Fdd's overnight brief

May 11, 2020

In The News


Iranians in nearly 200 towns offered Friday prayers in mosques for the first time in two months as authorities eased some restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic, raising concerns of a new wave of infections. – Wall Street Journal

A missile fired by an Iranian ship during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman mistakenly hit a support vessel, killing 19 sailors and injuring more than a dozen others, Iran’s state media reported. – Washington Post

The humanitarian banking channel set up by the Trump administration to get medicine and other supplies into Iran—a politically calculated show of compassion amid otherwise draconian U.S. sanctions—has not in fact processed any potentially life-saving transactions, the Swiss government confirmed to The Daily Beast. – The Daily Beast

Washington has yet to respond to Iran about a prisoner swap, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted as saying by the government’s website on Sunday, reiterating that Tehran was ready for a full prisoner exchange with the United States without preconditions. – Reuters

Iran’s stock market is on a historic run as prices increased 190 percent in the twelve months ending March 20 and keep rising, outpacing any other investment opportunity in the country. – Radio Farda

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has renewed his pledge to use all means available to extend a ban on conventional arms sales to Iran beyond October. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The U.S. State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus on Friday called on all countries to keep Iran’s Mahan Air out to “avoid coronavirus and sanction risk”. – Radio Farda

Editorial: The progress in restraining Iran has come despite opposition in Western Europe, and a fight over extending the arms embargo on Tehran this fall will generate more tension. But the idea of former trans-Atlantic allies fully standing with Tehran against Washington is misleading. […]Barack Obama’s appeasement of Tehran was a two-term project, and significant change is unlikely in this election year. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Rezaian writes: The Trump administration has had some success in securing the release of Americans held in other places around the world. But so far it has mostly failed to free the Americans held in Iran or to deter further Iranian hostage-taking. One of the stated goals of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Iranian regime is to alter what it calls Iran’s “malign behavior.” Hostage-taking ranks high on that list. – Washington Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In January Iran shot down a Ukrainian Airlines civilian airliner. Since then, Iran has put up roadblocks to the investigation its mass killing of the 176 people on board, and has prevented quick handover of black boxes and joint investigations. Last week, the BBC accused Iran’s Mahan Air of operating amid the coronavirus pandemic and spreading the virus across the region and the world without proper safeguards. – Jerusalem Post


Al-Qaida-linked fighters attacked Syrian government positions Sunday on the edge of the country’s last rebel stronghold, triggering intense clashes that killed nearly three dozen combatants across both sides, opposition activists said. – Associated Press

Amid mounds of rubble and the ruins of buildings destroyed during nearly a decade of war, a Ramadan iftar meal has reunited a community in northwestern Syria. – Reuters

Iranian-backed militias have been shuffled throughout Syria since a series of airstrikes targeted Iranian and Syrian targets in the country in recent weeks, according to local reports. – Jerusalem Post

US Special Representative for Syria engagement threw cold water on reports that Iran might be reducing its role in Syria. Speaking on Thursday US Ambassador James Jeffrey said that the US has not seen any strategic Iranian changes in Syria when it comes to using the country as a “second launchpad for long-range weapons against Israel.” In short, reports of Iran’s demise in Syria are premature. – Jerusalem Post

Jeremy Hodge writes: Moscow’s inability to control Iranian backed Syrian militiamen engaged in widespread crime, corruption, and assaults on Russian forces has infuriated the Kremlin. But Russia is not the only major player on the ground with scores to settle against Iran, and the Russian military leadership in Syria has ignored if not largely encouraged Israeli strikes on Iranian troops throughout the country. […]Ironically, Erdoğan’s long-held desire to overthrow Syria’s president may still come to fruition, albeit not as he expected, as Assad’s ouster may come at the hands of Russia itself, and not the revolution. – The Daily Beast 

