Fdd's overnight brief

February 8, 2021

In The News


United Nations inspectors have found new evidence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, according to three diplomats briefed on the discovery, raising new questions about the scope of the country’s atomic ambitions. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden said the U.S. won’t make the first move to restart negotiations with Tehran over the 2015 nuclear accord, indicating he would only lift sanctions if Iran stops enriching uranium beyond the limits of the nuclear deal. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s foreign minister said on Sunday that the U.S. has to take the first steps to restore the nuclear deal as President Biden faces growing pressure to determine whether the U.S. will return to the agreement. – The Hill

Iran on Saturday praised the Biden administration’s decision to halt support for offensive operations in Yemen while pressuring it to return to the Obama-era nuclear deal.  – The Hill

Iran will kick off its coronavirus vaccination campaign within a week, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday, after the country received its first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V jab. – Agence France-Presse

Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday urged the United States to lift all sanctions if it wants Iran to live up to commitments under its nuclear deal with world powers, state TV reported, but President Joe Biden says the U.S. won’t be making the first move. – Associated Press

The United Nations special envoy for Yemen arrived on his first visit to Iran Sunday for talks on the grinding war in the Arab world’s poorest country, Iranian state TV reported. – Associated Press

France’s foreign minister said on Friday he held in-depth talks with his American, British and German counterparts on Iran and how to handle nuclear and regional security challenges. – Reuters

Iran said it knew nothing about a cargo of oil that the U.S. is trying to seize and which Washington claims was exported covertly by the Islamic Republic. – Bloomberg

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard used a jailed British-Australian academic in an attempt to lure her Israeli husband to Tehran, the Australian Herald Sun reported Sunday. – Times of Israel

Tom Rogan writes: This is not to say that the Biden administration’s Iran policy is perfect. In return for U.S. sanctions relief, the administration should also be demanding that Iran accept new restrictions on its ballistic missile activity and improvements to the 2015 agreement’s inspection protocols. Iran’s ballistic missile program is singularly designed to give the Islamic Republic means of launching a nuclear first strike. We also now know that Iran has continued to conduct nuclear weapons research since 2015. – Washington Examiner

A. Savyon writes: The first signs of Iran’s striving for these goals can be identified in Expediency Council officials’ statements openly supportive of lifting the ban on nuclear weapons in Khamenei’s (nonexistent) fatwa, and of Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Their statements can be explained as the Iranian leadership’s unique method in the nuclear race; Iran is trying to achieve open international legitimacy for its ability to attain nuclear weapons and justifying this with the pretext of achieving regional stability. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Nik Kowsar writes: As a result, many experts now see the IRGC as an environmental menace willing to destroy Iran’s water resources just to line its own pockets. The government currently owes more than a billion dollars to Khatam al-Anbiya, while the former head of Sepasad, who oversaw the completion of the ill-fated Gotvand dam, is now considering a run for president. While he might have money and the support of the powerful, the outcome of the election may be in question if more voters find out about his disastrous track record and history of environmental mismanagement. – Middle East Institute


Opposition legislators in Turkey are accusing Ankara’s leaders of secretly selling out Uighurs to China in exchange for coronavirus vaccines. Tens of millions of vials of promised Chinese vaccines have not yet been delivered. Meanwhile, in recent months, Turkish police have raided and detained around 50 Uighurs in deportation centers, lawyers say — a sharp uptick from last year. – Associated Press

Having accrued broad executive power through a 2017 rewrite of Turkey’s constitution, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is promising to have another swing at the country’s basic laws. – Bloomberg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is looking for a new feud, initiating a diplomatic skirmish with President Biden that could portend additional tensions within NATO as U.S. and European allies confront the wayward leader. – Washington Examiner


Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday angrily rejected an International Criminal Court’s ruling that paves the way for a war crimes probe into the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, condemning it as “pure anti-Semitism”. – Agence France-Presse

Many Palestinians see a ruling by the International Criminal Court that it has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories as a belated chance of justice for victims of Israeli attacks. – Reuters

Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) on Saturday wrote to President Biden urging him to publicly confirm that he will keep the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem after the Senate overwhelmingly signaled support for the location last week. – The Hill

Israeli think tank the Center for Near East Policy Research has found in a recent report that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), following the normalization agreement with Israel, has dramatically reduced funding of the aid agency the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). – Jerusalem Post

