly 7 years of severing relations between the two sides. Furthermore, he stated that Iran welcomed the return of the Syrian regime to the Arab League, adding that Tehran’s vision of what is happening in the region can be settled through political solutions.
- Over 1.89M Expats Vote in Türkiye’s Presidential Runoff Election (Anadolu Agency). According to Türkiye’s Supreme Election Council, more than 1.89 million people – 1,895,430 – cast their votes at Türkiye’s foreign missions and customs gates as of 10 a.m. local time (0700GMT) on Thursday. In the May 14 elections, 1,839,470 Turkish citizens abroad went to the polls to vote in both presidential and parliamentary elections. As a result, the number of voters in the presidential runoff has increased by 55,960.
- Turkish Immigration Administration Announces the Total Number of Foreigners in the Country at 4,990,663 People (Zaman Al Wasl). A statement issued by the Presidency of the Migration Department, according to the Anadolu Agency, stated that the number of Syrians in the country under temporary protection amounts to 3,381,429 people.
- Akar Says Turikye Will Continue Military Operations in Syria, Amid Calls for Withdrawal (Syria TV). On Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar declared that his country’s military operations in northern Syria and Iraq “will continue until the last terrorist is eradicated.” This announcement comes just days after the Syrian regime’s foreign minister urged Turkiye to withdraw its forces from northern Syria as a step towards normalization.
- Erdogan’s AK Party Split on Economic Plan as Turkiye Runoff Looms (New Arab). Days before Turkiye’s runoff presidential election, insiders say there is disagreement and uncertainty within Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government over whether to stick with what some call an unsustainable economic program or abandon it.
- HDP Supports Kılıçdaroğlu, Despite His U-turn Ahead of Turkish Vote (Daily Sabah). Leaders of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and its new offshoot, the Green Left Party (YSP), held a news conference on Thursday, announcing their support for Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in the May 28 elections. However, Kılıçdaroğlu has also received support from a far-right party contradicting the HDP’s policies.
- Turkish Security Arrests ISIS Leaders in Istanbul (Enab Baladi). The Turkish “TRT haber” website said that the Turkish security authorities carried out a security campaign on May 24, during which they arrested 12 people suspected of belonging to the “Islamic State” organization after an investigation it had previously launched into the activities of the organization, which is on its “terrorism” lists.
- Iraqi Court Sentences ISIS Leader to Death (Basnews). The Babil Criminal Court handed down a death sentence on Tuesday to a Prominent Islamic State (IS) leader who had reportedly been involved in multiple terrorist activities in the country.
- Iraqi Oil Minister: Aramco will Develop an Iraqi Gas Field to Produce 400 Million Cubic Meters Daily (Al Arabiya). The Iraqi Oil Minister, Hayan Abdul-Ghani, said that it was agreed that the Saudi Aramco company would enter the development of one of the gas fields in Iraq to produce more than 400 million cubic meters of gas.
- Duchess of Edinburgh’s Trip to Iraq Marks First British Royal Visit since 2006 (Iraqi News). The Duchess of Edinburgh traveled to Iraq this week, meeting politicians and feminist activists in a rare visit by a British royal to the country, Iraq’s presidency said.
- Saudi Development Fund will pump $1.5 Billion into Iraq (Al Arabiya). In addition, the Saudi Minister of Investment, Khaled Al-Falih, announced the launch of the Saudi-Iraqi Investment Company, with a capital of $3 billion.
- Ex-SOMO President: Iraq Has No Alternative to Turkish Route for Oil Exports (Rudaw). Falah Al-Amiri, former head of the Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) and an oil expert, asserted that Iraq currently lacks an alternative to the Turkish port for oil exports. He also suggested that the ongoing halt to the Kurdistan Region’s oil exports is a “mistake and a loss.”
- Syrian Regime Denounces France as ‘Backward’ in Response to Call for Bashar Al-Assad’s Trial (Syria TV). In a statement, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said, “We had recently observed the hysteria and detached positions of French diplomacy, which appears to have lost its senses following the historical decisions made by the Arab summit in Saudi Arabia regarding Syria.”
