Fdd's overnight brief

March 2, 2023

In The News


Dozens of students in Iran were hospitalized for suspected poisoning this week, the latest in a series of mysterious cases at girls’ schools across the country. – Washington Post 

Iran’s currency has plunged to record lows, posing a new challenge for the country’s clerical leadership following nationwide protests late last year. The Iranian rial has lost a fifth of its value since last week, hitting a low of 601,500 to the U.S. dollar on Sunday. – Wall Street Journal

Iran said Wednesday it has expelled two German diplomats over Berlin’s alleged interference in its internal affairs. The move comes a week after Germany expelled two Iranian diplomats over a death sentence handed down to Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German dual citizen and opposition figure accused of masterminding deadly attacks. – Associated Press

Iran is seeking sophisticated new air-defense systems from Russia that Israeli officials believe will narrow the window for a potential strike on Tehran’s nuclear program, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

The head of the military’s Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk, revealed Wednesday that Iran had twice attempted to attack Israeli-linked vessels in the Arabian Sea in the past month. – Times of Israel

The head of the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog will meet with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Saturday to try to “relaunch the dialogue” on the country’s atomic work, a diplomatic source said Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

President Joe Biden ’s administration is “very, very” worried by Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons-grade uranium, a top diplomat acknowledged Wednesday. “It is very, very worrisome,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who leads the U.S. mission to the United Nations , told House lawmakers. “And I know that we’re looking at how we respond.” – Washington Examiner

Members of Iran’s parliament who urged a harsh response to widespread protests should be sanctioned by the U.S. and its international partners, a bipartisan group of Senate and House lawmakers said in a letter to the administration yesterday. – Jewish Insider

Matthew Kroenig writes: In its 2022 Nuclear Posture Review, the Biden administration promised to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons” in U.S. strategy. America’s adversaries have different ideas. In recent days, the rapidly advancing nuclear capabilities of all four of America’s nuclear-capable rivals—Russia, Iran, North Korea and China—have made international news. – Wall Street Journal

Salem Al Ketbi writes: One more important point is the growing Chinese support for Iran in the technical field. More trade, economic and industrial exchanges will enable Iran to challenge the West more boldly and seek a broader and more active regional and international role, reflecting the breakdown of Western-imposed isolation. This may in-turn have adverse effects on the strategic interests of the Gulf and Arab states. – Jerusalem Post

Simon Henderson writes: An immediate challenge to diplomacy is Iran’s consistent denial that it has any intention of making an atomic bomb. Perhaps we are facing the prospect of a repeat of India’s 1974 advance, when it called the blast in a remote desert area a peaceful nuclear explosion. It would be clarity that Washington wants to avoid. But how? – The Hill

Thomas M. Countryman writes: President Biden has said that it’s critical for his administration to be able to “walk and chew gum at the same time” on matters of policy. Indeed, this should be his first order of business: balancing the mutually compatible imperatives of supporting the pro-democracy movement while forestalling the prospect of Iran’s nuclear program spiraling into a broader regional conflict that nobody wants. – The Hill

Russia & Ukraine

Military supplies from China would provide Russia with a lifeline in its Ukraine war effort, thanks to the compatibility of Chinese and Russian weapon systems and Beijing’s large military manufacturing base. – Wall Street Journal

Ukrainians are marking their first day of spring on social media, sharing photos of fresh buds and blooms and acknowledging that they have survived a brutal winter of war. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said Wednesday that March 1 — which is considered the first day of spring in Ukraine — symbolized “another major defeat” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who failed to use the winter season to weaponize energy and win the war in Ukraine. – Washington Post 

Ukraine is sending reinforcements to the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut, leading more troops into a bloody crucible that has already cost both sides staggering losses, where Russian forces have gradually tightened their grip. – New York Times

When he made his surprise wartime trip to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv last week, President Biden reassured that country with great confidence that “the Americans stand with you.” But the question that remains unanswered is: For how long? – New York Times

Their respect for their tank is understandable. Perhaps no weapon symbolizes the ferocious violence of war more than the main battle tank. Tanks have loomed over the conflict in Ukraine in recent months — militarily and diplomatically — as both sides prepared for offensives. Russia pulled reserves of tanks from Cold War-era storage, and Ukraine prodded Western governments to supply American Abrams and German Leopard 2 tanks. – New York Times

