Fdd's overnight brief

March 11, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Tensions deepened over the weekend between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as hopes of striking a deal to pause fighting before the start of Ramadan crumbled and a U.S. military ship set sail to ease the flow of aid into Gaza. – Wall Street Journal

Hamas leaders are betting that the holy month of Ramadan can turn the momentum of the war in Gaza in their favor, heaping diplomatic pressure on Israel to stop its offensive and help secure the militant Islamist group’s survival.  – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration is warning Israel of the risks of attacking the southern Gaza city of Rafah, intensifying efforts to get its Middle East ally to rethink the conduct of the five-month-old war. – Wall Street Journal

An international plan to facilitate aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip via the Mediterranean Sea will launch this weekend, European officials said, testing the ability of the U.S. and its allies to deliver food and essential supplies to a Palestinian population caught in a growing hunger crisis. – Wall Street Journal

The last email Israeli tech executive Itamar Ben Hemo sent before a bullet ripped through his ribs, diaphragm and intestine was a note to a colleague. Ben Hemo wanted to know how close the startup he founded was to signing on a new client. – Wall Street Journal

The signs of economic distress are everywhere in Nablus, a once-bustling hub of Palestinian commerce now paralyzed by Israel’s tightening grip on life and work in the West Bank. School-age children sell candy for change and the upscale hotels and restaurants are closed. Jobless men smoke cigarettes on street corners, while taxis sit idle, their routes out of the city blocked by Israeli troops. – Washington Post

Sweden and Canada are resuming funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, weeks after the embattled agency faced explosive allegations of ties with Hamas that led to more than a dozen countries pausing payments. – Washington Post

As the sermon about the Muslim holy month of Ramadan sounded over the speakers from Al Aqsa Mosque, 13-year-old Yousef al-Sideeq sat on a bench outside the compound’s gates. “Most Fridays they prevent me from getting in, for no reason,” the young Jerusalem resident said, referring to the Israeli police. – New York Times

The United Nations human rights chief on Friday condemned Israeli plans to build more than 3,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, warning that settlement expansion amounts to a war crime. – New York Times

The United States and Jordan carried out a new airdrop of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s Palestinians on Sunday, parachuting in more than 11,500 meals, the U.S. military said. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that at least 13,000 “terrorists” were among Palestinians killed during Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and vowed to press ahead with an offensive in the south of the enclave – a move U.S. President Joe Biden has described as his “red line.” – Reuters

While thousands of Muslim worshipers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray on the first night of the holy month of Ramadan Sunday, police officers scuffled with some attendees at the entrance to the flashpoint Temple Mount site, according to a video circulating on social media. – Times of Israel

Editorial: There are costs to this Dearborn strategy toward Israel—not least its message to Hamas and its backers in Iran that their strategy of putting civilians in harm’s way is working politically. Why agree to a hostage swap if their current strategy is driving a wedge between Israel and the U.S.? Mr. Biden’s red-line threats don’t help Israel or his political standing at home. The best way he can help himself politically is to let Israel win the war as rapidly as possible. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: The threat of a mass departure by the haredim may not be an empty threat and it should not be acceptable. It raises important questions about religious freedom and national security in the State of Israel. Ultimately, however, there is only one side of this debate threatening to leave the country if asked to serve. If the threats are false, it is an cruel gesture. If they are real, they have misinterpreted the word of God. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: It’s possible to embrace two seemingly opposing concepts in regards to the war in Gaza: that Israel needs to decisively defeat Hamas to the point that they are no longer a threat and that Israel needs to proactively bring and enable more aid to reach the civilian population.  The US is not going to forget that, and as Israel continues to fight Hamas and work for the release of the remaining hostages, it can’t afford to forget it either. – Jerusalem Post

Elliot Kaufman writes: Israel has promised to show the U.S. its plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah, but a senior official says Israel doesn’t need a “green light.” Probably Israel should have taken Rafah at the start, “when the world was still in shock,” as one military official puts it. But the country is united on the questions that matter, and it has the will to outlast the Biden administration. For Hamas, it’s Operation Ramadan or bust. – Wall Street Journal

