Fdd's overnight brief

June 17, 2021

In The News


Ebrahim Raisi seems poised to emerge victorious in Iran’s presidential elections later this week, thanks to the support of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei more than Raisi’s strength as a candidate. – Washington Post 

The frontrunner in Friday’s presidential election in Iran is an austere cleric and judiciary chief hostile to the West, who’s expected to prevail as millions boycott a vote their favored reformist candidates weren’t allowed to contest. – Bloomberg 

The French Foreign Ministry says that “significant disagreements persist” in talks between Tehran and world powers aimed at reviving a landmark 2015 nuclear deal. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers hangs in the balance as the country prepares to vote on Friday for a new president and diplomats press on with efforts to get both the U.S. and Tehran to reenter the accord. – Associated Press

A reformist candidate and two hard-liners have dropped out of Iran’s presidential election on the last day of the campaign — leaving just four candidates in a June 18 vote widely expected to be won by ultraconservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran’s supreme leader urged voters on Wednesday to turn out in large numbers for the June 18 presidential election, saying such a show of strength would reduce foreign pressure on the Islamic Republic. – Reuters

There have been four wild developments on Wednesday and in recent days which will have major impacts on the future of the Iranian nuclear standoff. – Jerusalem Post

Tehran has now returned to the enrichment game, using uranium enrichment as a way to pressure the US and the West into giving Iran concessions. For America, this means trying to get President Joe Biden’s administration to reenter the “Iran deal.” – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes:  To focus on the outcome of the Iranian presidential election may be interesting, but ultimately it is not hugely relevant. To project power on the presidency based on the experiences of the institution inside the United States or European countries is to mirror the image in a distortive way. […]When it comes to Iranian elections, it is important never to trust, but always to verify. – The National Interest 

Ali Afshari writes: Of course, not all election boycotters have the same motives, goals, and approaches, but the outcome of the widespread boycott of the elections will strengthen the strategy of pursuing structural change in Iran’s political arena. A political revolution, whether it be silent or velvet, appears to be a viable approach to addressing the deepening rift between the incorrigible government and the people seeking fundamental and lasting change in Iranian politics. – Middle East Institute  

Saeid Golkar and Kasra Aaarabi write: These changes come as the U.S. ponders returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement, which would not only generate billions of dollars for Tehran from sanctions relief, but permit Washington to fulfil its proposed withdrawal from the Middle East. Influential voices in U.S. foreign policy circles consider these necessary steps towards ending the so-called “forever wars.” There is every indication that Ayatollah Khamenei, whose revolution will not be complete until there is an Islamic world, has other ideas. – Time


U.S. President Joe Biden did not secure a commitment from his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday to renew a U.N. cross-border aid operation into Syria, a senior administration official said ahead of an expected showdown over the issue at the United Nations Security Council next month. – Reuters

Iran’s Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mohammad Eslami, at the beginning of a four-day trip to Syria on Tuesday emphasized the need for Iran to help Syria’s reconstruction. – Iran International 

Israeli military on Thursday allegedly struck and destroyed a Syrian army outpost in the first action carried out on the northern border by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government. – Ynet


Amid the all-important ICC debate about whether Israeli settlements are a war crime, the question of the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus has been almost completely ignored. As recently as only a few weeks ago, The Jerusalem Post received clear indications that Bensouda still intended to rule on the Turkish settlements issue before her term ended. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: They know that Ankara’s regime feels comfortable with ISIS-style jihadists who would ethnically cleanse Shi’ites. This means that Ankara prefers the KRG to balance Baghdad, at least in the near term. But Ankara’s role also appears to undermine the KRG at the same time. Ankara has not spelled out its final goals in Iraq, and it remains to be seen what its next moves will be. – Jerusalem Post

