Fdd's overnight brief

June 1, 2020

In The News


Iran’s parliament speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf said any negotiations with the United States would be “futile” as he delivered his first major speech to the conservative-dominated chamber on Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

Iran said Friday its experts would continue nuclear development activities, despite sanctions imposed earlier this week on their fellow scientists by the United States. – Associated Press

Unknown gunmen on Friday killed three Iranian border guards in a Kurdish area near the country’s western border with Iraq, Iran’s state media reported. – Associated Press

The western European parties to the landmark nuclear deal with Iran on Saturday criticized a U.S. decision to end nearly all of the last vestiges of sanctions relief provided under the 2015 pact. – Associated Press

Iran took Washington to task on Saturday over the alleged killing of an unarmed black man by a white police officer that sparked protests in the United States over racial injustice. – Reuters

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday called on the Trump administration to open a criminal investigation into allegations that Twitter had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran. – The Hill


As about 900 children languish in fetid, disease-ridden detainment camps in northeastern Syria, the Western states their parents hail from have insisted they cannot take them back. – New York Times

President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russia’s defence and foreign ministries to hold talks with Syria for Moscow to obtain additional facilities and maritime access in Syria, the Interfax news agency cited a government resolution as saying on Friday. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Syrian President Bashar Assad replaced three governors in southern Syria over the weekend, jettisoning a long-time henchman in Dara’a and moving the governor of Quneitra from the Golan border to the Druze area of Suwayda. The shakeup may be a sign that he has lost confidence in several key governors or that he recognizes a series of security incidents requires a change. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Land and Will Christou write: Multiple ISIS attacks in southern and eastern Syria as well as a possible assassination in Idlib Province demonstrate the group’s continued reach across Syria as it reconstitutes across both Syria and Iraq. The attacks occurred in late May and marked the culmination of ISIS’s 2020 Ramadan campaign. A possible US drone struck a reported ISIS commander in the Turkish-occupied Afrin area of Aleppo Province, indicating the group may retain a presence in that area. – Institute for the Study of War


Turkey may begin oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean within three or four months under a deal it signed with Libya that was condemned by others in the region including Greece, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said on Friday. – Reuters

Gönül Tol writes: Turkey has significantly dialed down its criticism of the Chinese crackdown of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang province, which share a common linguistic and religious heritage with Turkey, but the sizable Uyghur diaspora in Turkey continues to fuel China’s mistrust of Turkey. […]Strained ties with the West have indeed contributed to closer relations with Beijing as Ankara has sought to diversify its foreign policy, but ultimately Turkish policy-makers see Turkey-China relations as a compliment to, not a substitute for, the country’s Western alliance. – Middle East Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey’s airstrike on PJAK is unusual but Turkey has sought to work more closely with Iran’s regime against the PKK and groups linked to the PKK. Ankara’s decision to extend its bases in Iraq and airstrikes may be linked not only to its attempt to exterminate the PKK abroad but also to strike PKK affiliates linked to Iran. It may be sharing intelligence with Iran to accomplish this. Last year Turkey invaded eastern Syria, attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is also alleges is linked to the PKK. – Jerusalem Post


Israeli police fatally shot a Palestinian man who was later found to have been unarmed and autistic, according to media reports Saturday, threatening to inflame tensions already heightened by the economic stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the prospect that Israel will soon annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank. – Washington Post

The suspension of cooperation, designed to pressure Israel and galvanize international opposition to its annexation plans, could further squeeze Palestinians already suffering the economic effects of the coronavirus shutdown. As the public health lockdown begins to lift, unemployment in the West Bank has soared to 35 percent according to some estimates. More than 300,000 workers have lost their wages, many of them dependent on jobs in construction and health care in Israel. – Washington Post

Coronavirus testing machines acquired by Israel in a NIS 90 million ($25 million) deal with a Chinese firm are unusable in the country for technical reasons and will be returned to China, a report said Saturday evening. – Times of Israel

With exactly one month until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu presents his plan for applying Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, details of the plan – including the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the area – are being kept a secret from all but a handful of officials directly involved in the process. – Arutz Sheva

