Fdd's overnight brief

June 1, 2021

In The News


Iran’s production of nuclear fuel plunged in recent weeks, the United Nations atomic agency reported on Monday, following alleged sabotage of its main nuclear facility in April that Tehran has blamed on Israel. – Wall Street Journal

With no credible challenger, Mr. Raisi is expected to win this time. Any serious competition has been winnowed from the race. Even some members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, known for their strong hostility to any political dissent, described the election as anti-democratic. – New York Times 

Iran will put a French citizen that it detained last year on trial on charges including espionage, his lawyer said on Sunday, a crime that can carry the death penalty. – New York Times

The United Nations’ atomic watchdog hasn’t been able to access data important to monitoring Iran’s nuclear program since late February when the Islamic Republic started restricting international inspections of its facilities, the agency said Monday. – Associated Press

An Iranian-flagged tanker seized by Indonesia in January over the suspected illegal transfer of oil has been released, an Indonesian official and Iranian state media said on Saturday. – Reuters

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed the central bank governor, Abdolnaser Hemmati, one of the few moderates running in a June 18 presidential election, who said he accepted the decision that he must step aside at the bank in order to stand for president. – Reuters

Iran and six world powers have made significant progress in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear deal but important issues still need to be resolved, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday. – Reuters

The U.S. has sold some 2 million barrels of Iranian crude oil after seizing an oil tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, court documents and government statistics show. – Associated Press

Iran says ongoing talks on reaching a “common understanding” with regional rival Saudi Arabia are taking place in a “good atmosphere.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Biden administration has responded to Iran’s mass disqualification of candidates for its upcoming presidential election by saying Iranians should be free to choose their own leaders. – VOA News

Babak Namazi, whose brother and father are detained in Iran, is living in fear that his family members could be left behind again as the Biden administration is engaged in a diplomatic effort to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. – CNN

Israel must increase the volume of its activity against Iranian terrorism and Tehran’s nuclear program, in order to drive home the message that overstepping the mark would be met with severe punishment. – i24 News

Michael Rubin writes: At issue is not whether a renewed deal is possible, but rather whether such a deal will substantively change Iranian behavior or alleviate regional security concerns. Unfortunately, any agreement based on an imaginary Iran whose motivates are pure and whose elections matter will be doomed to fail. Simply put, if a deal will stick, it must base itself on a reality that, whether through ignorance or deliberately, Biden’s team ignores. – The National Interest


Dozens of medical workers in rebel-held northwest Syria on Monday protested a decision to grant President Bashar Assad’s government a seat on the executive board of the World Health Organization. They said Assad is responsible for bombing hospitals and clinics across the war-ravaged country. – Associated Press

Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed to defeat his enemies no matter how many battles he faces, saying on Friday he feels empowered after being re-elected for a fourth seven-year term. – Associated Press

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has congratulated Syria’s Bashar al-Assad on winning a fourth seven-year presidential term in an election dismissed as a sham by the opposition and Western governments, according to an Iranian presidential website. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Janine Di Giovanni writes: But I have witnessed enough wars to know that, one day, the country’s government will change. Assad will fall. His moment of reckoning will not be evaded. When the opportunity to deliver justice does arrive, we must be prepared. The international community should focus on recording the horrors perpetrated by Assad and his regime so that when he is put before a court, we can call upon the work of those who lived them—the humanitarians, the journalists, the refugees, the survivors. We must preserve memory. – The Atlantic


Turkey’s intelligence service claims it has “captured” a Turkish citizen related to a cleric they say orchestrated a failed coup, and taken him from his home in Kenya to Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported Monday. – New York Times

The leaders of Greece and Turkey will meet next month on the sidelines of a NATO summit, the two countries’ foreign ministers agreed on Monday, as they seek to mend frayed ties that led to a sharp escalation in tension last year. – Associated Press

With a smirk on his face and a gold medallion gleaming on his chest, fugitive gangster Sedat Peker has transfixed Turkey with explosive accusations hurled at the political elite in a series of YouTube videos. – Financial Times

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey has illegally kidnapped and renditioned people all over the world, including in Europe. […]While Turkey kidnaps people from numerous countries, it is unclear why Ankara did not act to stop ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi who was found living just a few kilometers from the Turkish border in Syria, in an area Turkey controls. Turkey can find people in Kenya, but not high level ISIS members, many of whom have transited through Turkey. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: While Erdoğan has long railed against Israel and Egypt and sought to gain inroads into Lebanon and Gaza, his new drone base in occupied Cyprus now places each into his range. […]Kind words will not bring peace to the Eastern Mediterranean; the only strategy that will work in the region is to demonstrate to Erdoğan that Turkey has far more to lose from scrapping the status quo than it has to gain. – The National Interest


