Fdd's overnight brief

June 2, 2021

In The News


The largest ship in the Iranian navy caught fire and later sank Wednesday in the Gulf of Oman under unclear circumstances, semiofficial news agencies reported. – Associated Press

Iranian state TV said Tuesday that a Chinese man has been arrested for posting videos on social media of his intimate conversations with Iranian women. – Associated Press

An Iranian fighter jet on Tuesday developed a “technical problem” that killed both of the aircraft’s pilots, state TV reported. – Associated Press

Iran believes that barriers to the revival of its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers are complicated but not insurmountable, a spokesman said on Tuesday, denying that negotiations had stalled. – Reuters

A senior US senator revealed that Arab leaders have told him privately that they will insist on being allowed to enrich uranium to the same levels and amounts that the international community permits Iran. – Times of Israel

An Iranian Navy ship thought to be bound for Venezuela left its port in late April with seven high-speed missile-attack craft strapped to its deck, USNI News has learned. – USNI News

Editorial: The U.S. Naval Institute reported Tuesday that one of the Iranian ships has “seven high-speed missile-attack craft strapped to its deck.” Those sound like the craft that often harass U.S. naval ships in the Persian Gulf. All of this should give Mr. Biden pause as he rushes to appease Iran with a renewed nuclear deal. A strategic conceit of Biden officials is that reviving the deal will help the U.S. withdraw from the Mideast. But Iran may be showing that the Mideast may follow the U.S. home. – Wall Street Journal

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It is not clear if the fire was accidental but tensions have loomed over the region for the last year amid reports of various attacks on vessels of Iran and Israel as well as Iranian harassment of US ships. Iranian ships swarmed a US Coast Guard vessel in April and the US seized an Iranian shipment of weapons on a Dhow in May. […]This appears to be a major setback for Iran. Iran has recently tried to increase its naval footprint, acquiring new ships and sending ships to the Red Sea and to Venezuela. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Considering all of the above, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program and progress were greatly weakened by the April explosion at Natanz in both quantity and quality, something that has – at least temporarily – also reduced some of their leverage in the ability to threaten the West. At the same time, Iran demonstrated resilience, which surprised even top Israeli intelligence officials, and they have shown a powerful capacity to recover from similar great setbacks before. – Jerusalem Post

Ido Levy writes: Another way to degrade Iranian support for Hamas is to counter Tehran’s growing influence in the wider Middle East. The Biden administration can assist in this respect by helping Arab states and Israel forge additional normalization agreements, which would put each party in a better position to cooperate on counterterrorism, anti-smuggling, and other efforts to curtail destabilizing Iranian activities. Any country facing heavy Iranian encroachment would be a good candidate for such efforts, particularly Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. – Washington Institute

Simon Henderson writes: It is unclear to what extent this mixed news and the IAEA’s deliberations will influence the other big discussions in Vienna—namely, the separate negotiations aimed at reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Iran’s enrichment activity has repeatedly violated and from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2018. […] Viewed through that lens, the near-term deliberations in Vienna may prove crucial to the future of the entire Middle East, especially with Israel undergoing a leadership transition as soon as this week and Iran holding a presidential election later in the month. – Washington Institute

Kasra Aarabi writes: The latest flare-up between Israel and Hamas is a reminder that the United States and the European powers cannot formulate policy for Iran without considering the broader implications for conflicts in the region. Rather, the United States needs to develop an overarching strategy towards the Middle East that acknowledges and addresses the interconnected nature of conflict and instability in the region. Addressing each issue in isolation is not only untenable, but it risks causing longer-term escalation and instability. – Washington Institute


Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is recovering from pneumonia and seasonal allergies, Lebanese daily newspaper Al Joumhouria reported. – Jerusalem Post

Multiple sources denied reports that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s health is worsening following a shaky speech the secretary general gave last week. – Haaretz

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This is important because Hezbollah grew into its own under Nasrallah. It became a phenomenally powerful organization, more powerful than Lebanon and more powerful than many small states. […]Hezbollah will need such a structure if it is to survive Nasrallah and thrive. – Jerusalem Post


Germany’s health minister says he is “anything but happy” that Syria’s government — which has waged a devastating, deadly decade-long war against dissenters — has been selected for a seat on the World Health Organization’s executive board. – Associated Press

