Fdd's overnight brief

February 15, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Saif al-Adel, who is wanted by the United States in connection with the 1998 bombings of its embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, has been identified by many countries as the new “de facto and uncontested” leader of al-Qaeda, according to a report by U.N. experts. Many U.N. member states also believe that Adel is located in Iran, the report said. – Washington Post 

President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Tuesday at the start of a three-day trip, as the two countries shored up ties amid their escalating tensions with the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

The Iran-made drones Russia is flying into Ukrainian targets are the same type that hit an oil tanker in 2021, killing two people, according to the Pentagon’s Defense intelligence Agency. – Bloomberg 

Ambassadors representing both Poland and Hungary were pictured at a state ceremony commemorating the 44th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, despite EU members’ boycott of Tehran in light of its brutal suppression of anti-government protesters. – Times of Israel 

US officials are warning that Iran is utilizing the war in Ukraine as a springboard to position itself as a hub for cheap and lethal military-grade drones. – Times of Israel 

Iranian drones and missiles are among the most prominent air defense threats facing both the US and its Gulf allies, according to information from the US Defense Department. – Jerusalem Post

Iran said on Monday that it welcomes the Iraqi government’s efforts to help with the talks on the revival of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the Xinhua news agency reported. – Arutz Sheva 

On February 12, 2023, Hamid Mutashar, founder of the Ahvazi Liberal Party which is opposed to the Iranian regime, tweeted a document which he said was sent September 22, 2022 from the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The document ordered Central Bank of Iran governor Ali Saleh-Abadi to transfer the sum of $4 billion to the personal Venezuelan bank account of Khamenei’s son Mojtaba. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Recent reports have shown how Iran continues to illegally send weapons that threaten the Middle East and Europe. The reports come as Iran’s president is in China this week, seeking more economic support. That support might increase Iran’s abilities to produce and export more drones and other weapons. – Jerusalem Post 

Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Zachary Coles, Annika Ganzeveld, Jonathan Baumel, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is positioning himself to reenter the public arena after a period of relative absence. Iran-backed militias have recently withdrawn from military positions in Deir ez-Zour Province and may redeploy to Aleppo Province.[…]Iranian media outlets recirculated Parliamentarian Shahryar Heydari’s January 15 announcement that Iran will soon receive an unspecified number of Su-35 fighter jets. President Ebrahim Raisi signed 20 agreements on Sino-Iranian in Beijing on February 14. – Institute for the Study of War  

Russia & Ukraine

Russia’s system for supervising thousands of Ukrainian children uprooted during the war involves “re-education” camps and forced adoptions, U.S. researchers said Tuesday, calling it a sprawling operation directed by the Kremlin’s highest levels. – Washington Post 

Time is growing short for Ukraine’s military backers to gather vast quantities of new equipment and move it along supply lines that are fast becoming overwhelmed with shipments Kyiv awaits as it plans to launch a spring counteroffensive against entrenched Russian forces, senior U.S. officials said Tuesday. – Washington Post 

The U.S. military is considering sending Ukraine thousands of seized weapons and more than a million rounds of ammunition once bound for Iran-backed fighters in Yemen, an unprecedented step that would help Kyiv battle Russian forces, U.S. and European officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Western officials said Russia was tightening its noose around the contested city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization warned the start of a major new Russian offensive was now under way. – Wall Street Journal

The International Monetary Fund has started negotiating with Ukrainian officials to put together what could be its largest loan package for the country since Russia’s invasion as the prolonged war deepens its economic woes. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian authorities are stepping up efforts to persuade the few thousand remaining civilians to leave Bakhmut in the face of a sustained Russian assault, a regional official said on Tuesday, adding to signs that Kyiv may be preparing to retreat from a city it has defended fiercely for months. – New York Times

Ukraine urged allies to speed up the pace of military aid as NATO defence ministers prepared to meet for a second day on Wednesday, while Russia said its troops had broken through two fortified lines of Ukrainian defences on the eastern front. – Reuters 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, said on Tuesday that he founded and financed and the Internet Research Agency, a company Washington says is a “troll farm” which meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. – Reuters

Britain said on Tuesday it would mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a national moment of silence, in an expression of solidarity with Kyiv that follows President Volodymyr Zelenksiy’s visit to London earlier this month. – Reuters 