Naftali Bennett, a standard-bearer for Israel’s right-wing, was locked in negotiations on Monday with politicians across Israel’s ideological spectrum united in their goal of dislodging from power the country’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. – Wall Street Journal

Hamas’s top leader in the Gaza Strip on Monday expressed optimism about reaching a prisoner exchange with Israel, while Egyptian mediators seek to hammer out a long-term cease-fire following an 11-day war in the Gaza Strip earlier this month. – Associated Press

Egypt and Israel held high-level talks in both countries Sunday to shore up a fragile truce between Israel and the Hamas militant group and rebuild the Gaza Strip after a punishing 11-day war that left parts of the seaside enclave in ruins. – Associated Press

Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement to avoid double taxation. This agreement has been in the works since shortly after the Abraham Accords were signed, so in that sense, it wasn’t the most surprising turn of events. – Jerusalem Post

Following the latest escalation between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, Iran’s Quds (Jerusalem) Force commander said on Saturday that Palestinians were ready to wrest control of all Israeli territory, urging “all Zionists”, referring to Israelis, to “go back” and “rebuild lives” in Europe and the United States. – i24 News

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah coordinated with Hamas on the recent fighting in Gaza between Palestinian terrorists and Israel, according to the editor-in-chief of a Lebanese daily affiliated with Hezbollah. – Times of Israel 

Israel has summoned the ambassadors of Mexico and the Philippines after they both voted in favor of a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to open an investigation into alleged human rights abuses and crimes committed by the Jewish state during the 11-day clashes with the Hamas terrorist organization. – Algemeiner

Undaunted by the heavy blows its terrorist organization suffered during the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hamas remains utterly determined to defeat the “Zionist entity,” as it terms Israel, and wipe the Jewish state off the map. – Arutz Sheva

With its national flag hoisted alongside the flag of Israel, the United Arab Emirates’ embassy in Tel Aviv officially opened on Sunday.  – Ynet

Editorial: The new government may be able to point to the first-time participation of Arab parties to highlight Israel’s multiethnic democratic character. Mr. Lapid may be an effective ambassador to American liberals. Yet the strategic realities that shape Israeli policy are not changing under Messrs. Bennett and Lapid, and new elections are likely before long. While Mr. Netanyahu may soon be out, his era isn’t over. – Wall Street Journal

Dani Dayan writes: The conventional wisdom in diplomacy is that for peace to be achieved, Israelis and Palestinians should bridge their gaps on each of the so-called “core issues” of the conflict. Those gaps will never be closed until Palestinians understand that justice calls for acknowledging Jewish legitimate rights, and that we Jews belong to our common land. The day Palestinians accept Israel’s right to exist as the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people, a real peace process will begin. – New York Times 

Robert Wexler writes: An inclusive political process can increase zones for possible agreement by widening the narrative frame and repackaging old issues in a context that is more acceptable and humanizing. This US-led approach can improve conditions for Israelis and Palestinians without compromising security and minimize the conflict by narrowing the disagreements between the sides. Inclusiveness is a winner for moderates and “kryptonite” for extremists. – Jerusalem Post

Victoria Coates writes: But ensuring the ongoing capability of Iron Dome against Hamas can and should go well beyond purchasing additional interceptors, and the events of this month can be the catalyst to fully integrate US and Israeli missile defense. […]And if Tehran supplies Hamas with increasing numbers of high-caliber rockets, is Israel going to be able to respond with a sufficient number of Iron Dome batteries and interceptors to protect its civilians when the terrorist group attacks again? – Jerusalem Post

Iyad Muhsen AlDajani writes: The reconciliation process in the midst of conflict is a path not taken; it requires courage and resilience in the face of agony and oppression. The reconciliation process can guide a new generation away from the path of darkness, toward the light. The alternative is to allow the seeds of hatred to flourish within both Israelis and Palestinians for generations to come. […]Peacemakers are those who call for a reconciliation process in the midst of the conflict. – Ynet

