Fdd's overnight brief

February 20, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Israel gave Hamas a Ramadan deadline to return the hostages held in Gaza or face a ground offensive in Rafah, the first timeline it has provided for looming operations in the city that have become a source of tension with the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday voted to oppose plans by some allies to recognize a Palestinian state without Israeli participation in talks, but signaled willingness to engage in direct negotiations with Palestinians, something that hasn’t taken place in over a decade. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration is preparing to send bombs and other weapons to Israel that would add to its military arsenal even as the U.S. pushes for a cease-fire in the war in Gaza, according to current and former U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal

An Israeli raid last week has reduced one of Gaza’s biggest hospitals to little more than a shelter for a small, terrified crew of patients and medical staff, while health officials warned on Monday that food and fuel supplies were almost gone at another hospital that has endured a nearly monthlong siege in the same city, Khan Younis. – New York Times

The International Court of Justice began hearing arguments on Monday on the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. It is the first time the world’s highest court has been asked to give an advisory opinion on the issue, which has been the subject of years of debates and resolutions at the United Nations. – New York Times

Senior U.S., Arab and European officials met in Munich on Friday to discuss progress on formulating a plan for post-war Gaza that would be linked to normalizing ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, officials and diplomats said. – Reuters

All European Union countries except Hungary warned Israel on Monday against launching an offensive in Rafah that they said would deepen the catastrophe of some 1.5 million refugees crammed into the city on the southern edge of Gaza. – Reuters

The United States has circulated a rival U.N. Security Council resolution that would support a temporary cease-fire in Gaza after rejecting an Arab-backed resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the conflict-wracked territory. – Associated Press

Israel has an immediate need for additional U.S. military aid, Israeli sources told Jewish Insider, as the support remains mired in Congress amid disputes between Republicans and Democrats, and the House and Senate, over Ukraine aid and border policy, among other issues — with no clear path or timeline moving forward. – Jewish Insider

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Hamas plan for the October 7th massacre is reported to have included preparations to storm the Shikma Prison in Ashkelon and free the hundreds of terrorists incarcerated with it. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: Three comments by leaders around the world on Sunday are worth noting as a sign of the global times. Each can help vanquish illusions. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: That amounts to a pronouncement by the Biden administration of no confidence in Israel’s justice system. That system deals as effectively as America’s with violence. So for the administration in Washington to impose remote-controlled punishment, without due process, on alleged law-breakers is a calculated insult. It is what one does to non-democratic foes, not to America’s closest Mideast ally. It raises the question of just what are Mr. Biden’s intentions. – New York Sun

Editorial: We have an opportunity now to complete our mission in Gaza. We must continue on this path and at the same time work with our partners abroad to prevent any kind of push for a ceasefire that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza or does not release all the hostages. – Jerusalem Post

Jill Goldenziel writes: The court understands that abusing a term dilutes its intended meaning. Stretching the Genocide Convention too far undermines the rights — and the people — that it was designed to protect. Words have meaning — and misusing them has consequences beyond having a case thrown out of court. Misusing the term erodes its power, meaning, and protection against the most atrocious crime in human history. – Bloomberg

Martin Indyk writes: In the meantime, the process can start with an international commitment to an Arab state of Palestine living alongside a Jewish state of Israel in peace and security—a promise articulated by the United States, endorsed by the Arab states and the international community, and given credibility by a concerted effort to generate a more stable order in Gaza and the West Bank. In the end, the parties to the conflict and the rest of the world may then come to see that decades of destruction, denialism, and deceit did not kill the two-state solution but only made it stronger. – Foreign Affairs

Stephen J. Harper writes: For we know what history has shown us: that antisemitism and anti-Zionism are always the proverbial canaries in the coalmine. Those who embrace such tribal and sectarian hatreds will invariably, in time, aim their guns well beyond the Jewish people. Indeed, if we open our eyes, we will see that they are already doing so. – National Post

