Fdd's overnight brief

June 12, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly articulated what he doesn’t want in Gaza: no Hamas, no Palestinian Authority and no permanent cease-fire until the hostages are all home.  – Wall Street Journal

Hamas submitted a response to a U.S.-backed cease-fire proposal in Gaza on Tuesday to officials in Qatar and Egypt, according to a statement from the group. The response asked for reassurances about an end to the war, according to an official with knowledge of the talks. – Washington Post

The Israeli military said Tuesday that four Israeli soldiers had been killed and several more wounded after militants blew up a building where the troops were operating in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. – New York Times

Hamas on Wednesday said its “positive” response to a U.S. ceasefire plan for the eight-month-old war in the Gaza Strip opened a “wide pathway” to reach an agreement, but the outlook was uncertain as neither the Palestinian group nor Israel publicly committed to a deal. – Reuters

A floating U.S. military pier off Gaza has resumed bringing humanitarian aid into the enclave after being suspended for two days because of rough seas due to weather, three U.S. officials said on Tuesday. – Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday named and shamed Israel’s armed and security forces, Palestinian militants Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Sudan’s warring parties for killing and maiming children in 2023, adding them to an annual global list of offenders for violations against children. – Reuters

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi urged Israel to abide by the United Nations Security Council resolution for a plan to end the war in Gaza. – Reuters

Sirens in Israel’s northern port city of Haifa on Tuesday were set off by one of Israel’s own interceptors not an incoming rocket, the military said, amid increased hostilities along the frontier with Lebanon. – Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his support for a cease-fire proposal during a meeting in Jerusalem, as the US tries to gain momentum for a plan to end the eight-month Israel-Hamas war. – Bloomberg

The last of the four of the hostages rescued by Israeli commandos from the Gaza Strip on Saturday was released from the hospital on Tuesday, following a battery of medical tests and psychological care after eight months in Hamas captivity. – Times of Israel

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday that President Joe Biden is of the opinion that Hamas cannot remain in power in Gaza following the war and has been explicitly clear about this despite claims to the contrary. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: We must not let the far right sacrifice the remaining hostages on the altar of its messianic ambitions. After the successful rescue, Israel must cooperate with the United States and advance a hostage deal in all earnestness. – Haaretz

Yossi Kuperwasser writes: This special session of Congress should be a historic opportunity to thank the United States and the American public for their support of the Jewish state, to detail Israel’s vision regarding relations with the Palestinians, to emphasize the Iranian threat, and finally, to refute the baseless accusations driving anti-Israel activity across America that also influence President Biden and some of his senior staff. – Jerusalem Post

David Makovsky writes: Going forward, U.S. officials are well aware of Israel’s current political minefield and prefer to avoid direct intervention that could explode into a full-scale bilateral crisis. Yet the potential policy implications of Gantz’s resignation—particularly the strengthening of far-right coalition members—will make it difficult for Washington to completely avoid making its views known on certain sensitive issues related to the war, especially with U.S. elections looming in November. Netanyahu will have to choose whether to side with Gallant and the security establishment or yield to Smotrich and Ben-Gvir. – Washington Institute

Shalom Lipner writes: This is precisely the wrong time for Netanyahu to be thinking about his political supporters—many of whom feel that he should stand up to the United States—instead of Israel’s national security. The situation in the Middle East is becoming more dangerous. Israelis are demanding a response to escalating Hezbollah aggression, and there are mounting concerns about hot spots including the West Bank, Yemen and, especially, Iran. To deal with these, Israel will need the United States’ help. If Netanyahu does not tread carefully, the total victory that Israel scores could be over itself. – Foreign Affairs

Iran

Two Texas men convicted by a U.S. jury in November of trying to sell Iranian petroleum in violation of sanctions imposed by Washington and of conspiracy to commit money laundering were sentenced on Tuesday to 45 months in prison, the Justice Department said. – Reuters

Former political prisoner Mehdi Mahmoudian has disclosed he is facing two charges, one regarding his comments about the Baha’i minority in Iran and the other for an infestation of bedbugs in Evin Prison in Tehran. – Iran International

Mehran Abbasian, a reporter for Iran International TV, has been moved to a secure location following threats to his life, after similar threats against the channel’s journalists in the UK beginning in 2022. The Swedish police have classified the threats as “serious and real,” underscoring the dangerous conditions faced by those critical of the Iranian government, at home and abroad. – Iran International

Iran says Iraq has rejected US request to extradite Mohammadreza Nouri, a Revolutionary Guard officer who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an American in Iraq. – Iran International

