Fdd's overnight brief

July 9, 2020

In The News


A top United Nations investigator condemned the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January as unlawful, saying Washington failed to provide sufficient evidence that he posed an immediate threat to American interests to justify the drone strike. – Wall Street Journal

The United States on Wednesday blasted a UN finding that a US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general was unlawful, saying the report whitewashed Qasem Soleimani’s record. – Agence France-Presse 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that U.S. and partner forces seized a boat in June carrying Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen as he renewed his call for the U.N. Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran. – Reuters 

A July 6, 2020 article, published by the IRGC-affiliated Mehr News Agency (MNA,) provided an assessment of the recent changes introduced by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to the Iraqi security institution, arguing that that his intention was to contain the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and empower U.S. forces in Iraq. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

An ultra-conservative member of Iran’s parliament on Tuesday accused the U.N. nuclear watchdog investigators of “spying” and “infiltration” in Iran’s nuclear facilities and said the information they collected had contributed to the explosion at Natanz nuclear facility on July 2. – Radio Farda 

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday called on the International community to “deal seriously with the nuclear and ballistic programs being developed by Iran” and to take appropriate measures to extend the UN arms embargo on the country. – Radio Farda 

Under the cover of night, Chinese vessels are illegally cleaning out fish resources in the Persian Gulf, a pro-reform Iranian daily, Sharq (Orient) disclosed on Wednesday, July 8. – Radio Farda

A rumor campaign in Iran, apparently being pushed by populist and nationalist voices, has asserted that a secret deal by the regime foresees a roadmap agreement with Beijing that would give China rights to some islands. Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi had to deny reports that there are islands at the center of a comprehensive program between Iran and China. – Jerusalem Post 

Nearly three quarters of Iran’s main centrifuge assembly hall was destroyed by the recent explosion there, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) President David Albright has told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: Whoever is behind the recent attacks in Iran seems to be working on the assumption that – at least for the time being – Iran’s hands are tied. A clear signal is also being sent that even with all the other dangers currently facing humanity, to allow the Iranians to march forward with their nuclear ambitions would be utter folly that would make the current threats facing the world seem minor in comparison. – Jerusalem Post 

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian write: The centrifuge assembly building was reportedly intended to mass produce IR-2m, IR-4, and IR-6 centrifuges. Mass production translates to the combined production of thousands of such centrifuges per year. Although the explosion and fire at the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center does not eliminate Iran’s ability to deploy advanced centrifuges, such as the IR-2m’s, its destruction must be viewed as a major setback to Iran’s ability to deploy advanced centrifuges on a mass scale for years to come. – Institute for Science and International Security 

Amos Harel writes: The explosion in Natanz was the key event in a series of explosions and fires that occurred in Iran over the course of a week, a mysterious series of incidents in which, according to reports, a missile production facility, a clinic, a factory and a power station were hit in various and distant points within the country. – Haaretz 

Matthew Petti writes: No terrorist plot seems to have materialized. The Department of Homeland Security issued another bulletin warning about Iranian-backed terrorism in retaliation for Suleimani’s death, but that bulletin expired in March and has not been updated. But this doesn’t mean that the threat has completely passed. – The National Interest 

Caleb Larson writes: Iran has struggled to maintain foreign military equipment domestically, particularly naval equipment, despite several quirky domestic submarine designs. This truck-mounted Kilo might be no exception. – The National Interest


Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyoub and Chief of Staff for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mohammad Bagheri signed a military cooperation agreement on Wednesday, including a commitment by Iran to strengthen Syrian air defense systems, according to Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen news. – Jerusalem Post 

A Russian bid to halve access for humanitarian aid deliveries to Syria from Turkey to just one border crossing failed at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, garnering just four votes in favor from the 15-member body. – Reuters 

When Italian authorities announced last week that they had seized 15.4 tons of counterfeit Captagon produced by ISIS in Syria to fund terrorism, it was lauded as one of the largest drug busts in history. – Fox News 


Since it was built in the sixth century, changing hands from empire to empire, Hagia Sophia has been a Byzantine cathedral, a mosque under the Ottomans and finally a museum, making it one of the world’s most potent symbols of Christian-Muslim rivalry and of Turkey’s more recent devotion to secularism. – New York Times 

