Fdd's overnight brief

May 6, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Talks over a cease-fire deal in Cairo ended on Sunday without progress, said Arab mediators, after Hamas failed to formally respond to an Israeli-Egyptian proposal to pause the fighting in exchange for a release of hostages. – Wall Street Journal

Israel has said repeatedly it needs to attack the Gaza Strip city of Rafah to wipe out the last organized battalions of the militant group Hamas. It could be its riskiest operation yet. – Wall Street Journal

Hamas claimed credit Sunday for a deadly rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel as cease-fire negotiations dragged on with no breakthrough in sight. The talks are viewed by some U.S. officials as the “last chance” to avoid a return to all-out war in Gaza. – Washington Post

Israel’s government moved Sunday to shut down the Al Jazeera Media Network’s operations in Israel, clamping down on one of the few international broadcasters providing largely uninterrupted coverage of the Gaza war. – Washington Post

Residents across Nur Shams accused the Israeli army of using brutal tactics during its raid on militants last month. For more than 50 hours, starting April 18, people were trapped in their homes as electricity, water and internet to the area were cut off. – Washington Post

The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court issued a statement Friday asking that outside attempts to influence the court’s activities “cease immediately.” The request comes amid consternation among Israeli officials and their supporters over reports that the court is considering arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Washington Post

The leader of the World Food Program said that parts of the Gaza Strip are experiencing a “full-blown famine” that is spreading across the territory after almost seven months of war that have made delivering aid extremely challenging. – New York Times

A Palestinian doctor from the Gaza Strip, detained by Israeli forces and held for four months, has died in detention, Palestinian officials and detainee rights groups say. – New York Times

Israel’s military said on Monday it had begun encouraging residents of Rafah to evacuate the southern Gazan city as part of a ‘limited scope’ operation, but did not immediately confirm media reports this was part of preparation for a ground assault. – Reuters

The U.S. military said on Friday it was temporarily pausing the offshore construction of a maritime pier because of weather conditions and instead would continue building it at the Israeli port of Ashdod. – Reuters

Britain on Friday imposed sanctions on two “extremist” groups and four individuals in Israel who it blamed for violence in the West Bank, its latest package of measures against Israeli settlers. – Reuters

A senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander who led the terror group’s elite forces into Israel during the October 7 massacre was killed in an Israeli airstrike Saturday, defense officials said. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Mr. Biden’s strategy of pressuring Israel to make concessions that its government and citizens are united against hasn’t worked. It hasn’t won concessions from Hamas and its allies in Iran and Lebanon. And it hasn’t tamed the anti-Israel protests in the U.S. that threaten his re-election. Mr. Biden was in a stronger position, politically and strategically, when he spoke with moral clarity about Hamas and in support of Israel after Oct. 7. The fastest way to end the war is with an Israeli victory, and withholding weapons is exactly the wrong message to send an ally under siege. – Wall Street Journal

Elliot Kaufman writes:  The only way Hamas takes a deal is if Mr. Biden guarantees it victory or Israel leaves it no other choice to stave off defeat. But the president stands in the way of Israel’s military and gives Hamas reason to expect to win even without a deal. Mr. Biden’s errors have made this war longer and bloodier than it had to be, increasing the suffering of Gazan civilians while keeping Israel from realizing its objectives. He has no one to blame for the political costs he bears but himself. – Wall Street Journal

Andy Kessler writes: Sure, I’m thinking way ahead, but a Hamas-free Gaza might be the perfect test bed for oil-free economic upside in the Middle East. The Gaza Strip has a population of two million, the West Bank another three million. An Israeli effort to educate a workforce to hire into high-tech factories—semiconductors as well as defense—could go a long way toward establishing a friendly, prosperous neighbor and future ally. It will take a lot of work, but it’s worth it. – Wall Street Journal

Nicholas Kristof writes: I’ve criticized the way Israel has conducted the war in Gaza and President Biden’s strong support for it, for a child is killed or injured in the war every 10 minutes, according to the United Nations. More than 14,000 children have been killed in the war, according to the Gaza health authorities. But that’s a number; this photo captures a preventable tragedy. – New York Times

