Fdd's overnight brief

June 10, 2021

In The News


A prominent Iranian presidential candidate said Wednesday he’d be willing to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden if he wins his country’s election next week, though “America needs to send better and stronger signals” to the Islamic Republic. – Associated Press

Iran’s president angrily defended himself Wednesday after coming under harsh attack during a presidential election debate the night before, saying his critics’ “love for power causes memory loss.” – Associated Press

Negotiations between Iran and the world powers on how to revive the 2015 nuclear accord will resume this weekend, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said on Wednesday, adding that Iran’s June 18 presidential election was a complicating factor. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, resigned to the revival of a nuclear pact with Iran they always opposed, are engaging with Tehran to contain tensions while lobbying for future talks to take their security concerns into account. – Reuters

A top U.S. envoy appealed to Iran to accept a “mutual return” to a landmark nuclear agreement with world powers as diplomats are set to gather to negotiate a cap on the Persian Gulf country’s atomic program in exchange for sanctions relief.  – Bloomberg

Iran said it’s preparing to hike oil production even as talks with world powers over how to lift sanctions curbing the nation’s crude exports have so far failed to clinch an agreement. – Bloomberg

Almost six years ago, Iranians poured into the streets to celebrate Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. They saw it as a chance for the Islamic Republic to re-enter the world economy and create opportunities like purchasing airplanes and selling its oil on the international market. Today, that dream has faded into a daily grinding nightmare of high inflation, an ever-weakening national currency and high unemployment worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. – Associated Press

Former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot on Wednesday acknowledged that a renewed nuclear deal between Iran and the United States and other world powers, preventing Tehran from obtaining an atomic weapon for some period of time, would likely free up Israel’s resources for other pressing security matters. – Times of Israel

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday there were few outstanding issues left to resolve in talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal and that there were no longer any insurmountable obstacles left, the RIA news agency reported. – Reuters

Eli Lake writes: Finally, an offer of free vaccines to Iran would emphasize a longstanding message of U.S. diplomacy: America’s quarrel is not with the Iranian people, but with the regime that purports to represent them. It would show that the U.S. seeks friendship with its people and not their oppressors. For the last few months, China and Russia have tried to make the case that they are better friends to U.S. allies than America. Biden has an opportunity to repay the favor with a single act of generosity that both discredits America’s rivals and helps the Iranian people. – Bloomberg

Ahmed El-Masry writes: Moreover, Iran could in turn provide Russian technologies and techniques to its proxies in the region, such as Hezbollah and the Houthi militia, which could be used against Gulf or Israeli targets. Finally, Russian cyber teams could be sent to Iran to observe Iranian networks and examine the U.S. or the Israeli malware used against Iran, helping both countries to enhance their defensive capabilities against future attacks. – Middle East Institute


Syrian air defences on Tuesday intercepted an Israeli missile strike over the capital Damascus, state media reported, while military defectors said the missiles may have targeted Iranian-backed militias. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden plans to personally press Russian President Vladimir Putin to expand the distribution of aid into Syria during their summit next week, elevating the U.S. role in preventing another humanitarian calamity in the heart of the Middle East and testing the president’s ability to extract concessions from one of the United States’ most prominent adversaries, according to three sources briefed on the plan. – Foreign Policy

One Russian servicemen was killed and three were injured when an explosive device detonated under their patrol car in the Syrian province of Al Hasakah, RIA news agency reported on Wednesday, citing the Russian military. – Reuters


Turkey is hoping that a meeting between President Tayyip Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden at next week’s NATO summit will yield positive results, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday, adding the meeting would be “critical”. – Reuters

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that northern Iraq’s Makhmour camp, where Turkish air strikes killed at least three people at the weekend, must be cleared of Kurdish militants. – Reuters

Turkey wants NATO allies to share the financial and security burden of having its troops safeguard the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, a critical issue for the U.S. as it seeks to maintain a diplomatic presence in the city. – Bloomberg


When Israeli police detained Muna al-Kurd and issued a summons for her twin brother, Muhammad, their millions of followers on social media raised an alarm. […]In recent weeks, a campaign of detentions has swept up Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Arab citizens all over Israel, amid an ongoing surge in Palestinian activism and on the heels of the worst communal violence in years. – Washington Post

