Fdd's overnight brief

April 9, 2021

In The News


With Iran nuclear talks, albeit indirect, once again underway, some of the faces at the bargaining table remain the same, but circumstances have changed drastically since the 2015 nuclear deal came into force. – Washington Post

Iran and the five world powers that remain in a foundering 2015 nuclear deal plan to hold their second formal meeting of the week on Friday to take stock of efforts to bring the United States back on board. – Associated Press

The State Department on Thursday sought to downplay expectations over indirect negotiations for the U.S. and Iran to rejoin the Obama-era nuclear deal that former President Trump pulled out of in 2018. – The Hill

As world powers are stepping up efforts to return to a nuclear deal with Iran, the Islamic Republic is testing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in violation of the agreement, Israel revealed this week. – Arutz Sheva 

Iran will “definitely” respond to a recent attack on an Iranian ship in the Red Sea, a spokesman for the Islamic Republic’s military said Thursday. – Times of Israel 

Reducing pressure on Iran will not moderate its position, a senior Israel official said Thursday, after the US announced it was prepared to lift some sanctions. – Jerusalem Post

The current indirect negotiations between the US and Iran – with England, France, Germany, China and Russia shuttling between the two sides – is a tale of three leaders on different paths. – Jerusalem Post

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) has issued a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the social media app Clubhouse Paul Davison over concerns it presented Iranian foreign minister Javid Zarif a wide platform to express his “propaganda.” – Fox News

As Iran sent three gasoline shipments to fuel-starved Venezuela in recent months in defiance of U.S. sanctions, the Biden administration apparently did nothing to stop the tankers, signaling a reticence to enforce the sanctions and a savviness by the anti-U.S. allies in evading them. – VOA News

A.J. Caschetta writes: Ultimately, Iran doesn’t need to pay professors such as Kaveh Afrasiabi to do its messaging under the guise of neutral credentialed historians and researchers. When it comes to propagating myths about Iran’s moderation and preaching about the evils of America’s Iran policy, there are many credentialed historians and researchers apparently willing to do the work for modest academic wages. – The Hill

Amos Harel writes: As usual, the question is the extent to which this continuous, successful operation serves the final goal of harming Iran’s capabilities and standing, and what risk it entails for Israel. The two Iranian counterattacks were largely symbolic, causing little damage and striking vessels that are only indirectly linked to Israel. But the potential for future damage is far greater, because almost all of Israel’s trade is by sea and involves lengthy routes that are very difficult to protect effectively. – Haaretz 


Turkey quickly summoned Massimo Gaiani, Italy’s ambassador in Ankara, to its foreign ministry after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi labeled Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a dictator. – Bloomberg

Steven A. Cook writes: Erdogan has long been successful at turning the tables on his opponents. The Ergenekon plotters were jailed, Abdullah Gul became president despite the military’s efforts to block him, and Gulenists are on the run. Perhaps the admirals’ letter will be another one of these affairs that gives Erdogan a political boost even as his and the AKP’s rule decays and deteriorates further into coercion and corruption, proving, as the old saying goes, it is better to be lucky than good. – Foreign Policy

Ryan Gingeras writes: In this regard, Turkey may be opening a new chapter in its long, troubled history of civil-military relations. Instead of seizing TV stations by force, Turkish officers have been invited into them en masse, potentially giving the military new opportunities to influence politics in more subtle ways. If they keep their commentary confined to cheerleading government policies, Erdoğan stands to benefit from their new activism. But he clearly seems concerned that they might not be content with playing a supporting role. – War on the Rocks


Congressional Republicans put a hold on $75 million of the newly reinstated US aid to the Palestinians, two sources in Washington confirmed on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

May 19 has been set for the election to the Palestinian Authority parliament, but much remains unclear, including whether it will actually take place at all. Theoretically, east Jerusalem Arabs will vote through their neighborhood post offices. – Jerusalem Post

Israel will tell the International Criminal Court it does not recognise the authority of the tribunal, which is planning to investigate possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday. – Reuters

Palestinian refugees on Thursday welcomed the U.S. announcement that it will renew humanitarian aid, marking a break with the Trump era. – Reuters

Former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley slammed the Biden administration’s decision to resume funding the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency on Thursday, calling it a waste of tax dollars and an obstacle to peace. – Algemeiner

