Fdd's overnight brief

February 24, 2021

In The News


Iran said it was open to a European proposal that would bring its officials together with American negotiators for the first time since the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, even as Tehran took another step to violate the accord by limiting international monitoring of its nuclear activities. – Wall Street Journal

Iran has in recent months repeatedly violated the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, reducing the time it would need to produce a nuclear weapon. – Wall Street Journal

Iran enriched its stockpile of uranium closer to levels needed for a weapon for the first time in eight years, as international inspectors reported they detected traces of the heavy metal at previously undeclared sites. – Bloomberg

U.S. President Joe Biden vowed on the campaign trail to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Six years on, the deal is so controversial in both countries that getting there looks set to take months of wrangling, if it can be done at all. – Bloomberg

Inconsistencies in the Iran government’s explanation of the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane last year raise questions over whether it was intentional, an independent U.N. investigator said on Tuesday, but she had found no concrete evidence that it was. – Reuters

It is up to the United States to make the first move in saving the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s ambassador in Geneva told the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Wednesday. – Reuters

Three people were killed over two days in clashes in the southeastern Iranian town of Saravan near the border with Pakistan, the semiofficial ILNA news agency reported. – Associated Press

Developments surrounding Iran’s nuclear program are at a “critical point” and lifting sanctions on the country is key to breaking the deadlock, China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The UN’s atomic watchdog said Tuesday that it was “deeply concerned” by the possible presence of nuclear material at an undeclared site in Iran that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared was a “secret atomic warehouse.” – Agence France-Presse

Top Republicans in Congress called on the State Department on Tuesday to immediately explain why key Obama-era diplomats now serving in the Biden administration held back-channel talks with Iran during the Trump years, saying it’s crucial that the public learn more about Democrats’ closed-door shadow diplomacy with Tehran. – Washington Times

Iran’s decision to block snap inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency is dangerous and a violation of the Iran deal, the European countries party to that deal, known as the E3, said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s Fars News celebrated a deal with South Korea that will unfreeze Iranian financial assets.[…] This is how Iran usually does things, using piracy and hostage taking to get what it wants.   – Jerusalem Post

Lazar Berman writes: With each step Iran takes to advance its nuclear program, a path out of the dangerous quagmire becomes even more murky.[…]Analysts believe both the move to limit inspections and the enrichment threat are aimed at bolstering Iran’s negotiating position as it and US President Joe Biden’s administration maneuver ahead of expected talks aimed at bringing Washington back into the 2015 nuclear deal. But even if intended as bargaining chips, they carry the risk of moving Iran significantly closer to nuclear weapons capabilities. – Times of Israel

Victoria Coates and Len Khodorkovsky write: The malfeasant and venal incompetence of the regime in Tehran presents an opportunity to grow ties between the people of Iran and Israel facilitated by the United States. As we wrote recently, we envision peace between Iranians and Israelis under American leadership, codified through the signing of the Cyrus Accords to complement the historic Abraham Accords. A practical step toward such an agreement can start immediately with the offer of COVID-19 assistance. – Jerusalem Post

Albert B. Wolf writes: This essay, thirteenth in the series, assesses the situation in Iran, where a June election will determine the successor to President Hassan Rouhani. An IRGC-backed candidate such as Majlis speaker Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf or former defense minister Hossein Dehghan could ultimately prevail—but a history of election surprises in the Islamic Republic suggests no outcome is certain. Whoever wins, the result will offer clues about deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future. – Washington Institute

Leo Hochberg writes: The fact that Iran currently lacks a cyber track record as long as that of Russia does not mean that it is any less capable in cyberspace. Moreover, Iran’s cyber ambitions are always changing and adapting, meaning that the tactics outlined above are only a small part of Tehran’s cyber future. Preparing for Iranian cyberattacks in the medium and long term will take significant effort, time, and financial investment, but it is necessary if the many potential targets are to properly protect themselves. Acting early and with great speed is critical as Iran advances its global cyber capabilities. – Middle East Institute


