Fdd's overnight brief

January 25, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


An Iranian archer who lost sight in her left eye after being shot by security forces has said she has “no regrets” about joining nationwide protests. Iranian authorities have cracked down on more than four months of anti-regime protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, arrested for allegedly violating strict dress rules for women. – Agence France-Presse

Iran’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Mohammad Ghobadloo against his death sentence on a charge of “corruption on Earth,” raising fears among his legal team that he may be executed in the near future. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Biden’s administration’s Iran policy, beset by criticism that it is too dovish on Tehran’s bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters and the clerical’s regime ambition to build a nuclear weapons device, is facing new blowback from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, former American ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, and European politicians. – Fox News

Russia and Iran are exploring whether Moscow could provide its most advanced attack helicopters to Tehran, according to new reports. – Newsweek

The resolution approved by the European Parliament last week recommending that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be added to the European Union’s list of terror groups has caused a storm. – Haaretz

Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Dana Alexander Gray, Annika Ganzeveld, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Iran likely seeks to consolidate its military influence in Syria, especially as Russia reportedly decreases its military footprint there. The Kremlin has reportedly drawn down its forces in Syria within the past year to send reinforcements to Ukraine, leaving a vacuum for Iranian and Iranian-backed forces to fill. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad in May 2022, allegedly to discuss transferring Russian positions to Iran and its proxies. The regime may seek to further leverage a decreased Russian military presence in Syria by offering the Assad regime equipment and support that Russia cannot provide due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. – Institute for the Study of War

Eliza Campbell writes: The international community, and the U.S. private sector in particular, have significant weight to bring to bear in combating tech-enabled repression in Iran, including by potentially restoring access to circumvention tools like domain fronting, and by continuing to rule in favor of freedom of speech for protesters, as in the case of Meta’s recent ruling allowing a prominent Iranian protest phrase on its platforms. While the state’s tools for internet suppression are not infallible, 2022 showed that they may be infinitely adaptable, and any solutions must center the value of freedom of information as an inherent right — in Iran and around the world. – Middle East Institute

Russia & Ukraine

The Biden administration is poised to send a significant number of Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine, settling a rift that threatened the unity of the alliance supporting Ukraine at a pivotal moment in the war, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Fear that the U.S. could eventually dial back its support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion is adding to the pressure on Europe to increase its own military and financial aid to Kyiv. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has removed nearly a dozen top officials as he tries to contain a series of corruption scandals and shore up Western confidence in his administration at a critical moment in the war. – Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon is racing to boost its production of artillery shells by 500 percent within two years, pushing conventional ammunition production to levels not seen since the Korean War as it invests billions of dollars to make up for shortfalls caused by the war in Ukraine and to build up stockpiles for future conflicts. – New York Times

The incoming U.S. ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy has held a meeting on Tuesday with Moscow’s top envoy in Washington DC Anatoly Antonov, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. – Reuters

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday the frigate Admiral Gorshkov tested its strike capabilities in the western Atlantic Ocean. – Reuters

Russian lawmakers are preparing legislation that will make it mandatory for people to book a time and place in advance to cross the border, raising fresh fears that the Kremlin could impose more restrictions on travel in and out of the country. – Reuters

A majority of Americans still support sending military aid to Ukraine, but that majority is thinning, according to new polling from global research firm Ipsos. 54 percent of Americans support sending weapons to Ukraine, down from 59 percent last spring, according to the new survey. – The Hill

Russia’s war in Ukraine has significantly raised the risk of global self-annihilation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned Tuesday, moving forward the Doomsday Clock to its closest point to midnight ever. – The Hill

Russia has refused to reschedule a key meeting with U.S. nuclear negotiators that it canceled in November, a U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday, further delaying efforts to replace an expiring nuclear arms treaty between Washington and Moscow. – The Hill

Russia is still able to import significant amounts of technology for use by its defense industry despite unprecedented global sanctions following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a study. – Newsweek

Russia has reportedly lost so many soldiers in the Ukrainian war during the last 11 months that it could possibly see 150,000 total dead by the war’s 1-month mark next month. A more conservative number predicts 140,000 dead Russian soldiers by a month from today. – Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to launch a fresh offensive in Ukraine in the spring or early summer, according to one of the world’s leading military think tanks. – Newsweek

Russia’s newly appointed top commander in Ukraine has described the campaign he now heads as a fight with the collective West and said that NATO had spurred his country’s military expansion. – Newsweek

