Fdd's overnight brief

July 25, 2023

In The News


One rainy spring evening, a young Iranian mother with a mangled arm, her husband and their 3-year-old daughter met a smuggler near the Iraqi border who gave them a stern ultimatum: Ensure the child’s silence or leave her behind. – New York Times

The Iranian Air Force has launched a major exercise after the United States sent additional warships and forces to the Persian Gulf region. More than 90 aircraft and combat drones have been deployed in the Gulf and other parts of Iran as part of the maneuvers, Iranian state media reported on July 24. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Jailed Iranian dissident rapper Saman Yasin, who was detained during the nationwide protests in Iran last year, has reportedly been transferred to a psychiatric center. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The administrative building of prominent Iranian online retailer Digikala was closed by law enforcement officers on July 23 after images showing Digikala’s female employees without their mandatory hijabs circulated on social media, another sign of the government’s tighter regulation of the compulsory head-scarf law. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Qatari Minister of State Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al Khulaifi is in Iran this week and has held meetings with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, according to reports. – Jerusalem Post

Iran’s intelligence ministry announced Monday that it had disbanded a major network allegedly sponsored by Israel’s Mossad spy agency, which it claimed had planned large-scale acts of sabotage in the country. – Times of Israel

Salem Alketbi writes: The theory of Israeli superiority clashes with the increasing sense of self-confidence that Iran has felt in recent years, especially since the qualitative advancement in its military arsenal, particularly in the realm of unmanned aerial vehicles, some of which Russia has used in the war in Ukraine. We’ll have to wait for more rounds of the undercover war, until one of the parties in this conflict is convinced that the costs involved don’t outweigh the gains achieved. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

The slow pace of Ukraine’s counteroffensive against entrenched Russian invaders is dimming hopes that negotiations for an end to the fighting could come this year and raising the specter of an open-ended conflict, according to Western officials. – Wall Street Journal

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 Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, launched his attempted mutiny on the morning of June 24, Vladimir Putin was paralyzed and unable to act decisively, according to Ukrainian and other security officials in Europe. No orders were issued for most of the day, the officials said. – Washington Post

Russia for the first time on Monday attacked a port on the Danube River in Ukraine, close to the Romanian border, Ukrainian and Romanian officials said, destroying a grain hangar in an escalation of its efforts to cripple Kyiv’s agriculture and risking a more direct confrontation with the United States and its European allies. – New York Times

Transition surgery is now banned in Russia and transgender people are subject to a welter of other restrictions under a harsh new law signed by President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday. – New York Times

Dmytro Gubariev’s remains have been sitting in his bedroom for 10 months, unmoved. That’s how long his mother has been waiting to bury his ashes. – New York Times

Operators carrying out maintenance at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant have switched the shutdown mode of two reactors, the Moscow-installed administration of the plant, located on the war’s front-line, said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The head of Russia’s space agency on Monday suggested Moscow’s partners in the BRICS group – Brazil, India, China and South Africa – could build a module for its planned orbital station, the Interfax news agency reported. – Reuters

Russia launched its sixth air attack this month on Kyiv early on Tuesday, the military administration of the Ukrainian capital said, with air raid alerts blaring for more than three hours over the city and east half of the country. – Reuters

The White House said it did not support Ukraine launching attacks inside Russia after two drones from Ukraine damaged buildings in Moscow earlier on Monday. – Reuters

Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal that ensured the safe export of Ukrainian grains because the agreement lost its meaning, President Vladimir Putin wrote in an article published early on Monday. – Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on the European Union on Monday to ensure that an “unacceptable and clearly non-European” ban on Ukrainian grain imports to five countries is lifted by a Sept. 15 deadline. – Reuters

Russia spoke of taking harsh retaliatory measures against Ukraine after two drones damaged buildings in Moscow early on Monday, including one close to the Defence Ministry’s headquarters, in what it called a brazen act of terror. – Reuters

Former Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday that the United States did not need to choose between fixing problems on the home front and supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: The Biden administration and Congress can and should follow suit by giving teeth to the G-7 promise to protect Ukraine from Moscow’s predations. Ukraine’s fight against Russia is central to the West’s interests in driving back an unprovoked aggression that threatens the pillars of the world’s law-based order. – Washington Post

