Fdd's overnight brief

May 17, 2023

In The News


The United States has charged a Chinese national with violating U.S. sanctions by providing to Iran materials used to produce ballistic missiles, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, in charge of energy diplomacy, started a visit to Iran on Tuesday and stressed the benefits of more cooperation in the oil and gas sectors, Moscow said. – Reuters

The families of three Iranian protesters facing the death sentence have reported that they have been told there is no chance for an amnesty and that the city prosecutor of the central Iranian city of Isfahan “is seeking their execution.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Ashka Jhaveri, Annika Ganzeveld, Andie Parry, Karolina Hird, and Nicholas Carl write: Iran is taking steps to improve operational security for convoys traveling into Syria from Iraq, likely to protect arms transfers from Israeli airstrikes. Iran also is stoking conflict between Israel and Palestinian militias, likely to enable the IRGC to transfer military equipment into Syria with less risk of Israeli interdiction. – Institute for the Study of War

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This will constitute a railway heading into Azerbaijan. This is supposed to be one of the final links on the International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) which is thousands of kilometers long and consists of rail, shipping and other routes. Ostensibly this will connect a corridor via Azerbaijan that also extends south to the Persian Gulf. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s backing for groups like PIJ in Gaza and the West Bank may have a financial tail that leads back to Iraq. After all, if Iran can siphon off some millions of dollars from Iraq to its militias, it’s plausible it can divert and redirect that to back PIJ. The overall context is that any expansion in resources for Iraq’s pro-Iranian militias is bad news for Iraq, for Iran, for Syria, Lebanon and for the region. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared himself “very pleased” as he capped off a whirlwind tour of Western Europe, during which he secured new pledges of weapons, military aid, training and support ahead of a planned counteroffensive. – Washington Post

Washington was assessing potential damage to a Patriot air-defense system sustained during a Russian missile assault on Kyiv early Tuesday morning, according to a U.S. official. – Wall Street Journal

As South Africa faces increasing pressure over its close ties to Russia, the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said on Tuesday that leaders from six African countries would visit Moscow and Kyiv on a “peace mission” in a bid to end the war in Ukraine. – New York Times

Drones have exploded over the Kremlin. Russian military aircraft are crashing before they even reach Ukrainian airspace. A Russian mercenary boss is releasing one profanity-laced tirade after another, claiming that corrupt Russian generals who “all reek of expensive perfume” are sending soldiers to their deaths. And Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive hasn’t even started in earnest. – New York Times

Ukraine and Russia will face off before the United Nations’ top court on June 6, when judges will hear Ukraine’s claim that Moscow violated a U.N. treaty by supporting pro-Russian separatists who were identified by a Dutch court as being responsible for the 2014 downing of flight MH17. – Reuters

The last ship is due to leave a port in Ukraine on Wednesday under a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, said a U.N. spokesperson, a day before Russia could quit the pact over obstacles to its grain and fertilizer exports. – Reuters

The lower house of Russia’s parliament on Tuesday voted unanimously to formally pull out of a key Cold War-era security deal, more than eight years after Moscow halted its participation. – Associated Press

A summit of a rights body spanning Europe on Tuesday created a “register of damages” to record Russia’s destruction of Ukraine for future compensation, and heard Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky plead for Western fighter jets. – Agence France-Presse

In one of its most successful feats of the war, Ukraine destroyed some of Russia’s top-shelf weapons Tuesday night, boosting President Reagan’s once-ridiculed concept of missile defense.  – New York Sun 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, has publicly escalated his feud with Russia’s military brass in recent weeks, shaming the country’s defense leaders and threatening to withdraw his troops from the frontline, all in an attempt to paint himself in a flattering light, military experts posited. – Business Insider

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter on Tuesday that without more fighter jets and long-range missiles, it’s easy for Russian forces to “torture” Ukraine. – Business Insider