Eleven months of unprecedented Western military aid to Ukraine means that the United States and its NATO allies “cannot afford” for Russia to win the ongoing war, according to Kyiv’s former national security chief. – Newsweek

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the CIA had discussed the assassination of Wagner mercenary group head Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch claimed on Tuesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

One of Russia’s key operational commanders in Ukraine has likely been dismissed from this role, the United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry said in a Tuesday morning intelligence update. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Permission from Berlin to allow countries with Leopards to re-export them to Ukraine — expected to be granted shortly to Warsaw — could pave the way for a number of other European countries to contribute. This is a welcome breakthrough. Ukraine is fighting a war to defend not just its own homeland but wider European democracy and security. If it is to end the conflict on its terms, it needs — with all due regard for the risks — to be granted the tools for the job. – Financial Times

Adam Taylor, William Neff, and  Daniel Wolfe write: However, the Biden administration has argued that the U.S.-made tanks have a number of disadvantages for the field in Ukraine. They use jet fuel, which is far more difficult to obtain compared to the diesel used by the Leopard 2. Though the tank once weighed 60 tons, it has ballooned in weight over the years; new versions can weigh nearly 75 tons, which adds logistical difficulties.[…]They also have complicated maintenance requirements, U.S. officials have told reporters, and require specialized training. – Washington Post

David Ignatius writes: This cohesiveness will become even more important as the Ukraine war moves toward an endgame. This year, Ukraine and its allies will keep fighting to expel Russian invaders. But as in the final years of World War II, planning has already begun for the postwar order — and construction of a system of military and political alliances that can restore and maintain the peace that Russia shattered. – Washington Post

Michael McFaul writes: It is hard to escape the sense though that the best days for Putin and his ideas are behind him. Like Leonid Brezhnev in Afghanistan, Putin has overreached in Ukraine. He and his regime will never recover. Even if the process of unwinding begins in earnest only once he is out of power, Putin’s colossal failure in Ukraine could well be the beginning of the end of Putinism. The Russian president’s recent behavior suggests that even he might understand this fact. – Washington Post

Joseph Bosco writes: It is more likely the case that the introduction of these heavy weapons was widely considered — especially by Russia — as an escalation of Western involvement in the war on Ukraine’s side.  Neither Washington nor Berlin has wished to be the party responsible for escalation, even though Putin has consistently increased his aggression even when the West holds back. Preemptive restraint has only whetted Putin’s appetite. – The Hill

Tom Rogan writes: The problem with midranking corruption is that it fosters the cultural expectation of lower-ranking personnel to do the same thing. It also inculcates midranking officials with the belief that promotion is about accessing more lucrative corruption rather than providing more effective command. Put simply, while positive, Ukraine’s current crackdown must be followed by much broader and more aggressive action. – Washington Examiner

Leonid Bershidsky writes: There is, however, a major difference. In Russia, if its regime survives, these profiteers will be able to enjoy life without shame if the Kremlin sees them as allies. Ukraine’s grifters will never feel as secure. The country’s anarchic, justice-obsessed, grassroots-powered civil society and a media that is fundamentally allied to it will always harass the thieves even if it can’t immediately defeat them. That this feature of Ukrainian democracy has survived a year of the brutal invasion and the accompanying screw-tightening  is evidence, if not of a systemic shift, then of the same Ukrainian spirit that has denied Russia a quick military victory and may yet deny it a slow one, too. – Bloomberg

Dymetro Kuleba writes: Those who sincerely seek peace should join the consolidated international efforts on implementing the Ukrainian Peace Formula. We designed it in a flexible way allowing states to commit only to those elements of the formula which they fully share and take leadership in certain specific areas of peacebuilding efforts without committing to the other ones. – Politico

Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Western states’ provision of main battle tanks to Ukraine will help enable Ukraine to conduct mechanized warfare to defeat the Russian military and liberate Ukrainian territory. ISW previously assessed that the West has contributed to Ukraine’s inability to take advantage of having pinned Russian forces in Bakhmut by slow-rolling or withholding weapons systems and supplies essential for large-scale counteroffensive operations. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny previously emphasized in December 2022 that Ukraine needs 300 main battle tanks (among other weapon systems) to enable Ukrainian counteroffensives. – Institute for the Study of War


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise trip to Jordan on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah, who the royal court said underlined the need for Israel to respect the status quo of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. – Reuters

The head of the United Nations agency that delivers basic services to millions of Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday that certain Arab countries’ rapprochement with Israel should pose no obstacle to their funding of the organization. – Reuters

