Fdd's overnight brief

February 7, 2022

In The News


The Biden administration is waiving sanctions on some of Iran’s civilian nuclear activities as it seeks to close a deal with Iran on returning to the 2015 nuclear pact. The U.S. will once again allow foreign companies and officials to work on certain nonweapons Iranian nuclear facilities, reversing a Trump administration decision in 2020 to sanction that work, which froze this activity, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. – Wall Street Journal 

US steps on lifting sanctions are “good but not enough”, Iran said Saturday, following Washington’s announcement it was waiving sanctions on Iran’s civil nuclear programme. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran on Sunday put on trial the alleged leader of a US-based “terrorist group” accused of being behind a deadly mosque bombing in 2008, the judiciary said. Iran-born Jamshid Sharmahd, 66, who is also a German national and a US resident, is charged with spreading “corruption on earth”, one of the most severe charges in the Islamic republic, and which carries the death penalty. – Agence France-Presse 

In 2015, Iran reached a historic deal with six world powers to trade curbs on its nuclear programme for sanctions relief, including on oil. But in 2018, the United States under Donald Trump’s presidency quit the deal, and sanctions snapped back. – Reuters 

Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani said on Saturday that it has a right to continue nuclear research and development that cannot be curbed by any agreement. – Reuters 

The Iran nuclear deal that world powers are negotiating in Vienna will make it harder to stave off a nuclear Iran, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. – Jerusalem Post 

The Aban Tribunal, the people’s tribunal probing into the Iranian regime’s killings of protesters and human rights violations during the November 2019 protests, has charged 160 Islamic Republic officials with “committing crimes against humanity”. – Iran International 

Editorial: It’s egregious that all this is happening as Iran continues to spread terror in the region (see the Houthis) and stonewall international nuclear inspectors. Washington has held off on censuring Tehran at the International Atomic Energy Agency, fearful that a rebuke at the organization’s Board of Governors will cause the Iranians to walk. But if Iran won’t allow outsiders to fully verify its nuclear activity, what good is a deal that claims to limit nuclear activity? – Wall Street Journal 

Bobby Ghosh writes: The only reason the Islamic Republic has a nuclear program at all is to menace its neighbors and blackmail the wider world into giving the theocrats of Tehran what they want: money, from unrestricted oil and gas exports as well as access to frozen assets abroad; and power, which comes from using the money to acquire weapons and finance terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. Biden may think his sanctions waivers will persuade the Iranians to back off their nuclear ambitions. But the message they will receive is just the opposite. – Bloomberg 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: Over the weekend, the US seemed to make stunning news, giving Iran a sanctions waiver even though Iran is still refusing, so far, to return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal’s limits. […]Signs of an imminent full or partial deal would involve sanctions waivers to countries such as China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and South Korea. These were eight countries to which even the Trump administration granted exemptions from sanctions between May 2018 and May 2019. This still has not happened. But it could be tomorrow’s news very soon. – Jerusalem Post 

Peter Berkowitz writes: The Biden administration has a short time left to learn the larger lesson of Tom Cotton’s letter: Toothless, legally nonbinding agreements with Iran invite aggression, endanger friends and partners, and undermine international order. – Real Clear Politics 


At the Indira Gandhi hospital, and in faltering hospitals across Afghanistan, famished children arrive by car and taxi and ambulance every day and night. Acute malnutrition is just one of a cascade of maladies that threaten to topple the country’s fragile health system. – New York Times 

A single Islamic State suicide bomber carried out the attack at Kabul’s international airport in August that killed 13 U.S. troops and as many as 170 civilians, and was not joined by accomplices firing into the crowd, according to a Pentagon report released on Friday. – New York Times 

The Biden administration plans to expedite processing of at-risk Afghans it continues to evacuate to Qatar, allowing many of them to enter the United States as refugees or special visa holders with a clear path to citizenship, administration officials said. – Washington Post 

