FPI Overnight Brief: May 22, 2017

The Must-Reads

  • Trump softens tone on Islam, calls for purge of “foot soldiers of evil”
  • Abrams: Trump’s statesman like speech in Riyadh
  • China crippled US intel by killing CIA informants
  • N. Korea fires missile, whirlwind progress sharpens threat
  • Ray Takeyh: Rouhani isn’t a reformer, he’s an enabler
  • US, Europe face divisions over Iran policy
  • Rogin: How Trump could deal a blow to Iran, save Syria
  • Obama backed off Syrian chem weapons plan to assuage Russia
  • Michael Singh: How to botch a peace deal with Israel
  • New Defense budget poised to meet lowered expectations
  • FPI’s Moyar on the Vietnam War, birth of US Special Ops

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
Riding a large turnout from Iran’s urban middle classes, President Hassan Rouhani won re-election in a landslide on Saturday, giving him a mandate to continue his quest to expand personal freedoms and open Iran’s ailing economy to global investors. – New York Times
 
The landslide re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatens to put the Trump administration on a collision course with Europe over future policy toward Tehran. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
A decisive re-election win for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is likely to fuel his push for foreign investment and better relations with the West, but it will also likely mobilize conservative forces that have resisted rapprochement and advocate domestic development. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Iranians came out in force to dance in the streets this weekend, breaking Islamic rules, to celebrate the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani by a large margin. Emboldened by the election results, others gathered in the capital, Tehran, to begin demanding what they hope a second term for Mr. Rouhani will bring: the release of opposition figures, more freedom of thought and fewer restrictions on daily life. – New York Times
 
Donald Trump has launched a fierce attack on Iran, just a day after the country re-elected its moderate president on a platform of re-engagement with the outside world. – Financial Times
 
Ray Takeyh writes: The Islamic Republic was an ideological experiment born in a century that witnessed so many attempts to bend human will to whims of vanguards of history. The revolution has now exhausted itself, and cannot meet either the material needs or the political aspirations of its constituents. The theocratic regime insists on marching toward the dustbin of history and the only question remains whether America can hasten that march. - Politico
 
Eli Lake writes: It's understandable that Iranians forced to live under the thumb of the mullahs voted for the least-worst option. But Westerners should never lose sight of a better Iran, where politicians can actually deliver on popular promises to free dissidents and support equal rights for women. Congratulating Iran for its fake elections only legitimizes a system where real elections are not possible. – Bloomberg View
 
Syria
 
The Pentagon has stepped up communication with the Russian military over Syria, a top official said Friday as the Trump administration lays plans for future operations likely to thrust U.S. forces closer to Russian and Syrian troops. – Washington Post
 
The Pentagon said Friday that a rare U.S. airstrike against pro-government forces in Syria targeted a convoy of Iran-backed troops, appearing to mark an important shift in the country’s war. – Washington Post
 
Throughout most of his presidency, Barack Obama and his top advisors professed a desire to see President Bashar al-Assad’s regime held accountable for its crimes against the Syrian people. But the State Department’s top brass balked when staff at the U.S. mission to the United Nations drafted a plan in the fall of 2014 to point the finger at the regime for a series of chlorine attacks in Syria, fearing it might upend efforts to secure Russia’s support for peace in Syria and jeopardize an Iran nuclear pact, according to former State Department officials. – Foreign Policy
 
The United States has proposed a plan to Russia for managing an increasingly complex battlefield in Syria's main oil-producing region, where U.S.-backed forces fighting Islamic extremists are in conflict with Russia-backed Syrian forces. – Associated Press
 
Josh Rogin reports: Despite President Trump’s reluctance to get deeply involved in the Syrian civil war, the United States now finds itself in the middle of an escalating battle in the country’s south that last week led to a clash between the U.S. military and Iranian-backed pro-government forces. If he can seize the opportunity, Trump could deal a blow to Iranian regional influence and help save Syria in the process. – Washington Post
 
