Fdd's overnight brief

April 14, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran and Nicaragua held discussions in February about bolstering their military cooperation as a way of countering American influence in Latin America, according to an intelligence update contained in a cache of leaked documents that appears to be based on electronic intercepts gathered by the C.I.A. – New York Times

An Iranian academic group says more than 400 students have been suspended or expelled in the wake of recent nationwide protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last September while being held for allegedly violating the strict Islamic dress code for women. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Thousands of Iranian workers have signed a protest letter sent to President Ebrahim Raisi against an increase that would see the minimum wage rise by only about half of the current inflation rate. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Nujaba is a group backed by Iran. Along with other pro-Iranian Shi’ite militias it is part of Iran’s network of forces in the region. Iraqi-based militias have threatened Israel in the past. An Iraqi leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group visited Lebanon in 2017 and threatened Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

A rare rocket attack from Lebanon last week gave Israel a glimpse into the military capabilities of the Lebanese branch of Hamas. The rockets fired at northern Israel — apparently by a wing of the Palestinian Hamas terror group — appear to be Iranian in origin and may have been supplied by Iran or its proxy Hezbollah, according to experts. – Times of Israel 

Senior Israeli intelligence analysts have spoken about the in-depth research its dedicated units are doing in assessing the threat from Iran. – Iran International 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The coastlines of these areas add up to a large arc of Iranian influence. Recent moves by Iran in Iraq and Syria point to Iran shifting focus to those countries, and away from the Houthis in Yemen. The naval parade shows off a power Iran generally lacks, which means it does not generally have a very large navy, and neither do its proxies or allies. – Jerusalem Post 

David M. Weinberg writes: Overall, Iran is strengthening its ties with Russia and China, toning down its conflict with Saudi Arabia and warming its relations with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Armenia as part of a unified front against what it calls the Great Satan, America and the Small Satan, Israel. – Jerusalem Post 

Russia & Ukraine

A senior Ukrainian official played down the seriousness of the online leak of classified U.S. intelligence documents, saying they would have no impact on a critical Ukrainian offensive planned for the coming weeks. – Wall Street Journal

Russia could consider the possibility of a prisoner exchange for jailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich only after a Russian court renders a verdict on an espionage allegation against the 31-year-old American, according to a senior Russian official. – Wall Street Journal

Russia pressed attacks along the front line in eastern Ukraine on Thursday as European leaders voiced outrage over a video that appears to show Russian forces beheading a captured Ukrainian soldier. – Wall Street Journal   

As with Mr. Gershkovich’s arrest, Mr. Daniloff’s seizure sparked an international incident, pitting Moscow against Washington at a time of heightened tension between the two. Mr. Daniloff, who fell into a trap set by the KGB, was eventually released in a prisoner exchange, a route the U.S. has used to secure the release of others detained in Russia. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s Federal Security Service on Thursday accused a 35-year-old Ukrainian man of playing a central role in the bombing attack in St. Petersburg this month that killed a Russian nationalist military blogger, and said the assassination had been carried out on the orders of the Ukrainian security services. – Washington Post 

Senior officials from the United States, Europe and Britain met on Thursday with financial institutions to brief them on efforts by Russia to evade Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine, a senior U.S. Treasury official told reporters. – Reuters 

NATO should play a bigger role in security in the Black Sea, and integrate Ukraine’s air and missile defences with those of alliance members, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Ukraine’s foreign minister said Thursday his country won’t budge from its demand that Russia withdraw its forces from Crimea, as well as from other parts of Ukraine that Moscow illegally annexed more recently, for the war to end. – Associated Press

The Group of 20 finance chiefs skipped issuing an agreed-upon statement from their meeting this week in Washington, extending the discord created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

More than half of American voters surveyed in a Newsweek poll said they want Ukraine to join NATO—a controversial issue with colossal implications that’s still lingering following Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country. – Newsweek 

Blockading Crimea from Russian aggression rather than Ukrainians attempting to overtake the territory is a better option as both countries are likely on the verge of launching new offensives, according to a former U.S. diplomat. – Newsweek 

