Fdd's overnight brief

March 25, 2019

In The News


The Trump administration slapped new sanctions on Iran on Friday, accusing it of keeping top nuclear scientists together as a team so they can forge ahead building nuclear weapons in the future. – Washington Post

Iran’s Ministry of Defense unit responsible for developing nuclear weapons is poised to restart work and is using front companies to buy materials from Russia and China that could be used to reactivate its banned bomb program, U.S. officials alleged Friday. – Wall Street Journal

Iran said on Sunday it would expand its ties with Lebanon in spite of the “provocative and interventionist” call by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for Beirut to choose sides, Iranian state television reported. – Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Thursday that the United States would step up financial and political pressure on Iran’s theocratic regime as it seeks to “extend its reach” across the Middle East. – Fox News

The Trump administration is divided over how far to pressure Iran with its sanctions campaign, as it weighs options that could bolster imports of medicine to Iran and permit some foreign governments to keep buying Iranian oil, according to former officials, congressional aides and sources close to the White House. – NBC News

France joined a growing number of governments in blocking flights by Iranian carrier Mahan Air as the U.S. stepped up its campaign to squeeze Iran’s economy, two people familiar with the matter said. – Bloomberg

Eli Lake writes: It has been almost a year since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, and one might think proponents of the move are feeling vindicated. Iran has stuck to the limits in the agreement on nuclear fuel, despite the re-imposition of crippling sanctions on its banks and oil exports. Yes, it is still making mischief in the region — but no more so than it was a year ago, and now with less than half the oil revenue. The dire predictions of the deal’s supporters, meanwhile, have not come to pass. – Bloomberg

Rahim Hamid writes: The U.S. government itself can help by publicly recognizing the ethnic diversity of Iran rather than the homogenous misrepresentation used by Iranian opposition. If U.S. decision-makers truly wish to see a stable, peaceful, and flourishing democratic Iran replace the current bellicose extremist state, they must avert resentment and injustice that could spark further hostility by supporting the rights of all its peoples to the dignity and equality that are their and all peoples’ birthright. – Washington Institute

Islamic State

President Trump on Friday again announced the Islamic State’s nearly five-year territorial grip in Syria had ended, even as Pentagon officials and U.S.-backed ground forces said they were still fighting. The president’s declaration Friday marked at least the fifth time in four months that he had either declared the war was over or would soon be, most recently two days ago outside the White House. – Wall Street Journal

U.S.-backed forces declared the final defeat of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate Saturday, bringing to an end the brutal experiment in state building that had lured foot soldiers from around the world and inflicted unimaginable suffering on those caught up in the militants’ rampage through Iraq and Syria. […]The end of the caliphate won’t mean the end of the Islamic State, U.S. officials and analysts warn. As their territorial defeat neared, the militants switched gears and began regrouping as an insurgency that is already destabilizing areas from which they were driven out years ago. – Washington Post

The couple, Ellen Barriga and Mohammad Reza Kiram, could have served as the model of a modern interfaith marriage. Instead, they are poster children for how violent ideology transformed educated Filipinos into agents of death for the Islamic State. – New York Times

The fight to expel the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria may be over. But the United States and its partners still face significant battles against the terrorist group, its affiliates and other networks that are less formally aligned with it elsewhere, in Afghanistan, West Africa and the Philippines. – New York Times

Nearly 7,000 Yazidis were killed or kidnapped by ISIS, in what the Yazidis call “the 73rd genocide” against their community. More than 3,000 are still missing, despite the fall of the ISIS territorial Caliphate, and the Kurdish government has set up a $10 million fund to pay ransoms to get them back. – The Daily Beast

At its height, Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate reigned over a realm the size of Britain, with 10 million people under its sway. Its sudden catapult to world attention, combined with an uncanny mastery at social media and slick video production, attracted thousands of people from around the globe eager to take part in the new utopian experiment. Now, four and a half years later, that realm has all but disappeared, after Kurdish forces said Saturday that they captured the eastern Syrian pocket of Baghouz, the last populated area under ISIS rule. – CNN

A Hungarian court has ordered the arrest of a 27-year-old Syrian man suspected of taking part in beheadings in Syria as a member of Islamic State, Hungarian prosecutors said on Sunday. – Reuters

