Fdd's overnight brief

May 7, 2021

In The News


The United States and Iran could each come back into compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal within weeks, a senior State Department official said on Thursday, on the eve of what could be a final round of negotiations before an agreement is brokered. – New York Times

Karen Kramer writes: Access to the internet is a fundamental right—and access to international communications tools and services is central to protecting it. If individuals risk arrest and imprisonment for accessing a foreign news website, downloading a video of a protest, or sharing information on a human rights violation, they are being deprived of a basic right. Ultimately, such access is critical to countering repressive states’ relentless efforts to control the public space the internet has become. – Foreign Policy

John Hannah writes: Reaching the conclusion that their best ally, the United States, has chosen a course the Israelis fervently believe will end up increasing that threat rather than containing it will only confirm their view that Israel is on its own when it comes to stopping Iran’s march to the bomb—and that its operational planning to act military to defeat it must be accelerated. […]Despite all the Biden administration’s best intentions, the risk of war in the Middle East is almost certainly now rising. Biden and his advisors would be wise to take heed. – Foreign Policy

Wang Xiyue writes: The Biden administration should secure the release of American hostages in Iran from a position of strength. They should understand that it is the Iranian regime that is strained and tottering on the brink of crisis. They should communicate to the regime that releasing all American hostages without monetary gain is a necessary precondition for re-entering the nuclear deal. For the safety and well-being of American citizens, and for the security and stability of the Middle East, the Biden administration should not authorize the release of any frozen Iranian assets to the Islamic Republic if it is conditional on the release of American hostages. – Newsweek

Danielle Pletka writes: The Biden administration promised a go-slow approach to re-entering the JCPOA; insisted that no sanctions would be lifted before Iran returns to full compliance with the deal; told Congress that the original deal was not good enough, and that there would need to be an “Iran deal plus.” The exact opposite appears to be the case. And the administration appears to be skirting U.S. law to relax sanctions pressure on Tehran to further encourage a quick return to the deal. In September of 2020, Joe Biden labeled Donald Trump a liar. What’s now clear is that he is also being economical with the truth. – The Dispatch


The U.N. disarmament chief reported the discovery of an undeclared chemical warfare agent at a Syrian site to a Security Council meeting Thursday where the United States and its Western allies clashed with Russia over international findings that Syria has used chemical weapons. – Associated Press

Moscow has hit back at a Pentagon report criticizing the actions of Russian troops in Syria. – Newsweek

Zvi Bar’el writes: But if a process of rebuilding Syria ever gets underway, the refugees could be an engine of economic growth and help the country rise from the rubble of war. For that to happen, a major international undertaking is required that injects billions of dollars into rebuilding infrastructure, factories and hundreds of thousands of homes. Without that, the refugees will continue to rely on international aid and allowances provided by their host countries, many of whom are showing signs of fatigue and impatience. – Haaretz


The number of Afghans arriving in Turkey has soared over the last seven years as the United States and NATO forces have wound down their military presence. With the Taliban gaining strength and the last American forces preparing to leave this summer, more turmoil could force an even greater exodus, according to refugee officials and the migrants themselves. – New York Times

Turkey’s foreign minister will visit Saudi Arabia for talks next week, officials told Reuters, as Ankara ramps up efforts to overcome a rift since the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. – Reuters

Relations between Turkey and the European Union are looking better in 2021 after a difficult year last year, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday. – Reuters

Yörük Işık writes: To protect transatlantic security and the alliance itself, the United States must engage at the highest level to bring Turkey back in from the cold. Aside from the S-400s and F-35s, other problems have emerged in recent years that must be addressed, starting with the countries’ respective policies in Syria. Without such high-level dialogue, opportunities will be missed and Russia will keep exploiting the void. – Middle East Institute


France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain urged Israel on Thursday to halt settlement-building in the occupied West Bank. – Reuters

Palestinians and Israeli settlers hurled rocks and chairs at each other in a tense east Jerusalem neighborhood on Thursday before Israeli police moved in to separate them, arresting at least seven people. – Associated Press