A decade of war in Syria has left nearly half a million people dead, a war monitor said Tuesday, in a new toll that includes 100,000 recently confirmed deaths. – Agence France-Presse

At least eight people were killed and scores injured on Tuesday when US backed Kurdish-led forces fired live rounds to disperse Arab tribal protests against their rule in the Syrian city of Manbij, according to security and medical sources and residents. – Reuters

The Israeli army destroyed a Syrian regime observation post established on the Israeli side of the buffer zone in the Golan Heights on Tuesday, a spokesperson said. – Agence France-Presse

Anchal Vohra writes: The very fact that elections were held in a divided Syria displayed that Assad might be consenting to the status quo, a three-way split, if that ends his pariah status. In the end, just as the West prioritized stability over democracy in other Arab nations, Assad and his allies hope that the United States might look the other way as they rebuild the war-torn nation. But it’s not clear yet whether the Biden administration will even consider a gradual approach to easing sanctions in return for reform. Either way, Arab nations that are engrossed in their own security concerns and nurturing their own regional aspirations have their own reasons to continue standing by Assad. – Foreign Policy


The U.S ambassador to the United Nations headed to Turkey late Tuesday seeking to ensure that humanitarian aid can be delivered to Syria across borders, a program Russia has severely limited in recent years while insisting the Syrian government should control all assistance to millions in need. – Associated Press

Turkey hopes to maximize its cooperation with Egypt and Gulf nations “on a win-win basis”, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, as Ankara works to repair its strained ties with Cairo and some Gulf Arab nations after years of tensions. – Reuters

Zvi Bar’el writes: One need only consider Biden’s arm-wrestling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, his hard-line approach to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who is still waiting for a phone call from Biden – and the American president’s determination in striking a new nuclear agreement with Iran. If Erdogan wants to extricate his country from its economic woes, he would be well advised to bring a box of Turkish delight to his meeting with Biden. – Haaretz


As his rivals team up to drive him from power, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making a last-ditch attempt to convince some right-wing lawmakers to abandon the prospective coalition. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he’s prepared to risk tension with the U.S. if that is what it takes to neutralize Iran’s nuclear capabilities. – Associated Press

Israel’s parliament on Wednesday elected former centre-left politician Isaac Herzog as the country’s president, a role that is largely ceremonial but also meant to promote unity among ethnic and religious groups. – Reuters

Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz clashed on Tuesday after the prime minister issued a veiled threat against the Biden administration’s continued effort to return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. – Jerusalem Post

Incoming Mossad director David Barnea on Tuesday gave a threatening speech against Iran, alluding to potential future assassinations of its nuclear scientists and attacks on its nuclear facilities. – Jerusalem Post

The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is poised for critical change with political momentum building to oust long-time Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. – The Hill

Close to 200 Facebook employees have signed an open letter calling for the company’s leadership to address concerns that pro-Palestine voices on the social network are being suppressed by content moderation systems. – Financial Times

Defense Minister Benny Gantz will take off Wednesday for a snap trip to Washington for talks with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin and US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan, his office announced Tuesday. – Times of Israel

During a trip to Israel, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that country has a “responsibility” to defend itself from Palestinian militant group Hamas. – Newsweek

Hamas called on Tuesday for a “Day of Rage” in the West Bank on Friday, to protest what they term settler aggression in the region and in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Although the militant group has reached a cease fire with Israel in the Gaza Strip, its members have been pushing to continue its anti-Israel activities in the West Bank. – Haaretz

David Ignatius writes: The United States could take a lesson from what’s happening this week in Israel, where two radically diverging wings of Israeli politics have united in opposing the polarizing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. […]The change coalition won’t solve all Israel’s problems. But it will reinforce the fundamentals of Israeli democracy — and the need for people to unite, even when they disagree bitterly over policy. Let’s hope Americans experience the same revelation before it’s too late. – Washington Post

Lev Topor writes: Sadly, by the IHRA definition of antisemitism the vast majority of pro-Palestinian rallies are anti-Semitic. Countries, organizations and people worldwide should adopt the France way of action and deny antisemitism, even when it appears to be legitimate. Leaders must take a stance against hatred. Even U.S. President Joe Biden had to address the violence and uprisings against American Jews. – Times of Israel

