Fdd's overnight brief

February 28, 2023

In The News


Two Iranian warships docked in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government granted permission despite pressure from the United States to bar them. – Reuters

Dozens of female students in Iran have been summoned to attend “mandatory counseling sessions” for failing to wear their hijab “properly” following months of women’s rights and anti-regime protests across the nation, reports said Monday. – Fox News 

High-level Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commanders have set up a host of shell companies used to launder money in a scheme that was brought to light by documents obtained by Iran International, a Washington DC-based Persian language news organization. – Jerusalem Post

Iran is the only country willing to supply Russia with weaponry to prosecute its invasion of Ukraine, with other countries seemingly avoiding requests from Moscow to purchase arms, the head of the Ukrainian intelligence service said on Monday. – Algemeiner 

Iran said on Monday that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, will visit Tehran “in the coming days”, amid a row over uranium enrichment levels in the Islamic Republic, AFP reported. – Arutz Sheva 

The Iranian revolution is at a do-or-die moment, requiring western governments to give their full, active support or risk seeing the movement’s impact wane, Reza Pahlavi, the oldest son of the former Shah of Iran who was deposed in 1979, has said in a Guardian interview. – The Guardian

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran must also consult with China and Russia about what comes next. It can’t afford to do something that will anger its friends in Beijing and Moscow, who don’t care if Tehran builds more missiles, but may care if it takes risks by trying to create some kind of test weapon. Iran now begins to move down new tracks where it will have to make key decisions soon. These decisions will impact how it wants to continue to build up its nuclear pyramid – or if it even wants to continue to build at all. – Jerusalem Post

Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, Annika Ganzeveld, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Raisi administration may be trying to revitalize the nuclear negotiations with the West. Online rumors have claimed in recent days that former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi has joined the nuclear negotiating team and traveled to Geneva with Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian. […]Resuming compliance to achieve sanctions relief would require that Iran reestablish significant monitoring and verification cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and resume compliance with the centrifuge requirements and uranium and heavy water enrichment and stockpile limits set by the nuclear deal, among other possible measures. – Institute for the Study of War

Emil Avdaliani writes: Iran, for its part, has accelerated its “Look East” policy with the goal of balancing US sanctions and weakening Europe’s negotiating position in stalled talks on its efforts at nuclear enrichment, by increasingly aligning with China. Bilateral trade grows as does rhetorical support, as seen in Tehran praising Beijing’s Ukraine Plan. In 2021, the two countries also signed a potentially massive 25-year investment agreement. More concretely, China is now increasingly seen as a major lifeline for the Islamic Republic via Iranian oil purchases that reached $47bn over the past two years. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Russia & Ukraine

A recent series of attacks along the front lines in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine were at first regarded as exploratory thrusts. But increasingly, they are seen as the best the exhausted Russian forces can manage. – New York Times

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen visited Kyiv on Monday, the latest high-profile trip aimed at sending a message of American commitment to supporting the country’s defense against Russia’s invasion, including with financial aid. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year was the shock European leaders needed to finally follow the U.S. in boosting military spending after years of talking about increases. – Wall Street Journal

Russia launched a new wave of Iranian-made drones against Ukrainian cities, breaking a weekslong lull in such attacks, as its forces continued to tighten their grip around the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has triggered “the most massive violations of human rights” in the world today, the head of the United Nations said Monday, as the war pushed into its second year with no end in sight and tens of thousands dead. – Associated Press

The situation in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was “extremely tense” on Tuesday, the commander of Ukrainian ground forces said, as Russian troops besieging it stepped up their assault in a bid to encircle it. – Reuters

The United States is planning a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals, the Russian defence ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed a top state award on Hollywood actor Steven Seagal to reward him for his international humanitarian and cultural work, a state decree published on Monday showed. – Reuters

Russia’s former president and an ally of President Vladimir Putin said in remarks published on Monday that the West’s continued supply of arms to Kyiv risked a global nuclear catastrophe, reiterating his threat of nuclear war over Ukraine. – Reuters

Belarusian anti-government activists said they had blown up a sophisticated Russian military surveillance aircraft in a drone attack at an airfield near the Belarusian capital Minsk, a claim that neither Russia nor Belarus confirmed. – Reuters

A Ukrainian court has jailed two captured soldiers accused of taking part on Russian shelling of residential areas in eastern Ukraine, the SBU security service said on Monday. – Reuters

The Kremlin gave a lukewarm response to a Chinese plan to end the war in Ukraine, calling for a study of nuances of the proposal that urges both sides to agree to a gradual de-escalation and warns against the use of nuclear weapons. – Reuters

