Fdd's overnight brief

March 13, 2023

In The News


China’s brokering of a detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia accelerates a geopolitical realignment in the Middle East, as rivalries that erupted during the Arab Spring fade and outside powers besides the U.S. vie for influence. – Wall Street Journal

China’s successful brokering of a detente between Iran and Saudi Arabia on Friday forced the United States into the awkward position of applauding a major Middle East accord secured by its main geopolitical rival. – Washington Post

Saudi Arabia will watch Iran’s behaviour during the two-month window agreed upon to restore relations, Saudi columnists said on Sunday, reflecting continued wariness in the longtime rivalry between the region’s Sunni Muslim and Shi’ite powers. – Reuters

Iran’s oil exports have reached their highest level since the reimposition of U.S. sanctions in 2018, the country’s Oil Minister Javad Owji said on Sunday, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. – Reuters

Iran and the United States have reached an agreement to exchange prisoners, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state TV on Sunday, but Washington denied it as a “false” claim by Tehran. – Reuters

Iran’s supreme court has upheld the death sentence handed down to a Swedish Iranian dual national convicted of leading an Arab separatist group accused of attacks including one on a military parade in 2018 that killed 25 people, state media reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Iran has reached a deal to buy advanced Su-35 fighter planes from Russia, Iranian state media said on Saturday, expanding a relationship that has seen Iranian-built drones used in Russia’s war on Ukraine. – Reuters

Iran has announced more than 100 arrests nationwide over the mystery poisonings of thousands of schoolgirls, charging that the unidentified alleged perpetrators may have links with “hostile” groups. – Agence France-Presse

Five months ago, the US flew war planes over the Gulf to deter what it feared was the threat of an imminent Iranian attack against Saudi Arabia in a sign of the escalating tensions between the rival Middle East powers. – Financial Times 

Iran’s head of the IRGC Hossein Salami said this week that Iran has overcome US-led sanctions and that the more pressure it is subjected to, the more Iran will eventually “respond” to this pressure. He made the reference during a speech that was reported in Iranian pro-regime media. – Jerusalem Post

Despite what many may believe, warm relations between Palestinian officials and Iranian flourished way before the Islamic Revolution that turned the country into an authoritarian and theocratic state – Ynet

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday spoke to Iranian anti-regime activists in Washington, D.C., and warned that the Biden administration’s efforts to re-enter the embattled 2015 nuclear deal would pave a path “in gold” to a nuclear weapon. – Fox News

Editorial: The Journal reports that Riyadh’s conditions for joining the accords might include U.S. security guarantees and support for a civilian nuclear program. The former is worth considering, since the U.S. would probably defend the Kingdom if it were attacked without formal guarantees. Assurances that the Iran nuclear deal is dead and that the U.S. won’t let Tehran acquire a nuclear weapon would also help. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: The deal between Saudi and Iran is a significant development in the Middle East. Israel needs to speak with its allies in Washington and urge the Biden administration to become more active. Sitting on the sidelines is not smart policy; other players will fill the void. – Jerusalem Post

Vivian Nereim writes: The first and most critical test of the new agreement with Iran will be played out in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: Other contentions in the Saudi-Iranian relationship underline the paper nature of this diplomacy. The two governments are active adversaries in the Yemeni civil war and the Lebanese political crisis. Tensions over Syria and Iraq also abound. And the Iranian nuclear program is seen by the Saudis in much the same way as it is seen by Israel: an existential threat of intolerable nature. If Iran continues enriching uranium to near weapons-grade purity levels, this diplomatic engagement may wither even before the embassies are up and running. Top line: the Saudis and the Iranians are putting lipstick on their enduring political pig. – Washington Examiner

Daniel DePetris writes: In short, this isn’t a peace treaty or even a de-escalation agreement. Ultimately, it’s a mechanism to bring Iran-Saudi relations on a more predictable track. That’s a good thing in its own right. But folks who conclude that a new dawn has risen should take a breath. – Washington Examiner

Lawrence J. Haas writes: Would Washington strike Iran’s nuclear sites if that’s the only way left to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons? Does Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei think so? In light of America’s mixed messaging to both Tehran and Kyiv, one has to wonder. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: As such, Israel might not lose out. Saudi Arabia can now articulate its concerns to Iran through diplomacy, rather than being at loggerheads. Countries tend to listen more than they have a way to speak and engage with one another, rather than portraying each other as enemies. New ties could reduce the Iranian threats. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: It remains to be seen if the new ties with Iran will actually bring change. In the past many countries tried a new tack with Tehran, such as the Iran deal of 2015, and Tehran didn’t change its behavior. This is because Iran’s regime is addicted to arming militias and hollowing out Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. How will Iran change its policy after decades of doing one thing? That is a key question after the new ties were announced. – Jerusalem Post

Zvika Haimovich writes: Iran is not only a challenge to Israel. Middle Eastern states are aware of this, but the West, generally, less so. Building a regional coalition under an American umbrella provides significant and strategic validity to the goal of rolling Iran back. It is therefore worthwhile to build, expand, and improve this front through training, and to bring this regional readiness to actual military capabilities. – Jerusalem Post

Dore Gold writes: Now, Tehran is positioning itself for the final sprint to a nuclear weapon. From its experience over the last two decades it is hoping that the West will acquiesce to the fait accompli it aspires to create. – Jerusalem Post

Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, and Nicholas Carl write: Regime officials also are likely criticizing Chahar Shanbeh Souri in order to achieve their short-term goal of preventing protests on this holiday. Downplaying the significance of this holiday is in line with the regime’s longstanding effort to Islamize Iranian society. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has previously explicitly called for Iran to become more Islamic. The third and fourth steps of Khamenei’s “five steps of the revolution” are to “establish an Islamic state” and “establish an Islamic country.” – Institute for the Study of War

Russia & Ukraine

Russian forces staged multiple attacks on the eastern city of Bakhmut on Sunday in a bid to gain new ground, while Ukrainian forces defending the city were fighting to prevent being cut off after months of grinding combat. – Wall Street Journal

