Fdd's overnight brief

March 29, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The deputy foreign ministers of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Russia will meet in April in Moscow, Turkish and Iranian officials said on Tuesday, building on contacts between Ankara and Damascus after years of hostilities during the Syrian war. – Reuters 

Egypt will soon allow Iranians travelling with tour groups to obtain visas on arrival in the south of its Sinai peninsula with a view to extending access to other parts of the country, Egyptian tourism ministry officials said. – Reuters 

Azerbaijan’s State Security Service said on Wednesday that it was investigating “a terror attack” after a lawmaker with strong anti-Iranian views was wounded in a gun attack at his home. – Reuters 

Arsen Ostrovsky and Patricia Teitelbaum write: Given the irrefutable axis-of-terror between Samidoun, PFLP and the Iranian regime, the EU has the duty to put Samidoun and senior Samidoun leaders on the EU terror list. They should do this not as some favor to Israel, but because otherwise they continue to turn their backs to a group that presents a clear and present security threat to the European Union and EU citizens. – Newsweek

IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour claimed foreign-backed threats are the source of unrest in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, possibly to set conditions to degrade Prominent Sunni Cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid’s anti-regime following in Zahedan. – Institute for the Study of War 

Patrick Clawson writes: The main takeaway from the document is that foreign policymakers and analysts should be cautious about any assessments that the Islamic Republic’s control over Iranian society is rock-solid, or that IRGC commanders are ready, able, and willing to do whatever it takes to keep the regime in power while it continues to eschew major concessions to public opinion. Perhaps the internal voices for reform that gives people more freedom (even if not more voice over government decisions) are stronger than believed. – Washington Institute 

Russia & Ukraine

As the war continues into its second year and Western sanctions bite harder, Russia’s government revenue is being squeezed and its economy has shifted to a lower-growth trajectory, likely for the long term. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. has informed Russia that it will no longer exchange key data on its strategic nuclear forces following Moscow’s decision to suspend its participation in the New START treaty cutting long-range nuclear arms, U.S. officials said Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s efforts to exhaust and deplete Russian forces in the eastern city of Bakhmut will help it reclaim other territory in the country, a Ukrainian commander in the area said. – Wall Street Journal

His real name is Sergey Cherkasov and he had spent nearly a decade building the fictitious Ferreira persona, according to officials and court records. His “team” was a tight circle of Russian handlers suddenly poised to have a deep-cover spy in the U.S. capital, positioned to forge connections in every corner of the American security establishment, from the State Department to the CIA. – Washington Post

Belarus would be willing to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons on its territory to strengthen its defense capabilities in response to what it sees as security threats from Western nations amid the war in Ukraine, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement reported by the state news media on Tuesday. – New York Times

Russia said on Wednesday that Washington’s decision to stop sharing some data on its nuclear forces under the New START arms control treaty will not prompt Moscow to review its own decision to suspend its participation in the pact. – Reuters 

Russia has begun exercises with its Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system and several thousand troops, its defence ministry said on Wednesday, in what is likely to be seen as another attempt by Moscow to show off its nuclear strength. – Reuters 

Russia said on Tuesday it had shot down a U.S.-supplied GLSDB guided smart bomb fired by Ukrainian forces, the first time Moscow has claimed to have intercepted one of the weapons that could double Ukraine’s battlefield firing range. – Reuters 

Ukrainian forces have shelled the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol, south of the Zaporizhzhia region, and Russian media reported on Wednesday that as a result, the city’s power supply had been cut. – Reuters 

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov gave Britain the thumbs up as he took a ride in what he said was the first British Challenger 2 main battle tank to arrive in Ukraine. – Reuters 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Tuesday that unless his nation wins a drawn-out battle in a key eastern city, Russia could begin building international support for a deal that could require Ukraine to make unacceptable compromises. He also invited the leader of China, long aligned with Russia, to visit. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s president visited the Sumy region in northern Ukraine on Tuesday, continuing his tour over recent days of areas of the country that have felt the brunt of Russia’s full-scale invasion and as the stage increasingly looks set for a Ukrainian counteroffensive. – Associated Press

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated plan to deploy nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, branding it “dangerous” talk. – Agence France-Presse

Ukraine wants Russia’s nuclear energy sector and liquefied natural gas to be part of future sanctions packages, Ukraine’s energy minister told Bloomberg Television. – Bloomberg 

Chinese body armor components are being sent to Russia and used by soldiers fighting in Ukraine, an investigation found. – Washington Examiner

Russia said Tuesday that sanctions packages adopted by the U.S. and Western allies have failed to restrict its crude oil shipments, and that it has redirected virtually all of its volumes to “friendly” nations in other parts of the world. – Washington Examiner 

