Fdd's overnight brief

January 31, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing one of the toughest political decisions of his long career: who should govern Gaza after Hamas? So far he’s dodging it. – Wall Street Journal

As Israeli troops push farther south in Gaza, officials in Jerusalem are signaling what could be a central, and politically perilous, aim of the war’s next phase: taking control of the border crossing with Egypt. – Washington Post

All civilian hostages being held by Hamas inside Gaza would be released during a six-week pause in fighting proposed by the United States, Qatar and Egypt, parts of which have been accepted in principle by Israel and which is under consideration by Hamas, according to officials familiar with the negotiations. – Washington Post

Early last week, Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned a senior United Nations official to its office in Jerusalem and presented him with a startling allegation: Twelve of his agency’s workers had taken part in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, transporting weapons, raiding Israeli villages, and participating in the kidnapping of a soldier and a civilian. – Washington Post

The Israeli military said Tuesday that it had begun pumping water into the vast network of tunnels beneath Gaza, which Hamas has used to launch attacks, store weapons and imprison Israeli hostages. – New York Times

Israeli forces pounded areas in northern and southern Gaza on Wednesday after the Palestinian militant group Hamas said it had received and was studying a new proposal for a ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza. – Reuters

The United States said on Tuesday that the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees needs to make “fundamental changes” before Washington will resume funding that was halted over Israeli accusations that some agency staff took part in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants. – Reuters

Hamas said on Tuesday it had received and was studying a new proposal for a ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza, presented by mediators after talks with Israel, in what appeared to be the most serious peace initiative for months. – Reuters

A far-right partner in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition threatened on Tuesday to quit the government over any attempt to enter a “reckless” deal with Hamas to retrieve hostages held by the Palestinian militants. – Reuters

While Prime Minister Netanyahu faces divisions within Israel over painful concessions he might be forced to make to facilitate the release of 135 hostages held in Gaza, international pressures on him are growing as well, including a reported American promise for a Saudi-Israeli pact in exchange for winding down the war. – New York Sun

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Thani attempted to douse optimism about an imminent deal for the release of the 136 hostages, even as he expressed optimism that a deal was in the works, of which the first phase would see the release of women and elderly male captives. – Jerusalem Post

Stage one involves the creation of a comprehensive Israeli military government in Gaza to oversee humanitarian aid and assume responsibility for the civilian population during a “transition period.” – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced a comprehensive reform program Monday aimed at revitalizing the Palestinian Authority amid US demands that changes be implemented before Ramallah can take civilian control of Gaza once fighting there ends. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government does not support the immediate discontinuation of UNRWA, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday as a host of Western countries moved to suspend funding for the UN relief agency for Palestinians amid allegations that roughly a dozen of its employees took part in Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught and hundreds more are either operatives or have close ties with members. – Times of Israel

Editorial: While the operation in the hospital has been shared with the public, the efforts to protect Israel occur 24/7 in thousands of ways that the public is not aware of. For that, we are eternally grateful to those who hold the line, day and night, and keep us safe so our state may prosper and grow. – Jerusalem Post

Bret Stephens writes: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be insoluble. But it can’t be solved so long as millions of Palestinians have been turned into the world’s only permanent refugees. By doing that, UNRWA makes itself an obstacle to peace — reason enough for it to finally go away. – New York Times 

David E. Rosenberg writes: Still, a return to the older, more militarized Israel will not be easy. The war has spurred a surge of patriotism and a greater willingness on the part of the young not only to serve in the military but volunteer for combat duty. But this new zeitgeist might not last. Netanyahu remains a deeply polarizing figure, and the country is still sharply divided over issues that were contentious well before Oct. 7, including the government’s controversial judicial reform program. Some members of the younger generation who grew up in an era of increasing material comfort will surely chafe at the prospect of higher taxes and more obligations to the state. The smartest and most successful among them will have the option to immigrate. Which means that a brain drain could be one more setback Israel endures as a result of the war. – Foreign Policy


The Justice Department charged one Iranian and two Canadian nationals for their alleged roles in a murder-for-hire plot against two Maryland residents, according to newly unsealed court documents. – Washington Post

Iran will respond to any threat from the United States, Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ chief Hossein Salami said on Wednesday, as Washington weighs its response to the killing of American servicemen by Tehran-aligned militants. – Reuters

