Fdd's overnight brief

May 26, 2021

In The News


Iran on Tuesday announced a list of mostly conservative or hard-line candidates for next month’s presidential election, after several moderate politicians were barred from running. – Washington Post

A large fire was reported at the Kangan Petro Refining Co. (KPRC) in southern Iran along the coast of the Persian Gulf on Monday, just a day after an explosion reportedly impacted a drone factory in the center of the country. – Jerusalem Post 

World powers started their fifth round of negotiations to revive a landmark agreement that will reinstate caps on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the country’s return to oil markets and the global economy. – Bloomberg 

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday he was optimistic over Tehran reaching an agreement soon at talks with world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, although Iran’s top negotiator cautioned that serious issues remained. – Reuters 

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran is enriching uranium at purity levels that “only countries making bombs are reaching”. – Financial Times

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the United States should avoid rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, one of President Biden’s campaign promises. – Fox News

Omer Carmi writes: At the moment, however, the regime seems willing to alienate some of its core supporters just to make sure that Raisi wins at all costs. One potential explanation for this risky approach lies in the numerous signs that Raisi is gradually being groomed to succeed Khamenei as Supreme Leader. Winning next month’s vote could boost his executive pedigree for that position, while losing a second presidential race in a row could end that possibility altogether. Either way, the regime may wind up further undermining its domestic legitimacy. – Washington Institute 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Apparently, Khamenei did not want to take any chances this time, ensuring his hand-picked candidate, Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi, would win, after he lost in 2017 with around 40% of the vote. It is also possible that Khamenei wants no deal at all or that with Raisi’s victory all but assured, he will not bless a nuclear deal even before election day. – Jerusalem Post


Nearly a dozen buses carrying 100 Iraqi families who lived in a sprawling Syrian camp for supporters and families of Islamic State militants returned to Iraq on Tuesday, where public opinion is divided about their return. – Associated Press

The Russian military said Tuesday it has deployed three nuclear-capable long-range bombers to its base in Syria, a move that could strengthen Moscow’s military foothold in the Mediterranean. – Associated Press

Polling stations opened on Wednesday across Syria in a presidential election that is set to usher Bashar al-Assad into a fourth term in office. – Reuters 

Her despair at returning is echoed by others in Middle East states which host 5.6 million U.N.-registered Syrian refugees. Fear of retribution as long as Assad stays in power, as well as the dire economic conditions inside Syria, mean there is little prospect of seeing their country soon. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department has denounced Syria’s presidential election on Tuesday as neither “free nor fair” one day before voters are set to head to the polls across the beleaguered nation. – The Hill

There are signs that China may be moving to take advantage of the US withdrawal from Syria as part of a larger effort to expand its footprint in the Gulf and Middle East, Israeli sources fret. – Breaking Defense 


The Philippines announced Tuesday that it will receive two of six T129 Atak helicopters on order from Turkish Aerospace Industries in September. – Defense News 

Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir writes: As the Biden administration is getting ready for a bumpy ride with Ankara on a long list of foreign and security policy issues, cultural diplomacy focused on heritage of at-risk communities and carried out in collaboration with local stakeholders has the potential engage a wider segment of Turkey’s citizenry, including municipal governments, civil society organizations, and vulnerable groups and individuals. Such an engagement can accrue dividends not only for U.S. public diplomacy, but also for diversity and pluralism in Turkey. – Middle East Institute 

Henry J. Barkey writes: Still, Washington can fashion an arrangement, just as it did with the Cypriot S-300 missiles, that will give it some indirect control and access. It can also make sure that the system never leaves Qatari soil and, to the extent such a deal brings about an improvement in Turkish-American relations, the S-400 system could be transformed into a headache for Tehran. […]This proposal may be too fanciful or possibly even unrealistic. Nonetheless, it is put forward here as an example of unconventional thinking needed to solve an impossible crisis plaguing the Turkish-American alliance. – The National Interest 


Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel and the West Bank on Tuesday, announcing new U.S. aid and plans for closer ties with Palestinians while airing some disagreements between the Biden administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Wall Street Journal 

President Joe Biden is expected to name former senior State Department official Tom Nides to serve as ambassador to Israel, according to a person familiar with the matter. – Associated Press

