Fdd's overnight brief

May 22, 2023

In The News


Iran’s intelligence minister said a “terrorist” group linked to Israel was arrested on the western borders of Iran on Sunday, according to the semi-official Nour News agency. – Reuters

Leaders of the Group of Seven advanced nations “remain deeply concerned about Iran’s unabated escalation of its nuclear programme”, according to a draft version of their communique seen by Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

Five Iranian border guards were killed in a clash with an unknown armed group trying to enter the country near the Pakistani border, state TV reported Sunday. – Associated Press

The Mideast-based commanders of the U.S., British and French navies transited the Strait of Hormuz on Friday aboard an American warship, a sign of their unified approach to keep the crucial waterway open after Iran seized two oil tankers. – Associated Press

Iran said on Sunday it is capable of ensuring the safety of the vital Gulf waters in cooperation with neighboring countries, following maritime tensions with the United States. – Agence France-Presse

Iran on Sunday summoned Switzerland’s ambassador over a tweet calling for a stop to executions linked to protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, Tehran’s Foreign Ministry said. – Agence France-Presse

Iran on Saturday executed a man convicted of leading a human trafficking and prostitution ring, a day after hanging three men linked to protests triggered by Mahsa Amini’s death, the judiciary said. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian media suggested over the weekend that the country continues to make progress on a locally-made passenger plane. The article at Iran’s Tasnim suggested the plane is undergoing eight stages of testing. It was not entirely clear when the 72-seat plane would actually be ready. – Jerusalem Post

Iranian pro-regime media reported on Saturday that the country wants to send elements of its navy to Antarctica in the “near future.” – Jerusalem Post

Indonesia is expected to sign a trade agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran as soon as next week, according to a statement released by the Indonesian Trade Ministry. – Jerusalem Post

An Iranian military commander on Friday threatened the US over the killing of Iran’s top general over three years ago, vowing to drive American forces out of the Middle East. – Times of Israel

Farhad Rezaei writes: The Islamic Republic’s strategic reliance on these proxy militias makes it practically impossible for the regime to end its sponsorship of these groups. Beyond this, the Islamic Republic, under the leadership of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains committed to its revolutionary principles. […]The Islamic Republic can only cease support for these proxies by making the shift from being a revolutionary cause to a normal state. Such a shift would require sustained pressure from the United States and its allies. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

The nine-month battle for the small Ukrainian city of Bakhmut effectively came to an end on Sunday, as Russian forces finally captured the last significant Ukrainian strongholds on its western edge. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian forces have lost effective control of the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukraine’s top commander in the region said, as Moscow declared its first significant conquest since last summer after months of relentless fighting that has cost thousands of lives and obliterated the city. – Wall Street Journal

Standing near the spot where the first atomic bomb was detonated in war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia must abandon “nuclear blackmail of the world.” – Wall Street Journal

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog is pushing for a last-minute agreement to secure Ukraine’s huge atomic power plant in Zaporizhzhia ahead of a counteroffensive that could see Kyiv’s forces drive directly through the potentially hazardous facility. – Washington Post

After months of U.S. insistence that Ukraine did not need F-16s to fight its war with Russia, Washington finally relented to pressure, agreeing not to stop allied nations from sending Kyiv the advanced Western fighter jets it has long desired. – Washington Post

Russia has expanded its list of sanctioned Americans in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the latest curbs imposed by the United States. But what is particularly striking is how much President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is adopting perceived enemies of former President Donald J. Trump as his own. – New York Times

The transfer of F-16 jets to Ukraine would raise the question of NATO’s role in the conflict, a senior Russian diplomat said on Monday, while accusing the U.S. of subordinating the Group of Seven to its policy of inflicting “strategic defeat” on Russia. – Reuters

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will visit Beijing next week for talks, China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday, marking the latest exchange in a relationship in which Russia is becoming increasingly reliant on China for economic and diplomatic support. – Associated Press

Russia on Sunday announced indictments in absentia for a judge and prosecutor of the International Criminal Court who issued a war crimes warrant for President Vladimir Putin. – Associated Press

Russia’s first commercial flight in four years landed in Georgia, prompting a protest in Tbilisi by several hundred opponents who voiced concern the resumption could harm efforts to join the European Union and NATO. – Bloomberg

Georgia’s President Salome Zourabichvili said she will not use the services of the privately owned Georgian Airways following the carrier’s decision to resume commercial flights to Russia. – Bloomberg

