Fdd's overnight brief

July 11, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine’s defense minister said his country has “passed the test” with its successful use of recently delivered American long-range artillery systems, but stressed the high attrition rate along its extensive front line has made the demand for additional supplies, such as armored vehicles and drones, more urgent. – Wall Street Journal

He was like a skunk at the tropical resort party, shunned by many, though by no means all. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, attended a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of 20 industrialized nations in Bali on Friday, despite his country’s pariah status in Europe and elsewhere over its brutal war in Ukraine. – New York Times

To make up the manpower shortfall, the Kremlin is relying on a combination of impoverished ethnic minorities, Ukrainians from the separatist territories, mercenaries and militarized National Guard units to fight the war, and promising hefty cash incentives for volunteers. – New York Times

The family and friends of a U.S. military veteran who went missing in Ukraine have accused the Biden administration of inaction, saying any hope for finding him alive hinges on diplomacy between Washington and Moscow but that so far the government’s efforts are lacking. – Washington Post

In the nearly five months since Russia invaded Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has maintained the same posture toward Moscow: Do not engage. The top U.S. diplomat has not held a single meeting or phone call with a senior Russian official throughout the conflict — a cold-shoulder strategy he continued over the weekend at a gathering of foreign ministers of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Indonesia, where his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, was sometimes in the same room with him. – Washington Post

The United States will send Ukraine an additional $400 million in military assistance heavily focused on high-precision long-range weapons, the Pentagon said Friday. – Washington Post

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday that Russian forces were conducting “brutal” strikes in residential areas as part of Moscow’s campaign to capture the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east. – The Hill

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry alleged that Ukrainian-born Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) is “​​trying to earn extra political capital” after she sent a letter to President Biden regarding the head of the office of the president of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak. – The Hill

President Joe Biden praised the Central Intelligence Agency’s efforts to expose Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine, telling the staff that they had “punched a gigantic hole” in President Vladimir Putin’s objectives. – Bloomberg

The Department of Defense does not believe allocating more than $7 billion worth of military equipment to Ukraine in recent months will hurt the United States’s ability to defend itself. – Washington Examiner

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister on Sunday urged civilians in the Russian-occupied southern region of Kherson to urgently evacuate as Ukraine’s armed forces were preparing a counter-attack there. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that he had dismissed several of Kyiv’s senior envoys abroad, including the country’s outspoken ambassador to Germany. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Friday that continued sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine risked triggering catastrophic energy price rises for consumers around the world. – Reuters

The Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, on Friday barred British diplomats, including the ambassador, from entering its building. – Reuters

The first cohort of Ukrainian soldiers, many of whom have no previous military experience, have arrived in the U.K. for combat training as the eastern European nation races to replace troops killed and wounded in the war against Russia. – Associated Press

Ukraine does not have a need for Iron Dome, the country’s defense minister said on Saturday, in a sharp break from comments previously made by Kyiv’s ambassador to Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: The other reason to bolster Ukraine’s capabilities, urgently and substantially, is that Kyiv’s forces must be given a fair shot at counterattacking after the Russian offensive punches itself out, which it might already be doing. Ukraine’s army is pushing toward Russian-held territory in the southwest, near the strategic city of Kherson, and there is hope that it may yet be recaptured. The decision to negotiate an end to the war is, as Mr. Biden has repeatedly acknowledged, Ukraine’s. Enabling Ukraine to do so from a position of strength, however, is up to Washington. – Washington Post

Editorial: The U.S. must not yield to Putin’s blackmail. This is a test of resolve. The only appropriate response is to make Russia pay an escalating cost for what it is doing. The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists — it should not negotiate over Moscow’s terrorist-style activity. – Washington Examiner

Mark Kimmitt writes: But as long as Messrs. Putin and Zelensky both believe they are winning, or at least not losing, and as long as they are listening to their generals and not their diplomats, it is likely that this conflict will remain a slow, bloody and long war resembling the Western Front of 1915-18. “As long as it takes” may make the Donbas into a 21st-century Flanders field. – Wall Street Journal

Joe Lieberman and Gordon Humphrey write: The Russian people are not our enemy, as President Biden said. In fact, they can be our most effective allies against Putin. We need to reach out to them now because our fundamental values and our national security require it. – The Hill

Terry Virts writes: The costs of our partnership with Russia on the ISS are now unfortunately much higher than the few remaining benefits. I truly hope that we will someday return to cooperation in a post-Putin Russia, but for now, NASA and other partner nations must make the tough decision to begin the process of disengagement. The world is watching. – The Hill

Slawomir Debski writes: Last, but not least, it would boost Ukrainian morale by convincing Ukraine’s leadership and population that they can count on long term, unwavering support from the West. Such a decision would deprive Russia of the incentive to prolong the war with the expectation that Ukraine and the West will lose the determination to fight. It’s high time to put NATO’s lame-duck policy of the Founding Act to rest. – The Hill

