Fdd's overnight brief

June 26, 2023

In The News


Iranian haj pilgrims travelled to evening prayers in Mecca’s Grand Mosque in a brand new bus this week, as reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran led to improved services for the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites. – Reuters

The sleek, polished dark blue 1978 Cadillac Seville eased slowly out of a showroom near Iran’s capital, its driver carefully inserting the 8-track tape that came with it to blast the sounds of a time long since past. – Associated Press

Iran’s Damavand destroyer, located on the land-locked Caspian Sea, has been outfitted with new missiles and a gun, Iranian media reported on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

The United States will not attempt a change of regime in Iran, Islamic Revolutionary Guards official Hossein Taeb claimed on Friday, as per Iranian media. – Jerusalem Post

Dennis Ross writes: All this sounds very belligerent for a deal that would be intended to lower the temperature in the region. But the reality is that blandishments and rewards must be balanced by threats. A dangerous war can be avoided. Unfortunately, a policy of containment rather than prevention might hasten its arrival. – Washington Post

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Washington is trying to have it both ways. It wants the Saudis and Israelis to be the fulcrum of a Gulf-wide effort to deter Iranian aggression through the vehicle of the Abraham Accords. Yet it is prepared to cut a deal with Iran that would allow Tehran to remain but a short step away from producing a bomb that could threaten both countries. Such a policy is likely to alienate the Israelis, the Saudis and indeed the other Gulf states, and could lead to even greater Iranian influence in the region, to the ultimate detriment of the United States and its Israeli and Arab allies. – The Hill

Umud Shokri writes: For Iran to benefit from the financial resources and technological know-how of Chinese companies, it needs to review its foreign and defense policies, including its missile, nuclear, and drone programs. By adopting a de-escalatory foreign policy and living up to the FATF’s anti-money laundering and terrorism financing requirements, Iran could substantially increase its trade volume with China in the future, after sanctions are lifted. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

A day after Wagner’s mutiny showed the unexpected fragility of President Vladimir Putin’s regime, all the main players in Russia’s worst political crisis in decades stayed out of sight—leaving Russians, and the world, to wonder whether the drama was really over. – Wall Street Journal

The full story behind why Prigozhin launched—then stunningly halted—his revolt isn’t yet known. But the elements include the culmination of military infighting, financial pressures and Prigozhin’s personal political ambitions, according to Russian defectors, military analysts and Western intelligence officials. – Wall Street Journal

Turmoil in Russia presents Kyiv and its Western backers with the prospect that instability in Moscow will make the Ukraine conflict even deadlier as leaders jockey to retain power. – Wall Street Journal

The short-lived mutiny in Russia by the Wagner paramilitary group is confronting the West with a fresh reminder of a long-held fear: chaos in the world’s largest nuclear power. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and its European allies were scrambling Saturday to gain a clear picture of events inside Russia, trading information and analysis in hastily arranged video meetings as the political stability of a global nuclear power hung in the balance. – Wall Street Journal

As the dust settled on the most serious challenge in decades to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authority, Washington and its allies struggled to make sense of a head-spinning series of historic events that saw mercenary forces race up a highway to within 120 miles of Moscow on Saturday, then abruptly turn back after their leader, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, agreed to stand down and go to Belarus for an uncertain exile. – Washington Post

U.S. spy agencies picked up intelligence in mid-June indicating Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin was planning armed action against the Russian defense establishment — which he has long accused of bungling the war in Ukraine — and urgently informed the White House and other government agencies so they were not caught off guard, several U.S. officials said Saturday. – Washington Post

Before Wagner Group chief Yevgeniy Prigozhin struck a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin that halted the Wagner march on Moscow, another leader encouraged his men to join the fight — this time to back Putin. Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Russia’s Muslim-majority Chechen Republic, said in a Saturday Telegram post that Chechen fighters were “moving into the zone of tension” and that “the rebellion must be put down,” in a move to support Putin, his longtime ally. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Sunday that the brief rebellion led by the head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, revealed cracks emerging in President Vladimir V. Putin’s hold on power and cast doubt on the future of his war in Ukraine. – New York Times

Russia will not inform the U.S. about the number of nuclear warheads it is stationing in Belarus or tests of its nuclear-capable Poseidon torpedo, the Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Friday. – Reuters

Ukraine has reclaimed additional territory from Russian forces along the southern frontline but the situation on the battlefield there has changed little over the past week, Ukraine Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on Monday. – Reuters

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said he was cancelling a counter-terrorism regime imposed in the Russian capital during what the authorities on Saturday called an armed mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group. – Reuters