Udi Shaham writes: It is still unclear if, and in what form, Austin’s visit will affect the nature of this campaign. It was suggested that the Americans were not satisfied with the Israeli-attributed actions in recent days – especially with the JCPOA talks going on. […]It is believed that the American defense establishment is a channel to maintain effective relations between the two countries even in times of diplomatic disagreements. Austin’s visit could set the tone for the near future, and reflect the administration’s expectations from Israel. – Jerusalem Post


The dueling visits—as Jordan has struggled to contain the pandemic and fix a sputtering economy—turned out to be one of the last straws in a long-running rivalry between the king and his younger half-sibling, according to people on both sides of the split, in a nation that is an important U.S. ally. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Thursday and “reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to its strategic partnership with Jordan,” a U.S. State Department spokesman said. – Reuters

Lazar Berman writes: Israel views Jordan as a reliable buffer against hostile states to the east — once Iraq, now Iran. Israel’s border with Jordan, and the Israel-controlled frontier between the West Bank and Jordan, has remained an oasis of quiet even as Iran’s armed proxies entrench themselves from Baghdad to Beirut, and jihadist groups grow in the Sinai. [..]A weakened regime in Amman could create a power vacuum that would allow terrorist groups to establish a foothold all along Jordan’s border with Israel and the West Bank. – Times of Israel


The Saudi-led coalition destroyed a Houthi explosives-laden drone fired in the direction of the southern Saudi city of Jazan, state TV reported on Thursday. – Reuters

Jon Gambrell writes: Losing the Saviz would be a blow to Iran’s efforts to project power into the Red Sea and the ongoing war in Yemen. […]That suggests the shadowy war at sea will continue. And while it hasn’t seen any reported deaths, a string of attacks in the 1980s on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf did lead once to a one-day naval battle between Iran and the U.S. Any further incidents risk a further escalation as diplomats negotiate. – Associated Press

Iman Saleh writes: In February, President Biden announced that he would end “all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales.” But neither Biden nor Congress has taken any concrete steps to end the support. […]Ending U.S. support for the blockade will single-handedly provide relief and restore hope for millions of Yemenis whose lives hang in the balance. We demand that the Biden administration act immediately. – Washington Post

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt won’t release the massive container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week in March until its owners agree to pay as much as a billion dollars in compensation, according to local authorities, as they investigate how the Ever Given got stuck and shut down one of the world’s most important waterways. – Wall Street Journal

An Egyptian court sentenced Mahmoud Ezzat, the former acting leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, to life in prison on Thursday, months after he was detained in a Cairo apartment. – Reuters

France and the European Union are putting together proposals that could see asset freezes and travel bans imposed on Lebanese politicians to push them finally to agree on a government to rescue their country from economic collapse. – Reuters

Evidence is emerging to suggest that very grave violations of human rights are taking place in the Afrin area, on a systematic basis. The situation remains largely ignored by both the global media and Western governments. – Jerusalem Post

Robert Satloff writes: But rather than slump under the burden of this unfinished agenda, let’s take a moment this Yom Hashoah to note the good news story emerging from a region that rarely exports good news. Let us re-commit to the important work of fighting Holocaust denial and distortion in the Arab world by recognizing that a glass that was once bone dry is now half-full. That remarkable fact alone should provide incentive for the next twenty years of effort. – Times of Israel

Kenneth R. Rosen writes: Even so, time is of the essence when it comes to al-Hawl. Repatriating children in particular should be a priority for countries with vested interest in their national security. […]Likewise, increased humanitarian assistance to al-Hawl given the dangers faced by its refugee residents is vital to addressing the living situation there. As the Syrian Human Rights Observatory notes, the current practice of doing nothing inflames an already “clear and present danger to everyone.” – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

Iran released a South Korean oil tanker that it had detained for three months, Seoul said, signaling a potential end to a diplomatic quarrel over frozen bank funds. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea unveiled a prototype of its first domestically developed fighter jet on Friday and President Moon Jae-in hailed the KF-X as the future backbone of the air force and a step toward the U.S. ally’s greater military independence. – Reuters 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for waging another “arduous march” to fight severe economic difficulties, for the first time comparing them to a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. – Associated Press


