Fdd's overnight brief

May 28, 2019

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Most money changers here in Iran’s capital, who have long had their finger on the pulse of public sentiment, don’t expect a war with the U.S.—and instead say the economy’s decline will eventually force Iran’s leaders to negotiate with Washington. – Wall Street Journal

One month after the Trump administration said it would tighten its ban on Iran’s oil sales, the country’s direct crude buyers have all but vanished, traders and executives in the Islamic Republic say. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump on Monday denied that the United States is seeking regime change in Iran, dialing back hawkish rhetoric days after ordering 1,500 additional U.S. troops to the region. – Washington Post

As the Trump administration pressures Iran to cut support for groups it has backed in the Middle East, some of those same militias are lashing out at Tehran’s adversaries, risking an escalation the Islamic Republic says it doesn’t want. – Wall Street Journal

European and Arab officials are carrying messages between Washington and Tehran, Western diplomats say, in a bid to head off outright conflict in the Persian Gulf. – Wall Street Journal

Iran would be prepared to respond to a possible confrontation with the U.S. after the Trump administration dispatched troops to the region and arranged the sale of billions of dollars in weapons to its Arab allies, top Iranian officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a top member of the minority party in the upper chamber, met recently with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a time of escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran. – Washington Examiner

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday his country would defend itself against any potential war that might arise between the U.S. and Iran. – Washington Examiner

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe playing a role in facilitating talks with Iran after the Japanese leader reportedly offered his services as an intermediary amid mounting tensions in the Middle East. – Bloomberg

A piece of evidence in the Trump administration’s case against Iran may be less than it seems. […]satellite images provided exclusively to The Daily Beast by the company Planet Labs show that a component of the administration’s description of Iran’s aggressive behavior—an apparent positioning of Iranian missiles onto boats—may not be as clear in commercial imagery as anonymous administration officials claimed it to be in statements to other publications. – The Daily Beast

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview Thursday with “Fox & Friends,” addressed mounting tensions between the United States and Iran — saying the threat from the regime is “real” and “credible.” – Fox News

An Iranian female singer has been summoned by the Islamic republic to appear in court following a public solo performance in the Abyaneh village that was swiftly cut short by the local Cultural Heritage Organization, according to a BBC report. – Jerusalem Post

A German business group says German companies’ trade with Iran has declined sharply as the United States turns up the economic heat on Tehran. – Associated Press

Hua Qu writes: My husband and our family are innocent victims in this quarrel between powers. […]I implore the Iranian, U.S. and Chinese governments, and other members of the international community, to come together and find a way to free this innocent man and bring him home to his family without delay. He has already been unfairly kept from his family for far too long. – Washington Post

Mohammed Alyahya writes: Mr. Trump’s policy of maximum pressure is showing signs of success.  […]While a full conventional conflict is an outcome that is best avoided, it is important to be clear-eyed about the realities on the ground. The Islamic Republic is already at war. For nearly 40 years, it’s been conducting that war against U.S. allies and interests and American forces. – Wall Street Journal


Syrian government forces pounded positions in the northwest of the country on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, in the heaviest day of air strikes since launching a major campaign against the rebel-held territory nearly four weeks ago. – Reuters

Israel’s military said it attacked a Syrian anti-aircraft position that fired on one of its warplanes on Monday, and Syrian state media reported that a soldier had been killed in what it called an “Israeli aggression”. – Reuters

Russian-backed Syrian government forces will be able to advance all the way to the Turkish border if they pierce rebel defenses in the northwest, a top opposition official said, urging Turkey to do more to shield the area from a major attack. – Reuters


Turkey’s central bank Monday tweaked its reserve requirements in a move seen by investors as a backdoor tightening aimed at helping the country’s ailing currency. […]The lira came under renewed pressure after the national election board earlier this month canceled results of the Istanbul mayoral race, which the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost, fueling investors’ concerns of political instability and economic volatility. Tension has also been mounting with the U.S. over Ankara’s push to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense systems, a move that could lead to sanctions from Washington. – Wall Street Journal

Several Kurdish lawmakers and thousands of prison inmates in Turkey have ended their hunger strike after a call from jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, one of the MPs told a news conference on Sunday in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. – Reuters

A top Turkish official suggested for the first time that the delivery of a Russian missile-defense system may take place later than planned, possibly giving more time to avoid a looming confrontation with the U.S. – Bloomberg


President Trump offered his full-throated support for Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday as the Israeli leader continues to struggle to piece together a coalition. – Washington Examiner

