Fdd's overnight brief

March 15, 2023

In The News


Anti-government protests broke out in several cities across Iran on Tuesday, spurred by an annual festival linked to the Persian new year next week. – Washington Post

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary will visit the United Arab Emirates soon, Iran’s Etemad newspaper reported on Wednesday. – Reuters 

France accused Iran on Tuesday of breaking an international treaty defining consular relations between states and said Tehran had demonstrated publicly that it was holding foreign nationals arbitrarily. – Reuters 

A top United Nations envoy visited Iran to discuss ending the war in Yemen, days after the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore ties and curtail a rivalry that’s fueled the conflict for almost a decade. – Bloomberg 

In most countries, a group of teenage girls publicly recording a TikTok dance to a Selena Gomez song would be unremarkable. But in Iran, where it is illegal for women to dance in public, and where wearing hijabs is compulsory, it was seen as an act of defiance. – Business Insider 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The reports that Bahrain is open to Iranian normalization would please Iran, exhibiting as yet another example of diplomatic success. It has portrayed in its media the rapprochement with Riyadh as a loss for the US and Israel. This may not be accurate but it is how Iran perceives these discussions. This is why Iranian media are pushing the story about talks with Bahrain. It remains to be seen if the talks bear fruit. However, it would not be surprising, in the wake of the Saudi deal, that Iran and Bahrain could rekindle ties. – Jerusalem Post

Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Iranian government is prioritizing mandatory veiling amidst poor economic conditions, recent student poisonings, and heightened protest activity. Protesters escalated against the regime on March 14. At least 20 protests occurred in 14 cities across eight provinces. […]Iran deployed proxy forces along the Al Mayadin-Abu Kamal segment of the Route Four highway likely to improve local operational security conditions. – Institute for the Study of War 

Sahar Soleimany writes: We repeatedly hear that the rights of women are at the forefront of this administration’s concerns. However, it continues to treat Iran’s transgressions in isolation, allowing Iranians to bear the brunt. It’s time the Biden administration finally put its money where its mouth is and recognize that this regime is not interested in change. It is a pariah solely concerned with its own survival, and will continue to do anything—even if that means taking down its own people—to keep it alive. – American Enterprise Institute 

Kseniya Kirillova writes: There is another problem. Despite the Kremlin’s desire to “lead the anti-colonial struggle of the global South against the Western yoke,” many Iranians recall its imperial past and its efforts as a colonial force to control local resources. Opinion polls show that approval ratings for Russia’s actions plummeted after the start of the invasion. In short, it is likely that over time the Russian authorities will draw the same disappointing conclusion as their new Iranian ally. Sanctions can be mitigated but not neutralized. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Russia & Ukraine

Shortages of artillery shells are hampering Russia’s grinding advance in eastern Ukraine, Western officials said on Tuesday, as Moscow pushes to capture the city of Bakhmut after months of heavy fighting and Kyiv gears up for a counteroffensive. – Wall Street Journal

A Russian jet struck a U.S. spy drone over the Black Sea and knocked it out of the sky Tuesday, the Pentagon said, in one of the first direct military confrontations between the two nations’ forces since the war in Ukraine began more than a year ago. – Wall Street Journal

Three months after Ukrainians celebrated the expulsion of Russian forces from the city of Kherson, it is free of occupation but hardly at peace, a nebulous status that never seemed more clear than on Tuesday as Moscow suddenly stepped up its shelling there. – New York Times 

For months, Yevgeny Prigozhin has been Russia’s most public and provocative military leader in Ukraine. When he is not lauding the heroics of his private fighting force from the front lines, he is castigating the Russian generals for starving him of the supplies he needs to finish the work they could not. – New York Times

For years, Artem Uss had appeared in Russian media as the owner of fancy real estate, luxury cars and Italian hotels. Now US officials allege he’s at the center of a suspected secret supply chain that prosecutors say used American technology to support President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

