Fdd's overnight brief

April 13, 2020

In The News


Iran has been struck by one of the most severe coronavirus outbreaks in the world, but the voices of Iranians affected by the pandemic have remained largely unheard outside the country’s borders. The scale of their suffering has been obscured by often upbeat stories about survivors in Iran’s official media and by an inscrutable government many suspect is underplaying the toll. – Washington Post

Iran’s death toll from COVID-19 has risen by 117 in the past day to 4,474, health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Sunday. – Reuters

President Hassan Rouhani urged Iranians to continue to respect measures to guard against the new coronavirus as “low-risk” business activities resumed in most of the country on Saturday, state news agency IRNA reported. – Reuters

A newspaper close to the office of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has suggested that financial institutions operating under his aegis should support low-income Iranians hit by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. – Radio Farda

Michael Rubin writes: Whereas just a few months ago, most Iranians were indifferent to their government’s outreach to China and the growing Chinese presence in Iran, that too will likely change as suspicion of China and the Chinese will likely taint government outreach. Russia will always have a greater stigma within Iranian society than China, but no longer will Tehran be able to sell its turn toward Beijing as cost-free. That will not mean that Iranian leaders would abandon their eastern strategy, but even ardent regime Islamists recognize the potency of grassroots Iranian nationalism and will think twice about openly crossing it. – The National Interest

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran knows that its ground forces are no match for its main enemy, the United States, and its navy is similarly just a shadow of America’s Fifth Fleet based in the Gulf. However Iran wants to present a threat nevertheless and show that its submarines, of which is has several dozen of varying classes, are relevant. […]The current Iranian naval technology is designed to help it map and communicate at sea. It showcased various concepts that it claims it is employing. This appears to be a way to show its navy is still relevant amid the coronavirus pandemic. – Jerusalem Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: More and more calls are being heard in the United States and Europe to lift or at least ease sanctions for humanitarian reasons, but the U.S. administration will probably not be willing to do so. The dispute persists in the administration between those who believe that now is precisely the time not to give in, to bring Iran to its knees, and those who believe that easing sanctions will serve U.S. policy interests. It will be interesting to see how lifting closures and isolation effects public protest in Iran. So far, the coronavirus has frozen civil revolt and imprisoned the anger within people’s homes. Now it could break out in full force. – Haaretz


Thousands of displaced Syrians have begun moving back to their homes in war-torn Idlib province despite the risk of renewed conflict, some driven by fear that the new coronavirus could wreak havoc on crowded camps near the Turkish border. – Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces on Friday accused the Syrian army of helping the Hezbollah terror group establish a permanent military presence on the Golan Heights, releasing video footage showing a senior Syrian officer visiting the region. – Times of Israel

Editorial: There is a temptation, to which some European governments and politicians are prey, to imagine that Syria’s civil war is over. It would, after all, be politically convenient if the millions of refugees languishing in Turkey and Jordan were to go home, rather than serve as a constant reminder of the EU’s chronic fear of migrants. […]It would be nice to be wrong. Perhaps the international community, having ducked its responsibilities for so long, will at last summon the will to put the regime’s butchers on trial, in absentia if need be, for Ltamenah and the many other war crimes they have committed. Assad must not be allowed to win. – The Guardian


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkey’s interior minister to stay after he offered to resign over an abrupt weekend lockdown that sent tens of thousands of people spilling into the streets, raising the risk of a new wave of virus infections. – Bloomberg

Turkey is not planning to make an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, a presidential spokesman said on Sunday, as the country eyes funding options to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. – Reuters

Turkey is reportedly holding up hundreds of crates of medical equipment purchased by Israelis to aid in Israel’s fight against the coronavirus. – Times of Israel


The arrival of coronavirus has brought no pause in tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the eastern neighborhoods of this contested city, where both sides of the conflict accuse the other of using the pandemic to advance their political purposes. – Washington Post

But other Palestinians in Gaza, who took umbrage at the idea of befriending Israelis, were also listening in. And the resulting public uproar prompted Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, to arrest the youth committee’s leader and several other participants. – New York Times

