Fdd's overnight brief

May 8, 2023

In The News


Iran and its proxies are enabling attacks on U.S. troops in Syria through clandestine weapons shipments hidden within humanitarian aid that has flowed into the region after a catastrophic earthquake killed tens of thousands earlier this year, according to classified U.S. intelligence and an Israeli military official familiar with the matter. – Washington Post

In the first days of the Iranian New Year holiday in March, the police showed up at a cafe in Tehran with orders to shut it down for two days. The cafe had run afoul of Iranian law by serving women who were not covering their hair with head scarves, they said. – New York Times

Even as the United States and its European allies grapple with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions with China, the smoldering crisis over Iran’s nuclear program threatens to reignite. – Reuters

Two oil tankers recently seized by Iran are anchored off the coast of one of its key port cities on the strategic Strait of Hormuz, according to satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press on Sunday. – Associated Press

Iran has expelled four Azeri diplomats amid ongoing tensions with neighboring Azerbaijan, Iranian media reported on Friday. – Associated Press

Iran hanged two men Monday convicted of blasphemy, authorities said, carrying out rare death sentences for the crime as executions surge across the Islamic Republic following months of unrest. – Associated Press

Iran executed a Swedish-Iranian man on Saturday over his alleged role in plotting a deadly gun attack in 2018, the judiciary’s official Mizan news portal reported. – Bloomberg

The head of Iran’s athletics federation resigned Sunday over a sporting event featuring women without the mandatory headscarf, state media reported, as the Islamic Republic toughens enforcement of hijab rules. – Agence France-Presse

Iran and Syria agreed to boost ties and develop economic relations, with a focus on reconstruction, as the Islamic Republic’s President Ebrahim Raisi on Friday concluded a landmark visit to Damascus. – Agence France-Presse

The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) has issued a veiled warning to the US Navy days after it seized an Iranian oil tanker. Ali Fadavi said if America and its allies pose a threat to Iranian vessels the Islamic Republic will be hard on them. – Iran International

An Iranian group has hacked into the Islamic Republic’s foreign ministry servers, disabling 210 sites and online services and leaking a large batch of documents. The hacktivist group ‘Uprising till Overthrow’, affiliated with the Albania-based opposition Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) group, released hundreds of identification documents, minutes of meetings, the ministry’s correspondence, phone numbers of ministry officials, and the names of 11,000 employees of the foreign ministry, among others. – Iran International

David S. Cloud writes: Iran’s burgeoning ties with Moscow and Beijing won’t turn it into a colossus capable of driving the U.S. from the region or destroying Israel, as it has long vowed to do. But the new alliances may extend indefinitely the life of a regime that only months ago seemed to be running out of options. – Wall Street Journal

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This is where unmanned vessels are unique. They are cheaper than large surface ships and can be deployed easily. As Western navies try to keep up with China, unmanned vessels are one way to keep up. Also, countries in the region that are interested in new technology may prefer them. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Some U.S. and European officials said they believe that Ukraine’s planned spring offensive could pave the way for negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow by the end of the year, and that China could help bring Russia to the table. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and allied nations are scrambling to buttress Ukraine’s air defenses for its upcoming counteroffensive after waves of Russian missile attacks whittled down Kyiv’s stockpile of antiaircraft missiles. – Wall Street Journal

Russian-installed officials ordered civilians in 18 occupied communities near the front line to evacuate as both sides appear to be bracing for a widely expected Ukrainian offensive. – Wall Street Journal

The Ukrainian military has spent nearly 15 months exceeding the world’s expectations. Now, senior leaders are trying to lower those hopes, fearing that the outcome of an imminent counteroffensive aimed at turning the tide of the war with Russia may not live up to the hype. – Washington Post

Ukraine on Saturday said it had used the U.S.-made Patriot air defense system to shoot down a Russian hypersonic missile in the skies over the capital region — potentially demonstrating that it now has the ability to thwart one of Moscow’s most-feared weapons. – Washington Post

Wagner boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s threat to pull his forces from Bakhmut, relayed in obscenity-ridden videos in which he blames Russian military chiefs for the deaths of tens of thousands of his soldiers in Ukraine, was only the latest salvo in a months-long feud between the mercenary group and Russia’s military leadership for influence in the war and glory on the battlefield. – Washington Post

A car bombing on Saturday seriously wounded a prominent Russian nationalist and novelist, while killing his driver, state media reported, one of a series of internal attacks that are spreading a sense of disarray even as the country gears up to celebrate its most important annual military holiday. – New York Times

Scuffles have broken out between Russian and Ukrainian delegates to a conference in Turkey this week, according to videos and state media reports. Two separate altercations over Ukrainian flags occurred at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation in Ankara, Turkey, on Thursday. – New York Times

The head of the U.N.’s nuclear power watchdog warned on Saturday that the situation around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear station has become “potentially dangerous” as Moscow-installed officials began evacuating people from nearby areas. – Reuters

