Fdd's overnight brief

May 26, 2023

In The News


France on Thursday accused Iran of violating a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal after it carried out a long-range ballistic missile test, which Paris said was worrying given “uninterrupted escalation” of Tehran’s nuclear programme. – Reuters

The waters of the Caspian Sea appear deceptively calm. But this sea route – which provides a direct path between Iran and Russia – is increasingly busy with cargo traffic, including suspected weapons transfers from Tehran to Moscow. As cooperation between the two countries deepens, the Caspian Sea route is being used to move drones, bullets, and mortar shells that the Russian government has purchased from the Iranian regime to bolster its war effort in Ukraine, according to experts. – CNN

Iran publicly hanged a man Thursday in front of a large crowd, the latest execution carried out by the Islamic Republic, a human rights group said. The unidentified man was convicted of “corruption on earth” and was hung in the city of Maragheh, the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) said. – Fox News

Iran has moved dangerously close to enriching weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear bomb, but the regime has not yet crossed the critical threshold of declaring it has built an atomic weapon. – Fox News

The United States on Thursday called Iran’s missile program a “serious threat” after the clerical state unveiled a new model with its longest range to date. – Times of Israel 

Iran enjoys an increasingly friendly environment in parts of Latin America, Colombia’s former president Ivan Duque said while in Jerusalem this week. – Times of Israel

Mark Toth writes: Is this a prelude to something? Quite possibly. If and when Jerusalem acts militarily against Tehran to stop its nuclear ambitions, it will likely involve four different fronts, as Iranian-backed groups in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza would immediately launch reprisal missile and rocket attacks on Israel. For now, however, only one thing is certain. Tehran has inserted the nuclear key into the gate lock of Armageddon and is beginning to twist it open. – The Hill

Amos Harel writes: Both the organizers of the demonstrations and the leaders of the opposition in the Knesset are having a hard time trying to guess what Netanyahu has up his sleeve, and in the absence of an immediate danger to democracy, the number of demonstrators could decline in the near future. – Haaretz

Russia & Ukraine

A pro-Kremlin political operative and blogger claimed Thursday that he was fired from an online media company after he published an interview in which the head of the Wagner mercenary group warned of a potential revolution in Russia and said Moscow’s war in Ukraine had backfired. – Washington Post

As Kyiv gears up for a much-anticipated counteroffensive, Ukrainian officials, independent analysts and American military officials say the Russians are increasing their use of Soviet-era bombs. Although they have limitations, the weapons, they said, are proving harder to shoot down than the fastest, most modern missiles that the Ukrainians have become adept at intercepting. – New York Times

Russia has declared victory in its devastating, nearly yearlong assault on Bakhmut, and its Wagner mercenaries have begun to withdraw. Ukraine, whose forces have made small gains on the outskirts, has signaled that it is now focused on making it difficult for Moscow to hold onto the city. – New York Times

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that European allies are developing a coordinated program to train Ukrainian forces on the F-16 fighter jet, but Pentagon leaders warned that it will be a costly and complex task and won’t be a magic solution to the war. – Associated Press

A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Ukraine war could last for decades, with long periods of fighting interspersed by truces, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Thursday. – Reuters

Japan will place additional sanctions on Russia after the Group of Seven (G7) summit the country hosted last week agreed to step up measures to punish Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Friday. – Reuters

Russia signaled on Thursday that if demands to improve its grain and fertilizer exports are not met then it will not extend beyond July 17 a deal allowing the safe wartime export of the same products from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports. – Reuters

Ukraine shot down 10 missiles and over 20 drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks on the capital Kyiv, the city of Dnipro and eastern regions, Ukrainian officials said on Friday. – Reuters

The United States plans to announce up to $300 million worth of military aid for Ukraine comprised mainly of ammunition, two official sources said on Thursday. – Reuters

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia’s security services knew what they were doing after a top Ukrainian intelligence official said President Vladimir Putin was number one on Kyiv’s kill list. – Reuters

Russia’s internal spy agency said on Thursday it had detained two Ukrainian saboteurs plotting to blow up the power lines of two nuclear power stations to shut down the reactors and embarrass Russia on the eve of this month’s Victory Day holiday. – Reuters

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that Russia had begun moving nuclear weapons to its territory, which borders the European Union, ratcheting up tensions with the West over the Ukraine conflict. – Agence France-Presse

