Fdd's overnight brief

March 27, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran’s move to reset diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia was a radical break from years of enmity between the two Middle East rivals, but it hasn’t been enough to prop up its struggling economy. – Wall Street Journal

A burst of deadly violence between U.S. forces and suspected Iranian proxies in Syria has reignited long-smoldering tensions between Washington and Tehran, as President Biden warned Iran on Friday that violent attacks on American troops would be met with retribution. – Washington Post

Strikes on Iranian-linked bases in Syria would draw a quick response, an Iranian security spokesperson said on Saturday, after the reported death of 19 people in one of the deadliest exchanges between the U.S. and Iranian-aligned forces in years.  – Reuters

The Department of Defense’s spokesman said America does not seek conflict with Iran despite the attacks over the last 24 hours. – Washington Examiner

Tehran has condemned U.S. air strikes on Iran-linked forces in Syria that reportedly killed 19 people, which Washington said it carried out following a deadly drone attack on U.S. forces. – Agence France-Presse

Iran’s judiciary has confirmed an 18-year prison sentence for activist Fatemeh Sepehri, an outspoken critic of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after calling on him to resign. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Three Iranian women have been arrested after arguing with another woman who was attempting to enforce rules on wearing a head scarf in the central city of Yazd. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Gen. Michael Kurilla, the commander of U.S Central Command, told lawmakers yesterday that the ongoing domestic protests inside Iran have not significantly destabilized or incapacitated the Iranian regime, despite hopes from some in the international community that the demonstrations could lead to the end of the Islamic republic. – Jewish Insider

Andrew England and Najmeh Bozorgmehr write: Others say the lack of an obvious or credible alternative, as well as the bloodshed and chaos that has engulfed countries such as Iraq and Syria, make many Iranians wary of risking greater instability. “I still believe that the majority of people think that if it’s a choice between the collapse of the Islamic republic and its survival, they prefer its survival,” says Abtahi. “It’s definitely not that they love it, they are scared of an uncertain future.” – Financial Times 

Nicholas Carl, Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, and Johanna Moore write: The US airstrikes on March 23 are insufficient to deter Iran from conducting further attacks against US forces in the region, especially in Syria. The Iranian attacks on March 24 demonstrate that Tehran remains willing to order its proxies to conduct attacks that risk killing Americans in the region. Tehran has furthermore demonstrated that it is willing to risk the assets and personnel that it has brought into Syria to achieve its military aims, despite repeated Israeli airstrikes in recent weeks. This persistence suggests the American and Israeli airstrikes have not yet imposed a high enough cost on the regime. – Institute for the Study of War

Michael Rubin writes: American security is at its worst when its officials believe their own spin. Either Milley misspoke in which case he must urgently clarify his remarks or Biden has given up preventing Iran’s nuclear weapons breakout. Either way, every Arab ally and Israel must conclude they cannot count on the United States. If they wish to prevent the world’s greatest state sponsor of terror from developing a nuclear arsenal, they must act unilaterally and now. – 19FortyFive

Banafsheh Keynoush writes: Iran hopes that it has built a durable agreement that, in time, leads to reconciliation with the Gulf Cooperation Council, promotes regional convergence, and helps reduce or end tensions in conflicts zones in the Middle East. As Iran sees it, if the deal proves successful, the West will have a hard time taking steps to undermine or derail the agreement, even if it wants to; this is not just because it did not play a major role in shaping the deal, but also because it might ultimately weaken U.S. influence over Saudi Arabia. – Middle East Institute

John Allen Gay writes: Of course, we cannot know what the Middle East would look like today if the United States had not gone into Iraq. Yet it’s hard to envision a pathway that would have seen a similar rise in Iranian power. Invading Iraq brought many evils, but our long confrontation with Iran—one that may yet yield war—is one of the most enduring. – The National Interest

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian officials called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. – Wall Street Journal

After months of new weapons deliveries from the West, Ukraine is poised to punch back at Russia’s invasion forces in coming weeks—a high-risk campaign that will set the course of subsequent battles and potential peace negotiations. – Wall Street Journal

The United States and its European allies warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday against what they said was “dangerous” nuclear rhetoric after he announced plans to store tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, a close ally of Moscow that shares a border with northern Ukraine. – Washington Post

When the corpse of a Wagner mercenary fighter arrived in his small Russian village in late February after he was killed fighting in Ukraine, some residents wanted to give him a hero’s burial. Others could not forget that the former prisoner had stabbed his father to death. – New York Times

They rushed to Ukraine by the thousands, many of them Americans who promised to bring military experience, money or supplies to the battleground of a righteous war. Hometown newspapers hailed their commitment, and donors backed them with millions of dollars. Now, after a year of combat, many of these homespun groups of volunteers are fighting with themselves and undermining the war effort. – New York Times

Years of hostilities with Russia and its proxies have forced Ukraine to become skilled in the art of replacing limbs, but with full-scale war in its second year, the need has become too great for Ukraine’s medical workers alone. So since last summer, Protez, a nonprofit, has been taking in Ukrainians who have lost limbs. – New York Times

Her antiwar protest a few months earlier had rattled the Kremlin and earned headlines around the world. In March of 2022, just a few weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had begun, she stormed a live broadcast of Russia’s most-watched TV news program, holding up a sign reading: “They’re lying to you.” She was able to access the program’s live studio because Ms. Ovsyannikova herself had long been a cog in Russia’s propaganda machine. – New York Times

Russia’s men’s team will host their first match on home soil since November 2021 on Sunday, a friendly against Iraq in St Petersburg, having been kicked out of international competition because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters

A Russian security officer who fled the country because he objected to the invasion of Ukraine has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in high-security prison, the Taiga.info news website reported on Friday. – Reuters

Democratic and Republican U.S. senators urged the Biden administration on Friday to share information with the International Criminal Court that could assist as it pursues war crimes charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Reuters

Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday that the use of depleted uranium shells in Ukraine would harm Ukrainian troops, the wider population and negatively affect the country’s agriculture sector for decades or even centuries. – Reuters

A Russian missile slammed into an “invincibility point” set up to offer refuge for Ukrainian civilians, killing at least three women, local officials said on Friday. – Reuters

Moscow may seek compensation over damage from last year’s explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, news agency RIA Novosti reported on Monday, citing a Russian diplomat. – Reuters

Russia plans to complete in early 2024 the construction of its coastal infrastructure in the Pacific Ocean for basing nuclear submarines that will carry the Poseidon nuclear capable super torpedoes, TASS news agency reported on Monday. – Reuters

Russian air defences halted a Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian town on Sunday in which three people were hurt and apartment blocks were damaged, the Russian Defence Ministry said. – Reuters

Russia is turning Ukraine’s Avdiivka into “a place from post-apocalyptic movies”, intensifying shelling and forcing a nearly full shutdown of the frontline city, the top local official said on Sunday. – Reuters

A new campaign is underway this spring across Russia, seeking recruits to replenish its troops for the war in Ukraine. – Associated Press

EU plans to seize Russian assets following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, prioritising state assets of around $350 billion, are unprecedented and tricky, the EU task force head told AFP on Friday. – Agence France-Presse