China and the U.S. are in a race to build up their world power blocs, and both are using the same pressure point: the war in Ukraine. – Politico 

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Ukraine has a “very good chance” at launching a successful counteroffensive during the spring. – Newsweek 

Ukrainian officials announced Tuesday that more than 2,200 FPV kamikaze drones will be purchased for combat, thanks to a private fundraising effort. – Newsweek 

Former Ukrainian General Viktor Muzhenko warned that Russian forces could launch a new offensive over the summer following months of stagnation in their invasion of Ukraine. – Newsweek

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko could be “powerless” against mounting Russian pressure to allow the use of nuclear weapons the Kremlin plans to store within their borders against Ukraine, a former U.S. General told Newsweek. – Newsweek

Lawrence J. Haas writes: Freedom’s ascent was hardly serendipitous. It resulted in large measure from America’s resolve to both protect and promote democracy. In Ukraine and elsewhere, we need to continue to defend freedom or suffer the consequences of living in a world of less democracy and more authoritarian adventurism. With the world splintering, the choice seems clear. – The Hill  

Margarita Konaev and Owen J. Daniels write: The Ukrainian military’s skill at integrating advanced weapons and new technologies has continually surprised not only its adversary, but also Ukraine’s own partners and allies in the West. Yet new technology and weapons, no matter how sophisticated, are unlikely to prove decisive. In fact, it is difficult to say whether there can be a decisive end to a war like this—a prospect that seems unlikely for the near future. – Foreign Affairs 

Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan write: Wagner Group forces have likely taken the AZOM industrial complex in northern Bakhmut and continue to make gains within the city. – Institute for the Study of War 

Kurt Volker writes: With the possibility of a still-revanchist Russia, as well as a growing threat from China, further steps will be required to strengthen the transatlantic bond. NATO does this in the security sphere. In the economic sphere, a new Transatlantic Investment, Growth, and Resilience (TIGRE) Pact is needed to strengthen the collective Western economy and law-based international order. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Israel’s citizen soldiers, a pillar of the country’s identity, played a pivotal role in pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pause a planned judicial overhaul that divided the nation. – Wall Street Journal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition met Tuesday night with opposition leaders to begin negotiations over a judicial overhaul plan after widespread protests that shook the country. – Wall Street Journal

In proposing his judicial overhaul, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said he was restoring the balance of power between elected lawmakers and unelected judges. “It is not the end of democracy, it is the strengthening of democracy,” Mr. Netanyahu said last week, before a huge wave of protest and civil unrest forced him to put his proposals on hold. – New York Times

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a temporary suspension of his government’s contentious judicial overhaul Monday, many Israelis breathed a sigh of relief. But few believe that the crisis is over. – Washington Post

Israel launched a new version of its Ofek spy satellite on Wednesday, saying it would enhance around-the-clock regional monitoring as the country braces for a possible showdown with Iran. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon a judicial overhaul proposal that led to massive protests in Israel, prompting the Israeli leader to say he does not make decisions based on pressure from abroad. – Reuters 

The United States and Israel are discussing a planned visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but no invitation has been extended yet, a person familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Israel is a sovereign country that does not make decisions based on pressures from abroad, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday in response to comments by U.S. President Joe Biden. – Reuters

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, expected to be a top contender for the 2024 U.S. Republican presidential nomination, will travel to Israel next month as the country is being riven by a crisis that has led to widespread protests. – Reuters  

Despite tensions between them, President Joe Biden has so far avoided an acrimonious public confrontation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while trying to make clear he opposes a judicial overhaul that has shaken the close U.S. ally. – Reuters 

Indonesia’s president said on Tuesday that Israel’s participation in the Under-20 World Cup to be hosted by his country meant no change to its foreign policy, stressing amid domestic protests that sport and politics should not be mixed. – Reuters 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Tuesday said his country’s intelligence agency Mossad helped Greece prevent a terrorist attack planned against at least one Jewish site in Athens. – Associated Press

In it, he stressed that the most important aspect of Ramadan is that it is the month of jihad and martyrdom, as evident from the fact that the most important and decisive victories in Muslim history occurred during this month. He therefore called on the Palestinians to mobilize and come to Jerusalem during Ramadan in order to defend Al-Aqsa, and urged the Muslim nation to stand with the Palestinian people, stop the normalization with Israel and sever their ties with the Jews, who “do not honor any covenant or promise and are naturally disposed to treachery.” – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Before she took questions from Jewish voters during a virtual candidate forum on Tuesday evening, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), who is running for U.S. Senate in California, took a few minutes to express concern over Israel’s right-wing governing coalition and its now-suspended judicial overhaul, which has spurred mass protests in recent weeks. – Jewish Insider 

