Fdd's overnight brief

May 10, 2021

In The News


Iran’s Supreme Leader called on Muslim nations on Friday to keep fighting against Israel, which he said was not a state but a “terrorist garrison” against the Palestinians. – Reuters

The United States has expressed its readiness to lift many of its sanctions on Iran at the Vienna nuclear talks but Tehran is demanding more, top Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi told state media on Friday. – Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday he was optimistic over talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and suggested a deal had been reached to lift the main sanctions on Tehran, state media reported. – Reuters

Three teams of Delta Force operators peered through their scopes from concealed locations at Baghdad International Airport last January, waiting for their target: Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military commander. Disguised as maintenance workers, the operators had secreted into position in old buildings or vehicles on the side of the road. – Yahoo News

A new intelligence report from Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, has disclosed detailed information about the secretive methods which Iran uses to cover up its attempts to secure illicit technology for the world’s most deadly weapons. – Jerusalem Post

Iran is pushing for its banking industry to be given guaranteed and conclusive sanctions relief at talks to restore the country’s nuclear deal with world powers. – Bloomberg

A massive fire broke out in Iran’s southwestern city of Bushehr near the Islamic Republic’s only functioning nuclear power plant late on Friday night, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

An Iranian national has been convicted by a US federal jury for violating trade embargos and illegally exporting sensitive military items to Iran, the US Justice Department announced in a statement on Friday. – Jerusalem Post

A string of military figures on the list of Iranian presidential hopefuls is stirring unease over a possible further militarization of the Islamic Republic’s politics. – Agence France-Presse

The atmosphere in Iran has been complicated by a recent scandal over Mr. Zarif, whose criticism of internal decision-making recently leaked, apparently in an effort to damage his reputation and any chance he had to run for the presidency. […]At the same time, by downplaying Mr. Zarif’s role, the supreme leader reaffirmed his support for the talks while also sheltering them from criticism by hard-liners, said Ellie Geranmayeh of the European Council on Foreign Relations. – New York Times

Iran is about to hold a presidential election that could bring to power a hardliner resistant to talks with the United States. And over time, the diplomatic dancing will edge closer to the campaign season for the U.S. 2022 midterm elections. If Biden is serious about saving the 2015 deal, he may need to make his intentions even more clear, perhaps wading directly into the negotiations and engaging Iran the way he’s often called on America to do. – Politico

Judith Miller writes: Patrick Clawson, director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that it was hard to know whether Iran’s supreme leader would approve whatever deal his team in Vienna managed to negotiate. […]For despite all the time and money spent on efforts to figure out what Khamenei is thinking and even the state of his health, Washington knows far too little for certain about such vital internal Iranian matters. – Fox News

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran may be fumbling a bit in trying to ride the chaos in Jerusalem. It has long backed Hamas and Hezbollah, but as usual Iran has no real plan to confront Israel. It prefers the propaganda of claims that Israel is falling apart from within to direct action. […]Despite its propaganda it has no real inroads with the Palestinians and so far is struggling to exploit the violence. – Jerusalem Post

Salem Al Ketbi writes: So, it is safe to say that Israel ratcheting up pressure on Iran’s mullahs is actually a strategic lever for the US negotiating position against Iran’s defiance and arrogance. But evidence and leaks suggest that the desire of President Biden’s team to achieve a breakthrough on the Iranian issue may be playing into the lack of direct support for Israeli pressure. – Jerusalem Post


The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group on Friday indicated his support for a dialogue between Iran one one side and the U.S. and Saudi Arabia on the other. – Associated Press

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat have agreed to establish an interagency working group to focus on the threat from Iran’s precision-guided missiles being shared with Hezbollah and other allies. – Breaking Defense 

Lebanese based Hezbollah terror group was put on high alert ahead of a month-long IDF drill that will begin on Sunday. – Ynet


A small fire occurred in one of the engines of a tanker off the coast of Syria’s Mediterranean port of Banias, state media said. – Reuters

Firefighters extinguished a blaze Sunday in a distillation unit at one of Syria’s two oil refineries, Syrian state TV reported. – Associated Press

Denmark has become the first European nation not to renew residency permits for the refugees, claiming some areas of Syria are now safe for families to return to. The decision stunned and terrified Syrians in Denmark, who have many reasons to fear going home. – The Guardian


Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday postponed a court ruling on whether to evict Palestinian families from an East Jerusalem neighborhood, a step that comes as the contested holy city experiences its worst violence in years. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli police clashed with both Palestinian protesters and far-right Jewish Israelis on the Temple Mount on Monday, kicking off a fraught national holiday that is widely feared will ignite the latest bout of Israeli-Palestinian violence. – Washington Post

Three Palestinian gunmen shot at an Israeli border police base in the occupied West Bank on Friday, drawing Israeli fire that killed two of the Palestinians and critically wounded the third, border police said. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a “terror state” on Saturday after Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades towards rock-hurling Palestinian youth at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Saturday condemned Israel’s plans to evict Palestinians from homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers, following a night of violence in Jerusalem. – Reuters

Jordan urged Israel on Sunday to stop what it described as “barbaric” attacks on worshippers in Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque and said it would step up international pressure. – Reuters

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke by phone on Sunday with his Israeli counterpart about violence that continued in East Jerusalem over the weekend, the White House said. – Bloomberg

Canada and the Middle East Quartet (the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia) condemned on Sunday the violence that took place on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and called on Israel to halt eviction plans for Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood as violence rises in the country’s capital. – Jerusalem Post

The United Nations Security Council will hold a closed door session Monday to discuss rising tensions in east Jerusalem, particularly around the Temple Mount, also known as al Haram al Sharif. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF responded to Sunday’s rockets and incendiary balloons by attacking several Hamas military positions in the Gaza Strip, the IDF spokesperson announced. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF has sent an additional three battalions to the West Bank to reinforce four already in the area, following violence in Jerusalem and overall heightened tension in the area. – Jerusalem Post

Israel gave the US access to multiple cellphone numbers for former top Iranian official Qasem Soleimani to help enable his assassination in January 2020, Yahoo News reported on Saturday night.  – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday said in a televised statement that he holds the Israel government “responsible” for the unrest in East Jerusalem and voiced “full support for our heroes in Aqsa.” – i24 News

Editorial: The US, Israel’s patron and firmest ally, is looking on calmly under President Joe Biden, who has a wariness of Netanyahu born of decades of acquaintance. The mooted coalition seems likelier to co-operate on contentious issues with Washington such as Iran, and conflict with the Palestinians. Yet if it collapses Netanyahu will be waiting in the wings to capitalise, and subject Israelis to yet another election, designed to demonstrate they cannot live without him. They deserve better. – Financial Times

Michael Eisenstadt, Henry “Trey” Obering III, Samantha Ravich, and David Pollock write: As U.S.-Israeli high-tech cooperation deepens, Israel may feel the impact of Beijing’s malign activities more directly and act accordingly. In any case, the United States should continue sharing Chinese threat information with Israeli officials, since this approach has helped convince other allies to reconsider their stance toward Beijing. –  Washington Institute

Herb Keinon writes: The events of the last few days, however, show that this is a pipe dream and that the Palestinian issue, while it may have been largely dormant for months as the country and the world dealt with the pandemic, has not disappeared. […]One lesson of the last few days for those trying to cobble together a “unity” government is that they better come up with a creative recipe on how to deal with contentious issues like Jerusalem, settlements and the Palestinians that are bound to emerge. – Jerusalem Post

Jenny Aharon writes: HRW knows all too well that it has a strong backing, as its authors have watched the UN and its multiple bodies single out Israel systematically for targeting. Therefore, refuting the 200 pages of the HRW report by coming forward with the truth, will not suffice. There is a whole system in place on the international platform to delegitimize the state of Israel by standards applied solely to Israel. HRW has just taken it a step further. – Jerusalem Post

Judah Ari Gross writes: Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has left the country entirely, traveling to South Korea to sign bilateral trade agreements, rather than focusing his attention on enlisting the help of Jordan, which plays a key role in the politics of the Temple Mount, to try to calm the situation. Without a functioning government capable of making difficult and unpopular decisions, it seems, the country’s security services are largely being left to their own devices to keep the Jerusalem powder keg from blowing up. – Times of Israel


An attack by an unmanned aerial surveillance system on Saturday targeted Iraq’s Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq which hosts U.S. and other international forces, but it caused no injuries, a coalition spokesman said. – Reuters