An explosion damaged buildings in central Krasnodar, a large southern Russian city, while air defenses shot down a missile over the neighboring Rostov region, according to local officials. – Bloomberg

The military’s top general cautioned Thursday that F-16s won’t act as a “magic weapon” for Ukraine, but the U.S. is fully behind a group of NATO allies taking the lead on training and potentially transferring the jets to Kyiv. – Politico

The European Union has immobilized more than €200 billion ($215 billion) in Russian central bank assets since Moscow invaded Ukraine, according to fresh numbers, underscoring the importance of ongoing discussions on how to use such funds to help rebuild the war-hit country. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon has denied reports that it approved the transfer of American military equipment for use in a deadly raid on a Russian region bordering Ukraine on Monday. – New York Sun

Andreas Kluth writes: So the Ukrainians shouldn’t attack Russia proper, nor encourage proxies such as the Russian anti-Putin paramilitaries to do it for them. Better for them to make clear to the world that they’re purely defending their country. The strategy must remain to win global support and then retake as much of Ukraine as feasible. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Any limited nuclear strike would thus have negligible battlefield value while simultaneously provoking the annihilation of Russian military forces. Putin would be defeated in Ukraine and left politically impotent at home. Russian culture and history suggest he would not stay in office for very long afterward. – Washington Examiner

Amos Harel writes: Putin is under growing pressure from the nationalist direction to show results, Ryan writes, in the light of the disappointment at the army’s failure. In his view, the United States needs to prepare the possible responses to a new world order in which the nuclear genie has been let out of the bottle. Not to abandon Ukraine, to get ready for change. – Haaretz

Andrei Kolesnikov writes: All of this is a consequence of the psychological trauma of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which the elite who came to power in 2000 carried with them. Twenty-two years later, that trauma has resulted in a global catastrophe. – Foreign Affairs


Israel shot down a drone that had crossed over from Lebanon on Thursday, its military said in a statement. – Reuters

A terrorist infiltration alert was issued in the West Bank settlement of Teneh Omarim, close to Hebron, on Friday morning. According to reports, the terrorist was heading for the community synagogue, where holiday prayers were taking place, and was shot by security forces at the entrance to the building. – Jerusalem Post

Several European countries have added their voices to American criticism of a proposal to restrict the ability of Israeli human rights organizations to accept donations from foreign governments. The proposal is scheduled to be discussed at Sunday’s meeting of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. – Haaretz

Douglas Bloomfield writes: The original attraction to engaging with Israel was a mutual defense against Iran (trade and tourism were secondary), but that is changing as the Saudis seek a new rapprochement with Tehran, pursue closer ties China, side with Russia in OPEC oil production decisions against US interests, and most recently welcomed Syria’s Bashar Assad back into the Arab League. – Jerusalem Post

Nimrod Goren writes: In return, the U.S. should advance regional security summits and the Negev Forum, include a Palestinian component in Israel-Arab cooperative endeavors and normalization efforts, and encourage the EU’s recent initiative to advance a comprehensive regional peace. – Middle East Institute 


The chief of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group on Friday called on the country’s central bank governor to resign amid mounting legal troubles. The governor, Riad Salameh, should either step down or be stripped of his responsibilities, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, said in a televised speech commemorating the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000. – Associated Press

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday fired back at Israel following a series of warnings from Jerusalem directed at his Lebanese terror group. – Times of Israel 

Michael Young writes: As Iran looks at Lebanon, what does it see? It sees its local ally presiding over a state in ruin whose population is angry and refuses to suffer for Tehran. Nor can Hezbollah go to war against Israel without potentially destroying its own domestic standing. All of that won’t make the Iranians alter their strategy, but it does raise real questions about the value of that strategy today. – The National News


Two top rights groups on Friday slammed the severe restrictions imposed on women and girls by the Taliban in Afghanistan as gender-based persecution, which is a crime against humanity. – Associated Press

Among a small number of ambassadors who remain in Kabul, Wang Yu, Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan, appears the busiest. – VOA News

Afghanistan’s hard-line Islamist Taliban rulers are keen on showcasing their government’s military prowess by frequently displaying repaired helicopters and planes from the country’s inventory of aging aircraft. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