Untangling the mystery of who carried out the Nord Stream pipelines blasts could become a major factor in multibillion-dollar arbitration proceedings that European energy companies have filed against Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom PJSC. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian forces faced relentless Russian attacks on Bakhmut in its eastern Donetsk region on Monday, with both sides reporting mounting enemy casualties as they battled across a small river that bisects the ruined town and now marks the front line. – Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy bestowed posthumously the honour of “Hero of Ukraine” on Sunday on a soldier who defiantly said “Glory to Ukraine” before being seen to be shot dead in a video posted on social media. – Reuters

At least one person was wounded in the southern Russian region of Belgorod on Monday after Russian forces shot down four missiles over the region and its administrative centre Belgorod, the governor of the region bordering Ukraine said. – Reuters

Russia on Friday cautioned allies across the former Soviet Union of the perils of aligning with the United States after what Moscow said was a Western-backed coup attempt in Georgia similar to the Ukrainian “Maidan” revolution of 2014. – Reuters

The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force said in an interview published over the weekend that he had ambitions to turn his private military company into an “army with an ideology” that would fight for justice in Russia. – Reuters

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that Russian representatives had not yet taken part in negotiations on extending the Black Sea grain deal. – Reuters

The U.S. has begun an aggressive new push to inflict pain on Russia’s economy and specifically its oligarchs with the intent of thwarting the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press

Russia’s share of global arms exports declined sharply in the most recent five-year period, as Western sanctions against Moscow and the Kremlin’s own need to conserve weaponry for its ongoing war effort in Ukraine limited sales abroad, new data from an influential research group showed. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Russian officials railed against Ukraine’s talk of changing Russia’s official name to Muscovy, after a Ukrainian petition regarding a potential name change garnered 25,000 signatures. – The Hill

Alexey Navalny’s wife delivered a message for the imprisoned Russian opposition leader from the Oscars stage after a documentary about him won an Academy Award, saying she’s “dreaming of the day” that Russia “will be free.” – The Hill

A fight is brewing between Congress and President Biden over whether to designate as a terrorist organization the private Russian military company Wagner, which is on the front lines of aggression against Ukraine and accused of heinous atrocities there and across the world. – The Hill

The Biden administration believes that Russia is working to destabilize Moldova, though not necessarily threaten it militarily. – Washington Examiner

Russia plans to equip several Navy vessels using Kalibr missiles, a weapon with which one naval policy expert predicts the country will more widely arm its fleet. – Defense News

Editorial: Moscow’s disastrous, unprovoked invasion has exposed Mr. Putin’s regime for what it is — tyrannical, corrupt and puffed up. Bogged down in a war against an adversary with a third of its population and a tenth of its gross domestic product, Russia is hardly the formidable military power it bragged of being. If Mr. Xi imagined Mr. Putin would be a formidable counterweight to what he regards as the overbearing might of the United States, he should be disappointed. In fact, Russia has become an albatross for China, and doubling down by arming the Kremlin’s inept forces would only taint China’s standing in the world. – Washington Post

Jonathan Lemire and Alexander Ward write: For now, Biden continued to stick to his refrain that the United States will leave all decisions about war and peace to Zelenskky. But whispers have begun across Washington as to how tenable that will be as the war grinds on — and another presidential election looms. – Politico

Stephen Blank writes: These interactive deficiencies of Western policy have already delayed at least one Ukrainian offensive and may force postponement of others while giving Moscow a respite from the consequences of its own strategic incompetence in this war. If we fail to ensure a Ukrainian victory, the history books will record our strategic incompetence and the entire world will have to suffer the consequences. – The Hill

Martin Sandbu writes: If this leads Putin to cut off the energy flow completely, that is no longer the threat it once was. Recent budgetary moves suggest Moscow is beginning to struggle to find all the money it needs. When financial sanctions were imposed a year ago, they did not have the devastating economic effect many expected. Today, completing them might. – Financial Times

Kateryna Stepanenko and Frederick W. Kagan write: The conflict between the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin likely reached its climax against the backdrop of the Battle of Bakhmut. The Russian MoD – specifically Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the Russian General Staff General Valery Gerasimov – is likely seizing the opportunity to deliberately expend both elite and convict Wagner forces in Bakhmut in an effort to weaken Prigozhin and derail his ambitions for greater influence in the Kremlin. – Institute for the Study of War

Edward Lucas writes: This setup is not identical to Russia. But the similarities are striking. Russia has so far shrugged off Western sanctions. The regime’s ideology fuses an obscurantist form of Orthodox Christianity with national pride. Military setbacks seem to have little effect on the regime’s grip. Emigration is a safety valve, repression a cudgel. Corruption and hypocrisy lubricate the system rather than just corroding it. Foreigners’ cowardice and greed enable it. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Robert Seely, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, and Ted R. Bromund write: Putin’s dreams of Ukraine re-incorporated into Russia, of breaking up NATO, and of Russia leading a global anti-Western alliance are collapsing about him. Disaster for Russia’s imploding armed forces may well await, and at some point, Ukraine’s armed forces will likely threaten to break Russia’s land corridor linking Crimea to the Donbas. At that point, Putin will make one of the most fateful decisions of the century: whether to employ nuclear or chemical weapons. The U.S. must act now to minimize that threat and to ensure the protection of the American public and U.S. allies. – Heritage Foundation

Alma Keshavarz and Kiron K. Skinner write: For years, Prigozhin and his group went unnoticed, wreaking havoc in unstable environments while eluding the attention of the international community. Then, again, the world didn’t see the rise of the IRGC coming either. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, it’s essential to set our sights on Wagner before it becomes too powerful to scale back. – The National Interest


Saudi Arabia’s surprise agreement to renew diplomatic relations with Iran marks a significant blow to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s key foreign-policy goal: creating a regional alliance built around isolating Iran. – Wall Street Journal

Major American-Jewish organizations say they will boycott Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich during his Sunday visit to Washington, underlining the divide between some of Israel’s staunchest allies in the U.S. and far-right officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday he wanted to export gas to Europe via Italy, telling his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni there was room for much greater cooperation between the two countries. – Reuters