Secretary of State Antony Blinken heads to Egypt and Jordan on Wednesday as he presses ahead with a diplomatic mission aimed at shoring up a cease-fire that ends an 11-day war between Israel and the Hamas militant group. – Associated Press

Indiana’s governor is traveling to Israel in the wake of the cease-fire to the 11-day war between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers. – Associated Press

Despite the fiery anti-Israel rage in European capitals and elsewhere, Jerusalem insists that the international reaction to Operation Guardian of the Walls in the places that matter shows the effectiveness of its diplomatic efforts. – Times of Israel

Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders on a one-day visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday, as a ceasefire holds following the worst outbreak of fighting in years. – Reuters 

Israel’s concern over the spike in antisemitism around the globe and the US in particular that was sparked by the recent fighting between Gaza and Israel was one of the key topics of conversation in the working meeting on Wednesday between President Reuven Rivlin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who happens to be Jewish. – Jerusalem Post

In recent discussions taking place among IDF senior commanders, it was agreed to suggest a harsh response for every single rocket launched from Gaza – a dramatically different approach than that implemented in recent years. – Jerusalem Post

The United Nations Human Rights Council is expected to establish a commission of inquiry into Israeli actions against Palestinians doing the period leading up to and including the 11-day Gaza War that ended on May 21. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Benny Gantz designated two companies that help transfer tens of millions of dollars from Iran to Hamas as terrorist organizations. – Jerusalem Post

A study of the first two days of the recent clashes between Israel and Hamas showed that more than 70% of the casualties caused by Israeli airstrikes were militant operatives, and that 21% of the total deaths on those days were caused by errant Hamas rockets. – Algemeiner

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with prominent Palestinian rights activist Issa Amro during the U.S. delegation’s visit to Ramallah on Tuesday. – Haaretz

Editorial: Opponents of Israel believe the fundamental issue behind the fighting in Gaza is Western imperialism. They identify the Palestinians as the oppressed and Israel as the oppressor. Once this narrative locks in, the facts become secondary. Every step Israel takes to defend its citizens becomes cruel, evil, monstrous. […]The harsh reality is that Israel will never be safe, and Palestine will never be free, so long as Hamas controls Gaza. To believe otherwise is countered by a decade and a half of violence. – Wall Street Journal 

Charles Lane writes: Perhaps Israel did violate international law in some instances, along with the errors and misjudgments that always happen in battle. That should be investigated, just as Israel’s critics say. However, Israeli wrongdoing, if any, occurred in the context of a generally professional military operation that was carried out in response to Hamas’s rocket attacks. Hamas’s campaign against Israel and its civilian population, by contrast, consisted of nothing but war crimes, from beginning to end. – Washington Post

David Makovsky writes: Of course, there is an oceanic difference for the Biden administration to engage in crisis diplomacy, like it did in Gaza, versus conflict resolution, as it wants to turn its foreign policy sights elsewhere. However, the fact is that six Arab states have normalized ties with Israel. None cut ties over Gaza, since they see benefits for themselves and the region. Moreover, they see Hamas as destabilizing. This suggests that there could be a few moves to shrink the conflict, even if you don’t solve it right away. Biden’s quiet diplomacy suggests he may have the stuff to point the way, even if it is not possible to go all the way at this time. – Washington Institute 

Grant Rumley and Neri Zibler write: Now that a ceasefire has been reached, the international pressure for reconstruction will likely be immense. What is less certain, however, is whether Israel will acquiesce to loosening restrictions on materials entering Gaza as it did after the 2014 conflict. Hamas has visibly improved its military capabilities following every round of fighting, so Israel may no longer be willing to maintain its “quiet for quiet” policy in Gaza if doing so allows the group to once again build up its capabilities unchecked. As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu vowed, “What was in the past will no longer be in the future.” – Washington Institute 

Herb Keinon writes: But the airlift of high-level visitors has stopped – not because of a problem that countries around the world have with Israel or with visiting, but because it is difficult to deal with what seems like a government in perpetual transition. What the Blinken visit shows, however, is that certain matters can’t wait – not even a week –  even if it is not clear who will be making policy in Jerusalem in just over a month. – Jerusalem Post