Farhang Faraydoon Namdar writes: Given Turkey’s military history with the PKK, Ankara is convinced that military means cannot eliminate the insurgency. Thus, Turkey has begun crafting a narrative to weaken the group’s support among the Kurds and the broader world. The first phase of the strategy is a military operation that is conducive to creating a new narrative. – The National Interest  


Palestinian militants in Gaza launched more flaming balloons into Israel on Wednesday, as a new round of violence between Israel and Hamas entered a second day and threatened to trigger another conflict. – Wall Street Journal 

The destruction to Gaza during the 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel in May was heavy and widespread, with damage afflicting hundreds of buildings and dozens of roads, an initial United Nations analysis shows. – Washington Post 

And suspicions that Mr. Netanyahu might be reluctant to leave the stately home where he has lived for the past 12 years were bolstered this week when he hosted Nikki Haley, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, at the official residence as if he were still running the show. – New York Times

Palestinian factions on Wednesday warned the Palestinian Authority against conducting peace negotiations with the new Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. – Jerusalem Post

Mai Afaneh appeared to have a happy family life and a fulfilling career. So when she left her West Bank home early on Wednesday, no one thought anything was wrong. But a short while later, her family received the devastating news that she had been shot and killed by Israeli troops, allegedly after carrying out an attempted car-ramming attack. – Associated Press

The Israeli military says it is reining in a controversial practice of conducting late-night raids of Palestinian homes in the West Bank aimed at gathering information about the houses and their inhabitants. – Associated Post

Israeli police say the roadblocks and restrictions are to prevent friction between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, who have already moved in to some of the homes on the street. – Reuters

The first two no-confidence votes against the new government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett were filed on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

A 16-year-old Palestinian who was shot by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, allegedly after hurling an explosive device at them, died of his injuries on Thursday. – Times of Israel

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky phoned Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Wednesday to congratulate him on the formation of the new Israeli government. – Times of Israel

Adam Kredo writes: Sen. Jim Risch (R., Idaho), ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says he will not cave to demands from Democrats that he lift a congressional hold on a tranche of Palestinian aid money until he is provided with guarantees that the taxpayer funds will not enrich terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hamas. – Washington Free Beacon

Michael Milstein writes: To restore mutual trust and calm on the ground, it is critical to promote practical policies whose fruits will gradually ripen. From the perspective of the state and the Jewish public, it is necessary to realize already-formulated programs that address the core problems in Arab society, such as crime and violence, in order to ensure the safety of Israeli Arabs, an objective that also requires expanding broad investment in welfare, youth, and infrastructure. – Washington Institute 

Yona Schiffmiller writes: When evaluating potential grantees, USAID and other American agencies must conduct a thorough review of the websites and social media accounts of potential partners, as well as those of key officials at these organizations. […]Implementing commonsense guidelines, consistent with US policies, interests, and values, is the only way to ensure the integrity of US funds, and to shun violent elements seeking to radicalize and endanger Palestinian youth. – Algemeiner

Senator Jim Inhofe writes: Congress should affirm its support for our closest ally in the Middle East by helping Israel restore its Iron Dome capacity, which is vital to ensuring that any future Gaza war will be just as hopeless for Hamas as this last one was. That is the best strategy for deterring future conflict and saving innocent lives. – Times of Israel


Momentum is growing in Congress to repeal a 2002 resolution authorizing the U.S. to go to war in Iraq, as both chambers take up measures to clear it from the books. – Bloomberg 

An Iranian news website quotes Iraqi sources as saying that the Islamic State group attacked power lines transferring electricity from Iran to Iraq and destroyed a number of pylons, disrupting power supplies to three provinces. – Iran International 

Naufel Alhassan writes: Democratic systems need parties. Therefore, Iraqis have no choice but to reform the current party system to be able to manage the process of transformation toward a stable political system, a state with effective institutions, and a productive society that is reconciled with itself and with the world. – Middle East Institute 

