Fdd's overnight brief

June 14, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran and the United States have made progress on virtually every issue under discussion in indirect meetings over the past two months. But as they began a sixth round of talks Saturday, the Biden administration remained unsure whether they are any closer to final agreement than they were at the beginning. – Washington Post

Using bank funds freed from American sanctions, Iran has paid $16.2 million in delinquent dues owed to the United Nations, diplomats said Friday, a step that restored Iran’s suspended voting rights at the world body. – New York Times

Iranians this week are preparing to vote in — or perhaps to boycott — a presidential election that many fear will only underscore their powerlessness to shape the country’s fate. – Associated Press

Diplomats from outside the European Union cautioned Sunday that negotiations with Iran to salvage a landmark nuclear deal still need more time, as leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations reaffirmed a commitment to stop the Islamic republic from building nuclear weapons. – Associated Press

Iran on Saturday lashed out at recently retired Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, after the former spymaster gave a television interview detailing the Israeli intelligence agency’s activity against Iran. – Associated Press

Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna on Saturday as the European Union said negotiations were “intense” and Germany called for rapid progress. – Reuters

Iran does not expect Israeli foreign and security policy to change under its new government, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday, according to ISNA news agency, a day after Israel’s parliament ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year run as prime minister. – Reuters

Official polls suggest record low participation, a prospect critics of the government ascribe to economic hardship and to a lack of choice at the ballot box for an overwhelmingly young population chafing at political restrictions. – Reuters

The former speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani demanded on Saturday an explanation from an election watchdog on why he was barred from running in next week’s presidential vote. – Reuters

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged all sides to show flexibility and pragmatism in talks about the Iranian nuclear deal which are due to resume later on Saturday afternoon. – Reuters

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in an interview that aired on Sunday that his agency was “flying blind” due to not having a deal in place with Iran. – The Hill

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) introduced on Friday the Iran Nuclear Treaty Act seeking to place “a proper constitutional check” on the nuclear agreement with Iran. Johnson was joined by 22 Senate Republicans who joined as co-sponsors. – Jerusalem Post

Israel is concerned by reports that Russia will provide Iran with a modern satellite for intelligence and collection purposes, Kan 11 News reported on Friday. – Arutz Sheva

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is claiming that the highest-ranking Iranian intelligence official in charge of countering Israeli spies in Iran was himself an agent of Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Iran’s reformist candidate Abdolnasser Hemmati warned Saturday that a win for his ultraconservative rivals in the June 18 presidential election would result in the country facing more sanctions. – Agence France-Presse

China told the U.S. to stop “shilly-shallying” in talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal and move “decisively” to complete the thorough removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, according to a tweet by its embassy in Vienna. – Bloomberg

The Iranian and Russian negotiators meeting in Vienna with global powers played down the hopes for a quick settlement in the talks to revive the 2015 landmark deal that curtailed Tehran’s nuclear programs. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


The death toll from an artillery strike on a hospital in northern Syria has risen to at least 15, medical officials said Sunday. The shelling, a day earlier, caused widespread destruction and knocked out the hospital’s maternity ward and surgery unit. – Associated Press

Turkey’s military hit targets in the northern Syrian town of Tel Rifat in response to artillery attacks that killed 14 people and wounded several others in nearby Afrin, state-run Anadolu agency said on Sunday. – Reuters

Aaron Y. Zelin writes: All of these developments are highly relevant to renewed Western policy debates regarding potential engagement with HTS. If Washington or other Western governments opt for reaching out to the group, they must do so with eyes wide open to the implications of that decision. Not only would they be letting HTS off the hook for its terrorist transgressions and extremist activity, they would also be empowering a group that is deeply unpopular among pro-democracy activists and other local elements – Washington Institute

Aaron Y. Zelin writes: As for U.S. policy implications, although Washington is no ally of HTS, it should realize that Russian strikes against the group are yet another way for Putin to assert that he is the one who controls Syria’s future. Hence, continuing the meek approach that has characterized U.S. policy in Syria since Russia’s 2015 intervention will only welcome more such muscle flexing, whether in Idlib, during the Geneva meetings, or in advance of other key diplomatic decisions. – Washington Institute