The remains of three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were reportedly found Monday in the eastern Russian city of Belgorod, about 26 miles north of the Ukrainian border. – Newsweek

Russian forces are conducting aerial reconnaissance in southern Ukraine using a radar system that can detect artillery fire and positions. – Newsweek   

Ukrainian forces could implement key long-range precision strike tactics in the annexed Crimean Peninsula to “make it untenable for Russian forces,” according to a former U.S. lieutenant general. – Newsweek 

Russia has responded to China’s peace plan to end the war with Ukraine, saying that its details should be the subject of careful analysis and that the process to halt the conflict will be long and “stressful.” – Newsweek 

The G-7 price cap on Russian oil has not stopped Moscow from shipping its crude at near-record volumes and at prices well above the cap set by Western leaders in December, according to a new assessment. – Washington Examiner

The top commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reiterated his troops’ need for F-16 fighter aircraft in his most recent conversation with the top U.S. general. – Washington Examiner

Given the sheer amount of military aid the U.S. has provided to Ukraine, a government watchdog believes it’s inevitable that some of it will end up in the wrong hands. – Washington Examiner

The Kremlin continues to believe it can wear down Ukrainian forces and the united Western front supporting Kyiv in due time. – Washington Examiner

Russian airstrikes in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine were designed to shock the country into submission, according to a new study by the Israeli Elrom Air and Space Research Center, but the Russian munitions suffered from poor accuracy. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: All wars end, but history is replete with ones that drag on, waxing and waning without a real cessation of hostilities. If that is the scenario Ukraine faces — and there is reason to believe it is — the United States and its allies need to start thinking beyond spring offensives or annual appropriations or the next election cycle. Long fights call for long-term planning and vision, and effective air power is essential on that horizon. – Washington Post

Editorial: Biden plainly fears such support might push Putin to go nuclear. Yet a tactical nuke or two wouldn’t actually turn the war, and anything larger guarantees catastrophic reprisals. (Plus, giving in to nuclear blackmail only guarantees more of it, and not just over Ukraine.) Biden needs to shift gears: Quit the slow-roll, piecemeal step-ups of aid and give Kyiv what it needs for total victory. Now, not later. – New York Post 

Janet L. Yellen writes: Every time I’ve met with Ukrainian leaders, they have thanked the American people for our generosity. And I often respond by saying that we are proud to support the people of Ukraine. […]Ukrainians are fighting for their lives on the front lines of the free world. Today, and every day, they deserve America’s unyielding support. – New York Times

Brady Leonard writes: Biden and McConnell may have the majority on their side right now, but America has been at war for decades, and the economy is teetering. Funding another endless war will, sooner or later, become a political albatross. – Washington Examiner 

Alexander J. Motyl writes: The age of Western imperialism is largely over. The age of Russian imperialism soon may be over. The Global South needs to recognize these facts if it wants to be on the right side of history by helping Ukraine to decolonize, resisting Russian empire-building, and thereby constructing a more just world order. – The Hill  

Dan Hannan writes: Yes, we want a settlement so that the world resumes its economic recovery. Yes, we want the suffering to stop. No, we don’t want to sacrifice lives just to teach Putin a lesson. But the quickest way to peace, from here, is a Russian defeat. – Washington Examiner

Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, George Barros, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Ukrainian military officials continue to respond to Western concerns about Ukrainian capabilities to liberate Ukrainian people and land and suggest that Ukrainian forces are preparing for a spring counteroffensive in southern Ukraine. […]A reportedly captured Russian military manual suggests that Russian forces are implementing new assault tactics to compensate for current combat power limitations in response to continued offensive failures. – Institute for the Study of War

Michał Wyrębkowski writes: But the big picture is clear: sanctions and corporate withdrawals are crippling Russian positions in energy, manufacturing, and IT. A technological stranglehold is being tightened on the Russian economy. Hopefully, the pressure will contribute to ending Putin’s aggression. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Aaron Allen writes: At the very least, the suspension of New START emphasizes that policymakers must understand that the world’s nuclear terrain will change, significantly, in the coming years. Arms control agreements have too often become ends in and of themselves and have not kept pace with evolving strategic interests. Putin’s decision may not be the final nail in the coffin of the arms control-era born of the Cold War, but it moves the world closer to that point. The West needs to urgently assess its interests based on a clear-eyed threat assessment. – Center for European Policy Analysis


A U.S.-Israeli dual national was killed Monday in what Israeli authorities said was a terrorist attack by Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank, the latest incident in an extended wave of deadly violence. – Wall Street Journal 