As its Black Sea fleet flagship, the Moskva, reached the depths of the seabed in mid-April 2022, Russia insisted Ukraine had nothing to do with the sinking of the 510-crew guided missile cruiser. – Newsweek 

Russian-installed authorities in Crimea are recruiting “evacuees” from the occupied territories of Ukraine to bolster defense in the Black Sea peninsula ahead of an anticipated spring counteroffensive by Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. – Newsweek 

Peggy Noonan writes: But let me add something. It isn’t clear to whom—if anyone—Mr. Putin listens; it’s probably not those who immediately protested his action. But there is one group he might hear: those in Western journalism and politics who have, the past year, shown sympathy for Mr. Putin’s position, or who have made arguments he has agreed with, or who have expressed public skepticism about the Western response in Ukraine. They might have some pull here. – Wall Street Journal

Maksym Skrypchenko writes: That Mr. Putin has given his seal of approval to the document raises concerns about the future trajectory of international politics and the potential for increased tensions. Moscow is signaling a deeply concerning shift in Russia’s foreign policy, revealing a resurgence of Soviet ideologies and a confrontational stance toward the West. – Wall Street Journal

Mihir Sharma writes: But its friends in the West can afford to keep Ukraine solvent. They should help directly and transparently, instead of subverting global institutions. That would be better in the long run for Ukraine than adding to its already huge debt burden. And if the price seems steep to Western governments, they should remember the costs of breaking an 80-year covenant will be far, far higher. – Bloomberg 

Mark Morozowich writes: Christians across America and particularly on Capitol Hill should unite behind Ukraine and implore Russia to end the war. The persecution continues in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, including the arrest of two Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests who have not been heard from since. This cannot continue. Right now, we need to stand with the freedom fighters of Ukraine — to support our brothers and sisters who want the basic freedoms of speech and, most importantly, the freedom of religion. – Washington Examiner 

James Taylor writes: The end result of Biden’s move is that oil prices remain extremely high, the U.S. has less oil in its emergency reserves, and Russia is laughing all the way to the bank while selling oil at higher prices.Biden can talk tough about Russia all he wants, but his energy policy is one of the single greatest factors empowering the Russian war machine to take Ukrainian lives. – Washington Examiner 

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: Belarus and Russia still maintain a joint military group in Belarus, defending against an alleged terrorist threat from Ukraine and the West. […]Together with tactical nuclear weapons, and the aircraft and missile systems required to deliver  them, the pieces on the chess board may be in place for a regime change in Russia. It’s a reality Lukashenko will have to embrace soon, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his generals prepare to launch their counteroffensive. – The Hill  

Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan write: The West should do more now to help Ukraine defend itself and advance on the battlefield, putting it in the best position possible at the negotiating table later this year. In the meantime, Washington should set a diplomatic course that ensures the security and viability of Ukraine within its de facto borders—while working to restore the country’s territorial integrity over the long term. This approach may be too much for some and not enough for others. But unlike the alternatives, it has the advantage of blending what is desirable with what is doable. – Foreign Affairs 


Israeli authorities said Thursday that an internal investigation into the killing of a 26-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel earlier this month at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site found no wrongdoing by police. – Associated Press

Human Rights Watch on Thursday criticized the Palestinian Authority for obstructing civil rights after it denied the registration of a lawyers association. – Agence France-Presse

Jerusalem police deployed thousands of troops to the city in preparation the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan which is expected to bring thousands of worshippers to the al -Aqsa mosque, while security agencies warn of violence in the capital and in the West Bank. – Ynet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Issac Herzog have been speaking to senior officials at Moody’s Investors Service ahead of their pending release of Israel’s credit rating which is expected to be less favorable than before. – Ynet

The change was prompted by increased tensions with Palestinians, Israel’s policies on the West Bank, IDF raids to apprehend terror suspects, and statements made by Israeli officials, including ministers, which have drawn international condemnation. – Ynet 

Israel has readied its air defenses amid fears of a security flare-up on Friday when Palestinian worshipers will throng the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Ramadan prayers and Iran will commemorate its annual “Quds Day” with anti-Israel activities. – Times of Israel 

