Fdd's overnight brief

March 10, 2023

In The News


The Biden administration on Thursday levied new sanctions against Chinese companies that supply Tehran’s drone program and a network of firms the U.S. says are part of a clandestine financial system Tehran uses to facilitate trade and global finance. – Wall Street Journal

Long-running differences between the Biden administration and Israel over how to stop Iran’s rapidly accelerating nuclear program spilled into public view Thursday, as the U.S. defense secretary discussed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions with his Israeli counterpart during a visit to the country. – Associated Press

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on 39 entities, including many based in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, that Washington said facilitate Iran’s access to the global financial system, describing them as a “shadow banking” network that moves billions of dollars. – Reuters 

A U.S. citizen imprisoned by Iran on spying charges the United States rejects as baseless gave a rare interview from Tehran’s Evin prison on Thursday beseeching U.S. President Joe Biden to secure his release and that of two other American nationals. – Reuters 

It is no longer a secret that Iran is supplying Russia with attack drones destined for use against Ukraine, but it now appears that the Islamic Republic is also sending rockets, mortar shells, and bullets by the millions to Moscow. – New York Sun

A bipartisan House majority signed on to a resolution Thursday condemning decades of human rights violations and state-sponsored terrorism by Iran, while also expressing support for ongoing protests aimed at toppling the Tehran government. – New York Post 

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is increasing its naval power, according to Iranian reports. Images of newly equipped fast boats, as well as a new support ship, were broadcast on Thursday morning. – Jerusalem Post 

A group of Iranian women’s rights activists has released a “Women’s Bill of Rights” that they say should form the basis of a new constitution to enshrine equality and the diversity of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and religion in the country once the current Islamic leadership is removed. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

In reality, Shokouhi is a persona manufactured by Iranian-linked hackers to target a number of different Iran-focused researchers, according to a report released Thursday by Secureworks. The woman in her photos is in fact a Russia-based psychologist and tarot card reader. – CyberScoop

Editorial: This means hearing not only why any potential act to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon is unlawful, but also requires a clear message that its actions are unlawful and that the world will not tolerate a continue slide in Tehran toward breakout. Currently, Iran appears to feel it can do whatever it wants without any repercussion. This is a destabilizing factor that raises tensions and endangers both the region and the world. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The decision to increase the accusations in meetings with the Turkish foreign minister in Ankara shows how Iran is increasingly concerned about this issue. The comments also took place in advance of a meeting that Turkey, Iran and Russia will have next week where diplomats from the three countries will hold talks. – Jerusalem Post

Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Zachary Coles, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Iranian regime likely assesses that it is losing its cultural campaign for Iranian women. The regime is determined to win its cultural campaign by intensifying indoctrination efforts, however. President Ebrahim Raisi and other regime officials are focusing on coopting Iranian women rather than addressing the Iranian people’s real concerns. […]Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met separately with senior Syrian and Turkish officials ahead of Syria-Turkey normalization talks scheduled in Moscow in the coming weeks. – Institute for the Study of War 

Russia & Ukraine

Russia fired dozens of missiles including hypersonic weapons at regions across Ukraine on Thursday, striking civilian infrastructure and the country’s defense industry. The barrage was one of the biggest this year as Moscow’s forces continued to claw more territory in the east. – Wall Street Journal

Russia, through its mammoth state-owned nuclear power company, Rosatom, dominates the global nuclear supply chain. It was Europe’s third-largest supplier of uranium in 2021, accounting for 20 percent of the total. With few ready alternatives, there has been scant support for sanctions against Rosatom — despite urging from the Ukrainian government in Kyiv. – New York Times

The chief of Lithuania’s military intelligence said Russia has enough resources to continue the war in Ukraine for two more years at the current intensity. – Reuters 

Slovakia must make a decision on sending MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Thursday, referring to a fleet of 11 that were retired last summer, not all of them in operational condition. – Reuters  

US President Joe Biden dropped into a meeting at the last minute in the White House to see a man all of Washington wants an audience with: Sauli Niinisto, once upon a time known as the “Putin whisperer.” – Bloomberg