Editorial: The good news about some 80,000 Afghans airlifted to the United States after the fall of Kabul last August is that roughly 90 percent have been moved off military bases and resettled in American communities, with the help of some $13 billion in government spending. […]The bad news is that tens of thousands of those refugees have no legal way to remain long term in the United States, which many of them served — and for which some risked their lives. Congress can solve that problem, but prospects that it will remain uncertain. – Washington Post 

Alice Hickson writes: The UN Human Rights Commission must also begin to investigate the killing of Hazaras as genocide or as a crime against humanity. Publicizing the situation of the Hazara people would hopefully lead to international reckoning and urgency to help the situation before it becomes worse. The United States needs to take early preventative measures given these warning signs so the administration is not complacent in genocide as it has been in the past. – Global Security Review 


Child detainees at a prison in northeast Syria that was attacked by ISIS two weeks ago are injured, hungry and thirsty, according to the first international aid worker to see them since the siege. – New York Times 

Peter W. Galbraith writes: Once the Kurds have established the alternate arrangements for the children, countries must move promptly to repatriate their child citizens. And there is every reason to think they will. Unlike the adults, children are not seen as dangerous. […]It’s clearly not in any child’s best interest to be surrounded by terrorist ideology or face a lifetime in prison, having committed no crime. – New York Times 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: In short, these two ISIS leaders lived as close as possible to Turkey’s key border crossing with Syria, without actually moving to Turkey. If they had lived any close they would have had to cross the border. And this is an active border crossing where extremist groups have received assistance in the past. […]That the new leader of ISIS who came on the scene after Baghdadi’s demise choose to live close to where the US found Baghdadi, showed he was not concerned. Now he is dead and it is unclear if more ISIS leaders will be found in this area, or if they will transit the border or through Afrin and Idlib to some other area. – Jerusalem Post 


Kataib Hezbollah, which is an Iranian-backed group in Iraq, reportedly threatened Turkish forces in Iraq over the weekend. Turkey has numerous outposts and bases in northern Iraq and Ankara often carried out airstrikes against Yazidi minorities in Sinjar. – Jerusalem Post 

President Isaac Herzog spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday evening, ahead of a possible meeting between the two leaders, in the latest sign of the warming relations between the countries. – Times of Israel 

NATO member Turkey and its Black Sea ally Ukraine have agreed to coproduce an increasingly popular Turkish-made drone at a production site in Ukraine. – Defense News 


The embattled leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization held a rare meeting Sunday to fill key roles that could hint at a favoured successor for 86-year-old Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. – Agence France-Presse 

U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett he looks forward to visiting Israel in 2022 during a call that included discussion of the threat posed by Iran and its proxies, the White House said in a statement. – Bloomberg 

Israel’s prime minister on Sunday congratulated President Joe Biden for last week’s deadly raid in Syria that killed the leader of the Islamic State group, the Israeli premier’s office announced. – Associated Press 

The public corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue despite the revelations of the ongoing police spying scandal, judges at the  Jerusalem District Court ruled on Monday morning. – Jerusalem Post 

US President Joe Biden emphasized his administration’s “full support” for replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome system in his call with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the White House said in a statement on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post 

A delegation of parliament members of the United Arab Emirates will come to the Knesset in an unprecedented visit on Monday. – Jerusalem Post  

The United Kingdom dismissed Amnesty International’s claim that Israel is an apartheid state but warned that it must uphold international law and Palestinian human rights. – Jerusalem Post 

For the past week, Palestinians from Gaza have been participating in a series of social media events criticizing Hamas rule in the Strip, voicing concerns rarely expressed in the repressive enclave. – Times of Israel 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a rare gathering of the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership on Sunday night that recent meetings between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials served Palestinian interests but were not a substitute for the peace process. – Times of Israel 

Elliot Kaufman writes: Amnesty International and a dozen U.N. bodies would love nothing more than to preside as arbiters in this latest trial of the Jews. We are lucky that they have no power to compel Israel’s participation. But if the apartheid charge were to stick, rallying an international boycott and authorizing renewed armed resistance, who’s to say the Jews couldn’t be paraded into court one more time? – Wall Street Journal 