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Monday counted the cost of deadly violence and arson by Israeli settlers targeting a town where two Israeli brothers were killed. – Agence France-Presse

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sees the previous day’s attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank as “actions of terror,” an IDF official said Monday, as tensions in the region simmered after a weekend of violence. – CNN

Benjamin Netanyahu has not even been back in power two months, and already he faces unprecedented, multi-faceted challenges on nearly every front. From Israeli-Palestinian violence, to protests over his government’s judicial overhaul, to new challenges on the international stage, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister has his work cut out for him. – CNN

An ultra-conservative Jewish politician on Monday said he was resigning from his role in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government after failing to advance his agenda, but that he would still support the coalition in parliament. – Reuters 

A U.S.-brokered summit had barely ended with pledges to calm violence and slow Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank when Palestinian homes were set ablaze by Jewish settlers in retaliation for a deadly Palestinian gun ambush. – Reuters

A noted professor and energy security expert who was arrested earlier this month on charges of trafficking arms to Communist China and Libya has appealed to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to “rescue him” from President Biden. – New York Sun

Israel must hold settler vigilantes accountable for torching of Palestinian homes and cars in the Huwara area in the West Bank, Biden administration officials said as the United Nations Security Council prepared to hold a closed-door session Tuesday on the matter. – Jerusalem Post

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen heads to Germany Tuesday as part of Israel’s campaign to halt Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, particularly in the aftermath of reports that the Islamic Republic is close to producing weapons-grade uranium enrichment. – Jerusalem Post

The Biden administration said Monday that it expects Israel to prosecute those involved in the deadly settler rampage in a Palestinian town and provide compensation to the Palestinians whose homes and property were destroyed or damaged. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a speech in the Knesset plenum that his government would not tolerate “anarchy,” a day after a mob of extremist settlers rampaged through the Palestinian town of Huwara, lighting homes and cars on fire. – Times of Israel

After a brief lull in West Bank operations, Israeli troops detained eight wanted Palestinians during overnight raids, as manhunts continued for a number of terrorists who killed three Israelis in recent shooting attacks, the military said Tuesday morning. – Times of Israel

Israelis donated over NIS 1 million ($272,750) within less than 24 hours for Palestinians whose homes and businesses were destroyed by hundreds of settlers who carried out a deadly rampage through the northern West Bank town of Huwara on Sunday night. – Times of Israel

The US State Department issued a travel advisory for American citizens visiting Israel, citing the recent string of deadly Arab terror attacks, as well as internal “civil unrest.” – Arutz Sheva      

Editorial: When there should have been national unity in mourning the deaths of the Yaniv brothers on Sunday, extremists hijacked the day with their illegal and deadly acts. The government, as one voice, must unequivocally condemn their acts and take measures to ensure that such vigilantism does not take place. If that can’t happen, Netanyahu should draw the necessary conclusions and fire the ministers who side with the extremists who are doing untold damage to this country and its moral fiber. – Jerusalem Post

Andrew England and James Shotter write: Many Israelis, however, worry the religious and ultranationalists in government could drive an agenda that will affect myriad aspects of their society, from the justice system to education. […]If there is a bright spot amid the crisis, Livni says, it is that liberals have found their voice after a string of elections that became referendums on Netanyahu rather than policy debates. – Financial Times 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Israel will at some point probably face a negative ruling against it by the International Court of Justice regarding its handling of Palestinian issues. Then again, from the reactions of multiple leaders in the coalition, it is not clear that they care very much about the impact on the ICC and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and it is even unclear how much they care about US and EU criticism – as long as they please their domestic constituencies. – Jerusalem Post


Afghanistan is gripped by a winter that both Afghan officials and aid group officials are describing as the harshest in over a decade, battering millions of people already reeling from a humanitarian crisis. As of Monday, more than 200 people had died from hypothermia and more than 225,000 head of livestock had perished from the cold alone, according to the Afghan authorities. – New York Times

The United States helped lay the groundwork for the quick fall of Afghanistan when U.S. troops left the country in August 2021 by failing to create “an independent and self-sustainable” security force there after 20 years and $90 billion spent, the government’s watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction revealed Monday. – The Hill

The governments in Washington, D.C., and Kabul made major blunders in Afghanistan over many years, leading to the latter’s collapse in August 2021 ahead of the U.S. military’s withdrawal, according to a new report. – Washington Examiner

Top officials in President Biden’s administration are nearing a deadline this week to respond to congressional requests for documents related to the botched U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. – Fox News

