Fdd's overnight brief

June 12, 2023

In The News


The U.S. said Friday that Iran ships drones to Russia over the Caspian Sea en route to the battlefield in Ukraine, declassifying intelligence to show the two countries’ deepening security relationship. – Wall Street Journal

Companies should ensure they aren’t inadvertently supplying electronics or other parts that could be used by Iran to make drones, U.S. officials said Friday, after declassifying information showing that Iran has shipped drones to Russia. – Wall Street Journal

A surge in executions is putting Iran on course for the highest annual number of capital punishments in nearly a decade, a rise that activists and analysts say reflects Tehran’s determination to stamp out political unrest and crime. – Wall Street Journal

The Iranian journalist Niloufar Hamedi specialized in covering women’s issues. So when her editor noticed an Instagram post about a young woman in a hospital in bad shape after being arrested for violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code, Ms. Hamedi headed straight there. – New York Times

Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi participated in a women’s boulder World Cup event in Brixen, Italy on Friday, her first tournament since she competed in an international contest without a headscarf last year. – Reuters

Iran could exchange prisoners with Washington soon if the U.S. shows goodwill, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Monday at his weekly press conference. – Reuters

Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday said a deal with the West over Tehran’s nuclear work was possible if the country’s nuclear infrastructure remained intact, amid a stalemate between Tehran and Washington to revive a 2015 nuclear pact. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday about the consequences of delivering drones to Russia, Macron’s office said on Saturday. – Reuters

The West could not stop Iran from building nuclear weapons if Tehran wanted a pursue a nuclear arms programme, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday, amid mounting tensions over the country’s advanced nuclear work. – Reuters

Iranian authorities have summoned and arrested a cartoonist who has a history of being imprisoned for political posts on her Instagram account, her lawyer said Friday. – Associated Press

An Iranian policeman was killed Sunday in a car-ramming attack by a relative of a boy whose family says he was killed by security forces during nationwide protests last year, local media reported. – Agence France-Presse

The US is expected to soon begin unloading oil from an Iranian vessel it seized which is now anchored off the coast of Texas, threatening to escalate a shadow tanker war with Tehran. – Financial Times

A bipartisan letter from 35 members of Congress called on European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to “snapback” sanctions on Iran. – Jerusalem Post

The fall of the Islamic Republic will have positive effects on the entire Middle East, Reza Pahlavi, the crown prince of Iran and founder of the National Council of Iran, said on the sidelines of The Jerusalem Post Annual New York Conference on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

Officials from the United States and Iran held indirect talks in Oman last month, with officials from Muscat acting as intermediaries, according to a Friday report. – Times of Israel

Benny Avni writes: The White House is denying the growing reports that a pact may be struck between American and Iran related to uranium enrichment. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, isn’t buying it, and is speaking out in what amounts to a stern tone of voice. […] As assets are already being unfrozen, understandings and arrangements increasingly look like they are around the corner. – New York Sun

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The West continues to highlight the program and discover new ways to sanction it; and Ukraine has also been raising the alarm about Iran’s drones. Nevertheless the recent reports about the universities shows how even the most seemingly innocent academic setting can be infiltrated by Iran’s regime and exploited. – Jerusalem Post

Claudia Tenney writes: With Iran barreling toward enough enriched uranium for a bomb, we are already short on time. Sitting on our hands and waiting until Iran reaches 90% enrichment is a dangerous and counterproductive delay tactic that benefits one party: the Islamic Republic of Iran. There should be no delay, which is why our E3 allies should act now to initiate snapback. – Jerusalem Post

Eric Brewer and Henry Rome write: These measures would be a far cry from the stringent limits in the JCPOA, and the United States would still have to contend with Iran as a virtual nuclear state. But in the absence of any real chance of a comprehensive nuclear deal, they may be the best the Biden administration can hope for. – Foreign Affairs

Russia & Ukraine

Moscow police have arrested an American musician living in Russia on drug charges that could carry a sentence of up to 12 years in prison, Russian news services reported Sunday. – Wall Street Journal

The Ukrainians didn’t panic, their commander said in an interview. They didn’t have time. But they did have a U.S.-made Patriot surface-to-air missile system, which days earlier had, for the first time, knocked down an ultrafast Kinzhal ballistic missile. Also known as the Kh-47, the Kinzhal is one of Russia’s most advanced weapons. – Wall Street Journal

This is the misery of life in Kherson, a riverfront community in southern Ukraine where thousands of residents like Hryhorak have faced one calamity after another. Their homes, already on a deadly front line, are now suddenly underwater. – Washington Post

Armed with Western weapons and trained in NATO tactics, Ukrainian troops have begun a push into Russian-occupied territory in southeastern Ukraine. – Washington Post

The view from villagers’ gardens on the northern shore of the Kakhovka Reservoir has changed significantly in the four days since an explosion destroyed the nearby dam and the waters receded. – New York Times

The leader of Russia’s Wagner private military company said Sunday that his group would not comply with an order that would require it to sign a formal contract with Russia’s defense ministry by July 1. – New York Times

A senior Biden administration official says that U.S. spy satellites detected an explosion at the Kakhovka dam just before it collapsed, but American analysts still do not know who caused the dam’s destruction or how exactly it happened. – New York Times

The last reactor still producing energy at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, in southern Ukraine, was put into a “cold shutdown” — a state in which it no longer generates electricity — as a safety precaution after the destruction of a nearby dam threatened the facility’s water supply, Ukrainian energy officials said. – New York Times

