Daily Memo: Soleimani’s Assassination, Ending Spain’s Political Gridlock, Russia-Belarus Oil Tiff

All eyes on Tehran. The United States assassinated Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the longtime chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and a singular figure in the Middle East over the past two decades, with an airstrike at the Baghdad airport early on Friday morning. Soleimani had just arrived on a flight from Lebanon. Also killed were a senior commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and (reportedly) deputy Hezbollah leader Naim Qassem. The Pentagon said the strikes were intended to deter future Iranian aggression in the region, while the State Department said they were motivated by an “imminent” attack on U.S. facilities in the region by Iran or Iran-backed militias in Iraq. This is, to put it mildly, a dramatic escalation in the U.S.-Iran confrontation, pushing what’s largely been a shadow war waged by proxies for more than a decade out into the open. As chief of the IRGC’s notorious Quds Force, Soleimani had been instrumental in a range of efforts that ran counter to U.S. interests, including countless insurgent attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq in the 2000s, Baghdad’s subsequent expulsion of U.S. forces from the country, Iran’s successful campaign to turn the tide of the […]

The Global Impact of a US Recession

It appears more and more likely that a recession is coming, and it will have geopolitical consequences.

Daily Memo: Russia’s Mystery Bond Buyer, Coronavirus Quarantine Grows

More Chinese cities are under quarantine to contain the Wuhan virus, while Iraqi nationalists and pro-Iran proxies try to spread an anti-American fever.

Daily Memo: All About China

All the news worth knowing today.

Daily Memo: Where in the World Is Kim Jong Un?

Kimwatch. North Korean state media still haven’t addressed thinly sourced reports that leader Kim Jong Un may or may not be at death’s door following heart surgery and/or an uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19 in the capital. Kim hasn’t made a public appearance since April 11, and party mouthpiece Rodong Sinmun did note that the country was “going through hardships.” Seoul continues to insist that everything in the Hermit Kingdom seems more or less normal, but South Korea’s defense chief did say the North has shown “an unusual increase” in inspections of its artillery positions (the North’s biggest deterrent against invasion) and air force flight operations. And other South Korean media outlets are reporting that an outbreak of COVID-19 in Kim’s inner circle had sent Kim scurrying to the beach resort town of Wonsan. (Another South Korean newspaper, Joongang Ilbo, poured fuel on the fire by accidentally publishing a prewritten story announcing Kim’s death.) Prominent North Korean defector Thae Yong Ho said a wave of panic buying of goods had been detected in recent days in Pyongyang — rumors confirmed by both Daily NK and NK News, both of which note that the rush was more likely sparked by new import restrictions. China, […]

Daily Memo: Iran Retaliates

Tensions remain, but for now there’s a chance to avoid an immediate spiral toward all-out war.