Kenneth Jacobson writes: In a world where criticism of the State of Israel and its policies is hardly unusual, the newly issued Amnesty International report stands out for its offensiveness and destructiveness. – Times of Israel 


Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued an administrative seizure order on Sunday against three Lebanese companies for allegedly providing raw materials to Hezbollah for its precision missile project. – Jerusalem Post 

Hezbollah’s Nabil Qaouk, a member of the group’s executive council, said that a “Saudi-Zionist” plan is forming against Lebanon and that it is opposed to the true “Arabism” of the pro-Iranian resistance in Lebanon. This is the usual Iranian and Hezbollah talking point, but it also reveals the obsession that Iran and its proxies have with the Gulf and the current ties that are growing between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE. – Jerusalem Post 

Lebanon has received letters from French and Luxembourg authorities asking for information relating to Lebanon Central Bank Chief Riad Salameh’s bank accounts and assets, two Lebanese judicial sources told Reuters. – Reuters 

Arabian Peninsula

Israel and the United Arab Emirates are accelerating their security and intelligence cooperation efforts in the wake of a series of attacks on Abu Dhabi by Tehran-backed militants in Yemen that have triggered new concerns about the threat posed by Iran and its allies – Wall Street Journal 

Morgan L. Kaplan writes: There is no doubt that the United States can and should recalibrate its approach to the Middle East, both to advance American interests in the region and to ensure that American’s focus on great-power crises in Asia and Europe are not disrupted. But, without a clear understanding of what America hopes to achieve in the region and how it intends to go about doing so, both America’s allies and adversaries are likely to challenge and probe the limits of American support in potentially dangerous ways. – War on the Rocks 

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator for war-torn Yemen said he held constructive talks with government officials and Huthi rebels over dealing with the threat posed by a rusting oil tanker abandoned offshore. – Agence France-Presse 

Saudi Arabia

A panel composed of the major U.S. national security agencies on Friday recommended the transfer of another detainee from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on the condition that he be repatriated to his native Saudi Arabia for participation in an extremist rehabilitation program. – Washington Post 

A new proposal from Democratic lawmakers would bar U.S. firms from providing maintenance support to Saudi Arabia’s air force, an attempt to impose new limits on American involvement in the Gulf kingdom’s long war in Yemen. – Washington Post 

As Houthi rebels step up their long-range assault on both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the latter is quietly progressing on its own ballistic missile program, according to analysts. – Breaking Defense 

Gulf States

The head of U.S. Central Command arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to build on recent measures announced by the Pentagon to help reinforce the UAE’s defenses after attacks by Iranian-affiliated rebels in Yemen – Washington Post 

Iraq’s Supreme Court said Sunday it had temporarily suspended Hoshyar Zebari, a frontrunner for the presidency, on the eve of parliament’s vote on the position, citing years-old corruption charges against him. – Agence France-Presse 

Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai landed in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, becoming the first Israeli police commissioner to visit the UAE. – Jerusalem Post 

As rocket and drone attacks against the United Arab Emirates have increased, talks are underway between Israel and several Persian Gulf states to understand which air-defense systems are most relevant for the threats they face. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisian President Kais Saied has dissolved a major independent judicial watchdog, he said Sunday, accusing it of bias and working for special interests. – Agence France-Presse 

China and Egypt “share similar visions and strategies in defending their own interests,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Saturday in a meeting with Egypt’s authoritarian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. – Associated Press  

U.N. experts say rebel groups in Darfur that signed a peace agreement with the Sudanese government in 2020 continue to operate in Libya and profit from opportunities provided by the civil war and lack of government control in the oil-rich north African nation. – Associated Press 

The Biden administration said Thursday it has cleared a possible sale of as many as 16 F-16 fighters and related equipment to Jordan worth up to $4.21 billion. – Defense News 

Korean Peninsula

The U.S. special representative for North Korea will meet with Japanese and South Korean officials later this week, the U.S. State Department said on Sunday, following a series of ballistic missile tests U.S. officials said Pyongyang launched last month. – Reuters 

