Fdd's overnight brief

March 1, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The United Nations atomic agency confirmed Tuesday that its inspectors had found traces of near weapons-grade nuclear material at Iran’s underground Fordow facility, but said Iran was still enriching to the less dangerous level of 60% at the site. – Wall Street Journal 

Iran could make enough fissile for one nuclear bomb in “about 12 days,” a top U.S. Defense Department official said on Tuesday, down from the estimated one year it would have taken while the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was in effect. – Reuters 

Hundreds of Iranian girls in different schools have suffered “mild poison” attacks over recent months, the health minister said, with some politicians suggesting they could have been targeted by religious groups opposed to girls’ education. – Reuters 

Inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog found uranium particles enriched up to 83.7% in Iran’s underground Fordo nuclear site, a report seen Tuesday by The Associated Press said. – Associated Press

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Deputy Education Minister admitted over the weekend that the widespread poisoning of young female students in cities like Qom was intentional and in retaliation for protesting. This is the latest news out of Tehran as Iranians continue to protest against the Islamic Republic demanding regime change for over five months. – The Foreign Desk

Editorial: During Lula’s visit at the Oval Office, Mr. Biden cheerfully extolled “the rule of law, freedom and equality,” which he described as “core principles we both believe in” and boasted about “our mutual agendas.” Too bad those mutual agendas don’t include unity of purpose to protect regional security from a rogue regime that spreads terrorism around the world. – Wall Street Journal 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The key point for Iran is that the regime thinks divisions in Israeli society, the current violence in the West Bank, Western opposition to the far-right parts of Netanyahu’s government, and lessons of the 2021 conflict in Gaza, all mean that a chance of a conflict has diminished. Iran could see this as giving it a window to do more work on weaponization. However, it could also prefer to move more slowly, bolstering air defenses, sending air defenses to Syria and cementing ties with Russia. These are the key changes that may be afoot as Tehran thinks the tensions in the region are mostly smoke, but not so much fire. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This long, convoluted sentence, published by the pro-regime Fars News Agency, means that Iran is testing its systems against the kinds of disruptions it thinks it will face in a war, and it has tested its defenses against being “disrupted” by drones and also tested its radars. The words “survivability” and “continuity” mean that Iran’s various systems can survive a simulated electronic-warfare attack and continue operations. – Jerusalem Post

Danielle Pletka writes: If, as senior U.S. officials have suggested to me, corruption is truly the Iranian regime’s Achilles’ heel, isn’t it time someone started exploiting that weakness to the benefit of the long-suffering Iranian people? – Foreign Policy 

Michael Singh writes: If the United States, Europe, or Israel contemplates a military response to a verified breakout—a near certainty given the threat posed by an Iranian nuclear weapon—the nature and scope of that response should be coordinated in advance, since there will be insufficient time for planning and coalition-building once Tehran breaks out. – Washington Institute 

Annika Ganzeveld, Johanna Moore, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Carl, Amin Soltani, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Regime incompetence and mismanagement is driving further protest activity and popular frustration toward the regime and may unite citizens with disparate grievances. The regime is facing several concurrent crises over its mishandling of economic, ecological, and security issues. The regime is continuing to victimize its people with a range of different problems, stoking anti-regime frustration across many different demographics. – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine’s officials said conditions for its forces in the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut were becoming more difficult, as Russia said several drones were shot down or crashed in its territory. – Wall Street Journal 

The West’s efforts to keep Ukraine supplied with enough ammunition to push back Russian forces has hit a major roadblock: Switzerland’s centuries-old tradition of neutrality. – Wall Street Journal 

Instead, Mr. Putin’s use of state oppression and relentless nationalist propaganda has secured the acquiescence to the war of most Russians, for whom the military offers a rare escape from the crushing poverty still widespread outside Moscow and St. Petersburg.  – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden said last week that Ukraine “doesn’t need F-16s now,” underscoring his senior military advisers’ expectation that when the war’s next phase begins to accelerate with the springtime thaw, it will look a lot like the grueling, bloody ground campaign that has left tens of thousands dead and wounded on both sides. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the United States would impose sanctions on Chinese companies or individuals if they provide lethal support to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine or “violate our sanctions.” – Washington Post