David Harris writes: Ultimately, the impetus for real change will have to come from within Palestinian society. Gaza, located between Israel and Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea, has big potential for growth and development. New leadership in Gaza, with a vision of coexistence rather than confrontation, could one day make all the difference. Today, that possibility may seem utterly remote, but never say never. – Algemeiner

David Shalom writes: All retreats from territory by Israel have weakened the country and, in this case led to a massive military threat. There can be no sovereign entity except for Israel, between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea for there ever to be peace and this must be the guiding force for a better future. – Arutz Sheva

Uri Heitner writes: But the government must now convince its allies that the new Israeli policy in the south is a strong response to any act of aggression from Hamas in the future, be it setting fire to fields or firing rockets at Tel Aviv. Israel must protect its sovereignty at all costs and the Gaza factions must understand that the IDF will react with full force to any act of aggression committed against the cand [sic] its people. – Ynet


Young demonstrators held aloft the posters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday, illustrating both the enduring spark and diminished strength of Iraq’s anti-government protest movement. – New York Times

Munqith Dagher and Karl Kaltenthaler write: To arrest the momentum toward more anger among Shias, Kadhimi will have to complete significant reforms on three fronts: 1. Fighting corruption, and there is good evidence that he has already made significant progress on this front; 2. Improving the economy, and the recent jump in oil prices may help with this; 3. Most importantly, degrading the influence and the power of Shia militias. This last challenge could be the master key for all other reforms as it ensures the possibility of his government regaining control over the state. Regaining control over the state of Iraq will be the top challenge for Kadhimi during the coming few months. – Washington Institute 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Christian minorities find themselves divided into areas controlled by pro-Iranian groups in Nineveh plains, or under the Kurdish autonomous region. Many Christians fled ISIS to live in Ainkawa and other areas in the Kurdish region. Some ancient Christian villages have remained steadfast clinging to their identity and history, such as Al-Qosh between Dohuk and Mosul. However, Turkey’s bombardments have caused insecurity for many minorities in Iraq, Syria and the Middle East.  – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking will travel to Saudi Arabia and Oman on Tuesday for talks with senior government officials aimed at reaching a ceasefire in Yemen, the State Department said. – Reuters

Outgoing Mossad Director Yossi Cohen attempted to privately negotiate himself into a joint investment fund with Gulf states in recent weeks. – Jerusalem Post

Egypt’s president met Tuesday with Qatar’s chief diplomat amid improved relations since Egypt and three Gulf nations ended their dispute with the energy-rich country in January. – Associated Press

Yoel Guzansky and Gallia Lindenstrauss write: While all the actors have an interest in restraining Turkey’s assertive policy in the region, some, such as Cyprus and the UAE, have been more active than others. […]In addition, the strengthening of relations between Israel, its Hellenic partners, and the Gulf states is also dependent on the direction Israel’s relations with the Palestinians take. While these relationships can absorb temporary flare-ups, as also erupted in May 2021, if the violence is sustained, this might make it highly problematic for these actors to maintain their relations with Israel at the same level. – Middle East Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

Jordan’s foreign ministry on Tuesday announced it had summoned the Israeli ambassador in protest at Israel’s detention of two Jordanians arrested after allegedly crossing into the country with knives, AFP reported. – Arutz Sheva

US President Joe Biden spoke on Monday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi following the ceasefire in Gaza which was agreed upon last week. – Arutz Sheva

Protests over mass layoffs and Oman’s poor economy spread Tuesday to cities across the sultanate, underscoring the financial challenge ahead for this nation a decade on from its Arab Spring protests. – Associated Press

Morocco’s Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani sent a congratulatory letter to Hamas’ political bureau chief following the recent round of fighting in Gaza, i24NEWS reported Monday. – Arutz Sheva

The leader of Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah said Tuesday any violations of Jerusalem and the sites holy to Muslims and Christians would lead to a regional war. – Associated Press

A U.N. tribunal set up to prosecute those behind the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has run out of funding amid Lebanon’s economic and political crisis, threatening plans for future trials, people involved in the process said. – Reuters

Dr. Salem AlKetbi writes: Eradicating the bane of militias and organizations in the Middle East and restoring the power of the nation-state in many countries is a sine qua non for achieving security and stability. As long as rooting out militias and organizations is left off the priorities of the global collective, violence will rage on and chaos will reign over the region. – Arutz Sheva