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

What Ukrainian forces have long described in the city of Bakhmut is also playing out to the north in Luhansk region – more Russian troops, weapons and aggressive tactics that Moscow hopes will produce a badly needed breakthrough. – Reuters 

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia’s goals in Ukraine could only be achieved by military force at the moment, and that Kyiv needed to accept the “new realities” on the ground before a peaceful settlement could be reached. – Reuters 

Talks continue to extend a deal to allow grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports ahead of a deadline later this week, the United Nations and Turkey said on Tuesday, after Kyiv rejected a Russian push for a reduced 60-day renewal. – Reuters 

Russia’s ambassador to the United States on Wednesday called on Washington to stop “hostile” flights near his country’s border, after an American drone was intercepted by Russian fighters over the Black Sea. – Agence France-Presse

White phosphorus munitions were fired on Tuesday from Russian positions on an uninhabited area by the town of Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine, AFP journalists saw. – Agence France-Presse 

An aerial incident that forced a U.S. Air Force drone to crash was “tinged with a lack of competence” by a Russian pilot, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s team. – Washington Examiner

Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-MS) declared on Tuesday that a Russian fighter jet collision that effectively downed a U.S. drone should be a “wake-up call to isolationists.” – Washington Examiner

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) does not believe assisting Ukraine in defending its territory from Russian aggression is a “vital” interest for the United States. – Washington Examiner

Senators on Tuesday called Russia’s downing of a U.S. drone “dangerous” and “reckless,” slamming Russian President Vladimir Putin but stopping short of calling for any specific actions. – The Hill 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday warned the U.S. against turning its back on Ukraine, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) suggested that Russia’s war in Ukraine should not be one of America’s “vital national interests.” – The Hill  

Russia has been forced to issue old ammunition that was previously categorised as unfit for use, with its army dealing with major munition shortages in Ukraine, according to UK intelligence. – Business Insider 

The Gaza-based Hamas militant group received an official invitation to Moscow from Russia on Tuesday morning, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau Saleh al-Arouri confirmed in an official party interview. – Haaretz 

Thomas L. Friedman writes: Yet Netanyahu’s extremist coalition is now taking on the Palestinians and Iran militarily while ignoring the wishes and values of its most important ally, the U.S. government; its most important diaspora community, American Jews; and its most important source of economic growth, foreign investors. And it’s doing all of that while dividing the Israeli people to the brink of a civil war. – New York Times

Joseph Bosco writes: While other NATO members are doing more than they have in decades, thanks to the efforts of the Trump and Biden administrations and Putin’s latest blatant aggression, they need to do more as long as the Russian threat to their individual and collective security persists. But more than weapons, the Western will to resist aggression will determine the outcome. To avoid a two-front war, the West must win the two-front test of wills. – The Hill

Jennifer M. Granholm writes: Nations around the world are now moving to break their overreliance on Russian fossil energy. Russia has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not a responsible nuclear power and supplier of civil nuclear technologies. It must face consequences for those actions. – The Hill   

Basil Seggos writes: The war hangs in the balance. The urgent priority, of course, is continued military and humanitarian support, but the West also must prepare to help Ukraine restore its environment — for the sake of its sovereignty and world security. – The Hill  

Thomas R. Pickering writes: Russia and Ukraine are not yet ready for direct talks. But with care and confidentiality, the leaders of the United States and other important third parties should accelerate their prior preparations and begin pre-negotiations. They should aim to build confidence, persuade the parties to confront harsh realities, and remove impediments to diplomatic progress. Otherwise, Russia and Ukraine could fall into a vicious cycle of self-deception, denial of diplomacy, and endless war. – Foreign Affairs 

Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, George Barros, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Prominent Russian milbloggers are reamplifying a longstanding Russian information operation that seeks to weaponize religion to discredit Ukraine. Russian authorities continue measures to mobilize the struggling Russian defense industrial base (DIB) for a protracted war effort. […]Ukrainian partisans injured the Deputy Head of the Nova Kakhovka Occupation Military Administration in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack. – Institute for the Study of War 

