Fdd's overnight brief

March 29, 2024

In The News


Over three decades in public life, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become known as the “magician” for his ability to wriggle free of political dilemmas. The war in Gaza and hostage-release talks with Hamas are testing those skills as never before. – Wall Street Journal

The Palestinian Authority named the members of a new cabinet Thursday, pledging a technocratic government that could help rebuild Gaza and fight endemic corruption.Mohammad Mustafa, appointed as prime minister earlier this month, announced the names of 22 new ministers who would join him in the government and outlined his vision. – Washington Post

More than 9,000 Palestinians imprisoned under Israel’s military and national security laws are being held in Israeli detention facilities, the highest figure in more than a decade, according to rights groups, who say that many of the detainees are being held without charges and have been abused while in custody. – New York Times

The United States’ top general said on Thursday that Israel had not received every weapon it has asked for, in part because some of it could affect the U.S. military’s readiness and there were capacity limitations. – Reuters

Difficulties getting Israeli permission for foreign staff to work in Israel and the Palestinian territories are hampering efforts to get aid into war-shattered Gaza where civilians are facing imminent famine, according to U.N. data and aid workers. – Reuters

Judges at the International Court of Justice on Thursday unanimously ordered Israel to take all the necessary and effective action to ensure basic food supplies arrive without delay to the Palestinian population in Gaza. – Reuters

A gunman opened fire on vehicles in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, wounding at least three people, including a 13 year-old boy, emergency services said. – Reuters

Israel’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an end to government subsidies for many ultra-Orthodox men who do not serve in the army — a blockbuster ruling that could have far-reaching consequences for the government and the tens of thousands of religious men who refuse to take part in mandatory military service. – Associated Press

US military officials and their Israeli counterparts have discussed only “broad concepts” about how to limit harm to civilians during a planned operation in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, according to the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. – Bloomberg

Biden administration officials are in preliminary “conversations” about options for stabilizing post-war Gaza, including a proposal for the Pentagon to help fund either a multinational force or a Palestinian peacekeeping team. – Politico

Officials in Washington told the Israeli Finance Ministry that US sanctions against violent settlers are not intended to compel Israeli banks to close the accounts of targeted individuals, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel. – Times of Israel

Israeli commandos raiding Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital killed one of the Hamas terror group’s top commanders, the army said Thursday, as fighting raged in several areas of the Strip and the number of troops killed in combat reached the symbolically significant toll of 253. – Times of Israel

The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday released new interrogation footage of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist who was seen confessing to raping an Israeli woman in a kibbutz in southern Israel during the Hamas-led October 7 onslaught on Israeli communities. – Times of Israel

Israel’s National Security Council said Thursday that Israelis should avoid traveling to Turkey, Morocco, Jordan and Egypt — including the Sinai peninsula, usually a popular holiday destination for Israelis over Passover — in updated travel warnings it issued for the coming months. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Biden’s anger at Netanyahu is misplaced. Even if he got his wish and Netanyahu left office, the opposition party also supports the Israel Defense Forces’s conquest and pacification of Rafah. Americans and Israelis are united in their determination to see Hamas eliminated from Gaza. Not least for his own political fortune, Biden should stop getting in the way. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Despite all this, the ultra-Orthodox insist on continuing to evade army service, at the state’s expense. And aside from the Supreme Court, there is nobody to stop Netanyahu from mortgaging Israel’s future. This government must end its tenure before it is too late. The public must take to the streets and demand the return of the hostages, the end of the war and early elections. – Haaretz

Hayim Leiter writes: It’s obvious that what we need right now is to finish off the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah and then move on to cripple Hezbollah in the North – and we will do that with or without the world’s imprimatur. Even though the Democrats would like to paint a picture of division in Israel, it is not the case. The country stands behind the unity government in carrying the war to completion. It is a surprise that we might need to go it alone, but if that’s the way it must be, then so be it. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Lincoln writes: The Colonna report is not likely to be as far-reaching as most might want it to be, but it could present an opportunity to force a long overdue and more realistic approach to UNRWA’s future. A managed approach, in the context of a postwar arrangement for Gaza, is a more responsible and appropriate option for the overhaul of UNRWA that is so clearly required. And as remote as it might seem right now, the best way to address this on a more permanent basis is in the context of a renewed peace process and a resolution to this historic and increasingly deadly conflict. – Foreign Affairs


