Fdd's overnight brief

January 13, 2023

In The News


Iranian state media published a video on Thursday that they said showed British-Iranian national Alireza Akbari, who is facing the death penalty for spying, played a role in the 2020 assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist. – Reuters 

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, jailed half a year ago over protests related to a building collapse, has been released for two weeks because of health concerns, his lawyer said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

An appeals court in Iran has confirmed six-year prison sentences for two labor activists, Reza Shahabi and Hassan Saeedi, the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company Workers’ Union reported. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Iranian government has presented a draft budget plan for the next Persian year with a significant increase in the budget of military, security, and propaganda institutions. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

More than 100 members of the European Parliament on Wednesday signed a letter calling for the European Union to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety as a terrorist organization, as world powers continue to ratchet up rhetoric against the Iranian regime. – Algemeiner

Over the past decade, tensions between the Iranian central government and its Kurdish minority have been rising, as economic inequality and cultural and ethnic oppression grew. In particular, since the beginning of the 2022 uprising against the Islamic Republic, which spread from Kurdistan to all over Iran after the killing of the 22-year-old Kurdish girl, Jina (Mahsa) Amini, the Iranian regime has escalated its repression against the Kurdish minority. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Iranians, both men and women, are known to be fervent soccer fans, and are particularly proud of their national team. This year, under the shadow of antiregime protests by young people in Iran, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar also became a venue for Iranians – including the Iranian national soccer team – to protest. At the same time, Iran’s Islamic regime has used the tournament for propaganda purposes and for suppressing the protests at home, as well as for spreading its anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian ideology. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Tara D. Sonenshine writes: We have a historic chance to help Iran redefine itself and move away from religious restrictions, morality police and domestic surveillance of innocent citizens while safeguarding the world from a nuclear Iran eager to do damage at home and abroad. It is paramount that Congress acts with one voice. – The Hill  

Henry Rome writes: Observers should keep a watch for any edits the Majlis makes. Parliament often increases military spending above what the government asks. […]Yet finding resources for these extra expenditures will be very challenging. Budget season in Tehran is often turbulent, but this year’s edition will be particularly volatile given the backdrop of public unrest. – Washington Institute 

Nicholas Carl, Zachary Coles, and Annika Ganzeveld write: The judiciary may have executed Alireza Akbari—a former deputy defense minister and British-Iranian dual national. […] There is a growing number of indications that some elements of the state security services are coopting Akbari’s case to remove Ali Shamkhani as Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) secretary. – Institute for the Study of War 

Russia & Ukraine

The head of the United Nations atomic agency plans to visit Ukraine next week to deploy international inspectors at all of the war-torn country’s nuclear plants, significantly expanding the regulator’s presence after months of attacks on power stations and amid the threat of a renewed Russian offensive. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky convened a meeting of top security officials on Thursday at which the situation in Bakhmut and Soledar received special attention. “The units defending these cities will be supplied with ammunition and everything else necessary promptly and without interruption,” he said. – Wall Street Journal

It could soon be an offense here to print any maps that don’t label Crimea and other parts of Ukraine as Russian territory. – Wall Street Journal

Russia’s economic war with the West looks set to claim a much smaller toll on Europe than the brutal recession many economists warned about just months ago, due to falling energy prices and government intervention to buttress the continent’s economy. – Wall Street Journal 

A U.S. citizen who had been detained in Russia for nine months was released on Thursday, according to U.S. officials and others familiar with the matter. – Washington Post

With the appointment of Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s highest-ranking military officer, as direct operational commander of the troubled war in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has doubled down on his conviction that the invasion’s objectives can be achieved without new leadership — and is now turning to a trusted confidant who will carry out his orders without question, analysts said. – Washington Post

The support offered to Ukraine by Poland and Lithuania may mean that other countries will follow their example, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday, after Poland’s president said Warsaw would give Kyiv Leopard tanks. – Reuters 

Burst river banks, thick mud and waterlogged fields could be seen for miles around northwest Ukraine’s border with Belarus on Thursday, making the prospect of a Russian assault from across the border unlikely for now despite recent warnings from Kyiv. – Reuters 

A Russian foreign ministry official said on Friday that Belarus may enter the conflict in Ukraine if Kyiv decides to “invade” either country. – Reuters 