Nicholas Kristof writes: That was the last message from Alshannat. Roughly 1 percent of Gaza’s people today are Hamas fighters. To understand what the other 99 percent are enduring, as the United States supplies weapons for this war and vetoes cease-fire resolutions at the United Nations, think of Alshannat and multiply him by two million. – New York Times

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet write: The effect could be similar to the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive, which began on Vietnam’s Lunar New Year. Israel and the United States cannot allow that to happen. They must be on guard and mindful of Putin and Khamenei’s machinations, as well as their support of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. – The Hill

Ahmed Charai writes: Finally, we need a realistic and courageous American approach that recognizes that the Palestinians need an alternative to Hamas’ ideology and the perpetual conflict it feeds. That alternative must provide real hope for jobs, housing, schools, and hospitals. Out of Palestinian prosperity will come lasting peace that ensures security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians. – The National Interest

 

Iran

Iran is responsible for the “physical violence” in detention that led to Mahsa Amini’s death in 2022 and committed crimes against humanity during its crackdown on the protests that followed, an independent U.N. fact-finding mission has said. – Washington Post

Police in Peru announced the arrest Friday of an Iranian citizen who was purportedly a member of Iran’s Quds Force and allegedly planned to kill an Israeli citizen in the South American country. – Associated Press

IRGC Quds Force Commander Esmail Qaani threatened Israel on March 7. It is the latest threat by the Iranian regime and follows messaging from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten to try to inflame tensions in the region in the next weeks. – Jerusalem Post

Arash Azizi writes:  Nor is it the Iran dreamed of by our vibrant civil society, feminist groups, trade unions and student associations that have been at the forefront of confronting the regime: a truly democratic country, with social, economic and gender justice. But it is the one most likely in the near future, due to the simple fact that military technocrats are more organized and likely to quickly fill the vacuum left by Ayatollah Khamenei’s death. Our struggles, however, won’t end with a mere change in rulers or some policies. – New York Times

Neville Teller writes: Writing from Tehran’s Evin prison, where he has spent more than eight years behind bars, dissident reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, an outspoken critic of Khamenei, called the elections “engineered” and a “historic failure” of the system and of the Supreme Leader. Yet this perverse manipulation of the founding principle of Western democracy – free and fair elections – is how Iran’s regime maintains its unyielding grip on power. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Russia’s ability to churn out tanks, missiles and shells has surprised the West and heaped further pressure on Ukraine. The question now is how long it can continue. For some Western officials and analysts, Russia’s military production figures are misleading and mask challenges including a shortage of labor and a falloff in quality. – Wall Street Journal

In recent weeks, videos have surfaced of Indians entangled in Russia’s war effort beseeching the Indian government to help. At least two Indian nationals have been killed, according to India’s foreign ministry, which said on Friday it has information about at least 20 Indians who were duped into working with the Russian Army and that it is working to extricate them. – Wall Street Journal

Leaders in Ukraine vehemently rejected Pope Francis’s suggestion of negotiations with Russia to bring an end to the war — his use of the words “white flag” drawing particular scorn — reiterating that the country would never surrender. – Washington Post

The jets are ready, and the flight instructors are waiting, at a new training center in Romania that was created to teach Ukraine’s pilots to fly the F-16 warplane. But there’s a catch: The Ukrainian pilots have yet to arrive, despite declarations last summer that the center would play a crucial role in getting them into the air to defend their country from increasingly deadly Russian strikes. – New York Times

When the eastern city of Avdiivka, a Ukrainian stronghold, fell to Russian forces three weeks ago, Kyiv and its allies feared that Moscow’s troops could build on their momentum and quickly press ahead toward strategic military hubs and population centers. – New York Times

Aleksei A. Navalny built Russia’s largest opposition force in his image, embodying a freer, fairer Russia for millions. His exiled team now faces the daunting task of steering his political movement without him. – New York Times

Russian drones killed three people in Ukraine’s south and north on Friday, while a missile strike a day earlier killed two and wounded dozens more, local authorities said. – Reuters