Paul Whelan, the former United States Marine who Russia has held on espionage charges, conducted a rare phone interview to promote his case and urge officials to secure his release. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Which brings us back to the fighter jets. U.S. officials say it’ll take “months” to train pilots, and we’ll never know what the war might look like today if Mr. Biden had offered such powerful assets a year ago. But the President can still decide to help the Ukrainians mount the best possible offensive: Train the pilots fast, cut red tape in transferring jets, and help Kyiv push the Russians back to Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Bernard-Henri Lévy writes: Ukraine can and should inherit the rights of a fallen Russia. Remove the Russian Federation from its seat as a permanent member and transfer it to Ukraine. Memory permits it, morality wishes it, and an open debate among united and sovereign nations could decide it. – Wall Street Journal

David French writes: Perhaps the best short argument in support of the Biden administration’s decision was summed up by the former Ukrainian defense minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk. He told me to “ask a NATO general how to win this war without aviation.” Providing Ukraine with advanced fighters not only makes its task easier; it’s a sign the Biden administration is ready to turn the page from helping Ukraine simply avoid defeat. Now we are starting to help Ukraine achieve victory — and maintain the peace we pray is soon to come. – New York Times

James Stavridis writes: Certainly, there are challenges: quickly training pilots to get them comfortable in their new rides; integrating the jets seamlessly into existing air and ground operations to avoid striking fellow Ukrainians; and having a plan to operate them in the dangerous surface-to-air environment over Ukraine created by Russian S-400 missiles based across the border in Belarus and Russia itself. But the benefits will be significant: demoralizing Russian forces and providing long-term security for Ukraine. This is a smart decision by the West and will provide much-needed air support to Ukrainian forces while taking options off the table for Russia. – Bloomberg

Andreas Kluth writes: The story Zelenskiy and Ukrainians are telling is of that healthy and positive kind. It is defiant in the face of an enemy and uplifting in that it prophesies ultimate victory. But Zelenskiy goes beyond the mere negation of Putinism. In his story, the Ukrainian nation must use victory to clean up corruption at home, to rebuild, to become the open society at the heart of Europe that it aspires to be — and in that sense, a Shining City on a Hill. Amen to that. And Slava Ukraini. – Bloomberg

Jakub Grygiel writes: States pursue military operations not only for battlefield objectives but for long-term political purposes. This creates paradoxes. In some cases, fighting a defensive war with limited chances of success is a reasonable gamble in order to have a better seat at the post-war table. The immediate, and tragic, military loss of a valiant nation allows for the seeds of a future political resurgence and independence. In other cases, it is farsighted to eschew a target, even if militarily inviting and politically desired, to set up a more stable situation in the future. Ukraine would do well therefore to avoid an operational target such as Crimea, that, even if militarily achievable, may undermine its long-term security. Keep Crimea as a reserve target for now. – The Hill


An Israeli minister officially tasked with fighting antisemitism defended Twitter CEO Elon Musk, saying that Israel did not view the tech mogul’s recent comparison of Jewish financier George Soros to a comic book supervillain as antisemitic. – Washington Post

The United States and the United Nations condemned on Friday anti-Arab slogans chanted during an annual march in Jerusalem’s Old City that drew tens of thousands of Israeli nationalists a day earlier. – Reuters

Three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli army raid in a West Bank refugee camp early on Monday, Palestinian health officials said, while the Biden administration sharply condemned Israel’s latest act of settlement expansion. – Associated Press

Thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday against contentious plans by their hard-line government to overhaul the judiciary, as the protest campaign showed no signs of abating nearly five months on. – Associated Press

A far-right Israeli Cabinet minister visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site on Sunday, declaring that “we are in charge,” while the Israeli Cabinet held a rare meeting in Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate its control of the area. – Associated Press

Iraq’s national fencing team withdrew from the World Fencing Championship in Istanbul after being pitted against the Israeli national team, Iraq’s national Iraqi News Agency reported on Friday. – Jerusalem Post

The chief of the military’s Central Command has signed off on an order allowing Israelis to enter an area in the northern West Bank where the illegal outpost of Homesh was established, paving the way for a formal settlement to be built there. – Times of Israel

In a first, the Portuguese parliament on Friday passed a resolution in support of Israel, in a gesture for the Jewish state’s 75th anniversary. – Times of Israel

Editorial: They don’t seem to see the contradiction between arguing that Israel’s capital cannot be Jerusalem until there is a final settlement with the Palestinians and treating the city as though it already contains the Palestinian capital. Somehow, in their thinking, Israel doesn’t currently deserve any part of the city. Our friends around the world should come to terms with reality. No country has the right to tell another where its capital is. Israel’s capital is not Tel Aviv. It is and has always been Jerusalem, and we have the literal receipts to prove it. All embassies should be in Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

Alan M. Dershowitz writes: Some right-wing anti-Semites have focused on Mr. Soros in promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about “the Jews” controlling the world. Critics of Mr. Soros should join supporters in condemning such misuse of his Jewish heritage. But this misuse shouldn’t deter legitimate criticism of the malign influence Mr. Soros has on the world—irrespective of his being Jewish. – Wall Street Journal

