Fdd's overnight brief

March 14, 2023

In The News


Iran announced Monday that the country’s supreme leader has pardoned more than 22,000 people arrested in the recent anti-government protests that swept the Islamic Republic. There was no immediate independent confirmation of the mass release. – Associated Press

The White House said on Monday there was no deal on a prisoner swap with Iran at this time, and the United States is continuing to engage with Iran over how to get home Americans unjustly detained there. – Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the agreement by Saudi Arabia and Iran to re-establish ties after years of hostility, but did not comment on China’s role in brokering the deal. – Reuters

Iran said it welcomes any diplomatic effort to improve relations with its Gulf neighbors and wants to repair ties with more Arab countries following last week’s accord with Saudi Arabia. – Bloomberg

Tehran, hoping for an American payoff, is teasing a release from its dungeons of three American hostages. Will President Biden pay up while leaving other hostages behind? Will the Iranian regime once again profit from its cruel hostage-taking game? – New York Sun

The détente China brokered between Iran and Saudi Arabia is spurring breathless talk in some corners of a regional paradigm shift and even the rise of a Beijing-centric world order. The Biden administration’s reaction, however, amounts to: Nothing to see here, folks. – Politico

The Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan published, on February 12, 2023, the text of the “National Decision” declaration that was read out at the end of the Islamic Revolution Day march in Tehran the previous day. The declaration was featured on the front page, next to coverage of the marches across the country. – Middle East Media Research Institute

In July of last year, days before US President Joe Biden touched down in Israel before flying to Saudi Arabia, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up to the cameras in the Knesset to make the case for his return to power. – Times of Israel

Even as they highlight the historic nature of a shock rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, regional officials and analysts are injecting a note of caution into their assessments of what it all means. The deal announced Friday, brokered by China, stands to end a seven-year rupture in diplomatic ties between the two heavyweights that has stoked unrest across the Middle East. – Agence France-Presse

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran also likes to boast about capabilities that may not even exist. While Iran has shown the boats with what look like missile tubes, it’s not entirely clear how one would operate the missiles in a choppy sea, or how the missiles would be guided or where the radar and other technology needed for air defense would be incorporated into this new capability. – Jerusalem Post

Michael Rubin writes: It truly is astounding that with so much known about the MEK, so many American and European officials continue to trade their own credibility for cash. Among Iranians, the MEK is politically irrelevant. Within the United States, it should be a pariah. It is time to end the MEK’s scam once and for all. – American Enterprise Institute

Amin Soltani, Annika Ganzeveld, Zachary Coles, Johanna Moore, Karolina Hird, and Nicholas Carl write: The Iranian regime is preparing to deploy its security services to deter and likely crack down on the planned demonstrations during the upcoming Iranian holidays. Student poisonings occurred in Iranian provinces that saw significant protest activity during the Mahsa Amini protest movement. Iranian public figures continue to suggest that the regime or regime-adjacent actors are in some way responsible for the poisoning campaign primarily targeting schoolgirls in recent months. Regime efforts to suppress and silence political dissent may inadvertently intensify anti-regime sentiment among the Iranian public. – Institute for the Study of War

Ari J. Kaufan writes: Yet despite efforts from isolationists left and right, China has not yet replaced the U.S. as the Middle East’s paramount external security player. – Arutz Sheva

Russia & Ukraine

The Black Sea grain deal, intended to prevent mitigate a food crisis by safeguarding Ukrainian grain shipments, is set to expire on March 18. After talks with U.N. officials in Geneva, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin said in a statement on Monday that Moscow does not object to another extension — “but only for 60 days,” half the length of the preceding renewal. – Washington Post

The quality of Ukraine’s military force, once considered a substantial advantage over Russia, has been degraded by a year of casualties that have taken many of the most experienced fighters off the battlefield, leading some Ukrainian officials to question Kyiv’s readiness to mount a much-anticipated spring offensive. – Washington Post

Gregoriy Sidorenko watched in disbelief as the Russian cruise missile slammed into storage tank number four at the oil depot here, sending enormous plumes of black smoke overhead and sparking a massive fire that would last roughly 16 hours. – Washington Post