The Kremlin, asked on Tuesday about potential U.S. strikes on Iranian interests, said tensions in the Middle East were high and that steps were needed to de-escalate rather than destabilise the wider region. – Reuters

Editorial: Creative new efforts against the regime’s sources of financial support, and in favor of its domestic opponents, can help further pressure a regime that is not nearly as strong and popular internally as it likes to pretend. Carried out by a radical Islamist militia painstakingly supported and sponsored by Iran, the terrorist attack on Oct. 7 brought profound, probably irreversible changes to a region that the Biden administration had considered comparatively quiet, if not stable. U.S. policy needs a paradigm shift to match. – Washington Post

Tom Rogan writes: The Iranians won’t regard anything other than a strike on their territory as a sign of U.S. resolve. And the Biden administration will fear that public military action of some duration will risk catalyzing the more paranoid elements of the Iranian regime, strengthening their hand against those calling for restraint. Biden has a tough call to make. – Washington Examiner

Patrick Clawson writes: Some Iranian figures may believe the time is ripe for a bold nuclear step—after all, the world is preoccupied with wars in Gaza and Ukraine, Washington is focused on its upcoming presidential election, Russia is seemingly more protective of Iranian actions, and Khamenei may want to leave a legacy of successful “resistance.” Prudence dictates that the United States and its allies prepare for the worst-case scenario of Iranian nuclear breakout, especially since economic sanctions are unlikely to impress the regime amid relative economic success. – Washington Institute

Russia & Ukraine

As Ukraine fights against a fierce Russian offensive and its leaders wait to see whether their Western allies will approve more than $100 billion in much-needed assistance, the government in Kyiv is dealing with a festering distraction: tumult in its top ranks centered on the fate of the top military commander. – New York Times

The war in Ukraine has “quietly corroded” the power of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, wrote in an essay published on Tuesday. – New York Times

After successful testing in the U.S., Ukraine will soon receive it first big batch of long-range missiles made by Boeing (BA.N), opens new tab that promise to extend its range deep into Russian-held territory, according to sources familiar with the matter. – Reuters

The head of Ukrainian military intelligence said on Tuesday he expected Russia’s offensive on the eastern front line to fizzle out by early spring. – Reuters

The Ukrainian region of Lviv has become the country’s first to remove all its Soviet-era monuments, the governor said on Tuesday, part of a broader wartime push to erase all traces of Russian rule. – Reuters

Ukraine’s air defences shot down 14 out of 20 drones launched by Russia in an overnight attack that injured one person and damaged commercial buildings, the military said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Lawyers for Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr., who is serving a 25-year sentence for treason, revealed Tuesday he has been transferred to another prison in Siberia and placed in solitary confinement again over an alleged minor infraction. – Associated Press

Ukraine is running short of artillery shells and air-defense missiles to protect its cities from Russian attacks, with vital assistance from Europe and the US tied up in the approval process as Kyiv goes on the defensive. – Bloomberg

Ukraine’s cabinet submitted an amended draft law to Parliament that lays out a new mobilization plan for the army amid rising mistrust between the country’s political and military leadership as the war with Russia is about to enter its third year. – Bloomberg

In President Putin’s relaxed stroll to reelection to a fifth term, something has gone off script. In the dead of winter, thousands of people stood outside in lines to sign petitions to place on the ballot a politician largely known for calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “mistake.” – New York Sun

William Courtney and Peter A. Wilson write: With Moscow continuing its brutal winter bombardment, Ukraine and the West should not be lured by the siren song of negotiations or a ceasefire. Putin has made clear by words and actions that he holds to the conquest of all of Ukraine. Russia’s military campaign likewise reveals no hint of restraint. Now is the time to up-arm Ukraine with longer-range weapons and unleash the nation to make the best use of them. – The Hill