Dominic Green writes: The White House wants to revive the Israeli-Arab diplomacy that it has attacked for three years. It has openly reviled the crown prince and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and now it expects them to bail it out in time for the 2024 elections. The Democrats’ folly has raised the price the United States will pay to underwrite Saudi-Israeli normalization but reduced its value. A peace treaty will not restore American authority over the Middle East. It will smooth the region’s transition into a Chinese-run order. – Washington Examiner

Dore Gold writes: Current conditions have made these territorial considerations even more compelling, given that Iran is seeking to spread its power beyond Iraq to Israel’s eastern boundaries with Syria and Jordan. They will undoubtedly govern how Israel sees the question of its future borders. – Jerusalem Post

Gila Gamliel writes: Now it is our turn to repay the favor by exploring ways to fight together against the modern tyranny of the ayatollah regime, freeing the Iranian people from its scourge and paving a better future for them, us, and all the other people in our region who are oppressed and molested by them and their proxies. This is the commitment we make as we begin to renew ties between the Iranian and Israeli peoples. – Jerusalem Post


The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah put on a show of force Sunday, extending a rare media invitation to one of its training sites in southern Lebanon, where its forces staged a simulated military exercise. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The very fact that they used gunmen on motorcycles shows how unserious this drill was. No military today uses gunmen on motorcycles to achieve military goals or success. Hezbollah is a terrorist army, backed by Iran, but it has no real use for men with guns on motorcycles, except to harass civilians. For instance, Hezbollah waylaid UN vehicles and murdered a member of the UN in December. Its motorcycles serve no purpose in a conflict against actual militaries. Overall, the show that Hezbollah put on was designed primarily as propaganda, but it also showcases how openly the group operates today. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: Hamas, with all its bluster, knew that if it were to fire rockets at Jerusalem because of the flag march, Israel would hit back hard. So Israel went ahead with the flag march, and Hamas held its fire. Hezbollah knows the same. Their threats and displays of force need to be taken in stride. Israel is not helpless in the face of their threats and, therefore, need not allow their threats to lead to weak knees or dictate Israel’s policies – especially regarding what is and what is not permissible in the country’s capital. – Jerusalem Post


The death threats came as the Americans withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban marched across her country, she said. In the chaos, cell doors were flung open, freeing the rapists and abusers she had helped send to prison. – New York Times

An Afghan military helicopter crashed in the country’s north Sunday after hitting a power line base, killing at least two crewmembers, the Defense Ministry said. – Associated Press

House Republicans pushed their probe of the nation’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan to the brink this week, threatening to hold the secretary of state in contempt of Congress. – Politico

Giving birth is a life or death struggle for women in Afghanistan, where roughly one mother is believed to die every two hours from preventable pregnancy and childbirth complications. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Afghan-American journalist Ali Latifi said on May 19 that he has been released from detention one day after being held in Kabul, calling it a “misunderstanding.” The freelance journalist said he was “treated fine.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


Syria’s reintegration into the Arab world shows how authoritarian rule has returned to the Middle East more than a decade after the Arab Spring uprisings swept across the region. – Wall Street Journal

“The international community has failed us completely.” That was the assessment of Razan Saffour, 30, a British Syrian human rights activist who was among the many watching in disbelief and anger Friday as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was welcomed on an international stage — returning to the Arab League after an 11-year suspension. – Washington Post

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan was pressed in an interview Sunday over an alleged civilian casualty – a father of 10 who was tending sheep – by U.S. forces in Syria. – Fox News

Benny Avni writes: Japan and Riyadh are stops on a diplomatic spring offensive, which must lead to a long-expected military counterattack on the Russian forces. The Arab League is a good example of the perils of battlefield failure. In 2014, after Mr. Putin invaded Crimea, Russia was expelled from the G-7. Mr. Assad shows that unless a leader is militarily quashed, such isolation may well be temporary. – New York Sun


Turkish citizens based abroad began voting on Saturday in Turkey’s presidential runoff election between the incumbent Tayyip Erdogan and his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who aims to bring an end to the president’s two-decade rule. – Reuters

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a presidential hopeful challenging Turkey’s incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pledged to expel refugees as he seeks the support of an anti-immigration party that could play a vital role in a runoff vote. – Bloomberg

Lazar Berman writes: Though Erdogan is no great friend of Israel, and has been one of the Jewish state’s most vocal critics, there is one big reason why Jerusalem may be quietly breathing a sigh of relief at the Islamist’s survival. […]Should Erdogan indeed hang on to power, Israel will no longer have to worry about the rapprochement brewing between the erstwhile rivals possibly getting derailed by a transition of power. – Times of Israel