Shaina Oppenheimer writes: Hariri went into exile last year, shortly after launching his new political party, the October 25 Movement, which aspires to establish a secular, nonsectarian, anti-corruption government. Remarkably, Hariri’s party seeks to normalize relations with Israel. Not only that: He also dreams of repatriating Iraq’s Jewish community, which immigrated to Israel en masse between 1950 and 1952. – Haaretz


But the military is now threatened by Lebanon’s devastating financial collapse, which the World Bank has said is likely to rank as one of the worst the world has seen in the past 150 years. – Associated Press

Lebanon is grappling with a deep economic crisis after successive governments piled up debt following the 1975-1990 civil war with little to show for their spending binge. – Reuters

In his June 2, 2021 column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, titled “The Missing Link in Palestinian National Action,” Lebanese journalist Hazem Saghiya questioned the Palestinians’ ability to take advantage of the global sympathy they gained following the recent round of fighting with Israel. The problem, he explained, is that no element in the Palestinian arena is able to dialogue with the international community, for Fatah and the PA are too weak, while Hamas is too radical and does not share the world’s values. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Gulf States

The Saudi government’s assistance to its citizens who are accused of violent crimes has drawn scrutiny from federal law enforcement and condemnation from members of Congress. – Washington Post

Bahrain’s minister of foreign affairs, Abdullatif Al Zayani, said on Wednesday the kingdom is communicating with Israel’s new government to learn about its policy on the efforts aiming to bring peace to the region by settling the Palestinian issue in line with the two-state solution. – Reuters

Gulf Arab states said on Wednesday it would be dangerous to separate global powers’ nuclear deal with Iran from Tehran’s missile programme and “destabilising” behaviour, and reiterated a call that they be included in the dialogue. – Reuters

Yoel Guzansky and Yohanan Tzoreff write: For the UAE, the Palestinian issue continues to be relevant as leverage against Israel and a potential avenue for bonus points from Washington. Operation Guardian of the Walls and the reconstruction efforts needed afterwards in Gaza represent an opportunity for the UAE to increase its influence in the Gaza Strip and sideline Qatar, which has become the main source of financing for Gaza civilians. – Washington Institute  

Middle East & North Africa

Arab foreign ministers on Tuesday backed calls for the United Nations Security Council to intervene in a lingering dispute between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over a massive dam Addis Ababa is building on Nile River’s main tributary. – Associated Press

The United States is planning to increase funding to Egypt to help it convert to solar energy and move away from fossil fuels, U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry said in Cairo on Wednesday. – Associated Press

Robert S. Ford writes: Preliminary results announced June 15 indicated the phoenix-like return of discredited political parties that had strongly supported former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, deposed in 2019. But in a sense President Tebboune is now more isolated than ever. His remark that he didn’t care about the record low voter turnout in the election shows the distance between him and most of the Algerian public. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

Kim Jong Un said his country’s food situation is getting tense, an acknowledgment of the continuing challenges inside North Korea following a year of major flood damage, pandemic shutdowns and ongoing sanctions. – Wall Street Journal 

Recent satellite imagery analysis has revealed only limited activity at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, suggesting that at present Pyongyang is not planning to resume major operations at the facility. – The National Interest 

A former South Korean prime minister declared his candidacy for next year’s presidential election, becoming the first big name politician to formally enter what looks to be one of the most wide-open contests since the country’s advent to full democracy in the 1980s. – Bloomberg 

Prices on some goods have risen dramatically in North Korea recently, according to various news outlets. The price increases come amid North Korea’s continued border closures and stalled foreign trade as the country continues to take efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus within its borders. – The National Interest 

The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long been a source of morbid fascination in rival South Korea, which sits in the shadow of Kim’s 1.2-million-strong army and his growing arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles. – Associated Press

The newly appointed U.S. envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, will make his first visit to South Korea this week for a possible three-way meeting with counterparts from Seoul and Tokyo, a South Korean foreign ministry official told Reuters on Wednesday. – Reuters


