Fdd's overnight brief

June 9, 2021

In The News


Iran’s seven presidential candidates on Tuesday put all the problems of the Islamic Republic squarely on the shoulders of the one man who wasn’t there to defend himself: Outgoing President Hassan Rouhani. – Associated Press

Iran on Tuesday rejected as interference a reported U.S. monitoring of Iranian navy vessels that may be headed to Venezuela, saying Tehran would not be breaching international law even if it sent arms to its Latin American ally. – Reuters

Iran’s policy in talks with world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear accord will remain unchanged after a June 18 presidential election because the issue is decided by its highest leadership, a government spokesman said on Tuesday. – Reuters

A host of barriers to the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal remain firmly in place ahead of talks due to resume this week between Tehran and world powers, suggesting a return to compliance with the 2015 accord is still a way off, four diplomats, two Iranian officials and two analysts say. – Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the indirect negotiations between the US and Iran about return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, and said that, “we don’t know at this stage whether Iran is willing and able to do what it would need to do to come back into compliance.” – Jerusalem Post

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that “hundreds” of US sanctions will remain on Iran even if the United States rejoins the 2015 nuclear accord. – Associated Press

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of US Central Command, on Monday warned about Iran’s destabilizing activities and the roles of Russia and China in the Middle East. – Jerusalem Post

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen has expressed grave concern that the West will go easy on Iran regarding the nuclear issue and its destabilizing the Middle East. – Jerusalem Post

New activity at known Iranian nuclear sites worries those seeking a new nuclear deal. A sixth round of indirect talks about a return to the JCPOA is slated for Thursday. – Fox News

Iran’s ambassador to Vienna-based international organizations, Kazem Gharibabadi, on Tuesday criticized a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran’s nuclear activities as “political”, the Xinhua news agency reports. – Arutz Sheva

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s plan to rehabilitate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal gives away leverage needed to curtail the regime’s general aggression, according to a top Senate Democrat. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran may be suffering a spate of simple sabotage. This may not be due to complex Israeli-sponsored attacks on Iran’s infrastructure, but rather the tendency of average Iranians, fed up with their fanatical regime, to permit key facilities to fall apart and naval vessels to catch fire. – Newsweek

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran may want destabilization and to sing the praises of Hamas and launder statements from Gaza to assert its willingness to challenge Israel. But it will have to calculate carefully how to do that. – Jerusalem Post

Ben Dubow writes: With the rise of Raisi, the world can expect a more combative Iran. For Russia, that means staving off any possible rise in Western influence in Iran and so state media has pushed a narrative of a stronger, safer world across the Russian sphere of influence. For Turkey, Raisi represents the further degradation of a deeply adversarial relationship. Turkish outlets have sought to cut off support for Raisi before the election has begun. In relations with Russia and Turkey, a Raisi presidency seems guaranteed to amplify existing tensions. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Peter Suciu writes: Past efforts to sail around the Cape of Good Hope have ended in failure for Iran, but the Middle Eastern country is clearly redoubling its efforts. […]Moreover, closer ties between Iran and Venezuela could allow the Islamic Republic to establish a true foothold near to the United States. That would certainly be a serious concern for the U.S. Navy—but first Tehran needs to prove its vessels can actually make the trip and return home safely. – The National Interest


Dozens of displaced people in rebel-held northwest Syria on Tuesday protested efforts by Damascus and its allies to end humanitarian aid crossing from Turkey into the impoverished war-ravaged enclave. – Associated Press

At least eight people were reportedly killed overnight Wednesday in Israeli airstrikes in Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — a pro-Syrian opposition organization of uncertain funding based in the UK — the fighters were killed in Homs Province in central Syria. – Times of Israel

