Fdd's overnight brief

April 13, 2022

In The News


Russian President Vladimir Putin said peace talks with Kyiv had reached a dead end, as Moscow’s forces on Tuesday bombarded Ukrainian military positions and residential areas in the country’s east and unleashed new rocket attacks. – Wall Street Journal  

President Biden on Tuesday referred to Russia as committing a “genocide” in Ukraine, a significant escalation of the president’s rhetoric and a notable shift that comes as U.S. officials have avoided using the term, which suggests an effort to wipe out all or part of a specific group. – Washington Post 

The Biden administration is poised to dramatically expand the scope of weapons it is providing Ukraine, U.S. officials said Tuesday, with the Pentagon looking to transfer armored Humvees and a range of other sophisticated equipment. – Washington Post 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called the war in Ukraine a “tragedy” but insisted the invasion will continue unabated, as the United States and its allies launched investigations into reports of a possible chemical attack ahead of an imminent Russian offensive in the country’s east. – Washington Post 

Searching for evidence in the killings of hundreds of people by Russian troops here, Ukrainian prosecutor Ruslan Kravchenko unlocked the double doors leading to a boiler room on the south side of town. The space had been used as an office by the occupying forces. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States and its allies are pushing ahead with sanctions aimed at forcing Vladimir Putin to spend Russia’s money propping up its economy rather than sustaining its “war machine” for the fight in Ukraine, a top Treasury Department official said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Ukraine’s security services on Tuesday said they had arrested pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who is President Vladimir Putin’s closest and most influential ally in Ukraine. – Reuters 

The United States is not in position to confirm reports of the use of chemical weapons in Ukraine but was working to determine what actually happened, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday. – Reuters  

Experts, comparing the situation to Putin’s devastation in Syria that resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths, say the Russian president may feel emboldened to use such tactics in Ukraine if he believes severe punishments would once again not follow. – The Hill 

Former President Barack Obama said in a new interview that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is evidence that Putin has grown increasingly “reckless” in the years since the pair of leaders last squared off on the world stage. – Politico 

Alleged and unconfirmed claims of chemical weapons use by Russia in Ukraine has forced a scramble inside the White House to match President Joe Biden’s promise of an “in kind” response while avoiding further escalation of the conflict. – Politico 

Editorial: Mr. Kara-Murza has often displayed the courage necessary to keep dreams alive for an opposition movement that Mr. Putin has mercilessly hounded. Many had gone into exile, but Mr. Kara-Murza stood his ground, despite the risks. In his columns for The Post and in public appearances, he spoke out fearlessly. He must be released, and given liberty to go on telling the truth: The war is wrong, speech must run free, and Russians must fight the deepening totalitarianism. – Washington Post 

Editorial: Inflation is a powerful political force because it can’t be explained away. Nearly every voter feels it every day. If the November elections are a referendum on the cost of living, voters won’t blame the Kremlin. They’ll blame the party in power in Washington. – Wall Street Journal  

John Barrasso writes: Europe has been rightly criticized for getting hooked on Russian energy. Now America must free itself from Russian uranium. I have introduced legislation to do this. Our nuclear supply chain should begin with American-mined uranium and end with American fuel. It is time to put Mr. Putin’s nuclear cash cow out to pasture. – Wall Street Journal  

Sean McFate writes: The Wagner Group is part of a wider and worrying trend in international relations. The number of mercenary operations seems to be increasing and it’s because hired guns allow clients to wage war brutally with minimal political costs. Every time mercenaries get away with something—from assassinating the president of Haiti to springing billionaires from jail—it serves as an advertisement to future clients. Should this trend continue, we should expect more massacres and torture. The sort of violence perpetrated in Bucha may become a common facet of modern war. – Wall Street Journal 

Bret Stephens writes: Plan for a long war. Make sure we can provision Ukraine with the weapons it needs for at least a year. Begin to train Ukrainian forces in advanced Western combat systems. Prepare to wall off Russia from the global economy for a decade. We may not be able to stop Putin from using chemical weapons, but we can still avoid the fatal mistake we made a decade ago with al-Assad. – New York Times 