Maria Snegovaya and Brian Whitmore write: Ukraine should be given all the support it needs, including offensive weapons, intelligence-sharing, and diplomatic support, to win this war—Putin’s threats of escalation notwithstanding. Sometimes, a cornered rat is just a cornered rat. And when faced with a superior and committed adversary, it will simply scurry away. – Foreign Policy


Expanding joint action to counter Iran will top the agenda during US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Israel, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Sunday, demanding sanctions against Tehran. – Agence France-Presse

Iran announced Sunday that it has begun enriching uranium up to 20% using sophisticated centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear plant, state TV reported, an escalation that comes amid a standoff with the West over its tattered atomic deal. – Associated Press

Israel has largely given up on further harming Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities, Channel 12 news reported Saturday. – Times of Israel

Iranian state media has announced the arrest of Mostafa Tajzadeh, the deputy interior minister in former President Mohammad Khatami’s government and one of the most prominent reformist figures in the Islamic republic. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iranian authorities have arrested a prominent reformist activist and two filmmakers on charges of acting against national security, local media said on Friday. – Reuters

US President Joe Biden should use his visit to the region this week to ensure that Iran knows there is a credible US military threat if it continues advancing its nuclear program, Likud MK Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Iran’s foreign ministry said Saturday that an air defense pact between Israel and Arab regional allies — formed under US leadership to counter the threat of Iran’s drones and missiles — would only increase regional tensions. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday that Israel maintains its freedom of action against Iran’s nuclear program. – Ynet

Alex Vatanka writes: Tehran does not expect that Biden’s visit will result in the creation of a Middle Eastern NATO with Iran as its key nemesis. For that to happen, a lot more regional readjustments are needed. But Biden’s visit might just initiate new practical efforts by the U.S. and its partners to challenge Iran’s regional agenda and raise the costs and risks for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, the two powerbrokers in Tehran most invested in upholding the “Axis of Resistance.” – Middle East Institute

Salem AlKetbi writes: Also clear is the need to understand the new strategic reality in the region and internationally, to develop strategies that reflect this reality, and to strengthen Gulf relations with Israel, Turkey, and other countries in the region. Preserving the delicate balance between the US and its allies on the one hand and Russia and China on the other is a crucial factor. Anything less is either in Iran’s interest or limits the Gulf states’ ability to influence events around them. – Arutz Sheva

Saied Golkar and Kasra Aarabi write: The sudden removal of the hard-line Islamist cleric Hossein Taeb from his position atop the intelligence arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) two weeks ago came as a shock to all. Few insiders in Iran’s clerical regime are privy to the country’s top secrets, and even fewer have constant direct access to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but Taeb—a close confidant of the supreme leader’s son Mojtaba Khamenei—was one of them. – Foreign Policy

Ali Bakir and Eyup Ersoy write: It is noteworthy that while Iran tends to blame other countries for its own behavior, Turkey-Saudi Arabia relations have been greatly influenced by Iran’s policies in the Middle East, and influence them as well. Shared Turkish-Saudi concerns about Iranian interference in regional policies and perceived Iranian intransigence to accommodate their interests are one leading cause of the reconciliation between the two regional powers. Therefore, the future of Turkish-Saudi relations will be highly dependent on the choices of the Iranian leadership. – The National Interest


Russia vetoed a measure on Friday that would have allowed the last U.N. aid route into Syria to remain open for another year, in a vote that diplomats and critics said endangered the lives of millions of people already suffering after more than a decade of war. – New York Times

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on Friday visited the former rebel bastion of Aleppo, including its historic Old City, for the first time since war broke out 11 years ago. – Agence France-Presse

Unshackled by pandemic restrictions, travel influencers are flocking to Syria in record numbers this year, giving fans a rare insight into the war-torn country. But those creators have at the same time been criticized for normalizing the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad, with activists saying they often, inadvertently or otherwise, parrot the government’s narrative of the civil war. – Business Insider

Alexander Langlois writes: Ultimately, given the humanitarian situation in Syria, providing some concessions on reconstruction in exchange for continued cross-border mechanisms makes sense, even if it is a tough pill for many to swallow. Still, most signs point to the cross-border operation shutting down today, as many in Washington—particularly Congress—reject such concessions. If the Iran nuclear talks are any indication of Congress’ indefatigable hawkishness and Biden’s disinterest in taking foreign policy risks that harm congressional alliances, cross-border aid is likely finished, barring bold decision-making at the UNSC. – The National Interest


Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone on Sunday, as relations between Jerusalem and Ankara continued to improve. – Jerusalem Post

Turkish media published on Sunday new images of one of the Iranian death squads that tried to assassinate Israeli tourists in Istanbul last month before being stopped by intelligence services. – Ynet

Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh el-Sissi on Sunday evening, the Israeli premier’s office said, reflecting the warming ties between Jerusalem and its neighbors. – Times of Israel

Jonathan Spyer writes: Hedging between Ankara and Athens is likely to prove impracticable. The Turkish president’s volatile record, the deep-rooted Islamist outlook that has informed his politics throughout, and the continued domiciling and activities of Hamas on Turkish soil will presumably feature in Israeli considerations. Inertia, tactical improvisation, or an attempt as the Hebrew phrase has it to “dance at all the weddings” are unlikely to prove effective. Hard choices lie ahead for Israel. – Jerusalem Post


The family of slain Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has accused the United States of providing impunity for Israel over her killing and asked to meet President Joe Biden in person during his trip to Israel next week. – Reuters

The United States confirmed on Friday that leaders from Palestine and Israel held their first phone call in five years. – The Hill

Prime Minister Yair Lapid told Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Sunday that he instructed his office to look into reports that the bodies of dozens of Egyptian commandos who fought Israel during the Six-Day War are buried in a mass grave in central Israel. – Times of Israel

Israel’s security establishment reportedly warned the political echelon that failure to advance steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority ahead of US President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel will place Ramallah’s security coordination at risk. – Times of Israel

Any agreement on Gaza must include the return of the two Israeli citizen captives and the bodies of the two fallen soldiers, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday at a state ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl military cemetery to mark the eighth anniversary of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. – Jerusalem Post

Israel can expect President Joe Biden to demand major concessions from Israel during his visit to the Middle East this week, a senior Republican Party official in Israel said, warning that Biden’s demands could be even greater than those made by Barack Obama. – Arutz Sheva

Israel has already done an eye-watering $3 billion in defense business with its new Arab partners in the region, but industry sources here said that’s just the tip of the iceberg. – Breaking Defense

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called on residents of the Gaza Strip to pressure the Hamas terrorist organization to cease its attacks on Israel, in exchange for economic growth in the coastal enclave. – Arutz Sheva

Overnight, IDF, ISA and Israel Border Police forces conducted counterterrorism activities in a number of locations in Judea and Samaria, including in the towns of Hizma, Danva, Dura and Tamun. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: Promoting a diplomatic process with the Palestinians should not be linked to the Iranian issue. Furthering relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel is a positive move that would help hinder Iran’s race for nuclear weapons and capability, and create a more peaceful, prosperous and stable region. This should not be held up by Palestinian demands. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: While some pro-Israel supporters will shudder at a seeming comparison he made between the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and that in Israel and the West Bank, Biden’s raising this is a product of politics within his party. Biden is flying abroad, but his eye will be peeled on his party, and certain messages he sends from Israel – just as certain lines he wrote in The Washington Post op-ed – will be tailored toward very specific domestic audiences. – Jerusalem Post

Hananya Naftali writes: Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once famously said: “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” But in fact, Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders and radicals do. […]The world doesn’t know the truth about Israel, but the Palestinians know it very well. Otherwise, they wouldn’t seek help from the Israelis when they need it. They know the truth – but are too afraid to speak it because of the radicals in their society. – Jerusalem Post

Ghaith al-Omari writes: In short, for both the White House and the PA, President Biden’s visit to Bethlehem is more about symbolism and optics than diplomatic objectives. The meeting itself is the objective, and the more uneventful it is, the more it will be deemed a success. – Washington Institute

David Makovsky writes: Biden will obviously stay far away from any explicit endorsement for Lapid’s election, in order to avert political backlash along the Netanyahu lines. Yet, Biden’s appeal will likely be clear, if subtle, in demonstrating that the two can work together because they are like-minded. That may be enough to signal to the Israeli public that good ties can extend beyond November. – Times of Israel

Danny Danon writes: I call on Lapid today to refrain from political concessions for what is essentially a photo-op with the president of the United States. Lapid, you have no mandate to relinquish Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

Biden’s talks with Middle Eastern leaders this week will offer a vivid demonstration of the competing considerations between that pledge and what officials describe as an existential “great power” contest — most starkly in the president’s encounter with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the U.S. government blamed for the brutal 2018 killing of journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi. – Washington Post

The Biden administration is discussing the possible lifting of its ban on U.S. sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, but any final decision is expected to hinge on whether Riyadh makes progress toward ending the war in neighboring Yemen, according to four people familiar with the matter. – Reuters

Israel’s prime minister expressed hope Sunday that his country will establish formal diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, days before President Joe Biden visits the two countries as part of a regional trip. – Associated Press

Joe Biden makes his first trip to the Middle East as president this week as the crisis in global oil markets pushes him to reset relations with Saudi Arabia, a country he once threatened to make a pariah state. – Financial Times