Former Russian deputy defence minister Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev has joined the Wagner Group private militia as a deputy commander, Russian pro-war social media channels reported on Thursday. – Reuters

A prominent Russian theatre director was remanded in custody for two months on Friday after being accused of justifying terrorism with an award-winning play about Russian women who married Islamic State fighters, the state news agency TASS reported. – Reuters

Russian security forces have foiled an attempt by Ukrainian intelligence to attack a military airfield in central Russia with drones stuffed with explosives, the Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Sunday. – Reuters

Victory Day, Russia’s most important secular holiday, lauds two tenets that are central to the country’s identity: military might and moral rectitude. But the war in Ukraine undermines both this year. – Associated Press

NATO is stepping up monitoring of submarines after the defense alliance warned that Moscow is mapping European Union and US critical underwater assets. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The two drone incidents, one over Moscow and one over Kyiv, show that drones can fly into the heart of the capital city of both countries. In neither incident, however, is a war-winning strategy clear. Drones can’t win wars and they aren’t being used in masses or swarms. This shows that drone technology must increase a lot for the machines to be effective. At president the drones are like the biplanes of the First World War, an exotic and interesting addition to the war effort, but not yet the war winners that planes would prove in the Second World War. – Jerusalem Post


Israeli authorities demolished a Palestinian school in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, drawing harsh condemnation from the European Union. – Reuters

Israel has published tenders for more than 1,000 new housing units in settlements in the occupied West Bank, despite a commitment it made in U.S.-backed talks in February that discussion of new settlement units would be halted for the next four months. – Reuters

Two Palestinian fighters were killed in an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the Israeli military and Palestinian militant group Hamas said. – Reuters

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered Saturday for a demonstration against a contentious government plan to overhaul the judiciary, demanding the changes to be scrapped rather than delayed. – Associated Press

Washington allows Israel freedom of action against the Iran nuclear threat, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant defended the decision to release the bodies of three terrorists last week, as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir continued to rail against the government’s defense policies. – Jerusalem Post

Israel on Friday afternoon returned the bodies of three Palestinian gunmen who were killed in a shootout with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank in March, drawing protests from hardline minister Itamar Ben Gvir and amplifying a spiraling fight within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline coalition. – Times of Israel

The European Union has notified Israeli officials that it is considering canceling speeches at an upcoming celebration because National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir plans to attend the event and deliver an address, Channel 13 reported Sunday. – Times of Israel

The government approved a budget of NIS 32 million ($8.8 million) on Sunday for the restoration and development of the Sebastia archaeological site near the West Bank city of Nablus, a largely neglected historical site over which Israelis and Palestinians have been wrangling for decades. – Times of Israel

The far-right Otzma Yehudit party issued fresh threats to quit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition on Friday as a row over their influence on policy intensified. – Times of Israel

The government reportedly plans to send far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir as its representative to an annual meeting with European Union diplomats next week, despite most countries avoiding contact with the ultra-nationalist lawmaker. – Times of Israel

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is dispatching an envoy to Israel next week for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials, according to a Sunday report. – Times of Israel

Editorial: If he hasn’t done so already, now is as good a time as ever for President Herzog to issue an official invitation for King Charles III and Queen Camilla to visit Israel – and for the king and queen to accept it. In addition to becoming the first British monarch to pay an official visit to the Holy Land, which would be truly historic, the king – an avid environmentalist – might see for himself how the British oak tree that he planted with former president Reuven Rivlin in 2020 has grown in Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: While there is an opportunity now for greater efforts toward peace and security in our region, there are also actors that would like to upset that trend, particularly Iran. That is why Gallant’s mention of Iranian threats during his visit was so important. Our partners should understand that Iran is not only a threat to Israel but also to Europe and the wider region. Gallant’s trip signals to our friends in the Mediterranean that we value their partnership. – Jerusalem Post

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Netanyahu has unleashed a whirlwind that has bitterly divided Israel in a way never seen since its creation. If he gives in to his extremist partners, he will create even more chaos on Israel’s streets. But he may at last put his country ahead of his coalition partners, and, indeed, ahead of his own personal interests. His government would surely fall, but his country would be the better for it. – The Hill

Herb Keinon writes: With the atmosphere in this country as charged as it is, each side would do well to consider the ramifications of their actions and ask themselves if the steps they are taking are not putting Israel on a slippery slope leading to a breakdown of critical solidarity. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Spyer writes: The extent of Tehran’s ambitions means that efforts by Arab diplomacy to reconcile with it may well be short-lived. In the interim, Israel will need to use its superior physical capacities to continue to disrupt, frustrate and deter Iran’s regional project, despite a distinctly less advantageous diplomatic environment. Achieving such a task and rebuilding deterrence against an emboldened Tehran may well require action beyond the specific confines of Syria. – Jerusalem Post


The foreign ministers of India, Russia and Pakistan on Friday called for a representative government in Afghanistan and the protection of women’s rights, almost two years after the Islamist Taliban swept to power in Kabul. – Reuters

