Fdd's overnight brief

July 24, 2023

In The News


Iran “reserves the right for reciprocal and proportional action” after the European Union imposed new sanctions over Tehran’s support for Russia’s war on Ukraine, its foreign ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the Danish ambassador to protest against “the desecration of the Koran in Copenhagen,” the ministry tweeted on Saturday. – Reuters

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that people who desecrate the Koran should face the “most severe punishment” and Sweden has “gone into battle-array for war on the Muslim world” by supporting those responsible. – Reuters

At least four road police patrol officers were killed in a “terrorist” attack in the mostly Sunni city of Zahedan in Iran’s restive southeast, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency on Sunday. – Reuters

Iran on Sunday began an annual air force drill in the central part of country, state media reported, as the U.S. sends more fighter planes to the region to deter the Islamic Republic from seizing commercial vessels in the Persian Gulf area. – Associated Press

CIA Director Bill Burns warned on Thursday that further growth in the Iranian-Russian defense partnership could pose dangers to the U.S.’ partners in the Middle East. – Jewish Insider

Iran has arrested and detained a fourth U.S. national, further complicating the Biden administration’s efforts to secure an exchange of prisoners and lower tensions with Tehran. – Semafor

With Israeli society increasingly fractured over the country’s democratic character and future, Iran on Sunday mocked the Jewish state’s troubles while also joking at the expense of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his health problems. – Times of Israel

Sean Durns writes: Put simply, the administration has been all but throwing cash at Tehran to reach a deal. Nor has the White House been open with Congress about talks — violating a pledge that Antony Blinken made during his confirmation hearings to be secretary of state. Both Congress and the people deserve a far more transparent approach to Iran from this administration. – Washington Examiner

Gabriel Noronha writes: To start, the administration can sanction every tanker carrying Iranian oil, limiting the vessels’ ability to refuel or receive repairs in most ports. Those sanctions should be extended to the ships’ owners, their captains, and crews. In 2020, the U.S. government successfully offered sanctions relief and financial rewards to these groups in exchange for their illicit cargoes. In one case, the Department of Justice sold $40 million worth of illicit oil and gave the proceeds to victims of Iranian terrorism. Those are the golden days I’d like to return to! – Washington Examiner

Farzin Nadimi writes: Whatever the case, Washington should couple the deployments with a strong message to Iran through diplomatic channels, emphasizing that American military assets will continue to ensure safety of navigation through international waterways and maritime commons and are prepared to use force if necessary. Only then might hardcore actors such as the IRGC be deterred. – Washington Institute

Shawn Bunting writes: The past five years should be a wake-up call to U.S. Navy and Marine Corps planners. Iran’s proxies have developed the requisite capability to challenge the U.S. Navy’s sea control in the eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea. Now, U.S. forces should begin preparing for a potential Iranian proxy fleet-in-being strategy. Planners should include red cells simulating Iranian proxy fleets-in-being during wargames for both regions. An Iranian proxy fleet-in-being should also be included during course of action development in contingency and operational planning for combatant commands. Planners should not only develop strategies to counter a proxy fleet-in-being strategy, but also be prepared for the impact it could have further afield, such as in the western Pacific. By taking these initial steps, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps will avoid being surprised by a 330-year-old strategy. – War on the Rocks

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Pro-Iran media and Iran’s own regime media often have message discipline. This means that the region has a message and then that message trickles down to Iran’s own media, the pro-regime media ecosystem and then the regional pro-Iran media. This means that often what Iran is thinking is very transparent, because it has a top-down approach to broadcasting its views and propaganda. Sometimes this can also serve as a warning or predictor of the regime behavior. The regime thinks Israel is being challenged internally. Iran therefore has increased tensions on the northern border and sought to increase threats from Jenin and Hamas. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran has recently encouraged Hezbollah to increase tensions on Israel’s northern border. In addition, Tehran has been backing Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas to increase threats in the West Bank, including encouraging them to use EFP (explosively formed projectile) explosives against vehicles in and around Jenin. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

The Kremlin is attempting one of the most complex corporate takeovers in history, seeking to seize control of the Wagner paramilitary group’s sprawling global empire. – Wall Street Journal

When Ukraine launched its big counteroffensive this spring, Western military officials knew Kyiv didn’t have all the training or weapons—from shells to warplanes—that it needed to dislodge Russian forces. But they hoped Ukrainian courage and resourcefulness would carry the day. – Wall Street Journal

Moscow’s withdrawal from an international grain export agreement this week has pushed Russia and Ukraine to the brink of a new phase in their war, threatening Black Sea shipping lanes that supply much of the world’s food. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration is holding firm, for now at least, on its refusal to send long-range Army missiles to Ukraine despite mounting pressure from U.S. lawmakers and pleas from the government in Kyiv, according to U.S. officials. – Washington Post

In a year and a half of conflict, land mines — along with unexploded bombs, artillery shells and other deadly byproducts of war — have contaminated a swath of Ukraine roughly the size of Florida or Uruguay. It has become the world’s most mined country. – Washington Post