Exhausted by winter combat that has resulted in heavy casualties but few significant changes to the front line, Ukraine and Russia are preparing for spring offensives that both sides hope will shift the course of the war. – Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon on Monday unveiled details about its $842 billion budget proposal, outlining plans for increased investment in long-range missiles and other advanced munitions as it balances the impact of continued military support for Ukraine with rising concerns about a potential conflict with China. – Washington Post

From Kupiansk in the north to Avdiivka in the south, through Bakhmut, Lyman and dozens of towns in between, Russian forces are attacking along a 160-mile arc in eastern Ukraine in an intensifying struggle for tactical advantage before possible spring offensives. – New York Times

On an artificial island on the edge of the Persian Gulf, Dima Tutkov feels safe. There are none of the anti-Russian attitudes that he hears about in Europe. He has noticed no potholes or homelessness, unlike what he saw in Los Angeles. And even as his ad agency turns big profits back in Russia, he does not have to worry about being drafted to fight in Ukraine. – New York Times

The International Criminal Court intends to open two war crimes cases tied to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will seek arrest warrants for several people, according to current and former officials with knowledge of the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly. – New York Times

Senior Russian officials were meeting with representatives of the United Nations in Geneva on Monday to discuss extending an agreement that allows cargo ships to transport Ukrainian grain past a Russian blockade. – New York Times

Russia’s advance seems to have stalled in Moscow’s campaign to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a leading think tank said in an assessment of the longest ground battle of the war. The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said there were no confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut. Russian forces and units from the Kremlin-controlled paramilitary Wagner Group continued to launch ground attacks in the city, but there was no evidence that they were able to make any progress, the ISW said. – Associated Press

There are sandbags around the statues and anti-tank obstacles by the side of the streets, trenches in the nearby forests and land mine warnings in the woods. Signs painted on walls point to the nearest shelter, while air raid sirens occasionally wail across the city, which still sometimes comes under missile attack. – Associated Press

Western sanctions have hit Russian banks, wealthy individuals and technology imports. But after a year of far-reaching restrictions aimed at degrading Moscow’s war chest, economic life for ordinary Russians doesn’t look all that different than it did before the invasion of Ukraine. – Associated Press

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has led to a substantial flow of military aid to Kyiv from the United States and Europe made Ukraine the world’s third largest importer of arms in 2022, a Swedish think tank said Monday. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, reported that from 1991, when Ukraine became independent amid the fall of the Soviet Union, until the end of 2021, Ukraine imported few major arms. – Associated Press

Ukrainian soldiers wrap up this week a four-week training course in Spain on how to operate the Leopard 2 tanks Western allies have agreed to deliver to help Kyiv fight Russian forces, the Spanish ministry said Monday. The 55 Ukrainian trainees arrived mid-February in Spain and are scheduled to fly to Poland on Wednesday as they start to make their way back to Ukraine and the frontline, ministry sources said. – Agence France-Presse

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be forced out of power should Russia be defeated in his war against Ukraine, Newsweek has been told. When the Russian leader launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine last February, the Kremlin hoped to seize the capital Kyiv in a matter of days. – Newsweek

The Russian private military operation, Wagner Group, has allegedly begun to offer Ukrainians payment in order to fight for them as its relationship with the Kremlin worsens. Founded and run by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner is a mercenary outfit that has had a major presence in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict that has been accused in the past of working at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Newsweek

Russia allegedly launched more than 100 failed attacks against Ukraine in a single day, according to the Ukrainian military. The alleged attacks are the latest indication that Russia is struggling to make progress in its “special military operation” launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, 2022. – Newsweek

U.S.-supplied “smart” bombs already employed by Ukraine are superior to examples of Russian precision-guided munitions, experts have told Newsweek. Last week, General James Hecker, the U.S. Air Force’s top commander in Europe and Africa, confirmed that Ukraine’s forces were already using a limited number of JDAM-ER “smart bombs,” supplied by the U.S. – Newsweek

Vladimir Kara-Murza writes: As another famed writer Kornei Chukovsky once said, “In Russia you have to live a long time, then something will happen.” He was referring to the seismic historical shifts that occur periodically in our country. In the past few decades, though, the pace of change has greatly accelerated — and the next transformation could come at any moment. – Washington Post

