Fdd's overnight brief

July 18, 2022

In The News

Russia & Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to travel to the Middle East this week, a rare trip abroad intended to signal that the protracted and costly war in Ukraine hasn’t diminished Moscow’s place on the world stage. – Wall Street Journal

In his government’s most high-level shake-up during the war with Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed Ivan Bakanov, head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). Bakanov’s SBU, the domestic intelligence and security agency, had come under criticism since the start of the war after three former officials were charged with treason in late March. – Washington Post

A U.S. Air Force veteran living in Ukraine has been detained by pro-Russian separatists, his brother said — making him at least the third American to be captured in Ukraine since the war began. – Washington Post

Beyond Moscow’s military campaign is an economic war between Russia, on one side, and the U.S. and Europe on the other. That conflict is becoming a test of who can endure the most strife. – Wall Street Journal

In an indication that Russian forces were ending what they called an operational pause in their invasion of Ukraine, the defense minister of Russia, Sergei K. Shoigu, on Saturday ordered his forces to intensify attacks “in all operational sectors” of the war – New York Times

International concern is growing over reports of abuses involving Russia’s so-called filtration camps, including the eventual executions of some detainees, according to a new report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. – New York Times

When SpaceX next launches a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station, one of the astronauts aboard will be Russian. NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced on Friday that they had reached an agreement that would give Russian astronauts seats on American-built spacecraft in exchange for NASA astronauts’ getting rides to orbit on Russian Soyuz rockets. – New York Times

Brittney Griner. Austin Tice. The Citgo 6. And now, potentially, three American military veterans who were captured by enemy forces after traveling to Ukraine to fight Russia. They are among nearly 50 Americans who the State Department believes are wrongfully detained by foreign governments. At least a dozen more Americans are being held as hostages — including by extremist groups — or on criminal charges that their families dispute. – New York Times

The White House disclosure last week that Russia is seeking hundreds of armed and unarmed surveillance drones from Iran to use in the war in Ukraine reflects Moscow’s need to both fill a critical battlefield gap and find a long-term supplier of a crucial combat technology, U.S. intelligence, military and independent analysts say – New York Times

Russian police on Sunday detained journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who in March interrupted a live TV broadcast to denounce the military action in Ukraine, her lawyer said. No official statement has been made, but her detention comes a few days after 44-year-old Ovsyannikova demonstrated alone near the Kremlin holding a placard criticising Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin – Agence France Presse

Financial leaders of the Group of 20 richest and biggest economies agreed at meetings on the Indonesian resort island of Bali this week on the need to jointly tackle global ills such as inflation and food crises, but failed to bridge differences over the war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

The refusal of Ukraine and Western powers to recognise Moscow’s control of Crimea poses a “systemic threat” for Russia and any outside attack on the region will prompt a “Judgment Day” response, former president Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday. – Reuters

Russia is preparing for the next stage of its offensive in Ukraine, a Ukrainian military official said, after Moscow said its forces would step up military operations in “all operational areas”. As Western deliveries of long-range arms begin to help Ukraine on the battlefield, Russian rockets and missiles have pounded cities in strikes that Kyiv says have killed dozens in recent days. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has thrown down the gauntlet for the U.S. and allies to help Kyiv bring an end to Russia’s war by December. The imperative is to stop the bloodshed. Ukrainian forces are suffering as many as 200 casualties per day, and Russian artillery has killed dozens of civilians in recent attacks, with hundreds more injured. – The Hill 

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has summoned Russian Ambassador Andrey Kelin to express “deep concern” after reports emerged of the death in captivity of a British man Paul Urey in Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

Russia has committed 22,504 war crimes in Ukraine since it began its invasion of the country in February, according to a Monday report from Ukrinform citing the Telegram of the Prosecutor General’s Office – Jerusalem Post 

Tatiana Stanovaya writes: There is some good news. The very fact that the plan seems realistic to him should, in the short term, prevent any nuclear escalation. But the bad news is that sooner or later, Mr. Putin will face reality. It is in that moment, when his plans are stymied and his disappointment high, that he is likely to be most dangerous. If the West seeks to avoid a catastrophic clash, it needs to truly understand what it’s really dealing with when it comes to Mr. Putin. – New York Times 

Lyle Goldstein writes: As many as 50,000, or even more, already have died in this tragic war. Will the relevant leaders wait for another 50,000 to die in the coming months before calling a halt to the carnage and putting some realistic peace plans on the negotiating table? – The Hill

Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, George Barros, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russian forces are continuing a measured return from the operational pause and conducted limited ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast on July 17. As ISW has previously noted, the end of the Russian operational pause is unlikely to create a massive new wave of ground assaults across multiple axes of advance despite Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s public order for exactly that. Russian troops are prioritizing advances around Siversk and Bakhmut while maintaining defensive positions north of Kharkiv City and along the Southern Axis. – Institute for the Study of War

Kseniya Kirillova writes: Against this background, it is a matter of guesswork to understand what Dugin might mean by the institutionalization of Putinism. It is unlikely to center on further strengthening the cult of personality, which has already reached peak Stalinist-era personality worship. More likely that this is designed to ensure the regime’s methods (rather than its ideology, which is simply based on the need to remain in power) survive his death. Since the expectations of Russian society have been distorted by propaganda, the elites around the president fear that, without action, the risk of such a collapse is very high. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Peter Brookes writes: Russia has a significant advantage numerically over U.S. and NATO in non-strategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs) in Europe.This imbalance in NSNWs could lead to a higher level of risk-taking on the part of Russia that seriously affects U.S. national interests.The United States and NATO must take steps to address this asymmetry in NSNWs to mitigate Russia’s advantage, which could lead to further instability in the region. – Heritage Foundation

James Phillips writes: Putin will meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on a visit to Iran on July 19. The two leaders share a hostile view of the United States. Putin is likely to view his Iran trip as a chance to upstage and outflank Biden. While in Iran, he is likely to seek enhanced Russian-Iranian cooperation on security, economic, and sanctions issues. – Heritage Foundation

William Taubman writes: Unless, in a fifth scenario, Putin opts to break a stalemate, or ward off a seeming defeat, by going nuclear. In the past, few observers would have expected him to do so. But then again few (including this writer) expected him to invade Ukraine, even after he massed nearly 200,000 troops on its border. The reason is that his decision to launch such a war seemed so out of character. But if, as I have argued, it was in fact so squarely in character, then who is to say that going nuclear would not be? Whether Putin does so depends on many factors. – Foreign Policy

Amy Mackinnon, Robbie Gramer, and Jack Detsch write: And just because U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia’s hopes of establishing a base at Port Sudan may be out of sight, for now, they said Moscow was likely to seek other options along the Red Sea coast. – Foreign Policy


The White House said it gathered intelligence that Russian officials recently visited an airfield in Iran twice to examine drones they are considering acquiring for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. The Iranian military showcased the drones on June 8 and July 5 at Kashan airfield, which suggested “ongoing Russian interest” in procuring the equipment, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement Saturday. – Washington Post

Iran unveiled military advances on Friday that have put armed drones aboard its warships, creating a new threat for the U.S. and its allies in the Persian Gulf, as President Biden tours the region in part to help build security partnerships to counter Tehran. – Wall Street Journal

Iran and Russia are engaged in a fierce competition for sales of oil, refined crude products and metals in India, China and across Asia, as Moscow sells at prices that are undercutting one of its few supporters during the Ukraine invasion. – Wall Street Journal

Iran is technically capable of making a nuclear bomb but has not decided whether to build one, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Qatar’s al Jazeera TV on Sunday. – Reuters

Iran has set the official selling price (OSP) of its Iranian Light grade for its Asian buyers at $8.90 above the Oman/Dubai average for August, up $2.80 from the previous month, two industry sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Monday. – Reuters

The Iranian ambassador to Sweden went to the Swedish Foreign Ministry on Friday to protest the sentencing of an Iranian citizen to life by a Swedish court for committing grave war crimes and murder during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. – Associated Press

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday accused the United States of using “Iranophobia” to create regional tension during President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East, Iranian state media reported. – Reuters

Iran has imposed sanctions on 61 more Americans, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for backing an Iranian dissident group, Tehran said on Saturday as months of talks to revive a 2015 nuclear deal remained at an impasse. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Iran’s warships can now carry armed drones. This is an escalation in Iran’s drone threat. It has put drones on ships and fast boats. But it appears that Tehran has increased the range and capability of its drones. “Iran ‘welcomed’ Biden to the Persian Gulf on Friday by unveiling new drone advances that pose expanded threats to the US and its allies in the region,” Dion Nissenbaum of WSJ noted. – Jerusalem Post

