Fdd's overnight brief

April 17, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iranian authorities launched a fresh campaign to force women to wear a headscarf, or hijab, as the clerical establishment seeks to reassert its grip on power months after women’s rights protests morphed into a nationwide movement against the Islamic Republic. – Wall Street Journal

The long shadow war between Iran and Israel is moving into an unpredictable new phase after one of the Islamic Republic’s most powerful military commanders began rallying allies across the Middle East to launch a fresh wave of attacks on Israeli targets. – Wall Street Journal

Iranian authorities plan to prosecute people who encourage women to remove their headscarves and have also installed cameras in public places and on highways to catch violators of the country’s strict dress code, according to local media and a senior judicial official. – Washington Post

Iran’s judiciary sentenced 10 members of its air defense forces to between one and 13 years in prison for their involvement in shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane near Tehran in 2020, state media reported. – Bloomberg

Iran’s exiled crown prince is scheduled to come to Israel this week on a visit that reflects the warm ties his father once had with Israel and the current state of hostility between Israel and the Islamic Republic. – Associated Press 

Iran’s president on Friday delivered an unprecedented speech to an annual pro-Palestinian rally in the Gaza Strip — a display of Iran’s importance to the Hamas militant group that rules the territory. – Associated Press

Tens of thousands of Iranians, some chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” marched in the capital of Tehran on Friday to mark Jerusalem Day, an annual show of support for the Palestinians. – Associated Press 

Entering the final week of Ramadan, Israeli security officials are warning of pending trouble in Jerusalem, even as they plan for a future war further away. This Friday is Quds Day, an annual date created by the Iranian Islamic Republic to provoke Muslims against Israel’s hold on Jerusalem. In protests organized by the government at Tehran and other cities, Iranians carry Palestinian flags all day and chant slogans against the “Zionist entity.” – New York Sun

More than 300 poisoning incidents have occurred at schools around Iran, which critics argue could not happen without Tehran’s acknowledgment or approval. – Fox News 

The Islamic Republic held its annual anti-Israel rent-a-crowd parade Friday, reiterating threats against regional countries over normalization of ties with Israel. – Iran International 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The report closely examines Israel’s zig-zag on the judicial reforms and Netanyahu’s relations with his coalition members. The analyst argues that recent statements from Israeli officials note that “Israel is destroying itself with these demonstrations.” In essence, Iran assesses that its own backing of Palestinian groups has not had much affect but that Israel’s internal domestic problems could be its undoing. In essence, Iran thinks Israel’s security forces are strong, it believes that it can only weaken Israel by waiting, or by encouraging proxy forces to threaten it. – Jerusalem Post

Meir Javedanfar writes: Despite the lack of support for Holocaust denial among the Iranian people, the regime is likely to insist on its Holocaust denial, especially because of the leadership’s subscription to antisemitic beliefs and conspiracies. While such antisemitic obsessions continue to distort the Islamic Republic’s policies and attitudes toward with the West and Israel, the global community must not only continue with its condemnation of the regime’s Holocaust denial, but also invest in efforts to provide Persian-language Holocaust education, a topic that remains absent in Iran’s schools to this day. – Algemeiner

Farzin Nadimi writes: In this environment, the U.S. Navy’s flexible and stealthy guided missile submarines are an excellent alternative to carrier deployments when needed, providing a way to enhance deterrence against Tehran and its proxies by maintaining a persistent clandestine presence—and delivering occasional public reminders of U.S. firepower. Notably, all four SSGNs are slated for retirement between 2026 and 2028, with no replacement in sight. Until then, however, the prospect of 154 Tomahawks causing massive damage inside Iran could send a powerful message, since the regime is obviously much more sensitive to potential strikes on its home territory versus far away in Syria. – Washington Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Heavy fighting gripped the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut Sunday, as Russia claimed small advances while Ukraine said the intensity of the battle had reached its highest level yet. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian rescue workers on Saturday searched for survivors in a housing complex in the eastern city of Slovyansk that had been hit by a Russian missile strike that killed at least nine civilian residents. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s ambassador to the United States said that Washington had threatened to retaliate if Moscow did not release the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in Russia and charged with espionage, marking a new low in tensions between the two countries. – New York Times 