Operatives of the Taliban government in Kabul are trying to identify and retaliate against Afghans who cooperated with the 20-year American military and reconstruction effort, using fingerprint records, gun records and other methods to sniff them out and target them for retribution, according to a U.S. government report. – Washington Times


The House on Monday approved a resolution that mourns the loss of life in a series of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and strongly condemns the Assad regime for what it says are efforts to “cynically exploit the disaster to evade international pressure and accountability.” – The Hill

Lydia Polgreen writes: Assad is pressing his advantage, most likely seeing the catastrophe as a way to normalize relations with his neighbors and reinforce their perception that he has vanquished the rebellion. The war in Syria has already destabilized and reordered our world in countless ways. In these dangerous and unpredictable times, the worst of it could be yet to come. – New York Times

Pauline Steinhorn writes: Surely that’s what Israel had in mind when it carried out Operation Good Neighbor during Syria’s civil war. The humanitarian-aid program sent hundreds of tons of food and clothing and established three medical facilities at the border that treated thousands. In the wake of Syria’s destructive earthquake, Sacks’s words are relevant once again. A decent society, he observed, is one in which “enemies do not allow their rancour or animosity to prevent them from coming to one another’s assistance when they need help.” It shouldn’t take a natural disaster for the rest of us to remember that. – Wall Street Journal

Erik Yavorsky writes: While some rank-and-file PMF members undoubtedly have genuine sympathy for the Syrian population and are delivering aid of real value, the muqawama leadership of the PMF—comprising multiple U.S.-designated human rights abusers and terrorists—and their Iranian partners are likely bent on exploiting the earthquake to substantially improve their cross-border coordination with Assad and Lebanese Hezbollah, and to legitimize themselves inside Iraq. PMF charitable operations and sites in Syria should therefore be closely scrutinized. – Washington Institute


A magnitude 5.6 earthquake shook southern Turkey on Monday, three weeks after a catastrophic temblor devastated the region, causing some already damaged buildings to collapse and killing at least one person, authorities said. – Associated Press 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday asked for forgiveness over rescue delays while visiting one of the areas hit hardest by the deadly earthquake earlier this month. – Agence France-Presse

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday talks with Sweden and Finland over their NATO membership bids would resume on March 9, although he said Sweden had still not fulfilled its obligations under a memorandum signed last year. – Reuters

The earthquake that hit Turkey this month caused $34bn of damage, according to an assessment by the World Bank that underscores the extent of the physical devastation wrought by the natural disaster. – Financial Times

Hany Ghoraba writes: Erdogan and the ruling APK party’s mishandling of Turkey’s most devasting natural disaster in a century may seal their fate in the upcoming elections, given they were in hot water over the economy even before the earthquake took place. Playing the religion card will not likely distract the public from the mishandling of this disaster by the Turkish authorities, which exacerbated only its casualties. – The Investigative Project on Terrorism 


Nearly 20 years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by U.S.-led forces, Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid wants the world to know his country now is at peace, democratic and intent on rebuilding economic life while maintaining a government that serves the whole country and the region. – Associated Press

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Baghdad on Monday to denounce a draft elections law that would increase the size of the country’s electoral districts, potentially undermining independent candidates. – Associated Press 

A Turkish drone strike in northern Iraq on Monday killed three fighters from the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a militia affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iraqi Kurdistan’s counterterrorism service said. – Reuters

In comments that should raise eyebrows around the Middle East and the wider region, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander Hossein Salami met with Iraq’s Defense Minister Thabet Mohammad Said Reda, offering support for Iraq’s armed forces. – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

President Joe Biden’s promise to review U.S.-Saudi ties after the kingdom slashed oil production quotas weeks before the midterm elections “was never about producing a homework assignment,” the White House said. – Washington Examiner

The United Arab Emirates are urging the UN Security Council to hold discussions tomorrow (Tues) on the recent wave of violence in Judea and Samaria, as well as “settler” rioting in the PA city of Huwara following the terrorist shooting yesterday, which claimed the lives of Hillel and Yagel Yaniv. – Arutz Sheva

Michael Rubin writes: Back to Qatar: As the country seeks to punch above its weight in international affairs, it should welcome criticism and debate rather than seek to disqualify or fund elaborate networks of pop-up media outlets and think tanks each supported by the same handful of commentators and academics sucking from the Qatari teat. Doha may believe it has plausible deniability, but it fools no one. Every day the Qatari network spreads its poison, Qatar’s long-term influence fades. – Washington Examiner


