Fdd's overnight brief

June 5, 2023

In The News


Three more Europeans have been released by Iran in return for Iranian diplomat Asadollah Assadi as part of a prisoner swap in which Iran released Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele last week, a spokesperson for the Belgian government said. – Reuters

Iran’s navy commander said his country and Saudi Arabia, as well as three other Gulf states, plan to form a naval alliance that will also include India and Pakistan, Iranian media reported on Saturday. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ramped up threats to attack Iranian nuclear facilities on Sunday, convening a rare cabinet war drill after he accused U.N. inspectors of failing to confront Tehran. – Reuters

The U.S. Navy said Monday its sailors and the United Kingdom Royal Navy came to the aid of a ship in the crucial Strait of Hormuz after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard “harassed” it. – Associated Press

Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday defended his tough approach to the West, saying compromise would only invite further hostility from Iran’s enemies and blaming recent anti-government protests on “thugs and villains.” – Associated Press

Iran is continuing to lie to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the agency’s “capitulation” to Iranian pressure is a “black stain” on its conduct, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. – Bloomberg

An international watchdog’s report that is widely perceived as exonerating Tehran of carrying out illicit nuclear activities is being criticized by Jerusalem, raising the stakes for next week’s meeting of the watchdog’s board of directors.  – New York Sun

The life of a German-Iranian detained in Iran is in danger and she is in such pain she can barely move, a fellow prisoner who is a prominent rights activist said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

The Biden administration’s special envoy for Iran has reportedly held several recent meetings with the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, as Western powers look to restart dialogue with Tehran on its expanding nuclear program. – Times of Israel

US and European powers have resumed discussions on how to engage with Iran over its nuclear activity as fears mount that the Islamic republic’s aggressive expansion of its programme risks triggering a regional war. – Financial Times

Seth J. Frantzman writes: So Zarif feels the Iranian government squandered the good will it had in the West and that it hasn’t successfully been able to play the anti-Israel card. However, by commenting on sensitive historical issues relating to Iran, he appears to have struck a nerve among some nationalists and the IRGC. – Jerusalem Post

David M. Weinberg writes: In the end, Israel must prioritize its most naked, existential security interests – which clearly are stopping Iran’s nuclear bomb effort and scuttling Iran’s attempts to encircle Israel with well-armed proxy armies. Accepting another ruinous US nuclear deal with Iran is not in accordance with these interests. – Jerusalem Post

Sajjad Safaei writes: It remains to be seen whether the emerging conflict of interest between Iran’s armed forces and its hardline political elites will evolve into a full-fledged confrontation. But what is certain is that Iran’s increasingly powerful military-security establishment will find it more and more difficult to stand idly by as hardline political elites propel the country toward another security crisis by recklessly insisting on enforcing unpopular laws that do little more than inflame public opinion. – Foreign Policy

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Today’s Iranian regime may be sitting astride its own Maginot Line — a huge wasted effort that can’t overcome Iran’s internal challenges, economic problems and military-industrial blunders regarding activity such as exporting drones to Russia. – The Messenger

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was now ready to launch a long-awaited counteroffensive but tempered a forecast of success with a warning: It could take some time and come at a heavy cost. – Wall Street Journal

A fresh incursion into Russia’s Belgorod region by Ukraine-backed troops on Sunday, who said they seized territory and captured two Russian soldiers, added to signs of vulnerability in Russia’s defenses on its own territory ahead of a major expected offensive by Ukraine aimed at taking back land occupied by Moscow. – Wall Street Journal

Natalia Hafykina, 60, was so close to her next door neighbors, Vladislav and Natalya Prykhodko, that they celebrated the young couple’s pregnancy together, then the birth of their daughter, Liza. Until now, their small, suburban town, seven miles north of the bustling city of Dnipro, had been peaceful. But on Saturday night, a Russian missile struck their two-story apartment building, cracking slabs of concrete, and shattering walls and windows. – Washington Post

When Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive finally begins, the fight will be led by brigades armed not only with Western weapons but also Western know-how, gleaned from months of training aimed at transforming Ukraine’s military into a modern force skilled in NATO’s most advanced warfare tactics. – Washington Post