Amir Avivi writes: The Palestinian public in Judea and Samaria, for its part, has demonstrated that it is primarily interested in its economic wellbeing. Not only has the Palestinian-Arab street shown little appetite to return to the days of the Second Intifada, if it did, Israel’s security control renders it almost impossible for a full-scale uprising to erupt. Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley should be applied — and swiftly. The stars are finally aligned for Israel to not only affix its eastern border, but to cement a secure future for itself. – The Hill


The U.S. and Iran, adversaries across the Middle East, have quietly coalesced behind an Iraqi politician both see as critical to preventing further chaos in his country. – Wall Street Journal

The Islamic State group in an audio message blasted Iraq’s new prime minister, calling him an “American agent,” and criticized the closure of Islam’s holiest shrine in the Saudi holy city of Mecca to limit the spread of coronavirus. – Associated Press

Katherine Lawlor and Brandon Wallace write: Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is seeking to develop closer energy relationships with Iraq’s Gulf neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, to demonstrate to the United States that Iraq is making progress in divesting from Iranian energy reliance and renewing relations with all of its neighbors before the June US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue. […]Immediately after the delegation to Saudi Arabia, Iranian proxy militias issued statements condemning Saudi Arabia as a source of terrorism in Iraq and promising vengeance. Iran will likely attempt to prevent energy divestment; Iraqi imports of Iranian energy are a key economic driver for Iran. – Institute for the Study of War

Michael Rubin writes: The United States can debate exit strategies from both Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue will soon commence, although the Trump administration is treating it more as a cover for precipitous withdrawal than recognizing the benefits of a more established economic relationship. In Afghanistan, Trump seeks withdrawal absent any strategic logic. […]To not call out Iranian-backed militias and the foreign jihadis embraced by the Taliban as foreign fighters who should also evacuate Iraq and Afghanistan is to do a disservice to both countries’ sovereignty. – Washington Examiner


Lebanon’s government agreed on Friday to extend the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon along the border with Israel for another year, the country’s information minister said. – Associated Press

The Lebanese government must turn its reform ideas into reality and take concrete steps to win international support, the U.S. ambassador said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. – Reuters

The Lebanese Army arrested five Sudanese nationals in southern Lebanon on Friday evening as they attempted to cross the border fence into Israeli territory, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA). – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

The Trump administration is planning to sell nearly $500 million in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, drawing renewed objections from senior Democratic lawmakers who question the timing and justification for the deal. – Wall Street Journal

A $2 million US lobbying effort and petitions from European lawmakers are piling pressure on Saudi Arabia to release a philanthropist prince jailed for two years without charge amid an intensifying royal crackdown. – Agence France-Presse

Saudi Arabia confirmed it will host a virtual donors conference next week for Yemen together with the United Nations which said the conflict-riven nation risked being overwhelmed by the coronavirus. – Reuters

Aid organizations are making an urgent plea for funding to shore up their operations in war-torn Yemen, saying they have already been forced to stop some of their work even as the coronavirus rips through the country. – Associated Press

The Saudi-led coalition has shot down two drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi group in the direction of Saudi Arabia, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said, citing a coalition spokesman. – Reuters


Russia’s deployment of warplanes to Libya this month to support a militia leader’s assault on the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli raises Moscow’s involvement in the country’s civil war and threatens to escalate it. – Wall Street Journal

As Turkish drones helped drive eastern Libyan forces back from Tripoli this month, Russia was said to be reinforcing them with warplanes, raising the stakes in a stalemated civil war that has partitioned the country. – Reuters

The conflict between Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), recognised by the United Nations, and the eastern-based forces of Khalifa Haftar has become a cauldron for foreign rivals. This explains how they view the war and what they are doing in Libya. – Reuters

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Friday the situation in Libya was continuing to deteriorate and that a ceasefire there was in tatters, the RIA news agency reported. – Reuters

The U.S. military believes a Russian introduction of warplanes into Libya may not tip the balance in its stalemated civil war but could further help Moscow eventually secure a geostrategic stronghold in North Africa, a U.S. general said on Friday. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