For the last four years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brazenly crushed his opponents at home and cozied up to Moscow, while showering his allies with sweetheart government contracts and deploying troops regionally wherever he saw fit. – New York Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the high road at a Sunday news conference as he left home for a meeting with President Biden at the NATO summit in Brussels, dismissing “rumors” about the state of the U.S.-Turkey relationship and suggesting that they “leave all these behind and speak about what we can do together.” – Washington Post

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey would be the “only reliable” country left to stabilise Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops, indicating Washington could rely on its NATO ally. – Agence France-Presse

Turkey appears to be trying to create a pretense to launch new attacks against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria on the eve of a private meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Joe Biden in Brussels on June 14. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Biden could back NATO with unilateral American measures. His administration has already indicated it may extend sanctions on Turkey’s defense industry and will uphold the country’s suspension from the F-35 fighter program. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said even tougher penalties would be considered. This would be welcomed by Congress, where a bipartisan consensus on punishing Turkey had been frustrated by Trump’s tendency to cut Erdogan ever more slack. – Bloomberg


Mr. Bennett of the right-wing Yamina party took over as prime minister Sunday after his new, wide-ranging coalition was backed by 60 lawmakers in the 120-member Knesset, ending months of stalemate. Fifty-nine lawmakers voted against his coalition and one abstained. – Wall Street Journal

Mr. Bennett, head of the right-wing Yamina party, is partnering with Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, and six other parties spanning the political spectrum, including an independent Arab party for the first time. – Wall Street Journal

Mr. Netanyahu, who now is expected to lead the opposition, plans to press the new governing coalition, which includes eight parties ranging from an Arab group to conservative forces, on sensitive policy issues such as settlement construction and empowering the country’s Arabs. – Wall Street Journal

World leaders congratulate Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid  on forming a new government after being sworn in on Sunday evening. – Jerusalem Post

Benjamin Netanyahu compared US President Joe Biden administration’s planned return to the Iran deal to US neglect of European Jews during the Holocaust, in his final speech as prime minister on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid and  US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had a discussion on Monday about the importance of maintaining a ceasefire in Gaza, according to the US State Department spokesman Ned Price. – Jerusalem Post

As the new government was being sworn in in Israel, Hamas announced that its new prime minister assumed office in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett indicated that he plans to continue former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies vis-à-vis Iran, in his address to the Knesset ahead of the vote to approve a new government under his leadership. – Jerusalem Post

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, held a meeting last Friday with leaders of US Jewish organizations with the aim of formulating a plan to combat antisemitism within the UN and beyond. – Jerusalem Post

Hamas denounced US Rep. Ilhan Omar in a press release on Friday for equating the “Palestinian Resistance” to the “crimes of Israel and the US invasion of Afghanistan.” – Jerusalem Post

In his apparently final speech as prime minister of Israel before a new government is sworn in Sunday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed his fury on prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett and vowed to work tirelessly to topple the new coalition. – Times of Israel

Zev Chafets writes: Of course, Bush also declared war on Iraq and Afghanistan. Bennett, who served as an officer in an elite combat unit, is no dove. If Israel is attacked again by Hamas, he will respond harshly. National security is the one issue for which he will have the broad support of his coalition as well as the Likud opposition. – Bloomberg

Tamar Beeri writes: The new government has members of the Right, Center and Left. To many, it represents the impossible: a people unifying despite so many differences under a government that always has someone looking out for the little guy, whoever that may be. That is a huge accomplishment. Now, the government needs to finish the job and make sure that women are represented in government as they are in society. – Jerusalem Post

Mark Goldfeder writes: It is letters like this that have kept the peace process from ever moving forward. Instead of lowering our standards, the U.S. should keep its long-standing congressional commitments, which require Palestinian leaders to do better and hold them accountable when they don’t. – Washington Examiner


First established seven years ago to fight ISIS, the PMF has morphed into a huge organization. On Saturday, they showcased some of their new “air force,” which consists of Iranian-designed drones and UAVs of the type that have been used increasingly in attacks on US forces in Iraq. – Jerusalem Post

Seven years ago members of ISIS kidnapped more than 1,700 unarmed young cadets who had been training in Iraq and executed them. The Speicher Massacre as it became known was one of the first examples of the genocidal brutality of ISIS. Nothing on this scale had been done before, with such Nazi-like systematic murder, by a terrorist group and it illustrated how ISIS was not like Al Qaeda or groups that came before. – Jerusalem Post