James Stavridis writes: Putin would fume, sputter and threaten — but is unlikely to take on NATO or a US-led coalition of Black Sea warships in direct combat. He would be well served to see how things turned out for Iran in the 1980s: multiple warships sunk, and a broken blockade. Convoys, anyone? – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: To be sure, Putin is playing a dangerous game. He is undermining any remaining moral pretense that Moscow retains with its foreign partners in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He is also clearly putting Russia’s narrow short-term interests before those nations, many of which rely on Ukrainian grain, jeopardizing his reputation as a reliable partner. At the same time, however, what Putin fears most is being seen as weak or at the mercy of the strategy of others. These strikes help deflect that image. – Washington Examiner

Mark Kelly and Tammy Duckworth write: The two of us know what it means to sacrifice for our country, but even we have never experienced what it is to fight on your own soil, with your own families and neighborhoods in harm’s way, to defend the ability of your children and their children to inherit a free homeland. Now as much as ever, we must remain steadfast in our belief in the Ukrainian people and undeterred in our work to get them the support they need. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: It would be easy to write off this rhetoric as the facile product of Russian propaganda. Still, it underlines the deeper Kremlin rage toward the U.K. Moscow had hoped the U.K.’s economic complications following Brexit would lead it to look inward and force it to retain Russian financial interests. Instead, the U.K. has seized the war in Ukraine as an opportunity to show its continued global relevance post-Brexit. The U.K. evinces a failure of foresight on Putin’s part. And few things annoy Putin and his supporters as much as evidence of Putin’s misjudgment. – Washington Examiner

Mark Temnycky writes: The recent Belgorod attacks and Wagner insurrection have presented new challenges to Putin, his government, and Russia during the war. It has left the Russians exposed, and has made them vulnerable. Russians must learn from events that this war needs to stop. Otherwise, should the unjust and unnecessary invasion continue, many more lives will be lost. – The Hill


Israel’s Parliament passed a divisive judicial overhaul, defying months of protests and plunging the country further into a political crisis that has exposed rifts over its identity and raised fears about its national security. – Wall Street Journal

For the past seven months, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest the far-right government’s effort to weaken the country’s Supreme Court and grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political allies more power. – Washington Post

The White House on Monday called it “unfortunate” that Israel’s parliament ratified part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s contested judicial overhaul, defying U.S. President Joe Biden, and again urged the prime minister to seek a broad political consensus. – Reuters

The head of Israel’s main public sector union said on Monday he would meet with other union officials to discuss the possibility of declaring a general strike after parliament ratified a key element in a controversial judicial overhaul plan. – Reuters

The Israeli military said it shot and killed three alleged Palestinian gunmen in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday, the latest bloodshed in one of the most violent stretches of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in years. – Associated Press

Investors and lawyers in Israel are weighing up their next steps as they fret over parliament passing a bill that will weaken the power of judges. – Bloomberg

Former heads of Israel’s National Security Council spoke out against recent calls for an end to US military aid to Israel. The calls, in this case, were not coming from the usual anti-Israel crowd. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian political activists and columnists are closely monitoring the controversy in Israel surrounding the judicial overhaul, but they are divided over its implications for both Israel and the Palestinians. They are also divided over the magnitude of the crisis between the US administration and the Israeli government. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Israelis in the West Bank town of Huwara on Monday night, with medics clarifying that no one was injured in the terror attack. – Times of Israel

Editorial: President Biden’s running commentary on this internal Israel debate is unseemly and looks aimed at toppling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The two ought to be working together to expand the Abraham Accords to Saudi Arabia and to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Israel’s judicial debate is far down the list of urgent problems in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: If he proceeds without compromise, the risks are great. He endangers Israel’s security, further splinters an already badly divided body politic and strains Israel’s relationship with the United States, which has repeatedly called on him to compromise. Much damage has already been done. Mr. Netanyahu should not throw more fuel on this dumpster fire but start to find a way out of the crisis. – Washington Post

Editorial: So it is not our purpose here to oppose the reform law currently before the Knesset. The Supreme Court, even in terms of existing law, has jumped its tracks, blocking the government from appointing a minister of its choice because the court found him “unreasonable.” That is a symptom of the runaway nature of this court. The current reform measures, though, are best seen as a step toward  the redemption of Israel’s founding constitutional promise. – New York Sun

