Fdd's overnight brief

April 26, 2023

In The News


It was 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday when the teacher began receiving frantic calls. There had been a gas attack on the girl’s elementary school where she taught, in the Kurdish region of western Iran. – Washington Post

A senior Shiite cleric in Iran was shot and killed Wednesday in an attack in a northern province along the Caspian Sea, authorities said. – Associated Press

Iran has charged two prominent actresses for publishing pictures of themselves flouting the country’s dress code for women, just weeks after announcing a crackdown on breaches, local media reported. – Agence France-Presse

A dissident Iranian journalist has been arrested again, barely three months after his release from prison following two years of incarceration, his family said on Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Strikes by Iranian energy, petrochemicals and steel workers are gaining momentum as new firms have joined nationwide industrial action. Workers in more than 80 companies have joined industrial action, protesting poor working conditions, low wages and rising costs of living, according to the Council for Organizing Oil Contract-Workers’ Protests. – Iran International

Two years since Myanmar’s military coup, widespread violence continues to escalate across the country, with growing indications and accusations of Iranian support to the junta. – Iran International

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s military high command is starved of resources anyways, because they are going to the IRGC. But Iran’s military brass know that Iran won’t be fighting a large land war anytime soon. This is why Iran can afford to send cheap and simple munitions to Russia. Iran hopes in the end Russia will then supply Iran with things it needs like technology and warplanes.– Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

The Azov brigade, hailed by Ukrainians for its tenacity during Russia’s siege of Mariupol, is scrambling to rebuild from heavy combat losses as it seeks to play a muscular role in Ukraine’s next major assault. – Washington Post

Approval of Russia’s global leadership abilities plummeted from 33 percent to 21 percent since its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to “Rating World Leaders,” a report published Tuesday by Gallup, which conducted surveys in 137 countries. – Washington Post

Russia is piling pressure on Ukraine and Western governments over a deal that reopened key Ukrainian ports for vital grain exports, renewing threats to back out of the agreement that lowered global food prices last year. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s ability to wrest territory away from Russian forces and weaken their hold on other occupied areas in a coming spring offensive will be critical to sustaining support for continued military assistance from Washington, according to U.S. lawmakers and Western officials. – Wall Street Journal

An ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the world was probably on the verge of a new world war and the risks of a nuclear confrontation were rising. – Reuters 

Ukrainian forces based on the western side of the River Dnipro are frequently carrying out raids on the eastern bank near the city of Kherson to try to dislodge Russian troops, a regional official said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Ukraine is working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and American companies to collect evidence of war crimes by Russians, such as geolocation and cellphone information, senior officials said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Russia has no interest in nuclear arms control negotiations with the United States, according to a senior Russian envoy, who implied that Moscow might deploy missiles in the Indo-Pacific to challenge the American alliance network. – Washington Examiner 

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) urged Russia and Ukraine to reach a ceasefire, making the comments during a visit to Japan on a multi-stop international tour. – The Hill 

Ukrainian authorities said two people are dead after a Russian missile hit a history museum on Tuesday in the eastern part of the country. – The Hill  

Daniel Ellsberg, the man behind the largest and perhaps most consequential disclosure in U.S. history, said the latest intelligence leaks show that the war between Russia and Ukraine is at a “stalemate,” drawing similarities to the Vietnam War. – The Hill  

Over the next 20 years, Putin and his military leaders rebuilt that force into one capable of a variety of operations around the world, with advanced warships and aircraft and well-armed troops — all backed up by the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. – Business Insider 

Dmytro Kuleba writes: The best way to ensure Euro-Atlantic security is to welcome Ukraine into NATO. Politicians, diplomats, and analysts can always be counted on to come up with new arguments for keeping Ukraine outside the alliance, as they have been doing for years now. The good news is that each new argument is weaker than the last. The bad news is that constantly having to disprove them wastes precious time at the expense of people’s security. Ukraine needs NATO, and NATO needs Ukraine. – Foreign Affairs 