Russian authorities on Friday detained Igor Girkin, a former Russian commander in Ukraine and prominent war blogger, reportedly on charges of promoting extremism — marking the first time Moscow has taken action against a fervent supporter of the war in Ukraine but one who voiced loud criticism of Russian leaders and their often botched military strategy. – Washington Post

Russian authorities said they destroyed two attack drones targeting Moscow on Monday morning in what they called a strike by Ukrainian forces. No one was injured, they said. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. – New York Times

The civilian toll is rising in Odesa, the Ukrainian port city that has been under relentless attack by Russian forces in the past week after the Kremlin pulled out of an agreement that allowed for the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. – New York Times

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was pushing forward with diplomatic efforts on Saturday to reopen the Black Sea to Ukraine’s grain shipments, strategizing with NATO’s chief a day after discussing with the Turkish president the collapse of a deal that allowed ships to bypass Russia’s blockade. – New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that while Ukraine has recaptured half the territory that Russia initially seized in its invasion, Kyiv faced “a very hard fight” to win back more. – Reuters

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Monday that it had found traces of explosives on a ship travelling from Turkey to the port of Rostov-on-Don in Russia to pick up grain. – Reuters

A Ukrainian drone strike Saturday caused a massive explosion at an ammunition depot in Russia-annexed Crimea, forcing the evacuation of nearby homes in the latest attack since Moscow canceled a landmark grain deal amid Kyiv’s grinding efforts to retake its occupied territories. – Associated Press

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: There is only one outcome of this conflict that would be in the interests of the free world, of Ukraine and, ultimately, of the Russian people: resounding defeat for Putin, to be followed by political change in Russia and a Marshall Plan-type international assistance program both to rebuild Ukraine and to help post-Putin Russia build a functioning democracy so that it never again becomes a threat to its own people or its neighbors. That is the only way to make sure Europe can finally become whole, free and at peace — and stay that way. – Washington Post

Bret Stephens writes: Today, it is Poland’s neighbors in Ukraine who are magnificently unreconciled to invasion. What I learned from four days under closed skies is never to take a bustling airport scene like this for granted. – New York Times

Douglas MacKinnon writes: Biden and his team may want to keep sending unaccounted-for billions to Ukraine, but more Americans seem to want to pump the brakes heading into the next series of endless curves. A trend which is likely to grow as the American people take a harder look at the horrific consequences of the war while also deciding to view Zelensky at ground level instead atop a pedestal. – The Hill

Austin Wu writes: American leaders should be well aware of the consequences that protracted warfare can have on a state — our experiences in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan all resulted in massive human costs and the destruction of economic and governmental institutions. Regardless of whether or not Ukraine “wins” the war, Europe and the U.S. will be forced to reckon with both a failed state dependent on foreign aid and a protracted migrant crisis that rivals the one that Europe already faces with the Middle East and North Africa. Only this time, the crisis will sit on the West’s doorstep. – The Hill

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: The conflict in Ukraine hath wrought all of this. That nation’s iconic sunflowers have sprung up in and around the Kremlin and Lubyanka Square; like Venus flytraps they are ravenously devouring those whose usefulness to the Putin regime has run out. – The Hill

Javier Blas writes: If wheat prices don’t surge, Washington and Brussels will either have to accept the Russian blockade, offer concessions to Moscow, or pay Eastern European nations large subsidies to accept Ukrainian wheat. None of those is a good option, but Kyiv is going to need help. The collapse of the grain corridor, alongside the overland route to its Eastern European neighbors, will cost Ukraine dearly. More is at stake than just the cost of breakfast. – Bloomberg

Andreas Kluth writes: Knowing that America has its back, a country like South Africa could then prepare differently for a visit by Putin, and get the shackles ready. And that’s the goal. We want Putin and his ilk to see their own future Nuremberg Trials as a real possibility. If he fears that, let him stay cooped up in the Kremlin, for all the world to see his guilt and shame. – Bloomberg

Kori Schake writes: U.S. intelligence about Russian actions has been excellent — America should publicize any Russian preparations. The United States should tell the Russians that if any preparations are perceived, America will give Ukraine both the targeting and weapons to pre-empt Russian use. If the United States fails to prevent nuclear use, it should send NATO response teams to Ukraine to help manage the effects and help defend Ukraine. And the United States should be clear that it will hunt down and either kill or drag to The Hague anyone who participated in the decision or carried out the order. While the United States and its allies are unlikely to reach into Russia to seize Putin and other complicit Russians, this would prevent them leaving the country and holding assets abroad, while risking being turned over by future Russian governments. – War on the Rocks


Israel’s parliament on Sunday pushed ahead with plans to vote on the first part of a judicial overhaul that has sharply divided the country, as mass protests intensify and thousands of military reservists say they will refuse to report for duty. – Wall Street Journal

Israel braced for a resurgence of domestic turmoil Friday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed aside objections to his government’s looming vote to limit the Supreme Court’s power, dashing hopes he would find a last-minute way to defuse an unprecedented crisis of governance. – Washington Post

