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THE EARLY PHOENIX

THE EARLY PHOENIX – Weekend Report

Table of Contents

Media Intercepts of the Most Notable Events from the Middle East Selected by ACLS Experts

TOP WEEKEND HEADLINES:

TURKIYE

  1. Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wins Presidency (Syria TV). The head of the Supreme Electoral Commission, Ahmed Yanar, announced that Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the presidential elections, according to preliminary, non-final results. The results show that Recep Tayyip Erdogan won 51.91 percent of the total votes, while Kamal Kilicdaroglu got 48.09 percent.
  2. Kilicdaroglu Acknowledges Defeat “Implicitly” and Vows to Continue the Struggle (Sky News Arabiya). Speaking from the headquarters of the People’s Party in the capital, Ankara, the Turkish opposition candidate avoided congratulating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the victory while revealing that “the country’s problems will continue,” in what appears to be an indirect admission of defeat. Several state leaders congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on winning a new Presidential Term before the results were officially announced. 
  3. What Does Erdogan’s Victory Mean for Turkiye and the World? (Sky News Arabiya). The Associated Press considered several mainly internal challenges that Erdogan faced before the end of his term. After his re-election, it may continue with him, including a severe cost of living crisis that experts blame on the government’s mismanagement of the economy. At the same time, Erdoğan believes that low-interest rates tame inflation, contrary to traditional economic theory, and pressure the central bank to reverse his view. In addition, observers considered that Turkey had witnessed criticism regarding the status of public freedoms, a point exploited by the opposition, which threatened to return Ankara to a more democratic path. Turkey is also reeling from the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that devastated 11 southern provinces in February. Erdogan’s government has been criticized for its late and stalled response to the disaster and lax enforcement of building codes that exacerbated the losses.
  4. Cavusoglu: Quartet Meeting Soon on Syrian Regime Normalization (Syria TV). Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, revealed that delegates from Syria, Russia, Turkiye, and Iran are due to convene shortly. The meeting aims to establish a road map for normalizing relations between Ankara and the Syrian regime.

IRAN & AFGHANISTAN WATER WAR

  1. Iran, Taliban Exchange Heavy Fire Amid Water Dispute Clashes Erupt at the Iran-Afghanistan Border; One Iranian Killed (Iran International). An exchange of gunfire took place Saturday on the border between Iran and Afghanistan as tensions over water rights between the two nations escalated.
  2. At Least Three Killed In Clash Between Iran and the Taliban (Iran International). Two Iranian border guards and one Taliban fighter were killed after a shooting broke out near a border post on Saturday… It was not immediately clear what had provoked the incident, in which several people were also injured, but it came amid tensions over water rights.
  3. After the Border Clashes, a Taliban Leader Threatens Iran: “Do Not Test Our Patience” (Al Arabiya). A leader in the Taliban movement escalated his attack on Iran by saying: “If the sheiks of the Islamic Emirate allow the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate, the mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate will occupy Iran within 24 hours. So we say to Iran, do not test our strength.”
  4. Iran’s Foreign Minister Calls for Inclusive Government in Afghanistan (Tasnim News). Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian emphasized the need to form an inclusive government in Afghanistan and stated that Iran does not recognize the nature of the current ruling power.

