Fdd's overnight brief

April 3, 2023

In The News


They include a doctor, a rapper, a karate champion, a barber and an actor, sons, grandsons and fathers. They are among the people Iran has hastily sentenced to death in its campaign to quash the monthslong uprising against the Islamic Republic. – New York Times

The Iranian navy said it identified and warned off a U.S. reconnaissance plane near the Gulf of Oman on Sunday, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. – Reuters

President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that the hijab was the law in Iran after a viral video showed a man throwing yoghurt at two unveiled women in a shop near a holy Shi’ite Muslim city. – Reuters

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to dismiss last week, has completed his visit to the occupied West Bank and warned against Iranian interference. – Reuters

A militant attack from across the border with Iran left four Pakistani soldiers dead Saturday in southwestern Baluchistan province, the army said. – Associated Press 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud agreed in a phone call on Sunday to meet in the coming days. – Arutz Sheva 

Chinese technology firm, Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology Co (DJI), the world’s largest drone manufacturer, is reportedly selling drone technology and parts to Iran, a watchdog group has warned. – Arutz Sheva 

Iran is behind a drone that entered Israeli territory from Syria late on Sunday and was subsequently downed by the IDF, this according to the latest assessments by defense establishment officials. – Haaretz

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced a bill this week that seeks a multi-department strategy from the administration to prevent Iran from acquiring components from the U.S. and its allies for use in weaponized drones. – Jewish Insider

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran and its proxies use airfields in Syria to base its drones. These include the T-4 base near Palmyra and other bases. The reports and assessment on April indicate the Iranian drone threat may be re-emerging in Syria after a period where it appeared to be reduced. […]There are many elements at work here because Iran is normalizing with Saudi Arabia. Iran previously used drones to threaten Saudi Arabia and the UAE with drones. Now it may be seeking to open up a new front for its drone wars. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: With US President Joe Biden now more than half way through his term, along with the period when Iran could guarantee economic recovery, there seems to be a diminishing chance for a real deal. Sure, the IAEA Board can threaten Iran again in June. But why take the threat seriously after the West has shown so many times that it is afraid to go to the mat with the ayatollahs? Rather, it is becoming clear that the West will tolerate Iran on the nuclear threshold as long as it is perceived as not making a final rush for a nuclear bomb. – Jerusalem Post

Salem Alketbi writes: The conversation between Saudi Arabia and Iran could yield benefits for other regional players, including Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. Collaboration between the two nations can help secure stability and peace in Iraq, find a resolution for the conflict in Syria and resume relations between Riyadh and Damascus. A warming of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran will result in lightning-fast moves on the Middle Eastern chessboard in the near future. Furthermore, practical solutions will be sought for the intensifying crisis in Lebanon, given Riyadh and Tehran’s sway within the Lebanese decision-making circles. – Jerusalem Post

Matthew Continetti writes: America needs to bolster her traditional allies in the region—not bully or shun them—to prepare for a confrontation with Iran. A true friend would know that. He’d know the difference between partners and adversaries. And he’d know when to hold his tongue. – Washington Free Beacon

Dylan Motin writes: The current era of intense great power competition requires political imagination combined with astute diplomacy. Decisionmakers must keep foreign policy traditionalism and dogmatism about Iran from sacrificing this opportunity to advance essential American interests at little cost. – The National Interest

Russia & Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed his Russian counterpart for the release of recently detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in a phone call Sunday, the State Department said, following his detention last week on espionage charges. – Wall Street Journal

Russian forces shelled a town near the eastern city of Bakhmut on Sunday, killing six people, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council was undermining the body’s credibility. – Wall Street Journal

Russia said it was ramping up production of ammunition for front-line forces in Ukraine as it continued its push to seize territory there despite suffering heavy losses and making little headway in months of grinding combat. – Wall Street Journal

An explosion at a St. Petersburg cafe killed a popular pro-war Russian blogger and injured at least 16 others, the Russian Interior Ministry said Sunday. – Washington Post

A Ukrainian court has placed the head of Kyiv’s most prominent monastery under house arrest on charges of justifying Russia’s armed aggression, the latest escalation in a long-simmering conflict between Ukrainian officials and a local branch of the Orthodox Church they say has ties to Moscow. – Washington Post

Many of the children Ms. Lvova-Belova has brought from Ukraine have indeed become Russian, at least by passport, thanks to a decree she asked President Vladimir V. Putin to sign last year to streamline the adoption of Ukrainian children. She has used that authority to transfer to Russia what Ukraine says are as many as 16,000 children. Some of those children have described a wrenching process of coercion, deception and force, with many placed in homes to become Russian citizens and subjected to re-education. – New York Times

It’s been described by Ukrainian officials as “post-apocalyptic.” As Russian forces encircle the city of Avdiivka, they are waging a battle that has destroyed entire neighborhoods and nearly cut off access to humanitarian aid for its remaining residents. – New York Times

Less than a week after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said he would position nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, the Belarusian president on Friday joined his close ally in raising the prospect of nuclear war in an apparent attempt to pressure the West to back away from its support for Ukraine. – New York Times

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed a decree on Thursday authorizing a larger-than-normal spring draft, with a target of about 147,000 men, about 10 percent more than the goal of Russia’s 2022 spring drive. Although the new recruits are unlikely to go to the battlefield immediately — and one Russian official claimed they would not be sent there at all — the draft will create a bigger pool of potential troops for Russia’s army, which has suffered immense casualties. – New York Times

Indonesia and Russia signed an extradition agreement on Friday, with the Southeast Asian country’s law minister welcoming a move that he said should strengthen efforts to combat cross-border crimes, ranging from money laundering to cybercrime. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday its executive board approved a four-year $15.6 billion loan program for Ukraine, part of a global $115 billion package to support the country’s economy as it battles Russia’s 13-month-old invasion. – Reuters

A new $2.6 billion U.S. military aid package that could include air surveillance radars, anti-tank rockets and fuel trucks for Ukraine’s fight against Russia is expected to be announced as soon as Monday, three U.S. officials said on Friday. – Reuters

Russia’s war against Ukraine has claimed the lives of 262 Ukrainian athletes and destroyed 363 sports facilities, the country’s sports minister, Vadym Huttsait, said on Saturday. – Reuters

Russia plans to form a division of special-purpose submarines that will carry Poseidon nuclear-capable torpedoes as part of the country’s Pacific Fleet by the end of 2024 or first half of 2025, Russia’s TASS news agency reported on Monday. – Reuters

Wimbledon lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian players on Friday and will allow them to compete in the grasscourt Grand Slam this year as “neutral” athletes in a climbdown from the stance it took after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. – Reuters

