Fdd's overnight brief

April 21, 2021

In The News


In less than nine months, an assassin on a motorbike fatally shot an Al Qaeda commander given refuge in Tehran, Iran’s chief nuclear scientist was machine-gunned on a country road, and two separate, mysterious explosions rocked a key Iranian nuclear facility in the desert, striking the heart of the country’s efforts to enrich uranium. – New York Times

The United States and European Union said Tuesday that more work was needed to revive a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, although Tehran reported progress after the latest diplomacy. – Agence France-Presse

Iran began enriching uranium to 60% purity in order to show its technical capacity after a sabotage attack at a nuclear plant, and the move is quickly reversible if the United States lifts sanctions, the Iranian government said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Iran poses a daily threat to the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East as America’s military superiority in the region wanes, the top U.S. commander in the region told Congress on Tuesday, as indirect nuclear talks between the two nations continue in Vienna. – Bloomberg

A group of athletes and human rights activists is calling on the IOC to sanction Iran’s Olympic program for what it says is the country’s long-running pattern of ordering athletes to avoid competing against Israelis in international events. – Associated Press

On Monday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) Chairman Senator Joseph I. Lieberman joined Fox Business’ Mornings With Maria to discuss the ongoing multilateral negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). – United Against Nuclear Iran

Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo on Tuesday implied that an alleged Mossad operation against Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility was counterproductive to ending the nuclear threat, since it led to Tehran escalating the situation. – Jerusalem Post

On the occasion of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 8, 2021, Iranian dissident Hamid Mutashar, founder of the Ahwazi Liberal Party, expressed sympathy towards the Jews, calling them “our brothers” and their Holocaust “the worst crime in history.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: IISS claims that “the advances made over the past decade on the Shahab-3, Ghadr-1 and Safir programs suggest that Iran has developed and applied a rigorous engineering-management process to organize its efforts and created the industrial infrastructure to support liquid-fuel missile production.” This should be a wake-up call for the region and countries that are negotiating with Iran, because the missile and UAV threat will only grow in the coming years. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Many things could still topple the apple cart before May 21, or they could block a full return to the JCPOA post-May 21. For one, it is blatantly false that Iran can return in a matter of days, given that it could take months for it to sell and otherwise dispose of its stock of enriched uranium that is several times above the 300-kg. JCPOA limit. But if both the US and Iran are so devoted to a return that the major events of the last couple weeks did not disrupt them, Israel may need to already start preparing its strategies for a JCPOA 2.0 reality. – Jerusalem Post

Ali Alfoneh writes: In the former case, Fallahzadeh’s media exposure will likely decrease in the coming weeks in accordance with the leadership’s desire to turn the clock back to when the organization operated in the shadows and its commanders had much less exposure to assassination—a goal espoused by both Hejazi and the current commander of the Qods Force, Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani. In the latter case, if Fallahzadeh continues the self-promotional tour, he may find himself at odds with Qaani and incapable of filling the boots of Soleimani, whose charisma and eloquence far exceeded what Fallahzadeh has shown in his appearances so far. – Washington Institute


Russia unleashed airstrikes that it said killed as many as 200 militants in central Syria amid an intensifying assault by Islamic State insurgents that threatens the Syrian government’s access to oil and heightens the risks for its foreign backers. – Wall Street Journal

Syria appointed Issam Hazima as governor of its central bank on Tuesday, state media said, a week after his predecessor was sacked following criticism of his handling of a currency crisis that has seen the Syrian pound fall to record lows. – Reuters

Fighting has subsided in much of the country but activists and analysts who advise the Danish government on Syria this week urged the authorities to reconsider the decision, which they warned “could lead a worrying trend in European refugee policy”. – Financial Times

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog will decide this week whether to impose unprecedented sanctions on Syria for its alleged use of toxic arms and failure to declare its arsenal. – Agence France-Presse

Syrian business tycoon Firas Tlass said that certain areas in Syria are completely under Iranian or Hizbullah control, and that President Bashar Al-Assad does not know what is happening in those areas. – Middle East Media Research Institute

