Fdd's overnight brief

May 30, 2023

In The News


Belgium freed an Iranian diplomat convicted of a Paris bomb plot in exchange for a Belgian aid worker detained in Tehran, a high-profile deal that opens a new chapter in prisoner swaps between the West and the Islamic Republic. – Wall Street Journal

At least three people were killed and several others injured after clashes broke out along the Iranian-Afghan border on Saturday night, according to Iranian state media and an Afghan official, escalating tensions between the two countries amid a heated dispute over water rights in recent weeks. – New York Times

OPEC will welcome Iran’s full return to the oil market when sanctions are lifted, the secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) told the Iranian oil ministry’s website SHANA on Monday. – Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has put forward a bill that would see Ukraine impose sanctions on Russian ally Iran for 50 years, Zelenskiy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Sunday, a response to what Kyiv says is Tehran’s weapons supplies to Moscow. – Reuters

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told the secretary general of OPEC on Saturday that he hopes oil producers can calm down the market, calling for the unity of OPEC members, Iranian media reported. – Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has resolved nuclear issues with Iran relating to one of three sites being investigated over the presence of uranium particles, Iranian media reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

Tehran on Saturday accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of anti-Iranian propaganda in his call for Iran to halt the supply of drones to Russia, saying his comments were designed to attract more arms and financial aid from the West. – Reuters

Fourteen members of a “terrorist team” linked to Israel have been arrested in northwestern Iran, an official from Iran’s Judiciary said on Monday according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. – Reuters

Iran on Monday held the first trial session for one of the two detained female journalists who reported on Mahsa Amini’s death in custody last year, her lawyer said. – Agence France-Presse

A leading member of one of Iran’s legal associations says more than 100 lawyers from across the country have been summoned to Tehran’s security court, even though there is no mention of any charges against them. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The authorities in Iran have drafted a new bill that would impose stiffer penalties against women who violate the Islamic dress code, including fines, imprisonment, and even the deprivation of rights. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

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

Talks between Iran and the US on the release of Tehran’s frozen assets could result in a deal soon, a source with direct knowledge of the talks told Iran International. – Arutz Sheva

Iran’s decision to test-fire a new long-range missile has raised eyebrows around the Middle East and in the West as it seeks to produce  weapons that can carry out precision strikes and also evade radar while achieving high speeds during their flight to target. – Jerusalem Post

Iranian media highlighted its use of drones in anti-submarine warfare over the weekend. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran is focused on what US officials such as William Burns, Antony Blinken and Jake Sullivan have said. Iran has also focused on Ukrainian statements, alleging Ukraine has excused attacks on Iran’s Ministry of Defense complex in Isfahan, claiming these “statements and actions are irresponsible and a clear violation of international laws and the principles contained in the charter of the United Nations. […]Iran is obviously concerned about what western media and officials, including the UK, France and other officials are saying about Iran’s movement of weapons to Russia. – Jerusalem Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: Shamkhani approved the nuclear deal at the time, but several years later attacked it, and has lately resumed explaining why Iran needs it “provided it doesn’t harm its interests.” Should Iran decide to resume negotiations, one may assume that Shamkhani will be around to advance the move, particularly in light of domestic criticism of the failures of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in relieving Iran’s burden of sanctions. – Haaretz

Kamran Bokhari writes: As its religious influence continues to wane, the regime will try to use Iranian nationalism as a means of maintaining unity among the masses. This will not work—only about half of the country is ethnically Persian. Iran’s rulers will have to forge a new social contract with the country’s minorities, especially the ethnic Azerbaijanis—or face dire consequences to national coherence. – The National Interest

Russia & Ukraine

A cruise missile launched during a Russian barrage of Ukraine crossed into Poland last December then slammed into a patch of forest about 10 miles from a NATO training center, exposing challenges to defending the alliance’s airspace, according to Western officials. – Wall Street Journal

Russian forces have succeeded in taking control of the small eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Their costly 10-month assault has left them exhausted and hemmed in with little chance of advancing. – Wall Street Journal

Parishioners have denounced Russian priests who advocated peace instead of victory in the war on Ukraine. Teachers lost their jobs after children tattled that they opposed the war. Neighbors who bore some trivial grudge for years have snitched on longtime foes. Workers rat on one another to their bosses or directly to the police or the FSB, the Federal Security Service. – Washington Post

Russia unleashed another wave of attacks early Tuesday on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, killing at least one and prompting evacuations, extending a day of terror for the city’s residents that started with midday strikes. – New York Times

Sipping a $12 beer in one of the world’s wealthiest capitals, Andrei Medvedev reflected on the question hanging over him since he left the battlefields of Ukraine: Is he a hero or a war criminal? – New York Times

Pro-Ukrainian fighters stormed across the border into southwestern Russia this past week, prompting two days of the heaviest fighting on Russian territory in 15 months of war. Yet President Vladimir V. Putin, in public, ignored the matter entirely. – New York Times

Ukraine’s top military commander signaled on Saturday morning that the nation’s forces were ready to launch their long-anticipated counteroffensive following months of preparations, including recently stepped-up attacks on logistical targets as well as feints and disinformation intended to keep Russian forces on edge. – New York Times

Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter jailed in Russia on espionage charges, has appealed a court decision earlier this week that extended his detention by more than three months, The Journal confirmed on Friday. – New York Times

A group of fighters aligned with Ukraine, who had participated earlier this week in the most intense fighting inside Russia’s borders since the invasion, gathered the foreign and local press in an undisclosed location on Wednesday to celebrate, to taunt the Kremlin and to show off what they called “military trophies” from their incursion into their native land: Russia. – New York Times

Public sentiment in Russia over war casualties has been turning more negative during the intense fighting in recent months in eastern Ukraine, according to a new analysis. – New York Times

Though peace seems distant, the United States and Europe are debating how to guarantee Ukraine’s security once the fighting with Russia stops, even without a total victory by either side. West Germany may provide a model, a precedent for admitting a divided country into NATO. – New York Times

Russian forces intercepted two long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles supplied to Ukraine by Britain, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday. – Reuters

An explosion in Russia’s Pskov region near the border with Belarus left an oil pipeline’s administrative building damaged, local Governor Mikhail Vedernikov said on Telegram on Saturday. – Reuters

Russia on Saturday dismissed criticism from U.S. President Joe Biden over Moscow’s plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, saying Washington had for decades deployed just such nuclear weapons in Europe. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordered stronger border security to ensure “fast” Russian military and civilian movement into Ukrainian regions now under Moscow control. – Reuters