Fawaz Gerges writes: Although the group has been dealt a hard blow, ideologically and operationally the organization is degraded, not defeated, and its extremist network still functions. This is not to say that the Islamic State is invincible, but so long as the causes that gave rise to the extremist group are permitted to persist — the broken politics in the Arab and Islamic world, the fraying and delegitimization of state institutions, as well as ongoing geostrategic rivalries and foreign interventions — there will be opportunities for the Islamic State and like-minded groups to rebound. – New York Times

David Kenner writes: The Islamic State’s financial strength offers a window into the broader challenge facing the United States and other governments. In its effort to squeeze the group financially, Washington has been forced to rely on a fundamentally different strategy than it employed in its military campaign: The main weapons at its disposal are not air strikes and artillery barrages, but subtler tools, such as sanctioning Islamic State–linked businesses, denying them access to the international financial system, and quietly cooperating with governments across the globe. – The Atlantic

Kathy Gilsinan writes: The Islamic State is gone, even if only in strict geographic terms. Once estimated to span territory up to about the size of Maine, the group’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria has disappeared entirely in less than five years. As of early February, the group held just about a square mile on the Syrian border, and though the final assault took six weeks, the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces conducting the operations announced the collapse on Saturday. – The Atlantic


U.S. sanctions have cut off Iranian oil shipments to Syria, taking an unprecedented toll on a flow of crude that had persisted in the face of long-term international restrictions and helped sustain the Assad regime through years of civil war. – Wall Street Journal

Syrian state media on Saturday cited a hospital in government-held Hama as saying 21 people suffered choking symptoms from poison gas after rebels shelled a village. – Reuters

The Arab League said Sunday it was not planning to discuss reinstating Syria’s membership at a summit later this month, more than eight years after suspending it as the country descended into war. – Agence France-Presse


Millions of Kurdish votes will be crucial in determining the fate of Turkey’s March 31 local elections, as a pro-Kurdish party has made the strategic decision to send votes to an opposition rival to challenge the ruling party in key races in Istanbul and Ankara. – Associated Press

Turkey will not go back on the purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia no matter what the United States says, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey will take the issue of the Golan Heights to the United Nations. – Reuters

Berlin wants to sever the financial and institutional ties between local Muslim communities and the Turkish government as part of a bold campaign to help German Muslims develop a homegrown version of Islam. – Financial Times


Seven Israelis were injured after a rocket fired Monday from the Gaza Strip scored a direct hit on a house just outside of Tel Aviv, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Washington. – Washington Post

In tense meetings on Friday, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed leaders of Lebanon to curb the growing power of Hezbollah, the political and military group supported by Iran that holds government posts and runs the health ministry. – New York Times

The timing of President Trump’s Thursday endorsement, via Twitter, of Israeli ownership of the Golan Heights clearly had much to do with upcoming elections in Israel and the United States. – Washington Post

During his visit to Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will try to showcase his strong relationship with President Trump ahead of elections and leave at home the mounting corruption allegations circling him. But they were biting at his heels as he arrived in Washington on Sunday. – Washington Post

Hamas security forces moved quickly to quell the protests that brought hundreds of people into the streets in at least four camps and towns across Gaza this month to demand better living conditions. The security forces beat demonstrators, raided homes and detained organizers, journalists and participants, about 1,000 people in all. – New York Times

The leaders of Romania and Honduras on Sunday announced that they will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, following the lead of President Donald Trump. – Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump will on Monday sign a decree recognizing Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights while hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister said. – Reuters

Powerful has long been the word used to describe America’s pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, which for decades has helped assure nearly universal support in Washington for the Jewish state. But as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meets for its annual conference starting Sunday, it is seeing rare partisan cracks with none of the Democratic presidential candidates confirmed to attend. – Agence France-Presse

A UK publisher has condemned an attack by masked men in Gaza on a Palestinian writer and political figure, Atef Abu Saif, accusing the assailants of deliberately breaking his fingers. – The Guardian

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) delivered Sunday a strong defense of Israel to thousands of attendees at a pro-Israel conference in a veiled rebuke of freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.). – The Hill

Mark Horowitz writes: The idea that Aipac is tied at the hip to the Republican Party and Israel’s far right is also an exaggeration. Aipac is more comfortable, and was always more effective, as a bipartisan operation, positioned near the center of Jewish-American politics. Today, it supports the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, a view that is widely held by American Jews, but opposed by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current coalition. – New York Times

