FPI Overnight Brief: June 22, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
The United Nations secretary general appears to have softened his predecessor’s criticism of Iran last year over its missile tests, a volatile issue in Iran’s relationships with other powers, including Israel and the United States. – New York Times
 
A senior Iranian leader and confidant of the Islamic Republic's president is threatening to "depose" President Donald Trump if he continues his policy of confronting Iran and its terror proxy groups in the Middle East, according to recent comments that come as Iranian military leaders threaten missile strikes on U.S. forces and bases in the region. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Syria
 
Trump administration officials, anticipating the defeat of the Islamic State in its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, are planning for what they see as the next stage of the war, a complex fight that will bring them into direct conflict with Syrian government and Iranian forces contesting control of a vast desert stretch in the eastern part of the country. – Washington Post
 
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said the military and government are trying to lower tensions with Russia in the wake of the Navy's shooting down of a Syrian fighter jet. – Military Times
 
U.S.-backed Syrian militias closed in on Islamic State's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa on Wednesday, taking territory on the south bank of the Euphrates River with the aim of encircling the city, a militia spokesman told Reuters. - Reuters
 
Western-backed Syrian rebels holding a strategic swathe of the desert southeast stretching to the Iraqi border said they came under major attack from government forces and allied Iranian-backed militias backed by Russian air power. - Reuters
 
Turkey bolstered its ground forces in northern Syria in a possible lead-up to renewed battles between the Turkish military and local Kurdish forces, a monitoring group and a Syrian opposition commander said Wednesday. – Associated Press
 
The United States has told Turkey it will take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, Ankara said on Thursday, seeking to address Turkish concerns about arming Kurds on its border. - Reuters
 
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered weekend missile strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, Revolutionary Guards said, contradicting a previous report that they were authorised by the country's security council. - Reuters
 
Frederic Hof writes: One doubts that the Trump administration has a fully formed Syria strategy. One fears that a major obstacle to its creation may be fear of the heavy, sustained lift required to implement something meaningful. It was this fear, along with a misplaced and inappropriate respect for Iranian interests in Syria, that paralyzed a scholarly but operationally illiterate Obama administration. Perhaps its successor will also be content with “no-can-do” instead of deciding what to do and how to get it. Syria is an excellent test case. – Atlantic Council
 
Iraq
 
The Islamic State on Wednesday night destroyed Mosul’s centuries-old Al Nuri Grand Mosque and its distinctive leaning minaret, one of Iraq’s most famous landmarks, according to the Iraqi and American militaries. – New York Times
 
More than 5 million children are in urgent need of aid in Iraq, the United Nations said on Thursday, describing the war on Islamic State as "one of the most brutal" in modern history. - Reuters
 
Arabian Peninsula
 
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, pressing for a diplomatic resolution to a feud among Washington’s Arab allies, said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and other countries have compiled a list of demands for Qatar, and urged that talks move ahead. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Hundreds of men swept up in the hunt for al-Qaida militants have disappeared into a secret network of prisons in southern Yemen where abuse is routine and torture extreme — including the "grill," in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire, an Associated Press investigation has found. – Associated Press
 
Saudi Arabia
 
President Trump wasted no time on Wednesday calling the newly named crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. Less than 24 hours after King Salman elevated Prince Mohammed, his 31-year-old son, Mr. Trump offered congratulations and celebrated the monarchy’s cooperation in rooting out terrorist financing and other issues – New York Times
 
Brace for more turbulence. The dynastic struggle in Saudi Arabia is over, and power—for all practical purposes—is now in the hands of a young generation of princes determined to show the Middle East who’s the boss. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Modernity has walloped Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most ossified societies, and today it is struggling to maintain the economic and political power it built on giant crude-oil reserves. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Saudi Arabia's new crown prince and likely next king shares U.S. President Donald Trump's hawkish view of Iran, but a more confrontational approach toward Tehran carries a risk of escalation in an unstable region, current and former U.S. officials said. - Reuters
 