Three terrorists with guns fired shots at the Salem Border Police base in the northern West Bank on Friday morning before being shot by officers. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF mapped the house of the Palestinian terrorist who carried out the deadly Tapuah Junction drive-by shooting attack on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli security forces have increased their alert level, as a number of flashpoint events centered around Jerusalem are set to take place next week. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF carried out attacks against Hezbollah outposts near Quneitra on the Syrian border Wednesday night, according to Syrian reports cited by Israeli media. – Jerusalem Post

At least six brush fires were ignited Thursday in southern Israel by balloons carrying incendiary devices that were launched from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, the fire department said. – Times of Israel

A watchdog group said that a US Senator missed hateful and inciting Palestinian educational materials by visiting a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) facility in Jordan, after the Connecticut Democrat said the Trump administration was “wrong” to withdraw funding for the body’s education programs, following a visit in Amman this week. – Algemeiner

David Makovsky writes: Netanyahu has always projected implacable opposition to the JCPOA, and although he has been decidedly less confrontational on this issue during the Biden administration, his posture may change if he is no longer prime minister. […]The coalition may not resort to the same confrontational tactics that Netanyahu used in 2015, but members are likely united in their desire to preserve Israel’s options for independent action if circumstances warrant it. – Washington Institute

Arabian Peninsula

After years of proxy warfare, Saudi Arabia’s secret talks with arch-rival Iran signal a high-wire diplomatic act as it scrambles to rein in Tehran-backed Yemeni rebels, although prospects of a breakthrough look remote. – Agence France-Presse

Nadwa Al-Dawsari writes: Over the past six years, Saudi military intervention has also failed to weaken the Houthis militarily and to compel the rebel group to come to the negotiation table in good faith. While Iran does not have a command-and-control relationship with the Houthis, the rebel group is part and parcel of Iran’s expansionist agenda. The two have their eyes on the prize, which is bringing the region under the control of Iran and its proxies, and they are in it for the long haul. Failing to recognize that will only lead to misguided policies that will likely contribute to prolonging the conflict in Yemen and fail to address the broader security threat posed by Iran in the region. – Middle East Institute

Editorial: Taking the city would strengthen their bargaining position. But it will not be easy. Marib’s defenders and most of its inhabitants detest the Houthis’ politics and reject their religious beliefs. The open ground around the city makes the attackers easy targets for Saudi jets. Like the war more broadly, the battle for Marib could be long and bloody. – The Economist

Gulf States

Qatar’s finance minister has been arrested for questioning over allegations of abuse of power and the misuse of public funds, in an unprecedented move by authorities in the gas-rich Gulf state as part of its drive to boost transparency and clamp down on corruption. – Financial Times

The head of the Mossad intelligence agency visited Bahrain for talks with officials on Thursday, the Bahrain state-run news agency reported. – Associated Press

Mohamed al Khaja writes: Our governments have paved the way for us, and now it is the turn of our peoples. Prejudice must not prevent Israeli citizens from realizing boundless opportunities here in the UAE. The citizens of the UAE will make you feel at home. I am sure the citizens of Israel will also welcome UAE citizens with open arms. – Ynet

Middle East & North Africa

With no clear progress, Egyptian and Turkish officials concluded Thursday two days of talks in Cairo aimed at resetting ties between the two regional powers. In a joint statement, both sides vowed to evaluate the outcome of their first round of consultations before agreeing on the next move. – Associated Press

The Pentagon is rethinking what naval presence in the Middle East will look like after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year – in particular, carrier strike groups, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday. – USNI News

The former commander of U.S. naval forces in the Middle East is now leading the U.S. Pacific Fleet, according to the Navy. – USNI News

Morocco recalled its ambassador to Berlin for consultations on Thursday in protest at what it described as Germany’s “destructive attitude” towards Rabat’s position on the Western Sahara issue. – Reuters

Lebanon’s lights may go off this month because cash for electricity generation is running out, a lawmaker said on Thursday, as the country grapples with a deep economic crisis. – Reuters

Responding to viewer outrage, Iraq’s media regulator canceled a TV prank show that lured guests into simulated ambushes by militants, forcing participants and viewers to relive some of the terror and fear that were widespread under the rule of the Islamic State group. – Associated Press

