Fdd's overnight brief

May 19, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran is exporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil each day, violating American sanctions even as world powers negotiate to lift the economic penalties and revitalize a nuclear accord that was rendered all but defunct by the Trump administration. – New York Times

A senior Russian diplomat denied reports that he expects an imminent breakthrough in critical negotiations over restoring the Iranian nuclear deal, after tweets suggesting such an advance triggered a slump in oil prices. – Bloomberg

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is warning that U.S. money that would go to Iran if the Biden administration rejoins the Iran nuclear deal could end up funding terror groups like Hamas — which is currently launching rockets into Israel. – Fox News

Approving a variety of candidates for Iran’s presidential election could help boost turnout for a vote that authorities already worry may see little enthusiasm, a spokesman for the panel that examines them said Tuesday. – Associated Press

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard write: Interestingly, two sites, Shahid Boroujerdi and Al Ghadir, both tunnel complexes, were visible in commercial satellite imagery, but it was not known until the archive that they were part of the Amad Plan and had a nuclear weapons purpose. […]About half of the Amad sites were unknown by Western intelligence and the IAEA until after the seizure of the Nuclear Archive. Except in one case, the archive provides much greater detail about the Amad sites that were already known prior to its seizure. – Institute for Science and International Security

Ellie Cohanim writes: But if the Biden administration continues down the path of pursuing the Iranian regime for reentry into the JCPOA, we can all expect more regional instability and more needless bloodshed in the Middle East. We are seeing the consequences of emboldening the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, in real time. – The Hill

Seth  J. Frantzman writes: But Iran’s drones don’t really loiter; they just fly into things. Israel, a pioneer of its own lines of loitering munitions, is an expert in defending against drones with a plethora of anti-drone systems. These now include Iron Dome, Drone Dome, Re-Drone, Drone Guard, Xtend’s series of net-shooting drones used by special forces, Skylock and other systems. As the threat grows, so does the solution. – Jerusalem Post

Ilan Berman writes: These statistics highlight that the true political tug-of-war within Iran isn’t taking place inside the regime itself, but between the country’s clerical elite and the captive population it desperately seeks to control. Only by backing the latter against the former can the United States help steer the country in a more moderate, pluralistic direction. Unfortunately, at the moment, the Biden administration seems determined to do precisely the opposite. – Newsweek


Sliding in opinion polls amid a severe economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is looking unusually embattled these days. And now his administration has been hit by a roiling corruption scandal that some say has a fin de siècle aura about it. – New York Times

The United States on Tuesday strongly condemned recent comments by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the Jewish people as anti-Semitic, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his domestic political allies have floated sending military forces to Jerusalem, including fighter jets, to give Palestinians air cover as the Israel-Hamas crisis gives him an opportunity to boost his regional influence and standing at home. – Washington Examiner


Israel said Tuesday it was focusing on targeted killings of Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip as it tries to quell the militant group’s operations there, defying growing calls for a cease-fire amid a rising civilian toll. – Wall Street Journal

Palestinian public-health authorities say doctors are struggling to treat hundreds of people injured in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza as medical supplies run short in hospitals on the verge of collapse. – Wall Street Journal

More than 38,000 Palestinians have had to flee their homes since fighting erupted a week ago between Israel and Hamas, the militant group which rules Gaza, sheltering in schools, mosques and the homes of family and friends, according to the United Nations. – Wall Street Journal

Fighting between Israel and Hamas dragged into a 10th day Wednesday even as international demands for a cease-fire mounted, with France pushing a United Nations Security Council resolution and Democrats piling pressure on President Biden to do more to stop the conflict. – Washington Post

As the highest political authority in Gaza, selected in a secretive internal Hamas election in 2017 and reelected this year, Sinwar may be the closest thing the Palestinian territory has to a top leader — arguably the equivalent of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Washington Post

A confluence of factors — some decades old, others more immediate — has contributed to the worst violence in years. Here’s what you need to know. – Washington Post

President Biden has maintained his public support toward Israel even as he adopted a somewhat sharper private tone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a calculus shaped by Mr. Biden’s longtime relationship with the Israeli leader as well as by growing hopes that Israel’s military operations against Hamas are nearing an end. – New York Times

