Fdd's overnight brief

February 23, 2024

In The News

Israel

The volume of aid delivered to Gaza has collapsed in recent weeks as Israeli airstrikes have targeted police officers who guard the convoys, U.N. officials say, exposing them to looting by criminal gangs and desperate civilians. – Washington Post

The U.S. opposition to an immediate cease-fire in Gaza came under repeated criticism during a two-day meeting of the chief diplomats of the world’s 20 largest economies in the latest sign of Washington’s isolation on the issue. – Washington Post

White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk met with Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who said the country’s negotiators would get a broader mandate in hostage talks amid the military’s intense ground operations. – Wall Street Journal

Intense bombardment of a Gaza Strip city filled with refugees flattened a large mosque and killed or wounded scores of people on Thursday as Israel repeated its intention to push into the area with ground forces if Hamas does not release hostages before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. – New York Times

For almost as long as the state of Israel has existed, the draft that powers the tiny country’s outperforming military has exempted its ultra-Orthodox Jews. The conflict in Gaza has reignited resentment about that pact and sparked new calls to upend it, as the Defense Ministry pushes for regular soldiers and reservists to serve longer and keep Israel’s ranks stocked. – Wall Street Journal 

When David Ben-Gurion, one of Israel’s founding fathers, was warned in 1955 that his plan to seize the Gaza Strip from Egypt would provoke a backlash in the United Nations, he famously derided the U.N., playing off its Hebrew acronym, as “Um-Shmum.” – New York Times

A shooting near a checkpoint in the Israeli-occupied West Bank killed at least one person and injured several others Thursday morning. – New York Times

When the Biden administration imposed sanctions this month against Israeli settler Yinon Levi for allegedly assaulting Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank, his supporters quickly sprang into action. – Associated Press

From the earliest days of the Israel-Hamas war, the United States and much of the international community have pressed Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. But as the fighting rages on with no end in sight, the humanitarian catastrophe there has only worsened. – Associated Press

Another 97 people were killed over the past 24 hours in Hamas-run Gaza, the health ministry said, as a US envoy was in Israel for fresh efforts to secure a truce. – Agence France-Presse

The head of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that medical teams in the Gaza Strip have come up with a new acronym: WCNSF – wounded child, no surviving family. – Reuters

Israel will take part in negotiations this weekend in Paris with the U.S., Qatar and Egypt on a potential deal for a ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza, according to a source briefed on the matter and Israeli media. – Reuters 

The Israeli military said on Friday it had targeted a militant from the Islamic Jihad group in an air strike in the occupied West Bank who was on his way to carry out an attack. – Reuters

Aid agencies hope to evacuate roughly 140 patients stranded in Gaza’s Nasser hospital, a World Health Organization official said on Thursday, as Palestinian authorities reported that Israeli troops withdrew from the complex and then stormed it again. – Reuters

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has no “plan B” past March should donor countries that withheld funding following Israeli allegations uphold their suspensions, the head of its Lebanon office said on Thursday. – Reuters

Israel is determined to push ahead with a goal to move a million or more civilians from Rafah before an attack on the Hamas-held city in Gaza, even though officials acknowledge in private they have no precise strategy for how to do it, how long it will take or where the people will go. – Bloomberg

A group known as Gaza’s Liberators has recently begun to openly challenge Hamas’ rule over the Palestinian enclave as the living conditions in the territory continue to worsen and as the terrorist organization refuses to cede power amid the war against Israel. – Ynet

Senior members of both parties in the US House of Representatives and Senate are certain that a $14.1 billion aid package for Israel’s war effort will arrive quickly, despite it being a part of a wider US foreign aid bill currently stuck in Congress, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana (Likud) said to The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Wednesday in the Knesset. – Jerusalem Post

Eight UNRWA employees working in the Gaza Strip have been arrested by the IDF due to connections to Hamas, according to a Maariv report on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Israel will advance plans for the construction of more than 3,000 settlement homes in response to a deadly terror shooting in the West Bank, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced late Thursday night. – Times of Israel