Israelis hoping for visa-free travel to the United States could see progress on the issue as soon as this summer, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides told Jewish Insider on Tuesday. – Jewish Insider 

U.S. lawmakers — including some who have not publicly discussed Israel’s judicial reform plans — said on Monday that the debate around Israel’s judicial reform efforts has raised concerns about Israel’s national security. – Jewish Insider    

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is pushing for the creation of a new fund to support cooperative projects between the U.S. and Israel to address emerging defense and technological challenges, coming as part of an emerging push for stepping up collaborative efforts to counter new security threats. – Jewish Insider   

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s prized new national guard force, if it happens, will focus on fighting criminal organizations, especially in the Israeli-Arab sector, a spokesman said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

953 buildings belonging to Palestinians in east Jerusalem and the West Bank were demolished or seized by Israeli authorities in 2022, the highest amount since 2016, according to a report by the European Union Representative Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip published on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Plans are being advanced by the Jerusalem municipality for thousands of new housing units in and around Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem set to be marketed for Jews, including in areas with no current discernable Jewish Israeli presence. – Times of Israel

A Jerusalem teenager was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of involvement in an attack Monday night on an Arab cab driver in the capital. The assault came amid a right-wing protest near the Knesset where thousands gathered to counter a demonstration against the judicial overhaul pushed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline coalition, which has now been paused. – Times of Israel 

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday night notified the family of a Palestinian gunman accused of killing a soldier in the West Bank last year that the military intends to demolish their home in the city of Nablus. – Times of Israel

Knesset passes law allowing police to search for illegal weapons with no warrant. Legislation that will allow police to search for illegal weapons without a warrant was approved Tuesday night in a final vote in the Knesset plenum, passing 20-6 with support from both coalition and opposition lawmakers. – Times of Israel   

An attacker threw an explosive at Israeli troops near the West Bank border early Wednesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said. – Times of Israel

Dozens of Arab terrorists rioted for hours on Monday night on the main road leading through the town of Huwara in Samaria, the setting for three shooting attacks in the past few months, one of which was fatal in the cases of Hallel and Yagel Yaniv Hy”d. – Arutz Sheva

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit) pushed back Wednesday morning, following criticism by President Joe Biden of the Israeli government’s handling of the judicial reform crisis. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: What Israel really needs is a written constitution. That is a bridge too far, practically speaking, in the current moment. The more Israelis focus on actual nuts-and-bolts issues over which there is room for reasonable disagreement, however — such as how to select members of the court — the better their chances of easing this crisis. – Washington Post

Editorial: One of the critical factors in the ultimate success of the protests was the threat of reservists in the air force and other elite units in the IDF not to show up for volunteer reserve duty or training. A representative of the pilots announced following Netanyahu’s freeze of the legislation that they will now return to their regular training schedule: this is a welcome development. Gantz and Lapid would do well to call for a pause of the protests to lower the national temperature and give the talks a chance to succeed. – Jerusalem Post

Bret Stephens writes: Most Israelis, who grow up with the understanding that their country’s margin of safety is unusually narrow, know this; it’s only opportunists and fanatics who forget. This week, the demonstrators reminded them that raw majoritarianism puts everyone at risk. – New York Times

Martin Indyk writes: The US is also working with Israel, Egypt and Jordan to try to keep a lid on the Palestinian territories, and its armed forces recently exercised with the Israeli air force in a display intended to be noticed in Tehran. But these will seem inadequate band aids if Israel’s internal and external situations deteriorate further. – Financial Times

Alan Dershowitz writes: The proposed reforms, which led to the demonstrations and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent pause, would not, even if enacted in full, end democracy in Israel. […]These negative consequences would be caused by the power of the Knesset to override Supreme Court decisions that have hereto protected those rights. Rejecting these reforms therefore would keep Israel a better democracy, but Israel will remain a vibrant democracy even if all these ill-advised reforms were to be enacted. – Newsweek

Muhammad Shehada writes: Ending the occupation of Palestinians and ensuring equal rights to everyone in Israel would be liberating for Israelis just as it would for Palestinians. Otherwise, the occupation will continue to corrupt the souls of the occupier as much as it ruins the lives of the occupied. And it will continue to fuel the very far-right groups these demonstrations are fighting, because their ascendence to power has been contingent on hate, fear, divisiveness, chaos, and blood. – Newsweek

Eado Hecht writes: The IDF has been computerizing its communications more and more in an attempt to create a networked force. […] However, this technology is also more susceptible to electronic and cyber attack and is also less mobile. The Ukrainian computerized command and control system was disrupted by a Russian cyber attack on the first day of the war. However, Kyiv had prepared for this eventuality by maintaining older systems that were less susceptible to such interference. This enabled the Ukrainian army to continue to function effectively, if less efficiently. – Algemeiner