Will Todman writes: Extremist groups would benefit from increased instability in Syria. They have already used Covid-19 to their rhetorical advantage to the detriment of the United States’ reputation in the region. Non-state actors in the Middle East, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, have filled gaps in state services to gain influence. […]Finally, the centralization of aid in Damascus would further degrade the principle of unimpeded humanitarian access and undermine U.S. leadership on the issue. This precedent could carry implications for humanitarian operations in other conflict areas. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Turkey’s banking watchdog may lift a transaction ban it imposed on BNP Paribas, Citibank and UBS if they fulfil their lira liabilities but an investigation into the three banks will continue, its head said on Sunday according to the state-owned Anadolu news agency. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Optimists may hope that Erdogan’s defeat in Istanbul last year signals that Turks can reclaim their country and that democracy can still check Erdogan’s desire to rule for life and perhaps turn the reins of power over to his son or son-in-law. But the lesson Erdogan appears to have taken is not that he must listen to the people, but rather, he must punish Istanbul and become more ruthless in weeding out political opposition, real or imagined. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In the past, Iran has used Turkey to get around US sanctions and Iran has even sought to use Turkey as a transit for goods destined for the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. Much of that has changed during the Syrian civil war, but Iran’s overall goal in the region is to work with Turkey to divide up the Middle East. – Jerusalem Post


Iran is being linked to an attempted cyberattack last month that authorities believe was aimed at disrupting water supplies in at least two locations in Israel as that country was seeking to contain a covid-19 outbreak, according to foreign intelligence officials familiar with the matter. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Israel next week, his first trip in about seven weeks as the coronavirus pandemic grounded the nation’s top diplomat along with the rest of the world. – USA Today

Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett’s brief sojourn as defense minister – just six months – was nothing short of a tsunami when it came to entrenching Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria in advance of pending plans to annex 30% of the West Bank. – Jerusalem Post

Three Gulf states have reached out to Israel in recent weeks to receive information and assistance in the fight against the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19. The three make up half of the countries that are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). – Jerusalem Post

Israel will approve an 800 million shekel (about $230 million) payment to the Palestinian Authority Sunday evening to help it cope with the coronavirus, Finance Ministry officials confirmed Sunday. – Haaretz

Palestinian leaders on Friday vowed to defy a new Israeli military order which they fear could lead to the confiscation of money destined for prisoners, their relatives and the families of those killed in unrest. – Reuters

Israel said on Friday it would discuss with its closest ally the United States a newspaper report that the U.S.-led peacekeeping force in the Egyptian Sinai may be scaled back, calling its nearly four-decade-old presence “important”. – Reuters

Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are now pushing a revised, watered-down letter to Senate offices after circulating an initial draft — obtained by JI and published below — warning that annexation of the West Bank would end bipartisan support for Israel. – Jewish Insider

If US President Donald Trump is reelected in November, David Friedman knows exactly which job he would like to take in the administration’s second term – the one he has now, ambassador to Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Netanyahu might have a historic opportunity in July to apply Israeli law to West Bank settlements, but he also has an opportunity – before he potentially leaves office in 2021 – to renew talks with the Palestinian Authority. Annexation is something most Israelis support. Peace is something supported by all. – Jerusalem Post

Alex Fishman writes: The circumstances present Israel with the opportunity to weaken Iran’s foothold in Syria. This is a strategic opportunity, for even if Iran does seek to respond, it will only create grounds for Israel to conduct a decisive military operation against it across the northern border. – Ynet

Gregg Roman writes: Annexation can be seen as a step towards ending the deadlock between the parties. It should be the pressure to place on Palestinian leaders to acknowledge that they will not defeat Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. It will show the Palestinians that rejectionism has consequences and force them to give up longstanding violent aims. Most of all, it will fulfill the vision of Israeli leaders — from the left, right, and center, such as Rabin, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon — who understood implicitly that Israel will always retain the settlements and the Jordan Valley. It is time to take them off the table. – The Hill