The International Court of Justice confirmed on January 20 that it had been formally requested by the United Nations General Assembly to issue an “advisory opinion” on “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.” The Assembly passed a resolution on that head on December 30. – New York Sun

Former CIA director and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, in his new book, Never Give An Inch, reveals that during his term, the agency rescued Mossad agents in imminent peril at the personal request of then-Mossad director Yossi Cohen. – Jerusalem Post

Hamas officials told the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, that the video of Avera Mengistu was published to assess if there was a chance of reaching a new prisoner swap deal with Israel. – Jerusalem Post

President Isaac Herzog departed for Brussels on Wednesday morning where he will meet with international leaders and discuss the Iranian nuclear threat and Israelis being held captive by Hamas, ahead of his planned speech before the European Parliament on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. – Jerusalem Post

An Israeli organization known as Shlom Asiraich has been collecting tax-exempt donations from the US and using it to help financially support some of the country’s most notorious Jewish extremists and convicts, a new report by Israeli investigative reporting team Shomrim and The Associated Press revealed. – Jerusalem Post

The government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary could undermine democracy and set Israel on a collision course with United States, potentially endangering crucial strategic ties with its greatest ally, a leading think tank warned Monday. – Times of Israel

11 Democratic and Republican members of Congress on Monday called for the firing of the UN’s special rapporteur on Palestine, Francesca Albanese, for her “outrageous” antisemitic statements. – Algemeiner

The British Government announced on Tuesday that Simon Walters has been appointed the new UK Ambassador to Israel. Walters will take up his appointment during August of 2023 and will succeed Neil Wigan, who has served in the role for the past several years and will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. – Arutz Sheva

Bret Stephens writes: After Israel’s last election, I wrote that it was wrong to say that Israel faced impending fascism. I still think that’s right: Israel’s civil society remains powerfully motivated, its military leaders remain committed to democratic norms, and even Netanyahu had to bow to the court by firing Deri. Other democracies have survived far worse leaders, including, quite recently, ours. But if Israel is to persevere, it also must maintain the moral respect of its honest friends. Too bad for it that, today, the Jewish people’s greatest leader resides in Kyiv rather than Jerusalem. – New York Times

James Stavridis writes: Preparing intelligently for war is a good way to prevent the need for actually fighting one. Replenishing the war reserve in Israel will help deter Iranian adventurism, tamp down options for mischief by Hezbollah and keep Syrian forces away from the Israeli border. And of course, providing older ammunition to the Ukrainians is good for democracy everywhere. – Bloomberg

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The message of these drills shows how far the Israel-US partnership has come in the last decades since the Gulf War and the Global War on Terror. Juniper Oak is a curtain raiser on the future of combat in the Middle East. – Jerusalem Post

Herb Keinon writes: What might be true of local Arabs not wanting to test Ben-Gvir, may also be true of Israel’s enemies outside the country’s borders. At least for now. Whatever the reason, Israel is enjoying a welcome period of relative quiet. And how is it using that time? By fighting internally. – Jerusalem Post

Gil Troy writes: Israel has an historic opportunity right now. Iran’s evil mullohacracy faces its greatest challenge, with daily demonstrations led by brave women, now joined by equally courageous men. If that regime fell, Israel – and the democratic world – would be infinitely safer. Having done so much to warn the West of that government’s dangers, especially when the Obama administration underestimated its wickedness, your priority should be spearheading the Western push against it now. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: Now Netanyahu is back in charge of Israel’s government. As the Institute for National Security Studies recently remarked: “The man who over the past decade enthusiastically championed the development of Israel’s relations with China must chart Israel’s future path between China and the United States, and between the economy and national security.” – Jerusalem Post

Efraim Inbar writes: Despite its growing popularity, it is misleading to portray Hamas as the only alternative to the PA leadership. Indeed, the Hamas rule in Gaza is not a successful experiment; and the allure of Islamic radicalism is fading. Chaos, as a temporary situation, is not necessarily the worst-case scenario. Israel should not shudder at the prospect of the PA taking a fall. – Jerusalem Post


The U.S. Treasury said on Tuesday it was placing sanctions on Lebanese money exchanger Hassan Moukalled and his business for alleged financial ties to blacklisted group Hezbollah. – Reuters

On the outskirts of this southern Lebanese village, workers in a pickup truck parked at a nature reserve named after a fallen fighter of the militant Hezbollah group. They took two large eucalyptus tree seedlings out of the truck and planted them. – Associated Press