An Iraqi journalist was in intensive care after being shot in the head early Monday, doctors said, only 24 hours after a leading anti-government activist was killed. – Agence France-Presse

Protesters set fire to trailers belonging to Iran’s consulate in Karbala on Sunday amid widespread anger over the killing of a prominent activist in the Iraqi city. – Associated Press

Arabian Peninsula

Arab League foreign ministers are scheduled to hold an extraordinary virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the latest unrest in Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

A fire erupted Monday at Kuwait’s largest oil field, injuring two workers, the country’s state-run news agency reported. – Associated Press

Eli Lake writes: It will take a great deal of diplomatic skill for the UAE to balance a new friendship with Israel and a budding relationship with a regime committed to Israel’s destruction. […]For now, it’s clear that the Abraham Accords have helped Israel. Their lasting impact, however, depends on Israel’s new Arab friends coming around to the realization that feeding an Iranian crocodile only whets its appetite. – Bloomberg


Amnesty International said on Friday Yemen’s Houthi authorities must halt plans for forced virginity testing and release an actor and model the human rights group says has been detained on “spurious grounds.” – Reuters

The U.S. Navy announced Sunday it seized an arms shipment of thousands of assault weapons, machines guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to support the country’s Houthi rebels. – Associated Press

The Biden administration lashed out at Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Friday for refusing to meet with a senior U.N. official to discuss ending the country’s devastating conflict and speeding humanitarian relief to suffering civilians. – Associated Press

The UN fears that hopes for a ceasefire in Yemen are effectively stalled until either the Houthi rebels choose to end their military offensive or decide the mounting death toll running into tens of thousands is unacceptable. – The Guardian

Middle East & North Africa

But only in recent months, with the unearthing of mass graves, are the full dimensions of the Kaniyat’s atrocities becoming apparent. Nearly every week, workers in blue uniforms have been recovering more decomposed bodies from the reddish- brown soil of the eight-acre Harouda farm, mounting evidence of possible war crimes committed by the Kani brothers and the local militia they’d formed to subjugate Tarhuna. – Washington Post

Thousands massed for rallies across several Muslim-majority countries including Iraq, Yemen and Pakistan for the day, seen in Israel as an expression of hatred and anti-Semitism. – Agence France-Presse

Congo’s president, the current head of the African Union, met Saturday with Egyptian and Sudanese officials amid international and regional efforts to relaunch negotiations over Ethiopia’s disputed dam on the Nile River’s main tributary. – Associated Press

France’s foreign minister threatened to step up pressure against Lebanese politicians he accused of committing “collective suicide” by failing to pull the country out of its economic meltdown. – Reuters

A senior official at Libya’s new Presidency Council denied on Saturday that groups who entered a hotel where the body meets had been armed or used force, playing down an incident that had appeared to illustrate the risks facing the unity government. – Reuters

Lazar Berman writes: For Russia, wielding influence over gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean helps it counter US influence, especially with the emergence of the pro-Western EastMed Gas Forum, which includes Israel. Moscow also wants to protect its own status as the primary natural gas supplier to Europe. Lebanon may well have understood that it has no recourse in the north, and therefore is taking a more aggressive stance in the south to recoup some lost territorial waters. – Times of Israel

Eric R. Mandel writes: The most dangerous consequence of the American turn from the region will be the nuclear arms race left in its wake. […]Are any of these outcomes in America’s national security interest? Will America be forced to return to the region as it did after Obama’s hasty retreat from Iraq in 2011, but under less favorable conditions? As former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren told Yaroslav Trofimov of the Journal in October 2019, “If you think the United States as a global power can pull out of the Middle East and not endanger itself, you are deluding yourselves.” – Jerusalem Post

Roee Kibrik and Nimrod Goren write: Should Israelis and Palestinians harness the political will to advance peace, both will find a credible, committed and positive ally in Morocco, which offers relevant opportunities and assets and would be positively inclined to help to the best of its ability to ensure the success of the process. And until the peace process is revived, it would be worthwhile offering Morocco a role in encouraging dialogue on the issue of Jerusalem in order to ease tensions and prevent escalation. – Jerusalem Post