Iran

Israel carried out covert attacks on two major natural gas pipelines inside Iran this week, disrupting the flow of heat and cooking gas to provinces with millions of people, according to two Western officials and a military strategist affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. – New York Times

Iran, eager to disrupt U.S. and Israeli interests in the Middle East but wary of provoking a direct confrontation, is privately urging Hezbollah and other armed groups to exercise restraint against U.S. forces, according to officials in the region. – Washington Post

Iran continues to enrich uranium well beyond the needs for commercial nuclear use despite U.N. pressure to stop it, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Monday, adding he wanted to visit Tehran next month for the first time in a year to end the “drifting apart”. – Reuters

Iran unveiled new weaponry on Saturday including what it said was the locally made Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system, the official IRNA news agency reported. – Reuters

The suspension of President Biden’s envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, is now being investigated by the State Department’s inspector general, according to a report from Semafor’s Jay Solomon. Mr. Malley has been a longtime negotiator for Democratic administrations on Middle East issues. – New York Sun

Fatima Abo Alasrar writes: The bond between the Houthis and Iran has grown deep, entwining their fates and regional ambitions. In this understanding lies the key to crafting strategies that are both realistic and grounded, aiming for peace in a landscape where the Houthi-Iran axis is an undeniable presence. As such, a balanced stance toward the Houthis is essential, recognizing the complexity of their involvement in Yemen’s conflict and the broader geopolitical implications. – Middle East Institute

Parker Miller writes: Iran would also benefit from having increased geographical supremacy and influence over territories around it. Furthermore, it would be in a considerably threatening proximity to the United States and its allies if it chose to pursue ballistic and naval warfare from Antarctica. – Washington Examiner

Gianluca Pacchiani writes: While massive crowds have thronged Arab, European and North American cities over the past four months chanting pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel slogans, Iranian streets have witnessed very few such scenes. Only a relatively small number of demonstrations have been staged in the Islamic Republic since October 7 in solidarity with Gazans, and in most cases, they were minor state-sponsored rallies. – Times of Israel

Russia & Ukraine

Alexei Navalny, a fierce anticorruption campaigner who galvanized Russia’s political opposition, died in prison, according to Russian authorities, bringing to an end a life dedicated to fighting the country’s descent into authoritarianism under President Vladimir Putin. – Wall Street Journal

France and Germany lined up long-term military-aid pacts with Ukraine on Friday, as the Biden administration struggles to push its own assistance through Congress and anxieties mount over Donald Trump’s skepticism toward trans-Atlantic security ties. – Wall Street Journal

With the Russian military’s capture of the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka on Saturday, the front line has shifted substantially, setting the stage for the war’s next grueling chapter as Ukrainian forces retrench and Russian troops reform for future assaults. – New York Times

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most formidable opponent, vowed on Monday to carry on her husband’s crusade against the Russian regime, striving to build “a free, peaceful, happy Russia, a beautiful Russia of the future, which my husband dreamed of so much.” – Washington Post

Russia hit only two military targets upon firing 24 North Korean ballistic missiles at Ukraine in recent weeks, Ukraine’s top prosecutor said on Friday, casting doubt on the reliability of Pyongyang’s much-feared, but little-known weaponry. – Reuters

Russia’s Federal Security Service has detained a woman with dual Russian-U.S. citizenship in the Urals mountain city of Yekaterinburg on suspicion of treason for raising funds for Ukraine’s armed forces, the TASS news agency reported. – Reuters

The UK is working with nations including the US to provide Ukraine with thousands of new AI-enabled drones that could swarm Russian targets simultaneously, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Editorial: But the rise of a new martyr will give new force to the questions and accusations Mr. Navalny leveled, making it that much harder for Mr. Putin to sustain the myth of serving Russian greatness. Mr. Navalny was not afraid of suffering, and chose to fight for what he believed in. “I believe in real love,” he told Mr. Akunin. “I believe that Russia will be happy and free. And I do not believe in death.” – New York Times