In the recent months, the Caesar Act has apparently had a tangible impact on Syria, diminishing the Assad regime’s revenues and precipitating a severe energy crisis. Despite this, the regime is refusing to succumb to the pressure, and is trying to reassure the public in the areas under its control that the sanctions are less damaging than they seem. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The expert interviewees in an article by Gazeta.ru’s correspondent Lydia Misnik prefer to speak of cooperation between Russia and China, but they still acknowledge the likelihood of Chinese investments in the Syrian petroleum industry and the appearance of private Chinese military contractors – two areas that would put the Chinese in competition with Russia. – Middle East Media Research Institute 


Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said on Tuesday that a closure case against it for alleged ties to militants was a “political operation”. – Reuters

Since Turkey launched a new military campaign in northern Iraq on April 23, three civilians have been killed and four wounded. Amongst those, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a senior official from Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). – Agence France-Presse

Sinan Ulgen writes: For such a deal to work, Biden would need to convince Congress to amend the NDAA. In return, Erdogan will need to fully accept the strict conditions regulating the use of the S-400 system in the future. Progress, or lack of it, on this issue will define the first meeting of the two presidents — and perhaps the future of relations between their countries. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: It is not clear whether Inandi remains alive. Either way, Blinken’s silence undercuts the moral authority of his Khashoggi stance. It suggests his anger was more feigned than real and motivated more by hatred of Saudi authorities than by a desire to stand up for faith and freedom. Time is running out. It is time for Blinken to speak out on Inandi’s case. He could start by imposing Khashoggi ban sanctions on the man who now most deserves them: Recep Tayyip Erdogan. – Washington Examiner


Israeli security forces guard the streets of Lod, weeks after rioters torched patrol cars, synagogues and homes. Attackers who killed an Arab and a Jewish resident are still at large. And a mayor whom some blame for setting the stage for some of the worst domestic unrest in Israeli history remains in office. – Associated Press

Hamas worked on a device to disrupt the Iron Dome missile-defense system in the same Gaza building that housed the Associated Press and was bombed by Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls, Ambassador to the UN and US Gilad Erdan said Monday night. – Jerusalem Post

The Biden administration is actively involved in encouraging more Arab states to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

The high-level security cabinet on Tuesday evening announced the contentious flag march planned in Jerusalem would be permitted to take place in one week, if police approve the route. – Times of Israel

Israel will make efforts to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank while weakening Hamas, outgoing Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a press briefing on Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen suggested on Monday that it was a mistake to rely on Qatari funds in an effort to bring calm to the Gaza Strip. “Until Operation Guardian of the Walls, we had hoped that Qatari involvement and Qatari money would lead us to a settlement with Hamas,” Cohen said in a speech to the Israeli Friends of Bar-Ilan University on Monday evening, according to the Walla news site. “But things got a little out of control.” – Times of Israel

In recent meetings with US Jewish leaders, senior Israeli officials both within and outside the government expressed their satisfaction with the Biden administration’s handling of last month’s Israel-Gaza conflict, while conveying significant concern regarding trends in the Democratic Party, where criticism of Israel has increasingly gone mainstream. – Times of Israel

The Hamas terror group and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) still have enough rockets and fighters to wage additional week-long or even months-long conflicts following the recent hostilities with Israel, according to an assessment by Le Beck, a Middle East-based geopolitical and security consultancy. – Algemeiner

Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MI) was slammed on social media Tuesday after explicitly comparing the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban, suggesting all should face “justice” for human rights abuses. – Algemeiner

Palestinian Authority Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein said that martyrdom is a badge of honor that Allah bestows upon those whom He has chosen. Sheikh Hussein made these remarks in a speech he delivered in a Ramallah event in honor of the “martyrs” of Gaza and Jerusalem, which aired on Palestine TV on May 25, 2021. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Mark Episkopos writes: Israel’s conventional and specially modified F-35 fleet is poised to greatly enhance Jerusalem’s ability to project power in the region, as it strives to hold on to the mantle of the best Air Force in the Middle East into the coming decades. – The National Interest