The Biden administration is laying the groundwork for a renewed push to encourage more Arab countries to sign accords with Israel and working to strengthen existing deals after last month’s devastating war in the Gaza Strip interrupted those diplomatic efforts. – Associated Press

Naftali Bennett made his name as a hard-right Israeli ultranationalist demanding more Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank and harsher action against Palestinian militants. Now he is on the verge of claiming Israel’s highest office with the support of the fringe-left and the Jewish state’s only Islamist Arab party. – Financial Times

Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) aired a report on Hamas’s complex of underground combat tunnels on June 5, 2021. According to the report, only limited damage was done to the tunnel complex, and whatever damage was sustained has been repaired. Jihad, a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades said that the tunnels are used for communication and to store ammunition, and rocket launchpads. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Syrian journalist Thaer Al-Nashef, who is currently living in exile in Vienna, said that the Hamas “media machine” and Iran have exploited events in Jerusalem and Gaza in order to garner Arab sympathy over other Palestinian factions and to further Iranian interests in the Vienna nuclear negotiations. He made these remarks in a show that aired on Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) on May 25, 2021. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Two members of the Palestinian Authority’s military intelligence and one Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist were shot and killed by Israeli security forces on Wednesday night in Jenin, according to Palestinian reports. – Jerusalem Post

The Israeli Foreign Ministry boycotted the European Union’s envoy to the Middle East during his recent visit to Israel, Israeli news site Walla revealed on Wednesday. – Algemeiner

Civil Administration personnel working at the postal inspection facility at the Beitunia crossing have thwarted more than 1,000 attempts to smuggle postal packages suspected of being dual-use items in recent months, and which were meant to enter the Gaza Strip for use by terrorist organizations. – Arutz Sheva

Aharon E. Wexler writes: The problem is that the Hamas keeps on poking us in the eye and we quite literally have nowhere else to go. […]Perhaps the most jarring image I saw during the war that encapsulates just how far Israel has failed to make its case was a sign I saw: “Queers for Palestine.” It goes back to my earlier point of how much the progressive Left misunderstands the situation. In Gaza they imprison a man guilty of homosexual sex. In Israel we make him a coalition partner. – Jerusalem Post

Yoav J. Tenembaum writes: Israel perceived Iraq as a mortal enemy. Its leaders believed that Saddam was a singularly dangerous enemy. Begin spoke openly about his fear of an Iraqi nuclear device being used against Israeli civilians. […]The other side of the Begin Doctrine, even though it has never been mentioned as such, is that Israel should do its utmost to moderate regional conflicts and achieve peace when possible. Thus, Begin left a two-fold legacy: the attack against Iraq’s nuclear reactor and the peace agreement with Egypt. – Jerusalem Post

Benji Levy writes: It’s easy to call for unity. The hard part is to translate it into action. This new government will have to work hard to stay together under immense pressure. […]A focus on unifying Israelis around these pressing issues will create confidence and strength to tackle the broader challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people which have been exacerbated in recent times. This could be the government that shelves those things that divide us and makes some actual progress on those things which we all need to so desperately fix. – Jerusalem Post

Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander H. Joffe write: Like other totalitarian governments, the atmosphere of harassment and intimidation created by Hamas is real and palpable. […]When access is everything, Westerners willingly make themselves hostages. And when the truth slips out, access is lost and apologies flow. Matthias Schmale’s accidental candor cost him a job, but fortunately not his life. With $150 million of renewed US funding and yet another “emergency appeal” from UNRWA, the stakes are high — but the truth seems unlikely to reappear soon. – Algemeiner


Iraq’s government suffered an embarrassment Wednesday after a rare move to limit impunity among Iran-linked militias instead resulted in a commander accused of several killings walking free from custody and into a hero’s welcome. – Washington Post

Multiple rockets targeted two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S.-led coalition troops and foreign contractors Wednesday, Iraqi security officials and the military said. – Associated Press

For the last year and a half there have been some 300 attacks on US interests in Iraq, mostly rockets, as well as improvised explosive devices targeting supply convoys. – BBC