Walter Clemens writes: While it is true that Putin, like Stalin, has been guided by the arrogance of personal power and hubris, he is not a great Russian Vozhd or leader. The lesson for the West is that while the Kremlin’s occupant wants us to believe he’s a man of steel, all the wise money says he’s already rusting. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Mark F. Cancian writes: To prevent Russia from gaining a significant operational advantage, Ukraine needs some enhancement or resupply of its air defenses. Although a few Soviet-era systems may still be available on the world market, they are scarce. Only NATO systems can fill the void. For NATO countries, this means accepting a higher degree of risk by taking systems from their own forces and reducing munitions inventories below desired levels. However, it is better to win the war at hand rather than lose it in favor of a future war that may never occur. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 


Israel kicked off annual Independence Day celebrations on Tuesday evening though tens of thousands of people decided instead to again protest at divisive plans by the government to push through restrictions on the judiciary. – Reuters

A gunman fired at joggers from a passing car at a junction near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, medics said, and the Israeli military blocked roads and launched a search in response. – Reuters 

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and 18 House Democrats on Tuesday voted against a resolution that honored the U.S.-Israeli relationship on Israeli Independence Day and expressed support for expanding and strengthening the Abraham Accords — the 2020 agreement establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. – The Hill  

US President Joe Biden released a statement on Tuesday, celebrating Israel’s 75th Independence Day. “On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend our best wishes to the people of Israel as they celebrate 75 years of statehood,” the President wrote. – Jerusalem Post

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday sent a message of friendship to Israel in honor of the country’s 75th Independence Day. – Arutz Sheva

Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Gilad Erdan staged a walkout from a Security Council hearing on the Palestinians on Tuesday to protest against the meeting being held on Israel’s Memorial Day. – Ynet

Sirens blared for two minutes across the country as Israelis stopped to remember fallen soldiers and victims of terror on Tuesday morning. The siren is followed by official memorial services at the 52 military cemeteries throughout the country. – Ynet

A 28-year-old man was wounded on Tuesday morning in a shooting attack in the West Bank region of Binyamin. – Ynet   

Elliot Kaufman writes: Once upon a time in Israel, the left-wing majority knew how to lead and the right-wing minority knew when to hold fire. The combination produced a state worthy of its miraculous creation. Now, as Israel’s third generation beckons, the roles are reversed and neither side is content. […]Only Mr. Netanyahu keeps his eyes fixed on Iran rather than internal squabbles. Increasingly it seems that he must solidify the state and redeem the revolution or be devoured in its wake. – Wall Street Journal 

Anshel Pfeffer writes: Past political challenges and intrusions on the memorials and celebrations pale in comparison to this year’s. And while this year’s have been caused by the protests and political upheaval, it seems the Israeli consensus around these national days will be extremely hard to rebuild once the demonstrations have died down. – Haaretz 


Taliban fighters in Afghanistan recently killed an Islamic State militant who U.S. officials believe was responsible for the August 2021 suicide attack at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members. – Wall Street Journal

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee demanded the State Department release the department’s review of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. – Washington Examiner 

Jim Cook writes: While I supported President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and am sympathetic to the constraints and deadlines inherited from his predecessor, he had agency for the withdrawal debacle that occurred on his watch. He should answer questions about whether his administration truly planned “for all contingencies – including a rapid deterioration of the security situation” as described in the summary report. – The National Interest 


Russian jet fighters and drones are harassing U.S. forces in Syria with increasing frequency, according to American officials, creating new risks of a deadly miscalculation between the two military superpowers. – Wall Street Journal

Syrians living on opposite sides of the largely frozen battle lines dividing their country are watching the accelerating normalization of ties between the government of Bashar Assad and Syria’s neighbors through starkly different lenses. – Associated Press

Syria on Tuesday condemned the European Union’s new sanctions on Damascus over making and trafficking an amphetamine saying the move was based on lies. – Associated Press

Kim Ghattas writes: There is no sign of another uprising in Syria, and no generals who look likely to depose Assad and battle for control of the country. Yet the lead-up to the crisis in Khartoum carries a lesson for those dignitaries beating a path to Damascus. Compromising with tyrants — whether they be sitting in a presidential palace or wearing fatigues — without leverage, deterrence or accountability, is a recipe for tragic failure. – Financial Times

