Fdd's overnight brief

May 5, 2020

In The News


For many years, Iran’s government debated changing the national currency, the rial, by basically slashing four zeros off its face value — an acknowledgment of how American sanctions and economic mismanagement have contributed to inflation in the country. On Monday, the Iranian Parliament essentially took that step, authorizing the replacement of the rial with another basic unit of currency called the toman. – New York Times

A large majority of U.S. legislators on both sides of the aisle called on President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday, May 4, to push for an extension of a United Nations arms embargo on Iran. – Radio Farda

Iran on Monday dismissed U.S. efforts to continue a United Nations Security Council arms embargo on the country, calling the move “illegitimate.” – Washington Times

An Iranian lawmaker has quoted a deputy defense minister as saying that more than 30 Iranians “active in military affairs” have been in jail outside Iran, but currently there are five individuals in prison abroad on charges of “military activity.” – Radio Farda

Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who has criticized the pro-Israel lobby in the US and drawn criticism for accusing pro-Israel groups of buying support in Congress, is one of the 391 members of the US House of Representatives to sign onto an AIPAC-backed letter drawn up by Republican Mike McCaul (Texas) and Democrat Eliot Engel (New York). – Arutz Sheva

Eugene Chudnovsky writes: The COVID-19 pandemic has made a visible crack in the Iranian theocracy. Authorities are reshuffling prison populations to keep dissatisfied college-educated citizens in check. This policy will fail. Every new arrest and every coronavirus-related death of a prisoner of conscience will make the crack wider. – Washington Examiner


The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Monday that Germany was “succumbing to American will” by banning his Iran-backed movement and designating it a terrorist organisation. – Reuters 

Last month the United States offered a prize for providing “any information on the activities, networks and colleagues” of a senior Lebanese Hezbollah official, thought to have replaced Qassem Soleimani as an operative in the region. Washington says in full coordination with the Islamic Republic and through extra-legal activities in Syria and Iraq the senior official is helping Tehran to dominate the “Shiite Crescent”, or the “Resistance Axis” as it is called by the leaders of clergy-dominated Iran. – Radio Farda

Israel may change its mind about the need for UN Interim Force in Lebanon if it continues to let Hezbollah run rampant in southern Lebanon, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said at a UN Security Council meeting on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

An Amnesty International board member from Finland was criticized on Monday after denouncing Germany’s decision to ban the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. – Algemeiner

Editorial: When tackling terrorism, you can’t do things by half. It is time for all countries that believe in peace and security to ban both Hezbollah’s political and military wings. There can be no shades of gray in blacklisting Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. – Jerusalem Post 

Hanin Ghaddar writes: Even so, some useful measures can be adopted in the interim to contain Hezbollah’s financial takeover plans and inform the narrative surrounding the latest wave of protests. Hezbollah and its allies have been taking advantage of public anger to power their campaign against the banks, and this campaign needs to be exposed. While maintaining pressure on the central bank is important, Lebanon’s corrupt elite and Hezbollah’s allies should not be allowed to avoid blame for the financial crash. – Washington Institute 


Unknown gunmen killed nine Syrian policemen on Monday in a southern village close to the border with Jordan, state media and an opposition war monitor said. The attack occurred in the province of Daraa where Syria’s anti-government uprising began in March 2011 before morphing into a civil war that has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced half the country’s population. – Associated Press 

Syrian air defences thwarted an Israeli missile attack on a research centre and a military base in the northern province of Aleppo state media said on Monday in the fifth such strikes in two weeks on suspected Iranian targets. – Reuters 

The jihadist group Islamic State used a gorge in north-eastern Syria to dump the bodies of people it had abducted or detained, Human Rights Watch says. – BBC

