Fdd's overnight brief

April 24, 2023

In The News


Iran’s anti-government uprising has been marked by cycles of killing and mourning. As the deaths pile up, funerals and commemorations have become their own form of protest, as well as another grim venue for the state’s systematic crackdown on dissent. – Washington Post 

But Iran’s judicial system is notoriously opaque and arbitrary, and there are no guarantees of safety for those detained during the uprising, rights groups say. The Washington Post spoke to three Iranians affected by the pardons about their precarious freedom, as the country’s ruling clerics and security services seek to restore order after months of tumult. – Washington Post

The daughter of an environmentalist imprisoned by Iran said on Saturday she had lost confidence in U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to free her father- Reuters 

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is calling out the Iranian government for failing to probe the poisonings of thousands of schoolgirls across Iran — in what experts believe to have been deliberate gas attacks — over the course of several months. – Jewish Insider

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) argued Thursday that the U.S. invasion of Iraq served primarily to bolster Iran and increase the threat to Israel, in a speech to the Heritage Foundation’s 50th anniversary conference. – Jewish Insider  

Iranian students protested against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei last week after a speech in which the supreme leader rejected the idea of holding a referendum on controversial issues in Iran. – Jerusalem Post   

As more and more workers of Iran’s energy sector are going on strike, Iran International has obtained information that sheds light on their inhumane working conditions. In an audio file sent to Iran International and verified by our contacts, a man recounts the ordeal of contract workers in the companies active in oil, gas and petrochemical industries. – Iran International

The 42-year-old is among many Iranians now living in the West who say that Tehran’s terrorizing repression is reaching beyond its borders, to faraway places previously assumed to be safe, in order to crush dissent. CNN’s request for comment to Iran’s authorities has gone unanswered. – CNN

Daniel Block writes: Hakimi has shifted her position in recent months. The government’s cruel crackdown on the protests eventually led her to oppose diplomacy altogether. But she does not expect to join the hawks’ push for maximalist pressure anytime soon. In fact, she’s not sure how much she can push for anything. The trolling, harassment and bombardment may have proven too much. – Politico 

Arash Aalaei writes: The IRGC is smelling money and they want a piece of it. The recent assassination is a sign that Tehran will keep escalating tensions short of military confrontation. By keeping the pressure up on Azerbaijan, Iran is hitting two birds with one stone by reminding Azeris on both sides of the Iranian border that if the Islamic Republic suffers, so will they. – Washington Institute 

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian forces have established a presence on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region, according to the Institute for the Study of War, in what would be a significant step in Ukraine’s effort to reclaim occupied territory. – Wall Street Journal 

Kyiv’s forces achieved that last fall, but haven’t advanced since. Now their challenge in attacking dug-in Russian forces is even greater because, given the pace of Western arms shipments, its troops are less well-armed than their leaders would like. – Wall Street Journal

Western allies this week delivered some of the most powerful weapons that Ukraine says it will need for a looming counteroffensive against Russia: a Patriot air-defense system from Germany and the Netherlands. Fighter jets from Slovakia. More 155-millimeter artillery from the United States. – New York Times

Since the war began, Russia has lost droves of tech workers as well as other professionals, a brain drain that analysts say will harm the country’s economy for decades. By contrast, many government employees have fallen in line behind Mr. Putin’s wartime leadership. – New York Times

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has signed two laws that strictly reinforce his country’s national identity, banning Russian place names and making knowledge of Ukrainian language and history a requirement for citizenship. – New York Times

For months, Ukraine and Russia have flooded Bakhmut with reinforcements and carted away thousands of dead and wounded in what has become the longest, bloodiest battle of the war. Now, after eight months of Ukraine steadily ceding territory, the fight is closing in on just a few square miles of the city’s west. – Washington Post

On Feb. 22, two days before the anniversary, the CIA circulated a new classified report: The HUR “had agreed, at Washington’s request, to postpone strikes” on Moscow. The documents, part of a trove of classified information allegedly leaked on a gaming server by a 21-year-old member of the National Guard, don’t explain precisely who interceded and why the Ukrainians agreed to stand down. – Washington Post

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet repelled a drone attack on the Crimean port of Sevastopol in the early hours of Monday, the Moscow-installed governor of the city said through social media. – Reuters