Sadiq Hassaan writes: As such, after losing Iranian funding for those activities, the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are relying on new local financial sources. As a part of that operation, some militias, like Hezbollah al-Nujaba and Saraya al-Salam, have opened loan offices for Iraqi employees and retirees who have online payment cards. These loans are often harmful to borrowers, and they expose an entrenched network of usurious lending with complicity from national banks and at least one major financial firm in Iraq. Furthermore, the loans violate Islamic law, calling into question the militias’ ideological legitimacy and highlighting their determination for power. – Washington Institute


Lebanon’s sole coastline along the Mediterranean Sea is about 150 miles, and its Navy is largely tasked with protecting the country’s exclusive economic zone. But with the government becoming more interested in oil exploration, the maritime service may have to bolster its security capabilities. Some of that can be accomplished through foreign aid. – Defense News

Alberto M. Fernandez writes: Both the U.S. and France have taken some small steps in punishing local bad actors involved in corruption or political obstruction and that should continue and expand into the pre-electoral period. Paradoxically, such aggressive intrusive steps carefully planned and implemented by the international community are therapeutic interventions aimed at strengthening a Lebanon that has a slight chance, a small possibility, of emerging from the ruins. Lebanon needs a miracle, no doubt. But also, tough and ruthless political international gamesmanship by those who seek to save her from destruction. – Middle East Media Research Institute

David Schenker and Grant Rumley write: Watching Lebanon’s continued deterioration is difficult, but the decline is clearly attributable to what the World Bank recently described as “the disastrous deliberate policy inaction” of Lebanese political elites. Washington and its partners should therefore continue using carrots and sticks to press these elites into putting their country first, while maintaining the international insistence on reform as a prerequisite for a bailout. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Scenes of dozens of Egyptian bulldozers, cranes and trucks entering the Gaza Strip last Friday have left some Palestinians wondering whether Egypt is planning to return to the coastal enclave it ruled between 1948 and 1967. – Jerusalem Post

Egyptian firms are eyeing a revival of business in Libya where a new government is starting work to rebuild the nation on Egypt’s doorstep that was shattered by a decade of fighting and chaos. – Reuters

Israel has reportedly asked Egypt to prevent the entry to Gaza of cement and other building materials that could be diverted by Palestinian terror groups for military use. – Times of Israel

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the sale of F-35 aircraft to the United Arab Emirates was “a critical part” of the normalization deal between Abu Dhabi, Israel and Washington. – Jerusalem Post

Diliman Abdulkader writes: The United States should no longer take a blank-check approach to the Kurdistan region simply because they are allies. The United States, given its position, has significant leverage over KDP and PUK actions; if both parties wish to maintain strong U.S. support, they should understand that it must work to fulfill the demands of the Kurdish people. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

After not being seen in public for almost a month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reappeared in state media on Saturday looking noticeably slimmer. Analysts and foreign intelligence agencies have long pored over what little information escapes North Korea for hints of what is going on inside the Hermit Kingdom. But with the country closing its borders completely during the covid pandemic, Kim-watchers have seized upon his apparently slimmer waistline as a potential sign of — something. – Washington Post

Kim Jong Un certainly looked slimmer last weekend when he emerged from his latest lengthy absence. But it may be the North Korean leader’s Swiss timepiece that provides the clearest evidence he’s been watching his weight. […]The North Korean leader’s weight has long been tracked by spy agencies for clues about about the stability of his autocratic and secretive regime, especially since his family has a history of heart disease. – Bloomberg

North Korea is screening its neighbor’s calls. Officials in South Korea have been phoning the hermit kingdom every day for the last year — to no avail, a report said Wednesday. – New York Post


U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive to speed up work to develop the military forces to deter China and address Pentagon difficulties in carrying out a years-old strategy that called Beijing a principal threat. – Wall Street Journal

An endeavor by Group of Seven nations to set minimum global tax rates for big companies presents a rare opportunity to satisfy objectives of both the U.S. and China. Still, Beijing’s support for the proposal isn’t a foregone conclusion. – Wall Street Journal

Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease authority, said he never played down the possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have been leaked from a lab in China, calling accusations he did so for political reasons “preposterous.” – Wall Street Journal