Editorial: A moderate and prosperous Saudi Arabia would bolster stability across the Arab world and is squarely in the U.S. national interest. Washington should support and encourage the young prince as he pursues change. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Elliott Abrams writes: Right goals, but who can say if he will succeed? And meanwhile, MbS must help his elderly father cope with Iranian expansionism, war in Syria and Yemen, Islamist and jihadi challenges, and a long list of other worries. Uneasy lies the head that will now, clearly and for a very long time, wear the crown. – National Review Online
 
Karen Elliott House writes: With the succession settled, Saudi citizens are more likely to buckle down and accept painful change. The U.S. should welcome this clarity and do all it can to support reform inside Saudi Arabia as the best way to enhance both stability and human rights. The Trump administration also should welcome the prospect of working with a Saudi leader who seems to have bet his role in the royal family on partnership with the U.S. and assertive opposition to Iran. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Danielle Pletka writes: . It’s not that Obama’s “Iran First” policy was right. Or that working more closely with the Saudis (and Emiratis) is wrong. But that at the end of the day, nothing – not a new face in the palace in Riyadh, nor even a transformation of the Saudi approach to the world — will substitute for an American-led strategy in the region. And on that, at least in Washington, we are still waiting. – AEI Ideas
 
Egypt
 
Pope Francis is long gone from Egypt, but his April trip intensified a growing unease among Coptic Christians about President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s embrace of their 10 million-strong community. – Washington Times
 
Nina Shea writes: Eventually the polarization within the Muslim community could even lead to open civil war along ideological lines. There should be no confusion: the fate of the Copts is now the main measure of the effectiveness of Sisi’s anti-ISIS policies. The world needs to be playing close attention. – Foreign Affairs’ Snapshots
 
Levant
 
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser, Jared Kushner, met Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior advisers to try to advance U.S. efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The next war in Lebanon will be so powerfully punishing — with thousands of targets struck in the first day of an attack — that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians will have to leave their homes or risk falling victim to “collateral damage,” according to top Israeli military commanders here. – Defense News

Asia

Afghanistan
 
A car bombing killed at least 22 people and wounded 50 as they lined up at a bank to collect their pay on Thursday in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan, according to Afghan officials. – New York Times
 
The United States spent up to $28 million more than it had to on camouflage uniforms for the Afghan National Army because of the sartorial tastes of a single Afghan official, an American government watchdog said on Wednesday. – New York Times
 
Obama-era cuts to U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan caused "critical shortfalls" among military personnel and has increased risks to American-led forces operating in the country, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday. – Washington Free Beacon
 
The security situation in Afghanistan remains "intensely volatile," according to a new report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Protesters in Afghanistan are vowing to defy authorities and continue their antigovernment demonstrations despite the bloodiest crackdown on dissent in that country since the overthrow of the Taliban regime 16 years ago. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
The Afghan Taliban released a video on Wednesday showing an American and an Australian hostage asking their governments to help negotiate a prisoner exchange with their captors to secure their release. - Reuters
 
Eli Lake reports: Every disclosure about the Trump administration's forthcoming Afghanistan strategy triggers a chorus like a Passover seder: Why is this strategy different from all other strategies?....This week, a senior administration official working on the strategy explained some of them and made the case that this time the Afghanistan strategy has a chance for success where others failed. – Bloomberg View
 
Thomas Spoehr writes: It’s a proven fact that delegating a measure of authority to trusted subordinates is a way to create a shared sense of responsibility among your team. President Trump’s decision to delegate authority will do more than benefit U.S. military efforts. The delegation itself demonstrates and encourages leadership, which is a quality in short supply in Washington right now. It should be applauded, not condemned. – The National Interest
 