The European Union is poised to force banks to report information on Russian Central Bank assets as part of the bloc’s latest sanctions package targeting Moscow for its war in Ukraine, according to draft proposals seen by Bloomberg. – Bloomberg

The US claims Russia refuses to allow inspectors into its territory and isn’t willing to discuss the issue with Washington. Russia’s posture “threatens the viability of US-Russian nuclear arms control,” the State Department said in January. Russia argues it would be inappropriate to allow inspections while the countries are in a tense standoff over Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has reportedly recruited tens of thousands of prisoners to fight in Ukraine. But the growing number of casualties and extrajudicial executions make it much harder to find volunteers, even in prisons. – BBC

Western intelligence shows Russia is amassing aircraft close to the border with Ukraine, an indication that Moscow is preparing to throw its jets and helicopters into the war to support a stuttering land offensive. – Financial Times

Ukraine has accused Russia of turning to balloon power to support its invasion of the country, although with markedly different aims from China’s intelligence gathering operations. – Financial Times

Russia has “lost” its war in Ukraine, according to a top U.S. defense official, speaking ten days ahead of the one-year anniversary of their invasion. – Washington Examiner 

Atop Kremlin propagandist admitted on national television Russia’s military failings in Ukraine, saying that Moscow “had to calm down a bit” after believing it would take over Kyiv in “a couple of weeks.” – Newsweek 

Warships in the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet have been deployed with tactical nuclear weapons, the Norwegian Intelligence Service said in a report released Monday. – Newsweek 

President Vladimir Putin appears to have given orders to Russian troops to advance in “most sectors” in eastern Ukraine as the war nears its first anniversary, but his forces are struggling to make a decisive breakthrough, according to British intelligence. – Newsweek 

Schools in St. Petersburg, Russia, have been ordered to buy assault rifles and dummy grenades to be used in class as part of a Soviet-era basic military training course that has been reinstated amidst the war in Ukraine. – Newsweek 

Now, with the hindsight of a year, Ivashov believes that if anything, he had underestimated the invasion’s negative consequences for Russia. He writes that Russia’s position has sharply deteriorated in the eyes of the two arbiters of world politics. By its own hand, Russia strengthened America’s position in Europe and revived a moribund NATO alliance that had slid into irrelevancy, giving it a new sense of purpose. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has not yet decided whether he will meet Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, a Ukrainian official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: Most important, advancing Ukraine’s accession would be tactically unwise. The move would be a kind of escalation, giving Putin more to lose and making it harder for Russia to concede defeat — yet it would do nothing in the short term to help Ukraine’s people or strengthen their ability to fight back. For as long as this war goes on, Europe should focus on sustaining and increasing its material aid. This is not the time to be talking about expansion plans. – Bloomberg 

Jeanne Whalen and Catherine Belton write: “The way I think about sanctions is that we are shaking the tree on which the regime sits,” said Kluge. “We can’t really tell what’s going to come out of it, what’s going to happen. We are not shaking it enough for it to fall down. But we’re creating problems for them. It consumes a lot of political energy in Moscow. And it makes it clear to everyone, to all insiders, that it was a huge mistake to start this invasion.” – Washington Post

Alton Frye writes: Sadly, those benign links faltered. Moscow read NATO’s arrangements in Central Europe as hostile, rather than defensive. Captive to Vladimir Putin’s fears and ambitions, Russia made itself the outcast it need never have been. – The Hill  

Fiona Hill and Angela Stent write: That includes Putin. He appears to be in control for now, but the Kremlin could be in for a surprise. Events often unfold in a dramatic fashion. As the war in Ukraine has shown, many things don’t go according to plan. – Foreign Affairs 

Hal Brands writes: The conflict’s result will shape the perceived efficacy of autocracy and democracy, the degree of security that NATO enjoys on its eastern front, and the level of Russian influence over its neighbors. On these and other issues, the implications of a war that results in a resounding Russian defeat will be different than those of a war that ends with Russian troops occupying significant parts of Ukraine, with Moscow possessing the ability to renew hostilities when it wishes. The latter outcome might not look like such a triumph for the free world, after all. – Foreign Affairs 

George Barros, Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, Angela Howard, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick Kagan write: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signaled on February 14 that the Ukraine Defense Contact Group’s 54 member states will continue to support Ukraine in the long run. The Washington Post reported that US officials have privately signaled to Ukraine that Western security aid to Ukraine is finite, however.[…]Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko may meet on February 17. – Institute for the Study of War 