Global donors on Monday pledged about $1.2 billion at a conference aimed at generating funds to help millions of people in Yemen suffering from the fallout of an eight-year civil war, a U.N. official said. The amount is far below a target of $4.3 billion set by the United Nations to stave off one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. – Associated Press

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday pledged more than $444 million in additional aid to Yemen as it faces what the secretary called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” of conflict, economic instability, food insecurity and other issues. – The Hill

Ibrahim Jalal writes: It is highly likely that Houthi attacks on Yemeni ports will increase the militarization and securitization of the Arabian and Red seas. This will require the ROYG to improve its naval and coastguard capabilities, including by means of cooperation with Arab and Western states, to interdict the flow of Iranian arms and equipment. If allies in the West are genuine, the prospect of sending captured arms to the ROYG’s Yemeni Armed Forces rather than elsewhere should be explored. Unless they are seriously and adequately addressed, the Houthis’ multi-range and non-conventional capabilities will present a long-term threat to Yemenis, the wider region, and beyond. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt promised more aid to Syria Monday after earthquakes devastated parts of the country, in a sign of how Arabs states are rekindling ties with President Bashar al-Assad after ostracizing him for more than a decade for his brutal crackdown on opponents at home. – Wall Street Journal

Switzerland’s financial regulator has investigated 12 banks and launched enforcement proceedings against two of them in relation to corruption charges against longtime central banker Riad Salameh, it said on Monday. – Reuters

A new push to convince chaos-stricken Libya’s rival factions to hold presidential and legislative elections this year was announced by the top United Nations diplomat in the country on Monday, but any optimism was dampened by a lack of details and continued disputes. – Associated Press

Walter Russell Mead writes: The administration seems to be moving, slowly, in the right direction in the Middle East, but time is not on its side. Wishful thinking and strategic incompetence led the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment first to ignore and then to appease rising challengers to the post-Cold War world order. Now the Biden administration faces the consequences of a generational failure in American foreign policy. We must wish Team Biden success as it struggles to cope with a world that it, along with the American foreign-policy community as a whole, largely failed to foresee. – Wall Street Journal

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The overall web of this group is so large that it appears in many cases that only one part of the Hezbollah elephant is being touched at a time. It remains to be seen if this case will lead to more revelations and whether extradition will go smoothly. – Jerusalem Post


The Energy Department’s conclusion, with “low confidence,” that an accidental laboratory leak in China most likely caused the coronavirus pandemic has renewed questions about what sparked the worst public health crisis in a century — and whether the virus at the heart of it was somehow connected to scientific research. – New York Times

China accused the United States of politicizing the coronavirus pandemic again on Monday, in response to reports that the Energy Department had concluded that an accidental laboratory leak had likely triggered the spread of Covid worldwide. – New York Times

A special House committee dedicated to countering China will make its debut on Tuesday, the opening act in what lawmakers hope will be a robust effort to overcome partisan divisions and address a “generational challenge” to America’s national security. – Associated Press

A contingent of Chinese companies led by technology giant Huawei is turning the world’s biggest wireless trade fair into an opportunity to show their muscle in the face of Huawei’s blacklisting by Western nations concerned about cybersecurity and escalating tensions with the U.S. over TikTok, spy balloons and computer chips. – Associated Press

China on Monday accused the U.S. of “outright bullying and double standards” in leveling what it called “illegal” sanctions on Chinese companies as part of U.S. actions against Russia’s Wagner Group and related companies and individuals. – Associated Press

China must be more honest about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. ambassador to China said on Monday, after reports that the U.S. Energy Department concluded the pandemic likely arose from a Chinese laboratory leak. – Reuters

China has always maintained communication with all sides in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, including Kyiv, a foreign ministry spokesperson told a regular news briefing on Monday. – Reuters

China is using TikTok to expand its influence around the world, a top Republican lawmaker said Monday in arguing that the popular video-sharing app that’s owned by a Beijing-based company should be banned in the US or sold off. – Bloomberg

The geopolitical crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing US-China tensions have led to “slowbalization,” where global integration is happening at a slower pace, according to retired General David Petraeus. – Bloomberg

China will welcome the leader of Russian ally Belarus for a state visit this week as the US again warned Beijing against supplying Moscow with weapons for its war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

American private schools owned by Chinese government-linked groups would not be allowed to operate junior military programs if a bill introduced Monday by Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) succeeds. – Washington Examiner

Top officials in the intelligence community will appear before the Senate for a hearing on foreign security threats after a suspected Chinese spy balloon violated U.S. airspace last month. – Washington Examiner