Hobby drones and Google Maps were designed to enhance human life, not to end it, but when Russian tank columns seemed to be closing in on Kyiv in the days after Russia’s attack on February 24, 2022, desperate Ukrainian defenders found they had two unlikely assets. – Business Insider

Since the Russian invasion of February 2022, lawmakers have approved the disbursement of $48.9 billion in military aid to Ukraine. As of May 15, $36.4 billion of that total has been delivered, contracted, or otherwise committed. At the average rate of disbursement since the invasion began, the remaining $11.3 billion will run out in about four months. – Defense One

Editorial: There’s no strategic case for letting Ukraine exhaust its air defenses while failing to give it the equipment needed to end the war. That means ponying up the long-range Army tactical missile system that Mr. Biden has refused to offer. The Patriot’s prowess is a reminder that the U.S. has the ingenuity to meet the world’s rapidly growing threats. What it needs is political will. – Wall Street Journal

S.C.M. Paine writes: Today the Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Libyan, Yemeni, Ethiopian, Somali and Sudanese conflicts remain frozen at great cost to those countries and the region. The Wagner Group operates in Syria, Libya and Sudan, as well as farther afield in the Central African Republic, Mali, Mozambique and Chad. Without adequate bases, Russia couldn’t easily sustain these ventures. Sevastopol is the root of the problem. It’s time to uproot it. – Wall Street Journal

Therese Raphael writes: The Storm Shadow’s real significance is as much political as military. Just as the decision to donate a small number of Challenger 2 tanks spurred Germany to “release the Leopards,” we should hope that Britain has paved the way for other countries with similar long-range missiles in their arsenal to make donations, while further advancing talks on the provision of F-16s, which would ensure Ukraine’s longer-term defense. Withholding these tools for Ukraine’s defense is the ultimate false economy. – Bloomberg

Alexandra Prokopenko writes: So far, neither Russia nor Europe has a comprehensive strategy on how to deal with the stranded assets. The breakdown of ties will almost certainly exacerbate the conflict as the Kremlin seeks ways to punish Europe for imposing sanctions and supporting Ukraine. The appetite of Putin’s cronies to seize western assets in Russia will only add insult to injury. – Financial Times


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a test this month when his coalition of nationalist and religious parties seeks approval for a spending package which the government’s own budget unit says will stifle growth. – Reuters

“I took the phone from him and talked to the person on the line,” says Ataf. “He said he was from Israeli intelligence, and you have five minutes to evacuate the house.” […]It was day five of the fiercest Israeli air strikes on Gaza in nine months. The campaign of so-called targeted assassinations killed at least six leading figures in Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian territory’s second most powerful militant organisation. – BBC

The Lod District Court on Tuesday convicted Palestinians As’ad Alrafa’ani, 20, and Subhi Abu Shakir, 21, of the murder of four Israelis during an axe attack in the city of Elad on Independence Day last year. – Ynet

Hamas does not rule out a belligerent response to the controversial Jerusalem Flag March, a senior representative of the Palestinian terrorist group in Lebanon said on Tuesday. – Ynet

Imad al-Adwan, a Jordanian lawmaker who was detained last month on suspicion of smuggling weapons to the West Bank, has been formally indicted and charged, according to reports. – Haaretz

Extensive security preparations have been taking place ahead of events to mark Jerusalem Day on Thursday. The day celebrates the 56th anniversary of the city’s reunification. The main event – the Flag March – is expected to draw tens of thousands of people, to be protected by thousands of police officers. – Haaretz

A State Comptroller Report published on Tuesday afternoon points to security breaches at Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion Airport, which could allow Israeli and foreign criminals and terrorists to enter the country. – Haaretz

Twitter does not act against antisemitism, the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter on Tuesday. The remarks came after Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted about another controversial billionaire, George Soros, saying he reminds him of Magneto, the villain from X-Men who, like Soros, survived the Holocaust. – Jerusalem Post

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman reported that Israel saw over 400 attempts to illegally cross its border, including from Ben-Gurion Airport, by use of falsified ID cards during the first half of 2022. – Jerusalem Post

