Fdd's overnight brief

February 13, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Rafah, on Gaza’s southern edge, is now a city of tents, and the epicenter of one of the worst humanitarian disasters in years. Yet a deadly mix of war, politics and logistics is choking off emergency aid, and the scale of suffering has raised international pressure on Israel ahead of an anticipated offensive. – Wall Street Journal

Israel is proposing the creation of sprawling tent cities in Gaza as part of an evacuation plan to be funded by the U.S. and its Arab Gulf partners ahead of an impending invasion of a city in the strip’s south which Israel says is the last bastion of Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Palestinians in the city of Rafah, on the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, awoke Monday to the sound of explosions. It was 1:50 a.m., but it looked like daytime outside. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli strikes that lit up the night in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah on Monday sent pulses of fear through the 1.4 million Palestinians for whom that strip of land has become a shelter of last resort. – Washington Post

The head of the U.N. agency that delivers most aid to people in Gaza expressed guarded optimism Monday that the European Union will provide it with a vital financial lifeline in coming weeks, although divisions within the EU threaten to derail the move. – Associated Press

US President Joe Biden said he’s pushing for a six-week pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas to allow for the release of hostages, saying those conditions could lay the groundwork for broader peace. – Bloomberg

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah should not affect negotiations toward a deal between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas on the release of hostages, a U.S. official said on Monday, ahead of expected further talks between spy chiefs in Egypt. – Reuters

Canada on Monday joined those urging Israel not to mount a ground invasion against Gaza’s southern Rafah neighborhood, saying such an attack would be devastating for Palestinians. – Reuters

Israel should stop and think seriously before taking any further action in Rafah, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Monday, after airstrikes in the southern Gaza city that is the last refuge of about a million displaced civilians. – Reuters

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said on Monday he was deeply concerned about reports of bombardment and potential ground incursion by Israeli forces in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. – Reuters

While President Joe Biden has reportedly been calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an “asshole” behind the scenes for refusing to change Israel’s military tactics, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz publicly threw his support behind expanding IDF maneuvers in the southern Gaza city of Rafah on Monday, despite the president’s public concerns over such an operation. – Jewish Insider

Will Monday morning’s daring military operation at Rafah, where two Israeli hostages were rescued, change the dynamics of negotiations over the release of 134 hostages taken by Hamas on October 7 who remain in various Gaza dungeons? – New York Sun

Police officers caught a group of illegal residents “red handed” stealing weapons from a military base in the south of the country and arrested them, Israeli Police reported on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu selected Ofir Akunis, a minister in his Likud party, as the next consul general in New York. – Jerusalem Post

A commander and two soldiers were killed fighting Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip, the military said Tuesday as Israel’s war against the terror group stretched into its 130th day with fresh truce talks on the horizon amid a looming push into the southern Gazan city of Rafah. – Times of Israel

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Monday that Cairo is committed to upholding its peace treaty with Israel, amid reports in recent days that the agreement may be in jeopardy if the military proceeds with an offensive on the Gazan city of Rafah, abutting the border with Egypt. – Times of Israel

Following US pressure, Israel will be sending a delegation to Cairo on Tuesday for talks on a framework that will see the release of hostages and achieve an extended pause, according to Hebrew media reports. – Agence France-Presse

The IDF on Tuesday said that three of its force were killed from an explosive device placed in a building, in the fighting in Khan Younis. They were all members of the reserves. – Ynet

The Be’er Sheva District Court on Monday lifted a gag order on an indictment against an Israeli man who pretended to be a military intelligence officer during the early days of the war in Gaza, thereby became privy to classified information. – Haaretz

Editorial: Trump’s invitation to attack those nations who are letting the West down was outrageous and strategically incontinent. But he spoke an underlying truth that European allies need to understand: they are destroying NATO because they refuse to do their duty to it. They need to understand their own outrages as well as Trump’s. – Washington Examiner

Hillel Portugais de Almeida writes: To regain its credibility and legitimacy, the UN must distance itself from political and ideological influences that compromise its objectivity and reevaluate its control and accountability mechanisms. The current situation demands deep introspection from the UN. – Ynet

Barry Shaw writes: An early example was the murder of Jews who collectively farmed their land at Tel Hai in the northern Galilee in pre-state Palestine, then a barren district of a failing Ottoman Empire. Marauding Arab gangs repeatedly attacked the fortress in which the Jewish farmers lived until returning in greater force to kill and steal whatever they could find. – Arutz Sheva

