Fdd's overnight brief

February 21, 2024

In The News

Israel

The U.S. vetoed an Algerian proposal at the United Nations Security Council that called for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, saying that a cessation of hostilities without securing the release of hostages in Hamas’s captivity would only prolong the conflict. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli army is expanding a road across central Gaza to facilitate its military operations, part of its plans to maintain security control over the enclave for some time, according to defense officials. – Wall Street Journal

Rachel Goldberg-Polin numbers her days. On Day Seven, she spoke to President Biden on a Zoom call. On Day 37, she was forced to wear her hair down for a TV interview after she lost her hair clip. On Day 88, a college student asked her a question no one else had thought to ask: “What can we do to ease your pain?” – Wall Street Journal

Relatives of an Israeli mother and child who appeared to be shown in captivity in Gaza in newly released videos from the day of the Hamas-led attack said Tuesday they hoped the footage would call attention to the urgency of freeing the hostages. – New York Times

Britain’s opposition Labour Party has called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, a change of policy that seeks to avoid another parliamentary rebellion over an issue that has caused deep internal divisions. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Tuesday that Israel would not pay any price for the return of hostages still held in Gaza amid ongoing negotiations to secure their release. – Reuters

The World Food Programme said on Tuesday it was pausing deliveries of food aid to northern Gaz​​a until conditions in the Palestinian enclave allow for safe distribution. – Reuters

​​The United States and Russia will present arguments on Wednesday in proceedings at the U.N.’s highest court examining the legality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. –  Reuters 

The Group of 20 nations is so split on the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine that they may be forced to reduce the forum’s scope and avoid geopolitical issues altogether this year, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

State Department officials privately took aim at a roughly $1 million grant to support investigations into alleged human rights abuses in Israel after the agency defended it, emails show. – Washington Examiner

An Arab country close to Hamas is calling on the terrorist group to lay down its arms, a report in the Israeli press said late on Tuesday. – New York Sun

Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, may have escaped with hostages to Egypt via tunnels in Rafah, the Saudi-based Elaph news site reported on Tuesday citing an Israeli security source. – Algemeiner

Israel has denied allegations made by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) charging Israeli forces with rape, abduction and extrajudicial killings of Palestinian women in Gaza, labeling them “despicable and unfounded.” – Algemeiner

A senior US official will seek to advance a hostage deal and press for assurances from Israel on a Rafah offensive in a trip this week, the White House said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Residents of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip and Rafah in the south took to the streets on Tuesday night to protest against Hamas leaders amid the ongoing war with Israel. Since the beginning of the conflict, there have been several protests by Gazan residents against the terrorist organization, but this is still a rather exceptional event. – Jerusalem Post

The head of the Arab media division in the IDF Spokesperson Unit, Avichay Adraee, issued a call in Arabic to civilians still remaining in the Zitun and Turkmen neighborhoods of Gaza City, telling them to evacuate to the humanitarian areas south of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Authority condemned on Tuesday evening the veto imposed by the US on a proposed resolution in the UN Security Council that would oblige Israel to stop the war in the Gaza Strip. – Arutz Sheva

IDF troops operated in the area of Zaytun, south of Gaza City over the past day, and killed dozens of terrorists in ground encounters and targeted air strikes. – Arutz Sheva

During an operation last week, the Paratrooper Brigade combat team located large quantities of weapons inside a building adjacent to a UN school in Khan Yunis. The school had been used as a humanitarian shelter for Gazan residents. The weapons found by the IDF include AK-47s, warheads, grenades, RPGs and ammunition. The terrorists used a gap in the school wall as a passage to the adjacent building, from which they took their weapons to use in attacks on IDF soldiers. – Arutz Sheva

Israel plans to buy “tens of thousands” of assault rifles from local businesses as part of a “requirement to renew and strengthen the [Israel Defense Forces’] stockpile of weapons,” the Defense Ministry announced this week. – Defense News

Editorial: If anything, Biden should pressure Egypt to match Israel’s commitment to protecting civilians. Egypt could provide security to thousands of Gazan refugees every day. But instead of welcoming those fleeing the terror of Hamas, Egypt has built a wall and is keeping them out. This will only make Israel’s job harder. Biden either supports Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas or he does not. He cannot both claim to support Israel’s war against the terrorists and deny our ally the means to conduct that war. Biden must stare down the pro-Hamas wing of his party and withdraw this United Nations resolution. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: The international courts and bodies must therefore recognize for themselves that while they may disagree with the actions carried out in time of war by a fellow democracy, it is not in their right to investigate any sort of crime that does not fall under their jurisdiction. – Jerusalem Post