US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel on Tuesday urged all parties to “maintain calm” ahead of the planned Jerusalem Day Flag March on Thursday. – Arutz Sheva

Channel 13 News announced that Prime Minister Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir met yesterday (Monday) and tried to clarify between them the issues that Ben-Gvir complained about, including the conduct of the government in evacuating Khan al-Ahmar and Gaza. – Arutz Sheva

Israel is inclined to go along with a recent US request to change the name of the Negev Forum for regional cooperation to a title that is less specifically identified with the Jewish state, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

Israel and Montenegro entered into a government-to-government contract that will see Israel’s Elbit Systems supply mortar systems and training equipment to the Balkan nation. – Defense News

Florida could soon prohibit state funds from investing in companies that work in any way to undermine Israel, a move that would simultaneously hurt “woke” investment strategies and anti-Semitic boycotts. – Free Beacon

Editorial: Abbas’s hate speech does nothing to end the conflict. On the contrary. It is a deliberate effort to fuel Palestinian hatred and anti-normalization. This, in turn, promotes terrorism – well-rewarded through the PA “pay-for-slay” policy. – Jerusalem Post

Bret Stephens writes: In Israel, by contrast, the protests resume every week while Netanyahu is charged with abusing his authority by trying to buy more favorable media coverage. If that’s what counts as Israeli “fascism” — a word some left-wing Israelis like bandying about — Israelis should count themselves lucky. Seventy-five is an awkward age at which to judge a nation: The United States reached the milestone when Millard Fillmore was president. But for a country that is as widely criticized — and as critical of itself — as Israel, its people have a lot to celebrate. So many post-colonial states wilted. Israel defies the trend. – New York Times

Gad Lior writes: All that notwithstanding, the treasurer still insists the economy is doing just fine, and it’s time for the adults to step in and take the wheel. Netanyahu has proven in the past that he is able to rescue Israel’s economy from near disaster and could, if he so wished, steer the ship out of dangerous waters to a safe harbor. – Ynet

Yuddith Oppenheimer writes: The situation we find ourselves in this week is no less precarious than it was two years ago in the summer of 2021. When Netanyahu states that “quiet will be met with quiet,” the burden of proof falls no less on Israel. The responsible decision to reroute the Jerusalem Day Flag Parade from marching through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter needs to be made now and not at the last minute, and not based on the whims of extremist politicians. – Jerusalem Post

Micah Halpern writes: Israelis are terrorized, but not packing up and leaving. If anything, terrorists have successfully moved the Israeli political dial significantly in the other direction. The Israeli Left, formerly known as the peace camp, has totally imploded and all but disappeared from the political map. The Center-Center Right is the real political force and they will not bow to terror threats. – Jerusalem Post

David Makovsky writes: On the other hand, the prime minister will seek to signal to the Biden administration his desire to jointly counter Iran while building stronger ties with Saudi Arabia, both of which require prior consultation between the leaders in the Oval Office. Investors, meanwhile, are awaiting a clear signal from the prime minister either that judicial overhaul is dead or that a reasonable compromise has been reached, but Netanyahu may seek to maintain ambiguity in the hope that the issue will either fade or lose its political potency. – Washington Institute

Ghaith al-Omari writes: The creation of such a process will not be easy. But if it is not established now, the likely result will be instability and even the potential collapse of the authority after Abbas exits the scene. If that happens, the impact could be catastrophic for the region. Violence could spill over from the Palestinian territories to Israel and possibly even Jordan. This would drag the United States back into an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even as its attention and resources are focused elsewhere. At a time when U.S. influence in the region seems to be waning, paving the way for a stable PA succession is one way in which Washington can demonstrate that it is still able to make a positive difference. – Foreign Affairs

Stephen Daisley writes: So while it is tempting to see Abdullah Abu Jaba’s death as a symbol of Palestinian self-sabotage, his story was his own: that of a husband and father who worked hard for his family even as the world blew up around him. But it wasn’t enough. He needed to be someone else’s story and his death to bear a meaning it could not support. Because it couldn’t, Abu Jaba will quickly be forgotten like all the others who could not be made into symbols. He was an inconvenient Palestinian. – The Spectator