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his first public appearance since a mercenary uprising demanded his ouster, inspecting troops in Ukraine Monday in a video released by his ministry. – Associated Press

A Moscow court on Thursday ruled that Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich must remain in jail on espionage charges until at least late August, rejecting the American journalist’s appeal to be released. – Associated Press

Former CIA director and retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus said on Sunday that Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin “lost his nerve” when he called off the rebellion he launched against Russian military leaders. – The Hill

The Treasury Department announced sanctions Friday against two Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers for their role in global malign influence operations. – The Hill

Editorial: The goal of Western policy isn’t to break up what has always been an artificial empire. But the U.S. can’t control what happens, and there should be no effort to keep the Russian Federation together. The best result from this costly, tragic war would be a stronger Western alliance free of the post-Cold War illusions that Russia and China pose no threat and the welfare state can replace the will and money required for national defense. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: All of this shows that Americans aren’t isolationists. They are ready to make sacrifices when their leaders make the case for doing so in the American security interest. As Congress debates more support for Ukraine or ponders a bill to shore up Taiwan’s defenses, it’s worth keeping in mind that an abiding instinct among voters is that the world is better and more peaceful when the U.S. influences events. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Most immediately in the light of this weekend’s events, the United States and its allies need to remain steadfast in their support for Ukraine, which is fighting Russia for its existence and its right to become a European democracy, and to bolster European defenses generally. What kind of Russia sits on Ukraine’s border, either next week or next year, is hard to discern right now. Russia’s long-term course seems far less certain than it did just a few days ago. Clearly Mr. Putin has been jolted on his forever throne, and that is the start of a new chapter, with new risks and dangers. The imperative for the West to prepare for unpredictability and instability from Russia just got even stronger. – Washington Post

Editorial: The sobering conclusion is that even if the war draws to an end soon, which is unlikely, Ukraine’s long path to recovery will pose an ongoing challenge to the West. Yet promoting its success is also the surest way to show that Russia’s neo-imperial land grab has failed. – Washington Post

Editorial: Russia’s de facto colonization of Belarus, a longtime vassal state run by strongman Alexander Lukashenko, has been a Putin project for years. Russia’s push to move tactical nukes there introduces new risks and uncertainties that extend beyond Ukraine. Only prompt and resolute action by NATO can meet the challenge. – Bloomberg

Amy Knight writes: Having occupied the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, Mr. Prigozhin’s army started moving toward Moscow on Saturday. But Mr. Prigozhin, doubtless aware that his troops were no match for Russia’s, ordered them to turn back. The crisis has been resolved through negotiations with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and the Wagner leader has pulled his troops out of Russia. But the damage to Mr. Putin’s image will be permanent, especially since no criminal charges were leveled against Mr. Prigozhin for slandering the war effort, while dozens of his fellow citizens have been charged with treason for quietly raising questions about it. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: What comes next, surely, is more trouble for Putin in Ukraine. Prigozhin told the truth flat out in the days before his march on Moscow. Ukraine didn’t threaten Russia, and Russia’s invasion was unnecessary — a mistake of epic proportions. Even Putin, the ice man, can’t freeze the burning truth of his Ukraine disaster. – Washington Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: If Putin crushes the mutiny quickly, he could appoint another crony to take over from Prigozhin as Wagner’s leader and resume its international operations. But since the former chef handpicked most of the fighters, the organization will need to purge his loyalists, a potentially bloody process. It may be a long time before Putin trusts Wagner again. And until he does, neither will anybody else. – Bloomberg

Andreas Kluth writes: “I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelenskiy countered when the Americans, in the early hours of the Russian attack against him, offered to spirit him out of the country. As Prigozhin’s warriors pointed their guns at Moscow, Twitter turned that meme on its head and attributed it to Putin: “I need a ride, not ammunition.” Whether by ride or other conveyance, this wannabe Tsar appears a big step closer to retirement. – Bloomberg

Andreas Kluth writes: Let the whole world — but especially those calling for “negotiations” in this “conflict” — take note of what this modern-day Vlad appears capable of. From Beijing to New Delhi, Pretoria, Brasilia and beyond, neutrality is simply not an option. For Putin is a man who will scorch the earth, even with the fire of atomic fission. – Bloomberg