Russia will move its tactical nuclear weapons close to the western borders of Belarus, the Russian envoy to Minsk said on Sunday, placing them at NATO’s threshold in a move likely to further escalate Moscow’s standoff with the West. – Reuters

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said late on Sunday that the U.S. was behind the pressure that Ukrainian authorities have been exerting on the Russian-aligned wing of the Orthodox Church in Kyiv. – Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is expected to visit Poland on April 5, the Polish president’s foreign affairs adviser Marcin Przydacz said on Monday. – Reuters

A top Ukrainian official on Sunday outlined a series of steps the government in Kyiv would take after the country reclaims control of Crimea, including dismantling the strategic bridge that links the seized Black Sea peninsula to Russia. – Associated Press 

Ukraine on Saturday branded Russia’s presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of April “a slap in the face”, joining a chorus of outrage from Western countries. – Agence France-Presse

As Ukraine marked the first anniversary of the mass killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield has made the case that Russia “should not be” a permanent member of the UN Security Council in an interview with AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is blasting Russia’s leadership of the United Nations (UN) Security Council as “obviously absurd and destructive.” – The Hill

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Staff, believes it’s unlikely that Ukraine will accomplish its goal of recapturing all of its territory that’s under Russian occupation by the end of the year. – Washington Examiner

Russian officials plan to outline “the contours of a new world order” over the next month as Russia and China intensify their efforts to gain influence at the United Nations. – Washington Examiner

Robert D. Kaplan writes: Let’s not forget Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, another Shakespearean character, without whose charisma and dynamic leadership Ukraine might never have mustered the will to resist Russia on the battlefield. Geopolitics gets you only so far. – Wall Street Journal

Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova write: While foreign journalists have not been arrested in recent decades, Russia has repeatedly abused its legal system to oppress its own citizens, including activists, journalists and, most recently, ordinary citizens like Moskalyov who speak out in favor of peace. – Washington Post

Benny Avni writes: Russia’s retaking of the council’s presidency at the same time that it flouts all rules and norms established by the UN since World War II is yet another step in that body’s descent into irrelevancy. Not one nuclear-laced missile will be withdrawn and no unfairly detained hostage would be freed by its deliberations and votes. – New York Sun

Timothy R. Sample writes: For Congress, it is time to understand that our fractious debates and extreme statements on Ukraine are seen by Putin as weakness to be exploited. Whether or not a new Cold War is emerging, it is time to heed the lessons from the Cold War trenches. – The Hill

Sergey Radchenko and Vladislav Zubok write: Some Americans and Europeans assume that the use of nuclear weapons in the current crisis is completely out of the question and thus that the West can safely push the Kremlin into the corner by obtaining a comprehensive victory for Ukraine. But plenty of people in Russia, especially around Putin and among his propagandists, defiantly say that there would be “no world without Russia,” meaning that Moscow should prefer a nuclear Armageddon to defeat. – Foreign Affairs 

Edward Lucas writes: Demands in those days centered on giving the bankrupt Yeltsin regime money and political support, and arm-twisting the Baltic states on their language and citizenship policies. The modern version will be about lifting sanctions and refraining from “provocative” moves, such as basing outside forces in post-war Ukraine to provide real security. Ridiculous? I hope so. But don’t bet on it. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Chels Michta writes: Put differently, it was not American actions, but rather the logic of great power politics that drove China and Russia together. They have become allies because it is in their interests (as they perceive them). And the United States has become the adversary because — as the old adage goes — the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Now that it is the target of a combined effort to dislodge it from its position as primus inter pares in the international system, the US should prepare to compete across domains and to prevail. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Wesley Satterwhite writes: Such standard accountability for the weapons sent to Ukraine is not a right-wing talking point; it is something that must continue to be taken seriously and planned for. Nothing lasts forever, and for the sake of millions, hopefully, the end of this war comes soon. We must be prepared for that eventuality and for what comes after. – The National Interest

Derek S. Reveron writes: Russia’s ground forces have been decimated, its arms industry has been tarnished, and its connections to the West are growing more restricted by the day. The ICC indictment of Putin for crimes against humanity effectively ended any prospect for post-war normalized relations, so Putin is unlikely to withdraw its forces from Ukraine. What started as Putin’s dream to become greater than Tsar Peter I may end with Putin being remembered as the last Tsar Nicholas II. – The National Interest

Stephen Cimbala and Lawrence Korb write: In theory, only the president of Russia and his top military commanders can authorize nuclear release, but in practice, the chain of command is only as strong as its weakest link. History shows that stranger things happen within militaries that are on the cusp of defeat and disintegration. Could a cabal of praetorians in Moscow combined with duplicitous field operators in Belarus create chaos in the midst of a fraught field of battle, or in the face of an impending Russian strategic defeat? – The National Interest


Thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities across the country Saturday to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul, seeking to sustain a movement that pressured the premier to delay the divisive plan and engage in negotiations over a compromise. – Wall Street Journal

Israel’s government on Sunday greenlit the formation of a national guard, handing a victory to the far-right minister who proposed the force and drawing condemnation from security officials who warned it could destabilize the country. – Washington Post   

A Palestinian motorist rammed his car into a group of soldiers in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, the Israeli military said, wounding three before another opened fire at the driver who was, according to the Palestinian health ministry, killed. – Reuters

Vietnam and Israel will sign a free trade agreement later this year, after completing seven years of negotiation, the Southeast Asian country’s government said on Monday. – Reuters

Israel’s antisemitism envoy said Sunday that she was fired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, citing her criticism of its planned judicial overhaul as a possible cause. – Associated Press

Israeli police shot and killed a man who they alleged tried to snatch an officer’s gun at an entrance to a Jerusalem holy site early Saturday, raising fears of further violence during a time of heightened tensions at the flashpoint compound. – Associated Press  

DeSantis on April 27 will head to Israel and deliver a keynote at a Celebrate the Faces of Israel event. Early in his tenure, DeSantis pledged to be the most “pro-Israel governor in America” and has visited Israel on at least one occasion. – Washington Examiner

The Foreign Ministry dismissed Israeli actress and pro-Israel advocate Noa Tishby after she publicly criticized the government’s judicial reform program. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian terror groups reacted with anger after footage emerged of prominent West Bank Palestinians hosting an iftar meal in recent days with several Israel Defense Force officers. – Times of Israel 

It has recently come out that Russia has allegedly committed crimes not just against Ukrainians but also against the soldiers in its own army, particularly women. Female Russian combat medics serving on the front lines in Ukraine are reportedly being used as “field wives,” according to Radio Free Europe. This is to say, they are being used as sex slaves by other Russian combat soldiers. – Jerusalem Post

During the interview, the former diplomat voiced his concerns regarding Israel’s relations with the United States, stating, “The thing that is most important for me to say is that this is a true alarm, we are losing the US. And we are a protectorate of the US, and we are in many ways trapped in this relationship.” – Arutz Sheva