Turkey said on Tuesday that four Greek jets harassed a Turkish research vessel in the Aegean Sea but Athens denied the accusation, which comes as the two NATO members seek to resume talks over maritime disputes. – Reuters

The U.S. urged Turkey not to go ahead with the delivery of Russian S-400 missiles and jettison the battery it already acquired, as Ankara engages in talks with Moscow over the delivery of a second system. – Bloomberg

A former Florida resident accused of traveling to Turkey and attempting to join the Islamic State group was indicted Tuesday on a terrorism charge. – Associated Press


Israel hopes to prevent personal tension between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden over their differences on the Iranian nuclear question by delegating talks on the topic to their senior staff, an Israeli official said. – Reuters

Talks on a gas pipeline that would cross political faultlines and deliver reliable energy to the impoverished Gaza Strip have moved from the abstract to the concrete in recent weeks, three officials with knowledge of the process told Reuters. – Reuters

Israel will not rely on efforts to return to a nuclear deal with Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday. – Associated Press

The Biden administration is moving slowly but surely toward reengaging with the Palestinians after a near total absence of official contact during former President Donald Trump’s four years in office. – Associated Press

An IDF combat soldier was severely injured after being shot in his head in a military base located in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday night, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit reported. – Jerusalem Post

A group of former top officials from Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, the IDF and the Mossad sent a letter on Monday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing support for a US return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. – Jerusalem Post

The Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) organized a virtual conference on Monday gathering parliamentarians and political leaders from 10 African countries including South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and Malawi to discuss current issues between Israel and the African continent. – Jerusalem Post

Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke about the ongoing threats posed by Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon in a Tuesday visit to the IDF’s 91st Division located in Northern Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Israel will purchase two Boeing KC-46 tankers as part of a letter of offer and acceptance announced Feb. 22. Israel’s Defense Ministry said it is also pursuing additional F-35 fighter jets (beyond the 50 it already has agreed to buy), more helicopters, advanced munitions and other weapon systems. – Defense News

Ari Heistein and Eldad Shavit write: The new U.S. administration’s approach to Israel may prove disappointing in Jerusalem, where over the past four years decision-makers received a bonanza of concessions from the Trump administration without making compromises. That era was likely an aberration rather than the start of a new trend in bilateral relations. Successfully navigating the daylight between U.S. and Israeli conceptions of how to cope with the challenges posed by Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and China could prove decisive for the long-term future of U.S.-Israel relations. – Middle East Institute


An Iran-aligned Iraqi militia group on Tuesday denied any role in recent rocket attacks against U.S. targets in Iraq, but said an attack against Saudi Arabia last month was justified. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi discussed recent rocket attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces in a phone call on Tuesday and agreed those responsible “must be held fully to account,” the White House said. – Reuters

Iraq’s Christian communities in the area were dealt a severe blow when they were scattered by the IS onslaught in 2014, further shrinking the country’s already dwindling Christian population. Many hope their struggle to endure will get a boost from a historic visit by Pope Francis planned in March. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The timing of the attacks is clear. Iran wants to show the US that its forces are not safe in the Kurdistan Region, an area that is usually safe and stable.It also wants to hit at the embassy, likely because it heard the US might have its diplomats return to work there. It also may aim at Balad Air Base to keep NATO from returning. – Jerusalem Post

Gulf States

Ahmed Zaki Yamani, a long-serving oil minister in Saudi Arabia who led the kingdom through the 1973 oil crisis that shattered the West and once found himself held hostage by the assassin Carlos the Jackal, died Feb. 23 in London. He was 90. – Associated Press

Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul basks outdoors in a desert camp after nearly three years in jail, but like other released detainees, she endures imprisonment in another form –- a travel ban. – Agence France-Presse

US President Joe Biden intends to call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday, ahead of the public release of an intelligence report about the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Axios reported late on Tuesday, citing a source. – Jerusalem Post