Leonid Bershidsky writes: As he declared his Justice March, Prigozhin openly questioned the motives of Russia’s attack on Ukraine — and no one cared to argue. Russia is fighting its unjust war by inertia and because many Russians can’t stand to lose. The lack of popular indignation about a mutiny during an enemy counteroffensive has provided undeniable proof that the nation’s heart isn’t in the fratricidal Ukraine invasion. It also has shown Russia’s fatigue with Putin. Even though Prigozhin didn’t win, his anarchical mutiny move exposed the regime’s brittleness to all who might want to exploit it. The emperor is naked. Sooner or later, whether by putsch or push, another courtier will make another move to try on his clothes. – Bloomberg

Leonid Bershidsky writes: It may be a telltale sign that in his speech, Putin didn’t just avoid saying Prigozhin’s name — he also didn’t mention Shoigu and Gerasimov, the mutinous warlord’s arch-antagonists. While Putin can’t but stand up for them simply because they represent the state, he can hardly be happy that they have allowed their conflict with Prigozhin to escalate to a point that endangers his very regime. Prigozhin’s invective against them rings true to many Russian soldiers who know they haven’t been commanded or supplied effectively. Putin must be wondering whether such sentiment is widespread and forceful enough to cause the troops to turn around and go home — as Russian soldiers did at the end of World War I. – Bloomberg

Benny Avni writes: In the event, President Biden can declare vindication for his Ukraine strategy. Yet, the better course would be to stay out of Russia’s internal struggle — and launch a worldwide campaign to convince admirers of tyrants to bet on America instead. – New York Sun

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: Vladimir Putin says he feels “betrayed.” He should have thought of that before invading Ukraine. He betrayed Europe, the United States and the entire world with his global disruption of security. He chose this war, but he might not choose its outcome. As Shakespeare wrote in “Julius Caesar,” “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” – The Hill

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: But at what price? Putin is unlikely to forgive Prigozhin. If a deal was made, it likely will only be a matter of time until the Wagner Group founder finds himself falling out of a window or drinking the wrong cup of tea. Or perhaps, if Prigozhin survives, he will be forced to decamp to one of his Wagner Group bases in Africa, where the bulk of his cash flow is derived from such activities as the theft of gold from Sudan and the Central African Republic. Only one thing is certain now. We have not yet seen the last of Prigozhin, even though Putin likely still wants him dead or behind bars. – The Hill


White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan encouraged more steps to restore calm between Israel and the Palestinians during a call with his Israeli counterpart, the White House said in a readout on Friday, following a surge in violence. – Reuters

The United Nations human rights said on Friday the situation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was deteriorating sharply and he called on Israel to reset its policies and comply with international law. – Reuters

Israeli lawmakers on Sunday began debating a bill that would limit the Supreme Court’s powers, rebooting a fiercely opposed judicial overhaul instigated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised the thwarting of what he said was an Iranian attack against Israeli targets in Cyprus. – Reuters

Israeli security chiefs on Saturday designated settler attacks on Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank as “nationalist terrorism” that merits stepped-up counter measures, and their remarks drew anger from far-right cabinet ministers. – Reuters

Israel on Saturday urged its citizens to reconsider their stay in Russia or their travel plans there. – Reuters

A Palestinian assailant opened fire at an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank on Saturday before being shot and killed, Israeli police said. Elsewhere in the occupied territory, settlers rampaged through a Palestinian village, hurling stones, spraying bullets and setting fire to homes, the latest in a series of settler attacks this week. – Associated Press

Israel’s security agency said Friday it had detained three Israeli settlers on suspicion of involvement in mass rampages through Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank this week following the killing of four Israelis. – Associated Press

The Biden administration notified Israel two weeks ago that it was reimposing a ban that prohibits U.S. taxpayer funding from being used in any research and development or scientific cooperation projects conducted in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to three U.S. and Israeli officials. – Axios

The Shin Bet is investigating the origins of a rocket discovered in an open area in east Jerusalem last month, the Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

An attempt to smuggle liquid cocaine disguised as perfume kits was halted on Sunday by Israel Police and Tax Authority inspectors from the Jordan River Customs House and Jordan River Border Crossing. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli authorities on Sunday announced they would open a commission of inquiry into a deadly explosion at Israel’s military headquarters in Tyre during the First Lebanon War in 1982, widely believed to have been a suicide bombing. Officially, Israel has said the explosion on November 11, 1982, was caused by a gas leak, although multiple reports, including those in the immediate aftermath, pointed to a Hezbollah suicide bombing attack. – Times of Israel

In just about every one of the interviews Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conducted with foreign press after he returned to power six months ago, the premier has had to answer how he would manage his far-right coalition partners. – Times of Israel