The United Nations said on Friday it will continue to keep Afghan staff working from home after the Taliban administration began enforcing a ban on Afghan women working for the world body a month ago. – Reuters

A U.N. report on Monday strongly criticized the Taliban for carrying out public executions, lashings and stonings since seizing power in Afghanistan, and called on the country’s rulers to halt such practices. – Associated Press

Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed government have agreed to boost trade and lower tensions along their border amid a surge in militant attacks on security forces, officials said Monday. – Associated Press

Taliban restrictions on Afghan women and girls may amount to femicide if they are not reversed, a team of U.N. experts warned on Friday. – Associated Press


Arab leaders agreed to bring Syria back into the Arab League after more than a decade of isolation, complicating American efforts to isolate President Bashar al-Assad and signaling a waning of U.S. influence in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal

German authorities said Friday that a man sought in connection with the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old Syrian in the western town of Luedenscheid has been detained after surrendering to police. – Associated Press

After more than a decade of war in Syria, some of the external powers that fed the conflict with money and arms are in talks to put a permanent end to the fighting. Turkey, which backed Syrian rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, appears to have accepted that he can’t be defeated as long as he has Russian backing. And Gulf states that had spurned Assad are offering to welcome him back into the club of Arab leaders and encouraging him to make peace with Turkey. It’s a frustrating turn of events for the US, which long opposed any effort to rehabilitate Assad. – Bloomberg

A Hezbollah operative in Syria tasked with enlisting locals to gather intelligence on Israel appears to have resumed his activities after lying low in response to the recent arrest of one of the spies, Israeli television reported Sunday. – Times of Israel

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s media praised the return as a “resistance reward,” a move that comes right after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is fresh from a visit to Damascus. This nearly appears as a seal of approval for Iran’s role in Syria. Russia will also be pleased with the decision. It may also give Turkey an opening to normalize ties with Syria, continuing its ongoing multi-lateral meetings with Damascus. The return of Syria to the Arab League is a symbolic turning point, bookending the Arab Spring and part of a new diplomatic era in the region, with the potential to hand over a win to Iran and Russia. – Jerusalem Post


As Turkey prepares for its most competitive and consequential presidential election in years on May 14, the political opposition faces an uphill battle getting its message out. Mainstream outlets and public broadcasters afford blanket coverage to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has consolidated control over the media as he has tightened his grip on power. – Washington Post

Whoever wins Turkey’s elections this month, the NATO-member is expected to maintain cordial relations with Russia that have already endured several years of dramatic change in Ankara’s foreign policy. – Reuters

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan accused the opposition of being “pro-LGBT” at a rally in Istanbul on Sunday, as he stepped up his rhetoric against his opponents a week before what is expected to be a tight election. – Reuters

Vilified as terrorists by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kurdish politicians have already emerged as kingmakers in an opposition bid to unseat the Turkish president and could become a legislative force after a cliffhanger election that risks creating a hung parliament. – Bloomberg

Top economic advisers at Turkish opposition parties are preparing to meet in Istanbul on Saturday, a show of unity with barely a week left before a tightly contested election that’s put a spotlight on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s control over institutions and policy. – Bloomberg

The presidential candidate of a six-party Turkish opposition alliance urged citizens to stay indoors if he wins next week’s elections to avoid the risk of confrontation with “armed elements” loyal to the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. – Bloomberg

Kemal Kilicdaroglu writes: The motto of the Nation Alliance’s election campaign is “I promise, spring will come again”, a line from a well-known Turkish pop song. Our union of parties will deliver on that pledge. And the resulting benefits will not be confined to our borders, but will also extend to Turkey’s relations with Europe, the United States, the Middle East, Russia, China and beyond. – The Economist

Michael Rubin writes: Turkey should not be an eternal enemy. True peace and prosperity will only come to the Eastern Mediterranean when Turkey is at peace with itself and its neighbors. Turks must live in partnership with Greeks, Kurds, Armenians and Arabs, just as Germans today live with Czechs, French, Danes and Poles. Unfortunately, that day is still far away. Erdogan may soon be gone, but Erdoganism appears here to stay. – Ekathimerini


A European judicial team questioned Lebanon’s caretaker finance minister on Friday in an investigation related to corruption probes of the country’s Central Bank governor, officials said. The questioning is part of a probe by a delegation from France, Germany, and Luxembourg, now on its third visit to Lebanon to interrogate suspects and witnesses in the case. – Associated Press

Photos posted on Twitter Friday by the US Embassy in Beirut showing the progress of construction on the new compound for the embassy have received an unusual amount of interest in the region and globally. – Jerusalem Post

Six members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attempted Beitar Illit bus bombing on March 9, and for allegedly planning a series of future explosive attacks, Israel’s Shin Bet announced on Monday morning. […]The group’s orders allegedly came from PFLP Chairman Ahmad Saadat and his deputy, Jamil Mizhar as well as PFLP officials who are serving prison time in Israel. Moreover, there were PFLP officials involved in the operations both in Gaza and Lebanon, with a Lebanese official specifically helping direct the Beitar Illit attack. – Jerusalem Post