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday that if the G7 moved to ban exports to Russia, Moscow would respond by terminating the Black Sea Grain deal that enables vital exports of grain from Ukraine. – Reuters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba gets a chance on Monday to vent Kyiv’s frustration to European Union foreign ministers over wrangling that is holding up an EU plan to buy ammunition to help Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion. – Reuters

The son of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said in an interview published on Saturday that he had served in Ukraine under an assumed name as an artilleryman in the Wagner mercenary force, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reported. – Reuters

Russia is advising citizens to avoid travel to Canada, citing what it calls numerous cases of discrimination against Russians, including physical violence, its foreign ministry said on Saturday. – Reuters

Global military spending rose to a record last year as Russia’s war in Ukraine drove the biggest annual increase in expenditure in Europe since the end of the Cold War three decades ago, a leading conflict and armaments think tank said on Monday. – Reuters

Russia said Sunday that the United States has denied visas to journalists who wanted to cover Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s trip to New York, and Lavrov suggested that Moscow would take strong retaliatory measures. – Associated Press 

While the two sides have kept pace with one another thus far, Ukraine’s minister in charge of technology told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that he was confident his country had the motivation and abilities to out-innovate Russia in the end. – Associated Press

Comprising more than 50 countries, the Ukraine Defense Contact Group gathered at Germany’s Ramstein base Friday to strategize on the eve of what is shaping up to be a decisive spring. Battles in the eastern and southern parts of the country, where Russian occupation forces are entrenched, could determine victory.  – New York Sun 

Discussing who was behind the bombing of a St. Petersburg café earlier this month — which left 40 injured and warmongering military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky dead — the “she” in question was 26-year-old Darya Trepova who, until recently, was an assistant at a vintage clothing store and a feminist activist, and has been accused of being the bomber. – Politico 

The United Nations is accustomed to oddity, absurdity and a certain amount of hypocrisy. But the eye-rolling is hitting epic levels this month as Russia has taken over the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council and used it to defend its war on Ukraine. – Politico 

Top elements of the Russian political and business segments are afraid for their future after a possible Russian defeat and are therefore seeking to contact Ukraine and other countries, said Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. – Jerusalem Post 

The Russian Defense Ministry has launched a new recruitment drive for volunteers with advertisements on social media, billboards and television, the UK Defense Ministry said in a Sunday morning intelligence assessment. – Jerusalem Post 

Janusz Bugajski writes: Emerging states can become new allies for Western and Eastern democracies. American leaders should not fear the collapse of a failed empire but embrace it as an opportunity to intensify multinational cooperation, open new markets, and help emerging democracies to develop. – Washington Examiner

Petr Fiala, Eduard Heger, and Mateusz Morawiecki write: If Europe is to remain whole and free, American involvement and leadership will remain crucial. Yet resolve in support of Ukraine will also help deter aggression in other parts of the world, sending the message that tyrants will not be appeased, be it in Europe, Asia, or anywhere else. That message will be especially clear when Ukraine wins and Russia is defeated. – Foreign Affairs

Elena Davlikanova writes: Though NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg promised to strengthen Ukraine’s armed forces and support Ukraine for “the long haul,” the West must know that it cannot prevaricate on the big issues for much longer. However much democratic leaders wish to evade the difficult choices, events have their own logic. Selling Ukraine to Russia is one; defeating the greatest continuing threat to European peace is another. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Every Memorial Day, thousands of families who have lost brothers, sisters and siblings to Israel’s endless wars and terrorist attacks gather to remember the dead, a commemoration that was to have been followed this year by a jubilant celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the country. – New York Times

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he would be willing to meet with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an expected 2024 GOP presidential candidate, during the governor’s visit to Israel scheduled for later this month. – Wall Street Journal

Tens of thousands of Israelis joined protests on Saturday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to tighten controls on the Supreme Court, ahead of Israel’s independence day marking 75 years since establishment of the Jewish state. – Reuters

Senior figures in Israel’s coalition have claimed that in addition to the Basic Law: Torah Learning, the Draft Law also cannot be passed in the near future, Kan Reshet Bet reported Monday morning. – Arutz Sheva

Osama Hamdan, who is responsible for foreign relations in the Hamas terrorist organization, says that in the next prisoner exchange deal with Israel, Hamas will demand that the list of terrorist prisoners to be released also include terrorists who carried out attacks in recent times. – Arutz Sheva

Israeli protesters entered the building on Monday morning where the Jewish Federations of North America are holding their annual confab and surrounded a table where a key architect of the government’s judicial overhaul was giving an interview, and subsequently disrupted a panel he spoke on until it was adjourned amid chaotic scenes. Israeli police forcefully dragged out protesters from the plenum. – Haaretz

