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The Region – Feb 5, 2024

Table of Contents

Military Actions and Diplomatic Stalemates: A Comprehensive Overview of Recent Events in the MENA Region

By: Rania Kisar

Brief Analysis:

The recent developments in Israel present a bleak outlook for an imminent ceasefire, as negotiations have reached an impasse. Hamas continues to assert demands that Israel is unable and unwilling to meet, perpetuating the cycle of conflict.

Simultaneously, tracking U.S. military actions against Houthi positions in Yemen proves challenging. Despite these efforts, the Houthis persist in their assaults, capitalizing on the ensuing popularity and media attention.

Iran remains a focal point for analysts, intriguing with its strategic posturing and the dichotomy between its projected strength and actual capabilities.

Israel’s efforts have progressively undermined Hezbollah’s capacity, limiting its potential for an asymmetrical retaliation.

An intriguing side note involves Syrian President Assad’s reluctance to align with the Axis in its conflict with Israel. A study from Iran highlights Assad’s acknowledgment of Hamas’s persistence against Israel, whilst maintaining a calculated stance among non-state actors.

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★ IRAN

Iran’s Dual Strategy: Military Deterrence and Economic Narratives in the Face of Regional Tensions and U.S. Actions

 

 

1.Iran’s Indirect Deterrence: A Veil of Fear Against U.S. Military Actions.

Despite the Iranian displayed rhetoric dismissing the significance of the American strikes calling it ‘Belated and Failed Attacks’ and confirming that no Iranian Revolutionary Guard fighters were killed, Iran is now adopting an indirect deterrence strategy that signifies concerns. Mohsen Rezaei, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, former IRGC commander, and member of Iran’s Expediency Council, appeared on Al Jazeera to announce an array of undisclosed indigenous products. He stated that the U.S. is leveraging the situation in Gaza to redeploy troops to West Asia, attributing this move to American vulnerabilities in Iraq and Syria. He warned that the regional dynamics have significantly shifted since the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Soon after, in a facade of self-reliance and power projection several Iranian government led media platforms reported in unprecedented detail the range of military technologies, including simulation systems for strategic planning, self-defense mechanisms like thermal balloons and jamming systems, and the AI-powered Youssef aerial periscope for target tracking. The exhibition also featured an array of missiles, such as long-range cruise missiles and the Ghadr-29, alongside drones like the Swig Build for reconnaissance and the Muharram for attacks, designed to project a facade of advanced military readiness and self-sufficiency. Furthermore, heavy military transport trucks and Cobra attack helicopter systems with “Fire and Forget” missiles were displayed, signaling an attempt to create a deterrence narrative despite underlying concerns about the actual effectiveness and technological capabilities of these assets. 

Meanwhile, Iran publicly voiced its concern about American strikes possibly attempting to strike its two boats Behshad and Saviz, suspected of providing spying services and weapons transfer points after the American strikes on six Yemeni governorates this Saturday. 

Previous videos showed the ship armed with a covered machine gun mounted on the deck. However, on Sunday the spokesman for the IRGC Navy describes for the first time the two ships as a “floating weapons depot,” and also describes Behshad as a ship that helps “an Iranian anti-piracy mission in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.”

Highlighting the ongoing apprehension Iran has towards American military strategies in the region, Branch 55 of the Tehran Court of Justice, dealing with international cases, decided to hear a lawsuit against the United States for its attacks on Iranian frigates Sahand, Sabalan, and Joshan dating back to the 1988 Operation Praying Mantis.

 

2.Exposing the Facade: Iran’s Economic Reality Versus Official Narratives. 

In a deliberate effort to obscure the glaringly apparent dire economic situation, the Iranian official narrative of economic stability takes a new turn falsifying American think tank assessment. 

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) misrepresented an analysis by Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, falsely attributing a positive spin on Iran’s economic and foreign policy situation. Clawson’s nuanced examination presents a complex view of Iran’s economy, indicating that growth primarily benefits regime insiders and highlighting significant challenges such as high inflation and economic disparities affecting the general populace. Contrastingly, IRNA’s coverage misleadingly suggests a robust economic status, a stark departure from Clawson’s critical insights. 