Lamont Colucci writes: These activities, and Russia’s continued presence in Syria, represent a threat to American interests. They help to undermine U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean. They have allowed the Kremlin to reemerge as a serious player in regional politics and begin to shape Middle Eastern affairs in its image. And they have helped to strengthen Russia’s long-standing ties to Iran, which is also aiding Syria, and which the Trump administration continues to seek to isolate and contain. As such, Moscow’s machinations should be understood for what they are, a serious national security concern for the United States, and should be treated as such by Washington. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes:Amid the problems with his inner circle, Assad also must weigh new reports that assert his air-defense systems are failing against attacks. The S-300 systems and Pantsir have been ineffective, the reports say. This may be merely disinformation designed to embarrass the regime, as it has been pounded by airstrikes numerous times since March. […]In the game of feeding information to media, however, such leaks may be designed to make the regime look weaker than it is. Either way, Damascus has faced several embarrassments in the past week. – Jerusalem Post

Amos Harel writes: Under cover of the coronavirus, the Netanyahu government seems to have given Israel’s military chief, Aviv Kochavi, a blank check to continue the airstrikes and even intensify them. […]Israel is walking on the brink and waiting to see how the enemy will respond. Will Assad hint to Tehran that it’s time to fold, or will the Iranians themselves search for an honorable exit and reduce their presence in Syria due to the increasing military pressure? Or will there be retaliation against Israel? – Haaretz


The judiciary has been used as an instrument to advance political agendas in Turkey for decades. Under Erdogan, his opponents say, it has been deployed as a political cudgel and hollowed out to an unprecedented degree. – Reuters

Aykan Erdemir and Luc Sasseville write: Trump should avoid falling for Erdogan’s ploy and instead direct him to the International Monetary Fund. If the U.S. president makes the mistake of granting his Turkish counterpart a no-strings-attached swap line with the Federal Reserve, he would save him from the strict conditionalities of a Stand-By Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund. […]This sure does not sound like a prudent move for an incumbent president during an election year. – War on the Rocks 

Robert Ellis writes: The coronavirus pandemic has imposed an additional burden on Turkey’s economy, which has caught Erdogan between a rock and a hard place. Rather than follow an effective strategy, such as that followed by Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, Turkey has resorted to half-measures, such as a curfew for those under the age of 20 and over 65. […]Erdogan has rejected the option of a standby loan from the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps he hopes for a swap deal with the US Federal Reserve. – Jerusalem Post


Israel’s democratic process and the fate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come under legal scrutiny this week as the country’s highest court weighs whether a person charged with serious crimes should be allowed to form a government and whether a deal between Netanyahu and his main rival to end a year-long political stalemate is legal. – Washington Post

Mohammad Aref Massad, a former Palestinian security prisoner, has demanded that Israel stop transferring tax-revenue funds to the Palestinian Authority on the pretext that the money is being used to fund terrorism and corruption. – Jerusalem Post

Israel’s foreign policy apparatus is woefully underfunded and uncoordinated, a State Comptroller’s report charged Monday, calling for reforms that would centralize the nation’s diplomatic activities. – Times of Israel

Richard Kemp writes: The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has contorted the jurisdiction of the court into a dangerous parody in her desperate efforts to drag Israeli soldiers and political leaders into the dock at The Hague. […]The ICC should be an important part of the international rule of law, but Bensouda is betraying the honorable legal tradition established by the court’s predecessor tribunals that brought war criminals to justice at Nuremberg and Tokyo after the Second World War. – Jerusalem Post 

Osama Al Sharif writes: Jordan will make its objections loud and clear if Netanyahu does go ahead with any form of annexation — be it Jewish settlements only or/and the Jordan Valley. The level of its reaction may depend on the extent of the annexation and whether or not it includes the Jordan Valley. But in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis Amman knows it has a narrower margin for action. It is unlikely to go as far as suspending the peace treaty with Israel. – Middle East Institute


The crisis has been decades in the making, as the political system born in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion became riddled with corruption while politicians grew rich on the spoils. But the epidemic has accelerated the crisis, tanking global oil prices and the oil revenue that keeps Iraq afloat — while forcing a lockdown that is ruining livelihoods and forcing families to go hungry. – Washington Post

The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has staged resurgent strikes in Iraq and Syria as the two war-torn nations now dealt with heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, as well as the novel coronavirus pandemic. – Newsweek