Russia’s TASS media only says that a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS that the S-400 was tested on the US-made F-16s. The S-400s are the center a controversy with Washington. By acquiring them for billions of dollars, Turkey has distanced itself from its traditional US ally and become a closer ally of Russia. – Jerusalem Post 

Nilsu Goren and Dalia Dassa Kaye write: These are tough days for Turkey’s future in the Western alliance. But a long-term approach that looks beyond the current leadership and identifies openings for cooperation and engagement in the future when strategic conditions and political orientations may change could help. Building on this shared interest in WMD proliferation in an active conflict region and reinforcing norms for the peaceful use of nuclear energy may help alleviate the myriad tensions in US-Turkish relations and provide a foundation for improved relations in the future. – Al-Monitor


A House subcommittee included $250 million in funding for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue programs and Palestinian business development in a major spending bill — a pushback against Trump administration defunding in both areas. – Times of Israel 

When Greek Ambassador Panagiotis Sarris arrived in Israel, the world was a different place. He landed on February 20 and was set to give his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin two and a half weeks later, but by then Israel – along with much of the world – was locking down to curb the spread of coronavirus. – Jerusalem Post 

The return of the Palestinian refugees to their original places of residence, including to localities inside Israel,  is a central demand of the Palestinians, who regard it as a principle that cannot be relinquished in any negotiation toward a permanent solution with Israel. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Israel recently sent the Hamas terror group a new proposal for a prisoner swap and is awaiting the terror group’s response, according to a Wednesday report. – Times of Israel 

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reiterated the regional institution’s rejection of the prospect of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank on Wednesday, saying it could put the relationship between the EU and Israel in jeopardy. – Haaretz 


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Iraq to hold to account those responsible for the assassination of a prominent Iraqi security analyst who had been threatened by Iran-backed militias, raising pressure on the new government to rein in the powerful paramilitary groups. – Wall Street Journal 

Iraq’s new leader has taken significant steps to confront Iranian-linked militias that have targeted American troops, a top U.S. military official said Tuesday, adding that the United States must remain patient as Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi challenges groups with formidable military and political clout. – Washington Post 

 A powerful Iran-backed militia said Wednesday there would be “escalation” if Iraq’s prime minister continues to clamp down on armed groups, as tensions spiked following the killing of a prominent analyst, pitting the state against rogue elements. – Associated Press 


A Lebanese businessman serving a five-year sentence in the United States for providing millions of dollars to Hezbollah, the militant group, arrived Wednesday in Beirut after his early release. – Associated Press 

A U.S. general voiced Washington’s backing for Lebanese stability on Wednesday on a visit that triggered a protest by demonstrators including supporters of the Iran-backed Hezbollah against U.S. policies in the country. – Reuters 

Ahead of the anniversary of Hezbollah’s AMIA bombing, the Anti Defamation League sent a letter to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, urging him to designate Hezbollah as an Entity of Particular Concern for International Religious Freedom, “due to its ongoing efforts to destroy Israel and target Jewish communities. – Jerusalem Post 

Arabian Peninsula

War-torn Yemen is once again on the brink of famine as donor funds that averted catastrophe just 18 months ago have dried up, the country’s UN humanitarian coordinator told AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

Jobless and broke, Sudanese electrician Hatem is stranded in limbo in Riyadh like countless other illegal workers, but he hopes the fast-spreading coronavirus will offer a chance for escape. While coronavirus drives a huge exodus of expatriates, campaigners say potentially hundreds of thousands of illegal workers remain stranded in Saudi Arabia, complicating efforts to fight the disease. – Agence France-Presse 

Ghada Oueiss writes: There has been a disturbing rise in gender-related harassment and threats against female public figures. The movement for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia has terrified the government, which has insisted on doling out reforms on its own terms while detaining the female activists behind the movement. Loujain al-Hathloul, the most prominent of the Saudi women campaigners, and several others remain behind bars. – Washington Post

Oliver B. John writes: The Saudis will want to be seen as playing a responsible role as the president of the G-20 in the run-up to the body’s summit in November. They have repeatedly indicated, however, that they are unwilling to bear the entire burden of balancing the oil markets on their own, which they clearly demonstrated in March. – Middle East Institute