The European Union has criticized bans by Poland and Hungary on imports of Ukrainian grain and other foods over the weekend, saying the unilateral moves were “unacceptable.” – New York Times

The Russian government has become far more successful at manipulating social media and search engine rankings than previously known, boosting lies about Ukraine’s military and the side effects of vaccines with hundreds of thousands of fake online accounts, according to documents recently leaked on the chat app Discord. – Washington Post

A Russian court sentenced Vladimir Kara-Murza, a longtime opposition politician and Washington Post Opinions contributor, to 25 years in prison on Monday on charges of treason for criticizing Russia’s war on Ukraine. – Washington Post

Russia said on Sunday that Wagner mercenary units supported by airborne troops had captured two more city blocks in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, target of a major offensive by Moscow. – Reuters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Sunday again proposed establishing a group of countries not involved with the Russia-Ukraine war to broker peace, saying he had discussed the matter with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this week. – Reuters

A Chinese company bought at least $7.4 million worth of copper alloy ingots from a plant in a Russian-annexed region of Ukraine that is subject to Western sanctions, according to Russian customs data reviewed by Reuters. – Reuters

Ukrainian forces are finding a growing number of components from China in Russian weapons used in Ukraine, a senior adviser in President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office told Reuters, as Western supplies are squeezed by sanctions. – Reuters

Russia’s most powerful mercenary group, Wagner, sent at least 100 Ukrainian prisoners of war back to Ukrainian forces to mark Orthodox Easter, according to a video posted by the group’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, on Sunday. – Reuters

The extension of a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain and fertilizers beyond May 18 hangs in the balance after Russia issued a list of demands linked to a related agreement on its own such exports. – Reuters

Kyiv will aim to secure the re-opening of food and grain transit via Poland as a “first step” at talks in Warsaw on Monday, Ukraine’s agriculture minister said, after Poland and Hungary announced bans on some imports from Ukraine. – Reuters

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will visit Baghdad on Monday for talks with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani and other senior Iraqi officials, according to a Ukrainian cabinet statement. The goal is to increase political dialogue, trade and communication in international forums, according to the statement. – Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with China’s defense minister on Sunday, underscoring Beijing’s strengthening engagement with Moscow, with which it has largely aligned its foreign policy in an attempt to diminish the influence of the United States and other Western democracies. – Associated Press

Slovakia has delivered the remaining nine of the 13 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets that it promised to Ukraine, the Slovak Defense Ministry said on Monday. – Associated Press 

First the Russians gave the U.N. spotlight to the commissioner of children’s rights accused with President Vladimir Putin of war crimes for deporting Ukrainian children to Russia, sparking a walkout by the U.S. and several others. – Associated Press 

Switzerland says it will spend about $2 billion to help Ukraine with humanitarian and development assistance over the next six years, ponying up financial aid for Ukraine as Western critics press Bern to do more to help it defend itself against Russian invaders and squeeze Russian interests. – Associated Press 

Belarusian air force crews have completed their training for using tactical nuclear weapons as part of Russia’s plan to deploy the weapons to its ally Belarus amid the fighting in neighboring Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said Friday. – Associated Press

The trove of leaked Pentagon documents has the potential to both help and hurt embattled Ukraine, as the documents paint a messier picture of the war but also amp up pressure to get more weapons to the country. – The Hill

Elizabeth Bernstein writes: On Friday morning, Ms. Milman received a letter to the family that Evan handwrote in Russian from prison a few days earlier. He joked about his childhood breakfasts preparing him for prison food. He signed it “Vanya.” “I have a Soviet upbringing, and we always expect the worst,” Ms. Milman said, adding that she fully understands what her son is facing. “But I believe in the American dream, and I hope for a positive ending.” – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: As Ukraine steps toward the moment of decision, the United States must be certain it has given them all the tools they need to succeed. President Biden doesn’t want to start World War III, but he will look back with regret if the United States and its allies leave any weapons or ammunition on the sidelines that could responsibly be used in this conflict. Whatever Biden might wish later he had done if things go badly, he should do now. – Washington Post

