FPI Overnight Brief: July 7, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned in Iran, issued a desperate plea for international assistance in an audio recording in which he asserted his innocence from spying charges and vowed to continue his hunger strike "until my death or freedom." – Washington Free Beacon
After a dizzying series of policy shifts on Syria, administration and congressional sources tell The Daily Beast that Team Trump is introducing the beginnings of a new strategy for Syria—one that, in the short term at least: leaves dictator Bashar al-Assad in power; acquiesces to the idea of “safe zones” proposed by Russia and its allies; leans on cooperation from Moscow, including the use of Russian troops to patrol parts of the country. – The Daily Beast
Syria is preventing a U.N. chemical weapons inspector from traveling to Damascus to begin the work of determining who carried out a deadly April 4  sarin attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, according to diplomatic sources. – Foreign Policy
The head of the team charged with determining responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria appealed to governments on Thursday to stop exerting political pressure on investigators who will report in mid-October on two incidents, including an April 4 attack that killed over 90 people. – Associated Press
The Islamic State will be entirely eradicated from its de facto capital in Mosul by next week, a senior general operating in Iraq said Thursday. – Washington Free Beacon
Iraqi government forces in the northern city of Mosul have broken through the Islamic State (IS) militants’ last major line of defense, squeezing the remaining desperate fighters into a 250-meter strip of land along the Tigers River – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
The U.S. has funded a $50 million "Police in a Box" plan to set up local and border security on-the-fly in areas cleared of ISIS, a coalition general said Thursday. – Military.com
Iraqi commanders say female Islamic State militants are firing on their forces and using children as human shields as the extremist group defends its last sliver of Mosul's Old City. – Associated Press
Islamic State militants attacked a village south of Mosul, killing several people including two journalists, even as they were about to lose their last redoubt in the city to an Iraqi military onslaught, security sources said on Friday. - Reuters
North Africa
At least 12 Chinese nationals were deported and put on a flight to China late Thursday, and 22 more were detained for immediate deportation, three Egyptian aviation officials said. – New York Times
At least 10 Egyptian soldiers were killed, including a colonel, and several injured in two suicide attacks on army checkpoints in northern Sinai on Friday, security sources said. - Reuters
Sarah Freur writes: For some, Tunisia may be too small to warrant much attention. But if the choice facing foreign policy makers is frequently between devoting scarce resources to acute problems that carry questionable returns or supporting ostensibly less critical environments that offer greater promise in the long run, Tunisia is more than worth the investment. At a moment when the rest of the region is in turmoil, Tunisia, however much it recoils at the label, is a bright spot in the Middle East. Remaining that way requires the international community’s support and its understanding that Tunisia’s democratic gains were neither easily achieved nor are they close to secure. – Foreign Affairs’ Snapshots
Arabian Peninsula
For much of the world, cholera…has been relegated to the history books…But the war currently battering Yemen has damaged infrastructure and deepened poverty, allowing the disease to come roaring back. – New York Times
The Trump administration warned on Thursday that a festering dispute between Qatar and its fellow Arab neighbors is at an impasse. – New York Times
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is headed to Kuwait next week, where he will speak to senior Kuwaiti officials efforts to resolve the Gulf dispute involving Qatar, a U.S. ally. – Washington Examiner
Raymond Tanter and Edward Stafford write: The Doha crisis is an opportunity for President Donald Trump. In this respect, the White House may convene a summit with traditional Arab allies who recently severed relations with Qatar, Fox News reported June 24. So, the Doha crisis presents President Trump an occasion to show resolve and leadership in U.S. efforts against terrorism and the ayatollah’s regime in Iran. – The National Interest
Ross Harrison writes: What the United States should be doing, in addition to supporting Saudi Arabia’s attempt to create a balance of power against Iran, is to encourage Riyadh to open a parallel diplomatic path with Tehran and try to resolve peacefully the row with Qatar. America should be bringing out the best, not the worst, strategic instincts of the Saudis by encouraging diplomacy. In the Middle East of today, containment of Iran blended with diplomacy, along with cooperation on behalf of bringing the corrosive civil wars to an end, is the only pathway out of the current regional morass. – Foreign Policy’s Elephants in the Room
The deaths of four Syrians in Lebanese army custody and lethal fires in two Syrian refugee camps all in the past week have refocused attention on the worsening plight of more than a million displaced persons in Lebanon. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
As part of a major, multi-phased upgrade of its armored forces, Israel will soon demonstrate a smart helmet-mounted system — almost identical to that used for the F-35 fighter and other aircraft worldwide — that allows commanders to essentially see through the walls of tanks for safe and effective ground-maneuvering combat. – Defense News