The European Union denounced on Wednesday Hong Kong’s major overhaul of its political system as a breach by China of its international commitments and threatened to send a delegation to visit the autonomous city. – Reuters

The Chinese foreign ministry defended the value of cultural exchanges with Japan on Wednesday after Chinese intellectuals came under heavy attack from nationalists online for attending events sponsored by the Japanese government over many years. – Reuters

Japan and Australia voiced “serious concerns” on Wednesday over reports of human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, but Beijing dismissed the remarks as a malicious smear. – Reuters

China’s parliament expressed indignation and opposition on Wednesday to a U.S. bill aimed at countering a technology threat from the Asian giant, the official Xinhua news agency said. – Reuters 

Commerce ministers from China and the U.S. agreed to push forward trade and investment links in their first call since the start of the Biden administration. – Bloomberg

Rep. Buddy Carter writes: Instead of giving new opportunities to China, Biden should work with Congress, industry, and other governments to increase the supply and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide and rescind this disastrous proposal. We must increase access to vaccines while protecting our long and storied history of protecting IP to spur innovation. Biden must get tough on China. American innovation and the health and welfare of the world are at stake. – Washington Examiner

Thomas Wright writes: Biden is off to a strong start in Asia, with plans to deepen cooperation among the Quad (a grouping of the U.S., India, Japan, and Australia) to work on vaccine distribution and infrastructure. He has thus far lacked similar ambition and energy in his engagement with Europe, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel has a starkly different strategic assessment of China that is wary of competition and supportive of engagement. These differences will not be easily resolved. – The Atlantic

Ali Wyne and Ryan Hass write: U.S. efforts should proceed from both a clear-eyed recognition that strategic competition with China will persist over the long term and a dispassionate appraisal of Beijing’s competitive strengths and liabilities. The United States can afford to approach that competition with quiet confidence. The more it concentrates on advancing an open and equitable society, restoring its democratic institutions, and maintaining its initiative on the world stage by galvanizing efforts to address transnational challenges, the better it will be able to demonstrate the strength of its own system. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

The Pentagon is considering seeking authorization to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan security forces if Kabul or another major city is in danger of falling to the Taliban, potentially introducing flexibility into President Biden’s plan to end the United States military presence in the conflict, senior officials said. – New York Times

Afghan government and Taliban negotiators met in Qatar’s capital Doha this week to discuss the peace process, the first known meeting in weeks after negotiations largely stalled earlier this year. – Reuters

At least one-quarter of the people in Myanmar’s smallest state have been forced to flee their homes because of combat with the military junta that seized power in February, raising fears of a possible humanitarian tragedy including thousands of civilian deaths, a U.N. expert said Wednesday. – Associated Press

New corruption cases have been opened against Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other former officials from her government, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said on Thursday. – Reuters

Myanmar’s Kayah State could suffer a “massive” loss of life beyond anything seen since the military seized power, with more than 100,000 people fleeing their homes to escape conflict, a U.N. human rights investigator warned on Wednesday. – Reuters

China says its policy toward Myanmar remains unaffected by the country’s domestic situation, bolstering support for a regime that has faced multiple rounds of sanctions from the U.S. and its Western allies following a coup four months ago. – Bloomberg

Pakistan’s finance minister said military co-operation with the US over America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan had given Imran Khan’s government “some space” to delay unpopular IMF reforms. – Financial Times

Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande write: The recent surge of COVID-19 in South Asia challenges India’s traditional ability to aid its smaller neighbors, a change that could, in turn, affect India’s influence in its competition with China. Unless India can recover from this surge with the help of allies like the United States, the pandemic could impact the Indo-Pacific’s geopolitical balance. – Hudson Institute


U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai plans to speak with her Taiwanese counterpart as early as Thursday as the two governments move to restart trade and investment talks that were suspended during the Trump administration, people familiar with the discussion said Wednesday. – Wall Street Journal

Japan and Australia on Wednesday shared concern about China’s increasingly assertive actions in regional seas and expressed strong objections to “coercive or destabilizing” behavior. – Associated Press