After sleeping for a week under a tree in the backyard of a mosque in the Sudanese town of Wadi Halfa, Dalia Hassan is torn over whether she should cross the frontier into Egypt, or wait until her 18-year-old son gets a visa. – Reuters

An Egyptian politician residing abroad and planning to run in the country’s presidential elections next year said on Friday that two of his uncles and a group of friends and supporters have been detained in recent days. – Associated Press

Ziv Bar’el writes: The recommendations of the national dialogue committees in Egypt will be submitted to the president himself, who will then decide what to accept or reject. Only afterward will they be debated in parliament, with expected approvals. The transparency here is full. The president is the legislator. The presentation of the dialogue with the public doesn’t deceive anyone, even when opposition parties and civil society groups participate in it. Sissi has the last word. In Israel, people still believe that the meetings will fend off the threat of a revolution in governance – that they will choke off the indefatigable ambition of people longing for authoritarianism, and cut off the prime minister’s arm of control sought through legislation and a reshaping of the judicial system. – Haaretz

Arabian Peninsula

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), the body responsible for developing the United Arab Emirates’ nuclear energy sector, has signed three agreements with Chinese nuclear energy organisations as it looks to boost low-carbon nuclear power. – Reuters

Qatar flew a relief flight into Sudan carrying some 40 tons of food and left with 150 evacuees early Saturday as fighting continued between two generals vying for power in the African nation. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Today, with Iran reconciling with the Saudis and many countries in the Middle East also repairing relations, the SCO has a larger potential role to play. For states that are left out of the grouping, like Israel, this will be a symbol of countries that hedge their bets and those that are firmly planted in the West. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi Arabia

Representatives of two warring Sudanese generals are expected to meet in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to discuss terms of a cease-fire and mechanisms for allowing humanitarian aid into the country, U.S., Saudi and Sudanese officials said on Friday. – New York Times

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a visit to the kingdom on Sunday and reviewed what the White House called “significant progress” in Yemen peace efforts, the White House said. – Reuters

Israel is hoping for a breakthrough this weekend in efforts to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia during White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s visit there, a senior security official said on Friday. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden’s top national security aide met Sunday night with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince amid long-standing tensions between the White House and the kingdom. – Associated Press

U.S., Saudi, Emirati and Indian national security advisers are expected on Sunday to discuss a possible major joint infrastructure project to connect Gulf and Arab countries via a network of railways that would also be connected to India via shipping lanes from ports in the region, two sources with direct knowledge of the plan told Axios. – Axios

Middle East & North Africa

Jordan on Sunday ended laws enacted at the start of COVID-19 that gave the authorities powers to enforce a state of emergency that rights groups said were used as an excuse to suppress civic and political liberties. – Reuters

The World Food Programme (WFP) will suspend food aid to over 200,000 Palestinians from next month due to a “severe” shortage of funds, the group’s senior official for the Palestinian territories said on Sunday. – Reuters

Israeli authorities released a Jordanian lawmaker to his home country on Sunday, Israel’s domestic security agency said, after he allegedly tried smuggling dozens of rifles and handguns through an Israeli-controlled border crossing. – Associated Press

Top security officials have held deliberations on the potential development of natural gas fields off the Gaza Strip’s coast, as part of recent meetings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israeli television reported Friday. – Times of Israel

Jordanian media sources are reporting that fighter jets, apparently Jordanian, attacked a purification plant near the town of Kharab al-Shaham, in the suburbs of Daraa in southern Syria, early this morning. – Arutz Sheva

Yael Lempert, the Biden administration’s nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to Jordan, pledged on Thursday to “do everything in my power” to secure the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi, who helped plan a bombing that killed U.S. citizens in Israel, but stopped short of endorsing a call for the U.S. to withhold its aid to Amman to secure her capture. – Jewish Insider

Korean Peninsula

The leaders of South Korea and Japan met Sunday, as the two U.S. allies continue rekindling cooperation to counter China’s regional aggression and North Korea’s nuclear threat. – Wall Street Journal

The Global Times, a hawkish Chinese state media tabloid, on Monday criticised a letter of protest sent to it by South Korea’s embassy in China, the latest public spat amid worsening ties between the Asian neighbours. – Reuters

Satellite images indicate North Korea may be modernizing and enhancing its satellite launch facility in Sohae, according to website 38 North. – Bloomberg

Bruce Klingner writes: The U.S.–South Korean alliance was forged in blood in the crucible of war, but the two countries are far more than a military alliance: They share values, principles, and interests far beyond the shores of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s growing capabilities and influence empower it to play a stronger regional and global role. While America faces growing challenges in the Indo–Pacific, the load is lightened because it is shared with stalwart allies, such as South Korea. – Heritage Foundation


A recent campaign to restrict overseas access to China-based data sources was partly triggered by a drumbeat of U.S. think tank reports on sensitive Chinese practices that alarmed Beijing, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. – Wall Street Journal