Iraqi authorities said on Sunday that the remains of 123 people killed by Islamic State jihadists had been removed from a mass grave in a bid to identify them. – Agence France-Presse

Arabian Peninsula

The Biden administration is pressing the United Arab Emirates to remove Huawei Technologies Co. from its telecommunications network and take other steps to distance itself from China, raising the risk that the country’s purchase of some $23 billion in F-35 jets and drones may be at stake, people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg

The United Arab Emirates was elected to the United Nations Security Council on Friday, an important achievement for the Gulf country that has peaceful relations with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia said Sunday a bomb-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels crash-landed in the premises of a school in the province of Asir near the kingdom’s southern border. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

A moderate Islamist party claimed victory Sunday in Algeria’s legislative election even though results were not expected for several more days. – Associated Press

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to discuss regional issues on Friday in Sharm El Sheikh, Ynet news reported. – Jerusalem Post

Lebanon’s currency crashed past a milestone on Sunday reaching a new low against the dollar, as the country’s financial meltdown and political deadlock linger. – Reuters

The prosecutor of Jordan’s state security court on Sunday filed sedition and incitement charges against two confidants of King Abdullah II’s half-brother Hamzah, marking the latest step in a rare, intrigue-filled palace drama that has rattled the Western-backed kingdom. – Associated Press

David Ignatius writes: King Abdullah’s advisers expect him to arrive in the United States in late June. His visit to the White House will illustrate once again a truth about members of the Hashemite dynasty: Amid the endless turmoil of Middle East politics, they are survivors. – Washington Post

Korean Peninsula

But last month, the Biden administration removed the final limits on Seoul’s missile program, abolishing what had been a roughly 500-mile cap on South Korea’s ballistic-missile range. It is a key change: Seoul’s missiles, in theory, can now fly far enough to strike Beijing, Moscow or anywhere else. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-Yong reaffirmed a commitment between their countries and Japan to work closely toward the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the State Department said. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un chaired a Central Military Commission meeting, state media KCNA said on Saturday, where he called for boosting military power, but KCNA did not have details of any military activities planned. – Reuters


Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies called on China to respect human rights but stopped short of an outright condemnation of Beijing, as President Biden sought to build momentum for an international coalition to counter Chinese influence in the world. – Wall Street Journal

China’s leaders worry that the country’s tech giants could be using their extensive personal and corporate digital records to build alternative power centers in the one-party state. That concern led Mr. Xi to halt a planned initial public offering by Jack Ma’s financial-technology behemoth Ant Group Co. late last year. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden and fellow Western leaders issued a confrontational declaration about Russian and Chinese government behavior on Sunday, castigating Beijing over its internal repression, vowing to investigate the pandemic’s origins, and excoriating Moscow for using nerve agents and cyberweapons. – New York Times

NATO leaders are expected on Monday to brand China as a security risk to the Western alliance for the first time, a day after the Group of Seven issued a statement on human rights and Taiwan that Beijing said slandered its reputation. – Reuters

China denounced on Monday a joint statement by the Group of Seven leaders that had scolded Beijing over a range of issues as a gross interference in the country’s internal affairs, and urged the grouping to stop slandering China. – Reuters

The G-7 nations on Sunday called for a “timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened” investigation into the origins of Covid-19, including in China. – Politico

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday warned that the European Union will only ratify its investment agreement with China if Beijing makes progress on labor rights. – Politico

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the Western alliance must respond to China’s economic, political and military rise and that a final NATO summit statement will cement a new strategy towards Beijing. – Reuters

The US trained almost 2,500 Chinese scientists and helped open dozens of laboratories across the country, a collaboration that proved instrumental in improving the efficacy of the seasonal flu vaccine up from 10 per cent to more than 50 per cent. Now, scientists are worried that collaborations of this kind are under threat, imperilled by mutual suspicions between the two governments, which have been exacerbated by the recent row over whether Covid-19 could have come from a lab leak in Wuhan. – Financial Times

China’s growing military and economic presence in the Atlantic region is expected to trigger a rare warning from Nato leaders about the potential security threat when they meet on Monday, diplomats said. – Financial Times

