Fdd's overnight brief

March 1, 2019

In The News


The deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps says Tehran has plans “to break America, Israel, and their partners and allies” in worldwide attacks. – Times of Israel

Alberto M. Fernandez writes: By most standards, the Iranian regime inside Iran is in trouble, although the mullahs have faced similar challenges in the past 40 years. But while domestically Iran is struggling, regionally it is pursuing an ambitious generational agenda, which seeks to reshape much of the region in its own image. […]Neither the U.S. nor any Western state can match Iran’s imperial ground game in the Fertile Crescent states. Only the U.S. has the ability to do so, but such an expansive and intrusive footprint is now beyond American aspirations. – Middle East Media Research Institute


President Trump’s surprise announcement Thursday that “we just took over” the last Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria came as news to U.S.-backed forces leading the fight on the ground, spokesmen said. – Washington Post

Guns, laptops, gold coins and baby formula: when Syrian fighters search women emerging from the ruins of the jihadist “caliphate”, what they find is not the contents of your average handbag. – Agence France-Presse

A mass grave containing the bodies of dozens of people who may be Yazidis enslaved by Islamic State has been found in territory recently seized by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an SDF official said on Thursday. – Reuters

Jomana Qaddour writes: The Trump administration’s stated policy objectives in Syria were reaffirmed at the February 6 meeting of the “Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS”: namely, to push back against Iranian hegemony, destroy the Islamic State, and condition reconstruction on real political progress outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Now that the administration intends to relinquish most of its military leverage inside Syria, however, it will need to strategically coordinate with regional allies even more to achieve these objectives. Its last, best leverage in this regard is reconstruction. – Washington Institute

Theodore Karasik and Giorgio Cafiero write: In the near future, Arab Gulf monarchies are likely to apply pressure on Tunisia to influence its relations with Syria. The sheikdoms of the Arabian Peninsula — with the notable exception(s) of Qatar and possibly Saudi Arabia — will aim to facilitate a smooth reincorporation of the Assad regime into the regional order, yielding results in line with their interests and concerns. […]Nevertheless, the centrifugal forces that are pulling Syria back into the Arab fold seem set to continue going forward, and Tunisia will likely play an important role in the process. – Middle East Institute


In the end, indictment appeared inevitable, as investigators dug up more and more accusations against the man leading their country. […]In some ways, the Israeli prime minister’s indictment could become a case study for the complexities of impeachment in the United States, too, and for the risks involved in any possible future effort to remove the president from his office. Those questions have gained new relevance after the testimony by Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Wednesday, which could implicate the president in several crimes. – Washington Post

Two Carlo-type sub-machine guns and a truck were seized during overnight raids conducted by the IDF, Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency), Border Police and Israel Police in a special joint operation, the IDF Spokespersons Office announced. Twelve wanted persons suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and violent disturbances against civilians and soldiers were taken into custody as well and questioned by authorities. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli and Palestinians students recently participated in the largest-ever congress to negotiate trust-building measures and solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Haifa University’s Leon Charney Resolution Center. – Ynet

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday expressed hope that bilateral relations with Israel would stay on track, as Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three probes, pending a hearing. – Times of Israel

Roger Cohen writes: The semantic evasions and denials that Corbyn “just kind of trots out,” in Berger’s words, have not dented the persistence of the problem, to the point that she’s had it: “Enough is enough.” […]The fundamental link between European anti-Semitism, annihilationist at its apogee, and the decision of Jews to embrace Zionism in the conviction that only a Jewish homeland could keep them safe is something contemporary European theorists of a demonic Israel prefer to forget. This amnesia is an additional reason that I, too, like Berger, am a proud Zionist. – New York Times

 Tom Rogan writes: Hamas strategy seeks the maximized suffering of civilians during moments of conflict. The group knows that most international observers have no clue about its tactical and strategic nature, so it uses Palestinian bodies as a propaganda weapon for international sympathy. Regardless, this report deserves no serious attention. It is what it is: another crystal clear example of the absurdity that is the U.N. Human Rights Council. – Washington Examiner