The Biden administration will require tech and chip manufacturers that receive subsidies via the CHIPS and Science Act to provide some form of child care, adding a new domestic policy restriction to funding meant to help the United States compete with China in an innovation war. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Congress should tread carefully. Legislators could add the Secretary of Agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which oversees inbound investment, so that agricultural concerns aren’t overlooked in its deliberations. The government should also ensure that disclosures by foreign buyers are more detailed and accessible, and should strengthen the penalties for noncompliance. […]Above all, government officials should resist needlessly exacerbating public anxieties and paranoia. The US has enough real threats to worry about without concocting new ones. – Bloomberg 

Ross Babbage writes: The high-altitude balloon that drifted across the United States this month was seen by many Americans as a shocking Chinese breach of U.S. sovereignty. It may turn out to be child’s play compared with the havoc China could wreak on the American homeland in a war. – New York Times

Adam J. White writes: The House charged the committee to “investigate and submit policy recommendations on the status of the Chinese Communist Party’s economic, technological, and security progress and its competition with the United States.” It can’t begin to understand this competition without understanding America’s own strengths and weaknesses—especially the self-imposed ones. – Wall Street Journal 

Benny Avni writes: Also, Washington warnings of arm sales aside, China exports to Russia semiconductors and microchips, defying a Western ban. Such technologies can aid the Russian military. Perhaps that was what Mr. Blinken meant by saying Beijing supplies Russia with “dual-use” material that can be used on the battlefield. – New York Sun

South Asia

Days after the deadly violence in the village in frontier Rajouri district, where homes are separated by maize and mustard fields, hundreds of residents staged angry protests across the Hindu-dominated Jammu region. In response, Indian authorities revived a government-sponsored militia and began rearming and training thousands of villagers, including some teenagers. – Associated Press

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s investment arm, said it will provide Sri Lanka a $400 million cross-currency swap facility to help fund essential imports. – Reuters

China’s foreign minister Qin Gang will attend the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting on March 2 in Delhi, the foreign ministry said at a regular news briefing on Tuesday. – Reuters

Donald Kirk writes: Indian leaders just don’t think they can risk offending Moscow, whose support is also essential vis-a-vis China even if Moscow and Beijing now appear on good terms. […]For Washington, India’s position is all the more upsetting considering diplomatic moves that would appear to be driving India much closer to de facto alliance with Washington than ever before. – New York Sun


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is flying on Tuesday into the heart of what Moscow considers its sphere of influence to urge senior Central Asian officials convening in Kazakhstan to maintain independence from Russia and China. – New York Times

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is unlikely to attend a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in India from Wednesday, instead prioritizing parliamentary business, according to a government official. – Bloomberg

The Philippine president said the main mission of his country’s military has changed to ensure the protection of its territory as disputes with China and U.S.-China rivalry intensify. – Associated Press

The foreign ministers of Japan and New Zealand agreed on Monday to speed up talks on an intelligence sharing pact as the two island nations vowed to strengthen security ties and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region amid shared concern over an increasingly assertive China. – Associated Press

China accused the United States of “endangering” peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait after a U.S. military plane flew through the sensitive waterway on Monday, with the U.S. Navy responding that it had been in international airspace. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged government officials to engineer a “fundamental transformation” in agricultural production, state media reported on Tuesday, amid fears that the country’s food shortage is worsening. – Reuters

Newly released photos offer a rare glimpse into the abandoned demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, revealing rare wildlife and plant life flourishing in the space largely untouched by humans. – New York Post 

Thailand kicked off an international military exercise with the biggest US attendance in a decade as Washington seeks to build on ties with a key security partner at a time of rising global geopolitical competition with Beijing. – Bloomberg

Singapore’s top diplomat lauded recent inroads made with Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei as part of a strategy to build “overlapping circles of friends” amid worsening geopolitical tensions in the region. – Bloomberg

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has instructed his military to be prepared to invade Taiwan in 2027, but the CIA’s belief is that he has “doubts” about whether this is an attainable goal. – Washington Examiner

China will attack the American homeland if “a major war” erupts over Taiwan or elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. Army’s top civilian expects. – Washington Examiner

Pankaj Mishra writes: Instead of yet again expediently legitimizing authoritarian rulers and further damaging its credibility, the West would be better off maintaining its commitment to democracy — and not just rhetorically. It is too easy to throw around the word “democracy” along with bombastic adjectives such as “largest” and “vibrant.” A harder, but essential, task is upholding the core democratic ideals of equality and justice — everywhere. Certainly, those who claim to be fighting for freedom and dignity in Ukraine should not be willing to countenance their destruction in India, Turkey and other likely partners of the West. – Bloomberg

