Fdd's overnight brief

May 28, 2024

In The News

Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called the deaths of civilians in an airstrike in the southern Gaza city of Rafah a “tragic mistake,” pledging an investigation as international condemnation mounted against the attack that Palestinian officials said killed dozens. – Wall Street Journal

Hamas militants in Rafah on Sunday fired eight rockets at the Tel Aviv region, the Israeli military said, marking the first time that Israel’s densely populated core has been targeted in four months. – Wall Street Journal

Nearly eight months into the war, at least 60,000 Israelis who left their homes near Lebanon in October are still displaced, part of a broader wave of lives upended by the fighting across the region. Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group and a key ally of Hamas, has vowed to keep fighting until the war in Gaza comes to a halt. – Wall Street Journal

Mediators are making efforts to restart cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas to halt fighting in the Gaza Strip, after an international court ordered Israel to scale back military action in Rafah. Talks to pause fighting in Gaza and return some Israeli hostages held in the enclave could resume as early as the new week ahead, according to Israeli officials who want discussions to be renewed. – Wall Street Journal

The United Nations’ highest court ordered Israel on Friday to halt military operations that could lead to the complete or partial destruction of the Palestinian population in Rafah, the Gaza Strip city where hundreds of thousands of civilians and units of the Hamas militant group have sought refuge. – Wall Street Journal

Radical Israeli settlers have expanded their attacks on aid trucks passing through the West Bank this month, blocking food from reaching Gaza as humanitarian groups warn that the enclave is sinking deeper into famine. – Washington Post

Aid trucks from Egypt entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday under a new U.S.-brokered agreement to reopen a vital conduit for humanitarian relief, the Israeli military and the Egyptian Red Crescent said.   – New York Times

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the Spanish Cabinet will recognize a Palestinian state at its Tuesday morning meeting as a European Union rift with Israel widens. – Associated Press

An Israeli airstrike triggered a fire that killed 45 people in a tent camp in the Gazan city of Rafah, officials said on Monday, prompting an outcry from global leaders who urged the implementation of a World Court order to halt Israel’s assault. – Reuters

More than 100 aid trucks managed to reach the Gaza Strip by Monday morning after an agreement to reroute aid through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, but supplies have not been distributed amid an ongoing Israeli assault, sources said. – Reuters

Israel is investigating the deaths of Palestinians captured during the Gaza war as well as a military-run detention camp where a human rights group has alleged abuse of inmates, the armed forces’ chief prosecutor said on Monday. – Reuters

The Israeli military said on Friday it had recovered the bodies of three hostages taken into the Gaza Strip after they were killed during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas-led militants. It said the bodies of Hanan Yablonka, Michel Nisenbaum and Orion Hernandez Radoux were recovered overnight in a joint operation by the army and the intelligence services in Jabalia, in northern Gaza where there has been intense fighting in recent days. – Reuters

A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing said on Sunday its fighters had captured Israeli soldiers during fighting in Jabalia in northern Gaza on Saturday, though the Israeli military denied the claim. The Hamas armed wing spokesman did not say how many soldiers had been abducted and showed no proof of the claim. – Reuters

The UN Security Council was set to convene an emergency meeting Tuesday over an Israeli strike targeting Hamas operatives that also reportedly killed dozens in a displaced persons camp in Rafah, with three European countries slated to formally recognize a Palestinian state – Agence France-Presse

Israeli officials have told the US that they believe tents housing displaced Gazans went up in flames after a fuel tank was set alight following an airstrike on top Hamas terrorists nearby, according to a report Monday. – Times of Israel

Two explosive-laden drones heading toward Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat from the eastern direction — apparently originating in Iraq — were downed by air defenses, the military said. – Times of Israel

Editorial: The transparent nature of the ICJ ruling has the benefit of making it easier to dismiss. Israel is advancing in Rafah and intends to halt in a few weeks when the job is done. Only when Hamas is defeated in Rafah can war in Gaza ebb. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Willick writes: The U.S.-Israel alliance, as leaders of both countries are fond of saying, is rooted in part in a shared commitment to democratic government. It’s a cruel irony that it is precisely the demands that each country’s democracy places on its leaders that are now a main source of friction between them. – Washington Post