A woman from the capital Damascus has applied to run for president of Syria, the parliament speaker said Tuesday, making her the first female to make a bid for the country’s top job. The largely symbolic election is certain to be won by President Bashar Assad. – Associated Press

Kenneth R. Rosen writes: Though tensions are high and several issues notably fraught, the negotiations ideally could mean an end to the political stalemate in the north and a unification of disparate parties seeking a solution through which they can band together against other state and non-state actors within the country. But for this outcome to be realized, the United States and its SDF mediator counterpart must signal their own desire to no longer play host to petty charades and the easily-workable hang-ups presented as reasons for delaying progress in the negotiations. – Washington Institute


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that any move by U.S. President Joe Biden to recognise the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide will further harm already strained ties between the NATO allies. – Reuters

Chinese internet giant Alibaba invested $350 million in Turkish e-commerce firm Trendyol in a capital increase, according to an entry in the country’s trade registry. – Reuters

Turkey announced early Wednesday that a conference Washington had hoped would move Afghanistan’s warring sides to a final peace agreement was postponed, as fresh violence rattled the Afghan capital. – Associated Press


Last week, a group of social-media influencers toured one of Israel’s most dangerous borders, the northern front, and learned about the threats that Hezbollah poses to all residents in the North, including the country’s Druze, Christian and Muslim minorities, whose message was: “If a missile lands on a nearby Jewish village, it threatens all of us.” – Jerusalem Post

Amid regional tensions, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Hezbollah on Tuesday during a tour of the IDF’s Northern Command.  – Jerusalem Post

Israel is lobbying the United States to push for improved international oversight of Iran’s nuclear program, as Washington negotiates to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers, Israeli television reported Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Israel blasted on Tuesday the ruling by France’s highest court that the murderer of Sarah Halimi was not criminally responsible because he had smoked marijuana before the crime. – Times of Israel

A senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that the upcoming Palestinian national elections are “very likely” to be postponed if Israel does not allow voting in East Jerusalem. – Times of Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined world leaders on Tuesday in remembering Idriss Deby, the longtime president of Chad who died while visiting battlefront troops, and who in 2019 reestablished ties with the Jewish state. – Algemeiner 

With the resumption of US aid to the Palestinian Authority, a top watchdog group is urging the Biden administration to take a series of measures to prevent aid going to terrorist activities, the promotion of antisemitism, and other problematic entities. – Algemeiner 

Israeli defense officials are working with various international agencies to draft updated guidelines regarding disputes and laws of war in the naval arena. This comes as tensions are on the rise in the Persian Gulf; in recent months, several attacks on Israel-owned commercial ships were attributed to Iran. – Haaretz 

Saudi Arabia

Greece and Saudi Arabia have signed a deal to lend a Patriot air defence system to the Arab country to protect critical energy facilities, GreekForeign MinisterNikos Dendias said on Tuesday. – Reuters

A first round of direct talks between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran signaled a possible de-escalation following years of animosity that often spilled into neighboring countries and at least one still-raging war. But few expect quick results. – Associated Press

David Gardner writes: Prince Mohammed has since dallied with Netanyahu and the idea of Saudi normalisation with Israel. Now he seems to be concentrating more on serial expiatory offerings to Biden, including ending a three-year blockade of Qatar, a maverick Gulf emirate but an important US ally. Biden’s attempt at a reset with Iran remains very difficult. But any Saudi move to explore geopolitical competition with Iran rather than confrontation helps — even as a straw in the wind. – Financial Times

Gulf States

United Nations human rights experts expressed alarm on Tuesday that Dubai’s government has not responded to repeated requests for proof that Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai’s billionaire ruler, is alive and well. – New York Times

The United Arab Emirates bought more U.S. Treasuries than China in February, breaking with other top oil exporters in the Persian Gulf region that cut back on their exposure to one of the world’s safest assets. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

Israel’s Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis met with Abdel Rahim-Biod, the designated ambassador and head of the Moroccan embassy in Israel on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