Attorney Ran Bar Yoshafat, Deputy Director of Kohelet Policy Forum, a conservative think-tank which favors changes to Israel’s judiciary, spoke to Israel National News on Sunday, hours after leftist protesters broke into the Jerusalem offices of the organization. – Arutz Sheva

Yuval Levin writes: Israeli democracy could use the self-confidence of such long-term vision as well, as its ad hoc institutions have always felt like emergency measures. A crisis may seem like a difficult time for such forward-looking political reform. But on that front the American experience offers one more lesson: Opportunities for significant reform are created by crises of legitimacy. – New York Times

Patrick Kingsley, Ronen Bergman, and Hiba Yazbek write: Netanyahu has attempted a fraught balancing act since December, when he formed the most right-wing coalition in Israeli history with an alliance of ultranationalist and ultraconservative religious parties. […]But Mr. Netanyahu’s willingness to consider the idea of a national guard helmed by a hard-line minister has amplified growing doubts about whether he can continue to navigate an increasingly volatile situation and retain control. – New York Times

Dov S. Zakheim writes: Only if the Biden administration were to threaten such a harsh measure might Netanyahu back away from his plan and, at long last, put his nation’s welfare over his fealty to his right-wing allies and his desire to avoid imprisonment at any cost. It is long past time that he did so. – The Hill

Amos Harel writes: Some security officials involved in the matter said that despite the proliferation of illegal guns in the Arab community, the feelings of a loss of governance in the south and the fears of violent clashes between Jews and Arabs, preparations to address this must continue being based on police and Border Police forces. Their fear is that using unskilled soldiers could result in many casualties and destroy the state’s relationship with the Arab community for many years to come. – Haaretz

Anshel Pfeffer writes: Netanyahu has even less control over his coalition partners, who oversee most of the powerful ministries. Since he himself has no power to deliver his government’s main policy, he will have to allow them to pursue their own. If he tries to rein them in, he could lose them. And lose power. – Haaretz

Amir Tibon writes: In the United States, the question of an indicted presidential candidate –and perhaps future president – has never been dealt with before. Will the U.S. Supreme Court, like its Israeli counterpart, have to soon make a decision on this issue? If so, the justices will very likely look up relevant reading materials in Jerusalem. – Haaretz   

Amos Harel writes: Police will make great efforts in the coming days to prevent the infiltration of Jewish activists advocating a renewed Jewish temple in the area around the mosques on Temple Mount, in an attempt to hold a religious ritual. The defense establishment warns that if National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir tries to visit the area during Ramadan, it could lead to an explosion. – Haaretz 

Alon Ben-Meir writes: In his speech during this past week’s White House-hosted virtual Summit for Democracy, Netanyahu stated that US-Israel relations remain unshakable. That may be so but not as long as he is in power. Netanyahu is simply unfit to be the prime minister of Israel. He is a liar, a schemer and a fraud. If he has an ounce of integrity left in him, he should resign and save the country instead of stopping short of nothing, however evil, to save his skin. – Jerusalem Post

Ori Wertman writes: His irresponsible behavior in recent weeks and his failure to force a compromise on his coalition, both after the presentation of Herzog’s outline and after Gallant’s speech, will probably lead to the end of his reign and the end of his glorious political career. Netanyahu has lost the support of the mainstream Israeli public and from here, there is no way back. What a shame. – Jerusalem Post

Gadi Ezra writes: Now is the time for the ultimate test. The security system is already working with the countries of the region to prevent escalation. […]Responsible Israeli conduct that utilizes the Information Domain wisely, will be the key to reducing the chances of an outbreak during Ramadan. The key to that lies in the interface between the professional and political levels. – Jerusalem Post

Suki Friedman writes: Now that the protest has removed the immediate risk to Israeli democracy, the time has come for dialogue. The window of opportunity secured by the protest, from now until the summer, must be used to reach agreeable solutions to the fateful issues concerning the status of the Supreme Court, its relations with the Knesset, the manner in which judges are appointed and others. – Jerusalem Post


A women-run radio station in Afghanistan’s northeast has been shut down for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official said Saturday. – Associated Press 

In a highly unusual ruling, a state court judge on Thursday voided a U.S. Marine’s adoption of an Afghan war orphan, more than a year after he took the little girl away from the Afghan couple raising her. But her future remains uncertain. – Associated Press

Three British men are being held in Taliban custody in Afghanistan, including so-called “danger tourist” Miles Routledge, Sky News reported on Saturday. – Sky News 

The BBC has launched a new education programme for children in Afghanistan who are banned from school. It is aimed at children aged 11 to 16, including girls whose secondary education has been stopped by the ruling Taliban. – BBC

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told lawmakers that he has “no regrets” about how the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan was carried out, despite the quick toppling of the U.S.-backed government and the August 2021 suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 U.S. troops and at least 170 Afghan civilians. – Washington Times


Saudi Arabia is planning to invite Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an Arab League summit that Riyadh is hosting in May, three sources familiar with the plans said, a move that would formally end Syria’s regional isolation. – Reuters

The United States has decided to extend the deployment of the George H.W. Bush carrier strike group to provide options to policymakers after last week’s deadly attacks in Syria by Iran-backed forces, U.S. military officials said on Friday. – Reuters

A second Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps member who served as a military adviser in Syria has died after an Israeli air strike near Damascus, Iranian state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Israeli forces carried out air strikes on outposts in Syria’s Homs province in a raid early on Sunday, Syria’s defence ministry said, while Western intelligence sources said a series of air bases in central Syria where Iranian personnel are based were hit in the bombings. – Reuters

A car bomb caused the large blasts heard in the Mezzah suburb area west of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syrian state media said on Sunday. – Reuters

Raya Jalabi writes: With most of their economic rivals cast out, some say the presidential couple are now collecting assets simply to project power. “They certainly don’t need all the money they’ve collected for just themselves,” one Syrian businessman says. “I think they’re just buying up property and landmarks for prestige and dominance, to make sure everyone knows who’s in charge.” – Financial Times

Zvi Bar’el writes: The U.S. has stuck to its position that Israel has the right to defend itself and therefore doesn’t criticize Israeli attacks in Syria. However, the U.S. doesn’t want to be drawn into further skirmishes that could harm its troops and become a target for Iranian retaliation. In the tense atmosphere between Israel and the White House, even Israeli attacks in Syria, which are considered legitimate in the eyes of the Americans, may be used by Washington for political leverage. – Haaretz 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Because the new moves in the Gulf are ostensibly about “stability,” Iran’s role as a destabilizing influence will be in the spotlight. Syria, which was a major center of instability because of the power vacuum in the country, may be seeking a return to the Arab League, but can it ever return to the role it once played in the region? – Jerusalem Post