After a week that featured two deadly terrorist attacks and rocket fire in the north and the south of the country, “War is much closer than peace,” assesses Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, a former National Security Advisor and head of research in IDF Military Intelligence. – Arutz Sheva    

Fourteen Democratic lawmakers on Thursday urged the Biden administration to undertake a foundational shift in its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in progressives’ most significant missive to date against the Israeli government since Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition assumed power. – Haaretz 

A 25-year-man was shot and killed in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod on Friday morning, hours after an eight-year-old boy was seriously injured and seven other people were hurt in a shooting attack in the same city. – Haaretz 

Amos Harel writes: Netanyahu’s recent conduct, and particularly his failed attempt to fire Gallant, doesn’t inspire major confidence in his judgment in the near future. Like Mendelblit before them, this is the hour of the gatekeepers. They will apparently have to be careful to prevent ulterior motives from entering the picture and leading to rash decision-making on security matters. – Haaretz 

Nehemia Shtrasler writes: Bibi is a cynical coward who never thinks beyond the moment. He postpones any difficult decision so as not to threaten his hold on power. He’s an anti-leader. He’s a danger to Israel’s security and the unity of its people. It’s time for him to go home. – Haaretz 

Anshel Pfeffer writes: What is happening now within Israel doesn’t really concern the Palestinians. It is bad news for them, certainly in the short-term, because the world is now focused on an Israeli issue that doesn’t concern them. And just like the protest movement, the world doesn’t have enough attention for two Israel-related issues. Once again, the Palestinians are being pushed down the agenda. – Haaretz 

Pinhas Avivi writes: Greece, for its part, has no reason to feel threatened by the Israeli-Turkish thaw, precisely because it is limited to civilian issues. The good judgment of both Israeli and Turkish decision-makers has enabled ties to become stable once more, as they should be. – Jerusalem Post 

Ruthie Blum writes: Ironically, this very view is held by many on the Right, whose dismay at the mild reaction to Hamas’s casus belli is accompanied by apprehension over the fate of judicial reform. Bullying by the “resistance” already caused Netanyahu to backtrack on Gallant’s dismissal. There’s no guarantee, therefore, that the legislation “timeout” won’t drag on indefinitely. – Jerusalem Post 

Simon Henderson, Bilal Wahab, and Henry Rome write: Given its market access to alternative crude supplies, Israel will not face an energy crisis due to the ruling—in addition to the KRI, it reportedly imports oil from Azerbaijan and Russia to meet its current domestic demand of around 210,000 b/d. Yet the hiatus and potential marketing changes may mark the end of a trade relationship that has underpinned a quiet but important link between Iraqi Kurds and Israel. – Washington Institute

Michael Barnett, Nathan Brown, Marc Lynch, and Shibley Telhami write: These U.S. policy changes would not immediately bear fruit. The political backlash would be fierce, even though Americans—especially Democrats—have grown far more critical of Israel than have the politicians they elect. But in the long run, these changes offer the best hope for moving toward a more peaceful and just outcome in Israel and Palestine. By finally confronting the one-state reality and taking a principled stand, the United States would stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. – Foreign Affairs  


Many of the 85,500 Afghan nationals who arrived in the United States as part of the massive U.S. evacuation in August 2021 are also struggling for stability. But the hardships are even more acute among the former Afghan special operations forces who fought alongside Americans and now suffer from battle trauma, according to nonprofit groups seeking to help those fighters. – Washington Post 

The Taliban have shared a rare, months-old audio message from their reclusive supreme leader in which he purportedly says that Afghanistan would be “ruined” without justice handed out by the country’s new rulers. – Associated Press

The top diplomats from Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan attended a conference Thursday that focused on ensuring regional security in light of the situation in Afghanistan. – Associated Press


Jordan said ahead of a meeting on Friday to discuss Syria’s readmission to the Arab League it was pushing a joint Arab peace plan that could end the devastating consequences of the over decade old Syrian conflict, according to a source close to the matter. – Reuters 

Qatar’s prime minister said on Thursday that the original basis for the 2011 suspension of Syria’s membership in the Arab League still stands and he reiterated Doha’s stance against normalisation with Syria unless there is a political solution. – Reuters 