Michael Herzog writes: As long as Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip, and with no political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in sight, the enclave will remain a threat. But the risks could be minimized, especially if the weakest of Israel’s enemies does not distract the IDF from its actions against stronger foes to the north. For if Israel fails to handle the Gaza issue, the next conflict may not be limited to the southern front alone. – Ynet


Lebanon on Monday received a preliminary report from France regarding last year’s massive port blast in Beirut that killed and wounded thousands, judicial officials said. – Associated Press

Pope Francis, who has promised to visit Lebanon if fractious politicians agree on a new government, said on Sunday he would meet its Christian leaders to discuss the country’s worst crisis since its civil war that ended in 1990. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Harari writes: Given that Lebanon has not closed the door completely to renewed negotiations with Israel, and its interest in exploiting its economic waters, an invitation to join the forum as an observer could be perceived as serving the Lebanese interest. Some of the actors will try to thwart the move, presumably, but others could view it as beneficial, especially given the current circumstances. – Jerusalem Post


The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen on Friday said it intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden drone launched by the Iran-aligned group towards kingdom, Saudi state TV al-Ekhbariya reported. – Reuters

The Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen dismissed as “fabricated” video footage issued by the Houthi movement on Saturday purportedly showing an incursion by its fighters into a Saudi Arabian border area on the frontlines. – Reuters

The U.N. special envoy for Yemen on Monday expressed frustration that his efforts to achieve a cease-fire in the war-torn country have been derailed by warring parties seeking gains on the battlefield. – Associated Press


As Russian mercenaries fled the Libyan capital last summer, they left behind booby-trapped houses and yards. They attached explosives to toilet seats, doors and teddy bears, designed to detonate upon touch, Libyan deminers say. – Washington Post

Securing Libya’s southern borders is a priority for the country’s transitional government as it aims to stem the flow of illegal migrants setting off from its shores, Libya’s interim foreign minister said Friday. – Associated Press

Libya’s military strongman Khalifa Haftar is polishing his political image ahead of elections, after a crippling rout on the battlefield and with his support waning at home and abroad, analysts say. – Agence France-Presse

Middle East & North Africa

U.S. military officials in Iraq have grown increasingly alarmed over attacks by Iran-backed militias using drones to evade detection systems around military bases and diplomatic facilities. – Washington Post

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor on Sunday urged Sudan’s transitional government to hand over suspects wanted for war crimes and genocide in the Darfur conflict, the Sudanese official news agency reported. – Associated Press

Egypt and Sudan on Monday concluded joint war games that involved ground, air and naval units. The six-day drill was meant to showcase deepening security ties between the two neighboring countries and present a show of force amid mounting tensions with Ethiopia. – Associated Press

Iran, bolstered by its increased unmanned aerial capabilities through encouraging Hamas to try to strike Israel with them from Gaza, after it flew a UAV into northern Israel on May 18 and when it used one in April to attack a CIA hangar in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, has now celebrated new Houthi drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. – Jerusalem Post

Qatar has no plans to normalise ties with Syria, the Gulf state’s foreign minister said, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won a fourth term in office last week in an election derided by the opposition and the West as a farce. – Reuters

Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Friday congratulated Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad on winning a fourth term in office, it said in a statement. – Reuters

After a recent appearance in which he appeared weak and with a persistent cough, rumors have been circulating in recent days that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is seriously ill in a secret medical facility in Lebanon. – Ynet

Tallha Abdulrazaq writes: As the architects of their misery, and as those who came bearing a promise, it would be a total dereliction of moral duty for the United States to now stand back and simply watch as Iraqis, fighting for democracy, are mercilessly slaughtered by Shiite fundamentalists backed by Iran, a country still deemed to be one of the largest state-sponsors of terrorism by the State Department. Will the United States step up to fulfill its historic responsibility? It’s doubtful, but it’s nice to dream. – Washington Post

Geoff Porter writes: In pursuing these opportunities, Washington must be careful to frame offers of assistance in a politically sensitive way. Algeria rightfully bristles at suggestions that U.S. and European officials view it primarily through the lens of immigration of radicalization threats. Thus, the Biden administration should extend advice and guidance to Algeria simply for Algeria’s sake—noting that the bilateral relationship will be strengthened as a natural byproduct of that effort. – Washington Institute


Last month, Huawei’s president of its European and Russian research institutes, Zhou Hong, visited Novosibirsk State Technical University in Siberia. At a conference table adorned with the Russian and Chinese flags, Zhou and his hosts discussed how Russian universities could help the Chinese tech giant. – Washington Post