Even if Joe Biden secures a pledge for more oil when he visits Saudi Arabia this week, it may do little to drive down the high fuel prices roiling the global economy. – Bloomberg

Joe Biden writes: These are promising trends, which the United States can strengthen in a way no other country can. My travel next week will serve that purpose. Throughout my journey, I’ll have in mind the millions of Americans who served in the region, including my son Beau, and the 7,054 who died in conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. Next week, I will be the first president to visit the Middle East since 9/11 without U.S. troops engaged in a combat mission there. It’s my aim to keep it that way. – Washington Post

Paul C. Atkinson writes: The global energy crunch means the oil for security bargain is again in play. If President Biden again believes “the defense of Saudi Arabia vital to the defense of the United States”, it may take a performance worthy of FDR to convey that message to his hosts in Jeddah. – The Hill

Lazar Berman writes: The demand for an immediate alternative supply to Russian fossil fuels pushed Biden to re-engage with the Saudis. The need for a stable, pro-American alliance in a region it does not want to be sucked back into has turned the White House into an energetic advocate of building on the Abraham Accords, pushing for a closer Saudi-Israel relationship even without a substantial quid pro quo from Israel on the Palestinians. And the Biden administration is set to form the backbone of the regional air defense framework that integrates Israeli and Gulf systems with US satellites. – Times of Israel

Simon Henderson writes: MbS appeared to relish the pictures of his meetings during his recent trip to Turkey, Jordan and Egypt. The White House is probably focused on getting such visuals just right. But, first of all, President Biden has to actually arrive in the Middle East. With the worsening situation in Ukraine demanding his attention, and domestic issues bubbling at home, there are potentially rival priorities to such a trip emerging. – Washington Institute

Marc Schneier writes: I have no doubt that when Saudi Arabia reaches out its hand toward Israel, the friendship will be deep and sustainable. For it will be built on a foundation of trust between Saudi and Israeli leaders, and faith and warmth among the Saudi and Israeli people. – Jerusalem Post

Josh Hammer writes: Joe Biden, floundering like a fish out of water and doddering in his palpable senility, faces historically low job approval ratings. His party is set for a veritable drubbing this fall. But on the issue of Saudi Arabia, Biden’s recent about-face is uncharacteristically sober and cogent. All Americans should wish him well as he embarks for Riyadh on this attempted rapprochement with a key strategic ally. – Newsweek

Middle East & North Africa

The family of one of Egypt’s most prominent pro-democracy activists is calling on Western leaders to help secure his release from prison, where he has been on hunger strike for 100 days, as President Biden prepares to visit the Middle East next week. – Wall Street Journal

When President Biden arrives in the Middle East this week, on his first visit as American head of state, he will find a region where alliances, priorities and relations with the United States have shifted significantly since his last official trip, six years ago. – New York Times

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied published on Friday in the official gazette a new draft of the proposed constitution that included minor amendments and did not affect his power. – Reuters

Saudi political dissident Manea al-Yami was killed in Lebanon, the Saudi opposition National Assembly Party (NAAS) and a Lebanese security source said on Sunday. – Reuters

The family of an Israel-American girl killed in a 2001 Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem is seeking a meeting with President Joe Biden in hopes of forcing Jordan to extradite a woman convicted in the deadly attack. – Associated Press

US President Joe Biden is expected to visit Israel later this week, for the first time since taking office on January 2021. On Thursday, he will participate in a virtual summit called “I2U2,” which includes the leaders of Israel, India, the US and the UAE. – Jerusalem Post

David Singer writes: Two States – Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine – not three states – is the Saudi key that can finally bring peace to the Middle East. – Arutz Sheva

Farhad Rezaei writes: The United States has vital interests in the Middle East. A void created because of the U.S. pivot to Europe and Asia needs to be filled by a new regional alliance. Washington officials understand this well and have worked hard to push for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel. It has been reported that the Americans have sponsored a meeting of senior defense officials from Israel and Saudi Arabia in Egypt. It is expected that during his visit, Biden will discuss the “vision for integrated missile defense and naval defense.” A formal Middle East NATO” should not be too far behind. – The National Interest

Jason Li writes: A key success metric of Biden’s Middle East trip will be how well he dispels two perceived dichotomies in the United States Regional approach: that a U.S. shift to the Indo-Pacific will come at the expense of its Middle Eastern partners, and that U.S. partners are required to subscribe entirely to Washington’s policies towards China. For the sake of the United States’ Middle East policy, the validity and contours of each dichotomy must be clearly conveyed during Biden’s trip. Otherwise the United States will fall victim to trading one region for another. – The National Interest