Gaza health officials said on Tuesday they had no reports of Palestinians killed overnight in ongoing Israeli strikes on the enclave, the first apparent reduction of casualties since fighting erupted on May 10. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Washington had received further information about Israel’s destruction of a Gaza high-rise that housed the local offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera news organisations. – Reuters

China’s U.N. ambassador says France is seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants who control Gaza. – Associated Press

Once smuggled by land or water from Sudan along the Red Sea, then in Sinai tunnels to reach Gaza, Hamas rockets are now manufactured in the tiny seaside city itself, security experts tell the Washington Examiner. – Washington Examiner

The Arab-Israeli sector held a major strike across Israel and the West Bank on Tuesday to express solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post

The civil rights organization Shurat Hadin Law Center filed a war crimes complaint last week against Hamas to the International Criminal Court (ICC). – Jerusalem Post

A top Israel Defense Forces general on Tuesday said he would consider the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip to be a success if it ensured calm along the border for the next five years. – Times of Israel

The Biden administration is increasingly hopeful that the deadly conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants is in its final stages, and U.S. officials are confident their mostly behind-the-scenes intervention helped avert an early Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. – Politico

Israel may be headed towards a ceasefire, former Shabak (Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen told Kan News. – Arutz Sheva

David Ignatius writes: Wars are often the result of blunders. […]Over the following weeks, a chain of errors by Israelis and Palestinians led us to this deadly impasse. Maybe it’s folly to talk about an Israeli-Palestinian reset. But given the stakes, and the seemingly unending loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives, it’s irresponsible to talk about anything else. – Washington Post

Adam Lee Goldstein writes: In the coming days, years and decades, I hope that what is happening now under the roof of this hospital — the selflessness, the lack of ego, the teamwork and diversity and mutual respect — can be a model for this entire country, for our entire region. If neighbors and communities can’t work together, can’t get along in the way that I see every night in our hospital, I worry that we are guaranteeing that the suffering across this country will only get worse. – New York Times

Elliott Abrams writes: The greater test will be over this arms sale to Israel. If it is delayed, the Biden administration will have shown its pro-Israel rhetoric to be hollow and will demonstrate that in the Democratic Party the traditional support for Israel is eroding quickly. My own bet is that the sale will not be delayed, because administration officials will realize the gravity of such a step. We will know the answer soon. – Council on Foreign Relations

Josh Block writes: The attacks on Israel that we are now seeing were absent under the Trump administration precisely because all parties, from Ramallah to Gaza to Tehran, understood that this behavior would not be tolerated. Given the stakes for America and the region, the Biden administration would do well to reconsider any policies that embolden Israel’s foes and must make it clear to Hamas and Iran that their latest gambit will not succeed. – Washington Examiner

Ghaith Al-Omari writes: Even if a comprehensive peace remains out of reach for now, diplomacy must not be among the victims in this latest tragic conflagration. In the midst of the current despair, the world, under U.S. leadership, needs to demonstrate to the Palestinians that a cooperative, peaceful approach can be a viable alternative to Hamas’ violent ways. – NBC News

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders must recognize this reality to move forward, as well as the legitimacy of the other side’s positions, and it is far from clear who such leaders now are on either side. […]As has been warned in the introduction to this analysis, it will also be all too easy for outside states to posture while the crisis lasts and leave when it is over. Moreover, there is a serious real-world risk that outside instability from Syria, Iran, Turkey – or instability in Lebanon, Jordan, or Egypt – will add to the Israel-Palestinian problems. Some form, of opportunistic arming of Hamas seems particularly likely. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Ritchie Torres writes: We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced by an overbearing Twitter mob, dominated by the extremes of American politics. If we, in elected office, are not willing to say and do what is right, then we are unworthy of the office we hold. I am here to state, in clearest possible terms, that I stand with Israel, because doing so, quite simply, is the right thing to do. – New York Post