The foreign ministers of Ireland, Poland, Hungary and Serbia will visit China from Saturday, the Chinese foreign ministry said, in a sign of a push to strengthen ties with Europe after an investment treaty was frozen. – Reuters

China has jailed a popular blogger for “defaming martyrs” after he suggested the death toll of the China-India border clash last year was higher than the official count of four. – Agence France-Presse

The U.S. government blocked imports of seafood Friday from the entire fleet of a Chinese company that authorities say forced crew members to work in slave-like conditions that led to the deaths of several Indonesian fishermen last year. – Associated Press

A former spiritual adviser to former President Donald Trump has been sanctioned by China for his human rights advocacy and his activism in exposing human rights abuses committed by the country on Uyghur Muslims, Christians, and other persecuted groups. – Washington Examiner

Bret Stephens writes: If it turns out that the Covid pandemic was caused by a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China, it will rank among the greatest scientific scandals in history: dangerous research, possibly involving ethically dubious techniques that make viruses more dangerous, carried out in a poorly safeguarded facility, thuggishly covered up by a regime more interested in propaganda than human life, catastrophic for the entire world. – New York Times 

Ben Shapiro writes: The common thread here is a Western unwillingness to face down China’s authoritarian regime. For some on the left, challenging China means standing up for Western values like democracy and human rights and this, in turn, raises questions about America’s own commitment to those principles. For some in corporate America, capitalism hasn’t opened China but made the West more dependent on mercantilist Beijing. – Arutz Sheva


Britain will expedite the relocation of Afghan staff and their families who worked for the British government in Afghanistan, largely as interpreters, the Ministry of Defense said on Monday, acknowledging they had an obligation to protect local employees from Taliban threats as Western troops withdraw from the country. – New York Times

A roadside bomb hit a bus carrying university staff in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing three teachers and wounding 15 others, police said on Saturday. – Reuters

At least six Afghan civilians were killed and several more were wounded when a mortar shell hit a house during a wedding ceremony in northern Kapisa province, security officials said on Sunday. – Reuters

The Biden administration is facing increasingly urgent calls to evacuate Afghans who helped the United States during the 20-year war and are at risk of being hunted down and killed by the Taliban after U.S. troops depart. – The Hill

Henry Olsen writes: The fact remains, however, that the United States must do more, too. As Eaglen says, “the U.S. military is falling behind while our competitors are sprinting ahead.” No one wants an arms race, but in geopolitics, it only takes one big country to start the contest. The United States must either get in the game or risk losing. – Washington Post

Sune Engel Rasmussen writes: Taliban leaders have offered few details about how they would govern the country. They have said they want to instate Islamic rule, but haven’t explained what that entails—or assuaged those who fear they will repeat their history of rampant human rights abuses. […]Civilians opposed to Taliban rule complain of excessive taxation, arbitrary violence and poor services, particularly in schooling and health. Kamaluddin, from Arghistan, said he had stopped going to the mosque because the Taliban used prayer time to pressure residents to provide its fighters with tractors, food and unpaid labor. – Wall Street Journal 

Eileen Walsh writes: Reasserting control over Kabul or Herat and crushing the aspirations of the youth and women will be met with far more civil resistance now than before. The question for Blinken is whether the US has any plan to forestall the worst case scenario beyond reprimanding the Taliban from Washington. If the answer is no, then the legacy of the Biden administration regarding Afghanistan may be anything but success. – 19FortyFive

Dominic Tierney writes: Continuing aid to Afghanistan does not guarantee success, but curtailing aid guarantees failure. $4 billion is a lot of money. But it buys Washington a reasonable chance at creating military deadlock in Afghanistan, forcing the Taliban to make peace, and avoiding a repeat of Saigon 1975, with all the associated trauma and recrimination. – War on the Rocks


North Korea’s state media on Monday criticized the United States for lifting restrictions on South Korea’s ability to build more powerful ballistic missiles in its first response to the summit between President Biden and Moon Jae-in, the leader of South Korea, earlier this month. – New York Times 

North Korea’s ruling party has amended its rules to create a de facto second-in-command under leader Kim Jong Un as he looks to revamp domestic politics, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

China’s trial of Australian blogger Yang Hengjun on unspecified espionage charges has ended and the Beijing court deferred its verdict, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Friday in what she called a “closed and opaque process”. – Reuters