Robert Uniacke writes: When Wagner Group operative Vladimir Andonov, callsign “Vakha,” was killed fighting in eastern Ukraine in early June, a Ukrainian soldier unknowingly put an end to a string of war crimes stretching to Libya. The Wagner Group is a network of mercenaries operating under the rubric of a Russian private military contractor; as a participant in the Kremlin’s indirect military adventurism from Ukraine, to Syria, to the southern outskirts of Tripoli, Libya’s capital, Andonov had been implicated in extrajudicial killings. – Foreign Policy

Ben Fishman writes: It’s time to play hardball with Haftar, which successive U.S. administrations have been loath to do. He must be told unequivocally to lift any oil facility blockades before he can be accepted in any political process. As a U.S. citizen, his assets could be blocked and a recent civil court case against him in Virginia, where is accused of torture, could be expanded. Egypt, his principal advocate, should be told that their support for Haftar is damaging U.S. interests. A word from President Biden to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi during the upcoming Saudi summit should make clear that Egypt is also responsible for getting Libya’s oil production back online. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

North Korea appeared to have conducted artillery firing drills on Sunday, South Korea said, days after the United States deployed sophisticated fighter jets to South Korea for joint training. – Associated Press

One of South Korea’s largest defence contractors is positioning itself as a significant Nato supplier in response to a “surge in demand” as European countries increase military spending during the Ukraine war. – Financial Times

Editorial: North Korea has kidnapped citizens from at least a dozen countries, and a United Nations Commission found in 2014 that some victims are still imprisoned there. The late Prime Minister did the world a service by raising international awareness of Pyongyang’s abductions and exposing the evil nature of a regime that has little regard for human life. On the day he was assassinated he was wearing his blue memory pin. – Wall Street Journal


Many businesses in China will have to seek approvals from Chinese authorities before transferring data abroad, according to rules released this week, part of a growing suite of regulations Beijing has introduced to tighten control over data in the country. – Wall Street Journal

Congress returns on Monday with Democrats aiming to revive central pieces of President Biden’s stalled economic agenda while trying to keep on track a separate, bipartisan bill targeted at boosting competitiveness with China that top Republicans are threatening to block. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday the United States expects President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will have the opportunity to speak in the weeks ahead. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday there was no substitute for face-to-face diplomacy at the start of a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the resort island of Bali. – Reuters

China hopes relations with Canada can get back on track, China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday, citing its minister telling his Canadian counterpart, after several years of strained relations between them. – Reuters

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi warned on Monday during a policy speech in the Indonesian capital that countries should avoid being used as “chess pieces” by major powers in a region at risk of being reshaped by geopolitical factors. – Reuters

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged his Australian counterpart Penny Wong to treat China as a partner, not an opponent, and to accumulate “postive energy” to improve ties between the two countries. – Reuters

FBI director Christopher Wray often uses US speeches and congressional testimony to warn about Chinese espionage, but in a rare move last week he took his message to London to raise global awareness of the threat. – Financial Times

Robert Holleyman writes: In a matter of months, we will know whether the Biden administration’s gamble pays off. Sept. 30 is the deadline for the Senate to pass a reconciliation bill that includes clean energy funding and solar manufacturing tax incentives. But whatever happens, one thing is clear: The White House and Congress cannot perpetuate America’s dependency on Chinese imports at the cost of American jobs and renewable-energy security.  - New York Times

Shirley Ze Yu writes: Viewed from the developing world, the world’s seven most advanced nations are perhaps making a policy mistake. Conditioning G7 infrastructure financing on democracy will create a supersized China that is more empowered in the developing world, defeating the very grand strategy the G7 has set out to accomplish. – The National Interest

Caleb Larson writes: However, recent Chinese weaponry advances—including a test last year in which a hypersonic body traveled around the globe—laid out in stark terms how challenging it could be for NORAD to defend against threats that do not come from the far north. Readjusting the number of assets in the United States and Canada to respond to threats coming from other directions could prove to be a colossal undertaking—but it’s one that could prove necessary in the era of great power competition. – The National Interest

South Asia

Uncertainty over Lanka’s leadership set in on Sunday as protesters continued to occupy the president’s residence a day after they stormed it, and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s whereabouts remained unknown. – Wall Street Journal

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose family has dominated the country’s politics for much of the past two decades, has agreed to resign, the parliament’s speaker said, after antigovernment protesters stormed and occupied the president’s residence and office. – Wall Street Journal

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the United States and its allies have leaned on countries to buy less Russian oil in a bid to punish Moscow for its aggression. Indian refiners have done the opposite, snapping up more Russian crude while the government explores ways to protect domestic oil firms from punishment should they fall foul of sanctions.- Reuters

Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain exports may have contributed to Sri Lanka’s turmoil, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, voicing concern that it could lead to other crises elsewhere in the world. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Friday condemning rights violations against women and girls in Afghanistan, urging the ruling Taliban to end restrictive practices described as making them “invisible” in society. – Reuters