A flurry of drone sightings in western Russia, including in the Moscow region about 60 miles southeast of the capital, put authorities in the country on high alert for an attack on Tuesday. – Washington Post

The attacks, as described by Russian officials, pierced a vast swath of Russian airspace, from Krasnodar in the country’s south to within about 60 miles of Moscow, the capital, in the west, on Monday night and Tuesday morning. The Ukrainian government publicly follows a policy of deliberate ambiguity about strikes on Russian territory. – New York Times

A Belarusian opposition group said that an attack seriously damaged a Russian military aircraft at a Belarusian air base over the weekend and rendered it unable to operate. Satellite images collected on Tuesday showed possible damage, but could not confirm the extent. – New York Times

Republicans in Congress sharply questioned senior Pentagon officials on Tuesday about the tens of billions of dollars in military and other aid the United States has sent to Ukraine, casting fresh doubt on whether they would embrace future spending as Democrats pleaded for a cleareyed assessment of how much more money would be needed. – New York Times

Russian government officials will be banned from using most foreign words when carrying out their duties, according to an amended law on the formal use of Russian that President Vladimir Putin signed on Tuesday. – Reuters 

A tank carrying Ukrainian infantry speeds toward a target position marked with a metal sheet. The soldiers climb down, hurl grenades and unleash a crackle of machine-gun fire. Then they repeat the moves, getting faster with every iteration. – Associated Press

The Pentagon’s inspector general said Tuesday his office has found no evidence yet that any of the billions of dollars in weapons and aid to Ukraine has been lost to corruption or diverted into the wrong hands, but cautioned that those investigations are only in their early stages. – Associated Press

The number of Ukrainian troops training on U.S. weapons is nearing 4,000, while the service members who are training on the sophisticated Patriot missile system are close to completing the program. – Washington Examiner 

A Chinese military pundit said Russia may be launching a new threat in the Black Sea after a joint navy exercise with China and South Africa. – Newsweek

President Vladimir Putin’s top spokesperson has urged Russians to be “patient” on questions about the dictator’s future, as the war in Ukraine wears on with no end in sight and presidential elections in both Russia and Ukraine looming in 2024. – Newsweek

Chinese-made drones would likely receive “battlefield testing” in Ukraine, trialing how they match up to Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones on military and civilian targets in the war-torn country, Newsweek has been told. – Newsweek

As if the Iranian currency’s loss of value was not enough amid the extended anti-regime protests, the Islamic Republic seems at a loss when it comes to handling a new crisis: Taliban-like chemical or biological attacks on schoolgirls across the country. – New York Sun

Jim Geraghty writes: The Biden administration is adamant that the Chinese government must not help Russia resupply its armies invading Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield recently declared, “We … have to be clear that if there are any thoughts and efforts by the Chinese and others to provide lethal support to the Russians in their brutal attack against Ukraine, that that is unacceptable. … That would be a red line.” – Washington Post

Leonid Bershidsky writes: While there is any hope of even a partial military victory — of retaking more territory if not all that has been lost — continued resistance and further losses are acceptable to Ukraine’s society. That hope still exists, in part thanks to Western aid but mainly because of the proven ineptitude of Russian commanders, who, unlike their Ukrainian adversaries, haven’t shown even a flash of strategic brilliance in twelve months of fighting. Goliath is huge but dumb. – Bloomberg

Daniel Rakov writes: As such, the U.S. government and Congress should focus on establishing more “creative solutions” with Israel to work around these constraints and achieve their objectives in Ukraine. – Washington Institute 

Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, George Barros, Nicole Wolkov, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russian authorities appear to be escalating their promotion of false flag information operations to distract from their lack of tangible battlefield gains and slow down the provision of Western tanks and other aid in advance of expected Ukrainian counter-offensives. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) accused the “US and its accomplices” on February 28 of planning to carry out a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals. – Institute for the Study of War

Stephen M. Walt writes: Moreover, if China decides to give Russia more help, then Biden might have to impose additional sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy, triggering new supply chain problems and jeopardizing the delicate economic recovery that is now underway. And if that happens, Republican presidential hopefuls (one of them in particular) will be licking their chops and liking their chances. – Foreign Policy 