When Israel’s health minister was found to be infected with the coronavirus early this month, all high-level officials in close contact with him were quarantined, including one who stood out: the director of the Mossad, the storied Israeli spy service. – New York Times

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz instructed their teams to immediately resume intensive negotiations on an emergency government after five days with no talks on Sunday after President Reuven Rivlin rejected both their requests for a mandate to build a coalition. – Jerusalem Post

Although Egypt and Russia have expressed willingness to help reach a prisoner exchange agreement, Hamas has still not received a “serious response” from Israel, a senior Hamas source said on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

Hamas and Israel are holding indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange deal, Palestinian sources said on Sunday, adding that under the proposed agreement, Israel would send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including ventilators, as the Hamas-controlled enclave braces for a potentially disastrous outbreak of the coronavirus. – Haaretz

Musa Dodin, Hamas’s spokesman on prisoners and a member of the political bureau, denied media reports of an increase in negotiations with Israel leading to a prisoner exchange. – Arutz Sheva

Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza will open from Monday to Thursday for Palestinian Arabs seeking to return to the Gaza Strip, the PA embassy in Cairo said on Sunday, according to Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper. – Arutz Sheva

The Palestinian Authority has reportedly been mounting a “campaign of incitement” for the past week, accusing Israel of “spreading the virus” in Palestinian areas of the West Bank. – Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held a round of phone conversations with Middle East leaders to urge them to oppose Israel’s possible annexation of parts of the West Bank, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said on Saturday. – Times of Israel


As the United States and Iran wage a shadow war across the Middle East, Iraq has become their most volatile battlefield. Officials and experts predict that Kadhimi, a backroom operator with a reputation for juggling alliances in Washington, Tehran and the wider region, is likely to overcome the hurdles that felled two candidates before him, in large part because he has the rare distinction of being acceptable to both the United States and Iran. – Washington Post

On April 8, 2020, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper published a report, citing a “security source” as saying that Iran is providing training and weapons to the newly founded Iraqi Shi’ite group, called “The League of Revolutionaries” to target U.S. interests and harm Gulf interests. According to the report, the militia is trained and armed by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) and that training includes preparations for attacking American bases, oil companies, and kidnapping soldiers. – Middle East Media Research Institute

On April 8, 2020, the League of Revolutionaries, a recently formed Iraqi group that appears to be an Iranian proxy, released an approximately two-minute video threatening U.S. troops in Iraq. – Middle East Media Research Institute

New air defense systems are now protecting American and allied forces at military bases in Iraq where troops have been attacked by Iranian-backed insurgents in recent months, according to U.S. officials. – Associated Press

The US announced Friday up to $10 million in rewards for information on Sheikh Mohammad al-Kawrharani, the senior Hezbollah commander in Iraq who was sent to Baghdad in January to help coordinate pro-Iranian militias in the country. – Jerusalem Post

Farzin Nadimi and Hamdi Malik write: The signs of deep resentment among pro-Sistani and pro-Iran militia units suggest an eventual bifurcation in the PMF ranks, and Kadhimi’s appointment could accelerate that process. Such a scenario would deeply damage the organization’s legitimacy as an official Iraqi military body. Although the PMF is dominated by Iranian-backed factions, much of the general population still admires it as the fruit of Sistani’s 2014 fatwa asking all able-bodied Iraqi men to take up arms and fight the Islamic State. If factions supervised by Sistani’s assistants decide to withdraw from the PMF, it would tarnish the organization’s public reputation. – Washington Institute