Raymond Tanter and Edward Stafford write: By sitting on the sidelines in the diplomatic process to end the Syrian Civil War, President Trump diminishes his ability to influence outcomes. He should authorize American diplomats to engage with Turkish and Russian counterparts to craft an accord excluding Iran. – The National Interest
 
Iraq
 
The last handful of neighborhoods held by the Islamic State in Mosul will likely be the most difficult to retake despite nearly eight months of street-by-street fighting, the U.S. officer in charge of advising Iraqi forces in the area predicted. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
 
ISIS
 
The United States began accelerating and intensifying its campaign against the Islamic State in January, at President Trump’s direction, but it was not putting civilians in war zones at greater risk, the defense secretary said Friday. – New York Times
 
Senior national security officials Friday outlined what they claim is a new approach to addressing the Islamic State, the same day President Donald Trump left for an extended overseas trip with the first leg of the journey touching down in the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia and Israel. – Roll Call
 
Saudi Arabia
 
President Trump sought to rally leaders from around the Muslim world on Sunday in a renewed campaign against extremism, rejecting the idea that the fight is a battle between religions even as he promised not to chastise them about human rights violations in their own countries. – New York Times
 
President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia underscored the calculation he and his foreign policy advisers have made when it comes to questions of human rights around the world. Mr. Trump and his team made clear they were willing to publicly overlook repression in places like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states whose leaders met here over the weekend — as long as they are allies in areas the president considers more important, namely security and economics. – New York Times
 
President Trump made a splashy debut on the world stage here Saturday, ushering in a new era in U.S.-Saudi Arabian relations by signing a joint “strategic vision” that includes $110 billion in American arms sales and other new investments that the administration said would bring hundreds of thousands of jobs. – Washington Post
 
Ivanka Trump brought her message of female empowerment Sunday to the world’s most repressive society for women, a place where women are not allowed to drive, must cover themselves from head to toe in public and require permission from a “male guardian” to travel outside their homes. – Washington Post
 
Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom touted by President Trump as a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State, has helped block a Trump administration proposal to impose sanctions against a Saudi branch of the terrorist group, documents show. – Washington Post
 
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia touted more than $400 billion in deals and potential investments during President Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh, collectively sending a message that the kingdom was open for business. That was the easy part. Saudi Arabia remains a tough place for foreign companies, observers say. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
In a country where cinemas are banned and even Starbucks are segregated by gender, a powerful young prince is pushing a plan to create jobs for women and a more integrated and satisfying social life for a youthful population long straitjacketed by oppressive cultural norms. – Washington Post
 
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Saturday slammed the $110 billion defense deal President Trump signed with Saudi Arabia, saying the U.S. is relying on a country with "the worst human rights record in the region" to bring peace and security to the Middle East. – The Hill
 
Saudi Arabia is set to pull the trigger on a $6-billion deal to purchase four Lockheed Martin-built frigates based on the company’s Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship, as part of a major Foreign Military Sales case, USNI News has learned. – USNI News
 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a news conference with the Saudi foreign minister in Riyadh on Sunday, but he left the American media behind. - Politico
 
Analysis: In using the headline address of his first foreign trip as president to declare his commitment to Sunni Arab nations, Mr. Trump signaled a return to an American policy built on alliances with Arab autocrats, regardless of their human rights records or policies that sometimes undermine American interests. – New York Times
 
Editorial: The eight-year decline of U.S. credibility in the Middle East can’t be reversed in a single summit, but Mr. Trump’s weekend in Riyadh is a promising start that will be noticed from Tehran to Damascus to Moscow. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Elliott Abrams writes: This visit to Riyadh has cemented old friendships and showed the Sunni Muslim world that we are on their side against Iran and its dreams of Shia hegemony. It offered American help in the military, intelligence, and police actions needed against terrorism. But it offered no explanation of the origins of terrorism and extremism, and no suggestions as to how we and our Muslim allies can change those conditions so that the terrorists do not gain new cadres every year. – National Review Online
 
