Fdd's overnight brief

April 10, 2023

In The News


It was incredibly risky to film or photograph the anti-government protests that swept Iran after the September death of Mahsa Amini. In the privacy of their homes and studios, however, some Iranian artists began to take inspiration from the scenes on the streets. Their work reflects the hope, turmoil and tragedy of the popular uprising and the violent crackdown that followed. – Washington Post

An Iranian technical delegation will visit Saudi Arabia this week to prepare for the reopening of Iran’s embassy in Riyadh, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Sunday. – Reuters

The foreign ministers of Iran and Azerbaijan discussed “problems and misunderstandings” between the two countries in two phone calls, Iranian state media reported on Saturday, days after Baku expelled four Iranian diplomats over “provocative actions”. – Reuters

In a further attempt to rein in the increasing number of women defying Iran’s compulsory dress code, authorities are installing cameras in public places and thoroughfares to identify and penalise unveiled women, the police announced on Saturday. – Reuters

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke via phone on Sunday with Syrian President Bashar Assad, with the leaders both touting what they see as the approaching “collapse” of the State of Israel. – Times of Israel

Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) has unveiled its newest suicide attack drone, dubbed Me’raj 532, designed and manufactured in Iran. – Arutz Sheva

The Islamic Republic of Iran exerted pressure on the nation’s tiny Jewish community to not celebrate the end of Passover on Friday and instead participate in the annual anti-Israel al-Quds Day demonstration that calls for the destruction of Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Iran-backed terrorist organizations should “not draw false conclusions” about Israel’s military clout, according to a top general, despite weeks of political unrest in the Jewish state. – Washington Examiner

Amir Bar Shalom writes: In a marked shift from the past, from the viewpoint of the Iranians, any positive relationship with a Sunni Muslim country serves their strategic interest, especially in light of the Abraham Accords that constricted Tehran’s efforts to widen its sphere of influence. – Times of Israel

Seth J. Frantzman writes: When one looks at the larger picture, the Iranian octopus of partners and groups is seeking to threaten Israel from multiple areas. This is also unprecedented in terms of the rocket fire from Lebanon and Syria over such a small period of time. In general, peace has prevailed along the Lebanese border since 2006. Now Iran is showing it can heat up any border using various groups whenever it wants to. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The first 100 days of Netanyahu’s administration illustrate how Israel can walk softly and carry a big stick, in the sense that one doesn’t need to peddle fear about Iran’s nuclear ambitions in order to continue to confront Iran in the region. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran enjoys warm ties with Russia and both Russia and Iran have good relations with Turkey. Turkey is a key ally of Azerbaijan. However, Iran has always been concerned and wary about Baku’s growing wealth and power and influence in the region. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Spyer writes: So the increased air activity over Syria is the most visible and audible indication of a more general security situation in the neighborhood – namely, one of increased tensions deriving from uncharacteristically bold and reckless behavior by the Iran-led axis in recent weeks in a number of areas. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

But those won’t be nearly enough — nor will they come soon enough — at a time when Ukraine’s forces say they need an average of 250,000 155-millimeter shells each month to repel Russia’s advance. In fact, the combined output of all 11 of the factories that make the shells in Europe will still fall far short of meeting Ukraine’s desperate needs. – New York Times

Six weeks after the start of a Ukrainian operation to reinforce supply lines outside Bakhmut and protect the roads, Ukrainian military officials say they have thwarted, at least for now, a Russian effort to sever those roads and surround the city. – New York Times

The detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by Russia reflects a growing trend of authoritarian governments arresting Americans to gain concessions from the U.S., after years of hostage crises involving terrorist organizations and other nonstate actors. – Wall Street Journal

Russia could achieve its long-sought goal of air superiority in Ukrainian skies as early as May because Ukraine is running out of antiaircraft missiles, according to purported Pentagon presentations that have leaked on social media. – Wall Street Journal

Russia is deepening a crackdown on dissent in occupied areas of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said Sunday, as Kyiv’s forces launched fresh attacks aimed at weakening Moscow’s hold in the south. – Wall Street Journal

A Russian fighter jet nearly shot down a British surveillance plane last year, according to a leaked U.S. military document circulating online, an incident more significant than was previously disclosed and that could have drawn the United States and its NATO allies directly into the Ukraine war. – Washington Post

Ukraine will resume exporting electricity, a signal the country has withstood Russia’s monthslong assault on its power grid, while Russian officials claim to have shot down a missile over Crimea. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine needs more soldiers — and fast. Kyiv is preparing for an imminent assault on Russian occupying forces, and while Ukraine does not disclose its casualty counts, commanders in the field have described large losses. In February, a German official said Berlin believed at least 120,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed or wounded since the start of the invasion. – Washington Post