An Iranian court has sentenced a police chief in northern Iran to death after he was charged with killing a man during mass protests in 2022, local media reported Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

A delegation of influencers of Iranian descent has arrived in Israel as part of an initiative promoted by the Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. The delegation consists of Iranian expatriates, some of whom have been imprisoned in recent years for actions opposing the mullah regime. – Ynet

Iranian police detained “a young boy with a feminine appearance”, accusing him of “promoting vulgarity and promiscuity” amid the country’s continued human rights crackdowns. – Iran International


Russia & Ukraine

Russia has boosted its imports of an explosive compound critical to the production of artillery ammunition, including from companies based in the U.S. and other Western countries and allies, despite international sanctions meant to choke Moscow’s wartime production, according to trade data. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Commerce Department is continuing to dial up its warnings about violating rules against the export of sensitive technologies to foreign adversaries amid findings that U.S. components have found their way to Russia’s military and to battlefields in Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal

Evan Gershkovich was supposed to be with his friends in Berlin the first week of April 2023. The Wall Street Journal Russia correspondent was set to stay in an Airbnb in the edgy Neukölln neighborhood, a base to explore the city’s cobble-lined streets with his tightknit crew of journalist pals exiled there from Moscow. He was going to drink coffee in hipster cafes and chat into the night over glasses of beer. It was the start of his stolen year. – Wall Street Journal

A year is a long time by any measure. It’s even longer in a foreign prison. “It’s the worst milestone imaginable,” said journalist Jason Rezaian. Rezaian had been working as a correspondent for the Washington Post in Tehran for about two years when Iranian authorities raided his home in 2014 and took him, his wife and a photographer into custody. His wife and the photographer were later released on bail. – Wall Street Journal

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in an interview published on Friday, said Ukraine’s proposed peace plan was pointless as it was based on unacceptable notions like Moscow’s withdrawal from areas it has captured. – Reuters

Ukraine’s defence minister asked allies for more air defences at an extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council on Thursday and said nearly all the impact from Russian strikes this year had been on civilian infrastructure. – Reuters

A Russian military aircraft crashed into the sea on Thursday off the Crimean port of Sevastopol, the Russian-installed governor of the region said. The pilot safely ejected and was picked up by rescuers. Сivilian objects were not damaged, Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev said. – Reuters

Russian investigators said on Thursday they had found proof that gunmen who killed more than 140 people at a concert last week were linked to “Ukrainian nationalists”, an assertion immediately dismissed by the United States as baseless propaganda. – Reuters

Ukrainian forces shot down 26 out of 28 attack drones launched overnight by Russia, Kyiv’s military said on Thursday. The Iranian-made drones were destroyed over parts of eastern, southern and southeastern Ukraine, the air force added. – Reuters

The U.S. is asking American companies to stop shipping goods to more than 600 foreign parties over fears the items could be diverted to Russia for use in its invasion of Ukraine, a U.S. official said on Thursday. – Reuters

Mark Temnycky writes: Lessons from Afghanistan and Chechnya show that only embarrassment and defeat will make Russia quit an invasion like the one in Ukraine. Russia will not respect any other outcome. Therefore, the international community must do everything it can to help Ukraine win the war and defeat Russia. Only then will the conflict end. – The Hill

Michael Bohnert writes: To be sure, NATO should expand its production of air-to-air and surface-to-air munitions to deter further Russian aggression and support Ukraine. But with the VKS currently shrinking, the alliance can afford to donate more munitions to Ukraine now without worrying about its immediate strategic reserves. – Defense News


The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah fired rockets with heavy warheads at towns in northern Israel, saying it used the weapons against civilian targets for the first time Thursday in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes the night before that killed nine, including what the group said were several paramedics. – Associated Press

The nun stood in front of a group of young students at a Lebanese Christian school and asked them to pray for the “men of the resistance” in southern Lebanon who she said were defending the country. – Associated Press

The IDF on Thursday said that one of its Patriot missile defense systems successfully shot down a “suspicious aerial target” sent to attack Israel from Lebanon. The suspicious aerial target, usually IDF jargon for a Hezbollah attack drone, exploded deeper into Israel than usual, over the Safed area, leading the IDF to probe the incident even though the threat was shot down. – Jerusalem Post

“We do not support a war in Lebanon,”  White House National Security spokesman John Kiby said on Thursday, addressing rising tensions in Israel’s north. “We don’t want to see that happen. We’ve been crystal clear about that since the very beginning of this.” – Jerusalem Post