Anthony Avice Du Buisson writes: The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iraq where the equipment and infrastructure needed to ensure public health and safety are lacking adds to already existing problems. A resurging Daesh remains a threat[…]. IRGC-backed paramilitaries along with political extensions of the Iranian government continue to increase influence in the state of Iraq and pressure the US to leave. Unless these matters are addressed, they will likely escalate in intensity and the US will need to once again reconsider maintenance of its presence in Iraq – considerations that either way will carry their own ramifications. – Jerusalem Post


The U.N. Security Council on Monday backed Lebanon’s efforts to end the country’s economic crisis and tackle other challenges including the impact of COVID-19 and called on the international community to help. – Associated Press 

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah threw his support Monday behind the government in seeking financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund but warned that the terms should be negotiated carefully. – Associated Press  

The head of the International Monetary Fund said on Monday she had a “productive” discussion with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on the country’s economic recovery plan, and an IMF team would begin talks with Lebanese authorities soon. – Reuters 

Editorial: This divergence is fuelling inflation. Unrest is resuming, despite the virus lockdown. The government, selected by the same old sectarian power brokers but which includes talented technocrats, has been edging closer to the IMF since February, while waiting for its political overlords to conclude there is no alternative. Even Hizbollah, the Iran-backed Shia politico-military movement that acts as a state-above-the-state and — with its Christian, Shia and Sunni allies — has a parliamentary majority, seems to have realised only the IMF could unlock the finance Lebanon needs to survive and rebuild. – Financial Times

Arabian Peninsula

The U.S. Departments of State and Energy should commit to regular briefings to relevant committees in Congress on talks about nuclear power cooperation with Saudi Arabia, a congressional watchdog said in a report on Monday. – Reuters  

A bid by separatists funded by the United Arab Emirates to assert control over southern Yemen has reopened a dangerous new front in Yemen’s civil war and pushed it closer to fragmentation at a time when the coronavirus pandemic poses a growing threat. – Associated Press  

Only 10 coronavirus infections and two related deaths have been reported in war-torn Yemen to date, but there’s mounting fear that COVID-19 is poised to wreak havoc on a country that was already struggling with a humanitarian catastrophe before the pandemic. – CBS News

Ibrahim Jalal writes: This unilateral cease-fire episode should also be an object lesson for external actors in understanding how and when a cease-fire should occur in Yemen. It raises questions about the use of cease-fires in de-escalation and conflict-resolution efforts — whether they should come before credible peace talks, during negotiations as a result of tangible progress to build confidence, or after the conclusion of a peace agreement. – Middle East Institute 


One of Libya’s top anti-corruption officials was abducted by a militia tied to the interior ministry in the capital, the audit bureau said Monday, the latest twist in a long-running contest over the country’s vast wealth. – Associated Press  

Turkey’s president said Monday that Libya’s eastern-based forces have entered a “regression” phase in the conflict with the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli, following a series of setbacks. – Associated Press 

James J. Coyle writes: With a major naval base in Syria, if Russia succeeds in becoming the indispensable actor in Libya, Putin will have succeeded in gaining control of the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite the overwhelming evidence of Russia’s involvement on the rebel side, Moscow maintains correct relations with the Government of National Unity. This gives it the veneer of being merely an interested bystander instead of an active participant in the conflict. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

A Pennsylvania teacher, held in an Egyptian prison for nearly 10 months without trial and on flimsy charges, was released Sunday and returned to the United States with her teenage son, human rights advocates said on Monday. – Washington Post

Sonatrach has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Russia’s Lukoil for talks on possible partnerships in production and exploration in the North African country, Algeria’s state energy firm said on Monday. – Reuters  

But that is where the Middle East’s advantages end. Years of strife in the world’s least stable region have left weaknesses that the pandemic is sure to deepen. – BBC

Egypt has destroyed more than 3,000 tunnels along its border with the Gaza Strip in the past five years, Egyptian Army Spokesperson Tamer Al-Refai has revealed. – Jerusalem Post

