Fdd's overnight brief

February 5, 2021

In The News


French President Emmanuel Macron offered Thursday to be an “honest broker” in talks between the United States and Iran in order to revive a 2015 nuclear deal which was torpedoed by ex-president Donald Trump. – Agence France-Presse

The U.S., British, French and German foreign ministers plan to discuss soon, possibly as early as Friday, how to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday. – Reuters

Amnesty International is urging the international community to “urgently intervene” to save the lives of four ethnic Baluch and four ethnic Arab men who are on death row following what the human rights watchdog called “flagrantly unfair trials. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Iran is defending its hosting of a senior Taliban delegation for an entire week in a move that analysts say is aimed at highlighting its influence and cultivating ties with the potential future government of Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has arrived in Iran as the country prepares to launch a COVID-19 inoculation campaign aimed at curbing the usage of Western medicines. – Radio Farda

A former Iranian diplomat has said that if Israel or the US take “dangerous” steps, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may reverse the religious opinion that forbids the acquisition, development or use of nuclear weapons. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Biden should offer Iran relief only in return for its verified compliance on ballistic missile research, new inspections protocols, removal of any “sunset” provision, and a strengthened regional agreement. […]Whatever he thinks of his predecessor, it would be an immense folly for Biden to flush away the leverage Trump left him. – Washington Examiner

Bobby Ghosh writes: On Thursday, Sullivan announced Biden would end support for all offensive military operations of a Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen. And the fact that the president has not yet called Benjamin Netanyahu suggests he is keeping the Israeli prime minister, the most hawkish of Iran hawks, at an arm’s length. As a result, the administration has more room to maneuver. Now it falls to President Biden to map his own course on Iran. – Bloomberg

Michael Eisenstadt and Mehdi Khalaji write: Diplomacy can succeed only when Tehran concludes—following an unsentimental, cold-eyed assessment—that a new agreement or series of agreements will advance its interests. At the same time, this likely means that Tehran will adhere to a new agreement only for as long as doing so aligns with its interests. The international community therefore needs to create a framework that can not only facilitate a new deal, but also sustain it for many years to come. – Washington Institute 

Ilan I. Berman writes: In the case of Iran, however, its already clear that the principal culprit for the country’s misery isn’t an external force. Rather, the regime’s official ideology and anti-Western orientation are primarily responsible for just how deeply the country is being ravaged by the pandemic, and why proper answers to it remain so elusive. – Al-Hurra Digital

Gabriel Mitchell and Alex Vatanka write: It would be foolhardy to suggest that this time next year Israeli and Iranian officials will be meeting on the White House lawn in order to sign a peace accord. Israel and Iran share significant grievances with one another that would likely require years to untangle and resolve. […]But both normalization and the arrival of the Biden administration have presented a window of opportunity to change the existing discourse, and that opportunity must be seized with both hands by those parties in Jerusalem and Tehran who seek a better, safer future for their people and the region. Why not seize it now? – Jerusalem Post


Turkey’s interior minister accused the United States on Thursday of being behind a 2016 failed coup that Ankara has blamed on a U.S.-based Muslim preacher, the Hurriyet daily reported, at a time when Turkey is seeking improved ties with its NATO ally. – Reuters

Turkey’s lira hit its strongest level since August on Friday and cemented its position as the top performing currency in the world this year, after the central bank governor told Reuters that interest rates were unlikely to be cut for a “long time”. – Reuters

Turkey’s far-right ruling party, which has imprisoned journalists and dissidents, continued its extremist slide on Thursday, calling student protesters “terrorists.” – Jerusalem Post


Israel quickly became the world leader in vaccinating its population against Covid-19, but almost all Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank are still waiting for their first doses of the inoculation. – New York Times

The Israeli military said Friday that an unarmed Palestinian man was shot and killed in a West Bank settlement after he tried to break into a home and fought with a guard. – Associated Press

Israel has become a key “target of China’s geo-economic exploitation” and should develop a joint strategy with the United States, argued a report published Monday by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). – Algemeiner

The United States Senate voted 97-3 late Thursday to support an amendment to the COVID-19 budget resolution that affirmed the country’s intention to keep its embassy in Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres threw his support behind the call for an international peace conference under the auspices of his organization and the Quartet, which would resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the pre-1967 lines. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF is scanning Ras Karkar, the village northwest of Ramallah home to the Palestinian who attempted to infiltrate the “Sde Ephraim” agricultural farm near the Neria settlement in the West Bank on Thursday night, the IDF Spokesperson announced on Friday morning.  – Jerusalem Post