Samoa’s disputed leader is promising to build a port with Chinese help for $100 million, about a third of the cost proposed earlier, said sources with knowledge of the situation, as he bids to stay in power despite losing a parliamentary majority in a tight election. – Reuters

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has stoked a feud with boxer Manny Pacquiao by criticising his “shallow” foreign policy knowledge, after the senator and eight-division champion said he found the leader’s stand on the South China Sea was “lacking”. – Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government is seeking to take World Trade Organization action to resolve its wine-tariff trade dispute with China. – Bloomberg

Yet six months later, with Australia-China ties only getting worse, Morrison has still yet to pull the trigger on legislation that would allow his government to join allies in imposing coordinated sanctions against officials from the country’s largest trading partner. – Bloomberg


A Moscow court Wednesday declared the political and anti-corruption networks of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny “extremist” organizations, a move that will essentially crush the most formidable resistance to the Kremlin and force it underground. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in Geneva on June 16, the same day he is set to meet U.S. President Joe Biden there, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted his spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Thursday. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a harsh warning over prospects for Ukraine joining NATO, saying those in the country opposing membership were anxious not to be caught in a middle of a conflict. – Bloomberg

The U.S. and the European Union plan to launch a framework next week to harmonize policy on Russia, a country that’s drawn increasing western criticism for flouting international norms and a deteriorating record on human rights. – Bloomberg

A Russian poet known for his outspoken prose against Vladimir Putin was trailed and targeted by the same poison squad that nearly killed Alexei Navalny, according to a new investigation by Bellingcat. – The Daily Beast

Rob Portman writes: There is bipartisan support in Congress for those in Eastern Europe fighting for a democratic future, but Russia will continue to place obstacles in their way. Mr. Biden should address this forcefully at the coming summit. Strong American leadership will unite the free world in pushing back against Russia’s malign behavior. – Wall Street Journal

Tom Rogan writes: Since at least Monday, United States Navy aircraft, British sea and air forces, and French anti-submarine aircraft have been engaged in unusual operations in and around waters proximate to the location of this week’s G-7 summit. I have highlighted the relevant waters in the context of this week’s G-7 summit at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, England. The summit begins on Friday and ends on Sunday. – Washington Examiner

Daniel Moss writes: Putin spoke after Russia’s oil fund said it will eliminate holdings of dollars and shift them into euros, gold and the yuan. The transfers will take place within the central bank’s reserves and there was little impact on markets. The backdrop to all this is Russia’s objection to sanctions that Washington has applied since Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. […]Given this firepower, might the U.S. overreach and encourage more places to diversify? For all the popular fascination with Chinese aircraft carriers and anxiety about Putin throwing his weight around, Washington has readily deployed dollar diplomacy — or dollar weaponry. – Bloomberg

Tony Barber writes: Like new wine in old bottles, Macron’s reset with Russia reeks of the Gaullist yearning for an independent French role in the western alliance that includes a privileged relationship with Moscow. German policy is to separate, as far as possible, political from economic relations with Russia. Neither approach reassures the central and eastern Europeans. The chief casualty of these disagreements is the EU’s common foreign policy, which in respect of Russia remains a distant aspiration. – Financial Times

Luke Coffey and James Carafano write: Right now, Russia knows that all it has to do to prevent a country from ever joining NATO is to invade and then partially occupy it. Temporarily amending Article 6 would deny Moscow this veto, starting with Georgia. The only question is whether leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have the required creativity and political will. – Heritage Foundation


President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson are anything but natural soul mates — different political parties, different generations, different styles as leaders. When the two sit down together Thursday, they will begin to see whether the term “special relationship” defines not just their countries but the two of them as well. – Washington Post

But will Johnson’s shtick be enough to smooth over tensions that have flared since the leaders of these countries last met in-person? And can he at the same time be a convincing champion for his vision for a swashbuckling free-trading “Global Britain”? – Washington Post

President Biden began his first overseas -trip by telling American troops in Britain that the future of the world depends on restoring the longstanding alliances with European countries that have been “hardened in the fire of war” and built by “generations of Americans.” – New York Times

The United States and the European Union are working toward an agreement that would settle long-running disputes over aircraft subsidies and metals tariffs that set off a trade war during the Trump administration as President Biden looks to re-engage with traditional American allies. – New York Times