The proliferation of small unmanned aerial systems, usually commercially available drones that can be outfitted to drop weapons, is the most “persistent and dangerous” threat to troops in the Middle East in decades. – Air Force Magazine

Bilal Wahab and Michael Rubin write: As the United States recalibrates its relationship with Iraq, the advent of Iraq’s cyber economy also provides an opportunity. Rather than simply abandon Iraq as military missions end, the Biden administration might consider how it can encourage the evolution of Iraq’s economy. […]The United States also has an interest in coordinating and cooperating with Iraq to ensure its mobile money applications—designed to work interchangeably in Iraqi dinars and U.S. dollars—do not become a mechanism for Iranian sanctions evasion. The Biden administration also might help Iraq upgrade its taxation and revenue system to track and take advantage of the new system as it seeks to extricate itself from the volatility of relying on oil for its revenue. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has a message for the United States: President Biden needs to engage now with North Korea. – New York Times

South Korean women forced into sex slavery during Japan’s colonial rule have vowed to continue their fight for compensation from Tokyo despite a Seoul court throwing out their latest legal challenge. – Financial Times

More than 30 South Korean college students shaved their heads in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul on Tuesday to protest Japan’s decision to release water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. – Reuters

Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha write: The significance of these activities involving the Nampo submersible missile test stand barge are unclear at this time. Reasonably, these activities could be for any, or a combination of any, of the following: Preparation for an SLBM test to support research institutes, design bureaus, and factories (a number of which are in the general Pyongyang area); to refine existing SLBM systems; or to design new ones. Extended repairs. Upgrades or modifications to the test stand barge and its operating systems. Training of operating crews. A component of a strategic deception or misinformation operation. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Chinese leader Xi Jinping used a high-profile speech to call for equitable management of world affairs, underscoring Beijing’s attempts to reshape its relationship with the U.S. into one on a more equal footing. – Wall Street Journal

A single protester with a disputed claim about the safety of Tesla Inc. electric vehicles has hit a nerve in China, sending complaints about the company ricocheting across the Chinese internet and refocusing attention on alleged quality issues in a critical market for Tesla. – Wall Street Journal

China and the U.S. are getting close to naming new envoys to both capitals as the two world powers get locked into an increasingly heated competition for global leadership. – Wall Street Journal

Sophisticated Chinese government hackers are believed to have compromised dozens of U.S. government agencies, defense contractors, financial institutions and other critical sectors, according to a private cybersecurity firm working with the federal government. – Washington Post

President Biden has repeatedly pledged to work with China on issues like climate change while challenging Beijing on human rights and unfair trade practices. – New York Times

A Chinese-born husband and wife who became U.S. citizens have been sentenced in a conspiracy to steal sensitive medical research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio while being financially supported by the Chinese government, with the couple pursuing the goal of selling the stolen secrets for a profit in China. – Washington Examiner

China’s President Xi Jinping will attend a U.S.-led climate change summit on Thursday at the invitation of President Joe Biden, in the first meeting between the two leaders since the advent of the new U.S. administration. – Reuters

China’s government on Tuesday rejected accusations of abuses in the Xinjiang region after a human rights group appealed for a U.N. investigation into possible crimes against humanity. – Associated Press

China continued to welcome foreign journalists and discriminated against none, a Chinese envoy said on Wednesday, contradicting an Australian reporter’s opinion that they were “barely tolerated.” – Associated Press

Tesla has apologised after being attacked by Chinese state media for its treatment of customers, days after a protest against the company in one of its most important markets. – Financial Times

A growing number of Chinese tech companies have hired former government officials as part of efforts to navigate President Xi Jinping’s intensifying crackdown on the sector. – Financial Times

China’s censors have restricted the spread online of a personal essay written by former premier Wen Jiabao about his late mother that some dissidents said could be construed as criticism of President Xi Jinping’s leadership. – Financial Times