Iran

Iran has released the crew of a container ship with links to Israel that it had detained last month, but is continuing to hold the vessel, the country’s foreign minister has said, according to Iranian media. – New York Times

The historic Kashan bazaar in central Iran once sat on a major caravan route, its silk carpets known the world over. But for the weavers trying to sell their rugs under its ancient arches, their world has only unraveled since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers and wider tensions with the West. – Associated Press

A new Iranian law is tightening restrictions on women in the Islamic Republic. The initiative, known as Noor – “light” in Farsi – increases the government crackdown on women who don’t cover their hair, including punishing business owners who allow women not to wear the hijab on their premises. – Jerusalem Post

Marc Champion writes: None of this aims to belittle the suffering in Gaza, or to excuse Israeli actions, or indeed US examples of hypocrisy. Rather than an exercise in “whataboutism,” it’s meant as an appeal to not treat this conflict as a simple tale of good guys and bad guys, colonial oppressors and the oppressed. There certainly are innocent victims — far too many of them. But these are the Palestinian and Israeli non-combatants who have been killed, maimed, raped or forced from their homes. For the rest, there are no heroes to be found here. It is a rogues gallery of ruthlessly cynical ideologues using Gaza to cloak their own long record of crimes against humanity. – Bloomberg

Ari Heistein writes: The lack of clear guidance from the political echelon charged with overseeing the defense establishment also runs the risk of strategic drift into entanglements with less important adversaries and distracting from the most dangerous foes. After Netanyahu’s understanding of Israel’s strategic environment imploded on October 7, he should approach all previous assumptions with renewed skepticism.Until the Government of Israel can delineate clearer strategic aims in which it can anchor its policy toward the Iran threat network, Israeli national security policy will remain adrift. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

With the annual celebration of its victory over Nazi Germany and President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fifth term just ahead, Russia has mounted a month-long exhibition of military equipment captured in the war in Ukraine with the message that even as it fights the entire “collective West,” victory is inevitable. – Washington Post

This confusion, and the lengthy, difficult process of obtaining official declaration of the deaths, is far from isolated and has emerged as another painful consequence of the two-year-old war. Families, lawyers and rights groups say that the Ukrainian military is simply overloaded with casualties and unable to account for thousands of the dead, adding to the anguish of soldiers’ families. – New York Times

American officials are trying to increase international pressure on Russia not to deploy an antisatellite nuclear weapon in space, and have obtained information that undermines Moscow’s explanation that the device it is developing is for peaceful scientific purposes, a senior State Department official said on Friday. – New York Times

A Russian drone attack temporarily disrupted power supply to parts of Ukraine’s northeast region of Sumy, officials said on Monday, after Kyiv said its air defence forces downed 12 attack drones in the region overnight. – Reuters

Russian attacks on Orthodox Easter Sunday killed a woman buried under rubble and injured 24 in Ukraine’s northeastern city of Kharkiv and the surrounding region, regional officials said. – Reuters

Russia will have to increase its entire missile arsenal to deter the West as Moscow is now in an open confrontation with the United States and its allies, a Russian diplomat was quoted as saying on Monday. – Reuters

Ukraine’s central bank introduced its largest wartime currency liberalization measures on Friday aimed at easing restrictions for businesses, more than two years after Russia’s invasion prompted the imposition of tough restrictions. – Reuters

A Russian military court sentenced an anti-war activist in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk to 15 years in prison on Friday for crimes including setting fire to a military commissariat and desecrating the graves of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. – Reuters

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said his troops had taken control of 547 square kilometres (211 square miles) of territory this year in what he called Russia’s “new regions,” a reference to four Ukrainian regions that Moscow says it has annexed. – Reuters

During Putin’s two-and-a-half decade rule, Russia has sought to build state-owned champions and at times used the criminal justice system to hand assets to Kremlin allies. That has accelerated after Russia invaded Ukraine, which caused a rupture in relations with the West and increased pressure on private businesses to publicly support the war. – Bloomberg

Iraq

Turkey’s military has “neutralised” 32 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) across various regions of northern Iraq, the Defence Ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