The United Nations said Friday it was “deeply concerned” by what it said were summary executions of prisoners of war by both Russian and Ukrainian forces on the battlefield. – Agence France-Presse

Ukraine will no longer resort to “dangerous” monetary financing to fund its war against Russia, its central bank governor has said, adding that an “open conflict” with the government over the issue had been resolved. – Financial Times 

A bipartisan group of senators are calling for President Biden to share U.S.-collected evidence of Russian war crimes with the International Criminal Court, pushing back against reported objections by the Department of Defense. – The Hill

The British Defense Ministry said on March 26 that Russia had “likely launched” at least 71 Iranian Shahed kamikaze drones against Ukraine after a two-week letup in late February. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reassured members of Congress that the billions of dollars already approved for Ukraine should last for much of 2023. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Editorial: The continent’s awakening has been too slow, and its collective efforts to provide for its own and Ukraine’s security too sluggish. The E.U.’s funding for artillery shells does respond to an acute immediate need, a need that Europe rightly regards in its own interests given its overreliance on U.S. brawn, and a dawning future in which Washington may shift its strategic gaze toward China. But while Europe sees the threat clearly, the anemia in its long-term planning, capability and strategy remains. That is not tenable. – Washington Post

Douglas London writes: What he likely most fears is the U.S. and its allies slamming the accelerator. Pushing the Russian leader isn’t without risk, but validating his narrative is more likely to weaken Western resolve and escalate the conflict by inviting him to test its thresholds. It’s imperative that Washington instead work to make the war too costly to Mr. Putin to remove any doubt of Western resolve. Be wary of whatever cards he chooses to show. – Wall Street Journal

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: Then the hot war will become a cold one. Ukraine’s hand, I’ve said before, will be an enviable one. Russia’s won’t. Ukraine’s national spirit will be a conspicuous contrast to Russia’s lack of same. Kyiv will benefit from the West’s commitment to build up its military. Sanctions won’t be rolled back anytime soon. China won’t saddle itself unduly to support a failing Russia. The “global south” will get over itself and identify with a former colonial victim that rises up. Russia’s energy leverage won’t be resurrected. Moscow’s pariah status in global society won’t be cured as long as Mr. Putin or a Putin-like regime is in power. – Wall Street Journal

Andreas Kluth writes: Ukraine and the West, meanwhile, must not let Putin spook them into hysteria. The Russian president has become so unpredictable and reckless, so deranged in his view of the world and his own destiny in it, that only steely resolve and calm strength can deter him from making a bad situation immeasurably worse. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Put another way, the Yasen offers yet another example as to why Biden’s fiscal 2024 defense request is ultimately unserious . But this is a bipartisan issue. Consider the insane demands of members of Congress such as House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX), for example, who wants to force the Navy to waste money on made-for-the-PLA coral reefs rather than ships that can actually fight our enemies. We have a problem. – Washington Examiner

Robert Grenier writes: A nation once seen as hopelessly corrupt and tied only tenuously to Western values, Ukraine has become an international symbol of freedom, democracy and principled resistance to aggression. Anyone involved in dealing with Ukraine on behalf of the U.S. cannot be unmoved by that. But politics and geography are real. Neither Ukraine nor we can help that it shares a long border with a large, powerful and paranoid neighbor. Ukraine’s friends and supporters have interests that will eventually overshadow their affections, and their resources are finite. – The Hill

Kristina Hook writes: Russia quite clearly is pursuing a genocidal war against Ukraine, and the ICC arrest warrants should spur the world to action. Western policymakers must provide Ukrainians with increased military capabilities to defend themselves. Political, economic, and military support must increase from the hundreds of countries who have legally obligated themselves through the UN Genocide Convention to prevent and punish the specific crimes that the ICC has now formally accused Russia’s leaders of masterminding. – The Hill

Robert Aronson and Daniel P. Grossman write: But even so, in the absence of internal resistance, Russia retains considerable latitude to pursue a brutal, open-ended war of attrition that has resulted in the loss of thousands of Russian lives, the country’s international isolation, putative commission of international war crimes, and economic retardation. Just as with Grant, Putin is unlikely to seek a negotiated end to the war that involves making a rational assessment of Russia’s costs, human and otherwise. Instead, a negotiated end to the conflict may require a new paradigm suggesting a victorious outcome as articulated by the medieval Chinese military leader and theorist, Sun Tzu: the building of a “golden bridge to retreat.” – The Hill

William Danvers writes: Those in the U.S. who question the administration’s support for Ukraine because it’s not in America’s interest need to look at the facts: That simply is not true. If the U.S. pulls back, it not only helps Putin, who has shown he will do anything to prevail, but also helps Xi by confirming his belief that the U.S. has a feckless foreign policy and failing political system. Putting America first is about understanding that helping Ukraine is unequivocally strengthening American interests and championing American values. – The Hill

Andrew G. Reiter writes: In a New York Times op-ed last May, President Biden said that the atrocities committed by Russia “make the war in Ukraine a profound moral issue.” It is time for him to make the morally right decision and fully cooperate with the ICC to help bring those responsible for those atrocities accountable. Such a move will not only aid Ukraine but also help restore the US’s role as a global leader in international justice and human rights. – The Hill

Peter Harrell writes: The principal lesson of U.S. sanctions on Ukraine is that sanctions are less valuable as a tool of first resort than as a supporting tool of U.S. national security. Washington should be at least as focused on developing and harnessing the other tools as it has been on deploying its tools of economic coercion. – Foreign Affairs

Cynthia Cook writes: The lesson from the war in Ukraine on the importance of allies is clear. It would have been extraordinarily difficult, perhaps impossible, for Ukraine to keep fighting as long or as effectively as it has without a continual inflow of weapons from foreign countries—and without the sanctions that have limited Russia’s own access to global supply chains. In contemporary warfare, a small country can make up for its relatively limited production capacity through firm connections to global suppliers. – Foreign Affairs

Frederick W. Kagan writes: Putin initiated the current war and is the key actor who must decide that he cannot achieve his aims by military power and must instead engage in a negotiated resolution of the conflict if the war is to end in this fashion. The war will protract as long as Putin believes that he can impose his will on Ukraine by fighting or by breaking the Ukrainians’ will to fight following their abandonment by the West. – Institute for the Study of War

Edward Lucas writes: The outside world is rightly preoccupied with Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction. But it should also devote some thought to a Belarus strategy. A defeat for Russia will leave Lukashenka without his only real protector. A dramatic offer of eventual European Union membership, for example, could prompt a split in the regime or its overthrow. After 106 frustrating years, 2024 might provide Belarusians grounds for celebration. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister on Sunday in an attempt to quell dissent against a judicial overhaul plan, spurring tens of thousands of Israelis to pour into the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities across the country in protest. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to halt his bitterly contested judicial overhaul, an official from his Likud party said on Monday, a day after the sacking of his defence chief over the plan sparked mass street protests. – Reuters

Israel’s attorney-general on Friday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of breaking the law by ignoring a conflict of interest over his ongoing trial for corruption and getting directly involved in his government’s judicial overhaul plan. – Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stressed the importance of upholding democratic values when he received Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for talks on Friday, referring to a move to overhaul Israel’s judiciary that has stirred mass protests. – Reuters