Serge Schmemann writes: With the war in Ukraine casting a pall on Washington’s relations with Russia, China, India and much of the global south, arms controls may seem a waste of time. But the era of arms controls began when relations between Washington and Moscow reached a dangerous low after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Mr. Putin’s missile-rattling may be a signal that the Ukraine war has taken us there again. – New York Times

Alexander J. Motyl writes: Since such measures are unthinkable for the Russian tyrant, urging the Ukrainians to make peace with Russia today is like urging a rape victim to make peace with her rapist. Peace will be possible only if the rapist is arrested or flees the country. – The Hill


Israel’s parliament on Tuesday advanced a bill that would let lawmakers pass laws that the Supreme Court cannot overturn — a key piece of legislation in Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies’ proposed judicial overhaul that has divided the country. – Associated Press

Before a group of young men from Aqabat Jabr refugee camp mounted a botched attack on a restaurant in Jericho popular with Israeli settlers in January, they declared allegiance to Hamas. – Reuters

Abu Hamza, a spokesman for the military wing of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group, on Monday called on the Israeli Arabs to start an intifada (uprising). – Arutz Sheva

Returning from a trip to Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at a time of heightened tension 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

The reform bill on judicial review, including the override clause, passed its first reading in the Knesset Plenum late Monday night. The bill passed its first reading in a 61-52 vote after Likud MK Ofir Katz’s Fortification Law passed a first reading earlier in the evening as well. Longtime Likud MK Yuli Edelstein was absent from the Knesset plenum during the voting sessions, something which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly known about in advance. – Jerusalem Post

Italy must help sway the European Union to stop activities related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that encourage violence, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told his Italian counterpart Antonio Tajani when they met in Jerusalem on Monday night. – Jerusalem Post

Pro-democracy protesters blocked government offices in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning after the Knesset passed three bills designed to enfeeble Israel’s judiciary in an overnight vote. – Haaretz

A group of high-level Israel Defense Forces veterans traveled to Washington, DC, on Monday to warn Congress members and others against the Israeli government’s plans to diminish the judiciary. Members of the group said they were perturbed by the government’s plans and were seeking to further pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against his government’s legislative blitz. – Times of Israel

A 21-year-old man from northern Israel was injured in an explosion while driving on Route 65 Monday morning, in an apparent roadside bombing, police said. – Arutz Sheva

As anti-government protests continue, Likud MK David Bitan has come out in favor of making “significant changes” to the government’s proposed judicial reform package, telling Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) that the protests cannot be ignored. – Arutz Sheva

Walter Russell Mead writes: Ben-Gurion’s legacy is one of great achievement and lasting controversy. Mr. Netanyahu hopes for an equally consequential place in Zionist history. The next few weeks and months will likely tell us whether Israel’s longest-serving prime minister can match or even exceed the accomplishments of its first. – Wall Street Journal

Steven A. Cook writes: It is not appropriate for the United States to tell Israelis how to live or organize their society, but let’s no longer pretend that the two countries share democratic values. Perhaps the ongoing mass protests against the government will prove that Israel’s democratic practices are stronger than its demagogues. That would be a good thing for Israelis and strengthen the argument about values, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his partners do not seem to be backing down. Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said, “There is no nation like us, except Israel.” It was a nice sentiment, but it is not true, especially now. In recent years, Israel has become more secure and less democratic. If Israel and its supporters want the country to continue receiving U.S. largesse, they will need to come up with a new narrative. – Foreign Policy

Amir Fuchs writes: It follows that the current battle against the judicial overhaul is not being waged only to safeguard democracy, it is also a fight to preserve Zionism itself. It is a fight to maintain the justification for Israel’s existence as viewed in the eyes of the world and in our own eyes as a state that is not only Jewish but also democratic. This is why the demonstrators’ use of flags and their reference to the Declaration of Independence is precisely on target: This is not a campaign on behalf of the values of a particular camp but rather a war waged on the very character of our country as a Jewish and democratic state – a struggle on behalf of Zionism itself. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: Despite the patent failure of international efforts to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions and in the face of abundant evidence that the Iranian regime is prepared to do deals and make agreements that it has no intention of honoring, Grossi remains ever hopeful of curbing its determination to acquire a nuclear arsenal. His dig at Israel may have been intended to smooth the path to discussions with his Iranian hosts about a renewal of the JCPOA deal but constraining the ayatollahs’ extravagant nuclear ambitions may require considerably more robust action than that, as Netanyahu more or less said in his first ever address to the Iranian people, on March 9. – Jerusalem Post 

