April 1, 2022 | FDD Tracker: March 2, 2022-April 1, 2022

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: April

April 1, 2022 | FDD Tracker: March 2, 2022-April 1, 2022

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: April

Trend Overview

Edited by David Adesnik

Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch.

As Russian bombs fell on theaters, markets, and hospitals across Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy became a global icon of democratic resistance to tyranny and aggression. Defying expectations, Ukraine bled Russian forces around Kyiv until they could advance no further, ensuring the capital would not fall. The United States and its NATO allies escalated sanctions on Moscow and provided many of the weapons essential to Ukraine’s survival, but consciously remained in a supporting role, wary of a direct confrontation with Russia.

While visiting Poland, President Joe Biden cast the war as the latest clash in the “great battle for freedom” that must be fought in every generation. Both as a candidate and during his first months in office, Biden spoke of a historic confrontation between democracy and dictatorship, yet that assessment has rarely seemed to drive his foreign policy. Will the Warsaw speech mark a turning point, or just an interlude of inspirational rhetoric? The White House still has no clear policy toward China despite the grave threat posed by Beijing’s increasingly hostile regime. In March, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time since 2017, reminding the Biden administration that leaving Kim Jong Un to his own devices is not a sustainable policy. In the Middle East, Biden’s strategy remains wedded to the hope of finalizing a nuclear deal with the clerical dictatorship in Tehran, which has gunned down far more of its own citizens than Vladimir Putin has. Is change coming, or will the status quo prevail?

Trending Positive

Trending Neutral

Trending Negative

Trending Very Negative

Arms Control and Nonproliferation

By Anthony Ruggiero and Andrea Stricker

Previous Trend: Negative

North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week, its first successful ICBM launch since 2017. A test on March 16 (Eastern Time) failed shortly after take-off. North Korea also conducted two ICBM-related tests on February 26 and March 4 (Eastern Time). In the absence of international pressure, Pyongyang has been increasing its provocations with a steady volley of missile launches and may be preparing its first underground nuclear test since 2017.

Iran nuclear talks remain on hold as Tehran demands that Washington lift its designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization. Russia previously held up the talks to secure its financial interests in Iran under a revived nuclear accord. Meanwhile, it is unclear whether Tehran met a March 20 deadline to submit information to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its undeclared nuclear activities. The agency’s director general has warned against concluding a nuclear deal while Iran is under IAEA investigation, since Tehran is unlikely to meaningfully cooperate with the agency if Western powers lift sanctions on Iran.

President Biden warned Russian President Vladmir Putin not to use chemical weapons in Ukraine, following a stream of propaganda indicating that Moscow may be laying the basis for an attack that it would blame on Washington and Kyiv. The Biden administration did not advocate for Russia’s suspension from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons at last month’s Executive Council meeting, despite evidence that Moscow maintains an active chemical weapons program and has used such weapons on multiple occasions.


By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Neutral

Surging COVID-19 rates in China have resulted in mass lockdowns, including in Shanghai, a city of 26 million that serves as the mainland’s hub for finance and international business. While China’s strict “zero-COVID” strategy proved successful in limiting outbreaks at the pandemic’s onset, it was no match for the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which threatens to compound China’s already serious economic and geopolitical challenges. Also mounting is public dissatisfaction with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s handling of the crisis, including his government’s refusal to embrace highly effective Western-produced mRNA vaccines in place of less effective domestic alternatives. Extended lockdowns will weigh heavily on China’s industrial output and domestic consumption. Lockdowns will likely also compound already serious global supply chain disruptions, leading to product shortages and surging prices in the United States. Neither the Biden administration nor Congress has made much progress in advancing measures to address these challenges. Among those stalled initiatives is draft legislation intended to enhance America’s long-term competitiveness with China.

The Biden administration has also fallen short in holding China accountable for its continued backing of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The White House has warned that Chinese entities that skirt Russia-related sanctions could themselves be subject to sanctions, but has been non-committal about whether it would punish violators. Already there are indications that China is attempting to develop creative work-arounds for some U.S. sanctions on Russia. All the while, the White House has not released details regarding its China policy, nor has President Biden delivered extensive public remarks about his views on China.


By RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery and Annie Fixler

Previous Trend: Neutral

The Biden administration conducted extensive outreach to private industry in March to encourage enhanced cybersecurity against potential Russian cyberattacks. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) hosted calls with critical infrastructure owners and operators and partnered with the FBI and Department of Energy to issue advisories about Russian tactics and previous state-backed hacking campaigns. Multiple departments, including Treasury and Energy, also conducted classified and unclassified briefings. Despite this robust effort, many in industry criticized the administration for not providing new or actionable information, even as they praised its outreach.

The administration’s efforts culminated in a statement from President Biden warning of “evolving intelligence” about potential Russian attacks. A corresponding White House Fact Sheet stressed both short- and long-term cybersecurity fixes. Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger elaborated that the intelligence community is seeing “preparatory activity” by Russian actors. Cyber resilience and defense were also key themes at G7 and NATO meetings, where leaders pledged to improve information sharing and impose costs on malicious actors. Meanwhile, Biden sent a letter to state governors, offering funding and CISA resources to implement stronger cybersecurity.

The Justice Department also emphasized the Russian cyber threat to U.S. critical infrastructure by unsealing two indictments against Russian government operatives who targeted energy firms around the world between 2012 and 2018. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission revoked operating authorizations for two Chinese telecommunications companies and determined that the equipment and services of Russian software company Kaspersky and two additional Chinese companies must be stripped from federally subsidized networks.


By Bradley Bowman

Previous Trend: Neutral

The Biden administration submitted its fiscal year 2023 defense budget request to Congress on March 28, asking for $773 billion for the Department of Defense. The request constitutes a $30 billion, or 4 percent, increase over the enacted level for fiscal year 2022 yet would likely be insufficient to offset the effects of inflation, which has historically hit the Pentagon harder than the economy as a whole. That means Biden’s budget may actually result in a reduction in real defense spending, ignoring the advice of the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission, which recommended increases of “three to five percent above inflation” each year. The shortfall could not come at a worse time as threats from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist organizations continue to grow even as the department attempts to advance the most important military modernization effort in decades.

The Biden administration may respond to concerns about the defense budget by trumpeting its proposal to spend $130.1 billion on research, development, test, and evaluation efforts, the largest such request ever. While laudable, such research and development investments do not deter and defeat aggression. Only fielded combat capabilities can do that.

Meanwhile, following the Kremlin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has sought to unify the NATO alliance while prudently reinforcing the alliance’s eastern flank. The administration has also accelerated and expanded weapons shipments to Kyiv while resisting calls to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine that would likely bring American and Russian forces into direct combat with one another.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Neutral

At last week’s NATO summit, President Biden and his counterparts reaffirmed support for Ukraine and hailed the alliance’s decision to establish four new multinational battlegroups in eastern flank countries. Biden also met with the European Council and unveiled a new strategy to help reduce European dependence on Russian energy. That same day, G7 and EU leaders announced an initiative designed to thwart “circumvention or backfilling” of Western sanctions that have rocked Russia’s economy. Earlier, the G7 and nine other Western allies announced they will revoke Russia’s most-favored-nation trade status.

The United States has also helped coordinate Western arms deliveries that have paid dividends on the battlefield. After nixing a Polish proposal to deliver MiG-29s to Ukraine via a U.S. airbase in Germany, the administration is working with Slovakia on a plan to send Ukraine more useful S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, though two weeks have passed without any apparent progress. On Wednesday, Biden promised an additional $500 million in aid, which the administration is reportedly pushing European allies to match.

With Russia on its heels, now is the time to tighten the screws to maximize Ukraine’s position on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. But Western momentum has slowed amid emerging divisions over further sanctions, military aid, and engagement with Putin. Ostensible progress in Russian-Ukrainian peace talks may exacerbate these divisions — a fact surely not lost on Moscow, which may seek to use the negotiations in part to weaken Western resolve and buy time for Russian forces to regroup and redeploy. Washington will need to work hard in the coming weeks to secure transatlantic buy-in.