The government at one point considered using Iraq to process asylum seekers in a Rwanda-style scheme, according to documents seen by Sky News. This could have seen people sent from the UK to a country the government advises against all travel to. – Sky News

Michael Knights writes: Another more obvious interpretation is that IRI’s infographic is just inaccurate, a conclusion supported by its omission of any Jordan strikes. IRI has no motive to “go easy” on Jordan, especially now that one of its member militias—Kataib Hezbollah—is actively threatening the Hashemite Kingdom. In the past, however, IRI has seemingly tried to be accurate with its metrics to avoid being accused of over-claiming attacks. The reason for the Jordan omission is therefore unclear at the moment, though it likely points to some noteworthy dynamic within the terrorist collective and its media wings that will become more apparent over time. – Washington Institute

Turkey

Turkey said on Friday that it would suspend all trade with Israel until there was a “permanent cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip, the latest international sanction against Israel and one that underscores the mounting global pressure to end the war in the territory. – New York Times

Credit ratings agency S&P on Friday upgraded Turkey’s ratings to “B+” from “B”, saying that the coordination between monetary, fiscal, and income policy is set to improve, amid external rebalancing. – Reuters

Turkish exporters with firm orders are looking at ways to send their goods to Israel via third countries after Turkey halted bilateral trade, four export company owners told Reuters, saying the decision had caught them by surprise. – Reuters

Israel on Friday said it would limit Turkish trade with the Palestinian Authority and seek sanctions against Ankara in response to Turkey’s decision to halt all trade with Israel. – Times of Israel

Lebanon

An Israeli airstrike killed four members of a family in a house in a border village in southern Lebanon on Sunday, civil defence and security sources said. – Reuters

The IDF struck a military compound belonging to Hezbollah in Sefri, near Baalbek, in eastern Lebanon early Monday morning, according to the IDF. – Jerusalem Post

Several rockets fell inside Kiryat Shmona following the rocket warning sirens that were activated when a barrage of 16 Katyusha rockets was fired from Lebanon early Sunday afternoon. Three people were injured in the attack, and there was direct damage in the city, including a building. Power outages also are reported throughout the city. – Ynet

Yemen

Yemen’s Houthis will target ships heading to Israeli ports in any area that is within their range, military spokesman Yahya Sarea said in a televised speech on Friday. – Reuters

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militia, which has disrupted global shipping to display its support for Palestinians in the Gaza conflict, is now offering a place for students suspended from U.S. universities after staging anti-Israeli protests. – Reuters

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are working with a feared local branch of Al-Qaeda in a partnership that risks further destabilising the impoverished and conflict-torn country. – The Telegraph

Saudi Arabia

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan insisted the Biden administration will enter into a defense pact with Saudi Arabia only if the kingdom normalizes relations with Israel, the Financial Times reported. – Bloomberg

Manahel al-Otaibi was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment by a secret court in Saudi Arabia for “her choice of clothing and support for women’s rights,” according to international media reports from the last week. – Jerusalem Post

The United States cannot move forward on a defense pact with Saudi Arabia unless the deal also includes a normalization agreement with Israel, US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post

Daniel Byman, Doreen Horschig, and Elizabeth Kos write: The stakes of U.S. policy toward a Saudi nuclear program extend beyond the kingdom itself, and even the Middle East. Washington’s strategy this time will set a precedent that could apply to other countries, such as South Korea and Germany, that may seek to expand their own civilian nuclear programs. Saying yes to one ally makes it harder to say no to others. Washington must proceed knowing that the outcome of these negotiations could do more than upend the regional balance of power. It might also change the global nuclear calculus. – Foreign Affairs

Gulf States

The U.S. has asked the Persian Gulf state of Qatar to expel Hamas’s political leadership if the group doesn’t agree to a Gaza cease-fire deal in high-stakes talks under way in Cairo, an official from the region said. – Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon is shifting jet fighters, armed drones and other aircraft to Qatar, repositioning its forces to get around restrictions on conducting airstrikes from an air base long used by the U.S. in the United Arab Emirates. – Wall Street Journal

