Fdd's overnight brief

July 3, 2023

In The News


Israel is not nearing an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser said on Friday, as talks between Tehran and Washington have sought to cool tensions. – Reuters

Iran’s state-run Nour News said on Friday Israel’s report that it had foiled an attack in Cyprus by capturing an Iranian agent was an effort to cover up its own domestic crisis. – Reuters

Iran will refrain from sending a new ambassador to Sweden in protest over the burning of a Koran outside a mosque in Stockholm, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Sunday. – Reuters

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is demanding that the State Department produce more information about the suspension of the U.S. special envoy for Iran’s security clearance. – Associated Press

Iran called on the French government Sunday to “end the violent treatment of its people” following a wave of rioting triggered by the police killing of a teenager. – Agence France-Presse

Former US vice president Mike Pence and British ex-prime minister Liz Truss on Saturday gave their backing to an exiled Iran opposition movement, slamming Western “appeasement” of Iran’s clerical authorities. – Agence France-Presse

Iran will be formally approved as a member of the regional Shanghai Cooperation Organization with China, Russia and Central Asian countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Bobby Ghosh writes: This would send a cautionary signal to Tehran and a reassuring one to America’s friends in the Middle East. Whatever comes of Malley’s security review, it’s clearly past time for a reset. – Bloomberg

Eric R. Mandel writes: That is the consensus opinion across the Israeli political spectrum. The Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said this is one opinion he shares with Netanyahu. “No Israeli government will agree to Iran becoming nuclear.” The caveat Pincus failed to mention is that if there really were an Iran agreement that ended their ability to have a nuclear weapon, Israel would be very interested in signing, no matter who is prime minister. The danger of Alon Pincus and his fellow travelers, who are full-time critics of their country, is that he is accepted as a representative voice of the Israeli people by American Jewish groups like J Street, who are willing to accept a nuclear agreement that doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but actually guarantees them. – Jerusalem Post

Stephen Rademaker writes: This may offer a convenient answer to those in Congress who ask why it is so urgent to provide more U.S. assistance to Ukraine when allied governments have decided to acquiesce in Iran’s rearmament of Russia. But it will not obscure the fact that the administration and its allies in Europe have chosen to prioritize their dreams of reviving the JCPOA over the security of Ukraine. – Real Clear World

Russia & Ukraine

CIA Director William Burns quietly reached out to his Russian counterpart in the aftermath of a failed mutiny by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, delivering a message that the U.S. had no involvement in Russia’s internal chaos, officials familiar with the matter said. – Wall Street Journal

In the wake of a mutiny that almost reached Moscow, Vladimir Putin is facing a new test—managing one of the most complex corporate takeovers in history. – Wall Street Journal

This is what the pause in Ukraine’s counteroffensive looks like. After encountering stiff Russian resistance to their initial ground assault earlier this month, Ukrainian commanders have largely held off sending large infantry formations and Western tanks to assault Russian positions. Instead, Kyiv is making targeted strikes, trying to soften Russian defenses for the next attack. – Wall Street Journal

The risk of a major disaster at the nearby Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant terrifies Nadiya Hez, who lives in an area that would probably take the brunt of any deadly radioactive fallout. – Washington Post

Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine and illegally annexed in 2014, has been targeted in repeated drone attacks against naval targets, railway lines and oil depots. – Washington Post

Confronted with a worrying shortage of artillery ammunition, a counteroffensive that has been slow to launch and increasingly desperate appeals from Kyiv for more weaponry, the Biden administration is facing an imminent decision over whether to supply Ukraine with controversial cluster bombs. – Washington Post

With Moscow still rattled by the Wagner mercenary group’s failed rebellion, the Kremlin has begun the difficult task of dismantling and taking control of Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s sprawling empire, which included not only the shadowy army-for-hire but also a propaganda media wing and internet troll factories infamous for interfering in elections in the United States. – Washington Post

During a secret visit to Ukraine by CIA Director William J. Burns earlier this month, Ukrainian officials revealed an ambitious strategy to retake Russian-occupied territory and open cease-fire negotiations with Moscow by the end of the year, according to officials familiar with the visit. – Washington Post

As the war in Ukraine unfolded last year, Russia’s best digital spies turned to new tools to fight an enemy on another front: those inside its own borders who opposed the war. – New York Times