Ben-Dror Yemini writes: The Biden administration’s opinion of Netanyahu’s legislative push is well documented. U.S. officials now say they are encouraged by Netanyahu’s willingness to halt his judicial program. Is Netanyahu concerned with protecting Israel’s national interests or is he preoccupied with the demands of Itamar Ben-Gvir? As of now, we are far from safe harbor and can only hope we will reach one when the dust settles. – Ynet 

Attila Somfalvi writes: But after Netanyahu’s speech, the focus must turn to politicians: Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid to demand that talks to find an agreed path forward, must begin immediately. […] The opposition must gather the smartest and most professional among them and impose a deadline for talks. It is time for Lapid and Gantz to present their alternative and their clear red lines. Israel cannot continue under the cloud of uncertainty, it is costing money, health, and well-being for too many. The country must emerge from this crisis as a democracy, with basic rights protected for eternity. No other option would be acceptable. – Ynet

Amos Harel writes: Netanyahu is still a short distance away from achieving his primary goal, even if he is forced to stop due to the circumstances. His motives have remained in place. Over the longer term, he desperately needs to pass the legislation so that he can stabilize his government coalition and derail his current criminal trial. – Haaretz

Josh Breiner writes: A senior police official told Haaretz that the establishment of a national guard would “mess things up rather than improve them, certainly when there are no clear parameters.” “It’s a recipe for misunderstanding and for bad competition between the ‘regular’ police and the [new] national guard. Instead of trying to fix the police, they’re saying ‘we’ll set up a new organization. But would anyone think of setting up a competition to the IDF?” – Haaretz 


The U.S. and U.K. on Tuesday slapped sanctions on four Syrians and two Lebanese involved in manufacturing and trafficking the amphetamine drug Captagon, the two governments said. The six include cousins of Syrian President Bashar Assad and notorious Lebanese drug lynchpins. – Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday conceded that the Biden administration should have notified Congress “earlier” than it did about a deadly drone attack on U.S. forces in Syria last week. – The Hill  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: While voices within the UAE and Saudi Arabia may be inclined to back reconciliation, either quietly or openly, Qatar is already another question. Qatar, like Turkey, has backed the Syrian rebels and would not want to be seen to be selling them out. But it is also close to Iran as well as a strategic US partner. This puts it in a unique position to conduct outreach, though it has so far signaled little interest to do so. – Jerusalem Post


Turkey’s Energy Ministry said on Tuesday that Iraq had been ordered by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to pay compensation to Ankara in a longstanding arbitration case related to oil exports from northern Iraq via Turkey. – Reuters 

Peruvian authorities said Monday they seized 2.3 tonnes of cocaine disguised as ceramic tiles destined for Turkey via a growing maritime route for illicit drugs. – Reuters

Philip Kosnett writes: We can counter that our aim is a balanced, respectful relationship, which should include continued access to Turkish bases, including İncirlik when the sides agree it is necessary. In 2016, Erdoğan’s prime minister Binali Yildirim mused publicly that Turkey would consider letting Russia base forces at İncirlik – a suggestion that even the Russians couldn’t bring themselves to take seriously. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Sehrazat G. Mart and Arjin Tas write: As the government is rushing to remove the earthquake debris, civil society organizations and volunteers are persistently collecting evidence from the rubble to hold public officials and contractors responsible for the destruction in the region. The levels of displacement due to the recent earthquakes are already heart-breaking and unimaginable. Preventing further displacement and dispossession demands urgent change in the Turkish government’s urban transformation and reconstruction policies. – Foreign Policy 


Bahrain’s foreign ministry has summoned Iraq’s Chargé d’Affaires Moayad Omar Abdul Rahman for breaching diplomatic norms, the Bahrain state news agency said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) railed against a bill to repeal a pair of war authorizations that presidents have used to take military action against Iranian proxies in the region. – Washington Examiner 

Samuel Helfont writes: Blaming Saddam Hussein’s trickery for faulty assessments about his weapons programs takes the onus off American intelligence agencies. They will not learn the right lessons if they fail to address how their strategies to uncover Iraqi weapons programs created the flawed incentive structures that ultimately led Iraq to cease cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors. Likewise, simplistic narratives that refuse to address Saddam Hussein’s very real support for people like Osama bin Laden will leave analysts and policymakers ill-equipped to handle the nuance that such a threat demands. – War on the Rocks 

Middle East & North Africa

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet approved on Wednesday a decision to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as Riyadh builds a long-term partnership with China despite U.S. security concerns. – Reuters 

The Biden administration has proposed a major policy change in the way people living in America define their racial or ethnic background on federal forms and the 2030 census. The proposed language would for the first time add a Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) category to a question about respondents’ race or ethnicity. The MENA category, which has been heavily supported by Arab American advocacy groups, would also include Israelis. – Jewish Insider  