Israeli troops killed three Palestinian gunmen who attacked a their post in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the army said, adding that a fourth gunman was detained after surrendering. – Reuters

Israel’s bid to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia will not be hurt by Riyadh’s rapprochement with arch-foe Iran, a senior Israeli official was quoted as saying on Friday. – Reuters

Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated Saturday against a contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary as the government pressed ahead with the plan. – Associated Press

A Palestinian man who entered a settlement in the occupied West Bank armed with knives and explosive devices was shot and killed by an Israeli settler on Friday, the military said. – Associated Press

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett on Friday harshly criticized the restoration of ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, saying it represented the failure of Israeli efforts to create a regional alliance against Tehran and laying the blame squarely on the Netanyahu government. – Agence France-Presse

Saudi Arabia’s surprise move to restore ties with Iran adds a new, complicated layer to its delicate diplomatic dance with Israel, which craves a breakthrough normalization deal of its own, analysts said. – Agence France-Presse

A credible military threat against Iran coupled with a tough Western diplomatic stance is the best way to weaken the impact of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Tehran and Riyadh, a senior Israeli official told reporters over the weekend. – Jerusalem Post

A senior official traveling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s entourage on Friday sought to blame the deal reached by Saudi Arabia and Iran to re-establish diplomatic relations on the previous Israeli government and the Biden administration’s combined weakness. – Times of Israel

The Palestinians have welcomed the decision by Iran and Saudi Arabia to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen their embassies. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF and the US air forces on Sunday started the joint “Red Flag” exercise. The joint drill is being hosted at the US Air Force Base in Nellis, Nevada, said an IDF statement. – Jerusalem Post

Returning from a trip to Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at a time of heightened violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) endorsed an “aggressive” response by Israel to Palestinian terror threats, telling Jewish Insider that “there’s no point in them just reacting every time, sometimes you have to be proactive.” – Jewish Insider

Editorial: Israel will need Mr. Netanyahu to use all his political cunning to break the logjam. There’s one problem: The AG has barred the Prime Minister from involvement in court reform, alleging a conflict of interest with his criminal trial. It’s the No. 1 issue in the country he was elected to lead, an issue his coalition ran on, yet the judiciary—which has its own conflict of interest—has a gag order on the Prime Minister. How’s that for democracy? – Wall Street Journal

Max Raskin writes: Statements like these, or Moody’s on Israeli judicial reform, do immense damage to the credibility of these organizations. Rather than being trusted neutral authorities, they become political actors. Certainly, lawmakers should be concerned about the economic effects of legislation or constitutional reform. Sometimes Moody’s may have legitimate analysis to add, particularly on legislation that is explicitly economic. But when it comes to something as complex and polarizing as Israeli judicial reform, the company would be wiser to steer clear. It’s proved it has nothing meaningful to say anyway. – Wall Street Journal

Ruth Wasserman Lande writes: The current Iranian regime – the one for which it does not suffice to rape, incarcerate and hang Iranian women – has recently begun a new and diabolically creative means of torture by extracting the right eye of Iran’s most beautiful women and poisoning Iranian schoolgirls as a form of warped revenge for the women-led revolution against the Mullah in Iran. It has also begun to try and widen its influence inside Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Amos Harel writes: The well-oiled spin and propaganda machine developed by the Netanyahu family over the past decade has for the first time found a fitting adversary: hundreds of thousands of Israelis, more aware than ever of their situation and their rights. The work of the protest leadership is coordinated by some of the sharpest minds in the country, in high tech, business, air force veterans and veterans of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit and the intelligence community. No wonder the prime minister is sweating. – Haaretz


A bomb exploded Saturday during an award ceremony for journalists in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e- Sharif, killing at least one person and wounding eight, including children, officials said. – Associated Press

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed the governor of Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province and two other people at his office. – Associated Press

Beth Bailey writes: The Taliban’s efforts to silence female voices affect Western women working to lift up the Afghan population and push Afghan women into dangerous, and deadly, margins of society. Immediate and strong action must be taken to protect women from a barrage of Taliban attacks on their basic human rights. – Washington Examiner

Kathryn Chovanes writes: Our Afghan allies can’t rely on the U.S. government to help them, nor can they rely on allied governments around the world. The international community has failed them, so it’s on us — individuals with a heart for the friends and allies that stood by us for so many years — to do our part. We cannot let the passage of time lead to indifference. We need to keep telling their stories. We need to give our time and our resources to help those who helped us. – Washington Examiner


Tunisian President Kais Saied said on Friday he wants to see Tunisia and Syria appoint ambassadors to their countries, the latest sign that full restoration of diplomatic relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government could be imminent. – Reuters

Israeli missiles targeted a western Syrian city on Sunday wounding three Syrian soldiers, Syrian state media reported. – Associated Press 

Flights at Syria’s international airport in Aleppo resumed Friday, three days after it was put out of service by a suspected Israeli airstrike, the country’s head of civil aviation said. – Associated Press

Children of foreign jihadists play football on a dirt field at a centre in northeastern Syria that Kurdish authorities hope will help rehabilitate minors raised on Islamic State group ideology. – Agence France-Presse


The Turkish government’s difficulties managing the aftermath of last month’s earthquakes have presented an awkward situation for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Some of his biggest rivals are helping to fill the gaps in the state’s response. – Wall Street Journal

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday that he believes that a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported via the Black Sea will be extended from its current March 18 deadline. – Reuters

Asli Aydintasbas writes: The earthquake has vividly shown that Erdogan and his presidential system have corroded Turkey from the inside. The opposition deserves to win — but even if it does, it’s far from the end of the story. Solving Turkey’s endemic problems will be hard even if Erdogan leaves the scene. Tapping into public anger and the promise of democracy might not be enough. With elections looming, the opposition needs to convince the citizens that it can provide a safer and better Turkey after Erdogan’s one-man regime. – Washington Post 