Benny Avni writes: Yet, even with America’s veto on a one-sided Algerian resolution, the administration seems ready to weaken support for Israel at the UN. And Ms. Thomas-Greenfield promises to further appease the council’s cease-fire-now majority, further distancing America from Israel’s vow to dismantle Hamas’s hold on Gaza. – New York Sun

Seth Mandel writes: All of which is why the surge in anti-Semitic activism dressed up as “anti-Zionism” since October 7 has done more to bury the two-state solution than anything that came before it save the several times Palestinian leadership explicitly rejected the offer of a state. And that doesn’t mean the region goes back to the drawing board, or some creative solution is found that merges all parties into one sovereign entity. It means the Palestinians will be denied an independent state of their own, because Israel isn’t going anywhere. – Commentary

Dennis Prager writes: Israel is a modern liberal democracy. It has a robust free press, vibrant opposition, and an independent judiciary. Two million Israelis—a fifth of the country’s population—are Arabs, who, in the words of the Council on Foreign Relations, “have the same legal rights as Jewish Israelis have.” They have their own political parties, with 10 seats in Israel’s parliament. Arabic, as any tourist to Israel sees, is alongside Hebrew, Israel’s official language. There have even been Arab supreme court justices. – The Daily Signal

Iran

Iran’s nuclear chief on Wednesday dismissed a suggestion that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi would visit Iran next month but instead invited Grossi to a conference in Tehran in May. – Reuters

The number of Christians arrested in Iran jumped sharply in the last six months of 2023, according to a religious rights group, which called on the government to “immediately and unconditionally” release all Christians detained on charges relating to their faith and religious activities. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Parker Miller writes: There is an easy solution to this: The United States can present itself as the alternative. Make clear that friendship with the Christian nation is our goal, and not only can Armenia be saved from imminent destruction and being tied to Iran, but America can gain another geopolitical stronghold against Iran as tensions continue to grow. If Armenia is further ignored and neglected by the world, it may be the final straw that leads to direct military involvement in Western Asia. – Washington Examiner

Robert Farley writes: On the upside, even if the campaign failed to dislodge the Tehran government, it could cause significant long-term damage to Iran’s military, economic and scientific infrastructure, setting back Tehran’s military ambitions in the region. This outcome is probably most amenable to US allies in the Middle East, who don’t worry overmuch about the prospect of committing the United States to an open-ended military conflict with Iran. Regime change might work, but there’s little good reason to believe the chances of such are high. A war would incur serious costs on Iran, but would also commit the United States to the destruction of the Islamic Republic, a process that could take decades, if it succeeds at all. – The National Interest  

Zvi Bar’el writes: The proximity of Qaani’s visit and the cessation of attacks on American targets should not be surprising. Iran keeps repeating that each one of its partners in the “axis of resistance,” including Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, operate independently, “based on conditions and circumstances that suit them in any one of the arenas.” However, Qaani’s appearance in Baghdad proved overtly, if proof was needed, the direct link between Tehran and the region’s “axis of resistance” militias. This link has its own limitations, which illustrate the limits of Iran’s influence. – Haaretz

Russia & Ukraine

Russia detained a woman with dual U.S. and Russian citizenship over suspected treason, alleging that she raised money for the Ukrainian war effort, authorities said, adding another to the list of American citizens it has in its custody. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s capture of the east Ukrainian city of Avdiivka is the clearest sign yet of a shift in the war’s momentum as it approaches its third year. – Wall Street Journal

A Russian court upheld the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, whom the U.S. government deems to be wrongfully detained, following recent remarks by President Vladimir Putin that he is open to a prisoner exchange for the journalist’s release. – Wall Street Journal

A banner at the bus stop outside this grieving village in northeast Ukraine delivers a verdict — and a warning to would-be Russian informants. – Washington Post 

Alexei Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, appealed to President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to direct authorities in the northern Yamalo-Nenets region to hand over the opposition leader’s body for burial. – Washington Post

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has asked the European Union to refuse to recognise Russia’s March presidential election, in a step that sharply escalates her campaign against Vladimir Putin – Reuters