Rea Bochner writes: Israel is certainly not perfect. It has its dark underbelly, its troubled past, its unclear future, just like the United States. But it is the only place in the world where I feel safe to live as a Jew. It is the only place where my protection is paramount. It is the answer to that inevitable change of heart that every host culture has about its Jews. Herzl knew it, as did Ben-Gurion and Weizmann and Meir. They knew that for Jews anywhere but in Israel, it was only a matter of time. – Times of Israel

David Witus writes: But they are not the true reason for Palestine’s ongoing inability to realize its dream of “self-determination.” For that, we must consider what it would mean for Palestine’s leaders to take irreversible steps toward establishing a permanent and secure peaceful co-existence with Israel. Simply put, the process of doing so seems to be entirely beyond the ken of Palestine’s present leaders. But if he was among them now and asked to advise them, there can be no doubt that based on his Oslo era writings, he would still tell them to “keep doing what you are doing.” – Times of Israel

Ron Ben-Yishai writes: Israel is adamant that it will not allow reconstruction in Gaza to begin before the matter of prisoners held by Hamas is resolved. And the current government and possibly the coalition that follows are unlikely to agree to Sinwar’s terms. […]Even so, the government appears willing to ignore the recommendations of the Shamgar Commission established after the Shalit deal – which state that Israel must exchange a body for a body and a prisoner for a prisoner – and is willing to consider the possibility of freeing hundreds of Hamas prisoners. – Ynet

Gulf States

On May 27, 2021, the Qatari daily Al-Sharq published a poem by Qatar’s former health minister, cardiologist Dr. Hajar Ahmad Al-Bin’ali, glorifying the Gazan organizations for their recent round of fighting with Israel.  – Middle East Media Research Institute 

But what makes the agreement a big deal is the timing: For Finance Minister of Israel Katz and his Emirati counterpart, Obaid Al Tayer, to sign an agreement this week sends a strong message that the Abraham Accords are still on track. – Jerusalem Post

Israel plans to open an economic attaché office in Abu Dhabi this summer to attract foreign investment and boost economic relations with Gulf states and the broader Arab world, the Economy Ministry said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said on Tuesday that his country is committed to the “Palestinian cause” and supports the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: Nagel, who is Jewish, predicted that the Abraham Accords would infuse Israeli hi-tech into the Emirates and turn the UAE into one of the world’s technology hubs. […]We echo Nagel’s dream for a regional common market, and a future of cooperation and development, peace and prosperity in the Middle East, with Israel and the UAE leading the way. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Riyadh and some Gulf countries want to invest in Iraq and the Kurdistan region, however the pro-Iranian voices oppose Saudi Arabia. Kuwait is vulnerable to Iranian threats and wants to work more closely with Riyadh. However, Kuwait’s strong stance against Israel, which includes rhetoric and laws, means that the meeting with Riyadh and discussion of regional affairs could impact the rumors of links between Saudi Arabia and Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

The leader of a movement seeking independence from Morocco who is at the center of a diplomatic row between Rabat and Madrid flew out of Spain to Algeria on Tuesday night, his group said. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s severe economic and financial crisis is likely to rank as one of the worst the world has seen in more than 150 years, the World Bank said in a report released Tuesday. – Associated Press

Germany and the United Nations plan to host a conference on Libya this month in Berlin, a gathering that aims to bring together powers with interests in the North African country and its transitional government. – Associated Press

Yemen’s Huthi rebels, who control most of the country’s north including the capital Sanaa, have been blocking international efforts to supply Covid vaccines, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Egypt has invited representatives of various Palestinian factions to Cairo next week for urgent discussions on a “unified vision for Palestinian moves,” Egypt’s state-run television announced Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli carrier Israir announced that it would begin flights from Tel Aviv to Marrakesh next month following improved ties between Israel and Morocco in recent months. – Jerusalem Post

Aaron Boxerman writes: The latest crisis between Israel and the Gaza Strip is proving to be an opportunity for Cairo to showcase itself as a regional player. It is allowing the Egyptians — who have taken a back seat for the past few months — to retake airtime from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which won plaudits in Western capitals for normalizing ties with Israel last year. […]And, perhaps most importantly, it is winning American attention for a regime often criticized for its dire human rights record. For Cairo, showing off its role as peacemaker is part of the deal. – Times of Israel