The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Tuesday called on Turkey to address shortcomings in its election process that have been identified by European observers. – Reuters

Twitter said it had filed objections to Turkish court orders requesting a ban on access to some accounts and tweets on the platform, after keeping its service available during an election weekend despite warnings from authorities in Ankara. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party came out on top in Sunday’s elections in 10 of the 11 provinces hit by February’s earthquakes, with analysts saying his vow to rebuild devastated cities had reassured voters in what are mostly AKP strongholds. – Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called Turkish voters to support him in a May 28 election runoff to maintain stability in Turkey, as he seeks to extend his rule into a third decade. – Reuters

Turkey’s market rout deepened on Tuesday amid investor expectations that President Tayyip Erdogan could be able to extend his rule – and his unorthodox economic policies – into a third decade. – Reuters

A little-known nationalist who helped push Turkey’s election to a runoff told AFP on Tuesday he could throw his support behind either President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or his secular rival. – Agence France-Presse

Twitter’s decision to block certain content in Turkey the day before its presidential election was wrong, says the founder of Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales told the BBC his organisation had spent two and a half years in court to avoid similar demands made by Turkey in the past. – BBC


Hacking group known as OilAlpha with likely ties to Yemen’s Houthi movement has targeted humanitarian groups, media outlets and nonprofits in the Arabian Peninsula via WhatsApp as part of a digital espionage campaign, according to a new report by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. – CyberScoop

Eight years after mobilising troops to topple Huthi rebels and restore Yemen’s internationally backed government, Saudi Arabia is touting reconstruction and development projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars as it pushes for peace. – Agence France-Presse

Mohamed Mokhtar Qandil writes: Whether or not al-Qaeda is able to unite these various groups, the Saudi-Houthi negotiations will undoubtedly generate some pushback as the Houthi’s power grows in Yemen, especially given the lack of inclusion of Yemeni stakeholders. Though the Saudi and Omani delegations may have expected talks to de-escalate tensions, violence and destabilization still loom on the horizon. – Washington Institute

Gulf States

Last year, the United Arab Emirates became a hub for Russian money and cut oil production, boosting Moscow’s war chest and drawing protests from Washington. The country’s leader skipped a call from President Biden as the U.S. rallied support for Ukraine. Now, Emirati President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been invited for a state visit to Washington, and the U.S. and U.A.E. are hammering out a formal agreement on defense and commerce after jointly committing $100 billion for clean-energy projects—a Biden administration goal. All the while, the Emiratis have expanded ties with Russia and another U.S. rival, China. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index rose on Tuesday, while the Dubai bourse fell and was on course to extend losses for a fourth session as traders assessed lower oil prices and concerns over the U.S. government’s debt-ceiling negotiations. – Reuters

The sister of a Saudi national imprisoned after tweets criticizing the government on Tuesday sued both Twitter and the kingdom, alleging they worked together to support “repression.” – Agence France-Presse

Middle East & North Africa

Executions around the world rose to the highest number recorded in five years in 2022, even as more countries moved to outlaw the death penalty, according to an annual report by Amnesty International released on Tuesday. […]About 90 percent of the executions recorded in 2022 were carried out by three of the world’s leading executioners, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, the report said. – New York Times

French prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, a move the governor said he would challenge through an appeal, calling it a violation of law. – Reuters

Lebanon has agreed deals to secure more fuel supplies from Iraq, the two countries said on Tuesday, as Beirut battles to produce more power to help it emerge from years of economic crisis. – Reuters

An airstrike targeted a militant group in northern Iraq’s Yazidi heartland of Sinjar on Tuesday, according to local officials, who attributed the strike to Turkey. – Associated Press