Senior Israeli and Saudi officials recently held several phone calls to discuss the Biden administration’s plans to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, Israeli television reported Tuesday. – Times of Israel

United Arab Emirates’ state-owned weapons maker EDGE expects to be involved in the supply chain of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 war plane if the sale of U.S. planes to the Gulf Arab state goes ahead, its chief executive said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Sayed Ahmed Alwadei writes: In imprisoning children and threatening them with torture, the Bahraini regime is showing its people that it will not tolerate dissent — and showing the world its true face. The acquiescence of successive U.S. administrations has taught the government that it need not fear repercussions. It is time for Biden to put geopolitics aside and let the people of Bahrain decide their own future. – Washington Post

Middle East & North Africa

In a private meeting with pro-government journalists, President Bashar al-Assad was asked about Syria’s economic meltdown: the currency collapse that has gutted salaries, the skyrocketing prices for basic goods and the chronic shortages of fuel and bread. – New York Times

Delegations from Qatar and Egypt met in Kuwait on Tuesday for the first time since an agreement last month to end a rift, both countries’ foreign ministries said, in a further push to bury a Gulf Arab diplomatic feud with repercussions around the Middle East. – Reuters

The Biden administration on Tuesday told Egypt that human rights will be “central” to its policy in dealing with the key Arab state and major American partner in the Middle East. – Jerusalem Post

A former member of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s secret police was convicted Wednesday by a German court of facilitating the torture of prisoners in a landmark ruling that human rights activists hope will set a precedent for other cases. – Associated Press

Simon Henderson writes: These developments may prompt environmental and diplomatic opposition. Despite natural gas drastically reducing Israel’s dependence on comparatively dirty coal, new projects still tend to generate domestic controversy, particularly now when a giant oil slick has contaminated the entire Mediterranean coastline. […]In regional diplomatic terms, Cairo is sensitive to the prospect of the United Arab Emirates exporting oil products to Europe via Israel’s pipeline from Eilat to Ashdod, which would diminish Egypt’s earnings from the Suez Canal, Sumed Pipeline, or both. The UAE is likewise wary of potential deals involving Qatar given their ongoing regional rivalry. – Washington Institute

Mordechai Chaziza writes: China’s health diplomacy has certainly strengthened bilateral relations with the Maghreb states in various ways. In the first wave, when the COVID-19 pandemic affected Maghreb countries, Beijing helped all of them, donating medical supplies and equipment. […]China’s health diplomacy will probably follow the Belt and Road in facing backlash and bumps along the way. Nevertheless, we can expect the importance of vaccine diplomacy to overshadow mask diplomacy. – Middle East Institute

Bobby Ghosh writes: Ultimately, though, the success of the new deal will depend on the willingness of the factions and their patrons to keep their weapons sheathed. Hopes that foreign forces and mercenaries would begin to go home have been dashed; instead, Turkey and Russia are setting up permanent military bases, the better to protect their local partners as well as economic interests. Turkey, for instance, has billions of dollars in business contracts at stake, as well as an interest in new oil and gas exploration deals. – Bloomberg

Korean Peninsula

The six-hour saga after the man crossed one of the world’s most fortified borders—the Korean demilitarized zone—was detailed in a briefing Tuesday for local media by Seoul’s military. – Wall Street Journal

Iran expressed hope on Tuesday that South Korea and Japan would agree to release about $1 billion of Iranian funds frozen in the two countries because of U.S. sanctions, but South Korea said it still needed to discuss the matter with the United States. – Reuters

John Bolton writes: For too many years, U.S. diplomats argued that China is a constructive actor in trying to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue. This has long since been made demonstrably false. China has always been Pyongyang’s enabler, politically, economically and scientifically. President Xi Jinping could end the North’s nuclear aspirations in a stroke if he chose, and Washington must stress this reality at every opportunity. This will be the real test of Biden’s North Korea policy. – Bloomberg