Russia warned the West on Monday that a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported from the Black Sea would cease unless a United Nations agreement aimed at overcoming obstacles to Russian grain and fertiliser exports was fulfilled. – Reuters

Hundreds of German government employees based in Russia, among them diplomats, teachers and personnel of cultural institutions, will have to leave the country next month after Moscow imposed a cap on foreign staff, Germany’s foreign ministry said. – Bloomberg

Russia’s Interior Ministry has issued an arrest warrant for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) after he praised U.S. military aid to Ukraine as “the best money we’ve ever spent.” – The Hill

Aerial footage appears to show Russian Su-34 Fullback jets dropping bombs from a low level within the Russian Federation on the border of Ukraine earlier this week, says a report. – Business Insider

Editorial: That means the burden is on the West to formulate plans for a long-term struggle. Arms supplies, procurement systems and defense budgets will need to reflect that commitment. Kyiv’s forces will need more cruise missiles from its Western allies, more ammunition, more air defense systems, more tanks, more armored vehicles. Ukraine’s fight is for core Western values — the right to join the family of democratic, pluralistic and tolerant nations, no matter how anathema that is to a retrograde dictator bent on conquest. – Washington Post

Walter Russell Mead writes: Helping Ukraine is not a charity project to be undertaken out of sentiment. Nor is it a strategic distraction that weakens our hand in the Indo-Pacific. In his blindness and folly, Vladimir Putin has handed the U.S. a golden opportunity. We should seize it with both hands. – Wall Street Journal

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: Which brings us to where we started. The right way to report the new Russian sanctions list would have been to be upfront with readers and viewers about the Kremlin’s desire to inflame again the collusion controversy, to keep Americans divided and distrustful of each other and their institutions. But of course this might have opened the question of the press’s “collusion” with Russia in whipping up the collusion hoax in the first place. – Wall Street Journal

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Simply calling for negotiations isn’t enough. Indeed, given Putin’s blindness to Ukraine’s existence, simply calling for negotiations is the ethical equivalent of accepting Putin’s definition of reality and calling for Ukraine to cease to exist. – The Hill

Richard Kraemer writes: Whether loudly or softly, signaling approval of Putin’s alleged social conservatism does not protect Americans or our interests, nor our allies’. What doesserve our interests is giving Ukrainians what it takes to win the war for us all. – The Hill


Israeli forces killed a Palestinian security officer during clashes in the occupied West Bank flashpoint city of Jenin on Monday, the Palestinian Fatah faction said in a statement. – Reuters

Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank said Monday they erected a religious school in a dismantled outpost after Israel’s government lifted a ban on settlements in several evacuated areas in the northern part of the territory. – Associated Press

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered on Saturday for the relentless weekly protests against their government’s plans to overhaul the legal system. – Associated Press

A Palestinian man was shot and killed on Friday in the occupied West Bank after sneaking into a Jewish settlement and trying to stab a resident there, the Israeli army said. – Associated Press

Oil and gas company Chevron is “positive” about an Israeli-Cypriot plan for a pipeline that would convey offshore natural gas from both countries to Cyprus where it would be liquefied for export by ship to Europe and elsewhere, an official said Friday. – Associated Press

Israel fears that a growing anti-Israel alliance in the Middle East is now strong enough to spark an outbreak of war in the region. – The Daily Beast

Former US diplomat Henry Kissinger denied deliberately delaying airlifts of weapons to replenish Israel’s depleted supplies during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, saying it was in fact due to logistical problems and the fact that Washington initially thought Israel was already winning. – Times of Israel

The Israeli military early Tuesday morning made preparations for the demolition of the homes of a Palestinian terrorist who carried out a deadly shooting attack on the Dee family in the West Bank in April, and a suspect accused of directing the killing of a soldier last year. – Times of Israel

A military ambulance was targeted in a shooting attack near the southern West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba late Monday night, the Israel Defense Forces said. – Times of Israel

The US State Department on Monday slammed Israel for allowing the construction of a new yeshiva building overnight in the illegal West Bank outpost of Homesh. – Times of Israel

President Isaac Herzog will fly to Azerbaijan on Tuesday, the latest step in an ongoing and very public expansion of bilateral ties. – Times of Israel

Leaked documents indicate that the Israeli Navy was forced to purchase substandard periscopes for its new submarines from a US company due to the Israeli desire to make use of American military aid money, when more suitable products were available from a German competitor. – Times of Israel

A German manufacturer of defense equipment suspects that an Israeli company known as BIRD Aerosystems paid a bribe as part of an arms deal in Africa. – Times of Israel

The US State Department on Friday expressed alarm over a “rising trend of extremist settler violence,” while also condemning a recent attempt by a Palestinian to stab an Israeli settler in the southern West Bank. – Times of Israel

A 9-year-old Israeli girl was wounded Friday evening after being struck by a bullet in the West Bank settlement of Kochav Yaakov, according to the military and medics. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to shelve the Nonprofits legislation, which aims to limit the aid foreign governments and bodies provide to Palestinian Authority Arabs, following increasing international pressure. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: Israel, too, has economic and strategic interests in continuing its rapprochement with Erdogan. In so doing, however, it must not sacrifice the strategic relationships it has developed with Cyprus and Greece. Furthermore, in dealing with Erdogan, Jerusalem needs to always keep in mind the Talmudic dictum kabdehu v’chashdehu (respect him and suspect him). – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: It is far from clear whether the Homesh move will have wider repercussions, but Gallant at least thinks he can come out of the episode with his positive personal relations with US officials intact. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: For now, the general trend toward diplomacy in the region mitigates against a downturn in ties. There is not much wind in the sails of any public upturn in ties either, however, because neither Netanyahu nor Erdogan is likely to benefit from any kind of public embrace. – Jerusalem Post

Jodie Cohen writes: There are obviously a lot more geopolitical considerations when it comes to peace-building with Israel than environmental factors – relations with the US, Palestinians, Iran and domestic opinion being just some factors involved. However, it is interesting that as governments set out their visions for a better future, climate collaboration is playing a part in strengthening ties. As the example of the Abraham Accords in particular demonstrates, peace is slowly being built, one energy, water and agritech project at a time. – Jerusalem Post


Amid recent security tensions in the north, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah spoke on Thursday night for the “Day of Resistance,” where he marked 23 years since the IDF left Lebanon, and responded to statements made by the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate Aharon Haliva. – Jerusalem Post