Russia on Sunday said it had destroyed at least seven German-made Leopard tanks and five U.S.-made Bradley vehicles over 48 hours while repelling Ukrainian attacks, though Russian bloggers reported Ukraine had briefly pierced part of the Russian line. – Reuters

Ukrainian troops are probing Russian defenses as spring gives way to a second summer of fighting, and Kyiv’s forces are facing an enemy that has made mistakes and suffered setbacks in the 15-month-old war. But analysts say Moscow also has learned from those blunders and improved its weapons and skills. – Associated Press

The International Court of Justice has accepted requests from 32 countries to back Ukraine in a genocide case against Russia, the United Nations’ highest court said Friday. – Associated Press

Russia’s Defense Ministry says it repelled an attack by Ukrainian speedboats on one of its Black Sea Naval vessels early on Sunday. – Bloomberg

The Biden administration on Friday announced another security aid package for Ukraine valued at $2.1 billion, providing more air defense systems and munitions for Kyiv to defend against Russian missile attacks. – The Hill

Editorial: A Ukrainian failure to advance would encourage the isolationists on the U.S. right and left to block more support. The next phase of the war will be difficult, and maybe long, but backing Ukraine is in America’s national interest. It would help if President Biden explained the stakes to the American people. – Wall Street Journal

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Yet given the dynamics playing out in the House, and the likelihood that only through some budgetary legerdemain can Ukraine receive the aid it needs, the administration may find it has little choice but to voice its support for a defense supplemental that not only would underscore America’s commitment to outpacing China’s military, but also to continue its leadership of the international effort to preserve Ukrainian freedom and independence. – The Hill

Francesca Giovannini writes: I fully support Kennedy’s vision for a peaceful world. However, Putin is not Khrushchev, and today’s America is no longer Kennedy’s America. We have to be aware of these profound historical differences and begin rethinking our approach to arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament with that clarity in mind. But we should never give up our hope and aspirations for greater peace and a more harmonious world. We ought it to the whole humanity who will come after us. – The Hill

Michael Rubin writes: In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States and other countries guaranteed Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for its forfeit of nuclear weapons. Twenty years later when Russian forces marched into Crimea, President Obama showed U.S. commitments to be empty and our words to be without meaning. It is time to reverse that damage. The simple fact is this: United States maintains nuclear weapons because they are an effective deterrent against other nuclear states. Ukraine should have the same right. – 19FortyFive

Leon Aron writes: If the West does not blink, how long will it be before the largely indifferent Russian public grows first anxious and then angry, and the populist warmongers, like the commander and owner of the Wagner “private military company” Yevgeny Prigozhin, who until now has refrained from criticizing the “Supreme Commander-in-Chief” (while denouncing the Minister of Defense and the Chief of General Staff in unprintable terms) trains his obscene Telegram outbursts at the Kremlin? How Putin would then attempt to get out of the losing game is anyone’s guess. The worst outcome would be nuclear blackmail. The West ought to be prepared to confront it. – American Enterprise Institute


Germany plans to buy Israel’s Arrow-3 missile defence system for almost 4 billion euros ($4.30 billion) in total, and will ask lawmakers to release advance payments of up to 560 million euros next week, according to documents seen by Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank were not an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians in an interview published Friday, testing ties between Washington and its main Middle East ally. – Reuters

Israelis continued protests Saturday for the 23rd week against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government to overhaul the judiciary in the country. – Associated Press

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank Friday, and the military said the man attacked a solider before he was shot. – Associated Press

Thousands of Arab Israelis protested Friday in the country’s north following the funerals of five people killed on Thursday in one of the deadliest single acts of violence in recent years, amid the worst crime waves to hit the minority over the past decade. – Agence France-Presse

Opposition leader and Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid began his testimony in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial before the Jerusalem District Court on Monday morning. – Jerusalem Post

Israel Police thwarted a cocaine smuggling ring based in South America and operating in central Israel, arresting several suspects in Tira, police said Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

A bot network, suspected of being run by Iran or another foreign entity, published the personal information of Israeli police officers while impersonating the organizers of the anti-judicial reform protest movement in an attempt to spark division in Israeli society, according to an investigation by the FakeReporter watchdog published on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

Ukraine has been unable to arrange a phone conversation between the country’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, Ukrainian officials told The Times of Israel on Sunday. – Times of Israel

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska is expected next week in Israel, where she will be hosted by her Israeli counterpart Michal Herzog. – Times of Israel

A woman attempted to stab Israeli troops with a box cutter before being apprehended and arrested at the scene in the flashpoint northern West Bank town of Huwara on Friday, Border Police said. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered that a meeting next week to advance the highly controversial E1 settlement project be postponed amid pressure from the Biden administration, two officials said. – Times of Israel