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: Accordingly, a meaningful strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq must address all three of these sets of issues – or ghosts – politics and governance, economics, and security. It cannot continue to be focused on security, and particularly on ISIS. Iraq must find its own answers in each case, and the United States cannot help an Iraq that cannot unite or act to the point where it can help itself. At the same time, the United States must decide whether it will commit itself to a sustained effort to help Iraq emerge as a nation that is unified and strong enough to prevent further civil conflict and act independently of Iranian pressure and threats. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia, Russia and the U.S. agreed to lead a multinational coalition in major oil-production cuts after a drop in demand due to the coronavirus crisis and a Saudi-Russian feud devastated oil prices. The deal, sealed Sunday, came after President Trump intervened to help resolve a Saudi-Mexico standoff that jeopardized the broader pact. – Wall Street Journal

Republican U.S. senators from oil states who recently introduced legislation to remove American troops from Saudi Arabia said on Saturday they had spoken with three officials from the kingdom and urged them to take concrete action to cut crude output. – Reuters

Yemen reported its first case of coronavirus Friday in a southern government-controlled province, raising fears of an outbreak in the war-torn country as air strikes blamed on the Saudi-led coalition tested a unilateral truce. – Agence France-Presse

David Moscrop writes: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to hold the world’s attention, Canada has decided to resume selling weapons to the butcher regime in Saudi Arabia. […]The decision is wrong. The decision is immoral. The decision ought to be condemned. The decision ought to be reversed. And, in the meantime, Canadians ought to give careful consideration to the chasm between what Canada says it prefers, values and represents, and how it behaves when put to the test. – Washington Post


Conditions are worsening in Tripoli, the besieged Libyan capital, after water and natural gas supplies to the city were cut in recent days, making life even more difficult for a population living with war and the new threat of coronavirus. […]Last week shells struck al-Khadra, one of Tripoli’s biggest hospitals in an area near the front line, prompting a rebuke from the UN for “a clear violation of international humanitarian law”. – Financial Times

The United Arab Emirates has reportedly supplied an Israeli air defense system to Libyan strongman Gen. Khalifa Haftar to counter Turkish drones supplied to his rival, as fighting to capture Tripoli intensifies. – Jerusalem Post

Libya’s UN-recognised government in Tripoli has declared its own seaports unsafe and has said it will not authorise the landing of migrants stopped at sea and sent back to Libyan territory by its coastguard vessels. – The Guardian

Middle East & North Africa

The United Arab Emirates is considering imposing restrictions on work quotas of countries that refuse to accept their nationals who wish to leave the Gulf nation amid the coronavirus outbreak. – Bloomberg

Jonathan Roberts and John B. Craig write: Whatever the solution may be, the independent international legal experts on maritime borders must be engaged through an equally independent and preferably US-based platform to address best ways to link the methods of delimiting contentious areas to achieve equitable outcomes that UNCLOS has not fully addressed, allowing judicial decisions on best methods available. Exclusion, unilateral decision-making, and aggression will only maintain, if not intensify, the status quo. Characterization of the Eastern Mediterranean must go beyond the dispute and conflict to include the opportunities awaiting it. – The Hill

Hassan Mneimneh writes: This ability to adapt, even as political leaders take advantage of new ways to frustrate the movement’s efforts, speaks to the dynamism of the October 17 protests. They were not an incidental departure from the reality of a Lebanon burdened by communitarianism and dominated by kleptocratic neo-feudalism and subservience to Iran. The movement’s continued efforts are instead the expression, even if still in need of growth, of a society that can no longer afford the bleeding to which it has been subjected. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

Leader Kim Jong Un chaired the North Korean central party’s political bureau meeting this weekend, the Korean Central News Agency reported. – Bloomberg

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un raised the standing of his sister as a key player in the secretive state and bolstered his new foreign minister in a cadre shuffle that comes as he tries to fend off the coronavirus pandemic. – Bloomberg

When U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper rang his South Korean counterpart this week, he pressed for a deal quickly on defense cost-sharing that President Donald Trump expects will translate into much higher contributions from Seoul. But current and former U.S. officials say privately there appears to be little hope of clinching a new agreement in the coming days, and some wonder about the coming weeks and months. – Reuters

