The U.S.-Iran beef, continued. Two days after canceling a trip to Germany and heading instead to Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is skipping his trip to Greenland to return to Washington. A State Department spokeswoman said only that the secretary needed to be in the capital. Meanwhile, the first two of four B-52 bombers arrived at Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar – U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the deployment on Sunday – and the other two departed from Barksdale Air Base in Louisiana. And according to Twitter reports from an account that aggregates open source intelligence, the USS Bainbridge guided missile destroyer, one of the ships sailing with the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier, was about to enter the Suez Canal late Wednesday night. On Wednesday, the U.S. imposed new sanctions targeting Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper export sectors, the country’s main sources of export revenue outside of hydrocarbons. A senior European Union official said the bloc will continue to comply with the Iran nuclear deal until the International Atomic Energy Agency determines Tehran has violated it; the next IAEA report is due in two weeks and is not expected to find violations. Finally, Iran’s deputy foreign minister said Wednesday that Tehran may tell Afghan refugees in Iran to leave if U.S. sanctions pressure continues. The minister said there are more than 3 million Afghans living in Iran, and presumably many would attempt to reach Europe if they were forced out of Iran.

Venezuelan incursion in Colombia. On Wednesday, the Colombian government reported a territorial violation by members of Venezuela’s military. The Foreign Ministry announced that on the afternoon of May 6, 30 Venezuelan military units crossed over the border into La Chinita village in Cucuta. They advanced about 650 feet (200 meters) and remained in Colombian territory for 20 minutes. Locals complained of the Venezuelan military presence, and Colombia’s Ministry of Defense sent troops by helicopter in response. Upon seeing the helicopter, the Venezuelan troops left Colombian territory. This type of incursion is not particularly unusual, but this incident comes at an extremely sensitive time for Venezuela-Colombia relations, and Bogota considers the move a provocation.

Helms-Burton backlash. Resistance is forming against the United States’ recent decision to fully enact the Helms-Burton Act, which allows U.S. citizens to file lawsuits against foreign companies operating in Cuba on property nationalized after 1959. Cuba’s tourism minister said all companies operating in Cuba will be protected under the country’s laws on foreign investment and national dignity. Spain’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism pledged to support Spanish companies operating in Cuba if the U.S. measures threaten their interests. The ministry is also setting up special offices to provide assistance and legal recourse for Spanish companies. Mexico, too, promised to protect the interests of its companies; in 1996, Mexico passed a law that prevents Mexican courts from recognizing the Helms-Burton Act. Even Iran has capitalized on this moment to criticize U.S. use of economic measures as hostile acts against countries.

Honorable Mentions