Joshua Krasna writes: But perhaps most importantly, dissatisfaction with the government is diffuse, and there is no competing, alternative power center. This may be the significance of the Hamza episode: His contacts with various tribal leaders and open criticism of the government and indirectly of the king led to the perceived need to nip in the bud any sign of a challenge from within the ruling elites. If so, it would be unprecedented in Jordan, but certainly not in other Arab monarchies. – War on the Rocks

Jonathan Spyer writes: In many ways, the current orientations of Ankara and Tehran resemble one another. Both countries are the centers of former empires, both are governed by regimes combining political Islam with a type of imperial revanchism. Inherent in this for both countries is opposition to the declining US-led regional order, and a desire to gain from its retreat. At the present time, however, their projects are able mostly to co-exist, like parallel crescents. Anyone hoping that Ankara might be interested in the job of propping up the regional order against Iran is not looking close enough at the reality on the ground. – Jerusalem Post

Uzay Bulut writes: If there will ever be peace in the Middle East, it will be when the Palestinian-Arab leadership, as well as other Islamists such as Erdoğan’s government, are convinced that both Jews and Arabs have a right to independence in the Middle East. […]Denying ancient Jewish ties to Israel and its Jewish holy sites will never contribute to a peaceful resolution of the issue. It will only lead to further conflicts and tension in the region. – Arutz Sheva


The post on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China, could be read as a ham-handed attempt to be cute. But at a moment of heightened nationalism on the Chinese internet, it set off criticism — and accusations of racism — that were amplified by the ruling Communist Party’s formidable propaganda machine. – New York Times

Over the past decade, China has provided billions of dollars of subsidies to state-owned companies to acquire Western manufacturing rivals and to build factories beyond its own borders.  – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Space Command is tracking a large Chinese rocket booster that is tumbling uncontrollably through space and is expected to come crashing down to Earth sometime this weekend. – Washington Post

The top diplomats from China and the U.S. will showcase their diverging views on how to address regional and global crises at a United Nations Security Council event on Friday. – Bloomberg

The Biden administration is likely to maintain pressure on China by preserving limits on U.S. investments in certain Chinese companies imposed under former President Donald Trump, six people familiar with the matter said, bucking entreaties from Wall Street to ease the restrictions. – Bloomberg

China has moved a step closer towards a scheme that could result in tens of billions of dollars in household savings flowing into Hong Kong, marking the latest effort to integrate the country’s financial system into global markets. – Financial Times

China has accused G7 leaders of meddling in its internal affairs after the group of leading industrialised nations backed participation by Taiwan at World Heath Organization forums and criticised Beijing’s record on human rights and erosion of democracy in Hong Kong. – Financial Times

Multinational companies sponsoring the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games are evading questions about their participation as China comes under intense pressure over the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. – Financial Times

Editorial: But Ms. Merkel’s “change through trade” philosophy—something we once hoped for China—is out of date. Economic relations need to consider China’s often predatory mercantilism, IP theft and cyber spying. Beijing saw Europe’s snub of the new U.S. Administration last year as a major geopolitical victory. […]Winston Churchill may or not have said the famous line, “The Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.” But we’d understand if Mr. Biden feels the same way about his friends in Europe. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: The Chinese government won’t easily allow more access to the Wuhan lab, but the Biden administration must press it to do so. Meanwhile, the investigation can and must proceed now, here in the United States. It’s in everyone’s interest to keep politics out of it as much as possible, because solving the origin question is an urgent task for the security and public health of the entire world. – Washington Post

Robbie Gramer writes: It’s led to a curious phenomenon in Washington. Taiwan, even without formal diplomatic ties with the United States and no formal embassy—its diplomatic outpost in Washington is called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office—is rapidly gaining outsized diplomatic clout and sway inside the Beltway, something other U.S. allies with full-fledged embassies and ambassadors in Washington can only look on with a bit of jealousy. – Foreign Policy

Lewis Libby writes: Before Congress, President Biden boasted that America has returned to lead the world. To do that, we need to speak out forthrightly, to present plans to protect the country, and to muster a show of will to lead our allies. The world’s democracies need to hold the CCP accountable one way or another. Americans, the president said in his speech, haven’t flinched during this past year’s crisis. But perhaps he has. – National Review