The Biden administration on Thursday barred U.S. companies from supplying Chinese entities it said were building supercomputers to help Beijing develop new weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear devices. – Wall Street Journal

In a locked-down border city abutting Myanmar, Chinese authorities are springing into crisis mode to stamp out an uptick in coronavirus cases and seal the porous frontier amid fears that refugees could be streaming in to escape fighting in post-coup Myanmar, bringing with them covid-19 and instability. – Washington Post

While the anger in China against Western brands has been palpable and enduring on social media, the sight of performers turned into rapidly moving blobs of censored shoes and clothing has provided rare, albeit unintentional, comic relief for Chinese viewers amid a heated global dispute. – New York Times

At a meeting at the Portuguese unit of Macau’s public broadcaster TDM on March 10, two senior journalists addressed about 25 staff, reading new editorial rules requiring them to promote “patriotism, respect and love” for mainland China. – Reuters

Leaders of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced major legislation on Thursday to boost the country’s ability to push back against China’s expanding global influence by promoting human rights, providing security aid and investing to combat disinformation. – Reuters

Beijing blamed the United States on Thursday for tensions over Taiwan after a U.S. warship sailed close to the Chinese-claimed island, asking rhetorically whether China would sail in the Gulf of Mexico as a “show of strength”. – Reuters

A year into a global pandemic, there has been no credible study into how it began, according to an international group of more than 20 scientists who have released an open letter blaming the Chinese government and drawing the indignation of China’s Foreign Ministry. – Fox News

On March 1, 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III held his first meeting with members of the Pentagon’s new China Task Force. According to the U.S. Department of Defense website, the task force will finish its work in about four months, and “at the end, DoD officials want to provide Austin with specific and actionable recommendations and milestones to meet the China challenge.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Melissa Chan writes: Yet even when Uyghurs are free of China’s territory, they do not feel safe from its reach. Those who have left Xinjiang face imprisonment if they return home and persistent insecurity abroad. Some have been hounded and threatened with deportation by immigration officials of countries seeking to improve ties with Beijing. [..]Not having the correct paperwork prevents Uyghurs and other migrants from accessing crucial social services such as education and health care. And, if anything, prospects for Uyghurs in Turkey are getting worse. – The Atlantic 

Hal Brands writes: The scary reality of U.S.-China relations is that we may soon enter a period of even higher tensions. Overconfident autocrats who think the world is moving in their direction can be very dangerous. Desperate autocrats who suddenly realize that their window is closing can be more dangerous still. – Bloomberg


Human Rights Watch (HRW) says women should be “full participants” in the upcoming conference in Turkey meant to give new impetus to the Afghan peace process. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Ashley Jackson and Antônio Sampaio write: Peace talks have destabilized political dynamics on the government side, and encroaching Taliban influence into urban centers threatens to deprive the government of its last strongholds. A weakening central government has emboldened both the Taliban and various strongman factions. But the alternative to attempting reform is far worse: a continued deterioration of urban security and a further weakening of the central government. With the insurgency in control of the majority of Afghanistan’s rural areas, that leaves Afghanistan’s cities as the last and potentially final battleground in the Afghan war. – War on the Rocks

Ryan Baker and Jonathan Schroden write: These are real costs and risks that are a large part of what makes getting out of Afghanistan on a short timeline — whether it be May 1 or a few months down the road — so hard. The “tactical reasons” Biden cited during his press conference are thus not ones of logistical capacity, strictly speaking. Rather, they are questions of how much he is willing to pay, and risk, to overcome the logistical difficulties and associated costs of a safe and orderly withdrawal. Given the president’s comments to date, it seems he prefers a timeline of several months to withdraw from Afghanistan, not several weeks. – War on the Rocks

South Asia

India’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a plea to stop the government from deporting to Myanmar some 150 Rohingya Muslims police detained last month, paving the way for them to be sent to a country where hundreds have been killed following a military coup. – Reuters

While things may have cooled down between India and China on the ground, the cyber threat posed by the Dragon is still very much in play. – Business Insider

Rights advocates, opposition politicians, and lawyers have opposed draft changes to the Pakistani criminal law that recommend a two-year prison sentence or more than $3,200 in fines for anyone who “intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames” the country’s military. – Gandhara