After more than a decade in jail, Mr. Fateel was released in a mass pardon in April that included more than 1,500 prisoners — the largest pardon since the reign of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain began in 1999. – New York Times

Korean Peninsula

For the first time since leader Kim Jong Un took power in 2011, North Koreans were asked to take loyalty oaths on his birthday, a South Korean research institute said, amid other steps the country is taking to solidify his rule. – Reuters

South Korea’s market watchdog said on Monday it had found breaches of short-selling rules by seven more banks in the domestic stock market as part of a full-scale investigation into trading practices at foreign investment banks. – Reuters

Efforts led by the U.S. and other Western countries to form new groups to monitor sanctions on North Korea will fail, the country’s U.N. envoy said on Sunday, according to state media KCNA. – Reuters

Indonesia has proposed to cut its share of payments for a joint fighter jet development project with South Korea to about one-third of the originally agreed amount, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Monday. – Reuters

South Korea has announced a crackdown on “shrinkflation”, saying producers of food and daily necessities must inform shoppers of any reduction to their product sizes or face fines. – Financial Times

China

In explaining China’s recent export surge, which has alarmed business leaders and politicians in the U.S. and Europe, many have blamed the country’s lavish manufacturing subsidies and bulging industrial capacity. But there is another factor at play: China’s currency, and inflation—or its absence. – Wall Street Journal

Women in Shanghai, and some of China’s other biggest cities, are negotiating the fragile terms of public expression at a politically precarious moment. China’s ruling Communist Party has identified feminism as a threat to its authority. Female rights activists have been jailed. – New York Times

Often considered a safe investment during times of geopolitical and economic turmoil, gold has soared in price in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war in Gaza. But gold’s climb to highs above $2,400 per ounce has proved more resilient, and lasted longer, because of China. – New York Times

The European Union launched an investigation into China’s procurement of medical devices on Wednesday in a latest effort to protect home-grown manufacturers. – Reuters

President Xi Jinping lauded China’s ties with France as an international model on Sunday as he arrived in Paris for a rare visit against a backdrop of mounting trade disputes with the EU. – Reuters

The United States is using the threat of secondary sanctions against Chinese businesses seen as engaging with Russia as a “pretext” to try and contain Beijing, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday. – Reuters

Editorial: Hong Kong has issued bounties for the arrest of exiles in the West who have criticized the city’s government, and in recent years the FBI has targeted Chinese efforts against dissidents and political opponents in New York and New Jersey. Episodes like Mr. Loughton’s are likely to become more frequent as China uses its financial and military clout to put more countries in its political orbit. Beijing wants to censor critics around the world, and Western countries are going to need a strategy in response that involves more than pounding on the table and issuing a press release. – Wall Street Journal

Rory Truex writes: China is a formidable geopolitical rival. But there is no world in which garlic, “Barbie” or a tutoring site poses meaningful threats to American national security. Labeling them as such reveals a certain lack of seriousness in our policy discourse. If the United States is to properly compete with China, it’s going to require healthy, balanced policymaking that protects U.S. national security without compromising core American values. – New York Times

Niall Fergurson writes: I can’t believe I ever thought that China would win the artificial intelligence race with the US, but I did, along with many people with greater expertise, and that was just stupid. I underestimated the extent to which reliance on foreign suppliers for the most sophisticated semiconductors was China’s Achilles’ heel, just as the Soviets could compete on nukes but not semis — a key point in Miller’s outstanding book Chip War. – Bloomberg

Quinn Marschik writes: A peaceful Indo-Pacific hinges on the United States and China learning to live with one another, not more expansive security relationships. While centered on China, expanding these relationships without care for vital U.S. interests puts national security in danger. The Biden administration’s persistence in defining international affairs as a grand struggle between democracies and autocracies and the cornerstone of its regional partnerships makes the situation worse. In response, Beijing increasingly sees U.S. policy as a threat to its sovereignty. – The National Interest