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s internationally recognized prime minister, Serraj al-Fayez, and the military commander of its eastern half, Khalifa Haftar, have met and agreed that national elections are necessary, the United Nations said on Thursday. – Reuters

Turkey’s military conducted the second day of its largest naval exercise in its history on Thursday, carrying out drills with frigates, corvettes and submarines in the Black Sea, Aegean and eastern Mediterranean. – Reuters

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday to ensure congressional oversight of any civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia. – Reuters

At least two people were killed and 24 wounded in a car bomb in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday, police and medical sources said. – Reuters

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: The current focus of America’s short attention span – on withdrawing from Syria and making exaggerated claims about the defeat of ISIS – will only make things worse. The same is true of the U.S. failures to try to shape some coherent approach to a wide range of other issues in the region. […]What the U.S. cannot afford to do, however, is to keep on focusing on short-term issues, lurching from one set of poorly defined goals to another, and spending more on defense without far better-defined plans and strategic objectives. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Korean Peninsula

A summit that might have led to North Korea’s first tangible disarmament steps faltered because Pyongyang wouldn’t freeze all of its weapons programs and sought billions of dollars in sanctions relief, a senior State Department official said Friday, as the two sides blamed each other for their failure to reach an agreement. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump on Thursday defended North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, whose family says he was “brutally tortured” while imprisoned in North Korea and died in 2017 after being flown back to United States in a coma. – Washington Post

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cut short their two-day summit Thursday, with talks collapsing amid slightly differing accounts of why both leaders walked away without an agreement or a clear plan on how to keep the dialogue alive. […]Hours later, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, offered a slightly different take at a rare news conference, arguing that Kim’s regime sought only “partial” sanctions relief in return for dismantling the North’s main enrichment capabilities for fissile material. – Washington Post

Few people in the world were more surprised and disappointed by the breakdown of the summit meeting between President Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, on Thursday than President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. – New York Times

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Friday his government plans to discuss with the United States the possibility of restarting joint inter-Korean economic projects to induce nuclear disarmament from North Korea. – Associated Press

Even as he announced the failure of nuclear negotiations with North Korea, President Donald Trump complained that annual military drills with South Korea were “very, very expensive” and said the South must pay more for them. – Associated Press

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was the “big winner” in the Vietnam summit with President Trump that tried but failed to reach a denuclearization deal. – Washington Examiner

A shadowy group believed to be protecting the son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s assassinated brother declared the formation of a government-in-exile Friday, dedicating itself to the abolition of the “great evil”. – Agence France-Presse

Editorial: Mr. Trump’s willingness to walk is consistent with his posture toward Iran and perhaps it will help in negotiations with China on trade. No doubt he was tempted to accept a deal that he could call a victory while running for re-election. But a continuing nuclear capability in the North would have made that victory as hollow as Barack Obama’s deal with Iran. The difference is that Mr. Trump walked away. – Wall Street Journal

John Hudson , Anne Gearan and Simon Denyer write: The abrupt end to the summit may have exposed the limits of Trump’s strategy to appeal directly to Kim, whom he used to ridicule as “Little Rocket Man” but now praises as a savvy leader who could preside over his country’s economic transformation. Trump said the two parted on friendly terms, but he did not dangle a White House invitation or other perks as he did following their first meeting last year. – Washington Post

Adam Taylor writes: Whatever their effect on North Korea’s current economy, these sanctions certainly bode poorly for the country’s economic future. It is facing a major trade deficit with China, which could ultimately create a balance-of-payment crisis. Though there is plenty of good will between North Korea and South Korea for economic engagement, unless there is sanctions relief these plans won’t go anywhere. […]The U.S. president may face opposition from Congress on removing U.S. unilateral sanctions and may worry that once U.N. Security Council sanctions are removed, they could never be put back on. – Washington Post

David Ignatius writes: The president may grow bored now, as he often does when he encounters a reversal. But if he’s serious about North Korea, he (or more properly, Pompeo and Biegun) should settle in for long, careful negotiations that, meeting by meeting, reduce the threat North Korea poses and open pathways for its development. Walking away from engagement with North Korea would be a mistake. But hitting the pause button now makes some sense. – Washington Post