Bobby Ghosh writes: But if holding back assistance is out of question, Biden should be able to use America’s manifest interest in maintaining Israeli military strength as the basis of an argument against Netanyahu’s legislative overreach. The decision by thousands of reservists to forswear voluntary duty in response to the judicial overhaul represents a danger to the security of Israel and the wider Middle East. General Herzl Halevi, the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, has acknowledged that the cohesion of the country’s military has been endangered. This, more than weak shibboleths about democracy, should be the frame for Biden’s conversations with Netanyahu about the crisis Israel’s leader has created. – Bloomberg

Benny Avni writes: Mr. Nasrallah has been making provocations even before the legislation efforts started, she adds. Since then he sensed that the IDF’s reaction was far from forceful. As Tisha B’Av nears, Israelis remember the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 c.e. Many now pray that despite current divisions, history will remain in the past. – New York Sun

Tom Rogan writes: Of particular Israeli consternation is the Biden administration’s continued dedication to appeasing Iran. Biden is failing to consolidate Israeli deterrence against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s nuclear program. At the same time, however, Netanyahu’s effort to strengthen ties with China is a growing concern for both parties in Congress. Even status quo Israeli tech cooperation with China should be a red line for the U.S., let alone the improved cooperation that Netanyahu apparently seeks. Top line: When it comes to Netanyahu’s government, Monday’s legislative victory is only the harbinger of far riskier political icebergs. – Washington Examiner

Micah Halpern writes: There are those who think that Herzog should have been less diplomatic, that he should have been more forceful, and that he should have been more critical of Israel’s enemies. I disagree. In seven words, he said it all. “True peace cannot be anchored in violence.” – Jerusalem Post

Zina Rakhamilova writes: No matter what new way members of the Squad choose to demonize Israel, we will continue to fight for what is morally right on the streets. The fact that we can, and care enough to do so, is why we are the only country in the region that can truly be America’s ally. – Jerusalem Post


The Taliban-led government says at least 38 people have been killed and 57 injured in floods that have raged across Afghanistan in recent days. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A news website in Iran has claimed that authorities are encouraging the growth of the Afghan population with incentives such as subsidized energy and food. – Iran International

Callum spent two-and-a-half weeks in Afghanistan in August last year, and is one of a growing number of Westerners who are travelling to the country for tourism. The Taliban government is keen for more to come – no surprise when the 7,000 tourists it claims have visited since it took power in August 2021, have brought with them £6.2m of crucial foreign exchange. – The Telegraph

The United Nations is the custodian of billions of dollars of international assistance meant for the hungry and needy of Afghanistan, where around half the population is said to depend on outside help just to stay alive. Yet the agencies entrusted with delivering that aid have been “effectively infiltrated” by the terrorist-run Taliban, who regard foreign charity as just another revenue stream, according to a report prepared for the U.S. government that has not yet been made public. – Foreign Policy


Kemelbek Kutmanov, the son of former Kyrgyz Natural Resources Minister Dinara Kutmanova, has been detained in Turkey and his extradition to Kyrgyzstan on corruption charges is pending, President Sadyr Japarov said on July 24. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Turkey would like to have better ties with the Syrian regime, but it wants Damascus to make changes to how it deals with Kurdish far-left groups, which Ankara considers terrorists. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: Shutter northern Cyprus offices: The so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is an illicit entity and, after the latest Iranian plot, is also a terrorist Trojan horse in Europe. That it maintains offices in Brussels, London, Geneva, Stockholm, Berlin, Strasbourg, Budapest and Helsinki is a shame on its European hosts who should do nothing to tolerate its pretensions of statehood or even legitimacy. […]If Europe is serious about its territorial integrity and standing up against aggression, it is time to cease sending mixed messages. Europe should close all northern Cypriot offices and take a zero-tolerance policy toward Turkish irredentism. Erdogan relishes playing hardball with Europe. It is time European leaders showed that they can return the favor. – Ekathimerini

Gulf States

A Houston woman known online as the “Sassy Trucker” has been stuck in Dubai for months after an altercation at a car rental agency, the latest case showing the limits of speech in this skyscraper-studded city-state. – Associated Press