LEBANON

  1. Intelligence Sources:  Hizballah is Preparing to Attack American Targets in Syria (Syria TV). The American “Long War Journal” quoted two US intelligence officials saying that the “Golan Unit” of the Lebanese Hizballah is conducting military maneuvers to prepare for attacking US forces operating in Syria.
  2. Nasrallah Warns IDF Intel Chief:  We Are the Ones Threatening War (Jerusalem Post). Amid recent security tensions in the north, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah spoke on Thursday night for the “Day of Resistance,” where he marked 23 years since the IDF left Lebanon and responded to statements made by the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate Aharon Haliva. “You are not the ones threatening war; we are the ones who do so,” Nasrallah emphasized. “And any such war will include all of Israel’s borders.” He said: “Any wrong action in Palestine, Syria, or Iran could lead to a major war.”
  3. UN Dollar Aid to Syrian Refugees Raises Controversy in Lebanon (Al Hadath). Lebanon is mired in an unprecedented economic and living crisis, and many citizens are now looking at the Syrian refugees amid the growing wave of hostility towards them. The announcement by the United Nations and its partners two days ago of resuming cash assistance to refugees in a double currency (i.e., the Lebanese pound or the US dollar) increased the pain and oppression among the Lebanese, and many of them poured out their anger on the refugees. Voices were raised among politicians or on communication sites and the media to demand a reversal of this matter.
  4. UN Suspends the Provision of Cash Assistance to the Displaced for the Next Month (Al Mayadeen). Today, the United Nations announced the suspension of providing cash assistance to the displaced in the two currencies for the next month when discussions continue with the Lebanese government about the appropriate mechanism to follow…This decision of the United Nations comes after a press conference held by the Minister of Social Affairs, Hector Al-Hajjar, yesterday, in which he announced the ministry’s refusal to “dollarize” aid for the displaced, considering that it would enhance their survival in Lebanon. The number of Syrian refugees residing in Lebanon due to the crisis in their country is approximately 1.5 million, and nearly 900,000 are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most suffer from difficult living conditions.
  5. Washington Is Investigating the Sources of the Lebanese Central Bank Governor’s Wealth (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Lebanese judicial sources reported that the United States of America had entered the line of investigation of the source of the funds of the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, while the judicial circles in Beirut are awaiting the arrival of the “red notice” in the middle of next week, circulated by the International Interpol against Salameh, based on the German arrest warrant issued against him and a number Among those close to him, at a time when voices are rising internally calling for Salama’s removal from office, after moving a vast number of files that are haunting him in Lebanon and abroad.

IRAN

  1. Exclusive – US and Iran Can Reach A Deal ‘Soon’ on Release of Frozen Funds (Iran International). Talks between Iran and the US on releasing Tehran’s frozen assets could result in a deal soon, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations told Iran International. The talks that have made progress focused on Iranian funds held in Iraq and South Korea. The money in Iraqi banks could be as much as $10 billion or more by the most recent estimates mentioned by Iranian officials. Iraq imports natural gas and electricity from Iran but is barred by US sanctions from making dollar transfers to Tehran. South Korea holds $7 billion, which it owes for importing Iranian oil before full US sanctions were imposed in May 2019…Iran is expected to show more flexibility on issues related to its nuclear program in exchange for releasing its funds in Iraq and free hostages with dual nationality in exchange for its assets in South Korea.
  2. Belgian Aid Worker Held in Iran Returns Home (Al Monitor). Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who was detained for almost 15 months in Iran, landed in Belgium late Friday, according to images broadcast on television, after being freed in a prisoner exchange.
  3. IRGC Navy Chief Sends a Message to the US: “You Are Terribly Wrong to Be in the Persian Gulf” (Tehran Times). Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said the U.S. and other countries do not need to be present in the strategically vital waterway since only Iran and other regional nations will be able to maintain the security of the Persian Gulf.
  4. Omani Sultan in Iran for Official Visit (Tasnim News). Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq Al Said arrived in Tehran on Sunday afternoon for an official visit…The two states are scheduled to sign four cooperation documents in the fields of economy, investment, and energy during the Sultan’s visit.
  5. Advisor to Khamenei in Qatar to Attend Iran-Arab Dialog Conference (Iran International). Kamal Kharrazi, a foreign policy advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has left Tehran for Doha to attend an Iranian-Arab dialogue conference in Qatar.
  6. Iran Warns of Western Plots Against OPEC (Tasnim News). The president of Iran called for closer unity among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member states to thwart divisive plots hatched by several Western governments. In a meeting with Secretary General of OPEC Haitham al-Ghais, held in Tehran on Saturday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that several Western governments seek to sow division and discord among the OPEC members to achieve their own interests.
  7. IRGC Offers Marriage Counselling and Fertilization Services (Iran International). As part of its interventions in non-military fields, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) promotes fertilization and childbearing…IRGC Commander Hossein Salami said on Saturday that in addition to face-to-face counseling, the military branch would also offer incentives regarding marriage and childbirth.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