As Turkey prepares for a landmark runoff in its presidential election, the fate of people like Sabika and Islam are on the ballot. After years of economic crisis here, Syrian refugees and asylum seekers have become easy targets for leaders across the political spectrum, who contend that immigrants are changing the nation’s character and should be returned to their home country by force. – Washington Post

Kurds opposed to President Tayyip Erdogan fear victory for him in Turkey’s presidential election could reinforce a crackdown the state has been waging against them for years, alarmed by a surge in nationalist rhetoric ahead of Sunday’s vote. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Gulf states recently sent funding to Turkey, briefly helping relieve the central bank and markets, and he intends to meet and thank their leaders after Sunday’s runoff presidential election. – Reuters

The Turkish central bank’s net forex reserves dropped into negative territory for the first time since 2002, standing at $-151.3 million on May 19, official data showed on Thursday, as it sought to counter forex demand ahead of Sunday’s runoff vote. – Reuters

Bobby Ghosh writes:It is hard to know what combination of factors will force Erdogan to seek a reset with the West, but two elements are essential. One is that Turkey will need to reach a level of economic crisis from which even Erdogan’s Arab friends can’t extricate him. The other is that Russia’s conduct in the war in Ukraine makes his special relationship with Putin a liability. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) said it had conducted air strikes against smuggling networks on Thursday, with blasts hitting a western city that is home to armed factions that have backed a rival administration. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates is increasingly pursuing bilateral trade deals outside of the Saudi-headquartered regional Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), as competition with Riyadh intensifies for economic dominance in the oil-rich region. – Reuters

A Hong Kong-flagged ship briefly blocked Egypt’s vital Suez Canal on Thursday morning, authorities said, the latest such incident in the busy waterway. – Associated Press

As many as 14 million Syrians face a near insurmountable barrier to returning to their homes after the government passed laws giving the state power to seize their land and property, according to a report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights. – The Guardian

Josh Rogin writes: By turning a blind eye to Assad’s war crimes, members of the Arab League have made clear that they don’t care about Putin’s war crimes either. But unless somebody does something to hold Assad and his enablers accountable, their Syrian and Ukrainian victims won’t be the last. – Washington Post

Amos Harel writes: Whatever the case, there will undoubtedly be those who will explain that this is another historic victory for the Second Israel. Henceforth, we can be sure that there will be someone to ensure proper supervision of the elitist nuclear scientists from the First Israel. – Haaretz

Yaakov Katz writes: US diplomats do not hide the fact that the decision on this will need to be made by Biden and that it will depend on more than just US ties with MBS. A normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be a huge win for Netanyahu. Does Biden want to give him that right now? – Jerusalem Post

Muneer Binwaber writes: At the same time, the conflicts and crises in the countries of origin of these migrants need to be seriously addressed at the international level. If countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and others hope to stem the influx of migrants across their own borders, they must do everything possible to reduce violence and mitigate the effects of climate change in critical zones such as the Horn of Africa. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

The two Koreas are elevating a space race aimed at modernizing how each country monitors the other’s improving military firepower. As hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough have dimmed in recent years, North and South Korea have grown more antagonistic toward one another and upped their displays of military might. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea successfully launched a commercial-grade satellite for the first time Thursday as part of its growing space development program, as rival North Korea is pushing to place its first military spy satellite into orbit. – Associated Press

North Korea is ramping up efforts to deploy information technology workers overseas as it increasingly relies on cyberattacks and other online crimes to funds its weapons programs, US and South Korean officials said, anticipating the easing of the isolated country’s strict Covid lockdown. – Bloomberg


When stand-up comedian Li Haoshi, better known by his stage name House, was detained this month for telling a joke riffing off a Chinese military slogan, the authorities gave an unusual reason for cracking down on performers like him: “bukekangli,” or “force majeure.” – Washington Post

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and her Chinese counterpart held a pivotal meeting on U.S.-China ties as pressure was building on the Biden administration to respond to Beijing’s blacklisting of the U.S. semiconductor maker Micron Technology. – Wall Street Journal

Roughly this time last year, Beijing was a Covid-19 fortress teetering on the edge of a lockdown. As daily case counts crept up to around 100 in this mega-capital of more than 20 million people, residents cleared out grocery stores, lined up for near-daily testing and postponed travel out of the city due to the risk that they wouldn’t be allowed back in. – Wall Street Journal

The rows of towering buildings crowding the banks of the Gan River are a testament to the real estate boom that transformed Nanchang in eastern China from a gritty manufacturing hub to a modern urban center. – New York Times