David Schenker writes: From political assassinations, to the negligence that led to the port blast, to the impunity of the state security apparatus, to tragic failures by public health institutions, the list of human rights abuses suffered by victims in Lebanon is long and growing. Regrettably, accountability remains a crucial but still-distant element in reversing the tragic trajectory of this failing state. – Washington Institute 

Shadi Hamid writes: On the other hand, if the IMF bails out an unapologetic Saied, it will bear direct responsibility for the end of Tunisian democracy and consigning millions of Tunisians to a tragic fate. And if the Biden administration allows the IMF to go ahead without imposing further conditions, then the United States will share in the blame. – Foreign Affairs 

Matthew Hedges writes: Perhaps the UAE will indeed sail into a happier and brighter future, with no need for its Western allies. It’s certainly free as a sovereign state to help the world’s war-makers and rule-breakers and the G-7 countries have, for reasons of their own, showing a great deal of forbearance. But it would be a brave politician to assume that will last forever. Or that painful secondary sanctions will never be imposed. I’m not alone in thinking they should be. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Korean Peninsula

China said Tuesday its new ambassador to North Korea has taken up his post, in a sign the North is reopening amid reports it has been suffering heavily from the COVID-19 pandemic and food shortages. – Associated Press

South Korea unveiled on Wednesday a package of measures aimed at boosting domestic consumption, but stopped short of offering big-ticket plans for fear of stoking inflation, which is slowing but still high. – Reuters

The United States has seen no willingness by North Korea to accept a U.S. offer to hold talks on its nuclear weapons program but the offer still stands, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday. – Reuters  

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group docked at the port of Busan, South Korea on Tuesday to mark the 70th Anniversary of the U.S-South Korea alliance ahead of more trilateral drills with the Republic of Korea Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. – USNI News 

Donald Kirk writes: Just to make sure nobody missed the point of the THAAD exercise, the headquarters of U.S. Forces Korea released images of the launch vehicle, declaring it had enhanced “combat readiness” and “defense posture.” The statement made clear the value of the base in a brave new era when “Star Wars” may decide the fates of millions down below. – The Hill  


Prosecutors accused FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried of conspiring to bribe Chinese government officials to regain access to more than $1 billion in frozen cryptocurrency, in a new indictment that charged him with violating U.S. anticorruption law. – Wall Street Journal

Tibet is dying a “slow death” under Chinese rule, the head of the India-based organization known as Tibet’s government in-exile said on Tuesday in a first address to the U.S. Congress. – Reuters

The Biden administration on Tuesday imposed new trade restrictions on five Chinese companies for allegedly aiding in Beijing’s repression of the Uyghur Muslim minority group. – Reuters 

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with China’s top diplomat Wang Yi on Friday, people familiar with the matter said, as the two sides look to ease tensions that have continued to build in recent months. – Bloomberg 

Anne Lord writes: Quarrels on the House and Senate floor will do nothing to eradicate the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s unfettered access to our data through TikTok, nor will it protect our youth from harmful content. Internal fighting will do nothing to end the genocide against the Uyghur people, whose internment will continue without our action. We must work together to stop the CCP. – Washington Examiner

Benjamin Zycher writes: And about the contracts that U.S. LNG companies have with Chinese buyers: Is it Rubio’s position that the federal government should simply abrogate them? Has he thought through the implications of this? Hint: What principle remains to oppose, say, a similar abrogation of existing permits for fossil-fuel production, even on private property? Put aside the adverse impacts of Rubio’s bill, even as it would fail in its direct objectives. As a matter of principle and in terms of its larger implications, it is a monstrosity in the making. It should be defeated. – Washington Examiner 

Joseph Bosco writes: The third American action that will address the Sino-Russian dual challenge is to formalize Biden’s personal promise to dispense with the policy of strategic ambiguity and clearly commit to defend Taiwan. Beijing will know for certain that an attack on Taiwan will mean war with America and it will not be the grinding, incremental Ukraine scenario with the aggressor nation afforded safe haven from effective counterattack. – The Hill

Albert Torres writes: To stem corruption and authoritarianism, the United States and its partners must work together to stay ahead of evolving economic structures. Sanctioned countries are adapting to the restrictions. Western democracies must adapt, too. – The Hill  

Ian Ralby writes: The way to counter adverse possession in property law is for the true owner to recognize the squatter and either give permission for them to be there or expel them. All states, therefore, should help shine a light on China’s strategy and reduce its points of argument for any “rights and interests” it believes it may be accruing in the high seas. – The Hill  