Korean Peninsula

North Korea has few levers left to pull in pursuit of an economic revitalization without bargaining with the U.S. This is compelling Mr. Kim to give priority to domestic projects that display the regime’s self-image as being the greatest country on Earth. – Wall Street Journal 

Nuclear-armed North Korea is advancing on the front lines of cyberwarfare, analysts say, stealing billions of dollars and presenting a clearer and more present danger than its banned weapons programmes. – Agence France-Presse

South Korea can now develop ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets far beyond the Korean Peninsula, following the United States’ approval to lift a 42-year-old restriction on its ally’s missile development program. – Defense News 

Nicholas Eberstadt writes: Mr. Biden’s and Mr. Moon’s approach to the North Korean nuclear crisis is doomed to failure because it effectively places Mr. Kim in charge of nonproliferation negotiations. Thirty years of dealing with the Kim family should have taught us that Pyongyang uses talks only for diplomatic cover in its race to build an ever more powerful arsenal. To reduce the North Korean threat, we will need a program we can undertake on our own, with like-minded international friends, that does not depend on Mr. Kim. – New York Times


The U.S. and China staked out sharply opposing positions over how to trace the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, with Washington calling for a new round of studies to be conducted with independent, international experts. – Wall Street Journal

China’s escalating push to rein in cryptocurrency mining was triggered in part by concern that the practice has stoked a surge in illicit coal extraction, endangering lives and undermining Xi Jinping’s ambitious environmental goals. – Bloomberg 

After weeks of facing fierce attacks from Republicans, top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci now has a new critic: Chinese state media. – CNN

Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said on Tuesday that attempts by some in the EU to politicise trade issues are “not acceptable and will lead nowhere,” and that Beijing had been shocked when Brussels placed sanctions on Chinese officials. – Reuters 

U.S. efforts to address competition with China progressed on Tuesday when the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee introduced sweeping legislation to boost economic competitiveness and push Beijing on human rights. – Reuters 

A backlash against reports of forced labor and other abuses of the largely Muslim Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang is taking a toll on China’s cotton industry, but it’s unclear if the pressure will compel the government or companies to change their ways. – Associated Press

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday called on the United States to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics set to take place next February in Beijing. – Fox News

Editorial: Competition with China will define the coming decades, and Congress wants to get into the game. Alas it’s off to a bad start with the Senate’s nearly 1,500-page Innovation and Competition Act that won’t help innovation or competitiveness. […]The China challenge requires a better response than the U.S. has mustered to date. But the industrial policy of this bill will waste taxpayer money and divert private capital to less efficient purposes. America can’t out-compete China by imitating it.  – Wall Street Journal 


United States troops and their NATO allies intend to be out of Afghanistan by early to mid-July, well ahead of President Biden’s Sept. 11 withdrawal deadline, military officials said, in what has turned into an accelerated ending to America’s longest war. – New York Times

Australia on Tuesday abruptly announced it will shutter its embassy in Afghanistan this week, expressing fears over the “increasingly uncertain security environment” in Kabul as foreign troops withdraw. – Agence France-Presse

The US pullout from Afghanistan is at least 16 percent and as much as a quarter complete, the Pentagon’s Central Command said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse


Hong Kong’s opposition-free legislature is expected to approve sweeping changes to the city’s electoral system ordered by the Chinese leadership, dramatically curtailing the ability of dissenting voices to participate in government. – Bloomberg 

Myanmar’s Roman Catholic leader has called for attacks on places of worship to end after he said four people had died and more than eight were wounded when a group of mainly women and children sought refuge in a church during fighting this week. – Reuters 

Japan should play a bridging role to Myanmar’s junta rather than following the Western policy of regime change, said a senior official at the Japan-Myanmar Association, which has strong ties with Myanmar’s military. – Reuters 

WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit in Delhi against the Indian government seeking to block regulations coming into force on Wednesday that experts say would compel the California-based Facebook (FB.O) unit to break privacy protections, sources said. – Reuters 

The incident lasted just over a minute and was captured on a CCTV camera. It is part of a growing trove of photos and videos shared on social media that’s helping expose a brutal crackdown carried out by the junta since the military’s Feb. 1 takeover of the Southeast Asian nation. – Associated Press