Petroleum facilities guards prevented a tanker from entering Libya’s Es Eider port to load a cargo of crude oil from storage on Wednesday, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) said in a statement. – Reuters 

Pope Francis on Wednesday compared migrant detention centres in Libya to concentration camps, saying the world was being given only a diluted version of how hellish life really was for the people living there. – Reuters 

Russia and Turkey are working on an immediate ceasefire agreement for the conflict in Libya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Interfax news agency. – Reuters 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council on Wednesday that the conflict in Libya has entered a new phase with “unprecedented levels” of foreign interference and mercenaries in the oil-producing country. – Reuters 

Walter Russell Mead writes: The war also underlines the weakness of the Sunni Arab world and its need for a strong relationship with Israel. That the Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia can’t control political developments in nearby Libya illustrates the depth of the Arab crisis. These states also failed to steer the course of the Syrian war or prevent Lebanon’s collapse. They need allies to balance both Turkey and Iran, and as the U.S. withdraws, Israel is the only real option they have. – Wall Street Journal 

Middle East & North Africa

But the global uproar over racism, prompted by the police killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, has contributed to heightened dismay over the treatment of these often darker-skinned migrant workers from Africa and Asia and sparked wider debate among Arabs about racism in their own societies. – Washington Post 

A flood of accusations against a 21-year-old Egyptian university student who attended some of the country’s most exclusive schools poured out on social media in the past week after dozens of women posted detailed allegations of sexual harassment and assault. […]Still, the intense focus on Mr. Zaki, who has been remanded in custody until July 21, has opened a new front in the fight for women’s rights, albeit one that is overlaid with complex social divisions. – New York Times 

Efforts by the United Arab Emirates to fight the coronavirus have renewed questions about mass surveillance in this U.S.-allied federation of seven sheikhdoms. – Associated Press

Korean Peninsula

New satellite images obtained by CNN show recent activity at a previously undeclared North Korean facility that researchers suspect is being used to build nuclear warheads. – CNN 

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, the top U.S. official on U.S.-North Korean affairs, on Wednesday said that Washington is willing to resume talks with Pyongyang but disputed reports that he was seeking to meet with North Korean officials during a visit to South Korea. – The Hill 

South Korea on Thursday asked a visiting senior U.S. envoy to try to revive stalled nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, which has refused to resume talks because of what it calls hostile U.S. policies. – Associated Press 

Darcie Draudt writes: Inter-Korean summits may promise a thaw in relations, but they must be accompanied by changes in thinking as well as substantial and sustained political will from not only elites but also society at large. While an important dream for us to realize in the near future, an end to the Korean War through unification, unfortunately, seems highly unlikely within the next five years. – The National Interest


FBI Director Christopher A. Wray on Tuesday stepped up his criticism of China’s alleged efforts to steal U.S. technology and use subterfuge to pressure policymakers, warning that China is trying to penetrate American firms working on lifesaving research into the coronavirus. – Washington Post 

China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia, but only if the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Thursday that China and U.S. relations face the most serious challenges since diplomatic ties were established in 1979 but the two countries can return to the right track. – Reuters 

China said on Wednesday it will impose visa restrictions on U.S. citizens who have engaged in what it called “egregious” behaviour over Tibet, in apparent retaliation against U.S restrictions on Chinese officials. – Reuters 

China lashed out at the Trump administration over its decision to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. – The Hill 

China has given a subtle hint of willingness to discuss arms control agreements pertaining to its “dangerous and destabilizing” nuclear weapons buildup, according to a senior State Department official. – Washington Examiner 

China’s top diplomat blasted U.S. policy toward Beijing while also proposing a blueprint for getting spiraling relations between the world’s biggest economies back on track. – Bloomberg 

Chinese state media have accused American leaders of pushing the world towards conflict by their Beijing-skeptic policies and abandonment of multilateral diplomacy, framing Beijing as the victim of Washington, D.C.’s aggressive foreign policy. – Newsweek 