Max Bergmann, Maria Snegovaya, Tina Dolbaia, Nick Fenton, and Samuel Bendett write: The report finds that sanctions create shortages of higher-end foreign components and force Moscow to substitute them with lower-quality alternatives. At the same time, the Kremlin still possesses a significant degree of adaptability to Western sanctions, taking advantage of its prewar stockpiles of older equipment, as well as countries willing to supply Moscow with restricted dual-use items and technology via a web of illicit supply chains. Considering Russia’s existing capabilities and limitations, it will likely opt for a slower-paced attritional campaign in Ukraine, putting pressure on Kyiv and its Western partners, but thereby further stressing its military and industrial base already stretched thin by sanctions and the last 12 months of the invasion. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Israel’s government on Saturday rebuffed an outlook downgrade on the country from credit ratings agency Moody’s, while tens of thousands of Israelis returned to the streets to protest against a planned overhaul of the country’s judiciary. – Reuters

Thousands of Palestinian Christians and pilgrims from around the world filled Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday to celebrate the Orthodox Holy Light ceremony, under a heavy Israeli police presence that has drawn anger from churches. – Reuters

Muslim worshippers packed Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa compound for noon prayers on the fourth Friday of the holy month of Ramadan under heightened Israeli police presence. – Reuters

Israeli demonstrations against the government’s plan to overhaul the judiciary continued on Saturday, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to pause the contentious proposals. – Associated Press

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has warned that the U.S. will face a nuclear escalation across the Middle East if Iran obtains nuclear weapons – which could then end up in the hands of terrorists.  – Fox News 

Talks between the coalition and opposition aimed at reaching a compromise on the judicial reform renewed at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Monday morning. – Jerusalem Post 

The Biden administration urged Israel on Sunday to implement the long-frozen agreement to renovate and formalize an egalitarian prayer space at the Orthodox-controlled Western Wall in Jerusalem. – Times of Israel

Police in Jerusalem shot and wounded a Palestinian man accused of setting a car on fire and vandalizing other vehicles in the Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Yaakov early Monday, authorities said. – Times of Israel 

Azerbaijan’s first-ever ambassador to Israel, Mukhtar Mammadov, has only been in his new role for several weeks, yet he talks and acts as if he’s been an envoy to the Jewish state for years. – Jewish Insider

Seth J. Frantzman writes: There is no evidence that Palestinians or Israelis want to live in one state, so how they would be forced to do so is unclear. Historically, trying to shoehorn different groups into one state, like in former Yugoslavia or elsewhere, has not been successful. The “one state” proposals dismisses the actual reality that exists in Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and the impossibility of one country governing all these places. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: By this time the Syrian regime had returned to the Golan border; and Russian military police who were supposed to help ease this transition to regime control had left. Hezbollah was able to exploit the vacuum in southern Syria. The overall story is now one in which Hezbollah and Palestinian groups increasingly feel they can test Israel in a prelude to a possible wider conflict. – Jerusalem Post


The Taliban has managed to squeeze more tax revenue out of the country than the previous U.S.-backed governments, even as the economy collapses and most Afghans are struggling to afford food. The government doesn’t have much of a choice—it has been cut off from the international aid that sustained administrations in Kabul for nearly two decades. – Wall Street Journal

The United Nations has announced that it is reviewing its operations in Afghanistan, and told all staff to remain at home, after the Taliban banned Afghan women from working for the world body. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Pakistan has decided to send its ambassador back to Afghanistan this week, more than four months after he was pulled out because of a failed attempt on his life in Kabul by the Islamic State group, multiple official sources told VOA Sunday. – VOA News


Syria’s return to the Arab League will be “almost impossible before correcting bilateral relations”, the Syrian foreign minister said in comments about the possibility of preparing for the Arab League. – Reuters 

Islamic State militants have killed 26 people who were foraging for wild truffles in Syria’s Hama region, opposition and state media reported Sunday. – Associated Press

The U.S. Central Command said its forces targeted and likely killed a senior Islamic State leader who it said was involved in “planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe” in the early hours of Monday. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Saudi Arabia is seeing its independent foreign policy and initiatives pay off. Meanwhile Russia is trying to get Turkey to reconcile with Syria. Many things are in the works in the region as a new diplomatic era dawns. It’s entirely possible that in coming weeks more momentous diplomatic activity will take place. – Jerusalem Post