Fabrice Deprez writes: But according to Nikolov, how Ukrainian authorities respond to corruption scandals in wartime is just as crucial. “To me, the important thing is that the authorities show that [Ukraine] isn’t a story about corruption, but a story about the fight against corruption,” he said. – Foreign Policy 

James Jay Carafano writes: In all theaters, the U.S. needs the capacity and capability to protect its vital interests. But the global footprint we lay down ought to be designed to respond to what is going on in the world and shaped to deliver what we need to protect U.S. interests in the future. – Heritage Foundation 


During a four-hour spate of violence in the town of Huwara and several nearby villages, the settlers used guns, metal rods and their fists to attack hundreds of Palestinians. Some attackers wore ski masks as they torched cars, businesses and family homes, some with children inside, according to witnesses. – Washington Post

When Israeli forces entered the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank on the morning of Feb. 22, their goal was to apprehend three members of an armed Palestinian group in a single safe house. But after a firefight broke out with the three gunmen, chaos and violence spread well beyond the stated targets and into the busy surrounding streets. – New York Times

When Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power late last year, he repeatedly reassured skeptics that he would be able to maintain Israeli stability, despite governing in coalition with far-right settler activists and ultraconservative religious leaders. – New York Times

Germany’s foreign minister voiced concern about the Israeli government’s plans to overhaul the country’s legal system during a visit Tuesday by her Israeli counterpart, and said that introducing the death penalty for Palestinians convicted in deadly attacks would be “a big mistake.” – Associated Press

Israelis protesting a contentious government plan to overhaul the judicial system were set to step up their opposition on Wednesday, with large demonstrations and road closures expected in what protest leaders have dubbed a “national day of disruption.” – Associated Press

The current violence is mainly taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – areas occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war. While the starting point is debatable, it began to escalate in March 2022. In a period of days, Israel was rocked by a series of deadly Palestinian attacks and the Israeli military launched an open-ended operation in the West Bank in response, resulting in near nightly raids into the occupied territories. – BBC

For two months, Israel has been gripped by an increasingly bitter battle between an alliance of far-right nationalist and religious camps driving the proposed reforms and those against. It is a crisis that has underscored the deep polarisation in society as the country has lurched to the right during Netanyahu’s more than two-decade dominance of politics. – Financial Times

Israel Police arrested a resident of east Jerusalem who admitted to planning to assassinate National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Channel 13 reported on Tuesday.  – Jerusalem Post

Police on Wednesday morning said officers detained another six suspects allegedly involved in riots in the West Bank Palestinian town of Huwara earlier this week, which saw hundreds of settler extremists set fire to homes, storefronts and cars in response to a deadly Palestinian terror attack. – Times of Israel

The US released a report Monday that accused Israel of failing to prevent attacks by settlers in the West Bank. The conclusion drawn in the Israel, West Bank and Gaza chapter of the State Department’s 2021 Country Reports on Terrorism was the latest expression of US frustration with Israel’s failure to crack down on settler violence following the deadly rampage that took place in Huwara on Sunday. – Times of Israel

European diplomats are surprised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s perceived inability to rein in his far-right coalition partners, officials from several countries told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Hamas spokesman Abdul Latif al-Qanoua welcomed the shooting attack in the Jericho area on Monday, in which a 27-year-old man was murdered. […] Earlier, the Telegram channel “Jenin Al-Qassam” published a message of mockery and a murder threat addressed to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. – Arutz Sheva

Foreign minister, Eli Cohen, said that Israeli settlements in the West Bank would continue to be built under the current government, as it had under the previous one. – Ynet

One of the Israeli military’s highest-ranking generals called Sunday’s settler rampage through a Palestinian village a “pogrom,” the most biting denunciation of the deadly attack from Israel’s security echelon thus far. – Haaretz 

Scores of young Jews, many of them masked, were gathered there on Monday morning checking vehicles in search of Palestinians. There were Israeli soldiers a distance away, but the young men were doing as they pleased. The reports of a large Israeli army presence in the town existed only on paper. – Haaretz 

Several Jewish settlers who are suspected of involvement in the Huwara riots earlier this week were arrested in the West Bank overnight, Israel Police reported on Wednesday morning. The six suspects, four adults and two minors, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in public disturbances, arson, assault, and damaging property in the Palestinian town of Huwara. – Jerusalem Post