Jade Mcglynn writes: Russia’s hubristic ‘special military operation’ to denazify Ukraine floundered on contact with real Ukrainians, who turned out to be very different from those constructed in the Kremlin’s mythomaniac minds. […]It would ultimately require rewriting Russian history and national identity from scratch — which is exactly what Putin is fighting against. In fighting to impose its memory on Ukraine, Russia is risking not only its future but also its past. Unfortunately, this could make for a long war. – War on the Rocks 

David V. Gioe writes: What’s worse is ending in a less favorable position than at the outset of hostilities, as Putin almost assuredly will be. He probably knows this and continues to double down with the understanding that, if he loses, he will be blamed, and that rebuke would not take the tolerable form of electoral defeat. Like most dictators, he fears his own people most. As goes the Ukraine war, so goes Putin. – Foreign Policy 


Hundreds of Israeli writers, artists and intellectuals on Tuesday called on Germany and Britain to cancel upcoming visits by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying his plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system has put the country on a destructive course. – Associated Press 

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced plans to establish a group named Progressives for Israel to push for his fellow Democrats to stand behind the Jewish state. – Washington Examiner

Prominent Israeli scholars presented to the Knesset an outline for a compromise on the coalition’s judicial overhaul, which critics view as a threat to democracy, fueling mass protests. – Agence France-Presse 

After fifty members of the coalition, including many ministers as well as representatives of all the parties in the government, penned a letter to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant demanding that the Jews recently placed under administrative arrest at his order be immediately released, Gallant has issued his response, justifying the arrests. – Arutz Sheva

The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority are expected to hold a summit in the coming days with the goal of reaching understandings that will lower the tensions in the region ahead of the month of Ramadan, Kan 11 News’ Gili Cohen reported on Tuesday. – Arutz Sheva

Head of the military wing of Hamas, Mohammad Deif’s, deputy commander threatened that any change in the status quo at the Al-Aqsa Mosque will lead to an “earthquake” in the region. – Arutz Sheva

On Tuesday, after receiving the requests of several government ministers to travel to the United States, Netanyahu allegedly issued a response clarifying that they were not to make the trip until he himself has received an official invitation. – Arutz Sheva

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó told i24NEWS in an interview that his country had hoped for the return of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Arutz Sheva

Reports of the death of Israeli-Gulf ties as a result of the announcement Friday of a renewal of Saudi-Iranian relations are greatly exaggerated, Israeli Ambassador to Bahrain Eitan Na’eh indicated on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is exploring the possibility of providing defensive military equipment to Ukraine, a move that is expected to anger the Russians. – Jerusalem Post

East Jerusalem resident Mohammed Asila reached a plea deal with the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday in which he will serve 10 months in prison for attacking four Haredi men with pepper spray while they were on their way to the Western Wall before Shabbat. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police arrested 15 people across the West Bank overnight on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit announced Wednesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

Judicial reform protests are set to resume at full force on Wednesday morning, as protesters prepare to disrupt traffic around Ben-Gurion Airport ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s state visit to the German capital of Berlin. – Jerusalem Post

Israel’s embassy in Paris warned the Foreign Ministry that pro-Israel figures in France were publicly criticizing the Jewish state over the government’s judicial reform and settler violence in the West Bank. – Times of Israel 

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pushed back on accusations that the bloc was meddling in Israel’s internal affairs, saying Tuesday that Jerusalem should welcome an EU parliamentary debate on policies in the West Bank and the judicial overhaul being pushed through the Knesset. – Times of Israel

France 24, a state-owned news network based in the Paris region, has suspended four of its journalists following allegations that they used vitriolic language against Israel and, in at least one case, against Jews. – Times of Israel

President Isaac Herzog said Monday that he is devoting all of his time and energy toward brokering an agreement that would rescue Israel from a “constitutional and social crisis.” – Ynet 