Ross Douthat writes: What’s needed instead is something much subtler: a public argument that doesn’t concede too much to Russian aggression, but concedes enough to military reality to persuade Americans that they’re making an investment that will actually help bring the conflict to an end. – New York Times

Mikhail Khodorkovsky writes: Simply put, we need strong words and deeds to declare Putin illegitimate. Western countries should be strengthening their support for Ukraine to help engineer Putin’s defeat there. And come March, there should be no congratulations, no good wishes and no legitimacy granted to an illegitimate dictator. If the West wants to honor Navalny’s ultimate sacrifice, it needs to get tougher with his murderer. – Politico

Afghanistan

More than two years after Taliban fighters streamed into the Afghan capital, seizing power here and vowing to cleanse the country of Western decadence, many of them have come to embrace the benefits of urban life. – Washington Post

Taliban officials sent a defiant message to Western nations, donors and Afghan women’s groups this week, refusing to attend a conference hosted by the United Nations to discuss humanitarian crises facing Afghanistan and cooperation on human rights issues. – New York Times

The Taliban set unacceptable conditions for attending a U.N.-sponsored meeting about Afghanistan, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday. – Associated Press

Afghan women feel scared or unsafe leaving their homes alone because of Taliban decrees and enforcement campaigns on clothing and male guardians, according to a report from the U.N. mission in Afghanistan. – Associated Press

Syria

It was a memorial for the “martyrs” killed when the U.S. struck military bases in Syria, according to Iranian state television[…] But the 12 fallen men weren’t Iranians. They were Afghans, according to other soldiers and local media reports, part of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, a largely overlooked force that dates to the height of the Syrian civil war a decade ago. – New York Times

Five drug dealers were killed on Sunday during a foiled attempt to smuggle large quantities of drugs into Jordan from Syria, an army statement said. […]Since the start of the year there has been an escalation in clashes with drug dealers that Jordan says have direct links to pro-Iranian militias and are carrying narcotics, arms and explosives over the border from Syria. – Reuters

The IDF struck targets inside Lebanon and Syria over the weekend, the army announced, as part of an escalation in the North after Hezbollah killed an Israeli soldier on Wednesday and wounded several others. – Jerusalem Post

Turkey

A U.S. threat to hit financial firms doing business with Russia with sanctions has chilled Turkish-Russian trade, disrupting or slowing some payments for both imported oil and Turkish exports, according to seven sources familiar with the matter. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Biden’s presidential memorandum is reality. Whatever the White House desire, any sale of F-16s to Turkey is now illegal, as would be supply to Azerbaijan as Blinken continues with his policy of moral equivalence between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Biden may tell congressional leaders otherwise, but Congress should not accept such inconsistency. – Washington Examiner

Soner Cagaptay writes:  Having reshaped Turkey’s geopolitical path, he now wants to leave behind a positive legacy. This presents Biden, or Biden’s successor, an opportunity to embrace the new Turkey and leverage Ankara’s influence in the era of great power competition. Ankara could be eager to work with Washington on a bevy of issues, including the reconstruction of Ukraine and Gaza and countering Russian and Chinese influence in Africa and the Balkans, even as it retains ties with Russia and Gulf monarchies. Turkey has jettisoned any desire to join the West, and the United States must recognize that its multialignment is here to stay. – Foreign Affairs

Egypt

Egyptian and Israeli officials denied Friday that either country was planning to move Palestinian refugees out of the Gaza Strip and into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. – Washington Post

Egypt is building a wall and is leveling land near its border with the Gaza Strip ahead of a planned Israeli offensive targeting the border city of Rafah, satellite images analyzed Friday by The Associated Press show. – Associated Press

A Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh, along with the Deputy Chairman of Hamas in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, are set to arrive in Cairo on Tuesday, Israeli media reported. – Jerusalem Post