Ukraine hit a Russian military base in the occupied south, officials said, the latest in a series of strikes to target a key Russian supply route to Crimea as Kyiv is gearing up for a spring offensive. – Wall Street Journal

Inside a Moscow prison, Evan Gershkovich is waiting. He is joking about how the TV in his cell doesn’t carry the matches of his beloved Arsenal F.C., his friends say. And as the American journalist accused of spying remains imprisoned for what could be months or years, he is reading. – Washington Post

To brace for the introduction of advanced NATO-supplied tanks on Ukraine’s battlefields, Russian forces are preparing to pay a bonus to troops who manage to damage or destroy one, according to recently leaked U.S. intelligence documents. – New York Times

Paris and Beijing agreed to support any effort to restore peace in Ukraine on the basis of international law in a joint statement that fell short of French President Emmanuel Macron’s hopes for his three-day China visit. – Bloomberg

The French government denied on Saturday that French soldiers were on the ground in Ukraine, Le Monde reported. – Politico

Jack Hanick spent years openly helping a Russian mogul who had been under U.S. sanctions since 2014 set up a pro-Kremlin TV empire, raising suspicions about whether the American was violating U.S. law. And yet, for most of the past decade, the Justice Department didn’t appear to consider the ex-Fox News staffer too important a target, at least not enough to indict him. – Politico

Last September, the day after Uzbekistan stopped accepting bank cards that relied on Russia’s domestic card scheme Mir, middle-class Russians were already discussing how to circumvent the ban. – Financial Times

The leak of classified US and Nato documents on Ukraine’s military and its much-anticipated spring counter-offensive is part of a Russian information operation and does not reveal Kyiv’s actual operational plans, a top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said. – Financial Times

Weekend shelling by Russian forces killed at least seven civilians, Ukrainian officials reported Sunday as Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby used their traditional Easter messages to highlight the war in Ukraine and other conflicts around the world. – Associated Press

U.S. officials think classified U.S. documents about Ukraine’s war effort that appeared on-line are likely real and the result of a leak, but that some of the documents may have been altered before they were posted, a senior U.S. official said on Saturday. – NBC

Russia’s forces kept up a barrage of attacks along the front concentrated in two Ukrainian cities in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine’s military reported, as Kyiv said it repelled more than 40 enemy strikes over the past 24 hours. – Reuters

At a wood-panelled diner down the road from one of the US Air Force’s largest bases, retired police officer Jeremy Snyder said he was initially “all for” US military and humanitarian support for Ukraine. But the war had dragged on, he said, and the domestic economic situation was tough. – Financial Times

Editorial: That’s the essence of Mr. Kara-Murza, fighting to remove the stain of despotism that has so deeply besmirched Russia in the Putin years. His speeches and words are not treason and not criminal. They are brimming with aspirations for a free Russia, a vision that seems distant at this grim moment but remains worth fighting for. – Washington Post

Max Hastings writes: But just as most of the peoples of the democracies were unwilling to fight a new war for Poland in 1945, so it seems unlikely that they will support a fight to the finish today, to free Crimea. That is ugly, but it is a reality that cannot be reversed. – Bloomberg

Lucian Staiano-Daniels writes: Although it shares some traits with earlier mercenary mindsets, Wagner Group is also an unusually bleak iteration of war in context of the new globalization. The nation-state is warping and shifting to something else that has similarities to earlier political forms but is not identical to them. Modern mercenaries, which are at once archaic and new, are an example of this change. Wagner disseminates its brutal message internationally and displays it in Syria, Africa, and Ukraine. This is the advent of an army as a global brand. – Foreign Policy


Israeli police raids on Jerusalem’s holiest mosque, army operations against West Bank militants and anti-Palestinian comments by officials have drawn condemnation from Arab leaders—putting a chill on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s effort to deepen ties with Middle East neighbors. – Wall Street Journal

Israel conducted strikes on Syria early Sunday, targeting a military compound and radar and artillery posts after six rockets were launched from the country toward Israeli territory, briefly opening a new flash point as a domestic crisis here simmers. – Washington Post

A fragile calm set in late Friday on Israel’s borders with Gaza and Lebanon after an intense exchange of fire on both fronts, as Israel and Palestinian militants threatened escalation and the United Nations and others tried to prevent the situation from deteriorating. – Wall Street Journal

A shooting in the northern West Bank on Friday killed two Israeli British sisters and seriously injured their mother, adding to tensions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories during a holiday week marred by violence. – Washington Post