Four Turkish soldiers were wounded in artillery and rocket attacks by Kurdish militants on bases in northern Syria, prompting a counter attack, Ankara said on Sunday. – Reuters

Turkey summoned the Danish ambassador in Ankara to express its strong condemnation and protest over what it said had been attacks on the Koran and on the Turkish flag on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia

Senior Saudi officials were planning to meet with leaders of the Palestinian militant and political group Hamas on Sunday to discuss renewing diplomatic ties which have been cool since 2007, part of a diplomacy spree led by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman that has seen Riyadh move closer to Iran. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia on Monday will release a number of detainees to Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Cross said, in a unilateral move that follows three days of simultaneous detainee exchanges between the warring parties in Yemen’s conflict. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia has put a second four-percent chunk of shares of the Aramco energy giant, worth tens of billions of dollars, under the control of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, state media said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Middle East & North Africa

Gulf Arab foreign ministers and their counterparts from Egypt, Iraq and Jordan discussed Syria’s possible return to the Arab fold at a meeting in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Oil exports from northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan remain at a standstill almost three weeks after an arbitration case ruled Ankara owed Baghdad compensation for unauthorised exports. – Reuters

Senior aides to U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday hailed progress toward resolving conflict in Yemen after “constructive” talks in Saudi Arabia with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. – Reuters

The head of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said on Saturday that his forces were ready to cooperate with Egypt to ease the return of Egyptian troops who had handed themselves over to the group in the northern Sudanese town of Merowe. – Reuters

The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group on Friday claimed that Israel did not hit Hamas or Hezbollah targets in last week’s strikes on southern Lebanon. – Associated Press

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to visit Saudi Arabia on Monday as a Hamas delegation also visits the Kingdom, according to Palestinian reports. – Jerusalem Post

A video on social media, that purports to be published by Iraq’s Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba movement, includes scenes threatening Israel. The video was posted this week. The video appears to have been released as reports emerged that Palestinian Islamic Jihad was also holding meetings in Baghdad. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The winds of the change in the region, the new era of diplomacy, US shifting priorities, and Iran’s shifting priorities, could all add up to moves that bring the West Bank and Gaza back into the spotlight. There is a quote attributed to Leon Trotsky that “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” Indeed, while most of the region may not be interested in war, war may be interested in the region. Towards that end clashes in Gaza or the West Bank may be what interests the region soon. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The RSF has made claims about various gains, however it is assumed that the military has more assets than the RSF, in terms of warplanes and tanks and the kinds of heavy weapons that may decide a long conflict. Al-Arabiya reports that several officials, including RSF sector commanders, have been killed in fighting.  – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

The United States, South Korea and Japan will conduct a joint missile defense exercise Monday in waters near the Korean Peninsula as they expand military training to counter the growing threats of North Korea’s nuclear-capable missiles, the South Korean navy said. – Associated Press 

South Korea fired warning shots toward a North Korean vessel that crossed the maritime border, South Korea’s military said on Sunday, a day after the incident that further raised tension over the North’s missile tests. – Reuters

South Korea’s defense procurement agency has approved two major acquisition programs, paving the way for the country to develop a new electronic warfare aircraft and buy new heavy-lift helicopters. – Defense News 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The new developments in China related to missile technology also matter, as does North Korea’s continuing threats against Japan. In a globalized world, the reactions of the West to the threats in the Pacific are as important as the reactions to Iran’s nuclear program in bolstering security in these various regions. – Jerusalem Post 


In the U.S., Chinese asylum seekers have been among the groups with the highest acceptance rate, 67%, in recent decades, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data-research organization at Syracuse University. Asylum seekers are eligible for work authorization after their asylum application has been pending for 180 days, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and its allies are grappling with how to pare their economic relationships with China, attempting to limit ties in certain sectors they view as strategic while preserving broader trade and investment flows with the world’s second-largest economy. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva struck a unified pose in defiance of U.S. foreign and trade policy in a meeting in Beijing on Friday, adding weight to Beijing’s pushback against what it sees as a Washington-led containment effort. – Wall Street Journal