Hakeem Jeffries, the top ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, is visiting Israel this week for the first time since replacing Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the House Democrats. – Haaretz

Israel’s Supreme Court granted a petition against Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s ban on allowing Palestinians to enter Israel from the West Bank to participate in a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day commemoration. – Haaretz

Lawmakers from both parties and both chambers of Congress have come out in force in recent weeks to express support for continued funding for a range of cooperative U.S.-Israel defensive programs as part of the 2024 appropriations cycle. – Jewish Insider  

Leaders of Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Lebanon are concerned that Israel may resume its policy of targeted killings in response to the recent spate of terror attacks. – Jerusalem Post

The Sa’ar 6 missile boat’s highly advanced radar systems were used successfully in March 2021 to help track an Iranian attack drone and to facilitate assigning a specific F-35 aircraft to shoot down the incoming drone. – Jerusalem Post  

Palestinian human rights organizations have called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a Palestinian man in a Hamas detention center in the Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US television on Sunday that a “blanket overhaul” of Supreme Court decisions “is not going to happen” under his planned judicial shakeup. – Times of Israel 

The government was reportedly set to ask the High Court of Justice on Sunday to dismiss a standing petition seeking to force the state to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar, an illegal Bedouin encampment in the West Bank. – Times of Israel 

Lawrence J. Haas writes: In Jerusalem, negotiations over judicial reform are continuing. All parties would be well-advised to reach a compromise, easing domestic tensions and enabling the government to focus more fully beyond Israel’s borders. Rather than chastise Netanyahu over his judicial proposal, as it’s done, Washington would be well-advised to encourage compromise. What serves Israel’s security, after all, serves U.S. regional interests. – The Hill 

Norman J. Kurz writes: But it would not take an enormous effort for the US and the international community to press Palestinians to try a new approach. After 75 years of rejectionism, prove that you are serious about wanting a state alongside Israel and demonstrate your commitment to non-violence. Israelis have shown it can work. – Jerusalem Post 

Meir Ben Shabbat writes: Attention must also be devoted to tackling the challenges within Israel on two fronts. One is the problem of “family unification” whereby Palestinians from Judea and Samaria move to Israel, bringing deeply held hostilities with them. The other problem is the move of known sympathizers of ISIS and other radical Islamic organizations into Israel. – Jerusalem Post 


Less than two years after President Biden withdrew U.S. personnel from Afghanistan, the country has become a significant coordination site for the Islamic State as the terrorist group plans attacks across Europe and Asia, and conducts “aspirational plotting” against the United States, according to a classified Pentagon assessment that portrays the threat as a growing security concern. – Washington Post

Afghanistan has devolved into a haven for ISIS terrorists since the precipitous US withdrawal in 2021 — but the US has found the new Taliban government an unlikely ally in the fight against the jihadists, a report said. – New York Post

Garrett Exner writes: Fortunately, House Republicans have made it clear they will pursue full accountability, and the congressionally mandated Afghanistan War Commission is working to provide a fuller picture of the disastrous events to the American public. Kirby can claim he “ didn’t see ” any chaos at the airport in Kabul, but partisan talking points will not erase from the nation’s memory the chaos and catastrophe that unfolded in Afghanistan that August. – Washington Examiner


Russia fired at a US Reaper drone that was flying over eastern Syria late last year, although they didn’t manage to down it, according to new reports based on the leaked US military and intelligence documents that have been circulating online for the last month. – Jerusalem Post 

The Israeli military shelled a site in southern Syria, just across the border from the Golan Heights early Monday morning, Syrian media reported, with an opposition journalist claiming the position was used by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group. – Times of Israel 

Hundreds of Syrians protested Sunday in the rebel northwestern city of Idlib against a thawing of ties between several Arab countries and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. – Agence France-Presse 

Gregory Waters writes: ISIS has a plan for an eventual resurgence. […]There is still time to develop and implement a comprehensive policy to address the prisoner dilemma in northeast Syria while also focusing resources on improving the SDF’s approach in Deir ez-Zor and better securing the SDF-regime frontline in order to limit the flow of ISIS members between the two regions. What cannot be done is to continue to ignore the critical role central Syria plays in ISIS’s long-term plans and its growing strength under an impotent regime in Damascus. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Israel has detained a Jordanian lawmaker on suspicion of smuggling arms and gold into the West Bank and Amman is working to secure his release, the kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