The Russian embassy in Washington is in “close contact” with the U.S. State Department ahead of the presidential election in Russia this week to ensure the security of the diplomatic mission, ambassador Anatoly Antonov said on Monday. – Reuters

A visit by President Emmanuel Macron to Ukraine should take place in the coming weeks, the French Presidency said on Sunday, the third time a planned trip to the country has been postponed since February. – Reuters

Janusz Bugajski writes: On Jan. 22, Ukrainian Unity Day, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree in solidarity with Ukrainians in Russia, estimated at between 3 million to 6 million people. By promoting the collective rights of Ukrainians who have been subject to Russification and repression, Kyiv is asserting its determination to defeat Moscow and defend its nation. – Washington Examiner

Kseniya Kirillova writes: The skills learned in Ukraine are not easily transferable to everyday society. Russian commanders and troops have been demolishing Ukrainian communities and engaging in extrajudicial executions, as well as abuse of their own comrades. Whether war veterans will actually be able to assume significant positions in the Russian management system is open to question. However, the undeniable fact remains: the degradation of Russian society is blindingly obvious and Putin’s troops won’t be able to fix the profound problems it faces as a result of his rule. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Nico Lange writes: Ukraine’s European partners must urgently pull themselves together after the dithering and uncertainty of recent weeks, and make a joint effort to turn the balance of power in Ukraine’s favor by providing military aid immediately before the Russian presidential elections. Since “elections” are also being held in the occupied territories of Ukraine, Ukraine’s partners cannot recognize the Russian presidential elections. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Hezbollah

The head of the IDF’s Northern Command met with security coordinators to discuss security along the northern border on Friday, as the IDF conducted operational strikes on Hezbollah targets on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

Hezbollah fired several volleys of rockets at northern Israel on Sunday, after an Israeli airstrike the previous night in Lebanon killed five people, including three members of the terror group. – Times of Israel

The IDF has begun preparing for a potential war with Hezbollah in northern Israel, launching Operation Steady Anchor to protect tens of thousands of Israelis who do not have shelters or safe rooms. – Ynet

Turkey

Turkish and U.S. officials held comprehensive talks about the wars in Ukraine and Gaza and various bilateral issues during meetings in Washington, Turkey’s foreign minister said late on Friday. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said local elections scheduled for March 31 would be his last vote, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday. – Reuters

Turkish police detained 33 people suspected of ties to the Islamic State group who were allegedly preparing attacks ahead of the country’s local elections later this month, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said Sunday. – Associated Press

Lebanon

An anonymous Lebanese Treasury official told the Saudi-affiliated media source, Al-Arabia, on Sunday that Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Asia and the Middle East in the Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Jesse Baker, demanded Lebanese officials stop and prevent the funneling of financial aid from Iran to Hezbollah and Hamas, on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Over the past week, the IDF carried out a logistics supply drill as part of its preparations for a potential ground offensive in Lebanon. In the exercise, forces practiced delivering equipment, water, fuel, and ammunition to simulated “maneuvering forces” in Lebanon amid fighting, the IDF says. – Times of Israel

Asher Kaufman writes: This would still leave the dispute over the area of the Shebaa Farms/Sion Mountain Range unresolved, which takes us back to square one. So long as Israel, Syria, and Hezbollah are in a state of war and the Israel-Palestine conflict festers — and in fact continues to be exacerbated by the day — the chances of resolving the territorial disputes along the Israel-Lebanon border are slim and they are unlikely to be used as constructive leverage to end the hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel. – Middle East Institute

Egypt

Egypt has taken major steps towards lowering its budget deficit by selling real estate as well as agreeing a support package with the International Monetary Fund, its finance minister said on Sunday. – Reuters

Egypt was in contact with senior Hamas and Israeli figures as well as other mediators on Sunday in an effort to restart negotiations for a truce in the Gaza Strip during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Monday or Tuesday, two Egyptian security sources said. – Reuters

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said on Saturday that reconstructing the Gaza Strip after the war will cost $90 billion as a response to the IDF beginning operations in Rafah. He also reiterated that Egypt would not allow Palestinian refugees inside Egypt’s borders, saying, “We will not assist the separation of Palestinians from their land.” – Jerusalem Post