A vehicle was attacked this morning (Friday) by an unmanned aerial vehicle in the town of Bazourieh in the Tyre district in southern Lebanon. At the same time, artillery attacks were reported in Kfarhamam and Rachaya Al Foukhar in southern Lebanon. – Arutz Sheva


The Taliban’s announcement that it is resuming publicly stoning women to death has been enabled by the international community’s silence, human rights groups have said. – The Guardian

Amnesty International has urged Pakistan to halt expelling hundreds of thousands of Afghan girls and women to neighboring Afghanistan. “The deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan will put women and girls at unique risk”. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Lisa Curtis and Hadeia Amiry write: The more the Taliban suppress women’s involvement in society, the greater the likelihood that extremist ideologies will proliferate, driving recruitment for terrorist groups. The Taliban are opening new religious schools and implementing new curricula in public schools that teach young men about its radical form of Islam, thus breeding a new generation of extremists. The best way to reverse such developments is for the United States to aid the international community in its fight to keep women and girls in school and maintain their agency in society. – Foreign Affairs


Population growth in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, slowed to 1.4% in 2023, its lowest rate in decades, the planning ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters

Egyptian officials have put forward a slew of requests from the U.S. in negotiations with Israel over Gaza, including security funding and equipment, according to five officials from Egypt, the U.S. and Israel. – Politico

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar secretly met on Wednesday in Cairo with the head of Egyptian intelligence Abbas Kamel, Walla reported Thursday evening. As per the report, Kamel hosted Bar at the former’s Iftar meal. – Jerusalem Post


The U.S. military said on Thursday that it had destroyed four unmanned drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. – Reuters

Russian warships from the Pacific Fleet have crossed the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and entered the Red Sea, the state-run Tass news agency said, venturing into a maritime region plagued by Houthi attacks and crowded with naval vessels. – Bloomberg

China is unwittingly helping Iran choke off ship traffic in the Red Sea, impairing global trade flows and damaging Beijing’s own interests in the process, Western intelligence officials say. – Politico

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia won an uncontested bid to lead a United Nations body dedicated to women’s rights for the 2025 session, bringing condemnation from human rights groups that argued that the kingdom had an “abysmal” record on women’s empowerment. – New York Times

Unemployment among Saudi citizens decreased to 7.7% in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 8.6% in the previous quarter, and from 8% in the same period a year earlier, according to government data released Thursday. – Reuters

Net inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Saudi Arabia reached 13.1 billion riyals ($3.49 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2023, up 16% from 11.4 billion riyals ($3.04 billion) in the third quarter, government data showed on Thursday. – Reuters

Gulf States

Kuwait has handed its annual $2 million contribution to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), the Kuwaiti state news agency KUNA reported on Thursday. – Reuters

President Joe Biden said Arab countries including Saudi Arabia were prepared to “fully recognize Israel” in a future deal as he and his Democratic predecessors Bill Clinton and Barack Obama pushed back on critics of his Middle East policies at a campaign event Thursday. – Bloomberg

Pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) of Iraq has given the green light to Baghdad and Ankara to eliminate the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Iraq. – Iran International

Middle East & North Africa

Israeli strikes on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo early on Friday killed 38 people including five members of Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, two security sources said, the deadliest attacks so far in an intensified Israeli campaign against Iran’s allies in Syria. – Reuters

Thousands of Jordanians rallied near the Israeli embassy on Thursday in a fifth day of large protests against Israel, calling for an end to Jordan’s unpopular peace treaty with its neighbour to the west. – Reuters

Bruised and fractured by Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in 2023 general elections, Turkey’s opposition aims to land a blow in Sunday’s local polls, with the future of its biggest hope, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, tied to the outcome. – Reuters

The dramatic replacement of Libya’s oil chief may help drive deals and revive the OPEC member’s beleaguered energy sector, but a fragmented political picture still leaves numerous hurdles for international firms to negotiate. – Bloomberg

Korean Peninsula

Russia blocked the United Nations from monitoring international sanctions against North Korea on Thursday, in a move that the U.S. and its allies said was aimed at preventing scrutiny of the growing arms pipeline between Pyongyang and Moscow. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s ambassador to Australia resigned on Friday as questions about his appointment while he is under a corruption probe battered President Yoon Suk Yeol’s ruling party less than two weeks from a closely fought parliamentary election. – Reuters