An Iraqi citizen was killed in Sudan on Sunday amid the fighting there, according to Iraq’s state news agency, which cited a foreign ministry spokesperson. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the OPEC+ deal to cap oil production with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, in a telephone call on Friday, the Kremlin said. – Reuters 

The Middle East’s emergence as a key front in the new Cold War between the US and China has become even clearer since this newsletter analyzed how Beijing was stepping into the widening breach between Washington and Saudi Arabia. – Bloomberg 

Mudar Badran, a key figure in Jordan who was prime minister four times, as well as defense and foreign minister, died on Saturday, as announced by Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh. Badran played a central role in the history of Jordan, coalescing its intelligence service and helping navigate various crises from the 1960s to 1990s. – Jerusalem Post 

Reuben Silverman writes: Kilicdaroglu’s broad coalition is necessary because no dominant Turkish political personality has emerged to rival Erdogan; there is no Ecevit to his Demirel, or Inonu to his Bayar. […]For Erdogan, being the first to achieve this much power has required vision and imagination. The question is whether he can also imagine being the first to relinquish it. – Foreign Policy

Korean Peninsula

Biden will host Yoon at the White House this week for a state dinner to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the mutual defense treaty that bound together their security interests after the Korean War ended with a cease-fire. On Thursday, Yoon is scheduled to deliver a speech at a joint session of Congress, the first South Korean president in a decade to do so. – Washington Post

The United States asked South Korea to urge its chipmakers not to fill any market gap in China if Beijing bans memory chipmaker Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) from selling chips, the Financial Times reported on Sunday. – Reuters

South Korea formally restored Japan to its list of countries it gives preferential treatment in trade on Monday, three years after the neighbors downgraded each other’s trade status amid a diplomatic row fueled by historical grievances. – Associated Press

Japan’s defense chief on Saturday ordered troops to activate missile interceptors and get ready to shoot down fragments from a North Korean satellite that may fall on the Japanese territory. – Associated Press

Half a world away from the front line of Russia’s war in Ukraine there’s a stockpile of probably more than a million artillery shells on the Korean peninsula — a hoard that’s drawing attention as South Korea’s leader heads to Washington. – Bloomberg 

A clear statement from President Joe Biden that the United States will respond to North Korean actions involving nuclear weapons would help reassure South Koreans of Washington’s commitment to their defense if attacked, a leading security expert said Thursday. – USNI News 


What is now clear is that the study was not removed because of faulty research. Instead, it was withdrawn at the direction of Chinese health officials amid a crackdown on science. That effort kicked up a cloud of dust around the dates of early Covid cases, like those reported in the study. – New York Times

A high-ranking editor at a Chinese Communist Party newspaper who often wrote liberal-leaning commentaries is expected to stand trial for espionage in Beijing, after he was arrested while eating lunch with a Japanese diplomat. – New York Times 

China’s cooperation with Europe and other nations is “endless” just as its ties with Russia are “unlimited”, China’s envoy to the European Union said, giving some reassurance of China’s neutrality over Ukraine in an interview published on Monday. – Reuters 

China’s foreign minister said Saturday his country is willing to work with the Philippines to resolve their differences, as tensions rise over Beijing’s behavior in the disputed South China Sea and Manila’s deeping military cooperation with the U.S. – Associated Press

Political tensions between the US and China are contributing to lower container shipments between the world’s two largest economies, on top of an already-underway reshaping of global trade, according to a major shipping industry boss. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: China wants the right to snatch any territory it wants to take, including Taiwan, disputed islands off Japan and in the Western Pacific, and border lands with India and others. Maybe Mr. Macron will figure out he’s being played. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: While that may not faze US leaders, they should understand that they will have an easier time persuading other nations to unite behind a common effort if it’s aimed at preserving the rules-based system of global trade, not demonizing China. To fight bullying, there’s no need to become a bully. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: Monday’s arrests are an encouraging sign that the Biden administration hasn’t completely abandoned efforts to limit China’s violations of U.S. sovereignty. But they are also a reminder of why that program was needed in the first place, and why it should be brought back as soon as possible. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: If the US and China are indeed entering into a new cold war, they should take lessons from the original one. It took a hair-raising nuclear near miss over Cuba in 1962 to frighten both sides into establishing guardrails, including a hotline between leaders. The world should not have to wait for another version of the Cuban missile crisis for the US and China to put such safeguards in place. The effort to resume dialogue has to start somewhere — and it has to start soon. The US needed to clarify its position and should continue to do so, but China ought now to respond. – Financial Times