Israel’s year of chaos neared a crescendo Sunday as thousands of military pilots and soldiers threatened not to report for volunteer duty if the far-right government refuses to back down from a planned vote on limiting the power of the Supreme Court. Tens of thousands of citizens filled the streets, some spending their sixth night outdoors, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was rushed to the hospital for an emergency cardiac procedure. – Washington Post

A plan by Israel’s far-right government to limit the powers of the Supreme Court has plunged the country into crisis, setting off widespread social unrest and drawing extraordinary opposition from the military and senior security officials. – Washington Post

When tens of thousands of Israelis marched up to Jerusalem this weekend to protest the far-right government’s plan to limit judicial power, many were driven by an urgent fear that the government is trying to steal the country that their parents and grandparents fought to build against the odds. – New York Times

With his country on knife’s edge over his campaign to rein in the power of the judiciary, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was rushed to the hospital early Sunday morning to have a heart pacemaker fitted. – New York Times

A miles-long column of antigovernment demonstrators marched into Jerusalem on Saturday evening, turning the main road to the city into a sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags, to protest the far-right government’s plan to limit judicial power. – New York Times

More than a thousand pilots and other personnel in the Israeli Air Force reserve said on Friday that they would stop reporting for duty next week if the government pushes through a contentious plan to reduce judicial power without broader consensus. – New York Times

When Israeli Supreme Court judges overruled a decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January to award the Finance Ministry to an ally convicted of tax fraud, some of the justices used a contentious legal concept to block the move. – New York Times

The chief executives of Israel’s two largest banks on Friday called on the government to halt its highly disputed legislative push to overhaul the judiciary, and warned of economic fallout should they continue. – Reuters

Nearly 70% of Israeli startups have taken action to relocate parts of their business outside Israel, a survey released on Sunday by an Israeli non-profit organisation on the government’s planned judicial overhaul found. – Reuters

Israeli forces on Saturday shot and killed a Palestinian in disputed circumstances in the northern part of the occupied West Bank — the latest in an ongoing surge of violence that has gripped the region. – Associated Press

Israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian boy in the occupied West Bank Friday, Palestinian health officials said, the latest bloodshed in a more than year-long cycle of violence that has gripped the region. – Associated Press

US President Joe Biden is making a last-ditch effort to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reconsider a vote on a reform of Israel’s judicial branch. – Bloomberg

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen on Sunday called for the government to halt the judicial overhaul and return to negotiations, saying the advancement of the legislative package was causing an immediate threat to national security. – Times of Israel

The Palestinian Authority security forces on Sunday released a senior Hamas official who was arrested last Thursday on charges of slandering Palestinian officials and fomenting sectarian strife, paving the way for the Gaza-based terror group to participate in a meeting of faction leaders in Egypt at the end of this month  – Jerusalem Post

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces broke out in the West Bank refugee camp of Nur Shams, close to Tulkarem, early Monday morning, with Palestinian health officials reporting at least 13 wounded. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Compromise is difficult, especially for those firmly convinced that only they are right. But compromise is essential now as internal divisions widen, chipping away at Israel’s solidarity and cohesion and undoubtedly whetting the appetite of Israel’s enemies. Compromise is not a sign of surrender, weakness or giving in. On the contrary, it is the most crucial need of the hour. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Netanyahu’s allies in the coalition need to realize that their ambitions for comprehensive reform will result in a small victory for them but a potential calamity for the country. If we don’t want to see Shauli’s Eretz Nehederet vision of a civil war turn into a reality, then Netanyahu must act now. He can cement his legacy as the man who brought Israel back from the brink. – Jerusalem Post

Nicholas Kristof writes: There’s a legitimate counterargument that any reduction in aid could be perceived as a pullback of support for Israel in ways that might invite aggression by, say, Iran. That risk can be mitigated by approaching the issue as a long-term discussion for the next bilateral memorandum of understanding about aid, due by 2028 and likely to stand for 10 years, and by reaching other security agreements with Israel (as Beilin and Kurtzer recommend). […]The issue is politically sensitive, of course. Just a couple of years ago, more than 325 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter opposing any drop in aid to Israel. – New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman writes: There is a huge difference between making the Israeli Supreme Court more politically and ethnically inclusive and making this Israeli government immune from its scrutiny — especially in a system in which the high court in Israel is the only real check on executive overreach. And the latter is what Netanyahu’s coalition is up to, and it is the latter that undermines not just our shared values with Israel but also our own strategic interests, which we are entitled — indeed we are required — to defend. – New York Times

Jonathan Panikoff writes: And that is the challenge of misalignment as a whole. Allies can always agree to disagree on policies. But when they begin to be out of sync on too many of them, it can threaten to alter the contours of the broader relationship, no matter how strong. Such a policy chasm is not going to jeopardize the U.S.-Israel relationship today; but if it continues and widens, it can in the future. At some point this year, Biden will probably meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. How it goes will depend on whether or not the US and Israel are better aligned. – The National Interest