Gordon B. “Skip” Davis, Jr. writes: Western political leaders have slowly moved forward with greater and greater military assistance, spurred by the clear evidence of Russia’s barbarity. More importantly, there is an existential necessity for the Western to stand shoulder to shoulder with a democratic European nation under assault to prevent future conflict in Europe; further hesitation would invite just that. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Dakota Wood writes: The U.S. and its allies can best support Ukraine by ensuring the continued flow of munitions, expanding Ukraine’s inventory of artillery, providing armor to enable offensive operations, improving defensive capabilities against enemy ground and air attack, and enhancing Ukraine’s ability to understand what the enemy is doing, so that it can make the best use of its resources. – Heritage Foundation 


A Palestinian man on Monday was killed during a shootout in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian paramedics said, while an Israeli policeman was killed while trying to stop a Palestinian stabbing attack in east Jerusalem, police said. – Associated Press

Two ultranationalist Israeli Cabinet ministers on Tuesday defiantly dismissed a growing chorus of global condemnation of new Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, instead promising to double down and legalize dozens of wildcat outposts in the occupied territory. – Associated Press

Foreign ministers of four European countries and Canada joined Washington on Tuesday in opposing a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to authorize nine Jewish settler outposts in the occupied West Bank. – Reuters 

Israeli airlines will resume direct flights to Turkey as a mark of a continued improvement in bilateral relations, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Tuesday, predicting a 25% increase in tourism this year. – Reuters 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday discussed with UAE Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan ways to strengthen US-UAE cooperation on multiple issues, including the Negev Forum, which is aimed at advancing collaboration between Israel, the UAE and other regional partners on issues such as sustainable energy, food and water security and defense, according to State Department Spokesperson Ned Price. – Jerusalem Post 

Israel ignored the condemnations of its allies and moved Tuesday advance plans for new West Bank settler homes, for what is expected to be a total package of 10,000 new units. – Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Mission to the UN is preparing a Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its recently decision to legalize nine outposts and advance plans for some 10,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank, two diplomats for countries on the top panel told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel 

The United States has withdrawn its support for a human rights activist who accused US House Minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) of being “Bought. Purchased. Controlled” by pro-Israel groups, State Department Spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday afternoon. – Algemeiner

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan sent an urgent letter this morning (Tuesday) to the members of the UN Security Council ahead of the meeting that the Council will hold on Monday, February 20 on the Middle East. In the letter, Ambassador Erdan called on the international community to condemn the recent Palestinian terror attacks that left 11 Israelis murdered, including children – Arutz Sheva

Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich said Tuesday that the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will left all restrictions on settlement construction. – Ynet

A Border Police officer killed during a terror attack in Jerusalem was laid to rest in his village in the Galilee on Tuesday. – Ynet  

The involvement of Palestinian teenagers, some as young as 13, in terrorist activity has become a concerning trend for Israel, which came to light in the three terror attacks that took place on the Israeli soil in the last few weeks. – Ynet  

Editorial: Everyone is in agreement that there must be a price for terror. However, it’s not clear that legalizing nine outposts sends a message that will deter terror attacks. The government should not link settlements to these murderous attacks. It harms our image, conflates the attacks with the settlements and does not do justice for victims. – Jerusalem Post 

Dennis Ross and David Makovsky write: Common interests may bind governments, but shared values will be what continues to bind our two societies. Surrender that, and Israel will find it increasingly difficult to preserve what it has held for its first 75 years: a strong hold on the American public’s imagination. – The Hill  


Not that long ago, this neighborhood — known as the Green Zone — was a diplomatic enclave, buzzing with the soundtrack of a multibillion-dollar war effort in Afghanistan. Armored vehicles rumbled down the streets, shuttling Western diplomats and high-ranking Afghan officials, while the thud-thud-thud of American helicopters echoed across the sky above. But these days, there’s another kind of buzzing in the neighborhood: the Taliban moving in and making it their own. – New York Times

Former White House chief of staff Ron Klain defended the evacuation efforts from Afghanistan as a “tremendous achievement” despite the chaos that ensued. – Washington Examiner 

While red roses and balloons are still on offer, Valentine’s Day is now much like any other day on Flower Street. That is, aside from posters from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice advising passersby to “avoid celebrating lovers’ day!” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