  1. Over 200,000 Protest Judicial Reform across Israel for the 21st Weekend (Jerusalem Post). As per organizers’ estimations, the protests against the government’s plans for judicial reform continued across Israel for the 21st week on Saturday evening, as some 235,000 Israelis turned out for anti-government demonstrations.
  2. Netanyahu, Ben Gvir Rip into Israel’s Attorney General over ‘Zionist Values’ Resolution as Vote Postponed (Times of Israel). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir were strongly critical of the attorney general during Sunday’s cabinet meeting over a proposed government resolution to assert “the values of Zionism” in government policy, particularly over land allocation, construction planning, and benefits for those who perform military duty.
  3. Four Palestinians Injured in Attack Carried Out by Settlers in the Central West Bank (Syria TV). The official Palestinian News Agency, Wafa, said that live bullets wounded four citizens, and the condition of one of them was described as severe during clashes with the Israeli occupation forces. Settlers also burned five vehicles and crops, in the area between the villages of Turmusaya and al-Mughayer, east of Ramallah, in the central West Bank.
  4. Hebrew Channel 12:  Israelis Formed a Criminal Community in Dubai (Al Khaleej Online). The channel said in a report that “Israeli police intelligence officials intend to hand over a list of prominent Israeli criminals wanted to Dubai Police in the coming weeks, to dismantle the Israeli crime gang that has established itself in the Arab country in recent years.” The channel quoted a senior official in the Israeli police as saying: “The authorities in Dubai are not aware that the major criminals from the Jewish and Arab criminal organizations have established a thriving criminal community in the country, and they practice illegal work in secret, and some of them hold foreign passports, and this helps them maneuver without being caught.”

IRAQ

  1. Iraq Announces a Project Connecting the Gulf to Turkiye through its Territory (Al Mayadeen). The project aims to connect the Gulf to the Turkish borders and is expected to transform Baghdad into a primary transit line for goods between the Middle East and Europe. The Iraqi government estimates the project’s cost at around $17 billion. 
  2. The Assad Regime Attended the Development Road Conference in Baghdad (Al Watan). Assad’s Minister of Transport said, “We support the road and suggest that it cross the Syrian territory and reach the Mediterranean ports to reduce costs. Syria participated in the international conference being held in Iraq entitled The Road to Development, along with the neighboring countries of Iraq and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council…Moreover, friends and our presence today in this consultative meeting is an opportunity to assure you of our support for the development path initiative, congratulating the brothers in Iraq for this economic and development start.
  3. Pilgrimage Road Project links Iraq and Saudi Arabia Via Najaf (Iraqi News). The Pilgrimage Road Project will help revitalize commercial and economic activity between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and serve as a gateway for investment and tourism into Najaf and Iraq. The project will also make it easier for religious guest convoys to arrive by land.

NORTH AFRICA & EGYPT 

  1. Saudi-American Statement: The Two Parties to the Conflict in Sudan Violated the Armistice, Obstructing the Arrival of Aid (Al Hadath). The statement pointed out that snipers were monitored in the areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces and that elements of the Sudanese army seized medical supplies in two facilities, stressing that Saudi Arabia and America called on the two parties to the conflict in Sudan to extend the armistice despite the lack of full compliance with it.
  2. Standard Chartered Bank Warns of Egypt’s Inability to Pay its Debts (Arabi21). International reports continue to warn of the poor conditions of the Egyptian economy, which raises fears for the future of more than 105 million citizens who suffer because of what these reports and economists describe as the wrong policies of the government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, by plunging the country into foreign debt…The last of these reports was issued last Thursday by Standard Chartered Bank, from the heart of the British capital, London, which warned of “difficult challenges” facing Egypt’s economy in the coming years, and that “time is running out” to save the Arab country located in northeastern Africa from its crises. with external debt.
  3. Egyptian Government Revokes Pledges and Introduces New Taxes and Fees (The New Arab). The government of Egypt has taken steps ahead of parliament’s review of the 2023-2024 state budget by revising the stamp tax law. This alteration enables the government to hike taxes on goods and services by 20%…The Suez Canal Economic Zone issued a statement announcing the signing of investment contracts amounting to $487 million, with Chinese firms operating in the petrochemical, energy, and textile sectors. These contracts encompass several projects slated for construction in the Sokhna industrial zone. A power supply station, involving investments of $265 million, will be built.
  4. Governor of Darfur Calls on Citizens to Take Up Arms to Protect Property (Al Hadath). The governor of the Darfur region in Sudan, Minni Arko Minawi, called on citizens to take up arms to protect their property. He added in a tweet, “The attacks on citizens have multiplied, so I call on all our honorable citizens, the people of Darfur, old and young, women and men, to take up arms to protect their property, and we, the struggle movements, will support them in all cases of defense”…He explained that citizens’ homes are threatened. The situation in El Geneina and Nyala is alarming, the government is absent, and looting and theft continue.