A statue in Hong Kong commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, one of the more potent symbols of the city’s pro-democracy movement, was seized by police on Friday, the sculptor said. The statue, “Pillar of Shame,” is a 26-foot-tall depiction of piled bodies signifying those killed during the Tiananmen crackdown. It had been on display at the University of Hong Kong since the late 1990s before it was removed in 2021. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. sanctions are spurring Chinese tech companies to accelerate research to develop cutting-edge artificial intelligence without relying on the latest American chips. – Wall Street Journal

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Monday it is imperative to stabilise Sino-U.S. relations after a series of “erroneous words and deeds” threw ties back into a deep freeze. – Reuters

China wants to work with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to oppose the politicisation of sports, Premier Li Qiang said, amid demands on the sporting body to exclude athletes from Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Friday he had “made plain” Britain’s views on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan in a meeting with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng during the latter’s visit to London for King Charles’ coronation. – Reuters

China will hold a rare joint military exercise with its landlocked neighbour Laos this month as Beijing tries to bolster security ties with regional allies to counter an expanding U.S. presence in Southeast Asia. – Reuters

China is expected to roll out new policies to protect supply chains and boost its birth rate, after President Xi Jinping led a high-profile meeting that established these areas as top economic priorities. – Bloomberg

The US will subject real estate transactions near eight domestic military bases to increased scrutiny following a controversy over a Chinese company’s effort to purchase a wet-corn milling plant near an Air Force base in North Dakota. – Bloomberg

The deepening cooperation between China and Russia threatens to overturn decades of international stability in nuclear arms control, according to a top adviser to US President Joe Biden. – Bloomberg

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett said the United States and China can compete and “prosper” simultaneously amid rising tensions recently between the two countries. Buffett said at his company’s annual meeting on Saturday that the two countries need to understand that they cannot push each other too hard, as either country is capable of destroying the other. – The Hill

Editorial: One might wonder why the government doesn’t just scrap the District Councils altogether, or simply appoint all the members, instead of staging an elaborate pseudo-election. Hong Kong’s leaders, and the real rulers in Beijing, clearly want to maintain the fiction that citizens still enjoy some of the freedoms they were promised when China regained sovereignty over the territory in 1997. But it’s not an election, and it’s certainly not democratic. It’s a farce and should be called out as such. – Washington Post

Nicholas Sargen writes: Finally, while each of these avenues may prove difficult, the biggest mistake for the U.S. would be to abandon efforts to reengage with China. Considering all that is at stake, there is simply no alternative but to keep China as an integral part of the global trading system. – The Hill

James Rogan writes: Redundancy must be built into U.S. financial systems. Markets must be prepared for the immediate sale and repurchase of physical and financial assets invested by China in the U.S. Such financial and physical assets exceed $1 trillion. Resilience must be built into domestic supply chains. International supply chains must be reconfigured for trade with countries such as India, Vietnam, and Mexico and not with China. But Americans should be under no illusions: War with China would entail military and economic costs unprecedented since World War II. – Washington Examiner

South Asia

This mammoth task has taken center stage in India’s politics. A census of caste — the rigid system of inherited social stratification sprouting from Hinduism — could transform the nation’s democratic politics. It puts the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in a tight spot: Increased caste identification could dent its electoral supremacy. – Washington Post

Clashes between rival ethnic groups in Manipur, a remote state in India’s northeast, have reportedly killed dozens of people in recent days, and the situation remains volatile, even as the authorities rush troops to the area to quell the disorder and seek to control the flow of information. – New York Times

A group of India’s most accomplished wrestlers, who have accused the sport’s top official in the country of serial harassment and abuse of female wrestlers, vowed on Friday to continue a day-and-night protest after a clash two days before with the Delhi police. – New York Times

India and Pakistan each blamed the other for their frosty relations on Friday and reiterated entrenched diplomatic positions on issues such as Kashmir and terrorism, suggesting no thaw in ties is likely anytime soon. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is working with Pakistan to conclude a ninth review of a bailout programme, its mission chief said on Friday of the funding critical for the cash-strapped nation to avert an economic collapse. – Reuters

Rallygoers for a political party in Pakistan beat to death a participant for allegedly making a blasphemous speech, police said Sunday. – Associated Press

Thousands of mourners on Friday attended the mass funeral of seven minority Shiite teachers who were shot and killed at a school in northwestern Pakistan, drawing nationwide condemnation, officials said. – Associated Press

Indian soldiers killed two suspected militants in ongoing counterinsurgency operations in Kashmir on Saturday, officials said, a day after rebels fighting against Indian rule killed five soldiers in the disputed Himalayan region. – Associated Press

A Pakistani Sikh was killed by unknown assailants in a drive-by shooting in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday, police said. – Associated Press

Russia has accumulated billions of rupees in Indian banks which it can’t use, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, pointing to a ballooning trade surplus with the South Asian nation. – Bloomberg

Pakistan reassured China its investments and personnel in the country will be protected from increased militant attacks that hindered progress on President Xi Jinping’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative. – Bloomberg