Editorial: The more creatively Washington wants to think about how to hold Beijing accountable, the better. But the Administration should take care to play to American strengths rather than undermining them in the process. One of the biggest strengths is a fully convertible dollar. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: He could have skirted trouble, but he chose instead to stand up courageously for principles of openness, democracy and accountability. After he did so, the machinery of repression lurched into gear and demonstrated in plain sight that everything the professor wrote — that Mr. Xi leads a dictatorship — is quite true. – Washington Post 

Eli Lake writes: That is always a risk with Trump. At the same time, the dangers of investing in China will remain whether Trump is president or not. Regardless of its motivations or timing, the administration’s campaign will serve a useful purpose if it causes Western corporations to reassess their relationship with a U.S. adversary. – Bloomberg 

Rebeccah Heinrichs writes: Mr. Billingslea is exactly right to pursue this effort and to rally international support to persuade China to cooperate. China’s insistence on keeping its nuclear program shrouded in secrecy will not work out to its advantage, as U.S. nuclear strategists and planners will be forced to make worst-case-scenario assumptions. – National Review

Barak M. Seener writes: The current global pandemic, as well as the attempt to offset risk due to the U.S.-China decoupling, is causing companies to embrace digital technologies that will offer end to end visibility in their supply chains. This will offer an unprecedented level of transparency that will impact business approaches towards risk management and changing markets. – The National Interest 

Kris Osborn writes: In fact, in recent years Congressional leaders have already voiced concern regarding the possibility that Chinese-engineered parts might be making their way into some U.S. weapons systems. This is exactly the kind of thing which caused concern among those aware of the FCC’s decision regarding Ligado. China already has a well-known and documented history of attempted cyber intrusions into U.S. networks and computer systems. – The National Interest  

Lauren Speranza writes: But NATO, long worried about Russia, has largely been silent on China. Now, that is changing. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently called on the alliance to stand up to Beijing’s “bullying and coercion,” underscoring how China’s rise is fundamentally shifting the global balance of power. It’s apparent that NATO can no longer ignore the threat. If the alliance hopes to remain competitive, it will need to develop a new strategy for dealing with Beijing. – Foreign Policy 

Li Fan writes: But China’s policies changed in the opposite direction: Its extension of military muscle into the South China Sea, economic and political expansion through the Belt and Road Initiative, persistence in unfair trade practices with the United States, and theft and forced transfer of American and European technology have convinced many countries that China’s government misled them. We seem to be on the brink of an ideological confrontation—a new cold war that would bring disaster to China, the United States, and the world. – Foreign Policy


U.S. media reports of a Russian bounty program to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are a “downright lie,” Moscow’s ambassador in Washington said Wednesday, and are “poisoning the atmosphere of cooperation” on Afghan peace between the two countries. – Washington Post 

Two House conservatives are calling on President Trump to “immediately withdraw” all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, arguing the country needs to stop engaging in “endless wars.” – The Hill 

Afghan authorities said Wednesday they will not release hundreds of Taliban captives deemed “too dangerous” despite planned peace talks that hinge on the prisoner exchange. – Agence France-Presse 

The Trump administration has opened up a leak investigation to discover who disclosed classified intelligence reports related to an alleged plot by the Russians to pay bounties to Taliban fighters who kill U.S. or coalition forces in Afghanistan.  Washington Examiner

South Asia

A Hindu temple planned for Islamabad, the city’s first, was supposed to be a symbol of tolerance. Instead, violence and controversy have turned it into an emblem of Pakistan’s troubled relationship with its religious minorities. – New York Times 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday accused China of taking “incredibly aggressive action” in a recent clash with India over a disputed section of the nuclear-armed neighbors’ border, saying Beijing had a pattern of instigating territorial disputes. – Reuters 

Indian police have arrested 12 LG Polymers officials, including its South Korean Chief Executive Sunkey Jeong, an officer said on Wednesday, two months after a gas leak at the company’s south Indian chemical plant killed 12. […]Meena said the charges could draw prison terms of up to eight years if proven in court. – Reuters 

Suspected militants shot dead a local leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the restive territory of Kashmir on Wednesday, police said, an attack that could increase tensions in the region. – Reuters 

Pakistan said it invited India on Wednesday to file a review against a military court’s death sentence last year on former Indian navy commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav on charges of espionage and sabotage. – Reuters 