Robert Ellis writes: Biden has also spoken of a commitment to fight corruption, defend against authoritarianism and advance human rights. In light of the State Department’s 2021 report on human rights abuses in Turkey, it is time for the US administration to take a long, hard look at its NATO ally. – Jerusalem Post


When he first heard that U.S. troops had toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraqi engineer Hazem Mohammed thought he would finally be able to find his brother, who had been shot dead and dumped in a mass grave after a failed uprising against Saddam’s rule in 1991. – Reuters

Saddam Hussein’s trial in 2005, two years after he was ousted by a U.S.-led invasion, was a chance for Ali Hassan al-Haidari to avenge the execution of his brothers and others from his village who were killed by the Iraqi dictator’s security forces. – Reuters

Only a few months into its term, Iraq’s government is suddenly enforcing a long-dormant law banning alcohol imports and arresting people over social media content deemed morally offensive. The crackdown has raised alarm among religious minorities and rights activists. – Associated Press

Dan Hannan writes: Iraq, like much of the non-Western world, was a clan-based society. It had the outward trappings of statehood — courts, a parliament, and so on — but everything worked on the basis of tribe. One group happened to be on top — Sunni Arabs generally, and Saddam’s Tikriti clan particularly — and it had imposed some kind of stability at huge cost to the Shiites and, even more, the Kurds. Resentments and sectarian feuds festered. There were scores to settle. Twenty years on, Iraq’s politics revolve around street protests, the storming of buildings, political arrests, assassinations, and armed militias. – Washington Examiner


The head of Lebanon’s powerful armed group Hezbollah said on Friday the resumption of ties between its backer Iran and longtime rival Saudi Arabia was a “good development”. – Reuters

European investigators returning to Beirut will be permitted to attend a Lebanese judge’s questioning of central bank governor Riad Salameh, two sources said on Sunday, as Lebanon and several foreign countries investigate whether he embezzled public funds. – Reuters

Palestinian media reports that IDF helicopters have crossed the border into Lebanese airspace. – Arutz Sheva


Iran’s mission to the United Nations says a breakthrough agreement with Saudi Arabia restoring bilateral relations will help bring a political settlement to Yemen’s yearslong war, Iranian state media reported on Sunday. – Associated Press

Yemen’s warring sides began talks Saturday aimed at implementing a U.N.-brokered deal on a prisoner exchange, the United Nations said. – Associated Press 

UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg urged the warring parties in Yemen to fulfill their commitments and release prisoners and detainees as per the Stockholm Agreement. – Agence France-Presse

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman formally announced on Sunday the creation of a new national airline, Riyadh Air, with industry veteran Tony Douglas as its chief executive, as the kingdom moves to compete with regional transport and travel hubs. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia kept Washington informed of its talks with Iran to restore diplomatic relations but the United States was not directly involved, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Friday. – Reuters

A group of Israeli Muslims invited to a United Nations tourism event to honor their picturesque mountain village was unexpectedly blocked from attending by host Saudi Arabia, a sign that Israel’s hopes of warming relations with Riyadh may be premature. – Bloomberg

Editorial: The Kingdom isn’t a democracy, but compared to Iran it’s Switzerland. Instead of alienating the Saudis, the Biden Administration could be working to persuade the Kingdom to join the Arab nations opening relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords. […]Mr. Biden prides himself on his ability to build alliances, but he muffed it with the Saudis and our adversaries are taking advantage. – Wall Street Journal

Gabriel Noronha writes: It should come as no surprise then that Saudi Arabia would turn to Beijing after being spurned by Washington. This deal is a damning indictment of this administration’s Middle East policy of withdrawal, neglect, and derision toward our friends. But I guess that’s what happens when the “adults” are back in charge. – Washington Examiner

Benny Avni writes: One way Mr. Biden can reverse the Saudi and other Gulf countries’ drift toward the new NAM: Invite the crown prince to Washington, listen to his requests, and complete a deal for a Saudi-Israeli peace treaty that would tilt the region away from Xi-inspired pacts and back to the pro-American camp. That is, of course, if Washington’s distaste for MbS and Prime Minister Netanyahu is more important for Mr. Biden to maintain than to emerge victorious in the new Cold War’s ever-growing Beijing-led alliances. – New York Sun

Divyanshu Jindal writes: Indeed, it appears that there are three countries looking to develop and enhance strategic partnerships with Riyadh. As the United States and India embolden their bilateral partnership under the initiative on the Critical and Emerging Technology paradigm, it remains to be seen if a trilateral strategic partnership framework can emerge between India, the United States, and Saudi Arabia. For now, all the tech roads seem to be heading to Riyadh. – The National Interest

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has withdrawn its bid to host the 2026 World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting and will instead support Qatar as a potential host, the office of Qatar’s emir and the UAE’s state news agency said on Sunday, in the latest sign of warming ties between the Gulf neighbours. – Reuters

Relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates are being strained by the actions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and its members, threatening the close cooperation between the two nations, according to media and sources that spoke to Ynet on Sunday. – Ynet 

The United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday welcomed the deal reached by Saudi Arabia and Iran to re-establish diplomatic relations. – Times of Israel

Middle East & North Africa

Three prominent opponents of Tunisian President Kais Saied who were arrested last month and accused of conspiring against state security have gone on hunger strike, their lawyer and the son of one of them said on Friday. – Reuters

A U.S. free speech and literary organization has called on Egypt to release a well-known poet and songwriter who is on a hunger strike to protest his five-year incarceration. – Associated Press 

U.N. Libya envoy Abdoulaye Bathily said on Saturday that if a clear road map and electoral laws are in put in place by June, national elections could be held by the end of the year. – Reuters

Korean Peninsula

North Korea launched two underwater cruise missiles from a submarine, the regime said Monday, ahead of the start of large-scale joint U.S. and South Korea military drills this week. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea should build nuclear weapons to bolster its defences against North Korea, even at the risk of international repercussions, the mayor of its capital city said, arguing that the country cannot be bound by the goal of denuclearisation. – Reuters