Dr. Rafael Medoff writes: Another secretary of state with a fondness for curse words—at least when Israel and Jews were the subject—was James Baker, who served under George H.W. Bush. When Housing Secretary Jack Kemp noted Jewish concerns about Baker’s pressure on Israel, the secretary of state infamously replied, “F— the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway.” Kemp leaked the quote to former New York City mayor Ed Koch, who publicized it in his syndicated column. – Artuz Sheva

Jonathan Lipow writes: In such a scenario, the PLO will inevitably lose control of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas might simply seize the PA through military action. More likely, however, the craven and feeble leadership of the Authority would attempt to appease Hamas, leading to a situation where the PLO remains nominally in charge while in reality it would merely be a puppet with Hamas pulling the strings. Needless to say, such an outcome would be a disaster – for Israel, for the Palestinians, for the region, and for the world at large. – Times of Israel

John Spencer writes: Ultimately, comparisons with both past and modern cases highlight the fact that there is almost no way to defeat an entrenched enemy defender without destruction, even while implementing all feasible precautions and limits on the use of force required by the laws of war. Let’s put away our military history books. There is no comparison to what Israel has faced in Gaza—certainly none by which Israel comes out looking the worse. – Newsweek


The U.S. seized a Venezuelan-owned cargo jet with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that had been grounded in Argentina after its arrival two years ago prompted an investigation into possible terrorism ties, Biden administration officials said. – Wall Street Journal

In an alarming development, Ali-Akbar Salehi, the former head of Iran’s nuclear agency has implied in remarks broadcast on Monday that Iran has everything it needs for an A-bomb. – Iran International

Iran claimed Monday to have “successfully” launched a long-range ballistic missile from a warship, underlining the regime’s rising belligerence amid a regional crisis. “Nowhere is safe for those powers who seek to threaten our security,” IRGC commander Hossein Salami said in a thinly veiled threat to the United States and its allies, suggesting that Iran’s “ocean-liners” can get within range of any target – Iran International

Brian Carter writes: Iran will generate and use future crises to advance its objectives by again attacking U.S. forces in the region. The Biden administration must re-establish deterrence with Iran, separate and apart from Gaza. The U.S. can’t afford merely to degrade the capabilities of Iran’s proxies and partners temporarily, to rely on sending signals to Tehran or to ignore this decades-old issue for short-term political expediency. Above all, the Biden administration must not fool itself into believing that a Gaza cease-fire will end Iranian attacks. – Wall Street Journal

Lawrence J. Haas writes: The United States and its allies are justifiably focused on the bloody conflicts across this turbulent region. Israel is still reeling from the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Thousands of Palestinians are dying in Gaza as Israel roots out Hamas, and U.S. troops are under fire. However, Iran could be on the cusp of destabilizing the region, upending the global order in a far more fundamental way. Therefore, Washington and its allies must focus on the bigger picture and develop a comprehensive plan of action. – The National Interest

Russia & Ukraine

Yevheniya Synelnyk hadn’t heard from her brother, Artem, since a 30-second phone call shortly after he was taken into Russian captivity 18 months ago. So when Russian officials said a plane with 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war had been shot down late last month, she was gripped with fear. Could Artem have been on board? – Wall Street Journal

A bipartisan coalition of senators on Monday night pushed a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel to the brink of passage, as Republicans fractured bitterly over the bill, with opponents threatening to fight it until the very end. – New York Times 

Russia accused the West on Monday of sabotaging agreements that would have prevented the war in Ukraine – but the U.S. and its allies put the blame squarely on Moscow, saying there is no escaping that President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of its smaller neighbor. – Associated Press

The governments of Poland, France and Germany vowed Monday to make Europe a security and defense power with a greater ability to back Ukraine, amid concerns that former U.S. President Donald Trump might return to the White House and allow Russia to expand its aggression on the continent. – Associated Press 

Russia attacked the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro with missiles and drones on Tuesday, damaging a power plant and cutting off water supplies to some residents, Ukrainian officials and media said. – Reuters

Russian forces are buying Starlink internet terminals in “Arab countries” for use on the battlefield, Ukraine’s military intelligence said on Tuesday. – Reuters