Israel has agreed to a new arrangement that will allow for a massive American shipment of flour for Gazan civilians to move forward after far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich blocked its transfer for over a month, a US official told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the security cabinet with a document of principles regarding the management of Gaza after the war on Thursday night, aiming to install “local officials” unaffiliated with terrorism to administer services in the Strip instead of Hamas. – Times of Israel

Israel’s war cabinet voted on Thursday to dispatch a delegation to Paris on Friday for high-stakes talks on a hostage deal and accompanying truce in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. – Times of Israel

UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, warned Thursday it has reached a critical juncture as it struggles to cope with the war in Gaza, AFP reported. – Arutz Sheva

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby agreed that the war between Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization is a battle against “evil.” – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: As usual, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dependence on his ultra-Orthodox partners prevents him from doing what is right for the country. This means that the defense burden will continue to fall on the shoulders of the country’s other communities in the coming years. […]But after October 7, he cannot be permitted to do so. Any draft law that does not include drafting the ultra-Orthodox must face parliamentary opposition, including on the part of the coalition, even at the price of bringing down the government. The blood spilled in the past few months must not be in vain. – Haaretz

Editorial: This is not meant as an endorsement of either plan. It is merely an example of how, with some unconventional thinking, other ideas can be introduced to replace the classic two-state mirage that most Israelis no longer see as a path to peace. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan D. Strum writes: Incredibly, Netanyahu and his fanatical coalition believe that Israel can return to the pre-Oct. 7 status quo in which 6 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are ignored; radical West Bank settlers are given free rein to intimidate, injure, evict and destroy crops in surrounding Arab villages; and that Israel will be able to control Gaza unilaterally, normalize relations with the Arab world and have the Gulf states pay for Gaza reconstruction — with no difficult choices to make. On the “day after,” Israel will pay a heavy price for 15 years of Netanyahu’s disastrous rule. – The Hill

Brig. Gen. Amir Avivi writes: It is the height of importance to level up internal Israeli preparedness as Ramadan approaches, by doubling down on terrorism infrastructure in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem, while noting possible effects on radical Israeli Arab factions. That includes increased intelligence, arrests and strengthening the Rapid Response Squads staffed and run by local civilians, armed and organized to respond to events on the scene. In an era of new challenges, Israeli innovation must bring to the table new and daring measures. – Ynet

Bar Rapaport writes: On the contrary, it harms Israel’s war objectives and strengthens the terrorist group. Israel must do the opposite of what Hamas wants – instead of contributing to the humanitarian crisis and drawing international accusations of crimes against humanity and genocide, it must advocate for the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, leveraging it to topple Hamas. – Jerusalem Post

Iran

An Israeli sabotage attack on an Iranian natural gas pipeline last week caused multiple explosions on the line, Iran’s oil minister alleged Wednesday, further raising tensions between the regional archenemies against the backdrop of Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. – Associated Press

Documents leaked by the hacktivist group Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice) appear to show clandestine actions against journalists of Persian-language media operating outside of Iran, including those affiliated with RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, by the Iranian judiciary. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

For decades, Iran’s clerical establishment has used voter turnout in elections as proof of its legitimacy, especially to the outside world. But with anti-establishment sentiment among the public rising and unprecedented protests erupting against the authorities in recent years, the legitimacy of Iran’s rulers has been severely undermined. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

A ship that Iran says offers logistics support for other vessels returned to the Gulf of Aden, after a reported recent US cyberattack on the vessel. – Bloomberg

The White House is promising to unveil new sanctions on Iran in the coming days in retaliation for its arms sales that have bolstered Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and threatening a “swift” and “severe” response if Tehran moves forward with selling ballistic missiles to Moscow. – Associated Press

President Biden’s early mistakes regarding Iran policy are increasingly haunting Washington, and America is now struggling to put out fires in the Mideast and beyond as it plays catch up. – New York Sun

Russia & Ukraine

President Biden met Alexei Navalny’s widow and daughter, Yulia and Daria Navalnaya, in San Francisco on Thursday and expressed his condolences, after the Russian opposition leader’s team said that the official death certificate recorded his death in prison as being due to “natural causes.” – Washington Post