Colin Dueck writes: Chinese influence in Latin America is growing. This poses a threat to vital US security interests in an underappreciated region. The Monroe Doctrine warned against allowing hostile great powers fresh entry into the Western Hemisphere. It remains a timely warning 200 years later. The Biden administration’s Latin America policy is informed by liberal guilt over Cold War legacies rather than by any clear strategy to counteract Chinese influence in the region. The United States must renovate its Latin America policy in a way that takes seriously the expanding regional threat from China. – American Enterprise Institute 

Lily McElwee, Maria Snegovaya, Alexandra Chopenko, and Tina Dolbaia write: Overall, while Xi’s recent trip to Moscow made headlines globally and especially in Russia, the limits of this bilateral relationship for Putin are clear. Beijing will seek to cash in on Russia’s rising isolation to advance its bid for a more multipolar political and economic order, while continuing to frustrate key Kremlin demands. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 

South Asia

Russia and India are looking at expanding the use of the Northern Sea shipping route that passes through the Artic and which could include the building of processing facilities, Russia’s Interfax agency reported on Wednesday. – Reuters 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) wants external financing commitments fulfilled from friendly countries before it releases bailout funds, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Akhil Ramesh writes: It is high time the U.S. turns its focus toward the needs of the Global South. It is rightly turning its attention toward its Indo-Pacific partner, India. However, it is time it also considers the partnership to be its gateway to the Global South. If Washington can come to terms with New Delhi’s strategic autonomy, it may be in a position to understand the needs of the Global South better. – The Hill  

Dinsha Mistree and Sumit Ganguly write: From a geopolitical perspective, the reemergence of Sikh separatism could not come at a worse time. A more powerful Sikh separatist movement would complicate relations between India and the West, just as Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the United States shift from focusing on terrorism to containing China in the Indo-Pacific region. If these Western countries want to establish a truly strong partnership with India, they cannot continue to support diaspora networks that enable violence, even tacitly. – Foreign Policy 


Now, after months of sparring by Washington and Beijing over the Ukraine war, a suspected surveillance balloon, TikTok and other issues, Taiwan is set to return to the center of great power tensions, with the island’s leader traveling to the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

When Honduras switched allegiance from Taipei to Beijing last week, it put the diplomatic future of Taiwan, a self-governed democracy, in a more precarious position. – Washington Post

The political party of Myanmar’s imprisoned opposition leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been officially dissolved, in yet another blow to the Southeast Asian nation’s democracy, two years after the military staged a coup. – New York Times

Japan’s foreign minister is planning to visit China this weekend in the first such trip in about three years, Kyodo News and other local media reported, as Asia’s two largest economies seek to maintain stable ties amid rising tensions. – Bloomberg 

External pressure will not stop Taiwan engaging with the world, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday as she left for the United States, hitting a defiant note after China threatened retaliation if she met U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. – Reuters 

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Tuesday said he would cut off contact with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it rejected an appeal asking it to stop investigating his predecessor’s lethal war on drugs. – Reuters

The United States sees no reason for China to overreact to planned transits of the United States this week and next month by Taiwan’s president, senior U.S. officials said, calling them consistent with long-standing practice and the U.S. one-China policy that recognizes Beijing diplomatically, not Taipei. – Reuters  

China has threatened “resolute countermeasures” over a planned meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Speaker of the United States House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during an upcoming visit in Los Angeles by the head of the self-governing island democracy. – Associated Press

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was due to leave for the United States on Wednesday, a stop on her way to firm ties with Guatemala and Belize after China snapped up another of the self-ruled island’s few diplomatic allies last week. – Agence France-Presse

Seth Cropsey writes: Unless the U.S. can scale up production of the weapons it will need in the Indo-Pacific—hypersonics, cruise and ballistic missiles, and short-range antiship weapons—it would lose a fight for Taiwan in weeks. This is the core issue. The U.S. military isn’t behind the curve in some grand transformation in warfare. It simply can’t employ the combat tools it has so carefully cultivated over the past 30 to 50 years because it has spent that time preparing to fight low-intensity wars, not a major strategic contest with a peer. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Walsh writes: Too often, the United States Government is forced to turn to its allies and partners to fill critical gaps in its knowledge about the history, cultures, and languages of the Pacific Islands region. This is an imperfect solution for many reasons, not least of which is that their respective national interests do not perfectly align. – The Hill  

Raphael S. Cohen and Gian Gentile write: Obviously, no one wants to fight long, grueling wars. They are bloody and expensive. If war can be avoided in the first place, all the better. But if the United States must fight—for instance, over Taiwan—it should take a clear-eyed look at its own history and prepare for what will, in all likelihood, be a protracted conflict. […]If the United States’ objective is to win, the only thing worse than fighting a long war may be thinking it’s possible to avoid one. – Foreign Policy 