Patricia M. Kim and Michael O’Hanlon write: None of this is guaranteed to happen, of course, and in any case, a meaningful Ukraine-Russia peace process remains a long way off. But the overlap of China’s interests with our own should not be dismissed and should serve as a baseline for working with Beijing to help end this war. – The Hill 

Sam Brownback and Erica Lizza write: This isn’t freedom of religion—it is the worship of the state as the supreme being. We must sound the alarm to all people and, particularly, to people of faith around the world, that this is what Chinese Communist influenced leadership will look like in their own countries if they don’t start pushing back now. – The Hill 

Steve Kelman writes: I believe that China would do even better if it adopted more of the features of Western liberal democracy. But we should not ignore that, compared to what it has mostly been, China today isn’t half bad. […]I believe that China would do even better if it adopted more of the features of Western liberal democracy. But we should not ignore that, compared to what it has mostly been, China today isn’t half bad. – The Hill

Peter Laffin writes: A healthy and functioning global power intent on maintaining its geostrategic position would emphasize the importance of education in its daily discourse. Whether the literacy crisis can be solved by reintroducing phonics instruction, promoting school choice, or by some other means, it demands serious and sustained attention. As we enter the 2024 presidential primary season, White House contenders would do well to feature the issue on their respective platforms. It would be difficult to imagine an issue more directly related to the fate of the free world. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: Yet there’s an almost childish quality to Beijing’s diplomatic rhetoric. Take Wang’s response to the U.S. indictment of Chinese security agents who allegedly ran an illegal police station in New York. Rather than sidestepping the uncomfortable issue, as a normal diplomat might do, Wang went into attack mode. He said that “the U.S. should reflect on what it has done and immediately stop and correct its wrongdoing.” It might sound good to Central Foreign Affairs Commission chief Wang Yi and Xi. It doesn’t, however, sound good or credible to anyone else. Quite the contrary. – Washington Examiner


Indian authorities have arrested a self-described separatist, officials in the border state of Punjab said Sunday, after a high-profile, month-long chase that prompted fears of a revival of a Sikh insurgency there. – Washington Post

A top election official for Myanmar’s military junta has been assassinated by bicycle-riding gunmen from a rebel group, which accused him of being complicit in “oppressing and terrorizing” the public. It is the latest in a series of high-profile killings targeting a military that has escalated attacks on civilians. – New York Times

About 10,000 people bearing torches on Sunday night marched through Armenia’s capital to commemorate the estimated 1.5 million Armenians killed in Ottoman Turkey more than a century ago. – Associated Press

Armenia’s defense ministry said Sunday that one of its soldiers was killed by an Azerbaijani sniper near the border, but Azerbaijan denied the claim and separately reported that its soldiers had come under fire from Armenia in another part of the border area. – Associated Press

The exercise explored American diplomatic, economic and military options if the United States and China were to reach the brink of war over Taiwan, a self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own. The exercise played out one night last week and was observed by The Associated Press. – Associated Press 

Vietnam is in talks with the Czech Republic for military supplies, including aircraft, radars, upgrades of armoured vehicles and firearms, a Czech government source told Reuters, as Hanoi aims at diversifying its mostly Russian arsenal. – Reuters 

Potential U.S. presidential candidate Ron DeSantis on Monday met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and lauded bilateral ties, especially the idea of a “strong Japan”. – Reuters

Australia’s government will prioritise long-range precision strike, domestic production of guided weapons, and diplomacy – key points of a review released Monday recommending the country’s biggest defence shakeup since World War Two. – Reuters

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and his foreign secretary met Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Saturday with Manila and Beijing pledging to work together to resolve their maritime differences in the South China Sea. – Reuters

Thailand’s opposition bloc should stick together to dislodge the military from politics and form a government after an election in May, the leader of a popular opposition party told Reuters on the sidelines of a packed campaign rally on Saturday. – Reuters

China and Singapore will hold a joint military exercise as soon as this week, their first combined drills since 2021, as Beijing deepens its defence and security ties with Southeast Asia, a region with strong existing U.S. alliances. – Reuters

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong has lodged solemn representations with the South Korean ambassador over “erroneous” remarks by the South Korean president about Taiwan, China’s foreign ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

