Fdd's overnight brief

July 5, 2024

In The News

Israel

An embattled President Biden pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hammer out a Gaza cease-fire deal, telling the Israeli leader in a phone call on Thursday that now is the time to save the lives of hostages held by Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Israel has declared control over its single-largest swath of land in the occupied West Bank this year, expanding its ability to build settlements in the Palestinian territory as it pursues war in Gaza. – Wall Street Journal

An Israeli government official said on Thursday that a delegation has been sent to negotiate a hostage release deal with Hamas. – Reuters

St. Philip’s church once offered a haven of devotion to Gaza’s small Christian community. After nine months of Israeli military action that has devastated the Palestinian enclave’s health system, priests have turned it into a hospital. – Reuters

Mohammed describes a delivery job from hell. “I get screwed on every shipment,” the Gazan trader told Reuters. He said he has to fork out more than $14,000 for each truck of food he brings into the besieged enclave to pay sky-high transport costs, bribes to middlemen and protection from looters. That’s up from $1,500-$4,000 before the war began in October. – Reuters

An Israeli strike killed one of Hezbollah’s top commanders in south Lebanon on Wednesday, prompting retaliatory rocket fire by the Iran-backed group into Israel as their dangerously poised conflict rumbled on. – Reuters

Israel transferred 435 million shekels ($116 million) of withheld tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority, the first such transfer since April, the Israeli and Palestinian finance ministries said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Israeli government has approved plans to build nearly 5,300 new homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank, a monitoring group said Thursday, the latest in a campaign to accelerate settlement expansion, aimed at cementing Israeli control over the territory and preventing the establishment of a future Palestinian state. – Associated Press

Hamas has broadly agreed to a US-proposed cease-fire plan with Israel, according to a senior American official, though the details still have to be resolved. – Bloomberg

The Hamas militant group said Wednesday it has sent new “ideas” to Qatari mediators aimed at ending the nearly nine-month Gaza war with Israel. – Agence France-Presse

Protesters blocked highways across Israel Thursday morning, starting off the first of four straight days of protests and rallies planned to take place across the country. Protesters called for elections and for a hostage deal. – Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement’s armed wing, Al Quds Brigades, said on Wednesday some Israeli hostages had attempted suicide after it started treating them the same way Israel treated Palestinian prisoners. – Jerusalem Post

An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed during fighting on Thursday in Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood, where the military said troops were continuing to operate against Hamas in close-quarters combat. – Times of Israel

Only two or three people know the whereabouts of Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, sources from the terror group told London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday. – Times of Israel

CNN announced Wednesday that it would no longer use a Gaza freelancer whose ties to Hamas were exposed by HonestReporting. Abdel Qader Sabbah photographed himself with a senior Hamas leader, served in a Hamas-run body to which he also provided work, praised terrorists, and shared anti-Israeli propaganda online, an HonestReporting investigation revealed. – HonestReporting

Editorial: The US is Israel’s greatest ally, and the knowledge around the region that Israel has the US squarely in its corner has significant strategic ramifications. But that remains true only as long as the US stands strong, engaged, respected, and influential. On this July 4, we pray it remains so – for its good as well as our own. – Jerusalem Post

Elliot Kaufman writes: Israel’s task is to erase all the old lines and let its enemies scramble in fear of where the new ones might be. “After Oct. 7,” says Mr. Hagari, the voice of the Israeli military, “we’re not the same country we used to be. We won’t merely ‘contain’ anymore.” Mr. Nasrallah is playing with fire. He and the “serious” Israelis don’t want war right now, but with a weak U.S. president, they may get it anyway. – Wall Street Journal

Iran

Iran’s presidential election runoff Friday presents a stark choice between an anti-Western hard-liner and a reformist. Most Iranian voters are expected to want neither—a sign of the widespread rejection of a system that has brought arduous moral restrictions, an economic slump and a crisis of legitimacy. – Wall Street Journal

In the working-class neighborhood of Tehran surrounding Imam Hussein Square, the side streets and alleys are lined with secondhand stores and small repair shops for refurbishing all manner of household goods. But with little to do, most shopkeepers idle in front of their stores. – New York Times

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that the turnout in the first round of the country’s presidential election was “lower than expected”, semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. – Reuters

