FPI Overnight Brief: July 10, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) next week plans to introduce a bill calling for both the unconditional, safe return of several U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents imprisoned in Iran and also the creation of a multi-national task force to try to secure their release, according to a Senate source – Washington Free Beacon
For six months now, the Trump administration has been required to notify Congress within 48 hours any time Iran conducts a ballistic missile launch. That requirement will expire at the end of 2019. But even though that's more than two years away, Democrats are already thinking about extending it for another three years. – Washington Examiner
The first attempt by the Trump administration to cooperate with Russia on an international crisis got underway on Sunday, with the implementation of a cease-fire in southwestern Syria that appeared to be widely holding. – Washington Post
Although a fraction the size of Iraq's Mosul, Raqqa's urban warfare may prove as grueling, and those fighting the extremists risk being dragged into side battles with other groups in Syria's complex civil war. – Associated Press
Dressed in a military uniform, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived here in Mosul on Sunday to congratulate Iraq’s armed forces for wresting the city from the Islamic State. The victory marked the formal end of a bloody campaign that lasted nearly nine months, left much of Iraq’s second-largest city in ruins, killed thousands of people and displaced nearly a million more. – New York Times
As Iraqi troops closed in on Mosul over the past few months, the Islamic State seized civilian homes and trapped families inside while they staged attacks from the rooftops against U.S.-led coalition forces to lure American airstrikes. – Washington Free Beacon
Republican lawmakers say there is more work to be done, even after Iraqi forces retook Mosul from the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Sunday. – The Hill
Iraqi forces slowly advanced on Monday to retake the last patch of ground in Mosul where Islamic State militants are holding on to a tiny sliver of the Old City, west of the Tigris River, a day after the prime minister visited the soldiers to congratulate troops on the hard-fought battle. – Associated Press
Anthony Blinken writes: What, if any, United States military presence should remain in Iraq to help make sure the Islamic State does not rise again? America’s departure at the end of 2011 reflected the reality then, that most Iraqis simply wanted us gone. Now, as Iraq awakes from the Daesh nightmare, there may be greater appetite to keep some Americans around to train and enable Iraqi forces, and to provide intelligence and counterterrorism support — but not to engage in combat. How the Trump administration navigates this political minefield will be another crucial test of its strategy. – New York Times
The loss of its two largest cities will not spell a final defeat for the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh — according to analysts and American and Middle Eastern officials. The group has already shifted back to its roots as an insurgent force, but one that now has an international reach and an ideology that continues to motivate attackers around the world. – New York Times
The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has killed at least 603 civilians since the start of the campaign, the coalition said Friday in its latest monthly casualty report. – The Hill
North Africa
Seven years after Mr. Bouazizi’s desperate and dramatic protest helped start revolutions across the region, frustration at the failed promise of the Arab Spring is widespread…Yet it is a paramount irony that in Tunisia — cradle of the Arab Spring and the one country that has the best hope of realizing its aspirations for democracy and prosperity — Mr. Bouazizi’s once-extraordinary act has become commonplace, whether compelled by anger, depression or bitter disappointment, or to publicly challenge the authorities. – New York Times
Heavy clashes erupted on Sunday between rival factions on the coastal road east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, according to a witness and local reports. - Reuters
Arabian Peninsula
After weeks of public statements and private phone calls with no apparent result, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to personally intervene in the ongoing Persian Gulf dispute that has threatened U.S. counterterrorism operations in the Middle East. – Washington Post
The tiny island kingdom of Bahrain is increasingly turning to a particularly draconian tool of repression: stripping dissidents of their citizenship…The pace of citizenship revocations has increased amid an intensifying crackdown on opposition. And activists charge that the silence of the West, particularly the United States and Britain, has emboldened authorities to press ahead with more repressive measures than the kingdom has employed since the response to mass protests in 2011. – Washington Post
Several amendments to the annual defense policy bill seek to curb U.S. support for the Saudi Arabia-led campaign in Yemen's civil war. – The Hill