Arabian Peninsula

Israel had just established relations with the Emirates through a U.S.-brokered deal. Business groups had sprung up to funnel cross-country investment. Two women, Emirati and Israeli, posed for a photograph holding hands atop a skyscraper in Dubai. American, Emirati and Israeli officials predicted that their deal, called the Abraham Accords, would spread peace across the Middle East. – New York Times

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) announced the death of its leader, Khalid Batarfi, on Sunday, the SITE Intelligence group said. – Reuters

The bell of a new church built near Iraq’s ancient city of Ur chimed for the first time last week as part of a push to lure back pilgrims to a country that is home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities. – Reuters

Yemen

U.S., French and British forces downed dozens of drones in the Red Sea area overnight and on Saturday after Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis targeted bulk carrier Propel Fortune and U.S. destroyers in the region, the U.S. military said in a statement. – Reuters

A vessel travelling 50 nautical miles southeast of Yemen’s city of Aden reported on Friday two explosions in the sea ahead of it, but the ship was not struck or damaged and the crew is safe, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said. – Reuters

U.S. Navy ships and aircraft shot down 15 uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAVs) fired by Yemen’s Houthis in the Red Sea area early on Saturday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said. – Reuters

Marc Champion writes: To have a real chance of ending the Houthi threat to international shipping – or indeed cables – the US Navy would have to target Houthi command and control centers in Sana’a and other urban areas, inevitably causing civilian casualties that would only add to US troubles in the Middle East. To reliably succeed would demand a full invasion. Neither option would be remotely worth the cost. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

Three key Libyan leaders said on Sunday they had agreed on the “necessity” of forming a new unified government that would supervise long-delayed elections. A political process to resolve more than a decade of conflict in Libya has been stalled since an election scheduled for December 2021 collapsed amid disputes over the eligibility of the main candidates. – Reuters

A powerful al-Qaida-linked group that dominates much of rebel-held northwestern Syria released Friday one of its founders after he spent months in jail on suspicion of having links with forces outside the country. – Associated Press

Syria’s Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad discusses the Syrian regime’s current policy in the region in an interview with Al-Ain News. It came on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers that recently took place in Cairo and is the 161st session of this confab. – Jerusalem Post

Mona Yacoubian writes: The United States stands at the forefront of stakeholders who can usher in an unprecedented era of peace. Among a multiplicity of players, it remains the indispensable actor. However, in the face of declining U.S. influence and growing anti-American sentiment, Washington must step up to reinvigorate its diplomacy while the opportunity remains to positively shape the outcome of the conflict, and with it, the new Middle East. –  The Hill

Korean Peninsula

The top U.S. military official in South Korea said his thinking has changed on deterring North Korea’s nuclear weapons. In the past, efforts were dedicated to halting Pyongyang’s development of nuclear capabilities. Now the focus is on preventing Kim Jong Un from using the weapons. – Wall Street Journal

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided an artillery firing drill by the Korean People’s Army, the country’s military force, state media KCNA reported on Friday. – Reuters

South Korea will start deploying military physicians and doctors from public health centres to strike-hit hospitals on Monday to help care for patients affected by the walkout of nearly 12,000 trainee doctors from 100 hospitals over government reform plans. – Reuters

China

China’s consumer prices rose in February, ending four straight months of declines and offering a much-needed reprieve for leaders in Beijing who are seeking to project confidence days after setting an aspirational growth target for the faltering economy this year. – Wall Street Journal

China’s ambassador to Australia said on Monday that the suspended death sentence given last month to imprisoned Australian writer Yang Hengjun may not be carried out if the former pro-democracy blogger commits no further crimes. – Reuters

Taiwan’s top security official told parliament on Monday that China runs “joint combat readiness patrols” near the democratic island every 7-10 days on average, saying Chinese forces were trying to “normalise” drills near Taiwan. – Reuters

Taiwan’s top China policy-making body urged China on Friday not to change the “status quo” around waters near Taiwan’s frontline islands by sending coast guard boats into restricted areas, saying tension should be “controllable”. – Reuters