The United States on April 7 imposed sanctions on a Pakistani national and a smuggling organization it said he runs to help people migrate illegally from Pakistan and Afghanistan into the United States. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The visit of a Pakistani parliamentary delegation to Afghanistan has been scrapped just as the plane carrying the officials was about to land in Kabul. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


An information blackout under Myanmar’s military junta worsened Thursday as fiber broadband service, the last legal way for ordinary people to access the internet, became intermittently inaccessible on several networks. – Associated Press

At least 11 demonstrators were killed in clashes with security forces in a town in northwest Myanmar after truckloads of troops arrived to quell a protest against the ruling military junta, domestic media reported on Thursday. – Reuters

Malaysia on Thursday defended a meeting between its ambassador to Myanmar and a representative from the military government, after criticism that it was recognition of the junta amid a brutal crackdown on protesters. – Reuters

Struggling to crush the two-month old protest movement against a coup, Myanmar’s military rulers are cracking down on the country’s best-known actors and celebrities to block any support for the opposition campaign. – Reuters

Manila and Beijing are locked in an unusually open and sour dispute over what the Philippines calls the “swarming and threatening presence” of more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels around a reef in the South China Sea. – Financial Times

Laos has appointed a former schoolmate of Chinese president Xi Jinping to serve as a top aide to the south-east Asian nation’s new leader. – Financial Times

Azerbaijan has launched two days of joint military exercises with Turkish forces, saying the drills were aimed at “improving interaction” between the two countries’ armed forces. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

William Sposato writes: China has said it wants to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement based on the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership that was meant to encircle China, only to be abandoned by Trump but rescued by Japan. To join, it will need to negotiate with each of the current members, including Japan and Australia. Those talks should be interesting, especially now that few harbor the rosy 2001 notion of a “westernizing China” when it gained entry into the World Trade Organization. Today, its goals and plans to get there are much clearer. – Foreign Policy

Lucas Myers writes: Civil war is not inevitable, but the possibility is rising. Despite the Tatmadaw’s efforts to drive a wedge between the EAOs and CRPH, coordination between those groups would represent a dire threat to the military’s continued power. Myanmar’s military knows that it has crossed the Rubicon, and it is likely to do everything to stay in power. The possibility of civil war, and with it catastrophe for the people of Myanmar and regional stability, thus seems to be in the cards. – Foreign Policy

Tom Rogan writes: At least until Duterte leaves office, China will continue to exploit him. But Beijing will hope that the corrosive impact of this crisis sustains far beyond Duterte’s premiership. Again, this is to the South China Sea what the Nazis’ 1936 seizure of the Rhineland was to European security: a risky military test carrying profound political implications. Genocide, it seems, is not the only area in which China finds an example from the Nazis. – Washington Examiner 


Russia has more troops on Ukraine’s eastern border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Crimea and backed separatist territory seizures, and the United States is concerned by growing “Russian aggressions,” the White House said on Thursday. – Reuters

Russia’s military build-up near its borders with Ukraine has nothing to do with any domestic issues including the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday. – Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to pull back the Kremlin’s military build-up near the border with Ukraine, while he in turn accused Kyiv of “provocative actions” in the conflict region. – Reuters

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia had to be ready for the worst-case scenario in terms of U.S. sanctions because of what it described as Washington’s hostile and unpredictable policy. – Reuters

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday it was moving more than 10 navy vessels, including landing boats and artillery warships, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea to take part in exercises, Interfax news agency reported. – Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he was visiting eastern Ukraine on Thursday, following a rise in tension with Russia over a long-running conflict. – Reuters

Russia’s top diplomat on Thursday described U.S. policy toward Moscow as “dumb” and warned that his country will retaliate if Washington imposes new sanctions. – Associated Press

Russia will likely remain a “disruptive power” for the next two decades, but its global influence may decline in the face of numerous political, economic, and societal headwinds, according to a U.S. intelligence report released on April 8. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Moscow City Court has remanded Kira Yarmysh, spokeswoman of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, under house arrest. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Lawyers based in Russia and in parts of eastern Ukraine held by Moscow-backed separatists have flooded the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with thousands of complaints against Kyiv for alleged rights violations in the conflict-ridden Donbas, in what appears to be a coordinated campaign to tar Ukraine, an investigation by RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service has found. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Biden administration is reportedly poised to send Navy ships into the Black Sea in a show of force supporting Ukraine amid a buildup of Russian troops along that country’s border and Moscow’s further militarization of the Crimean Peninsula. – Washington Examiner 