The United States said it is considering deploying a Security Force Assistance Brigade in Tunisia for training, as part of its assistance program with the North Africa country, amid concern over Russian activity in Libya. – Reuters

The Egyptian military said it has killed at least 19 militants in raids and airstrikes against an Islamic insurgency in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, in clashes that also left at least five casualties among its troops. – Associated Press

Bakr, 36, who is still detained, is one of at least three doctors arrested during the new coronavirus outbreak on accusations of spreading false news, misusing social media, and joining a “terrorist organization” – a charge that refers to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and is often used in political cases – according to their lawyers. – Reuters

Korean Peninsula

North Korea accused the United States of smear tactics on Friday after Washington renewed accusations last month that Pyongyang was responsible for malicious cyber attacks. – Reuters

The former leader of an advocacy group for South Korean victims of Japanese wartime sexual violence on Friday denied allegations of misusing funds meant for the victims but apologised for “banking errors”. – Reuters

China’s foreign ministry said on Friday it firmly opposes the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system in South Korea and urged the U.S. not to harm bilateral relations between Beijing and Seoul. – Reuters

North Korea on Saturday expressed its support for China’s decision to impose new national security laws in Hong Kong, calling it a “legitimate step” to safeguard the state security. – Reuters

A hostel on the grounds of the North Korean embassy in Berlin accused of helping finance the East Asian country in violation of international sanctions has been closed, a city official said Friday. – Associated Press

Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha write: Located 45 kilometers from the DMZ, the Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant represents a critical component within North Korea’s nuclear research and weapons development programs as it has been the sole known producer of uranium concentrate (yellowcake) in the country since the mid-1990s, when it superseded the Pakchon Pilot Uranium Concentrate Facility. […]Given the current level of development and activity observed at the plant and its associated facilities, it is highly likely to remain active for the foreseeable future. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


With Washington and its allies distracted by the pandemic and its economic fallout, Mr. Xi is taking bold steps on issues where he’s often faced international pushback, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, the South China Sea and a disputed border with India. – Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump’s decision to downgrade relations with Hong Kong shows how his clashes with China increasingly feature ideological differences that are harder to resolve than the trade dispute that has primarily defined the administration’s approach to the relationship with its biggest rival. – Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong has become a key flashpoint in what some see as an emerging cold war between the U.S. and China. Exhibit A is Beijing’s decision to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and impose new national security legislation on the city to stamp out a yearlong protest movement. The Trump administration has threatened retaliation, saying the move means Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to merit special treatment on trade and other cooperative endeavors. Here’s how we got to this point. – Wall Street Journal

China vowed Friday to take “countermeasures” against the United States if the Trump administration attempts to punish Beijing for tightening its grip on Hong Kong, ratcheting up tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. – Washington Post

President Trump launched initiatives meant to punish China for tightening control over Hong Kong and for misdeeds from espionage to its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, in moves likely to compound a tense rivalry with Beijing. – Wall Street Journal

For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. – Agence France-Presse

The U.S. bill proposing to sanction Chinese officials over their treatment of the Uighur minority blatantly smears China’s anti-terrorism efforts and severely interferes in China’s internal affairs, said China Foreign Ministry Friday. – Reuters

Chinese government officials told major state-run agricultural companies to pause purchases of some American farm goods including soybeans as Beijing evaluates the ongoing escalation of tensions with the U.S. over Hong Kong, according to people familiar with the situation. – Bloomberg

When president Bill Clinton was pushing for a trade deal with China in 2000, he referenced Hong Kong to address broad concerns about Beijing’s civil rights abuses and territorial threats, specifically a letter he received from the founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party and longtime human rights activist Martin Lee. […]The optimism has not proved justified in the 20 years since Congress approved that agreement. – U.S. News & World Report