North Korea continued to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs during the past year and cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges were an important revenue source for Pyongyang, according to an excerpt of a confidential United Nations report seen on Saturday by Reuters. – Reuters 

The key to solving the issue of North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs is in the United States’ hands, China’s U.N. envoy said on Friday, urging Washington to show “more sincerity and flexibility” if it wants a breakthrough. – Reuters   

As Kim Jong Un unleashed his biggest-ever barrage of missile tests last month, one place suffered the most: a barren piles of rocks whose name means “No Man’s Land.” – Bloomberg 

Of all the missile systems tested in recent weeks, it is the development of a new generation of manoeuvrable weapons designed to evade missile defence systems that has most intrigued defence experts. – Financial Times  

Andrew Yeo writes: With the United States and NATO tangling with Russia over Ukraine, and China hosting the Winter Olympics in Beijing, North Korea may not be an immediate priority for any of the great powers. But, as the past few weeks have demonstrated, the North Korean nuisance will not take care of itself. – Washington Post 

Lindsay Lloyd writes: Nominating a special envoy on North Korean human rights is an important step toward fulfilling that inaugural promise — as well as living up to our principles — and the president should quickly send a nominee to the Senate for an equally quick confirmation. Having a special envoy in place can help pressure the North Korean regime, promote U.S. strategic objectives, as well as provide a source of hope to the North Korean people. – The Hill 


“Zero Tolerance,” a five-part documentary series aired on national television and streaming sites in January, lined up fallen Communist Party members who walked the audience through their own allegedly sinful pasts—tales of bribery and other corrupt dealings with companies including CEFC China Energy Co., China Development Bank Corp. and, by inference, Ant Group Co. […]It hammered home the message that the government continues to target state officials who help private enterprises rise and get rich. – Wall Street Journal 

After months of uncertainty and tension, China kicked off one of the most unusual Olympic Games in history with an opening-ceremony spectacle punctuated by what appeared to be a defiant jab at the U.S. and its allies that have challenged the country’s human-rights record. – Wall Street Journal 

The House’s passage Friday of a bill aimed at making the United States more economically competitive with China sets up potentially tricky negotiations with Senate Republicans as the Biden administration hopes to quickly strike a bipartisan deal over spending to boost the nation’s manufacturing and research capabilities. – Washington Post 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discouraged Olympic athletes from protesting at the opening ceremony in Beijing on Thursday, saying that it wasn’t worth the risk of reprisal from a “ruthless” Chinese government. – New York Times 

China explicitly backs Russia to “oppose further enlargement of NATO,” a reference to Ukraine’s efforts to join the alliance. China also echoed Putin’s earlier demands for “long-term legally binding security guarantees in Europe.” – Washington Post 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told leaders in Beijing he expects them to allow UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to make a “credible” visit to China including a stop in the troubled Xinjiang region, his spokesman said Saturday. – Agence France-Presse 

National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday warned that there could be costs for China, too, if the country is seen as backing a Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Politico  

Chinese President Xi Jinping met the leaders of several more countries on Saturday as Beijing used the start of the Winter Olympics to score diplomatic points amid simmering tensions with the United States. – Reuters 

China criticized U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to extend tariffs on imported solar equipment, saying the act will “distort” international trades of the renewable energy product. – Bloomberg 

Nina Shea writes: American policy-makers show new willingness to recognize CCP repression. They should clearly condemn this persecution against Falun Gong and declare it a genocide. Had this been done earlier, the Uyghur genocide might never have happened. Notwithstanding, the Beijing Olympics gives warrant to special scrutiny of this horrifying and continuing chapter of the CCP’s human-rights record. – National Review 

South Asia

The editor of a news website has been arrested in Kashmir, in what critics called the latest example of a wave of harassment of journalists by the authorities in the troubled region. – New York Times 

Pakistani troops have put an end to four days of assaults by separatists in Balochistan province, the army said Saturday, putting the final death toll at 20 militants and nine soldiers. – Agence France-Presse 