After the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, Iranian lawmaker Masoud Pezeshkian wrote that it was “unacceptable in the Islamic Republic to arrest a girl for her hijab and then hand over her dead body to her family.” – Associated Press

Turkmenistan and Iran on Wednesday signed a contract for the delivery of 10 billion cubic meters a year of Turkmen gas that Iran will then ship on to Iraq. – Associated Press

Iran’s central bank governor called for more financial cooperation with Russia while speaking at a conference in St. Petersburg organized by Russian monetary policymakers. – Bloomberg

The winner of Iran’s Friday runoff election will be described in news headlines as either a benevolent “reformist” or a heartless “hardiner.” In reality, Masoud Pezeshkian and Saeed Jalili merely compete to become the Supreme Leader’s yes-man. – New York Sun

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday met Mohammad Mokhber, the interim president of Iran, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. – Agence France- Presse

After almost 800 days in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, the now-free Swedish diplomat Johan Floderus recalled the darkest moments of his imprisonment and how he survived them. – Times of Israel

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: This means that any diplomatic “win” would need to not only get Iran “back in the box” from the 2015 deal, but extend that deal into the future. In the absence of such an extension, the only deterrent to the Islamic Republic crossing the nuclear threshold would be an Israeli air force strike or renewed intense Mossad covert sabotage campaign. – Jerusalem Post

Erfan Fard writes: A regime that disregards the consent of its people, is indifferent to their suffering, and governs all aspects of their lives arbitrarily and beyond the law with an iron fist, inevitably breeds internal crises. Without the active participation of the people in the economy, politics, culture, and governance, no regime can fulfill its purpose effectively. – Jerusalem Post

Alex Vatanka writes: For now, it is a waiting game. On June 28, Pezeshkian secured 10.4 million votes against Jalili’s 9.4 million. Another hardline candidate, Mohammad Qalibaf, got 3.4 million. Will Qalibaf’s supporters all go to Jalili or will many of those who boycotted the first round come out to vote on July 5 in fear of a Jalili presidency, despite the huge reservations so many Iranians have about the value of voting in the Islamic Republic? Only time will tell. – Middle East Institute 

Kourosh Ziabari writes: What is idiosyncratic is that in a homogenous country reeling from chronic isolation, and where the plurality of the citizens may spend their lives interacting only with other Iranians, accommodating Afghans as the only external presence has become such a daunting task. In the absence of prudent leaders to bring reason to the debate, the Iranian public—often self-assured about its progressivism—is negating its self-styled image of hospitality and displaying the unseen contours of its racial tolerance. – Foreign Policy

Russia & Ukraine

The Russian authorities have arrested a top military colonel and charged him with large-scale fraud, the state news agency TASS reported on Thursday. The colonel was previously the commander of troops responsible for a 2022 massacre in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. – New York Times

Russian strikes killed two people and wounded 26 on Thursday in Ukrainian regions stretching from the south to the east and northeast, local authorities said. – Reuters

A Russian court on Thursday sentenced U.S. citizen Robert Romanov Woodland to 12-1/2 years in a maximum security penal colony after finding him guilty of attempting to sell drugs, Woodland’s lawyer and Moscow prosecutors said. – Reuters

Ukraine’s military said on Thursday its troops had pulled back from part of Chasiv Yar in the eastern Donetsk region, a day after Russia said its forces had taken control of a district in the strategic town. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he believed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was sincere about wanting to end the war in Ukraine, but that he did not know how Trump planned to do so if elected. – Reuters

Ukraine shot down 21 out of 22 Shahed drones used in a Russian attack overnight, its air force reported on Thursday. Ukrainian air defence shot down the drones over six regions in northern and central Ukraine, the air force said. – Reuters

Russia will respond to Finland’s decision to grant the United States access to its military bases, a spokesman for Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A Russian missile strike on Ukraine’s Poltava region on Wednesday killed one person and injured three others, the regional governor said. – Reuters

A Ukrainian drone attack injured eight workers from the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and left a nearby town largely without power and water, Russian-backed officials said on Wednesday. – Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday that Kyiv planned to submit a resolution on nuclear safety, in particular at the Russia-occupied Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, for consideration at the United Nations General Assembly. – Reuters

A Ukrainian military intelligence official said on Wednesday that a fire on a Russian warship in the Baltic Sea in April was caused by a joint operation conducted by his GUR agency and a pro-Kyiv Russian military group. – Reuters