Iulia-Sabina Joja writes: Putin is already being celebrated by his propagandists as a visionary leader who stared down a much more powerful West. It seems a seminal moment in US and European history is near. What’s the most likely outcome? Alas, the first scenario is arguably the least likely. But 2024 is also almost certainly the last opportunity for the United States and its allies to help Ukraine wrest victory. The disastrous alternative is too stark to imagine. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Kateryna Panasiuk writes: Ukraine is grateful to everyone who has stood with it. But much more can come from the partnerships forged, and investments made; at best, the combination of Ukraine’s war-fighting experience and joint Western development could produce excellent systems with leap -rog technological capabilities. Building of a new defense industry in Ukraine is a long-term investment in Europe’s security. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Jan Kallberg writes: The Kremlin explains to the West that it is a reasonable partner and wishes to restore fraternal relations. Yes, this has been a historic humiliation for the West and yes it must be painful to see the end of its supposed rules-based global order (which it always considered ridiculous and unfair.) Russia offers a deal. We take the Baltic states, plus a land corridor across the remains of a partitioned Ukrainian state. Oh and Moldova; we’ll have that too. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Joshua R. Kroeker writes: By working together with foreign and local journalists and observers, Ukraine can once again show the world the horrors and realities of Russia’s war and what it needs to take back its internationally recognized territory. Only then will Ukraine manage to win back the hearts and minds of the world’s democratic nations and their people. In this pivotal moment for Ukraine, with Western support faltering and Russian confidence on the rise, a full transformation toward European values, norms, and, ultimately, transparency, will be essential for the political and military boost needed to edge Ukraine closer to victory against Russia. – War on the Rocks

Keith Johnson and Amy Mackinnon write: As Russia’s war on Ukraine, the biggest challenge to the international order since World War II, staggers into its third year, it’s becoming clear that Moscow’s actions are reshaping more than frontiers and front lines: They are potentially laying the groundwork for a seismic change in international law. Sovereign impunity, after this, might be a thing of the past. – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

An Iraqi militia suspected of involvement in the drone strike that killed three American soldiers said Tuesday it was suspending attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria, as the Biden administration weighed a possible military response. – Wall Street Journal

The United Arab Emirates has dispatched an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, Syria’s state media reported on Tuesday, in a new signal of Syria’s warming ties with the Arab region. – Reuters

Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday stripped a jailed opposition lawmaker of his status following a judicial ruling, further complicating an unprecedented clash between two of the country’s top courts. – Reuters

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group said on Wednesday it would keep up attacks on U.S. and British warships in the Red Sea in what it called acts of self defence, stoking fears of long-term disruptions to world trade. – Reuters

Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired one anti-ship cruise missile from Yemen toward the Red Sea on Tuesday, the U.S. military’s Central Command said, adding that a U.S. destroyer in the area shot it down. – Reuters

Zachary Faria writes: If the situation in the Middle East is “as dangerous” as we’ve seen since 1973, it isn’t something that just happened spontaneously. Biden and Blinken oversaw the deterioration of the region after unprecedented peace deals and progress were made under the Trump administration. Biden and Blinken have allowed terrorists to walk all over them, and the world is now dealing with the consequences. – Washington Examiner

Michael Knights and Hamdi Malik write: KH is also clearly engaging in disinformation when it states that Iran has no foreknowledge of the group’s attacks, or that Tehran lacks the ability to impose its will on KH and alter its internal decisions. For starters, one of the officials sitting on KH’s own Shura Council is a “Jihad Assistant” from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Moreover, the militia has repeatedly proven to be highly responsive to Iranian tactical direction in the past, most recently when it strictly observed the temporary ceasefire in Gaza late last year. – Washington Institute

Aaron Y. Zelin writes: Unlike the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—whose detention facilities in northeast Syria are under constant threat of IS attack amid growing questions about the area’s political future—Turkey is a strong, capable state that can handle most counterterrorism challenges regardless of America’s presence or withdrawal from the region. At the same time, the church attack should serve as a sober reminder to Washington, since IS will continue the fight against the West no matter how much it may want to be done with the fight against IS. – Washington Institute

Michael Rubin writes: Erdogan believes he is superior because he profits from the crises he creates. Not only NATO’s functioning, but also Eastern Mediterranean security and moral justice demand that Greece and Cyprus prove him wrong. Greek and Cypriot officials may find that if they ask often and loudly enough, Congress might agree. – Kathimerini

Korean Peninsula

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol warned on Wednesday that North Korea could stage provocations such as armed actions near the shared border, drone intrusions, cyber attacks or spreading fake news to interfere in April’s parliamentary elections. – Reuters