Russian forces launched a wave of drone attacks on Ukraine’s capital before dawn on Sunday, the first aerial assault on Kyiv by unmanned vehicles in nearly two weeks. – New York Times

As Belarus has ratcheted up its messaging about plans to offer refuge — and possibly work — to Wagner group mercenaries after a failed rebellion in Russia, Ukrainian forces say they are ready for any potential threat from their neighbor to the north. – New York Times

A Russian arms dealer freed last December in a prisoner swap for U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner has been chosen as the candidate of a far-right party for a seat in a Russian regional legislature, state news agency RIA reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Russia’s ambassador to Cuba said President Vladimir Putin had an invitation to visit the Communist-run island but that it was too early to talk about preparations for such a trip, the state RIA news agency said. – Reuters

The ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) is working on a bill that would temporarily ban the travel of close relatives of high-ranking officials to “unfriendly countries,” the RIA state news agency reported on Sunday. – Reuters

U.S. CIA Director William Burns said on Saturday that disaffection in Russia with the war in Ukraine was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recruit spies – and that his agency was not letting it go to waste. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin will participate this week in his first multilateral summit since an armed rebellion rattled Russia, as part of a rare international grouping in which his country still enjoys support. – Associated Press

The US hasn’t made a decision on whether to send ATACMS long-range missiles or cluster munitions to Ukraine, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said, adding that a counteroffensive against Russian forces was making slow but steady advances. – Bloomberg

A top Russian propagandist accused the Wagner Group boss Sunday of “going off the rails” after receiving billions in public funds, as Moscow’s new narrative takes shape after Wagner’s brief mutiny. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: It is true they are unlikely to be hauled into court anytime soon. Yet the prospect of doing so looks less remote today than it did before the recent mutiny by the mercenary Wagner Group, which briefly appeared to threaten Mr. Putin’s hold on power. Other strongmen and dictators responsible for atrocities also looked untouchable until they wound up in the dock. It is time to hold the Russian leader accountable for his ultimate crime — launching an illegal war that has devastated so many towns and villages and ruined so many lives. – Washington Post

Editorial: Strategic patience is the wisest course for the Biden administration and its European allies. No matter what the outcome of the next several months’ fighting, their interests lie in continuing to arm, train and help defend Ukraine in the face of an ongoing threat from Russia — and to its aspirations to become a full-fledged Western country. – Washington Post

Editorial: What happened in Russia last week was Putin’s fault. It was he who launched an illegitimate war on Ukraine. It was he who, lacking adequate military preparation and capacity, relied on a psychotic mercenary to bolster his war effort. It was he who tolerated the Wagner Group’s growing power even as Prigozhin launched tirades against Putin’s own government. It is Putin who must find a way out of his mess. It is not for Washington to help him. As he attempts to do so, the U.S. should not prop up the former KGB man and support him as he tries to evade the consequences of his many mistakes. – Washington Examiner

Volodymyr Zelensky writes: All such scenarios can be stopped only by the steadfast defense of freedom, those who aspire to freedom, and the alliances created to protect freedom. We Ukrainians and you Americans will never give up on freedom. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: This would also send a signal to any other “private” military corporation honchos who may think their non-government status protects them from facing international justice. Putin isn’t the first dictator to outsource his atrocities, and he won’t be the last. – Washington Post

James Rogan writes: What is especially ironic about Russia’s absence from the global semiconductor industry is Russia’s history of global preeminence in mathematics and physics. Russia has the intellectual capital to be a dominant force in the semiconductor space and in artificial intelligence, but its political and economic systems preclude the development of this nascent comparative advantage. At some point, the ruble will stop with a bang on Putin’s desk. – Washington Examiner


Israel launched extensive air and ground attacks in Jenin early Monday, striking what it called the “operational command center” of Jenin Brigade militants and marking an escalation in the occupied West Bank city that is a center for armed Palestinian resistance. – Washington Post

The recent spate of settler attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank is deepening fissures in Israel’s right-wing government, with hard-line ministers pushing back on calls by military and security chiefs for a crackdown on Jewish extremists. – Washington Post

Demonstrators briefly shut off access to a major Israeli seaport on Monday ahead of a planned mass convergence on the country’s main airport, as a half-year-long crisis over the government’s judicial overhaul again builds up steam. – Reuters

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Monday signaled Israel was not intending to expand an operation in the Palestinian city Jenin to the entire occupied West Bank. – Reuters