The economic landscape for workers in Tehran is marked by severe hardship, with annual inflation hovering above 40% for five years while wages have only risen marginally. – Iran International

Russia & Ukraine

Now, Hotel Ukraine is up for auction as part of an effort to sell off some large state assets to help fund the military and bolster an economy battered by a grueling war that has drained the country’s coffers. The starting price for Hotel Ukraine is $25 million. – New York Times

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday appealed for short-term help in repairing his country’s electricity network and long-term investment in its energy system at a conference to gather support for Ukraine’s recovery from the destruction wreaked by Russia’s war. – Associated Press

Russia launched a missile and drone attack on Kyiv early on Wednesday with preliminary information showing there were no injuries or damage in the Ukrainian capital, Ukrainian military said. – Reuters

Russia’s non-strategic nuclear exercises involving the Leningrad military district and the navy make use of Iskander missiles, its defence ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A U.S. review found no evidence of human rights violations by Ukraine’s Azov Brigade, paving the way for it to use American training and weapons, the State Department said on Tuesday, citing Russian disinformation aimed at discrediting the unit. – Reuters

Ukraine and its allies drummed up support to protect Ukrainian cities from Russian missiles at a conference in Berlin on Tuesday and urged international businesses to put their faith, and billions of dollars, into post-war reconstruction. – Reuters

Ukraine’s army has struck missile launch positions in Russia, helping to reduce the number of attacks on the embattled city of Kharkiv, its mayor told Reuters on Tuesday. – Reuters

Germany will deliver several thousands strike drones and 100 additional Patriot guided-missiles to Ukraine as part of the latest military aid package for the war-battered country. – Bloomberg

Group of Seven leaders will announce moves to deliver fresh aid to Ukraine based on the value of frozen Russian financial assets this week, the US says. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden’s administration is widening sanctions on the sale of semiconductor chips and other goods to Russia, targeting third-party sellers in China and elsewhere as it looks to further choke off Vladimir Putin’s war machine in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Dan Altman writes: The goal for those who support Ukraine should be twofold: to bring about that cease-fire as quickly as possible with as much territory as possible on Ukraine’s side of the line. Achieving this outcome requires changing Russian expectations about the West’s staying power. Ukraine can win only when Russian leaders worry about how the war will progress in the coming years. The West must invest to produce enough weapons and munitions to sow that fear in Moscow. – Foreign Affairs

Keith Johnson writes: The biggest advantage of replacing hulking, centralized power plants with a lot of smaller, widely scattered sources of power is that they are a lot harder to blow up with scarce Russian missiles. “If you have sources of microgeneration, and lots of them, then Russia will not have enough missiles to hit all of them, even if they knew where they were,” Prokip said. “So distributed generation is the right way to go, but the government didn’t take enough steps to do this when it could.” – Foreign Policy

Hezbollah

The booms of intercepted rockets and drones regularly shake the air. Plumes of smoke rise from hillside explosions as firefighters race to keep blazes from engulfing residential neighborhoods. The pace of Hezbollah and Israeli strikes has grown from daily to almost hourly, according to the civilians, local officials and soldiers who remain in the area. – Washington Post

Lebanon’s Hezbollah fired big barrages of rockets at Israel on Wednesday in retaliation for an Israeli strike which killed a senior Hezbollah field commander, sharply escalating tensions in the conflict across the Lebanese-Israeli border. – Reuters

The recent demonstration of Hezbollah’s capabilities, which have intensified in recent weeks, still represents only a small fraction of the Iran-backed terror group’s aerial arsenal which the IDF believes to include an array of precision munitions supplied mainly by Iran over the past decade, or weapons that have undergone upgrade and modifications based on lessons learned in the conflict. – Ynet

Ali Hashem writes: Netanyahu may push the situation to the brink to increase pressure on Hezbollah both domestically and internationally. However, Hezbollah has been countering Israeli escalation with reciprocal measures, aiming to establish its deterrence. It is clear that, for now, the threat of war remains a strategic maneuver rather than an imminent reality. – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

Shares in shipping and logistics providers came under heavy selling pressure Tuesday as investors digested news of a possible cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which could see containerships return to the Red Sea and send freight rates lower. – Wall Street Journal

Nearly 30 asylum seekers are stuck in the United Nations-controlled buffer zone between the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus and the internationally recognized south amid a crackdown by the Cypriot authorities on undocumented migration following a steep uptick in Syrians arriving from Lebanon. – New York Times

Violent riots erupted in a drought-stricken Algerian desert city last weekend after months of water shortages left taps running dry and forced residents to queue to access water for their households. – Associated Press