Ron Jontof-Hutter writes: In this way, deterrence based on cultural factors such as humiliation and helplessness could be more effective and curtail the emboldened confidence that Hamas portrays. Deterrence to be effective, therefore needs to be fine-tuned so that it addresses cultural factors including Hamas delusions of grandeur, misplaced spin of martyrdom and victory. Israel wins battles but usually loses the PR and psychological wars. Demanding the return of Israelis kept hostage in Gaza as part of any ceasefire deal would be a step in the right direction. – Arutz Sheva

Yaakov Lappin writes: As time goes by, Hamas is paying a steeper price, as are, sadly, Gaza’s civilians, the source said. […]While Hamas’s leadership enjoys electricity via generators, hundreds of thousands of Gazans have no electricity because of Hamas rockets that fell short, knocking out power lines that connect Israel to the Strip’s power grid. – Arutz Sheva

Ben-Dror Yemini writes: When images of destruction are shown to the world, one can understand the demand for a ceasefire. But no one has the right to demand anything of Israel. Even Sweden would have bombed any target of the Islamic Jihad organization near its border if it had fired missiles at Stockholm. Background and facts are important. It is vital to know that Hamas is a radical jihadist organization that Israel has not only a right, but the obligation, to separate from its weaponry. – Ynet

Itamar Eichner writes: The U.S. opposed the wording of the draft, calling it one sided and prevented its publication. But the UN General Assembly, where Palestinians enjoy majority support, is set to convene on Thursday and a resolution to that effect may be forthcoming. A U.S. abstention on such a resolution, along the lines of then-president Barack Obama’s decision to abstain on a 2016 Security Council condemnation of Israel for its settlement policy, could be a bellwether for the future of American policy in the region. – Ynet


Egypt has asked Israel not to increase its attacks in the Gaza Strip, according to a report by the Al-Arabiya network early Tuesday morning.  – Jerusalem Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: Egypt’s efforts, by themselves, will not produce a truce. The fighting will only stop when both belligerents reckon they have reached a point of diminishing returns, where the cost of fighting exceeds the military or propaganda gains. Whenever Israel and Hamas reach that stage, it will be to Egypt that they turn for mediation.It will be a moment for Sisi to savor, while Joe Biden expresses his “support” from the sidelines. – Bloomberg

Haisam Hassanein writes: In return for a tonal shift, Washington could offer to support Cairo in taking the driver’s seat on Israeli-Palestinian matters, minimizing Qatar and Turkey’s role. This may include promoting Egypt as a host for diplomatic conferences related to Gaza, which would likely boost Sisi’s standing domestically and regionally. Lastly, all of these efforts would be enhanced by more high-profile U.S. initiatives to encourage further normalization deals between Israel and Arab/Muslim-majority countries. – Washington Institute

Gulf States

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary-general called on the Lebanese foreign minister to issue an official apology to the council’s member states “for the unacceptable offences that came from him.” – Reuters

Last week, for the first time in over a year, Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a Saudi royal who was abducted and detained in 2019, made contact with the outside world, two sources told Insider. – Business Insider

The ongoing bloodshed in the Gaza Strip has unleashed a chorus of voices across Gulf Arab states that are fiercely critical of Israel and emphatically supportive of Palestinians. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia will support African countries with investments and loans worth about $1 billion this year to help their economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Kuwait on Tuesday summoned the Lebanese embassy’s charge d’affaires to hand him an official protest note condemning Lebanon’s foreign minister’s “insults”, Kuwait’s foreign ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Saudi Aramco is co-leading a report on cyber resilience in the oil and gas industry with the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Siemens Energy (SIEGn.DE), the Saudi Arabian state oil giant wrote on Twitter. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

More than 6,000 migrants have swum or waded from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in recent days, ratcheting up tensions and prompting Spain to deploy troops to the North African outpost. – Washington Post

Israel’s deadly Gaza offensive has many eyes trained on the Lebanese border for a Hezbollah reaction, but observers argue the Iran-backed movement is unlikely to risk an all-out conflict. – Agence France-Presse

One of two candidates running against longtime Syrian ruler Bashar Assad is casting himself as the first opposition representative to vie for the country’s top post. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s president said on Tuesday that critical comments made by the foreign minister about Gulf states did not reflect official policy, seeking to avoid further strain on ties with countries that have been Lebanon’s allies and donors. – Reuters

