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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news.
PROTESTS AND RIOTS IN FRANCE
French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday postponed a long-planned state visit to Germany to deal with the worsening protests and riots in France following the killing of Nahel Merzouk, a teenager of North African descent, by a police officer during a traffic stop last week. The visit was intended to boost Franco-German relations on issues ranging from energy policy to China. The visit would have marked the first time a French president paid a state visit to Germany since 2000. Federica Di Sario reports for POLITICO.
Over 2,000 people were arrested over the weekend, and 45 police officers have been injured due to the protests and riots across France, the Interior Ministry said yesterday. The home of a Paris mayor was attacked, injuring his wife and one of his children. Another mayor’s car in La Riche was set on fire. The protest and riots have led to hundreds of buildings and cars being set on fire. Emma Bubola and Vivek Shankar report for the New York Times.
The grandmother of Nahel Merzouk, the 17-year-old boy fatally shot by a police officer in Paris, has called for an end to the violence that stretched into a sixth night. Merzouk’s grandmother said the protestors and rioters “should not damage the schools, not break the buses, it was the moms who take the buses.” The situation across France yesterday was less tense than Saturday, with only sporadic protests reported. Jake Kwon, Heather Chen, Xiaofei Xu, Martin Goillandeau, Alex Hardie, Alex Stambaugh, and Sophie Tanno report for CNN.
The relatives of Nahel Merzouk, the 17-year-old boy fatally shot by a police officer in Paris, have called for a change in the law that allows police officers to shoot during traffic stops. France’s penal code was changed in 2017 to allow for broader use of firearms after police said they were facing increased levels of violence. Critics argue that the increase in traffic-related shootings is a direct result of that change, which they say is much too vague as it leaves the police to determine whether the driver’s refusal to comply poses a risk. Katya Adler reports for BBC News.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – EUROPE
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands apologized for his country’s role in colonial slave trading. Willem-Alexander, 56, also acknowledged his ancestors’ role in slavery, saying they did nothing to stop “crimes against humanity.” Prime Minister Mark Rutte has also apologized to enslaved people and their descendants on behalf of the government. The Netherlands recently issued a $218 million grant to increase cultural awareness about slavery. Niha Masih reports for the Washington Post.
Satellite imagery, sealed court documents, more than 20 interviews with survivors and officials, and a flurry of radio signals transmitted in the final hours suggest that the more than 600 migrant deaths off the coast of Greece last month were preventable. Dozens of officials and coast guard crews monitored the ship for hours before the migrant boat capsized. However, the Greek government treated the situation like a law enforcement operation, not a humanitarian crisis, sending only a team that included four masked, armed men from a coast guard special operations unit. Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Karam Shoumali report for the New York Times.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – ISRAEL
Israel launched extensive air and ground attacks on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin early today, striking a militant “operational command center.” At least five people were killed and 27 injured in the densely populated Jenin refugee camp, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israel Defense Forces said the attack killed at least seven targeted individuals, and the operation would continue indefinitely. Steve Hendrix and Niha Masih report for the Washington Post.
Syria said it repelled a missile salvo from Israel yesterday after Israeli police reported that remnants of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile struck a remote town without causing injuries. A spokesperson said the Israeli military struck targets, including a Syrian air defense battery from which an anti-aircraft missile was launched toward Israel. Reuters reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Brazil’s electoral court barred former President Jair Bolsonaro from running for office until 2030. The court found that Bolsonaro undermined confidence in Brazil’s voting system months before losing last year’s presidential election. Luciana Magalhaes and Samantha Pearson report for the Wall Street Journal.
An Indian High Court last week dismissed Twitter’s case against the government over its orders to block certain accounts and tweets. The court also imposed a fine of $61,000 on the company for not complying with the contested orders for over a year. Twitter’s case was the first instance of a social media company suing the government over its content takedown orders, often criticized for being arbitrary and opaque. Umang Poddar reports for BBC News.
WAGNER ARMED ACTION
William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, called Sergei Naryshkin, the leader of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, after last week’s armed action to assure the Kremlin that the United States had no involvement in it, according to a U.S. official. Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, has appeared to accept that the United States was not involved, noting that the United States also urged Ukraine to refrain from trying to take advantage of the rebellion. Julian E. Barnes reports for the New York Times.
The Russian government is moving to take control of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s companies and boost the recruitment of paramilitary organization Wagner group forces to state-backed mercenary companies. Joe Parkinson, Benoit Faucon, and Drew Hinshaw report for the Wall Street Journal.