China is likely to increase its campaign of pressure on Taiwan both before and after the island’s handover of power to a new government in May, a senior national security official in Taipei warned Monday. – Bloomberg

Editorial: That’s the same logic officials used to justify the earlier national security law. And now dozens of people languish in prison for no other crimes than exercising their right to speak freely and to demand a freer, more democratic system. Hong Kong had been something special, an outpost of freedom on Chinese soil that could mediate between Beijing and the free world. China has crushed what had been one of its greatest assets. – Washington Post

Minxin Pei writes: We may not wait long for indicators of waning Chinese influence. We can track the frequency of foreign visits by top Chinese leaders, the amount of credit issued by Chinese banks to overseas recipients, and the number of large commercial deals China strikes abroad. Perhaps it’s still too early to make immediate changes. Unquestionably, though, it is time to start thinking about what the US should prioritize as and when China continues to stumble. – Bloomberg

South Asia

The second-highest official in India’s election commission resigned abruptly on Saturday, days ahead of the expected announcement of the date of the country’s general election. – Reuters

India signed a free trade pact on Sunday with a group of European nations – Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – committing to reduce tariffs, while New Delhi receives $100 billion in investments over the next 15 years. – Reuters

A dozen U.S. firms will hold meetings with Vietnam’s public security and defence ministries next week, when a U.S. business group aims to sign a deal to facilitate the supply of gear to the country’s police, the organiser told Reuters. – Reuters

A motorcycle packed with explosives went off in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Sunday morning, killing two people and severely injuring another, police said. – Associated Press

The latest round of trade talks between the UK and India appears set to end without a breakthrough on major outstanding issues, according to people familiar with the negotiations, meaning agreement is unlikely to be reached before India holds a general election. – Bloomberg

John Lee writes: An alternative, which will fail, is to fall back on the notion that some ASEAN-led security architecture can somehow place sufficient restraints on Beijing. It won’t. Only collective hard power and demonstration of resolve will do that. And when an entity cannot even advocate for the central interests of some of its own members when under direct assault from China, then continued genuflecting by Southeast Asians or Australians at the altar of ASEAN centrality is outliving its usefulness. – Hudson Institute

Abhinav Pandya writes: Most believe India is a powerful nation that can sustain its independent foreign policy. Also, it enjoys a unique position to do so because of its history of taking a principled and non-aligned stand on global issues. However, the United States must be more perceptive and understand India’s unique approach toward international relations. Such an approach is an effective way to prevent the world community from falling into rival military alliances and escalating to war. – The National Interest

Asia

The Philippines has been striking new defense agreements with other countries at a rapid clip, seeking to build what officials here call a “network of alliances” that could deter Chinese aggression in disputed waters. – Washington Post

It is this kind of online expression, which helped fuel the largest citizens’ movement in Sri Lanka in decades, that activists and rights groups fear is now endangered. They are concerned about a new law, the Online Safety Act, that gives the government wide-ranging powers to deem speech on social media to be “prohibited statements.” – New York Times

The Philippines is counting on the US and its allies to play a crucial role in its plans to explore energy resources in the disputed South China Sea, according to Manila’s envoy to Washington. – Bloomberg

Japan and the US are discussing collaborating on military gear in a bid to provide more munitions to Ukraine and increasing ways for the Asian country to repair American warships and jet fighters, the Yomiuri newspaper said. – Bloomberg

 

Europe

A few weeks ago, some 80 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside Conservative Party lawmaker Tobias Ellwood’s house chanting “Tobias Ellwood you can’t hide, you signed up for genocide.” He was warned by police to stay away from his home. – Wall Street Journal

Sweden joined NATO officially Thursday in a historic expansion of the military alliance. The historic expansion of the military alliance — Finland also joined last year — was set in motion by Russia’s war in Ukraine. – Washington Post

Portugal’s Socialist Party conceded defeat on Sunday night in a very tight national election that ended the party’s eight years in power and reflected the country’s drift to the right, which follows a broader trend in Europe. – New York Times

Voters in Ireland rejected two proposed changes to the country’s Constitution that would have removed language about women’s duties being in the home and broadened the definition of family beyond marriage, dealing a blow to the government that analysts said suggested the weakness of their campaign to pass the proposals. – New York Times