Israel voiced openness on Monday to U.S.-mediated talks with Lebanon on resolving a dispute over the neighbors’ maritime border that has dogged Mediterranean oil and gas exploration. – Reuters

Qatar said on Friday that economic development needed for Israeli-Palestinian peace could not be achieved without “fair political solutions” acceptable to Palestinians, referring to a U.S. plan set to be unveiled next month. – Reuters

The Israel Security Prize will be awarded to the Mossad team that broke into the Iran nuclear archive and smuggled out secret documents, Channel 12 reported Sunday night. – Jerusalem Post

North Korea’s official news agency reported on May 24, 2019 that a Fatah delegation headed by the movement’s deputy chairman Mahmoud Al-‘Aloul had met in Pyongyang with Choe Ryong-hea, president of the presidium of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly.[1] According to the Palestinian official news agency WAFA, Al-‘Aloul handed Ryong-hea a letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud ‘Abbas to the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, discussing the steps the Palestinian leadership intends to take vis-à-vis the American Middle East peace initiative known as the “Deal of the Century.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has no jurisdiction to discuss matters concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Israeli army’s chief prosecutor said on Tuesday. – Haaretz

World-renowned Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin faced backlash for his statements about the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in an interview with Army Radio on Sunday. – Haaretz

Qatar plans to attend the international conference on the Palestinian economy in Bahrain in June, Haaretz has learned. – Haaretz


Iraq’s leaders are vowing to stand with Iran after the United States ramped up its rhetoric against what it calls the Iranian threat. – Al Jazeera

Thousands of supporters of a populist Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim cleric urged political and factional leaders on Friday to stay out of any conflict between Baghdad’s two biggest allies, Iran and the United States. – Reuters

Nick Butler writes: In the short term, the risk to Iraq is that US action against Iran draws the country into another unwanted conflict. Beyond that, the challenge is one becoming familiar across the oil-producing states — how to manage the limited levels of revenue available when oil prices are constrained within a limited band that shows no sign of rising much above $70 a barrel. – Financial Times

Gulf States

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified lawmakers Friday that President Trump is invoking his emergency authority to sidestep Congress and complete 22 arms deals that would benefit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries, despite lawmakers’ objections to the transactions. – Washington Post

Oman is trying “with other parties” to reduce tensions between the United States and Iran, the Omani Foreign Ministry tweeted on Friday. – Reuters

Jackson Diehl writes: The relative good news is that many in Congress remain fixed on the problem of MBS, who they understand is capable of single-handedly destroying the 75-year-old U.S.-Saudi alliance. The Saudi activists were widely received on Capitol Hill, including by senior Republicans. Legislation is still possible: Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been working on a bill that could subject the Saudi elite to visa restrictions until political prisoners are released. The bad news is that the crown prince is evidently not taking the threat of congressional action seriously.  – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: The U.S. gains influence by having our allies’ backs — influence with opportunities: to push for more aggressive political reform in areas such as women’s rights, and toward meaningful resolutions to conflicts such as that in Yemen. Remember, notions of trust and honor are integral not just to Sunni-Arab politics, but to the Sunni-Arab identity that defines Saudi Arabia and the UAE per se. If we abandon these allies now, they will abandon American interests. The world is imperfect. But Trump’s action today is the one that serves American and moral interests. – Washington Examiner

Eli Lake writes: President Donald Trump’s decision to bypass Congress will most likely harden congressional opposition to Saudi Arabia at a moment when the White House and the State Department are making the case for a “maximum pressure” campaign against the Saudis’ regional enemy, Iran. – Bloomberg


A leader of Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Sunday it had resumed drone strikes deep inside Saudi Arabia this month in response to what he called the Saudi-led coalition’s spurning of “peace initiatives” by his group. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s air defence forces intercepted a drone armed with explosives which had been launched by Yemen’s Houthis and aimed at an airport in the south of the kingdom, state news agency SPA said on Sunday. – Reuters

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement launched a drone strike on military hangars in Saudi Arabia’s Jizan airport near the Yemeni border, the group’s Masirah TV reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi criticized the U.N.’s special envoy to the country in a sharply-worded letter to the U.N. chief, describing him as legitimizing Houthi rebels his Saudi-backed coalition is locked in a four-year war with. – Reuters


Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has ruled out a ceasefire in the battle for Tripoli and accused the United Nations of seeking to partition Libya, according to an interview published by French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche. – Reuters