Eli Lake writes: Trump said Kim demanded a full lifting of sanctions in exchange for only partial denuclearization. It’s an old tactic for the North Koreans. They negotiate, pocket concessions, then fail to deliver. Unfortunately, the president is wrong about another point he made at the press conference: the prospects for a deal with Kim. – Bloomberg

Peter Feaver writes: There are plenty of other crises at home and abroad demanding Trump’s attention. He was right not to make his problems worse by creating another crisis—a policy crisis—by means of a bad deal in Hanoi. He did not overreact, and neither should we. – Foreign Policy

Michael Mazza writes: Importantly, none of these explanations for intentionally killing the talks are mutually exclusive. Other explanations are possible as well. One thing is clear. North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is more developed than it was a year ago, and more entrenched. And senior officials in neither Washington nor Seoul seem all that concerned. Props to Kim Jong Un on a job well done. – American Enterprise Institute


China Global Television Network America, which reaches 30 million households in the United States, is an arm of China’s propaganda machine. It is controlled by the Communist Party and serves as part of what Mr. Xi has called Beijing’s “publicity front.” But when the American authorities asked about those ties, CGTN America argued that the Chinese government doesn’t tell it what to broadcast. – New York Times

President Trump’s decision Thursday to walk away from denuclearization talks with North Korea could result in the president tightening his demands with China during their upcoming trade talks. The president needs China’s help to force North Korea to make a deal, but if those talks remain stalled then the president can afford to get tougher on trade with Beijing, experts note. – Washington Examiner

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday warned he could walk away from a trade deal with China if it were not good enough, even as his economic advisers touted “fantastic” progress toward an agreement to end a dispute with the Asian country. – Reuters

Canada is likely to announce on Friday that an extradition hearing against a Huawei Technologies Co Ltd executive can proceed, legal experts said, worsening already icy relations with Beijing. – Reuters

Around 3,000 delegates to the annual gathering of China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, will meet in Beijing on March 5 to discuss political and economic policy. – Reuters

China is taking an increasingly strident tone as it defends its de-radicalization program in western Xinjiang, telling foreign diplomats recently that “absurd preachings” from Islamist extremists there had turned some people into “murderous devils”. – Reuters

U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that the world should be “eyes wide open” about the risks of using Chinese technology, and that there could be problems for American firms operating in certain places where Huawei equipment was deployed. – Reuters

Huawei Technologies ran a full page ad in major U.S. newspapers on Thursday urging readers not to believe “everything you hear,” about the Chinese tech firm, as it defends itself against government accusations its equipment can be used to spy. – Reuters

Huawei Device Co Ltd and Huawei Device USA Inc pleaded not guilty to U.S. fraud, trade secrets conspiracy and other charges, and a trial date was set for March 2020, the Justice Department said on Thursday. – Reuters


All American troops would withdraw from Afghanistan over the next three to five years under a new Pentagon plan being offered in peace negotiations that could lead to a government in Kabul that shares power with the Taliban. – New York Times

Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a major army base in southern Helmand province early Friday, reportedly killing a number of Afghan troops, as a new round of peace talks between U.S. officials and Taliban delegates in Qatar was underway.  – Washington Post

It was a rare sight, even after 18 years of progress in Afghanistan: more than 700 women from across the country, gathered to send an unequivocal message to the men now negotiating with the Taliban. We want peace, the women said, but not at the cost of our rights. – New York Times

South Asia

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country would soon release an Indian air force pilot captured Wednesday, a gesture that appeared to dial back a confrontation between the nuclear-armed states after two days of back-and-forth military attacks. – Wall Street Journal

In 1947, India won independence from Britain, and Pakistan was created in the partition of British India. The partition was a bloody one — at least half a million were killed, and millions more were displaced. Since that year, the issue of the sovereignty of Kashmir has remained unresolved. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir, but each controls only a part. – Washington Post