Salem Alketbi writes: The militias represent the main bulwark of a revolutionary regime that, despite more than three decades since the most remarkable event in modern Iranian history – the landing of Ayatollah Khomeini at Tehran airport on his return from exile in February 1979 – has failed to pacify and transition from revolution to state. Since then, the country has changed, its behavior upended. The problem with this model is that it creates illusions within itself that lead to disasters for itself and others, and our region is paying the price for this destructive ideology. – Jerusalem Post 

Erwin van Veen and Hamidreza Azizi write: The combination of U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 and Iran playing for time in 2021-2022 at the cost of the socio-economic prospects of its own population is set to become a textbook example of how to undo two decades worth of negotiations and sanctions. It will produce the suboptimal outcomes of permanent regional tensions, a latently nuclear-capable Iran, and continued U.S. involvement in the region. There are no quick fixes to this emergent new reality. – The National Interest

Reza Ansari writes: This proposal was shared with a senior policy advisor to Iran’s incumbent president. He described the proposal as “worthy of examination.” Judging from this feedback, Iran is probably open to the suggestion. If the West is also open to negotiating on this basis, a deal may still be possible. – The National Interest


The government’s ability to manage the economy has largely broken down. The inexperienced Taliban leadership, which overthrew the republic when U.S.-led troops left the country, is isolated and under sanctions, and knows little about running a state. – Wall Street Journal

Cash-strapped and cut off from international aid, the Taliban-led government is tapping into Afghanistan’s natural resources to boost revenue. Since the Taliban toppled the Western-backed government in Kabul and seized power in August 2021, the export of and custom duties from coal have become a key source of revenue for the militant group. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

No new investigation will be launched into allegations about the behaviour of an SAS unit in Afghanistan, the chief of the defence staff has told the BBC. According to BBC Panorama, its troops may have unlawfully killed 54 people during one six-month tour in 2010/2011. – BBC

Ali M. Latifi writes: What the Taliban supposedly have come for—what Habibi in particular maintains is his goal—is to reverse the dysfunction and corruption of the previous governments and start delivering tangible benefits to the Afghan people. He said he’s seen enough false promises and false starts over the last 20 years to have reason to doubt the goodwill of outsiders. – Foreign Policy


Iraq on Saturday asked Ankara to increase the flow of water downstream along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as both countries face droughts and tensions over resource management. – Agence France-Presse

The commander of US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria on Friday urged Russia and Iran to prevent Turkey from launching a new attack in the country’s north, days before an expected Syria summit. – Agence France-Presse

A total of 36 tombstones were destroyed in the Jewish Hasköy Cemetery in Istanbul Turkey in an act of vandalization on Thursday night, according to a tweet by an official Jewish community account. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J, Frantzman writes:  The attacks used rockets and are apparently carried out by pro-Iran militias. One of these militias has taken a name linked to Yazidis, the minority once targeted by ISIS and which is now targeted by Turkey. However, it is assumed the militia is actually a stand-in for pro-Iranian militias such as Kataib Hezbollah. Iranian-backed militias also target US forces in the Kurdistan region. This means Turkey’s operations have wider regional implications. Turkey’s leader is meeting with Iran and Russia this week and Turkey wants to launch a new operation in Syria. Turkey claims its new operation in Syria will also target “PKK terrorists.” – Jerusalem Post


President Biden devoted the last hours of his Israeli visit to restoring the ties with Palestinians severed by his predecessor, visiting a Palestinian hospital Friday in East Jerusalem and crossing an Israeli military checkpoint to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. – Washington Post

President Biden had contrasting messages for Israelis and Palestinians on Friday before departing Israel for Saudi Arabia, announcing new steps toward Israeli integration within the Middle East while cautioning Palestinians that now was not the time for new peace talks to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – New York Times

The Israeli military attacked what it said was a Hamas military site in the Gaza Strip early Saturday in response to a pair of rocket attacks overnight. The exchange that took place hours after U.S. President Joe Biden concluded a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. – Associated Press

A multinational peacekeeping force will leave a strategic Red Sea island by the end of the year, the White House said Friday, potentially boosting opportunities for future contact between Saudi Arabia and Israel. – Agence France-Presse

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday conveyed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia’s leadership after the royalty backed the Palestinian cause during their summit with US President Joe Biden, i24NEWS reported. – Arutz Sheva

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said Sunday evening that a military option against Iran’s nuclear program was a “moral imperative.” […] While Barnea believes that any new nuclear agreement that could be signed with Tehran would be a bad one, senior figures in the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate believe Israel must support any prospect to block Iran from attaining military nuclear capabilities, including a return to the tattered 2015 agreement which has many shortcomings, including its sunset close. – YNet