South Asia

Despite the ragtag conditions, rebel drone units have managed to upend the power balance in Myanmar. By most measures, the military that wrested power from a civilian administration in Myanmar three years ago is far bigger and better equipped than the hundreds of militias fighting to reclaim the country. The junta has at its disposal Russian fighter jets and Chinese missiles. – New York Times

Manipulated videos are taking centre stage as campaigning heats up in India’s election, opens new tab, with fake clips involving two top aides of Prime Minister Narendra Modi triggering police investigations and the arrest of some workers of his rival Congress party. – Reuters

An International Monetary Fund mission is expected to visit Pakistan this month to discuss a new programme, the lender said on Sunday ahead of Islamabad beginning its annual budget-making process for the next financial year. – Reuters

Police in Vietnam have arrested the former head of the government office, Mai Tien Dung, on suspicion of abuse of power, the Ministry of Public Security said on Saturday, amid a widening anti-graft crackdown in the Southeast Asian country. – Reuters

 Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar rejected U.S. President Joe Biden’s comment that “xenophobia” was hobbling the South Asian nation’s economic growth, The Economic Times reported on Saturday. – Reuters

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi will contest the general election from the family bastion in the north, his Congress party announced on Friday, a move that will challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a region he dominates. – Reuters

An Indian Air Force member died after a convoy was attacked by militants in the Northern state of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, as the state gears up for elections this month. – Bloomberg

Rana Ayyub writes: The only way is to exercise your right to free speech and independence, come what may. Journalists in India are lucky that a number of lawyers, including some of our top lawyers, are coming forward to appear pro bono in their defense. I think we can maintain our independence, whatever pressure comes at us. – Washington Post

Shuli Ren writes: In many developing nations, a little bit of corruption can grease the wheels of commerce, and the lack of it stalls progress. Hanoi may want “bamboo diplomacy” and more friends than foes, as Vietnam becomes more dependent on China. But its internal politics are only turning the northern part of the country into a de-facto Chinese province. – Bloomberg

Asia

As tensions flared over disputed territory in the Caucasus region in the summer of 2020, Azerbaijan’s squadron of high-priced Washington lobbyists scrambled to pin the blame on neighboring Armenia and highlight its connections to Russia. – New York Times

During a military exercise with the Philippines that began last month, the U.S. Army deployed a new type of covert weapon that is designed to be hidden in plain sight. – New York Times

U.S. and Philippine armed forces fired missiles and artillery to thwart a simulated invasion in the Philippines’ northern waters facing Taiwan on Monday, in a show of military force and strengthening ties as regional tensions rise. – Reuters

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Monday the country will not use water cannons or any offensive weapons in the South China Sea. – Reuters

New Zealand said on Saturday that its Antarctic agency signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute to foster cooperation between the two polar science bodies, amid China’s growing presence in Antarctica. – Reuters

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze rejected on Friday criticism from the United States and European Union of a draft “foreign agents” law, saying opponents of the bill were unwilling to engage in a meaningful discussion. – Reuters

Editorial: On Thursday White House press secretary tried to clean up after Mr. Biden’s remarks, as she so often must. “He was saying that when it comes to who we are as a nation, we are a nation of immigrants, that is in our DNA,” she told reporters aboard Air Force One, adding Mr. Biden was making a “broad comment” in his comments about Japan and India. Broad enough to be insulting for sure. We hope our Japanese friends let Mr. Biden’s comment slide. The President is liable to say anything these days when he isn’t reading from a teleprompter, and often when he is. – Wall Street Journal

David J. Kramer and Ian Kelly write: Real costs must be imposed. The United States and European Union should immediately impose sanctions on those responsible for using threats and violence against those who want Georgia to join the democratic West. They should begin with the oligarch Ivanishvili, who is seeking to seize all the reins of power and thwart the Georgian people’s aspirations. Doing so may be the only way to stop the country’s rapid slide into an authoritarian regime modeled on Putin’s Russia. – The Hill

Europe

Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s first visit to Europe in nearly five years is shaping up as a test of the continent’s willingness to confront Beijing over its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as Chinese trade policies that have eviscerated critical European industries. – Wall Street Journal