A Palestinian man was shot dead at a checkpoint in the West Bank early Friday morning after assaulting a soldier and attempting to snatch his weapon, the military said. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Rather than taking strolls on the Temple Mount or meddling in whether baked goods are served in prisons, Ben-Gvir should instead get a handle on this issue and take the bull by the horns: meet with security experts, police specialists, criminologists and Arab leaders – and focus all his efforts on curbing the violence and ultimately halting it. This is Ben-Gvir’s test. If he can’t step up to the plate, he should resign – or be dismissed. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: Rather than building a new organization—the National Guard—which Ben-Gvir has made a top priority, the country would be better served at this time by using those resources to bolster an institution already in place but in desperate need of funding and manpower: the police. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The recent incidents near Mount Dov and other tensions involving Lebanon are another example of where pro-Iranian groups such as Hezbollah may think they benefit from low-level tensions. This means that all these incidents may not be related, but that Tehran may wish to try to unify the incidents. Iran calls this the “unity” of the fronts, meaning it seeks to create multi-front threats against Israel. There is also a feedback loop. Iran may interpret a number of small incidents as being related and seek to benefit from them, without realizing that the incidents are not linked to Iran or its proxies and that they are not evidence of Israel’s security failures. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Israel’s air force is also much better outfitted in 2023 than probably any other time in nearly a decade to strike – if it needs to. Another two-and-a-half years will mean the delivery of some additional items, such as more midair refueling aircraft needed for an airstrike against Iran. So less for less is not what Israel wants, but it could buy another two-and-a-half years and it does not mean Jerusalem is out of options. – Jerusalem Post


The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a memorial service in northeast Afghanistan that killed at least 13 people and wounded 30 others. – Associated Press

The Taliban condemned on Sunday a “baseless and biased” report from the U.N. Security Council highlighting rifts within the group’s ranks. – Associated Press

Militants attacked a security checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan, triggering a shootout that left three soldiers and three militants dead, the army said Sunday. – Associated Press


A little white pill has given Syrian President Bashar Assad powerful leverage with his Arab neighbors, who have been willing to bring him out of pariah status in hopes he will stop the flow of highly addictive Captagon amphetamines out of Syria. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It is plausible that the discussions with Syria also focus on Iran’s continued role in Syria and also the shifting Russian position in Syria. Russia is the main backer of Damascus. Iran seeks to use the power vacuum in Syria to bring in its own influence, including moving militias to Syria and using Syria as a base for weapons such as drones and missiles. – Jerusalem Post

Zalman Shoval writes: While Syrian opposition and human rights groups protested the immoral nature of rehabilitating Assad’s bloody regime, realpolitik, cynical or not, prevailed. Similar to other matters in the Middle East, in the Syrian issue, too, America’s seeming gradual withdrawal from its previous political and security-related positions has highlighted the creation of new, geopolitical arrangements in the region. – Jerusalem Post


Iraq has agreed to pay about $2.76 billion in gas and electricity debt to Iran after receiving a sanctions waiver from the United States, a senior Iraqi foreign ministry official said. – Reuters

Iraq’s parliament belatedly approved a record $152 billion budget for 2023 on Monday, after months of wrangling over the sharing of oil revenue between the central government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region in the north. – Associated Press

Islamic State group militants attacked an Iraqi army position in the northern governorate of Kirkuk, killing two military officers and wounding three soldiers, Iraq’s security media office said in a statement Sunday. – Associated Press

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and his U.S. counterpart Secretary of State Antony Blinken have held talks while meeting in Riyadh during an international conference on combating terrorism, foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Al-Sahhaf said in a statement. – Bloomberg


Turkish security forces seized $1 billion of counterfeit money in Istanbul and arrested six people involved in the operation, including one Ghanian and three Swedish nationals, the governor’s office said on Friday. – Reuters

An explosion at a rocket and explosives plant in Turkey caused a building to collapse on Saturday, killing all five workers inside, an official said. – Associated Press

Italian special forces have regained control of a Turkish ship that had been attacked by armed stowaways off the southern city of Naples, Italy’s defense minister told state television on Friday. – Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed a former U.S.-based bank executive to head the central bank Friday, sending the strongest signal yet that the newly reelected leader might pivot from his unusual economic policies that many blame for worsening a cost-of-living crisis. – Associated Press

Euphoria in Turkish markets over the appointment of former Wall Street bankers to run the country’s finances is yet to resonate with international investors, who want to see if hype over a potential policy U-turn is real before they commit money. – Bloomberg

Andreas Kluth writes: If Erdogan and Orban don’t understand the military and geopolitical importance of Swedish accession to NATO, then the 29 other members should question the pair’s loyalty to the alliance. In time, that ambiguity could become a threat to the West as grave as Putin, but more insidious. Now is the chance for Orban and Erdogan to reflect on priorities — and then embrace Sweden with open arms. – Bloomberg

Shay Har-Zvi writes: Given these considerations, Israel should be careful while promoting cooperation in sensitive areas, especially in relation to arms deals. In addition and despite the economic temptations and the attractiveness of the Turkish option, Israel should refrain from promoting extensive cooperation with Turkey in the field of gas exports, at least for the time being, because the price of the mistake may be too expensive and lead to significant strategic and economic damages. – Jerusalem Post


Israeli soldiers fired tear gas to disperse scores of protesters who pelted the troops with stones along the border with Lebanon Friday, leaving some Lebanese demonstrators and troops suffering breathing problems. – Associated Press

Lebanon is considering further extending the deadline for a new offshore exploration round, with some potential bidders waiting for the outcome of drilling by a group led by TotalEnergies SE. – Bloomberg

Alexander Langlois writes: For this reason, Salameh can and should be made an example of Lebanon’s near-term future—namely, one that holds corrupt officials to account for crimes that plunder the country at the expense of the average Lebanese citizen. But Salameh cannot be the beginning and end of such efforts. World leaders can support such efforts if they give the Lebanon file a higher priority. This includes supporting the International Monetary Fund’s reform plan through a combination of carrots and sticks that entice Beirut’s leaders and empower the independent opposition. More important, although less realistic anytime soon, should be a broader effort to combat the international kleptocracy that has come to define the neoliberal order and bolstered corrupt actors across the globe. – The National Interest