The Russian fighters aligned against Moscow who launched a cross-border raid from Ukraine into the Belgorod region of Russia last week used at least four tactical vehicles originally given to Ukraine by the United States and Poland, U.S. officials said, raising questions about the unintended use of NATO-provided equipment and Kyiv’s commitments to secure materiel supplied by its supporters. – Washington Post

Proposals to impose cease-fires or territorial concessions as means to halt the war in Ukraine would serve only to legitimize President Vladimir Putin’s aggression and encourage future assaults, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday as he laid out U.S. strategy for hardening Ukraine against long-term Russian threats. – Washington Post

Like Russia, Ukraine has laid thousands of mines along its front line. And to advance into occupied territory, its troops now need to get through these lines without tipping off the Russians, who would notice if heavy machinery were brought in or explosions were set off. This means sappers must go out to the fields and quietly remove the mines. – Washington Post

A car bomb killed at least one person on Friday night in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine, according to Ukrainian and Russian officials, highlighting the war’s reach far beyond the front lines as Ukrainian partisans aim to undermine their occupiers. – New York Times

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said he met South Korea’s defence minister on Saturday to discuss Ukraine’s needs for ammunition. – Reuters

Indonesia’s defence minister on Saturday proposed a peace plan to end the war in Ukraine, calling for a demilitarised zone and a United Nations referendum in what he called disputed territory. – Reuters

Russia warned the United States on Saturday it should stop brandishing ultimatums over the collapse of arms control agreements, saying Moscow would only return to a nuclear arms reduction treaty if Washington abandons its hostile stance. – Reuters

A purported arms contract seen by Sky News offers the first hard evidence that Iran has sold ammunition to Russia for its war in Ukraine, an informed security source has claimed. – Sky News

Editorial: If and when the U.S. and Russia begin talks, Congress will have an important role in ensuring the Biden administration does not mistake rosy rhetoric for enforceable commitments. But even if our relations with Russia remain terrible in just about every other area, the ideal of nuclear arms control is a worthy one. Perhaps progress between our two nations might lead to international pressure on Beijing to give similar consideration to arms control. – Washington Examiner


Three Israeli soldiers were killed in a rare burst of violence along Israel’s border with Egypt on Saturday, Israeli officials said. – Washington Post

On Sunday, a day after three Israeli soldiers were killed at Israel’s mostly peaceful border with Egypt, the Israeli authorities were examining a series of failures and mishaps that allowed a lone suspect identified by both the Israeli and Egyptian authorities as a member of the Egyptian security forces to cross the heavily fortified boundary undetected, spend several hours inside Israeli territory and kill three Israeli soldiers in two separate locations before being encircled and fatally shot. – New York Times

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Saturday to protest judicial overhaul plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, the most hard-line in Israel’s history. – Associated Press

Israel is expected to renew the memorandum of understanding with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) later this year, the Environmental Protection Ministry said Friday. – Jerusalem Post

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen traveled to the Philippines on Sunday for a historic multi-day visit, the first visit by an Israeli foreign minister in 56 years. He will continue from there to South Korea. The visits follows an important trip to central Europe and also one to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in April. – Jerusalem Post

Knesset Speaker MK Amir Ohana (Likud) will embark on Wednesday on a visit to the Moroccan parliament, the first ever official visit by an Israeli in his position to the parliament of a Muslim country, the Knesset announced on Monday morning. – Jerusalem Post

Hamas on Saturday denounced the decision by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to renew a framework agreement for the year 2023-2024 with the US. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: It is vital that security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Egypt not only continue, but that it is boosted to prevent further incidents and threats to both countries. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: A vital conclusion to this tragic incident needs to be the continuation of security and diplomatic cooperation between Israel and Egypt. Cairo has turned into one of Jerusalem’s most important allies in the region, and despite the pain and anger over the death of the three IDF soldiers, that relationship needs to be maintained. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: It’s one thing to demonstrate against the government and its officials in Israel. It’s another thing – with substantial risks of misinterpretation by the general public – when those protests and their rhetoric are repeated abroad. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In the last weeks there have been several thwarted smuggling attempts from Egypt. These attempts have included more than NIS 300,000 in drugs in one incident and NIS 6 million in another and are in addition to other attempts at drug smuggling earlier this year and in late 2022. Israel and Egypt enjoy close relations and security cooperation. The Sinai, however, has long been a place where there are issues that affect stability – including terror threats, drug gangs and human smuggling. – Jerusalem Post