More than a decade later, the Chinese government is finally reining in the country’s most powerful technology companies — but not, at least for now, Tencent. – New York Times

What China now allows is something some Chinese demographers have wanted for decades. But they say the easing would have had a much bigger impact a couple of decades ago, when there were more women of childbearing age and many parents ached to have more children. – Wall Street Journal

China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, spoke with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen via videoconference in what the U.S. termed an introductory meeting. – Wall Street Journal

The People’s Bank of China is getting restive about the strength of the Chinese yuan. That is something to keep an eye on: Any attempt to prevent it from rallying further would provide fresh fuel for a clash between Beijing and Washington over currency manipulation. – Wall Street Journal

Hu Xijin, the editor of the Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, considers enhancing China’s nuclear program as being vital to the country’s “strategic deterrence” against the United States. – Newsweek

Editorial: The risk is that Beijing may conclude the real lesson to be drawn from such carefully calibrated deployments is that the UK and other European powers would actually stand aside — if China were ever to attempt a blockade of Taiwan. In reality, neither Washington, Beijing, Taipei or London could be sure how such an unprecedented international crisis would unfold. It would be wise if all parties ensure that we never find out. – Financial Times

Joseph Bosco writes: Almost as a parallel to the U.S. and European experience, both countries also suffered pandemic eruptions in recent weeks; India’s has been far more extensive and devastating. Whether these events are simply additional examples of serendipity to Beijing’s advantage, or something far more sinister connected to the original coronavirus outbreak, may be revealed in the Biden-ordered intelligence review. The review should not shy away from an honest assessment, even if it means accusing Beijing of something as extreme as biological warfare. If that should prove to be the case, there are non-kinetic responses available to Washington and the international community. – The Hill

David Stilwell writes: Having finally acknowledged and engaged in strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China, we must effectively employ all the advantages of our liberal democratic system—especially rapid, distributed, and effective decision-making. This can only be accomplished by employing trust to delegate authority. […]Without delegation and distribution of authority based on trust, we risk returning to an era of ceding the initiative to Beijing, endlessly shooting behind the target. – The National Interest


Three bombs rattled the Afghan capital Kabul late Tuesday killing at least 10 people and plunging the city into darkness, an Afghan government spokesman said. – Associated Press

The U.S. military is nearly at the halfway point in pulling its forces from Afghanistan only a month into the effort, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Tuesday. – The Hill

NATO diplomats said this week that they are still unsure who will protect civilians and secure Kabul’s international airport after the organization’s military forces are withdrawn from Afghanistan. – Newsweek


Since China imposed a security law on Hong Kong last summer that outlaws dissent, authorities have embarked on a campaign to rewrite history. – Washington Post

The government Tuesday unveiled plans to require people in Hong Kong to provide their real name and other personal details when registering mobile phone numbers, a move that critics said would further curtail people’s freedoms and stoke fears of surveillance. – Wall Street Journal

The 11-nation free-trade group known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership said Wednesday it would open talks about admitting the U.K. as a new member, potentially adding another U.S. ally while Washington itself stays away. – Wall Street Journal

Now the Belgian embassy in Seoul has said it will recall Ms. Xiang’s husband, Ambassador Peter Lescouhier, “in the best interest of our bilateral relations.” – New York Times

The foreign ministry of Malaysia on Tuesday said it would summon China’s envoy to explain an “intrusion” by 16 air force planes into its airspace, after the Southeast Asian country’s military detected “suspicious” activity over the South China Sea. – Reuters

The Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has left open the door to funding projects in Myanmar even if the south-east Asian nation does not return to democracy. – Financial Times

President Donald Trump’s administration sought to build even closer ties to Taiwan, and wanted Japan to adopt a tougher stance on China during his four years office, his former top diplomat has said. – Newsweek

As unrest deepens across China’s porous border with Myanmar, the outbreak of an all-out war could trigger a triple security, economic and humanitarian crisis that would motivate Beijing to rein in the conflict before being forced to take more heavy-handed measures that would have far-reaching strategic ramifications. – Newsweek