Dov Lipman writes: As difficult and tumultuous as these past 15 months have been, as frustrated as we may be with our leaders, and even whether we end up with a new government or head to a fourth election, the process itself – culminating in this week’s Supreme Court hearings – shows that our relatively young, 72-year-old Israel is still working through its political, legal and constitutional issues. It is even still working on its very identity, as it tries to sort out what it means to be a Jewish and democratic state in the 21st century. And that reality is worth celebrating. – Jerusalem Post

Ruthie Blum writes: According to a report on Wednesday in German weekly Die Zeit, Israel is close to reaching an agreement with Hamas. Though the details of the deal are murky, the gist is clear. […]We endured weeks of government-imposed lockdowns, and continue to be coerced into following strict social-distancing rules and mandatory mask-wearing, all for the sake of “saving even a single life.” Where does the unleashing of mass murderers fit into “flattening the curve”? – Jerusalem Post


Islamic State militants in Iraq are exploiting the coronavirus lockdown to intensify their attacks, striking more frequently and at times with more sophistication than in recent years. – Washington Post

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi also promoted a well-respected Iraqi general, who played a key role in the military campaign against the Islamic State, to lead counter-terrorism operations. Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi was mysteriously demoted last year by former Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, prompting outrage and sparking popular protests in northern Iraq and Baghdad. The Supreme Judiciary Council said in a statement that it had ordered the release of protesters detained since those demonstrations erupted, in line with the new prime minister’s call. – Associated Press

Eli Lake writes: There is no single event that has caused Iran’s current loss of influence in Iraq. Nationwide protests against corruption and Iranian influence, as well as internal strife within and among Iranian-backed militias, helped Kadhimi’s rise. At the same time, Soleimani’s death was a factor. […]If that’s true, it’s a positive development — not just for Iraq but for the entire Middle East. – Bloomberg

Raed Ahmed writes: Even in relatively secular countries such as Germany, religion has played an important role in the public’s ability to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic—especially through religious practices like public prayer. However, countries where the role of religious leaders and followers is far more complicated and vital face additional challenges in their ability to enforce life saving measures. This has become evident in countries such as Iraq, where religion has played an increasingly influential role in the government’s ability to limit the spread of the disease. – Washington Institute

Katherine Lawlor and Brandon Wallace write: Despite worsening political acrimony, Kadhimi maintains broad Sunni and Kurdish support in Parliament and will likely be able to satisfy enough Shi’a blocs to ascend to the office of prime minister with a partial cabinet. Because of their shared interest in Kadhimi’s success, Iran and the US confined their competition to other lines of effort ahead of the June US-Iraq strategic dialogue, thereby creating enough space for Iraq’s political elites to negotiate government formation. – Institute for the Study of War

Saudi Arabia

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday that Saudi Arabian authorities recently detained and are holding incommunicado Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, who had previously been netted in an anti-corruption drive and released in late 2017. – Reuters

Jackson Diehl writes: Fitaihi says he hasn’t given up on his mission. He said he’s working to open a new medical school connected to his hospital and is looking for a U.S. partner. “I would like to continue to be a bridge between the two countries,” he said. Yet as his own story shows, while Mohammed bin Salman rules, U.S.-Saudi partnership isn’t likely to flourish. – Washington Post

Simon Henderson writes: Yesterday President Trump may have been trying to end this period of tension when he explained: “We are making a lot of moves in the Middle East and elsewhere. …Militarily we’ve been taken advantage of all over the world. … This has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia.” […]The guiding principle of Iranian tactics against Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states appears to be to keep changing the tactic. The challenge for the U.S. is to provide a credible deterrent against Iran and whatever that new tactic may be. – The Hill


Yemeni authorities declared Aden, interim seat of the Saudi-backed government, an “infested” city on Monday after the number of coronavirus cases there jumped to 35, with four deaths. – Reuters

The World Health Organization (WHO) has suspended staff activity at its hubs in Houthi-held areas of Yemen, a directive seen by Reuters showed, in a move sources said aimed to pressure the group to be more transparent about suspected coronavirus cases. – Reuters