The U.S. government said it is “deeply concerned” by Azerbaijan establishing a checkpoint on the only land route to the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, saying it undermines efforts toward peace in the region. – Reuters

Russia’s antisubmarine destroyer Admiral Tributs will conduct exercises in the Sea of Japan involving mock enemy objects, the news agency Interfax reported on Monday, quoting the press service of Russia’s Pacific Fleet. – Reuters

Two potential US presidential candidates are visiting Asia this week, trips that come as the US steps up efforts to counter Chinese influence. – Bloomberg 

Lance Gooden writes: Inviting Ms. Tsai to the APEC summit would be a crucial step toward building a united front against Beijing’s aggression. It is an opportunity for the Biden administration to stand up for freedom, democracy and global stability. – Wall Street Journal 

James Stavridis writes: China has made no secret of what its military game plan would look like. It is well thought out — and has the potential to spiral into a full-blown conflict. The key to staving off a Chinese invasion is deterrence through military strength, and China’s recent exercises demonstrate how much the US and Taiwan need to do to achieve it. – Bloomberg 

Kathrin Hille writes: About 150,000 Filipinos work in Taiwan, and their safety is one of the government’s main concerns in the context of a potential conflict over the country, which China claims as its territory and has threatened to take by force. Even in mainland northern Luzon, locals have begun to wonder whether they may end up on the front lines. – Financial Times

Edward Lucas writes: But the real source of danger is not failure but success. By 2021 Ukraine, albeit belatedly, was proving that a large Slavic ex-Soviet country could offer its people dignity, liberty, and justice. Taiwan’s prosperity, freedom, and honesty about its totalitarian past are a standing reproach to the mainland’s history of lies and mass murder. For both the Moscow and Beijing regimes, successful counter-examples to their bombastic, messianic rulebook are intolerable. If the West wants to win the big fight for our own survival, this is where we start. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Michael Rubin writes: If Biden truly understands the lessons of the Armenian Genocide, on Monday, when the White House releases its annual declaration, he will call out those who would continue the genocide through a deliberate campaign of starvation, harassment, incitement and murder. He will not simply cut-and-paste from his previous two declarations. There is nothing cheaper and more morally corrupt than condemning a genocide from a century ago while enabling its continuance today. – 19FortyFive


Units from Belarus returned home from Russia on Saturday after training on how to use the Iskander tactical missile system to launch nuclear weapons, the Belarusian defence ministry said. – Reuters

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has suspended high-profile lawmaker Diane Abbott over a letter she wrote in which she said the prejudice experienced by Jewish people was similar to, but not the same as, racism. – Reuters

France, Ukraine and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania expressed dismay after China’s ambassador in Paris questioned the sovereignty of former Soviet countries like Ukraine. – Reuters

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday that Moscow was expelling more than 20 German diplomats, the RIA Novosti news agency said, as Berlin said some Russian diplomats had left Germany. – Reuters

Just when you thought Europe’s China policy could not be more disunited, the two most powerful countries of the European Union are now also at odds over whether to revive a moribund investment agreement with the authoritarian superpower. – Politico 

The former U.S. Senate majority leader from Maine, who became a diplomatic superhero in Northern Ireland after leading years of painstaking talks to produce the Good Friday Agreement, may be visiting his adopted homeland for the final time. – Politico 

A suspect has been arrested over last week’s stabbing attack at a gym in the western German city of Duisburg in which four people were seriously wounded, authorities said Sunday. – Associated Press

Portugal’s president welcomed President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil on an official visit Saturday, as the Brazilian leader looks to strengthen ties with his country’s natural partner in the European Union. – Associated Press

Did you hear the one about President Macron’s incipient plan to rendezvous with Red China’s foreign policy mandarin, Wang Yi, to try to douse the flames in Ukraine by summer’s end? In France, the sound of Monsieur Macron’s plummeting poll numbers have mostly drowned that out — and prompted his archrival, Marine Le Pen, to politely suggest he resign.  – New York Sun 

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is getting dragged into the escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing as she tries to disentangle Italy from its close relationship with China. – Bloomberg  

Rokhaya Diallo writes: The irony is that each of these cases — wearing a hijab to run, putting on a burkini to swim or playing soccer while observing Ramadan — show Muslims participating in public life, not withdrawing from it. This is not “separatism.” This is citizenship in the truest sense of the word. If only the French elite could understand that. As Paris is set to host the next Olympic Games in 2024, the stance of a prominent French sports federation does not exactly make the City of Light look the most enlightened — at least when it comes to welcoming athletes from a variety of diverse cultures. – Washington Post