Lebanon’s central bank said Tuesday that depositors will be allowed to withdraw limited monthly amounts from their foreign currency accounts, nearly 20 months after banks denied them access amid a severe financial crisis. – Associated Press

France will convene a virtual meeting of countries on June 17 to drum up support for the Lebanese army as it seeks to weather an economic crisis that has put the military on the verge of collapse, France’s armed forces ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned that the terrorist organization is working to reach a new equation in which any attack on Jerusalem will lead to a regional war, during his second speech in two weeks on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Ravaged by 110 percent inflation, the Lebanese military has run out of money to feed its troops and troops salaries have plunged in value to the point where they are no longer enough to cover the cost of living. – Breaking Defense

Gulf States

A US-based lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman centred on a Caribbean oil refinery, but unexpectedly highlighted something else — the disappearance of his main rival. – Agence France-Presse

For a decade, the United Arab Emirates has been the Arab world’s most muscular regional actor, deploying its petrodollar wealth and military power to bolster allies and weaken foes. But after the coronavirus pandemic hit the Gulf state’s economy and underscored its linkages to global trade, its focus was shifting from robust intervention, including militarily, to “economic” diplomacy, two people briefed on the strategy shift said. – Financial Times

Drones are an increasing threat to US forces in Iraq. There have been at least four drone attacks, most recently on Sunday, when drones, likely operated by Iranian-backed militias, attacked Ain al-Asad Airbase. They were shot down. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Tuesday for the first in a series of talks this week between Egyptian authorities and Palestinian factions that aims to reinforce a ceasefire with Israel, Palestinian and Egyptian sources said. – Reuters

Jordan’s foreign ministry said that two Jordanians arrested in Israel last month, in what Israel said was a plot to attack Israelis, were repatriated on Tuesday. – Associated Press

The Houthis arrested a Mossad spy in Yemen and plan to release documents over the next few days about the spy’s operations in the country, the terrorist group’s spokesperson, Brig.-Gen. Yahya Saree, announced on Tuesday, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

Behind its self-imposed coronavirus barricade, North Korea is more isolated than ever and authorities are reinforcing loyalty to the regime in the face of desperate times, analysts say. – Agence France-Presse

China and Russia have signaled a greater desire to work together on the issues plaguing the neighboring Korean Peninsula amid uncertainties that continue to surround U.S. President Joe Biden’s approach to the region. – Newsweek

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presented economic plans to senior ruling party officials before an upcoming meeting to review efforts to overcome hardships brought about by the pandemic, state media said Tuesday. – Associated Press


The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation on Tuesday that would pour nearly a quarter-trillion dollars over the next five years into scientific research and development to bolster competitiveness against China. – New York Times

China’s top diplomats have castigated their American counterparts for hypocrisy and condescension. They icily reminded Europeans of the continent’s experience with genocide. They just accused New Zealand, a country that had been careful not to cause offense, of “gross interference” in China’s affairs. – New York Times

Beijing decried a U.S. bill to curtail China’s economic and military ambitions, as Chinese lawmakers meet this week to discuss measures to counter U.S. sanctions. – Washington Post

Foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China agreed during a meeting to exercise restraint in the South China Sea and avoid actions that could escalate tensions, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said on Tuesday. – Reuters

China’s Defence Ministry on Tuesday denounced a brief weekend visit by three U.S. senators to Chinese-claimed Taiwan on a U.S. military aircraft as a “vile political provocation” that was irresponsible and dangerous. – Reuters

The growing use of these Chinese technologies around the world is one of the issues that will provide a backdrop to Friday’s G7 summit in Cornwall, where the leading democratic nations will swap notes on how best to respond to China’s growing global reach. – Financial Times

The Biden administration is considering an investigation into whether imports of rare earth magnets made largely in China pose a national security threat that could warrant the imposition of tariffs. – Financial Times

China made a “huge strategic blunder” when it retaliated against Europe by imposing sanctions on EU politicians, former top White House trade negotiator Clete Willems said.  – CNBC