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to United Nations leadership on Friday demanding that Francesca Albanese, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, be removed from her position — the second such call since the beginning of 2023. – Jewish Insider 

Thomas L. Friedman writes: Israel is the only real democracy with an independent judiciary in the Middle East. Ukraine is defending the European Union, a giant engine of the rule of law, free markets, human rights and democratic norms, even if not every E.U. country has fully embraced all of them. If democracy is undermined in the E.U. and Israel, democracy everywhere will be more endangered. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: Of particular controversy are judicial reforms that would limit judicial review and move Israel toward absolute parliamentary sovereignty, a la the United Kingdom. These reforms would allow a simple majority on a small judicial appointment panel to appoint Supreme Court judges. Reduced age limits on judicial service would also provide immediate court-stacking opportunities for the government. Israelis are escalating their protests against the reforms. – Washington Examiner 

Sami Peretz writes: If the regime coup passes in its present form, we’ll get many more Hawara riots here, and not only in Judea and Samaria but in every important institution that stands in the way of an combative government which presumes to promote governance, but in effect is creating anarchy and economic and social deterioration. – Haaretz 

Mark Fox, Andrew Ghalili, and Ari Cicurel write: The United States should be closely partnering with Israel to degrade Iranian capabilities more broadly. Israel has developed a model for directly combating Iranian aggression that America should firmly endorse. – The National Interest 


Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden set the stage for Afghanistan’s collapse and the Taliban’s return to power by pulling out U.S. forces and military contractors before Kabul’s security forces were self-sufficient, according to a new report by a government watchdog. – Washington Post

A new government watchdog report details how poor planning in the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, after years of inadequate oversight, contributed to the rapid collapse of the Western-backed government as the Taliban closed in on Kabul. – Washington Post

The board of the Swiss-based trust fund managing some $3.5 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets met for a second time last month, one of its trustees said, and discussed options for disbursing funds in line with achieving monetary stability. – Reuters


A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced a journalist to 10 months in prison for spreading disinformation, handing down the first jail term under a new law that critics say threatens free speech. – Reuters

Ukraine has sent an appeal to the UN and Turkey to start negotiations on extending a grain export deal, but there has been no response, a Ukrainian government source said on Tuesday. Yuriy Vaskov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of restoration, told Reuters last week that Kyiv would ask all sides to start talks to roll over the deal, seeking an extension of at least one year that would include the ports of Mykolaiv. – Reuters

President Tayyip Erdogan indicated on Wednesday that elections will be held on May 14, sticking to his previous plan for the vote with a date just over three months after a devastating earthquake killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Three journalists from Egypt’s most prominent independent news outlet, Mada Masr, have been referred to trial on charges of offending members of parliament from a pro-government party and misusing media channels, the news organisation said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Russia and the United States bickered on Tuesday over whether Russian fertilizer could be donated to Syria as Moscow heightens complaints about obstacles to its fertilizer shipments before the renewal of a deal allowing Ukraine Black Sea grain exports. – Reuters 

Lebanon’s top prosecutor on Tuesday told a judge investigating the financial transactions of commercial banks to temporarily halt her work, a week after the country’s caretaker prime minister also moved to block her investigations. – Reuters 

Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Mike Lawler (R-NY) are pushing for the creation of a dedicated ambassador post at the State Department focused on advancing the Abraham Accords. – Jewish Insider

Simon Henderson writes: Iranian leaders initially saw the Houthi offensive as simply another side issue worth backing, but the group has since grown into a more potent tool for threatening the Persian Gulf states, Israel, and the vital Bab al-Mandab Strait between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, among other objectives. That said, even an imperfect agreement in Yemen may be helpful in the incremental diplomatic path toward peace, and could include some reduction in Houthi links with Iran to boot. – Washington Institute

Eli Lake writes: In 2023, Iraq still has much work to do. And yet its current condition represents a historic achievement that has not been recognized. Iraq has continued to have successive elections, its economy has grown, and Iraqis have managed to save their country twice from fanatic terror armies seeking to rebuild a lost caliphate. To evaluate the war that rid Iraq of a sadistic crime family, one must imagine what Iraq would have resembled had Saddam or his sons remained in power. – Commentary Magazine 