Saudi media reports that Israel has information and assessments that indicate that Hamas leaders have escaped into Egypt. The potential fugitives include both Yahya Sinwar and his brother Mohammed as well as other senior figures in the organization. – Arutz Sheva

Arabian Peninsula

The interior ministers of four Arab countries held talks in Jordan on Saturday to discuss ways of combatting the illegal drug trade in the region and agreed to set up a joint telecommunications cell to exchange information. – Associated Press

Conflict mediator Qatar on Monday criticised comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which it said he asked the Gulf state to pressure Hamas into freeing Israeli hostages, describing them as a new attempt to prolong the Gaza war. – Reuters

Qatar’s foreign minister said negotiations aimed at securing an Israel-Hamas cease-fire and the release of hostages haven’t progressed as hoped, with issues such as how to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza still to be resolved. – Bloomberg

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said on Monday that normalization with Israel requires both an end to the fighting in the Gaza Strip as well as the establishment of a Palestinian state – Arutz Sheva

Tomas Sandell writes: The clock is ticking for the remaining hostages in Gaza, but it’s also ticking for Qatar. The kingdom faced severe criticism for its domestic human rights record during the World Cup, but it remained largely unscathed. It is not certain that European policymakers and consumers will continue to look between their fingers if it can be established that Qatar is part of the problem in the Middle East and not the solution. The best way for Qatar to prove that it is a respectable part of the European cultural and economic landscape would be to help secure a hostage release now — before it is too late. – Washington Examiner

Yemen

The Pentagon is investigating the cause of a crash of an American military surveillance drone off the coast of Yemen on Monday morning, two U.S. officials said. – New York Times

The United States struck five Houthi military targets, including an undersea drone, in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Saturday, the U.S. military announced on Sunday. – New York Times

Iranian-backed Houthi militants claimed on Monday that they had launched one of their most damaging attacks yet on a ship, saying that a strike put a British cargo ship at risk of sinking. – Washington Post

The European Union has launched Monday a naval mission to help protect cargo ships in the Red Sea as attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen continue to threaten maritime traffic, hamper trade and drive up prices. – Associated Press

In an apparent sign of American success, the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea have temporarily slowed down in the aftermath of a reported cyberattack on an Iranian spy ship. Yet, as attacks inevitably resume, much more military effort will be needed to return the essential maritime artery to full function. – New York Sun

Selin Uysal writes: Convincing reluctant regional countries and EU member states of the mission’s usefulness beyond the current crisis would make it a real milestone in the effort to strengthen Europe’s diplomacy toward its Arab partners, its naval presence in the Northwest Indian Ocean, and its fledgling strategy for the Indo-Pacific. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

The United Nations mission in Libya has urged authorities to investigate the shooting deaths of 10 people in a Tripoli neighbourhood, with city security chiefs saying the victims included two members of a powerful armed faction. – Reuters

At least two air strikes hit an area near the coastal Lebanese town of Ghaziyeh on Monday, witnesses said, after the Israeli military said it had struck weapons depots near the port city of Sidon. – Reuters

A visit by the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force to Baghdad has led to a pause in attacks on U.S. troops by Iran-aligned groups in Iraq, multiple Iranian and Iraqi sources told Reuters, saying it was a sign Tehran wants to prevent a broader conflict. – Reuters

Yair Netanyahu said that the Biden administration’s approach to Iran is “the source of all chaos in the Middle East” in an interview this week with Josh Hammer, editor of Newsweek. – Jerusalem Post

David Siegel writes: The threats to the Western alliance posed by ambitious and malevolent state and non-state actors demand the formation of multilateral strategic partnerships. A triad consisting of the United States, Europe, and Israel, working in concert with other countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco, will possess the necessary critical mass to oppose threats in their respective regions. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

On a recent four-day weekend, nearly 100 Russians ventured to a place no foreign travelers had entered since the start of the pandemic: North Korea. […]It is no coincidence that Russian nationals were the first foreign tourists to the country since the Kim Jong Un regime slammed its borders closed in early 2020. The two countries have significantly deepened economic and military ties since President Vladimir Putin hosted Kim in Russia for a rare summit last September. – Wall Street Journal