Tomas Sandell writes: What can we learn from this? By engaging in open and frank dialogue among friends we have a better chance of getting our message across. Like Peres, we need to be more pragmatic than dogmatic. Jews already have too many enemies and do not need to make any new ones. Even when people we distrust approach us in good faith we should not slam the door but rather meet and listen before we make up our mind. – Jerusalem Post

Elliot Friedman writes: Like Kissinger said, we are stuck within a conception. And that conception, the Netanyahu doctrine, does not leave any room for spiritual growth and cultivation. If Israel wants to become the great elder statesman that the world desperately needs it to be, it needs to update its message. It needs to cultivate its main assets, as a Jewish and democratic state. And it needs to craft a message of meaning for the world. – Jerusalem Post


Lebanon’s Hezbollah on Friday denied that five men accused by a military tribunal of killing an Irish U.N. peacekeeper in 2022 were linked to the armed Shi’ite group. – Reuters

The Lebanese armed group Hezbollah put on a display of some of its previously secret arsenal and fighting power last week, extending a rare invitation to the media to visit one of its training sites in southern Lebanon. – Middle East Eye

Assaf Orion writes: Countries that contribute troops to UNIFIL would also do well to reassess the risk to their personnel in case of escalation, since peacekeepers are located in the heart of a potential blazing battle zone. The chances of war are perhaps the highest since 2006, so now is not the time for UN business as usual. – Washington Institute


Iraq and Syria’s foreign ministers discussed ways to help end drug trafficking across their joint border at a meeting in Baghdad on Sunday, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said. – Reuters

Michael Knights writes: The United States can position itself on the right side of history in Iraq if it continues to push back energetically against the worst excesses of the militias that stand behind the current government. Even amid its competition with China and the war in Ukraine, Washington can still use its voice and unmatched financial and intelligence capabilities to weaken antidemocratic forces and give Iraq’s youth, reformers, and anticorruption investigators the opportunity to defend the fragile democracy that still—barely—exists in Iraq. – Foreign Affairs

Amir al-Kaabi and Michael Knights write: Taken together, these developments suggest a near-doubling of registered PMF fighters and their provision with long-term government benefits, plus the extension of the PMF civil works and industrial base, and finally unprecedented intelligence-gathering arrangements without oversight. As Falah al-Fayyadh’s muddying of hiring numbers suggests, the PMF and self-styled resistance (muqawama) are wary of being seen to expand too quickly, even against the backdrop of an unprecedented mega-budget. However, the breakneck speed of PMF expansion is impossible to hide. – Washington Institute


President Tayyip Erdogan signalled on Saturday his newly-elected government would return to more orthodox economic policies when he named Mehmet Simsek to his cabinet to tackle Turkey’s cost-of-living crisis and other strains. – Reuters

Turkey’s newly appointed Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Sunday that the country has no choice but to return to “rational ground” to ensure predictability in the economy. – Reuters

Turkey’s lira slid almost 1% on Monday in thin trading during the Asian day to weaken past 21 per dollar, in a shaky initial reaction to the appointment of highly-regarded Mehmet Simsek as finance minister. – Reuters


Lebanon’s disparate opposition, independent and main Christian parties said on Sunday they had nominated IMF official Jihad Azour for the presidency in a challenge to Hezbollah-backed candidate Suleiman Franjieh. – Reuters

A son of Libya’s late leader Moammar Gadhafi, who has been held in Lebanon for more than seven years, began a hunger strike Saturday to protest his detention without trial, his lawyer said. – Associated Press

Álvaro Vargas Llosa writes: In 2019, the Lebanese took to the streets in what is known as “the October Revolution” to denounce a system that had destroyed the middle class. What started as a revolt against a financial crisis brought about by central-bank-induced financial engineering, under which the government had lived beyond its means for too long, turned into a broad insurgence against the collusion of political, financial and business interests. But four years later, nothing has changed much. Yet the people have survived. For the moment, they seem too busy earning a living to take up the fight again. – The Hill

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia said Sunday it would cut 1 million barrels of oil a day as part of a deal between OPEC and its allies after one of the most contentious production meetings in recent years amid concerns over slowing global energy demand. – Wall Street Journal