China launched the first astronauts to its space station on Thursday, taking a significant stride in what some U.S. officials have dubbed a new space race between the two countries. – Washington Post

The moving parts in China’s latest growth figures are very similar to those in place before the pandemic. Firing up the old industrial model helped the country return to 2019 levels of output while the global economy was still depressed, but it also shows off long-festering fragilities. – Wall Street Journal 

National security police in Hong Kong arrested the top editor of a popular pro-democracy newspaper and searched the company’s newsroom, in the most targeted action involving a media organization’s journalistic operations yet in a yearlong crackdown on dissent. – Wall Street Journal 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is renewing his years-long push to achieve technology self-sufficiency by tapping a top deputy to shepherd a key initiative aimed at helping domestic chipmakers overcome U.S. sanctions. – Bloomberg 

Trade shocks fueled by unilateral tariffs between the U.S. and China have undone three to five years worth of growth among global value chains in affected countries, according to a UN policy brief. – Bloomberg 

China’s “wolf warrior diplomacy”, an aggressive and often abrasive stance adopted by its diplomats since 2020, is simply “justified defence” against attacks by a West determined to contain it, one of Beijing’s most outspoken ambassadors said. – Reuters

Some China watchers have accused the Biden administration of adopting Trump’s policies and taking a confrontational approach to dealing with a country that is nearly everyone’s biggest trade partner. But the president’s transatlantic diplomacy centers on putting the United States in a more advantageous position from which to cooperate with China. In pursuing cooperation from strength, there are at least five significant differences between Biden and Trump policies as both parties focus increasingly on China. – The National Interest


The European Union’s envoy for Afghanistan said on Wednesday time was running out for Afghan peace negotiations and more needed to be done to boost the discussions as international forces withdraw from the war-torn nation. – Reuters 

Amnesty International is urging the Afghan authorities to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of a recent series of deadly attacks against civilians amounting to war crimes. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

On June 14, 2021, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban organization) published an article expressing the Taliban’s dismissive attitude toward elections and democracy. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

With Afghan troops in retreat and soon to lose vital American air support, Taliban commanders are voicing exuberance about quickly seizing full control of the country and re-establishing their version of an Islamic state. – Agence France-Presse

Hannah Wallace writes: Washington’s willingness to forget the very women it once used to promote its war is symbolic of the wider failure of US policy. The overarching objectives were eradicating the terrorist presence and establishing stability and security in Afghanistan, along with obtaining broader rights and opportunities for women. Twenty years later, as US forces prepare to depart, Washington might have failed on all counts. – Jerusalem Post

South Asia

Government troops have burned most of a village in Myanmar’s heartland, a resident said Wednesday, confirming reports by independent media and on social networks. The action appeared to be an attempt to suppress resistance against the ruling military junta. – Associated Press

North Korea has provided $300,000 to a U.N.-led humanitarian aid initiative for Myanmar, marking its first donation to other countries since 2005, U.N. data showed on Thursday. – Reuters

At east 200,000 refugees are among the worst affected by India’s COVID-19 outbreak as they have no access to welfare schemes or free healthcare, a report by an international consortium of rights groups said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Walmart Inc’s Flipkart and Amazon.com Inc have filed legal challenges against the resumption of an antitrust investigation into their business practices, according to sources and a legal filing viewed by Reuters. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) launched an investigation in January last year after a complaint accused Flipkart and Amazon of promoting select sellers on their e-commerce platforms and using deep discounts to stifle competition. – Reuters


Chinese vaccines, through a mix of small donations and larger sales contracts, have been a conspicuous part of rollouts in developing countries across Asia in the first half of 2021. Millions of doses have arrived as governments in the West focused on getting their own populations inoculated and Covax, a program backed by the World Health Organization to immunize the world, fell short of its goals. – Wall Street Journal 