The United Nations chief launched a $397 million appeal Tuesday to help nearly 5 million survivors of last week’s devastating earthquake in rebel-held northwest Syria who have received very little assistance because of deep divisions exacerbated by the country’s 12-year war. – Associated Press

Syria’s president agreed to open two new crossing points from Turkey to the country’s rebel-held northwest to deliver desperately needed aid and equipment to help millions of earthquake victims, the United Nations announced Monday. – Associated Press

A convoy of 11 trucks from a United Nations agency crossed into northern Syria from Turkey on Tuesday, just hours after the U.N. and Syrian government reached an agreement to temporarily authorize two new border crossings into the rebel enclave, devastated by the region’s deadly earthquake. – Associated Press

U.S. forces shot down an Iranian-made drone flying over a base housing American troops in northeastern Syria, the U.S. military said Wednesday. – Associated Press

More than 300 Russian servicemen and 60 units of special military equipment are helping Syria in its response to a devastating earthquake that struck more than a week ago, Russia’s defence ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The head of a Syrian opposition-run rescue group on Tuesday denounced a U.N. decision to give Syrian President Bashar al Assad authorisation over aid deliveries through border crossings with Turkey, saying it gave him “free political gain”. – Reuters 


The political opposition in Turkey slammed the country’s ruling party over calls to postpone a pivotal election, while the United Nations said Syria yielded to international pressure to open border crossings in the aftermath of earthquakes that devastated both countries last week. – Wall Street Journal

Turkey’s devastating earthquake has thrown into disarray plans for elections to be held by June, sparking frantic debate within President Tayyip Erdogan’s government and the opposition over a possible delay. – Reuters 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed to press on with rescue and recovery efforts more than a week after a powerful quake ripped through his country and neighbouring Syria, with an elderly woman the latest to be pulled from the rubble. – Reuters 

Britain’s King Charles met volunteers from the Turkish and Syrian diasporas in London on Tuesday to express his support after more than 37,000 people died and thousands left homeless by the recent earthquake in Turkey and north-west Syria. – Reuters 

Damages from deadly earthquakes in Turkey last week will probably exceed $20 billion, the risk modelling company Verisk estimated on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Turkey will suspend some gold imports as part of an emergency plan to mitigate the economic fallout from twin earthquakes that hit the country’s southeast last week, according to an official with direct knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg 

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen landed in Turkey on Tuesday morning for a one-day solidarity visit in the wake of the deadly earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people. – Times of Israel 

Soner Cagaptay writes: Yet if the announced death toll increases substantially in the coming days, it could upend domestic dynamics and move the country into unknown political territory. Thus far, Erdogan has failed to publicly acknowledge this risk, instead using many of his post-earthquake speeches to chide citizens for spreading “fake news and distortions.”[…]The run-up to the elections is therefore likely to be dominated by debates over the conduct of earthquake relief efforts, a precise account of the destruction and death toll, and the government’s level of responsibility for these losses—with Erdogan pushing back forcefully against any criticism. – Washington Institute 

Middle East & North Africa

The World Bank is particularly concerned in the Middle East and North Africa region about Lebanon and Tunisia and, to a lesser extent, Egypt and Jordan, the bank’s vice president for MENA said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The U.S. State Department has approved the possible sale of planning and support services to Kuwait for the Gulf Arab country’s military medical command, for an estimated cost of $250 million, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The powerful earthquakes that struck central Turkey and northwest Syria just over a week ago are the “worst natural disaster in the WHO European Region for a century,” said Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe. – Politico

Nawaf Obaid and Nimrod Novik write: In essence, Saudi Arabia has long stood ready to lead a historic change of mutual recognition between Israel and the Arab and Muslim Worlds. However, for that to happen, extremists on both sides need to be marginalized and policies of moderation, accommodation and compromise embraced. – Jerusalem Post 

Younes Abouyoub writes: This changes the geopolitical balance and the close relationship that the United States, given its long-standing dependence on energy imports, had developed with MENA countries since World War II.[…]The turn of MENA energy-exporting countries towards the Asian market, with the growing economic and political power of states like China and India, has created new opportunities for exporters to impose themselves as major players as clean energy geopolitics grow in importance, thus mitigating as much as possible the potential loss in terms of geopolitical influence induced by the energy transition. – Middle East Institute   

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s “first daughter” suddenly seems to be everywhere. In November, she was out inspecting intercontinental ballistic missiles with her dad, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This month, she’s appeared twice at celebrations for a major army anniversary. – Washington Post