Some European countries are starting to block Chinese involvement in their economies, drawing closer to positions advocated by the U.S. amid growing anxiety in Europe over China’s increasingly aggressive geopolitical posture. – Wall Street Journal

Xi Jinping has brought more change to China than any leader since Deng Xiaoping. Beijing officials believe his autocratic leadership approach is superior to Western-style democracy. Last year, The Wall Street Journal explored how Mr. Xi’s political model is reshaping China, and why it has set him on a collision course with the West. Here are some of the key findings. – Wall Street Journal

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on China on Tuesday to allow U.N. human rights boss Michelle Bachelet to visit and investigate alleged mistreatment of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region and of people in Tibet. – Reuters

China has tried to intimidate Hong Kong residents living in Germany since pro-democracy protests broke out in the city two years ago, the German interior ministry said in a letter to a lawmaker published on Tuesday. – Reuters

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators will revive legislation as soon as Wednesday to counter Chinese censorship in the United States, a new effort by Congress to hold Beijing accountable for its growing efforts to stifle criticism beyond its borders, Senator Jeff Merkley told Reuters. – Reuters

China hopes Australia can do more to boost mutual trust and cooperation, vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen said on Wednesday. – Reuters

China is ready to enhance exchanges with the United States on the trade and economic fronts, Wang Wentao, the country’s new commerce minister, said on Wednesday. – Reuters

China has dramatically increased its prosecution of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang through the formal court system, handing out long prison terms for dubious charges such as “picking quarrels” and giving gifts to overseas relatives, a rights group said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s No. 2 indicated the U.S. is open to using a Trump-era investment ban to punish Beijing for violating international trade rules. – Bloomberg

An Israeli cybersecurity firm announced Monday that China has used a hacking tool initially developed by the US National Security Agency. – Times of Israel

Mike Pompeo and Miles Yu write: The Chinese government must change course. It must be open about its biosafety systems, fix its errors and curtail its dangerous ambitions. Lives and livelihoods across the world are on the line. We all have a responsibility to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party isn’t given a free pass. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph Bosco writes: Biden, with control of both chambers and bipartisan congressional consensus, can reduce the risk of Beijing’s calamitous miscalculation by supporting strategic clarity on Taiwan. It would strengthen his hand for the next conversation with Xi. […]Policy differences and mixed signals are not unique to the Trump administration. In addition to divisions over Uighur genocide, the State Department has derailed Biden’s opposition to Russia’s oil pipeline to Germany. – The Hill

South Asia

Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa took charge as president in late 2019, the authorities have raided news outlets, harassed and investigated journalists and activists, and dragged human rights lawyers and writers to jail and held them for months without charges, rights watchdogs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say. – New York Times

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan dropped by 15% in 2020 compared to the previous year but the Central Asian country has seen a surge in the number of dead and injured since the start of peace negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban in September 2020, according to a United Nations report. – Janes

The Taliban has warned that President Joe Biden should live up to peace deal commitments made by the United States under his predecessor, or risk complicating the already precarious situation in Afghanistan. – Newsweek

Akhil Ramesh writes: The Trump administration, for all its isolationist measures and foreign policy deficiencies, was proactive in expanding the scope of the US-India partnership through economic initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region, such as the timely initiative of leveraging the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing facility in India in 2020. It would be prudent for the Biden administration to position the nation providing the solution to the pandemic as the balancer to China, the nation where the virus was first discovered. – The Hill


Police units in the country of Georgia stormed the offices of the biggest opposition party and detained its leader, pushing the former Soviet republic and U.S. ally in the South Caucasus region deeper into a political crisis that threatens its ties with the West. – Wall Street Journal

The military seizure of power in Myanmar doesn’t just have political and diplomatic implications, but economic ones too. Though rare in the West, heavy military involvement in nondefense parts of the economy is commonplace in many parts of the world. The recent events in Myanmar show some of the awkward dynamics for foreign businesses that get involved in countries where the armed forces have their own business interests, and how the military can be a drag on prosperity. – Wall Street Journal