For months, Taiwan has been unable to purchase doses of the BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, and the island’s leaders blame “Chinese intervention.” China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory, calls this accusation “fabricated out of nothing.” – New York Times

A brisk wind ruffles yellow prayer flags as dozens of Tibetans, some on crutches, circle a shrine in a time-honored Buddhist ritual. Across the street, a red banner spells out a new belief system, one being enforced with increasing fervor, of China’s ruling Communist Party. – Associated Press

Australia’s highest court on Wednesday rejected a challenge to foreign interference laws in a case that involved a U.S. conservative political organization and free speech arguments. – Associated Press

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said running for vice president next year is “a good idea,” his strongest comments yet indicating he may look to stay in a top leadership position after his single term ends. – Bloomberg 

Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives will introduce legislation this week seeking to boost U.S. support for Taiwan, part of an effort in Congress to take a hard line in dealings with China. – Reuters

China has sent its largest-ever number of military aircraft in a single day into the international airspace surrounding Taiwan, with the island nation scrambling its fighter jets and deploying air defense missile systems in response. – Defense News

Michael Mazza writes: Although some US allies are growing concerned about stability in the Taiwan Strait—notably Japan, Australia, and South Korea, but also, to a lesser extent, countries in Europe—they are far from ready to participate in an effort to sever economic and other ties to Beijing, let alone threaten to do so. For the Biden administration and its successors, solving that puzzle should be as much of a priority as righting the balance of military power in the Pacific. – Global Taiwan Institute 


President Biden said he pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged hacking, human rights abuses and other troubling issues in a historic first summit in Geneva on Wednesday, a session shadowed by the unprecedented deference to the canny Russian leader that President Donald Trump displayed for four years. – Washington Post

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to ease tensions during a high-profile summit, even as the Russian leader denied involvement in cyberattacks and Mr. Biden warned of significant consequences for future cyber-aggression or harm to jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. – Wall Street Journal 

In Geneva, following talks with President Biden on Wednesday, Putin made some of his most direct comments on Navalny and his jailing. Putin told reporters that Navalny was aware that he was facing a prison sentence when he returned to Russia and “deliberately moved to be arrested.” Putin, however, stuck with his personal policy of not mentioning Navalny by name. – Washington Post

President Joe Biden threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in U.S. elections and for allowing attacks on American infrastructure originating from his country, charges Putin denies. – Washington Examiner 

The Russian government actively harbors hackers and ransomware extortionists operating from inside the country, the US Justice Department’s top national security official said Wednesday as the two countries’ leaders held talks in Geneva. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: Mr. Biden properly devoted much of his European tour to reaffirming U.S. ties to its major democratic allies after four years of disruption by President Donald Trump. Mr. Biden underlined his aspiration to lead them in a contest for global influence with resurgent autocracies, led by China and Russia. He was right to meet Mr. Putin and seek to reestablish U.S. red lines. – Washington Post

Editorial: Russia is not the existential rival the Soviet Union was in the Cold War. But its ambitions in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and cyberspace continue to collide with the U.S. Those threats must be answered firmly. The fruit of the summit will be whether Mr. Biden successfully delivered that message to the man across the table. – Wall Street Journal 

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes: Because of the inevitable media attention it fostered, the Putin meeting had more downside than upside. It threatened to dilute Biden’s democracy message with a heavy dose of realpolitik, exaggerate Putin’s world role and undercut the harmonization of Western governments around more progressive economic policies. – Washington Post

Max Boot writes: But there is a diplomatic benefit from the summit that may outweigh the cost of boosting Putin’s standing. That is to have an experienced and principled U.S. president communicate clearly and unequivocally to the “killer” in the Kremlin what U.S. interests and expectations are — and to let him know that there will be grave consequences for misbehavior. That appears to be exactly what Biden did. Whether Putin got the message remains to be seen. But at least it’s nice to have a president who knows what message to deliver. – Washington Post