Nadia Marzouki writes: So here we are, with no freedom, no water and not enough food. The economy is close to collapse, and unemployment is endemic. Rather than confront the crises afflicting the country, Mr. Saied prefers to rant about loyalty and conspiracy. For Tunisia, it is nothing less than a tragedy. – New York Times

Sabina Henneberg and Sarah Yerkes write: Until conditions allow for the right combination of elements to help the country reverse course, the United States and the international community must use consistent, behind-the-scenes support to make sure Tunisia does not sink deeper into autocratization. This should be done in coordination with non-Western actors such as the African Union and should be reinforced by rhetoric that condemns anti-democratic actions. – Washington Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It is not likely that the Syrian regime attending a climate event will lead to any answers about how climate change fueled the conflict or if anything has been done since then to address this issue in Syria or most of the countries in the wider region. It does appear that climate disasters, such as the low water levels of the Tigris River or other ecological disasters are not being fully addressed, and considering Syria will require billions of dollars to rebuild, it’s not clear how climate issues will be at the forefront. Obviously, the invitation to Assad is merely symbolic, there’s not much likelihood that Syria will be focusing on climate issues while the country is divided and still in conflict. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, met with President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea on Tuesday to request nonlethal military aid, using a visit to Seoul to stress the need for “something more radical” than just humanitarian support to end Russia’s invasion of her country. – New York Times

Leader Kim Jong Un visited a facility assembling North Korea’s first spy satellite, indicating the state could soon conduct its first space rocket launch in about seven years. – Bloomberg

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday his country is ready to partner with South Korea on critical minerals and clean energy projects, and to fend off North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. – Reuters


China’s post-Covid growth spurt is sputtering and its youth unemployment rate hit a record high, signaling trouble for a recovery that was expected to boost global growth. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese police have detained a South Korean soccer player on allegations of bribery, the latest in a spate of enforcement actions affecting foreigners in China. – Wall Street Journal

Two Chinese warships have ventured into the Western Pacific for live-fire exercises, the military said on Tuesday, shortly after one of China’s two aircraft carriers returned from a patrol, in its latest projection of force into more distant waters. – Reuters

Three of U.S. President Joe Biden’s top aides warned on Tuesday that budget cuts would undermine the country’s ability to compete militarily, diplomatically and economically with China, a rare joint appearance in Congress underscoring Washington’s focus on competing with the Asian power. – Reuters

A Chinese fishing vessel with 39 crew members on board has capsized in the Indian ocean and President Xi Jinping has ordered that all efforts be made to search for survivors, state media reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Online brokerages Futu Holdings Ltd and UP Fintech Holding Ltd will remove apps in mainland China amid Beijing’s sharpened focus on data security and capital outflows, triggering a heavy selloff in their New York-listed shares. – Reuters

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s visit to Taiwanwas on Tuesday described as a “dangerous political show which will do nothing but harm to the United Kingdom” by a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London. – Reuters

China has notified several foreign missions in Beijing not to display “politicised propaganda” on their buildings, diplomats told Reuters, adding the request appeared aimed at Ukrainian flags they have displayed since Russia’s invasion. – Reuters

A failure to fully fund the government for next year would benefit China by hobbling the US’s ability to compete with its chief adversary, three senior Biden administration officials told a Senate panel. – Bloomberg

For one Chinese semiconductor executive, the easiest way to recruit South Korean engineers is to hang around outside factory gates. “I just go to foreign companies’ fabs and stand at the gate, asking them to come to our own production lines to do some temporary work and earn some extra money,” the executive, who did not wish to be named, told the Financial Times. – Financial Times

Hal Brands writes: That’s unlikely to happen. Rivalries over the highest stakes tend to sprawl and spiral more than the protagonists initially imagine. Waging a necessary struggle against China will require coming to grips with a rough truth: Sino-American decoupling will probably be messier, and costlier, than we presently expect. – Bloomberg