The Kremlin on Thursday said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Russia next Monday and Tuesday and hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The visit was first announced by Russian officials last month, but the dates have not been previously disclosed. – Associated Press

Marc Champion writes: It is a prerequisite for rebuilding Russia’s state-civilization and Moscow’s status as the beating heart of a great power. Every peace proposal for Ukraine needs to keep that fact front and center. And if a once and future President Trump wants to play the role of mediator, by all means. But he should start by reading the Kremlin’s new college textbook. – Bloomberg

Dalibor Rohac writes: A failure to do so not only threatens Ukraine’s survival, but leaves some of our best and most reliable allies, such as Poland and the Baltic states, with no choice but to look for alternatives: think unchecked nuclear proliferation, formation of unstable regional alliances, or accommodation of adversaries like China. For those who care about American power in the world and our ability to shape Europe’s future, the time to act is now. – New York Post

Kseniya Kirillova writes: Putin himself has repeatedly stated that “strong interreligious, interconfessional peace” reigns in the country, and “the brotherhood of Christians and Muslims strengthens the unity of the Russian people.” To abandon this myth and accept the reality of homegrown terrorism would reveal a hole at the heart of his entire project. As a result, the real causes of terrorism will continue to be ignored, and the problem will get worse. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi swore in a heavily reshuffled cabinet on Wednesday that includes new finance and foreign ministers in a government facing challenges including the Gaza war on its border, economic woes and daily power cuts. – Reuters

Egypt named an investor-friendly ex-World Bank economist as finance minister alongside business executives and former bankers to other key portfolios, as the nation seeks to move on from the worst economic crisis in decades. – Bloomberg

Mirette F. Mabrouk writes: Yet Egypt’s currently favored position with international allies depends on its ability to maintain internal stability. The situation requires delicate and nuanced handling — qualities that have not often been attributed to successive Egyptian governments. That said, those same governments have often shown enormous propensity for survival. – Middle East Institute 

Yemen

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis will release Mohammed Qahtan, leader of the Islah party, under a deal reached with the Saudi-backed government in Aden, top Houthi negotiator Abdul Qadir Al-Murtada told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters

Yemen’s Houthis are sending drone boats packed with explosives into the Red Sea as they intensify their attacks on merchant ships that have little defence against the “sophisticated shift” in tactic, maritime security sources say. – Reuters

An abandoned tanker that was drifting off Yemen’s coast in June has disappeared and is believed to have sunk, three navy and security sources said, the latest vessel lost in the strategically important Red Sea. – Reuters

Attacks by Iran-backed Houthi militants on the Red Sea have reinvigorated piracy networks in Somalia, with criminal groups growing in both number and force, a European naval commander said. – Bloomberg

Noam Raydan and Farzin Nadimi write: This quasi-coordinated defensive network could face a new challenge if Hezbollah, with its unhindered line of sight, enters the East Mediterranean theater as part of a wider conflict with Israel. Hezbollah is not known to have anything more than Noor (C-802) and Nasr (C-704) radar-guided antiship cruise missiles in its arsenal, with a maximum range of 120 kilometers. However, it likely already has, or may soon have, almost any weapons in the arsenals of the Houthis or the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Saudi Arabia is hungry for homegrown talent like Abdulaziz Almuzaini, whose animation studio in Riyadh produces Netflix shows that evoke the open, modern society idealized by the kingdom’s reform-minded leaders. Saudi Arabia has now also convicted him as a terrorist. – Wall Street Journal

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Ankara could help end the Ukraine-Russia war, but Putin’s spokesman said Erdogan could not play the role of an intermediary in the 28-month-old conflict. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s main humanitarian agency said on Thursday the Israeli closure of Rafah and other crossings into Gaza was hampering its aid efforts to send lifesaving food, some of which was in danger of spoiling. – Reuters

The head of a Tunisian opposition party, Lotfi Mraihi, who has announced his intention to run in a presidential election set for October, has been arrested by police on suspicion of money laundering. – Reuters

Lebanon’s Hezbollah launched a big rocket and drone attack at Israel on Thursday and threatened to hit new targets in retaliation for the killing of a top commander, in the latest surge of violence in the steadily worsening conflict across the border. – Reuters

With cease-fire talks faltering in Gaza and no clear offramp for the conflict on the Lebanon-Israel border, the daily exchanges of strikes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces have sparked fires that are tearing through forests and farmland on both sides of the frontline. – Associated Press