Three British tourists were missing Sunday after a motor yacht caught fire in Egypt’s Red Sea, authorities said. – Agence France-Presse

The deadly infiltration last Saturday of an Egyptian border guard who killed three IDF soldiers inside Israel leaves many questions to be answered – both on the Israeli and Egyptian sides. – Jerusalem Post

IDF soldier intercepted a group of drug smugglers at the Israeli-Egyptian border and arrested two suspects on Friday, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. – Jerusalem Post

Three senior Israel Defense Forces officers traveled to Cairo on Sunday morning to meet with Egyptian army officials as part of an investigation into a deadly attack on the border earlier this month. – Times of Israel

Dalia Ziada writes: When Sisi called for a comprehensive dialogue last year, hopes were high that Egyptian political life would finally be revitalized out of the rut of autocracy that has been dragging it down for decades. Indeed, the idea of incremental reforms rather than revolution appeals to most citizens, politicians, and activists in Egypt today. However, the shape and format of the final product of the so-called “national dialogue” turned out to be disappointing. The mere fact that certain topics and individuals have been deliberately excluded makes it hard to believe that the dialogue could contribute any tangible solutions to Egypt’s chronic political dysfunctions. The fact that dialogue discussions have now been suspended only reiterates this point. – Washington Institute

Saudi Arabia

President Biden vowed during his quest for the White House to make the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a “pariah” over the killing and dismemberment of a dissident. He threatened the prince again last fall with “consequences” for defying American wishes on oil policy. – New York Times

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment has signed a $5.6 billion deal with Chinese electric car maker Human Horizons to collaborate on the development, manufacture and sale of vehicles, the Saudi state news agency said in a statement. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said on Sunday that the latest OPEC+ agreement involved comprehensive reform, but that the alliance was also working against “uncertainities and sentiment” within the market. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia wants to collaborate, not compete, with China, the kingdom’s energy minister declared on Sunday, saying he “ignored” Western suspicions over their growing ties. – Reuters

The PGA Tour and President Joe Biden have learned the same hard lesson in recent months: Saudi Arabia is too rich and consequential to shun. – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia on Sunday put to death three of its citizens convicted of having killed a security officer and creating a “terrorist cell,” Riyadh’s Interior Ministry said. – Agence France-Presse

Israeli-Saudi normalization has limited benefits without a two-state resolution, the country’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said, explaining that Riyad could support such a deal at the right time. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview aired Friday that an Israeli normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia would be “a quantum leap forward” and “would change history” if it could be achieved, while saying such a deal was one of his primary policy goals in his latest term in office. – Times of Israel

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisian President Kais Saied said on Saturday that Tunisia would not accept becoming a border guard for other countries ahead of a planned visit by European leaders concerned at the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. – Reuters

Clashes between suspected al-Qaida militants and Yemen’s pro-government forces in the country’s south killed three men Saturday, a military official and tribal leaders said. – Associated Press

European leaders pledged support for Tunisia in the latest bid to break the deadlock surrounding an International Monetary Fund rescue package, amid concerns that the North African nation’s deepening economic woes will spur more migration across the Mediterranean. – Bloomberg

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will make a state visit to China next week, Beijing said Friday, after China expressed readiness to help facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. – Agence France-Presse

The Center for Jewish Impact, led by Robert Singer, together with the Head of the Liaison Office of the Kingdom of Morocco to the State of Israel, H.E. Abderrahim Beyyoudh, will host a Diplomatic Salon event, “Sacred And Scarce: Enhancing Water Cooperation in the Mena Region, Highlights on the Morocco-Israel Partnership,” on Tuesday, June 13 at the offices of FISCHER FBC & Co, in Tel Aviv at 9:30 AM. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

It was the country’s biggest haul in five years of digital heists that have netted more than $3 billion for the North Koreans, according to the blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. That money is being used to fund about 50% of North Korea’s ballistic missile program, U.S. officials say, which has been developed in tandem with its nuclear weapons. – Wall Street Journal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to “hold hands” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and bolster strategic cooperation on their shared goal of building a powerful country, state media KCNA reported on Monday. – Reuters

South Korean police have arrested 77 people involved in 35 cases of suspected industrial espionage discovered during a recent nationwide investigation, Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday. – Reuters

A British man attempted to scale the world’s fifth tallest building without ropes on Monday until South Korean authorities forced him to abandon his climb more than half way up the 123-storey Lotte World Tower in Seoul. – Reuters

Before fleeing North Korea in 2014, Jeon Jae-hyun kept U.S. dollars as a store of value and used Chinese yuan to make everyday purchases at markets, restaurants and other places. He used the domestic currency, the won, only occasionally. – Associated Press

A Chinese official lodged a complaint with South Korea’s ambassador to China, in a tit-for-tat move after Beijing’s envoy to South Korea was summoned last week over his comments accusing Seoul of tilting toward the United States. – Associated Press


A Cuban base to collect communications across the southeastern U.S. would mark a major advance in China’s intelligence capabilities, giving Beijing’s military a clearer picture of sites to strike in a conflict, former intelligence officials say. – Wall Street Journal

For more than a decade, a Chinese state-bank executive named Dai Chunning served as a leading foot soldier in Beijing’s campaign to win influence in the developing world using the power of finance. – Wall Street Journal

Bit by bit, American tech giants are shutting out users in Hong Kong, where moves by authorities to thwart online dissent are shifting the target from individuals to platforms such as Google’s YouTube. – Wall Street Journal

