Fdd's overnight brief

April 12, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Senior Pentagon officials were frustrated that Israel did not notify the United States before conducting a strike on an Iranian site in Syria this month, an escalation that they assess increases risks to American forces in the Middle East, U.S. officials said. – Washington Post

In the week since President Biden warned Israel to swiftly address civilian suffering in Gaza — or risk future U.S. support — Israeli officials have touted what they say is a record number of aid trucks entering the territory, one of several new measures that the government maintains will help alleviate the crisis. – Washington Post

Israel is preparing for a direct attack from Iran on southern or northern Israel as soon as the next 24 to 48 hours, according to a person familiar with the matter. A person briefed by the Iranian leadership, however, said that while plans to attack are being discussed, no final decision has been made. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli military announced what it called a precise operation to kill members of Hamas in Gaza on Thursday, a day after a strike there killed relatives of one of the group’s most senior leaders. – New York Times

The United States said on Thursday it had restricted its employees in Israel and their family members from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva areas amid Iran’s threats to retaliate against its regional adversary. – Reuters

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday his Palestinian militant group was still seeking a deal for a ceasefire and hostage release after an Israeli strike killed three of his sons in an attack in Gaza. – Reuters

“Echoing President Biden’s unequivocal message to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary Austin assured Minister Gallant that Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, which Tehran has publicly threatened,” the Pentagon said. – Reuters

Israel is keeping up its war in Gaza but is also preparing for scenarios in other areas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, amid concern that Iran was preparing to strike Israel in response for the killing of senior Iranian commanders. – Reuters

The walls are closing in around Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing immense pressure from the U.S. to avoid a civilian catastrophe in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah but is also under threat from far-right members of his coalition, who want a decisive offensive against Hamas in its final stronghold. – The Hill

Members of the UN Security Council failed to reach a consensus Thursday on a bid by Palestinians for full UN membership, meaning the longshot effort is now likely headed for a more formal council vote. – Agence France-Presse

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will virtually address an event on Monday at a conservative DC think tank hosted by Keep God’s Land, an organization formed after October 7 advocating against a two-state solution. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF on Thursday launched a ground assault in the central Gaza Strip, near the Nuseirat refugee camp. – Ynet

A senior terrorist official was eliminated during an operation in the Palestinian Authority city of Tubas overnight. – Arutz Sheva

Anonymous witnesses from the negotiating team for the release of the hostages claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preventing the advancement of a deal with Hamas. – Arutz Sheva

When Tucker Carlson said he wanted to know how the government of Israel treats Christians, he opted against interviewing Israeli Christians, choosing instead to speak to a Palestinian Christian pastor who founded an anti-Israel organization and justified Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. – Jewish Insider

Elizabeth Stauffer writes: To prevent any harm to the aid workers, the IDF attempted to call both the WCK workers and the WCK headquarters on two separate occasions to confirm whether they were with the Hamas convoy, but nobody answered the IDF’s phone calls.” Glick said she later heard that the IDF tried to contact WCK nine times. “When the vehicles left the hangar over an hour after they entered it, the IDF drone unit misidentified the WCK vehicle for a vehicle from the Hamas terror convoy and mistakenly struck that vehicle.” Why do I find that scenario so eternally believable? More importantly, why doesn’t the Biden administration? – Washington Examiner

Amos Harel writes: If no all-consuming flare-up with Iran and Hezbollah occurs, the date is approaching for senior officers on whose watch the October 7 disaster occurred to have to translate their general assumption of responsibility from the beginning of the war into a practical announcement of their resignation. – Haaretz 

Daniel Pomerantz writes: On the other hand, terror groups are also watching: they see that hiding behind civilians works, that placing military bases inside hospitals works, and that a campaign of global defamation works as well. If we publicly malign the very caution we wish to see in the world by Israel, if we permit the very abuse of civilians we wish to prevent, then we build the very kind of future we should rationally wish to avoid. – Algemeiner

Ami Ayalon writes: More and more Israelis are now returning to the streets in anger over their government’s inability to protect its citizens and to define achievable goals for the war. They are calling for the release of the hostages still held in Gaza and new elections to replace the Israeli government. Only a coalition that excludes right-wing extremists can chart a course toward lasting peace. With a bold new leadership that recognizes the failure of policies advanced by the hard right, and with the support of the Israeli public and the country’s friends around the world, Israel may finally be able to climb out of its grief and agony and reach for a sustainable political settlement. – Foreign Affairs