Almost 100 former managers and supervisors at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor, the smaller nuclear center at Soreq and the head office of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission have come out against the government’s efforts to greatly diminish the powers of the Supreme Court. – Haaretz

Moran Stern writes: These individuals need more employment opportunities inside the West Bank, so they do not feel compelled to seek jobs in Israel or engage in illicit activity against the PA. In the longer term, the PA will need to inject young blood into the system and pursue internal reforms that seriously address corruption, lack of democracy, and low approval rates. – Washington Institute


Turkey might not need Russian S-400 batteries in order to protect itself as its homegrown equipment increasingly takes on that role, a major Turkish manufacturer said in comments likely to be welcomed by Washington. – Bloomberg  

Structural and civil engineers from the UK have travelled to Turkey to help to investigate the damage caused by last month’s powerful earthquake. – BBC 


Twenty years after the U.S. invaded Iraq — in blinding explosions of shock and awe — American forces remain in the country in what has become a small but consistent presence to ensure an ongoing relationship with a key military and diplomatic partner in the Middle East. – Associated Press

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would take the first procedural steps later on Tuesday toward a vote on repealing two authorizations for past wars in Iraq, days before the 20th anniversary of the last invasion by American troops. – Reuters 

Peter Feaver, Christopher Gelpi, and Jason Reifler write: Iraq syndrome is undoubtedly real, but it may be felt more intensely among elites than among the public. And just as U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush found it possible to rally the public behind military interventions even in the wake of Vietnam, Biden or his successors may find the public similarly persuadable after Iraq. The more things change, the more they stay the same. – Foreign Affairs


France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday said it was exploring with allies whether the time had come for those spoiling efforts to break the constitutional deadlock in Lebanon to face consequences. – Reuters 

Lebanon has to audit its state electricity company among other reforms the World Bank has required before it will consider funding Lebanon’s worn-down electricity sector, the bank’s regional vice president Ferid Belhaj said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Rany Ballout writes: However, given the recent U.S.-sponsored Abraham Accords and growing normalization of relations with Israel in the region, as well as the collapse of negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, any new power-sharing arrangement including electing a pro-U.S. army commander as president that undermines Hezbollah’s interests or demand its disarmament is unlikely. Hezbollah perceives Aoun as a potential presidential candidate close to the United States who may compromise the current security balance and lead Lebanon on uncertain terms. According to several observers, unless Hezbollah receives guarantees that Aoun will not interfere in its affairs, it will not nominate or elect him. – The National Interest 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told Energy Intelligence in an interview on Tuesday the OPEC+ alliance will stick until the end of the year to production cuts agreed in October. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia’s finance minister, Mohammed al-Jadaan, said on Wednesday that Saudi investments into Iran could happen “very quickly” following an agreement. – Reuters 

Saudi Arabia’s embrace of Chinese diplomacy with Iran is being viewed as yet another snub by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against President Biden, however, the deal may ultimately help the United States’ strategy in the Middle East. – The Hill  

Middle East & North Africa

Human Rights Watch on Wednesday accused Emirati authorities of arbitrarily detaining for more than 15 months as many as 2,700 Afghan evacuees who have no legal pathways to refugee status or resettlement elsewhere. – Reuters 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Moscow on Tuesday on his first official visit outside the Middle East since last month’s devastating earthquake, according to a statement from the Syrian Presidency via the Telegram messaging app. – Reuters 

For a variety of reasons, Russia has welcomed the Chinese mediated agreement announced March 11, 2023, between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The agreement provides for a resumption of diplomatic relations between the two states and the reopening of embassies and missions within two months from the signing of the agreement. The document also noted that Tehran and Riyadh reaffirm mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as commitment to non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

The newly announced resumption of diplomatic relations between historic rivals the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran has prompted no shortage of speculation about the quickly changing security landscape in the region. – Breaking Defense