Border Police and IDF soldiers arrested five Palestinians suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails and stones on Sunday night. – Jerusalem Post

A Palestinian suspected of terrorism was shot by Border Police after he attempted to run away during an arrest operation in Jenin in the northern West Bank on Sunday night. – Jerusalem Post

An arms deal worth billions of dollars between the Defense Ministry and the United States for new fighter jets, tankers and helicopters received preliminary approval on Sunday by the security cabinet. – Jerusalem Post

The International Criminal Court is in line with antisemitic organizations in its ruling that Israel may be investigated for war crimes, Israel’s Security Cabinet said on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

US Vice President Kamala Harris signed a letter last year, when she was a senator, calling the International Criminal Court’s intentions toward Israel “dangerous” and stating that “the US should stand in full force” against them. – Jerusalem Post

A senior Hamas official warned on Saturday that the dispute between his movement and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction remains substantial. – Jerusalem Post

One of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ possible successors went on an antisemitic rant on his Facebook page, equating Israel to the Nazis and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler. – Algemeiner

Senior Palestinian officials arrived in Cairo on Sunday to discuss how the first Palestinian national elections in 15 years would be conducted. – Times of Israel

Hundreds of senior Israeli security officials, past and present, are expected to be called in for briefings following a decision by the International Criminal Court in The Hague that allows investigations of alleged war crimes by Israel to proceed, fearing they may be arrested abroad. – Haaretz

The U.S. Department of State said Friday night that it objects to the International Criminal Court in The Hague’s decision earlier that day to open legal proceedings against Israel and Hamas on suspicion of committing war crimes in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. – Haaretz

Editorial: Israel will need to fight this decision and take steps to protect its soldiers, officers and members of government who could be associated with the settlement enterprise. It will need to work closely with the United States and allies in Europe to alienate the court and show that its ridiculous ruling will not prevail. – Jerusalem Post

Steve Clemons writes: It will be tough for Abbas to erase the stain of clinging to power for more than a decade after his mandate — but he can play a role now in retiring constructively and encouraging a new raft of Palestine’s potential leaders to come forward. – The Hill

R. David Harden writes: The Israel-Palestine conflict has been the death knell of big ideas, including the notion that America is the indispensable peacemaker. Yet, the Biden administration remains committed to a mutual settlement between the parties. Given the extraordinary challenges America now faces at home, every tax dollar spent on Israel and Palestine has to produce meaningful results. Without this discipline and accountability, America would be better off buying more meals for its poorest children. – The Hill

Lahav Harkov writes: Those who think the lack of phone call is indicative of some kind of crisis may want to consider whether it is in Israel’s interest to always be at the center of attention. Israelis often inveigh against double-standards when every move the government or military makes is turned over and picked at constantly by the international community. A little peace and quiet from Washington could do us good. America – or at least its leadership – is touting a return to normalcy. Israel might benefit from being treated like a normal American ally, as well. – Jerusalem Post

Naif Abo Sharkeia and Dan Rothem write: Understandably preoccupied with major domestic and global affairs, and contrary to common wisdom, the incoming Biden administration can achieve significant goals in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. To do so, its policies should decrease regional tensions and build an inclusive Israeli-Palestinian process that includes potent stakeholders, even ones traditionally hostile to a two-state paradigm. – Jerusalem Post

Alan Baker writes: Sadly, and regrettably, this decision not only irreparably harms the integrity and credibility of the ICC, but it also has the potential to undermine and derail the Middle East peace negotiating process, since the Court, at the behest of its prosecutor, is attempting to prejudge the outcome of that process, contrary to all historic and legal logic. – Times of Israel

Alex Fishman writes: A missile was also fired at IDF drone last November, but this time Israel confirmed the Lebanese reports of the shooting, as it took place in broad daylight and was recorded. And thus on one clear day, without warning and on the eve of an election and all that that implies, Israel might easily have found itself – just as it did in 2006 – in the throes of an armed conflict in the north. – Ynet


On Saturday, the remains of 103 victims, members of the Yazidi ethnic minority group, were returned to the village where, seven years earlier, ISIS rounded up and shot them, dumping their bodies into mass graves. The massacre became synonymous with the group’s campaign of genocide against the small religious minority. – New York Times