Britain, Australia and Canada have called on Israel’s government to reverse a decision to approve new settlement units in the West Bank, saying they are “deeply concerned” by an ongoing cycle of violence. – Reuters

The U.N. human rights office said on Friday it has updated a list of companies doing business with Israeli settlements, removing 15 companies from the database that were no longer involved but retaining most of the international firms. – Reuters

Israel has released three Fijian UN peacekeepers arrested for drug smuggling, after it emerged the suspicious substance they were carrying across the border was not liquid cocaine, police said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Israel plans to buy a third squadron of F-35 fighter jets from the US government in a deal valued at about $3 billion. – Bloomberg


The U.S. is pressing the Lebanese government and military to take steps to dismantle a Hezbollah outpost that was established several weeks ago in Israeli territory on the Israel-Lebanon border, four Israeli and U.S. officials told Axios. – Axios

The Hezbollah terrorist movement has moved one of the tents it had placed in Israeli territory back in Lebanese territory, Israeli media reported Sunday, citing “informed sources.” – Jerusalem Post

Former IDF intelligence chief and current INSS managing director Tamir Hayman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the IDF should use force if Hezbollah does not withdraw from its new outposts in Israeli territory within a matter of several weeks. – Jerusalem Post

The head of Hezbollah’s faction in the Lebanese parliament has told Israel to “shut up” and rescind its demand that the terror group dismantle an outpost set up within formal Israeli territory beyond the border fence between the countries. – Times of Israel


A report on the State Department’s chaotic 2021 exit from Afghanistan said senior Biden administration officials in Washington were to blame for failing to decide which Afghans should be eligible for evacuation and issuing constantly changing guidance. – Wall Street Journal

Food assistance to Afghanistan will shrink to nothing by the end of October under current funding projections, the World Food Programme’s country director told Reuters on Friday, as United Nations officials continue to warn against funding reductions amid Taliban restrictions on women. – Reuters

Beth Bailey writes: Legend Group Foundation and Vets4NRF senior adviser Jazz Cannon told the Washington Examiner that these proclamations show that local governments “know the war is not over and … America as a whole will pay” for the Biden administration “bending facts to fit the current narrative” that Afghanistan is of little concern to the U.S. – Washington Examiner


Israel carried out airstrikes on areas near the central Syrian city of Homs early Sunday causing material damage but no casualties, the Syrian military said in a statement. – Associated Press

The IDF decided to allow the Syrian missile which exploded in the South to traverse most of the country, calculating from its trajectory that it did not need to be shot down earlier, sources said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The frequent incidents involving Syrian air defense illustrate the danger that the missiles pose to the Middle East. They are not only ballistic missiles, but their range and size of warhead mean they can pose other dangers. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Spyer writes: The Russians view Ukraine as a proxy war between themselves and the US and its allies. They now appear keen to assist their Iranian partner in opening an additional point of pressure on the US in this contest. Keep a close eye on Syria. For as long as Putin remains able to stave off challenges from within, the country looks set to be a central arena for the emergent strategic alliance between Moscow and Tehran. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Hannibal Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has been moved from a Lebanese prison to hospital in “critical condition”, Dubai-based Al-Hadath TV reported on Sunday. – Reuters

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi paid tribute on Friday to the “sacrifices” and “patience” of Egyptians struggling with an economic crisis 10 years after he came to power. – Reuters

Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ziad Nakhaleh said in an interview released Saturday that his Iran-backed terror group was working to establish cells of fighters throughout the West Bank. – Times of Israel

The armed wing of Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas has put its weapons on public display for the first time, drawing hundreds of Palestinians including children brandishing rocket launchers for selfies. – Times of Israel

Eric R. Mandel writes: Finally, we should remind the King that American support needs to be reciprocated. He must end the endemic anti-Semitism that pervades the Jordanian schools, media, mosques, and government, and which flies in the face of President Biden’s just-released anti-Semitism initiative. Without change, the incitement will one day backfire on his monarchy. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Anyone who works in media in the region knows how common it is that local reports may be incorrect. Information that is false is often passed around. What’s the point of showing one’s hand in regards to showing that they are putting out nonsensical reports? Unless, of course, the beneficiary is Iran in some way because Iran is actually facing setbacks in the region and wants to be able to pretend that future reports of IRGC casualties will be fake or possibly fake news. The overall problem in the region is that often local media or even regional media websites do not check information before passing it on. This then feeds into a cycle of information being “laundered” so that it becomes “true” and “confirmed”. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: Those words were written two years ago. Since then, the Biden administration has long since embraced the accords and “even” adopted the name Trump gave them. And now it is getting even more deeply involved by appointing Shapiro as a special Abraham Accords envoy. As the old saying goes, “You can’t argue with success.” And with the US elections now just 16 months away, the Biden administration is clearly keen on mining one of the few recent successes in the region. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