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a discussion with The Nizami Ganjavi International Center on Thursday that his country has full access to sophisticated Israeli weaponry when commenting on the strong ties between Israel and Azerbaijan, as highlighted in a press release. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Leaders of the Group of Seven will soon gather for a summit, and Myanmar should be on the agenda. President Biden, who has made defense of democracy a top priority of his administration, should press his fellow leaders to impose the most effective punishment on the generals: cutting off their supplies of arms and dollars. – Washington Post

Arif Rafiq writes: China’s aid and investment in infrastructure in Pakistan’s border regions connecting to Afghanistan are at the moment minimal. […]A more prudent approach for Pakistan is to rebrand itself as an Asian gateway — with CPEC as a constituent element of Islamabad’s national transport and regional connectivity strategies. CPEC, in spite of its flaws, remains an important vehicle for improving Pakistan’s logistics infrastructure and attracting foreign direct investment, especially toward export-oriented special economic zones. – Middle East Institute 


French counterintelligence authorities are investigating whether the Russian government was behind an attempt to pay high-profile health and science bloggers to sow public doubts about the safety of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, a French security official said. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are planning to meet next month in Geneva, the first face-to-face discussion between the two adversaries and one that comes at a time of deteriorating relations between their nations. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin likely gave Belarus the green light to force a Ryanair flight to land in Minsk so that authorities could arrest a prominent dissident, top officials and experts say.  – Business Insider

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said he had been informed in prison about three new criminal investigations against him, according to a post on his Instagram account published on Tuesday. – Reuters 

An American detained in Russia has contracted the coronavirus after being denied a vaccine, his family said Tuesday. – The Hill 

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that bars members of groups designated as extremist from running for public office, a measure intended to prevent allies of opposition leader Alexei Navalny from seeking parliament seats. – Associated Press

Moscow’s decision this month to add VTimes, a corporate news and economics outlet, to its list of “foreign media agents” is the first time Russia has used the label’s draconian powers to target a media organisation focusing on business news, and written primarily for investors in the country’s $1.7tn economy. – Financial Times

Editorial: It’s impossible to know whether Messrs. Putin and Lukashenko were emboldened specifically by Mr. Biden’s recent lifting of sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. That easing came as Mr. Putin imprisoned his own vocal domestic opponent, Alexei Navalny. […]Americans are discovering how much an administration has to overlook for that strategy to work. It includes new threats from new sources against new targets, as hostile governments brazenly violate the rules of world order. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: Biden must right the ship. A good place to start would be to work with European allies to make clear to Putin that unless Mr. Protasevich is released immediately, Russian flights will also be refused access to Western airspace. If Putin wants to threaten our way of life, the West, in reciprocity, must threaten his interests as well. – Washington Examiner


Belarus on Tuesday confronted a return to international pariah status. Its skies were cleared of nearly all air traffic, its businesses braced for European Union sanctions, and pro- and anti-government residents readied to be more cut off from the West after their leaders forced an airliner to land to arrest an opposition journalist. – Washington Post

A video purporting to show dissident Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich confessing to organizing “mass riots” has met with skepticism from scholars, family members and human rights groups who say that there is little doubt that he was coerced. – Washington Post

For more than a generation, Belarusian authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko has looked to Moscow for money, political support and critical backing for whatever means were necessary to stay in power. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarus offers a reliable — if sometimes troublesome — partner in Europe as many other former Soviet republics have made political alliances with the West. – Washington Post

Prosecutors in Italy can try four Egyptian security agents on charges of kidnapping, torturing and murdering an Italian doctoral student whose brutalized body was found on the outskirts of Cairo in 2016, a judge in Rome ruled on Tuesday. – New York Times

Since his teenage years as a rebellious high school student in Belarus and continuing into his 20s while in exile abroad, Roman Protasevich faced so many threats from the country’s security apparatus — of violent beatings, jail, punishment against family members — that “we all sort of got used to them,” a fellow exiled dissident recalled. – New York Times

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he decided to waive sanctions against the company behind the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline because the project was nearly complete, and doing so could have harmed ties with Europe. – Reuters 