By Hussain Abdul-Hussain

Previous Trend: Negative

Gulf capitals cautiously welcomed new U.S. sanctions on individuals involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, following attacks last month by Tehran and its proxies on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Jeddah and multiple targets in Erbil, Iraq. Washington’s move, however, did not allay Gulf fears that this administration continues to underestimate the severity of the threat from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its regional militias.

Despite persistent Gulf demands, the Biden administration has refused to re-list Yemen’s Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), even though Washington described the group’s March 25 strikes on Saudi Aramco facilities as a “terrorist attack.”

Gulf capitals have made the Houthi re-listing a top priority. In February, the UN Security Council renewed its arms embargo, travel ban, and asset freeze on the Houthis and called them a “terrorist group.” Even though the Biden administration voted in favor of the resolution, Washington maintains that an FTO listing would unduly interfere with humanitarian operations in Yemen.

In the aftermath of the Aramco attack, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken talked to his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan. The readout noted that Blinken reiterated America’s commitment to “bolstering Saudi Arabia’s defenses against threats in the region” and “emphasized the importance of protecting civilians in Yemen.”

Nevertheless, Gulf allies will likely remain apprehensive in light of Washington’s continued engagement in nuclear negotiations with Iran while terror attacks continue.


By Craig Singleton

Previous Trend: Negative

The White House indefinitely postponed a long-planned summit with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) because of scheduling issues. The cancellation underscores the difficulty the Biden administration faces in re-orienting U.S. foreign policy toward the greatest national security challenge of this century: an increasingly belligerent China.

The White House’s still-nascent Indo-Pacific pivot will likely be further complicated by the war in Ukraine. India is reportedly evaluating plans to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Moscow by rerouting its Russian debt payments through Russian lenders unaffected by the West’s SWIFT ban. New Delhi is also considering a boost to the existing rupee-ruble arrangement in which India can repay its Russian debts through exports of certain commodities and services. These developments bode ill for the Biden administration’s efforts to pull India — the world’s largest democracy — closer to Washington’s geopolitical orbit. Also worrying is that Vietnam voted to abstain from a UN resolution condemning Russia’s aggression, even though the administration’s recently released Indo-Pacific Strategy listed Vietnam as one of America’s leading regional partners.

Reports that China is negotiating with the Solomon Islands to host a Chinese military base also rocked the region. If completed, the base would be China’s first in the South Pacific, one located less than 2,000 miles from Australia. The announcement underscores China’s interest in expanding its military reach in this highly contested region, which could undermine U.S. military superiority and America’s ability to respond to future regional crises.

International Organizations

By Richard Goldberg

Previous Trend: Neutral

The Biden administration and key allies announced they would work to suspend Russia’s most-favored-nation status at the World Trade Organization and block Belarus’ bid to join that body. Overall, however, the United States has not yet made Russia a true pariah within international organizations. While the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish a commission of inquiry into Russian human rights abuses in Ukraine, Washington has not pushed for a General Assembly resolution to suspend Russia’s membership in the Council — a step taken against Libya in 2011. Likewise, while the World Health Organization (WHO) has decried Russian attacks on Ukrainian healthcare facilities and requested that donors support urgent Ukrainian health needs, the United States has not yet called for the suspension of Russia’s voting rights. The agency’s constitution authorizes such a measure in “exceptional circumstances,” and WHO member states could approve it during their annual meeting in May. Meanwhile, there are no reports that the administration has asked allies on the Executive Board of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — which meets this week — to convene an extraordinary meeting of its General Conference to suspend Russia from the board.

Separately, the Biden administration has hired a senior official from the UN Relief and Works Agency to oversee U.S. support to the agency. This is a significant conflict of interest and a blow to congressional hopes that the Biden administration would press for reforms at an agency that uses antisemitic textbooks to educate Palestinian children and does not subject its employees, contractors, or beneficiaries to U.S. anti-terrorism vetting.