Susan Hattis Rolef writes: Nevertheless, let us hope that by this evening some miracle will occur, and one, or some of the following will convince him to change course: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Histadrut leader Arnon Ben-David, or the hundreds, or even thousands, of representatives of large businesses, and the hundreds of thousands of worried but determined demonstrators – and an awareness of the fact that if he does not change course Israel might deteriorate into a state of chaos. – Jerusalem Post


Hezbollah-affiliated cleric Sheikh Sadiq al-Nabulsi stated that a war with Israel could “deliver” Lebanon from its ongoing political and economic crisis in an interview with the Lebanese Al-Jadeed TV earlier this month, according to a translation published by MEMRI. – Jerusalem Post

Standoffs between the IDF and the Lebanese army could escalate with serious consequences, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council in a 19-page report on the deteriorating situation along Israel’s northern border. – Jerusalem Post

A former high-ranking Israeli official hinted to i24NEWS on Thursday that there may have already been a response to Hezbollah’s outposts in Israel’s territory, as well as to demonstrations of the Lebanese terror group’s supporters on the border. Former Israeli national security advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat rejected allegations that Israel is acting with “restraint” towards Hezbollah, alluding to actions “being implemented under the radar.” – i24news


Iraq renewed its agreement to provide Lebanon with up to 2 million tons of crude oil for a year, Lebanese energy ministry said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters

The Iraqi government sought to reassure diplomatic missions in the country of their security on Saturday, saying it would not allow a recurrence of the storming of the Swedish embassy. – Reuters

Several thousand Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad on Saturday over the burning or damaging of the Koran during anti-Islam protests in Sweden and Denmark, in a gathering called by ruling Iraqi parties and armed groups, many close to Iran. – Reuters

A former senior member of an intelligence agency linked to a powerful Iraqi Kurdish party was killed Sunday night when a car he was in exploded in the city of Dohuk in the semi-autnomous Kurdistan region, a security source told Reuters and Kurdish news channel Rudaw reported. – Reuters


Turkey will act to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership bid in conjunction with cooperation from Stockholm in the fight against terrorism, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Friday as saying. – Reuters

The Treaty of Lausanne that formed modern Turkey is still cherished by some but remains a disappointment for others including Kurds and Armenians who hoped for autonomous regions and justice for Ottoman-era crimes. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet next week to discuss energy and trade to advance a nascent thaw after more than a decade of tensions. – Bloomberg

PA President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to begin on Monday a three-day visit to Turkey at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also expected to visit Ankara a few days after Abbas. – Jerusalem Post

Aidan Springs writes: But now Erdogan faces another challenge. Russia has pulled out of the grain deal. What Erdogan will do next is unclear. What is clear, however, is that Erdogan now needs the West more than it needs him. Erdogan’s failure to rebuild the Turkish economy after the COVID-19 pandemic and his refusal to raise interest rates have driven the nation into hyperinflation. It has also caused many of the nation’s investors to turn away from the ailing economy. – Washington Examiner

Arabian Peninsula

Yemeni police on Saturday arrested two suspects in the killing of a senior World Food Program official the previous day, authorities said. Ten others were also detained for their alleged involvement in the killing of Moayad Hameidi, who had recently arrived in the country to take the post of the head of the World Food Program in the southwestern province of Taiz. – Associated Press

Since Saudi Arabia has accelerated its reform steps and its economic and social openness, observers, as well as the media, have intensified their expectations of disagreements between the two sides over business and influence in particular. Despite the repeated denials on both sides, sometimes through direct statements and sometimes through mutual visits to officials, talk continued about tensions, which were reinforced by the absence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Prince Mohammed bin Salman from important summits held in the two countries. Are the two friends become rivals? – An-Nahar

Qatar’s Minister of State Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al Khulaifi is in Iran this week. He held meetings on Sunday with Iranian officials. According to reports he met Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. – Jerusalem Post

Ahmed Nagi writes: Finally, negotiations should not be limited to armed entities that have gained legitimacy through battle. The talks should also comprise political and social groups, including those that represent women and young people. In the long term, the country must do more than forge temporary deals between groups. It can achieve a sustainable peace if the local conflicts that started this civil war are no longer obscured by a regional proxy war. – Foreign Affairs

Middle East & North Africa

The U.S. military said it was sending additional warships and Marines to the Middle East in an effort to deter Iran from seizing more ships in the region. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the new forces to the region, the Pentagon said late Thursday, after the U.S. Navy thwarted separate attempts earlier this month by Iran to seize two oil tankers in international waters in the Gulf of Oman. A U.S. military official said the move didn’t come in response to a specific new threat, but to the Iranian actions. – Wall Street Journal

The Dutch caretaker government has lifted restrictions on weapons deliveries to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a move to join a Franco-German-Spanish arms treaty. – Reuters

Army and security chiefs from Jordan and Syria met on Sunday to curb a growing drug trade along their mutual border that has seen deadly skirmishes, blamed mainly on pro-Iranian militias who hold sway in southern Syria. – Reuters