A North Korean food crisis appears to have deteriorated, South Korea said on Wednesday, as a newspaper reported that North Korea has cut rations to its soldiers for the first time in more than two decades. – Reuters 

North Korea may have launched a military unit tasked with operating new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in line with its recent restructuring of the military, state media video footage suggested. – Reuters 


By the time a Chinese spy balloon crossed into American airspace late last month, U.S. military and intelligence agencies had been tracking it for nearly a week, watching as it lifted off from its home base on Hainan Island near China’s south coast. – Washington Post 

The U.S. says the suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down Feb. 4 violated sovereign U.S. airspace. But when it crossed the U.S. at altitudes as high as 65,000 feet, the balloon floated into the murky zone aloft where no international consensus exists about which, if any, nation wields control. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. has shot several objects out of the sky over the past two weeks. U.S. officials have said they know the most about the first one, which they have described as a Chinese spy balloon outfitted with equipment to collect intelligence and communications. The other objects are still somewhat of a mystery. – Wall Street Journal

China resolutely opposes Washington adding six Chinese entities to its trade blacklist after a Chinese balloon was detected over the United States last week and shot down, China’s commerce ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The China Semiconductor Industry Association (CSIA), China’s top trade group for the chip industry, opposes reported export controls from the United States, Japan and the Netherlands on China’s chip industry, it said in a statement on Wednesday. – Reuters 

The United States so far has no evidence that three unidentified aerial objects shot down this month were connected to China or any foreign spying program, the White House said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

On Monday, China’s social media networks lit up with a report that the People’s Liberation Army would shoot down an unidentified object flying near a major coastal naval base. Just a few hours later, discussion on the topic had mysteriously fallen off the trending lists. – Bloomberg

The House Select Committee on China will hold its first public hearing on Feb. 28 about the “Chinese Communist Party’s threat to America.” – Washington Examiner

The Chinese government’s interests in TikTok could play a determining role in negotiations to have it continue in the U.S. despite fears regarding its ties to the Chinese Communist Party, according to people involved in the matter. – Washington Examiner  

Chinese officials are using the train derailment in Ohio to mock the United States concerns about the suspected spy balloon that was shot down earlier this month. – Newsweek 

Editorial: A possible meeting between secretary of state Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the coming Munich Security Conference could help to calm tensions. The US-Soviet rivalry of which Sputnik was an early symbol was ultimately managed without leading to war. That must be the goal, too, for Washington and Beijing. – Financial Times

Bret Stephens writes: Beijing has found little steel as it has probed everywhere from the cyber domain to the South China Sea. That needs to change. Announcing a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan is the place to start. Alternatively, if the U.F.O.s really are Martians, it might at least give both countries the opportunity to set their differences aside. – New York Times

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr writes: We once could trust China’s leaders, including Mao and Deng, to understand this. They were not so unwise as to force their own hands, with ill-advised rhetoric, in a matter that could only end in disaster for them and us. With China’s current leadership, it’s hard to be sure. Meanwhile, the volume of financial, economic, cultural and human exchange between our two nations is unlike any that existed between the U.S. and Soviet Union. A unique relationship requires new approaches and strategies to instill cooperative deterrence. We can do this. – Wall Street Journal

Minxin Pei writes: Far from ensuring a US triumph in its potentially decades-long geopolitical rivalry with China, the GOP has adopted a short-sighted strategy that will most likely undermine that goal. Hawks demanding a tougher stance ought to start by looking in the mirror. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: Russia’s occupation of even a square inch of Ukrainian territory is invalid. But if the U.S. truly wants to stand firm against such aggression, it is essential to show that it considers no exceptions. Stop giving Communist China a free pass. – Washington Examiner 

Joseph Bosco writes: This time, an actual balloon came down after long-withheld U.S. fire and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called his Chinese counterpart to keep the situation from escalating. But his calls were spurned and he experienced the same cold-shoulder treatment. Perhaps Beijing is waiting for another U.S. apology or two. – The Hill

Martin Wolf writes: The new interventionism has many causes and many goals. In theory, it might lead to better outcomes, especially where the case for government intervention is strong, as with climate change or national security. But there are also large potential risks, not least that many of these programmes will turn out to be a huge waste of money, as so many interventionist programmes have been in the past. Moreover, these interventions will worsen the trade wars now under way. Fragmentation is very easy to start. But it will be hard to control and even harder to reverse. – Financial Times