 Indian and Chinese troops have begun pulling back from large tracts of land along their remote Himalayan boundary, a move aimed at defusing a nine-week standoff between the two nuclear-armed neighbors that resulted in the loss of lives on both sides. – Bloomberg  

Michael Rubin writes: Pakistan could succeed, but decades of failing to hold Inter-Services Intelligence terror complicity to account have soiled Pakistan’s reputation, undermined its security, and left the country teetering on the edge of financial and security failure. The Ehsan case affirms that Pakistani authorities, including its judiciary, are either incompetent, complicit, or both. Either way, the most senior heads in the Pakistani government and Inter-Services Intelligence should roll. – Washington Examiner 

Yasmeen Serhan writes: Modi’s efforts to reduce tensions while placating his voters expose something of a strongman paradox—one in which the prime minister, whose leadership has projected a hawkish and muscular image, must contend with the reality that India cannot afford a full-scale economic retaliation against China, let alone a military one. They also offer a case study for how nationalist leaders can back down from confrontation while still saving face. – The Atlantic 

Emily Tamkin writes: But being friendly with Washington does not mean New Delhi can’t maintain important ties with Moscow. The world has changed, but India and Russia have found ways for their relationship to hold firm, standing steady for each other at times when the rest of the world wouldn’t, maintaining largely consistent foreign policies despite changing leaderships, and refusing to bury a historic partnership. – Foreign Policy 

Dan Altman writes: The relationship between disputed territory, conquest, and war is so strong that even small faits accomplis are more dangerous than other types of conflicts in a world where larger conquests are rare. An initially nonviolent competition to build military posts in disputed territory culminated in the only modern war between India and China in 1962. It could happen again. – War on the Rocks 

Zuha Siddiqui writes: In a country where democracy has often been interrupted by military coups, it is ironic that a government allegedly backed by the military (word on the street when Khan won election in July 2018 was that he was the military’s favored candidate, a notion he was quick to deny) is now fighting for survival. The budget debacle was followed by yet another catastrophic scandal—just one month after a plane crash that killed 98 people, 150 out of 434 pilots working for national carrier PIA were found to have “bogus or suspicious licenses.” – Foreign Policy


First the construction signs went up, then a flagpole appeared and police officers started to swarm the streets. Within hours, a skyscraper hotel in a cozy neighborhood of bars, apartments and boutiques was transformed into something new: the headquarters of Beijing’s powerful new security agency for the city. – Wall Street Journal 

Australia will suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong because of the new national security law imposed by China and extend temporary visas for Hong Kongers in the country, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday. – New York Times 

Hong Kong’s public broadcaster has long been a rare example of a government-funded news organization operating on Chinese soil that fearlessly attempts to hold officials accountable. – New York Times

Hong Kong’s education secretary on Wednesday banned students from singing the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong,” posting slogans with political messages or forming human chains, saying “the schools are obliged to stop” such activities. – New York Times 

The Chinese embassy in Australia said on Wednesday that Canberra’s warning that Australians risked arbitrary detention in China was “completely ridiculous and disinformation”. – Reuters 

Foreign ministers from the Five Eyes intelligence sharing group discussed the situation in Hong Kong during a conference call on Wednesday, a Canadian government official told Reuters. – Reuters  

An anti-terrorism law that grants sweeping powers to president Rodrigo Duterte’s government is facing mounting legal challenges, as rights groups warn the legislation signals a new, dark chapter for the Philippines. – The Guardian

The commanders of two Navy aircraft carrier strike groups sailing in the contested South China say their operations demonstrated support for the idea of freedom on the seas. –  Washington Times 

Robert D. Kaplan writes: Consider Vietnam, which has both a land border with China and a bloody history with it. Vietnam’s vulnerable geography makes it prone to greater Chinese influence were Trump to become even more unreliable. The case is similar with the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. We can never take these countries for granted. It is all about geography: China’s very size and proximity make a sturdy and unquestioning U.S. regional order essential for the power balance in Asia. – Washington Post 

Roger Kangas writes: In short, the Central Asian states will continue to explore their own “agency” and seek multiple opportunities for engagement. Russia and China are key actors, but hardly the only ones—and fall far short of exercising the influence necessary to dictate the actions and political priorities of Central Asia’s five increasingly prosperous and independent states. – American Foreign Policy Council 