Iran

Iran has signalled to Washington that it will respond to Israel’s attack on its Syrian embassy in a way that aims to avoid major escalation and it will not act hastily, as Tehran presses demands including a Gaza truce, Iranian sources said. – Reuters

Iranian news agency Mehr reported overnight Thursday that Iran temporarily grounded all air activity over Tehran’s airspace starting from midnight due to “military drills,” according to a report published on the agency’s X account, citing Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad-Reza Gharaei Ashtiani. Half an hour later, however, the post was removed, with the agency later denying its publishing. – Ynet

The US has asked China and other countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to urge Tehran not to launch a retaliatory attack on Israel for its air strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria. – Financial Times

Editorial: The belated change of tone in the White House is welcome, but it would be more effective if it’s the start of an effort to repair Mr. Biden’s rupture with Israel. The President can rail against an invasion of Hamas’s final stronghold of Rafah—an Israeli strategic need and consensus—or return to his original position on the city and work to improve the Israeli plan to evacuate civilians. Tactical disagreements will remain, but a public break with Israel isn’t likely to prevent a Rafah operation. It could provoke a larger war with Iran and its proxies. – Wall Street Journal 

Yaakov Katz writes: Does this mean that war with Hezbollah is inevitable? Possibly, but it does not mean that it needs to happen now. Based on the last six months, both Israel and Iran have showed an interest in containing their conflict and not letting it spill over into something wider. We will know soon enough if that can continue. – Jerusalem Post

Erfan Fard writes: As the international community contemplates its next moves, the decisions made will indelibly influence the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East and the wider world. A calibrated blend of firmness in defense, innovation in diplomacy, and solidarity with the Iranian populace offers a pathway out of the current impasse. This approach promises not just the containment of a global threat but the dawn of a new chapter in international relations, one where dialogue and mutual respect override discord and confrontation. – Arutz Sheva

Vinay Kaura writes: While the threat of ISKP offers the prospect of deeper intelligence and law enforcement cooperation, occasional border skirmishes and water-sharing disputes will continue to test the depth of Iran-Taliban ties. Domestically, conservative and reformist sections in Iran continue to differ in their approaches on how to deal with the Afghan Taliban over the long run. However, the Iranian regime seems to have realized it is better to ignore some negative aspects in its ties with Afghanistan in order to focus on larger geopolitical objectives. Engaging the Taliban is, thus, a necessity. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine’s parliament approved legislation Thursday that officials say will simplify conscription, aiding an expected mobilization that could press hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men into the fight against Russia’s invasion. – Washington Post

The U.S. and Russia are using a confidential channel to discuss the issue of exchanging prisoners that could include the release of jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal 

Drone attacks on the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine must stop as they could pose “a new and gravely dangerous” stage in the war, the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief told his agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors on Thursday. – Reuters

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, whose pro-Russian views have put him at odds with allies, sought to deepen cooperation in energy, railway links and grain transport with war-hit neighbour Ukraine on Thursday. – Reuters

Fatigue among donors could compound the issues created by the mass displacement of Ukrainians after Russia’s invasion, making the problem more expensive to deal with in the long run, the U.N. migration agency chief said in Kyiv on Thursday. – Reuters   

A massive missile and drone attack destroyed one of Ukraine’s largest power plants and damaged others, officials said Thursday, part of a renewed Russian campaign targeting energy infrastructure. – Associated Press

Russia on Thursday successfully test-launched a new heavy-lift rocket from its Far Eastern space complex, a lift-off that comes after two aborted attempts earlier this week. – Associated Press

An energy facility in Ukraine’s southern region of Dnipropetrovsk has sustained damage after catching fire following a Russian drone attack early on April 12, the Ukrainian military and a regional official said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) blamed the United Kingdom for facilitating the “vast majority” of Ukraine’s attacks on Crimea. In a video statement distributed by the FSB on Thursday, a Russian intelligence officer said that the agency “has regularly received information about the participation of Western intelligence services, primarily British, in the training of Ukrainian special forces.” – Newsweek