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up additional forces across the country Friday as twin attacks on civilians capped three days of spiraling violence, ignited by Israeli police raids on one of Islam’s holiest sites. – Washington Post

Israel’s government on Sunday rejected claims raised in documents allegedly leaked from the Pentagon that leaders of its foreign intelligence service Mossad had supported nationwide protests against a proposed overhaul of Israel’s judiciary. – Reuters

Tens of thousands of Israelis joined protests on Saturday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to tighten controls on the Supreme Court, despite heightened security worries after two deadly attacks a day earlier. – Reuters

A 20-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli forces during a confrontation between soldiers and a group of Palestinians in Azzaoun town in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said on Saturday. – Reuters

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday condemned the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians, urging all parties to exercise restraint and promote calm for the ongoing religious holidays. – Reuters

Former military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. (res.) Tamir Hayman says he no longer trusts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judgment on matters of security after his attempt to fire Yoav Gallant as defense minister, and that some of the damage to Israel’s economy and social cohesion, and its ties with the US, inflicted by the government’s since-paused push to overhaul the judiciary may be irreversible. – Times of Israel

The Palestinian terror group Lions’ Den announced Sunday the extrajudicial killing of a “traitor” in the West Bank who had allegedly collaborated with Israel. – Times of Israel

Palestinians who barricaded themselves in al-Aqsa mosque last week brought explosives into the mosque, Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai told KAN news on Sunday evening. – Jerusalem Post

Israel is in the midst of a challenging security situation that is complicated on several fronts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the heads of Gaza border communities in a Sunday afternoon call. – Jerusalem Post

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen held a round of conversations with top diplomats from nations across the Middle East in an attempt to calm regional tensions amid clashes on Temple Mount, as well as barrages of rocket launches at Israel from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Spyer writes: If Israel continues to avoid escalation to war, it may eventually find that its deterrence erodes to the point that it can no longer guarantee Israelis normal lives. The desire for normalcy pursued at too high a cost ends up forfeiting the very thing it seeks. Israel should as a matter of urgency pursue the goal of restoring the eroded balance of terror that had largely held since 2006—even if this entails hitting the senior and junior members of the Iran-led regional axis. – Wall Street Journal

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It’s unclear if Iran also planned the al-Aqsa tensions and also put out messaging for riots on Thursday, but it appears that Tehran did seek to heat up the region for a conflict on the eve of Passover. This is not a coincidence. The timing is clear. Leaders of groups like Hamas don’t just show up in Beirut by mistake while their armed units are moving rockets into position to be fired. – Jerusalem Post


When an unusually heavy rocket barrage hit Israel from Lebanon this week, it was the latest reminder of a long-running animus between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia that dominates Lebanon’s southern borderlands. – New York Times

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah met with a delegation led by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Beirut on Sunday to discuss cooperation, amid spiking violence in Israel from rocket barrages and terror attacks. – Times of Israel

Chuck Freilich writes: And now, we face a possible perfect storm, one which Israel’s intelligence agencies have been warning about for months, of a multi-front war. One need not be unusually creative to imagine the glee with which Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas must be viewing the disarray and self-inflicted processes of destruction underway in Israel. – Haaretz


Afghan religious scholars Saturday criticized a ban on female education, as a key Taliban minister warned clerics not to rebel against the government on the controversial issue. – Associated Press

A women-run radio station in northeastern Afghanistan has resumed its broadcasts, after officials shut it down for a week for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official and the head of the station said Friday. – Associated Press

Editorial: This belated attempt to rewrite history and erase Biden’s culpability is a disgrace. It insults the Afghan allies whom Biden left behind to suffer or die at the hands of the Taliban. It disregards the dozens of Americans who are still stuck in Afghanistan because of his incompetence. – Washington Examiner


A deadly land mine explosion in Syria killed at least six people on Sunday, according to state media. News agency SANA said the explosion hit civilians who were foraging for truffles in the countryside, and blamed the incident on a land mine planted by the Islamic State group in the southern Deir Ez-Zor province. The area is a former stronghold of the militants. – Associated Press

Andrew Tabler writes: If there is not progress, the Arab countries normalising with al-Assad and engaging in reconstruction will almost certainly be hit with Treasury designations and other sanctions violations. Unless there are major changes in the way al-Assad rules and does business, including his tolerance of Iranian militias and assets on Syrian soil and Captagon production facilities, this will be yet another exercise of throwing good Arab money after bad to recoup their steady losses against Iran in the Levant. – Al Majalla