When Russia invaded Ukraine, a phalanx of Western companies pledged to get out fast from what had once been an important market. McDonald’s dismantled its golden arches after 32 years. The oil giant BP moved to divest its mammoth Russian investments. The French automaker Renault sold its factories for the symbolic sum of one ruble. – New York Times

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, preparing for confrontations over the war in Ukraine at a meeting of top diplomats from the Group of 20 nations, said Wednesday that the Biden administration saw “zero evidence” that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was prepared to engage in serious peace talks. – New York Times

The United States is framing a visit to China by President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus as a sign of Beijing’s support for the war in Ukraine and an attempt by two of Russia’s closest allies to strengthen ties. – New York Times

Russia may continue to exchange information with the United States on issues related to their nuclear forces even after Moscow suspended its participation in the last remaining arms control pact between the two countries, a senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday. – Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that he has no plans to meet either the foreign ministers of Russia or of China during the Group of 20 (G20) meeting in New Delhi. Blinken was on a brief tour of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and will head to the Indian capital for the G20 meeting, where Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine will be an important part of discussions. – Reuters

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock used the Group of 20 nations meeting to directly address her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and call on him to end the war in Ukraine. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned of “deep global divisions” as the G-20 foreign ministers met for a second day in New Delhi. – Bloomberg

Russian critics of President Vladimir Putin have spent the past year pressing the US and its allies to impose sanctions on thousands of Kremlin officials and business tycoons. Now they want a clear way for those who come out against the war to get off the blacklists. – Bloomberg

The European Union is set to propose a three-track plan to provide Ukraine with much-needed ammunition in response to some member states’ calls to ramp up the continent’s production capacity, but the amount of funding remains unclear. – Bloomberg

The United States will not pull back its support for Ukraine in response to Russia suspending its participation in a key nuclear arms treaty, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday. – The Hill

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top allies, China and Belarus, enhanced their own diplomatic ties Wednesday after leaders from both nations met in Beijing and agreed to deepen defensive coordination as Europe faces its greatest security threat since World War II. – Fox News

In a new blueprint for military support to Ukraine, the European Union will propose that €1 billion should be specifically dedicated to ammunition, particularly 155mm artillery shells, according to a document seen by POLITICO. – Politico

A Russian salvo of Iranian-made kamikaze drones was launched against Ukrainian targets for the first time in almost two weeks on Sunday, the UK Defense Ministry said in a Wednesday morning intelligence update. – Jerusalem Post 

Ilan Berman writes: In his seminal 1951 poem, Dylan Thomas famously counseled his readers: “Do not go gentle into that good night… Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” That is precisely what Russia is doing, against the backdrop of dimming demographics and waning ideological appeal. The consequences are the current war in Ukraine – and, depending on its outcome, potentially greater conflict with the West to come. – American Foreign Policy Council

Michael Rubin writes: Priority No. 1 must be military victory. To defeat Putinism both now and in the future requires liberating every inch of Ukrainian territory, and perhaps even more. It is not too early, though, to plan for justice. The West’s human rights community and U.N. bureaucrats may have one idea of what justice means, but neither Ukrainians nor Russians need to default to their politically loaded expertise. They can pick from many other models, many of which may be better suited to deliver justice. – Washington Examiner


Israel’s closest ally the United States on Wednesday demanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repudiate a call by his hardline Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for a Palestinian village to be erased. – Reuters

Israel was rocked on Wednesday by further protests against the government’s planned judicial overhaul in the wake of increased violence in the West Bank, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed determined to hold his ground. – Bloomberg

The Defense Ministry and the US Department of Defense on Wednesday signed a security of supply arrangement to ensure that both countries have special priority to purchase security supplies on an emergency basis in the case of a conflict. – Jerusalem Post

A bill to impose the death penalty for terrorists who kill Israeli citizens was approved in a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

IDF Operations Commander Maj. Gen. Oded Bassiuk on Wednesday said that he cannot promise that Palestinian terrorism will not escalate leading into the Muslim month of Ramadan just over the horizon. – Jerusalem Post

State Department Spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday issued a rare and vigorous rebuke of an Israeli government official after Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for Israel to “erase” a Palestinian town. – Algemeiner

Israeli security forces captured two terrorists Wednesday, on suspicion of carrying out the murder Monday of 26-year-old dual American-Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles. – Arutz Sheva

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long leaned into his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, leveraging it to act as an intermediary between the Kremlin and Washington and to help secure Israel’s northern border with Syria. – NBC

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has instructed PA security forces to confront Israeli troops and settlers if they enter Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank, a senior PA official said on Tuesday. – Times of Israel