Iraqi security forces have killed a senior member of the Islamic State group in Syria who was responsible for carrying out attacks against Iraqi government forces, the Iraqi National Security Service said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin, quoted by Russian news agencies, said on Tuesday he hoped to meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan next month at a regional meeting in Kazakhstan. – Reuters

At least 49 migrants died and 140 others were missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen, the U.N. migration agency said on Tuesday. – Reuters

One is a desert kingdom weaning itself off fossil fuels. The other a lush agricultural powerhouse laden with minerals. Saudi Arabia and Brazil are thousands of miles apart, but fate is bringing them closer than ever. – Bloomberg

Michael Robbins, Amaney A. Jamal, and Mark Tessler write: The dangers of failing to address declining Arab support for the United States go beyond Gaza. Without a significant shift in U.S. support for Israel’s war, and without smart changes to U.S. policy to blunt growing Arab anti-Americanism in the longer term, other actors—including China—will continue to try to crowd the United States out of a leadership role in the Middle East. – Foreign Affairs

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hailed the country’s expanding relationship with Russia on Wednesday, as reports suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin will soon visit the country for his third meeting with Kim. – Associated Press

South Korea’s main opposition leader was indicted on Wednesday on bribery charges in an alleged scheme to use an underwear maker to transfer funds to North Korea and facilitate a visit to Pyongyang when he was a provincial governor, news reports said. – Reuters

South Korean AI chip developers Rebellions Inc and Sapeon Korea Inc are pursuing a merger, Sapeon parent SK Telecom Co (017670.KS), said on Wednesday, in the latest attempt in South Korea to challenge global AI chip leader Nvidia (NVDA.O), as a boom in artificial intelligence continues. – Reuters

South Korea was rocked by one of its strongest earthquake in years when a magnitude 4.8 temblor hit a southwestern region Wednesday, shaking buildings in Seoul some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north. – Bloomberg

China

Four instructors affiliated with an American college were stabbed on Monday in northeastern China, where they were teaching as part of a partnership program with a local university, in an incident that drew concern in the U.S. amid soured bilateral ties. – Wall Street Journal

The Chinese government said Wednesday that a Chinese man who sailed a small boat into a strategic river mouth in Taiwan was acting on his own and would be punished after his return to China. – Associated Press

China’s securities regulator said on Wednesday that it welcomes foreign financial institutions and investors, including those from the Middle East, to expand investment in China. – Reuters

The European Commission is to notify carmakers on Wednesday that it will provisionally apply additional duties of up to 25 per cent on imported Chinese EVs from next month, according to people familiar with the decision. – Financial Times

Karishma Vaswani writes: While a blockade would be enforced by the People’s Liberation Army, and viewed by the global community as a military operation, a lower -profile “quarantine” would involve China’s coast guard and, in theory, would not prompt the kind of response that the US and its allies might take in an outright invasion. That’s a possibility that President Joe Biden has openly discussed before, and that US army officials are wargaming out. – Bloomberg

Joseph Bosco writes: To put U.S.-China relations on a sounder footing, the U.S. has a lot of clarifying to do with Beijing — and doing it, as Wang said, “consistent with the climate of the times.” Taiwan is now a vibrant, full-fledged democracy where the people rule, and they repeatedly choose freedom over tyranny. America must help defend that freedom. – The Hill

South Asia

The terrifying stories are sprawled across local newspapers and recounted in hushed tones at tea stalls and bus stands: another day, another brutal death during an armed robbery in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. – New York Times

The World Bank said Tuesday it has approved $1 billion for the construction of Pakistan’s biggest Dasu hydropower project, which is being built in the country’s northwest with China’s help. – Associated Press

Myanmar’s military has been emptying villages on the outskirts of the capital of the western state of Rakhine as part of an evident effort to defend against expected attacks by a powerful rebel group that has captured most of the surrounding area, according to residents, a local activist group and media reports on Tuesday. – Associated Press

Pakistani security forces raided a militant hideout, killing 11 in an overnight operation in a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban in the restive northwest, authorities said on Tuesday. – Associated Press

India will focus on finding solutions to the border issues with China that has long strained ties between the neighbouring countries, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Tuesday after assuming charge for a second straight term. – Reuters

Canada and India have increased their security exchanges in recent months over the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, including visits to India by senior Canadian officials to share a robust set of evidence on the case, according to people with knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg

The de facto leader of Al Qaeda, Sayf Al-Adl, is calling on jihadists across the globe to travel to Afghanistan, marking an effort to re-establish the country as a safe haven for the terrorist group. – New York Sun