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged a rapid repair of energy infrastructure in areas hit by a fresh barrage of Russian missile attacks that cut power to hundreds of thousands across war-battered Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin urged Israel to increase its aid to Ukraine. Israeli leaders have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and they have provided Kyiv with humanitarian relief and protective gear, but have also shopped short of providing them with military equipment. – Washington Examiner 

Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, which has close ties to Moscow and hosts Russian troops, claimed Thursday it has thwarted an assassination attempt on its president allegedly organized by Ukraine’s national security service. – Associated Press

“For many centuries Russian power has been expanding by virtue of Siberia, but this region’s potential, according to popular opinion, is still not used effectively.  Recently, this problem came into the spotlight again. After all, Russia’s proverbial ‘pivot to the East’ is, in fact, a pivot to its eastern regions, including Siberia. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Russia will host the deputy foreign ministers of Turkey, Syria and Iran for a meeting next week, according to reports coming out of Ankara. This is an important meeting because it is yet another sign of Syria being drawn into the mix of ministerial meetings. – Jerusalem Post

Adam Taylor writes: But no matter what happened, suspicions will be hard to conclusively shake. As one unnamed German official told the Wall Street Journal, the hopes of finding the culprit aren’t great. “There will never be certainty,” the official said. “No one has left fingerprints down there.” – Washington Post

David Ignatius writes: Regardless, a current U.S. official who follows Russia closely argues that “2004 was a turning point, there’s little doubt about it.” By late that year, U.S. intelligence was gathering reports that Putin’s security chiefs were urging him to break decisively with Bush and adopt a more aggressive policy. And ultimately he did, with a vengeance. – Washington Post

Brian Michael Jenkins writes: Putin will look for opportunities to provoke distracting crises elsewhere. There will be revelations of plots and rumors of coups (in, for example, the Western Balkans) to capture headlines and rattle foreign offices. This nerve-wracking facade will be meant to exhaust the will of the Western alliance. The question, with this and all Putin’s strategies above, remains: Will the West allow such tactics to be effective? – The Hill  

James M. Dubik writes: U.S., NATO and other allied leaders can avoid making the mistake of believing that the war will be over when the fighting stops by planning now for the inevitable, post-major combat operations transition period. […]Wars are a complex business. Ending a war always includes more than ending the fighting. As Fred Ikle has told us in “Every War Must End,” it’s hard to fight a war but harder still to end one well. – The Hill  

Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Angela Howard, George Barros, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Russian forces conducted the largest missile strike across Ukraine of 2023 likely only to advance Russian state propaganda objectives. Russian forces likely advanced northwest of Bakhmut amid a likely increased tempo of Russian offensive operations in the area. […]Russian officials and occupation authorities are continuing efforts to integrate occupied territories into the Russian political and bureaucratic systems. – Institute for the Study of War 

Elina Beketova writes: Russian invaders continue to loot the population. […]At the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, there is now a catastrophic lack of skilled workers who can ensure the safe running of the facility. “The Russian occupiers employ people without appropriate education and experience at the Nuclear Power Plant, which could lead to unpredictable consequences,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Lera Burlakova writes: And so they work. With a clear understanding that despite the frustration, they can succeed in helping individuals in the short term and the system in the longer term. Because groups of motivated, caring people can climb mountains. As they always have. That’s the way it is in Ukraine. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Julia Davis writes: Yet, while the tone has changed, the willingness of state-funded writers and speakers to advocate a continuing war has not altered. While begrudgingly admitting that Russia is not ready to fight NATO and quietly setting aside their nuclear threats, state TV pundits still emphasize the importance of crushing not only Ukrainians—described by Tretyakov as “animals” — but also Russia’s internal opposition, while tirelessly developing various methods of attacking the West in the future. – Center for European Policy Analysis

David Kirichenko writes: It requires knowledge and consistent concentrated effort to identify Russian disinformation and to see the war the way Ukraine sees it — as a grotesque act of imperialism by a large country against its peaceful neighbor. Only once that is accepted will Ukrainians begin to feel secure in the knowledge that their trauma is understood by a sympathetic and trustworthy West. – Center for European Policy Analysis   

Nadia Schadlow writes: The Biden administration needs to engage in an emergency troubleshooting exercise to figure out how to overcome the sclerotic performance that is compromising U.S. support for Ukraine’s war effort and costing Ukrainian lives. This requires doing mission analysis up front and breaking down the barriers to rapid implementation, even if that means tapping U.S. prepositioned stocks, weapons from National Guard units, or emergency ramp-ups of production. – Foreign Policy 