A controversy in Lebanon broke out over the weekend after some Christian clergy were seen visiting a site that is known as a Lebanese Hezbollah tourist attraction called the “Tourist Landmark of the Resistance,” which is located near the village of Mleeta in Lebanon. The attraction was opened in 2010 and is used by Hezbollah to spread propaganda about its “resistance” against Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: As well as he thinks that he understands Israelis and as much as he thought that maybe the IDF would really crack over the judicial overhaul debate, he quickly saw the IDF’s potential ferocity unleashed on six top Islamic Jihad leaders from May 9-13. So Nasrallah is gambling against Israel more than usual in the current climate, but he still may be far away from risking war. – Jerusalem Post

Adnan Nasser writes: What is required now is for a new leader to put the question of Hezbollah’s arms on the table for discussion. This is why Parliament needs to resume its role by becoming the legal representation of the people’s will and electing a new president. But when that will happen is anybody’s guess. – The National Interest


Ms. Hassani, 24, served in the Afghan National Army’s Female Tactical Platoon, a squad of all women that accompanied U.S. Special Operations troops on missions seeking out high-level Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS targets. As the Taliban took over two summers ago, Ms. Hassani faced a decision: live under a repressive government as a woman who worked alongside the U.S. Army, or flee her home country for the United States. – New York Times

Gold Star families of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a terrorist attack during the chaotic withdrawal of Afghanistan have used Memorial Day to call for the Biden administration to be held accountable. – Washington Examiner

In 2010, two Afghan sisters rebelled against their family’s wishes and their country’s traditions by not only singing, but singing in public, even posting videos of their music online. Singing and dancing are largely taboo in Afghanistan’s deeply conservative society, for men and women. The pair were reprimanded lightly by a local court, but it didn’t stop them. – CBS News

Beth Bailey writes: Westerners supporting recognition of the Taliban today exhibit the same baseless hopes about Taliban rationality that motivated the U.S. to pursue negotiations in 2013. For the Afghans living in hell on earth under their rule, we must take recognition of the Taliban off the table. – Washington Examiner


For Syrians, the election and the anti-migrant turn in Turkish politics have cast new uncertainty over their future, causing many to wonder if they will have to start again having already fled a deadly war in their homeland. – Reuters

Airstrikes attributed to Israel targeted Syria’s capital city late Sunday, the first such strikes in nearly a month, Syrian state media reported. – Associated Press

Iran wants to boost Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military by upgrading the country’s air-defense system, the Fars news agency reported on May 29. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Reja Netjes writes: While the United States allocates money to the SDF, the conscription policies of the area—on top of still critical economic struggles and U.S. restrictions on funding into Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad—are helping to drive these immigration patterns. Until these dynamics are addressed, the flow of Syrian migrants is likely to continue through the M4 highway and into Europe. – Washington Institute


After seeing off his biggest election challenge, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is turning his attention to fixing Turkey’s place on the map as an aspiring global power. – Wall Street Journal

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, invoking themes of Turkish nationalism and counterterrorism, has been the main obstacle toward Sweden joining the NATO alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – New York Times

After failing to seize the moment to defeat President Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s elections, Kemal Kilicdaroglu faces questions about his leadership and the challenge of preserving a bitter opposition alliance ahead of local voting in March 2024. – Reuters

The foreign ministers of Sweden and Turkey will meet “soon” to discuss Stockholm’s delayed bid to join NATO, the Swedish foreign ministry said on Monday. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a call on Monday repeated Ankara’s desire to buy F-16 fighter jets from the United States, while Biden told him Washington wanted Ankara to drop its objection to Sweden’s joining NATO. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his “dear friend” Tayyip Erdogan who claimed victory in Turkey’s presidential election on Sunday, saying the win was evidence the Turkish people appreciated Erdogan’s independent foreign policy. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised a team with “international credibility” to manage the nation’s finances. Given his influence over everything from interest rates to infrastructure, how much credibility remains is unclear as market pressure builds. – Bloomberg

Official sources in Jerusalem estimate that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to continue his rapprochement with Israel after he won the presidential elections on Sunday. – Haaretz

Editorial: The Turkish President has maintained friendly ties with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and he plays West and East against each other. Mr. Erdoğan knows NATO views him as a difficult partner but fears a Turkey aligned with Russia and China. Sunday’s election means five more years of a difficult transactional relationship with Turkey, but that’s what the new age of global disorder requires. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: More broadly, now that the election has passed, Erdogan should have less need to use the US and EU as foils. A change in tone, and a focus on areas of potential cooperation — from negotiating an end to the Ukraine war to defense production and joint development projects in Africa — would stabilize relations and burnish Erdogan’s credentials as a statesman. That would be good for his legacy and even better for Turks — the many who voted for him, and the millions who did not. – Bloomberg

Asli Aydintasbas writes: Over the weekend, Turkish star Merve Dizdar was awarded best actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in the film “About Dry Grasses.” She dedicated her prize “to all the rebellious souls in Turkey waiting to live the good days that they deserve.” The election results tell us that their dreams can be postponed but cannot be quashed. – Washington Post

Anthony Grant writes: In the short run, probably not. Following some much appreciated Greek assistance for Turkey after a devastating earthquake last February — after which some Turkish newspapers even ran headlines in Greek to thank Athens for its support — Greco-Turkish relations  improved almost overnight. In terms of those lingering maritime territorial disputes, the Mediterranean became almost pacific. Those tranquil currents will likely persist for a couple of months, but after all the election fanfare fizzles out there is no guarantee of calm after that. – New York Sun

Benny Avni writes: Never a charismatic campaigner to begin with, Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu has drifted aimlessly in the last 10 days. At the same time Mr. Erdogan’s hardcore supporters never deserted him despite the economic hardships, and are now as enthusiastic as ever. Disappointed Turks and their American and European supporters are bracing themselves for a presidency for life — unless a further economic nosedive abruptly forces out Mr. Erdogan. – New York Sun


Amin Salah used to grow wheat near the banks of Iraq’s Euphrates River, but persistent droughts have led him to switch to farming unlikely new grounds deep in the harsh desert of Najaf. – Reuters

An electricity grid interconnection between Jordan and Iraq will begin supplies to Iraq on July 1, an Iraqi official was quoted as saying on Saturday. – Reuters

Iran’s foreign minister told his Iraqi counterpart on Friday that a reduction in gas exports to Iraq was a technical matter and Tehran had not decided on any cuts, an Iraqi foreign ministry statement said, as the two countries try to resolve Baghdad’s huge unpaid bills. – Reuters