Belarusian airlines will not be allowed to enter British airspace unless they have specific authorisation, Britain said on Tuesday after a Ryanair plane was forced to land in Minsk in an incident denounced by Western countries as “state piracy”. – Reuters 

A framework to simplify and strengthen ties between Switzerland and European Union was close to collapsing on Wednesday as the Bern government met to consider whether to break off talks over ratification of a draft treaty struck in 2018. – Reuters 

Britain is disappointed that there was not more recognition from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on how the Northern Ireland protocol is affecting the British province, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

French President Emmanuel Macron would like to invite the Belarusian opposition to the Group of Seven summit due to be held next month in Cornwall, if host country Britain agrees, the French presidency said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

President Biden warned Tuesday that the U.S. could impose sanctions on Belarus after its brazen detention of an opposition journalist sparked international backlash. – The Hill 

Europe’s top human rights court ruled Tuesday that British mass surveillance and intelligence-gathering practices breached human rights laws, in a partial victory for civil rights groups that had challenged the practices exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. – Associated Press

David Ignatius writes: President Biden wants to contest the authoritarians without a new Cold War. […] Better to keep the focus for now on our adversaries, rather than picking a fight with Germany, a faithful ally. Here’s a suggestion for Biden when he meets Putin. Wear red and white socks, as a reminder of which side he’s on. – Washington Post

James McAuley writes: Lukashenko is waiting to see if he can get away with this. Judging from the recent Russian-backed assassinations in London and Salisbury and the Iranian-backed assassinations in the Netherlands, he may very well be able to. But if there are insufficient consequences — not just for the actors involved in this hijacking, but also for the regime that ordered it — Europe will not only be less safe. It will also be less European. – Washington Post

Brian Klaas writes: Even without this egregious state-sponsored hijacking, the people of Belarus deserve more of our support. […]What better way to respond to Lukashenko’s latest gambit than to finally show hard-hitting solidarity with the protesters who just want what we all take for granted: the right to have a voice in decisions that affect our lives. Lukashenko exposed how powerless the West has been in deterring dictators. To support democracy and strike a blow against authoritarianism, we need to finally take off the kid gloves and punch back hard. – Washington Post

Ben Hall writes: The promise of tougher EU sanctions still needs to be put into action and the process could easily become bogged down. The bloc needs to work out how to target officials, businesspeople, state entities and companies linked to the regime while minimising the impact on ordinary Belarusians. And the penalties have to be legally watertight. – Financial Times


The acting vice president of Mali, Col. Assimi Goïta, said he wrested power from the West African country’s interim president and prime minister Tuesday, carrying out the nation’s second coup d’etat in nine months. – Washington Post

Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers forcibly detained more than 500 young men and women from four camps for displaced people in the town of Shire in the northern region of Tigray on Monday night, three aid workers and a doctor told Reuters. – Reuters 

Ethiopia began the second phase of filling the reservoir behind its giant Grand Renaissance Dam in early May, a senior Sudanese official said on Tuesday, a process expected to accelerate in July and August after seasonal rains. – Reuters 

A timeline of key events in Mali that led to another power grab in the troubled West African nation. – Associated Press

Somalia’s foreign minister told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that an agreement has been reached between the federal government and regional states that will lead to long-delayed national elections. – Associated Press

Aubrey Hruby and Gyude Moore write: Africa is home to vibrant tech eco-systems, with seven hundred active tech hubs from Nairobi to Lagos to Kigali to Cape Town. African startups attracted over a billion dollars in 2020 in venture capital investment despite the coronavirus slowdowns. […]With strategic investments in digital infrastructure, the Biden administration has an opportunity to kickstart a historic partnership with Africa, using leadership on digital to “build back better” at home and across Africa.  – The National Interest

The Americas

Canada said Tuesday any new request to extradite Lebanese-Canadian academic Hassan Diab to France over a deadly bombing in Paris 40 years ago would be given due consideration. – Agence France-Presse

Cuba charged on Tuesday that the Biden administration has continued the policies of former U.S. President Donald Trump against Havana with a decision to maintain a Trump-era determination that it is not fully cooperating in the fight against terrorism. – Reuters 

Global charity Oxfam on Tuesday urged US President Joe Biden to work towards normalizing ties with Cuba and lift sanctions, as the communist nation battles its worst economic crisis in 30 years. – Agence France-Presse