Michael Rubin writes: Erdogan may be set for a second term, but make no mistake: He is now Turkey’s Ahmadinejad. He is an illegitimate leader and should be treated as such for as long as he remains in power. As for American scholars and analysts, it is long past time both to cease mirror imaging and to stop becoming excited by the nuances of various Turkish trees that they become blinded not only to the forest, but also to the massive fire burning at its center. – American Enterprise Institute


Abu Hussein’s stomach churned with worry when the Lebanese army knocked on his door at 5 a.m. last month. He chose to believe the soldiers when they said they were picking him up to fix his paperwork. He chose to believe them when they said they were there on behalf of the United Nations. But when he saw the familiar road to Syria, his country of origin, he felt the fear in his stomach rise to the back of his throat. – Washington Post

Lebanon on Friday received an Interpol notice for the country’s embattled central bank governor who failed to show up in Paris earlier in the week for questioning in a key corruption case, officials said. – Associated Press

Lebanese activists protested Sunday at a beach in the coastal city of Sidon, after a woman said she was harassed there over her allegedly indecent bathing suit, an AFP correspondent said. – Agence France-Presse

Bahrain will resume diplomatic relations with Lebanon several years after a crisis between Lebanon and several Gulf states led to a break in ties in 2021. – Jerusalem Post


A series of media articles from Israel’s largest Muslim nation neighbor Egypt provide a window into anti-Israel sentiments within the Arab country, as well as to scarce objections to Egypt’s Journalist Syndicate voting unanimously to extend its ban on normalization with the Jewish state. – Jerusalem Post

In a complex operation that took several months to organize, two ancient Egyptian coffin lids from the Israel Museum’s collection were scanned with a highly sensitive computerized tomography machine (CT) at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center (SZMC) on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Riley Moeder writes: As the conflict continues, it is imperative that the West take action. Egypt’s economy continues to deteriorate, and external stressors—including and especially the conflict in Sudan—could have monumental destabilizing impacts on the rest of the region, with consequences that could eventually affect both the United States and Europe directly. – The National Interest

Arabian Peninsula

Abu Dhabi organisations have identified about $2 billion of investment opportunities in South Korea after the two sides agreed to expand business ties in January, a joint statement said on Monday. – Reuters

Britain’s business and trade minister Kemi Badenoch will visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week as part of her efforts to reach a trade deal with the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). – Reuters

The issue of Yemen constituted a key litmus test in the recently concluded rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Since the launch of the Houthis’ bid for power in 2014 and the Saudi intervention to prevent the strategic disaster of a pro-Iran force reaching the choke point of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, Yemen has formed the main battlefront between Riyadh and Tehran.  – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

In a surprise appearance at an Arab League meeting in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday delivered an emotional appeal for support from leaders who have voiced only muted criticism of Russia’s invasion and from some, like Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who have maintained strong ties to Moscow despite the war. – Washington Post

Israel and Saudi Arabia are engaged in “advanced” US-brokered negotiations to enable direct flights to Jeddah, near Mecca, to help Israeli Muslims perform the Hajj pilgrimage as soon as next month, several Hebrew news outlets reported Sunday. – Times of Israel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stressed his commitment to Palestinian statehood at the Arab League summit on Friday, amid intensified US efforts to broker a normalization deal between the Gulf kingdom and Israel. – Times of Israel

Ziv Bar’el writes: For this to happen, Ankara will have to renew ties with Assad, who will demand generous aid to help absorb returning refugees. But Turkey doesn’t have the kind of money Assad needs, and as Iranian lawmakers demand their government recover the $20 billion Syria owes it – who will write Assad the checks? Western countries are in no hurry to do such a thing, leaving only Gulf nations – primarily Saudi Arabia and the UAE – to sweep in, front the bill and close yet another rift in the region. – Haaretz

Middle East & North Africa

Smiles, a handshake and what Tunisian President Kais Saied called a “historic meeting” with the long-ostracized Syrian leader Bashar Assad. – Associated Press

In a field close to the Gaza Strip’s restive frontier, apiarist Miassar Khoudair checks that her queen bee has survived five days of deadly cross-border fire between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli army. – Agence France-Presse

Palestinian Authority security forces have resumed their crackdown on university students suspected of affiliation with Hamas, Palestinians said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

A dispute has erupted between the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction and Hamas over elections for a new board of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS). – Jerusalem Post

A Tunisian court recently sentenced opposition politician Rached Ghannouchi to one year in prison. He was detained last month, having been accused of various plots. – Jerusalem Post