In late April, Massachusetts-based businessman Qin Shuren became the latest person to plead guilty in the Justice Department’s crackdown on the illegal export of strategic technologies. […]The case is just one part of a long trail of open-source evidence that illustrates a larger issue: U.S. technology being used to advance Chinese military ends. – Defense One

Two new buildings appear to have been built in a matter of weeks at Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, where that construction and demolition of US-funded buildings have raised concerns about a looming Chinese presence. – Business Insider

David Von Drehle writes: One might imagine that China would see the value of limited government and free people. After all, economic liberalization has produced impressive advances, while central planning has produced one epic failure after another. But no: President Xi Jinping has moved to consolidate his authority, crack down on dissent and create the world’s most advanced surveillance state. More than 1 million Muslims have been locked up in re-education camps in western China. Some people never learn. – Washington Post

Joseph Bosco writes: If it concludes that a release of the virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the most likely explanation, it must not shy away from determining whether the subsequent pandemic was purely accidental or was a form of biological warfare from China. […]Given Biden’s hopscotching back and forth between Clinton-Bush-Obama engagement policies and Trump pushback, it is not yet clear where the spinning Biden policy will end up — but the consequences for U.S. national security are immense. – The Hill

Pierre Morcos writes: In his remarks at the Munich Security Conference, President Biden set a clear priority for U.S. allies, saying, “We must prepare together for a long-term strategic competition with China.” If NATO is to play a meaningful role in this collective endeavor, allies must have a better understanding of the security implications of China’s rise, increase political coordination between allies and with NATO’s partners, and enhance cooperation with the European Union. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

James Di Pane and Alex June write: China’s behavior toward the Philippines indicates that it wants to dominate the region through gray-zone tactics. Although the U.S. cannot singlehandedly resolve the complicated dispute in the South China Sea, maintaining that presence will help keep the region open and free, and that will benefit America. – Daily Signal


At least 10 people were killed and 16 others injured in an armed attack on staff members of a British-American charity in Afghanistan that has been clearing land mines in the country for decades, officials said on Wednesday. – New York Times

Security forces opened fire Tuesday on dozens of demonstrators in northeastern Afghanistan demanding clean tap water and electricity, killing three and injuring 42 others, protesters and provincial authorities said. – Associated Press

Advocates for Americans held hostage overseas are raising concerns that the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan will make it harder to bring home captives from the country. – Associated Press

Turkey has offered to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States and other NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but U.S. officials say Ankara is imposing conditions which need to be resolved as their leaders prepare to meet next week. – Reuters

In a conference call with international journalists, U.S. Central Commander Gen. Frank McKenzie said the U.S. and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan has reached the halfway point, and negotiations continue with “friends in the region” for bases to continue a counterterrorism mission after U.S. troops depart. – Washington Examiner

In the article – titled “Talibanization In Afghanistan Could Explode Central Asia” and published by the Afghan news website ToloNews.com – Khattak noted that the U.S. has not changed its policy toward the Afghan Taliban even after Joe Biden took over as president in January 2021. Khattak, a respected intellectual, added: “Some analysts go even further. They regard the emerging U.S.-Taliban nexus as the sign of a new Cold War in Eurasia.” – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Lauren Woods and Elias Yousif write: Despite commonality in material, institutions, and subject matter, warfighting and security assistance are two vastly different undertakings. […]With the U.S. engaged in active combat in at least 14 countries, and perhaps more depending on terms of classification, it is not inconceivable that the United States will find itself in this position again. If it must, it will be essential for policymakers to build a strategy that accounts for and de-conflicts the separate objectives of winning a war and developing the forces necessary to do so. – The National Interest

Thomas Parker writes: In any case, the U.S. government should be prepared for the likelihood that international terrorist groups will be emboldened by the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. The Taliban flag flying over Kabul will act as an inspiration for militants throughout the Islamic world—while instilling fear and sometimes terror for many Afghans. – Washington Institute