A prominent Kremlin critic was facing possible jail time Tuesday after Russian police stopped his foreign-bound plane as it taxied down a runway and yanked him off the flight. – Agence France-Presse

Russian authorities are cracking down on dissent before a crucial parliamentary election in September, in what a leading Kremlin critic on Tuesday described as an attempt to sideline opponents. – Associated Press

When Russia’s political and business elite congregate in St Petersburg this week for an event often billed as the country’s answer to Davos, a dearth of western delegates and more attendees from Asia and the Middle East will illustrate how much geopolitics has changed Russia’s global standing. – Financial Times

The family of Pavel Maslovskiy, the co-founder of London-listed gold producer Petropavlovsk, are growing increasingly worried about the health of the businessman as he languishes in a Moscow jail cell on fraud charges. – Financial Times

Garry Kasparov writes: The West may summon the nerve to crack down hard on Mr. Lukashenko over the Ryanair hijacking. I wouldn’t feel safe flying over Russian airspace if Belarus isn’t punished severely, if even then. And until Mr. Protasevich is released, no dissident should feel safe anywhere. […]Ten years ago in Moscow, Mr. Biden had the nerve to talk tough to Putin, but he lacked authority. Now he commands the full power of the presidency and must prove he hasn’t lost his nerve. – Wall Street Journal

Emily Harding writes: The United States should abandon the fiction that Moscow has no control over these criminal hacking syndicates and hold them to account. […]The United States and like-minded nations should continue to press Putin to prosecute criminal syndicates of all stripes, perhaps pointing to Russia’s reaffirmation in March of the report of the United Nations’ open-ended working group, which laid out norms for operating in the cyber domain. When Moscow fails to prosecute those behind DarkSide, the United States should be ready to pursue criminal charges on its own and to state unequivocally that future such events will meet a specific response. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Konstantin McKenna writes: The purpose of the palace, however, is much clearer than that of the dacha: Far from governmental duties, removed from the responsibilities of family, and loaded with at least six distinct places to get wasted, this is not the abode of a confident ruler but the lair of an overgrown manchild. In a house with more than three times the floor area of the White House and on a vast estate more than 86 times the area of Camp David, Putin is free to indulge his heart’s desires as his country crumbles around him, impoverished by the sheer rapaciousness and incompetence of its president and his accomplices. – Foreign Policy


An opposition activist in Belarus stabbed himself in the throat with a pen during a court hearing on Tuesday after claiming that investigators had threatened to prosecute his family and neighbors if he did not plead guilty. – New York Times

Two men accused of spying for China went on trial Tuesday in Warsaw — a Chinese citizen who is a former sales director of Huawei in Poland and a Polish cybersecurity expert. – Associated Press

Germany’s foreign minister on Tuesday rejected the idea of delivering weapons to Ukraine after the country’s president indicated that he would like military help from Berlin. – Associated Press

Several European nations want Denmark to explain why its foreign secret service allegedly helped the United States spy on European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, more than seven years ago. – Associated Press

NATO’s foreign and defense ministers were meeting Tuesday to lay the groundwork for the military alliance’s first summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, setting aside four tumultuous years with the Trump administration. – Associated Press

The United States must pass new legislation to limit how its national security agencies access Europeans’ data if Washington and Brussels are to hammer out a new deal on transferring people’s digital information across the Atlantic, according to European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová. – Politico

It’s time for the EU to become a global military power — and for the U.S. to stop thwarting Europe’s ambitions on defense. That’s according to a new report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with close ties to the Biden administration. – Politico

Dominic Raab will on Tuesday present a “rap sheet” of Russia’s bad behaviour to Nato allies, as Moscow said it would increase its military presence in the west of the country. – Telegraph