Marc Champion writes: Double standards should not be Israel’s big concern here. The question for Israelis should be how they want to be led, how they retrieve the remaining hostages in Gaza alive, and how they win the war. That victory won’t come the day Hamas commander Yahya Sinwar is killed in a Rafah tunnel, but when Israelis can live in security, which will depend on addressing the Palestinian despair Hamas feeds on. This is the goal by which Israelis should judge their own leaders, as well as the claims of outsiders. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: By creating a standard in which almost any casualties lead to the indictment of elected leaders and their armies, Khan is setting the stage to tie the hands of all American leaders at a time when the liberal order is under unprecedented threat. Spluttering about “outrage” is not enough. Leaders such as Khan and Clooney today pose a far greater threat to the liberal order and human rights than any Israeli or American leader does. – Washington Examiner 

Tom Rogan writes: In contrast with the protesters’ offering of emulated death and vitriolic fury, this anniversary event celebrated a vibrant democracy and the better sustainment of the Jewish people. For Jews to walk past screaming fanatics must be painful and infuriating. And the protesters’ hypocrisy must also be noted here. After all, were roles reversed and were this a pro-Palestinian event in Gaza or the West Bank and the protesters outside it instead supporting Israel, one would imagine those protesters would not get the same free speech protections as they received here or would, if to a slightly lesser degree, receive in Israel. But in the end, that’s what makes America and Israel far better than their enemies. And why those enemies must never be allowed to triumph. – Washington Examiner

Bassem Eid writes: I urge the international community to reject such recognition and instead support efforts that promote peace, justice, and the welfare of all people in the region. The path to a Palestinian state must be paved with dialogue, mutual recognition, and a steadfast commitment to human rights — not the blood of innocents. – Algemeiner

Iran

The Biden administration is pressing European allies to back off plans to rebuke Iran for advances in its nuclear program, even as it expands its stockpile of near-weapons-grade fissile material to a record level, according to diplomats involved in discussions. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Saturday that the large crowds of mourners who took to the streets of Iranian cities this past week to honor the country’s deceased president, Ebrahim Raisi, were proof of widespread popular support for the Islamic Republic and its system of religious governance. – New York Times

Iran’s parliament re-elected hard-liner Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf on Tuesday as its speaker, reaffirming its hard-right makeup in the wake of a helicopter crash that killed the country’s president and foreign minister. – Associated Press

Iran’s acting President Mohammad Mokhber addressed the country’s new parliament Monday in his first public speech since last week’s helicopter crash that killed his predecessor and seven others – Associated Press

Iran is enriching uranium to close to weapons-grade at a steady pace while discussions aimed at improving its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog are stalled, two confidential reports by the watchdog showed on Monday. – Reuters

EU governments agreed on Friday to put nine Iranian entities, including Iran’s Defence Minister Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, on its sanctions list for supplying drones to Russia, which Moscow uses in its war against Ukraine, EU diplomats said. – Reuters

After Iran mourned president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a recent helicopter crash, the nation’s focus turns to an election next month for his successor, with the conservative camp seeking a loyalist to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. – Agence France-Presse

A Berlin-based think tank slammed for hosting a former Iranian ambassador accused of terror ties, has deleted the public announcement of the event after backlash. – Iran International

Diplomacy, as one 20th century American journalist put it, “is to do and say the nastiest things in the nicest way.” European statesmen from Machiavelli to Metternich to Bismarck perfected the form. But as this week’s sudden, unlamentable demise of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (a.k.a. “The Butcher of Tehran”) proved, the diplomatic rapier thrust cloaked in the mannerly prose of a note verbale is a lost art in Europe. – Politico

Arash Azizi writes: Whether in Riyadh, Tel Aviv, Abu Dhabi, or Washington, no one wants to see a volatile Tehran have access to nukes. In other words, the United States and others should still want to do all they can to scale back Iran’s nuclear program. The realist theoretician Kenneth Waltz famously mused that a nuclear Iran would actually help stabilize the region. But as even Waltz’s ideological successors admit, this is a gamble best not taken. – The Atlantic