The Pentagon said on Thursday that Russia’s persistent troubles in Ukraine likely led to latest shake-up in military leadership, and urged Moscow to end the war instead turning to new generals to oversee the nearly year-long invasion. – Reuters 

Deployed on a scale never seen before to carry out both surveillance and strikes, drones ranging from small commercially-available models to larger aircraft have become a defining feature of the Ukraine conflict. – Agence France-Presse

With limited battlefield wins and its status as a global pariah firmly in place, Russia is struggling to find leverage to wear down Western resolve to aid Ukraine as its war in the country nears the end of its first year. – The Hill  

Ukrainian defense officials are zeroing in on tank deliveries from the U.S. and European partners, saying the firepower and security provided by the armored artillery vehicles will keep up the momentum in its efforts to rout invading Russian forces. – The Hill 

A video circulating on social media appears to show Russian soldiers complaining that they are being blackmailed by their commanders into fighting President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. – Newsweek

A Russian politician suggested on state television attacking Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, as she visited Ukraine’s embattled Kharkiv region on Tuesday. – Newsweek

Vance Serchuk writes: If the conflict in Ukraine boosts military strength and preparedness in the Indo-Pacific, it too may contribute to the conditions for great-power stability in the long run. Rather than foreshadowing deadlier and more destructive wars to come, Ukraine’s struggle could provide the path to averting them. – Wall Street Journal

Anna Husarska writes: As long as Russian forces remain in their land, Ukrainians will resist and struggle to get back every inch of occupied Ukraine. They will do so with sophisticated weapons provided by the NATO coalition and with all sorts of contraptions fabricated locally, because — as the opening lines of the Ukrainian anthem announce — “The glory of Ukraine has not yet perished, nor the will.” But this is not to say that tourniquets, flak jackets, bourzhuyki and periscopes will be out of use any time soon. – New York Times

Michael Kimmage and Maria Lipman writes: Wartime Putinism is a reduced Putinism, and it would be impossible to describe today’s Russia (to Russians) as an ascendant power. […]Isolation and sanctions will together contribute to Russia’s economic and technological decline. Nobody can say how long Putin can walk this dispiriting tightrope. Putin’s warpath does not lead from point A to point B but is a circuitous route that leads from point A back to point A. A fine-tuned method for avoiding failure, wartime Putinism has all the hallmarks of a dead end. – Foreign Affairs 

Riley Bailey, Madison Williams, Layne Philipson, Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, Karolina Hird, and Mason Clark write: Ukrainian intelligence confirmed that senior Russian military leadership is preparing for significant military reforms in the coming year, though ISW continues to assess Russia will struggle to quickly—if at all—implement planned reforms. – Institute for the Study of War 

Leon Aron writes: If this is the best Putin can do, Ukraine and its supporters in the West ought not to worry about the enemy’s tactical, let alone strategic, acumen. Russia’s march to an increasingly distant victory will likely continue as it started: as a slog over the corpses of its soldiers. – American Enterprise Institute 

Patrick Turner writes: The new pledge need not be time limited like the last one. NATO allies should also consider raising the target for the proportion of defense spending spent on investment from the existing 20% to 25%, given the urgent need for recapitalization. And it should be made crystal clear that allies will use the promised spending to deliver on the ambitious commitments on forces and capabilities which they have made in the wake of the Russian assault on Ukraine. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Edward Salo and Ben Hazen write: If NATO is to serve as the arsenal of democracy, we should look to Ukraine for lessons learned. NATO countries should work together to provide vehicles and weapons systems that give the tactical edge needed to win the war, not tax the Ukrainian military’s logistics infrastructure with varying logistical and maintenance requirements. Providing military equipment, training, supplies, and support is commendable, but it’s important to strongly consider logistical problems and opportunities to maximize support with minimal expense. – The National Interest


The Israeli military shot and killed three Palestinians during arrest raids in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said, the latest bloodshed in months of rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians. – Associated Press

Police on Thursday said officers arrested a man who entered the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank earlier this week along with two other members of the fringe anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox sect Neturei Karta, and met with Palestinians from local terror groups. – Times of Israel

Recently released Israeli Arab terrorist Karim Yunis, who is also a member Fatah’s Central Committee, told Palestine TV on January 7, 2023 that the Palestinians do not recognize the Green Line and that Palestine belongs to them in its entirety. […]Yunis was released from Israeli prison on January 4, 2023 after serving 40 years for murdering of Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1980. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Melanie Phillips writes: Far from being a key link in the chain of Western security, the DHS has internalized the fiction about Palestinian identity that is promoted as a principal weapon in the war of extermination against Israel—and is in turn the flag behind which march the Islamist foes of the West. – Arutz Sheva


China strongly condemns the Kabul attack and hopes the Afghan government can protect citizens from all countries, including Chinese nationals, the Chinese foreign ministry said at a regular daily briefing on Thursday. – Reuters 

Afghanistan cricket officials blasted Australia’s decision on Thursday to cancel their men’s one-day international cricket series. Cricket Australia cited recent heavier restrictions on women’s rights in Afghanistan by the Taliban government for axing the three ODIs in March in the United Arab Emirates. – Associated Press

Gina Vale, Devorah Margolin, and Farkhondeh Akbari write: An unaltered twenty-first century return of the Taliban 1.0 “gender apartheid” poses a serious threat to Afghan women’s rights, survival of vulnerable ethnic groups such as the Hazaras, and the country’s broader security and prosperity. Exposure of the group’s rhetorical veneer of “moderation” requires the international community to be the elephant that never forgets, and instead pushes for real change. – International Centre for Counter-Terrorism


The Swedish government will not extradite four people sought by Turkey, which says they are connected to a U.S.-based cleric it accuses of being behind a coup attempt in 2016, news agency TT reported on Thursday, without citing sources. – Reuters 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that he could meet his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad early in February, rejecting reports that the two could meet next week. – Reuters 

Turkey summoned Sweden’s ambassador after supporters of the Kurdish militant group PKK hanged an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest in Stockholm. – Bloomberg

According to Malkoç, Turkey wants to make efforts to open a “humanitarian corridor,” and Erdogan supported this proposal. – Yahoo News

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said Thursday that a Moscow-brokered rapprochement with Turkey should aim for “the end of occupation” by Ankara of parts of Syria. – Agence France-Presse

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates named the chief executive of its national oil company as the president of this year’s United Nations climate summit, drawing criticism from environmental activists. – Wall Street Journal

Lara Williams writes: A spokesperson for the UAE climate envoy said Al Jaber is focused on his new role and, despite his broad portfolio, has the right people around him to help manage those responsibilities. […]But the UAE may have trouble convincing the world COP28 won’t be just another example of “blah blah blah” — more talk with entrenched interests limiting the action. – Bloomberg

Li-Chen Sim writes: Nevertheless, it is the UAE that has a clear first mover advantage among the Gulf states. The fact that Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been operating for a number of years an internationally recognized certification scheme that tracks and verifies every megawatt of low carbon electricity claimed by ADNOC, Emirates Steel, EGA, and other companies is also likely to be appreciated by customers in Europe. – Middle East Institute  

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt plans to cut spending after the International Monetary Fund extended hundreds of millions of dollars in an economic bailout package, as the country struggles to pay off debts accumulated from a decadeslong building boom. – Wall Street Journal

Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) told Turkey “not to take seriously” a court ruling that suspended an energy exploration deal that the Tripoli government signed with Ankara last year, the Turkish foreign minister said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has extended the mandate of the international tribunal that investigated the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafik Hariri until the end of the year to complete non-judicial functions so it can cease operation. – Associated Press

The CIA chief has met with one of Libya’s rival prime ministers, the government in the country’s capital of Tripoli said Thursday. It was a rare visit by a senior U.S. official to the war-torn country, currently split between two rival administrations. – Associated Press

British Minister of State for the Middle East Lord Tariq Ahmad affirmed Jordan’s special custodial role on the Temple Mount when he visited the flashpoint site in Jerusalem that is holy to all three major monotheistic religions. – Jerusalem Post

A bipartisan group of US senators on Thursday took off on a Congressional delegation to all four Abraham Accords countries for talks with government officials on how to further integrate Israel into the region. – Times of Israel

The January 3, 2023 visit of Israel National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to the Temple Mount sparked furious responses in Jordan. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry harshly condemned the visit and warned of escalation and “a dangerous trend, which the international community should take immediate action to avert.” – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Bobby Ghosh writes: Although Basra and Iraq’s southern provinces are somewhat more stable than Baghdad and its environs, they have not recovered from their long neglect during Saddam Hussein’s rule. […] Southerners complain that subsequent governments in Baghdad have not been any more attentive to their problems. – Bloomberg

Mark Regev writes: This week, when Middle East peace partners Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and the UAE met in Abu Dhabi for a Negev Forum meeting, Jordan was once again absent. For domestic reasons, Amman remains acutely responsive to Palestinian sentiment. Given that an Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough is unlikely to happen anytime soon, Israel-Jordan ties will be condemned to the back burner. – Jerusalem Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: But there’s no reason to await this meeting with bated breath. America and Saudi Arabia are opposed to appointing a president who is allied with Hezbollah, whereas Qatar and France are less concerned about that. In their view, it’s vital to appoint a president, any president, even if he comes from Mars, so that Lebanon can start functioning. – Haaretz

Korean Peninsula

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said the country could develop its own nuclear weapons or ask the U.S. to redeploy them on the Korean Peninsula if the threat from North Korea grows, in the first time a leader of the country has explicitly raised the prospect in decades. – Wall Street Journal

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that the onus is on North Korea to return to talks aimed at getting Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program, a rebuttal of China’s demand that the United States needs to show flexibility. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has heightened the risk of war in the Indo-Pacific, according to South Korea’s envoy to the United States, who portrayed North Korea’s dictatorship as both anxious and dangerous. – Washington Examiner 

As U.S. intelligence officials accuse North Korea of sending weapons to aid Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, Moscow’s economic, political and potential military support for Pyongyang may help the otherwise isolated nuclear-armed state shift the balance of power in East Asia. – Newsweek


China’s leader, Xi Jinping, used his annual New Year’s Eve address in 2021 to laud the patriotic achievements of the Chinese people. In a year marked by crackdowns on tech companies, curbs on borrowing by the country’s property firms, and a refusal to budge on restrictive Covid policies, Mr. Xi made no direct mention of the economy or business. – New York Times

A more remarkable enterprise, on the third floor, is unlisted: a Chinese outpost suspected of conducting police operations without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval — one of more than 100 such outfits around the world that are unnerving diplomats and intelligence agents. […] Some reports describe the Chinese outposts “collecting intelligence” and solving crimes abroad without collaborating with local officials.  – New York Times

China’s foreign ministry in Hong Kong urged the British government to stop its “so-called half-yearly report on Hong Kong”, state media reported on Friday. – Reuters 

China’s trade with Russia hit a record 1.28 trillion yuan ($190 billion) last year, the government said on Friday, even as Russia’s imports from the European Union fell on sanctions related to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill on Thursday to ban releases of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve from being exported to China, though the measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate. – Reuters 

The head of the International Monetary Fund urged China to move forward with reopening its economy, calling the nation’s transition from a Covid Zero policy to more normal functioning likely the single most important factor for global growth in 2023. – Bloomberg

While an uptick in overall deaths in the country during the winter season is not uncommon, more than 30 images obtained by TIME from space technology firm Maxar offer insights into the unique present situation through historical comparisons. An increase in foot traffic in crematoriums and funeral homes this winter can be seen, compared to snapshots from the same periods in prior years. – TIME

The Commerce Department’s restrictions put the U.S. on the offensive against China’s ability to procure the advanced microelectronics needed to meet its long-term military modernization goals. The export controls prohibit businesses such as TSMC from continuing to produce these sophisticated microchips in China — even as the Taiwanese company begins manufacturing its advanced semiconductors in Arizona. – Defense News

Weifeng Zhong writes: Make no mistake. Chinese scientists could still beat their American counterpart to the quantum Holy Grail and start cracking passwords all over the internet; we just wouldn’t hear about it in the news right away. […]It remains a top priority for the U.S. and Western allies to advance research in quantum-resistant encryption technologies before it’s too late. – Washington Examiner 

Seth Cropsey writes: The U.S. can correct this, but only with prudence, foresight and a commitment to expand its military and industrial capacity alongside effective diplomacy. The China Committee’s fundamental task, then, is to begin the correction of the balance. – The Hill  

John Strand writes: Despite the widespread knowledge of the threat associated with using Chinese equipment, some of Europe’s largest operators purchased and deployed Chinese 5G equipment in their networks after 2020.  Europe’s policymakers must learn that it was not smart to depend on Chinese telecommunications infrastructure in the same way as it did for Russian gas. Otherwise, they are risking European security. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

South Asia

Sri Lanka’s top court on Thursday ordered the country’s former president and several of his senior officials to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to the families of the victims of terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday in 2019, a small victory in an island nation that has long suffered from a culture of rampant impunity. – New York Times

The Saudi Fund for Development will finance Pakistan’s oil derivatives worth $1 billion, Pakistan’s economic affairs division said on Thursday. – Reuters 

India is reviving a network of thousands of village guards in Jammu and Kashmir, including arming some with automatic rifles, after a militant attack in the disputed region killed seven civilians earlier in January, a police official said. – Reuters

Pakistan has said the United Arab Emirates has agreed to increase its financial assistance to Pakistan to $3 billion, a move key to bolstering foreign exchange reserves for the South Asian nation reeling under an economic crisis. – Bloomberg

India’s army chief said on Thursday the border situation with China is stable but unpredictable after a nearly two-and-a-half-year standoff between tens of thousands of soldiers from both countries in the eastern Ladakh area. – Associated Press

Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations has expressed the need to establish alternatives to the current U.S.-dominated global financial system as he handed over the chair of a massive bloc of developing nations to Cuba. – Newsweek

Adm. Karambir Singh (Ret.) and Blake Herzinger write: While initial progress may be slow, increasing cooperation is the most effective way to surmount remaining trust barriers and create the bilateral relationship that both sides want but may be too afraid to ask for. A strong India-U.S. naval relationship’s reason for being need not be an explicit bogeyman — navies’ peacetime functions offer more than enough room for cooperation in areas of critical importance to both states. But the skills built in peacetime will create the operational familiarity and flexibility needed to deal with future contingencies in the Indo-Pacific. – War on the Rocks 


Democracies in Asia that rely on the backstop of U.S. military power for their prosperity are confronting a new reality: American protection is no longer enough now that China rivals the U.S. in areas such as advanced missiles and naval hardware. – Wall Street Journal

But abroad, Kishida’s diplomatic profile is rising. And in Washington, he is hailed for his efforts to deepen the U.S.-Japan alliance, including the recent release of Japan’s ambitious plans to dramatically boost its defense spending. On Friday, Kishida will make his first visit to the White House since becoming prime minister just over a year ago. – Washington Post

Malaysia said on Thursday it could stop exporting palm oil to the European Union in response to a new EU law aimed at protecting forests by strictly regulating sale of the product. – Reuters 

Japan will send a delegation to meet with Canadian battery and mining companies early this year, while Canada is planning a trade mission to Japan later in October, the leaders of both countries announced on Thursday after meeting in Ottawa. – Reuters 

The South Korean government unveiled a plan on Thursday to compensate victims of Japan’s wartime forced labour through its own public foundation – instead of using funds from Japanese companies – prompting backlash from victims and their families. – Reuters 

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will seek public support for his robust new security strategy from US President Joe Biden at their upcoming summit, after criticism from China. – Bloomberg

The BRICS group of nations is formulating criteria for countries wishing to join the bloc and may decide by the end of this year on whether to admit new members and who those states will be, Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s foreign minister, said. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden will discuss cooperation on limiting China’s access to semiconductor technology in back-to-back visits to Washington by leaders of Japan and the Netherlands in the coming days. – Bloomberg

Japanese prosecutors formally charged the suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder, sending him to stand trial, a Japanese court said Friday. – Associated Press

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Thursday that the rule of law is at grave risk of becoming “the Rule of Lawlessness,” pointing to a host of unlawful actions across the globe from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and coups in Africa’s Sahel region to North Korea’s illegal nuclear weapons program and Afghanistan’s unprecedented attacks on women’s and girls’ rights. – Associated Press 

David Ignatius writes: China is in the early stages of what might be the biggest military buildup in history. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine effectively ended the post-Cold War era. Japan is reacting to those developments rationally. But beware: As the global order frays, the chain of action and reaction is only beginning. – Washington Post