Heavy fighting raged in the Libyan capital on Saturday as eastern forces made a new push to advance inside the city controlled by the internationally recognized government. – Reuters

Cargo planes were discovered flying clandestinely into bases controlled by renegade Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar and dropping off unidentified payloads at the time his forces attacked Tripoli last month, an Al Jazeera Arabic TV investigation found. – Al Jazeera

Middle East & North Africa

President Trump said Friday he is sending about 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, part of a deployment sought by military officials as they move to counter what they have described as new threats from Iran and its allies. – Wall Street Journal

Egyptian security forces have committed widespread abuses against civilians in restive northern Sinai peninsula, some of which amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday, urging other nations to halt military assistance. – Reuters

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg took a swipe at White House national security adviser John Bolton as he blasted the Trump administration’s decision to send 1,500 troops to the Middle East. – Washington Examiner

Korean Peninsula

President Trump on Monday denied that North Korea had fired any ballistic missiles or violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions, taking the word of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the assessments of his own national security adviser and his Japanese host. He praised the murderous dictator as a “very smart man.” – Washington Post

Listening to President Trump, it is almost as though North Korea didn’t just conduct two separate missile tests this month, firing off at least three ballistic missiles in direct contravention of U.N. Security Council resolutions. – Washington Post

President Trump appeared to contradict his national security adviser on foreign soil in an early morning tweet Sunday, noting that while some in his administration were “disturbed” by North Korea’s testing of ballistic missiles earlier this month, the president himself was unbothered. – Washington Post

Members of both parties criticized President Trump’s handling of North Korea on Sunday after the president tweeted that he has “confidence” in Kim Jong Un and quoted North Korean state-run media’s assessment that former vice president Joe Biden is a “low IQ individual.” – Washington Post

North Koreans are forced to pay bribes to officials to survive in their isolated country where corruption is “endemic” and repression rife, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday in a report that Pyongyang dismissed as politically motivated. – Reuters

North Korea on Friday blamed an “arbitrary and dishonest” U.S. position for the failure of a recent summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump and warned that stalled nuclear talks would never restart unless Washington took a new approach. – Reuters

North Korea slammed US National Security Advisor John Bolton on Monday, calling him a “war maniac” and “war monger”, just as President Donald Trump offered a positive outlook on relations with Pyongyang. – Agence France-Presse

President Donald Trump is isolating himself from allies and even his own advisers on North Korea, eager to insist that his denuclearization efforts will be successful going into a 2020 re-election bid. – Politico

Ian Bremmer, a geopolitical analyst, journalist, and cable news regular, on Sunday shared a fabricated tweet featuring a false quote from President Trump about North Korea, which Bremmer later admitted making up. – Washington Examiner

Eli Lake writes: U.S. President Donald Trump often sounds more desperate for a deal than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The latest example came on Monday, when Trump insisted that North Korea had not tested ballistic missiles earlier this month — contradicting not only his own national security adviser but also the prime minister of Japan. – Bloomberg


In China, the current Islamic holy month of Ramadan can bring even more struggles for Muslims already under relentless pressures. […]But Muslim-majority nations have been almost entirely silent — apparently part of calculated policies to avoid angering China, despite widespread denunciations by the West and rights groups over the treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims. – Washington Post

China is digging in for a tough period of deteriorating ties with the United States, fanning the flames of patriotism with Korean War films, a viral song on the trade war, and editorials lambasting Washington. – Agence France-Presse

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will meet China’s defense minister at an Asia defense forum in Singapore, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday, at a time of strained relations between Beijing and Washington over trade and security. – Reuters

China has made “solemn representations” to Germany after it granted refugee status to two Hong Kong activists facing rioting charges in the Chinese-ruled city, demanding it correct its “mistakes”, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday. – Reuters

China’s East Hope Group is evaluating plans to invest $10 billion in an industrial zone in the United Arab Emirates, joining other Chinese companies, seeking a slice of China’s Belt and Road initiative. – Reuters

The Chinese government has slammed Washington for engaging with Taipei and ordered the Trump administration to cease diplomatic engagements with the island, after a highly unusual public meeting between top officials from the US and Taiwan. – CNN

Robert J. Samuelson writes: At last count, China held slightly more than $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities. One fear has been that, should China and the United States engage in an economic war — as they clearly are now — those dollars could become a weapon against us. […]The resolution of this struggle is unclear. But, if nothing else, the collision between the Trump administration and Beijing heralds a new era in U.S.-China relations. Both countries are caught in contradiction, being in conflict and dependent on each other at the same time. – Washington Post