Anne Applebaum writes: Before he moves on to Israel and then to Europe, before we are consumed by the next scandal and forget, here is a list, for the record, of just a few of the ways in which President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia was bizarre, unseemly, unethical and un-American. – Washington Post
 
Richard Haass writes: Saudi and its conservative Sunni allies will be hard-pressed to match Iran, even with their new arms purchased from the US. It is unlikely, too, that Mr Trump will want to translate his anti-Iranian rhetoric into a full-fledged anti-Iranian policy, given what that would entail. All of which is to say there are no signs that the Saudi-Iranian relationship is about to take a turn for the better. Indeed, as the deputy crown prince warned, it could all too easily take a turn for the worse. – Financial Times
 
Levant
 
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, touring a sprawling refugee camp and other facilities in Jordan serving refugees, vowed support on Sunday for those displaced by the region’s conflicts. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The United States and Saudi Arabia formally designated a senior leader of the Iranian-backed extremist group Hezbollah as a terrorist on Friday, the State Department announced. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Israel
 
President Trump began a two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank on Monday, wading into a generations-old Middle East standoff that will be an early test of whether his business deal-making skills can translate to the world of international diplomacy. – New York Times
 
President Trump promised to be a better friend to Israel than Barack Obama was, but as the new U.S. president prepares to visit Israel, frustrations that soured U.S.-Israeli relations in the past are beginning to return. – Washington Post
 
Unlike the royal pomp and ceremony with which President Trump was greeted over the weekend in Saudi Arabia, the plans for his arrival on Monday in Israel had devolved into an unseemly political ruckus before Air Force One touched down. – New York Times
 
Amid a flurry of controversies in Washington, D.C., President Donald Trump will land in Israel early Monday for the second leg of his first foreign jaunt, where "more history is about to be made," according to senior White House officials. – Washington Free Beacon
 
As helicopters fly over Jerusalem in preparation for hosting U.S. President Donald Trump Monday, many here are wary about his mammoth $110 billion deal with Saudi Arabia inked Saturday. – Defense News
 
Editorial: It has been 22 years since Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, requiring State to relocate the embassy. Every six months since, a U.S. President has signed a waiver to delay the move. It’s unfortunate see that President Trump, too, has wavered on this commitment. The least he can do for those who believed his campaign promise is to explain why he now believes he can’t keep it.  – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Michael Singh writes: This is where President Trump should begin: by asking how to create the possibility of an agreement, rather than worrying too much about what such an agreement would look like. The actions involved in doing so not only hold better long-term prospects for fostering peace than any summit or conference, but will advance American interests whether or not peace is achieved in the next four to eight years. – The National Interest
 
Oded Revivi writes: Millions of Americans voted for Mr. Trump because they were tired of business as usual. They saw him as a blue-collar billionaire who empathized with them and could get them back to work. If Mr. Trump really wants to broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he will need a lot of patience. Like the skyscrapers that bear his name, this deal will have to be built from the ground up, one brick at a time. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Turkey
 
In a signal that Turkey faces indefinite rule by decree, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday that a state of emergency, introduced as a temporary measure after last year’s failed coup, would continue until the country achieved “welfare and peace.” – New York Times
 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson scolded the Turkish ambassador this week after security guards wounded protesters outside Turkey's embassy in Washington. – Washington Examiner
 
Turkey has begun the trial of more than 220 suspects accused of being among the ringleaders of the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
When Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected president in 2014, Turkey’s constitution required him to be impartial, forcing him to leave the political party he had helped create, which has ruled the country for the past 15 years. But on Sunday, he reassumed the leadership of the party, the Islamist-rooted AKP, having secured constitutional changes in a titanic referendum campaign that delivered a slim Yes vote this month. – Financial Times
 