A former deputy governor of China’s central bank, Fan Yifei, has been expelled from the Communist Party and removed from his post for serious violations of discipline and law, state media CCTV reported on Friday. – Reuters

China’s Commerce Ministry opposes new U.S. Iran-related sanctions on Chinese entities and nationals, and Washington should stop its unreasonable suppression of Chinese enterprises and individuals, a spokesperson said on Monday. – Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is planning to travel to China next week as the Biden administration pushes to improve ties that hit a new low in February after a Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down over U.S. airspace. – Associated Press

The US expanded a ban on imports from China’s Xinjiang region, placing two more companies on its so-called entity list, the first additions since a law targeting forced labor in the area took effect a year ago. – Bloomberg

The US and five major allies condemned economic coercion and non-market policies regarding trade and investment in a joint declaration that didn’t cite China by name but clearly had Beijing in mind. – Bloomberg

The nuclear arsenals of several countries, especially China, grew last year and other atomic powers continued to modernize theirs as geopolitical tensions rise, researchers said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: In other words, China is spending more than advertised, getting more weapons for the buck—and concentrating its forces on dominating the Western Pacific, while the U.S. juggles commitments in Europe and elsewhere. The Senate bill is a sensible step that deserves bipartisan support. A first step to confronting the military challenge posed by China is getting a clear picture of the actual threat. – Wall Street Journal

Fareed Zakaria writes: America’s strategic genius has always been to offer the world not a Pax Americana — designed simply to secure U.S. power and weaken its competitors — but rather a global system that was open, free and fair. “We all need a well-functioning and expanding global trading system and multilateral institutions that work,” Brown noted. Mahbubani recalled that President Bill Clinton often described the need for stronger global institutions by explaining that they would indeed constrain America but also constrain the new rising powers in the world. “We desperately need more of that enlightened self-interest from Washington these days,” Mahbubani said. – Washington Post

Bryan Frederick and Howard J. Shatz write: This direction would be the same that has given rise to the world’s — and China’s — remarkable growth and development, specifically, safeguarding an international rules-based system in which countries are free to set their own policies within those agreed-upon rules. – The Hill

Michael Rubin writes: First, Chinese assessments of the fight in Ukraine might color Beijing’s decisions with regard to Taiwan just as the Soviet/Syrian debacle in Lebanon gave President Ronald Reagan to roll back Soviet proxies in Grenada and elsewhere. Second, maintenance of American primacy would also require an end to business as usual in terms of military acquisition and budgeting, no matter how much Biden and both Congressional Democrats and Republicans might prefer the status quo. – 19FortyFive

South Asia

India, the world’s most populous country and home to the fastest-growing major economy, is now also the site of a war zone, as weeks of ethnic violence in the remote northeastern state of Manipur has claimed about 100 lives. – New York Times

India and the United Arab Emirates have mutually agreed to raise non-petroleum bilateral trade between the two countries to $100 billion by 2030, the South Asian nation’s trade minister said on Monday. – Reuters

China hopes that it and India will meet each other half way regarding an Indian journalist being asked to leave the country, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Monday at a regular press briefing. – Reuters

The Pakistani government on Monday welcomed the arrival of the first shipment of discounted crude from Russia under a key deal between Islamabad and Moscow. – Associated Press

Dan Hannan writes: This, in the end, is what is at stake in Pakistan. Democracy is one of the last things preventing that country from being drawn wholly into China’s orbit. If Pakistan carries on removing popular politicians, the cause of freedom will be set back worldwide. Good news for Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, terrible news for the rest of us. – Washington Examiner


Seeking to dominate the strategic waterways of Asia, China has deployed an armada of boats that are equipped with 76-millimeter cannons and anti-ship missiles, and are bigger than U.S. Navy destroyers. But they are not Chinese Navy vessels. Their hulls are painted white, with “China Coast Guard” in block letters on the sides. – New York Times

Taiwan Digital Minister Audrey Tang will make a rare high-level ministerial trip to Britain this week where she is expected to visit government departments and meet a company specialising in low-earth orbit satellites, her ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Monday he will visit China at the end of this month at the head of a trade delegation. – Reuters

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will not attend the annual economic forum in Russia’s St Petersburg next week, the government said on Friday, after refusing to toe the Kremlin’s line over the Russian invasion of Ukraine at last year’s event. – Reuters

Taiwan’s air force scrambled into action on Sunday after spotting 10 Chinese warplanes crossing the sensitive median line of the Taiwan Strait, as the island’s defence ministry said four Chinese warships also carried out combat patrols. – Reuters

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday said the self-ruled island would work to improve its rescue and defense capabilities with new technologies, adding that strengthening Taiwan is key to maintaining peace. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s military government has rescinded its approval for international organizations to distribute food, shelter and medicines to thousands of residents of cyclone-hit areas in the country’s west, a U.N. agency said Friday. – Associated Press

Japan approved a major revision to its development aid policy Friday to focus on maritime and economic security and its national interests while helping developing nations overcome compound challenges amid China’s growing global influence. – Associated Press

The head of New Zealand’s public radio station apologized Monday for publishing “pro-Kremlin garbage” on its website after more than a dozen wire stories on the Ukraine war were found to have been altered. – Associated Press

Taiwan is quickly approaching campaign season in the high-stakes election to replace its president, Tsai Ing-wen. The outcome will determine how the island’s government positions itself between Washington and Beijing as the two nuclear-armed powers are locked in an intense competition for global dominance, with Taiwan as a key flashpoint. – The Hill