Israel’s transport minister on Sunday approved an aviation deal with Nigeria that will allow non-stop flights between the countries to begin next month for the first time, the ministry said. – Reuters

The United States is deeply concerned by events in Israel and “strongly urges” leaders there to find compromise as soon as possible, a White House spokesperson said on Sunday after the firing of Israel’s defense minister triggered mass protests. – Reuters

The draw for the Under-20 FIFA World Cup that was scheduled to take place in Indonesia next week will be postponed, a source told Reuters after Bali’s governor refused to host Israel’s team. – Reuters

Two Israeli soldiers were wounded on Saturday, the military said, in a drive-by shooting claimed by a Palestinian armed group in the flashpoint town of Huwara in the occupied West Bank. – Reuters

Israel’s largest trade union group launched a strike across a broad swath of sectors Monday, joining a surging protest movement against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary — a plan that is facing unprecedented opposition. – Associated Press

The White House on Sunday urged “Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible,” as widespread unrest broke out in Israel after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister for objecting to judicial reforms that Netanyahu is seeking to enact. – Politico

Israel’s consul general in New York announced his resignation on Sunday, citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to fire Israel’s defense minister, who had urged a delay in controversial judiciary reforms. – The Hill

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a series of media appearances on Friday, stepped up his recently announced effort to raise the alarm over dwindling support for Israel within the Democratic Party, as he prepares to launch a pro-Israel group that has fueled speculation he will run for office again. – Jewish Insider

Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday seized the opportunity to hold the Israeli authorities to account for an attack that took place last Sunday at the Church of Gethsemane in eastern Jerusalem that was perpetrated by as yet unnamed Israeli individuals. – Algemeiner 

A terrorist fired at a residential building in the community of Avnei Hefetz in Samaria this morning (Sunday). – Arutz Sheva

Hundreds of people from the various towns of Samaria are protesting tonight (Saturday night) at the entrance to the PA city of Huwara, where the third shooting attack in the past month took place earlier this evening. – Arutz Sheva

A senior defense official said on Sunday that Israel’s enemies view the Jewish state as weak, due to the ongoing controversy over the government’s judicial overhaul. – Times of Israel

Police entered the al-Qibli chapel of al-Aqsa mosque and removed Palestinians who had barricaded themselves inside on Saturday night, after receiving information that some of those barricaded inside planned to conduct riots during planned visits by Jewish visitors on Sunday morning. – Jerusalem Post

There will be no flights leaving Ben-Gurion Airport until further notice as part of widespread strikes announced by the Workers’ Union on Monday morning in protest of the judicial reform. The announcement of grounded flights was made by Israel’s Airport Authority Committee Chairman Pinhas Idan. – Jerusalem Post

The judicial reform’s Judicial Selection Committee bill was approved to be sent to the Knesset for second and third readings in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Monday morning. – Jerusalem Post

Approximately 500 IDF families of fallen soldiers on Sunday called on coalition government officials to stay away from Remembrance Day ceremonies – should the judicial overhaul pass into law. – Jerusalem Post

A top defense official has said that anyone who thinks that the IDF will not be harmed by the government’s judicial overhaul policy becoming law without significantly more negotiating and compromise is living in a different era. – Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a week to respond to a petition that contended the Likud leader is in contempt of court for breaking his conflict of interest agreement by announcing involvement in the judicial reforms, the High Court of Justice ruled on Sunday. – Jerusalem Post

Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter and Likud MK Eli Dallal both said on Sunday that they would support the bill that would alter the makeup of Israel’s Judicial Appointments Committee, despite calling publicly for the coalition to freeze the legislation in order to create broad consensus and despite Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s warning on Saturday night regarding the damage the bill’s passage could cause to Israel’s security. – Jerusalem Post

According to a new poll carried out by a Palestinian research centre, the vast majority of Palestinians support the murder of Israeli brothers Yagel and Hallel Yaniv; and as support for armed struggle has risen, support for a two-state solution has dropped, and for the first time ever more than half want to see the collapse or dissolution of the Palestinian Authority. – The Jewish Chronicle

Editorial: But Netanyahu must understand that no law passed under these circumstances will be seen as legitimate by at least half the country. Ramming through the judicial appointments bill will further poison the political atmosphere and make negotiations on other parts of the package much harder. […]Having postponed some of the reforms, the government has already conceded that there’s no need for haste. For the sake of Israel’s stability and security, it should pause the rest too. – Bloomberg

Aaron Lerner writes: There’s still time for Mr. Netanyahu to simply post this already broadly accepted text as the proposed Israeli Bill of Rights on his website and call on Gantz and Lapid to help him rush this important legislation through the Knesset. – Arutz Sheva

Ron Ben-Yishai writes: Galant spoke for a large and productive sector of Israeli society that serves in the reserves. Any other minister he appoints will find it difficult to unite and lead by rejecting that sector, as the all-important trust between the government and the IDF has been violated. Netanyahu is either ignorant of the repercussions of his actions or indifferent to them and Israeli citizens are already paying the price. – Ynet

Amos Harel writes: If he doesn’t halt the legislation at the last moment, Netanyahu will be lucky if he preserves the main diplomatic success of his previous term, the Abraham Accords, while preventing a downgrading of ties with the UAE and Bahrain. Everything is perfectly normal, of course. What was it that London bobbies used to say in those old English movies? “Nothing to see here, move along.” – Haaretz

David Horowitz writes: The actions of the Netanyahu government these past three months have shown Israelis how vulnerable our democracy is — with no constitution, no entrenched basic rights, a coalition government determined to neuter the only brake on its own excesses, and a prime minister indifferent to the widening anguish, division, and harm he and his allies are causing. – Times of Israel

David Horowitz writes: The question is whether a public warning will finally give the prime minister pause — a public warning, that is, from the minister of defense; a public warning that the imminent radical remake of Israel’s governance is causing divides that constitute “a clear, immediate and tangible threat to the security of the state.” – Times of Israel


A top U.S. military commander says Islamic State groups operating inside Afghanistan could pose a threat to the West within six months, but U.S. intelligence agencies don’t see the danger with the same urgency. – Wall Street Journal

Sofia, 22, is one of a growing stream of Afghan girls and women going online as a last resort to get around the Taliban administration’s restrictions on studying and working. – Reuters

The Taliban government is trying to take charge of more Afghan embassies abroad, a spokesman said Saturday, amid their continued international isolation because of restrictions on women and girls. – Associated Press

At least 20 Afghan women marched in the capital, Kabul, on March 26 to demand the right to education for women and girls before being rounded up by a Taliban patrol. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The Taliban-led Afghan government’s foreign office has claimed a delegation traveled to an Afghan consulate in Khorugh, the capital of Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan region, although no Tajik official sources confirmed any such visit on March 25. Relations are strained between the Taliban leadership in Kabul and Dushanbe, which has been outspoken in its demand that the unrecognized Afghan government boost inclusiveness since it took over after the withdrawal of U.S.-led international troops in August 2021. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Beth Bailey writes: Even as allies and ANDSF personnel face heightened threats, the Taliban receive bi-monthly payments of $40 million dollars for humanitarian aid. This is a big mistake. The U.S. should instead invest in efforts to protect members of the ANDSF, a force they appropriated over $78 billion dollars to sustain. – Washington Examiner