James Palmer writes: The ramifications of China’s draconian national security law in Hong Kong are growing, both within the city and beyond. Libraries are pulling pro-democracy books from the shelves, lawyers have issued a strong but likely futile letter of protest, political songs are banned at schools, and the police have sweeping new powers. And in the United States, the Senate has passed new legislation targeting Chinese officials and banks for their role in repression in Hong Kong. – Foreign Policy 

Chit Wai John Mok, Lev Nachman and Nathan Kar Ming Chan writes: If interest in Taiwan materializes, Tsai will need to make Taiwan’s new Hong Kong assistance office even more robust. Fortunately, the issue of Hong Kong has been viewed with more consensus across party lines, with the pro-Beijing Kuomintang even supporting legislation to help Hong Kongers flee to Taiwan. […]Although symbolic support for Hong Kong was high during the 2020 Taiwanese election, we still do not know the extent to which those in Taiwan support allowing Hong Kongers to become Taiwanese residents on a more substantive policy level. – Foreign Policy 


Russian journalists have launched a petition demanding treason allegations against a former reporter be made public, fearing the case is bogus and that media are being increasingly persecuted. – Reuters 

In a nationwide ballot that ended last week on reforms to the constitution proposed by Putin, Nenets was the only region in Russia out of 85 to reject the proposals, with more than 55 percent voting against. While the vote sent a clear signal to Moscow, it was also a warning to local politicians facing re-election later this year. – Agence France-Presse 

The Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet recently has been deploying its submarines to the Mediterranean, despite a decades-old international treaty which many thought would prevent those deployments. – USNI News


Thousands of Serbs demonstrated for a second consecutive night on Wednesday in response to President Aleksandar Vucic’s management of the coronavirus crisis and wider concerns over the state of democracy in Serbia. – New York Times 

As Germany reappraises its long-standing reliance on the United States amid growing tensions with Washington over security and trade, there is less doubt among the country’s leaders about the necessity to reenergize its partnership with China, Germany’s largest trading partner. – Politico 

Lithuania took Russian broadcaster RT off-air on Wednesday, citing the channel’s ties to EU-sanctioned Russian media executive Dmitry Kiselyov. The move follows a similar ban on RT in Latvia last week, where regulator called RT “propaganda” and also said the channel was controlled by Kiselyov, the head of Russia’s state-backed Rossiya Segodnya news agency. – Reuters 

The Bosnian Serb government is indoctrinating children with denials of the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, and wrecking attempts at reconciliation, the head of a U.N. court said in an interview. – Reuters 

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pulled out of a London event at the last minute on Wednesday after organisers said he had to attend meetings linked to the U.S. notification of its withdrawal from the WHO. – Reuters 

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci said he will travel to the Netherlands on July 13 to be interviewed by international prosecutors following his indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in its independence conflict. – Reuters 

Britain’s new post-Brexit sanctions regime faces an early test over London’s deteriorating relationship with China, as calls mount for it to be used against Beijing officials. – Agence France-Presse 

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei urged Britain on Wednesday not to rush into taking any costly decision to phase out its equipment from the UK’s 5G network because of US sanctions. – Agence France-Presse 

Tom Miller writes: It has taken a quarter of a century to bring a measure of justice to the survivors of Srebrenica. We must and we can ensure that justice is delivered more timely elsewhere. That would be a fitting tribute to those who were murdered in the forests and townships of eastern Bosnia in that blood-soaked summer 25 years ago. – The Hill 

Tom Rogan writes: Economic interests cannot justify continued closed eyes to China’s malevolent activity. Duncan Smith argued that Britain must reassess how it can deal with a nation that is “not obeying any of the rules that exist in that rules-based order.” – Washington Examiner 

Sudha David-Wilp and Elisabeth Winter write: It has been several years since the idea of German leadership was popular among its allies and past enemies alike. The country had bounced back relatively well from the 2008 financial crisis and was recognized for its adoption of renewable energy. Admiration for Germany grew, perhaps hitting a brief peak in 2015 thanks to its handling of that year’s refugee crisis, but since the last federal election in 2017, it had become apparent that Merkel and her country’s trademark policies were losing their shine. – Foreign Policy