Daesh group militants killed eight people, including two civilians, in an ambush on pro-government militiamen in Syria’s Badia desert, a war monitor reported Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Women and girls subjected to domestic violence in Iraqi Kurdistan face “daunting obstacles” when they seek state protection, Amnesty International said, accusing authorities of failing to prosecute the abusers. – Agence France- Presse

As war rages in Gaza and threatens to spread to Lebanon, Iraqi militant groups warn they are ready to enter the fray against Israel and the United States. – Agence France-Presse

Korean Peninsula

The 67-year-old man who stabbed the leader of South Korea’s opposition Democratic Party in January was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a court on Friday, the Yonhap news agency reported. – Reuters

South Korea’s parliament voted on Thursday to appoint a special prosecutor to probe allegations that military officials and the presidential office interfered in an internal investigation into the death of a marine last year. – Reuters

South Korea should try to address the country’s high prices through structural reforms, a Bank of Korea official said, as the central bank mainly targets the inflation rate rather than price levels. – Reuters

North Korea, world leader in digging military tunnels, will send thousands of engineering troops to Russian-occupied Ukraine this summer, reports South Korean TV channel Chosun. The destination would be Donetsk, a front line region with a 150-year history of coal mining. – New York Sun

China

China is taking tentative new steps to help disrupt the global supply chain fueling the opioid crisis after intensifying criticism from the U.S. that its chemical factories are partly responsible for the deadly scourge. – Wall Street Journal

With Russia mired in a long war in Ukraine and increasingly dependent on China for supplies, Beijing is moving quickly to expand its sway in Central Asia, a region that was once in the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. – New York Times

Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong should be considered an active participant in a landmark subversion case involving 47 democrats, his lawyer said on Friday, but urged a court to hand him a lighter sentence for entering his plea early. – Reuters

China announced the next step in its anti-dumping investigation into European brandy imports on Friday, ramping up tensions on the same day the European Commission’s provisional tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles take effect. – Reuters

China on Thursday rejected Western-led recommendations for human-rights reforms including calls for greater freedoms in Hong Kong and for Uyghurs in Xinjiang, but accepted others from allies, as it sought to defend its record at a U.N. meeting. – Reuters

China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin pressed their case on Thursday for closer security, political and economic cooperation between countries of the vast Eurasian region as a counterweight to Western alliances. – Reuters

China’s President Xi Jinping said he supports Kazakhstan joining the BRICS bloc, Chinese state media reported on Wednesday, as the group of developing nations mulls further expansion to rival a Western-dominated world order it sees as outdated. – Reuters

Robert A. Rogowsky writes: Perhaps the president could save bold intervention in free-markets for, say, a tax incentive for low-priced Chinese EVs for people who make less than 80 percent of the national median income. If the government insists on interfering in the market, at least do it in a manner both consistent with our trade laws and helpful to the people that most need the help. – The Hill

Wilson Beaver and Maria Victoria Almeida Vazquez  write: The Chinese Communist Party is the odd man out here, pushing for a redefinition of treaties and rebalancing of regional power at the expense of most of its neighbors. The U.S. military’s deterrent effect on the Chinese attempt to establish hegemony in the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific more generally serves the national security interests of both the United States and the overwhelming majority of countries in the Indo-Pacific. – The National Interest

South Asia

Indian police said on Thursday they had arrested six people over a stampede at a Hindu religious event in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh this week in which 121 people were killed. – Reuters

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday in Kazakhstan where the two agreed to step up talks to resolve issues along their border, New Delhi said in a statement. – Reuters

Sri Lanka has secured a deal to move forward on restructuring about $12.5 billion of international bonds, the government said on Wednesday, a major step in the island nation’s fragile recovery from a severe financial crisis. – Reuters

A bomb blast killed five people including a former senator in northern Pakistan on Wednesday, police said. – Reuters

Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal faced a crisis on Wednesday after a key ally in his multi-party coalition withdrew support, pushing his government into a minority in parliament four months after the coalition was formed. – Reuters

Pakistan is looking to clinch a staff level agreement on an International Monetary Fund bailout of more than $6 billion this month after addressing all of the lender’s requirements in its annual budget, its junior finance minister told Reuters. – Reuters