The last time President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, spoke, they celebrated 30 years of diplomatic ties, hailing their “deepening political mutual trust” and their people’s “profound friendship.” – New York Times

The Chinese defense minister has hailed the “substantial achievements” of close cooperation with Russia’s military and said China is ready to deepen the partnership to “make new contributions to stability and security” globally, in the latest sign of Beijing’s commitment to its relationship with Moscow. – Washington Post

One of the most prominent democracy activists in Hong Kong over recent years, Joshua Wong, was sentenced on Monday to three months in prison over an information breach involving a police officer, according to a post on Wong’s Facebook account. – Reuters

China launched a weather satellite on Sunday as civilian flights altered their routes to avoid a Chinese-imposed no-fly zone to the north of Taiwan which Beijing put in place because of the possibility of falling rocket debris. – Reuters

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi “hopes and believes” Germany will support China’s “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday. – Reuters

China’s defence minister Li Shangfu said the country is willing to work with Russia to have close strategic communications between their militaries, state media reported on Monday. – Reuters

A Chinese spy balloon that was shot down by the U.S. in February carried solar panels that could generate enough electricity to power a type of radar that can generate images at night and through clouds, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing leaked U.S. intelligence documents. – Reuters

China’s central bank governor on Friday took a swipe at efforts by Western economies to trade more with allies and rely less on the world’s largest goods-exporting country, saying such “friend-shoring” attempts could prevent global supply chain tension from easing. – Reuters

China on Friday hit back at comments by the Polish prime minister that linked the war in Ukraine to a possible Chinese attack on Taiwan, accusing him of interfering in its internal affairs. – Reuters

China demonstrated an electromagnetic gun that fires projectiles shaped like coins, a weapon state media said could be used to break up violent public disturbances. – Bloomberg

China says it carried out a successful ground-based mid-course missile interception test in an apparent sign of progress in its ability to bring down weapons incoming from space. – Associated Press 

China won’t sell weapons to either side in the war in Ukraine, the country’s foreign minister said Friday, responding to Western concerns that Beijing could provide military assistance to Russia. – Associated Press 

China said on Monday it had tracked an American warship that sailed through the Taiwan Strait, adding the United States had “publicly hyped up” its transit. – Agence France-Presse

Kevin Kiley writes: The capacity of American citizens to solve the technical problems of our day is similarly unmatched. But the priorities of our government are not aligned to the challenges of the moment. That must change, or the Chinese Communist Party will be poised to win the future. – Fox News

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Meanwhile, China is doing the same in the Gulf and the Middle East. Beijing is also working with countries that neighbor Afghanistan to set a policy on Kabul. All of these moves will be watched closely in regard to what happens next. The West was mostly unified in its approach to the Ukraine war. China now appears to be stepping in, a year into the conflict, sensing that the West is not as unified as it appears. – Jerusalem Post

South Asia

India is monitoring a strategically located island in the Bay of Bengal over concerns China could be involved in a buildup of infrastructure there, including an expanded airstrip, aircraft hangars, a pier and a dome that protects radar equipment, Indian security officials said. – Wall Street Journal

The Indian government is sounding the alarm about what security officials see as signs of a potential revival by a Sikh separatist movement in the northern state of Punjab. – Washington Post 

A former lawmaker in India’s parliament, convicted of kidnapping, was shot dead along with his brother while police were escorting them for a medical check-up in a slaying caught on live television on Saturday. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund is seeking “necessary” financing assurances at the earliest to conclude talks with Pakistan on its stalled $6.5 billion bailout. – Bloomberg 

The Paris Club of creditor governments aims to start negotiations to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt, the group said on Friday after a creditor committee was set up this week. – Reuters

India and Russia are discussing a free trade agreement to guarantee investment between the two countries, Russia’s deputy prime minister said on Monday. – Reuters


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan was safely evacuated on Saturday from a site where he had been scheduled to give a speech and shortly before an explosion was heard, according to the police. – New York Times

The U.S. warship USS Milius sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, in what the U.S. Navy described on Monday as a “routine” transit, just days after China ended its latest war games around the island. – Reuters