Seth J. Frantzman writes: However, today the Syrian regime is not in the same spot that it was back in 2015 or 2016. The regime is now seeking to retake more parts of the country. Syria is working with Russia and in talks with Iran and Turkey. Those talks continue to falter regarding Turkey’s withdrawal from northern Syria. However, the overall trend is clear. The regime wants to portray itself as in charge of the country. At the same time, the regime enables instability through the kinds of incidents like the rocket fire on Saturday night and Sunday morning. – Jerusalem Post


Turkey urged Israel to stop strikes on the Gaza Strip as violence there tested a nascent diplomatic thaw between the two countries, which remain divided over the Palestinian conflict. – Bloomberg

Russia on Friday threatened to bypass the UN-brokered grain deal unless obstacles to its agricultural exports were removed, while talks in Turkey agreed removing barriers was a necessary condition to extending the agreement beyond next month. – Reuters

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi over the phone that the “Islamic world should be united against Israel’s attacks in Palestine,” Turkish media reported. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran will be pleased to see the US endangered and will admire Ankara’s brazenness in this regard. For the Kurdish fighters, this is bad news because it means they are now increasingly seen as pawns to be targeted by strikes, rather than a major group with a seat at the table. – Jerusalem Post


A drone strike in northern Iraq on Friday targeted a Syrian Kurdish leader who has been an American ally in the fight against Islamic State, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Of his countless stories of his life as a hairdresser in Iraq, the one Qaiss al-Sharaa most enjoys retelling is about the day April 9, 2003, when he watched Iraqis and American Marines pull down the statue of Saddam Hussein in front of his salon in Baghdad’s Firdos Square. – Associated Press

Iraq has demanded an apology from Turkey over a drone strike that Syria’s Kurds said was aimed at their military commander, a western ally in the fight against Isis. – Financial Times

Michael Rubin writes: All Iraqis will pay the price for Iraq’s latest oil bargain. There will be no stability in Iraq if the United States encourages corruption over good governance or partners with any party, family, or individual who believes their path to power is through Iraq’s failure rather than success. – Washington Examiner


The Lebanese army said Saturday it had located several rockets prepared for launch in southern Lebanon, two days after over three dozen projectiles were launched into Israel from its northern neighbor. – Times of Israel

Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the country would file a complaint to the United Nations Security Council over Israel’s rare airstrikes in the country, which were retaliation for rocket fire into Israel as part of a wider escalation that also included Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. – Times of Israel

A sampling of posts suggests fears of another catastrophic war, increased public questioning of Hezbollah as a “resistance” movement, and anger toward its cooperation with Iran in compromising Lebanon’s sovereignty. – Washington Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Hezbollah doesn’t appear deterred, since it controls the area from which rockets were fired. In addition, Hamas leaders openly fly into Beirut and meet with Palestinian Islamic Jihad and plotted the attacks this past week during Passover. […]It’s also not clear if those who backed the deal and said it would include security will revisit this question and pressure Lebanon regarding its hosting of extremist groups. – Jerusalem Post


Saudi negotiators met with Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Yemeni capital of San’a on Sunday to hammer out the final details of a long-term truce that could pave the way toward a lasting peace after eight years of war, officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia on Saturday released over a dozen war prisoners to their rivals, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, a Houthi official said. The release came as Omani officials arrived in the Yemeni capital as part of international efforts to end Yemen’s years-long conflict. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This week, the US warned about the possibility of growing Iranian threats in the Middle East. It may be that the Yemen peace deal that is coming will also enable Iran to concentrate attacks elsewhere. Having sealed a deal with Saudi Arabia, Tehran may now seek to focus on threats against Israel and the US, which Iran has long viewed as the two countries against which it wants to “resist” in the region. – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

The U.S. military said Saturday that it has sent a guided-missile submarine into the Red Sea in a public show of force in response to the recent attacks on American positions by Iran-aligned militants across the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries have warned Egypt that any financial bailout would depend on Cairo devaluing its currency and appointing new officials to run its economy, according to Egyptian and Gulf officials, raising the bar for its embattled neighbor after providing years of easy assistance. – Wall Street Journal

Mark N. Katz writes: Whether Saudi Arabia’s willingness to normalize relations with Iran and with Syria will pay off for Riyadh is not yet known, of course. What is clear, though, is that while the U.S. and Israel are focused on preventing Iran from becoming stronger than it is, Saudi Arabia is instead more focused on managing the threats and opportunities Riyadh faces that may result from Iran’s weaknesses. – The Hill

