Fdd's overnight brief

June 23, 2021

In The News


More than 30 web domains linked to the Iranian regime were seized by U.S. agencies on Tuesday, a U.S. government official said. – Wall Street Journal

Iran likely conducted a failed launch of a satellite-carrying rocket in recent days and now appears to be preparing to try again, the country’s latest effort to advance its space program amid tensions with the West over its tattered nuclear deal. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia will judge Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi’s government by “the reality on the ground”, the kingdom’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, while adding that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say on foreign policy. – Reuters

Iran accused the United States on Tuesday of interference for saying its election was neither free nor fair as political factions traded blame for the record low turnout and high number of invalid ballots. – Reuters

Iran raised the possibility that talks to rescue its nuclear deal with world powers could extend beyond August, when President Hassan Rouhani is set to be replaced by a hardline successor, urging the U.S. to take the “political decision” needed to finalize a deal. – Bloomberg

Iran’s supreme leader determines Tehran’s policy on important issues, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Monday, signaling that the election to the presidency of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi won’t change the dynamics of the talks on the nuclear issues between Iran and the world powers in Vienna. – Jerusalem Post

Iranian president-elect Ebrahim Raisi met with the head of the Office of the Supreme Leader in Iran, as well as military figures and the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, symbolic meetings to show he is taking charge. Raisi has been receiving congratulations from around the region, especially backing from Turkey, China, Russia and other countries Iran values relations with. – Jerusalem Post

Mike Pompeo writes: The Khobar Towers bombing caused immense heartache for American families who saw the lives of their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons cut short in the name of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Mr. Biden and his team risk the recurrence of this type of bloodshed if they fail to recognize that rejoining the deal will aid Tehran’s decadeslong campaign of killing Americans. – Wall Street Journal

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes:  This does not end free speech and it will not end Iran or other foreign countries interference with the US or Israel’s democratic processes or social fault-lines. But it is a new show that the Biden administration has started to act with more intolerance for cyber and social media interference from the Islamic Republic and others. – Jerusalem Post

Eric R. Mandel writes: Israel is watching carefully, and so should the United States. If Israel still believes in the Begin Doctrine, never to let an enemy state have nuclear weapons, the ascendancy of Raisi and the end of American sanctions increases the chance for a preemptive Israeli strike in Iran and a large-scale regional war drawing in all players. Let us hope that Biden’s allegiance to former president Obama’s legacy does not blind him to the likely consequences of a deal that President-elect and future supreme leader Raisi will appreciate. – Jerusalem Post

Patrick Clawson writes: What has changed is that mass support for reformists in Iran has disappeared, at least for this year. Given the country’s sociopolitical dynamics since 2017 and the regime’s particularly severe disqualification of candidates before the campaign, few people had any expectation that voting for a reformist could make any difference, in contrast to past election cycles. Hemmati and his circle therefore had to fall back on trying to convince voters that they are the lesser of two evils—never a strong motivator when it comes to boosting turnout. – Washington Institute

Giulio Meotti writes: What these people are capable of is unfortunately known history. So is the hypocrisy of the West. Where are legions of indignados who for a year have accused the West, Trump and Israel of being unjust, evil and racist, and spent their free time knocking down statues and destroying names? […]Where is the UN, which was ready to send inspectors to Italy to investigate our “notorious racism”? Ah, the UN. It has just elected Raisi’s regime to the Women’s Rights Commission. Did we understand, yes? – Arutz Sheva


Palestinian Authority security forces have arrested 49 Palestinians on suspicion of being affiliated with ousted Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan, a spokesman for the Dahlan-led Democratic Reform Current told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

At least 48% of the Palestinians killed during the May 10-21 Gaza conflict were associated with terrorist groups, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held a phone call on Tuesday with US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the first since he took over as Israel’s top diplomat earlier this month. – Times of Israel

A European Union commissioner has said that funding from the 27-member bloc of nations for schools in the Palestinian Authority (PA) must be conditioned on respect in the curriculum for tolerance and non-violence alongside the outright rejection of antisemitism. – Algemeiner

In remarks this evening during an awards ceremony recognizing the contribution of a variety of institutions, regional authorities, and civil organizations to Israeli security while the IDF occupied the Lebanon security zone, Defense Minister Benny Gantz related to a number of regional issues. – Arutz Sheva