A South Korean opposition leader who was stabbed in an attack and underwent surgery earlier this month accused the country’s conservative president on Wednesday of promoting divisive politics and worsening an already toxic discourse in the nation. – Associated Press

Sue Mi Terry writes: War is not inevitable. Washington and its allies can still prevent conflict by deterring Pyongyang. Of course, doing so will become harder because of the North’s expanding WMD capabilities and its increasing closeness with Moscow. But now is not the time to panic. It is time, instead, to send North Korea a signal of resoluteness and strength. U.S. power has kept the peace for more than 70 years on the Korean Peninsula. There is no reason that it cannot continue to do so. – Foreign Affairs

Clinton Work writes: The point is that process matters but only insofar as it contributes to more tangible outcomes. For some, the Washington Declaration was a short-term solution to a fundamental dilemma of ROK insecurity and fear of abandonment by the United States. It bought some space and time, yet ultimately, it is too little, too late. According to this view, the ROK indigenous nuclear genie is coming out of the bottle, if gradually and fitfully for now. That view may be correct. If so, it makes pursuing more in-depth education and consultation even more important. These steps could buy more time, reduce the chances of a further untethering of the nuclear order, and help the alliance navigate the rough waters ahead. – The National Interest


Several prominent commentaries by economists and journalists in China have vanished from the internet in recent weeks, raising concerns that Beijing is stepping up its censorship efforts as it tries to put a positive spin on a struggling economy. – Wall Street Journal

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal and its adjacent waters, and has always resolutely countered infringements by the Philippines, a spokesperson for China Coast Guard said in a statement released late Tuesday. – Reuters

China’s government on Wednesday dismissed repeated complaints by Taiwan about Chinese balloons flying over or near the island, saying they are for meteorological purposes and should not be hyped up for political reasons. – Reuters

President Joe Biden’s top national security aide promoted further communications with China — including with President Xi Jinping — while insisting the US would continue to pursue so-called de-risking measures. – Bloomberg

China said a victory by Donald Trump in the presidential election later this year could lead to the US abandoning Taiwan, comments intended to sow doubt over Washington’s commitment to the island. – Bloomberg

American and Chinese officials committed Tuesday to working together to stem the flow of fentanyl into the United States, the head of a visiting U.S. delegation said. Their meeting was a hopeful sign of cooperation as the two global powers try to better manage their contentious ties. – Associated Press

Karishma Vaswani writes: As Westerners are leaving, professionals from the mainland are taking their place. Hong Kong likely overtook Switzerland to become the world’s largest cross-border financial center last year, as a result of the inflow of Chinese wealth. All of this further emphasizes the city’s dependence on China, and its transformation into another mainland city. Hong Kong’s new reality is one where the openness and transparency that were once its hallmarks, are now a sepia-toned memory. – Bloomberg

Robert Farley writes: And this is where Grinberg’s argument points to a danger; the fact that commercial ties between countries may continue even after hostilities have begun suggests that hopes that trade can prevent conflict are misplaced. We like to think that Washington and Beijing can be dissuaded from war by the prospect of economic catastrophe even if military catastrophe isn’t sufficiently frightening, but if the commercial relationship can hold either way, war may not be scary enough. – The National Interest

South Asia

Pakistan opposition leader Imran Khan was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday on corruption charges connected to his handling of official gifts when he was prime minister, a day after he was convicted for disclosing official secrets. – Wall Street Journal

Sri Lanka’s police used Tuesday tear gas and water cannons to disperse an opposition protest in the island nation facing its worst economic crisis while gearing up for a national election later this year. – Associated Press

India’s ruling party expanded its control to nearly two thirds of the country’s states, strengthening Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid to extend his decade in office in nationwide elections in coming months. – Bloomberg


Malaysia’s Sultan Ibrahim from the southern state of Johor was installed as the country’s 17th king on Wednesday, taking the oath of office in a ceremony at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur. – Reuters

A Thai court on Wednesday ruled the biggest party in parliament had violated the constitution in seeking to change a law against insulting the monarchy, in what could set a precedent for any future review of one of the world’s strictest lese majeste laws. – Reuters

Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister and vice presidential candidate Mahfud MD said on Wednesday he would tender his resignation, a decision his aide said was due to President Joko Widodo taking sides in the campaign for next month’s elections. – Reuters