Quin Hillyer writes: What is it going to take? This situation could easily turn into something like that of Otto Warmbier, the American student long imprisoned in North Korea who, by the time he was released, was severely brain damaged. Warmbier died soon after returning home. The United States holds all sorts of leverage over King Abdullah. Dammit, it’s time to use it. – Washington Examiner

Radha Stirling writes: We can applaud the Iran-Saudi agreement as an historic turning point in the region, but what we will be hailing, if we are being honest, is the retreat of Western influence in the Middle East, and that is more ominous than inspiring. – Times of Israel

Karim Mezran and Sabina Henneberg write: Tunisia’s current crisis only represents the tip of the iceberg, as the entire North Africa/Sahel region slips rapidly into a state of profound instability. The United States should work with European partners to develop a wider regional plan of political reconciliation, human rights enforcement, economic cooperation, and socio-economic development. – The National Interest 

Michael McFaul and Abbas Milani write: However, Chinese diplomats then cleverly pivoted back to Iran, reassuring Iran’s leadership and making it willing to give concessions to Saudi Arabia’s leaders in Riyadh. For now, Beijing’s diplomatic breakthrough strengthens Iran’s autocrats, which clearly hurts U.S. national interests. By bolstering the regime in Tehran, the accord weakens Iran’s democratic movement and allows a more stable Iran to assist Russia in its war in Ukraine. When autocrats are cooperating, democrats lose out—in Iran, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Finally, if implemented, the accord might dampen the possibilities of further Arab-Israeli rapprochement. – Foreign Policy 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s latest missile launches were a military drill designed to train crews to carry out their mission at any time and “annihilate the enemy” if necessary, the country’s state media KCNA said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

South Korea’s president sees a deal to end a feud with Japan opening the way to better business ties between the neighbors that could bolster global supply chains of semiconductors and steady their economic relations with China. – Bloomberg 

Joy Yoon writes: Humanitarian organizations with work history in North Korea need the freedom to travel. By permitting charitable organizations the ability to respond to time-sensitive, urgent needs, we can help save the lives of ordinary North Koreans. – The Hill  


China, Iran and Russia are conducting joint maritime drills in the Gulf of Oman from March 15-19, the Chinese defense ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping is rebooting his image as a global statesman — and he’s already got a significant win under his belt. – Bloomberg 

The Commerce Department will this month release rules to limit companies’ activity in China should they receive some of the $52 billion that the US is providing to boost its semiconductor industry. – Bloomberg 

The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom are traveling “further down the wrong and dangerous path for their own geopolitical self-interest,” China’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, responding to an agreement under which Australia will purchase nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. to modernize its fleet. – Associated Press 

China’s new defense minister has previously been sanctioned by the United States for his concerning ties to the Russian military as criticism of Beijing’s links to Putin’s war machine grows. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: It would also be naive to expect anything more than a cold peace between Riyadh and Tehran. For now, an agreement serves Iran and Saudi Arabia’s interests and allows Beijing to act as peacemaker. That produces a less volatile Middle East. There are reasons to cheer but also to jeer as China flexes its diplomatic clout. – Financial Times 

Alexander Gabuev writes: Beyond equipping China with another tool of geoeconomic power, this trend will further fragment the global economy into Beijing-led and Washington-led blocs. That, in turn, will undermine the efficiency of Western sanctions against authoritarian regimes, who will increasingly see ties to China as an antidote to US-led coercion. The costs of putting the squeeze on Russia may be higher than Washington seems to realize. – Bloomberg 

South Asia

En route to New Delhi this month, US officials proclaimed themselves satisfied that India is buying Russian oil below G-7 price caps designed to undercut Moscow’s war in Ukraine without disrupting global energy flows. – Bloomberg 

Clashes between Pakistan’s police and supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan persisted outside his home in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday, a day after officers went to arrest him for failing to appear in court on graft charges. – Associated Press 

Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande write: Helping India strengthen its economic fundamentals and build a technological infrastructure with strong links with the United States is deemed to be beneficial to the U.S. in and of itself. Even India’s drive for indigenization is seen as building another American partner that could counter the influence of Russia and China as a supplier of technology and defense equipment to other countries. – The Hill   