Nave Drome writes: In his twisted logic, Abbas thinks Israel’s only remaining connection to sympathy is the Holocaust, so the more he can deconstruct it, the more he breaks down Israel’s remaining armor and international protection. It is gruesome, but Abbas has never received sufficient pushback to prevent him from beating this particular drum of war. Israel should fight back in this war of disinformation, but more than that, it needs to prepare for the war of instruction Abbas once again laid out to his followers, this time from the United Nations podium. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

When Shin Song-hyuk was 3 years old, he was sent from South Korea to adoptive parents in the United States, where he would ultimately become Adam Crapser. – Washington Post

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday and agreed to enhance cooperation on defence and bio-health sectors, Yoon’s office said. – Reuters

South Korea’s finance minister on Friday met the Chinese ambassador and discussed economic cooperation, as diplomatic tensions with Beijing put an additional dent on the already sluggish economy. – Reuters

Defectors who fled North Korea early this month decided to do so because of the country’s strict COVID-19 controls, South Korea’s spy agency said on Friday. – Reuters

Leaders of the world’s most powerful democracies warned China and North Korea against building up their nuclear arsenals, pivoting to major northeast Asian crises ahead of the arrival later Saturday of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. – Associated Press

The leaders of South Korea and Germany on Sunday pledged more cooperation in building stable industrial supply chains and addressing the challenges posed by nuclear-armed North Korea as they met in Seoul after flying in from the Group of Seven meetings in Japan. – Associated Press

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida together laid flowers at a memorial for Korean atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima, in a display of the warming ties that have helped cooperation with their mutual US ally. – Bloomberg


One of China’s poorest provinces is testing Beijing’s mettle with a mountain of debt that local borrowers are struggling to repay. Investors worry it is a harbinger of another major debt crisis in the country, and believe the central government will have no choice but to defuse it. – Wall Street Journal

The furious reaction in China to a comedian’s riff on a military slogan is raising fears around speech to new levels in the heavily censored country, threatening a broader chill on Chinese arts and culture. – Wall Street Journal

China is ramping up efforts to develop a satellite-powered internet network that can compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink, which has quickly expanded around the world and whose military applications have been on display in Ukraine’s defense against Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Xi Jinping used a summit with the heads of five Central Asian nations to show off China’s growing stature in a region where Russia has long held sway, calling for deeper economic ties and warning against interference from outsiders, in an apparent warning to Washington. – Wall Street Journal

To counter Beijing, one of Washington’s most vocal China hawks is taking aim at American business, looking to halt the investment and trade he says is enabling Beijing’s superpower ambitions. – Wall Street Journal

Midway through his face-to-face meeting with President Biden in Indonesia last fall, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, offered an unsolicited warning. – New York Times

A Hong Kong court rejected an activist publisher’s latest effort Friday to use a British lawyer to defend him against national security charges as Beijing tries to crush a pro-democracy movement. – Associated Press

US President Joe Biden said he expected ties with China to improve “very shortly” after a spat over an alleged spy balloon earlier this year derailed relations. – Bloomberg

The US is hitting a roadblock of its own making as it seeks to revive ties with China’s military: sanctions it imposed on the current defense minister back in 2018. – Bloomberg

Editorial: This is more erosion in the rule of law since any national-security charge must already be heard by special judges. And it’s more evidence that the rights that investors once took for granted are no longer protected by Hong Kong law. By awarding Mr. Lai its Milton Friedman Prize, the Cato Institute reminds us that, if a prominent man like Jimmy Lai can have his business shut down and be imprisoned, no one is safe in Hong Kong – Wall Street Journal

Michael Rubin writes: Xi shares with Putin a hostility to the rules-based liberal order. The two are as crucial to each other as Imperial Japan was to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Just as leaving one theater to concentrate solely on the other was nonsensical to the Greatest Generation, so too should abandoning Ukraine to counter a poor China-Taiwan assessment be a nonstarter today. Standing up to dictators, including those acting in concert, is important. Prematurely ceding freedom to one plays into the autocracy sought by both. – Washington Examiner

Jeremy Hurewitz writes: Throughout these seismic changes, the Mandela of China languishes in jail and the world is not paying enough attention. An individual of moral authority like Jimmy Lai can light a thousand torches in the darkness of dictatorship and the free world (especially the United Kingdom, where Lai holds citizenship) should be doing more to lift him up and demand his release. – The Hill

South Asia

India will host the United States, Australia and Japan next year for a summit of the group of regional powers known as the Quad, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday. – Reuters

China said on Friday that it is opposed to a G20 tourism meeting next week in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir in India and will not attend. – Reuters

Peace on India’s border with China is essential for normal relations, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in comments published on Friday that mark a rare articulation of New Delhi’s position since ties with Beijing deteriorated in 2020. – Reuters