US President Joe Biden’s motorcade no longer had Israeli flags on it during a visit to a Palestinian hospital in east Jerusalem on Friday, despite his assurances that the stop is not a statement about Israeli sovereignty in its capital city. – Jerusalem Post

Quin Hillyer writes: And, of course, he is right. Israel is a democracy; Israel is our ally; Israel is a beacon of freedom and human rights in a region known for neither. Any time a U.S. president repeats those truths, the forces of darkness are held at least somewhat in abeyance. Even if that’s not a great victory, it’s better than nothing. – Washington Examiner


Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, whose country is mired in political crisis, says it is in Iraq’s interest to keep pushing for a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to ease regional tensions. Speaking to The Associated Press Friday evening, Mustafa al-Kadhimi said Iraq intended to keep up its role hosting talks between the two Mideast neighbors whose rivalry has often played out in Iraq, leading to perpetual paralysis. – Associated Press

President Barham Salih of Iraq defended President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia last week, citing the Saudi royal family’s progress in modernizing the nation. […] Salih commended the crown prince for taking on “extremist elements” in his kingdom. – Politico

Iraq’s oil wealth is rekindling tensions between federal authorities and the autonomous Kurdish region, in a row that could compromise the lifeline industry and keep investors away, analysts say. – Agence France-Presse

Saudi Arabia

President Biden said he confronted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a politically fraught meeting intended to reset relations with an oil-rich nation the U.S. believes it can no longer afford to shun amid high energy prices. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden exchanged the shaken fist for a fist bump on Friday as he abandoned his promise to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and sat down with the crown prince he deemed responsible for the grisly killing and dismemberment of a columnist who lived in the United States – New York Times

Since entering the White House, President Biden had refused to meet with, and even speak to, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, seeking to punish him with ostracism for the grisly murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in 2018. – New York Times

During his painful encounters with a series of Arab strongmen here in Saudi Arabia this weekend, President Biden kept returning to a single reason for renewing his relationship with American allies who fall on the wrong side of the struggle he often describes as a battle between “democracy and autocracy. – New York Times

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told President Joe Biden that Saudi Arabia had acted to prevent a repeat of mistakes like the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and that the United States had also made mistakes, including in Iraq, a Saudi minister said. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat on Saturday downplayed talk of normalization with Israel after the kingdom opened its airspace to Israeli commercial flights and hammered out a complex deal over islands in the Red Sea that required Israeli assent. – Associated Press

The United States and Saudi Arabia agreed on the importance of stopping Iran from “acquiring a nuclear weapon,” during a visit by US President Joe Biden, a joint statement carried by the Saudi state news agency (SPA) said. – Reuters

Saudi ministers insisted that oil policy decisions would be taken according to market logic and within the OPEC+ coalition, just as US President Joe Biden wrapped up a landmark trip to the kingdom. Biden said late Friday that the Saudis shared his “urgency” to increase oil supply and he expects “further steps in the coming weeks” to that end. – Bloomberg

Karen Attiah writes: But for Jamal’s family and friends, pushing for accountability for his killing was never just about one man. Jamal’s murder became a symbol for so many other tragedies in this world, including attacks against journalists and the hypocrisy of the United States cozying up to oil-rich dictators. Demanding justice for Jamal also served the larger goal of deterring atrocities by despotic regimes subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. – Washington Post

Clifford Krauss writes: “Presidents may be the most powerful figure in the American government, but they cannot control the price of oil at the pump,” said Chase Untermeyer, who was the U.S. ambassador to Qatar in the George W. Bush administration. “Even if prices do go down for reasons out of his control, President Biden probably won’t get much credit for it, either. – New York Times

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates has sentenced an American citizen and the former lawyer of Jamal Khashoggi — the dissident Saudi journalist who was killed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018 — to three years in prison on charges of money laundering and tax evasion. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Saturday he was not aware of any discussions on a Gulf-Israeli defence alliance and that the kingdom was not involved in such talks. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates is considering reinstating its ambassador to Iran and wants to improve economic ties, even as it continues to build relations with Tehran’s arch regional foe, Israel. – Bloomberg

The United Arab Emirates will sign several agreements including one for diesel supply to France, during Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit in Paris next week, his first trip abroad since becoming the president in May. – Bloomberg

Mohammed Soliman writes: By investing in its tech ecosystem, bringing international tech companies home, and developing its human capital, the UAE has become the region’s leading digital economy. The UAE’s investment in GF is part of a larger Emirati ambition to shift its focus to deep tech and establish the country as a worldwide tech leader, not one that is limited to the Middle East. With the UAE’s national vision of becoming a global leader in tech and innovation, the Emirates may well bring semiconductor production home in the long run. – The National Interest