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, meeting with counterparts from China and Russia on Friday, said that the United States would “push back forcefully” against breakers of international rules, even as he acknowledged his own country’s violations under the Trump administration. – New York Times

Debris from a Chinese rocket re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean, Chinese officials said, easing days of anxiety that pieces would fall on densely populated areas. – Wall Street Journal

China has urged United Nations member states not to attend an event planned next week by Germany, the United States and Britain on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, according to a note seen by Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

Former US President Donald Trump’s push to blacklist companies with alleged links to the Chinese military has hit western investors in the pocket. But it does not appear to have hurt the sanctioned companies themselves. – Financial Times

David Von Drehle writes: U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea treaty — formally aligning U.S. policy with the rest of the international community — would make clear that the rising conflict in the South China Sea is not simply a power play between China and the United States. It’s a confrontation between China and the world — a world that depends on a free and open South China Sea. Geography teaches that. Nine dashes sketched on an old map cannot undo the lesson. – Washington Post

Rebecca Grant writes: Containment is a good policy, and one our allies can share. Containment of China can ease up if and when China behaves according to the international rules of the road, as Blinken likes to say. For now, China is ignoring those rules. […]The Long March booster will start to fall back to Earth around May 8, according to U.S. Space Force. The space junk is a reminder that China doesn’t care about other nations. China needs to be contained because they put the Communist Party ahead of all else. – Fox News


The death toll exceeded even previous massacres in this bustling neighborhood of a minority long singled out for persecution by the Taliban and the Islamic State. Afghanistan’s second vice president, Sarwar Danesh, himself a Hazara, said more than 80 people had been killed in the attack. – New York Times

The Taliban has carried out a string of attacks near vulnerable provincial capitals across Afghanistan since May 1, a marked escalation in violence that officials say is a sign the group is testing for defensive weak points and assessing the government’s capacity to provide air support as U.S. and NATO forces withdraw. – Washington Post

European allies are pushing the U.S. to delay its withdrawal from Afghanistan—which U.S. officials had suggested could be complete by as early as July 4—to give NATO allies more time and support to leave, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

The Taliban on Monday declared a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan to mark this week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, just two days after the government blamed the insurgents for bombs outside a school that killed more than 50 people, mostly young girls. – Agence France-Presse

The Afghan foreign minister and prosecutors from the International Criminal Court have met in The Hague to discuss the ICC’s war crimes investigation in Afghanistan, both sides said in a joint statement on Sunday. – Reuters

The United States and the European Union called Friday for an immediate resumption of intra-Afghan talks, and condemned the Taliban for waging widespread attacks as foreign forces leave the country. – Agence France-Presse

European Union foreign ministers on Monday debated ways to maintain support for Afghanistan’s beleaguered government after a brutal weekend attack on a girls’ school underscored deep concern that violence will spread as U.S.-led troops leave the country. – Associated Press

Annie Pforzheimer writes: Pulling out troops without conditions or remaining “at war” indefinitely are not the only two options; they never were. In our 2009 cable, we pointed out that anti-corruption and long-term development efforts were better investments than more troops. Rather than compound our past errors, the United States must now commit to the goal of stability by preserving our remaining leverage—and using it well. – Politico

South Asia

The Maldivian police Sunday arrested a third suspect in the attempted assassination of former president Mohamed Nasheed, officials said as a manhunt continued for others who may have been involved. – Agence France-Presse

The EU and India have agreed to restart long-stalled negotiations on a comprehensive trade deal as the two sides seek to boost their economic engagement and respond to the increasing power of China. – Financial Times

Gunmen in two separate attacks ambushed vehicles carrying paramilitary troops in southwest Pakistan, killing at least three soldiers and wounding five others before fleeing, the military said Sunday night. – Associated Press


Myanmar’s ruling military, which is facing nationwide protests against the coup that removed the elected government three months ago, said on Friday it would not agree to a visit by a Southeast Asian envoy until it could establish stability. – Reuters

Myanmar’s military rulers have branded a rival National Unity Government a terrorist group and blamed it for bombings, arson and killings, state-controlled media said on Saturday. – Reuters

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Monday he sees his final year in office as the last chance to achieve a lasting peace with North Korea, and said it was time to take action amid stalled talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes. – Reuters