New Zealand will start talks on Wednesday with Australia about cooperating with the AUKUS trilateral defence partnership, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said, adding Washington needed to do more in the Pacific to counter other political influences there. – Reuters

In mid-January, at a small gathering in a cantonment town in Myanmar, hard line pro-military monk Pauk Kotaw suggested that the country’s junta chief Min Aung Hlaing step down and his deputy take over. The crowd cheered in agreement, according to videos of the event posted on social media. – Reuters

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said there was no rift between him and his Vice President Sara Duterte after both her brother and father strongly criticised him. – Reuters

Vietnam Communist Party’s Central Committee has accepted the resignation of Politburo member Tran Tuan Anh amid a probe into violations at the trade ministry under his watch. – Bloomberg

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s prison sentence has been shortened to six years from 12 years in a decision by a board led by the previous king, according to a CNA report. – Bloomberg

Thomas J. Shattuck and Benjamin Lewis write: The decision to release these reports in September 2020 was a smart policy choice given the Chinese military threat. However, the longer that the reports are released, the more questions have arisen based on known People’s Liberation Army actions as well as changes to the reports. The incoming Lai administration needs to consider how to respond to these threats from Beijing and what it wants the wider public to know. We argue in favor of radical transparency, as it would clarify the nature and scale of the daily threats that Taiwan, its military, and its people face. – War on the Rocks


The prospect of Donald Trump returning as president is prompting some of America’s staunchest allies in Europe to push their neighbors that are more reluctant to spend into further action on defense and security. – Wall Street Journal

Spain’s lower house on Tuesday rejected an amnesty bill due to differences on its scope between the ruling Socialists and a Catalan separatist party, in a blow for Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez that illustrates his parliamentary fragility. – Reuters

Dominic Green writes: British politics is becoming European in content. It may yet become European in form. If it does, Brexit will accelerate Britain’s divergence from the EU. Britain would become the first major nation to be ruled by the new nationalists. That would leave the U.S. as the last major nation with a two-party system. – Wall Street Journal

Anna Sauerbrey writes: Perhaps most important, protesters have sent a message to the far right itself: We stand ready to protect our fellow citizens and our democracy. So don’t get too cozy. Soon, it might be you out in the cold. – New York Times

Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch write: “You do have 50 shades of gray among the allies now,” said Camille Grand, a former senior NATO official now at the European Council on Foreign Relations. Yet, he added, there’s “a large group that will sort of follow whatever the U.S. direction of travel is.” – Foreign Policy


When the African National Congress suspended former President Jacob Zuma this week, a top party official portrayed him as a traitor to the ongoing struggle for Black prosperity in South Africa and a symbol of corruption that the organization is looking to move past. – New York Times

The African Union (AU) on Tuesday called for dialogue between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and junta-led countries Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso who have said they will leave the bloc. – Reuters

A Zimbabwean court on Tuesday freed opposition politician Job Sikhala after nearly 600 days of pre-trial detention on charges of inciting public violence in 2022. – Reuters

India’s naval forces rescued an Iranian-flagged fishing vessel hijacked by Somali pirates and freed its 19-member Pakistani crew off the east coast of Somalia, a navy statement said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Militants killed at least 12 villagers in a spate of attacks in eastern Congo, a local official and a civil society leader said as the country’s president ruled out dialogue with neighboring Rwanda over a related conflict. – Associated Press

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the nation’s case against Israel in a top United Nations court could result in foreign powers interfering with the outcomes of this year’s crucial election, where his party risks losing its majority. – Bloomberg

Joseph Sany and Kehinde A. Togun write: For the foreseeable future, unresponsive governments, broken economies, and despairing, youthful populations suggest that many African nations will remain prone to coups, violence, and political instability. Yet a Western shift to full partnership with Africans, and an overdue pivot from military-led aid to promoting governance that meets Africans’ needs, can advance stability in a continent that will heavily determine the world’s prospects for peace and freedom in the coming century. – Foreign Affairs

Latin America

Venezuela’s regime said Tuesday it would stop accepting deportation flights from the U.S. if the Biden administration follows through with a threat made hours earlier to reimpose sanctions on the country’s oil-and-gas industry. – Wall Street Journal