The government is continuing to try to promote delivery drones in Israel. The next big step is scheduled to take place in March, when a large-scale test run will take place in central Israel and will see 20 drones from five different companies fly over a single urban airspace. – Haaretz

Israel’s Civil Administration demolished and confiscated most of the structures in Palestinian village of Khirbet Humsa in the northern Jordan Valley, in the second massive operation in the last three months at the site. – Haaretz


France lambasted the Lebanese authorities Thursday for failing to uncover the causes of a massive explosion that killed more than 200 people and ravaged swathes of Beirut six months ago. – Agence France-Presse

Lebanon’s Hezbollah group condemned on Thursday the killing of prominent activist Lokman Slim. – Reuters

As a confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon always appears to be on the horizon, and escalation in Gaza seems ever-imminent, IDF units – both of conscripts and reserves – continue to train intensively. – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

President Biden launched a new initiative to end the six-year civil war in Yemen, appointing a personal envoy to work on peace efforts and announcing an end to remaining U.S. offensive support for the Saudi-led military campaign there. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia welcomed on Thursday what U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech included regarding the commitment of the U.S. to cooperate with the kingdom to defend its sovereignty and address the threats targeting it, the state news agency SPA reported. – Reuters

Eli Lake writes: If the Saudis are persuaded that the U.S. will remain a steadfast ally, they will be more willing to bankroll humanitarian relief work and reconstruction in Yemen, Syria and the Palestinian territories. Over time, that will make it easier for the Biden administration to reduce the U.S. footprint in the Middle East. The trick now is to persuade bin Salman that his country’s alliance with the U.S. is a two-way street. Biden can’t be a good friend to a man who has dissidents murdered — and neither can America. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzaman writes: That the US will end support for Riyadh’s offensive operations is a new chapter in the conflict. It may signal to Iran that Tehran has an advantage now. […]Iran has also spread conspiracies about Israeli links to the UAE involving Yemen, including Iran’s Press TV accusing Israel of “stealing” resources from an island called Socotra off the coast. Like many things in Yemen, these stories are more rumor than reality and are used to discredit various governments through the prism of the Yemen war. – Jerusalem Post


Potential leaders of a new Libyan interim government joined in competing blocs on Thursday to seek backing from participants in U.N.-backed talks after publicly auditioning for top roles. – Reuters

Participants in talks on Libya’s political future were preparing for a ballot on Friday morning to select a new interim government, part of a U.N. process aimed at resolving the country’s decade of chaos with elections in December. – Reuters

The UN Security Council on Thursday instructed Secretary General Antonio Guterres to deploy ceasefire monitors to war-torn Libya. – Agence France-Presse

Hundreds of Europe-bound migrants were intercepted in the Mediterranean sea off Libya’s coasts and taken into detention over the last 24 hours, the U.N. migration agency said Friday. – Associated Press

A new United Nations report alleges that the United Arab Emirates has established direct contact with armed Sudanese groups fighting in Libya’s proxy conflict on the side of Khalifa Haftar. – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

The scenes on Tunisian streets in January seemed like deja vu: Teenagers throwing stones at police. Chants calling for the fall of the regime. An embattled head of government on television, pleading for calm and met with derision. – Foreign Policy

In the latest sign of changes rippling across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s most widely read English newspaper on Thursday published an op-ed by Israelis for the first time in its history. – Times of Israel

Michael Doran writes: It is only natural that Mr. Biden’s national-security team which with few exceptions was also Mr. Obama’s team, would feel a reciprocal urge to erase the Trump legacy.[…] Abandoning containment, gutting deterrence, squandering leverage, downgrading allies and enriching enemies—these are the essential components of the Obama-Biden strategy. For a superpower to embrace such an approach isn’t only abnormal; it is alarming. – Wall Street Journal 

Lahav Harkov writes: As the Biden administration moves to put more daylight – as the Obama administration would have put it – between the US and the UAE, it would make sense for Netanyahu to reassure the Emiratis of the value of close ties with Israel, even when there is a less-friendly president in Washington. […]And for Netanyahu there would be an added benefit, because the trip would take place even closer to the Knesset election on March 23 than it is now, making voters more likely to remember it, and its positive associations, when they go to the polls. – Jerusalem Post

