Fdd's overnight brief

February 26, 2021

In The News


The U.S. military launched an airstrike in Syria targeting groups affiliated with an Iran-backed militia in response to deadly rocket attacks in northern Iraq earlier this month, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal 

Protesters in Iran’s impoverished southeast clashed with security forces for a third consecutive day, in the latest challenge for a government facing public resentment over widespread economic hardship in the country. – Wall Street Journal 

The U.S. is asking other countries to support a formal censure of Iran over its accelerating nuclear activities, a signal that the Biden administration wants to turn up the diplomatic heat on Tehran as it looks to restore a crumbling 2015 accord. – Bloomberg 

Russia sees a chance to resurrect the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and is proposing a synchronized approach including “concrete” steps by the Biden administration to help Iran and the U.S. break their deadlock, the country’s top negotiator said. – Bloomberg

Iran dismissed as “immature” a statement by a U.N. investigator that inconsistencies in its explanation of the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane last year raised questions over whether the act was intentional, Iranian media said on Thursday. – Reuters

In the week since Washington offered to talk with Tehran about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has curbed U.N. monitoring, threatened to boost uranium enrichment and its suspected proxies have twice rocketed Iraqi bases with U.S. soldiers. – Reuters

Iran is investigating an incident in which at least two Iranians were shot dead this week at the border with Pakistan, and Islamabad has handed over the body of one of the victims, the Iranian foreign ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

Iran is threatening to end a deal struck with the U.N. nuclear watchdog last weekend temporarily salvaging much monitoring of its activities if the agency’s board endorses a U.S.-led push to criticise Tehran next week, an Iranian position paper shows. – Reuters

Iran will vote in June for a successor to President Hassan Rouhani and his moderate-reformist government, but politics in the country is dominated by the nuclear issue and no frontrunner has emerged. – Agence France-Presse

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard and Andrea Stricker write: The IAEA report itself represents a thorough overview of the IAEA’s investigation in Iran since 2018 and Tehran’s continued stonewalling of IAEA requests for explanations and clarifications about undeclared nuclear material and activities. The IAEA calls on Iran to “clarify and resolve these issues without further delay.”- Institute for Science and International Security 

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Andrea Stricker write: This report assesses information in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) quarterly safeguards report for February 23, 2021, Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), including Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). – Institute for Science and International Security

Alex Vatanka writes: There have been some Iranian advances in building relations with Black Sea states over the last 30 years. However, Tehran’s wavering commitment to deeper ties with its northern neighbors, with the exception of Russia, has considerably reduced the potential footprint Iran could have otherwise had in the Black Sea region. Tehran’s ongoing standoff with the United States, its ideologically driven preoccupation to make advances in the Arab world, and a gradual but clear submission to Russian hegemony has meant that the Black Sea region is a policy matter of secondary importance to decision-makers in Tehran. – Middle East Institute 

Yonah Jeremey Bob writes: The idea that Williams takes Iran very seriously, but does not see it as an existential threat means that she views a number of issues differently than many in the Israeli defense establishments. For example, despite Iran’s advancement with precision-guided missiles, she mostly categorizes the threat as not having changed much over the past 15-20 years. – Jerusalem Post

Mariam Memarsadeghi writes: Repeating the recent tragic mistake of Obama’s Iran policy is not simply a foolish replay of the past. It is especially egregious because of the recent, momentous gains made toward a transformation of the region toward modern, rational friendship and cooperation between Arabs and Israelis. It is as if the new administration is closing its eyes to the realities of the region and to American security interests to instead pursue a policy whose symbolism is in fact its purpose. – Tablet 


The Palestinian resistance group Hamas is being misrepresented in the mainstream media, an Israeli historian said Wednesday. – Anadolu Agency 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Joe Biden to maintain sanctions on the International Criminal Court that were imposed by the Trump administration, according to a Wednesday report. – Times of Israel

Senior Israeli security officials have told their US counterparts that they will not compromise on their insistence that Iran be deprived of nuclear weapons, even if such concessions might bring an end to Iranian entrenchment on Israel’s northern border and elsewhere, Israeli news site Walla reported Thursday. – Algemeiner 