NATO aircraft were scrambled after Russia launched large-scale missile strikes on Ukraine overnight on Thursday. Poland’s military announced that “intense long-range aviation activity of the Russian Federation is being observed, related to missile strikes” in Ukraine. – Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued orders to Kremlin-controlled agencies regarding the development of a nuclear energy program for space. – Newsweek

Heavy Ukrainian drones working in tandem with Kyiv’s notorious first-person-view (FPV) drones are proving “extremely dangerous” for Russian forces in the war-torn country, according to the former head of Russia’s space agency. – Newsweek

Light artillery pieces donated to Ukraine by Britain’s Ministry of Defence are to be repaired and maintained locally under a deal agreed by the two governments. – Defense News

Luke Coffey & Peter Rough write: With a strategy of courage, the US and its allies can help Ukraine make important progress, weaken Russia in the Black Sea and beyond, and chart a path to end this long and bloody war. The only way to force Putin from his objective is to give Ukraine the means to beat him on the battlefield. This is not an impossible task, but it requires the US to keep its nerve, recognize the stakes, and identify the path ahead. Now is the time to act. – Hudson Institute

Luke Rodeheffer writes: Moscow is aware of the increasingly crowded competition for influence in Eurasia and is struggling to expand the trade bloc and accelerate integration processes. The EEU has proven helpful for Moscow in the initial aftermath of the invasion, enabling sanctions avoidance and more foreign labor to replenish workers sent to the front. However, the long-term future of the bloc, as anything other than a commodities corridor, remains doubtful, and the trade bloc’s neighbors are reacting accordingly. – The National Interest

Iraq

Twenty years ago this month, photos of abused prisoners and smiling U.S. soldiers guarding them at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison were released, shocking the world. – Associated Press

The security and defense relationship between the U.S. and Iraq will be an important part of talks when Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani visits Washington next week but is not the primary focus of the visit, a senior State Department official said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Mina Al-Oraibi writes: It is in the interests of both Iraq and the United States to negotiate a long-term agreement that resolves the troop question and sets up the next phase of U.S.-Iraqi relations. […]As Washington prepares for the U.S. elections later this year and deals with the fallout of the war in Gaza, Iran will be looking for ways to undermine the United States in the region. Going through with an exit from Iraq would be a political win for Tehran—and a strategic loss for Iraq, as it risks getting pulled further into the Iranian orbit. – Foreign Affairs

Turkey

Turkish police have seized the third largest haul of cocaine in the country’s history, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced Thursday, as groups monitoring organized crime warned that the country was becoming an entry point for drugs reaching Europe. – Associated Press

Tensions between Israel and Turkey over the war in Gaza are at risk of escalating into an all-out trade war, threatening a bilateral economic relationship that has long been nurtured even as the countries bicker over political issues. – Voice of America

Turkey’s ban on some exports to Israel is poised to hit Israel’s construction industry hard at a time when the sector has already been badly damaged by the war with the Hamas terror group. The imposed trade restrictions, mostly affecting goods upon which Israeli builders are dependent, will force importers to seek alternative suppliers from other countries, thereby incurring additional costs that will mean higher prices for consumers and businesses. – Times of Israel

Middle East & North Africa

Russia, Germany and Britain on Thursday urged countries in the Middle East to show restraint and Israel said it was preparing to “meet all its security needs” in a region on edge over an Iranian threat to strike Israel. – Reuters

Oil rose on Friday as heightened tensions in the Middle East raised the risk of supply disruptions from the oil-producing region, though the market is set for a weekly loss on expectations of fewer U.S. interest rate cuts this year. – Reuters

Michelle Grisé writes: Moscow’s growing friendship with Tehran may signal that Russian influence in the Middle East remains strong. However, it could also signal the opposite: Russia may realize that its future role in the region will be contingent on the favor of an increasingly capable Iran. For Moscow to achieve its long-term strategic objectives in the Middle East, it must cultivate a close working relationship with Tehran. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

A top Chinese official arrived in North Korea and held talks on how to boost their cooperation, North Korea’s state media reported Friday, in the counties’ highest-level meeting in about five years. – Associated Press