Evan A. Feigenbaum and Adam Szubin write: For Beijing, the lesson is less about economics and more about diplomacy and relationships. As it reopens its economy after three years of lockdowns, China is working to rebuild relationships, host foreign leaders from Asia and Europe, make business deals, and complicate any putative American effort to forge a counter-China coalition. – Foreign Affairs 

Casey Babb writes: Going forward, more scholarly work is required to assess the degree China’s cyber strategy is shaped and influenced by Xi, and further, what that relationship might mean from a policy perspective.[…]With Xi having secured another five-year term at the 2022 Communist Party congress, it is more important than ever that we develop a better understanding of the man who controls everything in China, and the extent to which his own beliefs and preferences shape the country’s strategy online and beyond. – The National Interest 

South Asia

India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HIAE.NS) is in talks with at least four countries to sell its light-combat aircraft, though it faces an uphill battle to win the contract in Malaysia, the company’s top executive said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Bobby Ghosh writes: The Biden administration seems to have taken much the same see-no-evil, hear-no-evil stance. State Department spokesman Ned Price responded to a question about the controversy with the blandest of bromides: “We support the importance of a free press around the world.” He softened even this most indirect of criticisms with a homily about “the shared values that enact the United States and India as two thriving, vibrant democracies.” – Bloomberg

Lisa Curtis and Derek Grossman write: The United States must follow India’s lead when offering military assistance and making statements regarding New Delhi’s border issues with Beijing. Otherwise, India may worry that the United States is needlessly inflaming the problem and recoil from U.S. overtures. Washington needs to carefully craft a low-key but still forward-leaning policy of U.S. support for India. Such a strategy will simultaneously maintain the strong momentum of the strengthening U.S.-Indian partnership while deterring China at the border. – Foreign Affairs 


More than 50 years after the British government secretly planned, with the United States, to force a mass deportation of the indigenous people of the Chagos Archipelago an international human rights group released a scathing report Wednesday demanding that both governments pay reparations to the people forced off their homeland and allow them an “unfettered permanent return.” – Washington Post 

America’s allies in Asia are raising their vigilance against high-altitude balloons after Washington accused Beijing of using them in a global spying program, ending years in which unannounced incursions by balloons have largely been tolerated in the region. – Wall Street Journal

Russia, locked in a decades-old territorial dispute with Tokyo over a chain of Pacific islands, on Tuesday accused Japan of engaging in Russophobia and mounting “vicious attacks” over the war in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Kyrgyzstan will host a Russia-led security bloc’s peacekeeping drills this year instead of Armenia, which last month declined to host the exercise, the bloc’s chief of staff said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The leaders of five Pacific island nations said on Tuesday U.S. President Joe Biden would soon visit their region for a leaders’ summit, in what experts said would be a significant move in U.S. efforts to push back against Chinese inroads in the region. – Reuters  

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos summoned Beijing’s ambassador Tuesday to express “serious concern” after a Chinese security vessel was accused of using a military-grade laser light against a Philippine patrol boat in the disputed South China Sea. – Agence France-Presse

Japan’s Defense Ministry said three objects spotted in its airspace between 2019 and 2021 were probably Chinese surveillance balloons, giving its most definitive assessment for the previously unidentified items. – Bloomberg

The BRICS group of nations plans to decide this year whether to admit new members and what criteria they would have to meet, with Iran and Saudi Arabia among those who’ve formally asked to join, according to South Africa’s ambassador to the bloc. – Bloomberg 

China must stop taking positions that block debt relief to some of the world’s poorest nations and be willing to take losses on its loans to them, India said in its capacity as the current Group of 20 leader. – Bloomberg 

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos condemned the “increasing frequency and intensity” of China’s maritime aggression following a laser incident that underscores the security fears driving a new alignment of U.S. and allied democracies in the Indo-Pacific. – Washington Examiner 

Hiroki Habuka writes: Because of its clear and consistent vision for AI governance and its successful AI regulatory reforms, as well as various initiatives by businesses to create good governance practices and contribute to standard setting, Japan has a promising position to move the G7 collaboration on good AI governance forward. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 


Moldova shut its airspace and reopened it to flights a few hours later Tuesday, a day after its president accused Russia of plotting to overthrow the government. – Wall Street Journal