The chief of NATO says he's in touch with both Germany and Turkey regarding their latest dispute over visiting rights to a Turkish air base where German soldiers are stationed. – Associated Press
 
Editorial: What occurred Tuesday, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham unequivocally told us, was “an unexpected assault on peaceful protesters.” It is infuriating then that the Turkish government — rather than apologizing for its unlawful behavior — has the temerity to say that it hopes “in the future, appropriate measures” will be taken to prevent violence. Here’s an idea: Mr. Erdogan and his thugs can stay home. – Washington Post

Asia

Afghanistan
 
In a two-pronged attack in a southern Afghan province, the Taliban shelled the provincial capital city with rockets and then raided police outposts in a neighboring district, killing at least 20 officers and wounding six others, officials said on Sunday. – New York Times
 
In the dark of night and amid a criminal investigation into rape accusations against him, Afghanistan’s embattled vice president, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, left for Turkey on Friday in what Afghan and Western officials suggested could be another long exile for the former warlord. – New York Times
 
When the fugitive warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar returned home to a lavish official welcome last month, abandoning his 16-year insurgency and forgiven for a history of wartime abuses, he was ­expected to quickly take up the cause of peace and set a conciliatory example for Taliban insurgents.  Instead, the fiery Islamist leader has landed like a bombshell in the roiling world of Afghan politics, publicly insulting President Ashraf Ghani, reneging on a pledge to disarm several thousand loyal fighters, and leaving the stunned capital wondering if inviting him back was a huge mistake. – Washington Post
 
East Asia
 
The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward. – New York Times
 
China is considering delaying contentious cybersecurity rules set to go into effect in June amid pushback from international groups, Reuters reported. – The Hill
 
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s sudden rush to change the pacifist constitution that has defined Japan’s security policy since World War II risks eroding his popularity before an election due by the end of next year. - Bloomberg
 
Korean Peninsula
 
North Korea fired a missile on Sunday, a week after its successful test of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile, South Korean officials said. – New York Times
 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s call to mass produce a relatively new missile that it test-launched for the first time just three months ago underscores the isolated country’s rapid progress in building up a range of capabilities for its growing missile arsenal. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
If diplomatic efforts fail and a conventional war ensued with all but nuclear weapons being deployed, experts agree that the scenario would involve massive amounts of U.S. and South Korean forces in the first days — and possibly drag on for many months or longer. – Military Times
 
Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s new president, on Sunday began filling key cabinet posts, including finance and foreign affairs, as he embarked on his attempt to set a new course for the east Asian nation through its economic and security troubles. – Financial Times
 
Handcuffed, her inmate number 503 attached to her clothing, former South Korean President Park Geun-hye begins her corruption trial Tuesday in the same courtroom where a brutal dictator was sentenced to death two decades ago. – Associated Press
 
Josh Rogin reports: After a heated South Korean election campaign that presaged tensions with the United States, the country’s new leader is trying to get off on the right foot with President Trump. The early courtship seems to be going well, but some fundamental challenges loom for the two rookie presidents. – Washington Post
 
Olivia Enos writes: The NKHRA, if enacted, would press China to discontinue its forcible repatriation of refugees. It would also ensure that U.S. law is carried out, and that any person – North Korean, Chinese or other – found guilty of committing human rights abuses in North Korea is sanctioned. - Forbes
 
Southeast Asia
 
A bomb wounded 24 people at a military-owned hospital in Bangkok on Monday, the third anniversary of the army’s seizing power in Thailand. – New York Times
 
The police have arrested 141 men at a sauna in the Indonesian capital on suspicion of having a gay sex party, the latest crackdown on homosexuality by the government. – New York Times
 
China’s president warned the Philippines that it would go to war if Manila insisted on enforcing an international arbitration decision rejecting China’s claims over disputed areas of the South China Sea, the Philippine president said in a televised speech on Friday. – New York Times
 