A Palestinian gunman Thursday night shot three Israelis in downtown Tel Aviv, Israeli authorities said, amid one of the deadliest periods of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in recent years. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli President Isaac Herzog criticized a proposal to overhaul the country’s justice system as wrong and destructive in a speech on Thursday evening, telling coalition lawmakers that the current legislation “must pass from this earth.” – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli air force said on Thursday that it had dismissed a reservist officer in the military for trying to orchestrate group walkouts from training flights as part of a spreading protest at judicial reforms planned by the government. – Reuters 

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has warned Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the upsurge in violence in the occupied West Bank is weakening their capacity to work together on tackling the threat from Iran. – Financial Times

President Biden and members of Congress are watching with deep concern how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moves forward with so-called judicial reforms that have drawn unprecedented opposition on the Israeli street. – The Hill  

The IDF won’t be allowed to use Azerbaijan as a refueling base during an attack against Iran, the country’s newly appointed ambassador to Israel, Mukhtar Mammadov, told The Jerusalem Post. – Jerusalem Post

A terrorist infiltration alert for the town of Beitar Illit was lifted early Friday morning, with the IDF’s Homefront Command allowing residents to resume their daily lives following a report of an infiltration and attempted terrorist bombing attack on a bus. – Jerusalem Post

The father and brother of Mo’taz Khawaja, the Palestinian terrorist who carried out a shooting attack on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street Thursday night, were arrested by Israeli security forces in the West Bank village of Ni’lin, Israeli media reported Friday morning. – Jerusalem Post

A Palestinian man was shot dead by an Israeli civilian early Friday after breaking into a farm near the settlement of Karnei Shomron and trying to carry out an attack, the military said. – Times of Israel


Afghanistan is frozen deep in a second winter of humanitarian turmoil since the Taliban seized power in 2021, but cash is changing hands at a dizzying pace. The Taliban administration is proving adept at collecting tax — and seemingly without the corruption associated with the previous administration. – Agence France-Presse

The bodies of 59 Afghans who allegedly had substance-abuse problems have been found in fresh graves in Kabul after Taliban authorities cleared out the Pul-e Sokhta district. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Lisa Curtis, Annie Pforzheimer, and Jan Mohammad Jahid write: The Afghan opposition and diaspora must establish a unified statement of purpose and a process for agreeing on goals if the community wants to successfully lobby foreign governments and the broader Afghan population on its agenda and vision for the future of Afghanistan. There is a concern that if foreign governments provide material resources to Afghan diaspora groups, they will spend time competing against one another for those resources, rather than developing common positions and a clear roadmap for a path forward. – Center for a New American Security 


Seth J. Frantzman writes: On the other side of the coin, the bipartisan support for the US role in Syria shows that enough members of Congress understand the need to defeat ISIS and support partners and friends abroad. This has larger implications because many countries, including Israel and Ukraine, count on US support. – Jerusalem Post

Zvi Bar’el writes: The draft for 2023 shows a budget for Syria totaling $3.6 billion compared with $5.5 billion in 2022 and $9 billion in 2020, which will rely on a 30 percent deficit amid a 12 percent cut in subsidies. In a country where 90 percent of people live below the poverty line – suffering in Syria can only be expected to increase as fuel prices rise, daily hours of electricity are cut and the chances that those affected by the earthquake receive some type of aid or rehabilitation remains a pipe dream. – Haaretz

O. Peri writes: In addition, during Safadi’s visit to Syria, more than 20 Jordanian MPs signed a memorandum urging the Jordanian government to call on the U.S., the EU, the UN, and all the countries taking part in the sanctions against the Syrian regime to lift these sanctions immediately. Jordan’s desire to end Syria’s isolation in the Arab world was also expressed in articles in the Jordanian press published since the earthquake calling on the Arab countries to reassess their relations with the Syrian regime. – Middle East Media Research Institute


At the same time, Hamid Hosseini, the chairman of the Iran-Iraq chamber of commerce claimed that the United States has allowed Iraq to release $500 million of its debts to Iran. Iraq imports electricity and natural gas from Iran and owes Tehran more than $10 billion, because US banking sanctions do not allow dollar transfers to Iran. However, Hosseini said that Iraq’s debt has reached $18 billion. – Iran International