Arabian Peninsula

Congress is poised to pass its first war-powers resolution ordering an end to U.S. involvement in hostilities overseas, rebuking President Trump’s embrace of Saudi Arabia and handing Democrats what they consider a vital component of their strategy for challenging him in 2020. – Washington Post

The U.S. signed an agreement with Oman that gives its navy access to two Arabian Sea ports, allowing American warships and aircraft carriers greater control over a strategic international waterway threatened by nearby Iran. – Wall Street Journal

Middle East & North Africa

Five years after the Islamic State group swept across Iraq, Baghdad is bidding to reclaim its role as a regional player while walking a tightrope between rival backers the US and Iran. The country is seeking to position itself as a “bridge” between rival powers in a region beset by deep divisions, says Iraqi political scientist Ihssan al-Shemmari. – Agence France-Presse

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi sought Egypt’s support for efforts to tackle Islamist militants in the region during a visit to Cairo on Saturday, his first trip abroad since taking office in October. – Reuters

Mohamed Chtatou writes: Some of the key lessons of the first Arab Spring was how easily unrest spread from one country to another, and how universal the demands for increased social, political, and economic opportunity were among protestors across the Arab World. […]The Arab world must establish accountability within its governments. Otherwise, national wealth will continue to be wasted on inequalities that trap many of its people in cycles of deep poverty while rewarding corruption. The stark visibility of these inequalities will continue to drive its desperate youth towards strife. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea on Saturday escalated its attempt to create a rift between South Korea and the United States, as Washington sent mixed signals over whether it would tighten or relax sanctions on the North. – New York Times

President Trump undercut his own Treasury Department on Friday with a sudden announcement that he had rolled back newly imposed North Korea sanctions, appearing to overrule national security experts as a favor to Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader. – New York Times

North Korea abruptly pulled out from a liaison office with South Korea near the border on Friday, another apparent sign of hardening positions following the no-deal summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump last month. – Washington Post

North Korea sent back its officials to an inter-Korean liaison office in the North’s border city of Kaesong on Monday, reversing a decision two days ago to withdraw the officials, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said. – Reuters

Swedish diplomats are keeping a room ready for the U.S. to use if it ever decides to have an official presence in the North Korean capital. – Associated Press


Italy and China signed an agreement to cooperate on Beijing’s global infrastructure plan, the Belt and Road Initiative, sealing an accord that has alarmed Italy’s U.S. and European allies. – Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon sent two vessels through the Taiwan Strait, a show of U.S. support for Taiwan likely to fuel concerns in Beijing that Washington is aligning increasingly with Taipei. – Wall Street Journal

Top Chinese economic policymakers promised this weekend that Beijing was ready to open up the country’s economy to more market-based competition and international trade, in the latest sign of strong Chinese interest in ending a multibillion-dollar trade war with the United States. – New York Times

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday she will travel to China at the end of the week for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, amid concerns of strained relations between the countries. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron were due to hold talks in Paris on Monday with the host leader seeking to forge a united European front to contend with Beijing’s advances. Xi’s official visit to Paris will mark 55 years since Charles de Gaulle established diplomatic relations with Beijing. – Agence France-Presse

France’s Emmanuel Macron declared the “time of European naïveté” towards China was over as Xi Jinping was hosted with pomp in Rome for a visit that has alarmed both Brussels and Washington. – Financial Times

Editorial: Xinjiang has become a laboratory for Chinese authorities studying how to use digital technology for political control. This human rights catastrophe for a Muslim population has drawn near-silence from Islamic brethren elsewhere. […]China’s public-relations strategy is to cover up the Xinjiang disaster. No amount of press conferences can prettify concentration camps aimed at extermination of a people’s language, culture and traditions. – Washington Post

Joseph Bosco writes: The only thing that will prevent the “looming crisis” Haass foresees is an explicit, public declaration by the United States that it will defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. War with America is the one alternative that Beijing would find even more unpalatable than leaving Taiwan peacefully democratic and independent. Washington should ensure that China understands its choices and the expert community should help explain it to Chinese leaders. – Taiwan Insight


Two United States service members were killed during a joint operation with Afghan forces in northern Afghanistan on Friday, bringing to four the American combat deaths in Afghanistan so far this year, Afghan and American officials said. – New York Times

After the second firefight in the past 10 days between American soldiers and their Afghan allies, at least 14 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed in an airstrike on Saturday in northern Kunduz province, according to Afghan officials. At least four Afghan soldiers were also killed. – New York Times