Editorial: Hong Kong is the front line of the world’s new contest between China’s authoritarian model and Western self-government. The challenge for the U.S. is to find policies that impose costs on China when it breaks global rules without also hurting America. Bringing the human talent of Hong Kong to the U.S. hurts China while enhancing America. For Mr. Trump in an election year, it would have the added political advantage of shocking his many critics with its boldness. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: US law gives President Trump the power to impose penalties for Beijing’s evildoing, and he’s indicated he’ll use it — though he declined to offer specifics Friday. He needs to follow through:. If China doesn’t pay a huge price for crushing Hong Kong, it’ll move on to other targets. – New York Post

Bret Stephens writes: All of which makes the Hong Kong crisis so consequential. Beijing almost certainly chose this moment to strike because it calculated that a world straining under the weight of a pandemic and a depression lacked the will and attention to react. On Friday, Trump said he would strip Hong Kong of its privileged commercial and legal ties to the U.S. But that punishes the people of Hong Kong at least as much as it does their rulers in Beijing. – New York Times

Jimmy Lai writes: Making this truth apparent is not about starting a new Cold War with China. It is about bringing stability to the world so that the West can protect its own free way of life — and the rest of us can have a fighting chance at that, too. – New York Times

Matt Pottinger writes: Democratic populism is less about left versus right than top versus bottom. It’s about reminding a few that they need the consent of many to govern. […]Wasn’t a similar idea beating in the heart of the May Fourth Movement? Weren’t Hu Shih’s language reforms a declaration of war against aristocratic pretension? Weren’t they a broadside against the Confucian power structure that enforced conformity over free thought? Wasn’t the goal to achieve citizen-centric government in China, and not replace one regime-centric model with another one? The world will wait for the Chinese people to furnish the answers. – Wall Street Journal

Lindsay Lloyd writes: China’s actions should come as no surprise — they speak to the character of Xi Jinping’s regime. But this step should serve as a reminder that those expressing admiration for Xi and China’s communist authorities have been deluding themselves. – The Hill

Steven W. Mosher writes: And once we start, let’s continue to say “No” until the people of China, in their righteous anger, rise up against their political masters and demand their unalienable rights as human beings. Let’s all BDS the Hell out of China. – New York Post


Afghan officials at some of the highest echelons of power in Kabul are reviving claims that the Taliban and the Islamic State in Afghanistan are aiding each other in carrying out attacks and sharing training pipelines — boosting a long-held theory that threatens progress toward formal peace talks. – Washington Post

A roadside bomb killed a television journalist in Kabul on Saturday, soon after a top Afghan official appointed to lead peace talks with the Taliban said his team was ready for the long-delayed dialogue. – Agence France-Presse

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Saturday’s bomb explosion that killed an Afghan journalist and a technician in minibus carrying employees of a local television station in Kabul. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: While on its face, the Taliban peace deal is a disaster, behind the scenes, Khalilzad and U.S. diplomats congratulate themselves for their supposed sophistication of co-opting the Taliban to fight the Islamic State, which has sunk its roots into Afghanistan. […]It is time for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and congressional leaders to stop falling prey to a sophisticated extortion racket. They can start by recognizing the Khalilzad plan plays and pays into Pakistan’s hands and ultimately funds a terrorist proxy which differs from ISIS more cosmetically than ideologically. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

High in the Himalayas, an enormous fistfight erupted in early May between the soldiers of China and India. Brawls at 14,000 feet along their inhospitable and disputed frontier are not terribly unusual, but what happened next was. – New York Times

Two officials at Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi were being expelled for “espionage activities”, India’s foreign ministry said late Sunday, allegations its nuclear-armed rival called “baseless”. – Agence France-Presse

China said there was no need for a third party to mediate between China and India in an ongoing border dispute, when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate. – Reuters


Pro-China canvassers are pressing wary Hong Kong residents for signatures. The city’s business tycoons are declaring their faith in the Chinese government. Local officials, senior and junior alike, are stepping up to pledge their support, mimicking wooden displays of fealty that are a staple of Communist Party politics in the mainland. – New York Times

Police denied an application by organizers of an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, amid concerns over civil liberties after China said it would impose national-security legislation on the city. – Wall Street Journal