Militants firing from inside Afghanistan killed at least five Pakistani soldiers at a border post in northwestern Kurram district on Sunday, the Pakistan military said, the second such attack since Taliban militants took over Kabul in August. – Reuters 


With Russia massing troops along Ukraine’s borders, President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan felt compelled to act. She ordered the creation of a task force to study how the confrontation thousands of miles away in Europe could affect Taiwan’s longstanding conflict with its larger, vastly more powerful neighbor. – New York Times 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will aim with a trip to the Pacific this week to remind the world that Washington’s strategic long-term focus remains with the Asia-Pacific region despite an escalating crisis with Russia over Ukraine. – Reuters  

Taiwan on Saturday condemned as “contemptible” the timing of China and Russia’s “no limits” partnership at the start of the Winter Olympics, saying the Chinese government was bringing shame to the spirit of the Games. – Reuters 


Efforts to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine will intensify this week, as world leaders make a heightened push for a diplomatic solution, even as new U.S. military and intelligence assessments — which estimated Russia could seize Kyiv in days and leave up to 50,000 civilians killed or wounded — suggest that the window for negotiations is closing. – Washington Post 

Senior Biden administration officials told lawmakers this past week that they believed the Russian military had assembled 70 percent of the forces it would need to mount a full invasion of Ukraine, painting the most ominous picture yet of the options that Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, has created for himself in recent weeks. – New York Times 

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is warning that a Russian invasion of Ukraine “could happen at any time” — as US officials said Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has assembled 70 percent of the firepower he needs to launch a full-scale attack. – New York Post 

A fresh round of diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine kicks off on February 7, with French President Emmanuel Macron meeting Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Moscow and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz heading to the United States for talks with President Joe Biden. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Satellite images by a private U.S. company published on Sunday showed details of military maneuvres at the Belarus border with Ukraine ahead of joint drills announced by Moscow and Minsk that NATO has called the biggest deployment to Belarus since the Cold War. – Reuters 

The fate of nuclear arms controls talks between Russia and the United States will to a large extent depend on how the negotiations on Moscow’s security demands progress, a senior Russian diplomat was quoted as saying on Monday. – Reuters 

Serhy Yekelchyk writes: Ukraine’s separate ethnic identity challenges Russia’s very vision of itself as an empire, and Ukraine’s political identity defies Putin’s authoritarian political model. A successful Ukraine next door could serve as an example to the Russians, who are now deprived of all political freedoms in part because the two recent Ukrainian revolutions have scared Putin so much. If the West helps build a democratic and prosperous Ukraine, its very existence can one day bring about a democratic Russia. That is what Putin really fears. And that is why Zelenskyy has no choice but to dust off his history books. – Politico 


Ukraine has become the focus of geopolitical attention in recent weeks as a Russian troop buildup along its borders and a list of demands from the Kremlin have prompted threats of sanctions by the West and military deployment by NATO allies. As attempts to defuse the crisis diplomatically continue, the U.S. said that Russia is planning to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine and that an attack by Moscow would result in significant loss of civilian life. – Wall Street Journal 

Olaf Scholz, the new leader of Germany, heads for Washington on Sunday, facing pressure to embrace U.S.-led efforts to counter Moscow despite Berlin’s reliance on Russian energy supplies and misgivings in parts of Europe about America’s push to bring Ukraine into the trans-Atlantic fold. – Wall Street Journal  

The U.S. and an informal coalition of several NATO countries are operating an air bridge to ship military aid to Ukraine, flying in the weapons and ammunition that Kyiv has requested to mitigate a decided Russian military edge and deter a possible invasion. – Wall Street Journal 

Since the Taliban takeover, Afghans have made the most asylum requests in the European Union, according to the European Asylum Support Office. But even before last year, Afghans consistently made up one of the largest groups seeking asylum from abroad. – New York Times 

Ukraine on Sunday pushed back at “apocalyptic predictions” over a potential Russian invasion, after US officials sounded dire warnings that Moscow had stepped up its preparations for a major incursion. – Agence France-Presse 