Iraq is pitching a $17 billion network of roads and railways it says will help the region transport energy resources, goods and passengers, government spokesman Basim Al-Awadi told reporters in Baghdad. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The natural choice for Iraq would be to use the Rabiah crossing north of Sinjar to go through Syria. This is an old crossing that has been closed – at first, due to the war on ISIS and then due to disputes between authorities on both sides. There is a train station in Rabiah. It is ripe for investment, if anyone will invest and if the local authorities can sort things out. A working electric grid would need to be one of the basic things needed for returning investment in these areas. – Jerusalem Post

Hamdi Malik writes: In our view, the balance of evidence currently available suggests that numerous recent communications by AK – including threats against U.S. helicopters and retrospective claims to have killed Americans – seem to have an ulterior motive. AK is probably not actually ramping up a powerful kinetic campaign against the residual U.S. presence in Iraq but is instead using the imagery of real resistance actions in the past to strengthen its current brand, despite the lack of contemporary armed resistance to the U.S. presence in Iraq. – Washington Institute


Lebanon will work over the next year to address deficiencies in policing corruption identified by a financial crime watchdog, the country’s financial intelligence unit said on Friday. – Reuters

Once celebrated as a financial wizard, Lebanese central bank governor Riad Salameh is spending his final weeks in office a wanted man, faced with French and German arrest warrants that have been prompted by long-running corruption probes. – Reuters

The United Nations has delayed a decision to give Syrian refugees in Lebanon cash help partly in U.S. dollars after objections from senior Lebanese officials that this could exacerbate tensions with hard-pressed locals. – Reuters

Assailants kidnapped a Saudi Arabian citizen in Beirut but the motive behind the abduction was not immediately clear, Lebanon’s interior minister and security officials said Monday. – Associated Press

A group of Lebanese citizens detained in the United Arab Emirates have been released, Lebanon’s foreign ministry said Saturday. – Associated Press

Lebanon’s Sursock Museum has reopened to the public, three years after a deadly explosion in Beirut’s port — set off by tons of improperly stored chemicals — reduced many of its treasured paintings and collections to ashes. – Associated Press

The United Nations announced Saturday that it will suspend a plan to begin making aid payments to Syrian refugees in crisis-wracked Lebanon in dollars, after pushback from Lebanese officials. – Associated Press

The World Bank approved a $300 million additional financing to Lebanon’s poor, providing cash payments to help families struggling through the country’s historic economic meltdown, the institution said in a statement Friday. – Associated Press


Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed on “the immediate start of upgrading diplomatic relations, exchanging ambassadors,” Egypt’s presidency said in a statement on Monday. – Reuters

Iran’s supreme leader said Monday he’d “welcome” the restoration of full diplomatic ties between Egypt and the Islamic Republic, raising the prospect of Cairo and Tehran normalizing relations after decades of strain. – Associated Press

The Defense Ministry on Sunday launched a website hosting dozens of newly declassified documents, images, videos and other files from the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in honor of the conflict’s 50th anniversary later this year. – Times of Israel

Arabian Peninsula

Kuwait has suspended all new visas for Philippine nationals indefinitely, the interior ministry confirmed this week, in an escalation of a row between the oil-rich Gulf state and Manila over worker protections and employer rights. – Reuters

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani congratulated Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan on his presidential win on Sunday, before the final results of the Turkish election was announced. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates unveiled plans Monday to send a spaceship to explore the solar system’s main asteroid belt, the latest space project by the oil-rich nation after it launched the successful Hope spacecraft to Mars in 2020. – Associated Press

Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, whose Gulf country has been a long-time mediator between Iran and the West, arrived in Tehran on Sunday for a two-day visit. – Agence France-Presse

Simon Henderson writes: The ultimate test may be whether oil market traders are prepared to call Prince Abdulaziz’s bluff, short-selling oil (meaning they bet that the price will fall). Who will be “ouching” if they make the correct bet? At least for those who follow this level of market detail, the next week looks like it will be, as they say, very interesting. For the rest of us, enjoy the holiday weekend (which will not be a holiday for the markets in the rest of the world). – The Messenger


Yemeni artist Alaa Rubil uses the shell-pocked buildings of his hometown as canvas, painting images of death and despair to shine a light on the horrors and victims of war. – Agence France-Presse

The Islamic Republic of Iran proxy movement, the Houthis, on Thursday violently stormed a peaceful gathering of the persecuted religious minority community, Yemeni Baha’is, in the war-ravaged Arab county. – Jerusalem Post

“The United Nations and its partners made strides in rolling back the worst food insecurity last year, but these gains remain fragile, and 17 million people are still food insecure in Yemen,” said David Gressly, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the country. – UN News

Saudi Arabia

Tensions are rising between Saudi Arabia and Russia as Moscow keeps pumping huge volumes of cheaper crude into the market that is undermining Riyadh’s efforts to bolster energy prices, people familiar with the matter say. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia asked its diplomatic staff in Lebanon to stay home after a Saudi national was abducted in Beirut on Sunday, Saudi media reported on Monday. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia said it executed two Bahraini men on Monday after being convicted of belonging to a militant group wanting to destabilize the two Mideast kingdoms. Amnesty International and other rights groups have criticized their trial as being grossly unfair. – Associated Press

The New Development Bank, the Shanghai-based lender better known as the “Brics bank”, is in talks with Saudi Arabia on admitting the country as its ninth member, a move that would strengthen its funding options as founding shareholder Russia struggles under the impact of sanctions. – Financial Times

The Saudis’ deal with Iran will not block potential Israeli normalization with Riyadh, former Mossad director Yossi Cohen said Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Israel is hopeful that it will be able to arrange direct flights from Israel to Saudi Arabia for the Haj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, this year, in a further step towards normalization. – Jerusalem Post

Mohammad Salami writes: The 32nd Arab League summit was bin Salman’s attempt to prove that Riyadh is the main driver of peacemaking in the Arab realm. His joint invitation to the presidents of Ukraine and Syria sent separate messages to launch a balanced and new regional foreign policy of Saudi Arabia. – The Hill

David Bedein writes: Saudi normalization in the context of peace would necessitate the presentation of maps in all schools which would depict all UN members of good standing, including Israel. […]Normalization for peace is not on the agenda of Saudi Arabia, whose genocidal war launched at the dawn of Israel in 1948 continues to this day. – Arutz Sheva


A group of non-governmental organizations dedicated to rescuing migrants in the central Mediterranean is accusing the European island nation of Malta of coordinating the return of around 500 people to Libya where they were subsequently imprisoned, in violation of international maritime law. – Associated Press