A Chinese diplomat has indicated there will be no immediate thaw in Beijing’s relationship with Australia, which has seen ministerial-level ties frozen for a year and trade reprisals against Australian exports. – Bloomberg

An article published March 10, 2021 in the Chinese media outlet Duowei explained what the fact that China’s defense budget will for the first time exceed $200 billion means for Taiwan. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Seth Cropsey writes: It is common today to hear Polish, Romanian, Baltic and others from former Warsaw Pact states of a certain age relate that they listened — illegally — to Radio Free Europe and Voice of America nightly, and that these broadcasts were a lifeline that sustained them. Mr. Biden’s administration can hasten the day when we hear the same from the citizens of a free China. – The Hill

Andy Langenkamp writes: For a long time, the West has managed to avoid an excessive intertwining of political and economic components in its trade with China, for better or worse. This is becoming increasingly difficult. As a result, Western companies with a major public profile in particular will harbor more and more doubts as to the extent to which they should have a presence in the Chinese market. –  The Hill

Yuan Yang writes: It can be too easy to conclude from incidents such as the H&M blow-up that all patriotic sentiment online is manufactured. In fact, that outburst illustrated the complexity of Chinese nationalism on the internet: that while party organs placed a target on H&M’s head, the public anger was real. To better understand this complexity, one must explore the internet communities that exist away from the spotlight. – Financial Times


In the twilight months of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, Americans fought the Taliban, not over fields or villages or hearts and minds, but over spreadsheets.- New York Times

A suicide bomber targeted an Afghan security forces convoy in Kabul on Tuesday, security officials said. – Reuters

A leading U.S. general voiced “grave doubts” on Tuesday about the Taliban’s reliability as a negotiating partner for U.S. and Afghan diplomats following the U.S. military’s withdrawal from America’s longest war. – Reuters

In interviews with Military.com last week, Lucier and other veterans wrestled with the complex — and sometimes contradictory — emotions they felt about the end of a ‘forever war’ that has occupied much of their adult lives. – Military.com

Farahnaz Forotan writes: I believe an important factor in changing American calculations regarding Afghanistan was also the failure of governance and the widespread corruption in the Afghan government, its institutions and the broader Kabul elite.[…] I can’t shake off the despair and the sense that Afghanistan has been abandoned by the world. We might lose most of what we have gained in the past two decades if the Taliban return to power. The future looks bleak, but Afghanistan can’t afford to stop trying to find a better way to move forward. – New York Times

Joseph J. Collins writes: A U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will not end the “forever war.” It will accelerate the fighting and impede peacemaking. […]American diplomats also will have to figure out a new strategy to create additional sources of leverage in negotiating with the Taliban. Biden will have to mobilize anti-Taliban, pro-Kabul sentiment among India, China, Russia and, if possible, Iran. The U.S. embassy will have to learn how to manage economic and humanitarian assistance without its security partner. – The Hill

Alberto M. Fernandez writes: This round will be an early opportunity for us to see new Eurasian power politics, with a rising China working with or mediating between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. China has spoken of sending peacekeepers to Afghanistan, but this seems likely only within a context of assurances from its regional Muslim allies. The Chinese are certainly not going to waste a trillion dollars there like the Americans did. More than a return to the past, Afghanistan’s fate may be a view toward Asia’s future. – Middle East Media Research Institute

South Asia

Pakistan’s Parliament on Tuesday began debates on a resolution calling for the expulsion of France’s ambassador, a move widely seen as a capitulation by the government to a militant Islamist party that has led large protests and clashed with the police. – New York Times

An unknown hacker planted more than 30 documents that investigators deemed incriminating on a laptop belonging to an Indian activist accused of terrorism, a new forensic analysis finds, indicating a more extensive use of malicious software than previously revealed. – Washington Post

India does not see any logic in the United States putting it on a monitoring list of currency manipulators, a trade ministry official said on Tuesday. – Reuters


For a place that has been stripped of its democratic rights during a pandemic, Hong Kong still has days that feel routine. – Washington Post