Delays in weapons deliveries from Western allies to Ukraine are opening a door for Russian battlefield advances, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, making the fight “very difficult” along parts of the front line where the Kremlin’s forces captured a strategic city last weekend ahead of the war’s second anniversary. – Associated Press

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday that his country needs long-range missiles and other ammunition to end Russia’s invasion, and said he expects a U.S. aid package that’s stalled in Congress to come through, speaking at a news conference the day after he attended a conference in Tokyo on reconstructing Ukraine – Associated Press

The Pentagon failed to prepare adequate plans upfront to guide Ukraine forces in maintaining fighting vehicles, like M1 tanks, as well as Patriot air defense interceptors, according to the inspector general for the Defense Department. – Bloomberg

Ukraine is seeking to expand its military “drone coalition” with allies, to include at least 20 new countries to help supply drones, cooperate on technology, and strengthen its military as the war with Russia enters its third year. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia was against the deployment of nuclear weapons in space, and his defence minister flatly denied U.S. claims that Russia was developing a nuclear capability for space. – Reuters

David Ignatius writes: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signaled exactly what he needs — long-range ATACM-300 missiles — during a private meeting with a bipartisan congressional group. He brought out a map showing the Russian targets in occupied Crimea that could be hit by those ATACMS. The strikes wouldn’t liberate Crimea, but they would rattle Russia’s confidence and lift Ukrainian morale at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks he’s in control. – Washington Post

Anthony Grant writes: If the fact that the venerable Moscow Times is no longer published in Moscow wasn’t enough of a sign that the press in Russia is now an Orwellian disaster, the tragic omission of the death of dissident Alexei Navalny from most of what’s left of the Russian press surely is. – New York Sun

Dennis Soltys writes: Ukrainian soldiers can be killed only once. At current rates of supply, Ukraine is in danger of receiving enough weapons only after there will be no more troops left to use them. Therefore, the U.S. Congress should move quickly to reverse past political and strategic errors. Moreover, its electors should understand that threats to American security and economic interests could be averted by appropriate and timely aid to Ukraine, which that country has shown it can use to great effect. – The National Interest

Afghanistan

The Taliban boycotted a United Nations-sponsored conference on Afghanistan, the first time the extremist group was invited to participate in a major international event since it seized power in 2021. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

On Feb. 20, 2004, Anna and Ryan Corbett got married in New York before traveling to the United Kingdom and France on their honeymoon. They talked about redoing their honeymoon this February to celebrate two decades of marriage together. But Ryan Corbett can’t be with his wife or children this Tuesday because he’s been wrongfully detained, as determined by the State Department, by the Taliban in Afghanistan for more than a year and a half. – Washington Examiner 

Lynne O’Donnell writes: The Taliban’s transnational ambitions are threatening security beyond the borders of Afghanistan, and nowhere is this more evident than in Pakistan’s northwest, where the militant presence has been growing since the terrorist-led group came back to power in August 2021. Attacks on civilians, soldiers, and police have soared. The region bristles with checkpoints and hilltop outposts and is heavily patrolled on the ground and in the air by the Pakistan Army and armed border police. That’s during daylight hours, Dawar told Foreign Policy. Once night falls, it’s a different story. – Foreign Policy

Syria

An Israeli airstrike hit a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district in Syria’s capital Damascus on Wednesday, killing two people, Syrian state media and a security source said. – Reuters

Iranian-supported militias in Iraq and Syria have carried out more than 180 attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East since mid-October, but there haven’t been any for more than two weeks now. The most recent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan were carried out on Feb. 4, deputy Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday. It’s unclear whether the cessation will continue long-term. – Washington Examiner

Mohammad Syfkhan trained as a surgical nurse but fled Syria after Islamic State killed one of his sons. Settled in Ireland, he is now creating vital cross-cultural bonds. – The Guardian

Turkey

Turkish authorities have detained six people suspected of spying on Uyghurs in Turkey for China’s intelligence service, and another suspect was being sought by police, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

Turkey spent nearly two years — along with Hungary — holding up Sweden’s accession to NATO. It’s bought powerful Russian weapons systems and its outspoken President Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly lambastes leaders of allied Western countries. Relations between Turkey and the West have been strained, to say the least. But with the decision to allow Sweden into NATO in late January — a move that required unanimous approval by all 31 members of the alliance — it’s as if a switch has been flipped. – CNBC