Fatima Abo Alasrar writes: Saudi Arabia appears to be acutely aware of the geopolitical conflicts, which it has sought to de-escalate through the November 2019 Riyadh Agreement between the Hadi government and the STC. However, in a geopolitical struggle that aims to weaken Saudi Arabia’s economy and military position, it is more than likely that the Saudis will side with their long-term ally, the UAE. This is part of the reason why they have maintained a favorable tone toward the STC, despite Hadi’s opposition. – Middle East Institute


Turkey said on Sunday it would deem the forces of Libyan General Khalifa Haftar “legitimate targets” if what it termed their attacks on its interests and diplomatic missions in Libya persisted. – Reuters

A withering bombardment shook Tripoli on Sunday as the eastern-based forces of Khalifa Haftar fought overnight for new territory in the southern suburbs after losing ground recently around the city. – Reuters

Shelling of Tripoli’s Mitiga airport early on Saturday, part of an intensified barrage of artillery fire on the capital in recent days, hit fuel tanks and damaged passenger planes, the Transport Ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Shells landed near the Turkish and Italian embassies in central Tripoli late on Thursday, an apparent expansion of bombardment by eastern Libyan forces of a central district of the Libyan capital that drew European Union condemnation. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt’s military-backed government is using the coronavirus pandemic to tighten its grip on the country, human rights activists say. – Washington Post

Benjamin Weil writes: Enforcing counterterrorism laws and laws regarding the funding of terrorist organizations are also crucial. […]If we let Hezbollah gain more power and influence in Lebanon it would lead to greater conflicts across the Middle East. Alternatively, if we wait to bail out the country at a point where Hezbollah is already too strong, Hezbollah might get the credit for the financial recovery – this will only fuel the organization’s credibility in the minds of the people. Much like the coronavirus, we must act now and act hard before we lose control of the situation. – Jerusalem Post

Danielle Pletka writes: Long story short, Lebanon’s slow-motion collapse promises repercussions few can bother contemplating when minds are focused on pandemic-related foreign policy. But the notion that the erstwhile Lebanese state is soon to become a hybrid Iranian-Chinese bot from which all with means flee, and to which all with malign aims flock, seems a catastrophe worth minding. If not, Lebanon promises to join the ranks of Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and others in becoming yet another nexus of global threat and local misery. – The Dispatch


The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. The efforts are part of a surge in cybertheft and attacks by nations seeking advantage in the pandemic. – New York Times

An intensifying rivalry between the United States and China has renewed the importance of “the soft-power component” of American national security: the U.S. Agency for International Development. – Washington Examiner

China is willing to offer support to North Korea within its ability against the coronavirus epidemic, state television said on Saturday, quoting President Xi Jinping as saying in a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. – Reuters

Chinese officials are adopting Russian disinformation tactics to sow confusion in the United States and other Western countries, according to allied sources and analysts. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. Navy sent a pair of ships to patrol in the vicinity of a mineral rights dispute between Malaysia and China in the South China Sea for the second time in a month, U.S. officials told USNI News. – USNI News

China and the United States both supported a draft United Nations Security Council resolution confronting the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday and it was “shocking and regretful” that Washington changed its mind on Friday, a Chinese diplomat said. – Reuters

China should expand its stock of nuclear warheads to 1,000 soon, Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin said on Friday, even as U.S. President Donald Trump repeats his call for China to join an arms control treaty. – Reuters

Now Andringa-Meuer has joined with dozens of other American virus patients and some U.S. businesses in taking a new legal step: They are attempting to sue China over the spread of the virus, which has killed at least 75,000 people in the United States. – Associated Press

Kathleen Parker writes: There is little doubt that the Trump White House has been deploying anti-China rhetoric lately, seeking to blame China for the coronavirus as a key piece of its reelection strategy. It’s a fact, nevertheless, that China has a record of being the origin of viruses that are unleashed upon the rest of us, including H1N1 and SARS. As a strategic response, the Trump administration may be gearing up for a broader anti-China campaign in coming weeks and months. But this new strategy doesn’t seem to be so much about the administration changing course; it is about changing how the rest of us regard the Middle Kingdom. – Washington Post