Pakistan will not have bilateral relations with India until New Delhi reviews Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision four years ago to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told India Today, a private news television channel. – Bloomberg


Taiwan has begun preparing for a sharp rise in economic tension with China, stepping up efforts to encourage businesses to look for investments in the U.S. and other countries. – Wall Street Journal

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo on Monday condemned an attack in Myanmar on ASEAN officials delivering humanitarian aid, and called for an end to violence in the strife-torn country. – Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed frustration at the United States’ continuing efforts to extradite WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange, saying: “There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration.” – Associated Press

The Biden administration is preparing a $500 million weapons package for Taiwan, using a fast-track authority that it has relied on to speed arms to Ukraine, people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg

Zoe Leung and Cameron Waltz write: Taiwan’s upcoming election will shape its relationship with Beijing and Washington in one way or another. With the escalating U.S.-China rivalry, the stakes are high. Though it is hard to imagine Taiwan’s next president flipping the geostrategic chess board, the DPP and KMT’s differing strategies will influence Beijing’s aggressiveness, Taiwan’s vulnerability to coercion and perhaps even the timeline of a potential cross-strait crisis. – The Hill

Daniel DePetris writes: Did Russia’s headaches in Ukraine serve as a come-to-Jesus moment for Xi? Maybe. But one suspects that a war occurring thousands of miles away is far less significant to Xi’s calculus than the PLA’s ability actually to carry out a Taiwan invasion in the first place. In fact, Ukraine may not even be on the list. – Washington Examiner

French Hill writes: Our job, and the job of all freedom-loving nations, is to promote trade and tactical defensive support so that the Taiwanese people can continue to live in peace, democracy, and prosperity. Otherwise, Taiwan might soon be subsumed into an authoritarian dystopian surveillance state led by China. Our allies in the Indo-Pacific region must continue their efforts to strengthen their security and counter the aggressive efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to ensure the CCP is prevented from following in Putin’s footsteps. – Washington Examiner

Alex Little writes: Despite the current dire straits that envelop the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, the record of nonproliferation is impressive, given that no new countries have acquired nuclear weapons since North Korea acquired them in 2006. This speaks to the effectiveness of treaties like the Treaty of the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Arms control efforts to prevent the buildup of nuclear weapons among great powers have been an even more significant challenge. With regional partners like Kazakhstan that have a greater understanding of their respective regional landscape and security dynamics, the United States stands a better chance of fostering nuclear stability. – The National Interest


A group of London children who were preparing for the coronation this weekend had some extra festivities in their school on Friday when the first lady, Jill Biden, and Akshata Murty, the wife of Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, came to their classrooms. – New York Times

Poland will demand European Union sanctions on imports of Russian farm products, its ambassador to the EU Andrzej Sados was quoted as saying on Saturday by PAP news agency. – Reuters

Switzerland’s parliament has approved a request from Ukrainian authorities for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to address it. – Reuters

Slovakia’s foreign minister offered his resignation on Friday, the president said, dealing a fresh blow to the centre-right cabinet which has already been serving in a caretaker capacity ahead of elections in September. – Reuters

The Polish Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in protest Friday after a former Russian official suggested that it would be acceptable to assassinate Poland’s ambassador to Russia. – Associated Press

Britain’s free trade agreements with New Zealand and Australia will come into force by the end of this month, the leaders from the three nations said Friday. – Associated Press

The hardline CGT union, which has been among the forces driving months-long protests against Emmanuel Macron’s plans for pensions reform, agreed to meet with his prime minister. – Bloomberg

Germany plans to order 50 Puma infantry fighting vehicles from manufacturers Rheinmetall AG and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH for €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) to restock the country’s armed forces, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Businesses in Northern Ireland said they’re pushing ahead with investments, despite a stalemate that’s paralyzed the region’s political institutions for the past 15 months. Sentiment has been boosted by US President Joe Biden’s pledge in Belfast last month that “scores of major American corporations” want to plow money into Northern Ireland. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: This is no small concern. The U.S. military anticipates going to war with China over Taiwan before this decade is out. Washington is also attempting to prevent China from accessing the most valuable high-tech hardware and software for its military. Via “strategic autonomy,” however, France hasn’t just separated itself from those efforts. It has provided the political legitimacy for Beijing to pressure other nations to do the same. Put another way, let’s hope that President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and not Macron, wins the struggle for the EU’s policy toward China. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: Regardless, by so plainly associating himself with this narrative, Orban again shows his sympathies are more with Vladimir Putin than they are with the NATO alliance of which he at least nominally remains a member. It is understandable that American conservatives share Orban’s views on social policy and sympathize with his unashamed advocacy for those views. But let’s just hope the Americans in Budapest this week reminded Orban that China is not so peripheral a concern for their nation. – Washington Examiner


The battle for power between Sudan’s top two generals has reignited intercommunal violence in the country’s Darfur region, a gold-rich area still scarred by what is widely considered the first genocide of the 21st century. – Wall Street Journal