The family of a South Korean man forced to work for a Japanese company during Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation has received money from the Japanese firm he worked for, marking the first time a forced labour victim has secured such funds in a legal case. […]Tokyo says the rulings for compensation violate diplomatic agreements aimed at resolving the issue. – Reuters

Robert Farley writes: All of the discussion of different scenarios should not obscure the central fact of a second Korean War: it would be the most devasting event of the post-war period in terms of the human and financial cost. As Lawrence Freedman writes, “the safest assumption must be that in its scale and intensity a Second Korean War would be unlike anything experienced in recent decades, especially by Western countries.” No matter how poorly negotiations go, the United States should not seriously contemplate policies that exacerbate the risk of a second war in Korea. – The National Interest

Oriana Skylar Mastro writes: For now, coordination between North Korea and Russia makes it harder for the United States and its allies to compel either country to leave behind its revisionist, aggressive tendencies and assume a constructive role in the international community. But if their relationship sufficiently threatens China, Beijing may choose to distance itself from both Moscow and Pyongyang. It might even go so far as to try to push North Korea and Russia apart. – Foreign Affairs

China

The former chairman of the Bank of China has been indicted on bribery charges, prosecutors said Monday, adding to a long list of business and government officials who have been brought down by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s yearslong anticorruption drive. – Associated Press

U.S. lawmakers are raising alarms about what they see as America’s failure to compete with China in biotechnology, warning of the risks to U.S. national security and commercial interests. But as the two countries’ rivalry expands into the biotech industry, some say that shutting out Chinese companies would only hurt the U.S. – Associated Press

China’s foreign minister told a gathering of international security policy officials Saturday that trying to shut China out of trade in the name of avoiding dependency would be a historic mistake. – Associated Press

Beijing called on Washington to lift sanctions and end the harassment of Chinese nationals traveling to the US, a reminder of diplomatic challenges that remain between the two countries even as ties start to warm. – Bloomberg

China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan during military exercises but has expanded its training to include a similar attack on Japanese holdings in the East China Sea, according the chief of intelligence of the U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLEET). – USNI News

Asia

The boarding of a Taiwanese tourist boat by China’s coast guard near sensitive frontline islands triggered “panic” among Taiwan’s people, a government minister said on Tuesday, but Taiwan’s military added it was not planning to get involved. – Reuters

A joint air patrol by the Philippines with the United States was aimed at protecting territory and national interests in the South China Sea, a Philippine military official said Tuesday, after Beijing accused Manila of stirring up trouble. – Reuters

The Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said on Friday he supported funding for U.S.-allied Pacific Island nations as a way to counter the influence of China, and would push to include them in any supplemental security aid bill. – Reuters

China is stepping up patrols in the waters off the coast of Taiwan’s Kinmen archipelago, days after two of its fishermen drowned while being chased by the Taiwanese coast guard, which accused the boat of trespassing. – Associated Press

Australia plans to more than double the size of its naval combat fleet while scaling back the number of troubled BAE Systems Plc Hunter-Class frigates it builds, in a drive to meet the challenges in the Indo-Pacific region. – Bloomberg

Europe

Hungary, the last holdout blocking Sweden’s entry into NATO, thumbed its nose over the weekend at the United States, declining to meet with a bipartisan delegation of senators who had come to press the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to swiftly approve the Nordic nation’s entry into the military alliance. – New York Times

Even as they insist they are not dancing to Donald Trump’s tune on NATO, European leaders are singing from a song sheet designed to appeal to the former U.S. president and his Republican supporters. – Reuters

China is ready to work with the European Union to uphold free trade, practice multilateralism, and promote an equal and orderly multi-polar world and inclusive economic globalisation, its foreign minister said during a visit to Spain. – Reuters