Qatar’s central bank says it has $340 billion in reserves that could help the country to withstand any effects from the boycott imposed by its Arab neighbors and other countries. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Unesco, the United Nations cultural organization, declared the ancient and hotly contested core of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage site in danger on Friday, despite a concerted diplomatic effort by Israel and the United States to scuttle the decision. – New York Times
President Trump is looking for "next steps" on the Israel-Palestine peace talks, apparently pressing for momentum in the coming weeks. – The Hill
State-owned Israel Electric Corp and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement on Monday to boost Israeli electrical supply to the occupied West Bank, even as Gaza endures daily blackouts in a Palestinian political dispute. - Reuters
Cliff Smith writes: As UNRWA’s biggest donor since its inception, the U.S. can persuade other donors, many of whom agree concerning UNRWA’s problems (Canada went so far as to withhold UNRWA funding before political winds changed), to do the same. Together, they can exert pressure on UNRWA to change its destructive definition, and perhaps eventually to dispense with its propaganda about six million Palestinian “refugees” altogether and stop preaching that the life goal of every Palestinian should be to “return” to a place he or she has never known. – American Spectator
Tens of thousands of Turks came out in force in an Istanbul suburb on Sunday in a direct challenge to their president as they called for an end to a state of emergency that has been in place since a failed coup in July 2016. – Washington Post
A Democratic lawmaker from Rhode Island is seeking to block the U.S. sale of Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets to Turkey over an attack on protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington two months ago. – Defense News
Germany started the process of pulling military hardware from a Turkish airbase on Sunday, deepening the already tense relationship between the two countries. – The Hill
Turkey issued arrest warrants for 72 university staff, state media said on Monday, including a former adviser to the main opposition leader who staged a mass rally on Sunday to protest a crackdown since a failed military coup last year. - Reuters
Editorial: The United States needs to send a stronger message to Mr. Erdogan and other foreign leaders who continue to stomp on human rights. For a start, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should put this issue at the top of his agenda when he visits Turkey on Sunday and Monday – Washington Post
FPI Board Member Eric Edelman and Merve Tahiroglu write: Trump should intensify the diplomatic effort to secure the release of Brunson — but not by negotiating a prisoner swap for Tehran’s bag man in Turkey. Erdogan’s efforts to undermine the U.S. legal system shouldn’t be rewarded. For Turks who are trying to protect what’s left of their country’s democracy, it’s the least that Washington can do. – Washington Post
Soner Cagaptay and Oya Rose Aktas write: The problem with Erdoganism, as I wrote in The New Sultan, is that although half of Turkey adores Erdogan, the other half loathes him. Since Erdoganism delegitimizes all opposition, 40 million of Turkey’s 80 million inhabitants are left on the outside. This is a recipe for social upheaval in Turkey not seen since the late 1970s, when hard-left and hard-right groups fought a civil war-like battle on the streets. In short, Erdoganism has set Turkish democracy on a path to self-destruction, and there seems to be no exit. – Foreign Affairs’ Snapshots


South Asia
If Afghanistan is one of the worst places to be a woman, then Ghor, a province so lawless that people often wonder if there is a government there at all, may be the country’s capital of gender-based violence and abuse. Week after week there are reports of women abused or killed in Ghor by men who never face justice. – New York Times
When six Afghan teenage girls were denied U.S. visas to enter an international robotics contest in Washington set for later this month, the unexplained decision seemed to be punishing the very ambitions that U.S. agencies have long advocated for girls in Afghanistan, where many are denied educational opportunities. But the story is more complicated than that. – Washington Post
Kabul and Islamabad have agreed to work on a mechanism to jointly combat insurgents along their shared border, cooperating more closely than they have in years as the U.S. prepares to ramp up its troop numbers in Afghanistan, according to Pakistani and Afghan officials. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
The 19-year-old Pakistani woman attended her last day of secondary school in Birmingham, England, on Friday, a milestone for the activist who has fought for girls’ education. She said on her new Twitter account that she would begin traveling next week to the Middle East, Africa and Latin America to meet with girls. – New York Times
Rahmatullah Nabil and Melissa Skorka write: Without a broader shift in the U.S. approach to build a more peaceful regional order, the Kabul terror attack may be a harbinger of a more dangerous war to come—one in which Haqqani would play a more important role in the Afghan conflict and global jihad than any other militant network in the region. Pakistan must account for its support of terrorists and face incentives to act more like an ally that would benefit from increased stability in South Asia and beyond. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Central Asia