Bubbling beneath France’s political landscape is an assortment of ultra-right groups, a subculture that shot to the nation’s attention when a young man slapped President Emmanuel Macron and blurted out a centuries-old royalist cry. – Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden brings a grave Brexit warning to his first meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: Prevent a row with the European Union from imperiling the delicate peace in Northern Ireland. – Reuters

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests and the independent media is turning his nation into “the North Korea of Europe,” the country’s opposition leader told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday. – Reuters

The European Union on Wednesday threatened the UK with retaliatory action if it refuses to implement post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, after talks to solve the simmering row broke up without agreement. – Agence France-Presse

When the US imposed sanctions last week on two Bulgarian businessmen, an intelligence official and more than 60 companies, Hristo Ivanov, who leads an opposition party and is an anti-corruption campaigner, welcomed it as a “friendly gesture” by Washington. – Financial Times

Antisemitic outrages in the Czech Republic rose by more than 25 percent in 2020, with the vast majority of incidents that targeted Jews for harassment occurring online amid the COVID-19 lockdown. – Algemeiner

Italian police have dismantled an online neo-Nazi group spreading anti-Semitic and racist propaganda that urged young people to perpetrate acts of violence against Jews and immigrants, reported Deutsche Welle. – Arutz Sheva

Adam Taylor writes: But if the British leader attempts to play both sides out of opportunism, the U.S. president’s search for middle ground is born of pragmatism. And if their interests often overlap, they do not always align. […]None of this means the “special relationship” is over, of course, and it may be easier than under the mercurial Trump administration. But there’s one thing Johnson should not expect: a piece of cake. – Washington Post

Ben Hall writes: The backlash suggests public opinion in Europe is increasingly unwilling to accept pricey Chinese projects that leave a heavy burden for future generations. […]The Fudan backlash could have political consequences for Orban, too. The protests, the first since the pandemic, have helped galvanise the opposition movement before next year’s elections. The opposition parties are hoping to join forces to try to topple Orban’s Fidesz. – Financial Times

Dr. Vladislav L. Inozemtsev writes: These days Russia and the West play a high-stakes game over Belarus. As the country underwent an authoritarian transformation ahead of Russia, and drove into complete madness, it now faces the Western reaction earlier than Russia may. The 2020 protests reflected the internal weaknesses of the regime, making it a natural target for Western policymakers, since Belarus stays much closer to Russia than Ukraine does and its loss may damage the Kremlin’s positions more than Ukraine’s departure did. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Elisabeth Braw writes: Whatever Joe Biden does or says during his days in Cornwall and Brussels, and during his one-on-one with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his visit is guaranteed to generate less acrimony than Trump’s UK calls. Relative absence of rancor, in fact, may be the essence of Biden’s relationship with America’s allies. Here’s a bet: The G7 summit will end with nice words and, of course, the taxation agreement reached by finance ministers and central bank governors earlier this week. – American Enterprise Institute

Dalibor Roháč writes: The obsession with “moving the European project forward” is not just an oddity that sets the EU apart from other economic integration projects around the world—like Mercosur, ASEAN, or the African Union. Still, while the EU’s constant overreach and underdelivery might not lead to the EU’s unraveling, it definitely risks making the bloc irrelevant. – American Purpose

Heather A. Conley and James Andrew Lewis write: This is a straightforward strategic calculation: for Europe to achieve its technological goals, it needs to partner with the United States. For the United States to achieve its national security goals within a strategic competitive framework with Russia and China, it needs to partner with Europe. Taking divergent paths would be a strategic blunder for both the United States and Europe. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

James Andrew Lewis writes: Private assurance will not have the broad political and public effect needed. Some on the European left may never be persuaded, as the myth of U.S. surveillance is too attractive for their own worldview, but a no-spy agreement can help to take an important issue off the table while repairing transatlantic ties. The United States would lose little and gain much by adopting a more transparent posture and by offering to reach agreement with European allies. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


A high-level U.N.-led committee that focuses on rapid responses to humanitarian crises estimates that some 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region are facing famine conditions, a U.N. official said late Wednesday. – Associated Press