Middle East & North Africa

President Biden laid out his vision for the U.S. role in the Middle East Saturday, pledging to stay engaged in the region and strengthen relationships with Arab nations to counter the influence of China, Russia and Iran. – Wall Street Journal

A New York Times investigation found that Egypt is holding thousands of people in a system of pretrial detention that can be extended indefinitely, stretching Egyptian laws limiting such detention and allowing the government to imprison people without having to prove its case in a trial – New York Times

President Joe Biden told Arab leaders on Saturday that the United States would remain an active partner in the Middle East, but he failed to secure commitments to a regional security axis that would include Israel or an immediate oil output rise. – Reuters

The United States on Friday applauded efforts by Lebanon and Israel seeking to reach a decision on maritime boundaries and said it remains committed to facilitating the ongoing negotiations that will help determine oil and gas resources. – Reuters

Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels, slamming US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, said they would not agree to extend a truce in the seven-year war. “We reject any outcomes for the American president’s visit to the region that touch the sovereignty, security and stability of Yemen,” the Houthi ruling political council said in a statement on Saturday – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden will announce $1 billion in US food security aid for the Middle East and North Africa at a summit of Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, a US official said. Leaders of six-member Gulf Cooperation Council will also commit $3 billion over the next two years for projects that are aligned with the US-led Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment initiative, according to the official – Bloomberg

US President Joe Biden on Friday announced the planned withdrawal of a multinational observer force that has secured a pair of Red Sea islands for over forty years. This will allow their transfer from Egypt to Saudi Arabia in a US-brokered agreement that includes steps by Riyadh toward normalizing ties with Israel. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: A presidency that began with bold talk of a new, human-rights-centered approach to the Arab world has reverted to a policy not much less indulgent of dictators than those of previous administrations, including that of President Donald Trump. This was a low moment for Mr. Biden, and one that he won’t soon live down. – Washington Post

Marc Champion writes: With diminished leverage and poor prospects. Palestinian leaders criticized the accords with Israel for giving the country the benefits of peace without requiring it to relinquish its grip over the lands it seized in 1967. The UAE says it helped the Palestinians as part of its agreement by securing Israel’s promise to freeze a plan to annex part of the West Bank, but for how long is unclear. – Bloomberg

Oded Eran and Shimon Stein write: The idea of a Middle East NATO may be premature, but regular regional consultations between various regional players that participate either in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, or the equivalent Gulf dialogue, can start in an informal manner and develop into a formal part of the Partner for Peace status that some Central Asian states have with NATO. – Jerusalem Post 

David Pollock and Faris Almaari wite: Nevertheless, 61% of Gazans do agree that it is important to maintain a good relationship with the U.S., and most Gazans would like the U.S. to take a more engaged role in the Palestinian issue. More specifically, a plurality of Gazans (36%) would like the U.S. to increase pressure on Israel to provide more concessions to the Palestinians, a six-point increase from February 2020. – Washington Institute

Dylan Kassin and David Pollock write: With Biden arriving in Israel, these polls suggest that normalization has had a mixed impact on public opinion. The scope of the Accords may have ultimately disappointed many of those Gulfis who had initially seen them in a potentially positive light. Nevertheless, their existence appears to have shifted attitudes in some parts of the Gulf towards unofficial ties with Israelis, potentially opening the door for further informal contacts. – Washington Institute

Nicole Robinson and Mariah Gaudet write: Wheat prices are rising worldwide. Especially hard hit are the Middle East and North Africa, which rely heavily on wheat imported from Russia and Ukraine. Without relief, Lebanon, Egypt, and many other countries may once again face a wave of anti-government protests. The Biden administration must act now to discourage countries from implementing export restraints and encourage advancement of the Abraham Accords. – Heritage Foundation

Paul Salem writes: Every crisis presents an opportunity. As the U.S. re-engages with the leaders of the region, and as states across the Middle East move toward de-escalation of old conflicts by exploring new forms of normalization and cooperation, now is the time to imagine and work toward a more stable and prosperous future. This can only be done by focusing on the inclusion of more than half of the region’s population, which is currently on a perilously downward spiral. And as the U.S. administration looks to boost human rights in the region, it would also do well to speak out for the basic socio-economic rights of the region’s poor and vulnerable and to work with regional leaders to reverse a dangerously escalating reality. – Middle East Institute 