Joseph Rozen writes: But if the United States wants to establish an advantage over China, then a game-changer move is needed. There is an open invitation for Biden to visit Bangladesh, made by Hasina at the last UN General Assembly. President Biden should accept the invitation. Such a visit could not only help provide assurances for protecting democracy and progress in Bangladesh, but could also help position Bangladesh as a valuable partner in the Indo-Pacific region. – The National Interest 


Moscow joined Beijing in criticizing as provocative and destabilizing a plan set this week to speed the sale of U.S. nuclear-powered submarines and technology to Australia, with both U.S. rivals expressing concern that the arrangement risks further proliferation of weapons. – Wall Street Journal

Ex-Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating condemned the center-left Labor government’s deal with the US and UK to obtain nuclear submarines, saying the nation’s military sovereignty was being surrendered to the “whim and caprice” of Washington. – Bloomberg 

Australia has embarked on a diplomatic campaign to ease regional concerns over its acquisition of a fleet of nuclear submarines under the Aukus agreement, as Malaysia warned against potentially unleashing an “arms race” in the Asia-Pacific. – Bloomberg

After 18 months of negotiations, the leaders of the US and the UK have announced details for their plan to provide a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia over 30 years, part of the ambitious Aukus partnership designed to counter China’s military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region. – Bloomberg 

Armenia’s prime minister on Tuesday accused a Moscow-dominated security alliance of leaving his country in the cold in the face of a threat of renewed hostilities with neighboring Azerbaijan. – Associated Press

Taiwan is scrambling to secure its communications with the outside world against an attack by China, but even in peacetime cannot quickly repair critical undersea internet cables and lacks suitable satellite backups, experts and officials say. – Reuters 

Taiwan showcased new models of its domestically produced military drones on Tuesday, saying they are key to its “asymmetric warfare” capacity to make its forces more agile if they have to face a far larger Chinese military. – Reuters 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met his Fiji counterpart in Suva on Wednesday to press Canberra’s message that its $245 billion nuclear powered submarine programme does not violate its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. – Reuters 

The candidate likely to represent the ruling party at Taiwan’s next presidential election, Vice President William Lai, pledged on Wednesday to protect the island against China and ensure peace, as he formally registered to run in the campaign. – Reuters 

Both sides were also critical of the Russian peace keeping contingent’s ineffectiveness. When the second Nagorno-Karabakh war ended in November 2020, Russia’s ability to introduce a peacekeeping contingent was viewed as a major success that somewhat compensated for Turkey’s prominent role in Azerbaijan’s victory during the war. Now this peacekeeping force is facing complaints from both sides. Additionally, Baku and Yerevan have indicated that they are willing to listen to suggestions from Brussels and Washington. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Editorial: The Aukus deal is a reminder that the U.S. remains the friend of choice around the world, and it’s an opening to launch a national effort to build three attack subs a year. But meeting the defense needs of allies and America will take more than parchment promises. – Wall Street Journal   

Lisa Curtis, Andrew Metrick, and Joshua Fitt write: Additionally, AUKUS isn’t happening in a vacuum. […]While the Quad is not a security partnership, its activities that bolster maritime domain awareness and regional prosperity also support a free and open regional order. Furthermore, progress within the U.S.-Japan-ROK and U.S.-Japan-Philippines trilateral relationships show that allies and partners are committed to making strides toward strong implementation of integrated deterrence. – Center for a New American Security 

Min-Hua Chiang writes: A war over Taiwan would have severe negative repercussions for the world economy. However, the potential economic and political turmoil from launching a war against Taiwan will likely not restrain China’s provocative military actions. A new China policy is imperative to prevent a conflict in the Taiwan Strait from devastating the global economy. – Heritage Foundation 


Poland may deliver Soviet-era fighter jets to Ukraine in the coming weeks, a move that would cross a threshold among NATO member states cautious about sending air power. – Bloomberg 