As Arab nations prepare to meet in Saudi Arabia to discuss rehabilitating Syrian President Bashar Assad, AFP looks back at more than 50 years of the Assad dynasty’s brutal rule. – Agence France-Presse 

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt and the International Monetary Fund have yet to agree on a date for the initial review under a $3 billion financial package signed in December, an IMF official said on Thursday, a sign the lender may be growing frustrated by Cairo’s lack of reforms. – Reuters

Ankara and Cairo will cooperate more closely regarding Libya, where they back opposing sides, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, marking another step in the rapprochement between the two regional powers. – Reuters  

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday it had not received any request from Tunisia to re-evaluate loan conditions while also denying it had imposed ‘diktats’ on the country as it considers a bailout package. – Reuters

A Saudi delegation on Thursday concluded peace talks in the Yemeni capital Sanaa with the Houthi movement whose officials cited progress and said further discussions were needed to iron out remaining differences. – Reuters 

The Algerian parliament approved on Thursday a new media law that tightens control over the work of journalists and imposes new restrictions. – Reuters  

Bobby Ghosh writes: Sisi needs no reminding that the last general who ran the country, Hosni Mubarak, was brought down by popular protests fueled as much by food prices as by rampant corruption. Food inflation at the time of the 2011 Arab Spring was a mere 18.9%. Rockets to Russia? The general would consider himself lucky if being caught selling them were his biggest problem. – Bloomberg 

Korean Peninsula

Leaked U.S. confidential documents that purportedly show South Korea grappling with the U.S. request to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine have renewed pressure on President Yoon Suk Yeol’s administration to supply lethal weapons to the war effort. – Washington Post 

South Korea’s financial regulator urged officials to take a tougher stance against false rumors that cause confusion in markets, which remain jittery after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse Group AG. – Bloomberg 

Canada and South Korea plan to launch talks on an information security agreement to facilitate intelligence-sharing and promote security ties, a Canadian government source said on Thursday. – Reuters 


China approved “provision of lethal aid” to Russia in its war in Ukraine earlier this year and planned to disguise military equipment as civilian items, according to a U.S. intercept of Russian intelligence revealed in leaked secret documents. – Washington Post 

China carried out a missile drill in its western region of Xinjiang, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported on Friday, without giving a specific date. – Reuters 

The U.S. State Department on Thursday said it’s “disappointed” by China’s decision to uphold the death penalty with a two-year suspended death sentence for “wrongfully detained” U.S. citizen Mark Swidan. – The Hill  

Thomas L. Friedman writes: As for China, it can tell itself all it wants that it has not taken a U-turn in recent years. But no one is buying it. China will never realize its full potential — in a hyper-connected, digitized, deep, dual-use, semiconductor-powered world — unless it understands that establishing and maintaining trust is now the single most important competitive advantage any country or company can have. And Beijing is failing in that endeavor. – New York Times

Don Ritter writes: A long-term China-Russia axis is dangerous for a fossil fuel disarming America and the West. France and the European Union recently urged Xi to hold back on supporting Russia, but that’s not enough to make us safer. Add a still developing, natural resource dependent Global South, going along, by energy necessity, with this fossil fuel-strong new world power structure, and the situation becomes even more precarious. Perhaps giving rise to some sort of civilizational shift or existential threat. – The Hill  

Simone Gao writes: In the unlikely event that the CCP opts for an all-out war to bring Taiwan under its control, it would not want the war in Ukraine to conclude with Russia’s catastrophic defeat. Such an outcome would lead to the loss of a crucial ally, possible interruptions in energy supplies, rising domestic pressure, a more self-assured Taiwan, and the U.S. and its allies focusing their efforts on the CCP. This is why the U.S. and its allies must strive to make the speedy defeat of Russia a reality while remaining vigilant about China’s united front offensive. – Washington Examiner 

Elisabeth Braw writes: The dictator may not know what underlings are up to, but paradoxically foreign intelligence services very well might. It would be troubling for Xi to imagine a silent audience of foreign intelligence agencies enjoying a movie he can never hope to see. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