An Israeli-Arab man has been indicted for spying on Israel’s missile defense network on behalf of the Hamas terrorist organization, the Shin Bet internal security agency revealed Friday morning. – Arutz Sheva

The IDF soldier seriously wounded at a military base in the Jordan Valley died Friday of his wounds. – Arutz Sheva

Palestine TV aired a ceremony in honor of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Balfour Declaration on February 21, 2021. Palestinian business tycoon Munib Al-Masri declared February 21 as the International Day of Commemoration for the Victims of Balfour. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Anchal Vohra writes: There is perhaps too much bad blood between Assad and Hamas to mend fences for the time being. The Syrian regime was left seething when Hamas, a group that they supported over Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization since the ’80s, shunned it in preference for its own Islamist brothers. Besides, analysts say, Assad’s strong relationship with Russia and growing ties with the UAE, both of which want Syria to come to terms with Israel, has impacted the regime’s thinking. – Foreign Policy 

Eitan Fischberger writes: It is worth noting that reopening the PLO mission would infringe on congressional legislation that mandated the closure of the mission if the Palestinians filed a suit against Israel at the ICC. Furthermore, refunding UNRWA would violate section 301(c) of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, which aims to prevent U.S. contributions to UNRWA from being used for terror-related purposes. – The National Interest

Saudi Arabia

President Biden spoke by phone Thursday with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, as the White House reviews U.S. policy toward the kingdom and the administration prepares to release an unclassified report on the role of Saudi officials in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. – Wall Street Journal 

A U.S. intelligence report set for imminent release is expected to single out Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for approving and probably ordering the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi, 59, a Washington Post contributing columnist and former Saudi royal insider who had become a leading critic of the kingdom’s government. – Washington Post 

Dennis Ross and Robert Satloff write: The Biden administration’s instinct to end the blank check with the Saudis is right. But engaging a flawed partner is not the same as confronting a determined adversary. The administration’s instinct to find a balance in the relationship is right, too. – The Hill

Gulf States

The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions Thursday on a top police security official in Yemen’s capital, which is controlled by Houthi rebels, citing his prominent role in intimidations, systematic arrests, detentions, torture, sexual violence “and rape against politically active women.” – Associated Press 

The United Arab Emirates’ first-ever ambassador to Israel will arrive next Monday and spend several days in the country, during which time he will meet with senior officials as well as scout out suitable locations for the embassy and his home, an Emirati official confirmed to The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel

Qatar on Thursday pledged $60 million to build a natural gas pipeline from Israel into the Gaza Strip that will end the energy crisis that has helped cripple the Gaza economy. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Thursday discussed Iran and the possible involvement of the Gulf state in establishing a vaccine plant in Israel, the two countries said. – Reuters


There are now at least 20,000 mercenaries in Libya, including fighters and military advisers from Russia, Syria, Chad, Turkey and Sudan, according to U.S. and U.N. officials. […]The parties involved ignored a recent deadline to remove foreign forces, an ominous sign for a U.N.-led attempt to broker a lasting political deal. – Washington Post 

Libya’s newly-elected prime minister failed to name members of a much-anticipated Cabinet ahead of an expected deadline Thursday, raising questions over whether his transitional government can unite Libya’s factions. – Associated Press 

Ben Fishman writes: By treating the conflict as a matter of Mediterranean security, President Biden’s team can better assist the new Libyan government and demonstrate its commitment to revitalizing alliances. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Turkey’s parliament is set to consider legal bids to lift the immunity from prosecution of 21 pro-Kurdish MPs, applying more pressure on a political party targeted in a years-long crackdown and that now faces calls for its closure. – Reuters

Four people have been charged in Sydney and Canada over alleged attempts to extort $10 million from a senior Iraqi politician, after what was described as a year-long campaign of intimidation. – The Guardian

Syrians in Idlib, one of the last provinces still held by rebels fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad, have faced particularly rough conditions in recent months, including harsh weather, a COVID-19 outbreak, and a countrywide economic collapse. Residents of the province, situated in northwest Syria along the Turkish border, include some 1 million internally displaced Syrians who live in tents. – Foreign Policy 

Hanin Ghaddar and Michael Knights write: With militia targeting of activists on the rise, Western officials need to name the perpetrators, hold them accountable, and support homegrown democratic movements before they are snuffed out for good. – Newsweek