The Palestinian Arab “resistance” organizations sent a threat to Israel following a meeting held in Gaza on Tuesday, stating they would not stand idly by for a long time if their demands were not met by Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Khaled Salem, a naturalized American Arab running in the Democrat primary to unseat Sen. Chuck Schumer, has a simple message for President Biden: Israel is a “vital” ally protecting NATO’s “southeastern flank.” – Arutz Sheva

Israel is having trouble figuring out whether Iran is close to signing a new nuclear deal, or whether Ebrahim Raisi’s election as president reflects a radicalization that will lead to the talks collapsing and Tehran proceeding rapidly toward building nuclear weapons. – Haaretz

Editorial: It is clear that opposition leaders want to bring down the government. That’s their job. But in so doing, not all means justify the ends – certainly not taking a single sentence from a phone readout and turning it into the cornerstone of a new Israeli national security policy, and also not rocking the Israel-US relationship in an effort to capsize the Bennett-Lapid government. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: To have Israeli security officials discuss the nuclear deal with the Americans in an effort to influence it is not to deprive the Jewish state of its voice; it is to use that voice not through a megaphone from the rooftops, but rather through diplomatic channels in private rooms. – Jerusalem Post

David M. Litman writes: The examples are many, which is why the concluding statement about UNESCO standards is so alarming. If we allow the EU to depict such blatant hatred and incitement as acceptably within global standards, then the last two months of antisemitism will surely become even more disturbingly normalized. Don’t let our political leadership get away with the usual noncommittal language bemoaning antisemitism without taking concrete action against it. – Algemeiner

Arabian Peninsula

Four Saudis who participated in the 2018 killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the United States the previous year under a contract approved by the State Department, according to documents and people familiar with the arrangement. – New York Times

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud urged the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday to institute a “rapid and comprehensive inspection of all Iranian nuclear sites.” – Times of Israel

Fighting between Yemeni loyalists and Huthi rebels seeking to take the strategic northern city of Marib has killed 90 fighters in two days, pro-government military sources said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse


Germany and the United Nations are bringing together representatives of Libya with powers that have interests in the country at a conference Wednesday which aims for progress toward securing elections in the North African nation and the removal of foreign fighters. – Associated Press

Aid group Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday it is suspending activities in two overcrowded Libyan detention centers in Tripoli due to increased violence, abuse and ill treatment of migrants and refugees held there by Libyan authorities. – Associated Press

Prosecutors have accused four executives at two French companies of helping authorities in Libya and Egypt to spy on opposition figures who were later detained and tortured, a rights group said on Tuesday. – The National

Angus McDowall and Aidan Lewis write: Germany and the United Nations host an international conference on Libya in Berlin on Tuesday. […]The last time such a conference was held, Libya’s warring factions were fighting in the capital. Now, a truce has held since October and all sides have publicly accepted the unity government and planned elections. However, big challenges remain. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

New hearings took place on Tuesday in the trials of two dissident journalists in Morocco accused of sexual assault, whose detention rights groups see as evidence of increasing state repression and a push to silence dissent. – Reuters

Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow disagrees that there is no alternative to deliver humanitarian aid to Syria’s rebel-held northwest except from Turkey as the U.N. and many Western nations maintain, insisting deliveries are possible across conflict lines within the country. – Associated Press

A ““bomb-laden drone” attacked US forces at a base near Baghdad International Airport, according to sources in Iraq. This area is called Victory Base and has been targeted in the past. – Jerusalem Post

The head of the European Union’s executive Commission said Tuesday she will propose shifting the bloc’s financial aid for migrants in Turkey away from emergency humanitarian relief to long-term support. – Associated Press

Editorial: The Sissi government demonstrated last month that it can play a role in keeping the peace between Israel and Palestinians. But it remains a cruel and brutal regime that is stymieing what ought to be a steady expansion of political freedom in the most populous Arab country. Mr. Biden was right about Mr. Sissi: He should not get a blank check. Congress, if not the administration, should ensure that he does not. – Washington Post