Ruchi Kumar and Hikmat Noori write: Afghanistan would inevitably be drawn into any India-Pakistan clash—a hard sell in a country that’s already known decades of conflict. Last week, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul made comments suggesting that any aggression from India could affect Afghanistan, earning him the ire and a diplomatic demarche from the Afghan government. Islamabad has played a crucial role in facilitating the ongoing peace talks between the United States and the Taliban. But many Afghans also see the Pakistani establishment as a key supporter of the Taliban insurgency in their country. – Foreign Policy

Shamila N. Chaudhary writes: As long as India enjoys a more strategic relationship with the United States and it maintains stronger conventional military capabilities, Pakistan will not shift its policy of using militants as proxies against India. With Bolton’s statement that the United States supports “India’s right to self-defense,” Pakistan’s use of proxies is likely to become more entrenched, further intertwining the United States in South Asia’s complex security politics rather than extracting it from them. – The Hill



The Philippines shelved a planned review of its military alliance with the U.S. in return for a verbal commitment that American forces would defend the country’s vessels in the South China Sea, removing a major irritant between the longstanding partners. – Wall Street Journal

Singapore plans to buy an initial four F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp, with an option to purchase eight more, as it looks to replace its ageing F-16 fleet, the city-state’s defense minister said on Friday. – Reuters

Robert D. Kaplan writes: The U.S. and China have begun a protracted struggle that could shape global geopolitics for decades. That makes the U.S.-Japan treaty alliance more important than ever for anchoring Asia’s stability. President Trump should recognize that any development that undermines the American presence on the Korean Peninsula will also undermine Japan, and with it the whole region. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Tatarski writes: But while the summit may have landed with a thud in terms of policy, Vietnam got the image it wanted: Trump standing alongside Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the American president waving a Vietnamese flag, and the Vietnamese premier waving an American flag. – The Atlantic


The travelling exhibition, titled Syrian Breakthrough, is meant to raise support for the armed forces among a Russian population increasingly weary of the country’s military campaigns in Ukraine and the Middle East, and increasingly pre-occupied with problems at home amid stagnating incomes and falling real wages. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russian authorities say an officer of Russia’s Black Sea fleet and his partner have been imprisoned on charges of spying for Ukraine. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A Russian court has ruled that American investment-fund manager Michael Calvey should remain in pretrial custody, rejecting his appeal to be moved to house arrest. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


We, the Presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,  Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic, have gathered in Košice in the Bucharest 9 platform for consultation and dialogue[…]. As we meet today, we face the most difficult security challenges in a generation. In the spirit of 360 degrees approach, the Alliance should continue to be ready to respond to all threats and challenges from wherever they arise. We have, therefore, every reason to make our Alliance stronger and to ensure that the transatlantic bond remains as solid and effective as ever.  – President of Romania

Authorities in Sweden have arrested a person on suspicion of being a Russian agent. The individual, whose name has not been disclosed, was passing information to Russia since 2017, the Swedish Security Service says. – NPR

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said the substance of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the European Union needs to change, particularly on the issue of the Northern Irish backstop, though the means to achieve that is less important. – Reuters

One effort to counter the hate brought about 150 French women together from different religious, ethnic and economic backgrounds to go to a notorious symbol of terror and genocide from that war: Auschwitz. Together they wanted to learn more about the Holocaust, in the hopes of bringing a message of greater understanding back to France. – NPR

Joseph Garcia writes: Our Gibraltarian identity is nonnegotiable. We are not Spanish. Our homeland is not up for sale. We enjoy a modern constitutional relationship with the U.K., which affords us autonomy in every policy area other than external affairs and defense. We will not compromise on that, and we will never pay with our sovereignty in return for normal coexistence with our neighbors across the border. – Foreign Policy

Kenneth R. Weinstein writes: Nowhere are the divergent perspectives between Germany and Japan more apparent than over Iran and North Korea. Germany was the strongest possible supporter of the Iran deal, even though it offered no permanent restrictions on Iranian nuclear weapons programs. When Mr. Trump tore it up, Germany reacted vehemently. […]In the end, the divergence between Germany and Japan has less to do with the personality of Trump than the different perceptions of the security challenges facing each country.  – Hudson Institute