Korean Peninsula

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that several employees at its embassy in North Korea had taken an unusual route — one that included a bus ride and a trip on a hand-pushed railroad trolley — to reach the country’s border with Russia. – New York Times

New video obtained by a South Korean broadcaster offers a glimpse of a daring defection by a North Korean man who last week swam, crawled through a tunnel, and wandered around the heavily guarded border zone for hours before being noticed. – Reuters

North Korea has stepped up its use of forced labor from prison camps to mine coal for export so it can procure cash for its nuclear weapons program in defiance of United Nations sanctions, according to a human rights group. – Bloomberg

South Korea has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis and food shortages unfolding in North Korea as leader Kim Jong Un grapples with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. – Financial Times


Just eight months after Beijing imposed a new national security law to quell a pro-democracy movement, this freewheeling former British colony has all but been brought to heel. – Wall Street Journal 

At least seven people over the past week have been threatened, detained or arrested after casting doubt over the government’s account of the deaths of Chinese soldiers during a clash last year with Indian troops. Three of them are being detained for between seven and 15 days. The other four face criminal charges, including one man who lives outside China. – New York Times

China’s currency has continued to climb in value this year on the back of a strong economic recovery, and Beijing doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to weaken it despite the pressure it is putting on exporters. – Wall Street Journal 

The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding motion saying the treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in China amounts to genocide, the first such move by a European country. – Reuters

Katherine Tai, President Joe Biden’s top trade nominee, backed tariffs as a “legitimate tool” to counter China’s state-driven economic model and vowed to hold Beijing to its prior commitments, while promising a sweeping new approach to U.S. trade. – Reuters

Chinese state media said President Joe Biden’s early policy toward Beijing “smacks of Trumpism,” signaling new concern over the prospects for a reset in ties with the U.S. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden’s nominee for trade chief called on China to live up to the commitments in its trade pact with the U.S. — the strongest signal yet that the new administration plans to build on the accord brokered by its predecessor rather than scrap it. – Bloomberg

Despite continued shortcomings in certain areas, China’s defense industry is developing rapidly thanks to high prioritization by the Chinese leadership. In some areas, especially unmanned systems such as ballistic missiles and hypersonic glide vehicles, China is already pushing to the forefront. It remains to be seen whether or when China’s arms industry will catch up to that of the US in terms of overall sophistication, but Chinese arms companies are already highly capable of supplying the PLA with a bevy of advanced equipment and weaponry. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Kris Cheng writes: If the row between Beijing and London turns even uglier, some speculate that China could bar BNO passport holders from leaving Hong Kong, slamming a Cold War-style iron curtain down over emigrants. For Hong Kongers looking to emigrate under the new visa scheme, the best they can do is to enter and leave the city using their Hong Kong passports or Hong Kong ID cards. As long as they refrain from using their BNO passport within Hong Kong, they should still be free to travel overseas. – Foreign Policy 


The government of Afghanistan has filed a petition in federal court supporting the return of a citizen who has been held for a third of his life at Guantánamo Bay and now argues that, based on a series of peace agreements in his fractious country, his war is over. – New York Times

President Joe Biden’s choices in Afghanistan boil down to this: withdraw all troops by May, as promised by his predecessor, and risk a resurgence of extremist dangers, or stay and possibly prolong the war in hopes of compelling the Taliban to make peace with a weak and fractured government. – Associated Press 

Germany is committed to the peace process in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said during an unannounced visit on Friday to Mazar-i-Sharif where the majority of German troops in the country are deployed. – Reuters

South Asia

India and Pakistan announced Thursday that their armed forces would cease firing across their shared border, the first such step since 2003 and a potentially significant move toward reducing tensions between the two rivals. – Washington Post  

After a year of some of the worst fighting on India’s frontiers with Pakistan and China, all three countries are suddenly talking peace as they wait to see how President Joe Biden will shift policy in the region. – Bloomberg

Sameer Lalwani writes: The United States has much to lose by letting an escalatory nuclear spiral run its course in the heart of Asia and much to gain from arresting such a chain of events. Much is at stake here, beginning with the norm against the use of nuclear weapons in warfare, the well-being of U.S. citizens, and the future of Asian geopolitics. For that reason the Biden administration would do well to expunge hesitations and prepare its crisis management playbook. – War on the Rocks