Minxin Pei writes: Instead of dismissing Ambassador Li’s tour of Europe as a cynical Chinese ploy, then, the US and its allies should keep nudging China to turn its rhetoric of peace into action. China’s evolving attitude toward the war may be too nuanced for many — and is obviously being driven by pure self-interest, not altruism. That doesn’t mean the West can’t turn the shift to its advantage and, more importantly, Ukraine’s. – Bloomberg

Bonny Lin writes: If Beijing does eventually offer any concrete proposals to settle the war, there is a risk that even seemingly neutral proposals, such as freezing the fighting in place, could prioritize the interests of Russia. Beijing is signaling that it wants to play a more active diplomatic role, but the reality is that it is operating in an arena where it has little experience. – Foreign Affairs

James Marks writes: As a geostrategic imperative, the CHIPS Act is a generational step toward bringing advanced chip manufacturing back to America. Ideally, the United States will one day reclaim its status as a world-leading manufacturer of legacy chips. But if we fail to counteract SMIC and other Chinese legacy chipmakers now, that opportunity may never come. – The National Interest


President Biden will cut short an upcoming foreign trip, skipping planned stops in Papua New Guinea and Australia amid increasingly urgent talks between the White House and Congress over how to raise the government’s debt limit and avoid a potentially catastrophic default. – Washington Post

Nearly 78 years ago, around a Hiroshima bridge not far from where President Biden is scheduled to meet world leaders this week, a 4-year-old boy named Eiji Kishida was walking with his mother. The U.S. atomic bomb dropped by the Enola Gay exploded above them, less than a mile away. […]The leaders are gathering in Hiroshima as the push is losing ground. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s war against invading Russian forces is providing lessons for Taiwan, showing how a smaller military can successfully defend against a larger one, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Japan and China used a new military hotline for the first time on Tuesday, their defence ministries said, following years of negotiations to set up the communication channel. – Agence France-Presse

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has ruled out a so-called Quad summit taking place in Sydney without President Joe Biden, saying the four leaders will talk at the Group of Seven meeting this weekend in Japan. – Associated Press

Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss warned of the economic and political threats to the West posed by China during a visit Wednesday to Beijing’s democratic rival Taiwan. – Associated Press

The speaker of Taiwan’s parliament praised Japan, South Korea and the Philippines on Tuesday for helping to create a “crescent of defense” with Taiwan and the U.S. against China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region. – Reuters

The Biden Administration will soon send Taiwan military weapons and equipment from its stockpiles but will require Congress to free up dollars to backfill that delivery, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said today. – Breaking Defense

Editorial: So while many Thais are elated, some caution — and vigilance among leaders in the United States and other democracies — is still needed. One need to look at Thailand’s neighbor, Myanmar, where the popular party of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi scored a landslide victory in elections in November 2020, only to see the military take power three months later and annul the result. Myanmar has been gripped by civil war ever since. – Washington Post

Gearoid Reidy writes: Back then, Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima, accompanied by Kishida, for whom it was a coming of age on the international stage. Biden’s visit, with other world leaders, may well lack that gravitas. Kishida seems unlikely to get concrete steps toward his denuclearization goal. But nonetheless, his homeland — a city destroyed and rebuilt by the decisions and mistakes of leaders past — will be a poignant backdrop to a crucial meeting of their successors. – Bloomberg


French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with Elon Musk Monday as part of his drive to counter U.S. subsidies and tax incentives that European officials say risk luring away investment in batteries and other technologies pivotal to the energy transition. – Wall Street Journal

China sees the Netherlands as a priority partner in the European Union, and is willing to promote cooperation in various fields, Chinese premier Li Qiang told the Dutch prime minister on Tuesday, the state CCTV channel reported – Reuters

Hungary did not approve the disbursement of the next tranche of military support for Ukraine provided under the EU’s European Peace Facility (EPF), a government spokesman’s office said on Tuesday. – Reuters

European leaders on Tuesday pledged to hold Russia to account for its war against Ukraine and unveiled a mechanism to track the losses and damage inflicted by Moscow’s forces, convening in Iceland for a two-day summit. – Reuters