During the first-ever visit by an Indian prime minister to Israel from July 4-6, the two countries boosted their relationship to the Strategic Partner level, but no defense programs were announced. However, Indian Ministry of Defence officials said privately that the purchase of 10 armed Heron TP drones and Spike anti-tank guided missiles for a total of about $1.9 billion is nearly finalized and the deal will be signed this year. – Defense News
Sadanand Dhume writes: By publicly embracing Israel—and literally embracing Mr. Netanyahu about a half-dozen times at last count—Mr. Modi has moved India-Israel ties firmly away from the shadows and into the spotlight. This is where they will likely remain. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
The State Department expressed concern Thursday over the Turkish government’s arrest of several human rights activists, including the director of Amnesty International Turkey. – The Hill
Mr Kilicdaroglu and his supporters have so far been able to proceed with their march unmolested. But with the walk due to reach Istanbul on Sunday, it will present an important indication of how the increasingly authoritarian president intends to deal with dissent now that he has achieved his dream of securing an executive presidency at the referendum. – Financial Times
Turkish authorities have seized or appointed an administrator to 965 companies with total annual sales of some 21.9 billion lira ($6 billion) in the year since an attempted coup in July 2016, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday. - Reuters
The jailed co-chairman of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) refused to attend a court hearing in the capital Ankara on Friday because police told him he would have to be handcuffed, his party said. - Reuters


South Asia
A few days after President Donald Trump gave his Pentagon chief the unilateral authority last month to send thousands of American troops to Afghanistan at his own discretion, the White House sent classified guidance that effectively limits the number of forces. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Their meeting is likely to be all smiles and polite handshakes, as world leaders look on. But as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping left for Friday’s Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, tensions between the rising Asian powers had escalated over a patch of disputed territory claimed by both China and the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. – Washington Post
Indian authorities on Friday shut down the internet in disputed Kashmir and sealed off the hometown of a slain militant leader a day before the anniversary of his killing by the army, which had fuelled further unrest across the Himalayan region. - Reuters
A group of Hong Kong activists pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to the city’s large-scale pro-democracy protests in 2014, marking a symbolic low for a movement that attracted global attention by challenging Chinese authority, but has waned under legal pressure from Beijing. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
A week after a leading democracy activist in Hong Kong was barred from speaking at a literary event at the local chapter of the Asia Society, embroiling the group in accusations of censorship, the organization sought to tamp down the controversy on Friday. – New York Times
An international advocacy organization is challenging China’s effort to secure special recognition from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for a vast, traditionally Tibetan region, arguing that the designation would disrupt the lives of nomads who have roamed its fragile lands. – New York Times
US President Donald Trump rejected suggestions he had abandoned hope that Xi Jinping could help him deal with the North Korean nuclear threat, as he prepared to meet the Chinese president at the G20 summit in Hamburg. – Financial Times
China’s first aircraft carrier arrived in Hong Kong on Friday in a show of force to project Beijing’s sovereignty over the semi-autonomous territory and its naval dominance over rivals in the disputed South China Sea. – Financial Times
The brother-in-law of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has denied that doctors have halted medication for him, in a letter released by the hospital treating the Nobel Peace laureate, following rumors that he was too ill for treatment to continue. - Reuters
Some international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in China are suspending operations, cancelling events and losing partnerships in the country six months after the government introduced a law requiring them to register with the police. - Reuters
A Chinese court on Friday jailed a labor activist for 4-1/2 years following more than two years in detention on a subversion charge over a published account of the Tiananmen crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989. - Reuters
Bill Gertz reports: US President Donald Trump is adopting harder-line policies toward China over Beijing’s unwillingness or inability to stifle what Washington regards as a growing nuclear-missile threat from Pyongyang. – Asia Times
Korean Peninsula
An examination of North Korea’s global connections reveals that even as it becomes increasingly dependent on China, Pyongyang maintains economic and diplomatic ties with many nations. Those links—from commercial and banking relationships to scientific training, arms sales, monument-building and restaurants—have helped it amass the money and technical know-how to develop nuclear weapons and missiles. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