THE GULF & YEMEN

  1. Dates and Saudi Coffee for the First Time on the International Space Station (Al Khaleej Online). Saudi astronaut Ali Al-Qarni reviewed the drinks and food they eat on the International Space Station, including Saudi coffee and dates. This was during the interaction of Al-Qarni and his colleague, Rayana Bernawi, from the International Space Station, with students.
  2. Cooperation Between Moscow and Riyadh in Combating Drugs and Cybercrime (Al Mayadeen). Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Alexandrovich Kolokoltsev said, during a television interview with Russia 1, that he had held a meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, for the first time to discuss bilateral cooperation in the field of police. Kolokoltsev added that he discussed the agenda with his Saudi counterpart, and they agreed to develop cooperation in several areas, especially “information about terrorists and extremists, their movements and financing.” The Russian Interior Minister talked about the agreement with his Saudi counterpart on cooperation in the field of combating drug trafficking and combating cybercrime.
  3. Oil has revived the sultanate’s coffers…As a result, Oman records a $3 billion surplus in the 2022 budget (Al Masry Al Youm). The general budget of the Sultanate of Oman recorded a surplus of about 1.144 billion riyals ($2.97 billion) by the end of 2022, according to the Omani News Agency, Sunday.
  4. Saudi Arabia is Negotiating to Join the “BRICS” Bank (Al Khaleej Online). The BRICS Development Bank informed the Financial Times, “We are engaged in a constructive dialogue with Saudi Arabia, a nation we regard as highly significant in the Middle East.” The newspaper noted that Saudi Arabia joining this group would bolster relations among the bank’s members, founded by “the world’s largest emerging economies as an alternative to the Western-led Bretton Woods institutions.”
  5. Qatari Emir First to Congratulate Erdogan on Presidential Election Victory (Al Khaleej Online). In a tweet, Qatari Emir Tamim said: “My dear brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, heartfelt congratulations on your triumphant victory. As you embark on your new tenure, I wish you great success in fulfilling the aspirations of our fraternal Turkish people for progress and prosperity. Moreover, I look forward to the further development and growth of the robust relations between our two nations.”

SYRIA

  1. Syrian TV:  Israeli Aggression in the Vicinity of Damascus (Al Hadath). Syrian television said that the air defenses responded to “hostile targets” in the sky of the capital and its surroundings. Syrian TV reported Sunday evening that an Israeli “aggression” had taken place on the outskirts of Damascus. Syrian television said that the air defenses had responded to “hostile targets” in the sky of the capital and its surroundings.
  2. US Official: The Camps in Northeastern Syria Are of Great Concern to Us (Syria TV) The US Deputy Special Envoy to the International Coalition, Ian McCurry, said that the camps for the displaced in northeastern Syria are of “serious concern” to the United States, noting that “the International Coalition is working with countries to enhance their capabilities to combat ISIS and enable them to refute its return.”
  3. To Establish Control, Iran’s Militias Hinder Deir Ezzor Residents from Rebuilding Their Homes (Syria TV). Iranian militias persist in obstructing the residents of Deir Ezzor City from repairing and refurbishing their destroyed homes in preparation for their eventual return. Instead, they intend to expand their dominion over the city’s neighborhoods, displace the inhabitants, and seize their homes.
  4. A Strange Marriage Deceived them…An Unknown Fate of the “Roja” ISIS Women in Syria (AlHadath). Years after the collapse of the terrorist organization ISIS and the declaration of victory over it in Syria and Iraq, the camps of ISIS family members are still a link between the two countries amid international warnings of the seriousness of the situation in those areas.

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