Israel kills protesters; US may hit EU firms over Iran; How a US-DPRK deal might work; Pentagon veils Afghan-war stats; and just a bit more...

Israeli soldiers killed more than three dozen (41) Palestinian protesters this morning, the Associated Press reports from Gaza City. The Palestinians were demonstrating against America’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, formally opened this morning; the day’s violence nearly doubles the number of Palestinians killed in protests since late March.
Scene-setting: Protesters “set tires on fire, sending plumes of black smoke into the air, and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border. The Israeli military said its troops had come under fire, and accused protesters of trying to break through the border fence.”
Among the dead: One “14-year-old boy, a medic and a man in a wheelchair who had been pictured on social media using a slingshot,” Reuters reports. “The Israeli military identified three of those killed as armed militants whom it said tried to place explosives near the fence in the southern Gaza Strip."
It is “the highest Palestinian single-day death toll since a series of protests dubbed the ‘Great March of Return’ began at the border with Israel on March 30 and since a 2014 Gaza war,” Reuters writes.
Panning out: “Since weekly border marches began in late March, 83 Palestinian protesters have been killed and more than 2,500 wounded by Israeli army fire,” AP reports.
Israel's reax: “The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will act forcefully against any terrorist activity and will operate to prevent attacks against Israelis,” according to a statement from the military.
Palestinian reax: Monday’s shootings are “blatant violations of international law,” said Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
What’s next: “The protests are scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, the day Palestinians mourn as the ‘Nakba’ or ‘Catastrophe’ when, in 1948, hundreds of thousands of them were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting around Israel’s creation.” More here.

Heads up, America’s Euro allies: The U.S. stands ready to sanction European companies for doing business with Iran, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Iran’s back-and-forth signalling. From Friday: "Iran will prepare for the 'industrial scale' production of nuclear fuel even as it seeks guarantees from other countries to honor the Iran deal despite the recent United States' withdrawal from the agreement," USA Today reported off remarks from Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Zarif's statement: "The President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has been tasked with taking all necessary steps in preparation for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions, using the results of the latest research and development of Iran's brave nuclear scientists."
Two days later, Iranian “President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Iran would remain committed to the 2015 nuclear deal if its interests were protected,” Reuters reported from Dubai.
About the Iran deal exit: The Trump administration never held a senior-level debate over ending the Iran nuclear deal, Chatham House’s Micah Zenko tweeted this weekend after reading this insider’s take from The New York Times. Added Zenko, with an ominous touch: The “Bush admin also never held a senior debate over invading Iraq in 2002 or 2003.”


From Defense One

Strip the World's Worst Actors of a Key Financial Tool // John Agoglia and Michael Dziedzi: The U.S. and its allies need to rip the veil of secrecy from the anonymous shell corporations that help drug dealers, terror groups, and kleptocratic dictators.

The US Should Embrace the EU's New Defense-Cooperation Plan // Rachel Rizzo and Gene Germanovich: After years of complaining that Europe isn't doing enough to defend itself, concerns about U.S. arms exports are misplaced.

'All Is Shambles': The Days After the Iran Deal // Peter Beinart: Prominent advocates for withdrawal grappled too little with the possibility that the president cannot pull this off.

Pass the Corker-Kaine AUMF // Dan Mahaffee and Michael Stecher: Its critics misunderstand the 17-year evolution of the fight against violent extremist groups, and risk letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Defense One Radio, Episode 3: Bye-bye, Iran deal; Hello, North Korea; Future of special ops in Niger and more. // Defense One Staff: Welcome to episode three of our weekly podcast about the news, strategy, tech, and business trends defining the future of national security.

Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. And if you find this useful, consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague. They can subscribe here for free. OTD1948: The state of Israel is declared, followed quickly by the first Arab–Israeli War.


The U.S. may lift sanctions, offer security guarantees to North Korea. SecState Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton took to the Sunday talk shows to outline what the United States might offer Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons. For starters, reports the Los Angeles Times, Pompeo implied that the U.S. might promise not to seek to oust Kim; followed quickly by “U.S. private investment in North Korea, focused on improving its antiquated power grid and boosting its food supply. U.S. government aid to the North is not likely, Pompeo and Bolton said.”
You go first: Both also said that the execution of the agreement would have to start with North Korea. Bolton: “We want to see the denuclearization process so completely underway that it's irreversible.”
Granted: “It is a matter of fierce debate among diplomats and Korea experts whether Kim would surrender his nuclear arsenal. He has said he is willing to ‘denuclearize’ the Korean peninsula, but it is not clear he means what Washington means.”
Aligning priorities: TBD. “It remains unclear whether Trump's advisors have reached agreement among themselves about their negotiating goals and how far they are prepared to push North Korea. Bolton appeared to widen the scope of U.S. demands, insisting that the U.S. also wanted to put elimination of North Korea's chemical and biological weapons and other issues on the table.” Read on, here.
North Korea vows no more ICBM tests. “North Korea has informed a United Nations aviation agency that it will not conduct unannounced missile tests or further intercontinental ballistic missile launches because its nuclear arms program is now complete and it no longer needs to do such testing,” AP, here.
Dismantlement details. On Saturday, Pyongyang outlined steps to dismantle its nuclear testing site. The date for the ceremony is set for sometime between May 23 and 25. CNN, here.