Syria’s foreign ministry on Sunday condemned U.S. strikes on its territory, saying Washington had lied about what was targeted and pledging to “end the American occupation” of its territory. – Reuters

Pro-Iranian forces in Syria said in an online statement late Friday that they have a “long arm” to respond to further U.S. strikes on their positions, after tit-for-tat strikes in Syria over the last 24 hours. – Reuters

Members of the Islamic State group have kidnapped dozens of people in a central province and the bodies of some have been found with their throats slit, an opposition war monitor and pro-government media reported Friday. – Associated Press

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said on Sunday that the U.S. military will not leave Syria after a string of attacks from  Iran-backed militias on American bases in the country last week left one U.S. contractor dead and five service members wounded, saying “we’re not going anywhere.” – The Hill

Editorial: Iran, which wants to run Syria as a protectorate, would love to push the U.S. out of both countries. Its militias would then challenge the Iraqi army for domination in Iraq, and its client government in Damascus would consolidate control and threaten Israel. If President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin believe in the U.S. mission in those countries, their first obligation is to protect America’s soldiers and citizens. That means putting fear in the minds of our enemies that if they attack Americans, they will be met with a withering and deadly response. – Wall Street Journal

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The decision by Iran and the Syrian regime to highlight the attacks shows their growing confidence in confronting the US. Similarly Hezbollah appears to be sending the same message. This message discipline across groups linked to Iran is likely part of a new Iranian push in the region that could involve Syria, Iraq, Lebanon or other areas used to threaten the US and Israel. – Jerusalem Post


Scores of foreign investors are returning to Istanbul and Ankara after years in the cold for a flurry of meetings to understand whether Turkish elections could bring a tidal change for its economy and financial markets. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for an “immediate” end to the war in Ukraine during a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. – The Hill

As war continues to rage in Ukraine and Turkey appears less and less attached to the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, a high-profile industry official reportedly claimed recently that Ankara didn’t “need” the system anyway because it’ll soon be overshadowed by locally produced tech. – Breaking Defense 

Joshua Levkowitz writes: However, Syrians can help share the burden in rebuilding Turkey if they are offered some semblance of stability in the country. After 12 years under temporary protection, Syrians should finally be made eligible to apply for medium- to long-term residency in Turkey to encourage their socioeconomic integration. This process should start with Syrian children born in Turkey who are de facto stateless. If not, then vulnerable children—Luna, Violetta, and many others—will only fall deeper between the cracks. – Foreign Policy


Iraq’s oil output and capacity may peak following growth of around 25% over the next five years, analysts said, falling short of 2027 targets and ending a long-standing ambition to rival the output of top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia. – Reuters

Iraq halted crude exports from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region and northern Kirkuk fields on Saturday, an oil official told Reuters, after the country won a longstanding arbitration case against Turkey. – Reuters

This is the latest in a series of attacks witnessed over the last month in the central Iraqi province of Diyala, located north and east of Baghdad. Security officials say at least 19 civilians have been killed by unidentified assailants, including in two targeted attacks. – Associated Press

Iraq is struggling to control a crippling currency crisis that has roiled the country for months, underlining the fragility of its oil-dependent economy 20 years on from the US-led invasion. – Financial Times

In the coming weeks, both chambers of Congress are expected to debate and vote on a bill repealing the authority that Congress gave President George W. Bush to use force against Iraq. – NPR

John Schindler writes: We’ve gotten better since 2003. Although the Kremlin’s internal debates on invading Ukraine seem to have been as delusional as Saddam’s, including the badly mistaken belief that Kyiv would fall to Russian troops in a few days with the rest of Ukraine not far behind, American spies got the big picture right. Progress comes, even if slowly. – Washington Examiner

Michael Knights writes: At the political level, this promising moment has only become possible because international actors—led by the United States—strongly urged the KRI’s top parties to show greater flexibility on domestic Kurdish issues and greater unity in their dealings with Baghdad. This push needs to be maintained at its current intensity until a hydrocarbons law is ratified; letting up now could quickly lead to renewed Kurdish quarreling that unravels a potentially historic deal. – Washington Institute

Michael Rubin writes: If Biden wants to improve opportunities for girls and women in Iraq, it is time to think outside the box. Bringing the NBA and WNBA to Baghdad for clinics or demonstration games could be a slam dunk. – 19FortyFive


The Lebanese government’s last-minute decision to delay the start of daylight saving time by a month until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan resulted in mass confusion Sunday. – Associated Press

Two soldiers and an off-duty non-commissioned officer were lightly hurt in a violent brawl on the border with Lebanon on Friday, the Israel Defense Forces said. – Times of Israel

Fadi Nicholas Nassar and Saleh El Machnouk write: Coalescing international support for a president and government that can break the tenuous grip of the mafia-militia and widen the space for local actors to recapture the state and reform their political economy is the only way forward. It is either the Lebanese or the mafia-militia that will survive. The question is to whom will the quintet throw a lifeline? This is a decision the Biden administration can no longer afford to overlook or outsource. – Middle East Institute

Alexander Langlois writes: However, international support does not appear to be on the horizon this time around. World leaders are fed up with Lebanon’s ruling class for its refusal to change and reform. Rather than read the tea leaves, Lebanese elites will opt to not allow investigations to challenge the status quo. The Beirut Blast investigation is a case in point given the political interventions surrounding it, presenting a scenario in which it is difficult to see other investigations succeeding, especially without stronger international pressure. In this light, keep an eye on scapegoats (i.e., Salameh) who could be sacrificed to the people in exchange for window-dressing reforms. – The National Interest


The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen said they were imposing severe restrictions starting Saturday on U.N. and other humanitarian flights arriving in the capital, Sanaa. – Associated Press

Rare protests have erupted against Yemen’s Houthi rebels following the funeral of a popular critic found dead after he was detained by the group. – Associated Press

Eight years after Saudi Arabia launched an unprecedented intervention in Yemen, officials loyal to each of the three major factions of the country’s ongoing civil war have told Newsweek that they welcome the China-brokered deal to reestablish relations between the neighboring kingdom and its top rival Iran. – Newsweek

A super tanker anchored off the coast of Yemen and containing more than a million barrels of oil is “likely to sink or explode at any moment”, unleashing an environmental and humanitarian disaster, a United Nations official has told Sky News. – Sky News

The devastating legacy of landmines, booby-trap bombs and shelling inside Yemen is already affecting a generation of children. – Sky News

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, have agreed to meet during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Saudi state news agency SPA said on Monday, under a deal to restore ties. – Reuters

Saudi Aramco (2222.SE) signed an agreement with Chinese partners on Sunday for an oil refinery and petrochemical project in northeast China that is expected to start in 2026 to meet the country’s growing demand for fuel and chemicals. – Reuters

A bipartisan pair of senators is trying to force President Joe Biden’s administration to reevaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia with new legislation targeting the human rights record of the oil-rich Middle Eastern ally. – Washington Examiner

Gulf States

The United Arab Emirates has pardoned and released an Israeli woman who was jailed for drug trafficking last year and had initially faced execution, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said on Saturday. – Reuters

Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Sunday signed a free trade pact into effect, reducing or removing tariffs on about 96% of goods traded between the nations, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said. – Reuters

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said on Sunday it had written to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemning comments from Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in which he denied the existence of a Palestinian people, AFP reported. – Arutz Sheva


Halliburton and Honeywell International Inc. are hammering out $1.4 billion worth of deals to develop an oil field and refinery with National Oil Corporation in Libya, which has the largest known oil reserves in Africa, according to the chairman of state-owned firm, Farhat Bengdara. Italy’s Eni is planning investments aimed at replacing nearly half of the gas it was importing from Russia with gas from Algeria. – Wall Street Journal

Most of the roughly 2.5 tons of natural uranium ore concentrate (UOC) recently declared missing from a site in Libya have been found at that site, the U.N. nuclear watchdog told member states on Friday in a statement seen by Reuters. – Reuters

If Libya’s legislative bodies are unable to agree on electoral laws in a timely manner “we will look at what alternative we will find”, the U.N. Libya envoy said on Friday, indicating he would not accept moves to derail a march to elections. – Reuters

The head of Libya’s state oil company said he had the backing of both the government in Tripoli and the renegade general Khalifa Haftar who controls the east of the country, as he outlined plans to attract investment and boost production. – Financial Times

Middle East & North Africa

Europe risks seeing a huge wave of migrants arriving on its shores from North Africa if financial stability in Tunisia is not safeguarded, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Friday. – Reuters

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry accused “Jewish terrorist elements” of an arson attack against a family home in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, but Israeli police said the fire appeared to have been an accident. – Reuters

Algeria’s ambassador to France, recalled home in February, will be returning to his post in the coming days, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Friday in a sign that the latest diplomatic spat between the two countries has been resolved. – Associated Press

Dov S. Zakheim writes: The inability of American diplomats to speak Arabic, the region’s lingua franca, reinforces the impression that, despite Biden administration pronouncements to the contrary, the Middle East simply is no longer that important to Washington policymakers. That is a dangerous signal for Washington to transmit at a time when Moscow is in no mood to relinquish its Middle Eastern role and China continues to expand its political activity in this dynamic yet still very troubled region. – The Hill

Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles Monday, a day before a U.S. aircraft carrier is set to arrive in South Korea for military exercises. – Wall Street Journal

Flowers declaring freedom and honoring an American victim of Kim Jong Un’s barbaric regime were placed by activists in front of the building that houses the North Korean mission to the United Nations, as a reminder of the horrors of Kim’s regime and his continued violations of human rights. – Fox News 

Hundreds of thousands of North Korean women have been forced into marriages, sold into sex slavery, or sent to work in detention camps after escaping their despotic country and finding themselves trapped in China’s so-called “Red Zone,” a human rights group says. – Fox News


The U.S. moved this month to cut off a Chinese conglomerate’s access to Western technology, but the firm can still secure those goods through a technicality that some former senior officials say is a major loophole in the U.S. export-control regime. – Wall Street Journal

China has persuaded Honduras to abandon formal ties with Taiwan and establish them with Beijing, a blow to Taipei’s international standing days before the Taiwanese president embarks on a Central American tour that will take her through the United States. – New York Times

China on Friday denied pressuring companies to collect information abroad on behalf of the government, rebuffing claims that American lawmakers made about the viral video app TikTok, which is at the center of an escalating dispute between Washington and Beijing over politics, technology and economics. – New York Times

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday that China has not provided significant weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine. – Reuters

China’s defence ministry said on Friday that it yet again had to monitor and drive away the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Milius that entered its territorial waters in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands. – Reuters

Two Canadian men whom China had detained for more than 1,000 days and were at the center of a dispute between Washington and Beijing attended President Joe Biden’s speech to parliament in Ottawa on Friday, and received applause and a standing ovation. – Reuters

Chinese-American citizen Kai Li, jailed in China on spying charges he denies, received a rare in-person visit last week from the U.S. Ambassador to Beijing and urged the U.S. government to continue to work for his release, Li’s son said on Friday. – Reuters

In mid-2020 Beijing imposed a National Security Law (NSL) to stamp out dissent in the southern Chinese city, which had been rocked by pro-democracy unrest. […]Sunday’s march was against a land reclamation plan in the city’s east. As the first officially authorised protest against a government plan since the coronavirus measures were lifted, it offered an indication of the measure of dissent still allowed in the city. – Agence France-Presse

US officials now expect that a phone call between President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping won’t happen as soon as they had hoped, as ties between the world’s two biggest economies continue to fray, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Russia has adopted the renminbi as one of the main currencies for its international reserves, overseas trade and even some personal banking services as it pivots towards China in the face of western sanctions. – Financial Times

The Chinese president’s trip to Moscow this month has made the world safer, reducing the chance that Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons, according to the EU’s foreign policy chief. – Financial Times

It has been said that one cannot use an old map to explore a new world. Yet, if one is Communist China, one might be able to edit it to create a new world. Beijing’s recently revised mapping standards seem to suggest it is attempting just that. – New York Sun

Editorial: China’s economic and trade relations with Europe are far more crucial than with Russia, and Mr. Xi should be reminded of this whenever he meets visiting European officials, starting with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who will assume the European Union Council’s rotating presidency this year, and French President Emmanuel Macron, scheduled to visit China next month. The Europeans need to send a clear and unequivocal message that China needs to use its leverage with Mr. Putin to end the conflict, not to bolster Russia’s economy. – Washington Post

Donald Kirk writes: Under the circumstances, Mr. Xi’s proposal for peace is a device for keeping Moscow firmly on his side while he faces the line that Washington has drawn from Korea to Taiwan and the South China Sea.[…]In the great bargaining game, Ukraine is a chip that Mr. Xi is playing for all he can extract from Moscow against Washington. – New York Sun

James Kynge writes: The pressures motivating such decisions are unlikely to abate. In a long essay published in February on Aisixiang, the respected Chinese academic Zheng Yongnian predicted that confrontation between the PRC and the US will continue “for a long time”. “We need to be a responsible major power”, he argued, “centering on the goal of reshaping the world order.” – Financial Times

Marc L. Busch writes: The court also conceded USTR’s point that the agency lacked “much discretion to deviate from the President’s direction.” This should be a wake-up call for Congress. Section 301 has been brought out of retirement in recent years, following on the heels of an adverse ruling at the World Trade Organization in 1999. There have been five Section 301 investigations since 2017, including one on Boeing-Airbus and another on digital trade. Unless this statute is reformed, the president will use Section 301 to get around congressional oversight in waging trade wars of their choosing. – The Hill

Peter Rough writes: Yet China will not disabuse the West of its illusions. Nor will it pressure Moscow into peremptorily ceasing combat operations: Russia is China’s most important partner on the world stage, and as Beijing challenges the United States, it will want to demonstrate it stands by its friends. If it wishes to maintain its hegemon status, Washington must confront China’s efforts to encroach on its traditional spheres of influence before the alternative system Beijing seeks to construct becomes entrenched. – New York Post

South Asia

India’s Parliament disqualified opposition leader Rahul Gandhi as a lawmaker on Friday after a lower court convicted and sentenced him to two years in prison in a defamation case linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surname. – Wall Street Journal