With war clouds gathering over Ukraine, international diplomacy goes into overdrive on Monday with the French and Russian presidents to talk in Moscow and the German chancellor heading to the White House to meet with US leader Joe Biden. – Agence France-Presse 

President Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday about Russia’s military buildup along its border with Ukraine. – The Hill 

A plane carrying U.S. troops landed in Poland on Sunday, a Reuters witness said, as Washington reinforces its NATO allies in Eastern Europe amid a Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border.. – Reuters 

Editorial: The best way to prevent another refugee crisis in Europe is to deter Mr. Putin from invading Ukraine. But he may pursue his dream of resurrecting some form of Greater Russia whatever the cost, and the Continent will have to get ready for second-order consequences now. – Wall Street Journal 

Peter Rough writes: Germany’s temptation to watch from the sidelines or, worse, to referee disputes, has grown stronger over time. This is in part because the Biden administration has looked the other way amid Germany’s dalliance with Russia. Mr. Putin’s threats against Ukraine should give even the most besotted Russophile pause. Mr. Biden should make America’s ally choose, starting Monday at the White House. – Wall Street Journal 

Christopher DeMuth writes: If Ukraine’s plight is judged less important than Taiwan’s to the interests of other nations, so be it. But that is no excuse for the disparagement of Ukraine, in some European and American quarters, as less than a “real” nation worthy of our attentions. The Ukrainians’ astonishing defiance in the face of massive military mobilization is an object lesson in the value of the nationalist spirit to international order. It is unmasking Russian ruthlessness while others equivocate, and may itself be a sufficient deterrent unto the day. – Wall Street Journal 

David von Drehle writes: A happy ending for Ukraine may be sitting on the shelves of history. But how much unhappiness must be endured before the eventual solution is a question for Vladimir Putin […]Neutrality would be a good solution for Ukraine, which lies between Russia and the European Union. Its location ensures that the terrain will forever be of interest to both West and East. Putin’s brinkmanship has, unfortunately, foreclosed progress toward a more stable Ukraine. – Washington Post 

James Stavridis writes: No one wants to see an invasion of Ukraine, and we should all hope diplomacy and common sense will prevail. And if Putin chooses to unleash his forces, it’s likely they will be limited to the southeast of the country. But combat has a way of getting out of control, of climbing the ladder of escalation. If Russian tanks roll across the Dnieper River to the capital, Ukrainians will fight — and a powerful resistance movement may be the best hope. The West should preparing now to help. – Bloomberg 


The militia group everyone calls CODECO — the Cooperative for Development of Congo — was responsible for Tuesday’s assault, according to the government. It was one of the worst recent attacks, but the violence has escalated since May when the government declared martial law in the region: More than 800 deaths were recorded in Ituri in the last six months of 2021, according to Kivu Security Tracker, a human rights project. – New York Times 

Four people were hurt when a bomb exploded at a busy market in the city of Beni in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, police said, days after the U.S. embassy in the capital Kinshasa warned of a possible attack. – Reuters 

Clashes between military forces and armed groups at the facilities of a former international peace-keeping mission in Sudan’s Darfur region left an unknown number of people dead and injured on Saturday, a military statement said. – Reuters 

Leaders gathered at an African Union (AU) summit called on Saturday for the continent to have a bigger role on the international stage amid signs the bloc is struggling to forge a coordinated response to challenges from coups to COVID-19. – Reuters 

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Sunday she was “very sceptical” that the country could maintain its troops in Mali amid growing tension between the West African country and its international partners. – Reuters 

The European Union on Friday imposed sanctions on five senior members of Mali’s transitional government, including Prime Minister Choguel Maiga, accusing them of working to obstruct and undermine the transition from military to civilian rule. – Associated Press 

Latin America

A powerful Haitian opposition group is demanding the United States withdraw its support for the government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry in Haiti, saying the administration’s legitimacy is tarnished by delayed elections and Mr. Henry’s potential connection to the assassination of the country’s president. – New York Times 

China and Argentina pledged on Sunday to deepen strategic cooperation on trade, currency and the infrastructure-focused Belt and Road Initiative, the government and state media said after a meeting of presidents Xi Jinping and Alberto Fernandez. – Reuters 