Emad Bouzo writes: Moreover, Syria needs to request support from international organizations with the resources and experience necessary to deal with the complicated situation of drug-use and abuse in Syria. While such efforts are unlikely to occur, even the most basic steps cannot be taken until the scope of the matter is understood. Otherwise, Syria’s addiction problem will only continue to grow, even as the state seeks to fund itself by exporting these drugs abroad. – Washington Institute


Once celebrated as the leader who lifted millions of Turks into the middle class, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing the most serious challenge to his 20-year rule in an election next month amid voter anger over his handling of the economy. – Wall Street Journal

Police in Turkey carried out raids on homes in 21 provinces on Tuesday, detaining some 110 people for alleged links to Kurdish militants, the country’s state-run news agency reported. – Associated Press

The defence ministers and intelligence chiefs of Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey held talks on Tuesday that Ankara and Moscow described as constructive, as part of efforts to rebuild Turkey-Syria ties after years of animosity during the Syrian war. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

The United Arab Emirates needs more time to show it’s done enough to be removed from a global financial crimes watchdog’s “gray list,” a senior government official said, as the Gulf country remains under scrutiny as a haven for dubious money dealings. – Bloomberg 

Lebanese authorities and a European judicial team on Tuesday agreed to exchange information about their separate corruption probes of Lebanon’s Central Bank governor, officials said. – Associated Press

David Schenker writes: Despite complications, Jordan by necessity will continue to seek foreign direct investment, including from China. The challenge for Washington will be to establish and enforce expectations while being tolerant of its partners’ less strategically consequential dealings with Beijing. For Jordan and Washington’s other Arab partners looking to do business with China, Attarat should prove a cautionary tale. – The Hill  

Jonathan Schachter writes: Alternatively, the president could engage and reassure the Saudis, as well as the Israelis and their neighbors, by taking an unambiguously tough stance against Iran’s nuclear offenses and regional aggression, while demonstrating a renewed American commitment to Middle East security and stability and to addressing disputes collaboratively with U.S. allies and partners. This approach requires resolve and a willingness to break from an Obama legacy issue, but it is the only way to check the nuclear arms race that the JCPOA ignited. – The Hill  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Another factor in analyzing spending is that it’s not known how much these regimes really spend. Iran is not a transparent regime. It’s not likely we will ever know all the details of how Iran develops weapons and how it spends on its defense industry, especially the major threats such as the nuclear program, the ballistic missiles and drones, as well as precision-guided munitions.  – Jerusalem Post

Matthew Levitt and Lauren von Thaden write: In private conversations, Israeli and Jordanian officials often praise each other’s efforts to counter cross-border smuggling—though they typically note that more can be done. Indeed, despite the audacity of Imad al-Adwan’s case, the greater threat for both countries still comes from day-to-day smuggling operations along their insufficiently guarded northern border. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

President Biden aims to strengthen a commitment from South Korea to bolster Ukraine’s military during a state visit by President Yoon Suk Yeol this week, while playing down disclosures in leaked U.S. intelligence documents that purportedly revealed a debate within Seoul’s government over the issue. – Wall Street Journal

A subsidiary of one of the world’s largest tobacco companies pleaded guilty in a D.C. courtroom Tuesday morning to conspiring to commit bank fraud and violating U.S. sanctions by selling tobacco products to North Korea and illegally concealing those sales so American banks would process the transactions. – Washington Post

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held trade talks with South Korean officials in Seoul on Wednesday, on the second leg of his four-nation trip, as the possible rival to Donald Trump seeks to build his diplomatic profile ahead of a widely anticipated presidential campaign launch. – Associated Press

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol opened his state visit to Washington on Tuesday by touring a NASA facility with Vice President Kamala Harris as the Biden administration looks to deepen ties with a close ally that it sees as only growing in importance in an increasingly complicated Indo-Pacific. – Associated Press