Abu Arkan Ibrahim picked up a rifle and joined the Iraqi insurgency against U.S. troops when they occupied his hometown of Fallujah in 2003. He was badly burned in the fighting. Now, he fears the departure of the Americans he once battled. – Reuters

Michael Knights and Hamdi Malik write: The Biden administration’s most immediate priority with the Atabat should be to proactively salve the hurt feelings caused by the March 13, 2020, Karbala airstrike. This could include privately paying some of the compensation requested by the Imam Hussein Shrine Foundation, or providing in-kind medical support and reconstruction. Either gesture could convince the foundation to shelve its lawsuit threat and avoid setting a problematic legal precedent. To support such efforts, the administration should consider paying diplomatic visits to Karbala to retain the goodwill of Sistani and the Atabat. – Washington Institute

Arabian Peninsula

In a single day this week, the United States’ involvement in Yemen’s catastrophic six-year-long war pivoted. On Thursday, President Biden ended the remnants of U.S. support for a Saudi-led coalition’s offensive operations in the conflict, pledged to intensify diplomatic efforts to halt the fighting and named a highly regarded new special envoy to the country. – Washington Post

The Biden administration has formally notified Congress that it will remove Yemen’s Houthi rebels from the U.S. government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, according to a State Department official, reversing an 11th-hour Trump administration decision that aid groups said would worsen the dire humanitarian situation in the country. – Washington Post

The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Sunday it had intercepted and destroyed four armed drones launched by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement towards southern Saudi Arabia. – Reuters

Yemen’s warring factions declared their readiness to act after US President Joe Biden called for renewed efforts to end their conflict, but experts said Friday that a real solution appears out of reach. – Agence France-Presse

The Biden administration on Sunday warned Yemen’s Houthi rebels against ongoing attacks against civilians just 48 hours after moving to strike the group from a terrorism blacklist. – Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Friday discussed issues ranging from regional security to human rights and the war in Yemen, the State Department said on Saturday. – Reuters

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The flip-flop of calling Houthis “terrorists” one week and then not the next will make many groups assume that all they need to do is wait for a new administration in Washington to get their enemies labeled “terrorists.” Turkey has played this game with Washington already; other states will likely learn the trade. – Jerusalem Post

Simon Henderson writes: As yet, the Gulf countries have not responded publicly to this change in the diplomatic atmosphere. When the calls start coming from the secretary’s office, an added challenge for Foggy Bottom will be to get the order right. It will be a spectator sport. Despite the end of the intra-Gulf rift with Qatar, rivalries remain. It might have been a dispute within the Gulf family, but domestic disputes often linger and can be violent. – The Hill


Libya’s two main warring factions elected a new transitional government at a United Nations-organized summit, taking a tentative step toward political unity after years of conflict that have devastated the North African country. – Wall Street Journal

France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States welcomed an agreement to form a new interim government for Libya on Friday, saying a “long road still lies ahead”. – Reuters

Libya’s parallel eastern administration welcomed Friday’s announcement of a new interim government to unite the country, but added it would only cede power if the eastern-based parliament approved. – Reuters

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has given his support to a transitional government that would lead neighboring Libya through elections late this year. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

Thousands of protesters backed by Tunisia’s powerful labour union gathered in central Tunis on Saturday in the country’s biggest demonstration for years, defying a police lockdown that blocked roads in a large area of the capital. – Reuters

Egypt has freed a journalist for Qatar’s Al Jazeera, a security source said Friday, after four years in jail without trial following the end last month of a rift between the two Arab states. – Agence France-Presse

Around a hundred activists rallied in downtown Beirut on Saturday to protest the killing of prominent Hezbollah critic Lokman Slim and to demand a transparent investigation. – Reuters

Palestinian officials are welcoming the election of President Joe Biden as a potential opportunity to negotiate with Israel on friendlier terms. But they are ultimately looking beyond the United States for international support—with an emphasis on China. – Newsweek

The Russian military has recently launched excavations in a Syrian cemetery at the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus in search of the remains of IDF soldiers who went missing during the First Lebanon War in 1982, Israeli news reported, citing Syrian media. – Jerusalem Post

