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A Palestinian protester near the Gaza border. Photo: Thoms Coex/AFP/Getty Images
At least 55 Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli forces near the Gaza border today. Israel and the U.S. both said force was needed to prevent a border fence from being breached, while Palestinian, Iranian and Turkish leaders accused Israel of a “massacre.”
Today was the bloodiest in Gaza since 2014, and Axios contributor Barak Ravid reports that a diplomatic crisis is developing:
The bigger picture: Palestinians have repeatedly gathered near the border over the past six weeks to demand the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. Today’s protests were fueled by anger over the opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Tomorrow’s could be even larger, as May 15th is Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians during Israel's founding.
Split-screen: Most speakers at the embassy ceremony in Jerusalem this morning chose to ignore the events in Gaza, but Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the “brave soldiers protecting the borders of Israel.” Jared Kushner said "those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” though those remarks were omitted from an official White House transcript.
From the ceremony...
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
President Trump has laid out what a successful outcome from his talks with North Korea looks like: "They get rid of their nukes." North Korea may well make such a promise, but experts told Axios' Shannon Vavra it'll be desperately tricky to determine whether they're keeping it.
Go deeper: Read Shannon's full report.
Following Iraq's parliamentary elections on Saturday, the political coalition of Muqtada al-Sadr — the firebrand nationalist Shiite cleric — has emerged as the surprising frontrunner, followed by Fatah, an alliance of leaders of Shiite paramilitary groups with close ties to Iran.
Hardin Lang of Refugees International writes for Axios Expert Voices that "the new government will likely be far less favorable to the U.S."
The bottom line, from Bilal Wahab of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: "The product of ethno-sectarian power-sharing, past governments have been weak and ineffective. Iraqis wanted a new, corruption-free government that would offer services, jobs and security, and a victor with a clear agenda and a strong national mandate. Instead, this weekend’s elections only deepened the country's political fractures."
The opening ceremony of China's military base in Djibouti. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
China is leveraging debts to gain control of strategic ports and secure primary access to African oil in Angola, Kenya and Djibouti, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.
Why it matters: China is offering up attractive infrastructure projects to the countries that need them most and following up with escalating demands for influence. That approach will spread to even more of the globe under Beijing's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
Go deeper: China's long game for Middle East influence.
P.F. Chang's has arrived in Shanghai, marketing itself as "an American bistro," reports the Wall Street Journal.
Quotes from the soft opening...
Argentina's currency sunk to new lows today, sparking fears of a crisis that could expand throughout the region, Martin Aguirre writes for Axios.
The World Health Organization is mobilizing to fight an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that health officials say will be particularly tough and costly to eradicate, Axios Science Editor Andrew Freedman writes.
Soldiers from a fire brigade arrange fire extinguishers to form 'Mother's Day' in Shengzhou. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty
"This is the state of the EU these days."— Frustrated senior European diplomat on a move by Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania to block a statement condemning Trump's embassy move.
Thanks for reading! See you Thursday evening.