In France, government authorities are stepping in to draw the line. Courts have ruled that public speech condoning the Oct. 7 attack or legitimizing Hamas as a resistance movement amounts to condoning terrorism—a crime under French law, punishable by up to seven years in prison. – Wall Street Journal

As the results of local elections across England and Wales were tallied Friday, they painted a bleak picture for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ruling Conservative Party and its prospects of holding on to power this year. – Washington Post

Thousands of Hungarians protested against nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a rally on Sunday weeks ahead of European Parliament and local elections due in early June. – Reuters

Poland wants “the best possible relations with America, regardless of who is in power,” Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said during a visit to Washington, according to a report by Poland’s PAP newswire on Sunday. – Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Union leaders denounced on Saturday a recent spate of attacks on politicians in Germany, including one that sent a member of the European Parliament to hospital with serious injuries. – Reuters

Human rights group Asylum Aid said on Friday it had launched a legal challenge against the British government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak aims to launch within weeks. – Reuters

Chinese leader Xi Jinping will spend the bulk of his five-day tour in Europe this week in two small countries at the continent’s eastern half, a region that Beijing has used as a foothold for its expanding economic ambitions in Europe. – Associated Press

A well-known British Palestinian surgeon who volunteered in Gaza hospitals said he was denied entry to France on Saturday to speak at a French Senate meeting about the Israel-Hamas war. – Associated Press

Martin Ivens writes: Rallings and Thrasher’s analysis also implies that the voters will behave the same way in the local elections and the nationals; they often don’t. As for Sunak, the impending general election and the perceived illegitimacy of installing a third Tory prime minister in a row without consulting the voters may keep him safe. Sunak has a few months more to live with all his difficulties. – Bloomberg

Gonzalo Vazquez writes: Ultimately, these growing capabilities should make the alliance’s Northern Flank a tough nut to crack. Norway’s new defense pledge sets a positive example at a time when “the alliance and its navies are entering a period of much-need revitalization.” It encourages other European navies to follow suit and develop the necessary capabilities for high-intensity warfare, and prepare their military postures for the return of great power competition. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Rauf Mammadov writes: The integration of the whole of the South Caucasus into Europe’s sphere of influence poses even more considerable challenges for both the United States and the European Union. A key consideration for the West will be to remain mindful of actions that could alienate any of the South Caucasus countries during this process. The successful integration of the region into the European community will heavily rely on reducing its economic and, especially, energy dependence on Russia. Thus, to achieve this, the West may find greatest success by promoting energy projects aimed at enhancing connectivity among all three South Caucasus republics. – Middle East Institute

Gesine Weber write: A strong, proactive, and engaged France will be critical for designing the future of the European security order. But Macron will need partners for co-leadership in Europe just as much as Europeans need France. Consequently, Europeans would be well advised to give France credit for its strategic change, and to start reflections for concrete steps based on this instead of a cliché-based view of a foreign policy that no longer exists. – War on the Rocks

Africa

Held captive by his former security guards in an isolated wing of his house, the deposed president of Niger paces a bedroom with no direct daylight, cut off from the world and unable to talk to his lawyers, according to people with direct knowledge of the conditions of his detention. – New York Times

Russian military personnel have entered an air base in Niger that is hosting U.S. troops, a senior U.S. defense official told Reuters, a move that follows a decision by Niger’s junta to expel U.S. forces. – Reuters

Rwanda on Saturday denied U.S. accusations that its forces attacked a displaced persons’ camp in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and instead blamed militias it said were supported by the Congolese military for the assault. – Reuters

Togo’s ruling party has won 108 out of 113 seats in parliament, according to the final provisional results of last month’s legislative election announced on Friday. – Reuters

At least 1,000 Sudanese refugees have fled a camp run by the United Nations in northern Ethiopia following a series of shootings and robberies, three of the refugees and the United Nations said. – Reuters

Violence around the city of al-Fashir in Darfur, Sudan, has blocked a recently opened humanitarian corridor from Chad and time is running out to prevent starvation in the vast region, the U.N. World Food Programme said on Friday. – Reuters