Armenia, which lost a bloody war with its neighbor Azerbaijan last fall, slipped on Thursday into a political crisis after what its prime minister called an “attempted military coup.” – New York Times

Myanmar police launched a crackdown overnight in a neighbourhood of the main city of Yangon to break up a protest against a military-appointed official, as the World Bank said it would not process requests for funds made after the Feb. 1 coup. – Reuters

The World Bank has halted payments to projects in Myanmar on withdrawal requests that were made after a Feb. 1 coup by the country’s military, the bank said in a letter to Myanmar’s finance ministry seen by Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters

Myanmar police detained a Japanese freelance journalist at a protest in the commercial capital of Yangon, a colleague said on Friday, in the first detention of a foreign reporter since the military coup on Feb. 1. – Reuters

Indonesia is “ready to fight” the European Union’s challenge of the Southeast Asian country’s ban on nickel ore exports at the World Trade Organisation, arguing the bloc’s actions may hinder Indonesia’s development plans, the trade minister said. – Reuters 

Britain slapped further sanctions on Myanmar’s generals on Thursday for “overseeing human rights violations” since toppling civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as clashes broke out between pro-junta supporters and anti-coup residents. – Agence France-Presse

China surprised Taiwan with a move to block pineapple imports, stepping up economic pressure on President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration as it continues to spar with Beijing. – Bloomberg

Taiwan issued nearly twice as many residence permits to Hongkongers in 2020 compared with the previous year, new government data have shown, further evidence of the continued exodus of people from the city that is under a worsening crackdown. – The Guardian

A U.S. destroyer moved through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, the Navy announced. […]After Curtis Wilbur moved through the strait, a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said in a statement that China “firmly opposed” the transit, which the Chinese military surveilled. – USNI News 

Eli Lake writes: At the very least, the U.S. should begin the process of accounting for Ivanishvili’s substantial overseas wealth. Even though the notoriously reclusive Ivanishvili announced last month that he was resigning as chairman of the Georgian Dream Party, most observers still believe that he calls the shots. If he credibly fears the U.S. government can complicate the management of his fortune, he may reassess his strategy of attempting to snuff out the remnants of his political opposition. – Bloomberg


Authorities have taken Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny from his Moscow jail, his lawyer said, possibly transferring him to a prison to serve a two-and-a-half-year sentence. – Bloomberg

European Union leaders condemned the treatment of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and demanded his immediate release, European Council President Charles Michel said after chairing a summit of the bloc’s leaders on Thursday. – Reuters

In the months that followed, Navalny withdrew to a remote corner of the Black Forest. He used the time to drive himself back to physical fitness with intense workouts and take his war with President Vladimir Putin to a new level: targeting him directly, for the first time, with a video investigation into a lavish Black Sea palace. – Reuters 

A Russian court sentenced a man to eight years in prison on Thursday after finding him guilty of state treason for allegedly handing over secrets to China, the TASS news agency reported. – Reuters

Russia’s latest super-sized submarine, Belgorod, has been a conundrum for interested observers. While its existence is far from secret, Moscow has gone to great pains to keep certain key details out of the public domain. While navies traditionally hide the screw, or propeller, from the cameras, in Belgorod’s case the reverse was true: the screws were on display at the 2019 launch ceremony, but no photographs of the forward section were ever published. – USNI News 

Rosbalt’s senior columnist Alexander Zhelenin believes that the sanctions are ineffectual because the regime treats relations with European institutions as ornamental, and if Russia under Putin was once willing to pay a price for membership in the Council of Europe it no longer feels that way. The Navalny case has shown that the regime’s paramount goal is to ensure its survival and it is willing to retrogress even to the isolation of the Iron Curtain era to secure that goal. – Middle East Media Research Institute 


Almost six years ago Tareq Alaows drifted across the Aegean in a rubber boat before walking most of the way from Athens to Vienna. Now the migrant who fled military conscription in Syria is trying to win a seat in Germany’s parliament. – Reuters