Mark Episkopos writes: The I2U2 platform’s symbolic message of unity is further belied by specific policy differences between its members, notably including those between the Biden administration and Jerusalem. With the Iran deal hanging on by a thread, President Joe Biden and Lapid starkly diverged in their messaging on Tehran’s nuclear capabilities. “If they [Iran] continue to develop their nuclear program, the free world will use force,” Lapid said during a news conference. Biden did not reiterate those comments or make any commitments to employ military force against Tehran, instead stressing the need for continued dialogue. – The National Interest


India has stepped up a crackdown on the Chinese companies that dominate its smartphone market in a series of legal actions that have raised trade tensions between Asia’s two biggest nations.[…] While India insists the legal cases against Chinese companies are not politically motivated, the raids have added to longstanding concerns about the country’s climate for foreign investment. – Financial Times

The Ukraine war shows that the West’s dominance is coming to an end as China rises to superpower status in partnership with Russia at one of the most significant inflection points in centuries, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said. – Reuters

Jagannath Panda writes: Finally, notwithstanding that clarity in the 2022 Strategic Concept is a basic prerequisite, it will not necessarily serve as a panacea for future challenges, particularly China. NATO’s perpetual internal debates about the opportunities versus the threats posed by China will only complicate what should be quick, decisive, and forward-looking actions. – The National Interest

South Asia

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has left the building, one joyous Sri Lankan wrote on Twitter after the country’s president resigned in absentia Thursday. The island nation’s extreme economic distress and political chaos had triggered huge protests calling on “Gota” to quit, and while his sudden departure brought an end to those demonstrations, it left the government in the hands of an unpopular acting leader and most people deeply worried about what comes next. – Washington Post

Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe gazetted orders late on Sunday for a state of emergency in the crisis-ridden island nation, in an effort to head off unrest ahead of a vote in parliament later this week to elect a new president. – Reuters

Two religious scholars have been killed in Pakistan’s troubled North Waziristan in the latest in a wave of seemingly targeted attacks. Religious scholars Qari Samiuddin and Qari Nauman were shot after armed motorcyclists approached their vehicle in the Mir Ali region of the tribal district, bordering Afghanistan, district police chief Farhan Khan told Radio Mashaal. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


By many accounts, the Pacific Islands Forum was a success for Australia. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was full of assurances when he assessed his meetings with island leaders earlier this week. – New York Times

Cybersecurity researchers say that Thai activists involved in the country’s pro-democracy protests had their cell phones or other devices infected and attacked with government-sponsored spyware. Investigators of the cybersecurity research groups Citizen Lab and iLaw found that at least 30 individuals — including activists, scholars and people working with civil society groups — were targeted for surveillance with Pegasus, a spyware produced by Israeli-based cybersecurity company NSO Group. – Associated Press

Gunmen believed to be separatist rebels killed 10 traders and wounded two others in an attack Saturday in Indonesia’s restive Papua province, police said. Clashes have escalated in country’s the easternmost province since last year, when rebels set fire to several schools and killed two teachers. – Associated Press

Mongolia expects Russia to begin construction of the “Power of Siberia 2” gas pipeline through its territory to China within two years, as Moscow moves to connect its Europe-supplying gasfields to Asia for the first time. – Financial Times


Tanker owners in Europe are shipping as much Russian crude as possible before energy sanctions against Moscow take effect in December. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Western nations have pledged to wean themselves off crude from Moscow and looming sanctions have raised fears among European processors and shipowners of being blacklisted for handling the fuel. – Wall Street Journal

Europe is on tenterhooks over whether Canada’s decision to bend its own sanctions, allowing turbines that power the Nord Stream pipeline to be repaired and returned to Russia, is enough to prod Moscow to restore the flow of natural gas to Europe. – Wall Street Journal

In one of postwar Germany’s most spectacular terrorism trials, a military officer who had posed as a Syrian refugee was sentenced to five and a half years in prison on Friday for plotting to assassinate prominent politicians and public figures in the hopes of bringing down the country’s democratic order – New York Times

A Ukrainian cargo plane carrying 11.5 tons of Serbian-made weapons destined for Bangladesh crashed in northern Greece late Saturday, killing eight Ukrainian crew members and setting off an investigation into whether the hazardous material being transported posed a threat to the local population, state and local officials said. – New York Times