The United States has continued limited air support to Afghan national security forces in recent days, launching a half-dozen airstrikes as Taliban fighters stepped up an offensive in the country’s south before the full withdrawal of American troops ordered by President Biden. – New York Times

Ultimately, newly declassified information shows, those analysts discovered a significant reason to believe the claim was accurate: Other members of the same Taliban-linked network had been working closely with operatives from a notorious unit of the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence service, known for assassination operations. – New York Times

Gunmen killed a former Afghan TV presenter on Thursday as he was travelling in the southern city of Kandahar, a provincial official said, adding to fears for press freedom in the war-wrecked country. – Associated Press

After nearly 20 years since the ouster of the Taliban and billions of dollars spent on infrastructure and aid, many Afghan women still have desperately poor access to health facilities and adequate health care, a leading rights group said Thursday. – Associated Press

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday predicted that the Taliban could overrun the Afghan government by the end of the year as U.S. troops withdraw. – The Hill

The U.S. military is considering continuing to train Afghan forces from different countries after U.S. troops fully withdraw from Afghanistan, the U.S. military’s top general said Thursday. – The Hill

Frerichs’s family is worried that with U.S. troops now beating a hasty retreat from Afghanistan, the efforts to free the Navy veteran may fall by the wayside. – Washington Examiner

Former President Donald Trump’s first Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, says she is not sure how the Defense Department will accomplish the coming mission, which senior military officials acknowledge will be challenging. And top Pentagon officials hand-picked by President Joe Biden can’t yet say either. – Washington Examiner

Taliban fighters have captured Afghanistan’s second-biggest dam and two Afghan Army bases, militants and officials said, as fighting escalates amid the ongoing pullout of U.S. and international forces from the war-wracked country. – Radio Free Afghanistan

South Asia

India on Thursday welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden’s support for a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines to help make them available to more people more quickly. – Reuters

The Maldives president said Friday an explosion that wounded former leader Mohamed Nasheed was an attack on the country’s democracy and economy, and announced that Australian police would assist the investigation. – Associated Press

But since the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a U.S. special forces raid inside a Pakistani garrison town in 2010, Islamabad has struggled in its attempts to portray itself as a victim rather than a perpetrator of terrorism. – Gandhara


Officials in Hong Kong are increasingly seizing on the label of “fake news,” a common authoritarian refrain. The city’s leader, Carrie Lam, said on Wednesday that the government was looking at laws to tackle “misinformation, hatred and lies.” – New York Times

Three months after Myanmar’s experiment in democracy was strangled by the generals’ power grab, the sense of foreboding has returned. There is no indication that it will ease. – New York Times

The Overwatch League today issued a statement announcing that the league’s four China-based teams will no longer boycott the Seoul Dynasty in any competitions or events. – Washington Post

New Zealand wants a more mature relationship with China that goes beyond trade ties and gives room for disagreement, particularly on issues of human rights, the Pacific nation’s foreign minister said on Friday. – Reuters

Michael Bloomberg, Henry Kissinger and Hank Paulson have picked Singapore over Beijing for their next annual conference on US-China relations. – Financial Times

Tajik authorities say 19 people were killed and 87 injured in clashes along a disputed segment of the border with Kyrgyzstan last week, in their first official data on the violence. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

After 20 years of counterinsurgency and low-end conflict in the Middle East, the Marines are rapidly retooling for a different kind of fight. – USNI News

Wendy Cutler and Kurt Tong write: New Zealand will host a pivotal APEC Leaders meeting in November, when it will announce a set of deliverables that matter greatly for the region. Washington has an important opportunity to help shape those outcomes by bringing ideas to the table now that reflect U.S. values and its agenda to advance the livelihood of the middle class through inclusion, climate change, and innovation. Washington can also lay plans for the future by reaching out now to Southeast Asian ally Thailand, the 2022 APEC chair, and by volunteering to host APEC 2023 in the United States. – The Hill

Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Laura Potter write: The United States can and should develop new platforms with better technology and enhanced intelligence capabilities, but it should also be clear-eyed about where and how it intends to employ those platforms to create enduring effects. […]However, war is won, and peace is preserved, on land. Army landpower needs to be in position to help decide the outcome. – War on the Rocks