Alan Goldsmith writes: Above all, do no harm to Iranians. That means no more statements of condolence for the death of Raisi, no such expressions of mourning for Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei after he dies (and that day cannot come soon enough), and no conveying of congratulations to the next Iranian president—whomever he may be—after his “election” on June 28. The Iranian people deserve international support; their oppressors, international opposition and opprobrium. – Jewish News Syndicate 

Russia & Ukraine

Early last month, cellphone footage captured a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle slowly winding toward its final destination in a new installment in the spreading drone wars—a drone itself was being used to hit a site where enemy drones were being made. The target was a high-tech college and manufacturing complex in the Russian steppes where Moscow is aiming to scale up production of the weapons it needs to gain an advantage in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. and its allies are moving toward an agreement on a novel financing plan that would provide Ukraine with up to $50 billion, though Western officials are still working through important details on the use and structure of the funds. – Wall Street Journal

Russian bombs struck a commercial facility in Ukraine’s Kharkiv on Saturday, killing at least six people and wounding 40, local officials said. Seventeen people are also missing, according to police. – Washington Post

Many U.S.-made satellite-guided munitions in Ukraine have failed to withstand Russian jamming technology, prompting Kyiv to stop using certain types of Western-provided armaments after effectiveness rates plummeted, according to senior Ukrainian military officials and confidential internal Ukrainian assessments obtained by The Washington Post. – Washington Post

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said on Sunday that Moscow’s forces were massing for a new ground offensive on the northeast of his country, a day after a Russian missile strike on a hardware superstore in the city of Kharkiv killed at least 16 people and wounded dozens more, according to Ukrainian officials. – New York Times

The United States announced a new $275 million package of weapons and equipment for Ukraine on Friday to help it repel Russia’s assault near Kharkiv, the State Department said. The package contains urgently needed capabilities including ammunition for HIMARS, 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds, missiles, anti-armor systems and precision aerial munitions, the department said. – Reuters

Three people were killed and six wounded in a Russian attack on Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region on Monday, Ukrainian emergencies service and a local official said. “In the afternoon, as a result of a missile attack on (the town of) Snihurivka, a fire broke out in a coffee shop, a car shop and a tyre service, and a blast wave damaged a self-service car wash,” the service said in the Telegram messaging app. – Reuters

Russian air defence units downed a drone outside Moscow on Monday, Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov said. Vorobyov, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said fragments from the downed drone landed on a private house at about 9 p.m. (1800 GMT) in Balashikha, just east of the capital. Those inside the house escaped unhurt. – Reuters

Russia will build a small nuclear power plant in Uzbekistan, the first such project in post-Soviet Central Asia, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on Monday at a meeting with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Reuters

Ukrainian attacks on Saturday killed four residents in southern Russia’s Belgorod region, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said. Gladkov, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said three people were killed in the village of Oktyabrsky in a multiple rocket attack. One man died after being taken to a hospital. – Reuters

Ukraine is negotiating to maximise possible imports of electricity from European Union countries to compensate for the generation capacity destroyed by the Russian attacks, Ukrainian energy minister said on Friday. – Reuters

“I am pleased to welcome France’s initiative to send instructors to Ukraine to train Ukrainian servicemen,” Oleksandr Syrskyi said on the Telegram messaging app after talks via video link with French defence minister Sebastien Lecornu. – Reuters

The Kremlin scolded NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday for suggesting alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, and said it was clear that NATO was in a direct confrontation with Russia. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday secured from Spain a pledge of additional air defense missiles to help fight the about 3,000 bombs that he says Russia launches every month at Ukraine in the third year of the war.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sealed a security agreement with Spain that involves €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in military supplies this year to aid Kyiv’s war effort. – Bloomberg

Lee Hockstader writes: If the answer in Europe is no — which looks increasingly likely — then the picture will look even grimmer elsewhere. Especially in the United States, where dysfunctional politics and First Amendment safeguards make monitoring Russian mischief even harder. – Washington Post