Shea Cotton writes: As with two years ago, when North Korea was preparing to meet the president for a summit, North Korea will not voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons or missile systems. The best that negotiations can probably hope to gain is to restart and lock in North Korea’s missile and nuclear-testing moratorium in exchange for some sanctions relief. […]Potentially, in time, North Korea’s current capability may even decay if it is unable to carry out tests verifying its systems function as expected. If not, then we may once again look back to now in a year’s time as another missed chance to slow North Korea’s missile development. – Defense News


In a world where geopolitical power is increasingly linked to technological advancement, the U.S. has long led its rivals. American companies make some of the world’s fastest computers, deadliest jet fighters and most capable robots. But China’s growing economy—now the world’s second largest—and huge government investments in technologies are eating away at that edge like never before. – Wall Street Journal

China has been buying up ads on U.S. social-media sites and adopting online tactics reminiscent of Russian disinformation campaigns in an apparent attempt to shape the story internationally about the coronavirus response, according to researchers analyzing the activity. – Wall Street Journal

Flagship Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is offering global telemedicine services to counter the coronavirus pandemic, but U.S. analysts suspect the public health applications will extend China’s high-tech surveillance state overseas. – Washington Examiner

The White House accused Voice of America, a federally funded but independent news organization, of promoting Chinese propaganda through their coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. – Washington Examiner

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee announced the escalation of their investigation into the Chinese government’s influence on the World Health Organization during the coronavirus outbreak, demanding the group hand over its internal communications with Beijing. – Washington Examiner

China is still implementing the first phase of a Sino-U.S. trade pact, its ambassador to the United States said, but hoped the two could work together to assess the changing situation and coordinate their response, the Global Times said on Sunday. – Reuters

As coronavirus continues to cripple almost every country on earth, questions are being raised over the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the top brass at the World Health Organization (WHO). – ABC 14 News

Nikki Haley has criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) over their response to the coronavirus outbreak, accusing them of pandering to China instead of protecting the health of the global population. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: China has leveraged its economic and political muscle to obfuscate about the virus and even deny its origin out of national pride. But some Western progressives do the work for them because of their fear the truth could lead to stigma. Elite humanities and social science journals have already bent to elaborate political conventions, leading to a loss of trust from the general public. If that happens in the natural sciences, the consequences could be much worse. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Orestes writes: This doesn’t come close to addressing the damage China has wrought fully, and some global coordination is needed. But these are the kinds of dramatic, message-sending initial steps the U.S. must take to end these transgressions. China will retaliate, and it will be uncomfortable, but it must be done. The only way to stop a super predator is with a larger super predator. Reciprocity is long overdue. – Washington Examiner

Bradley A. Thayer and Lianchao Han write: One encouraging sign is that the CCP has developed deep cracks, and some may be reflecting on the consequences of dictatorship. True political reform that leads to democracy and the rule of law is the only way out for China. Ren Zhiqiang may be the last hope for creating a reformed China. If the nation falls into a Maoist abyss, it likely would take international peace and stability with it. – The Hill

Andrew Sullivan writes: The Chinese dictatorship is, in fact, through recklessness and cover-up, responsible for a global plague and tipping the entire world into a deep depression. It has also corrupted the World Health Organization, which was so desperate for China’s cooperation it swallowed Xi’s coronavirus lies and regurgutated them. […]And so the virus has forced us to accept another discomforting reality: Integrating a communist dictatorship into a democratic world economy is a mug’s game. From now on, conscious decoupling is the order of the day. – NY Mag

Joseph Bosco writes: Just as an increasingly reckless and irresponsible China unleashed the coronavirus pandemic on the world, its actions may well cause war to break out across the Taiwan Strait. If so — and like the pandemic, Tiananmen, Uighur concentration camps, live organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents and a range of other moral outrages, the institution of the Chinese Communist Party “will be perceived as having failed.” It will, at long last, be time for it to go. Priorities must be established. – The Hill

Kathy Gilsinan writes: If this is something short of complicity in a Chinese cover-up—which is what former National Security Adviser John Bolton has alleged of the WHO—it does point to a big vulnerability: The group’s membership includes transparent democracies and authoritarian states and systems in between, which means the information the WHO puts out is only as good as what it’s getting from the likes of Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. – The Atlantic