US national security officials are scrutinising an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund’s planned $3bn takeover of New York-based Fortress Investment Group amid concerns in Washington over the United Arab Emirates’ ties to China, people close to the situation told the Financial Times. – Financial Times

Oman will be the third country that will hold part of the funds Iraq owes Iran, which should be used for non-sanctionable goods, the US State Department said Monday. – Iran International

Eleonara Ardemagni writes: This is especially true when it comes to the border region. Since 2022, the Saudis have provided patronage to Mahri tribes along the northern frontier, as well as to the tribes of the al-Wadia area. The strengthening of Saudi influence could negatively affect Houthi smuggling corridors across Wadi Hadramawt, forcing them to reorganize their informal supply lines. For the UAE, the strategic landscape is still favorable, since their Yemeni allies have consolidated their positions along the Hadrami coast and around key infrastructure. However, the question is whether the Emirati-backed southern secessionists will try to advance toward the oil fields, or if they will limit themselves to controlling the coast. The answer will greatly depend on the extent to which Hadramis will accept being dragged into the Saudi-Emirati competition in Yemen, thus weakening Hadramawt’s prospects for autonomy. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah said on Monday its arch-foe Israel was on a “path of collapse and fragmentation,” referring to divisions in Israeli society over a contested overhaul of its judiciary. – Reuters

Iraq condemned the burning of a copy of the Koran in front of its embassy in Denmark on Monday and said Danish staff at the embassy in Baghdad had left the country after protests there, while Copenhagen said it had “not withdrawn from Iraq”. – Reuters

Jordan’s parliament should withdraw a draft cybercrimes law that puts free speech in jeopardy and could pave the way for an increase in online censorship in a country where freedoms were already under attack, a coalition led by U.S. based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday. – Reuters

The Jordanian army said on Monday it had shot down a drone carrying drugs from Syria into its northern frontier region in the third such incident in recent weeks. – Reuters

The United States said Monday it has joined major donors in demanding that the United Nations be able to deliver aid through a key crossing from Turkey to Syria’s rebel-held northwest independently and to everyone in need. That’s a rejection of conditions set by Syria and backed by its ally Russia that Damascus control all aid and banning U.N. communications with rebels in the region. – Associated Press

One of Libya’s rival prime ministers on Monday returned to the capital of Tripoli from Italy on a charter flight with a commercial airline, the first direct flight between the two countries in a decade. – Associated Press

A pair of GOP lawmakers are blocking the State Department from providing $75 million in food assistance for Palestinian refugees, as civil society groups raise alarm over a worsening humanitarian crisis compounded by grain shortages from Russia’s war in Ukraine.  – The Hill

Adnan Nasser writes: Everyone is now waiting to see the results of Le Drian’s visit and how he is gauging where the winds of Lebanese politics are blowing. If Salameh’s term is not extended to a caretaker capacity and the government cannot find a suitable replacement, it will mean that there will be a double vacancy for the first time in Lebanese history: one for the president and one for the central bank governor. The government and the five countries from the Quincy Committee have one week to find a solution. If they don’t, the politics of improvision will continue to rule Lebanon. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

The U.S. has reached out to North Korea about an American soldier who crossed the border from South Korea last week, but so far Pyongyang hasn’t responded, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s top court on Tuesday ruled against a parliamentary vote to impeach the interior minister over a botched government response to a deadly Halloween crush in Seoul last year, sparking anger and dismay among relatives of the victims. – Reuters

China asserted on Monday that it “strictly” implements U.N. sanctions on North Korea, reacting to a letter from the Group of Seven, European Union and others that urged Beijing to stop Pyongyang from evading the measures by using Chinese waters. – Reuters

Envoys from China are set to become the first foreign delegation to North Korea since the pandemic started, a sign of opening by the secretive nation. – Bloomberg

North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the waters off its east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message. – Bloomberg


For one of his newest anticorruption campaigns, Chinese leader Xi Jinping is ordering his enforcers to dig up dirt. This time, he means, literally, the kind in the ground. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration is discussing lifting sanctions on a Chinese police forensics institute suspected of participating in human-rights abuses, people familiar with the matter said, in a bid to secure Beijing’s renewed cooperation in fighting the fentanyl crisis. – Wall Street Journal