Conrad Black writes: The outline of a solution is clear, and Jake Sullivan hinted at it. He and Messrs. Biden, Milley, and Blinken and the Pentagon and NATO should concert on the same song sheet and stick to it. To borrow, as is now fashionable, from Mr. Churchill, “Give them [Ukraine] the tools and they will finish the job.” – New York Sun 

Daniel Treisman writes: By attacking the postwar international order and changing his strategy of control at home, Putin has gambled with his own future. Initiating a war that does not go according to plan is a classic mistake that has undermined many authoritarian regimes in the past. The brazenness of Putin’s lie—sending forces to attack Kyiv while claiming that they were rescuing genocide victims in the Donbas—could also blow up in his face. – Foreign Affairs  

Mark F. Cancian writes: The Russians have lost about 40,000 troops, a quarter of their initial combat force, with especially high casualties in their elite units. Reinforcements and replacements can restore some of the numbers, but skills are deteriorating and morale, never high, seems to be declining. So, it is a race. Will Russian combat losses produce a battlefield stalemate before Ukraine runs out of its most effective anti-tank weapons? – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Iran’s supreme leader on Tuesday insisted negotiations over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal “are going ahead properly,” even after repeated comments by American officials that an agreement to restore the accord may not happen. – Associated Press 

Iran’s supreme leader said on Tuesday that his country’s future should not be tied to the success or collapse of nuclear talks with world powers, Iranian state media reported, adding that the negotiations to revive a 2015 nuclear deal “are progressing well”. – Reuters 

Even amid suspicions that Iranian terrorists are planning assassinations in America, the Biden administration is seeking ways to legitimize the Islamic Republic’s top terrorism command. – New York Sun 

Iranian authorities on Tuesday sent leading rights defender Narges Mohammadi and photojournalist Alieh Motalebzadeh back to prison after briefly allowing them out for medical reasons, family and activists said. – Agence France-Presse 

Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Iran of deliberately denying life-saving medical care to prisoners, saying it had confirmed 96 cases since 2010 of detainees dying after a lack of treatment. – Agence France-Presse 

The best strategy for preventing a nuclear-armed Iran is “serious deterrence,” Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog said in a Monday virtual event with The Washington Post that also touched on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and Israel’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Jewish Insider 

A top Iranian nuclear scientist falsely claimed that Israel has threatened to use a nuclear weapon against Iran and that Iran’s nuclear program is essential to establish deterrence and force the world to accede to its demands. – Algemeiner 

More than 500 Iranian American scientists, scholars and industry executives are urging the White House not to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the U.S. foreign terrorism list, Tehran‘s key demand for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. – Washington Times 

Iran’s fleet of “ghost ships” has ferried at least $22 billion worth of illicit oil to China since 2021, providing the hardline regime with a major source of revenue and raising questions about the Biden administration’s lax enforcement of sanctions. – The Washington Free Beacon 

Todd Young writes: If the president wants to truly prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and win bipartisan support, he should leverage, not lift, sanctions and tie any agreement to ending Tehran’s exportation of terrorism and violence around the globe. The President should then submit that agreement to the Congress as a treaty for ratification. Short of that, this is a dangerous deal America should not make and a future Republican administration must immediately reverse any agreement that falls short. – FOX News 

Amir Avivi writes: The way to foil Iran’s attempt to destroy Israel is through a credible military threat and crippling maximum pressure, not containment and appeasement. Rejoining the JCPOA will accomplish the polar opposite of its objective, fueling the Iranian terror machine with cash and deteriorating the region into a certain war in the short term. If there is one lesson that Israel can draw from experience, it’s that looking the other way does not make the problem go away. – Jewish News Syndicate 