Myanmar anti-coup activists launched protests on Wednesday calling for the release of prisoners detained by the junta, as the military government declared a National Unity Government formed by its opponents was illegal. – Reuters

A spokesman for Myanmar’s military has confirmed that junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will attend a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders at the weekend, Nikkei Asia reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is postponing plans to visit India and the Philippines on a trip originally set for the end of the month, media said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Violations of religious freedom are increasing and persecution takes place in more than 25 countries, with China and Myanmar among those that have the worst records, according to a report by a Vatican-backed charity. – Reuters

Forty-seven activists were charged overall, in the biggest crackdown on the city’s opposition since a national security law was imposed by China last June. Only 11 have been granted bail. The next appearance in court for all the defendants is scheduled for May 31. – Reuters

Tokyo police are investigating cyberattacks on about 200 Japanese companies and research organizations, including the country’s space agency, by a hacking group believed to be linked to the Chinese military, the government said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Editorial: China is the preeminent global threat not only to the survival of the democratic international order but also to the lives of millions of innocent people. New Zealand’s refusal to stand shoulder to shoulder with its allies is grounds for its suspension. It may be time to vote for Four Eyes. – Washington Examiner

Joseph Bosco writes: But it is reasonable to assume that Washington would welcome a more full-throated Japanese posture on the critical need for democratic Taiwan to survive and thrive. Enthusiastic domestic press coverage of the event suggests the Japanese people support a more forward-looking official policy on Taiwan. Enactment of a Japanese version of the Taiwan Relations Act would be a good place for Tokyo to start. – The Hill

Rep. Joe Courtney writes: As the curtain came down on the 116th Congress back on Jan. 1, the veto override and enactment of the 2021 NDAA displayed a positive vital sign for the continuity of our republic, and its commitment to our friends and allies who support democratic values and the rule of law. As President Biden forcefully stated just recently, the overarching struggle today is between forces of “democracy versus autocracy.” The bipartisan override of Donald Trump’s veto of the 2021 NDAA was a powerful statement of American resolve to rise above partisanship and win that struggle. – The Hill

Riley Walters writes: In conclusion, this summit represented more than simply a one-off meeting. The current U.S.-Japan relationship has strong momentum, with Biden and Suga already planning on attending a Climate Leaders Summit. The U.S. can’t address these issues alone, and so having Japan as a partner will be invaluable.Hudson Institute

Rueben Ananthan Santhana Dass and Jasminder Singh write: Preventive action and detention laws such as SOSMA and POTA have been crucial in stemming and controlling the growth of terrorist elements in the country and remain a crucial part of Malaysia’s national security apparatus. […]Thus, while these instruments must be maintained to address the looming terrorism threat facing the country, they must be employed with effective checks and balances to ensure they are not abused and misused. Middle East Institute


Russia has moved warplanes to Crimea and bases near Ukraine to an extent greater than has previously been disclosed, adding to its capability for political intimidation or military intervention, according to commercial satellite photos of areas being used for the military buildup. – Wall Street Journal

Russian President Vladimir Putin will make his annual address to parliament Wednesday, at the same time the opposition is calling for mass protests to kick off across the country in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. – Washington Post

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday called on Western countries to escalate “painful” economic sanctions against Russia in response to Moscow’s massive military buildup on Ukraine’s borders. – Washington Post

President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday invited Russian leader Vladimir Putin to meet in war-torn eastern Ukraine, stressing that millions of lives were at stake from fresh fighting the separatist conflict. – Agence France-Presse

A team of medics including ailing Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s personal doctor were denied access Tuesday to a penal colony where he is being treated at a prison hospital. – Agence France-Presse

Moscow fired back at European leaders on Tuesday after it was accused of involvement in a 2014 explosion at an ammunition depot in the Czech Republic, accusing the west of harboring “mass anti-Russian hysteria.” – The Hill

Russia has expelled two Bulgarian diplomats in the latest in a succession of tit-for-tat measures that have eroded the number of foreign envoys in Moscow amid rising tensions with the west. – Financial Times