French prosecutors on Saturday pressed preliminary charges of attempted murder against a man suspected of wounding six people including children in a knife attack at a park in the French Alps. The suspect, a 31-year-old Syrian man, was detained shortly after the assault. – Wall Street Journal

Boris Johnson, the former British prime minister and a key architect of Brexit, resigned as a member of Parliament on Friday evening after an investigation concluded that he misled lawmakers about boozy parties held at 10 Downing Street during covid lockdowns. – Washington Post

He is courted by American and European diplomats, applauded by a media machine dedicated to vilifying his critics and still has four years left in a presidential term secured last year with a landslide re-election victory. But President Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s strongman leader for more than a decade, never looked so lost as when he appeared this week in an official video on the vast rooftop terrace of his presidential offices to share a bowl of cherries with two lieutenants — and gripe about street protesters calling them rude names, including “abnormal lunatics, murderers and criminals.” – New York Times

As optimism that Sweden will soon be able to join NATO rises, the Swedish government says it will allow the alliance to base troops on its territory even before formally joining the group. – New York Times

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Iceland’s decision to suspend its embassy operations in Moscow “destroys” bilateral cooperation. – Reuters

A British judge has rejected the latest attempt by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to fight extradition to the United States to face spying charges. – Associated Press

In April, the U.S. and the U.K. included a handful of Cypriot nationals and Cyprus-registered companies on a list of “enablers” helping Russian oligarchs skirt sanctions. It was an unwelcome reminder of the lingering perception that the island nation somehow remains Moscow’s financial lackey. – Associated Press

A recently formed centrist group that advocates Montenegro joining the European Union was projected to win the small Balkan country’s early parliamentary election Sunday, but without enough support to form a government on its own, according to independent vote monitors. – Associated Press

Russia will begin moving tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus next month, President Vladimir Putin told his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko on Friday. – Bloomberg

European Union countries are still struggling to agree on new sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, as member states continue to haggle over just how tough enforcement should be. – Bloomberg

Kosovo’s prime minister defied calls from key allies in the US and Europe to dial back a confrontation with Serbia that’s led to the worst violence in a decade, insisting Belgrade make the first move. – Bloomberg

The airspace above Germany will swarm with military aircraft for almost two weeks starting Monday as NATO conducts the biggest air exercise in the alliance’s history, a display of force in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. – Bloomberg


A former lieutenant colonel convicted of inciting genocide in Rwanda in 1994 has died in Niger after an appeal for medical assistance in Britain went unanswered, his lawyer said on Saturday. – Reuters

The United States urged Nigerian authorities on Friday to investigate an air strike that Reuters reported killed dozens of cattle herders earlier this year and highlighted a pattern of deadly aerial assaults. – Reuters

South African prosecutors on Friday significantly increased the number of charges they are bringing against Rwandan ex-police officer Fulgence Kayishema, who is wanted internationally for suspected participation in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. – Reuters

Police in Somalia say nine people, including three soldiers, were killed in Friday night’s extremist attack on a beachside hotel in the capital, Mogadishu. – Associated Press

Nigeria’s central bank chief has been arrested hours after being suspended from office by the country’s new president, authorities said Saturday. – Associated Press

The United Nations World Food Program said Friday that it is temporarily suspending food aid to Ethiopia because its supplies are being diverted, an announcement that came a day after the United States Agency for International Development said it was doing the same. – Associated Press

At least 15 people were killed by extremist attacks in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province, a rights group said Friday. – Associated Press

Eleven U.N. peacekeepers stationed in Central African Republic have been accused of sexual exploitation and abuse, the United Nations said Friday. – Associated Press

Attackers killed one U.N. peacekeeper and seriously injured eight others Friday in Mali’s northern Timbuktu region, an area where extremists continue to operate, the United Nations said. – Associated Press

The death toll from clashes between displaced people inside a U.N. site in South Sudan has risen to more than 20, with more than 50 others wounded, the medical charity MSF said Friday. – Associated Press

China supports South Africa in hosting various BRICS activities this year, President Xi Jinping told his counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa Friday in a phone call, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. – Bloomberg

President Julius Maada Bio says many troubles afflicting Sierra Leone, from high inflation to unrest, originate from outside his nation. Facing a tight run for reelection later this month, he says he hopes an African peace mission can help solve one of those external pressures: the war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang is seeking to dismiss a US indictment against him, saying his detention in South Africa since December 2018 while awaiting extradition has denied him the right to a speedy trial. – Bloomberg

Romania is recalling its ambassador to Kenya after the diplomat allegedly made a comment equating Africans to monkeys at a meeting in Nairobi. – Politico

Latin America

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened an office in Venezuela, prosecutor Karim Khan said on Friday following a meeting with the country’s President Nicolas Maduro. – Reuters

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen starts a four-nation trip to Latin American on Monday to bolster political and trade ties that the European Union admits it has sometimes neglected. – Reuters

Honduras President Xiomara Castro formally requested the country’s admission to the BRICS-led New Development Bank (NDB) in a meeting with the bank’s president, Dilma Rousseff, Castro’s office said in a tweet late Friday. – Reuters

Venezuela’s state energy company Petroleos de Venezuela PDVSA (PDVSA.UL) has resumed operation at the catalytic cracking unit at the El Palito refinery, a government-allied legislator and seven sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday. – Reuters