South Korea’s output of semiconductors jumped the most in 14 years in February in an indication of ongoing recovery in the country’s most important industrial sector and global tech demand. – Bloomberg


China will lift tariffs on imports of Australian wine after more than three years, marking steadily warming ties between the countries and testing the appetite of Australia’s producers to return to one of the world’s most lucrative markets. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph Wu, the foreign minister of Taiwan, said on Thursday that a halt in U.S. arms shipments to Ukraine would embolden China in its aggressions against Taiwan and fuel propaganda from Beijing that the United States is an unreliable partner. – New York Times

The United States is drawing up a list of advanced Chinese chipmaking factories barred from receiving key tools, three people familiar with matter said on Thursday, to make it easier for companies to stem technology flows into China. – Reuters

China has initiated dispute consultations with the United States regarding tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act to promote the production of electric vehicles and renewable energy, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday. – Reuters

Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed the idea that China is unable to become a multiparty democracy, saying there is no “anti-democratic” instinct in the Chinese people. – Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to visit Kazakhstan for the second time since he resumed travel abroad after the pandemic, according to the Kazakh leader. – Bloomberg

Minxin Pei writes: It will make little economic sense to keep operating in high-cost Hong Kong if they can’t count on stronger protections against arbitrary government action there.  If Hong Kong officials think passing Article 23 will assuage fears among foreign businesses, they are likely to be disappointed. The more the city’s leaders appear to be emulating their mainland counterparts, the more doubts they are guaranteed to raise. – Bloomberg

South Asia

Jalan’s companies confidentially donated millions to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, newly released records show. Jalan eventually gifted a total of $42 million to the BJP while he was under federal investigation. – Washington Post

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to prioritise completion of free trade deals with Britain and Oman in the first 100 days of the next government if he wins upcoming elections as opinion polls predict, two government sources said. – Reuters

Pakistan will set up an inquiry commission to investigate accusations by six High Court judges of interference and intimidation by the country’s powerful intelligence agencies in judicial decisions, the law minister said on Thursday. – Reuters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged India to stand by Kyiv, saying the South Asian nation’s close ties with Russia are based on a Soviet legacy that is evaporating, the Financial Times reported on Friday. – Reuters

India will send two delegations next month to Chile to scout for lithium and copper resources, a government source said, as rapid economic expansion and New Delhi’s efforts to speed up the energy transition stoke demand for critical minerals. – Reuters

Mihir Sharma writes: It must be viewed strategically, as a method of strengthening the classes in Pakistan that desire stability, not chaos, and weaning the Pakistani economy away from its dependence on China. Above all, Indian leaders from Modi on down should remember that a Pakistan focused on trade and growth will be one that’s less likely to descend into extremism and militancy. If Pakistan really is ready to climb down, India should meet it halfway. – Bloomberg


Taiwan’s navy chief, Tang Hua, will visit the United States from next week to attend a military ceremony and discuss how to boost bilateral naval cooperation as China raises threats toward the island, six people briefed on the trip said. – Reuters

The Philippines will implement countermeasures against “illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous attacks” by China’s coastguard, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Thursday, upping the stakes in an escalating row in the South China Sea. – Reuters

The U.N. Human Rights Committee said on Thursday it was concerned by extrajudicial killings in Indonesia’s Papua province, where separatists and Indonesian troops have been fighting for decades. – Reuters


An influential United Nations human rights body delivered a scathing assessment Thursday on the protection of civil rights in Britain, accusing the Conservative government of backsliding and urging the country to abandon its controversial legislation to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. – New York Times

A Paris school principal’s decision to step down after he received online death threats over an incident involving a Muslim student’s head scarf has prompted national outrage this week in France. – New York Times

Poland and Ukraine are close to an agreement on agricultural imports, the Polish prime minister said on Thursday, after intergovernmental talks in Warsaw failed to resolve an issue that has triggered protests by farmers. – Reuters

France will provide over 30 million euros ($32.41 million) to United Nations Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA this year to support its operations amid the devastating war in Gaza, said the foreign ministry in Paris. – Reuters

The head of Estonia’s military said on Thursday that his country needs to double defence spending over the next two years to stockpile enough munitions to inflict a decisive defeat on any Russian invasion force. – Reuters

Greece’s center-right government survived a motion of no-confidence late Thursday that was brought by opposition parties over its handling of the country’s deadliest rail disaster a year ago. – Associated Press