Editorial: The US and EU should be ready, too, to step up economic sanctions. President Joe Biden last week banned US financial institutions from buying new Russian sovereign debt as punishment for alleged cyber hacking, signalling a willingness to use the US financial system against opponents. European countries should redouble efforts to reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuels, including finally blocking Nord Stream 2. If the west wants to appear serious about preventing Russia’s leader from trampling on international norms, it must be prepared to bear some costs. – Financial Times

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: There can be only one political consequence from this legal ruling: international non-recognition of any attempt by Putin to overstay his term — and thus usurp power, this time not just politically but legally. Legitimacy must be a cornerstone of international relations. It was Putin’s choice to sever his last remnants of it — and Western governments must respond accordingly. – Washington Post

Paul Roderick Gregory writes: The sanctions on the 32 enterprises and individuals simply brings the U.S. up to the level of modest European Union sanctions. […]If anything, the weak and confused Biden sanctions will embolden Putin, who immediately closed the Kerch Strait to American naval vessels transiting from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea. – The Hill


The Czech Republic on Tuesday threatened to expel all Russian diplomats from Prague, accusing Moscow of orchestrating an “unprecedented terror attack” on Czech territory in 2014. – Agence France-Presse

The Czech Republic is asking EU and NATO partners to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity following Prague’s diplomatic spat with Moscow, Foreign and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Government officials in the United Kingdom are pushing to ban a neo-Nazi group linked to at least five murders in the United States, arguing that it has had a substantial influence on teenagers convicted of terrorism charges in the U.K. – The Hill

A Northern Ireland referendum on leaving the United Kingdom would fail today, a poll indicated on Tuesday, but most of those questioned said they believed the region would leave within the next 25 years. – Reuters

The Ministry of Defence has agreed to exclude torture, genocide and crimes against humanity from new curbs on prosecutions of British troops serving overseas, after heavy criticism from peers and human rights campaigners. – Financial Times


But this week, as Mr. Déby cruised toward a sixth electoral victory that would have made him one of the longest-serving leaders in the world, he went to the front line for the last time. – New York Times

A recently completed pier at the Chinese naval base near the entrance to the Red Sea is large enough to support an aircraft carrier, the top U.S. commander for Africa told lawmakers on Tuesday. – USNI News

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi said on Wednesday the government will work to restore peace in the country after a deadly militant attack last month near multi-billion-dollar gas projects backed by global oil companies. – Reuters

The Americas

Cuba’s communist leadership has always viewed the internet with suspicion while trying desperately to control it. – Agence France-Presse

Russian President Vladimir Putin called communist Cuba’s new leader Miguel Diaz-Canel Tuesday to discuss strengthening the two countries’ “strategic partnership,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a message retweeted by its embassy in Havana. – Agence France-Presse

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet virtually on Wednesday with 15 foreign ministers of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), State Department spokesman Ned Price said. – Reuters

Brazilian diplomats are battling that same scepticism days ahead of a climate summit hosted by Joe Biden, which American officials have painted as a pivotal moment for relations between the US president and the rightwing Bolsonaro government. – Financial Times

Two top military officers told lawmakers Tuesday they believe they have “zero” extremists under their command, citing the security clearance process — despite arrests of people with security clearances in connection with the Capitol attack and other recent examples of clearance holders having extremist views. – The Hill

Carlos Eire writes: So, theoretically, yes, change is possible. But as any good historian or insurance actuary will tell you, theoretical possibilities fall into the realm of faith rather than reason, and it is safest not to expect miracles. Given all that has been set into place in Cuba, change is not likely any time soon, so the safest bet is to be highly skeptical. Being Cuban, I must admit, my skepticism might be healthy. But it is tinged by equal measures of anger and despair. – Washington Post