Jason D. Greenblatt writes: Including the UAE would be a win-win, all around—for the further development of AI, for the United States, for Israel, for the UAE and for stability and cooperation in the Middle East. And including the UAE would embrace another reliable ally of the United States, the overall results of which also allow us and our allies to stay ahead of the curve against competitors. Aside from the many benefits the bill itself could achieve by adding the UAE, such addition may even entice others to join the Abraham Accords. – Newsweek

Alberto M. Fernandez writes: In this sense, the coup story has helped the Jordanian government in some important ways – helped it in Biden’s Washington certainly and rallied, at least for the moment, domestic support for King Abdullah at a volatile time – while seemingly making a potential future Hashemite succession struggle more bitter and lasting. The May 2021 conflict between Hamas and Israel was also received joyfully by the Amman authorities as it, like the coup story, allowed malcontents to let off steam, distracted attention from domestic issues, and underlined Jordan’s continued relevance to the politics of region. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Maya Carlin writes: Under the Biden administration, the actions of Iran and its proxies in Iraq and Yemen have persisted. Iranian-backed militias in Iraq still pose a threat to U.S. troops as they continue to launch drones and rockets targeting American troops. The Houthi rebels have maintained their advance in Yemen’s Marib province, killing civilians and eliciting international condemnation. If our strategic allies in the Middle East cannot rely on the United States for air-defense technology and support, they may turn to our adversaries to do so. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

The Kim Jong Un regime this year has rebuked the Biden administration’s outreach for engagement, without detailing what might woo them back to talks beyond vague demands. As diplomacy stalls, Pyongyang is adding to its nuclear arsenal, which President Biden has called the biggest foreign-policy threat facing the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

Kim Jong Un didn’t attend the recent Seventh Congress of the Socialist Women’s Union of Korea, according to state media. But as the supreme leader’s words filled the auditorium on Sunday, hundreds of North Korean women dutifully took notes anyway. […]Kim’s comments were the latest in a string of broadsides from Pyongyang against foreign influence, which the Hermit Kingdom sees as a serious threat. – Washington Post

The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dismissed prospects for an early resumption of diplomacy with the United States, saying Tuesday that U.S. expectations of talks would “plunge them into a greater disappointment.” – Associated Press

Robert E. Kelly writes: But that Kim felt compelled to admit what his father never admitted testifies to the scale of the crisis. Kim promised such an event would never happen, and yet here it is. Economic growth, after his father’s catastrophic mismanagement, has been a legitimizing element of his rule. If push-back, from below or regime elements, ever does occur, this will likely be a part of that narrative. And if food insecurity spirals into a famine yet again, the regime will likely re-open the Chinese door and risk a coronavirus spread. – The National Interest


Just moments before Canada was due to issue a call for an international investigation into crimes against Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province Tuesday, a Chinese diplomat stepped in with Beijing’s own proposal: an investigation into Canada. – Washington Post

Samuel Bickett, an American corporate lawyer in Hong Kong, was on his way to dinner in late 2019 when he saw a man hitting a teenager with a baton and stopped to intervene. The assailant turned out to be an off-duty policeman, and Bickett was arrested and charged with assaulting an officer and common assault. – Washington Post

These and thousands of other videos are meant to look like unfiltered glimpses of life in Xinjiang, the western Chinese region where the Communist Party has carried out repressive policies against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. […]A monthslong analysis of more than 3,000 of the videos by The New York Times and ProPublica found evidence of an influence campaign orchestrated by the Chinese government. – New York Times

Eyck Freymann, an Oxford University doctoral student, was surprised to get a notice from LinkedIn this month telling him his account had been blocked in China. The “Experience” section of his profile, which detailed his career history, contained “prohibited” content, he was informed. – Wall Street Journal

China condemned the United States on Wednesday as the region’s greatest security “risk creator” after a U.S. warship again sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China. – Reuters

China’s longest-serving ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiankai, said on Tuesday he will be leaving his post after eight years, amid strained relations between the world’s two largest economies. – Reuters

Top Chinese and U.S. diplomats may hold talks during a Group of 20 meeting next week in Italy, the Financial Times reported, a sign the governments of the world’s biggest economies may be taking steps toward easing tensions. – Bloomberg