Robert Ellis writes: The bottom line is that both Turkey and Egypt are in dire straits. Last August, Steven Cook, in a devastating critique, explained how Sisi had promised Egyptians prosperity but left Egypt flat broke. The same applies to Erdogan and Turkey. In 2018, former governor of Turkey’s Central Bank, Durmus Yilmaz,  blasted Erdogan’s handling of the economy, which for most of the 2000s was one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Cheap credit went to government giveaways, crony contracts, pork barrel projects, and conspicuous consumption. Then, the global financial crisis struck. Just two years ago, Erdogan told the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSIAD) that as a Muslim, he would continue to lower interest rates in accordance with Islamic teaching and has fired three central bank governors for not reducing them. – The National Interest

Lebanon

In an interview on Radio North 104.5FM on Tuesday, the Alma Center’s director of research, Tal Be’eri, referred to a report by the French newspaper Liberation claiming that Hezbollah has a secret tunnel network. This tunnel network, according to the report, is even more advanced than that of Hamas in Gaza. – Jerusalem Post

Hezbollah struggled to contain flames that erupted on Monday evening after Israeli fighter jets struck Hezbollah weapons storage facilities, as well as an oil production plant, near the city of the Lebanese city of Sidon, local media reported on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

A Russian citizen was sentenced in Lebanon by a military court to eight years in prison for spying for Israel, the Russian news source Ria Novosti reported on Wednesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

A drone launched by the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon crashed into the yard of a home in a community near the northern coastal city of Acre on Tuesday afternoon, the military said – Times of Israel

Arabian Peninsula

A cargo ship is at risk of sinking in the Gulf of Aden after being hit by Yemen-based Houthis in the most significant strike since the Iran-backed group started launching attacks last fall in a crucial shipping lane to disrupt global commerce.  – Wall Street Journal

A U.S. military Mq-9 drone was shot down near Yemen by Iran-backed militants, two U.S. officials said on Tuesday, the second time such a shoot down has taken place in recent months during a near daily tit-for-tat between the group and U.S. forces. – Reuters 

The French navy has shot down two drones over the Red Sea where Yemen’s Houthi rebels have been attacking ships, the defense ministry in Paris said Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Qatar has received confirmation from Hamas that the terror group has acquired medications for the Israeli hostages in Gaza and that it has begun delivering them to the abductees, Doha announced on Tuesday, over one month after the medical shipment entered the enclave. – Times of Israel

Over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been assailing the leadership of Qatar, which is mediating between Israel and Hamas on a hostage deal. He has repeatedly and publicly accused it of not doing enough to bring the 134 Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip home. – Haaretz

Korean Peninsula

Russian President Vladimir Putin has gifted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a Russian-made car for his personal use in a demonstration of their special relationship, North Korea’s state media reported Tuesday –  Associated Press

A North Korean missile used by Russia and recovered in Ukraine had several hundred parts that could be sourced from overseas manufacturers, showing that Pyongyang is finding ways to evade sanctions on components, a report said. – Bloomberg

A Chinese man arrested in Australia is awaiting extradition to the United States for alleged involvement in a North Korean scheme to generate revenue by selling counterfeit cigarettes, Australian authorities said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Korea Aerospace Industries has secured another European missile supplier with the signature of a cooperation agreement with German arms manufacturer Diehl Defence that will see the integration of the IRIS-T missile into the FA-50 and KF-21 combat aircraft. – Defense News

Donald Kirk writes: “No longer can North Korea count on unqualified support from Cuba as a Communist comrade and ally against a common foe, America. Or so it would seem since Cuba and South Korea decided on Valentine’s Day that they needed each other for the most pragmatic of reasons – trade and investment. – New York Sun

China

A recent gathering of world leaders and military officials in southern Germany exposed the growing divisions between the European Union and China over the bloc’s biggest security concern — the war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

Chinese companies are doing something rarely seen since the 1970s: setting up their own volunteer armies. At least 16 major Chinese firms, including a privately-owned dairy giant, have established fighting forces over the past year, according to a CNN analysis of state media reports. – CNN

China this week unveiled the export version of the signature attack helicopter by the People’s Liberation Army at the Singapore Airshow here. – Defense News

Nectar Gan and Wayne Chang writes: For years, sightseeing boat tours between Kinmen and Xiamen, the closest city on the Chinese mainland, have offered Taiwanese tourists a chance to gaze at China’s dazzling skyline without the hassle of border checks, with China operating similar tour boats for its citizens too. But now, the popular route has been caught up in rising tensions as China’s coast guard ramps up patrols in the area – in what analysts say is Beijing’s latest effort to tilt the status quo in its favor by undermining Taiwan’s control of the waters. – CNN