By Richard Goldberg and Behnam Ben Taleblu

Previous Trend: Very Negative

The Biden administration moved closer to a Russian-brokered nuclear agreement that will lift more sanctions and impose fewer restrictions on Iran than the 2015 accord.

Russia, whose ambassador to the international organizations in Vienna has been at the center of the negotiations, would benefit greatly from the prospective deal. Not only would it permit Moscow to earn billions of dollars constructing nuclear power plants in Iran, but it would also turn Iran into a potential sanctions-evasion hub for Moscow, enabling Russia to circumvent restrictive measures connected to its invasion of Ukraine. Russia claimed it received guarantees from Washington that the United States will not interfere with Russian-Iranian trade.

Meanwhile, the nuclear deal may proceed despite the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general informing the organization’s Board of Governors that Iran is in violation of its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement for concealing undeclared nuclear activities. Iran reportedly sent the agency additional documents, which are unlikely to resolve questions about undeclared sites and material.

Amid nuclear talks, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired ballistic missiles from its territory at an alleged Israeli facility in Iraq located near the U.S. Consulate in Erbil. Nevertheless, the U.S. special envoy for Iran has reportedly offered to remove the IRGC from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list in exchange for a meaningless Iranian commitment to “regional de-escalation.” Removing the IRGC from the FTO list would relieve economic pressure on Tehran’s primary terror-sponsoring organ and undermine civil litigation brought by American victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.


By David May

Previous Trend: Neutral

The United States and Israel began March on a positive note by advancing Israel’s accession to the U.S. visa waiver program.

But friction ensued with Biden administration pressure on Israel to oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more forcefully and to prevent Russian sanctions evasion. However, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides thanked Jerusalem for helping to galvanize support for a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion.

Meanwhile, the looming Iranian nuclear agreement has weighed heavily on the United States and Israel. A State Department official said Washington is ready to make “difficult decisions” to secure an agreement, which may include removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ terrorist designation, a move Israel strongly opposes.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, along with the top diplomats from four Arab countries, visited Israel in late March to demonstrate their shared opposition to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and their commitment to regional and Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Upsetting some Israelis, Nides condemned Israeli settlement construction as “stupid” and “infuriating.” As first reported in March, the State Department allocated nearly $1 million for grants to fund organizations reporting on Israeli human rights violations, possibly the first grant of its kind. On March 16, Blinken met with the heads of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which are leading the charge to falsely brand Israel as an apartheid state, though it is unclear if they discussed Israel.

On March 30, President Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to offer his support and condolences amid a wave of terrorism in Israel.


By David Maxwell

Previous Trend: Negative

After a contentious campaign, conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol was elected president of South Korea and will be inaugurated on May 10. Yoon’s campaign pledges indicate he will likely better align Seoul’s security policies with those of the United States. Yoon announced a controversial move of government offices from the Blue House to the Ministry of Defense. Incumbent President Moon Jae-in reluctantly agreed to “cooperate” on the $40 million move.

North Korea conducted missile tests on February 27th and March 5th, 16th, and 24th (local time). The first two were suspected tests of components of an ICBM system; however, the third missile malfunctioned during flight and spread debris in the vicinity of Pyongyang. North Korea said the fourth launch tested the new Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile. However, allied intelligence suspects the missile was actually the Hwasong-15, which was previously tested in 2017.

North Korea has been observed conducting activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site that could indicate preparation for a nuclear test.

This combination of missile tests and possible nuclear preparations is likely part of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s political warfare strategy and blackmail diplomacy, aimed at extracting concessions, namely sanctions relief. However, on March 24, Washington issued new sanctions that target North Korea’s missile program, and the administration seeks to “strengthen and update” existing sanctions at the United Nations. However, China and Russia likely will not support updated UN sanctions.

On March 28, Kim said he intends to continue to develop “powerful means for attack.” With a new president elected in South Korea, it is time to rethink ROK-U.S. alliance strategy.