The Swiss government on Friday approved a new negotiating mandate for talks with Brussels to modernize the country’s relationship with the European Union after a previous bid unraveled in 2021. – Reuters

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Saturday that he will propose that Spain’s parliament recognizes a Palestinian state. “I will propose granting Spain’s recognition to the Palestinian state,” Sánchez said. “I do this out of moral conviction, for a just cause and because it is the only way that the two states, Israel and Palestine, can live together in peace.” – Associated Press

Poland’s foreign minister says the presence of NATO forces “is not unthinkable” and that he appreciates the French president for not ruling out that idea. – Associated Press

Edward Lucas writes: Germany confounded expectations in ending its dependence on Russian natural gas. Western allies can work around toxic decision-making in small countries such as Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia. But Germany is too big to ignore. Germany clearly needs a new security policy. But the rest of us need a new policy toward Germany. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Africa

Nigeria has been rocked by two mass kidnappings in the past week, with the United Nations, government officials and local residents saying that hundreds of women and children were abducted in separate incidents. – Washington Post

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two entities it accused of advancing Russia’s “malign activities” in the Central African Republic (CAR) and enabling the Wagner mercenary group, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement. – Reuters

Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group on Saturday welcomed a call by the United Nations Security Council for a cessation of hostilities in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, offering a potential respite from the 11-month-old conflict. – Reuters

The Economic Community of Central African States agreed to lift sanctions on Gabon on Saturday and reintegrate it into the regional bloc, six months after suspending its membership in response to a coup that ousted President Ali Bongo. – Reuters

Elections set to be held in South Sudan in December are not on a path for a credible process without urgent action, a senior U.S. State Department official warned on Friday, as the government lags in its preparations. – Reuters

The United States State Department said Friday that Zimbabwean authorities detained officials of the U.S. development agency, USAID, before deporting them, as relations between the historical foes deteriorate further. – Associated Press

William Rampe writes: Complete agreement on a proper course of action is unlikely. Still, U.S. and Somali leaders alike should focus on creating the conditions for all sides to mutually exist without conflict, whether this includes integration or another approach. There is no magic formula for making Somalia—and Africa as a whole—generally safer for its people. But it’s clear that an emphasis on democracy, diplomacy, and economic growth will go further than the U.S.’s continued prioritization of military aid. – The National Interest

The Americas

In 2004, Guy Philippe raced to Haiti’s presidential palace in Port-au-Prince at the head of a column of several hundred armed rebels intent on taking power from the collapsing government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. – Wall Street Journal

On a ride through the gang-controlled streets of Haiti’s capital on Friday, past an improvised barricade, the motorcycle taxi reached a crossroad. First came the smell — of something burning. Then, the sight: a corpse, charred black, lying in the middle of street, its bones and feet sticking out of the pile of ash. – Washington Post

The U.S. military said on Sunday it has carried out an operation in Haiti to airlift non-essential embassy personnel from the country and added U.S. forces to bolster embassy security, as the Caribbean nation reels under a state of emergency. – Reuters

Heavy rain in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, prompted authorities to declare a state of emergency, a government document showed on Sunday, after overflowing rivers destroyed many houses over the weekend. – Reuters

El Salvador’s lawmakers have granted a request by President Nayib Bukele for the 24th consecutive one-month extension of an anti-gang emergency decree. The vote by congress late Friday means that by March 27, the country will have spent a full two years under the decree, which suspends some rights. – Associated Press

Editorial: More broadly, the United States and other countries need to help Haiti develop a long-term political strategy to establish on-the-ground conditions for holding free elections. The Security Council has already established the U.N. Integrated Office in Haiti, but its mandate could be strengthened. Reining in the gangs and building a capable police force are the immediate challenges. But planning for the election of a credible government and rebuilding Haiti’s shattered public institutions are longer-term and costlier projects. The planning needs to start now. – Washington Post

Latin America

Two National Guard soldiers and a Border Patrol agent died in a helicopter crash near the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, authorities said. Another soldier on board was injured when the helicopter went down Friday, according to a statement released by Joint Task Force North, a joint-service military command based at Fort Bliss, Texas. – Wall Street Journal