South Asia
 
Lockheed Martin is still waiting for India to make a decision on its fighter jet competition. However, in the event of a win, the company feels assured its proposal to move the F-16 line to India won’t raise eyebrows with the Trump administration, despite the president’s focus on keeping jobs in the United States – Defense News
 
India is pushing for U.S. approval of its request to buy a naval variant of the Predator drone, officials said, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to revitalize relations with Washington when he meets President Donald Trump for the first time. - Reuters
 
Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the country's Air Force shot down an unmanned Iranian drone in southwestern Baluchistan province. – Associated Press
 
China
 
The short, unexpected honeymoon that China enjoyed with President Trump seems to be in trouble, dashing hopes in Beijing that the two countries had embarked on a new, businesslike relationship. – New York Times
 
China’s banking regulator has ordered the country’s commercial banks to investigate loans made to a group of companies that have aggressively invested overseas in recent years, according to people with knowledge of the matter. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Because Beijing lacks the hard power of global military strength and the soft power to shape other nation’s attitudes through its economic diversity, one of China’s leading diplomatic scholars said it is not now in China’s interest as a rising power to try and take over the United States’ role in the world in maintaining international order. – USNI News
 
Donald Trump’s trade tsar has fired a warning shot at both Beijing and the World Trade Organisation, cautioning that any decision to label China a “market economy” would have “cataclysmic” consequences for the body. – Financial Times
 
Bill Gertz reports: The political hysteria sweeping Washington over allegations of Russian meddling in the presidential election is reverberating in China. The communist government is worried that a similar wave of anti-China sentiment will take hold in the United States. – Washington Times’ Inside the Ring
 
Korean Peninsula
 
The Trump administration has come under growing pressure to open negotiations on a temporary freeze on North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in return for reducing the American military footprint in the Korean Peninsula, according to American officials and foreign diplomats. – New York Times
 
Top Trump administration officials held high-level meetings Wednesday with their Chinese counterparts as the White House struggles to find new ways to put pressure on North Korea to throttle back its nuclear arms program. – Los Angeles Times
 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis railed against North Korea for its deadly treatment of an imprisoned American student and its unceasing development of an advanced weapons program. Their comments came after meeting with senior Chinese officials Wednesday to hash out a host of security issues, as Washington continues trying to enlist Beijing’s help to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
North Korea is open to temporarily halting its nuclear and missile tests should the United States agree to several demands, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported. – The Hill
 
China proposed halting U.S. military exercises with South Korea as part of a nuclear deal with North Korea during high-level talks at the State Department on Wednesday, according to U.S. officials. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Despite international sanctions, Kim Jong Un continues to enjoy the good life, with recent purchases thought to include a gleaming white yacht, expensive liquors and even the equipment necessary to kit out a luxury ski resort. - CNN
 
Authorities in South Korea are in “emergency mode” as they scramble to head off a threatened cyber attack on the nation’s biggest banks. – Financial Times
 
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday China should do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear program and he would call on President Xi Jinping to 'lift all measures' against South Korean companies taken in retaliation against Seoul's decision to host a U.S. anti-missile defense system. - Reuters
 
Editorial: North Korea is now a few years away from fielding an intercontinental missile, and U.S. options are dwindling. A pre-emptive military strike is the last resort because the Kim regime could kill millions with conventional and nuclear weapons. But now that Beijing has been given the chance to help and either refused or failed, the U.S. and its allies have to use every sanction and other tool available to prevent the Kim regime from doing to millions what it did to Otto Warmbier. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Olivia Enos writes: Thus far, the U.S. has refrained from curtailing American visits to North Korea. While the freedom to travel is a basic and cherished right, the time has come to impose a travel ban. Doing so will eliminate a source of revenue for the regime's nuclear and missile programs. It will also assure that no more Americans fall victim to the arbitrary arrest, detention and abuse suffered by Otto Warmbier. - Forbes
 