For the prosecutors preparing for the first court hearings later this month, some of the mysteries behind Kim Jong Nam’s death inside a Malaysian airport terminal will likely never be resolved. But nearly five months after the killing, U.S. and Asian officials have a clearer view of the attack’s significance. In carrying out history’s first state-sponsored VX assassination in a country 3,000 miles from its borders, North Korea has demonstrated a new willingness to use its formidable arsenal of deadly toxins and poisons to kill or intimidate enemies on foreign soil, analysts say. – Washington Post
The Trump administration said it would give diplomacy more time to resolve a gathering crisis over North Korea’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon that can reach U.S. shores. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea called on Thursday for family reunions for older Koreans separated by war six decades ago in a conciliatory move after the North’s first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. – New York Times
Russia on July 6 objected to a U.S.-drafted resolution at the UN condemning North Korea's first-ever launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday said he does not believe North Korea’s new ballistic missile capability brings the United States "closer to war" with the country, but he asserted that the U.S. military "remains ready" for any conflict. – The Hill
North Korea’s successful test of a missile capable of hitting the United States has dramatically limited the options Washington and Beijing have in reining in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, two leading Chinese security analysts said Thursday. – USNI News
U.S. authorities have tried to seize millions of dollars associated with several companies that deal with North Korea, including the country's military, from eight large international banks, according to court filings made public on Thursday. - Reuters
South Korea's new liberal president said he's willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid heightened animosities in the wake of the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test-launch. – Associated Press
South Korean jets and navy ships fired a barrage of guided-missiles into the ocean during drills Thursday, a display of military power two days after North Korea test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile. – Associated Press
A pre-emptive military strike may be among the "pretty severe things" President Donald Trump says he is considering for North Korea, but it's a step so fraught with risk that it ranks as among the unlikeliest options. – Associated Press
Analysis: Despite North Korea's claim its intercontinental ballistic missile launch shows it can attack targets anywhere it wants, experts say it will probably be years before it could use such a weapon in a real-world scenario. – Associated Press
Editorial: Russia and China are authoritarian powers seeking to dominate their regions, but the problem with tolerating such “spheres of influence” is that regional powers often collaborate to stir trouble beyond those spheres. As they are now abetting North Korea. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Charles Krauthammer writes: We do have powerful alternatives. But each is dangerous and highly unpredictable. Which is why the most likely ultimate outcome, by far, is acquiescence. – Washington Post
Richard Fontaine writes: Pyongyang’s July 4 surprise both ushered in a new era in America’s approach to North Korea and recalled two decades of difficulties with that brutal and dangerous regime. With past as prologue, it’s safe to say that if the analysis and prescriptions I’ve laid out here prove wrong, the Kim dynasty will provide ample opportunity to reassess – again and again and again. – War on the Rocks
Anthony Ruggiero writes: The July 4th ICBM launch is a game changer, as the United States must assume North Korea can use the missile to deliver a nuclear weapon to the homeland. Kim Jong Un murdered an American citizen, routinely tortures and starves his own people in pursuit of these weapons. The idea of him using them against America is not a far-fetched scenario. The Trump administration must increase pressure on China and North Korea to contain, and reverse, the damage. – Politico
Ethan Epstein writes: President Obama gussied up his do-nothing North Korea policy by calling it “strategic patience.” With North Korea distressingly close to being able to launch a nuclear attack on the United States, the time for patience is over. President Trump should embrace a new posture towards China and North Korea: Call it “strategic impatience.” – The Weekly Standard
Ralph Savelsberg writes: The force of deception is strong with this one, so we must use the science and engineering carefully and with skepticism to understand what has been shown. Based on the available data, this is not a liquid propellant road-mobile ICBM. – Breaking Defense
Over the past year, China has doubled down on its campaign to reduce Taiwan’s presence on the world stage, whether by luring away its few remaining diplomatic allies — most recently Panama — or blocking its participation in international organizations like Interpol and the World Health Organization. Now President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan is trying to tweet the island back into the global conversation. – New York Times
Southeast Asia
Two U.S bombers have flown over the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. Air Force said on Friday, asserting the right to treat the region as international territory despite China's claim to virtually all of the waterway. - Reuters
Thailand's former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra arrived at a Bangkok court to shouts of encouragement from her supporters on Friday, two weeks before the final stages of a case about her involvement in a ruinously expensive state rice subsidy scheme. - Reuters