Editorial: With the precarious situation in Russia, Israel must be able to promptly process and handle a potential wave of immigrants. Preparedness and responsiveness will be key in a time of crisis in Russia – and the events this weekend indicate that such a crisis may not be far off.  – Jerusalem Post

Max Hastings writes: I once knew a lovely old kibbutznik named Benny Porat, born in 1923, who emigrated from Berlin 10 years later when his father grasped the significance of Hitler. Benny must now be long dead, but when we talked at his house by the sea south of Haifa ages ago, he said: “Today we have great military power, but morally in some ways we are weaker than once we were. Israel is rich in material things, poorer in others. Only the prophets know what Israel’s future will be. In the Middle East no one can guess, because the future is always what we do not expect.” – Bloomberg

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: In short, it is too early to know which way the wind will blow for how the dynamics in Moscow will impact Israeli security regarding Iran and Syria, but the Jewish state needs to keep a close eye on the issue as we approach this potential tipping point. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: In short, Israel’s threats and diplomatic challenges are complex and connected to long-term processes. It is unclear that any fancy technologies can fully solve these problems, absent a broader change in the security or diplomatic context. Until then, Jerusalem hopes that its defense technology will at least score some security and diplomatic points in the region’s decades-old conflicts. – Jerusalem Post

Lahav Harkov writes: That being said, the events of the last weekend have made Israel’s Ukraine position make less sense than it did in the past. What seemed reasonably cautious at the start of the war last year, is now looking calcified and out of date. The Wagner Group’s march on Moscow could be a wakeup call to Jerusalem to be a little less afraid of actions that could poke the Russian bear. – Jerusalem Post


Taliban authorities in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province ordered female aid workers this week to stop work on a refugee project, according to an official letter, reinforcing rules against women working despite exemptions sought by some organisations. – Reuters

The supreme leader of the Taliban, Hibatullah Akhundzada, said on Sunday that the government has taken “necessary steps” for “the betterment of women” in Afghanistan, as the United Nations sounds alarms about women’s rights in the country. – The Hill

A 6-year-old child with a terminal illness who was evacuated from Afghanistan in the midst of the U.S. withdrawal in 2021 died in U.S. custody last week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). – The Hill


Sweden must stop protests by supporters of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Stockholm to get a green light on its NATO membership bid, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told NATO’s Secretary-General in a phone call on Sunday. – Reuters

Turkish police detained at least 50 people on Sunday after Istanbul’s LGBT community held their annual Pride march. – Reuters

The Kremlin said Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered his “full support” to President Vladimir Putin for the steps taken by Russian authorities in response to an insurrection by the Wagner mercenary group. – Bloomberg

Turkey has loosened bank regulations designed to push consumers and businesses to reduce dollar holdings, in the latest sign of how President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s new economic team is unwinding some of his unorthodox policies. – Financial Times


The FATF international financial crime watchdog did not put Lebanon on its “grey list” of countries facing special scrutiny according to a statement on Friday after a preliminary mutual assessment had raised concerns it would be. – Reuters

Lebanon’s biggest Druze party on Sunday chose Taymour Jumblatt, 41, to succeed his father as leader of the small but influential community in the country’s power-sharing system. – Agence France-Presse

The UN peacekeeping mission on the Israeli-Lebanese border has confirmed, following Israeli pressure, that operatives of the Hezbollah terror group have established an outpost within Israeli territory. – Times of Israel

Nigel Goodrich writes: He is back in the European Parliament at the end of June speaking at a symposium on the role of the EU in advancing human rights in Lebanon. Let’s hope that for the good of all, the EU follows Harfouch’s advice and takes stronger measures to ensure public money does not end up – yet again – funding terrorism. – Jerusalem Post

Adnan Nasser writes: Nevertheless, there still must be a final decision taken from the Lebanese leadership on foreign policy. For too long, Lebanon has been like a gray piece on the Middle East geostrategic chess board. It belongs to no one, but everyone can use it. Changing this reality must be on top of the priorities for Lebanon’s future president and government. The question is simple: what should define Lebanon’s foreign policy in the Middle East? – The National Interest

Saudi Arabia

These were not the visitors Saudi officials expected when they opened the country’s borders to leisure tourists in 2019, seeking to diversify the oil-dependent economy and present a new face to the world. First would come the adventurers, they thought — seasoned travelers searching for an unusual destination — and then the luxury market, with yacht owners flocking to resorts that the government is building on the Red Sea coast. No one in the conservative Islamic kingdom had planned for the Christians. – New York Times