Following an appeal from the United Nations, South Sudan removed recently imposed taxes and fees that had triggered suspension of U.N. food airdrops. Thousands of people in the country depend on aid from the outside. – Associated Press

Mozambique’s ruling party chose Daniel Chapo as its new leader, making the provincial governor the clear frontrunner to succeed President Filipe Nyusi after Oct. 9 elections. – Bloomberg

Cameron Hudson writes: Washington has long struggled to strike a balance between protecting its position and advancing democratic values in Africa. For it to succeed, it must recognize that in this era of geopolitical choice, it can no longer dictate the terms of its partnerships with African states. If it does, it will find itself increasingly alone and unable to advance either its interests or its values on this increasingly strategic continent. – New York Times

Jihad Mashamoun writes: At the same time, the civilian movement Taqaddum also has a responsibility to do its part to end the civil war and bring about a credible interim government. Having the FFC parties hold internal leadership elections would be a step in the right direction and would go a long way toward helping the coalition to regain its credibility. Some FFC members are seen as close to Hemedti and the RSF, which both Burhan and his allies among members of the former regime have used as ammunition to undermine any hopes among Sudanese of a real transition to democracy. – Middle East Institute

Joshua Hammer writes: For Putin, Wagner’s expansion across Africa has provided an opportunity to stick it to his Western foes. “The Russians are good chess players,” Pham said, “and for an investment of next to nothing, they have dealt France a bitter blow and have gotten us distracted to no end.” But David Ottaway, a former Washington Post foreign correspondent and now a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., told me that Russia may come to regret its growing presence in the Sahel. The latest Western-Russian showdown, he said, smacks of the proxy wars that he covered in Ethiopia, Angola, and other Cold War battlegrounds. – The Atlantic 

The Americas

Panamanians on Sunday elected José Raúl Mulino, a former public security minister, as their next president, in the culmination of an election cycle that has been embroiled in political turmoil. – New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Guatemala on Tuesday to lead a delegation to the a ministerial meeting of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, the State Department said on Sunday. – Reuters

Ammunition and weapons missing from Colombia’s army are far less than figures reported by President Gustavo Petro this week, a military report seen by Reuters showed, contradicting his assertions about the loss of Israeli-made anti-tank missiles. – Reuters

Venezuelan opposition candidate Edmundo Gonzalez said on Friday that President Nicolas Maduro’s government would have already banned him from public office if it had been planning on blocking his presidential candidacy. – Reuters

Gisela Salim-Peyer writes: The dispute over Essequibo has had the effect not of changing the territory but of making change there difficult. Maybe that’s why many residents I spoke with seemed to feel less angry than resigned. “They’re just there. It’s like my neighbors,” Euliene Watson said of Venezuela. “If they’re good neighbors, you’re happy. If they’re not good neighbors, there’s nothing much you can do about them. How do you live with them?” – The Atlantic 

North America

Canadian police charged three men in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh activist who Canada’s prime minister has suggested was killed with the help of Indian government agents. – Wall Street Journal

The June 2 presidential election is shaping up as a clash over the very identity of Mexico, a nation of 130 million that’s intimately linked to the United States by trade, migration and culture. Is Mexico a young democracy sliding back toward authoritarian rule? Or a country that was never all that democratic — but finally has a government that looks out for the little guy? – Washington Post

Three bodies were found in Baja California, Mexico, during a search for three missing men, including one American, the state’s top prosecutor’s office announced Friday. – Washington Post

Months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada accused India’s government of plotting a murder on Canadian soil — plunging diplomatic relations between the two countries to their lowest level ever — the first arrests in the killing, which came on Friday, did little to demystify the basis of his claim. – New York Times

An official probe found evidence of foreign interference in Canada’s last two federal elections but the results of the votes were not affected and the electoral system was robust, according to initial findings released on Friday. – Reuters

United States

At least three synagogues and a museum in New York received bomb threats on Saturday but none were deemed credible by the New York Police Department, a city official and police said. – Reuters

The episodes reflect the extreme measures taken by countries like China and Iran to intimidate, harass and sometimes plot attacks against political opponents and activists who live in the U.S. – Associated Press