William A. Galston writes: Recent bipartisan moves in the House and Senate to increase investment in important technologies are a promising start. It remains to be seen whether we can agree on the investments and strategic decisions that an effective military response to the Chinese challenge will require—and whether we can restore a sense of common purpose across partisan lines without which such a response cannot be sustained. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph Bosco writes: The West has an inherent advantage because it is easier and more persuasive to tell the truth.  Beijing’s having more people tell lies more efficiently will not succeed in this information age — unless the West is as derelict as it has been in the past in telling its story, warts and all, and exposing the absolute evil of the communist dictatorship. – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: So, as Apple Daily prepares to close its doors, we should take note of its example and of what its fate tells us about Xi Jinping’s regime. This struggle cuts to the heart of the 21st-century struggle to preserve freedom, at least somewhere on earth. – Washington Examiner

Arielle Del Turco writes: America was founded in part by people like the members of the Shenzhen Holy Reformed Church. The pilgrims were also a religious community longing to live according to their convictions, free from government harassment. As we see history repeat itself in the form of a small Chinese church, Americans should open our doors and offer it the freedom and opportunities this land has offered us. Biden must do everything in his power to bring the Mayflower Church to the U.S. – Washington Examiner

Jude Blanchette writes: A more accurate explanation is that Xi’s calculations are determined not by his aspirations or fears but by his timeline. Put simply, Xi has consolidated so much power and upset the status quo with such force because he sees a narrow window of ten to 15 years during which Beijing can take advantage of a set of important technological and geopolitical transformations, which will also help it overcome significant internal challenges. – Foreign Affairs

Scott Kennedy writes: Congress has taken a hawkish turn, but it is still pursuing a multifaceted approach that does not foreclose the possibility that U.S.-China relations could eventually be stabilized and not devolve into violent conflict. […]And just like them, President Biden’s views on China have evolved substantially; his administration has been clear that China is a strategic competitor and as his recent executive order on connected software applications states, is, in fact, an adversary. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Brett Schaefer and Danielle Pletka write: These problems have been compounded under the leadership of Secretary General Fang Liu, who has abused her position to advance policies dictated by Beijing and conceal breaches that threatened the security of ICAO, the member states, and the aviation industry. The United States should work closely with Juan Carlos Salazar of Colombia, who will become Secretary General of ICAO in August, to repair the damage done by Liu, modernize ICAO, restore neutrality to the organization, focus the organization on its core mission, and enforce agreed upon rules and regulations. – Heritage Foundation


Rahmat’s story is emblematic of the hurdles that Afghans, particularly those in intelligence, face in joining a visa program aimed at relocating people who worked for the U.S. government to the U.S. Applications for the Special Immigrant Visa typically require details such as contract numbers, certificates and supervisors’ names and addresses. – Wall Street Journal

A sweeping Taliban offensive across northern Afghanistan, unchecked by overstretched government forces, has triggered a sudden resurgence of anti-Taliban militias in half a dozen provinces, raising concerns that the country could plunge into a prolonged civil war. – Washington Post

In April, Mr. Omid began mobilizing armed men into militias to defend Hazara areas against the Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan. He said he now commands 800 armed men at seven staging areas mustered into what he calls “self-protection groups.” – New York Times

The U.N.’s top envoy for Afghanistan urged the international community on Tuesday to do everything possible to push the Taliban and the government from the battlefield back to the negotiating table, warning that “inertia” and the lack of action might lead to more years of bloodshed and conflict. – Associated Press

Suspected Taliban fighters fired a rocket into a hospital in Afghanistan on Wednesday, sparking a blaze that caused extensive damage and destroyed COVID-19 vaccines though there were no reports of casualties, government officials said. – Reuters

The Pentagon is vacating Bagram air base as part of its plan to withdraw all forces by this year’s 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, and it could be completed by the end of the month. […]The result is a booming scrap business that is making money for some, but leaving many resentful. – Agence France-Presse

The Taliban captured Afghanistan’s main border crossing with Tajikistan Tuesday, officials said, with security forces abandoning their posts and some fleeing across the frontier. – Agence France-Presse

The US military could slow down its withdrawal from Afghanistan due to the gains made by the Taleban insurgents, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