South Korea, Japan and the United States staged long-planned joint naval exercises involving an American aircraft carrier to ensure readiness against nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, Seoul’s navy said on Friday. – Reuters

New satellite imagery may give a snapshot of the deepening partnership between Moscow and Pyongyang. A pair of cargo ships believed to have facilitated illicit munitions and oil transfers between Russia and North Korea have been captured docked next to stacks of containers in the other country’s port. – Newsweek

China

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s trip to China sent a clear message—a flood of cut-priced exports isn’t welcome. It will likely fall on deaf ears in Beijing. Cheap Chinese goods aren’t new to global markets, but a recent surge has some in the West calling it “China Shock 2.0.” Overcapacity in China could undercut American businesses and workers and lead to overconcentration of supply chains, Yellen said. – Wall Street Journal 

China on Thursday announced rare sanctions against two U.S. defense companies over what it called their support for arms sales to Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy Beijing claims as its own territory to be recovered by force if necessary. – Associated Press

Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday that one of its representatives was denied entry into Hong Kong, calling it a “new decline” in the city’s press freedoms. – Associated Press

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is embarking on a charm offensive with Beijing as she looks to shield trade and economic ties after pulling Italy out of China’s controversial global investment initiative last year. – Bloomberg

Philippine supply convoys to a military outpost in a disputed area of the South China Sea must pass inspection by China’s forces, a Chinese diplomat has asserted. – Washington Examiner

Liam Denning writes: Banal as it is, China’s lead in EVs owes much to the fact that it pursued that outcome with single-minded purpose and no qualms about subsidizing it. The US has edged closer to that model, at varying internal speeds, in part because China moved first. Therein lies one of the chief risks to the pace of the EV project at a global level: China’s desire to realize its export ambitions and US determination to block them. – Bloomberg

South Asia

Messages by two influential Taliban leaders in Afghanistan this week showed tensions between hardliners and more moderate elements who want to scrap harsher policies and attract more outside support, experts said Thursday. – Associated Press

China said it hoped for progress with India on their border dispute after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Newsweek the situation needed to be addressed urgently. Military tensions are high along the 2,100 miles of the disputed border, known as the Line of Actual Control, between the two giant Asian nuclear powers, with India having overtaken China as the world’s most populous country last year. – Newsweek

Andy Mukherjee writes: If the credibility of elections comes under doubt, then the fig leaf drops. In that case, the average voter must be resigned to accept whatever deal is thrown up by the confluence of strongman politics, crony capitalism and a machine that blesses both — in perpetuity. – Bloomberg

Asia

A Vietnamese court sentenced a business executive to death Thursday in a multibillion-dollar fraud case as the country’s ruling Communist Party seeks to crack down on corruption. – Washington Post

The civil war now engulfing Myanmar is driving the population into an acute economic crisis, with the middle class shrinking dramatically and poverty spreading widely, according to a report issued Thursday by the United Nations Development Program. – Washington Post

Asia’s economic expansion is expected to remain healthy this year despite a slowdown in China and uncertainty abroad, the Asian Development Bank said as it revised up forecasts for the region. – Wall Street Journal

After spending a few days in Washington emphasizing global security concerns, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to tour around North Carolina on Friday to spotlight a different interest: his nation’s title as the state’s biggest foreign investor. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden said Thursday that U.S. defense commitment to Pacific allies was “ironclad” as he gathered Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House in the midst of growing concern about provocative Chinese military action in the Indo-Pacific. – Associated Press

The China Coast Guard said on Friday it patrolled the “territorial waters” of Diaoyu Islands, also known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands, in the East China Sea. – Reuters

A stream of people, some fearing air strikes, queued at a border crossing to flee Myanmar early on Friday, a day after the strategically vital town of Myawaddy near Thailand fell to anti-junta resistance that is gaining strength. – Reuters 

A national election in the Solomon Islands, the first since Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare signed a security pact with Beijing, will be watched next week for its potential to jolt the U.S.-China rivalry in the South Pacific. – Reuters 

New Zealand and the US have pledged to work more closely together on common challenges, in a further sign that Wellington is re-aligning itself with traditional western partners as China becomes more assertive in the Pacific. – Bloomberg 