Ghazal Vaisi writes: Khamenei and Salami’s tone suggests that Iran’s future foreign policy will be more of the same. If Khamenei, the IRGC, and their associated militias continue to undermine their own Foreign Ministry’s efforts to improve relations with neighboring nations, Iran will remain isolated and surrounded by enemies. Ironically, Iran’s strong-man foreign policy will fuel the alliance between the regional rivals that most threatens its security. – Middle East Institute  


Iran summoned the Afghan envoy to Tehran on Tuesday, Iranian state TV reported, a day after protesters threw rocks at Iranian diplomatic missions in Kabul and Herat over what they called “mistreatment of Afghan refugees” in the Islamic Republic. – Reuters 

Military personnel and families, some affected by decades-old terrorist attacks, say Congress should open up a pool of confiscated Taliban funds to compensate victims of terrorism and not just those affected by the 9/11 attacks. – Newsweek 

An official report released by the State Department on Tuesday acknowledged a steep drop in human rights progress in Afghanistan following the United States’ withdrawal last August. – Politico 


As Europe aims to wean itself off Russian fossil fuel because of the Ukraine invasion, Israel hopes to help fill the gap with gas from its offshore reserves. […]Israel could build one or more pipelines, potentially via Greece or Turkey, or increase the quantity of gas piped to Egypt to be liquified and shipped off, say officials and experts. – Agence France-Presse 

The Palestinian Authority is facing widespread criticism from its populace for failing to order its security forces to engage IDF soldiers who enter Palestinian cities, as part of Israel’s security crackdown in response to the recent wave of terrorist attacks. – Jerusalem Post 

A police officer was lightly wounded early Tuesday morning after being stabbed by an Arab suspect in an apparent terror attack during an operational activity in Ashkelon. – Arutz Sheva 

The terror wave in Israel continues, even though city centers have seen a lull since the latest attack on Thursday, in Tel Aviv. The army is still very busy in the Jenin area of the West Bank, coming into contact with armed Palestinians. Attempted terrorist attacks on the other side of the Green Line happen every day. – Haaretz 

Irit Tratt writes: Similarly, as US Jewish groups underestimate the enormity of resuscitating the JCPOA, the insertion of catastrophic compromises can slip under the Jewish community’s radar. The perpetuation of American Jewry relies upon a solid attachment to Israel. An institutional indifference to the Iran nuclear deal imperils the health of US Jewry’s connection to the Jewish homeland, while also paving the way for an agreement that places millions of Jews in the nuclear crosshairs of a terrorist regime. – Jerusalem Post 

Anna Ahronheim writes: But confidence-building measures don’t work for terrorist groups, and for young men who see violence and confronting IDF troops as their raison d’être. Usually reserved for terrorists in the Gaza Strip, the military can “mow the lawn” in Jenin and neutralize the terrorists before they leave their home bases. However, that only lasts for so long, and can without a doubt push PIJ and Hamas to follow through with their threats. The IDF needs to get the situation in Jenin under control, and without bringing Gaza into the conflict. This country does not need more rockets. – Jerusalem Post 

Eid H. J. Mustafa and David A. Frank write: The Fatah movement remains strong. Palestinians have a deep and passionate desire for a healthy and functioning democracy. In the view of many Palestinians, the Fatah party leadership betrays the Fatah movement because it does not represent the values and preferred policies of the movement. […]The Fatah party leadership will sustain its 17-year losing streak unless it is replaced by leaders who are in concert with the values of the Fatah movement. – Jerusalem Post 

Arabian Peninsula

The leaders of the House foreign affairs and intelligence committees and more than 20 other Democrats plan to press the Biden administration to take a tougher stance on Saudi Arabia, citing Riyadh’s refusal to cooperate with Washington over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a range of human-rights issues. – Wall Street Journal 

A decision driven by Saudi Arabia that OPEC+ should stop using oil data from the West’s energy watchdog reflected concern about U.S. influence on the figures, sources close to the matter said, adding to strain on ties between Riyadh and Washington. – Reuters  

A skit about U.S. leadership that aired in Saudi media indicates a larger rift between what were most recently stronger allies, former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove said Tuesday. – Fox News 