David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel in the Trump administration, told Jewish Insider on Wednesday that he believes Israel’s right-wing governing coalition has grown receptive to compromising on elements of a proposed judicial overhaul that has sparked mass protests in recent weeks. – Jewish Insider

Facing questioning from a House Appropriations subcommittee yesterday over the U.S.’s work at, and contributions to, the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield highlighted what she characterized as the advantages of deeper U.S. involvement in the international body and reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to standing with Israel and combating anti-Israel bias within the U.N. system. – Jewish Insider

Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT), who recently returned from a high-level delegation to Israel and the West Bank, said he is “extremely worried” about mounting political tensions and escalating violence in the region, raising concerns that such developments could imperil the prospect of a two-state solution. – Jewish Insider

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) plans to reintroduce legislation next Tuesday cracking down further on Palestinian Authority payments to the families of terrorists, Cotton spokesperson James Arnold told Jewish Insider yesterday. – Jewish Insider

Editorial: Israelis driving on this road say that they feel like “sitting ducks.” In memory of the Yaniv brothers and to prevent further casualties, the government should approve the Huwara bypass road as soon as possible. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: The significant uptick in terrorism and this week’s three brutal murders necessitates that the government re-thinks policies and perhaps comes up with new ones to protect its citizens. But this must be done coolly, and the decisions made professionally. – Jerusalem Post


President Tayyip Erdogan indicated on Wednesday that elections will be held on May 14, sticking to his previous plan for the vote with a date just over three months after a devastating earthquake killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey. – Reuters

Gonul Tol writes: Erdogan’s Turkey is a powerful reminder that strongmen do not bring stability and do not get things done. They are at their worst when their country needs them the most. The tragedy that struck two weeks ago reminds us that Turkey does not need a strongman; it needs strong, capable institutions. – Foreign Policy

Soner Cagaptay writes: The resilience of Turkey’s middle class and civil society allow a glimmer of hope amid all the gloom. Turkey’s citizens have now caught a glimpse of a brighter future, in which they are not infantilized and political leaders do not simply style themselves as stern fathers corralling unruly offspring. Instead of producing another paternalistic government, this earthquake could help rebalance the uneven relationship in Turkey between state and society. – Foreign Affairs

Gulf States

Britain’s Royal Navy said on Thursday it had seized Iranian weapons, including anti-tank guided missiles, last month from a smugglers vessel in international waters in the Gulf of Oman. Britain said the vessel was detected travelling south from Iran at high speed during the hours of darkness by an unmanned U.S. intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance plane, and was also tracked by a British helicopter. – Reuters

Saudi and British defence ministers have agreed to study future co-operation on combat air capabilities and potential industrial projects, the Saudi state news agency reported. Saudi Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman and British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace met in Riyadh on Wednesday and signed a “declaration of intent regarding the participation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Future Air Capabilities Program (FCAS)”, it said. – Reuters

The United Nations chief on Wednesday praised Iraq for repatriating citizens detained in neighboring Syria on suspicion of ties to the Islamic State group and pledged international support for the country’s efforts to regain stability and security. – Associated Press

Western allies are pushing the United Arab Emirates to halt exports of critical goods to Russia as they seek to starve Vladimir Putin’s military of components to sustain its war against Ukraine. – Financial Times

Middle East & North Africa

Since Tunisia’s president announced a crackdown on illegal immigration last week using language the African Union denounced as racialised, Malian construction worker Mohamed Kony has been evicted from his apartment and sacked from his job. – Reuters

A Lebanese intelligence chief who has mediated the release of Westerners held in Syria and also acted as a mediator within Lebanon stepped down Wednesday after attempts to extend his term failed. – Associated Press

A senior Al Qaeda leader in Yemen was killed in an airstrike attributed to the United States on Wednesday, according to local reports and AFP which cited two Yemeni government officials. – Jerusalem Post

Neville Teller writes: There is an uncomfortable truth that Jordan, the US and all genuine supporters of the two-state solution must eventually face up to. An essential prerequisite to any two-state solution would have to be the disempowerment of the Hamas organization. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Chilsong Trading Corporation, which it says is used by North Korea to earn foreign currency and collect intelligence; and Korea Paekho Trading Corporation, which is accused of generating funds for the North Korean government since the 1980s by conducting art and construction projects throughout the Middle East and Africa. – Reuters

South Korea’s president on Wednesday called Japan “a partner that shares the same universal values” and renewed hopes to repair ties frayed over Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. – Associated Press