Matthew P. Funaiole and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. write: While most major powers have condemned the Tatmadaw for the coup, Beijing has tiptoed around the issue. China’s key role as an arms supplier may serve to strengthen ties with the Myanmar military, especially as the Tatmadaw’s dismal human rights record is likely to leave it isolated from the international community. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Joseph Bermudez, Victor Cha and Jennifer Jun write: In 2020 alone, North Korea’s economy is estimated to have contracted by up to 10 percent, marking North Korea’s largest annual slide since the famine in 1992, when the economy shrank by 7.1 percent. Should it continue through the end of this year, the impact on the North Korean people and economy could be unprecedented. To better understand the situation on the ground, CSIS Beyond Parallel conducted a satellite imagery study of rail and vehicular traffic at the Dandong-Sinuiju ports of entry, which are often cited as important indicators of the health of Chinese-North Korean political relations and the economic cooperation between the two nations. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Amnesty International will next week announce it is reversing a decision to strip jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny of its “prisoner of conscience” status, a top aide said on Thursday. – Reuters

Lawyers of the Team 29 (Komanda 29) judicial group have appealed a decision to restrict the activities of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A Russian journalist labeled as a “foreign agent” has turned the tables on several local lawmakers in the northwestern region of Pskov, sending them money to make them associates. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Russian lawmakers to withdraw three bills under discussion, saying they “would add new dangerous tools” to an already “significant arsenal of legislative weapons” being used in the country’s crackdown on dissent. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Russian media outlet Vz.ru reported that Russia had, for the first time, surpassed the U.S. as a supplier of liquefied natural gas to Europe, and that this positive news for Russia meant that “our gas has once again proven its superiority.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Editorial: Mr. Putin also likes to learn repressive techniques from President Xi Jinping of China, whose government five years ago approved a “foreign agent” law to curtail and penalize nongovernmental organizations. […]Mr. Putin has dramatically escalated his pressure on civil society in recent months, attempting to assassinate Mr. Navalny and to destroy his organization. It’s a campaign that should not continue without consequences from Western governments. – Washington Post

Alexey Kovalev writes: Gone are the days when a top official whose corrupt dealings were exposed by independent journalists would be quietly demoted—after first being promoted or given an award so as not to create an impression the Kremlin could be pressured. Today, instead, a riot squad will be breaking down an editor’s door to confiscate all the journalist’s equipment and notes. But even if my mother was right after all, this is a turning point in Russian history. As a journalist, I’m compelled to stick around and record it—until the moment they come knocking on my door as well. – Foreign Policy


The U.K. sent two Royal Navy vessels to patrol water around the island of Jersey after French trawlers gathered there to protest restrictions on their fishing rights, a new sign of the tensions created by Britain’s split with the European Union. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told Ukraine’s president on Thursday that the United States strongly backed his country’s sovereignty against Russia’s military aggression but also warned that the embattled country was under threat from “internal forces,” including powerful oligarchs who thrive on corruption. – New York Times

A top European Union legal advisor argued Thursday Poland’s way of disciplining judges is contrary to EU law — a view the Polish government denounced as a politically motivated attack on the country’s sovereignty. – Associated Press

Pope Francis on Thursday denounced “aggressive” nationalism that rejects migrants, and said Catholics should follow the Gospel-mandated call for an inclusive, welcoming church that doesn’t distinguish between “natives and foreigners, residents and guests.” – Associated Press

German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in against a U.S. proposal to waive patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, casting doubt on whether the idea has enough international support to become a reality. – Bloomberg

The British government faced an angry backlash in Dublin and Belfast on Thursday after the leaking of its plans to cease the prosecution of those accused of violent crimes during the Northern Ireland Troubles. – Financial Times

Brussels has accused Britain of breaking the newly ratified EU-UK trade deal after French fishermen staged a seaborne protest outside Jersey’s main port over an escalating row over fishing rights that prompted London to send two naval vessels to the area. – Financial Times