Ayelet Shaked writes: While Iran’s uranium reserves are bringing it closer to possessing a nuclear bomb, we simply do not have the luxury of sparring against each other and weakening our own immune systems. The flourishing Israeli economy is in danger and our sense of mutual responsibility is crumbling. I sincerely hope that my fellow friends in the coalition and the opposition will stop reading tweets on Twitter and instead go back to being leaders and start walking together side by side. Otherwise, we may find ourselves hanging together side by side. – Jerusalem Post

Amos Harel writes: In the summer of 2019, the IDF used an air force helicopter for another deception, but then it was against Hezbollah, while misleading the media. The Northern Command wanted Hezbollah to think its reprisal operation along the Lebanese border had succeeded in causing Israeli casualties. The object was to contain tensions along the border, and indeed Hezbollah fell for the ruse and calm ensued, due to the Lebanese organization’s false assumption that its revenge mission had succeeded. Then, too, there were cries of unfair use of the media, but this is far worse. The sour taste from this story is now added to the general discontent among the pilots. – Haaretz

Efraim Halevy writes: In view of the accumulation of the above open source data, this should be the moment for Israel to analyze the situation and, inter alia, to determine whether this is an opportune moment to launch a very careful positive probe in the direction of Tehran. It is noteworthy that not too long ago Iran carried out a highly sophisticated missile attack against a very important oil terminal in Saudi Arabia, and that Iran is still involved in subversive activities in the south of the Saudi peninsula. – Haaretz


Greece’s prime minister Monday said a massive earthquake in Turkey and deadly rail disaster in northern Greece have helped de-escalate tension between the two neighbors, driven by a popular feeling of solidarity. The devastating Feb. 6 quake in southern Turkey killed some 50,000 people in the country and neighboring Syria. It was followed three weeks later by a head-on rail collision in Greece which left 57 dead and has halted train services so far this month. – Associated Press

Turkey’s current account deficit widened to $9.85 billion in January, data from the central bank showed on Monday, the highest level in four decades of available data, driven by a soaring energy bill and gold imports. – Reuters

New polls show the Turkish opposition’s presidential candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leading against President Tayyip Erdogan by more than 10 percentage points ahead of elections on May 14 seen by many as the most consequential vote in Turkey’s history. – Reuters

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan urged Turkey to ratify membership of Sweden and Finland into NATO, speaking ahead of talks with his Turkish counterpart in Washington on Tuesday. – Bloomberg

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking the support of smaller, fringe Islamist parties in upcoming elections, widening his conservative base and risking cultural clashes over religion and women’s rights with the secular-minded opposition. – Bloomberg

Tuba Ünlü Bilgiç writes: It is, therefore, a critical but delicate issue as to how the HDP might support Kılıçdaroğlu’s candidacy. Because whatever the political imperatives, Turkish nationalists still rebel at the thought of appearing within the same photo frame as HDP. Erdoğan has good reason to worry about the opposition. Taken as a whole, it is now closer to unseating him than it ever was in the past. – Center for European Policy Analysis


When U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, Adel Amer celebrated what he thought marked the end of two decades of war and isolation under sanctions that had brought Iraq and its people to their knees. – Reuters

Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi gained fame for hurling his shoes at President George W. Bush in a news conference to show his anger at the corruption and chaos that followed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. He is still furious. – Reuters

Winthrop Rodgers writes: The PUK’s strategy of pursuing close ties with Baghdad should be viewed as a supplement to its traditional focus of working within the Kurdistan Region, rather than a substitute for that approach. The PUK is in a difficult spot: The finances of government institutions in its home base of Sulaymaniyah are in bad shape, it is still dealing with the effects of a prolonged leadership struggle, the KDP appears to be meddling in its internal affairs, and its traditional base of voters are disillusioned. It needs help and support and there is a logic in looking for it in Baghdad, but whether this strategy will pay off remains an open question. – Middle East Institute