Rebecca Arcesati writes: It is critical to promote synergies between U.S. initiatives and the EU’s digital connectivity agenda, which will soon feature a fund and a stronger focus on international partnerships. […]But beside funding more secure telecom infrastructure to discourage countries from using Huawei’s gear, transatlantic partners will need to offer technology solutions that advance development while protecting rights and strengthening democratic governance. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Friday said it would pause interviews for visa applicants on Sunday due to the escalating Covid-19 outbreak in Afghanistan, blocking, at least temporarily, the ability of Afghans who worked for the U.S. government to emigrate ahead of the U.S. military withdrawal. – Wall Street Journal

NATO allies have made no secret of their frustration with President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan unconditionally by Sept. 11. Now as he arrives in Brussels this week for his first NATO summit as president, Biden must confront allies’ lingering resentment over the drawdown and tackle the thorny issues involved in securing the country’s future. – Politico

U.S. President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts will bid a symbolic farewell to Afghanistan on Monday in their last summit before America winds up its longest “forever war” and the U.S. military pulls out for good. – Associated Press

Foreign forces should hold ‘no hope’ of keeping a military presence in Afghanistan after the US and NATO withdraw troops, the Taliban said Saturday, warning the security of embassies and airports would be the responsibility of Afghans. – Agence France-Presse

A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill Friday aimed at bulking up a visa program for Afghans who helped U.S. troops amid increasingly urgent warnings about their safety as the U.S. military withdraws. – The Hill

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has said the United States will not abandon the war-torn country even after the withdrawal of its forces planned for later this year. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

James Inhofe writes: Unfortunately, President Biden chose to ignore the conditions on the ground and withdraw all U.S. troops by Sept. 11 of this year—a purely political decision. The Biden administration pretends there are only two options: unconditional U.S. withdrawal, or a “forever war.” Nobody wants to see U.S. troops in Afghanistan forever. But there is a third option: maintaining a relatively small troop presence until the conditions outlined in the 2020 U.S.-Taliban Agreement are fully implemented. – Wall Street Journal

Robert M. Gates writes: The outcome in Afghanistan still matters in terms of American interests. We turned our backs on Afghanistan after Soviet troops withdrew in 1989; we must not do so again after the last of our troops depart. We must assure the Afghans of our continuing support — and sustain that support — through every means available short of ground troops. The consequences of another Taliban takeover in Kabul would not be limited to the people of Afghanistan. – New York Times


Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader, appeared in court on Monday for the start of a weeks-long trial that is almost certain to find her guilty of politically motivated charges. – Washington Post

Americans Michael Taylor and Peter Taylor pleaded guilty in Tokyo on Monday to the charge of helping former Nissan Motor Co. chief Carlos Ghosn escape Japan in a box aboard a private jet in late 2019. – Wall Street Journal

For decades, Hong Kong’s movie industry has enthralled global audiences with balletic shoot-em-ups, epic martial-arts fantasies, chopsocky comedies and shadow-drenched romances. Now, under orders from Beijing, local officials will scrutinize such works with an eye toward safeguarding the People’s Republic of China. – New York Times

Azerbaijan on Saturday released to Armenia 15 prisoners of war captured last year during hostilities over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, the foreign ministry in Baku said. – Agence France-Presse

Japan’s relations with Taiwan are nongovernmental and practical and are based on Tokyo’s recognition of China as the sole legitimate government, a top Japanese official said Friday, following Beijing’s protest over a recent reference to the island as a country. – Associated Press

Taiwan will be a “force for good” and continue to seek even greater international support, the presidential office said, after the Chinese-claimed island won unprecedented backing from the Group of Seven of major democracies. – Reuters

Concerns are growing in Washington over the possibility that China could try to invade Taiwan in the next few years. Top U.S. military officers have warned in recent months that Beijing might try to make the explosive move this decade, and recent saber rattling, including a Chinese military amphibious landing exercise near the island, is further raising the alarm. – The Hill

Official representation between Hong Kong and Taiwan is set to end this year as mounting political tensions threaten one of the region’s most important trade and investment relationships. – Financial Times

Efforts by Cambodia to assuage U.S. concerns about China’s right to use a naval base on the Gulf of Thailand suffered a setback Friday when an American diplomat invited to inspect it was allowed only limited access, according to the U.S. Embassy. – Associated Press

China on Friday said the U.S. and Australia were “flexing their muscles” with recent naval drills in the South China Sea, underscoring Beijing’s sensitivity over the strategic waterway it claims as its own. – Military Times