A Libyan court on Monday condemned to death 35 jihadists convicted of fighting with the Islamic State group in the north African country during chaos that followed dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s fall, AFP journalists in the court said. – Agence France-Presse

Drone strikes in Libya killed at least two people and wounded others, including an MP’s nephew, the lawmaker said, days after accusing the Tripoli-based government of targeting his home. – Agence France-Presse

Gunshots rang out in Libya’s capital on Monday following hours of fighting between two armed groups both aligned with the divided country’s UN-backed government, local medics and media reported. – Agence France-Presse

Libya’s Tripoli-based government on Saturday carried out a fresh round of drone strikes in Zawiya, in the country’s west, as part of an operation against smuggling networks, local media reported. – Agence France-Presse

Middle East & North Africa

Jill Biden will promote empowerment for women and young people, and attend Jordan’s royal wedding, during an upcoming trip to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. – Associated Press

Transportation Minister Miri Regev on Monday signed three transportation deals to facilitate exchanges between Israel and Morocco while on a visit to the North African country. – Agence France-Presse

The Palestinian ruling Fatah faction has sought to downplay the significance of Hamas’s recent victory in student council elections at two universities in the West Bank, saying this does not necessarily reflect the attitude of most Palestinians. – Jerusalem Post

Children at a Gazan preschool recently performed a mock liberation of Palestine at their graduation ceremony, footage showed. – Times of Israel

Eric R. Mandel writes: American foreign policy interests are best served in the Middle East when stability increases. One path is new Israeli-Arab economic agreements under the leadership of America. But for Arab nations to “save face,” they may need to be outside the Abraham Accords’ umbrella. – The Hil

Korean Peninsula

China and South Korea have agreed to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on semiconductor industry supply chains, amid broader global concerns over chip supplies, sanctions and national security, China’s commerce minister said. – Reuters

North Korea’s ruling party will hold a key meeting in early June to review the country’s economic plans, state media KCNA reported on Monday. – Reuters

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol hosted the country’s first summit with leaders of Pacific islands on Monday, as Seoul seeks to boost its influence in a region that has become the focus of intense geopolitical rivalry. – Reuters

For North Koreans, the country’s northern frontier long offered rare access to outside information, trade opportunities, and the best option for those seeking to flee. – Reuters

South Korea and Australia’s defence chiefs agreed on Tuesday to step up defence cooperation, South Korea’s defence ministry said. – Reuters

Ukraine “desperately hopes” that South Korea will provide defensive military equipment such as anti-aircraft systems to fend off Russian attacks, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was cited as saying in an interview with a South Korean newspaper. – Reuters

North Korea said Tuesday it would launch its first military spy satellite in June and described space-based reconnaissance as crucial for monitoring the United States’ “reckless” military exercises with South Korea. – Associated Press

Japan and South Korea called on North Korea to abandon a planned rocket launch they see as breaching United Nations Security Council resolutions, following reports Pyongyang intends to put a satellite into orbit as early as this Wednesday. – Bloomberg

Naver, South Korea’s dominant internet search engine, is set to offer tailored versions of its latest ChatGPT-like artificial intelligence model to foreign governments concerned about US data controls. – Financial Times

A two-year-old along with his entire family were sentenced to political life imprisonment after North Korean officials found a Bible in their possession, the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report 2022 found, documenting the regime’s crackdown on people having religious beliefs. – Fox News

Chun Su-jin writes: The photographs of Ju-ae reinforce what we already know about North Korea and also tell us more. She is just the latest in a line of elite females to be idolized and propagandized. In February the regime printed Ju-ae’s picture on five new postage stamps. We can only guess at the sincerity of Kim Jong-un putting all eyes on his daughter. – New York Times

Peter Huessy writes: The counter and non-proliferation efforts of the United States and its allies have successfully prevented what Israeli ambassador to the United States Dori Gold once predicted might be a cascade of new nuclear weapons states if not just North Korea but Iran also went nuclear. While Washington and its allies were successful in ending an actual nuclear weapons program in South Africa, and nascent programs in Iraq (1991) and Libya, (2006) as well as in Brazil and Argentina decades ago, North Korean proliferation remains, as well as potentially Iran. To bring those programs under control and eventual termination will require a hard-headed analysis of their origin and purpose. It is here that the notion that China is an innocent party leads us down the wrong road and toward possible catastrophe. – The National Interest


China has rebuffed a U.S. request for a meeting between their defense chiefs on the sidelines of an annual security forum in Singapore this weekend, the Pentagon said Monday, showing the limits of a tentative rapprochement between the two rival powers. – Wall Street Journal

Amnesty International said it was trying to confirm the whereabouts of a Uyghur scholar it said had gone missing in Hong Kong after the government denied he entered the city and reports emerged on Monday that the man remained in South Korea. – Wall Street Journal

China sent another three astronauts into space — including the first civilian — on Tuesday morning, a day after announcing plans to land astronauts on the moon before 2030 and setting up a new sphere of rivalry with the United States. – Washington Post

Residents of a majority-Muslim town in southwestern China clashed with police over the weekend as they tried to stop the demolition of a domed roof from a centuries-old mosque, part of the Chinese Communist Party’s expanding effort to control religion. – Washington Post

Chinese and Russian leaders this week pledged to expand economic cooperation in everything from sports to agriculture and predicted that trade between the two countries would hit a record high this year as Sino-Russian ties are elevated to yet a “higher level.” – Washington Post

China will make concrete efforts for a political solution to the Ukraine crisis, the Chinese foreign ministry quoted special envoy Li Hui as saying on Saturday. – Reuters

Good relations with China are possible even without being part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in an interview published on Sunday, as her government weighs abandoning the project. – Reuters

The United States is taking an analytical approach to its review of whether to keep tariffs on Chinese goods in place and will not base outcomes on any “breakthrough” in U.S.-China trade relations, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi told Reuters. – Reuters

U.S. authorities have arrested two suspected Chinese government agents in connection with an alleged plot by Beijing to disrupt and ultimately topple the exiled anti-communist Falun Gong spiritual movement. – Associated Press

China said it took action on more than 1 million social media posts and accounts in its latest campaign to moderate online content that it regards as malicious. – Bloomberg

China spurned a meeting request from top U.S. defense officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, before the annual security forum in Singapore, a Department of Defense official told the Washington Examiner on Monday. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Throughout, the administration should make clear it is prepared to compromise if China is. If Chinese leaders continue to balk, at least the US will have demonstrated it is not the obstacle to improved relations. All these efforts should build toward an in-person meeting between Biden and Xi later this year, where the two leaders should be prepared to discuss their red lines and how to manage them cooperatively. It won’t be an easy conversation. But it’s far better than none at all. – Bloomberg