India summoned Canada’s High Commissioner on Sunday to “convey strong concern” over Sikh protesters in Canada and how they were allowed to breach the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates. – Reuters

Indian police have opened an investigation into a protest this week at its High Commission in London, Reuters partner ANI reported on Friday, pursuing action on an incident that has sparked tension in relations with Britain. – Reuters

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan led a rally in the eastern city of Lahore in the early hours of Sunday, setting out his ideas to revive the country’s spiraling economy and accusing the government of lacking a rescue plan. – Associated Press

Government leaders across the world have often balked at implementing reforms agreed with the International Monetary Fund for fear of being penalized at the ballot box. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina isn’t one of them. – Bloomberg

Naad-e-Ali Sulehria writes: Pakistan is dealing with a political domino effect: if one high-profile figure falls, all the others will follow. Under such circumstances, it is impossible to underestimate the terrible effects that civil war would have on each political actor’s ability to survive. Though negotiations are seen as the only treatment for Pakistan’s growing political disorder, it is true that sometimes the treatment causes more harm than the cure. In this race against time, it does not matter what Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Khan hope to accomplish if the negotiations ever take place; what counts is the result they will obtain, which is currently too early to foresee. – Middle East Institute


The Kinmen politicians’ “demilitarized zone” proposal last month was met with a mixture of silence, dismissal and suspicion by Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party, which is wary of Chinese influence operations in the outlying islands. – Washington Post

Taiwan on Sunday announced it was cutting ties with Honduras, one of the island’s only remaining official diplomatic partners. – Washington Post

The tiny island of Tinian was the launch point for American planes carrying atomic bombs to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Now a new runway is being carved from the jungle, just south of World War II ruins inked with mildew. – New York Times

New Zealand intelligence agencies are growing more concerned about both foreign interference and malicious cyber activity ahead of elections in October, the country’s intelligence chiefs said on Monday. – Reuters

Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou left for China on Monday on a landmark trip, saying he hoped to bring about peace and improve relations through the interactions of young people. – Reuters

Taiwan is part of a democratic alliance and can work with many friendly countries, Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said after welcoming a large Czech delegation to the island on Monday, one day after Honduras switched diplomatic allegiance to China. – Reuters

There are no signs of any unusual military deployments by China’s military ahead of President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States and Central America this week, a deputy Taiwanese defence minister said on Monday. – Reuters

China regards New Zealand as a key partner and has confidence in stable bilateral ties, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi said on Friday, just as the South Pacific nation showed signs of taking a harder stance on China’s presence in the region. – Reuters

The United States on Friday announced further sanctions against Myanmar, targeting the supply of jet fuel to Myanmar’s military following air strikes in civilian populated areas, the U.S. Treasury Department said. – Reuters

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said on Saturday she had expressed concerns over the South China Sea and tensions in the Taiwan Strait during talks with her Chinese counterpart at the end of a visit to Beijing. – Reuters

Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping’s vaunted trip to Russia represents “a very dangerous sign” for Taiwan and other democracies, according to a top Taiwanese envoy. – Washington Examiner

Russia on Saturday accused Azerbaijan of violating the Moscow-brokered ceasefire that ended the 2020 war with Armenia, by letting its troops cross over the demarcation line. – Agence France-Presse

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida received a much-sought rise in his support rate after a trip to Ukraine met with broad approval from the public ahead of a series of local and special elections. – Bloomberg

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sounded the alarm over worsening relations between the US and China, particularly as China’s political and economic clout in the world grows. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: It should worry Washington that Azerbaijani media reprinted Blinken’s statements in the same way that the Soviet press once delighted in the reporting of Pulitzer winner and Stalin propagandist Walter Duranty. Blinken is wrong to believe defying law advances diplomacy. If the State Department wants to resolve conflict in the Caucasus diplomatically, it is time to end Azerbaijan’s arms pipeline. – American Enterprise Institute


The French government Friday postponed a visit by Britain’s King Charles III, after sweeping strikes in France threatened to derail a protocol-heavy event aimed at solidifying Anglo-French ties that had been strained by Brexit. – Wall Street Journal

Police in France have responded to a wave of recent protests with heavy-handed and sometimes brutal tactics, according to local and international rights groups, prompting calls for an independent investigation into allegations of police brutality as the country grapples with its worst unrest in years. – Washington Post

Air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark said on Friday they have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defence aimed at countering the rising threat from Russia. – Reuters

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday he would push for fair peace in the war in Ukraine that included “territorial integrity” during a state visit to China next week. – Reuters

Supporters of Serbian right-wing opposition parties on Friday demanded that populist President Aleksandar Vucic and his government resign over a Western-backed plan for normalizing relations with neighboring Kosovo. – Associated Press

Italy’s drive to wean itself off Russian gas and replace it with north-African imports has put the government of Giorgia Meloni on a collision course with its international climate agreements. – Financial Times

Poland’s prime minister has downplayed fears that the Republican party will water down US support for Ukraine, saying sceptical voices were part of a political “poker game” in the lead-up to the 2024 elections. – Financial Times

Macron suggested that von der Leyen joining him on the trip to Beijing will enable the EU to speak “with a unified voice.” The European Commission confirmed that the head of the organization will join Macron. – Agence France-Presse

The UK and European Union on Friday formally adopted a post-Brexit deal to overhaul Northern Irish trade rules, prompting Brussels’ pointman on the thorny issue to proclaim “the opening of a new chapter” in ties. – Agence France-Presse

Germany’s Christian Democrats, the country’s largest opposition group, are planning to shift away from the pragmatic stance toward China that characterized Angela Merkel’s 16 years as chancellor, claiming that maintaining peace through trade has failed. – Politico

Hungary is slated to vote on the ratification of Finland’s application to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, putting Helsinki one step closer to joining the alliance. – Bloomberg

Estonia has declared a staff member of Russia’s Embassy in Tallinn persona non grata for “directly and actively undermining Estonia’s security and constitutional order, spreading propaganda that justifies Russia’s military action and causing divisions in Estonian society,” the Baltic country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on March 24. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The U.S. Treasury Department on March 24 issued new Belarus-related sanctions against nine individuals and three entities in response to an ongoing crackdown on the country’s pro-democracy movement and civil society. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Henry Olsen writes: Western elites have assumed that with prudence, they could ride out this populist storm. Instead, it is becoming increasingly clear that the West is experiencing a populist age akin to the social democratic era that defined the 20th century. Adapting will take much more than patience; it will require real, fundamental change. – Washington Post

Cole Stangler writes: Demonstrators are responding to a government that has repeatedly ignored public opinion, pleas from moderate labor unions and large conventional street protests. And as the French know from their own history, from 1789 and 1968 to the Yellow Vests, direct action with a popular mandate often gets results — even if it’s loud and unruly. – New York Times

Sean Bray writes: The U.S. and the EU should be working together on goals like combatting unfair Chinese trade competition while reclaiming trade enforcement power back from the WTO. In fact, President Biden would likely find bipartisan allies in Congress on both fronts. If he truly wants to get something done, maybe the president should ask. – The Hill