Mukul Kesavan writes: It was this slavishness, made up in equal parts of fear and fascination, that led to the spectacle of four exit polls commissioned by four separate television channels getting the election wrong in the same way. All of them suggested that the BJP-led coalition would get close to, or exceed, the 400 parliamentary seats that Modi had targeted during his election campaign. – Foreign Policy

Asia

The waves that crashed through doors and windows of buildings on the island of Roi-Namur on the night of Jan. 20 aren’t what you want inundating one of the most sensitive military facilities on the planet. – Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said on Wednesday it would use powers in a new national security law against six self-exiled activists residing in Britain, including cancelling their passports, after they fled the China-ruled city. – Reuters

Thailand’s Constitutional Court said on Wednesday that it will hear a case on June 18 that could lead to the dismissal of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin related to a cabinet appointment that is alleged to have violated the constitution. – Reuters

Vietnamese President To Lam on Tuesday told Chinese ambassador to Hanoi Xiong Bo it was important that maritime disputes were managed well and each country’s interests were respected, his office said in a statement. – Reuters

Australia is realistic about the challenges in its diplomatic relationship with Beijing, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said, as the country prepares for the first visit by a Chinese premier in more than seven years. – Bloomberg

Hong Kong canceled the passports of six UK-based activists including former lawmaker Nathan Law, in an unprecedented move as city officials continue their crackdown on dissent. – Bloomberg

Turkey will build three vessels for the Royal Malaysian Navy under the latter’s Littoral Mission Ship Batch 2 Project as part of a deal signed by the two nations. This marks the first time Malaysia has signed a government-to-government agreement to procure defense equipment. – Defense News

Europe

Investors made clear on Tuesday the depth of their concerns over President Emmanuel Macron’s gamble to call for new elections in France, driving up the nation’s borrowing costs, pushing down stock prices and prompting the Moody’s ratings agency to warn it may downgrade French sovereign debt as risks of political instability rise. – New York Times

Empowered by a stunning triumph at the European elections, France’s far-right National Rally on Tuesday hit the national campaign trail with its star leader, Jordan Bardella, promising supporters “the largest possible majority” at the upcoming parliamentary vote. – Associated Press

A Dutch court is delivering verdicts Wednesday in the trial of nine men suspected of involvement in the assassination three years ago of popular campaigning journalist Peter R. de Vries on a busy Amsterdam street. – Associated Press

The four parties negotiating to form a coalition government in the Netherlands have reached agreement on a new team of Cabinet ministers, far-right leader Geert Wilders said Tuesday. It’s another key step toward forming the first Dutch government led by a far-right party. – Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden will work with the democratically elected leaders of France, no matter who they are, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Budget infighting within Germany’s governing coalition is jeopardising its plan to meet defence commitments to Western allies even as tensions with Russia rise and a NATO-sceptic Donald Trump bids for a second term as U.S. president. – Reuters

A Berlin court on Tuesday rejected an urgent request by a number of Palestinian Gaza residents to stop the government approving permits for the export of German weapons to Israel on grounds that they might be used in violation of humanitarian law. – Reuters

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg left open the possibility for Hungary to opt out of an aid package for Ukraine after Budapest signaled it would abstain from deepening support for Kyiv. – Bloomberg

Dominic Green writes: Her protégé in the European Parliament, Jordan Bardella, sounds like a Gaullist in a hurry and looks like a social-media influencer. If National Rally becomes a significant presence in the French Parliament, it would smooth Ms. Le Pen’s path in the country’s 2027 presidential elections. If she were to win, that would be the biggest Jimmie moment yet. – Wall Street Journal

Vladimir Krulj writes: Or rather, if the willingness to do so exists. Otherwise, I’m afraid that these mercenaries in politics, or useful idiots if you prefer, will just keep going on, undeterred. To be honest, they have been nothing but useful so far. Regrettably, not for EU citizens, but only for those doing their best to crush European values and institutions. – Jerusalem Post

Africa

Malawian Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others were declared dead Tuesday after their plane went missing during tumultuous weather a day earlier. – Washington Post

Nigeria is facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with skyrocketing inflation, a national currency in free-fall and millions of people struggling to buy food. Only two years ago Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria is projected to drop to fourth place this year. – New York Times

South Africa’s third biggest political party, led by former president Jacob Zuma, has filed legal papers seeking to halt the first sitting of Parliament scheduled for Friday to elect the country’s president. – Associated Press

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is urgently investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur city of al-Fashir which has become a new front between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). – Reuters