Ryan Yonk and Ethan Yang write: The U.S. should learn from China’s disastrous antitrust experiment rather than seek to replicate it. To be sure, technological innovation will be a key part of the economic competition between the U.S. and China. But Khan’s efforts to aggressively increase antitrust enforcement to compete with China ignore the realities of what built the U.S.’s competitive advantages in the first place. – Washington Examiner

Jeff Moon writes: Fussy foreigners may object to these limitations and fret that China is becoming “uninvestible.” China is nonetheless confident that the leadership’s “unswerving” support and the irresistible Chinese market will ensure an uninterrupted flow of foreign investment into China. But even China’s leaders might appreciate the wisdom of the Chinese proverb cautioning “when you aim at the rat, beware of the vase.” – The Hill

Henry C. Brown writes: As China flexes its muscles, the U.S. must reassess its approach, considering historical perspectives and present complexities of the East Asian region. This requires long-term vision and clear goals, as well as a focus on assisting Asian allies in building internal defense capabilities. It also requires a robust and consistent U.S. presence in the region. This strategic approach will not only help navigate the challenges presented by the likes of North Korea and China, but also contribute to lasting peace and stability in East Asia. – The Hill

South Asia

Imran Khan, the crusading opposition leader whose arrest this month ignited riots across Pakistan, now finds himself increasingly isolated as key aides and supporters defect under pressure from the military and his once-unstoppable party appears in danger of collapsing. – 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. Now it is a city of blackened and abandoned buildings and is filled with soldiers, relief workers and the displaced. – Washington Post

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated a sleek new Parliament complex, part of a more than $2 billion project to revamp India’s decrepit colonial-era center of government in New Delhi. – New York Times

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) remains in touch with Pakistan’s authorities in order to pave the way for a board meeting before a financing program expires at the end of June, the IMF mission chief for Pakistan said. – Reuters

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday appealed for immediate talks with state officials, as pressure increased on him amidst a crackdown on his top aides and supporters that has seen thousands arrested as well as many leaving his party. – Reuters

Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal will visit India next week and hold talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to strengthen the historically deep ties between the two countries. – Reuters

At least 11 people died after an avalanche hit members of a nomadic tribe as they crossed a mountainous area in northern Pakistan, the country’s disaster management agency said on Saturday. – Reuters

Bangladesh should not bear the burden of more than 1 million Rohingya refugees alone while U.N. agencies are facing challenges to feed them, a United Nations official said Monday. – Associated Press

Indian police forces killed at least 30 people from tribal groups identified as militants, part of an ongoing security operation in a northeastern state bordering Myanmar that’s seen unrest over the access to affirmative action benefits. – Bloomberg

A suicide attacker slammed his explosives-laden motorcycle into a convoy of military vehicles in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region that borders Afghanistan on June 27, wounding 23 troops, security officials told Radio Mashaal on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


New Zealand’s government on Monday said it will maintain defence personnel in the Solomon Islands at the request of local authorities until at least Dec. 31, 2023, extending a peace-keeping mission by as much as seven months. – Reuters

Thailand’s new government must continue engaging with insurgents in the country’s south to ensure peace, a top Thai official involved in the talks said on Friday. – Reuters

A Chinese research ship and five escort vessels were in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Friday close to gas blocks operated by Russian firms in the South China Sea, a day after Vietnam urged the ships to leave. – Reuters

Rebels in Indonesia’s Papua region threatened to shoot a New Zealand pilot they took hostage in February if countries do not comply with their demand to start independence talks within two months, a new video released by the group on Friday showed. – Reuters

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that it detected three Chinese warships, including the Shandong aircraft carrier, passing through the Taiwan Strait, as Beijing keeps up pressure on the self-ruled island it claims as its own. – Associated Press

Buffeted by earthquakes and the potential of conflict with China, Taiwan’s leaders want to accelerate plans to make the island more resilient to communications breakdowns and direct attacks on its digital infrastructure. – Bloomberg

Dinner with strangers can often be a little awkward, especially when your guest has threatened you with invasion. Still, that hasn’t deterred Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te from naming Chinese President Xi Jinping as the head of state he’d most like to have dinner with. – Bloomberg

The US will hold joint exercises with Coast Guards from Japan and the Philippines for the first time starting this week amid elevated tensions with China in the region. – Bloomberg

When officials from 11 countries across Asia-Pacific and the Americas sat down in Detroit on Friday to discuss deepening and expanding their trade bloc, one country was conspicuously absent: the United States. – Bloomberg

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday touted American sea power and teamwork in the tense Indo-Pacific region, as well as among NATO allies amid Russia’s war in Ukraine as he addressed graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy’s commencement. – The Hill

Kazakh presidential spokesman Ruslan Zheldybai told journalists on May 26 that the energy-rich Central Asian country has no plans to join any union states, adding that the integration process within the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EES) — of which Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan are members — should only be in the sphere of economics. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


The FBI uncovered a potential threat to kill Queen Elizabeth II during the 1980s while she was visiting the United States, files released online by the agency show. – Washington Post

Denmark plans to increase its spending on military aid to Ukraine by 17.9 billion crowns ($2.59 billion) over this year and next, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Monday, winning thanks for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. – Reuters

The European Union on Friday condemned an agreement between Russia and Belarus to allow the deployment of Russian nuclear warheads in Belarus. – Reuters

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called on Kosovo to tone down tensions with Serbia on Sunday, two days after clashes between Kosovan police and protesters who are opposed to Albanian mayors taking office in ethnic Serbian areas. – Reuters

The United States and allies rebuked Kosovo for escalating tensions with Serbia on Friday, saying the use of force to install mayors in ethnic Serb areas undermined efforts to improve troubled relations with neighbouring Serbia. – Reuters

Tens of thousands braved rain and wind in Belgrade on Saturday in an anti-government protest over two mass shootings that killed 18 people, blaming the deaths on a culture of violence that critics say authorities have allowed to permeate society. – Reuters

Russia on Saturday blamed Kosovo, the United States and European Union for escalating tensions in the Balkans and said it was watching with concern after violent clashes between Kosovan police and protesters opposed to ethnic Albanian mayors. – Reuters

Greek authorities said Monday they had arrested five police officers from a special border guard force on suspicion of working with smugglers to help migrants cross into the country from neighboring Turkey. – Associated Press

