Fdd's overnight brief

January 25, 2022

In The News


With talks to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran reaching a critical phase, differences have emerged in the U.S. negotiating team over how tough to be with Tehran and when to walk away, according to people familiar with the negotiations. – Wall Street Journal  

A senior member of the U.S. team negotiating with Iran has left the role amid a report of differences of opinion on the way forward, as the urgency to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal intensifies. – Reuters  

The U.N. General Assembly said Monday that Iran, Guinea and Vanuatu had paid sufficient back dues to the United Nations’ regular operating budget to regain their voting rights in the 193-member world body. – Associated Press 

Iran is ready to consider direct talks with the United States if it feels it can get a good deal with guarantees, its foreign minister said on Monday, adding no decision had yet been made. – Reuters 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made a two day visit to Moscow between January 19-January 21, 2022. Following talks with Vladimir Putin, Raisi gave Moscow a draft of a 20-year-long strategic partnership. […]Those who favored acceding to Raisi’s proposal, saw upgraded relations with Iran as a proper response by two countries who were facing the same “lawless” Western sanctions. It would cement the Russia-China-Iran triangle, and would represent an investment in the future. Those espousing this position took Iran’s protestations that it was not seeking a nuclear weapon at face value. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Paul Wallace and Grant Smith write: If they strike a deal, Iran may be able to raise exports enough that crude prices fall. […] A failure could cause an uptick in shipping and drone strikes in the region. Some might target oil facilities in a similar way to last week’s assault by Houthi rebels on an Abu Dhabi fuel depot or the 2019 bombardment of Saudi Arabia’s critical Abqaiq crude-processing plant. With markets increasingly nervous about the dwindling spare production capacity available to cover disruptions, such an attack could easily trigger a price spike. If Israel or the U.S. launches air strikes against Iran to try and demolish its nuclear sites, crude could jump by as much as 15%, according to Eurasia Group. At today’s prices, that would take it close to or above $100 a barrel. – Bloomberg 


Widespread hunger, a crippled economy and a population in desperate need of assistance. Afghanistan is in the midst of a worsening humanitarian crisis. Most international assistance was cut off after the Taliban took over in August. Hospitals and schools cannot afford to pay their staff, and many people cannot afford to buy food, adding to an already dire hunger crisis.  – Washington Post 

As the Taliban continue to demand humanitarian aid and diplomatic recognition, the United States and other countries and international bodies have insisted that Afghanistan’s new rulers roll back their limits on women’s rights. The issue is a main point of discussion this week as Taliban delegates have begun meeting with international officials in Oslo, Norway. – New York Times 

A son of the Taliban’s founder and an Afghan deputy prime minister have traveled to Moscow in recent days for clandestine talks, former Afghanistan security executives told the Washington Examiner. – Washington Examiner 

Julian E. Barnes, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Charlie Savage write: As weeks have turned into months, some members of the C.I.A.-backed squads — which at times over the past two decades were accused of killing civilians and other wartime abuses — say they feel abandoned, victims of a chaotic withdrawal in which the speed with which departing Afghans reached the United States was often determined by nothing more than what kind of plane they left on. […]But the plight of the commandos underscores the issues continuing to plague the extensive evacuation, vetting and resettlement efforts five months after the abrupt Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August. – New York Times 


Western powers and Turkey accused Syria on Monday of imposing “starvation” and siege warfare in opposition-held areas, as Syrian officials said foreign forces were illegally occupying parts of the country suffering from U.S.-led sanctions. – Reuters 

Kurdish forces locked down a Syrian city Monday to trap Islamic State group fighters who attacked a prison there five days earlier, leaving more than 150 dead in fierce battles. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) charged that the IS militants were using hundreds of minors as “human shields” inside the Ghwayran prison in the northeastern city of Hasakeh. – Agence France-Presse 

American ground forces have joined the fight to retake control of a prison in northeast Syria where Islamic State fighters are holding hundreds of boys hostage, the Pentagon said Monday. After four days of American airstrikes, the fight has become the biggest known American engagement with ISIS since the fall of its so-called caliphate three years ago. – New York Times 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The major question mark is whether these patrols will embolden Syria’s regime and Iranian-backed elements in Syria. Iran could use them as cover to attack Israel or use its proxies to strike at the US and Israel. This could be one part of a multi-stage Russian operation to assert Syrian regime sovereignty. Eventually, that could lead to potential friction. Israel’s leadership will have to weigh these issues and analyze the next steps.  – Jerusalem Post 