Hong Kong authorities on Friday condemned a British government call for the removal of a China-imposed national security law that Britain said had been used to persecute, “silence and discredit” pro-democracy opposition figures. – Reuters

A Hong Kong man was sentenced Thursday to almost six years in prison for alleged involvement in a foiled plot mostly by high school students to bomb court buildings following 2019 anti-government protests. Three other defendants younger than 21 were sentenced to rehabilitation, while the sentencing of two others was postponed. – Associated Press

U.S. trade policy with China and other nations must strike a more equitable balance between needs of workers and corporate profits, leaders of two big U.S. unions said at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting on Thursday. – Reuters

Beijing still hasn’t given a formal response to the US request for a meeting between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu at an upcoming forum in Singapore, a senior US defense official said Thursday. – Bloomberg

China’s commerce minister and his US counterpart have raised concerns about their countries’ trade and investment policies at a meeting in Washington but pledged to keep channels of communication open in the first visit by a senior Chinese official to the US capital since 2020. – Financial Times

Dan Murphy writes: Keeping American higher education open to the world is not about helping China to become strong, nor should we delude ourselves about Beijing’s intentions. It’s about exuding confidence in the strength and virtues of our system to ensure that America remains the best country in the world for learning and research. – New York Times

Danielle Pletka writes: Still, Biden’s senior national security team is intent on trying for the desired reset. And the U.S. president himself, ever confident in his foreign policy chops, likely estimates that he can succeed where Trump faltered: in splitting China from its dangerous new alliance with Russia, deterring China from its promised absorption of Taiwan, and ramping up trade with China while fostering national champions in semiconductors and other critical sectors. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

Having the delegates from the world’s 20 wealthiest nations meet to discuss tourism amid the majestic Himalayan beauty of India’s Kashmir showcases what India says is the return of peace and prosperity to the region. But the conversations touting a new normalcy came amid a heavy security presence and were in sharp contrast to the voices just outside the barricaded conference premises. – Washington Post

The capital of India’s Manipur state, Imphal, until very recently boasted shiny showrooms featuring international brands and hosted delegates from the world’s wealthiest countries for Group of 20 meetings, showing this border province as part of a prosperous, new business-minded India on the rise. – Washington Post

Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said authorities are dismantling his opposition party, rocking a country that has been plagued by political instability and casting a shadow over its fragile democracy. – Wall Street Journal

Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr. writes: Might the Americans also share their nuclear reactor designs with New Delhi? But for this to happen, India, which has kept the United States at arm’s length practically since its birth, would have to finally and firmly close ranks with the leading Indo-Pacific democracies and formally forsake the nonaligned strategic autonomy it has long enshrined at the heart of its foreign policy. – Foreign Affairs

Patrick Mendis writes: What New Delhi must ask itself is which would it rather see occur: China achieving national rejuvenation and global hegemony based upon military and economic strength, or an Indo-Pacific region that remains safe for democracy by fully aligning India with the United States and its allies? – The National Interest


Police detained an armed and masked man who had barricaded himself in a building after allegedly killing a woman and two police officers in the central Japanese prefecture of Nagano on Thursday, according to state broadcaster NHK. – Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that “strictly technical” issues remain in resolving one of the main disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, neighbors that fought a war over a contested territory. – Associated Press

Japan and the United States are likely to issue a joint statement on semiconductor and advanced technology cooperation on Friday, the Yomiuri daily newspaper reported without disclosing where it obtained the information. – Reuters

The United States is “deeply troubled” that Cambodia’s sole opposition party is being prevented from participating in the country’s July 23 election, the State Department said on Thursday. – Reuters

Negotiators’ continuing failure to reach an agreement to lift the U.S. debt ceiling forced the House of Representatives’ new China committee to postpone a planned trip to Taiwan, the committee’s chairman, Republican Representative Mike Gallagher, told reporters on Thursday. – Reuters

Tbilisi, an ancient Silk Road city, is no stranger to foreigners turning up on its streets. But the arrival of more than 100,000 Russians in the country since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year has left Georgians uncertain whether to welcome them as friends or shun them as foes. The government’s recent attempt to force through what critics see as a Kremlin-style “foreign agent” law, and the huge protests which prevented this, have not helped émigrés to settle in or locals to feel at ease alongside the new arrivals. – CNN