Recent findings from the American Center for Levant Studies further debunk IRNA’s claims, highlighting Iran’s grim economic reality with a depreciating currency. The Iranian rial’s 16% fall against the US dollar has pushed inflation near 50%, drastically reducing the official government salary by 10% to an amount $400 below the $600 monthly poverty threshold. Particularly in Kurdish regions like Ilam Province, economic woes are acute, with unemployment slightly decreasing yet still reflecting widespread distress. The study notes that over 22.1% of Iranian families are living in low-income conditions. Another testament to the economic state of Iran was revealed by Iranian opposition media platform, Bayan Media Network, explaining that liquidity in Iran has reached an unprecedented figure of 8 trillion Tomans, and elevating government debt to one-third- of GDP.

Furthermore, Iran’s publicization of its four new nuclear plants contrasts with the realities of economic pressures, sanctions, and technological hurdles. This discrepancy underscores the potential gap between Tehran’s strategic communications and its on-ground capabilities, raising questions about the sustainability and practicality of its defense and energy ambitions. 

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★ The Houthis

U.S. and Allies Ramp Up Military Strikes Against Houthi Targets

 

1.U.S. and Allied Forces Intensify Military Response to Houthi Threats in Yemen: A Comprehensive Report. 

Friday’s military situation illustrated a day marked by significant military engagements and successful defense response. On Friday, the US Central Command  conducted airstrikes targeting a Houthi drone control center and between 10-12 Houthi drones in Yemen. Notably, Yemeni naval forces reported claims that no one heard about targeting the American commercial ship “KOI” headed for Israel, using naval missiles with precise hits, shortly after targeting the American destroyer “USS Greeley” in the Red Sea.

On Feb. 3, at approximately 7:20 p.m. (Sanaa time), U.S. Central Command forces conducted strikes against six Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea. At approximately 11:30 p.m., U.S. Central Command forces, alongside UK Armed Forces and with the support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand conducted strikes against 36 Houthi targets at 13 locations in Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas of Yemen.

On February 4, at approximately 4 a.m. (Sana’a time), U.S. Central Command forces conducted a strike against a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile that was prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea. U.S. forces identified the cruise missile in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined it posed an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region. Later, at approximately 5:30 a.m. (Sana’a time), U.S. Central Command forces carried out a strike against a Houthi land attack cruise missile. Beginning at 10:30 a.mU.S. forces struck four anti-ship cruise missiles, all of which were ready to be launched against ships in the Red Sea.

The spokesman for the Yemeni Houthi movement, Muhammad Abdel Salam, said in a statement on Sunday “Regarding Yemeni military capabilities, we would like to emphasize that they are not easy to destroy and have been rebuilt in light of harsh years of war.”

Various sources previously indicated that the Houthi militia had relocated missiles and specialists from Sanaa to the governorates of Taiz, Hodeidah, and Hajjah, aiming to launch operations against commercial vessels navigating the Red Sea.

Tehran and the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas strongly condemned the American-British bombing of Yemen, considering it a blatant attack on the sovereignty of a sister Arab country.

Experts on Arabic affairs have ruled out any change in the Iranian approach following the latest American strikes, noting that Iran aims to keep potential adversaries at bay to avoid direct military confrontations that could threaten its cities or homeland, thereby maintaining the status quo. 

2.Iran Facilitates Dialogue Between Houthis and United Nations.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian hosted discussions with both Mohammed Abdel Salam, the Houthi group’s spokesman, and Hans Grundberg, the UN envoy to Yemen. Abdel Salam praised Iran’s steadfast political support, underscoring Tehran’s significant sway over the Houthi movement. The Houthi representative lauded Iran’s unwavering political support, highlighting Tehran’s significant influence over the Houthi movement.

In his latest sermon, the leader of the Houthi group described the American and British strikes as “failed.” He also described his group’s classification by Washington on terrorism lists as “ridiculous,” and  claimed to recruit 165,000 new militants alongside 600,000 others, and to continue developing military capabilities. 

In parallel, Grundberg’s dialogue with Abdollahian highlighted Iran’s vital role in promoting regional stability, pointing out Tehran’s engagement in international peace and de-escalation efforts in Yemen. The Iranian Mehr Agency quoted Abdollahian arguing that labeling the Houthis as terrorists and targeting them militarily complicates the prospects for a political resolution.