The paramilitary organization Wagner group’s armed action is a sign of the war’s “corrosive” effect on Russia, said CIA Director William J. Burns on Saturday. “Disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership” and create a “once in a generation opportunity” for U.S. intelligence, Burns added. Kelsey Ables, Adela Suliman, Nick Parker, and Karen DeYoung report for the Washington Post.
Ukrainian forces have said they are ready for any threat from Belarus after Belarus’ President Aleksandr Lukashenko invited paramilitary organization Wagner group members who had participated in a rebellion against Russian forces to relocate to an “abandoned” military base in his country. Megan Specia reports for the New York Times.
About 700,000 children have been brought into Russian territory from war zones in Ukraine, Grigory Karasin, chairman of the international committee in the Russian Federation Council, wrote on Telegram.
CIA Director William J. Burns secretly visited Ukraine last month, where officials revealed an ambitious strategy to end the war. The strategy aims to retake Russian-occupied territory and open cease-fire negotiations with Moscow by the end of the year, officials familiar with the visit said. John Hudson and Shane Harris report for the Washington Post.
Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia will be difficult and “very bloody,” Gen. Mark Milley said. Milley said he was unsurprised that progress had been slower than predicted – but added that Ukraine was “advancing steadily.” Alexandra Fouché reports for BBC News.
Ukraine today said its forces gained some ground along eastern and southern fronts in the past week, reclaiming 14.4 square miles of territory. Pavel Polityuk reports for Reuters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russian forces plan to sabotage the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said that Russians had planted explosives next to four of the six reactors and mined the cooling pond that supplies water to chill the reactors and spent fuel. Fredrick Kunkle and Kostiantyn Khudov report for the Washington Post.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – SUPREME COURT
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court sided with Lorie Smith, a designer in Colorado, who said she had a First Amendment right to refuse to design websites for same-sex couples despite a state law prohibiting discrimination against gay people. Abbie VanSickle and Adam Liptak report for the New York Times.
Read the Supreme Court ruling on First Amendment rights, as reported by the New York Times.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down the Biden administration’s plan to forgive student loans held by 40 million Americans. Jess Bravin reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Read the Supreme Court ruling on student loans, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
President Biden issued new rules for the use of drone strikes last October. Military and CIA drone operators must generally acquire advance authorization from Biden to target a suspected militant outside a conventional war zone and have “near certainty” that civilians will not be injured. The rules also restrict drone strikes to circumstances where the operators consider it “infeasible” to capture the targeted person alive in a raid. If national security officials propose targeting any American, it prompts a more extensive review. Charlie Savage reports for the New York Times.
At least two people were killed and 28 injured in a mass shooting at a block party in Baltimore yesterday, officials said. Baltimore police said the victims ranged in age from 13 to 32, with most being teenagers. The perpetrators are unknown. Leila Sackur and Julianne McShane report for NBC News.
Judge Neal E. Kravitz in Washington, D.C., on Friday, ordered members of the Proud Boys to pay over $1 million to the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historic Black church, after it sued the far-right group for the destruction of property in December 2020. Judge Kravitz called the Proud Boys’ conduct “hateful and overtly racist.” Lauren McCarthy reports for the New York Times.
U.S. Attorney David Weiss in Delaware, overseeing the Hunter Biden case, on Friday denied House Republicans’ claims that he was blocked from pursuing criminal charges and that he retaliated against an IRS official who disclosed details about the case. Colleen Long reports for AP News.
Former President Trump tried to pressure Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to overturn the state’s presidential election results in a phone call in late 2020, according to three people familiar with the call. Trump said that if enough fraudulent votes could be found, it would overcome Trump’s narrow loss in Arizona. According to two of these people, Trump also repeatedly asked former Vice President Pence to call Ducey and urge him to find evidence of fraud. Pence called Ducey several times to discuss the election but did not follow Trump’s directions to pressure the governor. Leigh Ann Caldwell, Josh Dawsey, and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez report for the Washington Post.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen will travel to Beijing this week as the Biden administration tries to improve relations with China while pursuing an economic strategy to move U.S. supply chains out of China. David J. Lynch reports for Washington Post.
CIA Director William J. Burns said on Saturday that decoupling from China would be foolish, suggesting the United States should try to diversify its supply chains instead. Reuters reports.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The Trump and Biden administrations made mistakes with their crisis management before and during U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, a State Department report released Friday found.
U.S. and Mexican officials are discussing a new U.S. refugee program for some non-Mexican asylum seekers waiting in Mexico, four sources said. Cuban, Haitian, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan refugees who have been in Mexico since before June 6 may benefit from President Biden’s bid to create more legal avenues for migration. Ted Hesson and Dave Graham report for Reuters.