Trump to help sanctioned Chinese cell-phone maker. Last month, the U.S. Commerce Department forbade U.S. firms to sell parts to ZTE, the Chinese cellphone giant sanctioned in 2016 for selling to Iran, North Korea, and other sanctioned countries. The move sent ZTE — one of two Chinese cellphone giants, along with Huawei — hurtling toward bankruptcy. But on Sunday, the U.S. president tweeted that he is working to save ZTE, presumably to woo Chinese help in his upcoming negotiations with North Korea’s Kim. New York Times has an explainer, here.

Coming to South Korea's navy: a 14,500-ton amphibious assault ship, LPH-6112 (aka "The Marado"). The ship's not expected to be formally ready until 2020. But today it "will make its public debut Monday, boasting improved combat and radar systems using the country's own technology," South Korea's Yonhap News agency reported Sunday.
Specs: "Named after the nation's southernmost island, it will be the South Korean Navy's second large-scale transport ship after the Dokdo of the same class. It can sail at a maximum speed of 23 knots (some 41 km per hour) with some 300 crew members aboard. The Marado, 199 meters long and 31 meters wide, is capable of carrying more than 700 troops, armored vehicles, high-speed amphibious boats and helicopters." A bit more, here.

Possible CIVCAS in Somalia. Villagers in the Lower Shabelle region allege a joint U.S.-Somali raid on suspected Shabab militants on Wednesday killed five people who were farmers and not fighters, the Associated Press reported Sunday from the capital of Mogadishu.
Says U.S. Africa Command: “As with any allegations of civilian casualties we receive, U.S. Africa Command will review any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties. If the information supporting the allegation is determined to be credible, USAFRICOM will determine the next appropriate step.” Tiny bit more from AFRICOM, here.
Two U.S. special operators in Africa are now suspended pending an investigation into allegations of “sexual misconduct” in the vicinity of Somalia, the Virginian-Pilot reported Saturday.
According to ABC News, which broke the story, “Two defense officials said one of the team leaders is being investigated for the alleged inappropriate touching of a female service member during the deployment.” The investigation is reportedly looking into actions by Naval Special Warfare Group 2's commanding officer and the command master chief. "The personnel were assigned to a unit advising and assisting in operations against violent extremist operations in East Africa, primarily al-Shabab and the Islamic State in Somalia," VP adds. More here.

Problems in Pentagon transparency: Afghan partnered forces edition. The quick read: “[J]ust as the Pentagon began sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan, it also began classifying key war metrics it had previously made public. That included ways of measuring the success or failure of America’s mission: training and funding the Afghan military so it can beat back the Taliban and other insurgents,” the Boston Globe’s Liz Goodwin reported Saturday, citing data from the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John Sopko.
The big worry: “The Afghan army has shrunk by 11 percent and insurgents have gained territory, raising questions about whether the Pentagon has been concealing a strategy gone awry.”
Dismal metrics: “Afghan troops shrank by about 36,000, to 296,409 from January 2017 to January 2018. Taliban and other insurgents increased their territory from 11 percent to 14.5 percent of the country over the same period,” Goodwin writes. “Meanwhile, the Trump administration still is refusing to disclose the number of Afghan military personnel dying in action, or those deciding to leave their jobs. Detailed performance assessments of Afghan troops also remain classified.” Read on, here.

The winds of change. A different U.S. president means the U.S. military suddenly sees the risks from climate change very differently, the Washington Post reported last week after obtaining an unpublished draft of the “2018 Climate-Related Risk to DoD Infrastructure Initial Vulnerability Assessment Survey (SLVAS) Report” (PDF).
The gist: “The earlier version of the document, dated December 2016, contains numerous references to ‘climate change’ that were omitted or altered to ‘extreme weather’ or simply ‘climate’ in the final report, which was submitted to Congress in January 2018. While the phrase ‘climate change’ appears 23 separate times in the draft report, the final version used it just once.” Much more to break down, here.

And finally: Don’t let your guard down. Russian “long-range Tu-95 ‘Bear’ bombers were ‘intercepted and visually identified’ Friday morning by a pair of Alaska-based NORAD F-22 Raptors as the Russian aircraft flew in the Air Defense Identification Zone, north of the Aleutian Islands,” then headed back west, Agence France-Presse reported this weekend.
How close to Alaska did the Bears fly? Within about 55 miles, U.S. defense officials told Fox News. More on the recent history and trend lines in U.S. intercepts of Russian aircraft, via the Washington Post, here.

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