Tariq Saleh, a member of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, on Saturday, accused the Houthi group of dodging the peace process. He condemned the Houthis’ manipulation of the Palestinian issue to sidestep their obligations in Yemen, including the payment of salaries and provision of services to the populace. 

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★ SYRIA

The Assad Axis

 

Assad’s Fighters Abandon Posts Following American Strikes

 

Shortly after the American strikes in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, a confrontation erupted among Iranian militia factions, leading to injuries within the ranks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. North Press reported that the discord involved machine gun exchanges among Iraqi, Lebanese, and Syrian factions. They fled their headquarters for fear of American bombing targeting Iranian militias in the region, resulting in casualties, including Haider Yaqut and Suhaib Al-Ahmad from Palmyra. Additionally, Afghan Fatemiyoun Brigade members abandoned their posts in Mahkan and Al-Mariyah, seeking refuge in civilian areas to avoid the airstrikes. Over thirty local Revolutionary Guard members deserted their positions on the Al-Mayadeen Desert periphery as aircraft loomed, following a US attack that inflicted casualties on Iranian militia and Syrian regime forces across Syria and Iraq, with North Press citing significant losses without detailed figures.

Hours after suffering significant losses from American airstrikes, Iraqi armed groups, identifying themselves as the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq,” retaliated by launching a drone attack on an American base in Syria. They specifically targeted the Kharab al-Jir base situated in the Rmelan area, north of Hasakah. On the same day, reports surfaced from Al-Arabiya/Al-Hadath indicating that American anti-aircraft defenses had intercepted drones aimed at the Conico base in Deir ez-Zor, Syria. Additionally, these groups claimed to have struck the Harir base in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, although this assertion was later refuted by an official source in Erbil.

Media sources aligned with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard announced that Hamza Alawi, a prominent member of the Fatemiyoun militia, was killed in Syria last Friday evening. Hamza Alawi is from the Afghan province of Parwan. Zuhair Mujahid, the cultural official of the Fatemiyoun militia, previously revealed that the conflict in Syria has had a heavy toll on their group, with 2,000 members killed and an additional 8,000 wounded.

Israeli fighter jets reportedly launched an assault on multiple positions in southern Syria from the Golan Heights, killing an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military advisor, identified as Saed Alidadi, in a targeted attack by the Israeli Army in southern Damascus, on Friday.

Following American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, American forces in Syria experienced three separate attacks, none of which resulted in casualties. An American official disclosed to Al Jazeera that the Al-Furat support site was attacked twice, on Saturday and Monday, while the Al-Omar field base was targeted by a march on Monday. Concurrently, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reported a suicide drone attack, originating from Assad-controlled territories, killing six of its members. An investigation attributed the strike to Iranian-backed militias utilizing areas under Syrian regime control for the launch. SDF leader Mazloum Abdi highlighted the inadequacy of the U.S. response to deter further attacks from Iranian militias.

The Assad Ministry of Defense accused the United States of an alliance with ISIS in eastern Syria after the U.S. targeted an area where the army was allegedly engaged in combat against ISIS remnants. Iran’s media, particularly Islam Times of Tehran, reported on Assad’s avoidance of direct military aid to Hamas, highlighting his status among non-state actors and the need for independent foreign policy actions. Assad praised the remarkable resilience of Hamas against Israel but linked conflicts in Syria, Palestine, Ukraine, the South China Sea, Venezuela, and others, arguing that Western conflicts, especially those involving the U.S., focus on narrative and information control. The report also noted that while Hamas members, as part of an unarmed group, could be relatively easily rebuilt if weakened, reconstructing Assad’s stature would be time-consuming and challenging. It emphasized the importance of preventing the resurgence of internal protests. Finally, it explained that Assad’s military capabilities, alleged to be superior to those of Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Iraqi factions, suggest that involving Assad’s army in the conflict could prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people.

On Saturday, Russia requested an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting concerning the American strikes on Iraq and Syria. Zakharova stated that Russia condemns “this blatant new act of American and British aggression against two sovereign states.” She also noted that the American airstrikes “once again showed the world the aggressive nature of American policy in the Middle East and Washington’s complete disregard for international law.” According to the TASS report, a Security Council meeting is scheduled to discuss the American strikes on Iraq and Syria on February 5th.