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday visited a bookshop that has become a symbol of resistance to perceived Chinese encroachments on Hong Kong’s liberties, vowing to give help to the city’s citizens fleeing to the democratic island. – Reuters

The head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Friday that “one country, two systems” and “peaceful reunification” is the best way to bring China and Taiwan together. – Reuters

Adam Nelson writes: For over two decades, Hong Kong and Beijing have both prospered under “One Country, Two Systems.” There is a way forward that promotes peace, economic growth, stability — and respects the rights of Hong Kongers. In the long run, no move by Beijing will be able to squash the pro-democracy resolve of the people of Hong Kong. […]Beijing cannot tag Hong Kongers as “foreign interventionists.” The bipartisan support for Hong Kong in Congress as well as the growing international solidarity for the city is heartening. My hope is that the global community continues to #StandwithHongKong and finds ways to bolster the remaining civic space promised to the people of Hong Kong. – The Hill

Michael Rubin writes: If the Trump administration wishes to push back on Xi’s aggression, it is time to reconsider the interpretation of Taiwan’s NPT commitments, both in Washington and Taipei. After all, if the international community will not uphold its obligations to Taiwan, then Taiwan should not bend over backward to preserve an order in which the People’s Republic of China is deliberately ending. […]Now is the time for hard decisions in Washington. If China digests Taiwan as it has Hong Kong, it is unlikely it will simply be satiated. As China faces its own economic turmoil, Xi can put forward baseless claims as fact and encroach further in Southeast Asia, the East China Sea, and the Pacific. – The National Interest


This should be the moment for Aleksei A. Navalny, Russia’s most visible opposition leader. Many Russians are enraged with the Kremlin over its botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic. resident Vladimir V. Putin’s approval rating, at 59 percent, is at its lowest ebb since 1999, when he was a lowly prime minister. At the same time, Mr. Navalny’s audience for his YouTube livestreaming channel tripled as the virus took hold. But whether Mr. Navalny can capitalize on the opportunity remains to be seen. – New York Times

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that Russia release former Marine Paul Whelan, who is being held on espionage charges, after he underwent emergency surgery. – Washington Examiner

Russia has no objection to the next meeting of OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, being brought forward to June 4 from the following week, three OPEC+ sources familiar with the meeting’s preparations told Reuters on Sunday. – Reuters

Russia’s space agency criticised U.S. President Donald Trump’s “hysteria” about the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years, but also said on Sunday it was pleased there was now another way to travel into space. – Reuters

Stephen Blank writes: Russia’s commemoration of crimes and lies means it remains an object of fear — for now. But borrowed glory and twisted history take you only so far. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem, Ozymandias, recounts a monument to a long-dead tyrant. Like Stalin and Putin, he possesses a “sneer of cold command.” But his message is “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” for nothing is left of his criminal deeds. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The European Union faces a fresh breach with Washington over China’s handling of Hong Kong and a potential split with the U.K. on a major foreign-policy issue for the first time since it left the EU in January. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump isn’t popular in Europe, least of all in Germany. But German leaders appeared ready to appropriate his campaign slogan this week when they announced the theme of their upcoming presidency of the Council of the European Union: “Together. Making Europe Strong Again.” The Trumpian flourish marks a coming-out moment for Germany, which has shied from a leadership role within Europe that would match its economic might. – Washington Post

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the possibility Friday of meeting in person at the upcoming G-7 gathering in the United States — a session called into question by the global COVID-19 pandemic. – Associated Press

The European Union urged the United States on Saturday to reconsider its decision to cut ties with the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Given the frosty relations between the Trump administration and the EU, it is understandable that Britain and the Europeans are reluctant to align themselves fully with Washington in responding to Beijing’s high-handed treatment of Hong Kong. Yet, some degree of coordination that goes beyond statements of concern surely is possible. […]Should the EU decide to proceed with its planned September summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Leipzig, Europe then could make clear to the Chinese president in no uncertain terms that there are limits beyond which democratic Europe is unwilling to allow its economic relations with Beijing to go untouched while China crushes the last vestiges of Hong Kong’s freedoms. – The Hill