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As the crisis continues, Hezbollah continues to entrench. It continues to build watchtowers and fortifications in southern Lebanon and to threaten Israel. Israel and US Central Command are carrying out large-scale military drills this week. Hezbollah knows that it must tread carefully. It also benefits from the vacuum of power at the heart of Beirut. – Jerusalem Post


At least 157 people have died in Afghanistan’s harsh winter, a Taliban official said Tuesday, with the death toll doubling in less than a week as millions face bitter temperatures with minimal humanitarian aid. – CNN

A teenager has been found guilty of stabbing an Afghan refugee to death just hours after he received a non-custodial sentence for possessing a Rambo knife. – Telegraph

Dozens of ethnic Kyrgyz from Afghanistan’s remote Wakhan Corridor are calling on the government in Bishkek to repatriate them to their ancestral homeland so their children can get the education that the Taliban has denied them. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Hundreds of Afghan men staged a protest in the eastern city of Khost on January 24 to express anger at the burning of the Koran in the Swedish capital over the weekend. Swedish-Danish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan on January 21 set fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in front of Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm.  – Agence France-Presse

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said on Tuesday that “major progress” in an asylum case for Afghan soldier Abdul Wasi Safi is expected in the next few days. – The Hill

Thomas Kasza writes: Tremendous advances in military medicine have been made during 20 years of war, but there is no coverage offered for a battered conscience. If I want help from the Veteran’s Administration, I lie. I lie and say this impotent, lonesome anger bloomed from a tunnel outside Kandahar where some Taliban fighters thought they were safe from the explosives I carried. – New York Times


Turkey postponed a key meeting with Sweden and Finland that was intended to hash out differences over their bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Turkish officials said Tuesday, intensifying a standoff over an expansion of the alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Turkey’s foreign ministry said Tuesday it summoned the Dutch ambassador following a demonstration targeting Islam’s holy book, days after a similar protest in Sweden tensed relations. – Associated Press

Former NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom was in Vatican City for a children’s basketball game when he was hit with alarming news: Turkey placed a $500,000 bounty on him. After the announcement, a range of hitmen, serial killers, and members of the mafia could have been on his tail, eager to cash in on the lucrative reward for his capture. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Bringing Finland and Sweden into NATO is critical to deterring Vladimir Putin and strengthening Europe’s defenses against future threats. The message should be clear: An alliance member that willfully harms the security of the group isn’t an ally at all. – Bloomberg

Benny Avni writes: Washington has little leverage over Ankara these days, and like Finland and Sweden seems to be resigned to the idea that any changes in NATO’s membership now depend on Mr. Erdogan’s campaign calendar. The strongmen at Ankara and Moscow couldn’t be happier. – New York Sun

Tom Rogan writes: To emphasize, an alliance has no value unless its members retain shared trust. Under Orban and Erdogan, Hungary and Turkey can no longer command that trust within NATO. Until that changes, they must be separated from this alliance in which they now do more harm than good. – Washington Examiner


The judge probing the 2020 Beirut blast has charged Lebanon’s top public prosecutor, the then-premier and other senior current and former officials in connection with the devastating explosion, judicial sources said and court summons show. – Reuters

For Lebanese desperate to see accountability over the catastrophic Beirut port explosion, investigator Judge Tarek Bitar symbolizes hope that justice may one day be served in a country where impunity has long been the norm. – Reuters

Lebanon’s top prosecutor on Tuesday told Judge Tarek Bitar that his probe into the Beirut port blast remains suspended, according to correspondence seen by Reuters, a day after Bitar unexpectedly resumed his investigation. – Reuters

Gulf States

The publisher of The Washington Post on Tuesday slammed former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his comments on U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist at the paper who was killed by Saudi Arabia in 2018. – The Hill

The White House responded to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s criticism of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi by touting President Joe Biden’s efforts to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the brutal 2018 murder. – Washington Examiner

A Democratic member of Congress said Monday that they and others in the party would likely object to the US selling advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia, even in exchange for Riyadh normalizing relations with Israel, but acknowledged that such opposition would presumably not be enough to block an agreement. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Khashoggi’s journalism, including his criticism of the Saudi despot, was in the best tradition of American values of free expression, shining a light on dark corners of the world. Mr. Pompeo reveals that he is estranged from these principles. – Washington Post