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★ LEBANON

Lebanon Hezbollah Front

 

Israeli Strikes Target Over 3,450 Hezbollah Sites In Syria and Lebanon

The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah remains a major source of volatility, with repercussions that may lead to the full degradation of Hezbollah. While both parties have shown they are prepared to engage in prolonged military conflict, the results of the Israeli strikes have recorded a whopping number of  over 3,400 Hezbollah sites

Today, Monday, the Lebanese Hezbollah movement announced the killing of three of its members in Israeli attacks on the south of the country, near the border with Israel, according to what was reported by the Arab World News Agency Hezbollah stated, via Telegram, that the three dead were from the towns of Aitaroun, Al-Tiri and Yaroun in southern Lebanon.

Recently, Israel targeted over 50 Hezbollah-associated sites in Syria and 3,400 in Lebanon since the Gaza Strip conflict began, as stated by Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari. The strikes aimed at countering Hezbollah’s actions, which were in support of Hamas. Hagari emphasized Israel’s commitment to confronting Hezbollah across the Middle East, mentioning the destruction of 120 border control points, 40 weapon depots, and over 40 command centers, resulting in over 200 fatalities.

The confrontations this weekend began with Lebanese Hezbollah taking the offensive by targeting the Israeli “Khirbet Maar” base near the Lebanese border. Utilizing what they described as “appropriate” weaponry, Hezbollah’s action was part of a series of attacks that included firing two missiles from southern Lebanon at the Israeli military site of Al-Samaqa, located in the occupied Lebanese “Kfar Shuba” hills. Al Jazeera’s correspondent on the ground relayed this development.

The Israeli army’s response to the aggression was swift and pointed. They reported the detection of three missiles that traversed Lebanese territory into the Upper Galilee’s “Baram” and “Zarait” areas, landing in open spaces without causing casualties. Israeli Army Radio further reported the launching of two missiles into an open area in Zarit and an anti-tank missile striking Kibbutz Baram in the Upper Galilee. Adding to the day’s tension, Hezbollah claimed to have targeted Israeli soldiers in the “Yaroun” settlement, causing injuries, and reported bombing the “Even Menachem” settlement with precision.

The Israeli military carried out a series of airstrikes on towns in southern Lebanon, including Aita al-Shaab and Yaroun, as well as the Jabal Balat area. Additionally, Israeli artillery targeted the vicinity of Rashaya al-Fakhar and al-Dhahira towns. The strikes were said to focus on Hezbollah sites within Lebanese territories, including two observation posts and a military command headquarters in Yaroun, alongside attacks on a rocket launcher site and a location from which rockets had been fired into Israel. 

Hezbollah’s media outlet, Al-Manar TV, reported Israeli drone and artillery strikes on the town of Yaroun and the outskirts of Rashaya Al-Fakhar. Amidst these hostilities, the Lebanese Amal Movement announced the loss of two of its members in confrontations with the Israeli army in southern Lebanon, raising the death toll to three since the conflict intensified in early October. These fighters were commemorated for fulfilling their national and jihadist duties in defense of Lebanon.

Amos Hochstein informed Israel’s Defense Minister Gallant of receiving the Lebanese government’s approval for a de-escalation proposal, with Hezbollah’s agreement still uncertain. The plan involves two phases: initially, Hezbollah would stop hostilities and retreat 8-10 kilometers north of the Israel border. This move aims to allow Israeli residents to return, supported by the Lebanese army and UNIFIL peacekeeping forces to ensure stability. The second phase involves Israel and Lebanon negotiating land border demarcation, including resolving disputes over 13 points along their boundary, while the U.S. and international community consider economic incentives for Lebanon.

Israeli Foreign Minister Katz warned of limited time for a diplomatic solution in southern Lebanon, amidst conflict with Hezbollah. He told French Minister Ségournet that Israel may take military steps if the violence continues. Lebanese Minister Bou Habib noted the displacement of 100,000 people needing aid, with reports indicating over 90 villages targeted, 83,000 displaced, 686 injured, and 151 dead.