Daniel Tobin writes: The ambitions articulated by Xi Jinping at the 19th Party Congress underscore that Washington and its allies face a global, strategic rivalry driven as much by ideology and values embodied in competing domestic governance systems as by perceptions of changing power dynamics. While this rivalry differs in many respects from the Cold War, one of the most important differences is that it is a competition to define the rules and norms that will govern an integrated, deeply connected world rather than a world divided into competing camps. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Despite that, in a shocking turn that officials say could hurt the security of Farah Province, the retired general switched sides on Sunday, joining the Taliban. The defection fits right into the Taliban’s propaganda push, as they focus on chipping away at the legitimacy of the Afghan government after signing a deal with the United States that has started the withdrawal of the American forces.- New York Times

At least six were killed when protesters angry over what they see as unfair food aid distribution during the coronavirus pandemic clashed with police in Afghanistan’s western Ghor province on Saturday, according to officials. – Reuters

Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents killed a provincial police chief and two others in a roadside bomb attack, the local governor said on Friday, in the latest violence hindering a U.S.-brokered peace process. – Reuters

Taliban leaders searched their ranks, including in the much-feared Haqqani network, and on Sunday told The Associated Press they are not holding Mark R. Frerichs, a Navy veteran turned contractor who disappeared in Afghanistan in late January. – Associated Press


Indian and Chinese security forces scuffled along the disputed border between the two Asian giants, injuring soldiers on both sides, Indian officials said Sunday. – Wall Street Journal

That experience has thrust Mr. Chen from behind the scenes to the forefront of Taiwan’s response to the crisis. He has embraced his rare dual role, using his political authority to criticize China for initially trying to conceal the virus even as the scientist in him hunkers down to analyze trends in transmission. – New York Times

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader on Monday vowed to overhaul the city’s education system, arguing its liberal studies curriculum helped fuel last year’s violent pro-democracy protests. – Agence France-Presse

Hong Kong authorities arrested more than 200 people during pro-democracy protests, media reported on Monday, after a sing-along demonstration at a shopping mall spilled out on to the streets of the Chinese-ruled city. – Reuters

Taiwan will fail in its bid to join a key meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) amid efforts to rein in the novel coronavirus as its efforts are based on politics, not health concerns, China said on Friday. – Reuters

Editorial: Today WHO’s reputation is in tatters, Congress wants an investigation, and President Trump has put a hold on U.S. funding. Inviting Taiwan in will not solve all of WHO’s problems. But it would be a good first step, and a welcome sign it will not subordinate global health needs to Beijing’s political priorities. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Beijing continues to blame Hong Kongers for the political instability and economic damage. But China’s unrelenting assault on Hong Kong’s freedom and legal autonomy guarantees that the resistance will continue. – Wall Street Journal

Hilton Yip writes: After winning her second term in January, Tsai said Taiwan is already independent. Most of the world should openly recognize this too, rather than continuing to pander to China’s ludicrous claim to Taiwan. For the sake of not just Taiwan but the world, all options must be on the table when it comes to furthering Taiwan’s presence on the international stage. – Foreign Policy

Michael Mazza writes: The United States, Europe, and Taiwan have far more shared interests than divergent ones. Finding ways to advance them in a coordinated fashion should be a priority in the decade to come. – The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Amy Searight writes: But in contrast to many countries in China’s immediate neighborhood that lack strong institutions and commitment to rule of law, transparency, and democratic norms, advanced democracies such as Australia have some advantages to bring to this challenge and should leverage their strengths to combat malign influence. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