Ruchi Kumar writes: When the Afghan government collapsed last Aug. 15, Sardar, a 38-year-old Afghan major, could not believe that the institution he gave 12 years of his life to collapsed like a deck of cards. He’d dodged years of threats from insurgent groups and plenty of bullets—only to watch then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fly away and leave them all to the mercy of a vengeful Taliban. – Foreign Policy

Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande write: Once Sri Lanka and Pakistan get through their current challenges, most likely with the IMF’s support, they would do well to scale back their reliance on China as a partner. Borrowing from China has proved a poor substitute for structural economic reforms recommended by western governments and institutions, which South Asian elites often tend to resent. – The Hill

Tricia Bacon and Asfandyar Mir write: India’s engagement comes as the international community needs new sources of leverage against the Taliban for a range of priorities—and if the Taliban are relatively responsive to India, that is good news. […]The United States should coordinate with India to maximize the counterterrorism benefits of India’s engagement while managing the risks of regional tensions—which could detract from the pressing Indo-Pacific security agenda. – Foreign Affairs


Two days after Japan’s former prime minister  Shinzo Abe was gunned down at a campaign stop on Friday, his Liberal Democratic Party and its allies swept to victory in a parliamentary election that gave them a chance to pursue Mr. Abe’s long-held ambition of revising Japan’s pacifist Constitution. – New York Times

The demonstrations offer a glimpse into the historical feud between Tokyo and its closest neighbors. Sympathy from foreign leaders rushed in shortly after former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot on Friday, and some of Japan’s closest international partners have announced plans to fly national flags at half-staff in the assassinated statesman’s honor. But in China and South Korea, which bore the brunt of militarist Japan’s brutality in the first half of the 20th century, the reaction was more complicated. – Washington Post

Myanmar’s junta government is installing Chinese-built cameras with facial recognition capabilities in more cities across the country, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said. – Reuters

Tensions between China and the United States, and the withdrawal of the remote Pacific island nation of Kiribati, have overshadowed the Pacific Islands Forum as leaders arrived in Fiji on Monday for the first in-person summit in three years. – Reuters

Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Friday in what the island’s government slammed as a provocation, as a senior U.S. senator visited Taipei for a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen that China condemned. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will make a previously unscheduled stop in Tokyo on Monday to offer condolences to the Japanese people after the killing of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, the State Department said on Sunday. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday urged China and members of the Southeast Asian bloc ASEAN to put pressure on Myanmar’s rulers to return to democracy and to hold it accountable to a peace deal agreed with the group. – Reuters

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has canceled her visit to the Port of Yokohama during her visit to Japan next week out of deference following the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a Treasury official said on Saturday. – Reuters

Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, said on Sunday that the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a “shock to the system.” – The Hill

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has ruled out complying with a list of demands from the Chinese government to improve relations between the two countries, complicating attempts to repair diplomatic ties between Canberra and Beijing. – Bloomberg

Editorial: But no country gets the platonic ideal of a philosopher-king for a leader. If a country is lucky, it gets an adept politician with a plan to tackle the country’s ills. Shinzo Abe was that leader for Japan, and his country and the world will miss his influence. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: To the extent that the West has prepared to defend these values as China seeks to erode them, Abe deserves significant credit. That is a legacy even his heinous murder can never overshadow. – Washington Post

Michael Austin writes: A product of Japan’s staid political elite, Abe learned to be a showman on the global stage. Behind his embrace of Western-style politicking was a commitment to reclaiming his country’s place among the leading nations so as, in his own words, “to defend freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.” It is a worthwhile legacy that he bequeaths to his country and the world. – Wall Street Journal

John R. Bolton writes: We do not yet know the motives of Abe’s assassin. He might simply be a madman. But we should not let Abe’s tragic death obscure the permanent contribution he made to his country’s progress, or his friendship toward the United States. – Washington Post

Dan Blumenthal writes: Though he was uniquely alive to the emerging authoritarian great power menace, Abe always sought out peace first. He tried to reconcile with Vladimir Putin in the hope that Japan and Russia could settle their territorial disputes. But he was quick to condemn Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and to urge Japan to support NATO in its resistance to Russia’s war. He quickly drew a parallel between Putin’s actions in Europe and China’s ambitions in Asia. Abe could see that a threat to foundational principles of order in one region could fast spread, like a contagion, to rest of the world. – American Enterprise Institute

Joshua NamTae Park writes: In November, Taiwan will have local council elections and two years later, there will be a presidential election. What if politicians running for election take an extreme position on independence to boost their popularity? It is likely that the Taiwanese will respond to the political slogan of politicians, and desire independence from China as a blueprint for a hopeful future. – The National Interest


Britain’s next prime minister will have to contend with challenges in governing the country that are arguably unequaled since at least 1979, when Margaret Thatcher took office facing galloping inflation and a battle with powerful trade unions. – Wall Street Journal