Stan Steinreich writes: Hence, today’s Middle East is a very different region with significantly different priorities and challenges than the one Biden left when he exited the White House four years ago. The business community in the region is hopeful that he will take the time to listen and absorb these changes, realize their global significance, and alter his rush to agreements that could threaten this progress. – Jerusalem Post


A U.S. warship sailed near the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands in the disputed South China Sea on Friday in a freedom of navigation operation, the U.S. Navy said, the first such mission under President Joe Biden’s new administration. – Reuters

The United States is deliberately “creating tensions” and disrupting peace and stability, China’s military said, after a U.S. warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the first such mission under the new Biden administration. – Reuters

President Joe Biden on Thursday called China’s America’s most serious competitor, but said the United States is ready to work with China when it is in its interests to do so. – Reuters

A pro-China network that uses social media platforms and fake accounts to spread Chinese propaganda is starting to gain traction online. – The Hill

World Health Organization inspectors had “very frank” discussions with Chinese scientists about the source of the pandemic, including theories it leaked from a laboratory, the head of the probe in Wuhan told AFP Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Peter Rough writes: Although French and British freedom of navigation operations in the Indo-Pacific are helpful, Europe’s response to China need not be a large demonstration of hard power far from the continent. Europe maintains formidable strengths in economics, politics, and technology. It should leverage these and, with American support, work to improve its position toward China. Whether Europe seizes that advantage will depend on whether it is willing to see Xi’s high-gloss Davos pitch as the blueprint for ruin that it is. – Hudson Institute 


At least 64 pro-government forces and 26 civilians were killed in Afghanistan the past week. – New York Times

A network of shadowy power brokers and warlords, bankrolled by the Afghan government and the national police force, is luring disadvantaged people into joining militias, sometimes under false pretenses, out of a growing desperation to hold territory around highways in the country’s north, according to former militia members and local officials. – New York Times

A spate of recent journalist killings and attacks on media in Afghanistan is prompting some Afghan journalists to leave their jobs while others fear for their lives daily. – Gandhara 

South Asia

The creators of an Indian farmers’ protest toolkit shared by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will be investigated by police, authorities said Thursday, saying it was designed to “encourage disaffection and ill-will” against the government. – Agence France-Presse

Thousands of miners have stopped work and many have fled Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province since insurgents killed 10 Hazara workers at a colliery last month, officials said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

India has high hopes its ties with the United States will deepen under President Joe Biden, who was a key proponent of the 2008 civil nuclear deal between the countries and whose new administration includes several Indian Americans. – Associated Press


President Biden has vowed to rally the United States’ partners to respond to Myanmar’s military coup. But persuading Asian allies to support sanctions or moves to isolate the regime will be no easy task, given extensive business interests, a genuine belief in engagement and a desire not to cede strategic ground to China. – Washington Post

The Kim family has governed North Korea since Soviet leader Joseph Stalin installed clan patriarch Kim Il Sung as head of state after World War II.  – Wall Street Journal

For the National League for Democracy, or N.L.D., there was no escaping one fundamental truth: The generals always had the upper hand. On Monday, they wielded it brazenly, retaking full power in a coup d’état. – New York Times

US President Joe Biden called on Myanmar’s generals to “relinquish power” Thursday and demanded they free civilian leaders detained in this week’s coup, as his administration said it was considering sanctions. – Agence France-Presse

Palau announced Friday it was quitting the Pacific Islands Forum over a leadership row, threatening the future of a key grouping in a region where China and the United States are vying for influence. – Agence France-Presse

The posts circulated online shortly after Myanmar’s military seized power in a bloodless coup in early February 2021. The claim, however, is misleading: the footage in fact shows protesters clashing with the Myanmar military in Yangon in 2007. – Agence France-Presse

Canada said on Thursday that Hong Kong graduates of Canadian universities could apply for a new category of three-year work permit next week and expressed fresh concern about China’s clampdown on the former British territory. – Reuters

The leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia on Friday said they were seeking a special meeting of Southeast Asian nations to discuss the situation in Myanmar, where an elected government was overthrown in a coup this week. – Reuters