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered improvements to infrastructure and expansion of farmland to ramp up food production, state media said on Thursday, amid warnings of an impending food crisis. – Reuters


Chinese researchers lead their American counterparts in the study of dozens of critical technologies, according to a new report that proposes Beijing is dominant in some scientific pursuits and positioned to develop key future breakthroughs. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Moscow’s closest ally, sought to cement the partnership between their two nations as Minsk seeks more help for its sanctions-hit economy while endorsing Beijing’s efforts to cast itself as a peacemaker in the Ukraine war. – Wall Street Journal

A newly formed House committee tasked with challenging China’s governing Communist Party held its debut hearing Tuesday with lawmakers unified in calls to confront what they said were Beijing’s efforts to sow division among Americans and undermine U.S. business interests and human rights values. – Washington Post 

The United States is sounding out close allies about the possibility of imposing new sanctions on China if Beijing provides military support to Russia for its war in Ukraine, according to four U.S. officials and other sources. – Reuters

China has a “stunning lead” in 37 out of 44 critical and emerging technologies as Western democracies lose a global competition for research output, a security think tank said on Thursday after tracking defence, space, energy and biotechnology. – Reuters

China lashed out Wednesday at a new U.S. House committee dedicated to countering Beijing, demanding its members “discard their ideological bias and zero-sum Cold War mentality.” – Associated Press

Western warnings about the possibility of China sending lethal military aid to Russia are well placed, military analysts told NBC News, as help from Beijing could be a crucial boost for the Kremlin’s hopes of battlefield success in the months to come. – NBC

Editorial: Code Pink protesters heckled former national security adviser H.R. McMaster as he delivered his opening statement. Apparently lost on the activists was that they could not protest this way in Beijing. Democracy tends to be messy and often quarrelsome. But we hope the promising and productive early signs coming from this committee continue. And that the rest of Congress takes note. – Washington Post 

David Ignatius writes: What should Biden propose as topics for a possible summit meeting with Xi, beyond the usual U.S. focus on crisis control and strategic stability? I’d suggest the two biggest challenges facing the two superpowers: A dialogue about artificial intelligence and other world-altering emerging technologies, as former secretary of state Henry Kissinger has proposed; and discussion of an agreement for a “green energy” transition to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. – Washington Post 

Joseph Bosco writes: If China responds to America’s collective defense actions by attacking U.S. forces, territory or assets, or those of its allies, Washington will consider them as constituting acts of war against not just Taiwan but the United States itself and will act accordingly. China, not just the West, should be worried about escalation. – The Hill

Seth J. Frantzman writes: These two issues; having a leading lab in a city with an outbreak and not stopping the outbreak, and obfuscating about the origins, means that the ‘lab leak’ controversy should continue to be a subject of discussion and also an issue of national security. The US is leading this discussion but other countries affected by the pandemic have a vested interest in knowing what happened. – Jerusalem Post

Former Amb. Robert Holleyman writes: I am heartened to see the Biden administration and our elected representatives in the Congress focusing on the need to move America away from dependence on China and reforming our trading relationship. The administration should continue to refine its policies on Chinese energy imports as facts on the ground change. And I hope that the House select committee on China is willing to support them. Solving both climate change and America’s dangerous reliance on China are both of the utmost priority: As our U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says, “we must walk and chew gum and play chess at the same time.” – The Hill

South Asia

India is close to approving a deal to buy high-altitude armed drones from the U.S. as it seeks to counter a more-assertive Chinese stance on the countries’ contested Himalayan border, people with knowledge of the matter said.  – Wall Street Journal

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will skip a meeting of G20 foreign ministers due to take place in New Delhi, India, this week, a Japanese government official said. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenji Yamada will represent Japan at the meetings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, the foreign ministry said in a statement. – Reuters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on foreign ministers from the Group of 20 (G20) nations on Thursday to find common ground on global issues as he inaugurated a meeting that looks set to be dominated by Russia’s year-long war in Ukraine. – Reuters

With the foreign ministers of the Group of 20 leading economies meeting Thursday in New Delhi, host India is promoting itself as a rising superpower while leveraging its position on the global stage to bridge the gap between the West and Russia. – Associated Press

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is kicking off its first hearing in its review of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, inviting the leaders of two groups that organized charter flights for those seeking to leave the country. – The Hill