Yaqiu Wang writes: Women in China are fiercely fighting back against the government’s plan to strengthen the patriarchy, despite the authoritarian regime’s brutal record of silencing anyone who dares to challenge its rule. – The Hill

South Asia

Thousands of farmers on tractors have surrounded India’s capital threatening to descend on the city with demands that the government put a legal floor under prices, as one of the country’s largest constituencies flexes its muscles ahead of national elections this year.  – Wall Street Journal

The intimidating myth of an all-powerful military in Pakistan has been smashed in public view. The first cracks began to appear two years ago, when thousands of Pakistanis rallied alongside an ousted prime minister who had railed against the generals’ iron grip on politics. A year later, angry mobs stormed military installations and set them aflame. – New York Times

The political rivals of Pakistan’s imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan announced details of a power-sharing agreement late Tuesday, naming Shehbaz Sharif as their joint candidate for prime minister. – Associated Press

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu mandir (temple) last week in a festive consecration ceremony attended by Hindu and Muslim leaders and thousands of spectators. – Times of Israel

The Indian Navy deployed two carrier battle groups to the Bay of Bengal for New Delhi’s multinational naval drill Exercise Milan 2024. INS Vikramaditya (R33) and INS Vikrant (R11) and their accompanying escorts, as well as other Indian Navy warships, maritime patrol aircraft and drones, are slated to participate in one of the region’s largest multilateral naval drills from Feb. 19 to 27 – USNI News

Asia

Australian writer Yang Hengjun will not appeal a suspended death sentence in China because the process would delay the possibility of supervised medical care, his family said in a statement on Wednesday. – Reuters

Taiwan has not increased military deployments on frontline islands facing China and there is nothing unusual in the military situation around Taiwan, the defence ministry said on Wednesday amid a rise in tensions with Beijing. – Reuters 

A tribal clash in Papua New Guinea’s remote highlands in which at least 26 people were killed has put a growing internal security problem under the microscope in the strategically vital South Pacific island nation that has garnered closer military attention from the United States and China. – Associated Press

The U.S. is set to sell three to five Virginia-class boats to Australia. But to do this, submarine manufacturers HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat would have to build 2.33 boats a year. HII builds the bows and sterns for the Virginia boats and Electric Boat builds the central hull around the reactors. The pair have a similar teaming arrangement for the Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine. – USNI News

Europe

Sweden’s defence ministry said on Tuesday the Nordic country will donate military aid to Ukraine worth some 7.1 billion Swedish crowns ($682 million), including the transfer of equipment and fresh cash for arms procurement. – Reuters 

Protests by Polish farmers sparked anger in neighbouring Ukraine on Tuesday, as Kyiv called on the European Commission to take robust action after demonstrators blockaded the border and opened railway carriages to let grain spill out. – Reuters 

Russian emigres in Spain critical of the Kremlin called on the Spanish authorities on Tuesday to better protect them, after a Russian pilot who had defected to Ukraine was found shot dead in a garage in a town on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. – Reuters

The European Union summoned Russia’s representative to the EU and called for an independent international investigation into the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the EU’s diplomatic service said on Tuesday. –  Reuters

Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Tuesday that her country had successfully halted a hybrid operation by Russia’s security services on Estonian territory. – Reuters

Four high-level Egyptian security officials went on trial in absentia before a Rome court on Tuesday, accused in the 2016 abduction, torture and slaying of an Italian doctoral student in Cairo. – Associated Press 

A vote in Hungary’s parliament on ratifying Sweden’s bid to join NATO could come as early as Monday, according to a senior member of the country’s governing Fidesz party. It would bring an end to more than 18 months of delays by the nationalist government that have frustrated Hungary’s allies. – Associated Press

Russia is rebuilding its capacity to destabilize European countries and extend its influence in the Middle East and Africa, posing a strategic threat to NATO as its members focus on the war in Ukraine, a U.K.-based think tank said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Massive spending cuts have left the French government struggling to put together funding for a package of as much as €3 billion ($3.2 billion) in military aid to Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Poland’s government is prepared to consider France’s Electricite de France SA as a bidder for the second stage of its nuclear power program after the previous government picked US companies to build the country’s first reactors. – Bloomberg