Zine Labidine Ghebouli writes: Looking forward, the upcoming legislative elections in Algeria may serve as a good start for a genuine democratization process. With the initiation of such a process, yet to be scheduled, Algeria could hopefully enact necessary reforms before its exchange reserves are depleted. In the end, it may be too soon and unsafe to call for radical and instant changes, but it is never too late to work on gradual and mutually beneficial reforms for both the system and the opposition. – Washington Institute


Chinese investigators have formally arrested an Australian journalist who worked for China’s state television on suspicion of sharing national secrets, the Australian foreign minister said on Monday, a move likely to increase tensions between the two countries. – New York Times

With the Beijing Winter Games one year away, politicians and activists around the world are seeking to use the Olympics as leverage to hold China to account for human rights abuses, sparking early discussions of punitive action such as a boycott. – Washington Post

President Joe Biden says China is in for “extreme competition” from the U.S. under his administration, but that the new relationship he wants to forge need not be one of conflict. – Associated Press

The top American and Chinese diplomats spoke Saturday in the first major exchange between the countries since President Joe Biden took office and touched on several critical issues that have strained their ties. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden said there was no particular reason why he hadn’t yet spoken with China’s Xi Jinping, and promised a different kind of relationship with Beijing from his predecessor. – Bloomberg

A US warship sailed on Friday near Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, challenging Beijing’s sweeping territorial claims for the first time under the Biden administration. – Business Insider

Gary Schmitt and Craig Kennedy write: The hearings on these diplomatic posts will be a perfect time to signal to Europe the bipartisan concern not only around Chinese behavior but also recent decisions in Paris, Berlin, and Brussels that will make the solutions to the problems even more difficult. It is not unusual for diplomatic posts to be handed to major fundraisers and political cronies. However, if Biden and his team are serious about building an effective transatlantic strategy on China, they should think twice about doing so this time around. – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: Xi Jinping’s strategy for dealing with the Quad has taken on a predictable course over the past year. […]Top line: any early Quad leaders summit would be good news. Facing an evolving geopolitical environment in which traditional American allies are bending the knee to Beijing, the United States must consolidate better allies wherever possible. The Quad must be the cornerstone of that effort. – Washington Examiner


President Biden is facing a dilemma that also confounded both of his immediate predecessors: to stay or to go in Afghanistan. – The Hill

Two separate explosions rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday, killing at least three people including members of the minority Sikh community and wounding four others, Afghan officials said. – Associated Press

David Ignatius writes: Trump left Biden a peace agreement for Afghanistan, and a State Department official said Tuesday that the new administration supports “the ongoing peace process to end the war through a just and durable political settlement.” That’s what the Afghanistan Study Group urged, too. The problem is that the peace process isn’t working. And Afghanistan is an enduring lesson that in resolving these bitter conflicts, hope is not a strategy. – Washington Post


Loud chants of “We don’t want military dictatorship, we want democracy” echoed on the streets of Yangon as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Myanmar’s largest city to oppose last week’s coup, putting them on a collision course with authorities, who have violently suppressed such demonstrations in the past. […]Mr. Win called on the U.S., the United Nations and the international community to “build pressure” and “take real action, quick” to bolster their protest. – Wall Street Journal

Australia has demanded Myanmar immediately release an Australian adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi’s government who was detained in a military coup, an official said on Monday. – Associated Press

Pope Francis came down clearly on Sunday against military leaders in Myanmar following the coup there last week, expressing his “solidarity with the people” of the country and asking leaders to serve the common good and seek “democratic” harmony. – Reuters

The military coup in Myanmar has gone past the point of no return, according to a confidential U.K. foreign office assessment, in a sign that major democracies expect to have limited ability to influence the events unfolding inside the country. – Bloomberg

Australia, Japan, the U.S. and India plan to hold a summit to strengthen ties amid China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, the Sankei newspaper reported, citing unidentified government officials. – Bloomberg

The Philippines and the United States will meet this month to iron out differences over a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), Manila’s top diplomat said, amid renewed regional concerns over China’s assertive maritime agenda. – Reuters

Editorial: The conversation in most Western democracies around Internet regulation tends to assume the best intentions on legislators’ part. Yet abroad, most recently in Myanmar and India, the worst intentions are on appalling display. – Washington Post