Germany may need to spend more than 2% of its gross domestic product on defence to deter Russia in the coming years, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Saturday. – Reuters

China offered to support long-time strategic partner Hungary on public security issues, going beyond trade and investment relations, during a rare meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, just as NATO struggles to expand its network in Europe. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government will announce in the coming days an agreement for cooperation with the European Union’s border protection agency, Frontex, in a further sign of thawing post-Brexit relations. – Reuters

UK opposition leader Keir Starmer said the “fighting must stop now” in Gaza, as he prepares for another sensitive Parliament vote this week that could reignite tensions in his Labour Party. – Bloomberg

The European Union should consider new set of sanctions on Russia following the death of Alexey Navalny, Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Monday. – Bloomberg

The European Union should work on a plan to issue €100 billion ($107.8 billion) in eurobonds to boost the continent’s defense industry, and in the meantime do more to get weapons to Ukraine, Estonia’s prime minister said. – Bloomberg

Ivo Daalder writes:  “Trump-proofing” NATO and European defense — as the phrase now goes — won’t be easy. But many now recognize it has to be done. Even if Biden is reelected, Europeans are increasingly aware that the era of strong transatlantic presidents may be coming to an end. – Politico

Africa

A wave of gruesome killings of women across several African countries in recent weeks has prompted outrage and indignation, triggered a wave of protests and precipitated calls for governments to take decisive action against gender-based violence. – New York Times

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday that it had reached a staff level agreement with Ivory Coast for a $1.3 billion programme to fight climate change supported by the fund’s Resilience and Sustainability Facility. – Reuters

The United States on Saturday condemned worsening violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), blaming it on M23, an armed group it said is backed by Rwanda. – Reuters

Sudan’s armed forces have ordered an investigation into a video that purportedly shows some of its troops carrying the severed heads of members of the rival paramilitary faction in the country’s civil war, the military said Friday. – Associated Press

The Americas

A Haitian judge has indicted 51 people for their roles in the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, including his wife, Martine Moïse, who is accused of being an accomplice, despite being seriously wounded in the attack. – New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel next week to Brazil and Argentina, where he is set to meet with both countries’ leaders and attend a gathering of G20 foreign ministers, the State Department said on Friday. – Reuters

Ecuador plans to reverse a decision to swap decades-old Russian-made weaponry with the US, Moscow’s ambassador to the country, Vladimir Sprinchan, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti. – Bloomberg

Latin America

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil recalled his ambassador to Israel on Monday, as tensions escalated between the countries over the Brazilian leader’s sharp remarks against Israel’s war on Hamas. – New York Times

British Foreign Minister David Cameron will visit the Falkland Islands as part of his first South Atlantic and South American tour since assuming his current role, the foreign office said on Sunday. – Reuters

Israel’s foreign minister said Monday that Brazil’s president would not be welcome in Israel until he apologizes for comments he made comparing Israel’s war in Gaza to the Holocaust, accusing him of a “very serious antisemitic attack.” – Associated Press

Venezuela’s government and opposition on Wednesday doubled down on their respective defense and condemnation of the detention of a prominent human rights attorney, evidencing once more their vastly different interpretations of an agreement to work on conditions for a free and fair presidential election this year. – Associated Press

Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, Sergey Lavrov, will travel to Cuba, Venezuela, and Brazil starting Monday — and it bodes nothing but trouble. – New York Sun

Editorial: The U.S. has said it will reimpose sanctions on oil and gas investments and sales in April. Like Argentine Gen. Galtieri in the 1980s, war drums and nationalism are a last resort. – Wall Street Journal

Shannon K. O’Neil writes: If Latin American nations prosper, their citizens will have more reasons to plan for futures at home. Latin America’s combination of proximity, bounty, and democratic bona fides make its countries better suppliers, producers, customers, and partners for the United States than nations in any other place in the world. Latin America has so much of what the United States needs—and vice versa. – Foreign Affairs