South Asia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for strong action against “anti-India elements” by the UK government as he spoke to his counterpart Rishi Sunak over phone, India’s Press Information Bureau said in a statement Thursday. – Bloomberg 

Pakistan’s debt continues to be sustainable, International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday, after the government reiterated it had completed all requirements to receive a critical bailout from the IMF. – Reuters 

The United Arab Emirates has confirmed to the International Monetary Fund that it will provide support of $1 billion to Pakistan, the South Asian country’s finance minister said on Friday. – Reuters 

Milan Vaishnav writes: In laying bare the inherent frailties of the Indian model, Mody also sends a message to Western policymakers who have made big bets on India’s ability to be an economic, political, and strategic bulwark against China and other authoritarian states. India may be touted as the “next big thing,” but as with any marketing campaign, one would be well advised to read the fine print. – Foreign Affairs


China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday sanctioned U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, for visiting Taiwan, saying he had sent a “serious wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces.” – Reuters

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday thanked fighter pilots who scrambled against China’s air force during its drills around the island and pledged to keep strengthening the armed forces, as Beijing’s military activities around the island ebbed. – Reuters 

China will ban vessels from an area near Taiwan on Sunday because of the possibility of falling rocket debris, its maritime safety agency said on Thursday, which Taiwan’s Central News Agency said would be from a weather satellite launch. – Reuters 

Hours ahead of a visit to Hanoi by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the United States on Thursday condemned Vietnam’s jailing of a prominent political activist and said ties could only reach their full potential if the country improved its human rights record. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken visits Vietnam this week hoping for progress towards upgrading relations with a key trade partner that shares U.S. worries about China’s growing might. – Reuters 

Russian threats to nuke Ukraine. China’s belligerent military moves around rival Taiwan. North Korea’s unprecedented run of missile testing. The top diplomats from some of the world’s most powerful democracies will have plenty to discuss when they gather in the hot spring resort town of Karuizawa on Sunday for the so-called Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting. – Associated Press

This idyllic place, however, has long been a source of friction with the neighboring Philippines — home to claimants to the throne of the defunct Sulu Sultanate — over the question of ownership. While the Malaysian government has rejected the would-be heirs’ claims, and even branded one of them a terrorist, a European court has ordered Malaysia to pay some $14 billion as compensation. – Bloomberg 

Taiwan is working with friendly nations on how to respond to a possible economic blockade by China, a scenario that appears more likely than a direct military attack on the island, according to a senior Taiwanese diplomat. – Bloomberg 

C. Raja Mohan writes: As it rises to become a major geopolitical actor in Asia and the world, Japan has become the unlikely actor persuading the West to rethink its strategic assumptions. As France’s Macron and other European leaders struggle to come to terms with the challenges presented by Russia and China, Japan has injected a much-needed sense of clarity to the strategic discourse in Europe and Asia. – Foreign Policy


Protesters stormed the headquarters of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE on Thursday as the nationwide protest movement against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension overhaul morphed into a populist rebuke of France’s establishment. – Wall Street Journal

The office of the French president is one of the most powerful among Western democracies, with authority to outlaw civic groups deemed a threat to public order and to pass legislation without parliament’s approval. – Wall Street Journal

It began as a movement of pacifists chaining themselves to fences outside nuclear power plants. Five decades later, the effort to close German nuclear power plants will end with echoes of the Cold War era in which it began, as Russia’s war in Ukraine is a reminder of both the risks and promise of nuclear energy. – New York Times

Hungary’s government has decided to withdraw its representatives from the Russia-controlled International Investment Bank (IIB) and will quit it, the Economic Development Ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Germany’s government appealed for efforts to reduce tensions over Taiwan as the German foreign minister arrived in China on Thursday for official talks following Chinese military exercises near the self-governed island democracy that Beijing claims is part of its territory. – Associated Press

Neighbors Romania, Ukraine, and Moldova signed cooperation agreements in Romania’s capital Thursday after a trilateral meeting on ways to strengthen security in their Black Sea region to counter threats posed by Russian aggression. – Associated Press