Hungary promised to oppose all anti-Israel steps taken by the United Nations and the European Union, particularly those that fail to designate Hamas as a terrorist group, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Alan Shatter writes: As Ireland more closely aligns its approach to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to that of Sinn Fein and Iran, as a state it is incapable of positively contributing to conflict resolution. That is unfortunate, as much learned from the Irish peace process could beneficially contribute to a permanent peace. How many years will elapse before a future Taoiseach apologizes for the conduct of today’s Irish government and Parliament cannot be accurately predicted. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: In effect, European parliamentarians appear to believe European precedents should not apply to Africans. Seldom has there been a starker embrace of progressive racism in Brussels. As for Human Rights Watch, its actions suggest that under the leadership of Kenneth Roth, bowing to Hollywood and celebrity trump more both law and the rights of terror victims. Either way, Africans are right to label such hypocrisy as rooted more in racism and condescension than justice and humanitarian law.  – The National Interest

Edward Lucas writes: The West had a much better chance of fixing these problems in past decades. Instead, it squandered its prestige and power. Our leaders dismissed the threat from authoritarian countries and kleptocracies. Now we are increasingly aware of the danger — but struggle to deal with it. The democracies are still bigger and richer than their foes. But they are irresolute, divided, and (with a few exceptions) ill-led. Lukashenka understands our weaknesses better than we do. Imagine what a world would be like run by people like him. It is closer than you think. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Tanya L. Domi and Ivana Stradner write: Although Bosnia and Herzegovina has avoided full-scale war since 1995, the country has never been closer to another ethnic crisis than it is today. Russia, driven by European Union- and NATO-related insecurities, is stoking Bosnia’s ethnic divisions while a complacent EU watches on as Bosnia is pushed closer to the brink. It is time for the United States to step in, rather than wait for a catastrophic denouement to these dangerous developments. – Foreign Policy

Vladislav Davidzon writes: The expected fourth wave of targeted European sanctions against Minsk regime officials lost steam as street protests across Belarus shrank in the face of cold weather and continued arrests and beatings. But sanctions are now back in play—as is far more European aid to the opposition. There is even a push to have Tsikhanouskaya invited as a guest to the forthcoming G-7 meeting in June. There is now no going back to the status quo. Lukashenko can no longer be ignored by those European elites who may have preferred to look the other direction. – Foreign Policy

Tadeusz Giczan writes: Russian politics may seem mad at times, but when it comes to money it is surprisingly pragmatic. In terms of upkeep costs, Belarus under real sanctions is Donbas + Transnistria + Abkhazia + Ossetia multiplied by five. The moment Lukashenka becomes too expensive for the Kremlin, the Russian ruling class would solve the Belarusian crisis with a speed and effectiveness than Germany, the EU and the U.S. would never be able to match. – Center for European Policy Analysis


A former army chief in Uganda has been wounded and his daughter killed after gunmen shot at the car in which they were being driven early Tuesday. – Associated Press

An Ethiopian national working for an Italian charity was killed in the war-hit Tigray region on Saturday after he was “hit by a stray bullet”, according to his employer. – Associated Press

More than 90 percent of people in Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region need emergency food aid, the United Nations said Tuesday, as it appealed for over $200 million to scale up its response. – Agence France-Presse

The African Union has suspended Mali’s membership in response to last week’s military coup and threatened sanctions if a civilian-led government is not restored, it said in a statement on Tuesday. – Reuters

Giorgio Cafiero writes: Khartoum is seeking to maintain a balanced foreign policy between Washington and Moscow, but this will depend on the current governance landscape in Sudan, which rests on a power-sharing agreement between the military’s leadership and the civilian component. […]At the same time, the White House is attempting to lure Khartoum closer to Washington while capitalizing on the new dynamics in U.S.-Sudan relations that resulted from the lifting of the terrorism designation last year. These two facts suggest that Biden’s team sees Sudan as a battleground in the larger struggle against Moscow’s geopolitical ascendancy. – Middle East Institute 

The Americas

The US Secretary of State on Tuesday called on Central American countries to defend democracy and fight corruption to address the root causes of undocumented migration to the United States. – Agence France-Presse

Eight Venezuelan soldiers seized by an armed group near the Colombian border have been rescued, Venezuela’s Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino says. – BBC

The Foreign Ministry summoned Argentine Ambassador to Israel Sergio Urribarri for clarification about his country’s vote at the UN Human Rights Council last week in favor of creating a permanent investigatory panel into alleged Israeli war crimes. – Jerusalem Post

Honduras is set to inaugurate its embassy in Jerusalem in about three weeks’ time. – Arutz Sheva