United States

The State Department on Friday designated the Houthis as a terrorist organization, following through on a mid-January warning to crack down on the Yemen-based militant group. – New York Times

Former president Donald Trump, who earlier this month set off worries among allies after he said he would encourage Russia to invade a NATO country that wasn’t spending enough on defense, has remained largely silent on the death of Alexei Navalny, only appearing to suggest baselessly that he is being persecuted in the way Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most potent political opponent was. – Washington Post

Last month, Richard Haass, the former longtime head of the Council on Foreign Relations, approached top officials in the Biden administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, with an audacious plan for changing the politics around the Israel-Hamas war. – Politico

Four American senators recounted a story Ukrainian officials told them at the Munich Security Conference: A soldier in a muddy trench with Russian artillery exploding nearby, scrolling on his phone for signs the U.S. House would approve military aid. – Politico

Vice President Kamala Harris declared Washington’s continued support for Israel in its goal of defeating Hamas in a Friday speech at the Munich Security Conference. – Jewish Insider

Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes: America can’t have it both ways. Mandating EVs without banning imports from Chinese companies, both those located in China and elsewhere, will give the U.S. auto market to the Chinese, in the same way as Chinese companies are taking over auto markets globally. And allowing Chinese EV imports poses major national security threats, as well as giving the CCP control over the U.S. economy. Watch out, America, because the Dragon is coming for our cars. – Heritage Foundation

Cybersecurity

Lockbit, a notorious cybercrime gang that holds its victims’ data to ransom, has been disrupted in a rare international law enforcement operation, the gang and U.S. and UK authorities said on Monday. – Reuters

The European Union said Monday it is investigating whether TikTok has broken the bloc’s strict new digital rules for cleaning up social media and keeping internet users safe. – Associated Press

Major technology companies signed a pact Friday to voluntarily adopt “reasonable precautions” to prevent artificial intelligence tools from being used to disrupt democratic elections around the world. – Associated Press

The European Union is expanding its strict digital rulebook on Saturday to almost all online platforms in the bloc, in the next phase of its crackdown on toxic social media content and dodgy ecommerce products that began last year by targeting the most popular services. – Associated Press

A Russia-linked hacking group is exploiting a known bug in a popular webmail server to spy on government and military agencies in Europe, as well as Iranian embassies in Russia, according to a new report. – The Record

China-backed hackers are increasingly targeting telecom carriers, internet providers and other critical infrastructure in Japan, according to Kazutaka Nakamizo, deputy director of the country’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC). – The Record

Russian hackers attacked several popular Ukrainian media outlets over the weekend, posting fake news related to the war. – The Record

Minxin Pei writes: China’s success in controlling the battlefield in cyberspace reveals the CCP’s tactical adaptability in the face of a novel threat to its hold on power. If anything, it shows that we must never underestimate the party’s determination to perpetuate its rule—or its capabilities for doing so. – Foreign Policy

Defense

The U.S. Andersen Air Force Base in Guam is set to open its doors to half of Singapore’s F-15 fleet, as the city state seeks to ramp up its combat readiness. – Defense News

The Navy has developed a blueprint to help guide design goals and reference architectures as it seeks to modernize its information systems for the future. – DefenseScoop

Rachel Hoff and Reed Kessler write: As we look to tomorrow’s fight, we would do well to remember that the United States has the most highly trained and capable military in the world not only because of the resources at its disposal but because of its human capital. As US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reminded us at the Reagan National Defense Forum, “Our people are the greatest strategic asset that we have.”- Breaking Defense

Chels Michta writes: The RTF should provide a blueprint for making the United States “Freedom’s Forge” yet again.  This is a time for the government to step in, for much as FDR understood in the wake of Japan’s deadly strike on US naval and military forces in Hawaii, a national defense mobilization effort will not be solved by industry alone. We need a whole-of-government and whole-of-industry effort to ensure America’s security and defense in an increasingly unstable world. – Center for European Policy Analysis