The United States is providing more than $181 million to deliver food, water and aid to feed more than three million people it said were facing famine in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where thousands have been killed since conflict erupted in November. – Reuters

Fatou Bensouda briefed the U.N. Security Council for the last time as chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, lamenting that the tribunal has not yet brought justice to victims of atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region. But she said a new era in Sudan and the transfer of the first Darfur suspect to the court should give them hope. – Associated Press

The leader of Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, has killed himself, according to a jihadi organization linked to the Islamic State group. – Associated Press

Sudan and Egypt renewed calls Wednesday for the international community to help in resolving their decade-long dispute with Ethiopia over a giant dam that Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile River. – Associated Press

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed told AFP Twitter had sought talks with the government, which last week suspended the platform’s operations in the country, saying it was used for activities threatening the country’s stability. – Agence France-Presse

Prosecutors in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Wednesday accused a French national of espionage, conspiracy and harming state security, in a case that has sparked tension with CAR’s former colonial power. – Agence France-Presse

Latin America

The Biden administration is invoking provisions in a new trade agreement to ask Mexico to look into accusations of labor violations at an auto-parts plant near the U.S. border. – New York Times

Donald Trump’s Cuba policies are now Joe Biden’s and they are taking a heavy toll on the Caribbean nation, according to the Cuban diplomat who negotiated the 2015 rapprochement with the U.S. – Bloomberg

An international monitoring group on Wednesday accused police officers in Colombia of responsibility for the deaths of 20 people and other violent actions against protesters during recent unrest, including sexual abuse, beatings and arbitrary detentions. – Associated Press

The U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on the daughter of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and a top army official Wednesday, a day after the arrests of two more potential opposition candidates for the presidency. – Associated Press

A mission from the Organization of American States arrived in Haiti on Tuesday amid concerns over what it called the country’s grave political, security and human rights situation. – Associated Press

The Biden administration is urging Venezuela and Cuba to turn away two Iranian warships believed to be carrying arms intended for transfer to Caracas, while vowing that the U.S. will take “appropriate measures” to deter what it sees as a “threat” to America’s partners in the Western Hemisphere. – Politico

Biden administration officials are “quietly perplexed” about Vice President Harris’ fumbling multiple questions about the border and are concerned her unforced errors will overshadow her first international trip, according to a report. – New York Post

After six years of sending a small contingent of Marines to Central and South America each year to train with allies and support hurricane relief efforts, the Corps has halted the rotation in an apparent effort to save money. – Military.com

Frida Ghitis writes: Can anything be done to prevent another fraudulent election? Yes. The Biden administration has vowed to make strengthening democracy and rule of law in Central America a key element of its campaign to address the root causes of mass migration to the United States. Vice President Harris, who visited the region this week, and other administration officials, should call out Ortega and help organize Latin American regional leaders to pressure the regime to free Chamorro and commit to holding free and fair elections. – Washington Post

North America

The domestic relationships are still playing out. But as Biden embarks on his first foreign trip this week, it will quickly become evident whether his brand of personal diplomacy and oft-mentioned familiarity with foreign leaders can produce results for the United States. – Washington Post

Former White House counsel Donald McGahn told lawmakers last week that he was seeking to avoid “a chain reaction that would be not in anyone’s interest” when he ignored President Donald Trump’s direction to fire the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a transcript of his closed-door testimony released Wednesday. – Washington Post

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday that aims to boost U.S. semiconductor production and the development of artificial intelligence and other technology in the face of growing international competition, most notably from China. – Associated Press

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday promised to redouble efforts to fight far-right groups two days after a hate-motivated attack that killed four members of a Muslim family in the city of London, Ontario. – Reuters

A dozen House Democrats urged Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) late Wednesday to “clarify” a Twitter post in which the Squad member claimed that America, Israel, Hamas and the Taliban have all committed “unspeakable atrocities.” – New York Post

Editorial: Mr. Biden’s anti-carbon fusillade will have no effect on the climate as global demand for fossil fuels will continue to increase for decades no matter what the U.S. does. Meantime, Russia, China and Iran will take advantage of America’s astonishing fossil-fuel retreat. […]Progressives want to surrender one of America’s major strategic economic advantages in the name of saving the climate. But banishing fossil fuels in the U.S. won’t eliminate carbon emissions, which will be produced somewhere else. So will the jobs, economic growth and geopolitical leverage. – Wall Street Journal