Salem Alketbi writes: Additionally, the evidence shows that the region is going through rapid transformations, making it challenging to rule out any possibilities. However, everything still hinges on Israel’s conduct and decisions, which must factor in these significant changes and act in a manner that advances its interests with Arab and Gulf states, particularly concerning de-escalating the situation with the Palestinians. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: Saudi leaders no doubt believe that restoring diplomatic relations is a useful political ploy, but surely appreciate that the deal is superficial and cannot begin to touch the real problems that the Iranian regime poses to the Saudi kingdom and the rest of the world. The Sunni Arab world recognized some time ago who its main enemy was.  The Abraham Accords are one outcome. Saudi Arabia is widely perceived as on the brink of joining the association. Would its new reconciliation with Iran withstand the shock? – Jerusalem Post

Charlotte Lawson writes: The United States’ two most influential Middle Eastern partners are diverging in their responses to Iran’s burgeoning nuclear capabilities as U.S. attempts to rein in the Islamic Republic flounder. While Israel prepares for the possibility of a military showdown, Saudi Arabia appears poised to make amends with its longtime regional foe while eyeing an atomic arsenal of its own. – The Dispatch

Korean Peninsula

When reports emerged late last year that South Korea had agreed to sell artillery shells to help the United States replenish its stockpiles, it insisted that their “end user” should be the U.S. military. But internally, top aides to President Yoon Suk Yeol were worried that their American ally would divert them to Ukraine. – New York Times

The United States, South Korea and Japan expressed deep concern over North Korea’s “malicious” cyber activities to support its weapons programmes, in comments released in a joint statement on Friday. – Reuters

North Korea has conducted another test of a nuclear-capable underwater attack drone, its state media reported on Saturday, the latest demonstration of its military capabilities as it faces off against the United States and South Korea. – Reuters

North Korea has not responded to regularly-held, inter-Korean phone calls for a third consecutive day, elevating tensions on the peninsula and increasing concern about the stability of the region. – Bloomberg


China has sentenced to prison two prominent human rights activists, each for more than a decade, after they organized a small private gathering, signaling the Chinese Communist Party’s growing intolerance toward any semblance of political advocacy deemed to undermine its rule.- Washington Post

China is attempting to balance its fury over Taiwan with a desire to play the role of global peacemaker—a delicate two-step that comes as China seeks to sustain a burst of diplomatic momentum and establish itself as a new global counterbalance to Washington. – Wall Street Journal

In the afternoon of July 15, 2016, Hideji Suzuki got out of a taxi at the Beijing airport to catch a plane back to Japan following a five-day Japan-China friendship event. He recalls that after he walked a few steps, five muscular men suddenly surrounded him and asked him in Chinese whether he was Mr. Suzuki. He said yes and was shoved into a white van. The men told him he was being detained on suspicion of espionage, blindfolded him and seized his phone. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese officials on Saturday offered a lengthy rebuttal to accusations by the World Health Organization that they had been slow to share data about the possible origins of the coronavirus, blasting some in the organization as political “tools” whose remarks were “intolerable.” – New York Times

President Emmanuel Macron of France concluded a three-day visit to China on Friday, with the two countries having discussed everything from the study of lunar samples to the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. But their joint statement on the talks said little about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, despite Mr. Macron’s efforts to persuade China’s leader, Xi Jinping, to do more to help end the war. – New York Times

China retaliated for the United States House speaker’s meeting with the Taiwanese president by announcing sanctions Friday against the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and other organizations, adding to strains over the self-governed island democracy Beijing claims as part of its territory. – Associated Press

Europe must reduce its dependency on the United States and avoid getting dragged into a confrontation between China and the U.S. over Taiwan, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on his plane back from a three-day state visit to China. – Politico

China’s military carried out aerial and naval blockade drills around Taiwan on Monday, its last scheduled day of exercises, with a Chinese aircraft carrier joining in combat patrols as Taipei reported another surge of warplanes near the island. – Reuters

With Beijing’s graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection warning against “hedonism” and “high-end lifestyles”, banks have also been making deep cuts to executive pay and bonuses as former high-ranking officials come under investigation. – Financial Times

Editorial: In 2019 and 2020, China closed many smaller reeducation camps and moved detainees into forced labor or incarcerated them with long prison sentences after bogus trials. Both the prisons and high-security facilities were expanded. Other aspects of the cultural genocide of the Uyghurs continue, including separation of parents and children, harsh policies to reduce further the Uyghur birthrate, and widespread political indoctrination and brainwashing. – Washington Post

Edward Wong writes: What the United States should do, he said, is focus on building up its own military to deter any potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan and bolster the capabilities of allies in the region, notably Japan and Australia. To that end, the United States should spend fewer resources on the Ukraine war and more on American forces that would be deployed in a conflict with China, Mr. Colby said. – New York Times