The Biden administration believes there is still room to open up a dialog and collaborate with Beijing on pressing global matters despite rising tensions over issues such as Taiwan, a senior US official said. – Bloomberg

The Philippines is “stoking the fire” of regional tensions by offering expanded military base access to the United States, whose goal is to interfere in China’s affairs with Taiwan, Beijing’s ambassador to Manila said on Friday. – Reuters

An Australian businessman has been refused bail after being charged with a foreign interference offence for accepting cash from suspected Chinese intelligence agents, with a Sydney court saying his close ties to China made him a flight risk. – Reuters

Myanmar’s junta released 3,113 prisoners, including 98 foreigners, to mark the country’s traditional New Year on Monday, according to a statement from the military government published on pro-military Telegram channels. – Reuters

Separatist rebels in Indonesia’s Papua region claimed on Sunday to have killed nine army personnel the day before, after Jakarta did not respond to a request for negotiations, while the military said one soldier died during the attack on Saturday. – Reuters

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday expressed a desire to deepen their ties as Washington seeks to solidify alliances to counter an increasingly assertive China. – Reuters

War over Taiwan would bring about a “global catastrophe” that China would find it hard to bear, the presidential candidate for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), William Lai, said on Saturday. – Reuters

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a day after escaping an apparent attack, vowed to ensure the safety of Group of Seven dignitaries visiting his country, beginning with tighter security for climate ministers gathering in Sapporo. – Reuters

Indonesia is set to join a new climate club established by the Group of Seven nations, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said. – Bloomberg

Indo-Pacific nations oppose having their future “dictated by a single major power,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said, as the region faces an intensifying struggle for influence between the US and China. – Bloomberg

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s political fortunes had been improving of late. This weekend’s assassination attempt may change that, depending on the motivation of his bomb-wielding attacker. – Bloomberg

The US is pressing the need for allies to coordinate against economic coercion, not just military threats, as Japan prepares to host top diplomats from the Group of Seven nations amid heightened tensions with China. – Bloomberg

The trip by Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to Beijing has made clear he is counting on China to help reinvigorate the South American nation’s ailing industrial sector — particularly by picking up the slack of exiting U.S. companies. – Associated Press

Top diplomats from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are vowing a tough stance on China’s increasing threats to Taiwan and on North Korea’s unchecked tests of long-range missiles, while building momentum on ways to boost support for Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion. – Associated Press

Suspected gunpowder has been found at the home of a man accused of throwing an explosive at Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a campaign event, local media said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: Hong Kong is essentially holding pension assets hostage and confiscating them without due process. It is forcing Western finance firms to abet this confiscation if they want to operate in the city. This should embarrass the U.S. companies. All of this is further evidence that the rule of law has become a sham in Hong Kong, and that anyone’s property or business can be seized on the political whim of the Communist Party. – Wall Street Journal


Plans by Poland and Hungary to suspend imports of Ukrainian grain, in a bid to appease farmers hit by falling prices, triggered a warning from Brussels on Sunday and boosted tensions between the two countries and Brussels. – Wall Street Journal

Germany is ending its nuclear energy era with the shutdown of its last three nuclear reactors by midnight on Saturday night — a moment pushed by the country’s steadfast anti-nuclear movement for decades and promised by successive governments, though it comes at a time when many other countries are moving in the opposite direction. – New York Times

Italy’s government will announce a plan focused on energy cooperation with Africa in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Friday during a visit to Ethiopia. – Reuters

The relationship between China and Europe will be determined by Beijing’s behaviour, including what happens with Taiwan, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Sunday. – Reuters

Germany’s Interior Ministry is examining all Chinese components that are already installed in the country’s 5G network, Minister Nancy Faeser was quoted as saying on Sunday, as Berlin re-evaluates its relationship with top trade partner China. – Reuters

Italy must be increasingly cautious in its trade ties with China, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti was quoted as saying on Friday in reference to Rome’s partnership in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative project. – Reuters

European foreign policy officials on Friday urged China not to use force over Taiwan, taking a tough stance against Beijing’s threats over the democratically governed island, after comments by French President Emmanuel Macron were perceived as weak. – Reuters