Ron Ben-Yishai writes: There are only 15 kilometers (9 miles) between the Dabaa airport, formerly a major Syrian military base, and the border with Lebanon, making it an important strategic asset for Hezbollah. If the Islamist terror group is responsible for dispatching a terrorist into Israel, attacking the airport could be seen as a direct Israeli response, which would be in line with the rules of the game. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attacks but has operated wisely to cause damage without giving Hezbollah an excuse to use its arsenal of rockets and missiles against Israelis during the volatile holiday season. – Ynet


The building of a Turkish opposition party in Istanbul was hit by two bullets overnight, its leader said on Friday, in what she described as an attempt to scare party members ahead of landmark presidential and parliamentary elections next month. – Reuters

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos will visit parts of neighbouring Turkey hit by a recent earthquake when he travels to meet his counterpart on April 4, amid longstanding rivalry between the two NATO countries. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said upcoming elections should be a “lesson” to the United States, his most explicitly anti-western comment of the campaign so far as he tries to consolidate nationalist support ahead of the vote. – Bloomberg

John R. Deni writes: Despite the positive implications of Finland’s entry into the alliance, one piece of the puzzle remains missing—Sweden. Both it and Finland applied to join at the same time last year, but Turkey and its sidekick spoiler Hungary remain holdouts. Most observers chalk up Turkish reluctance to temporary electoral politics, as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan faces an uphill re-election campaign. […]Paradoxically for Mr. Erdoğan, Finnish membership carries one more significant implication—the alliance gains yet another strong advocate of Swedish membership. – Wall Street Journal


Iraq’s federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have reached an initial agreement to restart northern oil exports this week, a KRG spokesman said on Sunday, and Baghdad will write to Turkey to request a resumption in pipeline flows. – Reuters

Iraq inaugurated an oil refinery in the central city of Karbala on Saturday, a project the government hopes will reduce its dependency on imports. – Agence France-Presse

Michael Knights writes: As the United States focuses on affirmative steps in its Middle East policy—making progress, not just fighting wars—the most consequential and beneficial thing it can do in Iraq is to help the country find peace with its largest ethnic minority, the Kurds. A historic budget deal and oil law between Baghdad and the KRI are closer than ever, so Washington should push hard to get it completed. It is possible that the pipeline will reopen quickly—even in the coming days—but if it does not, the United States must act decisively. This means extending its good offices to all non-spoiler parties to help get Iraq-Turkey and Baghdad-KRI talks back on track. – Washington Institute


Egypt and Syria are in advanced talks to restore full diplomatic relations more than a decade after ties broke down, people familiar with the matter say, as Arab states warm up to Damascus in fast-evolving developments that are reshaping the Middle East’s geopolitics. – Wall Street Journal

For much of the past decade, Saudi Arabia sent billions of dollars in aid to Egypt, bolstering a poorer regional ally seen as too strategically important to neglect. But recently, there has been a noticeable shift. Even as Egypt slides deeper and deeper into economic crisis, Saudi officials have sent a stern message: No more blank checks. – New York Times

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Saudi state news agency SPA said, as Cairo seeks financial inflows to ease pressure on its currency and bolster a faltering economy. – Reuters

Arabian Peninsula

The United Arab Emirates’ central bank on Friday said it will cancel the licence it granted last year to Russia’s MTS bank, which was placed under British and U.S. sanctions in February. – Reuters

Liron Zaslansky is no stranger to Israeli diplomacy. A veteran of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 44-year-old diplomat has served at no fewer than six missions from Europe to South America and the Arab world. But now, as Israel’s first-ever consul general in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, she is embarking on new territory – literally. – Jewish Insider

Bobby Ghosh writes: Things could still go wrong. If the recent diplomatic thaw between Iran and Saudi Arabia doesn’t yield the political and economic dividends the Houthis want, they may yet obstruct the UNDP operation. If the ship’s condition is worse than expected, the siphoning process could be even more complicated than anybody knows. The UN’s crowdfunding efforts are continuing. Keep your fingers crossed! – Bloomberg

Simon Henderson writes: All of these somewhat esoteric details will be watched intently in the region and—given the UAE’s tremendous wealth and active diplomacy—the wider world. Among the closest observers will be Israel (which signed the breakthrough Abraham Accords with the UAE in 2020) and the United States (which has a close but sometimes tense relationship with the Emirates). – Washington Institute

Saudi Arabia

A group of large oil producers led by Saudi Arabia said Sunday they would cut more than a million barrels of output a day starting next month, a surprise move that upset Washington and could raise crude prices amid concerns about the global economy. – Wall Street Journal

For years, Saudi Arabia has pressed the United States to help it develop a nuclear energy program, as Saudi leaders look beyond oil to power their country. […]Frustrated Saudi officials are now exploring options to work with other countries, including China, Russia or a U.S. ally. – New York Times

In the years since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman catapulted to power, it has been hard to find a controversy in the Middle East that doesn’t somehow involve the 37-year-old heir to the throne. Now he’s pivoting to his next audacious plan: Giving peace a chance. – Associated Press 

A group of family members of victims of the 9/11 terror attacks will hold an event in Atlanta next week to protest the Masters’ decision to allow LIV Tour golfers to play in the tournament. The LIV Golf Tour is an upstart rival league to the PGA owned by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund. Saudi Arabia has been accused of assisting the terrorists who committed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but it has repeatedly denied those accusations. – The Hill

Middle East & North Africa

A European Union official visiting Lebanon said Friday that the international body will increase its humanitarian assistance to the crisis-struck country, but that more significant long-term aid depends on reforms and a deal with the International Monetary Fund. – Associated Press

Jordan’s King Abdullah II expressed on Sunday a commitment to “safeguard” Jerusalem’s holy sites, in a meeting in Amman with Muslim ad Christian religious leaders from the city. – Agence France-Presse

Israel began operating the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan on a nearly full-time basis on Sunday, after over a year of pressure from the Biden administration. – Times of Israel

Former Jordanian Interior Minister Samir Habashneh, who has also served as Minister of Culture and Minister of Agriculture, said in a recent interview with Al Jazeera that Israel is transforming into a “Jewish ISIS” and pursues the “original” Zionist enterprise that views Jordan as an “inseparable part” of Israel’s territory. – Arutz Sheva 

Korean Peninsula

The navies of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan will hold two days of anti-submarine exercises starting Monday to better counter North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile capabilities, South Korea’s defence ministry said. – Reuters

Satellite images show a high level of activity at North Korea’s main nuclear site, a U.S. think tank reported on Saturday after the North Korean leader ordered an increase in production of bomb fuel to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal. – Reuters