Douglas Murray writes: To an extent that we probably haven´t yet realized, Iraq upended not just politics in Iraq but politics in America. It spread doubt and distrust about our institutions, our competency and our virtues as a nation. Some rethinking was needed. Twenty years on there were many lessons to take from Iraq. But American retreat from the world should not be one of them. – New York Post 

Salam Jabbar Shahab writes: But if these governments are unable to keep up with global developments in the field, the Iraqi economy may face significant risks going forward, reducing opportunities for economic diversification, increasing dependency on non-productive government jobs, adding to the burden on state spending, and making it more difficult to reduce emissions and halt environmental degradation. The results will be painful, especially for youth, and could lead to displacement, migration, conflict, and social unrest, potentially putting society at large in danger. – Middle East Institute  


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is asking the U.S. to provide security guarantees and help to develop its civilian nuclear program as Washington tries to broker diplomatic relations between the kingdom and Israel, people involved in discussions between the two countries said. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia and Russia reaffirmed close cooperation in the OPEC+ oil cartel, and discussed Ukraine, grains and Syria at a foreign ministers’ meeting Thursday. – Bloomberg

James M. Dorsey writes: Satellite imagery in recent years suggests that the kingdom has built missile bases with the help of Chinese technology. As Iran inches ever closer to nuclear weapons capability, Saudi Arabia is pushing to build nuclear power plants. Saudi Arabia is also aiming to acquire the knowledge and technological building blocks to match Iran if it crosses a threshold for the production of nuclear weapons. – Algemeiner

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt, one of the world’s largest wheat importers, has given notice it will withdraw at the end of June from a decades-old U.N. grains treaty, causing consternation among some other signatories to the convention. – Reuters

Tunisia’s bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund have looked stalled for months, and there is little sign President Kais Saied is willing to agree to the steps needed to reach a deal and help the country avoid a financial crisis. – Reuters 

Bahrain has revoked entry visas issued to Human Rights Watch to attend an international parliamentary conference, the rights group said on Friday, days after raising concerns about the Gulf state’s rights record. – Reuters 

Yemen’s main southern separatist group on Thursday voiced concern about direct talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthi movement and warned against any deal that goes beyond the parametres of United Nations-led peace efforts. – Reuters 

The United Nations announced Thursday it signed an agreement to purchase a very large vessel that can transfer more than 1 million barrels of crude now stranded in a rusting tanker off the coast of war-torn Yemen. – Associated Press

Bulgaria’s highest court has upheld the life sentences imposed in absentia on two Hezbollah terrorists convicted of a July 2012 terrorist attack at the airport in the resort of Burgas which resulted in the deaths of five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver. – Algemeiner

Aaron Y. Zelin writes: Alternatively, if Washington maintains its current passive approach, Saied will only expand and consolidate his efforts to abuse state institutions, destroy Tunisia’s (admittedly imperfect) democratic gains, and arrest political opponents. […]Based on the current trajectory, Saied seems doomed to repeat Ben Ali’s mistakes, and is increasingly unlikely to return to Tunisia’s slow but steady track of post-revolutionary reform on his own accord. – Washington Institute 

Mordechai Chaziza writes: The Gulf states recognize that there is no substitute for U.S. military presence in the Gulf to block Iranian aggression. […]Nevertheless, it takes two to tango, and the GCC states must show they are responsible partners and loyal. In contrast, the Biden administration needs to as it seeks to reconfigure its reliability in everything related to its regional security obligations. – The National Interest 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday, as the U.S. and South Korea prepare to hold large-scale military exercises. – Wall Street Journal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire artillery drill simulating an attack on a South Korean airfield and called for his troops to be ready to respond to the enemies’ “frantic war preparation moves” — apparently referring to the recent series of military drills between the United States and South Korea. – Associated Press

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Friday vowed to strengthen deterrence against North Korea’s threats by establishing a nuclear planning and implementation system with the United States. – Reuters 


Chinese leader Xi Jinping secured an unprecedented third term as his country’s head of state, completing a transition into the second decade of his rule as he seeks to reassert himself as a global statesman and navigate an increasingly fractious rivalry with the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