Mona Yacoubian writes: Assad appears to be staying in power, and some Middle Eastern states are beginning to normalize ties with him. Even so, the United States can pursue actions that impose some measure of accountability and ease Syria’s humanitarian crisis while addressing the socioeconomic collapse of the region. It is a fine line to tread, but such a response offers the best hope of assuaging Syrians’ considerable suffering. – Foreign Affairs  


Israeli settlers drove through a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank on Monday, throwing rocks through the windows of vehicles and businesses and injuring a teenager, a Palestinian official said. – Associated Press 

Israel is concerned amid Syrian and Russian military jets’ joint patrol on Monday along Syria’s airspace and borders, including the armistice line along the Syrian border with Israel. […] Officials said they wondered what caused Russia’s apparent policy change, after it had enabled the IDF to act freely against the Iranian intrenchment on Syrian soil and even increase the attacks in recent months, to halt the Iranian Revolutionary Gard Corp’s Quds Forces’ plan to establish a Hezbollah like military presence. – Ynet  

A leading Israeli think tank presented its annual strategic survey to President Isaac Herzog on Monday, arguing that Israel’s deepening domestic rifts hamper its ability to develop an integrated, long-term approach to the major challenges it faces. – Times of Israel 


Saad Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon and one of its most prominent politicians for nearly two decades, announced on Monday that he was suspending his political career amid a grave economic collapse that the country’s leaders have failed to stop. – New York Times 

Lebanon’s economic depression “is orchestrated by the country’s elite” and “has come to threaten the country’s long-term stability and social peace,” the World Bank said in a press release on Tuesday attached to its latest report on the country. – Reuters  

Lebanon’s deputy prime minister said a round of talks with the International Monetary Fund that began on Monday would cover topics including the budget, the banking sector and the exchange rate. – Reuters 


Internet services were largely restored in Yemen on Tuesday, residents said, after a four-day outage following Saudi-led coalition air strikes which damaged telecoms infrastructure. – Reuters  

Twice in the past week, Yemen’s rebels have launched attacks with missiles and drones on the United Arab Emirates, a major escalation for one of the world’s most protracted conflicts. The attacks underscore how the war that has ground on for over seven years in the corner of the Arabian Peninsula can flare into a regional danger. One of this week’s attacks targeted an Emirati military base hosting U.S. and British forces. – Associated Press  

Dennis Ross writes: Rarely has it been more important for an American administration to show it will stand by a friend in response to an attack that could have resulted in many civilian casualties, including Americans. It is not just our friends who need to see this but those who seem so determined to challenge the United States and our desire to shape an international order. From Vladimir Putin to Xi Jinping to Ali Khamenei, it is essential to counteract their perception of our risk-aversion and demonstrate that their actions are making us more risk-ready. Deterrence demands nothing less. – The Hill 

Katherine Zimmerman and Nicholas A. Heras write: The Houthis’ incorporation into the IRGC’s proxy warfare against Saudi Arabia and the Abraham Accords members means that the current U.S. approach to managing the Houthi threat as part of the Yemen conflict will fail. […]As long as the Houthis control northern Yemen and receive IRGC support, they will provide Iran with a southern front for its Axis of Resistance in a wider regional war against Israel and its partners. The United States must pay attention to Yemen, not just for Yemen’s sake, but for the security of the Middle East. – Foreign Policy 

Gulf States

Kuwait’s government said Monday that it had referred two senior military officers for prosecution in a major corruption case related to the country’s purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon combat planes, after an investigation into the jets’ improperly inflated price. – Associated Press

The U.S. military said on Monday that the “combined efforts” of both American and United Arab Emirates forces “successfully prevented” a missile attack in Abu Dhabi. – The Hill 

A. J. Caschetta writes: As more Arab and Muslim nations sign deals with Israel, each will surely come under new scrutiny by academics who barely pretend to tolerate Israel’s existence. Watch your back Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, Sudan, et al. – the BDS-ers are coming for you. – Arutz Sheva  

Middle East & North Africa

A Libyan parliament committee said on Monday the chamber should choose a new interim prime minister, a move that could set major factions against each other in the wake of a failed election. – Reuters 

Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune arrived in Cairo on Monday for a two-day visit focusing on bilateral ties and the turmoil in Libya, officials said. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi received Tebboune at the Cairo international airport, according to the Egyptian leader’s office. – Associated Press 

Eddy Acevedo writes: It is in our foreign policy and national security interests to support a strong, prosperous Jordan. Helping American companies to tap into new markets could spur job creation and business opportunities for Jordanians and the myriad refugees. This would improve Jordan’s economic and political situation, ultimately benefiting the U.S. as well. – The Hill 

Salem Alketbi writes: The bottom line is that economy, trade and investment are key to redrawing the rules of the post-COVID-19 world order. The power that states seek is economic power, supported by various sources of soft power, such as diplomacy and scientific advancement. All these factors reinforce the idea of growing Chinese influence not only in the Middle East but also globally. The limits of this expansion, however, are a function of the new realism in US policy. – Jerusalem Post 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea launched two suspected cruise missiles on Tuesday, South Korea’s military said, in what would be the Kim Jong Un regime’s fifth weapons test of the month. – Wall Street Journal  

South Korea’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in 11 years in 2021 helped by a jump in exports and construction activity, tempering declines in capital investment and a slow recovery in the coronavirus-hit service sectors. – Reuters 

Choe Sang-Hun writes: Though Mr. Kim has often been depicted abroad as a leader potentially capable of opening up his isolated country for the sake of economic development, his nuclear weapons are, as North Korea has put it, “not a bargaining chip.”[…]For that strategy to work, Mr. Kim will need continued help from China in resisting any new international sanctions. North Korea’s economic challenges were deepened two years ago when it shut its border with China to fight the pandemic. This month, Beijing confirmed that “through friendly consultations,” China and North Korea reopened their border for freight trains. – New York Times 


China sent several dozen military aircraft on sorties near Taiwan, launching its largest such show of aerial force in months as two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups concluded training exercises with Japan in the region over the weekend. – Wall Street Journal 

Hong Kong’s top judge on Monday said the city’s vaunted judicial independence was “a fact”, acknowledging international and local concerns as prosecutions mount under a Chinese-imposed national security law. – Reuters  

A rapid withdrawal of stimulus by some countries could hurt China’s exports, an official with the Ministry of Commerce said, as he warned of “unprecedented” difficulties ahead this year. – Bloomberg  

Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping has not discouraged Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching a major attack on Ukraine, according to Chinese and Russian officials. – Washington Examiner  

China has launched a month-long campaign to clean up online content during next week’s lunar new year festival, in its latest effort to reshape behaviour on the internet. The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s top internet regulator, has instructed officials to sweep away “illegal content and information” and target celebrity fan groups, online abuse, money worship, child influencers and the homepages of media sites. – Financial Times 

Two U.S. Navy carrier strike groups are currently drilling in the South China Sea amid the latest show of force of Chinese aircraft into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone on Sunday. – USNI News  

Editorial: The problem with this is that China’s communist regime is perfectly willing to extend its human rights abuses far beyond China’s borders — even right into our own backyard. […]The regime also is known to send agents overseas or employ nonstate actors in foreign countries to harass and intimidate targets. – Washington Examiner 


Myanmar’s military took power in a coup on Feb. 1 last year after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. Election monitoring groups found no evidence of mass fraud. – Reuters   

Indonesia and Singapore signed on Tuesday a bilateral extradition agreement, a move that Jakarta expects to help authorities in their effort to bring to justice people accused of stashing offshore billions of dollars in state money. – Reuters   

Taiwan Vice President William Lai left on Tuesday to shore up a shaky relationship with Honduras and attend the swearing in of its new leader, an event U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is also going to, potentially giving the two a chance to meet. – Reuters   

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha will pay an official visit to Saudi Arabia this week, the first by a Thai head of government since relations between the two nations were soured more than three decades ago by a massive jewel theft and the killing of four Saudi diplomats. – Associated Press 

Laura Pitel writes: That success, along with the upheaval in Kazakhstan, has spurred suggestions from some senior former Turkish military officers that the Turkic Council should have a military dimension. That would raise eyebrows in Moscow, where Ankara’s jostle for influence in parts of the former Soviet Union is part of a complex relationship of co-operation and competition with Russia that extends to Libya, Syria and Ukraine. – Financial Times 


The financial options being considered to punish President Vladimir Putin if Russia invades Ukraine range from the sweeping to the acutely personal — from cutting Russia off from U.S. dollars and international banking to slapping sanctions on a former Olympic gymnast reported to be Putin’s girlfriend. – Associated Press 

The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday shortened the usual extension of two general licenses for Russian commercial vehicle manufacturer GAZ Group, a Treasury official told Reuters, as the United States seeks to deter Russia from invading Ukraine. – Reuters  

Eight senators from both parties met Monday evening to hammer out a Russia sanctions bill that would bolster U.S. efforts to deter Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine, multiple people familiar with the discussion told POLITICO. – Politico 

Editorial: For now, it is more important to make sure Ukraine has defensive weapons and that its NATO-member neighbors are prepared to deal with potential cross-border consequences — from refugees to spillover combat — that Russian aggression might create. On these points, too, the administration appears to be striking the right balance, albeit after previous hesitation based on anxiety about provoking Mr. Putin. – Washington Post 

Jillian Kay Melchior writes: For Mr. Putin, all of these unconventional acts of warfare would carry the added benefit of testing the West’s resolve. If Russia refrains from an invasion but engages in a more insidious form of aggression, does the West have the will to impose serious consequences? Mr. Putin senses weakness, and Ukrainians sense danger. – Wall Street Journal  

Andrew Freedman and Ben Geman write: Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns. […]Should Russia choose to cut off the supplies in the middle of winter in response to the imposition of Ukraine-related sanctions, energy costs would skyrocket and millions could shiver amid power outages. This would put pressure on political leaders to weaken the sanctions. – AXIOS 

Natia Seskuria writes: Moscow is always looking for the hidden hand of the West in Ukraine and Georgia. The reality, however, is different. Having been traumatized by wars and constant Russian attempts to cause destabilization and chaos through the use of hybrid tools, Georgians and Ukrainians have a realistic view of the Russian threat. Therefore, it is hardly a surprise that the people of Georgia and Ukraine strive to be part of the Western democratic world. Russia lost the war for the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens a long time ago. The Kremlin can only offer corrupt institutions, violation of human rights, and authoritarian rule with no free media or elections. Georgians and Ukrainians fought hard to leave all that behind. – Middle East Institute  

Noah Rothman writes: With Russia bearing down on Ukraine and Western nations demonstrating more willingness to deter Moscow from starting another shooting war on the European continent, some on the American right are wondering why the West is invested in Ukrainian security at all. […]What we cannot do is consign Ukraine to Russian domination. Even if we could, the Ukrainians themselves have proven they would never accept it. That is a challenge, indeed, but it’s a manageable challenge. By contrast, the wages of appeasement would be too costly to bear. – Commentary Magazine 


NATO allies are bolstering the alliance’s eastern flank in response to Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine, as the European Union set out plans for loans and grants for Kyiv worth more than $1.3 billion and the Pentagon ordered thousands of troops to prepare for possible deployment. – Wall Street Journal  

The U.K. has pushed itself to the forefront of European efforts to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine, becoming the first major Western country to join the U.S. in providing lethal weapons to Kyiv. – Wall Street Journal 

Ukraine has struggled to maintain a sense of stability since it fully established itself as a sovereign country in 1991, and has been at war since 2014. But with 100,000 Russian troops gathered nearby, threatening Europe’s biggest land war since the 1940s, people there say something feels different this time. – Wall Street Journal  

A British court allowed Julian Assange to take his appeal against extradition to the U.S. to the U.K. Supreme Court, marking another setback in Washington’s yearslong pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder on espionage charges. – Wall Street Journal  

President Biden on Monday held a video call with European leaders to discuss joint efforts to deter further aggression by the Kremlin against Kyiv, amid a massive buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine’s border that has raised fears of a renewed invasion. – Washington Post 

The Ukrainian soldiers watch and wait, nervously peering through a periscope from an icy trench at a forward observation post in eastern Ukraine. […]But how, exactly, military action might start has become an anxious guessing game for military analysts, for Western and Ukrainian officials — and not least for Ukrainian soldiers, who are likely to be the first to find out. – New York Times 

Germany’s refusal to join other NATO members in providing weapons to Ukraine has annoyed some allies and raised questions about Berlin’s resolve in standing up to Russia. – Associated Press 

The European Union aims to help Ukraine with a 1.2 billion euro financial aid package to mitigate the effects of the conflict with Russia, which has amassed troops and heavy weapons on Ukraine’s border, EU Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen said. – Reuters 