Democratic Unionist Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson called for changes to parts of the deal between the UK and the European Union on Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit arrangements, raising fresh doubts about the prospects for a resumption of power-sharing in the region. – Bloomberg 

A group of three European Union countries are calling to lower the price cap on Russian oil this month in a bid to further undermine the financing of President Vladimir Putin’s war machine. – Bloomberg 

Germany’s defense industry says it stands ready to ramp up its output, including the kinds of arms and ammunition needed by Ukraine, but needs clarity about what governments want before investing in further production capacity. – Associated Press

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged Monday to increase military funding by 5 billion pounds ($6 billion) over the next two years in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the “epoch-defining challenge” posed by China. – Associated Press 

Sweden’s prime minister acknowledged Tuesday that it is likely that neighbor Finland will join NATO before his country does, due to Turkey’s opposition to the Swedish bid. – Associated Press 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Germany’s response to the explosion on North Sea pipelines showed that the country remained “occupied” and unable to act independently decades after its surrender at the end of World War Two. – Reuters 

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace urged Moscow to respect international airspace, after the United States said that Russia had caused one of its drones to crash into the Black Sea on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that last year’s blasts on the Nord Stream gas pipelines had been carried out on a “state level”, dismissing the idea an autonomous pro-Ukraine group was responsible as “complete nonsense”. – Reuters 

RAF and German fighter jets have intercepted a Russian aircraft near Estonian airspace in the first joint operation of its kind. – BBC 

The EU is finalizing a €2 billion deal to jointly restock Ukraine’s dwindling ammunition supplies while refilling countries’ stocks, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. – Politico 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has scrapped an upcoming parliamentary session, frustrating lawmakers keen to ratify Sweden and Finland’s applications to NATO. – Washington Examiner

German intelligence officials revealed in December that they believed the Essen shooting and two other synagogue attacks at the same time had ties to Iran. Last week, The Washington Post quoted anonymous German and US intelligence sources who named Yektarapast as a suspect, and as an alleged asset of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The United States considers the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, though Germany does not. – Times of Israel

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is currently investigating the possibility of supplying Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 1 fighter jets to European MiG-29 operators, so the Soviet-era aircraft can, in turn, be gifted to Ukraine. – Breaking Defense

Leonid Bershidsky writes: If a non-government actor blew up the Russian pipelines, it’s an uncomfortable thought that extremely sensitive infrastructure is relatively easy to destroy; if a government did it, defending against such attacks should be a national security priority for every country that relies on undersea cables or pipelines. – Bloomberg 


Secretary of State Antony Blinken became the latest senior US official to visit Africa as part of a broader push by Washington to re-engage with the continent’s leaders at a time when the region is facing stark security challenges and economic fallout from the war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg 

Witnesses say at least nine people, including five soldiers, were killed Tuesday when an explosives-laden car targeted the entrance of a guest house in the southern Somalia town of Bardhere in Gedo region. Suleyman Hassan, who works with the district commissioner, told The Associated Press that the governor and senior military officers were wounded and airlifted to the capital, Mogadishu. – Associated Press 

U.S. commanders leading annual counter-terrorism exercises in West Africa have urged coastal countries to depend on each other to contain a spreading Islamist insurgency, rather than non-Western powers, after Mali last year hired Russian mercenaries. – Reuters 

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an east Congo village attack that killed 19 people on Sunday, according to the group’s Amaq news agency. – Reuters 

Michael Rubin writes: If diplomacy truly is back, as Biden and Blinken have promised, there is no substitute for on-the-ground knowledge. It is time to open a consular office in Somaliland and perhaps forward station a diplomat on a temporary basis to Burao, if not further east. To flirt with a Dhulbahante state, however, would be a mistake whose price would be paid in both years and tens of thousands of lives. – American Enterprise Institute 