Neville Teller writes: What Yemen needs are elections, an inclusive government and a new structure for the state. UN Resolution 2216 aims to establish democracy in a federally united Yemen. The Houthis must be given the opportunity to choose. Do they wish to remain an outlawed militia permanently or would they prefer to become a legitimate political party, able to contest parliamentary and presidential elections and participate in government? The price would be serious engagement in negotiations aimed at a peaceful transition to a political solution for a united Yemen. – Jerusalem Post  

Middle East & North Africa

At least one person was killed and seven were injured in a fire and explosion near a scout center affiliated with the Shi’ite, Hezbollah-allied Amal Movement in Bnaafoul near Sidon in southern Lebanon on Monday night, according to Lebanese media. – Jerusalem Post 

The EU aims to address rising wheat and fertilizer prices and expected shortages in the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East with “food diplomacy” to counter Russia’s narrative on the impact of its Ukraine invasion, EU diplomats and officials say. – Reuters 

Turkish authorities have detained 46 people, including former local officials from a pro-Kurdish political party, who are suspected of having financial links to Kurdish militants, the state-run news agency reported on Tuesday. – Associated Press 

A senior Turkish diplomat said in an article published on Tuesday that his country, just like Israel, is threatened by Iran and its nuclear ambitions. – Ynet 

Korean Peninsula

A U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has been sent to the waters between South Korea and Japan this week, a display of American naval firepower amid growing tensions over North Korea’s missile tests. – Wall Street Journal  

A cryptocurrency expert who gave a presentation in North Korea on how to use blockchain technology to evade U.S. sanctions was sentenced to 63 months in prison Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal 

North Korea is destroying a South Korean-owned golf course at a scenic mountain resort in the second confirmed case of South Korean assets being eliminated in an area where the rivals once ran a joint tour program, officials said Tuesday in Seoul. – Associated Press 


When a former Xinjiang detainee and his family stepped off the plane at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., where U.S. officials were waiting to greet them, it marked the exultant end to a long—and rare—escape from the most tightly controlled region in China. – Wall Street Journal  

China and Russia continue to develop and deploy weapons that can attack U.S. satellites even as they increase their own fleets of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance space vehicles, according to the Pentagon’s intelligence agency. – Bloomberg 

NATO’s attempt to draw China away from Russia’s orbit has failed. The West’s warnings against siding with Moscow have not only fallen on deaf ears, they have also led to an almighty backlash out of Beijing. – Newsweek 

China is doubling down on its portrayal of the United States as the main cause of the war in Ukraine, with its most prominent newspaper criticizing the West in general and America in particular for attempting to make Beijing pick a side. – Newsweek 

Sergey Radchenko and M.E. Sarotte write: Instead of being dragged along by Russia, China should use the leverage that it has with Putin to persuade him to desist. As the Imperial German experience suggests, there is no greater folly for a world power than to cater to the whims of a trigger-happy neighbor. It is Putin, not Biden, who has tied a bell to the tiger’s neck. If Xi knows what is best for China, he will help untie it. – Foreign Affairs 

Matthew Continetti writes: What proof is there that Xi Jinping and Ayatollah Khamenei are any less committed to their diabolical ideologies than Vladimir Putin is? Why should we be less worried about a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or an Iranian attack on Israel than about Putin’s designs in Ukraine? When strongmen tell you they are about to sow chaos, don’t close your ears. – Commentary Magazine  

Koichiro Takagi writes: China’s intelligentized warfare is a far cry from the information age wars that have been waged in the past and is not simply the use of AI or unmanned weapons systems in warfare. Its feasibility is unknown and may have been overestimated, out of political necessity. But with its goals of influencing human cognition directly and controlling the enemy’s will, it is a revolutionary idea. – War on the Rocks 

South Asia

For much of his life, Shehbaz Sharif has waited for this moment, for years playing the role of loyal deputy to his older brother, Nawaz Sharif. Now that it is his turn to be prime minister, he faces hurdles that will likely make his term rocky, including an economic tailspin, tricky relations with the country’s military and a potent challenge from former leader Imran Khan. – Wall Street Journal 