East Asia
 
With water rushing around them, sailors aboard the beleaguered USS Fitzgerald faced an agonizing decision…The sailors either had to close off the flooded areas of the ship, or they feared the entire destroyer might go down, according to three active or former members of the Navy familiar with the incident. They decided to seal the doors. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
 
The crew of the guided-missile destroyer that was struck by a merchant ship on Friday off the coast of Japan fought to save the ship for an hour before the first calls went out for help, Japanese investigators now believe. – USNI News
 
The site of a fatal collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a container ship off Japan's coast is notorious for congested sea traffic, particularly during the night when merchant ships are trying to reach Tokyo's port by daybreak. – Associated Press
 
Just a few months ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looked to be cruising to a third term that would make him Japan's longest serving leader and put him on track to achieving his dream of revising its post-war, pacifist constitution. But suspicions he may have helped a friend get favored treatment for a business, then rammed legislation through parliament to close the session and end debate over the issue, have led to a sharp slump in support. - Reuters
 
Southeast Asia
 
State-run newspapers in Vietnam and China reported in recent days that senior military officials from the two countries would hold a fence-mending gathering along a border where their militaries fought a brief but bloody war in 1979. But Tuesday, the scheduled start of the gathering, came and went without any of the coverage in the state news media that readers in the two countries had expected. – New York Times
 
Less well-documented is how Philippine police are capitalizing on the chaos. The investigative raid on Police Station No. 1, reconstructed based on previously unreleased footage from the scene, provides the closest look yet at how officers allegedly use illegal detention and violence to extort cash — and how tough it is to stop them. – Washington Post
 
Islamist militants holed up in a southern Philippines town have been cornered and their firepower is flagging, the military said on Thursday, as the five-week battle for control of Marawi City raged on. - Reuters
 
Thailand's parliament on Thursday approved national strategy legislation which critics say will ensure the military has a say in the country's politics for at least 20 years, long after a general election tentatively set for next year. - Reuters
 
Myanmar security forces killed three people while clearing a suspected Rohingya insurgent training camp in the mountains in the troubled northwestern state of Rakhine, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar daily said on Thursday. - Reuters

Security

Defense Budget
 
Two key Republican lawmakers are set to unveil legislation Thursday that will make it national policy to maintain a 355-ship Navy, according to a draft of the legislation obtained by Defense News. – Defense News
 
Republicans on a key House panel Wednesday agreed on a budget outline that would give the military more money than President Donald Trump requested while paving the way for Congress to tackle an overhaul of the tax code this fall. – Associated Press
 
Defense
 
Lawmakers in the House Armed Services Committee’s Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee are concerned the U.S. Army isn’t modernizing its combat vehicles or armored brigade combat teams quickly enough, and they are asking the service to present clarity on its strategy. – Defense News
 
The Navy wants to buy guided-missile destroyers and attack submarines in bulk but has plans to upgrade the designs of both after the purchase, causing some concern among lawmakers that the design changes could hurt the programs’ stable cost and schedule. – USNI News
 
In a classified report submitted to Congress this month, the Air Force estimated it would cost approximately "$50 billion to procure 194 additional F-22s, at an estimated cost of $206 million to $216 million per aircraft," officials told Military.com on Wednesday. – Military.com
 
An F-35A from Hill Air Force Base, Arizona, made history Monday here at the Paris Air Show with a series of maneuvers that Air Force and industry personnel say demonstrate its ability to square off in agility against any fourth-generation aircraft. – Military.com
 
The Navy plans to test and operate a new, highly-sensitive ship-defense radar technology on its 2nd Ford-Class aircraft carrier -- to detect incoming enemy fire, anti-ship cruise missiles and airborne threats such as attacking drones, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. – Scout Warrior
 
The system that helps the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter achieve safe and precise landings in any weather could be coming next to the Marine Corps’ prized tiltrotor MV-22 Osprey. – Military.com
 