In parts of Afghanistan where there are no street names or house numbers, utility companies and their customers have adopted a creative approach for connecting. They use mosques as drop points for bills and cash, a “pay and pray” system. – Associated Press

The Taliban’s delegation to the third United Nations-led Doha meeting on increasing engagement with Afghanistan met with U.S. envoys on the sidelines and discussed the two Americans imprisoned in the central Asian country. – Associated Press

Sadanand Dhume writes: The last BJP prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004), included Muslims among his ministers and nominated a Muslim, Abdul Kalam, to serve as president, India’s ceremonial head of state. Mr. Modi himself has ensured that his council of ministers includes two Sikhs and a Christian. As he embarks on his third term, Mr. Modi is likely to have in mind his legacy. He could easily enhance it by making his party more representative of the country it rules. – Wall Street Journal

Asia

Negotiations between Japan and the Philippines for a Reciprocal Access Agreement on defence and security are close to conclusion, Tokyo’s ambassador to Manila said on Thursday. Reuters

Taiwan on Friday reported renewed Chinese military activity nearby with another “combat patrol” as the government called on Beijing not to escalate tensions after the seizure of a Taiwanese fishing boat. – Reuters

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has ordered his armed forces to defuse tensions in the South China Sea, his military chief said on Thursday, after a flare-up with China over missions to resupply Filipino troops on a contested shoal. – Reuters

Antarctica New Zealand has come up with a new, smaller proposal for the redevelopment of the country’s base in Antarctica, the government institute said on Thursday, after a previous plan was paused due to a budget blow out. – Reuters

Australia will move its top secret intelligence data to the cloud under a A$2 billion deal with Amazon Web Services that Defence Minister Richard Marles said would boost defence force interoperability with the United States. – Reuters

Senior members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian militant network blamed for the deadly Bali bombings, have announced they are disbanding the group, according to a report by a Jakarta-based think tank on Thursday. – Reuters

A Malaysian court dismissed jailed former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s legal bid to obtain a document that he said would allow him to serve his remaining prison sentence under house arrest. – Reuters

Australian Senator Fatima Payman has quit the governing Labor Party to sit as an independent lawmaker over Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s position on the Israel-Hamas conflict and Palestinian statehood. – Bloomberg

Sarang Shidore writes: BRICS is coming of age, and this signifies the Global South’s increasing ability to insert and assert itself in conversations on the future of the global order. An expansion of BRICS to Southeast Asia will further strengthen impulses of reform and multi-alignment, rather than those of either radicalism or bloc-building. It holds the promise of helping counter the practices of the great powers, especially their logic of exclusion and alliance-building. – Foreign Policy

Europe

Opponents of Marine Le Pen agreed to try to pool their voter support against candidates of her far-right party in the final round of the French elections on Sunday, lowering the odds that it will win enough seats to control the French parliament. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union confirmed plans to impose additional tariffs on electric cars made in China, dashing hopes of a solution sought by several carmakers whose executives fear reprisal from an escalating trade war. – Wall Street Journal

Britain’s Labour Party has won a landslide election victory as voters look set to hand its leader Keir Starmer one of the biggest parliamentary majorities in British history and place a center-left government into Downing Street for the first time in 14 years. – Wall Street Journal

Norway condemns Israel’s decision to “legalise” five settlement outposts in occupied Palestinian territory, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said on Thursday. – Reuters

France’s far-right National Rally (RN) party will likely fall short of an absolute majority in forthcoming parliamentary elections, OpinionWay said in a poll for business daily Les Echos published on Friday. – Reuters

Poland hopes to bring in border guards and police from Finland, Germany and Greece to help patrol its frontier with Belarus, a senior official said on Thursday, amid mounting concerns over migration pressures from the east into Europe. – Reuters

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has freed at least 10 political prisoners, rights campaigners said on Thursday, including a veteran opposition figure suffering from cancer. – Reuters

NATO allies have agreed to fund military aid for Ukraine with 40 billion euros ($43 billion) next year, two Western European diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday, a week before the alliance’s leaders are set to meet in Washington. – Reuters

Slovakia’s highest legal authority on Wednesday ruled that key provisions of a contentious amendment of the penal code drafted by the government of populist Prime Minister Robert Fico are in line with the country’s constitution. – Associated Press

A Polish man was charged on Wednesday with assaulting Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen last month, his lawyer said. – Associated Press