Prominent Russian human rights activist Vitaly Ponomaryov has been denied permission to enter Kyrgyzstan from neighboring Kazakhstan. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Liu Xiaobo, the political prisoner and Nobel laureate who is on medical parole in a Chinese hospital to treat late-stage liver cancer, is fit to travel abroad to receive medical care, doctors from the United States and Germany said on Sunday. – New York Times
Accusations that Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate who has late-stage liver cancer, has not received proper treatment have brought new scrutiny to what human rights advocates say is a pattern in Chinese prisons: the denial of health care to dissidents to intimidate and punish them. – New York Times
China’s military is increasingly enlisting smaller private sector start-ups in the race to create the next generation of high-tech weaponry. – Financial Times
The Chinese hospital treating sick dissident Liu Xiaobo offered a bleak prognosis on Monday, saying he is seriously ill with an increasingly swollen stomach, partial intestinal obstruction and falling blood pressure. - Reuters
Sarah Cook writes: The result of the escalating controls is that there are even fewer avenues for persecuted groups and individuals to defend themselves, offer alternatives to the party line, or expose violence committed by officials. Meanwhile, other Chinese interested in knowing more about these and other censored topics find it increasingly difficult — and risky — to obtain information. – The Diplomat
Korean Peninsula
Four months before its July 4 missile test, North Korea offered the world a rare technical preview of its latest missile engine, one said to be capable of lobbing nuclear warheads at U.S. cities. A video on state-run TV depicted a machine with thickets of tubes and vents, and a shape that struck some U.S. experts as familiar — in a distinctly Soviet way. – Washington Post
The Pentagon flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula Friday in a show of force, carrying out a 10-hour, multipart mission alongside fighter jets from South Korea and Japan four days after North Korea launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile. – Washington Post’s Checkpoint
The United States, Japan and South Korea will press for further sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations despite opposition to a measure earlier this week that would have condemned Pyongyang for a missile launch. – The Hill
Data to May shows the ban appears to have had little immediate impact on North Korea’s ability to buy Chinese goods — a sign the hermit kingdom’s purchasing power may be more resilient than many external analysts believe. – Financial Times
Kurt Campbell writes: In this context, rather than succumbing to the temptation of further brinkmanship, the administration should instead take a page from the Republican past: a return to the six-party talks, which were started in 2003 to establish a framework for engagement between North Korea, the US, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. While unsuccessful in curbing Pyongyang’s inexorable drive towards a nuclear capability, this approach is worth trying again for several reasons. – Financial Times
William Tobey writes: It is time to take decisions that will ease our fears and boost our courage. Time was on North Korea’s side as it worked toward nuclear weapons, but paradoxically, now that Pyongyang has them, it no longer is. There are good options for responding to the North Korean threat that do not entail war. It is time to implement them. – Foreign Policy’s Elephants in the Room
Charles Lane writes: If the past 25 years have taught three generations of Kims anything, though, it is that its potential adversaries are incurably divided, both internally and among themselves, and will therefore tolerate threats and blackmail — even actual occasional conventional military attacks on South Korea — rather than forge the collective effort it would take to end the game once and for all. – Washington Post
Bret Stephens writes: What’s missing is the articulation of an overall strategy and a renewed invitation to the Chinese to be a part of the solution, not the problem. Washington can recognize a North Korean state, even a nuclear one, provided the Kim dynasty doesn’t control it. Beijing should recognize that its interests are best served with Kim gone and North Korea intact, stable and under control. – New York Times
East Asia
Japan’s prime minister has fallen into his biggest political trouble since taking power almost five years ago, with public support at a record low after allegations that he helped friends get favorable government treatment. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will reshuffle his cabinet and party leaders early next month, moving to shore up his worst levels of popular support since returning to power in 2012, following a historic loss in a Tokyo assembly election. - Reuters