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte flies to Russia on May 22 to meet President Vladimir Putin and strengthen ties, part of an apparent efforts to steer his nation's foreign policy course further away from the United States, Manila's longtime ally. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Mark Moyar writes: In other words, the public’s turn against the [Vietnam] war was not inevitable; it was, rather, the result of a failure by policy makers to explain and persuade Americans to support it. Today, with the country engaged in two distinct, long-running conflicts and the possibility that others could flare up at any moment, it’s a lesson that our current leaders should take to heart. – New York Times
 
Trans-Pacific Partnership
 
The 11 countries left in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement have backed a proposal to continue with the pact, despite U.S. President Donald Trump pulling out of it in January, New Zealand’s trade minister said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Security

Defense Budget
 
Pro-military U.S. lawmakers believe the Pentagon needs a major boost above U.S. President Donald Trump's budget, but it’s unlikely Congress will oblige this year. – Defense News
 
A liberal-leaning think tank has posted what it claims are budget figures for U.S. President Donald Trump’s first budget days before it will be formally unveiled. – Defense News
 
All hands, brace for disappointment. The president’s promised naval buildup won’t begin in the 2018 budget out next week — or maybe ever. – Breaking Defense
 
Defense
 
The Air Force is aggressively accelerating its hypersonic weapons development effort, following findings from a recent service report identifying Russian and Chinese ongoing hypersonic weapons testing. – Scout Warrior
 
An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would be able to use its sensors, weapons and computer technology to destroy Russian and Chinese 5th-Generation Stealth fighters in a high-end combat fight, service officials said. – Scout Warrior
 
The Air Force is reving up electronic warfare upgrades for its F-15 fighter as a way to better protect against enemy fire and electronic attacks, service officials said. – Scout Warrior
 
The U.S. Army is poised to step into a new world of armor protection if it equips its tanks and combat vehicles with anti-missile technology such as Trophy, an active protection system that cut its teeth with Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip. – Military.com
 
The next “Mother of All Bombs” will probably be smaller, leaner and lighter but will still pack a punch. It’s what scientists and engineers at the Air Force Research Lab are working on as part of their next-generation munition concept. – Defense Tech
 
The Marine Corps' longstanding tradition of having two-tiered fitness requirements for men and women aims to ensure fairness, but a growing chorus of critics say it creates a double standard and implies that female Marines are not as physically capable as men. – Military Times
 
The War
 
FPI’s Mark Moyar writes: Like any good coming-of-age story, the story of special-operations forces is interwoven with a colorful cast of characters….The story includes first crushes, rites of passage, harrowing action scenes, falls from grace, and redemption. As a story of war, it has more than its share of suffering, glory, and death. – National Review Online
 
Cybersecurity
 
A couple of things about the WannaCry cyberattack are certain. It was the biggest in history and it’s a scary preview of things to come — we’re all going to have to get used to hearing the word “ransomware.” But one thing is a lot less clear: whether North Korea had anything to do with it. – Associated Press
 
Samantha Ravich writes: As the Trump Administration begins work on its National Security Strategy, it should not only take note of this new battlefield, but also properly develop and resource the tools and capabilities needed to recognize, understand, and defend against it. While U.S. Cyber Command, the Homeland Security Department, and the FBI play critical roles in this effort, broader skills are also necessary….Without a more forward-leaning strategy, the Trump Administration will repeat the failures of its predecessors and leave the U.S. private sector to battle foreign adversaries in cyberspace alone. – The Cipher Brief

Russia/Europe

Ukraine
 
Christian Caryl writes: Kiev’s decision to cut off access to Russian social media networks may very well serve as a harbinger of things to come. By now it’s widely understood that the Internet has opened up new possibilities for transforming information into a weapon of war, a tool for the projection of power beyond national borders. How should the rest of the world respond? – Washington Post
 