A top EU diplomat on April 11 said he wants to see “genuine, substantial negotiations” between Armenia and Azerbaijan leading to a peace treaty, agreements on border delimitation, and opening of transport links. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Karishma Vaswani writes: This future is precisely what the Taiwanese don’t want: A world built on China’s rules. […]The last time Xi and Ma met, it was in Singapore in 2015 — when China’s economy was stronger, and Taiwanese identity was not as prominent an issue as it is today. The world has changed, since, on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. As with any family, the ties that bind because of a shared history or culture do not mean those relations will survive. You can’t choose your family, and often, you don’t like them very much either. – Bloomberg

Europe

Their revolt is reshaping European policy — officials who previously promised to put the environment first and lead the world in a green transition have scrambled to walk back some of their own rules. And in a year of key elections in both Europe and the United States, the farmer uprising may foretell a sharp right shift. – Washington Post

A Belarusian man who was in jail awaiting trial on charges of insulting the authoritarian president has died in custody, the country’s leading human rights group said Thursday. – Associated Press

Hungary’s government will place new restrictions on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products, the country’s agricultural minister said Thursday, a move designed to protect Hungarian farmers from market fluctuations caused by cheaper Ukrainian imports. – Associated Press

The European Central Bank signalled Thursday it could cut interest rates at its next meeting in June, a big step as the rich world’s central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, wrestle with how soon declining inflation will let them lower credit costs for business and consumers. – Associated Press

Britain’s defence ministry on Friday said it would install lasers on warships designed to cheaply shoot down drones from 2027, five years earlier than previously expected, under reforms designed to speed up the deployment of new technology. – Reuters

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal came to Israel’s defense during a parliamentary session on Wednesday, resoundingly condemning the Hamas terror group and its supporters when asked if Paris would consider banning arms exports to Israel in light of the war in Gaza. – Times of Israel

Joseph C. Sternberg writes: Berlin has work to do. But German allies can take heart. Startlingly, no mainstream politician or party in Germany now seems to think that spending less on defense is the way to resolve this looming fiscal debate. That really is a turning point for Germany, and for Europe. – Wall Street Journal

Africa

Malian political parties and civil society groups jointly rejected on Thursday the ruling junta’s order to suspend political activities and vowed to mount a legal challenge to what one opposition politician called the “dictatorial” move. – Reuters 

Kenya has proposed a regional maritime treaty to defuse tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia over a deal allowing Ethiopia to set up a naval base and giving it port access in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, a top Kenyan official said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Military instructors and personnel from Russia’s defence ministry arrived in Niger on Wednesday, Niger state television RTN said, in a further sign the West African country is building closer relations with Moscow like its junta-led neighbours. – Reuters 

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced a bill to renew the U.S. trade pact with sub-Saharan Africa ahead of its expiration next year, an aide to one of the senators said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Josep Borrell and Janez Lenarcic writes: This is why we are tirelessly calling for a ceasefire without delay, unfettered access of aid and the return to the path of a democratic transition in the beleaguered country. We always favor African solutions to African problems. As Sudan enters the second year of its most fateful war, we look to the region to take responsibility. Alongside our regional and international partners, we stand ready to help Sudan in its darkest hour. – Jerusalem Post

The Americas

President Javier Milei of Argentina kicked off a visit Wednesday to the United States, where he’ll meet with tech billionaire Elon Musk, as his government seeks an infusion of cash to overhaul Argentina’s embattled economy. – Associated Press

U.S. lawmakers on Thursday called for the country to take further action to stop the flow of firearms to Haiti and to halt the forced return of migrants seeking to flee worsening street violence and shortages of essential supplies. – Reuters

Geoff Ramsey and Caleb McCarry write: Unless it is accompanied by some form of engagement and negotiation, pressure alone will not lead to change in Caracas. As Carlos Trujillo, the former ambassador to the Organization of American States under Trump, said in a recent interview: “I don’t think sanctions in and of themselves will drive a unique outcome. I think they are part of a solution, just like negotiations have to be part of the solution.” – Foreign Policy

Latin America

Mexico’s president said Thursday his country wants the United Nations to suspend Ecuador from the world body as part of a complaint to the top U.N. court over Ecuador’s police raid last week on the Mexican embass y in Quito. – Associated Press