With two high-level visits in less than a month, the United States is hoping to steady ties with Saudi Arabia after several years of disagreement and deepening mistrust. – Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Riyadh next week, with warming ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia on the agenda for talks with senior Gulf officials. – Agence France-Presse

Bobby Ghosh writes: For now, it is sufficient to US purposes that Israel and Saudi Arabia cooperate surreptitiously on a wide range of military and intelligence initiatives. They could certainly benefit from more open association, especially in trade. But the Biden administration should leave it to the Saudis and Israelis to get there in their own time. – Bloomberg


Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) stepped up drone strikes on Friday against what it said were smuggling gangs in western regions, attacking targets in Zawia, Zuwara, Ajeelat and Maya. – Reuters

Eastern Libyan forces have expelled thousands of Egyptians who were in Libya illegally in recent days, deporting them to Egypt on foot across the land border, an Egyptian security source and an eastern Libyan security source said. – Reuters

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Friday renewing the European Union’s permission to inspect vessels off Libya’s coast suspected of violating the an arms embargo on the troubled North African nation. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

Jordan gave the world an atypically intimate look inside the ritzy wedding of Crown Prince Hussein and his Saudi wife, whose nuptials this week provided a glamorous diversion for a country struggling through a long period of economic hardship and political tensions. – Washington Post

Syria’s opposition urged on Sunday the resumption of moribund United Nations-sponsored talks with the regime of President Bashar Assad, who has returned to the Arab fold after years of isolation. – Agence France-Presse

Non-oil private sector activity in Egypt contracted for the 30th straight month in May, weighed down by continued high inflation and weak demand, a survey showed on Monday. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates is arbitrarily detaining 12 human rights activists who have already completed prison terms handed down over an alleged plot to overthrow the government, a U.N. document said on Friday. – Reuters

Stephen M. Flatow writes: The other residents of Jenin likewise have been fed a diet of hate. If the PA had educated them for peace, they would have been ashamed that one of their own became a terrorist. Instead, they treated Ibrahim as a hero and martyr. Huge crowds attended his funeral procession. Jenin city officials proclaimed a daylong general strike to honor him. Instead of rejecting the terrorist, they embraced and glorified him. That’s what 30 years of PA education has done to the residents of Jenin. – Jerusalem Post

Kim Ghattas writes: No one wants a return to the bombastic freedom agenda of the George W. Bush administration, but the Biden administration should rethink how the Middle East fits into the broader struggle to counter authoritarianism. The Middle East’s new autocratic order may seem convenient for the U.S. right now, but the people’s silence is only temporary. – The Atlantic

Leon Hadar writes: Israel may have established the periphery alliance in the 1950s as a tool against its Arab rivals. But it seems that today a return to that alliance goes through reconciliation with the Arab World. Or, to put it differently, to reach the second circle in the Middle East, Israel has to make peace with the first. – The National Interest

Mordechai Chaziza writes: What is certain, however, is that China is still the largest foreign investor in the Middle East, and it is likely to continue to play a critical role in the region’s development. The emphasis on digital infrastructure is something that most Western observers are perhaps unaware of and would do well to consider. In the meantime, as the BRI’s tenth anniversary passes by, China will take stock of its original agenda and make necessary adjustments to align with its current domestic and global priorities. The Middle East will remain a key region for the BRI, and it is evident that Beijing will continue its engagement for years to come. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s new wave of propaganda suggests that it has succeeded in miniaturizing its nuclear warheads and made its missiles easier to launch and harder to intercept. The claims — not fully corroborated — show the country is on a path that is worrying to its neighbors, and to the United States. – New York Times

China and Russia on Friday ignored a U.S. call for the U.N. Security Council to unite in condemning North Korea for its attempted satellite launch this week and instead blamed Washington for raising tensions on the Korean peninsula. – Reuters

South Korea’s defence minister said on Saturday that some countries were “ignoring North Korea’s unlawful behaviour”, which he said threatens to weaken U.N. sanctions against its missile and nuclear programmes. – Reuters

North Korea denounced on Sunday the U.N. Security Council for discussing its recent satellite launch in response to a “gangster-like U.S. request”, and it vowed to reject sanctions and take action to defend itself. – Reuters