The test firing of a Trident missile from a Royal Navy submarine has failed, for the second time in a row. – BBC

Joe Lieberman writes: If Mr. Trump had joined us at the Munich Security Conference last weekend, he would have seen that his schoolyard-bully threats to some of our most trustworthy allies weren’t only offensive but unnecessary. The Europeans already feel so threatened by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine that they are pulling together, meeting NATO’s goals for defense spending levels, and contributing billions to Ukraine’s courageous and effective military so they can defend their independence and freedom. As Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said, “The world has become more dangerous, but NATO has become stronger.” – Wall Street Journal

Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo’s prime minister, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, resigned on Tuesday, triggering the dissolution of his government, the presidency said in a statement. – Reuters

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday sanctioned six people from five armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as violent clashes escalate in the region between the Congolese army and Rwandan-backed M23 Tutsi-led rebels. – Reuters

South Africa on Tuesday urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue a non-binding legal opinion that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal, arguing it would help efforts to reach a settlement. – Reuters 

Zimbabwe began an emergency campaign to inoculate more than 4 million children against polio on Tuesday after health authorities detected three cases caused by the rare mutation of the weakened virus used in oral vaccines, including a 10-year-old girl who was paralyzed in January. – Associated Press

Extremist rebels in eastern Congo have killed at least two dozen civilians in separate attacks this week, local authorities and a civil society group said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Nigeria’s defense chief expressed frustration Tuesday with what he called the “double standards” of some countries that won’t sell his military weapons because of human rights concerns. – Associated Press

A South African Member of Parliament threatened a “bloodbath” in Cape Town during a Parliamentary debate on the war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization, MEMRI reported. – Arutz Sheva

Michael Rubin writes: While the State Department denies the failure of its Mogadishu-first policy, evidence contradicts its excuses. First, it has funneled more than a billion dollars to Somalia to stage elections, yet Somalia has failed to conduct one-man, one-vote elections and instead selected a few hundred delegates who then vote among themselves. Perhaps the State Department could cite culture as an excuse if it were not for Somaliland’s repeated one-man, one-vote elections even without such largesse. To suggest the Danab Brigade did not fight on behalf of Somalia in its China-sponsored proxy war against Somaliland or alongside al Shabaab terrorists is disingenuous given that Somaliland’s forces captured Danab and al Shabaab fighters inside Somaliland’s territory. Likewise, journalists have witnessed Danab fighters killing civilians. – Washington Examiner

Michael Rubin writes: The State Department, however, blindly opposes the Ethiopian-Somaliland memorandum. There are two reasons. First, Ethiopia’s navy might complicate the operational environment at a time of crisis in the Bab el-Mandeb. Frankly, such concern is justified given both Abiy’s erraticism and his tendency to pick fights with Egypt. Second, the State Department opposes any erosion of Somalia’s territorial integrity. This is silly, though. Somaliland has been separate from Somalia longer than it was part of it. When part of greater Somalia, Mogadishu launched a genocidal campaign against Somaliland’s Isaaq clan. There is no circumstance foreseeable where Isaaqs subordinate themselves to the entities that sought their deaths. – American Enterprise Institute

Latin America

The death of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda days after Chile’s 1973 military coup should be reinvestigated, an appeals court ruled Tuesday, saying new steps could help clarify what killed the poet. – Associated Press

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reaffirmed Tuesday his government’s support for the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, expressing commitment to strategic cooperation in numerous sectors, including technology, energy and culture, during an hours long visit to the South American country – Associated Press

Holding white carnations, hundreds of Colombians marched in front of congress Tuesday to mourn the killings of human rights leaders and the murders of hundreds of former rebel fighters killed after signing a peace deal with the government that ended five decades of war. – Associated Press

Brazil is escalating a diplomatic rift with Israel, saying the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s controversial remarks about the war in Gaza to divert attention from a “massacre” happening there.  – Bloomberg

United States

A former FBI informant accused of making false bribery allegations against President Biden and his son Hunter had “extensive and extremely recent” contacts with foreign intelligence services, including Russia’s, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

Nikki Haley has vowed to stay in the presidential race despite losing every Republican primary so far—and her donors appear to share that optimism. – Wall Street Journal

New York Congressman Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) has left the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) after splitting with members over their stance on the Israel-Hamas war. – The Hill