President Biden’s summit Wednesday with South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk-yeol, is likely to wind up in a blaze of rhetoric intended to cover the reality that influential Americans with long experience in the region are highly divided on what to do about North Korea. – New York Sun

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Tuesday the South Korean-U.S. alliance must “leap into a new phase” to jointly overcome complex crises, including slowing economic growth, technology competition with strategic rivals and climate change. – Reuters 

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol was in hot water Tuesday after comments he made about former colonial power Japan not needing to “kneel down” to improve ties went viral on social media. – Agence France-Presse

David Ignatius writes: Seventy years ago, South Korea was in ruins, with “blasted and burned cities” and millions of Korean War victims, “homeless and jobless, living in squalor,” wrote T.R. Fehrenbach in his classic history of the conflict. Today, South Korea is an economic and technology superpower. The challenge for the United States is how to extend the magnificent arc of that story far into the future. – Washington Post

Ernest J. Moniz writes:  But South Korea will not solve its national security challenges by developing a nuclear deterrent. Doing so would instead invite new challenges and trigger consequences that would stymie Seoul’s rise as a global leader and imperil both economic prosperity and national security in the process. The South Korean government and its people must fully understand these dangers before they consider such a risky course. – Foreign Policy 


A veteran Chinese journalist who worked at a ruling Communist Party-affiliated newspaper and was a Harvard University fellow faces espionage charges after being detained while meeting with a Japanese diplomat in a restaurant, his family said Monday. – Associated Press

A group of nine Republican senators on Tuesday urged the Biden administration to impose sanctions on Huawei Cloud and other Chinese cloud service providers, citing national security concerns, according to a letter seen by Reuters. – Reuters

China and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening maritime law enforcement cooperation, Chinese state media said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

The Pentagon’s No. 2 official said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is teaching the US valuable lessons for a potential conflict with China, from the need to build a steady ammunition pipeline to innovation in space. – Bloomberg

American companies in China are increasingly pessimistic about the relationship between Washington and Beijing as geopolitical tensions escalate, even as they have a more favorable view of the nation’s economic recovery, according to a new survey. – Bloomberg 

A spy balloon floated over most of the continental United States. A Chinese government-linked corporation purchased a plot of land near a sensitive military base. The recent brushes with China have crystallized a challenge for lawmakers and defense experts that has long sat in the shadows — Beijing’s steadily increasing share of U.S. land poses a serious “national security threat.” – Washington Examiner

The House unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday that calls on China to release Mark Swidan, the U.S. citizen who has been detained in China since 2012 and who was sentenced to death in 2019. – The Hill   

Tom Rogan writes: Xi and his Central Foreign Affairs Commission chief Wang Yi believe that China must never show weakness. To do so, in their mind, is to signal they have blood in the water and to invite challenge. Instead, they want to present China’s power and ambition as an inevitability the West must accept via lucrative short-term trade arrangements and Beijing’s insipid “win-win cooperation” rhetoric. – Washington Examiner 

Sean Durns writes: This must be a priority. As China select committee Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) told me, if China invades Taiwan, the U.S. should assume that the homeland will be attacked and that part of the House select committee on China’s role “is to ensure the Department of Defense and the private sector are moving with a sense of urgency to harden this critical infrastructure before it’s too late.” – Washington Examiner 

Martin Wolf writes: The era of strategic confrontation we have entered is frightening. This is especially so for those of us who want the ideals of individual freedom and democracy to thrive, while co-operating with China in both sustaining peace and prosperity and protecting our precious planet. – Financial Times

Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage write: It should be stated repeatedly that the war in Ukraine is existential for Europeans, and impeding Chinese intervention is a fundamental European interest. By wading into the conflict, China would lose Europe. For their part, U.S. officials must impress on Beijing the United States’ patience and steely resolve in supporting the Ukrainian war effort. Demonstrating this fortitude and commitment to Ukraine’s cause should help Beijing see more starkly the risks of widening the war. – Foreign Affairs 

South Asia

Sri Lanka pushed back the release of its debt restructuring plan to investors to the middle of May from this month. – Bloomberg 