Middle East & North Africa

U.S. officials expressed skepticism that Tehran would honor a Chinese-brokered entente between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and denied the deal illustrated Washington’s diminishing influence in the region. – Wall Street Journal

Morocco’s royal palace on Monday asked the largest Islamist party, the PJD, to stop taking aim at the country’s ties with Israel after the party rebuked the foreign minister for defending Israel at the expense of Palestinians. – Reuters

The international community and the Syrian government did not act quickly enough last month to help people in need in the rebel-held northwest after a deadly earthquake hit Turkey and conflict-ravaged Syria, a U.N.-backed commission said Monday. The Feb. 6 magnitude 7.8 earthquake and strong aftershocks that ravaged southern Turkey and northwestern Syria killed more than 50,000 people, including over 6,000 in Syria. – Associated Press

Tunisia’s new parliament convened Monday, the first time the country has had a functioning legislature since the president had the previous parliament sealed off by the army in 2021. The main opposition coalition declared it won’t recognize the new parliament, whose members were chosen in December and January in elections boycotted by the president’s opponents and ignored by the masses. Just 11% of voters cast ballots. – Associated Press

The Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen have said the new Iran-Saudi Arabia deal, which was announced in China after more than a year of meetings in Iraq, will have no impact on the Houthi war in Yemen. – Jerusalem Post

In a dramatic move on March 10, 2023, Saudi Arabia and Iran declared that they had reached an agreement to renew relations after a seven-year hiatus. […]The Saudi press welcomed the agreement with cautious optimism. Saudi journalists saw Iran’s commitment to honor Saudi sovereignty and not interfere in its internal affairs as a significant achievement and one that will lead to regional stability and enable economic growth, in accordance with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030. At the same time, they maintained that the revival of relations does not necessarily man the end of the disputes between the countries, and that the true test will be to see whether Iran’s intentions are serious and whether it is committed to the agreement. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Robert A. Manning writes: The reality is that the U.S. remains a major actor in the region, but one among other contenders seeking influence, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Egypt. That bodes well for avoiding a new hegemon, but not for U.S. primacy in a multipolar world. It may be premature to compare the U.S. predicament in the region to the United Kingdom’s “East of Suez” exit from its south and east Asian empire. But this development should serve to spark a rethink of where the region fits in U.S. strategy. – The Hill

Simon Henderson writes: These fascinating developments, and possibly more to come, also need to include analytically the other case of “normalization,” which had been absorbing Washington’s attention: the question of if and when Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel. That is now possibly off the menu. It depends much on whether Riyadh really wants a workable, if not good, relationship with Tehran. For Israel, though, the issue of a possible Iranian nuclear weapon still looms large. – The Hill

Korean Peninsula

North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles, following its playbook of using weapons tests to keep pressure on the U.S. and South Korea as the two countries conduct joint military drills. – Wall Street Journal

South Korean and Japanese leaders will meet in Tokyo this week, hoping to resume regular visits after a gap of over a decade and overcome resentments that date back more than 100 years. The two major Asian economies and U.S. allies have long hoped to cooperate on shared security concerns about China and North Korea, but previous rounds of diplomacy have foundered on unresolved issues from Japan’s 35-year occupation of the Korean Peninsula. – Associated Press

Ellen Kim writes: With President Yoon Suk Yeol scheduled visit to Japan in March 16–17, it is possible that North Korea may carry out a major provocation in time for his visit to spoil the bilateral summit between Yoon and Kishida, which comes in the wake of a breakthrough between South Korea and Japan to resolve the wartime labor issues and improve their constrained bilateral relationship. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Mitchell Blatt writes: There can be a debate about which side is most to blame for things deteriorating—and a convincing case can be made that South Korea’s unforgiving attitude may be the primary cause—but there needs to be mutual trust. In order for there to be healthy relations, two countries need to both make contributions and compromises. – The National Interest


President Biden is seeking to have a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping to ease tensions that flared following last month’s discovery of a Chinese spy balloon over sensitive U.S. military sites and unusually blunt criticism by Xi this month of the United States. – Washington Post