A preliminary analysis concluded that Russia hit Kyiv last week with the hypersonic Zircon missile, its first use in the nearly two-year-old war, the head of a Kyiv research institute said on Monday, presenting a new challenge to Ukraine’s air defences. – Reuters

Exchange operator Nasdaq (NDAQ.O), opens new tab on Monday signed a partnership agreement with the Ukrainian government aimed at supporting the development of Ukrainian capital markets, Nasdaq and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said. – Reuters

Russia on Monday imposed sanctions on 18 British citizens including a number of top academics and Russia experts for what Moscow said was an attempt to demonise Russia and fan the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is planning a tour of Western European capitals around this week’s Munich Security Conference, according to people with knowledge of the matter, as the Ukrainian president seeks military support amid the funding fight in Washington. – Bloomberg

Elon Musk told US Republican senators “there is no way in hell” that Russian President Vladimir Putin could lose the war on Ukraine, weighing in on a conflict that has been affected by Musk’s own Starlink satellite services. – Bloomberg

An energy facility was severely damaged in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro early on Wednesday in a Russian drone attack, and water and power supply was cut off in several districts. – Bloomberg

Lucja Swiatkowski Cannon writes: Thus, Zelensky made the decision to dismiss Zaluzhny against the consensus in the Ukrainian military and society that the general has the right skills and concept of strategy to get the best results for Ukraine. Zelensky’s choice might have worsened the situation and damaged his political credibility. – Washington Examiner


France has delivered a written proposal to Beirut aimed at ending hostilities with Israel and settling the disputed Lebanon-Israel frontier, according to a document seen by Reuters that calls for fighters including Hezbollah’s elite unit to withdraw 10 km (6 miles) from the border. – Reuters

A Hezbollah official said on Tuesday that there can be no agreement on the Lebanon-Israel border before the fighting in Gaza stops. Hassan Fadlallah, a member of Lebanon’s parliament for the Hezbollah group said Israel was in no position to dictate terms. – Ynet

Robert F. Worth writes: The mood among the refugees stood in sober contrast to the rousing conclusion of The Crossing. After the play’s final scene, the audience walked through the concrete tunnel and into yet another tent, where a huge painting depicted Soleimani leading a group of men up the steps of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a dramatic sunset glowing in the background. Here it was: the promised victory. The audience milled around excitedly, congratulating the actors and snapping pictures of one another in front of the painting, as if they wanted to escape into it. I heard the strains of one of Hezbollah’s many anthems, the words echoing the same theme: victory, always victory. – The Atlantic


Iraq is committed to OPEC decisions and after its second voluntary cut announced in December it is also committed to producing no more than 4 million barrels per day (bpd), oil minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani told reporters on Monday. – Reuters

The Iraqi ambassador to Iran, Nasir Abdul Mohsen, is set to return to Tehran “within the next few hours” to resume his duties. This move comes after approximately a month since Baghdad summoned him following the missile attacks carried out by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Erbil, the capital city of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. – The New Arab

Several of Iraq’s powerful armed groups have told Sky News in rare interviews that they will continue attacks against US forces based in Iraq and the region for what they see as America’s support of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.  – Sky News

Michael Knights, Ameer al-Kaabi, and Hamdi Malik write: Dulaymi is viewed as the closest political advisor to Khazali, a U.S.-designated terrorist leader. He is also AAH’s most successful political experiment. For instance, shortly before his new appointment, he served as AAH’s representative on the small group of Coordination Framework factions that negotiated the carve-up of over 2,000 corrupt applications intended to be fast-tracked into the elite Counter Terrorism Service (aka the Counter Terrorism Command and Iraqi Special Operations Forces). – Washington Institute


Closer relations between Turkey and the European Union are contingent on Turkish engagement in solving the decades-old partition of Cyprus, the EU country’s president said on Monday. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised address after chairing a Cabinet meeting on Monday that Israel’s Gaza offensive will top the agenda in his talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday. – Reuters

Turkish counter-terrorism police investigating the militant group Islamic State have detained a Russian citizen working at a nuclear power plant under construction on Turkey’s southern coast, security sources said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Saudi Arabia’s U-turn on its oil capacity expansion plans was because of the energy transition, its energy minister said on Monday, adding that the kingdom has plenty of spare capacity to cushion the oil market. – Reuters 