James Jay Carafano and Riley Walters write: Unless the Quad economies can focus on structural reforms focused on economic freedom as they strive to get their economies back to work, they can expect a struggle to get back to just average economic growth—and even that will not be enough to truly recover. Working together, however, they can better find the strength to do what’s necessary to get their economies moving again. – The Daily Signal


Russian President Vladimir Putin sent telegrams on Friday to U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, suggesting the need to rekindle their nations’ cooperation during World War Two to solve today’s problems. – Reuters

Russia and the United States will soon resume talks on strategic stability, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday, the RIA news agency reported. – Reuters

Ian Ona Johnson writes: Rewriting history does nothing to honor the sacrifice of millions of Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to defeat Nazi Germany. And, as the seen in the U.S.S.R., historical half-truths aren’t a durable foundation for political order. Mr. Putin would be wise to avoid making history his enemy. – Wall Street Journal

David Ignatius writes: Russia is picking up the pieces in the post-pandemic Middle East, not so much to further a grand strategy as to poke its deflated rival, the United States. This is scavenger diplomacy, feeding off the carcasses of these broken states. – Washington Post

Andrei Kolesnikov writes: A leader who can only offer the country its past as the future will unwittingly drive himself into a trap, taking all Russians with him. If Stalin is both our past and future, what development of the country can we hope for? In preventing the nation from having a serious conversation about its troubled past, the Kremlin makes it harder to find a way forward. And this is a more serious obstacle to Russia’s development than all of its current economic hardships. – Washington Post

Brian Michael Jenkins writes: The lack of any effective American response could encourage Russia as well as other adversaries of the United States to continue or escalate their campaigns. Exposing Russian activities is a matter of policy and politics, not the Constitution or the law.  First Amendment concerns are important, but they do not protect hostile information campaigns by foreign actors, nor are they a legal excuse for inaction by the United States. – The Hill


The New York-based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has paid $11 million or more to avoid a lawsuit by a former Ukrainian prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, who blamed the firm for aiding in her political persecution. – New York Times

Authorities in southern Germany say a 25-year-old man arrested on suspicion of attacking Turkish-owned grocery stores told investigators he considers himself a supporter of the Islamic State group. – Associated Press

Malta’s ambassador to Finland resigned on Sunday after he came under fire for comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler, Malta’s ministry of foreign affairs said in an emailed statement. – Reuters

The coronavirus pandemic has shown Europe is too reliant on other countries for some medical supplies, and European states should work together to further diversify international supply chains, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Reuters. – Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump during a phone call on Friday marked the end of World War Two in Europe 75 years ago, a German government spokesman said. – Reuters

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a newspaper interview on Saturday there was a growing risk of a hard Brexit in the midst of the coronavirus crisis as negotiations between Britain and the European Union so far on the future trade relationship had yielded hardly any progress. – Reuters

Germany saw a 13% rise in antisemitic crimes over the past year, soon-to-be-published police data reveals. – Algemeiner

Brussels is looking to carve out a greater role for the EU in the coronavirus recovery by drawing up a fund to take equity stakes in systemic companies. – Politico

Péter Krekó writes: Democratic backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe opens the door wide for malign influence from Russia, China and other authoritarian countries. It should not be ignored. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Jelena Milić and Ben Hodges write: Further down the road, collective action by Initiative members could help reduce energy dependence on Russia, improve military (and crisis) mobility in Europe, and undertake a comprehensive economic, defense, and security response to increasing Russian and Chinese presence. The prerequisite for further progress will be the continuation of the United States’ positive, balanced, yet flexible approach towards negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. – Center for European Policy Analysis

William Butler writes: Our dedication to a common purpose and shared values still guides our mission at USEUCOM. The bonds forged in wartime gave birth to modern-day partnerships and Alliances such as NATO. Today, the strength of our transatlantic ties are demonstrated in our collective response to COVID-19 and will be indispensable in recovery. – Military Times