North Korea’s Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, accused Ukraine of calling for nuclear weapons, state media KCNA reported on Saturday, basing her assertion on an online petition in that country that has drawn under 1,000 signatures so far. – Reuters

The supply-chain attack on the enterprise phone company 3CX used hacking code that “exactly matches” malware previously seen in attacks by a notorious North Korean group, according to new analysis. – The Record 

Patty-Jane Geller writes: Strengthening the GMD system would also help strengthen U.S. extended deterrence commitments to South Korea, which appear to be weakening as the Korean public—and even President Yoon Suk-yeol—discuss developing an indigenous nuclear capability. The better the United States can defend the homeland from a North Korean missile attack, the less North Korea is able to decouple the United States from its allies by threatening the homeland should the United States intervene on behalf of South Korea. The question of whether the United States would risk Los Angeles to save Seoul is moot if the United States can deny an attack on Los Angeles. – Heritage Foundation


When a deal to remake the port emerged three years ago, it set off alarm bells in Washington: Three Chinese state-owned companies had won a bid for a 50-year deal to build and operate a modern new ship-container terminal at Rijeka, a deep-water port with easy access to central Europe’s markets. – Wall Street Journal

With the help of Chinese courts, the Petrel 8 would not only survive its near-shipwreck, but be resold, repaired and returned to open waters in breach of sanctions. United Nations reports show that China has increasingly turned a blind eye to illicit North Korean activity, but the Petrel 8 is a rare, detailed example of exactly how that happens. – Washington Post

Thousands of miles from the cities that Russia is bombing in Ukraine, China has been studying the war. In an indirect struggle between two superpowers on the other side of the world, Beijing sees a source of invaluable lessons on weapons, troop power, intelligence and deterrence that can help it prepare for potential wars of its own. – New York Times

China cannot be a mediator in the war in Ukraine as it leans too much toward the invader Russia but it could play the role of facilitator to reach a peace deal with Moscow, the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on Friday. – Reuters

Ports in the rest of Asia will need significant investment to match the capacity of Chinese harbours, according to analysis that shows how western businesses could struggle to loosen ties with the world’s largest exporter. – Financial Times 

China launched a review into US chip manufacturer Micron Technology on “national security” grounds, as Beijing retaliates against Washington’s increasing curbs on Chinese access to semiconductor technology. – Financial Times 

When French President Emmanuel Macron meets with Xi Jinping in Beijing this week, he’ll try to convince his Chinese counterpart to change his stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while also clarifying a delicate trade relationship that’s become increasingly contentious. – Bloomberg

Bradley A. Thayer writes: But deterrence is also informed by political considerations like credibility and the willpower to face down opponents through the belief that the U.S. will act to honor its commitments when necessary. As with the military dimension of deterrence, these critical political aspects of deterrence are also in need of attention. They could be addressed by the Biden administration immediately through courageous strategic measures, should the administration choose to undertake them. – The Hill

Symington W. Smith writes: Through a combination of economic engagement, military assertiveness, and soft power projection, China is poised to reclaim its position as the center of the East Asian world. Russia’s transformation into a quasi-Chinese vassal state is a harbinger of a new geopolitical era, and marks the beginning of both an unofficial alliance between these two powers and the emergence of Pax Sinica. This transformation will have far-reaching implications for the region’s political and economic landscape, heralding a new era of Chinese dominance that will demand careful navigation by both regional and global players. – The National Interest

South Asia

Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi will appeal a two-year jail sentence in a defamation case brought against him by lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), local media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Eleven people were killed in a stampede during the distribution of food aid in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Friday, a health official said, one of several such incidents in recent weeks as the country’s economic crisis bites. – Reuters

Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said on Friday China had rolled over a $2 billion loan that matured last week, providing relief during the South Asian nation’s acute balance of payment crisis. – Reuters

Pakistan on Sunday denied rumors of trade with Israel following a Jewish businessman’s tweet about successfully exporting food samples to Jerusalem and Haifa. – Associated Press


Japan’s foreign minister raised concerns in Beijing about increasing Russian and Chinese joint military activity on a day when Tokyo formally opened its closest missile base to China. – Wall Street Journal

As Ms. Tsai, 66, makes one of her final visits to the United States before leaving office next year after two terms, she does so as one of the most important leaders in the world. Sitting at the center of the yawning divide between Beijing and Washington, she has steered Taiwan between the contradictory demands of the world’s two most powerful countries, one that claims the island under its authoritarian rule and another that views the democracy as one prong in a broader confrontation with China. – New York Times

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday the government will continue to strongly demand Beijing for an early release and consular visits for an Astellas Pharma (4503.T) employee detained in China. – Reuters

Philippine troops staged live-fire exercises with their U.S. counterparts in the Southeast Asian country’s largest military camp as part of army-to-army drills aimed at enhancing Manila’s defence capabilities against external threats. – Reuters

Central bank governors and finance ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Bali have agreed to strengthen cooperation between them to better withstand future global crises, chair Indonesia said on Friday. – Reuters

Australia said it has “deep concerns” about delays in the case of Australian journalist Cheng Lei who faced a closed door trial in Beijing on national security charges a year ago. – Reuters

The United States has sent officials to Taiwan to listen to concerns in the chip industry about the criteria for new U.S. semiconductor subsidies, Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said on Friday. – Reuters

At least eight civilians including children were killed in an air strike on a village in northwest Myanmar, according to a human rights group, ethnic minority rebels and media, the latest violence as the ruling military battles to consolidate power. – Reuters

Relations between China and Singapore have set a benchmark for countries in the region, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during talks in Beijing on Friday. – Reuters

Ten Chinese aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, normally an unofficial barrier between the two sides, Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Saturday, as Beijing continues its military activities near the island. – Reuters

The United States plans to open an embassy in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, the State Department said on Friday, in Washington’s latest move to boost its diplomatic presence in the Pacific to counter China’s growing influence. – Reuters

Malaysia is prepared to negotiate with China over a dispute between them in the South China Sea, state news agency Bernama reported on Monday, citing Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. – Reuters

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang urged Japan to refrain from supporting US efforts to suppress the Chinese semiconductor industry, while his counterpart pressed for the swift return of a Japanese citizen detained by Beijing. – Bloomberg

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced China for undermining the independence of Hong Kong’s courts, as the State Department released a new report condemning Beijing’s crackdown on dissent in the Asian financial center. – Bloomberg

Japan and China finished setting up a military hotline aimed at reducing tensions between the two largest economies in Asia, just ahead of a rare meeting of their foreign ministers in Beijing. – Bloomberg

An expected meeting between Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen this week in California is a careful exercise in standing up to Beijing’s threats while holding back from triggering a war in the Pacific. – The Hill