French President Emmanuel Macron faced a rash of violent protests Tuesday as demonstrators clashed with police over his use of constitutional powers to raise France’s retirement age without parliament’s consent. – Wall Street Journal

King Charles III of Britain will travel to Germany on Wednesday for his first trip abroad as monarch, after strikes and protests in France led to the cancellation of his planned state visit there. – New York Times

A man stabbed two people to death and wounded several others at a Muslim center in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, on Tuesday before he was shot, wounded and taken into custody, the Portuguese police said. – New York Times

Norway said it will prioritise a smooth transition with Russia as it plans to assume the chair of the Moscow-helmed Arctic Council on May 11, but will not commit to restarting stalled cooperation given the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

The Russian embassy in the U.S. said on Wednesday Washington is seeking to play down damaging information about the alleged involvement of its intelligence services in last year’s blasts that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines. – Reuters 

Britain and Poland will build two temporary villages in western and central Ukraine to provide housing for those forced from their homes by Russia’s invasion, London said on Tuesday, pledging 10 million pounds ($12.3 million) in funding. – Reuters 

The speaker of the lower chamber of the Czech parliament told Taiwanese lawmakers on Tuesday that her country and Taiwan are bound together by freedom and democracy, pledging to always stand with the island’s people. – Reuters 

Police officers in Belgium have arrested eight people during counterterrorism raids across the country as part of operations aimed at thwarting possible attacks, the federal prosecutor’s office said Tuesday. – Associated Press

The U.K.’s MI5 intelligence service on Tuesday raised the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland’ to “severe” amid an increase in activity by dissident Irish republican militants. – Associated Press

Poland will become NATO’s leading defense spender in 2023 in relation to its economic size, owing around 4 percent of its GDP (many NATO states fail to make the 2% minimum, notably Germany).[1] In March 2022, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a new Homeland Defense law to increase the size of the Polish army to 300,000 soldiers.[2] Russia has been watching this buildup with alarm and has previously accused Poland of seeking to annex Western Ukraine,[3] despite Poland being at the forefront of aiding Ukraine. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Michael Rubin writes: This is no excuse. U.S. policymakers must recognize that Lukashenko’s threat and destructive activities extend far beyond Europe. He represents sleight of hand for dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, and Xi Jinping. If Lukashenko enables Iranian terror, it is time he pays the price. The State Department should designate Belarus as a state sponsor of terror. – Washington Examiner 

Tom Rogan writes: European democracies have the right to pursue whatever foreign policy they deem in their national interest. But America has that same right and, vis-a-vis China’s challenge, an overriding need to act in kind. If European allies want to put China first, the next president should adjust U.S. policy in recognition of their diminished commitment to the U.S. alliance. – Washington Examiner 

Leila Abboud writes: Although Macron thanked Berger for his “spirit of responsibility”, he quickly rejected that idea, insisting he would only meet the unions on other separate reforms to improve the world of work. For now, the president and Berger are still talking past each other. – Financial Times


After walking down a path where enslaved people once marched in chains to waiting ships, Vice President Kamala Harris entered a dungeon in Cape Coast, Ghana, where captive women had sung songs praying for death. If nothing else, her tour guide said on Tuesday, they believed death would bring freedom. – New York Times 

South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan will lead a delegation to China next month in a bid to break an impasse over the delivery of locomotives and spare parts by Chinese rail equipment maker CRRC E-Loco, state-owned logistics company Transnet said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The United States on Tuesday urged restraint from all sides in ally Kenya and called for respect for peaceful demonstrations as opposition protests in defiance of a ban turned violent. – Agence France-Presse

Richard Cookson writes: Once utterly dominant, the ANC’s share of the vote has slipped below 40%. But for various reasons none of the other parties grips the popular imagination and, for now, the most likely outcome in South Africa’s proportional representation electoral system is a coalition government. At best, coalition government might mean a few more checks on the worst instincts of the ANC. All that means is that South Africa disintegrates more slowly. – Bloomberg 

Brad Handler, Juliet Akamboe, and Baba Freeman write: Navigating the path to deeper economic ties across Africa involves finding the opportunities that allow us to uphold our values, allow industry to realize a fair value on its investments and satisfy the needs of our country partners. The rewards go beyond minerals, as the U.S. can strengthen its economic, cultural and security ties with countries in the global south. Such diplomacy should pay benefits well beyond the value of commodities. – The Hill  

The Americas

El Salvador condemned on Tuesday the action of detention center staff in Mexico during a fire that killed at least 38 migrants, including “several” Salvadorans, and demanded a thorough investigation. – Reuters

The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday added the Nicaraguan National Police to a government export control list after the Biden administration said the police force was engaged in serious human rights abuses in Nicaragua. – Reuters  