Editorial: Western governments will hope that their diplomatic flurry will deter Mr. Putin — but they must be prepared if it does not. The United States, which has helped Ukraine with military equipment and training, should be prepared to deliver further materiel if Ukrainian forces come under attack. And Western governments should have fresh sanctions ready: Among other things, any aggression should spell the end of the already controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Mr. Putin must not be allowed to use war against Ukraine as a way to escape from his deepening domestic political trouble. – Washington Post

Leonid Bershidsky writes: All the talk about China as the second superpower and the U.S.’s only credible rival must be a huge irritant to Putin: Little is more important to him than not being slighted or dismissed. By shifting some troops around, he isn’t just reminding Ukrainians that they shouldn’t even dream of a military solution to the problem of lost territories; he’s also inviting the West to weigh its options in case he does decide to attack in earnest. […]Putin still believes Russia can be one of the poles in a multipolar world rather than an afterthought. Yet apart from escalation in and around Ukraine, he has few cards to play to back up that ambition. – Bloomberg


Sitting on vast, untapped reserves of uranium and rare-earth minerals, Greenland holds the keys to massive wealth. But many Greenlanders have grave doubts about whether they should allow the world to exploit those resources, given the risk that mining could pose to the Arctic territory’s fragile environment. Washington Post

Dozens of police officers have been injured in more than a week of unrest in Northern Ireland, where anger over the effects of Brexit on the U.K. region is intersecting with crime and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. – Wall Street Journal

Britain will allow Myanmar’s ousted ambassador to stay on while he decides his future after being locked out of his own embassy, it said on Friday. – Reuters

The United States said on Thursday the Good Friday Agreement protecting peace in Northern Ireland must not become “a casualty” of Brexit after more than a week of violence fueled in part by frustration among pro-British unionists over post-Brexit trade barriers. – Reuters

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this week will meet with key U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East amid U.S. tensions with Russia and indirect nuclear talks with Iran. – The Hill

The closely linked Russian and Belarusian currencies have weakened sharply amid an ongoing slew of seemingly unrelated political and diplomatic challenges for the two post-Soviet neighbors. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A senior U.S. State Department official has said it is time for Ukraine to tackle corruption and weak institutions, including going after Dmytro Firtash, whose natural-gas holdings have made him one of the country’s most notorious, and powerful, oligarchs. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Oleksii Reznikov writes: President Biden was right to call the pipeline “a bad deal for Europe.” As the project inches closer to completion, Ukrainians can’t help but recall Mitterrand’s words from nearly 30 years ago. Ukraine was tricked, just as the French president predicted. Let us not repeat history but learn from it. We must come together and reject Nord Stream 2 once and for all. – Wall Street Journal

Ladislav Charouz writes: Havel left behind a pro-Western and Russia-sceptical foreign policy legacy that his successors love to trash, partly out of conviction and partly, it sometimes seems, out of sheer spite. In 2023, when a new president is elected, the Czech Republic will have another chance to decide whether to support Russia’s preferred candidate or someone new with a greater enthusiasm for NATO and the EU. At the moment though, credible pro-Western candidates are scarce. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Michael Rubin writes: Diplomacy, after all, is not talk for talk’s sake, but knowing that walking away can be as important as engaging. To walk away does not mean failure; rather, it succeeds when adversaries are ready to engage sincerely. Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken seek to model American diplomacy after Europe’s, but, to be successful, they must recognize that Europe today is full of Michels who are obtuse in the face of a challenge and are willing to throw colleagues under the bus. Let diplomacy succeed. But let’s not pretend effective diplomacy means behaving like Europe. – Washington Examiner


One army officer and 10 soldiers were killed in Nigeria’s Benue state in what a spokesman said was an unprovoked attack on Thursday. – Reuters

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan expressed U.S. concerns over the crisis in the Tigray region in a call with Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister, Demeke Mekonnen, the White House said on Thursday. – Reuters