Kamran Bokhari writes: Further compounding matters is the fact that the unintended consequences of the sanctions weakening Astana’s economic position are happening when the country is going through a crucial political transformation. Such a situation undermines U.S. policy to render Kazakhstan (and other post-Soviet nations) less dependent upon Russia. What is worse is that the sanctions regime, as it currently stands, conflicts with the American strategic interest to fortify political and economic resilience of the Central Asian nations. – The Hill

Gary Anderson writes: No one wants a Sino-American war over Taiwan, but the best way to persuade Beijing not to start one is to convince it that an attack will be too costly. – The National Interest


The U.K. and the European Union agreed Monday on a new trading arrangement for Northern Ireland, a move aimed at ending years of friction caused by Brexit and allowing greater cooperation between both sides at a time of mounting geopolitical risk to Europe from Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

King Charles III met with Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, at Windsor Castle on Monday afternoon, where the pair shared some tea and posed for a photo. – New York Times

Moldova’s intelligence agency said Monday that two foreign nationals who posed as tourists have been expelled from the country and banned from returning for 10 years after they were caught carrying out “subversive actions” to destabilize Moldova. – Associated Press

Montenegro’s lawmakers on Monday elected all but one of the judges of the country’s top court, ending a stalemate that has threatened to halt the Balkan nation’s European Union membership bid. – Associated Press

Pope Francis will visit at the end of April, the Vatican said Monday, in a trip expected to focus on migration to Europe and Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Associated Press 

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo agreed on Monday to a Western-backed deal to normalise relations but more talks are needed on the implementation of the pact, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. – Reuters

The Kremlin said on Monday it was worried about the state of affairs in Moldova’s breakaway Transdniestria region, where it said Ukraine and other European countries were stirring up the situation. – Reuters

Hungary’s top diplomat accused Finland and Sweden of “spreading lies” about the erosion of democracy and said lawmakers in Budapest were justified in delaying approval of the Nordic nations’ NATO membership. – Bloomberg

Poland’s president accused the European Union of interfering in the country’s internal affairs and warned that the ruling party shouldn’t stake this year’s election campaign on securing access to EU funds. – Bloomberg

Therese Raphael writes: But even a big leap from a low base is an advance. Von der Leyen made clear that EU obstacles to Britain’s involvement in the EU’s massive Horizon science funding program would be removed. That will be welcome in universities and laboratories that have faced uncertainty and seen funding cut off because of the impasse over Northern Ireland. This was as close to a kumbaya moment as the UK and EU have had for many years; maybe decades. It should mark the end of the beginning of the post-Brexit era; maybe not the ending many wanted, but one that most will be happy to live with. – Bloomberg

Andreas Kluth writes: Europe and the West must prepare now. Sending Moldova a few dollops of cash and offering it the distant prospect of EU membership are a start. But the EU should also help wean the country from its reliance on Russian gas and give it the means to house the many Ukrainian refugees Moldova has welcomed. And it must send weapons to Chisinau’s army. – Bloomberg

Joshua C. Huminski writes: Biden missed a chance with the State of the Union to speak clearly to the American people. While his visit to Ukraine and Poland was about European resolve, he would do well to take a turn at home. Assuming the political resolve will remain is just as risky a bet as Russia’s assumption that it can outlast the West. – The Hill


Early results from Nigeria’s presidential election showed a sizable lead for the ruling party’s Bola Tinubu on Monday, as international observers said serious logistical problems, violence and the slow publishing of polling-station results had marred the vote in Africa’s largest economy and most-populous nation. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. first lady Jill Biden got an up-close look Sunday at the historic East Africa drought as she walked along arid land and listened as some Maasai women described how their children and livestock are going hungry. She appealed for more countries to join the United States to help alleviate the suffering. – Associated Press

Ethiopia is courting support for a motion to cut short a U.N.-mandated inquiry into atrocities in the Tigray war, five diplomats said, in a move that could divide African and Western nations. – Reuters

President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that France’s military bases in Africa will gradually be co-run with their host nations, after Paris suffered a series of setbacks in its former sphere of influence. – Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi said on Monday that a conflict with rebels in the east of the country could disrupt preparations for general elections scheduled for Dec. 20. – Reuters

The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) suspended flights in Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces following an attack on one of the service’s helicopters last week, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Monday. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron gave French businesses a public dressing down for their lack of ambition in Africa as he pressed for a reset in the relationship between his country and the continent. – Bloomberg