Minxin Pei writes: Biden’s best bet is also to remain patient. The self-imposed limits of China’s latest charm offensive will soon become apparent. In the meantime, the world is probably better off if both superpowers are busy competing for friends, not making new enemies. – Bloomberg

Randy Schriver and Dan Blumenthal write: The United States’ policy on China has changed dramatically during the Trump and now Biden administration in ways that even a decade ago would not have been feasible. Confronting the threat from China will be challenging and require sacrifice. But America has faced similar challenges before and prevailed—and it can do it again with the right strategy that leverages the tools and relationships America has invested in for decades to defend the free and open order for all nations. – The National Interest

Daniel H. Rosen and Sophie Lu writes: Many countries—including many of the 140-plus that have entered into Belt and Road Initiative agreements with Beijing—are counting on Chinese support to finance their own transitions to cleaner power plants and better grid infrastructure. A China that is growing slowly will also import fewer minerals and other raw materials from countries hoping to sell to the enormous Chinese market. China’s growth shortfall will not only impinge upon its domestic priorities but also hurt the rest of the world. – Foreign Affairs

Junyang Hu writes: In such an inflated threat climate and a tendency to gaze on the present as tabula rasa, the United States struggles to pierce the informational and cognitive cocoon in an effort to grasp a comprehensive understanding of China’s motives. Consequently, the country may confront mounting difficulty in extricating itself from an arms race or open conflict with China, let alone crafting an effective long-term strategy towards China. – The National Interest

South Asia

A roadside bomb exploded in northwest Pakistan, killing two soldiers who were traveling in their vehicle, the military said. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. – Associated Press

Pakistan top intelligence agency arrested a high-value target in an operation against a Baluch insurgent group in the country’s southwest, the army said Friday. – Associated Press

Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday said he had canceled his trip to Washington for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on the orders of the prime minister due to the political situation in the country. – Reuters

India’s Defence Ministry is buying two types of missile systems and multiple warships through several contracts awarded last week. – Defense News


Taiwan will not be stopped from engaging with the world and will not give in to pressure, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday as she arrived back from a trip to Central America and United States, where she met U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. – Reuters

Malaysia said on Saturday it was firmly committed to protecting its sovereign rights and interests in the South China Sea after China expressed concern about Malaysian energy projects in a part of the sea that China also claims. – Reuters

A US Navy destroyer passed through waters claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea in a show of force that comes as the nation’s military holds drills around Taiwan. – Bloomberg

China has imposed further sanctions on Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, prohibiting her and family members from entering the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, state media reported on Friday. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Vietnam next week, Senator Jeff Merkley told a news conference in Hanoi on Saturday, as part of Washington’s efforts to move diplomatic relations with Hanoi on to a higher level this year. – Reuters

Senior Japanese and Chinese officials met on Monday to discuss maritime concerns in disputed waters in the East China Sea as Beijing conducted wargames around Taiwan. – Reuters

India has confronted Myanmar in recent months with intelligence showing that China is providing assistance in building a surveillance post on a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, according to Indian officials with knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg

The U.S. Army is preparing to put its logistics tail to the test in the Indo-Pacific, considered the most challenging operational theater in the world by service officials. – Defense News

Dan Hannan writes: When the national debt stands at over $30 trillion, there are limits to what the U.S. can do. But whereas maintaining garrisons in Europe or the Middle East is a drain on resources, joining CPTPP would serve to make Americans richer. It is one of the few ways in which the U.S. can reassert its power and become better off for its pains. Free trade, support for democratic allies, and greater wealth. Come on in, cousins. The water’s lovely. – Washington Examiner

Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar writes: In an effort to reduce tensions, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held trilateral talks with Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. He has also asked Aliyev to immediately reopen a commercial road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster. European Council President Charles Michel has had telephone conversations with both leaders, as well, urging them to refrain from further escalation. But until the international community realizes how this conflict between two small countries could turn into a crisis with global implications, a breakthrough remains unlikely. – Foreign Affairs

A.A. Bastian writes: Yet China’s ambitions could also backfire. The U.S. presence in Okinawa brings hundreds of thousands of Americans through the island. Over eight decades, some have grown fond of Okinawa and Japan more generally—a powerful instrument of soft power for the archipelago. Any threat to the island is likely not to deter Washington or Tokyo but to provoke them. – Foreign Policy


On Tuesday, U.S. President Biden will travel to the British province to celebrate the deal’s anniversary along with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Mr. Biden, whose ancestors were Irish, will hail the deal that brought an uneasy peace between a mostly Protestant community that sees itself as British and wants to remain part of the U.K., and a mostly Catholic community that endured decades of discrimination and which views itself as Irish and aspires to see a united Ireland. – Wall Street Journal