Adrian Bonenberger writes: The weapons and ammunition the West sends Ukraine are badly needed, and good; free countries must keep them coming. But Ukraine needs more than weapons — as it gears up another wave of mobilization, it also needs experienced veterans to help train those soldiers on the foundational tactics and leadership ideas that have been a key component of every great military. – The Hill

Syria

The European Union pledged more than 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) on Monday to support displaced Syrians, but it dismissed any notion of them being able to return home because of instability under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. – Reuters

Three senior Syrian officials were found guilty by a French court on Friday of war crimes over their involvement in the disappearance and subsequent death of a French-Syrian father and his son. All three were sentenced to life in prison, and people in the courtroom applauded the judges upon hearing the verdict. The trial was held in absentia. – Reuters

International donors meeting in Brussels said Monday they will commit 7.5 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in both grants and loans to support Syrians battered by war, poverty, and hunger for the rest of this year and beyond. – Associated Press

Saudi Arabia on Sunday announced the appointment of its first ambassador to Syria since severing ties with Damascus in 12 years, marking an ongoing thawing in relations since the war-torn country was readmitted to the Arab League over a year ago. – Associated Press

A bomb attached to a car exploded early Saturday in the western part of the Syrian capital that is home to several diplomatic missions, killing one person and causing material damage, state media reported. – Associated Press

A British woman and three children linked to the militant Islamic State group in Syria were handed over to a U.K. delegation that visited the region this week, Syrian Kurdish-led authorities said Friday. – Associated Press

The U.S.  is set to deliver $593 million to Syria, aimed at supporting the local LGBT+ community, women, the handicapped and displaced, United States Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power said on Tuesday. – Ynet

Bilal Bilici writes: But perhaps Trump may see an opportunity to prioritize tangible deliverables as opposed to ambitious visions of transforming the region. […] A future Trump presidency could be more likely to consider improved diplomacy with Turkey, the second-largest NATO member, to make such a roadmap possible. Biden’s Syria policy, haunted by JCPOA hangovers, will likely struggle to align with regional dynamics without a serious rethink. […]But we ignore the Syrian frozen conflict at our own peril. Whomever wins the presidency next fall, they will need to forge a new doctrine, grounded in Middle Eastern realities and strategic pragmatism. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt’s armed forces said they were investigating a shooting incident in the Rafah border area Monday that killed a member of its security forces — underscoring the risk of spillover from the Gaza war and putting further strain on Cairo’s relations with Israel – Washington Post

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis said on Monday they launched attacks on three ships in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, and two U.S. destroyers in the Red Sea. The group, which describes its attacks as acts of solidarity with Palestinians in Israel’s war in Gaza, said the ships were the Larego Desert and the MSC Mechela in the Indian Ocean, and the Minerva Lisa in the Red Sea. It did not name the destroyers. – Reuters 

An Israeli strike targeting a motorcycle in southern Lebanon hit next to a hospital entrance Monday, killing the motorcycle driver and a hospital security guard and wounding several civilians nearby, local health officials said. – Associated Press

An Egyptian appeals court on Monday upheld a one-year prison sentence against a prominent political activist who attempted to challenge President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in last year’s election, a defense lawyer said. – Associated Press

The US is expected to lift its ban on the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia, potentially in the coming weeks, according to US officials. – Financial Times

Diplomats from the United States and France visited the Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia’s Djerba island on Sunday to commemorate the victims of a deadly attack there last year, as security fears kept many Jews away from an annual pilgrimage there. – Agence France-Presse

Johan Engvall writes: Part and parcel of such policy would be to support and nurture the growing alignment of the Turkic world and tie this group of states, strategically located east and west of the Caspian Sea, closer to the European security architecture. To this effect, Western powers should also increase their support for the burgeoning regional cooperation in Central Asia. This would increase their collective weight and reduce their vulnerability to manipulation from revisionist powers. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

North Korea attempted to put a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit on Monday, the South Korean military said, but the rocket carrying the satellite exploded midair shortly after takeoff, marking the country’s third failed attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit. – New York Times