Ukraine named a former finance minister as ambassador to the United States on Thursday, a sign of its push to upgrade ties with Washington under President Joe Biden after it was sucked into an awkward role in Donald Trump’s first impeachment. – Reuters

German federal prosecutors have charged a German citizen with espionage, saying he passed floor plans of the Bundestag parliament building to Russian intelligence. – Reuters

The Biden administration has blocked Slovakia’s former chief prosecutor and his son from entering the United States, citing “significant corruptions,” the State Department said in a statement on Thursday. – Reuters

Chelsea Michta writes: Regardless of how it plays out, PiS’s drive to “re-nationalize” the media is symptomatic of a larger struggle over the future of Polish democracy, and what measures comport with – or imperil – Poland’s status as both a sovereign and a democratic country. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Edward Lucas writes: The European Union rarely misses a chance to miss a chance. Faced with the accelerating crackdown in Hong Kong, it could have imposed sanctions on the officials responsible, or asked all EU countries to cancel their extradition treaties. Instead, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU would (wow) increase outreach to civil society groups, coordinate with international partners and press the Chinese authorities. If things get worse (drumroll) further steps will be taken. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


In a late-night meeting on Thursday, Somalia’s prime minister persuaded opposition leaders to postpone their plan for mass anti-government protests and apologized for violence last Friday that targeted candidates running in an election that was meant to take place this month but is now delayed indefinitely. – Washington Post 

Gunmen raided a boarding school in northwest Nigeria early Friday and kidnapped dozens of girls, marking the third mass abduction of children since December in Africa’s most populous nation. The assailants struck the Government Girls Secondary School in Zamfara state in a predawn ambush, residents said, waking up neighbors as shots rang out. – Washington Post 

Ethiopian and Eritrean forces committed war crimes during an offensive to take control of the town of Axum in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region late last year, with one massacre by Eritrean troops a potential crime against humanity, according to a report released by Amnesty International on Thursday. – Washington Post 

U.S. President Joe Biden, in a call with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, discussed the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the White House said. – Reuters

Fires that appear to have been deliberately set destroyed more than 500 structures this week in and around Ethiopia’s Gijet town, an analysis of satellite imagery shared with Reuters has found, adding credence to reports of continued conflict in parts of the northern region of Tigray. – Reuters

The Americas

The Department of Homeland Security for the first time is refocusing some of its grant programs toward fighting domestic violent extremism, a priority under the Biden administration. – Wall Street Journal 

The market-friendly chief executive of Brazilian oil producer Petrobras said Thursday he would step down, paving the way for his replacement with an army general as President Jair Bolsonaro fights for greater control of the company. – Wall Street Journal 

Venezuela’s decision to ask the head of the European Union’s delegation in Caracas to leave the country further isolates Nicolas Maduro’s government, the State Department said on Thursday. – Reuters

Mihir Sharma writes: The embattled democracies of the West — and, yes, of Asia and Africa — aren’t going to be enthused by a philosophy that suggests powerful autocracies are destined not just to survive but to grow ever more powerful. Especially where non-Western democrats feel threatened by their own countries’ institutional decay or populist backsliding, those citizens need to believe that the U.S. president believes in their struggle. They deserve nothing less from the leader of the free world. – Bloomberg


President Biden’s new executive order to boost U.S. chip production has been met with praise from an unexpected source: Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei. – Washington Post 

Australia’s fight with Facebook Inc. over media content is focusing attention on European efforts to force tech giants to pay more for news, as European politicians urge national governments to quickly enact new legislation that would strengthen the hand of news organizations in their battle with internet behemoths. – Wall Street Journal 

Sen. Ron Wyden says Microsoft Corporation failed to fix known issues with its cloud software, which prompted the SolarWinds hack that compromised at least nine federal government agencies. Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the tech giant should have done more to shore up its defenses, citing the federal government’s close ties with the company. – Washington Examiner 

A top Air Force general wants to dispel the common assumption that adversaries will always try to cut or jam U.S. troops’ friendly communications. – C4ISRNET 

Facebook Inc ended a one-week blackout of Australian news on its popular social media site on Friday and announced preliminary commercial agreements with three small local publishers. – Reuters