Just a few weeks ago, New York Times reporting on new intelligence, along with German police findings reported by the German media, suggested a possible solution to the Nord Stream puzzle: pro-Ukraine operatives renting a German pleasure boat and pulling off a fantastical covert mission. – New York Times

Portuguese party Chega will hold a world summit in Lisbon with several far-right party leaders in May, including former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, the president of Chega said on Friday. – Reuters

Editorial: Mr. Macron wants the U.S. to ride to Europe’s rescue against Russian aggression but apparently take a vow of neutrality against Chinese aggression in the Pacific. Thanks a lot, mate. His unhelpful comments will undermine U.S. and Japanese deterrence against China in the Western Pacific while encouraging U.S. politicians who want to reduce U.S. commitments in Europe to better resist China. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Yes, there is much work that needs to be done to realize the full promise of the Good Friday Agreement and to bring down all the walls, figurative and physical, between the people of Northern Ireland. But that is not a sign of failure; it is a lesson that a peace agreement is never final, and needs regular renewal to endure. – New York Times

Bill Clinton writes: On this anniversary, the people of Northern Ireland and all their friends around the world have much to celebrate. I hope this moment of shared memory will allow them to continue the work of peace and inspire others to believe, as Heaney wrote, in “miracles / And cures and healing wells” and find their own way forward. – Washington Post

Sylvie Kauffmann writes: Yet Macron had more than 50 chief executives travelling with him. And China is the EU’s largest trading partner. A more assertive China and a more assertive Europe are now trying to find common ground in a world where geopolitical realities clash with economic interests. – Financial Times

Claire Ainsley writes: Britain is watching Biden’s blue-collar blueprint because the policy path is becoming an important dividing line between the status quo economists of the Conservatives and the revived center-left in Labour. But also because if it delivers, as it must, a new era of American jobs and prosperity for the people and places the president describes as forgotten, it could be part of the blueprint for winning over working-class voters as well as a blueprint for economic renewal. – The Hill

Dov S. Zakheim writes: It has been widely reported that Russia has drawn down its Baltic land forces and deployed them to the Ukrainian theater. Nevertheless, Russia embodies a serious threat to the three small Baltic states in particular. Indeed, Russia has characterized Finland’s joining the alliance as an “assault” on its interests and has threatened unspecified strategic and tactical “counter-measures.” There can be little doubt that Moscow will reinforce its Baltic force presence as soon as it can. For that reason, Washington should capitalize on Finland’s accession and immediately lay the groundwork for bolstering the already critical deterrent that its newest ally contributes to the alliance. – The Hill

Edward Lucas writes: Russian officials rarely visit London these days. But they still hate being singled out for visa bans and asset freezes. Britain should not wait for this show trial to reach its farcical conclusion. It should impose sanctions now. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Bill Echikson writes: President Biden wants to repair the security relations severed by the Trump Administration’s destructive isolationism. Supporting Ukraine represents the preeminent transatlantic priority. But before it is too late, the president should engage Europe on digital protectionism. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Wagner, the documents say, is actively working to thwart American interests in Africa and has explored branching out to Haiti, right under the nose of the United States, with an offer to help that country’s embattled government take on violent gangs. – New York Times

A Democratic Republic of Congo military court sentenced six men to life in prison on Friday over the death of the Italian ambassador, his bodyguard and driver, according to a lawyer. – Reuters

Chad’s government ordered the German ambassador to leave the country within 48 hours, it said in a statement, a decision sources said was motivated by his comments about Chad’s delayed transition to civilian rule after a 2021 coup. – Reuters

Gunmen abducted at least 80 people, mostly women and children, in Nigeria’s Zamfara state, a hotspot for kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs targeting remote villages, residents said on Saturday. – Reuters

At least 74 people were killed in Nigeria’s Benue state in two separate attacks by gunmen this week, local officials and police said on Saturday, the latest clashes in an area where violence between pastoralists and farmers is common. – Reuters

Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that authorities said killed around 20 people. – Reuters

At least 44 people were killed by Islamic extremists in multiple attacks in northern Burkina Faso, the government said Saturday. – Associated Press

Latin America

Fox News and one of its former hosts, Lou Dobbs, have settled a defamation suit with a Venezuelan businessman whom the network linked to voting-system fraud in the 2020 election. – New York Times

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Manrique has been granted two more weeks to fight his extradition from the United States on corruption charges, halting extradition proceedings that had been set to start Friday. – Associated Press

After a period in which Venezuela’s President Maduro was shunned by right and centrist Latin American leaders, the current batch of populist leftists are eager to embrace the Chavista Bolivarian — and so is President Biden. – New York Sun