Russia
 
President Donald Trump is limited in his ability to cooperate with Moscow because of investigations of possible connections between Russia and his 2016 campaign, a top adviser said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
United Russia, the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, has completed a report into how U.S. media outlets tried to influence Russia’s Sept. 2016 regional elections. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
The lawyer, Aleksei Navalny, published a video in March that went viral, alleging Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had amassed illicit wealth, in part by receiving expensive property from businessmen like Alisher Usmanov, who has parlayed mining investments into vast fortunes. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Europe
 
Tbilisi condemns any effort to drive a wedge between it and the European Union -- that was the message that emerged from a meeting on May 19 between Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Dondua and Ambassador Herbert Salber, the EU special representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
A Romanian cyber intelligence official has confirmed the foreign ministry had been the target of a “surgical, targeted, specialized” cyberattack likely orchestrated by another country. – Associated Press
 
Editorial: Policy debates will shift rapidly during Brexit negotiations, so Britain will have more reform openings. But the wasted election opportunity would be to emerge with a large Tory majority but a mandate for doing little. Then again, the polls have begun to close notably in recent days as voters seem unenthralled with Mrs. May’s tepid Tory manifesto. Imagine the shock if by playing it safe Mrs. May has given the Jeremy Corbyn Labourites a chance. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Seth Lipsky writes: Julian Assange is all smiles after Sweden dropped its rape charge against him. He may be hoping to make it to Ecuador, which is unlikely to extradite him to America. Then again, we could always seize him and spirit him here to face justice. We wouldn’t have to resort to the extradition process. The Supreme Court might even prefer it that way. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
NATO
 
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, under pressure from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, is planning a new spending initiative that will use additional money to fill armament gaps, according to a draft of the proposal reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Gary Schmitt writes: Two percent of GDP is not a perfect metric for defense spending. Nor is it meant to suggest that other security accounts, such as foreign aid, be stripped so as to reach the pledged level. But it is a sign, an assurance, that allies do take seriously their North Atlantic Treaty commitment to “maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.” If that requires a slight reordering of national spending priorities after years of increased spending on welfare and domestic programs, then, that seems a small price to pay for an alliance that is far from being “obsolete.” – US News and World Report

Americas

United States of America
 
President Donald Trump’s budget proposal this week will include provisions to end many foreign military grants administered by the State Department and replace them with loans, a move that could affect up to $1 billion in aid to dozens of countries if Congress approves, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter. – Washington Post
 
More than 200 business leaders sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday urging him to strongly support the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development Budget. – WSJ’s Washington Wire (subscription required)
 
Two days after firing Michael Flynn as his national security adviser in February, President Donald Trump told several aides and friends he should have kept him instead. - Politico
 
A White House National Security Council analyst who was sidelined from the job after the Pentagon suspended his security clearance is blaming anti-Trump bureaucrats for the action. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Trump is renominating Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Pentagon announced Friday. – The Hill
 
Civilian and uniform leaders of the Armed Services must report by the end of the month on their readiness to accept transgender recruits. – The Hill
 
Comey/FBI
 
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting. – New York Times
 
Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday that the coming testimony of James B. Comey will be a crucial moment for the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election and that “the American people deserve” answers from the ousted FBI director. – Washington Times
 
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told lawmakers that former FBI Director James Comey did not ask for more resources for the probe into Russia's election meddling shortly before he was fired. – The Hill
 
National security adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday said President Trump brought up the firing of former FBI Director James Comey during his recent meeting with Russian officials to explain how he has become "hamstrung" by the media storm surrounding the agency's investigation into Russia and his campaign. – Washington Examiner
 
Trump/Classified Information
 
Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) on Sunday walked back earlier comments that the controversy surrounding investigations into potential collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and the Russian government had reached “Watergate size and scale.” – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Just days before President Donald Trump’s arrival in Tel Aviv, Israeli intelligence officials were shouting at their American counterparts in meetings, furious over news that the U.S. commander in chief may have compromised a vital source of information on the Islamic State and possibly Iran, according to a U.S. defense official in military planning. – Foreign Policy
 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated Monday that President Trump won't be apologizing to Israeli officials he visits this week after reportedly sharing intelligence with Russian officials that came from Israel. – Washington Examiner
 