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday called for the release of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others detained by the military and voiced concern over the state of emergency there but stopped short of condemning the coup. – Reuters

The International Monetary Fund will be “guided by our membership” in deciding whether to recognize the military regime that has seized power in Myanmar as the country’s legitimate government, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said on Thursday. – Reuters

Myanmar’s military should relinquish power and release officials and activists detained in this week’s coup, U.S. President Joe Biden said in his first foreign policy address on Thursday. – Reuters

Democratic U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Republican Senator Todd Young will introduce a resolution on Thursday urging Myanmar’s military to step back from this week’s coup, Cardin told Reuters, backing up the Biden administration’s pressure for the release of Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. – Reuters

Another leading figure in Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, Win Htein, told Reuters on Friday that he had been arrested in the aftermath of this week’s coup even as the U.N. Security Council called for detainees to be freed. – Reuters

Hong Kong’s new national security education curriculum will force teachers to warn primary students as young as six years old against “subversion” and to throw out library books considered dangerous to the Chinese state. – Financial Times

President Joe Biden has beefed up his foreign policy team with several experts on Asia — a move analysts said signals renewed efforts to raise U.S. standing in a region where China’s influence is growing. – CNBC

George Lopez and David Cortright write: The U.S. and its democratic allies should provide significant support for civil society action within Myanmar. Already Burmese pro-democracy networks and human rights defenders are protesting[…]. There are no easy options as the Biden administration faces this significant foreign policy challenge. But by strengthening existing economic sanctions, taking firm action in cooperation with democratic allies and supporting civil society action, the United States can exert leadership and help to build international opposition to the coup. – The Hill  

Jonathan T. Chow and Leif-Eric Easley write: As key US allies and leading Asian democracies, South Korea and Japan should join willing ASEAN partners in issuing a statement demanding the release of civilian leaders, immediate access to Myanmar by international observers, and a commitment from the military to reverse its seizure of power. […]As China will likely block action by the UN Security Council, coordination among regional stakeholders and global democracies will be critical to an international response that places the people of Myanmar, and their self-determination and prosperity, at its center. – Jerusalem Post


Yulia B. Navalnaya, the wife of the Russian opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, knows how to deal with her husband’s frequent detentions at the hands of the Russian authorities. – New York Times

Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, whose return to Russia and jailing triggered the toughest crackdown on peaceful opposition dissent since Soviet times, appeared in court for the second time in a week Friday. – Washington Post

The outcry grew in Russia over the crackdown on peaceful protesters Thursday as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell was set to visit the country under pressure to confront Moscow over the imprisonment of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. – Agence France-Presse

Russian newspapers on Thursday denounced a growing police crackdown on peaceful protesters and the sentencing of a popular news editor to jail for retweeting a joke. – Agence France-Presse

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of Americans detained in Russia during a call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday that also encompassed nuclear arms control and China, a State Department spokesman said. – Reuters

President Joe Biden on Thursday told Russia that the United States would no longer be “rolling over” in the face of aggressive action by Moscow, declaring a new, tough approach by Washington. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made “a huge mistake” in his treatment of dissident Alexei Navalny, according to his French counterpart. – Washington Examiner

The European Union is seeking to reboot relations with Russia after years of confrontation as President Vladimir Putin conducts a sweeping crackdown on protesters over the jailing of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. – Bloomberg

The jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia was widely expected by Russia watchers, but experts say what comes next will likely depend on the momentum of protests in support of Navalny, whether the West decides to punish Russia and how the Kremlin responds to growing unrest in the country. – CNBC

Garry Kasparov writes: Biden was part of the Obama administration, but he wasn’t calling the shots. Now he should establish his own doctrine, a foreign policy based on democratic principles and strategic planning. America remains the only country capable of leading the free world. […]Now the United States and its allies must look inside and examine their principles to break the terrible cycle they helped create in Russia. When that happens, and only when that happens, it will be the end of a very long day. – Washington Post


An American woman who fled Britain under diplomatic immunity weeks after she fatally struck a 19-year-old motorcyclist with her car was employed by the U.S. State Department at the time of the collision, the woman’s lawyer said in court on Wednesday. – New York Times

Britain’s broadcasting regulator said on Thursday that it had withdrawn the license for China Global Television Network, an international news channel owned by a Chinese state broadcaster, to operate in the United Kingdom in part because its affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party violates broadcasting laws. – New York Times