A transit accident in South Africa killed 45 people after a bus hit and plunged over the barrier of a bridge into a ravine, where it caught on fire, the nation’s transport department said Thursday. The only survivor was an 8-year-old girl, authorities said. – Washington Post

The United States warned on Thursday that it would push the U.N. Security Council to take action to get aid to starving people in Sudan, possibly by authorizing cross-border deliveries from Chad, if the Sudanese armed forces do not restore full access. – Reuters

Kenya will allow landlocked Uganda’s state oil firm to import petroleum products through its port of Mombasa, Uganda’s energy ministry confirmed on Thursday, to end a row between the two neighbours. – Reuters

The Russian mercenary group known as Wagner is helping government forces in central and northern Mali carry out raids and drone strikes that have killed scores of civilians, including many children, rights groups said in reports published this week that span the period from December to March. – Associated Press

Newly elected Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye plans to revisit the contracts of oil and gas projects developed by BP Plc, Kosmos Energy Ltd. and Woodside Energy Group Ltd. in order to boost revenue for the state. – Bloomberg

Melanie Verwoerd writes: Zuma and his MK Party have created a lot of noise in an otherwise predictable election campaign, but unless support for them grows exponentially in the next eight weeks — which seems highly unlikely — their impact on future government policy will be minimal. Unlike the ANC, observers can at least take a breath. – Bloomberg

The Americas

Gang violence has killed more than 1,500 people in Haiti so far this year, the United Nations human rights office reported on Thursday, the result of what it described as a “cataclysmic situation” in the country. – New York Times

The Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday that the trade deal which Mercosur and the European Union blocs have been negotiating looks more promising than a previous version. – Reuters

Haiti now needs between 4,000 and 5,000 international police to help tackle “catastrophic” gang violence which is targeting key individuals and hospitals, schools, banks and other critical institutions, the U.N. rights expert for the conflict-wracked Caribbean nation said Thursday. – Associated Press

Editorial: The U.S. has since renewed sanctions on Minerven. But it hasn’t said it won’t renew the oil-and-gas license it granted in October. On Wednesday it said, “As we have made clear, actions that run counter to the spirit and letter of the Barbados Agreement will have consequences.” Mr. Maduro doesn’t take this Administration seriously. – Wall Street Journal

North America

The United States will partner with Mexico to explore semiconductor supply chain opportunities, the State Department said on Thursday, as the Biden administration pushes to reduce reliance on China and Taiwan for the technology. – Reuters

A mob in the Mexican tourist city of Taxco brutally beat a woman to death Thursday because she was suspected of kidnapping and killing a young girl, rampaging just hours before the city’s famous Holy Week procession. – Associated Press

A well-known politician in the Bahamas was killed when two gunmen opened fire on a group of people while trying to rob them, police said Thursday. – Associated Press

Some 715,000 barrels of crude are due to arrive Friday at the port of Matanzas in Russia’s first oil shipment to Cuba in a year. The island is facing blackouts and food shortages that have sparked mass migration and soured the national mood. – Bloomberg

Juan Pablo Spinetto writes: At the same time, Mexico needs to start producing results in the fight against narcotrafficking and invest more in solving its own problem with irregular migrants. Admitting that fentanyl is produced in Mexico, as AMLO did on 60 Minutes, is a positive step, but much more is needed. Disputes and controversies are unavoidable given the complexity and stakes of US-Mexico relations. The trick is to try to solve them instead of passing the buck or the peso to the next government. – Bloomberg

Parker Miller writes: It will also recover some much-needed respect for American authority around the world. Seeing as one of if not the most important concerns for and sources of discontent from voters is illegal immigration, Biden would be wise to pressure Mexico to comply if he wants to have any genuinely positive decisions from his presidential term in this field to point back to. – Washington Examiner

United States

Hillary Clinton and U.S. election officials said they are concerned disinformation generated and spread by artificial intelligence could threaten the 2024 presidential election. – Wall Street Journal

Joseph Epstein writes: Daniel Patrick Moynihan might been such a president. So, too, J. William Fulbright, Robert A. Taft, or Paul Douglas. Dwight Eisenhower, whatever his shortcomings, was such a president. I wish I could supply the name of a contemporary politician who I think is qualified for the job, but, sadly, I can’t. Meanwhile, if you wish to be in touch with me about this on Nov. 5, don’t hesitate to call. I’ll be home all day. – Wall Street Journal