Latin America

By Carrie Filipetti and Emanuele Ottolenghi

Previous Trend: Positive

The Biden administration committed its most egregious mistake in the region in early March, when a high-level U.S. delegation visited Caracas amid calls for an end to Washington’s sanctions on Venezuelan oil. The visit led the regime of Nicolás Maduro to release two American prisoners without any visible quid pro quo, yet days later the regime indicated it was preparing to pump more oil. While securing the prisoners’ release is an important achievement, it is critical that the administration explain what it traded away. Simply engaging the Maduro regime, with whom the United States broke off diplomatic ties because of its grave human rights violations, undermines the chances of a democratic transition. With a direct channel to Washington and a possible end to sanctions, Maduro has no incentive to negotiate with the opposition.

In an effort to alleviate Colombia’s growing concerns over U.S. policy in Venezuela, the White House recently announced the designation of Colombia as a major non-NATO ally. The elevation of Bogota is unquestionably a positive development, as President Biden has rightfully referred to Colombia as the “lynchpin” of regional security. That said, the Biden administration has a lot of work to do to repair the relationship after a year of ignoring President Iván Duque. Of course, while the administration abandons the democratic opposition in Venezuela and tries to make up lost ground in Colombia, Moscow and Beijing are only too happy to exploit the opportunity.


By Tony Badran

Previous Trend: Very Negative

U.S. delegations continued to make their way to Beirut in March. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Todd D. Robinson presided over a ceremony marking the handover of a U.S.-funded training facility for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF).

Not without irony, following the administration’s scheme to pump some $84 million in cash into Lebanon to supplement the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the ISF, a Treasury Department delegation visited to raise a number of concerns with Lebanese officials. The issues discussed included the activity of Hezbollah’s al-Qard al-Hasan financial institution, money-laundering, and other abuses in the financial system. In a surreally worded note, Treasury asked Lebanon’s central bank — the party under whose watch these abuses occurred, and whose governor, Riad Salameh, is under investigation in multiple European states — to “conduct investigations and perform due diligence.”

As for the administration’s plan to supply Lebanon with Egyptian gas via Syria, U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea proclaimed, against “the naysayers,” that progress was being made. The plan, which circumvents U.S. sanctions on the Syrian regime, faces opposition from senior Republicans in Congress.

Meanwhile, according to Lebanese press reports, Shea also handed the Lebanese president a written State Department proposal on the delineation of Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel. Reportedly, the U.S. offer proposes a winding border that would give Lebanon the entirety of a gas field that crosses a disputed area into Israel. The Lebanese are preparing a response.


By John Hardie

Previous Trend: Negative

Frantic deliveries of Western arms and other materiel, ranging from anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to ammunition and fuel, have helped Ukrainian forces stall Russian advances. For its part, the Biden administration has authorized $1.35 billion in military aid since the war began, along with a similar amount of humanitarian assistance for Ukraine and neighboring countries. The administration also reportedly removed bureaucratic roadblocks to intelligence sharing with Kyiv, while U.S. cyber teams are reportedly working from bases in Eastern Europe to frustrate Russian cyberattacks and disrupt Russian communications. In addition to working with Slovakia to provide Ukraine with S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, Washington reportedly is sending Ukraine a small number of Soviet-made air defense systems that the United States obtained decades ago. Washington is now weighing how to accelerate production of Javelin anti-tank missile systems and Stinger man-portable air-defense systems to keep up with Ukrainian demand.

Meanwhile, unprecedented Western sanctions are devastating the Russian economy, which economists project to shrink by 8.5 to 15 percent this year. The sanctions have triggered a mass exodus both of Western firms and of Russia’s best and brightest. On March 18, Russian authorities said the country’s annual inflation rate had soared to over 14.5 percent, while a subsequent Bloomberg survey predicted inflation would average 20 percent this year. Although the European Union and other major oil importers have not joined U.S., UK, Canadian, and Australian restrictions on Russian oil, many European buyers have voluntarily shunned Russian supplies, forcing Russia to sell at a steep discount. The West’s unexpectedly strong sanctions have strengthened Kyiv’s leverage in negotiations with Moscow, as Ukraine’s foreign minister said last week.