One month ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang suddenly dropped out of public view. Now, a string of disrupted diplomatic exchanges is increasing pressure on President Xi Jinping to explain the rising star’s mysterious absence. – Bloomberg

China’s top legislative body will hold a meeting to discuss official personnel changes, state television reported, as investors await clarity on the new central bank governor and the whereabouts of its foreign minister. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: If Italy does pull out of the BRI, the United States should be ready to provide Italy with new economic incentives. Beijing cannot be allowed to cajole longstanding U.S. allies into conformity with its global agenda. That agenda aims to subordinate the U.S. and its democratic values to the whims of a globally supreme CCP. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: It’s unclear. But the “no limits partnership” between Moscow and Beijing means it cannot be ruled out. What is clear, however, is that Sino-Russian naval cooperation is increasingly intimate. A number of PLA warships involved in the exercise have now docked at Russia’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Vladivostok. Other Sino-Russian forces are now heading further out into the Pacific. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

Sri Lanka plans to complete free trade talks with Thailand by February and sign an agreement in March, Sri Lanka’s cabinet spokesperson said on Tuesday, as part of an effort to expand trade as it emerges from economic turmoil. – Reuters

Indian police said they arrested 74 Rohingya refugees on Monday for living “illegally” in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh – a move activists condemned as an arbitrary crackdown on people fleeing violence. – Reuters

Pakistan’s election commission has issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Geo news reported on Monday, the latest in a series of legal hurdles facing the cricketer-turned-politician. – Reuters

Walter Russell Mead writes: Will it work? And can a Hindu nationalist India avoid corruption scandals, respect civil liberties and reduce communal tensions and violence? Nobody knows, but these are serious people who care deeply about the future of their country and the world. I left Udaipur more hopeful than when I arrived. – Wall Street Journal


Concerns are most pronounced in Singapore, a multiracial city-state with a majority ethnic-Chinese population that is increasingly sympathetic to Beijing. A 2022 survey of 19 countries by the Pew Research Center found that Singapore was one of only three that saw China and Xi in favorable terms. In June, the Eurasia Group Foundation released a survey conducted in Singapore, South Korea and the Philippines that found Singapore was the only one that viewed China more favorably than it did the United States. Fewer than half of respondents in Singapore viewed the United States favorably, compared with 56 percent who viewed China favorably. – Washington Post

Australia said on Monday it would spend A$9.8 billion ($6.60 billion) to buy 20 new Super Hercules military transport aircraft, ahead of a visit later this week by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. – Reuters

Cambodia’s longtime ruling party on Monday lauded its landslide victory in weekend elections as a clear mandate for the next five years. The United States said the party’s stifling of the opposition meant the vote could not be considered free or fair and that Washington was taking punitive measures. – Associated Press

The French president is pressing his country’s interests in the South Pacific this week and trying to make France’s voice heard in a region shaping up as a prime geopolitical battleground for China and the U.S. – Associated Press

China’s government appealed to Japan on Monday not to disrupt the semiconductor industry after curbs on exports of Japanese chip-making technology took effect, adding to technology restrictions Washington and its allies have imposed on China on security grounds. – Associated Press

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday underscored his administration’s resolve to defend the country’s territory through diplomacy in a key speech but did not mention China, with which it has had an escalating series of conflicts in the disputed South China Sea. – Associated Press

Australia’s alliance with the US will be on full display as high-level talks and military exercises get under way — a demonstration of power that may overshadow Canberra’s efforts at a nuanced foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific. – Bloomberg

Alex Little writes: The United States should recognize that it can reap considerable benefits from including Turkey and Iran in future Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks. Not only is it a chance for open dialogue on a myriad of important issues, but it could provide the greatest likelihood of lasting peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. – The National Interest


If election night here proved anything, it’s that Spain — a nation with some of the most recent memories in Europe of extreme-right repression, from the Francisco Franco era that ended in 1975 — still has little interest in reembracing the radical right. – Washington Post

The Belarusian ministry of emergency situations is completing the arming and military training of its personnel to be ready to aid the defence and internal ministries in the event of an armed conflict, the head of the emergency ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

Thousands of Russia-linked Wagner group mercenaries have arrived in Belarus since the group’s short-lived rebellion, a military monitoring group said Monday. – Associated Press