Martin Sandbu writes: Many European business leaders still salivate at the size of the Chinese market, and most political leaders’ visits to Beijing are transparently sales pitches. Here we come to the crux of why the EU struggles to wield a credible geoeconomic policy. In Europe’s political economy, strategic objectives are still no match for the alignment between the mercantile interests of big corporations in core EU states and the entrenched trade-deepening instincts of the European Commission and many of Europe’s smaller economies. Beijing has good reason to sit back and wait. – Financial Times

Emmanuel Navon writes: Europe is a pillar of the West. Two European countries – the UK and France – have global military reach, nuclear weapons and a permanent seat at the UN Security Council. Germany is the world’s fourth-largest economy. The European Union (EU) is Israel’s first trade partner. – Jerusalem Post  


The U.S. and other governments moved swiftly over the weekend to evacuate embassy staff from Sudan, where a battle for power between the country’s top two generals has now left millions of residents with the difficult choice of whether to try to sit out the clashes at home or attempt a risky escape. – Wall Street Journal

Diplomats from Africa, the Middle East and the West have appealed for a halt to the fighting that has reduced parts of the capital, Khartoum, to a smoking battlefield. – New York Times

A large market for food and other supplies serving a camp for displaced people was partly damaged during a fire on Wednesday, reflecting the dangerous toll recent fighting has taken on Sudan’s most vulnerable citizens. The extent of the destruction was evident in satellite imagery and social media videos analyzed by The New York Times, which found that the blaze destroyed or damaged approximately 18 acres of the market. – New York Times

The Wagner Group is moving aggressively to establish a “confederation” of anti-Western states in Africa as the Russian mercenaries foment instability while using their paramilitary and disinformation capabilities to bolster Moscow’s allies, according to leaked secret U.S. intelligence documents. – Washington Post

Western officials are increasingly concerned about the stability of Chad, a central African country that has been one of the United States’ most important security partners in a region confronted by widening Russian influence and several Islamic insurgencies. – Washington Post

More foreign powers evacuated diplomatic staff from Sudan on Sunday despite continued fighting between the Sudanese army and paramilitary forces in the capital, Khartoum, that has trapped millions of civilians on the front line. – Washington Post

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has deployed a team of disaster response experts for Sudan in the region to coordinate the humanitarian response as fighting rocks the country, USAID head Samantha Power said on Sunday. – Reuters

Around 60 civilians were killed on Friday in northern Burkina Faso by people wearing the uniforms of the Burkinabe armed forces, local prosecutor Lamine Kabore said on Sunday, citing information from police in the town of Ouahigouya. – Reuters

The U.S. refuted a claim from the paramilitary group fighting the Sudanese military that it helped evacuate U.S. personnel from the country over the weekend, after Americans were airlifted from the capital city of Khartoum. – Reuters

At least nine people were killed and more than 60 wounded when a triple suicide bomb attack destroyed about 20 buildings in the central Mali town of Sevare early on Saturday, a spokesperson for the regional governor said. – Reuters

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the rebel Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) will begin peace negotiations in Tanzania on Tuesday, the two sides said. – Reuters

Somalia’s military repulsed an attack by jihadi fighters in a remote region of the country early Saturday, killing at least 18 of the al-Shabab militants, according to a top army official. – Associated Press

Editorial: The international community, including the United States, should apply all the pressure it can to bring these two dueling military commanders to their senses and agree to, and respect, an immediate cease-fire — including by issuing warnings that they will be held to account, just like Mr. Bashir, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court. Then Sudan’s military rulers should allow for the promised transition to full civilian democratic governance. Only then will the dreams of those 2019 protesters be realized. – Washington Post

Jacqueline Burns writes: If the international community continues to prioritize the voices of the armed and corrupt over those seeking real political reform and representation, we can expect nothing less than the continued cycle of violence and human suffering witnessed over the past week in Sudan. The international community should not stop trying to end violent conflicts, but future efforts must consider who matters for peace and who does not. – New York Times

Seth J. Frantzman writes: With embassies now empty, it’s unclear if any countries will prioritize helping Sudan end the crisis, or even how they would do that without anyone on the ground. Considering the price the US paid in Benghazi when a US ambassador was killed, and also the chaotic evacuation of Kabul in 2021, it may be no surprise that the US prefers to leave quickly at night than try to stay on. – Jerusalem Post 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Considering how far Russia is from Sudan and the fact that Moscow is focused on the Ukraine war, it’s not clear what role Russia could play, despite the reports claiming that Russia is in the background. It’s also not clear if the US or the West will play a role. So far that means the conflict remains in the hands of locals and regional powers. – Jerusalem Post  

Ehud Yaari writes: The two-and-a-half-year delay in converting the normalization declaration into a signed peace agreement appears to have put the entire process at risk. […]Keeping Sudan in the Abraham Accords may therefore require the United States to insist that Khartoum fulfill its commitments and complete the peace agreement—perhaps even by warning the country that it stands to lose the U.S. benefits granted in conjunction with the initial normalization declaration. – Washington Institute

Latin America

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo arrived in his home country on Sunday morning after being extradited from the U.S. to face graft charges stemming from one of Latin America’s largest-ever corruption scandals. – Wall Street Journal 

A former Marine who for years helped smuggle drugs from Mexico into the United States and even tried to get a song written to glorify his exploits was sentenced Friday to 12 years in federal prison. – Associated Press 

Brazil’s Defence Minister Jose Mucio said on Friday his country’s planemaker Embraer SA (EMBR3.SA) would manufacture aircraft that meet NATO’s requirements in a partnership with Portuguese aerospace company OGMA. – Reuters

United States

Too many people have access to the U.S. government’s closest secrets and a central entity should oversee the classification process, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Sunday, addressing leaks of documents in an online chat group. – Reuters

Ramesh Ponnuru writes: Gun-control advocates are not wrong to feel frustrated. We ought to do something different than we have been doing. But they are themselves, unintentionally, part of the problem. In recent years, they have taken to condemning politicians who offer only “thoughts and prayers” after bloodshed but do nothing else to stop it. What they are doing instead is calling for the same hopeless agenda and raging at their enemies. Is that really so much better? – Washington Post

Marc Katz writes: None of these actions alone, or even in aggregate, will stop antisemitic terror. What our work can do, however, is palliate the fear that hatred seeks to create. […]We need to ask not what will happen tomorrow but what we can do today. Then, when tomorrow comes, we arrive, realizing we have been so busy fixing our broken world that we had no time to be afraid. – New York Times


China is building sophisticated cyber weapons to “seize control” of enemy satellites, rendering them useless for data signals or surveillance during wartime, according to a leaked US intelligence report. – Financial Times

Two critical infrastructure organizations in the energy sector — one in the United States and another in Europe — are among the victims of a supply chain attack relying on modified financial services software that has been implicated in a separate, second supply chain attack affecting the communications provider 3CX, researchers with Symantec’s Threat Hunter Team said Friday. – ​​CyberScoop

Some of the biggest names in modern computing — including a winner of the prestigious Turing Award — are betting on a new type of operating system they say will be resilient against common cyberattacks and bounce back from ransomware infections within minutes. – ​​CyberScoop

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Friday that his department will carry out a 90-day sprint to study and counter threats from Beijing and that the department will form a task force to examine how to integrate artificial intelligence into its work. – ​​CyberScoop  

Finnish organizations are increasingly being targeted with cyberattacks, the government announced Friday — two weeks after the country officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. – The Record 


In sum, the United States challenged 22 excessive maritime claims of 15 claimants. The report cites each claimant’s specific laws, regulations, and other proclamations articulating the excessive maritime claims in brackets. To maintain the operational security of U.S. military forces, DoD Annual FON Reports include only general geographic information on the location of operational challenges and do not specify the precise number of challenges to each excessive maritime claim. – USNI News

The Air Force now expects an over two-year delay on entering production of its T-7A Red Hawk training jet, thanks to a series of design issues discovered during prototyping — including issues with the plane’s emergency escape system. – Breaking Defense

The Space Force has set a goal of fielding a tactically responsive space capability by the 2025-2026 timeframe, a top service official said Thursday, though the Pentagon still has many details to work out before it can launch satellites practically on-demand if the need arises. – Breaking Defense

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: By pursuing these reforms (and straying away from harmful ideas like capping spending at arbitrary levels disconnected from the real world), Congress can begin this essential but difficult job of reform through reduction rather than the addition of new laws and rules that further slow down an already glacial organization. Moreover, policymakers will demonstrate their seriousness about needed defense rehabilitation, while skipping the defense-reform theater that has plagued the military for too long. – Defense News