Sri Lanka’s central bank said on Tuesday it had become “challenging and impossible” to repay external debt, as it tries to use its dwindling foreign exchange reserves to import essentials like fuel. – Reuters 

President Joe Biden asked India’s Narendra Modi on Monday not to accelerate the buying of Russian oil as the U.S. and other nations try to cut off Moscow’s energy income following the invasion of Ukraine. The Indian prime minister made no public commitment to refrain from Russian oil, a source of tension with the U.S. – Associated Press 

Militants from a banned Pakistani group claimed responsibility for an attack that killed five police officers and wounded four others in a northwestern region. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Following 9/11, when jihadi groups in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region attracted global attention, the Pakistani military-backed jihadi organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) came under international scrutiny. However, the Pakistani government, unable to act against the military-aided jihadi organizations, continued to turn a blind eye to LeT. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Khan has signalled he will not go quietly, insisting he was the victim of a US-led conspiracy to oust him. Though his sympathies for Vladimir Putin — who he visited on the day Russia invaded Ukraine — and defence of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan have not played well in Washington, Khan has produced no convincing evidence of a US plot. […]Some are none too happy at the return of dynastic politics and the prospect of Sharif — who has faced corruption accusations in the past — as premier. Khan’s prime ministerial innings, for now, is over; Pakistan’s political upheavals are not. – Financial Times 

Hamid Mir writes: Khan is not gone for good, of course. If anyone doubted it before, this episode shows that he’ll go to just about any lengths to hold on to power. He tried every trick in the book to keep himself in office, but it turned out that he had alienated too many key players (including many members of his own party). […]And when the supreme court refused to play along, essentially forcing him to go, he ordered more than 120 members of his party not just to act as the opposition in Parliament but to resign from it altogether — a shameless act of contempt for democratic procedure. – Washington Post 

Hartosh Singh Bal writes: For the BJP, this disempowerment is both an ends and a means. The whole project of a Hindu nation has little meaning if it is not juxtaposed against an Islamic threat from within. Ironically, this means that even as the BJP seeks to reach out to the Dalits—the former untouchables—and bring them within the fold of Hinduism, it is succeeding in creating a new set of untouchables: the Muslims of India. – Foreign Affairs 

Michael Rubin writes: It is time for a new approach. First, revoke Pakistan’s major non-NATO ally status. Second, both designate Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency as a foreign terrorist organization and the country itself as a state sponsor of terrorism. Pakistani Ambassador Masood Khan should be declared persona non grata and given 48 hours to leave the country. The State Department should close its consulates in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. – Washington Examiner 

Touqir Hussain writes: The bottom line is that if Khan had found a private diplomatic communication to contain an implied threat, it would have called for a strong démarche to Washington. But he was wrong to go public and claim it was proof of a conspiracy to remove him without showing the evidence, which of course could not be shown. – The National Interest 

Vasabjit Banerjee and Benjamin Tkach write: Whether India chooses to pursue indigenous production, continue with Russian imports, or seek alternative external suppliers will reflect the broader course of its foreign policy. Given that India has long sought strategic autonomy and flexibility, it will likely prefer hedging and self-sufficiency rather than moving from dependence on one external supplier to dependence on another. Therefore, we expect India to pursue a mixed strategy in the short run: relying on Russia for critical systems where necessary while also working to diversify and find alternative suppliers. – War on the Rocks 


The Japanese government will work toward realising a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and families of those abducted by North Korea during his planned Japan visit, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Wednesday. – Reuters  

The conflict in Ukraine shows now is the time to shift to clean and independent energy, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said at a conference on the pacific island of Palau as he urged nations to boost the use of offshore renewable power sources. – Reuters 

An Australian government minister arrived in the Solomon Islands on Wednesday for talks on a proposed security agreement between the Pacific islands nation and China that Australia opposes. – Reuters 