Tunku Varadarajan writes: Mr. Sánchez will need the backing of Catalan separatists, who are hell-bent on breaking up Spain. Carles Puigdemont, the most rabid of this tribe, could tip Mr. Sánchez over the line and into power. Mr. Puigdemont is in exile in Belgium after masterminding an unlawful Catalan independence referendum in 2017. He has named his price for parliamentary support: an amnesty for separatists; and another referendum for Catalan “self-determination.” If Mr. Sánchez bites, he’ll win power for himself, but at the cost, potentially, of the survival of Spain as we know it. It is too soon to say what he will do. But we’d do well to remember that he’s a politician with few scruples—if any. – Wall Street Journal

Luke Hogg writes: To foster a global digital economy, it is essential that regulations such as the GDPR are enforced in a fair and balanced manner. While the EU has the right to protect its citizens’ privacy, it should not single out American companies for stringent scrutiny. The recent move by the EU to speed up enforcement of GDPR further exacerbates worries about targeted efforts against American businesses. To maintain a healthy global digital economy, the United States should leverage its position as an essential trading partner with the EU to ensure American companies are not unfairly targeted by European regulators. – Washington Examiner


A Sudanese general rejected in threatening language a Kenyan-led proposal that East African peacekeepers help end a more than 100-day war in Sudan in a video released on Monday, drawing sharp criticism from Kenyan authorities. – Reuters

Russia and nations taking part in this week’s Russia-Africa summit will discuss Moscow’s grain and fertilisers exports, Oleg Ozerov, ambassador at large at the Russian foreign ministry, told the state RIA news agency in remarks published on Tuesday. – Reuters

A top U.S. Treasury official will highlight Washington’s efforts to facilitate Russian grain and fertilizer exports during a visit to Kenya and Somalia and stress that Moscow’s exit from the Black Sea grain deal will hurt African states, a spokesperson said on Monday. – Reuters

The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on three Malian officials, including the minister of defense, over accusations they facilitated the deployment and expansion of the Russian Wagner Group’s activities in the West African country. – Reuters

Mali’s army together with suspected mercenaries from the shadowy Russian group Wagner have committed summary executions, lootings, forced disappearances and other abuses, a leading human rights group reported Monday. – Associated Press

A civilian plane crashed after taking off from an airport in eastern Sudan, killing nine people including four military personnel on board, the military said, as the conflict in the northeastern African country reached the 100-day mark on Monday with no signs of abating. – Associated Press

Zimbabwe’s dollar has firmed 53% against its US counterpart over the past month, making it the world’s best performer, but the central bank is resigned to the greenback remaining key to transacting in the southern Africa nation for the foreseeable future. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: While rolling back China’s cornering of the cobalt market will be an uphill struggle, Washington should be proactive on other commodities. Earlier this month, for example, Beijing reduced exports of gallium and germanium, both critical to semiconductor and electronics manufacture. Congo has germanium reserves but needs external help to extract and purify it. The Development Finance Corporation, Department of Commerce, and State Department should be in overdrive to get American business into Congo. If they try, they may find an open door while China is scratching at the window. – Washington Examiner

Latin America

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso on Monday declared a state of emergency and night curfews in three coastal provinces, amid a wave of violence over the weekend in the Andean country that left at least eight people dead. – Reuters

Senior U.S. Department of State official Brian Nichols said on Monday he had spoken with Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro to stress the need to hold a free and fair run-off in the Central American country’s presidential election next month. – Reuters

The Mexican government on Monday urged a U.S. appeals court to revive a $10 billion lawsuit seeking to hold U.S. gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating the trafficking of weapons to drug cartels across the U.S.-Mexico border. – Reuters

The United States has resumed providing Honduras with radar information used for the surveillance and pursuit of aircraft suspected of transporting drugs, a Honduran military chief said on Monday. – Reuters

The Argentine government and members of Bolivia’s opposition demanded answers Monday following the sealing of an opaque defense agreement between Iran and Bolivia that raised concerns in South America’s Southern Cone it could be a way for Tehran to boost its influence in the region. – Associated Press

United States

A truck driver who assaulted a police officer with a flagpole at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced on Monday to 52 months in federal prison. – New York Times

A Florida couple pleaded guilty Monday to participating in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. – Associated Press