The soon-to-open BAPS Hindu Mandir signals how far the United Arab Emirates has come in acknowledging the different faiths of its expatriate community, long dominated by Indians across construction sites and boardrooms. The temple nods back in its seven spires, the number of sheikhdoms in this autocratic federation on the Arabian Peninsula.- Associated Press

Declaring that “every innocent life lost in Gaza is a tragedy,” President Joe Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah II to the White House Monday for talks on how to end the months-long war and plan for what comes afterward. – Associated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron named the former head of gas utility Engie (ENGIE.PA), opens new tab as its special envoy to a multinational rail and ports project linking the Middle East and South Asia tipped as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative. – Reuters

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis fired two missiles on Monday at an Iran-bound cargo ship in the Red Sea, causing minor damage to the vessel but no injuries, U.S. military officials said. – Reuters

Mary Beth Long writes: Finally, Yemen’s militants have nothing to offer Iran’s allies like Russia, Syria, Libya, China, and North Korea. None of these has any interest in paying a public price for supporting a global supply chain breakdown due to Iran’s continued impeding of the Red Sea through the Yemeni rebels. At a minimum, pressure on Iran to withdraw all its personnel and support to the insurgents could be a start. Left alone, even with transferred technology and know-how, the Houthis would likely be hard-pressed to continue their current pace of air assaults, and that may allow at least some measure of security to be restored. – The National Interest


China emerged as a global power by turning itself into the world’s factory floor. It is expanding that power, and its military might, with another striking industrial feat: becoming the world’s shipyard. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden admin is turning down the heat on TikTok even as the Chinese company’s influence in the U.S. continues to grow. President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign announced that it had joined TikTok on Sunday, contradicting previous reports that it wouldn’t. Despite the Biden administration’s promises to crack down on TikTok, which is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, the company has thus far evaded repercussions or a nationwide ban and is working to increase its influence in Washington. – Daily Caller

Despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific remains the hottest area of operations in the world. An ascending China is challenging the authority of the existing superpower, the United States, and the post-World War Two rules-based order that has guided geopolitics for nearly 80 years. – The National Interest

David Ignatius writes: The most tantalizing theories involve speculation that Fu was an agent of a foreign intelligence service and that her spying compromised Qin. One U.S. diplomat told me he heard that Qin was a Russian agent. No, said a former U.S. official with long-standing dealings with Beijing, Chinese officials believe that Fu served as a British agent for more than a decade. The spy stories are juicy, but I haven’t been able to confirm them. – Washington Post

South Asia

Human Rights Watch said Monday that Afghanistan’s public health system has been hit hard following a sharp reduction in foreign assistance, coupled with serious Taliban abuses against women and girls, jeopardizing the right to healthcare of millions of Afghans. – Associated Press

Allies of imprisoned ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan won the most seats in the lower house of parliament in the elections last Thursday. It was a shock outcome given the obstacles: His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party could hold no campaign rallies, had no polling agents on election day and faced internet restrictions. They won 93 out of 265 National Assembly seats. It’s not enough to form a government, however. – Associated Press

Pakistan’s elections last week returned a hung parliament, with no party getting enough seats in the National Assembly to form a government by itself. – Reuters

Walter Russell Mead writes: Mr. Modi and his cabinet understand how closely Indian and American interests converge. They are asking whether Washington can still summon the intellectual coherence and political energy to do what needs to be done. It is a question many of America’s friends are asking. I wish I knew the answer. – Wall Street Journal


Indonesian authorities were making final preparations ahead of Wednesday’s election, with around 25,000 police set to ensure security in a contest seen as a test of democratic gains made since the end of authoritarian rule 25 years ago. – Reuters

Papua New Guinea’s opposition party lodged a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister James Marape when the Pacific Island nation’s parliament returned on Tuesday, the first session since deadly riots in January during a police strike. – Reuters

Two Armenian military men were killed in small arms fire from the Azerbaijani armed forces, the Defense Ministry in Yerevan said in a website statement early on Tuesday. – Bloomberg

Ben Bland writes: Indonesian voters see in him something they want: a continuation of Jokowi’s economic development efforts coupled with muscular leadership, albeit in a purportedly milder flavor. Whoever becomes Indonesia’s next president will find that governing the country is hard work and democracy is a complicated, messy business. And the bulk of Prabowo’s supporters want him to lead Indonesia’s democracy, not dismantle it—even if they like his tough talk. – Foreign Affairs