U.S. air strikes in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz killed about a dozen civilians on Saturday, local officials said, as battle intensified there and in southern Helmand province. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: By cutting off the elected government of Afghanistan, and refusing even to brief their elected leaders on the substance of talks, Khalilzad is handing a victory to the Taliban (a group with which, pre-Sept. 11 attacks, he cooperated with for the sake of business).  […]If peace talks are going to succeed, it is essential to reinforce the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s elected government rather than throw it under the bus. It’s bad enough that Khalilzad acts like a viceroy and Hale appears to care more about Mohib’s rhetoric than the Taliban’s reality. It’s even worse, however, to ignore decades of diplomatic principle for the sake of a quick deal. – Washington Examiner


Cambodia faces a serious blow to its economy as the European Union investigates the government’s deteriorating human rights record and considers revoking a special trading deal with the country. – New York Times

Thousands of people donned headscarves at an open-air prayer service in a show of unity with Muslim victims of New Zealand’s deadliest peacetime massacre, as a cleric declared the nation’s spirit to be unbreakable. – Wall Street Journal

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday a royal commission, a powerful form of public inquiry, into the events leading up to a March 15 attack on two mosques in Christchurch that killed 50 people. – Reuters

Yet for many Muslims, Ardern’s most consequential move was immediately labeling the attack an act of terrorism. That stands in contrast to numerous ideologically-motivated mass shootings in North America by white non-Muslim gunmen that were not labeled acts of terrorism, say Muslim leaders and terrorism experts.  – Associated Press

The annual Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad, held on a rainy March 23, showcased the country’s military arsenal in a big way to allies, while sending clear but distinct messages to India and the United States. The three most celebrated foreign guests were Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad; Azeri Defense Minister Col. General Zakir Hasanov; and the commander of the National Guard of Bahrain, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Isa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa. – Defense News

Michael Mazza writes: The Philippines remains an important ally for the U.S. Access to military facilities there is crucial for a variety of reasons, from combating terrorism in Southeast Asia to ensuring a favorable balance of power in the South China Sea, and from rapidly responding to natural disasters to ensuring an effective American forward defense perimeter. Simply giving up on the alliance should not be an option. – Nikkei Asian Review


The belief, widespread among critics of President Trump, that Russia propelled him to the White House by colluding with his campaign is premised in part on the first view of Mr. Putin’s capacities and reach. The Mueller report, if ever released to the public, may help Americans better understand how Russia does or doesn’t work in reality. But to some of Mr. Putin’s fellow citizens, the Russian president’s grip already looks less firm than often imagined. – New York Times

March 18 marked the fifth anniversary of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. On March 17, in an interview with TV channel Ukraina, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that “Crimea will be returned to Ukraine, without haggling and behind-the-scenes agreements.” Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in his blog appearing in Echo of Moscow that the Crimean people’s choice is irreversible. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Nikos Tsafos writes: Every move that Russia makes to develop energy resources in the Arctic is seen as further proof for an unsettling proposition: unlike the United States, Russia takes a strategic view toward Arctic energy; it spends serious money to develop the region’s resources; and it is using the Arctic to boost ties with China and, more recently, Saudi Arabia. There is truth in that worldview, but it also leaves much out. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Prime Minister Theresa May is facing fresh questions about whether she can stay in office long enough to see Brexit through, as lawmakers enter another critical week of decisions over the U.K.’s departure from the European Union. – Wall Street Journal

Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through London on Saturday afternoon in a last-ditch, long-shot effort to reverse Britain’s looming split from the European Union, calling on lawmakers to heed the enormous anger among pro-Europeans and break the political stalemate by holding a second referendum. – New York Times

This was meant to be the week the UK left the EU, cementing Theresa May’s legacy as the prime minister who “delivered Brexit”. Instead Mrs May’s position — and the fate of her government — appears less secure than ever. – Financial Times

A British MP who recently quit the Labour Party over anti-Semitism warned participants at the annual AIPAC pro-Israel lobby’s policy conference here on Sunday night that her former party had changed beyond recognition in just three years, and that “things can change quickly” for the worse elsewhere too. – Times of Israel

A leading Italian think tank is pressuring the country to enter Britain’s Tempest fighter program as soon as possible and then push for the project to merge with a rival Franco-German effort. The proposal by the IAI think tank in Rome comes as the Italian government deliberates over what air power it will need in the 2030s, around the time when the Tempest could take to the skies. – Defense News