As the European Union’s vaccination program stumbles, Russia and China are poised to fill the gap — with Moscow opening talks to produce vaccines in the heart of Europe and both building political cache as they supply those scrambling for shots on the bloc’s fringes. – Washington Post

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for flexibility and compromise ahead of a fresh bid by the United Nations to heal the decades-old division of Cyprus, a dispute harming ties between Turkey and Greece and energy projects in the eastern Mediterranean. – Reuters

The BBC came under fire from Chinese official and social media on Friday in an escalating diplomatic dispute, a day after Britain’s media regulator revoked the TV licence of Chinese state media outlet CGTN. – Reuters

In the past year the United Kingdom expelled three Chinese spies who were in the country on journalism visas, according to a report by The Telegraph newspaper on Thursday. – Reuters

Just weeks after the UK finally completed its departure from the EU, the topic that dogged more than four years of bitter wrangling over Brexit has reared its head again: the tortured question of the Irish border. – Financial Times

A Dutch Islamist political party has parted ways with a Jewish member whose election candidacy was intended to soften its jihadi image after discovering that she owns a bakery specializing in X-rated cakes for adult parties. – Algemeiner

The Polish ambassador to Israel, Marek Magierowski has rejected criticism of the libel trial underway in his country against two Holocaust historians, defending what he called the plaintiff’s “right to defend the memory of her close relative,” in a letter to the Israeli head of a group that represents survivors. – Haaretz

George Barros and Jennifer Cafarella write: Lukashenko resisted the Kremlin’s efforts to further Russian-Belarusian military integration during the Zapad 2017 exercises. Belarusian officers may attempt to resist intensified Russian pressure for integration in Zapad 2021 as they did in 2017. The alleged deployment to Syria would likely take several of Belarus’ best officers out of Belarus, as the deployment would be Belarus’ first expeditionary deployment. Such a relocation of officers could decrease Belarusian resistance to Russian efforts to maximize Russian-Belarusian military integration during Zapad 2021. – Institute for the Study of War


A former Ugandan rebel who was abducted as a child by the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army and later rose to be a commander of the militia was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity on Thursday at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. – New York Times

A pall of gloom hangs over the house of Adam Omar in a remote village in Sudan’s South Darfur; he has lost seven family members including two sons in recent tribal clashes. – Agence France-Presse

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a call with Ethiopia’s prime minister on Thursday expressed “grave concern” about the crisis in the embattled Tigray region and urged “immediate, full and unhindered humanitarian access to prevent further loss of life,” a U.S. spokesman said. – Associated Press

The Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia was on high alert over the last two months due to fears of a potential Iranian attack, according to a Thursday television report. The Kan News report also said Ethiopian authorities have arrested 16 suspects planning an attack against the United Arab Emirates embassy in the African nation’s capital, Addis Ababa. – Times of Israel

The Americas

A Mexican law has stopped the United States from rapidly turning away migrant families at one of the busiest sections of the southwestern border, forcing agents to resume releasing families into the country, according to three Biden administration officials. – New York Times

Police in Montreal said on Thursday that they were investigating an antisemitic video posted to the TikTok social media platform in which a man opened his kitchen oven to joke about the gassing of Jewish victims of the Nazis during World War II. – Algemeiner

Taiwan on Friday blamed Chinese “bullying” for Guyana’s decision to revoke a deal for the island to open a representative office in the South American country, saying it had tried without success to get Guyana to change its mind. – Reuters

Guyana said on Thursday it had terminated an agreement with Taiwan, just hours after Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said it had signed a deal with the South American country to open a Taiwan Office. – Reuters

United States

President Biden on Thursday issued sharp warnings over developments in Russia and Myanmar and said he would end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and emphasize multilateral agreements and human rights. – Wall Street Journal 

The Senate Intelligence Committee will examine the influence of Russia and other foreign powers on antigovernment extremist groups like the ones that helped mobilize the deadly attack on the Capitol last month, the panel’s new chairman said in an interview this week. – New York Times

In the weeks since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, federal prosecutors have announced criminal charges against more than 175 people — less than a quarter of those involved in the melee, but enough to provide a rough portrait of the mob and the sprawling investigation into its actions. – New York Times