Rwanda’s justice minister on Friday commuted the 25-year prison sentence of Paul Rusesabagina, who inspired the movie “Hotel Rwanda” about the 1994 genocide and later used his Hollywood fame to criticize President Paul Kagame. – Wall Street Journal

Vice President Kamala Harri‌s ‌has begun a weeklong tour of Ghana and two other African nations as the Biden administration hopes to set a new path for U.S.-Africa ties that focuses on collaboration rather than crises, a trip seen as a significant step toward revitaliz‌‌ing a relationship with Africa that was widely thought to be lagging in recent years. – New York Times

Sudan’s military and civilian political leaders began talks on Sunday on a proposal to bring the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) under the army’s control as they try to finalise an agreement for a new transition leading to elections. – Reuters

Two days of tribal violence in western Sudan’s long-troubled Darfur region killed at least 5 people, tribal leaders and a rights group said Friday. – Associated Press

From Zimbabwe, where many must work at night because it’s the only time there is power, to Nigeria where collapses of the grid are frequent, the reliable supply of electricity remains elusive across Africa. – Associated Press 

Kenya’s police chief announced a ban on fresh opposition demonstrations called for Monday, after protests last week degenerated into riots. – Agence France-Presse

South Africa’s government is taking legal advice on how to handle an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin in the event the Russian leader attends a BRICS summit in August. – Bloomberg

Michael Rubin writes: The State Department may make the same mistake multiple times, and the Pentagon may refuse to recognize its program encourages terrorism rather than counters it. Congress, however, should not be so naive. It is time to cut Somalia off. U.S. money is making Somalia worse. Mohamud and the Danab have been caught red-handed. Enough is enough. – Washington Examiner

Latin America

For weeks, Brazil has enjoyed a relative calm. Following the most divisive election in its history, which culminated in thousands of rioters seizing and vandalizing the capital’s most important federal buildings, the country has celebrated weeks of Carnival revelry and quiet news cycles. – Washington Post

Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro said on Sunday that the Chinese government would decide on a new date for Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s visit to the country, adding that the signing of agreements between Beijing and Brasilia has been postponed. – Reuters

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro canceled his attendance at the Ibero-American summit after receiving a positive COVID-19 test result, though he has since tested negative twice, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Saturday. – Reuters

A man accused of leading a prominent drug-running ring has been killed by authorities in northeastern Venezuela, the country’s interior minister said on Friday. – Reuters

Venezuela’s need for dollars to shore up its exchange rate and enable government largesse ahead of 2024 elections is among the motives for a crackdown on alleged corruption at state oil company PDVSA, four sources with knowledge of the matter said. – Reuters

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will return to Brazil on March 30, his party confirmed via social media on Friday, following more than three months of self-imposed exile in the United States after losing his re-election bid. – Reuters

Brazil will seek Chinese technology and investment to develop a semiconductor industry in the South American country despite U.S. attempts to discourage association with China in this area, a senior presidential adviser told Reuters. – Reuters

An expanding anti-corruption probe in Venezuela has led to the detention of 10 officials and 11 businessmen, the country’s attorney general said on Saturday, adding that arrest warrants for 11 more people have been issued. – Reuters

Leaders attending the Ibero-American Summit meeting in the Dominican Republic on Saturday discussed the need to address Haiti’s deepening humanitarian crisis while vowing to cooperate on environmental issues. – Reuters

North America

President Biden, making his first trip as president to Canada, said a robust U.S. industrial policy based on producing clean technology, electric vehicles and semiconductors would benefit workers on both sides of the northern border as he joined with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. – Wall Street Journal

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said Saturday the government is aware of reports of two U.S. citizens missing in Haiti, after media outlets said a Florida couple had been kidnapped. – Reuters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that he was happy his recent ban on the use of Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from government-issued devices meant his children could no longer access the platform. – Reuters

A dual Haitian-Chilean citizen pleaded guilty in a U.S. court on Friday to three charges involving his role in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, gunned down in his home in 2021. – Reuters

President Biden on Friday trumpeted the importance of the United States’s relationship with Canada, arguing that no two countries in the world have closer ties as the two countries seek to move past the tumultuous four years of the Trump administration. – The Hill

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: Green energy has advanced but it’s still an intermittent supply. To make it work requires more private capital in things like battery technology and creative thinking about how to structure future cost-sharing contracts with reliable producers. But AMLO’s attempt to nullify the ground rules under which private green capital has entered Mexico only drives new investment and innovation away. Note to Mr. Kerry. – Wall Street Journal

United States

Donald Trump has survived impeachments, investigations and congressional inquiries. Now, as criminal probes advance on several fronts, the former president is employing his familiar scattershot tactics to meet the start of a potentially more precarious legal chapter. – Wall Street Journal

A bipartisan group of senators on Friday asked President Biden to direct the U.S. government to share evidence about Russian war crimes in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court in The Hague, despite the Pentagon’s resistance to such a move. – New York Times

President Trump has been playing the national press like a violin, forcing national Republicans and reporters to respond to him, and those who have been paying close attention saw it coming from a mile away. – New York Sun

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said former President Trump’s rhetoric regarding his possible indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is “more overt and blatant” than his language leading up to Jan. 6. – The Hill

A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege and has ordered Mark Meadows and other former top aides to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the election leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News. – ABC News

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) said on Sunday that rhetoric surrounding the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, is “absolutely out of control on both sides.” – Washington Examiner

As Donald Trump greeted supporters during his first campaign rally of the 2024 cycle on Saturday, the former president made a hefty campaign promise: to singlehandedly prevent the United States from entering World War III. – Washington Examiner

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina roundly dismissed potential charges from the Manhattan district attorney’s office, saying there was “not even a bad act.” – Washington Examiner

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) indicated that he was not satisfied with the intelligence community’s briefing about classified documents found in the residences of former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. – Washington Examiner

Dinah Pokempner writes: Reform of the Espionage Act is no politician’s ideal cause — it sounds like going soft on spies — but it could be reframed as strengthening and restoring the Act to its original purpose: safeguarding genuine security secrets, while protecting the First Amendment. And above all, keeping this law from being used as a weapon in partisan politics. – The Hill

Jon Temin writes: The fact that expectations are so modest for the coming democracy summit gives Biden an opportunity to greatly exceed them. But doing so will require his administration to develop not just a global strategy for democracy but also country-level plans to which it can be held accountable. Washington cannot advance the cause of democracy simply by bolstering those who champion it, as the first two years of the Biden administration have shown. The United States must also confront the authoritarians responsible for democratic decline. – Foreign Affairs


U.S. adversaries have become more capable of carrying out sophisticated cyberattacks, but the Ukraine war shows how difficult it is to conduct large-scale operations against critical infrastructure, said National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone. – Wall Street Journal

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appeared before Congress this week to try to reassure lawmakers that Americans’ data wasn’t being transferred to the Chinese government and that the company took security and privacy seriously. His appearance didn’t seem to mollify the growing number of national-security officials and lawmakers in both parties who see the app as a danger. – Wall Street Journal

China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. for targeting TikTok and said Beijing would never require companies to illegally gather data and intelligence from overseas, escalating the debate over the popular app a day after its chief executive was pummeled in Congress. – Wall Street Journal