U.S. officials unveiled a sweeping set of legal actions against Russian oligarchs and their allies on Thursday, as the Biden administration aims to intensify the financial pressure on President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine. – Washington Post

Already struggling to contain intractable crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, the United States is also grappling with an impasse in the Balkans over a gas pipeline into Bosnia, an issue that is freighted with big geopolitical stakes. – New York Times

As the general paced the briefing room, he displayed a piece of lethal technology and detailed the death and chaos it has caused in Ukraine. – Washington Post

The U.S. has privately warned Russia not to deploy a new nuclear-armed antisatellite weapon, which it said would violate the Outer Space Treaty and jeopardize U.S. national security interests, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Andrey Kostin, the head of Russia’s state-owned VTB Bank, faces U.S. charges for allegedly violating sanctions. Prosecutors on Thursday unsealed charges in a federal court in New York against Kostin and two others for allegedly participating in schemes to violate sanctions the U.S. imposed on Kostin in 2018. – Wall Street Journal  

Russian forces are probing Ukrainian defenses for weak points in the country’s northeast, an official said Thursday, an area where analysts believe the Kremlin seeks to build on its recent success in taking a key city by mounting an ambitious four-pronged offensive to break through the front line. – Associated Press

The U.N.’s humanitarian appeal to meet needs in Ukraine is only 10% funded for 2024, the country’s resident coordinator said Wednesday, putting in jeopardy crucial assistance needed to reach those in need across frontline areas. – Associated Press

The Justice Department announced a series of arrests and indictments Thursday against Russian businessmen and their facilitators in five separate federal cases that span New York, Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia. – Associated Press

German lawmakers on Thursday called on the government to deliver further long-range weapons to Ukraine, but voted down an opposition call explicitly urging it to send Taurus long-range cruise missiles. – Associated Press

The United States will impose sanctions on over 500 targets on Friday in action marking the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Reuters in an interview on Thursday. – Reuters 

Officials from the International Monetary Fund and the Ukrainian government on Thursday reached a staff-level agreement on updated economic policies, paving the way to release about $880 million once approved by the IMF’s board, the fund said. – Reuters 

The European Union will lift sanctions against two Russian businessmen and one Slovak national, two diplomatic sources told Reuters on Thursday, but stressed the bloc was not likely to follow suit for billionaire Alisher Usmanov. – Reuters

Britain announced a new package of sanctions against Russia on Thursday, saying it was seeking to diminish President Vladimir Putin’s weapons arsenal and war chest two years after the invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

Russia claimed on Thursday its forces had advanced further in east Ukraine, piling pressure on Kyiv days before the two-year anniversary of the conflict. – Agence France-Presse

Just when it looked like the level of dialogue between Washington and Moscow couldn’t sink any lower, there goes President Biden calling the Slavic Darth Vader, President Putin, a “crazy SOB” — and the Kremlin serving up sassy ripostes. It is a development at once alarming and surreal, because February’s reality belies the conceit that only the leaders’ slightly dented egos are at stake. – New York Sun

Group of Seven nations will this week aim to reassure Ukraine that their support will not waver as Russia’s war against its neighbor enters its third year. – Bloomberg

According to a study unveiled Thursday by Israeli firms Sentinel One and ClearSky, cyber investigators have uncovered a campaign of disinformation and propaganda orchestrated by Russia. […]The essence of this campaign lies in messages designed to foster division, incite and propagate messages favoring Russia or aligning with Moscow’s objectives. – Ynet 

Editorial: To that end, it should make the most of Putin’s economic vulnerability, including by tightening sanctions and arming Ukraine. Given the political will, Western nations have ample resources to outlast him — an advantage they should use to stop the bloodshed as soon as feasible. – Bloomberg