Kelsey Zorzi writes: As the international community settles on the best way forward, it must also work overtime to make the protection of Myanmar’s most vulnerable a first priority. And the powers that continue to stand for freedom and democracy must ensure that they themselves become Hlaing’s final problem. – The Hill

Diana Choyleva writes: US officials have long adopted “strategic ambiguity” when asked if they would come to Taiwan’s rescue in the event of Chinese military action. If Chinese coercion was extended to a full-blown economic blockade of Taiwan, Washington would probably intervene. Aside from the economic stakes, if it stood aside the US could lose status as the Asia-Pacific’s leading power. – Financial Times

Cesar Chelala writes: The military upheaval in Myanmar highlights a major weakness in worldwide efforts to promote democracy and underscores the need to establish binding international legal principles to ban the recognition of military regimes that result from coups. The institutionalization of such principles together with the creation of the legal mechanisms for applying them would help foster democracy throughout the world. – Times of Israel


Russia on Friday expelled diplomats from three European countries for allegedly taking part in protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, after the European Union said ties with Moscow had hit a new low. – Agence France-Presse

The United States and the European Union on Friday hailed demonstrators in Belarus six months after disputed elections, in a message sure to irritate President Vladimir Putin of neighboring Russia. – Agence France-Presse

Paul Roderick Gregory writes: The Kremlin counterattack on Navalny reveals that he has penetrated Putin’s most vulnerable spots — the gathering storm in Russia’s deprived and ignored regions, the people’s weariness with pervasive corruption, the lack of a political voice, and the indifference of Moscow’s appointed viceroys. Moreover, Navalny offers a “Beautiful Russia of the Future” that can be gained, starting in September, by voting against any parliamentary candidate who sides with the Kremlin. […]The outcome is far from certain. It seems time for the Nobel committee to take note. – The Hill


The British government has over the last 12 months quietly expelled three suspected Chinese spies who posed as journalists, according to a U.K. official. – Wall Street Journal

Pressure is growing on the head of the EU’s border patrol agency after new accusations of abuses that were deemed “very worrying” by Brussels. – Agence France-Presse

Jihyun Park shares the civic concerns of any other would-be town councillor in Britain, from local education to potholes in the roads. But she is unique in one regard: no other candidate has fled North Korea. – Agence France-Presse

A slate of detentions carried out on December 12 during a Paris protest by tens of thousands of people against France’s controversial security bill were “arbitrary”, Amnesty International France said Monday. – Agence France-Presse

The German Defence Ministry will leave planned air defense investments and other high-profile programs involving U.S. vendors unresolved in the final months of the Merkel government, officials have told lawmakers. – Defense News

A secret UK cyber operation to undermine Isis ideology and weaken its fighters on the battlefield involved disabling drones, jamming phones and targeting servers to block online propaganda, according to military and security chiefs. – Financial Times

The French city of Toulouse is to be NATO’s new center for excellence in military space. The decision was taken by NATO on Jan. 28 but was officially announced Feb. 4. – Defense News


US President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday offered its “strong support” to Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), clearing a path for her to become the body’s first female and first African leader. – Agence France-Presse

Chadian President Idriss Deby has been a decades-long pillar of support for the West despite criticism over his hardline rule and failure to ease poverty. – Agence France-Presse

Sudan’s justice minister met with officials from the International Criminal Court in the capital of Khartoum on Sunday to discuss cooperation with the tribunal in the trials related to the Darfur conflict, his office said. – Associated Press

Nigeria’s central bank said it ordered deposit-taking banks and other financial institutions to close accounts dealing in cryptocurrencies because it was threatening the country’s financial system. – Bloomberg

Somalia’s leaders failed to reach consensus after a three-day meeting to address obstacles to holding presidential elections next week, raising the prospect of a political crisis in the Horn of Africa country. – Bloomberg

A senior United Nations official warned on Friday that “the risk of atrocity crimes in Ethiopia remains high and likely to get worse” if the country does not urgently combat ethnic violence, stigmatization, hate speech and religious tensions. – Reuters

The Americas

Ecuadoreans are headed for a runoff presidential election following a vote Sunday in which a leftist economist drew the most votes, but not enough to secure an outright victory. – New York Times

The opposition has demanded that President Jovenel Moïse step down, saying his five-year term ended on Sunday. […]On Friday, the United States government weighed in on Mr. Moïse’s side — an important perspective for many Haitians, who often look to their larger neighbor for guidance on the direction the political winds are blowing. – New York Times