Myanmar’s Kayah State could suffer a “massive” loss of life beyond anything seen since the military seized power, with more than 100,000 people fleeing their homes to escape conflict, a U.N. human rights investigator warned on Wednesday. – Reuters

President Joe Biden’s policy coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region said on Tuesday the situation inside military-ruled Myanmar was deeply concerning and continuing to get worse and the United States was looking at all possible scenarios there. – Reuters

China will always support Myanmar in choosing its own developmental path, Chinese senior diplomat Wang yi told his Myanmar counterpart on Tuesday. – Reuters


The head of the Philippine armed forces visited a coral-fringed island his country occupies in the South China Sea this week, a move that could stoke already heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing in disputed waters claimed by both countries. – Reuters

Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Wednesday he aimed to hold talks with Australia’s foreign and defence ministers on strengthening bilateral cooperation to raise the two countries’ security ties to new levels. – Reuters

The U.S. policy chief for the Indo-Pacific said on Tuesday the United States aims to work with Japan, New Zealand, Australia and others to assist island nations in the Pacific, a region of increasing strategic competition with China. – Reuters

The World Trade Organization must have a binding dispute settlement system to address the growing use of economic coercion, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison will say on Wednesday, as Canberra moves to win the support of G7 nations in its dispute with China. – Reuters

Since China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong a year ago, it has snuffed out protests, arrested key democracy activists and overhauled the election system. Now its vibrant media scene is under threat. – Bloomberg

Adam Leong Kok Wey writes: There are numerous claims about the purported intentions of these PLAAF flights including maritime surveillance of the strategic Bashi Channel, shows of force against Taiwanese military and U.S. Navy operations, the PLAAF conducting training exercises at longer ranges with their newer aircraft, and political signaling to both the US and Taiwan. Nevertheless, the strategic similarities between Chinese air sorties and Israel’s air deception campaign against Egypt months before the Six-Day War—which yielded spectacular results—cannot be easily dismissed. – The National Interest


Government ministers in the former Soviet and communist countries along the Black Sea basin are bracing for President Joe Biden’s meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia next Wednesday in Geneva. But, analysts are warning them to keep their expectations low. – Washington Examiner

Former national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that next week’s meeting between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin is “premature.” – The Hill

Moscow is threatening to leave the International Space Station (ISS) program, citing U.S. sanctions on Russian companies. – The Hill

On May 7, the Russian Navy finally commissioned the Kazan, its first Yasen-M-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarine (SSGN). Kazan is the culmination of more than a decade of effort to field a new and completely modern SSGN, and it is a marked improvement in nearly every respect over its predecessor, which already had US commanders and their NATO allies worried. – Business Insider

Michael Kimmage writes: Little will get resolved in Geneva. […]All these incompatibilities will persist for decades. They admit no clear solution and may never get solved. But they cannot be allowed to metastasize. That is Biden’s mandate in Geneva: to begin the arduous journey toward predictability and stability. – Foreign Affairs

Anthony B. Kim writes: But precisely because Russia’s authoritarian, ill-advised strategy relies on returning to the Soviet approach of holding onto a statist command-and-control economic model and playing the spoiler, Russia is irresponsibly involved in many of the world’s problems, hot spots, and crises. The best preventative for Russia’s economic problems at home and its adventurism abroad is a good dose of economic freedom. – Heritage Foundation


On his first foreign trip, President Biden will seek to rally European partners and other democratic nations against what he views as a threatening rise in authoritarianism, as the world emerges from the health and economic crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic. – Wall Street Journal

UN judges on Tuesday confirmed the genocide life sentence of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, Europe’s worst act of bloodshed since World War II. – Agence France-Presse

Britain will tell the European Union on Wednesday time is running out to find solutions to ease post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, saying any further legal action by the bloc would not “make life any easier” for people in the province. – Reuters