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★ ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

IDF Seizures and Al-Qassam Counterattacks: Ceasefire Talks Stalemate, Global Reactions Shift

 

1.IDF Seizure of Hamas Facilities and Al-Qassam Brigades’ Counterattacks. 

In the recent escalation of the military situation in Gaza, both the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas have reported significant operations, each emphasizing their strategic actions and achievements in the conflict.

The IDF announced the discovery and takeover of a notable Hamas military installation in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, identified as “Al-Qadsia.” This facility was detailed to include comprehensive training grounds with replicas of Israeli kibbutz entrances, military bases, and IDF armored vehicles, designed for the purpose of simulating Israeli targets for training exercises. Furthermore, the IDF successfully seized control of the Hamas brigade headquarters in southern Gaza, a key operational center used by Muhammad Sinwar, a high-ranking official within Hamas and brother to Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas’s political bureau in Gaza.

Conversely, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, presented a contrasting narrative of the conflict. Spokesperson Abu Ubaida claimed the brigade’s forces achieved notable successes against Israeli military efforts. According to their reports, Hamas forces managed to completely or partially destroy 43 Israeli military vehicles and were responsible for the deaths and injuries of Israeli soldiers, including specific operations targeting the city of Tel Aviv. Abu Ubaida underscored the tactical victories of their fighters, mentioning sniper attacks, missile launches, and the use of various explosive devices against Israeli forces in 17 distinct military missions.

2.Ceasefire Stalemate: Hamas’s Demands Clash with Israel’s Security Objectives.

Ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas exhibit fluctuating prospects, swinging between optimism and despair. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Ziyad Al-Nakhalah the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad Movement discussed the latest developments in Gaza and Palestine as well as the plans and initiatives proposed to establish a ceasefire and exchange prisoners in a phone call.  Hamas later insisted on the release of fighters from the October 7 assault, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and an end to hostilities. These demands starkly contrast with Israel’s goal to dismantle Hamas.

Despite varied reports emerging from Paris negotiations suggesting a potential six-week ceasefire in Gaza and differing terms regarding hostage releases, Hamas has maintained its stance. The group insists on the release of 132 Israeli hostages, including 29 confirmed to be deceased, as a condition for a lasting ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces, the lifting of Gaza’s blockade, and the start of reconstruction efforts. Central to Hamas’s demands is the release of high-profile prisoners from Israeli jails, convicted of major crimes, such as Abdullah Barghouti, Abbas Al-Sayed, Ibrahim Hamed, Ahmad Saadat, and Muhammad Arman, all of whom are linked to significant attacks against Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded that Hamas’s conditions, especially regarding hostage release, are unacceptable. He insists on terms similar to those of a previous exchange during a November truce, emphasizing the goal of a “complete victory” over Hamas and its affiliates as critical to Israel’s strategy.

Against the backdrop of these developments and the ongoing turmoil, the United States House of Representatives is preparing a $17.6 billion military aid package for Israel. At the same time, several Japanese companies have declared their intention to halt collaboration with Israel, highlighting the global division over the Gaza conflict. Meanwhile, Russia, historically an ally of Israel, finds its relationship with the country strained. Instead, Moscow has pivoted towards Tehran, seeking support from Iran as a crucial ally in its invasion of Ukraine, indicating a significant shift in international alliances.

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★ The Arabian Gulf

Saudi and Qatari Push for Gaza Ceasefire as Iran Accuses Gulf Nations of Facilitating Israeli Trade 

 

Last Tuesday, the Saudi Council of Ministers, led by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, concluded its session with a call for the Israeli military to be held accountable for their ongoing violations of international norms during the Gaza conflict that began in October. The Council stressed the need for international intervention to enforce a ceasefire in Gaza and protect the Palestinian population.

On Friday, discussions between Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken took place, focusing on the security and humanitarian challenges stemming from the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Regional sources indicate that Saudi authorities have urged the U.S. to influence Israel to end the conflict, offering to help with Gaza’s reconstruction efforts in return. Riyadh insists on Israel’s commitment to a viable path towards establishing a Palestinian state as a condition for considering formal diplomatic relations.

Abdulaziz Al-Saghir of the Gulf ResearchSaudi Arabia and Turkey Center in Jeddah stated, “Saudi Arabia’s message to the U.S. includes ending the conflict, facilitating humanitarian aid, and committing to a lasting resolution that establishes a Palestinian state. Without these, Saudi Arabia’s options remain limited.”