Rebecca Arcesati and Martijn Rasser write: China’s proliferation of surveillance technology – used for repression at home and increasingly exported – is a direct threat to democratic values; curbing it will require a coordinated response by the world’s leading democracies. […]Europe stands at an inflection point. Decisions its leaders make in coming months will set the course for its post-pandemic future. How they act to secure Europe’s technological viability will determine the continent’s economic, military, and political power for decades. Technological sovereignty will not flow from mimicking Chinese industrial policy. – EU Observer

Nile Gardiner and Klon Kitchen write: The United States and its allies must resist China’s efforts to undermine the free world, and strengthen the transatlantic alliance in the face of its adversaries. The U.K. is leading in Europe in standing up to China. Other countries across the Atlantic must follow the British example. – The Daily Signal


Four years ago, Mali opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé was posing with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the Democratic Party convention, part of an African delegation representing the continent’s most prominent democracy advocates. Now the 70-year-old former finance minister, IBM executive and International Monetary Fund board member is being held hostage by a jihadist group on the edge of the Sahara.  – Wall Street Journal

Somalia will set up a regional commission to probe the killing of seven health workers and report publicly within a month, the head of Hirshabelle state told Reuters on Friday, as the United Nations condemned what it called an outrage. – Reuters

A Congolese militia leader accused of involvement in the murder of an American citizen and a Swedish national working with the United Nations has been arrested more than three years after their brutal slayings, a prosecutor said Saturday. – Associated Press

Sudan summoned the Ethiopian Chargé d’Affaires on Saturday over a border attack by suspected Ethiopian militias that killed and wounded several Sudanese army personnel and civilians, it said in a statement. – Reuters

Latin America

The regime of Nicolás Maduro, grappling with intense gasoline shortages, said it will scale back its longstanding fuel subsidy and privatize service stations, in a significant shift for Venezuelans long accustomed to filling up their cars free of charge. The measures, which take effect on Monday, are a gamble for Mr. Maduro as he struggles with a devastating economic crisis and tries to outlast U.S.-led sanctions meant to topple his authoritarian administration. – Wall Street Journal

Honduras passed a new law this week that paves the way for greater cooperation with the United States to stop drug trafficking, focusing on deterring private jets that transport cocaine from Venezuela to the Central American country. – Washington Post

Iran will continue fuel shipments to Venezuela if Caracas requests more supplies, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday, despite Washington’s criticism of the trade between the two nations, which are both under U.S. sanctions. – Reuters

Two Iranian tankers that delivered fuel to Venezuela as part of a five-vessel flotilla have begun to sail back, according to Refinitiv Eikon, as the government of the South American nation prepares stations to begin charging for the gasoline. – Reuters

Seeking to deter further shipments of Iranian fuel to Venezuela, the Trump administration has quietly warned foreign governments, seaports, shipping companies and insurers that they could face stiff U.S. sanctions if they aid the tanker flotilla, the U.S. envoy on Venezuela told Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

United States

The worst civil unrest in decades erupted in cities across the U.S. this weekend as anger sparked by the death of a black man in Minneapolis police custody touched off demonstrations nationwide as protesters torched vehicles, smashed windows and defaced buildings. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese officials appeared to shrug off President Trump’s latest slaps against Beijing and struck back with their own rhetorical punch Saturday: highlighting the growing street clashes triggered by the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. – Washington Post

A woman was fatally shot by police after charging an officer with a butcher knife just days after her brother was charged with attempting to help the Islamic State. – Washington Examiner

The Trump administration will study ways to safeguard Americans from the risks of investing in Chinese companies, U.S. president Donald Trump said on Friday, ratcheting up pressure on the firms to comply with U.S. accounting and disclosure rules. – Reuters

The United States will take action to prevent alleged espionage by Chinese students, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday, ahead of an expected announcement by President Donald Trump. – Agence France-Presse

US President Donald Trump on Friday ordered a probe into the actions of Chinese companies listed on American financial markets as tensions flared anew between the world’s two biggest economies. – Agence France-Presse