Four days after a judge ordered former President Donald Trump to pay $354 million in his civil fraud case, New York Attorney General Letitia James told ABC News that she is prepared to seize the former president’s assets if he is unable to find the cash to cover the fine. – ABC News

Cybersecurity

The X account of Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was suspended Tuesday — one day after she pledged to continue her late husband’s fight against corruption in Russia.. – The Hill

The chairman of Israel’s train system told a conference on Tuesday that unknown foreign actors have repeatedly tried to hack the country’s rail system. – Algemeiner

The U.S. Department of Defense selected Scale AI to help it test and evaluate generative artificial intelligence for military applications. – C4ISRNET

Neal Higgins and Michael Bahar write: Seated at the conference table in his wood-paneled office, the CIA director revealed what has since been declassified: Sensitive intelligence revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his intelligence services to conduct a multifaceted influence campaign to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The campaign included the selective leaking of stolen data and the amplification of certain stories, operating through cut-outs, trolls and Russian state media – The Hill

Bronwyn Howell writes: Much has already been written about the platforms’ technological capabilities to manage who receives their content. The algorithms used are already quite good, but they are far from perfect, especially at detecting exactly who is viewing the content on the end device. The perennial problem is that, despite the best intentions of regulators and content distributors at arm’s length (at least) from the act of content consumption, it is nearly impossible for them to prevent a person who is determined to access the content from getting it. While a lot of effort will be put into algorithms and other tools preventing people who would never be harmed by the content from accessing it, those most vulnerable to the associated harms will likely be ingenious enough to get around the obstacles put in their way. – American Enterprise Institute 

Zephyr Teachout writes: Sometimes the solution to a bad law is to go to court. But sometimes the solution to a bad law is to pass a better one. Rather than lining up to give Meta, YouTube, X, and TikTok capacious constitutional immunity, the people who are worried about these laws should be focusing their energies on getting Congress to pass more sensible regulations instead. – The Atlantic

Defense

The Air Force expects to finish qualification testing of the new engines planned for the B-52 Stratofortress by the end of 2024. – Defense News

LaPlante added that to do that quickly, the Pentagon needs to have more flexibility handling appropriations. Using counterdrone efforts as an example, he said the budget the Pentagon is using now for those programs was essentially developed in 2021, before the effect of the Russian invasion was felt and UASs’ effectiveness had been proven on the battlefield. He and several committee members noted that members of the appropriations committees would look at that proposal skeptically. – Defense News

Merrill Matthews writes: Since World War II, the U.S. has been the primary guarantor of the “freedom of the seas,” ensuring all countries’ access to shipping lanes and the right to travel in international waters. As the U.S. Navy explains, “This principle’s legacy is that it has continued to remain a tenet of U.S. foreign policy, as evidenced by the Navy’s conduct of operations to uphold its primacy throughout the world in the decades since [WWII].”  – The Hill

Noah Robertson writes: Call it a tale of two charts: In 30 years, the Pentagon went from a defense industry it considered too large to sustain, to one now too small to surge. To understand that path, Defense News spoke with analysts and industry executives as well as top industrial base policy officials dating back to the Clinton administration. They likened the sector to something of a spring-loaded door — where capacity slammed shut due to smaller budgets, changing preferences and a thinning workforce. – Defense News 

Al Mauroni writes: It is, however, important to have this discussion about “how many nukes are enough” with the American public, in as much as they need to understand the need for this mission. The Cold War ended decades ago. We do not have civil defense shelters anymore and we worry about natural disasters more than a nuclear attack when the emergency broadcast signal goes off. But because nuclear weapons still exist, we need to discuss and develop concepts that reduce the possibility that they are used. That will include a certain number of land-based missiles within a strategic triad. Academics and political analysts are always debating as to what America’s nuclear posture ought to be, but it comes back to the military acquisition professionals who take direction from the White House and turn that into a capability that can be trusted to meet the most important mission of the Defense Department. – War on the Rocks

Bryan Clark and Dan Patt write: The DoD will face challenges in developing and fielding hedge forces. As a unit without a service to champion it and forward-based far from the DoD’s R&D and acquisition organizations, a Taiwan hedge force will need sustained attention from senior Pentagon leaders to succeed. But recent acquisition and budgeting reforms provide opportunities to pursue this creative approach to managing risk and deterring aggression. If US defense leaders fail to exploit the opportunity, the US military will become a one-trick pony unable to honor its commitments and increasingly marginalized in an intensifying multipolar security competition. – Hudson Institute