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius has cancelled a planned trip to Iraq and Jordan, a ministry spokesperson said on Sunday, citing security concerns after the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad was set alight last week in a protest over Koran burnings. – Reuters

A high-profile Egyptian activist who was recently released from prison landed Sunday in Italy, where the government championed his case. – Associated Press

Mon’im Omer writes: Despite numerous action plans, summits, and promises made by regional stakeholders, little has been achieved in bringing both the SAF and RSF to the negotiating table for a lasting solution. Egypt, in particular, has failed to put into action its plans for helping Sudan get out of its crisis, producing no workable options to defuse the situation, begin genuine negotiations, safeguard supply convoys, preserve humanitarian corridors, or even open an inclusive dialogue. In order to resume Jeddah talks again, regional powers must obtain strict commitments from both the RSF and SAF to end the conflict, and regional powers, themselves, must commit to seeing their promises through. – Washington Institute

Emad Bouzo writes: Yet recent announcements over Telegram that the Wagner Group is seeking Arabic and French translators, concurrent with statements that it had turned over thousands of weapons and thousands of tons of ammunition to the Russian army, suggest that whatever the fate of the Wagner Group in Eastern Europe, the group will continue its activities abroad in countries such as Syria. Syrians are still likely facing a future with the Wagner Group in some form or another, given the ways in which this group has become incorporated into the fabric of the Assad regime. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired several cruise missiles shortly after a U.S. nuclear submarine deployed as a show of strength against Pyongyang’s threats left the Korean Peninsula. – Wall Street Journal

A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine arrived in South Korea on Monday, only days after the first U.S. nuclear armed submarine made port in the country in four decades, as the two allies seek to boost American strategic assets to deter North Korea. – Reuters

Conversations have begun between the United Nations Command and North Korea over the case of U.S. soldier Travis King who crossed into the North, the deputy commander of the U.S.-led multinational command that oversees the Korean War truce said on Monday. – Reuters

The chair of the House Foreign Affairs panel said Sunday he’s worried about the American soldier who crossed last week into North Korea. – Politico

What will North Korea do about the first U.S. soldier in decades to flee into its territory? Its official media have yet to mention Pvt. Travis King, there’s little precedent for his situation and guesses about the country’s next steps vary widely. – Associated Press

The United Nations Command has started talks with North Korea’s military on the status of a US soldier who crossed the border last week, a top officer told reporters Monday in Seoul without offering further details. – Bloomberg


The Biden administration’s attempt to surgically cut economic ties with China is proving difficult to execute. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited Vietnam this week to discuss her push for “friendshoring,” a term she uses to call for companies to shift supply chains from China to friendlier nations. Trade between the U.S. and Vietnam has exploded in the last five years, reaching roughly $140 billion in 2022 from $60 billion in 2018. – Wall Street Journal

China’s leadership is lavishing the country’s beleaguered private sector with a sweeping show of support as a nascent economic recovery falters. But grand declarations and rhetoric alone won’t suffice, say economists and investors. Sluggish domestic demand and a widely held view that Beijing still favors its state-owned enterprises mean that sentiment among the private business owners—a group that accounts for most of the economy’s dynamism and hiring—isn’t likely to turn around, at least not in the near term. – Wall Street Journal

Top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi proposed high-level talks between China, Japan and South Korea in a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister in Indonesia this month, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday. – Reuters

China and Russia on Sunday wrapped up an air and naval exercise in the Sea of Japan aimed at “safeguarding” the security of waterways, the Chinese defence ministry said. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron’s top diplomatic adviser said China was delivering items that could be used as military equipment to Russia, although not on a massive scale. – Reuters

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Friday she still plans to visit China later this year despite the reported Chinese hacking of her department’s emails. – Reuters

There’s a new divide fracturing congressional Republicans — over how hard to go after China. Some GOP national security hawks want broad oversight on U.S. investment in Chinese tech businesses, concerned that American banks are helping fund Beijing’s military development. But they’re facing off against lawmakers with ties to Wall Street — part of the GOP’s traditional coalition — who worry about expanding regulations over business abroad. – Politico

Editorial: Yet the bounty on these dissidents is comparable to, or higher than, what Hong Kong has placed on suspected murderers, rapists and other violent criminals. The authorities shut down the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily and seized its assets without due process. These are the risks to those who irritate the Communist Party—and apparently also their relatives. Whatever Mr. Lee says, anyone considering business in Hong Kong will have to consider carefully whether it’s safe to move a family into the city. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: Ultimately, the fate of Qin Gang is inconsequential; Xi can always elevate another one of his yes men. But what is very consequential is that Xi doesn’t seem to feel compelled to explain to the world what’s going on. The CCP’s growing secrecy adds more risk to dealing with China on every level. – Washington Post

Sergey Radchenko writes: China remains the same secretive, self-serving Communist Party state that it was in Mao’s day, with an outlook on global politics in which alignments are viewed as temporary. There are no “good feelings,” as Mr. Geng put it five decades ago, just cold calculation. The West, so concerned today about this newly united front between China and Russia, should remember that. So should Mr. Putin. – New York Times