Russia will start expelling German diplomats, teachers and employees of German cultural institutions next month — a move that will further enhance tensions between the two countries that have already had very fraught ties since Russia invaded Ukraine early last year. – Associated Press

Belarus and Russia have no plans to adopt a joint currency in the near future, Belarus’ strongman leader announced on Monday. – Associated Press

Poland imposed sanctions Monday on 365 Belarusian citizens and froze the financial assets of 20 entities and 16 other people associated with Russian capital in reaction to what it condemned as a “draconian” verdict against a journalist. – Associated Press

Polish President Andrzej Duda said Monday he would sign a bill that creates a powerful commission, ostensibly meant to investigate Russian influence in Poland but which critics view as a tool to remove from political life the opponents of the ruling party — mostly notably opposition leader Donald Tusk. – Associated Press

The German military has ordered 18 new Leopard 2 tanks to replace vehicles that were sent to Ukraine earlier this year, a leading defense company said Friday. – Associated Press

The German Defense Ministry said Friday it will transfer Patriot air defense systems from Slovakia to Lithuania as part of efforts to provide security for the NATO summit that the Baltic country will host in July. – Associated Press

Violence escalated in northern Kosovo, where local Serb protesters clashed with police and later with NATO-led peacekeepers, leaving dozens of injured. – Bloomberg

The Netherlands will likely send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine after pilot training, according to two people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

The US and top European allies condemned Kosovo’s government following clashes between police and ethnic Serbs that erupted when protesters tried to block ethnic-Albanian mayors from reaching their offices in the north of the country. – Bloomberg

The US has criticized a new law that allows Poland’s ruling party to probe opposition leader Donald Tusk just months before a tightly contested election. – Bloomberg

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, promised nuclear weapons to any nation that joined Russia and Belarus. – NBC News

Tom Rogan writes: Macron’s problem is that by ultimately associating himself closer to China than to his European and American allies, Macron undermines the Western unity needed to deter Beijing and Moscow’s aggressive excesses. Whether it’s their increasing espionage cooperation or their escalating joint military activity around Japan, Beijing and Moscow are making clear that their partnership has increasingly few limits. Willfully ignoring that reality, Macron makes France an unfortunate accessory to that partnership’s prosperity. – Washington Examiner


President Biden on Monday urged Uganda to repeal a sweeping new anti-LGBT law that introduces the death penalty for some same-sex relations and said his administration was re-evaluating U.S. assistance to the east African country. – Wall Street Journal

The United States and Saudi Arabia on Sunday urged Sudan’s rival military factions to extend a week-long truce that has allowed humanitarian groups to reach more Sudanese in desperate need of aid and safe shelter. – Washington Post

Islamist al Shabaab militants attacked a military base housing Ugandan forces with the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia on Friday, and a Somali army captain said both sides suffered heavy casualties. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said his government would consider visa restrictions against Ugandan officials and others for the abuse of human rights following the implementation of one of the world’s toughest anti-gay laws. – Reuters

Kenya will sign a trade pact with Russia aimed at boosting cooperation between businesses, President William Ruto’s office said on Monday, after hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Nairobi. – Reuters

They are among 90,000 people who have escaped to Chad since fighting broke out in Sudan in mid-April – a major extra burden on one of the world’s poorest countries. – Reuters

Two U.N. agencies warned Monday of rising food emergencies including starvation in Sudan due to the outbreak of war and in Haiti,Burkina Faso and Mali due to restricted movements of people and goods. – Associated Press

Sudan’s military ruler demanded in a letter to the U.N. secretary general that the U.N. envoy to his country be removed, officials said Saturday. The U.N. chief was “shocked” by the letter, a spokesman said. – Associated Press

Sudan’s warring sides on Monday agreed to extend a shaky cease-fire in their battle for control of the country, after two key international mediators signaled impatience with persistent truce violations. – Associated Press

South Africa said it will provide diplomatic immunity to attendees of two meetings of officials from the BRICS group of countries — a practice the government said is routine — as it prepares to host Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in August. – Bloomberg

South Africa’s central bank has warned of dire consequences should the country face censure due to its stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Somalia will institute a direct, one person, one-vote election system starting in 2024, Sonna, the national news agency, reported on Sunday. – Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping met his counterpart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, on Friday in Beijing as the two countries seek to relaunch a partnership worth tens of billions of dollars in trade each year. – Bloomberg

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a three-member independent panel to investigate whether arms were picked up by a Russian vessel when it docked south of Cape Town in December. – Bloomberg

Kenya said it plans to resume talks with China over funding an extension of a railway line to the Uganda border, eight years after negotiations began. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Brazil’s leftist government is torn between dueling extradition demands from the U.S. and Russia for an alleged spy, whose ultimate destination could shape negotiations to free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. – Wall Street Journal

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Brazilian leader Luis Inacio Lula de Silva on Monday assailed U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Maduro said he hopes a regional South American summit in Brasilia will call for their removal. – Reuters

The European Union will send a special human rights envoy to Cuba this year to discuss the aftermath of anti-government protests in July 2021, but the EU’s top diplomat said it will not “impose” demands on the Communist-run Caribbean nation. – Reuters

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday his government is about to reach agreements with China and South Korea aimed at curbing trafficking in synthetic opioid fentanyl. – Reuters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Friday he had a phone call with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and reaffirmed his willingness to establish peace talks with both sides of the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

South America’s leaders will gather in Brazil’s capital on Tuesday as part of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s attempt to reinvigorate regional integration efforts that have previously floundered amid the continent’s political swings and polarization. – Associated Press

A judge sentenced former El Salvador President Mauricio Funes to 14 years in prison Monday for negotiating with gangs during his administration. – Associated Press

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a “multi-polar” world rather than one dominated by the US, as he arrived in Brazil seeking to rebuild his nation’s alliances after years of isolation. – Bloomberg

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been accused of coming to the aid of the Cuban dictatorship by importing doctors and paying the communist regime for their services. – Fox News

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

North America

Canadian national Matthew Dupre has been successfully extradited to Thailand in connection with the killing last year of a criminal gang member, Thai authorities said on Monday, after the former soldier arrived in Bangkok on a special air force flight. – Reuters

Canada backs Ukraine’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng said on Friday. – Reuters

Violence by armed gangs has fallen “drastically” since the emergence of a vigilante justice movement that has seen at least 160 suspected criminals killed in the last month, a report by local human rights research group CARDH said on Sunday. – Reuters