Japan and South Korea agreed on Sunday to quickly resolve disputes over past military encounters that stand in the way of closer security cooperation, Japan’s defence minister said at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore. – Reuters

The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed again Sunday to push for a second attempt to launch a spy satellite as she lambasted a U.N. Security Council meeting over the North’s first, failed launch. – Associated Press

North Korea says advance notice of its satellite launches is “no longer necessary,” hitting out after international criticism of Pyongyang’s recent attempt to put a spy satellite in orbit. – Bloomberg

As South Korea airs rising concerns over the North Korean leader’s health, drinking, and weight, Kim Jong-un’s younger sister is pouring out a stream of invective against America for what she calls its “hackneyed gibberish” denouncing the North’s failed attempt at launching a spy satellite. – New York Sun


China’s defense minister rebuked Washington for actions he said were disturbing peace in the Asia-Pacific region, while the U.S. military said a Chinese destroyer had “executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner” near an American warship transiting the Taiwan Strait, highlighting the tensions between the two powers. – Wall Street Journal

A bloody shirt, ripped banners and other evidence of Beijing’s June 4, 1989, crackdown on students in Tiananmen Square went on display this week in New York City, in the latest action by Chinese political dissidents in the Big Apple. It has been 34 years since China’s pro-democracy movement was crushed in a hail of gunfire by the People’s Liberation Army. But new momentum in New York to commemorate the crackdown illustrates how America’s biggest city has become the main stage globally to campaign against Beijing’s Communist Party leadership. – Wall Street Journal

When a Chinese jet fighter banked 400 feet in front of a U.S. spy plane flying over the South China Sea last week, it was the latest close encounter between the rival military powers highlighting the risk of escalation. – Wall Street Journal

Senior military officials from the United States and China used a conference in Singapore to push competing visions of Asia’s future security: a U.S.-led safety net of well-armed partnerships versus a region where China is the center of a new international order. – New York Times

The United States pressed Beijing on two fronts this weekend, warning both of the near-term risks of military mishaps and of the looming dangers of a nuclear arms rivalry, prompting a vehement accusation from a Chinese general that Washington was stoking confrontation. – New York Times

The White House will renew its effort to draw China into discussions about entering arms control talks, President Biden’s national security adviser said on Friday, and will attempt to establish a global accord that specifies that artificial intelligence programs can never be used to authorize the use of nuclear weapons without a human in the decision loop. – New York Times

A Chinese state-backed newspaper criticised the visit of a senior U.S. State Department official to China, saying his visit was motivated more by Washington’s own goal to portray itself as the side seeking communication and not Beijing. – Reuters

Editorial: The risk of an accidental confrontation is growing, but so is the risk that China will perceive weakness if Mr. Biden responds to its provocations by appeasing Mr. Xi. A war in the Western Pacific would be a disaster for the world. But the Chinese war hawks need to understand that their military provocations make it harder for a U.S. Administration to pursue bilateral detente. – Wall Street Journal

Elisabeth Braw writes: Such transactions matter as much as Chinese purchases of US farmland that some members of Congress rightly worry about, and as much as the transactions CFIUS scrutinizes on national security grounds. The Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party and other congressional committees should seek out questioning individuals at the grassroots and listen to them. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Benjamin Van Horrick writes: While the most recent fall and spring campaigning efforts involved many noteworthy successes, the joint force needs to do more and in short order. As Indo-Pacific Commander Adm. John C. Aquillino recently stated, when it comes to deterring Beijing, “everything needs to go faster.” Doing so requires the joint force to first focus on the inherent natural obstacles, both from the sky and the sea, standing between China and Taiwan. Next, the joint force should double down on the historic, nascent, and proposed efforts describe above. Washington cannot afford to keep planning and executing these exercises in isolation. Rather they should be one seamless and collective joint and allied campaign ruthlessly conveying the message to Beijing: not today, not tomorrow, not ever. – War on the Rocks

Joseph Bosco writes: If strategic ambiguity is not finally ended, it would lead to major strategic miscalculation on China’s part — precisely the opposite of what Nye thought he was achieving with his opaque formulation. Nye explained years later he wanted to prevent a repetition of the communists’ mistake in 1950 — Kissinger said the Korean War erupted because “we did not expect the invasion; China did not expect our reply.” – Taipei Times

