Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Mike Pompeo during the Peace and Security in the Middle East conference in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 14, 2019. Photo: Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Trump administration on Tuesday sanctioned — for the first time — an Arab, Iran-backed Shiite militia operating in both Iraq and Syria.

Why it matters: Since unveiling its Iran strategy in October 2017, the administration has struggled to implement regional elements of the policy. Washington has been reluctant to sanction Iran-backed forces, but now appears willing to do so to name, shame and penalize Iran’s agents of influence in the Middle East.

Details: The group, Harakat al-Nujaba, and its leader, Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi, were sanctioned by the State Department as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, subjecting them to punitive economic measures.

  • Al-Ka’abi, who was first designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008, traces his origins to the various Iran-backed terror groups that emerged in U.S.–occupied Iraq after Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army splintered, and remains an ardent follower of Iran’s Supreme Leader.
  • Al-Nujaba, which was created in 2013, has since become one of Iran’s most important militias in Iraq, having participated in key battles in the Syrian conflict, such as the siege of Aleppo. The commander of Iran’s elite foreign operations has been photographed alongside al-Nujaba members in Syria.

The big picture: Iran arms, trains and funds proxy and militia forces like al-Nujaba to project power, shore up its partners and clients, and its influence across the Middle East with little direct involvement.

  • While the administration has relied on sanctions to change Iran’s regional behavior in the past — having designated two Shiite militias fighting in Syria in January — it has until now done so only with non-Arab militias, which constitute a much smaller portion of those operating in Iraq and Syria than do Arab ones.

The bottom line: Ahead of Iranian President Rouhani’s visit to Iraq, the sanctions send an important signal about Washington’s willingness to punish and stigmatize Iran’s proxy network. But if the Trump administration is serious about getting Tehran to change its behavior, it will need to broaden the scope of militias it targets — some of which are politically represented in Iraq — and work to impede their mobility across the heartland of the Middle East.

Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Economy & Business

The next worker fight: Time off for Juneteenth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Who gets paid time off to celebrate Juneteenth in the years to come will be uneven and complicated, if history is any guide.

Why it matters: Corporate America hasn't grappled with a new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was authorized almost 40 years ago. How they responded took years to evolve.

37 mins ago - World

UN assembly condemns Myanmar military coup

Protesters make the three-finger salute as they take part in a flash mob demonstration against the military coup. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The UN General Assembly on Friday condemned Myanmar's military coup and called for an arms embargo against the country, AP reports.

Why it matters: The rare move demonstrates widespread global opposition to Myanmar's military junta, which overthrew the country's democratically elected government and seized power on Feb. 1.

Pakistan PM will "absolutely not" allow CIA to use bases for Afghanistan operations

Pakistan will "absolutely not" allow the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan tells "Axios on HBO" in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday at 6 pm ET.

Why it matters: The quality of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the Biden administration as U.S. forces move closer to total withdrawal by Sept. 11.