Daniel W. Drezner writes: The Xi-Kissinger lovefest will not matter a whit when it comes to Sino-American relations. When Republicans are criticizing Biden for being soft on China, you know it’s an inhospitable political climate for China. Both Xi and Kissinger’s preference for a bygone era of Sino-American comity will matter little inside the Beltway. For at least a day, however, Chinese officials could reminisce about the era when the watchword was engagement, and Kissinger can smile that he has maintained his relevancy for yet another news media cycle. – Politico

Liz Peek writes: Biden tiptoes a careful and dangerous line, needing to appear tough on China because Americans consider Beijing a serious threat. At the same time, Biden appears fearful of offending officials who could conceivably destroy his presidency. That Biden may be compromised is dangerous not only for the president, but also for the United States. – The Hill

Minxin Pei writes: China’s real problem, however, isn’t that Western leaders don’t properly understand its perspectives, and require the help of experienced China hands to appreciate them. It’s that China’s own policies have alienated and frightened the West, bringing ties to a historic low. Until leaders in Beijing adjust that confrontational stance, their carefully nurtured connections aren’t likely to lead anywhere. – Bloomberg

Richard Weitz writes: The exchanges have probably established the basis for more frequent lower-level staff meetings in the months ahead in bilateral working groups and other mechanisms. However, it will likely require a Biden-Xi presidential meeting, which may occur later this year, for authoritative substantive policy changes. Even then, the Chinese government may prudently await the results of the November 2024 U.S. elections before making major decisions. – ChinaUS Focus

David P. Goldman writes: To maintain a technological edge over China, we will have to spend an additional several hundred billions of dollars, train a highly-skilled workforce, educate or import more scientists and engineers, and provide broader incentives to manufacturing. It is simply too late to try to suppress China. That is no longer within our power. What remains within our power is to restore American pre-eminence. – The National Interest

South Asia

Talks between Britain and India on a free trade agreement (FTA) have gained momentum but further work is needed on services and tariffs to secure a deal, a British source close to the negotiations told Reuters. – Reuters

Sri Lanka is considering the possibility of allowing the use of the Indian rupee for local transactions, as the island nation struggles to build its depleted foreign reserves and to emerge from last year’s unprecedented economic crisis. – Associated Press

Andrew Baker writes: Thousands of lives and trillions of dollars later, the American people deserve to understand why it was so much easier to prolong a fruitless war than to seek a functional peace. Of all the questions the AWC could attempt to answer, this is the most profound. Understanding how and why and when to start or control or stop a fight is the most essential function of statecraft. The Afghanistan War Commission offers America a chance, unique for our generation, to ask whether the U.S. government could have done a better job in Afghanistan and could do a better job in the future of navigating the perils of the very dangerous world we now face. We owe it to ourselves and future generations alike to get this right. – The National Interest


At this military firing range in Australia’s north, American jet fighters dropped 500-pound bombs on a hillside. Korean, Australian and American artillery units opened fire soon after. A Japanese surface-to-air missile system stood nearby. – Wall Street Journal

Japan’s imposition of export controls on chip making tools to align with a U.S. policy restricting China’s ability to produce advanced semiconductors is worrying some officials in Tokyo who believe a combative U.S. approach may hamper coordination and needlessly provoke Beijing. – Reuters

Cities across northern Taiwan ordered cars off roads and people to stay indoors on Monday for an annual air-raid exercise as the island steps up preparations in the event of a Chinese attack amid rising military threats from Beijing. – Reuters

The Chinese embassy in Japan said on Monday that NATO’s plan to expand into the Asia-Pacific violates U.N. rules and hoped Japan, in its interaction with NATO, would refrain from actions that undermine trust among countries in the region. – Reuters

The United States said it was pausing some foreign assistance programs in Cambodia and imposing visa bans on individuals it says undermined democracy after the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) declared a landslide victory in elections on Sunday. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping will start a two-day visit to the southwestern city of Chengdu on Thursday, opening the World University Games and receiving foreign leaders including Indonesian President Joko Widodo. – Bloomberg

The Senate intends to provide Taiwan with grants to purchase more U.S. military equipment, but the chamber’s bill sets up a showdown with Republican House appropriators who want even more money for the nation while slashing the overall foreign aid budget. – Defense News

John Bolton writes: Sales of weapons systems are an important way the U.S. strengthens its Asian allies, as Mr. Macron understands. Furious at losing a submarine deal with Australia to the U.S. and Britain, he celebrated Bastille Day with Indian Prime Minister Modi, announcing beforehand some $9 billion in weapons sales. While the U.S. might prefer that New Delhi purchase American arms, any non-Russian acquisitions diminish India’s reliance on Soviet technology, hopefully drawing India closer to NATO interoperability standards, and inevitably throw shade on Beijing. – Wall Street Journal


While Europe has worked hard to close security gaps since Russia invaded Ukraine, a tiny island group in the North Atlantic provides a loophole for Russian ships to fish and dock in its waters and ports, among them vessels accused of spying and sabotage. – Wall Street Journal

