ACLS

The Early Phoenix May 5, 2023

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

May 5, 2023 

IRAN

    1. Syrian Regime Media Hail Iranian President Raisi as Leader of the Arab “Resistance” Axis (Shahrekhabar). A 15-second song went viral after the Iranian Foreign Ministry published it on Iranian regime platforms. The piece shows lines of people in Syria waving Iranian and Assad regime flags, greeting Iranian President Raisi as he visited the shrine of Zainab in Damascus. The lyrics include, “Welcome to Raisi from the [resistance] axes in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Jerusalem, from Syria a thousand welcomes.” There is also a second video depicting Raisi performing prayers at the shrine.
    1. Iranian President Met with Syrian Business Forum Without Assad Present (Al Mayadeen). During the recent meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian president confirmed that several decisions were taken, as 15 documents were signed to facilitate the required procedures and develop relations between the two countries. Raisi said, during a businessmen forum in Damascus, that…” the volume of trade exchange between the two countries does not amount to the importance of political relations between us, so the importance of exchange must be expanded in a way that is more compatible with our relationships.”
    1. Iranian Regime Advises France to Listen to French Protesters and Avoid Violence (Keyhan). Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani expressed his regret over the violent treatment of Labor Day demonstrators by the French police and advised French politicians to listen to the voice of the demonstrators and avoid resorting to violence.

ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

    1. Ben-Gvir Threatens to Quit Israeli Government Over Response to Gaza Rockets (Jerusalem Post). The Otzma Yehudit Party will boycott Knesset votes until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implements a “fully right-wing policy” and enables its minister to influence the state’s national security policy, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said Wednesday.
    1. Israel’s Defense Chief: Iran Has Enough Uranium for Five Nuclear Bombs (Al-Monitor). On a visit to Athens on Thursday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told his Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos that Iran had enriched enough uranium for five nuclear bombs, warning that the Islamic Republic intends to continue the enrichment process.
    1. Iran’s Raisi Meets with Top Hamas and Islamic Jihad Officials in Syria, Urges Israel’s Defeat (Times of Israel). Damascus-based Palestinian official Khaled Abdul-Majid told the Associated Press that the delegation — which included top leaders from the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups — briefed Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi on the situation in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.
    1. Iran State News Outlet Spreads Antisemitic Propaganda on Social Media (Times of Israel). The outlet promotes the conspiracy that a secretive and powerful Jewish network acts behind the scenes to influence world affairs, a central tenet of antisemitic belief systems. Press TV refers to the shadowy network as a “Zionist movement,” the “Zionist regime,” a “Zionist network,” or the “Israel lobby.”
    1. Palestinian Economy Not Sustainable, Donor Parley Warns (Jerusalem Post). The Palestinian Authority’s economy is not sustainable, warned members of a donor parley that met in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday as foreign contributions continued to decline. “The discussions over the last two days have highlighted how serious the situation is on the ground,” said Norwegian Special Representative Hilde Haraldstad on Thursday after the two-day gathering of the biannual Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).

SYRIA

    1. Assad Responds to Arabs by Receiving Raisi: No More Concessions (The Syrian Observer). On Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad delivered an indirect message to Arab countries interested in normalizing relations with his regime, stating that no more concessions would be made under the pretext of bowing to the storm. He made these remarks during a meeting with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi, who was visiting Damascus. Al-Watan, a newspaper close to the regime, reported that Assad considered Raisi’s visit particularly important in light of global and regional transformations.

IRAQ

    1. Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf Calls on Barzani to Support the Sudani Government in Baghdad (Iraq News Network). On Wednesday in Erbil, Massoud Barzani discussed with US Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf the relations between Baghdad and Erbil and described the steps of the Iraqi federal government as “positive”…The meeting also emphasized implementing the agreement between the political parties and considered the Iraqi government’s positive actions.

LEBANON

    1. Saudi Ambassador Continues Tour of Officials: The Presidential Elections is a Lebanese Internal Matter (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, reaffirmed the Kingdom’s position on the Lebanese presidential election as a “Lebanese internal political matter,” according to the spokesman for the Maronite Patriarchate in Lebanon after Bukhari met with the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai, in which the Saudi ambassador began the second day of his tour, on Lebanese religious and political leaders.

TURKIYE

    1. Turkish Opposition Figure Ali Babacan Defends YPG Terrorists (Daily Sabah). With a little over a week left until Türkiye’s much-anticipated presidential and parliamentary polls, a top figure of the six-party opposition coalition has sparked controversy by refusing to classify the terror group PKK’s northern Syria-based affiliate YPG as a terrorist organization… “Even if they appear similar in their roots, there is a difference between the two (PKK and YPG). Many European nations don’t recognize it as a terror group. The PKK and the YPG could be of the same source. Still, terrorism has a definition, not just Türkiye’s exclusive description but an international definition,” Babacan argued.
    1. Over 1M Turkish Expats Vote in Türkiye’s May 14 Elections (Daily Sabah). More than 1.1 million Turkish citizens residing abroad have cast their votes to elect the country’s new president and parliamentary representatives in the historic May 14 polls, according to the Supreme Election Board (YSK).
    1. Jailed Leader of Pro-PKK HDP Endorses Kılıçdaroğlu in Turkish Vote (Daily Sabah). Selahattin Demirtaş, the jailed co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), now facing closure over its links to the PKK terrorist group, voiced his support for the opposition bloc’s candidate Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for the upcoming Turkish elections.

THE GULF

    1. Using Drones to Smuggle Drugs (Al Khaleej Online). In a serious development, the first of its kind, Jordan announced, in October 2021, that it had thwarted an attempt to smuggle drugs using a drone coming from Syrian territory, after which more drones were shot down. An official source in the General Command of the Jordanian Armed Forces stated, “Through monitoring and follow-up, the plane was controlled and shot down, and after searching the area, quantities of narcotics were found.”
    1. Qatar Thwarts the Smuggling of 90 kg of Hashish in a Shipment of Watermelon (Al Khaleej Online). The ministry published a video showing a security man extracting cannabis from a watermelon. Last February, the Qatar General Authority of Customs announced it had thwarted the smuggling of 7,000 narcotic “Lrica” ​​pills through Hamad International Airport.

SUDAN

    1. Saudi Arabia and the United Nations are Discussing Stopping the Escalation in Sudan (Khaleej Online). The Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, discussed with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, efforts to stop the escalation in Sudan and affirmed that Riyadh would continue to assist in the evacuations.
    1. The Two Fighting Parties continue exchanging accusations of Violating the Armistice (Enab Baladi). In addition, the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces traded accusations about violating the truce between them. Clashes have been renewed between the two parties, since the morning of Thursday, May 4, despite their declaration of approval of the humanitarian truce under the auspices of the Government of Southern Sudan.

EGYPT

    1. Crisis in Sudan: Border Alert in Egypt (Ahram Online). Egypt’s border with Sudan is 150km longer than Libya’s. While Cairo has stepped up precautions along its southern border since the outbreak of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the situation is fuelling growing concern.
    1. FM Shoukry Discusses Sudan, Syria with Arab Counterparts Ahead of 7 May Meeting (Ahram Online). Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry called in the past 48 hours with various Arab foreign ministers to discuss developments in Sudan and Syria in preparation for the upcoming extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers about the two countries on 7 May.

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