The United States on Tuesday sent its highest-level official to Libya since 2014 in what it called a signal of Washington’s increased focus on efforts to resolve the country’s crisis. – Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by video conference to Jordan’s King Abdullah on Tuesday about the escalating violence in the Middle East, with both backing efforts to reach a ceasefire, Merkel’s spokesman said. – Reuters

Authorities in Copenhagen argue that parts of Syria are now safe enough for refugees to return. – BBC

Matthew RJ Brodsky writes: While Arab leaders sympathize with the Palestinian people, the accords showed that Mideast states have wearied of a corrupt and intransigent Palestinian leadership. […]These fundamental dynamics remain beyond the grasp of the dangerously deluded peace-process industry, which remains bent on pulling the region backward, all to fit their disproved theories. There is plenty of more work to be done to expand the peace and normalization framework. – New York Post

Korean Peninsula

North Korean defectors and activists urged Joe Biden to ramp up pressure on North Korea over human rights as South Korean President Moon Jae-in headed to Washington on Wednesday for his first summit with the U.S. president. – Reuters

President Joe Biden is looking to build on a denuclearization agreement Donald Trump reached with North Korea, a move likely to be welcomed by South Korea, which has seen it as a starting point for disarmament discussions. – Bloomberg

Police say the wife of Belgium’s ambassador to South Korea has invoked her right to diplomatic immunity to avoid criminal charges over allegations she assaulted two employees of a shop in Seoul during an altercation in April. – Associated Press


An expansive bill that would pour $120 billion into jump-starting scientific innovation by strengthening research into cutting-edge technologies is barreling through the Senate, amid a rising sense of urgency in Congress to bolster the United States’ ability to compete with China. – New York Times

China accused the United States on Wednesday of threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait after a U.S. warship again sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour. – Reuters

China is resisting bilateral talks with the United States on nuclear weapons, the U.S. disarmament ambassador told a U.N. conference on Tuesday, as Washington seeks to advance efforts to reduce nuclear arms stockpiles. – Reuters

Human rights activists on Tuesday called for athletes to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in China and put pressure on the International Olympic Committee over the staging of the Games. – Reuters

The Biden administration on Tuesday gave investors two extra weeks to buy or sell securities in certain companies it deems are tied to the Chinese military, an extension it said was needed to craft a stronger policy to prohibit such trades. – Reuters

The U.S. customs agency blocked a shipment of Fast Retailing Co.’s Uniqlo shirts in January for violating an order prohibiting imports of items suspected to be produced by forced labor from China’s state-owned Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. – Bloomberg

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called for a “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics because of China’s human rights violations. – Agence France-Presse

While the commandant of the Marine Corps has ushered in a slew of changes to prepare the service for potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific region, Gen. David Berger today emphasized that he does not believe war between the U.S. and China is inevitable. – USNI News

The U.S. government has continued to express concerns about China’s record concerning the proliferation of nuclear- and missile-related technologies to other countries, with more recent focus on the threat of Chinese acquisition of U.S.-origin nuclear technology. – USNI News

Israel’s Embassy in China is protesting what it describes as “blatant anti-Semitism” on a program run by the overseas channel of state broadcaster CCTV discussing the ongoing violence in Gaza and elsewhere. – Associated Press

Joseph Bosco writes: The Biden administration has just given China the great gift of freeing those companies to continue business as usual and allowing the communist party-state to continue utilizing their work for its malign purposes. Chinese leader Xi Jinping can be expected to detect and exploit weakness. – The Hill

David H. Shinn writes: While it is important not to overstate the security implications or suggest that China is even close to replacing the military presence of the United States and other Western powers in the region, it is equally important to understand that the initiative, and, especially, that part of it that transits the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden intends over the long term to elevate China from a regional to a global power. The challenge for China will be implementation of this goal as it tries to avoid its aversion to kinetic military activity and interfering in the internal affairs of countries in the region. – Middle East Institute

