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.
- North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles into the Sea of Japan from a missile base in the northwestern region of Kuson, according to the South Korean military. One flew 260 miles (420 kilometers), the other 170 miles, and both reached an apogee estimated at 30 miles, meaning they are likely short-range ballistic missiles.
- U.S. President Donald Trump called on South Korea to bear the full cost of joint defense with the U.S.
- China’s Commerce Ministry threatened to impose counter-tariffs on the U.S. if the Trump administration follows through with its threat to sharply raise tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.
- Unnamed U.S. administration officials said they expected Trump to delay a threat to impose tariffs on foreign cars and auto parts by up to six months.
- French President Emmanuel Macron called for a cease-fire in Libya after a migrant detention center was caught in the crossfire. France is accused of supporting the Libyan National Army, which early last month launched a campaign to take the capital from the internationally recognized government.
- Venezuela’s intelligence service arrested Edgar Zambrano, the vice president of the country’s National Assembly and a close aide of opposition leader Juan Guaido.
- U.S. fund BlackRock backed out of a proposed rescue of Italy’s Banca Carige, saying the deal was too risky. Italy’s government may be forced to step in to bail out the bank.
- JPMorgan is set to be the first foreign company to own a majority stake in a Chinese company. It currently owns 49 percent of China International Fund Management Company and is contemplating purchasing a further 2 percent through a joint venture deal.
- Iranian legislators are preparing a proposal to amend Iran’s constitution. Though no details have been released on what, exactly, the amendment would entail, it would be the second time that Iran has amended its constitution since 1979. (The first amendment took place in 1989.)
- A leader of the protests in Ingushetia was arrested at the Minsk airport in Belarus.
- Russia is thinking about asking Ukraine to pay compensation for the parking of its MiG-29 fighters, which remained in Crimea after Russia annexed the region in 2014.
- Mexico’s Attorney General announced that he has opened a criminal probe into the activities of Brazilian firm Odebrecht in Mexico. The company has already been found guilty of corruption worth billions of dollars throughout South America.