Italy on Thursday pledged Tunisia a host of investments and help negotiating an International Monetary Fund bailout as the European nation seeks to stem the number of migrants arriving from North Africa. – Associated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron favors “shifting the center of European gravity towards China,” according to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. – Washington Examiner

France’s Constitutional Council will rule on Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age on Friday evening, a cardinal moment for an overhaul that has sparked mass protests, fractured parliament and left the president’s capacity to enact further changes hanging in the balance. – Bloomberg 

Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov looked back to centuries past in claiming that Moscow’s European neighbors wish to “rejoin the Russian empire.” – Newsweek 

In contrast to the French president — who in an interview with POLITICO tried to put some distance between the U.S. and Europe in any future confrontation with China over Taiwan and called for strengthening the Continent’s “strategic autonomy” — the Polish leader is underlining the critical importance of the alliance between America and Europe, not least because his country is one of Kyiv’s strongest allies in the war with Russia. – Politico 

Michael Shurkin writes: If anything, Washington should see Macron’s efforts as an opportunity: If Macron wants to brand France as an alternative to joining the American block, perhaps counties such as Indonesia and Vietnam that fear China but for various reasons aren’t eager to rally to Uncle Sam might embrace a third option that most definitely is not pro-China yet might be perceived by China as less hostile and less antagonistic. – The Hill 

Natalia Savelyeva writes: That won’t matter if the war ends in the coming months and the refugees can indeed return home. That outcome is a common expectation among Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. If not, longer-term thinking will be required. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Nathan Alan-Lee writes: The EU, already at loggerheads with Poland over rule of law and other issues, would no doubt be appalled by the prospect of a more illiberal government, and the US will want continuing support for Ukraine from one of its most determined backers. NATO not only supplies Ukraine through the critically important Rzeszów air base, but Poland’s plans to double defense expenditure will make it one of the alliance’s biggest military powers. […]There is still much to play for with elections five months away, so a lot can change. But these are happy days for Poland’s radical right. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Hugo Blewett-Mundy writes: Most of all, the EU should understand and act as a matter of urgency on the critical issue — there is competition for Moldova’s future against a nasty, militaristic power with utter indifference for Moldova’s 2.5 million people. That point would best be made by a significant gesture from Brussels. Quite what form that should take is a matter for discussion. The EU might start by asking for Romania’s advice. – Center for European Policy Analysis   

Kristi Raik writes: Following the example of Finland, Ukraine’s full integration to the Euro-Atlantic structures is necessary to make sure that the tragedies of Raate Road in 1940 or Bucha in 2022 will never be repeated—not in Finland, not in Ukraine, and not in any other neighbor of Russia. – Foreign Policy  


In South Africa, a social media influencer who added “Vladimir” to his Twitter name to convey his reverence for the Russian president transmits Russian-generated content over Twitter and Telegram to a growing audience that now numbers 148,000 followers. – New York Times

Ethiopia is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to borrow at least $2 billion under a reform program, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. – Reuters 

Forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara region have displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans from disputed territory in the north of the country in recent weeks despite a peace deal agreed late last year, according to aid workers and internal agency documents seen by the AP. – Associated Press

South Africa pledged legal and diplomatic action to capture the Gupta brothers after a court in the United Arab Emirates rejected a request to extradite the men wanted in the African nation on charges of money laundering and fraud. – Bloomberg 

Michela Wrong writes: By relentlessly upping the ante, Kagame is making it impossible for either his fellow African heads of state or his Western allies to ignore him. But he is also ensuring that when they reluctantly take action—and take action they eventually must—he will have permanently lost the moral high ground he once claimed, notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary, as the man who ended the bloodletting in Africa’s Great Lakes region. – Foreign Affairs 

The Americas

The International Monetary Fund is working closely with Suriname authorities to bring their financing program back, while looking for progress in government talks with China, a key creditor, an IMF official said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Mexico and the United States on Thursday agreed to ramp up the fight against fentanyl trafficking, as well as Mexico’s Sinaloa and CJNG drug cartels and their supply chains, in joint bid to reduce consumption of the powerful opioid. – Reuters 