Scott B. MacDonald writes: Looking ahead, we do not see a Chinese invasion imminent, but Taiwan is already reprising its Cold War role as a geopolitical flashpoint between the world’s two superpowers. […]Taiwan remains a major prize for the Chinese Communist Party for historical and strategic reasons. This will be a major test for the United States in terms of either standing by its friends and keeping the Taiwanese chip industry as a key part of its supply chains or eventually seeking to follow the appeasement of China. Everyone knows how appeasement eventually turns out. – The National Interest


The United States and its NATO allies are exploring a possible international effort to help secure the airport in Afghanistan’s capital after American troops withdraw from the country, the top U.S. general said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Predictions that the Taliban will quickly overrun Afghan government forces and conquer Kabul once U.S. and coalition forces have fully withdrawn are unduly pessimistic, Washington’s special envoy to Afghanistan said Tuesday. – Associated Press

In the heart of territory under siege from the Taliban, one of Afghanistan’s most important hydroelectric dams is at the centre of a power struggle that symbolises the battle between the government and insurgents. – Agence France-Presse

During the first three months of 2021, the Taliban stepped up attacks against the Afghan people, maintained close ties with Al Qaeda and actively planned for large-scale offensives — all while peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government failed to make any progress, according to a new report by the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General. – NBC News

Since President Joe Biden’s decision to pull troops from Afghanistan, the U.S. has completed up to 20% of the process of withdrawing from the country, the U.S. Central Command said Tuesday. The Biden administration said Monday that the conflict between Israel and Hamas would not stall that effort. – CNBC

House lawmakers are increasingly frustrated with the Biden administration’s lack of progress in expediting special immigrant visas for thousands of Afghans who have worked with the U.S. as the deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from the country gets closer. – Politico


China’s military is playing a key role in the recovery of an Indonesian naval submarine that sank last month, a challenging operation that analysts say could boost Beijing’s soft power in the region. – Wall Street Journal

People displaced by an upsurge of fighting in Myanmar’s Chin State voiced concerns over shelter and supplies as more flee the conflict that has sprung up between the army and insurgents opposed to the junta that seized power in February. – Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pointed to strong trade with China as evidence of an ongoing relationship despite Beijing’s criticism of Canberra, as opposition Labor accused him of using alarmist rhetoric for domestic political gains. – Reuters

More than 800 people have been killed by Myanmar’s security forces since a wave of protests broke out across the country after the military seized power in a coup in February, an activist group said. – Reuters

Japan’s government on Tuesday withdrew a bill that would have made it easier to deport failed applicants for refugee status, officials said, after the death in March of a Sri Lankan woman at an immigration detention centre sparked criticism. – Reuters

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday the Philippines would not waver in defence of its interests in the South China Sea, even though he had barred his ministers from talking about the situation there in public. – Reuters

Hong Kong’s leader said that freezing the assets of democracy activist Jimmy Lai, including his majority stake in media publisher Next Digital, would hopefully reinforce the Asian financial hub’s status by ensuring national security. – Reuters

The number of people from Myanmar seeking shelter in India has swelled to more than 15,000, with more likely to cross over as fighting intensifies in parts Myanmar following a coup, an Indian government official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Myanmar’s military rulers are seeking to limit access to the internet to an internal network of only “whitelisted” sites to quash opposition to their seizure of power, according to a report by the International Crisis Group. – Associated Press

Kyrgyz and Tajik officials have agreed to jointly control law and order along a disputed segment of the border to ease tensions following deadly clashes late last month. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The media giant cut ties with Adeel Raja, a Pakistani journalist who worked as a freelance contributor with CNN, shortly after he tweeted this Sunday that “The world today needs a Hitler”. – Arutz Sheva


Russia’s parliament approved a bill on Tuesday that would bar members of “extremist” organisations from serving as lawmakers, a move that allies of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny say aims to stop them running in September’s parliamentary election. – Reuters

The Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany, according to two sources briefed on the decision. – Axios

Secretary of State Antony Blinken plans to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during the Arctic Council summit in Iceland on Wednesday night, according to a State Department spokesman. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Put simply, Biden might say the right things about NATO. He might even do some of the right things. But actions such as this are great gifts to Putin. If this is Biden being tough on the ex-KGB man, I hope we never have to learn what Biden’s weakness is. – Washington Examiner