Seifudein Adem and Abadir M. Ibrahim write: The Ethiopian government and, more importantly, its more educated members and backers should take a step back and reassess the potential harm to the country of yet another failed transitional justice initiative. […]The international community, which by now must have regretted the role it played in contributing to the success of the side that won the palace wars of 2018, must ensure that the authors of mass atrocities in the Tigray war would ultimately face transitional justice. – Foreign Policy 

Latin America

A Mexican judge has indicted five men turned in by a drug gang in the abduction of four Americans, two of whom were killed, in the violence-plagued city of Matamoros, said the top prosecutor in the border state of Tamaulipas. – Wall Street Journal

Honduran President Xiomara Castro said her government will seek to establish formal diplomatic relations with China, which would effectively end ties with Taiwan and deprive the island of one of its few remaining allies. – Bloomberg 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Tuesday he will not visit Russia or Ukraine due to the ongoing war but he remained committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict. – Reuters 

Eduardo Porter writes: Latin American political elites might still harbor deep resentment toward the US. But most Latin American voters don’t seem to share it. In 2020, two years before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, 59% of Latin Americans had a good or very good opinion of both Russia and China, according to the Latinobarómetro polls. But 72% had a good or very good opinion of the US. – Bloomberg 

Hussein Kalout and Feliciano Guimarães write: After the tumult of the Bolsonaro years, Brazil can reassert itself as a valuable force on the international stage. The world has changed since Lula’s first tenure as president, and Brazil’s foreign policy needs to adjust to address current and future challenges. Lula now has a tremendous opportunity to construct a new doctrine, one that is cohesive, credible, and innovative. Brazil is back, and it can play a positive, even indispensable role in the region and in the world. – Foreign Affairs 


TikTok’s leadership is discussing the possibility of separating from ByteDance Ltd., its Chinese parent company, to help address concerns about national security risks. – Bloomberg 

Britain’s security minister said Tuesday he has asked the country’s National Cyber Security Center to review threats posed by TikTok amid calls for the U.K. to impose a ban on the Chinese-owned social media app. – Associated Press 

At least three serious bills have been introduced to restrict TikTok as Congress grows more skeptical of its ties to the Chinese Communist Party and its vast influence over U.S. culture. – Washington Examiner

Suspected government-backed hackers are attacking military and government organizations in South Asia with malware called KamiKakaBot that is designed to steal sensitive information. – The Record

A Russian state-backed hacker group known as Nobelium is behind recent attempted cyberattacks on diplomatic entities and government agencies in the European Union, cybersecurity researchers say. – The Record 

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council called for mandatory cybersecurity rules for critical infrastructure organizations and the technology vendors that service those sectors, echoing recommendations in the Biden administration’s national cybersecurity strategy. – CyberScoop

Editorial: Considering Biden’s many abuses of executive power (including on student loans, immigration, and the environment), conservatives should be wary of granting broad powers to any executive branch official. But as long as the technology affected is clearly limited to China, Russia, and the other nations listed above, such a move might be necessary to protect national security. – Washington Examiner


A group of senators from both parties is pressing the Pentagon for more information on what it would take to send F-16 jets to Ukraine. – Politico 

The United States is opening the throttle in its push to develop and procure hypersonic missiles after falling behind key foreign adversaries China and Russia in the race to field a potentially game-changing defense system. – The Hill  

The Pentagon is once again accepting new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters from Lockheed Martin, a spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office said in a statement, lifting a months-long pause put in place after the crash of an F-35B in December. – Breaking Defense

The rapid drawdown of the U.S. munitions stockpile to feed the demand of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict prompted the Department of Defense to ramp up its acquisition of everything from missiles to artillery shells, senior defense officials told reporters on Monday. – USNI News

Cynthia Cook writes: The World War II model of engaging the industrial base in five years may not be sufficient for a conflict with a highly capable adversary with a strong industrial base, a strategy of onshoring all the components of production, and near-monopoly power over critical subcomponents, including critical materials used in defense production across the world. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies