Fdd's overnight brief

July 1, 2021

In The News


The first-of-its-kind discovery of the Iranian campaign by FakeReporter, an Israeli disinformation watchdog group, offers insight into how countries have miniaturized their disinformation campaigns in an effort to stay under the radar of tech companies that have become more aggressive in rooting them out.New York Times

The United Nations, European Union and many Security Council members urged the United States and Iran on Wednesday to quickly put the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear program back on track, but neither side showed any sign of movement toward an agreement. – Associated Press

Iran’s supreme leader has appointed a new judiciary chief to replace the man recently elected as the country’s new president who formerly held the post, state media reported Thursday. – Associated Press

The United Nations, European Union and many Security Council members urged the United States and Iran on Wednesday to quickly put the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at reining in Tehran’s nuclear program back on track, but neither side showed any sign of movement toward an agreement. – Associated Press

Thousands of workers in Iran’s vast energy industry have gone on strike over the past week to press demands for better wages and conditions at oil facilities, Iranian media reported Wednesday. The widespread demonstrations underscore the mounting economic pressures on the country as it struggles to secure relief from crippling sanctions. – Associated Press

Iran’s use of the death penalty for crimes committed as minors does not mean it violates human rights, a senior Iranian official has insisted to AFP in response to UN criticism. – Agence France-Presse

Diplomats negotiating for months over Iran’s nuclear program now face the prospect of new delays and rising risk that they’ll fail to resurrect a landmark deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers. – Bloomberg

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the US issued veiled threats against Iran on Wednesday from Jerusalem and New York.- Jerusalem Post

Iran’s envoy to the United Nations told the Security Council Wednesday that an essential condition for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal is a commitment by the US that it will never again unilaterally pull out of the agreement. – Associated Press

Shimon Shapira and Michael (Mickey) Segall writes: For Iran, “Palestine” is only one part of a complex strategy of building the Axis of Resistance from the Persian Gulf to Lebanon, aimed at Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon; each arena has its own blueprint, a toolbox of hostile insurgency actions, and the guidance of Hezbollah, the Quds Force and well-trained militias. Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s newly elected president, who is part of the system and who was shaped by it, will further strengthen this predicament by defying the West, calling for the destruction of Israel (using Jerusalem as a common denominator), and pursuing regional hegemony through subversion, ballistic missiles, and Iran’s nuclear program. – Arutz Sheva

Simon Henderson writes: A reversion to a nuclear deal with Tehran is still far from certain, but allowing the ayatollahs to export oil freely at high prices is unlikely to be accompanied by what the West regards as proper international behavior. Even a no-deal outcome is not good from a U.S. perspective, because Iran still would earn more for its exports to China, Venezuela, Syria and elsewhere. – The Hill 

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: At the same time, the U.S. must recognize that the Iranian missile threat, Iran’s influence over key neighbors like Syria and Iraq, and Iran’s capabilities for asymmetric maritime warfare in the Gulf must be considered in shaping both U.S. efforts to negotiate a nuclear agreement and to reach some form of more stable military balance in the region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Russia’s U.N ambassador on Wednesday ca.lled a proposal to reopen a border crossing from Iraq to Syria’s northeast for delivering humanitarian aid “a non-starter.” He also refused to say what will happen to the only crossing now in operation, from Turkey to the country’s rebel-held northwest. – Associated Press

Hundreds of children are incarcerated in adult prisons in northeastern Syria, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday, disclosing their plight as inmates for the first time. – Reuters


Turkey officially withdrew on Thursday from an international treaty to prevent violence against women, enacting a decision that drew condemnation from many Turks and Western allies when President Tayyip Erdogan announced it in March. – Reuters

Turkey is in talks with Russia and other members of the United Nations Security Council on the extension of a cross-border aid operation into war-torn Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, less than 10 days before the mandate expires. – Reuters

Turkey’s central bank said on Thursday it would hike required reserve ratios on foreign currency deposits and took steps to bolster lira held in the banking system, in an effort to stem near-record high forex held by Turks. – Reuters


Israel’s new foreign minister said on Wednesday his landmark visit to the United Arab Emirates was just the start of a road to wider peace in the Middle East, reaching out to Arab states still wary of normalising ties. – Reuters

In the weeks before his Arab party made history in Israel by joining the ruling coalition, Saeed Alkhrumi says his relatives and neighbors were notified that their homes would be demolished. – Associated Press