On June 5, 2021, the Chinese media outlet Duowei wrote that “China has no intention of filling the vacuum after the withdrawal of U.S. troops” from Afghanistan. It added that Beijing hopes to play an important role in the political reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban, in order to prevent renewed violence from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which is known to have bases in the country, and to protect its commercial Belt and Road programs in the region. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Editorial: In planning an evacuation now, the United States can strive for an orderly departure, although the risks of chaos are always present. The United States has a profound obligation to take care of those who risked their lives to serve alongside its troops. It cannot leave their fate to chance or ill-prepared afterthought. – Washington Post

David Ignatius writes: Americans grew tired of this war, but they won’t like scenes of our departure, either. What Biden owes Afghanistan and America both is a frank explanation of what he’s doing — and how he plans to keep faith with the Afghan people to provide as honorable a retreat as possible. But for Afghanistan, and perhaps Biden, too, this will be a summer of pain. – Washington Post

James Stavridis writes: But now that there is a real possibility — some may say likelihood — that the Taliban will return to power, the Afghans most at risk are these stalwarts who served alongside American forces, risked their lives in combat, and were in constant fear of being rounded up, tortured and killed. […]It was obvious that the vast majority of those who had helped the American cause were abandoned. Time is running short to avoid a replay of that shameful day in American history. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: The Taliban resurgence is in process. Every day, more districts fall to the group. Blinken may wag his finger and warn the group mistreatment of women, minorities, and city-dwellers will make them pariah, but the Taliban care little: They are the 21st century equivalent of the Khmer Rouge. Nor does Psaki’s statement offer Afghans reassurance when she implicitly suggests terrorists would be welcome in Afghanistan so long as they do not attack the United States at home. That this provides wiggle room for Biden to do nothing should the Taliban or groups they host kill Americans abroad should be the subject of broad debate. – 19FortyFive

Jeffrey Mankoff and Cyrus Newlin write: As Western involvement in Afghanistan has waned in recent years, so too has reliance on Central Asian airspace, infrastructure, and bases. Central Asia’s diminished importance to the Afghanistan conflict has also coincided with growing attention to the region on the part of its large neighbors Russia and China. Today, with a more contested geopolitical landscape in Eurasia, and with the Biden administration emphasizing democracy and transparency, the re-deployment of U.S. forces to the region would be both difficult and counterproductive. – War on the Rocks


China, angered by Australia’s call last year for an international investigation into the origins of the pandemic, has imposed tariffs and restrictions on wine and other commodities such as barley, coal and even lobster. – Wall Street Journal

Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, has been a center of anti-military resistance since the junta staged a coup on Feb. 1. Dozens have been shot dead by security forces there. But the boom of heavy artillery so early in the morning was unusual. –  New York Times

Apple Daily, a defiantly pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, said on Wednesday that it would cease operations, as the authorities ramped up pressure on the publication in a campaign that has raised concerns over the state of media freedoms in the city. – New York Times

Hong Kong police arrested on Wednesday a columnist for pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily on suspicion of conspiring to collude with a foreign country or foreign forces, in another hit to the besieged newspaper. – Reuters

Australians’ trust in China has plunged and for the first time more people view Beijing as a security threat than a economic partner, a widely watched poll published on Wednesday showed. – Reuters

China has profoundly changed how it deals with the outside world under President Xi Jinping, a top Australian diplomat says, describing the Asian nation as “dogged by insecurity.”  – Bloomberg

Trade and diplomatic ties between Myanmar and China are normalising in the face of intense domestic opposition and international condemnation of the military junta that seized power in February. – Financial Times

Malaysia has released a long-awaited tender for a new light combat aircraft and advanced fighter trainer, three weeks after accusing China of sending 16 military aircraft over the South China Sea near Malaysian airspace. – Defense News


Russia will work together with the United States to locate cyber criminals, the RIA news agency quoted FSB security service chief Alexander Bortnikov as saying on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday marked the 80th anniversary of the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union by hailing the country’s World War II heroes and calling for efforts to strengthen European security. – Associated Press

Russian state prosecutor’s office said on Monday it banned Bard College, a U.S. non-governmental organisation, after labelling it “undesirable”. – Reuters

The Russian military has practiced firing missiles into the Black Sea as vessels of the U.S. Navy and allied and partnered forces entered the strategic waters to conduct joint drills. – Newsweek