Michael Rubin writes: The fact that Congress gives the Kurdistan Regional Government a free pass on religious freedom violations only encourages Masrour to double down on discrimination. Enough is enough. It is time Secretary of State Antony Blinken place Iraqi Kurdistan on the State Department’s religious freedom watch list. – Washington Examiner

Jack Detsch writes:  In the wake of Sudani’s comments, a militia calling itself the International Resistance Faction claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb attack on a U.S. convoy traveling near Baghdad. “[Sudani’s] statement was controversial. It’s already drawing a lot of gnashing of teeth in the political space in Iraq,” said Lord of CNAS. “I think the larger problem for Centcom is that there is seemingly absolutely no planning or vision about what the future of the U.S.-Iraq relationship looks like or should look like.” – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

Algeria’s powerful army chief is on a discreet but extraordinary official visit to Paris, the first by a top-ranked Algerian general since independence from France more than six decades ago. – Associated Press

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi begins a visit to India on Wednesday where he will meet business leaders and be a guest of honour at India’s Jan. 26 Republic Day. – Reuters

The past few weeks have been a reckoning for Egypt’s unsustainable economy. Since 2013, when Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi seized power in a coup, it has been characterised by a moribund private sector, large twin deficits and debt-fuelled state spending on infrastructure projects, some of dubious value. – Economist

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who returned last weekend from leading a group of fellow senators on a delegation to Abraham Accords member countries, told Jewish Insider yesterday that she sees opportunities for the Senate to work this year on efforts to expand Middle East cooperation on air-defense and water-resiliency projects through the Arab-Israeli agreements. – Jewish Insider

Korean Peninsula

For these five men who fled Russia to avoid conscription in the war against Ukraine, Incheon International Airport has been their temporary home for the past three months. – Washington Post

Authorities in the North Korean capital Pyongyang have ordered a five-day lockdown due to rising cases of an unspecified respiratory illness, Seoul-based NK News reported on Wednesday, citing a government notice. – Reuters

Former President Donald Trump had to explain his “Little Rocket Man” reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un after the foreign leader did not understand the term referenced Elton John’s hit song, according to a new book. – Washington Examiner

The United States has demanded that North Korea returns the USS Pueblo, a spy ship seized in 1968 and moored in Pyongyang ever since as a tourist attraction. – The Telegraph


The International Monetary Fund has reached an understanding in principle with China about a debt restructuring strategy that could help resolve Zambia’s debt crisis, its chief said on Tuesday in Lusaka. – Reuters

Republicans on the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, led by ranking member John Barrasso (R-WY), introduced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of oil from the emergency stockpile to China and other “hostile nations,” including those believed to be a threat to religious freedom. – Washington Examiner

Richard Fisher, Jr. writes: China used Mrs. Pelosi’s visit to unleash unprecedented joint-force air, naval, and missile exercises simulating a blockade of the island, required for successful invasion, and Chinese state media serially features threats to undertake a greater response if Speaker McCarthy’s visits the island democracy. To ensure the freedom of a co-equal branch, and underscore to Mr. Xi, and our allies, America’s will to defend Taiwan, Mr. Biden should support and defend militarily Mr. McCarthy’s Taiwan visit. The GOP might call it “strategic constancy.” – New York Sun

Matthew R. Costlow writes: Xi Jinping has been explicit about his desire for China to meet and exceed U.S. capabilities over the next 30 years. As part of that drive, China is building a larger nuclear arsenal to enable its aggression. The United States must respond by strengthening its nuclear arsenal to better enable deterrence. – The Hill

Kuzzat Altay writes: Unfortunately, many powerful actors in the world have turned a blind eye to the genocide of the Uyghur. The ESG community, which has an enormous amount of control over American capital markets, has funneled billions of dollars into China while ignoring its blatant and ongoing human rights abuses. Likewise, powerful groups like the World Economic Forum (WEF) not only ignore the genocide of the Uyghur, but openly praise the dictator who is carrying it out, as its leader, Klaus Schwab, did when introducing Xi Jinping at this past year’s WEF gathering. – The Hill

Hal Brands writes: Don’t make too much of these tensions, just yet: Close friends often have commercial contretemps, and administration officials tell me they are optimistic that a handful of crucial countries will emulate the semiconductor sanctions Biden slapped on China last October. But the longer China suppresses its own worst instincts, the more America’s competitive shortcomings will be on display. – Bloomberg

Michael Brown writes: But if the West appears complacent or distracted, Xi may see opportunity. To change his calculus, Taiwan, the United States, and its allies must show they are resolute about thwarting an invasion. With China’s increasingly bellicose declarations about retaking the island, time is running out for Washington to demonstrate commitment through action. – Foreign Affairs