Having appointed a new unification minister days earlier, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Sunday that the ministry had focused too much on providing aid for North Korea in the past and needed to change. – Reuters

A U.S. B-52 strategic bomber took part in military exercises with South Korea on Friday, Seoul officials said, in the latest show of force amid tension over North Korea’s failed launch of a spy satellite. – Reuters

South Korea’s factory activity shrank at a steeper pace in June and extended its downturn to a record 12th consecutive month, a survey showed on Monday, underlining the challenges facing the economy as it struggles to mount solid recovery. – Reuters

North Korea has no intention to “examine” South Korea’s Hyundai Group chief’s plan to visit the North’s Mount Kumgang, the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday. – Reuters


Washington and Beijing are talking again. The test now is whether they can settle into a new normal that avoids upending the global economy—or fall back into a cycle of acrimony and retaliation. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. counterintelligence officials are amping up warnings to American executives about fresh dangers to doing business in China under an amended Chinese law to combat espionage. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese leaders appointed Pan Gongsheng as the top Communist Party official at the People’s Bank of China, the central bank said Saturday, a move that people familiar with the matter say will lead to his eventual rise to governor. – Wall Street Journal

The ascendancy of the Russian mercenary group Wagner is putting a spotlight on the role played by private security companies in developing countries. ​Among them are ​Chinese​​​ ​contractors that have fanned out across Africa and Asia. – Wall Street Journal

China views Russia as a necessary partner in challenging the global order dominated by the United States. But Mr. Putin’s appetite for risk — seen in his invasion of Ukraine and his reliance on private armies — has forced Beijing to defend its bond with Russia in the face of Western pressure. – New York Times

China’s defence minister Li Shangfu met with the head of the Russian navy, Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, in Beijing, the Chinese defence ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

A Hong Kong pro-democracy radio station will air its final show Friday evening, ending nearly two decades of broadcasting due to what it called a “dangerous” political situation. – Bloomberg

John Bolton writes: Verbal sparring between Beijing and Washington, or even ominous developments in Russia, should not distract us from critical opportunities to preclude a rising Chinese threat centered in Cuba. If Biden won’t act, Republican candidates in 2024 should make China’s looming Cuba presence a major campaign issue. – The Hill

James Rogan writes: First, it must require a digital ID for batches of the most advanced semiconductors. Second, the U.S. must require documentation throughout the entire supply chain. Know the end user. Third, Washington should require sellers of Nvidia GAI technologies to know their customers. Fourth, the U.S. should conduct random checks of the Nvidia supply chain. Fifth, it should tighten restrictions on Nvidia’s cloud computing operations in China. It is not in the interest of the U.S. that Nvidia expands its cloud computing business in China. And sixth, Washington should increase the budget and powers of the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security, the agency responsible for the export controls. A few million dollars in additional funding is essential to the national security of the U.S. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation around Ukraine and how Moscow had resolved an armed mercenary mutiny in a telephone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, the Kremlin and New Delhi said. – Reuters

A group of militants ambushed troops during a search operation against insurgents in a remote area in southwestern Pakistan, triggering a shootout that left an army major and a junior officer dead, the military said Monday. – Associated Press

Militants attacked a security post in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, triggering a shootout that left three police officers a paramilitary soldier and one militant dead on Sunday, officials said. – Associated Press

Mark R. Whittington writes: The Apollo program was a narrowly focused contest that pitted two superpowers against each other for bragging rights over who would be first to put boots on the lunar soil. The Artemis program will unite most of the world in a common endeavor with the prize of a better future than the present. All of the countries that have signed the Accords and those who will sign them recognize the promise of a space-faring future. – The Hill


The European Union (EU) will deepen cooperation with Japan on semiconductors, its industry chief said on Monday, as countries move to strengthen control over a technology vital for defence, electronic and automotive industries. – Reuters

The Myanmar military rulers’ restrictions on life-saving aid are growing and may amount to war crimes such as degrading treatment, starvation, and collective punishment, a U.N. human rights report said on Friday. – Reuters