China and the US have locked themselves into a new cycle of recriminations, provoking fresh worries that the world’s two biggest economies are heading down a path that could one day lead to the once unthinkable: the possibility of open conflict. – Bloomberg

The U.S. spy community warned about the Chinese government’s “willingness to meddle” in U.S. elections in a new intelligence assessment laying out “malign” foreign influence operations by China and the broader threats posed by Beijing. – Washington Examiner 

Is the United States out to sabotage China? Chinese leaders think so. President Xi Jinping accused Washington this week of trying to isolate his country and hold back its development. That reflects the ruling Communist Party’s growing frustration that its pursuit of prosperity and global influence is threatened by U.S. restrictions on access to technology, its support for Taiwan and other moves seen by Beijing as hostile. – Associated Press

​China ​ripped off US military technology to build an advanced high-tech jet fighter, and experts warn that more must be done to protect American weapons information​ and keep Beijing from making such huge developmental leaps​ in the future, according to a report​ Thursday​. – New York Post 

Chinese artificial intelligence groups are skirting export controls to access high-end US chips through intermediaries, revealing potential loopholes in Washington’s blockade of cutting-edge technology to the country. – Financial Times

Editorial: Xi is now fully embarked on what he regards as a course of destiny. He will either arrive at his intended destination or be prevented from doing so. But he will not stop voluntarily. The future peace, prosperity, and freedom of Americans and citizens of other free countries require that Xi be obstructed. – Washington Examiner 

Josh Rogin writes: That’s not dangerous groupthink. That’s a rational, bipartisan approach for defending American interests and promoting American values. The demand signal is coming from U.S. allies in the region who are on the front lines. They are mobilizing to meet this challenge head-on, and Washington must respond to their calls for help. – Washington Post

Minxin Pei writes: Striking that balance is easier said than done, however, and the White House will face bipartisan pressure from Congress to go further. Biden might want to remind critics that US leverage over China has been hard-won. It should not be squandered lightly. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: The one area where this budget might get a pass is in terms of “resilience.” Because if, as is likely, the Biden administration requests that the Navy be able to scrap its worse-than-useless littoral combat ships, it will be cronyists in Congress such as Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) who likely stand in the way. […]We’ll see what comes out on Monday. But at the headline level, this budget is utterly incompatible with confronting the threat China poses. – Washington Examiner 

Michael Lucchese writes: The same choice which faced Churchill’s Britain faces Biden’s America. The genocidal, hegemonic ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party are eerily similar to the ambitions of the Nazi Party. By telling the truth about those ambitions and the threat they pose, this administration could leave the United States much more prepared to face the coming crisis. – Washington Examiner 

J.P. Carroll writes: As the two largest economies in the world, it is vitally important that channels of communication be kept open between the United States and China. The stakes are too high for any sort of misunderstanding between the two superpowers, especially as the Biden administration has its hands full in helping the Ukrainian people reclaim their country from Vladimir Putin’s aggression. Hopefully, effective US-Chinese diplomacy during this year’s United Nations climate change conference will reduce those tensions soon. – The Hill  

William Moloney writes: Though many American elites, from business to government to media, seem blind to this emergent reality, in terms of brute military capacity and the political ruthlessness needed to use it, it is not China or Russia that is isolated in this rapidly changing world, but the United States. President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have squandered Nixon’s legacy with China and canceled any benefits it may have conferred. – The Hill  

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: Regardless of who is targeted, far too often influential Americans are parroting Chinese and Russian disinformation as U.S. national security talking points. This creates the disconcerting reality of some fellow citizens appearing to be in closer lockstep with Xi and Putin — two dictators guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity — than with our own democratically elected government. – The Hill  

Kari A. Bingen writes: Further expansion of its telecommunications services could boost Beijing’s presence in foreign terrestrial networks. This would provide the CCP with remote access to route data back to Beijing (as was reportedly done to the African Union Headquarters, whose network infrastructure was built and operated by Chinese entities), grant it extensive surveillance and coercive powers, enable it to block internet access or censor information, and exert greater control over international data flows. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 