Ezzedine C. Fishere writes: History shows that previous failures — whether military defeats or economic, social and political collapse — had been absorbed and reinterpreted to reinforce these worldviews. Middle Eastern ruling elites have an extraordinary ability to stand tall over the ruins and redefine failure as success. Like earlier elites who ruled the Middle East until the 1950s, they seem determined to continue their march toward self-destruction undisturbed by the repeated signs and writings on the wall. – Washington Post 

Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s appearance in state media, after a near three-week absence set off rumors about his health, reaffirms a status quo that is unlikely to shake up stalled denuclearization talks with the U.S. or change the regime’s pattern of weapons testing. – Wall Street Journal 

Melanie Kirkpatrick writes: North Korea’s official name — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — is a lie. When the Kim family regime finally collapses and the 25 million people of North Korea are free, Mr. Ji, Mr. Thae and other North Korean escapees who are participating in South Korea’s democracy will be well-placed to teach them the true meaning of the word “democratic.” – George W. Bush Presidential Center 

Oriana Skylar Mastro writes: In short, family dictatorships like the Kim regime in North Korea tend to be vulnerable. And the situation only gets worse when something happens to the dear leader and there is not a designated successor with a strong relationship to the military. If the North Korean regime does collapse, it will happen rapidly and with little warning. This is why the United States needs to update its plans and preparations for such a contingency, even as it deals with the uncertainty and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. – International Institute for Strategic Studies


The Chinese authorities are clamping down as grieving relatives, along with activists, press the ruling Communist Party for an accounting of what went wrong in Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus killed thousands before spreading to the rest of China and the world. – New York Times

China’s top policymakers have long assessed the geopolitical ramifications of the next big economic crisis — the one that would bring their decades of miraculous growth to a halt. Official policy papers reflect Beijing’s awareness that this event would not only serve as a critical test of the Chinese Communist Party’s domestic rule, but could reshuffle the balance of powers among China and Western nations. – Washington Post

The World Health Organization said Monday that Washington had provided no evidence to support “speculative” claims by the US president that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. – Agence France-Presse

Chinese state media unleashed a torrent of criticism against Secretary of State Michael Pompeo — calling him “evil” and a liar — as Beijing sought to push back against the U.S.’s virus allegations without prompting a confrontation with President Donald Trump. – Bloomberg 

The Trump administration is making ever louder pronouncements casting blame on China for the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to sidestep domestic criticism of the president’s own response, tarnish China’s global reputation and give the U.S. leverage on trade and other aspects of U.S.-China competition. – Associated Press 

Uighur Muslims held in Chinese Communist detention camps are being sent around the country to fill labor shortages, according to activists and local reports. – Washington Examiner

An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation, people familiar with the paper told Reuters. – Reuters

House Republicans are seeking information from the Education Department on China’s ties to leading U.S. universities, as tensions mount between the two countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. – The Hill

China’s leaders risk a popular backlash if they don’t loosen controls on free speech and let its people have a stronger hand in their government, a senior White House official said in a speech likely to further exacerbate tensions with Beijing. – Bloomberg 

The Trump administration is “turbocharging” an initiative to remove the US from dependency on a China-based supply chain and weighing imposing new tariffs to punish the Communist Party in Beijing for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report on Monday. – New York Post

Editorial: It has been disappointing to see less effort devoted to establishing how this virus became a global calamity and more to excoriating administration officials who blame China. Media irresponsibility and reflexive animosity toward the Trump administration makes it possible, unfortunately, that we will lose context about what happened and why. – Washington Examiner

Roger F. Noriega writes: Stated plainly, the market economies and democracies of the Western Hemisphere would be better off depending more on one another and less on China. Such a realignment is urgent for the Americas, as like-minded neighbors cooperate to restore their prosperity and secure their destiny. – Washington Examiner

Gary Bauer and Tenzin Dorjee write: We hope the IOC can find a creative solution to the 2022 Games, such as allowing Japan to host both the 2021 and 2022 Olympic Games. If it does not, and if the Chinese government’s persecution of religious minorities continues, we call upon the U.S. government to announce that it will not send any officials to attend the games in Beijing. – Washington Examiner