In contrast, Aleksander Artamonov, a political scientist and military expert advised Russia to remain calm in an article titled ” From Kars to Shusha… and Back.” […]The parallel is clear: if Russia wants to avoid a NATO presence on its southern border, it must establish a partnership with Turkey and simultaneously upgrade its influence in Azerbaijan.. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Peter Apps writes: Putin has enough trouble at home to be going on with – not least a resurgent COVID-19 spike. But if the lesson Moscow takes from last week is that if brinkmanship and aggression get it perceived as a U.S.-acknowledged “great power” – and allow him to sell that message domestically – he might only get more dangerous. – Reuters

Brian Atwood writes: It remains to be seen whether this effort by the Biden administration will produce a more stable and predictable relationship with Russia. What is clear from the summit in Geneva is that there was no real cost in utilizing effective diplomacy to make the effort.  No one believes that Putin will change his stripes. But he is the leader of a troubled nation, and he now may more fully understand the consequences of his government’s behavior. – The Hill

Reuf Bajrovic and Richard Kraemer write: Time is of the essence. Russian and Chinese disinformation operations, economic coercion, and diplomatic and military bullying effectively coerces some actors to work contrary to U.S. national security and economic interests. Weakening their autocratic influence becomes significantly more challenging the longer it persists. The sooner we take targeted, responsive actions with like-minded allies in Europe and the Pacific, the stronger we stand. – The National Interest


President Emmanuel Macron is redrawing the line that separates religion and state, in a battle to force Islamic organizations into the mold of French secularism. In recent months, his administration has ousted the leadership of a mosque after temporarily closing it and poring over its finances. – Wall Street Journal

When authorities in Belarus diverted a Ryanair passenger jet to Minsk last month to arrest a dissident journalist who was aboard, their goal may have been to silence a troublesome government critic and send a message to others like him. Instead, believes opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, it was a panicked miscalculation by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko that has galvanized the West against him. – Associated Press

Poland’s parliament will discuss on Wednesday a bill which could make it harder for Jews to recover property seized by Nazi German occupiers and kept by postwar communist rulers, potentially straining Warsaw’s relations with Israel and the United States. – Reuters

Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Ireland were among European Union countries condemning their peer Hungary on Tuesday for a new anti-LGBTQ law as the bloc zeroed in again on democratic failings in Budapest and its nationalist ally Warsaw. – Reuters

Belarus views Western sanctions, imposed in response to Minsk’s forced landing of a Ryanair plane last month to arrest a journalist on board, as a declaration of economic war, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. – Reuters

Six leading candidates vying to stand against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban jointly announced on Tuesday that if elected they would repudiate two giant Chinese projects – a university campus in the capital and a railway to Belgrade. – Reuters

State prosecutors in Belarus asked a court on Tuesday to hand down a 15-year jail term to a former banker who was taken into custody last year after challenging President Alexander Lukashenko at an election, the TASS news agency reported. – Reuters

The European Union should update its migration pact with Turkey, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday ahead of an EU summit set to discuss a renewal of the deal. – Reuters

Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko Tuesday accused modern Germany of Nazism on the 80th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the USSR and a day after coordinated Western sanctions on his country. – Associated Press

Days after Joe Biden’s first presidential trip abroad, Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed back to Europe Tuesday to keep up the work of building Western unity against a rising China. – Agence France-Presse

President Joe Biden should not embark on “a new cold war with China,” according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s heir apparent, a sign the next leader of the European power will be as big a thorn in Washington’s side as the outgoing one. – Washington Examiner

British and European officials are increasingly optimistic they will avert a post-Brexit trade war, believing the two sides will strike a truce in the dispute over checks on goods moving into Northern Ireland. – Bloomberg

Ukraine is on course to rebuild the capabilities of its navy with the help of a possible deal with British warship builder and support-services company Babcock International. – Defense News

In less than two years, NATO hopes to have its own, modified version of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) up and running. – Defense News


Sudan asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to meet and discuss a dispute over a giant dam being built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile, a government statement said. – Reuters

Dozens of militia fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo have laid down their weapons and surrendered, the first to do so since President Felix Tshisekedi announced martial law to tackle worsening security in two eastern provinces. – Reuters