Renée DiResta writes: The tension from the information war between the United States and China on the origin of COVID-19 has resulted in increased political brinkmanship[…]. Social-media companies should be paying far closer attention to the stories they’re allowing state-media propagandists to pay to boost. Allowing misleading narratives to take hold during a pandemic can cause immeasurable harm, and risks turning the major tech platforms into accomplices in the deliberate spread of lies. – The Atlantic

James Andrew Lewis writes: China’s legitimate desire for economic development is complicated by powerful commercial motives. […]The U.S. and its allies have a strong hand to play in this contest, since the Party’s rule is fragile, and China’s economy, despite its size, needs access to and partnership with the West. A good first step, one where the U.S. might be able to persuade Europe and Japan to join us, is to insist on reciprocity in the treatment of foreign and Chinese companies. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The Taliban said it would on Sunday release the first prisoners in a delayed exchange deal with the Afghan government — a potential breakthrough after the insurgents walked out of talks with Kabul last week. – Agence France-Presse

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan met Taliban leadership in Doha to discuss the need to reduce violence in the war-torn country, spokesmen for both sides said on Saturday, as continued clashes threaten to derail a fragile peace process. – Reuters

India will export 50,000 tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan and 40,000 tonnes of the grain to Lebanon in diplomatic deals, the Indian farm minister said on Friday. – Reuters


The coronavirus pandemic is stoking long-simmering tensions between China and the island democracy of Taiwan, underscoring differences between their political systems and deepening resentment toward Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

The United States on Thursday accused the World Health Organization of putting politics first by ignoring early coronavirus warnings by Taiwan, which voiced outrage over criticism from the UN body’s chief. – Agence France-Presse

A Chinese naval flotilla led by the country’s first aircraft carrier passed by the eastern and southern coasts of Taiwan on Sunday to carry out drills, the island’s defence ministry said, in the latest uptick in military tensions. – Reuters

Shelling across the border between India and Pakistan killed three Indian civilians and wounded two Pakistani civilians, military officials from the two sides said on Sunday. – Reuters

Editorial: Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus has reminded the world of its unpredictable and nationalistic tendencies. Preventing an imbalance of power in the Pacific is crucial to America’s peace and prosperity, and the “First to Fight” may be showing the path forward for the rest of the Department of Defense. – Wall Street Journal


The letters from detained American Paul Whelan cannot convey anything about his case or the espionage charges he faces in Russia, so they tend to be repetitive — detail after detail about his days inside Moscow’s Lefortovo prison for the past 15 months. The next week may decide if anything will change for the 50-year-old former Marine, who denies the spying accusations. – Washington Post

Spring is not turning out the way Russian President Vladimir Putin might have planned it. A nationwide vote on April 22 was supposed to finalize sweeping constitutional reforms that would allow him to stay in power until 2036, if he wished. But after the coronavirus spread in Russia, that plebiscite had to be postponed – an action so abrupt that billboards promoting it already had been erected in Moscow and other big cities. – Associated Press

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused the U.S. State Department of spreading disinformation by not mentioning Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in a Facebook post about the International Day of Human Space Flight. – Associated Press

Janusz Bugajski writes: Both Moscow and Beijing view any crisis in the West as an opportunity to pursue their expansionist agendas. They may become bolder to deflect attention from their own internal failings. Some EU governments and the Trump administration may favor a rapprochement with Russia on the assumption that this will enable a joint approach to shared threats. […]The pandemic emergency should serve as a lesson that transatlantic collaboration can better ensure the safety and security of all citizens. Temporary social distancing should not result in national distancing among close allies. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Jeffrey Mankoff, William Heerdt and Timothy Kostelancik write: While the impact of Russian disinformation operations related to Covid-19 will not be known for some time, early indicators and past lessons suggest that virus-related disinformation can be particularly effective. […]In Moscow’s calculus, however, the rewards likely outweigh the risks. As the crisis develops, expect Russia to continue to take advantage of the situation, tailoring its disinformation to play to societal anxieties and institutional vulnerabilities abroad in an effort to undermine trust in governments it views as hostile. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