U.S. military planners are looking for options to base forces and equipment in Central Asia and the Middle East after American and allied troops leave Afghanistan in the coming months. – Wall Street Journal

The Philippines plans to convert a South China Sea island into a military hub amid rising tensions with China. – Bloomberg

As deadly violence erupted on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border last week, two peaceful Kyrgyz-majority districts of Tajikistan — located hundreds of kilometers away from the conflict zone — found themselves dragged into media reports of “evictions” and “deportations.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A 30-year-old Sydney man who is alleged to be an Islamic State recruiter has been arrested and charged with terrorism offences upon his return to Australia. – The Guardian

Gregory B. Poling and Simon Tran Hudes write: Min Aung Hlaing has set the country down a violent path toward either revolution, repression, or collapse. The people of Myanmar have overwhelmingly chosen resistance. The best the United States can do is offer them support at the margins, deprive the junta of international legitimacy, and work with partners to ease the humanitarian cost. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Austin S. Matthews and Collin Meisel write: By working with partners and a well-diversified mixture of tools for bilateral influence, U.S. policymakers can more effectively and productively manage competition with China in Southeast Asia and beyond. In contrast, a unilateral, military-centric approach would be a mistake — perhaps a fatal mistake, where competition escalates into outright conflict. – War on the Rocks

Edmund Malesky writes: As the new administration builds a coalition of allies in the Indo-Pacific region, Myanmar provides a chance to show how this coalition can be built around a common purpose, rather than mutual convenience. The only other choice, it seems, is to leave Myanmar’s people with little protection as they gather in the streets. This would be bad for ASEAN, disastrous for President Joe Biden’s human rights commitments, and humiliating for everyone who seeks to demonstrate that the region’s institutions are a durable force for stability and integration. – The National Interest


U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday he expected to be able to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon and the White House said ongoing differences between the United States and Russia would not need to be resolved in advance of a summit. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin reviewed Russia’s traditional World War Two victory parade on Sunday, a patriotic display of raw military power that this year coincides with soaring tensions with the West. – Reuters

A Siberian doctor who treated Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after he collapsed on a flight in Russia last year has gone missing, Russian police said on Sunday. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia is working on strengthening its military base in Tajikistan to boost regional security as the situation escalates in Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised Saturday to push ahead with another Scotland independence referendum after her party gained a strong showing in Scottish Parliament elections, setting up a potential clash with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. – Washington Post

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia ordered some of the troops he had massed on Ukraine’s border this spring to pull back last month, but as many as 80,000 remain within striking distance, and many Ukrainians believe that the threat of a new invasion remains. A prime reason is the 250-mile-long Northern Crimean Canal linking Crimea with Ukraine’s Dnieper River: the main source of water for Crimea until Mr. Putin annexed it in 2014 and Ukraine, in a secret operation, hastily built the dam to block the canal’s flow. – New York Times

Almost six decades after the U.S. military began dropping a toxic herbicide known as Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, a French courtroom in a Parisian suburb has become the unlikely setting for a faceoff between a woman who says she was a victim and some of the world’s largest chemical and pharmaceutical corporations that supplied the substance. – Washington Post

The European Union said Saturday it had posted bail for Georgia’s jailed opposition leader, Nika Melia, paving the way for his release and ending a protracted political crisis in the Caucasus country. – Agence France-Presse

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree allowing the transfer of presidential power to the security council if he is murdered or otherwise unable to perform his duties, state Belta news agency reported on Saturday. – Reuters

A man suspected of having shot dead a French policeman in the city of Avignon last week has been arrested, along with another individual, said French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Twitter. – Reuters

Three members of a neo-Nazi group arrested in eastern France on suspicion of planning an attack on a masonic lodge have been charged, a judicial source said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has said that he has asked the European Council to condemn Russia for its involvement in the deadly explosion of an arms depot on Czech soil in 2014. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

U.S. President Joe Biden will join a meeting by video link of presidents of countries on NATO’s eastern flank being held Monday in the Romanian capital, according to the offices of the Romanian and Polish presidents. – Associated Press