As India prepares to host a meeting of tourism officials from the Group of 20 in the disputed region of Kashmir, authorities have deployed elite commandos and stepped up security in the region’s largest city. – Associated Press

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan dialed down his campaign of defiance on Friday, saying he would allow a police search of his home over allegations that he was harboring suspects wanted in recent violence during anti-government protests by his supporters. – Associated Press

Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit, as the Ukrainian president uses his visit to Japan to speak with leaders of countries who have taken a more neutral stance over Russia’s invasion. – Bloomberg

David Fickling writes: The uncertainty about the direction New Delhi is taking just emphasizes how the center of gravity is shifting. India’s emissions likely overtook those of the European Union last year to be the largest in the world after China and the US. Within five years, it should have the third-largest national economy, too. With the world’s fate increasingly in its hands, India can no longer afford to stand aloof from climate debates. Instead, it’s working out how to shape them to its own ends. – Bloomberg


President Biden initially planned a wide-ranging three-country trip through the Indo-Pacific this week, intending to rally allies against China’s growing economic and political influence in the region and throughout the world. But as the president headed back to Washington on Sunday, four days earlier than planned, it was clear that objective had been overshadowed. – Washington Post

Since taking up his post as U.S. ambassador to Japan last year, Rahm Emanuel has lavished his host country with enthusiastic tweets about riding the world-class bullet trains and subways, hiking Mount Fuji or sampling local delicacies and festivals. – New York Times

On a controversial trip to Taiwan, Liz Truss, Britain’s prime minister for 44 tempestuous days, met President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday and called for an “economic NATO” to counter Chinese coercion. – New York Times

When Pita Limjaroenrat was a student at Harvard in 2008, he shadowed his American classmates who were campaigning at the time for former President Barack Obama. The experience gave him a window into electoral politics, from phone banks and polling data to knocking on doors and putting campaign flags on front lawns. – New York Times

President Biden was 2 years old when the nuclear era opened with a blast of devastation unlike any the world had ever seen. Seventy-eight years later, he came on Friday to ground zero of the first atomic bomb used in warfare to pay tribute to the dead. – New York Times

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Saturday to maintain the status quo of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait amid high tensions with China, which has stepped up military pressure on the democratically governed island. – Reuters

The United States is scheduled to sign a new security pact with Papua New Guinea on Monday as it competes with China for influence in the Pacific. – Associated Press

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins isn’t concerned that a renewed partnership agreement between the US and Papua New Guinea represents militarization of the Indo-Pacific region. – Bloomberg

China said it will reopen its doors to visits from Taiwan tour groups, a mostly symbolic move as Beijing aims to increase exchanges with the island ahead of a key election next year. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Mr. Biden, like his predecessors, is finding himself hostage to events and conflicts elsewhere — not only abroad but also, sadly, at home in the form of manufactured crises such as the debt ceiling impasse. As long as partisan extremism, rather than reason, drives Washington decision-making, he and every other president might struggle to give the Asia-Pacific region the attention it requires. – Washington Post

John Lee writes: The leader of the world’s most powerful nation skipping a commitment to attend to chaotic matters at home is never a good look. But let’s not overreact. American leadership and power do not hinge on the cancellation of a trip to Australia. – The Hill


Greece’s governing center-right resoundingly beat its left-leaning opponents in national elections Sunday, as voters rewarded Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for a robust recent economic performance. – Wall Street Journal

Mongolia will supply critical metals to France needed for its energy transition, President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday during the first ever visit to Ulaanbaatar by a serving French president. – Reuters

Estonia and Latvia plan jointly to acquire German air defense systems for the protection of the two NATO nations’ airspace in what would be the biggest defense cooperation deal between the Baltic neighbors that border Russia, the Estonian and Latvian defense ministries said Sunday. – Associated Press


Nigerian police officials said two U.S. Embassy staffers who were missing following an attack earlier this week on an American convoy that killed seven people were rescued unhurt early Friday. – Wall Street Journal

Nothing illustrates the violence and intrigue that has engulfed southern Ethiopia like the life of Fekade Abdisa. A rebel and former prisoner, Fekade has also been called a bandit chief and double agent. Residents say that bloodshed follows in his wake and that his fighters have frequently killed civilians belonging to the Amhara ethnic group, triggering reprisal attacks. – Washington Post

Sudan’s warring parties have agreed to a seven-day cease-fire beginning on Monday, Saudi Arabia and the United States announced late Saturday, the first truce to be signed by both parties in a conflict that has raged for over a month, leaving millions of people across the northeast African nation in a dire humanitarian crisis. – New York Times

In the frantic days before American diplomats evacuated their Khartoum embassy under darkness by helicopter last month, one crucial task remained. – New York Times