Strategic Issues
 
A California Republican congressman included a provision near the bottom of a proposed act dealing with domestic strategic materials that would restrict companies manufacturing rocket motors for the Department of Defense and NASA to source its oxidizer for its solid-propellant rocket boosters from within the United States. – Defense News
 
The nation does not need a new armed service specializing in space, the leaders of the Air Force said today in rejecting a House Armed Services Committee plan. In fact, they said, carving a “Space Corps” out of the Air Force — which handles most space missions today — would only make it harder to integrate space operations with warfare in the air, cyberspace, land, and sea. – Breaking Defense
 
George Nethercutt writes: As a former member of the House Appropriations Committee, I always applied an important principle when reviewing and determining national security budgetary requests: that these expenditures should be closely monitored with consistent oversight and deployed only if they're effective and affordable. The HDR-HI does not meet these requirements and therefore Congress should not spend money on this new, unproven missile defense technology. – The Hill
 
Cybersecurity
 
The Trump administration's approach to deterrence in cyberspace and ensuring a safe and secure internet strikes a similar tone with the previous administration. – Defense News
 
Threats to industrial control systems are becoming increasingly widespread, according to a new survey from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab and Business Advantage that found over half of the companies sampled reporting at least one cyberattack in the last 12 months. – Defense News
 
President Trump met with energy sector leaders and cybersecurity experts on Wednesday to focus on combating threats to the U.S. power grid. – The Hill

Russia/Europe

Ukraine
 
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said after meetings in Washington that Kiev and the United States would soon sign a number of agreements boosting defense cooperation, news agency Interfax Ukraine reported on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
The Ukrainian government and Russia-backed separatists have agreed on a new cease-fire in the country's war-torn east, a spokesman for the Ukrainian government said Wednesday. – Associated Press
 
Melinda Haring writes: A bipartisan task force made up of former US defense officials, ambassadors, and security experts renewed calls for the United States to give lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine. On June 21, the National Security Task Force of the Friends of Ukraine Network urged the United States to provide a range of weapons, intelligence, and training. – Atlantic Council
 
John Herbst writes: In this article, the DFRLab does not meet the high standards that it set in its other work. Highlighting peripheral developments at the expense of constant ceasefire violations and ignoring context is both misleading and dangerous. It feeds the agenda of those who would like to end sanctions on Moscow. They argue that both Moscow and Kyiv are violating Minsk; therefore, there is no reason for disadvantaging Moscow by maintaining sanctions. It is not in our interests to provide ammunition to those who fail to address who is both the aggressor and the serial violator of Minsk. – Atlantic Council
 
Oksana Bedratenko writes: Postponing change keeps Ukraine in the unfortunate company of a handful of countries that have not liberalized their land markets. Ukraine must find political consensus on the land issue if it wants to see rapid growth. – Atlantic Council
 
Russia
 
The White House is quietly lobbying House Republicans to weaken a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate last week that would slap tough new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block any future move by President Trump to lift any penalties against Moscow. – New York Times
 
NATO fighter jets confronted a plane carrying Russia’s defense minister in neutral airspace over the Baltic Sea on Wednesday morning before being chased away by a Russian warplane. – New York Times
 
Russia called off a meeting later this week with U.S. officials in protest of new U.S. sanctions, and the State Department said Wednesday it regretted Russia’s decision. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) faced a deeply unappetizing political calculus this week after the Senate passed by an overwhelming margin an aggressive sanctions bill targeting Russia. If Ryan brought the bill to the floor, it would likely pass, because it had enough Iran-related measures to ensure Republican support, and no one wants to look weak on Russia right now. If he referred it one of several committees with jurisdiction on the issue, the bill may die a death by a thousand cuts. Or, Ryan could introduce his own measure, creating a split with the Senate and more differences to be resolved. – Foreign Policy
 
The Senate has proposed a fix for its legislation slapping new penalties on Russia after a top House chairman warned that it could be delayed over a procedural snafu. – The Hill
 