New Zealand is carefully managing its relationship with China and must avoid getting pulled from “pillar and post” amid the strategic rivalry between China and the United States, the Pacific nation’s foreign minister said on Friday. – Reuters

A Japanese journalist was barred from entering Hong Kong without a clear reason and was sent back to his country, a Japanese newspaper said, raising concerns over the city’s shrinking press freedoms. – Associated Press

Japan is set to win approval to discharge more than a million cubic meters of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear disaster site into the Pacific Ocean, a contentious plan that’s soured ties with neighbors including China. – Bloomberg

Josh Rogin writes: The most important lesson the world must learn from the tragedy in Hong Kong relates to Taiwan. Hong Kong proves that Beijing’s proposal of “one country, two systems” is a delusion — and that any promises Xi makes regarding Taiwan’s continued autonomy under reunification are worthless. Xi’s China is a totalitarian regime that seeks nothing less than total control of China and everything it sees as part of China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan. That pattern is undeniable and we ignore it at our own peril. – Washington Post

Dan Blumenthal writes: Japan is contemplating strategies that have logical rationales:  limitations on air and missile defense and an understandable political desire among leaders to demonstrate to the Japanese public that Tokyo can hit back at adversaries are ample reason to drive Tokyo to more active defenses. Paired with other defense strategies, Japanese counter-strike could also have operational effects that might degrade a Chinese military onslaught. But the Chinese nuclear shadow looms, and China will at the least threaten Japan with strategic attack to limit its conventional strike-back. The next phase for US-Japan relations is to plan for nuclear deterrence. – 19FortyFive


Rioters set fire to hundreds of buildings in the fourth consecutive night of violence across France, prompting President Emmanuel Macron to postpone a long-awaited state visit to Germany as he grapples with fallout from the killing of a teenager by police. – Wall Street Journal

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands apologized for his country’s role in colonial slave trading, amid a national reckoning over the brutal history of Dutch imperialism, whose legacy still echoes in contemporary society. – Washington Post

But these days, the photographer, Svetlana Timofeyeva, 34, cannot travel much to satisfy fans of her exploits. Her passport was confiscated by the authorities in Albania, where she spent much of the past year in a women’s jail detained on accusations that have gained her a different kind of fame: that she is a Russian spy. – New York Times

Germany’s coalition government is at odds over whether to bow to British pressure and approve the production of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets for Saudi Arabia, the newspaper Welt Am Sonntag reported on Saturday, citing anonymous sources. – Reuters

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that Germany was watching the unrest in France “with concern”. – Reuters

Poland said on Sunday it will send 500 police to shore up security at its border with Belarus to cope with rising numbers of migrants crossing as well as any potential threats after the Wagner group of mercenaries relocates to Belarus. – Reuters

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez started Spain’s six-month presidency of the European Union with a lightning visit to Kyiv on Saturday to underline the bloc’s support of Ukraine in the face of the invasion by Russia. – Associated Press

US President Joe Biden will leave for Europe in a week to firm up ties with key NATO allies, including the UK, in the wake of the last month’s abortive uprising in Russia. – Bloomberg

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s international overseer revoked two laws adopted by ethnic Serbs as unconstitutional, the latest standoff threatening stability in the country’s fragile postwar balance. – Bloomberg

Sweden’s government on Sunday condemned the recent’s burning of a Quran outside Stockholm’s main mosque, calling it an “Islamophobic” act, after an international Islamic body called for measures to avoid future burnings. – Agence France-Presse


A naval fleet of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) led by the destroyer Nanning arrived in Nigeria on Sunday, in a rare visit by the Chinese military to Africa’s Atlantic coast, where Beijing has long made efforts to grow its influence. – Reuters

Clashes between Sudan’s army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) intensified on Sunday, as the war in the country’s capital and western regions entered its 12th week with no attempts in sight to bring a peaceful end to the conflict. – Reuters

Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority has issued a statement on Friday extending the closure of Sudanese airspace until July 10, to all air traffic with the exception of humanitarian aid flights. – Reuters

The United States has lifted certain aid restrictions on Ethiopia in light of progress on human rights, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday. – Reuters

The United States said on Friday it was concerned about the Russian Wagner Group’s destabilizing activities in Africa and accused the leader of the mercenary force of helping to engineer the departure of U.N. peacekeepers from Mali. – Reuters