David Frost, the UK’s minister in charge of ties with the European Union, and Maros Sefkovic, vice head of the European Commission, meet on Wednesday to try and resolve differences over post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland. – Reuters

The audiotape of a July 2019 phone call shows former U.S. President Donald Trump’s then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate baseless allegations about Trump’s 2020 election rival Joe Biden, CNN reported on Monday. – Reuters

Brussels is preparing to take legal steps against Germany over a controversial ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court seen as challenging the supremacy of EU law, according to an EU official. – Politico

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is now openly taunting Germany’s enraged government with his ability to veto any unified EU response to China’s human rights abuses, particularly in Hong Kong. – Politico

Ben Hall writes: The backlash suggests public opinion in Europe is increasingly unwilling to accept pricey Chinese projects that leave a heavy burden for future generations. That may be why details of the rail link to Serbia were made a state secret last year. Hungarians will find a warning in tiny Montenegro, which has appealed to the EU for help in repaying a Chinese loan for a road project that, per kilometre, was one of the most expensive in the world. – Financial Times

Arminka Helic writes: There are many reasons to be hopeful for the future of the Balkans. But an effective strategy to counter growing Russian and Chinese influence, the revival of nationalism and the increasing risk of conflict is long overdue. History shows that if we do not attempt this now on terms of our choosing, events will force our hands and require much more costly and complex interventions in the future. – Politico


Eritrea’s foreign minister blamed U.S. administrations that supported the Tigray People’s Liberation Movement for the last 20 years for the current war in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region, saying that blaming Eritrea for the fighting was unfounded. – Associated Press

France has suspended military operations with Central African Republic, accusing its government of failing to respect political opposition and failing to stop a “massive” anti-French disinformation campaign. – Associated Press

At least one soldier was killed in an attack in northeastern Ivory Coast near the border with jihadist-hit Burkina Faso, the military said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Michael Rubin writes: The Central African Republic might very well have become Africa’s first genocide of the 21st century. Thanks to Rwanda, that tragedy never materialized. That is a success and a brand that the United States should support and seek to replicate. – The National Interest

Latin America

Vice President Kamala Harris said at the conclusion of a trip to Mexico and Guatemala that she would visit the U.S. southern border and stressed that the reasons why migrants from Central America make the dangerous trip to the border would take time to resolve. – Wall Street Journal

President Daniel Ortega’s government has carried out sweeping arrests of his top challengers in the November elections, in a sharp escalation of political repression in Nicaragua. […]The roundup of opposition figures represented a clear challenge to the Biden administration, occurring as Vice President Harris was visiting the region to promote good governance and find solutions to unauthorized migration. – Washington Post

Left-wing teachers union leader Pedro Castillo and right-wing former congresswoman Keiko Fujimori were locked in a tight contest as officials continued to count ballots in Peru’s presidential election Tuesday. – Washington Post

A mission from the Organization of American States arrived in Haiti on Tuesday amid concerns over what it called the country’s grave political, security and human rights situation. – Associated Press

The Americas

A man accused of mowing down five members of the same family with a black pickup truck in an Ontario city Sunday, killing four and seriously injuring a 9-year-old boy, targeted them because they were Muslim, police said Monday, in what the city’s mayor branded an act of “mass murder.” – Washington Post

The United States is conducting a government-wide review to get to the bottom of who or what caused the suspected “directed” radio frequency attacks that on U.S. diplomats that resulted in various neurological ailments known as “Havana syndrome”, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday labeled as a “terrorist attack” the killing of four members of a Muslim family, who were run down by a man driving a pick-up truck. – Agence France-Presse

The U.N. Security Council gave its unanimous backing to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a second term on Tuesday, assuring his election as the next U.N. chief by the General Assembly, most likely on June 18. – Associated Press

United States

The US government has improved its coordination of efforts to secure the release of Americans held hostage abroad and its engagement with their families but further measures are needed, according to a report published on Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