Dozens of Russians working for a mining company in Sudan are being probed by authorities on suspicion of gold-smuggling, in a potential setback for Moscow’s ambitions in the resource-rich North African state. – Bloomberg

Latin America

Ecuador and Belgium on Monday agreed to increase bilateral cooperation in their fight against international organized crime, a day after Ecuadorean police seized nearly nine tonnes of drugs bound for the European country. – Reuters

Chile’s government is deploying troops to its border with Peru and Bolivia to try and stem a rise in illegal immigration amid a mounting backlash against new arrivals. – Bloomberg

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s administration wants former President Jair Bolsonaro to appear before Brazilian courts in the next few months and is considering options to force him to return to the country if he doesn’t voluntarily come back by the end of March, according to a high-ranking adviser to the leftist leader. – Bloomberg 

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro — who has spent the last two months in the US — is scheduled to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference as he faces investigations back home after riots by supporters who refused to accept his election defeat. – Bloomberg

North America

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday denied a media report from last week saying his office had been warned by Canada’s spy agency to drop a Liberal candidate, who is now a member of parliament, because he had Beijing’s support. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States asked Mexico’s government to extradite Ovidio Guzman, son of jailed drug boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, so that he can face criminal charges in a U.S. court, two Mexican government sources told Reuters on Monday. – Reuters

A select group of congressional leaders on Tuesday will hear from administration officials about classified documents found in the possession of President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg 


Canada on Monday followed the lead of the U.S. and European Commission and banned the TikTok app from government-issued devices, citing an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security. – Wall Street Journal

The White House is giving all federal agencies 30 days to wipe TikTok off all government devices, as the Chinese-owned social media app comes under increasing scrutiny in Washington over security concerns. – Associated Press

The White House has given the Commerce Department the green light to renew a Trump-era executive order meant to raise the costs and diminish the ability of foreign hackers to abuse U.S. cloud services, MC has learned. – Politico 

The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) suffered a ransomware security breach this month that compromised sensitive law enforcement information, a spokesman said on Monday. – Reuters 

Two Reuters journalists had their identities faked by an unknown person or people who then used sham social media accounts to engage with Chinese activists on several online platforms over several months. – Reuters

The Australian government on Monday said it planned to overhaul its cyber security rules and set up an agency to oversee government investment in the field and help coordinate responses to hacker attacks. – Reuters 

The House passed legislation Tuesday night requiring smart device designers to provide clear disclosures to consumers about cameras or microphones in their products, a measure meant to respond to fears of internet-connected televisions and refrigerators spying on users. – Washington Examiner 

Jianli Yang writes: We may not be able to stop China and Russia from working to steal our sensitive information and damage our critical infrastructures, but we can stop them from being effective. We will be able to do so only if the government stops trying to manage everything and instead begins focusing singularly on its hacking detection and response effort. Only then will it find the right private and public sector balance needed to respond to these threats of terrorism and keep the American people safe and secure for generations to come. – The Hill


The Department of Defense reminded members of the military that although jumping out of a plane with a parachute and an American flag in tow may seem patriotic to some, it is not acceptable. – Fox News 

The Navy has renamed a warship in honor of a Black sailor and statesman who had been born into slavery, as part of the US military’s ongoing effort to remove names that commemorate the Confederacy. – CNN 

Russia is fulfilling a years-long naval nuclear plan separate from Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to buck an international treaty, a Russia expert told Newsweek. – Newsweek 

“It’s kind of a paradox that our ‘unmanned’ formations are larger than our manned formations,’” said Maj. Gen. Michael McCurry, a veteran helicopter pilot who now heads the Army aviation “schoolhouse” at Fort Rucker, Ala. – Breaking Defense 

After a rocket-propelled grenade attack hit Britt Slabinski’s helicopter in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2002, the weight of the decisions in the hours that followed transformed him into a true warfighting professional. – Military.com

Long War

The promise and perils of America’s counterterrorism campaign were on full display at a remote training base in central Somalia. – New York Times

Land mines left behind by the Islamic State group in central Syria went off in two different locations on Monday, killing 10 workers as they were collecting truffles in the countryside and wounding 12, state media reported. – Associated Press

Dr. Sondra S. Crosby appeared in court to condemn the ‘rectal feeding’ torture method used by the United State’s CIA in Guantanamo Bay. Crosby appeared in court for the trial of Abd Al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of participating in the planning of the bombing of the USS Cole. His lawyers are claiming that any confessions he made were under the duress of torture. – Jerusalem Post