Thailand said the US has rejected a bid by its air force to immediately purchase F-35A stealth fighter jets, citing a long waiting period and requirement of heavy investment in infrastructure and training. – Bloomberg


Denmark and the Netherlands are set to head a new European coalition to provide Ukraine with F-16 pilot training and maintenance as the allies prepare to supply Kyiv with fighter jets, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Thursday. The United States will participate in the training program, to be conducted in Europe, along with Norway, Belgium, Portugal, Poland and others that have F-16s in their arsenals. – Washington Post

Senior judge Ioannis Sarmas was sworn in Thursday as Greece’s caretaker Prime Minister who will head the country until new national elections are held in about a month. – Associated Press

The European Union agreed on Thursday to suspend restrictions on imports from Ukraine for a further year after warding off an import ban imposed by some EU nations amid farmer protests over low prices. – Reuters

Sweden’s defense minister says the Nordic country is considering whether to let Ukrainian pilots test its JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets. So far, Sweden has ruled out sending any Gripen fighters to Ukraine, saying it needs them for its own territorial defense. But Defense Minister Pål Jonsson told Swedish broadcaster TV4 that Sweden was looking with a “positive spirit” on a Ukrainian request to allow its pilots to try out the Swedish plane. – Associated Press

The chairman of Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday offered words of reconciliation over World War II-era mass murders that have strained relations with its neighbor and strategic ally Poland for 80 years. – Associated Press

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani met Thursday in Rome with his French counterpart just weeks after canceling a visit to Paris in protest of a French minister’s criticism of Italy’s migration policy. – Associated Press

Sweden’s highest court on Thursday upheld the life sentence for the eldest of two Iranian-born Swedish brothers for spying for Russia and its military intelligence service GRU for a decade. – Associated Press

Russia said on Thursday it would shut Sweden’s consulate in St Petersburg and its own mission in Sweden’s second-biggest city Gothenburg, and expelled five Swedish diplomats in a tit-for-tat move after Stockholm expelled five Russians last month. – Reuters

The European Union is cautious about imposing controls on investments into China, despite encouragement from the US to develop tougher legal tools. – Bloomberg

All but one suspect in the alleged corruption case at the European parliament have been released from house arrest, as the Belgian investigation into the “Qatargate” scandal enters a new phase. – Financial Times

Max Bergmann, Otto Svendsen, and Sissy Martinez write: Membership in the European Union is critical for Ukraine’s reconstruction and future prosperity. A clear path to membership could serve as a catalyst for investment and growth given the European Union’s strong regulatory framework and history of economic integration. But the European Union is suffering from “enlargement fatigue” and has essentially slammed the door for new members. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


For more than 20 years, Fulgence Kayishema, one of the world’s most wanted fugitives of the Rwandan genocide, evaded authorities who say he orchestrated the killing of more than 2,000 Tutsis during the massacre. He remained at large, hiding among refugees in several countries, and masking himself behind various aliases. This week the police finally caught up with him in South Africa. – New York Times

The U.S. on Thursday said Russian mercenary force Wagner Group may be working through Mali and other countries to hide its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine, and accused it of supplying a Sudanese paramilitary with surface-to-air missiles. – Reuters

Sporadic clashes between Sudan’s army and a paramilitary force spilled over into Thursday, puncturing the relative calm in the capital Khartoum and raising the risk of a week-long truce deal crumbling as concerns grew over a humanitarian crisis. – Reuters

Tunisia’s most popular private radio station said an appeal court has allowed its director to be released on bail from prison, after more than three months of detention. – Associated Press

Nearly five years after he was arrested at a South African airport, Mozambique’s former finance minister has lost a last-ditch court appeal and faces extradition to the United States over a $2 billion corruption scandal related to loans to Mozambican state-owned companies. – Associated Press

Mastiura Ishakh Yousouff is only 22 but has been internally displaced in Sudan’s Darfur region for most of her life. But this is new territory even for someone who hasn’t known a permanent home – a refugee camp in eastern Chad, one of the world’s most destitute countries. – CNN

Alexandre Bish writes: The longer the international community fails to act, and the longer the conflict in Sudan is allowed to drag on, the more likely it is that actors like the Chadian rebels and Russian mercenaries will benefit from it. By employing these strategic measures, the international community can change the military factions’ calculus and bring about a genuine negotiation for peace to help slow the renewed humanitarian crisis already unfolding. – War on the Rocks