North Korea condemned China, Japan and South Korea on Monday for committing to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, describing their joint declaration after a rare summit in Seoul as a “grave political provocation” that violates its sovereignty. – Reuters

A senior North Korean official on Sunday accused the United States of “hostile air espionage,” detailing what he said were more than a dozen aircraft involved in reconnaissance missions against the Pyongyang regime this month. – Newsweek

China

This is the kind of local governance that China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, wants: more visible, more invasive, always on the lookout for real or perceived threats. Officers patrol apartment buildings listening for feuding neighbors. Officials recruit retirees playing chess outdoors as extra eyes and ears. In the workplace, employers are required to appoint “safety consultants” who report regularly to the police. – New York Times

For more than half a century, concerns about oil shortages or a damaged climate have spurred governments to invest in alternative energy sources [..] But no country has come close to matching the scale and tenacity of China’s support. – New York Times

In all areas of life, Hong Kong is hewing closer to mainland China, blurring distinctions that once cemented the city’s status as mostly free from the politics of Beijing. Legal rulings echo the courts in mainland China. City regulations follow edicts in Beijing. Even government banners recall Chinese Communist Party slogans. – New York Times

China and the United States held consultations on maritime affairs in which both countries agreed to maintain dialogue and manage risks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Assertions that all arrivals in China will face mobile telephone checks from July 1 are false, authorities said on Tuesday, dismissing them as distortions of the truth made by “anti-China forces”. – Reuters 

A senior U.S. lawmaker visiting Taipei said on Monday that weapons Taiwan had ordered are finally on their way, and that China’s “intimidating” war games last week underscored the need to boost the island’s deterrence abilities. – Reuters

China ended two days of war games around Taiwan in which it simulated attacks with bombers and practiced boarding ships, exercises that Taiwan condemned as “blatant provocation” on Saturday, detailing a surge of Chinese warplanes and warships. – Reuters

James Crabtree writes: “For responsible defense leaders, the right time to talk is anytime,” he said. “And the right time to talk is now.” It looks like Austin will get his wish as China seems ready to talk once again. One should not be naïve about what such dialogue will achieve. The long-term outlook for U.S.-China ties remains bleak. But as the world’s two most powerful militaries rub up against one another ever more closely, some communication is definitely better than none at all. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

Durga Prasad, an 80-year-old farmer, was resting under the shade of a tree in front of his home when the party workers came. An app on their smartphones could tell them in an instant who Mr. Prasad was, whom he might vote for — and why he should be grateful to India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. – New York Times

Police in eastern Pakistan arrested more than 100 Muslim men and charged them under anti-terrorism laws for attacking a Christian father and son over allegations they desecrated pages of Islam’s holy book, officials said Monday. – Associated Press

Pakistan’s security forces were conducting several raids in the country’s volatile northwest, a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, when shootouts ensued leaving seven soldiers and 23 militants dead, the army said Monday. – Associated Press

Beth Bailey writes: To decrease the discord of these contrary efforts, U.S. leaders should immediately identify means to monitor the impact of taxpayer dollars and discontinue payments that enrich the Taliban. In addition, President Joe Biden, who has said precious little about Afghanistan since the catastrophic withdrawal, should publicly condemn the Taliban for causing harm to U.S. citizens, killing our abandoned Afghan allies, and effectively locking Afghan women away in an open-air prison through a spate of misogynistic edicts. – Washington Examiner

Rohit Lamba and Raghuram Rajan write: Voter interviews suggest that while they still believe in the prime minister and are swayed by the efficient delivery of benefits, they do worry about joblessness. But whatever voters decide, India needs both an economic and democratic course correction, which only a strong opposition, regardless of its identity, will bring. – Foreign Affairs 

Asia

More than 2,000 people are estimated to have been buried alive in the landslide that swept over villages in northern Papua New Guinea on Friday, according to an official from the country’s National Disaster Center. – Washington Post

Leaders from China, Japan and South Korea on Monday will hold their first trilateral meeting in more than four years, as Beijing seeks to counteract U.S. efforts to work closely with Tokyo and Seoul — two major American allies in the Asia-Pacific region. – Washington Post

A bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers met Monday with Taiwan’s new leader, Lai Ching-te, the first such visit since Lai’s inauguration last week, and one that the lawmakers and Taiwanese officials said demonstrates the steadfastness of U.S. support for Taiwan at a time of escalating tensions with China. – Washington Post

The U.S. and Philippine marines arrived in waves on this little island nearly 100 miles from the southern tip of Taiwan. A platoon clutching automatic rifles and machine guns sprang from Black Hawks and took up positions around the airfield. – Wall Street Journal

Seven more mobile force units will soon arrive as reinforcements in New Caledonia, the Elysée said in a statement on Monday, also indicating a state of emergency would end as planned in the French Pacific territory on Tuesday morning local time. – Reuters

Protesters are gathering in Taipei as opposition lawmakers try to push through controversial legislation giving them greater investigative powers and effectively curbing the authority of President Lai Ching-te. – Bloomberg

The United Nations human rights office on Friday warned there was a risk of a serious rise in violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where it received “frightening and disturbing reports” of the killing of Rohingya people and burning of their property. – Reuters

A Thai court on Monday sentenced a lawmaker from a progressive opposition party to two years in prison after finding her guilty of defaming the monarchy in a speech she made during a protest rally three years ago. – Associated Press

Tens of thousands of demonstrators held a protest Sunday in the center of the capital of Armenia, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after Armenia agreed to hand over control of several border villages to Azerbaijan. – Associated Press

Europe

A German court convicted a military officer of espionage Monday for passing internal documents to Russia and offering more, and sentenced him to 3 1/2 years in prison. – Associated Press

A Georgian parliament committee on Monday rejected the president’s veto of the “foreign agents” legislation that has sparked massive protests for weeks. – Associated Press

Defense officials in NATO member Poland on Monday presented a plan to strengthen anti-drone surveillance and on-ground military defense through a system of fortifications and barriers along about 700 kilometers (430 miles) of its eastern border with Russia and Russian ally Belarus. – Associated Press

The European Union agreed in principle on Monday to revive an EU civilian mission at Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip next to Egypt, but said it would need accords from all sides to press ahead, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. – Reuters

Italy will resume funding for the United Nations’ Palestinian relief organisation UNRWA as part of a 35 million euro ($38 million) aid package, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Saturday. – Reuters

Latvia said it wants to establish a “drone army” as part of efforts to boost production of the local defense industry and strengthen military capabilities in the Baltic region. – Bloomberg

European Union member states are growing increasingly exasperated by Hungary’s stonewalling of more than €6.5 billion ($7.1 billion) of urgently needed military aid for Ukraine as its military struggles to fend off Russian assaults. – Bloomberg

France and Germany are aiming to unveil plans this week for closer cooperation to strengthen Europe’s air defenses as they respond to pressure for Europeans to commit to their own security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday started the first state visit to Germany by a French head of state in 24 years, a three-day trip meant to underline the strong ties between the European Union’s traditional leading powers ahead of European Parliament elections in which far-right parties in both countries hope for gains. – Associated Press

The Norway-based Victims Families for Transitional Justice has condemned the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for its honoring of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, infamously dubbed the “Butcher of Tehran”. – Iran International

Two months into its membership in NATO, Sweden is retooling its defense after 200 years of military neutrality. Not since Napoleon’s 1812 campaign in Russia has Sweden formally allied militarily with another country, Minister of Defense Pål Jonson told reporters earlier this month. – USNI News

Andrew Day writes: Of course, the United States wouldn’t take kindly to a European vassal asserting control over the Ukraine crisis, but breaking the vassalage would be precisely the point for Macron. And if Europe, Ukraine, and Russia all agreed to end the fighting and pursue the modus vivendi described above, there would be overwhelming pressure on Washington to step aside and give peace a chance. The brutal, destructive war would finally end, and the sovereign Europe that Macron dreams about would be a few steps closer to reality. – The National Interest 