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s government announced that anyone running for these local positions will need to be a “patriot” — meaning they must swear loyalty not to their constituents but to Beijing and the Communist Party — as China moves to quash the territory’s last avenue of democracy – Washington Post

Myanmar’s military-appointed foreign minister flew into Thailand on Wednesday, a Thai government source said, as Myanmar’s neighbours intensified efforts to resolve a crisis that began when its army seized power in a Feb. 1 coup. – Reuters

The architect of Australian media reforms being watched around the world claimed victory on Wednesday, even as critics said concessions to the laws forcing Big Tech to pay for news content have given Facebook and Google a get-out clause. – Reuters

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will not travel to Myanmar to hold talks with the country’s military leaders following a military coup earlier this month, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A Hong Kong court said on Tuesday its denial of bail for media tycoon Jimmy Lai, the most high-profile person charged under a new the national security law, was due to the risk of his committing further offences. – Reuters

Early bird customers of a military-owned bank queued anxiously as dawn light crept over Yangon, after a strict new limit on daily cash withdrawals fuelled rumours of a money shortage in post-coup Myanmar. – Agence France-Presse

Malaysia on Tuesday deported over 1,000 Myanmar nationals back to their homeland just weeks after a coup, the country’s immigration chief said, despite a court order halting the repatriation and a storm of criticism from rights groups. – Agence France-Presse

Nine women suspected of plotting to blow up military targets in the restive southern Philippines have been arrested, the army said Tuesday. – Agence France-Presse

Deterring China from invading Taiwan is becoming increasingly complicated and tenuous as a result of Beijing’s growing military capabilities and its continued isolation of the self-governing island, regional experts are warning a congressional commission. – Roll Call

Hal Brands writes: Finally, while America’s leverage with Duterte is currently limited by the precariousness of its position in the South China Sea, over the long term Washington should invest in democratic institutions and anticorruption efforts as a way of combating the political conditions that Beijing can exploit. This agenda is, admittedly, immodest. But so is the salience of the Philippines in today’s great-power rivalry. – Bloomberg

Emil Avdaliani writes: Georgia’s NATO and EU aspirations remain a touchstone for Georgian voters, and both parties lay claim to fully representing those aspirations. But only through credibly addressing Georgia’s internal economic problems can these aspirations ever be fully realized. The party that manages to articulate this fact would triumph. – Center for European Policy Analysis


President Vladimir V. Putin has made it clear that he doesn’t tolerate dissent but one new opposition party has flourished. – New York Times

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has signaled to European allies that the transatlantic powers should move in concert to punish Russia’s abuse of imprisoned dissident Alexei Navalny, according to a top European Union official amid a report the Biden administration is preparing new economic penalties of its own. – Washington Examiner

US President Joe Biden is planning a package of sanctions to target Russia after the poisoning and imprisonment of Alexei Navalny and a cyber attack which targeted Government agencies. – Telegram

Firearms manufacturer Kalashnikov is exhibiting its new AK-19 rifle for the first time outside of Russia during an arms trade show in the United Arab Emirates. – Defense News

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: For years, world leaders turned a blind eye to Kremlin officials and oligarchs who used Western institutions to launder money looted from the Russian people. It’s time to put a stop to this. Navalny recently urged the European Union to take action, a call repeated last week by a group of respected political leaders and experts. No one is asking the West to interfere in Russian politics. But the least it can do is stop enabling a regime that represses, murders and steals from its own people. – Washington Post

Janusz Bugajski writes: Reversing the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany is an important starting point and sends a strong signal that America remains committed to Allied defense. NATO’s eastern flank must also be strengthened by increasing the multinational troop presence, improving regional infrastructure, holding regular military exercises, and keeping the door open to all aspirants. Above all, Washington must uphold the fundamental principle that every state has the right to choose its alliances freely and to defend its security. – Washington Examiner