Editorial: The Republican-controlled House is unlikely to take up a reform bill before the end of the year, but perhaps there’s an opening for bipartisanship. The best vehicle would be an amendment to the must-pass national defense reauthorization bill, as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) have discussed. It would be wise to modernize this law even if there were no chance of Mr. Trump’s election. Since there is a chance, it seems essential. – Washington Post

Max M. Schanzenbach writes: Instead of trying to debate the merits or achieve consensus around BDS, perhaps now is a good moment for university fiduciaries to re-embrace higher education as the actual charitable purpose of a university and invest solely for that mission. If only out of trustees’ self interest, if not that of higher education, they should give protesters a hard no. – Wall Street Journal

Jason Isaac writes: If Biden were serious about protecting the environment and rebuilding the economy, he wouldn’t be attacking the energy producers we depend on. Instead, he should let the free market continue to drive both prosperity and environmental quality — two worthy goals that America has already proven go hand in hand. – The Hill

Patrick White and Erik Cothron write: Recently enacted funding reflects a promising direction, showcasing a collective bipartisan recognition of the urgency and importance of securing our nuclear fuel supply. We have an unprecedented opportunity to reshape our energy landscape, making it more secure, sustainable, and capable of meeting our pressing climate and energy demands. However, to fully realize this potential, it’s essential that we not only harness this opportunity with the urgency it demands but also keep a clear focus on the next steps that must be taken to achieve a clean, reliable, and affordable energy future. – The National Interest

Cybersecurity

Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has long shielded it from incoming rockets. Now it is building a “cyber dome” to defend against online attacks, especially from arch-foe Iran. – Agence France-Presse

A pair of far-right media outlets’ websites were hacked and defaced late Thursday, with subscriber and other internal site data leaked as part of an apparent politically motivated attack. – Cyberscoop

Hackers connected to the government of North Korea are exploiting loopholes in email security systems to send spoofed messages that look legitimate, allowing them to pose as journalists or academics. – The Record

Ukraine’s government is reporting an increase in financially motivated cyberattacks conducted by previously unidentified hackers associated with Russia. – The Record

Ethan Zuckerman writes: Should the court in California rule in our favor, my lab will release Unfollow Everything 2.0 at no charge, and users will have the chance to participate in a study to examine whether their use of Facebook changes with the tool and whether they feel in more command of their experience. A healthy internet is a balance between the intentions of the powerful companies that run it and the individuals who use it. Giving users more control is important to establishing more of an equilibrium in an online world that is increasingly out of kilter. – New York Times

David Fickling writes: But the situation at the dawn of the colonial era in 1750, when Mughal India and Qing China each accounted for more than a quarter of the world’s industrial production, seems a much more plausible outcome for the 21st century than one where protectionism in one great power cuts another one off from the rest of the world. Washington’s accustomed hegemony may be harder to maintain in a future where multiple continent-sized industrial economies are jostling for primacy. Still, it will be all but impossible if America retreats into an isolationist shell. – Bloomberg

Defense

But the aerial combat that followed was unlike any other: This F-16 was controlled by artificial intelligence, not a human pilot. And riding in the front seat was Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall. – Defense News

The U.S. Air Force wants to have its Integrated Capabilities Command up and running by the end of 2024, the service’s chief of staff told reporters Thursday. – Defense News

The US Marine Corps is planning to field a trio of mobile, ground-based air defense systems over the next year, including a modified Iron Dome launcher — and at least two will be bound for the Indo-Pacific region. – Breaking Defense

Long War

Suspected members of the Islamic State group attacked three posts for Syrian government forces and pro-government gunmen early Friday killing at least 13, an opposition war monitor and pro-government media reported. – Associated Press

Jovokhir Attoev, a 33-year-old man originally from Uzbekistan, has been detained in Baltimore for alleged ISIS-ties, according to media reports from the last week. – Jerusalem Post

But today, nearly 10,000 ISIS fighters remain jailed inside Syrian detention centers. Human rights groups call conditions in the prisons abusive, and local authorities warn they are a breeding ground for radicalization and could help spark an ISIS revival. – PBS