Democratic Republic of Congo security forces fired tear gas and fought running battles in the streets of the capital Kinshasa with anti-government protesters demonstrating on Saturday over alleged irregularities in voter registration. – Reuters

A shipment of U.S. oil is headed to South Africa for the first time in two years and destined for a Glencore-owned refinery in Cape Town that has restarted operations after an explosion shuttered it in 2020, according to ship tracking data and a source. – Reuters

Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said on Friday that the first $600 million tranche of a $3 billion, three-year extended credit facility has been received. – Reuters

The World Bank has moved $150 million of the funds it has earmarked for Mozambique projects to help fund the southern African nation’s efforts to recover from the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy. – Reuters

The death toll from fighting between farmers and herders in Nigeria’s north-central state of Plateau has risen beyond 100, with locals searching in the bush for more bodies, residents and local authorities said on Friday. – Reuters

More than a million people have been displaced by fighting in Sudan so far, including a quarter of a million refugees, a U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson said on Friday. – Reuters

In a symbolic gesture, Sudan’s top army general on Friday fired a paramilitary leader — his former ally turned deadly rival — as the deputy of the country’s governing body, state media reported. – Associated Press

At least $396 million is urgently needed to prevent widespread hunger and malnutrition in northeastern Nigeria from turning into a “full-blown catastrophe,” the United Nations office in the West African nation said Thursday. – Associated Press

Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi will visit China next week as the two nations look to conclude the re-negotiation of a $6.2 billion mineral-for-infrastructure deal, people with direct knowledge of the trip said. – Bloomberg

Mutasim Ali and Yonah Diamond write: In addition, as is in the case of Ukraine, the sanctioned assets should be repurposed to reconstruct Sudan and compensate victims. The U.S. should end its policy of unconscionably deferring to the military factions to resolve the conflict and protect civilians, and instead prioritize saving lives and empowering pro-democracy groups. The U.S. should proactively make conflict more costly and hold the perpetrators accountable. Now is the time to act to prevent impending catastrophic loss of life. – The Hill

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Money is fungible, and the resources that America provides to South Africa in the form of economic assistance enable the government to shift funds to its military. For that reason, if for no other, Washington should make it clear that it will not tolerate the intimacy that characterizes Pretoria’s military relationship with Moscow. It probably should frown upon that relationship at all times, but it most certainly should do so now. The Kremlin’s ongoing brutal operation against the Ukrainian state and its people demands nothing less than a powerful American response to Pretoria’s manifestly irresponsible behavior. – The Hill

Latin America

A day after he dissolved the National Assembly, averting his looming impeachment but triggering new elections this year, Ecuadoran president Guillermo Lasso said he has no plans to run in them — and doesn’t care who replaces him. – Washington Post

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Monday a meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Japan fell through because Zelenskiy was late. – Reuters

Russian officials and business leaders have signed multiple deals with Cuban counterparts at a forum in Havana this week, agreeing to work together to boost sugar and rum output, assure wheat and crude oil supply to the communist-run island, and overhaul crumbling tourist facilities. – Reuters

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: There is no U.S.-Ecuador free-trade agreement, but the Lasso government has negotiated the opening of new markets in China for Ecuadoran exports and is close to a deal with South Korea. Mercantilism remains a dominant feature in Quito’s trade deals, but increasing international commerce and commitments to open domestic markets gradually are net benefits. […]The biggest test for Ecuador may not come down to who wins the next election but whether the nation’s institutions can withstand a power-hungry caudillo—in or out of the country. – Wall Street Journal

North America

Canada will support Ukraine for as long and as much as necessary in its conflict with Russia, including the training of Ukrainian soldiers and possibly pilots, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelenskiy said on Twitter on Sunday that he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima. – Reuters

Italy’s far-right Premier Giorgia Meloni on Sunday rejected criticism from her Canadian counterpart at the G7 Summit about her government’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights. – Associated Press

United States

The Federal Bureau of Investigation improperly searched a trove of intelligence gathered through a foreign spying law for information on people suspected of participating in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the George Floyd protests, a court opinion released Friday showed. – Wall Street Journal

A District of Columbia police lieutenant was indicted this week on charges he tipped off former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio about a pending arrest warrant related to the burning of a Black Lives Matter flag and later lied about his extensive contacts with the far-right group’s leader. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: This isn’t just smoke. It’s a raging fire. When so many federal agents say federal law enforcement and intelligence are politicized and abusive, with so many examples to back up their claims, it’s impossible to deny plausibly that a thoroughly corrupt federal culture is now in place. If an entire team long investigating the president’s son has suddenly, without explanation, been pulled off the case, the Justice Department and IRS owe the public a serious explanation. – Washington Examiner