European manufacturers are preparing for possible natural-gas rationing that would force them to shut production amid fears that Russia is about to cut off gas deliveries via its main artery to Europe. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union says it is working to improve compliance with and enforcement of its six rounds of sanctions against Russia as the 27-nation bloc seeks to tighten the economic pressure on the Kremlin for its war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Treasury Department is moving to terminate its tax treaty with Hungary, ending an agreement with a country that has been resisting the global minimum tax deal pushed by the Biden administration. – Wall Street Journal

Germany’s two houses of parliament passed emergency legislation on Friday to reopen coal-fired power plants, further imperiling its plans to phase out coal by 2030 as Berlin scrambles to replace Russian gas imports quickly amid growing fears of an abrupt cutoff. – Washington Examiner

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said he wants to maintain contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin despite pressure for him to break off their friendship because of Moscow’s war in Ukraine. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: Mr. Lukashenko has increasingly sought protection from Russia and turned Belarus into a Russian air base. While Belarus troops have not entered combat in Ukraine, Belarus runways are aiding Russian forces in staging bombing and missile raids on civilian targets in Ukraine. […]The United States and the European Union should follow suit with new sanctions. Mr. Lukashenko menaces his own people, and serves as accomplice to Mr. Putin’s terrible war on Ukraine. – Washington Post

Victoria Coates writes: U.S. politicians scheming this month to spend some $300 billion additional taxpayer dollars on extreme environmentalist policies that would only further undermine America’s energy superpower status should take note and follow the EU’s lead. – Wall Street Journal

Dov S. Zakheim writes: In this regard he has established a critical standard not only for his successor but for his fellow leaders of the Western world, whose enthusiasm might wane as their economies suffer from the impact of costly fuel prices. To his great credit, Johnson has not allowed his own country’s sagging economy to stand in the way of his assisting the valiant Ukrainians. And for that he deserves the thanks of those who value liberty and freedom above all. – The Hill

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs and Timothy A. Walton write: If the US fails to convince Moscow and Vilnius that it has the resolve and ability to back the Baltic states, NATO could end up in the very situation that the Biden administration and the whole Alliance have sought to avoid: direct military confrontation with Moscow. – Royal United Services Institute

Sumantra Maitra writes: Overall, if the United States intends to maintain a detached preponderance in the European balance, finding allied powers to share even a portion of the security burden, without absolute retrenchment, is the only way forward. – The National Interest


A spokesperson for Somalia’s president said on Saturday that the government is set to consult parliament on the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, Hebrew media reported. – Times of Israel

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday that targetted the town of Lume in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the group’s news agency said in a statement on its Telegram channel on Saturday. – Reuters

E. Gyimah-Boadi writes: In the short term, however, defenders of democracy must focus on building defenses to protect civil society and the press against predatory state and political actors. […]The United States and other Western democracies have a great deal of leverage on these issues thanks to the economic and security assistance they provide to most of the region’s governments. They should use that leverage to push for accountable governance, cooperation in the fight against corruption, and more inclusive development, especially in regions where extremists have found fertile ground. – Foreign Affairs

Latin America

U.S. refiner Citgo Petroleum is willing to resume imports of Venezuelan crude, suspended since 2019 by Washington’s sanctions on its parent company PDVSA, if the U.S. government authorizes the flow, Citgo’s CEO said on Friday. – Reuters

Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves said on Friday he has ordered his ministers to launch talks to join the Pacific Alliance, a multinational pact focused on boosting trade, part of the new pro-business leader’s push for faster economic growth. – Reuters

Colombia’s leftist president-elect, Gustavo Petro, pledged on the campaign trail to end neighboring Venezuela’s isolation, normalize relations with the socialist government in Caracas, and get trade flowing. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department announced visa restrictions on Saturday against 28 Cuban officials that it said were implicated in a crackdown on largely peaceful protests in Cuba nearly one year ago. – Reuters

Christina Lopez-Gottardi writes: Add to that, the recent and unexpected death of General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Calleja – a member of Cuba’s Politburo and head of GAESA, a conglomerate of military-owned companies that manage Cuba’s economy – is bringing new instability to Cuba’s leadership circles. This July 11, President Biden should bring attention to these onerous realities. The brave activists still fighting for freedom in Cuba deserve it. – The Hill

Victoria Coates writes: Petro won’t be able to implement his radical policies, which will rely heavily on government subsidies, without support from the United States — and that should give Washington significant leverage. Assistance from America is not disinterested charity but rather should be part of a collaborative partnership that increases mutual regional security and prosperity, which could in the case of Colombia be a model for the region. If Petro insists on following Venezuela down a socialist path to disaster, the Colombian people should know this partnership will still be on offer four years from now if they choose to change course once again. – New York Post