Enormous supercarriers like the carrier Gerald R. Ford may be the future of the Navy’s fleet, but Congress doesn’t want the Navy to leave smaller, light aircraft carriers behind too hastily, reports Popular Mechanics. – Military Times
The Air Force F-35 is using “open air” ranges and computer simulation to practice combat missions against the best Chinese and Russian-made air-defense technologies – as a way to prepare to enemy threats anticipated in the mid-2020s and beyond. – Scout Warrior
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended the Department of Defense take notes from eight innovation-award-winning companies, in its latest report released Wednesday. – Defense News
House lawmakers want to extend bigger payouts for Defense Department civilian employees who leave their jobs early. – Military Times
In the not-too-distant future, Marine Corps 7-ton trucks may be able to diagnose worn-out parts before they go bad, put in an order for a relevant replacement and get the part 3D printed and shipped to their location to be installed — all without a human in the loop. – Scout Warrior
The War
Air Force officials are just beginning to grapple with the long-term effects of this life. For now, they mostly have questions: How long before the intensity of the troops’ war zone experience begins to overwhelm the relative quiet of their lives off-base? Can repeated exposure to remote killing over a long career lead to moral exhaustion? What should Air Force officials do to rebuild boundaries between the war zone and home — “combat and the cul-de-sac,” in the lingo of the modern Air Force — that technology has obliterated? – Washington Post
The administration’s proposed 2018 budget would halve funding for key counterterrorism programs at another kind of border: The 361 ports dotted across America’s 95,000 miles of coastline. The proposed cuts, leaving just $48 million in grant funding, have alarmed port operators, senators from both sides of the aisle, and counterterrorism experts alike. – Foreign Policy
Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy facilities, as well as manufacturing plants in the United States and other countries. – New York Times
As investigators continue to gather clues about the cyberattacks that hit computers around the world last week, some big companies and other organizations are still reckoning with the damage. – New York Times
Russian hackers are reportedly the main suspects behind a breach of more than a dozen power plants across the U.S., according to current and former U.S. officials. – The Hill
Strategic Issues
Not only was the North making progress quickly, spy satellite coverage was so spotty that the United States might not see a missile being prepared for launch. That triggered an urgent but quiet search for ways to improve America’s early-warning ability — and the capability to strike missiles while they are on the launchpad. The most intriguing solutions have come from Silicon Valley, where the Obama administration began investing in tiny, inexpensive civilian satellites developed to count cars in Target parking lots and monitor the growth of crops. – New York Times
More than 120 countries are expected to adopt the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons Friday despite a boycott by all nuclear-armed nations, including the United States, which has pointed to North Korea’s escalating nuclear and ballistic missile programs. – Associated Press
Thomas Karako writes: As the forthcoming missile defense review considers rebalancing the missile defense enterprise, it should consider not merely the tradeoffs between the homeland and regional defense parts of the budget pie, but also between the Earth’s surface and above it. Every interceptor program fielded today by the United States could benefit from such a constellation, as might those of allies and partners. It may not sound like the most attention-grabbing proposal to improve missile defense capability, but it would be among the most significant. A space sensor layer has thus far existed almost entirely on paper. Now is the time to make it a reality. – The Cipher Brief


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has appointed Kurt Volker, the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, to serve as a special representative to Ukraine, according to a pooled media report citing State Department official R.C. Hammond. - Reuters
President Trump finally sits down with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday, and though the square knot-shaped logos decorating this Hanseatic port city say this is the G-20, the U.S.-Russian summit on the sidelines is the meeting that has the world holding its breath. – Washington Post
President Donald Trump came into office with hopes of establishing a “fantastic relationship” with Russia, praising his counterpart in Moscow as “very smart.” Instead, after almost six months in office, his administration is mired in a growing investigation into its possible collusion with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, and, ironically, U.S.-Russia relations are at an all-time low. – Foreign Policy
Foreign ministries around the world are filled with anticipation over what will happen when Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet for the first time at the G20 summit. But veteran U.S. spies who’ve studied manipulation tactics, particularly from their Russian counterparts, are confident they know what’s going to unfold. – The Daily Beast
As President Donald Trump prepares to meet Vladimir Putin on Friday, a bipartisan congressional attempt to constrain Trump's ability to warm up to Russia is running into new trouble. - Politico