South Asia

Before Sept. 11, 2001, this remote, sand-swept border city in southwestern Afghanistan was the seat of power of the Taliban, the militant Islamic regime headed by the reclusive Mohammad Omar. […]Now there are indications that Taliban leaders under Akhundzada are making Kandahar their base from which to control the country, signaling the declining influence of more-moderate Taliban members in the capital as the regime doubles down on repressive policies. – Washington Post

Pakistan has passed a special order to allow barter trade with Afghanistan, Iran and Russia for certain goods, including petroleum and natural gas, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday. – Reuters

Pakistan’s embattled former Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the powerful military and its intelligence agency of openly trying to destroy his political party, saying he had “no doubt” he would be tried in a military court and thrown in jail. – Reuters

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack in northwest Pakistan that left two soldiers and two militants dead. The army said in a statement that militants opened fire on a security checkpoint Saturday evening in the Jani Khel area of Bannu district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, leading to a shootout with Pakistani troops. A search operation was underway to track the militants behind the attack. – Associated Press

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday discussed upgrading partnership with India, a major arms buyer, as both countries grapple with China’s economic rise and increased belligerence, officials said. – Associated Press


The United States and United Nations on Friday criticized Vietnam’s detention of members of an environmental group including its founder, saying such actions were part of a broader trend toward curbing free speech. – Reuters

Cooperation, including among countries outside the region, is crucial to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, defence officials from the Philippines, Britain and Canada said on Saturday at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit. – Reuters

Top officials from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Britain said on Saturday that their 52-year-old Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) pact helped keep things in balance amid regional tensions. – Reuters

Japan will not use its growing military strength to threaten other countries, its defence minister said on Saturday, while affirming its aim to prioritise diplomatic efforts and dialogue to avert misunderstandings. – Reuters

Russia’s Pacific Fleet forces have started operational exercises in the waters of the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk that will last until June 20, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

Germany will send two warships to the Indo-Pacific in 2024, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Sunday, amid rising tensions between China and Taiwan and over the disputed South China Sea. – Reuters

Pope Francis is traveling to Mongolia at the end of the summer, a visit that will be a first for a pontiff and one rich in geopolitical significance given its proximity to Russia and China. – Associated Press

Suzanne Loftus writes: China’s plan for Central Asia risks setting the stage for a new domain of great power competition in the Global South. The United States should refrain from taking the bait, as it were, and should apply similar pragmatism and restraint to other nations in the world that have chosen to be non-aligned in this renewed global struggle. If Washington tries to pressure them into allying with America, it may actually end up driving them into the arms of China and Russia. – The National Interest


Protests in Serbia over back-to-back mass shootings last month ballooned on Saturday into the biggest street demonstrations in the capital, Belgrade, since demonstrators toppled Slobodan Milosevic as Serbia’s president in 2000. – New York Times

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on Saturday called on China to stop enlisting former German military pilots for the training of its own forces. – Reuters

A senior aide to U.S. President Joe Biden expressed concern about events in northern Kosovo in calls with Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, the White House said on Friday. – Reuters

Turkey plans to send commandos to Kosovo on Sunday and Monday in response to a NATO request to join the alliance’s KFOR peacekeeping force following unrest in the north of the country, the Turkish defence ministry said. – Reuters

An agreement on Sweden joining NATO could be reached in time for a summit of the alliance next month in Lithuania, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday after meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. – Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in an anti-government protest in Poland’s capital on Sunday, with citizens traveling from across the country to voice their anger at officials who they say have eroded democratic norms and created fears that the nation is following Hungary and Turkey down the path to autocracy. – Associated Press

With friends like Hungary, does Ukraine really need enemies? New remarks from the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, about the direction of the war in Ukraine could catapult that question beyond rhetorical territory. – New York Sun

Radek Sikorski writes: We will go on fighting to defend our democracy. But it would certainly help if our friends in Europe and the United States could keep reminding our government that Poland was invited into Western institutions with the understanding it would remain solidly democratic — and that reneging on the deal can get you suspended. As we fight together for Ukraine’s right to choose its own democratic future, we need to be all the more vigilant in protecting democratic norms in our home countries, too. – Washington Post