President Trump on Sunday tweeted that he was preparing to formally label anti-fascist activists known as antifa a terrorist organization, raising questions about how the designation would be implemented and whether he even had the legal authority to go through with it. – The Hill

Editorial: America’s adversaries today are so transparently enemies of progressive values that we doubt their messaging will have much appeal to the radicals who are burning American cities. Their goal is more cynically opportunistic: Convince the world that multiethnic liberal society is bankrupt, so the strong can more easily prey on the weak. That would be the ultimate betrayal of the memory of George Floyd. – Wall Street Journal


U.S. national security officials have approved an investor group’s purchase of gay-dating app Grindr that is being sold by a Chinese company after the Trump administration raised concerns about the potential theft of Americans’ personal data. – Wall Street Journal

Senior Facebook Inc. employees took to Twitter over the weekend to express their dismay at Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to take action on incendiary comments posted to the social network by U.S. President Donald Trump. – Bloomberg

Four U.S. senators, including a China hawk, urged the Federal Trade Commission on Friday to investigate allegations that the popular video app TikTok violated a consent decree protecting children’s privacy. In their letter, lawmakers noted a report by the Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and others saying that Chinese-owned TikTok had failed to take down videos made by children under age 13 as it agreed under a 2019 consent agreement with the FTC. – Reuters

The alleged Iranian cyber attack on the water plant could have triggered fail-safes that would have left tens of thousand of civilians and farms parched in the middle of an Israel heatwave, as the pumping station shut down when the excess chemical was detected. In the worst-case scenario, hundreds of people would have been at risk of becoming ill, said the western official, whose government was briefed on the attack. – Financial Times

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The Trump tweets, including one that was flagged for inaccuracy recently, have become central to this discussion. It appears that Twitter singles out only those tweets for these new rules on fact checking and “glorifying violence.” It does not appear to flag other tweets with the same regularity or unique decisions. This leads to questions on why regimes such as those in Russia, Turkey or Iran can glorify violence or tweet misleading information. – Jerusalem Post


The U.S. has joined an international panel for setting ethical guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence. The Trump administration had earlier dismissed the idea. – Associated Press

For the first time, two B-1B Lancer bombers conducted a Bomber Task Force mission in Europe and the Black Sea region with Ukrainian Su-27 Flankers and MiG-29 Fulcrums, and Turkish KC-135s on Friday. – Air Force Times

Editorial: The launch is also a welcome lift to American spirits in what have been difficult months during the pandemic and now violent protests. The world’s dictators are hoping for American decline (see nearby), but no other country could have executed the private-public space partnership that is now taking off. Cheerleaders of decline are likely to be disappointed again. – Wall Street Journal

Frederico Bartels and Peter Brookes write: The biodefense enterprise is currently extremely fragmented and requires a herculean level of coordination at the higher levels of the federal government in order to guarantee coherent efforts and avoid duplication. Further, there is little visibility on how much the federal government spends on biodefense. These are the main two problems that need to be tackled first. – Heritage Foundation

Trump Administration

President Trump said he wants to postpone the next Group of Seven nations meeting until the fall, and is looking to include additional countries. – Wall Street Journal

After a 38-year career with the Justice Department, the FBI’s top lawyer Dana Boente was asked to resign on Friday. Two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss Boente said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray. His departure comes on the heels of recent criticism by Fox News for his role in the investigation of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. – NBC News

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn asked Russia’s ambassador to help avoid an escalation in diplomatic sanctions during a call between Trump’s election and inauguration, a transcript released on Friday showed. – Reuters

The United States will end its relationship with the World Health Organization over the body’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday, accusing the U.N. agency of becoming a puppet of China. – Reuters

James Carafano, Nile Gardiner and Ambassador Terry Miller write: At its heart, the G-7 is a transatlantic partnership, with Japan providing a vital anchor in the Far East. But its leadership has an impact upon the entire Western hemisphere, the Indo–Pacific region, and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa. This year’s summit can make a real impact in investing, engaging, and enabling a powerful post-COVID economic partnership. […]The United States must be clear in its message and its principles based on the foundations of economic liberty and freedom. – Heritage Foundation