There is limited political will in Sweden to ban Koran burnings that have upset large parts of the Muslim world and it would be complicated to do even if there were backing for such a move, experts and politicians said on Friday. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s counteroffensive “has failed” as he hosted Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, his close ally, for talks in St Petersburg on Sunday. – Reuters

Bulgaria has agreed to provide the Ukrainian army with some 100 armored personnel carriers, marking a turnaround in the NATO member’s policy on sending military equipment to Kyiv following the appointment of a new, pro-Western government. – Associated Press

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has suspended the status of Sweden’s special envoy over a string of Quran burnings in Stockholm that sparked anger and mass protests in a number of Muslim countries. – Associated Press

John Schindler writes: What happens next is anybody’s guess. After a decade in power, it will be difficult for Rama to simply step aside. Moreover, as long as the Socialists keep rigging elections, nothing may change in Albania anyway. To boot, the support of the Soros family with its wealth has been pivotal to Socialist rule in Tirana. Republicans in Congress should have questions about what’s really going on here and why the Biden White House keeps tolerating these rogue Balkan antics. – Washington Examiner

Lionel Laurent writes: The bad blood left by this saga is obvious; the benefits to Europe’s wider goals of strategic autonomy are not. The EU still has no Google of its own, and now has one less expert willing to tackle it. My aspirations lie with the EU’s hopes to become a stronger, more independent geopolitical actor. But after this week’s pile-on, my sympathies lie with whoever follows Scott Morton. – Bloomberg

Noah Barkin writes: Berlin must demonstrate over the remainder of 2023 that these are not empty promises. As Europe’s largest economy and the EU country with the closest economic relationship with China, Germany should be leading this policy debate, not acting as a brake on Brussels, as it has so often in the past. As it begins to draw red lines in its technological relationship with China, Germany shouldn’t shy away from pushing Washington toward a more ambitious trade agenda. – Foreign Policy

Mark Elovitz writes: Incidentally, it is clear that NATO nations have already “armed” themselves by implementing sanctions against Russia. Are such sanctions weapons of war? If not why not? Does it matter the means used to bring an adversary to its knees? If Russia had cut off Germany’s once desperately needed gas and thereby caused Germans to freeze to death this past winter, would that not also have been a casus belli under Article 5? What if an aberrant Russian cruise missile, aimed at Kyiv, mistakenly flew off course and exploded in Krakow, killing thousands? Indeed, the ambiguity surrounding what constitutes an armed attack on NATO seethes with unintended consequences. – Jerusalem Post


Algeria has applied to join the BRICS group and submitted a request to become a shareholder member of BRICS Bank with an amount of $1.5 billion, Ennahar TV quoted Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune as saying. – Reuters

Clashes flared in parts of Sudan on the 100th day of the war on Sunday as mediation attempts by regional and international powers failed to find a path out of an increasingly intractable conflict. – Reuters

A war that broke out in mid-April between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Response Forces (RSF) has devastated the capital Khartoum, caused a sharp increase in ethnically-driven violence in Darfur, and displaced over three million people. – Reuters

The Americas

A retired officer of Canada’s national police force was charged Friday with foreign interference after spying for the Chinese government and targeting an individual on its behalf, the authorities said. – New York Times

Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arevalo called a Friday police raid on his party headquarters a “corrupt” show of political persecution just a month before a high-stakes run-off election, as the U.S. and EU echoed his condemnation. – Reuters

Mexico has been hit with three sets of trade arbitration proceedings in the past few days, according to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). – Reuters

Arturo McFields Yescas writes: The dictatorships of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela are already salivating over the $50 billion investment announced by the EU. The tyrants have won impunity, legitimacy, and a juicy slice of the financial pie. Will this fresh start in the EU foreign policy toward Latin America bring new times of prosperity and democracy come? Or will new dictatorships emerge? – The Hill

United States

The Biden administration is threatening to sue the state of Texas for placing floating border barriers in the middle of the Rio Grande, the latest sign of escalating tensions with federal officials over Gov. Greg Abbott’s crackdown on migrants. – Washington Post

This year’s gathering of foreign policy elites in the Rocky Mountains drew big names, such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But who wasn’t there — and what wasn’t said — was perhaps as significant as the featured speakers and panels at the annual Aspen Security Forum. – Politico

Sweden, whose embassy at Baghdad was set on fire early this morning, is discovering that the breadth of its freedoms risks placing the peace-preaching Nordic country at the forefront of the clash of civilizations. The Biden administration condemned the embassy torching, but it may be out of its depth when it comes to the new tensions. Some Iraqis believe the Islamic Republic of Iran is driving events in Sweden and Iraq, stoking  a clash between champions of free speech and devout Muslims. – New York Sun

Editorial: Sanctions, as attractive as they are, rarely work without specific goals combined with criteria for sanctions to be lifted. That applies to current as well as future sanctions. Without goals and relief criteria, these measures — among the most severe in the U.S. foreign policy arsenal — risk working against American interests and principles in the long run. – New York Times