The government of Senegal said on Friday that it has deployed the military in the capital, Dakar, and other cities and shut down social media platforms in response to Thursday’s deadly clashes between protesters and security forces — a new escalation of tensions rarely seen in the West African country. – New York Times

Sudanese paramilitary fighters have taken over the national museum in Khartoum, its deputy director said on Saturday, urging them to protect precious artefacts from the nation’s heritage that include ancient mummies. – Reuters

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni said on Saturday that 54 Ugandan peacekeepers were killed in an attack last week by militant group al Shabaab on a military base in Somalia. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry and the United States called on Sudan’s warring factions to agree to a new ceasefire and make efforts to implement it effectively, the Saudi ministry and the U.S. said on Sunday. – Reuters

Fighting intensified in several areas of Khartoum on Sunday after a ceasefire deal expired, residents of Sudan’s capital reported, and activists said a new outburst of violence in North Darfur state had left at least 40 people dead. – Reuters

Gunmen in Nigeria have killed dozens of people and kidnapped a number of children in separate attacks in two northern states, police and residents said on Sunday, the latest incidents in a region dogged by armed violence. – Reuters

Violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has made Burkina Faso a country with one of the world’s fastest-growing populations of internally displaced people, with the number mushrooming by more than 2,000% since 2019, according to government data. – Associated Press

Extremist rebels in eastern Congo killed at least nine people with knives and guns, a civil society organization said Friday. – Associated Press

Fabrice Houdart writes: Sadly, they are right. The World Bank must quickly send a strong signal to Uganda. It must clarify that it will not engage with countries that bar marginalized communities from participating in and benefiting from the fruits of development. – Washington Post

Latin America

Guatemalan judges have banned four opposition presidential candidates from participating in elections this month, including the front-runner, in another development drawing criticism from the U.S. and other countries about democratic backsliding in the poor Central American country. – Wall Street Journal

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office vowing to investigate Mexico’s worst human rights scandals. And none was graver than the Dirty War waged by security forces from the 1960s to the 1980s, in which hundreds of suspected leftist guerrillas were tortured and disappeared, some tossed off planes into the Pacific Ocean. – Washington Post

China has signed a cooperation agreement with Argentina on promoting the joint construction of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, China’s state planner said on Friday. – Reuters

U.S. aviation regulators finished a review of Mexico’s airspace safety but have not yet announced a final decision, Mexico’s transportation ministry said on Friday, more than two years after the country was stripped of its top air rating. – Reuters

Panama launched a police operation on Friday at its border with Colombia to fight organized crime and human smuggling linked to the growing flow of migrants crossing the dangerous jungle of the Darien Gap. – Reuters

Mexico said on Friday it would counter U.S. arguments over agriculture biotech measures, including plans to limit its use of genetically modified (GM) corn, in trade dispute settlement consultations requested by Washington earlier in the day. – Reuters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will visit Paris on June 22 and 23, the office of French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday. The leaders will meet as part of the “Summit for a New Global Financial Pact”, which will tackle reform of multilateral development banks (MDB), the debt crisis, financing for green technologies, the creation of new international taxes and financing instruments, and special drawing rights. – Reuters

Perpetual misery in Venezuela is dividing South America’s leaders along generational lines as older comrades, led by President Lula da Silva of Brazil, cheer on the Chavistas, while younger presidents sour on the Bolivarian revolution’s humanitarian horrors. – New York Sun

United States

The United States does not believe it needs to increase the size of its own nuclear arsenal in order to deter the combined forces of Russia, China and other rivals, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday. – Reuters

America watched and cringed as President Biden took another unceremonious tumble last week, the ignominy of the president’s fall matched only by the reflexive apologia of more than a few of the nation’s leading scribes. But away from the headlines someone else has been stumbling with possibly more consequential impact — the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. – New York Sun

Fareed Zakaria writes: This is the new world. It is not characterized by the decline of America “but rather the rise of everyone else” (as I wrote in 2008). Vast parts of the globe that were once pawns on the chessboard are now players and intend to choose their own, often proudly self-interested, moves. They will not be easily cowed or cajoled. They have to be persuaded — with policies that are practiced at home and not just preached abroad. Navigating this international arena is the great challenge of U.S. diplomacy. Is Washington up to the task? – Washington Post