Nontobeko Hlela writes: In 2025, South Africa will be hosting the G-20 and assume its presidency [….] something that will require stabilizing relations with Britain and the United States, its traditional trading partners, as well as sustaining relations with China and Russia. Unless the ANC finds itself in a situation in which it must depend on the DA or the EFF and MK—separately or together—in order to govern, it will seek to sustain its nonaligned balancing act. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

Haiti’s administration picked new ministers on Tuesday, rounding out the new prime minister’s cabinet, in a stark departure from the previous government as the country battles a deep humanitarian crisis fueled by armed gangs. – Reuters

Thousands of residents deserted the small Mexican town of Tila, fleeing an intensive three-day siege by heavily armed men and leaving it a ghost town, and are still too afraid to return despite government troops now patrolling the empty streets. – Reuters

Argentine President Javier Milei will participate in the Ukraine peace summit to be held in Switzerland over the weekend, a spokesperson for the leader said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Mexico’s President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum spoke on Tuesday with U.S. officials about her strategies for security, migration and trade, just over a week after the leftist leader won a landslide election victory. – Reuters

Russian warships conducted drills in the Atlantic, the military said Tuesday, as they were heading to visit Cuba, part of Moscow’s efforts to project power amid the tensions with the West over Ukraine. – Associated Press

The Mexican peso continued to weaken Tuesday as Mexico’s outgoing president — and his successor — vowed to forge ahead with some 20 constitutional changes that have rattled investors. – Associated Press

United States

President Biden has been a coalition-builder on the world stage. But as he seeks re-election, he is facing the re-emergence of the far right—and the specter of the strongman—both at home and abroad. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden has approved the deployment of another Patriot missile system to Ukraine, senior administration and military officials said, as the country struggles to fend off Russian attacks on its cities, infrastructure and electrical grid. – New York Times

Patagonia, the outdoor apparel brand with offices across the world, granted tens of thousands of dollars to a group connected to Palestinian terrorism. Now the company says it has launched an internal review into the funding. – Washington Examiner

The American State Department announced that the United States will provide an additional $404 million in “lifesaving humanitarian aid to support Palestinian civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, and the region, bringing the total U.S. assistance to more than $674 million over the past eight months.” – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: Enough. It’s past time for Mr. Biden to finally take full personal responsibility for the consequences of his destructive behavior. He was clearly guilty of the three crimes a jury of his peers convicted him of. He needs to think less about his own interests and more about what’s best for his father’s reelection hopes — and the country. – Washington Post

Bret Stephens writes: It all leaves the president with one option that can be a win for America and, ultimately, his place in history. He can still choose not to run, to cede the field to a Democrat who can win — paging Josh Shapiro or Gretchen Whitmer — and do the hard and brave things it will take to secure security and peace for the free world. There’s still time, if only just. It would be a courageous, honorable and transformative legacy. – New York Times

Cybersecurity

Mistral, a French artificial intelligence start-up, said on Tuesday that it had raised 600 million euros, or about $640 million, from investors, a sign of robust interest in a company seen as Europe’s most promising rival to OpenAI and other Silicon Valley A.I. developers. – New York Times

The U.S. and Poland signed an agreement this week to strengthen their cooperation against “foreign information manipulation.” – The Record

USAID Administrator Samantha Power met this week with OpenAI’s head of global affairs, according to an agency press release, a move that comes as the international development organization continues to invest in artificial intelligence while also raising concerns about the technology’s privacy, security, bias, and risks. – FedScoop

Defense

The White House on Tuesday released a statement taking aim at several measures in the House’s fiscal 2025 defense policy bill ahead of votes scheduled for later this week. – Defense News

As the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Pacific face down an increasingly aggressive China, a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate aims to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and key countries in the region in order to better protect supply lines and ensure sustained operations, should a conflict occur. – Defense News

Anduril Industries announced today it received a $19 million contract to “design, build and test second stage rocket motors” for use in the Navy’s Standard Missile-6, a key win for the company’s relatively new efforts in the market. – Breaking Defense

You can count White House leaders among those opposed to lawmakers’ proposal to establish a Drone Corps as a basic branch of the Army. – DefenseScoop

Jerry McGinn writes: As with that role, the important outcome is that international defense cooperation will have a single focal point at the right level that can speak for the Department to Congress and allies and partners but making it an ASD instead of a USD would keep the office from growing too bloated, too quickly, and give it a better chance of matching what is needed. Whatever the outcome, it is time for action on this critical issue, particularly given its impact on domestic and global industrial base capacity to address today’s national security issues. – Breaking Defense