Africa’s prison population of more than one million is especially vulnerable because of overcrowding, malnutrition and limited healthcare, health experts say. Patchy testing and reporting have frustrated efforts to track and contain its spread – both behind bars and in the community. – Reuters  

Congo’s deputy health minister has accused cabinet members of receiving kickbacks on government contracts for the coronavirus response while health workers went unpaid for months. – Reuters 

The US government formally launched talks with Kenya on Wednesday aimed at setting up a free trade agreement that could form the basis for deals with other African nations. – Agence France-Presse 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday called for the release of Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who has been held hostage by suspected Islamist militants since March. – Reuters 

The United States on Wednesday threatened to withdraw security assistance to Burkina Faso after reports that the West African country’s army was responsible for the extrajudicial mass execution of 180 men. – Agence France-Presse 

Armed only with a knife, Issa Tamboure was no match for gun-wielding jihadists who attacked his village in northern Burkina Faso in March. – Associated Press 

Latin America

The police chief, hit three times, survived, even managing to send a few tweets from his hospital bed after emergency surgery to make sure everyone knew whom he blamed for the attack: The Jalisco New Generation Cartel, a group U.S. counterdrug officials consider the biggest criminal drug threat to the U.S. – Wall Street Journal   

Colombia’s leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels have proposed a three-month ceasefire to the government of right-wing President Ivan Duque. The guerrilla movement — the last of its type still fighting government forces in Colombia — asked the government late on Tuesday to “agree a bilateral 90-day ceasefire” in response to a call from the United Nations to reduce violence and conflicts during the coronavirus pandemic. – Agence France-Presse 

Facebook Inc. has removed dozens of pages linked to Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and his sons for violating the platform’s rules regarding fake accounts. – Bloomberg  

Federal investigators said Wednesday they have seized 81 vehicles worth an estimated $3.2 million that were bound for Venezuela as part of a smuggling ring operated for wealthy and politically connected people. –  Associated Press 

The Brazilian Press Association said on Wednesday it will file a lawsuit in Brazil’s Supreme Court against President Jair Bolsonaro over possibly exposing members of the media to COVID-19, CNN reports. – Arutz Sheva

Facebook Inc on Wednesday suspended a network of social media accounts it said were used to spread divisive political messages online by employees of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and two of his sons. – Reuters 

North America

The FBI is examining exiled Chinese businessman Guo Wengui and the money used to fund his media efforts in the U.S., including his work with Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to President Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal  

U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will hold their first face-to-face meeting on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., a potentially risky encounter for the Mexican leader who has entered into a useful marriage of convenience with Mr. Trump since being elected president two years ago. – Wall Street Journal 

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is nearing victory in his battle with the FBI, but the liberal media raised rumors in a parallel operation about the career intelligence officer, his appearance at a dinner in Cambridge, England, and a Russia-born, British citizen scholar. – Washington Times 

Venezuelan consumer prices rose 19.5% in June compared with the prior month, data from the opposition-controlled National Assembly showed on Wednesday, as surging inflation contributes to rising poverty in the once-prosperous OPEC nation. […]Maduro blames U.S. sanctions for the South American country’s economic woes, but his opponents say that the root causes lie in the government’s interventionist policies such as price controls and expropriations of private assets. – Reuters 

The United States will leave the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 6, 2021, the United Nations said on Tuesday, after receiving notification of the decision by President Donald Trump, who has accused the agency of becoming a puppet for China during the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters 

There have been at least 66 incidents of cars driving into protesters between May 27 and July 6, including 59 by civilians and seven by law enforcement, according to Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats. […]Vehicles have been used as tools of terror for decades, but they’re more common now than they were 10 years ago, the experts said. – USA Today 

Editorial: It is a pity that the coronavirus had to break out in China because if it had broken out elsewhere, the WHO might have dealt with the threat in a more diligent manner. This is why the world cannot afford to depend on this organization. The WHO’s actions are those of a broken organization, an organization that no longer serves its stated public purpose but has instead been wholly co-opted by the world’s second-worst regime. – Washington Examiner 