India will keep pushing for easier visa rules for skilled professionals hired by its companies investing in Britain as it looks to finalize a free trade pact with the UK by end-2023, according to people with knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg 

Clyde Russell writes: While India’s switch to Russian crude is certainly the headline news, it is worth noting that the South Asian nation has also been buying increasing volumes from the non-OPEC+ exporters. – Reuters


Separatist rebels in Indonesia’s restive Papua region released a video Wednesday appearing to show the New Zealand pilot they took hostage in February saying that recent Indonesian military attacks threatened his safety. – Associated Press

Taiwan’s annual Han Kuang military drills this year will focus on combating a blockade of the island and preserving the fighting ability of its forces, taking into account China’s recent war games, the defence ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Australia said on Wednesday it would start domestic manufacture of guided missiles by 2025, two years sooner than expected, in a wide-ranging shakeup of defence arrangements to focus on long-range strike capability. – Reuters 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday that Sydney will host the 2023 Quad Leaders’ summit on May 24, the third in-person meeting of the leaders of Australia, the United States, India and Japan. – Reuters 

Taiwan’s main international airport shut a runway Wednesday due to suspected explosives on an Air China plane flying from Beijing, according to a media report. – Bloomberg 

The US and the Philippines fired at a decommissioned ship in the South China Sea as part of their largest military drills to date, in a display of defense capabilities amid heightened tensions with Beijing. – Bloomberg 

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) underscored the importance of deterrence to safeguard Taiwan from a Chinese invasion while abroad in Asia. – Washington Examiner 

A Chinese-built amphibious assault ship ordered by Thailand arrived at its homeport in the country’s south a week after it was officially handed over to its new owner at the Chinese shipyard. – Defense News

Choe Sang-Hun writes: Now, the United States wants all its allies to play a bigger role in regional defense. In addition to South Korea and Japan, Washington has recently moved to strengthen its military ties with Australia, India and the Philippines to counterbalance China’s influence in the region and to bolster its ability to defend Taiwan. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: This debate underlines the temptation in Washington, D.C., both in think tanks and high-level policy circles, to believe that deterring or defeating China will be difficult, dangerous, and probably deadly, but not extraordinarily so. I believe such assessments are a profound mistake. […]That does not mean abandoning Ukraine. But it does mean more difficult choices, especially when it comes to man-portable anti-air and anti-armor weapons systems. – Washington Examiner 

Joseph Bosco writes: But its monumental Afghanistan failure seriously tarnished U.S. credibility on a broad foreign policy front. And its erratic stalemate policy on Ukraine has raised doubts about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan despite Biden’s occasional ad hocremarks unmatched by formal administration statements. Biden needs to state, officially and unequivocally, that the U.S. will do whatever is necessary to assure the democratic security of both Ukraine and Taiwan as front-line states in the existential struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. – The Hill 

Mitsugu Saito writes: Finally, while Japan has maintained bilateral economic ties with Iran for decades in spite of U.S. displeasure, that seems to be less possible recently. This change reflects the growing seriousness of the security environment surrounding Japan. Tokyo now needs to rely on the U.S. security commitment more than ever and does not want to provoke the U.S. on issues where Japan can compromise — Iran being one such issue. – Middle East Institute


The European Union, among the world’s strongest proponents of media freedom, isn’t doing enough to protect reporters within its own borders, according to  the Committee to Protect Journalists, an international advocacy group. – Wall Street Journal

After more than a year of surprisingly solid European unity in support of Ukraine, grains of discord are piling up in the barn of Robert Vieru, a Romanian farmer with 500 tons of wheat and 250 tons of sunflower seeds now sitting unsold because of cut-price Ukrainian competition. – New York Times

EU countries criticised Warsaw and other capitals on Tuesday for refusing to reverse unilateral import bans on grain from war-torn Ukraine. – Financial Times

A Chinese ambassador who questioned the sovereignty of former Soviet states has damaged Beijing’s standing as it approaches a pivotal moment in its relations with the EU. – Financial Times