Holocaust-denial leaflets, Swastikas, intimidation of Jewish students. No, this is not the platform of a far-Right activist group, but the reality within some of Britain’s universities. The past few years have seen a rise in the number of violent anti-Israel protests within UK campuses with some requiring police intervention. – Jerusalem Post

Warsaw is likely to refuse Holocaust denier David Irving entry to Poland later this year, the foreign minister said on Friday, citing local legislation that bans denying the genocide. – Reuters

Procedures are afoot to delist the Belgian Aalst Carnival from the UNESCO cultural heritage status it enjoys following the carnival float that was paraded during the festival in the city of Aalst which depicted gross, antisemitic caricatures of ultra-Orthodox Jews. – Jerusalem Post

Sylvie Kauffmann writes: No longer content with the periphery, China is aiming for the heart of Europe with newfound tenacity: When Washington and Brussels expressed their displeasure with his move on Italy, Beijing doubled down. The United States, supposedly Europe’s greatest ally, has its own fight with China — a big fight over trade that has already slowed economic growth in Europe, and over technological dominance. In a normal world, Washington would have enrolled its European allies in its fight. But this is not a normal world. President Trump’s America treats Europe either as a competitor or as a vassal. – New York Times

Barbie Latza Nadeau writes: The divorce from hell, the longest separation ever, trying to live together after breaking up–however one describes the excruciating uncoupling of the United Kingdom and the European Union, one thing is sure: Europeans are starting to get a little bit tired of the whole bloody affair. […]Whatever happens, however it happens, and whenever it may be, Europe will be glad to start talking about something else and start the process of moving on. – The Daily Beast


Burkina Faso was supposed to take an important step Sunday toward democracy. The West African nation was expected to adopt presidential term limits through a long-anticipated national vote, even as Islamist violence gripped the countryside. […]Now a spreading insurgency appears to be threatening that progress. Deaths from terrorism in West Africa spiked in 2015 and continue to pose a stubborn problem for the international community. – Washington Post

Gunmen from an Islamist militant group stormed a government building in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, after a suicide car bombing on Saturday, killing at least five people, including the country’s deputy labor minister, the police said. – Associated Press

Gunmen killed at least 110 Fulani herders in central Mali on Saturday, a local mayor said, in one of the deadliest such attacks in a region reeling from worsening ethnic and jihadist violence. – Reuters

Col. Chris Karns writes: If African countries are to become exporters of security beyond their borders, and not importers, U.S. government educational programs and partnership-building capacity are key.Access to education and basic services are not birthrights, assured as they are in wealthier countries. Where education exists in Africa, a hundred children can be packed in a classroom. There is a strong demand signal for improved education, especially for English language training. – Military Times

United States

Independent writer and researcher David Collier has released a new 270-page report in which he went undercover into a secret Facebook group to expose key Jewish anti-Zionist and antisemitic activists and their relations with people who share materials from Neo-Nazis and white supremacist websites. – Jerusalem Post

A conversation with Elisha Wiesel is like stepping into a Talmudic debate. Quietly spoken and urbane, he gives deep thought before delivering considered answers. […]We live in an age in which we hoped that antisemitism would dissipate, where the world would take a step back and realize that words and actions have consequences, sometimes genocidal ones. But Europe and the United States are grappling with increasing levels of antisemitism, and one feature in particular caught Wiesel’s attention. – Jerusalem Post

Hundreds of protesters rallied outside an event where a congresswoman spoke to a Muslim-American civil rights group. The demonstrators were protesting the presence Saturday of US Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota at the fundraising event for the Council of American-Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles. – Associated Press

Latin America

The State Department is demanding that a dozen U.S. citizens and permanent residents being held in detention in Venezuela be granted access to proper nutrition and medical care, and be afforded fair judicial treatment. – Wall Street Journal

Russian aircraft arrived in Caracas this weekend as part of ongoing military cooperation between the two allies, a Venezuelan official said Sunday. – Associated Press

Days earlier, Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro had severed ties with the neighboring Andean nation where over a million of his compatriots have fled in recent years, recalling all his diplomats and leaving the consulate and embassy buildings closed. The man challenging Maduro’s claim to the presidency had appointed a new ambassador, but he was at a loss about how to help her. Despite Colombia recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president, the ambassador he sent does not have access to the consulate or the ability to issue passport extensions. – Associated Press