John M. Ackerman writes: López Obrador chose Washington for his first foreign visit since being elected two years ago as a testament to the deep economic and cultural ties that unite the two nations. Fears that Trump will use the historic meeting to boost his reelection campaign or humiliate the Mexican president are misplaced. They underestimate the dignity and the political savvy of López Obrador, who will insist on being treated as an equal and will not hesitate to defend the rights and interests of Mexicans on both sides of the Rio Grande. – Washington Post 


The Justice Department is examining whether scandal-plagued German payment company Wirecard played a critical role in an alleged $100 million bank-fraud conspiracy connected to an online marijuana marketplace, according to people familiar with the investigation. – Wall Street Journal 

Two U.S. Republican lawmakers accused Twitter on Wednesday of being biased against conservatives and demanded information about the social media platform’s reactions to two tweets by President Donald Trump. – Reuters 

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are pressuring Twitter, Facebook and Google to be more transparent about COVID-19 disinformation on their platforms, asking the tech giants to produce monthly reports on the issue. – The Hill 

Facebook has made a series of decisions that undermined civil rights, including allowing posts from President Donald Trump that violate the values of the leading social network, an independent audit report said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse  

Australian and British privacy regulators opened a joint probe into Clearview AI Inc., saying they want to examine how the company’s facial-recognition technology uses people’s data, just days after the company suspended operations in Canada. – Bloomberg 

Eddie Scarry writes: The audit on Facebook pretends that the problem then becomes a tiered system on free speech and who gets more of it, but that’s not really what the lawyers are getting at. What they want is for Facebook to be a moral crusader and settle issues of what kind of speech is acceptable in public, especially with regard to national politics. – Washington Examiner


The Army is awarding delivery orders to three vendors to support equipment for three Expeditionary Signal Battalion-Enhanced (ESB-E) units. – C4ISRNET 

The Pentagon’s artificial intelligence hub is shifting its focus to enabling joint warfighting operations, developing artificial intelligence tools that will be integrated into the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control efforts. – C4ISRNET 

The Pentagon would have $758 million to help mid-tier defense firms weather the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic as part of the annual defense spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. – Defense News 

The House Appropriations Committee is aiming to resuscitate the MQ-9 Reaper program, which the Air Force wants to curtail in fiscal 2021. – Defense News 

The Air Force is ramping up its efforts to test and field a suite of new hardware and software that will become the military’s command and control backbone. – C4ISRNET 

The New Zealand Army has received the first six MRZR D4 all-terrain vehicles ordered from US manufacturer Polaris Government and Defense under the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Protected Mobility Capability Project (PMCP). – Jane’s 360 

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has recently issued an official version of its updated defence offset guidelines. Following the issuance of a proposed draft version of the guidelines in March, the offset policy is now formalised and available to download from the website of the MoD’s Defence Offset Management Wing (DOMW). – Jane’s 360 

Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace’s proposal to outfit US Marine Corps (USMC) Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) with its XM914 remote weapon system (RWS) has defeated two other competitors’ bids for the ground-based air-defence effort, Janes has learned. – Jane’s 360 

JihFen Lei writes: The department must make the investments necessary to educate, attract and retain the world’s best talent. As the DoD’s National Defense Strategy makes clear, advanced technologies will be central to America’s ability to fight and win future wars. – Defense News 

Kris Osborn writes: Machine learning applications can, for instance, take information from an object’s prior movements, integrate them into an existing database and perform analytics to quickly estimate where it is likely to go next. Of course, that is how AI functions: it bounces new data off of an existing database to collect, analyze and then disseminate the most-needed and accurate information possible. In effect, it performs analytics, makes some decisions autonomously, and provides human decision-makers with streamlined, efficient information. – The National Interest

Trump Administration

The Supreme Court will announce Thursday whether congressional committees and a New York prosecutor are entitled to see President Trump’s personal financial records, after the president has waged an intense legal battle to keep the material secret. – Washington Post 

Harvard and MIT asked a court Wednesday to block an order by President Donald Trump’s administration threatening the visas of foreign students whose entire courses have moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic. – Agence France-Presse 

Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman’s submission for retirement came shortly after his application to be promoted was approved by the Pentagon and right before it was set to reach the White House in a move that may have averted a looming partisan battle that could have held up the promotions of more than 1,000 U.S. service members if the promotion had been denied. – Newsweek