Latvia’s defense minister says no country in the West wants a conflict with Russia, but that Ukraine has a right to defend itself as fellow NATO Baltic states send assistance to Kyiv. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania announced last week they would provide defensive aid to Ukraine, including anti-armor and antiaircraft missiles after the United States approved the transfer of the U.S. supplied weapons. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Natural gas prices in Europe declined on Tuesday as Russia’s gas shipments increased and weather forecasts pointed to milder temperatures in the region. – Bloomberg  

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s decision to withdraw some Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv was “premature” and plays into Russia’s hands, according to a prominent Ukrainian diplomat. – Washington Examiner  

President Vladimir Putin has insisted during the crisis over Ukraine that Nato should stop its encroachment towards Russia’s borders. But his demand is having unintended consequences in Europe’s far north, reviving talk of whether Finland and Sweden should join the military alliance. – Financial Times 

Editorial: The U.S. and West need to be prudent about when to push back against regional aggressors, but helping Ukraine stay out of Moscow’s maw is crucial for preventing a larger threat to European peace. – Wall Street Journal  

Editorial: Most remarkable is that the critics of nuclear and natural gas are ignoring the current economic and political crisis wrought by their policies. Vladimir Putin is the main beneficiary of Europe’s climate obsessions and hostility to fossil fuels and nuclear power. He has energy leverage over the Continent that no dictator should be able to have. Brussels is belatedly trying to correct this blunder by encouraging smarter energy investments. – Wall Street Journal  

Adam Taylor writes: Such views are not as isolated as you may think. There are plenty of officials and experts who believe that Russia does not seek a conflict and its military buildup is a ploy designed to force concessions from the West. However, there is disagreement on whether his demands, which include an end to the eastern expansion of military alliance NATO, should be met. – Washington Post 

Gideon Rachman writes: However, French and German instincts on Russia are also widely mistrusted in the rest of Europe. Macron has never disguised his ambition to be the dominant political figure in the EU — an ambition that may seem more plausible, now that Angela Merkel has stepped down after 16 years as German chancellor. But most of Europe’s smaller countries look to America to guarantee their security. – Financial Times 

Tom Rogan writes: China and Russia would certainly revel in yet another U.S. abandonment of a friend in less than one year. But I can nearly guarantee that some U.S. personnel, especially from the CIA and the military, will want to stay behind even if an invasion begins. Biden should thus take a lead for U.S. interests and ensure that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv is ready for the hard days ahead. – Washington Examiner   

Robert Hunter writes: The message from the Geneva meeting last week between US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was clear: the crisis has moved into the dealmaking stage. It’s just the terms that have to be worked out. The US and Nato, along with Russia if Putin understands where his country’s real interests lie, will have a chance again to pursue a Europe whole and free and at peace. – Financial Times   

Frederick W. Kagan and George Barros write: Deploying forces to Poland now can also help deter Putin from adventurism in Ukraine by demonstrating America’s willingness to contemplate military responses to military threats. It would mitigate another weakness in the U.S. and NATO response to this crisis thus far by imposing an actual cost on Putin for protracting the crisis itself rather than simply threatening to impose costs if Putin attacks Ukraine. – The Hill   

Mark Temnycky writes: Ukraine’s hopes are pinned on the West and its fears to the east. There will be more help, but the country is not a NATO member and will be asked to fight alone. Many Western training missions and advisers may well be ordered to leave, in the event of war. No one knows how the current situation will play out, but one thing is certain. The country will not willingly return to the Russian fold. Any attack, however “limited,” will simply deepen the steadily growing hostility of Ukrainian public opinion toward Russia. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Military forces seized control of Burkina Faso in a coup and detained the country’s president after a wave of street protests against his failure to stem the advance of Islamist militants in the north, opposition officials and Western diplomats said, thrusting the West African nation into uncertainty. – Wall Street Journal  

Mali’s government said on Monday it had asked Denmark to immediately withdraw troops deployed to the West African nation as part of a French-led counter-terrorism task force because it was not consulted and the deployment failed to follow protocol. – Reuters  

Three demonstrators were killed on Monday when Sudanese security forces fired live rounds and teargas during protests against military rule that attracted tens of thousands of people across the country, medics said. – Reuters  