Haitian civil society and opposition leaders called on the United States Saturday to respect the island nation’s sovereignty after the US State Department sided with the president’s view that his term in power ends in a year, and not on Sunday as his critics assert. – Agence France-Presse

Haitian authorities said Sunday they had foiled an attempt to murder President Jovenel Moise and overthrow the government, as a dispute rages over when his term ends. – Agence France-Presse

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: In Honduras and many other poor countries where abortion remains illegal, organizations like International Planned Parenthood can now use U.S. government funds to promote their industry. Mr. Biden doesn’t need to share the moral convictions of pro-life nations. But his contempt for their views is troubling. – Wall Street Journal

Daniel Speckhard writes: Central America faces many challenges that can seem intractable. But we are hopeful that the Biden administration’s approach to the region and its understanding of the overlapping issues underlying its political and economic crisis — corruption, climate change, loss of livelihoods, insecurity — will refocus U.S. policy on the roots of the root causes: people like Sindi and her family, who have experienced so much hardship and suffering. – The Hill

United States

The Biden administration will move on Monday to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council, nearly three years after President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from it, a senior State Department official said on Sunday. – New York Times

President Biden said Friday that former president Donald Trump should not have access to classified information in the form of the briefings usually given to ex-presidents, citing Trump’s “erratic behavior” and the risk that he might recklessly reveal sensitive information. – Washington Post

US President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy speech focused on urgent issues, such as the situation in Myanmar and the war in Yemen, alongside several long-term challenges for the US, such as the policy toward China and Russia and the US refugee cap. But Biden did not mention Iran’s nuclear program, the Abraham Accords, Israel or the Palestinians. – Jerusalem Post

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: So, we may see the US eventually remove formal anti-ICC measures, say positive things about ICC actions in other parts of the world, and its criticism of the ICC and ICJ may sound more legalese and less looking to strike a body blow. However, when it comes to actual policy, the Biden administration, given its view of international law, may find itself defending many of the same positions against the ICC and ICJ as the Trump administration. – Jerusalem Post

Ahmed Charai writes: I hope and trust that the Biden administration will renew and restore the essential role the US plays for its allies, from Europe to the Middle East to the reaches of Asia. Rarely have a man and a moment been better matched. – Jerusalem Post

Gregory Sanders writes: Challenges like the painful unwinding of the F-35 partnership with Turkey are harder to address systematically. […]While sending the speaker of the house abroad for multiple months is not practical today, President Biden’s interpersonal approach to politics may be well suited to assembling negotiating teams that can reach agreements, if possible, and bring their co-partisans along to support the outcome. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The US military’s renewed focus on the Arctic means more operations in a uniquely challenging environment, and its personnel are spending more time there to get used to it. The latest force to head north is an expeditionary B-1B bomber squadron and more than 200 airmen, which will go to Orland Air Base in central Norway to conduct Bomber Task Force missions around Europe. – Business Insider

The U.S. State Department has approved the first potential sales of weapons under the Biden administration, including communications equipment for NATO and missiles for Chile, in deals with a combined value up to $150 million, the Pentagon said on Friday. – Reuters

When the U.S. Defense Department asked industry last year how it could develop 5G networks domestically, people grew concerned that the department was trying to compete with private companies or nationalize 5G. – C4ISRNET

A new poll has found a majority of Americans support alternatives to the Pentagon’s planned program to replace intercontinental ballistic missiles with the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. – Defense News

The U.S. Army has set its first shoot-off for airborne, long-range precision munitions for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, according to a Feb. 2 request for information that the service posted to a government contracting website. – Defense News

The recent Pentagon-directed Global Posture Review has put the brakes on any further drawdowns of troops in Germany or anywhere else until at least mid-year, but won’t affect rotational deployments across the force, a Pentagon official said Friday. – Military Times

Maj. Gen. Francis G. Mahon (ret.) and Brig. Gen. John Shapland (ret.) write: Change can be unsettling and risky, but competition improves innovation. Defining the weapon system integrator in a manner that improves transparency, agility and responsiveness — while providing better control of cost and schedule — is an acquisition strategy the new administration and Congress should embrace. – Defense News