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz placed a hold on President Biden’s Commerce Department secretary nominee after she declined to promise specifically to keep Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a U.S. trade blacklist, he said. – Washington Examiner

Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed Bank of America is spying on its customers who might be extremists in coordination with federal law enforcement. – Washington Examiner

The Washington, D.C., Homeland Security director and terror analysts warned lawmakers Thursday that the threat posed by domestic extremists, manifested last month by the deadly Capitol attack, is likely to persist for more than a decade. – USA Today

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) faces a mountain of complex issues to tackle as the new vice chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security. He’ll have to contend with an emboldened right-wing extremist movement in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a massive Russian hacking attack against the U.S. government and President Joe Biden’s efforts to roll back his predecessor’s far-reaching changes to the U.S. immigration system. – Jewish Insider

Editorial: In the meantime, it’s time for our troops to go home. The city can work out a plan with National Guard officials to make sure reinforcements are sent quickly should a credible threat appear. Until then, the troops should be dispersed, the fences should come down, and Washington should get back to its business instead of acting like it’s a city under siege. – Washington Examiner

Thomas Graham and Robert Legvold write: As the United States seeks to coordinate its Russia and China policies, care should be taken to avoid distortions and hyperbole in characterizing Russian and Chinese behavior and the threat the two countries represent, separately or in tandem. The challenge they pose to the United States and our allies is real and should not be minimized; but neither should it be inflated out of proportion and in ways precluding any realistic prospect of three-way cooperation on issues where it is feasible and necessary. – Politico


Instagram is coordinating with other social media platforms, including Twitter and TikTok, to ban users who have been involved in stealing hundreds of single-word user names. – New York Times

Social media companies have ushered in a new era of political violence in Western democracies, according to French President Emmanuel Macron, who says he will not drop his ire just because they silenced former President Donald Trump. – Washington Examiner

A significant privacy bill will be on Congress’s agenda during the next two years, with privacy-focused Democrats holding thin majorities in both the House and the Senate. – Washington Examiner

President Biden said Thursday that his administration is launching an “urgent initiative” to improve the nation’s cybersecurity, pointing to concerns around malign efforts by Russia and China. – The Hill

The former US government cyber security chief has called for the military to target organised criminal gangs of hackers who launch ransomware attacks on companies and governments. – Financial Times

Election technology company Smartmatic filed a massive lawsuit Thursday against Fox News, saying the network and some of its biggest on-air personalities made it into a villain and perpetuated false claims about the recent election. – NPR

James Van de Velde writes: In the traditional physical domains, causing actual, functional denial, no matter how severe or how minor, is a consequence of the use of arms: It is fires. Continuing to call such fires in cyberspace not an attack is confusing, unhelpful, and is of no long-term benefit to the U.S. militarily or politically. – C4ISRNET


Gov. Jared Polis is urging the Biden administration to keep the headquarters of two key U.S. government agencies in Colorado, arguing the U.S. Space Command and the Bureau of Land Management serve the nation’s interests better if they stay where they are. – Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reads the same intelligence briefing every morning as President Biden, including threat assessments related to extremists and the U.S. Capitol — and he believes the National Guard should stay on duty there. – Washington Examiner

If the first year of the U.S. Space Force’s existence was focused inwardly on organizing the new service, its second year will center on building relationships — not only with the other services, but with international partners. – C4ISRNET

The three-ship Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, the 2,500 Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters have taken position in U.S. 5th Fleet in the North Arabian sea and are an easy sail to the Strait of Hormuz, USNI News has learned. – USNI News

Tom Rogan writes: Regardless, Space Command should not be based out of Redstone. It should be kept where it is right now: at Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base. […]Perhaps Raymond disagrees with this analysis. In that case, he should say so to the White House. But the general should at least take up Psaki’s invitation for a face-to-face meeting with Biden and his officials. – Washington Examiner

Long War

The leader of Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate has been under arrest for several months, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

A trial in Algeria over the murder of French mountaineer Herve Gourdel by jihadists in 2014 was postponed Thursday due to the prime suspect’s ill health, judicial sources said. – Agence France-Presse

President Biden, similar to former President Barack Obama 12 years ago, is hoping to close the military prison for terror suspects and enemy combatants at the United States Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. But unlike Obama, he’s not making it a day-one priority. – Washington Examiner