A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group began naval exercises with India and Japan on Monday that the U.S. navy said would help the three countries tackle maritime threats in the Asia-Pacific region. - Reuters
Southeast Asia
Cambodia's parliament on Monday amended the law to ban people from associating with anyone convicted of a criminal offense, a move the opposition says aims to hobble rivals of Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of a general election next year. - Reuters


In a sign of how strange the budget process has become, the House Appropriations Committee has approved a defense spending bill that basically gives Secretary Jim Mattis a $28.6 billion blank check. Scattered across seven different accounts in the base and Overseas Contingency Operations budgets, it’s called the National Defense Restoration Fund, and it makes up 4.3 percent of the bill’s $658.1 billion Pentagon budget. – Breaking Defense
Over two days in May, a bizarre scene played out in Washington involving the U.S. Navy’s controversial littoral combat ship program and the fiscal year 2018 budget request. – Defense News
The Navy's long-struggling littoral combat ship is sailing into summer on a tide of mixed signals and an uncertain future in the defense budget. – Washington Examiner
The Defense Department has awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $4.49 billion undefinitized contract action to continue production on the latest batch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters even as it continues to negotiate a firm price for the fifth-generation jets. – Military.com
F-35s, F-22s and other fighter jets will soon use improved “artificial intelligence” to control nearby drone “wingmen” able to carry weapons, test enemy air defenses or perform intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance missions in high risk areas, senior Air Force officials said. – Scout Warrior
Secrecy and classification parameters of Air Forces' new "in-early-development" next-generation B-21 Raider stealth bomber will be analyzed by the Pentagon's Inspector General to investigate just how many details, strategies and technological advances related to the emerging platform should be highly classified. – Scout Warrior
North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones continued his quest to rename the Department of the Navy to include the Marine Corps by getting an amendment in the annual defense spending bill. – Roll Call
The War
The government of Canada on Friday formally apologized to Omar Khadr, the only Canadian imprisoned at the United States military base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It also said that it had paid compensation to Mr. Khadr, a former child soldier, for violating his rights under Canadian law. – New York Times
The Trump administration appears to be making its first moves toward fulfilling a campaign promise to fill the Guantanamo Bay prison camp with “bad dudes.” – The Hill
Russian government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies in what appears to be an effort to assess their networks, according to U.S. government officials. – Washington Post
Chuck Alsup writes: Maintaining, improving, and adapting this unique Five Eyes partnership to our times must be one of our highest priorities, as it is truly emblematic of Aristotle’s axiom that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The initiatives announced this week in Ottawa will improve the state of intelligence collection and dissemination in the Five Eyes countries while also bolstering public support for the critical work undertaken by these nations’ intelligence and security services – Defense One
Strategic Issues
Advocates say a treaty adopted by the United Nations on Friday represents the first step toward a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons. But the U.S., other nuclear powers and their allies said the move would have no effect on weapons and called for greater efforts to halt proliferation and pursue disarmament efforts. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)


Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson assured Ukraine’s leader on Sunday that the United States would not lift economic sanctions against Russia until it “reverses the actions” that prompted them and restores the country’s “territorial integrity,” appearing to set the same high bar for sanctions relief that the Obama administration did. – New York Times
Ukraine and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will begin discussions on a roadmap to get Ukraine into NATO, with Kiev pledging reforms to it up to standard by 2020, President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday. - Reuters
President Trump questioned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, using their epic first face-to-face meeting to directly raise what has become a vexing political issue for the White House. – New York Times
President Trump said on Sunday that he had “strongly pressed” President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia twice about election meddling during their first face-to-face meeting last week but did not dispute Moscow’s claim that he had accepted Mr. Putin’s denial of involvement, as he declared it “time to move forward” in a constructive United States relationship with Russia. – New York Times
Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on Saturday said that he thinks President Trump agreed with his assurances that Moscow had not interfered in the 2016 presidential election, but suggested that reporters ask the U.S. president what he thought. – Washington Post
Former CIA Director John Brennan on Sunday harshly criticized President Trump’s performance during the Group of 20 summit in Germany, saying he failed to take a hard enough line against Russian President Vladimir Putin and appeared to question the word of the U.S. intelligence community. – Washington Times
Aleksei A. Navalny, the opposition leader who organized a recent wave of large anti-Kremlin protests across Russia, was released on Friday after serving a 25-day sentence in prison. – New York Times
Two key House Republicans have called on the Trump administration to investigate whether Russia is trying to undermine the U.S. energy industry by funding environmental activism as part of a “propaganda war against fossil fuels.” – Washington Times
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday the Kremlin cannot be a “credible partner” in the type of cybersecurity pact floated by President Trump after his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. – Washington Times
President Donald Trump floated, then seemingly disavowed, a deal for greater cybersecurity cooperation with Russia -- an idea that drew dismay and mockery from lawmakers of both parties, and which numerous cyber analysts warned could even make the U.S. less secure. - Politico
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) early Sunday criticized the notion that President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could work together to form an "impenetrable Cyber Security unit." – The Hill
The White House is scrambling to kill a bill it thinks would limit its ability to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin due to new congressional sanctions. – Washington Examiner
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) unveiled a proposal on Friday to impose fresh sanctions on Russia for violations of a landmark arms treaty. – The Hill
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, suggested Sunday that President Donald Trump told his Russian counterpart to “cut it out.” - Politico
Editorial: Mr. Putin has long been interested in shoring up the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad and has worked with Iran to do so; the U.S. position has been that lasting peace will be impossible as long as Mr. Assad is in power. Although neither President Barack Obama nor the current administration was willing to back up that assessment with sufficient aid to Mr. Assad’s opponents, the assessment was, and remains, accurate. – Washington Post
Editorial: Until now, Mr. Trump has let the Russian leader believe their dealings might be man-to-man. But by raising Russian interference in a U.S. election, Mr. Trump made clear to Vlad that he’ll be dealing with the President of all the American people. That sounds like a positive outcome. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Editorial: We’ll find out in the coming weeks how Vladimir Putin sized up Donald Trump in their first mano a mano meeting on Friday, but one bad sign is the Trump team’s post-meeting resort to Obama -like rhetoric of cooperation and shared U.S.-Russia purposes. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Anne Applebaum writes: Both men got what they wanted. Bragging rights for Putin; a new friend for Trump. As for the rest of us — it doesn’t matter what we think. In this relationship, only two people matter. – Washington Post
Molly McKew writes: Russia is prepping the battlefield in the United States for what comes next. It is clear the president does not believe this—and it is increasingly clear that his definition of who and what we are as a nation is problematic and dark. If we choose to ignore these warnings—as a government and as a society—we all bear responsibility, and we will all pay the price. - Politico
For years the United States was the dominant force and set the agenda at the annual gathering of the leaders of the world’s largest economies. But on Friday, when President Trump met with other leaders at the Group of 20 conference, he found the United States isolated on everything from trade to climate change, and faced with the prospect of the group’s issuing a statement on Saturday that lays bare how the United States stands alone. – New York Times
Here at the Group of 20 summit meeting of the world’s industrialized nations, public splits with Mr. Trump were the order of the day. Those rifts have been reflected in European domestic politics, too, from Britain and France to Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Europe must “take our fate into our own hands” and stop “glossing over” clear differences. – New York Times
Nate Schenkkan writes: What is happening in Poland may seem extreme, but it should sound familiar to an American audience. The attacks on our media under the new administration, which has labeled news outlets “the opposition” and derided them wholesale as “fake news,” derive from the same illiberal playbook. – Freedom House’s Freedom at Issue
United Kingdom