The International Monetary will present an updated macroeconomic framework to all of Chad’s creditors by the end of January, an IMF spokesperson said on Monday, amid pressure for creditors to finalize a debt restructuring plan with the African country. – Reuters  

The chair of a World Health Organization body cut off Ethiopia’s envoy on Monday as he tried to deliver a speech criticising the global organisation’s leader and postponed a decision on a request from Addis Ababa to investigate his actions. – Reuters  

Andres Schipani writes: It is still unclear what influence Beijing will in practice wield, if the new envoy will push peace talks. During a visit to Addis Ababa last month, in what was seen as a veiled criticism of the US, Wang said that “we do not meddle in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, and we also oppose any external forces’ interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, and in particular disagree with the practice of some external forces to pressure Ethiopia”. – Financial Times   

Bulama Bukarti writes: In 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, leading to its rebranding as Islamic State West Africa Province and the inflow of financial support and operational training. The fact that these transnational relationships are now real, however, does not take anything away from the importance of questions related to the origins of Boko Haram. Even with these relationships, Boko Haram remains highly localized, and thus the local factors that gave rise to its emergence and resilience need to be understood and addressed. – War on the Rocks 

The Americas

There is openness inside Mexico’s government to addressing U.S. concerns about proposed Mexican legislation aimed at strengthening state control of the power market, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Monday. – Reuters   

A U.S. offer to loosen sanctions against Venezuela’s government “is not indefinite” and could be reversed if the ruling party does not return to talks with the opposition, opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Monday. – Reuters  

Brazil’s relations with China have been stormy under its current far-right government and would stand to improve greatly if former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were elected in October, according to one of the leftist’s close aides. – Reuters  

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to bolster ties with Latin American partners in a series of phone calls to his counterparts in Cuba and Venezuela at a time when tensions with the United States were simmering over Ukraine. – Newsweek 

United States

The U.S. military on Monday put about 8,500 troops on alert to be ready to deploy to Europe if needed, potentially on very short notice, in the latest effort to reassure jittery NATO allies in the face of a Russian military buildup near Ukraine. – Reuters  

Walter Russell Mead writes: This will be only the beginning. The Ukraine crisis has not yet peaked, China and Russia aren’t going anywhere, and they won’t cease probing America’s global position for weaknesses. The Biden administration will be defined, like it or not, by how effectively it responds to challenges it once hoped to avoid. […]Mr. Biden has no more choice than his predecessors did. History is again knocking on the White House door. The world will be watching to see how the president handles his unwelcome guest. – Wall Street Journal  

Branko Marcetic writes: Biden entered politics admiring and drawing comparisons to John F. Kennedy, who was also called weak and an appeaser by those who measure toughness by recklessness. Decades later, there’s no question Kennedy’s way was right. Should Biden resist the calls for war, he won’t be popular in Washington, but he, too, will be remembered more kindly than his critics. – Washington Post 


Facebook says it’s helping millions of the world’s poorest people get online through apps and services that allow them to use internet data free. Internal company documents show that many of these people end up being charged in amounts that collectively add up to an estimated millions of dollars a month. – Wall Street Journal  

Alphabet Inc.’s Google deceived consumers by recording their location even after users tried to turn off the company’s tracking on their smartphones and web browsers, according to lawsuits by Washington, D.C., and three other states. – Wall Street Journal  

A group of pro-democracy hackers calling themselves “Cyber Partisans” said Monday they had infiltrated the Belarusian rail network in an effort to “disrupt” the movement of Russian troops into the country as tensions over a potential renewed invasion of Ukraine grow. – Washington Post 

Hackers launched a cyber attack on Canada’s foreign ministry last week and some services are still down, officials said on Monday without disclosing who Ottawa thought was responsible. – Reuters  


Seven U.S. military personnel were hurt on Monday when an F-35C warplane had a “landing mishap” on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea and the pilot ejected, the U.S Navy said. – Reuters  

The combat system for the Navy’s newest and costliest warship, the $13 billion Gerald R. Ford, “has yet to demonstrate that it can effectively” defend the aircraft carrier from anti-ship missiles and other threats, according to a new assessment by the Pentagon’s testing office. – Bloomberg   

The U.S. Navy must dedicate forces to pushing back against Russian activity throughout the European theater in the coming weeks, two lawmakers said, even as the world’s focus is on Ukraine’s land borders with Russia and Belarus. – Defense News