Latin America

Lawmakers in Peru voted on Thursday to declare Mexico’s leftist president unwelcome in the South American country, citing what they described as his meddling in Peru’s internal affairs and marking a deepening diplomatic split in the region. – Reuters

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday urged Latino voters not to back Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the next U.S. presidential election, accusing the Republican politician of trying to win votes at the expense of migrants. – Reuters

Argentina has initiated a dispute against the United States at the World Trade Organization regarding tubular goods used in oil production, the trade watchdog said on Thursday. – Reuters

Argentine Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner slammed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday, saying that the program agreed to with the multinational lender is holding back the country’s economy. – Reuters

The European Union´s top diplomat said in Havana on Thursday that the 27-member bloc remains Cuba´s top trade partner, and one committed to “mutual respect” despite U.S. sanctions and the communist-run island´s increasing overtures towards Russia. – Reuters

Only weeks before a joint summit between the European Union and Latin American nations was supposed to seal an oft-delayed trade deal, the writing on the wall of EU headquarters Thursday made it clear why it still might not happen. – Associated Press

United States

The head of the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday asked the Biden administration for details about its outbound investment proposal, including why investment restrictions would be more effective than export controls or sanctions. – Reuters

The founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia was handed an 18-year prison sentence Thursday for sedition in the 2021 attack on the US Capitol, the toughest penalty given yet over the January 6 assault. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: These ideas aren’t revolutionary, but a bipartisan voice vote is notable in a Congress otherwise polarized. The American public needs to know that a Chinese takeover of Taiwan would make Beijing master of the Pacific, to the detriment of American interests and prosperity. The path to deterring that outcome is building a new political consensus like this week’s China committee report. – Wall Street Journal

Thomas Emanuel Dans writes: Economic sanctions, when correctly applied, can change a country’s behavior. But once those sanctions achieve their purposes and are no longer relevant, they should go. Trust and partnership must take the place of leverage and disincentive. In the case of Kazakhstan, it’s time for the U.S. to put the past to bed. – Wall Street Journal


A senior Kenyan security official on Thursday dismissed as “propaganda” a Reuters report which detailed a years-long series of hacks by Chinese cyber spies against the East African country’s government. – Reuters

Group of Seven (G7) nation officials will meet next week to consider problems posed by generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT, Japan said on Friday. – Reuters

Researchers have discovered Israeli-made Pegasus phone hacking software deployed against targets across Armenia, including reporters at a U.S. government-funded news organization, a report released on Thursday found. – Reuters

Every day, Venezuela’s ministry of communications tweets a “hashtag of the day”, which is repeated not only by elected officials’ accounts and state sympathisers but also by “digital troops” like Rafael, who are paid to share propaganda. “You have to space it out to avoid being blocked. I do about 100 in the morning and 100 more in the afternoon,” he says. – BBC 

Editorial: The EU rightly prides itself on world-leading standards on data privacy — a legitimate and growing consumer concern — while the US says it is protecting security activities from which allies also benefit. But the two sides need to find a way to ensure necessary personal data flows can continue legally. A digital decoupling between the west and China may already be unavoidable, but it would be regrettable indeed to see a fracturing of the internet between the world’s top democracies. – Financial Times

Amos Harel writes: The two sides are engaging in exercises simulating a multi-arena war, activating a joint directorate and together building a defensive system. There is satisfaction in Israel at the progress in the joint exercises, in which the abilities developed in Israel get high marks from the American side. – Haaretz


A US Navy investigation released Thursday identified major concerns with the brutally difficult training that produces members of the elite SEALs special forces. – Agence France-Presse

The intelligence community needs an enterprise-level integration officer to help collaborate on complex challenges that cut across organizations, according to the director of the Defense  Intelligence Agency. – Defense News

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced he has nominated Air Force Gen. CQ Brown to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a brief ceremony in the White House’s Rose Garden. – Defense News

U.S. Army officials are considering what’s next for an initiative known as radio as a service, after receiving feedback from industry that swung from enthusiasm to skepticism. – Defense News

Editorial: For much of the past eight years, Congress has not asked the Pentagon to spend more smartly. It has mostly just asked the Pentagon to spend more. It is time for a more hardheaded approach. – Washington Post