European governments are strengthening protections against foreign business takeovers as concerns grow that companies whose share prices have slumped because of the coronavirus outbreak are vulnerable to unwanted approaches from bargain hunters. – Wall Street Journal

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has left the hospital and is continuing to recover from coronavirus, as recorded deaths from the illness across Britain and Northern Ireland passed the 10,000 mark. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump ordered a “robust assistance package” to help Italy combat the coronavirus pandemic, the administration announced Saturday.  – The Hill

In Serbia, one of Beijing’s closest European allies, and a handful of other friendly countries, China is providing on-the-ground guidance to help battle the coronavirus that has swept around the world. The outreach is part of a wider push by Beijing to assert global leadership in battling COVID-19 after facing criticism from Washington and elsewhere that it fumbled its early response to the outbreak, believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. – Reuters

The European Union began this year reinvigorated, having seen off the threat of Brexit with a unity of purpose that typically eludes it when faced with such existential challenges. […]What a difference a few months and a global pandemic make. The only issue world leaders have the capacity to deal with right now has dragged the EU back into the quicksand of its own dysfunction.- CNN

Britain’s intelligence community believes the UK needs to reassess its relationship with China after the coronavirus crisis subsides and consider if tighter controls are needed over high-tech and other strategic industries. – The Guardian

The EU’s Franco-German engine — written off as a spent force by some — has sprung back to life in the face of the coronavirus crisis, with Paris and Berlin working in tandem to unblock a €500bn rescue package for the eurozone, a deal which at one point had been close to collapse. – Financial Times

The current major postwar explosion of European antisemitism started 20 years ago. France was the first country to have a major increase of incidents. One would have expected that various Jewish organizations would since have developed teaching packages. These would have been used to educate people to understand the essence of antisemitism as a precondition for action. I have never seen efficient packages. – Jerusalem Post

John Dalhuisen writes:  Europe is in lockdown. Politicians everywhere are focused on one thing: battling Covid-19. Except in Poland, where the biggest talking point lately has been whether to proceed with presidential elections on May 10. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is determined it should go ahead. […]True to form, the response of other EU governments has been limp. None has criticised Hungary directly; none has even mentioned Poland. Poles will of course decide how and when they conduct elections. But this does not mean the rest of the EU should shrug when decisions are taken that undermine the principles upon which the bloc is built. – Financial Times


This was a squad in a fearsome desert battle group trundling through the Malian steppe — soldiers of the legendary French Foreign Legion, which welcomes recruits from anywhere in the world. – New York Times

African officials are confronting China publicly and in private over racist mistreatment of Africans in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, and the U.S. says African-Americans have been targeted too. – Associated Press

Beijing is facing a diplomatic crisis in Africa after reports of alleged coronavirus-related discrimination against African nationals in China sparked widespread anger across the continent. – CNN

Judd Devermont writes: The COVID-19 outbreak is an unmitigated disaster for both the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. While it is crucial to address the health crisis at home, the U.S. government can’t miss this opportunity to support its African partners in their fight against the pandemic. It would be equally tragic if the United States wasted this moment by failing to evolve its policies and redefine its relationships to confront a new reality. – The Hill

North America

While scholars debate whether the coronavirus crisis will mark a turning point in modern world history, smaller-scale dramas — some affecting the Trump administration’s highest foreign policy priorities — are still playing out across the globe. – Washington Post

That reality, and the principle of global cuts, were endorsed at a special Group of 20 meeting Friday, but to keep the Mexican stand from undermining the fragile and tentative agreement, Trump announced that the United States would “pick up the slack” so Mexico would not have to scale back too deeply. – Washington Post