Gerald F. Seib writes: American negotiators are trying to force the Chinese to make systemic changes in their system, particularly in the dominance of state-owned businesses and the ability of the government to extract technology and intellectual property from the business sector. But such components of the Chinese system no longer appear to be simply temporary structures as China matures, but rather pieces of the new model. – Wall Street Journal

James Jay Carafano writes: Policy experts have trotted out all kinds of interpretations. One view argues the delay represents the U.S. yielding to pushback organized by China. Another holds that the president is just using the whole issue as a bargaining chip in the trade talks. The Commerce Department continues to maintain that the ban is serious. Depending on whose dot-connecting you like, you can draw very different conclusions on what Trump is up to. But rather than guessing who guessed right, better to start with what we know than guessing about what we don’t. – Fox News


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s five-year term in office expired last week, but he’s conducting business as usual. Eager to make history as a peacemaker and further his agenda of reform and modernization, he is holding back-to-back meetings on boosting exports or upgrading the fetid Kabul River. – Washington Post

Attacks on Afghan schools tripled from 2017 to 2018, a Unicef report said Tuesday, as the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan continue to wage a campaign of violence against so-called softer targets, far from the battlefield. – New York Times

A former Afghan official has accused President Ashraf Ghani’s administration of engaging in widespread corruption, including the exchange of sexual favors for government posts, adding to a string of recent setbacks for the government. – New York Times

Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said. – Reuters

A bomb exploded in a mosque in the Afghan capital, Kabul, during Friday prayers, officials said, killing three people including a senior preacher and wounding at least 20 men who had gathered for worship. – Reuters

South Asia

Four people were killed and seven others injured on Sunday in three separate explosions in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, and police said they suspected a Maoist splinter group may have been responsible. – Reuters

India will not invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the swearing-in of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, two Indian government sources said, suggesting any early warming in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors is unlikely. – Reuters

Religious scholars in Pakistan have declared that hoarding dollars is a “grave sin”, following an increase in speculative buying of the US currency as the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan struggles to contain a balance of payments crisis. – Financial Times

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against the risk of conflict in the region, following a visit to Islamabad by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as tensions between Washington and Tehran escalated. – Reuters


President Trump wrapped up his Japan trip with Memorial Day addresses to troops on U.S. and Japanese Navy ships at a base south of Tokyo. – Wall Street Journal

A man stabbed at least 18 people, including 16 schoolchildren waiting at a bus stop, before fatally stabbing himself Tuesday morning, according to the police. One of the schoolchildren died in the attack, in a suburb southwest of Tokyo. NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, reported that all the children were girls. – New York Times

Militants linked to the Islamic State attacked a group of soldiers on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, setting off a clash that left two children dead, the military said on Sunday. – New York Times

Japan plans to buy 105 US-made stealth warplanes, Donald Trump said on Monday, which the US President said would give Tokyo the largest F35 fleet of any US ally. – Agence FrancePresse

Political volatility in Australia does not appear to threaten the country’s military and economic relationship with the United States, a panel agreed, partly because of concerns about Chinese economic and military ambitions in Oceania and Asia. – USNI News

Sri Lanka’s military has detained nearly 100 suspects during four days of search operations against remnants of an Islamist group blamed for the Easter attacks that killed 258, officials said Sunday. – Agence France-Presse

U.S. President Donald Trump met families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, pledging to help solve an emotive decades-old issue that has been a major policy concern of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government. – Bloomberg


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent visit to Iceland and last year’s Trident Juncture joint military exercise in the High North send a “clear signal” to the Kremlin that “we stick together,” Iceland’s foreign minister told a Washington think tank audience Thursday. – USNI News

A former US marine imprisoned in Russia on suspicion of spying has complained of “abuses and harassment” and says he is a “victim of political kidnap”. – BBC

The Kremlin on Monday rebuffed a call by an international maritime tribunal for Russia to release 24 Ukrainian sailors, saying the court had no jurisdiction over the strait where Russian security forces captured them. – Reuters

Russia launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker on Saturday, part of an ambitious program to renew and expand its fleet of the vessels in order to improve its ability to tap the Arctic’s commercial potential. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should summon Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov and issue him a warning: unless Paul Whelan is immediately provided with better treatment, and regular consular access to U.S. diplomats, President Trump will cancel his planned meeting with Vladimir Putin at next month’s G-20 summit in Japan. – Washington Examiner