Christopher Cytera writes: While the US may stop short of adding Taiwan to the 20 countries with which it has free trade agreements, a deal for tariff-free trade could be formalized and announced for Taiwan electronics, just as the US has done for critical mineral trade with Japan. The EU could do something similar, focusing on mutually beneficial technology trade with Taiwan. The West wants to stay ahead in the innovation race. Taiwan represents an indispensable ally. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The leaders of Germany and Denmark joined in a ground-breaking ceremony for a new ammunition factory on Monday, underlining Europe’s efforts to ramp up its weapons production as Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on. – Associated Press

Donald Trump, the front-runner in the U.S. for the Republican Party’s nomination this year, says he once warned that he would allow Russia to do whatever it wants to NATO member nations that are “delinquent” in devoting 2% of their gross domestic product to defense. – Associated Press

Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Monday disowned an election candidate who claimed that Israel allowed Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack to happen as a pretext to invade Gaza. – Associated Press

France condemned “hostile” disinformation maneuvers after the country’s authorities on Monday accused Russia of operating a long-running online manipulation campaign against Ukraine’s Western backers, in the lead up to the second anniversary of Moscow’s military invasion of its neighbor. – Associated Press

The European Union won’t serve its own best interests if it doesn’t consider designating some parts of Syria as safe zones so refugees and migrants can return there, the president of Cyprus said Monday. – Associated Press

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday that any relativization of NATO’s mutual defence clause was “dangerous” and only served Russia, following comments by former U.S. President Donald Trump questioning the alliance’s key provision. – Reuters

France, Poland and Germany accused Russia on Monday of putting together an elaborate network of websites to spread pro-Russian propaganda to undermine their governments, warning of a mass spread of such content ahead of EU elections in June. – Reuters

Kyiv urged Warsaw on Monday to “hold to account” Polish farmers for stopping three trucks at a border crossing between Poland and Ukraine and spilling the Ukrainian grain they were carrying. – Reuters

A Dutch court on Monday ordered the government to block all exports of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel over concerns they were being used to violate international law during the war in Gaza. – Reuters

The EU adopted a law to set aside windfall profits made on frozen Russian central bank assets, it said on Monday, in a first concrete step towards the bloc’s aim of using the money to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine. – Reuters

Faced with stubbornly high Russian gas imports as the war in Ukraine rages on, Austria is seeking to take more radical steps, including ending energy company OMV’s long-term contract to buy gas from Gazprom, Austria’s energy minister said on Monday. – Reuters

Foucault and his fellow protesters are restless, their list of grievances long: soaring costs, increasing bureaucracy, new European Union regulations in its Green Deal and imports diluting their markets. “He who sows misery reaps anger,” says one of their placards. – Bloomberg

Transatlantic ties are essential and will prevail irrespective of November’s US presidential election results, according to German Finance Minister Christian Lindner. – Bloomberg

In one fell swoop over the weekend, Donald Trump freed Europe from the confines of the American security bubble. – Politico

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell on Monday called on the international community, and particularly the U.S., to stop providing arms to Israel in light of the growing number of civilians being killed in Gaza. – Politico

Royal Navy carrier HMS Prince of Wales (R09) departed its Portsmouth home port on Monday to participate in a massive NATO exercise in place of carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R09), which was sidelined for repairs. – USNI News

Dalibor Rohac writes: Because of Slovakia’s pliability, it is unlikely that the country will become a major liability for the EU or for the Western alliance. Nevertheless, without a compelling story about the purpose and significance of Slovakia’s statehood, and a clear geopolitical and moral compass, Slovakia’s future might lie simply in a lingering passively on the periphery of the Western world. That would be a shame. – American Purpose