United States

Two members of the far-right Oath Keepers were sentenced to prison on Friday for their roles in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump who tried to overturn his presidential election defeat. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund urged the US to immediately raise or suspend its debt limit, and warned that getting “stubbornly high” inflation back to the Federal Reserve’s 2% goal will require elevated interest rates through much of 2024. – Bloomberg

As Hunter Biden claims he’s facing financial trouble amid a federal investigation into his finances and overseas business dealings, the first son has been turning to a Hollywood mega-lawyer and big-time Democratic donor for money and strategic advice. – Fox News

Former President Donald Trump is infuriating 9/11 families by hosting a Memorial Day weekend golf tournament bankrolled by the Saudi government in Virginia – 29 miles from the Pentagon, where 184 of nearly 3,000 victims were murdered. – New York Post


The Italian Industry Ministry’s web portal and applications were hit by a “heavy cyberattack” on Friday and were out of order, it said. – Reuters

A group of hackers called Mysterious Team made multiple Senegalese government websites go offline overnight on Friday by hitting them with denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, a government spokesperson said. – Reuters

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Friday downplayed worries that the ChatGPT maker could exit the European Union if it can’t comply with the bloc’s strict new artificial intelligence rules, coming after a top official rebuked him for comments raising such a possibility. – Associated Press

Twitter has decided to leave the EU’s disinformation code, a voluntary pact that groups together the major social platforms, but “its obligations remain,” EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

US officials believe Chinese hackers could still have access to sensitive US computer networks they’ve targeted in recent months as a top American cyber official told CNN he is concerned about the “scope and scale” of the activity. – CNN

The Department of Justice has opened a criminal hacking probe into how behind-the-scenes footage of fired Fox News host Tucker Carlson was leaked to media organizations in recent months, according to a letter the federal agency sent the right-wing cable network this week. – CNN

Editorial: In a better world, the tech platforms would have an epiphany and decide that within broad boundaries of civility and propriety, pronouncing what is “misleading” or “inaccurate” isn’t within their job description, to say nothing of their competence. […]But if tech sites keep doing things like locking Mr. Ramaswamy’s account, they are begging to be regulated. They might end up getting it, good and hard. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: The downside of any stringent AI regulation is that these technologies are going to exist regardless of whether the United States allows them to. Instead, it will be countries such as China that build them, without the commitment to democratic values that our nation could ensure. Certainly, it’s better for the United States to be involved and influential than to bow out and sacrifice its ability to point this powerful technology in a less terrifying direction. But that’s exactly why these principles are the essential place to begin: Without them, there’s no direction at all. – Washington Post

Sasha Havlicek writes: With these policies in place, consumers would be able to make truly informed choices about the online platforms they use based on what those platforms do or do not allow, the data they collect, and independent assessments of whether they can back up their claims. To protect free speech online we need transparency around the invisible hands that guide our digital experiences. This should be a common cause for both left and right. – The Hill

Kyle Fendorf and Natasha White write: The Biden administration committed itself to disrupting and dismantling threat actors as part of its National Cyber Strategy. Adopting the doctrine of cognitive effect is the best way to distract ransomware groups from their usual mission of causing havoc in a sustained manner. – The National Interest

John Bailey writes: While excessive regulation may hinder innovation and global competition, an absence of effective regulation could lead to unmitigated risks. As AI is complex, along with the environments in which it is being deployed, there are no simple answers. It is essential that policymakers and industry leaders continue to wrestle with the competing tensions presented by these rapidly evolving technologies. – American Enterprise Institute


Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman to deliver a commencement speech at West Point, lauded graduating cadets Saturday for their noble sacrifice in serving their country, but noted they were entering an “unsettled world” because of Russian aggression and the rising threats from China. – Associated Press

Fleet Week 2023 is on a roll in New York City, kicking off with the impressive arrival of the naval warship USS Wasp. – Fox News

Michael Sarraille and Andy Stumpf are retired U.S. Navy SEALs who co-founded Legacy Expeditions, a unique group that puts Americans outside their mental and physical comfort zones with challenging adventures to honor fallen Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave their lives defending the nation. – Fox News

No new names were added to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) memorial wall this year for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. – Fox News

Editorial: The U.S. military needs a top officer who understands his brief is preventing a war by preparing for it, not wading into politics or the culture wars or talking to reporters for Washington gossip books. The good news is Gen. Brown seems to have the right stuff, at least if you take his word in an Air Force ad from a couple years ago. – Wall Street Journal

Jerry Moran writes: On this Memorial Day, as we pause to reflect on its true meaning, let us also remember not just the fallen, but also the families that they left behind — families such as Marcie’s. Their love lives on, and our commitment to them as a grateful nation does too. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The US has certainly learned from past experiences such as the Aquila, a drone that sponged up money but wasn’t used; but it’s unclear if the current thought process on the types of drones that battalions and brigades need is being thought through to give commanders what they need. – Jerusalem Post

Mackenzie Eaglan writes: As the prime minister of Latvia told Politico this week, “deterrence has to be credible. And credible means actual forces, actual capabilities.” Getting smaller should not be the preferred way to pay for future technologies when bolstering global deterrence is the urgent work of now. – 19FortyFive

Long War

Russia is ready to supply Somalia’s army with military equipment in its war against terrorism, Russia’s foreign minister said Friday. – Associated Press

German lawmakers on Friday gave the go-ahead for the country’s troops to stay in Mali for up to another year, part of a plan to bring Germany’s involvement in a U.N. military mission in the West African nation to an orderly end. – Associated Press

For at least four years, thousands of children have been growing up in a camp in northeast Syria housing families of Islamic State group militants, raised in an atmosphere where the group’s radical ideology still circulates and where they have almost no chance for an education. – Associated Press

The United States conducted an airstrike that destroyed stolen Al-Shabab weapons and equipment in Somalia near an African Union military base that was attacked by the group, officials reported Saturday. – Agence France-Presse

A man has been jailed for at least nine and a half years for travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State group. Shabazz Suleman, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, was 19 when he disappeared while on a family holiday to Turkey in 2014. He was arrested at Heathrow Airport in September 2021 and charged with a string of terror offences. – BBC

A federal jury convicted a San Antonio man yesterday for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Imad Eddin Wadi, 66, conspired to funnel funds to members and affiliates of U.S. designated foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Nusrah Front, a Syrian militant organization aligned with Al Qaeda.  As part of the conspiracy Wadi communicated with others to secure a wealthy investor to invest funds to support Wadi’s purchase of a business.  A percentage of the investment funds and subsequent profits from the investments were to be used to purchase weapons for foreign militants, including members and affiliates of al-Nusrah Front. – Department of Justice