Laurence Norman and Georgi Kantchev write: For Russia in the short term, “the rise in oil prices helped counteract the effect of sanctions,” said Richard Portes, a professor at the London Business School. But over the years ahead, Putin is “running out of reserves…and he’s facing a catastrophic capital flight and brain drain.” – Wall Street Journal

Jillian Kay Melchior writes: If Congress shrugs, the consequences could be dire. As Ukraine depletes its air defenses, it will increasingly be forced to choose between protecting troops at the front and shielding cities from Russian missile and drone attacks. Ukrainian determination to resist Russian subjugation is the only resource that remains in plentiful supply. That won’t be enough for victory. – Wall Street Journal 

Joe Buccino writes: The $60 billion aid package held up in Congress will not significantly change the future. This fight is a long haul one that will require additional aid. The spigot will close at some point — perhaps soon — turning off aid and sealing Ukraine’s fate. – The Hill 

Hal Brands writes: One way or another, don’t assume Russia — whatever the lacerations it has received in this criminal war — will be chastened and cautious for long. More likely, a country with a history of reversals and revivals will be ready for the next round sooner than we think. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: Biden’s team should recognize the time to leave sanctions in reserve has passed. Even if Congress unwisely skimps on Ukraine aid, Biden should move to destroy the Russian economy and detain under any legal pretext the family members of Russian elites who prefer to live in America while their parents serve Putin’s authoritarianism. It is time to take the gloves off. – Washington Examiner

Lawrence D. Freedman writes: For his part, Putin might be thinking about starting some diplomatic initiative after the March 17 presidential election, although it remains hard to see what could be a credible offer if he insists on holding on to all the territory that he claims to have annexed for the Russian Federation . Or perhaps he is hoping that Donald Trump will deliver Kyiv to him next January if Trump becomes U.S. president. In this, he may be exaggerating Russia’s strength and underestimating Ukraine’s staying power. If Western support can hold steady, Putin may still find that the war appears to be as unwinnable on its third anniversary as it appears now at its second. – Foreign Affairs

Jack Detsch writes: Talks to establish a successor to New START were underway when Russia invaded Ukraine, bringing them to a halt. And Russia is still insisting that it won’t engage with the United States on arms control while the Biden administration is providing military support to Ukraine. On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu even alleged that the entire brouhaha over Moscow’s nuclear space plans was partly an attempt by the West “to push us so clumsily into restarting a dialogue on strategic stability”—a reference to the New START successor talks. – Foreign Policy

Hezbollah

Four months into the war to eliminate Hamas in Gaza, residents of northern Israel are asking, “What about us?” Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Israel Defense Force are exchanging fire daily, even as both sides carefully attempt to avoid an escalation into all-out war. – New York Sun

Three Hezbollah terrorists were eliminated in southern Lebanon on Thursday in an unusual airstrike attributed to Israel. The Arabic-language news outlet Sky News Arabia reported that one of the terrorists was Hassan Saleh, considered to be a prominent missile expert in the Lebanese terrorist organization according to the report. – Ynet

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger writes: He does not expect Israel to slow down its war on Hamas, which is a proxy of Iran. Just like Saudi Arabia and all other pro-US Arab countries, Director Wray is aware that the obliteration of Hamas, militarily, politically and educationally, will bolster the posture of deterrence of both Israel and the USA, reducing terror assaults on pro-US Arab countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco) and in the US mainland. – Arutz Sheva

Yemen

The large-scale military strikes the United States has directed at the Houthis, an Iran-backed militant group in Yemen that has disrupted shipping in the Red Sea, has forced the Biden administration to wrestle over what it can do without congressional approval. – New York Times

A suspected missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels set a ship ablaze in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday as Israel intercepted what appeared to be another Houthi attack near the port city of Eilat, authorities said. – Associated Press

Houthi militants and their Iranian backers are preparing for a lengthy confrontation with the US and allies around the Red Sea regardless of how the Israel-Hamas war plays out. – Bloomberg

Daniel Greenfield writes: The relief and aid provided to Yemen allowed the Houthis to launch their Red Sea blockade. And now the Houthi blockade is preventing actual humanitarian aid from passing through. Fighting terrorism doesn’t cause famines, letting them remain in power does. Famines end when terrorists are defeated while humanitarian aid to terrorists actually causes famines. – Arutz Sheva