James Carafano, Luke Coffey, Nile Gardiner, Ambassador Terry Miller, Klon Kitchen, Theodore Bromund and Daniel Kochis write: The U.S.–European economic recovery plan described in this Special Report will ensure that Washington and European capitals work effectively together[…]. The enemies of the free world will seek to use the COVID-19 pandemic to divide the United States from its allies, sow division and disinformation, and exert greater influence. They must not be allowed to do so. This is a key moment for the transatlantic community to stand strong and steadfast, and to look forward to a new era of cooperation. –  Heritage Foundation

Anthony B. Kim writes: Grasping and practically capitalizing on all opportunities to further deepen the transatlantic relationship is in the mutual interests of America and Estonia. The two countries share fundamental values, and Estonia, though small in size, has established itself as big in terms of leadership in promoting democracy and economic freedom. – The Daily Signal

Cully Stimson writes: As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, it’s important to remember the sacrifices that others made so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have to this day. Millions made the ultimate sacrifice for you and me, and for that, we can never thank them or their families enough. So, as we carry on through this current challenge, we should pause to think about how the world is a better place because of victory over the forces of evil, and pray that we never have such a war again. – The Daily Signal

Maya Sion-Tzidkiyahu writes: The EU has displayed resilience in bouncing back from its initial hesitant and uncoordinated response. However, the decisive question in the wake of the crisis is whether European leaders and citizens view the EU as a political or merely an economic functional project. In this context, it is too soon to chart the balance of EU losses and wins in the coronavirus crisis. – Jerusalem Post


A plane carrying humanitarian supplies that crashed in Somalia on Monday may have been shot down by Ethiopian troops, according to a new report from the office of the African Union Force Commander in Somalia. – New York Times

At least 20 people were killed in attacks by unidentified gunmen on several villages in the Tillaberi region of western Niger, the governor of the region said on Sunday. […]Tillaberi is in the tri-border region of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali known as Liptako-Gourma, where Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have strengthened their foothold, making swathes of the arid Sahel area ungovernable. – Reuters

Silvia Romano, an Italian aid worker kidnapped 18 months ago in East Africa, landed in Rome on Sunday a day after being freed. – Reuters

Three United Nations peacekeepers were killed and four severely wounded after a routine patrol hit improvised explosive devices in the northern Mali region of Aguelhok, the United Nations said on Sunday. – Reuters

Jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization have been overrunning gold mines like Tambura’s one by one as they try to gain control of Burkina Faso’s most lucrative industry. The extremists are then collecting a “protection tax” from communities living around the gold mines and also forcing the miners to sell them the gold exclusively, which is then smuggled and sold across the border in places like Benin, Ghana or Togo. – Associated Press

North America

The United States issued a new rule on Friday tightening visa guidelines for Chinese journalists, saying it was in response to the treatment of U.S. journalists in China, a shift that comes amid tensions between the two nations over the coronavirus global pandemic. – Reuters

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday put a temporary hold on the disclosure to a Democratic-led House of Representatives committee of grand jury material redacted from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. – Reuters

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday that his government will send a diplomatic note to the United States requesting information about a historic gun-running sting run by the U.S. government known as “Fast and Furious.” – Reuters

Ryan C. Berg writes: Just before to the pandemic — and as a result of the trade war with China — Mexico vaulted into the position of the United States’ number one trade partner. At the time, speculation grew that Mexico would be one of the largest beneficiaries of China’s manufacturing slide. Naturally, the North American market could play a substantial role in substituting China as a source of critical goods. Alas, those strategic opportunities may be squandered. – American Enterprise Institute

Scott Kennedy writes: A more effective way to expand U.S. exports and its broader economic interests vis-à-vis China would be a two-step approach. […]That does not mean giving up bilateral negotiations and even some kinds of unilateral action in certain circumstances. Instead, it means tilting the overall playing field in America’s favor, which would translate into a greater opportunity to advance U.S. interests on the full range of economic issues it faces with China, including promoting U.S. exports. The data now show that the current experiment is not up to the challenge. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Latin America