President Trump imposed sanctions on a Venezuelan bank in retaliation for strongman Nicolas Maduro’s arrest of two aides to his political opponents, the State Department announced Friday. – Washington Examiner

On March 11, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Russian oil giant Rosneft of defying US sanctions by purchasing oil from the Venezuelan state-owned oil PDVSA, which has been sanctioned since January. Pomepo said: […]the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “The threats coming from the US Secretary of State against the Rosneft company over its cooperation with Venezuela are senseless. It has been hit by sanctions since 2014, but continues successfully working. Meanwhile, its former US partners, whom Washington had forced to curtail cooperation, suffered serious damage.” – Middle East Media Research Institute

Cyber Security

After several cyber breaches in recent years, the secretary of the Navy has commissioned a study to take a comprehensive look at the Department of the Navy’s cybersecurity posture. In the wake of these events, the Navy also stood up task forces to improve its cybersecurity. However, the new study, released publicly March 12, asserts that “despite these initiatives, the progress made to date in changing [Department of the Navy’s] information resilience and cybersecurity culture has been insufficient to bring about meaningful change.” – Fifth Domain

There is immense power in the cloud. It’s a cutesy colloquialism, one that calls to mind spring afternoons or fantastical floating fiefdoms, but it is also one of the great modern misnomers. All data stored in the cloud is really housed in some else’s computer. That’s one reason the Pentagon has been so reluctant to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud. – Federal Times

Cyberattacks on financial institutions are increasingly being linked to nation-states, resulting in destructive and disruptive damages rather than just theft, according to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Out of 94 cases of cyberattacks reported as financial crimes since 2007, the attackers behind 23 of them were believed to be state-sponsored, the majority coming from countries like Iran, Russia, China and North Korea, the report found. – Reuters


NATO will plow funds into stationing U.S. military equipment in Poland, lending allied heft to Washington’s strategy for quickly reinforcing Europe with troops in case of a Russian incursion. – Wall Street Journal

Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force, wants his Marines trained and ready to fight adversaries just as combat capable and technologically adept as they are. […]Advancements in technology and weaponry are helping give Marines in small units a more lethal, capable, combat edge. But the proliferation of technologies also gives potential enemies similar or equal advantage. – USNI News

When it came time for the U.S. Defense Department to make a decision on which fourth-generation fighter to buy for the Air Force, industrial base considerations — and not acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan — helped tip the scale in favor of Boeing’s F-15X, a senior defense official said Friday.  – Defense News

Patrick Shanahan’s expected promotion to permanently head the Defense Department has stalled amid an ethics investigation and a series of unimpressive public performances, according to four people with knowledge of internal White House discussions. – Politico

U.S. lawmakers have drawn battle lines over whether full nuclear modernization is worth the cost, and now they’re gathering ammunition. – Defense News

The Army is about a third of the way toward its goal to acquire an upgraded fleet of nearly 700 tracked, mobile artillery cannons but will nearly double its inventory over the next five years if a recent budget request is approved. More than six years ago, the Army began a program to improve the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled 155 mm artillery cannon, which was fielded in 1994. – Military Times

The Defense Department’s policy aimed at curtailing the number of nondeployable service members, dubbed “deploy or get out,” went into effect summer 2018. Since then nearly 21,000 nondeployable troops have been booted from the military, according to a Military Times report, but only a fraction of those separated troops were Marines. – Military Times

Trump Administration

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III did not find that Donald Trump or his campaign schemed with Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, according to a summary released Sunday that the president immediately embraced as a “total exoneration” even though Mueller reached no conclusion about whether the president obstructed justice. – Washington Post

Democrats look at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that he couldn’t “exonerate” Donald Trump on obstruction of justice charges as vindication for their continued probes of the president. – Bloomberg

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russia in the 2016 election is a serious blow to Democrats who had hoped Mueller’s report would boost their own wide-ranging probes into Trump’s business dealings. – Reuters

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation isn’t the only one coming to an end. Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said Sunday that his inquiry will be concluding as well. “In the coming weeks and months, the Senate Intelligence Committee will complete its remaining interviews and issue its reports on Russia’s attempts to interfere in our U.S. elections,” Burr said. – Bloomberg

The House intelligence committee is considering asking Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify following the submission of his report to the Department of Justice, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) told The Daily Beast on Sunday evening. – The Daily Beast

Moscow would be happy to mend ties with Washington after a report by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Monday. – Reuters