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg played down on Tuesday the importance of Finland and Sweden joining the world’s biggest security organization at the same time as Turkey refuses to ratify their membership, mostly due to a dispute with Sweden. – Associated Press

Police in Switzerland’s capital evacuated Parliament and related offices Tuesday after a man in a bulletproof vest was arrested near one of its entrances and found to be bearing explosives. – Associated Press

The Romanian Air Force’s surveillance system detected an aerial object that looked like a weather balloon flying in the country’s airspace, the defence ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Britain’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said that Erkin Tuniyaz, the governor of the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, would no longer visit Britain this week, amid a backlash from lawmakers about alleged human rights abuses in the region. – Reuters 

Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson signaled the Nordic nation was preparing for the possibility of joining NATO after neighboring Finland, following comments from the defense alliance’s chief that a joint entry “isn’t the main question.” – Bloomberg 

Ireland will close its so-called “golden visa” program, dominated by wealthy applicants from China, following a review of its “appropriateness.” – Bloomberg 

The UK must “wake up” to the threat posed by China’s challenges to global security, the ex-head of MI6 has said. Sir Alex Younger, who led the UK’s Intelligence Service between 2014 and 2020, said Western nations are “under full press of Chinese espionage”. – BBC

Dutch F-35 jets intercepted and escorted away three Russian warplanes after they neared Polish airspace on Monday, said Dutch Defense Ministry. – Jerusalem Post 

Fiona Alexander writes: Importantly, and in contrast to the ideas floated today in Europe, the funds collected in the US were distributed in a system set up by the FCC and not directly into the accounts of the telephone companies.[…]The world of telecommunications was about to undergo a fundamental revolution. Mobile phone technology required the construction of wireless cellular networks. The invention of the Internet created a new class of network infrastructure, with corresponding Internet Service Providers. How would the US fund this new generation of connectivity? – Center for European Policy Analysis

Stephen Blank writes: Thus, another key lesson from Moldova must be that its “hybrid” war is part of the Ukraine war, and that both countries are now fighting for their lives.[…]Finally, for those still urging negotiations we must ask, inasmuch as Putin has broken seven major bilateral, multilateral, and international treaties, including the UN Charter, to wage this war of aggression, upon what basis can either we or Kyiv negotiate with him? – Center for European Policy Analysis  


The International Monetary Fund has appointed a Swiss-funded financial supervision adviser to provide technical support to the Bank of Ghana as the West African nation strives to obtain executive board approval for a $3 billion bailout. – Reuters

The UN rights office said on Tuesday it was in discussion with Uganda over how to continue its work in the country after the government said it had to leave, a move activists say highlights the country’s deteriorating record on civil liberties. – Reuters  

Kenya deployed the military in its northern region to help fight bandits after they killed more than 100 civilians and 16 police officers in the past six months. – Bloomberg

Nigeria has requested that the United Arab Emirates lift a visa ban placed on visitors from Africa’s largest economy. – Bloomberg  

The Americas

The U.S. arrested and filed criminal charges against the owners of several South Florida companies in connection with the 2021 killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, the Justice Department said Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

The United States said on Tuesday it was “disappointed” in the Mexican government’s announcement the previous day which walked back a deadline to ban genetically modified (GM) corn for animal feed and industrial use in the country, but retained its plans to ban the corn for human consumption. – Reuters 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will stop funding projects affiliated with universities, institutes or labs connected to foreign military, national defense or state security entities. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he plans to return to Brazil in March to lead the political opposition to leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and defend himself against accusations he incited attacks by protesters on government buildings last month. – Wall Street Journal 

Guyana firmly rejects Venezuela’s centuries-old claim — and has been backed by nearly all the world’s governments. To Guyana, the border dispute, such as it ever was, was settled more than a century ago. – Washington Post

Colombia’s central bank may need to consider additional hikes to its benchmark interest rate, depending on how inflation in Latin America’s fourth-largest economy behaves, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday, while not ruling out other internal risks. – Reuters

The offer from the US sounded appealing: if Latin American nations donated their ageing Russian-made military kit to Ukraine, Washington would replace it with superior American weaponry. – Financial Times

United States

US officials admit the would-be ace needed a second shot with one of the air-to-air missiles, which cost at least $400,000 a pop, when engaging the unidentified aerial object from an F-16 fighter Sunday above the sprawling lake on the US-Canada border. – Agence France-Presse