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, who has described himself as the “World’s Coolest Dictator,” has in less than five years transformed El Salvador from a country infamous for its record on murder and gangs to a nation with one of the lowest homicide rates in the Americas. – Reuters

Brazil’s president fired a top official from the country’s intelligence agency on Tuesday amid a probe into suspected illegal spying during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. – Reuters

An Argentine court on Tuesday overturned labor rules proposed by President Javier Milei that would make it easier to fire workers, in a new blow to the leader’s efforts to shake up regulations that he says have hampered the country’s struggling economy. – Associated Press

United States

House Republicans moved ahead with the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas while also throwing cold water on an emerging bipartisan Senate deal aimed at curbing illegal border crossings. – Wall Street Journal

Progressive lawmakers and humanitarian aid groups are pressuring the Biden administration to resume funding for a United Nations aid group, which saw a dozen of its members accused of participating in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli soil. – Politico

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called for Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar to be deported from the United States on Tuesday after footage showed Omar delivering a Somali-language speech to a gathering of community leaders at a Minneapolis hotel Saturday night where she called herself “Somali First” and vowed to protect Somalian interest as long as she is a member in the US Congress. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: America has for 50 years relied on volunteers who answered that question, who decided that the dangers were worth the cause of defending their country. America will be in dire straits if it runs out of these men and women, and that is one under-appreciated risk of Mr. Biden’s failure to deter our enemies. – Wall Street Journal

William A. Galston writes: Not only aid for Ukraine but also the president’s re-election prospects are on the line. In the most recent Economist/YouGov survey, immigration now ranks as the second most important issue both for the electorate as a whole and among suburban voters, whose choices in November will be crucial. Only 31% of registered voters approve of Mr. Biden’s handling of immigration while 62% disapprove. Even without an agreement with Republicans, the president should change course. – Wall Street Journal

William J. Burns writes: By necessity, CIA officers operate in the shadows, usually out of sight and out of mind; the risks they take and the sacrifices they make are rarely well understood. At a moment when trust in the United States’ public institutions is often in short supply, the CIA remains a resolutely apolitical institution, bound by the oath I and everyone else at the agency have taken to defend the Constitution and by our obligations under the law. – Foreign Affairs


Autonomous-trucking company, facing several federal investigations, was preparing to exit from the American market for China when the CEO directed his staff to ship advanced semiconductors out of the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

The Canadian government said on Tuesday that its global affairs department suffered a data breach and that there was unauthorized access to personal information of users including employees. – Reuters

Pacific Islands nations that want to connect to U.S.-funded undersea cables will need to secure their digital ecosystems to guard against data risks from China, a senior U.S. State Department official said. – Reuters

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis offering support for his concerns over the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and pledging deeper cooperation with the island’s sole European ally. – Reuters

Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said Tuesday it has for the first time managed to shut down 20 WhatsApp groups allegedly operated by the extremist group al-Shabab for extortion and intimidation. – Associated Press

The White House said it is making progress on its work to better secure open-source software, releasing an end-of-year report that details efforts on a transparent and collaborative software development process that underlines nearly every type of software. – CyberScoop

James Freeman writes: Given the reasonable assumption that TikTok’s China-based owner, ByteDance, cannot say no to the demands of the communist regime in Beijing, numerous governments in this country and around the world have implemented or proposed restrictions on the use of the app. Therefore TikTok ought to be able to expand its audience greatly by demonstrating that it has walled off its operations and especially its user data from China. – Wall Street Journal


The European Union will aim to boost ammunition deliveries to Ukraine as it tries to make up for delays in meeting an ambitious target of sending 1 million artillery rounds by March, Estonia’s defense minister said. – Bloomberg

The U.S. Navy is working on a new wartime response plan that would affect how ships and crews prepare and deploy for combat, according to the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command. – Defense News

Seth Cropsey writes: A much bigger military to deter multiple contingencies is necessary at this point. The U.S. needs a military buildup akin to that of the interwar period, including large-scale investments in shipbuilding and munitions production, life-extension programs for elements of the fleet, and the creation of new, smaller warships suitable for lower-tier missions such as escorting convoys in the Red Sea. A bigger Navy wouldn’t remedy Mr. Biden’s escalation-avoidance policy. But it would provide future presidents with the tools necessary for the U.S. to remain the world’s dominant military power. – Wall Street Journal