European Council President Charles Michel warned Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose country holds the bloc’s rotating presidency, not to speak with Russia on behalf on the European Union. – Bloomberg

Viktor Orbán is expected to meet Vladimir Putin on Friday just after the Hungarian leader’s first wartime visit to Kyiv in what appears to be an attempt to act as a peace broker between Russia and Ukraine. – Financial Times

Editorial: If this election had a mood, it was exasperation. Voters were fed up with an exhausted Conservative Party but not all that enthusiastic about Mr. Starmer. This suggests voters want a change from the Tories but have some anxiety about the change they want—or will get. Mr. Starmer has a chance as Prime Minister to convince the British people he can revive Britain’s sclerotic economy and maintain its place in the world. The pressure is on the Tories in particular to rethink what they stand for after this humiliating defeat. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: But for the new right’s de facto reform agenda to work, and for the EU to maintain any sort of popular legitimacy, Brussels has to show it’s willing to become better in the ways voters want. That Brussels is refusing to do this yet again, even after such a big electoral rebuke, might make voters start to wonder if the EU really can be saved. – Wall Street Journal

E.J. Dionne writes: Starmer recognized that voters in all the democracies are skeptical of grand and gaudy promises. “People need hope,” he told the Financial Times, “but it needs to be realistic hope.” This is an excellent starting point for advocates of change. – Washington Post

Lionel Laurent writes: Some good can come from this dice roll, in other words. But it all depends on French voters being willing to align their choices with their elected representatives. If calls for a republican front turn out to be just empty rhetoric, France’s crisis runs deeper than we think. – Bloomberg

Africa

The battle unfolding for the emirate of Kano — one of West Africa’s oldest and most revered kingdoms — is not just a struggle for an ancient throne, but also part of a wider contest for control over the most populous state in Africa’s most populous country. – New York Times

Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and the Maldives are allowed to intervene in Gambia’s Myanmar genocide case with the International Court of Justice, the ICJ said in a statement on Wednesday. – Reuters

Ghana’s Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia of the country’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has picked the current energy minister as his running mate for December’s presidential election. – Reuters

Kenyan President William Ruto spoke by phone with International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva in the days after he withdrew $2.7 billion in proposed tax hikes in response to deadly protests, two diplomatic sources told Reuters. – Reuters

Nigeria has been chosen to host the newly formed Africa Energy Bank (AEB), its oil minister said on Thursday, as Africa’s top oil producer beat three rival countries for rights to the multilateral lender. – Reuters

Ethiopia will receive $10.5 billion in support over the coming years if long-running negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are successful, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday. – Reuters

Niger’s junta has agreed to talks with Benin’s government, led by two former Benin presidents, to help restore relations after a coup in Niger last year led to the border closing and a China-backed oil pipeline shutting down. – Reuters

An armed group attacked a wedding ceremony in central Mali and killed at least 21 people, residents said Wednesday, as the West African nation’s military rulers struggle to combat growing violence by extremists. – Associated Press

The Americas

Canada authorized the implementation of a digital-services tax, a move that threatens to trigger trade retaliation from Congress and the Biden administration. – Wall Street Journal

Brazilian federal police on Thursday formally accused former President Jair Bolsonaro of embezzlement for allegedly misappropriating jewelry he received while head of state, including luxury items given by the Saudi Arabian government, two police sources said. – Reuters

Peru’s Congress passed a law on Thursday introducing a statute of limitations for crimes against humanity, despite opposition from human rights organizations who argue the measure will hamper ongoing investigations into serious abuses. – Reuters

Mexican President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum on Thursday named Omar Garcia Harfuch to be her security minister in a bid to repeat the successes in fighting crime she achieved as mayor of Mexico City. – Reuters

The presidents of Peru and Ecuador pledged to join efforts to fight transnational organized crime and also discussed new possibilities for oil processing, Peruvian Dina Boluarte said on Thursday. – Reuters

The Americas’ top human rights agency on Thursday urged Argentine authorities to respect people’s freedom of assembly, after reports that police used excessive force against peaceful protesters and journalists. – Reuters

An agreement between Panama and the United States to try to deter migrants from crossing the treacherous Darien jungle, by repatriating those that enter the Central American country illegally, is unlikely to succeed and could make journeys even more dangerous. – Reuters

Opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez said he was optimistic millions of Venezuelan voters would spark a democratic transition when they cast their ballots against incumbent Nicolas Maduro at presidential elections later in July. – Reuters

Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that the arrival of the first Kenyan police officers under a U.N.-backed mission marked a critical stage to restoring security in a country ravaged by gang violence. – Reuters

Canada has ordered the deportation of Bagher Ardeshir Larijani, a member of Iran’s once powerful Larijani family, turning him into the latest individual affiliated with the Islamic Republic being removed from the country. – Iran International

United States

President Biden’s faltering performance in last week’s debate has raised new concerns among allies already worried about the possibility of a second Trump presidency as they head to Washington in coming days for a U.S.-hosted NATO summit. – Washington Post

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have identified an Israeli air base as a key source of GPS attacks that have disrupted civilian airline navigation in the Middle East. – New York Times

Allies of the United States had already been looking at the country’s upcoming election with anxiety. Now, with the United States Supreme Court granting an unprecedented expansion of executive power by giving presidents legal immunity, analysts in some of those countries are even more concerned about the reliability of American power. – New York Times

The United States welcomed a two-week humanitarian truce in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the White House said on Thursday, amid fierce fighting between government troops and Rwanda-backed M23 rebels. – Reuters

The United States Congress will make sure that Israel has all the tools necessary to defend itself because its battle against terror groups is also America’s battle, US Representative David Kustoff (R-TN) said in Jerusalem as Israel battles two Iranian proxy groups on its border. – Jerusalem Post

Douglas Murray writes: He should explain that when he is back in charge, he expects all these hostages to be released. All of them. And that they better be in the best possible condition. Otherwise Russia, Qatar and Iran are going to pay big time. Countries like those mentioned do not respect weakness. They respect force. When Americans can be seized and held anywhere in the world, it is clear that America has lost that force and that respect. It is time to get it back. – New York Post

Jane Perlez writes: Still, the United States is aware that China now has the upper hand in the South China Sea. Now more than ever, Washington needs to press Beijing for substantive military-to-military talks to ensure that a crisis in the South China Sea does not escalate into conflict. – Foreign Affairs

Michael Rubin writes: The State Department should, therefore, demand that Tshisekedi warehouse Chinese drones and cut the contracts he has given East European mercenaries who have flooded the eastern region to bolster Congo’s military. If the Biden administration instead chooses neglect, the world should prepare for a third Congo War, one that could leave millions dead and all Congolese will lose. U.S. policy in Congo is enabling the slide toward ethnic violence against Congolese Tutsis. – The National Interest

Cybersecurity

President Joe Biden’s executive branch has distinguished itself on cybersecurity policy from previous administrations with its willingness to embrace regulations — often with a bit of creative lawyering involved. – CyberScoop

An international coalition of law enforcement agencies have taken action against hundreds of installations of the Cobalt Strike software, a penetration testing tool notoriously abused by both state-sponsored and criminal hackers involved in the ransomware ecosystem. – The Record

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) on Wednesday sent Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly a stern letter seeking documentation and answers relating to a January hack of the agency’s Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT) along with the breach of a second sensitive system. – The Record

Researchers say they have discovered a new ransomware group named Volcano Demon that has carried out at least two successful attacks in the past two weeks. – The Record

Defense

A hypersonic test bed built by Kratos took its first flight last month, launching experiments for the Missile Defense Agency and hitting speeds above Mach 5. – Defense News

The Air Force’s E-11A airborne communications relay planes have been referred to as “WiFi in the sky” for their ability to share battlefield data with faraway aircraft as well as troops on the ground, including across the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan for which they were developed. – Defense News

Owen West writes: AI drones will put our forces at risk, from ships to infantry. Just as the armored blitzkrieg caught Europe off-guard in World War II, so has the proliferation of drone munitions today. America holds a distinct advantage in AI, but harnessing that advantage requires investment risk. That can happen only if generals and the defense secretary acknowledge that America’s expensive military machines risk being overrun by swarms of cheap versions of a technology that we invented. – Wall Street Journal

Jaret Riddick writes: Untapped talent from U.S. populations typically underrepresented as stewards of technology presents a valuable asset for the country today. America’s diversity is once again poised to serve as a critical asset for U.S. national security and prosperity. In order to meet the moment, the U.S. must find a way to unleash its demographic riches. – DefenseScoop