French antitrust investigators have accused Alphabet Inc’s Google of failing to comply with the state competition authority’s orders on how to conduct negotiations with news publishers over copyright, two sources who read the investigators’ report said. – Reuters

A bitter dispute between the two grandees of Scotland’s independence movement is blowing up just weeks before elections that could be critical to the future of the U.K. – Bloomberg

A U.S. Army artillery battalion is going to France to train with a French army unit and test out their tank-killing artillery round, officials announced. – Washington Times

Editorial: As Mr. Biden tacitly recognized, constructing the transatlantic democratic coalition may not be easy. The European Union recently concluded a major trade deal with China despite hints from the incoming Biden administration that it hold off. France is among several governments pushing for detente rather than further confrontation with the regime of Vladimir Putin. Though they have welcomed Mr. Biden’s declaration that his administration is “determined to reengage with Europe,” many Europeans clearly have doubts about whether Mr. Trump’s “America First” policies are gone for good. – Washington Post

William A. Galston writes: As perceptions of America’s weakness mount, more Europeans are starting to favor being tougher on the U.S. on economic issues. These Europeans resist American pressure to distance themselves from China, which they regard as an important trading partner, and they will be in no rush to renegotiate their trade relationships with the U.S. “America First” has triggered a reaction—Europe First. – Wall Street Journal

Gordon Chang writes: President Biden is moving to “reengage” Europe, seeking to rebuild transatlantic ties. The Chinese regime, however, doubts he will succeed. America’s traditional allies, the Communist Party’s Global Times stated on Friday, “are economically dependent on China.” […]China is making great strides in eroding, and maybe one day ending, the most important partnership of the 20th century, the grand alliance across the Atlantic. Europe is in the process of defecting to China. – The Hill


The United States is looking at “a range of targeted options” to hold accountable Ugandan security forces who it deemed responsible for abuses against opposition candidates and civil society, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday. – Reuters

A Finnish court began hearing witness testimony in Liberia’s capital Monrovia on Tuesday, as part of a first-of-its-kind war-crimes trial in the country. – Agence France-Presse

Rwandan Hutu rebels Tuesday denied allegations they were behind the killing of the Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo and instead accused the armies of the DRC and Rwanda. – Agence France-Presse

Nigeria needs to review its maritime security rules and enlist the support of private companies to tackle rampant piracy in its waters, according to a report published on Wednesday. – Bloomberg

Violent extremist organizations are waging war across Africa, and the United States is leveraging NATO and European partnerships to contain the threat and prevent attacks on the U.S. homeland, Army commanders said Tuesday. – Washington Examiner

At least 7,000 people who fled escalating ethnic violence in western Ethiopia have sought asylum in neighboring Sudan, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday, amid heightened tensions between the two Eastern African nations. – Associated Press

Italian Carabinieri experts were joining U.N. and Congolese authorities in investigating the killings of the Italian ambassador, his bodyguard and their driver in eastern Congo amid questions about the dynamics of the attack and security precautions taken for the convoy. – Associated Press

Emily Estelle and Jessica Trisko Darden write: The global Salafi-jihadi movement, which includes al Qaeda and the Islamic State, is spreading in Africa. An Islamic State–linked group in northern Mozambique is the latest case of a Salafi-jihadi group co-opting and expanding a local conflict. This insurgency, like those in Mali and Somalia, promises to spread into neighboring countries and deliver an enduring haven to extremist militants with regional and global ambitions while exacting a steep humanitarian toll. – American Enterprise Institute

Latin America

Many Colombians in the area don’t want to do the backbreaking work, or have moved to big cities. So while Venezuelan migrants are often unfairly maligned as vagrants and thieves here and in other South American countries, they are making significant economic contributions across the region, according to the International Monetary Fund, policy groups, Colombia’s central bank and coffee producers like Mr. Gamboa. – Wall Street Journal

Dozens of Ecuadorean inmates were killed Tuesday in a bloody confrontation between rival gangs in three prisons fighting for control of the facilities, the government said. – Wall Street Journal