Mounting anti-Semitism in Montreal and throughout Canada has alarmed the Montreal Board of Rabbis. – Arutz Sheva

United States

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit from a former Marine who was jailed in Iran for more than four years and then denied a multimillion-dollar payout from a special U.S. government victims’ fund after an FBI espionage investigation into his travels. – Associated Press

US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reassured Israelis that the United States will meet its defense needs following last month’s 11-day war between Israel and allied terror groups in the Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: But last week’s business as usual calls into question how much the Biden Administration can influence, much less reform, the WHO. If it can’t make a difference, then the U.S. is paying for an international body dominated by dictators who will assist China in blocking any serious probe of Covid-19’s origin. The Trump Administration’s decision to walk away from the WHO is looking better every day. – Wall Street Journal


Meatpacker JBS was hit by a ransomware attack that took a big chunk of U.S. beef-and-pork processing offline, sending buyers scrambling for alternatives and raising pressure on meat supplies. – Wall Street Journal

Huawei Technologies Co. on Wednesday launches its self-developed operating system for mobile phones, the company’s latest bid to break free of U.S. suppliers and an attempt to challenge Google’s dominance in smartphone software. – Wall Street Journal

Brazil’s JBS told the U.S. government that a ransomware attack on the company that disrupted meat production in North America and Australia originated from a criminal organization likely based in Russia, the White House said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The Defense Department’s 2022 proposed budget appears to signal a shift toward funding more defensive cybersecurity measures at the cost of some offensive cyber operations. – Breaking Defense

With cyber warfare activities by state actors and independent hackers on the rise, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has signed an agreement with 12 leading Israeli cyber companies to protect critical assets. – Jerusalem Post

Jenny Jun writes: The question is not whether encryption will ever be used for geopolitical gain instead of bitcoins, but when and how. In the short term, the newly formed Ransomware Task Force — a partnership between the U.S. government and private-sector players — should continue to coordinate policy solutions to ransomware. […] In the longer term, policymakers should foster research collaboration between practitioners and academics to identify scenarios in which adversaries could use encryption coercively, which systems would be most vulnerable to such an attempt, and how such scenarios would impact America’s strategic position. – War on the Rocks


President Joe Biden’s proposed military budget cuts reduce the Air Force fleet and would install a glacial pace in reconstituting the Navy’s coffers, leaving hawkish defense analysts worried about China pulling away. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. Army’s fiscal 2022 wish list — known as an unfunded requirements list — asks for $5.5 billion in additional money that would help reduce risk to operational readiness and protect critical modernization efforts, according to the Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy is most interested in buying a second destroyer in fiscal 2022 if it were given money beyond what’s in the White House-approved budget, the service wrote in its annual Unfunded Priorities List. – Defense News

The Navy’s modest shipbuilding request as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget shows the Pentagon has “walked away from the 500-ship Navy,” a senior defense analyst said Tuesday. – USNI News

The Navy is keeping classified the amount of Fiscal Year 2022 money it wants to develop the next-generation fighter aircraft set to replace the fleet of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, according to service budget documents. – USNI News

A new Link 16-capable satellite being developed by Viasat will feature military-grade encryption, the company announced June 1. – C4ISRNET

The Department of Defense risks achieving electromagnetic superiority against top adversaries by siloing certain aspects of the discipline across various portfolios, the department’s top electronic warfare officer said. – C4ISRNET

The chairman of the House seapower subcommittee, Rep. Joe Courtney, fired a shot across the bow of the White House shipbuilding budget, questioning its proposed cuts to surface warships. – Breaking Defense

The Space Force plans to award contracts this year for early development of tech to underpin potential next-generation launch capabilities — for example, to put DoD payloads into cislunar orbit near the Moon or routinely launch reusable spacecraft to fix broken satellites. – Breaking Defense

Peter Garretson writes: In addition, to better assess the competitive position of the United States in the space domain, Congress needs to task a formal national intelligence estimate of China’s civil and military space expenditures. The bottom line is clear: space should not be seen as a bill to pay, but rather as an investment that generates tangible returns. If U.S. policymakers fail to make space a priority with upfront funding, then Beijing will likely make us pay substantially for it later. – The National Interest