Benjamin R. Young writes: As Xi looks to cement his place on the CCP pantheon alongside Mao and Deng, this revitalization of Maoist-era principles will likely bleed into Chinese decision-making and may impact the long-term strategic thinking of Chinese leaders. But as the spectacular failure of the country’s zero-COVID policy shows, the notion of a people’s war can be sharply different from what the people want. – Foreign Policy

South Asia

India has invited Pakistan’s foreign minister to a meeting of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) that it is hosting in May, Indian media reported on Wednesday, signalling a possible thaw in relations between the nuclear-armed rivals. – Reuters

The Export-Import Bank of China has offered Sri Lanka a two-year moratorium on its debt and said it would support the country’s efforts to secure a $2.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, according to a letter reviewed by Reuters. – Reuters

Sri Lanka’s central bank held interest rates steady for a third straight meeting on Wednesday, as widely expected, saying the prevailing tight monetary stance is crucial to taming still-high inflation and restoring economic stability. – Reuters

Pakistan’s ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan said he’s confident of returning to power this year, and would back a continued role for the International Monetary Fund to prop up the economy and stave off a growing risk of a debt default. – Bloomberg

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo wrote in a book published Tuesday that India and Pakistan came close to nuclear war in 2019 and that US intervention prevented escalation. – Agence France-Presse

Indian authorities have provided new details about a Putin-linked Russian lawmaker and sausage company owner who mysteriously fell to his death from an Indian hotel where his travel companion died just two days prior. – Business Insider


Myanmar activists and 16 alleged victims of abuse have filed a criminal complaint in Germany, accusing top generals of instigating genocide against Rohingya Muslims and other atrocities since a military coup two years ago. – Reuters

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told Pope Francis in a letter that war with China is “not an option” and said constructive interaction with Beijing, which claims the island as part of its territory, depends on respecting self-ruled Taiwan’s democracy. – Associated Press

Michael Rubin writes: History does not always repeat, but patterns emerge. The Ukraine crisis did not begin with Russian tanks rolling into the country, but months earlier, when Putin began laying down the intellectual and diplomatic justification for his aggression. The West may not have listened until it was too late, but Aliyev did. The question today is whether the White House, State Department, and European Union will repeat the same mistakes, or whether they will recognize Aliyev’s goal before it is made all too clear. – 19FortyFive

Emil Avdaliani writes: Often described as a bridge between east and west, Georgia in fact also serves as a critical link between Russia and the Middle East. This is both beneficial and highly dangerous. The country’s balancing act requires perseverance and careful messaging. How long this can last is difficult to say. As the stakes in the war in Ukraine rise, offsetting economic and political pressure from Russia against demands for solidarity from the West could become unsustainable for a small country. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Paul J. Smith writes: The old days in which the U.S.-Japan alliance was based on a hierarchy (with the United States providing the military muscle while Japan focused largely on logistical and financial support) are clearly over. Japan is emerging as an equal partner. This will inevitably feature growing pains, but careful management and planning will result in a far more resilient alliance capable of confronting contemporary security threats well into the future. – The National Interest


Finland still hopes to join NATO alongside its neighbor Sweden but could be forced to reconsider if Stockholm’s application is stalled, the Finnish foreign minister said Tuesday. – Washington Post

A far-right Swedish politician’s decision to burn the Quran in front of the Turkish Embassy could be part of a plot to undermine Sweden’s bid to join NATO, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s team. – Washington Examiner

Switzerland took a crucial step toward allowing other countries to re-export Swiss-made armaments to Ukraine. – Bloomberg

The U.K. government helped the boss of the Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group circumvent sanctions to launch a targeted legal attack on a British journalist, according to a new investigation. – Newsweek

Andreas Kluth writes: In style and approach, Scholz has long emulated his predecessor, Angela Merkel. This isn’t serving him well. Merkel’s Russia policy now looks like appeasement. And the way she made decisions has been mocked as “merkeling” — muddling through without committing. Now scholzing has become a verb too. It means “communicating good intentions, only to use/find/invent any reason imaginable to delay these and/or prevent them.” If Scholz continues to scholz, he will fail as chancellor. Meanwhile, the question stands: Is Germany a reliable ally? What Lloyd Austin wanted to say but couldn’t is that the answer remains to be seen. – Bloomberg