For Ruslan, an engineer in the Belarus capital of Minsk, Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine suddenly seemed closer than ever when a conscription office recently sent him a summons for military training. – Associated Press

German authorities have arrested a Syrian man on suspicion of planning to carry out an explosives attack motivated by Islamic extremism, officials said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Russia’s top diplomat warned Tuesday that the European Union “is becoming militarized at a record rate” and aggressive in its goal of containing Russia. – Associated Press

NATO’s largest ever air deployment exercise, set to take place in June, is unlikely to lead to commercial flight cancellations, Europe’s lead air traffic manager said, after Germany’s aviation industry expressed worries that it could cause disruption. – Reuters 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has invited Chinese Premier Li Qiang for talks in Berlin on June 20, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. – Reuters 

A former commander in Russia’s Wagner mercenary group seeking asylum in Norway pleaded guilty on Tuesday to being involved in a fight outside an Oslo bar and carrying an air gun in public and said he felt “very ashamed.” – Reuters

Three Russian military aircraft flying without transponder signals have been intercepted in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, Germany’s Luftwaffe said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Sweden’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it was expelling five Russian diplomats for conducting activities incompatible with their diplomatic status, saying the government took the security threat posed by Russian intelligence gathering very seriously. – Reuters  

The EU will send a civilian mission to Moldova to help the Eastern European nation combat growing threats from abroad, officials have confirmed, following a string of reports that the Kremlin is working to destabilize the former Soviet Republic. – Politico  

Editorial: Examples abound of financial institutions that have adopted policies to restrict defense investment. […]Bad actors like Russia and China share no such ethical qualms. They respect only military power. A West that is reluctant to arm itself won’t deter aggressors, and the result will be a more dangerous, violent world. – Wall Street Journal

Aura Sabadus writes: After decades of crippling dependence on Russia, the region has a real chance to integrate its markets and diversify away from Russian gas while also preparing for a smooth transition to green economies of scale. However, rather than bringing inclusion and diversity, the Solidarity Ring proposed by Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia will fragment the region and potentially deepen its dependence on Russia while leaving no room for transparency and oversight. Given these strong arguments, the EU still has an opportunity to refuse funding and discourage proponents from proceeding. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Olya Korbut writes: Despite the limitations of the 1938 Montreux Convention on the passage into the Black Sea of warships from non-littoral states, NATO could quite easily use Romania’s established shipbuilding tradition to produce small vessels, including unmanned drones. It could deploy multinational crews to these vessels. It could base aircraft and drones in Bulgaria and Romania (Turkey too, if it was willing.) It could press Turkey to adopt a more permissive understanding of Montreux. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Federico Steinberg writes: Beyond economic integration, it is also reasonable that some countries are reluctant to cede their sovereignty to Brussels on issues such as defense or border control. […]But the countries that decided to stay in the European Union should understand that the only way forward is toward deeper integration. This will require sacrifices and cessions of sovereignty, but the alternative is that individual European countries, or even the union as a whole, will be of little relevance in a world where multilateralism, which Europeans like so much, is becoming weaker and weaker. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 

Carolin Busch and Lorène Slous write: There is no time to lose. SpaceX is launching several mini-satellites regularly. Already, the company possesses the power to intervene in an ongoing conflict: If Elon Musk decided to cut his services, the Ukrainian army would lose a serious warfighting advantage. The German government is uniquely positioned to take the lead in space security policy in Europe, but it should start being ambitious now. – War on the Rocks 

Benjamin Giltner writes: Amid the need for the United States to deal with its domestic issues, such as increasing economic inequality and a mental health crisis, and a world of multiple great powers, it will be difficult for Washington to continue to be the security guarantor in Europe. Prudency and careful analysis are needed in foreign policy. Such statecraft is especially needed in our present world, where history is back with a vengeance in international politics. If we are not careful, we may be at risk of repeating history’s gravest mistakes. – The National Interest 


Gunfire and loud explosions persisted Tuesday in parts of Sudan’s capital Khartoum despite a U.S.-mediated cease-fire between the country’s two top generals, whose battle for power has already killed hundreds and sent thousands fleeing for their lives. – Wall Street Journal