Parts of Twitter’s source code, the underlying computer code on which the social network runs, were leaked online, according to a legal filing, a rare and major exposure of intellectual property as the company struggles to reduce technical issues and reverse its business fortunes under Elon Musk. – New York Times

Australian consumer finance firm Latitude Group Holdings Ltd (LFS.AX) said hackers stole nearly 8 million Australian and New Zealand drivers licence numbers in one of the country’s biggest confirmed data breaches, sending its shares lower. – Reuters

France announced Friday it is banning the “recreational” use of TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and other apps on government employees’ phones because of concern about insufficient data security measures. – Associated Press 

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) on Sunday argued that a national TikTok ban would be like putting “a Band-Aid on maybe a small scab,” saying that lawmakers needed to focus on a broader data security bill. – The Hill

Twitter plans to wind down its legacy verification system starting next week as it promotes its subscription-based system. – The Hill

The FBI has dismantled a cybercrime forum that boasted having data connected to security breaches affecting U.S. lawmakers and millions of citizens. – The Hill

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) created her own TikTok account in an effort to speak out against the bipartisan effort to ban the social media platform in the United States. – Washington Examiner

Another former Joe Biden staffer revealed he has joined TikTok’s growing lobbying army — the same day that the Chinese company’s CEO testified before Congress this week amid growing efforts to ban the app. – Washington Examiner

On March 16, 2022, about a month after the FBI took down a popular online forum for buying and selling stolen data known as RaidForums, another criminal marketplace quickly sprung up to take its place. The title of first post on the new forum known as BreachForums simply said “Welcome.” – CyberScoop

Jameel Jaffar writes: Perhaps there are contexts in which a ban on a social media platform could be reconciled with democratic values. It’s conceivable that the U.S. government will eventually be able to establish the necessity of a ban on TikTok, even if it hasn’t done so yet. But the First Amendment would require the government to carry a heavy burden of justification. This is an important feature of our system and not a bug. – New York Times

Veronique de Rugy writes: A ban on the sale of Chinese-made products in military exchanges and commissaries, such as the one approved in June 2022 by the House Armed Services Committee, would be devastating to military families who heavily rely on exchanges. This “feel-good” policy would leave the shelves of U.S.our military commissaries empty or stocked with pricier goods. These are only a handful of the overlooked costs of country-of-origin bans. While they make for great sound bites, we should be highly skeptical of them, even when the argument is made in the name of national security. – New York Sun

Stephen L. Miller writes: But for some in the media, it seems, there’s just too much money to be made via TikTok. Too many eyeballs are glued to the app that media outlets are desperate to reach. That is why we see this tolerance for Communist Party influence: It’s motivated by self-interest. The problem for Bowman and those dwindling numbers of Democrats still defending TikTok? They are endangering the national interest. Of all people, however, journalists should be most skeptical of TikTok’s social engineering. – Washington Examiner

Kaylee McGhee White writes: There’s nothing complex about it. TikTok is a weapon of the Chinese Communist Party. It is being used to spy on American citizens and flood young minds with pro-Chinese propaganda. Chew’s non-answers confirmed as much on Thursday. Congress must take action — the sooner, the better. – Washington Examiner

Sheryll Cashin writes: The truth is complicated and suppressed by cynics and ideologues whose views can be amplified by search engines and their algorithms. Artificial intelligence, I fear, will accelerate its burial. New generations, more diverse and open to difference than their parents and grandparents, should not be deprived of the skills and materials they need to discover rich narratives of the American story — including unsung heroes to believe in. – Politico

Carolyn Kissane and Shahid Mahdi write: The Biden administration has a unique opportunity to confront the cybersecurity dilemma. The strategy is firmly a step in the right direction. Should it be successful, it will posit the U.S. as the world’s authority on effective cyber posture — and may well define Biden’s legacy. – The Hill

Joel Thayer writes: In the communications network context, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s ban on China Mobile over national security concerns, a decision that did not raise First Amendment concerns. In short, forcing a ByteDance divesture may be the best way to quell concerns over TikTok without violating the Constitution. – The Hill

Scott Jensen writes: Massive amounts of data are what enable machine learning to do such impressive things. And there’s no shortage of data that only governments have access to that can be used to improve lives — all it takes is the hard work needed to approach technology differently. – The Hill

Venkatesh Narayanamurti and Steven C. Currall write: Big Tech needs rules of the road and should comply. Regulators must protect consumers. But regulators should avoid reactions to the Big Tech conundrum that cripple the innovation engines of America’s Big Tech companies. Regulatory actions that undermine America’s innovation capacity could inflict collateral damage to our nation’s commitment to remaining a global technology leader. When regulating Big Tech, use a scalpel, not an ax. – The Hill


The Pentagon is seeking to enlist Silicon Valley startups in its effort to fund and develop new weapons technology and more-nimble suppliers, as the U.S. races to keep pace with China’s military advances. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Space Force sent Congress a mostly classified fiscal 2024 wish list that includes $434 million for six unnamed programs. – Defense News

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is asking Congress for a $3.5 billion plus-up over the president’s budget request as it seeks to bolster its presence in the region to deter China. – Defense News

The U.S. Air Force has revealed it conducted a test launch of its hypersonic AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, earlier this month, but it remains unclear whether the event was a success. – Defense News

The U.S. Air Force wants to speed up its procurement of Boeing E-7A battlefield management and command-and-control aircraft, as part of the service’s so-called wish list for the fiscal 2024 budget. – Military Times

Patrick H. Brady and Mike Waltz write: Military leaders should reverse course and abandon their hyperfocus on race. Instead, they should embrace colorblindness—the cultural imperative that has helped make our forces indomitable. – Wall Street Journal

James Rogan writes: The President must work with Congress to increase funding for the submarine industrial base. Equally important, the President needs to institute a crash training program to increase the supply of skilled labor necessary to build billion-dollar submarines. – Washington Examiner

Erich J. Prince writes: Not long ago, widespread participation in the military was the norm, with the concept of “the other 1 percent” being quite foreign and anything resembling above-the-fray-ism socially untenable. And, coincidentally or otherwise, as the aforementioned Gallup findings show clearly, that was also an era of many more Americans answering in the affirmative when queried as to if they were “extremely proud to be American.” – The Hill

Long War

The clash between Bawku’s main ethnic groups is a hyper-local conflict with potentially global implications. Both Ghanaian and U.S. officials fear that al Qaeda militants, who have attacked villages in Burkina Faso just a few miles away, could take advantage of the tensions to establish a beachhead in Ghana, a regional powerhouse and American ally known for its relative stability and prosperity. – Wall Street Journal

A new armed group has been established in the city of Salfit in the northern West Bank, where a number of similar militias have been operating over the past year. – Jerusalem Post

Niger’s defence ministry said Friday its troops killed 79 “terrorists” in operations last week that involved a foray into neighbouring Mali. – Agence France-Presse

The horrors they endured under the Islamic State group may be in the past for the people of Iraq, but the traumatic memories remain. Now a research project is recording their witness testimonies for posterity. – Agence France-Presse

The family of a South African held hostage by jihadists in Mali for over five years launched a fresh appeal for his release Saturday, just days after a French journalist was freed. – Agence France-Presse