North Korea decided to take important, practical war deterrence measures at a meeting of the ruling party’s military commission presided over by leader Kim Jong Un, state news agency KCNA said on Sunday. – Reuters

Workers at an apartment construction site in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, have discovered more than 110 bombs, shells, mines, grenades and other explosives that it says are U.S.-made weapons from the Korean War, state media said on Friday. – Reuters

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

The South Korean and U.S. militaries launched their biggest joint military exercises in years Monday, as North Korea said it tested submarine-launched cruise missiles in an apparent protest of the drills it views as an invasion rehearsal. – Associated Press

Hackers believed to be working on behalf of North Korea have in recent years posed as recruiters and targeted workers in a variety of industries with offers of extravagant jobs at big-name firms with massive salaries. In the past, that campaign has mostly been carried out over email, but now researchers are seeing North Korean hackers shift their phishing attempts to LinkedIn and WhatsApp. – CyberScoop

Ramon Pacheco Pardo writes: The Biden administration can now credibly claim that its policies are attractive to a country that in the past may have debated whether to strike a balance between the U.S. and China. Today, South Korea has made clear that its view of the Indo-Pacific aligns with Washington’s. – The Hill

Anthony B. Kim writes: The Republic of Korea is one of the best examples of an ally putting its alliance with the United States into action. Since the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty 70 years ago, time and time again, South Korea has proven to be a reliable and steadfast U.S. ally in dealing with many challenges. Throughout many trying and difficult times over the past seven decades, South Korea has demonstrated its willingness and capacity to work with the U.S. toward shared goals. Now is the time for Washington and Seoul to build on that steadfastness and notch up the pivotal partnership to the next level and advance the proven alliance into coming decades. – Heritage Foundation


When Arab leaders met Xi Jinping at a regional summit in Riyadh last December, the Chinese head of state pitched an unprecedented idea: a high-level gathering of Gulf Arab monarchs and Iranian officials in Beijing in 2023, people familiar with the plan said. Days later, Tehran signed on as well. – Wall Street Journal

China’s new premier pledged to shore up growth and restore business confidence in the world’s second-largest economy, seeking to assure the world that Beijing can overcome domestic difficulties and diplomatic tensions that have buffeted his country in recent months. – Wall Street Journal

A decade into Xi Jinping’s rule, the puzzle pieces of his designs for China are in place, marking a definitive end to Deng Xiaoping’s reform-and-opening era. – Wall Street Journal

China’s legislature voted Sunday to retain Yi Gang as governor of the central bank, the People’s Bank of China, delaying a move to hand over the post in the midst of a restructuring of the financial regulatory system. – Wall Street Journal

China’s new premier, Li Qiang, is showing he is more than the mere loyalist to Chinese leader Xi Jinping that many expected him to be. – Wall Street Journal

A court in Hong Kong jailed three activists from a now-disbanded group best known for organizing annual candlelight vigils to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. – Washington Post

China’s parliament approved changes to a law on Monday that would allow it to pass emergency legislation more quickly, the official Xinhua news agency reported, a move that analysts say could further erode public debate and scrutiny. – Reuters

China will consolidate and add to its domestic strategic resources bases this year to achieve a rapid buildup in mineral resources, natural resources minister Wang Guanghua said on Sunday, according to state media. – Reuters

China named Li Shangfu, a U.S.-sanctioned general, as its new defence minister on Sunday. – Reuters

The successful talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Beijing are a victory for dialogue and peace, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi said on Friday, following the major diplomatic coup for China in Middle East geopolitics. – Reuters

The Republican chairman of a special House committee targeting China called Beijing’s government “bloodthirsty” and “power hungry” on Friday at a rally outside the Chinese embassy in Washington. – Associated Press

China, eager to undermine the AUKUS plan for Australia to build a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines, claimed today that the arrangement poses “serious nuclear proliferation risks, undermines the international non-proliferation system, exacerbates [the] arms race and hurts peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.” – Breaking Defense

Editorial: In the long term, the best guarantee of American security has always been American prosperity and engagement with the rest of the world. That’s true for China, too. – New York Times

Karen Elliott House writes: China has successfully used its good relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran to broker a deal. Let’s see if it yields a truly more peaceful Mideast rather than simply providing Iran a respite and the opportunity to focus more on antagonizing the “great Satan” and the “little Satan” (Israel). In any case, China doesn’t want to police the Mideast, preferring the U.S. retain that role while Beijing prepares for a potential military conflict with the U.S. over Taiwan. – Wall Street Journal

Peter Baker writes: China has been seeking military bases of its own in the region as it pursues energy resources and influence beyond Asia. The decision to involve itself in the Saudi-Iranian rift makes clear that there is another player to be reckoned with. – New York Times

Seth Cropsey writes: Whether or not European powers accept the Chinese offer hinges on only one factor in the immediate future — the relative balance of forces in Europe and Asia. The U.S. must both sustain Ukraine through this war and ensure Ukraine wins this war, and thus deter China from moving on Taiwan. If it cannot do both, European powers will crack. – The Hill

Paul R. Michel and Matthew J. Dowd write: We’ll almost certainly see more spy balloons from China. We need a national defense response, and part of that must be improving U.S. patents to ensure that they incentivize and protect the increased investment of private capital that America needs to outcompete with its primary economic and strategic rival. – The Hill

Chris Lee writes: Xi’s ideological push has severely harmed China’s intelligent power. Many Confucius Institutes are banned in Western countries, while many countries and human rights groups have accused Beijing of serious human rights violations. “Wolf Warrior diplomacy” has frequently undermined Beijing’s reputation and interests. Indeed, Xi’s stigmatization of universal values has caused most modern, civilized countries to reject China as a world leader. The CCP’s propaganda campaign to disseminate Marxism under the guise of promoting China’s culture and values cannot succeed. Because of this, China is unlikely to develop intelligent power in the near future. – The National Interest

South Asia

India could become a key supplier of electronic parts and hardware for the United States, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Friday, adding that Washington was not seeking a “technological decoupling” from China. – Reuters