The European Union on Monday decided to temporarily suspend some measures at the heart of a steel tariff dispute with the United States that is seen as one of the major trade issues dividing the two sides. – Associated Press

European Union foreign ministers called Tuesday for a cease-fire to end days of heavy fighting between the Israeli armed forces and Palestinian militants, but said that a longer-term political solution must be found to end decades of conflict between them. – Associated Press

Belarus’s authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed into law legislation that allows police and security forces to shoot at demonstrators. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Financial police in Belarus have launched a probe against the country’s largest independent online media outlet, Tut.by, in what the United States, human rights groups, and media freedom watchdogs denounced as the Belarusian authorities’ latest move in their crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement and free media. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The European Parliament is expected to pass a motion on Thursday pushing to formally freeze the EU’s investment agreement with China, in the wake of what MEPs describe as Beijing’s “baseless and arbitrary” sanctions on EU lawmakers earlier this year. – Politico

Helen Warrell and George Parker write: Whether or not Downing Street would risk such a confrontation is unclear. In the short term, the UK is busy trying to collaborate with western allies on China policy — an effort which gained urgency after last year’s decision to excise Huawei from UK 5G networks, prompting discussions with allies on how to fast-track the development of alternative telecoms providers. – Financial Times

Andreas Kluth writes: But the EU should also be clear about its expectations. First, all involved, including Hungary, must acknowledge the geopolitical subtext and unambiguously declare their allegiance to Brussels, foregoing dalliances with Beijing. […]This joint European project should instead mark the beginning of an overdue reconciliation and integration between Europe’s east and west. If the 12 between the three seas endorse that idea, then all 27 can become a new bulwark of the wider West. – Bloomberg

Kathrin Hille writes: But while the nations sending gunboats to the Chinese coast in the 19th century shared the simple goal of forcing Beijing to let them extract economic benefits from the country, the situation today is more complicated, raising the question of the outcome Europe’s new naval diplomacy can achieve. – Financial Times


IMF member countries have agreed to clear Sudan’s arrears to the institution, France’s president said on Monday, removing a final hurdle to the African nation getting wider relief on external debt of at least $50 billion. – Reuters

The head of the World Health Organization has described the situation in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region as horrific. – BBC

Chad’s deputy foreign minister warned the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya are crossing into the Sahel, threatening to undermine gains in fighting terrorism by five West African nations and plunge the region into violence that will be difficult to control. – Associated Press

Mozambique’s reticence to enlist the help of its neighbors to quash an Islamist insurgency runs counter to a regional assessment of how best to speedily halt the violence, South Africa’s state security minister said. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Congress on Tuesday released three lists of Central American politicians whom the State Department has found to be corrupt or involved in narcotrafficking, underscoring the challenge facing the Biden administration as it attempts to work with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to deter migration. – Washington Post

The release on Tuesday of a U.S. government list labeling 17 Central American politicians as corrupt prompted El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele to praise China, and its congress to ratify a 2019 cooperation agreement with the country. – Reuters

Jesus Santrich, one of the most prominent leaders of a group of Colombia’s former FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace accord, has been killed in Venezuela in an operation by Colombia’s military, former FARC dissidents said late on Tuesday. – Reuters

United States

President Biden is increasingly coming into conflict with fellow Democrats as he resists a shift in his party toward a tougher stand on Israel and stronger support for the Palestinians, a disconnect highlighted Tuesday by Biden’s visit to a region that is a center of Arab American life in the United States. – Washington Post

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters a top Democrat will no longer try to block the Biden administration from a $735 million sale of precision-guided missiles to Israel. – Washington Examiner

According to a recent Gallup poll, 75% of Americans still hold favourable views of Israel, but a growing number are sympathetic towards the Palestinians. – BBC

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday defended the Biden administration’s approach to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, saying “intensive” diplomatic discussions behind the scenes are the best means of reducing the violence. – The Hill

The violence has posed an early test for President Biden, who is facing pressure from some to exert more influence on Israel. But Biden “has his own understanding of the region,” and the rocket attacks by Hamas, said Ross, is “what’s guiding him probably more than anything else.” – NPR