Against the backdrop of global and regional instability, Saudi Arabia hosted the second Initiative Fund conference of the Islamic Alliance to Combat Terrorism, establishing a fund with a $26.6 million Saudi contribution. The Alliance, formed on December 15, 2015, now includes 42 Islamic countries, addressing the increased challenges and terrorism risks, particularly from the situation in Gaza. Led by Prince Bin Salman, the coalition aims for a unified strategy against extremism in regions like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Afghanistan, maintaining its commitment to fight terrorism with recent meetings underscoring the importance of collective action.

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Turkiye also discussed their unified stance for a ceasefire in Gaza on Saturday, condemning the hostilities and advocating for an Israeli military withdrawal to facilitate humanitarian aid.

A senior Israeli official, who chose to remain anonymous, indicated to Reuters that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agreement to a Palestinian state is unlikely, though this does not deter Saudi Arabia or others from pursuing this goal.

Meanwhile, the Qatari Prime Minister urged the catastrophic repercussions of stopping funding to UNRWA working in several countries because of allegations regarding a number of its employees.

Yossi Cohen, former head of the Israeli Mossad, cautioned against Israeli officials’ public criticism of Qatar, which acts as a mediator in negotiations with Hamas for prisoner releases. Cohen emphasized Qatar’s unique position to mediate such an agreement, labeling the public critique as misguided.

During these regional diplomatic efforts, Iranian media reported that leading shipping companies, including an Israeli tech startup, are testing a new Middle East land trade route from the UAE and Bahrain through Saudi Arabia to Israel and Europe, bypassing the Red Sea’s security threats. This initiative, a response to attacks around the Bab al-Mandab Strait, seeks safer trade alternatives, facilitated by recent normalization agreements. Despite its limited capacity and dependence on regional stability, this route offers a strategic, albeit short-term, solution to ensure continuous global trade flow, underscoring the evolving dynamics of regional trade and geopolitical relations amidst ongoing tensions.

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★ IRAQ

Iraq’s Security Dialogues and Turkiye – Egypt Reconciliation Signal New Strategic Alliances

Iraq-Iran Discussions Unfold: Security Agreements, Militia Challenges, and Notable Assassination.

On Monday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani met with Ali Akbar Ahmadian, Secretary-General of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, and his delegation in Baghdad, expressing Iraq’s opposition to any unilateral actions by countries that violate international norms of sovereignty. Al-Sudani highlighted Iraq’s dedication to regional stability, and Ahmadian reiterated Iran’s commitment to Iraq’s security, confirming adherence to their security agreement. Interestingly, during his first visit to Baghdad since June 2023,  Ahmadian, paid homage at Qasem Suleimani’s killing site. 

Conversely, reports emerged about Iranian-backed militias in Iraq pressing the Iraqi government for authorization to store their weapons in government military bases demonstrating their concerns of future American strikes. 

In a related incident, Naji Al-Kaabi, a prominent figure of the Iran-backed Shiite militia and political group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, was assassinated by gunmen in eastern Iraq. This follows the militia’s critique of the U.S. military presence in Iraq, questioning the legality of foreign bases on Iraqi soil.

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★ TURKIYE & EGYPT

 

Turkey-Egypt Reconciliation: Erdogan’s Upcoming Visit and Historic Drone Agreement. 

The Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced during his visit today that his country has signed an agreement to supply combat drones to Egypt, marking a pivotal step in the reconciliation process between the two countries. This move underscores the significance of Turkish-Egyptian relations for regional security and trade, particularly in the Mediterranean. Following nearly a decade of tensions, this development precedes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to Cairo in mid-February, the first in about 11 years. Erdogan’s visit aims to build new foundations for bilateral relations at a time of potential regional conflicts, focusing on issues such as the Israeli conflict in Gaza, economic ties, the Eastern Mediterranean gas dispute, and the Libyan crisis, while recognizing natural differences on certain topics.

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📌 Incase you missed it,

🌍 The Region Special Report:  Has Tehran Crossed America’s Redline?

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX  January 26, 2024

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🔗 Follow the latest news from the American Center for Levant Studies via Google News

 

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