A three-month-old peace deal in Ethiopia has revived humanitarian aid and restored telephone links and electricity to the northern region of Tigray, but many families there are still fearful because of the continued presence of soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, blamed for a wave of atrocities during the two-year war. – Washington Post

Rwanda has fired on a Congolese military aircraft it alleges violated its airspace in a new escalation of tensions between the neighbors that has set off alarm across central Africa. – Associated Press

More than a third of South Africans would choose to work and raise their families in the US while a tiny fraction chose Russia and China out of a choice of six nations, a stark contrast with the government’s foreign policy, a survey showed. – Bloomberg

Michelle Gavin writes: As U.S. diplomats work with care to prevent the disintegration of the Ethiopia state and to identify the areas in which bilateral cooperation could still bear fruit, they should simultaneously broaden their contacts beyond Abiy and his circle, and redouble their efforts to better understand the most likely scenarios for the future. The formalized national dialogue will not be the only space in which Ethiopians express their aspirations and frustrations. – Foreign Affairs

The Americas

Canada is disappointed the United States plans to maintain tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports, Ottawa said on Tuesday, arguing that a negotiated solution to the longstanding dispute was in the best interests of both countries. – Reuters

The United States said on Tuesday it will propose further targets in Haiti for U.N. sanctions, a move broadly backed by China as the Caribbean country battles cholera and severe food shortages compounded by widespread violence from criminal gangs. – Reuters

Rick Barton writes: A cohesive funding approach could build local initiatives such as police anchored and paid in their communities and help to support critical national initiatives to improve schooling, literacy and vital infrastructure. Haiti is not doomed. We cannot be spectators to its current death spiral. Better choices abound. Now is the time to act. – The Hill

Latin America

Venezuela’s National Assembly on Tuesday passed a first reading of a bill to regulate and inspect non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the South American country, which has caused uproar among activists. – Reuters

El Salvador cleared a $600 million bond payment hurdle this week but lingering concerns over its financing sources and fiscal policy will be in focus as the country prepares for an annual visit from the International Monetary Fund. – Reuters

Countries from Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday called for more international funding in the region following economic and climate crises, in a final declaration after a summit held in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. – Reuters

Peru’s President Dina Boluarte called for a “political truce” on Tuesday as hundreds of protesters again took to the streets of the capital, Lima, and clashes erupted between some people in the crowds and the police, witnesses said. – Reuters

Guatemala’s migration institute on Tuesday announced it would require visas for visitors from the Dominican Republic starting next month, citing increased numbers of Dominicans arriving in Guatemala en route to the United States. – Reuters

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s participation in a summit of Latin American leaders, less than a month after taking office, marked Brazil’s efforts to resume a leading role in the region. – Bloomberg

The People’s Republic of China is moving into Latin America in force. Excluding Mexico, China is the region’s largest trade partner. In 1981, Cuba was the only Latin American country trading more with China than the U.S. – Newsweek

Argentina and Brazil, the two largest economies in South America, are in early talks to create a common currency, as part of a coordinated bid to reduce reliance on the U.S. dollar. – CNBC

United States

Former Vice President Mike Pence‘s lawyers discovered classified material at his private home, according to a letter his representative sent to the National Archives. – Wall Street Journal

A judge heard arguments Tuesday over whether to publicly release the findings of a special grand jury that investigated former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. – Wall Street Journal

A former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official who investigated Russian oligarchs has been indicted on charges he secretly worked for one, in violation of U.S. sanctions. The official was also charged, in a separate indictment, with taking cash from a former foreign security officer. – Associated Press

Former President Trump called former Vice President Mike Pence “an innocent man” on Tuesday following revelations that classified documents were found at Pence’s home in Indiana. – The Hill

In federal court this week, a former Proud Boy who flipped on his alleged co-conspirators testified to increasingly violent conversations among the far-right group’s members leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. – ABC News

Editorial: AG Garland could have owned these inquiries himself and defended the Justice Department’s ability to do its job under normal political accountability. Instead he opened Pandora’s box by appointing Jack Smith as special counsel for Mr. Trump. That led to Robert Hur as special counsel for Mr. Biden. The silver lining is that every time another official finds some secret documents in the basement behind a dusty Peloton bike, the odds go up that voters will get the final say on this behavior in 2024. That would be best for the country. – Wall Street Journal

Matt Abbott writes: To ensure long-term success for cities and states that engage with international entities, it will be critical to sustain these efforts, make sure they are embraced across party lines and ensure subnational governments can access information and resources to conduct principled and prudent outreach abroad. – The Hill