The 27 European Union countries on Tuesday formally adopted new rules that should help the bloc reduce its contribution to global deforestation by regulating the trade in a series of products driving the decrease in forested areas across the world. – Associated Press

EU ministers agreed stronger rules Tuesday to crack down on the use of cryptocurrencies in tax fraud, as Brussels bolsters its efforts to regulate the volatile sector. – Agence France-Presse

Tom Rogan writes: Hungary, of course, has every right to pursue whatever foreign policy it wishes. The trouble here, at least from the perspective of the United States, is that Hungary is at least nominally a U.S. ally. But by essentially allying himself with Xi and enabling China’s security apparatus via firms such as Huawei, Orban is shredding Hungary’s alliance with the U.S. This is no peripheral concern. The U.S. military expects to be engaged in a war with China over Taiwan before this decade is out. Thousands of Americans are likely to die in any such war. That Orban is so energetically enabling the greatest adversary of his American ally thus tells us something. Viktor Orban is no friend of the U.S. – Washington Examiner

Mathieu Droin, Courtney Stiles Herdt, and Gabriella Bolstad write: Faced with these overlapping challenges, European navies are plagued by several issues such as poor availability of assets, lack of combat readiness, aging platforms, fragmentation, and insufficient coordination. This report outlines the main threats and challenges that Europeans face at sea and details the gaps in capabilities before providing recommendations for how to fill those gaps. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Eric Gordy writes: We may be tempted to regard these points about history and culture as unique to the exotic Balkans, but as is almost always the case, they are not. So we shouldn’t be too surprised that in the aftermath of Serbia’s mass shootings, the U.S. and Serbia, with all their differences, are asking themselves what they have in common—and maybe even what Serbia’s experience can teach us about the United States. – The Atlantic


The fighting that erupted in Sudan’s capital last month has ricocheted far beyond the city’s borders, worsening instability in the restive western region of Darfur and sending tens of thousands of people fleeing to neighboring countries, including Chad in Central Africa. – New York Times

At least 20 people, mostly women and children, were killed and several houses burned by armed attackers in a village in Nigeria’s central Plateau state, residents and a state official said on Tuesday, in the latest communal violence in the region. – Reuters

The rape trial of Senegal’s main opposition leader Ousmane Sonko that was due to open on Tuesday in the capital has been postponed until May 23. – Associated Press

Africa’s Sahel region has become a hot spot for violent extremism, but the joint force set up in 2014 to combat groups linked to the Islamic State, al-Qaida and others has failed to stop their inroads, and a senior U.N. official warned Tuesday that without greater international support and regional cooperation the instability will expand toward West African coastal countries. – Associated Press

A United States convoy in Nigeria was attacked on Monday, resulting in a number of casualties, the White House confirmed. The people who were injured or killed in the attack were not American citizens, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters. – Washington Examiner

John Prendergast and Brian Adeba write: Sudan is a colossal early warning sign for what awaits South Sudan if the latter’s trajectory is not somehow altered. Unfortunately, until now, the intermittent individual sanctions, press statements and diplomatic forays have been pure symbolism. To give embattled South Sudanese a chance for peace, international efforts must create real consequences for those who enrich themselves on the back of unparalleled human misery. – The Hill

Zineb Riboua writes: While Blinken’s rhetoric pays lip service to a democratic transition in Sudan, the administration’s actions suggest that it understands that a strategy centered on democracy promotion is destined to fail. China, Russia, and Iran seek to undermine the U.S.-led order globally. The only way to elevate Washington’s status in the Red Sea is by directly working with allies who can, in this case, negotiate a cease-fire between Hemeti and Burhan. Therein lies the true opportunity: to restore relations with Arab allies and to develop the Abraham Accords into a strategic instrument in the competition with Moscow and Beijing. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

A Canadian tourist was killed in the Mexican state of Oaxaca this week, local authorities said on Tuesday, a day after another tourist was killed in an attack in the popular holiday region. – Reuters