Kenneth M. Pollack, Katherine Zimmerman, Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Casey Coombs, Ibrahim Jalal, and Baraa Shiban write: Consequently, the United States should begin to arm, train, equip, and otherwise support the internationally recognized government of Yemen in its ongoing conflict with the Houthis to take back conquered lands from them. Doing so would not require US ground troops in Yemen, would likely be extremely popular with the vast majority of the population of Yemen and America’s regional allies, and would end further Houthi aggression in the Middle East. – American Enterprise Institute

Middle East & North Africa

An international investigative team said Thursday that its probe into a 2015 attack in Syria found “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Islamic State group used mustard gas, the latest finding of use of poison gas and nerve agents in Syria’s grinding civil war. – Associated Press

The head of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) on Thursday pitched the kingdom as a prospective hub for artificial intelligence activity outside the United States, citing its energy resources and funding capacity. – Reuters

Libyan militias who’ve held sway in the capital for years will begin leaving in April after a deal was struck in the wake of recent deadly violence, according to an official in the OPEC nation’s internationally recognized government. – Bloomberg

Gregory Brew writes: Nevertheless, the effect of repeated crises in global energy supply chains has forced a de-risking of energy flows, based around geopolitical as well as commercial relationships. Formerly risk-heavy ties, such as Europe’s dependence on Russia or America’s dependence on the Middle East, don’t play as much of a role in the global energy economy as they once did. – War on the Rocks

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un just added a new trophy vehicle to his sanctions-defying fleet of luxury cars. And he has Vladimir Putin to thank. In recent days, the Russian leader gifted Kim an armored head-of-state limousine that Putin himself uses. It is a Russian-made Aurus Senat, which can cost as much as $1 million. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea hopes to mirror Japan’s efforts to boost the value of its companies as the neighbour’s stock market surges to a record high, with measures Seoul hopes will narrow a “Korea discount” on stock prices. – Reuters

Revelations that a North Korean missile fired by Russia in Ukraine contained a large number of components linked to U.S.-based companies underline the difficulty of enforcing sanctions against Pyongyang, but could help uncover illicit procurement networks, experts say. – Reuters

China

China’s securities regulator said on Friday it would step up crackdowns on fraudulent listings, accounting scams and misappropriation of funds by big shareholders. – Reuters

China responded sternly Thursday to a U.S. congressional delegation’s visit to Taiwan, demanding the U.S. stop any official contact with the self-governing island. – Associated Press

China aims to “contain” foreign interference over Taiwan and “resolutely combat” any efforts towards the island’s formal independence this year, which is the sensitive 75th anniversary of the founding of communist China, state media said on Friday. – Reuters

South Asia

Pakistan plans to seek a new loan of at least $6 billion from the International Monetary Fund to help the incoming government repay billions in debt due this year, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing a Pakistani official. – Reuters

Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban carried out a double public execution Thursday at a stadium in the country’s southeast, where relatives of the victims of stabbing deaths fired guns at two convicted men while thousands of people watched. – Associated Press

India has asked Russia for the early release of some Indians working with the Russian army in “support jobs”, New Delhi said on Friday, urging its nationals to stay away from the two-year-old Ukraine war. – Reuters

Asia

Chipmaker TSMC (2330.TW), opens new tab formally opens its first Japanese plant on Saturday, highlighting the Taiwanese firm’s critical role in Tokyo’s multi-billion dollar efforts to reboot its once-mighty semiconductor manufacturing industry. – Reuters 

New Zealand is reassessing a proposed overhaul of its Antarctica base after negotiations with a construction firm reached a deadlock due to budget issues, the government agency responsible for the country’s Antarctic operations said on Friday. – Reuters

Chinese police are working in the remote atoll nation of Kiribati, a Pacific Ocean neighbour of Hawaii, with uniformed officers involved in community policing and a crime database program, Kiribati officials told Reuters. – Reuters