Philip Bump writes: One of the tips that Lamond allegedly gave Tarrio revealed his thoughts on this point, too. Tarrio was apparently concerned that burning the BLM banner would result in hate-crime charges. Lamond told the Proud Boys leader that he had argued against that. […]Not to mention that a senior official would express sympathy with and approval for right-wing extremists who repeatedly engaged in political violence in the city he was sworn to protect. – Washington Post

Michael Barone writes: Why did the Russia collusion hoax enjoy such gleeful credulity from so many liberals? My theory is that many have resented what they consider attacks on their patriotism, dating back 70-some years to the McCarthy era or 20-some to the Iraq war, and they regarded attacking Mr. Trump as unpatriotic as an example of turnabout being fair play. It may not have crossed their minds that it could be unpatriotic to concoct and promote a fraud like the Russia collusion hoax. – New York Sun

Salem Alketbi writes: The truth of the matter is that the US standing in the global system will suffer greatly in the upcoming phase, regardless of whether Biden manages to secure a second presidential term or Trump returns to power. In either scenario, Washington will be unable to effectively tackle the mounting international strategic challenges. – Jerusalem Post

Eli Lake writes: All of this is a black eye for the FBI. The bureau is supposed to be above politics. Its leaders are supposed to show fidelity to the law and act without partisan favor. Comey, McCabe, and their deputies were guilty of a confirmation bias so severe it led them to embrace partisan falsehoods to get their man, and the republic is still paying the price for their failures. To this day, millions of loyal MSNBC viewers and most Democrats in Congress still act like it’s 2017, and Donald Trump is a Kremlin agent. It was a hoax six years ago. It’s a farce today. – The Free Press


The leaders of the world’s largest economies on Saturday called for international standards for rapid advancements in artificial intelligence, making clear that the push was a priority but failing to come to any significant conclusions about how to handle the emerging technology. – Washington Post

Australia said on Monday the government will take further steps in response to the leak of government tax plans by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and that the matter could be referred to the Australian Federal Police. – Reuters

As the race to develop more powerful artificial intelligence services like ChatGPT accelerates, some regulators are relying on old laws to control a technology that could upend the way societies and businesses operate. – Reuters

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: And, no, warp drive may not be a deus ex machina. To argue that faster-than-light travel is feasible may be tantamount to arguing we’re already doomed because some advanced civilization already roaming the galaxy surely won’t welcome competition from us. My guess is that a universe that requires AI for interstellar colonization will be safer for us than a universe that enables lightspeed travel. – Wall Street Journal

Dave Lee writes: That’s a problem for the EU if it hopes its bold new law will actually protect internet users , and not just become another rubber-stamping exercise. In the quite obvious absence of any better ideas, the Oversight Board could play an important — and if done right, independent — role. – Bloomberg

Kinney Zalesne writes: AI carries the potential for both triumph and tragedy. As its impact on our lives continues to grow, we the people can best advance our shared values, including a commitment to innovation, if we’re there every day — attuned, alert and active — in the room where it happens. – Politico

Aram A. Gavoor writes: Congress can build on this moment of bipartisan AI policy, allowing innovation to flourish and America’s strategic advantage over global competitors to remain unhindered. If Congress chooses to continuously regulate AI through soft-touch and narrow legislation instead of passing an expansive statute and washing its hands of the details, we will all be better off for it. – The Hill


Each of these systems is getting real-world testing in the war in Ukraine, earning praise from top government officials there and validating investors who have been pouring money into the field. But they are facing a stiff challenge on another field of battle: the Pentagon’s slow-moving, risk-averse military procurement bureaucracy. – New York Times

Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) criticism this past week of efforts to rid America’s military of white nationalists has roiled the ongoing debate over how much the Pentagon should monitor racial attitudes within its ranks. – The Hill

Peter Coy writes: Georges Clemenceau, who was France’s prime minister toward the end of World War I, said that war is too important to be left to military men. He meant that civilian leaders should make the final decisions. But the arms race in artificial intelligence could one day bring us to the point where civilian leaders will see no choice but to cede the final decisions to computers. Then war will be considered too important to be left to human beings. – New York Times

Long War

The Lebanese army said on Saturday it had arrested a prominent Al Qaeda leader in Deir Ammar town, northeast of the city of Tripoli. – Reuters

France’s interior minister warned of a coming resurgence in terrorist threats in Europe during a visit to the US, saying he had asked Washington for stepped-up cooperation ahead of the Paris Olympics in 2024. – Agence France-Presse

Grisha Yakubovich writes: As counter-intuitive as it may seem, turning the Gaza Strip into a de facto independent Palestinian state is one of the most effective ways of neutralizing Hamas’s ability to wage war and terrorize Israel’s civilians. – Jerusalem Post