Attempting to ban Israeli athletes proved to be a costly own goal for Indonesia. On Wednesday, FIFA stripped Indonesia of hosting duties for the under-20 soccer World Cup due to Jakarta’s inability to guarantee Israel’s unhindered participation in the tournament. – Washington Examiner

The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, visited Ramallah on Thursday and met with the Palestinian Authority’s official in charge of foreign affairs, Riyad Al-Maliki. During the meeting, the two agreed that Azerbaijan would open a diplomatic office in Ramallah soon, according to the Anadolu news agency. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: While Jakarta should be roundly condemned for its unsporting behavior and discrimination against Israel, FIFA should be applauded for taking a firm position and not allowing this to stand. FIFA’s statutes explicitly ban discrimination of any kind against any country. The organization’s unyielding stand against this anti-Israel discrimination shows that it takes its own statutes seriously. This is commendable, and we hope other countries and governing sports bodies are watching and taking note. – Jerusalem Post

Hal Brands writes: The “Asia First” contingent is right about one thing: If the US conducts business as usual, then aid to Ukraine may come at Taiwan’s expense. Yet if the US conducts business as usual, it wouldn’t be able to defend Taiwan even if it abandoned Ukraine tomorrow. America faces real challenges in two theaters simultaneously. Its best chance to succeed involves using the stimulus provided by one to prepare for the other. – Bloomberg

Anna Borshchevskaya and Andrew Tabler write: More broadly, the South Caucasus remains a key logistical link between the West, the broader Middle East, and Central Asia. Russia has had an entrenched military presence there for over two centuries, and the Nagorno-Karabakh situation has become the longest-running conflict in the post-Soviet space. Achieving peace there would be a powerful geopolitical breakthrough that advances U.S. interests on multiple fronts. – Washington Institute

James Przystup writes: The Five Days in March, capped by Kishida’s visit to Ukraine, again underscored the growing convergence of security in Europe and the Indo-Pacific. At the same time, those Five Days in March also played into the three days in Moscow of the Putin-Xi Summit and offered a clear choice—an international order governed by authoritarianism and control or a future defined by freedom and openness. – The National Interest

Vasif Huseynov writes: Yet more needs to be done if Washington and its allies wish to ensure that this vital yet underrecognized region of the world remains stable. This is especially pertinent given the war in Ukraine: Azerbaijan is not only now an important alternative supplier of energy for the West, but also a critical link in East-West international trade. The best thing that the Biden administration can, and should continue doing, is playing a mediating role in the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process. Without such an agreement between those two countries, there can only be turbulent times ahead of the South Caucasus. – The National Interest


Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin suffered defeat in Sunday’s general election, days before the country was set to enter NATO, after a campaign dominated by the economic and security aftershocks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden is not expected to attend the coronation of King Charles III next month, with first lady Jill Biden planning to lead the delegation to the United Kingdom, according to people familiar with the plans. – Washington Post

A quarter of a century after unpalatable compromises ended decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland, some of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement hope that deal can help inspire a route out of the region’s near-permanent political crisis. – Reuters

Germany’s military cannot completely fill its existing gaps by 2030, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius was quoted as saying, as Berlin seeks to revamp its armed forces after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine following decades of neglect. – Reuters

Tariffs on Ukrainian agricultural imports may need to be reintroduced if an influx of products that is pushing down prices in European Union markets cannot be stopped by other means, the prime ministers of five eastern states said on Friday. – Reuters

King Charles laid a wreath in memory of the victims of the allied bombing in World War Two during a visit to Hamburg’s St Nikolai memorial, the remains of a church in Germany’s northern port city severely damaged by the air raids. – Reuters

Romanian police said on Friday they will extradite to the United States a U.S. citizen wanted there for allegedly inciting violence in favour of white supremacy at rallies in California. – Reuters

Former Kosovo president Hashim Thaci stands trial at a special court in The Hague on Monday for alleged war crimes during the 1998-99 insurgency that eventually brought independence from Serbia and made him a hero among compatriots. – Reuters

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck has arrived in Ukraine on a surprise visit, Germany’s energy and economy ministry said on Monday, in his first trip to the country since the outbreak of war. – Reuters

Bulgarians are voting in their fifth election in two years, seeking to end turmoil that has paralyzed the political system and put at risk European Union unity over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

The US and EU are negotiating a limited critical minerals deal that may put a salve on those simmering tensions but Washington’s protectionist agenda is still causing anxiety in Brussels, where the US needs help pressuring China. Meanwhile, the Biden administration remains frustrated with what it views as the EU’s rigid adherence to a rules-based trading system that’s no longer fit for purpose. – Bloomberg

Hungary is poised to miss a self-imposed Friday deadline to overhaul its judiciary as required by the European Union, further delaying the flow of €28 billion ($31 billion) of EU funds. – Bloomberg

Thousands of people took to the streets in Kosovo on Sunday holding signs and chanting slogans in support of former guerilla leaders on trial for their alleged roles in atrocities during the 1998-99 war for independence from Serbia. – Associated Press  

Two men accused of planning a Passover attack on a Jewish center in central Athens appeared in court Friday to answer to terrorism charges and were ordered to remain in pre-trial detention, authorities said. – Associated Press 

The eastern Mediterranean can provide a key energy corridor to Europe through a planned electricity cable connecting the power grids of Cyprus, Greece and Israel and a potential natural gas pipeline, the three countries’ top diplomats said Friday. – Associated Press 

A pro-Russia party campaigning against Bulgaria joining the euro is seeking to shake up the country’s politics in parliamentary elections, reflecting voters’ increasing disillusionment with corruption scandals and political bickering in Sofia. – Financial Times 

Ben Coates writes: Food and energy prices here, as in the rest of Europe, have increased since the start of the war in Ukraine. Inflation last year was more than 11 percent. The fight with the farmers was the latest in a series of legal battles that had led the Dutch government to cap the number of flights from the country’s largest airport and reduce speed limits on highways. When the government insisted on making another unpopular environmental policy a priority at a time when many people were struggling to pay their bills, it created a space that the BBB rushed to fill. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: For the U.S., then, the lesson is clear. EU leaders have the right to pursue whatever foreign policy they choose. But Republican presidential hopefuls must carefully assess whether America’s historic allies remain America’s closest allies. – Washington Examiner

Andrea Lorenzo Capussela writes: The priority now for western powers should be to support the programme for clean government and inclusive economic growth embraced by the reformers for whom Kosovars voted in 2021. Instead, the west is supervising a trial conducted by a flawed court. We must hope that anyone dealing with similar trials and institution-building efforts in Ukraine will be better prepared. – Financial Times 