China needs “self-reliance and strength in science and technology” to better compete with the West in military preparedness, economic growth and many other areas, leader Xi Jinping said Monday, closing an annual Chinese Communist Party meeting during which he cemented his hold on power and escalated his rhetorical confrontation with the United States. – Washington Post

Chinese leader Xi Jinping plans to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time since the start of the Ukraine war, likely after he visits Moscow next week to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal

China has begun to impede projects to lay and maintain subsea internet cables through the South China Sea, as Beijing seeks to exert more control over the infrastructure transmitting the world’s data. Long approval delays and stricter Chinese requirements, including permits for work conducted outside its internationally recognised territorial waters, have pushed companies to design routes that avoid the South China Sea, according to multiple sources inside the industry. – Financial Times

Days after brokering a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Xi Jinping struck a triumphant note. China should “actively participate” in “global governance” and “add more stability and positive energy to world peace”, he told Beijing’s rubber-stamp legislature on Monday. Xi’s achievement was in convincing Tehran and Riyadh to restart diplomatic relations after almost seven years, a shift that caught many across the Middle East and in Washington by surprise. – Financial Times

On March 2, 2023, the Chinese Guancha.cn outlet marked one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by publishing an interview with Zhao Long, deputy director of the Institute for Global Governance Studies and a senior research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, about his views on the war.[1] In the interview, which was titled “China Is Between Russia and Ukraine – How to Break the Deadlock?” Zhao was asked about the war’s impact on China and on its relations with Russia and the West. In his replies, Zhao emphasized that there is no united anti-West alliance between Russia and China, nor is there any intention to form one, and that China’s relations with Russia are driven by a variety of independent factors and should not directly impact its relations with the U.S. or Europe. – Middle East Media Research Institute

The People’s Republic of China seized control of Tibet in 1950 in what its leaders termed the “peaceful liberation” of a theocracy. Generations of Tibetans in exile continue to call it an invasion and annexation of a de facto independent region, where rich cultural roots are at risk of being buried in obscurity. – Newsweek

Daniel Blumenthal and Frederick W. Kagan write: The U.S. must recognize the centrality of maintaining the Taiwanese people’s confidence that America and its partners will not abandon them. They must be sure not only that the U.S. will fight to defend them but also that it will prevent China from isolating them. Thus, an effective defense of Taiwan from coercion and isolation requires more forward basing, not less. It requires more U.S. presence on an around the island. […]The U.S. must counter the expanding coercion campaign and lift the pall of fear Beijing is casting over Taiwan. – The Hill

Michael Gfoeller and David H. Rundell write: Last week, history returned to the Middle East. For those who had not already noticed, we once again live in multipolar world defined by great power competition. Several outside powers now compete with the West for prestige, influence, and power in the region. China was able to broker this agreement in part because it maintains cordial relations with both parties. Local leaders have more diplomatic options than they did in the recent past. In a world where history has returned, a policy of “You are either with us or against us.” is probably not as viable as it once was. – Newsweek

South Asia

Human rights activists urged the U.N. Security Council on Monday to refer Myanmar’s military rulers to the International Criminal Court and urged neighboring Southeast Asian countries to support the opposition pro-democracy movement. – Associated Press

Nepal’s newly elected president — the third since the Himalayan nation abolished its centuries-old monarchy in 2008 and became a republic — took the oath of office Monday in Kathmandu. Ram Chandra Poudel was elected Thursday by members of the Federal Parliament and provincial assemblies. – Associated Press

India has asked banks and traders to avoid using Chinese yuan to pay for Russian imports, three government officials involved in policy making and two banking sources said, because of long-running political differences with its neighbour. – Reuters

The Kremlin said on Monday it was not ruling out Russian President Vladimir Putin attending a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) developed and emerging economies on Sept. 9-10 in New Delhi. – Reuters

Georgia Leatherdale-Gilholy writes: India is the world’s largest democracy, and although its strain of nationalism may be at odds with many Western sensibilities, the foundations for a mutually beneficial relationship are far more plentiful than with China, the state the West has tiptoed into trade reliance on for decades. If Washington is keen on a secure future at home and in Asia, it must treat India’s G20 presidency as a wake-up call. – The National Interest


President Biden appeared at a Naval shipyard here on Monday afternoon with his British and Australian counterparts to announce a major new plan to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines in what amounts to a direct counter to China’s growing influence in the region. – Washington Post