- Assad Regime Responds to Turkiye: No Normalization Roadmap Accepted Before Turkish Withdrawal from Syria (Syria TV). Sources described as “informed” by Al-Watan newspaper, known for its proximity to the Syrian regime, stated that the government will not compromise its conditions. These demands, tying any step towards normalization with Ankara, involve Turkiye’s troop withdrawal from Syria, halting support for what it terms “terrorism,” and abstaining from meddling in Syria’s internal affairs.
- Germany Newspaper Says Number of Citizenship Seekers in Hamburg Is Increasing, with Syrians in the Lead (Zaman Al Wasl). According to the newspaper, the number of applications for naturalization in Hamburg is increasing. At the same time, it quoted the Immigration Department as saying that about 4,850 applications for naturalization were submitted this year, and about 3,060 cases of naturalization were implemented…According to the Senate, most came from Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, and Poland.
- 11 Years of Impunity: Syrians Mark the Slaughter of More than 100 People in the 2012 Al Houla Massacre (Aleppo Today). On May 25, 2012, the “Shabiha” and the Assad regime’s forces carried out raids and field executions of everyone they found living on the city’s outskirts. Children were handcuffed, men and women were gathered, then slaughtered with bayonets and knives and shot after being slaughtered. Among the victims were 49 children under ten and 32 women, and there are still bodies the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has been unable to reach and document. The report confirms that the incident was tantamount to sectarian cleansing in the area that includes neighborhoods loyal to al-Assad’s authority and a source for his militia members.
THE GULF & YEMEN
- Dubai Police Arrest 8 Suspects from Israel over Fatal Stabbing of Fellow Israeli (Times of Israel). Police in Dubai said Thursday that a dispute between two families was behind the fatal assault of an Israeli man by eight other Israelis who have been arrested in the emirate.
- Saudi Arabia is Considering Establishing an Industrial City in Iraq (Al Arabiya). In addition, the Saudi Minister of Industry confirmed signing three bank agreements to finance exports and imports.
- Most Prominent Leader of Yemen’s Transitional Council Announces his Resignation (Sahhafa). On Tuesday, Abdullah Issa bin Afrar announced his resignation from the Transitional Council.
NORTH AFRICA AND EGYPT
- Tunisian Court Frees Radio Station Boss Held in Crackdown (New Arab). A Tunisian court on Wednesday decided to free, after more than three months’ detention, the head of the country’s most-listened-to radio station, whose release had been sought by the European Union.
- Libya… “Positive” Atmosphere in the 6+6 Committee’s Consultations in Morocco and Expectations of Agreement on Election Laws (AlJazeera). A positive atmosphere prevails on the fourth day of the consultations of the committee in charge of the High Council of State in Libya and the House of Representatives to prepare electoral laws…The committee meeting in the city of Bouznika, south of Rabat, is expected to finish its work by agreeing on the electoral rules that Libya will witness, whether presidential or legislative.
- Egypt’s Foreign Minister Meets UN’s Syria Envoy in Geneva (Syria TV). Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry said that “Egypt affirms its keenness to coordinate between the Arab Ministerial Committee on Syria and the United Nations, to resolve the crisis and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.”
- UN Monitors 25 Cases of Sexual Violence in Sudan and Calls for an End to “Absurd Violence” (Al Jazeera). The United Nations has monitored at least 25 cases of sexual violence in Sudan and has called on both sides of the fighting to stop the violence and protect civilians…UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said…the actual number was “likely to be much higher.”
- Sudan is Among the World’s Most Indebted Countries (Al Arabiya). Many countries worldwide seek to finance their expansionary expenditures or budgets through debt, as many countries have exacerbated the size of their obligations in an unprecedented way…Moreover, when comparing the size of the debt to the gross domestic product, the countries with the highest deficits in the world include an Arab country. Sudan’s debt to GDP is 182%, and total debt is $96 billion.