Ghaith al-Omari writes: Although none of these objectives can be achieved without U.S. leadership, Washington is not well positioned to directly engage in Palestinian domestic issues. Instead, it should work with traditional stakeholders Jordan and Egypt (who have considerable influence within Palestinian political and governance circles) as well as various European partners, ensuring that the necessary amount of pressure is placed on the PA while securing the necessary resources to make the project viable.  – Washington Institute


A senior Treasury Department official recently traveled to Beijing, according to people familiar with the matter, in a sign of continued diplomacy despite recent tensions between the U.S. and China. – Wall Street Journal 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that the Covid pandemic was probably the result of a laboratory leak in China, providing the first public confirmation of the bureau’s classified judgment of how the virus that led to the deaths of nearly seven million people worldwide first emerged.  – Wall Street Journal 

A new House committee focused on China held its first hearing Tuesday, sketching out the threat it says Beijing poses to U.S. interests and values and calling for a concerted U.S. government response. – Wall Street Journal 

The theory that covid-19 started with a lab accident in central China received a modest boost in the latest U.S. intelligence assessment after the work of a little-known scientific team that conducts some of the federal government’s most secretive and technically challenging investigations of emerging security threats, current and former U.S. officials said Monday. – Washington Post

President Biden’s plan to plow billions of dollars into semiconductor manufacturing represents a sharp turn in American economic policy, one aimed at countering China by building up a single, critical industry. But Mr. Biden is going even further. He is using the money to change how corporations behave. – New York Times

A special House committee dedicated to countering China began its work Tuesday with a prime-time hearing in which the panel’s chairman called on lawmakers to act with urgency and framed the competition between the U.S. and China as “an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century.” – Associated Press

The White House is considering an end to export licenses related to Huawei , making it so the Chinese company will have a harder time constructing and selling its mobile devices. – Washington Examiner

President Xi Jinping moved to consolidate the Communist Party’s hold over the world’s second-biggest economy, touting plans for sweeping changes to China’s bureaucracy and more influence within private companies. – Bloomberg

The top US and Chinese defense officials haven’t spoken since November, the Pentagon said Tuesday, a sign of how recent strains over Taiwan and an alleged spy balloon have fractured communications between the world’s two most powerful armed forces. – Bloomberg

On the same day in December when Chinese and US diplomats said they’d held constructive talks to reduce military tensions, Russian engineers were delivering a massive load of nuclear fuel to a remote island just 220 kilometers (124 miles) off Taiwan’s northern coast. – Bloomberg

The House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday advanced a raft of China-related sanctions bills, a sign of increasing hawkishness in the Republican-controlled chamber amid strained relations between Washington and Beijing. – Bloomberg

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) drew criticism from campaigners and a big investor on Tuesday after the head of its Chinese business said he saw no sign of forced labour during a visit to the carmaker’s Xinjiang plant. – Reuters 

China on Tuesday pushed back at renewed suggestions that the COVID-19 pandemic could have been the result of a lab leak, saying it has been “open and transparent” in the search for the virus’ origins. Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy assessed with “low confidence” that the pandemic that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 began with the leak of a virus from a lab. – Associated Press

China says it will soon begin training foreign astronauts for trips to its newly completed orbiting space station. Long a source of national pride and symbol of technological advancement, the Chinese space program is taking on a new diplomatic and political role, much in the way the United States and former Soviet Union leveraged theirs. – Associated Press

President Biden’s plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to try to curb climate change are running up against the ugly geopolitical reality that China has no plans to join the growing international effort. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Beijing’s embrace of a fossil fuel that has become anathema in the rest of the world — coal. – New York Sun

Editorial: Journalists and commentators who tried to enforce groupthink about COVID-19 should be discredited and ignored. The new focus must be on China and the danger it poses to the world. COVID-19 is just one symptom of a pandemic of authoritarianism for which some vaccine must be found. – Washington Examiner 

James Jay Carafano writes: China is happy to be friends with a war-mongering Russia, as long as Beijing is the dominant partner and the friendship comes with significant benefits. The United States and the rest of the West ought to work to make this a worse partnership than bringing together Bridezilla and the most repulsive Bachelor ever. – Heritage Foundation 