The Monday afternoon closed-door meeting between leading House members and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin focused largely on reaffirming the bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship, lawmakers who participated in the meeting told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. – Jewish Insider

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett agreed to advance the legalization of the West Bank outpost of Evyatar as part of a compromise agreement by which the hundreds of settlers and right-wing activists at the site would agree to voluntarily evacuate by 4 p.m. on Friday. – Jerusalem Post

A senior police officer has reportedly claimed that police are limited in their ability to respond to violent crimes in the Arab Israeli community because those leading the violence “are mostly Shin Bet informants.” The security service immediately denied the claim. – Times of Israel

National security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat informed Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday that he will be stepping down as of the end of August after four years in the job. – Haaretz

Indirect Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo between Hamas and Israel failed to advance a deal that would allow the release of two Israeli citizens held captive and the return of the remains of two of IDF soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, KAN news reported. – Jerusalem Post

Douglas Bloomfield writes: Any change in the US-Israel “special relationship” will require more than new leadership, as welcome and as important as it is. […]Reducing aid is unlikely to produce any change in Israeli policy, but defining responsibilities and terms of the $3.8 billion annual grant can help avoid problems in the future without weakening the fragile new Right-to-Left government. The changes at the top will not be a kumbaya moment, but if Biden, Bennett and Lapid are successful in waging political peace, support for Israel can be put back on a bipartisan track. – Jerusalem Post

Douglas Altabef writes: This government needs to stand for something. Evyatar provides the opportunity for the new government to affirm a commitment to Judea and Samaria, to assert its Zionist values, and despite its fragility, to establish priorities, including red lines, for the citizenry to see and understand.[…]The new government is already at a crossroads of its own creation. It will either show itself to be adept, inclusive, yet wholly committed to the Zionist vision, or it will reveal itself to be a whole that is less than the sum of its parts. – Jerusalem Post

Bassem Eid writes: Calling for boycotts, sanctions, and the destruction of Israel does not create real positive change for Palestinians. […]In this same spirit of willingness to come together, I invite Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to meet with me, a Palestinian Arab living in the ‘West Bank’, to discuss the problems of the Palestinians and the best solutions to address them. These congresswomen say they are willing to listen and learn, Well, if they really are, here’s their chance. – Arutz Sheva


U.S. airstrikes against camps used by Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria aren’t substantial enough to fortify an eroding U.S. position as a key Iraqi leader appears to be hedging his bets about U.S. support, say analysts familiar with the internal power dynamics of the country. – Washington Examiner

A bomb exploded in a busy Baghdad market on Wednesday, wounding at least 15 people, Iraq’s military said. – Associated Press

Editorial: That larger reform, while badly needed, is likely to face steep obstacles in a polarized Congress. But the repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF would be a step toward restoring Congress’s proper role in military affairs. Its proponents say they lack only a handful of Republican votes to overcome a potential filibuster; GOP senators who do not wish to hand Mr. Biden or future presidents a blank check in the Middle East should step forward. – Washington Post

Mary Doetsch writes: This Iraqi investigation is “more far-reaching and serious” than initially disclosed, involving widespread “fraud, records theft, and money laundering,” according to Reuters. Nonetheless, despite this reality, the Biden administration is likely to attempt to make good on its promise to increase refugee resettlement up to 125,000 individuals in fiscal year 2022, regardless of whether it’s in the best interests of U.S. citizens or the country. If so, based on my extensive experience, I foresee fraud and corruption on a scale never before witnessed in this deeply flawed and unethical program. – Washington Examiner


Defense attorneys in the trial surrounding an alleged plot to destabilize Jordan’s monarchy on Wednesday asked to call Prince Hamzah and other royals to testify in a state security court. – Associated Press

Jordan has drawn a curtain of secrecy on the unprecedented public rift within its royal family, but the social tensions laid bare by the palace drama that unfolded in April — particularly the economic despair of its influential tribes — can be seen everywhere. – Associated Press

Palestinian Authority President  Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday made a surprise visit to Amman, where he met with Jordan’s King Abdullah. – Jerusalem Post


Gunmen took to the streets in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Wednesday, firing in the air and at times throwing stones at soldiers amid rising anger at power cuts, fuel shortages and soaring prices. – Associated Press

Turkey’s Karpowership will resume electricity supply to Lebanon from its two power ships from Tuesday in a decision it said was a goodwill gesture against a backdrop of talks over payment arrears and a legal threat to its vessels. – Reuters

Pope Francis and Lebanon’s Christian leaders began a summit on Thursday to discuss how religion can help the country overcome its worst crisis since its civil war ended in 1990. – Reuters


An international rights group Wednesday accused Yemen’s Houthi rebels of prosecuting a female actor and model on charges of committing an indecent act and drug possession in a case “marred with irregularities and abuse.” – Associated Press

The World Bank will give Yemen $150 million in grants for health, nutrition and sanitation projects, helping address a funding shortfall facing the war-torn country. – Reuters

In a series of shows that aired on Al-Eman TV (Houthis-Yemen), Houthi scholars indoctrinated children against the U.S., Jews, Israel, and the leaders of the Gulf states. In a show that aired on June 12, 2021, Houthi Islamic scholar Dr. Ahmad Al-Shami said that the “scam” of 9/11 was a “theatrical show produced by the Jews and the Americans.” He said that the Americans decided to kill “a group of their own people” in order to create a pretext to occupy and destroy Arab and Islamic countries. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria’s president named Finance Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane as prime minister on Wednesday and asked him to form a new government. – Reuters

The German Foreign Minister on Wednesday urged the international community to increase its engagement in Yemen to avoid a further deterioration of the “humanitarian disaster that we are already in”. – Iran International

Tal Schneider writes: Their ambition is to reach some sort of framework agreement by then and set the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released as part of a potential prisoners swap deal, while whittling down Hamas’ unrealistic numbers. In addition, the Egyptians together with the Israelis will have to find a way to show the Americans that such a move won’t further undermine the credibility of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and embolden Hamas politically. – Times of Israel

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Thursday he’ll push to further upgrade relations with China, his main ally, as he struggles to navigate his country out of a deepening crisis linked to the pandemic. – Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un berated top officials for failures in coronavirus prevention that caused a “great crisis,” using strong language that raised the specter of a mass outbreak in a country that would be scarcely able to handle it. – Associated Press

Eli Fuhrman writes: Regardless, the connection between Ukraine and the North Korean ballistic missile program reveals both how North Korea was able to so quickly advance its long-range missile capabilities and the lengths to which the country will go in order to do so, as well as the degree of difficulty associated with preventing advances in North Korea’s missile program. – The National Interest 

Gilbert Rozman writes: Telling about China’s logic is the response of writers to Moon’s diplomacy in 2018-2019 with Kim Jong-un, disparaging the bypassing of China while separately advancing an alternative path forward to Kim shrouded in mystery. Finally, there have been recent hints of linkage between Taiwan and North Korea, implying that as Beijing applies more pressure on Taiwan and the U.S. counters with more support, Beijing will do more to support Pyongyang as it further reveals its Korean agenda. – The National Interest

Denny Roy writes: Beijing is a partner only to the extent that it supports negotiations to lower tensions on the Korean Peninsula.  In order to get those negotiations, the Chinese government favors accommodating Pyongyang’s demands for unequal concessions.  More broadly, Beijing holds a vision for the region, including North Korea’s place within it, that is in various ways at odds with US, South Korean, and Japanese objectives. – The National Interest


Chinese leader Xi Jinping marked his ruling Communist Party’s 100th anniversary with rousing appeals for national unity and defiance against foreign pressure, a rallying cry for one-party rule aimed at reinforcing his authority for years to come. – Wall Street Journal 

China’s Communist Party turns a century old this July, a milestone that Beijing is celebrating with a crescendo of fireworks, theatrics and a fervent campaign to honor its revolutionary past. – Wall Street Journal

As the party celebrates the 100th anniversary of its 1921 founding, training centers such as the one in Jinggangshan play a key role in efforts by President Xi Jinping’s government to extend its control over a changing society. – Associated Press 

Marking the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control, a top city official defended the national security law imposed by Beijing to crush pro-democracy rallies and said Thursday it would be used further in the coming year to ensure stability. – Associated Press

Hong Kong police re-arrested pro-democracy activist Chow Hang-tung after revoking her bail on Wednesday, on the eve of the anniversaries of the former British colony’s handover to Beijing and the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party. – Reuters