Eleven police officers were killed and four are missing after their unit was ambushed in northern Burkina Faso late on Monday, the country’s security minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he hoped Ethiopia’s national and regional elections on Monday would prove the success of democratic reforms, but an opposition boycott, war, ethnic violence and logistical challenges overshadowed the vote in some regions. – Reuters

Heavy fighting has broken out in several areas in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray between rebels and federal troops, reports say. – BBC

Eritrea now has “effective control” of parts of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, a U.N. human rights expert said on Tuesday, calling for troops to withdraw and for a prompt investigation into abuses, including the abduction of refugees. – Reuters

A West African court has ordered the Nigerian authorities not to prosecute people for using Twitter while it considers a suit seeking to overturn a ban on its use. – BBC

Forces loyal to the former ruling party in Ethiopia’s dissident Tigray region claimed to have retaken territory lost to federal forces during eight months of fighting, indicating that a civil war in the eastern African nation may be far from over. – Bloomberg

Latin America

International criticism of Nicaragua’s government grew on Tuesday after another night of arrests in Managua. Fifty-nine countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council signed onto a statement expressing concern over arbitrary arrests and the restriction of fundamental rights. – Associated Press

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that Peru’s recent presidential election was “a model of democracy,” despite efforts by conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori to get ballots thrown out while raising accusations of voter fraud.  – Reuters

Human Rights Watch urged the United Nations and member countries on Tuesday to pressure Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to stop alleged human rights abuses, including a crackdown on opposition figures ahead of a November presidential election. – Reuters

North America

The Biden administration is calling for a scaled-down, in-person gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly in September as New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., recovers. – Bloomberg

A number of Jewish Democrats leapt to the defense of Minnesota Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar in comments to Politico on Tuesday, over her prior comparison between Israel, the US, Hamas and the Taliban. – Algemeiner

J.J. McCullough writes: Following Atwin’s departure, the two remaining Green members of parliament — May and Paul Manly, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who was expelled from the New Democratic Party for being too anti-Israel — released a strange statement blaming Zatzman’s complaints about antisemitism for having “created the conditions that led to this crisis.” […]After just eight months on the job, Paul is undeniably a tragic figure. But there’s a limit to how much empathy one can muster for someone who wanted to run this toxic mess of a political party in the first place. – Washington Post

Kenneth L. Marcus writes: To be clear, President Biden should also follow the other primary recommendations that he has received from Congress and the organized Jewish community. To “give hate no safe harbor,” as Biden put it, requires no less. His administration should indeed improve Holocaust education, strengthen homeland security, and present timely nominations. But that is not enough. We must see from President Biden the vigorous whole-of-government approach that the moment requires, including proactive civil rights enforcement and expanded data-gathering. – The Hill

Bonnie Glick writes: What happens when you leave your friends and allies vulnerable? They don’t buckle. They look for other, newer, more reliable friends and allies. China’s and Russia’s defense industries are loving the Juneteenth holiday break in the United States. Iran’s mullahs are loving team Biden even more. They are loving that no one was paying attention on a Friday afternoon while the Biden administration quietly walked away from America’s allies and thought that no one was paying attention. – Newsweek

James F. Jeffrey and Jeremy Shapiro write: As presidential candidates of both parties have noticed, the public has become wary of experts who look back on decades of U.S. foreign policy mistakes and say, “Trust us to do better next time.” It is time for a new approach that recognizes that U.S. foreign policy should, first and foremost, serve the American people. – Foreign Affairs


Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday that private industry needs better safeguards to avoid calamitous consequences in the event of cyberattacks like the ones that have targeted American infrastructure and corporations. – Associated Press

Cyber professionals from the U.S. and multiple other countries are in the midst of an annual competition led by U.S. Cyber Command meant to enhance the nation’s cybersecurity in wake of months of devastating attacks. – The Hill

The House passed bipartisan legislation on Tuesday to provide federal guidance and resources to states vulnerable to attacks on their infrastructure following the ransomware cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline last month. – The Hill

A recent string of cyberattacks targeted at thousands of Polish email users, including government officials, have been linked by the Polish intelligence services to a Russian hacking group. – The Hill

The United States and European governments will coordinate in fighting against ransomware attacks, which have surged in number in recent years, the U.S.’s top security official said Tuesday. – Politico