At the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon talked about ways NATO could improve its combat power and deter Russia aggression in Eastern Europe. – Defense One
Britain’s defense minister said London views its departure of the European Union as an opportunity to step up its ability to deter the Kremlin’s aggressiveness along its borders with the West, monitor Moscow’s increased submarine activity in the North Sea and the Atlantic and ward off Russian intrusions into the United Kingdom’s and other nations’ airspace. – USNI News
The United Kingdom is keeping a close eye on any policies that it could construe as “protectionist” from the United States, with the U.K.’s top defense official noting his country could turn to the World Trade Organization if the Trump administration attempts to create new policies on steel imports. – Defense News
A post-Brexit trade deal with the United States would not be enough to make up for leaving the European Union, British justice minister David Lidington said on Sunday, tempering Prime Minister Theresa May's enthusiasm about the U.S. offer. - Reuters


United States of America
If fireworks erupt at Wednesday’s confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next FBI director, they aren’t likely to be sparked by the nominee, Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official known as a workhorse who eschews the spotlight. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has turned in a proposed budget to the Justice Department, but officials declined to make the document public and committed only to releasing reports of the team’s expenditures every six months. – Washington Post
The Russian election meddling drama’s mystery man — former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — has not been seen publicly in nearly a half-year amid a swirl of investigations, media reports and speculation about his activities. – Washington Times
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly on Friday defended the Trump administration’s policy of targeting immigrant families that pay to bring their children up from Central America, saying that the United States is finally “enforcing the law” on illegal immigration in that and other ways. – Washington Post
The Pentagon is taking initial steps to more closely enforce so-called "Buy American" laws, elevating a series of Depression-era statutes that require manufacturers to rely on U.S. materials when they make guns, equipment, uniforms and food for the nation's military. – Washington Post
Josh Rogin reports: When President Trump spoke of the need to defend Western civilization in Poland last week, many saw an effort by him and some of his top White House advisers to redefine the mission of American foreign policy away from building relationships and spreading democratic principles, to a more protective stance drawing sharp lines between the United States and those perceived as threats. – Washington Post
Robert Samuelson writes: What we’re witnessing is extraordinary: a voluntary surrender of power and influence. Trump may believe that trade and environmental issues can be kept separate from geopolitical matters, such as North Korea’s nuclear program. On the contrary, history suggests that trade and geopolitics go hand in hand. To deal with North Korea, Trump needs allies to make economic sanctions tougher or to support military action. He has precious few because he has been so careless in abdicating responsibility for the global trading system. – Washington Post
Russian Election Interference
Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times. – New York Times
President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it. – New York Times
The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., acknowledged attending a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer tied to the Kremlin, one of the first confirmed encounters between President Trump’s inner circle and a Russian national during the presidential campaign. – Washington Post
Working with Manafort and his deputy, the two firms pushed Yanukovych’s agenda in Washington, but none at the time documented their work under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) — passed to counter the influence of foreign propaganda on American politics. In the controversy that has ensued since Trump’s victory and allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Podesta, Mercury, and Manafort’s firm have all conceded that their work benefited the Ukrainian government and have filed paperwork under FARA. – Foreign Policy
President Donald Trump’s worst campaign surrogate is back in the limelight, and reminding some former Trump campaign colleagues why he earned the nickname “Fredo.” – The Daily Beast
A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 1,205 Americans released Friday found a majority, 54 percent, felt that President Trump has done something illegal or unethical in his dealings with Russia and Putin, 36 percent said he's done nothing wrong, and 10 percent were unsure. – Roll Call
Interview: Did President Obama “choke,” as his successor has now taken to claiming, by failing to respond more aggressively to the Russian hacking of the 2016 elections?...Obama’s former national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, says as much in a new interview for The Global Politico, telling me there’s “no doubt about it” that Obama should have publicly pinned the blame on the Russians much sooner and taken more aggressive steps to retaliate. - Politico