Sunni Jihadism

By Bill Roggio

Previous Trend: Negative

The Islamic State named Abu al-Hassan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as its new emir and confirmed that his predecessor was killed in a U.S. raid in northern Syria. Little is known about the group’s new leader. The Islamic State also announced that Abu Umar al-Muhajir is its new spokesman and said the previous spokesman, Abu Hamza al-Qurashi, had died. Several Islamic State branched have sworn allegiance to the new leader. In northern Mali, the Islamic State massacred more than 400 members of the Dawsahak ethnic group in a series of attacks. France said it would continue to provide air support for Malian troops battling jihadists even after French counterterrorism forces withdraw from the country. The Islamic State claimed credit for an attack in Israel that killed two Israeli policemen.

Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, launched a series of deadly suicide and conventional attacks in and around Mogadishu, aimed at disrupting Somalia’s elections. Two parliamentary candidates were among those killed. Somalia’s prime minister said al-Shabaab “controls vast swathes of territory in south and central Somalia.”

The Taliban has banned girls from attending school past 6th grade, barred women from flying on airplanes unless accompanied by a man, segregated men and women at parks, and shut down the BBC’s Pashto and Persian broadcasting services. Pakistan is prepared to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan once regional neighbors are in agreement.


By David Adesnik

Previous Trend: Negative

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, hosted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a one-day visit on March 18, becoming the first Arab leader to welcome Assad since Syria’s civil war began in 2011. The State Department said it was “profoundly disappointed” by the Emirati invitation to Assad, yet the Biden administration has clearly signaled its tacit approval of Arab normalization with Damascus.

In mid-March, the U.S. ambassador in Beirut, Dorothy Shea, reported that she is working closely with Lebanese officials to finalize a pair of regional energy deals in which the Assad regime will participate despite being under U.S. sanctions. The White House’s ongoing support for the inclusion of Damascus in these two agreements is the most important signal of its tolerance of Arab openings to the Assad regime. The estimated value of the deals is $500-$600 million, with Damascus receiving compensation worth roughly 8 percent of the total.

The war in Ukraine provides the White House with an opportunity to revisit its misguided Syria policy. In January, senior lawmakers from both parties warned President Biden that encouraging engagement with Damascus “sets a dangerous precedent for authoritarians who seek to commit similar crimes against humanity.” Thus, Biden should announce that American efforts to hold Moscow accountable for atrocities in Ukraine will extend to holding Russia’s various clients, including Assad, accountable for their crimes as well.


By Aykan Erdemir

Previous Trend: Negative

In March, the Biden administration continued courting Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hoping he would alleviate Washington’s foreign policy challenges in Afghanistan and Ukraine. On March 16, Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for “Turkey’s efforts to assist Ukraine in its time of need.” The Biden administration stayed mum, however, regarding Ankara’s failure to join Western sanctions against Moscow or close Turkish airspace, apparently hoping that unalloyed praise would encourage Erdogan to end his fence-sitting policy in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. To Ankara’s credit, while President Biden scuttled a deal to send MiG fighter jets to Ukraine, a Turkish private defense company owned by Erdogan’s in-laws continued to export armed drones to Kyiv in March.

Washington also maintained its radio silence on the subject of Turkey’s democratic backsliding, since the United States relies on Turkey, and on Erdogan’s allies in Qatar, as interlocutors with the Taliban regime. On March 11, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West met with senior Taliban and Qatari officials on the sidelines of an annual diplomatic forum Turkey hosts in Antalya. The next day, Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said he is “hopeful” the Taliban can reach an agreement with Turkey and Qatar on plans for security at the Kabul airport, while slamming alleged U.S. ambitions to “bring the wealth of the oppressed Afghan people under [American] control.” The negotiations regarding airport security have already dragged on for 10 months, suggesting the prospects are not as good as the Taliban suggests.


The analyses above do not necessarily represent the institutional views of FDD.


Arab Politics China Cyber Indo-Pacific International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran in Latin America Israel Jihadism Lebanon Military and Political Power Nonproliferation North Korea Russia Syria The Long War Turkey U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy