Fdd's overnight brief

January 21, 2022

In The News


The United States and its European allies said on Thursday that it was now just a matter of weeks to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after a round of talks in which a French diplomatic source said there had been no progress on the core issues. – Reuters  

Iran, China and Russia held their third joint naval drills in the northern Indian Ocean on Friday, state TV reported. – Reuters  

A verdict in Iran’s trial of French tourist Benjamin Briere, jailed for over a year on charges of “spying and acting against the Islamic Republic”, could be issued within days, one of his lawyers told Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters  

A court in Tehran has sentenced financial reporter Amir-Abbas Azarmvand to three years and seven months in prison after convicting him of “spreading propaganda against the system.” – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Israeli fighter jets carried out a large drill over the Mediterranean that included practicing mid-air refueling, according to a report in a Saudi-run news outlet Thursday. – Times of Israel 

A. Savyon writes: In early January 2022, the Iranian regime marked the second anniversary of the killing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani with dozens of ceremonies and speeches across the country. At memorial ceremonies, regime officials glorified Soleimani and his activity to implement the regime’s vision of exporting Iran’s Islamic Revolution and to expand the political and military influence of the Iranian revolutionary regime in countries across the region. –Middle East Media Research Institute 

Ali Fathollah-Nejad and Mahdi Ghodsi write: By shoring up all three of these pillars, Tehran wants to prepare for more stormy times ahead, yet its reliance on repression and propaganda while potentially exaggerating future income may exacerbate the nation’s ills instead of helping to cure them. The jump in oil income that the proposed budget relies on may only be realized if a deal is reached in Vienna to revive the JCPOA. In other words, Raisi’s claim that the fate of Iran’s economy is not tied to sanctions and the JCPOA’s future is not only utterly misleading, but it is also contradicted by his administration’s own budget assumptions. – Middle East Institute  

Bilal Y. Saab writes: We don’t know which of these scenarios is more likely. But it’s obvious that the damage caused by the Houthis in Abu Dhabi has far more serious consequences than the loss of three innocent lives and the burning of a fuel depot. The attack raises critical questions about the extent of Iran’s involvement in the Yemen war and the exact nature of its relationship with the Houthis — questions to which we simply don’t have convincing answers. – Middle East Institute  

Maya Carlin writes: Tehran’s influence at home and abroad is faltering and its cooperation with aligned militias has, for the most part, continued unchecked. In order to display a mirage of stability and strength, regime officials will likely lean even more on their proxy apparatus in the upcoming months. – The National Interest 

Mark Regev writes: Unfortunately, a bad outcome from the current Vienna talks appears all but certain, avoiding such a scenario seemingly based on the hope that extreme Iranian intransigence will prevent an agreement. But the regime deserves more credit than that, a “compromise” will be found allowing the West a face-saver but leaving the Islamic Republic with the infrastructure that makes the future construction of nuclear weapons possible. – Jerusalem Post  


Afghan evacuees housed on a U.S. military base in Kosovo are at risk of being denied entry to the U.S. because of their alleged links to the Taliban and other terrorist groups, U.S. officials have said, potentially leaving them without a home country. – Wall Street Journal   

The Taliban promised to bring peace, but fear reigns above all in the eastern city of Jalalabad, hit by Islamic State group attacks and reprisals, and with corpses appearing mysteriously in rivers. – Agence France-Presse 

Norway has invited representatives from the Taliban to Oslo from Jan. 23 to 25 for meetings, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday. – Bloomberg  

Lisa Curtis writes: If congressional leaders try to use the Afghanistan issue only to batter their political opponents, all Americans will lose, because national leaders will not learn from past mistakes, but will make similar foreign policy blunders in the future. – Center for a New American Security  


President Tayyip Erdogan’s approval rating rose 2.1 percentage points in January, a poll by Metropoll Research showed on Thursday, as the Turkish lira steadied in recent weeks on the back of government measures despite soaring inflation. – Reuters 

Both Russia and Ukraine are open to the idea of Turkey playing a role to ease tensions between the two countries, as proposed by Ankara in November, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday. – Reuters  

Turkey and Qatar have reached agreement on ensuring security at Kabul’s main airport should they be awarded the mission amid ongoing talks with the Taliban government, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Kareem Fahim writes: Amid the latest economic crisis, Erdogan has framed developments, including the plunging value of the lira, as calculated steps designed to foster export-led growth, increase access to credit and reduce the country’s current account deficit. This explanation is part of a populist pitch ahead of the 2023 elections. – Washington Post 


The United Nations on Thursday adopted an Israeli resolution that condemns denial and distortion of the Holocaust, the Nazi genocide that killed nearly six million Jews and millions of others. – New York Times 

The European Union accused Israel of fueling tensions with its actions in east Jerusalem this week, both its advancement of a new Jewish neighborhood and the demolition of two homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. – Jerusalem Post  

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday, marking the first such call between the countries’ top diplomats in 13 years. – Jerusalem Post  

Avraham Goldstein writes: The resolution condemned “the continued subjection of Palestinians to the state-supported displacement, occupation, and use of lethal force by Israel” and required chapter-level discussion of possible union support for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. – Wall Street Journal 


Yemen lost its connection to the internet nationwide early Friday after Saudi-led airstrikes targeted a site in the contested city of Hodeida, an advocacy group said, plunging the war-torn nation offline. – Associated Press 

The director of SITE Intelligence Group said on Thursday that AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) announced the death of a military commander in a U.S. air strike in Yemen. – Reuters  

Sanaa, held by Iran-aligned Houthi forces since 2014, had since 2020 enjoyed relative calm as fighting flared elsewhere in Yemen. But in September the coalition resumed attacks on military sites belonging to the Houthis, which had ramped up cross-border missile and drone launches on Saudi cities and on Monday struck the United Arab Emirates. – Reuters  

Gerald M. Feierstein writes: With these new attacks and expansion of Houthi regional aggression, the balance between listing and not listing the Houthis may have shifted. The administration might suggest the time has come to reconsider the original decision, beginning by engaging humanitarian relief organizations on whether a listing of the Houthis could be implemented that would insulate essential relief efforts from harm. – Middle East Institute  

Gulf States

Gunmen from the Islamic State extremist group attacked an army barracks in a mountainous area north of Baghdad early Friday, killing 11 soldiers as they slept, Iraqi security officials said. – Associated Press 

David Pollock writes: On foreign policy issues, only 16% of Qatari’s say good ties with Iran are important—a surprisingly low proportion, considering Qatar’s public image and its close energy links with Iran. By comparison, half say good relations with the U.S. are important to their country. – Washington Institute 

Michael Rubin writes: Absent a free press, intent on co-opting other outlets and increasingly reliant on a close circle of aides and analysts prone to reflecting Kadhimi or trading praise for access, it will be near impossible for Kadhimi to assess the effectiveness of the policies he directs or the reality most Iraqis experience. The question under such circumstances is not whether Kadhimi can succeed—he will not—but rather what the cost of failure might be. Iraq needs a free press now more than ever. – 19fortyfive 

Mona Abu Shanif writes: Relations between the US and its Gulf allies are now governed by mutual doubts over intentions, commitments, ongoing haggling over what each can offer the other, alternative options, and their respective bargaining chips. Undoubtedly, China’s presence in the equation expands the Gulf states’ room to maneuver in their relations with Washington and puts them in a stronger negotiating position. However, this position does not come without a cost, as the Gulf states also harbor their own suspicions regarding China’s close strategic relationship with Iran. – Middle East Institute  

Jonathan Spyer writes: Finally, of course, from the point of view of Iran’s enemies, it is testimony to the correctness of the decision to remove them. It is perhaps unfortunate that the current malaise of Iran’s proxy strategy in Iraq is not being exploited by a determined, clear strategy on the part of the US and its allies. Rather, these are at present mainly the passive beneficiaries of Iran’s difficulties. – Jerusalem Post  

Middle East & North Africa

The Islamic State, the Syrian government and Russia blamed the United States, but the dam was on the U.S. military’s “no-strike list” of protected civilian sites and the commander of the U.S. offensive at the time, then-Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, said allegations of U.S. involvement were based on “crazy reporting.” – New York Times 

Libya’s central bank said on Thursday that it has started a process to reunify after being split for years during the country’s civil war. – Associated Press 

A rocket attack on a northern Syrian town controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters killed six civilians and wounded over a dozen people on Thursday, Syrian rescuers and a war monitor said. Both blamed U.S-backed Syrian Kurdish forces for the attack. – Associated Press 

Islamic State militants attacked a prison in Syria’s al-Hasaka in an attempt to free prisoners belonging to the group who had mutinied, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement on Thursday. – Reuters  

Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

Elizia Volkmann writes: Unfortunately, Tunisia’s lack of stability and seeming inability to make radical changes to its Ministry of the Interior and police force have seen numerous rollbacks toward authoritarian-style laws, such as the draft of a new state of emergency law first tabled in 2019, which Amnesty International said would have pushed back human rights to pre-2011 days. […]With these arrests and reports from anti-coup campaigners and the warrant issued for the arrest of former President Moncef Marzouki, it seems that Saied’s campaign to eliminate and discredit his opposition is only likely to continue. – Middle East Institute  

Korean Peninsula

Russia and China blocked the U.N. Security Council on Thursday from imposing sanctions on five North Korean officials in response to Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile tests, a decision criticized by the United States which sought to impose penalties over their roles in the country’s missile program. – Associated Press 

Oil traders are turning their focus to a potential trade agreement between South Korea and some major Persian Gulf producers that may reduce prices of Middle Eastern crude in the months to come. – Bloomberg   

Donald Kirk writes: To U.S. and South Korean strategists, the terrible question will be whether to let the North strike first or beat them to the punch with a blow intended to cripple Kim’s grandiose dreams of intimidating the South while fighting poverty and pandemic at home. – The Hill   

Tara O writes: Before any discussions about an end of war declaration, the matters of the UN POWs and the civilians abducted by North Korea should be resolved. These are unfinished issues of the armistice and the Korean War. Families still await to see their loved ones if they are alive, and want closure if they are deceased. The POWs and abductees deserve to be remembered. – Hudson Institute  


China’s central bank lowered its benchmark lending rates, stepping in to support a slowing economy that has been weighed down by a slump in the property market during a politically important year for leader Xi Jinping. – Wall Street Journal  

The extra yield that Chinese government bonds offer over U.S. Treasurys this week dropped below a percentage point for the first time in nearly three years, as the central banks of the world’s two largest economies move in opposite directions. – Wall Street Journal   

A bipartisan group of more than 140 U.S. lawmakers called on U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to immediately revive and expand a tariff exclusion process on Chinese goods to help U.S. manufacturers. – Reuters   

The new head of Hong Kong’s Bar Association pledged on Thursday to defend the Chinese-ruled territory’s vaunted rule of law amid concerns over the impact of a Beijing-imposed national security law on the Asian financial hub. – Reuters    

At some of the world’s most sensitive spots, authorities have installed security screening devices made by a single Chinese company with deep ties to China’s military and the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party. – Associated Press 

France’s parliament passed an opposition-led motion asking the government to condemn China for “crimes against humanity and genocide” against its Uyghur Muslim minority and to take foreign policy measures to make this stop. – Reuters  

The U.S. Navy on Thursday denied a Chinese claim that the People’s Liberation Army Navy chased an American destroyer away from islands in the South China Sea. – USNI News 

Tom Rogan writes: As EU leaders and the European Parliament consider the next steps in their relationship with China, they should pay close heed to Beijing’s willingness to watch Europe burn. It says much about the political nature and duplicity of this regime. – Washington Examiner  

Eswar Prasad writes: The Chinese economy has held up remarkably well through the pandemic but now faces a combination of waning growth and financial market volatility. This reflects a number of dilemmas that Beijing is grappling with, some of which are of its own making. – Financial Times 

Derek Scissors writes: The Biden administration stuck to tariffs and Phase One in part because it feared political fallout from abandoning them. The fallout would be minor if the administration overcame business lobbying and offered substantial policies that treat China, correctly, as an economic rival. Relocating key supply chains is the single best option. – China Business Review  

South Asia

India’s defence ministry said on Thursday a 17-year-old Indian youth was “reportedly captured” by the Chinese military after going missing near the countries’ shared border. – Reuters 

Pakistan is dangling tax incentives for Chinese companies, as Beijing’s closest ally in South Asia drums up interest for special economic zones months after terrorists were suspected to be involved in the explosion of a bus carrying workers from China. – Bloomberg 

Hamid Mir writes: The latest action against the Kashmir Press Club is a message to all Kashmiri journalists to surrender their independence. The crackdown will only create more tension and more hatred. Muslim Kashmiris are already facing concerted death-threat campaigns from Hindu extremists. This action will encourage those who are publicly advocating flaying as punishment for dissenting voices. Modi can shut down the Kashmir Press Club, but he cannot lock down the minds of Kashmiris. – Washington Post 


The United States is looking for ways to potentially accelerate delivery of Taiwan’s next generation of new-build F-16 fighter jets, U.S. officials said, bolstering the Taiwanese air force’s ability to respond to what Washington and Taipei see as increasing intimidation by China’s military. – Reuters  

Myanmar’s military has arrested three people working for the independent news portal Dawei Watch, an editor at the publication said on Thursday, the latest detentions under a media crackdown that has occurred since last year’s coup. – Reuters  

President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will hold their first formal talks on Friday as the two leaders face fresh concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program and China’s growing military assertiveness. – Associated Press 

Washington has suggested Lithuania consider changing the name of Taiwan’s representative office in the capital Vilnius in an effort to help ease tensions between the Baltic state and China since the mission was established. – Financial Times 


Russia’s military buildup is rekindling tensions over whether Europe should take a bigger role in its own defense aside from the trans-Atlantic alliance with the U.S. that has underpinned the region’s security in the postwar era. – Wall Street Journal  

The top diplomats of Russia and the United States were to meet in Switzerland on Friday to discuss soaring tensions over Ukraine after a flurry of meetings between officials on both sides in the last week produced no breakthroughs. – Reuters  

Russia’s parliament will hold consultations next week on an idea to appeal to President Vladimir Putin to recognise two pro-Russian breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states, the chamber’s speaker said on Friday. – Reuters  

Russia on Thursday announced sweeping naval drills in several parts of the world this month, and claimed the West is plotting “provocations” in neighboring Ukraine where the Kremlin has been accused of planning aggressive military action. – Associated Press 

Yaroslav Trofimov, Ann M. Simmons, and Michael R. Gordon write: The U.S. and allies are unlikely to fold, at least in the immediate future, but they are taking Mr. Putin’s threats seriously now. They certainly no longer treat Russia as merely a “regional power” that’s acting out of weakness, as Mr. Obama dismissed it to Mr. Putin’s dismay eight years ago. – Wall Street Journal  

Anthony Faiola writes: But Washington is signaling that an invasion could be a game changer, potentially bringing a host of new assistance, resources and weaponry for guerilla-style warfare in parts of Ukraine the Russians seize, and turning Putin’s incursion there into an Afghanistan-like quagmire. – Washington Post  

David Sheppard writes: While domestic gas production should not be discouraged, politicians should be sceptical of claims that Europe can drill its way out of this mess. But securing alternative gas supplies through seaborne LNG contracts, potentially with co-ordinated government support and investment in projects, could at least reduce reliance on Russia in the coming years. To fail to do that now would only encourage Putin. – Financial Times  

Alexander Vindman and Dominic Cruz Bustillos write: The moment a war starts, the geopolitical landscape will become significantly more challenging for U.S. national security. Washington should assume the worst and plan accordingly, leveraging all elements of its power to protect U.S. interests. The Biden administration must maintain a delicate balance: avoiding a one-on-one military confrontation with Russia while punishing Russia for creating this harsh new reality. Right now, no task is more important. – Foreign Affairs  


The U.S. dispatched the head of the Central Intelligence Agency to Berlin and Kyiv, as part of its efforts to persuade European nations to rally around a tougher response against Moscow and in support of Ukraine, an approach that is complicated by the countries’ closer economic ties with Russia. – Wall Street Journal   

President Biden said Thursday that any Russian troop movement into Ukraine would be considered an invasion, seeking to clear up confusion over his position on a potential incursion as the administration gave approval for U.S.-made weapons to be transferred to Kyiv. – Wall Street Journal   

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday highlighted Western unity in confronting Russia’s pressure on Ukraine, even as the standoff over Moscow’s military buildup exposes differences among the United States and its European allies. – Washington Post  

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Thursday against several Belarusian government officials for allegedly plotting to divert a Lithuania-bound aircraft to a Minsk airport so a dissident and his girlfriend could be arrested there. – Washington Post  

Britain warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday that its allies would stand together to fight for democracy against dictatorships that it said were more emboldened than at any time since the Cold War. – Reuters  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the situation on the Ukrainian border and agreed that further Russian military aggression against Ukraine must be averted, a German government spokesperson said on Friday. – Reuters  

The U.S. Treasury Department levied new sanctions Thursday against four Ukrainian officials, including two current members of parliament who administration officials say are part of a Russian influence effort to set the pretext for further invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press 

Short of an all-out invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin could take less dramatic action in Ukraine that would vastly complicate a U.S. and allied response. He might carry out what President Joe Biden called a “minor incursion” — perhaps a cyberattack — leaving the U.S. and Europe divided on the type and severity of economic sanctions to impose on Moscow and ways to increase support for Kyiv. – Associated Press 