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Sunday there was a relatively short “window of opportunity” for a coveted, US-brokered normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia in the coming months, and that Jerusalem was optimistic about a potential deal that would be separate from the 2020 Abraham Accords. – Times of Israel

Israeli diplomats were not permitted to enter an event hosted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Paris this week despite having been invited, it was reported Friday. – Times of Israel

Gulf States

Iraq’s healthcare system, once one of the best in the Middle East, has been wrecked by conflict, international sanctions, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and rampant corruption. – Reuters

Iraq has fully paid a debt for natural gas purchases from Iran, according to the head of the National Iranian Gas Co., the state-run Shana news agency reported. – Bloomberg

Mohammad Salami writes: The Persian Gulf Monarchies of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have a common interest in peace and stability in Sudan. But considering the political and social conditions and their very different relationships with the groups involved in the crisis, their common interest is, paradoxically, a cause of division between them. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

Over the course of Syria’s long war, a remote desert camp for thousands of displaced people grew in the shadow of an American military base, just out of reach of Syrian government forces. The Rukban camp, a few miles from the United States base at al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, ended up almost cut off from aid largely because of closed borders and a Syrian government policy to block almost all relief efforts for areas outside its control. That has left many of its 8,000 residents, who live in tents or mud homes, struggling to survive without sufficient food and health care. – New York Times

United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk on Friday called on Tunisia to stop restricting media freedoms and said it was criminalizing independent journalism since President Kais Saied seized wide powers in 2021. – Reuters

Tunisia is working with the International Monetary Fund on a “fair” economic reform programme that takes account of vulnerable groups, central bank governor Marouan Abassi said on Friday. – Reuters

Morocco will delay a summit it is hosting between Israel and Arab states that have signed “Abraham Accords” peace pacts, its foreign minister said on Friday, amid rising strife in the West Bank. – Reuters

Authorities based in eastern Libya on Saturday threatened to blockade oil exports over the Tripoli government’s use of energy revenue, accusing it of wasting billions of dollars without providing real services. – Reuters

Russian airstrikes on Sunday on Syria’s northwest killed at least 11 people including seven civilians, in retaliation for deadly drone attacks blamed on rebel forces, a war monitor said. – Agence France-Presse

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s vice foreign minister in a meeting with the Russian ambassador on Sunday said he supported any decision by the Russian leadership to deal with a recent mutiny, North Korean state media reported. – Reuters

Tens of thousands of North Koreans marched in anti-U.S. rallies over the weekend, pledging “merciless” revenge against “U.S. imperialists,” as the country marked the 73rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War, state media said Monday. – Associated Press

South Korea Foreign Minister Park Jin said his country will continue to “strengthen strategic dialog with China,” Yonhap News Agency reported on Sunday, amid a souring of relations between the two nations. – Bloomberg

North Korea criticized remarks made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his trip to China, accusing him of threatening military action should China fail to put pressure on its neighbor and ally. – Bloomberg


On two separate occasions last year, railroad cars carrying tens of thousands of kilograms of smokeless powder — enough propellant to collectively make at least 80 million rounds of ammunition — rumbled across the China-Russia border at the remote town of Zabaykalsk. – New York Times

The U.S. Justice Department filed criminal charges on Friday against four Chinese companies and eight individuals for allegedly trafficking the chemicals used to make the highly addictive painkiller fentanyl in the United States and Mexico. – Associated Press

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined the Chinese premier for a panel at a summit in Paris, her first appearance in months with a senior government official from China. – Bloomberg

A consumer boycott in China over a planned release of water from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant is threatening to hurt Japanese cosmetics makers. – Bloomberg

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday backed President Biden’s remarks calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator, saying the president “speaks for all of us.” – The Hill

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, is in Beijing Sunday for a meeting with the Chinese foreign minister to secure the future of the China-Russia relationship and assure China’s leadership of the Kremlin’s durability. – New York Sun

Meixin Pei writes: Xi cannot be happy about Putin’s unending series of setbacks, which are weakening China’s key ally in its confrontation with the West. But the Chinese leader cannot be entirely ungrateful either: Putin’s woes are offering up lessons too precious not to learn. – Bloomberg

Hal Brands writes: Now, Putin is in danger of having to fight a war at home to deal with the consequences of his war of aggression abroad. And Xi is coming face to face with the possibility that the man he called his “best, most intimate friend” may be far weaker and less competent than he seemed. That’s at least one just outcome of a very unjust war. – Bloomberg