Steve H. Hanke and Manuel Hinds write: Legal-tender laws, like those in the U.S., only specify what currencies discharge debts, including the payment of taxes. Forced-tender laws remove the freedom of choice in the use of currencies for all transactions[…]. El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law abrogates traders’ freedom of currency choice. The enforcement of Article 7 will be problematic. El Salvador has no bitcoin police force and will never be capable of mustering a corruption-free force to police every commercial transaction. – Wall Street Journal


The U.S. Senate will not vote until at least July on a closely watched effort to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that allowed the war in Iraq, after Republican senators requested a public hearing and classified briefing. – Reuters

The Navy’s latest shipbuilding plan is falling flat with lawmakers and analysts as the Biden administration’s defense budget calls for a reduction in the fleet and the ability to put steel on targets even as China’s naval and Pacific presence grows. – Washington Examiner

The Pentagon’s No. 2 civilian announced a new initiative Tuesday to prepare combatant command networks for the data-heavy, artificial intelligence-driven reality of the future battlefield. – C4ISRNET

The Navy is working on a new 10-year effort to revitalize its aviation infrastructure, the service’s top officer told Congress on Tuesday. – USNI News

Editorial: Xi Jinping, unlike Mikhail Gorbachev, is in no mood to constrain his military, which may be why six Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee recently signed a letter calling for greater funding of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, including post-INF weapons. There’s much to criticize in the inadequate Biden Defense budget, but by ratifying the need for a modern missile capability, it is beginning to address a major hole in the U.S. military deterrent. – Wall Street Journal

Jeremy Grunert writes: Existing law, however, also enables and emboldens the military space efforts of American competitors. This has become especially significant as other States have recognized the significant military and force-support benefits of outer space technologies, resulting in the majority of space-faring states having come to agree with America’s “non-aggressive” interpretation of peaceful space use. As outer space use continues to expand, and as both American and international space-oriented military organizations vie for strategic superiority in orbit, interpretations of what it means to use outer space for peaceful purposes are likely to play an even more prominent role in state space activity. – War on the Rocks

Rep. Mike Rogers and Rep. Ken Calvert write: The Biden administration lacks a coherent and effective defense strategy. His budget falls short of meeting the requirements of the great power competition we face. Even worse, this budget is the product of the progressive left’s dream to “defund the Pentagon.”  While China and Russia plot the downfall of American and liberal democracies globally, President Biden’s progressive budget-driven strategy fails to meet the needs of the nation, shortchanges our military, endangers our allies, and invites chaos into the world. – Defense News

Ashley Townshend writes: This is why, from a regional perspective, it’s so worrying that the Pacific Deterrence Initiative has been gutted in almost all but name. Drawn-up with bipartisan congressional support by former U.S. Indo-Pacific commander, Admiral Philip Davidson, this initiative should be funding a more resilient and distributed military posture for U.S. forces west of Hawaii; boosting regional stocks of munitions, fuel, and logistics enablers; strengthening integrated air defenses and radars; and increasing exercises and capacity-building assistance with frontline allies and partners. – Defense One

Long War

A U.S. Senate committee held a hearing Tuesday on President Biden’s nominee for the top sanctions and counterterrorist finance role at the U.S. Treasury Department, a position that has been vacant since 2019 and that Congress isn’t expected to vote on until the Senate returns in July. – Wall Street Journal

Terrorist organizations used the pandemic to “spread hate propaganda and exacerbate mistrust in public institutions,” according to the European Union police’s annual terrorism situation and trend report. – The Hill

British and American F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters flew anti-ISIS strike missions from the U.K. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) – a first for the U.K. in a decade, defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday. – USNI News

Colin Clarke and Mollie Saltskog write: Today’s domestic terrorism threat is driven in part by individuals and movements. The intelligence community and national security apparatus have experience dealing with homegrown violent extremists, sometimes dubbed “lone wolves,” who were motivated by jihadist groups. That experience could prove beneficial, particularly as domestic terrorism efforts expand. The U.S. government needs to be smart, deliberate, and parsimonious in extrapolating best practices from the fight against al-Qaeda and Islamic State to countering terrorism at home. […]The countering domestic terrorism strategy is a step in the right direction, but the impact is far from guaranteed. – War on the Rocks