Gideon Rachman writes: At worst, all these angry emotions on both sides will lead not just to a cold war, but to a hot one: a real, armed conflict. Both the US and China need to move off that dangerous path. The first step would be to agree to an independent international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19. – Financial Times


Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the 14-month U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is still on track, pending a critical power-sharing negotiation between the two leaders who both claim to be the president of Afghanistan. – Washington Examiner 

Two American hostages still missing in Afghanistan underscore the limits of a troubled peace deal the U.S. signed with the Taliban, and the Trump Administration’s diminishing ability to bend the militants to American will as the group steps up attacks on its Afghan allies. – TIME

The Pentagon is forging ahead with a dramatic cut in combat troop levels in Afghanistan even as the Taliban ramps up attacks and specialists warn that the COVID-19 outbreak could destabilize the fragile country and fuel even greater chaos. – Washington Times

For the last year, Habib-ur-Rahman has been running a small girls school in his own home in this remote area of rural Afghanistan, which is largely dominated by the Taliban. In a previous era, when the Taliban completely ruled the country before 9/11, that would have been impossible: The radical Islamist group forbade formal education for girls. But things are different this time, villagers say. – Foreign Policy


A recent spate of deaths among Christian sewer cleaners in Pakistan underscores how the caste discrimination that once governed the Indian subcontinent’s Hindus lingers, no matter the religion. […]Although India has outlawed caste-based discrimination with mixed success, in Pakistan it is almost encouraged by the state. – New York Times

Only Taiwan’s democratically-elected government can represent its people on the world stage, not China, its foreign ministry said on Tuesday, calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to “cast off” China’s control during the coronavirus pandemic. – Reuters  

Boeing is set to roll out the first “Loyal Wingman” drone for the Royal Australian Air Force during a Tuesday morning ceremony, putting the RAAF high on the list of countries experimenting with autonomous aircraft. – Defense News  

India is developing a land pool nearly double the size of Luxembourg to lure businesses moving out of China, according to people with the knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg 

Jamie Smyth writes: Canberra’s call for an inquiry into the origins of coronavirus has provoked a torrent of threats from Beijing, which has accused Australia of teaming up with Washington in “a political campaign against China”. […]For many Australian businesses the withdrawal of Chinese investment could cause a much bigger shake-up than any Beijing-inspired consumer boycott. – Financial Times


Oil analysts have called the cold weather claim one of the global oil industry’s biggest geopolitical bluffs, one which Russian officials carried off with a straight face for decades to deflect OPEC demands for help with prices. – New York Times

The U.S. Navy has sent four ships into the Barents Sea off of Russia’s Arctic coast for the first time since the Cold War, the Navy said Monday. – The Hill

The Department of Homeland Security and FBI warned states earlier this year that Russia could look to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections by covertly advising political candidates and campaigns, according to a law enforcement memo obtained by The Associated Press. – Associated Press 

Russia’s Northern Fleet is tracking a group of U.S. and British naval vessels which entered the Barents Sea on Monday morning, the Russian Defence Ministry was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. – Reuters 

Editorial: Russia has for several years insisted it did not shoot down MH17. The Kremlin tried all manner of tricks to lay the blame on Ukraine. The body of evidence, however, clearly points to Russia, and now a new piece of evidence reinforces that suspicion. The open-source investigative group Bellingcat, along with its Russian partner the Insider and the McClatchy Washington Bureau, reports that a high-ranking official of the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, oversaw the separatists and deployment of the missile. – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: Three U.S. Navy destroyers and one Royal Navy frigate are operating in the Barents Sea just off Russia’s northern coast. […]Ultimately, then, this deployment and its long unseen partner deployments below the Barents is a prime example of why America remains NATO’s keystone. For all French President Emmanuel Macron’s rhetoric (and often unhelpful action), it is American power and resolve that underpins the democratic international order. – Washington Examiner