Alexander Vindman writes: The Biden administration’s approach has to be a combination of sustained engagement, including strategic stability talks with senior national security leaders from both countries, along with calibrated steady pressure to end Russian aggression. Getting that right, without tipping into a full-blown confrontation, is the Biden administration’s Gordian knot. – New York Times

Peter Baker writes: But if Mr. Biden avoided a rupture with Mr. Putin at their first meeting, it was only the beginning of this latest chapter in Russian-American relations. “We can all wipe the sweat off our brow that we got through that one,” Ms. Hill said. “The question is what comes next.” – New York Times

Elena Chernenko writes: Secure internally and with little to lose, Vladimir Putin is ready for President Biden. As for his image in the United States and the rest of the West, it’s fair to assume — after years as their arch-villain and evil mastermind — that Mr. Putin couldn’t care less. – New York Times

Hal Brands writes: As the U.S. trains its focus on China, it will have more need for decent relations with Russia. By demonstrating that Russia can put at risk the things Washington values — the security of Eastern Europe, the integrity of U.S. digital networks, even the stability of American democracy — Putin can increase the cost Biden or his successors must pay for an eventual period of calm. – Bloomberg 

James Pethokoukis writes: After Gorbachev’s final address as the country’s leader, the Soviet flag at the Kremlin was lowered and the Russian tricolor was raised. The next day, the Soviet of the Republics, the upper chamber of the Union’s Supreme Soviet, voted the Soviet Union out of existence. Two decades later, typing out that brief history still seems like an exercise in the genre of alt-history. – American Enterprise Institute 

Nikolas K. Gvosdev writes: For his part, President Putin was not shy in placing the blame for the deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations solely on Washington’s shoulders and parried back any criticism of Russian domestic or international actions by trying to find parallels in U.S. behavior. Both sides “raised concerns” but the overall takeaway was that the meeting, while difficult, was productive. So, in receiving a series of complaints from Biden, did Putin “tune them out” as something Biden needed to show he raised so that they could then proceed to other matters? – The National Interest


President Biden and European Union leaders reached a deal Tuesday to put to rest a 17-year-old trade dispute about subsidies for aircraft manufacturers, officials said, a significant step in calming trade relations after the fury of the Trump years. – Washington Post

Piggybacking on the attention to Russia with the Biden-Putin meeting on Wednesday, the European Union issued a long and pessimistic report on the state of relations between Brussels and Moscow. – New York Times

Even before the summit between the United States and Russia got underway on Wednesday, Ukrainian officials played down the prospect for a breakthrough on one of the thornier issues on the agenda: ending the war in eastern Ukraine, the only active conflict in Europe today. – New York Times

U.S. President Joe Biden and his European allies are worried China is making inroads into Ukraine’s defense industry by buying up companies, an effort officials believe Beijing is using to establish a beachhead to extend its influence into Eastern Europe. – Foreign Policy 

Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from closed-door talks with President Joe Biden Wednesday claiming to be committed to help solve the crisis in Ukraine that he fomented, but he dismissed any notion Russian arms and personnel are the reason the war persists. – Washington Examiner 

NATO member Estonia said Wednesday that two Russian fighter jets have violated its airspace, in what it claimed was the fourth such incident this year. – Associated Press

Germany’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday it has ordered a platoon stationed in Lithuania as part of a NATO mission to return home immediately amid allegations of serious misconduct. – Associated Press

Dalibor Rohac writes: Needless to say, this is hardly an adequate or a sustainable guiding principle for foreign and security policy for either Germany or the EU. The central question of the upcoming German federal election in September 2021, therefore, is whether the Merkelian political style is firmly baked into German political life, or whether a shake-up is still possible. I am not holding my breath. – Clingendael Spectator

James Stavridis writes: But the real thrust of the 2021 summit could be summarized as the three C’s: China, cybersecurity and climate. The times are changing, and NATO is changing with them. – Bloomberg


Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly criticized the Central African Republic’s security and allied forces in a new report for an “unprecedented increase in hostile threats and incidents” targeting U.N. peacekeepers and alleged human rights abuses. – Associated Press

Leaders of an Islamist group that advocated for independence for Tanzania’s semiautonomous region of Zanzibar have seen terrorism-related charges against them dropped, officials said Wednesday. – Associated Press

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is due to return to the country on Thursday for the first time in 10 years, after being acquitted of charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. – Bloomberg 

A Rwandan opposition leader apparently arrested in Mozambique last month should be immediately charged in court or released, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. – Associated press

Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador said Tuesday that Eritrean troops who have been fighting with his country’s forces in a war against the Tigray region’s fugitive leaders “will definitely leave soon,” a move that would be welcomed by many including the United Nations whose humanitarian chief accused the Eritreans of using starvation as “a weapon of war.” – Associated Press

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it had removed a network of fake accounts in Ethiopia targeting domestic users ahead of next week’s elections, which it linked to individuals associated with the country’s Information Network Security Agency. – Reuters

Judd Devermont and Elena Mieszczanski write: While the reasons for Ethiopia’s predicament are unique, the outcome has become disturbingly common. Recurrent security challenges are likely to plague future elections in other regional hotspots and exacerbate the perilous state of democracy and freedom in sub-Saharan Africa. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Americas

In the face of a deficit of tens of thousands of votes in a close count following Peru’s June 6 presidential election, Keiko Fujimori, the 46-year-old doyen of a right-wing political dynasty, declined to concede. Instead, she has appeared to take a page from former president Donald Trump’s playbook, leveling unsubstantiated accusations of fraud. – Washington Post

President Joe Biden spent his first trip overseas highlighting a sharp break from his disruptive predecessor, selling that the United States was once more a reliable ally with a steady hand at the wheel. European allies welcomed the pitch — and even a longtime foe acknowledged it. – Associated Press

British barrister Karim Khan took over as the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor on Wednesday with a pledge to improve its track record by taking only its strongest cases to trial. – Reuters

León Krauze writes: While Mexico suffers through another record year of violence driven by U.S. weapons of war, Republicans in Congress have failed to close even the most basic loophole in the country’s gun legislation. […]The United States has a habit of demanding plenty and offering meagerly. When it comes to the guns that cross its southern border, this dynamic amounts to an outrageous moral failing. Landau is right: The drug war has failed, but U.S. guns are a key part of that failure. If only the United States owned up to its share of the bloodshed. – Washington Post


U.S. regulators are poised to ban products from Huawei Technologies Co. and four other Chinese electronics companies, including surveillance cameras widely used by American schools but linked to oppression in western China, stepping up pressure on tech suppliers alleged to be security risks. – Bloomberg 

President Biden used a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to confront Moscow over its aggressive behavior in cyberspace and communicate that there would be future consequences if Russian state-backed cyberattacks continue. – The Hill 

Ukrainian police have carried out nearly two dozen raids targeting alleged associates of a Russian-speaking ransomware gang it blamed for a half billion dollars in cyberattacks and extortion that hit the United States and South Korea especially hard. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden on Tuesday installed an energetic critic of Big Tech as a top federal regulator at a time when the industry is under intense pressure from Congress, regulators and state attorneys general. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday he gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a list of 16 critical infrastructure “entities” that must be “off-limits” to cyberattacks and hinted at major retaliation from the United States should Russia allow continued malign activity in the sphere. – Washington Examiner 

Tyson Barker writes: This week, as U.S. President Joe Biden made his first trip to Europe for the G-7, NATO, and U.S.-European Union summits, his administration must find a way to work with the EU—despite their differences—to recast how the world’s two most important democratic tech powers approach digital governance. – Foreign Policy 


In his first major personnel move, CIA Director William Burns has tapped a 30-year agency veteran to run espionage operations at a time when the spy agency is increasing its focus on China and retooling human intelligence gathering in an age of growing digital surveillance. – Wall Street Journal 

Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of Naval Operations, rebuffed pointed interrogations by GOP lawmakers Tuesday who grilled him over his decision to recommend sailors read a book deemed by some conservatives as anti-American. – Washington Post

The U.S. Army has hidden or downplayed the extent to which its firearms disappear, significantly understating losses and thefts even as some weapons are used in street crimes. – Associated Press

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin released a joint statement following their summit Wednesday agreeing to resume a dialogue on strategic stability on nuclear arms control. – The Hill 

The Navy never had to look too hard to fill its elite SEAL force. For years, eager recruits poured in to try out for naval special warfare teams — but they were overwhelmingly white. Now, Naval Special Warfare Command leaders are trying to turn that around, developing programs to seek out recruits from more diverse regions of the country. – Associated Press

The U.S. Army fired an autonomous launcher in a June 16 demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, focused on how it might be deployed to take out enemy ships and other defensive systems in multidomain operations in the Indo-Pacific theater. – Defense News 

The Biden administration says it will enhance its analysis of threats from domestic terrorists, including the sharing of intelligence within law enforcement agencies, and will work with tech companies to eliminate terrorist content online as part of a nationwide strategy to combat domestic terrorism. – Associated Press

The U.S. Space Force is reorganizing its launch organizations, and while the change may not have immediate impacts, operators believe the new structure prepares the service for the coming moment when it is launching satellites daily. – C4ISRNET 

House and Senate lawmakers are again pushing to boost the Missile Defense Agency’s budget after Congress added $1.3 billion last fiscal year. The MDA’s request in fiscal 2022 focuses on the development of future capabilities including a next-generation interceptor for homeland missile defense, a hypersonic defensive capability and space-based tracking critical to detecting threats. – Defense News 

The head of the Space Force acknowledged that the U.S. is developing the “appropriate” directed-energy systems to maintain American space superiority, although he declined to provide details in the unclassified setting of a June 16 congressional hearing. – C4ISRNET 

Joshua Rovner writes: In the aftermath of 9/11, critics called for sweeping reforms that would allow the intelligence community to adapt to non-state threats. Bipartisan agreement made these changes irresistible, and the community undertook its largest reorganization effort in decades. Today’s traumas, especially COVID-19 and climate change, are once again creating pressure to change how the intelligence community operates. – War on the Rocks

Long War

A closed-door trial has begun in Tajikistan of 18 suspected members of the banned Salafiya movement, with almost no information made public about the defendants or the charges they face. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A German-Algerian woman was convicted Wednesday of membership in the Islamic State group and of holding Yazidi women as slaves in Syria after she traveled there as a teenager. She was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. – Associated Press

Nevertheless, in May it was reported once again that Shekau had died. Authorities have not yet found his body, but this time the news lent more credence. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

President Joe Biden’s administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev despite the president’s vocal opposition to capital punishment. – Associated Press 

Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadist group has confirmed the death of its chief Abubakar Shekau, who sources say died during infighting with a rival Islamic State-allied faction, according to a video message from its presumed new commander. – Agence France-Presse

United Nations experts said on Wednesday they had been unable to find evidence of direct support by Islamic State for an Islamist militia in eastern Congo, which was blacklisted in March by Washington as a terrorist group. – Reuters

More than a dozen Muslim audience members walked out in protest at New Zealand’s first hui (New Zealand term for social gathering) on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post 

Emily Estelle writes: This is not just Mozambique’s or Africa’s problem. The United States and its allies will share the benefits of Africa’s rise or suffer from its stagnation. The continent’s security problems will not stay there. African Salafi-jihadi groups plan to or already support external attacks and are growing more lethal year by year; the refugee flows they cause will certainly affect Europe. U.S. policymakers that profess to care about Africa’s prosperity need to take on the elephant in the room. – Foreign Policy