The U.S. recognizes Israel in the Golan Heights. The United States officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which was seized by Israel in 1967. The Arab League, Turkey and Iran all denounced the move, but so far, their responses haven’t gone beyond public statements. When Washington moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Israel’s neighbors also heavily criticized the change but effectively did little to oppose it. Meanwhile, there has been an uptick in aggression between Hamas and Israel. A delegation from Hamas met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to discuss the situation as well as bilateral cooperation efforts.

Turkey eyes partnerships with U.S. adversaries. Turkey has recently been improving relations with anti-U.S. governments, which could strain ties between Ankara and Washington even further. Russia and Turkey conducted their first “independent coordinated” patrols in Tal Rifaat, Syria, an area controlled by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces. And the head of Iran’s natural gas company said Turkey wanted to purchase more natural gas from Iran – which could undermine U.S. sanctions against Iran. There was one positive sign for U.S.-Turkey relations: The U.S. special envoy for Syria confirmed that Washington and Ankara are working together to establish a safe zone near the Turkey-Syria border, which would be free of militants from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units. But the two countries’ underlying differences over the Kurds remain. Turkey wants to rid the area of any Kurdish presence while the U.S. wants to protect its coalition partners, which include some Kurdish groups.

Developments in Japan’s defense sector. Japan announced multiple moves to help better protect the country against China’s growing maritime and cyber presence. The Japanese Defense Ministry will establish two new Ground Self-Defense Force stations on the Ryukyu Islands and Miyakojima Island. Both camps will be equipped with surface-to-air and surface-to-ship missiles. In addition, Japan will increase the range of its ASM-3 air-to-surface cruise missile from 125 miles (200 kilometers) to 250 miles. Efforts to integrate the new weapons system with Japan’s Air Self-Defense Forces are ongoing. Lastly, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced it will review guidelines to prevent leaks of U.S. technologies to China through Japan-China university partnerships.

Russia in Venezuela. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss Russia’s growing military presence in Venezuela and support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Pompeo warned that Washington would not “stand idly by” if Russia were to exacerbate tensions in Venezuela. Lavrov responded by saying he believed the United States tried to organize a coup in Venezuela. The U.S. House of Representatives, meanwhile, passed legislation that will require the State Department to assess Russia’s military presence in Venezuela and calls for a long-term humanitarian aid strategy for Venezuela. At this point, Russia is most likely posturing in Venezuela. But Washington couldn’t accept a prolonged Russian military presence so close to U.S. borders, so it may re-evaluate its Venezuela strategy if Russia continues to grow its presence there.

Honorable Mentions

  • GfK, a German market research group, reported consumer morale fell to 10.4 points in March from 10.7 points the previous month. Domestic demand is expected to drive growth in Germany this year.
  • The Chinese government issued a new 15 billion yuan ($2.2 billion) loan to the State Bank of Pakistan.
  • The Mexico City Public Security Secretariat and the Office of the Attorney General of Mexico warned that seven gangs operating in the capital have the potential to become full-fledged cartels.
  • The British Parliament on Wednesday voted 329-302 in favor of Parliament assuming control of the Brexit agenda so it can determine what options for leaving the European Union have majority support.
  • Tajikistan is experiencing prolonged disruptions in electricity services and rolling brownouts nationwide.
  • The third round of Australia and India’s naval war games will take place April 2-16 in the Bay of Bengal. They will include reconnaissance and attack aircraft, warships and submarines.