South Asia

Pakistan’s foreign minister said Thursday his country is facing “a perfect storm” of troules — an economic crisis, the consequences of catastrophic flooding, and terrorism “that is once again rearing its ugly head” as a result of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. – Associated Press

Australia wants to strengthen security cooperation with India while also deepening economic and cultural ties, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Friday ahead of talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. – Associated Press

The United States and India will sign a memorandum of understanding on semiconductors as both countries discuss coordination of investment and continue dialogue around policies to spur private investment, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday. – Reuters 


Since the undersea internet cables that serve the Matsu island chain — part of Taiwan but at points only a few miles from China — were severed just over a month ago, Li has felt like everyone on the island of Nangan has turned up at her outpost of Chunghwa Telecom to get online: soldiers calling family, kids doing their homework, hotel owners checking online bookings. – Washington Post

Mass street protests continued for a third night in Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi on Thursday, despite the ruling party’s decision earlier in the day to meet the protesters’ demand and reverse a bill critics say would limit freedoms. – Washington Post

The leaders of South Korea and Japan will meet next week for a summit on strengthening ties, both governments said Thursday, days after South Korea unveiled a step toward resolving strained ties stemming from Tokyo’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. – Associated Press

The US intelligence community assesses that China doesn’t want a military conflict over Taiwan even as it’s determined to bring the independently governed island under its control, officials told a House of Representatives hearing Thursday. – Bloomberg

Alarmed by China’s success in wooing Pacific island nations, the Biden administration is proposing to spend billions to keep three of those countries in the U.S. orbit. President Joe Biden’s proposed federal budget released on Thursday includes more than $7.1 billion in funding for the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. – Associated Press

A New Zealand pilot who was taken hostage last month by rebels in Indonesia’s Papua region has appeared in videos put out by separatists calling for the United Nations to mediate in the conflict in the resource-rich region. – Reuters 

The Federated States of Micronesia held talks with Taiwan in February about switching diplomatic ties for $50 million in assistance after growing frustrated at China, the outgoing president of the Pacific island nation has said in a letter. – Reuters 

As a Philippine Coast Guard plane carrying journalists flew over the Spratly Islands in the hotly disputed South China Sea, a Chinese voice issued a stern command over the radio: “Leave immediately.” – Agence France-Presse

Emil Avdaliani writes: Ultimately diffusing the present crisis will only begin to address Georgia’s current problems. Ranging from the economic to the (still harder) need to create a more collaborative political landscape, these will take years to address. Ditching a poorly conceived law is nonetheless a good start. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

John Bradford and Scott Edwards write: The United States might also consider augmenting the financial support it provides to the UNODC’s maritime security capacity-building projects with human capital from the Coast Guard. It should almost certainly invite the coast guard forces of close partners such as Japan, India, Australia, and Singapore to send observers to the Southeast Asian Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative Commanders’ Forum it sponsors. – Foreign Policy 


A summary report on the probe compiled for senior German officials said the vessel, a sport sailing boat, was rented in northern Germany days before the blasts by the six people, some of whom presented Ukrainian passports as identification, the official said. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union is relaxing rules on government tax breaks and other benefits for clean-tech companies, part of an effort to prevent businesses being lured to the U.S. by new subsidies offered under the Inflation Reduction Act. – Wall Street Journal

Danish police have searched for a yacht on a tiny Baltic Sea island near the Nord Stream pipeline blast sites, the local administrator said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Polish Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. ambassador on Thursday about the actions of a television station, it said in a statement without naming the station or specifying what it believes it did wrong. – Reuters 

Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak will aim to turn the page on years of acrimonious relations between their countries when the British premier travels to Paris on Friday. – Bloomberg

Now Europe’s latest conflict is offering a flicker of hope to a place seemingly in terminal decline. The desperation to ramp up weapons production to help Ukraine repel Russia is about to reach a town that had been left to its empty isolation long ago. – Bloomberg

The UK government suspects Russian nationals have exploited lax checks by the companies register in attempts to launder war profits stolen from Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Sweden will continue NATO membership negotiations with Turkey as it seeks to revive a stalled process to join the defense alliance, according to the Nordic nation’s chief negotiator. – Bloomberg

The EU is considering joint maritime patrols and naval exercises to combat Russian spy ships and protect critical marine infrastructure. – Financial Times