Argentina’s monthly inflation reading likely slowed to 15.3% in February, still painfully high but down sharply from a peak in December, as new libertarian President Javier Milei’s austerity drive squeezes shoppers, helping rein in grocery price rises. – Reuters

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Mr. Milei has a mandate for change, but it won’t last forever. The longer it takes to solve inflation, the more time there is for something else to go wrong. To recover prosperity Argentina needs dollars to flow into the banking system. That will happen when Mr. Milei lifts exchange, capital and trade controls and lets the nation save, invest, earn and spend in the currency it chooses. Argentina will dollarize itself. – Wall Street Journal

United States

Hungary’s right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban lent his support to long-time ally Donald Trump’s bid to return to White House after meeting the former U.S. president in Florida late on Friday. – Reuters

The U.S. Coast Guard said an overflight on Sunday no longer detected an oil sheen off the coast of Huntington Beach, California, after oil spill discovered on Friday was cleaned up. – Reuters

John Bolton writes: Nobody is going to defend us or maintain an international system favoring America if we don’t. That requires spending the necessary resources and extending our reach through alliances like NATO. If we reduce our defense capabilities or retreat from positions of strength, others will fill the vacuum, invariably to our disadvantage. – Wall Street Journal

Parker Miller writes: Biden’s withdrawal made the U.S. look weak, incompetent, and unreliable. China immediately began pressuring Taiwan. The following year, Russia invaded Ukraine. Biden never expresses remorse for his actions. He prefers to say his withdrawal constituted an “extraordinary success.” – Washington Examiner

Cybersecurity

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) said on Sunday its cranes do not pose a cybersecurity threat, after U.S. congressional committees questioned the Chinese state-owned company’s work on cranes bound for the United States. – Reuters

An influx of artificial intelligence (AI) startups is heating up the battle for technical talent in Europe, leaving companies like Google DeepMind (GOOGL.O) to choose between paying big or losing out on the region’s best minds. – Reuters

The European Commission’s use of Microsoft (MSFT.O) software breached EU privacy rules and the bloc’s executive also failed to implement adequate safeguards for personal data transferred to non-EU countries, the EU privacy watchdog said on Monday. – Reuters

In January, Microsoft disclosed that Russian hackers had breached the company’s systems and managed to read emails belonging to senior executives. Now, the company has revealed that the breach was worse than initially understood and that the Russian hackers accessed Microsoft source code. – Cyberscoop

Andy Kessler writes: Meanwhile, the Bubblicious bat signals are flashing red again: Bitcoin, Carvana, Super Micro are all flying—even the meme-screamer Reddit is readying its IPO. Momentum investors can be relentless, so AI is up, up and away. But remember, while markets continue to grow, valuations peak and leadership often changes. Be careful out there. – Wall Street Journal

Defense

The U.S. military said it would resume flights using the Osprey aircraft, months after its entire fleet was indefinitely grounded over a series of deadly crashes. Hundreds of V-22 Ospreys were grounded in December following a fatal crash off the coast of Japan that killed eight U.S. service members. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Army is overhauling how it develops and adopts software, the lifeblood of high-tech weaponry, vehicles and battlefield information-sharing. The service on March 9 rolled out a policy, dubbed Enabling Modern Software Development and Acquisition Practices, enshrining the revisions. – Defense News

Tom Rogan writes: But ask yourself one final question: Why do members of Congress, especially officials on the Senate Intelligence Committee, keep pushing legislation for greater disclosure and clearer reporting requirements? Does that suggest they are satisfied with the status quo? And if not, why not? After all, this is a topic imbued with stigma, and politicians don’t like to waste capital on endeavors that end up making them appear to be fools. – Washington Examiner

Gabe Benitez writes:  The U.N. has all but admitted its own ineptitude in the face of global crises; meanwhile, the E.U. is wrestling with its numerous domestic policy failures. For 75 years, NATO has helped promote a safe and stable Europe. To further sustain this hard-fought peace, NATO should abandon its uneven and unequal spending demands, which create more conflicts than they resolve. – The Hill