Republican and Democratic members of foreign affairs panels in both houses of Congress expressed renewed concern to President Joe Biden over what they called China’s “ceaseless assault” on democracy in Hong Kong. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Lacking democratic legitimacy, the Party maintains power with a mix of nationalism and economic prosperity. China’s rise to become the world’s second largest economy, thanks to an open world trading system, has lifted hundreds of millions from poverty and is understandably a source of national pride. So is China’s growing role on the world stage. Party propaganda these days stresses China’s return to its rightful place in world affairs after centuries of alleged exploitation by foreigners. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The answer to an arms race is arms control. If successful, it can slow the pace and bring needed verification. The administration has said it is committed to such talks with China. So far the regime of President Xi Jinping has shown little interest. But that is not a reason to give up. The signs of an accelerating competition are clear, and talks at the outset could encompass nuclear crisis management, new-generation weapons such as hypersonic gliders and anti-satellite weapons, as well as thorny older issues like missile defenses and nuclear testing. – Washington Post

Editorial: The US and European powers should celebrate China’s endeavours but recall that its achievements have been built on a political edifice that suffered catastrophic reversals in the not-so-distant past. Their wisest approach is no longer the hopeful and largely uncritical engagement of the early reform decades, but a blended policy of limited economic engagement, resistance against CCP influence campaigns and hard-headed strategic preparedness. – Financial Times

Maggie Shum writes: The NSL’s grip extends beyond Hong Kong’s key institutions. The government also has used the law to reshape the city’s civil service, education sector, and film and art industries. An upcoming “fake news” bill will further muzzle dissent and restrict free speech. With autocratic institutions in place, Beijing is incrementally nudging Hong Kong toward full compliance with China’s authoritarian governance. – Washington Post 

Joseph Bosco writes: If it is more reflective of Biden administration thinking than the views of the present and previous Indo-Pacific commanders, and if the Biden defense budget does not measure up to China’s military challenge, the commitments Blinken affirmed will continue to be clouded with doubt — most importantly in the minds of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his colleagues. – The Hill  

Diana Choyleva writes: China is now striving to capitalise on a reputation for innovation in payments to carve out a sphere of currency influence, defined not by common interests or political culture but by shared infrastructure and technical standards. While interests can change, the hard wiring of digital and economic connectivity is far harder to break once established. And it is China that enjoys first-mover advantage. – Financial Times


Now, as Taliban forces press hard for a military victory and U.S. forces withdraw, Hazara leaders fear their lightly policed communities will be especially vulnerable to extremist vengeance. – Washington Post

Most European troops have already pulled out of Afghanistan, quietly withdrawing months before the U.S.-led mission was officially expected to end — part of an anticlimactic close to the “forever war” that risks leaving the country on the brink of civil war. – Associated Press

Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer write: The Biden administration is mapping out a strategy for Afghanistan after the U.S. military completes its withdrawal that is centered around the boosting of economic support for the government, even as many Afghans are “increasingly skeptical” of the government’s competence, according to an internal State Department document submitted to Congress and newly obtained by Foreign Policy. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

But now that the military, the Tatmadaw, has overthrown Myanmar’s civilian government, current and former American officials and human rights activists are demanding that President Biden do what the Trump administration would not: Formally hold the country’s military accountable for genocide and compel international protection of the Rohingya. – New York Times

Myanmar freed more than 2,000 detainees on Wednesday, among them journalists and others who the ruling military said had been held on incitement charges for taking part in protests, local media reported. – Reuters

Myanmar’s military authorities threatened on Wednesday to take legal action against foreign news organisations that describe them as a junta and their seizure of power in February as a coup d’etat. – Reuters

India’s technology minister said on Wednesday that U.S. social media giants must obey the laws of his country, where they are doing brisk business. – Reuters


The U.S. and Taiwan revived dormant trade and investment talks and pledged to keep supply chains free from forced labor, in a dig at China, which has objected to the negotiations. – Wall Street Journal

The Philippine coast guard held a graduation ceremony on Friday for a new unit of 81 female radio operators dubbed the “Angels of the Sea,” who will be tasked with carefully confronting the rising number of Chinese ships that have strayed into the exclusive economic zones of China’s neighbors in what analysts see as an attempt by Beijing to assert legally unrecognized claims to those waters. – Washington Post