Clea Caulcutt, Stuart Lau, and Jonathan Lemire write: A joint trip with the EU head sets him apart from Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor whom French officials criticized in private for hurrying to China for a day trip with Xi last year, focusing more on German rather than EU interests. With von der Leyen by his side, Macron may well hope to be seen as the EU’s leading voice. In the U.S., the French president had tried that tactic and obtained some concessions on America’s green subsidies plan for the bloc. – Politico

Lara Williams writes: Research shows that the best measures are transformational, rather than incremental. Done correctly, you can solve other issues with adaptation. Including trees in urban design, for example, can reduce the risk of flooding, help keep cities cool, improve well-being and health and reduce air pollution. That beats making flood barriers a bit higher. The British government is set to publish its third national adaptation program in mid-2023. Let’s hope it takes the CCC’s recommendations to heart, and learns from the experiences of those poorer countries that have been compelled to become exemplars. – Bloomberg

Reuf Bajrovic and Ajla Delkic write: The Biden administration needs to revisit the lessons from the past and re-think the current U.S. policy towards the Western Balkans. If history has taught us anything, it is that the United States should not abandon its principles for a temporary advantage. If the U.S. is seeking to win the hearts and minds of the people in the Balkans, it should maintain principled, consistent, and reliable policies that do not reward those that seek to undermine the core Western democratic values. President Biden’s administration should take (Senator) Biden’s advice about the Western Balkans. – The National Interest


Five years ago, the United States accused a wealthy Israeli diamond dealer of more than $1 billion worth of corrupt mining and oil deals in the Democratic Republic of Congo, saying they undermined economic growth and “the rule of law” in the impoverished African nation. Now, that businessman, Dan Gertler, has found a surprising ally in his quest to have his name removed from a U.S. sanctions list: President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo. – New York Times

The signing of an agreement to name a Sudanese civilian government and launch a new transition towards elections was delayed until April 6, a spokesman for the negotiation process said on Saturday. – Reuters

The French navy on Friday escorted a tanker to port in the Gulf of Guinea after pirates abandoned the vessel and kidnapped some of the crew, the ship’s owner told Reuters. – Reuters

Fourteen miners have died and more than 20 have been injured in a mine collapse in Sudan’s Northern state, a senior official in state-owned Sudanese Mineral Resources Company told Reuters on Friday. – Reuters

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Sunday he was suspending anti-government protests and was ready for talks after an appeal from President William Ruto, though he warned that demonstrations could restart in days. – Reuters

Britain’s interior minister Suella Braverman said she was convinced Rwanda was a safe country to resettle migrants who had arrived in Britain illegally but she declined to set any deadline for the first deportations to the country. – Reuters

Burkina Faso has expelled two French journalists working for newspapers Le Monde and Liberation, the two publications said on Sunday, accusing the authorities of seeking to stifle freedom of speech with an escalating crackdown on foreign media. – Reuters

Ghana’s parliament today approved new tax measures expected to raise an additional $340 million in revenue in a bid to meet requirements for the International Monetary Fund’s $3 billion bailout program. – Bloomberg

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema weighed in the unprecedented indictment of former President Trump, amid a visit with Vice President Kamala Harris. – The Hill

Vice President Harris on Friday visited the site of her grandfather’s home while in Zambia on a trip that she said had special significance for her. – The Hill

Karen Attiah writes: When it comes to “countering threats” to Africans’ lives and African democracy, it’s high time for the United States to respond to more than terrorism and economic maneuvering by China. Homophobia is also a dangerous threat — one the United States has been quite adept at exporting. – Washington Post

Harry Dempsey and Joseph Cotterill write: African miners pivoting to lithium expect it to be used in electric cars for years or even decades to come, saying that it would take time for a new battery technology to be widely adopted and for supply chains to adapt. In the meantime, they are in a race to develop new deposits not just with Chinese-owned rivals but also rivals in more established jurisdictions such as Australia and Canada. – Financial Times  

Michael Rubin writes: To counter China and Russia’s interests on the continent, the best way forward would be to guarantee free and fair elections in Liberia. Only when Liberia’s democracy is secure should the United States take its partnership to the next level, not only with a jobs-creating base, but also with an investment hub that can take Liberia’s economy into the next quarter of the 21st century. – 19FortyFive

Latin America

International investigators seeking to wrap up an exhaustive investigation into Mexico’s biggest human-rights scandal — the disappearance of 43 students — said Friday that the military is obstructing their efforts at a crucial moment. – Washington Post

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen completed a three-day trip to Guatemala on Sunday where she offered more cooperation with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei’s government, one of Taiwan’s few allies in the world. – Reuters

Venezuelan authorities have taken nine officials from state-owned metals conglomerate Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) – including from steel-maker subsidiary Sidor – into custody during corruption investigations, attorney general Tarek Saab said on Sunday. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Argentina’s fourth review under its $44 billion loan program on Friday, unlocking the disbursement of $5.4 billion to the indebted country, the lender said in a short statement. – Reuters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who last week had to cancel a visit to China after coming down with pneumonia, has rescheduled the trip to April 11-14, his office said Friday. – Agence France-Presse

United States

New York officials and Donald Trump’s legal team began making preparations for the former president to surrender Tuesday to face charges for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, as one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers mounted a public offensive against the indictment. – Wall Street Journal

Two senators who voted to convict former President Donald J. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — one a Republican and one a Democrat — have raised concerns that Mr. Trump has been improperly targeted by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, even before they have learned the details of the indictment. – New York Times

Michael Cohen’s lawyer says there is “substantial documentation” to prove former President Donald Trump’s guilt with regard to his indictment in Manhattan related to hush money payments. – Washington Examiner

Michael Rubin writes: The threats that loom when America is distracted are just as real, however. The United States needs to get its domestic house in order; it cannot sweep the issues peaking in the Trump trial under the rug. Still, the cost of inattention to international security, however, could be even more grave. – 19FortyFive


A far-right Twitter influencer was found guilty in a New York federal court Friday of spreading misinformation to Hillary Clinton supporters ahead of the 2016 presidential election, in a case involving a rare federal charge and a legal test of free speech on social media. – Wall Street Journal

Italian authorities have temporarily banned artificial-intelligence chatbot ChatGPT while they investigate the company behind it for allegedly violating data collection rules. – Washington Post

A rift is emerging in the once-solid Republican opposition to TikTok as a handful of GOP lawmakers break with their colleagues to reject an outright ban on the Chinese-owned app. – Washington Examiner

One of the main sponsors of a bill to rein in TikTok denounced critics as spreading misinformation after they criticized the legislation as a threat to privacy and free speech and compared it to the PATRIOT Act. – Washington Examiner

The push in Washington, D.C., to restrict or ban TikTok is meeting fierce resistance from critics who say that free speech is at stake. – Washington Examiner

The internet has been one of the greatest tools for the free flow of information in human history. But for our neighbors up north, it might not remain so useful for much longer — if Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gets his way. – Washington Examiner