The Canadian member of Parliament allegedly targeted by a Chinese diplomat in a foreign meddling scheme said his story illustrates how the country’s national security system is malfunctioning. – Politico

Zachary R. Morgan writes: Furthermore, we should keep in mind that hostile foreign powers will undoubtedly seek to replicate whatever elements of China’s Canadian playbook appear promising, including in our own election next year. This is unlikely to be an isolated incident. While there is still time, the United States needs to get on the same page with our North American cousins and confront these threats together going forward. – The National Interest

United States

The Biden administration announced arrests and criminal charges on Tuesday in five cases involving sanctions evasion and technology espionage efforts linked to Russia, China and Iran. – New York Times

The tussle for global influence is about to intensify, as China, Russia, the US and its allies step up efforts to win over governments in a deepening competition for hearts and minds in strategic third countries. – Bloomberg

A former Apple engineer has been charged with stealing the company’s self-driving car technology, almost five years after he fled to China. Prosecutors accuse Weibao Wang, 35, of stealing thousands of files containing proprietary information while secretly working for an unnamed Chinese company. – BBC

Editorial: But all this speaks to a bigger problem: Matters such as these shouldn’t even be in the purview of a special counsel, whose role is to decide whether to bring charges, then pack up and go home. These individuals operating under the Justice Department’s purview yet imbued with extra independence have a history of overspending resources and reaching beyond their mandates. The attorney general, technically still in charge, has some power to constrain them — yet this case shows clearly what happens when he does the opposite instead. – Washington Post

Paul Waldman writes: In the end, Durham’s investigation achieved little to nothing of consequence. He indicted three people, one of whom pleaded guilty to illegally modifying an email and was sentenced to probation; the other two were acquitted. His report tries to turn what is already known about FBI sloppiness into something new and shocking. – Washington Post

Jason Nichols writes: If Trump returns to the White House, he is likely to gut the Bureau and fill it with loyalists who will key in on his perceived political enemies. If that happens, there is nothing to stop future Democrats and Republicans from doing the same. In the worst case scenario, this could send us down the road of recreating the old FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. All of which is to say, the findings of the Durham report may be negligible, but its impact will be significant. – Newsweek

Alan Dershowitz writes: Its findings should be studied by all Americans who care about applying a single standard of justice, regardless of party or personality. It has never been more important, in our deeply divided nation, to guarantee that the law will be applied equally to all. The Durham Report is a small but essential step on the right direction. – Newsweek


U.S. authorities announced criminal charges, economic sanctions and a $10 million reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest of a Russian accused of participating in a global ransomware campaign called Babuk, whose victims allegedly included D.C. police, an airline and other American industries. – Washington Post

Sam Altman, the chief executive of ChatGPT’s OpenAI, told US lawmakers on Tuesday that regulating artificial intelligence was essential, after his poem-writing chatbot stunned the world. – Agence France-Presse

When it comes to our nation’s cyber defenses, time is of the essence. Every minute our networks are not properly defended and prepared to meet new threats gives our foreign adversaries the upper hand. Cybercriminals and nation states do not consider the agencies involved or the boundaries between sectors when they plot and carry out attacks, so it is imperative that our government agencies and the private sector work together to defeat them before it’s too late. – C4ISRNet


The U.S. Army is planning a second experiment where the latest networking technologies will be tested for potential outfitting aboard armored vehicles. – Defense News

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is testing “fleet-centric” concepts and capabilities with a keen eye on unmanned systems to figure out how would the fleet connect, command and control disparate uncrewed systems that are operated remotely, semi or fully autonomously. – USNI News

Tyler McBrien writes: At their core, permanent overseas bases represent a formidable sunk cost, and in the short term, it’s hard to imagine accruing the political and bureaucratic will for this massive undertaking. But U.S. presidents have closed overseas bases in the past, so it doesn’t take much imagination to think that it could happen again. Ending or even drawing back this presence will no doubt be difficult. But for the United States, letting go of its empire of bases is not only the moral choice but the strategic one, too. – Foreign Policy