Pakistan’s former premier Imran Khan is seeking permission from the High Court to skip a hearing where he would have been formally charged for failing to disclose proceeds from selling state gifts when he was in power. – Bloomberg

Pakistan’s foreign minister struggled briefly to define his country’s relationship with India at a news conference on Friday. – The Independent

Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the September G20 summit in India after skipping the gathering of world leaders for two consecutive years, said people familiar with the Russian leader’s schedule. – The Independent


As concerns grow that China could launch an invasion of Taiwan in the coming years, the U.S. military is expanding its footprint in Asia and the Pacific and boosting the capabilities of allies, which U.S. planners hope will deter China from any aggressive moves. Key to that strategy is a growing focus on interoperability—the ability of U.S. and allied militaries to operate effectively together. – Wall Street Journal

Days before being named president for an unprecedented third term, Chinese leader Xi Jinping let loose with an unusually blunt attack on what he said was a U.S.-led effort to contain China. At the top of Mr. Xi’s list of concerns is Washington’s relationship with Taiwan. – Wall Street Journal

Three years after China launched crippling trade restrictions on Australia, the two countries have begun to patch things up. Their leaders met for the first time in half a decade in November. Top officials have resumed regular dialogues. And Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell is expected to soon travel to Beijing. – Washington Post

Georgian’s prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, called on Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday to not interfere in the political situation in Georgia, after a wave of protests hit the country last week. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is flying to the United States on Sunday to meet U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in order to finalise details of a submarine pact aimed at countering China. – Reuters

Britain approved a sharp increase in exports of submarine parts and technology last year to Taiwan as it upgrades its naval forces, a move that could impact British ties with China. – Reuters

A Taiwanese soldier serving on an islet close to the Chinese coast who went missing last week has been found in China, a senior Taiwan minister said on Monday, an incident that has happened amid heightened tensions. – Reuters

Taiwan’s defence spending this year will focus on preparing weapons and equipment for a “total blockade” by China, including parts for F-16 fighters and replenishing weapons, the military said in a report. – Reuters

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday that South Australia state would be a “big beneficiary” of the landmark AUKUS defence pact, which is expected to see Australia buy up to five U.S. Virginia class nuclear powered submarines. – Reuters

A New Zealand pilot being held hostage by separatists in Indonesia’s Papua region has appeared in videos calling for the United Nations to mediate in the conflict in the resource-rich region. – Reuters

Micronesia’s president has accused China of bribery, harassment and “political warfare”, in an explosive letter to his country’s legislature obtained by AFP on Friday. – Agence France-Presse

China on Friday condemned a Japanese plan to release treated radioactive wastewater from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, demanding that Tokyo first receive the approval of neighboring countries. – Associated Press

Georgia’s parliament voted Friday to drop a foreign agent registration bill after the legislation, which opponents warned could be used to stifle dissent and curtail media freedoms, prompted tens of thousands of protesters to swarm the capital this week. – Associated Press 

Farah Stockman writes: Yet for the older generation in Taiwan, the idea of being Chinese still holds deep cultural power. Lung Ying-tai, the former culture minister, told me that since China was unified in the year 221 B.C.E., many in China have harbored the notion that Chinese people should all live in unity under the same ruler. – New York Times

Tom Rogan writes: Finally, a dual visit strategy would set a new Beijing-favorable norm for future visits. Were the U.S. later to abandon this norm, it would invite China’s escalation in kind. At a minimum, China would view any dual visit as a victory in its effort to delegitimize Taiwan’s democracy and American resolve in its support. Put simply, if McCarthy is invited to Taiwan and wants to go, he should go. Harris should avoid China, at least in the period immediately before and after McCarthy’s excursion. – Washington Examiner

Blake Herzinger writes: AUKUS holds out the promise of an extension of the Asian peace and a reduction in the likelihood that China will use its rapid and massive military expansion to resort to naked aggression. The AUKUS initiatives are designed to foster peace and stability in the region by maintaining the long-term regional military balance, which is surely worth enduring a bit of short-term discomfort. – Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Hannah Price and Brian Hart write: There are fundamental differences between the security situation facing Taiwan today and Ukraine in the leadup to its war with Russia. Buoyed by the assurance that the U.S. military would not intervene directly and the reality that the economic costs would not be devastating, Moscow determined that a large-scale invasion of Ukraine would be worth the cost. Beijing, on the other hand, potentially faces far more dire consequences if it chooses to invade Taiwan. Comparisons between Ukraine and Taiwan have obfuscated these realities. The United States and its partners must understand the differences between the two scenarios. Failing to do so risks making dangerous policy choices that ignore the most pressing challenges in the Taiwan Strait. – Defense360


The U.S. and Europe agreed Friday to new steps aimed at resolving a spat over subsidies for clean-energy technology, an effort to preserve a trans-Atlantic relationship that had strengthened following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

French President Emmanuel Macron and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak presented a united front against Russia, vowing steadfast support for Ukraine as Europe’s two biggest military powers looked to end years of bad blood. – Wall Street Journal

Seven people were killed in a mass shooting at a Jehovah’s Witnesses hall in northern Germany, local police said Friday, a rare kind of attack in a country where gun ownership is severely restricted. – Wall Street Journal

China poses an “epoch-defining systemic challenge” to the U.K. and its allies, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Sunday, as the U.K. government said it would spend an extra $6 billion on its nuclear-armed submarine fleet and replenishing munitions stockpiles to bolster support for Ukraine and deter an increasingly assertive China. – Wall Street Journal

In Switzerland’s capital, nestled beneath snow-capped mountains, inside parliamentary chambers of stained glass and polished wood, the debate is over the country’s vaunted legacy of neutrality — and what neutrality even means in a new era of war for Europe. – New York Times

The United States accused Russia on Friday of seeking to destabilize Moldova and said it would help the Eastern European country fight off such attempts by sharing information and providing other assistance, the White House said. – Reuters