The White House didn’t directly address a question Monday about a report that Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone to talk to his overseas business partners, reiterating that President Joe Biden has never been in business with his son. – Washington Examiner

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said that he expects the House GOP’s investigations into the foreign business activities of President Biden’s family to rise to the level of an impeachment inquiry – The Hill

Special counsel Jack Smith’s office has asked former US officials about a February 2020 Oval Office meeting where then-President Donald Trump praised improvements to the security of US elections, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. – CNN

William McGurn writes: It’s rare for a judge to rip up a plea arrangement. But it is well within Judge Noreika’s discretion to do so. The issue now goes well beyond what Hunter Biden did, or even his father’s involvement. It’s whether the two powerful institutions that handled this investigation and came up with this sweetheart deal—the FBI and the Justice Department—can be trusted. – Wall Street Journal

Eli Lake writes: Stories like Russiagate and the Hunter Biden affair play into the paranoid underbelly of American politics. For those Americans that look for the hidden hand of a deep state, these scandals are proof that the system itself is rigged. And yet the events of the past week prove that, thanks to honorable people, the system is also working. – The Free Press


A 17-year-old student in Tennessee is suing his school district and two top school officials for the three-day suspension he received after he posted satirical memes about the principal on social media when he was not on campus. – New York Times

Suspected Chinese hackers who infiltrated the emails of US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and government officials from around the world may have had access beyond emails, according to a cloud security firm. – Bloomberg

The UK said it will force social media platforms and services like Alphabet Inc.’s Google Ads to stop scam advertisements, including fake celebrity endorsements, and take tougher action to prevent children from age-restricted ads for drinking and gambling. – Bloomberg

Meta could lose millions of dollars in revenue as Canadian government officials and media outlets withhold advertising from the platform in response to its decision to block links to local news stories. – Washington Examiner

The founder of the prominent artificial intelligence company OpenAI launched his own cryptocurrency Monday as part of a new project he helped fund that would give people around the world crypto tokens in exchange for their biometric data. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: There was fighting on Twitter long before Mr. Musk. There was polarization and fake news and medical misinformation and all manner of other ills. But Twitter was also a place for people to talk to other people who otherwise would never have the chance to hear them — to share thoughts and to make memes and to turn what started as a bunch of unidentified egg avatars into a community. At worst, these users were creating a cacophony. At best, they were listening to each other sing. “Soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds,” Mr. Musk tweeted on Sunday. We’d say rest in peace — but we can also hope they have flown away to a better place. – Washington Post


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign and former President Trump this week rolled out dueling plans for the U.S. military, with both light on details and heavy on gripes over Biden administration efforts. – The Hill

The White House on Monday threatened to veto a proposed spending bill for military construction and veterans’ affairs, arguing that House Republicans are pursuing a partisan spending proposal that deviates from an agreement struck during debt ceiling talks. – The Hill

Eight Senate Democrats on Monday pressed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pressure Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) to end his “reckless, dangerous” hold on hundreds of military nominations. – The Hill

Seth Cropsey writes: Centralizing force design through a “future jointness czar” is not strategic wisdom — it is hubristic, bureaucratic policymaking. The danger is that the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the next Secretary of Defense, are too blinded by their conviction in the arc of technological change that they commit the U.S. military to the wrong transformational program. Jointness is useful in creating a military force whose cooperation in training multiplies effectiveness in combat. But as the author of force design and doctrine for all the military services, it would be a disaster to trade experience for “harmonization.” – The Hill

Long War

A suicide bomber on Monday targeted a military training academy in Somalia, killing 25 soldiers in the capital of Mogadishu, a senior army officer said. Al-Qaida’s affiliate in East Africa, the Somalia-based al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack. – Associated Press

A jury is expected to render its verdict Tuesday over Belgium’s deadliest peacetime attack, suicide bombings at the Brussels airport and a busy subway station in 2016 that killed 32 people in a wave of violence in Europe claimed by the Islamic State group. – Associated Press

British Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary was remanded in custody by a UK magistrate on Monday, after London’s Metropolitan police charged him with three terrorism offenses. – Agence France-Presse

About 42,000 people are on the verge of starving to death in northeast Burkina Faso as Islamist militants lay siege to towns and villages, an International Rescue Committee official said. – Bloomberg