Belarus has set February 27 for a referendum on constitutional amendments initiated by Alyaksandr Lukashenka that will allow him to further strengthen his authoritarian rule and remain in office until 2035. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Officials in Berlin have rejected a renewed request by Ukraine for lethal, defensive equipment in the face of Russia’s massive troop buildup, effectively testing the restrictive arms-export policy enshrined in the government’s coalition agreement. – Defense News 

Editorial: At the press conference, Mr. Biden was assessing the current state of affairs between the U.S. and Europe, but he isn’t a foreign-policy analyst speaking on a Washington panel. The world listens when a President speaks. His job is to try to shape reality in terms favorable to American interests. That means leading the West toward a unified and stern response to any aggression against Ukraine—not commenting on how tough a job that is. – Wall Street Journal   

Editorial: As important as what Mr. Blinken said was where he said it: Berlin, capital of Europe’s most populous, richest and most influential democracy, and the one that has attempted simultaneously to get its energy from Russia and its security from the United States and NATO. Events are rapidly making Germany’s position less and less tenable. However belatedly — and however clumsily — the Biden administration has tried to rally the West. In the end, though, Germany and other European countries cannot outsource all the political will to the United States. They must supply some themselves. – Washington Post 

Nolan Peterson writes: Apart from the symbolic value, however, I fear it’s already too late for Western military aid to improve Ukraine’s ability to defend against a major Russian offensive. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union should also consider pre-emptive deliveries of humanitarian aid to prepare for the possibility of millions of displaced people in the dead of winter. – Wall Street Journal  

Michael Vickers writes: The Biden administration has sought a “stable and predictable relationship” with Russia. What it has received in return is the prospect of a Russian-instigated major war in Europe with far-reaching strategic consequences. – Washington Post  

Mihir Sharma writes: There are very few ways in which Great Britain can still claim to be a global power. It does not set the terms of world trade as China does. It has ceded the waves to the U.S. Navy, which boasts ten times as many aircraft carriers. It does not have regulatory or standard-setting power, unlike the European Union it so huffily left. Sure, the United Kingdom has nuclear weapons. But then, so does North Korea. – Bloomberg   

Andreas Kluth writes: What are we going to call these different and varying assaults? Incursions? Skirmishes? Invasions? As Biden said, we’ll probably end up fighting about definitions for months, and then reach very different conclusions. This is the West’s greatest weakness. Leadership — in both North America and Europe — now means recognizing that, and then doing everything possible to turn the many into one. – Bloomberg   

Francesca Ghiretti writes: The European Union should provide more detailed guidelines so member states only forward risky transactions to Brussels rather than simply sending notifications for all of them. […]In this way, both member states and Brussels can become aware of transactions that have not been notified and trigger the relevant national and regional screening mechanisms. The commission would still have a limited ability to influence a member state’s decision over specific investments. But once these potentially risky investments were identified and publicized, media attention and peer pressure could work wonders. – War on the Rocks  


Armed men invaded a religious gathering Wednesday night outside the Liberian capital, Monrovia, police said, triggering a stampede that killed more than two dozen people. – Washington Post 

Sudanese head of judiciary and judges condemned violence against anti-military protesters in a rare public statement on Thursday, while the United States said it would consider unspecified steps against those holding up efforts to resolve Sudan’s political crisis. – Reuters  

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday that Mali’s military government needs to hold delayed elections in “a relatively short amount of time” — not in 2026 as President Assimi Goita recently announced. – Associated Press 

An Islamic State-linked extremist group accused of killing hundreds in northeast Nigeria has released a video purporting to show child soldiers executing two men identified as members of the Nigerian military. – Associated Press 

The Americas

U.S. prosecutors in Miami have detained and charged a second suspect in connection with the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, highlighting progress by American investigators even as the six-month probe in Haiti remains stalled. – Wall Street Journal  

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday said he spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin about cooperation between the two countries. – Associated Press  

Network operators of critical Canadian infrastructure should boost their defenses against Russian state-sponsored threats, Canada’s signals intelligence agency said on Thursday. – Reuters  

Brazil’s top electoral authority, the TSE, is considering whether to ban the messaging app Telegram during the run-up to October elections because it has not responded to requests to help combat the spread of misinformation. – Reuters 