The underground government set up by opponents of Myanmar’s military junta said its first batch of recruits have finished training for a new defence force, releasing video of them parading in uniform. – Reuters

Organisers of an annual vigil to commemorate the Chinese Communist government’s bloody crackdown on student-led pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 said on Saturday they had lost an appeal to hold this year’s rally. – Reuters

Australia and New Zealand on Monday expressed grave concerns over developments in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in the Xinjiang region of China, as the two nations sought to get in lockstep over their biggest trading partner. – Reuters

The widely-monitored national security case of 47 Hong Kong opposition figures charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, most of whom have been in custody for the past three months, will resume on July 8, a judge ruled on Monday. – Reuters

Myanmar pro-democracy supporters took to the streets on Tuesday in several districts, as fighting between the army and anti-junta militias raged in border areas, four months after the military ousted an elected government in a coup. – Reuters

The Philippines has demanded that China withdraw its ships and fishing vessels from the vicinity of a Philippine-occupied island in the South China Sea, where the Chinese military has asserted its sovereignty and vowed to “unswervingly safeguard” the disputed territory. – Associated Press

The US has called on Myanmar’s military junta to immediately release an American journalist who was detained as he was trying to leave the country, saying it was “deeply concerned” about the matter. – Financial Times

Editorial: This is a tacit admission that if Hong Kongers could freely choose their representatives, they’d elect lawmakers like Ms. Mo. Instead, the Communist Party is locking away the opposition and denying bail for the crime of messaging with the press. Live and work in Hong Kong at your peril. As we’ve said before, jailed publisher Jimmy Lai and Hong Kong’s other brave democrats deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. – Wall Street Journal


Russia said on Friday a U.S. decision not to rejoin the Open Skies arms control pact, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member states, is a “political mistake” ahead of a summit between the countries’ presidents. – Reuters

Russia said on Monday it would send what it described as ‘uncomfortable’ signals to the United States ahead of a summit between the two countries’ leaders next month and announced it was beefing up its western border militarily. – Reuters

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny asked a court Monday to halt the hourly night-time checks he has been subjected to in his penal colony. – Associated Press

Russia’s military will form 20 new units in the country’s west this year to counter what it claims is a growing threat from NATO, the defense minister said Monday. – Associated Press

The former executive director of Open Russia, a pro-democracy movement founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was removed from a plane in St. Petersburg and detained in the latest crackdown on opposition forces in the country. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The White House has suggested that government agencies largely rebuffed the latest cyberassault on U.S. targets by suspected Russian intelligence operatives and downplayed adversarial tensions ahead of a summit next month between the U.S. and Russian presidents. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Russian deputy ambassador to the United Nations has described hundreds of Russian soldiers due to be sent to the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) this month as “unarmed instructors.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: Another lesson, however, remains: Mr. Putin will not respond to the traditional playbook of sanctions and expulsions by backing down, but rather by stepping up to the boundaries of Internet-age espionage and pushing them. Mr. Biden must make very clear what the United States is and is not willing to tolerate. He must also have a plan for how to respond when an adversary refuses to listen. – Washington Post


The Biden administration announced Friday the United States will reimpose sanctions on Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko forced the diversion of a commercial Ryanair flight last week to arrest a journalist on board. – Washington Post

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday declared that wiretapping “is not acceptable between allies” and asked the United States for clarity after new claims emerged about National Security Agency efforts to spy on European leaders between 2012 and 2014. – Washington Post

On some evenings in Belarus’s capital — at a prearranged time after the police patrols have moved on — windows open and protesters shout slogans against the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko. – Washington Post

The European Union is deciding what sanctions to impose on Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko intercepted a Ryanair flight and detained Roman Protasevich, a dissident on board, and his girlfriend, Russian activist Sofia Sapega. – Washington Post

The maiden voyage of a new British aircraft carrier will seek to show allies that post-Brexit Britain is ready to defend Western interests and eager to see China respect international rules, the vessel’s commander said. – Reuters

A man who stabbed and badly wounded a policewoman on Friday in the town of La Chapelle-sur-Erdre in western France was reported by prison staff to have been radicalised in jail, a source close to the investigation said. – Reuters

A $20 billion plan to give NATO more flexibility in facing military threats, climate change and China’s rise has hit firm resistance from France, which fears the move could undermine its defence priorities, four diplomats and a French defence source said. – Reuters