A stalled U.S. bill on military aid to Ukraine which will also help fund weapons for Taiwan was discussed this week during a visit to Taipei by U.S. lawmakers, two of the participants said on Friday. – Reuters

The Philippines is confident in its alliance with Washington and expects continued backing in its maritime dispute with China no matter who wins the US election in November, a coast guard official said. – Bloomberg

Israel is now leading the list of countries importing oil from Azerbaijan – despite international pressure against cooperation with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Camilla Pohle writes: U.S. policy toward the Marshall Islands damages our country’s standing in the Pacific Islands, dangerously ceding ground to China as it seeks to increase its influence there. How can the United States promise the Pacific Islands honest partnership when the legacy of our nuclear weapons program remains unresolved? – The Hill

Europe

The chaotic debate over a cease-fire in Gaza reverberated through Britain’s Parliament on Thursday as the speaker of the House of Commons faced calls to resign, and lawmakers said they feared for their safety amid pressure from all sides of the issue. – Associated Press

Britain and its former partners in the European Union have struck a deal to cooperate more on tackling illegal migration, in the latest sign of a thawing in relations between the two sides following Brexit. – Associated Press

Czech farmers were driving their tractors and other vehicles to several border crossings on Thursday to meet their colleagues from neighboring countries and join forces in their protests against European Union agriculture policies, bureaucracy and overall conditions for their business. – Associated Press

Nearly two years after Sweden formally applied to join NATO, its membership now hinges on convincing one country — Viktor Orbán’s Hungary — to formally ratify its bid to join the military alliance. – Associated Press

Britain’s government said Thursday it is withdrawing from a controversial international energy treaty after efforts to modernize it ended in stalemate. – Associated Press

Russian forces threatened to shoot down a French surveillance aircraft patrolling in international airspace over the Black Sea, a signal of increasingly aggressive behavior from Moscow as its invasion of Ukraine struggles to make headway, French defense officials said Thursday. – Associated Press

The United States, Britain, France and Germany on Thursday all backed outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to succeed Jens Stoltenberg as the head of NATO, putting him in a strong position to win the leadership of the transatlantic alliance. – Reuters 

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Thursday pledged to safeguard aid deliveries to Ukraine amid mounting tensions over protests by farmers on the frontier. – Agence France-Presse

With even Prince William and rather less gently the British parliament turning up the volume of the global din over Gaza, the European Union has this week leveled an almost collective swing at Israel. – New York Sun

European Union finance chiefs are trying to figure out how to fund increased spending needs for defense as the war in Ukraine is about to enter its third year. – Bloomberg

The UK will be granted limited access to the European Union’s border agency as part of a post-Brexit deal designed to boost overseas cooperation to slow the flow of migrants across the English Channel. – Bloomberg

Dominic Green writes: Before 2022, Germany’s global strategy was a three-legged stool. Its energy and industrial policies depended on cheap supplies of Russian gas. Its trade policies focused on selling Mercedes cars and precision machinery to China. Its defense was guaranteed by the U.S. under the aegis of NATO. The Chinese export policy was already wobbling, but the other two legs gave way in 2022. The Zietenweinde’s turn away from Russian gas has become a turn toward high regulation and low growth. That won’t fund Germany’s rearmament. It will, however, leave the U.S. as the guarantor of NATO’s eastern flank in a time of rising tensions in Asia.  – Washington Examiner 

Kathleen McInnis, Daniel Fata, Benjamin Jensen, and Jose M. Macias III write: As the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) turns 75 this year, it is hardly surprising that burden sharing—the degree to which allies are financially shouldering the costs of collective security—is once again an issue at the forefront of Washington, D.C. policy discussions. […]Now, however, the tune has changed slightly. Congressional frustration is mounting regarding spending on Ukraine and whether U.S. taxpayers should continue to foot their part of the bill—especially when NATO allies have, in the view of many policymakers, failed to meet their own defense-spending commitments. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Africa