North America

The Ukrainian government on Sunday criticized Canada’s decision to return a sanctioned Russian gas turbine to Germany, a diplomatic deal that Kyiv said would embolden Moscow to “continue to use energy as a tool of hybrid warfare against Europe.” – Washington Post

The U.S.-Mexico relationship — a straightforward tradeoff during the Trump adminstration, with Mexico tamping down on migration and the U.S. not pressing on other issues — has become a wide range of disagreements over trade, foreign policy, energy and climate change. – Associated Press

Canada will return a repaired turbine to Germany that is needed for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline and could help to ensure continued flows of energy until Europe can end its dependency on Russian gas, Canada’s minister of natural resources said. – Reuters

Canada sees the potential for some movement toward settling a longstanding dispute with the United States over softwood lumber tariffs as the cost of building materials spikes south of the border, adding to four-decade high inflation. – Reuters

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Friday she will continue to raise U.S. concerns with Mexican counterparts about Mexico’s state-centered energy policies and will consider all options to resolve those concerns. – Reuters

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday his administration would maintain its neutral stance on the Ukraine-Russia conflict after his upcoming meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. – Reuters

Canada announced additional sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday, adding 29 state-sponsored disinformation and propaganda agents and 15 entities controlled or owned by the Russian government, the foreign ministry said. – Reuters

Dov S. Zakheim writes: America does not have to be, nor should it be, the world’s gendarme. Nor should it act as a moral arbiter, and employ its forces to support putatively high-minded ideals. But it does have to be able to police its own interests and protect its people wherever they are to be found. It can no longer do so on its own, if ever it could. It needs the world as much as so many in the world still feel they need America. “First” is a relative term, it requires a second, a third, and so on. America cannot be “first” if it is America alone. – The National Interest

Daniel McCarthy writes: In general, our policy ought to take greater account of supply chain vulnerabilities and our strategic economic needs. Economic nationalism should be seen not only in light of national defense, in the strict sense, but also as a means of ensuring American prosperity in the event of greater global instability. Our interests also call for continued close economic cooperation with other advanced liberal states and a greater focus on development in the Americas and Africa. Controlling immigration and fighting human trafficking and opioid smuggling should take precedence over fighting wars in faraway places. – The National Interest


The American defense firm L3Harris has ended talks with blacklisted Israeli spyware company, NSO Group, to buy the firm’s hacking tools following intelligence and security concerns raised by the Biden administration, according to people familiar with the matter. – Washington Post

Congress’s website was hacked for around an hour Thursday evening as a Russia-aligned hacktivist group took credit for turning the text of the site entirely into Russian. – Washington Examiner

Benjamin R. Young writes: One of the reasons why such ransomware groups persist is because many businesses and governments pay the ransoms that ensure their survival. To cut off their financial means, Western private and public sector industries should see the payment of ransoms as funding terrorism. Given the imperial ambitions of Putin, reframing Russian cybercriminals terrorists is an unfortunate necessity in the twenty-first century. – The National Interest


A new commercial satellite imagery acquisition tool developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory could help the U.S. Space Force make near-term shifts to a more resilient architecture. – Defense News

Christopher J. Motz writes: At stake are the careers and livelihoods of more than 24,000 troops who face ejection for exercising their religious rights. The Defense Department’s policy of religious rejection shows no signs of slowing. Congress needs to act by tying defense money to respect for the troops’ religious liberty. – Wall Street Journal

Michael McCaul writes: To help bring about needed changes and furthering recent legislative accomplishments, I would strongly urge the Rules Committee to make two important amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in order. The first one is an amendment I have offered that would help to modernize the defense industrial base. The second is a bipartisan amendment offered by Rep. Kim (R-Calif.), which would give Congress more insight into the delayed shipment of weapons to Taiwan and other regional allies. I will continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to draft additional solutions for action this year and next Congress. – The Hill

John Ferrari writes: If the Democrats lose control of the House or the Senate in the mid-term elections, OMB will find it much more difficult to reach consensus on adding money to non-defense programs. Given the bipartisan consensus in the Armed Services Committees increases to defense spending, OMB can leverage that consensus to raise spending for non-defense programs while they still have control of the House and the Senate, not just for 2023, but also for 2024, while at the same time taking care of our military families by raising the pay for our junior enlisted service members. – Breaking Defense

Kevin Landtroop writes: Phase-1 enables companies to find a technology fit. Once qualified, the company needs to develop a detailed use-case that accounts not only for a lab-based solution, but also for one that could deploy to the user base and integrate with their existing systems and workflows. Phase-1 results in better phase-2s. Phase-1 SBIRs are a useful filtering tool and ensure maximum participation from dual-use startups. Use them wisely rather than discard them. – War on the Rocks