Loren DeJonge Schulman and Ainikki Riikonen write: The United States cannot afford just to dream; it must apply itself. It can apply itself by implementing processes—and filling the current institutional gap—to design, implement, and monitor and evaluate a national technology strategy. […]The United States has, in recent years, found a rare moment of bipartisan agreement that facing threats from abroad will require a shoring up of technological, innovation, and economic elements of power. It can do so, but only if it implements a process it can trust to perform. – Center for a New American Security

Evan Ellis writes: The United States needs to prepare for a new configuration of governments that are far less cooperative in political, law enforcement, and other domains; less democratic, more corrupt, and struggling to combat criminal activity; and more welcoming of China and other U.S. rivals such as Russia and Iran. […]Even while doing our best to avoid such a grim future, policymakers in Washington must begin to plan for how to protect the country’s core national interests when many of the presumptions regarding an abundance of cooperative, non-threatening neighbors no longer apply. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Hugo Gurdon writes: It is rich people, not poor people, who care about the environment. Allow development in underdeveloped countries, and the world will get to cleaner energy use sooner. Market forces and technological advances, not government fiat and international posturing, are what is needed. So don’t believe it when Biden and his administration boast that they’re on the side of the angels, as they will for the next four years — and especially this Earth Day. – Washington Examiner


The House on Tuesday approved bipartisan legislation aimed at elevating cybersecurity at the State Department through prioritizing and reorganizing a key department on the heels of multiple major foreign cyberattacks against the United States. – The Hill

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced it was kicking off a 100-day plan aimed at protecting the electric grid against cyberattacks. – The Hill

At least two groups of China-linked hackers have spent months using a previously undisclosed vulnerability in American virtual private networking devices to spy on the U.S. defense industry, researchers and the devices’ manufacturer said Tuesday. – Reuters

As cybersecurity threats continue to rise, US senators have introduced legislation to boost technology cooperation with Israel and secure funding for up to $30 million to help thwart future malicious attacks. – Algemeiner

Antitrust regulators in the UK, Germany and Australia mounted a unified attack against the domination of internet giants on Tuesday, warning that the pandemic was not an excuse to approve deals. – Financial Times

A critical cyber tool, one that could help military commanders make better decisions during cyber operations and has been in development for many years, has officially transitioned to U.S. Cyber Command. – C4ISRNET

Michael Garcia writes: To be sure, the NDAA could achieve these aims and be a valuable means to pass cybersecurity legislation. But Congress should consider the limitations of solely relying on a defense-based bill for the vast majority of our nation’s cybersecurity legislation and what that means for federal partnerships with states, allies, and private companies. A cyber-omnibus bill would allow Congress to pass a wide range of cybersecurity provisions with adequate resources provided to all agencies so that they can better defend the United States against the relentless cyber onslaught. – The Hill


U.S. Space Force got a boost when thousands of March applications for transfer arrived from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, but other bureaucratic slowdowns may prevent it from keeping pace with adversaries, experts say. – Washington Examiner

If the Defense Department is forced to get rid of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, it will have to move its bombers to alert status to pick up the slack, the head of U.S. Strategic Command said Tuesday. – Defense News

The U.S. Army is bracing for a possible large budget cut in fiscal 2022, a defense official told Defense News. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy’s shipboard network team wants to deliver software to sailors faster. To get there it’s looking to the cloud. – C4ISRNET

Off the southern California coast this week, the Navy has amassed a small fleet to help figure how its operational forces can use aerial drones, autonomous surface and subsurface vehicles in an integrated fight at sea and in the air to support the manned fleet. – USNI News

After honing naval integration and then exercising in the Indo-Pacific with the joint force, the Marine Corps is ready to take its new island-hopping campaign concept to the next level by drilling with international allies and partners. – USNI News

Some parts on Virginia-class attack boats are wearing out faster than the Navy anticipated 20 years ago, and buying replacement parts is further straining a nuclear submarine industrial base that’s already juggling an expansion of construction of new hulls and maintaining the current fleet. – USNI News

The M-2 Bradley, which has been in service since 1981, is an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) used to transport infantry on the battlefield and provide fire support to dismounted troops and suppress or destroy enemy fighting vehicles. – USNI News