A photographer slain in a drive-by shooting. An 80-year-old patient executed in a hospital surgery room. A couple decapitated as they closed their small store for the day. A new report released by a Haitian human rights group details the horrific violence unleashed this year by gangs who kill, rape and maim with impunity amid a political vacuum. – Associated Press

Argentina’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by 10 points to 70%, the monetary authority said on Thursday, the third adjustment since libertarian President Javier Milei took office in December and targeted tamping down rampant inflation. – Reuters

Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels said on Thursday they are suspending participation in the coming cycle of peace talks with the government, planned for this month, but will attend an extraordinary meeting scheduled for Friday. – Reuters

United States

Large U.S. airlines and some of their unions are asking the Biden administration to stop approving any more flights between the United States and China because of what they call “anti-competitive” policies that China imposes on U.S. carriers. – Associated Press

As U.S. President Joe Biden hosts the leaders of Japan and the Philippines for the countries’ first-ever trilateral summit in Washington this week, his top diplomat is preparing to go to Italy for a G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting next week. Despite being thousands of miles apart with vastly different agendas, the two meetings are both part of what has become a defining feature of the Biden foreign-policy doctrine: minilateralism. – Foreign Policy

Byron York writes: Of course, the first two examples are actual election results, while at this point in the 2024 race we’re relying on polls that might not be accurate and, in any event, might change before the election. But there have been many, many surveys suggesting movement of Latino voters away from Biden and toward Trump. Shifting Latino views on border security is part of that, but remember that the top issue for Latino voters, as it is for everyone else, is the economy. Put it all together, and the outlook at the moment does not look good for the president’s reelection. – Washington Examiner

Alex Zerden and Leland Smith write: To fully realize an economic statecraft doctrine, policymakers should also integrate a framework around positive economic tools that incentivize desired economic behaviors to achieve foreign policy outcomes. […]A combined economic statecraft doctrine with adequate resources will prepare the national security bureaucracy for current and emerging threats. America has unrivaled economic tools at its disposal. It should be able to wield them forcefully and nimbly in pursuit of its foreign policy objectives. – War On the Rocks

Cybersecurity

Dutch-headquartered chipmaker Nexperia was victim of a hacking attack by cyber criminals last month, the Chinese-owned company said on Friday, and was investigating the incident with the help of outside specialists. – Reuters

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Thursday confirmed previous reports that Russia-linked hackers tapped into correspondence between federal agencies and Microsoft. – The Hill 

Five municipalities near the river Loire on the west coast of France have been hit by a “large-scale cyberattack” on their shared computer servers, leaving staff without the ability to access documents or get on with their work. – The Record

Defense

The U.S. is inviting Japan to be a potential partner on part of the trilateral AUKUS pact that aims to deepen top-secret technology sharing and joint development on advanced defense capabilities. – Defense News

The U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is recompeting its Training Aids, Devices, Simulators and Simulations (TADSS) operations and maintenance contract and expanding its scope to include enterprise training-related services for live, virtual, constructive capabilities under a new program called Warfighter Training and Readiness Solutions (W-TRS). – Breaking Defense

After national security concerns spurred an American power company to disconnect Chinese-manufactured batteries from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, last year, the Department of the Navy said it has taken a “proactive approach” to procure American or allied-supplied batteries for its installations, according to a letter from the service obtained by Military.com. – Military.com

Long War

The FBI is concerned about the possibility of an organized attack in the United States similar to the one that killed scores of people at a Russian concert hall last month, the bureau’s director told a House of Representatives panel on Thursday. – Reuters

Argentina’s highest criminal court reported a new development Thursday in the elusive quest for justice in the country’s deadliest attack in history — the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center headquarters — concluding Iran had planned the attack and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group had executed the plans. – Associated Press

Russian special forces killed two people suspected of plotting terror attacks in a shootout in the country’s south on Thursday, the National Antiterror Committee said. – Associated Press

A stash of weapons was found hidden under a pine tree in southern Bulgaria last week. The arms were linked to four suspected Hamas members arrested in Germany and the Netherlands in December on suspicion of preparing an attack against Jewish targets in Europe, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel. – Times of Israel