Seth Kaplan writes: Signal and Telegram use is surging in China and there are other options. And it is a small price to pay for enjoying the freedoms the United States offers—freedoms that are limited by WeChat. In addition, foreign ownership of major public accounts—the equivalent of major media on the app—should require public reporting. Such efforts should be paired with outreach to other democracies to ensure Beijing’s long arm no longer reaches into the information public square of the free world. – Foreign Policy 

South Asia

India is seeking to convince Moscow and Beijing to go along with a consensus on describing Russia’s war in Ukraine, similar to the one reached by leaders of the Group of 20 nations last year, a senior official with knowledge of the matter said. – Bloomberg

British Foreign Minister James Cleverly raised the issue of BBC tax searches with India’s foreign minister during a bilateral meeting on Wednesday, the minister told in an interview. – Reuters

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held talks with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on Wednesday, a day before attending the G20 foreign ministers meeting, Indian and Russian officials said. – Reuters

A court in Pakistan has issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Imran Khan in a case involving state gifts and concealing his assets from the sale of the gifts. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken came to Central Asia to press his case that the region should hold the line against Russian efforts to seek economic aid as Moscow grapples with Western sanctions. – New York Times

Today, Chinese military aircraft regularly cross the median line, an unofficial boundary that both sides respected for years to prevent accidental conflict in the 110-mile-wide Taiwan Strait. The PLA warplanes are a reminder of China’s promises that it will one day annex the island by force if residents do not willingly submit to rule by Beijing. – Washington Post

Vietnam’s Communist Party agreed to nominate a close ally of its chief Nguyen Phu Trong to take over the presidency, boosting his control over economic policy after running an anti-graft crackdown to boot out internal rivals. – Bloomberg

The US is closing monitoring Russia’s efforts to evade sanctions via Central Asia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday in Kazakhstan, highlighting concerns that Russia is receiving microchips and other technology through imports from its neighbors. – Bloomberg

China sent 25 warplanes and three warships toward Taiwan on Wednesday morning, the island’s Defense Ministry said, as tensions remain high between Beijing and Taipei’s main backer Washington. The ministry said 19 of those planes crossed into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone while the ships were continuing to operate in the Taiwan Strait. – Associated Press

South Korea’s president on Wednesday called Japan “a partner that shares the same universal values” and renewed hopes to repair ties frayed over Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Since taking office in May last year, President Yoon Suk Yeol has been pushing to mend the historical grievance with Japan and boost a Seoul-Tokyo-Washington security cooperation to better cope with increasing North Korean nuclear threats. – Associated Press

South Korea will try to persuade the US to let its chipmakers in China retain current levels of semiconductor investment, a news report said, as Washington prepares to roll out further provisions to prevent investment flowing into China. – Bloomberg

The commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps will tour several U.S. Marine Corps locations with his American counterpart this week, as both services adapt their approaches to defending and fighting from Pacific islands. – Defense News

Craig Singleton writes: China would protest Ms. Tsai’s trip to Washington and could conduct limited drills in response. Yet split-screen images of Ms. Tsai speaking at the U.S. Capitol and Chinese bombers circling the island would do wonders for the 535 members of Congress as they grapple with the urgent case for aiding Taiwan’s self-defense. – Wall Street Journal 


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak traveled to Belfast to sell his Northern Ireland deal on Tuesday, amid tentative signs the pact could allow the U.K., and his Conservative party, to begin to move on from a Brexit saga that has dragged on for years. – Wall Street Journal 

Nearly a month after Berlin gave European allies permission to send German-made tanks to Ukraine, the flow of tanks so many leaders vowed would follow seems more like a trickle. Some nations have discovered that the tanks in their armory don’t actually work or lack spare parts. Political leaders have encountered unanticipated resistance within their own coalitions, and even from their defense ministries. – New York Times

The U.S. has high expectations for a European Union-sponsored plan aimed at easing long-standing tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, a senior U.S. State Department official said Tuesday. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar told an online news conference that both countries, as well as Europe, would stand to benefit from the stability the plan would usher in. – Associated Press

Cyprus’ new president affirmed the island nation’s Western foreign policy orientation as a member of the European Union that seeks to further strengthen its bonds with the U.S. and stands firmly with others on “the side of justice” to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

Denmark’s parliament on Tuesday adopted a controversial bill abolishing its ‘Great Prayer Day’ public holiday, with the NATO member seeking to put more towards its military following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Agence France- Presse