Taiwan’s domestic submarine programme faces many difficulties but is going according to plan, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Tuesday after Reuters reported a sharp increase in British exports of submarine parts to the island. – 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

Britain and Italy’s defence chiefs will visit Japan this week to hold meetings with their local counterpart, Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada, Japan said on Tuesday. – Reuters

David Ignatius writes: The Biden administration is understandably celebrating its strategic initiative for Asia. But before popping the champagne corks, it should recall Dean Acheson’s description in his memoir of the launch of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. As the signatories were gathering, the Marine Band “added an unexpected note of realism” by playing two songs from “Porgy and Bess,” the Broadway musical: “I Got Plenty of Nothin’” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” – Washington Post

James Stavridis writes: Yes, the prospect of a fleet of nuclear submarines Down Under will make Beijing nervous. But for Washington, London and Canberra, coordinating on the world’s most advanced warfighting technology is smart strategy. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: What does this mean for America? The AUKUS deal is positive, and Australia and the U.K. remain very close allies. Japan, however, is clearly now the most reliable U.S. ally when it comes to addressing China’s extraordinary challenge. – Washington Examiner

Gideon Rachman writes: As for the British, they argue that the security of Europe is “indivisible” from the security of the Indo-Pacific, particularly given the increasingly close relationship between Russia and China. For a Conservative government that is still trying to make sense of Brexit, Aukus is also a useful symbol that “Global Britain” can be something more than an empty slogan. The mood on board the USS Missouri is likely to be celebratory. But the underlying reality is grim. The US, the UK and Australia, having fought on the same side in two world wars, are again preparing for a possible global conflict. – Financial Times


Andromeda, a slender, 50-foot-long sailing yacht with a teak deck, has become a key piece of the puzzle that international investigators are trying to solve as they probe the blasts that destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines off Germany’s northern coast. – Wall Street Journal

President Joe Biden on Monday said he intends to visit the Republic of Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, which will soon mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday peace accords. – Agence France-Presse

Moldova does not currently face “imminent military danger” but is subject to “hybrid warfare generated by Russia” in a bid to “overthrow state power”, its defence minister told AFP in an interview Monday. Anatolie Nosatii sat down for an interview with AFP at his office in Chisinau, after the latest in a string of anti-government protests erupted over the weekend in the small ex-Soviet nation. – Agence France-Presse

The EU is exploring ways to police how European companies invest in production facilities overseas, following similar US moves to limit the ability of China and other rivals to acquire cutting-edge technologies from the west. – Financial Times

Tensions in Germany’s governing coalition are increasingly hobbling EU decisions, undermining Berlin’s reputation in Europe and harming the bloc’s credibility in everything from green policies to aid for Ukraine. – Financial Times

Britain described China as an “epoch defining challenge” to the international order in an update of its foreign and defence policy that identified the threat posed by Russia and the outcome of the Ukraine war as the biggest immediate priority. – Financial Times

As war between Russia and Ukraine rages next door, Poland has been ramping up defense spending and modernizing its outdated military equipment. Worried they could one day be in the crosshairs of the Kremlin, Poland aims to spend 4% of its GDP on defense this year. That’s double the NATO requirement and would make Poland the biggest spender per capita on defense in the military alliance. – Fox News

Delphine Strauss and Federica Cocco write: When the Migration Advisory Committee recommended adding care workers to the shortage occupation list last year, it also called on the government to introduce and fund a minimum rate of pay for the sector, above the statutory wage floor. “The recommendation was there should be an increase in pay and terms and conditions for everyone,” she says. “That didn’t happen. Only the immigration bit was implemented.” – Financial Times

The Americas

Mexico’s president said on Monday his country is safer than the United States, pushing back against U.S. critics of his security record following a deadly kidnapping this month near the border that claimed the lives of two Americans. – Reuters

Over the past two decades, China has ramped up its economic ties with nations across Latin America, but it is China’s rising influence in the region that has Washington increasingly concerned. The growing threat China poses to the U.S. has moved ever forward in the American conscious as defense officials and lawmakers continue to monitor emerging trends from Beijing’s burgeoning relationships worldwide. – Fox News