Chad’s President Idriss Deby, an ally of Western nations in the fight against Islamist militants, is poised to extend his three-decade rule in Sunday’s election despite mounting signs of popular discontent with his leadership. – Reuters

Andres Schipani and David Pilling write: Every transition in Ethiopia since the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974 has been violent, say analysts. Hopes that Abiy could engineer a peaceful change of guard appear to have failed. Now, as elections approach, Abiy needs to push his vision of a united country. “The election is consequential yet also challenging,” he told parliament last month. – Financial Times

Tim Hirschel-Burns writes: Talon’s strategy is canny. He likely wagered that few will look beneath the surface in a country with as small an international profile as Benin, particularly as long as he allows a semblance of opposition and a favorable investment climate. A couple countries may release vague statements alluding to democratic norms and human rights, but they can be expected to quickly drop the subject. It would be a shame if Talon were proven right. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

The Covid-19 pandemic has deepened global inequality, fueled political polarization in many countries and handed authoritarian regimes a pretext to crack down on domestic political opposition, according to a new U.S. intelligence report that says the virus’s impacts could linger for many years. – Wall Street Journal

A man who was photographed carrying a large Confederate flag through the halls of the U.S. Capitol during the deadly events of Jan. 6 and arrested days later was indicted on Thursday on five additional criminal counts by a grand jury. – The Hill

The United States announced its withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies on May 22, 2020; this withdrawal took effect on November 22, 2020. – USNI News

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Plan District of Columbia (CHPDC) suffered a data breach carried out by what it described as a “foreign cybercriminal” group in January that potentially impacted sensitive data, the company told customers this week. – The Hill

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele refused to meet with a visiting senior U.S. diplomat this week over what he sees as a pattern of slights from Democrats and the Biden administration, according to two aides of the Central American leader. – Associated Press

Daniel F. Runde and Linnea Sandin write: Although the U.S. footprint in the Caribbean has traditionally been light, it could stand to make a mark by leveraging its positions in international financial institutions (IFIs) to help the Caribbean confront its ongoing challenges with sustainable debt and access to concessional funding. […]Finally, building alliances with the Caribbean diaspora at home should form the basis for such U.S. initiatives. The consequences of failing to engage the Caribbean are clear: China will emerge as the preferred partner in the region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

David Ignitus writes: Seeking a pragmatic balance between values and interests is a perennial concern of U.S. foreign policy. Biden’s 21st-century understanding of the limits of U.S. military power, combined with a traditional emphasis on U.S. engagement, may differentiate him from predecessors Donald Trump and Barack Obama, who struggled with the same dilemma but had less experience. – Washington Post


The U.S. Space Force will reorganize its acquisitions organization this summer under the new Space Systems Command, the still nascent service announced Thursday. – C4ISRNET

Russian and Chinese threats to use nuclear weapons in Europe or across the Taiwan Strait pose “stark real-world problems” in defining deterrence as the United States modernizes its strategic forces, security experts agreed Wednesday. – USNI News

A second medium-sized unmanned surface vessel prototype has delivered to the Navy, builder Leidos announced this week. – USNI News

The US Air Force (USAF) on 26 March completed the Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie’s first release from its internal weapons bay, and its sixth flight test. – IHS Janes

Long War

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Thursday that the use of improvised explosive devices is increasing as conflicts become more urbanized and armed groups proliferate, and he urged nations to work together to curb the threat from those weapons as well as land mines and other remnants of war. – Associated Press

A photo of murdered French teacher Samuel Paty was found in a search of the home of an 18-year-old woman, identified as the main suspect in an earlier possible Islamist attack plot in Beziers, the anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said. – Reuters

Twelve people, possibly foreigners, were found beheaded following an attack claimed by Islamic State on the northern Mozambique town of Palma, a local police commander told the state broadcaster. – Reuters

Laura Courchesne and Brian Mcquinn write: The West’s fixation on the Islamic State and its use of social media (followed more recently by a shift to far-right extremists) ignores how the vast majority of armed groups across the world use social media. Most armed groups use social media away from global attention, avoiding action by the U.S. companies or Western governments. The next Islamic State will not use the same online playbook. Anticipating future threats in the online environment requires monitoring armed groups’ emerging social media strategies adapted to avoiding detection while targeting niche audiences. – War on the Rocks