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have agreed to pull back some forces from their shared frontier after border guards from the two central Asian states exchanged fire twice on Tuesday, the latest in a series of clashes, Interfax news agency said. – Reuters 

Taiwan’s military published a handbook on Tuesday advising civilians on how to prepare for a potential Chinese invasion, including where to find bomb shelters and how to stockpile emergency supplies. – Agence France-Presse 

Weifeng Zhong writes: Speaking of intelligence, the U.S. and NATO have been cooperating with Ukraine since the annexation of Crimea. If Washington and Taipei have any significant intelligence cooperation, it’s been kept airtight from the world — and that would be the best-case scenario. In a worse scenario, the two countries have not built the groundwork or the trust to share sensitive information about Chinese aggression. That will eventually backfire. – Washington Examiner 

Joseph Bosco writes: China should be told that it can expect an attack on Taiwan to be effectively repelled and to result in immediate Western recognition of Taiwan’s independence. The time for subtlety, nuance and ambiguity is over. – The Hill 

Stephen Jones writes: But paradoxically, the horrible events in Ukraine have the potential to fortify security for small states like Georgia on Russia’s borders. In Georgia’s case, this will require at least three things: a firmer commitment from EU and NATO states to Georgian security; democratic consolidation at home; and most important of all, a Russian defeat. Russia cannot be allowed to claim a win; if it does, insecurity for small states like Georgia (and small states elsewhere in the world), will persist. – The National Interest 


Chancellor Olaf Scholz surprised the world, and his own country, when he responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a 100-billion-euro plan to arm Germany, send weapons to Ukraine and end his nation’s deep dependence on Russian energy. – New York Times 

With no sign of an early end to the war in Ukraine, the risk is growing that the conflict will tip a fragile global economy into a slump. In its first seven weeks, the war has already triggered massive Ukrainian refugee flows, boosted inflation by driving up prices on food and oil, and dented prospects for European growth. – Washington Post 

Pressure was mounting on Germany to up its game over the war in Ukraine on Tuesday as Kyiv snubbed the country’s president and Chancellor Olaf Scholz was accused of a weak response to the crisis. – Agence France-Presse 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday mocked Moscow’s insistence that the war against his nation was going well, asking how President Vladimir Putin could have approved a plan that involved so many Russians dying. – Reuters 

The Pentagon will host leaders from the top eight U.S. weapons manufacturers on Wednesday to discuss the industry’s capacity to meet Ukraine’s weapons needs if the war with Russia lasts years, two people familiar with the meeting said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Poland has arrested a Russian citizen and charged him with espionage, a spokesperson for the Polish Minister Coordinator of Special Services said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Russia will launch a lunar probe later this year and deepen cooperation with Belarus on space infrastructure and technology, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

There was a moment of relief for policymakers across the EU and Nato when President Emmanuel Macron won the most votes in the first round of the French election against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. – Financial Times 

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej became the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Kosovo, landing in the capital city of Pristina on Sunday, at the invitation of Kosovo’s government. – Jerusalem Post 

Michael Gerson writes: The lesson? Ukraine, with aggressive help from NATO, must defeat Russian forces, or the United States might soon face the question: Do we really fight for Lithuania? Though we are obligated, the decision and task would not be easy. Helping draw a NATO redline at Ukraine could help the United States preserve itself from impossible choices of the future. – Washington Post 

Siamak Tundra Naficy writes: Samuel Huntington had it the wrong way around. It’s not a conflict of belief between cultures or “civilizations” that leads to war; it is war that refashions our ideas of self, community, and belief. In this way, Putin may find that now, even more than Lenin, his legacy will be of the man who helped make Ukraine. – War on the Rocks   

Jack Watling writes: The provision of military equipment to Ukraine should first and foremost be driven by solving practical problems. In NATO doctrine there is a growing emphasis on the deep battle, shaping the next fight and the fight beyond, to ensure success in the close. In Ukraine, the provision of tactical training by the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada to Ukrainian units has proven its worth. But the provision of lethal aid was left too late, exacerbating the problems that Ukraine faced in the close fight. – War on the Rocks 