Africa

As South Africans head into national elections Wednesday, the country’s politics have been rocked by an epidemic of assassinations, including 40 recorded since the start of last year. While they have largely targeted local officials, politicians and activists, the killings appear set to impact the outcome of the national vote. – Washington Post

Sudan’s army said it’s poised to get weapons from Russia in return for letting Moscow establish a military fueling station on the Red Sea coast, a blow for the US as its opponents gain influence in the African country torn apart by civil war. – Bloomberg

Nigeria’s government is cracking down on illegal mining, making dozens of arrests of unlicensed miners since April for allegedly stealing the country’s lithium, a critical mineral used in batteries for electric vehicles, smartphones and power systems. – Associated Press

More than two weeks of fighting between Sudan’s military and a notorious paramilitary group over a major city in the western Darfur region killed at least 123 people, an international aid group said Sunday. – Associated Press

The military leader of Burkina Faso will remain in office for another five years following the signing of a new charter after national consultations in the capital on Saturday. – Associated Press

Editorial: The Democratic Alliance fears that if it enters a coalition with the ANC, it will be made a scapegoat for the policy failures of the past. […]The alternative is an ANC coalition with leftists, including the Marxist and anti-Western Economic Freedom Fighters party that is polling at about 10%. This combination could be an economic catastrophe for South Africa, and it would create new opportunities for Russia and China to expand their influence on the continent. The election Wednesday probably won’t produce the sweeping reforms South Africa needs, but voters have a chance to do at least some damage control. – Wall Street Journal 

William Shoki writes: Fed up by the government’s failure to improve their lives, many have simply given up on politics. This process of disengagement — manifest in declining participation in trade unions, civic associations and political parties — is hard to square with the images of the multiracial, multiethnic, cross-class movement against apartheid that led the world to believe South Africans were uniquely endowed with high levels of social consciousness and good will. As that national story loses coherence, the country is reinventing itself. – New York Times

The Americas

Sheinbaum, 61, is poised to make history as Mexico’s first female president and first Jewish head of state. Polls a week before Mexico’s election show her enjoying a wide lead over the next candidate, the conservative entrepreneur Xóchitl Gálvez. – Washington Post

Haiti’s bleak humanitarian situation is once again in the spotlight after gangs on Thursday attacked an Oklahoma-based missionary group working in the capital, Port-au-Prince, killing two Americans and the Haitian director of the organization, Missions in Haiti. – New York Times

Across Mexico, dozens of candidates, their relatives and party members have been targeted in violent attacks ahead of next month’s general election, which will be the country’s largest election ever in terms of voters and seats. At least 36 people seeking office have been killed since last June, a New York Times analysis found. – New York Times

Former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe was charged Friday in a long-running witness tampering investigation. – Associated Press

Canada said on Monday it will issue visas to 5,000 Gazans, more than it originally pledged, and said it was “horrified” by an Israeli airstrike in Rafah that triggered a blaze causing 45 deaths. – Reuters

Shannon K. O’Neil writes: As the United States expands its agenda with Mexico, it is also time to change diplomatic tactics. Confidential conversations remain helpful when addressing difficult issues. But public disagreements are useful, too, setting guardrails on issues that matter to Washington, including the unequal treatment of companies, unfulfilled climate change pledges, corruption, and state-sponsored political persecution south of the border. – Foreign Affairs

Zac Morgan writes: The Commission’s final report will hopefully shed further light on these whisps of intelligence and provide useful, concrete steps that Canada and other Western liberal democracies can utilize to stave off future Chinese-backed election-targeted political warfare. With every member of the Five Eyes community scheduled to have an election over the next two years, we need all the advice and best practices on offer. One messy public inquiry into Beijing’s election operations is already too many. Let’s avoid an American adaptation of this particular Canadian show. – The National Interest

United States

The United States, which prides itself as a global leader on human rights and international law, was conspicuously silent Friday after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to comply with its “obligations” under the Genocide Convention and “immediately halt its offensive” in Rafah. – Washington Post