Interview: Can the U.S. simply move on from something as serious as an attack on a U.S. election? The Cipher Brief spoke with John McLaughlin, a Cipher Brief Expert and former Acting Director of the CIA to hear his take on the meeting – and what comes next between the two countries. – The Cipher Brief
Latin America
A team of international investigators brought to Mexico to unravel one of the nation’s gravest human rights atrocities was targeted with sophisticated surveillance technology sold to the Mexican government to spy on criminals and terrorists. – New York Times
Brazil’s Federal Police announced this week that it would shut down a crusading anticorruption task force, drawing a rebuke from prosecutors who warned the move could throttle investigations that have exposed systemic corruption among the country’s political and business elites. – New York Times
Leopoldo López, Venezuela’s most prominent political prisoner, was released from a military prison on Saturday morning and transferred to house arrest in a surprise move that could invigorate the protest movement against President Nicolás Maduro’s government. – New York Times
Thousands of opposition supporters gathered in the capital Sunday to commemorate the 100th day of antigovernment protests and celebrate the release from jail of opposition leader Leopoldo López. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro raised the stakes this week in his showdown with political opponents, ordering all state employees to vote July 30 for his new constituent assembly meant to write a new constitution and essentially crown him leader for life. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has sought to ease protests and global censure by granting house arrest to opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez but he risks both energizing the opposition and alienating part of his socialist base. - Reuters


West Africa
The Nigerian government's efforts to secure peace in the oil heartlands of the Niger Delta are empty promises, community leaders say, threatening a return to violence that would derail any broader recovery in the crude-dependent economy. - Reuters
Eromo Egbejule writes: As a people, we need to discuss the feasibility of Nigeria continuing as one “indivisible” state. Otherwise, if we continue to ignore the lessons of history, we will keep the country locked in an endless cycle of tragedy that could one day lead to renewed civil war. Is this a risk that Africa’s most populous country can afford to take again? – Washington Post
East Asia
Three elections defeats would be enough to send most politicians into retirement. But Raila Odinga, Kenya’s veteran opposition leader, is gearing up for his fourth bid for the presidency at elections next month, convinced that momentum is shifting in his favour. – Financial Times
Extremists from neighboring Somalia beheaded nine civilians in an early morning attack on a southeastern village in Kenya, government officials said on Saturday, as concerns grew that the group known as the Shabab has taken up a bloody new strategy. – Associated Press
Somali security forces said on Sunday they had killed 18 Islamist insurgents during an operation in the northern region of Puntland, although the militants denied sustaining any casualties. - Reuters
Central/Southern Africa
Congolese President Joseph Kabila wants to organize overdue elections to pick a successor by the end of the year, but outsiders should not underestimate the logistical hurdles the country faces in trying to secure a fair vote, a top adviser to Mr. Kabila said in an interview. – Washington Times
The president of Democratic Republic of Congo's electoral commission said on Sunday that a vote to replace President Joseph Kabila will probably not be possible this year, violating a deal that let Kabila stay on past the end of his mandate. - Reuters
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is in Singapore for medical treatment, in his third such visit this year, a newspaper reported on Sunday. - Reuters
Report: South Africa is a key U.S. partner in the region and it is in the U.S. national interest that South Africa remain a strong, stable democracy. South Africa could serve as a powerful model for the continent and play a more influential diplomatic role in pressing other countries on democracy and human rights concerns, but its inward focus and distraction with its own challenges (which pale in comparison to some other countries in the region) leave it underperforming regionally. – McCain Institute

Trump Administration

President Donald Trump’s trip to Europe was a victory for his nationalist advisers over their so-called globalist rivals as the two camps gird for more showdowns this summer. - Politico

Democracy and Human Rights

Daniel Calingaert writes: The efforts of authoritarian rulers to extend their influence, including to use our open society against us, present a serious threat to our democratic system. The United States needs to counter these efforts with more vigor and urgency. – The Hill

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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