Slayings of human rights leaders and mass killings of civilians are increasing at a worrying pace in Colombia, according to a United Nations report published on Tuesday. – Associated Press

Venezuela is shipping jet fuel to Iran in return for vital gasoline imports for the South American nation as part of a swap deal agreed by the two state-run oil firms, three people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

North America

The electricity bill could lead to friction with the administration of President Biden as the free-trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada forbids governments giving preferential treatment to state companies. The U.S. could bring a claim against Mexico through a state-to-state dispute settlement panel, which if successful could lead to tariffs being slapped on Mexican goods, Mr. Hernández said. – Wall Street Journal

Even through a video screen, you could feel the warm fuzzies between President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the two met Tuesday for a symbolic rebooting of neighborly relations grown testy over the past four years. – Washington Post

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Biden’s nominee to represent the United States at the United Nations as ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a more than three-decade veteran of the State Department and a diplomat with vast experience in Africa. – The Hill

Andres Martinez-Fernandez writes: Through years of neglect, the challenge of corruption in Mexico has grown to unsustainable levels, with significant repercussions domestically and abroad. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s campaign to confront corruption and money laundering presents an opportunity to make progress on these daunting issues. However, this push against corruption also features worrying trends such as politicizing anti-corruption actions, shielding allies, centralizing power, and ignoring the threats of corruption and money laundering linked to cartels. The recent US arrest of a high-ranking Mexican security official spotlights some of these deficiencies and should force a reckoning of the impact of corruption and money laundering on the US-Mexico relationship. – American Enterprise Institute


Technology executives who responded to the hack of federal government computer systems by suspected Russian agents told senators Tuesday the attack was likely wider, more complex and harder to trace than had previously been known. – Wall Street Journal

Twitter revealed new details Tuesday about influence operations on its platform backed by Armenia, Iran and Russia. – Washington Times

In a switcheroo, the Army announced two top officers will change roles at Army Cyber Command and the Cyber Center of Excellence. – C4ISRNET

In the wake of a sweeping hack that may have revealed government and corporate secrets to Moscow, the U.S. must strengthen its cyber defenses and prepare a “robust menu” of responses to attacks, Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith said Tuesday. – C4ISRNET


The chairman of a special commission on artificial intelligence warned Congress the United States is only one to two years ahead of China in developing artificial intelligence, as Beijing remains “relentlessly focused” on achieving dominance across the broad spectrum of high technologies. – USNI News

Boeing has started production of its US Air Force (USAF) T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer at its St Louis, Missouri, facility, and has developed roughly 90% of a static test article’s forward fuselage. – Janes

US Army officials are piggybacking off US Air Force (USAF) development of the Tactical High-Power Microwave Operational Responder (THOR) and hoping their investment will provide soldiers with a new weapon to down swarms of aerial drones. –  Janes

The Air Force Research Laboratory is set to receive the first major assembly of one subsystem needed for its airborne laser, although it’s pushed back the first test to fiscal 2024. – C4ISRNET

Klon Kitchen writes: National security is a team sport — and not just among America’s myriad government departments and agencies. While the United States Constitution makes the federal government responsible for ensuring the “common defense” of the nation, individual citizens, civil society groups, and private companies have always helped shoulder this burden. This remains unchanged. – American Enterprise Institute

Brian Michelson writes: The rapid weaponization of artificial intelligence, “big data,” social media, robotics, and a host of other technologies presents a clear competitive challenge to NATO, an alliance with members that exist on a wide spectrum of military-technological capabilities. The future effectiveness of NATO will be driven in large part by how it handles these challenges from hobbling its ability both to act in unison and to prevail in a contest of wills. While there are numerous potential technology gaps, one that will likely only increase is partner nations’ ability and willingness to employ lethal autonomous weapon systems. These systems will inevitably grow more capable, and more necessary, in the coming decade. – Center for European Policy Analysis