The outcome of the weekend’s European Union elections threatened a fresh stage of political instability in the bloc, with results in many countries signaling disillusionment with the establishment and polarization among voters. – Wall Street Journal

Theresa May said she would quit as British prime minister once her Conservative Party chooses a successor, potentially paving the way for a new leader who would put a no-deal departure from the European Union back on the agenda. – Wall Street Journal

Britain’s two main parties were punished in the European elections, with results coming in on Monday showing that voters had rejected their handling of Brexit and turned to parties that were unequivocally pro-Brexit or pro-European Union. – Washington Post

President Emmanuel Macron of France lost his bet that he would defeat the far right, not only losing the election to the European Parliament but getting beaten by the populist firebrand he roundly defeated only two years ago, Marine Le Pen. – New York Times

Germany’s top official responsible for efforts against anti-Semitism suggested this weekend that Jews should not wear their skullcaps everywhere in public, setting off a debate about balancing personal safety and the right to religious freedom in the country. – New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Berlin next week at the start of a trip to Europe and will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel that had been scheduled earlier this month, but were called off at the last minute as tensions rose over Iran. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump will attend a banquet at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth and hold talks with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May during his state visit to Britain next month, the palace said on Friday. – Reuters

Estonia on Tuesday signed a new defense cooperation agreement with the United States, becoming the third and final Baltic nation to reach an agreement with the Pentagon on future defense planning. – Defense News

German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concerns over the country’s rise in anti-Semitism on Tuesday, saying there is no Jewish institution in the country that does not need police protection. – Haaretz

Editorial: While the European Parliament still has a pro-EU majority, it’s as fragmented and ideologically incoherent as ever. The traditional center-right and center-left parties saw declines from 2014 but remain the two biggest parties. The bloc’s 28 members, save Britain, support basic EU arrangements like the free movement of people and goods. But the deeper political integration envisioned by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr. Macron requires a much broader consensus. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: All this is not news to European Jews, who for some time have been feeling less and less safe and welcome in their home countries. […]As appalling as these statistics should be to every European, they should also ring a loud alarm for every American leader of conscience. Speak up, now, when you glimpse evidence of anti-Semitism, particularly within your own ranks, or risk enabling the spread of this deadly virus. – New York Times

Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Alina Polyakova write: Democracies are, by design, competitive and thus often messy. But the kind of political fragmentation taking place in Europe today is pushing the boundaries of useful debate and deliberation. As voters become increasingly frustrated with a lack of results, they will look to “more effective” strongman models of the type embodied by Russia and China. As the competition between democracy and authoritarianism intensifies, democracies must be able to deliver.  – Washington Post

Therese Raphael writes: It’s tempting to conclude that because pro-Remain parties did better in the U.K.’s European parliamentary elections than those pushing for a no-deal Brexit, the country has made up its mind to reverse the result of the 2016 referendum. If only it were that simple. – Bloomberg

Mohamed A. El-Erian writes: This year’s elections for the European Parliament have sent very loud messages to the European Union’s politicians. Understanding these messages may prove a lot easier than acting on them. And nowhere will this be clearer than in the U.K., where the two mainstream parties took quite a drubbing. – Bloomberg


The head of Sudan’s military council met Abu Dhabi’s crown prince on Sunday, who expressed the United Arab Emirates’ support for Sudan as it navigates a transition after the ouster of Omar al-Bashir, Emirates news agency (WAM) reported. – Reuters

Gunmen burst into a church in northern Burkina Faso on Sunday and shot dead four people, a security source said – at least the fourth attack on Christians in the past month. – Reuters

A coalition of Sudanese protest and opposition groups on Friday called for two days of strikes in private and public enterprises next week as part of pressure on military rulers to hand over power to civilians. – Reuters

The head of Sudan’s ruling military council visited neighboring Egypt on Saturday – his first trip abroad since the army overthrew former president Omar al-Bashir last month after mass protests against his rule. – Reuters

Islamist insurgents killed at least 25 soldiers and a number of civilians in an ambush in northeast Nigeria on Saturday morning, two security sources said, the second deadly attack on the army this week. – Reuters

Uganda on Saturday protested an incursion by Rwandan soldiers on its territory that it said resulted in two deaths, a development that could inflame already tense relations between the neighbors. – Reuters

Russia is sending military specialists to Congo Republic to service Russian-made military hardware and equipment there, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. – Reuters