Australia’s competition watchdog said on Thursday it issued draft proposals to authorise regional newspaper industry group, Country Press Australia, to negotiate with Google and Facebook for payments for news content on their platforms. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department will downgrade Malaysia to the lowest ranking in its closely watched annual report on human trafficking to be released later on Thursday, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

Russia and China are coordinating military exercises to threaten not only Taiwan but also Hawaii, according to a senior Japanese defense official who warned the United States to beware of a Pearl Harbor-style surprise attack. – Washington Examiner

The US and Japan have been conducting war games and joint military exercises in the event of a conflict with China over Taiwan, amid escalating concerns over the Chinese military’s assertive activity. – Financial Times


Russian President Vladimir Putin challenged U.S. leadership in world affairs on Wednesday, arguing that an era of U.S. hegemony has come to an end as he touted Moscow’s growing military strength and increasingly assertive foreign policy. – Wall Street Journal 

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia could have sunk a British warship that it accused of illegally entering its territorial waters without starting World War Three and accused Washington of a role in the “provocation”. – Reuters

Guatemalan Health Minister Amelia Flores clarified on Wednesday she was not yet requesting a refund from Russia after delayed deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 and that both countries were still negotiating. – Reuters

A televised phone-in with Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday was targeted by “powerful” cyberattacks, the state-run Rossiya 24 network which broadcast the event said. – Agence France-Presse

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday accused Western social media platforms of ignoring Russian authorities’ requests to delete illegal content, but stressed the country had no plans to block their work. – Agence France-Presse

Galvanized by the results of recent American polls and the popularity of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Fox News and its audiences, the Kremlin is proceeding with a new charm offensive targeting Western conservatives. – The Daily Beast

Tom Rogan writes: Contrary to reporting that Russian has withdrawn recently massed military forces from Ukraine’s borders, Putin’s ground forces retain a significant operational presence within a short drive of Ukraine. […]Deeply frustrated by Ukraine’s refusal to subject itself to a political settlement on Russian terms, Putin has the motive to use force to cajole Kyiv’s acquiescence. And however fallacious it may be, Putin’s referencing of a NATO buildup gives him the domestic casus belli to take action. It fits the narrative of NATO as an offensive alliance. A narrative that carries weight, especially among the Kremlin security elite. – Washington Examiner


A United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague handed down Wednesday its first-ever conviction of top former Serbian officials for crimes committed in Bosnia during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. – Washington Post

 Britain and the European Union have called a truce in the “sausage wars.” But far from being settled, this bitter dispute over breakfast links raises vexing questions about the future of Northern Ireland. – New York Times

The European Union’s executive is considering legal action against Poland over “LGBT-free” zones set up by some local authorities there, two officials told Reuters. – Reuters

EU sanctions designed to punish veteran Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko for a sweeping political crackdown will leave him largely unscathed and able to continue financing the economy and his security forces, rating agencies and analysts say. – Reuters

Russian warships have carried out a live fire training exercise in the Black Sea, the country’s Black Sea fleet said on Thursday, as Ukraine and NATO countries held military drills in the same wider area. – Reuters

Britain’s HMS Defender warship acted in accordance with international law and was conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Poland is evading responsibility for its own historic wrongs by making it more difficult for Holocaust victims and their families to recover property confiscated by the Communists after World War II, according to the World Jewish Restitution Organization. Draft legislation that sets time limits for suing Poland over issues including property claims has drawn harsh criticism from the U.S. and Israel. – Bloomberg

Slovenia’s president rejected in an interview Wednesday that the increasingly autocratic policies of the country’s prime minister could hurt its upcoming European Union presidency, saying the small Alpine state will stay on its traditional liberal course. – Associated Press

In the six months since becoming Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi has achieved what eluded almost all of his predecessors: the rest of Europe has started to listen. […]Yet analysts and observers say one Gordian Knot that has troubled a long list of Italian prime ministers is shaping up as the biggest test of Draghi’s ability to influence EU policy: migration. – Financial Times

EU member states are pushing the European Commission to consider taking legal action against the UK if it does not provide better guarantees to citizens of the bloc living in the country since before Brexit. – Financial Times

Philip Stephens writes: Most obviously, the UK must keep its word and stop trying to renege on the Northern Ireland protocol. And if Johnson’s government wants to deepen bilateral ties, it must be prepared to work with the EU’s institutions. […]Its erstwhile partners have more pressing things on their minds than their relationship with a “third country”. Brexiters talk about a German threat. Well, there is one. It goes by the name of indifference. – Financial Times

Dalibor Rohac writes: It is a sad testament to the priorities of Western Europe’s political class that it took a petty piece of domestic legislation, and not the long list of Budapest’s previous transgressions[…]to finally stand up to Orbán. Of course, the United States shares many of those concerns, particularly over Beijing’s rising influence in the region. Yet U.S. leverage over Orbán is limited, especially in comparison to that of European institutions. If the EU’s leadership cannot stop itself from embarking on a pointless progressive crusade, the Biden administration is doing a service to the cause of European democracy by keeping its powder dry. – The Bulwark

Wess Mitchell writes: Is the U.S.-British relationship still a priority? Biden seemed to say as much when he arrived in Britain last week. But his administration’s actions suggest otherwise. Talks on a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement have been shelved. And while the administration says it is neutral on Britain’s dispute with the EU over Northern Ireland, its pressure appears to be directed only at London. The administration recently announced it was preparing retaliatory tariffs against the U.K. (plus Austria, Spain, and Italy) for a new digital tax—the very sort of retaliation that Biden criticized Trump for. – Foreign Policy

James Lamond writes: The bottom line is that next year’s French election will be an incredibly important political event. It will be hard-fought on all sides and the stakes are quite high for France, Europe, and the world. Given this, we should be cautious about making any assumptions about what might happen. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Tensions between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in Addis Ababa and leaders from the country’s northern Tigray region entered a new phase this week, as rebels seized Mekele, the regional capital, and government forces fled. – Washington Post

In his first comments since Ethiopia suddenly ended its military operation in the northern region of Tigray, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that his army units had been ambushed and “massacred” while passing through villages, but that any claims that his military had been defeated were “a lie.” – New York Times

Britain urged all parties to pull back from the violence in Tigray and allow humanitarian workers access to the area on Thursday, after the Ethiopian government declared a unilateral ceasefire earlier this week. – Reuters

The majority ruling by South Africa’s top court, sentencing Jacob Zuma to 15 months in jail, was an “emotional and angry” unconstitutional decision, the former president’s foundation said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Sudan received approval from the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday for relief on more than $56 billion in debt and new IMF funding of $2.5 billion over three years. – Reuters

Burkina Faso’s president Roch Kabore has taken over the role of defence minister in a cabinet reshuffle aimed at stopping a wave of jihadist attacks that has plagued the West Africa country in recent years, according to a presidential decree on Wednesday. – Reuters

South Africa’s top court on Thursday re-affirmed an earlier ruling that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not deliberately mislead lawmakers about donations to his 2017 campaign to lead the ruling party. – Reuters

Ethiopia’s government on Wednesday said its military could re-enter the capital of its embattled Tigray region within weeks, calling into question the unilateral cease-fire it declared in Tigray just days ago. – Associated Press

The World Bank and a trio of western government agencies announced a financing package for production of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in South Africa, part of an effort to scale global production and meet demand for billions of doses. – Bloomberg

A Nigerian leading a movement calling for the secession of part of southeast Nigeria has been arrested and is to stand trial in the capital, Abuja, authorities said. – Associated Press

Former Liberian rebel General Butt Naked, notorious for sacrificing children and charging into battle in the nude, now spends his time trying to rescue ex-child soldiers from drugs. – Agence France-Presse

The Americas

A top U.S. diplomat said on Wednesday that she hoped El Salvador and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will complete a financing agreement following the country’s dramatic move to make bitcoin a legal tender. – Reuters

The United States on Wednesday condemned what it described as a systematic violation of human rights, fundamental freedoms and attacks on the press in Haiti, urging the government to counter a proliferation of gangs and violence. – Reuters

Hal Brands writes: Regardless of what happens in Nicaragua or any other country, the crisis of democracy in the Western Hemisphere will persist, because it is being propelled by strong internal forces as well as changing geopolitical winds. Latin America’s post-Cold War moment is over, in no small part because America’s unipolar moment is over as well. – Bloomberg

North America

The House voted Wednesday to form a select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, with nearly all Republicans opposing the legislation — a sign of the political challenges that face Democrats as they attempt to probe why thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters swarmed the building and tried to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. – Washington Post