Robbin Laird and Ed Timberlake write: This is all about taking the US-Australian alliance forward in an effective way to deal with the defense of Australia today. It is about also demonstrating to China’s leaders that bullying is not going make Australia or any other liberal democratic states submit to a Chinese global order. The Chinese leadership needs to pause and consider what Australia, as an arsenal for democracy, might mean to the Peoples Republic of China’s future. – Breaking Defense


Michael McFaul, who was U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, said that more must come out of Wednesday’s face-to-face meeting than a simple discussion. But Putin is unlikely to agree substantially to cut back his aggressive activities, diplomats say, and may not even acknowledging that they’re occurring. – Washington Post

Central and Eastern European nations are anxious about the coming summit meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, wary of what they see as hostile intentions from the Kremlin. – Associated Press

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the 30-nation military alliance aims to set aside the divisions of the Trump era and focus on the security challenges posed by Russia and China. Stoltenberg says that NATO leaders are meeting Monday “at a pivotal moment for our alliance, and today we’ll open a new chapter in our trans-Atlantic relationship.” – Associated Press

At a low point in U.S.-Russian relations, President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to agree broadly on at least one thing — their first face-to-face meeting Wednesday is a chance to set the stage for a new era in arms control. – Associated Press

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday that “autocrat” Vladimir Putin was right to say that relations were at their lowest point in years though he suggested that Russia might be weaker than it seemed and that Moscow had overreached in the Middle East. – Reuters

US president Joe Biden said he was open to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s proposal to hand over cybercriminals to the US if Washington did the same for Moscow, just days before the two leaders meet for a summit in Geneva. – Financial Times

When President Joe Biden called an offer from Russian President Vladimir Putin to engineer a swap of cybercriminals between the two countries “potentially a good sign of progress,” he was not endorsing a “prisoner swap,” the White House said. – Washington Examiner

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied a US media report that Moscow is set to deliver an advanced satellite system to Iran that will vastly improve its spying capabilities. – Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia would be ready to hand over suspected cybercriminals to the United States but only if Washington did the same for Moscow and if the two powers reached an agreement on the matter. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: Administration officials have been talking about seeking a “more stable and predictable relationship” with Russia, and Mr. Biden would be right to pursue modest steps in that direction, such as agreeing to talks on nuclear arms issues and the restoration of some diplomatic links. But despite his assertions to the contrary, Mr. Putin probably does not want a more stable relationship with Washington. If he reins in his aggressions, it will be because he is effectively deterred by a president more willing to act forcefully in defense of the United States’ vital interests. – Washington Post

Matthew Rojansky writes: Biden impressed his audience in the United Kingdom with his tough talk and his willingness to take on Putin. But the full measure of Biden’s toughness will be whether he can bring clarity, credibility and persistence to the enormous challenge of managing U.S.-Russia relations. Biden will need that same arsenal of toughness on the home front, too, to help Americans “build back better.” If he is up to that challenge, then he will have more than earned those service members’ applause. – Politico

Leonid Bershidsky writes: Putin and Biden have tried and failed to talk to each other, then resorted to talking trash about each other. In Geneva, they will most likely talk at each other. That’s a barren prospect; but perhaps there’ll be more anecdotes for Biden to repeat, and Putin’s self-esteem as America’s unbendable opponent will get another boost. More than that it would make little sense to expect. – Bloomberg

C. Raja Mohan writes: But reducing tensions with Russia should make it easier for Europe to pay greater attention to Asia and back U.S. efforts to balance China. A grand bargain between Russia and the West undoubtedly serves the interests of both, but no one is betting it is within reach. […]But circumstances can often compel states to do what seems impossible. Even a pause in the conflict between Russia and the West could set the stage for a potential rearrangement of Eurasian geopolitics. – Foreign Policy

Alina Polyakova and James Lamond write: Biden has a considerable agenda ahead of him in a string of critical summits as he rebuilds America’s position on the word stage. The Geneva Summit will be the most difficult of all. […]It will undoubtedly result in an uncomfortable conversation, and not the usual displays of agreement we have come to expect from major summits. But ultimately it will get us where we need to be. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Ukraine’s political radar is always fined tuned to Washington and Moscow. It looks to the West for help but is locked in conflicts with Russia and its allies. Wednesday’s summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva will have Ukraine watching from the sidelines with deep interest over everything from the phrases used to the body language between the two leaders. – Washington Post