Since civil war erupted in Sudan last spring, paramilitary fighters battling the country’s army have carried out a campaign of abductions, kidnapping civilians for ransom or pressing them into forced servitude, according to 10 victims who have since been released and other witnesses. – Washington Post

Senegalese President Macky Sall pledged to step down at the end of his term, after weeks of turmoil sparked by his attempt to stay in power beyond his term. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lashed out Thursday at a report that U.S. agents had investigated possible ties between his aides and drug traffickers, in the latest jolt to anti-narcotics cooperation with the United States. – Washington Post

Mexico’s freedom of information institute, a government agency, said Thursday that it would start an investigation into the president’s disclosure on national television of the personal cellphone number of a journalist for The New York Times. – New York Times

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in October when the two leaders attend the BRICS summit slated to be held in Russia, Brazil’s government said in statement Thursday night. – Bloomberg

Léon Charles, the former chief of Haiti’s National Police who was recently accused in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, announced Thursday that he was stepping down as permanent representative of Haiti to the Organization of American States. – Associated Press

Brazil’s foreign minister called for reforms of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions Wednesday while criticizing their inability to prevent global conflicts, as his country kicked off its presidency of the Group of 20 nations. – Associated Press

The first major ministerial meeting of Brazil’s Group of 20 nations presidency ended with no shortage of talk about ongoing conflicts in Europe and the Middle East but little progress toward resolving them. – Bloomberg

United States

The Biden administration and European allies call President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a tyrant and a war criminal. But he enjoys a standing invitation to the halls of power in Brazil. – New York Times

The White House is considering using provisions of federal immigration law repeatedly tapped by former President Donald Trump to unilaterally enact a sweeping crackdown at the southern border, according to three people familiar with the deliberations. – Associated Press

Newt Gingrich writes: This is a vital American interest which will bring down inflation, establish a framework for dramatic economic growth, and give our children and grandchildren a better future. On every one of these areas the House Republicans are right, and Mr. Biden and the elite media are wrong. It’s time for Washington to follow the American people. – New York Sun

Cybersecurity

A Georgia-based nonprofit that is suing the Coffee County, Georgia Board of Elections over an alleged breach of voting software weeks before President Joe Biden was sworn into office is asking a judge to sanction officials involved in the case, saying in new court filings that they repeatedly stonewalled and withheld crucial evidence during discovery. – CyberScoop

Technology companies allowing online trolls to target women journalists, politicians and researchers, alongside government censorship and propaganda, are facilitating a growing risk of real-world authoritarianism around the globe, a Nobel laureate has warned. – The Record

Nearly two weeks after detecting a cyberattack on its systems, German battery manufacturer Varta AG still has not restarted production at its plants. – The Record

A trove of leaked documents appearing to be from a Chinese security company is shedding light on the country’s commercial cyberespionage industry — revealing hacking contracts with public agencies, a repository of targets and years of chats among employees. – The Record

Defense

The Pentagon’s realization of a basic form of Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control is a signal to China that the U.S. is making significant strides in military modernization, officials said. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy is creating a council meant to counter “adversarial economic activities,” such as intellectual property theft and exploitation of the supply chain, that harm the Navy and Marine Corps, according to the Navy secretary. – Defense News

The U.S. State Department’s recent approval of a Foreign Military Sale to Poland of Airspace and Surface Radar Reconnaissance (ASRR) aerostat systems, is not only a big step in providing critical airborne early warning technology to the European nation but also a big boost to the U.S.-led Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) effort. – Defense One

The Navy’s Indo-Pacific logistic command is building a more robust and responsive logistic sustainment framework to support theatre operations, its commander said earlier this week. – USNI News

The White House on Wednesday announced a multi-billion dollar maritime infrastructure plan that would restart the domestic production of container cranes to address the cybersecurity threat from Chinese-made cranes operating in ports around the United States. – USNI News

When the Pentagon delivered a slew of ground combat vehicles and air defense systems to Ukraine without a comprehensive sustainment plan, it created a potential risk for both nations, the Department of Defense Inspector General wrote in a pair of new reports. – Breaking Defense