United States

Sen. Joni Ernst advised President Trump exercise caution when deciding whether to pardon service members accused of war crimes. – Washington Examiner

A federal judge has partially blocked President Donald Trump’s plan to fund construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The preliminary injunction issued Friday immediately halts a $1 billion transfer of Pentagon counterdrug funding to cover expansions and enhancement of border barriers. – Politico

Politico Magazine came under fire over the weekend for the images used for its profile of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Senior Sanders campaign adviser David Sirota and Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the magazine for perpetuating anti-Semitic stereotypes. – Haaretz

Latin America

To tempt senior Venezuelan officials to turn on their president, opposition leaders recently turned to a wealthy Venezuelan businessman wanted in Florida for allegedly laundering billions of dollars for top regime figures. – Wall Street Journal

Both sides of Venezuela’s political divide agreed to hold a new round of negotiations, Norway’s foreign ministry said Saturday, as Oslo looks to mediate a solution to the South American nation’s political standoff and humanitarian crisis. – Wall Street Journal

President Nicolas Maduro promised Monday to show “good faith” ahead of a meeting in Norway between representatives of his government and those of opposition leader Juan Guaido. – Agence France-Presse

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that Moscow was ready to play a role in talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition in Oslo if the participants felt it was useful. – Reuters


The Trump administration’s offensives aimed at frustrating the 5G ambitions of China and mobile-technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. might end up impeding America’s wireless ambitions, too. – Wall Street Journal

The Federal Election Commission gave the go-ahead this week to a nonprofit organization seeking to offer free cybersecurity services to political campaigns, upending rules that typically consider such free services illegal campaign contributions. – Washington Post

Huawei Technologies’ founder and Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei told Bloomberg bloom.bg/2HT7DUY that retaliation by Beijing against Apple Inc was unlikely and that he would oppose any such move from China against the iPhone maker. – Reuters

Tom Rogan writes: Huawei is worthless without Google and other firms. Trump should keep up his effort. By ensuring that all allies assist the U.S. in restraining Chinese technological malevolence, the U.S. can squelch Huawei’s role in furthering the Chinese regime’s ambition for global dominance. – Washington Examiner


The Navy wants to procure a total of 13 LPD-17 Flight II amphibious ships. LPD-17 Flight II ships cost roughly $1.8 billion each to procure. The first LPD-17 Flight II ship, LPD-30, was procured in FY2018. As part of its action on the Navy’s proposed FY2019 budget, Congress provided $350 million in unrequested advance procurement (AP) funding for a second LPD-17 Flight II ship, LPD-31, to be procured in FY2020. – USNI News

The Senate confirmed Adm. Bill Moran to serve as the next chief of naval operations and Vice Adm. Robert Burke to serve as the next vice chief of naval operations, in a Thursday vote. – USNI News

Lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives released Fiscal Year 2020 defense spending plans this week, focusing on increasing the Pentagon’s technological superiority to near-peer competitors. – USNI News

A defense contractor accused of overcharging the Pentagon for mission-critical parts has agreed to repay the government $16 million after its executives were grilled by Congress last week. – Washington Examiner

Long War

France opposes the death penalty in principle but accepts Iraqi sovereignty, its foreign ministry said on Monday, as a fourth French citizen was sentenced to death in Iraq for being part of the Islamic State militant group.- Reuters

French police have arrested a 24-year-old Algerian computer student suspected of planting a bomb in Lyon last week that wounded 13 people, authorities said on Monday. Three other people were also arrested in connection with the case, which is being treated as a terrorism investigation. – Reuters

Calry Goldstein writes: Government efforts to confront terrorist financing must be focused. Each terrorist group has its own, tailor-made financing plan and methods. For example, Hezbollah perfected the diamond trade in West Africa to raise and transfer funds, whereas ISIS made use of local oil reserves and taxes. Efforts to disrupt terrorist financing must similarly be tailored to the particular means used by particular terrorist organizations. – Jerusalem Post

Trump Administration

President Trump’s new executive order giving the attorney general broad authority to declassify government secrets threatens to expose U.S. intelligence sources and could distort the FBI and CIA’s roles in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, current and former U.S. officials said. – Washington Post

Pete Buttigieg, a long-shot Democratic presidential candidate, attempted to resurrect a potentially embarrassing issue from Donald Trump’s past Sunday when he condemned Trump for avoiding military service during the Vietnam war. – US News

U.S. President Donald Trump will pick former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Washington Post reported on Friday. – Reuters