United States

The Biden administration has moved forward with the sale of up to $735 million in precision-guided missiles to Israel despite attempts from progressive Democrats in Congress aimed at blocking the weapons deal. – Times of Israel 

A federal judge has ruled that a Georgia law requiring some people to sign an oath involving Israel is unconstitutional. – Associated Press

US Senate Republicans on Tuesday introduced a resolution condemning a rise in antisemitic violence amid the recent hostilities between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist groups. – i24News

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday directed the New York State Police to increase patrols at downstate synagogues, schools and other Jewish community facilities following a number of recent anti-Semitic attacks in New York and around the country. – Arutz Sheva

The Pentagon is looking at how counterterrorism capabilities honed over the past two decades fighting insurgents can contribute to future competition with Russia and China, a Pentagon official said Tuesday. – Defense One 

Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes write: A neutral approach to counterterrorism, one that confronts all threats in a way that is proportionate to the challenge they pose, constitutes the best way forward. That is not to say we should ignore the ideological component — to the contrary, understanding what motivates terrorists is a crucial component of any effort to tackle them. But we should not let the vagaries of our heated political discourse prevail over a fact-based threat assessment in shaping our domestic counter-terrorism posture.  – The Hill


Over the years, Moscow has faced numerous allegations of cyberattacks that resulted in multiple sanctions and the expulsion of its diplomats. The term “hacker” has almost become synonymous with Russia. – Agence France-Presse

The Biden administration is working with pipeline companies to strengthen protections against cyberattacks following the Colonial Pipeline hack, with announcements of actions planned in coming days, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Germany’s antitrust watchdog has launched a probe into whether Google Germany, Google Ireland and its parent company Alphabet (GOOGL.O) are exploiting their market dominance in the way they handle data, it said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Joe Devanny and Tim Stevens write: The new National Cyber Force has a role to play in all of that, but it is only one player in the United Kingdom’s wider cyber ecosystem. A sovereign offensive cyber capability is an integral part of a contemporary state’s national security apparatus, but the United Kingdom’s big new investment in it needs to be carefully managed and balanced against its other cyber priorities. […]As such, a better-informed public debate in the United Kingdom about the implications of offensive cyber is long overdue. – War on the Rocks 


The F-35 joint strike fighter loomed like a ghost over the May 25 confirmation hearing of President Joe Biden’s pick for Air Force secretary, who famously called the program a case of “acquisition malpractice.” – Defense News

Northrop Grumman is testing a portable expeditionary control station that could help sailors and Marines operate the Navy’s unmanned helicopter from both at sea and ashore. – USNI News 

A military mobility study due out in June will place a greater emphasis on smaller, lower-draft vessels that will ferry supplies, troops and vehicles inside a theater, U.S. Transportation Command’s top general said on Tuesday. – USNI News 

The Department of the Air Force has taken a big step toward enabling data sharing across the Air and Space Forces. Last week, the service completed four options, each with its own technical architecture, to be presented to the Air Force Department’s senior leadership for review. A decision is expected in June. – Breaking Defense 

For the past several years, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been developing super-agile networked versions of age-old warfighting concepts. Now the services will try them out in a globe-spanning wargame that will bring together live, virtual, and computer-generated units to test the concepts in major conflict. – Defense One 

The U.S. Army will soon make “information advantage” an official term of doctrine, elevating the idea and setting conditions for how the Army will fight to win in the information space. – C4ISRNET

U.S. Special Operations Command awarded CACI International Inc. a contract worth up to $373 million for geospatial intelligence expertise, the company announced Monday. – C4ISRNET 

President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Air Force told senators the best way to bring down the service’s skyrocketing bills to operate its aging fleet would be to buy more Lightning IIs — despite a myriad of unresolved flaws with the troubled fifth-generation jet. – Washington Examiner 

Tim Ball writes: Special Forces leadership has provided the resources, time, and funding to ensure language skills are sufficient for the majority of the mission sets facing today’s Green Berets. Given the current standards, every qualified Green Beret has the capability to engage with a partner force in their target language and build rapport. To expand this capability, Special Forces leadership should continue to seek out qualified native speakers from both within and outside the Army and aggressively recruit them for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course. – War on the Rocks