Gearoid Reidy writes: There are parallels with Kishida’s US counterpart. Biden, too, is a leader whose initial signature achievements were largely in foreign policy, and who helped restore his nation’s place in the world. […]Assuming the LDP allows him to lead it into a vote, a solid showing would put the party under his control once again. The two men have a lot to discuss. – Bloomberg

Mark R. Kennedy writes: The enhancement of Japan’s unseeable domains of power — the digital elements of space, cyber and electromagnetic, intelligence and jointness — could make a pivotal difference in securing peace in the region. As Kishida and Biden meet, Biden should fully commit to assist Japan in cultivating its invisible power. – The Hill  

Riley Walters writes: It will be important that Kishida’s visit with Biden reaffirms the U.S.-Japan alliance, partnership, and friendship as these get put to the test. But sure enough, the year ahead for U.S.-Japan relations will be one of the most exciting to watch in the Indo-Pacific. – The Hill  

Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes: The final and most important way to deter a Chinese move on Taiwan is to ensure a Ukrainian victory in the current conflict. If Russia can gain territory and establish a new status quo by force, it sets a dangerous precedent. China and other autocratic powers will learn that the democratic world’s resolve is weak and that nuclear blackmail and military aggression work. – Financial Times

Christopher Johnstone writes: Japan’s commitment to increase defense spending and to invest in new capabilities is among the most significant strategic developments in the Indo-Pacific in decades. It is in the national interest of the United States to see that it is sustained and that the U.S.-Japanese relationship is strengthened as a result. Continuing the existing framework for cost-sharing would undermine the vision of a more equal alliance and partnership. – Foreign Affairs 

Zack Cooper and Eric Sayers write: If Japan can boost its defense spending, modernize its command-and-control arrangements, and upgrade its defense posture, that would set Tokyo on a major new path. Washington should welcome Kishida’s bold vision and robust contribution to regional security. Japan’s transition from pacifism to regional protector is not yet complete, but there is now no denying it is well underway. – War on the Rocks 

Jennifer Kavanagh and Jordan Cohen write: These updates, along with a clear prioritization of Taiwan over partners with questionable human rights records, would signal that Washington and Taipei are serious about ensuring that Taiwan has the capabilities it needs on a reasonable timeline. […]If Washington seizes the opportunity to make far-reaching reforms today, it can ensure that Taiwan benefits from Ukraine’s experience rather than competing with Kyiv. – War on the Rocks 


Russia questioned on Thursday whether Sweden had “something to hide” over explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines last year, as it slammed Stockholm for not sharing information in the ongoing investigations into the blasts. – Reuters 

The UK and European Union are poised to enter the final stretch of negotiations over post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland. After years of distrust and tension both sides are optimistic that a settlement is within reach. – Bloomberg

An opposition politician who ran against authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in the controversial 2020 presidential election has been arrested in Minsk, a human rights group said Thursday. – Associated Press

The Paris prosecutor said investigators haven’t yet been able to identify the attacker who wounded six people with a sharp metallic hook in the French capital’s Gare du Nord train station on Wednesday before being shot and wounded by police. – Associated Press

U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet stressed the importance of the formation of an Association of Serbian Municipalities during a visit to Belgrade aimed at clearing the way for progress in the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 


Uganda’s cabinet has agreed for the energy ministry to sign production-sharing agreements (PSA) for two oil exploration blocks with two oil firms, including a unit of Australia’s DGR Global (DGR.AX), the government said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The foreign ministers of France and Germany used a visit to Ethiopia on Thursday to call for accountability for widespread abuses committed during the Tigray conflict as a condition for the European Union to normalize relations with the country. – Associated Press

James Stavridis writes: There are many security challenges in the world today, ranging from great-power rivalries to the lingering efforts of terrorists like the Islamic State. But we can take comfort from the example of counterpiracy cooperation in East Africa, and draw some practical lessons learned as well. – Bloomberg  