A bipartisan group of senators is urging President Trump to not return a pair of U.S. compounds seized under the Obama administration back to Russia. – The Hill
Top Senate Democrats on Thursday urged President Trump to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin about meddling in the 2016 presidential election when the two leaders meet on Friday. – The Hill
Philip Breedlove was getting hacked by the Russians before it was cool. In 2016, the same group that penetrated the Democratic National Committee also stole the former supreme commander of NATO’s personal emails, and published them to a Kremlin-produced website called DC Leaks. Recently the Air Force general advocated for a strong alliance pushback on Russian cyber-influence operations. – Defense One
Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted economic protectionism and sanctions in an implicit swipe at President Trump on Thursday, a day before the two leaders are set to meet for the first time. – The Hill
Vladimir Putin's previous foreign minister and onetime top security adviser has an urgent message for his former boss and President Donald Trump: Ratchet down military tensions to avoid a conflict neither side wants nor can afford. - Politico
Russian military forces are using information warfare tools to confront the United States, according to a new Defense Intelligence Agency report. – Washington Free Beacon
Russia has decisively expanded its global footprint in a way that analysts say challenges the West and will force US President Donald J. Trump to rethink his “America First” strategy. – Atlantic Council
On the eve of his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to confront "new forms of aggression" targeting the West and called for Moscow to stop fomenting unrest around the world. Yet he pointedly stopped short of condemning Russia for meddling in the U.S. election. – Associated Press
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was released from a Moscow prison on Friday, his spokeswoman said, after completing a 25-day sentence for repeatedly violating the law on organizing public meetings - Reuters
David Satter writes: Faced with this type of mendacity, Mr. Trump needs to show that attempts at deception will not work and that while specific, narrow agreements may be possible, the U.S. is prepared to deter Russian aggression. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Jeffrey Gedmin writes: George W. Bush famously looked Vladimir Putin in the eye and “found him very straightforward and trustworthy.” That’s the “business pragmatism”—and naïveté—Russia’s ruler undoubtedly hopes for when he meets President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg this week…Though he may not like to, President Trump ought to take note: Putin is no businessman. He is a manipulator, through and through. – The American Interest
Leaders of the European Union warned sharply on Friday that President Trump risks a trade war if he imposes restrictions on steel imports, a mark of deep divisions as a summit of leaders of major world economies got underway. – Washington Post
Negotiations to reunify the divided island of Cyprus collapsed in the early hours of Friday, marking the end of a more than two-year long process that has been seen as possibly the last opportunity to resolve the decades old conflict. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Before reveling in a new clash of civilizations in his Warsaw speech Thursday, President Donald Trump cannonballed into energy geopolitics, committing the U.S. to combatting Russian energy bullying — at the possible expense of European unity. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
In his first official visit to Eastern Europe, U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Poland on July 5 to attend the Three Seas summit the following day and praise Eastern European allies for their efforts to increase military spending in line with NATO requirements. That commitment will likely result in ramped up defense buys, analysts predict. – Defense News
A computer scientist says there are links between Twitter bots that circulated pro-Trump messages ahead of the 2016 election and bots that engaged in a disinformation campaign against French President Emmanuel Macron while he was a candidate. – The Hill
The bulk hacking of as many as 90 members of the British House Of Commons was reportedly conducted by either hobbyist or private sector hackers instead of a nation state, as some previously suggested. – The Hill
Seth Cropsey and Kevin Truitte write: A return of violence in Bosnia would rattle NATO, with unknowable results. The U.S. would be very hard pressed to contribute effective combat power, as it did in the early 1990s. Ethnic violence would spread beyond the Balkans. Jihadists from across the Middle East and beyond would be unlikely to stay out of the fray. Hundreds of thousands of Bosniaks fled their country 20 years ago. Europe does not need another refugee crisis, and the U.S. — already occupied by developments with ISIS, the Arabian peninsula, and North Korea — does not need another hotspot. – National Review Online
President Trump said on Thursday that Western civilization was at risk of decline, bringing a message about “radical Islamic terrorism” and “the creep of government bureaucracy” to the one European capital he views as most hospitable to his nationalist message. – New York Times
President Trump praised Poland’s democratic values in a speech on Thursday and lauded the country as a beacon…Not everyone agrees. Since Poland’s conservative Law and Justice Party came to power in 2015, the country has been criticized by international organizations over measures that they say undermine freedom. – New York Times