Editorial: It would be in both Europe and the UK’s interests for the Paris summit to be followed by similar bilateral meetings in Berlin and elsewhere. Sunak should also use the momentum created by his Windsor deal to bolster EU ties, for example by overcoming any wavering and taking the UK into the Horizon science programme. – Financial Times

Jeremy Shapiro writes: At the moment, however, ex-post co-ordination works because the EU’s deep and growing security dependence on the US means European governments have little choice but to defer to Washington on security issues. And, from an American perspective, the increasing integration of the security and economic spheres, particularly in the struggle with China, means that nearly every issue is a security issue. – Financial Times

Louis Dugit-Gros writes: If this trend continues unhampered, Europe may come out of the Ukraine war stronger than it was before Feb. 24, 2022. In the long run, the United States could possibly afford to devote more resources in Asia, a region where the palette of non-military tools developed by Europe, coupled with a more robust European defense, could help to effectively address the systemic challenges posed by China. – The Hill  

Matthias Matthijs writes: The United Kingdom will have to navigate a world where trade liberalization and deregulation as well as advancing democratization are a thing of the past. Sunak’s bet has been to kiss and make up with the EU over Northern Ireland, hoping this reconciliation will open doors in the United States and the rest of the world, but there is no getting around the fact that a solid majority of people in the United Kingdom today are seriously wondering whether the Brexit gamble was worth all the trouble. – Foreign Affairs 

Richard Kraemer writes: Viktor Orbán is Vladimir Putin’s man in Brussels and beyond, despite the threats to NATO. As he links up with fellow authoritarian-trending travelers along these gas routes, Orbán’s multiple acts of Russian allegiance should ring alarm bells in Western capitals. Is anyone listening? – The National Interest 


At Least 36 people were killed by extremists in conflict-riddled eastern Congo, the military said on Thursday. The Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel militia with links to the Islamic State group, killed civilians in Mukondi village in North Kivu province, said Congo army spokesman in Beni town, Capt. Anthony Mwalushayi. – Associated Press

Islamic extremists killed at least 25 fishermen during an attack in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno state, the police told The Associated Press on Thursday. – Associated Press

Unidentified militants in Burkina Faso killed 11 soldiers and wounded four others during an operation to retake territory in the east and north on Thursday, the military said. – Reuters 

The Americas

A faction of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel left five men tied up on a Matamoros street with a sign claiming they were responsible for kidnapping four Americans and killing two of them and a Mexican woman who was hit by a stray bullet, officials said Thursday. – Wall Street Journal

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Thursday pushed back against Republican lawmakers who had called on the Biden administration to take military action against drug cartels across the border following the killings of two Americans in Matamoros, saying such demands were a threat to Mexican sovereignty. – Washington Post

The Brazilian president’s top foreign policy adviser has met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in the first outreach by Brazil’s new leftist administration to both the government and its opposition. – Reuters 

Monique Clesca writes: For decades, Haitians have struggled to build a democracy. Too often, Haiti’s international partners have decided that Haitian efforts at democracy are too complicated and too messy, and foreign countries and international agencies have responded with intervention to manipulate electoral levers and outcomes. But those outside efforts have failed spectacularly, and they helped create a Haitian government as dependent on international power as it is on criminal enterprises and gang violence. The only way to build something new is to start fresh. – Foreign Affairs 

North America

Mr. Biden’s fiscal year 2024 budget plan, released Thursday, calls for an increase over the roughly $6.4 trillion that the White House expects the federal government to spend this fiscal year. It would reduce federal budget deficits by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade, the White House said. – Wall Street Journal

Canadian Police said on Thursday they are investigating allegations that two Montreal-area centers are being used as Chinese state-backed “police stations” to intimidate or harass Canadians of Chinese origin. – Reuters 

Canada’s top general said he was concerned that his country’s armed forces, already stretched thin by support for Ukraine and NATO, do not have the capacity to lead a possible security mission to Haiti. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Canada on March 23-24 to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and address Canada’s parliament, the White House said on Thursday. – Reuters

Canada will be fast-tracking the procurement of defense equipment for the NATO mission it leads in Latvia, which borders Russia and Belarus, Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said on Thursday. – Reuters  