Anne Pierce writes: Post-Cold War American foreign policy has generally been reactive rather than preemptive, lacking grand strategy or inspiring rhetoric. The world suffers when American foreign policy is unwise or unreliable and would benefit from a foreign policy revival, one that builds upon America’s best post-World War II traditions and, at the same time, finds new-age solutions for post-Cold War challenges. – The National Interest


Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said on Saturday that the country’s critical infrastructure was increasingly being targeted by cyberattacks, posing a significant threat to the economy of the world’s fourth-largest crude oil producer. – Reuters

The U.S. government issued sanctions on Friday against an Iranian cloud technology provider accused of “facilitating” Tehran’s internet censorship, as well as an affiliated company and two employees. – The Record

Intelligence agencies from the U.S. and South Korea have issued a warning that describes the spying methods of Kimsuky, a notorious North Korean nation-state hacking group that targets think tanks, academia and news media. – The Record

A major lender in Spain said it is dealing with a ransomware attack affecting several offices. – The Record

A legal document platform used by several arms of the U.S. government is investigating claims by a ransomware group that it has been attacked. – The Record

Hackers suspected to be living in Brazil are using a previously unidentified botnet called to target the email inboxes of Spanish speakers across the Americas. – The Record

Several city services in Dallas have been reinstated since a ransomware attack took down several agencies on May 3, but the pace of progress highlights how devastating the incident has been. – The Record


Dissatisfied with the $886 billion military budget laid out in the debt ceiling bill, defense hawks are looking to channel additional funds to the Pentagon through supplemental spending packages. – Defense News

The Defense Innovation Unit expects to fly an experimental hypersonic cruise vehicle as early as next summer in support of the Pentagon’s drive to boost its flight-test cadence. – Defense News

The Navy fleet’s overall material condition declined slightly in fiscal 2022, “resuming a slight but steady negative trend” that has occurred since fiscal 2017, according to the Navy’s annual Board of Inspection and Survey, or INSURV, report released by the Navy on Friday. – Defense News

Editorial: The moment is ripe for a Republican presidential candidate to explain these realities to voters. Speaker Kevin McCarthy drove the best bargain he could with Mr. Biden, and the deal is better than default. But the Speaker’s line that the deal “fully” funds national defense is wrong and makes it harder to tell Americans the truth, which is that the U.S. is drifting into a dangerous period with a vulnerable military. – Wall Street Journal

Seth Cropsey writes: Third, and most critically, the U.S. must rehearse the rapid deployment of American forces to Taiwan. This would skirt the Sino-American understanding of the island, but the U.S. must assure that Taiwan can endure the weeks of combat between a Chinese first strike and an American and allied counter. The Ukraine war has upended the conventional wisdom that legacy systems no longer matter, especially as Ukraine begins targeting sites within Russia. That lesson also would apply in a conflict in the Taiwan Strait. – Wall Street Journal

Roger Zakheim writes: The Chinese Communist Party is pressing forward to replace the U.S. as the dominant military power in the Indo-Pacific. Now is not the time to retreat from the competition because Congress failed to agree on how much it ought to spend to keep its lights on. – Wall Street Journal

Glenn C. Altschuler writes: The Senate has not shown much appetite for reforms of its antiquated procedures. But maybe, just maybe, national security considerations and a dose of common sense will persuade enough of them to take this small but consequential step forward. – The Hill

Long War

Groups of Australian women and children stranded in detention camps in Syria launched a joint legal bid on Monday to be repatriated. – Agence France-Presse

A 19-year-old man has been given life with a minimum term of six years for planning to stab police and soldiers. Police believe Matthew King, who converted to extreme Islamism during lockdown, could have been hours away from carrying out an attack when they arrested him. – BBC

Aaron Y. Zelin writes: There is also no U.S. precedent for delisting a jihadist group while it is still an active entity. Therefore, even if interests may converge between the United States, Turkey, and HTS on key fronts—such as the Assad regime’s unpalatability, the need for greater humanitarian assistance in northwest Syria, and the desire to stem larger refugee flows into Turkey and then onto Europe—the latest designation suggests that this is not enough to overcome deeper concerns about HTS in Washington or Ankara. – Washington Institute