Germany is preparing for a faster-than-planned withdrawal of its roughly 1,000 troops from Mali after the U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to end a peacekeeping mission following demands by the country’s military junta, a defence ministry spokesperson said. – Reuters

The Wagner mercenary group may continue its destabilizing security operations in Africa even after its chief Yevgeny Prigozhin launched — and later abandoned — an uprising against Russia’s military leaders, a White House official said. – Bloomberg

The UN Security Council voted to end a 13,000-strong peacekeeping mission in Mali, leaving the poorly equipped army and a smaller force of Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries to contend with militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. – Bloomberg

African nations where the Wagner private military company operates should decide themselves on whether to continue their cooperation, following a weekend mutiny against Russia’s military leadership that ended with the mercenary group’s leader agreeing to leave the country, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. – Bloomberg

The Americas

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres visited Haiti on Saturday and again called on foreign governments with strong security forces to help the struggling country fight a surge in gang violence. – Associated Press

Close to half of Haiti’s people, 2.2 million adults and 3 million children, need humanitarian aid and thousands of youngsters face “staggering levels” of gender-based violence, the head of the U.N. children’s agency said Thursday. – Associated Press

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Haiti’s embattled prime minister and Caribbean nations next week on calls for an international force in the crisis-wracked nation, officials said Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Latin America

The incidents have sparked an investigation in Brazil into whether Moscow is using the country as an incubator for deep-cover agents seeking to infiltrate the West—and have put Brazil in an uncomfortable international spotlight. Brazilian investigators have offered few public details about their probe, but they believe more covert agents could be lurking undetected within the country or around the world, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s regime on Friday barred opposition figure María Corina Machado, a conservative who had been drawing energetic crowds on the campaign trail, from running in presidential elections expected next year. – Wall Street Journal

Brazil’s electoral court barred former President Jair Bolsonaro from seeking office until 2030, finding that he undermined confidence in the country’s voting system months before losing last year’s presidential election, in a ruling that threatens to heighten political tensions in Latin America’s biggest nation. – Wall Street Journal

Carlos Alberto Montaner, a Cuban-born writer and columnist who was jailed as a teenager after Fidel Castro took power in 1959 and managed an escape, becoming a fierce opponent of the island’s communist ruler and a polarizing figure across Latin America with harsh critiques of politics and culture, died June 29 at his home in Madrid. He was 80. – Washington Post

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday that Argentina is current in its payment obligations, after the government said it made a $2.7 billion payment to the fund using its existing stock of the IMF’s reserve assets, and Chinese currency. – Reuters

A retired Venezuelan general who says he was involved in a plot to oust President Nicolas Maduro has pleaded guilty to U.S. charges of assisting Colombia’s FARC rebel group, court records showed on Friday. – Reuters

Venezuela’s government on Saturday said it rejected the U.S. stance around the South American country’s upcoming elections, calling it “interference,” a day after the U.S. criticized Venezuela’s decision to disqualify an opposition candidate. – Reuters

The U.S. is deeply concerned about efforts to interfere with Guatemala’s first-round presidential election result, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday, a day after Guatemala’s top court ordered ballots be reviewed. – Reuters

President Nicolas Maduro’s quest to gain control of roughly $2 billion in Venezuelan gold held in the UK suffered a setback Friday when the English Court of Appeal dismissed his administration’s appeal and sent it back to the Commercial Court. – Bloomberg

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Earlier this year Mr. Patrushev predicted that Mexico would “sooner or later” recover the land it lost to the U.S. in 1848. I doubt that. But I have no doubt Mr. Patrushev will go to his grave still trying to make it happen. – Wall Street Journal

United States

Everywhere he has gone as president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard N. Haass has been asked the same question: What keeps him up at night? He has had no shortage of options over the years — Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, climate change, international terrorism, food insecurity, the global pandemic. […]“It’s us,” he said ruefully the other day. – New York Times

Down in the polls, the far-right president warned of voter fraud, despite no evidence. After losing, he claimed the vote was rigged. Thousands of his supporters — draped in the national flag and misled by conspiracy theories — then stormed Congress in a bid to overturn the results. That scenario describes the latest elections in the Western Hemisphere’s largest democracies: the United States and Brazil. But while the behavior of the two former presidents — Donald J. Trump and Jair Bolsonaro — was remarkably similar, the political aftermath has been drastically different. – New York Times