Liz Peek writes: This was the backdrop for Antony Blinken’s visit. As Haley writes, our government should “show American strength and resolve.” With the world’s leading military and economy, we should be operating from a position of strength, but the Biden White House does not act that way. Someone should tell our president that in representing the U.S., he really is “The Big Guy” when it comes to China. – The Hill

Fabian E. Villalobos and Morgan Bazilian write: The two great powers appear to be barreling towards a path that risks further ratcheting up the ongoing economic war. More evolved strategies are needed beyond simple retaliatory spirals, to find peaceful equilibria and ensure technoeconomic competition does not spill over into military conflict. – The Hill

South Asia

In the far reaches of the Himalayas, drones sweep across the sky on a high-priority mission for India: scouring the vast, rugged terrain below for Chinese movement along the border of the two countries. […]India plans to purchase upgraded MQ-9B drones in a transaction valued at roughly $3 billion. The deal was announced by the U.S. and India Thursday in Washington, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Washington this week, newspaper front pages here in India were awash with banner headlines about a new “dawn” in the country’s relations with the United States. – Washington Post

A glitzy visit to Washington by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that came to a close Friday was a reminder that when strategic interests align, U.S. leaders can find ways to minimize differences on human rights and democratic values, even for a nation where minority groups say they find themselves increasingly embattled under Hindu nationalist rule. – Washington Post

Indian politician Himanta Biswa Sarma lashed out at former U.S. president Barack Obama in a tweet Friday, saying Indian police “should prioritize taking care of” the many “Hussain Obama” in India — a pointed reference to the country’s Muslim population. – Washington Post

Pakistan on Friday criticized the United States and India after President Joe Biden met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House and both leaders called on Pakistan to ensure its territory was not used as a base for militant attacks. – Reuters

Sri Lanka is set to start bartering tea to Iran next month in lieu of $250 million owed for oil, a Sri Lankan official told Reuters on Friday, as the crisis-hit country tries to lift sales to a key market and protect its forex reserves. – Reuters

Gunmen shot and killed a member of Pakistan’s minority Sikh community in an overnight attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police said Sunday. – Associated Press

A suicide bomber struck in southwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing at least one police and wounding five others in an attempt to target a paramilitary convoy, an official said. – Associated Press

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on Sunday bestowed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Egypt’s highest honor as the two countries tightened their partnership. – Associated Press

Denmark’s top prosecuting authority said Friday that it has approved the extradition to India of a Danish national accused of involvement in an arms smuggling case 28 years ago, but that a court of law must make the final decision. – Associated Press

Indian troops fired without provocation across the Line of Control separating Indian and Pakistani Kashmir on Saturday, killing two civilians and injuring another, Pakistan’s military said. – Associated Press

Fareed Zakaria writes: This people-to-people alliance will inevitably strengthen the government-to-government relations. But more importantly, I believe that an India that is more deeply connected to the United States will be a country that will naturally seek to perfect its democracy at home. It will also give it moral authority in a fracturing world that could use more of it. – Washington Post


Taiwan’s coming presidential election loomed large in talks between senior Chinese officials and Antony Blinken during the U.S. secretary of state’s recent visit to Beijing, according to people briefed on the matter. – Wall Street Journal

A Russian embassy staffer has been squatting for days on the planned construction site of a new embassy building in Canberra, the Australian capital, after the government last week evicted Russia from the site for security reasons. – Washington Post

In military-ruled Myanmar, there seemed to be a new criminal offense this week: wearing a flower in one’s hair on June 19. Pro-democracy activists say more than 130 people, most of them women, have been arrested for participating in a “flower strike” marking the birthday of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader who was ousted by Myanmar’s military in a February 2021 coup. Imprisoned by the junta since then, she turned 78 on Monday. – New York Times

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Sunday that he would set the date for a China visit at an “appropriate time” as he stressed the importance of bilateral trade and expressed concerns about an Australian journalist detained in Beijing. – Reuters

The Australian government will provide a new A$110 million ($73.5 million) package to Ukraine including 70 military vehicles to defend against Russia’s invasion, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday. – Reuters

Japan has lodged a protest against Russia over the country’s decision to declare Sept. 3 a day of victory over “militaristic Japan” – a move it said would fan mutual antagonism, the top government spokesperson said on Monday. – Reuters

A U.S. aircraft carrier and two guided missile cruisers were visiting Vietnam on Monday, a rare port call that comes as the United States and China increasingly vie for influence in Southeast Asia. – Associated Press

The governor of Japan’s southern prefecture of Okinawa marked the 78th anniversary of one of World War II’s bloodiest battles Friday by calling for more diplomatic efforts toward peace, saying a military building on the islands has residents fearing becoming embroiled in regional tensions. – Associated Press