Thousands of Czechs demonstrated in Prague’s central square on Sunday, calling on the government to quit as they protested over high inflation and energy prices. – Reuters

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner called French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for the European Union to strive for strategic autonomy “naive,” especially given “nuclear superpower” Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

The construction of barbed-wired fence along Finland’s long border with Russia – primarily meant to curb illegal migration – has broken ground near the southeastern town of Imatra less than two weeks after the Nordic country joined NATO as the 31st member of the military alliance. – Associated Press 

Finland’s much-delayed and costly new nuclear reactor, Europe’s most powerful by production capacity, has completed a test phase lasting more than a year and started regular output, boosting the Nordic country’s electricity self-sufficiency significantly. – Associated Press 

Five former Austrian officials went on trial in Vienna on Friday accused of granting asylum to a suspected Syrian war criminal in Austria at the request of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency. – Associated Press 

Editorial: Nuclear is by far the most efficient solution to both problems. Without it, and without other domestic energy sources such as the shale gas Berlin refuses to frack, it may prove impossible to power an advanced industrial economy. This might explain why 59% of respondents said it’s wrong to end nuclear power in a poll released Friday, the latest in a string of similar surveys that Berlin has studiously ignored. Germany’s nuclear shutdown is the latest victory of green hope over physical and economic reality. Let’s see how long it takes for reality to intrude again. – Wall Street Journal

Michael J. Mazarr writes: Stripping, or even significantly downgrading, the United States’ European commitments would demolish much of this accumulated legitimacy. It would validate the grim picture that China and Russia now paint of a United States that is pitilessly self-interested and transactional, and would severely undermine the United States’ painstaking attempts to build a reputation as that rare great power that offers something to the world other than naked ambition. The country’s chief competitive advantage in the contest with China is its dominant global network of friends and allies. Now is the time to strengthen those coveted ties—in Europe and elsewhere. – Foreign Affairs

Benjamin Haddad writes: Macron has always been clear that Europeans are not “equidistant” between their U.S. allies and China. A united Europe that defends its own interests and worldview is ultimately a more robust partner for Washington in the long run than allies that are strictly aligned but follow isolated national strategies. An empowered, independent EU may not currently seem enticing to the United States, but Washington should keep in mind that it’s also an EU that China can’t divide and boss around. – Foreign Policy

Emily Schultheis writes: Still, given the looming concerns about Europe’s energy supply next winter, opposition parties have made it clear they don’t consider the issue as closed—and, with the German public warming to nuclear energy, they see it as a potent topic going forward. “We think that’s not the last word,” Markus Söder, leader of the conservative Christian Social Union and state premier in Bavaria, which is home to one of the three closing plants, said this week. “Honestly, I believe that we may have a new debate as early as winter.” – Foreign policy


A bitter rivalry between Sudan’s top two generals erupted into open warfare this weekend, further destabilizing a country that has been at the center of geopolitical power competition from the Middle East, the U.S. and Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Violence in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, spilled into a third day with gunfire and explosions reported at daybreak on Monday as the civilian death toll rose to 97 amid clashes between the military and a paramilitary force. – Washington Post

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday there is a “shared deep concern” among allies about the fighting in Sudan and a view that it should stop immediately and the sides return to talks. – Reuters

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) said on Sunday it had temporarily halted all operations in Sudan after three of its employees were killed in clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) a day earlier – Reuters

Sudan state television cut its transmission on Sunday afternoon, a move that employees said was aimed at preventing the broadcast of propaganda by a paramilitary force that was battling the army for control of the capital. – Reuters

Qatar Airways announced the suspension of its flights to Sudan due to the closure of Khartoum International Airport, Qatar News Agency said on Sunday. – Reuters

A Saudi Arabian airlines plane at Sudan’s Khartoum airport came under fire during clashes on Saturday, the state-owned carrier said. – Reuters

Unidentified assailants killed 40 people and wounded 33 others in an attack on the army and volunteer defence forces in northern Burkina Faso, the government said in a statement on Sunday. – Reuters

A hijacked Singapore-registered oil tanker has been recovered and escorted to Abidjan port in Ivory Coast on Saturday, five days after it was captured by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, the Ivorian military said. – Reuters