Costa Ricans voted for a new president Sunday from a crowded field of candidates, with no clear favorite to tackle a worsening economy in one of Latin America’s stablest democracies. – Agence France-Presse 

Sharon Nazarian writes: While Iran’s desire for nuclear capability poses a grave and existential threat to Israel, the Middle East and beyond, the regime’s terrorist activities must also be of grave concern to countries and governments across Latin America. The Iranian regime has a long history of carrying out terror attacks in the Middle East and around the globe, often through its proxy Hezbollah. – Times of Israel 

United States

With the threat of war hanging over Europe and rising tensions in the standoff with Russia over Ukraine, Mr. Scholz is headed to Washington on Monday for his first meeting with President Biden since taking over as chancellor in December. Foremost on his agenda: Show the world that Berlin is committed to the Western alliance — and, well, show his face. – New York Times 

Elaine McCusker and Emily Coletta write: Solving this barrier by redefining national security, and therefore what belongs in the DoD budget, to focus on military capability should be a U.S. priority. Removing lower priority expenses or transitioning their funding to another, more appropriate department or agency will result in a real sense of what defense costs and make room in the budget for military readiness, modernization, and operations, including those critical to Taiwan efforts. – The National Interest 


Alphabet Inc.’s Google is being sued by Nordic price comparison provider PriceRunner AB for about 22 billion kronor ($2.4 billion) at Sweden’s patent and market court. – Bloomberg 

The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) announced Friday that it had detected irregular activity on one of its online systems last month and that the personal data of professional licensees may have been breached. – The Hill 

Shlomo Kramer writes: The challenges we face may be immense, ranging from hackers launching ransomware attacks to bellicose nations contemplating cyber assaults on infrastructure, but the same ingenuity that built the cyber industry is flourishing. With new technologies and ideas already at work in the industry, we’re likely to see a golden age of digital transformation that is focused on those most vulnerable to attacks and most desperate for affordable solutions. – Wall Street Journal 

James Andrew Lewis writes: Kremlin strategists are not as risk averse as the United States and have developed concepts on how to use cyber tools for coercive effect. They have more than 15 years of experience in using these tools. While they could disrupt U.S. critical infrastructure, they have chosen not to do so. The most successful Russian use of cyber tools against the United States has been in creating false narratives that heighten political turmoil in the United States and Europe (this also explains Russia’s clumsy diplomatic pronouncements intended to increase public pressure on Western governments). – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


The U.S. Missile Defense Agency needs to improve its cost estimates for missile defense programs and flight tests, the Government Accountability Office said in a Feb. 2 report. – Defense News 

As the Defense Department looks for ways to up its hypersonics game, it needs to refocus its priorities towards protecting ships, air bases and other critical tactical assets from Chinese and Russian cruise missiles and glide vehicles, asserts a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). – Breaking Defense 

Congress this week will take a closer look at military policies regarding remote air strikes against foreign enemies, amid criticism from outside groups that the Defense Department hasn’t done enough to limit civilian casualties. – Military Times 

Long War

When U.S. special-operations forces touched down in northwest Syria early Thursday in a raid that would bring about the death of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, they entered an area they were familiar with. […]Idlib province in northwestern Syria has emerged as a haven for senior Islamic State leaders after the group lost most of its territory in 2017. – Wall Street Journal 

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for freeing about 20 prisoners during an attack in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province this week, according to a statement published on Friday by the SITE Intelligence Group. – Reuters 

Sean D. Carberry writes: United Nations efforts to broker a political resolution have gone nowhere. Arab countries have begun to normalize relations with Assad. The Biden administration has rightly dialed back ambitions in Syria to focus on core U.S. interests — contain the ISIS threat and minimize human suffering. The death of another ISIS leader is a symbolic victory, but there are many more actions needed to stabilize Syria over the long run. Getting the population of foreign fighters, supporters and families out of eastern Syria is an achievable step that goes a long way to further U.S. interests. Start there. – The Hill