Ruth Pollard writes:  Now is the time for Washington to better coordinate a more effective sanctions regime and take a more active role to support pro-democracy forces — as it is empowered to do by the Burma Unified through Rigorous Military Accountability Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in December. It authorizes the provision of “non-lethal assistance” to both the ethnic armed organizations and People’s Defense Forces. In Syria and Ukraine, non-lethal assistance has included uniforms, protective armor, armored military vehicles, radar and medical equipment. It begs the question: Why not for Myanmar? – Bloomberg


Fanning polarization across Slovakia is Robert Fico, a socially conservative left-wing populist and two-time former prime minister, who has risen to the top of the polls once again while promising to end military aid to Ukraine and veto “pointless” European Union sanctions on Russia. – Washington Post

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom on Saturday as mutinous Russian mercenaries barrelled towards Moscow after seizing a southern city overnight, the White House said. – Reuters

The British government’s emergency committee, known as COBR, met on Saturday to discuss the latest developments in Russia and the risks to British citizens there, a government spokesperson said. – Reuters

Serbia on Friday reiterated a threat to intervene militarily in its former province of Kosovo if NATO-led peacekeepers there fail to protect minority Serbs from what Belgrade called the terrorist threat of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian authorities. – Associated Press

The situation in Russia appears to be de-escalating, which bodes well for Poland’s security, President Andrzej Duda said. – Bloomberg

German lawmakers will sign off in early July on government plans to buy 60 Boeing Co. Chinook helicopters and three maritime surveillance vessels for a total of more than €11 billion ($11.9 billion), according to people familiar with the plans. – Bloomberg

European Union member states are set to increase the size of its fund to finance weapons deliveries by nearly 50%, but Hungary is still blocking plans for more of that money to be alloted to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the discussions. – Bloomberg

Senior US and European Union officials will gather over the weekend with diplomats from several countries in the so-called global south in an effort to engage key nations that have remained mostly neutral in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Germany plans to expand deliveries of Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine this year, adding as many as 30 to about 50 that have been delivered or are in the pipeline, Welt am Sonntag quoted a German general as saying. – Bloomberg

Serbia’s top general threatened armed intervention in Kosovo and called on NATO troops stationed in the north to protect the Serb minority from the ethnic Albanian majority, signaling what the European Union called a dangerous escalation. – Bloomberg

President Biden congratulated Greece’s prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on winning a second term as his country’s leader. – The Hill

Editorial: Mr. Mitsotakis shows that a center-right leader can balance cultural conservatism with supply-side economics to build a majority. The British Tories have taken the different path of high taxes, big spending and costly climate regulation, and they’re getting crushed in the polls. There are lessons from Europe for Republicans in the U.S. these days, and the right ones are in Athens, not Budapest or London. – Wall Street Journal

James Rogan writes: Germany’s pursuit of a green economy plays into the hands of China. China has a near monopoly market share position in many of the raw materials necessary to manufacture EV batteries, the most expensive component of an EV. So, with a significant comparative advantage on raw materials and lower labor costs as well as state subsidies, China is flooding the EU vehicle market with low-cost products. Large geographies of Germany will soon resemble the rusting factories of what was the heartland of the U.S. car industry: Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio especially. But the U.S. should not shed tears for Germany. In the global battle against the despotism of China and Russia, Germany is the preeminent quisling. – Washington Examiner


Senior officials from Sierra Leone’s main opposition party on Sunday accused the country’s military of shooting live ammunition and tear gas into their headquarters, raising tensions in the small West African nation a day after presidential elections. – New York Times

A revolt by the Wagner militia in Russia poses a diplomatic quandary for Mali and Central African Republic (CAR), where forces from the mercenary group have played an increasingly central role in long-running internal conflicts. – Reuters

Five people were killed on Sunday when armed assailants attacked two villages in Lamu county in southeast Kenya, police said. – Reuters

Islamic extremists killed eight farmers and abducted 10 in an attack in northeastern Nigeria, officials said Friday — the latest in a volatile region that is a key part of the country’s breadbasket and where militants have threatened food supplies. – Associated Press

Fierce fighting between Sudan’s army and a rival paramilitary group persists in the capital, Khartoum, as efforts to end their 10-week power struggle founder, while a rebel group known as the SPLM-N has opened up a new front in the conflict. – Bloomberg