Michigan has banned TikTok on state devices because TikTok is Chinese spyware. But the bill contains an exemption so that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer can still dance for and promote herself to her 200,000 followers. – Washington Examiner 

The Department of Defense on Thursday released its cyber workforce strategy aimed at increasing and improving its labor force by recruiting, training and retaining the best talent. – The Hill  

President Biden’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 budget calls for wide-ranging investments to boost the cybersecurity resilience of the U.S. government and to implement his recently release cyber strategy, which calls for a whole-of-government approach to boosting U.S. digital defenses. – CyberScoop

A sample of data stolen from Washington, D.C.’s health insurance exchange includes the personal information of a prominent former defense official and employees of lobbying firms, an indication that the breach may be the latest in a string to expose the personal information belonging to members of the U.S. national security establishment. – CyberScoop

Eli Lake writes: The behavior of Democrats on the committee Thursday is part of a gradual evolution for a political party that historically defended the principle of free speech and the First Amendment. Since Mr. Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Democrats have pressured social media companies to remove alleged disinformation and misinformation from their platforms. – New York Sun

Kaylee McGhee White writes: The government certainly has the power to take action to limit TikTok’s influence. In fact, a bipartisan bill that would ban TikTok in the United States appears to have the support of President Joe Biden. But ultimately, the responsibility to protect children from TikTok’s pernicious effects lies with parents. And regardless of whether Washington decides to act, families should — and quickly. – Washington Examiner


The Biden administration is requesting $842 billion in its new defense budget request for fiscal 2024, which continues the trend of it increasing from year to year. – Washington Examiner 

The Defense Department is funding experiments on animals to determine if radio frequency waves could be the source of the mysterious ailment referred to as “Havana Syndrome” that has afflicted hundreds of U.S. government personnel in recent years, according to public documents and three people familiar with the effort. – Politico 

The commandant of the Marine Corps on Thursday defended amphibious warships, even as the Pentagon’s fiscal 2024 budget isn’t likely to offer much support for these platforms. – Defense News

The U.S. must “regenerate” its electronic warfare capabilities after years of neglect to ensure dominance on battlefields of the future, John Sherman, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, told a congressional panel. – Defense News

The Air Force wants to stop flying its remaining fleet of A-10 Warthogs by 2028, according to the service’s top uniformed official. – Breaking Defense

Editorial: The budget commits to “ongoing nuclear modernization,” but recapitalizing all three parts of the triad is a generational challenge that is straining budgets. The document nods at expanding “the production capacity of the industrial base to ensure the Army can meet strategic demands for critical munitions,” and Congress last year authorized multiyear contracts that should help. […]Mr. Biden’s largest failure is promising his budget will keep “America safe,” instead of leveling with the public about the threats and what will be required to meet them. – Wall Street Journal

Eric Ingram writes: The time is now to act.  Investing in space domain awareness will propel the U.S. to the pinnacle of space capabilities, with the ability to analyze and avoid collisions or other threats in real-time. In-space visibility promises another benefit — enabling us to more proactively track and study UFOs before they enter our airspace — a win-win for humanity and any future contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. – The Hill  

Mark Esper and Deborah Lee James write: These are just a few of our recommendations to accelerate the adoption of innovation in the Pentagon. In the coming weeks, the commission will release its interim report with a full list of recommendations for Congress and DOD. We are confident that, if implemented, the United States will be better prepared for the challenges ahead, and more capable of winning the future. – The Hill  

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: As a result, the Biden administration appears to have not learned its lesson when submitting its defense budget request to Congress. Last year, it submitted a request that just barely allowed the Defense Department to tread water amid red hot inflation, and this year it seems to be following the same playbook. […]But it would have been better to have a full and committed partner in the White House in seeing the world as it is and recognizing reality gets a vote when it comes to defense expenditures. – American Enterprise Institute 

David W. Barno and Nora Bensahel write: For 50 years, the U.S. military has relied upon an unbroken stream of willing volunteers to fill its ranks in times of peace and war. However, most of the trends that have created the present recruiting crisis will not change anytime soon, and if left unaddressed, they could soon threaten the ability of the all-volunteer force to protect the nation. A return to conscription is neither desirable nor politically viable, since as we often like to joke, the only groups in America who oppose a draft are Democrats, Republicans, and independents. – War on the Rocks