Michael Schuman writes: For Washington, that may be a more difficult world, demanding a degree of adaptability that U.S. policy has often lacked. Washington will have to learn how to achieve its foreign-policy goals without the formal alliances that once served as the bedrock of the U.S.-led order. And in the coming confrontation with China, Washington needs all the friends it can find, however it may get them. – The Atlantic


The United States has approved the potential sale of $619 million in new weapons to Taiwan, including missiles for its F-16 fleet, as the island reported a second day of large-scale Chinese air force incursions nearby. – Reuters

A former Biden administration China policy official will guide U.S. ties with Taiwan as the U.S.-based head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the institute said on Wednesday, a move aimed a deepening ties with the Chinese-claimed island as U.S.-China relations hit their lowest point in decades. – Reuters

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Wednesday it had spotted 19 Chinese air force planes in its air defence zone in the past 24 hours, part of what Taipei calls regular harassment by Beijing. Taiwan, which China views as its own territory, has complained for the past three years or so of stepped up Chinese military activities near the island as Beijing seeks to assert its sovereignty claims. – Reuters

Australia’s former defence minister said on Wednesday he favoured Australia choosing a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine over a British model in its AUKUS alliance, comments swiftly labelled “irresponsible” by the government, which expects to announce a decision within weeks. – Reuters

The Biden administration on Tuesday pledged to support the independence of the five Central Asian nations, in a not-so-subtle warning to the former Soviet states that Russia’s value as a partner has been badly compromised by its year-old war against Ukraine. – Associated Press

As close U.S. ally Australia gears up to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, global defence contractors this week showed off advanced drones, long-range missiles and military communications satellites at its biggest air show. – Reuters

Editorial: Americans are seeing pictures of Lt. Alkonis on television winning awards in his dress whites, and the story feeds populist suspicion that the U.S. is treated unfairly by countries it protects. But America needs Japan as an ally, now more than ever as the threat from Beijing grows. The sooner this tragic episode is resolved, the better for both countries. – Wall Street Journal


Finnish authorities are chopping down trees along the country’s snowy Russian border, making way for a 124-mile-long fence, 10 feet high and topped with barbed wire, that the government has started installing because it says it “cannot rely” on Moscow to maintain border security. – Washington Post 

Finland’s Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed all the legislation necessary for joining NATO, subject only to the ratification of its bid by the Parliaments of Turkey and Hungary. – New York Times

President Biden heaped praise on it, as did the prime minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar. Britain’s Labour Party threw its support behind it. Even hard-line Brexiteers in the British Conservative Party, who were expected to revolt against the agreement, swiftly fell into line. – New York Times

Former Soviet satellite Slovakia has been a NATO member since 2004, but the reality of belonging to the world’s biggest military alliance really kicked in after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago. – Associated Press

Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca held talks Wednesday with his visiting Moldovan counterpart as the two neighbors seek to boost ties amid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

Britain’s air force chief says it was “unacceptable” its former pilots were being recruited to train Chinese military, and intelligence agencies in Australia and Britain had shared information to warn pilots against working for Beijing .- Reuters

Sean Monaghan writes: Europe can solve its defense cooperation dilemma, but it needs to think big and act fast. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has provided a wake-up call for European leaders and the imperative they need to transform European defense. They cannot miss their moment: it is now or never. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Andreas Kluth writes: It’s far too early to declare Vucic and Kurti the Balkan Sadat and Begin or anything of the sort. But peace and civility always start with a gesture, however small, of courage and magnanimity. Maybe Europe this week took a tiny first step toward overcoming Balkanization as such. – Bloomberg


Speaking to supporters after the results were announced, the 70-year-old Mr. Tinubu struck a conciliatory tone. “To those who didn’t support me, I ask that you don’t allow the disappointment of this moment to keep you from realizing the historic national progress we can make by working together,” he said. – Wall Street Journal

Emmanuel Macron landed in Gabon on Wednesday, the first stop of an Africa tour that will also take the French President to Angola, Congo Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo. Macron’s trip, his first to all four countries as President, follows the launch of a new Africa policy and is focused away from France’s troubled former colonies in West Africa’s Sahel region where anti-French sentiment is rising. – Reuters

The United States began its annual counter-terrorism training program for African forces in Ghana on Wednesday, aiming to strengthen border defences in the fight against Islamist insurgents who are spreading south into new territories. – Reuters

The United Nations’ top official in Democratic Republic of Congo has sought to rally local support for the agency’s troubled peacekeeping mission to the country, touring its conflict-hit eastern provinces for the first time in months. – Reuters