A coup attempt, bomb hoaxes, internet hacks, fake conscription call-ups, mass protests: Moldova says it’s had them all in the past year. – Reuters

After Russia invaded Ukraine, guerrillas from Belarus began carrying out acts of sabotage on their country’s railways, including blowing up track equipment to paralyze the rails that Russian forces used to get troops and weapons into Ukraine. – Associated Press

Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the authoritarian ruler of Belarus, is traveling to Tehran for meetings with Iranian leaders, state news agency BelTA reported on March 12. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Rishi Sunak has revealed he will personally invite US president Joe Biden to visit Northern Ireland next month to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement. – The Guardian 

Enrique Feás and Federico Steinberg write: Bottomline, the conservative party is facing the usual dilemma: looking ahead and minimizing the costs of Brexit or insisting on extracting political gains from constant confrontation with the European Union. In the current geopolitical landscape, it would be wise for the United Kingdom to focus its anger toward real enemies, and not toward reliable allies like the European Union. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Ethiopia next week, the State Department said on Friday, as concerns linger over the implementation of the peace agreement following the conflict in the Tigray region that left tens of thousands dead and millions uprooted. – Reuters

A bright yellow cargo plane carrying tents, medical equipment, and other humanitarian aid landed on Friday in the eastern Congolese city of Goma – the first delivery under an EU scheme to support some of the region’s millions of displaced people. – Reuters

South Sudan President Salva Kiir held “frank deliberations” with opposition leader First Vice President Riek Machar on Friday, the minister of presidential affairs said, a week after Kiir breached a peace agreement by sacking two top security ministers. – Reuters

Mali’s transitional government said on Friday it would delay a constitutional referendum that had been set to take place this month, the first in a series of scheduled polls meant to restore democracy after a military takeover in 2020. – Reuters

The U.N. Refugee Agency said on Friday it was “greatly alarmed” by clashes between government forces and armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that had caused hundreds of thousands to flee. – Reuters

Mali’s ruling junta will postpone a constitutional referendum but maintain a previously agreed timeline to return to civilian rule, a government spokesperson said in a statement read to the press Friday. – Agence France-Presse

Rebels in eastern Congo killed at least 19 people and set fire to a health center and houses, authorities reported Sunday. – Associated Press

Gunmen killed at least 16 people during an attack in northwest Nigeria, the government said Sunday. – Associated Press

The death toll from several attacks this week by extremist rebels in eastern Congo has risen to at least 45 people, local officials said on Friday. – Associated Press

Mahad D. Darar writes: Ethiopia’s quest for stability has undergone significant transformations under Abiy’s leadership. The Nobel laureate’s unorthodox path from a peacemaker to a war leader has brought into question the sustainability of his leadership and opened the door for Afwerki to exploit Ethiopia’s underlying tensions. Furthermore, Abiy’s pragmatic approach to emerging regional alliances has significant implications for Ethiopia and the region at large, which could define his rule for years to come. – The National Interest

Latin America

The United States is not discussing a prisoner exchange as described in a letter and video appeal addressed to President Joe Biden by an American detained in Venezuela, according to two U.S. officials. – Reuters

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, who has been struggling with low approval ratings since taking office a year ago, announced a major cabinet reshuffle on Friday, including the foreign minister. – Reuters

Colombia’s government and the left-wing ELN guerrilla group have taken the first steps toward a bilateral, temporary ceasefire, the heads of their delegations at peace talks said on Friday, as they closed their second cycle of negotiations in Mexico City. – Reuters

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has ordered the closure of the Vatican Embassy in Managua and that of the Nicaraguan Embassy to the Vatican in Rome, a senior Vatican source said on Sunday. – Reuters

North America

Canada on Friday banned the import of all Russian aluminum and steel products in a move that Ottawa said was aimed at denying Moscow the ability to fund its war against Ukraine. – Reuters

Mexico’s top diplomat on Friday criticized comments by former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who had called for increased U.S. involvement in Mexico to tackle drug cartels, saying Mexico “will never allow its sovereignty to be violated.” – Reuters

Former President Trump national security adviser John Bolton on Friday argued against labeling Mexican drug cartels foreign terrorist organizations after the idea has garnered support among some GOP lawmakers, saying it would not solve the problems related to the groups. – The Hill

Never mind Russia collusion. Now the Mexican president wants to influence America’s next election. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is being accused at home for undermining Mexico’s democracy, is launching an “information campaign” that could aid Democrats in the United States. – New York Sun

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) reintroduced a bill Friday that, if passed, would require the State Department to designate certain Mexican cartels “foreign terrorist organizations.” The move comes in response to drug trafficking across the southern border. – Washington Examiner

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) argued Sunday that the United States should increase its engagement with neighboring country Mexico in regards to dealing with drug cartels along the border. – Washington Examiner

Mexican authorities arrested five people in connection with the kidnapping of four U.S. citizens, according to a Mexican official. – Washington Examiner

A Mexican cartel claimed responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of U.S. citizens in Mexico’s northern city of Matamoros last week and offered an apology to the U.S. government and the victims’ families. – Washington Examiner

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: The U.S. military successfully intervened against terrorists in Afghanistan—until President Biden abandoned it. But U.S. troops on the ground couldn’t defeat the poppy growers. […]Let’s agree that fentanyl deaths are tragedies and stopping them is a worthy goal. But there’s no upside in waging a war we can’t win against a sovereign, democratic neighbor. – Wall Street Journal

Zachary Faria writes: The Republican bluster about military action against the cartels is misguided, but it should also be clear that Mexico as a whole is not going to be a real ally to the U.S. in this crisis, as López Obrador has shown. Mexico is our largest trading partner and a regular recipient of U.S. aid. Perhaps those are the first things we should now be re-evaluating. – Washington Examiner

Earl Anthony Wayne writes: Mexicans themselves certainly should decide their path forward. However, their friends, neighbors and partners have legitimate interests in the path that Mexico takes and in sharing their counsel for a path that leads to stronger democratic institutions that can help the country manage its daunting agenda. – The Hill