Nita Farahany writes: It isn’t just state employees in China who are subject to neural surveillance. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal revealed that fifth-grade students at a primary school in Jinhua were required to wear headsets to track their brain activity, which fed data to their teachers, parents, and the state about their focus and attention during their school day. This kind of compelled neural surveillance, particularly by an authoritarian state actor, irrespective of what can or cannot be inferred from brain activity has a chilling effect on freedom of thought, is used to enforce conformity and undermines the very ability to think freely. – Fox News

Ai-Men Lau writes: Canada must also engage with stakeholders who can communicate in the languages spoken in the community, who understand how cultural norms intersect with broader Canadian society, and who can meet members of the community where they are at. To increase civic engagement we must be able to communicate and educate in ways that are both respectful of one’s self-determination and understanding of the geopolitical tensions vulnerable groups must contend with. – The Globe and Mail


The British government has announced a new body to help businesses and organizations to defend themselves against national security threats, including Chinese attempts at intellectual property theft. – The Record

The recent breach of D.C. Health Link, a health care insurance exchange that serves the nation’s lawmakers and Washington residents, exposed the sensitive information of 21 current members of Congress, two senior congressional aides familiar with the matter told CyberScoop on Monday. – The Record

The Army’s fiscal 2024 budget proposal includes substantial funding aimed at helping the service up its digital game. – CyberScoop

The U.S. Department of Defense is seeking $13.5 billion for its so-called cyberspace endeavors, including the hardening of information networks and research and development of virtual tools. – Defense News

Arthur Herman writes: Final point: What makes AI disruptive isn’t the technology itself, but who sets the problems, and who makes the decisions based on its input. In other words, the future of AI ultimately depends on whom we want to be: free individuals making the key decisions that affect our lives, or passive cogs in someone else’s machine. If the U.S. doesn’t lead the way in pioneering AI and setting its guardrails, the CCP will — and freedom will suffer. – Hudson Institute

Joshua Rovner writes: Perhaps officials are concerned that foreign partners will outsource their cybersecurity response to the United States rather than build their own capability. If so, then the administration has also suggested a way of measuring the success or failure of its approach to foreign assistance. Careful investigations can assess whether the target country had taken its own cybersecurity seriously in the period before the breach — and whether it was taking serious efforts in the aftermath. Affirmative findings would tend to support the administration’s approach. More critical findings would not. – War on the Rocks


The Missile Defense Agency’s $10.9 billion fiscal 2024 budget prioritizes regional and homeland missile defense with a major focus on building an air and missile defense architecture in Guam. – Defense News

The Pentagon aims to rev up the munitions industrial base and max out production lines for several top priority missiles, according to the budget unveiled Monday. – Defense News

The Air Force is asking Congress for about half-a-billion dollars in fiscal 2024 to begin a highly anticipated new drone program aimed at acquiring “collaborative combat aircraft” that could team with manned fighter jets and other platforms. – CyberScoop

The U.S. military is asking lawmakers for billions of dollars next year to advance its artificial intelligence and networking capabilities as it seeks to become a faster-moving and more interconnected force. – CyberScoop

The Department of Defense’s fiscal 2024 budget includes U.S. Cyber Command’s first-ever budget request as it assumes full budget authorities and resources for the cyber mission force. – CyberScoop

The Army is seeking a massive boost in funds to construct new barracks as moldy and otherwise substandard living conditions for young enlisted soldiers continue to make news headlines. – Military.com

It’s one of the biggest proposed defense budgets in history. The largest military space budget in history. And the $842 billion spending plan unveiled Monday by the Pentagon also predicts the military’s funding could reach nearly $1 trillion annually by the end of the decade, if President Joe Biden’s estimates hold. – Military.com

Tom Rogan writes: Still, this budget does not meet the urgency of the moment. While the Biden administration is saluting itself for proposing a 4.92% increase in the Navy and Marine Corps budgets, that figure — like the defense budget at large — is below the current 6.4% inflation rate and only represents a marginal real increase if you buy the Congressional Budget Office’s 2024 projection of a 2.4% inflation rate. Rather than tinkering around the edges of the defense budget, Washington needs to sound general quarters. – Washington Examiner