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Wednesday said he encouraged Nigerian authorities to carefully examine concerns raised by opposition parties over the process of a disputed presidential election. – Reuters

The United States is increasing its military assistance to Somalia as the country sees success in battling what the U.S. calls “the largest and most deadly al-Qaida network in the world.” – Associated Press

The United Nations on Wednesday condemned the deployment of South Sudanese troops in an area of the disputed region of Abyei, which both Sudan and South Sudan claim. – Associated Press

Burkina Faso has scrapped a 1961 agreement on military assistance with France, a move that comes only weeks after it told the French ambassador and troops supporting its anti-jihadist campaign to quit the country. – Agence France-Presse

The Americas

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has expressed his intention to “expand the dialogue” between Latin American countries to overcome tariff barriers, Brazil’s presidential office said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A top ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Cuba on Wednesday and held talks with President Miguel Diaz-Canel as well as former Communist Party leader Raul Castro, Tass news agency said. – Reuters

The United States will consider “all options,” including a formal trade dispute panel, unless Mexico addresses Washington’s concerns over Mexico’s plan to limit imports of genetically modified corn, a senior U.S. trade official said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Cuban authorities have accused the U.S. government of being “complicit in piracy” for granting political asylum to a pilot who fled to Florida on a small “kidnapped” plane last October. In a statement late Tuesday, Cuba’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Washington’s charge d’affaires in Havana to communicate Cuba’s “protest” to the asylum granted to the Cuban pilot, arguing he violated regulations. – Reuters

The United Nations has named Ecuadorian diplomat Maria Isabel Salvador as the organization’s new Special Representative to Haiti and head of the U.N. Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), the international body said in a statement on Wednesday. – Reuters

Canadian opposition parties on Wednesday stepped up their push for a broad public inquiry into alleged foreign election interference, particularly by China, a move that Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not yet endorsed. – Reuters

United States

A bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers, led by Representatives Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Ann Wagner (MO-02) sent a letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, urging the dismissal of Francesca Albanese and the disbanding of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Attendees at a White House roundtable on antisemitism hosted by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday called for a longterm, non-politicized solution to address rising global antisemitism. – Arutz Sheva

Citing the increasing scale and sophistication of threats to Israel, 47 members of the House Armed Services Committee — a majority of committee members — wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday urging expanded U.S.-Israel defense cooperation. – Jewish Insider


The Biden administration plans to issue a cybersecurity strategy on Thursday that calls on software makers and American industry to take far greater responsibility to assure that their systems cannot be hacked, while accelerating efforts by the F.B.I. and the Defense Department to disrupt hackers and ransomware groups around the world. – New York Times

Australia has not received advice from its security agencies to follow the example of the United States, the European Parliament and Canada to ban Chinese video-sharing app TikTok from government devices, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Belgium’s cyber security agency has linked China-sponsored hackers to an attack on a prominent politician, as European governments become increasingly willing to challenge Beijing over alleged cyber offences. – Financial Times

U.S. Cyber Command, tasked with defending Department of Defense IT networks and coordinating cyberspace operations, is developing its own intelligence hub, after years of relying on other information-gathering sources. – Defense News


The Navy Reserve is emphasizing benefits from medical care to transferability of education benefits to commissary and exchange privileges to attract exiting active-duty sailors to sign up, Vice Adm. John Mustin said Wednesday. – USNI News

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro will name the future Virginia-class nuclear attack boat SSN-808 after a former Navy secretary, the sea service announced Tuesday. – USNI News

Air Mobility Command has directed its refueling and cargo planes to obscure the majority of identifying information painted on the aircraft, citing national security concerns — an unusual move that is alarming to government watchdogs. – Military.com

Heather Williams writes: Gathering like-minded states, strengthening alliances and developing new ways to reduce nuclear risks are just a handful of the many ways of standing up to the man in Moscow. Leading on arms control is an act of defiance in the face of Putin’s attempts to tear down the rules-based international order. Leading on arms control in the midst of a crisis is hardly reckless. Rather, it’s what responsible nuclear states do. – The Hill

Federico Borsari writes: Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the results on the European security landscape add to these challenges and risk further delays in approving the stability policing concept. This would be a mistake. […]China’s anti-Western propaganda and behavior are also worrying. It would be brave, bordering on foolish, to assume that the day of gray-zone threats is over. The definitive codification of a robust police force capability should be a priority for NATO. – Center for European Policy Analysis