Georgia’s largest opposition party United National Movement (UNM) said on Sunday it would return to the parliament after having boycotted it for seven months. – Reuters

Russia will defend Belarus and help it if the European Union imposes economic sanctions on Minsk over the grounding of a plane and arrest of a dissident blogger, the RIA news agency cited a Russian foreign ministry official as saying. – Reuters

The NATO military alliance is restricting access to its headquarters for a group of Belarus officials in the wake of Minsk’s decision to divert a Ryanair passenger plane to arrest a dissident journalist earlier this month. – Associated Press

Britain’s relations with the EU risk growing increasingly fractious as frustrations mount over the UK’s refusal to fully implement its post-Brexit obligations in Northern Ireland, a top Brussels official has warned. – Financial Times

Lithuania says it is expelling two Belarusian diplomats accused of conducting activities “incompatible with their diplomatic status” amid international outrage over Belarus’s forced landing of a Vilnius-bound passenger flight in Minsk and the detention of a dissident journalist. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

John R. Bolton writes: We cannot underestimate how difficult are the prospects facing Belarus. It is certain, however, that sanctions and one-off expressions of displeasure with Lukashenko will not change his behavior or regime. Merely driving him deeper into Putin’s embrace risks losing all of Belarus, essentially forever. Time was growing short after last summer’s rigged elections. It is even shorter today. – Washington Post

Timothy Garton Ash writes: So what this visit really shows is the acute tension, visible all across the British government’s external policy, between principle and self interest. […]That the British prime minister feels the need to court this illiberal leader of a small EU member state thus illustrates a central dilemma of post-Brexit Britain. It is the dilemma of self-inflicted weakness. – Financial Times

Dan Hannan writes: Rogue states such as Belarus present us with a choice. We can decide that it’s not our business to intervene and find ways to live with them, or we can seek to depose their leaders. Let’s not pretend that economic sanctions are a way to avoid that. – Washington Examiner

Hal Brands writes: Imposing targeted sanctions on regime officials can help cut off Lukashenko’s supporters from ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad. European countries should also strengthen political support for Lukashenko’s opposition — by continually highlighting the regime’s brutality and constricting their dealings with state-owned enterprises that are complicit in the repression — as a way of preserving hope, however distant, for democratic change. – Bloomberg

Dominik Wullers writes: Now, Germany has recently confirmed that it will soon send a warship into the hot zone that is the Indo-Pacific. […]Given Germany’s long tradition of pacifist restraint and Wilsonian moralism, it is remarkable how fast the shift to a more realistic world view is happening. The shift is not yet complete: The guidelines still contain much that is Wilsonian. However, considering that only a few years ago such a document would have been political suicide, its very existence is remarkable. – War on the Rocks


Gunmen kidnapped more than 100 students from an Islamic school in Nigeria on Sunday, local officials said, the latest in a rising tide of high-school abductions across Africa’s most populous nation, where kidnapping school children for ransom has become a lucrative industry. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union could have a military training mission in place in Mozambique within several months, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said on Friday, helping the southern African country tackle Islamist insurgents. – Reuters

Mali’s constitutional court on Friday declared Assimi Goita, the colonel who led a military coup this week while serving as vice president, to be the new interim president. – Reuters

Armed attacks on two different villages overnight in Congo’s eastern Ituri province killed at least 49 people, local government officials said Monday. – Associated Press

West African leaders suspended Mali from their regional bloc Sunday over what they said amounted to a coup last week, Ghana’s foreign minister said after an emergency meeting to address the political crisis in Mali. – Associated Press

Thousands of Ethiopians gathered in the nation’s capital Sunday to protest outside pressure on the government over its brutal war in Tigray. – Associated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday suggested France will pull troops from Mali if the country’s institutional instability persists and inhibits the fight against Islamic extremists. – Associated Press

John Campbell and Robert I. Rotberg write: Yet time is running out for Nigeria. The country could soon be in even worse shape. There are Islamist insurgents at the gates, along with other serious threats to internal peace and security. Nigerians are resilient, but their best efforts to reverse the collapse of the Nigerian state require immediate support. – Foreign Affairs

The Americas

President Ivan Duque ordered troops deployed across a swath of Colombia to bring order after a month of anti government protests that have left more than 25 people dead and hobbled Latin America’s fourth-largest economy. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration’s first major move on Cuba is the strongest signal yet it has little appetite to reverse Trump-era policies toward the island nation. – The Hill