Belarus’ exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called on the US Thursday to impose more sanctions so as to isolate President Alexander Lukashenko, whose election win Washington considers fraudulent. – Agence France-Presse

Latvia has recognized the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide, drawing an angry response from Turkey. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Dzyanis Urbanovich, a Belarusian opposition leader and no stranger to longtime leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s security apparatus and jails, was snatched off the streets of Minsk on April 21 and locked up in a prison that has become synonymous with torture. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Editorial: Resolution of the dispute over the status of the EU’s ambassador to London this week suggests at least some in Westminster seek a grown-up relationship. But all sides need to move from posturing to pragmatism, and develop a habit of resolving disputes not through gunboat diplomacy, but in a manner befitting mature democracies. – Financial Times

Therese Raphael writes: The Jersey dispute will be resolved without anyone turning out the lights or firing a shot. But it’s an example of the many U.K.-EU pressure points — from Northern Ireland to finance to fish — where relations can break down easily, adding uncertainty, or costs, to doing business. Each has the potential to blow up into a major political row or provoke serious trade reprisals. – Bloomberg

Robert Dalsjö and Michael Jonsson write: If NATO is to have a new lease on life, and if the southern members are to feel motivated to really engage and contribute, the alliance needs to address both these perspectives and to add substance to the slogan “NATO 360.” […]At the same time, the European allies need to adapt to the long-term shift in America’s attention from Europe to Asia and shoulder more of the burdens, while America needs to realize that transatlantic trust has been dented, accept and encourage a greater role for Europe, and not be so instinctively suspicious of all European initiatives. – War on the Rocks


Days after Somalia’s president relented on plans to extend his term in office following street battles and international condemnation, his government announced Thursday that it would restore diplomatic relations with Kenya, ending a monthslong standoff that had injected an additional note of instability into an already-volatile region. – New York Times

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday sentenced a former Ugandan child soldier who became a commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to 25 years in prison for crimes including rape, sexual enslavement, child abduction, torture and murder. – Reuters

The United Nations announced Thursday it has released $65 million for humanitarian aid in Ethiopia, including $40 million for the Tigray region where a military operation launched in November has escalated into a war in which widespread atrocities are reported and thousands have been killed. – Associated Press

Rebels who launched an offensive in northern Chad, sparking clashes that claimed the life of veteran president Idriss Deby Itno, are in flight, the country’s new defence minister said on Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

George Ward, Eric Kiss, and Pat Savage write: The results of our study, as partial as they may be, indicate that a U.S. approach to the countries of Africa that builds on areas of strength — development assistance, especially in the health area; support for investment; security assistance in combating extremism; and expanded people-to-people initiatives — would bear more fruit than a policy derived principally from the imperatives of great-power competition. – War on the Rocks

The Americas

Colombia’s relationship with the United States is hitting its lowest point in decades as the country’s government faces criticism over its militarized response to massive street protests. – The Hill

León Krauze writes: What Harris decides to bring up in the meeting will offer a clear indication of how the Biden administration sees its role throughout the region, where a turn toward autocracy, poor governance, violence and the repercussions of covid-19 anticipate further turmoil.The stability and progress of Latin America have to become urgent concerns to policymakers in Washington. – Washington Post

Juan Cruz writes: The Venezuelan military have been set up most recently for failure by its political masters. The age-old scoreboard shows that when it has come to violent encounters with Colombian armed guerrillas, the results are distressing for government forces. The Colombian insurgent presence in border states has been the top security challenge for the Venezuelan military and the civilian government going back to the 1980s, when significant resources, attention, and skilled military professionals were put on the problem. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

United States

President Joe Biden warned Thursday that Congress needs to adopt his multi-trillion dollar spending plans to renew the US economy because China is “eating our lunch.” – Agence France-Presse

As President Joe Biden finalizes his first batch of political nominees for ambassadorships, veteran diplomats are offering a warning: don’t make Europe a playground for wealthy donors and longtime friends and allies. – Politico

A group of Republican senators called upon Attorney General Merrick Garland not to implement an “amnesty program” they say the Justice Department is considering implementing in the near future under which researchers at U.S. colleges and universities could disclose past foreign funding, including from China, without fear of prosecution. – Washington Examiner