The European Union was set to discuss tightening sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine Monday, after President Volodymyr Zelensky sacked his top two law enforcement officials in a major shakeup. The talks were to take place as Kyiv accused Moscow of launching fresh strikes on multiple residential areas in eastern and southern Ukraine. – Agence France-Presse

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski announced Saturday that Skopje had reached a compromise with Bulgaria in a long-running dispute, allowing them to start the membership talks. EU member Bulgaria had until recently blocked any progress for such talks because of a dispute between the countries over linguistic and historical issues. The dispute also stalled Albania’s bid to join the 27-nation bloc. – Agence France-Presse

Diplomatic tensions soared Sunday between Balkan rivals Serbia and Croatia after Croatia refused to allow a private visit by Serbia’s populist president to the site of a World War II concentration camp where tens of thousands of Serbs were killed by pro-Nazi authorities in Croatia. – Associated Press

The European Union can no longer afford to keep national vetoes when deciding on European Union foreign and security policy if it wants to maintain a leading role in global politics, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said. – Reuters

Germany, France, Ireland and three other European Union nations account for almost all of 13.9 billion euros ($14 billion) in Russian assets that have been frozen in the 27-nation EU since the invasion of Ukraine, according to the bloc’s justice chief. – Bloomberg

Hungarians are holding daily protests as a plunging currency and the threat of a Russian cut-off of natural gas shipments to Europe forces Prime Minister Viktor Orban to embrace unpopular austerity measures. – Bloomberg 

The Russian embassy in Switzerland sent a legal threat to a Swiss newspaper after the outlet published a caricature of President Vladimir Putin wearing a clown nose and rainbow streaks across his face, according to reports. – New York Post

Bulgaria’s defense capabilities will not be seriously affected by Moscow’s decision to suspend Russian helicopter repair certificates to local companies, the defense minister said Friday. Dragomir Zakov said Bulgaria would also continue to repair Ukrainian military equipment. – Defense News

Stefano Graziosi and James Jay Carafano write: Brussels’ misplaced priorities in long-term energy policy have already produced energy shortages. These have been economically devastating. Even as it aims to punish Russian president Vladimir Putin and to reduce its dependence on Russian energy, it is increasing its dependence on China. America needs to become a dominant exporter of oil and gas. And Europe needs responsible energy policies that promote innovation and free-market solutions. – Heritage Foundation


In the predawn hours, the militants of al-Shabab attacked the peacekeepers’ base from every direction with lethal precision. Suicide bombers detonated three cars filled with explosives. Islamist fighters then pounded the facility with heavy gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, killing several dozen African Union peacekeepers from Burundi. Footage posted on social media showed bodies in military uniforms scattered around the base. – Washington Post

The death toll from days of tribal clashes in a southern Sudanese province climbed to at least 65 people, a senior health official said Sunday. The fighting between the Hausa and Birta ethnic groups in the Blue Nile province also injured around 150 others, said Gamal Nasser al-Sayed, the province’s health minister. – Associated Press

Gunmen attacked a Malian army checkpoint outside Bamako, killing at least six people and wounding several others, officials said Friday, raising concerns as attacks by jihadist groups move closer to the capital. – Associated Press

Togo officials on Saturday said several people were killed and others wounded when gunmen attacked four villages earlier this week in the country’s far north, where a jihadist insurgency is spilling over the border from Burkina Faso. It was the fourth attack in Togo since last year as the West African country, Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast all face a growing threat from Islamist militants in the Sahel north of their borders. – Agence France-Presse

The Americas

A gunman shot and killed three people and injured two others at a mall in Indiana on Sunday evening before he was fatally shot by a bystander, officials said. The gunman, described as an adult male, was armed with a “long gun” and appears to have acted alone, Chief Jim Ison of the Greenwood Police Department said at a news conference. – Washington Post

An elite unit of Mexico’s navy captured drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, who had been released by a Mexican judge in 2013 after serving 28 years in prison for the killing of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Mexican officials said Friday. – Wall Street Journal

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday that calls on all countries to stop the transfer of small arms, light weapons and ammunition to any party in crisis-torn Haiti supporting gang violence and criminal activity. – Associated Press

Gang violence killed or injured at least 234 people from July 8-12 in Haiti’s Cite Soleil, an impoverished and densely populated neighbourhood of the capital Port-au-Prince, the United Nations said on Saturday. The unrest erupted between two rival factions and the city’s ill-equipped and understaffed police failed to intervene, trapping residents in their homes, unable to go out for even food and water – Agence France Presse