The Americas

The Biden administration plans to send a delegation to Havana this month to restart U.S.-Cuba talks on law-enforcement issues that were halted under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The leaders of North America did not discuss an ongoing dispute over Mexico’s energy policies during a summit in Mexico City this week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Tom Perriello writes: Tribunals such as the WTO are becoming artifacts of the past — and out of step with the realities of a rising China. […]The president has pledged to forge a new American Dream for workers, communities and American manufacturing that puts working people first, not multinational corporate interests. That’s why the administration must stand firm against trade competitors and WTO bureaucrats crying foul. Otherwise, they could threaten his broader agenda. – The Hill  

Latin America

ConocoPhillips, which abandoned Venezuela after its assets were nationalized in 2007, is now open to a deal to sell the country’s oil in the U.S. as a way to recover the close to $10 billion it is owed by Venezuela, according to people familiar with discussions between the company and Venezuela representatives. – Wall Street Journal     

Authorities in Brazil asked a federal court on Thursday to block $1.3 million in assets belonging to 52 people and seven companies alleged to have helped fund the buses that carried supporters of defeated former president Jair Bolsonaro to the riot in the capital on Sunday. – Washington Post

Weeks-long protests that have left dozens dead across Peru continued on Thursday, with escalating tensions in Andean city Cusco prompting the government to preemptively close the tourist hub’s airport. – Agence France-Presse


A case before the Supreme Court challenging the liability shield protecting websites such as YouTube and Facebook could “upend the internet,” resulting in both widespread censorship and a proliferation of offensive content, Google said in a court filing Thursday. – Wall Street Journal

France on Thursday fined TikTok 5 million euros ($5.4 million) for shortcomings linked to the short video platform’s handling of online tracking known as “cookies”, which the ByteDance-owned company said it had now addressed. – Reuters 

Wisconsin and North Carolina have joined at least 22 other states in banning the popular social media app TikTok on state-owned devices, including Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana and South Dakota. – Associated Press

Twitter employees found no evidence of Russian involvement in a hashtag campaign critical of the investigation into possible Russian influence over former President Donald Trump, according to newly released documents that indicate that Democratic allegations about Russia’s influence were overstated. – Washington Examiner 

A group of pro-Russian hackers is using Telegram and GitHub to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks against Ukraine and several NATO countries. – The Record 

Illicit cryptocurrency activity reached an all-time high of $20.1 billion in 2022, increasing from $18 billion the previous year in large part due to escalating U.S. sanctions targeting digital currencies, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at Chainalysis. – CyberScoop


A top U.S. intelligence official on Thursday urged Congress to renew sweeping powers granted to American spy agencies to surveil and examine communications, saying they were critical to stopping terrorism, cyberattacks and other threats. – Associated Press

House Republican leaders say they won’t cut tens of billions of dollars from future defense budgets as part of plans to constrain government spending. But that doesn’t mean all military budget trims are off the table. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy is firming up plans for the Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel, after previously questioning the need or utility of the system. – Defense News

Elaine McCusker writes: Given the limited time available and the stakes involved, now is the time to begin the critical work to establish a budget framework that will allow for on-time enactment of defense funding needed by the nation and those who protect it. – American Enterprise Institute 

Long War

Tunisia has jailed nine members of an all-women “terrorist” gang accused of plotting to assassinate a government minister, media reported Thursday. In the North African nation’s first known case of an all-woman jihadist group, two of the ringleaders were jailed for 25 years, while the other seven were handed sentences ranging between three and 14 years. One woman was acquitted. – Agence France-Presse

The Spanish government agreed to repatriate more than a dozen people with Islamic State ties who had been in a Syrian refugee camp. – Washington Examiner 

The notorious terrorist and member of the ISIS cell dubbed “The Beatles,” who was serving a life sentence for the kidnap, torture and murder of western journalists and aid workers in Syria, has disappeared from the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Fox News Digital confirmed Thursday. – Fox News

Christopher P. Costa writes: As clichéd as it seems, national leadership is essential for properly framing domestic terrorism threats. […]But if anti-government terrorism is a fifth wave, America and the rest of the world better get ready because terrorist waves last generations. – The Hill  

Matthew Wein writes: Regardless, the State Department should not sit back and let Congress determine on its own what the future ought to be. The State Department has a number of foreign partners it can work with and listen to and determine best practices. There are no easy answers right now, but the nature of terrorism is changing, and the longer we wait to address the problems, the more complicated it will become to develop the tools and counter the terrorists’ changes. – The National Interest