Stephen Blank writes: The COVID-19 pandemic has provided Russia and China with abundant opportunities to display their alliance. […]Therefore, we should not be surprised at any of these developments. But Western elites need to wake up now from their dogmatic slumbers. This plague represents a major step forward in the war against the West. But it is one in which politics is war conducted by other means.  – The Hill

Edward Lucas writes: The sensible course of action now would be to let the regional leaders take responsibility for dealing with the pandemic, while keeping national politics as dull as possible. It could work. But if it does not, the Russian leader will be playing for high stakes, dealing with angry people who are more scared of the coronavirus than they are of the Kremlin. It is too late to deal with the incompetence. He cannot defuse the impatience. His future relies on dispelling any perception of impotence. That predicament is worrying for Putin. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Dan Haley writes: Standing up to Russia and the Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel was the right thing to do, and President Trump was backed to the hilt by congressional leaders, including Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, in demanding an end to the price war. But more action is needed to repair the damage done and build stronger defenses against Russia, OPEC, or any other foreign power that tries to undermine the U.S. economy, and energy security, at this critical time. – Washington Examiner


Prime ministers, a king, a prince and Madonna all chipped in to an $8 billion pot to fund a coronavirus vaccine. President Trump skipped the chance to contribute, with officials in his administration noting that the United States is pouring billions of dollars into its own research efforts. – New York Times 

Germany’s massive domestic bailouts could help the rest of the European Union economy to survive the pandemic even as it outspends nations with less firepower, according to the bloc’s antitrust chief. – Bloomberg 

Relations between Russia and the countries in central and eastern Europe that it helped liberate in 1945 but then subjugated during the Cold War are never easy. But Mr Kolar’s case comes amid a deterioration in relations between Prague and Moscow that Czech analysts say is the worst in years. – Financial Times

France and the Netherlands have issued a joint call for tougher enforcement of environmental and labour standards in EU trade deals, saying the bloc needs to police the activities of countries granted preferential access to its market. – Financial Times 

Janusz Bugajski writes: With each country focused on developing its own capacities, Balkan governments will have an important role to play in attracting new investments and protecting emerging companies from hostile takeovers by corrupt business interests. A more effective pro-business policy will itself become a valuable exam in qualifying for EU accession – a goal shared by all countries in the region. – Center for European Policy Analysis


DR Congo on Monday reiterated its accusation that Rwandan rebels in the east of the country killed 12 rangers and five others at the world-famous Virunga national park. – Agence France-Presse  

An armed group in northeast Congo known for using fetishes to protect its fighters said on Monday it would lay down its arms and end attacks against civilians and the army, weeks after its leader was killed and other senior figures arrested. – Reuters 

Sudan has appointed its first ambassador to the United States for almost a quarter of a century, its foreign ministry said on Monday, in a move to normalize relations after decades of antagonism. – Reuters 

A plane carrying aid supplies for use in the fight against the coronavirus crashed in Somalia on Monday, killing all six people on board, the Somali transport minister said. […]a former defence minister told Reuters he had spoken to a witness at the airfield who said it appeared to have been shot down. Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked insurgency al Shabaab has a presence in the area where the plane came down – Reuters

A simmering Islamist rebellion in a remote corner of Mozambique has erupted into open warfare in recent weeks, with reports of massacres, beheadings and the brief seizure of two towns in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, writes BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding. – BBC 

The State Department has authorized African nations to use U.S.-provided peacekeeping equipment in a bid to keep the continent from becoming the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. – Defense One

United States

Major U.S. firms and trade groups want the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office to waive tariffs on a wide range of Chinese-made products as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including drones, robots, personal computers and 3D printers. – Reuters 

Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, said it was “too hard to tell” if the US will loosen international travel restrictions affecting Asia and Europe this year, even as measures limiting domestic economic activity are lifted. – Financial Times