President Biden revoked a Trump-era attempt to ban Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat , substituting Wednesday an executive order mandating a broad review of apps controlled by foreign adversaries to determine whether they pose a security threat to the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

El Salvador passed a new law on Wednesday that would make the small Central American country the world’s first to deem bitcoin legal tender, a move that analysts say risks putting its economy at the mercy of the digital currency’s sharp swings. – Wall Street Journal

JBS, the world’s largest meat supplier, confirmed Wednesday that it paid the equivalent of $11 million in ransom to hackers who targeted and temporarily crippled its business. – Washington Post

When the Senate passed legislation to counter China’s growing economic clout late Tuesday, it excluded a measure designed to protect online shoppers from counterfeit and dangerous products after aggressive lobbying led by Amazon. – Washington Post

But this week’s revelation that federal officials had recovered most of the Bitcoin ransom paid in the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack exposed a fundamental misconception about cryptocurrencies: They are not as hard to track as cybercriminals think. – New York Times

This circle of slander has been lucrative for the websites and associated middlemen — and devastating for victims. Now Google is trying to break the loop. The company plans to change its search algorithm to prevent websites, which operate under domains like BadGirlReport.date and PredatorsAlert.us, from appearing in the list of results when someone searches for a person’s name. – New York Times

Pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera said it was subjected to continual hacking attempts over recent days but the cyber attack on Qatar’s flagship broadcaster had been fended off. – Reuters

Colonial Pipeline may use the recovered funds paid out to cyber criminals as part of a ransomware attack last month to increase cybersecurity, Joseph Blount, the company’s president and CEO, said Wednesday. – The Hill

Molly Roberts writes: More speech isn’t always better, and platforms as well as the people who use them are wise to recognize it. But less speech isn’t always better either. If we have to learn that the same hard way we’ve learned this last lesson, the pendulum may well swing back around. And we wouldn’t want to find ourselves, another decade down the line, fighting all over again to free the nipple. – Washington Post

Thomas P. Vartanian writes: Online security requires more than technological hygiene. It needs leadership and the rule of law anchored to responsibility for digital behavior. If the United States does not take the lead in forming a coalition of nations to take these first five steps now while it has the economic heft to do so, it may be too late by the end of this decade.  – The Hill


A two-star general has been forced out of his job after an investigation found that he should have done more to prepare a unit of Marines that suffered a “preventable” disaster at sea last year that killed nine people. – Washington Post

Mobile command posts dot the battlefield. On-the-move units connect with new commercial satellite constellations but automatically pivot to other communications routes if interrupted by an adversary. Soldiers and systems on the ground communicate with waveforms that mask their locations while receiving up-to-date battlefield data to help make decisions. – C4ISRNET

Boeing Co. is behind schedule on two new Air Force One aircraft, which could mean the upgraded VC-25B planes will not be delivered until 2025, according to service officials. – Military.com

The Pentagon drew up its $715 billion budget request with a clear-eyed approach on how to “deter military aggression” when it comes to China, the Defense Department’s number two civilian said on Tuesday. – USNI News

Long War

A refugee camp set up to shelter women and children after the defeat of Islamic State has instead turned into a mini-caliphate itself, where female leaders nurture the group’s violent ideology and run money-making schemes that help keep the insurgency alive outside the razor wire. – Wall Street Journal

The 12-year-old United Nations-backed international tribunal prosecuting the assassinations of Lebanese political figures will cease operations this month unless funds are secured, as Lebanon’s currency crisis continues to worsen. – Foreign Policy

Steven Emerson writes: Germany faces an array of Islamist terrorist threats, and has foiled numerous high-profile plots in recent years, including Islamic State-led cells that sought to target a Berlin synagogue, strike US military bases, and carry out a mass-casualty attack using ricin-based biological weapons. Although German security authorities have managed to crack down on clandestine Hezbollah-related activities, Hezbollah remains resilient in the face of German sanctions and continues to strengthen its presence across the country. – Algemeiner