Two House committee chairmen with oversight of the Russia sanctions legislation approved by the Senate said Wednesday that they want to move it expeditiously — a day after one of them suggested a procedural snag would delay the bill. – The Hill
 
The State Department on Wednesday defended the Trump administration's decision to expand U.S. sanctions against Russia, after the country's deputy foreign minister abruptly called off a meeting with a top U.S. diplomat. – The Hill
 
Russian defense aviation firm MiG hopes to wrap up testing for its MiG-35 fighter jet by the end of the year, opening the door for a contract from the Russian military for serial production of the aircraft, a company official told Defense News on Wednesday. – Defense News
 
Jurors are deliberating in the Moscow trial of five men from the Russian North Caucasus republic of Chechnya who are charged in connection with the 2015 killing of former Deputy Prime Minister and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Editorial: The point of sanctions is not only to punish. Pressure needs to be raised on Moscow until it agrees to international negotiations on its Crimea occupation, like those it has with Ukraine, France and Britain on its military incursion in eastern Ukraine. “Russia is not listening to resolutions,” said Ms. Pechonchyk. “The only language Russia understands is sanctions.” – Washington Post
 
Europe
 
Belgian authorities said Wednesday that a 36-year-old Moroccan man shot dead by a soldier in a Brussels train station tried to use a homemade, nail-packed bomb and had sympathy for Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Belgian federal prosecutors said Thursday that four people were taken into custody for questioning as part of a probe into the attempted terrorist attack at Brussels’ main train station earlier this week. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The Trump administration is on a diplomatic offensive against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, lobbying across Europe to kill off the project while also boosting its own gas sales to Europe. - Politico
 
Elizabeth Braw writes: Joint acquisitions could also advance integration. Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the U.K. are buying the F-35 joint strike fighter. If these countries can break the bad habit of insisting on national variations, it would go a long way toward building a partly integrated air force. Collective decision making is tricky, but a partially integrated air force would give each country more value for its investment. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Dalibor Rohac writes: It is past time for conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic, and for the leadership of Fidesz’s group in the European Parliament, the European People’s Party, to see through Mr Orbán’s anti-communist credentials and understand that they are being played. More importantly, it is time for Hungarians themselves to take a stand, do more than just organise feel-good street protests, and show Fidesz that its actions can come with political costs. - CapX
 
United Kingdom
 
British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged Wednesday to build a widespread “consensus” on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union even as her election-weakened government was locked in talks to keep its hold on power. – Washington Post
 
A British spy whose naked body was found decomposing in a padlocked sports bag in his bathtub is among at least 14 people suspected of having been killed by Russian assassins on British soil, BuzzFeed News can reveal. – Buzz Feed
 
British Queen Elizabeth's speech at the State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday did not mention President Trump’s invitation to visit the United Kingdom, renewing doubts that the president may not visit at all. – The Hill

NATO
 
Bipartisan House leaders have introduced a measure reaffirming the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s mutual defense clause after President Trump declined to do so in a speech abroad last month. – The Hill

Americas

United States of America
 
Nearly 30 percent of the illegal immigrant children the U.S. is holding in its dormitories have ties to criminal gangs, the government revealed Wednesday, suggesting that the Obama-era surge of Central Americans has fed the country’s growing problem with MS-13 and other gangs. – Washington Times
 
Anyone hoping for a quick resolution to NAFTA’s renegotiation is set to be disappointed. Speaking to a Senate panel Wednesday morning, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would not commit to concluding renegotiation of the free trade deal with Canada and Mexico by the end of the year. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
The inflammatory pundit Sebastian Gorka worked for the FBI while he was a paid consultant to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, lecturing bureau employees on counterterrorism issues. Until the FBI terminated Gorka for his over-the-top Islamophobic rhetoric. The Daily Beast has learned that the Federal Bureau of Investigation ended its contract with Gorka just months before he joined the White House as a senior adviser to President Trump. – The Daily Beast
 