UNESCO’s member states backed the United States’ return to the United Nations’ cultural organization almost five years after then-President Donald Trump ordered an American withdrawal, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. – Reuters

Douglas MacKinnon writes: At some point, certain powerful Democrats now circling the wagons around the Biden White House may decide the president and his son are in an untenable position, that their defense may no longer be in the best interests of the Democratic Party or the special interests that fund the party. If that point is reached, the foundation under the president and Hunter Biden will start to weaken dramatically. Cracks will appear and more negative stories — or evidence — may seep out. Much of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party are salivating at the thought of Trump going to prison. But what if it is a Biden instead? The next few months will tell the tale. – The Hill

Elizabeth Stauffer writes: Frankly, it’s easy to imagine Trump waving papers in front of a small group of people for dramatic effect and telling them it’s a classified Pentagon document. If Trump truly was waving around newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles as he claimed, and if this is some of the most “damning” evidence Smith has against the former president, then he’s on slippery ground indeed. The government better hope that it can prove the other documents it says Trump unlawfully retained had a lot more classified substance. – Washington Examiner


Twitter began limiting how many posts users can read on its platform, an unusual move that came as owner Elon Musk says he is fighting companies trying to use its data for developing artificial intelligence programs. – Wall Street Journal

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Meta Platforms META 1.94%increase; green up pointing triangle on Wednesday, asking the company to explain child-safety enforcement shortfalls and how the company’s algorithmic recommendation systems connected pedophilic users, citing a report this month by The Wall Street Journal. – Wall Street Journal

Regulators in Europe are racing to create the West’s first comprehensive set of rules for artificial intelligence. Some businesses say their plans go too far. – Wall Street Journal

A court in southern India has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Twitter that challenged broad censorship orders issued by Indian authorities, marking a victory for an increasingly assertive Indian government that has sought to bring foreign technology companies to heel and corral social media discourse. – Washington Post

The usually very active Facebook account for Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia appeared to have been deleted on Friday, a day after the oversight board for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, recommended that he be suspended from the platform for threatening political opponents with violence. – New York Times

A.I. chatbots have lied about notable figures, pushed partisan messages, spewed misinformation or even advised users on how to commit suicide. – New York Times

Evgeny Morozov writes: Depending on how (and if) the robot rebellion unfolds, A.G.I. may or may not prove an existential threat. But with its antisocial bent and its neoliberal biases, A.G.I.-ism already is: We don’t need to wait for the magic Roombas to question its tenets. – New York Times

Janet Haven and Sorelle Friedler write: To be sure, governing AI poses novel challenges. But the senator’s plan to hold “AI Insight Forums” this fall for Congress to “lay down a new foundation for AI policy” provides the opportunity to show that a foundation already exists and that a robust field of experts acting in the public interest — outside of the tech industry — have been working for years to build it. We need to draw on the broad expertise in AI policymaking both inside and outside of government. America already has a blueprint for strong AI laws and a great deal of the knowledge it needs to quickly build the guardrails around AI that Senator Schumer rightly identified as necessary. – The Hill

Michael Matthys writes: Both sides of the legislative aisle need to recognize the country’s need for a non-political, non-government solution that both protects online users from harm and ensures all voices and viewpoints can be equally heard. After all, what goes around comes around, and whether it’s 2024 or 2028, the pendulum will swing back the other way soon. – The Hill


The chief of space operations, in his latest missive to Guardians, argued the need for the Space Force to emphasize that the newest service’s mission includes operating in space to defend the Joint Force on the ground, at sea and in the air from adversaries’ space-enabled attacks — rather than focusing only on protecting US satellites. – Breaking Defense

House appropriators don’t intend for the Pentagon to re-engine the F-35 with a new adaptive powerplant, the chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee (HAC-D) said this week. – Breaking Defense

Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Rick Cheeseman has paused a Navy Recruiting Command order that would have had recruiters work six days a week. – USNI News

The Air Force’s new T-7 Red Hawk training jet flew for the first time Wednesday in St. Louis, Missouri, the company said in a release. – Defense News

A fire broke out Thursday night in the amphibious assault ship Bougainville, which is still under construction at Ingalls Shipbuilding, the company confirmed, with several shipyard employees being treated for smoke inhalation. – Defense News

The presumed future commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps wants to accelerate the service’s implementation of its Force Design 2030 modernization effort. – Defense News