Editorial: The real source of Democratic skepticism of Israel is less Mideast realities than domestic politics. Anti-Israel sentiment is at the leading edge of modern left-wing movements seeking to undermine liberal values. President Biden so far has shown fortitude in not buckling, but his party’s dominant left is raising the stakes at home and in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal

Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle & Matt Spetalnick write: Republicans have sought to use the Gaza conflict to hammer Biden and his fellow Democrats. Pro-Israel voters are a major part of the Republican political base and many are also Democrats and independents. […]At the same time, the Biden administration, which has touted its multilateral credentials, has found itself isolated over the Gaza issue at the United Nations. The United States has blocked any Security Council action on the issue, saying it would not help calm the crisis and would continue intensive diplomacy. – Reuters


When OPEC barred oil exports to the United States in 1973, creating long gasoline lines, President Richard Nixon pledged an effort that would combine the spirit of the Apollo program and the determination of the Manhattan Project. – New York Times

Senate Republicans grilled a Biden nominee to be the intelligence community’s top lawyer over his recent law firm work for the Chinese government and Huawei, questioning why he’d help a company seen as a national security threat. – Washington Examiner

The hackers behind the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, DarkSide, received $90 million in bitcoin ransom payments over the past nine months from dozens of online victims before shutting down last week, according to new research released Tuesday. – Washington Examiner

The Biden administration on Tuesday detailed how it wants to fund efforts to counter a wave of massive hacks in the wake of this month’s Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. – Reuters

Multiple bills meant to secure critical infrastructure against cyber threats were approved by the House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday afternoon, just a week after a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline caused fuel shortages across the nation. – The Hill

Members of a key cyber panel wanted to know why the Department of Homeland Security wasn’t alerted to the ransomware attack that set off panic-buying of gasoline and whether the Pentagon could have taken measures to stop it before it happened. – USNI News

Michael Garcia writes: The U.S. government increasingly works with private and international partners to disrupt cyber criminal infrastructure, which will come in handy if other measures do not produce their intended outcomes. But, at the bare minimum, the United States needs to understand the usefulness of its current tools, get on the same page as its allies and support them, and comprehend the threat landscape. As the Colonial Pipeline hack illustrates, the stakes are too high to not get this right. – The Hill


An F-15QA Eagle multirole fighter jet destined for Qatar declared an emergency upon landing and then left the runway at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Illinois Tuesday morning, an Air Force official told Air Force Times. – Air Force Times

U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command has tapped five companies to compete in its armed overwatch program for a new attack aircraft, awarding $19.2 million in contracts among the vendors. – Defense News

On May 12, Gen. Timothy Ray, commander of U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, confirmed that extending the Minuteman III through 2075 would actually cost $38 billion more than developing the GBSD. – Defense News

The Space Based Infrared System provides 24/7 coverage of the globe, detecting the launch of missiles and providing a critical early warning of possible threats to American war fighters. – C4ISRNET

The science and technology arm of U.S. Special Operations Command is investing in edge computing, secure data sharing and other new technologies that it expects will shape the future of warfare against near-peer adversaries. – C4ISRNET

Teledyne $8.2 billion acquisition of FLIR wrapped up on Friday and on Monday the merged teams started work to ensure all the new company’s drones can work with one another — and boy, the combined Teledyne-FLIR builds a lot of drones. – Breaking Defense

The Army is checking out two sizes of a unique low-recoil howitzer system: a 155mm gun on a 6×6 truck, Brutus, and a 105mm on a 4×4 Humvee, Hawkeye. That’s an extraordinarily small vehicle to mount an artillery piece, and reducing recoil is the key to making it work. – Breaking Defense

Special Operations Command may double its investment in cyber operations and electronic warfare in the 2022 budget, a senior command official said today, signaling a shift in how operators view the challenges on future battlefields. – Breaking Defense

The amphibious combat vehicle’s open architecture design is already allowing builder BAE Systems to experiment with adding in new combat capabilities, even as the company continues to ponder potential variants it could offer down the road. – USNI News