Alan M. Dershowitz writes: The statement was intended to be circulated among prominent pro-Israel Democrats and sent to the White House in a public release. Its goal was to make it clear that if domestic political considerations—the so-called two state solution, meaning Michigan and Minnesota—were influencing the administration’s change of attitude toward Israel, there would be a domestic political price to pay for such a change. – Wall Street Journal

John P. Walters writes: Supplying Ukraine with weapons like the ATACMS doesn’t just help Ukraine. It also puts the United States in a position to deter our adversaries. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea want nothing more than to build a world order that they will control. Providing Ukraine with the means to pursue victory is a crucial step in ensuring that they fail. – Hudson Institute


Elon Musk’s artificial-intelligence startup will launch an upgraded version of Grok, its rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, further intensifying the global AI race as interest in chatbots grows. – Wall Street Journal

C2A Security will supply a cybersecurity platform to Daimler Trucks (DTGGe.DE),  the Israeli start-up said on Thursday, marking its latest deal with automakers facing strict European regulations. – Reuters

The U.S. Department of Defense rolled out its plan to shield suppliers from digital sabotage amid growing concern about cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. – Defense News

Russian security researchers said they have discovered a new cyber-espionage group with links to Ukraine that has been operating since at least January of this year. – The Record

The Pentagon on Thursday released its first ever cybersecurity strategy to better protect its massive industrial base from hackers. The document will act as the roadmap to enhance the cybersecurity and resiliency of the supply chain, which is composed of hundreds of thousands of entities that contract directly with the Pentagon and its various components. – The Record

The White House unveiled a slate of new orders and requirements for federal agencies related to the use of artificial intelligence. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the order on Thursday, saying it is designed to “strengthen AI safety and security, protect Americans’ privacy, advance equity and civil rights”. – The Record

Liselotte Odgaard and Roslyn Layton write: The EU could clarify and amend existing law to protect fair competition and national security in shipbuilding and support European actors to create EU shipbuilding consortiums to compete with China. Member states should invoke the Article 346 exception to protect local industry when national security is at stake. Just as communications networks must be constructed with equipment from trusted providers to ensure security, so too should ships and their communications systems. – Defense News

Rob Solly and Daniel Tarshish write: But we are not there yet. Our efforts to improve decision-making with investments in data-centric tools and technology must also support a human-centric approach. In the wake of their victory in Mosul, ISIS continued towards Baghdad. It would take nine months, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the displacement of more than a million civilians, and the devastation of its infrastructure to dislodge them from the city. Today’s AI would not have saved Mosul. – Center for European Policy Analysis


The U.S. Navy is heading into a major test of a hypersonic weapon that will help determine the way ahead for a joint development program with the U.S. Army, according to the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office director. – Defense News

A Northrop Grumman official on Monday attributed the explosive projected cost growth of the U.S. Air Force’s next intercontinental ballistic missile to the service’s design changes, including to the nuclear missile’s silo and connecting cables. – Defense News

Hypersonic aircraft startup Hermeus unveiled its Quarterhorse aircraft on Thursday at its Atlanta factory where the company is preparing the vehicle for its first flight test this summer. – Defense News

Anders Fogh Rasmussen writes: We need to embrace a new mind-set. We need politicians who dare to tell the truth—including that defense and military-equipment investments are an essential element in the defense of freedom and peace. We need business and labor leaders prepared to take responsibility beyond the interests of their individual companies. Ultimately, we need a new William S. Knudsen. – Wall Street Journal

Dan Grazier writes:  If the Pentagon wants the American people to believe they have gotten their money’s worth, it should immediately declassify the latest testing report and release it publicly. After years of lofty promises about how the F-35 program would revolutionize warfare forever, it has barely limped across the full-rate production finish line. – The Hill

Long War

Nigeria’s military will free more than 300 people suspected of being part of the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency after a court ruled there was no evidence they committed any crimes, a defence spokesperson said on Thursday. – Reuters

The spokesperson for Islamic State praised the group’s attack that killed more than 140 people in a Russian concert hall near Moscow. Abu Huthaifa al-Ansari was speaking in a recorded message posted on Thursday on the militant group’s Telegram channel. – Reuters

Patrick Drennan writes: Molfar, an open-source intelligence-gathering group, goes as far as describing this as a form of ethnic cleansing. Many of these people are vulnerable to the radical Salafi teachings of ISIS. Now, after years of brutality, co-option and suppression against Muslims, Putin is sitting on a powder keg of his own making. – The Hill