President Donald Trump is unlikely to suffer politically at home for making history abroad as the first sitting American president in decades to visit Warsaw while forgoing a stop at the city’s monument to the Jewish Ghetto Uprising. But the president’s decision to skip that symbolic visit was seen as handing a victory to Poland’s right-wing nationalist ruling party - Politico
Poland announced a two-phased plan to buy a missile defense system from the U.S. in a memorandum of intent that makes political headway but is no closer to minting an actual deal than it was earlier this year when the country said it would buy Patriot missile defense systems by the year’s end. – Defense News
Editorial: This is the speech Mr. Trump should have given to introduce himself to the world at his Inauguration. In place of that speech’s resentments, his Warsaw talk offered a better form of nationalism. It is a nationalism rooted in values and beliefs—the rule of law, freedom of expression, religious faith and freedom from oppressive government—that let Europe and then America rise to prominence. This, Mr. Trump is saying, is worth whatever it takes to preserve and protect. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Editorial: “Above all,” he said, “we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom.” Many people will cheer those words — and will watch to see how his administration lives up to them in its interactions with Saudi Arabia and China, Russia and Egypt, and at home. – Washington Post
James Rubin writes: A time will come when the United States is in a crisis not of Trump’s making. North Korea comes to mind. It is at those times when the careful tending of friendships and alliances pay off. In such an event, President Trump might regret disruption diplomacy and blame not himself but those who enable him as he did it. - Politico


United States of America
The Trump administration is battling an unprecedented wave of national security leaks that are appearing in the press at least once a day, significantly more than either the former Obama or Bush administration experienced in the same time frame, according to a new Senate investigation that warns these leaks are endangering U.S. security operations and relations with allied nations. – Washington Free Beacon
National security officials across the federal government say they are seeing new restrictions on who can access sensitive information, fueling fears in the intelligence and security community that the Trump administration has stepped up a stealthy operation to smoke out leakers. - Politico
A Washington lobbying firm is providing new details about a mysterious Justice Department filing it made in February for lobbying work related to Macedonia. – Buzz Feed
Analysis: These two trading powers, both bedrock American allies, are effectively proceeding with plans to bolster globalization just as the United States is turning to protectionism. Large areas of the global economy are now on divergent paths, creating more uncertainty for multinational companies. – New York Times
Editorial: The irony is that the productivity of American manufacturers leads the world, and employment is rebounding. At a moment when U.S. firms could grow their exports, the Trump Administration is burning bridges. The EU-Japan deal is a warning that others will take up trade leadership and capture the prosperity that Americans should enjoy. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Derek Scissors writes: The world has two choices in trade: US leadership or none. The US has two choices: find a way to continue to lead or see global trade deteriorate in quality and benefit, harming ourselves but especially our friends. Media coverage that pretends otherwise is not good media coverage. – AEI Ideas
Russian Election Interference
President Donald Trump took his criticism of the U.S. intelligence community abroad on Thursday, calling its acumen into question before an international audience in Poland. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
In a few weeks on the job, special counsel Robert Mueller has assembled an elite team of lawyers with expertise in national security, public corruption and financial crimes, suggesting he is taking a broad view of his mandate to probe Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election. – Wall Street Journal (Subscription required)
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that he saw no evidence that anyone besides Russia attempted to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, despite President Trump's comments. – The Hill
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Thursday that Russia is preparing "the battlefield" to interfere with the 2018 midterm elections – Washington Examiner


The president of Sudan, who is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes against his people, could soon find it harder to travel abroad. Judges at the International Criminal Court strongly criticized South Africa on Thursday for failing to arrest the president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, when he visited Johannesburg for an African Union meeting in 2015. – New York Times

Trump Administration

As rival factions inside the White House continue to battle over urgent foreign policy decisions, a key ally of Donald Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon is leaving the National Security Council, BuzzFeed News has learned. – Buzz Feed
President Trump's pick for Navy secretary will finally get an initial Senate nomination hearing on Tuesday, followed by four other Pentagon nominees on Wednesday, according to a committee aide. – Washington Examiner

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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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