A Malian army helicopter fired several rockets “close to” British members of a UN peacekeeping force in the country, the UK defence ministry and UN said Tuesday in the first such incident of its nature. – Agence France-Presse  

U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa David Satterfield will step down from his role before summer, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, after less than six months on the job and at a time of persistent political turmoil in the region. – Reuters 

Algeria condemned on Tuesday what it called an attack by Morocco against a convoy of trucks in the border area between Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara, saying it will jeopardize United Nations attempts to ease regional tensions. – Reuters 

The Americas

Respect for human rights and democratic norms eroded around the world in 2021, as repressive states increasingly detained opponents and struck out beyond their borders at those seen posing a threat, the Biden administration said on Tuesday. – Washington Post 

Mexican drug cartels appear to be shipping high-powered weapons to Colombia to purchase shipments of cocaine, a trade Colombian authorities say is fueling the deadly struggle between rival traffickers for control of the nation’s drug routes. – Reuters 

One of the busiest trade ports on the U.S.-Mexico border remained closed Tuesday as frustration and traffic snarls mounted over new orders by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requiring extra inspections of commercial trucks as part of the Republican’s sprawling border security operation. – Associated Press 

Mac Margolis writes: “What’s clear is that while Peru will still grow, it may not develop,” said Nicolás Saldías, Andean analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit. The fallout has spilled beyond the corner offices in Lima. The government’s own statistics bureau reported in December that nearly a third of the country doesn’t get enough to eat, while 39 percent go hungry in metropolitan Lima. That’s a red flag for even the most charmed of Latin America’s leaders, who know how quickly yesterday’s swoon can become tomorrow’s rant. – Washington Post 


Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday that they had thwarted a Russian cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid that could have knocked out power to two million people, raising fears that Moscow will increase its use of digital weapons in a country already pummeled by war. – New York Times 

As Russia rains artillery fire down on Ukrainian cities, cyber attackers from around the world have been targeting Russian media, cryptocurrency services, and retail brands with denial of service attacks. A group of Russian scientists say that they’ve developed a new tool to block such attacks—but even that is an indication that severe economic sanctions are changing life in Russia. – Defense One 

Klon Kitchen writes: In summary, it would be a mistake to conclude that the conflict in Ukraine undermines the notion that cyber operations are a critical part of modern warfare that pose a serious threat to international peace. In fact, other global challengers like China are likely observing Russia’s failures and concluding that the lack of decisive digital attacks has been a key variable in Moscow’s losses. – The National Interest 


In March 1922, the US Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley, entered service. A century later, some are questioning whether carriers can survive in the wars of the future. The development of increasingly sophisticated anti-ship weapons by capable adversaries, namely Russia and China, has raised doubts about those ships. – Business Insider 

A quartet of logistics drones capable of carrying up to 50-pound payloads will embark on a U.S. aircraft carrier later this year to see if the unmanned aerial vehicles are practical at sea. – USNI News 

The Navy has in recent years been plagued by a series of high-profile shipbuilding problems that have delayed construction, sent costs skyrocketing and impacted quality and performance across platforms. Although the sea service has an oversight tool within major private shipbuilding yards that could help improve things, it remains hindered, according to a Government Accountability Office report released this week. – Defense News 

Long War

During the only U.S. trial for a member of the infamous terror cell named after the British rock group, Motka and other hostages have offered searing testimony about their captivity. El Shafee Elsheikh is charged in the kidnapping and deaths of four Americans — the journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff as well as the aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. He has pleaded not guilty, and a jury is soon to weigh his fate. – Washington Post 

A key intelligence database used by police to investigate extremists was “not fit for purpose” when introduced in 2014, a former counter-terrorism officer has told the BBC. – BBC 

A former Islamic State group member turned cooperating witness has told a US court that an ex-jihadist on federal trial was clearly “more important” than other fighters. – BBC