United States

A debilitating, mysterious medical ailment known as Havana Syndrome that has struck hundreds of U.S. diplomats, spies and other personnel world-wide was unlikely caused by attacks from Russia or other foreign adversaries, a Central Intelligence Agency report says. – Wall Street Journal 

Federal prosecutors dropped criminal charges against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology mechanical engineering professor accused of hiding his China ties, saying in a Thursday filing that the government no longer believed it could prove its case at trial. – Wall Street Journal  

On Thursday, US President Joe Biden marked one year since taking the oath of office. Exactly a year ago, as he stood at the western front of the US Capitol, he vowed to “make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world,” and added: “We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” – Jerusalem Post  

Kimberley A. Strassel writes: There is no shame in presidential pivots or resets; they are a feature of most White Houses and can prove lifelines. Mr. Biden’s weird belief that his “once in a generation” White House somehow defies the usual political gravity may prove his undoing. – Wall Street Journal 

Hal Brands writes: The Biden administration appears to be recognizing, perhaps belatedly, that rising prices pose a severe threat to its domestic agenda and political fortunes. Inflation may also have nasty geopolitical effects in a world that hardly seemed stable before. – Bloomberg 

Emma Ashford writes: After all, if Biden is going to be criticized regardless—for example, on the Iranian nuclear negotiations—then he might as well pursue the options he believes will produce the best results, not simply those that are liable to engender the least vitriol from his opponents. […]A more successful foreign policy will require Biden to more frequently live up to that standard. – Foreign Affairs  

Michael Rubin writes: Biden’s aides may now scramble to reverse his gaffe green-lighting a further Russian “minimal incursion” into Ukraine, just as a couple of months ago when they sought to walk back a blunder about U.S. commitment to Taiwan. But the problem is not simply a single or series of gaffes. Instead, it is a projection of weakness and denial that such weakness has consequences. The simple fact is that dictators are attracted to weakness in the way flies are to honey. – Washington Examiner  


A recent cyberattack in Ukraine has heightened concerns in Kyiv that Moscow is plotting to support a land invasion with destructive hacks, although some experts remain puzzled about the Kremlin’s intentions. – Wall Street Journal 

Twitter shook up the top ranks of its security team this week with the termination of the head of security and the exit of the chief information security officer, the company told employees on Wednesday, as its new chief executive reorganizes the social media service. – New York Times 

Alphabet Inc.’s Google escalated its spending on Washington lobbyists last year as the technology behemoth fought antitrust scrutiny from both federal enforcers and new legislation that would change the way some of its most popular products work together. – Bloomberg 

Facebook has apologized to the director of a prominent pro-Israel lobbying group at the United Nations for threatening to close his account, and said it had restored a post from last year that had prompted it to impose restrictions on his page. – Times of Israel 

Annabelle Chapman writes: Yet Pegasus is unlikely to bring down the Law and Justice government. It has ridden out other scandals in the past. Yet even if the Pegasus affair blows over, it once again shows how the Polish government and the EU see the world differently and will be another issue that divides Warsaw and Brussels. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Kevin Sheives writes: The solution to disinformation is not to substitute government power for that of tech giants, or to leave it to the tech giants in the hope their platforms don’t trample the truth. Regulating speech and online expression presents many dangers to democratic ideals and freedom of expression. […]But this vision for a powerful, networked response to meet the global disinformation challenge will fail if the organizations at the front lines are not equipped with the right tools. – War on the Rocks  


Amid the global race toward a militarized space domain, NATO sees its role firmly planted as a coordinator and interlocutor amidst its member states, but demurs from becoming a space-based actor itself, a recently released document shows. – Defense News  

Steps by Lockheed Martin to virtualize its Aegis Combat System are helping underpin the U.S. Navy’s vision for its future integrated combat system as well as the Pentagon’s vision for joint all-domain operations. – Defense News 

Editorial: Congress has authorized $25 billion more to President Biden’s defense request, but that will be pointless if it isn’t followed with an appropriation. The effect would be less proficient sailors and soldiers who don’t have the equipment they need for a fight that may arrive sooner than Americans expect. – Wall Street Journal   

Jerry McGinn and Eric Lofgren write: The United States simply cannot meet the national security challenges it faces over the next decade if the resource allocation process is not brought into the 21st century. The commission on PPBE reform can help bring adaptability and flexibility to how the DoD delivers capabilities to that multifaceted battlefield. It should look for models of success, focus on what matters and move quickly to pilot efforts. – Defense News