In the heady days of 2019, after unarmed demonstrators in Sudan surrounded the army headquarters, chanting in defiance of an aging despot, the country’s citizens dreamed of freedom. Sudan had suffered, since its independence six decades earlier, through long stretches of military rule interrupted only by brief spells of democracy. But even amid the euphoria immediately after the overthrow of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had terrorized the country for 30 years, the seeds of today’s conflict already had been sown. – Washington Post

Gunmen shot dead a journalist late on Sunday in Bamenda, a city in Cameroon’s troubled northwest region, the local journalists’ union said, in at least the third killing of a media worker in the country this year. – Reuters

More than 1 million polio vaccines intended for children have been destroyed as a result of looting in Sudan during the upsurge in violence since April, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF told Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

A group of countries is set to request an urgent meeting of the U.N. human rights body on the Sudan crisis next week, a document showed on Friday, in a move that rights activists hope will increase scrutiny of violations by rival military factions. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund expects to disburse the next tranche of its $1.3 billion financing program with Zambia “soon”, the managing director of the fund said. – Reuters

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday called on governments to allow civilians fleeing Sudan into their territory and not to send them back to the conflict-torn country. – Reuters

Mali’s military junta said Friday that it’s organizing a referendum on a new constitution for June 18, a key step towards a return to constitutional rule and a new presidential election expected next year in the West African country. – Associated Press

A senior Nigerian politician and his wife were handed prison sentences Friday for conspiring to transport a street trader to the U.K. as part of an organ-harvesting plot. – Associated Press

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, on a visit to Kenya, has offered support to African countries seeking a permanent seat on the U.N Security Council. – Associated Press

Latin America

Cubans in Caimanera, a small port town near the U.S. military base at Guantanamo, took to the streets late on Saturday evening, according to social media and official reports, in the first known anti-government protests of the year in Cuba. – Reuters

Venezuelan opposition party Voluntad Popular on Friday named a new candidate for a key presidential primary in October, replacing formerly anti-government leader Juan Guaido who left Venezuela unexpectedly in late April. – Reuters

Paraguay’s president-elect, Santiago Pena, said on Friday that he would continue to strengthen his country’s “historic ties” with Taiwan following a call with his counterpart there after winning Sunday’s election. – Reuters

After attending the coronation of King Charles III in London, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva denounced the lack of concerted efforts to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent four years in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison. – Associated Press

Chile’s political right dealt a crushing blow to the government of President Gabriel Boric that will undermine the young leader’s progressive agenda and spark a rally in local assets. – Bloomberg

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The motivation for this case can hardly be financial since Mr. Plazas, living on a military pension, doesn’t have much in the way of assets to seize as recompense. Rather he is an ideological target. A ruling in a U.S. court against the hero of the 1985 defeat of the M-19 is sure to be paraded about in Colombia. Sadly, the public is unlikely to understand that it won’t be a victory for truth, but for deep pockets. – Wall Street Journal

Willow Fortunoff and Adriana D’Elia write: The United States can tap into the momentum following the inaugural Cities Summit to initiate a new approach to Venezuela that sidesteps Maduro to engage directly with mayors. While most international attention is drawn to next year’s presidential elections, the United States must not lose sight of long-term strategy. There is still time to support transformative change ahead of the 2025 regional elections. In a broader region all too familiar with democratic backsliding, a U.S.-Venezuela subnational policy could inspire broader strategies for engaging with local leaders who are fortifying their base of democracy and sparking hope in future generations, against all odds. – The National Interest

North America

As King Charles III put on the centuries-old St. Edward’s crown on Saturday, Jamaica, a Commonwealth member, continued to move ahead with plans to cut ties with the British monarchy — a decision scheduled for a referendum in 2024. – New York Times

Six months ago, his historic landslide victory was widely lauded, viewed as the triumph of a politically adroit change-maker whose centrist policies had swept him to power. But since February, the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto has cited classified intelligence reports in describing an effort by Beijing to manipulate Canadian elections, including those in Vancouver, raising questions about whether China played a role in his win. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: It’s clear that Trudeau is happy to live off the back of American defense spending while boosting welfare spending at home. Canada’s neglect of its defense budget was recently highlighted when the U.S. Air Force had to shoot down an unidentified flying object over Canadian airspace. And what’s at stake here is more than Canada’s national pride. One of its elected representatives and his family have been viciously targeted, simply because that parliamentarian was doing his job. If Canada doesn’t send China’s ambassador home, China will only double down on its aggression. – Washington Examiner

United States

Authorities are investigating a Texas shooter’s possible links to white supremacist ideology, according to law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the probe, following a killing spree at a suburban Dallas mall on Saturday. – Wall Street Journal

The Proud Boys organization has branched out since 2020, researchers say, withstanding criminal prosecutions and lawsuits against members who joined in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. – Wall Street Journal

Federal prosecutors urged a federal judge late Friday to sentence Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to 25 years in prison for plotting to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, casting the punishment for the far-right group’s leader as a critical moment in the reckoning with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. – Wall Street Journal