Finland decided to build the fence due to a rise in Russians seeking to escape conscription to fight in Ukraine. The Nordic country also moved closer to joining the Nato alliance on Tuesday. Its parliament started debating a bill to speed up the country’s bid, with a vote expected on Wednesday. – BBC

It was clear when Boris Johnson was forced from Downing Street that British politics had changed forever. But few could have predicted that less than six months later, all angry talk of a cross-Channel trade war would be a distant memory, with Britain and the EU striking a remarkable compromise deal over post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland. – Politico 

Therese Raphael writes: The impact of the deal on the broader UK economy will be limited. Trade with Northern Ireland is a tiny proportion of the UK economy. And the Northern Ireland economy has done very well out of Brexit, unlike the rest of the country, since it uniquely remained part of the EU’s single market for goods. Many of the UK’s bigger problems are unrelated to Brexit but amplified by the end to labor market mobility, something beyond the scope of these negotiations or any that are envisaged. – Bloomberg

George E. Bogden writes: Speaking at the Munich Security Conference earlier this month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz summarized his country’s approach to the war in Ukraine. “Despite all the pressure to take action,” he said, “caution must take priority over hasty decisions, unity over solo actions.” – The Atlantic

Aura Sabadus writes: Unless Romania and, arguably, all neighboring countries where similar arrangements are in place, sever these links and appoint competent professionals based on merit, the region will remain vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Europe has made a step in the right direction by switching away from Russian gas imports, but the battle to bolster its security is far from over. It has only just begun. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Bola Tinubu, a longtime kingmaker in Nigeria’s governing All Progressives Congress and two-time governor of Lagos, has been elected president of Africa’s most-populous nation, the country’s electoral commission said early Wednesday, an outcome that was disputed by opposition parties. – Wall Street Journal 

Hundreds of Kenyan traders protested Tuesday in the capital, Nairobi, over a popular new Chinese-affiliated shop selling goods they say undercut their businesses. But some people pinched by inflation accused the locals of offering the same goods at higher prices. – Associated Press

Representatives from the United States, Britain, Qatar, Somalia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey met on Tuesday and expressed concern at the conflict in and around Laascaanood, a disputed town in Somalia’s northern breakaway region of Somaliland, according to a statement released by the State Department. – Reuters

The Americas

Foreign governments tried to interfere with the last two federal elections in Canada, but they did not succeed in “impacting” the voting results, according to an independent review released on Tuesday. – New York Times

Foreign governments tried to interfere with the last two federal elections in Canada, but they did not succeed in “impacting” the voting results, according to an independent review released on Tuesday. That conclusion comes as opposition politicians and others are pressing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to open a separate, public inquiry into allegations of election interference by Chinese diplomats based in Canada, as well as by informal agents of the Chinese government — a move that Mr. Trudeau has rejected. – New York Times

Mexico’s president said Tuesday his country is more democratic than the United States. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s testy comments came after U.S. officials took note of heated public debate in Mexico over López Obrador’s recently approved electoral reforms, which critics allege could weaken Mexico’s democracy. – Associated Press

Even as Mexicans are out in the streets protesting against their president’s increasingly authoritarian hold on power, President Biden is planning to give Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador a seat at next month’s democracy summit. – New York Sun

Eduardo Porter writes: Still, notwithstanding President Biden’s desire to take the border off US front pages and to focus on Ukraine, China and other geopolitical challenges, he might pay more attention to the erosion of Mexico’s democratic institutions. The Faustian bargain may come back to bite him. – Bloomberg

Fadil Aliriza writes: These trends all point to a continued disintegration of the power of ordinary people to direct, change, or even affect how they are governed through formal mechanisms or organizations. If people power is to intervene in shaping policies, it will come through informal means. But because of the increasing repression, only the most dire of circumstances affecting the health and livelihoods of people are likely to break through what may be a new wall of fear. – Middle East Institute 

Latin America

Kerry and Silva first met on Monday, alongside Vice President Geraldo Alckmin and the head of the country’s development bank, which administers the nation’s Amazon Fund. The fund is an international effort to preserve the rainforest, channeling donations to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation while promoting sustainability. – Associated Press