Latin America
 
Nicaragua is denying that a recently activated land-based satellite station donated by Russia has the purpose of spying on the region or the United States. – Defense News
 
Mexico’s conservative opposition National Action Party (PAN) and the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) have called for a “broad alliance” for the 2018 presidential elections in an attempt to oust the ruling PRI party and halt maverick leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador. – Financial Times
 
Editorial: It’s good that Mr. Peña Nieto immediately and strongly condemned Mr. Valdez’s murder, but that is clearly not enough. Recommendations of the CPJ report should be embraced, and the chronic failure of the judicial system in investigating and prosecuting crimes must be addressed. A good place to start is making a priority of finding those who shot Mr. Valdez and those who ordered it. – Washington Post
 
Brazil
 
Brazilian President Michel Temer on Saturday said he would ask the Supreme Court to suspend its investigation into allegations he was involved in a giant corruption scheme, vowing to remain in power. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Allegations by executives at meat processor JBS SA that they paid bribes to the president and his two predecessors mark an escalation of the clash between Brazil’s political establishment and its business magnates, putting the company and the government at further risk. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The pressure on President Michel Temer increased on Sunday, when Brazil’s bar association voted to back his impeachment, as the country’s political crisis deepened. – Financial Times

Africa

West Africa
 
Eighty-two Nigerian schoolgirls released several weeks ago after more than three years in Boko Haram captivity were reunited with their families on Saturday, as anxious parents looked for signs of how deeply their daughters might have changed in the hands of the extremists. – Associated Press
 
Central/Southern Africa
 
Long plagued by corruption and inept government, people in the Democratic Republic of Congo were confronting a new problem on Friday: thousands of prisoners on the lam, including hard-core felons and possibly war criminals. – New York Times
 
The United Nations Security Council…left the investigation to Congo, a nation where violence, corruption and impunity are so widespread that the United Nations has had to spend billions of dollars over the years in a failed effort to bring peace and stability. Indeed, a big focus of Ms. Catalán and her colleagues was whether the Congolese government played a role in the massacre and broader chaos she was investigating. – New York Times
 
As Africa’s second-longest-serving head of state, with nearly 38 years in power, Mr. dos Santos appeared to be a member of the continent’s club of lifetime leaders…But as campaigning started recently for Angola’s coming elections, something surprising happened: Mr. dos Santos, 74, whose face appears on the country’s currency and every citizens’ national identity card, was not running. – New York Times

Trump Administration

The Czech Republic is just one of several countries that see the first daughter as an avenue of entry into her father’s White House, citing the image she has cultivated as culturally curious and active on policy as reason to think she will be receptive to their outreach. A relationship with the first daughter is coveted because she and her husband, Jared Kushner, are top White House advisers with broad, largely undefined portfolios, stretching from domestic to foreign policy, and an all-important familial connection that gives them rare influence. – Washington Post
 
As President Trump begins his first foreign trip, seven of the nine senior State Department roles under Secretary Rex Tillerson remain vacant, including his top deputy. The only two officials in senior roles were appointed by former President Obama and have been kept on. – The Hill
 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says President Trump's views on Islam "continue to evolve." Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as the president arrived in Israel on Monday, Tillerson was asked if Trump still believes Islam "hates us," as he said during the campaign. – Washington Examiner
 
Kori Schake writes: McMaster is an active duty military officer, bound by an oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and by a code of honor that not only does not permit lying but also rejects standing by in silence as others lie. As the military adage related earlier this year in these pages by Maj. Matt Cavanaugh holds, if you choose to walk past someone who is acting below standard, then you’ve just created a new standard. – War on the Rocks

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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