A rivalry between Sudan’s top two generals erupted into warfare on April 15, pitting the East African country’s military against a state-sponsored militia called the Rapid Support Forces. The military is using jet fighters to strike RSF positions, many in densely populated areas, while both factions are engaging in street battles using guns and artillery fire. – Wall Street Journal

An attack on the prison holding deposed Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir has raised questions about his whereabouts, with one of the warring sides saying he is being held in a secure location and the other alleging he has been released. – Associated Press

Ethiopia’s federal government and a rebel group from the country’s Oromia region opened peace talks on Tuesday in the Tanzanian island archipelago of Zanzibar, according to a spokesperson for the militants. – Associated Press

There is a “high risk of biological hazard” in Sudan’s capital Khartoum after one of the warring parties seized a laboratory holding measles and cholera pathogens and other hazardous materials, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. – Reuters

South Africa’s governing African National Congress will aim to repeal the country’s membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC), President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday, the second time it has attempted to do so. – Reuters   

The first Turkish civilians evacuated from Sudan returned to Turkey on Wednesday, with more than 100 people arriving by plane at Istanbul Airport, Reuters footage showed. – Reuters 

Britain launched a large-scale evacuation of its citizens from Sudan on Tuesday, joining other nations racing to get their people out of the North African country after its warring factions agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire. – Reuters

Two German endurance athletes on a mission to run some 12,000 km (7,400 miles) between the northern- and southernmost tips of Africa had a sudden change in plans after being trapped in Sudan by fighting and having to find a way to get out of the country. – Reuters  

The death toll among followers of a Kenyan cult who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves has risen to 89, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said on Tuesday, calling for the group’s leader to spend the rest of his life in prison. – Reuters

Ukraine has rescued 138 civilians, including its own nationals and citizens of Georgia and Peru, who were trapped by fighting in Sudan, Ukraine’s military intelligence said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Cyprus said on Tuesday it had activated a humanitarian rescue mechanism for the evacuation of third-country civilians through the island from Sudan. – Reuters  

Landry Signé and Brahima Sangafowa Coulibali write: In taking this move, the G-20 can help unleash Africa’s extraordinary economic potential and harness Africa’s contributions to solving the crucial global challenges of our time. African representation in the body is long overdue, especially given the world’s growing divisions and endangered multilateral institutions. An African Union seat in the G-20 would be a huge step forward in securing the future of this vital global forum. – Foreign Affairs  

Michael Albanese writes: The situation could even worsen, as the end of Putin’s war in Ukraine may see thousands of battle-hardened men seeking lucrative employment elsewhere. Such a deluge of mercenaries, in their quest for Africa’s gold and other resources, might then plunge the continent even deeper into conflict. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Ahmed Charai writes: The United States has left a vacuum in Africa and now its rivals have rushed in. It is not too late for America to offer the African continent what it really wants: peace, prosperity, recognition, and democracy. It could start with Sudan. – The National Interest 

Latin America

Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaidó, who had led a pro-democracy movement with the support of the U.S. and dozens of countries, landed Tuesday in the U.S. after fleeing his homeland.   – Wall Street Journal

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrived in Spain on Tuesday on the second stop of a European tour aimed at resetting relations and making progress on a long-delayed trade deal between the European Union and the South American bloc Mercosur. – Associated Press

The president of Guatemala appealed to other governments to respect Taiwan’s sovereignty during an official visit Tuesday at a time when China’s ruling Communist Party is stepping up efforts to isolate the self-ruled island democracy Beijing claims as its own territory. – Associated Press

A summit meant to reinvigorate talks between the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro and opposition political parties, attended by representatives from 19 countries and the European Union, produced no concrete results on Tuesday, though a further meeting was planned. – Reuters 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Tuesday, but said no one is talking about peace in what he called an “insane war.” – Reuters

Opponents of Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva condemned his visit on Tuesday to Portugal’s parliament as hypocritical while a rival group of supporters hailed him as the saviour of their nation. – Reuters  