The U.K. left the bloc last year following the 2016 Brexit referendum, and at the start of this year departed the bloc’s customs union and single market. That put into effect a convoluted deal to manage trade and preserve peace in Northern Ireland after Brexit that has since been the subject of a tense dispute between Mr. Johnson’s government and the EU. – Wall Street Journal

At the summit of the Group of Seven leaders in Cornwall this weekend, the two presidents embraced each other, sometimes literally, as allies on a host of issues—from multilateralism to fighting climate change—after years of volatility between Mr. Macron and former President Donald Trump. – Wall Street Journal

The United Nations elected five countries to join the powerful U.N. Security Council on Friday with no suspense because all were unopposed — Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Albania, Ghana and Gabon. – Associated Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday thanked leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations for their support after they urged Russia to withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border. – The Hill

Ukraine is prepared to take legal action against Gazprom to unblock natural gas supplies from central Asia, a move that could ensure it has sufficient domestic supply and transit revenues even if Russia’s nearly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline comes on stream this year. – Financial Times

The U.S. Defense Department announced on June 11 a new military assistance package for Ukraine. The Pentagon said the $150 million package would “enhance the lethality, command and control, and situational awareness” of Ukrainian forces. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A leading Jewish group in Germany on Saturday condemned the antisemitic desecration of a Torah ark inside the Jewish prayer room at Frankfurt’s international airport. – Associated Press

Max Hastings writes: The atrophy that has fallen upon the Atlantic relationship is a loss to all parties. It is nonetheless hard to see how the damage can be repaired, because of the divergence of perceived interests between Washington and the European capitals, together with the lack of real statesmen in their foreign services. We need some big men and women on the world stage to defend the cause of liberal democracy. In their absence, tyrants will continue to thrive. – Bloomberg

Bruna Celic writes: Three decades have passed since the people known as Macedonians gained independence from the ruins of Yugoslavia and 18 years since they were recognized as a potential candidate for European Union (EU) membership. […]But the country’s nationalistic neighbors have unrelentingly made life difficult, and it now seems that some in the EU (led by the EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi) are willing to leave it behind rather than tackle the root causes of its geopolitical problems. – Center for European Policy Analysis


South Africa said Friday it has finalized an extradition treaty with United Arab Emirates that would allow it to bring back members of an Indian family accused of involvement in high-level state corruption to face trial. – Associated Press

A student has been fatally shot at a school in northern Nigeria as gunmen abducted eight students and two lecturers in yet another violent attack on an educational institution in the country, authorities said Friday. – Associated Press

The northern highlands of Ethiopia became a global byword for famine in the mid-1980s, when drought and conflict combined to create a disaster that killed as many as one million people. Now hunger is stalking the Tigray region again, and a senior UN official alleges that starvation is being used as a weapon of war. – Reuters

The Americas

Five days after a presidential election, socialist labor leader Pedro Castillo will likely clinch Peru’s presidency even as his right-wing rival challenges thousands of votes in a last-ditch effort to flip the outcome amid mounting tension. – Wall Street Journal

The city of London, Ontario paid homage Saturday to a Muslim family deliberately mowed down by the driver of a pick-up truck, in an attack that has shocked Canadians and which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced as “terrorist.” – Agence France-Presse

The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega arrested five opposition leaders during a major weekend round up, in what appears to be widespread detentions of anyone who might challenge his rule. – Associated Press

The Quebec government announced last week that it is adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, joining some 40 sister democracies around the world and hundreds of local governments and institutions, the Jewish Press reported. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Mostyn writes: In the West, we are seeing the beginning of a new phase of discrimination against Jews. Many cannot openly identify as Jews without fear of being assaulted, which is happening all too often in Europe, the United States, and now Canada. […]The challenge to those social justice warriors who are intent on sweeping up others in their anti-Israel mania is this: How, in the name of justice and human rights, can you deny that Jews are a people with the right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland? What is that refusal other than bigotry and hatred? – Algemeiner

United States

White House allies say that Biden will go into the meeting with open eyes and well-prepared to confront Putin over Russia’s aggressive conduct and to lay out consequences for further provocations. – The Hill