Olga Lautman writes: A possible future President’s ongoing affection for Russia and his disruptive actions on the international stage, coupled with the media’s disproportionate focus on trivial matters, should worry us all. Trump continues to interfere with and disrupt the administration’s foreign policy. His outrageous statements and actions warrant a far greater danger than Biden’s age. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Krista Viksnins writes: With the US’s focus on domestic politics and the 2024 presidential election, Europe and the Baltics cannot wait for Washington’s leadership when it comes to Ukraine. So the continent must ensure it offers a clear and united voice. Russia as the aggressor must understand that the West is not fatigued by the war, despite ongoing distractions like elections. The issue is just too important for the continent to fail. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Pekka Virkki writes: Should this happen, the US would lose its most important ally, biggest trading partner, and likely ally in the century-defining struggle with China. Surely an under-gunned Europe and an inward-looking America can agree that this outcome makes no sense whatsoever. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Michael Peck writes: That’s not an impossible goal, and a European fighter is not a silly idea to those who don’t want to be totally dependent on American-made aircraft. The question is what Europe should be focusing on right now. Given the implications for European security of a Russian defeat of Ukraine, artillery shells this year are more important than jet fighters in 2040. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Amy Mackinnon and Jack Detsch write: NATO can only enforce Article 5, the alliance’s self-defense clause, if all 31 nations agree to do it—even if they’re not contributing troops. If Russia were to test Article 5, the fear is that a prospective President Trump could leave allies guessing about whether or not the United States would come to their aid. – Foreign Policy


The British government’s plan to send some asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda is “fundamentally incompatible” with the U.K.’s human rights obligations, a parliamentary rights watchdog said Monday, as the contentious bill returned for debate in the House of Lords. – Associated Press

Days after Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger announced last month they were quitting the West Africa political union ECOWAS, Burkina Faso’s military ruler Ibrahim Traore was already naming his next target: the region’s CFA franc currency. – Reuters

Police in Democratic Republic of Congo fired tear gas on Monday to disperse protesters who burned tyres and U.S. and Belgian flags near Western embassies and U.N. offices in the capital Kinshasa, angry about insecurity in eastern Congo. – Reuters

West Africa’s main economic and political bloc ECOWAS has sent a diplomatic mission to Senegal to discuss the political situation there following a delay in its presidential election, the bloc’s parliamentary office said on Monday. – Reuters

Eliot Wilson writes: President Biden has a year, come what may. It is time to make radical changes, to stop using the interests of a failed shell of a state as the fulcrum of U.S. policy. Somaliland has made astonishing economic and political progress over the past 30 years without the benefit of statehood — and now deserves a modest helping hand. – The Hill

The Americas

The whereabouts of a prominent human rights attorney, her daughter and ex-husband remained unknown Monday, three days after Venezuelan authorities detained her at the airport near the capital as she and her adult child awaited a flight to Miami, setting off condemnation inside and outside the South American country. – Associated Press

Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister said a large oil spill near the twin-island nation in the eastern Caribbean has caused a “national emergency” as crews struggled to contain the oil already coating numerous beaches on Tobago’s southwest coast. – Associated Press

Police raids on former President Jair Bolsonaro and his associates for allegedly plotting a coup after the 2022 election has weakened right-wing opposition to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ahead of October’s local elections, analysts say. – Reuters

United States

Republican lawmakers were again forced to grapple with controversial remarks made by Donald Trump after the former president said that he would disregard the NATO treaty among the United States and its allies. – Washington Post

Immigration is a polarizing issue in U.S. politics, and will almost certainly play a central role in the November presidential election. Illegal border crossings have averaged 2 million per year since 2021, the highest level ever. – Washington Post

Former U.S. President Donald Trump raised a storm of criticism from the White House and top Western officials for suggesting he would not defend NATO allies who failed to spend enough on defence and would even encourage Russia to attack them. – Reuters

President Joe Biden ’s reelection campaign on Monday defended its new TikTok account as a vital way to boost its appeal with young voters, even as his administration continued to raise security concerns about whether the popular social media app might be sharing user data with China’s communist government. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden is forming a task force to address the issue of classified documents being mishandled during presidential transitions, following a special counsel report that found he had willfully kept such material after he was vice president. – Bloomberg

Robert E. Lighthizer and Gordon H. Hanson writes: The United States is now six years into a trade war with China, which Trump began and U.S. President Joe Biden has eagerly continued. Rather than bowing to U.S. pressure, China seems ever more emboldened to aggressively pursue its nationalistic trade agenda. It is also fair to ask whether U.S. opposition to China would have been more effective had Trump acted in concert with U.S. allies rather than imposing tariffs on some of the United States’ most reliable trading partners, thereby wasting political capital. To date, the go-it-alone approach to China has borne little fruit. As Lighthizer prepares Trump for a possible redo of the presidency, he should reckon with the ineffectiveness of recent U.S. trade policy on China. – Foreign Affairs