Award-winning Haitian broadcaster Michele Montas follows the chaos in her home country every day from her apartment in New York. She has a simple answer to why peace remains elusive and violence is worsening in the country: Haitians were never part of any solution. – Associated Press

A Guatemalan judge ordered the investigation Tuesday of nine journalists from a newspaper whose president, a prominent government critic, has already been jailed on various charges since last year. – Associated Press

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday called on Trinidad & Tobago to repatriate more than 90 of its citizens who have been detained as Islamic State suspects and family members in war-torn Syria, noting that at least 56 of them are children. – Associated Press

Chevron Corp (CVX.N) is producing about 90,000 barrels per day from its Venezuelan oil joint ventures, nearly double the daily output in 2022, Chief Executive Officer Michael Wirth said on Tuesday, warning that political risks could limit further gains. – Reuters


Belgium’s cyber security agency has linked China-sponsored hackers to an attack on a prominent politician, as European governments become increasingly willing to challenge Beijing over alleged cyber offences. – Financial Times

The United States is ratcheting up national security concerns about TikTok, mandating that all federal employees delete the Chinese-owned social media app from government-issued mobile phones. Other Western governments are pursuing similar bans, citing espionage fears. – Associated Press

Officials in Beijing have called out their U.S. counterparts for imposing bans on the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok within their government due to security concerns. – The Hill 

Earlier this month, Dish Network claimed that a “network outage” was impacting services. As a result of the “outage,” the company’s website was down for several days. – The Hill 

Parmy Olson writes: With any luck, Musk will manage to stave off a Twitter bankruptcy. But the company’s trajectory toward becoming an unruly backwater in social media, run by a skeleton crew and increasingly devoid of fun or useful content, doesn’t look much different. – Bloomberg

The recent growth in the use and employment of artificial intelligence has created an increased cybersecurity risk for those who use it, cybersecurity company McAfee has stated in a new report. – Jerusalem Post

Can an AI-fueled chatbot help navigate the Defense bureaucracy? Or improve how the Pentagon shares information? The Air Force’s outgoing chief information officer thinks it just might. The Pentagon’s legacy of bureaucracy and spotty Wi-Fi are well documented. But what if an AI-fueled chatbot could help make things easier? – Defense One

As the Biden administration begins its campaign to urge Congress to renew a controversial surveillance provision that authorizes intelligence agencies to carry out warrantless data collection, it will face a skeptical Congress where distrust of government spying runs deep. – CyberScoop


A senior Defense Department official on Tuesday said U.S. weapons and munitions in Ukraine are not being systemically misused after House lawmakers raised concerns over proper oversight of the billions of dollars in security aid flowing to Kyiv. – The Hill 

If President Joe Biden decides to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter aircraft, it would take roughly 18 months for them to reach the battlefield and the same amount of time to train their troops on them. – Washington Examiner 

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) questioned the integrity of U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a congressional hearing on “Combatting the Generational Challenge of CCP Aggression.” He offered the allegation in light of his disagreement with the administration’s recent decision to shoot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon over water rather than over land. – Washington Examiner 

The Defense Department is increasing its scrutiny of U.S. arms and other aid flowing to Ukraine, the department’s incoming inspector general told lawmakers on Tuesday. Robert Storch, who spent years working to uncover corruption in Ukraine long before Volodymyr Zelenskyy became president, told the Hosue Armed Services Committee that the country’s top leaders have promised to remain tightly focused on the issue of corruption. – Defense One

Long War

A Danish-Bosnian woman evacuated from a Syrian detention camp in 2021 was sentenced by a Danish district court on Tuesday to four years in prison and stripped of her Danish citizenship for aiding Islamic State militants. – Reuters 

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on February 28 that a senior member of the Islamic State (IS) militant group was killed by Taliban security forces. Qari Fateh, the regional IS intelligence and operations chief, was killed together with another IS member in a Kabul raid on February 27, Mujahid said. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Currently, the Supreme Court is hearing two terrorism-linked cases concerning Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. One case, Gonzalez v. Google, is being brought by the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old American citizen killed by ISIS in Paris in November 2015. The family contends that YouTube violated the Anti-Terrorism Act when its algorithms recommended ISIS-related content to users, and that the content recommended to users by algorithms shouldn’t be protected by Section 230. – Middle East Media Research Institute