Katrina Manson writes: In ordering the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Joe Biden has surprised many — overriding military advice and the received wisdom of Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Should this be taken as an anti-exceptionalist statement? Biden’s administration has been at pains to show it wants a less hawkish US foreign policy — explicitly rejecting regime-change policies and raising expectations it will downsize the country’s colossal defence spending and overseas military presence. But it still channels the language and ambition of American exceptionalism. – Financial Times

Erol Yayboke, Daphne McCurdy, Annie Pforzheimer, and Janina Staguhn write: The Biden-Harris administration should think creatively about ways to incentivize the best and brightest to engage meaningfully on these issues for longer periods of time. For example, while long deployments in conflict zones or unstable areas may not be reasonable, foreign service officers (FSOs) could be required to spend at least four years working on a specific country from various locations so that they can hit the ground running in the short time they spend there. USAID staff should also have time for foreign language training, as Department of State FSOs do, and more training in the political dynamics of the country at hand. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Microsoft is pledging to let business and public sector customers in the European Union keep cloud computing data inside the 27-nation bloc to avert concerns about U.S. government access to sensitive information. – Associated Press

This week in a U.S. federal court in New York City, the Russian man accused by U.S. authorities of being a ringleader of the group, Aleksandr Zhukov, went on trial for wire fraud, money laundering, and other charges. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A bill introduced this week in the House seeks to bolster the National Guard’s ability to respond to cyber threats, including critical infrastructure attacks in their states. – C4ISRNET

Adam Taylor writes: That proposal could cause a huge headache for Facebook. Historically, social media companies have been wary of stepping into political debates anywhere, including in the United States. Tracking and ruling on these issues becomes more complex when considering foreign countries, with different languages, histories and cultures. – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: At a minimum, more efficient intelligence-sharing between the State Department, intelligence community, and the intelligence committees is needed. Those wounded in the line of duty also deserve far better. Beck’s medical costs should retroactively be covered. The NSA also owes him an apology. Internal and, where necessary, external investigations should establish if senior officials failed to support personnel appropriately since at least 2016. […]Most importantly, if and when more evidence is gathered, Putin, Nikolai Patrushev, and their officers must be held to account. – Washington Examiner

Rich Lowry writes: More targeted attempts to force viewpoint-neutrality on social-media platforms might have unintended consequences and would raise their own free-speech concerns (the companies would argue they can’t be compelled to host speech they disapprove of). But there can be no doubt that Facebook, already beset on all sides, has hung a lantern on its unsettling combination of power and caprice. – New York Post


Honeywell has agreed to pay the State Department $13 million after it transferred to other countries — including China — unauthorized technical data on the F-35 and F-22 fighter jets, among other weapon systems. – The Hill

More than 130 members of the House of Representatives have signed a letter urging continued financial support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, signaling a potential roadblock for lawmakers hoping to cut F-35 procurement in fiscal 2022. – Defense News

The U.S. Army is tapping nontraditional businesses to tackle the challenge of future robotic combat vehicle sustainment, according to a statement from the Army Applications Laboratory. – Defense News

America’s largest military shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls Industries, is known for aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious ships, but its corporate strategy is sighted in on much smaller platforms. – Defense News

The U.S. Army will begin implementing advanced satellite communications technology to increase network resiliency as part of its next iteration of tactical network tools. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Air Force is teaming up with Hughes Network Systems and OneWeb to test how the latter’s new commercial broadband satellites could fill the military’s Arctic communications gap, the two companies announced May 5. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Space Force released its latest vision document May 6, laying out its desire to become the world’s first fully digital service. – C4ISRNET

Long War

A German man has been extradited from Senegal to face allegations of membership in an al-Qaida linked extremist group, federal prosecutors said Thursday. – Associated Press

Israeli authorities on Thursday charged a Spanish woman under the country’s anti-terrorism laws, accusing her of funneling large sums of donations from European governments to a banned Palestinian militant group. – Associated Press

A Danish high court on Thursday upheld the seven-year sentence given to a Norwegian citizen of Iranian heritage for spying and complicity in a failed plot to kill an Iranian Arab opposition figure in Denmark. – Reuters