The Senate’s Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism relaunched with 56 members, divided equally between Democrats and Republicans, co-chairs Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK) announced Tuesday afternoon. – Jewish Insider

In a marathon session of back-to-back House hearings on Monday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken discussed the recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, laid out the administration’s case for humanitarian aid to Gaza and appeared to temper expectations for reentry into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the prospects of subsequent agreements. – Jewish Insider

Robert L. Wilkie writes: Although it is still hyperbolic to think that America will travel the same road as Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East, the signs are not encouraging. The tepid response of the liberal clerisy in the wake of anti-Semitic violence rampaging through the once safe streets of the United States is deafening. George Washington would be ashamed. – The National Interest


The pipeline company hit by a multimillion-dollar ransomware attack last month is still working to fully restore some of its computer systems, its chief executive told lawmakers Tuesday, as he defended his decision to pay hackers a ransom. – Wall Street Journal

The alleged drug syndicates, contract killers and weapons dealers thought they were using high-priced, securely encrypted phones that would protect them as they openly discussed drug deals by text message and swapped photos of cocaine-packed pineapples. What they were really doing, investigators revealed Tuesday, was channeling their plots straight into the hands of U.S. intelligence agents. – Washington Post

Major media and government websites, including the White House, New York Times, Reddit and Amazon were temporarily down on Tuesday after being hit by a global outage blamed on a glitch from cloud computing services provider Fastly. – Agence France-Presse

A tech vendor that provides constituent communication services to members of the House of Representatives has reportedly been the target of the latest ransomware attack, slowing down important casework for helping constituents. – Washington Examiner

In a warning to adversaries, NATO’s secretary general said increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks on its members could trigger an alliance response. The alliance treats cyber “as an operational military domain,” Jens Stoltenberg said Monday at The Atlantic Council. Several years ago, the alliance agreed cyber attacks needed to be regarded in the same light as a military land, air or sea assault on a member and could set off a collective response based on NATO’s Article 5 response. – USNI News


Boeing could deliver the first VC-25B Air Force One replacement in 2025, a year later than originally anticipated, a top Air Force acquisition official said Tuesday. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy may have to pick just one of three major modernization programs on the horizon to fund — pursuing a new destroyer, a new attack submarine or a new fighter jet, the acting Navy secretary warns in a recent memo. The other two due would be postponed to budget limitations, he wrote. – Defense News

The Navy has reached a preliminary agreement with Huntington Ingalls Industries on a plan to buy four amphibious warships, but the Pentagon may hold off on executing the deal pending a new force structure assessment, said a service official testifying before Congress today. – USNI News

A recently published Marine Corps budgetary document sheds some light on what the Marine Corps wants to buy. – 19FortyFive

Helen Warrell writes: As Russia intensifies cyber hostilities and China weaponises artificial intelligence, joining forces in the field of high-tech warfare will feature high on the list of topics discussed by Nato allies at a summit next week. But the transatlantic alliance’s 30 members will need to move fast if they aim to make up lost ground. – Financial Times

Rachel Ellehuus and Pierre Morcos write: While confronting NATO’s internal challenges is not an easy task, it is an essential one. Left unaddressed, political cohesion will falter and inhibit NATO’s ability to act in the defense of its collective interests. To prevent this, NATO leaders should act now to tackle the alliance’s democratic deficit. In the long run, this is the only way to restore unity and reinforce European defense. – War on the Rocks

Long War

At least five Egyptians were abducted by Islamic State militants on Tuesday in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, security officials said. – Associated Press

Burkina Faso said Tuesday that more than 7,000 people had fled the country’s volatile north following the bloodiest massacre in a six-year-old jihadist insurgency. – Agence France-Presse

The Pentagon will provide President Biden with options this summer for “over the horizon” capabilities to protect the US from terrorist attacks after US troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said today. – Breaking Defense