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked another global outbreak of anti-Semitism. Anti-Defamation League Israel Director Carole Nuriel spoke to Arutz Sheva about the threats Jews are facing in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. – Arutz Sheva

Latin America

France and Bolivia have postponed elections. Peru handed its president broad new legislative authority. […]While leaders around the world fight the spread of the coronavirus, they’re amassing sweeping new powers. As legislatures limit or suspend activities in the name of social distancing, many of the norms that define democracy — elections, deliberation and debate, checks and balances — have been put on indefinite hold. – Washington Post

Ecuador is one of a handful of U.S. allies that fell in step with the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on Cuba, bringing an end to agreements that filled understaffed clinics and hospitals from the snow-capped Andes to the sweltering Amazon with thousands of doctors and nurses trained by the communist state. – Washington Post

Queues for petrol are nothing new in Venezuela but the recent lines have been some of the worst. […]The shortages are just one of several factors that have put Mr Maduro on the back foot. The US justice system has charged him with “international narco-terrorism” and placed a $15m bounty on his head. – Financial Times

Antonio De La Cruz writes: It is still unclear what role Roszarubezhneft will play in Venezuela in the future, but Rosneft’s withdrawal shows that the Maduro regime is much more financially and politically isolated than ever before. Now, Putin’s support for the Maduro regime will depend financially and politically on Russian state institutions. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Cuba’s medical scams aimed at earning hard currency and spreading communist propaganda have created a false sense of progress in the battle against infectious diseases in the region. Before PAHO gets another dime of U.S. funding, it ought to explain why it aids Havana’s phony health-care schemes. – Wall Street Journal


The study — which analyzed coronavirus-related news from state-backed English-language media in Russia, China, Iran and Turkey — found some common themes that have the potential to cloud and complicate global efforts to tackle the pandemic. – Washington Post

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, called Friday for an end to using Zoom to conduct the panel’s business remotely due to potential security concerns. – The Hill

The Federal Communications Commission is poised to approve a draft order as soon as today that would reallocate a specific portion of the radio spectrum for broadband communications, overruling a decade of strong objections from the Department of Defense. – C4ISRNET


Defense Secretary Mark Esper left open the possibility of reinstating the commanding officer who was relieved of duty for pleading to military leadership to act faster to protect his crew from the coronavirus in a leaked letter. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. State Department on Friday OK’d a pair of foreign military sales that could bring in $715 million for American firms. – Defense News

The COVID-19 pandemic is not slowing down the Army’s plans to field an enduring indirect fires protection capability, according to Lt. Col. Juan Santiago, the service’s program development manager for the effort. – Defense News

President Trump has officially named Marshall Billingslea as his special envoy for arms control, a role expected to spearhead efforts to reach a nuclear agreement with Russia and China. – The Hill

Supporters of a treaty meant to reduce the risk of accidental war are sounding the alarm President Trump could withdraw from the agreement as the world’s attention is consumed by the coronavirus pandemic. – The Hill

William Winkenwerder Jr. writes: The U.S. military is our greatest national asset to protect Americans from threats abroad and domestically in times of crisis. Until we have effective treatments or a vaccine, we must act quickly to protect the health and safety of our military—so service members can protect and defend us. – Wall Street Journal

Long War

The recent lapse of a set of federal surveillance powers has begun to limit the FBI’s ability to pursue some terrorism and espionage suspects, a top Justice Department official said, outlining how the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic are being felt across U.S. national security efforts. – Wall Street Journal

Pakistan’s military says government troops raided a militant hideout in a former Taliban stronghold near Afghanistan on April 10, triggering a shootout in which seven militants and two soldiers were killed. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Fiyaz Mughal writes: For some extremist individuals and groups, the coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to inflame tensions and to further promote hatred and intolerance. Using God as an excuse for the spread of disease, famine or pestilence is nothing new. The tipping point will be if enough “believers” translate their narratives into violent acts. We may be fighting an unseen enemy, but we must be equally vigilant against the visible extremists who seek to exploit this emergency for hatred – and the loss of yet more lives. – Haaretz