Andrew Whiskeyman and Michael Berger write: Even before the rise of COVID-19, Russian and Iranian-linked propaganda sources, such as the Assad regime, displayed close operational coordination. Now, while Chinese disinformation efforts had usually been only loosely aligned with Russian and Iranian propaganda initiatives before the pandemic, China has since begun to overtly amplify and shape the disinformation narrative around COVID-19 following the release of Russian and pro-Iranian propaganda platforms’ claims that Covid-19 was a “U.S. biowarfare weapon.” – Washington Institute 

Joel Thayer writes: If the Pentagon truly has technical concerns, it should work with industry to develop technical solutions. But it must stop stonewalling the incredible progress the private sector has made in 5G. Industry has come to the table on 5G. It’s time that the Pentagon take a seat. – Washington Examiner


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told sailors on the USS Nimitz Thursday that he hopes to avoid long ship deployments like the more than 10 months they just spent at sea. But as he made his first aircraft carrier visit as Pentagon chief, he acknowledged the demand for American warships around the globe as he wrestles with security threats from China in the Pacific and Iran in the Middle East. – Associated Press  

This summer, the U.S. Air Force expects to have all the data it needs from the three defense companies competing to replace the B-52 bomber’s engines, but it is still “too early to say” when a contract will be awarded, a top general said Feb. 25. – Defense News 

In year two, the U.S. Space Force wants to build deeper connections with commercial industry, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond said Thursday. – C4ISRNET 

The following is the Feb. 18, 2021, Congressional Research Service report, Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress. – USNI News 

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: From an ongoing pandemic to deadly winter storms to rising poverty, Americans are facing myriad threats to their everyday security. At the same time, US military spending is at record levels, costing billions of dollars each year. And since the Pentagon has never passed an audit, it’s unclear where all that money is going. In the midst of heightened non-military security challenges, should the Biden administration approach defense spending differently – and if so, how? – American Enterprise Institute 

William C. Greenwalt writes: A common theme across core DoD processes including the PPBE is an emphasis on long-term prediction of future needs and an attempt to optimize high-performance weapons against projected requirements. When these conditions are not met (whether from shifting technology or shifting adversaries), these processes may not yield optimal, relevant, or militarily effective results. – Hudson Institute 

Makena Young, Kaitlyn Johnson and Todd Harrison write: The proliferation of counterspace weapons across the globe often calls into question what can be done to best protect satellites from attack. This analysis from the CSIS Aerospace Security Project addresses different methods and technologies that can be used by the United States government, and others, to deter adversaries from attack. A wide range of active and passive defenses are available to protect space systems and the ground infrastructure they depend upon from different types of threats. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch write: Self-reflection isn’t easy. Just ask officials at the Defense Department, which has failed three financial audits in a row, with little public fanfare. But the stakes are a little higher for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s review of extremism and white supremacy in the U.S. military, especially after veterans and active-duty troops reportedly joined the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. – Foreign Policy

Doreen Horschig and Güneş Murat Tezcür write: To maintain the credibility of the norm against chemical weapons, their every use should be met with punitive action, not mere verbal condemnation. That can take the shape of implementing economic sanctions, ensuring diplomatic isolation, or supporting investigations by the International Criminal Court. Cooperation among Western powers is crucial to signal international resolve regardless of the victims’ identity. We urge the new Biden administration, which is promising a more internationalist foreign policy, to lead the international community and enforce the norm globally. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

A jihadist message, “Islamic State endures”, is still graffitied on the front gate of Thanoun Yahya, an Iraqi Christian from the northern city of Mosul, scrawled by Islamist militants who occupied his home for three years when they ruled the city. – Reuters

A British born woman who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join Islamic State should not be allowed to return to Britain to challenge the government taking away her citizenship because she poses a security risk, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday. – Reuters

Now, like the contents of a shattered time capsule, the Pueblo has spilled back into the news, demonstrating how little has changed in the half-century of tensions that have defined relations between the United States and North Korea. On Wednesday, a federal district court in Washington awarded $2.3 billion in damages to Pueblo crew members and their families, among the most money ever awarded in a state-sponsored terrorism case. – Foreign Policy 

A global anti-money laundering watchdog gave Pakistan time until June to show the nation had done enough to be removed from a monitoring list for terror-financing. – Bloomberg