The U.S.-Mexico relationship is under strain from fentanyl smuggling, as politicians on both sides of the Rio Grande scramble to respond to a drug trade that now kills more than 70,000 U.S. nationals every year. – The Hill  

The Canadian government is considering the purchase of as many as 16 P-8A surveillance aircraft from U.S. aerospace company Boeing without a competition, despite objections from Quebec-based Bombardier. – Defense News

Lawrence Norden and Derek Tisler write: Although there is substantial work to be done to protect the people, systems, and infrastructure necessary for elections, there is still time ahead of 2024. Past success in strengthening U.S. voting infrastructure against cyberattacks should give every voter the hope and expectation that the country’s leaders will be up to the challenge of defending American democracy. – Foreign Affairs 


Mandiant’s new advisory follows a warning last week about the same outfit by South Korean and German security agencies, which found that the North Korean hackers have been waging a campaign designed to gain access to victims’ Google accounts, with attacks that use Google’s browser and app store as their jumping-off points. – Washington Post

Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) and Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) appeared before Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday to defend a law that says internet companies are not responsible for content that users post unless the companies are subject to a court order. – Reuters 

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s (R-AR) office told Fox News that the state has filed three lawsuits against the tech giants under its Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which forbids deceptive business practices. One of the lawsuits was filed against Meta, and two others target TikTok’s Chinese host company, ByteDance. – Washington Examiner 

A small yet growing coalition of Democrats has come out in support of TikTok as the threat of a national ban looms over the China-affiliated app. – Washington Examiner 

Google requested a judge dismiss the Department of Justice’s advertising-related antitrust lawsuit, one of its first efforts to free itself from federal scrutiny of its advertising practices. – Washington Examiner 

The app, which says it has 150 million active users in the country, is one of the most popular social media apps for young people. Those voters, generally under 30, are sometimes credited with turning out in large numbers to bolster Democrats in last year’s midterm elections. And for some Democratic strategists, that’s exactly why campaigns should be on it. – Politico 

Tim Culpan writes: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act even says service providers can’t be treated as publishers. So it would be a bold move for Chew and his legal team to make the case that TikTok deserves the same free-speech protections as a media outlet, because it would put the platform under the same regulation and scrutiny including stricter rules on advertising and content. But right now, TikTok is desperate. It did a poor job convincing US lawmakers, so the best chance it has now is to appeal to regulators and a right-leaning Supreme Court. – Bloomberg

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The media may still waste this opportunity: To use it, a certain return to the basics is required in working with human sources and being at the scene, and that can be an expensive undertaking. The investment can be worth it, however.  At its core, news is an artisanal product with a broader appeal than, say, handmade shoes or custom-built bicycles — and, like them, it cannot be replaced with the output of the most perfect AI model. – Bloomberg 

Rachel Chiu writes: Other countries are attuned to this threat as well. The United States, in addition to the United Kingdom, the European Union, New Zealand, and Canada, have restricted government employees from downloading TikTok on their work devices. Banning TikTok or forcing divestment will not give the United States an upper hand in the ongoing conflict with China. But it will impede the Chinese government from leveraging a platform that has become ubiquitous in American society. – The National Interest 


The Pentagon is gearing up for a future conflict in space as China and Russia deploy missiles and lasers that can take out satellites and disrupt military and civilian communications. – Wall Street Journal

A U.S. senator’s decision to hold up the nomination of senior military officials over the Pentagon’s abortion policy will have a ripple effect and hurt readiness, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The second test flight of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s hypersonic missile prototype was marred by the weapon’s failure to transmit in-flight performance data, two people familiar with the results said, a setback for US efforts to catch up with China and Russia in a key weapons capability. – Bloomberg 

Chinese naval forces will have about 150 more ships on the water than the U.S. Navy by 2028, according to Defense Department officials. – Washington Examiner 

The U.S. will double monthly production of 155mm artillery shells to 24,000 by year’s end and increase it sixfold within five years, Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo said today. – Defense One

Elaine McCusker writes: But it is puzzling that one of the Department’s most successful efforts in this area, the Defense Innovation Unit, appears to receive a 6.3 percent cut in this budget. The cut goes up to 26 percent if the related National Security Innovation Network and capital budgets are included. Aspirations are good. They set the bar for achieving greater things. But without the right capacity, capability, tools and resources, they quickly turn to disappointment. – The Hill  

Mike Pietrucha writes: In order to develop an effective human-machine team, utilizing architectures and techniques that are already in place for human-human teams will simplify the introduction of AIs for their human team members and likely lead to earlier acceptance. […]But a fictional character in a classic space opera illustrates a potential way ahead for effective human-machine teaming and should serve as a model for the necessary performance and control interface. The R2 unit has been thoroughly illustrated —  we need only build it. – War on the Rocks