Suspected militants killed at least 30 civilians on Friday in a village raid in Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern Ituri province, the head of a civil society group and a local resident said. – Reuters

Kenya is “disturbed” by comments about President William Ruto reportedly attributed to the United Nations deputy secretary-general in a leaked U.S. classified document, a senior Kenyan official said on Friday. – Reuters

The US and UK urged a return to negotiations in Sudan, after violence between rival Sudanese military factions killed more than 60 people and injured hundreds in the past few days. – Bloomberg

Gunmen have attacked a village in northwest Nigeria and killed at least 33 people, a local official said Sunday. – Associated Press

The Americas

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s top aide on Friday refused to say when Trudeau first learned about allegations that China tampered with recent elections, citing security concerns. – Reuters

Canada is ready to become a reliable provider of critical minerals to its international allies including Japan, a senior official said, as the Group of Seven (G7) countries deem such minerals essential for climate goals and energy security. – Reuters

Armed men on Saturday killed a child and six others after storming a resort in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, authorities said, in a region increasingly plagued by drug cartel violence. – Reuters

The United States has charged leaders of the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel with running a fentanyl trafficking operation fueled by Chinese chemical and pharmaceutical companies, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Friday. – Reuters

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The last time Lula’s Workers’ Party was in power it got caught vote-buying in Congress. It later got wrapped up in the largest kickback scheme in the history of Latin America. Increased scrutiny at home means Mr. da Silva needs new partners this time around. Bishop Álvarez is merely collateral damage. – Wall Street Journal

Robert Maginnis writes: The leaked intelligence documents sound an alarm bell regarding America’s role in the Ukraine war.  It’s past time President Biden level with the American people about our interests and whether our continued role in that war could escalate into something much worse. – Fox News

Latin America

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the island’s ongoing gasoline shortages were caused by countries contracted to supply the fuel not complying with their requirements due to “a complex energy situation.” – Reuters

A judge on Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered former President Jair Bolsonaro to testify before federal police within 10 days about his role in the Jan. 8 storming of government buildings by his supporters. – Reuters

Venezuelan authorities have arrested Colombian businessman Alvaro Pulido in an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption at Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA, Venezuela’s communications minister said on Friday. – Reuters

A Russian delegation will travel to leftist-led Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela in the second half of April, Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced last week. As far back as the Soviet era, Moscow has sought to control its “near abroad,” including neighbors like Ukraine. Now the Kremlin is emulating a similar American concept, the Monroe doctrine, which Washington has all but discarded in recent decades. – New York Sun


European Union lawmakers want to give regulators new powers to govern the development of technologies like those behind ChatGPT, the biggest push so far in the West to curb one of the hottest areas in artificial intelligence. – Wall Street Journal 

Step into a U.S. military recreation hall at a base almost anywhere in the world and you’re bound to see it: young troops immersed in the world of online games, using government-funded gaming machines or their own consoles. – Associated Press

While much of the cybersecurity world’s attention is on fending off Russian hacks against Ukraine, American officials are increasingly worried about another growing threat: attacks by China on U.S. soil. – Politico

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission wants space systems to be considered critical infrastructure sector number 17, a move the influential group says will compel a growing industry of satellite operators to take action to better protect their networks from malicious hackers. – CyberScoop


The Pentagon is set to release a sweeping science and technology strategy focused on improving joint operations, rapidly pushing successful prototypes into production and strengthening the Defense Department’s research and development workforce. – Defense News 

Congress is gearing up to probe how agencies handle and distribute classified information following the arrest of a 21-year-old National Guardsman on allegations that he carried out one of the biggest leaks of top secret Pentagon documents in decades. – Military.com

Brent Sadler writes: The Navy needs a DDG(X) this decade, and the shipbuilding industry is already pressed to meet existing demands. Congress and the Pentagon should send industry a predictable signal of commitment to build the DDG(X) this decade. If Congress and the Navy can agree to it, significant investments today can grow shipyard capacities and workforce while delivering the ships needed. A design anchored in existing and proven systems can mitigate much risk inherent in any new warship. China will not wait. The Navy should not be forced to be penny-wise and tonnage-dumb in its approach to DDG(X). – Heritage Foundation