Dov S. Zakheim writes: The net result would be a truly incentivized acquisition corps led by equally far-sighted senior officers and officials. Coupled with the recommendations the Task Force has put forward, such an approach could help the Defense Department ensure that its warfighters will continue to benefit in timely fashion from the highest technology capabilities for many years to come. – The Hill


When Google opened a new office in Kitchener, Ontario, in 2016, it welcomed a special guest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who months earlier swept to power in a campaign that leveraged digital tools, praised the tech giant for “always” working “very, very hard not just to be a good corporate citizen, but to be a strong and active player in Canada.” – Washington Post

Twelve Norwegian government ministries have been hit by a cyber attack, Norway’s Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development said in a statement on Monday. – Reuters

Two banks have been targeted by open-source software supply chain attacks in recent months in what researchers are calling the first such incidents of their kind. In separate operations in February and April, the perpetrators uploaded packages carrying malicious scripts to the npm open-source software platform, analysts at Checkmarx said. – The Record

The United Kingdom arm of shipping giant DHL said it is investigating a data breach sourced back to its use of the MOVEit software, which has been exploited by a Russia-based ransomware group for nearly two months. – The Record

Microsoft is disputing a new report that claims hackers may have had access to more parts of victims’ systems than previously known in a campaign that targeted dozens of organizations, including government agencies. – The Record

Seven major companies building powerful artificial intelligence software have signed onto a new set of voluntary commitments to oversee how the technology is used. These commitments are focused on AI safety, cybersecurity, and public trust, and come as the White House develops an upcoming executive order and bipartisan legislation focused on AI. – CyberScoop

On June 19, 2022, false rocket-warning sirens were activated in Jerusalem and Eilat, caused by a stunning cyber attack by Iran. Israel’s cyber authorities at the time tried to downplay the hack, which seemed to have significant national security implications. – Jerusalem Post


President Joe Biden has chosen Adm. Lisa Franchetti to lead the Navy, an unprecedented choice that, if she is confirmed, will make her the first woman to be a Pentagon service chief and the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. – Associated Press

The U.S. Navy leveraged air and surface drones throughout its two-week UNITAS 2023 naval exercise near Latin America, the first major event since service leadership announced the region would host the sea service’s second unmanned operations hub. – Defense News

The Defense Innovation Unit is about to enter its technology scaling era. Founded in 2015 to help create a bridge between Silicon Valley startups and the Pentagon, the organization’s early work has focused on building partnerships and proving the value of commercial technology for military needs. – Defense News

Can a combination of crowd-sourced photography and smartphone software improve air defenses? The U.S. Army is willing to find out. In trials earlier this month, soldiers in South Carolina used government-issued phones to capture and share images of a drone overhead using a nascent application known as CARPE Dronvm. – C4ISRNET

Tom Rogan writes: This is not to say that Franchetti is a weak candidate. On the contrary, the admiral has commanded carrier strike groups and served in numerous positions on various destroyers. She knows the nuts and bolts of the Navy. As the current vice chief of naval operations, Franchetti has experience in how to do the top job. Nevertheless, the PLA is coming, and the United States needs leaders best placed to confront that threat with maximum efficacy. Measured by mission needs and comparative experience, Paparo’s nomination for the top job should have been a no-brainer. – Washington Examiner

Sean Monaghan and Deborah Cheverton write: America’s network of friends is unrivaled — and a critical source of advantage in the strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party and other lonely autocrats. Yet without bold action to reform information sharing, export and technology controls, and joint strategic planning, the “Allies and Partners” strand of the National Defense Strategy will remain a bumper-sticker slogan. Time is of the essence. While allies and partners are a priority for Biden, this may not be the case for the next administration. The U.S.-led campaign to support Ukraine hints at what good looks like with intelligence sharing, joint planning, training, co-production, and coordination with allies central to these efforts — and the benefits of getting it right. The challenge is doing it before war breaks out, to deter it in the first place. – War on the Rocks

Long War

Ziyad al-Nakhala, Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, announced on Sunday that the movement will boycott a meeting of Palestinian factions scheduled to take place in Cairo on July 30. – Times of Israel

Police in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip swarmed a mosque and arrested a prominent religious figure affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group this week. Sheikh Yahya Mansour’s hand was broken by police during the arrest on Tuesday, while PIJ members and other civilians were wounded in the raid on Rafah’s Al Awda mosque, a PIJ stronghold, the Tazpit Press Service reported, citing eyewitnesses. – Times of Israel

Nasser Abu Sharif, a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group’s political wing, has called on the Palestinian Arab groups to unite in a war against Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Confidential documents obtained by NPR provide new details about one of the most celebrated U.S. military operations in recent history — and reveal flaws in the Pentagon’s claim that deadly airstrikes did not hit civilians. In 2019, U.S. special operations forces raided the Syrian hideout of ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leading him to blow himself up. Then-President Donald Trump called the raid “impeccable,” and military officials said troops protected noncombatants. – NPR