The United States is moving forward with a congressionally required sale of oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). – The Hill  

Editorial: But it is inexcusable that Biden has not given the public an explanation. As commander in chief, his responsibilities do not begin and end with ordering the military to shoot flying objects down. He is our civilian leader and must give answers and, where possible, assurances to the citizens he serves. If there are no good answers, Biden should say so and commit to working to find them. – Washington Examiner 

Arthur Herman and Mike Pompeo write: By emulating Reagan and encouraging Chinese, Russian and Iranian citizens to call out their leaders as dictators and enemies of freedom, while offering support to calls for political change, the new Congress, with its Republican House majority, can lay the foundation for a robust Freedom Agenda for the U.S. in the coming decade.It would also remind America and the world that the U.S. is not the evil empire the woke left likes to claim it is, and that evil is alive and well in Beijing, Moscow and Tehran. – Wall Street Journal 

James K. Glassman writes: Section 232 tariffs have no doubt helped, but they still haven’t resolved the economic and national security threats created by dependence on aluminum produced far from our shores. We can’t let the Chinese win. We can’t let this important industry decline and die. – The Hill  


Hackers said they had taken down the websites of Bahrain’s international airport, state news agency and chamber of commerce on Tuesday to mark the 12-year anniversary of an Arab Spring uprising in the small Gulf country. – Associated Press 

A US jury convicted a wealthy Russian businessman of charges that he and others with ties to the Kremlin made tens of millions of dollars by hacking US computer networks to obtain secret, inside information about multiple companies which they used to make trade. – Reuters

Hackers tied to Russia got dangerously close to knocking out a big chunk of the U.S. power grid last year — and the malware they used is still out there. – Politico 

A team of Israeli contractors who claim to have manipulated more than 30 elections around the world using hacking, sabotage and automated disinformation on social media has been exposed in a new investigation. – The Guardian

The widespread use of Starlink, the constellation of internet satellites operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, by Ukrainian troops in defending against Russia’s invasion is accelerating development of drone warfare, according to experts interviewed by C4ISRNET. – Defense News

NATO plans to launch a new effort this week to streamline the process of gathering, disseminating, and distributing the reams of data collected in space for use by the alliance command structure. – Defense News

The manufacturing industry suffered at least 437 ransomware attacks in 2022, making up more than 70% of these types of costly and disruptive assaults that industrial companies faced last year, according to the cybersecurity firm Dragos. – CyberScoop 

The Russian owner of a technology company with purported links to the Kremlin was convicted on Tuesday in Boston on charges related to hacking into computer networks to get advanced information on stock movements. – The Record

Over the last month, organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey and the Philippines have been hit with a new ransomware that cybersecurity researchers are calling MortalKombat. – The Record

Russian authorities have not yet reached the level of control over the internet exercised by China and the Russian population is “world champions” in using VPN applications to evade government censorship. However, the censorship drive that began even prior to the Ukraine invasion is gaining momentum and is now churning out criminal indictments. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Mark Jamison writes: Members of the Biden administration will have their cake and eat it too if their attacks on Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple are successful. But consumers, investors, and employees will pay for it. – American Enterprise Institute 


The Pentagon scrambled fighter jets to counter four Russian aircraft that approached but didn’t enter US or Canadian airspace, in what officials described as a routine encounter unrelated to the series of unidentified objects shot down in recent days. – Bloomberg 

An F-16-based fighter jet was piloted by artificial intelligence for 17 hours straight — an aviation first. – Washington Examiner 

The Marine Corps’ latest requirements call for nine smaller amphibious ships per regiment to shuttle Marines and equipment between islands and shorelines, service officials said today. – USNI News

The Marine Corps and other service branches are competing to attract the same 412,000 eligible Americans between the ages of 17 to 24, a Marine recruiting commander said Tuesday. – USNI News

The U.S. Navy needs to shed 20 years of how it rearmed and repaired its fleet and prepare for a future of increased risk and contested logistics, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Tuesday. – USNI News

The commander of the U.S. Navy in the Middle East is pitching more countries in the region to use more unmanned systems to counter criminal activities and possible terrorist and military threats off their coasts, the service’s top officer in Central Command told reporters Monday. – USNI News

Raytheon has been awarded an $8.6 million foreign military sales contract through the US Navy to provide Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) with the Navy’s widely-used system for guiding aircraft landings onboard carriers and amphibious vessels. – Breaking Defense