Two attacks on Ebola treatment centers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have forced the international aid group Doctors Without Borders to close the facilities, it said on Thursday, warning that the outbreak was not under control. – New York Times

Senegal’s President Marky Sall won re-election, capping days of tense vote tallying following an unusually violent campaign in one of Africa’s most stable democracies. […]European Union observers said Tuesday that while the elections were “peaceful and transparent,” they were held “in a climate characterized by a lack of trust and blocked dialogue.” – Wall Street Journal

The death toll from an Al Shabaab suicide car bombing at a Mogadishu hotel rose to 29 with 80 wounded, police said on Friday, as a gun battle raged at the site of the blast between fighters of the militant group and Somali troops. – Reuters

An estimated 30,000 Nigerians have returned since Tuesday from Cameroon to the flashpoint town of Rann, which has been targeted repeatedly by Boko Haram militants this year, the U.N. refugee agency said in an emailed comment to Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters

North America

The evidence seized would connect Mehdizadeh to Altaf Khanani — an alleged mastermind underground banker and money launderer who moved up to $16 billion per year for global crime groups, with alleged links to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups that are now blurring into transnational organized crime networks, according to the DEA. The U.S. Department of State has designated Khanani’s organization a “transnational organized crime group” with alleged links to “terrorist financing.” – Global News

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose previous comments on Israel were condemned as anti-Semitic just weeks ago by senior members of her own party, is again under fire for suggesting Wednesday night that some politicians in Washington are “pushing for allegiance” to Israel. – Fox News

Philip Klein writes: That doesn’t sound like somebody who is legitimately remorseful about spreading anti-Semitism. As if any reminder were needed that she’s learned nothing, Omar then renewed the dual-loyalty line of attack on supporters of Israel, saying, “for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Anybody who took her fake apology as being sincere seriously needs to rethink things. – Washington Examiner

Nicole Russell writes: If Omar’s job was to simply make the news, she’d have millionaire status. But it’s not. It’s to represent Minnesotans with obvious concerns, not tweet her hatred for Jews, slyly delete them, while advocating that “dictator” President Trump be impeached. Omar has become a trainwreck in just a few short months, not the candidate of potential Minnesotans hoped she would fulfill. – Washington Examiner

Jonathan Chait writes: Omar is directly invoking the hoary myth of dual loyalty, in which the Americanness of Jews is inherently suspect, and their political participation must be contingent upon proving their patriotism. Of course, she is attempting to couch her position as a defense of free speech, and against a tendency to reflexively dismiss all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. […]But Omar is using that cause to smuggle in ugly stereotypes. And whatever presumption of good faith she deserved last time should be gone now. – New York Magazine

Latin America

The U.S. clashed with Russia and China at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, reflecting a larger global split over how the international community should respond to Venezuela’s political and economic crisis. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration’s push to oust Nicolás Maduro as the president of Venezuela has split Democrats in Congress, rekindling a long running debate in the party about how aggressively the U.S. should intervene in other countries. – Wall Street Journal

Juan Guaidó, leader of Venezuela’s opposition, broke a travel ban to help deliver humanitarian aid that was stored across the border in Cucuta, Colombia. But as he has learned, while leaving Venezuela is easy, getting back is risky business. Stopped from simply walking back into his native land, Guaidó is performing a sort of tour of neighboring countries. – Washington Post

A court in Argentina on Thursday convicted two former senior government officials for obstructing the investigation into the deadly 1994 terrorist attack against a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the first time any top officials have been held criminally accountable in the case. […]but it acquitted five others, including the highest-profile defendant: former President Carlos Menem. – New York Times

Adolfo Franco writes: As a former United States Agency for International Development appointee in the George W. Bush administration, I know firsthand the impact that U.S. aid can have on people’s lives. It was both tragic and infuriating to see the Venezuelan regime set fire to inbound aid. That said, I am proud of my country for giving close to $100 million in aid to the Venezuelan people. I am confident socialism will soon fall in Venezuela. As the legendary Venezuelan leader Simon Bolivar said, “A people that loves freedom will in the end be free.” – Washington Examiner