President Biden’s lack of ambassadors nearly five months into his term is on prominent display during his first trip overseas as he meets with leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) nations, none of which even have an ambassador nominee. – The Hill

The House will vote on a repeal of the Iraq-focused 2002 war authorization this week, but similar legislation is on a slower track on the other side of the Capitol, where lawmakers were still negotiating with the White House last week. – Defense News


The ransomware hackers suspected of targeting Colonial Pipeline and other businesses around the world have a strict set of rules. First and foremost: Don’t target Russia or friendly states. It’s even hard-wired into the malware, including coding to prevent hacks on Moscow’s ally Syria, according to cybersecurity experts who have analyzed the malware’s digital fingerprints. – Washington Post

The U.S. government is ratcheting up pressure on Beijing’s 5G ambitions overseas, offering financial incentives and other enticements to countries willing to shun Chinese-made telecom gear. – Wall Street Journal

McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), the world’s largest burger chain, said on Friday that a data breach in South Korea and Taiwan has exposed some customer and employee information, making it the latest global company to be targeted by cybercriminals. – Reuters

Volkswagen AG’s U.S. unit said a data breach at a vendor impacted more than 3.3 million customers and prospective buyers in North America. – Reuters

Professional criminals holding businesses to ransom — often with the support of nation-states — is the key online threat facing the U.K., the country’s cyber security chief will say Monday. – Bloomberg

The Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations has urged Russia take action against those conducting cyberattacks and using ransomware from within its borders, as it wrapped up a three-day summit in southwestern England. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The SolarWinds cyberattack on the federal government and American businesses last year incentivized hackers worldwide to go bigger and bolder in multiple major ransomware attacks in the past few months. – Washington Examiner

Lawmakers of both parties want President Joe Biden to deliver a tough message when he meets face-to-face this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Stop the ransomware gangs, or we will. – Politico


The Biden administration announced Carlos Del Toro as its pick to be the next Navy secretary. Del Toro is a retired U.S. Navy commander and a business leader, and if confirmed he would be the second-ever Hispanic Navy secretary. – Defense News

In recent weeks, US troops on opposite sides of Europe have used new ways to get equipment and supplies to troops in forward locations, reflecting NATO’s increased focus on mobility amid heightened tensions with Russia. – Business Insider

NATO allies are poised to formally oppose the alliance deploying ground-based nuclear missiles in Europe, following U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting with fellow heads of state set for June 14 in Brussels, Defense News has learned. – Defense News

Global Hawk drones flown by NATO from their Italian base will soon be racking up 100 hours of flying time per week between them, and boasting a new maritime target tracking capability, alliance officials have said. – Defense News

Seth J. Frantzman writes: If the U.S. ever had to go to war with a major power such as China, then it could get to see if the swarms work against other advanced technology, but that is also a big gamble to take with the technology for the first time. […]Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia in September 2019 may have been a drone-swarm Pearl Harbor; but just as another 1941 Pearl Harbor never happened again, it may be that another Abqaiq won’t happen in the same way again. If it does happen, it will be faster, deadlier and more destructive. – C4ISRNET

Edgar Tam and Pierre Morcos write: The lessons learned from the Strait of Hormuz security efforts can serve as a useful framework for future maritime coalitions. As experienced by the U.S.- and European-led endeavors, any successful maritime coalition requires shared diplomatic goals, consistent messaging, clear and flexible legal authorities and political mandates, sustainable and complementary resources, and a credible political framework. – War on the Rocks

Long War

A French military offensive in Mali has killed a jihadist leader linked to al-Qaida who is believed to have helped orchestrate the kidnapping and killing of two French journalists in 2013, France’s defense minister said Friday. – Associated Press

Syrian jihadist extremists, who have suppressed minorities and women, have been doing outreach to the United States for years. An interview conducted months ago with the former US envoy against ISIS revealed the depth to which Hayat Tahrir al-Sham told the US that “we want to be your friend.” – Jerusalem Post

The Alma Research and Education Center reported on Thursday that two organizations in France, referred to as “Al-Ghadir,” and “Imam Al Khoei,” could possibly be used to “spread the dangerous ideology of the radical Shi’ite axis led by Iran to youngsters and adults alike.” The report states that the axis aims to develop “an active civilian and military integrated infrastructure,” as a possible terror base on European soil. – Jerusalem Post