Part of the support system for a floating pier built by the U.S. to boost humanitarian aid to Palestinians broke off Saturday morning in choppy waters off the Gaza coast, the U.S. military said. – Wall Street Journal

Nearly a month after counterprotesters attacked a pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles, police have made their first arrest, detaining an 18-year-old who is not a student or affiliated with the school in any way, officials said Friday. – Associated Press

A former CIA officer and contract linguist for the FBI accused of spying for China for at least a decade pleaded guilty Friday in a federal courtroom in Honolulu. – Associated Press

A top assassin for the Sinaloa drug cartel who was arrested by Mexican authorities last fall has been extradited to the U.S. to face drug, gun and witness retaliation charges, the Justice Department said Saturday. – Associated Press

Touring communities affected by the October 7 massacre on Monday, former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blamed Iran, Russia and China for the devastation wrought by Hamas. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Northwestern’s agreement to appease the protesters has also landed the school in legal trouble. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has filed a complaint against Northwestern on the basis that its scholarships and professorships for Palestinians violate Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination “on the grounds of race, color, or national origin.” Northwestern says it is reviewing its code of conduct, but a code is irrelevant if university leaders lack the courage to enforce it. – Wall Street Journal

Marc Thiessen writes: “Karim Khan might find himself in an American prosecutor’s crosshairs come next year when there’s a new attorney general that actually puts American interests first,” Cotton told me. “If he thinks that it’s all fun and games to slap an arrest warrant on Benjamin Netanyahu so he can’t travel internationally, maybe he should get a taste of his own medicine.” – Washington Post

Seth Mandel writes: Meanwhile, the president is emboldening Iran for the same reason, despite the fact that Iran is the engine behind a Middle East war (those things can be pretty volatile too, Mr. President!) and has recently murdered U.S. troops in the region. None of that stops to wait until after election season. Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election will take office not in May of 2024 but in January of 2025, when all these trends will have worsened. The presidency has no pause button. Biden must remember that there are worse things to fear than losing an election. – Commentary 

Cybersecurity

China raised about $48 billion in its third installment of a national semiconductor fund, aiming to increase its chip-making capabilities in the face of an escalating technology competition with the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

An aggressive, nebulous ring of young cybercriminals linked to a string of recent high-profile breaches is made up of approximately 1,000 people, a senior FBI official said Friday. – CyberScoop

Europe’s leading research universities should work more closely with the continent’s intelligence agencies to help secure their research from being stolen by hostile states, EU member states recommended this week. – The Record

Officials in New York’s state capital region said they are investigating a cyberattack ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. – The Record

Catholic hospital network Ascension said it expects to make progress in recovering from a ransomware attack by the end of the Memorial Day weekend. The nonprofit’s more than 140 hospitals and senior care centers have struggled to distribute medication, handle test results and intake emergency cases for more than two weeks following a devastating cyberattack by the Black Basta ransomware gang. – The Record

Luke Hogg and Jeffrey Westling write: National security agencies and experts must reframe their calculus around spectrum policy and give more value to the commercial deployment of wireless technologies. If federal incumbents are willing to put aside interagency territoriality, and experts are willing to think beyond worst-case interference analysis, the United States can begin to regain the lead in wireless technologies. – The National Interest

Defense

In space warfare, the U.S. military is seeking the ultimate high ground. The satellites central to national defense and global communications have long faced threats from the ground, such as signal jamming and missile attacks. Orbital menaces are the next frontier. – Wall Street Journal

The Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency has chosen six companies to move forward on an experimental, low-weight drone that can take off and land vertically from a ship. The companies DARPA selected for its ANCILLARY program — also known as the Advanced Aircraft Infrastructure-Less Launch and Recovery program — include a mix of major defense contractors and smaller aeronautics companies. – Defense News

The questions on how to modify Virginia-class attack submarines to install nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles and how much the changeover would cost are not easily answered, the Navy’s director of strategic systems programs told a key Senate panel this week. – USNI News

A tool developed by Army Cyber Command is now serving as the Department of Defense’s solution to fulfill a key directive in President Joe Biden’s watershed artificial intelligence executive order. – DefenseScoop