Molly M. Flanagan writes: Ultimately, unwavering commitments from both the U.S. and Canada to address ballast water impacts are necessary if we hope to have any success in keeping harmful invasive species at bay and ensuring the vitality of the Great Lakes for future generations. The U.S. has a long history of binational cooperation with Canada when it comes to protecting the Great Lakes. Canada has held up its end of the bargain; now it’s time for the U.S. EPA to do the same. – The Hill

Nikki Haley writes: On the whole, the Biden administration has made it significantly harder for the United States to advance the cause of security, prosperity, peace and personal freedom. It has done so in the name of making friends and showing that we’re a “team player.” Yet the U.S. doesn’t have to prove anything at the UN. […]If the Biden administration wants to make the most of the United Nations, it should adopt an approach that actually works. Make progress where we can, walk away when we can’t and hold the line when we must. – Newsweek


The use of facial recognition technology is widespread throughout the federal government, and many agencies do not even know which systems they are using. That needs to change, the federal government’s main watchdog said in a new report. – Washington Post

Amazon moved to bar the head of the Federal Trade Commission from overseeing antitrust matters regarding the e-commerce giant, citing her long-running criticism of the company. – Washington Post

An Israeli private detective detained in New York since 2019 on charges of involvement in a hacker-for-hire scheme wants a plea deal, according to a letter filed in court by his lawyer. – Reuters

For the last several years, FBI agents debated turning the tables on hackers by remotely accessing breached computer networks and booting out the attackers caught in mid-hack. They got their chance earlier this year after state-backed Chinese hackers compromised thousands of private Microsoft Exchange email servers. – Bloomberg

Colombian officials say they have arrested a Romanian hacker who is wanted in the U.S. for distributing a virus that infected more than a million computers from 2007 to 2012. – Associated Press

Germany’s data protection commissioner has called for all government bodies to remove their Facebook pages by the end of the year, arguing that the social media giant failed to comply with German and European privacy laws. – Financial Times

Tatyana Bolton and Bryson Bort write: The recent block of Easterly’s confirmation and the Colonial Pipeline and SolarWinds hacks prove that we need a strong, independent, depoliticized agency to advocate for this critical segment of national security, not an under-resourced, young bureaucratic organization buried in DHS. CISA needs freedom to grow and develop into the internationally recognized center of excellence it should be. America deserves nothing less. – The Hill


The Air Force conducted a second flight test of the robot pilot known as Skyborg, which autonomously flew a General Atomics MQ-20 Avenger drone June 24. – Defense News

Virgin Orbit successfully delivered four U.S. military satellites to low Earth orbit on June 30 as part of the company’s second successful launch of the LauncherOne rocket. – C4ISRNET

The military and intelligence services are working closer together to share data and capabilities in order to stay ahead of pacing threats, but work remains. – C4ISRNET

While the Navy is focused on readiness to prevent the pitfalls of an overworked and untrained force, it must also manage the need for modernization with maintaining the current fleet, the service’s top officer said today. – USNI News

Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is changing homeports from San Diego, Calif., to Bremerton, Wash., for an overdue dry-dock maintenance period after back-to-back deployments to the Western Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced on Tuesday. – USNI News

The integration of Navy SEALs and special boat teams into carrier strike group and amphibious ready group training exercises reflects naval special warfare’s renewed commitment to support the fleet and joint force and reinforce its own roots as naval commandos, said the top Navy SEAL on Tuesday. – USNI News

Charges have been dropped against six former employees of a U.S. government contractor, who were accused of endangering U.S. troops and military operations in Afghanistan by hiring unqualified linguists to work alongside them. – Military.com

Tate Nurkin writes: Using directed energy to interdict cruise missiles will require scaling up the power generated by these weapons while still managing the sensitive issues of size and weight. And here there has been progress and potential as the Department of Defense advances a program to develop a 300-kilowatt laser by 2022. Building on these types of efforts is crucial if the Army and the DoD more broadly hope to create a truly sustainable and enduring solution to the complex, diverse and dynamic air and missile defense challenge to U.S. bases. – Defense News

Benjamin Schmitt writes: But perhaps the writers won’t need to do as much imagining for their next seasons since the geopolitical, technical, and commercial dynamics that are developing worldwide appear set to usher in a new, faster-moving, and more complex off-planet environment.  The next decade may indeed make the U.S.-Soviet space race of the Cold War-era look elementary in comparison. – Center for European Policy Analysis