Douglas A. Johnson and Kathryn Sikkink write: American intervention has a long history in Latin America; likewise, this has been a source of distrust and opposition throughout the Americas, one that Chavez & Maduro, Castro and others have nurtured and used to create political power. Perversely, the threat of American intervention strengthens Maduro’s core support, rather that weakens it. – The Hill

Cyber Security

Facebook Inc. faces 10 investigations by Ireland’s privacy regulator into whether the company or its subsidiaries have violated European Union privacy law, making the social network the biggest target for one of the bloc’s most important data watchdogs, amid growing scrutiny around the world of its privacy practices. – Wall Street Journal

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday said Gabriel Benincasa would become the regulator’s first chief risk officer. The role was created to strengthen risk management and cybersecurity efforts at the regulatory agency, whose public online database of filings was hacked in 2016. – Wall Street Journal

Thailand’s military-appointed parliament on Thursday passed a controversial cybersecurity law that gives sweeping powers to state cyber agencies, despite concerns from businesses and activists over judicial oversight and potential abuse of power. – Reuters


From the same Florida launchpad that blasted the first humans to the moon, NASA on Saturday will attempt a feat it hasn’t tried since the space shuttles were retired in 2011: send into orbit a spacecraft designed to transport astronauts. […]if successful, the predawn blastoff scheduled from launchpad 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center will mark a resurgence for America’s human space program, which for eight years has relied on buying rides aboard Russian rockets and capsules. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Air Force wants more fighters. But it didn’t necessarily want the F-15X, and it didn’t intend to buy any in the upcoming fiscal 2020 budget, its top two leaders confirmed Thursday. – Defense News

The head of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee told Defense News Thursday he would block the early decommissioning of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman when it comes before congress this spring. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy declared the carrier-launched version of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter ready to deploy Thursday, a major milestone nearly two decades in the making, according to press release from U.S. Naval Air Forces. – Defense News

Marines and sailors with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit flowed off their ships and back home on Thursday, ending an eight-month deployment that included the first-ever combat strikes by the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. – USNI News

A Pentagon budget plan to sideline an aircraft carrier, rather than refuel it, and redirect money for other defense priorities would save just $16.9 million in Fiscal Year 2020, USNI News has learned. – USNI News

The Navy declared today that its F-35C Joint Strike Fighter was operationally ready to deploy and conduct missions around the world. – USNI News

To maintain a credible nuclear threat, the U.S. needs at least 12 Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, says the Navy’s director of undersea warfare. – USNI News

The Air Force has been long dominated by fighter pilots at its senior leadership levels, but as careers in the service have become more diverse, a change in promotion preferences may be required to foster the innovation culture that also defines the service. – Business Insider

Long War

A high-profile French jihadist and Islamic State propagandist, Fabien Clain, who is believed to have recorded the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the November 2015 attacks in Paris, was killed by an airstrike in southeastern Syria, the American-led coalition said on Thursday. – New York Times

The United States on Thursday offered a $1 million reward for information on a son of late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, seeing him as an emerging face of extremism. – Agence France-Presse

Trump Administration

President Trump on Thursday said the House Oversight Committee did a “terrible thing” by scheduling a hearing with his former lawyer Michael Cohen to coincide with the timing of his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump early last year directed his then-chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to give presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner a top-secret security clearance — a move that made Kelly so uncomfortable that he documented the request in writing, according to current and former administration officials. – Washington Post

Testimony this week by former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen has undermined Democrats’ longstanding claims that President Trump’s team colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said Thursday. – Fox News

Siobhán O’Grady writes: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he knew nothing about Warmbier’s treatment — and President Trump believes him. […]It was yet another instance in which Trump took an autocrat at his word, a habit the president has developed even in cases where evidence suggests that foreign leaders aren’t telling the whole truth. It is especially notable when compared to the icy treatment Trump has dished out to the leaders of traditional democratic allies – Washington Post