As a top Venezuelan army general, Clíver Alcalá helped to prepare the country for a widely feared foreign invasion. But after breaking with the Socialist regime, he fled here to Colombia and planned last weekend’s botched raid on his homeland that was supposed to pierce the very defenses he had set up. – Wall Street Journal

Eleven alleged “terrorists” were arrested on Sunday in connection with the failed maritime “invasion” of Venezuela, authorities said, bringing the total captured to more than 40. – Agence France-Presse

Venezuela’s military said it seized three abandoned Colombian light combat vessels that soldiers found on Saturday while patrolling the Orinoco river, several days after the government accused its neighbor of aiding a failed invasion. – Reuters

Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab said on Friday his office had requested the detention and extradition of U.S. military veteran Jordan Goudreau and two Venezuelans accused of involvement in a failed armed incursion earlier this week. – Reuters

Russian soldiers are operating drones over Venezuela as part of a search operation for members of a paramilitary force that led a botched invasion this week, local media reported on Friday, citing deleted tweets from a state military command center. – Reuters

The White House National Security Council on Friday denied the United States was involved in a bungled incursion into Venezuela this week, allegedly to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, adding if it had been, it would have been “overt, direct & effective.” – Reuters

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The Guaidó team now says it balked at the Goudreau plan in part because it did not trust former Venezuelan General Cliver Alcalá, whose brother is Mr. Maduro’s ambassador to Tehran but who claimed to have switched sides. Mr. Alcalá was taken into custody in the U.S. on drug-trafficking charges in March. But that he got close to the Guaidó team in the first place is another credit to Cuba’s intel network—most likely in this case with a lot of help from Iran. – Wall Street Journal


Russian hackers could target election officials working from home. Adversaries could spread rumors about coronavirus outbreaks at polling sites to deter people from showing up on Election Day. Or they could launch disinformation campaigns claiming elections have been delayed or canceled entirely because of the virus. – Washington Post

Hackers linked to Iran have targeted staff at U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc in recent weeks, according to publicly-available web archives reviewed by Reuters and three cybersecurity researchers, as the company races to deploy a treatment for the COVID-19 virus. – Reuters

U.S. tech giants such as Facebook and Amazon could face tougher rules as European Union regulators seek evidence to curb their role as gatekeepers to the internet and access to people, information and services, according to an EU tender seen by Reuters. – Reuters

Trimble, one of the the GPS manufacturers caught up in DoD’s battle to block the FCC’s approval of Ligado’s planned 5G mobile communications network, is accusing Ligado of misrepresentation. – Breaking Defense


VOX Space has received approval to launch payloads into orbit from Guam, the company announced May 7, and its first launch there will place experimental cubesats on orbit for various government agencies. – C4ISRNET

A bipartisan group of 22 members of the House Armed Services Committee have called on the Federal Communications Commission to reverse its support for Ligado’s L-Band plan, another salvo from Congress’ defense committees as they scramble to block a move the Pentagon says will harm the Global Positioning System. – C4ISRNET

Rep. Rob Wittman writes: Whether it’s a pandemic or a proliferated naval threat, our citizens expect the United States to respond effectively, and we must make the necessary investments to counter the threats to our nation and our Navy. – Defense News

Michael O’Hanlon writes: If we do not listen to that message, the entire domestic basis for a strong United States and an engaged foreign policy leadership role could evaporate. Domestic policy has turned to foreign policy. Both the Pentagon and the candidates should take heed. As we emerge from the emergency response to coronavirus in the months to come, this more than any other is the debate we need to have as a country.- The Hill

Bryan Clark and Dan Patt write: The U.S. military needs new approaches to warfighting if it is going to deter aggression and counter gray-zone tactics from great power and regional competitors. Technology proliferation and post-pandemic budget and experimentation constraints will prevent staying ahead through superior equipment and tactics alone. DoD will need to start enabling what American military leaders have always said is their greatest resource: the creativity and adaptability of their warfighters. – Defense One