U.S. Southern Command completed a 56-day medical assistance mission to deliver no-cost medical care to three countries across South American and the Caribbean, according to a statement from Air Forces Southern Command. – Military Times 

Latin America

Brazil’s leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday—a state visit that officials said would tackle topics including satellites to monitor the Amazon rainforest and a proposal for ending the war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

In his first visit to China since taking office at the beginning of this year, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called on countries across the globe to ditch the U.S. dollar in favor of trading in a common currency or existing national currencies, something he did in his own trade with Beijing just weeks earlier. – Newsweek 

Scott B. MacDonald writes: As more countries shift to EVs and use batteries to store more power in national electricity grids, Bolivia risks restricting foreign investment flows and developing a dependency on one market, China. Bolivia should consider a more open foreign investment policy. However, that may be attained only after an economic crisis, which might have been averted. It has been said that no crisis should go to waste, maybe that is the lesson to be learned in La Paz and something that is going to be closely watched in Beijing and Washington. – The National Interest  

United States

The FBI arrested a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman in connection with a leak of what appear to be highly classified intelligence documents, a security breach that posed a threat to U.S. ties to some allies and efforts to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia. – Wall Street Journal

The White House urged social media companies to prevent the circulation of information that could hurt national security as it works to clean up an intelligence leak that exposed US spy assessments on Ukraine’s defenses and other sensitive topics. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: The U.S. classification system for managing secrets is overwhelmed. The Public Interest Declassification Board warned three years ago of an explosion of digital information that will further strain the system, and outlined a vision for modernization.[…]The classification process should be simplified into two tiers, “secret” and “top secret,” eliminating the lower “confidential” level and reducing the number of people with access to the highest levels. – Washington Post

Editorial: It’s also fair to ask how the documents could circulate for weeks on Discord and then other platforms without U.S. counterintelligence agents finding out until the press reported it. Is this another case of misplaced priorities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation? […]The cavalier handling of classified documents by Presidents Trump and Biden has also set a bad example that could cause less respect for the obligations of secrecy. There’s much more to learn—about Mr. Teixeira, but also about the practices and culture of classification that allowed this to happen. – Wall Street Journal


The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is pressing TikTok to answer questions raised by members of the panel about data privacy, kids’ online safety and national security concerns. – The Hill  

Russian state-affiliated hackers have launched a spying campaign targeting foreign ministries and diplomatic entities in NATO countries, the European Union, and, “to a lesser extent,” Africa, Poland’s top cybersecurity agency said. – The Record

Every day, good-faith security researchers around the world face potential criminal prosecution for testing digital systems for flaws, reporting vulnerabilities and figuring out how to repair products. A new advocacy group, the Hacking Policy Council, launched on Thursday seeks to remedy that by advocating on behalf of researchers in support of laws that protect their work. – Cyber Scoop 


The Air Force has said for years that the A-10 jets, nicknamed Warthogs for their bulky silhouette and toughness in a fight, have passed their prime and will be vulnerable in the wars of the future. The production line where they were made fell silent in the mid-1980s, and the average A-10 here is four decades old. Its job can be done by newer, more advanced planes, the Air Force says. – Wall Street Journal

The leak of classified information was a “deliberate, criminal act,” the Pentagon said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a review of intelligence access after the arrest of an Air National Guardsman who is thought to have leaked troves of classified documents online. – The Hill  

Chris Dougherty writes: Given the scale of the changes outlined, developing an adaptive logistics concept will not be easy or without costs. Nevertheless, it is a strategic imperative if the United States intends to deter or defeat Chinese or Russian aggression. Continuing to squeeze savings and efficiency out of logistics will exacerbate a glaring vulnerability that U.S. adversaries are all too willing to exploit. – Center for a New American Security 

Brennan Randel writes: And, of course, after it reforms the officer evaluation system, the Army could take those reforms and improve the non-commissioned officer evaluation system, which has essentially adopted the officer block checks and written narratives in recent years. Whatever the comptroller general recommends, and whatever the Army eventually decides to implement, one thing is clear: The current system is outdated. It should be improved upon, if not upended and replaced with something new altogether. – War on the Rocks