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Wednesday warned leakers of classified government information that the FBI would find them and prosecute them. – Washington Examiner
 
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday fired its highly regarded chief foreign affairs correspondent after evidence emerged of his involvement in prospective commercial deals — including one involving arms sales to foreign governments — with an international businessman who was one of his key sources. – Associated Press
 
A former Navy SEAL testified Wednesday that his military career ended when he was shot in the leg during a hastily planned mission to find Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl after the soldier left his post in Afghanistan. – Associated Press
 
Russian Election Interference
 
Special counsel Robert Mueller met Wednesday with the top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the parameters of their investigation into the circumstances surrounding President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey. – Washington Times
 
The Obama administration feared that acknowledging Russian meddling in the 2016 election would reveal too much about intelligence gathering and be interpreted as “taking sides” in the race, the former secretary of homeland security said Wednesday. – New York Times
 
People connected to the Russian government tried to hack election-related computer systems in 21 states, a Department of Homeland Security official testified Wednesday. – Washington Post
 
A sinister portrait of Russia’s cyberattacks on the U.S. emerged Wednesday as current and former U.S. officials told Congress Moscow stockpiled stolen information and selectively disseminated it during the 2016 presidential campaign to undermine the American political process. – Defense News
 
The Senate Judiciary Committee and special counsel Robert Mueller can likely run concurrent investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday – Washington Examiner
 
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has had no involvement in the committee's ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the election since his recusal, the lawmaker who is now leading the probe said Wednesday. – The Hill
 
United Nations
 
The United Nations on Wednesday named Russian diplomat Vladi­mir Voronkov as its new undersecretary general for counterterrorism, the first new senior executive office created at the international body in decades. – Washington Post
 
Canada
 
Hope is very much still alive that Canada will purchase F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, despite indications late last year that the country would choose the F/A-18 Super Hornet instead. – Military.com
 
Venezuela
 
Trump administration officials are warning that the U.S. will impose new, targeted sanctions on Venezuela if the leftist government there does not stop its slide toward autocracy and economic implosion. - Politico
 
The Organization of American States failed on Wednesday to issue a formal declaration condemning Venezuela's government for its handling of the political and economic crisis in the South American country, despite a last-minute push by Mexico and the United States. - Reuters
 
Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez left her post on Wednesday to run for a seat in a controversial new congress, drawing praise from her boss as a "tiger" for her feisty defense of the socialist government. - Reuters

Africa

A French-American standoff over the vast, dangerous Sahel region of Africa is over: On Wednesday, after weeks of tense negotiations, the Security Council approved a resolution welcoming the deployment of a new multinational military force to fight terrorist groups operating in the area. – New York Times
 
Mali's government said on Wednesday it was delaying a July 9 referendum on constitutional amendments that would reinforce presidential powers and create new regions under an accord signed in 2015 with northern separatists. - Reuters
 
Exchanges of heavy weapons fire erupted in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday between the army and militia fighters, and several students sitting exams were wounded in an explosion at a school, residents said. - Reuters
 
The United Nations said on Wednesday that Congo Republic will withdraw its troops from a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic after a review sparked by sexual abuse accusations found "systemic problems in command and control." - Reuters
 
South Africa's top court will rule on Thursday whether a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma should be taken by secret ballot, a verdict that could pave way for disgruntled members of the ruling party to anonymously dissent. - Reuters

Ideas

FPI Board Member Eric Edelman and Hal Brands write: Addressing the current state of affairs will require recognizing the fullness of what the United States is up against. The history of global politics since World War II suggests that both American leadership and the liberal international system have been capable of regenerating themselves when necessary. Indeed, the United States and its geopolitical partners have rebounded from situations that looked far worse—as was the case in the 1970s, for instance—before. But doing so again today will require more than pursuing specific policies aimed at particular problems. – The National Interest

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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