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: In that competition, Argentine credit doesn’t rank. Neither does its assistance in the matter of security, as demonstrated by the stranded plane. As long as Buenos Aires is making a less-than-honest effort to protect the Western Hemisphere from the reach of Venezuela, Iran and Russia, the Biden administration should just say no. – Wall Street Journal

Susan Heller Pinto and Aykan Erdemir write: It took Argentina many years to take a clear stance on the AMIA bombing and treat it as an attack not just on the Jewish community but on all of Argentina. Since the Iranian regime, which has not shied away from propagating anti-Semitic incitement or hurling violent threats, remains a very real threat to Jewish communities around the world, a true commemoration of the AMIA attack and the honoring of the memories of its victims require vigilance against state-sponsored extremists committed to repeating similar attacks. – The National Interest

Ryan C. Berg, Clara Sophie Cramer, Maxwell Kushnir, Emily Santor, Otto Svendsen, and Likai Zhao write: The Biden administration should partner with Brazil to increase regional stability. Without strong regional leadership, transnational challenges are difficult if not impossible to solve. Historically, the United States has stepped in to coordinate complex security matters. However, the current lack of regional leadership, combined with Washington’s waning influence in Latin America, limits the extent to which the Biden administration can feasibly address transnational challenges in the Western Hemisphere. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


TikTok has been urged to preserve and hand over access to its content for war crime investigations, as lawyers and activists warn the Chinese-owned app is a major data challenge in prosecuting atrocities in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Financial Times

House Republicans are urging TikTok to release information regarding the access that its Chinese employees have to data from U.S. users. Meanwhile, a new Congressional report reveals that several leading cryptocurrency miners have the electrical capacity equivalent to nearly every residence in Houston. – The Hill

Troops and family members could be jeopardizing national security with their use of the TikTok video-sharing app, a U.S. regulator told lawmakers. – Military Times

A North Korea-linked threat group has been developing ransomware and compromising small businesses in several countries since September 2021, according to a new report. – The Record

On Feb. 21, just days before Russia launched its brutal invasion of Ukraine, someone with the username “fire” posted a message to one of the TrickBot cybercrime syndicate’s internal chat groups. “We are in a difficult situation,” fire wrote in an attempt to explain to others why they hadn’t been paid, and to ask for their patience. There had been “too many leaks,” among other circumstances, so “the boss has apparently decided to lay low.” – CyberScoop



The Biden administration is under pressure to stream more offensive and defensive rocket systems into Ukraine as the former Soviet country faces a critical tipping point on the battlefield with Russia. – The Hill 

The head of one of America’s biggest defence companies has called on western governments to provide a “clear demand signal” if the industry is going to be able to provide the weapons needed for a prolonged conflict in Ukraine. – Financial Times

More than 20 sailors were punished for the four-day fire that led to the loss of the warship Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) in 2020, the Navy announced Friday. The actions ordered by U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Samuel Paparo include letters of reprimand and forfeitures of pay for former commander Bonhomme Richard Capt. Gregory Thoroman and executive officer Capt. Michael Ray, as well as a punitive letter of reprimand for the ship’s Command Master Chief Jose Hernandez, according to a statement from the service provided to USNI News. – USNI News

The House of Representatives backed legislation to work on establishing a joint Middle East air-defense alliance as part of the passage of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act on Thursday. – Jewish Insider

At least two people were injured in a fire that burned for several hours on a Combined Task Force surface vessel participating in RIMPAC 2022, a Navy official said Sunday. A fire broke out in the engine room at 8 a.m. local time and was extinguished by 1:40 p.m., Cmdr. Sean Robertson, RIMPAC spokesperson, said in a statement. – USNI News

The Pentagon recently announced plans to strengthen missile defenses on Guam in 2028. While the decision represents progress, there’s a problem: The defenses may arrive too late to protect the island from China. Experts have repeatedly warned that, in a war over Taiwan, Beijing would almost certainly attack this strategically important US territory, and China could make its move within the next five years. – Breaking Defense

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Rectifying this mismatch will require more investment and fewer demands on US forces.3 Defense planning should rest on realistic assumptions about the inability of policymakers to make hard choices and a cautious appreciation for the observed historical and expected future requirements of America’s armed forces. – American Enterprise Institute

Kris Osborn writes: An ability to make substantial improvements quickly through MOSA not only increases efficiency, speed of modernization, and lowers costs but also brings the critical advantage of lowering weight. Agility, speed and aerial performance are all key performance parameters impacted by weight, so optimizing operational functionality at lighter weights generates highly sought after advantages for engineers. – The National Interest