For years, U.S. officials’ ability to share information about Americans held in hostile foreign nations was tied to a permission form that detainees often weren’t able to sign—a bureaucratic impasse that compounded family distress and at times complicated their situations. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Mr. Biden’s claims about his son’s innocence complicate the job of federal prosecutors. Such a high-profile probe is always fraught with political implications, and many Americans will assume political influence if there is no indictment. But Mr. Biden shouldn’t feed those suspicions with his public statements. – Wall Street Journal

George Landrith writes: It is time for America to stop dismantling our energy infrastructure and focus on real problems. Poverty isn’t helpful to achieving good outcomes in healthcare, education, mental health, or a sense of well-being and security. We need policies that give Americans the best opportunities to be employed, well-paid and self-sufficient. We can do that and be environmentally responsible — while at the same time, strengthening America’s national security. – Daily Caller


Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-N.Y.) has unveiled a bill to make the sharing of deepfake pornography without consent illegal, a response to the accelerated advancement of artificial intelligence and digitally manipulated content. – The Hill

Cybersecurity threats, especially from Iran, have increasingly become an issue in the Middle East for more than a decade as the number and type of these attacks – against countries, entities and organizations – proliferate. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Ms. Khan is usurping the federal court’s authority over the consent decree and pre-empting Congress. Senators introduced two bipartisan bills last week that would impose safeguards on the personal information of children and teens across major social-media platforms, including TikTok. Ms. Khan seems unconcerned by TikTok’s privacy practices. Our guess is that she’s targeting Meta because a federal court rejected her effort to block Meta’s acquisition of the virtual reality app developer Within Unlimited. Too bad there’s no penalty other than legal defeats for regulators who are unfair and abusive. – Wall Street Journal

David E. Sanger writes: Some experts say that since it would be impossible to stop the spread of ChatGPT and similar software, the best hope is to limit the specialty chips and other computing power needed to advance the technology. That will doubtless be one of many different arms control plans put forward in the next few years, at a time when the major nuclear powers, at least, seem uninterested in negotiating over old weapons, much less new ones. – New York Times

Jeremy Straub writes: Regulation of AI should center around its usage, as opposed to how it functions, in order to avoid the regulation of intellectual processes and expression. This approach avoids interfering with innovation and avoids potential conflicts with constitutional free speech rights. – The Hill

Jason Blessing writes: The apparent rift between White House rhetoric and intelligence agencies’ desires for private-sector surveillance capabilities makes this even more of an uphill battle. Any action to reduce the spread and abuse of spyware tools requires greater transparency and accountability — starting at home. If America cannot rein in its own spyware appetite, the Biden administration’s collaborative efforts abroad will become nothing more than empty symbolic gestures. Unfortunately, the White House is off to a poor start. – Washington Examiner

Christopher Porter writes: America’s spies are telling us there is a direct, credible, foreseeable threat to U.S. citizens coming in only a few years; it’s past time to take them seriously and move beyond the standard toolkit for cybersecurity. – The National Interest


The U.S. Navy on Saturday commissioned the USS Cooperstown in honor of 70 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame players who served in the military during wartime. The littoral combat ship is named after the village in New York state where the Hall is located. – Associated Press

The U.S. Army is leaving behind what it formally recognizes as “capability sets” for an approach to upgrading networking gear multiple generals said is more fluid and applicable to the service’s 2030 and 2040 goals. – Defense News

James Stavridis writes: These two new ship classes have a broad range of uses, both in noncombatant roles like evacuations but also in support of combat. To name a few potential missions: operations in the island chains of the western Pacific; oil and gas protection off the coast of Norway; counterterrorism at the Horn of Africa or islands in the Philippines; natural-disaster relief; medical diplomacy; and further evacuations of noncombatants. The nature of security is far broader than simply lobbing Tomahawk missiles, dropping precision-guided bombs or landing Marines. The Brunswick and Puller are showing a wide spectrum of abilities for conducting operations fit for the modern world. – Bloomberg

Long War

The Belgian authorities have arrested an Iraqi man suspected of involvement in a Qaeda terrorist cell that was partly responsible for a series of bombings nearly 15 years ago that killed at least 376 people in Iraq, Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office said on Friday. – New York Times

Palestinian terror group Hamas warned on Sunday that it would not let Israel “Judaize” Jerusalem ahead of a controversial nationalist march through the Muslim Quarter of the capital’s Old City set for later this week. – Times of Israel

Suraj Ganesan and Meili Criezis write: Although there is plenty of wide-ranging IS-aligned content about India and the wider South Asia region present within pro-IS virtual ecosystems, the fact that these two prominent Hoop channels focus intensely on Muslim women provided an opportunity to examine specific gendered narratives that are being disseminated about Muslim women in India. Providing a descriptive review of narratives promoted by a unique pair of pro-IS South Asian channels helps in further understanding how IS supporters attempt to craft unofficial propaganda on a regional level designed to connect with a particular target audience—albeit rather unsuccessfully in this case. – Hudson Institute