Jakub Grygiel and A. Wess Mitchell write: It is not too late. Even though U.S. rivals have improved their position in recent years, advancing their control and building up their arm stores, Americans still have an opportunity to conserve a modicum of international order and security. It’s better to stop predator states at the far frontier by backing the efforts of motivated locals than attempting to do so after these places are lost. And it’s easier to keep things stable than to bring back stability after it’s lost. And that begins, and ends, at the frontier. – Foreign Policy

Edward Alden writes: For the rest of the world, the fallout of U.S. foreign-policy chaos is unpalatable: expensive and provocative rearmament in Europe and Japan, acceptance of expanding Russian and Chinese spheres of influence, and a global economy that will continue to fracture. Other countries will have no choice but to hedge their bets and start preparing for a world in which the United States no longer has their back. Perhaps if Biden is reelected, the pieces of the old order can be stitched together long enough for the fever to break in the United States body politic. But such a benign outcome is facing longer and longer odds. – Foreign Policy

Benjamin Jensen and Yasir Atalan writes: Yet the suspension of new LNG export approvals raises questions about its effectiveness in cutting global emissions. Demand for LNG in Asia could lead to increased supplies from countries with potentially higher emissions profiles than the United States. LNG is a cleaner alternative to coal and oil. In terms of CO2, natural gas produces 42 percent less than coal and 27 percent less than oil, making LNG a bridge solution to the climate change crisis while renewal sources come online. All things considered, balancing these climate ambitions with the pressing demands of global energy security, especially in turbulent times, remains a complex challenge for the administration. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Frank Miele writes: Perhaps the craziest admission that the border bill is a con job is that Orwellian provision that Biden could open the border on an emergency basis “if it is in the national interest.” It is never in the national interest to replace the border with a sign proclaiming, “Welcome Stranger. Mi Casa Es Su Casa.” But apparently, it is in the interests of the Democratic Party. Think about that, and stop blaming Republicans for refusing to be duped one more time. – RealClearPolitics


The Australian government said on Tuesday it will outlaw doxxing — the malicious release online of personal or identifying information without the subject’s permission — after pro-Palestinian activists published personal details of hundreds of Jewish people in Australia. – Associated Press

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Monday released the 2024 priorities for the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, an operational-focused government and private collaborative which has faced recent criticism. – CyberScoop


The U.S. Army is buying hundreds of drone-killing Coyote interceptors from defense contractor RTX to fortify its ability to counter unmanned aerial systems. The service agreed to pay $75 million for 600 of the ground-launched, radar-guided Coyote 2C devices, it said Feb. 9. – Defense News

Rebellion Defense said it was selected to work on Project Overmatch, the Navy’s clandestine contribution to the Pentagon’s Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, or CJADC2, networking strategy. – Defense News

Defense industry analysts said it has long been clear the Army needed to end its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program. Indeed, concerns about the program came before the war in Ukraine and as drones became commonplace on battlefields throughout the world. – Defense News

Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division received the Army’s newest helmet today, the first combat helmet capable of withstanding small arms fire without added protection. – Defense News

This $48.6 billion overhaul is intended to keep the (eventually redubbed) B-52J operational until about 2060 — meaning the Air Force could be flying nearly century-old bombers. When the last B-52 was delivered in 1962, it was expected to last 20 years, the Defense Department’s inspector general said in a November 2023 report. Defense News

The U.S. Air Force is changing the way it deploys forces as part of a sweeping overhaul to make the service leaner and prepare for a fight against China. – Defense One

Tomahawk Cruise missile, explained: Japan penned a deal to procure up to 400 Tomahawk cruise missiles last month as regional tensions in the South China Sea continue to escalate. […]There is clearly a reason Japan and surely other nations would love to get as many Tomahawk cruise missiles as they can, as they have proven themselves in countless armed conflicts for the U.S. military. – The National Interest

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Strikes against the Iran-backed Houthis and terrorists in the Red Sea are necessary, and the Tomahawk is the right tool for the job. But the Pentagon cannot allow these strikes to undermine the Navy’s readiness and capabilities in other theaters. Insufficient procurement will only lead to empty launch cells across our fleet and guarantee that the next war will not end on our terms. – The National Interest