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) is joining other members of ” the Squad” in opposing a ban on TikTok, as a debate over the video sharing app heats up on Capitol Hill. – The Hill

Microsoft debuted Exchange Server 27 years ago at a time when companies were just beginning to introduce email into the workplace. Allowing companies to run on-premise email servers, Exchange Server was an immediate game changer, helping to usher in a new era of digital communication. But it also brought grave new risks. – ​​CyberScoop

Farhad Manjoo writes: There are better ideas for safeguarding our data. We’ve got to require internet companies to install the equivalent of seatbelts. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an internet civil rights group, has called for a federal privacy law that, among other rules, would require companies to get users’ explicit permission to collect, use and share data; let people see what data companies have on them; make it easier for users to sue companies that misuse their data; let us move our information between platforms; and more tightly regulate the “data broker” industry. – New York Times

Ross Douthat writes: My assumption is that it’s the latter, that there are diminishing returns to any kind of intelligence as a tool of prophecy, that the world is not fashioned to be predicted in such detailed ways — any more than the current trawl-the-internet capacities of ChatGPT have enabled it to resolve current mysteries that don’t require prophecy. […]But it seems more likely that the power of real prophecy will escape A.I., and any doomsday scenario requiring perfect Machiavellian foresight from our would-be overlord isn’t terribly credible, no matter how super its forecasting becomes. – New York Times

Timothy P. Carney writes: What Brown’s argument and analysis should do is make you call for more and better research into the harms of social media. What sort of social media harms children? What sort of children are most harmed by social media? What specific harms are we talking about? What remedies or safeguards are likely to work? The lack of proof of harm is a good reason to demand more research. It’s not a good reason to give your child unfettered access to social media. – Washington Examiner

Noah Feldman writes: The takeaway, I think, is that all these forms of governmental regulation may be necessary for AI; and all have noteworthy flaws. But we need to start sorting through them — right now. – Bloomberg

James C. Goodale writes: Rep. Bowman did not mention the difficulties caused by Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which gives internet companies freedom from liability with respect to what they publish of material which is submitted to them. […]Rep. Bowman is absolutely correct in turning the attention from bashing TikTok to examining the totality of social media. Beating up on TikTok does not solve the problems of the internet. – The Hill

Zachary Karabell writes: China may represent a 21st century challenge to the United States and to a certain free world order. Meeting the challenge will require doubling down on the strengths of an open society. Banning TikTok is an act of weakness that will do nothing to make America more secure, and will in fact make it less so. – Politico


Three current and former former executives of a shipbuilder that constructs vessels for the U.S. Navy have been indicted on accounting fraud charges accusing them of falsely inflating the company’s reported earnings, federal prosecutors said. – Associated Press

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are banding together to urge the Department of Defense to comply with congressional requests for information, with Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) leading the charge. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. Space Force is moving forward with plans to buy two more Mobile User Objective System satellites, which provide secure narrowband communication for military users. – Defense News

A newly created senior cyber oversight position at the Department of Defense will likely remain unfilled until the end of the year at the earliest, as the Pentagon works with an outside group on the officeholder’s responsibilities and objectives. – Defense News

The Marine Corps’ top officer said Tuesday the service is working through “a few notable challenges” in fielding its amphibious combat vehicle, including several mechanical issues and a training deficiency that he said led to last year’s string of mishaps. – Military Times

A new bill introduced by a key lawmaker on the Senate Armed Services Committee aims to build out the Defense Department’s “human capital infrastructure” in tech and cyber operations by formalizing how the military organizes and takes advantage of service members’ technical skills, from coding to artificial intelligence. – Breaking Defense

The Navy has issued a $1.295 billion contract modification to HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding for the detail design and construction of LPD-32, the last San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock under the service’s current budget plans. – USNI News

Army Futures Command’s recent announcement of a new cross functional team to focus exclusively on “contested logistics” is just the most recent example of the service’s investment in planning for a long-distance fight — like one that could take place across the Pacific. – Breaking Defense

The U.S. Army is renowned for its logistics capability, but is acknowledging how much more challenging and contested it will be to move weapons, equipment and people from fort to port, and into theaters of operation. – Military Times

Tommy Tuberville writes: I will maintain my hold on nominations until the Defense Department changes its policy and follows the Constitution. An unprecedented change to the military’s abortion policy ought to go before the people’s elected representatives in Congress. No matter what Mr. Schumer says, I’m going to keep my word. – Wall Street Journal

Aleksandra Gadzala Tirziu writes: While the PLA Navy is expected to boast 400 ships by 2025, America presently trails with less than 300. President Biden’s defense plan has set as a target 350 manned vessels by 2045 – by that time America might well have lost, with the airstrip in Kiribati long militarized and the CCP on our doorstep. – New York Sun

Miles Smith writes: Throughout its history, the U.S. Navy has acted as a relatively responsible force for maintaining the freedom of the seas — not merely for itself but also its trading partners and allies. Unless Americans would prefer China rule the seas, the United States should maintain its naval superiority. – Washington Examiner

Peter O’Rourke and Merrie Spaeth write: Members of Congress from both parties should not stand for any VA decision, willful or not, to ignore the law or portions of it. VA employees must be held to a high standard and employment at the agency should be an honor, not a right. Our veterans deserve a Department of Veterans Affairs that holds itself increasingly accountable and does not revert to failed ways of its past. – The Hill

Julia van der Colff writes: Think of it this way: The U.S. arsenal is like an investment portfolio in desperate need of a risk management strategy. By investing in new manufacturers and companies capable of producing these critical low-cost systems, the Department of Defense can diversify and hedge against the risks of the myriad of problems facing the defense industrial base today — ensuring liquidity, longevity, and material returns on the battlefield. – War on the Rocks

Long War

Russia has protested to the American-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group about “provocative actions” by U.S. armed forces in Syria, Tass news agency said on Friday. – Reuters

A U.S. citizen who moved his family to Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. – Associated Press

Israeli security forces operating in Samaria killed two terrorists and seriously wounded a third, after a gun battle broke out in the Palestinian Authority-administered city of Shechem (Nablus) Monday morning. – Arutz Sheva

Michael Rubin writes: More obtuse is the idea that Somaliland should unilaterally withdrawal from a district the US and international community have recognized as Somaliland’s for more than 60 years, all the more so since Al Shabaab has infiltrated the insurgent forces seeking to carve out their own state in the region. Somalilanders would be right to ask if the US would counsel withdrawal in the face of the Islamic State’s 2014 advance in Iraq and Syria, or its more recent efforts in Mozambique. […]If the State Department’s Africa Bureau does not want to make the same mistake three times, it is time for a new approach in the Horn of Africa. – American Enterprise Institute