When the U.S. embassy in Havana reopened last May to Cubans seeking visas after a nearly five-year hiatus, the once proud 1950s vintage building was in shambles. – Reuters

Honduras opened an embassy in Beijing on Sunday, Chinese state media reported, months after the Central American nation broke off relations with Taiwan to establish diplomatic ties with China. – Associated Press

A Guatemalan appeals court on Friday disobeyed a ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by ordering the release of three former high-ranking military officers convicted of crimes against humanity. – Associated Press

Migrant transit centers fiananced by the United States will be set up in Guatemala to receive applications from Central American citizens seeking to apply for work visas, family reunifications or refugee status, an official said Friday. – Associated Press

Colombia’s government agreed a cease-fire with the nation’s oldest guerrilla group, as the two sides meet in Cuba seeking a deal to end six decades of fighting. – Bloomberg

Arturo McFields writes: The presence of Iran does not bring anything positive for the peoples of Latin America or the U.S. These tours seek to empower dictators, promote shady deals, and engage in high-voltage geopolitics. […]Latin America must and can continue to be a zone of peace and prosperity. A strong and strategic foreign policy is urgently needed, which involves promoting greater trade ties with partners and holding dictators accountable for their crimes. It is never too late to start doing this effectively. – The Hill

Scott B. MacDonald writes: While Lula got his summit, asserted Brazil’s growing importance as part of the Global South, and brought in a political pariah from the cold, little is likely to come from it in terms of concrete policies. If nothing else, it comes across as so much background noise from a region that cannot yet exert major leverage on global affairs. Lula and his cadre of foreign policy advisors are right that for Latin America to carry more weight in international affairs it needs greater unity. However, more summits like May’s are not going to do the trick, as ideological indulgences for dictators do not make for economic integration. The European Union was able to proceed on the path to economic integration, but has worked hard to keep its membership a democratic club, something Brazil’s president should have given greater thought to. – The National Interest

Juan P. Villasmil writes: A more concrete and constructive project is to better assess who benefits from Venezuelan mining, how they benefit, and how these developments affect U.S. national security interests. As Westwin Elements’ Gregory Wischer observes, in our so-called backyard, “the U.S. government has largely been absent, ceding the playing field—or in this case, mineral deposits—to China.” This reality presents a more immediate threat to the United States than ecological catastrophe or foreign corruption. As such, it is time for us to shift the conversation in this direction. China understands it well— to lead the world, you must control its resources. It is a simple equation, have we forgotten it? – The National Interest

North America

Canada’s government on Saturday seized a giant Russian cargo plane that has been grounded in Toronto since February 2022 and plans to give the aircraft to Ukraine as compensation for Russia’s invasion. – Wall Street Journal

A special investigator named by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to probe alleged election interference by China on Friday said he would quit, citing widespread opposition to his appointment and work. – Reuters

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced C$500 million ($375 million) in new military assistance to Ukraine during a surprise visit to the war-torn country on Saturday. – Bloomberg

Canada will join a trade dispute initiated by the US over Mexico’s restrictions on genetically modified corn imports. – Bloomberg

United States

The case of U.S. v. Donald J. Trump will pit a Justice Department prosecution backed by meticulous detail against a defense expected to play down the significance of the criminal charges and point to the vast powers of the presidency. – Wall Street Journal

A federal judge on Friday unsealed a potentially landmark ruling that compelled former vice president Mike Pence to testify earlier this year before a grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. – Washington Post

Donald Trump is the first former president to be charged with a crime after leaving office. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami this week, less than three months after being charged with state level crimes in New York. But that doesn’t prevent him from continuing his campaign to return to the White House as president after the 2024 elections. Even a guilty verdict doesn’t disqualify someone from running for president, according to Anna G. Cominsky, a professor at New York Law School, or keep him from serving if he were elected. – Washington Post

The U.S. last week privately notified the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that it has decided to rejoin the agency nearly six years after the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing U.S. membership, a State Department spokesperson told Axios. – Axios

Editorial: It was once unthinkable in America that the government’s awesome power of prosecution would be turned on a political opponent. That seal has now been broken. It didn’t need to be. However cavalier he was with classified files, Mr. Trump did not accept a bribe or betray secrets to Russia. The FBI recovered the missing documents when it raided Mar-a-Lago, so presumably there are no more secret attack plans for Mr. Trump to show off. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: If anyone is guilty of turning the legal system into a political hand grenade, it has been the Republicans themselves. In the 2016 campaign, when questions were raised about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, Mr. Trump himself urged rally crowds to chant “lock her up.” This time, however, they’re the ones on the defense with regard to the possibly illegal handling of sensitive government information. – Washington Post

Alan M. Dershowitz writes: When an incumbent administration prosecutes the leading candidate against the president, it should have a case that is so compelling that it attracts the kind of bipartisan support that forced Nixon to resign. No such support is currently apparent, since many Republicans continue to be troubled by the targeting of Mr. Trump. Mr. Smith will have to convince not only a Miami jury but the American public, on both sides of the partisan divide. – Wall Street Journal

Jennifer Rubin writes: In the short term, Barr’s remarks might encourage other Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to reject Trump’s cries of persecution. Republicans’ awareness of Trump’s unfitness (or at least his unelectability) could then swell. If so, Barr would have done something — finally! — in defense of our democracy and the rule of law. – Washington Post

Colbert I. King writes: But the former commander in chief’s treatment of information critical to our nation’s security is as it should be: a preeminent U.S. concern. The Justice Department had to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding possible federal criminal violations and then make the unprecedented prosecutorial decision to indict a former chief executive of the United States. Trump, by virtue of his alleged deeds, left them no choice. – Washington Post