Mark Landler writes: Even if she has to rely on the Greens, Ms. Sturgeon is likely to have enough votes to push legislation for “indyref2” through the Scottish Parliament and then challenge Mr. Johnson or his allies to stop it in court. That could cause a constitutional crisis. After all, Scotland’s union with England in 1707 was voluntary, making it hard for London to say no forever to another referendum. And Ms. Sturgeon may calculate that support for independence will only grow if Scots see the popular will being blocked by a government in England. – New York Times

Mure Dickie and George Parker write:  With Scottish opinion on the merits of independence almost evenly split — over the past month, an average of the polls put support for staying in the UK at 46 per cent compared with 45 per cent for leaving — Sturgeon has reason not to rush into a referendum she cannot afford to lose. Legislation and any resulting legal challenge would also take time, said Martin. “It will be a slow game of constitutional chess,” he added. – Financial Times

Robert Dalsjö and Michael Jonsson write: At the same time, the European allies need to adapt to the long-term shift in America’s attention from Europe to Asia and shoulder more of the burdens, while America needs to realize that transatlantic trust has been dented, accept and encourage a greater role for Europe, and not be so instinctively suspicious of all European initiatives. – War on the Rocks


Congolese army forces on Sunday killed 10 rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the troubled east of the country, a spokesman said. – Agence France-Presse

Chadian security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters who took to the streets of the capital N’Djamena on Saturday to protest against a military takeover that followed the death of President Idriss Deby on the battlefield last month. – Reuters

Gunmen killed seven Nigerian police officers in a night of attacks in the southern oil hub of Rivers state, police said on Saturday. – Reuters

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has dissolved parliament, a long-awaited step to pave the way for the appointment of lawmakers from formerly warring parties in the country. – Reuters

Chad’s military claimed victory on Sunday in its weeks-long battle with northern rebels that led to the death of President Idriss Deby on the battlefield. – Reuters

The African Union on Saturday named former Ghanaian president John Mahama its High Representative to Somalia to try and resolve a dire political crisis due to a dispute over delayed elections. – Agence France-Presse

Sudanese authorities on Sunday deported around three dozen Ethiopian peacekeepers, working on the U.N. mission in Darfur, to a refugee camp, the state-run news agency reported. – Associated Press

The head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in his first public comments on the war in the country’s Tigray region is sharply criticizing Ethiopia’s actions, saying he believes it’s genocide: “They want to destroy the people of Tigray.” – Associated Press

A suicide bomber killed at least six people and wounded six more in a massive blast at a police station in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Sunday evening, police said. – Agence France-Presse

Michael Rubin writes: If Biden is going to fulfill his promise to renew American diplomacy, then it is time for a real partnership with Africa. He should break with past practice of simply making an occasional visit to use Africa as a scenic backdrop to make empty promises and instead solidify ties with pivotal states that can be hubs not only for American business partnerships but also for security. Should he do so, he would find no better place to start than Kenya. – The National Interest

William Davison writes: While none of this will be easy, the country’s international partners should urge Abiy, a Nobel peace prize laureate, to see his role not as Ethiopia’s single-handed saviour, but as the leader who boldly embraced opponents, allowing a bitterly divided body politic to peacefully forge a new compact based on mutual accommodation. If, on the other hand, Abiy repeats his predecessors’ mistakes of smothering opposing voices, this could spell further catastrophe. – The Guardian

The Americas

Vice President Harris on Friday urged cooperation with Mexico to improve economic and political stability in Central America and stem the flow of migrants seeking work or safety in the United States, saying it is in the interest of both nations to address the reasons migrants leave home. – Washington Post

In a rebuff to the Biden administration, political leaders in El Salvador and Guatemala have forced out several senior judges known for their independence and anti-corruption zeal, underscoring the difficulties facing Washington’s new Central America policy. – Washington Post

Peter Subissati writes: Re-engagement with a tired regime is a small price to pay to strengthen the prospect of systemic change from within, and sends a strong and unequivocal message to long-suffering Cubans that America supports their right to define a democratic future for their country. While we’re at it, the time is also ripe for the next Israeli government to follow suit and seek a long-overdue rapprochement of its own with Cuba. Canada, which facilitated back-channel talks with Havana in 2016, would surely be happy to oblige. The ball is in Jerusalem’s court. – Jerusalem Post

United States

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the United Nations Security Council on Friday that the international order was in “serious jeopardy” in comments that decried what he described as rising nationalism and repression around the world. – Wall Street Journal