The Justice Department is seeking the breakup of Google’s business brokering digital advertising across much of the internet, a major expansion of the legal challenges the company faces to its business in the U.S. and abroad. – Wall Street Journal

A new Twitter whistleblower has emerged, supporting last year’s surprising testimony about the dismal state of the company’s privacy protections and saying the company continues to violate its legal obligations under new owner Elon Musk. – Washington Post

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said on Monday that her personal cellphone number “has been hacked and used to make hoax calls.” – The Hill

U.S. cybersecurity is more fractured than it might appear, with state and federal authorities handling their own responsibilities while private companies also have to work on their own infrastructure. – Fox News

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced his intention to introduce a bill to ban the social media app TikTok nationwide. Hawley, a longtime critic of the app, views it as a “Trojan Horse” for the Chinese Communist Party. He didn’t say when he would introduce the bill, but he cited Congress’s banning of the app on government devices last week as precedent. – Washington Examiner

Seth D. Kaplan writes: Tencent has work to do. If it can’t ensure American standards of free expression and privacy on WeChat, and if its algorithms appear to continue promoting anti-American content while censoring posts critical of China, the U.S. should ban the app. If Washington decides to take that step, it must be done in tandem with other democracies to ensure Beijing’s propagandists and censors can’t own the Chinese-speaking world’s public square. – Wall Street Journal

Sasha Romanosky writes: Software supply chain security has emerged as a leading risk because of the massively fragmented and decentralized nature of modern software development. Unlike other problems in cybersecurity, this is a discrete problem, where the data exist. Information required to map software dependents or dependencies is knowable because there exists a finite limit to the number of nodes and dependencies. And so, while we still have much to learn as a community about this risk, there are concrete steps we can take to better understand and mitigate the risk. – The Hill

Matt O’Shaughnessy writes: The challenges to meaningfully defining and implementing a democratic vision for AI are significant, requiring financial, technical and political capital. Policymakers must make real investments to address them if “democratic values” are meant to be more than the brand name for an economic alliance. – The Hill

Jason Snead and Andy Jackson write: Elections are the foundation of our democracy, and they should be administrated without overt or implicit bias in favor of one party. The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is a direct challenge to that principle. Fortunately, states still have time to stop Zuck Bucks 2.0. – Washington Examiner


The U.S. Marine Corps is going to start holding its troops to an “elevated” swimming standard, according to its new training overhaul released on Tuesday. – Newsweek

The eyes of a half-dozen crew of Littoral Combat Ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) were staring at computer displays, tracking contacts and consulting manuals in the warship’s dimmed pilot house as the bridge watch team guided the ship through foggy waters. – USNI

The US Army expects to increase production of Stinger missiles to 60 a month by 2025, up 50% from the current rate, according to a spokesperson for the service’s Program Executive Office Missiles and Space (PEO MS). – Janes

There are concerns about lead-ship construction delays of the new Columbia-class strategic ballistic-missile submarines, according to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). – Janes

An Indian defense laboratory and French company Naval Group are teaming up to integrate fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion systems in Kalvari-class submarines. – Defense News

The Marine Corps today took the latest step in its Force Design 2030 efforts, initiating a wide range of assessments and overhauls that are all aimed at revamping how the service produces Marines. Russia’s war in Ukraine, senior officials say, have “confirmed” the direction the new document sets for the Marine Corps. – Breaking Defense

Nathan Olsen writes: As noted, CENTCOM has developed a number of creative approaches to accomplish the same core mission in the Middle East at reduced force levels. It will need to continue innovating in 2023, using its limited resources to develop stronger ties with regional partners while countering Russian and Chinese influence in the region. – Washington Institute

Long War

Unidentified assailants in eastern Mali have abducted a doctor working for the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.N. agency said in a statement on Tuesday. Dr Mahamadou Diawara was taken from his car on Monday in the town of Menaka, located in an eastern region where jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are active. – Reuters

France on Tuesday repatriated another group of women and children from former Islamic State group-controlled areas of Syria, the latest return of French nationals who’d been stranded in camps there, eyed warily by Paris. – Associated Press

Five Yazidi women held as slaves by an Islamic State fighter are appealing to the UN to intervene in their case for compensation in a move lawyers hope will help fix a “lawless” global system that is failing torture survivors. – The Guardian

Senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad security prisoners serving life sentences in Israeli prisons have claimed that they succeeded in smuggling out book-related materials, a new intelligence report revealed on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post