United States

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on Sunday that the released tapes from the attacks on the Capitol during Jan. 6, 2021 are not going to show “tourism at the Capitol,” but rather would show a “dark, tragic day.” – The Hill

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) says Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s sympathetic coverage this week of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack increases the risk for future violence because it creates a space “where people feel like they can do it again.” – The Hill

The newly released footage of Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” from the Capitol protest on Jan. 6, only shows four minutes of his time inside the Capitol, according to a new court filing. – Washington Examiner

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stood by his decision to release Jan. 6 security footage to Fox News and accused the House select committee investigating the matter of being dishonest with the public. – Washington Examiner

Former Vice President Mike Pence delivered his harshest rebuke yet of former President Donald Trump over the weekend for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. – Washington Examiner

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has called for the release of Jacob Chansley, the “Qanon Shaman” who was sentenced to prison following entering the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. – Washington Examiner

President Joe Biden is set to meet with two of America’s closest allies to announce that Australia will purchase U.S.-manufactured, nuclear-powered attack submarines to modernize its fleet, amid growing concerns about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region. – Associated Press 


The Federal Bureau of Investigation this week acknowledged having bought precise geolocation data derived from mobile-phone advertising in the past before backing away from the practice in the face of thorny legal issues and public controversy. – Wall Street Journal

Sponsors of a new bipartisan, Biden-endorsed bill to crack down on the ubiquitous China-affiliate app TikTok say their measure would go beyond an outright ban and give the government new powers to neutralize threats from foreign tech quickly. – Washington Examiner

The heads of the top U.S. intelligence agencies united this week in warning about the national security threat posed by China-owned TikTok, pointing to the Chinese government’s influence over the app’s algorithm and access to data and software. – Washington Examiner

Belgium is banning TikTok from government phones over worries about cybersecurity, privacy and misinformation, the country’s prime minister said Friday, mirroring recent action by other authorities in Europe and the U.S. – Associated Press

Nicole Nguyen writes: If the breach proved anything, it’s that passwords are a pain. 1Password, Dashlane, Bitwarden and even LastPass are shifting from master passwords to biometrics or physical security keys. Hopefully, the rest of the internet follows. After all, the next big hack is always right around the corner. – Wall Street Journal

Christopher Mims writes:  Finally, the move to passwordless login, via passkeys, is an opportunity to leapfrog current security standards, to a kind that is both more convenient and new enough that there are fewer known ways to hack it. In sum, the key to making individuals and organizations more secure is to create cybersecurity policies that respect how people actually behave in the real world. – Wall Street Journal

Mike Wacker writes: That hypothetical question cuts straight to the heart of the issue: Even if we create new rules, we cannot assume that a CCP-backed company would follow those rules. After all, the U.S. already has rules for intellectual property, but those rules have not prevented IP theft from China and CCP-backed companies. Why would we expect a different result with new privacy rules? – The Hill

Gary Barlet writes: We need the federal government to do more. We need them to lead by example and drive significant changes in our national cybersecurity posture by bringing bold ideas, granting resources, investing in people, and holding themselves accountable with more realistic, aggressive timelines that more accurately reflect the world — and threats — around us. Otherwise mandates like these are rendered not only out of touch, but also largely ineffective — and a waste of taxpayer dollars. – The Hill

Emanuele Rossi and Giorgio Rutelli write: TikTok continues to attract young Americans and Europeans, albeit at a slower pace than in previous years. […]All of this is happening on land while the eyes of the world were fixed for a week on a balloon the size of three buses. But so far, the video-sharing app has turned out to be a much more powerful and pervasive intelligence weapon, capable of gathering sensitive information. – Center for European Policy Analysis


A top Defense Department official focused on hypersonic weapons does not believe the United States is in the middle of an arms race against China and Russia. – Washington Examiner

A new Department of Defense survey on sexual harassment and assault at military academies revealed unprecedented levels of both that one official described as “extremely disappointing and upsetting.” – Washington Examiner

Comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart pushed back against the U.S. military-industrial complex while speaking with former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus in an interview for Stewart’s Apple TV+ show. – The Hill

The Navy and Marine Corps’ budget would grow by more than $11 billion next year, the most of any of the military services, under the Biden administration’s new $842 billion defense spending plan, according to budget documents from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. – Defense News

Josh Boehm and Wendy Crossman write: A healthy supply chain is key to a healthy defense industrial base — and a healthy industrial base is too important for our national security to not go the extra mile to support. – Breaking Defense

David W. Barno and Nora Bensahel write: The many intertwined causes of the recruiting crisis defy quick fixes, and none of them are likely to abate on their own even if unemployment rates increase once again. The services, military personnel and veterans, and the broader national security community all need to think creatively about ways to expand eligibility and increase propensity without undermining the strength and professionalism of the force. We hope that these recommendations provide a useful starting point for this important national conversation, and help catalyze broader efforts to develop innovative solutions to these deeply challenging problems. – War on the Rocks

Long War

Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 19 people and burned a medical facility in a raid on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo early on Sunday morning, two regional officials and a resident said. – Reuters

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack that targeted the village of Mukondi, around 30 km (20 miles) south of the city of Beni in North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the group’s Amaq agency reported on Friday. – Reuters

In a groundbreaking ruling, an official Islamic legislative body based in the Arab world declared a “fatwa,” or a legal opinion, against the Islamist militant group Hamas Thursday, calling its treatment of millions of Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip “inhumane” and urging the terrorist organization and its followers to immediately give up arms, sit down and make peace. – Fox News

As extremist violence in West Africa’s Sahel region spreads south toward coastal states, the United States military has launched its annual military training exercise aimed at helping armies contain the jihadi threat. – Associated Press

Palestinian Arab terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, on Sunday published statements mourning the deaths of three terrorists who were eliminated by the IDF during an attempted shooting attack. – Arutz Sheva

Khaled al-Batash, one of the senior officials of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Palestine, believes that Israel is strategically weak and military pressure may lead it to withdraw from territories in ‘Palestinian territory’. – Arutz Sheva