The U.S. national security community is monitoring two Iranian naval vessels whose ultimate destination may be Venezuela, according to three people familiar with the situation, in what would be a provocative move at a tense moment in U.S.-Iran relations. – Politico

United States

US President Joe Biden on Friday denounced the recent rise in “despicable, unconscionable, un-American” anti-Semitic attacks across the United States. – Algemeiner

U.S. President Joe Biden’s first budget request for the Department of Defense slashes procurement by $8 billion, whacking scores of legacy weapons and systems as a way to deliver a $5.5 billion boost for the development and testing of cutting-edge technologies that could deter China. – Defense News  

Dustin Walker writes: An American strategy that treats the Pacific as the highest priority will require a serious shift in mentality. Mr. Austin can start that process by canceling the Reagan’s deployment to the Middle East and showing he’s willing to follow his own advice and make hard choices. His tenure began amid questions of whether a former commander in the Middle East was suited to manage a strategic shift to the Pacific. It isn’t too late to prove the doubters wrong. – Wall Street Journal


Just weeks before the ransomware gang known as DarkSide attacked the owner of a major American pipeline, disrupting gasoline and jet fuel deliveries up and down the East Coast of the United States, the group was turning the screws on a small, family-owned publisher based in the American Midwest. – New York Times 

The world’s biggest meat supplier has become the latest casualty of a cybersecurity attack, posing a fresh threat to global food security already rattled by the Covid-19 pandemic. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: Sometimes, platforms give in to the dictates that come their way, arguing that they must obey local laws; sometimes, they push back, as with Google’s appeal of Russian rulings and WhatsApp’s lawsuit against nascent Indian rules that would preclude end-to-end encryption. The fight will get only harder, however, as countries continue to escalate their abuses — which they will surely do if the United States and its allies continue to be silent. – Washington Post


A U.S. warship failed to intercept a ballistic missile test target on Saturday. “The objective of the test was to demonstrate the capability of a ballistic missile defense (BMD)-configured Aegis ship to detect, track, engage and intercept a medium range ballistic missile target with a salvo of two Standard Missile-6 Dual II (BMD-initialized) missiles,” the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) wrote in a statement. – The Hill

The U.S. Department of Defense will continue to defend its contentious Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract in court after signaling earlier this year that the program’s future was uncertain, according to court documents filed Friday. – C4ISRNET

This month, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. signed a document that could help form the foundation of success in future warfare. He approved the Air Force’s first-ever Advanced Battle Management System campaign plan as a playbook to achieving “decision superiority” in support of the Department of Defense’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative. – C4ISRNET

The Missile Defense Agency’s $8.9 billion fiscal 2022 budget request focuses heavily on the development of future capabilities including a next-generation interceptor for homeland missile defense, a hypersonic defensive capability and space-based tracking critical to detecting challenging threats, according to budget documents released May 28. – Defense News

The Biden administration on Friday proposed a $10.4 billion cybersecurity budget for the Department of Defense next year and plans to add significantly to the cyber mission force responsible for cyberspace national security. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Navy has asked for a budget that would boost near-term readiness by investing in ship and aircraft maintenance but shrinks procurement and force structure, again pausing plans to grow the fleet. – Defense News

The U.S. Space Force asked Congress Friday for $17.4 billion in its 2022 budget request, a bold 13 percent increase for the smallest service when overall military spending is expected to be nearly flat. – C4ISRNET

Eva M. Lisowski writes: This study is part of a two-year project funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance; The Scaife Foundation; the MacArthur Foundation; and the Carnegie Corporation of New York to determine what verifying and enforcing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) requires. It was prompted by recent public announcements by political leaders in Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia that their nations might acquire nuclear weapons. Such public statements are unprecedented and suggest nuclear weapons might not only spread in the Middle East, but might actually be used. – Nonproliferation Policy Education Center

Long War

Insurgents from the Islamist group Boko Haram killed four soldiers and four civilians in an attack on Niger’s southeastern desert town of Diffa, the defence ministry said. – Reuters

At least 50 people were killed overnight in two new attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, monitors said Monday, as a local official blamed a notorious group linked to the Islamic State group (IS). – Agence France-Presse

Four civilians and a police officer were killed Sunday by suspected jihadists in southern Mali, a region that has previously been mostly spared from the country’s Islamist unrest, a security official said. – Agence France-Presse