Lydia Polgreen writes: Adam will survive. But Sudan itself is in critical condition. This crisis is decades in the making, and there are no easy answers. But the past few years offer a clear lesson: There is no path to peace and stability in Sudan that depends on the temporary benevolence of generals and warlords. The heroic civilians who took to the streets in 2019 to end three decades of military rule — however temporarily — offer the nation’s only hope of a peaceful future. They deserve the support of free people everywhere. – New York Times

Latin America

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday said the European Union’s latest proposal for a trade deal with South American bloc Mercosur made reaching an agreement impossible as it included a “threat” to Brazil. – Reuters

Chile has agreed to share criminal records of citizens entering the United States with the country’s Department of Homeland Security, its foreign ministry said on Friday, a week after U.S. lawmakers accused migrants of raiding homes and businesses. – Reuters

The World Bank said it had approved on Friday a $700 million operation for Mexico to promote public policies to create economic opportunities and expand social security for women. – Reuters

Mexico on Saturday began imposing a 50% tariff on white corn imports, a move the president says looks to boost national production and prevent imports of genetically modified corn. – Associated Press

Venezuelan opposition leader María Corina Machado registered for primaries to choose the candidate who’ll try to end a quarter century of socialist rule in elections next year. – Bloomberg

United States

On Jan. 5, 2021, the lawyers and specialists on Twitter’s safety policy team, which set rules about violent content, were bracing for a day of brutality in Washington. In the weeks since President Donald Trump had tweeted a call for his supporters to gather in the nation’s capital for a protest he promised would be “wild,” the site had erupted with pledges of political vengeance and plans for a military-style assault. – Washington Post

The US Justice Department has proposed delaying until December the trial of former president Donald Trump over his retention of classified documents due to the sensitive nature of some evidence. – Bloomberg

The Justice Department is on a tight timetable to work out conditions for using classified information in the upcoming trial against Donald Trump, a crucial process that the former president could use to help drag out the proceedings until after the November 2024 presidential election. – Bloomberg

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: Since the collusion hoax, we’ve had a hoax by three former heads of the CIA plus 48 of their former colleagues, with likely participation by active-duty FBI personnel as well, concerning the Hunter Biden laptop. Nor could you listen on Wednesday and not learn that Democrats are neither embarrassed nor deterred by their party’s clear role in fabricating collusion evidence. With the Ukraine war raging, with their own hefty investment in training voters and the media to be receptive to claims about Republicans and Vladimir Putin, “collusion” will likely be with us at least through the 2024 campaign, and—get ready for it—whether or not Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. – Wall Street Journal


Russian authorities blocked access to major news sources and information from the Wagner mercenary group as it pushed toward Moscow on Saturday, adding to the confusion as rumors and misinformation about events flourished. – Washington Post

The chairman of the House select committee on China said a recent change in Commerce Department regulations appears to be aimed at allowing the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok to continue operating in the United States, despite congressional fears that Beijing could use the online service as a tool of espionage or propaganda. – Washington Post

U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan is set to testify on July 13 before the House Judiciary Committee led by Republicans who have sharply criticized her leadership of the antitrust enforcement agency, the committee and commission confirmed on Friday. – Reuters

Twitter needs to do more work to fall in line with the European Union’s tough new digital rulebook, a top EU official said after overseeing a “stress test” of the company’s systems in Silicon Valley. – Associated Press

Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Gary Peters (Mich.) are requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the potential harms of generative artificial intelligence (AI) as lawmakers mull possible regulations for the booming industry. – The Hill

Social media giants will be hit with millions of dollars in fines if they repeatedly fail to remove disinformation and misinformation from their platforms under a major crackdown by the Albanese government. – Sydney Morning Herald


After decades of neglect, the U.S. government is one step closer to eliminating longstanding obstacles to free health care for veterans from three Pacific Island nations. – New York Times

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a draft version of the annual defense bill on Friday with little fanfare one day after the corresponding House panel cleared its own contentious version of the spending legislation. – The Hill

Kevin Roberts writes: But, in a deeper sense, our mission won’t be complete until we have fully restored the military’s confidence in itself as a formative institution capable of cultivating a warrior ethos in America’s young men. To do so, we must remind our top brass not only what the military exists to do — fight and win — but also who it exists to serve: the people. – Washington Examiner

Beth Bailey writes: When he speaks to fellow veterans about overcoming his PTSD, Lane reminds audiences that “all of us have gone through something difficult.” He urges anyone in the throes of darkness and struggle not to “give up [and] let the enemy win.” Instead, he says, “Live the best life you can … for our brothers and sisters in arms who gave the ultimate sacrifice.” – Washington Examiner