Juan P. Villasmil writes: Neutrality in the hopes of the pendulum’s bob bouncing back will only lead to the rise of new anti-American authoritarians in our proximity, impacting America’s economic relationships and worsening the migration crisis, as it already is. If Latin American conservatives want to win, they need new drivers, new cars, and new fuel. With prudence, the United States must back a new wave of Latin American leaders, and, with determination, Latin America must course-correct. – The National Interest

North America

The episode has deepened concerns about the growing footprint of Mexico’s armed forces, which has not only been put in charge of domestic security, but has also been given a rapidly expanding portfolio of businesses, like a new international airport and a major rail line. It underscores what human rights advocates and analysts say is a dangerous flaw in Mexico’s governing system: one of the country’s most powerful institutions operates with little oversight. – New York Times

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal is planning to visit Canada in the coming weeks, a spokesperson for the Canadian Prime Minister told Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

Moscow formally protested to Canada on Friday after the country’s U.N. envoy described a murdered Russian blogger as “a vitriolic propagandist” and a hate-monger, the foreign ministry said. – Reuters

United States

On Saturday, as U.S. officials and their foreign allies scrambled to understand how dozens of classified intelligence documents had ended up on the internet, they were stunned — and occasionally infuriated — at the extraordinary range of detail the files exposed about how the United States spies on friends and foes alike. – Washington Post

The Pentagon is investigating social-media posts that purport to reveal highly classified U.S. government documents on the war in Ukraine and other key international topics, in what could be one of the most dangerous intelligence breaches in decades. – Wall Street Journal

David E. Sanger writes: But both Ms. Manning and Mr. Snowden said they were motivated by a desire to reveal what they viewed as transgressions by the United States. “This time it doesn’t look ideological,” Mr. Alperovitch said. The first appearance of some of the documents seems to have taken place on gaming platforms, perhaps to settle an online argument over the status of the fight in Ukraine. – New York Times

Ted Nordhaus and Adam Stein write: But the hangover from the previous generation’s anti-nuclear activism continues to undermine efforts to revitalize the nuclear industry. Until policy-makers across the West are willing to follow the science, reassess the public health evidence that underpins nuclear regulation, and reset the regulatory frameworks that govern the use of the technology, the substantial environmental, public health, and energy security benefits nuclear power can deliver are unlikely to be realized. – Foreign Policy


When Washington introduced expansive controls in October restricting chip and equipment exports to China, Beijing accused the US of “bullying” its tech sector and “violating the spirit of co-operation”. – Financial Times

Nineteen Japanese men detained in Cambodia in January on suspicion of taking part in organized phone and online scams will be deported to their homeland, a Cambodian immigration police officer said Friday. – Associated Press

Editorial: The White House kicked off a much-needed collaborative regime with this month’s executive order and with the principles that 11 participating states in this year’s Summit for Democracy agreed to on the heels of its release. (Israel, notably, wasn’t among them.) Ideally, their commitments will evolve to detail what standards countries must put in place and what uses are permissible, as well as to include more types of services than the “end-to-end software suites” offered by groups such as NSO. – Washington Post

Victor Zhora writes: We need to form a robust coalition of like-minded nations that stand up to Russia’s digital aggression, deploy the most aggressive sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime and to continue denying Russia access the latest technology, software and services that enable it to carry out its global campaign of cyberattacks and cyberwarfare on Ukraine and the rest of the world. – CyberScoop


Textron’s Bell can move forward with building the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, the Army’s largest helicopter procurement in 40 years, after the Government Accountability Office rejected a competitor’s protest. – Defense News

The U.S. Maritime Administration is pursuing a three-pronged approach to update and grow the nation’s surge sealift capacity, according to its leader Ann Phillips, but she can’t go after the third one until Congress funds it. – Defense News

Risa Brooks writes: Finally, the public’s role in countering the false claims of anti-woke actors is straightforward, if more easily recognized than achieved: Rather than get caught up in hyperbole, Americans should listen for the facts. Public scrutiny and skepticism are arguably the best antidote to the anti-woke campaign against the U.S. military. – War on the Rocks

Long War

The Biden administration is quietly helping Burkina Faso’s ruling junta battle al Qaeda and Islamic State in a hotly contested corner of West Africa, without running afoul of U.S. laws banning most security aid to military regimes. – Wall Street Journal

Pakistan plans to launch a new nationwide operation to root out Islamist militants, the national security committee said on Friday, in a potentially costly move for a country already facing full-blown economic and political crises. – Reuters

Afghanistan’s special forces killed two Islamic State fighters and arrested a third during an operation in the country’s west on Sunday, a regional official said. – Associated Press