The United States will join a New Zealand-led global campaign to stamp out violent extremism online, the White House said, making a policy change two years after the administration of former president Donald Trump declined to participate. – Reuters

President Biden has faced many pressing issues in the early days of his administration, from the coronavirus pandemic to a spiraling immigration crisis.But one of the least talked-about challenges is one that’s been brewing for years, long before even the Trump administration: growing challenges to the United States’ ability to assert its will in the Arctic. – Fox News

Editorial: This president has a better grasp than his predecessors of the limits of what the United States can accomplish abroad. So far, that’s been a good. The danger is that he will lean toward inaction or withdrawal in places where, like Afghanistan, even a partially effective U.S. engagement is better than none at all. – Washington Post


A pipeline that provides the East Coast with nearly half its gasoline and jet fuel remained shuttered on Sunday after yet another ransomware attack, prompting emergency White House meetings and new questions about whether an executive order strengthening cybersecurity for federal agencies and contractors goes far enough even as President Biden prepares to issue it. – New York Times

Police departments big and small have been plagued for years by foreign hackers breaking into networks and causing varying level of mischief, from disabling email systems to more serious problems with 911 centers temporarily knocked offline. – Associated Press

China’s emerging digital currency could enhance the yuan’s importance in the international financial system at the expense of the U.S. dollar and extend the Chinese surveillance state into wallets around the world. – Washington Examiner

Two Russian nationals are among four men who have pleaded guilty to cybercrimes that targeted banks and companies across the United States, resulting in millions of dollars of losses, the Justice Department said on May 7. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A series of major cyber-attacks in recent weeks has underscored the brazenness of the attackers and the challenges of tackling the problem of ransomware, just as the Biden administration announced plans to take on the issue. – Bloomberg

Richard Fontaine and Kara Frederick write: President Biden is reportedly considering a coalition of techno-democracies that would set “the rules and shape the norms that govern the use of technology,” according to a senior State Department official quoted in the Washington Post. Such an international alliance could usefully share information, harmonize tech policies and counter the autocratic vision of digital order favored by China, Russia and others. – Wall Street Journal

Marc Losito and John Anderson write: AI is commanders’ business — only with their perspective and leadership can the Department of Defense succeed in providing its front-line warfighters with the capabilities they need to remain technologically superior in future conflict. Only by involving commanders and those who will employ the AI in the face of the enemy can the department overcome the expertise gap and overabundance of bureaucracy that threaten to bring about another AI winter. – War on the Rocks


An overhaul on a new jet fueling system has been completed at northern Indiana’s Grissom Air Reserve Base following several years of work to replace a system installed in the 1950s. – Associated Press

One of the top lawmakers in charge of the defense budget raised doubts Friday about whether the U.S. Space Force has lived up to its promise to reform the way it purchases space systems. – C4ISRNET

The Air Force will continue pushing for the retirement of its oldest Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawks, the service’s top officials said Friday, potentially setting up another fight with Congress about the future of the embattled surveillance drone. – Defense News

The U.S. Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet has officially surpassed the number of F-15 Eagle jets and A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft, becoming the second largest fighter jet fleet in its aircraft inventory, the service’s top general said Friday. – Military.com

U.S. Army modernization officials are pushing forward with a plan to outfit light infantry, Stryker and armored combat brigades with advanced radios and communications kits designed to speed decision-making even under sophisticated enemy jamming attacks. – Military.com

Miranda Priebe, Bryan Rooney, and Grant Johnson write:  A rising China presents a sustained challenge for the United States that cannot be met by focusing narrowly on defense spending alone. To have the wherewithal to protect U.S. security against this challenge indefinitely, the country has to make a broader set of investments that support U.S. military power and promote continued economic growth. Therefore, the country should look beyond the annual defense budget to the broader set of ways to promote national security over the long term. – Defense News

Andrew Shapiro and Max Bergmann write: The Biden Administration’s review of arms sales policy and its nascent National Security Strategy presents an opportunity to reset the U.S. approach to arms sales in a way that reflects the changing geopolitical realities and better align our policy with U.S. values. Rather than decide each sale on a case-by-case basis, the Biden team should come up with an approach that makes sense to our partners, Congress and the American people. – Breaking Defense