The most recent survey, to no one’s surprise, reflects the growing number of antisemitic incidents recorded during the past year. According to the ADL report, “Over half (54%) of Jews in America have either experienced or witnessed some form of incident that they believed was motivated by antisemitism over the past five years. – Jerusalem PostThe Trump administration’s special envoy to combat anti-Semitism warned on Monday that the world was witnessing a “tsunami” of anti-Semitism linked to the global spread of the coronavirus. In a briefing with reporters, Elan Carr expressed “deep concern” over what he described as a “wave” of online anti-Semitic content that blames the spread of the global pandemic on Jews. – Haaretz

Latin America

President Nicolás Maduro said his government had captured two American “mercenaries” Monday in a murky operation allegedly intended to infiltrate Venezuela, incite rebellion and apprehend its leaders, adding a fresh complication to escalating tensions between Washington and Caracas. The socialist leader said the plan was to kill him. – Washington Post

An army intelligence unit provided with U.S. surveillance equipment to fight Marxist rebels and drug traffickers here used the assets throughout 2019 to spy on political opponents, government officials, journalists and human-rights activists, people familiar with the operations and their targets said. – Wall Street Journal 

Mexico’s president said Monday that the U.S. government should investigate its own officials who had ties to Mexico’s former top security official, who is currently facing trial accused of taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes to protect the Sinaloa cartel. – Associated Press  

Margarita R. Seminario and Claudia Fernandez write: Latin American leaders should consider the lessons learned in China, where experts note that a lack of press freedom facilitated the spread of the virus. If the Chinese Communist Party had not censored journalists and punished whistleblowers, millions of people in China would have been informed about the epidemic sooner, and thousands of lives could have been spared. […]As Covid-19 spreads and Latin American governments crack down on free press, there are a number of actions that could combat misinformation. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Cybersecurity companies are spending millions of dollars on lobbying efforts in Washington, seeking to influence policy makers as they reshape privacy and security laws.  As the cybersecurity industry has grown, these companies have increasingly sought to get time with lawmakers and help shape bills and issues in their early stages, including standards for the security of the Internet of Things, a potential federal privacy law and the rollout of 5G networks. –  Wall Street Journal  

The pandemic “isn’t a traditional national security crisis,” the U.K.’s cybersecurity boss said in an interview. “Obviously it affects everyone’s security, but it’s not the sort of external physical or digital threat that we’re used to, like terrorism or a hostile foreign state.” – Wall Street Journal 

British cybersecurity officials have stepped up efforts to protect virus-related work at over a dozen universities that they have identified as critical players in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, according to government security officials. – Wall Street Journal

Cybersecurity companies and professionals are banding together to offer free digital defenses to hospitals that are being pummeled with digital attacks during the coronavirus pandemic. – Washington Post

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced on May 1 the release of cybersecurity guidance documents to advise critical infrastructure operators, businesses and federal agencies on safe practices during the telework period caused by the coronavirus pandemic. – Fifth Domain


On board the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt, the crew is getting the aircraft carrier ready to head back out to sea. For the ship’s commander, Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the road to recovery has been a challenge. For the crew sidelined in Guam for more than a month, it’s been an emotional roller coaster. – Associated Press 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said readiness and training have suffered amid the coronavirus outbreak and that the military will be following White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Anthony Fauci’s advice in making decisions on how best to protect the force. – Washington Examiner

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday said the Navy’s second coronavirus outbreak at sea could have been picked up through a counter-narcotics operation. – The Hill

Twenty-nine U.S. soldiers have been approved for Purple Hearts after suffering traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from Iran’s January missile strike on an Iraqi military base, with the first six awarded Sunday and Monday, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) said Monday. – The Hill 

When the bill comes due for Congress to pay off nearly $3 trillion in spending bills passed to spur economic activity during the COVID-19 shutdown, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper worries future Pentagon budgets will take a hit. – USNI News

Strategic bombers are back at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam — less than a month after the Air Force ended its Continuous Bomber Presence mission at Andersen. – Air Force Times 

After successfully completing the first docking of two commercial spacecraft on orbit and returning their client satellite back to service, Northrop Grumman is bullish on the market for its new satellite life-extension service. – C4ISRNET 

Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Technologies are teaming up to fight for the right to build America’s next missile interceptor, the companies announced Monday. – Defense News