United States

Daniel Ellsberg, the person responsible for perhaps the biggest leak in U.S. government history — the Pentagon Papers — said the latest disclosures of classified information show that the world still faces some of the same dangers that spurred him to act more than 50 years ago. – Washington Post

Loose gun regulations in the United States have turned the country into a gold mine for weapons traffickers, a UN report found. – Business Insider 

José Enrique Meléndez-Ortiz writes: How would the U.S. counter any foreign state’s financial investment or incentives given to a sovereign Puerto Rico or to an important group of policy makers? Is it in the U.S. interest to have the CCP in control a former naval facility of this magnitude? The federal government should reconsider its position that the debate of Puerto Rico’s status is a local issue, because it is not. It is time for the federal government to finally recognize the assessment that with the issue of Puerto Rico there is more than meets the eye. – The Hill  


Montana’s governor is asking legislators to make changes to a bill that would be the first in the U.S. to ban TikTok outright, according to a draft of the amended bill language viewed by The Wall Street Journal. – Wall Street Journal

The Chinese government has a team of police officers who create fake social accounts to harass dissidents and other critics outside of its borders, according to US prosecutors. – Bloomberg 

The world’s largest social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and others will have to crack down on illegal and harmful content or else face hefty fines under the European Union’s Digital Services Act from as early as August 25. – Politico

A plan to enact the Biden administration’s recently released national cyber strategy could be published within the next few months, according to a senior White House official. – The Record

Cybersecurity researchers will show this week how they seized control of a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite in a demonstration that has been described as the world’s first ethical satellite hacking exercise. – The Record

Ylli Bajraktari and Lauren Naniche write: The transatlantic alliance should spend more time on cultivating our rich ecosystems of universities, companies, and innovators, rather than belaboring the risks of innovation. We need to shift our mindsets toward an optimistic view of AI and look forward to harnessing its benefits, rather than automatically hitting the regulation button. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Peter Chase and Anda Bologa write: This is the fate of all social media platforms. TikTok may or may not be “good;” in the end, its users should decide. US politicians can – and should – think about reining in the targeted advertising business model that motivates TikTok, Facebook, Google, and far too many others to collect and deal in personal information. But that is a domestic issue, not one about an evil, wicked, mean, and nasty Chinese empire. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


The Army Corps plan in Norfolk is part of a broad push to fortify a region home to 1.8 million people and the world’s largest Navy base. It calls for storm-surge barriers, about 9 miles of flood walls and levees, 11 tide gates and 10 pump stations. – Wall Street Journal 

Electric aircraft maker Joby Aviation (JOBY.N) will deliver up to nine air taxis to the U.S. Air Force under a $55 million contract extension that marks the company’s first revenue-generating operations, the company announced on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Raytheon Technologies’ supply chain is showing signs of stabilizing, executives said today during their first quarter earnings call for 2023, though obstacles persist as the company works to meet what it calls a “record” backlog of $180 billion. – Breaking Defense

The US Army has postponed making a full-rate production decision on its UH-60V Black Hawk upgrade with new digital cockpit until it completes a “deliberate and rigorous review” of the Northrop Grumman design, a service official told Breaking Defense. The postponement comes after the service revealed it plans to invest in fewer of the upgrades than previously indicated. – Breaking Defense

Sen. Kevin Cramer writes: While North Dakota’s recent experience highlighted the threat of foreign investment in close proximity to one of our critical Air Force bases, national security apprehensions over foreign purchases of agricultural land and facilities are not limited to those near military installations. […]Pushback from local communities, our military, Congress, and a more focused CFIUS will bring much-needed transparency and clarity to the conversation, making us think twice about who we are letting move in next door. – Washington Examiner 

Elaine McCusker and Mark Easton write: The DOD must continue to pursue the financial audit to comply with the law. […]The smaller and more focused set of secretary of defense priorities is the right one in balancing progress toward an audit opinion with the day-to-day benefits of the journey. Those in Congress who confuse the lack of an audit opinion with evidence of waste or treat it as an excuse to cut funding are missing proof of its real value. – American Enterprise Institute