As the U.S. seeks to contain China’s progress in artificial intelligence through sanctions, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is choosing engagement. – Wall Street Journal

A viral hoax that briefly sent the stock market down last month apparently first gained traction on Twitter through a conspiracy-mongering, pro-Russian account. – Washington Post

The Department of Justice on Friday unsealed charges against two Russian nationals accused of participating in a 2011 hack of cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox. – The Hill

Julie Jargon writes: Being 16 doesn’t mean going fully free-range on social media, either; after all, we don’t put them on the road without driver’s ed and licenses. The American Psychological Association last month issued recommendations for adolescent social-media use that mirror what I’ve long been saying in my columns. That includes parents having ongoing conversations with their children about the content they see, and limiting kids’ social media during certain hours so it doesn’t interfere with their sleep and physical activity. – Wall Street Journal

Philip Hamburger writes: Doctrine that allows officials to impose censorship for years, until finally held to account in court, isn’t good enough. What’s needed is the constitutional clarity and accountability that stops officials from ever again beginning such a project. – Wall Street Journal

Jacinda Ardern writes: Together, we stand the best chance to create guardrails, governance structures and operating principles that act as the option of least regret. We don’t have to create a new model for AI governance. It already exists, and it works. – Washington Post

Daron Acemoglu and Simon Johnson write: We also need regulation that protects privacy and pushes back against surveillance capitalism, or the pervasive use of technology to monitor what we do — including whether we are in compliance with “acceptable” behavior, as defined by employers and how the police interpret the law, and which can now be assessed in real time by A.I. There is a real danger that A.I. will be used to manipulate our choices and distort lives. – New York Times

Faye Flam writes: There’s no doubt that many people today are badly informed, filled with outrage and deeply divided. To what extent this is a product of social media’s manipulative influence — and if it us, how to fix it — is something scientists might be able to help us understand. But only if Musk and other social media CEOs keep their data available. – Bloomberg

Parmy Olson writes: The data that Apple uses for targeted advertising is processed by the company and not shared with third parties — which is what Facebook does — but that personal information is still flying around an enormous internal ecosystem. And while the company has told me that three-quarters of its mobile users have personalized ads turned off, that still leaves hundreds of millions of others whose personal details are being used by Apple to show them ads in the App Store. And they are likely to see such advertisement more as the company’s ad business grows. – Bloomberg

Roman V. Yampolskiy writes: Moreover, the problem of controlling such more capable intelligences only becomes more challenging and more obviously impossible for agents with only a static level of intelligence. Currently, it appears that our ability to produce intelligent software far outstrips our ability to control or even verify it. Instead of asking “What can AI do for us?” we should be asking “What can AI do to us?” – The Hill

Caleb Withers writes: To be an effective regulator, the government will need to develop its expertise in understanding and stress-testing these cutting-edge models — along with an associated ecosystem of credible third-party evaluators and auditors — so that it can go toe-to-toe with these leading labs. Likewise, as Congress continues to grapple with the issues raised in last month’s hearing, it should maintain a similar level of bipartisanship and expert engagement, so it can swiftly get a coherent and effective regulatory framework in place for the most powerful and transformative AI systems. – The Hill

Tinglong Dai writes: Regulatory mechanisms may need to be established at the federal and state levels. Government, industry, and our research communities on college campuses need to collectively commit to collaboration, transparency and accountability at the highest levels and for the long term. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools may be far from putting us at risk of human extinction, but their risk is real and immediate. The future of our world and future generations is at stake. – The Hill


Struggling to overcome recruiting shortfalls, the Army and the Air Force have bolstered their marketing to entice legal residents to enlist, putting out pamphlets, working social media and broadening their outreach, particularly in inner cities. One key element is the use of recruiters with similar backgrounds to these potential recruits. – Associated Press

President Biden on Friday will announce executive actions intended to aid military spouses as he and first lady Jill Biden meet with service members at Fort Liberty in North Carolina, which is home to the largest military spouse population among U.S. military installations. – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: The House Armed Services Committee should act. It should summon the head of the Navy’s Sea Systems Command, Adm. William Galinis, Graney, Electric Boat’s Chief Supply Officer Beth Rafferty, and Virginia-class manager Larry Runkle to testify. They must answer as to why these delays have not been resolved and what they intend to do to address these failures. – Washington Examiner

Daniel Duffy writes: As historian Victor Davis Hanson and others have written, the freer nations are the more powerful their military. Authoritarian regimes don’t have the dynamism to build and adapt. The challenge for Congress and the next president will be to position him or herself as a reformer that can unshackle U.S. industry from the burden of onerous regulation. A nation of liberated innovators, visionaries, and entrepreneurs would put China to shame, full stop. – The National Interest

Long War

An appeals panel on Friday limited the authority of the judge presiding in hearings in the U.S.S. Cole bombing case while it considers an ethics challenge, the latest obstacle in the slow-moving path to trial in the longest-running war crimes prosecution at Guantánamo Bay. – New York Times

The Kurdish-led authority in northeast Syria announced Saturday that hundreds of fighters with the Islamic State group held in prisons around the region will be put on trial after their home countries refused to repatriate them. – Associated Press

Former military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot on Sunday revealed that the Israel Defense Forces was asked by a third party to carry out operational attacks against the Islamic State jihadist group in 2015. – Times of Israel